Inspiration Corner, Personal Growth

When Nothing is Working: How to Transform Your Perspective Simple Mindset Shifts and Actions You Can Take Today

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when nothing is working
Photo by Matthew Henry

Do you feel like you’ve read every self-improvement book out there, applied all the tips, and still, nothing sticks? I’ve been there. Recently I heard an interview with Neale Donald Walsch, author of the Conversations with God series. He describes how a woman approached him with this very issue. As it turns out, the solution is much simpler than we’ve been led to believe.  Here’s what to do when nothing is working and your life is a mess.

Points to Keep in Mind When it Seems Like Your Life is in Shambles

Do you feel like you've read all the self-help book but nothing in your life is working? Discover how to reframe your perspective to find purpose and fulfillment.

1. Know that you’re already complete

We often mistakenly believe that we’re lacking in some way. And once we get our dream career, house, or spouse, then we’ll be complete.

As Neale puts it, the point of life is not to “become MORE than you now are, but to be WHO you are.”

We all have a burning desire within us. The longer it stays dormant, the more we suffer.

This is a key principle in Derek Rydall’s The Abundance Project as well: “If you have a desire to express yourself in a certain way—to cultivate certain talents, gifts, or abilities—but you’re waiting to be good enough or to have the right opportunity, right audience, right timing, or right condition, you are blocking the evolutionary impulse within you.”

For me, I’ve always dreamed of being a writer. However, for years my priority was to make a living — and I was convinced that writing and making a living were not compatible. I kept pushing my dream farther and farther into the future.

Eventually I realized that I had to show up each day as if I had already achieved my goal of being a professional writer. At first it felt strange, like performing before an empty room. But soon, I started to get paid writing gigs. And I did get a job as an English teacher that was more compatible with my passion.

2. Give freely of whatever quality you think you’re lacking

Once we recognize our completeness, the next step, as Neale says, is to realize that “we are not here to acquire anything but to give.”

If you feel you need money, for instance, then give to others who might also be wanting in this department (obviously, though, don’t go overboard). Donate to a charity or tip your Lyft driver extra.

Eventually the universe will reward you. But if you’re stingy, you’ll continue to experience lack because that’s what you’re holding in mind.

This is the basic concept of the law of attraction. But I like Neale’s practical interpretation. It’s hard to visualize having a million dollars if you’ve never had $10,000 in your bank account, but it’s simple to take small actions each day that demonstrate having-ness.

Similarly, if you want companionship, find people who also want this and give it to them. Trust me, loneliness is an epidemic. Plenty of people would love to hear from you.

If you don’t have friends or relatives that you trust, then volunteer at a nursing home or mentor a foster child.

This concept really resonated with me because for years when I was desperately lonely and craved any kind of connection, people could smell my neediness a mile away and would flee in the opposite direction! But if you have something to offer, people will gravitate toward you.

3. Embrace the darkness

feel like nothing is working
Photo by Rémi Jacquaint

There’s a common saying that you can’t see the light without the darkness. This simply means that those moments of grief and frustration help to accentuate the moments of peace and joy.

A relaxing evening with a movie feels so nice after a stressful week at work. Or at the most basic level, a glass of water feels extra refreshing after a tough workout.

This means being grateful for everything that happens to you. Good or bad, each event gives you a chance to express more of yourself.

For instance, although my father is strongly anti-war, he also admits that his time serving in the military helped to shape who he is today.

When I started having seizures, they provided the opportunity to address pent-up issues and also brought me closer to my family.

As Neale says, when you recognize that “anything that goes wrong can be a tool for self-knowledge, this removes anger, disappointment, resentment, and righteousness from your conscience and replaces it with kindness, clarity, and compassion.”

This applies not only to external circumstances or your relationships with others, but also your relationship with yourself. Most of us carry around loads of guilt. Seriously, I still beat myself up for mean things I said to my friends in elementary school.

But what if we viewed these events as a mirror that reveals the kind of person we do NOT want to be, which helps us to better define who we DO want to be? Then we can dissolve the guilt and move on, acting in alignment with our desired traits.

4. Realize you’re not alone

when nothing you do works
Photo by Leio McLaren (@leiomclaren)

In Neale’s words, “Almost any experience can be embraced and tolerated if we imagine we have someone we can share with.”

If you feel like you don’t have anyone, there are countless online communities you can reach out to. Sure, there are lots of trolls and bullies online, but there are also tons of genuinely supportive people, as I’ve found with my writing groups. Plus, most of these communities are quick to boot out trolls.

Also, if you have experienced particularly challenging obstacles, share your story and how you overcame them. Others will take inspiration from this. That’s why we love hearing about how J.K. Rowling rose to Harry Potter fame after being an unemployed single mom on welfare.

But you don’t have to be famous to inspire others. Just knowing that you got swept up by a wave and emerged in one piece is enough to bring solace to others during their darkest hours.

You do not have to take your story public, either. Sharing with even one other person will lift both of you up.

We are social creatures. Even anti-social introverts like me take comfort in community and the presence of others.

The ultimate, though, is arriving at the point where you need nothing and no one on this earth to feel complete.

God/beingness/spirit — whatever you want to call it — is there for you. You can dial in at any time.

But as Neale puts it, “The fastest way to feel the presence of God is to be the source of God’s presence in the life of another.” This means being demanding nothing of others, just as God demands nothing of us.

Of course, relationships operate on reciprocity. If one person is doing all the giving, resentment will build up. But I think what Neale meant is that we shouldn’t depend on others to fill a void or to give us love and approval. Instead, we should be our own source of love and share our love generously with others.

What Now?

