Have you ever seen one of those videos on social media showing how you’ve been using certain products, or eating certain foods, wrong your whole life? And you say to yourself, “Wow! I never thought of doing it that way!” That’s a little like how I felt when my personal growth mentor (and future husband) gave me some insights on the life challenges I was struggling to resolve when we were first dating.
These insights turned my whole world upside down! I couldn’t unlearn what I had learned, so I had to change my old ways of functioning if I wanted to move forward. It was hard, but it was worth it.
Here are the 3 life changing insights I learned that can change your life:
1. If what you think, what you do, and what you say don’t line up, it can hurt your self-esteem and your credibility.
I said and did things that represented the person I wanted to be on the outside, while I hid the things I wasn’t proud of and lied just to keep on people’s good sides. My mentor figured this dishonest behavior probably was connected to the low self-esteem I struggled with (which affected everything in my life), and he was right!
Besides hurting how I felt about myself, he pointed out, I could lose my friends’ or family’s trust the second anyone found out I wasn’t being genuine. He said if you want people to be able to count on you, you need to actually be the person you present yourself to be.
I practiced paying attention and catching myself every time I was being dishonest. It can take a lot of work, but if you get your values/beliefs, words, and actions in alignment, the person people see is the person that you are. Some will like it and others will hate it, but those who stick with you are the ones who appreciate, respect, and admire you for who you are not for the image of yourself you present.
You will feel better about who you are, your relationships will benefit because people will trust you, and your word will actually mean something.
“Hiding how you really feel and trying to make everyone else happy doesn’t make you nice, it just makes you a liar.” – Jenny O’Connell
2. What you believe about yourself dictates what you choose to say; but what you choose to say also dictates what you believe about yourself.
Another way I was unknowingly limiting myself was through my language. It seems like common sense that what you say aloud reflects what you believe, but what surprised me was that you can also reprogram your beliefs with what you chose to say.
Say “I need this” enough times when the truth is you want it, and you will begin to believe that you need it. Limiting words are things like can’t, always, never, and need. Non-limiting words/phrases are things like seems like, feels like, and right now.
For example, the statement “I can’t handle my life – it’s too hectic” makes you feel hopeless and disempowered, versus “I’m struggling to handle my life right now,” which reminds you that what you’re going through is temporary, and there’s hope for change in the future. The truth isn’t that you “can’t do it,” the truth is that you’re having a hard time “right now.
Whether you use limiting words/phrases about your abilities aloud or to yourself, you’re teaching your mind what to believe. Instead of using limiting words and phrases that aren’t true, try switching to more accurate and encouraging ones. Such as seems like, feels like, or right now.
3. You don’t need to control how you feel – you need to control how you act.
Trying to control your emotions is like trying to control waves in the ocean, you just can’t do it. And to make things worse, the harder you try the more frustrated you get – adding to your emotional overload. It wastes a ton of energy and gets you nowhere.
Instead, try to let your feelings be; realize that they will pass and focus on what you can control – what you say and how you act. You can feel angry but still talk calmly with the person you’re angry with. You can feel hurt but not treat the person you feel hurt by coldly or rudely.
Not being aware of the separation between feelings and actions can get you into a ton of trouble. I used to believe that if my feelings were strong enough I couldn’t help but act on them. Absolutely not true! This got me into trouble bigtime when I was younger.
I therefore believed that in order to act how I wanted I had to control how I felt. Learning that this too was complete B.S. changed my life. I no longer felt I had to put energy into doing something that was impossible.
“Heroes and cowards feel exactly the same fear. Heroes just react to it differently.” – Cus D’Amato
Wondering how to put these insights into action?
Start by growing your self awareness – this is the beginning of all growth. If you pay attention to yourself, you can align your values, words, and actions for a better relationship with yourself and with others, help make your mind work for you instead of against you, and handle overwhelming emotions without doing things you’ll regret later.
What insights have you learned that helped you see the world and/or yourself in a new and positive light? Let us know in the comments!
Image courtesy of Twenty20.com
Meditation for Beginners: How It Works and Where to Start
Meditation was first developed in India many years ago (around 5000-3500 BCE). It took quite some time to become popular in the western world, but today, it is celebrated as a therapeutic tool to ease stress, anxiety, depression, and addictions. In the past years, it has also become recognized as helping to improve mental performance, and consequently became a multi-billion dollar business. If you’ve never tried it, you may be wondering how something so simple as sitting with your eyes closed could deliver such incredible benefits.
How meditation works
Meditation is about training in awareness and getting a healthy sense of perspective over one’s thoughts. Many think that meditating is about trying to achieve a zen state of mind, but that’s not the point. Observing one’s thoughts, and then letting go of them so that eventually you may start to better understand them, is the real goal of each meditation practice.
