I’m A Quitter And A Failure!

“Quitting is not giving up, it’s choosing to focus your attention on something more important. Quitting is not losing confidence, it’s realizing that there are more valuable ways you can spend your time. Quitting is not making excuses, it’s learning to be more productive, efficient and effective instead. Quitting is letting go of things (or people) that are sucking the life out of you so you can do more things that will bring you strength.”
Osayi Osar-Emokpae, Impossible Is Stupid

Preface: After I wrote the first draft of this post I received a rejection letter from a popular blog site saying my submissions were too divisive. The rejection was and is painful and I remembered how hard it is to move through those painful emotions.

What is rejection?

When people come to me “scared of rejection” I try to understand exactly what that means. For example, people are often scared to ask someone to spend time together or to ask for a raise. What if they say no? What if I get rejected. The only real choice you have on those moments is to pack up your feelings and move along.

I think we spend too much time trying to be something we’re not to fit something that doesn’t fit. This goes for relationships with partners and friends. This goes for employment or education. If it doesn’t fit, it doesn’t fit, and it’s okay to move on and try something else. Go on ahead and change course!

When I was in my mid-twenties, I was certain that I wanted to be a professor and researcher. I tried to shove myself into that lifestyle for three long and painful years. In many ways, the universe tried to tell me it wasn’t a good fit. I started losing hair. I drank a lot of box wine (I get heartburn thinking of it). I got accused of things I did not do. But, I pushed ahead.

Then, I experienced a significant life trauma (while doing an internship with dying cancer patients) and I finally got the message. I was trying to be someone I was not. Although I could do research, I didn’t like doing research. In fact, I hated it. I hated it very much. The culture was not a good fit for me. The writing was not my style. The world was not my world. My body was literally rejecting the entire situation.

I realized that it wasn’t me and it wasn’t them (it was kind of them but that’s a different story). It was more that it was not a good fit for me. I was a round peg and they were a square hole. It was never going to work and I needed to stop wasting my life trying to be someone I wasn’t. So, I let go (or quit or failed or whatever).

It was the best decision ever. I stopped trying to be someone I was not and got about the business of being someone I wanted to be. I started paying closer attention the messages in my environment. Now, I work an incredible job filled with wonderful people. I share time with friends and family that support me, appreciate me, and want to be with me.

Although, some may say I failed or quit, I don’t tell my story that way. Instead, I chose a healthier path that was a better fit. And, I am so much happier for having done this. What I learned was: Let it go! If it doesn’t serve your life – let it go. People, jobs, cars, houses, cities, any of it. Let it go. Be willing to let go of things and circumstances that are not healthy or no longer serve your life.

Let go of the idea of rejection. If someone doesn’t want to spend time with you – fine, let them go. Don’t waste your time trying to be with someone that doesn’t want you just the way you are. If you don’t get the job you want – fine, let it go. Find a job where they appreciate how incredible you are. It’s not rejection it’s a message that you are going the wrong way! 

I think the only reason I was accepted into research hell was to meet my husband. I should have grabbed him the moment I met him and ran the other way. Anyway, you live and you learn.

“Some people believe holding on and hanging in there are signs of great strength. However, there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go and then do it.”
Ann Landers

Love.

 

 

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Please, Stop Telling That Tired Old Story.

“We accept the love we think we deserve.” 

Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

“I’ll never be happy”

“No one will ever love me”

“I’m too broken or messed up to be lovable”

“I can’t do that”

“I’ll never get that job/promotion”

“I’m not smart enough”

You’re right. If you keep believing these things you will make them true. This is not so much about the Law of Attraction (aka, The Secret) as much as it is about self-fulfilling prophecy.

We all have scripts written out that exist in our minds related to what is possible and what is not possible for our lives. Whether we know it or not, we operate according to these scripts. For many of us, these scripts were written when we were very young and often written by other people. Maybe we watched our parents trudge through life resentful of their positions. Maybe we were told by someone(s) that we were not good enough. Maybe a teacher told you that you were not smart enough. We know the human mind is attracted to negative messages more than positive ones. And, once the message is in our mind it is locked in tight.

The trick is to first see the script you are working from. Why do you believe you can’t find love? Because you made mistakes? Because you don’t look like a supermodel? Because you don’t make six figures? Those are all ridiculous excuses that have nothing to do with whether or not you deserve happiness. (clue: if you disagree with me you are probably holding on to a script for dear life). All humans are flawed and make mistakes and yet we are still deserving of love and compassion.

Some people are even willing to say what they are really afraid of: Because I don’t want to get hurt. Well, if you are living person you are going to get hurt – that is absolutely inevitable. How would you prefer to get hurt? Living a life you choose or working from a tired old script filled with “you can’t phrases” because that hurts too.

