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Day 3 of the 3 Day Crash Course in Self-worth and Motivation

321Day 3 (Day 1 is here and Day 2 is here if you missed them.)

We are motivated when the cost of achieving those things we want to achieve outweighs the cost of staying where we are and continuing on. Most of us stay where we are because it’s easy. It costs us nothing new to stay in the same position. It may be costing us something we don’t like, whether it’s happiness, sanity, or even physical things like money, but if we are staying the same what we are saying is we are comfortable with the cost. Change requires something different. We have to take on a new cost. We have to venture into the unknown, which is a cost. It’s scary. It’s even scarier deciding that we are going to become who/what we want to become knowing that there is a chance of failure. The fear of failure is what often outweighs the cost of staying the same. Although, sometimes it is the fear of success that does it. We feel like we want a change, but if we are truly willing to go through with it then we are admitting to ourselves that we are worth it. We are worthy of the success. We feel like we truly, honestly deserve it. And then we name the things we did yesterday that weren’t perfect. We go back to the times we made the wrong choices. We think about the issues we had and continue to have, and all in an effort to remind ourselves that we really aren’t as deserving and worthy as we wish we were. So we stop ourselves. We stay put. We want to be brave, but we’re not sure we should be. We want to try, but we don’t know if we should succeed or why we should succeed. We compare ourselves to everyone, whether we know them or not. And we remind ourselves that this is why we are staying where we are.

This is the circle. Or really the cycle. We get it in, and we don’t know how to get out. We are right there at the edge, waiting for the cycle to change. We want it. We are pretty sure we do at least. We know we don’t want things to stay the same. So the issue becomes figuring out how to break the cycle. And the answer is simple, but hard – it boils down to choice. To making a choice to change, and to continuing to make the choice to stay out of the cycle. And that’s hard. Habits form deep ruts. Our neurons know how to operate. Their grooves are ready and well-worn, so jumping outside of them and going off-road is not an easy task. Our brains have a whole lot of work that they do each day. They have to perform efficiently. They fight change because they have to do more work now. They have to rewire the way our neurons think, the patterns they move in. They are designed to know what we are going to do next, how we are going to feel next. So when we change that, they’re not sure what to do, but they know it’s way more efficient to go back to the old way and that’s what they try to do. It calls us back. We have to consciously choose not to let it. We have to consciously say, “I know these issues are here. I know they exist. I know why my brain is fighting me on this right now, but I’m going to choose to stay on course,” because staying on course, continuing to make the different decisions is the only way to create a new groove. It’s the only way to provide staying power. Constantly, consistently make the choice. That is how change occurs.

So if we go back to what we have written out now from Day 1 and Day 2, we know who we are and where we are right now and we know who we want to be and where we want to be. So we have to make a map to get from right now to where we are planning to go. We always go one step at a time, so we would work on our top priority first and move down the list from there. Often times starting one change becomes a catalyst for the others. The rules are to keep it simple and keep it focused.

The example I’m going to use is one of the ways I started to change my thinking. I touched on it a bit yesterday I believe. I was always pretty pessimistic and negative. When I was beginning my final semester of my undergraduate coursework I read a book (The Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz – highly recommend it to everyone, seriously read it.) and in it one of the agreements is to Be Impeccable with Your Word. Part of this meant only saying things that were of value and true and that would pertain to growing and encouraging myself and others. During this point in time I started to notice how quick I was to judge others. I judged outfits, cars, imperfect speech, imperfect writing, anything I could notice to be negative about I was there. I began making a conscious effort then to replace those thoughts with positive thoughts. So when I would find myself thinking, “ewe look at those shoes,” I began stopping myself to disrupt the thought pattern and replacing it with something positive. It might have been, “we are all allowed to dress however we want to,” or “that is a person who I’ve never met and what they wear is not of consequence to me and I don’t need to judge it” or “I hope she has a good meal and that the rest of her evening goes well.” The last example became the one most frequently used as time went on. Initially it was hard. And it felt a bit daunting realizing just how much of my time I spent being negative. It was easy to try to say, “I must be a terrible person.” But that wasn’t helpful either, nor was it true. I was simply a human who had to work on retraining her way of thinking, and that was and still remains okay. But my way of thinking really did start to change. I became less negative and less judgmental. I focused more on encouragement and found myself a whole lot happier overall because of it.

