We list several basic solutions that will suit every person, regardless of age, interests and professional choice.
1. Accept appearance as part of your identity
Situation. Despite the good health and the number of compliments, you do not really believe that you really look good and people like you. First of all, you yourself do not like your reflection. The length and color of the hair, the quality of the skin, excess weight or excessive thinness, the imperfect shape of the face in different moods become a cause for concern. Claims against yourself are not so deep as to decide on drastic measures, but they can ruin every second day.
Solution. Many of us are wired to find flaws – and this negative habit most often begins with ourselves. Instead of looking for (and finding) weaknesses in your appearance and image, you can turn introspection into a tool for knowing yourself. If the negative attitudes “Don’t eat a lot, otherwise you’ll get better like a sister” or “This position makes you look like a nasty grandmother” regulate your attitude towards yourself, this is also very productive material for working on yourself, especially in the company of an attentive therapist.
An experiment in the Dove advertising campaign clearly shows that we tend to praise others and derogate our appearance. Discussing your traits with people who love you and hearing how they see you can be incredibly rewarding too. You can find yourself in the history of beauty, bypassing hardened standards, through exciting courses in anthropology, ethnography and aesthetics – “short legs”, “wide hips” and “eyes of an incomprehensible color” are easily found in the stunning catalogs of world art, where generally accepted Western European beauty is only just one of dozens of existing types.
2. Accept your comfort and discomfort zones
Situation. Your weekdays and weekends move according to a certain scenario, and you rarely get surprised or get new emotions. Friends and acquaintances advise you to “get out of your comfort zone” – to rush into an adventure, do something atypical for yourself and be sure to try new things. The problem is that this new thing brings you nothing but anxiety. And promises to change lives from Monday are not fulfilled on Thursday.
Solution. Determine for yourself the positive value of the “comfort zone”. Motivational speakers very often equate the phrase “comfort zone” with a safe space for cowards and unfortunate people – something like a minimum program that is rarely surpassed by the majority. And therefore, “you need to get out of it regularly.” In order to be calm and sincerely wish for something new, in fact, you need to linger for a long time in the found comfort zone and sincerely admit to yourself your likes and dislikes.
You want to lie at home and watch a stupid movie, and not run to self-improvement courses in the company of strangers – but you do the latter and feel out of place. You like some workouts, but for the sake of compromising with a friend, you agree to others, and then just sabotage the general activities. You like to spend your holidays constantly moving, but you go for company to an empty island where nothing happens and return broken. Often the reason for such situations is the inability to honestly admit to yourself and others what you like best and what includes energy conservation and recovery. Plus, virtual life constantly creates the feeling that we didn’t travel, didn’t read books, didn’t watch movies, didn’t walk and didn’t cook delicious dishes.
The powerful word “no” will help you. If you do not like alcohol and any activities associated with it, clearly define your comfort zone and stay away from drinking companies. If you don’t like jogging, but like walking, you don’t need to force your body and your schedule, because running is fashionable now. If you don’t like the diet you’ve chosen, consider creating an alternative plan with foods that are also healthy but you love. If you are not interested in finishing a book, do not waste time on it to impress your friends in a conversation. The comfort zone begins with small and very intimate confessions – what do you like to sleep in, how pleasant it is to have breakfast, what shoes are more comfortable in, what smells and what color of the walls you like more – and gradually moves into external life, marking your boundaries with preferences. The ability to accept yourself relaxed and not trying to please anyone is one of the first steps to truly sincere relaxation and planning free time.
3. Embrace and enhance your talents and best sides
Situation. In your working life, you have many tasks that are very difficult: you do not have a natural inclination for them and lack the motivation to complete them. You grew up with the feeling that you are a person without superpowers who needs to “hatch” the result аnd you very rarely get praise or encouragement from those you respect.
Solution. Focus on your strengths instead of endlessly correcting your weaknesses. The domestic educational and upbringing system is tuned to look for weaknesses. If you like Russian and literature, improve your math. If you don’t like physical education, make exercise a part of your life. Having trouble coping with a project – take on more responsibility and achieve through overcoming. Unfortunately, in this race for additional advantages, we often forget about the talents and traits that characterize us the most.
Many people find it great pleasure to excel at what they are great at, but doing well at what they can do easily seems like a shame. There is nothing shameful in cultivating your natural talents and inclinations and taking them to the next level – from a hobby to a professional. It is these steps that gradually change the quality of life and smoothly, rather than abruptly, lead to the most interesting solutions.
We grew up in a time when it was not customary to compare strategies for success with abilities – who could imagine that you could make a fortune on your love of baking, the ability to clean, get along with animals or dance in a dozen different styles? The reality of 2017 is that all of our talents are tools of influence and, apart from unpleasant responsibilities, one of our main responsibilities is – literally – not to bury our abilities in the ground and integrate them into the chosen lifestyle.
To formulate your strengths, do not forget to ask people who love you about them – they will definitely pay attention to the feature that you do not attach any importance to and take a fresh look at your reality. It is better to record all discoveries in one most important document and keep it at hand in case of temporary setbacks, overwork and loss of faith in yourself.
4. Accept personal choice, reversibility and irreversibility of your decisions
Situation. You live with the feeling that everything is decided for you. Your schedule is subordinated to work duties and the interests of loved ones, while you do not feel personal will and a great desire to do this hundred things a week. In the retelling, your life is like the fate of a hostage who took on too much and now forgot why he got involved in it, be it a relationship, motherhood, a work project, or some kind of volunteer activity.
Solution. Separate irreversible decisions from reversible ones and stop being categorical about your past. People in general tend to demonize their fate and mistakenly consider many situations to be irreversible, and the chances to be single. In fact, there are very few irreversible decisions – this is the decision to parenthood or termination of pregnancy, decisions about one’s own health and the health of children. There are also irreversible events, such as the loss of loved ones, which we have no control over. Other major and important events turn out to be reversible.
