Let’s cut to the chase today. What you ultimately do in life comes out of who you believe you are. You have to practice believing in yourself and ignoring the naysayers. Because while you may not be able to control the impolite and unfair things some people say and do, you can press forward and decide not to be endlessly derailed by them.
Of course, I know that’s all much easier said than done, but you must remind yourself that it can be done!
Start by leveraging the right daily affirmations. After all, it’s not what others say about you, and it’s not what you broadcast to everyone else that determines the trajectory of your life. It’s what you whisper to yourself behind closed doors that has the greatest power and influence.
A good friend of mine, who graduated with honors from Cal Berkley several years ago, is now the co-founder and CEO of a successful start-up in Silicon Valley. Throughout grade school she struggled with reading and writing disabilities. She spent kindergarten all the way through 12th grade in English “special education” classes. During a parent-teacher conference when she was a freshman in high school, two teachers collectively informed her mom that it was highly unlikely she would ever graduate.
So how did she do it? How did she push through and overcome the odds? “Affirmations,” she told me with a serious smile when I interviewed her recently for a side-project I’m working on. “I literally told myself that they were wrong about me. I told myself exactly what I needed to hear, every single day, to move my life forward. It may sound like a cliché to some people, but it’s not. It’s powerful stuff!”
I love her sentiment and I agree with her 100%. In fact, there’s a good reason why training our minds with affirmations works wonders like this. Just like every muscle in the body, the mind needs to be exercised to gain strength. It needs to be worked consistently to grow and develop over time. If you haven’t pushed your mind in hundreds of little positive ways over time, of course it’ll crumble on the one day that things get really challenging.
A mind well trained with affirmations has the right thoughts queued up and ready for retrieval at a moment’s notice. If you’d like to begin (or enhance) this practice in your own life, here’s a selection of calming affirmations I often suggest to our coaching clients and live event attendees as starting point:
- “I cannot control everything that happens; I can only control the way I respond to what happens. In my response is my power.”
- “I will not get caught up in what could’ve been or should’ve been. I will look instead at the power and possibility of what is, right now.”
- “I have to accept whatever comes my way, and the only important thing is that I meet it with the best I have to give.”
- “Making mistakes is always better than faking perfections.” (Read The Gifts of Imperfection.)
- “I will never be as good as everyone tells me when I win, and I will never be as bad as I think when I lose.”
- “I will think less about managing my problems and more about managing my mindset. I will keep it positively focused.”
- “A challenge only becomes an obstacle if I bow to it.”
- “I will get back up, again and again. The faster I recover from setbacks, the faster I’ll get to where I’m going in life.”
- “I will not hide from my fears, because I know they are not there to scare me — they are there to let me know that something is worth it.”
- “There is a big difference between empty fatigue and gratifying exhaustion. Life is too short. I will invest in the activities that move me.”
- “If I don’t have time for what matters, I will stop doing things that don’t.”
- “I cannot build a reputation or legacy for myself based on what I am going to “maybe” do someday.”
- “The future can be different than the present, and I have the power to make it so right now.”
- “Peace will come to me when it comes from me.”
- “Getting ahead is essential, and I will never get ahead if I keep trying to get even.”
- “I will focus on making myself better, not on thinking that I am better.”
- “I will be too busy watering my own grass to notice if yours is greener.”
- “I will eat like I love myself. Move like I love myself. Speak like I love myself. Live like I love myself. Today. (Angel and I discuss this process in more detail in the Self-Love chapter of “1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently”.)
- “My next step in the right direction doesn’t have to be a big one.”
- “All my small victories are worth celebrating; it’s the small things done well that makes a difference in the end.”
And remember that the goal in the days and weeks ahead is to cope effectively — to gradually grow stronger on the inside — so that almost nothing on the outside can affect your inner wellness without your conscious permission…
Affirmations allow for effective coping and growth.
