Four steps to letting your resentment go
Resentment creeps into your life when that voice in your head tells you that you have been wrong, taken advantage of, or unjustly treated. Resentment has a hold over you when your thoughts and feelings seem to be held captive by an injustice that preventing you from living your life to the fullest. Simply put, resentment has a negative impact on your life, like an unwanted guest that won’t leave.
When I picture resentment, I think of Lady Justice, she is blindfolded and holding balance scales and a sword. She is out for justice and wants to right any wrongs, balance the scales, and make things harmonious. This can be a bit unnerving because anyone with a dangerous weapon like a sword, and who is blindfolded, may not hit their target. She may hurt those she does not intend to hurt, including herself. In fact, in the end resentment is likely to hurt us the most.
A heavy sense of resentment is an unwanted emotion that is difficult to exorcise from your daily thoughts. It is a negative emotion, like anger, fear, or hate that can consume you, blocking you from living the life you deserve. Instead of giving you the justice that you seek, resentment may strip from you the life that you want.
We often feel resentment towards relationships, family members, or even someone from our past that we still hold a deep grudge against. In other words, resentment is the experiencing of past injustices, whether they are real or perceived, and the hurt feelings that come along with that perception.
How do you know if you are feeling resentful towards someone or a situation in your past? Ask yourself if Lady Justice is whispering in your ear when you are experiencing the following:
- Are you unable to move forward without feeling bitter or angry when you think about the incident?
- Do you find it difficult to stop thinking about the event or events that caused the tension in the relationship?
- Have you lost your cool or are easily irritated when dealing with this person?
- Do you feel regret, inequality, or unimportant in the relationship?
- Do you find you fear or avoid conflict?
- When you think about this person, are your feelings predominantly negative?
Resentful feelings block our ability to move forward. The best way to let that resentment go is to get a handle on how you perceive the situation and question it from all angles. It may be that you conclude that you no longer want to continue with a relationship, or you may feel that you MUST continue with a relationship. Whatever your situation may be, getting a better handle on your perception of the situation could help you release the resentment.
Below are four steps to gaining more clarity and releasing resentment:
Step 1: Notice the weight of what you are holding
The weight of the scales and sword in Lady Justice’s hands must be heavy. How long can she carry all that around? The first step is to acknowledge the resentment. What is the magnitude of the resentment that you are feeling? How is it impacting your life? What feelings come up when you consider moving on from the resentment?
See if you can pinpoint when the bitterness started and how it grew into what you feel today. It can help create a timeline about all the events that you feel contributed to your negative perception. Did you miss anything positive about the situation? Try to understand and process it with a trusted, objective person.
One example would be if you resent your spouse because they want to move for their job so they can continue climbing the corporate ladder. Perhaps you would feel uprooted from the move, and that is causing your underlying anger. You may have agreed to move but feel bitter because it is not what you truly want to do. Try to look at the situation from every angle and see what feelings come up for you. Would you feel guilty if you said no to your partner? What more can you learn from the situation.
Step 2: Take the blindfold off
Lady Justice had the blindfold on to represent she was being impartial but it’s hard to fully understand the situation unless you can see your own part in it. In the example, the blindfold represents not seeing your own role in the situation. Therefore, if you take it off you take ownership for at least some of why you feel resentment. What part do you play in the situation? Do you gain anything from the situation?
This step can be very hard, and you may need help from outsiders to give you a different perspective. The role you play may be very small especially if you were primarily an innocent victim. Ask yourself, is it hard for you to let it go because being resentful is part of your identity, especially when the resentment has been held in for a long time?
By using the same example of a spouse moving for a job, did you say yes to the move even when you didn’t want to? Did you try to compromise or speak up for what you wanted? Where you able to give your partner some boundaries? For example, “I will move for your job but if I am unhappy after a year, I would like to discuss our options. Will you agree to that?”
You can also switch the perspective and take the blindfold off by thinking about what you gained from the experience. Maybe moving provided you with the confidence that you can start all over and make new friends. On the other hand, perhaps you learned more about what is important to you and what you can’t live without.
Step 3: Put the sword down
Lady Justice used a sword as authority; however, before you swing your sword in haste, try and understand the other person’s perspective, especially if resentment is directed toward a relationship you want to keep or improve. In what way, if any, can you find empathy or understanding for the other person’s situation?
Could there be a misunderstanding, or did the person do something hurtful by mistake? Are you at the point where you are so resentful you only see the negative things the person does? What did you like about the person before the resentment started? What needs do you feel are not being met in the relationship? Maybe you are not clearly asking for what you need, or the misunderstanding grew into something you don’t recognize anymore. Once you see things in a different perspective, you are using the sword to cut yourself free.
Step 4: Where can you tip the scales?
If Lady Justice is holding the scales and they are tipping towards resentment, how can you add more balance to the scales? Intentionally add in positive feelings like gratitude, joy, and fun. It’s hard to feel like you are being wronged when you are feeling grateful for things in your life.
