Breaking the cycle of self-defeat

This year I’ve been in survival mode.  While we’ve made some great decisions over the last 8 months in an effort to adapt to the effects of the pandemic, my mental health is still wrestling with all the uncertainty of the future.  The unstable economy, the pandemic, the election, the civil unrest…it’s all led to a very negative and self-destructive mindset.  That mindset has me struggling with making any sort of forward progress in life & business and it’s beginning to take a toll on me.

Back in August a life and business coach reached out to me in need of branding photos for her business.  We ended up working out a trade and last week I began a 3 month coaching program.  I wasn’t really sure what that would entail when I agreed to the trade but I was optimistic that it would help get my mind back on track.  During the first session Julia had me rate the following areas of my life with a 1-10 rating.


After our session Julia e-mailed me some homework. It was a questionnaire that asked, for each category, what it would feel like if that category had a 10 rating.  I have been mulling over this questionnaire for a week now.  I’ve stared at it blankly, been overwhelmed by it and even confused by it.  While trying to answer those questions, I’ve seen nothing but a ton of work.  I see endless to-do’s in each category that need to be done constantly in order for my life to improve.  Then just the idea of all that work overwhelms me and I end up telling myself that achieving a 10 in all categories of my life is impossible.  That perceived impossibility causes me to not want to try at all.  And so I return to my self-destructive cycle.

This week I read a book called The Four Agreements: A practical guide to personal freedom.  Author Don Miguel Ruiz talks about four basic principles that, if we can agree to live by them, will free us from internal suffering.  His notion is that these agreements will release us from our ego’s attachment to being either a Judge or a Victim and we’ll be able to exist in peace, even in difficult times.  The four agreements are:


I hiked for two hours today thinking entirely about the fourth agreement, Do Your Best. 

Am I doing my best in life right now?  No.  Then I asked myself what it would look like if I were doing my best in all of the 10 categories above.  That’s when I started to make sense of it all. 

It’s not about creating a to-do list for each category and achieving a finite goal.  It’s about bringing meaning and intention to each area of my life.  Showing up and doing my best, every single day, is how I elevate my quality of life and in turn increase the rating of all the categories.  Rating each category a 10 would mean I’m doing my very best in that category and if I’m doing my very best the result will be both pride and peace no matter the actual tangible state of that area of my life.  

As I began to visualize what it would look like to give my absolute best to all aspects of my life, I discovered that, for me, it all begins with ENERGY/HEALTH/VITALITY and ends with WEALTH & ABUNDANCE.


I believe this is the root structure of a good life.  So long as I make my health my #1 priority, all other areas of my life will grow because I have the energy and vitality to nurture them.

I’m now working on seeing that exercise and a healthy meal come before all else, every morning.


It’s taken me all week to define this category…to decide what wealth & abundance means to me. This morning it came to me. It’s a state of mind, not the acquisition of money or material belongings.  I believe it to be the result and the reward of nurturing everything else on the list.  

All 10 categories are connected and to experience fulfillment in any category boils down to one simple thing…do your best.

You cannot judge yourself or be affected by the judgment of others if you are doing your best.  And so this is where I shall start, as I begin to break the vicious cycle of self-defeat.

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By Michele


Hi, I'm Michele, a nomadic wedding photographer and lover of the great outdoors. I live on the road full-time and document my adventures daily. This is my personal blog where I share and record my thoughts on living simply and intentionally with less stress and more joy. Check out my wedding and portrait photography at


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