Life is hard.
I struggle just as much as the next person to put on a happy face sometimes. I’ve been through one of the most stressful years of my life. And not even like, oh, work is busy, kids are busy, running around everywhere type of stuff. Like honest to goodness stress… feelings of anxiety that won’t go away, loss of appetite, moments of fear that literally leave me unable to concentrate.
I have a few friends that have supported me and have pulled me out of the ditch. And if we are being really honest, there are times I don’t want to be pulled out. I don’t want to pretend to be happy. I don’t want to “put on a smile” and brush off the emotions. I want answers. I want things fixed. And I want it now.
But I’ve also noticed that when those negative things are perpetuated or constantly fed to me (from my own head), the deeper I seem to fall. “Woe is me, life is hard, I suck, I’m terrible… blah blah.” It’s cyclical. It never stops. It keeps going… if we let it.
So what do I do? I vent. I write. I journal. I even cry sometimes. I let myself feel the emotion… and then I pull myself out. I literally say, “I hate that (fill in the blank)…. BUT, I need to keep focusing on (fill in the blank).” It’s ok to feel anger/sadness/frustration, but it’s when it takes over does it become a problem. If you find yourself giving those excuses every day (“I’m so stressed”, “I’m just not good at this”, “I’m so ______ “) then guess what your life is going to be like?
Zig Zigler and Tony Robbins are onto something. Perhaps you think of Stuart Smalley when you repeat “I am good enough” quotes in the mirror. But… the mind is plastic. It can change. Synapses, neurons, responses, stimulations… just as we have learned information over our lifetime, those things are well-embedded because we have used it over and over. Changing our attitude, how we see ourselves, and having a positive outlook are learned things. It doesn’t mean that every day will be rainbow butterfly unicorn kittens. But it does mean you can change your brain.
In order to change, something does need to hit you across the face. While a bitch slap may be in order, it’s more like being dissatisfied with your current situation. Whether that’s mentally or where you’re at in life. That is what most people get uncomfortable with. Being able to admit that is difficult. We feel that when we say “I’m unhappy with where I’m at” that it means we are unhappy with who we are.
Not true. Wherever you’re at in life (job struggle, divorce, kids, not strong enough, not thin enough, overweight, underweight, broke, break-up, relocating, good day, bad day) does not dictate who you are. See the difference? Your situation may be one of those things, but who you are is much more than that. And that’s where changing your mindset comes in.
And the things that are out of our control are really tough. Those situations are often the hardest because we can’t fix them ourselves. BUT, we can still work to change our brain. We can still work to separate the situation from who we are as a person.
I can’t tell you how you need to change your brain. Every situation is different, every person’s story and background will vary. External encouragement is always nice. In fact, I’ve had a few people over the past few weeks tell me how happy I look, how much I’ve grown as a person and how much I show my confidence now. If that doesn’t light up your world….
But at the same time, I can’t always rely on extrinsic factors to change my brain. I need to learn how to dig deep and do it myself. One day when my mind was a bit all over the place, I decided to take a bunch of silly selfies and send them to my BFF. Normally, I would wait for that person to reach out to me and make ME feel better. But in actuality, it felt good to be silly… AND I knew my pics would make them smile as well. So perhaps a two-birds-with-one-stone tactic. But regardless, I pulled myself out and smiled.
Are the issues and fears and life situations still there? Of course. They won’t go away overnight. But at least I was better able to face my emotions and change my brain. And now I’m even thinking more clearly as well.
It’s not easy. Changing your brain is difficult, especially when we feel things like fear, hurt, anger and anxiety. But the outcome is worth it. Keep fighting for it.
(A few books that I enjoyed reading were Gifts of Imperfection, Daring Greatly, and See you at the Top)