Self-esteem isn’t just about feeling better. It’s about doing better.

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Building self-esteem isn’t just about feeling better. Although you will feel better once you build and maintain healthy self-esteem. And feeling better is a perfectly valid goal in itself.

No, self-esteem isn’t just about feeling better. It’s about doing better.

Our brains are not dumb (no matter what our early conditioning may have led us to believe). Our brains, in fact, work very hard to determine how much energy and focus to put into various tasks.

If our brains take a look at a task and come to the conclusion that the task probably can’t be mastered with the resources we have available, they’ll often respond by diminishing the amount of energy and focus we’re willing to devote to that task.

Psychologists call this sudden plunge in motivation “learned helplessness”— the emotionally-driven conclusion that we just can’t do something, so why even bother trying.

Likewise, if our brains take a look at a task and come to the conclusion that the payoff that might come from completing it just isn’t worth it, they’ll respond again by diminishing the amount of energy and focus we’re willing to dedicate to that task.

This phenomenon has been studied extensively by behavioral psychologists, who examine how the expectation of reinforcement influences our levels of motivation.

Then there’s that other thing our brains sometimes do: they’ll take a look at a task and come to the conclusion that we don’t deserve to succeed at it.

This is where the rubber meets the road, self-esteem wise. This is how a dearth of healthy self-esteem comes home to roost in a practical way. This is how damaged self-esteem ruins our lives, day by day.

Why might our brains decide we’re not “worthy” of successfully completing a task?

Maybe we’ve had experiences in the past that have convinced us we’re not strong.

Maybe we’ve received messages from important others in our lives that have convinced us we’re not fundamentally good or kind.

Maybe we’ve been acting on those negative messages about ourselves for so long, living out those early scripts and programming so thoroughly, that we’ve come to believe those things inside and out. Maybe we’ve let ourselves believe that we simply don’t deserve success.

It’s virtually impossible to motivate ourselves to do challenging things if we don’t fundamentally believe we are worthy and capable.

Think about it: if we don’t have a basic belief in our worthiness or our efficacy, why on earth would our brain fire us up to tackle tasks?

Maybe fear; maybe anger; maybe the prospect of short-term reward. Maybe.

But in the end, none of those work as consistent, reliable, long-term motivational strategies. In the end, damaged self-esteem will hamstring every attempt we make to motivate ourselves beyond the very short term.

Some people think of self-esteem as an abstraction, a psychological concept that often takes a back seat to more pressing emotional problems like depression, anxiety, or habit change. Which is a shame, because the reality is that it’s incredibly difficult to meaningfully heal depression, control anxiety, or wrangle habits without a basic conviction that we are worthy and capable.

Self-esteem is not an abstraction. It permeates our every decision, our every behavior, our every thought and feeling. Self-esteem is the rock upon which our very personhood is built.

Our self-esteem isn’t, actually, terribly fragile. When I encounter someone with wounded self-esteem, it’s usually not the case that they’ve been brought low by a single harsh comment by someone or an isolated life defeat.

Rather, deficits in self-esteem are usually the result of years of programming; years of conditioning; years of old tapes replaying old messages and old defeats and old opportunities lost, over and over and over again.

Given the way we often replay old tapes— tapes that, in many cases, were “recorded” year ago, and have absolutely nothing to do with who we are today— is it any wonder that our sense of worthiness and efficacy suffers?

Is it any wonder that our brains look at certain tasks and figure— even if we think we can do the task, even if we think the payoff will be worth it— “I don’t deserve to take a crack at this?”

Self-esteem is a practical, important, urgent need.

It’s also a need only we can fill.

The good news is: we can fill that need.

We can do better.

As well as feel better, as it turns out.

 

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Doing things we don’t feel like doing: a starting point.

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Much of what we struggle with in life revolves around a fairly simple fact: there’s a lot of stuff that we just don’t feel like doing.

Understand, saying “we don’t feel like doing” something is not to trivialize our resistance.

