I am a thirty-something female who’s life did not go as planned.
There’s nothing revolutionary in that statement. I’m one of many people (male and female) who find themselves in a place where they realize that where they currently are in life is not where they thought/think they would/should be.
Some of these thoughts/expectations come my childhood upbringing. Conversations and teachings that I absorbed (whether real or imagined) from my family, my culture, and my religion. Many others have come from society – friends, school, media, etc. Some are good. Some are bad. Some are real. Some are imagined. Some are exaggerated. And some, I am coming to find, are completely false. Because let’s face it, we live in a world that often teaches us that we are not good enough, smart enough, beautiful enough, or accomplishing enough.
I realize that I spend a lot of time worrying – even obsessing – over these thoughts and expectations. The concern that my life is “not as it should be” pushes me to continuously try to figure out how I can reach these expectations. Love, success, beauty, money, happiness, fulfillment – how can I have the things that I feel ought to be in my life? What can I DO to make them mine? My personality type, and lots of my life experiences, have taught me that if I make a plan and then work hard enough, I can achieve anything. And yet, for many of these unfulfilled expectations, it is simply not true.
This failure leads to more time worrying – or Spinning, as my friends and I call it. Spinning is that time where you sit worrying over things. Often they are things that are actually out of your control (i.e. they depend on someone else completing an action, such as choosing to hire you for a job). Spinning usually consists of you being hard on yourself, re-hashing events from the past, and worrying about the future. More often than not, these thoughts spiral into more negative, destructive thoughts, which end up leaving you sad and depressed. It allows the baggage of the past and the fear of the future to overshadow the present, robbing it of its potential joy.
While I recognize that these unfulfilled expectations, and my Spinning about them, are not helpful, I also recognize that they are real. They are persistent. And they are hard to break free from. I also know that, due to the many conversations that I’ve had with friends and acquaintances in similar situations, that I am not alone.
Just because something is, however, doesn’t mean it should be. As I’ve been thinking about how to tackle this problem in my own life (it seems I can’t get rid of the idea that I can DO something to make things better), I’ve come to realize that the negative, poisonous thoughts and actions that often come with my Spinning – the thoughts that tell me that I am not, based on everyone else’s standards, enough – are given the most power by one particular person. Me. I’ve come to realize that I can choose to continue to give these negative thoughts and actions power – resulting in my continued feeling of unfulfilledness, frustration, and sadness – or I can choose another, more positive, route.
Today I choose the positive.
I’m not naive enough to think that this simple, yet powerful declaration, is going to be a magical cure. That I will suddenly be completely content and fulfilled and never Spin again. But it is, I believe, the first step in the right direction of breaking the negative link.
And so The Positive Project is born. While I may not be able to change everything about my life and my expectations in one day, I can make a least one consciously positive choice every single day. This choice can be big or small. It can be a positive action for my own life or for the lives of others. It can be public or private. The details of the positive choice matter less than the fact that the choice is made. The hope is, that with each consciously positive choice I make, and each subsequent positive moment, I will begin to overcome the negative pressures and voices around me, accept the beauty of my life as it currently is, reach a better understanding of my personal dreams and goals, and bring a positive feeling to the people around me.
Since steps like this always have more power when you make a solid commitment, I wanted to start a site (aka The Positive Project) that will be dedicated to sharing and exploring these choices. Their impact, their consequences, their reasoning. It will include lessons learned, insights gained, and both the ups and downs of this experiment. I also encourage any readers to make a positive choice in your own lives and, if you are so inclined, to share those choices with me and with others by sending them to firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to posting examples of how this idea has influenced and effected others.
Let the positive being.