There are different techniques to go through this mental process. Some focus on the breath and bodily sensation, others make you visualize an object, and others help you to channel your thoughts towards acts of love and kindness.
A typical meditation session involves you sitting on a chair or cross-legged on the floor with your eyes closed. Once you assume a comfortable position and focus on your breath, you should start noticing your thoughts. At this point, according to what type of technique you’re using, you will try to let those thoughts go away by focusing on something else (this could be your breath or a mental image you created).
With time and practice, you may be able to reach a state of mind where very few thoughts (or none) are present. Despite the simplicity of this process, meditating for more than ten minutes is extremely tough for most. Many people that try meditation get discouraged by the fact that “they can’t stop thinking.” In fact, it has been proven that people spend most of their days being anything but mindful and peaceful.
In a 2010 study, Harvard researchers asked more than 2000 adults about their thoughts and actions at random moments throughout their day via an iPhone app. People’s minds wandered 47% of the time, and mind wandering often triggered unhappiness, the scientists reported.
They also observed that spending time observing our thoughts without getting stuck on them, may help to better understand oneself, and possibly being able to reduce the number of negative thoughts one experiences.
“The mind is definitely something that can be transformed, and meditation is a means to transform it.” – Dalai Lama
What science says about meditation
People have practiced meditation for thousands of years, but scientists have studied its effects for only a dozen. In the past few years, many studies have been published about the neurological benefits of meditation, proving it to improve brain function in many different ways.
Meditation’s benefits range from preserving the aging brain, to improving happiness by reducing the activity of the brain’s “me center” (monkey mind). A more recent study has even proven that meditation is as powerful as antidepressants in treating depression, anxiety, and pain. Many more studies are being conducted every day on meditation, and we can expect to gain a lot more insight in the near future.
Can anyone meditate?
Millions of people are practicing mindfulness meditation every day with great results, but there are also as many people that have tried meditating and didn’t like it or didn’t manage to be consistent with their practice. The most important part of developing a meditation practice is consistency. You don’t have to meditate every single day, but the benefits are tied to regular, consistent practice.
Some studies claim that some benefits of meditation such as improved mood, decreased stress and decreased blood pressure, can be felt after a single session. Some other benefits like increased focus and decreased anxiety may be experienced after a few weeks and others take longer to develop.
Some people claim that as little as five minutes of meditation per day can make miracles, but research shows that a regular practice associated with benefits involves 10-20 minutes of meditation at least three times per week.
“Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more.” – Mother Teresa
What’s the best way to begin a meditation practice?
A good place to start for aspiring mediators is Headspace. Andy Puddicombe, a former English student in sport science, dropped his studies to travel to Asia and trained as a Buddhist monk. He created Headspace with the goal of helping millions of people to live a more mindful life. Over 30 million people have downloaded and use headspace. This is due to his simplicity and its beautiful design and animations.
Do you meditate? If so, what’s your favorite aspect of it? Share your thoughts below!
What The Lion King Can Teach You About Self-Esteem
Did you know that having high self-esteem can make the difference between being truly successful or a total loser? If you’re suffering from low self-esteem, your success probabilities are highly impaired because your confidence level will be reflected in all the areas of your life without discrimination.
You’re Not Alone
Maybe you think that you’re born insecure and that there’s no cure for that. Perhaps you believe you can change, but you don’t know how to make that transformation happen. The good news is you can change. Your self-esteem level is something that can be hacked, just like any other psychological factor.
However, what if your disbelief in improving your self-esteem is the real cause to why you’re still stuck? Keep reading because in this article I’ll give you 3 simple tips with which you can raise your self-esteem today.
Self-esteem, as the American psychologist Nathaniel Branden said, is the psychological condition when we feel effective in front life’s challenges and when we feel worthy of success and happiness. As I said before, everybody can increase their self-esteem levels naturally. The bad news is that authentic self-esteem never comes for free, and we need to work hard to grow our self-esteem through our thoughts and actions.
“A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.” – Mark Twain
What ‘The Lion King’ Can Teach You About Self-Esteem
To help you better grasp this concept, I will refer to my favorite Disney classic, the Lion King. When Simba’s father (Mufasa) died after having been hit by the herd of wildebeests, he was advised by Scar (his uncle) to leave his father’s kingdom and never to come back since Scar made Simba believe that Mufasa’s death was his fault.
Simba left the kingdom with a heavy feeling of guilt, consequently losing his own identity and self-confidence. He had also lost his primary reference point in life, his father, who taught him everything about life on the savannah, and the natural order of the “Circle of Life” that had to be respected to make everything function harmoniously.
Simba was supposed to be the next king of the savannah, but he didn’t feel confident to come back and reign over the animal kingdom. He also didn’t feel worthy of the king role he was destined to have because his true identity had been taken away.
