Have you ever met a person who lived and breathed their problems? A Debbie-Downer type that seems to bring a rain cloud with them wherever they go. They dwell on the negative, they are victims of everything, and seem to put a damper on everyone around them. These people are fairly easy to spot, but I want you to think about the ways that you breathe life into your problems. What are the things you complain about the most? You see, when you complain all day and to everyone about your issues, you are reiterating that narrative to yourself that you do in fact have those problems. I’ve met tons of people over the years that dwelled upon their problems and told a completely negative story about themselves and their lives to literally everyone they met. These people can be well-intentioned, but being around them or taking a phone call with them can be so exhausting because you want to shake them and tell them that they are the cause of their problems. Constantly bitching about your husband is only going to make you more sensitive to every little thing he does. Constantly bitching about your financial situation is going to make you more sensitive to every little thing that happens which results in stress and anxiety. Constantly bitching about your mom is only going to make you more sensitive to everything she does…see where I am going with this? When you have already set a narrative in your head about a person or situation, you are going to be hypersensitive to everything that happens that is related to it. ‘See I told you so’ is a phrase that none of us should love to say to another person or to ourselves.
I used to be a dweller myself and have struggled with my mind in the sense that I had always been a stress bomb waiting to explode and would experience frequent bouts of anxiety and depression. I would reinforce my problems by telling a reinforcing story to myself on a daily basis. I lived in the drama of my problems and talked about them constantly. I breathed life into my projections and low and behold, they would manifest. The story I was telling myself was one constructed out of projection, anxiety, anticipation, and insecurity. It was only when I became aware of the story I had been telling myself and became aware of the role I was playing in my problems, was I able to actually begin to change my life. Just like that, I instantly began taking ownership of my role in all of my problems. I became aware of the fact that I was reinforcing all of my problems by constantly reinforcing my expectations of those problems. Example: I would fret about going to the grocery store with my youngest because he would act crazy, if I had to take him with me, my inner dialogue was constantly reiterating that my son was going to cause the shopping trip to become chaotic. Low and behold, every time I told this story to myself, the situation of chaos and toddler tantrums would unfold leaving me in a rotten mood and stressed out. Once I decided to change the story I was telling myself, the results were almost magical. Example: Just a few weeks ago I had to take my toddler to the grocery store, instead of projecting that the trip was going to be a nightmare, I completely shifted the story to a positive one. I was telling myself that he was going to behave and we were going to have a calm and pleasant experience. What do you think happened? We had a magical shopping experience because MOMMY was CALM and I wasn’t projecting every fear I had on my son. I shifted my fearful projections into positive expectations and low and behold- it worked. This shift in mindset can be applied to virtually any area of your life. Think about your physical health for example, if you started to tell yourself that you felt like you were going to throw up and you believed it and kept repeating it to yourself all day, the chances of you having a hurt stomach and actually throwing up are extremely high.
The story you tell yourself DOES MATTER.
Whether we struggle with mental health or addiction, being unhealthy or overweight, getting fired from a job or financial problems, there is a common denominator in all of it: ourselves. Was it possible that I was playing a massive role in all of the shortcomings I was experiencing? Na, not me! Once I became aware of the fact that 90% of what was happening was due to my own actions, projections, or words- it was a slice of humble pie that didn’t taste very good. Once I had the realization that my mindset was playing a HUGE role in my perceived shortcomings, things started to change for me. You have to stop comparing your life to everyone else’s. We all have such unique circumstances that when you live your life comparing your problem areas to another person’s highlight reel, you’re going to feel like shit about it most of the time. Focus on your strengths rather than your weaknesses and cut out the comparing crap! Focus on being the best you that you can possibly be and don’t worry about anybody else!
Become Aware of Your Projections
Notice any patterns or common themes in your relationships? Consider the idea that you are projecting your own issues onto them, which only amplifies the situation in reality. Are you often annoyed with your needy mother? Perhaps you are projecting your neediness onto her which makes you hyperaware and hypersensitive to neediness (are you needy to someone in your life?). I personally found that the traits I disliked most in people were traits I possessed of my own and basic psychology will back me on this! This can be difficult to swallow but it is very productive for improving relationships. Like my own experience with my son, I was constantly projecting my personal fears onto him which only amplified the situation. The story I was telling myself would always unfold, so I simply turned my fearful projections into positive expectations. This isn’t only help for relationships, but for your own inner peace. Take a parking lot for example, you pull in, its crowded and busy and the first thing you tell yourself is that there isn’t going to be any parking available. Low and behold, you were right. Try this exercise next time: call it magic or law of attraction- but it works– when you pull into a crowded parking lot, instead of telling that story about your situation, tell a new story. Say- ‘I’ll find a parking spot right up front I’m not too worried about it’ (and believe it). You will be surprised at your results. Turn your fearful projections into positive expectations and watch your life change!!