The thing about being motivated to change our lives and take the steps we somewhere inside know we want to take is that we have to be willing to be honest with ourselves. We have to respect who we are enough and value who we are enough to say that this is who I am, this is who I want to be and I am willing to try to fulfill it. That first step is hard, self-worth is essential… and the journey is usually a lot longer than we hoped it would be. We have to be open to the fact that we are human. At some point things are going to get hard, people we hoped would help us won’t, things will probably get confusing and we will probably question why we made the choice in the first place and it is here that we have to go back to our map and remember where we really want to be and that there is a way to get there as long as we keep trying.

**** I know these were long and I apologize. It was hard to condense them, but it’s an issue people ask about a lot. The answer isn’t short, so thanks for reading them and I hope they helped. 🙂 and if you want a longer answer, you can look here

3 Day Crash Course in Self-worth and Motivation (Day 2)

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Day 2: (Day 1 is here if you missed it) Now that we have had the chance to look at ourselves in an honest and open format, it’s important to understand also, why we are where we are. In reality, we are usually where we are because we choose to be there. We made the choices on our path, and this is what they equaled out to. There are certain issues that cause us to move in certain directions, and there are things in life that are not within our control, but for the most part we are the guiding force in where we go and what we do each day.

We now have to begin to understand why we make the choices we make that lead us to where we are. We all have inherent predispositions that we are born with. Some of us are more likely to be shy and some more likely to be outgoing. Some of us are more likely to be tall, some short. Some of us are going to be more likely to be athletic. Some writers, some business-oriented, some introspective, some narcissistic (if you’re reading this, you’re probably not really.). Some of us have the capacity to be born understanding that we are worthy. We know that we are with a life that is going to be worth living. We have something to contribute. We can share that which we have, and we can make things better for those around us. We are worthy of the good things life has to offer inherently.

That last sentence is true for all of us. We are worthy. But for a good many of us (myself certainly included) this concept is not something we carry with us throughout our lifetime. We instead struggle with worth. And this may be things that appear small in nature. We have a bit of a tendency to be negative; when we are trying to make small talk our jokes tend be more like a slight (not necessarily intentional) than a joke, and we look for reasons things probably won’t work out. We have a tendency to be scared of change. To be scared or unwilling to go after our dreams, the things we really want. We might not even know what those things are because we are so certain they won’t happen, what’s the point in letting them in. We thought about them years ago, but life has happened since then. We know exactly why no one understands us. We aren’t sure anyone ever will. We settle. We let go. We give in. We can see those who clearly should be succeeding and pretend we certainly can’t ever be them, because we don’t have whatever manufactured attributes they do. We feel like we might deserve good things, but can think of 100 things we could have done differently that would probably make us much more deserving, so it’s probably right that we don’t have the things we want. Or that life isn’t the way we really wish it would be. We self-sabotage. We keep ourselves down.

All of these things are born out of fear. Fear tells us we aren’t worthy. And it happily lists all the reasons why. And when a person is inclined towards fear, it becomes really difficult to outmaneuver it. It guides our steps, gives us stress, and throws in some confusion just to make it that much harder to even think that things can stop. We don’t know how to think that life can be different, because fear tells us it can’t. And the only way to move out of fear is to realize that we are worthy. That I, the person sitting here staring at this screen, am someone who has worth. Not just a little bit. Not fleeting worth. But permanent lasting worth that does not go away, and it is up to me to recognize it and utilize it. No one can do it for me. Even if I don’t see it, it is there.

As we look at ourselves today our exercise is this: As we talk again to our friend, the goal to write out where we are and why we are here. We want to uncover what drives our decision making. Are we making our choices out of fear or out of hope and love. So we again make our lists:

Things I want to keep about where I am: the place I live, my family, my relationship status, my career, my plans for the future…etc. Again anything at all you want to keep about where you are in your life.

Things I want to change about where I am: the place I live, my family, my relationship status, my career, my plans…etc. Anything you want to change, and prioritize them.

Then we go through any specifics we have about the changes we want to make:

I want to move from a to b. I want to change my career from employee to assistant manager, or from business to dance. I want to go from this terrible relationship to being single and being okay being alone.

And then as we did yesterday, we have a positive foundation for where we are at this moment, we have things we want to change and what we want to change them into, and we have the understanding that we are capable and worthy of making these changes.

