Answer by Dushka Zapata:
Start with a cleanse.
Throw out the story of your life if you are not a hero in it. Buy a beautiful, brand new notebook. On the very first crisp, clean, blank page, write out your story. Take an objective look. Is it sad? Is it angry? Are you unlucky? Does it blame everyone else? Are you a victim? Do you have a sense of agency or do things seem to happen to you?
On the next page, change something. Own up to something. Be more accountable. Be more powerful. You have a whole notebook to page by page change your portrayal of the story of your life.
As the story in your notebook changes, notice the shifts in your real life.
Stop bad-mouthing you. Does your inner voice criticize you, put you down? Can you really work on something if your enemy is on the inside? If you are talking to yourself in a way that you would never speak to someone else, shut that shit down.
Don't spend any time with people who are not good for you. Is there anyone in your life constantly putting you down? Anyone you feel is toxic? Is anyone draining your energy? Do you have "frenemies" and can't explain why? You are fully responsible for the people you surround yourself with.
Stop comparing yourself to others. When you tell yourself someone has it better than you, you are never even getting the full picture. Focus on the work you have to do on yourself. Inside. Look inside. Inside is where it's at. Not outside.
Don't carry things that weigh you down. Are you feeling bitterness, anger, resentment, a drive for revenge? These things are the same as trying to get through a desert carrying poison instead of water. Throw it out. Let it go. Put it down. Forgive.
Forever give up on getting anything perfect. Instead, take risks. Do a terrible job and watch what happens. (I'll just tell you. Ready? Nothing. Nothing happens.) Every day, be absolutely relentless about learning something new.
Say no to things you don't want to do. This will often be met with disapproval. It might result in you losing some of those frenemies we talked about earlier. But, it will open up more time for you to do the things you need to.
There. Now that you have more time, more energy and a new perspective, here are some things to add to your life.
Nurture the glorious people who love you. Give them two things. Your time, and your full, complete attention.
Come into the fact that you're the boss. Forget about approval, what people will say or the fear of possibly making a mistake. (I'll just tell you. Ready? You will. You will definitely make a mistake.) What do you really want? What do you really want to do? Be your boss. You are your boss. Own up to it.
Make a list of things you are good at. In that same notebook that contains the evolving story of your life, make a list of things you are good at, or a list of things that fill you with pleasure. Do more of those things. They can make you feel competent (I'm a good listener!) or they can make you feel happy (I love walking barefoot in the grass!) Either way, discover, collect, list, repeat.
Make a list of things you find challenging. By "challenging" I don't mean "likely to cause you bodily harm". I mean things that make you uncomfortable that you know you need to do. Walk up and talk to a stranger. Ask someone out. Speak up. Develop opinions. Check off every single thing on your list. Start small. Start big. Either way, feel proud of all the times you did things you thought you couldn't do.
Learn to accept compliments. One of the great ironies of life is that it feels like criticism has a special, VIP pass right into our soul and compliments are not allowed in until they show ID and then upon inspection are asked to leave immediately. Let them in. Say thank you.
Take care of yourself. For me, this means eating better. Working at getting more sleep. Exercising regularly. Making a commitment to getting into shape does wonders for your self-esteem, teaches you about discipline, perseverance, dedication, and facing challenges. So much goodness rolled into a single objective.
Practice being a better person. Be kinder and more considerate. Do what you think is right. Every time I am mean, petty, cruel, dishonest, I suffer more than anyone. Other people get to walk away from me. I can't get away from myself.
Realize you have every kind of resource at your fingertips. If I am feeling blue, irritated, anxious, tired, I get help. I go to a yoga class. I read a book. I talk to someone I love. I find solace in the kindness of strangers. I go for a walk and make it a point to appreciate the color of the sky. I notice things around me that are there to support me if I fall.
I mean, even my seat cushion can be used as a flotation device.