After some recent soul searching, goal setting and planning for the future I began to notice that after the initial motivation it gave me I began to feel irritated and angry with myself. I’d made some huge changes, created new habits and transformed things in my life for the better.
But I couldn’t help but start thinking about how I used to behave and why I hadn’t made these changes before, what I would be doing now If I had, and how I was frustrated with my current position. I began to struggle to focus at work and was angry with myself.
I couldn’t understand these angry feelings as I had expected I would become happy when I was on the path to reaching my goals and changing my behaviour. This confusion and puzzlement made my negative feelings worse. I just didn’t make sense to myself.
When you make big changes or you realise that you’re not where you want to be, then it’s natural to feel irritated with yourself.
I knew that it was pointless beating myself up about it, so I set upon working through all my feelings and getting to the bottom of them.
I wrote down how I was feeling. Angry, irritated and frustrated.
I then wrote down all of the reasons why. As I started writing, new reasons began to appear in my mind. I wrote them all down. When I was thinking of why I was currently frustrated I knew that some of the reasons were ridiculous and I considered leaving them out. But I had to face up to the fact that even though I knew these thoughts were absurd, they were still affecting me, so I was compelled to write them down.
I numbered the reasons and then made two columns labelled Past and Present. I put the number of each reason in the Past or Present column depending on whether it was something that had already happened or something that was currently happening.
I started with the Past column. I went through each reason on the list and wrote down what I had learned and how I have changed for the better since then. I quickly realised that I had been focusing on the negative view of things and the tough times of the past and that I was paying no attention to what I had achieved or the improvements I had made to myself.
After writing down my thoughts, I added that it was a valuable learning experience and that I forgive myself next to each one. Every time I wrote those words I felt a little bit better about myself. Forgiving yourself is very powerful and not something a lot of people do. Although I have made mistakes and will probably continue to do so, I realised that the only way to move on is to view them as learning experiences because in essence, this is what they are.
Also many of the behaviours I was irritated with myself for doing in the past were behaviours I wanted to do at that particular time for whatever reason. For example, I used to spend all my money and now I want to save it .But I had a huge amount of fun spending that money. I have to focus on the present and be happy and proud with myself that I have changed my behaviour without denigrating and regretting the past.
I then moved on to the present column. For each item I identified why I thought this was affecting me and formulated a plan of how I could improve the situation. I found that I was angry with myself for not having acquired things, or behaving in ways that I only recently decided I wanted! It’s unrealistic to make goals and expect the outcome straight away. I reassured myself that I was on the right path and I created some plans to help get me there.
From feeling agitated, angry and irritated with myself I started to feel happy and proud with where I currently am in my life. I accepted the past and was pleased with all of the positive aspects of my life, and I forgave myself for all the things that I didn’t like. I started to feel excited and hopeful for the future and the feeling of restlessness I had experienced with my current situation was replaced with a feeling of gratitude for where I am.
After I had completed the lists and was examining the remarkable change in mood that I was experiencing, I realised that I hadn’t been grateful for the good things and I had been focusing on all of the negative things. Since then I’ve started writing down the things I’m grateful for every night in my diary and it has helped me tremendously.
I hope this exercise can help you be happier, accept and forgive yourself for the past and move towards a future where you are being who you want to be and doing what you want to do.