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What Real Confidence Looks Like
And how to get it
It’s about what you do, not what you say.
Look at someone who goes into a job interview wearing something nice, but not exactly Dior. They know what’s up.
It’s easy to confuse confidence with arrogance. The bluntest minds always think they’re the sharpest.
Fake confidence spells big trouble for everyone.
There’s not many things worse than someone pretending to know what they don’t, tricking everyone into believing them, and then wrecking whatever jobs or relationships they’ve been trusted with.
It’s actually not that hard to cultivate real confidence.
It starts with a handful of concrete behaviors.
Like love, confidence doesn’t emanate from some mysterious place within you.
It’s about actions.
So how does someone build real confidence, and not the fake kind?
1. They go into a situation prepared
A lack of confidence points to one key thing: you don’t know what you’re doing. That’s fine. Nobody does, not all the time. Nobody gains confidence by sitting around stressing. They come up with a plan.
They do the research.
They ask around.
They put in the time to figure out what they need to know.
They organize. They train. They practice. When the time comes, they’re ready.
And being ready is what makes you confident.
Someone with fake confidence pretends to have a plan, when they don’t. This is otherwise known as lying. Competent people can see right through it, even if they’re too nice to say anything.
2. They dive into new opportunities
You can’t get anywhere without venturing past your green zones. That means applying for jobs that look demanding, or asking someone on a date before you know the answer.
Nobody gains confidence by acting like a daredevil. They just accept that life comes with a certain amount of unavoidable risk.
They don’t hide from the future because they think they’re not qualified for a promotion, or that girl’s out of their league. They take the chance. When they fail, the learn why and go from there.
A bruise to your ego can hurt just as bad as a kick to the shin. Confidence is about feeling the pain, not avoiding it.
Someone with fake confidence has no idea how to do this. They stay within their comfort zones and never get better at anything. They’ll do whatever they can to avoid looking or feeling like a novice or a loser.
They never take any real risks, because that requires maturity.
3. They search out feedback, not validation
Nobody gains confidence by always asking for approval and fishing for compliments.
They do it by asking for honest feedback from people who are willing to give it to them.
They take the criticism and build on it.
They get better at what they do.
Tracking your own improvement overtime gives you real confidence.
The surest way to feel good about yourself is for a mentor or supervisor to say you’re doing a better job.
They also know how to weed out mindless haters and criticism that has no substance.
They don’t dwell on it.
Someone with fake confidence surrounds themselves with sycophants.
They starve to death on a diet of empty praise.
4. They admit what they don’t know
Nobody gains confidence by knowing everything.
Confidence comes from filling holes in your mind with knowledge.
You can’t do that if you always pretend to know everything, or live in fear that you’re going to ask a dumb question or somehow expose a weakness.
Confidence comes from experience.
We all start out at zero, and go from there. It’s only healthy to have an accurate, realistic sense of your abilities.
This means admitting that maybe you’re not the smartest person at work or the most gifted programmer.
The only way to continue getting better at what you do is to see how you can get there.
Someone with fake confidence does the opposite.
They pretend to know more than they do and put most of their effort into talking themselves up in front of everyone in their path. The second someone contradicts them, they start back-tracking and flip-flopping.
They’d be so much better off just saying they were wrong.
Confidence doesn’t come from being smarter.
But someone who practices confidence comes off that way a lot, just because they listen to experience and expertise, and follow good advice.
They don’t waste time focusing on how smart they look, they focus on acquiring knowledge.
Sure, there’s always a jerk or two out there who loves to needle someone who doesn’t have all the answers. That leads to…
5. They keep their cool under pressure
Confidence doesn’t come from always being in control, and everything going exactly according to plan.
It comes from knowing that you’re going to screw up, and that life has its own agenda.
You practice confidence by understanding that things go wrong — that’s the norm. And it has nothing to do with you.
There’s usually a partial solution, a workaround, or some way to salvage even the worst situations.
This means giving up the perfect vision you had of how your day was going to unfold.
It could mean letting someone help you fix things.
Confidence means not indulging in the meltdown that’s brewing inside your head.
It means being scared or worried, even showing it, but also doing what’s expected of you at the moment.
Keeping your cool is all about taking your ego out of the game.
Someone with fake confidence wants to be a superhero.
They’re not concerned with their responsibilities, or other people.
They only care about how they look.
And in their pursuit of glory, that’s when they make their biggest mistakes and the biggest enemies.
Think of confidence as a verb, not a noun
Nobody really “has” confidence, certainly not all the time.
Everyone goes through moments of doubt and panic.
If you went through every minute of your life feeling bulletproof, you wouldn’t last long.
Everyone worries a little at midnight, sometimes about the silliest things.
Nobody forges confidence that we can just slip on like a bat suit. It would be great if it were that easy.
Instead, we demonstrate confidence through actions. We perform acts of confidence, even when we’re feeling nervous.
We do it every time we make a plan, take a chance, seek out solid advice, confront our faults, and handle a tough situation because others depend on us.
Laboring Under A Label
Many of us find ourselves laboring under a label that has a negative connotation, but this can be reversed.
We live in a culture that uses labels as a means of understanding the world and the people living in it.
As a result, many of us find ourselves laboring under a label that has a negative connotation.
Unless we can find a way to see the good in such a label, we may feel burdened by an idea of ourselves that is not accurate.
It is important to remember that almost nothing in this world is all good or all bad, and most everything is a complex mixture of gifts and challenges. In addition, different cultures revere certain qualities over others, but this does not mean that these qualities are inherently good or bad.
For example, a culture that elevates outgoing behavior will label an introvert in a negative way, calling them antisocial. In truth, the ability to spend time alone is one that most great artists, mystics, and visionaries share.
Owning the positive side of this label can lead us deeper into our gifted visions and fertile imaginations.
When we look into the lives of any of the great people in history, we always find that they had quirks and eccentricities that earned them less than ideal labels from the societies in which they lived.
Many famous artists and musicians were considered to be isolated loners or disruptive troublemakers, or sometimes both, yet these people altered history and contributed to the world an original vision or advances in our understanding of the universe.
If we can remember this as we examine our own selves and the labels people use to describe us, we find that there is a bright side to any characterization.
If you have been labeled, remember that all you have to do to see the positive side is to turn the label around.
For example, you may be considered to be overly emotional, and the fact that you are perceived this way may make you feel out of control. But notice, too, the gifts of being able to feel and express your emotions, even in a world that doesn't always encourage that.
You might begin to see yourself as brave and open-hearted enough to stay alive to your feelings. You may also see that there are certain paths and professions in which this is a necessary ability.
