Three Actions That Are Helping Me Change for the Better

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The other night, the kids had absolutely no obligations aside from their required nightly reading. It was the quintessential fall night at home – the end of daylight savings time ushered in a dark sky by 5:30pm. Dinner was prepped, there was a glass of Apothic Red on my desk as I typed and a snoring chocolate lab at my feet, which happen to be encased in my favorite socks (a gift from my favorite husband). Speaking of whom – that night I was waiting on a text from him in regards to his ETA because I had hoped we would be able to eat dinner together as a family. I had about 20 minutes before I’d make the executive decision to feed the kids and set aside our meal for later. Those 20 minutes became the perfect amount of time to write down ALL THE THINGS I happen to worry about on any given day…

  • being attacked when running alone in the woods in daylight
  • dying before setting foot on every continent
  • breaking my phone screen
  • my children not feeling loved
  • developing an intolerance to coffee
  • my husband being killed
  • being offered essential oils
  • failing miserably
  • not living up to my potential
  • Mad Cow disease
  • Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson breaking up
  • my deodorant giving me breast cancer
  • 2020
  • the children trapped in the vicious cycle of poverty
  • whether I am good enough
  • not living enough in the present
  • where we will move next
  • breaking my favorite mug
  • leaving this world feeling unaccomplished
  • becoming apathetic
  • losing empathy
  • becoming complacent
  • developing an aneurism
  • the past

Clay walked in the door just as I finished typing the last bullet. My list ended there that night but there are far many more things – big and small – that cross my mind on a daily basis.

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A few weeks ago, I wrote about how September was a tough month for me. The sun has been shining brighter inside my head for quite some time now. That being said – when looking at the list I typed on a whim the other night, I am able to see the common thread woven through what I worry about, particularly:

  • failing miserably
  • not living up to my potential
  • whether I am good enough
  • becoming complacent

So how can I stop worrying about failing or whether or not I am good enough?

Don’t Pretend to See a Dragon. I think the first step is recognizing that complexity is difficult to visualize. When something seems overwhelming – of course things may end up feeling hopeless and the fear of failure can overpower whatever excitement is fueling the initial “LET’S DO THIS!” vibe. Breaking down everything into bite size pieces is allowing me to simplify steps and focus on each line-item rather than the beast itself.

Eat the elephant one bite at a time

That’s not to say that I need to lose sight of the large picture but it is best not to stare at an idea or a project as if it is one of those Magic Eye posters. I never could see the image and would find myself lying to my friends at sleepovers anyway – “It’s a dragon! I can see a dragon!” By breaking down my ideas, goals, wishes, and dreams into tangible acts of action, I feel less overwhelmed and minimize the feeling that I am not good enough.

Write it Down and Then Write it Down Again. In college, I was an avid notetaker. I wrote as fast as I could during lectures and would rewrite my notes later that afternoon in the library. Doing so served two purposes – (1) my notes would be perfectly organized and visually appealing and (2) the act of writing my notes a second time often cemented ideas to memory. My practice of organizing my thoughts and ideas on paper waned throughout the years – aside from the random to-do list or rough outline.

Repetitio mater studiorum est. Repetition is the mother of all learning.

But over the past few weeks, I have made a concentrated effort to physically write down thoughts, ideas, concerns, and plans on a piece of paper and then rewrite them in a nice notebook. I know, I know – who has time for that? Actually, I have found that it takes very little extra time and doing so has increased my productivity and help reduce fears of failure.

Stop and Hammer Time. We all have moments when feelings of inadequacy are more powerful than our confidence. It is all part of the human experience.  It is unrealistic to think that our fears and other limiting thoughts will disappear completely from our lives. But we can develop habits that reduce their power. When I recognize that the self-deprecating thoughts are overwhelming the positive ones, I immediately stop what I am doing (if applicable) and shift gears to a task or an activity that I am 100% confident in my ability to succeed. There are times when I’ll add an item to my to-do list that I’d do mindlessly without the reminder just for the satisfaction of crossing it off.

We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained. – Marie Curie

It is as if I stop in my hammer pants and shimmy my way over to an area where I am confident in my abilities and success. That shift allows me to ride the high of “I can do this!” and use those endorphins to power through those tasks where I am not as confident.

All in all, the three actions that are helping me push through these fears of failure and fears of not living up to my potential are breaking down goals (no matter how small) into tangible tasks, writing down ideas, goals, steps, tasks, etc… and then writing them down again, and shimmying away from negative thoughts by briefly shifting gears to do something I know I am good at doing in order to experience a boost of confidence.

What are some tricks that you employ to feel more confident or to squash the fear of failure?

1 comments on “Three Actions That Are Helping Me Change for the Better”

  1. Hey, did you know there is an oil that helps promote confidence?? Just kidding, just kidding, that item in the list made me chuckle, lol. (I don’t sell oils anyway!)

    Thank you for sharing actionable steps, and not just a “will yourself to feel better by believing” kind of thing, although I do appreciate a good motivational talk. I rarely write my thoughts and feelings down anymore, but really should.

    Opening an old year book gave me a boost of confidence recently. Most signatures always disappointed me (“have a great summa, wish I knew you better”), but there were a couple of teachers and peers that saw something in me and noted so. Reading what they had to say reminded me of that time in my life, and that I was at one time blessed with some gifts, and perhaps I’m not crazy to think I still do.

    Like

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