How do we know when we have given up on ourselves? When we accept the status quo of our lives and resign to the idea that things will never change or get better. Stepping outside of the familiar can be a scary place to be, especially when we feel that we have attempted that in the past with failing results, sub-par success and/or not being able to maintain the change that we worked so hard for.
In an article written by: Vanessa Smith, MA, CLC (2010), it examines the idea of making you matter to you. She brings forward five tips for discovering your worth.
We will break these down in a bit. How we feel about ourselves is directly related to our health, how we communicate with others, how we take care of ourselves, how effective we are in our careers and how open we are to life changes. In order to make any change we have to believe in our ability to make that happen. It is a commitment to bettering our lives. But first we have to ask the questions “Do I deserve this?” “I’m I worthy?” “Do I believe that I will succeed?”
If we don’t feel like we deserve to be happy, it just won’t happen. Feeling fulfilled, feeling accomplished, taking ownership of your life...that is happiness. When we believe in ourselves, when we can let go of our attempts in the past and move into a new place, you are opening up a whole new world of possibilities.
So, let’s go over these tips...
WHAT ELSE IS TRUE?
Our memory can be selective. Ever notice how it is much easier to remember the bad stuff? We need to ask ourselves...what else is true? Remember feeling good about yourself sending out resumes and feeling accomplished, impressing yourself in an interview, meeting new people, feeling energized after a great workout. All of those things are true (or some version) as well. The good and the bad will come together, but looking at the flip side and making the choice to look at the other side for a change is what will make the difference this time around.
HOW DO WE STAY THERE?
First, is this something you have tried before? If it is, moving into a place of reality of what really happened and figure out why the results did not turn out as expected. Think about it, really think about it. Let’s say the change was a new job. How were you feeling about yourself? Were other things happening in your life as well that were dragging you down? Did you have the energy to commit? Where you organized? What messages where you sending to yourself at the time? It is common to strive for a change but if your internal dialogue is off you find yourself going in circles. For example, you vocally may be saying “I can do this” but inside the message is “You have tried this before you and have failed. Who are you kidding? You can’t do this!” When we can see the big picture and look at things from a place of logic it is much clearer. You want to make sure that you have the space and the proper mindset to commit to the change. So, get clear.
Put a plan together of how you want to accomplish this. If you are looking to lose weight, put a diet and exercise plan together, if you are wanting a new job commit to sending out a certain amount of resumes each week, etc. Then finally set up accountability for yourself. This can be a friend, a family member, your coach. You can have more than one person if you feel that would help. This is called a support system.
When choosing people for your support system, pick someone that you know will support you no matter what. Pick someone that will champion you in your goal. Share your plan with that person and set up a communication with them. For example, “I will be working out every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. After each work out I will text you to confirm that I have done this. If you don’t hear from me, contact me to check in.” Ask this person if they are interested in helping you in this way, if not, no big deal. Not everyone is comfortable in that role.
SHIFT YOUR PERCEPTION
The author recommends that you pick a corner of any room and stand there. Look around. What do you see? What stands out? Now stand in another corner. Repeat the steps in all four corners. The idea here is that people tend to view their experience from the same perspective. When you physically move your body and pay attention to how your perception shifts, you are training your brain to find other ways of looking at life in general. Now, this may sound hokey or amazing. Try it either way, just to switch things up and see what happens. We live in a metaphorical box at times. We are used to seeing the world from the same place and that is what we expect it to be. It is like going into a coffee shop and you are used to the employees being super friendly. But what happens one day you get up to the counter expecting smiles and pleasantries and the guy is a total dud. The perception is shifted. You come out of your box a bit and say “What was that?” Some might refer to these as mindsets, they can also be seen as expectations. The idea is that we need to be open to possibilities, and carry that around with us. So how do we do this?
It is again making a choice to come outside of the box and throw it away. We can’t control what others do, only ourselves. We don’t have control of the outside world or in everything that happens. What we can control is our attitude and our reaction. We can choose to have a negative reaction to the dud employee and let that effect our mindset, our mood for the moment or blow it off remembering that you can’t control him and on the flip side he can’t control you. Not everything is as it seems sometimes. We live in a world that is not black and white. So when we make the choice to shift our perception of anything remembering that is key. You can look at anything with a glass half empty approach or the glass is half full. It is your choice. So again, how do we do this?
