We all feel down from time to time. Sometimes, it has to do with things that seemingly shouldn’t have any effect on us such negative stories in the news or even the weather (Seasonal Depression affects a lot of folks). Other times, it’s a bit deeper: someone says something to us, we feel overwhelmed with everything going on in our lives or we’re not feeling well physically, which often affects us psychologically.
I’ve discussed a few ways to deal with hopelessness in some prior posts, but one of the techniques I’ve found most effective for beating the blues is to look at all the assets we have. Now “assets” is a loaded word — in fact, part of the reason that many people feel down to begin with is that they look at their financial or physical assets from the “glass is half empty” point of view. What we all need to realize is that although our financial and physical assets (such as a home, savings, cars, etc…) do have some importance in our lives (we need shelter, food, transportation, etc…), it’s our assets such as our knowledge, skills, relationships and attitudes that help us when we’re down.
And often, the assets that are most valuable to us and can help us the most are the ones we tend to overlook when times get tough: the love from our families and friends, the freedom to think freely, the ability to acquire new skills and the power of communication to develop new relationships. So here is a non-exhaustive list of some of these assets that we possess:
1. The ability to communicate:
Unless this article has been translated for you, you’re reading this in English so you can communicate in at least one language (and even if it has been translated, you can read at least one language). Being able to read is a great asset as you’ve got instant access to a wealth of knowledge through the books, the internet, newspapers and other written sources.
If you can speak the native language of the country that you live in, that’s a huge plus as well. You’ll be able to develop relationships which are important to achieve success. Even though many things can be accomplished on-line, there’s still a need to interact with people face to face.
If you are able to communicate in more than one language, then that’s a huge plus for you as well. The more languages you can communicate in (and that includes dialects and sign language) the more people you can communicate with. And therefore, the more opportunities you have ahead of you.
2. Your relationships:
Whether you’re looking for work, clients or to expand your knowledge, there are people out there that can help you. But the real benefit of relationships are the interpersonal bonds that you build with the people you are close to. Whether it’s a spouse, significant other or loving child giving you a loving gaze or a coworker congratulating you on a job well done, the people around you can have tremendous positive effects on you.
Even if you have just one person in the world that cares about you, that person is an asset. But few of us realize how many people really do care about us and the positive impact that our lives have on those around us. My favorite movie is “It’s a Wonderful Life” because of this powerful lesson. In the film, the main character has some bad things wrong with him and wants to take his own life when an angel stops him and shows him what the world would be like had he never been born. I welcome anyone who’s feeling the blues to watch this film.
On a related point, it’s the lack of relationships that give a lot of folks the blues. I witnessed a real life tragic example of this when I was in college. One of my classmates committed suicide after an argument with his girlfriend. Although I didn’t know him well, he and I had mutual friends so I did speak with him on several occasions. I was shocked at the news because I liked him — he was a nice guy.
What so many people who take these extreme measures fail to do is look at the relationships that they do have. It’s easy to sit back and think that because you may not have a significant other or a lot of close friends that no one cares about you, but it’s so untrue. You would be amazed at the amount of people whose lives you positively impact. Here’s a short list: coworkers, associates, colleagues, classmates and neighbors. They may not express it, but you’d be surprised at how many folks would miss you if you were to move to another part of the country or another part of the world.
Even acquaintances, those nameless faces that you see each day as you wait for the bus or train, would miss you. I think most people would be surprised at how many lives they’ve touched through the years. Sit down and really think about it (and make a list, too). Think about all the people you know or come into contact with daily. Include people that you have pleasant interactions with each day, even if you don’t know their names. You’ll be surprised.
3. Your Skills
We all have “technical skills” — the skills that employers look for such as organizing an event, working with computers or selling products. These skills may or may not go stale (especially with technology that’s rapidly changing) but many of the fundamentals will help you learn the latest trends.
But there are some basic skills that we all have and these skills can help us in the toughest times. These skills are interpersonal skills (getting along with others, managing, negotiating, etc…), communication (speaking, writing, etc…) and the ability to learn. You may have others such as:
- Being able to develop a budget.
- Knowing how to drive a car.
- Knowing how to get the best price on certain items.
- Knowing how to make friends.
- Being able to travel on a budget.
- Planning skills.
- Artistic skills.
- The ability to carry a tune.
You may not believe me until you try it for yourself, but I encourage you to spend fifteen minutes making a list of all the things that you can do. Whether it’s put together your kids toys or organize a shoe closet, add it to your list. Now of course, being to line up your shoes by color might not be a marketable skill, but being able to do this task means that you have discipline, the ability to focus on a task and some organizational skills. All of which are assets and will help you with the final group of assets.
4. Your Experiences
No one else has ever had the same set of experiences as you and no one else ever will. Keep that in mind because you bring a lot more to the table than you might expect. Our experiences, successes especially, are huge assets because they impact our judgment and our decisions. When you’re about to do something, you’re often able to predict the result (provided you put the thought into it) based on past experiences. Now some of the parameters of the situation may different which could produce an unexpected result, but you know, for example, that if you put your car in drive and then press the gas pedal, you’ll go forward (unless, of course, that there’s a problem with the car).
I personally like to focus on my big success through the years when I think about my assets: getting a great job in a tough job market, selling to that big client, getting the date of my dreams, etc…. In my public speaking classes, I talk about using small success to create snowball effect with your confidence. You’ve succeeded in the past, you can succeed in the future if you choose to.
So again, spend some time reliving the victories and successes of the past and list them out. Keep this list handy the next time you’re unsure of yourself.
In closing, I hope you’re able to look back at your life and see what you have going for you. It’s more than just thinking positively — you have to focus on what you’ve got going for you and use it to build your momentum.