Life got you down? Don’t believe it!
Life got you down? Been struggling for way too long? Anxious? Depressed? If you’re desperate to reclaim your life from all this torment, then heed the words of the second-century slave turned philosopher Epictetus, who said it is not what happens to us that matters, but how we react to it that does.
Saying this a bit differently, it’s never life’s challenges that ultimately bring us to our knees; it’s our reactions that do. And if your reactions happen to be influenced by insecurity and self-doubt, then chances are you will find yourself not only wringing your hands but feeling totally victimized and helpless as well. And by definition, a victim is someone powerless.
You are NOT powerless!
The next time you feel dead-ended by life, or stuck, or overwhelmed by problems and worries, and you just want relief, rather than caving into your feelings, recognize instead that you may need only a simple perceptual upgrade. An “upgrade” that begins with an acknowledgment that just because you feel dead-ended and powerless doesn’t mean you are.
And why is this? Because feelings aren’t facts! And when insecurity-driven feelings rather than facts contaminate your perceptions, then your life becomes one long, miserable dental appointment.
The next time you find yourself walloped by a problem, before throwing your hands up in resignation, try repeating the following three Self-Coaching truths. They will put you in the right frame of mind for separating facts from fictions, clarifying your perceptions, moderating your reactions, and most importantly, enabling you to deal more effectively with any struggle.
I suggest you write these three truths on the back of a business card. Whenever you find your mind spinning with knee-jerk insecure thinking, read them. If necessary, read them over and over again, mantra-like.
- I will let life unfold. There are obstacles but no dead ends.
Sometimes, when you’re walloped by life, you may feel that there are no answers to life’s difficulties. Rather than dead ends, a more apt perception would be bottlenecks. Because of reflexive, insecurity-driven thinking, you may find yourself stumped or bogged down—but NOT dead-ended! What feels hopeless is only a distortion created by insecurity. Keep in mind that insecurity will own you if it can convince you things are hopeless.
- I trust that my instincts and intuition will serve me.
When the path is unknown or murky, and you find yourself stuck in panicky over-thinking, it’s time for a risk. It may be hard to convince yourself to risk trusting yourself and life, but if you’re willing to loosen your death grip and allow life to unfold, then things can begin to happen, shift, and change. Trusting self and life isn’t that complicated—essentially, it’s nothing more than a willingness to believe— “let go, let life.”
- Every problem has a solution, and sometimes I have to wait for an answer.
What enables you to risk trust is a rational understanding that in time, every problem can be solved, dealt with, or overcome. You need enough discipline to believe that you may have to wait for closure. Unfortunately, insecure, anxious thinking is anything but patient. As doubts, fears, and negative thoughts swirl, you become more and more insistent that you need an answer—now! It’s this impatient distrust that generates symptoms of anxiety and depression. But just because you don’t know or can’t see the answer right now, don’t make the mistake of thinking an answer doesn’t exist.