The world officially said good-bye to 2015. While many people are welcoming the New Year with open arms, I am simply saying, “hello” to it with a bit of skepticism and a whole lot of courage. I also am saying “hello” to my 2016 self with a bit of tenderness and a whole lot of kindness. Again, I wish my 2016 self oodles of luck. I would be setting myself up for failure if I went into this year saying that “it’s going to be different then last.” Instead, I am going to say, “fasten your seat belt Nichole because it’s going to be a roller coaster ride.” We are only 4 days in and I can tell it’s going to be a bumpy ride with lots of twists and turns.
One thing I concluded about myself in 2015 is that I am not very kind to myself; I let actions of others bring me down and affect me way more then I should. I also worry too much and I certainly didn’t practice self care. That reality surely made life more difficult, less enjoyable and more stressful then it had to be. I’m ready to take a shot at modifying some of these things. Awareness of what needs to change can truly be a powerful thing. So, I have news for my 2016 self: SELF CARE IS IMPORTANT AND IT’S TIME I PRACTICE WHAT I PREACH. Although I don’t typically set resolutions, it is my goal to work on self care this year.
For a few years now, I’ve been following Marc & Angel Hack Life-Practical Tips for Productive Living. From the beginning of following some of their work, I’ve sincerely been a fan of this couple and what they have to offer to others. Their work is truly inspiring, motivating and at times it is what gives me the pep in my step to keep moving forward. Recently, I read a couple of their articles and they without a doubt provide great advice on how to practice self care. I wanted to share one of these articles and talk a little bit about what I reflected on after reading them:
If you want to grow and move on to better things, you have to give up the things that hold you back.
Last night, Marc and I received a new thank you email from a longtime reader and coaching client named Kevin (we’re writing about him today with his consent). He said our book and life coaching sessions helped him and his wife Laura maintain a positive, intentional mindset as they struggled and grew through one of the most difficult periods of their lives. Certain sections of his email nearly moved me to tears:
“As you know, after injuring my back, losing my job because of it, being evicted from our apartment, moving in with Laura’s parents, nursing my five-year-old through a nearly fatal bout of strep throat, I was stuck in a tragic rut for far too long. And I was sitting on the front porch of my in-law’s house feeling sorry for myself, yet again, when my old college buddy called me crying and said, ‘Mel-Mel-Melissa, my baby girl, just died in a car wreck.’ And suddenly I felt like the lucky one.”
Kevin then went on to say, “It was the shock of my friend’s tragic loss that motivated me to review four pages of notes I had previously taken from both your book and our most recent coaching sessions. And this time your wisdom sunk in! Suddenly a light bulb illuminated in my mind – and it literally changed my entire outlook from negative to positive. I suddenly realized there were people who needed me to get back up, and infinite reasons and ways to do my very best with what I had. So I started giving up all the negative things I was thinking and doing that had been holding me back; and then I took a bold step forward, and another, and another. And it’s been almost a year now, and I’m happy to say you were right!”
If you can relate to Kevin’s situation in any way, and you’re ready to move forward, I want to remind you that TODAY is the first day of the rest of your life. The road ahead is wide open. You CAN get yourself back on track!
But first, you have to…
- Give up pretending that you have to be who you used to be. – When times get tough, our worst battle is often between what we remember and what we presently feel. Thus, one of the hardest decisions you will ever have to make is when to stay put and struggle harder or when to take your memories and move on. Sometimes you have to step outside of the person you’ve been, and remember the person you were meant to be, the person you are capable of being, and the person you truly are today.
- Give up berating yourself for everything you aren’t. – Being kind to yourself in thoughts, words and actions is as important as being kind to others. Extend yourself this courtesy. Love yourself – your real self. Work through your fears (dive deep), your insecurities (speak honestly and loudly), and your anger (scream into the pillow – not into the mirror, nor the people you care about; they don’t deserve it.) Instead of hurting yourself by hiding from your problems, help yourself grow beyond them. That’s what self-care is all about. It’s about facing the inner issues that make you believe that you are less than you are. It’s learning to see that you are already beautiful. Not because you’re blind to your shortcomings, but because you know they have to be there to balance out your strengths. (Read A Return to Love.)