Become aware of your attitude, your reactions, your moods, your outlook, etc. Carry around a little notebook with you and track throughout the day where you are at emotionally. For example, writing down that you woke up happy, after the coffee incident you were annoyed, at lunch feeling pensive, driving home feeling happy again, etc. At the end of the day going over your list and thinking about what was happening in those moments where your emotions were shifting. Repeating this exercise can assist in you gaining control of your attitudes and also bring awareness to what changes or shifts need to be made in your perception of your day to day living.
The Three Magic Phrases. Repeat after me, “I love myself. I forgive myself. I set myself free.” These three magic phrases, in the article, apply to all situations. Do you ever say mean things to yourself? Do you have a room full of regrets? Do you frequently feel angry or depressed? Whenever you disrespect yourself or someone else, there is hatred instead of love, anger instead of forgiveness, and you are connected to that experience. The author encourages us to make amends, love yourself, forgive yourself and others, and set yourself free. These are all very good points. Certainly hanging onto anger and regret will prevent us from moving forward and being successful. Having an internal dialogue that is self-defeating is not going to help us one bit. Being able to forgive ourselves from past errors in judgement is a necessity in progressing. Breaking from the past in order to create the future we are seeking.
How do we accomplish this? How do we forgive ourselves for making that move, not accepting that job opportunity, gaining weight back, or even saying something mean about your ex’s new girlfriend? In order to change your internal dialogue, you first need to be able to hear it. We are not always paying attention to the messages that are going on inside, we tend to have an automatic mute button, when the nasty words come out. As with most things, creating an awareness around your inner voice is the beginning of that. Turn off the mute button. Get rid of it. The voice will be there anytime you are attempting something new, challenging, difficult and especially something that you have tried before without success. For example, I was working with a client, she was saying that she was going to go work out later in the day and we were setting up accountability. As soon as she said those words, she paused and let me know that the voice inside was saying “You know you are not going to go.” With her being able to hear the inner voice and then share that information she became aware of the negative messages and eventually learned how to push through them.
How do we forgive ourselves? I prefer the letter writing approach. It is a fun and cathartic exercise. Write yourself a letter of all the things that you are hanging on to. Apologize to yourself, it may read like this: “I am sorry that I did not seize that opportunity to move out of state when I had the chance. I was scared and I see that now.” In order to forgive we need to be able to accept that during those times the decision could not have been any different. The older we get, the wiser we get, the more growing we do. It is easy to look back with the knowledge that you have now and think I should have done this, I should have not said that, however, you did not know that information/knowledge/perspective when it was happening. Forgiving yourself and setting yourself free from the past, will give you the clean slate necessary to move forward.
USE YOUR AUTOMATIC TOOLS
What is an automatic tool? We all have them, they are techniques to help us deal with life. Like, taking a deep breath before an interview and/or stepping away to collect yourself during an argument. These are ways that we take care of ourselves. Knowing what works for us during times of stress, frustration and/or depression Figuring out what works for you is an easy process. Ask yourself, recall what you like to do during these times? What works? Maybe napping, talking on the phone with a friend, going for a walk, cooking, shopping, exercising, cleaning, redecorating. Taking care of ourselves is key. The knowing what works for you is not the only step, the other one is accepting and understanding that it is okay to feel the way you are feeling. It is normal. Everyone goes through ups and downs in their moods, feel stress, aggravated, frustrated, and sad. Knowing what works for you during these times will decrease the amount of time you are in that space.
“I’ll see it when I believe it”. Have you ever said “I’ll believe it when I see it?” The truth is the opposite, until we believe it is possible, you won’t see it. Imagine living one hundred years ago, you have thought it was possible to put a man on the moon or to have computers in every home, or have the internet? These are all things now that are accepted in our everyday lives. Believing you can accomplish whatever you set your mind to is the most important part of all. If you don’t believe that you will find a job that you love, than you won’t. If you don’t believe that you will meet someone that you will be happy with, than you won’t. If you don’t believe that you will drop that last 10 pounds, than you won’t. Looking at your life and believing that whatever you put your mind to is possible keeps you motivated, gives you the purpose to keep going, keep striving.
The whole idea here is to go for it. Whatever it is. Let go of your past, believe in your abilities and talents, be kind to yourself. Hopefully, the information above will help you make the changes you seek!