There are lots of reasons we may not feel like doing something. Some of those reasons may strike other people as more valid than others; but the bottom line is, if something is preventing us from getting into gear and doing something, it’s a problem for us, “valid” or not.

Sometimes we don’t feel like doing something because it seems overwhelming. We’ve taken a look at the task, and have come to the conclusion that we just don’t have the resources necessary to do it— or that expending the resources to do it just won’t be worth the payoff.

Sometimes we don’t feel like doing something because we’re afraid. We’ve taken a look at the task, and have come to the conclusion that there’s something there to be scared of— usually, pain.

Sometimes we don’t feel like doing something because we feel inept. We’ve taken a look at the task, and have come to the conclusion that we just don’t know how to go about it— and we don’t want to do it incorrectly, or look foolish trying to do something we don’t know how to do.

Sometimes we don’t feel like doing something because we have some sort of emotional block when it comes to the task. The task may be associated with things that trigger anger, sadness, or grief. Who would want to open the door to those emotions, if we can help it?

Very rarely is it the case that we don’t feel like doing something because we’re “lazy” or being “passive aggressive.” Those terms are often thrown around by people who are trying to guilt us into doing something they want us to do, by making us feel as if our reluctance to do it is due to some sort of character flaw. Emotional blackmail of this sort is often an effective tool in the short term…though in the long term it more often breeds resentment.

Whatever the root of our not feeling like doing the task, the bottom line remains the same: we need to figure out a way to do things, even when we don’t feel like doing them.

How do we even start getting motivated to do something we’re simply not in the mood to do?

First thing’s first: we have to move past the myth that we have to be in the “mood” to do something in order to do it.

Don’t get me wrong, being in the mood to do something is definitely the path of least resistance. If there was an easy way to nudge people from being “not in the mood” to being “in the mood,” I’d jump right on that technology— it’d be a gold mine in my line of work.

Sadly, however, wrangling our moods and level of motivation in such an immediate way is a complicated proposition, at best. It certainly doesn’t work in the kind of immediate way we’d need it to work in order to change our behavior when it comes to doing stuff we don’t feel like dong.

So, surrender that belief— that you need to be “in the mood” to do something. You don’t need to be “in the mood” to do anything. It helps, but it’s not necessary.

The second step is related to the first step: surrender the belief that you MUST do the thing you’re in the mood to do right now.

The fact of the matter is, our “moods” don’t determine our behavior— or, rather, they don’t HAVE to determine our behavior. You may be in the mood to eat; you may be in the mood to smoke; you may be in the mood to zone out on Facebook; you may be in the mood to drink; you may be in the mood to lay in bed all day. It doesn’t mean you HAVE to.

Once you give up those twin beliefs— that you have to be in the mood to do something, and you have to do the thing you’re in the mood to do— you’ll find yourself with much more freedom when it comes to getting things done.

It may sound obvious, self-evident, that those beliefs are false. But when you look at the behavior of the vast majority of people you know, as well as your own behavior, you might be shocked to realize how much of our lives we live as if those beliefs are absolutely true.

How do we give up those beliefs?

The same way we give up any beliefs that aren’t serving us: we realize when they’re operative, i.e., when we’re behaving as if they’re true; and we look for hard evidence that they’re not true.

If you start looking, you’ll find evidence of the untruth of these twin beliefs EVERYWHERE.

How many times have you done something, despite not being in the mood to do it? Chances are, you’ve already done something TODAY that you weren’t in the mood to do.

How many times have you been in the mood to do something, but chosen NOT to do it? Again, chances are, you’ve already refrained from doing something TODAY that you were in the mood to do.

Beliefs are simply thoughts we’ve thought again, and again, and again, things we’ve thought so frequently that we’ve become conditioned not to question them. But beliefs are subject to the same rules as any other thought: shoot it full of enough holes, find enough exceptions to it, find enough evidence contradicting it, and a belief simply cannot stand, any more than a table top can levitate once its legs are knocked out from under it.

