Beliefs

What To Do When You're Fed Up

Ever feel like you just want to give up? 
Ever find yourself frustrated, walking away from situations and people with the same conclusion each time? 

  • Yup, I knew it- all guys are jerks!
  • This is what happens every time I (apply for a job/try something new/trust people).
  • Things never work out for me.

While those generalizations and takeaways keep us safe, they also keep us stuck. So if you’re ready to rewrite your ending, it’s time you stop blaming the cast, and start getting curious about your role.   

Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.
— Pema Chodron

Let me give you an example:

Years ago, I was in a relationship with the least-punctual man who ever existed. That may sound like a ridiculous claim. ("Amita, have you met every man in the world and timed each of them?") But arriving 2 hours late without sending me a text makes him a definite contender for this prestigious award. Each time he’d be late, I’d tell myself “He’s always late. Guys are the worst! This is the last time I’m dealing with this. He clearly doesn’t love me because if he did, he would get his sh!t together and change.” 

While his punctuality was indeed an issue, the story I was telling myself was the bigger problem. In my narrative, I made his time management struggles about me.

The stories we tell ourselves create safety and order out of situations that feel dangerous or chaotic. When in doubt, many of us (myself included) immediately jump to the “I’m not enough” explanation.

Why? Because there’s comfort in certainty.

The familiarity of my story made it easier to be angry at him rather than feeling the more difficult emotion: vulnerability. The good news is that you don’t have to keep playing old reruns in your head.

You have the power to change your story and choose a better ending.

The next time you’re in a situation when you’re feeling triggered – from a setback to a breakup – use these steps to overcome feelings of anger, shame, or disappointment:

1. Get Curious.

You don’t need to identify your emotions to know they exist. When you’re feeling triggered, (like you’re going from 0-60 in 6 seconds flat) it can be challenging to slow down long enough to label your feelings. Instead, start by tapping into your body by asking yourself:

  • Where do I feel this sensation?
  • What does it feel like?
    • I feel a knot in my stomach or I feel panic in my chest.

2. Engage With It.

Admittedly, this step sucks. You’ll need to tap into your feelings to uncover the narrative. By engaging with your emotions, you’ll get a clearer sense of the story that allows these emotions to stagnate and the situation to repeat itself. For example, If you’re feeling angry that your hard work wasn’t acknowledged, you might be telling yourself, "This team is ridiculous, my boss is a conceited jerk."

3. Collect The Data.

As much as journaling can feel like a chore, the mind-body connection that occurs is transformative. Quickly, without judgment, write out the answers to the following:

  • What story is playing in my head?
    • I never get any credit, I should just quit. Then they’ll see how much they need me.
  • What are my emotions?
    • I feel angry and annoyed.
  • What are my beliefs?
    • I won’t be successful.
  • What actions do I want to take?
    • I want to quit.

You have every right to feel the way you do. If your answers are driven by emotion and self-preservation, chances are there may be some missing facts or faulty logic. When we’re in a heightened emotional state, it can be hard to remember that feelings aren’t facts. By challenging your storyline, you'll begin to uncover what’s really going on.

4. Play Detective.

Grab your make-believe magnifying glass and pick apart your story by asking yourself:

  • What parts of what I wrote are fact and whats part are beliefs?
    • Fact: My name wasn’t mentioned in the meeting. But, when I gave my boss my part of the project, he was receptive to my ideas and seemed grateful.
    • Belief: I never get any credit. I won't be successful.
  • What additional information would be helpful to know?
    • What my boss thinks about my potential for growth at this company.
  • What was my role in this situation and how do I feel about t? 
    • I feel like I’m not good enough. I never ask for his opinion about my performance because I feel scared of what I might hear. I could try asking his opinion and seeing what happens. 

Most of us use anger and resentment to cover up our insecurities. Discovering the underlying stories that keep us stuck teaches us how we confirm our negative beliefs, rather than challenging them.  The truths we uncover are often uncomfortable. But, discomfort is where all the magic and growth happens.

