A few years ago after moving hundreds of miles away from home with my new husband, I had just hit my sixth month of unemployment. Even though I had graduated from a university in four years, completed a Post Graduate degree, spent a year serving in AmeriCorps and had just married the man of my dreams, I was devastated and felt the smallest I had ever felt in my life.
Every job “rejection” letter I received and day that passed, I felt worse and worse about myself. My anxiety was at it’s all time highest and my self-worth was at it’s all time lowest. I was addicted to numbing my shame with TV, constant worry, tears, and mindless internet surfing to pass the time.
Without any feeling of purpose, direction or meaning for myself and my life, I couldn’t help but wonder, “Is this really it?” I soon realized that the sheer number of moments, nights, and days I spent agonizing over my current situation wasn’t how I wanted to live my life anymore because it simply wasn’t working. Realizing that if I wanted to change myself and my life, I’d have to change my mindset. This simple shift was a major step forward in this process of change.
Looking back, I can see that the way I reacted to my own pain was actually blocking me from thriving and moving past the unfortunate situation. I am now “out of the woods” of unemployment having since started my own coaching and wellness business helping other young women eliminate their own anxiety and stress and here’s what I tell them about their own situation as having experienced it myself.
1. Shift your Perspective
It’s absolutely imperative that you begin to shift your perspective about what it is that you’re doing and where you are in your life right now. There is a popular saying that you may have heard before that says, “What you focus on grows”. This is true for all of the great and not-so-great things that are happening in our lives. When you focus on what you don’t have and what you’re missing in your life, you are growing that void and expanding the feeling of lack for yourself. The good news is that we can use this mindset shift to begin focusing on what is going well in our lives right now. To start doing this simply ask yourself, “What IS working for me and my life right now?” Doing this doesn’t mean that you’re becoming complacent or that you can’t still work towards your goal, but rather it’s a starting point to give you a fresh, positive outlook on your life.
2. Focus on the progress you’ve made.
In order to prove to ourselves that even though we aren’t exactly where we dream of being, we are still making progress along the way. I encourage you to ask yourself this eye-opening question, “What do I know now that I didn’t know a year ago?” Let yourself take time to contemplate on how far you’ve come by journaling on this question. Sit and write for at least 10 minutes listing all of the things that you KNOW today that you didn’t know a year ago. Not necessarily “accomplishments”, but rather what you’ve learned. This is another form of deepening your perspective shift and start the process of accepting that you HAVE accomplished things, particularly by learning and growing a lot within the last year- usually way more than you give yourself credit for. It’s up to you to choose to look at how far you’ve come verse how far you have yet to go.
3. Find gratitude for the little things.
Gratitude is the opposite of anxiety and depression. When we practice gratitude we bring our attention to the present moment, which is the only place where we can find find true inner peace. Cultivating a simple gratitude practice by journaling five things you’re grateful for first thing in the morning and before you go to sleep at night can change everything for you. Gratitude turns we have into enough. And once we believe that what we have and where are is enough right now then the space has been opened for you to grow into where you want to be.
4. Stop trying so hard to figure it out.
I see this over and over again in my clients (and have been there myself). We can try too hard to figure it out. We can push and push ourselves until we are actually blocking ourselves from being able to see reality and the whole picture of our lives. This idea falls under the notion that we have to be at this seemingly “right” job for us that we believe we should be in. Stop trying so hard to BE where you THINK you should be right now in your life. Release these expectations that you’ve put on yourself and allow yourself be open to the process of your life.
5. Trust the process of your life.
Trust the process of your life and know and believe that where you are is exactly where you are meant to be right now. This can be a process to begin to trust the process of life, but once we stop trying so hard + drop the struggle that we’re creating in our own minds the process itself gets easier. Because you are making it easier. Release your expectations, trust yourself and believe that you’re being divinely guided on your own path in life.
Ultimately the secret to being okay with not being where you to be in your life is change your mindset. Because when we change ourselves, everything else changes.