Stop being a victim
Confession time: I was the world’s biggest victim. I felt everything was stacked against me.
The reason why my relationships failed? That was down to my turbulent childhood and not having good role models. Why I never got promoted at work? That was because no one appreciated my efforts. If someone spoke down to me, well, that was because there was something about me that made them think it was ok. I didn’t come from money and had no safety net to fall back on so I couldn’t follow my dreams.
I felt life wasn’t fair.
Life isn’t fair
The truth is, life isn’t fair. Some people are born into exceptionally difficult circumstances. Sadly, the situation of our early years wrongly has a massive impact on our life chances. Our health: mental and physical can also be a lottery and completely outside of our control.
I’m not saying this to try and illustrate life can be much harder for other people so just suck it up. If someone had said this to me, I would have felt even more useless and misunderstood. Plus, there was truth to how I was feeling.
I’m using it to illustrate that we all will deal with issues: some people more than others. It’s what you do afterwards that really counts.
Please note, afterwards is a very long time so don’t use that to beat yourself up either.
Truth in your feelings
The truth is a lot of my feelings were valid.
It’s harder to understand what a healthy relationship is when you didn’t grow up around many of them. I had quite a black and white view: relationships are either good or bad and I didn’t really understand they require work.
I also had zero confidence so whilst people speaking down to me is absolutely their responsibility, I just didn’t know how to navigate it.
I had the self-awareness to realise these issues were the root cause of most of my problems.
What I didn’t realise was they were things I could change.
Changing the narrative in your head
Where I was going wrong was to use how I felt as the story of my life.
I would never do well because I lacked confidence. I was really good at identifying situations or events that backed up how I felt. However, I never reflected on when I’d done well.
The reality was that on paper, I was reasonably successful. I perhaps hadn’t fulfilled my full potential, but, I wasn’t doing too badly either. I just didn’t realise it.
I was letting my feelings dictate the course of my life by telling myself they were fact.
Take responsibility for your own life
I was a bit late to the party in realising the only person with responsibility for my life was me.
I started to stop searching for someone to come and look after me and decided to make myself happy instead.
The biggest and most simplest change I made was my gratitude practice. I’ve written about this in previous blogs and how it completely reframed my thinking. I stopped focusing so much on what was wrong with my life and saw what was good.
I also realised there were certain things I was telling myself that maybe weren’t true anymore. I’d always said I was bad at public speaking and so avoided it like the plague. I would always let other people take the lead at work and pull out of job interviews if they had presentations involved. I decided to stop saying no, and you know what.. it’s really not that bad. Yes, I still feel self-conscious but the narrative in my head has changed.
This made me realise there were more things I was hiding behind that were no longer the case.
I always think it’s important to think of change as a sliding scale involving small incremental steps.
We would never expect to run a marathon overnight without any training; yet we expect to become different people overnight and then have feelings of self-loathing when we don’t.
Change is gradual and often there is progress where we don’t even see it. As cheesy as it sounds, it’s a journey.
I’m never going to be the world’s most confident person and that’s ok. I think about it far less and look at it when it’s an issue.
I also recognise the buck stops with me. I’m no longer waiting for someone to pluck me out of obscurity. I don’t need the external validation as much as I used to. Plus it’s up to me to manage my own life.
Sometimes it’s worth drawing a line in the sand to say, this was then, and this is now. The past is the past. It doesn’t determine your future.