by Christine Comaford
We’ve all felt how draining fear-based emotions can be. Nothing saps our team’s life force more than panic, overreaction, and upset that is unfounded.
Emotions Have Energy
Thanks to David Hawkins, MD, PhD, we have proof that emotions have measurable energy and can either foster or negate actual cell life. Dr. Hawkins’s groundbreaking work, as explained in his book Power vs. Force, shows how a person’s log level, the measurable energy level in his or her magnetic field, increases as that person experiences more positive emotions.
Hawkins’s most interesting finding was that cells actually died when the log level was below 200, where the emotions of scorn, hate, anxiety, shame, regret, despair, blame, and humiliation reside. This evidence provides us with further reason for us to regulate and manage our emotional state, not just for our overall well-being (and that of those around us) but also for our physical health.
Identify The Emotion
To consent to our emotions, we first need to know what they are. But only a select few of us can accurately identify our emotions as they occur. According to Travis Bradberry, author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0:
“Our research shows that only 36 percent of people can do this, which is problematic because unlabeled emotions often go misunderstood, which leads to irrational choices and counterproductive actions.”
Wow. Only 36 percent of people really know how they feel at any given time. The remaining 64 percent do not. We see it in our training sessions and executive coaching sessions all the time. This is why the Emotion Wheel is so helpful.
You can use the Emotion Wheel from the inside out to identify your primary emotions first, and then move outward. Or you can move from the outside in, if your specific emotion seems clear and you want to identify the primary emotion beneath it. Or you can simply pop around as you explore and identify how you feel.
Generally, we’ve found that people experiencing intense emotion will first identify with the main emotions in the inner “pie” slices, while those experiencing less intensity will often identify emotions on the very outer rim.
Either way, when we can name how we feel, we become more present to our current situation. And we must be present before we can shift it. There are, of course, many emotions not on the wheel. Use this tool as a way to “prime the pump,” so you can then identify the emotion you are currently experiencing.
Make A Choice
Here’s a quick exercise to help you experience the energy of both resistance and consent, using the Emotion Wheel. Let’s assume you’re learning something new, and you’re a little bit confused. You now have a choice:
Confusion → resistance and/or rejection → frustration → anger → dismissal → reject learning
Confusion → consent → curiosity → inquiry → open-mindedness and/or new perspective → embrace learning
Which path do you default to?
Which path would you like to default to?
Make sure to keep the Emotion Wheel handy and share it with your team!
Christine is a leadership and culture coach and the author of
She has lived many lives: serial entrepreneur, technology and CEO advisor, venture capitalist, engineer in the early days of Microsoft. Today I help CEOs in rapid growth and turnaround scenarios to achieve previously unheard of results through seeing into their blind spots, aligning their team and board, changing challenging behaviors, increasing team accountability and execution.
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by Edward Benedict
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by HENRIK EDBERG
What is holding people back from the life that they truly want to live?
I’d say that one very common and destructive thing is that they don't know how to stop overthinking.
They overthink every little problem until it becomes bigger and scarier than it actually is. They overthink positive things until they don’t look so positive anymore (and as the anxiety starts to build).
Or over-analyze and deconstruct things and so the happiness that comes from just enjoying something in the moment disappears.
Now, thinking things through can be a great thing of course.
But getting lost in a sort of overthinking disorder can result in becoming someone who stands still in life. In becoming someone who self-sabotages the good things that happen in life.
I know. I used to overthink things a lot and it held me back in ways that weren’t fun at all. But in the past 10 years or so I've learned how to make this issue so small that it very rarely pops up anymore. And if it does then I know what to do to overcome it.
In this article I'd like to share 12 habits that have helped me in a big, big way to become a simpler and smarter thinker and to live a happier and less fearful life.
Bonus: Download a free step-by-step checklist that will show you how to stop overthinking (including 2 bonus steps that are not in this post). It’s easy to save as a PDF or print out for whenever you need it during your day or week.
1. Put things into a wider perspective.
It's very easy to fall into the trap of overthinking minor things in life.
So when you are thinking and thinking about something ask yourself:
Will this matter in 5 years? Or even in 5 weeks?
I've found that widening the perspective by using this simple question can quickly snap me out of overthinking and help me to let go of that situation.
It allows me to finally stop thinking about something and to focus my time and energy on something else that actually does matter to me.
2. Set short time-limits for decisions.
If you do not have a time-limit for when you must make a decision and take action then you can just keep turning your thoughts around and around and view them from all angles in your mind for a very long time.
So learn to become better at making decisions and to spring into action by setting deadlines in your daily life. No matter if it's a small or bigger decision.
Here’s what has worked for me:
3. Stop setting your day up for stress and overthinking.
You can’t totally avoid overwhelming or very stressful days.
But you can minimize the number of them in your month and year by getting a good start to your day and by not setting yourself up for unnecessary stress, overthinking and suffering.
Three things that help me with that are:
Get a good start.
I’ve mentioned this many times by now. And with good reason.
Because how you start your day tends to often set the tone for your day.
A stressed morning leads to stressed day. Consuming negative information as you ride the bus to your job tends to lead to more pessimistic thoughts during the rest of your day.
While for example reading something uplifting over breakfast, getting some exercise and then getting started with your most important task right now sets a good tone for the day and will help you to stay positive.
Single-task and take regular breaks.
This will help you to keep a sharp focus during your day and to get what’s most important done while also allowing you to rest and recharge so you don’t start to run on fumes.
And this somewhat relaxed mindset but with the narrow focus will help you to think clearly and decisively and avoid winding up in a stressed and overthinking headspace.
Minimize your daily input.
Too much information, too many times of just taking a few minutes to check your inbox, Facebook or Twitter account or how your blog or website is doing leads to more input and clutter in your mind as your day progresses.
And so it becomes harder to think in a simple and clear way and easier to lapse back into that familiar overthinking habit.
4. Become a person of action.
When you know how to get started with taking action consistently each day then you’ll procrastinate less by overthinking.
Setting deadlines and a good tone for the day are two things that have helped me to become much more of person of action.
Taking small steps forward and only focusing on getting one small step done at a time is another habit that have worked really well.
It works so well because you do not feel overwhelmed and so you do not want flee into procrastination or lazy inaction.
And even though you may be afraid, taking just a step is such a small thing that you do not get paralyzed in fear.
5. Realize that you cannot control everything.
Trying to think things through 50 times can be a way to try to control everything. To cover every eventuality so you don't risk making a mistake, fail or looking like a fool.
But those things are a part of living a life where you truly stretch your comfort zone.
Everyone who you may admire and have lived a life that inspires you has failed. They have made mistakes.
But in most cases they've also seen these things as valuable feedback to learn from.
Those things that may look negative have taught them a lot and have been invaluable to help them to grow.
So stop trying to control everything. Trying to do so simply doesn’t work because no one can see all possible scenarios in advance.
This is of course easier said than done. So do it in small steps if you like.
6. Say stop in a situation where you know you cannot think straight.
Sometimes when I'm hungry or when I'm lying in bed and are about to go to sleep negative thoughts start buzzing around in my mind.
In the past they could do quite a bit of damage. Nowadays I've become good at catching them quickly and to say to myself:
No, no, we are not going to think about this now.
I know that when I'm hungry or sleepy then my mind sometimes tend to be vulnerable to not thinking clearly and to negativity.
So I follow up my “no, no…” phrase and I say to myself that I will think this situation or issue through when I know that my mind will work much better.
For example, after I've eaten something or in the morning after I have gotten my hours of sleep.
It took a bit of practice to get this to work but I've gotten pretty good at postponing thinking in this way. And I know from experience that when I revisit a situation with some level-headed thinking then in 80% of the cases the issue is very small to nonexistent.
And if there is a real issue then my mind is prepared to deal with it in much better and more constructive way.
7. Don't get lost in vague fears.
Another trap I've fallen into many times that have spurred on overthinking is that I've gotten lost in vague fears about a situation in my life.
And so my mind running wild has created disaster scenarios about what could happen if I do something.
So I've learned to ask myself: honestly, what is the worst that could happen?
And when I've figured out what the worst that could happen actually is then I can also spend a little time to think about what I can do if that often pretty unlikely thing happens.
I've found that the worst that could realistically happen is usually something that is not as scary as what my mind running wild with vague fear could produce.
Finding clarity in this way usually only takes a few minutes and bit of energy and it can save you a lot of time and suffering.
8. Work out.
This might sound a bit odd. But working out can really help with letting go of inner tensions and worries.
It most often makes me feel more decisive and when I was more of an overthinker then it was often my go-to method of changing the headspace I was in to a more constructive one.
9. Get plenty of good quality sleep.
I think this is one of the most commonly neglected factors when it comes to keeping a positive mindset and not get lost in negative thought habits.
Because when you haven’t slept enough then you become more vulnerable.
Vulnerable to worrying and pessimism. To not thinking as clearly as you usually do.
And to getting lost in thoughts going around and around in your mind as you overthink.
So let me share a couple of my favorite tips that help me to sleep better:
Keep it cool.
It can feel nice at first to get into a warm bedroom. But I’ve found that I sleep better and more calmly with fewer scary or negative dreams if I keep the bedroom cool.
Keep the earplugs nearby.
If you, like me, are easily awoken by noises then a pair simple earplugs can be a life-saver.
These inexpensive items have helped me to get a good night’s sleep and sleep through snorers, noisy cats and other disturbances more times than I can remember.
Don’t try to force yourself to go to sleep.
If you don’t feel sleepy then don’t get into bed and try to force yourself to go to sleep.
That, at least in my experience, only leads to tossing and turning in my bed for an hour or more.
A better solution in these situations is to wind down for an extra 20-30 minutes on the couch with, for example, some reading. This helps me to go to sleep faster and, in the end, get more sleep.
10. Spend more of your time in the present moment.
By being in the present moment in your everyday life rather than in the past or a possible future in your mind you can replace more and more of the time you usually spend on overthinking things with just being here right now instead.
Three ways that I often use to reconnect with the present moment are:
Slow down how you do whatever you are doing right now. Move slower, talk slower or ride your bicycle more slowly for example.
By doing so you become more aware of how you use your body and what is happening all around you right now.
Tell yourself: Now I am…
I often tell myself this: Now I am X. And X could be brushing my teeth. Taking a walk in the woods. Or doing the dishes.
This simple reminder helps my mind to stop wandering and brings my focus back to what is happening in this moment.
Disrupt and reconnect.
If you feel you are getting lost in overthinking then disrupt that thought by – in your mind – shouting this to yourself : STOP!
Then reconnect with the present moment by taking just 1-2 minutes to focus fully on what is going on around you. Take it all in with all your senses. Feel it, hear it, smell it, see it and sense it on your skin.
11. Spend more of your time with people who do not overthink things.
Your social environment plays a big part. And not just the people and groups close to you in real life. But also what you read, listen to and watch. The blogs, books, forums, movies, podcasts and music in your life.
So think about if there are any sources in your life – close by or further away – that encourages and tends create more overthinking in your mind. And think about what people or sources that has the opposite effect on you.
Find ways to spend more of your time and attention with the people and input that have a positive effect on your thinking and less on the influences that tends to strengthen your overthinking habit.
12. Be aware of the issue (and remind yourself throughout your day)
Being aware of your challenge is important to break the habit of overthinking.
But if you’re thinking that you’ll just remember to stop overthinking during your normal day then you’re likely just fooling yourself.
At least if you’re anything like me. Because I needed help. It wasn’t hard to get it though. I just created a few reminders.
My main one was a note on the whiteboard I had on one of my walls at the time. It said “Keep things extremely simple”.
Seeing this many times during my day helped me to snap out of overthinking faster and to over time greatly minimize this negative habit.