As you turn your label around, the light of your true nature shines to guide you on your way.
How to Be Yourself
Simple lessons on mindfulness, meditation, and art of becoming more fully youNick Wignall
Few things in life would provide more tangible benefits to our mental health and wellbeing than a regular meditation practice.
In fact, I suspect that many, if not most, of my psychotherapy clients would get more mental health benefits from meditating 15 minutes per day than they would coming into therapy with me once a week. Easily.
But like most things that are really good for us-exercise, eating well, self-reflection-they’re quite challenging to do. And meditation can be especially difficult because culturally we have so many strange associations and ideas about what it is, what it means, and what it will do for us.
All of which brings me to a wonderful little book called Sit Like a Buddha: A Pocket Guide to Meditation by Lodro Rinzler, which is the most easy-to-read, practical introduction to meditation that I’ve come across-and I’ve come across a lot of books about meditation. The book contains a wealth of insight and wisdom into the nature of meditation and what it really means.
But it’s also full of extremely practical advice for getting started with your own meditation practice.
What follows is a selection of my favorite passages from the book along with some brief thoughts and reflections of my own.
If someone is not clear about why they want to meditate, they will soon find out that meditation is not necessarily easy and end up discouraged early on.
What meditation is not like:
- Getting a massage
- Popping a pill
- Having a sudden insight or Eureka moment
What meditation is like:
- Learning to play a musical instrument
- Raising a child
Set your expectations accordingly.
When you live your life in line with conscious intentions, as opposed to unconscious ones, you live a fuller, happier life overall.
As a psychologist, a primary benefit of meditation I see is that it helps us make decisions based on our deepest values rather than sudden whims and feelings.
On Mental Time Travel
Since we are not used to being in the present moment the mind habitually gravitates toward the past and the future.
If you find yourself worrying about the future and chronically anxious, or ruminating on the past and chronically depressed, consider mindfulness as a possible remedy for both.
Over time you will get to see yourself more clearly. You will become a connoisseur of your own thought process. That is what a meditator is; someone who appreciates the many flavors of their own mind and is able to be present with all of them.
Meditation teaches you how to appreciate yourself. And when you become expert at appreciating yourself, peace of mind tends to follow.
Our mind is habituated to running amok, not staying focused on something as basic as the breath. This is why meditation practice is difficult. We have spent years habituating ourselves to do anything other than be present with what is going on in this very moment.
I see this constantly in my work as a psychologist and therapist: People are terrified of being alone with their thoughts.
But when we design our whole lives around staying distracted from our own minds, we train our mind to be afraid of itself. And that’s a recipe for chronic anxiety, unhappiness, and stress.
Meditation is essentially the process of becoming friends with yourself.
If you struggle with low self-esteem, poor self-worth, a lack of confidence, or even self-hatred, there’s a good chance mediation will help.
You can’t hate yourself and be friends with yourself at the same time.
If you want to establish a meditation practice at home, one of the most important things you can do is create a supportive environment for yourself.
The most commonly overlooked ingredient to successful habit formation is environmental awareness: How will my environment be supportive or conflicting with my intentions?
Establishing a meditation habit is no different.
Don’t ever judge your meditation practice.
Your mind is your mind. Sometimes it will be easy to stay with the breath and you’ll think you’re an inch from enlightenment.
The next day someone at work pisses you off and that’s all you can think about when you sit down to meditate.
We should never label our practice sessions as “good” or “bad.” Anytime you get to the meditation seat is a good meditation.
In my experience, this is the hardest part about beginning a meditation practice-inhibiting the impulse to judge.
Luckily, that’s the whole point of meditation to just be without judging.
So the biggest obstacle to meditation also provides the most practice.
The basic discipline that arises out of our meditation practice is to catch ourselves when we get stuck.
Mindfulness is flexibility. And meditation is the best way to cultivate it.
When you consider how many of our problems have stuckness at their core, the benefits of regular training for flexibility are obvious.
Through becoming inquisitive with the emotional experience we are undercutting its power over us. We are practicing gom, becoming familiar without selves in a deep, formidable way.
I love this idea that becoming familiar with ourselves makes us formidable.
Many people hear the terms meditation and mindfulness and they associate them with fluffiness, silliness, even weakness. But nothing could be further from the truth.
Mediation is the road to inner-strength and self-mastery.
On Essential Goodness
Meditation is a very practical route to the conclusion that we don’t need to fix or improve anything. We are already good.
There are so much power and freedom and peace in the ability to drop the shoulds from our lives and embrace what is.
It’s not like you have magically transformed into a better being because you started meditating. You’re just more you. You’re a you that is aware of both the sanity and insanity that rages inside your mind and is able to accommodate both with equanimity.
A meditation practice gradually teaches us that it’s okay and safe to simply be who we are.
I know that sounds dumb or silly or a bit woo-woo.
But you don’t have to work as a therapist for very long before you realize how many people are terrified of themselves, of their own minds and thoughts and feelings.
Meditation helps us build confidence to be ourselves.
Have a sense of humor about your crazy, hummingbird mind. If you can laugh at your mental display then you are experiencing relaxation at its finest.
It’s one of the biggest misconceptions about meditation-that it’s serious.
Sometimes, but definitely not always.
Because our minds are not always serious. And meditation is about simply being with whatever your mind is doing-sad, funny, serious, blissful, or batshit crazy.
My final thought I’d like to impart is that, fundamentally, there’s nothing mysterious or complicated about meditation.
It’s simple, though not necessarily easy, practice that anyone can benefit from in small ways and large.
Give it a shot.
Meditation is just a tool to let you be you: to bring a sense that you are actually good enough, worthy enough, and kind, strong, and smart enough to handle whatever arises. That is your right. So embrace it. — Lodro Rinzler
Are you looking to reach a new level of success in your life?
A creative professional seeking motivation?
An entrepreneur facing start-up challenges?
Are you unhappy with your life?
Need some motivation...........?
This video has some great ideas to guide you through this challenging time in your life and achieve the level of success you are reaching for.
You have to believe in yourself.
STARTING NOW: NO shortcuts. NO quick fixes. NO blaming others. NO “I’ll do it tomorrows.” NO MORE EXCUSES!
The mind is a wonderful thing. It’s also an excuse-making machine that frequently tries to convince us not to take actions we know are good for us. And this prevents many positive changes from taking place in our lives.
I’ve had to learn to watch these excuses very carefully in order to make the positive changes I’ve made in my life: a healthier diet, regular exercise, meditation, more sleep, daily writing, better planning, less procrastination, more focus, etc.
