Feeling Stressed Out? Get Back to Nature

forest

It’s easy to get absorbed in the day to day of your life. You get up, go to work, come home, do your evening routine, and then it’s time for bed. Do this over and over, and soon you’ll feel as if you’re just a cog in the machine. This is amplified when the view from your window is a concrete jungle, your commute is typified by trains packed to the breaking point or traffic jams that go on for hours. There must be an escape from that insanity, a way to be more connected and alive.

No matter where you live, there’s most likely nature nearby. Getting out into nature provides an opportunity to recharge your batteries and ease your nerves. In fact, there are so many benefits to getting out in nature that making it a part of your weekly routine is essential to creating and maintaining good mental health.

Getting yourself out into nature will help you to refocus, relax and realign yourself to who you are and your greater purpose. After all, you are more than just a cog in the machine that gets a day or two of rest before you have to go out and do it all over again.


According to a 2019 study by Matthew White, getting out in nature for as little as a couple of hours each week can have powerful health benefits. Those benefits include: reduced stress and anxiety, better physical and mental health, and increased cognitive power. No special skills required. Just get outside and experience nature around you.


About 10 years before this study came out, I produced a video podcast called Relaxation Media. The purpose of these video programs was to give the viewer a few minutes of calming nature on their smartphone or computer and to simulate the feel of being out in nature. I believed then, as I do now that experiencing nature even virtually, has healing qualities. The podcast ended up becoming the #1 video podcast for wellness worldwide with thousands of downloads of each episode.


Today you can put on a pair of VR goggles and become immersed in a nature experience that’s so realistic your brain will actually believe you are outside. While this is a good way to reset, it’s even better to physically explore nature in your own area. Smell the trees, the grass, and the flowers. Hear the different bird calls and the gently flowing stream, if your park or recreational area has one. Even watching people play with their dogs and children will help to bring about a feeling of serenity.


Here are seven activities you can do to touch nature regularly:
1. Mindful Observation
Sit on a bench or somewhere that you can be still for some time. Then, just watch your surroundings. Listen to the sounds and tune into the smells around you. Experience it all. You don’t need to analyze or think about anything. Just be in the moment, a living part of the habitat. Breath deeply and feel.


At first, this will be extremely difficult. You may be able to mindfully observe your surroundings for only a few moments before reaching for your phone, wanting to take a picture, or otherwise disengage from the situation. Keep practicing and soon you’ll be focusing for 5, 10, 20, even 30-minutes at a time, just you and the nature surrounding you.


As I was sitting on a bench one afternoon, three lizards, a large spider, a centipede, and five different kinds of birds all stopped by to visit. These are things I never would have experienced if I’d had my face in my phone or been walking. Sitting still and letting nature come to you will reveal pleasant surprises.


2. Blind Emersion
For this exercise, close your eyes and let your other senses guide your experience. What do you hear? Is it approaching or receding? Which way is the wind blowing? How does the air smell? Touch the ground and just experience it, don’t label it. Just feel. This heightening of the senses brings me back to simpler days of playing in the park and letting my imagination run free. I hope it does the same for you.


3. Forest Bathing (Shinrin-Yoku)
In this Japanese practice, all you need to do is take a walk in nature and immerse yourself in the environment. Notice the terrain, plants, and wildlife you encounter as you walk. As above, soon you’ll have a sense that you’re connected to the environment surrounding you. That feeling provides both power and serenity.


4. Explore A New Natural Area Near You
If you are well acquainted with one park or natural area near you, look for another one that is close by. Set a date and time to explore this new area. That can make it feel like you’re going on a new adventure. What’s even better, if you have a friend that also likes being out in nature arrange to meet them there. Then you can enjoy the outdoors together. This is a great opportunity to strengthen your bond.


5. Sketch
Regardless of your artistic ability, sketching requires you to really observe your subject to capture its essence on paper. Whether you sketch the landscape, or the grass under your feet. Drawing your experience will help you to connect to nature t and experience a personal relationship with it.


6. Journal about your outdoor experiences
If you don’t like sketching, you can also do a bulleted journal about what you’re observing in your outdoor environment. How do you feel when you’re outside? What animals, insects, plants are you seeing? Are you seeing any people regularly? You may be inspired to write poetry or explore other creative outlets while you’re in nature too. Many of the greatest poets, writers and musical artists throughout history were inspired by nature.


7. Observation Over Time
If you visit the same spot on a regular basis, you’ll begin to recognize subtle changes. Noticing the differences from month to month and season to season is an experience you’ll carry with you. That recognizable ambiance is something that you can recall through meditation whenever you need mental or emotional realignment.


