And when we finally admit that to ourselves, we feel the disappointment…and the pain.
You read about the minor league ballplayers who never make it to the Majors, or the dancers who don’t make it to the top, or the pianists, the violinists, and the singers. Don’t get me wrong. All of them are QUITE good…and yet many of their dreams are never met. Perhaps they were not fast enough, or beautiful enough, or smart enough.
You see…sometimes…our brain and our body simply don’t have the horsepower…or the intelligence…or the natural skills than we need to meet all of our dreams. So…
- We may decide that life is a cheat, or
- We may blame our upbringing for robbing us of the natural abilities we need to meet those dreams.
But all of us experience the sadness and frustration from the gap between what we need to fulfill our dreams, and what we actually have.
So…what do we do with our feelings and the disappointments? Are there ways to think differently? Is there a happy face can we put onto this heart-breaking dilemma?
- Help Your Brain to Be Its Best
Millions of Internet sites can give you lists of what you should drink (or not drink), what you should eat and how you should sleep, so I won’t go into that.
I want to zero in on WHAT WE SAY TO OURSELVES…when…sometimes…we just can’t do it.
You see, it is your self-talk TODAY that determines what you can do TODAY, and it is also that self-talk that can actually rob you of the confidence and the motivation you need to tackle your remaining dreams. This means becoming more aware of what you are saying to yourself…about yourself…today.
It also means thinking fewer smaller thoughts for the sake of the bigger ones.
- Be kinder to Yourself
The private conversations you have with yourself can be either a powerful stepping-stone or a major obstacle to reaching your dreams. If your inner monologue repeats things like, “I failed again!” or, “I did not meet all of my potential…again!,” you won’t be comfortable with yourself. Or, if you’re thinking, “I’m never going to write this novel,” as you sit in front of your computer, you’re blinding yourself to the amazing person you are in other areas in your life. And then…those negative predictions turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy.
How many people…people who are absolutely amazing…have tortured themselves because they haven’t succeeded in every way they have wanted to succeed. You can pester yourself and bombard yourself with negative messages, or YOU CAN DECIDE THAT THOSE MESSAGES ARE NO LONGER A PART OF YOUR LIFE. You then decide to give yourself new, more positive messages about yourself.
You may need to make this decision many, many times, but after a while (over about three weeks) your brain will actually rewire itself so that those new messages BECOME A PART OF THE WAY YOU THINK, AND THEN BECOME A PART OF THE WAY YOU ARE!
So…dear reader…here are three ways to be kinder to yourself and to tame your inner critic.[i]
Be Aware of What You Are Saying To Yourself About Yourself.We get so used to talking to ourselves that we become oblivious of the messages we are actually sending. When we really pay attention to what’s we’re actually saying to ourselves about ourselves, it can be eye-opening! So recognize that just because you think something, doesn’t mean it’s true. Our thoughts are often exaggerated, biased, and disproportionate.
Lay Off the Ruminating.In my former life (which ended yesterday, because every day is a brand new day to me), I would make mistakes or have a bad day. When I did, I would replay the events over and over in my head. However, what I was really doing is simply reminding myself of something embarrassing I did, or something stupid I said.
And I always felt worse…and it never solved the problem!
So when I find myself ruminating—and not problem-solving—I no longer waste my time telling myself, “Don’t think about that.” The more you try to avoid thinking about something, the more you’re likely to focus on it. Instead, I visualize the success I plan to have today…as clearly as possible…and I stop the critical thoughts before they spiral out of control.
You Are Always Learning and Growing and Changing! This is a never ending process. When Abbey, our first little girl took her first step thirty-nine years ago, she fell flat on the carpet. She then looked up at us, with little tears in her eyes, and said, “Well mom…dad…I guess I was never meant for walking.”
Did she say that? OF COURSE NOT! She got up, took two steps, and then she fell. Then she took three steps and fell. She’s 40 years old. Is she falling? YES! How do I know? Because she’s still walking, and you don’t fall unless you walk.
This was gleaned from the October, 2013 issue of Psychology Today: The Smart Gap, by Eric Maisel