Behavior change can be tough. It can be frustrating. It will take time.

But start with kicking these two beliefs to the curb…and you’ll be amazed at how much freer you feel.

 

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Study hard. Study smart.

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What are you a student of?

We’re all students of something. Whether we know it or not, and whether we like it or not.

A student is someone who studies. “To study” means to observe, to pay attention, to remember, to refine one’s knowledge of a subject.

This description fits everyone. Everyone has their areas of particular interest that they pay attention to, that they refine their knowledge of, that they become experts in.

Many people become students of specific subjects on purpose— they pursue a subject matter in an organized way. They register for classes. They pursue academic degrees.

But even more people become students by accident, or by default. The don’t intentionally choose what they study— they just allow their old patterns, their old beliefs, their old programming decide what they pay attention to, what they refine their knowledge of, what they become experts in.

The subjects in which these unintentional students tend to major run the gamut— but often, “unchosen” courses of study have a way of not serving such students well.

Sometimes people become students of their own limitations. They pay all kinds of attention to what they can’t do; to what hasn’t worked out for them; to what they want and have been denied. They focus, every single day, on the subject of what’s not working in their lives…and sure enough, they become experts in this subject area.

Other times, people become students of the awful state of the world. They focus intensely on the words and actions of politicians and leaders with whom they disagree; on the massive disparities of wealth and resources that exist in parts of the world; on the ways in which the world is unsatisfactory, screwed up, unfair, unkind.

Sometimes people become students of the many ways other people disappoint and infuriate them. They selectively focus on their negative interactions with others; their unsuccessful relationships; the occasions on which they’ve been cheated on, lied to, and hurt.

Understand: I am not suggesting that “life is what you make it with your focus.” That is a worldview frequency advanced by those who harbor the fantasy that we can completely create our world by virtue of what we choose to focus on. While I believe we do exercise an awful lot of control over the experience we create with our focus, far more than we usually appreciate, I also think it’s hopelessly naive to suggest we can create our world from the ground up with our thoughts.

(I also believe this worldview to be flawed in that it encourages people to slip into states of denial in their eagerness to avoid “negative” thoughts that might pollute the world they’re trying to create.)

That said: when we become dedicated students, intentionally or not, we learn our subject areas well.

And when we learn our subject areas well, our pool of knowledge tends to inform our worldview— our attitudes, our beliefs, our behaviors, our level of motivation, our habits.

Do you want your worldview informed by a rigorous course of study in your own limitations; or the awful state the world; or the terribleness of other people?

Think about the shackles that puts on you, as a person.

Think about every time you try to change a habit, to end an unproductive pattern of behavior or begin a healthier pattern— to have, in the back of your mind, a well-studied syllabus of your own limitations. How motivated will you be to change?

Think about every time you consider making a difference in the world, speak out, get involved, positively impact other people— to have, in the back of your mind, a well-learned body of knowledge about how awful the world is. How motivated will you be to try to make a difference?

Think about every time you try to improve your relationships, to reach out, to become more connected to other people— to have, in the back of your mind, a well-worn catalogue of how awful and petty other people are? How motivated will you be to deepen and enrich your ties with other people?

Our studies shape who are are, what we believe is possible, what we can and will do, what we can’t and won’t do.

Ask yourself: what do I study, every day, day in and day out?

What knowledge do I look for? What knowledge do I refine?

What do I know a lot about, because I pay a lot of attention to it?

Are my “studies” serving me? Do my studies nudge me closer to my goals— or throw up obstacles to my goals?

There are some ways we can’t, and don’t, create the world in which we live.

But we can choose what we study.

And we can choose to switch “majors” if we need to.

 

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Navigating Beginnings and Endings.

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Transitions are a big deal.

We remember beginnings and endings far more vividly than middles. (This is such a well-known psychological phenomenon, in fact, that there are labels for this: the “primacy effect” and the “recency effect.”)

