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
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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 Erin Grace
“Where there is anger, there is always pain underneath.” ~ Eckhart Tolle
There I was again, regretting the spiteful words that had cascaded out of my mouth during a heated argument with my partner.
I felt that old familiar feeling, the burning in my solar plexus that bubbled up and erupted like a volcano, spilling out expressions of anger, blame, and criticism.
It had been a rocky few months, my partner was struggling to find consistent work, and our credit card debt was on the rise. Suddenly anger kicked in and I lashed out, accusing him of slacking off and guilting him about me being the only one working.
As the words spilled from my mouth, I knew deep down that what I was saying was hurtful and untrue. I could see that my partner was trying his best , but my anger had taken over, causing suffering that I would later regret.
This was a familiar pattern for me. I’ve frequently reacted emotionally, without understanding why, and caused suffering to myself and my partner and chaos in our relationship. I spent the next few days beating myself up about my reaction and wondering, why do I never seem to learn?
Though I wasn’t self-aware in that particular moment, I know that anger is our body’s response to a perceived threat. It triggers the body’s fight-or-flight response. Our heart rate increases, we become tense, and adrenaline, our stress hormone, releases, so we often spiral into reaction mode in order to protect ourselves.
Although we tend to view anger in negative light, I have come to learn that anger itself is a valid emotion, just like happiness or sadness. And it does, in fact, serve a valid purpose. Anger sends a message to our body and brain that something painful within us has been triggered and is asking to be acknowledged. In many cases, it signals that there is something much deeper, a wound that brings up vulnerability and pain.
We need to take a step back, go inward, and begin to explore where the triggers for these behaviors and reactions stem from.
Growing up, we are conditioned to behave in certain ways based on our environment and circumstances.
As children, certain behaviors are ingrained in us from our family and peers. We learn to mimic those around us—for example, how they communicate and respond to one another—and over time we implement those behaviors as our own. Not only do we mimic their behaviors; we also take on their fears and beliefs. Then, when something triggers these fears and beliefs, we react in order to protect ourselves.
When I began delving into the root cause of my reactions around finances, it surprised me to learn of the deep conditioning I had been living through my parents’ stories about money.
When I was growing up, my parents often struggled to make ends meet and were under a lot of financial pressure.
They did their best to protect my brother and me, attempting to not let their financial stress impact our lives. But the truth is, we cannot help but be conditioned by our environment. Unconsciously, we pick up on our parents’ energy and develop certain coping mechanisms and patterns that become deeply ingrained as we continue to carry them through life.
When I was able to look past the anger around my own financial insecurities, I discovered deep fears and vulnerability.
I was living with the painful belief that my partner and I would always struggle financially, that we would not be able to get by and would experience the same hardships that my parents did. This story was interwoven through my family, going back even further to when my grandparents and great grandparents lived through extreme poverty in Eastern Europe. This conditioning was so much deeper than I could ever imagine.
Identifying where these beliefs stemmed from gave me the insight to take a look at the bigger picture and understand the painful stories I had taken on as my own. It allowed me to take responsibility for my own destructive patterns. I was beginning to see how my reactions were triggered by an unconscious fear out of a need for survival.
Your triggers might be completely different, and they may pertain more to pain from your childhood than inherited beliefs and fears. For example, if your parents regularly shamed you for mistakes when you were a kid, you might react defensively whenever someone points out an area where you have room for improvement. Or, if you felt ignored growing up, you may have a knee-jerk reaction whenever someone can’t spend time with you.
The problem is, our conditioning is so deeply ingrained within us that we are not even aware of our reactions most of the time. They just become an automatic response. We cannot always recognize that we are simply replaying old patterns over and over again. We tend to blame external circumstances or others for causing our suffering.
We play the victim without realizing that we ourselves are the ones causing the drama and the pain around us.
I was at a point in my life where I need to make a choice: continue living my old patterns, which were causing negative reactions and suffering, or take responsibility and ask myself, “What is underneath my anger? What is the root cause of my suffering?”
When you look back to your past to understand your triggers, it will feel uncomfortable and challenging at times. But when you are able to sit with your emotions and delve a little deeper, you start breaking through your conditioned patterns and behaviors and set yourself free.
The only way forward is by choosing to do the work to get there.
