We all face challenging circumstances. Life is about challenge and our response to it. Today I want to talk about how we get in our OWN way. Today, I want to talk about taking control. Not taking control of the things around you but taking control of YOUR responses. Will you let the hand (pun intended) you’re dealt dictate your outcomes? We must understand that circumstances are external. We must also understand that although you may have no control over your circumstances, you can ALWAYS control your response to them. That is the power of ME and the purpose of this attitude adjustment. It’s easy for us to allow circumstances (external happenings) to dictate our outcomes in life. However, if we pay attention to our circumstances as well as our responses (attitudes) to them, most of the time it’ll become evident that we get in our OWN way. I want to address the biggest ongoing lifelong challenge most of us will ever face…OURSELVES. How do we overcome ourselves?
1.) ALWAYS Understand Your Circumstances
I am starting with this point first because fully understanding your circumstances and the nuances of them is an ongoing challenge. Life will change as soon as you think you have it figured out. It is imperative that you ALWAYS remain vigilant to what’s going on around you. Circumstances are opportunities that can forge identity and build character but you have to pay attention them and the continuously evolving set opportunities they can create. If life were a game your circumstances would be a rulebook that changes constantly. Rules can either be viewed as constraints or opportunities for learning to play the game better. But you must ALWAYS understand the rules. In life, those rules will be different for each one of us but we can determine what they are by doing the following:
- Evaluating what we are trying to accomplish – Setting goals (short-term and long term)
- Identifying our constraints (Obstacles) – What are our biggest challenges?
- Identifying our strengths and weaknesses – Honestly evaluating our good habits and bad habits
2.) Identify Your Margin of Error
As you begin to understand your circumstances, you must then identify your margin of error. Margin of Error is defined as, “an amount (usually small) that is allowed for in case of miscalculation or change of circumstances.” What does that mean for us in the case of self-examination and adjusting attitudes? It means, thoroughly understanding and examining your circumstances in order to evaluate the types of choices you ABSOLUTELY cannot afford to make. Your “absolutes” are important and they WILL NOT be the same as someone else’s. For example, Person A takes action X and everything works out fine. Person B takes the same action and everything around them implodes causing person B to exclaim how unfair life is. FACT: Life isn’t fair…GET OVER IT. Stay focused on YOUR situation, YOUR circumstances, and understanding YOUR margin of error.
Understanding your margin of error also helps with identifying which habits need to be changed or eliminated in order to reach your goals. Identifying our margin of error forces us to examine ourselves well enough to identify the habits, attitudes, or responses to situations that can become pitfalls.
3.) Refuse to be the Victim
In order to overcome yourself, you must refuse to be the victim. This means you must accept all external circumstances as they are. Things happen, life happens…it ALWAYS will. Instead, look for opportunities to change your way of thinking. This will force you to take more responsibility for your own actions and responses to your circumstances. Is this easy? No. It requires constant work.
For example, when I was a kid I realized that when people would bully me for not having hands I had two choices…1.) Blame everyone else for making fun of me and be upset about not having hands or 2.) I could develop thicker skin and focus on my hobbies. I chose to develop thicker skin and channel my energy into positive outlets. (School, painting, drawing, soccer.) Changing my attitude taught me to truly accept myself and gave me the mental fortitude to not only deal with ignorance but to never let it stop me. Often times we may not be in a position to change our circumstances but we can develop attitudes that help us overcome them. Now, are there times when life can seem unfair? Yes. But even in those instances, it becomes matter of perspective and an opportunity to change your attitude about situations.
4.) DO NOT HOLD ON TO NEGATIVE ENERGY
Related to my third point, I cannot stress this enough. When I was a younger my mom would always tell me ” there’s no point being upset about things you can’t control, you’re just wasting energy.” I never understood this until I became an adult but she was right. I noticed that every time I let something upset me for more than a period of 10 minutes I’d be sleepy afterwards. Once I became sleepy, it became harder to focus on whatever I was working on. When you are striving to reach a goal or working toward something you must maintain a clear mind. That means neutralizing all negative energy. (I’ll provide tips on how to do this in a later post.)
Truth is, people, circumstances, etc. will offend you and there will be times when you get upset but you have to LET THE NEGATIVE ENERGY GO! In those situations the only person you are in control of is YOU. Neutralize negativity or else it will drain you. If you are frustrated, channel that energy into something positive that will benefit YOU. You will thank yourself in the long run.
5.) Find Your Strengths and Work Daily to Amplify Them
Everyone has a talent or a gift embedded within. Most of the time we are unaware of our talents. I am guilty of this myself. In order to find your talents you have to give yourself time to think deeply and perform self-assessments. Ask close friends and people you trust to help with this if you need it. Just make sure you are constantly evaluating your talents. Innate talents can only become strengths once you identify them and begin to work on them daily. Look for opportunities amidst your circumstances to leverage and develop your strengths. Stay focused on developing and understanding the internal and your circumstances will become learning opportunities.
Always remember that you are only ever in total control of yourself and your responses to the world around you. Life is going to challenge you, push you, and force you to grow but don’t make the process more difficult than it has to be. Get out of your own way by examining yourself internally and understanding your relationship to your external circumstances. Know your circumstances; know your margin of error, and work constantly to refine your attitudes and ways of thinking. As you start to change, you’ll slowly start to notice the impact your actions have on those external forces. If you want to change anything about your life it all starts from within. So remember, as I often remind myself…”the only thing stopping me is…ME.”