Transitions require adjustment. They require us to shake out of familiar patterns, for better or worse. They require us to evaluate and revaluate where where are; what we’re doing; what our goals are; what direction we’re heading.

All of which is to say: transitions are tailor-made to stir up all of our issues.

If we have doubts about our ability to handle new projects and move on to new goals, transitions will inflame those doubts.

If we have insecurities about the direction we’ve chosen in our lives or relationships, transitions will poke those insecurities with a sharp stick.

If we’re anxious about our ability to continue functioning at the level to which we’ve become accustomed, even when some of the variables are switched up, transitions will light a fire under that anxiety, and stoke it to a roaring inferno in our heads.

Why do transitions get to us like they do?

On the surface, it doesn’t necessarily seem like transitions should be as hard as they often are. In fact, a great many transitions that happen to us are things we’ve chosen or worked toward. A promotion, the beginning of a new relationship, the successful conclusion of a course of therapy— all of these things are “good,” yet we often experience them as stressful and triggering.

Our brains are curious mechanisms. On the one hand, there is a marked tendency within the human nervous system to prefer novelty— to get enamored of new, shiny, interesting objects on the horizon, and prefer these shiny objects to the same old, same old that we’ve become accustomed to.

(The reason for this, from a neurochemical perspective, is that novelty stimulates the production of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is the brain chemical that gets us interested in and moving toward stuff we think will be rewarding.)

On the other hand, however, our brains are also wired to perceive novelty as inherently threatening or intimidating. This is largely an artifact of evolution: our cave person ancestors who avoided unfamiliar stimuli and stuck to their well-worn daily routine were far less likely to get eaten by roaming saber-tooth tigers than our cave person ancestors who went to investigate every new rustle in the tall grass.

So, our brains are both wired to seek out novelty, i.e., to move toward transitions; and to be wary of novelty, i.e., to resist transitions. It’s in our chemical and evolutionary neuropsychology; and, as a result, nearly every human being experiences transitions (even the “good” ones!) as at least somewhat stressful.

Moreover, transitions almost always involve loss. And human beings, as a rule, don’t do well with loss.

Think about it: is there any transition of any kind, “good” or “bad,” which doesn’t entail loss?

Transitions may entail the loss of a person; the loss of a job (even if we’re talking about getting promoted); the loss of a routine; or perhaps the loss of an obstacle or goal you’ve been working to overcome or achieve. While it’s true that some losses entail losing things we surely won’t miss, it’s also the case that losses of any kind require us to revise our approach to the world— a world in which we no longer have the reliable presence of something or someone to help guide our behavior.

When we talk about loss, we often need to talk about mourning— that is, taking the time we need to adjust to the new world that lacks the person, thing, or circumstance we’ve lost.

It’s a sad reality that not many people take the time to acknowledge their need to mourn losses— or, in some cases, even recognize that we need to mourn.

It may seem odd to “mourn” the loss of something you’ve emphatically wished would go away, but remember that mourning doesn’t just mean “to feel sad about.” Mourning is a process of realigning ourselves with a new reality; taking stock of our reactions and needs; and, in the case of successful mourning, honoring those needs with the respect and compassion that we’d extend to anyone who we valued.

Remember: it’s not silly to experience transitions as stressful, or to need to acknowledge and mourn the losses that accompany transitions.

In fact, to experience transitions as stressful, complex experiences and to require time, space, and patience to get your head together after a transition is very normal. Very human.

The best thing you can do when you’re coming up on a time of transition is to be patient with yourself.

EXPECT that it’s going to be stressful.

EXPECT that you’re very likely going to have mixed feelings.

EXPECT that you’re going to become acutely aware of the losses involved in even the most hoped-for and welcome transitions.

EXPECT that you’re going to need time, space, and self-care during periods of transition.

And whatever you do, don’t fall into the (also very human) trap of allowing your anxiety or sadness about transitions convince you that transitions are somehow to be avoided or hidden from. Transitions are an unavoidable part of life. Living in denial about them solves zero problems and creates, well, all the problems we’ve discussed on this blog that denial always creates.