It’s important to understand that our conditioning came from many years of reinforcing these old beliefs, so it is no surprise that change won’t happen overnight. We need be kind to ourselves through this process instead of judging ourselves and our mistakes, or beating ourselves up if we fall along the way. Each step we take brings us closer to breaking old patterns and forming new, positive ones.
So where to begin?
These are some techniques that have helped me on my journey toward breaking old patterns.
When you experience that old familiar feeling of anger or frustration bubbling up inside you, don’t react. Instead of erupting like a volcano pouring out hurtful words and reactions, try pausing for a moment.
Take some space to reflect and name the emotions that surface—maybe fear, resentment, shame, or desperation—and explore underneath the anger. Ask yourself, “What was triggered for me at this time?”
Don’t try to over-analyze the situation; just sit with the emotions and see what arises. Do you feel vulnerable or powerless, or a sense of sadness, betrayal, or fear?
Ask yourself, “Where do these emotions sit in my body? What are the sensations they present?”
Once again, don’t over analyze; just sit with the bodily sensations. Maybe you feel heat in your solar plexus or an aching in your heart. These sensations are asking for your acknowledgement; send them love.
Ask yourself, “How would I usually respond in this situation?” Maybe you would react by shouting, trying to push someone’s buttons, or become defensive.
Take the time to recognize your usual response and sit with it for a moment. Identify how this response may cause pain and suffering to yourself and others.
Ask yourself, “Am I acting from a place of love and kindness?”
By asking yourself this you take the focus off blaming others or the situation, you take responsibility for your own actions, and you reclaim your personal power.
By taking responsibility you are then able to consciously choose how you respond to any given situation. Remember, you don’t have control over how other people respond, but you do have 100 percent control over your response, and if it causes joy or suffering.
Remember you are acting out a conditioned behavior; it is your automatic response. When you practice awareness by identifying conditioned behaviors, you begin to take the power away from the old patterns and create space to form new positive ones.
It’s like rewriting your story. You have the power to recreate your story and transform old patterns into ones that serve you and align with your true essence and purpose in life.
Your conditioned responses and behaviors are your defense mechanisms, the coping strategies you learned to protect yourself in the world.
Acknowledge that you’ve always done your best based on what you learned growing up, and you’re now doing your best to change. If you struggle, treat yourself with kindness and compassion. It’s okay to make mistakes, don’t beat yourself up. Remember, every step you take brings you closer to personal freedom.
You may find it helpful to keep a journal to reflect on the above points when your old destructive patterns emerge. Journaling has been my savior during this process.
These techniques empowered me to recognize conditioned patterns and behaviors that were holding me back. They’ve also enabled me to communicate and connect with others positively and effectively. It’s not always easy to identify when you are acting out an old behavior, but the more you practice awareness when situations trigger you, the easier it will become to break these old patterns.
By Erin Grace
About Erin Grace
Erin Grace is a writer, Reiki Master, and founder of Story Bones, a self-healing platform inspired by her journey of self-discovery whilst battling mental health issues. Erin empowers individuals to transform their life, through challenging self-limiting beliefs and identifying how the stories of our past, shape our lives today. Get the FREE guide - Master your Story, Transform your Life.
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by CJ Kruse
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
Are you a badass woman? Of course you are!
Just because you’re a tough cookie, though, doesn’t mean you don’t struggle with issues.
No one’s 100% brave, bold, and perfect in every way 100% of the time (in spite of what they portray on Facebook). Am I right?
Sometimes, we have to trudge through some crap and clear up a little internal muck before we can truly stand strong and let our inner light shine for all to see.
One crippling fear that we absolutely must conquer on our path to greatness and personal freedom is the all-too-common fear of disappointing others.
How do you know if you’re afflicted with this soul-sucking, disabling fear?
Well, it usually looks something like this:
Most good-hearted people don’t like to disappoint others, of course, but for others, it goes much deeper than that.
The fear of disappointing others can be so pervasive and constant that anytime they need to interact with others, they experience physical symptoms of anxiety and fear. Maybe they get headaches, their palms get sweaty, or their stomach starts churning.
They’ve limited themselves so much by their desire to not displease others that they don’t even know who they truly are anymore. The needs, moods, and whims of others have taken precedence for so long that they are not even able to identify what they honestly feel inside or what they genuinely desire.
