It’s funny how one moment we’re on cloud nine, feeling great about ourselves or our lives, what we’ve accomplished, how far we’ve come and the next moment we can find ourselves under a dark cloud because of something that we didn’t foresee happening.
Just a few hours ago I was reveling in the excellent job I’d done with my sister recording an episode of Estrada Sisters Connect, our inspirational mental health advocacy show, and now I’m battling feelings of anger, frustration, guilt, shame. I’m blaming myself for what I didn’t do to prevent my laptop from crashing. My cell phone is being propped up by a stand and I’m typing this on a feeble portable keyboard I haven’t needed in years while trying not to lose my temper as it shifts under my fingers. The wobbly keyboard is slowing me down and frustrating me as this article is already “late” and the spiraling thoughts of ‘you shoulda done this yesterday but you suck’ keep popping up.
Life is like this all of the time: 50% of the time we’re happy, in love, confident and proud and the other 50% we’re feeling like we’re imposters, heartbroken, lame, life isn’t fair, feeling like we’re not doing enough and/or shaming ourselves for decisions we’ve made in the past.
Life is 50/50 and we don’t usually know when that sucky 50% is gonna hit us and rock our world but without fail, that negative part always comes.
It shows up in all aspects of our lives. You ordered beautiful new furniture and got a great deal but the furniture won’t show up for four months. You get a big beautiful fluffy dog but you have to walk them in 24 degree weather and his poops are big and stinky. You landed a great new job after months of searching, applying, and interviewing but then are humbled by being ‘the new person’ and struggling to figure out basic systems and who to call in your new role.
Marcella Badillo, one of my Life Coaching clients is a wife, mom of two, creative entrepreneur with multiple businesses AND recently started a new executive role at a company. She described the juxtaposition of the “Life is 50/50” concept perfectly when she recently said:
“Some days I don’t know what I’m doing and I wonder ‘why did I sign up for all of this?!’ And other days I’m like, “I can teach people how to do this!’”.
Who can’t relate? We all go through these ebbs and flows of knowing in our hearts we CAN do this and then doubting ourselves with the same certainty.
In the grand scheme of our lives we can look back and see the seasons of when life was that epically great 50% and the 50% that was riddled with shadows, failures, heartbreaks and loss. And if we zoom into each of those seasons we can remember that we experienced great joy, pleasure, defeat and failures within each of them.
So what do we do with that inextricable suffering that is part of the human experience? Throw our hands up in defeat and let the negative ruminating thoughts lead to actions that keep us stuck and disappointed? Buy into toxic positivity, pretend the bad isn’t happening and not feel our feelings? Numb the feelings with drinking, shopping, drugs, binge watching TV, working out, and any other activity we default to when we don’t wanna feel our feelings or listen to our thoughts?
We gird ourselves with courage, community, compassion, love, determination, and inspiration.
We look in our life tool box and try all the things we’ve learned in our journey to keep us from an extended downward spiral.
Before I get into how we can equip ourselves with those tools, let’s take a closer look at the positive and negative parts of life.
When we’re in the positive 50%, we typically think/feel like:
This is awesome, this is never gonna end!
This is awesome, when is it gonna end?
I love it here, I wish I could just live here
I finally made it! I’m never going back!
When’s the other shoe gonna drop?
This is going too well, something must be off
This is great but I know it’s going to end soon
What did I do to deserve this?
I’m so proud of myself!
Can I really be this happy?
When we’re in the negative 50%, we typically think or feel like:
Feeling like its never ending (hopeless, resigned)
Why meee? (victim, self-pity)
I don't want to do this alone (hold my hand)
Imposter Syndrome (who do I think I am? They’re gonna find out I don't belong here)
Losing Faith (this is never gonna happen for me)
Failing, disappointing ourselves and others
Get angry or frustrated
Feelings of depression and defeat
Just so you know, this happens to everybody. These patterns don’t discriminate against gender, ethnicity, socio-economic status, or age. You are not alone. We all experience those high highs and low lows. The problem is that most of us tend to place so much focus on the negative 50% that it feels like there are more of those moments than there are positive ones. When we are going through something difficult–whether it be related to work, love, family or health–we tend to think that the bad times will never end. We wonder “when will I ever catch a break”? And yet, when we are experiencing that positive side… we always know it’s going to end. Sometimes we are so focused on the impending end of it that we fail to even savor the beauty of that moment. We rarely wonder “why do good things always happen to me?”
The real question is how can you mitigate the lows and bring yourself back to a more positive state of being?
Is that even possible? I’m here to tell you that it IS possible. It may not be easy, but it is definitely possible. I’ve spent years cultivating tools to help me and my clients get through the negative 50% with minimal devastation to our lives. Those same tools also help us to truly cherish the positive 50% and thus live a more authentically joyful life.
This is what I’ll be sharing with you in the Big Dream Consulting blog this year. You can expect a blog on this 50/50 theme twice per month, each one focusing on how to shift your perspective both during the good times and the bad times. It is my honor to be able to share my experience with you and to offer you the opportunity to work with me one-on-one should you wish to delve deeper into these practices.
Welcome, I’m so glad to be on this journey with you. I love you and I see you.
Your Virtual Life Coach,
Big Dream Consulting
*Support for this article provided by Patricia Estrada