We often act in ways that elicit a response from others that reinforces our script. What do I mean by this?

Example script: I am never going to find love.

What happens next:

  1. You never even try to get into a relationship
  2. You choose a partner that treats you poorly and stay in that relationship
  3. You get into a relationship and convince the person they are an idiot for being with you (you’re too good for me, you’re cheating on me, you don’t love me)
  4. You get into a relationship and push the person away or keep them at a distance (resist vulnerability, act dishonestly)
  5. You get into a relationship and treat the person poorly (abusive, mean, cruel, defensive, jealous, cheat)

Then, the relationship ends and “See! I was right, I am unlovable!” And, I’m not shocked your script played out just as you anticipated.

I could run through the same scenarios related to employment, opportunities, education and happiness. Sometimes in therapy we refer to this process as “begging for your own misery.” As an adult, you are now able to rewrite your script. Yes, the old scripts will linger around and you’ll still hear them and feel the need to follow them. This gets easier and the noise from the old scripts will quiet down. They may never go away but you don’t have to follow them anymore.

What is the biggest difference between people who are happy with their lives and people who are unhappy with their lives? The people that are happy in their lives operate from a script that involves happier stories. It is not that their lives are easier, it is that their perceptions of their lives are different. This was highlighted in the post That Was A Hell of A Day. Be careful very about what you tell yourself about your life and possibilities because it will most certainly come true.

“This led me to a study of expectancy theory and self-fulfilling prophecies or the “Pygmalion effect,” and to a realization of how deeply imbedded our perceptions are. It taught me that we must look at the lens through which we see the world, as well as at the world we see, and that the lens itself shapes how we interpret the world.” – Stephen R. Covey

This Poem Is Stalking Me.

If it is possible for a piece of art to stalk you, this poem would be an example of that for me. This poem finds me on a regular basis.

It repeatedly shows up in blogs or articles I read, books I read (Wild), people literally bring it to me in hard copy (this happened today), it is presented on all forms of social media on a consistent basis. Don’t get me wrong, I love poetry and I love Mary Oliver. I also love Pablo Neruda, Maya Angelou, e.e. cummings, and you get it what I’m saying. But, I never see Alone by Maya Angelou (my favorite poem of all time).

WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO TELL ME MARY OLIVER!?!

A Summer Day

Who made the world?

Who made the swan, and the black bear?

Who made the grasshopper?

This grasshopper, I mean-

the one who has flung herself out of the grass,

the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,

who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-

who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.

Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.

Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.

I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.

I do know how to pay attention,

how to fall down into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,

how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,

which is what I have been doing all day.

Tell me, what else should I have done?

Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?

—Mary Oliver

Are You Interested In How I Lose Time?

“Few things are sadder than encountering a person who knows exactly what he should do, yet cannot muster enough energy to do it.”
― Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

The concept of flow comes most recently from Hungarian psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (here is how you pronounce his name). Although he is credited with giving the term a scientific title, various religions have recognized the concept of flow for thousands of years.

Flow is a state of complete and entire focus on a task. The engagement in the task is so intense that a person may even lose their sense of self. It sounds like magic, and maybe it is magical, but beyond the hocus pocus we know it is incredibly beneficial to the human condition.

Csikszentmihalyi found that when a person regularly engages in states of flow they are likely to have more moments of happiness, higher sense of self worth, a personal sense of value, increased quality of life, improved social engagement. 

To engage in flow means to engage in a task simply because doing the task is reward enough. I believe I can attest to this experience. When I am struck with a writing idea, I can lose myself entirely in the project for extended periods of time. Once the idea passes through me, I feel better than ever. Recently, I was working on a writing project for hours and when I realized I had to move on to other things I was desperate for more time.

“May what I do flow from me like a river, no forcing and no holding back, the way it is with children.”
Rainer Maria Rilke

In some ways flow resembles mindfulness in that it requires a person to pay complete attention to a specific activity. This concept runs counter to the idea of multitasking (which is impossible for the mind to do well, if at all).

The biggest barrier to finding one’s flow is fatigue.

Many of us engage in tasks that we do not enjoy (even dislike) throughout the day. This leaves little energy and time for a person to enter a state of flow. The challenge is to find a few moments in your day where you apply focused attention and enter a state of flow.

Being in a state of flow requires the following components:

  1. Focusing only on the present moment.
  2. Focusing directly on a task and getting lost in the task.
  3. Letting go of noticing what is happening around you. This is where you can lose your sense of self.
  4. A feeling of control related to the task.
  5. Ignoring time while focusing on the task.
  6. Doing because just doing the task is rewarding. There is no anticipated outcome or reward for doing the task.