Two other kinds of reminders that you can use are:
enrik lives in Sweden. He is a full-time blogger and business owner with a major in journalism from the University of Gothenburg. His work has been featured on websites such as Lifehacker, Tiny Buddha, Paulo Coelho's blog, Lifehack and the Huffington Post. To learn more about his online self-esteem courses, click HERE.
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by Alexander Parker
by Amy Morin
Your private inner dialogue can either be a powerful stepping stone or a major obstacle to reaching your goals. If you constantly make negative predictions like, "I'm going to mess up," or you call yourself names, your self-talk will rob you of mental strength.
Your thoughts affect how you feel and how you behave. The way you think has the power to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Thinking, "I'll never get this job," may cause you to feel discouraged as you walk into an interview. Consequently, you may slump your shoulders, stare at the floor, make a poor first impression—and inadvertently sabotage your chances of success.
If you have a harsh inner critic, you're not alone: Self-doubt, catastrophic predictions, and harsh words are common. But you don't have to be a victim of your own verbal abuse.
From among the many exercises that we use in therapy to help people change the way they think, here are seven ways to tame your inner critic:
1. Pay attention to your thoughts
You're so used to hearing your own narration that it's easy to become oblivious to the messages you're sending yourself. Start paying close attention to your thoughts and you may discover that you call yourself names or talk yourself out of doing things that are hard.
It's estimated that you have around 60,000 thoughts per day. That's 60,000 chances to either build yourself up or tear yourself down. Learning to recognize your thought patterns is key to understanding how your thinking affects your life.
2. Change the channel
While problem-solving is helpful, ruminating is destructive. When you keep replaying a mistake you made in your head over and over again or you can't stop thinking about something bad that happened, you'll drag yourself down.
The best way to change the channel is by getting active. Find an activity that will temporarily distract you from the negative tapes playing in your head. Go for a walk, call a friend to talk about a different subject, or tackle a project you've been putting off. But refuse to sit and listen to your brain beat you up.
3. Examine the evidence
Your thoughts aren't always true. In fact, they're often exaggeratedly negative. It's important to examine the evidence before you believe your thoughts.
If you think, "I'm going to embarrass myself when I give that presentation," pause for a minute. Take out a piece of paper and write down all the evidence that indicates you're going to fail. Then, list all the evidence that you aren't going to fail. Looking at the evidence on both sides can help you look at the situation a little more rationally and less emotionally. Reminding yourself that your thoughts aren't 100 percent true can give you a boost in confidence.
4. Replace exaggeratedly negative thoughts with realistic statements
When you recognize that your negative thoughts aren't completely true, try replacing those statements with something more realistic. If you think, "I'll never get a promotion," a good replacement statement might be, "If I work hard and I keep investing in myself, I may get promoted someday."
You don't need to develop unrealistically positive statements; overconfidence can be almost as damaging as serious self-doubt. But a balanced, realistic outlook is key to becoming mentally stronger.
5. Consider how bad it would be if your thoughts were true
It's tempting to envision a misstep turning into an utter catastrophe, but often the worst-case scenario isn't as bad as we fear. If you predict you're going to get rejected for a job, ask yourself how bad would that actually be? Rejection stings but it's not the end of the world. Reminding yourself that you can handle tough times increases your confidence. It can also decrease much of the dread and worrisome thoughts that can stand in your way.
6. Ask yourself what advice you'd give to a friend
It's often easier to be more compassionate toward other people than to yourself. For example, while you might call yourself an idiot for making a mistake, it's unlikely you'd say that to a loved one. When you're struggling with tough times or doubting your ability to succeed, ask yourself, "What would I say to a friend who had this problem?" Then, offer yourself those kind, wise words.
7. Balance self-improvement with self-acceptance
There's a difference between telling yourself that you're not good enough and reminding yourself that there's room for improvement. Accept your flaws for what they are right now while committing to improvement in the future. Although it sounds a bit counter-intuitive, you can do both simultaneously: You might accept that you feel anxious about an upcoming presentation at work while also making a decision to improve your public speaking skills. Accept yourself for who you are right now while investing in becoming an even better version of yourself down the road.
Train Your Brain to Think Differently
Your mind can be your best asset or worst enemy. It's important to train it well. The good news is that mental strength exercises will help you silence the toxic self-criticism for good. With practice, you can develop a more productive inner dialogue that will fuel your efforts to reach your goals.
Amy, is a licensed clinical social worker, psychotherapist, and the author of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do
Watch my TEDx Talk - The Secret to Becoming Mentally Strong
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by Russ Harris
by Omid Safi
I saw a dear friend a few days ago. I stopped by to ask her how she was doing, how her family was. She looked up, voice lowered, and just whimpered: “I’m so busy… I am so busy… have so much going on.” Almost immediately after, I ran into another friend and asked him how he was. Again, same tone, same response: “I’m just so busy… got so much to do.”
The tone was exacerbated, tired, even overwhelmed.
And it’s not just adults. When we moved to North Carolina about ten years ago, we were thrilled to be moving to a city with a great school system. We found a diverse neighborhood, filled with families. Everything felt good, felt right.
After we settled in, we went to one of the friendly neighbors, asking if their daughter and our daughter could get together and play. The mother, a really lovely person, reached for her phone and pulled out the calendar function. She scrolled… and scrolled… and scrolled. She finally said: “She has a 45-minute opening two and half weeks from now. The rest of the time it’s gymnastics, piano, and voice lessons. She’s just…. so busy.”
Horribly destructive habits start early, really early.
How did we end up living like this? Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we do this to our children? When did we forget that we are human beings, not human doings?
Whatever happened to a world in which kids get muddy, get dirty, get messy, and heavens, get bored? Do we have to love our children so much that we overschedule them, making them stressed and busy — just like us?
What happened to a world in which we can sit with the people we love so much and have slow conversations about the state of our heart and soul, conversations that slowly unfold, conversations with pregnant pauses and silences that we are in no rush to fill?
How did we create a world in which we have more and more and more to do with less time for leisure, less time for reflection, less time for community, less time to just… be?
Somewhere we read, “The unexamined life is not worth living… for a human.” How are we supposed to live, to examine, to be, to become, to be fully human when we are so busy?
This disease of being “busy” (and let’s call it what it is, the dis-ease of being busy, when we are never at ease) is spiritually destructive to our health and wellbeing. It saps our ability to be fully present with those we love the most in our families, and keeps us from forming the kind of community that we all so desperately crave.
Since the 1950s, we have had so many new technological innovations that we thought (or were promised) would make our lives easier, faster, simpler. Yet, we have no more “free” or leisurely time today than we did decades ago.
For some of us, the “privileged” ones, the lines between work and home have become blurred. We are on our devices. All. The. Freaking. Time. Smart phones and laptops mean that there is no division between the office and home. When the kids are in bed, we are back online.
One of my own daily struggles is the avalanche of email. I often refer to it as my jihad against email. I am constantly buried under hundreds and hundreds of emails, and I have absolutely no idea how to make it stop. I’ve tried different techniques: only responding in the evenings, not responding over weekends, asking people to schedule more face-to-face time. They keep on coming, in volumes that are unfathomable: personal emails, business emails, hybrid emails. And people expect a response — right now. I, too, it turns out… am so busy.
The reality looks very different for others. For many, working two jobs in low-paying sectors is the only way to keep the family afloat. Twenty percent of our children are living in poverty, and too many of our parents are working minimum wage jobs just to put a roof over their head and something resembling food on the table. We are so busy.
The old models, including that of a nuclear family with one parent working outside the home (if it ever existed), have passed away for most of us. We now have a majority of families being single families, or where both parents are working outside the home. It is not working.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
In many Muslim cultures, when you want to ask them how they’re doing, you ask: in Arabic, Kayf haal-ik? or, in Persian, Haal-e shomaa chetoreh? How is your haal?
What is this haal that you inquire about? It is the transient state of one’s heart. In reality, we ask, “How is your heart doing at this very moment, at this breath?” When I ask, “How are you?” that is really what I want to know.
I am not asking how many items are on your to-do list, nor asking how many items are in your inbox. I want to know how your heart is doing, at this very moment. Tell me. Tell me your heart is joyous, tell me your heart is aching, tell me your heart is sad, tell me your heart craves a human touch. Examine your own heart, explore your soul, and then tell me something about your heart and your soul.
Tell me you remember you are still a human being, not just a human doing. Tell me you’re more than just a machine, checking off items from your to-do list. Have that conversation, that glance, that touch. Be a healing conversation, one filled with grace and presence.
Put your hand on my arm, look me in the eye, and connect with me for one second. Tell me something about your heart, and awaken my heart. Help me remember that I too am a full and complete human being, a human being who also craves a human touch.
I teach at a university where many students pride themselves on the “study hard, party hard” lifestyle. This might be a reflection of many of our lifestyles and our busy-ness — that even our means of relaxation is itself a reflection of that same world of overstimulation. Our relaxation often takes the form of action-filled (yet mindless) films, or violent and fast-paced sports.
I don’t have any magical solutions. All I know is that we are losing the ability to live a truly human life.
We need a different relationship to work, to technology. We know what we want: a meaningful life, a sense of community, a balanced existence. It’s not just about “leaning in” or faster iPhones. We want to be truly human.
W. B. Yeats once wrote:
“It takes more courage to examine the dark corners of your own soul than it does for a soldier to fight on a battlefield.”
How exactly are we supposed to examine the dark corners of our soul when we are so busy? How are we supposed to live the examined life?
I am always a prisoner of hope, but I wonder if we are willing to have the structural conversation necessary about how to do that, how to live like that. Somehow we need a different model of organizing our lives, our societies, our families, our communities.
I want my kids to be dirty, messy, even bored — learning to become human. I want us to have a kind of existence where we can pause, look each other in the eye, touch one another, and inquire together: Here is how my heart is doing? I am taking the time to reflect on my own existence; I am in touch enough with my own heart and soul to know how I fare, and I know how to express the state of my heart.
How is the state of your heart today?
Let us insist on a type of human-to-human connection where when one of us responds by saying, “I am just so busy,” we can follow up by saying, “I know, love. We all are. But I want to know how your heart is doing.”
About The Author
Omid Safi is among the most frequently sought out speakers on Islam in popular media, appearing in The New York Times, Newsweek, Washington Post, PBS, NPR, NBC, CNN, and other international media.
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by Martin Meadows
by Jen Picicci
“When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary.” ~Fred Rogers
I was immediately uncomfortable when the older gentleman rode up on his bike and loudly told us that our kids shouldn’t be riding their bikes on the velodrome; it was against the rules.
If it had been just me and my daughter, I would have said no problem and left the area, maybe even apologized. But I wasn’t alone, I was with my friend and her son, and my friend doesn’t back down from confrontation like I do.
Instead of saying okay to him, she pressed him to explain himself. Where was the sign that said the kids couldn’t be riding their bikes (as this man was)? What was the issue?
As I stood by uncomfortably, the two of them hashed things out. She turned to her son, age five, and told him that if he continued to ride on the tilted area of the track, this man might accidentally run into him, and asked if he understood that. Her son nodded his head.
Suddenly, in the midst of the conversation, the man softened. He said he was just worried about hurting the kids, he wasn’t really mad, and soon he started coming up with suggestions for how the kids could stay safe. He said he’d call out before he got to where they were on the track, and then pointed out a blue line where, were they to stay below it, they would be safe, as he’d ride above it.
The kids repeated the options, and my friend thanked the man for working with us to come up with a solution, then rode off. Each time he came around the track (he was much faster than our kids!), he’d yell out, and my friend’s son would get out of the way.
My daughter chose to stay low, below the blue line, so she wasn’t in his way.
