Have you ever felt like your life is not your own?
Have you ever felt like your life is “out of control”?
If you’re living a less-than-joyful life, the first step is to step back and discover where you are out of balance. Take a look at the following items that could be hijacking your life.
Your Emotions – Rainer Maria Rilke said, “All emotions are pure which gather you and lift you up; that emotion is impure which seizes only one side of your being and so distorts you.” When you least expect it, you can find yourself overwhelmed by your emotions. These emotions can sometimes seemingly come out of nowhere.
Common emotions that can hijack your life include: anger, rage, fear, guilt, abandonment, or rejection. Learn to release these emotions and reclaim your true emotions. Here are six tips that can help keep negative emotions in check.
- Recognize the power of emotions – Being aware of how much influence our emotions have over our lives is the first step to taking charge of them.
- Know that emotions don’t always represent the truth – Just because we feel a certain way doesn’t make it a reality.
- Avoid toxic people – If we’re constantly hanging out with people who are angry, grumpy and discouraging, we’ll eventually become like them.
- Ask for support – If we want to make any significant change in our lives, we’ll need the support of the people closest to us. Taking charge of our emotions definitely falls in that category.
- Use words as a tool to feel better – Words are powerful, and we can harness that power to change our emotional state. When we’re feeling down, we need to train ourselves to use our words to improve—and even transform—our situation, rather than merely describe it.
- Learn to recognize the underlying message – In communication, it’s not what we say that matters; it’s what people hear. Once we become conscious of the indirect and unintended messages we communicate every time we fail to control our negative emotions, we’ll realize the importance of exercising self-control in this area.
- Wait two seconds before responding – Every time we respond immediately—and instinctively (a.k.a. the knee-jerk reaction)—to an unkind remark, our words reek of spite and malice. Pausing intentionally for at least two seconds before replying, will allow us to respond in a measured way that will help the situation.
Your Negative Beliefs – We form beliefs because they simplify our lives. If you, for example, got burnt by a hot stove, next time when the stove is hot you won’t touch it because you believe that you will get burnt. This is the example of a positive belief that simplifies your life and protects you.
When you have a negative belief, your life loses its richness because you are not able to perceive it correctly. For example, if you got hurt in a relationship and you start believing that all men/women are the same, this belief will not allow you to see men/women that do not fit into your belief system.
Some common negative beliefs that can hijack your life include: I’m not good enough, I’m not lovable, I’m not worthy, I’m undeserving, or I don’t belong, etc.. Deal with negative beliefs by:
- Writing them down and reading them aloud.
- Start affirming and believing in a belief that is opposite to your negative belief.
- Start recognizing that you have absolute freedom to choose the way you want to live and you can choose your own beliefs and ways to behave.
- Take full responsibility of your own self and forgive anyone who may have transferred a negative belief onto you e.g. your parents, as they may not have been aware of how it affected your life experience.
Lack of Sleep – “Fatigue,” said Vince Lombardi, “makes cowards of us all.” Specifically, it undermines our capacity for self-control, and we’re more likely to default to instant gratification. Fatigue also leads to accidents, hurts the learning process, can lead to depression, weight gain, and forgetfulness. Work towards better sleep habits by:
- Working on having a solid winding-down routine before bed by turning off all visual stimuli, like your phone and computer, at least half an hour before bed so you have an easier time drifting off. I have an alarm set for 10pm on my phone that serves to cue me to begin wrapping up my day.
- Avoiding caffeine after noon or you’ll be more likely to feel jittery and to have a harder time falling asleep and staying asleep. Remember that quality of sleep is just as important quantity.
Find more tips in this article on 7 Steps to Better Sleep by the Mayo clinic.
Multitasking – Let’s get one thing straight. Multitasking is a myth. What actually happens is the ability to move quickly between tasks, that has fooled us into a false sense of superior task accomplishment. Moving between tasks creates something called “switching time.” When you shift attention from one focus of attention to another, the average time it takes to finish the first task increases by at least 25%.
To banish the multitasking bug, make a to-do list. Tackle the items one task a time instead of trying to do three at once and ending up getting nothing done.
