~ Reflections on Growing Wiser and Learning from Our Setbacks~
I’ve often talked about growing in terms of new experiences or in learning something new, or making mistakes that teach us valuable lessons on how to move forward or alternatively how not to move forward (i.e. don’t try that again, type of thing). Whether they are good, tough or in between, these personal experiences are the best teachers to learn from and learn about ourselves… that is if we are paying attention to the lesson. If not, sometimes it can be frustrating, or tough having to learn again and again until the message becomes absolutely clear. Sometimes for me this has been the case of “What you are doing isn’t working” or “Try something else” or “Don’t going down that path again”. Whatever it happens always seems to be followed by some new form of knowledge, a tidbit about ourselves that we didn’t know before that allows us to go in a little more prepared than the last perhaps failed attempt.
But what if that doesn’t work and we end up making it quite a few times, all leading up to a humungous oops?!?
Well, this has been the case for me- a huge stage of every-kind-of-ward growing. Which I realize only after going through some of the toughest moments and emotions that it’s left me better than before. It seems our setbacks have the pretty powerful ability to transform us into stronger versions of ourselves, which is a pretty incredible. I’ve realized this myself and gradually am trying to become grateful for the lessons. Even though, the process that precedes this realization, and transformation was tough and sometimes just putting one foot in front of the other seemed to be asking a lot; it became a necessary step in moving forward and on with life.
The lesson I’ve learned is then this is what we must do if only to prove to ourselves that we can do it and for the process to begin. Despite it being tough and me having to rely on extra support I still managed to learn a lot about myself and how I am able to grow from my own experiences and mistakes. Getting through the thick of it has also made me realize how strong and resilient I am and that if I got through this difficult time then maybe it is possible to get through any other challenges that may come my way. On this note I shall end with a quote from the wonderful Cheryl Strayed:
“You’ll learn a lot from yourself if you stretch in the direction of goodness, of bigness, of kindness, of forgiveness, of emotional bravery.
Be a warrior of love.”~ Cheryl Strayed
Thank-you for listening,
The Three Things that has Helped Me and Hopefully Can Help You!
It seems the challenging times are the ones that really shape us but also call for the most out of us. When in the midst of experiencing, working through and resolving inner, outer or both conflicts sometimes the best way to get through is simply hang tight and hope for a brighter outcome like waiting for the calm after the storm. If we have the motivation or support to help us be able to get through is a good first step, still it can take a lot of personal strength and courage to just putting one foot in front of the other when things seem uncertain or when we become uncertain of ourselves. Through my experiences I’ve learned that it’s not the easiest to go through but it is a process worth going through if only to come into a new awareness. Until then it can be a bumpy ride of sorting out but perhaps what I’ve kept in mind through my own challenging experiences can help you.
Be kind to yourself: It can be hard not to self criticize, dredge up past emotions or actions, analyze and overanalyze the situation until the cows come home but one thing I’ve learned from wrestling with these tendencies is that they are not always helpful. Sure it is important to reflect on the incident or occurrence to help us move forward and learn from our mistakes but this can also hold you back from moving forward positively and forgiving yourself. We all at one point in our lives fall prone to pitfalls and thoughts on self judgment that serve no purpose than no other to keep us down. These things are bound to happen, so be easy on yourself and know that part of hindsight comes from our errs or oversights, ones that we couldn’t have known.
Take Things Day by Day and Allow for the Process to Happen: From my own personal experience, there were many days where this is all I could in times of great stress and anxiety to get by and move forward in a positive way. If you can get through those first few days and allow yourself to take things slow by taking things day by day and for time to pass as it does, it’s a good step healthy step in keep those anxieties and self perpetuating thoughts at bay. Even if it takes longer than we would like to carry on as normal or to feel good again it is completely okay, and it’s okay if that’s all you can do. By accepting this it is another way of being kind and patient with ourselves and fears during this time. Sometimes we only have the courage of a mouse but it is still a form of courage and that’s good and worth noting. Do what you can do, and keep on, keepin’ on.
It does get easier day by day: This is probably the most overriding theme and message that I’ve realized from getting through times of tough growth or failure is that those first few days are the hardest part of rising strong but if we continue to move forward gradually it will get better. Things will look up and you’ll see that everything won’t be as hard as the first few days which can be the toughest. At one point, hopefully, you’ll realize that as time passed so has your biggest hurdles. This is where rising strong feels good and becomes easier because as the expression states: “the only way out is through”. Through the tough times, the fear, uncertainty and nervousness. There may be some days that will take a bit more of that courage while others less but either way each step forward will also lead to extra courage and ease, so don’t get discouraged and know that each will build towards progress in the end.
