On January 15th, 2009, Patrick Harten guided US Airways Flight 1549 to its emergency landing in the Hudson River. Listen to his inspiring story as the air traffic controller to the “Miracle on the Hudson,” and his mental approach to endurance sports. You can watch him, along with 50,000 other runners, race the TCS New […]
Almost everyone struggles with something, whether it’s the kids going off to college, an unfulfilling job, divorce, looming retirement, or simply not having enough fun. All of these situations can lead to struggle, but what if it doesn’t have to be that way?
Step #1: Take full responsibility for your life.
All of it. When you let external conditions control your destiny, you surrender your power and authority. By the same token, when you allow someone else to be in charge of your life, you keep yourself stuck. You are the victim and that is not a powerful position. The truth is you may not be able to control all your circumstances, but you have total control on how you respond to all them.
Action: First, get clear about what you want. Most people think about what they don’t want. Revise this list to say what you DO want. Now you have something to work with.
Step #2: Don’t arbitrarily accept someone else’s beliefs and opinions.
People project their own beliefs onto others. It is called transference. If someone thinks you are not making the best use of your talents, then more than likely, he is not making best use of his. Letting others tell you want is true reneges on your responsibility to draw your own conclusions and can definitely lead to struggle.
Action: Do your own homework. Whether it’s politics, news stories, or simply the best way to bake a cake, ask yourself what you believe about it before asking anyone else what they think. Practice having an opinion and stating what that is without worrying what anyone else thinks.
Step #3: If you need to do it—do it.
Take action and stand by it. That means leave a miserable job or relationship, relocate, take a class, start a new career—start over. Your life is your journey. If you are not growing, you are not going to be happy. Add to this the fact that the world is constantly changing and so must you. Don’t resist because that is what causes struggle. Embrace change.
Action: Make a list of things you want to do or change. Pick the first item and DO IT! You can start with something small and work up to the bigger items.
Step #4: Acknowledge that you are valuable.
Remind yourself of this daily. Talk to yourself out loud and affirm your value. Do not underestimate the power of what you say internally. In fact, how you talk to yourself is a make-it or break-it proposition when it comes to struggle. Many people say horrible things to themselves, “How could you have done that; you are stupid; you are unlovable; you will never amount to anything.” These are lies. They are generated from the ego that loves control. Paying attention to ego railings is like having a giant thumb pressing down on you. If you listen to the negativity, you will never step out of your box and investigate your incredible self. Again, decide who you want to be and find a way to be it.
Action: STOP your mind when it starts in on the negativity. Refuse to give it credence. It is your mind—you get to say what goes on there. Mental discipline is key to releasing struggle, so don’t let your mind run on automatic pilot. To prevent becoming overwhelmed with negative self-talk, move. Get out into nature and take a walk while breathing deeply. Clear your mind so that you remember that you are valuable—a unique piece to the universal puzzle that makes everything work.
Step #5: Dump any emotional baggage.
This includes memories of being hurt, offended, or criticized. Let it go! So your mother didn’t love you enough and your father wasn’t there. That is on them and not you. Forgive them and move on. While you’re at it, forgive your brother, your sister, your mean-spirited boss, your soccer coach, your nosy neighbors, and the rude store clerk. Let them all go. How? First, remember that what others project out is what is inside of them.
Action: Observing your thoughts for ten minutes a day. Take notes. When you have a “blaming thought”, stop and correct yourself. Keep correcting yourself and eventually the victim thoughts lesson. By clearing out the mental space held by grievances, you feel lighter and the payoff is huge… squashing struggle forever.
Step 6: Find a way to express yourself.
Everyone is creative and creativity must be expressed. Build something. Write something. Learn to draw or speak. Everyone needs an outlet to express energy, one that is uniquely one’s own. Experiment until you discover yours. It is your gift to the world.
Action: Start with things that come easy for you. Things like decorating cakes, coaching a soccer team, organizing, making friends. Then expand on that. Just do it for fun. You never know where this will take you.
Step 7: Become a possibility-thinker.
When you look at a person, relationship, or opportunity, ask yourself, “What are the possibilities here?” Most people don’t see possibilities because they never ask the question. You must ask the question andseek possibilities. What if joining a study group opens up opportunities to learn new skills, meet amazing people, or start a new career? What if taking a new route to work reveals a short cut, a new restaurant in town, or a beautiful view. Be curious and try new things.
Action: Start by making a list of all the possible ways to do something. Pick a subject and write it down at the top of the sheet of paper, or on a document in your computer. If you are saying to yourself, that won’t work; that won’t work, etc. Ignore them. Those thoughts keep you in the struggle.
Step 8: Turn failure into triumph.
It is important to pay attention to what you have previously called failure because this is where you can slip into struggle. The loss of a job doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world; it is an opportunity to find a better one or maybe start a whole new business. When a relationship ends, it may leave you feeling feel lost and disoriented. However, the completion of a relationship may indicate you have outgrown it, learned the lesson it was to teach you, or someone new is waiting for you. By facing the unknown and turning “failure” into triumph, you discover more about yourself. Sometimes the gift is learning that quiet time alone can be restorative. It can be the beginning of new friendships, adventure, and a fresh, new life.
Action: Do an assessment and write out your conclusions. First, look back at your life and notice what “failure” actually led to a better opportunity? When did that unexpected turn in the road guide you to something amazing and wonderful? Pause to ponder this: Is there anything in your life now that you consider terrible? And let me ask you this: Have you ever been wrong? Is it possible that this terrible situation is a lead in to a thrilling new escapade? If it’s happened in the past, it very likely will happen again. Do a personal audit and you will be amazed how failures were really just direction changes.
Jean Walters is an internationally-known teacher, transformational coach and Akashic Record reader who designs and presents classes and workshops in empowerment, meditation, building communication skills, universal laws, dreams interpretation, strengthening intuition and creating spiritual connections. She writes for numerous major newspapers and publications and hosts a nationally syndicated radio show called Positive Moments. Her books include Be Outrageous: Do the Impossible, Set Yourself Free: Live the life YOU were meant to Live, and Dreams and the Symbology of Life. Find her online here.