فصل 04

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فصل 04

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Chapter 4

“I got this.”

“Everyone has their problems, and life isn’t always perfect. It never will be.”

Ugh.

There comes a time in all of our lives when we’re feeling a little down, a little defeated. When it seems like nothing is going our way. It’s not like we’ve completely given up (although sometimes we have), but at the same time, the struggle is very real.

You could be facing a massive problem: You got laid off, your spouse filed for divorce, you wrecked your car or maybe all three at the same time. So much for that lucky charm huh?

Or it could be something less serious: You lost your favorite shirt. Your glasses broke. Your dog used your mail for a toy. You didn’t get much sleep last night. You burned dinner.

The thing is, the negative experiences we have rarely stay contained to that one issue. They spread. Like a toxic chemical, they seep into all aspects of our lives.

If you’re having financial trouble, you’ll either consciously or subconsciously stress about it at dinner, which means you don’t enjoy our meal. You start feeling on edge around family. You feel resentful toward your spouse and distant from your children. You’re annoyed when your dog barks or when your neighbors make too much noise. Little things like traffic and long lines begin prompting your frustration.

It’s like our whole life is tainted, as our smaller problems leak into the bigger picture. Like a coffee spill on your desk, small problems quickly spread and create bigger ones as the brown liquid relentlessly heads for your laptop, phone and stack of bills while you hopelessly pad at the random chaos with your napkin in some forlorn attempt at denying the disaster, it even creates a bigger mess.

That little mess can influence all areas of your life until your emotions surrounding that one area become the lens through which you see everything.

You end up thinking…

“Life is too hard”

“I’ll never make it through this”

“Everyone’s a jerk”

“I’m done with this s”

None of these sentiments reflect reality, (no matter what you might currently think), but rather your perception of your reality. Unfortunately, knowing this makes no difference whatsoever when you’re stuck right bang in the middle of it all. And, of course, all of this only makes things somehow even worse. A negative experience of myself and/or my life doesn’t help me overcome what I’m dealing with, let alone enjoy my life.

To deal with this, we need to shift how we view our problems and the world and adopt a new, powerfully optimistic and grounded approach.

That’s why my next personal assertion is, “I got this”.

PUTTING PROBLEMS IN PERSPECTIVE

“If all our misfortunes were laid in one common heap whence everyone must take an equal portion, most people would be content to take their own and depart”

Socrates

Everyone has their problems, and life isn’t always perfect. It never will be. It wasn’t 2,400 years ago, when Socrates was around, and it certainly isn’t today.

But if we’re being brutally honest with ourselves, we’ll realize that our own problems are pretty insignificant compared to the rest of the world’s. Really. Think about it.

If you’re reading this, chances are your life isn’t as hard as a child in Somalia or an Untouchable in India. Chances are your problems are pretty small in comparison to the ones people had when Socrates was born in 470 BC, before modern medicine or electricity or cars or laws to protect public safety existed.

You don’t even have to travel across the globe or back in time for a comparison either. Travel to the other side of your town or look around your office or neighborhood, and you’re almost guaranteed to find plenty of people with worse problems than yours. You might not see it but it’s the same for all of us. We only see the highlight reels of others’ lives while being continually reminded of our own behind the scenes.

If you’re rolling your eyes and wondering “how does any of that help me solve my problems?” I’ll tell you: it doesn’t. None of this will change the tire on your car for you or deposit another thousand dollars into your bank account.

Now, just for a moment of your significant existence, stop picking fluff out of your belly button and look around you. Get connected to your reality, your real life instead of your emotionally soaked self-talk narrative about your life.

What this will do is help you put things in some kind of reality-based perspective. This will serve to help you face life and all of its problems with a powerful attitude, to starve the creeping specter of negativity that can and does catch us in its grip. If everyone around you is dealing with their issues—even those that are worse than yours—then you certainly can.

But I get it. Even as I say all of this, we both know that when disaster strikes, it’s challenging to stay levelheaded. Our problems are still real, they still hurt, and they can still result in our emotions getting the better of us.

When you start having those crappy feelings, take a step back. Way back. No, back further than that, MUCH further than that. Keep going… see if you can picture your life for what it really is.

You have to start here with your imagination.

Firstly, I advise my clients to start by looking at their entire life. Imagine it in front of you like a railroad track, running to the left and right as far as the eye can see.

Of course, the tracks aren’t just sitting in the middle of a void. They cut through countryside and cities, under tunnels and over bridges, across stretches of ocean, around towering mountains and plunging canyons. Picture the magnitude and magical variety of the surroundings.

Now look waaaay down those tracks to the left. This is your past. This is where you came from, the ground you’ve already covered in your journey through life.

Follow the tracks down and far into the distance. As you walk, you’ll see your entire life—everything that’s ever happened to you—expanding in front of you.

Take the time to think about the most memorable experiences from your life.

Perhaps you recall walking down the aisle with the love of your life. Maybe it’s the birth of your first child and the feeling of holding them in your arms. Would you trade that for anything?

Go back to that family vacation you took in the Caribbean, spending a few days in paradise.

How about when you closed on your first house? Or when you landed that job you wanted? Whatever your past, savor the memory of each wonderful experience.

Depending on where you are today, you’ve got dozens or hundreds of great experiences to look back on. Graduations, promotions, awards, parties, and relationships. Even the little things like childhood memories that cradle and comfort you, or those memorable tastes, sights and sounds that embrace you in their familiarity and inspire feelings of warmth and joy. Open up and allow yourself the good grace of those times.

But don’t just limit it to the sugary goodness either. Think about the bad, too.

Recall all the times where you struggled, suffered setbacks, or got knocked down. The arguments, the breakups, the speeding tickets, or the late bills.