Ask yourself these questions:
What parts of the relationship do you currently have the power to change? If you are not happy with your current situation is there a way you could comfortably express your feelings to the other person?
Where can you add positive feelings? For example, can you write down what you are grateful for every morning? How can you add laughter and fun into your life? By tipping the scales with more positive emotions, you slowly let the resentment go and free yourself from the weight of it.
For example, you are resentful towards a person in the past that bullied you in school, but you learn that they grew up in an abusive home. Would that make a difference in how you perceive the events? Knowing the other person’s hardships does not make their actions okay but forgiveness is not for them, it’s for you. Finding a sense of understanding for what they may have been going through helps you let go of the anger. In addition, you could add in some positive emotions by wishing this person well and hoping they find peace.
It’s an internal process
In conclusion, feeling resentful can be very hard to let go but not impossible. If you feel you have been wronged and want justice, then seek legal justice but not revenge. You can choose to forgive and let it go. Forgiveness is a daily process of saying, “I forgive you” every time the resentment returns to your thoughts.
Removing yourself from the situation causing the resentment is a solution that is event specific but choosing to let go is an internal process. It is ultimately your decision as to how and when you move forward. Ask yourself, will hanging onto the negative feelings bring you more harm than good?
Let people that you trust know that you’re trying to let go of this resentment. Also, write down your intention to let go of the resentment. If you let your intentions be known, you will make progress. Finally, once you take that first step to decide to let resentment go, you are already on your way to being free of this burden!
Check us out at www.turningstonecounseling.com!
Do you sometimes have a case of “The Mondays?”
This phrase became popular in this 1999 movie classic, Office Space. The movie had a humorous way of making light of the fact you can become tired, irritable, or distracted after enjoying the weekend and then returning to work. The case of “The Mondays” in plain words means you are in a bad mood.
Being in a “bad mood” in not something most people strive for, but all of us have had those moments. When we find ourselves in an unpleasant mood, it can be hard to shake it. Some moods come on for what seems like no reason and others are induced by events such as having to go back to work on a Monday.
There is a big difference between an occasional bad mood and a mood disorder that can negatively impact your work life, school life, and intrude on your personal relationships. If you suspect that your mood is out of control it may be beneficial to use a mood tracker and talk to a professional about your symptoms.
Click here for an example of a simple mood tracker you can use
Moods can trap you
You forget to set your alarm and wake up late. Feeling overwhelmed, you start to rush around the house to get ready for work. Next, your children ask you to help them with something in a whiny voice and you proceed to spill coffee on your new outfit.
The irritation gets the best of you and you snap at one of your loved ones or co-workers. From there, the guilt then produces a sense of shame and you think “I should have better control of my emotions, but I just can’t seem to get it together right now.” The bad mood has already set in and you feel doomed for the day.
This is just one scenario in a million that can cause our days to take a turn for the worse. Therefore, bad moods can come when we get news we don’t like, when someone else takes an undesirable tone with us, or we get overloaded with work or obligations. Even a stubbed toe or spilled milk and can set you up for irritation and frustration.
AT SOME POINT YOU JUST HAVE TO LET GO OF WHAT YOU THOUGHT SHOULD HAPPEN AND LIVE IN WHAT IS HAPPENING.
Life often unfolds very differently than how we imagine it will. The next time you feel in a bad mood, it may help to just accept the current reality. In other words, there are times in our lives when the problems we have cannot be solved and we must make the best of the situation we were dealt.
Could it be that you have some unrealistic expectations? For example, do you expect others to have the same values as you, like compassion or loyalty? Maybe you believe all your friends should send you a card on birthday or check in daily? Disappointment sets in if these things don’t happen. Is what you expect of others realistic? If these outlooks are ruining your day then your expectations about the world around you may be too high.
Take time to examine your expectations of yourself and others. Can you see things in a different perspective so that you don’t miss all the good things in life that are worth celebrating? For instance, if things are not going your way, how can you find the silver lining? Perhaps you didn’t get the promotion at work like you thought you would. Could it be a sign that you need to go in a new more exciting direction that fuels your soul?
If the door doesn’t open, it’s not your door!
How in the world do we get out of this dreaded bad mood when it sets in?
The fact that your day starts out badly, does not mean you have to decide the whole day is a waste. You can try to turn things around when you realize that you are in a foul mood, instead of wallowing in it. Perhaps your negative mood sticks around too long. You notice it’s interfering with the way you deal with the people in your life. It may be time to figure out how to put those negative feelings in the recycling bin to turn them into something new.
Focus on others: Doing a good deed for others can help lighten your mood, if you have had some bad news or just a bad morning. Buying a cup of coffee for the person behind you in line will brighten your day and their day!