What do you contribute to your problems? Are you a negative projector? Are you pulling your weight in your relationships? Are you being a good friend? Are you sabotaging yourself? Are you a peach to be around? Look at yourself through the eyes of your spouse, your friend, your parent, and your child! Be honest. It is a tough behavior pattern to break, trust me, but becoming aware of your role in your issues and putting yourself in check when needed is the key to success. We all play critical roles in the problems in our lives but the good news is that we also play equally critical roles in the solutions to those problems. Tell a new story about yourself. Own your mistakes and use them as lessons for a new chapter in your life. You don’t have to be a victim to your old way of thinking anymore. Being more accountable for yourself and your goals is life changing. You should NEVER stop trying to improve yourself in all areas of your life- especially in your relationships.
Resolve Relationship Issues Like An Adult
Having difficult conversations is never easy, especially with the people you love. If this is a difficult subject to navigate for you, I suggest you travel back to elementary school and use your I statements. When you have to have a conversation with someone that is surely to be uncomfortable, it can be easy to take on an accusatory tone such as ‘you did this, this wouldn’t have happened if you did this not that, etc’ (get the point?). When you come off as accusatory (which I was the queen of doing), you immediately put the other person into defense mode. How can you resolve any issues if one party is in defense because you are placing them in defense by the accusatory tone you are enacting? Nothing productive ever comes out of these conversations- so my suggestion is to use your ‘I statements’. I statements are a great way to talk about difficult topics by reiterating how it makes you feel instead of placing blame on the other person. For example, instead of saying ‘you always take your work related stress out on me’, you can say ‘I feel sad when you come home in a bad mood- I feel sorry that you are going through issues at work, but I feel hurt when you take those issues out onto me’. The best piece of advice that I ever received regarding ways that I can improve my relationships was simply this: own your role in the problem. This can be a daunting task because owning our role in the problem implies that we are contributing to the problem (gasp!). However, if the relationship is one that you wish to salvage or improve upon, it will mean the world to the other party that you have the humility to acknowledge, own, and apologize for your contribution to the problem. Relationships take two to tango- so we are co-stars in the drama that is our current issue. Not only are we co-stars in the creation of the problem, we are co-stars in our responses or reactions to those problems as well. Admitting when we are wrong may not be the first thing we want to do, but it can be crucial for saving a relationship and taking it to the next level.
Actions Speak Louder Than Words
Telling a new story about yourself isn’t going to magically change everything in your life although it certainly does help. Backing that story through actions is the way to truly bring it to life. Dream about it, meditate on it, expect that it will happen, and work your tail off until that story unfolds. You want to improve your self esteem? Looking in the mirror and telling yourself that you love yourself probably isn’t going to bring you to your goals. However, looking in the mirror and telling yourself that you love yourself and your body after a workout is going to make you believe that story so much more. Don’t be held back by your fearful projections or old patterns of belief. You can create a new future for yourself through hard work and determination.
I challenge you for the next two weeks to ONLY speak about the good in your life. Every time you feel the urge to gossip, vent, bitch, moan, or whatever else you want to call it- stop yourself and tell something positive instead. Shift your negative projections into positive expectations, and start telling that new story about yourself. Eliminate words from your vocabulary such as suffer, victim, I lack, I don’t have, I never, etc. Change that mindset from sufferer to survivor, change that mindset from victim to victor, change that mindset from I don’t have to I have everything I need. Whenever you get the urge to tell the same old story about yourself, stop yourself in that moment and tell yourself the complete opposite story- shift the negative story telling into positive story telling. You just might find that there is a very strong correlation between the story we tell ourselves and the outcome of those stories. Dedicate the next two weeks to adopting this mindset and you just might find that this was the little boost you needed to change your outlook on life.