10 Years of Learning… 1 BIG lesson!

‘Did you really have a bad day or did you have a bad 5 minutes that you milked all day?’

I love that saying…it rang so true with me when I first heard it! There were so many times I would drive down to a rehearsal and get stuck behind so many incredibly slow drivers and I would be so frustrated by the time I got there that I would bring all my negative energy and complaining into rehearsals…and then I realised what I was doing and was furious with myself. Just because my journey to work had been frustrating did not mean I had any right to bring pointless complaining into a room full of wonderful people who, no doubt, have all their own shit going on yet are happy and excited to be in rehearsals.

Have you ever had one of those days, weeks or months (hopefully not years!) where everything just kept going wrong, shit kept landing in your lap, no matter what you did it wasn’t right, you seemed destined to get stuck behind every slow driver in the country, that the world was against you and that, sometimes, you would love to just disappear for a while and take a break from all the shit?

Allow me to let you in on a secret, everyone has felt like at least one of these things during at least one point in their lives, we’ve all felt at some point that the Universe is stacked against us.

We live in a world of fast-paced chaos. Although we try to be organised and leave the house on time, we plan everything out and think things through, sometimes everything can just feel like it’s all just too much. Does this mean that we are inadequate? Does it mean we should just stop and let someone else deal with the crazy shit? Does it mean we should give in to the niggly voices in our head that tell us that we just aren’t able and to ‘leave it to the experts’? Of course not! What it could mean is that we are letting our emotions run our daily routines for us. Everything we feel is a reaction to something, although we cannot always choose the actions that befall us we can ALWAYS choose our reaction to it.

For a long long time, I believed that it was just life to be ruled by my emotions, that my emotions would dictate what kind of a day I had. It was life and fate if I had a good day or a bad day and my emotions were just how I ‘processed’ what was happening. Then one day I woke up and realised that if I kept following the thought processes I was following, and kept feeling the way I was feeling, I would lead myself into an early grave. There are endless amounts of research to prove that we have control over our thoughts, our emotions and, consequently, our actions.

Now, although 100% still in the learning process, I have learned that we control our emotions, our reactions and how we experience our day to day schedule. Yes, sometimes it can feel like the world is weighing heavy on our shoulders but how do we react to that? Do we soak up the emotion and just let it be or do we react to that thought? The Me of the past, Past Self, would have soaked it up, Present Self knows better. Past Self would have sat and wallowed and taken a few days or weeks of thinking ‘things will get better in time’, Present Self knows that things get better when we take control and make them better.

We often hear stories of people who have achieved phenomenal things in their lives, the ‘rags to riches’ stories where the most unlikely people push through the most incredible challenges facing them. I often wonder, if I was in the same starting position, how would I do? How would I act? How would I think? Would I give in to the hand life had dealt me or would I be grateful for the breath in my lungs and a beating heart and work like I have never worked before? Honestly, I don’t know. So often when we hear these stories we have a strange habit of begrudging these people, assuming that they had some sort of ‘special luck’ befall them, that they must have sort of hidden super-power or perhaps the whole thing is just made up. Well…one thing is for sure, they don’t have incredible superpowers, and I believe that we make our own luck. Begrudging others and what others have is a sure-fire way of bringing yourself bad luck, what we put out into the world will come back on us ten-fold so why would we put negative thoughts out there?

Have you ever heard the phrase ‘the more you are grateful for, the more you will have to be grateful for’? Honestly, I have no idea who coined this phrase or how far back this form of thinking goes but one thing I know for sure is that when we focus on all the horrific and challenging things happening in our lives and all around us, when we allow ourselves to become overwhelmed by the obstacles and difficulties and let our emotions control every reaction to every negative… we will find little to be grateful for and the odds can feel stacked against us. When the world feels against us, it can be so, so hard to find a reason to keep moving forward because nothing will work out anyway.

