There are people out there that think it helps to think about how insignificant their problems are to the grand scheme of things. You know, the people who remind you that we are all just small nothings floating around the universe. Or people who tell you that “there are people out there that have it way worse than you.” Well that sentiment is crap. Thinking that way just makes me feel worse. First of all it makes me feel shallow for even feeling the slightest emotion because clearly “I’m insignificant”. Second, thinking of all the people out there having it worse than me makes my Pisces empathy kick into high gear and I end up feeling worse than before.
The other day I texted the hub with “I feel powerless.” Yes it was a completely over dramatic statement on my part, but it was totally true. The hub’s response? “Smack one of the cats.” Totally a joke on his part and of course I would never hurts my little kitties, but it made me think… that is exactly what people do. Take out their feelings of powerlessness on those smaller than them. People often try to find control over their lives in unhealthy and volatile ways. Rape, murder, suicide, anorexia, bulimia, over eating, drugs, alcohol… it’s all just people trying to gain some sort of control.
But taking control of your life doesn’t have to end in death, mental anguish or puke. Here’s my guide to taking responsibility for your own happiness.
I hate my job
The situation: You hate your job. You’re not independently wealthy. You feel trapped.
The solution: No, you can’t make people hire you, but here is what you can do to take control.
- Update your resume. And create a killer cover letter. You’re cover letter should be tailored to the positions you are applying for. Take the time to do this. It will help future employers to feel special. People like to feel special and they are more likely to hire people who make them feel special.
- Apply apply apply. Maybe it’s not the ideal job or maybe you think you aren’t qualified. So what? You’re never going to get out of your current job if you don’t apply for others. Never let the list of qualifications scare you away from applying. I had a friend who applied for a position as manager of Oprah’s website. Yeah THAT Oprah. And you know what? She got the job. She didn’t feel she met all the qualifications, but went for it anyway. True story.
- Get some friends together and have mock interviews. Ok yes it sounds lame, but it’s a great way to become a pro at interviewing so when you get the call for one you can be prepared. Compile a list of the typical and not so typical questions and ask them to each other. Come up brilliant answers that will knock the socks off your interviewer. The best one to work on is the dreaded question “what are your weaknesses” No future employer wants to hear “I can’t think of one” or “I don’t have one,” or even worse “that I care too much.” These answers are uncreative and completely phony. Of course you also don’t want to answer this question honestly… employers don’t want to hear that your weaknesses are your inability to get to work on time or your pension for taking your aggressions out on your cat. Practice your handshake and practice looking people in the eye. A good hand shake and the ability to look people in the eye is a sign of a well adjusted honest and confident person. If you can’t bear the thought of doing this in company of your friends then practice in front of your mirror of video tape yourself.
- Take a class or go back to school and get your masters. You’ll make connections and learn new skills that will help you to get out of your current place of employment or help to get you a promotion.
The situation: You keep shoving copious amounts of food in my mouth and now your pants don’t fit.
The solution: Look weren’t all meant to be size 2s. We all don’t have speedy metabolisms or havethe money to pay for lipo time to work out hours a day with a trainer. But this doesn’t mean we have to give up and resign ourselves to an unhealthy life style. I’m not suggesting that you have to be skinny to be happy, but if you feel powerless about your appearance there is nothing wrong with making a few changes for the better. I could rehash the same old advice that is written in millions of magazines; after all I always say, if you want diet advice ask a fat girl…she’ll have all the tips, but I’m not going to do that. My only advice is to create a list of the changes you want to make and form a plan to put those changes in action, even if it’s one day at a time. And just so I make it clear, I am totally on board with your decision to eat the piece of chocolate cake if you so choose. Just make sure you are really choosing to do so and it’s not because you’re looking for some iota of happiness because that iota of happiness will turn into guilt fast and that guilt will turn into sadness and that sadness will overwhelm you and make you feel powerless and well that just puts you right back where you started.
The situation: You have massive amounts of credit card debt and spend money the moment you get it. You feel like you will die penniless on the street.
The solution: This one is a tough one for me. Maybe more than the other ones combine. I have a pitiful savings because I like to buy things. I have the consumer itch. I’m convinced that somewhere deep inside my brain I associate buying things and owning things with being special. We all want to be special right? But really half of my clothes are shoved in the back of my closet and only see the light on rare occasions and in reality I have very little to show for my credit card debt. I learned the hard way that there is nothing on this planet worth double or triple what it costs, which is what you end up paying when you put it on your credit card. If I had to do it all over again I would have told the Chase Bank employee to kiss my royal Irish ass. That I didn’t want the damn card, but I thought I could control myself…I don’t know who I was kidding… I hardly have self control. But what’s done is done. Now it’s time to undo. Here are my suggestions
- Create a monthly budget. Stick to it.
- Pay bills first. Have fun later.
- Put money into your savings. Even if it is the smallest amount ever. Even better, see if you’re bank will do an automatic monthly transfer so that you have no choice but to save. It will make you feel better. You’ll eventually start to see it add up and you’ll have money in case of an emergency.
- Pay off your card with the lowest amount first. This was the best advice I ever got. I have paid off 4 credit cards in the past year and a half by doing it this way. You’ll feel a total sense of accomplishment and it will help fuel you to proceed.
- Once you pay off one credit card, take the money you were paying towards it and put it towards the other cards. Keep doing it until you pay them all off.
- When shopping ask yourself a few questions: Will I want this tomorrow? Will this be available to me in a week? Or month? Why do I want this? And if it’s clothes or shoes, ask what can I wear with this? And make sure you can wear this item with five different looks.
- Never pay full price. Full price is for suckers. Always shop sales or discount stores.
People piss me off.
The situation: People seem to be trying to bring you down.
The solution: You can’t change other people. But you can change how you react to people. My boss is completely tactless and often says rude comments without even knowing it. She also always has a way of blowing things out of proportion. Some people like drama, it makes them feel important, but no one says you have to buy into. If the way you reacted in the past isn’t getting you anywhere, try something different.
Let me conclude by saying I never said I was perfect…in fact I am far far far from it. I’m just tired of feeling like I have no control over my life and have come up with these ideas as solutions to some of my own problems. You may think all my ideas are complete rubbish that is certainly your prerogative. But I encourage you to see your problems as opportunities for improvement in your life instead of burdens. We are all works in progress. Try it for a few weeks. If after that you decide you prefer to wallow in self pity, I completely support your choice to do so.