(For a more in depth look at the way self-worth, impacts our every day lives, it’s covered in my book )

3 Day Crash Course in Self-worth and Motivation

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I’ve had a lot of questions lately about getting started. People who are interested in understanding how to change their current circumstance in some way or another, or in most ways altogether. So I decided it might be a good idea to try to help by plotting out some initial groundwork, and well, since I have a blog, I decided to share it here. But since it will be long, I decided to break it up (It’s probably still long – apologies – it should be helpful though.)

Day 1:  To begin I always feel like it’s basically impossible to change anything we want if we haven’t had the chance to really evaluate some important things. The first two are: who we are and where we are – right here, right now. And these two can give us a foundation to work towards who we want to be and where we want to be. And one of the most important keys that influences all of these factors is self-worth. Obviously, I believe in understanding self-worth – I studied it while I was in graduate school (and beyond) and I wrote a book about it. And as we travel through these evaluations, it’s important to remember just how much of a navigational pull self-worth really has, so we will naturally begin uncovering our own individual feelings of self-worth and learning how to use our worth as a tool for success in our journey.

A while back there were some studies done that showed that there was a difference in levels of honesty between subjects who were sitting in a room writing about themselves where one room had a mirror sitting beside the table and the other simply a blank wall. When we are actually forced to stop and look and face ourselves, it’s different than the rest of the time when we can coast through largely ignoring things and knowing that we are planning on fixing whatever may need to be fixed “soon.” Part of this is helpful, we can’t function in panic-mode all the time, it’s not efficient. We have to compromise at certain points in time, it’s simply the way of life. But when we get lost and going along down the same road is no longer a viable option, we have to take the time to find out what is.

We start by looking at who we are. What we know to be true about ourselves where we are right now, in the moment. I was doing this exercise (that I will share next) a short while back sort of explaining it to someone, and I began talking about myself and I described a part of my past as “pathetic,” but I gave it a present-tense verb. I said, “I know, I’m pathetic.” And suddenly I realized that a part of me actually currently felt that way. It wasn’t a mistake. Maybe a Freudian slip, I suppose. And it was an issue I honestly had believe I had worked through all the way. And I started to panic a little, almost on the verge of tears, because I didn’t know what this meant. It had been a while since I had really sat down to look at where I was at and how I was coming along on my goals. I had started simply coasting, because I knew things were mostly going how I wanted them to go. The parts that weren’t technically had an easy fix, that I would “soon” engage in, but I thought I was good. Better than ever. So when I had this moment, I didn’t know how to handle it, and I had to take the time and look back into myself and see who I was, right there, right then to me.

The exercise is this: Describe who you are in writing as if in a conversation with someone who could be (or is) your best friend. This is someone you could tell all of your truths to, no judgment, only understanding.

The goal in this exercise is to uncover in a conversational manner how we feel about who we are right here, right now. So we write it out on paper, (or simply have the conversation in our minds if we don’t want to write it out right now, for whatever reason) and we have a starting point to gather who we are.

From this conversation we write down things we want to keep and (Separately) the things we want to change in order of priority. We want to begin to see who we are right now with a positive starting point and try to understand where we need to go to be closer to who we want to be. And we want to write down what we want to change those things we are displeased with into – what do we want the things we don’t like to become. And with this we have a positive foundation, a gauge of what we need to change and a sight for what we want to change into.

Examples would be:

1. Things I want to keep:  Empathy, desire/motivation to change, organizational habits, messiness, ability to love, workout habits, relationship skills, faith, competitive, happiness, etc…. the list can truly be anything you want to keep about you.

2. Things I want to change:  Negativity, judgment, lack of motivation, messiness, workout habits, faith, won’t let anyone in, (un)competitive, unhappiness, etc….again, the any of the things you want to change.

3. What I want these things to change into:  Negativity to positive attitude, build others up instead of discouraging them and/or judging them, from boredom to looking for ways to help out, from messy to organized, etc.

We are looking at helping ourselves to transform from who we are into who we truly want to be. It’s important to be honest, to be in depth, and to be willing to be open to the journey. All journeys take time, but to go on one we must be willing to step on board. Keep what you write or work really hard to remember what you created in your head. We’ll use them again, as this is our starting point.

Four truths Dr. Maya Angelou shared with the world

 

Truth is something that can appear to be quite elusive these days. It’s very easy to find half-truths or outright lies, misconceptions, misunderstandings; they are all sitting at our fingertips. So when I find truths that speak to me, that resonate within me in a way that I know in my core this is truth, I try to pay attention.