- Give up regretting, and holding on to, what happened in the past. – When you stay stuck in regret of the life you think you should have had, you end up missing the beauty of what you do have. Not all the puzzle pieces of life will seem to fit together at first, but in time you’ll realize they do, perfectly. So thank the things that didn’t work out, because they just made room for the things that will. And thank the ones who walked away from you, because they just made room for the ones who won’t. As they say, every new beginning comes from another beginning’s end.
- Give up getting caught up in the negativity surrounding you.– To be positive in negative times is not just foolish optimism. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of tragedy, but also of success, sacrifice, courage, kindness, and growth. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine how well we live. If we look only for the worst, it destroys our capacity to do our best work. If we remember those times and places – and there are many – in which people have behaved magnificently, and things have gone well, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to sit around and wait for some grandiose and perfect future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live right now as we think we should live, in defiance of all the negativity around us, is in itself an amazing victory.
- Give up thinking that everyone else has it so much easier than you. – When times get really tough, remember this simple truth: Nothing that’s worthwhile is ever easy. And when you’re struggling with something that’s important to you, and you feel like your life isn’t fair, look at all the people around you and realize that every single person you see is struggling with something, and to them, it’s just as hard as what you’re going through.
- Give up wanting to be where others are in life. – Stop comparing where you’re at with where everybody else is. It doesn’t move you farther ahead, improve your situation, or help you find happiness. It just fuels feelings of inadequacy and shame, and ultimately keeps you stuck. The truth is, there is no one correct path in life. A path that’s right for someone else won’t necessarily be a path that’s right for you. And that’s OK. Your journey isn’t right or wrong, or good or bad – it’s just different. Your life isn’t meant to look exactly like anyone else’s because you aren’t exactly like anyone else. You’re a person all your own with a unique set of goals, obstacles, dreams, and needs. So stop comparing and start living. You may not always end up where you intend to go, but you will eventually arrive precisely where you need to be. Trust that you are in the right place at the right time, right now. And trust yourself to make the best of it. (Read The Untethered Soul.)
- Give up letting the judgments of strangers control you. – People know your name, not your story. They’ve heard what you’ve done, but don’t understand what you’ve been through. So take their opinions of you with a grain of salt. In the end, it’s not what others think, it’s what you think about yourself that counts. Sometimes you have to do exactly what’s right for you and your life, without giving a darn what your life looks like to everyone who doesn’t even know you.
- Give up letting toxic relationships bring you down on a daily basis. – Not all toxic relationships are agonizing and uncaring on purpose. Some of them involve people who care about you – people who have good intentions, but are toxic because their needs and way of existing in the world force you to compromise yourself and your happiness. They aren’t inherently bad people, but they aren’t the right people to be spending time with every day. And as hard as it is, we have to distance ourselves enough to give ourselves space to live. You simply can’t ruin yourself on a daily basis for the sake of someone else. You have to make your well-being a priority. Whether that means breaking up with someone, loving a family member from a distance, letting go of a friend, or removing yourself from a situation that feels painful – you have every right to leave and create some healthy space for yourself. (Marc and I discuss this in more detail in the “Relationships” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
- Give up over-thinking and worrying about everything. – When your fears and anxieties have you looking too deep into things, it creates problems – it doesn’t fix them. If you think and you think and you think, you will think yourself right out of happiness a thousand times over, and never once into it. Worrying doesn’t take away tomorrow’s troubles, it takes away today’s peace and potential. And life is too short for that.
- Give up believing you aren’t strong enough to take another step forward. – It’s always possible to go on, no matter how impossible it seems. In time, the grief (the lessons) may not go away completely, but after awhile it’s not so overwhelming. So breathe… You’re going to be OK. Remember that you’ve been in this place before. You’ve been this uncomfortable and restless and afraid, and you’ve survived. Take another breath and know that you can survive this time too. These feelings can’t break you. They’re painful and draining, but you can sit with them and eventually, they will pass. Maybe not immediately, but sometime soon they’re going to fade, and when they do you’ll look back at this moment and laugh for having doubted your resilience.
I want to riff on the final point just a bit more…
Because the truth is, you have to KNOW that YOU ARE strong enough to take another step forward, every single day. Feeling otherwise is just that – a feeling, not a fact!
