Skip to main content

A view of the inside of my head--careful, I'm remodeling!

For anyone who's been reading on my Facebook status updates of late, I've been dropping a lot of little hints and vague references to what has been going on in my head lately, but I have left out a great deal of detail, both due to time constraints and, frankly, due to doubting anyone would be interested. Based on comments and conversations I've been having with friends and family, I've come to the conclusion that I may have been mistaken. In light of this, I've decided to share the practices that I recently chose to add to my life, with the intention of bettering myself.
To begin, I will qualify the phrase "bettering myself." I think we all have some idea of who we are, how we perceive ourselves, and how we are perceived by others. I have struggled for a number of years now with a major conflict between who I wanted to be, and who I feel I am. When I was younger, I think around second grade, I took one sort of IQ test or another, and while the number is long lost to me, my dad has always told me it was a high one. Understandably, Mom and Dad were both stymied when I consistently got middling-to-poor grades in school, and those were the result of a lack of application. In short, I was smart, I just never did the homework, because I'd rather be off drifting in my own head somewhere. This continued through high school, and until I gave up on college around six years ago, and my GPA was abysmal at both.
This is merely one example, but my overall point is that I came to the conclusion that there are several areas of my life in which I had chosen not only not to succeed, but not to try at all. In the same vein, I am also exceedingly talented at tearing myself down for what I viewed as my shortcomings, and can very quickly bring all good things grinding to a halt while I spend days, weeks, or months berating myself for not being good enough. In recent months, this became particularly prevalent in my way of life, and has had an effect on my work performance, the condition of my home (including the basement floor that I have still not finished) and my relationships with friends, family, and husband.
And then I realized, it had to stop. Even ignoring (for a moment) the effect it was having on my relationships with those around me, by continuing to indulge this behavior and attitude, I was ultimately doing more damage to myself than anyone else. Not to say that the damage to my relationships with others is not important--on the contrary, repairing this damage is absolutely a priority for me--but to even begin that, I had to first start with the person causing all of it.
So, to that end, I had to make specific decisions about how to change my own attitude. I've recently been spending a lot of time talking both with my husband, and my friend Bryan about the Law of Attraction. (Pause while you roll your eyes, but I beg you to continue reading.) The concept of the Law of Attraction is, in short, that you create your reality through your thoughts. If, for example, your thought process continually consists of, "I can't do anything right. I am not good enough, smart enough, prosperous enough, healthy enough, patient enough..." and so on, things seem to go wrong a lot, don't they? Now, I could get into the ideas of quantum mechanics and how the Universe reflects what we tell it, but let's talk about this from a psychological perspective.
If I continually tell myself that I screw up everything I try to do--if I am actually convinced that this is an irrefutable truth, and that there is nothing I can do about it--will I actually try very hard? Think about that for a moment. Think about people who spend all of their time complaining about everything that is wrong with their life. They never talk about anything good happening--even if you see certain things going right for them, they just don't seem to think it matters. Wouldn't you say that is a way of the Universe reflecting their thoughts back upon them?
So, suppose this same person focused on all of the good things in their life, instead. Let's take it from a middling-to-slightly-more-positive perspective. "My bills may be a little high, and my job may not be exactly what I pictured myself doing as a kid, but I have a job, a house, a car, a husband, food on the table, a little money in the bank, and a vacation planned in a few months." Sure, things may not be perfect, but look at what you have! Okay, so you have a car payment--because you have a car and can use it to get from place to place. It's a matter of perspective. So, step 1 is to appreciate the good things in your life. You have them, we all do, so look around and know what they are. Be thankful you have them.
Step 2 is dependent upon Step 1, for to do this, you must first truly appreciate the things around you. When something less-than-pleasant happens, take a moment and think about all of the good things happening in your life. So maybe that egg didn't crack perfectly when you put it in the frying pan, and a little shell got in--Egg down! Egg down! But you have the frying pan, and you have more eggs. You have the kitchen in which you're cooking the eggs. You're not going to go hungry because of one piece of eggshell. (And a mega-honking piece of eggshell it was... I may as well have just put the whole damn thing in a blender...) Step 2 can be summed up as, "Unpleasant things are not roadblocks--just speed bumps." If you keep the positive attitude going, eventually they're more just the cracks in the pavement. You feel them as you pass over them, but they don't mess up the ride.

So, this is Part 1 of what I have been doing--changing my perspective. I've swapped "Life sucks and then you die" for "Every day is a gift." I'm not 100% there yet, and I'll freely admit it, but I am light-years away from where I was even three or four weeks ago. Now, some of my friends have said, in answer to all of this, "Yeah, but where did you get the motivation to keep this going? Why is it so easy for you, because it's not easy for me to do that!"


