“We can let circumstances rule us, or we can take charge and rule our lives from within.” ~ Earl Nightingale
I’m a big fan of social media, both for keeping in touch with friends and for marketing my business. I love reading updates, seeing what silliness children have been up to, and learning cutting-edge fitness and health tips. However, I’m increasingly bothered by the prevalence of a three-letter attitude that indicates how people feel about their lives. In theory, this is “just an expression” but a negative message is a negative message, no matter how seemingly innocuous.
In the span of about a week, I saw this three-letter attitude written on no fewer than five status updates (this phrase, loosely translated, is “my life stinks.”) I felt a surge of sarcasm overcome me, and had to examine my judgement and lack of patience for that phrase and the attitude associated with it. What really bothered me was that there seemed to be an overwhelming feeling of not having control over life, or that one thing might make everything else disastrous. Generally speaking, I am not judgmental, but I have very little patience for the “nothing-I-can-do-about-it” attitude. Where does this come from? And more importantly, how can we change it?
I felt compelled to write a rebuttal in my own status update, reminding my friends that things could be much worse, and that changing the way you see things can change the direction of your life. If you find yourself going to the negative whenever something goes wrong or is difficult, then you have conditioned your brain to think negatively. If you find you are repeating the same patterns over and again, you might consider changing your perspective so that you can have a more attractive view. The challenge is how to change your perspective.
We tend, in our “all-or-nothing” culture, toward thought patterns and world views that take us to one extreme or another. Rather than try to dig all the way to the root of your “problems,” start very simply by choosing to make a change. Make a commitment to yourself to change your life. Take charge, be in control.
So, start by choosing another three-word phrase for yourself: CML – Command (of) My Life
You may not be able to control circumstances, but you can certainly control your reactions. You can use your energy and thoughts to move in the direction you wish to go. If you feel like you’re spinning your wheels or aren’t quite where you want or need to be, then in addition to “just doing it” and making things happen, you need to start by changing the thought pattern.
Break it down and simplify it:
- Change your life phrase to re-train your thoughts and reflect the positive: CML(Command [of] My Life.) Every time you catch yourself thinking negatively about your situation, stop, take a deep breath, and recite your new life phrase – Command (of) My Life. Say it until you can re-focus to the positive.
- Practice what you preach. Say your new life phrase to yourself, walk your talk, hold yourself accountable to it. Write it down, tape it to a mirror, the back of a cupboard, your dashboard, or wherever you think you’ll see it and read it enough to re-condition your brain to think positively about your life. Keep it taped where you need it until you are moving in the right direction.
- Take charge and make it happen! Decide what it is that you want to accomplish, set mini goals to get you there, and put it in motion. Start with something realistic and attainable. I started my business in July, so set the short-term goal to break even in October, and guess what? I did it! I decided on October’s goal in September when I started to worry about my finances. Rather than spiral into the negative and fearful place, I had faith that I would be able to reach that goal. I made a clear, simple and attainable goal, and worked hard to achieve it. Now I’m ready to set the next goal.
Take a little break and go back to Step 2: Practice what you preach. Think about it for a minute. If you talk the talk, you must walk the walk. This can be very challenging, so be realistic, and be kind to yourself. We all have our moments, but if you can say that overall you believe your new life phrase, and put positive thinking into practice, you will start to notice some changes.
You can allow yourself to get stuck in a frustrated place, or let your whole day be ruined by one event. If you spilled a drop of salsa on your white shirt, would you pour the whole bowl down your shirt? I doubt it, but if you did, I would applaud you for taking charge and just getting on with it already! The point is, life will always bring us difficult situations, disappointments and temporary setbacks. If you view these moments as insurmountable, then you will likely see your life as difficult and disappointing. If you take these moments as opportunities to move forward and to learn, look for the wisdom and keep on moving forward. Or, in my best west coast speak – I have lost some of it after all of these years – Get over it, dude! Then, take charge and own it!
Blessings. Gratitude. Love.