Have you ever caught yourself saying “It’s Not Fair” when a colleague gets promoted ahead of you (and you were more qualified!)? Is this followed quickly by the thought “Why does this always happen to me?” “Everyone else gets the opportunities, the raise, the happy marriage, the good metabolism (you know the one where you can eat anything and not get fat), but not me!” “Why is it so easy for everyone else but it’s a struggle for me?”
It’s not fair!
Have you ever thought that you don’t have the relationship that you want because you don’t have the right clothes, the right body shape? “I’m not funny or interesting?” “The only people that are attracted to me I’m not attracted to”, or, “All the good guys /girls are taken!”
Have you ever found yourself thinking that you don’t have the right education and that’s why you’re missing out? If only I’d been born in a different family, in a different life circumstance, in a different country then I would be successful. Have you ever looked back on all the opportunities you’ve missed out on because you weren’t confident, smart, outspoken, skinny, wealthy? At least that’s what we tell ourselves.
What happens with your emotions when you’re feeling as though something isn’t fair? What are the emotions that come up? And do they flow over you like a wave of jealousy, or sadness, or anger or despair, or maybe something else? It can happen in a moment and I know what I do then is leave the room so I can hide how I’m feeling. It happens so quickly, and it doesn’t make sense.
The past can have a part to play in us feeling sorry for ourselves, a big part. Often people who feel this way live more in their past. They reference the past as a reason not to feel good enough, smart enough. They look at all the experiences they missed out on and use these as reasons for why they are not successful, happy, healthy, wealthy. I didn’t go to uni or study the right course which is why I don’t have my dream job. I didn’t travel which is why I haven’t had so many life experiences. I no longer have time to play sport which is why I don’t look my best.
It’s easy to feel sorry for yourself, isn’t it? Especially when you see photos of people living their happy lives on Instagram and Facebook. Time can pass so quickly when you’re scrolling through, looking at all the happy people while you are sitting alone at home, or on the train, or at work.
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But we all know people post things about themselves and their lives that they think will get the most likes, right? (I’ve done it myself). They edit their life so that you only see their birthday party shots surrounded by hundreds of friends, the holiday to an exotic or romantic location with their spouse, their travel adventures, photos with the best makeup or most ripped body, with the perfect car, house, family, kids etc. They have all this stuff and I’m stuck here behind this desk in a job I hate, or worse, not even in a job! The familiar moments when you notice the differences between what others have that you don’t have. And you know what, sometimes we’re just noticing this stuff unconsciously. Even though we know people are editing their posts to what they want us to see, we start to build up references to everyone’s ‘happy life’, one after the other. We don’t really even notice we’re doing it, but then over time, you start to feel more and more sorry for yourself.
What Are You Focussing On?
What are you actually focussing on? Have you ever taken a photo for Instagram or Facebook? Do you take photos of what’s actually going on (kids screaming, messy house, spilling food on your top) or do you edit the photo to make sure the light is perfect (how awesome are filters!), arrange everyone making sure they’re smiling, take double shots when someone had their eyes closed on the first go. How many photos have you seen of food looking messy on a table with spills or is it the perfectly arranged plate of food looking like something from a magazine that you always see?
This was brought to my attention recently when a photo was posted on Instagram by Zoe Foster Blake. She posted a photo of her new bassinet in a perfectly arranged bedroom ready for her new baby to arrive, like a photo from a fashion magazine. It looked tranquil and amazing ready for the new addition to this perfect picture of family life! What she’d written underneath the photo was a post I loved. It went something like this… ‘NOT pictured is my work desk and 50 samples, a fug ergonomic desk chair, Sonny’s old cot, a crappy rug I trip on constantly, and a queen sized bed covered in baby crap.’ It’s not often we get an insight into what’s being deleted to create that picture perfect magazine worthy photo.
We don’t often see (and maybe don’t want to see) someone posting a photo at the end of the day saying how tired they are, or getting frustrated with the kids in the car, the things that didn’t work. Instead we edit our lives to show the most perfect, or beautiful photos. And when we don’t live up to our own expectations of the edited life we have created we can be left feeling empty, or sad thinking that we are not good enough.