Maya Angelou was someone I had heard of in high school. We may have read a poem or two, if so I honestly don’t remember. It wasn’t until college that I took more of an interest in her, and in reality it’s probably because I saw her on Oprah. I have a tendency to cringe when speech is seemingly deliberate. When I can tell someone has thoroughly thought through what they are saying and they say it in a very matter of fact manner. I don’t know why. But I typically disengage. So to watch Maya Angelou speak and find myself literally on the edge of my seat feeling as though I am being pulled in a little bit nearer to her with each word was extremely unexpected. She spoke in a very deliberate manner, she knew what she was saying, but this time it was different for me. She was speaking in truth. Every word was one I wanted to hear, and I was glad she spoke with such clarity both in pronunciation and in point. And since truth, as I stated can be hard to come by, I wanted to make sure I shared some of it here, by way of Dr. Angelou.

1.“When people show you who they are believe them (the first time).”

I have found this to be true time and time again. Whether it is in a relationship romantic in nature, a friendship, family members, whomever we have in our lives, people will show us who they are. If someone tells you they are mean, believe them. If someone tells you they don’t care, believe them. If they say they just want to have fun, believe them. If they cheat on you, ignore you, make it a point to hurt you, believe them the first time. They are showing you who they are, and they are making it clear they have no intentions of changing this for you. Once a person shows us what they plan to do, and we stick around, then that is our poor choice. They will easily have the chance to say, “well you already knew” and use it as an excuse. And sadly, they won’t be entirely wrong. We have to learn that being a savior is not supposed to be the same as being a victim. So staying somewhere that is harmful to us to stick it out, to be strong, because we love them and we know they love us if we could just get them to change just one more time is never an excuse. We are saving no one and in trying to do so are only creating inequality within the relationship. We must pay attention to what people tell us about themselves and have enough worth about ourselves to be willing to let it go.

 

2. “…and if the future road looms ominous or unpromising, and the roads back uninviting, then we need to gather our resolve and, carrying only the necessary baggage, step off that road into another direction. If the new choice is also unpalatable, without embarrassment, we must be ready to change that as well.”

This quote comes from her essay titled New Directions. And it continues along very well with the previous quote. Many times we don’t leave a situation because we’ve planned out a future in our heads. We have something, and maybe we are only holding on by a rapidly fraying string, but we are holding on. There is something in front of us. But when our vision of the future does not match the reality of our future, there is a problem. If we truly stop and look down the road ahead, which most often will look like the road behind and it in no way is a path we should continue down, we must be willing to stop and change directions. We have to let go. We have to imagine a future that is different. We must be willing to try, and not only once, but as many times as it takes to get us to where the future we are imagining has the capacity to line up with the future coming to life in our reality. Whether it’s a career change, a relationship change, or even family that is harming us, we must care enough for ourselves to forge onward towards better things.

3. “It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive. Forgive everybody.”

And on our path to our new places we must let go of the past, lighten our load and forgive. We must be willing to admit to ourselves that we acknowledge what has happened, we understand that we were deeply hurt whether emotionally or physically, whether from and outside source or something we did to ourselves, we must look at the moment for what it is and find a way to release it. It is the only way to move forward successfully. We cannot let those moments define us. We know that they exist. They aren’t likely to be things that we forget. But they are things that we can move forward from without allowing them to control us. Forgiveness is truly one of the greatest gifts we can give to ourselves.

4. “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

In life we all have choices that we make every day. One of the most important choices we make is how we treat others. None of us were immune to people coming into our lives and making us feel bad. As children someone hurt us. Well, in all likelihood, multiple people. Children can be cruel. Adults can be cruel. We are all humans exposed to other humans, and that means life isn’t always going to be pretty. So each day we must make a choice to treat others the way we truly want to be treated. So we must believe ourselves worthy of the treatment we extend to others. We must know that we have the chance to grow a person, to encourage them or to bring them down, and it is essential that we become growers of others. We know how people made us feel. It lasts. We remember being scared, we remember being hurt, we remember being outcast, feeling alone and desolate, that no one else understands or cares. We remember these things because they made us feel like we didn’t matter. And that is not acceptable. We cannot continue a culture of people whose only goal is to make people feel this way. We must do what we can to acknowledge and accept our own worth and love ourselves enough to recognize and grow this in others. To be encouragers and walk in light so that others may follow. So that we can all know truth.

