Reclaiming Control Over Life

Best Ways To Take Charge Of Your Life For The Better

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Build Your Intuition

Let’s be honest we often ask for second opinions in many areas of our lives. This comes from our childhood where we had to ask if what we did was okay as it was new to us. In a healthy home your parents took more steps back to give you room to grow, form opinions and strengthen your intuition. That’s not the case for everyone, some were never given that room which made them unsure of the decisions they made and in adulthood still need external validation. It is as if you are conditioned to do it in order to get praise from it.

In a way, it is because the social cues you get from the people in your life help in forming opinions on how praiseworthy your actions and behaviors are. So you do something good, get praised and it sticks in your head that if you act in a similar manner your reward is praise and the good feeling that comes with it. It is your mental model.

‘External Validation Mental Model is the recognition and acceptance that we have all been socialized to value ourselves through the eyes of other people and the understanding that we can learn to value ourselves.’-Elizabeth R Thornton, author of The Objective Leader: How to Leverage the Power of Seeing Things As They Are.

A child seeking external validation is a survival instinct as they want reassurance that those around them love them and they are safe. They cannot communicate effectively so they throw tantrums when hungry, angry or experience discomfort. If an adult does the same they are seen as manipulative.

A theory that can paint this is the looking–glass self-theory where you base your sense of self on how you believe others see you by using social interaction as a ‘mirror’ and judgments to measure your worth. An example is when you meet up with a new social circle you watch their body language, reactions, tonality and word choice in response to what you are saying. If the feedback is positive your belief in your social skills is upheld and in the case of negative feedback you question and doubt your social skills.

Self image
Image: Monstera

Your self-image is one of the things social media uses as fuel by using words such as like, follow and love to appeal to your need for praise and to prove your worth. It is why you are heavily impacted by your social media accounts.

  In order to begin the recovery, ask yourself two main questions:

  • How often do you need a second opinion from someone before you make a decision?
  • How often do you double check if the decision you made was the right one?

After your moment of introspection and you have identified a pattern you can now begin the building process. This is where you look at who you are as a person and recognize your value for example, you are loving, hardworking and compassionate. Once you know, see and internally validate these things you realize that any negativity cast against you and your character falls flat.

You also realize that whether you get external validation or not you are okay with it as you know and believe in yourself. Letting go of external validation means taking back ownership of self. The judgments, labels and ideas others put on you have nothing to do with you but their own beliefs, ideas and influences. Once you recognize your value the number of likes is not tied to your self-worth.

Be Yourself
Be yourself
Image: Klub Boks

We often ‘murder’ ourselves just to fit in with what is needed. You have probably shown your authentic self to someone and they shamed and criticized you for the things you say or do. The safe way you chose to deal with it in your situation is to change to fit into the required mold. It could be your sense of humor or how you dress.

Another thing you have experienced is carrying the torch of your parents’ failed dreams that they put on your shoulders knowingly or unknowingly. This dream that you have ‘inherited’ is one you want no part of and have no interest in achieving. When you express your interests you are shut down with the words ‘we are older so we know better’ and ‘you are a child now but you will thank us someday’. Combined with the feelings of being indebted to them and trust that they know what is good for you, you stick with it.

You have to realize that everyone’s beliefs and views are based on their life experiences and their opinions from the impact they got. Whether it is family or friends, they cannot tell you how your life will be for choosing to follow a dream that is outside their knowledge. Their life experiences are theirs and yours are your own so you should experience them.

Never set yourself on fire to keep someone else warm. You are an awesome person with the right to live as you choose, dress as you choose and tell the jokes you choose. There are people beyond the circle you have who will welcome you to their community.

Sticking to what society sees as normal at the cost of your mental health and happiness leaves you a bitter person with a lot of misery until you break out. There is no great meaning of life; you are the one who decides what the meaning of your life is.

You can receive advice and criticism over you choices so just listen then politely decline if you don’t agree with them.

Stop Comparing
Image: Ivan Samkov

Truth is, you will never be enough when you compare yourself to others. In this day and age with social media it is almost impossible not to find yourself comparing yourself to others. The evolving beauty standards and the value society places in appearance is now a profitable commodity with influencers using their looks to make money.

Other than social media we compare how we dress when going out to strangers, our quality of work to colleagues and our relationships to our family and friends. In some companies comparison is used as a competitive tool to sell more to the consumer and increase profits.

A theory developed by in 1954 by psychologist Leon Festinger posits that individuals determine their own social and personal worth based on how they measure up against others. The theory adds that those regularly compare themselves to others may find motivation or experience dissatisfaction in what they see which could lead to damaging habits such as alcoholism and disordered eating. This shows that you evaluate yourself in order to establish benchmarks of attitude, skills and progress.

There are two types of social comparison that you take part in, the upward and downward social comparison.

In the upward social comparison you tend to compare yourself to people you believe is better than you as it triggers your desire to grow and improve. You use the person’s successes to motivate you. The downside is it can kill your spirit because you don’t get the same results the other person has achieved. It could be getting the same body as someone you view as attractive but you have different genes so the result is not the same.

The downward social comparison is where you compare yourself to those who are worse off than you in order to make yourself feel better about yourself. Your skills and traits may not be the best but at least they are better than your friend or colleague. It works as a self-esteem boost but it also limits you. By comparing yourself to someone who is on a lower skill level than yourself you don’t put in a lot of effort to improve as you would with someone higher.