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I’m not saying we need to post on Facebook all the crappy things that happen to us for everyone to see or to focus on. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to focus on the good stuff, it’s brilliant, but it can sometimes make us forget about what’s really going on. We don’t question what we focus on. We forget that we can choose to focus on something else.
It’s Not My Fault!
We can choose to celebrate the little things that we do every day. Before we do that though, we need to accept that we can choose how we respond to situations, and a big part of that is taking responsibility. In other words choosing to respond in a certain way rather than coming up with excuses.
A classic example is, imagine it’s Monday morning and two people arrive late to work, Harry walks in and the first thing out of his mouth is a list of all the things that went wrong. All the excuses and reasons for why he was late. ‘It’s not my fault, my child was screaming last night and I was late because I didn’t hear my alarm and then I was stuck in traffic for oh my goodness for such a long time, the traffic was horrendous, it was the traffic’s fault. And then when I got to my favorite coffee shop there was a line up and the person in front of me, they just kept talking and talking and couldn’t they see that I was running late and I had to have my coffee straightaway. Then, the barista, oh my goodness the barista was more interested in talking as well, rather than making the coffee so they just took forever to make it so by the time I got back into the car and got to work, that’s why I’m late. It’s not my fault.’ Here you hear all the excuses right, a whole list of excuses? It’s like the old ‘dog tore up my homework’ excuse!
What about Mike, who walks in at the same time. He walks up to his boss and says ‘I’m really sorry I’m late, I’m responsible, It won’t happen again’. And when his boss asked what happened? Mike says that his wife wasn’t well last night so he was up late looking after her and he slept through his alarm but he could have been more prepared and set a second alarm. And because of this he was caught in the school traffic which he took side streets to avoid but still slowed him down a little and he thought of skipping his morning coffee but he chose to stop for it anyway and there was a long line. So next time I will set two alarms to make sure I get up on time and miss the traffic and I will call and order coffee ahead so that it is waiting for me when I pull up.
What people are saying about Emotion Academy:
"After many years of training, courses, and counselling in various forms I thought I had certain aspects of my life sorted. Yet completing Emotion Academy showed me that I had been running away from my emotions and not facing them. After Emotion Academy, now I have the tools to engage with myself and win the internal battles once and for all - Neil Welsh, Victoria
Notice how both stories have the same content but different outcomes? A different perspective? And how much better does it make everyone involved in Mike’s story feel as he’s taking responsibility for the situation? Mike, his boss, anyone listening and maybe even you reading!
So how do you get to a point where you choose, where you’re at cause, where you take responsibility?
By taking responsibility, it’s almost impossible to feel as though life isn’t fair because suddenly you’re in a place where you’re responsible for everything you do. You might not be perfect at this every time but if you do your best to always remember it, you will feel more in control. And remember nothing is necessarily your fault, but everything you do is your responsibility.
Nothing’s your fault, but everything is your responsibility. I’m going to say it again because it’s that important. Nothing’s your fault, but everything is your responsibility.
One of the ways that I take responsibility is by controlling my thoughts. Now I’m sure you’ve heard other people say “Just think positive” and maybe you’ve tried this before yourself. If that works for you, fantastic! But what I’m going to suggest is a technique I use to look into my thoughts. I use it to work out what thoughts are helpful and what thoughts are not helpful. We all have thoughts at times that are not helpful, right? Like, “You’re not pretty enough” “You’re not smart enough” or you start to stress and worry about things that you don’t have any control over? I don’t have any control over what people think of me so thinking about that, playing it through my mind again and again isn’t going to be helpful.
The technique I use is I sit down in a quiet place (you can do this anywhere but it might be easier when you’re first practicing to start in a quiet place). Get comfortable, sit down and close your eyes. Close your eyes and imagine yourself sitting on the edge of a babbling brook, a stream running through a calm forest and it’s autumn when the leaves are falling gently from the trees. Picture the beautiful orangy yellow and red coloured leaves as they hit the water. And as a thought comes into your head, as it comes into your awareness, place the thought on one of the leaves that is now floating in the stream. Watch that thought on the leaf float down the stream and let it go.
