Optimism Answers

What to do when you are lost?

Hello, Thank you for reaching out on the Better Help Platform to ask your question: What to do when you are lost? I am wondering if you might be experiencing some symptoms of depression.   When we are depressed, we can lose all hope for the future, always have no energy, consistently feel sad without knowing why, and are not interested in anything.  So, if you feel like you might be suffering from this illness, you may want to consider seeking help from a trained mental health professional. However, something similar to yet entirely different from depression: lack of motivation or interest so let me start there in answering your question.  I will share some information and tips with you. Feeling a loss of interest can make it harder to do the things you need to do each day. It can leave you feeling listless, disinterested, and unmotivated to do much of anything at all - including being around friends.  There might be things that used to interest you, but now you can’t seem to find the motivation or inspiration to do them. I will answer your question with trying to help you figure out some practical solutions for getting back that zest for life and motivate yourself to find and do things that interest you.   Let’s dive into the reasons why you feel unmotivated and uninterested. 1. You’re Stuck in a Rut You wake up, work, eat, and go to sleep… Wake up, work, eat, and go to sleep… Wake up, work, eat, and go to sleep. Multiply those activities enough times, throw in some mindless web-surfing and YouTube-bingeing, and congratulations — you’ve got yourself in the middle of a bonfide rut. Being stuck in a rut is like getting stranded in the middle of nowhere with nothing but saltine crackers and water. It feels as if you have no choice but to eat the same bland, flavorless food every day. You do it because you have to, not because you want to. Lucky for you; you can get yourself out of that rut and reignite your interests by trying a couple of solutions. Solutions: Get out of your comfort zone by injecting new and challenging activities into your life. Do more things you’re scared of.  2. You’re Not Playing to Your Strengths One of the reasons why you are probably not interested in anything right now is that your daily activities aren’t tailored around your strengths. In other words, you’re not doing things you’re great at. To find your strengths, try my GPS Formula by asking yourself: What am I GREAT at? What am I PASSIONATE about? How can I combine the two mentioned above in SERVICE to others? The convergence of your answers is the key to finding your strengths. Solutions: Find out your motivation style by taking the free assessment, then play to the strengths of your style.   Conduct the GPS Formula exercise described above. Experiment with new ideas and potential hobbies. Consider starting a side-hustle like an online business based around something you’re great at. 3. Your Subconscious Beliefs Hold You Back Sometimes, we hold back and prevent ourselves from embracing exciting changes because we’re afraid of failure. Maybe you’d like to try picking up a new skill or sport, but you make up reasons for why you’re not interested in learning more. You tell yourself you’re not interested… But is that really true?   Do you lack interest or courage? Often, a lack of the latter keeps us from exploring more of the former. Solutions:  Challenge yourself to try more activities to see if they might peak your interest, even though you think you might fail. Think of them as trial runs or tests, if you will, to help you determine whether they’re worth pursuing.  4. You’re Not Aiming High Enough Regardless of what we seek to accomplish in life, it’s how much we desire to achieve our goals that end up becoming crucial to fulfilling them. Unfortunately, too many people try to set limits on their desire and tell themselves and others that they don’t need incredible success. However, this kind of thinking is dangerous. When we limit the scope of our desire, we put a cap on what we’re willing to do to reach our goals and succeed in life. When that happens, we limit the scope of our motivation and interest on any given activity and a general sense of fulfillment. A lack of exciting and desirable goals easily lowers your motivation and makes you feel like you’re not interested in anything. The solution to this problem is what’s known as The 10X Rule, which states that: You must set targets that are 10 times what you think you want and then do 10 times what you think it will take to accomplish those targets.   While some folks will tell you that setting impossible goals kills motivation and that it’s better to “under promise and overdeliver,” this line of thinking is foolish. 10X-targets (commonly called stretch goals) will only spur you on harder to do more and try more than you ever have done before. Besides, even if we fall short of achieving our 10X-level aims and ambitions, it is still better to fall short of achieving a massive target than merely achieving a tiny one. If you aim high enough, you’ll demand more from yourself and become better in pursuit of a massive goal. Nonetheless, setting a high target is only the first step. The next step is to take ten times the amount of action you think is necessary to reach that target. Aiming Big with your Goals: When we have small, uninspiring goals, we tend to feel lethargic and unmotivated to achieve them. On the flip side, when we have vast and ambitious goals, we feel empowered and invigorated to take action towards achieving them.  Bottom line? Set massive goals and take massive action.  Push yourself to your outermost limits. The more action you take, the more motivated and interested you become to work towards your goals further. Time to Spark! Try the methods described above, and you’ll be well on your way to reigniting the interest and motivation you need to lead a more satisfied life.  There is hope for you and if you find that these tips are not helping you get motivated consider reaching out to a trained mental health professional who can support and guide you with some of these ideas and more in-depth interventions.   I wish you much luck and I hope you soon find your life spark back!   Kindly, Gaynor 
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 10/27/2021

What do I do?

It's never too late to accomplish great things.  Age has little to no correlation to accomplishment and many individuals have made great contributions in their later years. Comparing yourself to others only serves to inhibit what you, yourself can contribute.   Having a negative view of past work efforts denies the fact that everything you do has some benefit from having done something, whether successful or not.  Even failures inform us of what does not work and suggest we try again to find out what does.  It's relatively easy to look back and evaluate what you have done against others, only to be disappointed that your achievements or lack thereof, do not meet some artificial standard of accomplishment. The key to motivating yourself is to find something you are truly passionate about. The reward is the intrinsic quality of the work being done itself.  When you find something that you can fully engage in and that has intrinsic value and meaning to you, that is when you feel a sense of achievement. Also, value comes from the journey itself and not necessarily the end product.  If you learn a new skill, develop competencies and proficiencies along the way, that in itself is an accomplishment to take pride in.   Feeling like you are stuck in a rut comes from not being challenged.  If you are in a boring job, have repetitive tasks that are routine, so much so, that a machine could do it, then you are not feeling valued and it can result in you feeling bored, unappreciated, and wasting your time.  If you are asked to do assignments that involve some level of personal involvement, or are creative, or challenging, it is easier to become more involved and absorbed by the opportunity to make a unique contribution to producing something.  Also, if you find what you are working on is not worthwhile, from the standpoint of usefulness or value, then you are probably not feeling like you have made a contribution. and you can just chalk up your efforts toward being a learning experience you might not want to repeat in the future. The point is, ruts are created by not being challenged.  Motivation comes from being put to the test and finding both intrinsic and extrinsic value in what you do or produce.  Avoiding ruts and feeling a sense of accomplishment and self-worth comes from finding something you are passionate about and then pursuing that something as a challenge to conquer.  It's never too late to make that happen and to derive a sense of satisfaction for a job well done.  
(M.S., Ph.D.)
Answered on 10/27/2021

Honestly I Don’t have a question I just need someone to talk to and give me guidance and listen

First and foremost, thank you for reaching out to seek help. You are very brave.  It can be challenging being in a new place or an environment in which you do not have many safe people to share life with. While living with your friend may provide some social support, I do understand that having family issues and no options for guidance can be tough. Better Help is an excellent platform to connect with licensed clinicians who are willing and able to provide a listening ear, helpful insight, and experience. I do agree with you that you have a story to tell. I believe everyone does, and by exploring yours, you can position yourself for positive change.  I want to encourage you to explore your trauma in a safe space and use therapy to process situations that you have encountered. By carefully assessing and unpacking the emotional damage in your life, you give yourself the space to heal. That is no easy feat and it requires time, effort, and a commitment to your mental health. Therapy is a journey. I tell my clients all the time that I am willing to be an active passenger on their journey and while I will never take over the wheel, I will carefully guide them towards the completion of their goals.  Your anxiety, nervousness, and the physical manifestations of worry can all be addressed in the confines of therapy. It is a space in which judgment and condemnation have no place. It is a space to explore your past and the origins of your trauma to create meaningful interventions to address it. The idea of starting therapy may seem intimidating, scary, or even overwhelming, but the issues that you process during your time in therapy and the interventions you learn can be used in a way to help you experience the change that you are seeking. People come to therapy and form a therapeutic alliance for various reasons, but the end game is the same; People want to heal.  I hope that you feel empowered to start your journey. I am rooting for you!  
(EdD, LPC, BC-TMH)
Answered on 10/27/2021

How do I find motivation and energy to finish my study when I feel everything is meaningless?

I am so sorry to hear that you are struggling with motivation and feeling as though things are meaningless. It will be important to recognize when your feelings have a purpose versus when they do not.  We of course want positive feelings in our lives, but sometimes negative feelings are there for a reason and we need to live out that purpose in order for it to get better.  If we do not live out the purpose of our feelings, it likely leads us to feel worse.  For example, something as simple as having anxiety about needing to get the chores done has the purpose of getting us motivated to get the chores done.  Therefore, if we do not live out that purpose and the chores remain undone, that can lead to more bad feelings, such as, “I am lazy” or “I am worthless.”  This is a simple example of how if we do not pay attention to our feelings and live out the purpose, they can become much, much worse.  So, I would encourage you to try and separate out the thoughts that have a purpose from the thoughts that do not have a purpose and are more intrusive.    For the ones that do have a purpose, it can be helpful to allow yourself to think through the anxious thoughts because anxiety has a nasty way of going to the worst possible scenario.  If you can wrap your head around that scenario, it can make it less scary.  For example, I had a client that was very anxious daily about being single for the rest of his life.  Thinking to that extreme is clearly anxiety and it just lingers there.  So, then he was able to think through that scenario and come up with a plan to make it less scary.  He then came up with that if he really is going to be single the rest of his life, which is highly unlikely, he is going to work towards being able to live close to the ocean since that is a dream of his.  Thinking about it now does not make him as scared because he recognizes he could be happy with that. So, try to think through specific things you are anxious about that have a purpose and make sure you have a specific plan on how to improve those things. For example, having a specific plan for how to address specific anxieties you have about doing your work.   Intrusive thoughts tend to not have a purpose and it can be really helpful to try and overpower those before they are accepted as truths.   We can have power over our thoughts and I want to help you not engage in these thoughts that make you so upset.  The easiest example of this that I can think of is if I went skydiving.  If I went skydiving I would have some obvious, rational, anxious thoughts.  If I really have a desire to skydive though I will need to not engage in those thoughts.  I might have thoughts such as, "My parachute could fail, I will hit the ground, I am going to pass out, etc."  However, since I really want to follow through with skydiving, I would want to stop those thoughts in their tracks with, "I know this is going to be really fun, they inspect the parachutes ahead of time, people hardly ever get hurt doing this, etc."  By focusing on those thoughts and not engaging in the others, I would be able to follow through with skydiving. Try to sort through any thoughts that get you down about yourself and that you can’t handle all of this and try to overpower those.  These types of thoughts are very common when dealing with this kind of lack of energy.               As you do those processes it can be helpful to validate yourself as someone whose life has worth and that has been able to get through challenges in your past.  Something that could be helpful for you is what I like to call centering thoughts.  These are thoughts that are predetermined and unique to you for you to turn to in low moments.  They need to be powerful enough to bring you back to your center.  It is important that these thoughts are accessible for you to look at when you need to.  Some clients prefer to read and re-read them and some prefer to write and re-write them until they feel better.  I have clients that write these somewhere they will see daily such as their bathroom mirror or phone background, while others simply have them in their phone to pull out when they need to.  An example of a centering thought would be from a client I had that related to nautical-themed things and her thought was, "I will not let this sink me."  Another example is from an Olympic skier that actually had difficulties with negative thinking getting in the way of her performance so she went to therapy.  She mentioned that she learned about centering thoughts to battle all of the people telling her she “should be” or “should do.”  To battle those thoughts, she uses the simple centering thought of, “I am.”  She can then remind herself that she is good enough, that she is confident, and that she does want to still compete, which really affirms her own feelings and not others.  Hopefully, you can come up with something that helps validate your worth and abilities to move forward.       I hope that some of this is helpful and that you can apply it to your circumstances.  I hope that you can lean on some family and/or friends through this.  Doing so can help take the weight off of your shoulders as well as hopefully get some valuable advice from them. Try to take the healing one day at a time and adding one positive thing back into your life each day. I wish you all the best and I hope that you are staying safe.
(MA, LPC, NCC)
Answered on 10/27/2021

