How many times have you decided that enough is enough, that this time you are finally going to: lose weight, change jobs, move house, leave your partner… Or some other declaration of needing a change in your life, because what you have right now is simply not working for you?
Perhaps you make the change and everything is rosy for a while, but then you notice that you’re starting to feel the same way again. That what you have is no longer satisfying; that what you thought would bring you happiness is no longer making the grade?
There is a saying: "Where-ever you go, there you are". Which roughly means that if you don’t really like yourself, or have not made peace with your own internal conflicts – then you will end up dealing with the same baggage time and time again until you sort yourself out. It doesn’t matter what external factor you change in your life: your job, where you live, your partner… The common denominator regardless of what you do, or wherever you go – is still you.
Changing your external environment is not going to change who you are. Your life may change in small ways, but you won’t. Your own beliefs and values control how you ultimately feel about yourself. If you don’t value yourself, then others won’t either. If deep down you believe you aren’t worthy of love, a decent job, or to be treated fairly by others – then you might find that people continue to treat you badly and you are never offered that promotion you really want.
Learn to develop your own self-esteem; know that you are worthy of love, of good things and have a right to be comfortable in your own skin without any apology for what you look like or how you choose to live your life. Accept other people and places for all their beauty and their flaws, not requiring anything to be anything in particular – knowing that regardless of the outcome, everything is as it should be. The trick is to cultivate an attitude of not minding what happens. This doesn’t mean you don’t care about what happens – it means that you aren’t tied to specific outcomes and then become upset if they don’t happen.
Having expectations of how things should or shouldn’t be only creates misery when they don’t turn out the way you think they should. No-one can control what other people think or do, but we can control our own reaction to what they say and do. We have choice over our own attitude, and we can choose not to be bothered. We can choose to protect our own peace and to just let it go…
Know the difference between the facts of the matter, and the story we tell ourselves about the event. At what point do the facts turn into a story? Take this example: You arranged to meet your friend for coffee. She is a few minutes late. This is the fact – she is late. But you go on to make up a story… She’s forgotten, she’s had a car accident, she doesn’t like you anymore, or she got a better offer and changed her mind and didn’t let you know. Before long you have worked yourself up into a state; so much so that when your friend does arrive you berate her for not being considerate and letting you know that she was running late. What should have been pleasant anticipation of seeing your friend becomes tainted by the completely false story you told yourself.
How many times have you created stories about events that never happen? You’ve run through scenarios of what might happen, or have gone over past events, replaying them many times with different outcomes – creating whole conversations in your mind, thinking of all the things you should’ve said – but didn’t…
What use does any of this serve? If you’re practising a presentation or a speech – then certainly playing an event or different scenarios over in your mind before the actual event is good planning. But if there is no presentation, then all you’re doing is creating stories which could make you upset.
Become aware of the moment a fact starts to become a story – become the observer, watch your own reactions, gently pull yourself back when you start creating an unhelpful story. Accept the facts just as they are and resist creating the story. Ask yourself: Is this/that really true? Really? Or is it a story I’m telling myself?
If you want some help to recognise your own unhelpful stories, or to identify which of your beliefs are no longer helpful – then give me a call!