2019 Is Here: Let’s Make It Our Best Year Ever By Adopting These Five Self-Improvement Tools
As I shared throughout recent conversations and social media posts about how 2018 was the greatest year I have experienced in the past six years, I was surprised to learn that many of my friends, spiritual brothers, peers and personal icons did not feel the same about their 2018 years. My surprise derived from my assumptions of them feeling great, or much better than they proclaimed, because of what I noticed about them externally — better yet, what they allowed me to see of them intentionally and unintentionally. My shocks reminded me of the lessons I shared with a former friend about coveting another’s lifestyle or material possessions while not knowing people’s journeys of maintaining lifestyles and/or possessions that we admire or envy.
Once the reality of my friends’ and peers’ not-so-great years sunk in, I expressed not just my sincere compassion, but also curiosity, as I hoped to be able to help them to be delivered from trying years by sharing some wisdom gained and lessons learned throughout my years of depression between 2008 and 2017. Though I endured 10 years of depression, 2016 and 2017 were my most depressing and rock-bottom years that drove me to the edge – if you know what I mean – more than once.
No matter the life experiences that challenge us, we can overcome our greatest pitfalls that seem too deep to climb out of and prevent major — controllable — events from becoming tragedies if we apply these five behaviors, that I applied in my life throughout 2018, that will transform depressive times into ongoing moments of triumph.
Take full accountability for every challenge you are currently enduring. It does not matter whether you caused these situations that troubled you. Taking ownership of every challenge in your life gives you the authority to determine each challenge’s outcome — including making the challenges less painful to deal with, easier to manage, and easier to turn into triumphs. Know that you do not have to be “at fault” for you to take accountability; making yourself exposed to be hit by that challenge is where you must be accountable in order to deal with it, grow from it and prevent from dealing with such challenge again. Taking ownership of a challenge gives you power to determine the challenge’s fate or duration for you.
Do your best to not allow every fallout with or disrespect from others to fester stressful feelings inside. As humans, we have emotional responses to every action we encounter. Thus, any time we encounter disrespectful behaviors from others, naturally, we respond emotionally with feelings of anger, resentment, etc. as inward and outward forms of expression. Though our feelings are valid and natural, how we allow them to fester and linger into forms of stress — through internationalization, acts of rage, impulsive actions, etc. — determines how long those issues last or how serious they become for us.
Ignore the public and social media platforms of people who project negativity, thrive off of finding faults in others, promote oppression over empowerment, distract your attention from productivity and trigger your stressful feelings. Personally, I had to perform an extreme change in how I consume information and entertainment on television and on social media when I realized the toxic behaviors of reality-TV shows and stars promoting ubiquitous violence and self-degradation for fame and social media outlets like Black Twitter that celebrate “canceling” or trying to end the careers of Black celebrities. Seeing the frequent vitriolic and desperate acts of Black Twitter, Black gossip blogs, Black “mainstream” media outlets and Black reality-TV stars — most notability seeing so-called Black feminists, male and female, demonizing Black men regularly on social media platforms and on Black, gay and leftist media — infuriated me where I want to show my thoughts of anger on social media or talk with my friends how much I hated particular toxic platforms or loathe specific Black notables for their condemning soapboxes that promoted self over the communities they pretend to care about. Once I noticed how often I felt compelled to respond in those ways, I made a conscious effort, especially throughout 2018, to cut my attention from those platforms that triggered such negative and stressful emotions and have been feeling better and better since. When friends and peers want to talk with me about those things I now usually respond, “I don’t even keep up with that junk.”
Always trust your instincts. Self-doubt was the growing poison that was the root of the depression I endured from 2008 until 2017. Self-doubt is that poison that kills your opportunities and brings you the shoulda’s, coulda’s and woulda’s, as you wonder what your future could have held if you had persevered through an opportunity, moment or challenge fear talked you out of. If you are facing self-doubt, I strongly recommend that you seek time to speak with a therapist, life coach or spiritual guide who will encourage you to talk freely and uninterrupted about the underlying issues or traumatic experiences that led to your self-doubt. Such discovery will help you heal from your self-serving poison. Sessions with my therapist and talking about self-doubt with friends and peers who have experienced similar depression helped me ease out of self-doubt and mature back into the most confident Waddie I have been. Though I have not perfected my confidence, I feel like a champion in present day because I have the intention to trust my instincts and believe that I can achieve more of the very things I desire when I apply myself to opportunities and risks that lead to success, happiness and miracles.
Accept every new challenge as an opportunity to learn and grow than a reason to dwell in mourning. For as long we have lived individually, we all should be able to agree that every day is not guaranteed to be without an incident. With the right (chosen) mindset, we can be victors, instead of victims, over new challenges. In the beginning of 2018, I encountered two potential lovers who disrespected me like controlling narcissists. I took the second lover seriously, and not the first, because of the instant chemistry we had and was too dumbstruck to realize that he was no longer as into me as I was to him. As a result, I wanted to feel extremely hurt and victimized as I had much contempt for him. My heart was broken, but I wisened to understand that life goes on, he moved on and that I must pick up the pieces and continue to live happily and nearly depression-free as I was before, during and after him. My final break-up with him was the (most vital) sign I needed to realize how important self-love and self-respect are at times of being dishonored by others. That break-up was the very lesson I needed to realize my years-long pattern of attracting highly–insecure narcissists who misuse and abuse my good heart. Before meeting and dealing with him, I discovered that I had a habit of drawing a certain type of toxic people in my life who will only be around temporarily after taking them very seriously. It was this personal relationship where I realized that dealing with his kind jeopardized my inner-peace and would lead me back into depression. Since him, cutting out toxic people who share similar traits has been much easier.
There are many more gems and lessons I would love to impart onto you. These are the five I feel are most important as they take time to develop, particularly for people who have fallen deeply into similar forms of depression as I have.
2019 will be the greatest year you will experience as long as you begin by claiming that first. Immediately after claiming that, you must put in the work. I hope the tools I have provided you here will guide you into your greatest year ever.