Tag Archives: gratitude

10 Steps to Reassure Yourself: Your problems do not define you

“One of the challenges of moving through fear is identification. After a while, you identify with the problem for so long that you don’t know who you are without it. So, now instead of trying to navigate through try to imagine who you would be without the problem and be that. Allow a loving world that is beyond this fear to fill your mind and heart. Imagine being free and then be it. This is the bridge home.” – Derek O’Neill

I just came across this quote yesterday in a welcome e-mail for a NYC Meetup Group. It really hit close to home. Seems that lately I interact with people who have a major underlying issue hindering them from taking on the world at full throttle. Each of us has one (if we are lucky, some have more than others) particular cloud hanging over our heads, following us wherever we go. We constantly think about this issue, whether it’s a health condition, career dissatisfaction, money struggles or relationship woes. This one thing that’s troubling us can end up consuming not only our every waking moment but creeps into the subconscious mind, plaguing our dreams and robbing us of our health. This can result a general disturbance in the body with mental, emotional and/or physical manifestations.

When hit with waves of frustration or despair, we must fight it. But everyone who has ever swam in an ocean or similar open body of water knows that there is a method to fighting this volatile force. You can’t face the waves head on, but you must allow yourself to immerse and go with the flow up until a certain extent, when you can seize a moment of weakness and make your way out. Similarly, when faced with a problem, no matter how big or small, we must be able to take a step back, evaluate and come up with a strategy to deal with it and come out unscathed (or at the very least, alive and safe). I’ve developed my own way of riding out the storm when things upset me, which I’d like to share with you:

Step 1: Identify the problem. What exactly is it that upsets me? Why does it have this effect on me?

Step 2: Locate the source of the problem. Is it an outside trigger or an internal interpretation that is the root cause of my unhappiness with the problem?

Step 3: Evaluate whether the problem can be solved.

  • If it is ongoing – can it be fixed or at least lessened to some degree?
  • If it is in the past – can you come to some sort of closure with the parties involved, perhaps ask for or grant forgiveness and offer to mend things?
  • If it is internal – do you have what it takes to fully assess the problem yourself, or do you perhaps need some outlet to get your emotions out (try talking to a friend/counselor, or some creative outlet, such as music, art or physical activity/dance).

Step 4: If it can be solved – do it. See above and choose any favorable combinations.

Step 5: Accept the worst case scenario. What is the worst possible outcome of this problem? Imagine the cascade of events which culminate in the worst way possible. Can you live with that? If yes – than you can live with any other less-bad end result!

Step 6: Learn to live with it. Even if everything is at a standstill – with neither improvements nor declines, you need to come up with a coping mechanism. This doesn’t mean give up. All the while, as you are fighting and coming up with new possible solutions and plans of actions, you need to keep your sanity up and your life force beaming. You can’t let this problem hold you down and send you in a downward spiral of self-pity and depression! You were there before the problem, and hey, you will survive! Death is the only problem that has a definite finality, and (for the most part), it is the ultimate problem with no solution. Everything else can be dealt with and lived through.

Step 7: Distinguish yourself from your problem. You are not synonymous with your problem! It does not define you or change your worth, or your goals. Your life has a purpose and meaning, and you need to stick to your true path to the best of your ability, devoting as little time and focus to the problem. After all, sometimes you need to let the storm pass and ride out the waves, because fighting mother nature can be a futile effort…

Step 8: Be happy despite the problem. Happiness does not depend on how healthy, wealthy, or popular you are. People can be happy with as much or as little as they allow themselves to be. The richest people in the world can be the loneliest and the most miserable, and vice versa. Handicapped people can lead extraordinary lives full of love and happiness in the face of adversity. It is all in the eye of the beholder, and all up to you.

Step 9: Crowd out the problems with gratitude. Be grateful for the good things in life. Focus on positivity, and bring more of that into your life. It really does negate the dark and empty spaces. Look around, and see how much good you have; you probably have what someone else out there is yearning for, and you don’t even realize it. Appreciate the good things and seek more good things that you can occupy your mind with.

Step 10: Love yourself. Love your problem too. It doesn’t define you, but perhaps it made you the person you are today. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, that’s my motto! We are all dealt exactly the hand we are meant to handle. We just need to approach that hand with grace, methodical skill and faith in ourselves. Forgive yourself, and love even your flaws.

I hope these steps help you as they’ve helped me. I’ve realized that I’m surrounded by people who seem to be going through what at first seems like hopeless situations. Maybe it’s because my peers and I are now entering our mid-20’s, and are finally coming into our own, and are putting weight on things that we thought we were immune to before. We have finally begun to realize who we are as personalities, what we truly want, and who we want to share our dreams and lives with. Everything prior to this moment was what our parents, society, or friends have influenced us to believe we wanted. It is these very premature beliefs that are holding us back now.