Only when he meets Rafiki (that holds the position of wise mentor), he goes through a forest (his subconscious mind) and arrives at a small pool (his subconscious self-image) where Mufasa appears again in the form of a reflection. Then, Simba gets into a trance-like state where he has the vision of his father taking the nebulous form of a cloud that tells him, “remember who you are.”
The trance state is so deep that Simba is shocked by his vision and realizes who he really is along with his role in the circle of life. He thus gets back his self-worth and self-confidence, along with the drive to come back to the animal kingdom to bring the order back again.
As you can see, this cartoon that is destined to children, holds so many truths that we adults can benefit from as well.
My Struggle With Low Self-Esteem
In my personal experience, I also had periods of time where I lost my identity and struggled with my own self-worth. An example was after I had been bullied during my teenage years,
I didn’t feel worthy anymore to succeed, and I sabotaged myself many times on various occasions, especially with women as I didn’t feel enough for their attention and love. Then, I realized that I had let those bullies take control of my self-worth that was indeed intact before being insulted.
I had allowed the bullies to transfer their problems onto me, just like Scar influenced Simba because of how much he hated himself and his life. As soon as I got this awareness, I started to gain my power back because I knew that deep within me, I had so much potential to express. That was my story, but this post is for you, so it’s time to talk about how you can raise your self-esteem.
Here are the 3 steps you can apply from today to build your self esteem:
1. Remember Who You Are
Remember who you are. Remember your true identity that might have been stolen from you from somebody else as it happened to Simba in The Lion King or to me after having been bullied.
To understand this, you can ask yourself the following questions: Who are you at your best moments? Who are you when nobody’s watching? Which kind of person are you deep within?
Only by knowing what your strengths are, you can leverage them to reach the goals you really care about faster and more effectively. Everybody has some strengths; we just need to have enough self-awareness to understand what those strengths are and use them to our advantage.
“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger
3. Acknowledge Your Weaknesses
You also need to know what your weaknesses are because we all have vulnerabilities and unless we spot, acknowledge, and accept them, we can’t really unleash our full self-acceptance.
That’s true because our weaknesses are what make us imperfect and thus humans. Moreover, the acceptance of your weaknesses is another way to raise your self-esteem and to get help from other people that can complement your shortcomings with their strengths.
To conclude, your self-esteem levels will highly determine how successful you’ll become in any area of your life. Everybody has to find his or her worth and confidence within, and unless you see it for yourself, nobody will ever be able to give it to you as that’s something that even the richest man in the world can’t buy with his billions.
Self-esteem must be cultivated consistently and, if you do this, then a tremendous amount of self-confidence and self-respect will be naturally brought to you.
How do you cultivate your own self-esteem so you remain strong and level-headed? Share your thoughts with us below!
How to Harness the Power of Your Personal Narrative
Are you “living up” or “living down” to your personal narrative? When you set out to achieve an important goal, you’ll come face-to-face with many obstacles, such as starting a new business and not having your prospects reply to your prospecting emails. Perhaps you’ve had an interview for a new job and learned you didn’t make the final round of applicants.
In those difficult moments, you have to have an internal conversation with yourself, known as self-talk. What do you say? How do you feel? You may find yourself succumbing to negativity or failing to believe in your own self-worth. If so, it’s nothing to be ashamed of. We’re all easily overwhelmed by our doubts and fears, because it’s what makes us human.
However, these feelings can not only shape a sense of identity, but also allow our doubt and fear to determine the outcome. When this happens, it’s vital to understand how to have the courage and conviction to move forward despite the obstacles. This includes moving forward in the midst of struggling, even when success seems lightyears away. This may seem daunting, but the answer is right in front of us. It lies in our personal narrative.
“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” – Walt Disney
What is a personal narrative?
A personal narrative is a life-script that is often followed without question or protest. The conversations you have internally, known as self-talk, make up the core component to our personal narrative. Your self talk represents a powerful belief system that’s baked into our day-to-day existence.
Each of us possess a personal narrative that encompasses a belief system that shapes us and what we see as possible in our lives. As a result, we either live up or live down to that personal narrative.
While a personal narrative is the starting place, it’s a powerful one. On one hand, when a negative narrative becomes suffocating, it can be hard to escape. This will lead you to foster the belief that you’re incapable of accomplishing something, ensuring that you’ll be less likely to continue to take the necessary steps in the direction of a dream.
Your narrative may be so powerful that you may just assume the worst, ending any possibility for you to put in the necessary time, effort and perseverance required to achieve a different outcome.
“The inner speech, your thoughts, can cause you to be rich or poor, loved or unloved, happy or unhappy, attractive or unattractive, powerful or weak.” – Ralph Charell
Cultivating positive narratives
On the other hand, what if we possessed personal narratives that were more positive? This is not just positive thinking, because it is the practice of consciously cultivating a narrative that you could live up to instead. Imagine how a more positive narrative could support more preferable outcomes.