This is an excerpt from one of my favorite parts of her Master Class with Oprah: “to be the best human being you can be” (in every situation)

 

 

Why can’t we be friends?

I happened to be on a news site earlier, and I read the article. I never normally scroll all the way down, but this time my computer decided to make the jump for me. I guess I’ve never paid an excessive amount of attention to the comment section at the bottom of online news pieces, but since my computer decided to freeze there, I took a minute to peruse the comments. I’m not sure what I expected, but the venom injected into so many of the comments was jarring. People are looking to fight. Looking to be mean. Seemingly looking to make others feel terrible about their own ideas or any idea that may be in any way different from what said commenter has decided is the “right way” to feel.

Now, I know people are mean online. I know people are looking to say ridiculous things. But it made me think about just how much time and energy is put into this kind of thinking. And not even in an “internet troll” type of way, but every day. (I just learned what internet trolling is, I’m behind.) We are so comparative in the way we view ourselves. We look at others to judge what they are wearing, what they are eating, what they are thinking. The sole purpose is to judge. If you’ve ever read The Four Agreements, by don Miguel Ruiz, the first agreement is to “Be Impeccable with Your Word.” And by this he means that we have to understand the power of our words, the impact that they have on others, but also on ourselves. Those are our thoughts. That’s what we are spending our time, energy and brain power thinking about. In essence, we are thinking about “how can I look at that person in a way that makes me feel better about the choices I’ve made?” We use looking at others and thinking about them as reinforcement for who we are, but when all we are is someone who spends all their time judging others, we are contributing very little to who we can be. That is time that we don’t get back.

There is so much criticism about everyone’s choices (and media surely plays into this) that we forget that everyone here is just human. We are all people trying to live our lives as best we can at each point in the day. We all have lows, we all have highs. We ALL make mistakes. We make poor choices. We say the wrong thing. We engage in things we know we shouldn’t. We all get sad. We all get mad. We all get confused. We are alive. So wouldn’t our time be much better spent building one another up, recognizing that we all fall short sometimes and instead of judging others on what we perceive to be shortcomings, encouraging one another. Not saying, “hey why are you doing that or why are you wearing that?” and instead allowing it to be okay for someone to make different choices than we might. (Unless of course their choices are putting them in danger – this is a completely different subject – always try to find someone who can help in that case!)

There is so much negativity in the world. Instead of feeding into it, create a spark against it. Feed encouragement. Feed hope. Feed kindness and love. THESE are the things we need more of, all of us. Kind words help us climb peaks. They help us reach the summit. And as we speak them they transform us into the kind of person we want to be. Someone who makes the world a better place. Kindness makes us a contributor. It is through our actions that people learn who we are. It’s up to us to make our actions count.

It’s Monday morning, what’s on your horizon?

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It’s Monday morning. The start to a new week. The first week of July. The year is now just more than half-way completed. And though this fact is slightly frustrating for me, because time seems to incessantly fly these days, I decided I would make sure to do everything I can to make this week a great week.

I have no plans other than working. But I do realize that we have the chance to start off each week with the expectation of having a great week, and with the capacity to do what we can to make it so. If we think of the things we want to happen during a week, the things that we can do each day that will bring us closer to who we want to be then we can map out a week that makes us feel accomplished. So I’m making it a point to add in the things that I have been delaying doing (talking to bookstores about my book) and making excuses for doing (I will exercise today, despite the heat and despite having Jack with me).

With each new week, we have the chance to make it a week worth our time. And to do this we fill our time with things that are worthwhile. There are things we have to do in life, things we need to do in life, and things we want to do with our lives. When the things we want to do take on the role of things we have to do and need to do we make them a priority. If we don’t make the things we want in life a priority, then we will never look back and see them done. It’s okay doing the things we may not want to do, if we are also doing the things that make us feel like us. The things that make us feel like we are becoming the person we want to be. We can achieve happiness through the tiniest of actions, as long as those actions line up with who we want to be. As we take the time to remember that our dreams are worth accomplishing, our time is worth spending well, our hopes are worth believing, then we can take time each day to make our day great. And this can turn into a great week. Which turns into a great month. And then a great year. And eventually we will see a great life. A life where we filled our weeks and our days, our time, with the things we loved and felt were worthwhile. We lived a life of worth and hope. And when we do that, we find happiness and by default we share it with others.

So this week as you get the chance to choose how to spend your time, spend it making the week great. Make it a point to incorporate the things you need to look back and say, “This was a great week!” Take the time to look back and feel like you are making it a point to become the person you want to be.

