A fresh start is a mindset not an action

When you think of a fresh start, what comes to mind?

A new city, a new stage in education, a new country, a new relationship, a new job, a promotion or a new home.

As much as those things are the beginning of new chapters in our lives, they don’t necessarily mark a fresh start. I think what matters so much more is the mindset. Sometimes people find that they move to a new city and get a new job but everything they wanted to escape from stays with them. They find themselves in a new city with the same old problems.

It’s possible to change your mindset, stay in the exact same place and still get the effects of a fresh start. Things like moving to a new city, changing your hair or getting a new job all serves as visual signifiers for ourselves and also to the outside world that something has changed.

What needs to change?

Think about all the things that are currently bothering you, contribute to you feeling stuck or just causing a problem in your life. Write them down one by one.

Now go through each of them and think about what needs to change in order to overcome the problem. Then, write it down.

If you’re not sure, give yourself options. It could be 2 possible solutions or it could be 10.

The purpose of the exercise is to remind you that although you may feel stuck, all of your problems have solutions.

The problem with letting things slide

If you get someone used to treating you a certain way or acting in a particular way towards you, the person will come to expect you to allow it.

Sometimes you allow things that you aren’t okay with because you don’t want to rock the boat, hurt the persons feelings or you’ve told yourself that being clear about what you’re not okay with is confrontational. And so instead of saying, ‘I’m not okay with you doing that’ you say, ‘No worries’ or ‘It’s okay’.

Doing this teaches the other person that you’re okay with what they’re doing. We often fall into the idealism of thinking people will automatically know what we’re thinking or feeling but it’s not true. We shouldn’t expect people to read our minds when we can use our voices.

I’m not sure who said it but there’s a quote or perhaps a tweet that goes something like ‘You have to teach people how to treat you’. Yet, we’re taught to almost just accept how we’re treated as long as a person doesn’t have bad intentions.

I find that the relationships where I am very clear, where I call things out instead of letting them slide, are the ones that I feel most comfortable in. When you put pressure on yourself to always be fine with everything even when you’re not it builds up feelings of resentment, anger or frustration and that energy has to go somewhere.

It either leads to an outburst towards the person you should have been clear with from the start or an outburst at someone totally unrelated to the situation.

Using your voice and speaking your mind

And sometimes you realise that you’ve changed. Maybe few years ago or even just last year you’d have said nothing, said it was fine and pushed how you felt aside. You may have been upset, hurt or just frustrated but you were too afraid to show it for fear of your feelings being invalidated.

But now you’re different, you’re not waiting for someone else and you’re not relying on validation. It probably feels empowering because after all this time you’re finally using your voice and speaking your mind.

For everyone else in your life, this may come as a shock because they’re so used to you hiding away and being okay with everything. The shock of others can be enough for some to revert to their old ways, especially if there is a fear of losing people. However, speaking your mind is important, you don’t need to be in a constant state of ‘good’, ‘fine’, ‘not too bad’ or ‘alright’.

Maybe you’re not alright and of course you’ll feel better later but why not honour how you feel in the moment and express it.

The resignation daydream

When a person finds themselves in a job role they don’t want to be in, it often takes a while to leave.

They may regularly have the thought that of handing in their resignation, being in a job where they feel valued or starting over in a new city. However, they don’t take these thoughts seriously enough for them to result in taking action. Instead they consider them to be like a sort of daydream.

And this can go on for months or even years until they finally decide that they’ve truly had enough.

Or sometimes they’re pushed by unfortunate circumstances.

I guess the point is that if you’re unhappy and you know exactly what the cause is then you should do something about it. Happiness is possible, it doesn’t just have to be something that you daydream about.

What if things could be easier?

I have this belief about the people that we meet.

I believe that sometimes we meet people who may be in our lives for a few days, a few months or maybe for years and years but we meet them and they become reminders. They remind us of the way that things can be.

Maybe there is something in your life that is challenging, frustrating, difficult or stressful, the total opposite of easeful. Chances are, within your mind you know that things could or even should be different but you’re so used to the way that things are that you just allow them to remain.