If I hadn’t learned about these excuses, and how to suppress them, I would never have succeeded in making these positive changes. In fact, until I knew better, I had failed countless times when I was young because my mind’s deceptive tendencies used to get the best of me.
So why does the mind mess with us and make irrational excuses?
Because the mind wants comfort, that’s why. It’s afraid of discomfort, pressure and change. The mind is absorbed in its comfort zone, and anytime we try to stretch that zone too far, for too long, the mind tries desperately to get back to ground zero at any cost—including sacrificing our long-term health, happiness and success.
So let’s expose 10 of the cowardly mind’s most damaging excuses once and for all…
Excuse #1: I can’t do it.
It seems too difficult at first, so you think you can’t stick to the positive change you’re making. You don’t believe in yourself enough to take another step. This is a common excuse that can be countered by looking at the fact that other people no more capable than you have done it.
For example, my 60-year-old next-door neighbor ran a marathon a little before I started training for my first marathon, and so I told myself, “If she can do it, so can I!” And I was right. Truth be told, the only person who can tell you “I can’t” is you. If you hear those words echoing in the back of your mind, tune them out. Realize that your doubts and your faith have something in common—they both ask you to believe in something you can’t see. You simply have to decide which one you want to believe.
Excuse #2: They can do it, but that doesn’t apply to me because they have it better than me.
Just because someone else can, doesn’t mean you can, right? 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.
Marc 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.
Excuse #3: I’m stuck because I don’t have enough time to make changes.
Have you ever met a happy, successful person who regularly avoids responsibility, blames and points fingers and makes excuses for their unsatisfying life? Me either. The truth is, you write your own destiny through the choices you make every day. You become what you repeatedly do. It is more important to know where you are going and why, than to get there quickly. In fact, the most important thing in life is knowing what the most important things in life are, and prioritizing them accordingly.
Most of us spend too much time on urgent things and not enough time on important things. So do yourself a favor and implement these three action steps every time you’re building or sorting your to-do list:
- Think about the difference between what is urgent and what is important.
- Review all the obligations on your list.
- Do what’s important first. (Read The ONE Thing.)
Excuse #4: It’ll be too hard because I can’t get by without _____.
Fill in the blank: I need my wine, my cheese, my sweets, my TV shows, my ten hours of sleep, my big house, my fancy wardrobe, etc. These are luxuries we convince ourselves we can’t live without, so we can justify not making positive changes like eating healthier or exercising daily or saving money or simplifying our lives or building a profitable side hustle. And like I said, I’m not immune either—in the past I’ve made these excuses myself, but they all turned out to be lies. I didn’t need any of these things in my life, and believing that I did was only getting in the way of the positive changes I was capable of creating for myself.
Excuse #5: Life is meant to be easier and enjoyed more.
Sure, I agree that life should be enjoyed (as most people would) but the problem is that the idea that life should ALWAYS be easy and enjoyable is used to justify all kinds of lazy behavior. Might as well sit on the couch and scarf down those cookies, because hey, life is meant to be enjoyed, right? Nope. You can do without junk food and still enjoy life. You can exercise and enjoy it. You can give up a lot of comfort in your life and not lose a thing. In fact, the path of least resistance is often the path of least reward.
You need to do hard things. There are no shortcuts to any place worth going. As Einstein once said, “Genius is 1% talent and 99% percent hard work.” You must run to be a runner. You must write to be a writer. You must actively work on a business venture to learn how to run a successful business. There is no substitute for doing the work. So meditate on this every day: “I will do the work. It won’t be easy. It will be worth it!”
Excuse #6: I deserve a reward (or a break).
We all deserve a tasty treat, or a day off. I’m not saying you shouldn’t give yourself a reward or break when one is deserved. But if you make this rationalization a primary rule for living, you’ll always be on a break. You’ll always be giving yourself rewards, and never adhering to the original plan. Here’s what I do instead: I see sticking to my plan as the reward itself. I see reaching my goals as a gift I give myself. Going on a run isn’t the thing I have to get through to get a reward—the run is the reward.
Excuse #7: I can do it later.
Sure, you can always do it later… but your later self will feel the same exact way. Think about it: Why should your later self be more disciplined than your present self? There’s no reason. In fact, because you’re allowing yourself to slack off now, you’re building a habit of procrastination and actually making it less likely that your later self will be more disciplined.
So today, stop making excuses for why you can’t get it done and start focusing on all the reasons why you must make it happen. Stop talking about what you have done or what you are going to do. Just do it and let your actions speak for themselves. Most great things in life don’t happen by chance, they happen by choice. You never know what’s possible until you risk finding out. In the long run, there is only one thing that makes your dreams and goals completely impossible to achieve: Your lack of action today. (Marc and I discuss this in more detail in the “Productivity” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
Excuse #8: One time won’t hurt.
This lie is so tempting, because it’s somewhat true: one time won’t hurt. Assuming, of course, that it really is only one time. One scoop of ice cream, one missed workout, one time procrastinating instead of working, etc. Unfortunately, it’s never just one time. One time means your brain now knows it can get away with this excuse next time too, and the next “one time” leads to another, until you’ve completely fallen off the wagon.
Make a pact with yourself: never believe the “one time” lie. If you’re going to allow yourself a scoop of ice cream, decide this beforehand and build it into your plan—“I will allow myself a single serving of sweets once every weekend” and stick to your plan, rather than deciding on the fly when your conscience is weak.
Excuse #9: I’ve already failed too much.
You’re only human. If you break down, it’s fine. Just don’t stay down. Rest, and then pick yourself up so you can go to where you’d rather be. Mistakes make us wiser. Failures help us grow. Hope keeps us going. And love is the reason we’re alive. Keep learning, loving and living.
As Winston Churchill once said, “Success is never final, failure is never fatal. It is courage to continue that counts.” Nothing could be closer to the truth. Persistence is the mother of all productive effort. Failures, small and large, happen every day to the best of us. The strongest, most productive people aren’t the people who always succeed, but the ones who don’t give up when they lose.
In the heat of the moment when you feel like quitting, think about how far you have come and why you started in the first place. Oftentimes you’re a lot closer to making a breakthrough than you think. Some people give up their efforts when they have almost reached their goal, while others conquer their goals by exerting, up until the very last possible second, more vigorous efforts than ever before.
Bottom line: Once you learn to quit, it becomes a habit. Make some necessary adjustments, and KEEP GOING! (Read The Success Principles.)
Excuse #10: It’s too late now.