It gets worse:
Possibly the worst part of navigating the world with this onus hanging around your head is the utter sense of despair, powerlessness, and lack of self-esteem that comes with it.
Let me tell you something, though…
There’s bad news and there’s good news. I prefer to get bad news out of the way first, so…
Here’s the caveat:
Being stuck is a position few of us like. We want something new but cannot let go of the old – old ideas, beliefs, habits, even thoughts. We are out of contact with our own genius. Sometimes, we know we are stuck; sometimes we don’t. In both cases, we have to DO something.
The fear of disappointing others usually originates way back in our early childhood years. Back then, we used it to cope in a time and a place where it was necessary to please those who were bigger, stronger, and more powerful than us.
But while it was useful then, it’s harmful now. Usually, the fear of disappointing others has become so ingrained that we may not even realize all the ways we limit ourselves as a result.
The saddest part is when we don’t feel like we are even capable of demolishing it and banishing it from our lives forever. It has become an integral part of “who we are”.
Therefore, the bad news is that, since we’ve been letting it dictate our actions and reactions automatically and subconsciously for so long, it takes dedicated, persistent, and sometimes arduous work to expose it and tear it out by the roots.
Now that we understand the obstacles, we can focus on the GREAT news, though:
You most certainly CAN completely eradicate the fear of disappointing others so that you live more like this:
In other words, you live free:
Before we talk about how to make that a reality, though, let’s take a look at the most common reason why it exists in the first place…
For many people, the fear of disappointing others started way back in early childhood.
Parents or anyone with authority over you when you were young may have taught you that you had to earn their approval to get what you needed.
The message could come at you in many different ways, not just with words. Anyone who’s gotten “the look” from their mother or father will understand that you don’t need words to feel someone’s wrath or disappointment. But the message was always the same, “Do as I want you to or else I will punish or ostracize you”.
And what happens when you’re punished repeatedly as a kid?
You start to think, “I’m no good. I can’t please anyone or do anything right”. Shame and guilt set in, at least at first. Often, the message doesn’t come through as “You are a good person, but your actions are unacceptable”. Instead, the only message that gets through for many small kids is the one that says, “You are bad!”.
See the difference?
If you start believing that it’s about you and not about your actions, all sorts of repercussions pop up throughout your life as a result.
You doubt everything you say, do, or don’t do, because you’re afraid you’ll “make” someone mad or disappointed – or any other negative emotion. And if, God forbid, someone does get mad or disappointed by something you did, you feel, once again, that you’re a horrible person. It reinforces that old worry from childhood that you’re simply not good enough, you’ll be abandoned, and you’ll never get what you need. You think it’s “proof”.
In essence, it’s painful.
Have you ever had a splinter in your finger that you couldn’t remove?
It’s sore, but you just keep bumping it, which makes it hurt even more. You think, “I’ll just wrap it with gauze!”. But it still hurts when you bump it. So, you start using your other hand and try hiding the hand with the splinter. And you keep adjusting your actions so you don’t trigger that soreness.
When you truly believe that you may not be “good enough”, it’s the same thing. You adjust your whole life to avoid situations or people who might trigger that sore spot. You hyper-focus on what others want, feel, and need while suppressing your own wants and needs. You constantly look for facial expressions or small comments that indicate potential dissatisfaction.
When you’re around people, you simply must stop their disapproval before they laugh at you or “hate” you and prove once again that you’re “bad” or “unworthy”.
So, what do you do? You constantly adjust your behavior to appease them.
But none of your efforts will work long-term until you get rid of that splinter!
You have to change the root cause, which means changing your core belief. We’ll talk more about changing your beliefs later, but you need to internalize and knowwith 100% certainty that you don’t have to earn love and acceptance.
You are awesome.
Just the way you are.
Unless you’re a complete narcissistic, sociopathic asshole (and I’m pretty sure you’re not!), you deserve love, affection, and the freedom to be yourself, regardless of what others think.
When you encounter people who can’t see that – well, that really is their problem, not yours.
Anytime you rely on someone else for validation or a sense of worth, you’ll always be vulnerable – and let down.
Give yourself what you need.
