Written by Rachel
After a really daunting experience (like, say, trying to make a success out of Mary Kay), moving forward can seem so difficult, we can’t even see where we want to go. So much of what holds us back is how we feel about ourselves.
We made mistakes, and we feel bad about them. Sometimes, we feel bad about feeling bad – we tell ourselves, “Get over it, already!” But feeling bad about it does nothing to help – what we need are some tools to help ourselves get over it. We need to understand that that moving forward with our goals is worth the effort. That we are worth it. Maybe we need a little time to understand that our behavior was normal and human – and forgive ourselves. Because guess what? YOU are worth it.
So let’s talk about some tools for helping ourselves to move forward. Whether we’re still reeling from our Mary Kay experience, or just working on self improvement, these things can help.
Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude. One of the best things I ever did for myself was also one of the easiest. When I first read about gratitude journaling, I was skeptical. I’d been raised to count my blessings, and there were times when, frankly, trying to do so made me feel even worse. But the idea stayed on my mind. I started reading the research, and almost without realizing it, I began a practice of using spare brain cycles to remind myself of the little things I could be grateful for today. It did subtly being to work a change in my outlook, and to this day, I reinforce the practice by writing down my grateful thoughts daily. According to a study by Robert Emmons:
Participants who kept gratitude lists were more likely to have made progress toward important personal goals (academic, interpersonal and health-based) over a two-month period compared to subjects in the other experimental conditions.
Get enough activity and rest. It sounds obvious, but many of us don’t pay enough attention to taking care of our physical needs. Cutting ourselves short on activity makes it hard to get enough rest. Cutting ourselves short on rest makes us tired, and we don’t feel like being active. And the cycle continues…
One of my rules for myself is to get at least 5 minutes walking (or moving in some way) every day. (The rule is “outside”, because getting natural light is also a big deal for me.) Even if I haven’t managed to keep up with the workouts I’d planned, I deserve those 5 minutes, at least. I also have a rule against eating at my desk. Lunch time is rest time.
What do you need to do, to ensure a reasonable amount of rest and activity? Are you doing it? If not, what small step can you take each day to get a little closer to meeting your needs? As a minimum, you should be able to sit down each morning, and just take a few deep breaths. That’s a start. And maybe you could adopt my 5 minute walk rule.
Talk to someone. For many of us, Mary Kay seemed to help meet our social needs. But in the end, all we got from Mary Kay was false relationships based on greed. At the same time, we may have distanced ourselves from our real friends. An experience like that can leave us feeling like we have no one left to talk to.
Personally, I’ve been through that business of feeling like I have no friends a number of times. One thing that actually helped me, was talking to people online, and getting support and approval that way. Sometimes you can find people who understand what you’ve been through, and it can be easier to write some things, than it is to talk about them face to face.
Online friends aren’t enough to sustain us forever, but once you get that approval and understanding from someone… anyone… it can help you be more open to understanding from people in “real life.” While we can never force people to be our friends, we can open ourselves the friendship and support that’s available. Unfortunately, the times when we need our friends most, are often the times when we’re least likely to seek them out. Maybe we’re expecting rejection. Maybe we’re just too used to caring for others, and don’t know how to be the one who needs care. But having friends is important, and we need to remember that the people who care about us want to help us, so we should give them that opportunity. Reaching out can be scary, but it’s worth it. YOU are worth it.
Meditate and/or pray. The worst thing MLM does to us is break our spirits. For religious people, Mary Kay uses religion against them. But whether we’re religious or not, it breaks our ability to experience life as it, and teaches us to live for false promises. It damages the connection we share with others, and teaches us to use, rather than care for, one another. It gets us to live with this by twisting everything — teaching us to believe half-truths and lies, and to avoid seeking truth.
Those of you who are religious already know the value of prayer. One of the best things you can pray for is to become a better you. Consider focusing on things like serenity (the ability to accept things as they are, and drop distractions and unproductive reactions to things that happen), connection and compassion for others, and openness to the truth.
Whether you’re religious or not, though, meditation has proven value. Many years ago, I tried meditation, and decided it was something my ADD brain wasn’t capable of. But over the years, I have read so many times about how it helps with everything from improving focus, to managing stress, depression, and pain. So one day, I grew up and realized I didn’t have to do it perfectly for it to be helpful. So I tried again, applying a little common sense. The women of PT helped me find some good materials to guide me. I’m still pretty new at it, but it has already helped me to do more productive work when my job is difficult.
Either approach, or both, can help us let go of our unnecessary baggage from the past (the unhelpful judgment and guilt), and help us take life as it comes. We can realize that the way we assess our ethics and behavior should be based on what we are doing now.
If you need to, seek professional help. What if you try using these tools and they don’t seem to work? What if you want to try them, but can’t manage to get started – or if, despite all evidence, you can’t bring yourself to believe they actually help? Those could be signs that it’s time to seek professional help. That’s not always an easy thing to do (I know I avoided it for years, despite suffering serious depression.) But it is worth doing. You are worth making the effort.
You will find many people here at PT who have been helped by counseling. I personally had a wonderful experience just this past fall/winter. After talking to my doctor, I agreed to try an SRRI to get me through the hardest part of fall and winter, with the thought that I could then have the energy to work on coping strategies. The results, for me, have been better than I could have imagined.
I know it’s not that easy for everyone. Some people have found it took years of struggle before they found the answers to what was holding them back. But do you know what I always hear when they finally do move forward? That’s right – it was worth it.