Marriage and buying a home, even moving to another country and obtaining citizenship, and even more so agreements with others, are reversible and, to varying degrees, flexible decisions that can and should be reviewed according to circumstances. Parental assistance and its terms and conditions may vary depending on your income. The child can change schools and sections after moving to another area. Position at work may change in a situation of significant changes in responsibilities. Relationships that don’t work—marriage, friendship, or sex—can be fixed or ended. Some work is suitable for a certain stage of life, some partner is suitable for one of the phases of your formation, some company is suitable for an interest that may or may not disappear over time. And this is not your fault, there is only a moment of personal choice and decisions made.
When we look at life as a set of accepted and reversible decisions, it ceases to be a building of concrete and breaks down into a dozen elements that are easy to swap. It allows you to reprioritize based on your age and accomplishments, make time for things you haven’t done before, and be more relaxed about the negotiation process that accompanies your entire adult life, from talking about a promotion you want to agreeing with your child about your time together. Contrary to popular belief, no job opportunity is truly unique, and no relationship continues as it began.
5. Accept your preferences in everyday life, ideas about values and the world around you
Situation. Closet full, nothing to wear. The house is full of unnecessary things. The shelves are full of books you won’t read. A dozen applications on a healthy lifestyle remained unopened. Communication with others outside the mandatory is exhausted by the phrase “We need to see you somehow.” The apartment is a compromise between what the money is enough for and what was among the proposals. With many things, one has to put up with and endure them rather than enjoy them.
Solution. Get rid of the superfluous – in the broadest and narrowest sense of the word. And fill the free space with what you need – or leave it empty until strong desires appear. Domestic craving for hoarding leads to a crowded apartment, where there is too much of everything and nothing pleases the eye. The temporary nature of housing teaches you to humble yourself, and not to do as you please. The names in the notebook simulate a list of possible contacts, not people close to you. Time spent at most companies seems to be wasted.
Pruning is a suitable solution for freeing up real and virtual space, where you voluntarily get rid of everything that you do not use. Things that contain a lot of information and memories of the past. People with whom you have nothing to talk about. Movies and books that are not really close to you.
It is important to say to yourself: I like to get up early (late), eat like this, I am comfortable with such a routine and such lighting, I love such furniture and such utensils, such music and such a wide table. It is important to remember what qualities in people make you take off and strive to meet them. What do you love about work, books, conversations, TV shows, what are your main life interests. Try to answer these questions honestly, without “I don’t know”, you can use the elimination method. It can be salutary to admit to yourself that you prefer a book to a stupid superficial conversation, an acoustic concert to a fashionable artist, and a quiet walk with a dog in a country forest to the best city in Europe. Taste is neither good nor bad, much less right and wrong.
6. Embrace bad experiences and their lessons.
Situation. Unresolved situations in the past constantly remind of themselves. Work conflict is felt in the current career contradictions. Unspoken disagreements with a partner affect already new and other relationships. The ugly behavior of friends makes it difficult to open up and trust people again. No matter how old the injury may seem, it seems around every corner when the clouds gather.
Solution. Calmly verbalize past experience and explain to yourself how you can find support for today in it. If these are egregious cases and deep traumas (primarily violence), it will be more effective and safer to discuss the situation with a psychotherapist. But even ordinary life experiences – a scandal in a professional environment, a dismissal, an unsuccessful marriage, a broken relationship, a quarrel with parents – can unconsciously threaten us and prevent us from making informed decisions today.
The most inappropriate reaction to an unpleasant experience is to sum it up with right and wrong, or persistently look for errors in your behavioral model, feeling shame or looking for blame. It is best to recall painful situations from the recent past and understand what previous experiences they resonate with, why that experience became possible, and what it may now remind you of.
You may have made a rash decision when applying for a job, but now you are better prepared for the future search. You are faced with the deception of friends, but now you know what kind of behavior betrays a dishonest person. You were nervous and reacted sharply, but now you will think about which of your trusted loved ones you would ask for help. You lost your savings, but now you will learn financial literacy. You have not completed your studies, but now you better understand what you lacked in your studies, and you will look for these incentives in self-education. An unpleasant experience can be perceived as an unrecoverable mistake, but it will bring much more benefit as an aid to further search for new solutions.
7. Accept your flaws and use it as an opportunity for transformation.
Situation. You would like to communicate more, but from childhood you are not inclined to take the initiative. You need to make fewer promises, but you want to please other people and give them more than you can handle. You do not complete what causes boredom, and are not very prudent in planning expenses. You are tired of following the lead of others, but you are embarrassed to refuse. You tend to judge people, although you don’t like being judged. These or other shortcomings hurt you when other people talk about them, and many of them simply prevent you from living in a practical sense.
Solution. Accepting shortcomings is not just choosing the position of “yes, I am like that,” but also seeing negative qualities as a space for development. The habit of quitting halfway is often associated with a broken motivation and reward mechanism that can be fixed. Extravagance is corrected by useful budgeting practices. Discipline is easy to cultivate with pleasant little duties.
In addition, “shortcomings” also have positive aspects, you just need to learn how to address them specifically. The superficiality of judgments is often accompanied by the ability to see the global picture, ingenuity and the talent to delegate unpleasant tasks.
Of course, we are not able to correct many of our attitudes, but we can start with those qualities that annoy us the most in others: they often answer the question of what really hurts and worries us. Boundary violations or categorical judgments, the habit of pressing in everyday communication or unsolicited advice often reflect our deep contradictions. Not treating others the way you don’t want to be treated is not only a basic ethical rule, but also the beginning of accepting yourself and working with your own shortcomings.