You might notice that another thought appears in place of the first one. So then place that one onto another leaf and watch it float down the stream and keep doing that with as many thoughts as you can, letting them go. Feeling the distance between yourself and your thoughts increase. Notice the sense of calmness come over you as you do this. This technique helps to let go of the worries and repeating thoughts that get in our way and to detach from them. So that’s the first thing I do to help control my thoughts.
Melisa Grigg - Head Coach & Trainer
Melisa was stuck in sadness for 15 years, hated her job, was overweight and her relationship had just ended. Melisa inspires people with her story and now teaches how she sorted her life out. She worked out how to be happy and how to lose over 30kg of body weight. In simple steps she teaches how you can stop procrastinating, find confidence, stop being so sad and finally start to find true meaning and purpose in your life.
The other thing I do which has made a massive difference for me is create a what I call an achievement list. It’s an “I’m Great” list. Actually it’s an “I Am Awesome” list. Whatever you want to call it, it’s a list just for you. It’s about taking responsibility for your strengths and achievements. It’s about taking responsibility for the things that you are great at. Because every now and then in life something will come up that you won’t feel so great about. Yeah, you’re going to have some not so great experiences over time. Your friend may not be happy with you, you might not get your dream job, or be able to take that holiday when you planned to. You might screw up a project or something may not go your way even with your best intentions and you might want to start feeling down on yourself. In those moments I remember to put trust in the times when I was at my best. So in preparation for those times, what I do is I have my I’m Great list ready. My achievements list which has all the things that I have achieved over my whole life. It could be something simple like in grade 3, a teacher called out and asked for someone to spell ‘weather’ two different ways. I put my hand up and I spelled ‘whether’ and ‘weather’ out loud in front of the whole class. I got the question right and I felt amazing about that! So I have that moment written down.
Sometimes we forget to recognise and applaud the little things we achieve along the way. Those little things that make a difference to others or make a difference to ourselves. The more we appreciate those things, the more we will start to notice all the things we’ve done to get us to where we are now then the more we feel great about ourselves, not sorry for ourselves. And we can say ‘yeah, I am here because of all those experiences and also because I overcame some tough stuff !
I’m here because I have done a lot of stuff. I once went overseas for two years. That was back when I was shy so this was a real challenge for me. At times I wanted to be back at home but I stayed and I experienced all I could with the skills I had then. Now that I have better skills and love meeting people, I could look back on that experience and think “You didn’t go out and party” “You missed opportunities for relationships” “You didn’t make the most of that time”. But I’m not going to do that. I’m going to focus on the fact that I had the courage to stay. I did something that was uncomfortable.
There are so many other things I can feel good about too. I am really excellent at cooking, not the best, but I can cook a good meal. I can be funny sometimes, not all the time but sometimes. I put that on my list too. What else have I done? I’ve done so many things. I went from being sad to happy. I went from being overweight to being healthy. I learned how to run and how to enjoy running. There’s a list that goes on and on and on.
Start making your own list.
So, what’s on your list? What are the things that you appreciate in your life? What are the things you’ve done that have been awesome accomplishments? I went to school on the first day and I kept going. I learned to tie my shoelaces. Little things that might seem insignificant, but when you add them altogether, all those little things add up to a lot of something. They add up to who you are now.
When you’re feeling not so great about yourself. It’s great to look at that list and go “You know what? I gave birth to my son or daughter and that was tough but I did that” “I have been in a relationship now for 10 years, 15 years, it’s not always easy, but I’ve done it and I’m doing it” “Everyday I show up to my job” “I have gone from being a waitress to running a restaurant”. There’s so many things that you can add to it. So start making your achievement list and keep adding to it over time. Anytime you’re feeling like things are not going your way, go to your achievement list and remind yourself of all the stuff you’ve been through to be here now. All the things that you’ve already done, that you can feel proud about and you might notice that you start to become aware of more things you’ve achieved. You might start noticing more of the great stuff about your life and start celebrating it, and other’s lives too. Go out there, be amazing and feel it. You are the only one like you. So, go celebrate that and have fun!
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