You’ve survived transitions in your life.

You have the tools, both to survive the process, and to thrive on the other side of it.

Be mindful, patient, and compassionate with yourself as you come up to your next transition.

 

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Changing your life is not a one-size-fits-all proposition…no matter what anyone tries to sell you.

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Any theory, any idea, any advice you receive on how to make change happen in your life is useless if you can’t realistically apply it in your life.

It doesn’t matter how much sense it makes.

It doesn’t matter how elegant the theory is.

It doesn’t matter how charismatic of apparently successful the person who is selling the idea is.

In the history of psychology, there have been dozens of theories that have been elegant, that have made sense, that have been put forth by articulate, sometimes brilliant people. Psychology and the personal growth field have never been left wanting for many cool, interesting theories on how people can change their lives.

The fact is, however, a lot of people tend to be left confused, disappointed, or angered by their experiences with psychology and the personal growth field, and for a very good reasons: the theory and tools they were given were not realistic for them, they were not presented and explained in a way that was applicable to their lives; and the failure of those theories to help was often blamed on them.

(I’m not exaggerating here— it’s an all-too-common occurrence for therapists or personal growth teachers, when their ideas don’t seem to serve a patient or client well, to either overtly or passively blame the patient or client. After all, if they admitted that their teachings may not have been all that helpful to those patients and clients, or that they weren’t presented in a way that was ideal, they’d probably lose business, God forbid.)

Not every theory of change or psychological tool is going to be equally helpful to every person.

It’s much like physical exercise: it’d be silly to expect every human, of every body type, to benefit equally from any given type of exercise.

People have different body types; people are different ages; people have different past experiences with exercise; people have different physical needs and goals. To recommend the same type of physical exercise to every human would be just begging for a large percentage of those humans to experience strain, injuries, and discouragement.

(That doesn’t stop certain personal growth teachers from having some very concrete ideas about what types of physical exercise are and aren’t appropriate for EVERY human, even though those teachers themselves lack education and certification in personal training…but I digress.)

Psychologically, people have different learning styles.

People have different attention spans.

People have different backgrounds and conditioning experiences.

People have different emotional wounds that are in various stages of healing.

It’d be absolutely asinine to expect every human being to respond equally well to a generalized theory of how to create change in their lives.

(Though, again, that doesn’t stop some therapists and some personal growth teachers from charging a great deal of money to teach their techniques of creating change to anyone who is willing to offer up a credit card number.)

You need a theory of change that is unique and specific to YOU.

You need tools of change that fit realistically with what you have to contend with every day.

You need an approach to changing your life that is consistent with the changes you’ve already made in your life.

(Oh, yes, didn’t anybody tell you? You’ve already made changes in your life, completely without my intervention or the teachings of any other therapist or personal growth teacher— you already have tools for change that work. You may not have given a great deal of thought to what specific steps you took to make those changes, but that IS something a therapist or teacher can help you discover…but anyone who tries to convince you that you NEED their specific approach to change your life is probably looking to make a profit before anything else.)

More than anything, what many people need is an approach to change that allows them to feel in control of their journey— not dependent on a guru, therapist, sponsor, mentor, or guide. Teachers can be a great deal of help on our paths…but it’s essential that we realize the teacher is not the path itself.

What can you do to facilitate finding your own, unique, effective theory of change?

You can get curious.

Get curious about how you’ve learned the things you’ve effectively learned in the past.

Get curious about what gets in your way when you try to change things up in your life.

Get curious about the times when the things that usually trip you up, haven’t— when you’ve been able to effectively navigate around the obstacles.

And you can give up the fantasy that so many gurus are asking you to buy into— that THEY know what you need. That only THEIR ideas can see you through.

You already know and have what you need. It may not feel like it, but trust me, you do.

The trick is connecting the dots that are already there.

