Sometimes when we feel lost we go into self-loathing mode and it’s hard to snap out of it. But feeling low does nothing productive for our state of disarrangement. So, we must actively manage our thoughts to prevent getting stuck in the abyss of dissatisfaction.
In my personal life, so much has happened in the past four months – more than many people experience in a year. I got overwhelmed, realized I was far away from where I wanted to be, and decided to make some changes. Consequently, I’m disappointing many people.
But, as they say, we can’t please everyone. How painfully true.
Through my experiences so far this year, I’ve learned some things that will (hopefully) stick with me for the rest of my life (so that I don’t have to keep learning them over and over again as I usually do).
Maybe you’re feelin’ me right now, or maybe you’ve got all your ducks in a row. Either way, I hope sharing these five life lessons that I learned can help turn on a light bulb for you, give you the courage to make tough decisions, and remind you of what’s most important in your life.
1. Don’t make things bigger than they need to be.
I think big. Real big.
That’s a good thing, but often I get overwhelmed to the point that my brain shuts down.
The hubs knows this far too well.
When we make things bigger, more important, more urgent, more critical than they really are or need to be, we are essentially masking reality with a glorified version of it. We turn reality into fantasy land and it gets to be a bit too much.
Instead of tumbleweeding into making every moment epic, turning minute tasks into grandiose gestures, and finding substantial meaning in absolutely everything, we must actively work on finding a balance between thinking outside of the box and working within our spacetime continuum.
It’s that whole “head in the sky, feet on the ground” concept. (I’m so bad at it.)
2. It’s okay to give 80%.
“Always give a hundred and ten percent” is a slogan I so frequently heard growing up that it’s ingrained in my being.
It’s good to work hard and live life to the fullest, but I definitely go overboard and apply this ethic to every aspect of my life all the time.
The result? Exhaustion and brain shutdown.
These days, instead of 100%, let alone 110%, I’m working on only giving 80% of myself.
I practiced this first while teaching. Teaching at any level is very energy consuming and leaves me feeling drained, used up, with minimal overall affect on the world.
I enjoy teaching, but as all teachers know, the work I put into it doesn’t completely convert to student progress, and I’m primarily the one who suffers.
So, the past couple weeks I’ve been giving 80% instead of the usual 100% or 110%.
And you know what happened? My energy levels were normal the rest of the day. I got so much more done, met up with some friends, and spent quality time with the hubs.
I’ll admit, there was a bit of guilt about not giving it my all, all the time. But I realized that guilt was rooted in caring too much what people think. And I realized that nobody thinks any different of me.
3. People don’t notice that I’m giving 80%.
None of my students noticed that I wasn’t giving them 100% of myself during lecture, and it didn’t affect their learning.
My manager had no clue that I wasn’t pouring my heart and soul into every word I wrote for an online training course, and it didn’t affect the quality of my work.
My friends thought nothing of my absence at social events, they just missed me a little and went on with their evening.
It’s not that no one cares about me, it’s just that no one really notices when I don’t give 100% or 110% of myself. No one really expects that much.
What a relief!
It’s such a load off my shoulders to know that I don’t have to be perfect, the best, number one, on the ball, all the time, no matter what. I can just be average or above average and that’s A-OK.
It’s like in school, when we know it’s important to strive for the highest, but we also recognize that Bs are still above average grades.
It’s not lowering our standards to accept Bs, but accepting that Bs are not equivalent to Fs (or Es, as my dad got once when we was a kid…apparently he did so bad on a test the teacher couldn’t even fail him…oh, Pops…).
4. When I focus on the people I love the most, everything else falls in line.
My husband is my everything. We’ve been through a lot and have grown so much by sharing our lives with each other.
By making things bigger than they need to be, giving too much of myself to too many people, and caring what people think, I realized that I was putting other people and lofty dreams way before our relationship the past couple months.
Other people and my dreams are super duper important, but not worth letting our relationship slip.
I find that when I focus on the top five things in my life – the five things that are most important to me – all is well in my itty bitty world.
And the first thing on my list is my family. That includes my hubs, parents, closest relatives, and long-time friends.
Clearly identifying these people makes it so much easier to appropriately prioritize what’s most important.
5. I am great.
Of course there’s always plenty of room for improvement, but overall I’m pretty awesome.
And that’s not conceited, selfish , arrogant, or inappropriate to say.
There’s nothing so wrong with me that a little TOPUCU and yoga sesh can’t fix.
That being said, mistakes, setbacks, other people’s wrongful judgments of me, and terrible fashion choices don’t define me and don’t negate all the good stuff I’ve done or where I’m going.
It hard for us to believe that sometimes, especially when we’re feeling low. But self-assurance is vital to emotional survival and must be a priority in our thinking.
My mom and I decided that the planets must have been in some messed-up alignment last month. Mom, me, and many people we talked to seemed to be lost, down, confused, and unsure of themselves. It seemed self-doubt was going around like the plague.
Regardless of where you are at right now, there’s always going to be times when you feel like you have no idea what the *bleep* you’re doing in life or why you’re doing it.
It’s okay. Just take a couple breaths, remove yourself from the things that confuse you, and look at your life objectively.
Think about the top five most important things in your life. Are your daily actions in-line with your top five things? Or are you spending time and energy on stuff that has nothing to do with your top five?
You may have some tough decisions to make. You may have to disappoint some people to get back on track. But just remember: you are great.
You have one life. It’s not selfish to live it for you – it’s necessary.