If you love who you are and approve of yourself, it doesn’t matter whether there is a single soul on the face of the earth who agrees with you or not.
Once you know how wonderful you are, you don’t need someone “out there” to agree with or validate it for you.
I’m not saying it isn’t great when someone unconditionally sees your worth, because it is. But, it isn’t necessary.
For more on this subject, look inside:
by CJ Kruse
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
by Kathryn Sandford
In society today, knowing your purpose in life and what you should live for has become the major criteria for measuring how happy your life is. There is a lot of pressure to know your purpose in life, because if you don’t know, then the chances of you living a fulfilling and happy life are nil. This is absolute rubbish.
Ralph Emerson’s states in his quote that our purpose in life has nothing to do with happiness but more to do with how well we lived our lives. “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
That is the secret recipe to living a happy fulfilled life.
My best friend John suddenly passed away a few weeks ago. John was a person who lived a purposeful life that was centered on his commitment and love for his family and serving others.
John did not seek out his purpose in life. He didn’t read personal development books on how to find your life purpose and he never asked the question “what should I live for?” He just knew what gave him joy and that was to serve his family and the people who were in his life.
John was that person that Ralph Emerson was referring to in his quote: a man who showed compassion and kindness and who lived a full life with purpose and commitment.
John was not a famous man who had achieved world recognition for his amazing feats. He was my long-time friend, a truly great man who to me lived his life purpose to the fullest.
Not all of us are like John who just knew what his purpose in life was and then just did it. Some of us need guidance as to how we can start this journey…
Here are 3 very simple steps that if you follow will help you to attain purpose and fulfillment in life.
With social media, we are relentlessly exposed to thousands of people who present a life where they seem to be living incredibly fulfilled and successful lives with purpose.
It seems to be for many people that figuring out your life purpose today is complicated and a drawn out process that can take forever. This is in fact not true at all. On social media, you only see the fabulous and fun parts of peoples lives, you do not see their true life that can be as challenging and as complicated as yours. No one escapes the realities of life – those life curve-balls that come from nowhere.
If you are comparing your quality of life and your happiness with those people on social media, then you need to stop. You need to find your own measures of success as to what a fulfilled happy life means to you. Social Media will not give you what you are seeking when it comes to finding what it is that will bring joy to your life. When you are consistently experiencing joy in your life, you are living a purposeful life. You know what the kind of life you want to live that is important to you. Using other peoples experiences of joy on social media is not best way for you to determine your life purpose.
To start your journey to figuring out your purpose in life ask yourself these 3 key questions:
The answers to these 3 questions will help you determine your purpose in life.
Once you have defined these answers, the next step is for you is to take action and consistently demonstrate those qualities you believe are important for you to attain living a life with purpose and joy.
“You do not write your life with words. . . You write it with actions. What you think is not important. It is only important what you do”
— Patrick Ness
Discovering your purpose in life and what you should live for is the same for everyone in the world – rich or poor. Everyone has the opportunity to live life to the fullest. It is not complex, difficult or out of your reach. Finding your life purpose is very achievable. All you have to do is decide what it is that living a fulfilled happy life means to you and then you go do it. Go and be kind to others and live your life the best way you can every day.
Acts of kindness, generosity, gratitude and love are the core actions of living a life with purpose. If you focus on these actions on a daily basis, you will be living your life with purpose. It is at this point that the feelings of happiness fill your life.
The more you do for others, the more happy you will be.
When you are living your life with purpose, it does not mean that you will transform into living the life of an angel.
Remember your reality – you will still have your faults, make huge mistakes, fail and have to navigate your way through the challenges that life throws at you. However, living a life with purpose and commitment builds your resilience and enables you to deal with life challenges from a place of strength and certainty.
Your power of choice is the only thing that you have that enables you to live a life with purpose and joy. My friend John knew how to use his power of choice to the fullest. He chose to live a life with purpose and he knew what he had to do to bring joy into his life and to those people he loved – a very simple recipe to living life to the fullest.
The journey to knowing your life purpose and living your life purpose is within your reach. You are the only person who can do it and you have control over how you want to live your life.
Remember that nobody else does – it is all down to you.
I suggest that you go do it now!
What Is the Purpose of Life and What Should You Live For?
