Why do we limit ourselves?
What are the biggest hindrances that stunt our progress and development in life?
What are the small changes we can make to better our lives?
Are we in charge of our own narrative?
Do we avert all our focus on achieving materialism and not in accomplishing self-growth?
How can we motivate ourselves so that we can push ourselves to live each day to the fullest?
What do I mean by that?
By “fullest” I mean our full potential. Optimising our talents and skills. Leaning on the lessons learned through experience.
I heard this profound saying.
Instead of waking up every day and telling ourselves we’ve got to do stuff; got to go to work, got to study, got to hit the gym, got some chores to complete…by changing a small word in the narrative – turning got into get, we change the phrase into something positive. By saying get, we are appreciative of the duties and commitments in life; they become stuff we look forward to with zeal, while grateful for our blessings and abilities.
When we say “I’ve got to do something” it already is an expression of perfunctory nuance. An obligation. A chore. Our words contribute to our beliefs, thoughts, perceptions, attitudes, and outlook in life. We coin phrases that exemplify that “same sh*t, different day” sentiment.
Manifest our realities
“Difficulties show a person’s character.” – Epictetus
We aren’t ready to charge into the first light of dawn on a brand new day prepared to face our challenges and hurdles with fire and glory.
In fact, we kickstart our day with our motivation dialed to a low and our cups half-full. Does this not set the tone for how the rest of the day unfolds?
Whether you believe it or not, consider the moments and times that we have all started our days or week with negativity and pessimism which snowballs into how things finally turn out. It need not be downright misery or tragedy, but with even an iota of bitterness in our hearts and reticence in our minds, we manifest a reality that would not bode well in our favour.
So we do manifest our own realities to a degree by choosing our own narrative in life.
All work and more work
It is not uncommon to have individuals work tirelessly to live up to expectations; be it social, professional, or personal.
Some strive their entire lives to please their employers and find themselves stuck in the same rut every day. Trapped in corporate limbo under the delusion that it is the best thing that they can have work-wise and therefore it is unwise to change jobs. You want out and keep telling yourself that this is the day you leave a place with a toxic work environment, top brass that treat you like carrion at a corporate feast, and an organisational framework full of out-of-date practices where the company values processes and profitability, willing to sacrifice its human capital element – regardless of how long you’ve been a dedicated and hardworking asset.
When it’s all work and more work, you have nothing to show for it – when you wake up depressed and hit the sack in unadulterated misery, then that’s a problem. You will no longer perform at your peak and optimum capacity. You will not be motivated to rise to every occasion and be the best you can be at your job. If this is the case, ask yourself “Is it actually worth it? Am I happy with my job role and how I am treated? What can I do to change my situation?”
Some stay in toxic relationships fooling themselves that it is worth their while and emotional and psychological investment to be with someone who does not respect, regard, or value your time and effort. You might be telling yourself that you want out constantly but fall prey to gaslighting, manipulation, and emotional sabotage. Your partner might be someone who keeps fulfilling all her/his goals while you are stuck and stagnant in terms of doing the stuff that you need to ascertain your growth. A relationship is not a one way street. It’s a cosmic stream flowing through channels and straits both ways. Which is why it’s such a complex thing to balance and maintain.
You need to accept that a relationship is only as hard as the effort made. It’s pretty damn hard if it’s one person putting all the effort. It becomes manageable and something worth holding onto if it’s a team sport and not a solo life event.
How about peer pressure? I speak of the sort where social status symbols are flaunted by some so that others feel inferior and undervalued. There are people who place momentous worth and self-value on attaching themselves to money, power, designation, lavish lifestyles full of exuberant escapades, expensive vehicles, accessories, etc. Don’t we all know at least a few people like this? For them, their status depends on what they drive, the haute couture they flaunt, what mobile they use, and where they will dine and be seen. It’s a never ending charade and status game, while that too is a noxious entrapment for others who may not have the same privileges, inheritances, or advantages in life. But does that mean you should limit yourself? To stop aspiring to become something more? To improve one’s livelihood and standards in life?
But do our standards in life necessarily stem from the things we own and flaunt? Or does improving our wellbeing come from something more internalised and visceral?
Look at all the things money cannot buy. Love. Family. Trust. True loyalty. Lasting respect. Integrity. Empathy. Wisdom. Serenity. Dignity. Virtue. Values. Talent. Character. Inner-peace. Self-love and self-growth. Emotional mastery.
Would you trade all of the above for money, success, and power?
Is wealth of the soul not as integral as the wealth of one’s liquid assets?
Let’s put a few things into perspective here.
Our mentality is a vital constituent of our overall wellbeing. The thoughts we harbour, the feelings we mull over, and the ideals that we clutch onto are linked to our attitude and outlook.
Does it not make sense then that the more we control our thoughts, the more we prep ourselves to deal with things with a more positive spirit and strike a balance in finding grace and gratitude in the gifts, talents, and circumstances that we do have in our favour…that we will be able to channel our attentions and focus, our energies in engaging with meaningful people who add value to our personal progress. We will be devoting time and effort towards things that will give us a sense of satisfaction and pleasure through the turmoil, hardship, and pain – because we are truly passionate about that investment. We will be detached from trying to placate and impress others and instead work fervently to empower and satiate ourselves.
Believe me, it makes a world of difference.
Stoicism teaches the development of self-control and fortitude as a means of overcoming destructive emotions.
We can start with a few small things to fortify ourselves and overcome negative sentiments and destructive habits.
- Discipline: Nothing is worth achieving without self-discipline. The discipline of our minds and bodies will help formulate discipline of life. Practice it in small ways. Set goals and objectives daily and work with consistency to see those things through. Whether it’s waking up in the morning and arranging your bed, starting off your day with a modicum of self reflection and prayer or whether it’s devoting time for your family or self everyday – fit and schedule it in and keep at it.
- Gratitude: It might sound a little ridiculous, but I assure you it is not. Start your day with gratitude and being thankful for being alive, for what you have in life, the moments that have added value and joy to you. You begin your day’s journey on a positive note with appreciation in your heart.
- Self-control: Harder than it sounds and yet the key to your mental, psychological, and emotional wellbeing. Practice controlling the things you can and stop worrying about stuff that’s beyond your control. We spend a terrific percentage of our lives beating and bludgeoning ourselves over stuff we have no control over; future circumstances, what others think and feel about us, etc. Concentrate on controlling what you can and you’ll start to see a difference.
- Self-love: Perhaps one of the key aspects in life we neglect often is forgetting to value ourselves. Not in a conceited fashion but treasure your worth. Allow yourself some self-appreciation, that’s fine. In fact, to find a semblance of balance and to fortify yourself, first learn to respect and have some regard for yourself and those small achievements in life to inspire yourself to work relentlessly and purposefully.
So when next you need to get cracking on something, when you must wake up knowing you have a day wrought with obstacles and challenges, remember to tell yourself that you get to do these things instead of got.
Change your narrative. After all, are you not the master/mistress of your story?
I leave you with the words of Marcus Aurelius: “The happiness of your life depends upon the qualities of your thoughts.”
(The writer is the frontman and lyricist of Stigmata, a creative consultant and brand strategist by profession, a self-published author and poet, thespian, animal rescuer, podcaster, and fitness enthusiast)
The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect those of this publication.