In life, this may sound like, “I plan to do well in this interview, so I am going to take every action to support that expectation – like working with a career coach.” Or it may sound like, “Because I am someone who tries hard even when I am overwhelmed or uncomfortable, I am going to ask for help if I feel stuck.” That way, when a challenge arises – as they always do, you will grow to trust in your ability to navigate it.
The more you practice this, the more you will come to realize that your personal narrative really represents the essence of who you are. Your self-talk will evolve into someone who plans to do well during an interview, a business meeting, or a workout class because you become someone who invests in their personal well-being as an extension of your self-concept.
Cultivating positive narratives is not a what-if situation. It is an intentional practice that everyone can benefit from. It provides the framework for who you can become. Most importantly, it’s the key to help us transform into the best version of ourselves, while defending our dreams against a spiral of fear or self-doubt.
So, what does your personal narrative sound like? And how can you live up to it? Share with us below!
5 Reasons It’s Important to Understand What You Want to Do With Your Life
No matter your age or your place in life, it is perfectly normal to not know exactly what your next steps should be. There are many factors that can contribute to this situation but it is always important to remember that everything happens for a reason and that this will help you build a much happier you.
There are many ways for you to understand what you should be doing with your life and there are just as many reasons why you should work towards getting a better understanding of those reasons.
If you wish to turn any situation around and start working towards finding your purpose, here are some of the most important reasons why:
1. You will be able to set long term goals for the future
Setting long term goals is one of the things that will help you feel more secure and certain about your future. Instead of relying on living day by day and trying to figure out what your next steps will be without having a future ultimate goal, you will now be able to plan accordingly so that your every step will bring you a step closer to making that dream come true.
One of the things many people forget though is that every plan, no matter how well-organized and planned out it is, will need to be adapted to every situation the person is experiencing. Knowing what your ultimate goal is will help you handle every change of plans with more confidence and will allow you to manoeuvre every situation and turn your problems into positive outcomes.
2. You will get rid of a lot of anxiety
One of the best things about finally getting a better understanding of what you wish to do with your life is that you will finally start feeling less anxious and unsure about the future. Having a certain plan you can follow and looking forward to making a big goal come true will help rid yourself of negative thoughts and allow you to be able to focus on achieving your dreams.
Anxiety is a very common problem in the time we live in and it can make a lot of people feel less productive and scared to take risks, especially in a professional manner. As a result, they tend to hold themselves back and do fewer things than they are capable of, simply because they are too scared to dare.
Realizing what you wish to do in your life and working towards achieving your goals will help you feel less stressed and even if you do, this type of anxiety could actually help you be much more productive and eager to do your best in order to make your dreams manifest into reality.
3. You will be much happier
Understanding what you wish to do in your life will truly help you finally figure out what you are meant to do in your life. For some people, it can help them find their purpose and give them a new perspective on everything they do in their everyday life.
This will help you feel a lot happier and will put your mind at ease, as you won’t have to continue wondering if the path you have chosen to follow is the right one for you or not. Feeling more certain of your decisions will help you feel a lot more confident and happier since you will feel strong enough to overcome anything that might come your way from now and on.
4. You won’t lose time or energy on smaller goals
Setting shorter goals without knowing what you are meant to do in the long run will cost you a lot of energy and time. This will happen as you will spend a lot of time planning out your every move and it will cause you to feel stressed and worried about every little thing going wrong.
Smaller goals will still be important but you won’t spend much time planning them as you would if you didn’t know what your end goal would be. Saving energy and preparing both mentally and physically for reaching your goal will help you achieve a much healthier outlook on dealing with everyday situations and it will make you more excited to complete your ambitions.
5. You will become an expert in one field
Last but not least, another important reason why you should try and understand exactly what you are meant to do in your life is that you will be able to focus all of your time and energy on learning as much as possible and growing only in one certain field.
The uncertainty of having a set goal for your future can make you feel like you need to know many different things in different fields in order to be able to succeed in life and make a living. While having knowledge in various fields is something that will prove to be useful, you will never fully be able to become an expert in one field and make a name for yourself in that sector.
A long term goal will allow you to either study or work full time on one subject you truly enjoy and are good at. This will help you build your reputation, make connections and allow yourself to enjoy and love the path you have chosen even more. As a result, you will be much happier and content with the end goal you have chosen and you will be able to work even harder to achieve all of your dreams.
Working towards a happier you
You might be at a point in your life where you feel like not a lot of things are truly worth your time but the truth is that every little thing you do will help you find what you are meant to do. This will help you feel happy and content and allow you to tackle every issue you come across with much less anxiety and fear.
You will find a lot of stability and comfort in setting a big and important goal for your future and this will allow you to start being more productive and happy to tackle every problem that might come your way. Your life will always be full of surprises and unplanned events but hard work and dedication on your goals will allow you to become the best version of you and enjoy every step of the way.
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