Do you remember that time when your parents caught you sneaking out and grounded you? If you experienced a tough childhood, let all of that in here. How about the time you forgot to pay your electricity bill and you had to spend the night reading by candlelight?

Or when you got surgery and had to spend days lying in a hospital bed? Or when you broke up with someone and felt depressed for weeks? Let all of it in, from the most tragic and traumatic to the merely irritating, annoying or regretful.

Remember all the problems you faced – and eventually overcame. A lot of them may be very similar to what you’re dealing with today.

You probably felt a lot of the same emotions back then, too. You thought you’d never get over your ex, that you’d never find a better job, or that you wouldn’t live through the humiliation of some situation.

But you did. You raised up and kicked on and, looking back, some of those problems might even seem a little silly now.

Can you believe how upset you were when you got a D on your math test in high school? Or how bad you felt when you never got a second date with that girl or guy you liked?

Even the more serious problems probably seem a lot different today. After all, you did make it through them, and they ultimately helped shape and form who you are today.

LOOKING TO THE FUTURE

Now that you’ve traveled to the end of the track in one direction, it’s time to turn around and head the other way.

To the right – if you haven’t figured it out – is your future. Here’s where you’ll find the things to come, all of the experiences and events awaiting you in life.

New relationships with people you’ve yet to meet. Places to visit that you’ve never been. Doing the things, you’ve always wanted to try.

You’ll get to experience the spine tingling rush that comes when you first kiss someone you’re really attracted to. Or the connection, satisfaction and peace of growing old with the person you love.

Maybe you’ll have children and watch them grow up, make the honor roll, score touchdowns, and perform in the school play. In no time at all they’ll be introducing you to the love of their life. And then will come trips to the movies or Disney World with your grandkids.

There are reams of untapped potential and opportunity waiting in your future—whether it’s a major life event or a night of laughing with your best friends. The future can have truly great things in store for you.

Of course, it won’t all be puppies and rainbows, but you already know that. There will be trials and tribulations. Disappointments, defeats, fights, and fears. Don’t stop there, keep looking ALL the way to the end, the ultimate end. That’s right, this life will come to a close, your life force will cease to exist on this physical plane, your experience of being you will conclude: think about the day you’re going to die. I know it’s not pleasant, but it’s going to happen, so why not accept it now?

In this life, you’ll sometimes have to do things you don’t want to, with people you don’t like, and in places you don’t care for. People will leave your life as quickly and easily as they come into it. You’ll lose money, things will break, and your dog will die.

But you’ll get through it all, the good and the bad, just like you did in the past. You’ll stand there like the champion you are because they’re all just yet another passing scene in the movie that is your life’s story.

A SEA OF SOMETHINGS

“It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light”

Aristotle

The purpose of this exercise is to get you to start putting things back into perspective. As you examine all the things you’ve experienced and all the things you’ve yet to experience, take a moment to examine what you are currently dealing with today. Everything on your plate at this point in time is just another something in a sea of somethings.

Your boat hasn’t and won’t sink so easily. There may be some waves, you might go through some storms, and you’ll probably end up seasick from time to time, but your journey across that ocean we call life will continue.

But just like a captain facing a major squall, you can’t just let yourself be tossed about. You have to step up and steer your life back in the direction you want it to go. So your journey wasn’t as smooth as you wanted it to be. Does that mean you’re just going to let yourself get blown off course? I didn’t think so. And you definitely shouldn’t let what happens in one area of life affect your outlook on the whole. You just can’t afford to allow your struggles at work make you miserable at home or let your relationship troubles affect your mood at the office.

Face your problems as they come, one by one, give them the attention they need and move on. Bundling them all together into a morass of confusion and letting them overwhelm you just won’t help. It takes precision, patience and discipline of thought. Work through each item pragmatically and with a solution in mind. Remember, everything is solve-able, and if you can’t see a solution, it only means you haven’t worked it out yet.

Often the reason you can’t see the solution is because you’re too close to the problem. Zoom out a little, zoom out a LOT and look at the big picture. This is a similar phenomenon to what psychologists call “cognitive restructuring”—Shifting the way in which your problems are presenting themselves in your life.

Our minds naturally play tricks on us, twisting and distorting our thoughts in ways that are not always rational. Even though we’d like to think we’re always logical, we’re not. We’re at the mercy of cognitive biases, emotions and misconceptions and most of it is completely unseen by us.

Sometimes we’re too close, too involved in it to even realize. It’s up to us to slow down, take a step back, and understand what’s really going on.

“That’s one of the peculiar things about bad moods – we often fool ourselves and create misery by telling ourselves things that simply are not true”

David D. Burns

And if things are still out of focus, take another step back. And another. And another.

Ask yourself “what’s really going on here?” until you experience your problems cleanly, clearly and free of that emotional anchor. Persist until you can see the whole course of your life and realize that your current problems are just another bump in the road.

YOU GOT THIS

When you’ve finally put things into perspective, you’ll come to your assertion: “I got this”. You’ll start to really believe it, experience it and live from it.

You can handle this. It’s not going to kill you. Your life isn’t over. You’ve got plenty more left in the tank. Plenty.

“I got this” doesn’t mean you have the perfect solution. It just means you have your hands on the wheel, you have a say in this just like you’ve had a say all along. I mean come on, you live for this shit!

It’s not always pretty. It’s not always fun but you’ve got this. We’re not just saying this to paper over the cracks or to make yourself feel a little better for a split second. Look at your track record; you’ve really got this! You’ll make it work, just like you always have. You had it then and you got it now.

Get in touch with who you really are and say it.

I got this. I got this. I got this.

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