You’ve heard the saying, “You’re your own worst enemy.” This is true even for many successful, happy people. There are usually some behaviors or beliefs in all of us that need adjusting so that we can be our “own best friend” instead. The New Year is always a great opportunity to evaluate our lives and see how we can improve. Consider these seven important steps to a happier, more successful YOU.
1. Develop new core beliefs about yourself
Over our lifetimes we collect a lot of experiences and beliefs, including a lot of debris. For many of us, we develop negative thought patterns that cause negative self-talk. Recognizing and changing your core beliefs about yourself will take time and effort, but will have the biggest impact when it comes to improving your life.
- Pay attention to your inner self-talk. Write it down. It’s important to catalog your thoughts in order to be aware of them. Then ask yourself, would you say that to a friend? Would you say that to a child? How would that affect the child’s growth and success? That’s what you’re doing to yourself.
- Think about aspects of your life that are not as you would like them to be and try to think of why that is. Write it down. Just keep writing and eventually, the core reasons should come out.
- Look at your life, experiences, and accomplishments as if writing a resume. Focus on the successes. Put a positive spin on everything, as if you’re really trying for a job or an award. This will help you see positive aspects in your life that you may have missed before.
Take your time to do this, perhaps over several weeks. After a while, look back and review. Make a decision to start saying positive things about yourself, as if you’re trying to encourage a child or your best friend to succeed and be happy. Look at your successes and what you want to do with a positive perspective, recognizing you are successful, you have talent, and you can keep growing.
2. See obstacles and mistakes as opportunities
Step 1 is so important because it will help with every other step, especially this one. Life is messy. You will never be perfect, and you don’t have to be. Life is a wonderful adventure, a chance to learn and continue to grow. Obstacles make us stronger and mistakes are opportunities to learn. When we encounter them, obstacles and mistakes hurt. But if you can turn your thoughts around, they won’t hurt for long and they will help you grow.
3. Choose the right people
Spend the bulk of your time with people who make you feel positive and loved. Find people who share your interests and passions and who generally like you to strengthen you and give you confidence.
4. Conquer fear with love
Love of self, love of your dreams, love of others: when love is strong in your heart, you will conquer fear, because you will have motivation to surpass it for the good of others, your dream, or yourself.
5. Be grateful
Wake up each morning and try to immediately think of something for which you are grateful, even if it’s just that you’re grateful you have another day. Focus on gratitude throughout your day. If every day you feel like you’ve received a gift, then every day will feel like your birthday.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean that it’s okay that someone did or said something hurtful. It means you will not let that person hurt you anymore. This is huge and often takes counseling if the harm is grave. But for many people, it’s an important step in moving on.
7. Do YOU
Hopefully this process has helped you see more clearly who you are, what you like, and where you want to go. Be courteous to others, but be yourself. You don’t have to mold yourself into something you’re not in order to please other people.
The New Year is full of potential. Taking the time to reflect, review your life, and make some changes can make it an even better year than last. If you need help going through this process, a therapist can often help. I love helping people evaluate their thinking and choices to make changes that support a happy, healthy life.