Change is constant, but growth is optional. Remain stuck or learn and grow. Where you end up is dependent on your daily attitude and response. And it’s never too late to change your attitude about something you can’t change. Just decide to make the best of it. No excuses. No regrets.
Honestly, nothing is too late until your tired heart stops beating. If you’re reading this right now, congratulations, you are alive, which means it’s not too late for you. Things can change if you want them to at any age. Right now you can choose differently and make something new happen. Your future is immediate. Grab on to it with both hands and keep on moving on. When you come up on a roadblock and are faced with the choice of sitting down and doing nothing or doing something to make further progress, choose the latter.
Think, work, and climb if you have to.
Move your life forward.
What kinds of excuses sometimes echo in the back of your mind? What’s one such excuse that has held you back?
Glad To Be Alive The Path To Adulthood – Healing The Pain Becoming The Adult Overcoming Loneliness – Part Two How To Overcome Loneliness How We End Up In Misery How To Deal With Loneliness Emotional Abuse Test Emotional Health – What Millions Still Don’t Know Emotional Insecurity Help You Have Emotion You Have Beliefs You Have Choice You Are Enough You Are Loved You Have A Heart
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A fusion of thought and feeling that expands your consciousness.
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4 Things Emotionally Intelligent People Don’t Do
Give up these bad habits and your natural emotional intelligence will shine
Most people think about emotional intelligence as a skill, something you can build and train with practice.
And while this is partly true, there’s a deeper truth about emotional intelligence that most of us miss:
Improving your emotional intelligence is often about what you do less of, not more of.
As a psychologist, I work with many people who look like though they don’t have much emotional intelligence:
- They blame other people for their problems
- They trap themselves in cycles of stress and anxiety
- They self-sabotage as soon as they start to make progress
But it’s my experience that most people don’t actually lack the capacity for emotional intelligence. In fact, I think most people already have a high degree of emotional intelligence.
Unfortunately, many people are held back from using their innate emotional intelligence by a collection of bad habits that get in the way.
If you’d like to improve your emotional intelligence, learn to identify these habits in your own life and work to eliminate them.
I think you’ll find that your natural emotional intelligence is not far behind.
1. Criticizing Others
Criticizing others is often an unconscious defense mechanism aimed at alleviating our own insecurities.
We’re all critical sometimes. And it’s not necessarily a bad thing — to think carefully and critically about the world around us is a vital skill. It helps us navigate the world and our relationships in an objective way.
But too much criticism — especially the habit of being critical of others — can lead to the opposite of objectivity: it can make us narrow-minded and blind, especially to ourselves.
One of the reasons it’s so easy to slip into habitually criticizing others is that it makes us feel good:
- When you point out to yourself that someone else is dumb, you’re also implying that you’re smart. And that feels good.
- When you criticize someone else for being naive, what you’re really doing is telling yourself that you’re sophisticated. And that feels good.
- When you silently chuckle to yourself about how terrible someone’s fashion sense is, you’re telling yourself how refined your own taste is. And that feels good.
Helpful criticism is about making the world better. Unhelpful criticism is about making yourself feel better.
While being critical might temporarily make you feel good about yourself, it usually makes you feel worse about yourself in the long-term.
On the other hand, emotionally intelligent and self-aware people understand that criticizing others is just a primitive defense mechanism. And that there are far better, more productive ways of dealing with our anxieties and insecurities.
Without knowing it, people who are constantly critical of others are really just trying to alleviate their own insecurities.
Understand that criticism of others is a waste of time and energy because it’s all-time and energy that’s not getting invested in improving yourself and the world around you.
“Criticism of others is a form of self-commendation. We think we make the picture hang straight on our wall by telling our neighbors that all his pictures are crooked.”
― Fulton J. Sheen
2. Worrying About the Future
Worrying about the future means living in denial about the fundamentally uncertain nature of life.
As human beings we crave order and certainty. And for good reason: Our ancestors who were better at making their lives a little less uncertain probably survived longer than those who didn’t.
We’re biologically motivated to reduce uncertainty.
But there’s a big difference between taking reasonable steps to reduce uncertainty and being so terrified by it that we delude ourselves into believing we can eliminate it altogether.
And that’s what chronic worriers do.
They’re so afraid of uncertainty, and so unwilling to live with it, that they trick themselves into thinking they can make the future less uncertain — by thinking about it constantly!
Chronic worriers live under the illusion that thinking is always problem-solving and that planning always leads to greater levels of preparedness. But neither of those are true:
- Just because you’re thinking about a problem doesn’t mean you’re thinking about it productively.
- And just because you’re planning — running through countless hypothetical future scenarios — doesn’t mean you’re any better equipped to handle them. Often, you’re just making yourself feel more prepared.
Worry gives you the illusion of certainty. But in the end, all it does is fragilize you.
Emotionally intelligent people understand that life is inherently uncertain. And they understand that it’s better to face up to this reality clear-eyed than to live in denial about it.
Because when you stop beating yourself down with all the stress and anxiety that comes with chronic worry, you’d be surprised how much energy and enthusiasm returns to your life.
When you stop insisting that the world act the way you want it to tomorrow, it becomes far easier to work with the world you’ve got today.
“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.”
― Corrie Ten Boom
3. Ruminating on the Past
Ruminating on past mistakes is a misguided attempt at control.
Just like we humans crave order and certainty, we also crave control.
We’re obsessed with the idea that, with enough effort and perseverance, we can do or achieve anything.
Of course, most people who get stuck ruminating endlessly on past mistakes and failures don’t actually believe that they can change the past. Instead, ruminating about the past gives them the illusion of control, however fleeting and temporary.
When you’ve done something bad or made a mistake in the past, you naturally feel guilt and regret. Chronic ruminators develop the unconscious habit of constantly replaying past mistakes because it briefly gives them a feeling of control. And feeling in control helps distract from feeling helpless — which is what we really are when it comes to past mistakes.
In reality, no amount of rumination or analysis of your past mistakes will change what happened. Which means helplessness and powerlessness are inevitable.
This is a hard fact of life that emotionally intelligent people not only understand but accept.
If you want to move on with your life instead of staying stuck in the past, you must accept the past for what it is—including feeling helpless.
You must give up the choice to endlessly revisit it, no matter how much it distracts you from your real pain — the pain of helplessness.
When in doubt, take action in the present instead of dwelling on the past. Do something useful, right now, no matter how small — and resist the temptation to replay yet another scene from your past.
Don’t give up control over your future by pretending you can control the past.
“To think too much is a disease.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky
4. Maintaining Unrealistic Expectations
Unrealistic expectations are a misguided attempt to control other people.
