Committing to change is the gateway to progress.
In my previous post I highlighted the seriousness of what I call the “stress pandemic.” In this post, I outline the first of the nine natural steps that enabled me to master stress and overcome bipolar disorder: Take Charge.
Making a decision to beat stress is the first step toward achieving well-being. It is the decision to take charge of your life and reclaim your power that opens the way to change, and all other progress follows from this point.
This shift in mindset is vital. It involves recognizing, first, that you experience stress and, second, that the cause of this stress is your accumulated habits: the “old you.” Your commitment to implementing change in your life is the gateway to progress and the key to discovering true contentment and joy.
Taking charge entails several fundamental changes in one’s mindset. First, you must realize that a full life, free of harmful stress, is your birthright. Many of us have difficulty loving ourselves, and so we allow ourselves to get dragged into a disharmonious way of life that compromises our physical and mental health. The simple truth is that if we valued our well-being to the degree that it deserves, we would approach our lives very differently. Realize that as a human being you deserve love, and you deserve love from yourself. Valuing your well-being, and living your life free of stress and with contentment, is an act of love; it is what you deserve. Furthermore, know that it is possible; you can achieve this, and you can change your life. There were periods during my experiences with severe depression and bipolar disorder that were unbearably demoralizing and dark, when hope was entirely absent. And yet I have found, and we have all seen at different times, that the potential for change in people’s lives is real. It is possible for every single one of us.
The second shift in our mindset is to accept the need for change. The beginning of change for the better in one’s life arises out of the awareness that something mustchange. It is essential to accept that it is the “old you” that is the cause of stress or illness. Your old way of doing things is the reason that harmful stress or illness exists. Therefore, it is necessary to be proactive about changing your life, allowing yourself to change, and breaking destructive habits. Only you can do this. Right now, at this very moment, take stock of where you are. Consider your mind and body and what they are telling you. Are you sleeping well? Do you spend a lot of time worrying? Do you experience anxiety or suffer from physical tension or illnesses? If you feel stressed, your body is sending you a message that something is out of balance; something needs to change. By heeding this warning, you can change your life for the better.
Having acknowledged the need for change, it becomes your responsibility to take charge of your life and to be proactive in changing your way of life. The habits that brought you to your present situation have evolved over time, and the nine steps I advocate are about creating new patterns to replace old habits. Many people feel stuck at first, but by committing time each day to implementing the nine steps, your life will begin to shift.
One of the first changes to make in your life is that of setting time aside for your own self-care. This is a huge issue and usually the first obstacle to overcome in reclaiming your power. We are often kept to a very tough schedule; it’s easy to be overwhelmed and lose control. I’ve had a great deal of experience with the challenge of making time for balanced living, and in the past I have often fallen victim to my tendency to give more of my time and energy than I could realistically spare, leaving me exhausted and unable to find time for what was most important to me. I have found that it is essential to take control and dedicate a portion of each day to maintaining one’s body and mind. Making changes in your life may call for reprioritizing your routine. You may need to start your days a little earlier, or set aside time at night for the practices that will break habits and strengthen the new you. Your usual schedule may well need to be modified, and some of your existing leisure time may need to be devoted to the positive changes you are making in your life. This can sometimes present difficulties, especially when your new routines affect friends and family members. However, the steps that I suggest also eliminate a lot of time-consuming inefficiency, and in the end this may allow more true, quality time with friends, family, and the activities you enjoy most.
In my next post, I’ll begin discussing some of the specific changes that I recommend following on from this decision to take charge of your life and your stress levels.
Original post: www.psychologytoday.com