Other ideas for small acts of kindness:
- Hold the door open for someone
- Send a friend a card to let them know you care about them
- Let someone go ahead of you in line
- Donate clothes to goodwill
- Do a chore for someone without them knowing
- Compliment a friend, stranger, or family member
- Smile at everybody, it can be contagious
Put your own life in perspective: Each one of us has problems and we use a yardstick to measure our issues by the people that surround us. We all know people that have it worse than us or better than us (in theory). Is the feeling of envy of what others have that you don’t have gotten the best of you?
Look at the bigger picture, you may realize how fortunate you are. Do you have access to food, shelter, and safety? Do you have love in your life? Is there a sense of accomplishment in your life? You may start to realize you have more than you thought you did.
Humor is a powerful tool when you want to shift your mood: Laughing helps get the good endorphins in our brains working. Life is just better when you are laughing, and it can literally stop a bad mood in its tracks.
3 ways to laugh at yourself:
- Throw a pity party: Imagine sending your friends and family an invitation that says “Just spilled the whole carton of milk! I am very angry at myself, and that has thrust me into an unpleasant mood. Please join me at 7PM (at the site of the incident) and dress in your most formal attire. This pity party is sure to be unforgettable!” Make the pity party as ridiculous as possible to put humor into the situation. Grab a party hat and a family member and ask them to join you.
- Start talking in a silly voice or accent: This can seem like a ridiculous thing to do but it works! You may not want to use this with your boss at work but if you are still at home when the bad mood sets in, it can be a surprisingly useful tool. If you are alone, you can narrate what you are doing in a British accent to make yourself laugh. If you have kids, they will think it is funny if you tell them to put their dishes away in a funny voice or in the voice of a character on TV. Making someone else laugh can be a mood lifter also!
- Take a funny picture of yourself: Get out that selfie stick and smile big! Bring some joy and smile big for the camera. Take a picture of what your face would look like if it is overjoyed! It may look a little ridiculous but that is the point. If selfies are not your thing, use an app or photo editing software to alter old photos to make something humorous. Go one step further, send it to a friend and tell them you are trying to improve your mood. That way you can share the laughter.
“DON’T JUDGE. YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT STORMS SOMEONE HAS JUST WALKED THROUGH.” – KRISTEN BUTLER
In conclusion, if you are human then you have had bad moods, and that is normal. It is when we get stuck in bad moods for long periods of time and can’t shake them that it becomes a problem. Try using a mood tracker to see if you may need to talk to a professional to get a handle on where the problem is stemming from. Happiness could be at your doorstep with a few tweaks. To quote Office Space, “Didn’t you get the memo?” – you deserve to feel good!
Check us out on www.turningstonecounseling.com!
We have all heard the saying “sleeping like a baby” but have you ever thought in depth of what that means? One interpretation could imply that a well-cared for baby hasn’t a worry in the world. If they are fed, loved, and cared for then they can sleep without worry, without fear, and free of the problems of the world. Therefore, the baby sleeps deeply because they don’t have anything to weight them down yet!
As we start to grow up, more things affect our lives and start to weigh us down. Maybe you are bullied in school, or your parents are imperfect people doing the best they can. Perhaps you have been through abuse, illness, or loss. The world’s injustices start to show, and burdens of everyday responsibilities feel substantially heavy to you. As problems build, it can feel like wearing a backpack that gets more cumbersome as things in your life get more complicated.
The backpack we each wear can be invisible to us.
We may not recognize how much the people in our lives hurt us, causing us to carry around mistrust, or how the struggles have formed the story about who we are. We feel we are not smart enough, talented enough, or maybe just the foundation of who we are is not enough.
Our backpack can contain the pain from our past, the guilt over our mistakes, the loss of loved ones, or the shame of our choices.
Our successes along the way may serve to unload our backpack a little and make it lighter, as something goes right, or we learn we are capable. As our confidence grows, our past may feel like it has less effect on us. When we are in the growth mode, we can start to free ourselves of past scripts and self-judgment. Despite this, most of us still carry around some things in our backpacks that we need to unload to feel lighter and more at peace.
Do you know what’s in your backpack? If not, following are some steps to help you find out.
Step 1: make your invisible backpack visible
It’s hard to unload the things that are weighing you down in life if you are not aware of what they are. You may be asking yourself, “Why am I in this negative cycle?”, “Why do I react to this person or situation the way I do?”, or “Why can’t I stop doing this or that?” We all have “blind spots” about ourselves and building our self-awareness can be critical to moving forward.
Building self-awareness is not a destination but a lifelong journey. As humans we are always growing and changing, and therefore always building upon who we are. We can get stuck sometimes and “feel stagnant” but there is always something to learn about ourselves.
Self-discovery is an ongoing process that will be worth the effort. The fact that you are taking the time to get to know yourself will be the catalyst to the change itself. Realizing certain aspects of ourselves may be hard to accept if you don’t like them, but it does not mean that you cannot change or pick a different path. Change is one constant thing in life; things never stay the same, so why should you?