This interaction may seem like nothing to you, but to me it was a big deal. Confrontation had been a very scary thing for me, something I avoided at all costs. The idea that my friend could not only stand up to confrontation, but elicit such a warm response from the person whom she was confronting left a huge impression on me.
At that moment, I decided it was time for me to stop avoiding conflict. Lucky for me, I was almost immediately presented with many opportunities to prove to myself I could do it.
First, I found out that a neighbor had an in ground pool with no fence around it. This made me feel uneasy (you know, because I have a five-year-old), and I felt like I at least needed to talk to him about it.
You would be astonished at how nerve-wracking this was for me, but I knew I wanted to start talking to people, even when I was scared.
The same day I decided I needed to speak to him, I got my chance. I was driving down the street, and there he was, walking. I pulled over and rolled down my window.
I expressed that I hadn’t realized until the day before that his pool didn’t have a fence, and asked him if he’d ever considered putting a fence up.
He said no, he’d had the pool built long before there were any regulations. I told him my daughter couldn’t swim yet and it made me nervous he didn’t have a fence. He acknowledged my concerns (though he wasn’t interested in building a fence), and then we parted ways.
I made some calls to the local building and zoning departments, but apparently in the town where I live there aren’t any ordinances that would force my neighbor to build a fence, as he had hinted.
The outcome of this encounter may not have been ideal, but I had to consider this a win. At least I’d spoken up and expressed my concerns, which I wouldn’t have done in the past.
My next opportunity to express myself was at a kid’s birthday party, which was being held at a community pool. (Who knew pools caused so many confrontations!)
A friend and I were talking, but someone kept squirting us with water. After a while we realized it was coming from an adult, which was a surprise, and we moved away from the area. Shortly thereafter, though, the squirting continued, this time hitting not only us, but the friends we’d moved closer to. It seemed clear at this point that we were being targeted on purpose.
This would have been the perfect opportunity to confront the perpetrator, but my friend beat me to it, getting up out of her seat and marching over to the offender.
It did not go well. I won’t get into the details, but she was called an offensive slur and a lifeguard ended up getting involved.
It was during this incident that I was reminded why confrontation is so scary for me—what if someone gets mad at me?? However, I also saw that saying nothing meant being treated in a way that made me and everyone around me upset and uncomfortable, and no one should sit in silence in that sort of situation, even if it’s as minor as getting splashed at a pool.
My third opportunity for confrontation came in my marriage, and I’m happy to say this one turned out very well, much better than the previous two encounters.
My husband and I had been agitated, both in general and at each other, for a few days. One Friday morning we started talking about things and both ended up even more irritated, and our conversation ended with him making a comment about how I should (or rather, should not,) spend my money.
Later in the morning, once we’d both had time to process things and my husband was at work, I called him.
I told him all the ways I felt and all the ways I thought things were being mishandled in our relationship. By the end of the talk he was the one being proactive, suggesting that we needed to start carving out a block of reconnection time right after our daughter went to bed each night. He also apologized for his comment about the money.
Confronting him about our disagreement and actually bringing into the light the things that were bothering me has made an enormous difference in our relationship. Since then I’ve felt confident in expressing how I feel at the moment I feel it, and he’s been incredibly receptive. I’m also more receptive to hearing feedback from him.
I’ve had one other opportunity for confrontation since that day at the park, and this time it was regarding my daughter. And speaking up made me cry, but I’m glad I did it anyway.
I had to take her to the dentist, something neither of us enjoys very much. I’m not a huge fan of this particular dentists’ office, but there aren’t many pediatric choices in my area.
Admittedly, I was already not in a great headspace when we arrived at the appointment. We were taken to the back, and my daughter was asked to get up into the chair.
The hygienist immediately started talking about how my daughter was going to have pictures taken (X-Rays), and then quickly started working on her teeth.
My daughter starting crying at that point—she cries every time we go to the dentist. Have I mentioned she’s five?
And then the hygienist started saying, over and over, “You don’t have to cry, stop crying, you don’t need to cry, don’t cry.” I came over and held my daughter’s hand and rubbed her leg, but the hygienist kept working and kept telling my daughter not to cry.
This was really making my blood boil. If there’s one parenting tenant my husband and I stand by, it’s to let our child express and feel her feelings.
This, coupled with the hygienist’s continued insistence that my daughter needed x-rays, but without discussing it with me first, pushed me over the edge.
I started asking many, many questions about the necessity of the x-rays. As she answered with vague, boilerplate responses, I continued to feel frustrated, and realized I needed to tell her the thing that was really bothering me: Stop telling my daughter not to cry.
She got defensive, and now it was my turn to start crying. I’m still new at this confrontation thing, and upsetting people, even when I disagree with them, makes me feel upset.
I pressed forward, though, and told her that in our house, my daughter was allowed to express her emotions, even uncomfortable ones. I also told her I wanted to speak to the dentist about the x-rays and make my own choice about them.
Later in the appointment, once I’d spoken to the dentist, my daughter was back in the chair getting the final treatment from the hygienist. She started to tear up again, and this time when the hygienist started to tell her not cry, she stopped herself. I considered that a win.
Confrontation is really, really hard. For me, at least.
I think it’s worth it, though. In just the month or two since I was inspired to start facing conflicts head on, I’ve improved my relationship with my husband and proven to myself that I’m willing to stand up for my child, which makes me feel like I’m being the mom I want to be.
I think in order to start confronting others, you need a bit of bravery and a bit of a plan.
You have to decide that you’re actually willing to talk to others, even if it’s going to be uncomfortable. Instead of making up random excuses in your head, you have to silence those fears and just go for it, no matter how worried you are about the outcome.
My experience has shown me that it’s best to have a conversation when you’re calm, although that’s not always possible. When it is possible, though, I think being calm allows you to have perspective on the issues you really care about and have a clear vision of what you’re hoping to get out of the confrontation.
In fact, I think that might be one of the most important factors to consider if you decide to take this on: What are you trying to achieve? Confrontation just for the sake of confrontation is pointless; you must have a reason to speak up.
Do you want your boss to give you a raise? Do you want your sister to treat you like an adult? Do you want your child to move out of the house? Do you want your friend to start paying more attention to you than her phone? Figure it out ahead of time if at all possible.
Once you’ve got a goal, you can decide what points you’d like to cover. This is, once again, assuming you’re able to pre-plan the confrontation.
But what if you’re not? What if it sneaks up on you?
Well, I think you have to do what I did at the dentist. You have to speak your truth in that moment, even if you cry. Yelling is acceptable, too, of course, though that may make it harder for the person to whom you are speaking to really take in what you’re saying.
Remembering what you hope to get out of this is the most important thing, though. What’s your goal?
Ultimately, confrontation will probably improve your life.
Sometimes, though, you might lose a relationship. Your partner may not want you to stand up for yourself. Your coworker may not want you to take on more work and receive more credit. Your parents might not like that you’re leaving your high paying job for something that feels more satisfying to you.
You’re not doing this for other people, though; you’re doing it for yourself. To prove that you know what you want and are not afraid to talk to other people about it. You’re not afraid to show the world what you really think and feel. You’re not willing to be treated poorly.
In the end, anything that allows you to express what’s inside you is worth it. Even if you can’t get that fence built.
About Jen Picicci
Jen Picicci is an artist, writer, and teacher living in the mountains of Western North Carolina. She’s currently obsessed with creating whimsical watercolor landscapes and teaching women how to hear their own inner wisdom. To see her art, follow her on social media, or take her self-study Inner Guidance 101 class, visit www.JenPicicci.com.
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by Mark Manson
by Abigail Brenner M.D.
Learning how to hold your space and keep your power.
As social beings, we define who we are, in part, by and through the relationships we have. Most of us interact with an assortment of people every day, from our most intimate relationships to strangers on the street. Obviously, how involved we are with certain individuals will color the level and intensity of our interactions with them.
There are people with whom we get along quite well and those who may be harder to connect and communicate with, or who may give us an emotional run for our money. While some people have a tendency to take things personally a lot of the time, with almost anyone, the focus here is on relationships where a significant attachment has been formed.
We are often dependent upon others for our happiness, our security (emotionally, financially, and other ways), and sometimes, our safety. We often look to others to fill our needs. When these others are supportive, encouraging, caring, and giving, we may feel fairly satisfied in our life. But when those we are attached to are judgmental and critical, or even aggressive and abusive toward us, we may find ourselves in conflict, caught between the need to have these people in our life for whatever reason and satisfying our own needs. Sometimes, we make a “bargain with the devil” and end up giving a lot of ourselves away in order to placate a significant other, to make them happy, to keep the peace, to make them stay in our lives (because we think we need them).
Taking things personally is often a byproduct of this bargain. When we take things personally we are giving certain individuals more power over us than they deserve or should ever be allowed to have. In effect, you are allowing someone to question what you feel and believe. You are trusting someone else to tell you who you are, instead of relying on what you know to be true about yourself; what really defines you as a person without any outside influence. In essence, taking things personally keeps you tied to someone else and, in the extreme, can even make you feel like a victim.
Instead of just reacting when someone pushes your buttons, these are some things to consider when you find yourself caught up in an interaction/confrontation in which you feel your personal integrity is being challenged.
Focus on what this relationship really means to you. How heavily invested are you in this individual? Do you always need to be agreeable, to make no waves, to go along in order to please this person and keep the peace? Do you perceive that there may be a high price to pay if you disagree or challenge them? Do you really need this person’s approval? Is all the trouble keeping them happy, as they challenge you, really worth the effort?
Change the focus of the interaction by putting yourself in this person’s shoes. Try to understand what the other person is feeling/thinking/trying to convey. Is this the way they interact with many people? Is it their usual way to be critical, insult, blame, or shame? Maybe that person hasn’t mastered how to communicate in a healthy way. Perhaps they lack certain social skills and feel the only way they will be heard and paid attention to is by being rude or aggressive in their language, or by bullying to get their way. Perhaps they have issues with relationships in general, with boundaries, with seeing things as either all good or bad, right or wrong.
Don’t jump to conclusions too quickly when you are being confronted. Don’t make assumptions about judgment or criticism seemingly directed at you. Maybe it’s not about you at all, but about them and their own projected perceptions. In fact, it’s almost always about them, their issues, their needs, and their desire to control you and/or a situation.
A corollary to this is to know what makes you feel vulnerable. When you are aware of your sensitive spots, the things that trigger your emotions and reactions, you can prepare yourself if an interaction arises that attempts to draw you in.
Create a space between yourself and your reactions. Your initial response might be to react emotionally. If possible, don’t follow that knee-jerk reaction. Take the time to rein in your emotions and assess what’s really happening before you respond. In general, it’s a good idea to create a healthy personal space around yourself. (A good visual is to imagine yourself in the middle of a meadow with a white picket fence surrounding it. That’s your space. No one is permitted within it unless you allow them to enter.) When you create a space/buffer between yourself and another person, personal boundaries have less chance of being crossed and/or blurred.
When you are ready, respond in order to gain clarification. Hopefully, your emotions will take a back seat while you ask this individual to fully explain what’s on their mind and what they want from you. Listen carefully so you can discern what makes sense and what doesn’t based on their fantasy or need to have you behave in a certain way. Tell them how what they’re saying/doing makes you feel. In some instances, they may not realize how aggressive, rude, insulting, bullying, and insensitive they are being, or that their words are hurtful and that what they’re asking of you is unreasonable. Explain that if the goal of the interaction/confrontation is meant to be conciliatory they’re going about it in the wrong way. Perhaps give them a way out by suggesting an alternative solution.
