Tag Archives: challenges

You’re Nobody’s Fool: Realistic Optimism

can or cant you're rightIn a culture whose mantra has become, “what you believe, you conceive”, we could use a cold bucket of reality to wake us up every once in a while. While I tend to look on the bright side of things, I wouldn’t consider myself an optimist.  Quite frankly, I think these definitions are too oversimplified to be helpful.

I think we can all agree that being a “Debby or Dan Downer” with things in life can be just as bad as expecting to shit out rainbows for breakfast everyday. Total realism, on the other hand, is like a dry piece toast; edible but not enjoyable. Extremes in any form are not healthy, no matter which way you slice it.

I like to think of myself as a Realistic Optimist which I define as, someone who goes into a situation filled with the hope of a good outcome, but who is realistic enough to know when enough evidence to the contrary says it is is time to walk away.

So, I find promoting the idea that “what we believe we can make true” without any caveatsOptimist-Pessimist-Realist-Quote is both irresponsible and untrue.  For example, no matter how much we may believe and conjure up all our will power, hope, and commitment towards changing someone, we cannot make an individual do something they don’t want to do.  We cannot make them change.  We cannot make someone care. We cannot force love. None of these things are possible through the power of thought.

You don’t need to put up with someone’s crap just because you want to show how positive you are. Or how kind you are. Or how loving. Here’s another newsflash, they are not going to change for you. They are an asshole despite you. You sticking around will only wear you out. It will not cause them to change.

I promise you that they will not wake up one day and say, WOW!! Because she’s/he’s stuck around all this time while I’ve busted up every boundary she/he has, taken all my shenanigans in stride, and given her/himself up for me, I’m TOTALLY READY TO SUDDENLY BECOME (WO)MAN OF HER/HIS DREAMS NOW.

Bengen_optimist_pessimist_realist
Translation: (L-R) My glass is half full. My glass is half empty. My glass is half past eight 🙂 Good German Humor..

It is fine to give someone chances, but have a time limit in mind.  Showing yourself less love will not make someone change unless you want that someone to be YOU. You have not been put on this earth to martyr yourself.  You don’t have to stay in a place that sucks. You can do better. It may not feel like it at first, but being alone is better than having your soul sucked out by someone else who means you and the relationship no good.

What do you think?

with love from aneternaltraveler 😉

Advertisements

Think of Your Fear Like a Wet Suit

2013-2014As I go into the new year I’ve committed myself to an attitude of gratitude. However, that also means that there is a transitional phase from negative attitudes and mindsets that have to be managed. It’s a little like a corporate takeover. A lot of sorting out to do before it all settles down again. Oh how nice it would be to have my very own “Easy Button”!!

Today I noticed that I was feeling really tight in my chest and down in mood. I tried telling myself to stop it, but that didn’t work. Then, I tried closing my eyes and breathing, that didn’t work either. What gives??

As I searched for answers, I remembered what I wrote yesterday about using “LAG” as my new conflict management style and I thought, maybe this will work for conflict within me as well.

LAG is an acronym for a conflict management style I created to help me create the life I want to be living. It stands for these three steps in the process: “Lean-in”, “Accept”, “Go on”. I’ve started applying it to situations where I am in conflict with others and today I learned it could also be applied to internal conflict.

LAG: Step 1: When I “Leaned-in” to the feeling, my mind fought very hard to run away. It did not want to focus on the ill-feeling at all. I kept saying to myself, “Stay with it”. “You are safe”. I kept breathing in and out to stay calm. When I breathed in I said, “breathe in”. When I exhaled, I said, “breathe out”. That kept me better focused.

When I felt less flooded, I asked myself, “What are you feeling?” “How would you describe it in one word?” The answer came – “I feel rejected”.

I thought, ok. Now we’re on to something. The feeling has been identified. I had no idea until this moment how often I actually never knew what I was specifically feeling. It was just “bad” and I wanted to avoid it and get as quickly as possible to good. That’s all I knew.