Do not let your fears or problems define you. Find our own way to accept and bear the problem, fighting back by the very act of not allowing it to control your life.

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What a difference a day makes

What if you only had a day left to live? How would you spend your last 24 hours? What would be the items on your bucket list that you could tackle in a day? Would you be concerned with regrets or qualms that have weighed you down? How difficult would it be to resolve some of these issues? Who would miss you the next day? Who would you want to know that you love them?

These are all questions that have crossed our minds in some format or another. For even while we live, we are aware that we are mortal and death is inextricably connected to all living things. Even if one day in our lives may seem uneventful or insignificant, it is one more day that we have at our disposal. We do not live in the past or in the future; we live in the moment, and each moment is precious. Although breathing is an involuntary function that is most often taken for granted, we should in fact be grateful for each breath we take. We need to take time out of every day to revel in the fact that we are alive, that someone cares about us, that our presence has made a difference to someone today.

It has been said that the three hardest things in life to say are: “I love you”, “I’m sorry”, and “Help me.” We shouldn’t let our regrets or fears plague us. If there are relationships in our lives that are toxic or unresolved, they need to be dealt with rather than swept under the rug for tomorrow. If you were wrong, apologize; if you were hurt, allow yourself to accept it so that you can heal;  if you need help, ask for support; if you want to tell someone how you feel, do it. Put yourself out there, no matter how vulnerable, because each moment is precious, and you don’t know if you will get another chance to express yourself. How would you feel if the person is gone the next day, and never got to know how you felt? Fear of rejection and pride often stop us from having fulfilling relationships. But you may be surprised (although you shouldn’t be) to learn that other people have the same kind of fears, problems, and hopes as you. Reaching out may be easier than you think, and saying things out loud to someone puts you on the path to acquiring what you are feeling. The point is, unless you try, you won’t know, and the road not taken can haunt your subconscious and manifest itself in the most unexpected ways.

We have today, and that is all we know. So today, say what you mean and mean what you say, because life is too short to leave things for tomorrow.

After you get what you want, do you still want it?

You always want what you can’t have; the grass is always greener on the other side; true happiness is “just around the next corner.” These are all idioms that epitomize human desire and drive. We are driven by our desires to conquer yet uncharted territory. We constantly crave something new, something different, the next upgrade or latest model.

But after we obtain the object of our desire – are we ever truly satisfied? How soon afterward do we start searching for the next pursuit? Is there a short-lived appreciation period where we bathe in the glory of the conquest at all? Or do we instantaneously lose interest and move on, forgetting about how badly we wanted that which we now possess?

Life is a delicate balance between desire, drive, and appreciation. We must always have goals towards which we strive – otherwise we cannot value our own life, and our time becomes meaningless. And our dreams guide us to set those goals. But is there some optimal point where we should stop and truly enjoy our successes, before marching onward? There must at least be a point where we should start slowing down and be grateful for the things that we have accomplished, and flourish in them. If we keep going at the same pace all the time, where will that lead us? On a goose-chase for the golden egg? Or maybe to the realization that the important things were there all along, but we have taken them for granted until they were gone?

I have a theory that the more people get what they want, the less satisfied they are after getting it. People become addicted to obtaining new things and experiences, just like they get addicted to anything else. They can never get enough.

The more people travel, the more they want to travel, see exotic places, and are in constant pursuit of the next place to visit or move to. Will these people ever find a place good enough to set down roots in? Or will they roam the earth like nomads? I’ve noticed this is particularly true for immigrants – they have already changed their whole lives as a result of moving, and survived it. After that experience – anything seems possible, and they actually desire to keep improving their lives by moving to other locations.

The more people date, the less likely they are to settle down with a partner. After all, there are plenty of fish in the sea. If you don’t try them all, you may never be sure of the rightness of your choice – choosing a mate should be an informed, educated decision! And the more people you meet, the better you get at pinpointing their flaws and discarding them at a faster rate. No one wants to waste time on building, compromising and growing. If it’s not all there on a silver platter, surely a full package will eventually appear. So we keep dating the same type of people, and have the same problems, and lose interest after we “get what we want.” I am by no means saying you should marry the first person you lay eyes on. I am just musing that at some point you should realize that there are only so many fish out there! The point is not to find some perfect version of a mate that you have in your mind. The real treasure is when you find a deep, chemical connection to another human. That can’t be faked or learned, but just is. And when it exists, everything else that is problematic can we worked on – if both people are willing and mature enough to do so. And it may just be wiser to treasure when you have something that feels so right, then to move on to another hunt that will not bring any more meaning into your life.