Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habits.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; for it becomes your destiny.
As a shy introvert, life has often felt stressful as evidenced by rounded shoulders, a sunken chest, and shallow breath. Yet this physical condition was a result of merely being alive because when I studied my life I realized that it was not difficult. When I finally encountered serious stress my body and mind felt overpowered.
My recipe for avoiding an impending meltdown (as evidenced by the panic rising through my body, an inability to breathe, and a racing heart beat):
- I cut out television or any media that told me what I should have, need, or want because unconsciously my brain was receiving the message: “I’m not good enough.”
- That also applied to my email inbox. I unsubscribed from any and all lifestyle and fashion websites and companies selling me stuff because….
- Life is not about collecting stuff. Stuff did not define me.
- I exercised daily whether it was for 10 minutes or two hours… yoga, pilates, and high intensity interval training (HIIT) (because I can do short bursts of anything).
- I cut way back on sugary treats and looked after my gut flora because what I ate had a huge impact on how I thought. The glass of wine that I thought was helping me relax was actually causing my body distress and messing with my sleep.
- Meditation. I finally listened to the thoughts in the back of my mind. I discovered that unbeknownst to me a ceaseless, berating, bitchy woman was criticizing everything I did. Another whining voice was foretelling the future by predicting everything would go wrong, and yet another voice couldn’t let the trials of the past go. In order to get rid of these voices I had to…
- accept that I was not perfect. Those ideals about being a patient mother, a fashionable woman, and a super nice person simply were not realistic.
- I got to know myself. I assessed my weaknesses and strengths. I was honest with myself about who I was and not critical of myself for the person that I was not. I was not a perfect person. I was human and therefore I was flawed.
- I realized that even though I was not perfect, I would still be you loved… I love and receive love. I would always be loved!
- …which meant that I believed in a higher power because no person could possibly be depended upon to replenish my human need to be showered with love 24/7, 365 day a year, every year. Whether that was God, or gods, or a Light, whatever that higher power was, I knew that it resided within me, you, and everyone else.
- … and I made the conscious decision to remind myself of this higher power every morning when I awoke. I needed to feed that energy within myself or lose it and return to my lost self. I also needed to spread it to everyone around me. Not like I would become a Bible-thumping missionary , but that small kind gestures, such as smiling, mattered in a world where people walk about mired in their own problems.
- I decided to nourish positive thoughts. My mind had chosen to constantly focus on the negative to the detriment of anything positive. Why had I placed such importance on the bad when life consisted of both good and bad?
- Gratitude. Acknowledging all the good things in my life, big and small.
- I forced myself to smile. I worked from home. Some days my contact with other humans was minimal. Even though I enjoyed my work, I found myself frowning by mid-day with a matching sour mood. I started smiling at my computer screen. Me sitting at my kitchen table, in front of my laptop, smiling and reminding myself to smile. I looked ridiculous!
So as a result of all the changes above I had the following realizations that have freed me.
- I know that I am a tiny speck in a large universe and my job, my sole work because I was given life, is to discover and fulfill my life’s purpose. The world does not revolve around me, so I must find my place in it.
- I never compare myself to anyone else on this planet because I am fulfilling my life purpose and I know who I am.
- I know that I am the only one who can solve my problems.
- I have accepted that change is inevitable and a necessary part of life.
- I do not judge others because I believe we are all experiencing life in different ways. We all have obstacles to overcome.
- I recognize that I can only control myself and my reactions.
I did not figure these things out at once… and sometimes I fail. At times I need to eat a glazed donut. Some days my body does not want to exercise. When I fail, I acknowledge it and rather than quitting, I accept my flawed humanity and keep going.
These are not the answers for everyone, but my life has improved greatly over the last three years. What works for you?