Personal growth is not a walk in the park. If anyone tells you otherwise, they’re lying.
Do you really want to change your life? Then you’ve got to get real, you’ve got to get honest, and you’ve got to be willing to stick it out when things get ugly.
There will be times you’ll want to quit. But if you keep going, it’s more than worth it. Because if you change yourself, you change your life.
This summer my husband and I and a couple friends were at a Lindsey Sterling concert (she’s an amazingly talented/creative violinist and dancer). In between songs she gave an inspiring speech about her personal growth and overcoming depression.
She said she used to be depressed, and someone told her once that she was choosing to be. She felt upset about it, understandably, but she said she realized that this person was right. She began working on herself and faced some tough truths. She said it took a lot of work, but eventually she succeeded at turning her mindset and her life around.
“The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.”
- Joe Klass, Twelve Steps to Happiness
My husband and I have talked a lot about the concept of looking in the mirror and taking responsibility for our happiness and unhappiness, and he helped me through some mentally shitty places. When I heard Lindsey speak I wanted to write about it.
What I’ve learned:
1. In order to change any mental or behavioral habits, you have to first look in the mirror and be honest with yourself.
I had to ask myself questions like, am I doing things that are sabotaging my growth or success? Am I doing or not doing things that are holding me back? Am I making excuses for my behavior or attitude? Am I blaming other people for it? What thoughts am I thinking that are making me feel this way?
I’m not necessarily talking about people who are clinically depressed or suicidal. I’m not saying, hey, you can just change your mindset if you try. Some people may have a chemical imbalance affecting their brain, for example, like a gut flora problem or some other cause, which can make changing your mood or perspective way harder. But we can all still take responsibility for seeking out answers and taking steps to make changes.
2. Justifications and excuses get us nowhere.
We humans are great at bullshitting ourselves. We make up all kinds of justifications for why we’re doing what we’re doing so we can still feel good about ourselves. But if we want change, we must take responsibility for our behavior and attitude.
3. We must try not to get down on ourselves when we see things we don’t like.
It can be extremely hard to face up to our faults, and equally hard not to let self-awareness crush our self-esteem. I had to be reminded many times (by my husband) that the purpose of looking in the mirror is to grow, not beat myself up over what I don’t like.
4. It’s easy when it’s easy.
All of your worst traits will be most prone to showing up when we’re hurt, scared, angry, upset in some way, or not feeling good.
To paraphrase my husband:
It’s easy to be the best version of you when things are going great. The challenge lies in being true to who you want to be when things are tough.
5. We need to be patient with ourselves.
It can feel like change takes forever. But looking back, it seems like the struggle and growth I went through happened so fast. I wasted so much time being upset about where I was at – that I wasn’t living at some ridiculously high standard I set for myself. Try to remember to be patient with yourself!
Sometimes it will also feel like you’re going backwards in your growth, but in the big picture you’re not. Remember the ups and downs are part of your journey, and a setback doesn’t mean you’re going backward overall.
If you want to change patterns that are holding you back, the truth will be the key to your transformation and success - and it will also piss you off. You must be willing to look in the mirror and admit the tough truths about yourself, stop making excuses and take responsibility for your happiness, try not to get down on yourself, be aware that your worst side shows up when you’re not feeling up to par, and be patient about change. Have you discovered any tough truths about yourself that were/are holding you back? Have advice that might help others? Comment below!