“Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens.” – Khalil Gibran
Much of what we perceive as pain and suffering is self-inflicted. There are times when an event occurs in our lives and our conditioning has the tendency to tell us how we should feel about it. For example, you lose a job that you never cared much about and then you tell another person that you have lost your job. Oftentimes their automatic reaction is something along the lines of “Oh no! I’m so sorry to hear that” or “That’s terrible! What are you going to do now?” At that moment, feelings of anxiety and fear related to the situation surface or are reinforced. The situation itself is not what freaks you out, it’s the meaning that you have attributed to the situation. For instance, another way of interpreting the loss of employment could be to rejoice that you are no longer bound by a job that felt unfulfilling and you are now free to explore other options. This shift in perspective informs the way in which we respond to our changing reality.
When we find ourselves in an unfavorable position in life, we often look for who to blame for our woeful circumstance. We start wondering how we got there and who or what contributed to the negative emotional state we feel. The reality is that this blame game does nothing at all to help us, instead, it forces us to build a relationship with the past that is full of rumination and resentment. Despite popular belief, our past does not define our future. What does define our future are both our day-to-day actions, as well as a series of inaction. When we constantly favor inaction over action, we can almost always guarantee that we will be unsatisfied with what life brings to us. Additionally, there are times when our mental health becomes an overbearing obstacle blocking us from being able to objectively explore our options for action. Other times, we find ourselves atop a mountain of excuses that we build over time to justify our blatant inaction. Unfortunately, we are pretty good at convincing ourselves that each of these excuses is further evidence that our circumstances cannot be improved. If you are genuinely committed to creating the change in your life that you crave, consider the following:
Do you have a choice?
- There is always a choice. Yes, some choices bear more unfavorable consequences than others, but that does not change the fact that the choice is still yours to make. A lot of times we are afraid to choose an option that is uncomfortable or unfamiliar even if we know it is for our own good. The problem with this is that we end up limiting ourselves out of fear that another option may not work out well for us. The reality is that we will never truly know unless we give it a go. If you feel like your options are extremely limited, try making a pro and con list.
Are you actually open to changing your circumstances?
- The answer to this question says a lot about the type of changes you are presently comfortable with making in your life. Being open to change simply means that you are willing to give up your present reality for one that could look and feel totally different for you. Are you open to changing your thought process? Are you open to treating yourself (body, mind, and spirit) differently? Are you open to taking action steps immediately? If the answer to these questions is no, then give yourself some time to really examine your present life and reflect on what’s preventing you from letting go of it.
Is there room for improvement?
- Okay, so maybe you aren’t totally unsatisfied with your present life situation, but can you identify which aspect of your life needs improving? Really think about this one and use your feelings as a guide. Is there any aspect of your life that constantly produces unfavorable emotions? Recognize when someone or something makes you feel icky inside. Explore your options for improving those aspects of your life that are constantly bringing you down or just not helping you in general.
Do you have access to any helpful resources?
- Even superheroes need help sometimes. Pay attention to the help that you already have access to. What are some helpful resources in your area that can help you meet your life goals? A resource could be the internet, it could be your local community center, your employer, the government, resources could even be family or friends. A lot of the time we take our available resources for granted. For instance, many people have access to free mental health therapy through their employer and have never explored the option of contacting a therapist. Explore all of your options.
Give yourself some credit for making it to the end this post! Start today to make even the smallest adjustments in your life. Life can be absolutely filled with amazement and good vibes, but you are a large part of making that happen. Always remember this: Regardless of how you started, how you finish is always up to you.
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