Faith

IMG_0263A little over a week ago, I received a request on Twitter to review a book on this blog. Since no one has ever asked me to review a book here (or anywhere else for that matter), I immediately jumped at the opportunity and received my copy of Your Self Sabotage Survival Guide: How to Go From WHY ME? to WHY NOT? in the mail a few days later.

The request was prompted by a post I wrote here titled “Perhaps I’ve Said Too Much,” which discussed how I focus so much on negative things about myself that I often self-sabotage my own efforts to achieve success. My use of the hashtag “#selfsabotage” must have attracted the good folks at Career Press, and they extended the offer for me to review the book. A perfect match, right?

Well, not quite. To be clear, Your Self Sabotage Survival Guide is a finely written book which excellently conveys author Karen Berg’s enthusiasm for helping people rise above various attitudes and behaviors which can hold them back in life. The emphasis of this site, however, deals more with everyday life issues, while Berg’s book focuses more on achieving success in the business world. For example, whereas Berg’s book dedicates an entire chapter to the importance of personal appearance, this blog is much more likely to discuss how depressed people can sometimes have problems getting out of bed to make it to the closet where their shirts are located.

So while I read the book and recognized what an excellent job Berg was doing talking to her target audience, I found myself not really paying a lot of attention to what she had written. While I did not readily identify with many of the behavioral tips she offered, however, I always got a clear sense of where she was coming from: We can often do just as much to hold ourselves back as anyone else can, and sometimes we have to make a conscious effort to change not only how we view ourselves but also how we act. As I mentioned in my last post here, coming to terms with that mindset has been difficult for me, but I think I’m finally starting to get it a little more.

One chapter in Berg’s book did stand out for me, and it had to do with faith. There are no Christian sentiments expressed in the book, but observe what Berg says about the topic of faith:

“Faith is belief. Faith is what makes you know that even without immediate proof, the choices you’ve made and the course you’re on are the right ones.”

For all the talk I’ve done about depression and fear and anxiety and lack of success, I’m not sure I’ve ever been entirely convinced I could be free from any of it. For so long, I’ve looked back on large chunks of my life and felt as if I hadn’t been at such a disadvantage physically or socially or economically I might have succeeded, when in many instances the real truth was that I didn’t think I could succeed no matter what the circumstances. Not smart enough, not handsome enough, not outgoing enough, not talented enough. Other people may have tried to put all those labels on me, but I’m that one that chose to believe them.

IMG_0264Earlier this week, I bought a new watch. I got it at Walmart, and I think it looks nice. Someone at work was asking me about it, and immediately I began to say, “Well, it’s just a Casio from Walmart…” No matter what it cost or where it came from, it’s still a nice-looking watch. Why did I feel the need to downplay anything positive about it? It tells the time just as well as a $200 watch would. It may not have as many bells and whistles as a more expensive watch, but it does the same job just as well.

I’ve written here in the past about how depression is something I’ll have to cope with and adjust for every day, and that is indeed true to a certain extent. I can also choose to believe, however, that my adjusting efforts will be successful and that I can lead a well-balanced life and not have to live in fear of falling of the edge of the precipice all the time. I can stop self-sabotaging my own life.

If you are stuck in a career or life rut and would like to begin redefining yourself, I have no problem suggesting Your Self Sabotage Survival Guide as a fine starting point for your efforts. Again, the book is written by Karen Berg and is published by Career Press. It may not have been exactly what I was looking for, but it may be exactly what you need.

Advertisements

Ten Years

I have many friends who love to eat. Not only do they love to eat, they love to take pictures of what they eat and post them on social media wolfgang-puckwebsites. I can’t say I’m a particularly big fan of this practice. I mean, if you’re out at a restaurant or it’s some special occasion, sure, go ahead and snap a picture of your plate. If it’s the Tuesday night meal at home, it’s slightly less interesting to me. Personal preference, though; you post what you want, Wolfgang.

Because I can be something of a smart aleck when I’m protected by the security of a keyboard, I decided one day to post pictures on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Google+ (Yes, I actually use that one, too.) of everything I ate. It was all really mundane stuff – a banana, a peanut butter sandwich, a bag of Lay’s potato chips. I don’t know if anyone else found it funny, but I at least amused myself that day. The exercise also taught me something else, however: I don’t eat very much over the course of a day. I didn’t realize it until I saw everything laid out in pictures.