Happy Monday everyone!

 

(and you know, if you need a good read for the week, my book will be on sale through Saturday for .99 on Amazon. Where else can you buy happiness for a dollar??)

Keeping your head up while riding the waves

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Tonight while I was washing Jack’s hair, he kept putting his head down and the shampoo would get in his eyes. We have this issue reemerge every so often. I continuously tell him that if he would just keep his head up, he wouldn’t have that problem, nothing would get in his eyes, and the shampoo wouldn’t hurt him. And tonight when I told him that, it hit me just how much that idea really applies to our lives in general.

It’s easy to just put our heads down when we feel like something is coming at us or we are worried we are going to get hurt or times are hard. We can sense the danger, so we try to close our eyes and hide our heads away, but in reality this only causes more problems. Instead of escaping the issue, we’ve actually made it worse.

When we put our head down the water rushes over us. It gets in our eyes. We can’t see. It becomes confusing. Sometimes we even start to breathe the water in as we start to panic. The situation worsens. We start to choke. It’s hard to breathe, we can’t find the air. When if only we would life our heads up, we wouldn’t have the problem anymore.

We have to keep our heads high when that barrage of negativity comes at us. We have to choose to look up, even if it’s scary, even if we want to run. When we know that there is the potential to get hurt. We have to take on the world face to face, head held high if we are going to survive the wave, or even have the chance to ride the wave. We can’t see anything if our eyes aren’t open, if our heads are down. Look at the world, look at the wave, and choose to take it on. Even if it knocks you down, when your head is above water you know where you’re at and how to get back up. You’re still in control. You’re still in the fight.

 

**I keep trying to respond to the comments I haven’t yet, and it keeps telling me that it’s an invalid request – that’s also happening with this post, so if this ever does post, I’m not ignoring anyone, my blog is just being weird. I’ve asked for help!

 

Sometimes it takes crashing and burning to find out we know how to fly.

Sometimes it takes crashing down onto the ground to realize what’s actually wrong. We have these skills that allow us to be really good at ignoring the things in our lives that we don’t want to pay attention to. In general, it’s necessary that we don’t pay attention to everything and only give large amounts of our attention to a small number of things at any given time. We can’t function if we are taking in every single thing that comes at us all the time so selectivity is important.

The downside to that is, we have a tendency to misuse this ability. We are really good at being able to pretend that things are different than they really are. We are good at pretending our relationships are sound, when we know that they aren’t. We are good at pretending that next year we will get our lives in order, when we know that we won’t. We are good at pretending we will look for a new job next week, and go back to school next semester. We are good at pretending that we will start our workout routine tomorrow, because we have a lot going on today and it’s really hard to exercise with no one to help me watch Jack (and I totally swam some today, so it does too count, stop telling me it doesn’t!). Okay so maybe that last one was mostly me. But that’s not the point.

The point is, we make priorities. Certain things get put on the back burner. Unfortunately, that back burner is still on. Maybe it’s on low, but if you continuously leave something sitting over an open flame, at some point in time it’s likely to catch on fire. And then that thing that you were planning to do, that thing that you really need to pay attention to ends up going up in flames. And once it’s on fire, that’s when we start to take notice.

Unfortunately it’s a lot harder to fix something once it’s been damaged. It’s not impossible, but it’s a lot harder. If instead of ignoring the problems in the relationship, we had worked on them or at least acknowledged them, we’d be in a better position to keep it. Because it isn’t always that we want to let go, it’s just that we’ve gone too far to know how to get back. And when we’ve been out of school for so long, it’s hard to deal with being older than everyone and going back into an environment where our lifestyle is different than most of the people around us. Fitting things in with our schedules or lack of schedules gets frustrating when there’s not a simple fix and it’s going to require time and effort.

But once that fire is lit, once we start to crash towards the ground, that’s when we open our eyes. That’s when we realize something needs to happen. When that line is crossed and we’ve reached the point of no return. Things cannot stay the same any more. And those are the moments when we finally make the choice to change and to act. Sometimes it takes crashing and burning to find out how we know how to fly.

*Just*ification – Don’t let your time settle

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When I was considering what I wanted to do for my career I used to use the word “just” a lot. If I could just make enough money then the job doesn’t matter. If I could just work in this city, then I wouldn’t care what I was doing. If I could just have my dream job fall in my lap that would be fantastic! : ) If I could just do something I’m halfway interested in, then I’d be fine.