Four ways to build self-awareness:
Write your life story – Get out a journal and write about all the major things that have impacted you. You can even format it into a timeline. Acknowledge what has had a major impact on your life and what you may still be holding onto. In which experiences did you find the greatest passion or pain?
Get feedback – We all have blind spots that others see, but we are unable to see in ourselves. Get feedback from different people in your life. It may be a bit painful to hear if you are not ready for it, so it’s important to be in a place where you can be receptive and open to these kinds of opinions.
Write down your goals, priorities, and plans – What does your best life look like? Where do you strive to get to? What do you enjoy doing and want more of in your life?
Try new things – It’s hard to know what you like if you don’t try new things and have different experiences. What better way to discover yourself than putting yourself in different situations and experiencing your reactions. Did you love something you thought you would hate? Did you discover you were good at something?
Step 2: Recognize your backpack will never be empty
Even a newborn baby has burdens – they have a need for love, nourishment, and security. It is unreasonable for us to think that we will unload all our difficulties and be “problem free” during our lives, but that does not mean we cannot lighten the weight we carry. Life always has challenges! It may be that for a short time, you can forget about your past troubles.
Start where you are. Think about the most pressing problem that you currently have. What is keeping you up at night with worry? Is there something you are not dealing with that should be dealt with? Dealing with the contents of your backpack, not keeping them invisible, will help you clear space and make you feel lighter.
Step 3: Compassion and forgiveness
If we do not deal with the contents of our backpack, eventually the weight is there again, crushing our spirit and holding us back. We may need to re-write the stories of our past and see them in a new perspective. How did your past make you stronger? What lessons did you learn?
Who can you forgive (either yourself or others)? Could it feel healing to call someone up and let them know you want to forgive them? This can be therapeutic, even if you have no interest in starting another relationship with them. This is more about setting yourself free so you can concentrate on moving forward.
Ways to deal with our past:
Ignore it – This could lead to negative cycles in your life or coping in other unhealthy ways.
Live in it – This can be quite painful, and you are missing what is right in front of you.
Wait for it to get better – Delaying happiness.
Process it and learn from it – Letting the emotions out and acknowledging pain without living in it. Seeing what (if anything) you can learn from the past so that you can do things differently. Some things are done to us with no fault of our own.
The act of forgiveness or coming to peace with events from the past will NOT totally heal everything, but it could offload some of the burden that is holding you down. Finding compassion for others that may have hurt us in the past is something you do for yourself, not for them. The more compassion we have for others the more we are merciful with ourselves. Getting stuck in regret and revenge will only cause your own happiness to be blocked.
Step 4: Acceptance
“Do not free a camel of the burden of his hump; you may be freeing him from being a camel.” Gilbert K. Chesterton.
The concept that people come into relationships with baggage is probably true, but their baggage is partly what makes people who they are. We are all changeable, but we are also all going to have areas of our lives that could be forever impacted. Accepting that this is now who you are is part of the process of freeing yourself.
Step 5: Build your muscles so you can carry the weight
It is vital to build a self-care routine and start to prepare yourself for holding more weight in your backpack if necessary. Customizing a self-care plan is a preventative measure that can help BEFORE you get into a crisis. If your world gets thrown for a loop due to job loss, illness, family change or other issues, you will be more prepared to handle these hurdles if you are doing the following three things:
Build your social support
Do you have multiple people you can depend on and trust? We thrive when supported by people who nurture and encourage us. Everyone needs and wants to be seen, heard and understood. Meeting new people and putting yourself out there is scary. We all struggle, are afraid, are imperfect, so go at your own pace when building up your support system but I promise it will be worth it to have the support when you need it.
Take care of the basics
Getting a good night’s sleep and taking care of yourself is so important. Having a healthy diet and 30 minutes of exercise a day can go a long way to creating a positive mood.
Practice staying present
To stay in the moment, focus on positive things in your life, even if they are small. It’s human nature to focus on the negative. Intentionally finding the good can help you stay present in your life, which decreases your stress. One way to focus on the good stuff is to start journaling. A gratitude journal is simply a list of things you appreciate in your life that you don’t think about regularly. The benefits of gratitude can help you out when things in your life feel heavy because you can look back to all the good in your life.
In conclusion, your backpack is a part of who you are, but you don’t have to be crushed under the weight of it. At Turning Stone Counseling, we can help you sift through the contents and see things in a healthier perspective.
Check us out at www.turningstonecounseling.com
Don’t crack under stress!
Have you ever tried to cook hard boiled eggs only to be frustrated because the egg cracked, or it was over or under-cooked? The right degree of heat and the amount of time to boil an egg can elude the most masterful chief.
Stress can be the same way; the perfect amount of stress can get us going and lead to a productive day.
