The Year End Review Post that Won’t Make You Feel Like Crap about Yourself

Optimism Getting Dressed

2016 will go down in history as one of The Worst. Years. EVER. It’s true. You are not alone. (If you escaped, congratulations. The rest of us cannot relate to you.)

The bizarre thing about 2016 — the facet that has been the hardest for me to resolve — for all that was awful about this year, the few high points were really high. The exceptions were major. The good was some of the best I’ve ever known. I guess it had to be, for balance.

Just so you know, before we go too much further, I am not going to make you read a list of my “accomplishments, milestones, and successes.”

I keep reading these year end review posts, where the author shares all the gleaming, glittery, wonderful things they did — and some part of me commends them, I really do…

But no matter what I’ve accomplished — and I honestly have done tons of shit — there’s something about the whole “Here, sit down, let me get you a cookie and a cup of tea while I talk about myself” … It just bugs me, man.

It brings out this bitter, sarcastic voice within me. It does. I’m admitting it.

So, anyway, one of these wonderful posts — by someone I truly admire, by the way, because I would not have been reading it in the first place — challenged me to actually make a list of what went right this year.

I was busted.

I needed to humble myself and start with some basic gratitude reframing. I did.

And so the part of me that is generally lit up, lit up, and was like:

“Do this.”

I did it.

And I had them — the accomplishments, the milestones, the successes.

They looked different in print. I was impressed, seeing them there like that. How in the hell could I have ever failed to acknowledge this much? How did I forget?

But, as tempted as I am to shove those accomplishments, milestones, and successes in your face and scream “Ta-dah! Look what I did!”

I’m not going to do it.

Because I’m assuming you might find that as annoying as I do.

What I will do is challenge you — encourage you, truly, wholeheartedly, without an ounce of bitter sarcasm — to make that list for yourself.

What went right for you this year?

If nothing went right for you at all, list everything you’re grateful for.

(I know. You’ve heard this a million times. All the unicorn people preach about it. But have you really actually literally sat down and made that list yet? This year? Do it. It works.)

Bonus Exercise:
This ain’t over. We’ve still got three weeks before we bury this year, and there is time to end strong.

Pick one thing — just one — from the list of things you wanted to accomplish this year and never got around to.

Pick the one likely to have the most impact. Do it. Just the one.

You won.

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Image credit “Optimism Getting Dressed” by h.koppdelaney via Creative Commons

Pluck it

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HOW TO FIND YOUR VIBRATION
Find all the Somethings you love, and all the Somebodies, gather them close enough together to embrace all of it as a whole — that is you. Take note of what the whole of you exhales.

Now, call out the two silliest, craziest pieces you got — the two that least go together,
the ones you think don’t fit your picture — and stretch a cord between them. Finer than a hair, thinner than a thought, big enough to be a notion.

Pluck it — that is a note of your song. That is one second of your soundtrack. Strung out and strung together, these are the voices of your chorus. It’s an orchestra you command and compose for.

Your purpose is a vibe; and your vibe is about what you release.

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…excerpted from the post Who You Are Becomes You
Quote suggested by Chris M.

If you discover a Shift Your Spirits quote that resonates with you — especially in an older post — please email it to me.

image credit Petra Gagilas via Creative Commons on Flickr

You’re Doing It Wrong

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It’s hard not to compare yourself to other people and their accomplishments.
We learn from others.
We mirror, we model, we emulate.

We’re told “Find people who are doing what you want to do and mimic them.”

We look to others for inspiration, for reminders of our own potential, for what is possible.

But so often your interior monologue snatches up the vocabulary of envy, guilt, and shame. Insecurity seizes on the measures of another and slings barbs of unnecessary self-judgment and unhealthy self-criticism.

When you run across a difference — a place where you’re tempted to feel you don’t “measure up” — you may have uncovered a distinction.

When think you’re “doing it wrong,” it may be the first sign that your contribution is original.

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image credit h.koppdelaney via Creative Commons on Flickr

Little Secrets about Making Big Changes

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One “big secret” about creating an effective energetic shift in your life is that completion is not required.

