Mental Health

Mandy Kloppers

How to live your best life

You can have fun. You can be different. When you see a wall of people, whether it’s in a football stadium or any sort of gathering – it’s easy to feel like a number. It’s easy to feel that you can’t make a difference. The truth is you CAN if you think outside the box. There are many ways to live your best life.

 

You’ve got to like yourself first

I know, I know – the old cliche about self-love but it’s true. It’s taken me a very very long time to be sort-of-okay with myself. When you like yourself, you feel less inhibited, you feel free to be vulnerable and human and you connect so much better with similar people around you. Open your heart to being fallible and not feeling good enough. Most people don’t feel good enough, no matter how successful they are. When you don’t feel good enough, you assume you are alone and unfairly compare yourself to others.

The truth is we are all bogged down in this ‘mucky’ life and we are all subject to the same laws of humanity – fear, failure, rejection, heartbreak, disillusionment, feeling like a misfit, inferior among many others. To live your best life, accept that you aren’t that different from anyone else. Focusing on our commonalities is what will bring you closer to others. We all want to belong and to be loved unconditionally.

 

Foster a non-judgemental and open-minded inner world

If you believe that the world is full of mean, nasty people you will create barriers and others won’t be able to connect with you. Of course, there are mean and nasty people that exist but I would say that generally, most people are kind and will do the best they can to help others. Romantic relationships can be trickier because our emotional investment means that we often protect ourselves. Emotions can be stronger than logic and cause us to act emotionally rather than wisely.

Try to stay in adult mode in relationships rather than acting as a parent or child. Acting in parent-mode comes across as condescending. Acting in child-mode often involves tit-for-tat behaviour. Again this behaviour destroys intimacy. Work on your beliefs and remind yourself that others do the best they can. Some find it hard to regulate their emotions (can be associated with childhood trauma), others may have hidden reasons for their behaviour. It’s not always about you or how loveable you are.

Watch your inner dialogue – foster warm, approachability, empathy and openness. Watch the self-criticism too. It’s so overrated…

 

Be self-compassionate

Give yourself a break. Welcome to the human club. We all mess up and when you admit to it, others can relate to you. When you act perfect (#perfect life #perfectpartner Ugghhh  etc) you alienate others. When you like yourself, you will have no qualms with self-deprecation because you accept yourself warts and all. Self-confidence isn’t feeling better than others, it’s about liking yourself enough that you don’t feel the need to compare yourself.

Self-compassion means you accept that you are flawed like everyone on this planet. It’s okay. It’s healthy.

Guilt is a wasted emotion – learn from it and move on.

 

Clarify priorities and goals

I am always amazed at how so many people don’t stop to re-assess and take stock of their lives. They plod along being led by others and what they feel they should be doing. Take “should” out of your vocabulary and replace it with “could”. Really – you have more choices in life than you think you do. There is probably a lot going on in your life that you could reject if you took the time to think about the stuff you put up with that you’d rather not.

A sense of purpose gives you motivation and helps you feel your life has meaning. It could be something as small as slowing down to take life in and be more present. Or it might be that you want to study a new course or end your relationship. Think about what’s important to you and what you are sacrificing. What do you need to live your best life?

Do you have to change who you fundamentally are to keep your partner happy? Are you stuck in a job that gives you no sense of accomplishment? Problem-solve, problem-solve, problem-solve. Write down all possible solutions, google more, take time to do research…make changes instead of just worrying.

 

Never let fear limit you

What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail? Think about it. What stops you from going after what you want? What would be so bad about trying and failing? Surely that’s worse than never trying? If you want to live your best life, accept fear as a part of life and see failure as your guide, not a sign of your worth. we all have an inner bully telling us we can’t do things, that we shouldn’t even try and we can give up before we have even started.

You have one shot at this life so see every year as an opportunity for adventure. Do you want to be on your deathbed telling yourself you tried life, you made the most of it or will you be left wondering what might have been? Don’t take life too seriously. See life as a series of experiments..what would happen if I did this or tried that? Be open to trying new things – it helps your brain be stronger. The more you open yourself up to life, the more your confidence will grow. This is based on science.

 

Being a counsellor exposes you to the misery of the world. Sadly everyone has problems and the truth is, no one escapes some of the misery. I have to take time away to recalibrate, find my inspiration again and re-emerge stronger and wiser. Be kind, be tolerant and above all, remember that we are all fighting personal battles, no matter how we present ourselves on the outside.

To live your best life, understand this common experience, it makes us vulnerable but it also makes us strong.

Mandy X

 

Photo by Omar Lopez on Unsplash