We all have people in our lives that create challenges for us. I'd even go further to say that people will be one of our biggest struggles in our lives. Many times we allow people into our lives and just assume we are to move forward with the collection of people and relationships that we've collected from our past and present. WRONG.
Some people are part of our history and should stay that way. Solomon once said, "You become the company you keep". It is true. Successful people (as defined as thriving in all areas of life) don't just accept who is around them. They intentionally prune unhealthy people and foster healthy relationships. Here are the people you need to prune out of your life:
I'm not talking just the person who says the glass is "half empty". Having a bit of pessimism is not necessarily a bad thing. I'm talking about the person who just brings everyone down with them. The world is always against them, they are always the victim, "can't and never" are a big part of their vocabulary. The world is a dark place with little hope and little opportunity. It always feels like they are benefactor of some negative force and it influences everything they do. They just breed negativity whether they realize it or not. It's poisoned their well.
Positive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will.
The truth to this quote by Zig Ziglar is profound. Negative thinking doesn't provide any solutions to the problem. It just wallows in them. Positive thinking invites motivation, encouragement, and determination. It seeds action.
Do you have someone in your life right now that has set conditions on your relationship? Expectations (explicitly or inexplicitly) you have to meet to be a part of their inner circle. For some reason you always feel some uncomfortable emotion like guilt when you don't do something they expect or feel the need to make excuses when you don't meet their expectations, standards, etc. TOO MUCH WORK.
It's almost like you have to earn their relationship in some way. It's not worth it. Each of us comes to the table in a relationship with who we are- the healthiest exchanges are very equal in nature - you give and get. Sometimes you fill them up and sometimes they fill you up. Not with this person. The reason for their unhealthy approach many times has to do with past relationships in their life. You can't fix this for them.
They need to go or their relationship impact be minimized in our life. They create a lot of emotional wear and tear and impact our entire life - emotionally, relationally, etc. They drain resources from other relationships. Be careful - these are often the most challenging to downshift. These kind of people tend have the hardest time being managed into a healthy relationship.
I bet by reading that headline a name or two pops in your head. We all have people we know that can't get it together. And yes we can always help (but not enable) those in need. But how does this person effect my life? There are a lot of ways. Here is a list:
Until this person really, truly accepts responsibility for themselves and their actions there is little you can do. Don't let them rob anything from healthy relationships in your life.
The big question is, what any of these kind of people are family? (many times they are). The answer I've found that works for me is "controlled space or tactical separation". In this you create a buffer between you and the unhealthy people in your family but allow times of interaction (as long as they are on your terms) to love on them. It could be scheduling time to meet them for dinner over the course of 2-3 hours,etc. The goals is to have a plan in and a plan out on your terms. If it goes sideways, you have simple way to exit. I've found that many times this strategy actually makes the time feel more valuable and brings joy to relationships that didn't have any before. Planned visits tend to have a kind of fun anticipation.
3 final things to chew on:
Ahhh forgiveness. We've all wrestled with this concept and we are sure to wrestle with it many more times in our lives. Sometimes forgiveness is easier - someone did something deceitful that inconvenienced you but there wasn't much impact - and sometimes it is very, very hard - someone did something that hurt you so deeply that it changed your life. Either way - it still creates a boatload of emotions that you have to fight through. If we understand a few true principles of forgiveness, it can change the way we handle it and that in itself can have BIG repercussions in our life.
I chose to forgive someone who frankly didn't deserve AND it didn't happen right away.
A few years ago I stepped aboard a failing online startup. It was ugly - the developer partner was sleeping in the office, stacks of bills, almost no income. When I came on board there were two founding partners but one of the partners wasn't involved and completely out of the picture. Myself and the main founding partner decided we were going to give it one last hard push to try and salvage the business. I had no idea how much it would require of me and if I had I probably wouldn't have even started. We worked our butts off - non stop we poured in hours, sweat, blood and tears.
