By Fatimah Musa
I worked hard for the past 17 years. I felt I had to. I only finished high school. Without a certificate to flaunt and yet wanting to climb the corporate ladder, I dedicated my effort and time to my work. I was proud of myself. At 40 years old I had reached a manager's position.
The day came when I was handed the letter. Why did the company fire me? Was I not good enough? It was a massive blow to my ego. My questions only brought back anger. I was not resourceful and I could not see any positive meaning to it.
As I thought about it longer, I became more angry and annoyed. Then the emotions turn into fear. What can I do now? Who would employ me? At this age and with a lack of education, how could I get another job?
I was becoming an unendurable person. My relationship, which was already on the rocks suffered further. I was no longer the person I used to be. I complained and whined. I lost the confidence in myself. I could not see myself in any other way but a "wimp".
I avoided friends and ignored and neglected my partner. There were no more constructive conversations between us. He was getting on well with her career and moving upwards. And the more I saw him succeeding the more I felt bad about myself. I was ashamed of myself. I thought that I was not good enough for him anymore. Finally he has had it. He walked out of my life.
Not only have I lost my job. I also have lost someone whom I thought was the one for me. More resentment and self-pity came over me. I was angry with him. How could he leave me if he had loved me?
I was not only broke but also alone. I was so broke that I could not afford my own home. The finance company repossessed my car. I had no material things left except my clothes in my luggage and a few books.
It has to take two catastrophes to make me wake up to my senses. I had to change immediately. That was the only choice I had.
Losing your self-confidence is bad. Losing your self-esteem is worse. Losing your self is a disaster. Until...
I decided to change...in my thinking.
I have to meet my basic need first, food and shelter. The company I went to offered lodging so I took the job that paid only a quarter of what I used to earn. Alone and still broke"but this time I looked at what I had left.
Change does not come easy. Recovering your self-confidence and your self-esteem is an attitude and mindset that needs discipline. You need to develop the disciplines that can boost your trust in yourself again.
1. Admit that you have messed up.
Whatever happened, has happened to someone else too. It is how you make out of it that matters. You either let it go and move on or wallow in self-pity. If you had taken the second option as I did, you will realize that your life would be messier than when it started. It is not too late. Admit your mistakes, forgive yourself and move on.
2. Write down realistic goals.
When your self-esteem plummets, it is tough to see bright, colorful pictures of yourself smiling at your achievements. Set several realistic goals to start with. For a start, these were some of my goals"
- Put on 5kg.
Lost that. I was looking very thin and gaunt for my height. I need to lift my self-image.
- Cut smoking to 10 cigarettes a day.
I can't afford more anyway
- Read 1 hr daily
Got to feed my mind with something positive
- Take 20minutes walk in the park a day
I needed some fresh air and away from the cramp abode of mine
- Keep a journal
I shunned friends so at least I could use this to pour out my feelings.
- Record my activities
I must make full use of my time
- Pray and meditate
Somehow, I know I am not alone.
I worked on them and made certain that I followed the disciplines. It felt good to strike out each activity daily. And when the good feelings enter again, I added more goals to my list. Slowly but surely, I began to feel good about myself again.
3. Interrupt the negative self-talks and critics.
Your self-talks will not stop and mostly they are negative and criticizing. This is a challenge especially when you are trying and working hard on yourself.
Learn to listen to them. Catch them "in the act". Remove, cancel, and delete. Do whatever within your power to fight back. It's funny how you could move away from people who criticize you. At times you can even tell them to shut their mouth up and you can't even tell your voices within to leave you alone.
You need to be aware. You must listen. Then when you hear, you could either so gently tell the voices to leave you alone. Or, if the voices are softly whispering, tell them firmly to get out.
Consciously now, speak something out loud or within yourself that you are worthy. However and whatever you say, feed your ears and your mind with encouraging words like "I love myself". Isn't it better than hearing it say over and over again how hopeless you are?
4. Remember and recall successful and positive experiences.
If you really try, you will be able to remember a few of your success. I sat down in a "relaxed mode and at first have to force myself to think of one experience that I was proud of. Soon enough, I found out that I had quite a number of beautiful experiences.
- There was a time when I was given 3 promotions in a year.
- I remembered the time when I sat with my friends watching the sun setting on the horizon.
- I recalled my first experience snorkeling and seeing the beautiful and colorful fishes under the sea in spite of my fear of water.
- The day when I first saw my niece one hour after she was born
When you can play back these memories and experiences, you will realize that you have had great times many times over. Why rewind and play the sad and dis-empowering movies in your mind? Will it make you feel good? If not discard them just as easy as throwing photographs that we do not wish to look at.
This is a mind's game. We can decide what to do with our mind. Richard Bandler stated that the brain is his favorite toy. Let's make that ours too. We have them too don't we?
5. Keep a journal.
This can be therapeutic. You can write down what you think and feel. No one is going to correct your grammar. No one is going to argue about it. This is because no one is going to see it. It is yours. Why let those words keep voicing out in your head. Write them out. Say what you want to say. And maybe laugh at some of them when you sit back and read them many months later.
Write down your activities too. How much time did you spend sleeping? What time did you get up? What was the first thing you saw when you got up? Whom did you meet today and how long did you use your time for socializing? How many push-ups did you do today?
What ideas came to your mind today? What have you learned at work? What can you do to improve your income?
6. Read and listen.
When I first started out again, I did not have many friends. My weekends were quiet. There were moments when I dreaded just the thought of it. I did not have many books to read and I did not have much money to buy them. So I spent my time at the public library.
Reading motivational and inspiration books helped me especially at those times when I was down and out. I read and read. It has kept me inspired and my interest in other subjects has broadened. After a while I started to listen to motivational tapes. I fed my mind. I was determined to make my life work.
When you are down and out, and you think that no one is there for you, think again. As a saying go, "you are invisibly being watched over".
About The Author
Fatimah Musa provides information, tips and quotes written to help people become aware that any future growth starts with their personal growth. You can visit Fatimah at http://www.about-personal-growth.com.
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