It is common for your life to fall apart. That is a part of being human. But it is not common to search and read and try to figure out how to get your act together.
So, bat yourself on the back. You have just done the uncommon.
That being said, you need honest advice about how to do that. A process. And you probably do not need to hear about grit, discipline, and hard work. You already know that.
You need something to help you get up and give you some momentum. And this is what this article will provide you with.
Focusing on these 5 things helped me through difficult times. I remind myself of them every time I find myself in troubles, overthinking, and suffering. I found them to be more useful than the practical solutions that get my life together.
But first, we need to understand something.
When everything is falling apart, you do not usually think about how to fix things. The main thing you probably think about is: why is this happening to me/how did I get here?
That is utterly unhelpful.
It might be because you feel sorry for yourself. That is jeopardizing and will get you deeper into that shit hole.
Or it might be a ‘smart’ attempt of you to figure your way out and to sort things out inside of your brain. A way to protect yourself in the moment and in the future from similar situations that got you in this shithole, to begin with.
That’s great; however, your evil inner critic can interfere with the process of answering that question. This will make you look down on yourself, which is not the best thing to do when all hell breaks loose.
So, before you do anything, stop asking why or how you got here. I know you think it will get you out of your miserable situation.
But it probably will not. Start asking yourself how to get out and what you can do to help yourself.
Sounds cool? Let us dive in. I will share 5 principles or mentalities to help you get your act together.
There is a lot to be said about the victim mentality. But let us sum that up by saying: the victim mentality is when you want someone/something to save you. By doing that, you avoid accepting your own responsibility for your life.
It is always someone else’s fault. There is always something/someone to blame.
You will feel crushed and like you have no control over your life. But at least you bear no responsibility, and you can do whatever you want.
That is not a good place to be in. It is a dangerous place that can make you weak over time.
And because nothing changes, you will be angry and resentful. You will resent those you hold accountable for your suffering. You will resent the successful people around you.
You will resent the world. And you will probably, at some level, resent yourself. That will damage your self-worth and identity way more than any unfortunate circumstances can.
But there is an upside! Yes, there is! The victim mentality has benefits, and that is one of the reasons you adopt it in the first place. It gives you subtle ways to be comfortable.
Ask yourself this: what do I gain by being a victim, blaming others, and avoiding responsibility?
There are gains, believe me.
Maybe it is the relief that you can live your life knowing that no one expects anything from you. Or it is the fact you have something to complain about.
Maybe it is having an excuse for why you cannot do this or that. Or, it is the sympathy you get when you complain to people; you feel loved and cared for; attention is addictive.
Think about it.
Even if the answers were painful to hear, answer them. Try to become aware of the benefits you get by avoiding accepting responsibility for your life and by playing the victim role.
Once you do, be honest about the following: do you need those benefits, or do you need to get your act together?
You cannot have them both.
No one is coming to save you. Realize how important it is to shoulder responsibility for your life, situation, and problems.
And that is a noble thing to do, moral even. It makes you a strong, mature, and better person.
Who would you respect more:
- Someone who blames everything and everyone for their suffering?
- Someone who holds themselves accountable for their life?
Be careful. Your mind will ask this question, answer it, and then judge you based on the answer.
Get Over Your Shame
We cannot move when shame is all that we feel.
Why bother trying if we believe we do not deserve what we want because we are too flawed and messed up to get it?
It can be shameful to have everything in your life falling apart. It can be shameful to struggle after having everything in order. You would think that something is wrong with you and that you deserve this.
That is why I advised against asking why everything is falling apart, in the first place. It is not the first question to answer.
Your thinking is not clear enough to answer such a complicated question right now. And Your shame can take over and answer you: because you suck. Because you are never enough.
The dangerous thing about shame is that it will destroy your ability to change anything. It will convince you that you are worthless and that no one ever cares about you, which are two big lies.
How do you get over your shame?
Well, that is a big question. Books and long essays have been written to answer it.
I recommend reading Brene Brown’s books as she is an expert on this topic. But, to keep it simple for now, do not believe the toxic voices in your head telling you that you are worthless, beyond repair, or a piece of sh*t. Do not give up on yourself.
Stick To One Course Of Action
You cannot get your life together without doing something. As corny and cliché as it sounds, you need to take action.
