Alternate Title: Allow me to share my own experiences of reconstructing my foundation
Skip ahead to “Your likely options,” if you rather avoid learning about my struggles.
Rethink & build a better foundation
If there’s one thing I can be grateful for when it comes to the pandemic, is that I was forced to unravel a lot of mental junk I had been struggling with for years. There was no more planning hangouts with friends and postponing the inevitable “ugh, life is shitty” rock bottom stage. Nope, I just secretly, maybe not so secretly spiraled.
And to be honest, I’m used to spiraling. However, it’s usually in the background while I keep up appearances of a somewhat capable and independent adult. But, nope. Not this time.
Turns out a pandemic is a great excuse for being aimless. [And it struck early enough in my “hey, what’s up with UO” stage that I think most people assumed Covid was the cause. Lucky for me.]
Anyway, while it took some time to accept, I decided to make a silver lining out of things. If the outer world is in a state of chaos, sounds like a good time to tame the demons in my inner world. I mean, when am I ever going to have another (mostly) universally accepted excuse to flail around and with little to no judgment?
And so started the ongoing journey of unraveling, questioning, and fighting my negative thoughts and dysfunctional belief system. It’s out with little self-preservation. In with self-care. It’s abandoning the assumption that my life will never be good enough. And instead, building a foundation that gives me a hell of a good chance.
And sure, it’s not easy. I move backwards at times. But, the past few months easily beat out my last few years.
Your likely options
But, how did you change things?
Doing something new. Thinking differently. Improving my behavior, even if it’s just something tiny at first.
The theory is simple. Every little thing can add up to something greater. So, if you repeatedly do something small then it can grow into a larger and more impactful action. And bigger actions have more potential for large changes.
Okay, but how do you change things? What do I do?
Obviously, there’s no perfect, simple answer. Reading “do something new,” probably won’t change your life in a meaningful way. What you probably want is an approach. Well, and a “cure” that’ll suddenly make you motivated/passionate/energized/insert-whatever-you-think-will-solve-your-problems.
Well, I can help with the former.
To make effective, lasting change you need to alter your foundation. You need to adjust your approach to better suit what you want out of life.
Leap of faith
1. Just do the thing. If thinking about it is discouraging you, then don’t think before acting. Just go for it.
Example: I hate drinking water. I think it’s the blandest drink I’ve ever had the misfortune to come across. And as someone who regularly views taste as the saving grace of life’s simplest pleasures… deciding that I would vastly improve my water consumption has not been enjoyable.
Months later, that has not changed. At all. However, I’m still drinking the bland thing regularly. How? By just doing it. Treat it like there’s no other option. Let it become a natural part of your life that’s inescapable.
Pros to this approach: It gets you started and you might even be able to see through the whole change trusting this approach.
Cons to this approach:
- Not having a plan can make it difficult to adapt, depending on the person and the fine details of the situation.
- For more complicated tasks like changing careers or cutting off major people in your life, this option can be a wrecking ball to your life’s foundation.
2. Find your way. Just explore and see what clicks for you.
Example: This has been my winning method for working out. I’m learning to be more aware of my body and what works for me.
The stretching from yoga? Yes.
The usual insistence for meditation? Psh, not on my mat. If I want to declutter my head then I’ll write it out.
Pros to this approach:
- It helps you develop an approach that’s suited to you.
- You’re likely to develop your self-awareness.
- You can strategically work your way through a checklist until something clicks. Chances are you’ll reach a confident conclusion- whether it be finding something that works or knowing a concept isn’t for you.
Cons to this approach:
- Some people are antsy about doing new things. And stepping out of their comfort zone could be problematic.
- It can take a lot of tries before you find something.
- There’s no guarantee with any approach, but feeling like you’re running out of or have no more options can hit deep.
3. Make a game plan.
Example: Like many people during the Age of Covid, I decided to get a plant. Well, I’m one of the people who hasn’t killed it and have even gotten a few more since.
Now, I’m preparing to start a garden:
Pros to this approach:
- If you do it properly, you have a general idea of what to do, why, how, and contingencies.
- Having an outline makes it easier to figure out where you made a mistake.
- Complicated situations are usually easier to handle if you make a guideline.
Cons to this approach:
- Some people are horrible at following directions. Or are just more effective at doing things on the fly.
- A plan can be restrictive, for best results learn when you need to abandon it to get the results you want.
Why build a better foundation
For many, it’s not just a matter of how to improve their life. They need a why.
And honestly, it would be presumptuous of me, if not leaning into toxic positivity, to say:
- Things get better. They don’t always. And certainty not always before they get much worse.
- You’re worth it. I can’t tell you how valuable your life is. That’s something you have to discover for yourself.
- It’s okay, you have a purpose. If that keeps you fighting, okay. If it’s holding you down, then ditch that expectation.
Maybe you’re appalled that I would write those things… well, the rest of this post might not be for you.
If you’re struggling for a reason to change and the usual “you deserve it” and “just think about your loved ones” lines aren’t cutting it… maybe this might speak to you.
I’m not the happiest person. And I don’t really expect that to change. Even with my recent improvements. And the ones I hope to accomplish in the future.
Sure, I definitely like my way of thinking better now. But, the bar was pretty low in the first place.
What I’m trying to say, is that I’m not building a better foundation because I think life is grand and I deserve to live it to my fullest. Or because a better me would make other people feel better.
No, I’m playing with my own natural perspective. And I’ve always been curious and the wondering type. I like data and thinking and exploring the possibilities of something. I’m a theory over execution type of person. But, what happens if I make the execution part more interesting?
What’s driving me forward is simple curiosity. If I ditch the expectations and do the “right” things regardless, then what happens? Will my life continue on the same path its been? Or will effective life-changing doors open up? Will I hate it in the end? Or will it give me the best moments of my life?
Why not test it out?