Lately, I’ve been reflecting on the difference between being critical of oneself, actions or changes that need to be made and being judgemental. I believe for growth and betterment of ourselves we need to be critical. We need to think about how our thoughts, actions and goals affect our future, and how we are connecting these things with changes we need to make. Too often however we judge ourselves from an emotional bias and become angry, stressed, upset and or give up. Learning to distinguish between these two can create a much less stressful process of growth and change. Be critical. Think critically. Act critically. Do not however attach emotional judgements and labels or put yourself down when trying to change a behavior or process. Accepting our shortcomings and failures while seeing their value is being critical of how we change them in the future. This the difference between staying in the same self defeating loop and breaking free to a new path.
I wanted to start the week off talking about the moment. What moment are you in? Where in space are you living? I recently made the choice to be more aware of how I’m living my life and realized most of my thoughts and therefore energy are either in the past or in the future. I am therefore creating a predictable present. Learning to control my thoughts and my emotions connected to those thoughts has been difficult, to say the least. I am someone who likes control because I often feel like I have none. Trying to become more aware of myself has made me see that I indeed do not have much control over myself only because I haven’t been training my body and mind to stop creating chaos at all times. I like to know, beyond a shadow of a doubt. Nothing about this process is known or sure. Instead, you’re trying to live solely as much in the unknown as possible. Create the life you want from the present moment. I am always off in a thousand places, as I’m working, driving, shopping. I’m never truly here. Becoming aware of this has been scary. No wonder I live in a state of stress and fear. A quote I often see is “The past is past, let it go” and that is true. I worry most about the past and thus let it create my future and then I wonder why the future is as I predicted. Change your thoughts and change your life has become a cliche notion in the mainstream media in the last few years but it is true. Don’t just change your thoughts, change your attachments and your feelings to those thoughts. If I want to live a different life with different outcomes I have to change how I live right now, I have to be a little uncomfortable all the time. None of this is easy or even satisfying in the moment. It’s frustrating and scary but I think it’s a necessary talk we need to start having since we live in such a fast-paced and futuristic world and thus are missing out on the moments of joy and change we can create right now.
Are you able to make a 180-degree change and go in the opposite direction?
Are you able to say no to certainty and face fear and failure instead?
If the answer is yes, then you can pivot. Learning to the make the necessary adjustments and redefine your direction means you will last and survive. People who get stuck on one track or sink into the comfort of certainty may for a short while find the means to their end but then the end comes.
Be willing to give up on one path and trust that although you can’t see the path you’re turning around for it’s there and it will be solid under your feet if you choose to take the step.
I was talking to a friend today about a situation that I just can’t seem to completely remove myself from or have removed from me. I said I was aware that my actions often backslid myself into the position I didn’t want to be in and I had two choices: 1. do things how I usually do them, which is to make continual, slow and griding process-up the mountain 3 steps forward 4 steps back or to stop walking completely and just sit with it. Sit with it until it’s gone, until it means nothing, until it means everything. She noted that that is obviously, short-term the much harder option but long-term the less exhaustive option. Sitting with it is what we are least likely to do, we will do anything to avoid having to deal with pain, the suffering, the anguish head-on with no distractions. We live in a culture that does not value the time it takes to do this or the willpower and decisiveness. And that is why I think sitting with it is always the answer.
Fear has become a fascination for me. I’m constantly afraid. Afraid of not fitting in, afraid of fitting in, afraid of never succeeding, afraid of actual success. All this fear keeps me trapped in this tiny cramped bubble of nothing so I’ve started searching for fear. Anything that makes me uncomfortable? Let’s go do it! Let’s talk to the person we’re intimidated by, let’s try something that we know we are going to be judged for (and stick with it for 6-12 months). I don’t choose to look at fear as something negative, it’s really there just trying to keep me safe. It doesn’t realize that we don’t live a thousand years ago and now, staying in is the thing that will kill us not the opposite. I think that’s why so many more people struggle now with fear and change-we have to work against our natural biology to succeed. We no longer live in a world where we have to be physical and go out and the world pushes our boundaries. Our boundaries are here, they live with us in our homes and cars, on our laptops and phones. We don’t have to search any more because we have everything. So now the challenge is, we have to actively search to make ourselves afraid because when we are afraid we’re working, we’re fighting, we’re pushing our boundaries. It’s ironic how things being easier actually makes them harder.
Most people say that regret is a bad thing. I would disagree. Regret is an amazing motivator. If you’ve ever sat with the elderly and asked them what they would have done differently they will give you a list of things they wish they’d spent more time on. Living a regret-free life isn’t just accepting that “it was meant to be” it’s being proactive. That fear of missing out, not taking the chance, not going for what you want should motivate you to want to not look back at sixty, seventy, eighty and say I wish I’d done it differently.
We have one chance to get it right. You can’t get that time back once it’s gone and I can guarantee the fear of failure and the fear of being uncomfortable are so much less than the fear of seeing what could have been.
When people ask you, “hey so how was your day, did you have a good day?” what do you usually tell them? So and so did this, this and that happened and yeah I guess it was good or no it wasn’t that great. Have you ever stopped to think though, why was I unhappy or happy based on any of those things or people? Because you (and I) gave our happiness to them and said here, “make me feel better” and then we were probably disappointed. I am one of the worst at this!! (I say one of the worst but I ought to say, it’s something I am learning to do better-positive reframing y’all, lets get it done). I let people and situations sway my happiness, sway my peace of mind every day all day. And for what, what am I getting out of it. Nothing! Nothing at all and neither are you. This has become such an ingrained habit, so unconscious that I barely notice it most of the time. My mood swings left and right and up and down depending on my dogs, how easy it was to find the things I needed at the hardware store, whether my significant other is in a good mood. I’m sacrificing my calm and literally throwing it on a trash pile, setting it on fire and going “I wonder why I’m so unhappy all the time”. We as a culture do this as well. We are consumers of almost every category looking for that moment of joy or fulfilment before we allow ourselves to be thrown into the waves, treading water in our own self-made mediocrity and anguish. There is no magic cure, no program to getting out of this way of life. It’s literally 2 steps-notice and stop. Notice that you’re giving your happiness away to this person or that thing and stop it. Take it back, say “I’m not going to spend 2 or even 10 minutes upset by this”. Trust me, no one and nothing deserves your happiness, joy or contentment more than you do.