April 17, 2014

My book, Things Fall Apart, will be published in the next few weeks. For a few reasons, I do not have an acknowledgement page. But, if I did have one, I would have thanked Justin Paperny for helping me to hold my head up high when I never thought I would again. Justin’s steady guidance, advice, and mentorship have meant so much to me. I am grateful for his friendship. On that note, I wanted to write my first blog entry on a subject that Justin and I have talked about a lot. So, here goes…

How to Take Ownership of Your Life

Try as we might, nobody manages to live a pain free life. We all make mistakes. We all suffer the consequences of those mistakes. And even when we get everything right, happiness is still far from guaranteed.

Personal adversity isn’t something that we can opt out of. Even with meticulous planning, things can, and do, occasionally fall apart. One thing that we do have a choice over however, is how we deal with that fact.

Or more specifically, whether or not, we allow it to consume our lives.

I’m talking about this today because I’m no stranger to things going wrong. In fact, at this stage, I’m probably something of an expert. Over time however, I have managed to both turn things around and stop dwelling on the past.

I’ll admit, this isn’t an easy thing to achieve. The first step however is incredibly simple; taking ownership of your life. And if it’s been less than you’d hoped for, not allowing that fact to destroy your future.

How you go about doing this will of course depend on your personal circumstances. But as a guideline, here are four techniques that really helped me.

Accept That You Cannot Change Things

Before you can move past adversity, you first need to truly accept that it happened. Hypothetical “what ifs” will get you nowhere. They’re counterproductive and worse, they’re addictive. Don’t feed them.

Accept that your life is non-refundable. There is no version of your life other than the one that you’re living now. Learn to accept this. And strive to make the most of what you have left.

Learn from Your Mistakes

If past problems were self inflicted, look for lessons that can be learned from them. What could you have done differently? What do you need to change about yourself to prevent the same problems from occurring in the future?

Provided you learn from your mistakes, they can, and will, help you to grow as a person. Keep in mind however that there’s a big difference between trying to learn from your mistakes and obsessing over them.

Stop Looking Back

I’m a firm believer in the idea that our past does not have to dictate our future. But that doesn’t mean that it won’t if you let it. If you spend your life wallowing over past failures, how can you expect your future to be any better?

Negative thinking can never truly be eradicated. But when you catch your mind drifting backwards, snap yourself out of it and think about the future instead. Don’t dismiss the power of positive thinking either.

Know That You’re Stronger Now

Finally, it might be something of a cliché but what doesn’t kill us, really does make us stronger. The more trauma you experience, the less susceptible you become to its effects.

I know this from experience. Things that would have fazed me in the past, barely sting now. And the reason for this is simple; they’re nothing compared to what I’ve already been through.

If you want to take this idea further, look at past trauma as a potential source of motivation too. Trauma naturally leads to anger. Are you going to turn that anger inwards or are you going to use it as motivation to go out and attack life?

Hilary Neiman

You can reach Hilary at www.hilaryneimannetwork.com.

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