It’s human nature to look to others to validate our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. But, when those thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are rooted in victim mentality, validation of limiting beliefs will do nothing more than weaken self-confidence and cause one to feel helpless, cheated, desperate, bitter, and powerless. While it may feel validating to have false and limiting beliefs affirmed by others, it doesn’t make it true, and worse yet, it undermines one’s ability to change the circumstances of their life.
Those who do this incessantly either aren’t aware that they are doing it and the pain it is causing them or they have found that it pays to whine and complain to anyone who will listen. But, one thing these habits don’t offer is peace or happiness.
Here are the 7 things you need to stop doing if you want to live an empowered life:
1. Stop living in the past.
When you look longingly at the past, you are robbing yourself of being happy today. Who you were in the past is not who you are today. Hopefully, you have improved. But, whether you are better or worse depends completely upon the choices you have made when faced with difficult situations. What’s happened in the past is history. I like to examine it with a “so, what?” attitude. By this, I mean to ask yourself, “So, what can be learned from it?”
It doesn’t matter what’s happened in the past except for what we can learn from it.
Our past is just a series of personal experiences that we, through our thoughts and behaviors, have allowed to either propel us forward in our progress or to act as a barrier, therefore impeding our progress. It’s even possible to move backwards through life, a truly sad state in which some may have found themselves, though it need not remain so forever. Our attitude towards, and perception of, these experiences are the determining factor of the direction of our lives. Whether you recognize them or not, there have likely been many opportunities for lessons to be learned in every seed of adversity.
If you find you keep getting the same lesson over and over, then consider the possibility that you really haven’t learned the lesson yet. Don’t beat yourself up about it. However, do determine that it’s time to get serious about examining each negative situation and finding the positive message for your life. Regardless of your losses, trials, and disappointments, ask yourself, what can I do today to learn from the past, to move forward, to become better, to help others, to be an inspiration, to bring more goodness into my life? What is the lesson for me now? Determine to learn it. This will empower you to change your thoughts and behaviors moving forward. Then, do yourself a favor . . . forgive yourself, forgive others, let the past go, and move on.
2. Stop telling the old, sad stories.
Everything has energy, including the sad stories you tell. If your purpose in telling your sad story isn’t to teach a lesson learned or offer comfort, accompanied by hope, to those who are struggling, then you’re likely just depleting your own personal power (as well as that of your listeners) every time you tell it.
When you hear yourself telling the same, sad story again, consider it might be evidence that you may still be harboring old hurts and reinforcing false or limiting beliefs about yourself and others. Notice whether you are enjoying the pity of others as you tell your story. Does it get you some attention, even if only for a short moment? What is the payoff? Does it validate some limiting belief you have? Try to identify the root of the problem and the limiting belief. Glean anything good from it that you can, and then happily, gracefully let the old stories go.
3. Stop blaming others for your circumstances.
Everyone has a story to tell about something their parents, their spouse, their siblings, their friends, the government or some other entity or circumstance has done that has been negatively perceived to have affected their life in some way. Regardless of what anyone has ever said or done to you (or not said or not done for you), no one has the power to choose the thoughts you think and the actions you take, and those two things are the building blocks that have created the life you are currently living. You, and you alone, are responsible for your own thoughts and behaviors. And when you learn the power you have in choosing good thoughts and taking inspired action, no one can take that power from you.
For example, if you are in a bad relationship, it is because you have chosen to engage in that relationship. Whether the “bad” in the relationship comes from your thoughts and behaviors, those of the other person, or a combination of both, recognize that you always have the power to choose your own thoughts and actions. This means you also have the power to change that relationship, whether that means you embrace it, establish new, healthy boundaries, heal it, change the dynamics of it, or simply walk away. When you find the power of your agency, you also will find that there are an unlimited number of scenarios for improving or changing that relationship. If you stay in a miserable relationship, it’s because you have chosen to stay miserable in that relationship.
Likewise, if you’re stuck in a dead end job, recognize that you put yourself there and you allow yourself to stay there, for whatever reason. We always have options. Always! If you are miserable, you are choosing to be miserable. It’s likely you spend more time thinking about what you don’t want than wondering what else is possible! If you want to be happy, you can choose that as well. No one–not the government, your parents, your spouse, your friends, your boss–can make you miserable or happy. Only you can do that. You choose to be miserable or happy or anything in between and you do that by your thoughts and feelings. You are responsible for the circumstances of your life. Only by owning it will you find the power to change it.
4. Stop complaining about your life.
There is always going to be those who are better off than you, just as there is always someone who is worse off. All life on this planet is subject to adversity. Accept it. Bad things happen to good people.