How to love myself and love my soul? How to take care of my soul? Why doesn't nothing interests me?

I can understand how you must be feeling. Life can be very stressful and overwhelming at times. It is always important to try to love yourself, even when you are feeling down. I truly believe that everyone struggles with loving and taking care of themselves at times. Here are some useful tips to always keep in mind when you are feeling negatively: 1.) Get to know yourself better. Invest time in understanding what makes you tick. What do you like to do? What do you believe in? What are your values and aspirations? Etc. 2.)Make sure to set boundaries for yourself! Say "no" when you need to. Be your own advocate and you will feel empowered. 3.)Try not to compare yourself to other people. Others are not better or worse than you or anybody else. Everyone is just different, in their own unique way.  4.)Give yourself a treat. Even if you feel like you haven't "earned it," do something nice for yourself "just because."  5.)Do try to let yourself off the hook for any mistakes you may have made or imperfections you think you have. We are all human, and everyone makes mistakes. Your value does not diminish because of this. Making mistakes is what makes us all grow as individuals. Forgive yourself. 6.)This may sometimes be hard, but try to surround yourself with people that treat you with kindness and respect. Being around people that care for you and genuinely want to see you succeed can automatically help boost your mood. 7.)Allow yourself some alone time to reflect. It's okay to feel any feelings that you have. Write them down. Accept that there will be bad days and that better days are ahead. Listen to some of your favorite music or engage in a new hobby. 8.)This may sound strange, but try to write yourself a love letter! Write down all the times that you admire about yourself. Be kind and truly reflect before writing it down. When you are done, you can look to it whenever you are feeling down. Hopefully, it can put a smile on your face.  I hope that some of these suggestions helped. If you ever need to talk, I am here. Wishing you the best.
(LCSW, MSW)
Answered on 10/27/2021

Burned out.

I am so sorry to hear that you are struggling with feeling so burnt out and it sounds like you are going through so much right now.  It will be important to recognize when your feelings have a purpose versus when they do not.  We of course want positive feelings in our lives, but sometimes negative feelings are there for a reason and we need to live out that purpose in order for it to get better.  If we do not live out the purpose of our feelings, it likely leads us to feel worse.  For example, something as simple as having anxiety about needing to get the chores done has the purpose of getting us motivated to get the chores done.  Therefore, if we do not live out that purpose and the chores remain undone, that can lead to more bad feelings, such as, “I am lazy” or “I am worthless.”  This is a simple example of how if we do not pay attention to our feelings and live out the purpose, they can become much, much worse.  So, I would encourage you to try and separate out the thoughts that have a purpose from the thoughts that do not have a purpose and are more intrusive.    For the ones that do have a purpose, it can be helpful to allow yourself to think through the anxious thoughts because anxiety has a nasty way of going to the worst possible scenario.  If you can wrap your head around that scenario, it can make it less scary.  For example, I had a client that was very anxious daily about being single for the rest of his life.  Thinking to that extreme is clearly anxiety and it just lingers there.  So, then he was able to think through that scenario and come up with a plan to make it less scary.  He then came up with that if he really is going to be single the rest of his life, which is highly unlikely, he is going to work towards being able to live close to the ocean since that is a dream of his.  Thinking about it now does not make him as scared because he recognizes he could be happy with that. So, try to think through specific things you are anxious about that have a purpose and make sure you have a specific plan on how to improve those things. For example, having a specific plan for how to address specific anxieties that you have around added positive things into your life.        Intrusive thoughts tend to not have a purpose and it can be really helpful to try and overpower those before they are accepted as truths.   We can have power over our thoughts and I want to help you not engage in these thoughts that make you so upset.  The easiest example of this that I can think of is if I went skydiving.  If I went skydiving I would have some obvious, rational, anxious thoughts.  If I really have a desire to skydive though I will need to not engage in those thoughts.  I might have thoughts such as, "My parachute could fail, I will hit the ground, I am going to pass out, etc."  However, since I really want to follow through with skydiving, I would want to stop those thoughts in their tracks with, "I know this is going to be really fun, they inspect the parachutes ahead of time, people hardly ever get hurt doing this, etc."  By focusing on those thoughts and not engaging in the others, I would be able to follow through with skydiving. Try to sort through any thoughts that get you down about yourself and that you can’t handle all of this and try to overpower those.  These types of thoughts are very common when dealing with these kinds of life situations that are out of your control.     As you do those processes it can be helpful to validate yourself as someone of worth and that has been able to get through challenges in your past.  Something that could be helpful for you is what I like to call centering thoughts.  These are thoughts that are predetermined and unique to you for you to turn to in low moments.  They need to be powerful enough to bring you back to your center.  It is important that these thoughts are accessible for you to look at when you need to.  Some clients prefer to read and re-read them and some prefer to write and re-write them until they feel better.  I have clients that write these somewhere they will see daily such as their bathroom mirror or phone background, while others simply have them in their phone to pull out when they need to.  An example of a centering thought would be from a client I had that related to nautical-themed things and her thought was, "I will not let this sink me."  Another example is from an Olympic skier that actually had difficulties with negative thinking getting in the way of her performance so she went to therapy.  She mentioned that she learned about centering thoughts to battle all of the people telling her she “should be” or “should do.”  To battle those thoughts, she uses the simple centering thought of, “I am.”  She can then remind herself that she is good enough, that she is confident, and that she does want to still compete, which really affirms her own feelings and not others.  Hopefully, you can come up with something that helps validate your worth and abilities to move forward.       I hope that some of this is helpful and that you can apply it to your circumstances.  I hope that you can lean on some family and/or friends through this.  Doing so can help take the weight off of your shoulders as well as hopefully get some valuable advice from them. Try to take the healing one day at a time and adding one positive thing back into your life each day. I wish you all the best and I hope that you are staying safe.
(MA, LPC, NCC)
Answered on 10/27/2021

am I depressed?

