Welcome to the club. Welcome to the imperfect human race. Failure is a part of life.
This has been said a million times in tonnes of different ways and I will say it again - You are not defined by how many times or how spectacularly you fail – you are defined by how you gather yourself back up again and rise above it all. You only have to do it one more time, every time. Just one more.
Striving to be better, instead of perfect, which of course is an unattainable goal. How do we do it, when the whole idea seems impossible? We break the impossible big picture into manageable chunks. And then work out the process of success, one step at a time. The first thing we all need to do often is …Stop. Just stop. Wait a minute…not quite Bruno Mars – but you get my drift.
Embrace the pause
The pause allows you perspective. It gives you the ability to breathe, to calm, to process, to plan.
Shut negative thoughts down
Negative thoughts are like the drunk handsy guest who you never invited to the party,
but you can’t take your eyes or focus off, and don’t have the confidence to evict.
They party on, even when all the other guests have left, making a mess of what you, and your loved ones have spent years building. We ALL have them, and most of them are complete and utter bollocks. We need to bring out our inner lioness ladies, or lion for you men – we need to stare that ugliness in the face – all of those thoughts we use to bully ourselves and tell them to back the heck off. To get out – and take their mates with them!
When my 9-year old daughter comes to me with a complaint about somebody speaking something hurtful over her, or a thought that won’t go away I ask two questions – every time.
“Is it true?” 99% of the time the answer is no, then I ask, “Is it kind?” – no again.
“So, if it is not true, and it is not kind what they are saying has no power, so, don’t give it a voice.”
And then I speak life and truth into her, and pray that those are the lyrics on her internal soundtrack when life gets a bit rough. These are her affirmations, they replace lies with truth, judgmental thoughts with encouraging ones, and they teach her to self-manage her emotional response to these circumstances on her own. Many of us adults need to learn to do the same thing.
This can seem like a whole heap of nuttery, but it works. This is where the fake it till you make it idea comes from. Repeat positive affirmations until you believe them. Until new, more helpful neural-pathways replace the old. Believe it or not, this process is a scientific one. Look it up.
Why is it that we allow negative thoughts to permeate, and infiltrate our lives? We open ourselves up to them and believe them as truths – yet when a positive word is spoken over us, or we try to affirm ourselves it feels stupid or unwarranted? Well, stop it!
Pause. Taste the words. Allow them to settle in.
When somebody gives you a compliment, accept it, trust it, store it away for later. When somebody offends or criticises your character/appearance/abilities or tries to put a dent in your armour – ask yourself. ‘Is it true? Is it kind?’ If the answer is no to both, slide up your shield and deny their words access to your thought-life. This takes practice, and of course if you are not accustomed to it, it will take effort – but the difference it makes in your life – to your psyche and perspectives about yourself and your life will be tangible.
Be genuine in your apology to yourself, and to others
If you have hurt somebody, either intentionally or otherwise, or if your mess-up affected somebody else - own it and apologise.
Not everybody is going to offer you grace,
sometimes there is a process we need to journey through to restore relationships and reputations.
Sometimes while forgiveness may or may not be offered, relationships will come to an end, and other times an apology is enough. You cannot control others' responses, but you can control yours.
Accept your own apology & forgive yourself
This can be the hardest step, especially if we don’t believe we deserve to be forgiven. But forgiveness is not about what we deserve. It is about taking the reigns back, it's about removing the power from that situation/that mistake/that past history to control your present and your future – removing its hands from your throat, removing the brick wall between us and a positive and fulfilling life.
If we are going to take our thoughts captive, and live the life we desire, we have to allow ourselves to move on from our mistakes. Forgiveness allows us to walk in freedom, to make progress and changes going forward.
I am always apologising to my children, for being reactive or not prioritising them when I should have. They are learning by my example to own up to their shortcomings, to their mistakes, and then take steps to improve and make better choices.
Embrace the process – one step at a time.
Changing the way we behave and most certainly the way we think about ourselves takes time. It takes commitment, and it takes repeating this process over and over again until it becomes second nature, until a new neural-pathway has been forged. Until you recognise a rogue negative thought for what it is and block it before it hits its mark and takes root.
Leave the past where it belongs – behind you.
Stop looking back, you are not going there.
Your direction is defined by your focus.
Often there is a process you need to walk through to be able to do this – do it. If you need to see a professional, or a Pastor or respected elder in your life – do it. Find people you trust to be your accountability buddies, those who will gently tap you on the shoulder when you are going off track and remind you to stay the course, those who will step in when they see you struggling, without judgement, and those who will encourage and celebrate the wins and laugh with you.
Choose a positive outlook, choose to be joyful.
Every morning. Daily. Hourly… This is a choice. Happiness is temporary and fickle, but joy is a powerful perspective shifter, it is a state of mind, a lens through which you see the world. It allows you to be optimistic when your circumstances call for pessimism. It allows you to see those things which you are grateful for despite life throwing some major curve balls. It allows you to raise your chin and keep moving toward the light, when the storm is swirling around you. And it allows you to laugh, even on the darkest days. It doesn't mean sadness won't come, it will - because life is one wild roller coaster, but choosing joy as a daily practice means that sadness will not turn into despair. It means you can get up, no matter how hard you fall. It means you can heal, no matter how deep your pain.
And lastly. Guard your tongue.
The words you speak about your life and about your circumstances matter. They have power to heal and destroy. Don't use them as a weapon against yourself or others.
Rinse and repeat.