The Takeaway:

Knowing how you keep yourself stuck will help you to stop repeating the same old story. It will give you the freedom to take action that’s truly aligned with where you want to go and who you want to be.

Knowledge isn’t Power. This Is.

AreYouAware

I’m the first to admit that dating me is not a walk in the park.

In fact, it’s more like a walk in quicksand. It seems pretty great and then before you know it, shit gets very real and very deep.

See, most of what makes me difficult is my incessant need to be right. I don’t care if we’re debating the merits of $10 smoothies or whether I can run faster than the record holder for walking marathons, I like to win. (Those were both very real arguments I’ve had, by the way).

Admittedly, neither of these topics mattered, yet I fought with such tenacity that you’d think we were arguing about life-or-death concerns. And while I will never run a marathon faster than Yohann Diniz can walk 50km (in 3:32:33), I was fighting to prove more than my “rightness.” I was fighting to assert that I had value. And while I knew that my insecurities came out in crazy ways, I couldn’t help myself. Why?

Knowing you want to change a behavior is not enough to fix it. It takes true awareness.

If knowledge were truly power, then we’d all be able to read a book and excel in every area of our lives. The truth is that knowledge doesn’t mean shit. Awareness and conscious choice are the true drivers of change.

So how do you go from autopilot to conscious choice?

1. Start with your beliefs.

Take a look at the things you hold to be true about yourself, your partner, your life, etc. Do this by completing the following sentences:

  • I am ______.
  • The world is ______.
  • Relationships are ______.

2. Watch how you confirm those beliefs.

As we go through the world, information passes through an internal filter that either deletes, distorts, or generalizes what we perceive. This has positive and negative consequences. Since we’re hardwired to feel safe, we unconsciously try our best to eliminate any information that challenges the safety of certainty. This is true even when (and especially when) our beliefs are negative. For example, when I believed I was not worthy of love, I only saw the negative things people would do. I was only attracted to or attracted men who treated me as though I were unworthy. And when someone good came along, I’d act in a way that forced them to confirm my belief (ex. I’d pick fights and then get upset when he’d pull back.) To change this, you must look at how your beliefs play out from thought to reality, from start to finish.

3. Accept responsibility.

This is usually the part no one likes to hear. To be clear, this does not mean you should blame yourself. Accepting responsibility is THE MOST empowering step because it allows you to take charge of your life. Taking responsibility means not externalizing the events of your life. For example, years ago I dated a man who was a narcissist. Taking responsibility for this does not mean I deserved this or that I condone his behaviors. It means I see how my belief that I was not good enough resulted in my choosing someone who confirmed my fear. When we avoid responsibility, we repeat our mistakes over and over again. Nothing changes until we have the awareness to learn from it. Personally, I’d rather make new mistakes rather than repeat the old ones.

4. Choose the results you want.

This is where the magic happens. One you watch your process with awareness (from belief to outcome) you have the power of choice. True awareness makes it nearly impossible to continue behaviors that don’t serve you. In this step, instead of focusing on the actions to take, focus on the outcomes you want to create. 

5. Change your beliefs to change your outcomes.

Changing your beliefs isn’t easy. And it doesn’t come from trying to find evidence to the contrary. Why? Because if you believe something, you’ve amassed evidence to confirm it (See point #2). To change your beliefs, you need to reverse-engineer them. You can do this by choosing the outcome you want and adopting the beliefs that give you what you want. For every outcome, there is a belief that gets you there. Determine the root belief and act as if you were someone who has that belief. For example, someone who has a loving relationship believes that they are deserving of love. What are the actions a person who believes they deserve love take? Are they good at setting boundaries?  Do they they prioritize self-care? Are they effective communicators? 

Belief + Complementary Actions = Desired Outcome

Beliefs don’t just happen. They take time to develop, whether consciously or unconsciously. When they are examined with awareness, you have the power to create the behaviors, the outcomes, and the life that you desire.  And while it may seem like a lot of work to change your beliefs, I ask you this: Are your beliefs doing you any favors? Cause if they aren’t, it’s time to make them work for you instead of against you.