Life, In Other Words

One of the joys of my work is that every time I speak to people I’m likely to learn something new. Last week, it was a new word.

Diana, a lovely and quiet woman, had been sitting wordless in my Change is Inevitable, Suffering is Optional workshop. Suddenly she volunteered, “I suffer from awful-ism. I always plan for the worst.”

“Awful-ism.” Doesn’t that say it all?

Every day you face the choice of whether to embrace awful-ism. When you wake up, do you groan or do you smile? In the shower, do you look ahead to a day of problems or one of exciting challenges? When you get to work, do you avoid eye contact with co-workers, afraid they’ll bring you trouble, or do you greet them with a look that says, “I’m glad to see you?”

When I look back on the 30 years I had suffered with clinical depression, I can see how I let awful-ism get the better of me. So much so, that I was waiting for my real life to begin. But I was mis-focusing. Nothing seemed enough, and so it wasn’t.

For example, I always wanted more and I wanted it right now! And if I couldn’t have it at all, my mood spiraled rapidly downward. (Sounds like a two-year old, doesn’t it? Maybe my life really hadn’t begun yet!)

Likewise, if there were 10 people at a party who really liked me and one who didn’t, I spent all my time and energy trying to win over the holdout. If I failed, I considered the party ruined—awful-ism at work.

I’m hoping you don’t suffer depression. But you’re probably afflicted with awful-ism at least some of the time.

Here’s the antidote in one (new) word: awesome-ism!

I can clearly see that it was awesome-ism that pulled me out of my depression. The more I focused on what was working in my life, the better I felt. The more I focused on what I had instead of what I lacked, the better I felt. The more committed I became to feeling good, the better I felt.

Use the Law of Attraction to nurture your own awesome-ism. Your emotions will tell you whether you’re being an awful-ist or an awesome-ist. If you are feeling negative, it is your inner guidance system alerting you that if you stay focused as you are, you won’t like the results. Conversely, if you’re feeling positive, your results will be positive, too.

We know that awesome-ism feels better, but is there ever a time for awful-ism? Yes, sometimes. If you think it’s safe to drive home after a few drinks, it’s time for awful-ism to take over and convince you otherwise. If you’re thinking of angrily confronting your boss, better listen to your inner awful-ism.

As Dr. Martin Seligman says in his book Learned Optimism, “If the cost of failure is high, optimism is the wrong strategy.”

My journey has been a long one; I didn’t overcome 30 years of awful-ism overnight.

In fact, the life I live today is not very different from the life I led when I was depressed. And yet, I’m happier than I’ve ever been. My depression is a distant memory, and if you ask me if there is ever a time for awesome-ism, I would tell you, “Always.”

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