Just like ruminating is an attempt to control the past and how we feel about it, maintaining unrealistic expectations is usually a subtle attempt to control other people.
Of course, most people with unrealistic expectations don’t see it that way. You probably see your expectations of other people as a good thing: Having high expectations for people encourages them to grow and mature and become their best self!
Maybe, but this is still a subtle form of control. You have an idea for what another person in your life should be or do or accomplish and your expectation is your way of trying to make it happen.
But what does it mean, exactly, to maintain an unrealistic expectation?
Simply put, it means you spend time crafting stories in your head about what other people should do. And when they inevitably fail to live up to those standards, you reflexively compare reality to those expectations and feel frustrated and disappointed.
And how do you respond to this frustration and disappointment? By creating even stronger and more elaborate expectations, because it makes you feel good and in control!
Look, of course, you care about the people in your life and want the best for them. And it pains you to see them hurting or struggling or suffering.
So, when you create a story in your mind about them succeeding and doing better (i.e. an expectation) you feel a little better.
The problem is, you can’t actually control other people, even for the better.
Not nearly as much as you would like, anyway.
This means you create a constant vicious cycle of sky-high hopes and grave disappointments and frustrations.
What’s more, eventually your attempts at control begin to be felt by the people in your life and they become resentful. And if it goes on long enough, they may even act contrary to your expectations simply out of spite!
The solution is to let go of your expectations. Stop creating stories about what you want for other people. And instead, just be present for the person they are:
- Validate their current struggles instead of daydreaming about their future successes.
- Set real boundaries on their behavior instead of wishing for perfection.
- Meet them where they are instead of where you want them to be.
Hang on to your hopes but let go of your expectations.
“He was swimming in a sea of other people’s expectations. Men had drowned in seas like that.”
― Robert Jordan
All You Need to Know
If you want to increase your emotional intelligence, try approaching the problem backward: Instead of trying to improve your emotional intelligence skills, strive to identify and eliminate the habits that are interfering with your natural emotional intelligence in the first place.
Stop criticizing others.
Stop worrying about the future.
Stop ruminating on the past.
Stop expecting too much of others.
You can have all the knowledge in the world, but it means nothing without building up the confidence to do something with it.
Two decades ago, when the bullies at our high school called her a nerd for being a virgin and a straight-A student, my best friend Sara smiled and confidently said, “Thank you. I’m really proud of it.” She honestly was. What those bullies said never bothered her one bit. And this is just one tiny example of Sara’s incredible self-confidence.
I was reminded of Sara this morning when I received an email from a long-time blog subscriber (subscribe here) named Lane who is struggling with a similar bullying issue at a small community college where he’s taking classes. After describing his predicament in detail, he ended his email with this:
“I love your books and blog. Both have helped me get through a very low point in my life. But even though I’ve made progress, I often struggle with my self-confidence. These bullies really get the best of me. And I know my shattered confidence is really taking a toll on me. Therefore, what I need now more than ever is to learn how to walk in a more confident person’s footsteps, by changing the behaviors that kill my confidence.”So, pulling from over a decade of experience as a life coach, in an effort to help Lane walk more closely Sara’s footsteps, here are some insanely popular confidence-killing behaviors to avoid:
- Getting caught up in lots of needless drama. – Some people love to stir up controversy and drama for no apparent reason. Don’t buy in to their propaganda. 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, become curious. In place of envy, feel admiration. Life is too short to argue, fight, or be overly negative. Count your blessings, value the people who matter, and move on from the drama with your head held high.
- Seeking approval from everyone around you. – Confident people have no interest in pleasing everyone they meet. They are aware that not all people agree on things, and that’s just how life works. They focus on the quality of their relationships, instead of the quantity of them. So never let the opinions of the masses define who you are or what you can or can’t do. When you let go of the need to impress everyone, that’s when you begin to be truly impressive to the few people who actually matter. And when you earn the trust and respect of these select few people, no matter where you go or what you try, you will do it with confidence—because you know the people who matter are behind you.
- Making excuse after excuse after excuse. – Have a plan that’s bigger than your excuses. There is so very much to touch, to do, to create, and to experience. Confident people take ownership of their thoughts and actions. They don’t blame the traffic for being tardy at work—they know THEY were late. They don’t excuse their shortcomings with excuses like “I don’t have time” or “I’m just not good enough”—they make the time and they keep on improving until they see results. Even a tiny effort is infinitely more productive than a big, impressive excuse. So stop seeing every obstacle as an excuse and start seeing those obstacles as forming a pathway to your goals. (Read The Last Lecture.)
- Ignoring or second-guessing your intuition. – Intuition is very real and something that is never wise to ignore, because it comes from deep within your subconscious and is derived from your previous life experiences. If everyone else is telling you “yes” but your gut is telling you otherwise, it’s usually for a good reason. When faced with difficult decisions, seek out all the information you can find, become as knowledgeable as you possibly can, and then listen to your God-given instincts. Believe in yourself. Know that trusting your intuition is equivalent to trusting your true self; and the more you trust your true self, the more control you have of making your goals and dreams come true.
- Disempowering yourself with weak language. – Confident people use words with intention. Consider the difference between these two aspiring bloggers: One says, “Yes, I am a blogger. You like meditation and yoga too? Excellent! We need to connect—check out my new mindfulness guide I just posted at…” vs. “Well, I am trying to blog but am not sure I am doing it right (nervous giggle). I wish I had started sooner… blah, blah.” Who do you think gets the most views, comments and social shares? Bottom line: If you’re trying to build something or become something, own it and speak like you mean it. (Angel and I discuss this in detail in the “Passion and Growth” chapter of the NEW edition of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
- Thinking, “Why me? Why me?” – On the contrary, confident people think, “Why not me?” Sadly though, many people feel they have to wait: to be hired, to be good enough, to be chosen – like the old Hollywood cliché, to somehow be “discovered.” But confident people know that access is basically universal these days (especially if you’re online reading this article). They can connect with almost anyone through social media. (Everyone you know knows someone you should know.) They know they can attract their own funding, create their own products and services, build their own networks of clients and partners, choose their own path – they can choose to follow their dreams. And very quietly, without calling too much attention to themselves, they go out and do it.
- Needing to always be right. – Confident people take a stand not because they think they’re always right, but because they’re not scared to be wrong. Cocky, conceited people tend to take a position and then preach, argue, and totally disregard differing opinions or points of view. They “know” they’re right (even when they’re wrong) and they want (actually, they need) you to know it too. Their behavior isn’t a sign of confidence, though; it’s the trademark of a bully. Truly confident people don’t mind being proven wrong. They know that finding out what is right is a lot more important than being right. And when they’re wrong, they’re secure enough to back down graciously and appreciate the lesson learned.
