It takes courage to always guard your limits and not be influenced by the environment. It means vigilance not to be taken in by negative thoughts. It is an art to be completely yourself at all times.
For years I was looking for how to be myself. Self-help books, well-intentioned advice and frustrating experiences led me to one simple question: ‘How do I stay close to myself?’
To follow your path you need to know where your limits are. What doesn’t feel right, what does suit you, what are you literally and figuratively bumping into?
When you can see a boundary as a clue, you see what you don’t want and how you can get closer to what you do want. Blaming yourself can make sure that you don’t stick to yourself and end up in a negative spiral. In short, the event does not seem like a lesson but takes you further from home.
Event – thoughts – emotions – behavior
The event has already happened, leading to certain thoughts such as ‘I’m doing it wrong’, ‘If only I had…’ or ‘I can’t take care of myself’.
Immediately from the happening comes that little dark whispering voice that tries to force its truth on you. You automatically link those thoughts to the catastrophic event for you at that moment.
This triggers a mechanism, namely your emotions reacting to your thoughts. Anger and sadness may be released, which together amplify that whispering voice that makes you seem mentally confirmed in the failure.
This also translates to your behavior: you start to behave according to those thoughts and your emotions swirl through you uncontrollably. Your shoulders slump, your breathing becomes shallow, your countenance becomes dejected, and it doesn’t take much to shake you.
This makes you so far away from yourself that you have to find your way home through the dark with a match. Or not…?
The environment as a mirror
Everything that happens inside at such a moment, in your head and in your body, has an impact on your environment. Your environment is your mirror: it mirrors your behavior in events or people around you. For example, if you are stressed or angry, you will be presented with situations that reinforce these emotion(s). You know it, you oversleep in the morning and you run behind the facts all day, which increases your annoyance. Or your child is in an ‘annoying’ mood and craves cookies in the supermarket.
In short, everything is not going the way you want and getting rid of this is difficult. That causes frustration, because no matter how hard you try, you drift away from yourself.
Awareness to break the circle
How do you get out of this destructive chain reaction? In fact, those situations keep mirroring themselves to you until you start to relate differently. Therefore, you should see your problems as your greatest friend and not enemy. Because they give you insight into certain patterns that you want to break. This way you know what you want different and every change starts with awareness.
Stay closer to yourself in 3 steps
The step-by-step plan shown below can help you get out of that situation and thus break the negative spiral.
1. Awareness of your thoughts
It starts with the awareness of your thoughts, which influence how you relate to the outside world and which influence your self-image. Try to consciously observe your thoughts. Do they add, serve you, or is the opposite true? Realize that you have a choice whether or not to be led by negative thoughts: the ‘whisper voice’.
2. With both feet on the ground
This way you are stronger and you can better manage your emotions. Before feelings of anger or sadness bubble up, take a conscious breath and feel your feet on the ground.
Connect to the ground beneath your feet. That way you don’t just get blown away by emotions. What it can also give you is a sense of decisiveness in response to the event.
3. Finally… reward
Give yourself a moment where you get energy to move on. Agree with yourself to have a nice moment for yourself that day of at least fifteen minutes. Watch your favorite series, enjoy a fresh cup of coffee. That way you get into a nice flow. You should be proud of yourself that you recognized your limits (in retrospect) and that you tried not to be touched by thoughts that bring you down and emotions that overtake you.
What can you expect?
If you reflect to others that you are far from yourself, there remains room and opportunity to test you. You are still far from yourself, so thoughts, emotions, boundaries or opinions of others can easily upset you. Recognizing what is against you indirectly says a lot about what will nourish you.
When you take the lead in your life, with the help of the described steps, a beautiful personal growth can arise, which you then propagate to the outside. A confident person with a healthy dose of self-confidence commands respect from the environment.
Give yourself the space to work on yourself and to learn to live life based on your personal conviction.