(Nakamura, J.; Csikszentmihalyi, M. 20 December 2001)

I think I can sense when I am listening to someone engaged flow. In the last month, I saw Gloria Steinem speak about social justice, I listened to a podcast with Lorne Micheals discussing his career at Saturday Night Live, and I heard Elizabeth Gilbert talk about creativity. Each person talked passionately and with focus about their experiences in their respective fields.

I know I find my flow in writing but I am curious as to where you find your flow. What do you love to do so much that you are able to lose time engaging in that task? What task are you so in love with doing that just doing is reward enough? What do you look forward to doing?

Love.

“Contrary to what we usually believe, moments like these, the best moments in our lives, are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times—although such experiences can also be enjoyable, if we have worked hard to attain them. The best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile. Optimal experience is thus something that we
make happen. For a child, it could be placing with trembling fingers the last blockon a tower she has built, higher than any she has built so far; for a swimmer, it could be trying to beat his own record; for a violinist, mastering an intricate musical passage. For each person there are thousands of opportunities, challenges to expand ourselves.”
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience

Congratulations! You Made It!

“It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.” ~ Lewis Carroll, Alice In Wonderland.

“I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” – Maya Angelou

Dear You,

I am so proud of you.

You made it to today. This means that you have made it through the days and moments that felt impossible. This means you have survived the moments that felt unsurvivable. I must say, you look pretty fantastic given the road trip so far. You should smile and nod in pride at how much you’ve done and what you’ve accomplished given the challenges you’ve faced.

Please take a moment today and consider all the worried thoughts you had that did not come true. Hopefully, it seems almost funny or crazy now that you thought those things would happen. I hope it helps you to see how little worrying does for your life.

I hope you take a moment today to consider all the challenges you’ve faced and how you made it through those challenges. I want you to consider those darkest and scariest moments. I want you to thank yourself for the courage you demonstrated in those dark times. I am so glad you stayed the course and kept going. We need you here.

I hope you take a moment today and consider all the things you’ve learned about yourself and about this life. I hope you acknowledge your accomplishments and strengths. I hope you believe in yourself a little more now because of what you learned.

I hope you take a moment today and consider what you want for your life. I hope this involves a lot of love and connection. I hope you know that you are worthy of love just the way you are right now. I hope you believe me. I hope you consider supporting other people who may be struggling and remind them that they are lovable, too.

If you are struggling right now, I encourage you to reflect back on your life and consider challenges you’ve experienced in the past. I hope reflecting on the courage you had in those moments will remind you of the courage you have inside of you now. I hope you draw on that courage and use it to face your current challenge.

Finally, thank you. Thank you for being you, just the way you are. Perfectly, imperfect. Learning as you go, like the rest of us.

Love,

Me

“If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together… there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart… I’ll always be with you.”
A.A. Milne

Are You Hooking Up With Taco Bell?

“In nature we never see anything isolated, but everything in connection with something else which is before it, beside it, under it and over it.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 

Social connections are not an option. I think we established this concept in the Make Friends or Die Early post but I want to drive the point home today. Not everyone needs a lot of social connections, but most people need at least a few.

Please take a moment and consider the success of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, WordPress, and if I was a tween, I could probably list many more successful social media sites. You see, they are successful because the premise is connection. 

When we treat social connections like an option we become starved for connection and we lower our standards . It is kind of like when you don’t eat all day and you are starving on your way home. Then you see a Taco Bell and you know it is going to make you feel like garbage but you don’t care because you’re starving. So, you pull off and grab a bag of cheese and “meat” and stuff it down your throat. Initially, you feel full but then you feel like garbage.

This is what happens when you starve yourself of social connections.

You will allow yourself to connect with someone(s) that is not healthy because you’re starving. Initially, it might feel good to be connected but if you give it some time you notice that you feel like garbage.

It is that feeling you get when you hook up with someone that you know you don’t really like. Or, the feeling you get when you spend time with a friend that likes to tell you that you look great for your age or asks you if “you’re really going to eat that?”

If you are already in a committed relationship and you notice that you are tempted to hit up Taco Bell on the way home. Maybe first try and let your partner know that you need more of their time and that you are feeling disconnected.

The solution? Don’t wait until you’re starving for social connections to make an effort to establish relationships. Grocery shop regularly, so to speak. Maintain healthy social connections and keep them going. Try and meet people before you feel like you’re starving for connection (meaning you’re thinking about calling that person that always makes you feel bad). Put yourself out there and get curious and ask questions about the people in your world. Use the connections you already have to make more.

Make sure to keep those expectations high in your relationships because you deserve to be treated well.

I can hear you saying “It’s not that easy” and you’re right. A good meal tastes and feels a lot better than a queso mess of meat, but it also costs a little more.

Either way, you have to eat. 

Give Maddie a reason to talk and she could go on for hours. ;):

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