Hello Thelonious, I am glad you reached out for support at this time.  I am sorry you are struggling at this moment.  I would encourage you to start to work with a therapist to help you learn skills to help you overcome your struggles.  If we were to meet I would first talk to you about the counseling process through our site and how together we could help you obtain your goals going forward, how I work as a counselor and how I would try to help you through the counseling process.  I would also take the first session to get to know you by asking you a few questions to get a better understanding of your struggles so that I am able to focus on a plan and goals to work on going forward. I want you to know that you are not alone during this time even though you may feel like you are alone at this time.  During the therapy process, you can have support 100% of the time as you are able to reach out and talk to a therapist 24 hours a day 7 days a week.  I am going to send you some skills and tools to help you during this time of struggle you are having. I am unsure if what you are feeling is depression, or just not having things in your life that make you happy. If we were to work together we would be going over these things to see if it is depression or something else and more tools to help you through your struggles and be able to ask for support from others. After reading your question, I wanted to send you a few different readings, the first is on Motivation and What causes a lack of motivation? I will also send you ways to find your happiness.Oftentimes feeling motivated is elusive. This feeling comes and goes unpredictably and sometimes doesn't even show up at all. As a result, you may find yourself procrastinating, not working toward goals, and often feeling depressed. The problem with motivation is that you may feel inspired when feeling motivated, to the point that it may seem too difficult to put forth effort when motivation is absent. Then you end up waiting for motivation to inspire you to work toward your goals, and you may waste a lot of time waiting for it to happen on its own. The more you wait, the more time goes, which could mean you don't feel like you are doing what matters, and you can easily become demoralized. What other factors affect motivation? In terms of work, there are a few major factors that determine whether or not a person can stay motivated. These are pride, recognition, monetary rewards, pressure (either by their peers or bosses), and fear. A person will need to work through these things if they want to stay motivated on a regular basis. While these factors pertain to professional goals, this does not make them any less valid in a personal sense. In other words, they may still govern you in your private life. If you are not getting the recognition you need when it comes to a relationship, you are unlikely to keep doing some of the same things you may have done at the beginning of the relationship. This is to be expected. There are different reasons why you may not feel motivated. The motivation problem could be a situation in your life or a cognitive and emotional challenge that we have been discussing in our sessions. We will discuss more strategies and tools to help you feel and stay motivated in our sessions. In the meantime here are some things you can do. What can you do about it? 1. Put it in writing. Please identify what you want and put it in writing. Be as clear and specific as possible - include both quantitative (something that can be measured) and qualitative (including how you will feel) aspects. Once you write it down, keep it somewhere in sight. We make plans and make promises to ourselves to follow through, but if it's just in our minds, we tend to forget both plans and promises as soon as life gets busy. Putting things in writing holds you accountable for your goals; it also serves as a reminder of all the progress you made. 2. Minimize distractions. When you are disorganized, you cannot progress with anything because your attention is divided between so many things. Procrastination can become a problem because you waste your energy on matters that don't really matter. Nothing is more distracting and demotivating than a cluttered mind. If you find yourself running in circles, hit "pause" and take a moment to think back to your priorities. When you know your priorities, it is very easy to trim off all the time-eaters and energy-zappers that keep you from moving forward. 3. Be aware of the potential pitfalls. Ask yourself what obstacles you might encounter while making progress towards your goals. It is important to be aware of all potential stumbling blocks because you can then decide how to deal with these obstacles. When you actually run into them, you will be able to eliminate them without losing your motivation. After you note down your potential obstacles, the next step is to categorize them into three groups: Those you can control; Those that you can influence; and those you can neither control nor influence. Don't waste your energy on things you cannot fight; instead, focus on what can be done and keep moving forward. 4. Embrace positivity. Practice positive self-talk and do things that make you happy because when you are happy, you feel more energized and motivated. Of course, unexpected and undesirable things can happen, and they can negatively affect your attitude and resolve. Remember, negative self-talk and excessive self-criticism will only exacerbate matters and will further weaken your motivation. On the other hand, positive self-talk will help you bounce back faster to your usual self and continue to move forward as if nothing happened. 5. Reward yourself. Everyone likes rewards - they make us feel happy, valued, and recognized. Rewards don't need to be big to affect us positively; sometimes, even a scheduled break can reward us. Little rewards here and there for whatever progress you have made will give your motivation a good boost and maintain a positive outlook throughout your journey. Occasional rewards provide that instant gratification that we all crave.   Ways to Find HappinessHappiness and emotional fulfillment are within your grasp. Happiness is and will always be the most cherished, yet most elusive, of all human desires. Day in and day out, many search for happiness, but end the day empty-handed.Happiness isn’t something that someone gives us, nor is it something that we have to have permission for. Happiness is a state of mind that is created from within. We all want to feel happy, and each of us has different ways of getting there.  Be with others who make you smile. Studies show that we are happiest when we are around those who are also happy. Stick with those who are joyful and let rub off on you. Do you ever wonder why you don’t seem to feel as happy as the person next to you? Do you ever feel that you are on the sidelines looking in on a party you were never invited to? Maybe you seemingly have everything you could possibly want materialistically, but still can’t quite feel that elusive internal contentment?Maybe you wish you had more, and are not satisfied with your current life circumstances and believe that if you just get that ‘perfect job’ you can then be happy. Or maybe you’ve lost a love…maybe you’ve never had one… and feel that your life is not complete without a significant other to bring you the happiness that is so rightfully yours, but seems to be just out of reach. Regardless of your personal circumstances, it is possible to find internal happiness, that form of happiness that feeds on nothing, except your own desire to find it.PIES is a common acronym for the complete package to ensure happiness. P – physical exercise, I – intellectual stimulation, E – emotional stimulation, S – spiritual stimulation. And with this in mind, I have completed a list of things that we all can do to bring out our own internal happiness that is non-reliant on any other person. 1.   Hold on to your values. What you find true, what you know is fair, and what you believe in are all values. Over time, the more you honor them, the better you will feel about yourself and those you love.2.   Accept the good. Look at your life and take stock of what’s working, and don’t push away something just because it isn’t perfect. When good things happen, even the very little ones, let them in.3.   Imagine the best. Don’t be afraid to look at what you really want and see yourself getting it. Many people avoid this process because they don’t want to be disappointed if things don’t work out. The truth is that imagining getting what you want is a big part of achieving it.4.   Do things you love. Maybe you can’t skydive every day or take vacations every season, but as long as you get to do the things you love every once in a while, you will find greater happiness.5.   Find purpose. Those who believe they are contributing to the well-being of humanity tend to feel better about their lives. Most people want to be part of something greater than they are, simply because it’s fulfilling.6.   Listen to your heart. You are the only one who knows what fills you up. Your family and friends may think you’d be great at something that really doesn’t float your boat. It can be complicated following your bliss. Just be smart, and keep your day job for the time being.7.   Push yourself, not others. It’s easy to feel that someone else is responsible for your fulfillment, but the reality is that it is really your charge. Once you realize that, you have the power to get where you want to go. Stop blaming others or the world, and you’ll find your answers much sooner.8.   Be open to change. Even if it doesn’t feel good, change is the one thing you can count on. The change will happen, so make contingency plans and emotionally shore yourself up for the experience.9.   Bask in the simple pleasures. Those who love you, treasured memories, silly jokes, warm days, and starry nights—these are the ties that bind and the gifts that keep on giving.10.            State your achievements“There is joy in work. There is no happiness except in the realization that we have accomplished something.” – Henry FordIt’s easy to get caught up in day-to-day life and never take the time to reflect on the things we have accomplished. Each of us has done plenty of awesome things in our lives.So what if life isn’t perfect at this exact moment. It’s okay that it’s taking a tad bit longer with your fitness goals. Don’t worry that you haven’t reached the pinnacle of your career just yet.The most important thing is that you are moving forward and you’re in a better position today than you were yesterday.Start a journal listing accomplishments, milestones, and breakthroughs you’ve experienced. After writing this list, take a moment or two to reflect on all you’ve done.11.   Include the little things you love into your day-to-day life“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” – Robert BraultI’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “It’s the little things in life that matter.” The little things are the small and often underappreciated aspects of life that truly make us happy. Rather, it’s your favorite cup of Joe, your morning walk along the beach, attending your favorite yoga class, or wearing that outfit that makes you feel like a million bucks.Schedule your life around the small details that bring you happiness.12.  Do what you loveAs Steve Jobs famously said, “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”People who do what they love for a living tend to live happier and more productive life, have higher self-esteem and have better health. 13.  Paint your perfect day“To accomplish great things, we must first dream, then visualize, then plan…believe…act!” – Alfred A. MontapertEveryone has the power to live each day exactly the way they want to. We all have the same 24 hours to work with. It’s up to you to decide how to fill up those minutes.Ask yourself, are you wasting time watching reality TV, sleeping late, complaining about your job, and wishing for a better life? Or are you going after your goals and dreams, and doing whatever it takes to reach them?Take these 3 steps to achieve your perfect day:Realize you have the power to achieve anything you’ve ever wanted and no one else can do the work for you. Figure out what your perfect day looks like. You must believe 100% that your perfect day will become a reality.14.  Put yourself above everything else“Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in the world.” – Lucille BallIt’s time you put yourself first and become selfish. While it’s admirable to help others, don’t forget to show yourself some love. Treat yourself to a massage. Take a weekend trip where you can disconnect from the noisy world you live in.Block out your time and let no one cut in.15.  Tell yourself today will be awesome“Success is a state of mind. If you want success, start thinking of yourself as a success.” – Dr. Joyce BrothersHappiness comes from within. Happiness starts with reshaping your mindset to be positive and eliminating all negative thoughts.Be positive and believe in yourself, no matter the obstacles that might stand in your way.16.             Forget being perfect and accept yourself as is“If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content.” – Leo TolstoyPeople often act confident and secure around others but deep down, they’re insecure.Realize we live in an imperfect world and stop comparing yourself to others (it’s not worth it to play ‘Keeping up with the Joneses’).Once you learn to accept yourself for who you are, life becomes simpler and more peaceful.17.              Surround yourself with the right company“Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higherYour friends should bring out the best version of you and help you strive to new levels in life. Think of your company in terms of quality instead of quantity.It’s more important to have a few quality friends who inspire you, than tons of friends who leave you in a negative state of mind.18.             Stop worrying and keep it moving“Stop worrying about what you have to lose and start focusing on what you have to gain.” – Author unknownLife is full of what-ifs and endless possibilities. Whatever is going to happen, is going to happen, whether you worry or not.So, why waste time worrying when some things you have no control over?If what you are worried about isn’t within your means to be solved, then move on and don’t let it put a damper on your parade. Embrace the uncertainty that life brings us and get to enjoying life.  19. Get out of your comfort zone and become bold“Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.” – Brian TracyWe cannot become what we want to be by remaining what we are.” – Max DepreeNothing worth having comes with a 100% guarantee of success, nor should it. Being willing to take risks is what life is all about.Living in your comfort zone shrinks your world and gives you tunnel vision. Instead of thinking, “If only I had…,” take a leap of faith, and maybe, just maybe, you’ll discover the life you always wanted.20.             Have a feel-good song“Words make you think. Music makes you feel. A song makes you feel a thought.” – Yip HarburgEveryone needs a go-to song when they need to brighten up their day. It’s been proven that music can make us happy even on our worst days.21.             Eat HealthyThe first step one should take in making internal improvements is acknowledging your food choices. I know you’ve heard the cliche ‘You are what you eat.’ Well, a corny cliche that it is, but there is an element of truth to this age old saying!Fresh fruits and vegetables will provide you with the necessary vitamins and minerals to energize your body throughout the day, providing your various body systems with oxygen and energy that can greatly impact your overall mood and sense of well-being. Junk food will deplete your energy, and leave you feeling sluggish for the bulk of the day.So often when we’re busy we forget to eat, and will then grab the quickest snack available without thinking of the impending effects of unhealthy eating. Snacking on a bowl of grapes, or some refreshing watermelon can bring an amazing boost to your morale and energy level. And don’t forget…along with all this healthy eating, keeping hydrated is also very important.22.             ExerciseAlong with healthy eating comes exercise. It needn’t be strenuous, this post isn’t about improving one’s bicep ratio!  A simple increase in heart rate will increase your endorphins giving you a natural feeling of happiness, and I do believe it’s the endorphins that give many avid exercise enthusiasts their momentum for endurance. Physical exercise and the increase in those endorphins can naturally increase mood positivity. Just 20 to 30 minutes each day should keep your spirits right at par with your endorphin level!  23.  Treat Yourself WellSo now that the technical stuff is out of the way, ie healthy eating and exercise…it’s time to work on the internal stuff.  I was once told by someone during a very difficult time to wrap myself in a comfortable blanket, make myself a hot tea, or hot chocolate, (I guess wine could work too…. but only in moderation, as there is no happiness in a hangover!) and keep that blanket wrapped around you and treat yourself as you would treat someone else who seems to be under the weather.  Maybe when you were young, someone would make you homemade / or store-bought Chicken Soup?Well, this is similar, the comfort of the soup or hot tea and blanket provides warmth and will put your body into a relaxing mode, and therefore release certain chemicals in your brain that will give you that comfort that you once believed could only be received from a significant other. We’ve all heard of the book ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’..well this collection of ‘good-feeling’ books is similar in nature to sitting back and treating yourself well. This was honestly my first step to internal happiness.  And it was a small piece of advice that I’ve carried with me for quite some time now, and it always works during times of unsettlement.24. Take a Break from Social MediaAs you’re relaxing, you may think to yourself that it is the perfect time to check in on social media, but you might want to try and resist, and depending on your cohort, this may prove to be more difficult for some than for others!  Remember, this time is about yourself and really not about your friends. It’s time you dedicated solely for yourself!When you’re not at your happiest moment, seeing other’s perfectly portrayed lives on social media is enough to bring even the happiest person into a non-showering, non-hair brushing, stay in bed all day slump. If you are feeling depressed or down.. avoid, avoid, avoid..social media and watch a comedy or an intriguing drama instead!25. Set that Movie Date Night for YourselfSpeaking of movies…. I have found that a dedicated night to just yourself and a really good movie can do wonders for your morale. Prepare some healthy snacks..and okay….maybe some popcorn too, and settle in for the night with one of your all-time favorite ‘turn-to’ movies when feeling down, or a movie you’ve been just dying to see and never did.With the digital age, the way it is now, thousands of movies are right at your fingertips, and these movies can sometimes give you a greatly needed boost that can actually carry onto the next day. I personally find movies can be incredibly therapeutic and motivational, depending on genre.26. Go out and ExploreThis is my favorite tip of all, probably because it has always worked for me during times when I was feeling down. I have a few places that I like to walk to, and these walks lead me to places that are serene, peaceful, and just downright relaxing. If you have a waterfront, seawall, beach, or just a favorite park, I recommend bringing a blanket, a well-loved book, or magazine and just submit to the inner peace and happiness that is lurking from deep inside. Don’t allow negative thoughts or external problems to enter your mind.Breathe in the fresh air, appreciate the beauty that surrounds you, be it nature, trees, the sea, or an urban paradise, and treat yourself like you are dating yourself. Enjoy this time, and enjoy the fact that this is YOUR life, and you are in charge of allowing yourself to be happy. And if you don’t have a time issue, then take your time there, pretend that you are taking a child or a pet to the park, you would do it for them right? Then take this time and do it for yourself. This is one of the most sure-fire ways of finding happiness.27. Take Pictures of Beautiful ThingsSo you’re taking in the beauty around you, and taking advantage of all this free enjoyment, so why don’t you pull out the phone, or camera and snap a few photos? You never know…. you could find joy or even a hidden talent that you never knew you had! I personally love buildings, I take photos of them all the time…perhaps a little too many photos!Maybe you like the rainfall, or puddles, flowers, landscape, or focus on your creative side and take some unique photos of whatever you fancy from various angles, and see what you come up with. Creativity is in all of us, but sometimes we just need a little nudge to remind us to go find it. If drawing is more your thing…then draw and draw some more… really lets your creativity just take over.28. Write it all outSpeaking of creativity, have you ever thought of keeping a personal journal, or even a not-so personal journal, say your own blog perhaps? Writing can be cathartic, it can be a vessel to release pent-up emotions or frustration. If you write out all that is bothering you, it keeps your mind more organized and transfers your negative thoughts onto that paper, providing you the freedom to focus on positivity.While you’re at it, if you have problems that need solutions, this is also a good time to brainstorm and throw ideas onto that paper that can offer a solution. I’ve often felt that my alone time and list writing have relieved ill feelings leaving more room for my new ventures into that space for internal happiness.29. Declutter and PurgeLastly, if you’ve made it this far, then you are ready to make some serious progress. And this progress starts with completely decluttering and cleaning your home, donating or recycling anything that you don’t need. A clean and clutter-free home is a clean and clutter-free mind. At least that’s how I’ve always felt. Sorry…yes another cliché! Be warned though… this may prove to be more challenging than it appears because if you are still feeling unhappy, and low on energy, then this step may be difficult to overcome.But can you imagine how simultaneously relaxing and revitalizing a clean home can be? Pump up on those fruits, drink some water, juice, or splurge on a beverage of your choice…turn on the tunes, and get cleaning!  You will feel better once you start, and even better once you’ve finished!ConclusionSo now that you’ve tried the steps above from eating healthy and regular exercise to embracing the spiritual side of yourself, it’s time to make all of this a regular part of your routine. If you can truly embrace the simple beauty around and within you, then you will be well on your way to internal happiness, solely reliant upon yourself. I found it. These are the steps I took, and I hope you can find the happiness you deserve as well. Happiness and fulfillment are within your grasp, but sometimes just out of reach. Understanding what works best for you is the first step in finding them more often. I hope that these skills have been helpful for you in the struggles you have been facing at this time. I am going to give you my information if you are wanting to start to process through and work on your struggles going forward, please reach out to Betterhelp and ask to be matched with Crystal Westman. If we were to work together we would work on more skills and tools to help you when you are struggling and get back to a positive space.  I encourage you to reach out for support at this time to help you get to the best version of yourself.
Answered on 10/27/2021