The other “big secret” about successful change — maybe instead of a secret, call it an overlooked aspect — is that the requirements are actually small.

Completion naturally occurs after a series of small, similar actions.

As you power your initial commitment, keep in mind that:

  • Just starting the path is being on the path.
  • Just taking the first action creates the energy that propels all the other “steps”

Small, sustainable, serial actions
Almost all long-term goals and intentional changes can be broken down into a series of smaller, repetitive actions.

  • small choices in thought and behavior
  • simple behaviors, repeated concurrently
  • a bread-crumb trail of multiple smaller milestones

A lot of smaller successes reinforces self-esteem, which energizes all positive changes and life-style choices.

The momentum of that Big Beginning levels off quickly onto a plateau of daily practice.

Let’s say you want to lose thirty pounds — you shift into the energetic frequency of that long-term success the very first time you take actions on your new intention.

If you’ve determined the required repetitive action is something like exercising thirty minutes a day — the vibration you need to tune into is reached the first day you show up for that exercise.

You experience the same energy losing thirty pounds as you do when you lose one pound.

Let’s say you want to write a 250 page book — you accumulate those pages by showing up and filling them one at a time. You also begin collecting and using your power from the very first paragraph you put into form.

If you’ve determined the required repetitive action is writing a page a day — you know what it feels like to write pages from the first day to the last.

It’s the same tool — you just apply it X-number of times.

Completion is not required to shift the vibration — a single, willful, intentional act will invoke the necessary mindset.

One small success in a day carries the same energy as thirty in a month, or three hundred sixty-five in a year.

Why wait until you’re “perfect” and “totally done” before you acknowledge your power and the energy you’ve shifted?

You called it in — it’s as here — as in effect — as it will ever be.

Use that initial achievement to propel you forward.

You do it once?

You’ve done it.

Do it again.

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Image credit Cory Howell via Creative Commons on Flickr

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15 Ways to Stop Feeling Like a Failure

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  1. Stop focusing on what you can acquire — consider what you can contribute.
  2. Stop time-traveling. Depression comes from living in the past; anxiety comes from trying to live in the future. Joy only happens in the present.
  3. Stop worrying. “Worrying is like paying a debt you don’t owe.” — Mark Twain
  4. Stop judging yourself. You’re the one doing it the most.
  5. Stop choosing to believe in somebody else’s perception of who you are and what you should become.
  6. Stop waiting for an even better idea to come along — start with the one you’ve already been given.
  7. Stop preparing to make a big move later — take a small step now.
  8. Stop watching for a sign and make a path. That sign may appear to confirm the very actions you’ve just taken.
  9. Stop trying to “make sure” before you proceed. It is feedback from the universe and from those around you that will provide the affirmation for your efforts.
  10. Stop comparing yourself to others.
  11. Stop trying to be perfect.
  12. Stop. Just stop. If something isn’t working, leave it for now, and come back when you feel rested.
  13. Stop inverse-manifesting. Instead of trying to avoid what you do not want, focus on what you do.
  14. Stop abstaining so much. Dieting, denying, repressing, suppressing. If you’re trying to improve your life by only removing things you believe to be bad, it’s a misguided step in the right direction. If you just stop doing something, you create a vacuum. Replace an old behavior with a new, more desirable one.
  15. Stop complaining. Pessimism is a bad habit. Retrain your conscious mind to process challenges within a new context. Complaining can destroy your life.

Whether you realize it at this moment or not — you are already everything you’ve ever wanted to become. You fulfill your life purpose with every breath you take. You’re not missing anything.

You have everything you require in this moment to proceed to the all-important next step.

You are eminently worthy; all things pass.

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Image credit Simon Pais-Thomas via Creative Commons on Flickr

The True North of Doing You

So, you wanna hear about a negative message that used to rattle around in my head, making me feel anxious and unsuccessful?

“Toni Morrison published The Bluest Eye when she was thirty-nine.”

I know, right? What could possibly be “negative” about that fact and why would I take it personally?

