A lot of us are finding ourselves picking up the pieces from the firestorm that was 2016. Unpleasant surprises, disappointments and loss seemed to be the general theme. Maybe even January 2017 was a blur as you tried to figure out what happened. Well, you don’t have to do it alone. Here are my recommendations on how to get on a path to make sense of it all and move on.
If last year was negatively insane for you, go someplace quiet, sit down, take a deep breath (or a half dozen) and take inventory of what went wrong. Make a list of everything that did not go your way or as expected and try to hash out why. What was your role in each of these failures? Do the items on your list still pose a problem today? What are some initial thoughts on what you can do to fix things?
Take Accountability Measures
It’s simplest to blame circumstances and individuals outside of ourselves for the current state of our lives. What’s more difficult is to identify where we may have taken a misstep or wrong turn that led us down the current path. Enacting personal change requires self-reflection so that we make different choices the next time around. If you are unhappy with where your life is right now, understand that you are the common denominator whether happy or unhappy, and you have to make that change within you. Of course, others and positive circumstances can contribute to our overall happiness, but they can’t be the sole source of it – because when those things and people are gone, so is our happiness.
What do you want to see improve in your life? What are your desires? It’s easy for us to get caught up in our day to day tasks and responsibilities. We go on auto-pilot and stay in a perpetual state of “waking sleep.”
Waking sleep is when we are living our lives but are focused primarily on the past or the future and not focusing on the present. The present is what determines our future and it deserves our undivided attention as much as humanly possible. Actively setting and managing goals helps to keep us in a present state.
Every journey begins with a single step, so, choose a goal and list some tasks that will help you achieve it. Stick to it or risk remaining stagnant.
Just because we can get to a place of acknowledging our role in what went wrong or what may have harmed us, it does not mean that other people did not contribute to it. We know this, because, as mentioned, it’s easier to blame others than ourselves.
Forgiveness can be a struggle. I can admit having trouble forgiving people. However, let me tell you what made it so much easier for me to see that forgiveness is not just a possibility, but a reality.
Brace yourself, but…
“Forgiveness is giving up all hope for a better past.”
Essentially, forgiving someone is basically acknowledging that the past cannot be changed, no matter how much we hold on it. So, it makes the most sense to just let it be and forgive. Now, forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting, it means you can remember but, since we’re working to stay in the present, we don’t let it linger in our minds. We use it as a reminder to do better the next time. Also, even though you don’t have to forget, be mindful that the emotions we hold are tied to specific events. Therefore, holding on to the memory of negative events, means we leave ourselves open to experiencing those negative emotions again and again.
So, forgiveness for others – and yourself.
Take “Person”al Inventory
We often don’t realize the emotional and psychological impact the people we allow in to our lives have on us. How their attitudes and behaviors subconsciously affect us and our vibration. The new year is a good time to analyze the people in your circle. It is perfectly OK to place some distance between yourself and others in situations that don’t serve you.
Do you need to keep more distance from certain people? Who was present in your life last year? Did they bring value? Were they a support or a drain? Were people missing in action? Are the relationships equitable? Do these people make you want to be better? Do they support, uplift and energize you? Offer encouragement? Do they have your back?
On the opposite side, consider yourself and how others would answer those questions in regard to you. Have you been holding up your end? Are there ways in which you can improve? Nobody is perfect, and this isn’t about blame. It’s about fostering healthy relationships and recognizing, even mutually, when some relationships have outrun their course.
Reduce Negative Influences
Getting sucked up in to a pity party is really easy to do. Not everyone has a natural capacity to feel positive on the inside just because. Or is that just what we think? Maybe it’s our environment and conditioning that lead us to believe that natural positivity is beyond our grasp, or is something reserved for other people. We might want to reconsider that.
Now, I’m not saying we all need to walk around with a smile plastered on 24/7, or that we have to give up the RBF, but on the inside we can feel good. That’s OK! It’s OK to feel good for nothing at all!
To get there, it is necessary that we do what we can to remove the constant negative influences in our lives. Misery loves company, but that company does not have to be you. If there are others in your life who are weighing you down with their problems, you have got to let them go.
Problem is, you may not even know that they’re weighing you down. See, negativity just doesn’t manifest in nasty outbursts or bad experiences. Negativity manifests in small everyday occurrences and just speaking negatively about so many things – most of which are out of our control. In this digital age, we consume so many small tidbits of information that may not seem to affect us consciously but they can affect our mood in ways we don’t even realize.
If you are in a state of waking sleep, you may not even notice that you are being dragged down by negativity all around. Through the things people say, from what’s showing up on our feeds and timelines. It seeps in to your subconscious. Staying present will help you be cognizant enough to notice some of the negativity in your life and eliminate it.
Operate on Your Own Terms
So, the thing about taking “person”al inventory and making adjustments as needed, as well as forgiving people, is that it puts you in a place to operate under your own terms. What I’ve come to realize is, brace yourself…
You don’t have to be anything to anyone.
Now, personal obligations aside, like if you’re a parent, or something. But outside of that? Think about it…
You do not have to be what other people expect you to be to them. A large source of our disappointments derives from our expectations. We feel disappointment when people don’t meet them and not realizing that, they don’t have to. This means that we don’t have to meet theirs either.
If you want to say no, say no. If you want to say yes, say yes. You are under no obligation to give your whole self and certainly under no obligation to give more than what you are being given. Remember, most people are going to put themselves first. Even if you are not that type of person, understand that most people are not like you and you must protect yourself.
Take a Risk
And I don’t mean the types of risks where life, liberty or property are at stake. Take risks where you step outside of yourself and what you thought you knew. Challenge your beliefs. Experiment with different ways of being. Think of the masks you wear daily and for what reasons. Think of the person you feel compelled to be at work, at school or within your relationship. Is the real you shining through? Are you getting what you need? When do you get to take off a mask and be who you really are? Do you know who you really are? When was the last time you assessed what you wanted and put it on paper? Take the risk and jump out of waking sleep to see the beauty underneath the layers of yourself.
If there is one thing I learned last year, of all the lessons that have revealed themselves to me, self-care is incredibly important. Taking care of you is crucial. We don’t always realize how lost we get in caring for and supporting others while ignoring ourselves. Or, we care for ourselves in more of a “treat yoself” fashion that includes indulging, but not so much of the healing or therapeutic nature. Check in with your body and your mind and figure out what you need. Once you do, plan it out and commit to it. COMMIT. Part of self-care is showing up for yourself. Being present for yourself is self-love and dedication. Use some of the energy you have reserved for others, your job, your errands, and lavish it on yourself – unapologetically.
Dust Yourself Off and Try Again
Faltering happens. Forgetting happens. Don’t go so hard on yourself. It’s getting up and trying again that counts. Choose, every day, to honor and value yourself in any way you can manage. Waking up and committing to what you’ve planned for you, and only you. No matter how small. There will be hurdles, roadblocks and disappointments. Maybe even unspeakable darkness.
But do not give up because you owe it to yourself to hold on. And this, too, shall pass.
P.S.: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOM! ❤