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.
Our beliefs shape what we see in the world.
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 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 like I did, please find yourself a good therapist, counsellor or psychologist (keep looking until you find one you gel with – they’re not one size fits all!)
You might also consider learning to tame your mind through one of my unconventional mindfulness programs. In the Bloody Good Life program I’ll show all the techniques I’ve used to pull myself out of some very dark, negative places. When you’re sick of feeling shitty (and you really need to be sick of it and ready to make some changes – which you may not be yet – which is ok too), the Bloody Good Life program is a game changer.
It is often the strongest, happiest, most resilient people you know who have been through the most hardship.
Don’t assume that everyone who is happy has had it easy or got “lucky” in life. I often find that people who had it “too easy” can end up really lost and unhappy too.
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.
While I am definitely a privileged white person, I’ve also been through my fair share of trauma and shitty things (some of which isn’t appropriate to share on the blog) 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.
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.
During a particularly low time a few years ago my Mum sent me a lovely card that said:
“if there were never any waves, we wouldn’t learn to build a bigger boat”
We’d be bored floating around in a shitty little dinghy if it weren’t for life’s challenges. Try to appreciate the waves, big and small. They’re building resilience in us.
Kind of like one of those tennis ball machine things – if it fires a load of balls at you, you can stand there feeling sorry for yourself while the balls hit you in the face…. or you can grab a racket and play tennis.
Hey, you. I’m sorry if you found this article because you’re struggling. You’re not alone, and there is help out there, please seek the support of a therapist or non-judgemental friend – I promise, it gets better.
Here are a few more articles that might help you on your journey…