After a couple years the business still wasn't making that much income. In being on the team, I took a massive pay cut from what I could earn in the job market. I built the business on the back of my family and it really took a lot out of us. We lived off very, very little and it was a struggle to keep it going. Living like this was so exhausting and we had a new baby right in the middle of it. There were times where my wife had to calm a crying baby at home because we were out of formula, didn't have a working car (broke down) and I didn't have any way to get it to her quickly. Just miserable.
3 years into the business we got an offer to sell and it was beyond anything we could have imaged. Finally, my family could potentially breathe a sigh of relief. Finally, there was light at the end of the tunnel. Finally, there was tangible hope. Finally.... enter partner number 3.
This individual walked in on all our hard work, our long hours, our deferred income and threatened to throw the deal if he didn't get what he wanted- what he demanded. And part of that was to be compensated beyond me even though he hadn't done anything. He was willing to take all we had done and throw it away. Selfish. He hadn't had to comfort his wife when there was zero dollars and things you needed, he didn't have to borrow money from family just to get dinner, he didn't know what it felt like to fight the heavy weight of daily depression and uncertainty knowing that you were taking small steps towards something you believed in but couldn't see. He didn't know jack.
I can't explain the feelings I felt because I've never felt them before in my life. I felt defeated, angry, betrayed, enraged, hurt, depressed, pissed and many, many more. I swallowed all this and we let him walk away with his demands and a fat check. We had to sell - I couldn't go on grinding it out at that level and neither could my family.
2 years later I was able forgive him. Before then I couldn't think about it because it would open up a dark place that threatened to poison and swallow me up in bitterness. Here are the three things I learned:
When I forgave this person, something unexpected happened. I felt unattached from the situation and all the bitterness. When I really forgave him from deep inside, all the emotions that normally stirred no longer existed. By forgiving him I let myself off the hook and was able to walk away. I gave myself permission to not let it bother me anymore.
One fallacy of forgiveness is that it resets everything and everyone starts where they left off. Nope. Trust is something that is built overtime and takes time and effort. Even though I forgave this person I don't trust them and that is ok. It would be poor judgement to trust someone who doesn't deserve it.
I thought for a while that I would never be able to forgive this person for taking advantage of the situation. What they did just felt so wrong. When I finally worked through it all and was able to genuinely forgive them, my complete outlook of them changed. Before I had seen him as a complete jerk who had no regard for anyone other than himself (and a handful of other choice words). After I chose to forgive him, I saw an insecure, sad scared person who had no real hope in their life. My new perspective allowed me to have compassion for him - something I never, ever thought in a million years would happen. I feel sorry for the guy. In addition, I feel like working through this and moving to forgive was the hardest thing to do but it strengthened my character. I feel like I'm able to forgive more readily because of all this.
This experience has changed my life. Letting go and moving forward has allowed me to move into bigger, better things that I could have never grabbed holding on to the past. Forgiveness isn't for them, it's for us.
Money - being the physical good- isn't good or bad. It is just a piece of paper or metal. It is the character of the individual holding it that determines the outcome of its impact. I heard someone once say money is like a microscope, it reveals the Character DNA of the person who has it.
Do people with weak character, no purpose and self esteem issues blow it, waste it and destroy their lives? Yes. It is not the money that caused this to happen - it was their ego running unchecked.
Do people with great character use it to change the lives of others around the world in big, meaningful ways? Yes.
Money, again, isn't the corrupting agent. Think of how rust works. Iron and oxygen won't form rust unless water is present. You have to have a corruptible character to be corrupted. What we see play out in the world of politics - for example - is individuals with weak character being exposed in high places. They would have been exposed in low places too.
The second most common lie in this concept is that people with wealth or great income must be responsible since they earned the money. NOPE. A lot of people have gifts that lend them to great financial gain but aren't responsible whatsoever. How many professional athletes completely blow it? We think "wow they have money and still can't get their act together?". They found themselves in wealth and we expect that sound judgement was part of that process - it definitely wasn't.