If it becomes clear that this person can’t respect you and your space and insists on creating a situation over and over again that’s meant to make you uncomfortable or feel badly about yourself, or to personally attack you, devalue and belittle you, and constantly attempt to bait you, you need to rethink the relationship. If it’s a family member, it may be hard to divorce yourself from them but you can limit your time and the nature of your relationship. If it’s someone else, break off all ties for your own sake.
Finally, learn to rely on yourself. Of course, relationships will always play a prominent role in your life.
But the more you know about yourself, the less you will need others to tell you about yourself. When you develop a life orientation based primarily on your own personal resources, rather than external influences, your dependency on outside forces is diminished.
Abigail Brenner, M.D., is a psychiatrist in private practice. She is the author of Transitions: How Women Embrace Change and Celebrate Life and other books.
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by Mark Manson
by Heather Picard
“You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes a day, unless you are too busy, then you should sit for an hour.” ~Ancient Zen proverb
I used to think that life was about powering through things. I’d grab a latte, write my to-do list, and proudly cram as many things as possible into my day.
At work, there was staff, payroll, invoices, customers, marketing, and the occasional cleaning of an office bathroom. At home, there was parenting, dinner, cleaning, homework, bedtime, laundry, and plans for the next day. When my eyes could no longer remain open, I’d fall into a restless night’s sleep accompanied by a busy mind and grinding teeth.
I figured I had no choice. I had two kids, a husband, a landscape business, a school that wanted parent participation, a co-housing community with obligations, and an overachiever complex.
There was plenty on my plate just being a mother of two with a family business. But what made matters worse was me going above and beyond. I was president of the school foundation, head chef for community meals, point person for committees, and in my free time, (when was that exactly?) an aspiring athlete training for triathlons. I wanted to be the woman who could do it all, and do it well.
Being busy made me feel important. The more I juggled, the more praise and attention I got from others, fueling my sense of purpose. It fed my ego and gave me the adrenaline to keep going.
Without being busy I thought my life would look insignificant. I might disappear like a beige house in a sea of endless tract homes, bland and provincial. So I filled every second of every day with a sense of purpose and a mission that never left room for rest. When no one needed me, I scrambled for something or someone to engage with. I’d repaint a bedroom or rework our website to keep from being unproductive.
My busy-ness became an addiction. Another project complete, another shot of adrenaline. I felt good and sh*t was getting done!
But similar to a person with anorexia who starves herself to the point of hospitalization, I was so focused on getting results that I didn’t realize the toll it was taking on me.
I told my concerned parents I was fine, and that it all needed to happen. I rationalized that I had to do it all for the sake of my family. But underneath it, I was wearing out. My back hurt, my jaw ached, and according to my Ayurvedic practitioner, I’d worn down my adrenal glands, which would eventually lead to other health problems.
When my mother died, my father took up Vipassana meditation at a Buddhist retreat center in Northern California. For Christmas, he paid for me to attend a three-day silent meditation retreat. I was touched by his gift, but nervous.
The thought of sitting still for three days scared me. How would I exercise? What if I had to go to the bathroom during a meditation? What if I couldn’t do it?
The first two days were the hardest. I did everything in my power to summon my patience, but sometimes I let my mind wander on purpose, counted the minutes until the bell rang, and allowed myself to take walks instead of “walking meditations.” I did what any person new to meditation might do: I bent the instructions to fit what I thought were my needs.
But by the third day, something profound happened. I surrendered to the moment, and the stillness felt good. A calm washed over me like the warmth of a bath. What once felt tense relaxed, and I experienced a deep sense of peace. In the absence of doing, I felt like I was coming home.
That New Year’s Eve I made a resolution to meditate every day for one year. Though I knew it was one more thing to add to my to-do list, it felt important. There would be no schedule, no method, no particular length of time, and no particular place. It was just me, sitting in observation of my breath, every day. It needed to be on my terms and without judgment or pressure, or it wouldn’t work.
I noticed my life began to calm down that year. My back pain eased a bit and I craved more quiet. I was quick to notice my feelings and follow my intuition, and my urgency about things getting done was beginning to diminish. By the end of the year, I had only missed six days of meditating. What was once a good idea had become a part of my daily routine.
It’s been over six years since that retreat, and the results of my almost-daily meditation practice have been noticeable, but my proclivity toward being over-productive remains.
Like a recovering alcoholic, I have to talk myself out of falling back into its socially acceptable, compelling grip. My smartphone taunts me like a flask I carry in my purse, begging me to engage with more causes, more conversations, and more people. It never goes away; I just have to keep on top of it.
But unlike alcoholism, being addicted to busy-ness is not a disease; it can be a simple choice. I know that if I choose to indulge myself by packing my schedule, kicking back too much coffee, and going full throttle, I will feel depleted after the race. I know that if I choose to over commit myself, I’m actually looking for praise.
So, instead of getting down on myself, I now close my eyes and focus on my breath. Though I feel impatient and annoyed at first, eventually the familiar warm water soothes my active mind and I am reminded that there is no need to panic, no need to rush. I just need to be still and present, the place where my feelings of insecurity are replaced with feelings of deep connection and gratitude.
It is there that I can relax and just be.
Heather Picard is an award-winning speaker and facilitator. She is a graduate of Columbia University and the Entrepreneurial Leadership Academy. Heather helps women break through their limiting beliefs and step into the fullness of their lives to make the difference they’re here to make.
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by Mark Williams and Danny Penman
by Adam Bergen
“It is better to look ahead and prepare than to look back and regret.”
We as humans have an incredible ability to help each other in times of need. When things get rough and life gets hard, we tend to come together, step up to the challenge, and provide assistance. Our selflessness shows, and it’s amazing to see everyone work in harmony.
Need proof? Just look at any natural or man-made disaster in this world, and you’ll see it. We are a species that shows calculated compassion, unlike any other living creature on Earth.
But as much as we come to help one another, we rarely extend that same compassion toward ourselves. This is especially true when crisis hits us internally; we find it nearly impossible to show ourselves compassion.
Why is that? Why do we have such a hard time with it? It’s a hard question to answer, but I believe it stems from one simple thing: We have really high expectations for ourselves, and it’s almost impossible to live up to them.
When someone looks at us from the outside, they can only judge us on our actions. But from our own internal perspective, we judge ourselves based on our thoughts.
There’s no better example of this than when you fail to take action on something you’ve been wanting to do for a long time. You let fear, uncertainty, comfort, and excuses talk you out of doing it. And looking back, it eats you up inside.
And naturally, you get upset. I can already see the internal dialogue: “How could you let that happen? You idiot! Why didn’t you do it? Ugh, come on.”
Then, and without fail, something else happens: Regret creeps in. This is the moment you start asking yourself hypothetical questions. “What if I had done that? Where would I be right now? What would my life look like?” I know what this is like because I’ve been there. And to this day, it can still be a struggle for me.
I question my abilities at times, and my lack of action. At its worst, it feels like my life has been defined by my inability to take action. Almost like a chain reaction of missed opportunities, one after the other. As a result, I’ve wasted a lot of energy regretting a lot of things.
It’s not any kind of breaking news that time flies. We know this. There’s even a popular quote that conveys this sentiment: “The days are long but the years are short.”
Yet we don’t really understand just how true it is, until the time’s gone. In fact, as I sit here right now, it’s crazy to think just how fast the last decade has flown by. Yes, even when most days seemed really long. Funny how that works. I’m sure you can agree with me here.
So there you sit, thinking about the eighty-five things you regret not taking action on over the last twenty years of your life. Maybe it goes back even further. Maybe, if you’re lucky, you only regret some things you didn’t try in the last few years.
Either way, you let the regret stew like a pot of beef that’s been slowly simmering in a Michelin star-rated chef’s kitchen. That’s the best way I can describe my regrets. Hey, if anyone needs a great recipe for regret, let me know: I’ve become a master in letting it stew in the crockpot for months, even years. You’re probably with me on that one.
But here’s the problem: We only have so much energy every day to put toward our growth. In other words, it’s a finite amount. Every morning, we start with a defined energy level. A lot of it has to go toward running our daily lives; things like work, family, and daily responsibilities drain us of a large amount from our tank.
After all of what daily life has to take, you’ve got just a bit of energy left. Unfortunately, some of the leftovers have to go toward unexpected things in life on occasion. Things like minor crises, a change of plans, a mild argument with someone, you name it. So now, you’ve got even less left in your tank. This is the crucial area where it can go one of two ways:
As I round into my mid thirties, I can tell you a number of occasions where I put myself in hot water with regret. I’ve said things I shouldn’t have. I’ve taken steps that, looking back, were obviously not good ones (but helped my growth). I’ve been in the wrong relationships, wasting time (but gaining invaluable insight into who I am).
I’ve also regretted not making some things a reality. One of the biggest regrets was not moving to a different state when things were easier. What do I mean by “easier”? Well, I had my entire family residing in the same city I was in, including my parents. I had a good job, but one I could easily take elsewhere. I had a bunch of friends, but I had no big responsibilities tying me down.
The problem? I was also scared, so I talked myself out of it. I was happy to be close to family, friends, and continue at my job. Time went on, and as much as I still thought about it, I didn’t make any big moves.
Then, my dad passed away, leaving my mom, his partner of over fifty years, alone. And just like that, I suddenly became the only man around. I took on a bunch of responsibilities to help where I could, including being a rock for my mother. Am I glad I was able to provide that assistance? Of course. With absolutely no regrets.
But did I regret not getting a chance to explore and live in a different city, years prior to him passing? You bet. But anytime it creeps up, I realize one important thing: the best time was twenty years ago, the next best time is now.
It’s never too late to try something you’ve always wanted to. Let me take it one step further, too: There’s never a perfect time for it, either. I foolishly tried to have 356 puzzle pieces all fitting together before I made any kind of step. Unfortunately, this is pretty normal. We as humans want to make sure things are lined up perfectly before we make any kind of bigger move.
But I’m here to tell you it’ll never line up quite like how you want it. If things are in pretty good order in your life, take the action you’ve always wanted.
More importantly, stop wasting your time regretting your past. Maybe you haven’t (yet) done something you’ve always wanted to do. Maybe you have done something you wanted, but it didn’t work out like you wanted and you wish you could go back and do things a little differently.
In either case, it’s important to understand the past is just that, the past. There’s a reason your car windshield is so large in comparison to the rear view mirror. You have to be looking forward to drive, and only on occasion do you look backward, before focusing again on what’s in front of you.
All of us, no matter what our backgrounds and our current situation, are here to learn. And learning happens through failures. Sometimes, failures are inaction. Sometimes, failures are action-gone-wrong. What’s more important than the result is learning from the situation and knowing things can always change going forward. Always.
Remember, you have a finite amount of energy every day, and you want to use the little bit you have leftover on yourself, not others. This could go one of two ways: beating yourself up, or putting it toward your future and self-growth.
I would personally choose the self-growth route. Getting mad at yourself is a fruitless endeavor. Instead, use that energy to make the moves you crave. The moves you know you want. The ones you know you need (hello, gut!).
It’s never, ever too late to experience things and learn from your past. A new city. A new career. A new partner. A new outlook on life itself. Regret won’t get you there. But realization will.
Adam Bergen is the founder of Monday Views, a movement dedicated to showing that with focus and self-discipline, your potential is limitless in today’s world of instant gratification and distractions. You can find Adam at mondayviews.com.
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by Norman Wright
by Leslie Ralph
“The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty; not knowing what comes next.” ~ Ursula K. Le Guin
Did you play with cootie catchers as a kid? You picked a number and watched anxiously as your friend counted it out. Open. Close. Open. Close. You chose a color or picture or word and waited in anticipation as your friend unfolded the flap and read your destiny.
Or how about that MASH game? Mansion, apartment, shack, house?
I played these games with an insatiable desire for all the details.
How is all of this going to play out?
Where will I live?
What will become of me?
