Read Lisa's blog post where she gives us 4 Actionable steps to change our thoughts, our life, and learn self love....
The Meaning of Life - What is the meaning of life? by Lisa Cybaniak
This is the age old question. Perhaps everyone’s meaning is different. Perhaps we all have our own meaning to seek. Or perhaps, just maybe, at the root of everyone’s quest is really how to love themselves.
On the surface, learning how to love yourself seems simple. You just do it, don’t you? Tell me then, when things go wrong in your day, what is your first response? Is it to blame yourself, tell yourself you knew you couldn’t do it anyway, throw in the towel and pretend like it didn’t matter anyway?
Or maybe it is to ask ‘why me?’ and feel like despite your best efforts, nothing ever turns out the way you planned? Or worse yet, maybe you sabotage yourself in little ways without even realizing it – not completing a task, not putting in full effort, not showing up, not studying for that test/exam – just so that when you fail, it’s not a surprise, because wouldn’t it be so much worse to complete that task with your full effort and attention, putting forth your best foot, only to not succeed?
After all, success is everything, right? Wait a second though…. What is success? Does that mean things have to go perfectly the first time, or can you still be successful if you faced struggles head on, made mistakes and learned from them, to go on to find success and happiness?
I’m asking a whole lot of questions here, but they are not pointless. Success is directly linked to our value of ourselves. If you related to any of the above, then maybe you don’t value yourself as much as you initially thought. Maybe there is room for you to learn how to change your thoughts, love yourself, and then go after the life you deserve, mistakes and all.
Now, so many people have lived through major traumas that have affected their lives, which may be the main reason for struggling to find self love. I am not the exception to this. I have survived 10 years of physical, mental, and sexual abuse from the age of 2-12.
I spent the next decade fighting the biggest battle of my life, learning to accept myself and work my way from victim to survivor. I then spent the next decade practising what I preached, so to speak, and now feel it is time for me to take all my experiences (yep, even the really awful ones, including my mistakes), and help others. For more information on my journey, see my blog Victim to Survivor here.
This blog will focus on the first step to recovery, whatever you may be recovering from – abuse, trauma, bullying, poor esteem, negativity – to learn how to love yourself, become the person you want to be, and live the life you deserve.The only one in control of your life is you. Live your life with purpose – you are the only one who can. As Aristotle once said, ‘Happiness depends upon ourselves’.
I once struggled greatly with finding my own happiness. I spent so much of my time focusing on how others were making my life difficult, expecting others to also make it better. I would literally wonder, ‘where the hell is my knight in shining armour??????’ One day, I looked in the mirror and smiled when I finally realized she was there all along!
Now my motto is, ‘She needed a hero, so that’s what she became’. By learning how to love yourself, you will change your thought patterns, and you will become your own hero. You will instinctively make better decisions every day, including how you think about yourself. Let’s start this journey together!
By learning how to love yourself, you will become your own hero.
- Who are you? First and foremost, you need to see yourself for who you are. If you are focused on the negative, than first you need to find the positive! Despite all your flaws, you have positives, and lots of them! What worked for me was making a ‘things I’m grateful for’ list EVERY day. This is not a list of things you are grateful for in your life – that comes later. This is literally what about YOU are you grateful for? I’ll give you an example. I’m not perfect, so I naturally make lots of mistakes, but I am grateful for the ability to reflect on my actions and reactions to understand why I did what I did (or thought those things, or felt that way). After all, we act and react to things based on our experiences. People probably did not scheme up different ways to upset me today, but I interpreted some of their actions poorly and then had my own reaction. I am grateful for the ability to reflect upon those situations and see it with fresh eyes, mainly so that I don’t carry it around with me, but also so that I make a different decision next time. I am the only one in control of my actions and reactions, after all. I also did this with more long term stuff. I am grateful that I survived my childhood and made something of myself. I’m grateful for every single hurdle I faced because they all made me stronger, and ultimately, the person I am today. Your turn. Add to your list every single day until you can start recognizing these positives when they happen AND appreciate them.
- Why are you doing the things you are doing? Everything we do, we do for a reason – we get something from it. What are you getting? If you related with any of the descriptions in the introduction of this blog, then WHY? What are you getting out of sabotaging yourself, giving up on something you really wanted, telling yourself you couldn’t do it anyway, or not putting in your full effort? It must be something or you wouldn’t do it. Find out. There is no judgement here. You need to figure this out so you can decide if you want something better. You can’t change your thought patterns if you don’t first acknowledge them and then challenge yourself on why they are there in the first place. If you are having trouble with this one, then start with the list from above. Write down all the things you did today – not things like getting dressed or eating breakfast! Instead, write down how you reacted to things (even if just in your head). Why did you react that way? How did that serve you? What did you get from it? Are you happy with these reactions or would you like to handle them differently in the future? If you want a different reaction next time, then you need to figure out what you want first – what are you going to get from a different reaction? This is heavily linked with step 3.