At the age of 22 I found myself in the right place at the right time with the right set of skills. It wasn't me - it was the timing of the economy, demand and opportunity. Growing up in a lower middle class family I had no concept of how to handle more money than what was needed to "get by". All of the sudden I found myself in the middle of earning in a way I never knew possible and I completely blew it. Everyone was blowing it. Just burning money all over town. I was young and naive and had no depth to my character at that point and I was around a ton of people who, though being older, were no wiser than I was. My income was more than my character could handle.
During one of my more challenging seasons of life where we were completely broke, I developed this toxic thought process that was purely focused on "my ship coming in". If I could only get more money, I'd be fine. If we only had more income, all our problems will be solved. When the money comes in, then we will be fine. This lie is especially harmful because it keeps you trapped in waiting - not in taking action. If money is the only solution, then that is what you should focus on, right? No, no, no. Plus like the rap lyric says "Mo' Money, Mo' Problems".
Now, hear me out. Having money is not bad and it certainly does relieve stress, strain and get that monkey off our back. But it isn't the magic bullet that will solve ALL our problems and shouldn't be glorified as such.
Here is a big takeaway: WE KEEP BEING WARNED ABOUT MONEY. IT IS NOT ABOUT THE MONEY. IT IS ABOUT OUR CHARACTER. If we focus on building good character internally, positive products come out of that and when we find ourselves with resources (time, talent, treasure) we can then contribute those to the world in a unique way only we can. We will be prepared to handle money or any other resources accordingly and responsibly. Isn't that what the world needs more of afterall?
By: Tamira Eliseo
At one point or another, life will become overwhelming for each and every one of us. There are so many things that can trigger stress, hopelessness, anxiety and depression. Work, finances, relationships, health etc. can all get difficult to handle at times. Sometimes we even fall into depressive states over what seems like nothing. Making it even harder for us to feel better, how can we help ourselves if we can’t identify what the core problem is? Hopefully this will clear things up a bit, and make you a ton more confident in tackling your depression one day at a time.
1. Try To Identify What’s Weighing On You
When I say try, I mean just give it a shot. I don’t meant overthink things, or keep yourself up at night trying to over analyze your life. That was my number one enemy of progressing towards hopefulness, and the fact is that you are never going to feel better if you treat yourself like a frustrating, 100,000,000 piece puzzle. Try to pinpoint what’s troubling you in the simplest way you can. If it’s rent you are unable to pay this month, if it is a rude neighbor constantly conflicting with you each time you leave your house, if work is piling up and you are feeling overwhelmed, if you need to lose some weight but you’re feeling anything but motivated, if it is something you need to come clean about to a loved one… realize what it is, for what it is. Tell yourself “Work is piling up and I am feeling overwhelmed by it.” Now, ask yourself “How can I make myself feel better about this? How can I resolve this problem?” Come up with a plan that will put your mind at ease, and also resolve the problem that is causing turmoil. Sometimes coming up with a game plan is the exact moment you start feeling better and more in control of your life. Once you have a game plan, put those ideas to action. Instead of, “Oh man, work is piling up… I think I’ll just wait to start everything next week and go from there” make it, “Work is piling up, time to get in there and knock it all out. I’ll feel so relieved when I’m done!”
The best thing you can do if you know what’s upsetting you, and it can be fixed but you are just too fearful to address it- is to address it immediately. Fear will quickly grow into a towering monster so long as you let it feed off of you. Show your fear; and more importantly yourself, that you can do anything. No matter how hard it is, or what the consequences are, YOU CAN DO IT. We are all human and every single one of us has made mistakes and wrong decisions… The simple fact is that not all of us can openly admit to them and bravely look for a resolution. Don’t procrastinate, don’t make any more excuses- just accept it, face it, move on with your life and find a solution. You deserve it.
2. You Can’t Figure Out What’s Weighing On You
If you are unable to see what is truly upsetting you and making you feel hopeless, it’s okay. No need to beat yourself up anymore about it, it’s just time for a change in lifestyle and overall point of view. You are feeling like you are not getting the most out of life anymore, you are not so impressed with the simpler things, you feel as if you’ve hit a plateau, and you are not happy with how things are in general. Now that you’ve addressed the negative, you need to make it your number one goal to de-stress, relax and get back to living a happy life again (AKA- the positive!). Sometimes we don’t always need to figure out what the exact issue is, we just need to go ahead and start the journey to making ourselves feel better physically and mentally, I call it a “negativity cleanse.”
