When we have negative experiences associated with certain events we tend to avoid those experiences moving forward. I think that’s a totally normal reaction because of course you don’t want to keep having bad experiences.
However, what can end up happening is that you limit yourself in the future. You avoid things that will help you grow and develop as a person.
Let’s say growing up you had a bad experience with public speaking. You didn’t feel confident, stumbled over your words, forgot what you wanted you say and ended up feeling really embarrassed. Based on that experience you decided that you’d never do public speaking again. You now associate it with feeling uncomfortable and you don’t think it’s something you could ever be good at so you actively avoid it.
It’s gotten to the point that now just the thought of speaking in public is enough to fill you with anxiety.
A whole decade could have passed by yet you’re still deeply impacted by the feelings associated with a past memory.
In this situation, I think the only way to overcome it is to do the thing that scares you. Of course it might not go swimmingly but being embarrassed or forgetting your words isn’t the worst possible thing that could happen you . It’s not good but it could be so much worse. I think changing the way you think about a situation not turning out perfectly is so important.
Focus on just being able to do it and get through it without all the extra pressure of being perfect. Try, try and try again even if it means feeling a bit uncomfortable and being a little awkward.
In time, you go from associating public speaking with being fear and embarrassment to it being a way to express yourself.
Doing this allows you to eventually rewrite the memory associated with that experience.
As we go through life we develop ideas of what freedom would look like or feel like for ourselves. It may come from how you were brought up, the career aspirations you have or maybe just how you feel in particular moments.
If the idea of feeling liberated matters to you then it’s worth while creating a life that aligns with that.
Maybe for you liberation comes from being able to have last minute getaways a few times a year. It could be a day in a new city or a week somewhere far away. What matters is that you have the choice to do it.
It could be that freedom for you comes from being able to speak your mind without worrying about what other people will think.
Or perhaps you feel free when you don’t have to explain yourself to other people, as in you’re free to make choices without having to justify them.
Choosing a life that conflicts with what makes you feel free only leads to frustration. Frustration towards those that have become a barrier to your freedom and frustration towards yourself for ending up in these circumstances.
In all this, one of the most important things to remember is that freedom is a feeling. You might not feel free right now but you can always feel differently tomorrow (or a few months from now once you’ve made some changes in your life).
Many people find it difficult to commit to exercising. One of the reasons for this is being focused on wanting to look a particular way which may not happen for 6 months.
If you show up for each session with your end goal in mind, you might find yourself getting frustrated or impatient because you know you still have a long way to go.
On the other hand, you could instead focus on the endorphins, the way exercising makes you feel. If every time you feel a little resistance to begin a workout you remind yourself of how good you’ll feel once it’s done, that might be all the motivation you need.
The way you would react when you’re angry, upset, frustrated or annoyed is not the same way you’d respond when you’re calm and relaxed.
Of course this is fairly obvious, yet how many times have you allowed your feelings to get the better of you instead of simply taking some time.
What ends up happening is you regret it later because now you’re calm, now you can see that actually this other person was trying to be helpful, in fact you agree with them. Maybe you look back and feel like the way you reacted didn’t even make sense.
Now that you’re calmer you can play out in your mind, the way you wish you had responded.
And then you can hold onto that and remember it for next time.
Sometimes change begins not with action but with a feeling.
Perhaps you find yourself doing something you’ve done for years, something that you usually enjoy but this time it feels different.
And so you have 2 choices. The first is to follow that feeling and the second is to ignore it.
Following that feeling will allow you to go with the tide and become the person that you are developing into.
If you choose to ignore, it means resisting the flow of life. This happens when we are not ready to change because sometimes we feel like we need more time.
But eventually you’ll get bored of not growing and you’ll find ourselves seeking out the very thing you didn’t think you were ready for.
Around 18 months ago I created a Pick me up playlist.
The reason I did this is in the name, I wanted a pick me up. But more importantly I wanted something I could go back to.
I’m lucky enough to know how the music I listen to makes me feel and, I curated a playlist of songs to listen to when I am in need of a pick me up.
It is simple yet incredibly effective.
And of course the music doesn’t fix the issue but it reminds me what it is like to feel good and that makes me want to make the effort to make things better.
If you’re someone that enjoys listening to music, I’d advise you to give it a go.
You don’t even need to create a whole playlist but the next time you feel down just listen to one of your favourite songs and see how it makes you feel.
How often do you honestly say how you feel when you don’t feel particularly good?
It’s fairly easy to talk about how happy you are, how much you’re looking forward to something or how great you feel. But when it comes to saying I feel low, I feel sad or I’m not feeling my best, most of us are much less willing to be open.
Instead you’ll find yourself saying things like ‘I’m fine’ even though you don’t mean it at all. Feeling sad or feeling low isn’t a bad thing, it isn’t something that you have to hide.
And sometimes all you need to feel better is to simply talk about why you don’t feel so great.
When you’ve spent weeks, months or year working towards something it might feel strange when it finally happens.
The thing is often when we want something as much as we think about getting it, we don’t truly consider how it will actually feel.
Of course you’ll be happy but our thought process doesn’t always go beyond that.
I suppose it’s because there’s no real way of knowing how you’ll feel.
There will be times when you’ll work towards something but don’t feel happy, excited or even particularly pleased when you get it. Whereas other times you’re overjoyed with the things you’ve managed to achieve.
I think how you feel in the end depends on things like how long it took to a achieve, whether you still truly wanted it and how much it impacts your life.
All decisions about whether or not you should do something come down to yes or no questions.
Should I move to another city?
Should I cut my hair short?
Should I ask him out to dinner?
The questions on their own are simple but when we add in context, feelings and fears we make it much more complicated. Granted, context can be helpful because if the person you’re considering asking to dinner is in a relationship, it’s probably best not to bother.
However, the added information can also be unhelpful.
Take moving to another city, you might be super excited but also kind of scared because of the uncertainty, even though you feel like you need a change.
When you allow feelings related to fear to be at the forefront of your mind, it can often hinder your ability to make decisions.
So sometimes it’s best to remove all the details and ask yourself a simple question. Answer yes or no, stick with it and move forward.
Sometimes it’s good to have a statement that serves as guidance for the direction of your life.
When you feel stuck, stagnant and discontent wondering what to do next pick the best possible next step.
Close your eyes and ask yourself ‘What is the best possible next step I can take?’
Whatever answer comes up, do it.
It could be as small as turning off your phone or drinking a glass of water. It could be as big as resigning from your job or ending a relationship.
Once you take the first step if you still feel stuck ask yourself the question again, keep doing that until you no longer feel stuck, stagnant or discontent.