It’s no secret my life has been rocky over the past few years with domestic violence, homelessness, health issues and being a single parent.
What I have kept secret is that the past few months have been less than ideal. I don’t want to go into full details about all of it but it has rocked me and been a lot to process. I am terrible at asking for help. I like being the strong person in the room, the one who has overcome my obstacles and can help everyone else with whatever they need. Unfortunately, we can’t be that person all the time. Life throws curveballs and recently, it felt like my world was falling apart again but I have an amazing support network and somehow always manage to have the right people come into my life at the right time.
I have learnt so many lessons over the past few years, especially some coping strategies for when life doesn’t go as planned, as well as things to do to get back on track.
1.) Ask for help
I am hopeless at this. I keep everything inside until I am at breaking point. I struggle to ask, yet whenever I do I am inundated with the help I need.
Be clear about what help you need, be open to offers, trust your gut about who is offering the help and why (while most people are genuine, there are some who help because they want something in return) and be someone who helps others where possible.
Reach out to your community and ask for help.
I harp on about this a lot because it makes such a huge difference. With my current circumstances, I have found a few lessons I can be grateful for and the generosity of total strangers and my close family brought me to tears. No matter what the circumstances are, there is always something you can learn/an opportunity you can find or something good that can come from it.
3.) Take care of yourself
Another element I have not always been fantastic at and as a result, I have ended up in the hospital twice because I was paralysed in excruciating pain. And by excruciating, I mean, if you check the pain scale doctors use an 8 is childbirth, at 10 you pass out not because of blood loss but because the pain is so intense. Very few people ever experience this level of pain. I hit a 10 due to pain in my spine, I lost the function of my legs, went numb and battled to get better. I have had a cancer scare, struggled with mental health issues at some points in my life, my weight has gone up and down, the list goes on.
Often, when life is hard, we put ourselves last and everything else becomes harder, we get more stressed and end up taking longer to get back on our feet.
Take care of yourself by:
– Eating healthy. Don’t succumb to take away or junk food. Eat nutritious food and make sure you eat properly.
– Drink enough water. When you are dehydrated your body suffers and your mind can’t think as clearly. Drinking 2L or more a day will have a huge impact on your body and mind.
– Look and feel good. Get showered, get dressed fully, wear nice underwear, do your hair and makeup. These things might seem superficial, but so many people neglect this when they get stressed or depressed. Take care of yourself and how you look, it will give you a boost of confidence.
– Do something you love. Do a dance class, go out to dinner, hang out with friends, continue your hobby, read a book, whatever it is, do something you love!
4.) Pick an affirmation or quote
When I was homeless, robbed, broke and had left my abusive marriage, there were 3 quotes which helped me cope:
“I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.” ~ Carl Jung
“What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” ~ I can’t find the specific source, it was anon for me.
“Luck is where opportunity meets preparation.” ~ Seneca
I often repeated these to myself, especially the first one. My life and how it turns out is up to me. I am what I choose to become, what is happening in my life does not define me.
Find some quotes or affirmations that speak to you.
5.) Boost your confidence
When things aren’t going right, our confidence and sense of self-worth takes a hit. Think about what gives you a confidence boost and do it. If you need some ideas check out 20 ways to increase your confidence.
6.) Be Proactive
What can you do to take control of the situation and improve your life instead of letting your current situation control you? Work out a plan of action then follow through with it. You may need to tweak it as you go along but if you do nothing, things will either get worse or not change at all. Neither of those are good options. You can make the change you need.
What tips would you add?
A compliment I have been getting a lot lately from everywhere, even complete strangers is that I have a very positive energy. I am clearly extremely happy both within myself and with my life in general. Previously I battled with depression and borderline personality disorder throughout large portions of my life the with treatment was cleared of this in 2013. It has not been an easy road to get to the point I am, but I am grateful for every experience along the way as they have shaped me to be who I am today.
Here are 12 things I have done to cultivate happiness in my life and help change my attitude.
1.) Cultivate and attitude of gratitude
I have a gratitude journal where I write at least one thing a day I am grateful for and it has helped change the way I look at things. Instead of focusing on all the negatives of a situation I look for what I could be grateful for, what lesson I could learn etc. Ask yourself what you can be grateful for today then with every negative situation ask what lesson you can learn from it, what opportunities could come and why it could be beneficial.