- Talking just to hear yourself talk. – Begging for attention by talking constantly is just another mask for insecurity. Thus, confident people are often quiet and unassuming, and they listen as much if not more than they speak. They already know what they think, so they want to know what you think. Follow in their footsteps by asking open-ended questions on the topic of discussion, and give others the freedom to be thoughtful, introspective and resourceful. Ask questions like: What do you do? How do you do it? What have you learned from it? What would you do differently if you were starting over? And so forth. Ask these questions to learn, because you know a lot, but not everything, and the only way to learn more is to listen more.
- Letting success get to your head or failure get to your heart. – If success makes you arrogant, you haven’t really succeeded. If failure makes you determined, you haven’t really failed. Period. Think about success and failure differently. Don’t take everything that goes wrong personally, and don’t get a big head when everything goes right either. Be a humble, life-long learner. Create, enjoy, learn, love, experience, succeed, fail, persevere, make mistakes, make progress, take risks, and find the treasure in each day.
- Hiding from new life experiences. – Get out there. Let life touch you. Yes, it will hurt sometimes. But the pain will be much deeper if you build an impenetrable wall around yourself—your own 100-foot tall wall of comfort—your own self-inflicted prison sentence. Life is too short for that. Don’t let the fear of making the wrong decision prevent you from making any decision at all. You have too many beautiful places to go. Today is full of possibility. Now, do something about it!
It’s your turn…
If you only remember two words from this whole article, let them be: Learn and Believe.
Learn: As in… learn through experience. Learn from others. Remain humble, open-minded and teachable. Put yourself out there and let it all sink it. Push yourself to the edge of your comfort zone, so you can expand it and grow a little more confident every day.
Believe: As in… believe in yourself and your ability to succeed. Believe in your intuition, especially when you have to choose between two good paths. Believe that the answers are out there waiting. Believe that life will surprise you again and again. Believe that the journey is the destination. Believe that it’s all worth your while. Believe that you are confident enough to see it through.
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Today, I hope you will have another inspired day, that you will dream boldly and dangerously, that you will make some progress that didn’t exist before you took action, that you will love and be loved in return, and that you will find the strength to accept and grow from the troubles you can’t change. And, most importantly (because I think there should be more kindness and wisdom in this crazy world), that you will, when you must, be wise with your decisions, and that you will always be extra kind to yourself and others.
When you stop doing the wrong things, you give the right things a chance to catch up with you.
I met a friend at a local coffee shop this morning. She brought her work laptop along so she could show me some of her latest digital art designs. As we chatted and scrolled through her artwork, the laptop suddenly started making an unhealthy buzzing noise, then the screen flickered on and off and finally cut off completely. And as we both stared at one another in disbelief, the funky aroma of fried computer circuits filled our nostrils.
I quickly grabbed the laptop off the counter to inspect it and the problem instantly revealed itself. The bottom of the laptop was soaking wet and an empty, spilt water cup rested against the side of her purse just behind where the laptop was sitting. In the midst of us chatting and shifting the laptop’s 17-inch screen back and forth, we somehow spilt a cup of water the barista had inadvertently placed on the counter behind the screen, which was out of our view.
When life throws us nasty curveballs like this, it typically doesn’t make any sense to us, and our natural emotional reaction might be to get extremely upset and scream obscenities at the top of our lungs. But how does this help our dilemma? Obviously, it doesn’t.
My friend threw her hands up in the air and, to my surprise, cracked a half smile. “That’s exactly why I backed up my files this morning, and why I have full insurance on my laptop,” she said.
I was truly impressed with her response. Many people I know have had meltdowns over much smaller inconveniences.
How about YOU?
How often do your responses, or emotional reactions, to life work against you?
If you’re anything like the rest of us, the answer is likely: more often than you realize.
So realize this now!
When life doesn’t go as planned, it is what it is. Accept it, learn from it and grow. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done; what truly matters is what you do from here.
Let my friend be your inspiration today. Let her calm and collected response inspire you to make some positive shifts in various areas of your life. It’s time to think better and live better!
Which means it’s time to…
1. Stop letting every little problem get the best of you.
Inner peace begins the moment you take a deep breath and choose not to allow another person or event to control your emotions.
In other words, the greater part of your happiness or misery in the long run depends heavily on your attitude, not your circumstances. If you’re stressed out by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your interpretation of it; and this is something you have the power to change. It’s not easy, but it is entirely possible with practice.
It all starts with establishing a baseline level of positive thinking in your daily life. Make it a habit! You need to train your mind to see the good in everything, even when things don’t go as planned. Life is a series of thousands of tiny miracles. Notice them. Notice again and again how fortunate you are. The evidence is all around you, and it’s beautiful, and well worth gathering into your awareness.
And keep in mind that it takes roughly 66 days to form a new habit like this. So for the next nine weeks, wake up every morning and look at the bright side of your life, and you will begin to rewire your brain.
2. Stop expecting an easy journey to all your goals.
Be patient, but don’t just sit there expecting everything to be easy. Good things don’t come to those who wait for the “easy” way. And patience in life is not about waiting around; it’s the ability to keep a good attitude while working hard for what you believe in.
Decades from now when you’re resting on your deathbed, you will not remember the days that were easy, you will cherish the moments when you rose above your difficulties and conquered goals of magnitude. You will dream of the strength you found within yourself that allowed you to achieve what once seemed impossible.
So don’t do what’s easy, do what you’re capable of today. Astound yourself with your own resilience.
And remember, one of the most important moments on any journey is the moment you finally find the courage to let go of what can’t be changed. Because, when you are no longer able to change the obstacles in front of you, you are challenged to change yourself from within—to grow beyond the unchangeable obstacles. And that changes absolutely everything.
3. Stop resisting your imperfections.
Every one of us is a perfectionist about something. Learn to sense when your desire to make something perfect is preventing you from getting it done well. Realize that the idea of perfection is not only unachievable, it can destroy your otherwise productive mindset. It will keep you running in place, feeling insane for your entire life.
If you feel like you’re running in place right now, take a break and reflect. Think about the difference between diligent effort and perfectionism, and figure out what is triggering you. Because whatever triggers you also reveals what you need to heal.
Do your best to bring conscious awareness to what’s going through your worried mind when you’re not feeling good enough. Why do you feel this way? Who are you with this train of thought? Who would you be, and what else would you see, if you removed it?