I was fascinated with details, and anyone who could supply them. Fortune cookies, horoscopes, and psychic phone readings all held the promise of telling me exactly what I yearned to know.
Will I be okay?
With time, curiosity gave way to hard-core, type A planning. I’d plan everything out in excruciating detail and get my heart set on one specific outcome.
I’d make a deal with the cosmos. Everything will be okay if it turns out just like this, okay? Okay.
I craved certainty and the illusion of control.
The answer “surprise me,” made me uncomfortable. Playing it by ear was torturous. Penciling it in felt like the easy way out.
I’ve made a lot of plans along the way: graduation plans, wedding plans, birth plans, career plans. Yet, no matter how painstakingly crafted these plans were, I was always a little surprised with where I ended up.
My actual wedding dress was nothing like the pictures I collected with friends in high school.
My thirty-eight-hour, two epidural labor was nothing like my 100 percent all natural birth plan.
My house in Arizona is nothing like the one I’d dreamed of having in Northern California.
And I’ve been okay.
Okay, universe. I get the message.
It’s not really about the details.
We can make the best of difficult times, rising up after we’ve been dragged through the muck. We can surprise ourselves with what it turns out we actually want. And we can rain all over our own parades.
The details are delicious, though.
It’s so satisfying to make a list and check things off. It feels so good that sometimes we’ll even write down the things we’ve already done. And there’s something so soothing about having the who, what, when, and where sorted out.
Best of all is knowing that the whole plan is exactly, perfectly the way you want it. It’s positively intoxicating.
The only trouble is that the details hardly ever turn out as planned.
This whole attachment to details thing is getting harder as time goes on. At a time when I most want to know if we’ll all be okay, I suddenly can’t figure the details out. Maybe I’ve lost my touch, or maybe the plans are getting more complicated.
There are so many more variables and people involved now. Where it was once just me and my cats, there’s now me, my husband, my children, our families, old friends and new friends, employers, clients, school systems, licenses, and a mortgage to consider.
With each new piece comes countless questions. So many, in fact, that I can’t even picture what all of this is going to look like.
That’s got to be okay.
I’m learning to accept that I’ll be okay if I don’t know the details because I know how I want to feel and what I want to leave room for in my life.
As much as we’d like to take credit for them, the details are often things that just present themselves when they’re good and ready to be seen, anyway. They tend to sort themselves out in ways that we never could have planned.
We take one step, then another. We prepare the best we can with what we know, knowing how we want to feel when it’s all said and done. Then we reassess along the way.
Part of me really wants to fight that because it still believes that having all the answers now will guarantee that everything will be okay. Maybe it’s time to start having a little more trust that I’ll find a way to be okay no matter what happens.
The more comfortable I get with letting the details reveal themselves when the time is right, the more aware I am of all the people who want to know the plan right now.
They want to know when you’re visiting or moving back to your hometown or having your next child or finally graduating or asking for that raise.
They ask all kinds of detailed questions about your plan, so much so that it can leave you feeling ashamed for not having figured it out.
I get it, too.
People want to feel closer to you or important or useful. They want to be heard.
Maybe they’re kind of nosy. Or bossy. Or maybe they’re bored.
Maybe they just really care and want to solve what they think is a problem for you.
And maybe they also have a deal with the cosmos that everything will be okay if…
I get it because I’ve been them. I’ve interrogated, and I’ve demanded answers. Even after understanding that I can’t have absolute certainty (or control), I’ve been that person squeezing out the details before it’s time.
Understanding is different from knowing deep in your bones that you’ll be okay no matter what.
When you know, you live and breathe it. Instead of seeking control, you seek clarity. Instead of certainty, you seek courage.
When you know the truth, you also know that it’s supposed to be a little scary to look out into the uncertain future. It’s unnerving to say, “Here goes nothing.”
It takes courage to walk into the future knowing that you don’t have all the details nailed down. Your next step may be right, it may be wrong, it may lead you nowhere, and people may think you’re crazy, but you have to take it at some point.
The truth is, no one ever really knows how it’s all going to look, but you probably have a good idea of how you want to feel and what’s most important to you. And if you don’t, maybe that’s why the details are so elusive.
(But all the same, you don’t need the details.)
You don’t need to see the details to trust that you’ll figure them out when the time is right, and you don’t need to see your path to know in your heart that it’s there waiting for you to take that step.
You don’t need to know exactly how every piece will play out to know what the most important pieces are.
And you don’t need absolute certainty to know that you’ll find a way to be okay no matter what happens.
I’m not saying, “Let’s all throw caution to the wind from now until forever.” Make plans, yes, but there’s no need to obsess over the details if the details aren’t clear. Meet planning with flexibility and trust. Be curious about what happens next, not controlling.
So go ahead, daydream, plan, manifest, make a vision board, or whatever calls to you. Just remember to begin from living and breathing the truth: that you will find a way to be okay no matter what.
I have no idea where I’ll be working five years from now, what our house will look like, what we’ll do on the weekends, if I’ll have lost the baby weight, or if I’ll dye my greys, but I do trust myself to make the call when the time is right.
I don’t know all the when’s, where’s, or even how’s, but I do know how I want to feel and what I hold nearest to my heart.
I want to feel light, energized, and free.
I want to find meaning in my work.
I want to be home in time for dinner.
I want to create space for contemplation and creativity.
I think I’ve had enough of the heaviness that comes from dragging around a lifetime of plans. It’s too much pressure, and even the most carefully made plans might change in the end.
I still make plans, and I’m not throwing my bullet journal away any time soon. I’m just not letting my fear that I won’t be okay or that I’ll choose wrong or that people will disapprove suck the life out of living any more.
So go ahead, universe. Surprise me. I’ll be okay no matter what.
by Leslie Ralph
Leslie is writer and artist who hopes to leave the world a little brighter than she found it. Her people are soul-searchers, deep feelers, and big-hearted dreamers that crave inner peace and inner truth. Download her free ritual for receiving to bring true healing, inner peace, and lasting joy into your life.
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by Eric Schumacher
Do you feel like everyone is more successful than you?
So often when you’re working to accomplish something, it can seem like everyone else around you is having effortless success while you work day in and day out and yet seem to be standing still in comparison.
Believe me, I can relate. I work in the entertainment industry, possibly one of the most competitive industries in the world.
Just about every task in the industry is incredibly complex. Every aspect of a film or multimedia project takes a long time and requires a great deal of attention and care.
In the meantime, you have to turn on your TV or computer, or go to the movies to be reminded of everyone else’s success. It can get downright depressing when you’re in the midst of refining every detail on a project before release while a million other projects are released and the publicity for each one permeates the airwaves.
No matter what industry you’re in, if you’re facing challenges and see others who seem to be more successful than you flaunting their latest wins, it’s so easy to slip into despair.
It’s easy to wonder if you should just give up. If maybe you’re just not good enough or if you just don’t have the wealth and resources to succeed.
I’ve found, however, that each one of these moments of despair and self-questioning can, in fact, strengthen and empower you if you can get out of your own way and look at your circumstance with a clear head.
If you’ve been working hard at attaining your goals and jealously looking at the success of others, odds are that there’s someone looking at you the same way. It’s all a matter of perspective.
If you think about it, I’ll bet you even know who some of the people looking at you jealously are. Reach out to them and give them a random encouraging word. It’ll help remind you of how far you’ve come too.
We all think that things must be so much easier for so and so. Sometimes we’re right. I know a lot of people in my industry who were raised wealthy (I was most certainly not), or had much more support from family and friends, or just had an easy path for some reason.
You probably do too but no one else’s path is yours. You’re supposed to have the experiences you have.
You’re supposed to gain you success in your own way and under your own terms. Remember that you can’t be someone else but you can be an excellent you, and your unique contribution to the world is yours alone.
It SHOULD look and smell different than anyone else’s and you must, therefore, take a different path to get there. Your unique experiences and struggles and successes are building something in you that will make you into something very special. That’s a beautiful thing.
It never hurts to do a self-check and reevaluate. Should you be on the path you’re on? Sometimes we get onto a path based on a whim and are too stubborn to give it up even when we don’t care about it anymore.
Regardless, make sure you’re making a decision based on a combination of reasoned thought, intuition and true self-awareness. Don’t quit just because it’s difficult, but don’t keep going if it’s really not for you anymore either.
Don’t let feelings of being second best or unworthy or underprivileged beat you into submission. Instead, use these feelings as a motivator to work smarter AND harder and succeed.
Take a minute to mope if you must, then get mad and figuratively punch your self-defeating attitude in the face. No one ever accomplished anything truly extraordinary when it was just handed to them.
If it’s an easy ride it’s not an accomplishment no matter how big it seems. So go accomplish something – something difficult and amazing.
Ask yourself why you started doing what you do. If you have enough passion for what you do, you’ll keep going no matter what. You’ll find a way and if your success takes one year or forty, you’ll keep going because what else are you going to do with your life?
As one of my great teachers often said, don’t be one of those people who end up dying without knowing what it would have been like if they’d followed their bliss.
If you are meant to do it, it doesn’t matter if you fail, only that you gave it everything that you had.
You’re probably connected with a lot of people between social media, traditional media and personal friends. They aren’t all successful all of the time. Most successful people rise to the top after many years of hard work and sacrifice and most have a string of failures before they hit success.
People rarely make social media posts or send press releases proclaiming all of their failures for the world to see. Everyone puts a spin on their social media posts and their publicity.
It’s really unfair to you to compare yourself to ANYONE else. You’re really only comparing yourself to their public image. Follow most people around and their seemingly perfect lives look a lot less perfect; maybe a lot like yours.
I remember talking with an actor before an audition for a theater company I was interested in working with many years ago. We were both auditioning for the same role and I gave him a cough drop when he was having a throat issue.
He took the cough drop but suspiciously. He told me that he viewed me as his competition and didn’t understand why I would help him.
As he waited for his call, he eyed the room suspiciously, while I was busy running lines and working the character. As he reemerged from his audition he looked a bit smug and was dismissive when I bid him farewell.
My response, a warm closing salutation, and then I went back to my work. I got the part and it was a very successful and award-winning run, the first of many with that small but prestigious company.
I often tell students in the few acting lectures I can make time for each year that they should never look at another actor as competition. It will psyche you out. You will get the roles you’re supposed to get.
Focus on doing your best and connecting well with the character. So it is with anything. If you spend too much time keeping up with the Jones, your focus won’t be on meeting and exceeding your personal best. A little competition CAN be a good thing of course.
You can learn by seeing what’s successful for others. Watching others succeed can sometimes motivate you to reach farther than you would. But at the end of the day, your focus should be on your own quest for personal excellence.
Perhaps you can reach further than anyone else ever has. Why stop by just beating someone else at their own game.
If you’re doing something extraordinary, it’s going to be difficult to become successful. That’s the nature of extraordinary. If it were easy, it would just be called ordinary.
So the next time you start to mope about the unfairness of it all, take heart, refocus and go do something awesome, however long it takes.
The alternative is to not give your special gifts to the world and that would be truly sad. If we all gave our best and followed our bliss we would all benefit from each others genius.
by Eric Schumacher
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by Bailey Jackson
by Jamie Haas Powell
“You can recognize survivors of abuse by their courage. When silence is so very inviting, they step forward and share their truth so others know they aren’t alone.” ~Jeanne McElvaney
When I first met my husband, when he had just started medical school at a large university, I thought he was just insecure. I believed that he would grow out of his need to be the center of attention, receive constant validation, and appear correct and knowledgeable about everything.
I believed he would become surer of himself and would develop the capacity to listen, love, and be empathetic.
I humored him by listening to him talk, I tried to help boost his self-esteem by giving him compliments and asking him questions I already knew the answer to, and I expressed pride in his accomplishments.