3. The Negativity Cleanse
Whether you know what the underlying problem is or not, this “negativity cleanse” will benefit you and enrich your life. I start by giving all my attention solely to myself. When you are feeling depressed, anxious or stressed- you really DO need to focus on yourself, and less on others. It may sound selfish in black and white, but it’s certainly not selfish to give yourself the attention, care and love that you deserve and require in order to heal. This is your health and your happiness, something you are going to live with or without the rest of your life. You simply can’t have other people’s problems piling on top of you while you are trying to pick yourself up off the ground.
Now focus hard on the things that you love and feel blessed to have or be a part of. Family, a strong relationship with God, friends that support and love you, a job that you truly enjoy, a prayer group that keeps you feeling centered, a job you don’t enjoy but SUPPORTS your family financially, a home or neighborhood you feel totally safe in, a refrigerator with sufficient food in it, a four legged friend to greet you after a hard day, the sun coming out, the stars flickering at night, your two arms, head and two legs! There are so many wonderful things in life that will fuel your mind positively if you just find the time to dwell on them. Think about specific moments that made you smile, ones that made you cry tears of joy, ones that made you laugh, ones that made you confident, ones that made you love. Relive those emotions and feelings. Do this every single day, as many times as you feel necessary. I like to start off my day positively by thinking about these things, and I like to end my day the same way. Sometimes these thoughts just find their way into my head at random times now, driving to the store I’ll suddenly begin to think about how happy I am to be working for such a wonderful company, how happy I am to be able to spend time with my mother once a week, or how happy I am to have flexible hours to spend more time with my family. It may be even more healing for you to write these positive thoughts down into a journal, for you to read and add to every day. Positive thoughts improve and build your skills, boosts your health, enhances your mood, benefits your relationships and improves your work. Nothing negative can come out of thinking positively!
Do things that will exercise and focus your mind, soul, senses and body- things that you enjoy! It doesn’t have to be going for a jog/exercising, but if that’s what helps you feel better, then by all means do it! It can be painting a picture out in your yard listening to all the birds chirping, you could be baking a batch of delicious homemade peanut butter cookies, you could be singing in the shower to your favorite song, you could light some sweet-smelling candles and meditate, you could read an interesting book with a cup of your favorite tea or coffee to sip on, you could sculpt something out of clay, you could go out for a walk with your children in the evening and watch the sun go down... Exercise and use your senses as a tool against depression and hopelessness. Really feel what it’s like to live life. See, feel, smell, hear and taste the many joys that you’ve been missing out on- and completely clear your mind of hearing the alarm clock go off five times, smelling burnt toast in the morning, hearing your partner yell at you for misplacing the keys, squirting toothpaste in your eye, and seeing your car roll down a hill because you forgot the parking brake. Just remember no one is stopping you from relaxing, but you. We all need to take a step away from the chaos of life and work at times to just breathe, smile and smell the roses.
4. Strengthen Your Coping Muscles
Even though hard times tend to brainwash us into thinking that we just don’t the ability or energy to pick ourselves back up, there are in fact ways to boost yourself up and past depression. You can strengthen your coping muscles (or skills), every single day by transitioning your point of view from grey areas to the colorful areas of life. Here are some habits to add or subtract from your daily routine, before you know it- being hopeful and happy will become second nature to you!
Create a Calmer Environment for Yourself
Clear some physical and mental space around your desk and home by sorting papers, tossing all the junk, stowing and organizing supplies, filing, straightening up the living room, making the bed, putting away dishes etc... A large pile of little tasks can feel overwhelming, but often times designating a few minutes of work can make a sizeable dent in that pile. Try to get in the habit of being more reliable person than a procrastinator, try not to postpone any task that can be completed in less five minutes. An uncluttered environment will contribute to a more serene mood and shed tons of stress off of you.