Know when enough is enough! Say it out loud if you must: “Get lost perfectionism! Without you I am brilliant!” (Read The Gifts of Imperfection.)
4. Stop looking past the moment you’re living in.
Isn’t it strange how life works? You want something and you work for it and wait for it and work for it and wait for it, and you feel like it’s taking forever to arrive. Then it happens and it’s over and all you want to do is curl back up in that moment before things changed.
So, how can you avoid these feelings of loss and confusion?
By being more present every step of the way.
Pursue your goals and dreams while at the same time enjoying the journey of getting there. Embrace the step you’re taking, even when you feel like you’ve lost your footing. Sometimes the road gets bumpy. Every step doesn’t have to be comfortable or perfectly placed.
By letting go of what “should” happen or what “could” happen every step of the way, you free up your life to various little surprises and joys. You may not lead the exact life you want, but you will lead a meaningful, miraculous existence, guaranteed. Life is sometimes difficult, but it’s not a chore. Make it an adventure. Make it fun. Make a choice to feel good about yourself, about your world, about your possibilities and the step you’re taking right now.
5. Stop disempowering yourself with weak language.
Confident people use words with intention. YOU can be one of them!
Consider the difference between these two aspiring bloggers (two course students of ours) I recently spoke with:
One says: “Yes, I am a blogger. You like meditation and yoga too? Excellent! We need to connect on this subject—check out my new mindfulness guide I just posted at…”
And the other says: “Well, I’m trying to blog but am not sure I’m doing it right (nervous giggle). I wish I had started sooner… blah, blah.”
Which one do you think gets the most views, comments and social shares on their blog posts?
Bottom line: If you’re trying to build something or become something, own it and speak like you mean it. (Angel and I discuss this in detail in the Motivation chapter of our New York Times bestselling book, Getting Back to Happy: Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Reality, and Turn Your Trials into Triumphs.)
6. Stop expecting everyone to be as kind, courteous, or caring as you are.
You will end up sadly disappointed if you expect people will always do for you as you do for them. Not everyone has the same heart as you.
Be kind anyway!
And remember, being kind to someone you dislike doesn’t mean you’re fake. It means you’re mature enough to control your emotions. So be kinder than necessary today. What goes around comes around in the long run. No one has ever made themselves strong by showing how small someone else is.
7. Stop being so rigid (or so “mature”) about letting loose and having fun.
Sometimes we put too much weight into trying to control every tiny aspect of our lives. Switch gears, relax and ride the path that life takes you sometimes. Try something new, be a bit daring, and explore your curiosity.
Letting go a little lets you experience more of the unexpected. And the greatest joys in life are often the unexpected surprises that you never intended to happen. If you want to get really good at something—personally or professionally—let go of your expectations and replace them with the notion of endless playful exploration.
We don’t stop dreaming and exploring because we grow old; we grow old because we stop dreaming and exploring. So don’t stop! ?
Now, it’s your turn…
In light of everything you’ve just read, I have a challenge for you:
Pick one of the points above and start consciously working on it. Make doing so a positive daily ritual in your life.
And do your best not to fall back into your old patterns. Toxic habits and behaviors always try to sneak back in when you’re doing better. Stay focused and positive about what’s to come, by being consistent with what you know in your heart is right.
Which point above resonates with you the most? (Which one do you need to STOP doing to yourself?)
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FIND YOURSELF (BEST MOTIVATIONAL VIDEO 2018)
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Today, I hope you will have another inspired day, that you will dream boldly and dangerously, that you will make some progress that didn’t exist before you took action, that you will love and be loved in return, and that you will find the strength to accept and grow from the troubles you can’t change. And, most importantly (because I think there should be more kindness and wisdom in this crazy world), that you will, when you must, be wise with your decisions, and that you will always be extra kind to yourself and others.
You are enough. You have enough. You do enough. Breathe deep… let go, and just live right now in the moment.
ngel and I coach a number of students, 2-on-1 and in small groups — and pretty much every one of them is hard on themselves in some way. There’s this underlying feeling of stress and pain driven by disappointed in themselves, anger at themselves, or constantly believing they are inadequate.
Can you relate to this? I think most of us can.
This is a fundamental problem that most of us face, every single day. We don’t love significant aspects of ourselves. We beat ourselves up. We are frightened of uncertainty because we don’t think we’re good enough to handle it. We don’t trust ourselves, because we’ve formed a negative understanding of ourselves over the years. We get angry at ourselves for eating the wrong things, consuming too much alcohol, making mistakes in a social situations, getting distracted and watching Netflix or playing games on our phone, and so it goes. We are incredibly harsh on ourselves, and don’t like how we look or who we are, and it haunts us from the inside out.
Our feelings of self-doubt affects everything we do. It makes us more stressed, less happy, anxious, depressed, stuck, procrastinating, less present in relationships, less focused, more likely to reach for comfort foods or distraction or mindless shopping to comfort ourselves from the stress and pain of being who we are.
But if we could give ourselves love and respect, it would start to heal all of this. Everything could shift. We could deal with uncertainty and chaos and difficulty in a much more resilient way.
Giving ourselves love and respect is such an important act of self-care, and yet is rarely ever done.
The Reminders You Need
Set reminders for yourself, everywhere you go. Put reminders on your fridge, in your phone, on your bathroom mirror, on your desk, on your night table.
The reminders need to convey a simple underlying message…
YOU ARE ENOUGH.
Meditate on that for a moment right now.
When was the last time someone told you they loved and respected you just the way you are, and that what you think and how you feel means the world? When was the last time someone told you that you did a great job, or when necessary, that everything is going to be OK. When was the last time that ‘someone’ was YOU?
Today is the day! It’s time to break the self-doubt cycle and remind yourself to treat yourself better! So, to reinforce your newfound “enoughness” practice, here are some simple — but not easy — ways to actually apply it to different aspects of your daily life:
1. Be where you are.
Sadly, only a tiny percentage of the people in this world will actually experience their lives today. So many of us will be stuck on another day, another time and place that troubled us and caused us to spiritually stumble, and thus we will miss out on life as we’re living it. Realize this. Do not allow your spirit to be softened or your happiness to be limited by a time and place you cannot get back to, or a day that does not yet exist.
Remember, no matter what, you can always fight the battles of just today. It’s only when you add the infinite battles of yesterday and tomorrow that life gets overly complicated.
Truth be told, before you know it you’ll be asking, “How did it get so late so soon?” So take time right now to figure yourself out. Take time to realize what you want and need in this moment. Take time to love, to laugh, to cry, to learn, to work, and to move your present self forward.
