Bring Your Brave: Change Your Outlook
I might have called today's post "change your outlook and your inlook," because really we are talking about both the way you see the world around you, and the way you see what's within yourself, for the two go hand in hand. This requires a lot of introspection. Get your coffee first, and even more importantly, bring your brave!
The way we experience life is completely determined by the way we approach it. On one hand, we have the ability to design our lives the way we want - our homes, our clothes, our friends, our careers... But on the other hand, things do not always go the way we want them to. Maybe you're single and wish to goodness you weren't. Maybe your beloved dog died last year and you're so lonely without a furry friend but you can't bring yourself to get a new dog because you want your dog. Maybe your coffee tastes wrong this morning and your kid is throwing up. Maybe you have been passed over for the promotion you thought had your name all over it. Maybe your mother is ill. Maybe you had to spend your vacation savings on new tires. Man, this could be the longest list ever.
Anyway. We have the ability to determine which direction is "our way," but there are detours and route changes along the way. Siri is yelling at you to "proceed to the route" and you, just, can't.
So then what?
Ask yourself, what's best for you? In some cases, pressing on may be the best option. You intended to lose 20 pounds and every time you drop five you pick it up again. Give up the goal or create a new plan to reach your goal? New plan! You didn't get the promotion you were promised. Wait another year in a role that's lost its luster, or start talking with other companies who may see something in your that your own boss has seemed to overlook? It might be time for a change. It may turn out that new company thinks you're a rock star in your field, and keeps their fridge stocked with cold-pressed juice and greek yogurt. (Or has a ping pong table in the break room. Whatever. Fun looks different to everyone.)
Are you facing any road blocks now? Take a moment to think (or even better - write) through what's blocking your way, why the destination matters to you, and whether it's best for you to find a way around or through that road block (even if you can't find the way right away, today, you can set your purpose to find that solution), or to change your destination.
Sometimes the things that don't go our way in life require us to grieve. A lost loved one, a serious injury, a lost job or home, financial troubles, divorce... It's not always easy to just shift your focus and move on, is it? In those stages of life, allow grief to be what it needs to be. In a word, messy. Grief is terribly messy. The stages of it occur out of order and without warning. The whole thing takes its own amount of time. It can make you feel out of control, lost, or like a whole other person that doesn't much resemble yourself. This is necessary. Let it be.
If you need to, talk to someone. Talk to a professional, an old friend who knows and loves you well, or a new friend who empathizes and feels safe to you. Don't berate yourself. "Why am I not better," "Why can't I handle this, "and, "Why, oh God, has this happened to me," are questions you will continue to ask but that have no answers. Be gentle with yourself. Let it be.
There will come a day, completely unforeseen, when suddenly you feel a little more like you again. When you kind of do want to leave the house. When you laugh at something. When you can think of days and weeks ahead and not crumple at the thought of hours ahead. When you want to start doing things you love to do again. It doesn't mean the thing you lost is any less important to you. It doesn't mean you won't still feel sad. It doesn't mean you aren't changed by the experience. But it means you're out of the thick of it and - big one - this is the point at which, if you ignore the urges to go out or laugh a little or stock your freezer with something other than ice-cream, you're wallowing. You cannot allow grief to turn into wallowing. You can make the best of your dark hole for a time, but when a ladder drops down, you must choose to climb out.
This is, again, the place where what you can control and what you can't must coexist. Just don't confuse the two.
I dare say this is the most important thing we'll talk about today. Your inlook, the way you see yourself, is the lens you see the world through. If you believe yourself to be weak, incapable, limited, inadequate, or a hundred thousand other negative false perceptions, you will be much less equipped to shake off the things that don't go your way, to process your grief in a healthy manner, to make the best choices you are able to make, to appreciate and celebrate the good things as they ought to be celebrated, and to love others well.
I'll say that again. If you do not love and care for yourself well, you will be unequipped to love and care for others. This is not selfish. It's necessary. Set a timer (there's one on your iPhone) for one minute and write/type all the things you can think of off the top of your head that you don't like about yourself. (This isn't hard - your inner voice whispers them to you all the time.) Muffin top, when others think of me as malleable, my voice when I hear it played back to me, I feel tired too often, the bump on my nose, the days I procrastinate, when I'm not a good listener, that I don't love to cook like I think I should (or like I think others think I should)...
When the timer goes off, go line by line and write whether this thing is not actually true, or if it is, what you can do to change it. Some may be both. For example, I can lose the muffin top but in the meantime it's also something I can deem as "not true" because I'm beautiful and fit and healthy anyway. When others think of me as malleable? This isn't true - I am strong and decisive. I just don't always choose to show that because it's not always vital to argue a point. (And who cares what others think, right?!) My voice? Well, I can improve my public speaking skills but not my voice itself. And so on.
The things you can't change? Let them go. There's way to much else to celebrate in life, and other things to improve upon. No time or energy for the unchangeable. The things you can change? Get to it! Work hard at it, but have kindness and grace on your journey. The same is true with all the goals you're setting this week. Use this "change it or get over it" process anytime your self-talk turns negative.
One last inlook practice. Set your timer for a minute and write down everything that comes to mind that you love about yourself. When the timer goes off, read it over and remember that you are just as incredible as it sounds. You're beautiful, strong, smart, kind, and capable.
Now go approach the world from that place.