It’s better to challenge yourself to be better and use other people’s standards to improve however you should realize there is a limit. Do not put people on a pedestal as you obsess over being like them as well as not looking down on them. You have your strengths and flaws just like everyone else so don’t become a toxic influence to yourself.

Comparisons do not serve you even though there are benefits to it. It ties you into a cycle that robs you of your joy and leaves you burnt out and unable to recognize yourself. There is always going to be someone better or worse than you. You just have to focus on your achievements and who you are as a person and measure it by how good it makes you feel. Set a time limit and boundaries when going on social media, this helps you step back when overwhelmed.

Remove Negativity From Your Life
Image: Liza Summer

In the process of forming bonds we invite all characters then we weed out the ones we cannot agree and connect with. One of the types you need to stay away from is those who bring negativity into your life. They include romantic relationship prospects.

How do you know that a person is a negative influence in your life?

Most important sign is how they treat you. A kind and loving person values and respect you but a negative person treats you horribly. The tone and word choice when talking to you and about you has cruel and mocking quips attached to them. What you share in confidence is gossip material or is thrown back at you in a moment of anger.

Next are your interactions. Negative people suck the joy out of anything you are excited about so you are hesitant to share good news with them. You know it will be undermined and twisted to belittle you.

Lastly if you get into a relationship of any kind with the hopes of changing the person, you are inviting trouble in your life with wide arms. People who want to change do it of their own volition. They ask for your help after making all possible steps they can to get better.

Never settle for horrible people who offer the bare minimum. Redirect that energy towards yourself and change yourself instead. Putting the work in to build a positive environment attracts positive influences and relationships into your life.

Take Care Of Your Space
Image: SHVETS production

You cannot deny the value of a clean and organized environment. It boosts your morale and increases your productivity as you navigate your day to day work.

If you have difficulty in completing the tasks due to having a rough time and being overwhelmed in other areas of your life you can try the 80/20 rule. The Pareto principal or the 80/20 rule states that you can get 80 per cent of output from 20 per cent input. If you cannot do all the work you just have to put in 20 per cent effort. It could be creating a cleaning plan you follow to maintain cleanliness in bite sized chores that have a major impact in the end. You can do laundry today which produces clean clothes and a clear floor when you mop tomorrow.

Another way is to add joy to the tasks by adding your favorite music in the back ground or a movie when folding the laundry. Upbeat music keeps you dancing and in a good mood as you work. It makes it almost weightless.

Prioritize Yourself
Image:  RODNAE Productions

Stop being a people pleaser at your own expense. As a people pleaser you work hard to maintain a peaceful environment by putting others needs before your own. Your empathetic nature and vulnerability is used as a weapon of control by others. This need to be selfless to get validation from others can be self-destructive in the long run. You have no space to express your opinion instead you ‘tone it down’ and do what makes others happy.

As many things it goes back to how you were nurtured. Having parents who focused more on their ego and perfection, you had to walk on egg shells. All they cared about was how they felt and hat made their life easier and you bent to their will just to be safe. When you expressed your feelings that differed from theirs your feelings were dismissed or you were punished. Or even both.

Your parents never handled your feelings in the appropriate way so you lost a lot of trust in your feelings. You never knew whether you were over reacting or under reacting to any change in your environment.

This fear of causing upset shapes how you interact with others as an adult. You strive to be perfect in other people’s eyes in order to receive the affection you were starved for as a child. The need to bend over backwards for everyone to the point of risking your life and mental health for someone who won’t do the same is something that leaves you exhausted. You need to stop and put yourself first.

First you have to realize that you have the permission to prioritize yourself above all. Get to know yourself: your likes, dislikes, preference and what you cannot tolerate.

 Once you get to know yourself you can move to the second part which is putting up boundaries. Learning to say NO is empowering yourself. Whether it’s with family, friends, partner, colleague or boss you have to set strict boundaries. If they disrespect them you have to follow through with the consequences like removing them from your social circle or finding a new job.

 Be your own biggest advocate by standing up for yourself when wronged or having extra tasks thrown at you.

Take More Risks
Image: Liza Summer

I was browsing through the internet trying to find motivation when I stumbled across an article by Gregg Levoy titled The Dignity of Daring: On the Art of Taking Risks. It was an interesting quick read for my young mind so I personally recommend it.

One of the biggest injustices to do to yourself is keeping the comfort cocoon warm out of fear of taking risks. Growth and change come from taking risks. If you have a dream you want to pursue but it is out of the safety net you have around you, break it.

You don’t have to do it all in one day by going scorched earth, instead do it in bite sized portions.

These are guided steps you can take:

  • Asses the risk.

Don’t make blind decisions, look at what is needed. If you want to start your own small business you have to do research on the industry you are stepping into and its market. If there are certifications needed that you don’t have then you can arrange to get them. Doing market research places you at an advantage in staying ahead of competition as well as tells you if the idea you have can generate profits.

  • Plan.

Creating a plan guides you on what steps to take next. So sit down write a business plan. It increases clarity in your decision making process in key areas such as resources and where to lease. It helps in the marketing process when looking for support funds or investors. You know how allocate your time strategically to the business.

  • Act

Once you have the plans ironed out you can start on your plan of action. It could be setting aside two hours daily to work on building your business. As you do this, you still have income coming in so you don’t have to worry about paying your rent when your savings are being put towards your start up. When you get revenue out of it you can slowly negotiate on your employment contract to reduce your hours to part time so you can put more resources towards it.  Eventually you are able to focus on only being a business owner.

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