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Be Lovable Without Turning Into Charlie Brown

Be Lovable Without Turning Into Charlie Brown
    Charlie Brown from Wikipedia

    “I’ve developed a new philosophy…I only dread one day at a time.”

    – Charlie Brown

    As a psychotherapist, the image of Charlie Brown often comes to mind in dealing with my clients. So many people live like “good ol’ Chuck” with persistent rumination about things out of their reach and control, just like he obsesses over the red headed girl. As lovable and cute as he is, Charlie Brown is stuck in a spiral of negativity — no wonder why he is stuck and never changes! He never can seem to get himself out of the world of low self esteem, along with his continual musings on if onlys and what ifs.

    Perhaps the most poignant thing about Charlie Brown is that no matter how many times Lucy pulls the football from him as he is about to kick, he keeps on expecting her to change her ways — and he gets the ball pulled out from him. He doesn’t seem to learn that it is time to shift his strategy and learn from his errors in judgement rather than repeat the same mistakes over and over. Time and time again.

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    We can relate

    I do believe that Charlie Brown has been one of America’s most lovable cartoon characters precisely because at some point in our lives, we all can relate to him. Who hasn’t kept on trusting, even though our friends, family, and even our spouses have proved untrustworthy or disappointed us? Who hasn’t found themselves focusing on the negative rather than the positive, regarding the negative view as where the “real truth” lies? Despite the fact that we can relate to him and enjoy the humorous take on depressive thinking – since we commonly do get pleasure out of poking fun at our foibles — ruminative and negative thinking is really no laughing matter.  It leads to depression, excessive anxiety, and interferes with true growth and healing.

    Some tips to overcome ‘Charliebrownitis’

    If you find yourself identifying too much like Charlie Brown, here are some tips:

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    • If you have low self esteem like Charlie Brown, watch out for the tendency towards depression. Depressed zaps our sense of  power and sense of  personal worthiness.
    • Due to low self esteem, people often find themselves in unhappy interpersonal relationships, and settle for less than they deserve. Relationships end up being more clingy and needy than mature and healthy. 
    • If the red headed girl in our life is not interested, time to move on. Instead of spending too much time wishing for dreams that don’t come true, how about creating new goals and dreams that have a  chance? 
    • If someone treats us disrespectfully over and over again, stop falling for it.   
    • Realistic hope is good, but unrealistic hope is just “wishful thinking” that leads us to be “stuck.”
    • We might be lovable like Charlie Brown, but he doesn’t see how lovable he is and maybe you don’t either!  Time to look inside yourself and identify the things that you like about yourself! How about making a list? 
    • Charlie Brown looks at what’s missing in his life – the “hole” and not the “whole.”  Do you spend more time looking for happiness in all the wrong places outside of yourself rather than finding peace within you?
    • Charlie Brown’s negative thinking is reflected in his blue moods.  He does not realize he has the choice of a more positive attitude!  
    • If you keep on trying to kick the football and someone takes it away from you, shift gears and  try a new game with new players in your life!  Maybe that person is not really on your team even if they say they are.  Parting can be painful, but if your friend does not want the best for you, ask yourself if this really a friend?

    Conclusion

    As you consider Charlie Brown and the rest of the Peanuts gang characters — what character are you most like? How about those that are close to you? There’s the  dependent Linus, the narcissistic Lucy, the depressive Charlie Brown, disorganized and sloppy Pigpen, the precocious Schroeder, the know-it-all, insensitive Patti, the loyal Woodstock,  the imaginative Snoopy, or the optimistic and sweet Sally?

    How about getting an opinion of people who know you best?  If you don’t like the answer, you can work on changing it now Learn from Charlie Brown that you are lovable no matter what, but life will be more fun if you choose to stay positive.

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    More by this author

    Judy Belmont

    Mental health author, motivational speaker and psychotherapist

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    Last Updated on January 21, 2020

    The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

    The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

    Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

    your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

      Why You Need a Vision

      Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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      How to Create Your Life Vision

      Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

      What Do You Want?

      The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

      It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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      Some tips to guide you:

      • Remember to ask why you want certain things
      • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
      • Give yourself permission to dream.
      • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
      • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

      Some questions to start your exploration:

      • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
      • What would you like to have more of in your life?
      • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
      • What are your secret passions and dreams?
      • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
      • What do you want your relationships to be like?
      • What qualities would you like to develop?
      • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
      • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
      • What would you most like to accomplish?
      • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

      It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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      What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

      Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

      A few prompts to get you started:

      • What will you have accomplished already?
      • How will you feel about yourself?
      • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
      • What does your ideal day look like?
      • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
      • What would you be doing?
      • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
      • How are you dressed?
      • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
      • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
      • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

      It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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      Plan Backwards

      It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

      • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
      • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
      • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
      • What important actions would you have had to take?
      • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
      • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
      • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
      • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
      • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

      Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

      It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

      Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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