The cracked or leaky egg:
Too much stress can lead us to crack under all the heat and pressure. Being prepared to handle stress and having strategies to manage life when it starts to feel overwhelming is very helpful. Dropping an egg into a boiling pot without careful attention causes it to break and leak out. We need to prepare the egg correctly just like we need to plan to manage our stress.
The undercooked egg:
Some may think no stress leads to happiness but with no stress we wouldn’t want to get out of bed in the morning or have the drive to be productive, work, or strive for goals. This is like an undercooked egg, it can result in not achieving the “hard boiled” status, producing little or no results.
April is stress awareness month so let’s look at ways to recognize when our stress levels are out of control and possibly moving toward a chronic problem.
Signs of chronic stress
Like an overcooked egg that loses nutrients, chronic stress can lead to major losses in your life. Some signs that stress has become chronic and is getting out of control could be lack of sleep, health issues, and unhealthy coping. Consequently, stress can even lead to mental health problems and interfere with your quality of life. If you are losing sleep over stress, this is a big sign that you need better strategies to manage stress.
Too much of the stress hormone in our bodies over a long period of time can lead to depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders. Stress can also have a major impact on your health which includes cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, digestive issues, frequent illnesses, headaches, and stroke.
Making the decision to change your lifestyle and behaviors is usually the first step toward increasing overall health and avoiding chronic stress. The first key to managing stress is recognizing it. From there it is important to change the behaviors that cause stress but changing your behavior can be challenging. So where do we start if we are reluctant to change?
Change can be hard for most of us. We get comfortable in the way we do things and it can feel painful to do things differently even if we know that it will benefit us in the long run. If you are in a job you hate, and it is becoming unbearable in your life, what is stopping you from looking for a new job? Is it fear? Do you not want to deal with the work that comes with looking for a job? Pinpoint exactly what’s scaring you about the situation. You can ask the following questions:
- If I make this change, what would be different?
- What scares me about this change?
- What could be great if I make this change?
Some stress is unavoidable. If you get laid off at work or have a personal illness, these are stressors that you cannot have complete control over. In fact, many things in life are beyond our control, particularly the behavior of other people. In high stress times, be aware that you need to take more care of yourself using outside resources like support systems, counseling, and community resources.
The other side of the coin is “self-induced” stress which we can recognize and start to plan to reduce. This includes our own feelings of perfectionism, excessive rumination about things in our life, emotional depletion, being around taxing people, unhealthy lifestyle, self-doubt, physical exhaustion, and fear of failure. Do any of these feel familiar to you? If so, you can begin to make a personal plan on how to manage these worries.
At Turning Stone Counseling, we are here to listen and help you figure out better ways of dealing with personal stress.
TOP 10 ways to reduce stress – You don’t have to do all 10 but pick those you think will work for you!
Write down all your worries and stressors:
Get it out of your brain and onto paper! Writing down your anxiety and stress helps you see it more clearly. What can you control? Are there situations where you can take actions to change the outcome? If so, what can you do? If you cannot control the outcome can you let those worries stay on the paper?
Support me please:
Grabbing lunch with a co-worker to unload about work stress can be therapeutic. The act of talking out your problems and stress with a trusted friend or partner that understands can have huge benefits to how you feel. Often you can solve your own problems if you have a person empathically listening and supporting you.
Just say no:
Learning to say no can be the best way to set personal boundaries and reduce the stress of being overwhelmed by all the tasks that you must do. It can feel uncomfortable at first to say no, but it helps you manage one of your most precious commodities – time! Focus on the things and people that matter most to you.
A simple but often overlooked way to reduce stress is to simply breath. Intentional breathing can bring down your heart rate and signal to your body that it can relax. Inhale for a count of four, hold for four, and exhale for four. Keep repeating this pattern.
Start the day without technology for at least the first 15-20 minutes. Grab your coffee and head outside to breath in the air. Use your five senses to look, hear, touch, smell, and taste the things around you. Get grounded before you step into the chaos of the day.
Give me a hug!
Cuddling with a pet or getting a hug from a loved one is a great way to feel good.
Mellow music and scents:
The combo of playing your favorite calming music and using essential oils or burning a scented candle may help reduce your feelings of stress and anxiety.
Shift your focus:
Try a new activity, put on a funny show, or try to learn something new to get your mind off the stress of your life. If you are focused on something completely different and interesting, then you get a break from your everyday stress.
Movement is medicine: Getting exercise can increase the “feel good” chemicals in your brain and help you sleep better at night. Sleeping well at night helps to reduce the stress hormones in your body.
Use the right side of your brain: Grab an adult coloring book and tap into your creative side. Engaging in arts like drawing, coloring, writing poetry, or dancing gives your mind a chance to relax and solve problems in a different way.
It is important to realize that combined stress can have a major impact on your health. Even good things like getting married or having kids can cause stress.