You need to stick to one course of action and take it consistently. But what is that course of action?
It is moving forward armed with knowledge.
Let me explain what that means.
You need to break down one big thing into many small things. And then, you need to start learning about one of those small things. You apply what you learn and stay consistent for a while.
For instance, health is one big thing.
When we break it down, we find that sleeping, eating healthy food, and working out are its smaller (main) components. Let us start with sleeping.
For the next week, you will learn about sleeping, its benefits, and how to get more of it. If you already know a lot about it, assume you know very little and start learning again.
Seriously, if you are in a sh*t hole, there is a great chance that you either do not know something or you are not applying something that you know.
Learn anyways. Leave your ego at the door.
Then you move to nutrition. You may also break it down, for it is a huge topic.
For instance, you start by having a healthy breakfast. You want to learn about what makes breakfast healthy and what is good for you personally.
You start having that healthy breakfast. Then you move to add more to your protein intake, or to have more of a certain vitamin, or to have less of something else.
And so on. This is a snowball. Pretty soon, you will have momentum and be in a different place.
Self-compassion And Social Support
When you start taking action, you will make mistakes. Mistakes can wake shame up.
Self-compassion and social support are two things that can help you deal with shame the right way. Let us start with self-compassion.
You need to be able to forgive yourself. Do not be so harsh with yourself and beat it up.
The world is already doing that, and your life is falling apart. To survive, you need allies, not more enemies.
The best ally is yourself; do not lose it. Do not become its enemy
Here is a helpful tip: instead of calling yourself ugly names, shift your focus on the behavior and tell yourself that you need the opposite of the harmful behavior.
For instance, instead of, “I am a liar and a dishonest person,” try saying, “I need to be telling more truth, and I need to be more honest.”
Change “I am lazy” to “I need to wake up earlier and get more work done every day.”
There is a difference between guilt and shame. Guilt is: I did something wrong. Shame is: there is something wrong with me.
It is healthy to feel guilty after making a mistake. It is jeopardizing to feel shame. And shame grows when there is no compassion and empathy.
Social support is essential, too. It is therapeutic to be with wise people who are compassionate toward you and who show genuine empathy when they see you struggling.
By the way, developing self-compassion can help you find people who treat you the same way. And vice versa.
Those people can be family members, best friends, lovers, coaches, or mentors. They need to be sane, mature, kind, and compassionate. They must treat you well and want the best for you.
Developing a healthy social support system requires investing in your close relationships.
And it is important because we fight better together. The lone-wolf mentality and the over-emphasized independence are, in my opinion, symptoms that we are lonely, miserable, and shameful. But we are trying to cover that up.
Stop it and seek social support. Build social support. It will help, along with self-compassion.
Note that support should not be confused with co-dependence.
If you get the first idea about accepting responsibility right, you should not worry about being co-dependent because you know you will always hold yourself, and not the people you care about and who care about you, accountable for your suffering.
If, for any reason, you cannot find any social support, stick to self-compassion. And in the future, start investing in your close relationships.
I am from a generation that does not know how to be patient. But still, I give this advice a lot.
And I hear it a lot from my friends. I admit that I suffer in this area. But I understand its importance.
We are living in a time where you can have instant pleasure everywhere.
The internet is a good example. You do not wait anymore to get things. And to compound that, it is already human nature to be in a hurry and to desire shortcuts. Technology is just making it worse.
You need to resist that urge. You need to stick to the one course of action that we mentioned above and be fucking patient.
Yes, work on getting things done as fast as possible.
But realize that most of these things will take more time than you expect. Prepare mentally (and practically) to handle that.
Looking back, all the skills I learned, my achievements, and the great relationships in my life were long processes. They did not happen overnight. They took time. And effort. And pain. But they were worth it. Hell yeah!
So, be patient. Patience leads to greatness. Or, at least, it will help you get your act together and sort your life out.
This post was previously published on medium.com.
You may also like these posts on The Good Men Project:
|White Fragility: Talking to White People About Racism||Escape the “Act Like a Man” Box||The Lack of Gentle Platonic Touch in Men’s Lives is a Killer||What We Talk About When We Talk About Men|
Photo credit: Pedro Forester Da Silva on Unsplash