If you are like me you may be shocked to hear how many talented hopefuls have been loosing their struggles with depression or drugs and other addictions. We wonder how seemingly successful people can have such problems.
Before I started to put The Women’s Code together I had my own demons to conquer. This past weekend I helped put together a memorial service for Doris Miller, a former neighbor and wonderful friend for 15 years, who passed away at the age of 82.
As I was looking through photographs to put a slide show for the service together, I saw many pictures of myself and I was shocked. I looked angry and bitter. A friend pointed out that I don’t even look like the same person. Mind you, this also was one of the darkest decades of my life – I was forced out of my home by a horrible new landlord, I was in debt to the tune of $135,000, I was facing bankruptcy, and my father had just passed away in Germany after a six week intense battle with pancreatic cancer. Looking at these old photos of myself reminded me just how hard my struggles were.
It was not a fun way to live. And I was very fearful.
We can have many fears. Fear that we are not going to make it through whatever ugly situation we are currently facing, fear that we are not enough, fear that what we are facing right now will define the rest of our lives. We fear that we are failing in making ourselves happy, we fear we will not a make a meaningful contribution and our lives will be worthless, and we fear that we can’t find happiness or love.
I realized that while I cannot define my circumstances – I can define how I deal with them. Granted, the blows I was facing 15 years ago weren’t little blows, they were life changing blows. They were coming in quick succession and little by little they chipped away at my confidence. No matter how much of a good face I tried to put on, deep inside the little girl in me was hiding fearfully under the bed, not wanting to come out. She was scared.
If you can relate to what I just described, you may suffer from a lack of confidence, like I was in those dark days. There is a difference between the successful, happy, in-control persona we show to others and that vulnerable, sensitive person inside that we don’t allow many to see. That is the side of us lacking confidence and the part that we need to nurture and build back up.
It can be that we have been bullied, made fun of, abused, ignored by a dad or a mom who were too busy with their own problems to pay much attention to us – each of us has a story of adversity to tell.
The good news is that this doesn’t have to define you anymore. You can do something about it. I encourage you to make a conscious choice today to do just that. Here is a great Ted® talk by Dan Gilbert on the science of happiness in case you want to dig a little deeper.
Here is how. Start by making a list of things that are fun for you. Take that list and do the best you can to do something that is fun every single day. Even though at first you may feel it’s not fun because in this twisted state of being we may think of it as yet another thing to do! But little by little you can retrain your mind to start finding more joy. You don’t HAVE to garden, you get to dig in the garden because you like it. You don’t HAVE to visit a friend; you choose to hang out with your friends. You don’t HAVE to cook dinner; you involve everyone and make it your family time.
Recognize every single time you are doing something fun – notice you are doing something that you defined as fun and that would make you happy. That is how you start to turn things around. You may find this article on setting priorities helpful.
Hope this helps – let me know how this idea works for you.