For me, Morrison’s The Bluest Eye is a masterpiece of modern literary fiction. The fact that her career as a published novelist began “relatively later in life” was a huge comfort to me throughout my twenties and thirties.

In the late 1980’s/ early 90’s, when I was an undergrad studying Creative Writing and dreaming of my future career as a writer, novelists like Bret Easton Ellis and Donna Tartt were making huge names for themselves in their early twenties.

I compared my goals to their achievements and felt like I was…behind. My life wasn’t happening fast enough somehow. The milestones were still off in the distance — a blur to those riding the high speed rail, while I trudged along on foot like some sad little hobo.

“Toni Morrison published The Bluest Eye when she was thirty-nine” evolved into a kind of mantra for me because of its subtext — that an amazing writer with a brilliant career (the greatest living novelist working in the English language, in my opinion) — did not begin to publish until she was almost forty years old.

I held onto that as a template for my own aspirations. Until thirty-nine came and went a few years ago. And by the time I really stopped to take notice, I realized that I had already begun the writing for which I am publicly known. What do you know? My writing career didn’t look a damned thing like the work of these other people.

…I launched Shift Your Spirits when I was thirty-seven.

My writing and publishing career didn’t resemble anything that any of us could have imagined until relatively recently, around the time that professional bloggers emerged. All those decades I kept such elaborate diaries, I identified quite a bit with Virginia Woolf, but thought “who makes a living off their personal journals while still alive?”

My compass of comparison was so off, it’s absolutely amusing…

What’s the point?
It all turned out to be a comparison of apples and oranges. I had taken my heroes and my sources of inspiration and turned them into a scourge. The advice you hear to find others who are doing what you want to do and model yourself after them had somehow become distorted into a means of self-flagellation.

The template became a basis for cruel self-judgment.

It’s madness — how was that even “accurate” enough to warrant its powerful impact on my self-esteem?

What is the Thing over which you compare yourself to others?

It could be anything, really. Where and when do you find yourself looking over fences at another person’s remarkably green blades and thinking

  • “I want his job.”
  • “I want a body like hers.”
  • “Why don’t I have someone special in my life like they do?”
  • “Why hasn’t my business taken off like theirs has?”

The things that are well within your reach, the things you know are within your power to affect, are the ones you probably beat yourself up about the most. It’s one thing to have a fleeting moment of pure fantasy, a sigh over something obviously beyond the possible, like the roulette of genetics….

It’s when you recognize your aspirations that you are reminded of just how close you are….

Is comparing yourself to other people just smothering the creative life force right out of you?

As if it’s not bad enough that you Should all over yourself and listen to the Constant Nag Channel where all sentences start with variations on

“You need to….”

You’ve got a constant comparison program running, like a bad software virus — a malware that undermines self-esteem — you’re searching and filtering what you need to be doing and what you should be doing based on the accomplishments and experiences of other people.

This is crippling self-abuse.

It’s not accurate. It doesn’t honor your individuality.

It’s also ignorant of the hardships suffered by others; what they may have overcome in order to get where they are is often entirely invisible. It assumes that others “had it easy,” that they’re “lucky,” that they haven’t worked — it’s an insult to their journey.

It’s also naive to want to trade places with anyone.

That which is intended for you will come to you; that which belongs to another will similarly find its home. I don’t believe you’ll miss what the Universe has planned for you. You can certainly fail to give form to that inspiration when it gets delivered. You can fail to act, as you know you must.

But it’s really Your Work and no one else’s, isn’t it?

The world doesn’t need a half-ass Oprah clone — Oprah’s got it covered.

No one in the entire Universe has the potential to pull off Doing You quite like the original.

Once you know what your own success looks and feels like, it becomes much easier to reset the metric you operate by. Your own most recent accomplishment becomes the template by which you crank out another, and another….

Who knows, maybe you’re reading this right now and comparing your own goals to my humble accomplishments. (Stay tuned, by the way, I’m not even close to done trying to impress either one of us.)

I promise you, a couple of things I absolutely know to be true — if I can do Me, you can certainly do You.

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