If you’re anything like me, you started the new year with great enthusiasm, but now a little time has passed and (I’m!) you’re getting discouraged. Things aren’t going exactly as we’d hoped and planned, am I right? I definitely need a kick in the pants. It’s past time for me to empower myself to keep on keepin’ on.
Self-empowerment takes patience, but the results make it worthwhile. I plan to begin by reminding myself to practice making conscious choices and taking positive, healthy actions that cover all the bases: mental, emotional and physical. Here are a few ideas that may give you the boost you need:
1. Listen to your internal dialog and replace the negative with positive self-talk. I’ve read that our internal dialogue blasts on at about 500 to 600 words per minute – and it’s safe to say that NOT all of those words are positive or empowering. Start listening; you may be surprised. Become aware of the times and situations when you commonly engage in negative self-talk. Once you’re mindful of your habits, you can choose to substitute positive, confident, supportive thoughts.
2. Avoid blaming external forces. When you’re stuck in traffic and frustrated, do you spend the down time blaming other drivers or external forces for making you late? You have the ability to choose your reactions, and you can choose to use the time to listen to an audio book or even (gasp!) meditate. Consider three actions or beliefs you could adjust to change your reactions to your most commonly upsetting situations, such as traffic. For example, leave earlier or later to avoid the traffic, or use the time to diagram your action list for the day, listen to an audiobook, or learn a new language via CD.
3. Avoid chastising yourself for not being in control or not doing it all right. If someone asked for directions to a place you’ve never been, would you ridicule yourself for not knowing the answer? Of course not. You’d do your best to give them options or suggest a place they could get the information they need. Yet, often we guess at direction in our own lives and beat ourselves up for not going the “right” way. You may have to backtrack once in a while. Be patient and realize detours will occasionally come up – and they just might be better than the original route.
4. Do you play victim or martyr? We give away our power when we assume the “poor me” role. It’s a form of self-abuse that probably stems from fear or simply habit. It’s a way to cope. If it’s one thing I’ve learned in my life, I know that the quicker we move out of any reactive, self-protective role – whether it be anger, victim, doormat, martyr – and into solution, the more fulfilling life becomes. And more fun!
5. Recognize the value you gain by staying stuck. What’s your payoff for staying in a negative situation? Here’s an example: You need to let go of a dead-end client (or job, relationship, neighborhood, friendship, even a book plot that just isn’t working) but you’re dragging your feet. What’s your thinking about why you don’t move on? What’s the benefit of not making the decision? Once you recognize what you gain by not moving on, you can develop effective ways to circumvent your dis-empowering internal reasoning.
6. Determine what you want and act on it. Would you hire an employee and put them to work without training? Um, no! More than likely, they wouldn’t accomplish what you wanted. Instructions, a plan or goals, and practice is required. The same is true for any new situation or behavior you aspire to or want to acquire. Do you think, “If only I had this, I could do that?” Stop! Do not sit back and wait for life to happen to you. Avoid the “if only” trap and take the necessary steps to create what you want.
7. Be aware of the way you communicate with others. Pay attention to the way you interact with people. Do you complain and criticize? Remember, like attracts like – do you really want to spend your time with negative people, or even worse, be one? Choose positive people and happy conversations! You’ll feel stronger and more empowered.
8. Notice the gifts and lessons in life, especially in uncomfortable situations. If you’re in the middle of a tough situation, remind yourself of the things you’ve learned or the friends you’ve gained from it. Gifts come in many forms – train yourself to look for them!
9. Act “as if,” and you will become. Have you ever heard the phrase, “act as if?” It really works. Put your chin up and smile, especially when you don’t feel like it. Shift your focus and remember happy times; notice everything you’re grateful for. Dance in the broom closet. Sing in the car. You’ll feel lighter. Or, you can always choose to continue to frown, groan, grumble, or focus on everything bad in the world and everything you think you (and others) did wrong, ensuring that you will continue to feel down, lethargic and negative. It’s your choice.
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