Stay strong and brave,
A Lesson on Self Compassion
This much I am learning about how I handle any new expectation or experience that may take some adjustment and a few tries. It won’t always go smoothly the first time yet I put these unreasonable expectations on myself to get everything done the perfectly the first time or figure out whatever this new thing is in the first few attempts. Which is unreasonable to expect of anyone, even if I am putting all that pressure on myself. In expecting to handle everything way up there I’ve far exceeded what anyone else could put on me. So I’ve begun to really look into “why” I’ve done that? where that could have come from? and how to move forward being gentler on myself- after all sometimes the ones in need of most forgiving are ourselves.
As having such high expectations for ourselves; set by ourselves are tough and aren’t always the most reasonable. I believe another thought too, is that often these are the ones most easily moved higher and higher. Sometimes no matter how hard you try or how much you’ve accomplished there’s the little critical voice inside us that taunts us to take on more- even if it may be too much-. When I’ve listened to this voice instead of my own intuition it (most of the time) has only ever set me up with disappointment, frustration and extra stress. Three things I didn’t need in my life at that moment. However what I often do need and to give myself is understanding, patience and self-compassion. Especially self-compassion.
Which I became hopeful for once realizing that a lot of my own harshness is tied to a sense of perfectionism in me. Coming from that part of my brain that feels relieved when everything is in it’s place at the end of the day or when my baking at first hasn’t turned out just like the picture. Since discovering this, and being humbly put in my place I am intent on learning how to let things go and worry less about having things go perfectly right. After all, there will always be things outside my control and for others to worry about so there’s no sense in worrying about these things myself and constantly stressing over what I can’t control. This is what I’ve slowly been working on let go that need for everything to work out perfectly or I guess my own concerns to only worry about whether I’m doing all I can. There’s things to be concerned about while others that aren’t worth the stress. Sometimes it’s best to just do what we can do, be gentle on ourselves and set those expectations a little lower in accepting this process over time because it’s been a gradual building up so it’s probably going to be a gradual letting go.
What I’ve learned from Creativity and Deciding!
If there is one thing I’ve learned about myself in the last year or so it’s that almost anything becomes possible once I set my mind to it and decide to go for it. I’ve taken on so many new experiences not only this year but in the last couple of years that have gotten me to where I am now. All have involved deciding to take on at the time something new. If I had not done so then who knows where or who I’d be, perhaps still me but a little more different, a little less brave/open. It’s not always so easy though, and realizing that much of the time what held me back is in agonzining over decisions, going back and forth between truly wanting to try and bowing out in hopes of gaining more information or clarity. I’ve driven myself crazy in this process- the hemming and hawing involved in making next steps; second guessing/going one way or the other then back again is exhausting; dwelling on the uncertainty looming in the air at times has seemed like an effort in futility.
What has proven valuable- despite uncertainty- is indubitable power in deciding to do something even if you’re unsure. If guessing at what’s unclear is no help then the one that does and can control is our own decisions, which can either mean being brave in the chance of uncertainty or sticking to what we know and is familiar. Which although is safe, doesn’t really allow you or I to grow. If I had stuck to the familiar and in giving an example say in creativity then I would have never learned how enjoyable baking, or knitting or even doing pastels would have been. By deciding, however, to at least try these experiences I’ve learned and grown so much all of which I wouldn’t have if I stayed in my room.
There’s also a quote I’ve seen and have around my desk that reads:
“If it excites you and scares you at the same time, it might be a good thing to try”.
I find it a great inspiration to help in continuing to be brave and open to new experiences and decisions- both those with great certainty and uncertainty. I think of it every time I’m attempting to write something new; explore a new insight; try something new and especially in sharing my experiences or thoughts with someone else. All of which can seem exciting or scary to me at any given moment depending on how I chose to look at it but by taking I’ve been able to stop worrying and figure out how to move forward. *In full admittance* this is a work in progress for me that has been both inspiring and un-nerving at times but knowing there is only one way to go from where I stand and that’s forward with patience and courage has helped- also the quote mentioned above works well too.
