l am already thinking about 2018, not because it's Friday or because it's December 1. I don't know about you, but I have had some pretty unusual and uncomfortable experiences this year that have taken me out of my comfort zone, enough so that I have to some degree been affected emotionally and keep thinking about the impact. I think often how "2017 has not been a good year for me personally", but what does this really mean? Is it the truth?
Normally when I hear people this time of year say, "This year has sucked. I can't wait for next year.", I laugh and think "Why will next year be any different? It's just a freakin' calendar!" BUT, I understand. We do have better years than others, just like some days are better than others. We tend to remember the bad more than the good. It's human nature. The feelings connected to certain events and situations are what we hang on to that cause us to think we've had a bad year. It's not the actual events. We tend to expect life to be what we know, our "story" and when this does not happen, we can't make sense out of the situation or out of the world.
Here's why we can say and feel, "this year has sucked."
It's all about separating the experiences from the emotions attached to those experiences. It's about taking a step out of our negative experiences this year and looking at them from a distance. It's about mental perspective. It's the lens through which we see our days and nights. It's how we have reacted to, responded to, and handled situations. It's how we've managed our ups and our downs. It's how much power we have given the things that have happened to us to reign OVER us. It is how we manage our feelings and thoughts about things, people, and choices. It's our "surface story" (what we really want life to be like") versus our "shadow story" (the REAL reason, the real underneath beliefs, the real silent assumptions) that form how we see our lives and how we attach meaning to our lives.
I know this sounds too psychology-ish, but it's simple why we can say "2017 has sucked." It has sucked because this is the story we have created that fits our internal model of how the world should be. All stories have to have a beginning, middle and an end with a plot thrown in. The plot of your story is created by what you believe is truth, what you assume and what you value, all of which are unknowingly held in our subconscious. We don't regularly access these. Most of us do not even know what we truly value, what our core belief systems are, or what our hidden assumptions about life are?
Here is a short-cut to figure these things out and once you do you will see how you view every life experience, event, and situation based on your underlying beliefs and assumptions: Your mind forms mental patterns and fits incidents and events into your plot- the way you see the world. The plot defines you and orients you into the present and shapes meaning of current life and reality.
This way of viewing 2017 ('sucks") fits in perfectly with the belief system that "bad things shouldn't happen to good people who work hard and do good things."
Listen, we view our daily, weekly and yearly life in terms of how and what we believe and these beliefs determine how we see, register, and process the world around us. Our way is 100% correct (sadly) because "our way" of defining what happens in our lives is determined by what we've been taught, told, mentored, associated with, what we value, what we assume, and our attitudes. After all, this "way", this story, has been programmed into our brains as have the emotions attached to the stories.
I've been sad this year, angry this year, publically humiliated this year; frustrated; disappointed, defeated, and the list goes on..."bad" things have happened. New experiences have happened that I have given the label "bad".
But why does this make me feel that 2017 has been ugly? The answer? Because my mind believes that all of these negative things aren't supposed to happen when you are a good person. I'm not supposed to experience these things because I have been a good girl. This is the pair of glasses through which I see life and live life. All of my current experiences, feelings, senses of accomplishments and failures, disappointments are all molded by this particular shadow and subconscious story of which I am the author. "I have not enjoyed 2017" is my way of saying bad things shouldn't happen to good people who work hard, give hard, and see good in others". It is my reality, my truth, my inevitable and it's how I see the world.
"Your life is the self-statement, the mirror, of what exists inside you." (D. Krueger, New Life Story, 2013)
I know my 2017 didn't suck. Okay? Sucks means really bad things according to my internal compass of how the world should work. "Sucks" means diseased, homeless, and hopeless. Just because I experienced some very unusual events this year does not mean I will allow them to mold to my existence and become a story with it's own reality that isn't true. My 2017 didn't really suck. Yes, it was not fun at times. There were sleepless nights. There was worry, but I am able to separate fact from emotion here. I can create a new story out of bad experiences. I don't have to let this theme of "2017 sucked" become a truth in all of my future stories or underline how I register future discomforts.
So as you reflect and unwind the events of your 2017, what story will you tell? Will your current reality be based on core beliefs and assumptions about the world or will it be what it truly is, a day in the life of ___(insert name)? Will you own your story or have it happen to you? Will your story (which holds underlying emotional themes and assumptions) take over and hold you hostage from growth, change, and personal development because you see your story as truth? Do not let experiences and situations validate your faulty beliefs and themes about how life should be. Please do not let uncomfortable moments (sadness, losses, negativities) define your upcoming year and be your self-statement.
Bring on 2018!
When in an anxious state, our minds are chaotic. We negative think, we self-doubt, we jump from one thought to another, and we believe every word that is "spoken". Anxiety plays the role of a second brain. It has a mind of its own - one that is deceiving, behaving like the enemy.
The most effective way to get out of the anxious mind chatter is to self-talk and convince your brain that you are none of the things that your mind is telling you you are, like "I'm not important." Or, "no one will like me if I go to that new group." None of these statements swirling in your mind are backed by facts, but, your brain needs you believe this because training it to believe the TRUTH is hard work. The brain is lazy and likes to operate on autopilot. It doesn't like to form new neuronal paths and new cellular activity if it can use the path of least resistance.
Teaching your brain to work to your advantage both cognitively and behaviorally takes practice and consistency. Self-talking yourself out of an anxious moment or even a panic attack is almost like an exhausting workout. To be successful in lifting that new stack of weights, you tell yourself to stay calm, keep at it, and it's okay if it doesn't happen this time. Once the mind chatter starts and the anxiety is in full swing, it becomes our job to manage the anxiety - to control it with true statements that counter the false ones; to steadfastly repeat supportive (not defeating) thoughts; and to believe that you are in control of your mind and the tricks it is playing on your at the moment.
This Anxiety Prayer is a simply mind calming reminder that your worries may have a mind of their own, but that they are temporary and will pass in time. Remembering the lines of this prayer will help you find calm in the midst of anxious moments. Telling yourself that the worries are not a part of your reality and believing this is key to how well you manage your anxiety.
I had this article published this month - Oct. 2017 - in Tidewater Women. Enjoy the read on how to give yourself permission to enter the zero time zone.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.