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by Rick Warren
A simple guide to be mindful throughout the day—whether you're washing the dishes, eating a snack, or sitting down to meditate.
By Jeffrey Brantley
Have you ever started eating an ice cream cone, taken a lick or two, then noticed all you had was a sticky napkin in your hand? Or been going somewhere and arrived at your destination only to realize you haven’t noticed anything or anyone you met along the way? Of course you have! These are common examples of “mindlessness,” or as some people put it, “going on automatic pilot.” Which may lead you to wonder—how can I bring more mindfulness into my everyday life?
We all fall into habits of mind and body, of attention and inattention, which result in our not being present for our own lives. The consequences of this inattention can be quite costly. They can result in our missing some really good things, and also in our ignoring really important information and messages about our life, our relationships, and even our own health.
We all fall into habits of mind and body, of attention and inattention, which result in our not being present for our own lives.
An important antidote to this tendency to “tune-out,” to go on “automatic pilot,” is to practice mindfulness. To practice mindfulness means to pay more careful attention in a particular way. We all have the quality of mindfulness in us. It is the quality of bare awareness that knows what is here in the present moment. Mindfulness knows what is going on outside, and also, inside our own skin.
Our reactions to the stressful events of our lives can become so habituated that they occur essentially out of our awareness, until, because of physical or emotional or psychological dysfunction, we cannot ignore them any longer. These reactions can include tensing the body, experiencing painful emotional states, even panic and depression, and being prisoners of habits of thinking and self-talk including obsessional list making, and intense, even toxic self-criticism.
All we have to do is to establish attention in the present moment, and to allow ourselves to be with what is here.
So, we can practice mindfulness and become more present. All we have to do is to establish attention in the present moment, and to allow ourselves to be with what is here. To rest in the awareness of what is here. To pay attention without trying to change anything. To allow ourselves to become more deeply and completely aware of what it is we are sensing. And to be with what it is we are experiencing. To rest in this quality of being, of being aware, in each moment as our life unfolds.
And, to the extent we can practice “being” and become more present and more aware of our life and in our life, the “doing” we do about all of it, will be more informed, more responsive, and less driven by the habits of reaction and inattention.
Make the effort! Whenever you think of it in your day or night, remember that you can be more mindful. See for yourself what it might be like to pay more careful attention and to allow yourself to experience directly what is here, especially including what is here in your own body, heart, and mind.
There are three simple ways you can add more mindfulness to your daily life:
In these situations, use the sensation of the breath as the “anchor” for awareness in the present moment. Establish mindfulness on the narrow focus of just the breath sensation. Allow yourself to feel the breath as it goes in, and goes out and the pause between in and out. Do not try to control the breath. Simply let it come and go. Bring as much attention, as completely and continuously as you can to the direct sensation of the breath.
After awhile, if you wish, when you have established awareness on the breath sensation, you could widen the focus to include all body sensations along with the breath sensation. Again, not trying to change anything at all. Simply allow yourself to feel, and be aware of the changing sensations in the body.
After awhile, again if you wish, you can further widen the focus to include all that is present. This means whatever you are hearing, seeing, tasting, smelling, touching, or even thinking. Just practice being with these different experiences as they unfold. Allowing yourself to feel your life in this moment. Resting in mindfulness, the open-hearted choiceless awareness of what is here in this moment.
Anytime you feel lost or confused or frustrated, gently narrow the focus and return awareness to the sensation of the breath. You may have to do this frequently. It is ok. Or you may wish to concentrate mainly on the breath, especially if you are new to meditation. That, too, is ok. The important thing is the quality of awareness you bring to the moment. One moment of mindfulness, one breath when we are truly present, can be quite profound. See for yourself.
You can practice mindfulness in this way throughout the day and night. Practice for a few breaths at a time, even for a few mindful moments. And, if you wish, you can make this a more “formal” meditation practice, by setting aside some time (from a few minutes to an hour or more, as you wish) free from other activity or distraction to devote full attention to simply being present, being mindful of what is present. Over time you may find that the “formal” practice supports and strengthens your ability to practice “informally” throughout the day and night in different situations.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Psychiatrist Jeffrey Brantley is the director of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program at Duke Integrative Medicine in Durham, North Carolina. He is author of Calming Your Angry Mind
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by Mario R. Flores