Perspectives change. I’m going to go so far as to say that they should change. Perspectives are merely viewpoints about that which we believe to be true. Life’s experiences very often change our perspectives. Although perspectives are intangible, they are very powerful; they can actually alter the direction of your life. Sometimes, perspectives are nothing more than assumptions. When that happens, the thought process that created the assumption was stopped in its tracks at the point of which the author of the thought is comfortable.
Let me elaborate. We often sell ourselves short when it comes to believing our own potential. Usually, it’s based on certain life experiences that are prominent in our memory, and it has a lot to do with self-image. Perspectives can get so intertwined with each other that it is hard to find the beginning. For example, if someone believes that they will never be able to get a good job with good pay and benefits, they will stop trying so hard at succeeding in life. Anything worthwhile takes effort and time. It takes a belief in yourself that you both can and will be able to attain that goal before you. That’s the starting place. Even if you feel that the odds are against you, pure determination has a way of overcoming odds because it keeps you from being stagnant. Pure determination makes you look for every opportunity to move to the next level.
So let me shift the focus to myself, and share with you some things that have come about this last week. But first, let me digress. I started out in life meek and mild. My childhood did not foster confidence in myself. I had a very low self-image. Life experiences made me realize that I needed to promote my own well-being by sticking up for myself. Having a child made my future that much more important. It made me believe more in myself, and to strive for better things.
Fast forward to the current chapter in my life. I have been married for 4 ½ years, and have no kids at home. I am already planning for retirement. That is still a number of years down the road, but I plan to retire with very little debt. It is my goal to have the mortgage paid off, and to not have credit card debt, or a car payment. They say that money is the root of all evil, and I believe it. More stress is generated over money than any other thing.
Stress digs up the weirdest things from our inner being; things we thought we buried nice and deep–even things we didn’t know were there. For me, I find myself acting (overreacting) like my mother. And with that I bring my own need to defend myself from feeling inadequate. No doubt these feelings and reactions stem from my childhood. In the aftermath of the situation, is the shame of not controlling myself, hurting another person’s feelings, and/or raising their stress level (because oddly, it makes us feel better).
It’s the perfect example of something I wish I could change about my life. I can write out in detail my reactions to all kinds of situations. I can also make side notes of what would be appropriate behavior. So why would I choose the inappropriate behavior over what is appropriate?
I could blame it all on my life’s experiences, and say that that is just how I am. But I would be selling myself short of the many benefits of handling my stress better. Just wanting to change is not enough. It actually takes a plan, and determination. It takes a willingness to step out of the comfort of familiar behavior, and to reshape and redirect thoughts.
Lately, I have been determined to not react badly. I already know what my future will look like without change; I just need to look at my mother. I am determined to get a handle on myself before I damage anymore relationships (because relationships are definitely affected). I made the decision to not let things bother me as much as they used to. When something doesn’t go as planned, I may get frustrated, but I try to breathe it out instead of holding it inside. It helps to tell myself that this situation does not need to ruin my day. I allow myself to put my frustration aside so that it does not affect what I am doing or others I may have contact with. It really is amazing how liberating it feels to give myself permission to change. Doors to other possibilities open once I stop grabbing at the behavior that has become so comfortable over the years. Choosing behavior that is linked to shame is like walking down the rocky path instead of the smooth one just because it is familiar.
This last week, my determination has started to pay off. I am not allowing situations to affect me the way they used to. I am happier throughout the day, and it gives me reassurance that everything is going to work out alright. I still have failures, but as soon as I recognize that I am not behaving appropriately, I try to reframe my thoughts. Sometimes, I have to apologize for unloading my stress on someone else. These two things are very important for breaking the habit of shaming yourself; it allows you to get off the rocky path and onto the path with better opportunity for a brighter future.
It fits perfectly with my plan for a carefree retirement. I am excited for the future, especially since I have given myself permission to change for the better.
Deuteronomy 10:16 Therefore, change your hearts and stop being stubborn.