His lack of empathy was a concern, but he told me that this is how people in his culture are, and I believed him. I convinced myself that he would get to a place in his life where he would have space for me. I continued to love and support him despite how he treated me.
As years passed I began to think that he had Asperger’s. This explained why he lacked empathy and why he behaved the way he did, didn’t it? When I brought this up with him, he got angry and convinced me that I was the problem in our relationship. He even managed to convince our marriage counselor of this.
I continued to support and listen to everything he had to say, although he rarely reciprocated. When I would bring this up as a concern, he would state that he knew how I would respond because I’m a liberal, and they always respond like X or think like Y.
In social situations he would demean me and make fun of me, and then call me too sensitive and ask me why I couldn’t take a joke.
He would justify his actions by saying he thought people would find it funny, even though he was insulting me. When I was firm about the fact that I would not tolerate this behavior, he went out of his way to ensure that I felt invisible. When I brought this up with him, would tell me that I was boring.
I was tolerant of this behavior because I grew up in an abusive home, so verbal abuse felt normal.
I did so much work preparing for social gatherings in the hopes of hosting a fun evening with my friends, but it always ended the same way: with my husband being the center of attention and impeding others from talking and connecting.
After these events my friends would often feel hurt about something he said or did. I would bring this up with him, and he would play the victim and tell me that they didn’t have the right to an apology because of what they said or did to him.
Many times my friends and family would tell me to leave him and would try and show me how his behavior was hurting me, but I wasn’t ready to see it. I didn’t believe them because he had convinced me that I deserved to be treated poorly.
He burned bridges with my friends and family, and I found myself justifying his actions in an attempt to keep the peace. In order to save these relationships, I asked my friends and family if they felt comfortable around him, and if they didn’t, I would spend time with them when he wasn’t around. This hurt, but these relationships meant so much to me that I could not afford to lose them.
Whenever I tried to assert boundaries, we would fight and he’d blame me for trying to set boundaries that went across his. I started surrendering space to him and giving in, even though it hurt, because it felt better than fighting.
I started to become used to not being seen, not being able to have boundaries, not being treated with dignity and respect. I became used to feeling shut down and drained.
I looked forward to times he worked out of town so that I could get enough sleep, be alone with my thoughts, do what I need to do for my health and well-being, and start to feel like myself again.
One day as I was doing research for my PhD I came across an article on personality. As I read about narcissistic personality disorder it hit me like a wave of understanding. He does do not have Asperger’s; he is a narcissist. This explains his lack of empathy, his inability to love people, and his inability to be present in situations.
It explained why he has to be the center of attention—because he needs something called “narcissistic supply” to feel whole. Narcissistic supply can be thought of as a drug in the form of social admiration and attention.
This explained why he always picked fights and/or tried to make me feel down on my birthday, my convocation, and other events that meant a lot to me. It explained why he would leave events that didn’t allow him to be the center of attention and sulk and go on and on about how bored he was.
His NPD explains why he cannot be present with me and why he has to go on and on about anything and at the same time nothing. It also explains why trying to connect with him means putting on an invisibility cloak and giving him all my attention and energy.
The more I read about NPD the more I began to understand my husband. The literature indicates that people with NPD do not change and do not feel that they have a problem. Adults with NPD have been described as “children who are forever emotionally trapped.” Therapy is not often successful for people with NPD, if they are even willing to go.
Spouses of people with NPD are encouraged to end the relationship as safely as they can. I know from my own experience that leaving is not always possible and is much more complex than the abuse itself.
If you are like me, the thought of giving up on another person can be heartbreaking. Sometimes giving up on a relationship can feel like giving up on a part of yourself. So hope, empathy, and compassion propels the relationship onward.
Also, the thought of being alone can be terrifying. If you’ve been in a relationship with a narcissist long enough, you need time to gain confidence and reclaim your self-esteem.
If your relationship has been like mine, you have likely been told that you are incompetent, that you are incapable of caring for yourself, and maybe a part of you believes these lies. So don’t rush unless you are in physical danger. Then please, for your own safety, get out! Give yourself time and trust that you will know how to move your life forward.
I have taken the advice of these authors and have created a life for myself away from my spouse. I engage in meaningful hobbies, have friendships outside the relationship, and take time for myself every day to meditate and recharge. I have stopped feeling guilty for excluding him from parts of my life. This is what I have to do, and I am reasonably happy.
The more I read and learn about NPD the more I start to grieve. I grieve for the person I thought he was and what I hoped he would become. I grieve for the relationship I longed for, a relationship with empathy, reciprocity, support, and shared space both physically and ideologically.
Slowly, I have forgiven myself for enabling him, for giving him supply, and for subjecting my friends and family to his behavior, and I’ve stopped blaming myself for the issues in our relationship.
Relationships involve more than one person, and both parties are responsible for what arises. Sadly, spouses of people with NPD often carry all the responsibility for the relationship.
I have stopped telling him sensitive things about my life because he uses them to bring me down or as a source of narcissistic supply. I don’t owe him access to my inner most thoughts and feelings.
Also, I am in the process of acknowledging the role my past played in this relationship.
Growing up in a home with verbally abusive parents, I never learned to love or respect myself. Verbal abuse was a normal part of my daily life. As a result, I was conditioned to accept derogation, living without healthy boundaries, and being treated without dignity and respect. Because of my past, I was blind to abuse.
The future will be different; it has to be. For the first time in our relationship of over fifteen years I see my husband for who he really is, not who he has led me to believe he was.
As I see him I try to have empathy for him. I have learned that people with NPD feel empty inside when they are not seeking supply, and beneath the façade they try so desperately to protect is a person who feels insecure, a person who does not love themselves and is ashamed of who they really are, although they will never admit this to anyone, not even themselves.
I don’t know what I want to do about the relationship, so I’m giving myself time and permission to reflect and grow. My downfall is that I don’t like to give up on people, but sometimes you need to give up on someone because, if you don’t, it means giving up on yourself.
I can’t live my life on edge. I can’t be either invisible or demeaned and insulted on a daily basis, and I will not go on feeling sleep-deprived, shut down, and in a state of physical and psychological distress.
You are not too sensitive or needy. You have been told these things by a person who cannot feel deeply the way you do.
People may have told you to leave, but you need to trust yourself to know what is right for you, and when. In time you will know.
Read books and articles on NPD; there are many helpful resources available, such as the Gray Rock method, which allows me to protect my time.
Your friends and family might not understand what you are going through because narcissists often wear a mask, and the person they are in public can be very different from who they are behind closed doors.
Seek out support from a therapist who has experience with narcissistic emotional abuse. This individual can provide you with coping strategies, education, and resources that will make your life a little better.
If this isn’t an option for you, join a social media support group, such as the Facebook group Living with Narcissistic Emotional Abuse (where I am now an administrator). Facebook groups for spouses of narcissists continue to be a source of comfort to me, because I have connected with people who understand my experience in a way that friends cannot.
Narcissists try to twist facts to make themselves look good or make you appear crazy. This is called gaslighting. In order to give yourself validation, keep a journal of events that happen. If you feel comfortable, show this to someone you trust who can validate these situations. This will help you regain confidence in your lived experiences of events.
If you need to confront the narcissist, script what you are going to say first. Write it down, memorize it, and follow it exactly as you have written it. It can be useful to have someone you trust look it over because the narcissist will often try and accuse you of being abusive or unfair in order to suppress your ability to call them out on their behaviors.
This may take time. For me, it involved noticing what triggered me when I was with the narcissist. Know what you will and will not tolerate as well as consequences for violating each boundary. For example, if the narcissist insults you at events, tell them that you will not invite them to join you the next time you go out.
It can take a large amount of energy to be with a narcissist, and you need to invest some of this energy in yourself and in your healthier relationships. Remember that you don’t owe anyone all your time and emotional energy. You aren’t selfish for taking time for you.
Narcissists can be very negative people, and they can suck the joy out of your life. Try to do something you love every day. I go to a walk in nature or watch animal videos, as this reminds me about the joys of life. I also play with my cat.
Some narcissists try to control their spouses through money, and this can limit your ability to do things you need to do for yourself. Have some money saved and/or obtain a source of income that the narcissist does not know about.
Don’t blame yourself for what you could not see before. This can take some of us years. Narcissists are good at wearing a mask. Just educate yourself, and you will peel off the mask and see the narcissists with new eyes.
As the spouse of a narcissist, I have someone who talks at me, not with me. Someone who needs me but does not respect me. A child who demands attention and has tantrums if he does not get it. A person who does not listen and does not feel what others feel, or understand how others are affected by his behaviors.
As the spouse of a narcissist, I must walk alone through my struggles, silently feeling my pain while no one sees it, no one sees him.
Nothing is mine or can be about me, he has to be the center of attention.
In public, he wears a mask that no one can see through, but at home, the mask comes off and I am subjected to emotional abuse.
As the spouse of a narcissist, I am the one with the problem—the one who is too sensitive, the one who cannot take a joke. I am the one who needs help, not him. He is not the problem; I am. I am because I see him for who he is and I cannot pretend anymore, and that is a problem.
As the spouse of a narcissist, I need to be strong and educate the people around me about narcissistic emotional abuse so that they might never fall prey and never feel my pain.
As spouses of narcissists, we cannot keep silent because the pain of being with a narcissist can be prevented.
Ann is a teacher who engages in freelance writing. She is also an admin in the group Living with Narcissistic Emotional Abuse and strives to help others on this issue.
Article Link: tinybudda.com
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by Nora Simpson
by MARC CHERNOFF
You are the person you believe yourself to be.
“This afternoon I received a formal acceptance letter from Yale University, including a full basketball scholarship. Despite everything my alcoholic father put me through over the years—the hungry, sleepless nights I spent in tears due to their relentless negativity—it didn’t ruin me. With your coaching and guidance, I’ve worked hard to get out of this mess once and for all, and it’s finally paying off.”
That’s the opening paragraph of an email we received last night from Monica, a longtime reader and junior coaching client of ours (she gave me permission to share this with you today). Her email then goes on to say that she has forgiven her mom and stepfather, but also knows being on her own and taking this next step is a priceless gift. “Honestly, for far too long the people in my life had me convinced that I wasn’t good enough,” she says. “And although I hold no grudges, I’m so happy to be able to prove to myself that they were wrong about me.”
Monica’s email made me reflect and smile, for obvious reasons.
And although Monica’s circumstances are unique to her, I bet you can relate on some level. I know I can. Sometimes the pressure and dysfunction coming from family, peers, work, and society in general is enough to make us feel completely broken inside. If we do things differently, we’re looked down upon. If we dream big, we’re ridiculed.
Or if we don’t have the right job, relationship, lifestyle, and so forth, by a certain age or time frame, we start to seriously believe we’re not good enough.
Monica’s story truly is a perfect reminder for all of us too, even though she’s only 18, because the self-limiting beliefs that get instilled in our minds often arrive at an early age.
Maybe we got cut from a sports team as a child and thus determined “I’m not athletic enough to be fit and good at sports.” Or we tried to play a musical instrument and were told to practice outside because we weren’t very good.
For whatever reason, we encounter little struggles or rejections that drastically alter our mindset for years to come. It happens something like this:
It’s time to break yourself out of this cycle, so you can start making progress again.
And the first—and perhaps hardest—step is to stop saying these things to yourself:
Don’t let rude people ruin you. Don’t let them keep you down! No matter how much negativity is thrown at you by others, there is absolutely no need for you to stay put and partake in the decay they choose for their own lives. YOU decide how your soul grows. Because the truth is, what people say and do to you is much more about them, than you. People’s reactions to you are about their perspectives, wounds and experiences. Whether people think you’re amazing, or believe you’re the worst, again, is more about them. I’m not suggesting we should be narcissists and ignore all feedback. I am saying that so much hurt, disappointment and sadness in our lives comes from our taking things personally. In most cases it’s far more productive and healthy to let go of other people’s good or bad opinion of you, and to operate with your own intuition and wisdom as your guide.
