Question – I feel like a failure because I can’t seem to live up to what everyone expects of me. What is my problem?
Answer – Life can drain the happiness, motivation, and joy out of us. No matter how hard we try, we end up being less than perfect. And on top of all that, others let us know it- whether they say it behind our back or to our face. We are so often told how inefficient we are.
The larger problem could be that we start to believe them. But in reality, we should not even be following that train of thought. The question we should start with is: are we trying too hard to live their ideal and not our own true path? We are so imbedded in our fear of not being good enough that we can easily miss seeing that the real problem is we are not choosing our own path or maybe we don’t even know our path.
This cycle will repeat itself if we do not take steps to see who we are personally and start to live that life. To stop that cycle, start with the question: whose life am I living? That can be a very difficult question with hard to find answers. Below are 5 skills that can help attain those answers:
- Who’s life am I living – Be honest; are you trying to function under their expectations and from your fear or from your strength? Write down your answer, not in an organized paper, just all of your first thoughts. Write ideas of what you love to do, what are you complimented on the most, what do you think about more often, what adventures or ideals do you fantasize about, what are your first thoughts in the morning and what are your last thoughts before you go to bed? Answering these questions will help you start seeing your personal path from a clearer perspective.
- Stop believing your own negative thoughts – One of the hardest steps is to stop believing every bad thing we tell ourselves. Human nature means we feel we are not good enough, we can’t achieve or even be ourselves, or we believe that we have issues too hard to get past. And yes, some days even doing the dishes is impossible.
In order to change a negative thought pattern, we must notice every time a personal negative thought comes to mind and then replace it with a positive thought or even a funny thought. For example, if someone, or yourself, says your house is such a mess. Your reply could be, “You could be right, but boy I can sure cook!”
- A lifetime of learning – This mindset is a great place to live. If you are still struggling with knowing for sure your life’s direction, then this can be an adventure. Even this perspective of adventure can make life a pleasure to live. Pick one of the thoughts or items from step 1 and pursue it. You do not have to commit to it at this point nor do you have to be perfect. You may even have doubts. Just keep in mind reading a book on this subject or talking to an expert may be just a good place to begin. Remind yourself you are on an adventure and where it leads can either bring you to a place of peace and love or it can open up many more paths to try. You have not failed until you stop the adventure. If the first item on your list doesn’t bring you happiness, then go on the next one on the list. One of the best things about being on an adventure is that it does not ask for skill level, age, or experience, just a willingness to take the first step.
- Did you find something you love – In all of your adventures did you find something that brings a smile to your face? The only thing standing between you and your goals is the story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it or why you’re not good enough. In truth, if it brings you joy, then do it. If you are not very good at it at first, then just remember that even Olympians started at the beginning. Try it again and again and again. You do not have to be the world champion of what brings you to a better place. Just keep working it. Read more about it; ask for more help with it. But remember, most of all, do not compare yourself to others. There will always be someone better than you and there will always be someone worse than you. Your purpose has nothing to do with them. You are not finished yet and that is okay.
- Be grateful daily even for the little things – The benefits of practicing gratitude are nearly endless. People who regularly practice gratitude experience more positive emotions, and they feel more alive. Recording these experiences keeps them closer to our minds, so we can reap the benefits over and over again. Focusing our gratitude on the people who are in our lives rather than the material items we lack, will bring us a deeper peace.
Looking for the negative experiences in your life will always lead you to the negative and you will often miss the good. Looking for even the small things in life with gratitude will open your heart to even greater things. Your heart is drawn to what you are looking for. If you want the best, look for the best and be grateful for the portions of that which does come your way. Then you will not miss the best adventure. Spend two minutes a day to reflect on gratitude and write your experiences down.
Practicing GOOD habits makes perfect, not practicing BAD habits or negative thoughts.
Remember you are not what people think of you! Your value is unchangeable and no one has ever been in your shoes. Above all, love where you are in your adventure and love who you can be, then you will be it!