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By Rachael Yahne
Being the romantic that I am, I often like to think about going back and giving my younger self some kind of advice, some little bite of wisdom that might change the past. For instance, “That guy is going to turn out a total loser,” or, “Black pleather pants will look really silly in your school picture.”
The funny thing about going back and telling yourself advice is that it’s not our past that needs our wisdom; it’s our current selves.
When injustice occurred back then, we made a decision about ourselves. But it’s the present self that’s living with the belief we formed back then. Thus, it’s much more productive to think about the kind of wisdom we can offer ourselves in the here and now. After all, now is the only moment we really have to make any kind of difference.
It doesn’t matter if you’re in your 20s or your 40s. If there’s negativity and worry infiltrating your self-concept, it’s up to you to do the mental working of cleaning up your act.
1. “I’m lonely.”
We keep hoping that love will make us feel happy, because we won’t be alone. The problem isn’t being alone; it’s being with yourself. The solution isn’t a partner; it’s to be happy when you’re in your own company.
Then if you find love, you won’t be demanding it to “fix” you or fulfill you. You won’t need anything from it. You’ll simply enjoy it. And enjoying it without depending on it will keep that love from wanting to leave you because it feels trapped.
Being alone can be uncomfortable at first. Why? Because it forces us to sit down with the thoughts we’d rather avoid. But the practice of solitude is an important one that goes from uncomfortable to nourishing quite quickly. When you can spend time with yourself, you’ll start to enjoy your own company. Then you’ll realize why other people like your company too.
Instead, say: “I enjoy and appreciate myself enough to be alone. I practice solitude.”
2. “I don’t like my body. My body isn’t good enough.”
First and foremost, good enough for whom? You? A guy? The media? This blank and generalizing question is infuriating. What did your body ever do to make you hold such a grudge?
If you don’t like it, give it to someone who will. Because your one body is your one vehicle that holds your heart and your brain, that encases your soul, a soul distinct to you, a personality individual to you, and it’s all tucked safely inside this one body, this one temple that you are in charge of.
You can’t trade your body for someone else’s, so stop wishing for that through denial and self-hatred. You can, however, love and improve the one you have. This one body is in your care, just like a child. Feed it well. Wash it. Cherish it. Let it rest and relax so you can take it out into the world.
Instead, say: “My body is a gift, not a right, and I cherish and appreciate it.”
3. “I’m not happy in my job/career.”
Honestly ask, and honestly answer: What skills do you have that will help others in a way that will also provide you with the satisfaction of knowing you’re part of a solution? What can you do to give back more?
They say that true happiness comes from giving, not receiving. Think less about the money and the work hours, and more about what kind of action will allow you to give your special traits and gifts to this very demanding world. It might in fact be that your job isn’t the problem, but how you’re behaving within it, and how hard you’re striving for a goal you once saw there.
Instead, say: “I focus more on what I give than what I receive. I practice humility.”
4. “I’m not lovable. I’m unworthy of affection.”
You’re the person who spends the most time with you. You’ve spent your whole life being you. You’ve seen all the things you’ve overcome, you’ve been through every bad day and every trial and tribulation. Plus, you’ve seen all the times you’ve shined and succeeded, too. You know you best of all. Sit with that a while. What do you think of you?
You’re not others. You’re not anyone else but you. And you know you better than anyone else. So stop relying on other people who don’t even know you that well to be the deciders of what or who you are, what you’re worth. You decide that. And you run with it.
And when you decide that, you’ll see that you’re pretty great at being you. You’ve been doing it a long time, and now it’s time to focus on being the best you.
Instead, say: “I give love to myself first, then others.”
5. “I don’t have enough money.”
Money is a real concern. In fact, it’s one of the biggest contributing factors to relationship demise, because worrying and fighting about money makes us feel primordially unsafe.
The solution isn’t to get more money; it’s to get money-smart, so that instead of acting from fear or depletion, you act from knowledge. If you ever avoid looking at your account because you’re terrified of what’s inside, then you’re acting from fear.
The only type of people who don’t worry about money are the kind that stare down the beast and figure out a game plan. It’s not about having more than enough. If you had a lot of money but no idea how or what to do with it, you’d be just as freaked out and miserable. Focus less on the amount, and more on wisely managing what you have.
There are books, online tutorials, TV shows, and even associates at your local bank who can sit down with you and help you. Step by step. Be the kind of person who sacrifices an hour of her time to figure that out, because you deserve one less worry.
Instead, say: “I’m in control of my lifestyle.”
6. “Good things happen to other people, but not to me. It’s not fair.”
Life’s not fair. Haven’t they been telling us all that since grade school? Why are we still waiting for it to even out? Why not accept that it isn’t, and stop waiting for the magic to make us feel better about circumstances we’ve created for ourselves?
Taking responsibility for your current situation — your job, your relationship, your income, your health — means facing the fact that you have a lot of power.
You have the power to be healthier. You have the power to be a better partner, or find a better partner. You have the power to move across the country or quit your job or write a book. But simply accepting that power can be intimidating.
And there will be absolutely no worse feeling than that of knowing you let fear keep you from doing something amazing. Your fear isn’t real. Kill the boogey monster. Live your dreams before it’s too late.
Instead, say: “I embrace my power to change my own life. I rise to the occasion that is my life.”
7. “I don’t know what I want to do with my life.”
Stop worrying about finding a passion and start looking around at the things that already interest you. It doesn’t have to be your day job; it can be a hobby. It can be something free and something you devote a small portion of your life to with joy and gratitude.
Stop waiting, and start going out and looking for answers yourself. Read books, study on your own, talk to people, do whatever you have to do. Stop asking the world to provide things to you, and start going out and looking for ways to give back to it, to create for it and within it, to volunteer yourself rather than waiting to be called.
Instead, say: “I eternally continue to follow my curiosity and passion.”
8. “I never get what I want in ___ (love, work, life, friendships).”
Nope, and you’re never going to just get it. It’s never going to magically come your way. This victim routine is such an overplayed record in our generation.
The truth is, you have to go get it. You have to do the work. There’s not much more that needs to be said. You’re not a princess locked in a tower. Go out the front door and make it happen. Stop playing the victim of your own life.
Instead, say: “I do what I must to get what I want. I don’t wait for opportunity, I make them for myself.”
The power of your mind is greater than you accept, and if you accept that it defines your reality, you’ll be able to shape a reality you’re absolutely in love with.
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