Don’t Catastrophize Things
It’s extremely unhealthy to catastrophize situations, or focus on the worst outcome imaginable regardless of it being totally irrational. In example, don’t allow financial concerns about making enough money this month escalate into the result that you'll soon be homeless and your life is over. Instead of thinking, “We’re never going to be able to pay rent this next month, let’s start packing our stuff up because we’re going to be evicted” think, “Rent is getting closer and closer, maybe I’ll ask if I can stay late a couple hours to cover rent this month. We’ll figure something out and get it taken care of, don’t worry.” Be optimistic always.
Try to Stop Ruminating
So the waiter at the restaurant was incredibly rude to you and your friend, and you regret not saying something rude back to them. Three hours after you’ve already returned from lunch, your blood is still boiling and you’re grinding your teeth at the thought of that waiter's face. This type of behavior will only keep you feeling upset, depressed and angry for longer. While reflection is a good thing and may help you solve problems or issues, rumination does the exact opposite. Try to redirect your thoughts, focus on something else pleasant or calming. Listen to music, meditate, go for a run, tend to your garden, draw a picture, go outside and play with your pet or children! Replace that negative scenario with positive exercises. You’ll forget all about what made you upset before you know it.
Leave Forecasts to the Weather Channel
Bottom line is that you aren’t a weatherman, and you can’t honestly tell yourself if there’s going to be severe thunderstorms down the line a week or so from now. So why worry yourself? All you can do is be prepared for the unknown obstacles to come, bring an umbrella just in case. Hopeless people will often convince themselves they know what will happen a day, a month, or a year from now. And it's usually always negative situations that they foresee happening. Instead of getting ahead of yourself, try to stay here in the present. The past is far over and the future hasn’t happened yet. It is much more realistic, you're less likely to blow things out of proportion, and you’ll feel more in control of your life and stress once you stop creating imaginary situations that are out of your control. Preparing for the future is fine and wise, but do not let it ruin your present.
Be More Consistent
Even if you don't want to, try to get into the habit of waking up at a set time each day, eat your meals at the same time every day, exercise at the same times, recite the things you are thankful for each and every morning when you wake up, pray before bedtime, and avoid lazily sitting around on the couch during the day as it prevents you from getting comfortable and getting adequate rest at night. A sense of regularity, structure and productiveness is important for those of us with depressive behavior. It truly helps to have a routine that feels fulfilling rather than wandering around the house feeling lonely and directionless. Find enjoyable hobbies to fill empty time you may have!
Focus on Tasks You’re in Control of and Get Them Done
Rid yourself of all nagging tasks. You don’t need the extra weight, and crossing some chores off your to-do list will make you feel rewarded and accomplished! It really helps to make yourself a list of all those simpler things that need to get done. Like washing the dishes, answering a load of emails, bathing the dog, doing laundry, going to the grocery store, cleaning up and decluttering the house, getting the bills paid, making dinner, whatever needs to be done- write it down and address it! Doing these small exercises will help you become more confident in being able to complete tasks ahead of you and take some of that extra stress off of you immediately.
5. Realizing It’s Only Temporary
When you’re in a pitch black tunnel, it’s very hard to see an end. Especially when there’s no light at the end of it to tell you how much further you’ve got left to go. When you are at that point, you need to open your eyes and realize that this feeling will not last forever. At some point- the tunnel will end, open up and you will see the blue sky, sunshine and white clouds again. One thing my father always told me was that emotions are all temporary. An idea that I had never wrapped my head around before... One feeling will never last forever, even if it seems like it will. That is why it’s so important to be more open and in tune to our emotions and feelings. Happiness, sadness, envy, turmoil, depression, relief, stress, joy, hopelessness, defeat all feed off of each other in order to exist. They are simply just sensations of being alive. Without turmoil, there would be no joy. Without sadness, there would be no happiness. Without depression, there would be no relief. Emotions are not our enemy, they aren’t here to destroy us, break us down or eat away at us- it’s just a matter of learning to understand their purpose. They are beautiful things that really prove to us that we are living, breathing, human beings. Imagine a world where you never felt sad, anxious, scared, happy, loved, excited or overjoyed etc.. The definition of life itself drastically changes. Once you realize that, it’s not so intimidating to be “sad” anymore. It just another temporary sensation, and we know that happiness will soon show itself to us. Depression, anxiety, jealousy, stress and hopelessness will never be able to rule or control you permanently. Period.