Unfortunately, I was never fine doing any of the things that I just wanted to do. Now there are circumstances where we have to JUST do something. Our livelihood depends on it. We have to be able to provide for ourselves. And that’s okay. And we can be okay in that, as long as we are continuing to work towards the things we truly want as well. It turns out a lot of the things we just want are fairly easy to come by. At least at first.

When we just want a job, there are jobs that don’t require any background at all, it’s just that it’s hard to make a living with those. But when we want a job that pays well, that we enjoy doing, and that allows us to feel like we aren’t settling, that’s a bit harder to come by. We justify the places we are at in a variety of ways. We have plans to move on to something  else one day, we have to have some means of survival, we are in a safe place, and bad things can happen if we move outside of that comfort zone.

But what it’s important to remember is that it’s not necessary to justify not settling. No one else has to understand it. Only you, because you know what makes you happy. You know what will allow you to be fulfilled in your life. So maybe you have to work a job that is a just job. But that doesn’t mean you don’t continue to take the steps you need to feel fulfilled. You continue to paint, you continue to cook, you continue to look into classes for school, you continue to exercise, you continue to write, you continue to volunteer, you continue to find whatever it is that has the potential to make you feel like you are spending that time in a meaningful manner. Something that makes you have a spot of certain happiness and accomplishment. Continue to pursue that part of you that doesn’t make you qualify it with just. Don’t let the just define your life. Let it pass by as it does while you are on your way to being who you want to be and doing what you want to do. Let your time count. Don’t let your time settle. Because each day the sun will set and you won’t get it back. But if each day you make your time count, if you spend some time outside of the just then each sunset brings a sense of fulfillment.

– I thought I posted this yesterday… I wondered why no one at all had even like it, and it turned out I hit save as draft… Ah, technology and me! 🙂

Jumping the groove: The power of choice

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Having a background in psychology and always being fascinated by the power of the mind, I love watching what unfolds as we utilize our thoughts. The things we think and the things we believe matter. In general the things that happen inside of our minds are quite cyclical and reciprocal. The things we think now influence the things we think next. So what we thought yesterday influences how we think today. And how we think today influences how we will think tomorrow. The more we reinforce these thoughts, the stronger they become. The more we continue in the same pattern, the more easily the habit forms.

So we have this continuous cycle of thoughts, they affect the future, they affect the now, and they feed off of themselves to make their neural pathways just a little bit quicker and stronger with each thought. Our brains work the way most things do, they search for efficiency. So our thoughts form pathways that often become similar to a groove in the road. It’s a well-worn path and it’s cut through the field, so when we try to change those thoughts, we have to work a little bit harder to jump up over those grooves and form a new path where one didn’t previously exist.

The thing is, it really just takes one thought to start to jump up over the grooves. We have to believe. We have to deliberately get off of the path of least resistance, and make a decision we don’t normally make. For me, when I was making the choice to be happy, it was a deliberate thought. I had formed a very well-worn path of unhappiness, and changing that took time. But the first time I jumped up off of that path, the first time I believed that I wanted to change, I jumped up over the groove and started a new connection.

I lit a pathway that had previously been darkened. It was unfamiliar, and a little bit scary, and in the beginning, I wasn’t sure it would hold out. After all, I didn’t have to put thought into being unhappy, I just was. But I believed enough to try. So I tried one day. And then I tried again the next. I would write it in my journal at night that I chose to be happy today, and in the mornings, I would write reminders for myself that I would choose to be happy throughout the day. And even though it took some time, each day it got easier. Each day I believed that I could be happy, that I wanted to be happy, and my thoughts jumped out of the groove each time, and traveled that new path each time. As the days went on it was easier and easier to be happy, the new path was become better-traveled, and its own grooves were forming. Until one day I didn’t have to think about it. It had become my new habit. I didn’t give it thought. It didn’t take effort for me to remember. It simply was. The same as my unhappiness used to be.

Our ability to tap into our own minds is our strongest resource. Our ability to choose, our freewill, makes us powerful. It is the only true control we have, which is over ourselves. It’s hard. Sometimes it takes help from others. But the moment we believe, we have the capacity to jump the groove.

I also want to say how thankful I am for all of the support for my book from everyone over the past few days! I honestly don’t have words to say how amazing you all have been. Thank you so, so much!

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