So if you only take one point away from this post, let it be this:
The first and worst place we lose our footing is in our own heads. If you think it’s permanent, then it’s permanent. If you think you’re broken, then you are. If you think you’ve reached your limits, then you have. If you think you’ll never heal and grow, then you won’t. You have to change your mind. You need to see everything that’s holding you back, every obstacle, and every limitation as only temporary.
Because that’s the truth.
Although I could relate to every single above point that Angel Chernoff wrote about, I reflected on the below points the most and wanted to share my personal thoughts:
#2-Give up berating yourself for everything you aren’t. Making the sacrifice to be a stay at home mom is hard. Although I feel so incredibly blessed everyday to get to be a part of every milestone of my daughter’s life, raise her right, care for her, nurture her, and be there for her I have had to put myself and my career goals second. I oftentimes feel guilty for not bringing home a paycheck or balancing a full time job and being a mom at the same time. I often feel I’m not living up to my full potential. I have blatantly called myself a loser because all I am is a mom. Lets face it, I’ve put myself down a lot in this last year when I should be complimenting myself in all that I do on a daily basis. I need to realize that being a mom is a big shoe to fill and one of the most important jobs around. I need to realize that this is what I am choosing to do right now and no one is making me decide this. I need to go back to the beginning when I chose to be a SAHM and remember WHY I chose to do this. I need to own it and tell myself what an important and wonderful thing I am doing for my family and my daughter. I am not a loser and what I do matters.
#5-Give up thinking that everyone has it easier then you. This one speaks for itself and is so true. What makes an already difficult circumstance even more hard is comparing my situation to others and having a pity party for myself thinking if I lived someones life my life would be better because they have it easier. I’m constantly saying how unfair things are and I am guilty of this when it comes to my struggle with infertility. I really need to change the way I think and perceive my situation. We are all blessed and all have different things that come easier than they do for others. For example: I may be struggling with secondary infertility but there are so many struggling with primary infertility. I may want another child but I am truly blessed to at least have one biological child-some people are not as fortunate. I need to stop focusing on where others are at in this journey called life because it is insignificant to where I am at. Life is certainly not a competition.
#7-Give up letting the judgments of strangers control you.
Unless someone has walked a day in my shoes or has a similar story to tell, they don’t understand what I have gone through or where I have been. Oftentimes, those types of people’s advice is unsolicited. I need to keep this in mind when others start spouting their judgments upon me and my life story. I can’t continue to take their opinions to heart when their opinions truly have no merit to my life or what I am going through or choosing to do. Only God and myself know the truth about my decisions and life and at the end of the day that should be all that matters.
#8-Give up letting toxic relationships bring you down on a daily basis. I continuously allow toxic people in my life daily and I need to learn to distance myself from them. I need to learn to put less energy into these people because honestly they suck me dry of it. I need to not let them in as much as I allow myself to do. I can’t grow or better myself if I let these relationships continue. I need to do this guilt free and focus on those people in my life who are genuinely there for me and where the give and take is equal.
#9-Give up overthinking and worrying about everything. This one is a hard one for me. I am constantly overthinking about everything and worrying. This is not good for myself and my health. Lets face it, this is where the majority of my stress is. It also isn’t good for anyone around me. It’s time to learn to let go a little more and focus on the things that I can control. By letting go, I know I will find more peace in my every day.
#10-Give up believing that you aren’t strong enough to take another step forward. There are so many days I just want to give up when the struggle of infertility gets to be too much. Those days are many. I need to continuously remind myself that I am here and my track record of getting through those bad days is 100%. I am strong and I am full of courage. I need to keep reminding myself of this daily. It’s like the saying goes, “If you think you can you will. If you think you can’t, you won’t.” I know if I feed my mind with positive thoughts and people I know I can have forward growth.
I know my 2016 self has a lot of work to do. That’s the thing though, we are all always a work in progress. For me, it will be important to stay mindful of these points and admit when I have failed them. I know I will not live any of these points perfectly, but we learn from failure. 2015 was a year of failure for me in more ways then one. All I can do is try to improve and do my best. I believe if I can do that, I can live my best life and bring my true self into motion. I firmly believe for every negative there is a positive and am trying to train my brain to think as such. Practicing is the key word to all of this. The more you practice, the better you become. I know 2016 won’t be short of it’s hurdles, but my happiness is going to come from keeping perspective and learning to deal with things differently. Ready. Set. Go!
2016 self, always a work in progress!