Optimism and the abundance mindset are like a muscle that requires strengthening. The more you train them for endurance the stronger they will be in times of difficulty. 

When I was 18 I left home and over the next twenty years, had three children and moved over 14 times. When I tell people that I have lived in over 8 cities they ask if I was in the military and the truth is I have not. Why then would someone move so many times, why would they send their children to 8 different schools? 

Hope and optimism appear at the beginning of each new opportunity. Scarcity and fear appear at the beginning of each challenge. 

Because I was lacking an abundance mindset, faith and grit, when a challane would hit, I didn’t have the skill to get through it. Instead of facing whatever it was, I grabed onto the hope of something new and closed the door of what ever had been. This viscous cycle had a price that I was not able to see. That cycle cost me my own trust, integrity, fed my fear and become my self fulfilling prophesy of failure. The cycle was that I knew things didn’t work out for me, when I had hope, I would make the move, take the new job, enter into the new relationship all the while, deep in my heart, believing that I didn’t deserve to have it, couldn’t hold onto it, couldn’t find happiness.

Then when trouble came, I would tell myself deep down, that I was right, I really couldn’t have it, and would wallow in my victom mindset feeling sorry for myself, wondering why everyone else could find what I only dared to dream of. 

Looking back is very fascinating and there is a lot to learn. When I would look at a new opportunity in a new city, I would do a lot of research. It was like looking into a glass window that can only be viewed one way. When I had hope, I could see all the good, this could look like kids programs, schools,  Mom’s groups, community safety, pockets of great family neighbourhoods, great employment rates and so on. The data was viewed with, “rosy glasses” as my Grandma would say. 

When something difficult happened, such as my landlord decided to sell the house we were renting and we had to move, my marriage didn’t make it, I didn’t get the promotion I had felt I was promised, my view changed.

It was like looking at the one way window and now on the other side, I could only see myself and the reflection. In that reflection in the place of the good programs, community events and groups, all I was able to see was the bad things. I could see the drug users, the bad name the city had I had not noticed before, the Mom’s groups that I would now judge and only see the “bossy Mom’s”, or the Clique Mom’s that didn’t associate with Working Mom’s. 

No matter what you do in life or who you are if you have been in this mindset, I can bet you will relate. When one is in a victim mindset, a scarcity mindset or being driven by fear, everything seems bad, frustrating and hopeless. 

It took quite some time to go from feeling hopeless to being filled with joy, peace, gratitude and hope, it happened in gradual steps yet looking back it seems like a life time ago I was in that place.

I believe that anyone can make the switch and the first step is simply the ability to see it. If you don’t know it is possible to change your vision of the world, it is darn near impossible to change your vision of the world.

Once you know it is possible, there are a few steps to take that to me felt like a dance. A dance because as you learn one, you will excel and regress at it and when you add in more, the same will happen. One day you may move a step closer to hope yet three back in fear and the next day is may be the opposite.

For me, the first was coming to a place of non judgment. This meant that I had to cease beating myself up for the mistakes I had made, and that was a loooong process. I learned how to notice that I was beating myself up and STOP judging myself for doing it. I would think, “hmmm, how interesting, I am beating myself up again, I wonder why”? I would become curious and ask myself questions such as, How can I treat myself with the same love and compassion that I would my own children? What would I do differently next time? What do I need right now?

Part of having a scarcity mindset was in that self fulfilling prophecy that I had developed and that was a little tricky to do. I had piles of evidence that I was a failure, it was time to gather some evidence that I was not. I surrendered perfection and began to allow myself to fail, I learned that failure is a part of life and it is ok. I learned to say sorry when I made a mistake and I no longer blamed others.

Part of my frustration was that I never felt valued by others. Some of the reason why I was never valued by others was because I never valued myself. Can you see the cycle, if I don’t value myself why would others value me? I would do everything that everyone asked of me all the time. After doing too much for everyone I would feel burned out, when I would tell someone that I couldn’t do what the needed they would get really angry with me and that cycle again continued, I believed that I was not enough.

How did it stop? I developed boundaries and slowly, began to form health relationships with people that respected them. I began to feel hope, people liked me for me, I didn’t have to do things for them to have a relationship with them, therefore when I declined something they asked for, they did not mind. The cycle was falling apart, I began to see my worth, I began to surround myself with people that have beautiful hearts, I gave up judgment and was no longer judged. (The visual I have is when Forrest Gump began to run and his leg braces fell off) If you havent seen Forrest Gump, I highly recomend it!

It was messy, remember that dance I talked about? There were times that I would make a mistake and blame someone else only to realize it an beat myself up. When I realized it I would apologise to the person I blamed and then make peace with myself for beating myself up. I believe that Personal Growth is a life long journey. 

Once I realized that happiness never comes when we are running after it, like one never gets anywhere on a treadmill, I settled down and stayed in one place for a long time. When difficulty arose, instead of running and closing doors, I began to think about how I wanted to approach it. I faced many hard situations, had my heart broken, made big mistakes and failures yet instead of being devastated and cast into more fear, I became grateful for the experience, grateful that I was exercising my muscles of personal growth. 

I’m not sure my training will ever end, as long as my heart continues to beat I am sure there will always be something that will help me grow! I aim to encourage others that are feeling the pain of being beaten by life. Hope is within your reach. You can choose hope, choose love, choose to keep trying, never give up. Last but not least,  faith helped me a lot, faith is surely the sunshine of personal growth! 

Photo by Ron Smith on Unsplash