 

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Trust the River.

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One of the hardest skills we’re obliged to develop on our journey is the skill of realizing when we can’t change a thing, and moving on to the next thing.

Anyone who has tried to move on after a mistake, after a heartbreak, or after a loss, can tell you that it’s not easy.

Our first impulse is to try to hold on to the moment, as if by holding on to it, we can somehow keep it from moving on. Maybe if we hold on to it long enough, hard enough, we can yank that now-past moment into the present, where we’ll have another shot at whatever just happened.

We know it doesn’t work that way. But we often just can’t stop ourselves from trying.

When someone passes away, our response is often to go back to the last time we spoke with them; the last email exchange we had with them; the last text exchange we had with them.

It’s almost as if that moment is so close to us in the grand scheme of time, that we can’t possibly be asked by a reasonable, rational universe to let that moment go— I mean, it was RIGHT HERE, so close, so real.

Still warm, as it is.

Similarly, when we, or someone else, says something that it turns out we can’t take back, our response is often to review in our minds all the verbalizations that led up to that fateful remark.

As if by reviewing the trail that led there might offer us the opportunity to take a shortcut, or to branch off in a different direction, so we don’t end up saying or hearing what we did.

Time offers us this illusion of a second chance.

But time’s a trickster in that regard, because the fact of the matter is: time only, ever, moves forward.

All of our efforts to yank the past back into the present, with the intent of somehow altering it, are not only wasted energy, because time doesn’t flow that way: they’re actually harming our ability to exist in the present moment and look forward to the future.

Any time we buy into an illusion— an illusion we know better than to buy into— we’re knowingly practicing self-deception…and our self-esteem registers that.

Our self-esteem won’t let us get away with practicing self-deception. Not for long, anyway.

We find the seductive illusion of the “do-over” in a lot of places in our culture. There are a lot of products and services that promise, in effect, to turn back time, to give us another shot at opportunities we might feel like we’ve squandered.

There are products offer us the opportunity to look and feel younger.

There are TV shows and movies that sometimes seem to exist for the exclusive purpose of allowing us to relive memories from decades past.

Entire industries are built around fostering a sense of nostalgia, encouraging us to return to the younger versions of ourself that we once were, before the weight of all this grown up “adulting” began sapping our spirits and intruding upon our consciousness.

Understand, I have no problem with nostalgia. You’re reading the work of a guy who has framed theatrical posters from the original “Star Wars” movies in my living room and whose office is full of Superman and Batman comic book art. I’m not saying stay away from things that exist to remind you of your past. There are often good memories and feelings to be enjoyed there.

What I am saying is: in enjoying our past, let us not buy into this illusion that we can recreate it.

Let us not deny and disown the lives we’ve created and the events that have happened since then— even if there are aspects of those lives and events that have been painful.

Let us not attempt to hang on to moments that we wish we could do over— because ultimately the urge to hang on to those moments is only going to frustrate and hurt us.

If we stand in the middle of a river and do everything we can to keep even a cup full of water from rushing along on its journey downstream, the very best we’ll be able to do is to keep a minute amount of water in kind of the same place for an infinitesimal amount of time.

Water was meant to flow downstream.

Time was meant to flow forward.

Human beings were designed to prevent neither from flowing onward…but how we deal with the certainty of that flow will powerfully impact how useful and beautiful the overall river is to us.

We don’t have to like the fact that we can’t yank a past moment into the present, or hold on to a moment that is even now passing.

We don’t have to approve of the passing of time; we don’t have to pretend that there is not pain involved with the passing of time, the cooling off of the once-warm moment.

But we simply cannot pretend that the river won’t continue to flow, even if we stand in the middle of it.

The river has its own way of dealing with obstacles that stand in the middle of its flow and refuse to move: it erodes them away, eventually to nothing.

The river will flow longer than you can stand. Believe that.

So mourn the passing of the moments if you must. Mourn the flow of the river.

But resist the temptation to grab at the water.