It makes sense now why my internal conflict never got resolved as it arose. Negative feelings just kept building up until I began to feel helpless and hopeless in my life. I felt like a prisoner who was put on this earth to do her time. As if I were chosen to be unhappy, while others were chosen to have a fulfilling life. I have felt powerless in my own life for a really long time.

LAG: Step 2: “Acceptance” – I said to myself, “thank you for sharing that. I accept that you feel rejected. That must be very painful. How can I help?” Much nicer 🙂

??????????????????????????????????????????????I waited a bit for an answer and then seemingly out of nowhere, an image of myself on a beach wearing a zippered wet suit popped into my head. The suit felt tight and constricting. My skin felt clammy. I could smell the salty air, hear the waves lapping onto the shoreline and felt the warmth of the sun on my face. I just stood there and took it all in for awhile.

A few moments later, a guiding voice spoke to me over my shoulder.

“What if I told you your pain of rejection could be removed at any time you chose?”I said, “Shoot. I’m all ears”. He said, “Unzip your wet suit and let it fall to the ground. Walk forward and feel the warm grains of sand between your toes. Look behind you and see your pain balled up and lying on the ground. You can pick it up anytime you want and suit back up or you can leave it there and go for a swim in the ocean and clean off all the residue that it left behind”.

LAG: Step 3: “Go On” – I decided to walk into the ocean and swim. It felt good to get the suit off. I kept swimming until all the residue was gone and I felt refreshed. I found myself smiling and laughing again. I felt lighter.

After taking myself through the process, I now understand why my initial attempts to deal with the feeling that arose didn’t calm me down. By flat out telling the feeling to STOP, I was completely ignoring and avoiding it. Then, with zero tolerance or acceptance, I wanted to flush it out with my breath without taking a moment to understand its purpose for being there. Very rude of me actually!

I looked back at the wet suit on the shore and thought about how I don’t have to wear outfits just because someone else thinks they suit me well and I can take them off at any time.

In more practical terms. Let’s say you are in fact being rejected by someone or a group of people. Do you have to feel ashamed of yourself and wear your feeling of rejection like a full body wet suit sponsored by, “THEY REJECT ME”? No, not really.

And here’s the kicker. You can still acknowledge to yourself that they reject you because they very likely may not like you or want you around. It happens.

You don’t have to treat yourself like a reject.

That’s where most of us end up in major pain. When we agree with another persons opinion of us, we are subconsciously feeling that other people know us better than we know ourselves. We give them permission to change us to become what they say we are, what they limit us to. This is the express lane to pain, depression & loss of self.

it's not personal

Instead, you can just accept that they do reject you and that it sucks.

Remind yourself that other people’s opinions of you are none of your business.  YOU are not a failure because of this.

You are still that same awesome, talented, special person with so much to offer this world no matter what other people say.

People who try to make you feel bad about yourself are really unhappy people. Believe it or not, it is NOT personal at all. They are just showing you how bad they feel inside. Something in you reminds them of a quality they wish they had inside but they don’t know how to achieve it.

Pray for them. Acknowledge that they are in pain. But under no circumstances do you let what’s going on in them define who you are. It’s separate.

Instead of carrying their load as if it were your own, bless and release them.

You just may not currently be with a person or a group that honors your gifts in the best way. It’s just not a good fit. Focus your energy and talents on honoring yourself and surrounding yourself by people who do honor you.

You’re already good enough as yourself.

Happy New Year and lots of love from aneternaltraveler 😉

Distracting Yourself from Your Unhappiness

I was perusing the blogs at Tiny Buddha and I ran across a post called: Create Your Life: Having Nothing Can Mean Having Everything, by . There was this one line she wrote that really stood out to me and made me pause to reflect on my current circumstances:

 Life can get so busy, and often when we don’t like where our life is, we fill it with things to do so that we don’t have to think about our unhappiness.

I thought about how much my life has changed since my divorce,  how dissatisfied I feel with chronically finding myself in ill-fitting jobs, and the fact that I wake up everyday feeling like I’m an actress in someone else’s life.

I’ve poured myself into improving my house because it’s the one area where I feel like I am rewarded for my efforts.