Problem 1: You've convinced yourself that this is difficult, perhaps impossible. Because you have convinced yourself that this is difficult or impossible, you will subconsciously and subtly sabotage yourself, and then be frustrated when it isn't working. So, change your mind. Tell yourself (I like the idea of standing in front of the mirror and saying it to my face) in no uncertain terms that this is only as easy or as hard as you make it, and you're choosing to make it easy. The point at which you make the conscious decision that there are no roadblocks--speed bumps, maybe, but NO ROADBLOCKS--then you have begun the life-changing process that follows.
When something shitty happens, do not let it bog you down. Refuse to let it stop you, and say to yourself, "This is only a speed bump. I am not stopping for it." It is that easy to re-program your head, and suddenly you start thinking of things differently. Now, do you catch yourself saying, "Well, but what about this thing, or that thing that happened. Those are definitely roadblocks!" Decide that they are not. Have a vision for where you intend to go. Other people get there, so there are ways. Those other people did not all get to that place by the same road. So, maybe this road isn't the one for you, but there will be others. Commit yourself to finding the way to get to your goals, speed bumps be damned.
No matter what you do, never give up hope that you can do what you want as long as you stop telling yourself all of the reasons you can't, and start looking for all of the reasons that you can. If you're looking for them, you'll find them.

If you're interested in trying this for yourself, I'd like you to take five minutes at the beginning and the end of your day, and sincerely look around at all of the good things in your life, and be thankful. Thank yourself, and thank those around you who contribute to the good in your life. Lately, I've had Jann Arden's song "Good Mother" stuck in my head, and it seems so perfect. Here's a link to a cover done by the incomparable Jay Brannan and available on his album In Living Cover. The first verse particularly sticks in my head as a reminder of the good things in my life.

"I've got money in my pocket,
I like the color of my hair,
I've got a friend who loves me,
Got a house, I've got a car,
and I've got a good mother,
And her voice is what keeps me here,
Feet on ground, heart in hand, facing forward, just be yourself
I've never wanted anything, no I, oh I,
I've never wanted anything so bad...

Cardboard masks of all the people I've been,
Thrown out with all the rusted, tangled, dented, God-damned miseries,
You can say I'm hard to hold,
But if you knew me, you'd know
I've got a good father,
And his strength is what makes me cry,
Feet on ground, heart in hand, facing forward, just be yourself
I've never wanted anything, no I, oh I,
I've never wanted anything so bad...

Feet on ground, heart in hand,
Feet on ground, heart in hand..."
Good Mother by Jann Arden

Popular posts from this blog

It's Not About the Guns

Fifteen years ago, my mom and I had an interesting discussion about the repercussions of being out. I came out the year before, just before graduating high school, and in the intervening time, had come out to my brother, my grandparents, my co-workers, my friends. Mom and I had danced around the topic a lot, but after my initial coming-out conversations with her, we'd essentially swept it under the rug. When things finally came to a head, I asked her why. Why, of all people, could I not talk to her about this topic?

"Because there are mean people in this world. There are people who will want to hurt you because of who you are, and who you love, and that scares me."

I took a minute to digest this information. "You work at a bank. If someone robs that bank tomorrow, and decides you're not moving fast enough for them, they could shoot and kill you, and it wouldn't matter to them that you are married, or that you have two sons at home. I could be afraid of what …

Waiting by the Door

Trigger warning: bipolar disorder, mania, depression, self-harm
“I’m tired of feeling sad.” He says it as you are both eating breakfast, his expression drained of life. It has been three days of this, and you know, despite what you may be hoping, that it is far from over. It started a couple weeks ago, not with sadness, but what a psychologist calls, “hypomania.”

Talking about Fitness

I am five feet, eight inches tall, and I weigh about 167 pounds. I have a gym membership which I have used a total of once in the past six months, and I don't eat particularly well, nor particularly consistently. I drink fairly regularly, and in December I even started smoking cigarettes (I know, I know). All things considered, I am in pretty good shape, for a 30-year-old man who does nothing to take care of his body. The funny thing is, any time I start to talk about changing my habits for the better, I almost universally get the same responses. "Ugh. Like you need to lose any weight." "Oh, you look fine. What are you worried about?" "You know, if you start working out, you're not necessarily going to weigh less, because muscle weighs more than fat."

Okay, guys. It seems there are a few things I need to explain about my mentality here.