How to not feel negative all the time?

To start, thank you for sharing about yourself and I am sorry to hear you are struggling. I'm afraid there isn't a super easy and quick answer to this question. It is really important to know more about what you've experienced and how you've wired this way of thinking. I will do my best to give you some things to help you start but the best thing to do would be to work with a counselor on building your insights and coping. This is something most therapists are equipped to help you with.  The first thing you will want to do is work on your mindfulness. This will be a skill you'll have to practice and build on. Being aware of what things trigger your negativity and what your thought process is will help you to implement the next piece. Journaling these things or making quick notes for yourself so when you are out of that mindset you can reflect on it and see what you can pull to help you the next time. Reframing is the next piece. When you recognize these negative thoughts or triggers coming up in your mind, taking a second to reframe that thought to be more positive. Again, not a simple or easy task--- it takes practice. If you notice negativity creeping up a lot, saying to yourself "stop" or something you come up with that helps you let it go. That being said, it is important for you to process with your counselor those emotions to continue building those skills. Setting them aside at the moment may be helpful, but don't ignore them. An important aspect I wanted to make sure to address is the piece you said about feeling low. It sounds like the negative thoughts and feeling directly impacting your overall mood. That must be really difficult for you to hold on to your own, especially considering it sounds like you don't feel confident opening up with your family or friends. As difficult as it must be to share those thoughts with others, it is important you can do so with someone who can help you feel supported, validated and can offer you ways to make the changes you want to make.  The fact that you want to work on this speaks volumes. You are making strides in the right direction and I am confident that you can make improvements with support. 
(MS, LMHC, RPT)
Answered on 10/27/2021

How do I change myself?

This is a great question.  Finding the energy to change may be the reason that you are believing that you cannot change.  Filling out the goals of what you would like to change did require energy, so you are showing that you do have some energy to build on.  I agree, it's easier to think about the person you want to be and the changes you want to see than it is to implement those changes.  Not everyone is aware of changes they want to make, so I want you to recognize what you have going for you in that you can see what you hope to change.   You can discover how to create the energy you need to make those changes with the help of a counselor.  Often the reason that a person feels hopeless about making the changes they recognize they need is that it feels overwhelming trying to change everything at once.  Let's take an example from the physical world.  If you have a messy room, the best place to start is in one corner of the room, and ignore the rest of the chaos.  Once you clear that one corner, you are able to see the difference between those small changes made and it gives you a better grasp of what it takes to make changes, it will motivate you to turn to another part of the room.   How do people change?  That is the work we do as counselors. The question does not have the same answer for every person.  There is no magical formula.  Many people can't move forward because of past issues they have buried perhaps because they are afraid to look at them.  Others might need an objective person to guide them to which corner of the room (figuratively speaking) to start cleaning and ideas of what to do with the things that are there.   If you have done the first part of identifying the ways you want to change, a counselor can guide you through steps you can take to make those changes a reality.  It will not be instant, and you will be the one doing the hard work.  You won't be alone as you will receive encouragement and direction.  Often it doesn't feel like you did the work.  I've had many clients try to give me credit for the changes they made in their lives.  I'm quick to remind them that it was their own hard work.  
(D., Phil., LPC, LMFT)
Answered on 10/27/2021

How can I maintain my highs?