Look at the chart below and see where you score for the current stress in your life.
According to “the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale” these are the top stressors in people’s lives. This list is not all inclusive, other stresses may be present.
- High Score of 300+: At risk of illness
- Mid-range Score of 150-299+: Risk of illness is moderate (reduced by 30% from the above risk)
- Low Score 150-: Only a slight risk of illness
(Sources: nih.gov; health24.com; wikipedia.com)
|Life change units
|Death of a spouse or child
|Death of a close family member
|Personal injury or illness
|Dismissal from work
|Change in health of family member
|Gain a new family member
|Change in financial state
|Change in frequency of arguments
|Foreclosure of mortgage or loan
|Change in responsibilities at work
|Child leaving home
|Trouble with in-laws
|Outstanding personal achievement
|Spouse starts or stops work
|Begin or end school
|Change in living conditions
|Revision of personal habits
|Trouble with boss
|Change in working hours or conditions
|Change in residence
|Change in schools
|Change in recreation
|Change in church activities
|Change in social activities
|Minor mortgage or loan
|Change in sleeping habits
|Change in number of family reunions
|Change in eating habits
|Minor violation of law
Check us out at www.turningstonecounseling.com for more information!
Here a little test for you… before you continue reading, I want you to name the first person that comes to your mind who has superpowers (fictional or real). Write down your answer and then continue to read.
What came to your mind when you think of someone that possesses superpowers? Did your mind go to comic book heroes like Superman or Wonder Woman? Imagine if any of us had an invisible airplane or a lasso of truth, things would be a lot different right?
You could make your kids or significant other tell the truth and be anywhere fast with your airplane! Or maybe regular people with notoriety come to mind? Christina Aguilera’s voice is outstanding, and Bill Gates is a genius. They must have something that the rest of don’t?
Perhaps you thought of a friend or relative that has a unique gift or that you admire. Your cousin is a talented artist, or a neighbor is an amazing athlete. Often, we look up to those around us who we think have more talent or drive than we do. They must have superpowers to be that gifted? Did you happen to write yourself down? If you did, congrats – YOU GOT THE TEST RIGHT!
I have a little secret for you… you have a superpower!
Your superpower is that no one in the whole world is like you and all your dynamic potential is already inside you. YOU, yes YOU can do things that no one else can do and that is wonderful.
So, show your true colors to the world because they are exceptional, gorgeous, and full of possibilities. It can be challenging and scary to embrace who you are, but the benefits of doing so far outweigh the consequences. It takes courage and vulnerability to live authentically and recognize that you don’t need to be anyone else because your superpowers are within you.
Develop and find your superpower strengths:
Channel your inner THOR, who was renowned as the mightiest hero of mythology. You are also a mighty superhero and have many magnificent powers within you! Sometimes the problem is that we are unaware of where our talents lie and how to use them. So, how do you find your superpowers? The first thing to do is ask the people who care about you-
“What do you think I am good at?”
Once you get a list together from the people around you, review it and find the evidence of where you have used these strengths in your life.
Are you using your strengths at work, with your family, in the community, or beyond? If you feel like your strengths are not being utilized, maybe it’s time to think about what direction you want to go. Ask yourself these questions: Deep in your heart, what really matters to you? What do you want to do with your time on this planet? What sort of person do you want to be? Think about the personal strengths or qualities do you want to develop.
Take some time to think and explore your purpose. It can help to journal about these questions and remember some of the times in your life you have felt the happiest. What were you doing? How were you giving back to the world?
Shift your self-talk:
Let Wonder Woman use her lasso of truth to get you to see how amazing you are! How do you begin to shift your self-talk so it’s more accurate, motivating, and useful in your life? The first step is to recognize what the current narrative about yourself is telling you. Using the power of observation-
write down your internal dialog
or think back to situations where you made assumptions about your abilities. You may be surprised at how many inaccurate scripts about yourself are still playing because of past experiences.
Ask yourself – What memories, worries, fears, self-criticisms, or other thoughts do I get “caught up” in? What emotions, feelings, or urges do I struggle with? For example, maybe you dropped out of college and you have told yourself that you cannot finish tasks or don’t have the focus to do hard things. Is that really the truth or were there other factors going on at that time that made it more of a struggle? Do you always have to be that person, or can you change?
Challenge those beliefs – Is there evidence to the contrary of your negative beliefs of yourself? If you are telling yourself you may not be good at something, was there a time when you tried a new activity, where at first you were not great at it, but over time you became more skilled? There is rarely a time when you always or never do something. If you think you are always late, this is probably not true, there is evidence of you being on time or early in different situations. When we start to attach to these beliefs of ourselves, we only see when are late because our mind does not want to make us a liar.