- What do you deserve? I asked myself this question in my mid 20s after yet another boyfriend cheated on me. This had been a recurring theme that I had naturally told myself had everything to do with me not being good enough – after all, I was the common denominator. Then it dawned on me – screw that! I am an amazing human being who did not survive everything in my childhood to be treated poorly as an adult. I was at fault here. I was choosing these emotionally unavailable men for a reason, now what was it? I looked at step 2 here and made some pretty big realizations. I was sabotaging myself right from the beginning because I didn’t think I deserved better. All this work I had done to move past the abuse and accept myself, and I didn’t love myself enough to feel I deserved a caring, loving, supportive relationship! Ridiculous! Enough is enough. You need to sit down and make a list of what you deserve. Start with the basics – love, respect, acceptance, and then move on to a bigger plan – what do you deserve out of life? How about your career, your home, holidays, lifestyle? Do not put limits on this. You deserve the best, now what does that look like? You are going to stumble here – you’ll laugh at yourself, reverting back to your old habits. It may sound a little like, ‘Yeah right Lisa, how is saying I deserve better going to magically produce the right man in front of you?’ Or maybe, ‘Uh huh, sure I’ll just dream it up and poof, there will be my brand new car!’ If these types of thoughts surface, then step 4 is where you need to look.
- Recognize opportunities as they present themselves. Do you believe in coincidence? I don’t. I believe everything happens for a reason, and that reason is to help us with our purpose. I believe that every single person in our lives, or place we visit, or thing that happens is exactly as it should be. They are all there to teach us something. I believe you can’t make the wrong decision – if you make a decision that diverts you from your correct path, you will have every opportunity to get back onto your correct path. How long it takes depends on you. Can you see the opportunity in front of you? If you can, are you able to take it? I’ll give you an example. A friend of mine loved her job, mainly because of the people that she worked with. They would all go to lunch together each day, and were a real source of support for her. An opportunity presented itself for her to move across the country, and she was really stressed about it. She didn’t know anybody there – it was going to be a big risk. She was heavily leaning on turning it down when her friends at work began treating her differently. Something had happened to cause the others to turn on her. They were excluding her from their lunch dates, and she felt they were talking about her behind her back. She was going home each night in tears, not understanding why this would be happening to her. She decided to take the opportunity on the other side of the country. She messaged me a few months after settling in to tell me just how great her life was there! She had a completely different lifestyle, and had changed her thought patterns completely. She had found herself! We talked about how she never would have taken the risk if her former friends hadn’t treated her the way they had. The very thing that had hurt her to her core gave her the experience of a lifetime. She wouldn’t change it for the world (her new life or what had to happen to get her there). Another example? Another friend of mine had a lot of pent up anger from issues she faced in her childhood. She was angry, but she didn’t realize it. One day, while she was shopping for groceries for her family, she bumped into an old high school friend who was now an anger management councillor. She thought it was fascinating and took her card, but didn’t think anything of it until she got home. When she walked into the door of her beautiful home, her two children were at each other’s throats and her husband was screaming at them both. The anger was palpable. In that moment, she said it was like looking into a mirror. She suddenly realized all the anger she had bottled up inside and she knew she had that friend’s business card for a reason. Your turn. Your challenge now is to start recognizing your opportunities. This will take a real effort at first. I recommend writing another list (I’m a list maker, can you tell?), one where you reflect on your day at try to spot the opportunities, whether they were missed at the time, or grabbed. What about the difficulties you faced today? If you cannot see how they might be benefitting you, write them down , perhaps on a separate list. I bet you will look back on that list in a few days, weeks, months, or even years and see their purpose. We don’t always recognize an opportunity in the moment, but once you get the hang of it, you will see them everywhere!
Would it be worth it to try a little experiment? (I am a scientist after all!) Spend the next month with absolute purpose. Apply all the things you have learned about yourself so far, and all the hard work you have done. Acknowledge and appreciate all your positives, recognize what you are getting from your actions and reactions, determine what you want to gain and how to gain it with your next actions and reactions, and determine your worth and ALL the things you deserve.Last but not least, look for all the opportunities in each day. You will turn your positive thoughts into reality by taking advantage of the opportunities before you!
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