Hello,   Thank you for reaching out today.  Perhaps to maintain an even keel with your high times of being in a good place with your routines in your life you may want to look at what you are doing while you are 'feeling good about your routine.  To check that you are not overstretching yourself too thinly so that you quickly fizzle out over the 'slightest inconvenient thing'.  Once you have done your 'self-check you might want to consider a 'getting back on track plan' for yourself when you notice you are off routine, feel more sluggish, less high and so on.   Get Back on Track: 7 Strategies to Help You Bounce Back After Slipping Up   We have all been there - you follow your diet religiously for a week and then break it with a weekend binge. You commit to working out more, hit the gym for two days, and then struggle to get off the couch after a long day of work. You set a vision for your career and get excited by the possibilities, only to get dragged down in everyday responsibilities and not return to your dream until months later. It may be worth realizing something important: These small hiccups do not make you a failure, they make you human. The most successful people in the world slip up on their habits too. What separates them is not their willpower and motivation. It is their ability to get back on track quickly. There will always be instances when following your regular routine is basically impossible. You do not need superhuman willpower, you just need strategies that can pull you back on track Habit formation hinges on your ability to bounce back. With that said, here are seven strategies that you can use to get back on track and bounce back right now. 1. Schedule your habits in your life. Give your habits a specific space in your life. There are two main options for making this happen. Option 1: Put it on your calendar. Want to get back on track with your writing schedule? 9 am on Monday morning. Butt in chair. Hands-on keyboard. That is when this is happening. Want to bounce back with your exercise habit? Give yourself a time and place that it needs to happen. 6 pm every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I will see you in the gym. Option 2: Tie it to your current behavior. Not all of your habits will fit a specific time frame, but they all should have a trigger that acts as a reminder to do them. Want to floss? Every day after brushing your teeth. Same order, the same way, every time. Want to be happier? Every time you stop at a red light, tell yourself one thing you are grateful for. The red light is the reminder. Same trigger, same sequence, every time. The bottom line is this: it might be good to tell yourself that you are going to change, but getting specific makes it real and gives you a reason and a reminder to get back on track whenever you slip up. Soon is not a time and some is not a number. When and where, exactly, are you going to do this? You might forget once, but what system do you have in place to automatically remind you the next time? For more on how to develop a sequence for your habits, consider: 2. Stick to your schedule, even in small ways. It is not the individual impact of missing your schedule that is a big deal. It’s the cumulative impact of never getting back on track. If you miss one workout, you do not suddenly feel more out of shape than you were before. For that reason, it's critical to stick to your schedule, even if it is only in a very small way. Don't have enough time to do a full workout? Just squat. Don't have enough time to write an article? Write a paragraph. Don't have enough time to do yoga? Take ten seconds to breathe. Don't have enough time to go on vacation? Give yourself a mini-break and drive to the neighboring town. Individually, these behaviors seem pretty insignificant. But it is not the individual impact that makes a difference. It's the cumulative impact of always sticking to your schedule that will carry you to long–term success. Find a way to stick to the schedule, no matter how small it is. 3. Have someone who expects something of you. When you have friends, teammates, and coaches expecting you to be at practice? You show up. The good news is that you do not have to be on a team to make this work. Talk to strangers and make friends in the gym. Simply knowing that a familiar face expects to see you can be enough to get you to show up. 4. Focus on what you can work with. We waste so much time focusing on what is withheld from us. This is especially true after we slip up and get off track of our goals. Anytime we do not do the things we want to do - start a business, eat healthily, go to the gym - we tend to come up with excuses… “I don't have enough money. I don't have enough time. I don't have the right contacts. I don't have enough experience. I need to learn more. I'm not sure what to do. I feel uncomfortable and stupid.” Here is what you might consider thinking instead: “I can work with this.” Because you can. The truth is that most of us start in the same place - no money, no resources, no contacts, no experience - but some people (the winners) choose to get started anyway. It is not easy, but your life will be better if you choose to feel uncomfortable and make progress, rather than complain and make excuses. Shift your focus from what is being withheld from you to what is available to you. It is rare that your circumstances prevent you from making any progress. You might not like where you have to start. Your progress might be slow. But you can work with this. 5. Just because it is not optimal, does not mean it is not beneficial. It is so easy to get hung up on doing things the optimal way and end up preventing yourself from doing them at all. For example: “I really want to eat Paleo, but I go to Chipotle every Friday with my friends and I like to get sour cream and cheese on my burrito and I know that's not Paleo. Plus, I have a book club meeting every Tuesday and we always have ice cream and I don't want to be the only one not joining the group. Maybe I should try something else?” Ask yourself - Is eating clean five days per week better than not eating clean at all? Say: Yes, I believe it is. In fact, eating healthy one day per week is better than none at all. Make that your goal to start: eat clean every Monday. Just because you cannot stick to the optimal schedule, does not mean you should not stick to it at all. Good habits are built gradually. Start slow, live your life, and get better along the way. Progress is a spectrum, not a specific place. Furthermore, if you have not mastered the basics, then why make things harder for yourself by fretting about the details? The optimal strategies will make the last 10% of the difference. Meanwhile, 90% of your results will hinge on you simply sticking to the basics: don't miss workouts, eat real food, do the most important thing first each day. Master the fundamentals now. You can optimize the details later. 6. Design your environment for success. If you think that you need more motivation or more willpower to stick to your goals, then I have good news. You do not. Motivation is a fickle beast. Some days you feel inspired. Some days you do not. If you want consistent change the last thing you want to rely on is something inconsistent. Another great way to overcome this hurdle and get back on track is to design your environment for success. Most of us acknowledge that the people who surround us influence our behaviors, but the items that surround us have an impact as well. The signs we see, the things that are on your desk at work, the pictures hanging on your wall at home - these are all pieces of our environment that can trigger us to take different actions. For example, if you wanted to start flossing consistently, one of the most useful changes you can make is making the task as easy and simple as possible. ie taking the floss out of the drawer and keeping it next to your toothbrush on the counter. It sounds ridiculous to focus on, but the obvious most basic solution such as a visual cue can get you back on track. With this simple environment change, you can make it easy to do the new habit or getting you back on track.   7. Care. It sounds so simple, but make sure that the habits that you are trying to stick to are actually important to you. Sometimes forgetting your habit is a sign that it is not that important to you. Most of the time this is not true, but if it happens often enough it is worth you paying attention to it.  It can be remarkable how much time people spend chasing things that they do not really care about. Then, when they do not achieve them, they beat themselves up and feel like a failure for not achieving something that was not that important to them all along. You only have so much energy to put towards the next 24 hours. Pick a habit that you care about. If it really matters to you, then you will find a way to make it work. Get Back on Track Change can be hard for most of us. In the beginning, your healthy habits might take two steps forward and one step back. Anticipating those backward steps can make all the difference in the world. Develop a plan for getting back on track and recommit to your routine as quickly as possible.   Good Luck, Kindly Gaynor
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 10/27/2021

Exhausted and unable to concentrate. Trying to help many others, but not taking care of myself.

