Stuck in a rut of endless down days? Healthista life coach Jo Davidson reveals eight practical ways to get yourself out of it and smiling again
Does your life ever feel like a constant challenge, an uphill struggle, or a never-ending hamster wheel? It’s a fact that many of us get stuck in a self-defeating cycle of negativity when things aren’t going our way and, inevitably, the motivation to – and even the belief that we can – change things slips further away from our reach as we grapple with the challenges of everyday life.
Fortunately, there are plenty of simple practices that can turn that negativity around and, by habitualising them into your daily life, you can protect yourself from slipping back into pessimism when the going gets tough.
take time to exercise, journal, meditate, read and eat (well)
The beauty in these steps, is that you can choose to implement them into your life today. There’s no preparation required, and you can begin to reap the benefits immediately. Better yet, habitualise them into your daily life, and improve your experience of life on a consistent basis.
So, let’s take a look at eight of my favourite principles to revitalise your life…
- MAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF
If you are not strong, healthy and energised, then you will never be able to bring your best self to your relationships, work, learning, and play. And, generating positivity, while feeling less than your best, is incredibly difficult. Now, I know, you’re really busy and you probably don’t have the time to squeeze in any you-time, right? Well, I’m afraid that’s just not good enough, because there’s always time when it’s important! So get up an hour earlier than you need to, every day, and spend that hour creating a nurturing morning ritual that will nourish your mind, body and soul.
Take time to exercise, journal, meditate, read and eat (well). You might think you’d rather stay in bed, but you’d be amazed what a difference a simple routine like this can make to your day, your energy levels, and your confidence. Plus, if you don’t tend to sleep as well as you’d like, you’ll find that by rising early, and getting positive energy flowing early in the day, you’ll be happily exhausted and able to rest properly when bedtime comes around.
- AFFIRM YOUR BRILLIANCE
Affirmations are a well-known method for improving your self-esteem, yet many people simply won’t do them because they feel silly or they don’t believe they work. So, if you don’t believe affirming positive thoughts and intentions will work, then consider standing in front of the mirror, for 10 minutes every day, and telling yourself how silly you are, how unintelligent, how unattractive or how little you have to offer. If you did that, for 10 minutes every single day, do you really believe that it would have no impact on your self-esteem? I guarantee you that it would, and pretty quickly too because your mind is conditioned to focus on the bad (a survival instinct honed by 200,000 or so years of evolution).
As it is, you’re probably quietly affirming a number of negatives to yourself every day in any case. So, while it may take a little longer for you to accept the positive affirmations, spending just 5 or 10 minutes each day, reminding yourself of your fantastic abilities, and the positives in your life, will pay dividends with regular repetition.
spending just 5 or 10 minutes each day, reminding yourself of your fantastic abilities will pay dividends with regular repetition
Wondering how to get started? Well, take a little time and write down all of your strengths, and all of the things that you know you are good at, and that other people appreciate in you. If you’re struggling, ask yourself what your mum would say, or your best friend, and consider all of your past achievements. Now this is no time to be stingy with the compliments. You’ve got a negatively conditioned mind to convince, so generosity here is key.
the personal growth that comes from getting back up when you fall, far outstrips any discomfort you’ll feel about having a go in the first place
Also, include all of the things that you have to be grateful for, particularly if you sometimes forget about the blessings that exist in your life. Finally, grab your smart phone and capture them aloud, on your voice recorder. Then, each day you can replay them on a loop while looking yourself in the eye. As you hear them more and more, you’ll soon be able to say them alongside the recording until, eventually, you don’t need the recording at all. Indeed, not only will you learn the words by rote but, as time goes by, the positives will become imprinted in your mind as facts, rather than just “silly” affirmations.
write down all of your strengths, and all of the things that you know you are good at
- ADOPT A SOLUTIONS FOCUS
Life is not an all-or-nothing affair, however if you have a pessimistic/problem focus, you could be fooled into thinking that it is. So, if when things go wrong you find yourself asking, ‘Why does this always happen to me?’ or ‘Why can’t I just make this work?’ then don’t expect to find any answers. Instead, use your incredible, knowledgeable and resourceful mind to discover ‘What is causing this to keep happening?’ or ‘How can I make this work?’ Just a simple change of question will move your focus towards optimistically generating solutions, instead of looking at your challenges as insurmountable obstacles.
