Living in a rut is exhausting. You may know someone who seems unlucky, or maybe you feel that way yourself. Your inner voice echoes, I can’t believe all the shit happening to me. I must be the unluckiest person alive. Or maybe, This isn’t my day again.
You make plans, do your best to follow through with the details. You might overanalyze and still you wonder, Why in the world is my life so hard?
I have talked to many people about their issues, especially since I’ve gotten chronically ill. Other members of my support group and I share symptom similarities, relate how we feel in a safe space, and I have noticed there are some who heal better, more quickly, and with a greater lasting impact than others.
I don’t mean disingenuous positivity, slapping on a smile you can’t feel, or don’t want to share. It’s forced and fake. I’m talking about changing the messages you give yourself. Call it self affirmation, if you want.
We start with internal thoughts before we voice opinions and feelings. These secret musings become outward words we manifest.
It’s why your external change starts inside. Because when you deliver negative, discouraging missives to yourself, you are issuing a truth: I can’t do this. I can’t change this. Or, I am a victim.
Your unspoken thoughts become actions specifically designed to fail because you don’t believe in what you are doing, or what you are going after.
Swap those tacit, damaging recitations for different ones: I can learn from this. What am I trying to accomplish? What is my gut telling me? Separate your heart from your gut. What’s good for you? Get logical with your emotions. Forget what you want. What do you need?
Then focus on shoring-up your confidence when you go after your goals. I can do this. One setback is not going to keep me from my aim. Failure gives me the opportunity to learn.
When I wrote one of the first versions of my novel, I solicited opinions from a writing group containing thousands of readers and writers. I felt ready to hear their real opinions. In actuality, comparing them to hyenas digging into a fresh kill was a kind understatement!
Yes, I cried over their slams, but then something happened. I listened. I took the valid pieces as the reality of their experience. I applied the relevant changes that needed to happen to strengthen the book. It got better. Readers liked it! And I found out a really cool result:I became hungry for truth.
When I distanced myself from what could hurt me and removed any intention behind words, I grew a thicker skin. These people didn’t know me! They were not trying to enter my body to claw at my soul.
The more I apply this mantra in my life:
I want the truth, the more I grow, the more effective I become in my work and the closer my relationships. All of this is confidence fodder. When you reach this stage, you can go on feeling better about yourself and your abilities, which begins to feed upon your subsequent endeavors until you have manifested a long, wondrous chain.
The next time you feel disappointment , use it as an opportunity to change your voice to that of an intentional victor. Get honest and fearless. Did things go south because the decision didn’t originate from your gut? Substitute scolding yourself for making mistakes by regrouping and refocusing.
Tell yourself, I can do this because I say I can. I will do this because I believe I will. You are your most credible testament. Repeat the mantra in your head as many times as you need, shut down any creeping, doubtful suggestions.
Say your mantra again. I can. Then you will.
Originally appeared in The Good Men Project