Be brave, bold and determined,
An Introduction and Thoughts on the Subject:
I begin looking at this topic a while ago with the modest mindset of how others it seemed were more able to show an openness towards sharing themselves and their experiences which got me thinking that it seemed like a pretty courageous thing to do. I’ve always been in awe of that for others while striving to do the same myself. There is something about letting your true self be shown that is rather intimidating for me and so I’ve often admired it in others while simultaneously trying to work on it myself. With that I’ve began the process really looking at the when and where of sharing while building my own quiet courage which has taken some mustering.
My progress so far: a) Is that it takes time to get there but in order to get there we must keep moving forward and b) by doing so it becomes a process of starting somewhere (usually with sharing small thoughts/experiences/interests and moving into bigger topics BUT as mentioned above you must keep moving forward. As hard and perhaps uncertain at times as it may be the alternative to that is getting stuck in a particular spot and not contribute to your own growth or growing the connection. I’ve learned through mine and other experiences that it can take some time too, but if we’re really lucky the person we are connecting with will be patient at the times where our courage is less or what we share is in small doses. It’s important to realize this for ourselves but also in terms of how others may work through opening up and sharing, the uniqueness of it for each person is what makes sharing experiences unique and perhaps to add on another important lesson we can learn from others- especially if they are more open it can encourage us to be more open too. So to conclude is we must keep moving forward, at your own pace of course, but forward. It seems to be the only way to make connections grow and to form trust.
Really what it mostly comes down to for me and might help you is a steadfastness in showing up, and being who I truly am. I’ve also taken the perspective that just by doing that I’m already half way there. Next as follows is the little pep talks I give myself to just say one thing/share one thing about yourself and see how it goes. The voice inside me would say, and you’ll feel prouder for doing it.
For now, Introverted Butterfly
So here it is probably the most obvious advice you have ever heard and exactly what I’m telling you now, which is: the best way to prove others wrong is to take away their reason for being wrong, by doing what is right.” For example: if you are accused of not showing up, show up and be accountable. Often find yourself telling fibs or making up excuses- STOP! stop making up reasons that add to theirs and show the alternative outcome, listen, do whatever it is that is expected and what they don’t expect from you. Prove to them that you are capable of change through your actions.
It’s not always easy, and will possibly take great courage on your part. To show up when it’s hard or you don’t believe it will help (even if it doesn’t at first) but consistency is key in this. It’s also what will help it sink in for you (hopefully). I know that’s what has helped me finally understand this tricky truth, is through experience. Enough times I have given reasons out to make them right (without even realizing it), and often enough have got myself in trouble for stubbornly believing that my way of seeing things and therefore assuming my own solution was right. So speaking from experience here, yes it’s not easy but it’s also worth it. When you realize this it will open up a whole new world of awareness and bring a greater undeterred determination to the situation/person. It may take quite a bit of practice each day. When you’re consistency demonstrating to those who challenge you what you are really like it becomes harder for them to argue against that. At least that’s the hope, anyways. *Note: Doing this in a negative or mean-spirited way, really isn’t best. For it to have maximum affects on both sides (meaning you and them) it’s best to approach from a positive, accepting place. Which could catch your fellow doubters off guard as well.
Final point: Let your actions speak louder than your words. Because they naturally do, and spiteful words don’t do much in helping anyways.
Insights on easing into flow (of life)- unsettling feelings and all
I’ve noticed something recently, which is sometimes that even the goodness of having most things settled in life- for example: happy in our careers or pursing passions we love and having friends that truly care for us- can be quite a shock if you aren’t used to those good vibes. We may wish for such things and provide great contentment but if you are used to looking for or having conflict this transiton too can seem even the slightest bit unsettling. When there’s nothing iminent for our minds to obsess about it may seem too good to be true. I suppose that’s where the saying came from… when good happened to appear in one’s life it seemed unbelievable and so too good to be true.
Here’s an interesting thought… what if we actually begin to believe in the good and it’s not too good to be true? Can you imagine how that could change your whole outlook? I couldn’t until it occured to me that these moments may also be fleeting- meaning not lasting forever- so with that I tried my best to appreciate it now. And by believing this in a positive manner you’ll quickly realize as I did that what you have is already more than enough. It also may not always mean that you love every aspect of what’s going on to me this seems unrealistic, there are always going to be days when this practice is harder than other, when there may be moments that aren’t as wonderful as you’d like them to be.
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I can’t change. The courage to change the things I can. And the wisdom to know the difference!
