I have found that the most challenging times in my life have taught me the most about who I am, the struggles I deal with and what resonates with me as a person. Stressful times will cause you to adapt to and overcome tough challenges because you have no choice but to do so. When you are on the other side of a seemingly impossible feat, you realize just how much you are truly capable of doing.
Win or Learn
You just failed a test, did not get that job promotion, are going through a break up, or made a really big mistake that you regretted instantly, does that make you any less of a human being than you were? No! Some people dwell on their mistakes or pain because it is a way of punishing yourself for it so that it does not happen again, but the irony of it is how this actually perpetuates this fear and recreates it. By letting go of this fear and forgiving yourself, you actually allow better things to come into your life and in the future. It may sound like the last thing you want to do, but it works wonders. The next time you make a “mistake,” just reflect on what you can learn from this, and write down what was good about it or what you can learn from it. This will help you create a better tomorrow and show you how you can forgive yourself to release the pain that you are self-inflicting.
Reach out for help
I have been completely amazed at how willing people are to help each other, especially here at SCNM. I never used to ask for help, since I always felt like a burden to them, as if I was imposing on someone. The fact of the matter is that opening up to people, being authentic, and saying “I need help” is what has connected me most deeply to the people around me. It feels like people will reject you, condemn you or make you feel wrong for the way you feel (which has always been a fear of mine), but everyone struggles and goes through things. If you keep this in mind, the last thing you thought possible will happen: you will feel closer to them, and they will feel closer to you, resulting in a deeper and richer connection.
I found one of the biggest mistakes I made is comparing myself to other people. There have been times I failed an exam because I let people get in my head about how hard the exam was, or about how there is no way we can learn this information a few days before the exam. Whatever you allow in your head will affect your results. Now, I choose to prioritize self-care, rest, and physical activity, instead of working myself into the ground at every single moment. I also know that I like to be very focused and work really hard, so I’ve learned to break this up with deliberately restorative things. But hey, you might be a person that likes to stay consistent, levelheaded and habitual, which I completely respect. I have found it is helpful to ask other people what they do to make your own ideas, and even if you don’t like what they do, it narrows down what will work for you, because knowing what you don’t want is actually putting you closer to knowing what you do want.
“The Crisis Plan”
Einstein once said, “You cannot solve a problem from the emotional state that created it.” How good have you been at coming up with solutions that ACTUALLY helped the situation (and be honest with yourself) when you were stressed, angry, resentful, exhausted, etc.? Have you ever taken a nap or worked out and you feel completely different? Try anything (literally, anything) different from what you are doing right now that caused the stress. The last thing you want to do is divert your attention from the problem at hand, but that is actually the first thing you should be doing. Thinking in a stressful state will only bring on more stress. For me personally, if I am freaking out, I do not even think about it anymore. I immediately stand up and go do something: usually it's a walk, a workout, going into the sauna or putting on a Tony Robbins video. When you change the way your body feels, it can change how your mind works.
Take a day off
“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.” When you don’t think you have time to rest or take a breather, that's probably when you need it the most. Giving yourself a break and doing something that fills you up and something you will enjoy will actually make you more productive. It helps you to work smarter and not harder. It’s like you’re preparing for a marathon and you go out running a marathon every day to prepare… when you’ve never ran a marathon before. You continue every day despite injuries, unsafe weather conditions or feeling completely exhausted. You continue every day, because you do not want to lose progress and you want to be prepared. Do you see how “over-preparing” and “overtraining” could serve to your detriment? How many people do you know would continue training for a marathon if they started their first day of training with a marathon, when they have barely ran in the past? What if you trained hard on days you felt good, but on other days, you went easier on yourself and used the time to strategically recover so that the next day you could run even faster and longer?
Think about what you do have
The world is much bigger than our day-to-day problems and us, and unfortunately, some people are not as fortunate as we are. There have been days when I am suffering so badly that I pull a 180 on myself and say, “Oh, poor me! I am at the medical school of my dreams, with a healthy body, the ability to workout and pursue what I love.” It is not discounting my struggles at all, but it kind of helps you laugh off being so in your head and realizing how much you can be grateful for. Try it out with yourself!
You can’t pour from an empty cup
“Yeah, yeah, Julia! I’ve heard of this one before, but it doesn’t seem to be either efficient, effective, or realistic”.
When you force things or pour from an empty cup, you are only doing the other person and yourself a disservice. If your heart is not in it and you don’t want to be doing what you’re doing, imagine how that’s going to come out to the person receiving it. People can tell when things are authentic, so it is actually a win win if you take care of yourself and then give from a place where you genuinely want to share because you are overflowing.