I still have issues, but I can deal with it

Four weeks have passed and I can honestly say that I’m a different person. I’m talking about completing the Vibrant Life workshop with Telana Simpson. What I’ve learned is that this is a constant work in progress, and thanks to the tools we’ve been given, we should be able to deal with whatever life throws at us more effectively.

The main thing that struck me at our first meeting was the size of the group: five women ready to take charge of their lives. Due to the nature of the workshop (I found it very emotional), Telana says she tries to keep groups to eight people or less, because it really is a personal journey.

self-esteem

Without giving too much away, this is what I’ve learned in a nutshell:

  • Self-esteem and self-confidence are not the same thing
  • Your esteem/worth is unconditional and not tied to how successful you are at anything
  • Feedback doesn’t have to be taken personally – use it as an opportunity to question perceptions and mine deeper information, and take what you feel is relevant to you
  • You can only take responsibility for your own thoughts, feelings, words, and actions – not those of other people
  • You are responsible to others to provide feedback through words and actions
  • Responsibility is not a heavy burden – it is simply the ability to respond; if you feel you aren’t able to respond sufficiently in a situation, it is your responsibility to say so, and to make an effort to either change the situation, or develop the skills in order to respond
  • Optimism is more than just happy thoughts
  • Indexing – always asking questions and analysing situations – will go a long way to changing your perception and response
  • You need to be aware of your thoughts and responses in order to be able to modify them

I can deal with confrontation better now. While I still worry about failing at a new task, I realise that that’s because I don’t have confidence to do it, and that it will get easier the more I do it. When I fail at a task, it doesn’t mean I fail as a person. And it doesn’t mean I won’t succeed the next time.

There was just one point in the information provided over the four weeks that I do not agree with; a statement that pessimists are more likely to suffer from depression. Depression is a medical condition; it can be genetic. Having established that optimism is not merely a sunny disposition, you can’t say that optimists are less likely to be depressed; it’s like saying they’re less likely to catch a cold or break a limb.

I feel I can say this, because my outlook has become more optimistic, but I’m still keenly aware of being a person with depression. I was able to go unmedicated for almost two years, but there’s no shame in realising that your body chemistry is not functioning in an optimal way and getting help for it. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to deal with the issues in my life, or that I think taking my little white pill every night is going to solve my problems. It does mean that I take responsibility for my health – physically and mentally – and that I take action; that (if I’m not taking what I’ve learnt completely the wrong way) makes me an optimist.

I only wish I had done this course a lot sooner. So many situations in my life could’ve been prevented from spiralling out of control; I could’ve retained my power. I will be forever grateful to Telana for giving me this opportunity and these tools.

Do yourself a favour: sign up to be notified of when the next course is presented, especially if you’re facing a situation that could make you doubt yourself and your abilities, e.g. your first job, a new job, being retrenched, retiring, divorce, etc. The course won’t solve your problems, but it will equip you to better deal with difficult encounters.

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