So stay out of other people’s drama and don’t needlessly create your own. Instead, imagine what would happen if you spent this entire day, and every day hereafter, with all your energy directed toward your most positive possibilities. Rather than being annoyed, be amused. Instead of getting angry, get away. Life is too short to argue and fight. Count your blessings and move on from the drama with your head held high. (Note: Angel and I discuss this in detail in the “Mindfulness” chapter of our New York Times bestselling book, Getting Back to Happy: Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Reality, and Turn Your Trials into Triumphs.)
Most of us are not raised to actively seek our calling. We may not even know that we have one. As kids, we are seldom told we have a place in life that is uniquely ours alone. Instead, we are encouraged to believe that our life should somehow fulfill the expectations of others—that we should find our happiness exactly as they have found theirs.
Rather than being taught to ask ourselves who we are, we are trained to ask others for permission. We are, in effect, schooled to live other people’s versions of our lives. Every day is designed and developed as told to us by someone else. And then one day when we break free to survey our dreams, seeking to fulfill ourselves, we see that most of our dreams have gone unfulfilled because we believed, and those around us believed, that what we wanted for ourselves was somehow beyond our reach.
It’s time to unlearn these lies and make changes. It takes courage to grow wiser and become who you really are. And today is the first day of the rest of your life.
Just because someone else can, doesn’t mean you can, right? Because you’re not good enough, or you’ve missed your chance, etc. You look for reasons they can do it but you can’t—maybe he’s an internet entrepreneur or freelance writer because he has no kids. Maybe she’s way fitter than I am, so she can run a marathon. Maybe she doesn’t have all the work and family obligations I have, or has a supportive spouse, or doesn’t have bad knees.
OK, fine, it’s easy to find excuses: but look at all the other people who also have considerable obstacles and have done it anyway. Angel and I have a family, and have dealt with significant loss in our lives, and still managed to succeed on many fronts. And just as we’ve turned things around for ourselves, we know hundreds of other people who’ve done the same. Through a decade of life coaching, we’ve witnessed people reinventing themselves at all ages—48-year olds starting families, 57-year-olds graduating from college for the first time, 71-year-olds starting successful businesses, and so forth. And stories abound of people with disabilities or illnesses who overcame their obstacles to achieve great things.
Your obstacles can be overcome!
Feeling stuck is a FEELING, not a fact. So never assume that you’re stuck with the way things are. Life changes, and so can you. It’s never too late to live a life that makes you proud. If you don’t learn anything else from this post, learn that. There’s no age limit on changing your course. (Note: Angel and I discuss this in more detail in the “Goals & Success” chapter of our brand NEW edition of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
Whatever it is you want to improve in your life, start struggling with it for 30 minutes EVERY SINGLE DAY, and keep an eye out for EVERY tiny victory along your journey, no matter how hard you have to scrape, fight, and claw for it. Then, consistently remind yourself of these victories—keep them at the forefront of your mind, and use them as motivation to take the next step, and the next.
And when you catch yourself thinking something like, “I’m not good enough,” remind yourself that depending on what people around you expected of you as a child, or what you have expected of yourself all your life, you have been subtly molded into who YOU are. And a great deal of this molding has been driven directly by external and internal negativity about what is and isn’t possible for you.
But the truth is, what’s possible for you is up to you right NOW!
If you’re still not convinced, I want you to think about ONE self-limiting belief you have. It can be about any part of your life you hope to change—your health, your weight, your career, your relationships—anything at all. What’s one thing you’ve essentially decided is a fact about your place on Earth?
And then I want you to immediately shift gears and think about ONE time, one fleeting moment, in which the opposite of that ‘fact’ was true for you. I don’t care how tiny of a victory it was, or even if it was a partial victory. What’s one moment in time you can look back on and say, “Hey, that was totally unlike ‘me’ – but I did it!”?
Once you identify the cracks in the wall of a self-limiting belief, you can start attacking it. You can start taking the hard but necessary little steps forward every day that go against it—tiny victories, more confidence, gradual momentum, bigger victories, even more confidence, and so on. Until your inner dialog and reality change for good.
I would love to hear from YOU in the comments section:
What’s one self-limiting belief that has held you back?
Or better yet, what do you need to stop saying to yourself?
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by Marc & Angel Chernoff
by Jamie Haas Powell
“Do it with passion or not at all.” ~Rosa Couchette Carey
If you’ve ever had a passion for something, you are probably well aware of the peaks and valleys that are natural side effects of pursuing the thing you love most.
Whether it’s music, writing, sports, fitness, or anything else, sometimes you lose sleep because the thing you love keeps you up all night, and some days you just feel tired and uninspired. There are ebbs and flows in following your passion, which is completely natural and healthy.
But what happens when the “valleys” stay valleys? Maybe you have a few days when you don’t feel excited. When the thing you once loved feels more like a job than something you look forward to doing. Then, maybe those few days turn into a couple of weeks. Maybe even a couple of months.
As time passes, you start feeling sad and frustrated. The activity (hobby, career) that once was a burning fire in your heart, no longer is. You may even begin to feel guilty for not feeling love for that thing anymore. After all, you did love that thing before. Nothing about it has changed.
You may become frustrated with yourself, wondering what’s wrong with you for not feeling excited about something that brought you so much joy in past.
What began as a strong, bright, and hopeful fire is now a much smaller flame. You try to fan the flame, attempting to make it bigger and trying harder to bring it back to its former glory. But you end up become more and more tired as it becomes clearer that the fire is dying.
Some passions become a part of who you are. They become etched into your being, your identity, and your sense of self. So once that passion fades, a moment of panic may set in. You may feel anxiety or deep depression at the thought of no longer doing that thing that once defined you.
As a professional dance instructor, I’m thankful to say that I have been able to turn the thing I love into a career. However, I went through my own peaks and valleys in dance.
My personal dance journey has gone something like this:
Walk into a ballroom dance studio one night. No dance experience or intention of becoming a dancer whatsoever. Attend the social anyway, just for fun.
Dance with one of the dance hosts. Dance with others. Dance the night away. Feel happy and inspired. Fall in love with whatever this new feeling is.
Sign up that night to take ballroom dance lessons. Train in dance for five years. For those five years, forgo everything else that regular early twenty-somethings do, to focus solely on my passion.
Leave my old studio to accept a teaching opportunity at a new studio. Begin making a living doing the thing I love.
At this point, I feel happy. I don’t feel the burning passion that I felt when I was training and dancing just for myself and my own enjoyment. But it’s okay. I feel satisfaction in knowing that I am helping others to feel that same passion, which gives me a sense of fulfillment.
I continue teaching at that studio for two years. Little by little, I begin feeling drained. I convince myself that it’s “natural” to feel drained all the time, that it’s just part of the job.
Coworkers tell me that it’s “not supposed to be fun.” I try to find humor in it. I continue teaching. Slowly, I no longer enjoy it. I no longer want to dance. I no longer feel good about teaching others how to love dance when my love for it isn’t genuine.
One night, fate steps in. I visit another studio to dance socially, just for fun. Just for myself. And I see some of the dancers who I met seven years ago at that very first dance social.
The energy in this new studio feels different. I see the dancers who are just dancing socially, and realize that some of them are better than me. I feel humbled and challenged. I feel inspired again. I know in my heart that this is where I’m meant to work.
I decide to leave my old studio, where I no longer felt inspired, to work at this new one.
Working at this studio inspires me. It gives me a new feeling of challenge, hope, and excitement, which I was missing. However, just like anything else, passion needs to be sustained from the inside—if it comes from outside factors, it can only last so long. Which is exactly what happened.
Just like at the old studio, I began to feel slowly uninspired. I wanted to be inspired. I longed to feel something. But I didn’t understand why I didn’t. I felt sad. However, this time, I didn’t deny it or fight it. I realized that I needed to do some inner work. I needed to figure out whether I should hold on or let go.
When passion fades, it can be a very difficult thing to accept. It might seem almost impossible to take step back from that former passion. You may feel a loss of identity and wonder who you are without that passion, regardless of whether or not it inspires you anymore.
But from personal experience, I can say that stepping back, even just temporarily, is one of the best remedies. When something you once loved leaves you feeling bored, stressed, or uninspired, it’s often a clear signal that some inner work and reevaluation needs to take place.
Don’t be afraid of your gut feeling. When something no longer brings you the joy it once did, it’s often the soul’s way of saying “It is time to take a break.”
For those of you who become so emotionally and spiritually intertwined with the people, places, and activities you love most that the very thought of taking a couple of steps back sends you into an identity crisis, I am here to say that I understand. I know the discomfort.
But your soul knows better. Your inner most self knows when it’s time to create a little space.
And here’s the good news: By giving the thing you loved some space, you are allowing one of two things to happen:
One: You are giving yourself time to recharge and recover. Sometimes, this is all you need. You may have simply needed a little time off to get inspired again, and you may return back to that passion at a later time with inspiration, energy, and clarity.
Or two: If you don’t return back to your first passion, you are creating room for a new joy to eventually take its place. You’re giving yourself the opportunity to explore other hobbies and interests. And if you don’t find the “new thing” right away, don’t panic! You will. Your heart knows. It may take time, but you will be guided, once again, to that new thing.
For me, it turned out that I needed to take a different approach to my dancing.
For one thing, I needed to focus on my strengths as a dancer and dance teacher rather than compare myself to those around me. Comparison had left me with feelings of inadequacy and insecurity, which, in turn, made me not feel much motivation for dancing, in general. I realized that I felt much happier when I focused on my strengths, as well as my own growth and progress.
Secondly, I realized that I needed to spend more time dancing for myself. Not teaching group classes or private lessons. Not hostessing. Just going out and dancing. When I danced for myself, I felt joy again. I felt full of passion and purpose.
This led me to realize an important lesson: You can only give as much love to something as what you currently have inside of you. If you don’t feel happy on the inside, how can you expect to make others feel happy and excited?
Self-care and balance are essential elements in pursuing anything that you love.
So if your passion is currently causing you to feel burnt out, tired, or stressed, don’t be afraid to give it some space. Don’t feel afraid to take a few steps back, breathe, and focus on something else for a little bit. Everything will be okay.
By letting go, you are allowing the universe to work its magic and fill that void—either with renewed love and energy, or with a new passion that you would’ve never imagined.
Jamie Haas Powell is a flexibility coach. She started a movement, NJHeARTs, that combines arts and advocacy to raise awareness for domestic abuse. In her free time, she loves playing her ukulele, dancing, going to the beach, and eating tacos. You can find more of her daily thoughts at tumblr.com/blog/tinydancer725, or follow her on Facebook.
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by Henri Junttila
by HENRIK EDBERG
“When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everybody will respect you.”
Today I’d like to focus on a negative habit that creates insecurity within, erodes self-esteem and can make you feel quite unhappy with your own life. It’s something that has sprung up as we have moved a part of our lives on to the internet and social media. And that habit is to compare yourself and your life to other people’s highlight reels. What do I mean by that?
That it’s so easy to start comparing your life to the lives of friends, old classmates or celebrities of all sizes as you each day see how perfect their homes, kids, love lives are and how filled their lives are with wonderful moments. But is that their whole lives that is shared on Facebook and Instagram?
It's just the highlight reel of that person’s life. The positive moments. And it’s natural thing really, to want to share such moments or days with your friends or followers. Now, for some people this may develop into something destructive. Into a way of creating a more perfect image of one’s life to get that hit of instant gratification as people add positivity via comments, likes and upvotes.
