Stand Up and Punch Negative Tendencies Out of Your Life

Making headway against self-doubt

Olivia Walters

When I slide back into old habits I have to recenter my focus by viewing my personal growth on a timeline. If you write a journal as I do, then you understand the importance of reviewing entries written months or years ago. That way, you keep yourself in check from unneeded worry or self-doubt. 

January didn’t do me any favors. New year, same frustrations.

I can’t count the nights on two hands when I broke down in tears or lashed out at my partner. There were too many. And let me tell you, I didn’t see it until I stepped out of myself and did some digging. 

When I started seeing my flaws as glamorous quirks and training my mind to spin sadness into substance, I began to accept my transformation. 

There were days and days of my waking up, staring at the same neutral curtain material. Anchored to the bed, or when I did manage to stand on two feet, I floated from one room to another, invisible, withdrawn, and empty. 

Reading back through my journal, the same themes stood out: job dissatisfaction, guilt about my family, resentment for not being able to change the people around me.

I couldn’t keep going on the way I was, for my sake, but also for the people who started to notice. 

Time for self-reflection

Here I am after a year of depression with little to show for my creative self. I know one thing for sure about Olivia and that is her compulsive need to create. When she doesn’t, the consequences are prolonged sequences of self-destruction.

There are a few things that saved me:

  • Freshly squeezed orange juice
  • Books about other people’s lives (see Cherry by Mary Karr)
  • Therapy (a third-party individual with no emotional stake)
  • Medication (discuss with your doctor)
  • Jogging in the cold
  • Finding the courage to leave my job
  • My strong, loving partner

A few weeks have gone by. I’ve noticed a difference in my outlook. 

Now we’re in February, and this year I’ll have a real birthday (hugs to my fellow Leap year babies).

I want to shout this next

part through an

obnoxious megaphone

because it’s important

YOU are in control. That’s right. You’re in control of everything you do, who you hang out with, how you’ll make money, and when you’re ready to punch old habits in the face.

Yes, I mean it. Slam a fist right into your low self-worth. 

When I started seeing my flaws as glamorous quirks and training my mind to spin sadness into substance, I began to accept my transformation. 

I speak out of concern for others. No one can convince you that you need to make positive changes. It comes from within and only from within you. 

If you are working a dead-end job, living paycheck-to-paycheck, friendless, bored, unnaturally tired, or stuck in a relationship that isn’t sending your heart on a red-hot, euphoric marathon to paradise—then wake up.

Talk to yourself if you have to. 

“I am qualified for the job I want. I am beautiful/handsome. I deserve more.”

I assure you that as soon as you start padding your self-esteem with pep talks, they won’t just sound like words deflating out of your mouth like sad balloons. You’ll start to believe. 

“If you are dogged in your pursuits and true to your craft, anything is possible.”

That’s what Paul Nicklen sent me in his most newsletter. Nicklen is a photojournalist and he finally landed an assignment from National Geographic. 

Set high goals, keep yourself accountable, and write out short-term objectives to take you where you want to go.

I believe in you, but that’s because I started believing in myself. ■

All photos //

3 thoughts on “Stand Up and Punch Negative Tendencies Out of Your Life

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