Believe that there is something to be gained from it. We see what we seek. Look for the good and you will find it. When you focus on the bad, all you see is bad things. All that does is make you and everyone around you more miserable. What good is there in that? I have never seen a time when complaining incessantly manifested a better situation, especially one where everyone is happy. Though others may accommodate you, from time to time, in order to stop having to listen to you, chronic complaining will never create a happy, fruitful life. Start owning all the ways you are contributing to your misery and start thinking better thoughts and taking more positive action.
Sometimes things happen that you don’t deserve. For example, maybe your husband cheated on you and you feel you have been a good and faithful wife. You don’t have to be endlessly miserable by feeling sorry for yourself. Certainly, take the time to seek appropriate counseling, talk with a few trusted friends, and to work through the grieving process. But, when all is said and done and you have both moved on, continually wondering what you did wrong, feeling sorry for yourself, being angry or bitter, or shaming him with everyone you meet will bring you no happiness. You are only cheating yourself out of a happy future. Recognize he made a poor choice and the consequences of that poor choice will follow him. Ultimately, his poor choices were his, not yours. It is not a poor reflection of you. Only your poor choices are. Keep making good choices. Keep being the happy, faithful person you are, believing there is a better future in store, even if you are now a single mom, struggling to make a new life for yourself. Your faith and hope will take you much further than self-pity ever will.
5. Stop justifying poor behaviors.
If you have made mistakes, stop wasting time justifying them. If you made poor decisions because someone else made poor decisions, then own up to your own poor decisions. No one else can force you to do wrong. “She made me.” “I had to do it.” “I had no choice.” These are just poor excuses for poor choices.
Here’s a simple truth. What you send out comes back to you. Poor choices have poor consequences. As long as you continue with those poor choices, your poor consequences will likely continue as well. Stop the madness. Stop the pain. Stop justifying. Wrong is wrong. Poor thinking begets more poor thinking. Everyone makes mistakes from time to time, but to continue on day after day, year after year weakens you and steals your power. Mistakes can be corrected. Start discerning what needs to change and change it. Own up to your poor choices. Make restitution, if necessary, then move on.
6. Stop feeling sorry for yourself.
Stop comparing yourself to others. Life is not a competition. Stop bemoaning the fact that you have to work and your friend doesn’t. Stop coveting your neighbor’s home, car, or travel abilities. Stop wishing you had the body of the single gal in the next cubicle who works out regularly. What you have in your life is what you have determined you could have. What you have in your life is a reflection of the choices you have made or the things you have decided you can or can’t do. There is no hope and no progress in self-pity and feeling sorry for oneself. There is no power or forward thinking in it.
Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be. Be grateful for what you do have. Find joy in your own abilities, talents, and gifts. Choose gratitude over envy. When you seek to find the good in your life, you will begin to see more of it. You probably have so much more than you realize. Get out of your own way. Instead of looking at what others have, visualize a life where you can have or achieve anything. See yourself obtaining what you want in a healthy and honest way. Be grateful for it. Let the universe go to work for you to help you realize your dreams. If what you send out comes back around, bless those that live the life you dream of. Then you will be willing to accept and receive those very blessings when they come.
7. Stop looking to others for your answers.
As daunting as it may seem at times, especially when you have given up your power to something or someone else, you alone are responsible for your life. No one else has the privilege to receive divine guidance and wisdom for your life but you. No other human can determine the best course of action for your life, but you or a higher power.
There are those, from time to time, with whom we can seek and find good counsel. However, though you may allow others to influence your decisions, they will not have to live with the consequences of those decisions. You do. Be sure to remember that, ultimately, each of us must choose for ourself. The buck stops here! Be responsible for everything happening in your life. Trust that there is a solution to every problem. As you begin to trust, not only your own innate intelligence, but that of a higher intelligence, the answers will be revealed. You can begin to take charge of your life and receive inspiration that only you can receive.
There is only one you and you are the one who is most responsible for your life. Own everything that is happening in your life. Trust that you have the answers within you. Move forward in faith. Only then will you find the strength and wisdom to change what you don’t like! Try it. It’s very liberating!
In your journal, write down all the ways that you have been giving up your power. Determine what you will do from here forward to take responsibility for your life. What would your life look like if you had the freedom to create it in any way that you want?
Take this one step further and create a dream poster or vision board that reflects the life you desire. Look at it often and feel the feelings of gratitude that you would feel if it were so. Then you will witness the power of your own vision. Your thoughts and feelings create continually. Be mindful about what you are thinking and feeling!