In short, when it feels like nothing is working, maybe it’s time to shift your perspective. Maybe you’ve been focusing on the wrong things.

In Neale’s words, “Life isn’t about get the job/kids/house.” It’s about bringing out what’s already in you. It’s about taking off the masks and revealing your true self for the world to see.

The concepts I touched upon are just the beginning. Explore them and learn how to start applying them to your life on a much deeper level with Neale’s Conversations With God series.

Tell me below: When did you feel like nothing was working? How did you resolve this issue?

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20 thoughts on “When Nothing is Working: How to Transform Your Perspective Simple Mindset Shifts and Actions You Can Take Today

  1. Loved this post. The hardest part for me in the Darkness section is juggling being patient to see the light. Sometimes I’m frustrated I feel like I’m doing everything I can to attract something better.. and yet my faith is tested for so long. That’s my current battle.

    1. Yes, Crystal, I know exactly what you mean. That’s how I felt when my seizures wouldn’t stop even though it seemed like I was doing all the “right” things — meditating, homeopathy, hypnotherapy, etc. What I realized now is that everything unfolded the way it was meant to. Maybe my body was trying to tell me something. Or maybe I needed to go through that whole process in order to learn more about health which in turn ignited a desire to help others. It’s impossible for sure to know the reasoning, but I do know that both of those things happened as a result of this trial. I can be very stubborn and want things to unfold a certain way, and one thing I’ve learned is that life rarely works that way and usually what appears on the other side of the darkness is better than you could have anticipated!

  2. ‘Twas wonderful and inspiring to read this, as an English teacher/instructor and one who loves writing. I found myself relating much to the experiences you shared. Reading encouraged me more to keep going after my own aspirations. I agree that it is also important to live life with a heart of giving and sharing. That way; we are able to bless others and let them know and feel that His love is real.

  3. Great tips Kate! Especially the “you’re not alone” part. During these dark times, it feels like you’re facing the world alone, when in fact, people are often willing to help when the personal vulnerability is shown. Thanks for this great read 🙂

    Yours, Ye at ye-chen.com

    1. Thanks, Ye! It’s so true. People always say, “Ask me how I can help,” but I usually don’t, either because I don’t believe they actually will, or because I’m too stubborn/proud and want to do it myself. It’s time I took them up on their offer!

  4. Thanks so much for this inspiring post! I am at this place in life, quitting my job soon with a toxic atmosphere and not sure what life holds right now..but giving value to others..helps you find your way!

    Best

    Valerie

    1. Thank you, Valerie, and glad you found it inspiring! Entering the unknown can be scary for sure, but it is definitely better than staying in a toxic situation. And yes, when you are giving value to others, you can’t go wrong!

  5. It all started before and years after I left my job without concrete plans. I spent my days asking and asking. Then I started reading, meditating, talking to God and then little by little my answers are being answered. There are still days I question things but it has gotten better. I try to fight it continuing what I have started. I must say that your article is very helpful. I woke up today not knowing why and what I am doing again. Your article helped. =)

    1. So glad you found it helpful, Dani! I am glad you are finding guidance from God as well. I do my best to incorporate prayer and meditation into my daily rituals. Now I am just working on the patience to wait for answers and the power of observation to know when I am receiving an answer.

  6. its a great article dear ..
    no matter how positive we are , sometime we all face this situation in life where everything seems to be going the opposite direction..
    This was such a motivation really ..
    Thank you so much for sharing this with us 🙂
    <3

    1. Thank you, Neha! Yes, sometimes it seems like the universe is against you, but if you learn to convert every obstacle into fuel for self-knowledge, you’ll realize that it’s all perfectly designed.

  7. I’ve felt like nothing was working so many times. Those times passed, but I still feel that way at times, but I believe it goes in cycles. I try to focus on what I’m grateful for and work through the negative feelings. I’m glad I’m not the only one who still beats herself up over stuff that happened in elementary school. 🙂 Thanks for writing this post.

    1. Thanks for reading, Darcey, and so glad you found it helpful! You’re absolutely right — it goes in cycles. I’ve started a new journaling exercise where each day I’ll write down things I have, I’m grateful for, and I can do (so for instance, if I’m unhappy about my website traffic, I can take a course or read a book on the subject). This really helps to keep the momentum going!

  8. I really love this! I am working on the power of my words. I want to fit when I am in social settings and I want to have a voice in those moments. Just recently I said something that I really did not mean to say to a group of people I really care about (I feel better just talking about it). Not because I had some unconscious thought of what I said…it really came out wrong. Sometimes I feel discouraged, because the old me would not have said that. The old me would not have said anything. I know that I am evolving and these tips will help me embrace the change.

    1. I’m so happy to hear, Amandela! Yes, that’s the thing about taking risks, right? I totally know where you’re coming from. In high-school I hardly ever spoke to anyone because that seemed like the safest route, and when I started to finally step out of my comfort zone and start speaking to people, sometimes the words would come out the wrong way. But you’re right that it’s important to evolve and speaking out is like a muscle, the more you practice, the better you’ll get at communicating what you mean.

  9. There have been loads of times when I’ve felt like this – I honestly don’t know how I shook it off – it just seemed as if one day those huge issues didn’t matter any more. I suppose you could say it was that change of perspective – but what caused the change of perspective?

    1. Good question, David. I think time has a lot to do with it. Also, perhaps just the fatigue of constantly getting worked up over things. For me, all the things I used to get worked up over, like rejection and jobs and money, suddenly didn’t seem to carry as much weight anymore, and I noticed that even when I did get, for instance, a writing gig I really wanted, the happiness would only last for a minute, which led me to the conclusion that I was prioritizing the wrong things.

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