I tried this on and off for years but couldn’t seem to ‘get it’. Once I tried guided meditation I found it worked for me much better than simply trying to clear my mind. There are so many different ways to meditate, just try different ways until you find what works for you. Mine changes depending on my mood, but I can feel it when I have not been meditating as I am more irritable, decision making is harder and I feel run down.
Get rid of anything you are not using, you don’t need or don’t love. Having a lot of stuff around, clutter on every surface is depressing. It drains you of energy and without realising it your mind is sometimes thinking about the mess you need to clean up or sort out, which distracts you from other tasks. Clear out your home, your car, your workspace and inbox to make room for things that really matter to you and to create an environment where you feel more relaxed and enjoy being.
4.) Get organized
When you’re living in chaos it’s hard to feel happy and have a balanced life. Get a schedule, automate bills and anything else you can, get a budget and stick to it. Don’t go so far as to plan every tiny aspect of your life because you still need spontaneity, but for those every day, mundane things, get a schedule happening. Get a planner or use an app on your phone to put in all appointments and things you need to do. Menu plan then shop accordingly. Streamline the aspects of your life you can so you have more time for fun.
5.) Love and be loved
I have often felt unworthy of love. I have a huge capacity to love others, but often hated myself. I had to change my thinking, realise I am worth it and that I deserve to be loved. Doing this has increased how much love I surround myself with and how much more I can love others, how their opinions no longer affect my mood as severely and my own confidence and belief in myself has soared.
6.) Help others
Volunteering for a cause I am passionate about has made a huge difference to me. I can be having the worst day, but then go in and see all the wonderful people I spend time with and I feel so good again. Thinking about other people, serving other people and treating everyone as equal takes the focus away from things that you might think are wrong in your life and instead makes way for the warm, fuzzy feelings.
7.) Take care of yourself
Make time for yourself, dress nicely and take care of yourself. If you need a break, take one. If you need to do some beauty treatments, do it. If you need a massage, get one. Making your needs a priority and taking care of yourself makes a huge difference to how you feel. Putting yourself last all the time is not a way to project your self worth to the world. It’s a great way to get run down and discouraged though. So instead of putting everyone before yourself, take some time to focus on your needs and look after yourself.
8.) Know who you are
I was pretty lost for years. I went through the motions instead of knowing my core values, who I am and what I am passionate about. I did what others expected of me or wanted me to do. I played the role that I had sort of fallen into and I hated it. It wasn’t me. I wasn’t being true to myself. I decided to take time to focus on who I am, who I want to be, the sort of mother I want to be and how to change myself and my life so I can live true to myself. It was quite a journey and has been well worth the effort and time it took.
9.) Realise your attitude is your choice
I fail at this at times, but that is ok. No one is perfect. How you feel, how you react to situations and what you do is your choice. I am not saying you can’t get angry or sad or upset. But realise it is a choice, no one is making you feel that way. Things will happen that upset us. Express that, let yourself feel the emotions, but don’t dwell on it. You can choose to be overwhelmed by all the negativity or you can choose to learn and grow, take the lesson and be happy.
10.) Release people from your life
If they are not helping you, if they make you feel bad about yourself or trigger negative feelings, if they drain your energy and are not contributing to the sort of life you want, but instead are essentially toxic, get rid of them. Release them from your life. You don’t have to keep anyone in your life you don’t want to be in it. You can change jobs, you can stop hanging out, you can delete people from social media and just because someone is related to you, doesn’t mean they have to be in your life. If you can’t cut someone out of your life completely, work on cutting back the amount of time you spend with that person and how much you think about them.
I used a variety of therapies to help me such as psychology to treat Borderline Personality Disorder, reiki, massage, acupuncture, naturopathy and a range of other therapies and treatments to help heal my mind, body and soul.
12.) Live in the moment
Stop worrying about your past or future and start living in the present. If you get organised like I said above, set times to check your finances and things that will matter in the future, you don’t need to worry about it. Let go of the past. All you can do is learn from it, not live in it. You can’t change it, so stop using your energy wishing things were different. Live in the now. Appreciate the life you have now and do what makes you happy.
What makes you happy? How have you changed your attitude?
Originally posted in October, 2013. Revised and republished June 2016