Sometimes we can’t see things clearly until they’re placed very obviously in front of us. I was challenged by someone recently to come up with a 10-year life plan for myself. I knew when they asked me to do this that it would be difficult, but what I didn’t know was that the process of trying to write it down would trigger so many feelings. Optimism, anger, frustration, depression, hopefulness, despair… Mostly, though, I couldn’t stop thinking about how the concept of seeing ten more years pass was very difficult for me to grasp. Most days, I’m doing good to make it through the next ten minutes.

That’s when it hit me: I expend a remarkable amount of mental energy just getting through one day. Addicts mention the term “one day at a time” a lot, and sometimes that’s how I feel like I’m dealing with life. If I can just get through this one day, then maybe I can face the next one. Author Richard O’Connor once wrote, “People with depression generally are working too hard but not getting anywhere.” I can’t even fathom ten years right now because I’m just trying to make it from Point “A” to Point “B.”

Sitting down and going over this plan with someone else will, hopefully, help me to see things differently. As I told someone recently about my desire to go back to college to pursue a degree in psychology, “I want to get the whole thing finished in about two weeks.” I want immediate results, but in this instance I’m attempting to unravel 40 years of thought processes. It may take some time. Maybe even ten years.

Kings And Queens

I have the utmost sympathy for people who cannot drag themselves up from the depths of depression. The kinds of people who need counseling and prayer and medicine and whatever else it takes to get back on their feet again. The kinds of people who have difficulty even looking another person in the eye. The kinds of people who are beat up, broken, and bruised.

But I also think some people need to just get the hell over it.

Maybe that’s too harsh. No one has ever told me, but I’m sure I’ve cleared some rooms in my time with my Bob Bummer routine. I’m sure I’vebobbummer sent one too many impassioned emails attempting to clarify my positions. I’m sure at least one person has ignored my call because they didn’t want to deal with the negativity emanating from the other end of the line. I realize I have a pessimistic streak a mile wide, and I’m working hard to try to narrow it every day.

Some people, however, just seem to thrive on the drama. I always think it’s ironic that the people on Facebook or Twitter who comment the most about not needing “the drama” are almost always the ones generating the most of it. They cling to it. It’s what makes them feel right or alive or justified or whatever. Sometimes they’re looking for people to be on their side, and sometimes they’re just looking for someone to fight with.

They are the kings and queens of drama.

I want desperately to empathize with them, mainly because I know I can exhibit so many of their tendencies. Sometimes I feel as if I’m going borderline nuts because I get so wrapped up in day-to-day situations that wouldn’t mean beans to anyone but me. What I’m beginning to realize, though, is sometimes you don’t need to hit send. You don’t need to post that status. You don’t have to make that call. And you sure don’t have to stay in the state of mind that would make you do any of those things.

I hope I’m not being insensitive here. It’s just that when you’re trying to shake feelings of negativity and depression, these people have a way of sucking the life out of you. I should know; I’ve sucked the life out of enough people myself. This stuff is a killer, folks, and we have got to abdicate our thrones. And I’m hitting “send” … now.

Worlds Apart

I’m not exactly sure how to say this, so I’ll just say it: I’ve seen Jars of Clay in concert four times, and one of those times they were jerks. I expect artists to have off-nights every now and then, but on this particular evening they came across as arrogant, snarky, and kind of bored with the whole affair. Combine that with lead singer Dan Haseltine’s apparent inability to tweet without starting an argument these days, and the seeds were kind of sown for me to not follow the group as closely as I once did.

Nevertheless, one of those songs that always gets to me is “Worlds Apart,” from the group’s self-titled debut project. I am the only one to blame for this/Somehow is all ends up the same… It’s still my favorite Jars of Clay song today, but its meaning for me always seems to be evolving. At first, it was the praise-and-worshipy chorus that caught my ear. As time went by, however, I came to realize the song is really a call for help from the bottom, when we realize we just can’t do it anymore.

So today’s post is “Worlds Apart.” If you haven’t listened to it in a while, listen to it again.