Almost everyone struggles with something: whether it’s graduating college, having an unfulfilling job, going through a bad breakup, or simply not having enough fun. All of these situations can lead to struggle – but what if it doesn’t have to be that way?
Jean Walters, author of the book Be Outrageous: Do the Impossible, believes that it is possible to face life head on, go through transitions, and actually become stronger and have more fun in the process. In her book, Jean offers action steps you can take right now that will help you eliminate struggle. Here are eight of them:
Step #1: Take full responsibility of your life.
All of it. When you let external conditions control your destiny, you surrender your power and authority. By the same token, when you allow someone else to be in charge of your life, you keep yourself stuck. You are the victim and that is not a powerful position. You may not be able to control all your circumstances, but you have total control of how you respond to all them.
Action: Get clear about what you want.
Most people think about what they don’t want. “I don’t want to be poor,” or “I don’t want to be bored,” or “I don’t want to be alone.” Revise this list to say what you DO want. “I want to make more money. “I choose to have more fun.” “I am going to spend more time building and enjoying my relationships with others.” Now you have something to work with. Each of these items require NEW activities and new actions. It’s time to do something different.
Step #2: Don’t arbitrarily accept someone else’s beliefs and opinions.
People project their own beliefs onto others; it’s called transference. If someone thinks you are not making the best use of your talents, then more than likely, they is not making best use of theirs. Letting others tell you want is true reneges on your responsibility to draw your own conclusions and can definitely lead to struggle.
Action: Do your own homework.
Whether it’s politics, news stories, or simply the best way to bake a cake, ask yourself what you believe before asking anyone else what they think. What makes sense to you? Practice having an opinion and stating it without worrying what anyone else thinks. This is also a good time to weed out negative people, groups and thought systems. Be selective about what and who you listen to. Find people who are happy and hang out with them.
Step #3: If you need to do it – do it
Take action and stand by it. That means leaving a miserable job or relationship, relocating, taking a class, starting a new career, etc. Your life is your journey. If you are not growing, you are not going to be happy. Add to this the fact that the world is constantly changing and so must you. Don’t resist change because that is what causes struggle.
Action: Make a list of things you want to do or change.
Pick the first item and do it. You can start with something small and work up to the bigger items. Maybe it’s as simple as always hanging up your clothes at the end of the day. Perhaps it is time to lose that extra 5 pounds you’ve been carrying around. Why not start a conversation with that good-looking guy you see in the coffee shop every other morning? If you want to develop a new skill, then find a mentor or take a class and learn something new. Starting is the only way to improve.
Step #4: Acknowledge that you are valuable.
Remind yourself of this daily. Talk to yourself out loud and affirm your value. Do not underestimate the power of what you say internally. In fact, how you talk to yourself is a make-it or break-it proposition when it comes to struggle. Many people say horrible things to themselves, generated from the ego that loves control. Paying attention to ego railings is like having a giant thumb pressing down on you. If you listen to the negativity, you will never step out of your box and investigate your incredible self. Again, decide who you want to be and find a way to be that person.
Action: STOP your mind when it starts in on the negativity.
Refuse to give it credence. It is your mind – you get to say what goes on there. Remind yourself daily – hourly, in fact – that you are valuable. To prevent becoming overwhelmed with negative self-talk, move. Get out into nature and take a walk while breathing deeply. Take action, such as cleaning out a closet or drawer. When you have calmed down, write in a journal to expunge fears, and then write about your desires, hopes and dreams. Clear your mind so that you remember that you are valuable – a unique piece to the universal puzzle that makes everything work.
Step #5: Dump any emotional baggage.
This includes memories of being hurt, offended, or criticized. Let it go! Remember that what others project out is what is inside of them, and not a reflection of your own success.
Action: Observe your thoughts for ten minutes a day.
Take notes. When you have a “blaming thought”, stop and correct yourself. “Wait. I am responsible for my life.” If you find yourself feeling resentment or thinking, “poor me,” make an adjustment and change your thoughts. Sometimes we are tempted to ruminate, but it is exactly at those moments when you must catch yourself and interrupt your pattern. Deliberately think about something else: Remember a time when you confidently handled some situation in your life and you did it well. Keep correcting yourself and eventually the victim thoughts will lesson.
Step 6: Find a way to express yourself.
Everyone is creative and creativity should be expressed. Everyone needs an outlet to express energy, one that is uniquely one’s own. Experiment until you discover yours.
Action: Start with things that come easy for you.
Decorating cakes, coaching a soccer team, organizing, making friends. Then expand on that. If you’re not sure how to do that, then take classes until you discover a way that feels good for you. Teaching, volunteering, sales, accounting, and business – these are all creative endeavors. Don’t worry about monetizing your efforts. Just do it for fun. You never know where it will take you.
Step 7: Become a possibility-thinker.
When you look at a person, relationship, or opportunity, ask yourself, “What are the possibilities here?” Most people don’t see possibilities because they never ask the question. You must ask the question and seek possibilities. What if joining a study group opens up opportunities to learn new skills, meet amazing people, or start a new career? What if taking a new route to work reveals a short cut, a new restaurant in town, or a beautiful view. Be curious and try new things.
Action: Make a list of all the possible ways to do something.
Pick a subject and write it down at the top of the sheet of paper. For instance: If you want to go back to school and you need tuition money, what are some ways you could pay for it? Here are some ideas: You could take the money out of savings, get a school loan or grant, procure a home equity line of credit, ask someone to help you, put it on your credit card, win the lottery, trade services with someone for paying your tuition, get a job that subsidizes schooling, join the military so you can go to college, win a contest, find a benefactor, and so forth. These are a few possibilities, but you can come up with more. If you are saying to yourself, “that won’t work,” ignore those thoughts. Those thoughts are the ones that keep you in the struggle.
Step 8: Turn failure into triumph.
It is important to pay attention to what you have previously called failure because this is where you can slip into struggle. The loss of a job doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world; it is an opportunity to find a better one or maybe start a whole new business. When a relationship ends, it may leave you feeling feel lost and disoriented. However, the completion of a relationship may indicate you have outgrown it, learned the lesson it was to teach you, or someone new is waiting for you. By facing the unknown and turning “failure” into triumph, you discover more about yourself. Sometimes the gift is learning that quiet time alone can be restorative.
Action: Do an assessment and write out your conclusions.
First, look back at your life and notice what “failure” actually led to a better opportunity. When did that unexpected turn in the road guide you to something amazing and wonderful? You took a detour only to discover your soul mate. You didn’t get into a certain school, only to discover a different learning opportunity that led to your dream career. Pause to ponder this: Is there anything in your life now that you consider terrible? And let me ask you this: Have you ever been wrong? Is it possible that this terrible situation is a lead in to a thrilling new escapade? If it’s happened in the past, it very likely will happen again. Do a personal audit and you will be amazed how failures were really just direction changes.
Whatever it is that you struggle with, get busy and reboot your perspective. Squash the struggle and you’ll have a lot more energy to create the life you want.
Jean Walters is an internationally-known teacher and transformational coach who designs and presents classes and workshops in empowerment, meditation, building communication skills, universal laws, dreams interpretation, strengthening intuition, and creating spiritual connection for many organizations including colleges, universities, spiritual groups, and businesses. She writes for numerous major newspapers and publications and hosts a nationally syndicated radio show called Positive Moments. She is a favorite featured guest on other radio and television programs. Her books include Be Outrageous: Do the Impossible, Set Yourself Free: Live the life YOU were meant to Live, and Dreams and the Symbology of Life. She has performed over 35,000 readings with the emphasis on providing insight regarding personal growth, life purpose, strengthening relationships, and moving through obstacles.