Seeking Approval from Others – Has ‘people pleasing’ taken over your life? Needing and seeking approval from the other people in your life is a survival mechanism. We are evolutionarily ‘programmed’ to find ways to fit in, be accepted, develop social bonds and draw esteem through your relationships with others.
The need for approval though kills freedom. When you start seeking approval, you start to procrastinate, avoid doing important things, doubt your own skills and talents, feel anxiety and fear, and get stuck in worry and rumination. So how do you stop?
- Get to know who YOU are. By knowing yourself, you will have less fear from separating from the pack and following your own euphoric destiny.
- Ask yourself, “Why are other people’s opinions of me so important?” Rooting out the why always provides valuable intel. Once the why is revealed, the ‘fix’ can be initiated.
- Let go of those who don’t support or accept you for who you are. This is probably one of the toughest and most challenging choices. It can however prove to be the wisest and the healthiest. You are here to live an authentic life that is unequivocally yours, not simply live to abide by and please others.
- Affirming that you deserve to be happy and to have a passion-full, purposeful life. This is YOUR life after all, and no one else’s.
- Remind yourself that no matter what choices or decisions you make or don’t make, no matter what your dreams and goals are there will always be differing points of view and opinions of them. The most important thing is how YOU feel about yourself and your choices.
Your Ego – Our ego is the created image of ourselves that we believe is who we truly are. The ego is all about feeling special and creating a story of one’s life that keeps you feeling separate (or above) everyone else. An uncontrolled ego though, can divert you from your genuine, true and authentic self.
Jose Andres Arvide, who wrote an article on 5 Hacks to Overcome Your Ego, suggests the following when working towards overcoming one’s ego.
- Define your motivation -According to Jose, a learning-based motivation that is characterized by learning, experiencing, and living is the best way to overcome your ego than the unreliable accomplishment-based motivation, characterized by achievement and conquest.
- Focus on the process – Jose states that when we start acknowledging life and its true essence we will realize that what really matters is what we experience during life and not its outcomes. Hence the need to be more invested in the process. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Life is a journey, not a destination.”
- Don’t compare yourself to others – Desiderata reminds us that … If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Not comparing yourself is not a prescription for a mediocre mentality with no goals. Not comparing yourself means that you focus on becoming conscious about yourself, destroying your unconscious habits and really knowing what you are made of.
- Forget the habitual system – The reward/punishment system we have been enrolled in since birth is just a way of feeding our ego and completely destroying our capacity to value ourselves according to Jose. Jose wants you to forget this system and start noticing that you are not circus animals who need a reward to feel valuable and a punishment to learn. You are independent beings, fully conscious and aware and you learn through experience.
- Stop the boastful talk – Jose reminds us that we are awesome and valuable without the need to tell everybody our achievements, posting it on social media, or replying to someone´s boastful utterances with our own glorifying speech. So fight the need to jump on to the nearest soapbox and bring your ego into check.
Poor Eating Habits – Your body is made from food. It is absolutely imperative therefore, that you consume foods that promote optimum body functioning. Your brain for example, relies on glucose, which derives from carbohydrates and other nutrients such as healthy fats and antioxidants, to function properly.
According to a study published in “The Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology” in Dec. 2009, fatty foods could have an immediate negative impact on brain function. In the study, rats fed a high-fat diet tested significantly lower in cognitive abilities after eating the fatty fare compared to rats fed a lower-fat diet. Eating a restrictive diet or skipping meals can have similar effects, including poor memory and concentration abilities. Here are a few changes you can make:
- Plan your meals at the beginning of the week. This will make you more likely to stick to your healthy-eating routine.
- Aim for a healthy, well balanced diet that contains a variety of nutritious foods, such as vegetables, fruits, fish, nuts and whole grains.
- Remember the old adage, Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.
Inspiration for thought
The only way we can truly be happy is to realize that our thoughts, emotions, actions, and decisions are our responsibility and no one else’s. That is indeed a beautiful, utterly empowering realization. No more excuses. No more blame. Just the choice to take our power back and start living and loving our lives.
What About You?
Is there something that is not on this list that is hijacking your life? How do you deal with it and stay focused and motivated?