But everyone has problems at times.
They fail. Get sick. Have flaws, bad days or negative habits. No matter who you are or what you look like or do. I have those issues too. Just like anyone else. I still stumble and fall on some days. Doubt myself or am pessimistic from time to time. That’s human. So don’t strive for being perfect or measuring yourself against someone else’s highlight reel.
Here are three healthier steps you can take instead:
Step 1: Compare in a smarter way.
There will always be people who have more or nicer things than you. Or are better than you at something. No matter what you do.
So if you want to compare then do it in a way that won't make you feel envious and inferior.
Do it by comparing yourself to yourself. See how far you have come. Look back at the obstacles you have overcome, what you have learned and how you have grown.
Step 2: Spend your energy and time on what matters the most.
Step by step spend the hours in your day and week on building habits that will make you a better person and a happier one too.
For example, aim at being optimistic 70% of the time if you have been it maybe 50% in the past month. Or, for starters, find just one idea and action-step you can take reducing your financial worries).
Step 3: Let go of what drags you down.
If necessary unsubscribe or remove social media accounts from your flow if you feel they are dragging you down and lowering your self-esteem. Even if those things might also be entertaining right now. Life isn't just a highlight reel no matter who shares it.
So look beyond that, remember that everyone is human and stop comparing yourself to that limited view of someone.
In the long run you’ll be happy that you did.
by HENRIK EDBERG
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by John Krasinski
Since starting my blog, I have found that I pull inspiration from some of the strangest places—one of which is the TV show, The Office. I suspect the reason for this is that when I have trouble sleeping, I usually turn it on, put on my eye mask and proceed to be lulled to sleep by my favorite “friends” and characters (hot image, I know). Yes, I am aware that TV is not good for sleep hygiene, but we’re all human and imperfect, right? I’m working on it.
Anyway, I was watching—or, rather, listening to—a hilarious episode where Michael Scott (Steve Carell) throws an auction to raise money after an office robbery. He calls it C.R.I.M.E. A.I.D.
Obviously, this is ridiculous, and there is no reason to make “Crime Aid” into the complicated (and hilarious) acronym or backronym of Crime Reduces Innocence Makes Everyone Angry I Do Declare. However, it made me want one.
B — body language
A — affirmations
D — dialectics
A — aspirations
S — sweat
S — serenity
I start out with body language because I am big believer in power-posing. Power-posing is when we put our bodies in open, “powerful” positions to engender confidence. Not only does body language communicate our confidence (and badass-ness) to others, but the positioning itself empowers us and brings out the confidence needed. It’s like the concept of fake it till you make it, with your body language. And, more than that, power-posing can motivate us. It should be practiced every morning in the mirror. It looks something like this, but you can get creative with it!
Like power-posing, affirmations are a small behavioral change that can help us start to shift our way of thinking, as well as the ways in which we operate in the world. Affirmations are when we create a list of the qualities we have and those that we want, and repeat them out loud in the mirror or whenever possible. It starts to “trick” our brains into believing and manifesting, “I am smart,” “I am beautiful,” “I am a badass,” or whatever else is personally significant.
Simply put, we are what we tell ourselves, whether it’s true or not. If I tell myself “I am not good enough“ over and over, I will start to believe it, and it will trickle into all aspects of my life. Some of these thoughts are so ingrained and automatic that we don’t even realize what’s happening.
At this point, the thoughts have become a part of our core belief system. This is why retraining ourselves is key. We are conditioning ourselves to go from one core belief system to another.
It might feel silly at first, but waking up and looking at yourself in the mirror each morning, putting your body in a powerful pose, and repeating your affirmations out loud will start to replace your distorted thoughts with more useful, positive ones. This new core belief system will become present in every aspect of your life, and start to change the way you view yourself and the world. So, these first two steps are crucial when unleashing and maintaining your inner badass.
Don’t run—I know this sounds really boring, but it’s awesome. All “dialectics” means is that multiple, seemingly conflicting things can exist at the same time, in the same plane. Just as the sun AND the moon can coexist in the sky, we can be both happy AND sad, both courageous AND afraid. I know this seems simple—and it is!—but so often, we label and pigeonhole ourselves into one category or another. If we aren’t perfect, then we have failed. If we aren’t the strongest, then we are weak.
There are so many layers to each of us, and when we label ourselves, we close ourselves off to so many possibilities. Instead, it’s better (and more accurate) to say, “I am not perfect AND I am good enough,” “I have weaknesses AND I am strong,” “I am in pain AND I am OK.” This subtle shift in language makes ALL the difference. All of a sudden, we have the ability to learn, grow, and change. We aren’t stuck in a box.
Note: Like the negative thoughts discussed above, this can happen so fast that we may not realize. The way to combat this is to check in and keep a record, making the thought patterns clear. After a bit of time, you will become skilled at catching yourself, so that you can reframe to the more reasonable, useful thought patterns. Here is a list of common cognitive distortions so that you know what to look for. In upcoming posts I will talk more about this, so stay tuned!
We cannot take our eyes off the prize. We aspire to be badasses (whatever that means to each of us). That’s a clear goal. Having goals in mind that are achievable give us hope and strength to push forward. However, we need to set a whole bunch of small targets on the path to the final destination, and even then, we need to maintain. No matter how small the goals, when achieved, it’s important to acknowledge and celebrate these victories. It will keep up our momentum.
This is about heart. This is about fight. This is about endurance, patience, and maintenance. This is about struggle. This is about falling and falling and picking yourself up again and again. This isn’t just some little goal that we reach and move on. Shifting from one core belief system to another is a life change, and we don’t really have the choice to quit. We have one life, and it would be a shame to hold ourselves back from the success that we want and are capable of. And when we are challenged or take a hit, we need to push harder. We need to sweat it out. We’ve got this.
This is the final stage when the body language, affirmations, dialectical thinking, aspirations, and sweat have become our truths. We have stopped giving a shit about what others think. We take action and speak our minds when necessary. We lay off and accept when necessary. We feel calm and capable, and comfortable in our own skin. We check in with our thoughts, use our skills, and feel in control. We know we are BADASSES in our cores, and we live it, breathe it, and maintain it in all areas of our lives.
Unleash Your Inner B.A.D.A.S.S
by John Krasinski, goodenoughtherapist.com
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by Jen Sincero
by Alex Bratty
Do you feel overwhelmed or stretched thin sometimes? Everyone suffers burnout at some point. Keep reading to discover some simple ways to stop it before it gets out of hand.
Burnout is real and it sucks. Does any of this sound familiar…?
You may be nodding your head to all of these or just a few. Either way, you may already be burned out or headed for burnout highway in the fast lane. And it’s not just that burnout is a painful place to be. If left unchecked, burnout can cost you pretty much everything – your career, your physical and emotional health, and even your personal relationships.
I get it because this used to be my life.
The good news is it doesn’t need to be this way. I’m here to tell you that you can turn it around and reclaim your life so that you feel more fulfilled, happier, and re-energized. Here are five simple steps to beating burnout and creating more space and time for you.
Write down your entire to-do list and go through each item to determine if it’s important or urgent. Usually, the urgent things on our list tend to get done first because they’re, well, urgent.
But that means the important items can fall to the wayside and another day or week passes where you realize you didn’t get to the projects that mean so much to you.
And here’s the problem with that – often the urgent items are actually just distractions (checking social media, responding to emails or voicemail). Or they may be urgent for other people, but not for you. Still, you get pulled along on the wave of urgency and end up dropping everything to help.
Change how you approach your list. Instead of dealing with the urgent items first, address the important items. Make those your priority because that’s what’s going to nourish your mind and soul.
And here’s the dirty little secret about the urgent items – if they are truly urgent, you’re going to get to them before the end of the day anyway….because…they’re urgent. So take a little time to get clear on what’s urgent and what’s important, and then take action on the important items first. You may also find in doing this exercise that some things on your list are neither important nor urgent. If that happens, celebrate – they can be dropped and your list just got shorter!
A surefire way to experience burnout and feel worn out is by making yourself too available and saying yes to most requests that come your way. The fact is that when you make yourself accessible at all hours of the day and night, people expect you to always be there and it’s simply unsustainable.
You need to get proactive with your calendar and block out times when you’ll disconnect from email and other devices so you can focus on what matters most to you. The trick here, of course, is sticking to your commitment.
When that request comes in for a conference call during a time you’ve blocked out for yourself, you don’t need to feel guilty and give it up. Instead, you can simply respond that you’re already booked at that time (because you are) and offer some other options.
Now, let’s face it – even when you’re being pretty good about your boundaries, you’re always going to receive demands on your time. It’s how you deal with those demands that will determine whether you can protect your priorities. Before saying yes to a new project or request, ask yourself four questions first:
If the answer to all of these is yes, then have it. But if it’s not, chances are you’ll want to say no. Saying no doesn’t have to be awkward or scary. Oftentimes, saying no can actually earn you more respect!
But if you’re still worried about it, try this approach: say yes to the person and no to the request, explaining that you wouldn’t have the time/the resources/the fill-in-the-blank to fully commit to their request.
Now, I know that if you’re feeling overwhelmed with everything you’ve got going on, chances are you’re defaulting to the good old habit of multi-tasking to get everything done. Most of us think it’s the only way we’ll ever manage our to-do list.
But here’s a newsflash: nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, multi-tasking actually reduces our productivity, makes us less competent, increases our stress, causes burnout and sends us into overwhelm mode. Essentially, all we’re doing is just switching from one thing to another and losing time and focus in the process.
Starting today, focus on one thing at a time. I know that may seem tough because your mind is moving at warp speed and you want to move ahead to the next thing while still doing your current task.
Embrace that pace and make it work in your favor by shortening meetings, conference calls, and giving yourself deadlines to get tasks done. Set yourself up for success by turning off distractions and avoiding predictable interruptions – close your office door, shut off your email program and app notifications when you’re on the phone or you need to write.
Try mono-tasking for a week and you’ll be amazed at the results. You’ll feel less stressed and you’ll be more efficient than you ever imagined.
Do you ever have days where you just feel like you’re drowning? Work and life can feel like you’re swimming upstream or just trying to keep your head above water.
You get to the end of your day and you’re just so depleted because you’ve been spending your energy doing, doing, doing – and usually for everyone else. You’re getting projects done for the boss or your clients; you’re taking care of household errands; maybe you’re also caring for kids or pets. The list goes on and on.
In the midst of all that you can forget about the most important person: you. Remember, there’s a reason that flight attendants tell you to “put your own oxygen mask on first before assisting others.”It’s because if you don’t take care of you, you’re not going to be much use to anyone else.
It’s the same in everyday life. If you’re not taking a little time for you each day and you’re just constantly being pulled in different directions, you’re not showing up as your best self for all those people you want to serve.
So find just a little time each day. I’m not talking an hour or even 30 minutes. I’m talking 10 minutes – just 1% of your busy day. Take 10 minutes to switch off your devices, find some quiet time and do something that gives you a little break. Take a nap, meditate, close your eyes and breathe, get outside for a walk, listen to some uplifting music – whatever feels good to you.
Yup, all the cool behavioral strategies in the world won’t make any difference unless you’re paying attention to what your body needs.
So that’s it – these are the five quick and simple things you can start doing TODAY to ease your burnout, stress, and exhaustion. Have at it!
You can beat burnout and prevent it from happening in the first place if you just take a little time to recognize the need for these basic self-care strategies amidst all the chaos. It’s about realizing that you deserve the respect and time you freely give away all day every day to others.
What Is the Purpose of Life and What Should You Live For?
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How to Avoid Burnout: Five Habits of Healthy Living
by Mark Conner