But when I read that line, it hit me like a ton of bricks that I’m almost done transforming my house.  What will I do with my unhappiness then?  Will I continue to find distractions or is the time coming where I’ll have to face it head on and make some serious decisions?

As the questions formed in my mind, I felt the cold knife of fear tear through my chest.  These past few years all I’ve done is react to trauma  in survival mode. I’ve been picking up the pieces, “patch-working” my life together with the scraps I found lying around and losing my faith in hope.

I feel like the romantic I once was is buried under the harsh realities I’ve faced. I’ve experienced major trauma before, but somehow this time it has left me afraid, a little less bold in risk-taking, heavy.  

Maybe my unhappiness stems from feeling like I’m trying to make due with what’s in front of me instead of creating something that’s uniquely mine.  I believe that’s why fixing up my house appeals to me so much.  I start with a vision of what I’d like it to be and take the steps to bring it into reality.

With my house, my vision is clear.  With my life direction, it is not.  And I’m running out of house which means I’m also heading right into the fog that is my life.

It seems like I’m going to be left with only 2 choices: 1) face the unhappiness or 2) find another big distraction.  No matter what I choose, I have a feeling I’m about to arrive at a defining moment in my life.

Have you ever come to a crossroads like this in your life?  Tell me, what did you do?

With love from aneternaltraveler 😉

Do What You Have to Do….It’s Only Temporary

Do What You Have to Do….It’s Only Temporary

If you’ve ever had to do something you’d rather not do just to achieve a goal, this post is for you.

What follows is a recount of some of the things I had to do to get my house back post-divorce. The point of my whole long drawn out explanation and partial life history 🙂 is to ask you to remember two things in this life when you’re losing hope.   

When my business starting bringing in less and less contracts, I knew I had to come to terms with it and move on to something else. It was tough to walk away, but the market was changing and after a good run for 8 years, I saw the writing on the wall.  My husband and I had talked about whether we could make it work on one income while I found an alternative. Everything was set.  Or so I thought….shortly after he asked for a divorce.

He walked away like it was nothing and left behind a long trail of responsibilities for me.  First and foremost was my house.  A house we’d bought only 6 months prior.  It was a huge sum for me to have to find every month and selling it would have offered me no reprieve since it was when the housing bubble burst.  I couldn’t rent something either because I didn’t have a paycheck anymore and it would have cost me almost the same as my mortgage.  Catch 22.  

To add to the stress, our divorce agreement stated that I had one year to refinance it into my name or my ex- could sell it outright.   Originally, he offered 6 months.  I negotiated for more time.  Apparently a year felt generous to him in a failing job and housing market.  Not that he was paying for a darn thing. Apparently, he just didn’t want to be bound to me in any way.  Who was this man?

No time to answer that one, it was time to put the pedal to the metal and get the heck out of dodge.  

I didn’t have a lot of time to wax longingly about my “dream job”.  I needed money and fast!  I sent out application after application and zero, zilch, nada.  Here I was with a B.S. in Biology and an MBA struggling to find work in anything I was qualified for.  I thought the whole world turned upside down, not just my personal life.

I finally turned to craigslist to see if there was an opportunity.  I interviewed and accepted a job doing face-to-face fundraising for charity.  If you’re not familiar with this, it’s basically stopping people as they walk by and trying to persuade them to make monthly donations to assist less fortunate nations of people.  It turned out I was good at this.  Poverty was something I could really talk about. I’d seen and worked with it so much in my travels. I knew how people’s lives were impacted.  Frankly, I was also pretty hungry to pay my bills too so that was a big motivator.

I tried to refinance with this job and about a month out from finalizing, the company I worked for did a “corporate restructuring” and decided to drop their program.  I explained my situation and expressed my frustration to the loan officer on the phone.  I said, “What do I have to do?  Get a job at the bank that holds my mortgage to finally get this settled?”  

