I learned to motivate myself by being hard on myself. You are a loser, so you’d better shape up. You’re fat… better exercise and eat right. Nobody likes you, you’d better learn to be nice. Being mean to myself doesn’t motivate me. Yes, it might cause me to get started with some action, but the shame and regret that is produced by the constant criticism eventually sends me right back to depression, compulsive behavior or addiction. None of these conditions provide the foundation for success.
My morning meditation teacher encouraged me to focus on one positive thing about myself. I focused on my ability to be flexible and to adapt to my ever-changing external environment. It is a trait that I developed as a child, and I’m quite good at it.
My approach has changed over the years. As a youngster and a young adult, I was a chameleon and changed to fit the circumstance. That tended to cause me a lot of anxiety even though it was great for survival. But I lost myself. As I’ve gotten healthier, I’ve learned that a chameleon doesn’t change its insides. It only changes its spots. I can stay solid in my own being and be true to myself but change my response to external stimuli.
Small changes in perspective create the biggest change for me. Perhaps it’s just focusing on one thing that is positive to lift my mood. Or maybe I change the one thing I have control over. Sometimes I shift my focus from what is happening and its painful consequences to the learning I’m gaining from the event. When I’m tired and exhausted and anxious, I can’t make big changes. Those things happen when I’m in a place of strength. Getting to that sweet spot is often a process.
Have a great weekend, y’all!
What is one positive thing about yourself – or your world or your work – that you can focus on today? How do you shift your perspective so change is more manageable?