It will slip through your fingers— as water does.

 

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The Beauty of Ugly Truths.

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Being real with yourself about an ugly truth is way, way better than hiding from it.

That said— “ugly” is in the eye of the beholder. Not everything we think of as “ugly” (or even “truth”) is always what it seems.

Sometimes we think “the ugly truth” is that we just can’t have the life we imagined. That we just don’t have the resources; that the world just isn’t going to cooperate; that the life we thought we were destined for just isn’t going to materialize.

It’s true that, in the course of living, many of us are invited to reexamine our expectations for what life can be, or was going to be. (Myself, I figured by now— at age 40— I’d be a successful politician. There’s no WAY I’d have believed anyone who tried to tell 12-year-old-me  that a career as a psychologist, writer, and speaker was in the cards.)

But life, as John Lennon once observed in song, is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.

So there is the “truth” that life may not be working out as you thought it would. Also the “truth” that life may not, from this point forward, shape up to be what you’d prefer it would.

That’s a big picture “truth” that many people have to come face to face with in the course of their lives. After all, when we’re kids, we’re all kind of groomed to believe we’d have an even chance at being famous, influential, world-changing in the historical sense…and it’s kind of a rude awakening we get when we figure out that it’s a very, very tiny minority of people who become “famous” or “influential” in the history-book sense.

There are other “ugly truths” we have to confront besides the fact that most of us aren’t destined to be movie stars or rock gods or presidents, though.

“Truths” that hit closer to home.

Truths such as: our parents may not have been as invested in our growth and well-being as we’d expect parents to be.

Truths such as: there have been times in our lives that we, ourselves, have failed to live up to our own standards.

Truths such as: EVEN THOUGH there have been times in our lives that we, ourselves, have failed to live up to our own standards, that doesn’t mean we’re terrible people…it means we’ve fallen short, as human beings sometimes do.

Truths such as: we’re human beings…and human beings are imperfect.

Truths such as: even though we’re human beings, and human beings are imperfect…we can still try to improve our lives.

Truths such as: relapse doesn’t mean you have to chuck recovery altogether…even if you feel like you want to.

Truths such as: how we’re FEELING doesn’t necessarily equate to how we’re DOING.

Truths such as: sometimes our “friends” haven’t been particularly “friendly” to us.

Truths such as: we haven’t always been willing or able to confront the truths of our lives.

Truths such as: defeats don’t mean we have to give up…even if we’re tired, even if we want to give up.

Truths such as: sometimes we want to give up.

Truths such as: sometimes we have to let a goal go.

Truths such as: sometimes we have to let a person go.

Truths such as: we can continue to be attached to people, places, and things that have hurt us.

Truths such as: there have been times in the past when we’ve let ourselves, and other people, down.

Truths such as: even if we’ve let other people down, it doesn’t make us terrible friends, or terrible people; it makes us fallible humans, to whom the law of averages caught up.

If you’re like most people, reading, or even thinking about, the list of “truths” that we may or may not have been all that keen on looking at in the past probably brings a tear to your eye.

Understand, it may not be our fault that we’ve not been too keen on looking at the “ugly truths” of our lives. It may be the case that no one ever taught us how to look at the truth without flinching. Maybe no one ever told us that we have nothing to fear from the truth— that the far more toxic, far more dangerous alternative is to deny, disown, and fail to acknowledge the truth, no matter how ugly it may seem at the time.

Denying and disowning “ugly truths” robs us of our power.

Denying and disowning “ugly truths” robs us of our right to pursue happiness.

Denying and disowning “ugly truths” keeps us in a place of disorientation, confusion, and anxiety. It’s simply impossible to build a centered, confident life that prioritizes self-esteem when we’re refusing to look at, to really see, important facets of reality.

We have nothing to fear from reality— as “ugly” as it might seem.

Do the hard thing. Face the “truths” with eyes wide open.

Yes, yes. Easier said than done.

But really, really important to do.

 

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