2. Look deep within.
Remember that there is a place within you that you can go to at any moment. It is calm and full of love. Forget about the noise of the world is reciting to you. Look within. Go there when you are sad. Go there when you are fearful or angry or troubled. Go there when you are alone in your car in hectic traffic, or when you are surrounded by people who intimidate you. And don’t forget to go there when you are happy too.
Remind yourself that you are not your body. You are not your past or future. You are not what others expect of you. The essence of your being is love and it is within you right now.
Your spirit is simply waiting for you to remember this.
So, go to that quiet place in the center of you. Let the deep love and serenity swallow you whole. Everything is always okay, even when it’s not. Let go of the mind’s need to remind you of everything outside that weighs you down. You are none of that. You are at peace in this moment. Breathe. (Note: Angel and I discuss this in more detail in the “Self-Love” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
3. Talk it out.
Ever feel totally out of your element? Like you’re due to be discovered for the “fraud” that you are? This is what psychologists call the “impostor syndrome” — where you constantly feel like everyone around you has their act together, but you don’t. And the more others recognize your achievements, the more you feel like a fake. Because as you enhance your knowledge — as you expand the scope of what you know — you’ll inevitably be exposed to more and more of what you don’t know, and thus you may begin to subconsciously discredit what you do know. It’s a bizarre cycle.
Again, “Impostorism” is, for many of us, a natural symptom of gaining expertise.
Move up the ranks in life, and you’ll inevitably encounter more talented people to compare yourself negatively against.
The cycle never stops, and we all get caught up in it in some way. For example. I’ve personally written over 1,000 self-improvement articles on marcandangel.com that have received millions of page views and social media shares, and praise from a dedicated community of readers and students, but each time I write a new post I think, “Oh boy, this time they’re going to find me out,” as if I’m some low-profile underachiever who doesn’t deserve to be writing or changing lives.
The solution is to talk it out with a trusted friend, partner, or coach. Talk about your insecurities more, and let them do the same. Admittedly, it’s a hard conversation to initiate, so in the mean time just remember that everyone feels like an impostor sometimes — it’s not just you. (Note: Angel and I talk it out with our Getting Back to Happy Course students, one at a time, with immense compassion, every single day. And we would be grateful to work with YOU, too.)
4. Relax the tension.
One of the hardest lessons in life is letting go. Whether it’s feelings of guilt, anger, disappointment, loss or betrayal. Change is never easy. We fight to hold and we fight to let go. But we must eventually let GO. There’s no point in stressing over what you can’t change. Stop over-thinking it. Let it be, and allow yourself to grow from the experience.
Perhaps you’re annoyed by someone, frustrated at work, overwhelmed by all your obligations, or just upset by some aspect of your life. And your tight mental grasp of the circumstance creates a tension in your body and unhappiness in your mind. Therefore, Angel and I often recommend this simple strategy to our course students who are struggling to relieve themselves of their stress and tension:
- Locate the tension in your body right now.
- Notice what you’re resisting and tensing up against — it might be a situation or person you’re dealing with or avoiding.
- Relax the tense area of your body — deep breath and a quick stretch often helps.
- Face the same situation or person, but with a relaxed body and mind.
Repeat this practice as often as needed. Face the day with less tension and more presence. Change your mode of being from one of struggle and grasping to one of peace and freedom.
5. Give yourself credit.
Your inner light is seen. Your heart is heard. Your spirit is treasured by more people than you imagine. If you knew how many others have been touched in profound ways by you, you would be astounded. If you knew how many people feel so much for you, you would be speechless. You are far more brilliant than you think you are.
Stop discrediting yourself for everything you aren’t, and start giving yourself credit for everything that you are.
Behind you is infinite power, before you is endless possibility, around you is boundless opportunity.
Give yourself credit, for all of it…
- You’ve lived
- You’ve learned
- You’ve come a long way
- You’ve survived all your bad days
- You’re still growing
6. Give things space.
“If you want to control your animals, give them a larger pasture.” That’s a quote Angel and I heard at a meditation retreat recently in a group discussion focused on the power of changing your attitude about the things you can’t change or don’t need to change.
I see “the animals” and their “larger pasture” as a form of letting go and allowing things to be the way they are — instead of trying to tightly control something, you’re loosening up, giving it more space, a larger pasture. The animals will be happier — they will roam around and do what they naturally do. And yet your needs will be met too — you will have more space to be at peace with the way the animals are.
This same philosophy holds true for many aspects of life —
stepping back and allowing certain things to happen means these things will take care of themselves, and your needs will also be met. You will have less stress (and less to do), and more time and energy to work on the things that truly matter — the things you actually can control — like your self-care, and your attitude about everything.
7. Change your response.
What can we do when someone close to us is being annoying, irritating, rude or just generally difficult? What can we do when their negativity brings us down?
Well, assuming we’re not in any sort of real danger and we don’t need to physically protect ourselves, the best choice is often a simple mindset shift.
Rather than trying to change the other person, we change our response to them.
I know that suggestion can be frustrating for some people. Why should we have to make a change when it’s the other person who’s misbehaving?
The key, though, is to understand that with a few simple mindset shifts you can find a lot more peace around just about anyone. But if you try to shift the behavior of others, you’re only going to drive yourself crazy. This is well-illustrated by a metaphor Angel and I heard yesterday from an instructor in a group meditation class:
“Where could I find enough rubber to cover the rocky surface of the world? With just the rubber on the soles of my shoes. Think about it. It’s as if the whole world were covered as I walk. Likewise, I am unable to control external life situations, but I shall control my own mind. What need is there to control anyone or anything else?”
That simple metaphor conveys the truth: the surface of the Earth is rocky and hard to walk on in most places. So, we can try to find a covering for the whole world — which is obviously impossible — or we can simply cover our own feet with rubber-soled shoes, and then walk around peacefully wherever we please.
Similarly, we can either try to control the difficult people around us — another impossibility — or we can control our responses to them.
when you sense negativity coming at you, give it a small push back with a thought like, “That remark (or gesture, or whatever) is not really about me, it’s about you (or the world at large).”
Remember that all people have emotional issues they’re dealing with (just like you), and it makes them rude and downright thoughtless sometimes. They are doing the best they can, or they’re not even aware of their issues.
In any case, you can learn not to interpret their behaviors as personal attacks, and instead see them as non-personal encounters (like the rocky ground under your feet) that you can either respond to effectively when necessary (by putting your figurative shoes on), or not respond to at all.