How many times has someone said to you, “It will be ok” and you smiled because if you didn’t they’d keep talking? Do you get tired of well-intentioned friends encouraging you with “This too shall pass?” Do you just want to be left alone to feel what you’re feeling?
There are so many good people who want to help you through whatever you’re going through and you know you can rely on them. However, when we are at an all time low about our lot in life, all of the words of support and encouragement can fall flat. I know because I’ve been in some very low places and despite all the good intentions the voice in my head was just saying, “Yeah, right. You don’t understand.”
If you’re feeling that way I encourage you to go to a place where you can be alone. You need the time to think for yourself, to feel what is causing you pain and then to decide for yourself what you’ll do now or next. If you’re around others their voices will drown out your own especially if they are determined to help you. And right now you need to hear your own voice because it’s the only one you’re going to believe.
In this time of solitude allow yourself to vent out every emotion you have. You’re safe… no one can hear you and you don’t have to worry about what they might think.
I encourage you to give voice to your worst fears. Create the scenario in your head about everything that could go wrong. When Jack was first diagnosed with leukemia and then again with cancer my worst fears were that he would die and I’d be alone, broke and homeless. None of those things have happened but they were real fears to me.
If you did this with a friend they would be the first to tell you that you’re overreacting… and you are but you don’t need them to make you feel bad about yourself. (Even if they are trying to help!)
The point of this exercise is to release the fears rather than burying them. If you try to hide them or avoid them then they are always there and will come out when you need them least. Instead by exposing your fears to the light you can see them for what they are… figments of your vivid imagination.
The interesting thing about our worst fears is that 93% of the time they never come to fruition. Knowing that has helped me focus on a differently likelihood. I’ll bet my life on the lesser outcomes than I’m going to bet on the 7%. Perhaps you’re thinking that with your luck you’ll fall into the exception range. That’s your ego talking. “I’m different, I’m special, I’m the exception to the rule.” This is not a time to let your ego take over because your ego isn’t your friend… it’s your ego and you need to avoid it like you’re avoiding other people right now.
Once you have vented out your fears, sit, do nothing, and enjoy the release of those emotions. In that silence you will hear your soul’s voice… the one you’ll believe when it says to you “We’ll get through this. I have your back.” Your voice is the only one that matters when you’re dealing with your life. Everything that comes from your soul comes from a place of love, kindness and respect. And that is what you need to hear right now. And that is all you need to know. Therein lies peace.
So often I hear a client say that someone in their life expects them to screw up, to fail, or to be a disappointment. How discouraging is that? Do you feel like no matter what you do someone who is important to you automatically assumes the worst?
What ensures however is even more enlightening. As the conversation goes on it’s filled with the same “self talk.” Negative and defeatist but even more telling is that they are also assuming the worst about the others in their own life. It’s that vicious circle that undermines not only the person’s growth but also every relationship they have.
I understand what it feels like to be treated as less than. Less capable, less valuable, less, less, less. It just makes us feel like we can’t achieve our goals, find a loving relationship, the ideal job or be able to buy that home. When we feel that miserable it is reflected in our thoughts and conversations with and about others. In other words we’re paying our misery forward.
While ideally we’d like the other person to be more encouraging and supportive… they may be wishing we were. As long as no one takes the initiative we stay stuck in this Catch 22. We can’t control the behavior of anyone else but we can change our own. We can also start with being more loving to ourselves.
Throughout the day pay attention to your thoughts. Are you thinking the worst… or at least something less than the best? When you catch yourself doing so, stop, then say to yourself, “That thought isn’t working for me.” Now shift to a more encouraging thought. Here are a couple of examples:
- Shift “I’m always going to be overweight. I have no willpower” to “I’m not in the physical condition that I want to be however I can choose today to: (Fill in the blank) drink more water, eat a salad, take a walk.”
- Instead of saying “I’m never going to find my soul mate” choose to say “I will open my heart to attract the perfect partner for me.”
- Take “I can’t afford to go out with all my friends” and turn it into “I am choosing to have friends over for a potluck or BYOB.”
Each shift makes you feel better about yourself and your life. Resolve to shift your negative thoughts about yourself as often as you can. Make a game out of it and start to laugh at your former negativity. Notice how much better you feel. Now that you’re practicing so well with your own life choose to do the same for your thoughts about others. Before long you’ll notice how your energy rises and the change in those around you. It all starts with you.
Lessons in courage from an Olympian.
How many times have you found yourself starting again? Have you been knocked down by others, by circumstances, or perhaps even by your own choices? And when you’re down do you get back up and keep going or do you wonder why even try?
Let’s admit it… it’s hard to get back up. Especially if your life has been a struggle. That’s the case with Olympic Short Track Speed Skater Emily Scott. She was 7 years old when she won her first roller skating title in China. The following year her mother went to prison for methamphetamine use. Emily was raised by her dad and her mother is still in prison.
Despite her family life Emily was described as a determined child. She switched from roller skating to ice skating dedicating hours to perfecting her abilities while working at night. As she trained for the Sochi Olympics her funding was cut by 75% yet she persevered and raised over $50,000 to continue her training and send herself and her dad to Russia.
Emily failed to qualify in the 500 meter event and in the 1,500 meter a crash knocked her down and eliminated any hopes she has for a medal. Our heart breaks for every athlete who tries so hard and still comes up short. Emily however showed us courage in the face of defeat when she got back up after this crash and continued to skate even though she knew she couldn’t win. She placed 5th. The other two skaters involved in the accident didn’t even try.
We’re all going to have our “failures” in life… but as the song goes you have to “You’ve gotta get up and try try try.” Emily Scott did just that and I’m inspired by her courage against all odds. When you think your life is hard and you want to throw in the towel think about Emily and know that you too can “get up and try try try.” It isn’t the end of the world… it’s a lesson about your resilience.