Feeling defeated - or depressed - is the dumps. In this life of emotional ups and downs, we all at some point are going to get the blues -some more than others. I know it really affects me big time. I've suffered from big highs and low lows my entire life- probably more than the "average" person. If you live in an area where you have seasons of darker weather - rain, snow, etc, it can actually trigger it further. For me living in Southern California actually does a lot for me in this regard - sunshine has such a positive effect on my psyche.
So what if you find yourself feeling defeated? What can you do to help better your situation? I've come up with some tactics that always help me recover and get me started moving in a positive direction.
Orchestrate Your Perspective
It always feels the darkest when there seems to be no end, no hope. There are certainly situations that are more dire than others but most of the time what we are feeling is about a temporary situation. It will come and it will go. Everything in life happens in cycles and seasons. I remember what it was like with my first son - he didn't sleep for 9 months. In those moments of dire sleeplessness I felt swallowed up by the thought that there was no end in sight. It just made me really, really negative. For my second son, we took the perspective that things were going to happen in seasons or waves. Seasons of less sleep, season of more sleep - any issues we encountered were mostly temporary. What a difference that was! We actually enjoyed it lol.
Meditate on an inspirational quote or bible verse
Sometimes we need to take our mind off the present and refocus on something positive. I used to have this desk calendar what had a quote a day. Every day I'd rally around the day's inspirational quote. I've done this with the bible as well. What a game changer this tactic is for me. This mental nourishment shifts our gears and allows us to stop thinking about our own situation and think about other situations and scenarios - it gives our minds something to apply and run with. Plus when you do this early in the day you get it when your mind is most supple and rested and less influenced by other distractions. I can tell you intentionally feeding my mind positive wisdom has def changed my life. Super powerful.
Do something you enjoy - to invoke joy and happiness into your life.
What gives you joy and excites you? Trying a new food? Going to the park? Listening to music? Dancing? Exercise? - Whatever it is, make time to do it. By doing something we truly enjoy and get joy out of we are triggering positive healthy emotions (plus probably dopamine for our brains). Healthy positive emotions are the least draining and most rewarding emotions that directly counteract the feelings of depression. You can't frown and smile at the same time right?
I love, love, love this tactic. I do it ALL the time. My routine usually involves music - something uplifting and fun, maybe 80's classic rock or some good modern pop. Spotify even has mood playlists - so it is super easy to dial into what you want. I'll blast it loud and go for a drive or I will throw it in earbuds and go for a walk. Some days it's getting out by myself and getting sushi or getting a massage or running errands. Do whatever works for you. And by just getting out and doing something, you will feel a little better.
Do something for someone else
Nothing will shift your emotions and feelings like helping someone else. There is such an aligning of perspective and priorities when you leave a warm house with a full fridge to help feed someone who is sleeping outside in the cold with nothing to eat. Maybe volunteering at your local church, helping at your local shelter, taking a meal to a sick friend- wherever you feel you'd like to plugin. The opportunities are endless - a lot of needs in the world.
My wife loves to cook so for her she really enjoys making meals for people. Giving people a good warm meal while they are going through turbulent times is one way we like to love on them. We do it for others yet it does something so awesome for us to be able to be of service. It gives us a purpose and reminds us to be thankful. Sometimes that is what we need to pull us out of the dumps.
All in all, remember you have the power to take action. You don't control what gets thrown at you in this life but you have full control of how you react and adapt. It isn't the absence of negative life experiences that make a person positive- it is the daily decisions they make in dealing with those things.