How this practice works (in my experience): Instead of dwelling on those things that aren’t so perfect or good you focus on what is good- say if things seem difficult, focus on what isn’t; or going through a challenging time perhaps focus on the support you have or tools that may help versus. what definitely won’t help (complaining about the problem). By putting energy towards what you do have you are not only inviting more good in but not letting the negative ruin your day. It took a bit of mind training for me to figure out how to cut the habit of complaining out of my life, and how to focus on the good or other activities that I enjoy more (than work and complaining) but each opportunity to put this in practice it’s gotten easier as time went on.
Final tip: Try journalling to release those negative thoughts in a safe place before they have a chance to take over your thinking.
There is nothing like going away or getting time off work to relax and unwind from how hectic life can be. Even if we’re not working, taking a break from our day-to-day routines can be a good thing. It can allow us a fresh mindset and perhaps new perspective on our goals and progress on them. A taking stock, if you will of all we’ve done so far and how we plan to tackle the next chunk of time. It is also a good chance to turn off our brains and stop obsessing about work or chores and enjoy life. When it’s time to return back to routines there will be a chance to revisit those thoughts but they do us no good on much deserved vacations.
I’ve found it can also take some adjusting to being back at work. So how can one prepare for? To start I suppose is accepting that things may have changed while you were away, in which it will take some adjusting to the new flow of work upon arrival or if you are lucky enough that not much has happened it may be adjusting to more work piling up. Either way it may take some time, patience and willingness to find routine again. If you are lucky perhaps a day is enough to readjust, for myself I’ve found sometimes it takes a little longer more like a week to accept work life again. Continue reading
How to embrace new experiences and set our expectations for fun!
So here is my theory. I believe when we challenge ourselves to step outside of our comfort zones, and into new experiences then there is a much to be enjoyed and learned from it, as long as we aren’t setting our expectations too high or not giving it the benefit of the doubt. Also by being open to these new experiences we’re also opening ourselves up to a more enriching lives with every opportunity that comes our way. And allowing it to be anything and everything, as it is. From there, there’s no knowing where it will lead or what will come next. You may find new ways to spend your time or find out something you might have thought wasn’t for you actually is. Just give it a chance to surprise you. No matter what we are currently experiencing or doing there is something to be learned from it if we are open to it, so why not embrace that as well and throw fun in their just for fun’s sake! An especially valid point for really new experiences.
I’ll admit looking back, I didn’t always believe this to be true. A younger version of me would have shyed away from such activities simply because they sounded too new to me. Immediately, my mind would fill with doubt as I pictured the worst case scenario happening to each outside my comfort zone. I would also set expectations too high and be
victim to disappointment or disappointing myself if it didn’t turn out just so. What I now realize is by closing myself off to these opportunities I wasn’t allowing the opportunity to be fun and enjoyable. By being open to more experiences now-a-days that have surprised me and where I’ve had a blast, really been able to be present in that moment, felt pride for at least trying and most importantly HAD FUN!
Here are just a few: baking then cooking, doing crafts, travelling- that was a big one, but highly rewarding, drumming and dancing. At one point, or other they all seemed foreign and undoable to me now the more I try them or in different ways the more open I am to try them again!
To sum up- here is my simpler list of ways to set FUN as the expectation:
- Sometimes we have to be gentler on ourselves for not quite getting the moves right, or getting anything right the first time. Ask yourself: “Am I having Fun?” and if the answer is “Yes!” then you’re doing great!
- Putting expectations on it to go perfectly or for us to be perfect at it. Is too much to ask, and will only get us stuck in our heads and out of being present in the moment. You can’t expect to be perfect at something you’ve never tried folks! So, why set yourselves up for failure or disappointment?
- Also it’s impossible to go into any new situation positively when doubt and pessism cloud your thoughts. What that means is we’re closing off the experience to be what it is by already picturing what it won’t be or putting negative energy towards its’ outcome. Try going in open-minded, and embracing it for however it turns out!
- And finally…be proud of yourself for taking that first step and going through with it! Sometimes, it’s as simple as saying “Heck! Yes!” even if you aren’t entirely sure what it will entail. Savour the experience and how you feel by being open, positive, having fun and feeling pride just for trying it out!
When I started setting these expectations for myself then it was definitely easier for me to say “Yes” to more new experiences, enjoy them more and have fun!
Images: Courtesy of Google