How Perspective Gives Us Power.

One of life’s truths for better or for worse; is that as we grow, we find the only person we can ever be truly responsible for is ourselves.

If you’ve read my previous post “Another Brown Girls Story” You know that I’m no stranger to abuse, I have in my past been victimized by others in some pretty extreme ways. Many times people have commented on my strength and ability to defy the norms, Social workers have on one more than one occasion asked how I did it.. and we’ve discussed and debated together how others in similar situations have not.

While I am tempted to write myself off as an optimist a modern Pollyanna, I think there is more to it than that.

I’m a realist in that I try to see the world through a truthful lens. I don’t pretty things up or look through the proverbial rose colored glasses. I recognise that there is both true evil and true beauty surrounding us. I look for the good in others but I also am not blind to the fact that some people some relationships some ideas are truly toxic. I know the horrors of abuse, neglect abandonment. the pain of losing good friends by death or by choices, the heartache of knowing that some dreams will never come to be… I look at life for what it is…and I accept it.

But to me, “accepting” is not sitting down and being complacent. It’s not continuing to let things just “happen” to me. I am not crippled or damaged, by other people’s choices. I know that how they affect me is my only real choice in the matter.

I think what separates those of us who make it at those of us who don’t is what we take ownership of.

I do not own that I have any responsibility for the man who raped me when I was five years old. It doesn’t matter that he said “I looked good in yellow baby doll pajamas or was too cute to resist”

I do not own my mothers rhetoric that as an 8-year-old I sent her to jail because I wanted to be adopted my rich people.

I do not own the defamation of character tales that people in my youth and adulthood have spread about me.

They tried to break me. It didn’t work.

That is not to say however that I see myself as perfect. I do not see myself as “without blame” or “faultless”.  I take ownership of what is mine. That I can be selfish, lazy, distracted jealous, that I can put my needs before those of others, that I can cut people with words or only take so much that the kindest I can be, is to think of those who hurt me as “dead”. I take ownership that I am a mamma bear and will defend those I love with my life, that I can be pushy and demanding. That I’m not yet all that I want to be. That sometimes I’m ashamed of who I am.

But

I look at who I am in honesty. I do not make excuses. (I can be a little scary that way) and then I make a plan.

I recently learned this is called “Growth Mindset” and for me it makes all the difference.

With a growth mindset you never settle. It is the opposite of accepting that “this is just how things are” Every single successful person in life has a GROWTH MINDSET. They see failure as an opportunity.

The opposite of this is a fixed mindset.  People with a fixed mindset believe that how things are is how they will always be. The danger here is that if something shakes this belief people are often lost. Some of us have an idea that because we were not born into opportunity, because the cards were stacked against us from birth our destiny is to fail. We go through life saying “you just don’t understand”, “it’s not my fault”. In someways you are right. The circumstance of your past were in many ways not your fault! However, Your future most definitely is!

Wherever you are, today is your opportunity to move forward! If you want to be more educated, go to the library. Or stop watching pointless mind numbing internet crap. Instead, watch a Biography or a Ted Talk. If you want better relationships, get off Facebook and go do something with family or friends (Board games are still magic) If you want to lose weight….(just kidding I have no advice on that one!).  You can do something little every single day to start to improve your life. Even if it just starting to change the way you think!

So lets do this, lets set some goals and shatter some labels! From my perspective, YOU are capable of anything you Set Your Mind To!

I’m rooting for you!

Carob

7 STEPS TO START IMPROVING YOUR LIFE TODAY.

Taking steps to improve your life can be difficult even during good times.

We as humans are prone to being complacent. We are often not really ok with where we are at but lack motivation to achieve more.When you are starting at rock bottom moving forward (and upwards) can seem insurmountable!

For as  long as I can remember I have wanted to live life better. It’s not that I’m some sort of social climber! I never wanted to be rich or famous. What I wanted was to leave the labels and stereotypes of being a foster kid behind. I was going to live my adult  life on my own terms. However, as soon as I Aged Out of foster care, I realized I was alone. I was scared, but thankfully not homeless because my college financial aid package. Despite my anxiety I was also excited. Having moved to a new town to start college,no  one knew me. It was a FRESH START and an opportunity to create the life I wanted. Here’s a list of the actions I took. All of these actions are still viable and effective for anyone wanting a fresh start today:

1.       Create a vision

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 As a 19 year old college freshman I saw the world of opportunities and out of all of my options I knew I knew I wanted to be both an actress, and a wife and mother. I knew loved theater down to my bones and through theatre I would live passionately. I also wanted a family that included a good marriage to a man who would love me as I never had never been loved before.

When you create a vision you have to think about everything you want in life. Your Endgame has to be always in sight. I do this literally with a vision board. But list journals and digital options can also be useful.

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2.       You need a plan

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“If you fail to plan, You are planning to fail”

-Benjamin Franklin

Think of your plan as GOOGLE MAPS. It’s a straight forward (mostly) accurate step by step guide to getting you where you need to be. But sometimes google isn’t up to date and misses things like detours or recently construction and you find yourself needing to take a detour — which may take you longer, or cause you to change plans. 

You MUST Develop Grit:

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Here is where you need resilience.  In her book, Grit, Dr Angela Lee Duckwork talks about how “Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals,” In our journey grit is the ability to keep moving forward no matter what obstacles are placed in your way. Not an easy task but made doable by ….

Developing a Growth Mindset:

That in its most simple terms, is not letting things getting you down. Its adding “yet” to the negative things we tell ourselves. Example “I’m not  good at math” becomes “I’m not as good at math as I’d like to be, yet” In Carol Dweck’s book XX, and her subsequence Ted Talk (give date). She explains that the brain is a muscle and that it can grow and expand to increase intelligence. Dweck challenges the stereotype that “some people are smart and some are not.” We can expand our cognitive abilities! It’s kind of surprising to me that we didn’t figure this out sooner, considering some great minds like Albert Einstein and Mozart were once thought to be developmentally delayed. 

Education:

There are many ways to be educated that don’t include a formal degree. And if you were a foster child after the age of 13 there may even be options for university degrees. I am an “Autodidact ”. That’s a big word to say that I am self- taught. I continually homeschool myself in whatever I want or need to learn. There is a plethora FREE educational resources online (some even offer degrees). Even YouTube (when you can trust the speaker) can be extremely useful. If you do better in a class setting, many charities offer free classes.  I’ve taken some computer classes at my local Goodwill.

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Possibly the most important trait you must develop is character.

Now it goes without saying that many Important people are lacking this. But as a person RISING, You must develop DIGNITY. And that comes through having strong personal character. We have no parents or family name to vouch for us. When people give us a chance they often see it as taking a RISK, We must turn that risk into a reward. That means we must be honest in our dealings, whether that is with money or HOW we work. But beyond just honesty, we must be gracious, we must  be pleasant, and we must be likable. We must take the brick of anger that often often rides on our shoulders, that sense of unfairness–whether perceived or true– and turn that brick into a stepping stone. Use that stepping stone to lift you to where you want to be. 

This is a brief overview of the essential skills you NEED to have to start to improve your life today.

Over the next few months we’ll dig deeper into each of these topics in my blogs, podcasts, youtube channel. Subscribe so you won’t miss a thing!

Until next time, 

Keep Rising!

Carob