Reality Check: The Pep Talk

Could you use a pep talk? When you look around, does it seem that everyone is in festive spirits but you?
Whether you are having life-changing struggles or just feeling vaguely uneasy, you may have days when it’s hard to pick ourselves up, deliberately put on a smile and face the world with positivity. When we’re in that down state, it could be helpful to hear a “pep talk.”
A pep talk to me isn’t, “Rah-rah! Everything will be ok if you just think positively.” Maybe that’s helpful, but I’m thinking of a different conversation—one that acknowledges reality, but also suggests a positive perspective and actions we can take.
It’s a luxury indeed if you have a personal pep-talker—someone who knows you and your specific circumstances. But we don’t all have that. So here are some points for a general pep talk:
The past year, as with every year, some people have thrived. They’ve married, had children, embarked on new optimistic paths and achieved long-sought goals. Everything has not been bleak.
However, others have had hard times. Unhappy events have visited many households. Illnesses, deaths, relationship conflicts, financial struggles, pessimism and fear of the future; they are all too real.
We all know that reality isn’t like a cheery TV commercial. And the news, with its own perspective, continues to emphasize the tough times that have engulfed our world. What action can we take?
We can focus on what we can control, and recognize that much is simply beyond our control.
Remember the fundamentals. Take care of things we know we need to do. Take care of your body. Eat. Breathe. Move. Do the activities we need to do to stay as healthy and functional as possible. Avoid unnecessary risks but don’t let risk-aversion rule you. Life is never without risk, and what you might perceive as unnecessary risk may be quite different for someone else.
Remember your basic needs, including the need to have connections with people. Structure your life so you have contact with people you enjoy and who enjoy you. Those people may not magically appear, but continuous efforts to reach out and find them do tend to give results.
As we forge ahead into a new year, remember that we have some control over our outlook. We can look to the future with fear or despair or we can look with confidence. We can choose to treat our fellow travellers in life with disdain and resentment, or we can treat them with tolerance and good cheer.
Comparing ourselves with others often results in unhappiness. Remember that we can’t truly know what battles or challenges that other people face, any more than they can know ours. Each one of us has been through difficulties and difficulties will come again. But each one of us also has resilience, love, and the ability to think.
Does a pep talk have any impact other than perhaps a few minutes of “feel-good”? I think it can. If a different perspective can change our outlook so that we see possibilities rather than limitations, empathy rather than resentment, and hope rather than fear, that new outlook can change our actions. And our actions can change our reality.
What would you say in your pep talk?

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