“I can’t believe that he actually thought a baby would use 1 nappy a day!”
“Why am I the only one in this house that seems to do any cleaning around here?”
“My life is horrible, everyone is out to get me! I’ll never have a happy Christmas!”
Would you like some cheese with that wine? In all seriousness though, we all have our bad days where nothing seems to be going right. It is okay to let it out every once in a while too. But what you need to remember is that nobody enjoys being around a person who is negative all the time.
We all know that one person whose life seems to be one tragedy after another. Maybe their life is genuinely traumatic. They may have ill health, be in an unloving marriage or without work for over a year, but if you look carefully you will notice that there are actually two very different types of people in this world. There are those who play the victim all their lives and their are those who say “Yes, it sucks, but I won’t let it get me down.” My question is, which one are you?
Quit making excuses for yourself
I heard a story of twin brothers. Their mother died when they were young and soon after that their father turned to alcohol. These brothers were left to raise themselves.
The one made a choice to get involved in sports and won a scholarship to a prestigious college. He graduated with a business degree and started his own business from scratch, with no bank funding whatsoever. He actually worked two jobs, one at a corporate firm and the other running his own business for a couple of years. This man went on to have a successful family life and got reasonably wealthy.
The other twin was failing at school and eventually dropped out. His father’s drunkenness seemed to hit him much harder. He had a string of low-level jobs, and eventually turned to theft and alcohol himself.
When these twins were interviewed they were asked the same questions “How did you get to where you are today?” both of them gave the credit to their father!
The first said “I didn’t want to end up like my dad. I saw that the only way out was to get a sports scholarship, so I started sports.”
The second said “I saw what my dad had become, and I couldn’t handle it. I had to get away so the first chance I got I left school and went out on my own.”
These boys grew up in the same environment with the same father and they had both seen what their dad had become. The difference between them was that the first took stock of all his options and wisely chose the option that would take him furthest in life in the long term. The second, took stock of all his options and chose the one that would benefit him in the moment.
The key is that both of these men gave their father the credit for the situation they were in today.
So often we say, “I wouldn’t be like this if… ” or “If only I had … then … wouldn’t have happened.” We start throwing a pity party instead of looking for a way to get out of the situation.
You need to quit making excuses and shifting the blame. Be like the first twin and create a plan to change the situation you are in. You might not get it right the first time, but keep trying anyway.
I have also felt trapped in circumstances, like there was no way out. I had bills to pay and had to work outside the home to pay them. Eventually, after a long talk with Mark, we reviewed all our finances and one thing was clear… if we did without certain things, and were very careful with our money, we could live off a single income. In a worst of the worst scenario we could move in with his parents and rent out our home. Thankfully we haven’t needed to do that, God has provided. We found a way out of our circumstances.
Change starts within yourself
How often have you heard the saying “You cannot change a man”? The same is true with anybody. Nobody is able to force another human being to change. That is the joy of free will.
If you cannot change another person, then how can you expect anybody or anything to change you except yourself? Yes, you can ask other people or God to help you change, but you have to be willing to change first. If you are unwilling, then it cannot happen.
Once you have made the decision to change, then it takes support, perseverance and being willing to get back up again and try something else when you fail.
In the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey explains the circle of influence. In a nutshell, there are 3 areas:
- Your Circle of Influence
- Your Circle of Concern
- No Concern
The Circle of Influence are the things that you can do something about. Included in this is how you can influence yourself to change. The more you work within your Circle of Influence, the larger it will get and you may find that when people notice the change within you, then they will start to change themselves too! Live by example, your way of life is the best witness you can give.
How can I change myself to be more proactive?
Firstly, there is the word proactive. That is what you use to describe people who “take the bull by the horns” or “make a plan and get stuff done”.
We all have different starting points, it all depends on where you are in your life journey as to where you will need to start the change.
The first thing we all need to do is to listen to the voices in our head. What do you tell yourself on a regular basis? Be aware of what you are thinking. Look at it carefully, listen to it.
I noticed that my voice always said “I don’t feel like … ” or “I really don’t want to …” or “I am nervous about …” For example, if I look at a messy kitchen sink the voice says “Ah, I really don’t feel like cleaning all this up right now.” or “This will take forever.” My problem is motivating myself to actually do the stuff on my checklists.
When I realized that this was my problem, then I started looking for ways to overcome that problem. There is the timer method: Set a timer for 15 minutes and just get stuck in and do it, when the timer goes off then stop. That one works well, but only when I am accountable to somebody or else I fall off the band wagon again. I needed a person, or a group of people that I could talk to and brag to about what I had accomplished in a day. That is when I joined the Homemakers Encouragement group on Facebook. We play a game where we see how many things we can accomplish on a combined “Done List” in a day. At the time of writing this, our record has been 156 items crossed off between a group of us! Even though we are working in separate homes and countries, we are working together towards a common goal – beating our “high score!”
You need to ask yourself “What does my negative Nancy say to me?” and then you need to think of a way to either change it, or overcome it.
I still hear the voice in my head, but I have learned to overcome it (most of the time).
So, in conclusion, I think you should consider giving yourself and your family the gift of change this year. Start noticing the problems within yourself instead of focusing on the problems in other people. Then find a way to change or better yourself. It may be a long term strategy, but you will notice that once you better yourself then more and more things will fall into place for you.