Why You Could End Up With The Suburban House and The White Picket Fence Even If You Don’t Want Them

We are a generation of possibilities. We connect with people across oceans with ease, we learn multiple languages and we have access to the world’s knowledge at our fingertips. So why will most of us end up in a similar circumstance as our parents? Because of human needs haven’t changed. The white picket fence in the suburbs with the trophy wife/husband is so appealing because it satisfies our fundamental human need for control. If you take a look at anything that is making you unhappy in your life, chances are you feel like you don’t have control over that situation. Circumstances of financial distress, marital conflicts, sickness, breakups, and even deaths are so emotionally overwhelming because we often have little to no control over these situations.

Humans crave control because of our long history of uncertainty. The potential for famine after a storm was great, so we stayed in one place for our entire lives because we understood the weather and the wildlife. If we ventured out of our comfort zone we might even get eaten alive. So, even though the world feels like an ocean of possibilities, we hesitate and we settle.

A lack of control can be debilitating and tends to manifest itself physically in sadness or exhaustion. To take back control over our lives we reach back for the comfort of the familiar, of the skills we have already developed, or of a life we have already seen our parents live.

When we can’t retreat to our comfort zone or our goals demand that we push past our comfort zone, how do we escape our very nature of fight or flight back to the nest?

  1. Take back control: Find an area of your life where the end result will satisfy your need for control. I didn’t exercise before, but I found that the satisfaction of choosing to workout and following through greatly helped relieve some of the stress during financially difficult times. For the same reason, investing your energy in a project or work is a great way to overcome a breakup or other emotional hardships.
  1. Write it down: Having negative emotions can feel like carrying around a whip which you use to flog yourself every 5 minutes. Put down the whip. If it’s a situation you have no control over, write down your negative thoughts every night before bed. After a few days you will either realize you have more control over the situation than you previously thought, or you will accept it and move on. 
  1. Make a plan: At simple as it may sound, making plans to solve a problem satisfies our need for control. Just expressing a plan of action to another person gives us the sense of having achieved it.
  1. Appreciate your options: Studies in positive psychology have demonstrated the power of gratitude to bring about happiness and emotional stability. Realizing we have access to a world of opportunities can allow us to breath a sigh of relief. There is always another way of making money, another form of therapy to try, another potential partner, another support system to find comfort in, new people to meet, and the list goes on!
  1. Turn lemons into lemonade: Along the same lines, realize the positive opportunities in your struggles. Being fired can be an opportunity to explore entrepreneurship, breaking up can mean learning to be single and love yourself and so on. Rock bottom means you have nowhere to go but up!
  1. Let go. Losing control goes against every instinct we have. Recognize the feeling of powerlessness and surrender to it. Learn to flow with whatever the universe brings. 

The most powerful step towards happiness is recognizing that CONTROL is what you are missing. Once we comprehend that our unhappiness or dissatisfaction stems from a lack stability and control, we can confront the situation from a different angle and create a plan of action that actually solves the problem.

Let me know in the comments below if you’re struggling with gaining back control and what strategies have worked for you.

Advertisements

I don’t! Therefore, I can’t.

“Argue for your limitations and they’re yours.” –Richard Bach

The words we speak and think have a profound impact on our bodies and what we achieve and create in our lives, just ask Seth Godin. So, what is the story you tell others about yourself? Is telling people you don’t have a good memory helping you overcome that problem or is it a means of giving yourself permission to be forgetful? By telling our mind and body what our limitations are we are turning those limitations into reality.

HELP! The Storytellers Recovery Plan:

  1. Think about who you say you are. Write down a list of all the stories you have told others about who you are and those that you tell yourself in private about your own limitations and characteristics.
  1. Stop it. Seriously, stop it. Catch yourself in the process of creating a limiting mentality.
  1. Turn Can’ts into Don’ts. Example: “I don’t eat carbs after 8pm” is a strong statement that ties your goals to who you are by creating a new story about what this new version of (insert name here) does and doesn’t do.
  1. Turn “I’m bad at…” into “Everyday I’m getting better at…” Example: “I’m working hard at improving my memory and I’m getting a little better each day.” This statement tells your subconscious mind that you’ve got this! This isn’t a flaw! This is just one area of your life you are working to improve.
  1. Now write a list of statements about WHO YOU WANT TO BE that includes all the don’ts and dos and I’m working on’s. This list should that take into consideration the person you most desire to be.
  1. Believe it! Affirm it in the mornings while looking at yourself in the mirror. It sounds silly doesn’t it? But seeing yourself say “I am a great public speaker” or “Everyday my memory is improving”

Practical tip: Use a dry-erase marker to write your affirmations on your bathroom mirror so you can repeat them every morning and every night!

This article has a list of affirmations you can use to get you started: 35 Affirmations That Will Change Your Life via The Huffington Post

Look out for my next post on how to write affirmations in 6 easy steps! 

Failure Defined

When did we forget how to fail? Was it around the time we start getting grades and fearing that giant red F? How easily we forget the struggle to walk, to write, to read, to pronounce words, to ride a bike, to draw inside the lines, to feed ourselves, to drink out of a cup, to tie our shoes… Why is failure so traumatic if it is such a fundamental part of the human experience? Anyone who finds success on his or her own terms learns that failure is not real unless you let it define you. The only way we truly fail is by calling it a failure, by attributing negative emotions to the learning process and making excuses for why we can’t overcome the obstacles in our way. I suppose it has to do with never seeing the struggles people endure to arrive at success. Even if we read or hear about someone’s struggle, it is still a foreign emotion to our own experience, so it doesn’t touch us in quite the same way. Our struggles will always feel more real, but if we remember that failure is only a word that we alone can give a definition to, we can set ourselves free.