How you cope with unexpected stress and frustration can easily be the difference between living a good life and living an unhealthy one. My friend’s life story that I mentioned earlier is a great example of this. She chose healthy coping through affirmations, and you’d be wise to follow in her footsteps. But if you choose unhealthy coping mechanisms like avoidance or denial instead, you can quickly turn a tough situation into a tragic one. And sadly this is a common mistake many people make.
When you find yourself facing a disheartening reality, your first reaction might be to deny the situation, or to avoid dealing with it altogether. But by doing so you’re inadvertently holding on even tighter to the pain that you wish to let go of — you’re, in effect, sealing it up inside you.
Let’s imagine someone close to you has grown ill, and supporting this person through his or her illness is incredibly painful. You might not want to deal with the pain, so you cope by avoiding it, by finding ways to numb yourself with alcohol and unhealthy eating. And consequently, you grow physically ill too while the pain continues to fester inside you. Obviously that’s not good.
If you notice yourself doing something similar, it’s time to pause, admit to yourself that you’re coping by avoiding, and then shift your focus to a more effective and healthier coping mechanism, like using the affirmations listed above to help calm your mind and open it up.
When you face struggles with a calm attitude of openness — open to the painful feelings and emotions you have — you find out that it’s not comfortable, but you can still be fine and step forward. Openness like this means you don’t instantly decide that you know this is only going to be a horrible experience — it means you admit that you don’t really know what the next step will be like, and you’d like to understand the whole truth of the matter. It’s a calm learning stance, instead of one that frantically assumes the worst.
There are many benefits to effective coping.
Coping certainly isn’t an easy practice, and I’m not suggesting that it is. What I am suggesting is that it’s worth your while. With practice, effective coping allows you to find better ways of managing life’s continuous stream of unexpected and uncontrollable circumstances. For example…
- A task is harder than you expected it to be. — Instead of running from a daunting and overwhelming task, you can accept it and see what it’s like to feel uncomfortable and overwhelmed, and still take action anyway. Writing a book, for example, is daunting and overwhelming, but you can still write one even with those feelings rolling through you (just like Angel and I did with our books).
- An interaction with someone you love angers or frustrates you. — Instead of lashing out at a loved one when you’re upset with them, you can sit quietly with your difficult feelings and just be open to what it’s like to feel them. And then, once you’ve had a moment to breathe, you can see what it’s like to deal compassionately with someone you love who you’re also upset with. To try to understand them instead of just judging them at their worst.
- Unhealthy cravings overwhelm you out of nowhere. — You may be inclined to indulge in unhealthy cravings like alcohol and sweets for comfort when you’re feeling stressed out. But you can sit with these feelings and be open to them instead, and then gradually build positive daily rituals for coping in healthier ways — taking walks, meditating, talking with someone about your feelings, journaling, reviewing the relevant affirmations provided above, etc. (Note: “The Good Morning Journal: Powerful Prompts and Reflections to Start Every Day” is a great tool for the form of journaling mentioned here.)
- You are forced to deal with a loved one’s death. — When someone you love passes away the loss can seem overwhelming. At that point, it’s incredibly easy to succumb to unhealthy ways of alleviating the pain. But you have to practice doing the opposite — to give yourself compassion, to sit with the powerfully difficult thoughts and feelings you have, and to open your mind to what lies ahead. Gradually it becomes evident that death isn’t just an ending, but also a beginning. Because while you have lost someone special, this ending is also a moment of reinvention. Although deeply sad, their passing forces you to reinvent your life, and in this transition is an opportunity to experience beauty in new, unseen ways and places.
And of course, we’ve merely just scratched the surface of a deep pool of possibilities for effective coping. The key thing to understand is that by learning to internally cope more effectively, you are better equipped to handle anything life throws your way. Because in the end, the world is as you are inside — what you think, you see, and you ultimately become.
Now, it’s your turn…
Yes, it’s your turn to calm your mind and cope with life effectively. But before you go, please leave Angel and me a comment below and let us know what you think of this essay. Your feedback is important to us. 🙂
Which one of the affirmations or points above resonated the most today?
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Photo by: Peeratam Tangtua