As I continue down this road of true self improvement I’m realizing a few things. The first is that:
True Self Improvement = actual steps outside my comfort zone and rewiring of my brain and thought patterns.
I can’t just think about making changes, I have to take ACTION. And part of that action is to change the way I react to things – not just my actions and words, but my thoughts as well. I have to shut down the bully in my head that keeps trying to beat me down and only sees the negative in me.
Another thing I am realizing is that sometimes those who you would expect the most support from as you journey down this new road to self-improvement, are the ones that will blindside you and try to drag you back down into your old habits. I don’t know that they necessarily do this intentionally. But the end result for you, if you are not careful, is the same. Therefore, anyone making this journey needs to be watchful.
The beginning of my journey was really about 3 years ago. My grandfather passed away at that time. His health had been failing for awhile and watching him those last few months triggered something in me. It was like someone flipped a light switch inside me and all of a sudden I was seeing my world through different eyes. There were things that in the past had not sat right with me, but I could never quite put my finger on why. Now all of a sudden these things were becoming clear to me. The “Aha” and “Well, duh!” moments started hitting me left and right.
It did not all come at once and there is still a long journey ahead. I actually think this is going to be a journey that lasts until my last breath. However, I do believe some of the biggest mountains are behind me now.
Some of the things that have been part of this journey for me over the past three years include digging into things from my past that have affected the way I see the world. I had to decide that I was not going to be a victim any longer – which meant I needed to figure out how to move past hurts and issues from my past rather than just dwelling on them and feeling sorry for myself. Once I started to truly do that the rest of the things I’ve focused on the past three years have just started to fall into place. That is not to say it has been easy – but I had to make the first decision before the rest could follow.
Some of these things include:
- Talking to a therapist – in the past I had a negative view of seeing someone like this. But what I’ve come to realize is that we are all screwed up in one way or another. We are imperfect people who were raised by imperfect people – this translates to everyone has issues. Sometimes it takes someone on the outside, who is unbiased to help us see things for what they really are. I can’t tell you how many times my therapist will say one thing that is like a spotlight chasing all the shadows away from an issue. Many times after it “clicks” I can’t believe I was never able to see the situation clearly before. But the reality is we all have blinders on and sometimes we need someone to gently remove them for us to see things for what they really are.
- Weight Loss – I’ve lost about 50 lbs since August. I’ve tried to loose weight in the past and was successful at times, but I never made true lifestyle changes that were sustainable for me. I have now found a program that works for me. But more importantly, I have worked through some emotional issues that I truly believe kept me from letting me work through my real issues with food (this is a whole other blog post for the future!). By working through my emotional issues I’ve found the weight loss and healthy lifestyle has followed much easier.
- Changing My Mindset – this is something that has come about because of the therapy I mention above, however it is still worth singling out here. This is the focus of my blog. My learning to change how I see myself and how I think. Me letting go of the need to be perfect and holding myself to unreasonable standards which have crippled my life.
- Pursuing my Dreams – this blog is one way I am following my dreams, but once again it would not be possible without the items I’ve listed above. They all build upon each other and are intertwined.
I’ve kind of digressed here from what I was talking about in the beginning, but trust me, it all is related. I am a picture person, as I’ve mentioned before I see images in my head. I will associate something with an image and it becomes extremely vivid in my mind. This journey manifests itself in my mind as a beautiful country lane. I see beautiful trees on each side and green grass waving in the fragrant breeze. Colorful butterflies are flitting back and forth to the flowers growing in the meadow that can be seen just beyond the trees. And the warm sun filters through the canopy of leaves above to create a beautiful dappled pattern at my feet.
However, there are ditches on each side of this road – filled with mud. I actually love to play in mud, but in this picture the mud represents my old life and my old thought patterns. As I travel down this road, some of my friends and loved ones are joining me at times, walking beside me and encouraging me. However, others are standing in the ditch, reaching out and trying to drag me back down into the mud with them. As I said, I don’t know that they are intentionally trying to sabotage me. A lot of them are just lonely and want some company.
What I am realizing is they are unhappy in their own lives, but for various reasons are not willing to step out of the mud onto the path with me. They can’t step out of their comfort zone and make changes that would allow them to start their own journey. Following my path hits a nerve or threatens them because it just shines a light on how unhappy and unfulfilled they are themselves. So instead of cheering for me and being happy for me, they pull me back down so they don’t have to deal with their own feelings of unhappiness and being uncomfortable.
I have decided to REFUSE to allow that in my life. I won’t let them bring me down or cause me to stray from my path. They may not understand my path or why I am on it, but that is okay – it is not their path to understand. I will stay focused on my path with my eyes on my end goal. I will surround myself with people who really want to see me succeed and become the best, happiest and most fulfilled person I can possibly be. And I will make sure I am a cheerleader for others who are making their own journey.
Make sure you appreciate the true cheerleaders in your life and let them know how very much you appreciate their support. And make sure you do the same for others. Be an encourager, not someone who drags others down.
YOU have to make the Choice to change your outlook and your life – to follow your path. Nobody else can do it for you. However, although we all have our own unique path to travel, we never walk these roads alone. So ask yourself this question, who are your traveling partners and how do you affect each other?