Switchbacks: Three questions that will help you “Shake It Off”

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By Ryan
Wyo4News feature writer

We all have setbacks in life. We are often misunderstood, insulted, used, betrayed, and even psychologically or physically abused. You can’t stop it. Sure we try to stop it. We cut people off and withdraw into the safest version of life we can imagine. There we sit, in a toilet paper igloo of our own making, wrapped in a bubble wrap robe we made ourselves. There we sit, trembling within, terrified that someone might hurt our feelings.

But that isn’t living, it isn’t fun, and it is lonely. That is how a “coward dies a thousand deaths.” (William Shakespeare)

So live! Try things, mess up, make mistakes, and fail miserably. 

Yes, people will complain, they will say harsh things, and it will hurt. Please, don’t let fear rob you of an enjoyable life. You are on this earth for a reason. We all need you to shine. Yes, it is risky, but it’s also fun. In my opinion, there needs to be more fun in life. 

So, when the next hurtful thing happens, ask yourself three questions.

What Can I Learn?

There is a terrible belief that is popular today. Many believe they can live their lives without failure or mistakes. It’s not true. The only way to learn is to try, fail, and try again. This is how we grow and how we build our lives. We build our lives FROM our mistakes not in spite of them.

So, this is a powerful question if you open your mind to it.  We do make mistakes and need to make adjustments. We also do things right and people have a negative experience of us.  Everyone has their own inner lens and worldview. What can you do about that? Nothing.

Submitted photo by Ryan

Sometimes you learn to make adjustments. Sometimes you learn to take a stand. And, at other times, you learn that people have their own challenges. 

I had a revelation many years ago. People’s opinion of you isn’t shaped as much by their thoughts about you as by their thoughts about themselves. That idea will set you free.

What Should I Change?

But alas, we must often make adjustments. Even though that is a given, adjustments must be made for the right reasons.  Adjustments made out of fear will drive us away from our purpose. When made out of faith, they bring us closer to it. What do I mean? 

Fear and Faith are very similar in their function. They both believe something about the future. Fear believes the future will be worse, that risk isn’t worth it, and that people won’t like us as we really are. Faith believes in something better. It believes that there are great rewards to our actions and that others will love us if only they knew us.

So, make adjustments founded on faith, not fear. Don’t make changes just to make people like you. Make changes that will bring you closer to your “why” in life. What you change is more important than others liking you. Remember, the most likable version of you is the most honest version of you.

When Will I Stop Rehearsing This?

This is the most important question. It is also the one I struggle with the most. When something negative happens or is said, I tend to rehearse it. I attack it; then, I defend myself. My anxiety levels skyrocket, and I am miserable. I wish I could stop overthinking it, but I can’t. So, when will I stop rehearsing this? Psychology has discovered that the more we think about something, the deeper it goes. If you drive it deep enough, it becomes your identity. You are not the sum of your hurts and mistakes. So the more I rehearse it, defend it, attack it, or process it, the worse it gets. I have to move on.

An initial hurt will send us reeling. We will need to talk to someone. Usually, that is normal. But, if we don’t find a way out, it will ruin our happiness and peace.

The first two questions can help us resolve it. Knowing we have considered the matter and made adjustments should help us. That is how we resolve our inner conflict. Then the point must come that you say, “I am done with this. I have reaped all the benefits, and all that is left is harm. So, I’m letting that go.” 

That reminds me of another popular song, but we have discovered enough for today. So, I will spare you.

To the Best Version of YOU!

Ryan