At intermediate school, I’ll always remember the friend who turned to me and said “Andrea, you’re wallowing in self-pity”.
There are some things in my past that were pretty horrible. I used to ask myself
“Why me? Why is life being so unfair to me? I’m so unlucky.”
I used it as an excuse to be a pessimist. I called it being “realistic”. I actively focussed on the negative, but I didn’t know I had a choice.
It was a real shock – I’d never considered that I had anything to do with my negativity, I just thought that’s how life was. I had adopted a victim mentality.
I used to make sure to let people know about the big tough stuff in my life, so that they would know that I had an excuse for my negativity. In a weird way I was proud of these hardships, because they gave me some kind of identity. It was a victim identity.
“Look at me, being all strong despite the messed up things that happened in my past.” I think I even felt that it made me special.
When I was in a victim mentality it made me feel better in a twisted way,
because I could blame people and situations for my shitty outlook in life. But it gave me no power. When I lived life through the filter of “poor me, I’m unlucky”, everything that happened seemed to confirm that life wasn’t on my side. But the truth is, I was making it that way. I wasn’t putting any effort in to fix what was broken,
because victims prefer to stand around blaming than to climb over the walls of their self-made prison.
There are millions of pieces of sensory information in our environments at any one time, and our brain can only focus on a tiny portion of it. Your brain chooses what is salient based on your beliefs, which are generally based on past events.
If we believe that we’re hard done by and life is hard, our brain will notice all the bad things happening around us. In fact, it will seek them out. But if we’re looking through a filter of “life is bloody good”, we’ll seek out and notice all the things that are awesome in our life. And the positivity that that brings give us the motivation and energy to keep making it even more bloody good.
It’s a cycle, you can choose whether it’s a vicious downward cycle, or an upward, bloody good one.
I loved this quote that I heard from Geneen Roth during my coaching training –
“When we look at the world through shattered lenses, the world looks shattered.”
And that rose tinted glasses quote – it’s true! I think it’s often used as a way to describe someone who’s not being realistic, but that’s bollocks. Get your rose tinted glasses out, why wouldn’t you want to see everything in a nice light?
I’ve realised now that life isn’t about getting lucky and having no challenges, you can be happy no matter what your life situation is.
If you think you’ve been through too much for that to be possible, think again. (Or maybe don’t think so much – you might need to do Bloody Good Life 101 with me!).
Take yourself to a third world country where the people have nothing and who have been through more than you can imagine. There you’ll find people happier than anyone you’ve ever met while living on a mud floor in a shack with 8 people to a double bed. They get on with it and make the most of it because they have no other choice. Sometimes, it seems, that can be an odd blessing in disguise.
We have so much ease in our lives in the West that we can end up with too many options – too much time to dwell on what’s wrong rather than picking ourselves up and getting on with life.
And the mind loves nothing more than to pick at old wounds.
If you’ve had a lot of trauma and/ or feel that life has been hard on you/ you’ve been a victim of life, consider doing the Landmark Forum, or one of many other transformational self development courses that will radically shift your perspective, even if you don’t believe it’s possible. Self development is the most important thing you’ll ever do, whether you hate it or love it.It is often the strongest, happiest, most resilient people you know who have been through the most hardship Click To Tweet
Don’t assume that everyone who is happy has had it easy or got “lucky” in life. I generally find people who had it too easy to be some of the most unhappy, lost people I’ve ever met.
And if you’re someone who’s had a pretty calm past but still feels kinda down anyway – that’s fine too – our mind often creates horrible memories of the most tiny little things. Especially moments of public humiliation.
I have a memory of walking across the road in Mission Bay with a family friend and my shoe fell off so I ran back onto the road to get it. I was triumphant, but the family friend I was with smacked me and yelled at me that I could have died. It’s etched in my memory. Though seemingly inconsequential and un-traumatic, through doing Landmark I realised that this is why I don’t take risks, I overanalyse everything before I do it and control everything in my life – because there’s still that fear reaction of that little kid saying “don’t act spontaneously and carelessly, you could die! AND be publicly humiliated!”
It’s irrational, but it’s a trigger, and that’s all it takes for us to change our behaviours for life. So trauma or no “trauma” – it’s possible to turn your life around radically as I have.
I’ve been through my fair share of crap to get to where I am today, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I wouldn’t be where I am if I hadn’t had things that seriously pushed me to make changes in my self and my life. I’m grateful for everything that’s ever happened to me, good and bad, and I wouldn’t change any of it. I don’t speak about these things here, maybe I will one day, but I mention this to make it clear –
a bloody good life is not dependent on your external circumstances and what life has “thrown at you”,
it’s about what you’ve done about it.
Kind of like one of those tennis ball machine things – if it fires a load of balls at you, you can grab a racket and play tennis, or you can stand there feeling sorry for yourself while the balls hit you in the face.
My Mum sent me an awesome card once that said
“if there were never any waves, we wouldn’t never learn to build a bigger boat”
You’d be bored floating around in a shitty little dinghy if it weren’t for life’s challenges, appreciate your waves, big and small!