The final step is to take some time every day (or most days) to write down why you are amazing… AND YOU ARE! What daily success did you have, what went right, and how did your superpowers contribute to the things that went right? If you are having a really bad day, look back to when you most recently felt the strongest, and take time to remember how that felt. Pat yourself on the back if you didn’t totally melt down on a bad day because things can get hard sometimes and that is okay to recognize and accept. You still have superpowers on your worst days.
Let Cat Woman get catty if she needs to, you can focus on yourself and stop competing with others.
Often in life we think we want something because our neighbors have it or society has tricked us into thinking we have to live a certain way. NO, you don’t have to have a white picket fence and 2.5 kids to be happy; there are alternative ways of living.
Your values should be the guide to how you choose to live and what makes you happy.
Try to ignore the media and your well-intentioned friends and family that insist that you must have certain things in your life to be happy. If you hate yard work, get an apartment! There is no rule that says you need a huge house or a ton of money to be happy. If you are doing things you love and are aligned with your values, then you are going in the direction of a fulfilling life. It’s so important to stop and ask yourself what you truly want and sift out what you have been told you want.
The bottom line is that your path in life is going to be unique and different, just like you are!
Other people will always have opinions on how you are living your life, but you can let them have that opinion without compromising your direction. People pleasing only squashes your true desires, so starting to trust your own judgement is critical.
Recognize that fear and embarrassment of what others think could be holding you back from putting on your superhero cape, and that you may even be projecting what others are thinking. Living your own truth is really the bravest thing you can do. As you increase the awareness of your own superpowers, your confidence will only grow!
Take aligning action:
Batman was a mere mortal, but he built up his superpowers with persistence! If you want to change, you need to find new habits that will help you get to your desired destination. Each day you have the choice to choose your intention for the day and align your actions with your values. Often people fear action because they fear failure. If you make a mistake, it’s just learning one way not to do something. With great power comes great responsibility and you have that power.
TOP three actions you can do to harness your own superpowers:
Activate your powers first thing in the morning
Get into a positive morning routine by starting the day doing something that is going to make you feel good. If music makes you feel good, crank up your favorite song, if planning for your day gives you a sense of certainty, plan away, or if exercise gets you going, head out for a run.
Focus on one power at a time
If you are working on changing a habit or increasing a strength, focus on one habit at a time. Let’s say you are working on your self-esteem by writing positive statements about yourself every morning. Get that habit ingrained for the next 21 days before you start on the next strength. It is too overwhelming to change everything in your life at once, and it can set you up for feeling you need to be perfect, which is not the goal! Areas in your life you may want to look at to start activating your superpowers are in personal growth, relationships, parenting, work, health, leisure, spirituality, and community. Choose which one is most vital to you and start working on that first. Make that superpower shine!
If you are working on refining and practicing a certain skill, what can you invest in to help you along the way? Maybe a book, taking a class, or getting a mentor will help you learn more about strengthening your superpower. Don’t be afraid to get help, using the resources around you to get where you want to be faster. Tell people around you what you are good at and how you have been working on developing your strengths. If there is a direction that you want to go at work, or a new department you want to try out, no one will know unless you make it known that you want to make that switch. Keep promoting and investing in yourself because you deserve the praise!
Let it be known to the world that your superpower is being you because no one can do that quite as good as you can. Embrace it, own it, and pass the message on to others. They may not know what you know, and everyone deserves to feel special and shine their light!
Check us out on www.turningstonecounseling.com for more information!
Motivation can be a powerful tool but how do we harness it? Think back to what it felt like when you have been motivated.
If you could describe your motivation as a car, what car were you driving? Did it feel like shiny, sleek, Porsche speeding down the road? You got things done fast and efficiently and kept going. After some time did it feel more like a broken-down Ford Pinto that needs repaired, or better yet replaced, before you can get anywhere. Sometimes our motivation is in high gear and sometimes it needs some maintenance to keep going.
In the words of Zig Ziglar “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.”
Let’s face it, at one time or another we have all be on autopilot in life.
We may have lost our motivation, or we were just not particularly driven by anything; therefore, we are not really taking control but rather letting the wind blow us in any direction it may. Sometimes that direction may take us by surprise and we find ourselves in a place we don’t want to be.
We can fall into feelings of contentment with our life. We might be missing that true joy and motivation that we may see in others. How do we regain our motivation and start taking control back?
Remember a time in your life you have been tremendously motivated. What was happening? What were you motivated by? Money? Recognition? Maybe you felt extremely passionate about something and therefore wanted to explore it.
Or it could be that you discovered one of your natural talents and wanted to improve. Perhaps you had a vision of where you wanted to be at a certain age and that motivated you to accomplish more.
We find ourselves stuck sometimes, wondering why our motivation has diminished. There are times when we think we can conquer the world and other times when we simply want to make it through the day. Where are you right now? Where would you like to be? How can you keep your motivation going and keep yourself from running on fumes?
