When I found myself in the grips of utter despair, gut wrenching pain and agony; when I really wasn’t sure if I could endure yet another hurdle and I wanted to give up, I would often do a very powerful exercise, that challenged the beliefs I had about my ability to overcome adversity.
On a piece of paper I drew a line down the middle and in each column I wrote:
All the things I’ve overcome All the things I’ve done
I made a list on each side. I thought of every little thing I’d survived and accomplished no matter how small it seemed, no matter how insignificant it appeared.
At the end, when I still found myself saying I couldn’t do it, I had the evidence on paper to prove that actually I could do it and I’d done it many times before. I survived. I’d pulled through. When I could see my list it encouraged me and gave me hope. It proved to me how strong I was. It showed my persistence and determination to keep going.
What this did was shift my focus. It gave me a rationale perspective. It reminded me of how far I’d come. It challenged my negative thoughts and beliefs about my own abilities, my strength, my resilience. It challenged who I thought I was.
So often when we have so much to deal with, we discredit just how far we’ve come. We forget to look back and acknowledge the many challenges we’ve faced and won. But it’s during your toughest times, that it’s critical to see your successes. Train your mind to refer back to your successes, your triumphs rather than your failures.
When you say “this one’s too hard, or I can’t do it” , look at your list and say, ” Actually I can. Look at all the challenges I’ve faced and conquered. If I could do it before I can do it again.”
Keep this list somewhere where you can keep adding to it, where you can refer back to it and each time you’re doing it tough, remind yourself of exactly how far you’ve come and what you’ve achieved. Read it out aloud and listen to the evidence. Hearing it is very powerful.
When you practice this enough times, eventually you don’t need the list because you find yourself automatically referring to a situation that proves your ability to overcome. You’ve trained your mind to revert back to your successes and triumphs.
It’s a powerful exercise that shows us just how strong, capable and courageous we truly are in the midst of the darkest periods of our lives.