Monday, March 16, 2009

Tomorrow is Tomorrow

Most self-help books will tell you when you are feeling bad to remind yourself that tomorrow is another day. And so it is. But if you expect that tomorrow will be any different from today, and then continue to do the same things and think the same thoughts, then you are in for a sad surprise.

Tomorrow is tomorrow. It is the day after the one you are living today. It has the potential to be the most amazing day you have ever experienced. But potential can only be realised with at least a little bit of effort. Coasting into tomorrow on the winds of today will only guarantee you more of the same. Which is fine if you are going in a direction that you want to be going.

If you are stalled, or going in the wrong direction, then your experience will only change with a bit of a nudge. Often, you will get the nudge from an unexpected source, and find yourself riding the currents of an adventure, pleasant or otherwise.

And therein lies the danger of leaving yourself at the whim of life. You can never really be sure which direction it will take you, left to its own devices. So taking control of the ‘nudge factor’ on a daily basis will help keep you aligned to where you want to be. That will help keep ‘tomorrow’ a positive place.

If you don’t have a clue what tomorrow might hold for you, or if you are sure it has nothing good in store, why would you look forward to it? Sure, it’s a blank page, but if your mind is ready with lots of negative things to fill it with, tomorrow is hardly an appealing destination.

So how do you become your own ‘nudger’? Well, it’s important to remember to be gentle with yourself. You want to give yourself a nudge, not a shove. It might be true that you need a shove, particularly if you have settled into an easy, but ultimately unhappy groove. That is not what we are talking about here, though. We will discuss how and when to shove a little later. For now, we are focussing on the everyday thoughts and feelings that help put hope into life.

To have hope is to have some sense that things will work out ok, regardless of how we might think or feel right now. With that underlying foundation, enduring the bleak times becomes much easier. So remind yourself that, from a larger perspective than it will ever be possible for you to see, things actually will work out ok. Time will continue and one way or another the dramas we agonise over will resolve themselves and we will either experience them or not. Time will continue and we will have new and sexier dramas to agonise over, and we will either experience them or not.

Think about what makes you happy and where you want your life to be. What are the important aspects of that picture? The big-ticket items that would dissolve the whole rosy scene should they disappear? For most people, those things are family and loved ones, fulfilling work, a comfortable place to live. They are different for everybody, though. These are the things that you should nudge your life towards. Spend time and energy solidifying those things in your life.

This is really very simple. It just involves spending some time and energy on those things. Your home is important to you? Spend time gardening or decorating. Family important? Spend time having new adventures, exploring new places with your children.

But here is the important part. Enjoy it in the moment. Revel in the experience of enjoying something that is central to your life. Catch yourself and notice that you are smiling as you watch your baby waddle past with his wet nappy sagging down to his knees. Enjoy that moment consciously, before you pick him up and change him. It will make the quality of your interaction with him a little bit more delicious.

Your day is made up of countless moments that can be savoured and turned into tiny boosts to your spirit. This can translate into a massive boost to your mood that will travel with you wherever you choose to go.

So you’re a grumpy shit
Sometimes we behave in ways that we know, even as we are acting, are not going to accomplish our goals. Moods can overcome us and we find ourselves snapping at co-workers or family, and instantly feeling guilty about it. The guilt doesn’t necessarily stop us from continuing the behaviour, though. In fact, it can lead directly to more of the same as we turn in a self-fulfilling spiral of shame and vigorous denial.

We can rationalise the behaviour away with ‘I didn’t get enough sleep last night”, or “I’m under enormous amounts of stress right now”, but that doesn’t stop the guilt, either. So a vicious cycle of guilt and grump develops.

So you realise that you are grumpy and don’t want to be, but feel caught up in the emotion of it all. What to?

Start by relaxing. So what if you are a bit grumpy. We are working on changing that, so don’t stress. You are a work in progress, remember?

It may be a cliché, but it’s also true. Every human is working on becoming who they are (whether they know it or not), and every human has moments when they are not exactly showing the world their best. So what? Move on.

Do make amends if you have really screwed up or really been a shit, but don’t dwell.

Beating yourself up over being less than you want to be is like being angry with a child for falling over while she learns to walk. Remind yourself that you are only showing the world a small part of who you are right now, and living a full life includes letting out sides of yourself that you might not be thrilled with.

How else do you expect to learn about all of who are if you don’t even want to meet the bits of you that you know you wont like.

Everyone has aspects of themselves that they keep hidden – not just from others, but most importantly from themselves. These are the things that will usually pop up and bite us in the bum when we can least use it.

An interesting thing to realise about these horrible parts of us is that while you might think that you are keeping them hidden, the reality is that it is they that are keeping you hidden.

The things that we judge most harshly about ourselves help keep us locked in a life that we don’t want to be living. If we have too many dark and mysterious parts, they eventually close in on us, making our world very small indeed and preventing us from doing the things that we want to do with life. Hiding from the world who it is we really are.

More often than not, people will opt for the safe option of blocking out or avoiding the things about themselves that they find most difficult or confronting to feel. Avoidance as a strategy can be very productive. It can produce the sort of life that will have you standing on constantly shifting ground and will make certain that you are never quite sure you have a handle on your life.

If this is not the type of productivity you are after, it is probably wiser to develop a healthy relationship with all of your alter egos. And that will mean letting them out from time to time.

The key is to try and find the right worker for the right job. If you are intimately acquainted with all of the aspects of yourself, it will be easier to find a response to the world that fits both you and the situation at any given time.

Anger may well be your best response in a given situation, but if you are used to blocking or avoiding any angry feelings, you will never feel comfortable having an honest angry response. This makes it very easy for that screeching banshee bitch – the one that surprises you every time you get really angry - to appear and take over for you.

By actively, consciously getting to know every part of yourself - even the parts that you don’t think you like – the prospect of being unhappily surprised by your own behaviour can become less of a concern.

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Author:
Neurons works online from where ever she happens to be a the time.Learn how you can do it, too, by visiting www.neurons.ws or www.livedontwork.com.

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