3 Great Tips for Truly Changing Your Life for the Better in 2013
by Wendy Keller, a woman who cares
Here we are, all fresh and hopeful. It’s a brand new year and if last year was tough on you, you’re certainly hoping things will get better this trip around the calendar.
Hoping is nice, but there is some doing that usually needs to accompany it if you’re going to get results. If you suffered trauma, disaster, tragedy, loss, sorrow, great pain (emotional or physical) or any other serious problem last year, here are three tips to help you realistically get this year going right.
Recognize that just because terrible, bad things happened to you before, it doesn’t necessarily mean they will again. One part of “post-traumatic stress disorder” (PTSD) is that we tend to get in a pattern of thinking unhappy, negative, low thoughts. Depending on the severity and nature of the PTSD, you might be jumpy or even waiting for the next bad thing to happen. Kind of like Eeyore in Winnie the Pooh.
Here’s the GOOD news: if waiting for the next disaster, trauma or tragedy in your life causes you to physically prepare, like buying insurance or packing an emergency preparedness kit, then by all means take the right action and use this bad thing that happened to minimize your risk when/if the next thing comes.
But here’s the BAD news: if you’ve already taken the only preventative or preparatory actions possible, then waiting for the next bad thing to happen is, well, just plain old bad. Bad for you. Bad for the people around you. Bad for your body. Bad for your future. So ya gotta start to let it go. You can’t pour more water into a glass that’s already full. If your heart is stuffed with fear and drama, trauma and sorrow, there’s no room for any good things to fit in. Only you can control the quantity and nature of the substance in your glass.
The way to STOP waiting for bad things to happen is to talk yourself out of the trees, so to speak. Imagine your scared, angry, traumatized little self is like a house cat that got scared up a tree by a Rottweiler. Speaking as if you are the calm, rational cat owner who wants to coax the frightened animal down now that the big, mean dog is out of sight. What would you say? This sounds dumb, right? But try it! Write a note or speak out loud to the part of yourself that’s scared up a tree.
Ideas you might elaborate on:
“Look! Look around! The danger has passed. What happened happened. Now let’s get to work on dealing with the aftermath. Come on down.”
“Way up there, nothing can reach you – nothing bad but also nothing good. Why don’t you make your way down here and let the strong, good, brave part of us slowly find ways to get the help we need to put our life back together, maybe even better than before?”
“Yes, kitty. There are big mean dogs in the world. There might be bad dogs chasing you again someday. But right now, in this present moment, he’s over barking at the Johnson’s. Why don’t you come on down here and let’s live our life fully and joyfully. We’re alive in this moment, so we may as well make the best of it.”
What ideas could YOU come up with to literally talk yourself out of being terrified of life? (PS – no shame in that! Those who have been traumatized have earned the right to be terrified of life.) Sometimes, especially for guys, terror shows up as anger. But the problem for you personally comes when you stay in terror, fear or anger. That’s when the trauma keeps on creating ripples of pain throughout the rest of your lifetime. Gotta talk yourself out of it – there’s no one else living inside your head except you.
Life may have scared your cat up the tree, but only the calm, brave, rational part of yourself can talk you back down.
You already have the secret to your success. Even if you’re in the middle of a complete life melt-down, you have within you the keys to get through it and transform this year – and the future ones. That sounds like bull poopies coming from most people, but regular readers know some of the traumas I’ve survived. So let me explain why this stupid, irritating platitude-sounding truth is actually true.
Because this whole life is an inside game. The only difference between people who get permanently squashed by life (and end up permanently on the streets, committing suicide, in a mental institution, etc.) and those of us who manage to slither through the muck of life is this: how we think. Really. It’s an illusion that the outside circumstances control us. I hate this truth, but it is true.
Your control of your mental focus is what will help or slow your progress toward recovery, and even determine if it happens at all. People who look at those of us who made it through and say, “Wow, you’re so strong!” are missing the point entirely.
NOBODY STARTS OUT STRONG! This stuff is what makes you strong if you keep crawling, slithering, struggling through it. You build mental muscles, patterns of thought, the ability to fight off negative thoughts and feelings.
I’m surely not a proponent of pretending the bad stuff never happened. That’s a recipe for psychosis and cancer, if you ask me. You must take time to feel the feelings. But you can’t stay there forever.
What I AM saying is that even while you’re going through the horrible part of your life, by choosing to believe things might get better, you give yourself a smidgen of hope. Hope can grow if you stoke it.
And even while you’re suffering the aftermath of the worst events of your life, by choosing to look in the mirror and say, “I’m still alive this morning. I may as well make the best of today” you can inch your way through this muck. And while you’re doing that, you’re actually building the muscles. Someday, people will tell you,”Wow! You’re so strong!” and you can smile inside and realize what you had to go through bit by tiny, agonizing bit to get “so strong”.
These three tips are not for the happy people of the world, obviously. They don’t need them right now – and hopefully they never will.
But for those of us who have stared into the abyss of life, who have touched death and the depths of anguish, these are real strategies that if you use them, you can make the coming year better – happier, yes. More peaceful, yes. Because instead of sitting around reminding yourself that you are a victim, you are doing something to improve the quality of your mental life.
Happy 2013, my friends!
You have the power to make this year better – you have the knowledge to make this year better – now apply it and watch the amazing results.
12 thoughts on “How to Make a Happier New Year For Yourself”
Beronica Regalado says:
Thank you so much for sharing these comforting words and tips. The article was truley inspiring. God Bless.
May the new year overflow with love, joy, peace and abundance for you.
Thanks.. Just what I needed to read to push myself..I promise to go forward in 2013.
Good for you, Archana! And may your public promise be upheld daily. We’re cheering for you!
Just what I needed to read! I’ve made myself a promise that I will fight the fears within me this year! Thank you for your New Years gift! Happy 2013!
Thanks Nancy! I wish you a new year filled with joy, peace and love.
Thank you Wendy! 2012 was a terrible year for me. I hit way below rock bottom emotionally speaking. But I know one thing for sure and that is everyday I tell my self I don’t want to live in pain anymore and I don’t want to hold on to any grudges from the past. I want to leave the hurts and disappointments behind. I have given myself time to feel all the negative feelings, but for sure I know I don’t want to stay with these feelings forever. Thank you for giving me hope!
Sounds like you’re on the right road! Congratulations! Wishing you a new year filled with joy, peace and love.
Thank you Wendy, for always being real. I am learning to cope with my tragedy and your wise words give me lots of insight. I share this site with others who are seeking answers also.
Thanks, Linda! May this year bring you peace, love, and joy abundantly.
this is spot on. i cannot tell you how this blog post has touched me. i posted it when i saw it on my feed, for my friends. but then, i hit a low as i had not hit in many many years. i dug up this article and today i posted it again and swore i would read and re-read it until i could either recite it or i felt better, whichever came first.
thank you for the blunt truth of it all. thank you for pulling no punches. thank you for knowing what it effin’ feels like. and thank you for being real.
Sorry to hear you’ve been feeling so down. I think most readers of this blog, and indeed most honest humans, would admit to sometimes feeling that way. It’s too bad that it’s your turn, but it does seem to me like the storm always ends eventually and sun comes back out.
I sincerely hope that somehow, 2013 turns out to be your happiest, most peaceful, most abundant year yet.