Drive theory – when you feel like going from 0 to 60
What is drive theory? Drive theory can be linked to your motivation because it helps propel you. It can be explained by that feeling of wanting to reach a tangible goal to meet your needs. You are willing and ready to start your engine and get to the finish line.
This motivation has been around since the time of the caveman. It started with the basic motivation for survival which includes the need for food, water, and oxygen.
As we evolved, and survival became easier, we started to get other motivational drivers that are culturally determined or learned, such as the drive to obtain money, close relationships, or social approval. We can be driven by things such as acceptance by peers, social status, winning the big game, money, and fame. Do any of these sound familiar?
According to drive theory, you have a need that must be filled. Therefore, you must take an action to fill that need. For example, you might be motivated to drink a glass of water to reduce the internal state of thirst. Problems potentially arise when you have a need that is hard to satisfy. These needs could be more complicated, like love or other emotional needs. How do you fill the need for love if you are having trouble finding the right partner?
Why is so easy to get unmotivated and hit the brakes?
There are times in our life when we feel like we can’t win. Nothing seems to go right, our decisions feel all wrong, unexpected things happen to us. We hit the wall repeatedly. Therefore, you may come to the point where you fear any action at all. You decide to hit the brakes and just put the car in park for the time being. This seems like the safest plan and can be referred to as “learned helplessness”.
Learned helplessness is when you feel your actions have no effect and it can make you feel powerless. This can lower your motivation across the board and cause you to behave in a helpless manner. Feeling helpless leads you to take no action at all, and you are essentially hitting the breaks. Feeling this way could lead people to overlook opportunities for relief or change.
How do we get out of a rut if we have experienced some failures? Being successful at a task can have an opposite effect on your motivation. Positive outcomes can cause you to feel more hopeful, so don’t give up when you are frustrated.
Instead of doing nothing at all, do something that you are good at! Do something where you know the outcome will be successful. There ARE things you are good at, make a list of them to have when you start to feel defeated.
Here is a list of ideas:
- Play a game you have mastered
- Be a good friend
- Help someone in need
- Engage in a hobby you enjoy
- Play a sport you are good at
- Make a coffee date with a friend who makes you feel good about yourself
- Accomplish a task that you know you can do, such as cleaning for 20 minutes
- Do a self-care activity like yoga or an outside walk
Start Your Engine… AND TRY IT NOW!
- Make a list of all the things you feel that you are good at and that make you proud… Write the list down and keep it with you!
- When you are frustrated with a task where you are not feeling successful, take a short break to do something you are good at. Pull out the list you made and do an activity from that list.
- After a break, get back to what you were doing with more confidence, positive attitude, and resolve to reach your goal.
BIG TASK? No big deal – Take the car to the shop!
What do you do when your goal is overwhelming? Where do you even start? It can be hard to motivate yourself to do something that seems impossible. Big tasks can be scary! Consequently, the best thing to do in this situation is to break down the task with a checklist. Write out each step in a task. For example, if you must clean a messy house, take each room and divide it into tasks. This can break up your chores into more manageable steps. Once you get started and see progress, it will be rewarding!
The goal is not to do everything at once or do it all perfectly! Unless we have a deadline to meet, sometimes we put too much pressure on ourselves to accomplish things in a given time. When you make progress, or give something your best effort, your brain releases dopamine (the pleasure chemical in your brain). Therefore, even if you attempt something, you get some benefits even if you don’t succeed. You reward yourself by just trying, which is the ultimate participation trophy.
Your tires are spinning – Call the tow truck!
We all need help at one time or another in our lives. There is no shame in reaching out for help when you feel like you have tired everything, and your tires are still spinning. It may be that someone can give you a fresh perspective or maybe you just need help with accountability. Sometimes when we keep our goals to ourselves they can be harder to achieve because we don’t have anyone checking in on us.
Make a list of the people in your life who are positive and can help you. Can you tell them your dreams, your goals, and what you want to accomplish? Can they help keep you accountable? Do they have similar goals and want to join you on your journey to self-improvement? Once you put your intentions out in the world, it is harder to ignore them when your motivation starts to fade. Friends will check up on you and hopefully remind you why you had that goal in the first place.
If you feel stuck, it could be time to call a tow truck.
Maybe you need someone with more expertise to help you meet your goal? This is a time in your life when you may to need to get outside help to reach your goals. If it’s a financial goal, call a financial planner. Investigate a trainer, if it’s a fitness goal. Perhaps you are having personal problems, investigate a mental health counselor.
Getting help is an action that can move you forward, and you should feel proud of yourself for taking that step! Give yourself credit, we all struggle with motivation.
Remember, start where you are. If your car needs a tune up, it may take some time to get to where you want to be. Celebrate your progress and transformation along the way. Motivation has its highs and lows but knowing that you are moving forward every day will help you see the big picture. You are worth the investment!
Check us out at www.turningstonecounseling.com for more information.