Susan Duncan

I am in the fortunate position of knowing how life “really is” for most people. I hear the secrets of their past, the pain of their present, and their fear of the future. I hear what really goes on for them in between their ears and about their daily work to keep enough balance lest it implode or explode.

There is not a person out there that does not struggle. If there is someone who is telling you that they do not struggle, look at their relationships and you will find the truth. Struggling is a part of being alive – it is part of the proof that you are alive. Even if you choose to blame your struggles on others or on life circumstances or on the weather, it is still struggle.

My point in all of this is that sometimes I think it should be easier. Sometimes I look at people I admire and I think, “why does it seem so easy for them?” “I want to be more enlightened or more popular or more well-spoken.”, etc. And then I begin to feel like I’m not as good as them – not only that I’m not as talented, but that somehow I’m not as worthy. And then I know I’m really in trouble.

There is not a person on this earth who is more or less worthy than you. This is a really really difficult concept to embrace when we have judging brains and a social system made up of capitalism, competition, and haves and have-nots. But when you have true empathy at its core, you begin to see that we’re all on this boat together. And although someone may be a better architect or have more letters after their name or have longer legs, they do not have any more of a right to breathe the air we breathe, have a stronger opinion, or take up more space (physically, emotionally, or psychically).

I am drawn to certain people because they encourage me to grow and learn and live with greater integrity. If I then use them as a means to judge myself, that defeats the purpose. And, just because I am not “there” (wherever “there” is) yet on my spiritual or professional journey, it does not mean I am less of a person. It also does not mean that they are necessarily “further along” or do not struggle.

Today I am going to believe my life has purpose and meaning. Today I am going to allow my struggle to remind me that I am just like you and you are just like me. Thank goodness I am not alone.

If I can do it, you can do it.

 

“Oh, God, I struggle with low self-esteem all the time! I think everyone does. I have so much wrong with me, it’s unbelievable!” – Angelina Jolie

“I have always fought for ideas – until I learned that it isn’t ideas but grief, struggle, and flashes of vision which enlighten.” – Margaret Anderson

 

Our bodies and brains need us to take care of them. They need a certain amount of sleep, good, healthy food, and exercise to work at their best. If we are not doing all of these things, we are not working at our best. The consequences of this are plentiful – irritability, depression, inattention, impulse control issues, moodiness, sluggishness, anxiety, procrastination, weight problems, heart and other health problems, stress… need I say more?

Perfection is not needed in these areas. Do not set yourself up for failure. (“I don’t have time to go to the gym for an hour, so I’m not going to go at all.”) Set your goals small and obtainable. After reaching your goals for 1-2 weeks, increase them. If you slide out of the habit, start again with small obtainable goals. Each moment of every day you get the opportunity to start anew.

Health professionals recommend that adults get 75 minutes of rigorous exercise a week. That is about 11 minutes a day. Can you jump rope or run around the block for 11 minutes a day? Start with 1 or 2 minutes and work your way up. Something is better than nothing.

For healthy exercise standards, go to http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/exercise/AN01713

Adults need 7-9 hours of sleep a night. Only you know how much sleep enables you to function at your best. Set a goal of increasing or decreasing the amount of time you spend in bed each night by 5 minutes.

To view healthy sleep requirements, go to http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/how-many-hours-of-sleep-are-enough/AN01487

To learn some ways to improve your sleep habits, go to http://www.helpguide.org/life/sleep_tips.htm

For a personalized healthy eating regime, see a nutritionist.

Hire a life coach to help with the follow-through and accountability.

If I can do it, you can do it!

 “To keep the body in good health is a duty… otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.” – Buddha

 

 

Do you ever have something to do that just seems too difficult? Maybe you just aren’t in the mood. Maybe you’re really tired. Maybe it’s a task for someone else that seems pointless. How do you respond when this comes up for you?

Do you procrastinate – putting it off to some imagined time when you will be more in the mood to do it?

Do you lay down and take a nap hoping that this will lift your energy enough to do it?

Do you make excuses to those you are accountable to as to why you didn’t do it or why it’s not a priority? Do you try to talk your way out of it?

Do you ignore it, hoping that no one will notice, or that in the end it really won’t matter?

Well, I am here to tell you that if you want to reach your goals, procrastination, napping, making excuses, and ignoring the issue will not help you in your quest.

Sometimes goals seem insurmountable. When I start to feel this way, I break down my goal into small obtainable tasks. Sometimes I have to break down the goal into a task that may seem silly or senseless, but in my view, once I have forward momentum, the rest will take care of itself. Also, when I complete a task, no matter how small, I gain a sense of accomplishment which motivates me to continue on.

This is how I tackle my fitness regime. I love the way I feel after I have completed a run. I am no marathon runner nor do I go very fast, but my days are always better when I go for a run. I gain uninterrupted time to work through issues or let go of stress, and I get the “high” of the endorphins that are released in my brain while I run. I love this. I need this.

However, the process of actually getting me to go running, despite all of these wonderful benefits, is sometimes difficult. The whiny voice in the back of my head begins “I’m too tired. I don’t want to. I don’t care”, etc. I feel defeated before I even get up off the couch.

This is the point where I have learned to break it down. I begin to make deals with myself as I break down the “insurmountable” goal of running into baby steps.  First, I decide that all I have to do is change my clothes. I just have to put my running clothes on, and then if I want to lie down on the couch, I can. Once my running clothes are on, I tell myself that I just need to walk outside and take a deep breath. If I then still want to do something else, I can. With each of these “accomplishments”,  I gain momentum. My next goal is to just run to the end of the street. If I decide at that point I want to return home and take a nap, I give myself permission. And then I go running. And then I get all of the positive effects that the running gives me – including more energy.

Break things down into small doable steps. Even if these baby steps seem ridiculous, your brain will like this game. You will learn to procrastinate less and practice success more.

If I can do it, you can do it!

 

 “Procrastination is one of the most common and deadliest of diseases and its toll on success and happiness is heavy.” – Wayne Gretzky

 

 

 

 

We are the only species that endures consequences for our mistakes/shortcomings more than one time. We do something that we consider imperfect or we fall short of our expectations, and then we spend much of our time berating ourselves for our “failures”.

Put the bat away. Stop beating yourself up. This is one of the most unproductive ways that our brains believe they are helping us when they are not. Our brains think that if they make us feel really badly about our actions (releasing chemicals that make us feel negative feelings and deplete our energy), we will not repeat the actions. This is completely nonsensical.

Productive thought is simple. Walk through the scenario once, maybe twice and ask yourself these questions:

1 – Given the information that I had available to me at the time, did I do my best?

2 – Given the information that I have now (hindsight), is there anything I can do to amend the situation (apologize, clean up the mess, set a boundary, forgive, etc.)?

3 – How can I behave differently in the future should this scenario present itself again?

4 – Am I willing to commit to practice behaving differently should this come up again?

I sometimes beat myself up for not “doing” enough. I have friends that work full-time, are full-time parents, write books, travel to exotic locations, and cook dinner every night for their families. While my daughter prefers the snack-type meals that I prepare for her, I sometimes feel “less than” those who appear to be doing more. I have to continually remind myself that I am doing my best. I am doing my best to manage my time. I am doing my best to define who I am and set my priorities accordingly. I am not everybody else; I am me. I am good enough. I am doing enough.

What good is an accomplishment if the road getting there is full of self-flagulation?

If I can do it, you can do it!

“The point isn’t to live without any regrets. The point is to not hate ourselves for having them.” – Kathryn Schulz

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