Have you ever found yourself thinking to yourself: “Self: Why is my life such a *mess*? How did I get here? Where did the all the people important to me disappear to? HOW did my schedule get SOOOO hectic that I don’t have ANY time for fun?”
And have you THEN thought (perhaps by sheer dumbness) “Self: you are doing the right thing. Work is everything. People come and go. Fun is overrated. Happiness is an illusion.”
If this conversation sounds familiar… read on….
You are the product of the all of the decisions you have made in your life. Ha! Think about THAT! Sure… stuff happens that you have no control over…. BUT you control how you deal with it… react to it… cope with it. So you are still responsible for where you are at. Which is a GOOD thing when you are winning a Nobel Prize. And a HARD thing to admit when you are not living the life you want.
GOOD NEWS! It is never too late to start making BETTER DECISIONS and change your life around. It can be challenging, and take time. But it is possible. First step is to adjust HOW you think about your life.
Listen to yourself
Sometimes it is tempting to blame what happens to you on other people… how your parents raised you, on your co-workers, on your friends….. or you can blame society, the government or the universe in general. This is an AVOIDANCE tactic. We do this to avoid having to look at OURSELVES and make a change…. because, dang it all, that takes WORK! And its easier just to blame. You might feel good for five minutes of blaming when someone says “yeah! you were wronged”. But the problem with the boring-old-blame is that it doesn’t actually FIX anything. So you will be blaming people/things/places/God for the rest of your life. SOMETIMES UNHAPPINESS IS A GOOD THING! It can be a *sign* that we need to FIX something in our life or ourself. So you have to look INWARDS and listen to yourself and figure out WHAT the problem is. You may have to admit things to yourself you don’t want to, but it will be worth it. The answer will be clear once you truly understand the question.
Take responsibility for your actions
Have you ever turned down a dream job because your boyfriend told you it didn’t pay enough? Or have you worn a totally wrong outfit because your friend suggested it? Did you later blame them for missing out on an opportunity, or being the only one is a velour jumpsuit at a house party? Well too bad…. because it was still YOU who turned down that job. It was still YOU that clad your body in velvet. You had a choice. People will try to influence, for better or for worse…. but what every you end up doing is because YOU CHOSE it. This is alarming at first. But incredibly empowering once you embrace it.
Lose some ego… and get some self!
If you get the SAME feedback from a number of people… chances are their is some truth in it. It may not be what you want to hear… but if you loose the ego and appreciate the feedback as a chance to improve yourself… great things will happen. Ego can block self-discovery. But lack of self worth can hurt you too! You don’t want to accept people treating you badly because you lack a sense of self. Pride can be your best or worst weapon so learn to know when it is a STRENGTH and when it is IN THE WAY.
Apologize or forgive
If you are in a conflict situation apologizing or forgiving can help you move on . Once you’ve swallowed your pride and made an important realization about yourself and how your decisions have impacted another, try speaking the things you are truly sorry for. Listen to the other side of the story and focus on *understand* their point of view… not DEFENDING yours. If after an objective analysis however, you were NOT the one on fault then it is often better just to forgive and forget. If you stay angry, you are only damaging yourself and throwing good time and energy after bad. Try doing something physical like taking yoga as a good way to calm yourself and distract yourself.
Move on or just move
If you unhappy because you are still shattered from being rejected or hurt by somebody you truly cared about, you should focus on LETTING go of the need for “closure” or to “be understood” or “be heard”. Chances are none of that is possible anyway, so pining for it only makes things WORSE. Let go. Moving on is not easy or an overnight thing…. so if you can’t move on right away…. you can always just move. A change of scenery does wonders. Or at least change up some of your habits… go to new restaurants… new clubs… new jogging route, try a new hobby. Cleanse the palette of life with new experience!
Ask for help or believe in yourself
If you find yourself crying a lot, it is probably from a feeling of powerlessness. It might be a sign that you need HELP to solve the problem. In the tough times it is normal to feel overwhelmed. Admitting that you need help is not a sign of weakness but a sign that you are focused on fixing the situation. These are what our family and friends and even professionals are for. If you are already VERY dependent on others then BELIEVING IN YOURSELF and working on your independence could be the key to self-improvement. This is why diagnosing the problem HONESTLY is so important. Do you need more self-reliance? Or do you need to be more open to a helping hand? Only you can know for sure.
Find inspiration and learn learn learn…
Art has been a part of civilization since the dawn of time for a reason! Songs, movies, plays, comedy, visual art, novels….. are there to STIMULATE you, INSPIRE you and help you discover yourself and see the world in a new light. Nothing is as stimulating as DOING something so seek out the things that make you happy and sparks your soul, inspiring you to keep loving life. Talk to people. Be observant. Take a class. Gather information and ideas from wherever you can. Life is a never ending opportunity of learning.
Diet can affect mood more than we realize. If you feel anxious or depressed a lot, or have mood swings often, look at what you are eating. Do you eat a lot of sugar or fast carbs? Do you get enough protein? Do you take a multivitamin? Sugar and bad carbs can spike your mood then crash it. A lack of omega-3 in your diet affects how clearly you think. If you are eating a lot of junk food, you might feel low energy or sluggish. Do some research and fix your diet. And exercise. That might be all it takes to feel happy again!
Happiness is a choice. Happy people are happy no matter WHAT life throws at them… even the bad stuff. Unhappy people are unhappy even when things are going well. This is because anyone can DECIDE to be happy at any time. It’s a state of mind. And it’s a choice. So choose it. Don’t look for excuses to fail… but REASONS TO SUCEED!
Life really is short and so we all need to take charge of our own approach to life for us to be happy. I’ll leave you with the words of Bon Jovi and Frank Sinatra, “It’s my life and it’s NOW or NEVER”… so I Did It Myyyyyyyyyy Waaaaayyyyyyyyyy”.
Edited / co-written by Jackie English
Have you ever had to give yourself some tough self-love?