The Sailboat   Goal:  The goal of this sailboat metaphor is to offer a simple and multi-faceted perspective on the self. The metaphor attempts to address human functioning from a holistic perspective, considering the many factors, both positive and negative, that influence well-being daily.   1.       Water  No boat moves in isolation from the water. The water can be compared to what we could call the “playground of life”. Just like the water entails the space in which the boat moves, this is the direct environment that we live in and interact with. This environment is characterized by many factors, like our job, our house, our possessions, geographical location, etc. In short, it is our direct physical reality. All the other elements of the boat metaphor influence the way we perceive and interact with our environment. For instance, a person who holds the belief that he/she cannot achieve anything (this is a “leak” in the boat: element 4) is unlikely to leave his/her comfort zone and is likely to stay in a rather static environment: he/she is unlikely to explore new areas of the sea. In a similar vein, the direct environment of a person who lives in line with his/her personal value of “social connectedness” (steering wheel: element 2) is likely to be characterized by cherished social connections (other boats; element 8). Many clients visit a practitioner because they are unsatisfied with the water upon which they sail: they wish to change their daily reality. Changing the water without considering the other elements of the boat metaphor is possible. We can decide to steer our boat in a different direction so that we move to another area of the sea. Consequently, the water we sail on changes. For instance, we may change our job or leave our hometown. Note, however, that changing one’s environment will not automatically increase well-being. There can be many reasons for changing the environment, like avoidance of negative experiences, such as in the case of a person who chooses another job due to an inability to deal with the negative impact of a current boss. Although he/she has successfully changed the water upon which he/she sails, and avoided the negative experiences with the boss, he/she may soon be struggling again, because the real leak has not been repaired: the water has simply changed. In the new environment, the boss may be replaced by a colleague (another boat: element 8) who brings the experience of the same uncomfortable feelings again because the colleague’s style is remarkably like that of the former boss. This case illustrates that it can sometimes be valuable to address the other elements of the boat first, before changing the physical environment.   2.       Steering Wheel  The steering wheel represents personal values. In the same way, as the steering wheel determines where the boat will go to, values determine how we want to live our life. They are the answer to the question: what do you find important in life? Just like the steering wheel determines a certain direction, values can also be best compared to directions, rather than destinations. Whereas goals can be achieved, values cannot be achieved. For example, the value of being creative can never be fulfilled. Even if the person creates a painting (a concrete goal), it would be silly to say, “Now that I have created this painting, I’ve accomplished creativity. Now I’ll proceed to the next thing.” Therefore, values are best formulated as verbs, in that they are not something that is ever fully achieved. For example, a value might be “being creative” or “contributing to other’s well-being”. Note that the steering wheel represents our current values, whether they are adaptive or maladaptive. Adaptive values contribute to our well-being while maladaptive values reduce wellbeing. When clients have lost connection with their adaptive values, it is often because one or more other elements of the boat receive a disproportionate level of attention. For instance, a client who experiences fear (compass: element 6), may spend a lot of time trying to control and reduce the fear. He/she is constantly monitoring and trying to control his/her inner experiences. In other words, undue attention is focused on the compass, and “safety” and “control” become the main direction of his/her boat. Paradoxically, sailing in this direction may cause fear to increase. The values “safety” and “control” thus affect his/her well-being in a negative way. Another client may focus too much on the values of other people (other boats: element 8). This focus may be the result of a need for approval: a value that is currently guiding his/her behavior, but which does not contribute to his/her well-being in a positive way.   3.       Destination Just like a boat can sail to certain destinations, people can reach goals. While a value is a general direction of the boat, a goal is a specific and concrete destination of the boat. Goal setting and achievement are important processes that can help to concretize values. Goals can help to enhance focus, energize, and translate abstract values like “creativity” into practice. Achieving personally meaningful goals can help to build confidence. Or in terms of the boat metaphor, the sails of the boat (element 5) are becoming stronger.   4.       Leak  A leak in the boat represents weaknesses: factors that hinder valued living and goal achievement. They reduce personal well-being. In a clinical context, these factors often consist of patterns of behaving and thinking that negatively affect well-being, producing emotions like fear, anxiety, and stress. Examples include negative thinking about the past, suppressing difficult emotions, and acting impulsively. Relating to performance, these are the factors that can de-energize you, resulting in poorer outcomes in task performance. When these weaknesses are used, they lead to feelings of negativity, disengagement, and lack of motivation.” (p.68 Linley, Willars, BiswasDiener, 2010). In either context, the weaknesses get in the way of flourishing. When we adopt a weakness focus, we focus solely on the leak. Although the leak is not the only defining characteristic of the boat (e.g., the boat has sails, a steering wheel, etc.) we focus our attention only on this specific aspect of the boat. In other words, we focus on what is wrong with an individual or ourselves. We direct attention on negative aspects of the individual. In the context of work and performance, a weakness focus means that we are primarily concerned with behavior that is causing suboptimal or low performance. For instance, during work evaluation, the employer is only focused on why an employee is not reaching his/her sales targets, or why he/she is not able to communicate well with customers. In a clinical context, this means that the focus is on behavioral or cognitive patterns that cause suffering and reduce well-being. For example, a psychologist is only focusing on the problems that the client experiences. Using this perspective, he/she may discover that the client thinks negatively about the past and has trouble dealing with these thoughts. The idea behind the weakness focus is clear and well-meaning: by fixing the weakness, we aim to increase well-being. In the terms of the boat metaphor: by fixing the leak, we expect the boat to be able to sail again. Indeed, if we do not fix the leak, then the boat will sink, and the client will not be able to sail anywhere. However, aiming to increase well-being by only focusing on repairing the leak of the boat is unlikely to result in success. This approach ignores the fact that the absence of problems or illness does not automatically imply well-being (see for instance Keyes, 2005). In terms of the metaphor, even if you would be able to repair the leak, your client may still not be able to get anywhere. It is his/her sails—the next component of the metaphor—that give your client’s boat forward momentum. In sum, it is important to address weaknesses (to prevent the boat from sinking), but one must also hoist the sails to catch a favorable wind (opportunity) and move forward.   5.       Sails The sails of the boat represent personal strengths: factors that facilitate valued living and goal achievement: they increase personal well-being. These factors are positive traits reflected in thoughts, feelings, and behaviors (Park, Peterson, & Seligman, 2004). The sails include ways of behaving, thinking, or feeling that are authentic and energizing to the user. They enable optimal functioning, development, and performance (Linley, 2008). Examples of strengths are effective coping styles, like optimism or acceptance, but also activities that provide energy and enthusiasm, like writing or painting.   6.       Compass  A compass is an instrument used for navigation and orientation that shows direction relative to the environment. It provides feedback on the current direction in which we are heading. In a similar vein, inner experiences like feelings, emotions, and intuition serve as a tool for navigation and orientation. Both positive and negative emotions/feelings are signals that provide feedback on the route we are taking in life. They can serve as a valuable guide on our journey. For this reason, it is important to pay attention to them and allow them to be present. Positive feelings like joy, energy, and gratitude signal personal well-being and inform us that we are on the right track. They can serve as a direct reinforcer and over time, build long-lasting resources (sails: element 5). Negative emotions like fear and anxiety inform us that attention is required. Rather than suppressing these negative feelings, allowing them to be present without acting upon them can reveal valuable information that may assist us on our route. Fear, for instance, may signal that we are approaching the edge of our comfort zone. Since we are uncertain about what the other side of the ocean looks like, we experience fear. Fear may indicate that we have a chance to broaden our horizons and expand our comfort zone. Possibly, we may also conclude that the thing causing us to fear seems important to us (why would we experience fear if we did not care about it?) and may give us insight into a personal value. Note that emotion itself is never the problem. In terms of the boat metaphor, the compass is not the problem: it just provides information and feedback. The problem is that clients often use their compass in an ineffective way. The negative emotions that are indicated by the compass cause many clients to attempt to control or avoid them, which paradoxically can lead to increased negative emotions. The inability to use the compass is a common leak (element 4) of the boat.   7.       Weather The weather can be compared to uncontrollable circumstances in life. Just like we cannot control the weather, both positive and negative events will take place that cannot be controlled. Sometimes the wind blows in our sails and we encounter situations that allow us to use our strengths to the maximum. Other times the wind and the rain make it difficult to keep traveling in our preferred direction. Real-life examples include the loss of a beloved one, getting stuck in traffic, winning the lottery, falling in love, etc. Although these circumstances are completely beyond our control, especially in the case of difficult circumstances, they can have a serious impact on our well-being depending on the way we deal with them. The ability to deal with these circumstances in an effective way can build resilience and help us to stay on track, despite any challenges that accompanied the circumstances. In concrete terms, this means that we fully utilize our strengths and become aware of what we can or cannot control.   8.       Other Boats The other boats in the sea represent the people that surround us. These boats can be compared to our social network. Others can influence us in many ways, both positively and negatively. For instance, when we decide to turn the steering wheel and take a different course, we may experience support by peers who motivate us to pursue our new direction. At the same time, there may be others who disapprove of the new direction and provoke feelings of self-doubt and fear within us (compass: element 6). In the latter case, it is important to stay true to one’s own values and direction, rather than letting others determine the course of the boat. Our social network may also offer support in difficult times. In times of stormy weather, other boats can help us stay on our course and remind us of what is enormously important on our journey (our core values).     Interaction between elements    The different components of the boat metaphor do not exist in isolation but are interacting with each other continuously. Some examples of how the elements of the boat work together synergistically are described below.  ■ Ignoring weaknesses (leak: element 4) while boosting use of strengths (sails: element 5) will give the boat momentum but will gradually cause the boat to sink. In other words, it is important to address both weakness and strengths. ■ A boat that sails in a personally valuable direction (steering wheel: element 2) will be more likely to stay on track during stormy weather (element 7) compared to a boat that is sailing in a direction that is not perceived as personally meaningful. Stated differently, valued living can enhance resilience. ■ A boat that is not willing to choose a different direction (element 2) because of fear (compass: element 6) of leaving the “comfort zone” will be unlikely to sail in new waters (element 1). Using more psychological terms, this means that structural changes of the client’s environment are unlikely to emerge when avoidance-based coping is used to deal with negative emotions.  ■ The nature of the water (quiet, turbulent, etc.) is not only influenced by uncontrollable circumstances, like the weather (element 7), but also by the deliberate choice of the boat sailing in another direction (steering wheel: element 2). This new direction might cause the boat to enter a new zone that is characterized by (temporary) turbulent or quiet waters, rocky or dangerous areas, etc. Likewise, other boats (element 8) can block the sail route, making it difficult to sail in a certain direction. These examples illustrate that the daily reality a person is facing is influenced by many factors, internal and external, all varying in the degree of controllability. Not only uncontrollable events like the loss of a friend or the negative influence of other people influence daily reality, but also the deliberate choices we make in life. By making the deliberate choice to live by the influence of your personal values, the changes we typically experience (both behavioral and circumstantial) will tend to align with those values. In terms of the boat metaphor, this means that we deliberately choose a different route and will encounter different waters. This new route will be characterized by easy and difficult parts.   For clients, it is often helpful to consider the parts of the new route that will be potentially challenging and evaluate the degree of controllability. By doing so, a client can prevent him/herself from trying to influence uncontrollable events. For instance, a client who decides to quit drinking may anticipate ex-fellow drinkers (other boats: element 8) to be unsupportive of the new direction. Rather than attempting to gain control by trying to convince these people to choose the same direction, the client may wisely decide to focus on controllable elements of the boat, like the direction of the boat or the sails. The client may decide to steer the boat in a direction that allows more frequent encounters with supportive boats or may decide to deliberately use his/her personal strengths to deal with the challenges.   Key ingredients for well-being   Taking all the different elements of the boat into consideration can help to understand what contributes to personal well-being. Some considerations are listed below:   Action:  For well-being to increase, awareness of the different elements of the boat metaphor is not sufficient. A person who becomes aware of the fact that his/her boat is sailing in a direction that does not promote personal well-being, must act, and turn the wheel in a valuable and adaptive direction to increase well-being. In other words, in addition to becoming aware of one’s values, one must take specific behavioral steps to benefit from this awareness. Likewise, it is not enough to hoist the sails of the boat (element 5). One must also steer the boat in a direction (element 2) or turn the sails in a position that allows them to catch the wind. So, to increase well-being, merely becoming aware of one’s own strengths is not sufficient. In addition to (increased) awareness, behavioral and circumstantial changes that allow strengths to be used are required.     The balance between elements:  A balanced amount of attention to the different elements can be considered a baseline condition for well-being. Too much focus on any component is unlikely to result in well-being. For instance, a client may focus too much on the destination of the boat (goals: element 3) and consequently fails to enjoy the view during his/her journey (positive emotions: element 6). Another client may focus too much on the uncontrollability of the weather (uncontrollable events: element 7) and experience learned helplessness (leak: element 4).   Taking all elements into consideration:  Ignoring elements is likely to result in low levels of well-being. For instance, the destination of a boat (element 3) that is too strongly determined by the destination of the other boats (element 8) may ignore its compass (element 6). Consequently, the boat is lacking a sense of autonomy (steering wheel: element 2) and feels like it is being controlled from outside elements. A boat that ignores its sails (strengths: element 5) will have a hard time going through stormy weather (element 7) and may lack a sense of energy and enthusiasm (compass: element 6).   Continuous involvement:  All the elements of the boat metaphor require continuous attention. For example, even if a client manages to repair a leak and focus on strengths, the water will still create strong pressure on that leak: clients will repeatedly be tested in their weaknesses. Therefore, it is not sufficient to temporarily repair or patch the leak. The client needs to consistently check the leak (reflect) and strengthen the repair (consciously work on weaknesses). Weaknesses do not simply vanish in a day and typically require continuous attention. The same holds for the steering wheel of the boat. As stated before, values are chosen actions, that can never be obtained like an object, but can only be concretized from moment to moment. This means that valued living is an ongoing process that requires continuous attention. Moreover, continuous involvement is also the key to strength development. Through effort, challenging oneself, learning how to deal with failure, and taking risks, the client can increase his/her sails. By increasing the size of his/ her sails and learning how to effectively use the sails, the client forces more wind to hit the sails. Consequently, the boat will become faster and stronger. In other words, continuously working on strengths will also increase their beneficial effects.   Flexibility:  Rather than perceiving the elements of the boat as static and attempting to maintain their current state, they should be considered highly dynamic. One is always allowed to change direction (values: element 2) and destinations (goals: element 3) at any given moment. Likewise, the compass, the weather, and the social environment are constantly changing. The importance of flexibility is perhaps most clearly illustrated by the sails (strengths: element 5) of the boat. The sails are dependent on external factors like the weather (element 7). The wind may not blow in a direction for the sails to catch it. In this case, the sailor must be flexible enough to change the direction of the boat, adjust the sails to catch the wind, or wait until the wind turns in a favorable direction again. In other words, optimal strength use requires careful consideration of the situation and context one is facing. Rather than just blindly using strength to its fullest degree, one must be able to flexibly interact with the environment.  
(MA, LPC)
Answered on 10/27/2021

How can I understand what I want?

First off...thank you for reaching out for answers. Finding motivation and purpose can be difficult, especially if finances and relationships are unsatisfactory. When you consider Maslow's Hierarchy of needs, you can visibly see that if your fundamental needs are met, but not satisfactory, successfully connecting with others, feeling you 'belong,' or working on areas of esteem and self-actualization are feasible, but will also be impacted by your dissatisfaction of basic needs (physiological and safety). The best way to combat dissatisfaction in these areas is through the researched method of keeping a gratitude journal. According to researchers, there are three ways of experiencing gratitude - it is an emotion, it is a trait, or it is a practice. If we consider the latter, through the use of a daily/weekly gratitude journal, where you would identify three new/different things for which to be grateful that day or in general life, never repeating these three daily gratitudes throughout the year, your brain begins to identify and cherish new and unique things throughout your day/week. This chemical change within your body is shown to boost your overall well-being, increase your ability to deal with stress/trauma, widen your perspective, increase your mood and motivation, and help you connect with other people. (Source: "The Healing Powers of Gratitude" by Carolyn L. Todd, https://www.self.com/story/gratitude-benefits). I wish you the best in your self-exploration. “Positive psychology is focused on cultivating well-being and human flourishing. The Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania describes it as ‘the scientific study of the strengths that enable individuals and communities to thrive.’ The American Psychological Association (APA) defines it as the study of the emotional states, individual traits, and social supports that ‘enhance people’s subjective well-being and make life most worth living.’” Additionally, Judy Moskowitz, Ph.D., M.P.H., professor of medical social sciences at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, director of the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Northwestern, and president of the International Positive Psychology Association, explains, “Positive emotions aren’t just the inverse of negative emotions, they actually have unique functions…and can actually help us build our resilience and help us cope.”
(MA, MBA, LPC)
Answered on 10/27/2021

what are some practical things I can start to do when I feel stuck and unmotivated to do anything?