However, when we focus on the beautiful things in life that we can be grateful for, the roof over our head, the friends we choose to have, the rain for watering the plants, the sun for the smiles it brings, even if it’s as simple as being granted another day of life when we wake up, our minds get into a wonderful habit of looking for the good, the possibilities and opportunities rather than focusing on the obstacles that may appear to be in our way. It might sound ridiculous, I know. There have been many times in my short life where I have felt like the world was against me and I just kept struggling through, reacting emotionally, focusing on the obstacles rather than looking for the solution, allowing the world to dictate what happened each day…but a part of me has always put my head down and worked, kept moving forward, working towards goals and keeping a smile on my face because do you know what? If we smile often enough we eventually begin to believe that smile. Through the ‘trauma’ of being a teenager, moving across the world, having our lives turned upside down, I built a facade of positive bubbles, a facade I could hide behind when I didn’t want people knowing what was really going on in my head and a facade that eventually was broken down as I eventually realised that I couldn’t hide from myself.

I think, to an extent, we all do that. We all build a façade that we hide behind but the problem with building a façade, although there are times when we may need it, is that we get so used to hiding behind a facade of ‘everything is fine’ that we can forget that a facade is what it is. We can hide behind our walls of smiles and act as though everything is ok, because not everyone we interact with needs to know what’s going on behind the walls, but we have to be honest with ourselves along the way too and remember that what goes on in our head is what is really important.

Life can be tough, life can throw curveballs at us that can take a while to adapt to, life can be a freaking bitch…let’s be honest! But it’s like that for everyone. Let’s go back to the ‘rags to riches’ stories, they weren’t super humans or blessed with incredible luck, they had often been dealt the toughest cards…tougher than many of us have been dealt! But they took control of their thoughts, their emotions and their actions. They made life work for them, against all the odds, their hard work, positive thought process and discipline paid off…they overcame their obstacles, they worked through the challenges, they took the bull by the horns and won the fight. Did they have a ball of a time doing it? Probably not. Did they doubt themselves? Probably often. Did they give in to the doubt? Possibly but they always got back on the horse. Their facade was not going to get them through…because they had to face up to the facts that life had taken a tough turn and pretending to smile at it would not fix it. They had a decision to make, they could stay as they were or they could find out what they were truly made of.

It always astounds me what humans are capable when they put their mind to it. All over the internet at the moment people are posting their 10 year challenges, what they looked like then and what they look like now but that is just the surface. 10 years have changed me, I have loved, I have lost, I have faced challenges that I never thought I would have to face, I have grown and built and continue to do both. Some of the change happened without intention…the first half of the decade just happened but the second half? The second half of this past decade I learned about intent, I learned about free will and choice, I learned about the control (or lack thereof) of my thoughts and emotions, I have grown mentally, physically and spiritually and there have been knock-backs at every turn but the stronger you are and the more you challenge yourself, the stronger you will become. Would I change any of it? No, it was all written in the stars and without the toughest challenges I would not be the warrior that I am today.

Today I look at life differently, my thoughts are changing and developing every day.

I haven’t got every day figured out, not by a long stretch. I wake up some mornings excited for the day ahead, prepared for the week and ready to take on the world, other mornings I wake up and want to stay there because there is a pile of crap waiting for me. Life can be tough, that’s kind of the whole point, it tests us, it tests our willpower, our willingness to learn and gro. The Universe wants us to be the strongest and most powerful version of ourselves but we can only do that if we keep growing mentally, physically and spiritually. Rocks will get thrown at us, that is an inevitable fact of life but we can choose to be buried by them OR we can use them to build our empire.

‘Two mice fell into a bucket of cream, one struggled for a while and then gave up and drowned. The other mouse continued to struggle until he churned the cream into butter and walked out…which mouse are you?’

Approach every day with the affirmation that you can and will find a solution to every challenge that you are faced with, know that your thoughts control you, your reactions and your emotions so choose your thoughts carefully and find gratitude in even the smallest and simplest things for the more you are grateful for, the more you will be blessed and the more you will have to be grateful for. It’s the Law of the Universe.

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