Then all of a sudden you meet a person that shows you a different way. It can be shocking or surprising because you’re not used to it. Maybe you even judge it as being wrong or not the way that things should be because you’re so used to them being otherwise. Sometimes the ease of the situation is the very thing that you’ve been longing for but when you get it, you almost resist because you’ve gotten used to things being difficult .

I think that’s something a lot of people struggle with. So many people are used to things being difficult that they almost get hesitant when things become easier. Sometimes we unknowingly use the challenge and the difficulty to justify getting the thing we want. You end up feeling as though if you didn’t have to struggle to achieve something then you didn’t really deserve it. I think it’s healthy to let go of that mindset, not everything has to be difficult.

Growth points

It could be difficult, challenging and uncomfortable. But it also serves as an opportunity to learn and grow, if you’re willing to be open.

If you’re a regular reader then growth points is a term you’ll have seen me use every now and then in posts such as Bravery and uncontrollable outcomes, Day 183, It’s okay to be you and Unexpected and interesting.

However, I recently realised that I’ve never really explained the term or idea in great detail. I made the term up for myself and to be honest it’s just an alternative to the word challenge. However, the focus is on growth and overcoming rather than the difficulty of the situation.

When you face a situation that perhaps in the moment you wish wasn’t happening, it’s easy to just think that ‘it’s the most terrible thing in the world’. You then might find yourself getting caught in a downward spiral of unhelpful thoughts that leave you feeling stuck.

That mindset or perspective that you find yourself in never leads to growth. You have to find a way to get through it and see things differently.

I think the getting through it part is most challenging because it can be easy to stay stuck. A moment of sadness can turn into hours or days of wallowing.

One thing that helps is to be very conscious in how you think about the situations that come up in your life instead if just getting caught up. Acknowledge it as a challenging situation rather than blowing it out of proportion and allowing one situation to become your entire life.

And from that perspective you can begin to think about how you can grow from it. The great thing is that once you grow from it, you can now take that lesson forward with you for as long as it serves you well. Then next time something happens you can fall back that all that you’ve previously experienced, learnt and grown from.

Coming back to you

When it’s just you yourself and you, how do you live?

How do you spend your time? And the times when you feel most like yourself, what are you doing?

For me it’s journaling, walking in green spaces, listening to my favourite music (The jezabels, Funkadelic/Parliament and The Stone Roses), creating with my hands, getting lost in a good book, writing blog posts and just writing in general.

In the midst of life, these things can be easy to forget and sometimes we go so far as to even forget ourselves. Then we end up feeling lost and unsure of what to do next.

We often feel most like ourselves when we return to childhood things. Things we did when we were young without a care in the world. You weren’t focused on competing or what other people would think, you were simply just being you.

There’s no such thing as a stupid question

If you aspire to allow your curiosity to come out and play then this quote is one to live by.

Asking questions can be scary and uncomfortable so taking on a mindset that no question is stupid may help to relieve some of those feelings. But after mustering up the courage to ask, if you don’t get the kind of answer you’d have liked then you can end up feeling disheartened and wishing that you’d just said nothing.

However in this situation, it’s important to focus on the action, not the outcome. keeping quite may leave you riddled with fear and anxiety which comes with little to no benefit. But if you can relieve that by simply asking a question then why not?

Granted nobody wants to hear ‘no’ when they were pining for a ‘yes’. Nevertheless, I think it’s much better to unburden yourself and perhaps end up a little disappointed than it is to keep carrying the burden of an unanswered question even though you know you don’t have to.

Saying what you need

As much as you might know what you need and even want, doesn’t mean anyone else does.

But sometimes we forget that and we end up feeling frustrated. We end up then wondering why the other person won’t say or do certain things. We take it personally and we get upset.

However, more often than not it could all be sorted with a simple conversation. All you have to do is say what you need and then the other person can either meet that or they can’t. If they can, great but if they can’t it’s then up to you to figure out how you want to proceed. But at least you won’t be left wondering why your needs aren’t being met.