Updated: Jan 3
In many of the messages I put out, I try to encourage people to look within themselves and realize that the ability to succeed and find happiness begins and ends with what already resides inside. In our minds, in our bodies, and our spirit.
But I also realize that for many out there who want so badly to make changes toward those ends, face challenges like depression, anxiety, stress disorders, and other mental health difficulties. All of which can create mental walls that make a positive future seem impossible, or unattainable.
Additionally, I understand that for many, those mental health challenges were brought about by childhood experiences. Experiences that could not be avoided because, as children, our innocence is frail and can be easily damaged by the careless actions of the adults that surround us at the time.
That being said, what I want anyone who reads this blog entry to know, I believe, that even with all of the mental challenges we face individually, we are all capable of moving forward in a direction where we find peace, happiness, and “success.” (Success is always relative to the individual)
In these few paragraphs, I want to suggest specifically that you take your experiences, good and/or bad, and use them as fuel toward the change you desire the most. It can be a difficult task. And of course, much easier said than done.
Despite our past, or, in spite of our past, we can all take steps toward the kind of future we desire most. Whatever that is.
When it comes to changing who we are, there are two battles we’ll most likely face.
The first, as you might expect, lies inside our own minds.
We can be our own worst enemy when it comes to self-motivation and initiative. And when we battle with the demons of mental illness, it can be especially challenging to take steps to change who we are today because of the perceived impossibility of it all. There’s a tendency to look at ourselves in a negative light, to be self-critical, which can inevitably lead to discouraging our own efforts, or self-sabotage.
I encourage you to make a habit of examination and reexamination of self. To make a habit of positive self talk. To make a habit of making contact with those who support you most. Each of these steps will help not only remind why you are making said change, but also keep the mental vibes positive and encouraging.
The next piece of resistance we can face is that which is put forth by our own social circles. Unfortunately, there will be those “close friends” for “family” who, in reality, don’t want to see us confident or happy. Much of this is because those “friends” or “family” members have their own issues they deal with, and being around insecure, unhappy people, makes them feel better about themselves. It’s an ugly truth, but a fact nonetheless.
It may not be obvious at first, but these people will eventually reveal themselves. They’re not supportive or encouraging. They won’t push you when you are ready to quit on yourself. And they won’t lift you up, when you feel down. Most of all they’ll be angry, and they’ll more than likely create tension in your life.
As you take steps to improve your situation, and these people make themselves known, you’ll eventually need to distance yourself from them. Cut them out of your life altogether, if you can, because they will do nothing but slow you down and hold you back.
Having mentioned the negative, what is interesting, however, is that the people who care for you most will also become more obvious. These people will always encourage you to push yourself. They’ll lift you up when you feel down. It’ll be obvious that they want to see you succeed and be happy. These are the people you keep close and the ones you should lean on when you feel weak.
Interestingly enough, for some of us, there may be a revelation at some point that these good people had been part of our journey for much longer than we realized. We just didn’t “see” them. If this happens, my advice is to be glad. This is a good thing and you should be grateful.
And don’t worry if you can’t find support from others, by the way. Remember, the potential for meeting your goal and making a change starts and ends with you. Look inside yourself, remind yourself again why this change is important, and then push forward. One step at a time. Literally. Take a step, then another step, then another; until you find yourself moving with purpose, once again.
What’s important is to remember to be brave.
When it comes to changes in lifestyle, everyday can be an uphill climb with various obstacles and traps.
It’s in these moments where positive self-talk and routine can be especially helpful.
When it comes to self-talk it’s important to focus on yourself, and your situation, only. Your life and how you live it is most important, but if you spend too much time comparing yourself to others, it can undo any progress, psychologically, you might make. So spend time looking at your progress, and your progress only. Whatever that is. And be encouraging with anything that looks like positive moves forward. And then continue to move forward.
Keeping to a routine is always good when it comes to changes in lifestyle, because it gives you an opportunity to become structured. And structure is good because it helps when planning out goals.
If you can, plan out your day, then plan out your week, and then stick to that plan. It’ll be difficult at first. Especially if you’ve never really taken a moment to analyze how you spend your time. There might be some not-so-nice feelings that come about as you go through this process. But, I still encourage you to create structure in your day. If there’s anything I learned from the military is that structure is a vital part of a healthy and purposeful lifestyle.
Keep this very important fact in mind, as well. Mistakes and failures are part of any journey toward change. They are inevitable and they can be discouraging. But if you're aware and prepared for the inevitability, then when they come about, they don’t hurt the psyche quite as much.
Mistakes and failures still sting, but acknowledging their certainty makes the sting a little less painful.
When you make a mistake, try telling yourself something like this. “I knew this would happen and it’s okay. I made a mistake, but it’s not the end of my journey, it’s part of it. So I’m going to take this moment to figure out where I went wrong, I’m going to learn from it, and tomorrow I’m going to start again.”
If you fail to meet a goal, try this, “Well, shit! That’s okay. Tomorrow’s a new day and what I want is important to me, so I’m not giving up. I’ll try again tomorrow.”
What’s important is that you keep trying. If you fail, you try again. If you make a mistake, you learn, then you try again. But keep trying because it’s important and the only person capable of making your change happen...is you.
Be the Change
“Be the Change” in this case, means two different things.
The first applies to those raised in difficult and negative home environments.
There is so much to get into here, but rather than open that ugly door for us, what I will say for the time being is that I understand what it means to have been surrounded by anger, abuse, rage, bullying and fear. And I understand how those things can impact the way we think and feel about ourselves.
That said, however, what I can also speak to with some confidence is that the change you desire, the change you need, is possible. If I can do it, you can do it.
“Be the Change” in this respect is a call to break the cycle that can come with these difficult environments. It means making the conscious decision to take the difficult moments of life and saying to ourselves, “I’m putting a stop to what was wrong with my past, and not allowing it to affect my future.”
This can be a tough task for sure. Especially when it comes to anger and anxiety, but I assure you it’s possible. It takes an awareness of our past, acknowledging the painful parts, and then determining how to eliminate it from our lives altogether.
My advice. Find help with mental health professionals. Trust me, they can do wonders.
“Be the Change” also means be an example for others to follow. If you manage to find some success, don’t be afraid to share your experience. Share your happiness.
I think we can all agree that we’re always curious about people who are happy with their lives and comfortable in their own skin. Try to be one of those people for someone else. Remember, our world is made better when we lift each other up and support each other’s goals.
Keep in mind this very important “nugget,” as well. The challenges you faced on your journey make you especially valuable in another person’s journey. Because you can share how you felt when you came face to face with adversity, what steps it took to overcome it, and then how it felt to get beyond it. Sharing these experiences can provide the hope and encouragement another person uses on their way to meeting their own purpose.
“Be the Change” or be the proof that change is possible.
Mental Illness and difficult home lives can make change seem impossible. They create the mental walls and pitfalls that convince us that our lives cannot be made better because we are “less than” or “inferior.”
But I’m here to tell you that isn’t true.
It can be difficult, and scary, but positive change is possible for whomever wants it. It takes being brave and resolute.
It takes facing the fears of inevitable failure and mistakes in each of our “change journeys” and saying to ourselves, “I’m going to be okay, and tomorrow is a new day.”
For many of us, we’ll have to acknowledge the difficult environments we were raised in and saying to ourselves, “I’m not going to allow my past to dictate my future.”
And then hopefully, sometime down the road, when you’re in a place where you’re happy and at peace, maybe you can help someone else along their own journey so they can find some peace of their own.
I know it’s cliche, but it’s true nonetheless; if I can do it, you can do it.
I believe you can do it. You need only to believe it for yourself. Go for it!