It’s all too easy to compare ourselves to others and feel that we always fall short, all the while being completely unaware of someone else looking at us in the same way.
Sometimes that feeling of inadequacy and incompetence can get the better of you and you start digging up buried thoughts and emotions and tearing up any positive thoughts before they get a chance to surface.
If by chance a positive thought does manage to break through your barriers and you get a small moment of enlightenment, your thoughts get in the way and tear you straight back down again, leaving you feeling even worse than you did before. This is how we get stuck in the downward spiral of negativity, constantly wearing ourselves down and drowning ourselves in our own self doubt and loathing.
The problem with being trapped in this spiral, is that you are able to see it, feel it and acknowledge that you are bringing yourself down further, but no matter how hard you try, you just can’t get yourself out of it.
Often, in a desperate attempt to get back on the right track, people will push themselves harder and further, forcing themselves to do the things they think they should be doing and living their life in the way they think other people expect them to be living and by constantly forcing themselves to ‘soldier through’, they get even more tired and worn down than they were before, making it even harder to silence their negative thoughts and often, eventually leads to a complete meltdown.
It took me a long time to get out of my downward spiral, it was not an easy journey, but it was damn well worth every minute.
To start with, I made myself look for something good in each and every day. It didn’t have to be anything big, something as simple as a nice smell wafting from bakery as you pass. Pause, walk slower, take in a deep breath and really take in the smell, close your eyes if it helps. Who cares how many people are around. We’re all weird in our own way, might as well be weird and enjoy the moment.
It doesn’t matter if the moment you found goodness in was fleeting, or spanned over an entire evening, as long as you are able to sit down at the end of the day and remember that one good moment. This may seem so simple, but when you really try it, it’s not always as simple as it seems. Some days the moments will come to you and they will be lit up like a neon sign, other days you will have to look for them and you will be sitting there in the evening replaying the days’ events in your mind, trying desperately to find something good that you can cling to.
Eventually, it will become almost second nature for you to think of something good every day. Once you get to that stage, you can start trying to do it throughout the day, in every moment. Some moments are horrible no matter what we do, but if you take a step back and spend a little time on the sidelines, you can quite often see the good in almost any situation.
Ask yourself – What did I learn? What did I achieve? What would I do differently if I were in the same situation again? What would I do the same? How would things be different if this situation had never occurred?
Sometimes the only good thing you can find in a moment or situation is that you know that you will never allow yourself to be in that same situation again.
It will take a long time before it will become second nature for you to think of the good thing in every situation. It will take constant awareness of every situation and it can get very tiring. Just don’t push yourself too much, if it gets to be too much, go back to the finding one good thing every day and slowly work your way back up. If you are feeling drained and emotionally worn, pushing yourself to do more will most likely do you more damage than good.
It may take you a few months, or it may take you a few years (it took me almost three years to get to the stage where I could think of the good in any situation with minimal thought without getting frustrated or angry about it), but eventually finding the good in every moment will become second nature to you.
Now my goal is to do one thing to better myself or my life each and every day. That could be using the rowing machine for 1 minute longer than I did yesterday, or writing 1,000 words, reading a book that teaches me something new, or catching up with a friend I’ve not seen in a while. Even just answering all my e-mails in a day allows me to pat myself on the back for a job well done.
Find something you enjoy, or something you are good at and try to better yourself at it. Dig out all your buried dreams and ambitions and start having fun with them. No dream or ambition is 100% out of reach, no matter how unrealistic it may seem, where there’s a will, there’s a way. If you want it bad enough, you can do it and the only person you need to believe in you – is yourself! Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t – because there is no such thing as ‘can’t’.