Hi Zo. I would start with gratitude---not the regular normal gratitude we all experience but gratitude on a smaller level such as being appreciative of a good parking spot or a green light. Purposely feeling joy for little things the same way you would if you won the lottery or achieved your great dream. You can practice gratitude for the past, present or future. You practice future gratitude for goals you want to achieve including how you want to feel as if it you've already accomplished it such "I am so happy and gratitude now that I've bought my dream home."  (Check out the Greatest Tool of Transformation  on dailymotion.com) Also check out the 21-day mental diet by Brian Tracy  and The Grateful Project by Hailey Barthelomew on YouTube and Google 7 Scientifically Proven Benefits of Gratitude. Another useful practice is meditating. You can start with a short 3-minute meditation but be consistent in doing it daily. You can find 3-minute breathing exercises on YouTube or try an app like Headspace, Calm, or Insight Timer. It's normal to have a lot of thoughts when you first begin to meditate but as you continue you will go from maybe 100 thoughts in a minute to 75 to only 30 thoughts, for example. Meditation means to focus on purpose without judgment. If you have trouble with formal meditation check out Mel Robbin's Can't Meditate? 3 Meditation Hacks on YouTube. Also, feeding your mind daily with inspirational, motivational or educational material daily will expand and rewire your mind. Educational material would include books or videos on finances, success principles, health, wealth, relationships, goal-setting, etc. Subjects that you can apply to your life for a more quality life. One book to check out that is fairly short is As A Man Thinketh by James Allen. The audiobook is also available on YouTube. Feeding your mind can also including listening to interviews of people overcoming or on topics such as health and wealth. Tom Bilyeu and Lewis Howes have a good interview on various topics. They have podcasts as well as YouTube channels. Marisa Peer has very good information on goal-setting, reprogramming your mind and collaborating with your mind on YouTube. Her TEDx talk is called Collaborate with your mind. Finally, addressing unresolved trauma may be helpful as well has going for long walks and focusing on things that are far away. 
Answered on 10/27/2021

How do I commit to something long term consistently?

First, to be consistent, select a goal that you realistically want to do and then do it in a way that works for you. Many people set goals that are unrealistic. For instance, I want to lose 12 pounds in the next two weeks. While that might work in the short run, developing a consistent routine takes more time and less pressure to succeed quickly. Secondly, make sure that you are reasonable in what consistent means for you. For instance, I know I need to exercise more just because it is good for me mentally and physically. I have to ask myself how often, what kind of exercise, and where can I fit it in during my day. Far too often, clients set unrealistic and unreasonable goals for their life, and they want it to happen quickly. So, instead of saying I am going to go to the gym every day and work out for one hour. I might say, I can fit in a walk during this time and then go to the gym two times a week. Consistency becomes harder when we set the bar too high. Start off in ways that will give you a sense of accomplishment, and that tends to motivate you to add more on later or continue on with your current goal. If you can, make it as enjoyable and as fun as you possibly can for the goal. Thirdly, accept that you will have set backs and moments where your goal for the day does not happen. When things get in the way, and you lapse accept that it is a lapse and tomorrow is a new day. Beating up on ourselves does not encourage consistency, but it has the opposite effect. Finally, find ways to reward yourself when you maintain some degree of consistency. For instance, if I eat better this week, then I will allow myself that ice cream at the end of the week. Once you maintain a fairly reasonable, realistic, and consistent pattern over time, then it becomes less of a "chore," and more a part of your daily routine.
(LCMHC, LPC, NCC)
Answered on 10/27/2021

How Can I Find Meaning In My Life?

Unfortunately, your questions is one that has no simple answers.  Philosophers, Scholars and Religions have attempted to answer this question through the ages.  Meaning in life is a struggle that can vary in intensity depending our circumstances, environment, and history.  To your point, you seem to be making a lot of negative comparisons to people around you.  Although you may not realize that you are doing it, you are expressing that your life just isn't measuring up.   To be honest, there are plenty of people in much worse circumstances in life that would likely feel more comfortable walking in your shoes.  I'm sure that doesn't provide you with much comfort, but it might if you take a minute to think about it or act on it.  As cliched as it sounds, meaning in life is often directly linked to the people that share our lives.  Happiness is not often found by acquiring possessions, completing some career goal, or achieving some milestone.  True happiness is finding a way to feel comfortable in your own skin, helping and loving others, and being content with the things you have...not the things you want.   You mentioned in your post that you are not sure who you really are, so I think you might start there and explore that question more fully.  Was there a time in your life that you could answer this question easily?  If so, why?  If not, why not?  Self-awareness is one of the greatest feelings a person can achieve.  Sometimes it happens all on its own, but sometimes we need a little help to get there.   Helping others also provides a lot of people with a feeling of happiness, so maybe that might do the trick.  Often this works because it allows you to experience the joy of helping someone that is experiencing difficulty and make a difference in their lives.  Volunteer, be a mentor to a child in need, call an old friend and reconnect, or find something that makes you feel valued by another person. I hope that this reply can provide you with some thoughts to ponder, but mostly, I hope that you might feel better about all that you have done....not what you haven't done.  I wish you well.  
(LCSW)
Answered on 10/27/2021

How do I get over the overwhelming feelings of inadequacy and failure?

Hello and thanks for reaching out to Betterhelp for support. Based on what you have shared, it seems like growing up did not offer the validation and support you would have hoped for to recognize your worth and value in life. You grew up as the oldest child feeling like nothing you did was enough or acknowledged which makes it harder to be that person who has to provide validation for yourself as an adult. It sounds like even though your dad has not offered the verbal acknowledgment that you are on the right track, you are doing well for yourself! Finishing up your university studies in the next year or so, starting your own business, working on your mental health, etc. We are all responsible as adults for being our own internal cheerleaders and working to shift our internal dialogue from judgemental and critical to supportive and encouraging.    Think about the way that you communicate with yourself internally. Are you just as critical as you perceived your father to be? If so, challenge yourself from today forth to catch these unhelpful thoughts as they present and then visualize a Stop sign to remind yourself to pause on them. Then challenge yourself to identify a more appropriate/ productive replacement thought for what you are thinking about. By trying to make a cognitive shift, you are focusing on taking your power back and being the positive voice of reason to encourage motivation. Sometimes we take negativity to heart and have to be mindful and intentional with adding productivity. Just because you did not grow up speaking kind to yourself or hearing those encouraging words does not mean you can't create it for adulthood. If you choose to have a partner and family of your own, then you can possibly receive positive feedback from them as well. It all starts within you though because your relationship with yourself will always be the most valued one in your life. You are the only one who goes to sleep in your mind each night and you want to feel confident in your resilience as a person. You got this and you are worth it! 
(LMHC, CRC)
Answered on 10/27/2021

How do I enjoy life right now and get motivated to participate in the development of my life?

Hello-   I'm so glad that you decided to reach out for support. Honestly that is half the battle and you should commend yourself for that victory no matter how small. First I would like to start off by saying this year has been difficult for so many of us and has a community as a whole. With that being said, it's not uncommon given the circumstances and you are most definitely not alone in the situation you are going through.  From what you are saying, I do believe you are suffering from symptoms of anxiety and depression: the uselessness, being bored and overwhelmed. Ask yourself has this ever been a problem for me before or is this just in response to something? Either way I would encourage you to make sure that after you read this answer you seek to find support with a one on on therapist.   It most definitely be difficult when we see other people's excelling at what they set out to do- but with that being said, when possible is, allow that to be a part of the passion that drives you! Start small and map out or write down the things you believe you want to accomplish until the end of the year. If you are comfortable, I would recommend that you reach out to one of your friends who you know will keep you accountable and cheer you on in order to reach your goals and get out of this funk. Think about what are the things that makes you feel of use.  Before you set out to do anything, make sure you know exactly what you are working towards. I like to share SMART goals with my clients in order to help them make sure the things they are working on are clear and attainable.  Also if these symptoms are ones that have presented itself post COVID it may be important to go and chat with someone in order to debrief and chat about how not only the pandemic affected you but how much it has also impacted your motivation.  I would encourage you that even when you don't feel like it, go and take a walk in order to get some fresh air but also challenge yourself to being consistent on a daily basis. I would also love for you to think through the following: if I could wake up tomorrow and everything I was experiencing was fixed, what would those things be? How would my situation shift? This things may help you to put into perspective the way you would want to live; start there.   Untimely it does sound like you would benefit from the support of a licensed professional to maintain your consistency, motivation, and dedication.  I truly hope some of this was helpful.  All the best. Shaquala
Answered on 10/27/2021

I feel upset about life and I don’t know why

Hey Rey, thanks for sharing your truth and asking your question.  It's important to be mindful of what you can control vs what is outside of your control.  It seems that you are placing a lot of attention and energy on aspects of your life that is outside of your control (ex: no money, no motivation, living with your mom).  This is where you are currently, but not where you will always be.  I admire your ability to see how toxic things are around you and your desire to remove yourself from that situation.  You have everything you need to get what you want, it just won't happen will you want it to which is causing you more stress and anger.  Trying to control what's outside of your control.  My challenge to you is to start small by deciding to place more focus, energy and attention on what you can control instead of losing your cool over so many aspects in your life currently that are completely outside of your control.     What that looks like is taking advantage of the opportunities around you such as spending more time away from home, creating a new network of friends and supportive people that you can lean on.  Searching for a job or creating an exit strategy of how to escape living with mom and creating your own space that’s healthy and supportive.  The options and opportunities are endless you just have to be willing to step outside of your comfort zone.  In order to grow and change you have to be willing to be comfortable being uncomfortable and that’s when change will occur.  So in regards of your situation what are some uncomfortable things you’ve done or willing to do to find more balance and peace in your life? What can you begin to do differently to take care of you? How can you begin the process of investing in yourself and what you can control instead of investing in external things that are outside of your control?    Also consider how often you place your attention on “what if” scenarios instead of “what is” scenarios. Often times we develop the paralysis of analysis where we create so many stories and assumptions in our minds that may not be true but we make it true to us.  The what if is everything bad that can happen from making a decision.  If I think the outcome is bad then I will choose to do nothing, besides complain of course.  On the other end to focus on what if is to actually take risks and do things you’ve never done in order to get things you’ve never had.  Either way you get to choose! My challenge to you is from today moving forward choose yourself and choose wisely. 
(PhD, LPC, NCC)
Answered on 10/27/2021

What do you when there is no motivation to do anything?

