Okay so I don’t know definitively how to get my life together. But I’ve been working on it. As a therapist, I have come to accept that in life there are themes and in some cases perpetual issues that show up. Those issues persist until we address them and cultivate a new way forward. I’m sure that getting one’s life together involves a variety of steps and processes. This process is undoubtedly different for each person. Below are my ideas about the themes involved in getting one’s life together. Take what works…leave the rest.
- Be honest about your shortcomings…but don’t belabor the point. I find that most people know what they need to work on. Sometimes they are able to admit it. The problem arises when we adopt those shortcomings as part of our identity, when we believe it cannot be helped or changed, or when we believe that we are relegated to how things have been. You can get your life together by being honest about what you need to address. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Also, constantly complaining about it isn’t the same as being honest about it. Complaining about one’s shortcomings is part of externalizing…it is often part of a process of distancing. Be honest….so that you can get it together. Doing something will feel a lot better than talking about doing something.
- If you want different results…do something different. The truth is that getting one’s life together involves changing behaviors. Often changing behaviors requires a mental shift. Specifically, a shift in self awareness and then a commitment to altering behavior. One simply can’t get different results by doing the same thing. The exception to that rule is rehearsal. If what you are trying to do is improve in a particular area then you must dedicate time to practice. Repetition is key. However, if the ways you are trying to get your life together involve adopting new behaviors such as eating healthier, exercising, getting more rest, budgeting, advocating for yourself, etc….then you must start by doing what you have not been doing and then be consistent with those changes. There are no short cuts to getting your life together.
- Cultivate discipline but maintain flexibility. It doesn’t make sense to get your life together and then have it ruined by the constant fear that something is going to go wrong or mess up. Let’s face it. Stuff is going to go wrong. It’s not fun. It’s not easy. Inflexibility simply makes it more painful to cope with the unexpected. Getting your life together involves cultivating discipline. Or in the case of someone who is rigid, it involves the consistent practice of letting go of what is beyond your control. Sometimes “strength” alone is a weakness. When storms hit, strong trees bend…they don’t break. Flexibility is key; without it shame and self criticism will keep you from getting your life together.
Each minute, hour and day is an opportunity to begin again. To make one beneficial choice, then another and another. If you feel like your life is a mess, it probably happened over a period of time. You may have gotten used to the mess. It’s okay. Whenever you are ready…decide. Go cultivate more of what you want. Let go of what is not yours. Respect what work belongs to someone else. You can get your life together.
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