- STRETCH YOURSELF
Sitting quietly inside your comfort zone will never increase your sense of self-worth. Because, even though it keeps you safe from rejection and embarrassment, the lack of challenge leads to stagnation which, in time, results in you feeling trapped and incapable of change. Instead, find ways to challenge yourself daily, even if it’s just in little ways, in order to stretch your mind and help you realise your potential. Learn new skills, reach out to new people, offer to share your knowledge, and open yourself to the possibility of rejection – without fearing it.
Sitting quietly inside your comfort zone will never increase your sense of self-worth
The one thing you need to always remember is that not getting the outcome you’re hoping for is not a bad thing. It’s simply a part of developing yourself. And, not winning over every person is not only acceptable, but to be expected.
open yourself to the possibility of rejection – without fearing it
On the other hand, not pushing beyond your current limitations, for fear that you won’t get what you want, is completely debilitating. As it is, the personal growth that comes from getting back up when you fall, far outstrips any discomfort you’ll feel about having a go in the first place.
- COMPARE YOURSELF ONLY TO YOURSELF
If you look around you will always find people who are doing better (and worse) than you. But regularly drawing comparisons will always leave you feeling like you’re not good enough. The fact is, it doesn’t matter if someone is doing better than you. All that matters is that you are striving to do better than you have ever done before. If you only ever try to better your best, without concern for how others are doing, then you will be instantly onto a winner.
- DON’T GIVE YOUR PRECIOUS HEADSPACE TO THE OPINIONS OF OTHERS
Never let the fear of what people will think of you stop you from pursuing what you want. If you’re quietly obsessed with the idea of trying something new, but are worried that people will think you’ve gone cuckoo, or will be anxiously waiting for you to fail, then stop.
Worrying gets you nowhere and, in most cases, other people’s opinions make zero difference to your experience of life. What does make a difference though, is your personal negative fantasising about what they think. The point I’m making is that you have no idea what goes on in anyone else’s head and, unless someone is particularly vocal about sharing their thoughts, which seldom happens, then you’re actually just making it up in your own head. Chances are, they rarely think about you at all and, even if they’re the biggest gossip going, they’ll probably only talk about you for the briefest moment in time before moving on to the next juicy story. So, keep your headspace focused on your own goals and let others think whatever they want.
other people’s opinions make zero difference to your experience of life
- CELEBRATE YOUR ACHIEVEMENTS
Your achievements are a big deal, and every time you downplay them (to yourself or others), you belittle the effort, skills, knowledge and dedication that went into that achievement. Plus, saying that your successes are nothing special, is one sure-fire way to quickly make yourself believe that you are nothing special! So, instead, record your achievements regularly – together with the hard work it took to get there – celebrate them and, when someone compliments you on them, accept that compliment. Don’t brush it off or be embarrassed. Be gracious. They won’t think you’re smug or big-headed. After all, they’ve gone out of their way to share that lovely appreciation, so go out of your way to thank them for their kind words. They’ll enjoy that far more than you countering their compliment with one of your own and, in showing them that you appreciate their feedback, they’ll feel great too. So everyone’s a winner.
- TAKE ADVICE (BUT ONLY FROM PEOPLE YOU’D HAPPILY CHANGE PLACES WITH)
There is a wealth of valuable information around you, which you should do your level best to tap into, because no woman is an island; and, why wouldn’t you want to improve your likelihood of success by utilising the knowledge and experience of people who are already achieving what you’re looking for?
So reach out to people who you can learn from, and who will be supportive of your personal development. However, be very careful when listening to friends, family and colleagues, who will often have lots of opinions about your plans. If they’re telling you what you should do, or warning you that your ideas will not bear fruit, it is very likely that this is due to their own perceived limitations, rather than any actual expertise. Ask yourself, would you gladly change places with that person? And, have they achieved the success that you’re striving for? If they have, then it’s probably worth listening to them. If not, you might want to look to get advice from elsewhere.
Make it work: Try keeping a diary to record how positive you feel each day, on a scale of 1 to 10, starting from right now, and monitor your progress over the next 30 days? Commit to it, reflect on your successes each day and, if you notice that you’ve slipped into old habits, make a conscious decision to return to these principles. I’d love to know how you get on.
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Jo Davidson is a life coach and Neuro Linguistic Programming practitioner at Live Yourself Happy. She specializes in helping clients overcome their own limiting beliefs and live their lives by their own design.