Hello,   Everyone struggles with motivation issues sometime or another. The way you respond to this is what matters!  Be kind to yourself, experiment with strategies that increase your motivation, and ask for help if you need it.   You mention you struggle with letting go of past issues and being concerned about what people say and do - I can see how this may be impacting your motivation.   Whether you can lack motivation to meet up with friends or you are not feeling motivated to do attend to tasks - this can be a big obstacle in reaching your life goals.  When you lack motivation consider possible reasons why you are struggling. Then, develop a plan to help motivate yourself to tackle this.   Just know not every strategy works for everyone, in every situation.  See which strategy best helps you.   Lack of motivation can be a symptom of a bigger issue.  EG, if you are a perfectionist, your lack of motivation may be fear that you will not complete your task flawlessly.  Until you address this need to be perfect, your motivation is unlikely to increase.      It is important to consider why you might have trouble motivating yourself.   Common reasons for lack of motivation:    1. Avoidance of discomfort. Whether you do not want to feel bored doing the mundane, or you are trying to avoid feeling frustrated by dodging a tough challenge, sometimes a lack of motivation stems from a desire to avoid uncomfortable feeling.  Being let down in the past by friends and not wanting to take that chance again.   2. Self-doubt. When you think you cannot do something or are convinced you cannot tolerate distress you may struggle to get started.    I am curious if you are experiencing self-doubt when you mention not being able to let go of the past?  If so, seeking some professional counseling would be my best recommendation for you (see below).   3. Lack of commitment to a goal. Agreeing to a task because you felt obligated may mean your heart is not in it.  You are unlikely to take action when you are not committed to your goal.   4. Mental Health Issues. Lack of motivation is a common symptom of depression or anxiety.  Consider whether your mental health may be affecting your motivation level to move on from your past let downs.   If you are unable to let go of your past you may be experiencing some depression.  You might find your lack of motivation stems from other issues, like the fear of what people think or because you have been hurt in the past.  So carefully consider any underlying thoughts and feelings that are affecting your drive and if it is too much to manage by yourself - seek help (see below).   5. Act Like You Are Motivated   Try tricking yourself into feeling motivated by changing your behavior. Act as if you feel motivated -  your actions may change your emotions.  Ask yourself, “What would I be doing right now if I felt motivated?”   6. Argue the Opposite   When you are struggling with motivation, you may come up with reasons why you should not take action - EG., “I will get hurt".  This type of thought will keep you stuck.    When you think you may fail, argue all the reasons why you will succeed.  When you think "you cannot get past something" - list all evidence that shows the opposite.  It can remind you that an overly pessimistic outcome is not completely accurate.     7. Practice Self-Compassion   You might think being hard on yourself is the key to getting motivated. But harsh self-criticism does not work.   Self-compassion is much more motivating, especially when struggling with adversity.    Self-compassion may improve mental health - which can increase motivation. So rather than beat yourself up, create a kinder dialogue. Healthy self-compassion balances self-acceptance with self-improvement. Acknowledge your flaws, mistakes, and failures with honesty. But do not indulge in a pity party.  Ask yourself, “What would I say to a friend who had this issue?” You are more likely to be kind to someone else than yourself - treat yourself like a good friend.   Coach yourself in a helpful manner. Practice self-talk that encourages recovery from setbacks, the past.   8. Exercise  Exercise does wonders for motivation.  Walking is known to have a calming effect on the brain - which helps motivate through tough times.   9. Pair a Dreaded Task With Something You Enjoy   Emotions play a huge part in motivation levels. If you are sad, stuck in the past, bored, lonely or anxious, your drive to tackle your challenge to let go will suffer.    Boost mood by adding fun to something you are not motivated to do. You may feel happier and you might even look forward to your challenge.    10. Manage Your To-Do List   Being over-extended. When you have a lot going on in life, you may feel overwhelmed - this feeling can zap motivation. It is tough to feel motivated when your to-do list is overwhelming. If you feel like there is no hope in ever getting a task done you might not try to do anything.  Review your list - determine if it is too ambitious. If so, shelve unessential tasks. Prioritize important things - move those to the top.  A small change in your list may help you to see tasks as manageable, then, you might feel motivated to get it done.    If your to-do list is related to letting go of your past - break the big issue into smaller, achievable steps.   11. Practice Self-Care   You may struggle with motivation when not caring for yourself. Sleep-deprivation, poor diet, and lack of leisure time are a few things that can make getting through a difficult day.   12. Create a Self-Care Plan: Exercise regularly. Get adequate sleep. Drink water, eat a healthy diet. Make time for leisure and fun. Use healthy coping skills to manage stress. Avoid unhealthy habits, like binge eating, drinking excess alcohol.   13. Rewards for Achieving Create small rewards that you earn for taking a positive step EG. to call a friend. Focusing on the reward may help to motivate you to reach your goal.   Experiment with a few strategies until you discover the best for you.    14. Seek Help   If motivation remains low for more than 2 weeks, or your lack of motivation affects daily functioning consider seeking professional help.  EG,  you are unable to go to work, work performance is suffering, or you are unmotivated to leave the house - these may indicate something more significant is going on.   Consider a mental health professional to determine if your lack of motivation might be related to poor self-worth resulting in depression. If so, treatment may include therapy, medication, or a combination of both.   Consider online counseling options to address any underlying issues and tackle why your struggle to find motivation and why you cannot let go.  I suspect they are closely related.   In Kindness, Gaynor                                                                                                 
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 10/27/2021

What do I do to better my situation

Hi Johnny, I can see from your request for some guidance that you might be feeling in a rut with your life.  I would like to offer you a different perspective to consider today. Life Is An Experiment Look at your entire life as an opportunity to experiment. With each new experience, learn something about yourself. Notice what you are drawn to and what you do not like. With your next experiment, do more of what you are drawn to. There is no such thing as “failure” if you are experimenting. You are always learning.  If you are not sure what to do next, just do something – anything.  Action brings learning and more actions.  It doesn’t matter which direction you choose. Try many things - some may work, some may not. You may learn a lot about yourself in the process. Whatever you choose to do, consider something that feels right for you and pushes you a little out of your comfort zone.  No need to worry about making other people happy. It is your job to live your own life and make yourself happy.  There is no race or finish line.  Experiment to discover your unique gifts and find ways of sharing them with the world. That is your only job. Expectations Are the Root of All Unhappiness - consider dropping any expectations that you may have or that you think others have of you. Unmet expectations create most negative emotions. How would you love to spend your days?  The way the world works these days it maybe possilbe to find a way to make a living in more creative and uniques ways. A Google search may reveal others who are already doing what you dream of.  Reach out and connect with those people.    Being “successful” doesn’t mean having lots of money, a “good job,” a big house and so on.  Those are stories that our culture soemtimes perpetuates yet has often been proven to be false. Success can mean, first and foremost, loving and accepting yourself just as you as right now.  Success means loving what you do and using the gifts that you were born with to help others. Simple Steps to Create Your Own Amazing Life: 1. Help other people If you’re struggling to figure out what to do with the rest of your life, my initial suggestion is to stop focusing on yourself and all that is going wrong or is wrong with you!  Find people who you can help. What are you good at that you take for granted?  What are things that others compliment you on that you think are “no big deal.”  Those are your gifts.  Find ways to share them. 2. Find your happiness My next suggestion would be to find the happiness that is buried inside you. Let it out.  Avoid telling yourself that you cannot be happy until everything falls perfectly into place.  Even if that happened, the happiness would be fleeting. Being happy is a decision.  It does not matter what your situation is.  In every moment, you’re choosing how you feel.  Practice mindfulness by taking a deep breath and noticing how you feel in the moment.  Do you want to feel that way?  If not, make a new choice. 3. Let go of expectations Feeling like you have let others down is a story you tell yourself.  I am guessing that it is probably not working very well for you. How about writing a new story that creates more positive feelings in your life?  If others are telling you that you have let them down, ask yourself if you happily agreed to live up to their expectations.  Trying to live up to others’ expectations is hard to achieve.  It is the sure-fire path to unhappiness. You cannot make other people happy.  Your job is to make you happy and that comes from inside. If you say, “I’ll be happy when….” then you’ll never be happy.  Smile a big smile right now and hold it for at least 30 seconds, even if (especially if) you do not feel like doing it - weird as it seems, it can work wonders.  Do that a few times a day, every day. 4. Express gratitude Find things to be grateful for throughout your day and write them down. Carry a journal or record them in your phone somewhere. Things you can be grateful for now: You have people in your life who love you; You are free to change jobs; You are alive and healthy; You are free to start over and make new choices whenever you want You have eyes with which you can see the sky, clouds and people around you; You have food, clean water and clothes. Whenever you see something beautiful, say “thank you” for the opportunity to experience that little bit of beauty.  If you are grateful for something about another person, let them know.  Do not assume that they already know.  You might make their day. 5. Experiment while you at a job you are not happy with or while you are not working and have plenty of time on your hands, experiment a little every day.  Journal your innermost thoughts.  Ask yourself lots of good questions like - What Should I Do With My Life?  Consider taking classes that interest you, not ones you think will lead to a job. Moving from where you are to a different place in your mindset is unlikely to happen overnight.  It happens when you decide to make changes. Take small steps each day toward how you want your life to be.  Experiment.  Some days will be better than others. Keep taking consistent small steps in a direction you choose and allow your happiness and satisfaction to grow. You might want to explore seeking a counsellor who is experienced with working with life changes and understands where you are coming from.  They are out there and would I feel sure would enjoy working with you as you explore your potential and help you to find something that you consider of value and want get you on the path to experiement with your life. Best of luck, Gaynor
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 10/27/2021