The customer service representative took what I said seriously and asked me about my background.  I explained it to him.  He said, would you be interested in becoming a personal banker because you’d be qualified for it?  I said, honestly if it helps me get my house back, I’ll do it.  He told me to put an application online at the bank website and assured me he’d talk to someone in HR on my behalf. We became friends on FB.  I didn’t expect much to come out of it.

Back to the drawing board.

More applications sent out, only the sound of crickets in return.  Hello again, craigslist.  This time, I scored a job that was freelance. They called it a “unique hair opportunity”.  I thought ok. My mom owned a hair salon.  She taught me a lot.  How bad could this mystery job be???  

Well long story short, I became a trained “Lice Remediation Specialist”.  The company supplied me with everything I needed and I’d get called or texted to go out to a job at someone’s house.  It wasn’t too bad actually.  It helped pay the bills so I was willing to do what I had to do.  I knew that I couldn’t refinance my house with that kind of job though.  So, I cranked up the engine again to find the next step. 

I resolved to get that bank job. In no way did working at a bank appeal to me.  But I was running out of time and money.  I reached out to the loan officer and asked him if he’d heard anything about my application.  He got into contact with HR and I went in for an interview.  I got the job.  

I worked a very difficult 6 day/ week schedule.  I didn’t like the work one bit.  I just kept telling myself it’s for your house. Eye on the prize.  I was running out of time.  My ex- was dialing up the pressure with his not so helpful reminders about the 1 year time limit that was coming to a close.  

I put in my refi application.  Then, the communication seemed to drop dead and no one would return my calls.  When I finally reached someone, it was after I received a letter stating that they couldn’t refinance my house because I’d been in the job for less than 1 year. Everything else was fine. Credit score excellent, no major unsecured debt.  None of this was a problem.  I couldn’t believe my ears. 

I was furious that my employer didn’t mind having me sell mortgages and investments to other clients, but wouldn’t even back me with one that THEY held!!!  

I had heard that this bank was planning to acquire another bank that I was affiliated with.  I figured while I’m on the inside I’ll do some research. I learned that their criteria were less conservative.  So, I thought, let me see if I can get a loan through them before the acquisition.  Within one month, I got the loan and I was at closing.  The house was FINALLY in my  name and for a payment I could afford!

I quit the bank the month after that. I wanted nothing to do with them.  It was hurtful to me to be put in the position to be used to sell mortgages to others while realizing my employer wouldn’t support refinancing my own home.  

I had had so much stress with jobs and this house refi that I wanted something easier and consistent for a while.  I needed to chill and get my bearings.  So, I heard about this gym that was going to open from a friend in the fitness community I was involved in.  I applied for that and got that job.  I’ve worked there for over a year now.  I knew it couldn’t last forever, but I needed a breather before I moved on.  It’s been good to me and served its purpose.

And now I have yet another new job that has some better benefits than the last one….and on and on it goes….where I stop?  I’ll know it when I feel it.

Remember two things as you go through this life and face challenges:

  1. Sometimes you have to do what you have to do.

  2. It’s only temporary.

When you feel like you’re going to lose it.  Even when you’re ready to tear your hair out.  When you feel like a failure.  Even when no one else has got your back and you feel as lonely as a child in the wilderness. 

Say to yourself over and over again, Sometimes you just have to do what you have to do,__________(insert name). It’s only temporary, _____________(insert name).  

I still have not arrived at a place that I feel completely comfortable in my own life.  And I have to remind myself of this mantra from time to time.  But when I look back I see that despite the fear and confusion and uncertainty, I did carry on.  It took a lot of perseverance and even more patience, but I did reach one of my goals after all. 

Consider making this your daily mantra for all the challenges you face.  And remember, there’s another step ahead of the one you’ve taken.  There will be solid ground beneath your feet.  Just do what you have to do to get through, then take the next step.

——————————————————————

Make no mistake, YOU are a success no matter how big or how small the result.  Let’s help each other out by leaving comments and sharing so we all feel a little less alone in this world.

What kinds of challenges have you had to face where you found yourself doing what YOU had to do to get through?  Share your success stories with us. 

With love from aneternaltraveler 😉