Tying it all together
Touching nature will increase your peace of mind, and it only takes a few minutes a day to engage with your surroundings. Whether you head to nearby open spaces or out to your own backyard, taking some time to connect with nature will help you to understand yourself and your environment in ways that are engaging and empowering.

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How to Understand If That Job Is Right For You

What is your DISC Type

Gaining a competitive advantage with DISC

Ever chosen a job you thought would be a good fit and later found that it wasn’t your cup of tea? Or maybe you are job hunting and looking for that position where you can continue to grow over the next 5-10 years. If you are looking for some insurance that you are applying for the right positions, you might want to use the DISC process to measure the opportunity and your fitness for that job?

What is DISC?

DISC is a natural work style preferences assessment that groups workers into four categories: D – I – S – and C based on traits like task or people focused, and whether you are assertive or reserved. DISC considers that your past behaviors and tendencies are a good indicator of the way you will prefer to work in the future. 

While this may not always be true, it is such a reliable tool that some companies have included DISC tendencies as part of the internal job description and use the assessment as a portion of the initial screening process. The ideal person for a position in the finance department may be a high C or conscientious type and if your assessment shows you to be a high I or Influencer, you may be immediately screened out of further evaluation for the position. That being said, it is not advantageous to game the test as you will only find that you dislike the work in the end.

You will, however, have a distinct advantage by knowing your DISC profile and the jobs that align with your strengths. So let’s take a dive into understanding DISC.

There are four quadrants to DISC moving from top left clockwise those are Dominance (D), Influence (I), Steadiness (S) and Conscientious (C). Ds and Is are assertive, they will make decisions and feel that they have power over their environment. Ss and Cs, on the other hand, are more reserved and feel that their environment dictates what is and is not acceptable. 

At the same time, Ds and Cs often feel that they work in an unfavorable environment, while Is and Ss are generally more optimistic. Is and Ss also prefer to work with people and believe that there is a person who can solve any problem. However, Ds and Cs are task focused and think that people execute on well planned and developed solutions. Now that you have an understanding of DISC basics. This chart will help you to solidify the differences between the personality types.

Disc Characteristics

Defining Work Style Preferences

D (Dominant)

Dominant types prefer to focus on accomplishment. They feel that there may be several answers to a problem, but only one right one (theirs). For a high D, recognition comes in execution of the plan. They act quickly and welcome risk/reward situations. Ds will often challenge the status quo and don’t go along just because “that’s how we’ve always done it. If there is a problem, a high D wants a solution. You can keep your reasons and logic to yourself. Just give them the solution. Quick, clean and without drama. That is how Ds operate. 

The Dominant person wants to work in an environment where they are given authority and challenged to succeed. With that success will come prestige and the opportunity for promotion. As a result, many top managers have strong D traits. Ds like direct answers and will throw down a challenge to test their counterpart’s resolve and commitment to a solution.

High Ds like to work with people who weigh the pros and cons before making decisions. Once that is done, they prefer their counterparts to, like themselves, decide and take action quickly. Since Ds are risk takers, they like to make a decision and move on to the next activity. As a result, they may have a wide knowledge base and enjoy many types of activities. They are leaders, not followers. So they really have little need for others except to execute plans that have previously been decided on.

Colleagues and direct reports of Ds may see them as being overbearing and with a need to always be right. Ds want conversations to be brief and to the point. This can be difficult for those who are more personable.

I (Influence)

(Is) like people. Unlike Ds, (Is) believe there is a person who is right to solve any problem. They feel that influence is gained by winning over the crowd. A high I’s strength is the ability to communicate persuasively and motivate others. They are eternal optimists and will trust others to a fault. As a result, (Is) may be overly indirect to avoid offending others.

(Is)will quickly volunteer for any project and love team work. Unfortunately, they are not the best time managers. As such, they may overextend and forget that they had made a commitment to help. It’s not malicious. It’s more a matter of being over zealous.

Is like public rewards and will be quick to share others success stories, as a way to promote colleagues they like. They may be involved in several clubs and organizations outside of work. (Is) are always building their networks, and they enjoy meeting new people. They favor giving everyone a say before a decision is made and love brainstorming ideas. As a result, (Is) may be slow at making decisions. 

For Is, freedom means no boundaries or controls. A world without rules because everyone is naturally kind and considerate of others’ best interest. This is par-I-dise. The belief that everyone works with the best intentions of the group leads Is to be over-trusting and more hands off in working with others. Additionally, providing an environment of freedom means that a high I will instinctively trust their gut, not worrying so much about the details or consequences. This can occasionally lead to poor or underdeveloped plans and decisions.

S (Steadiness) 

Steadiness types like to work within the framework of preset systems and expectations. They have a need for structure and predictability. This allows them to exhibit extreme patients when things don’t go as planned. They also are very tolerance of others, so long as they are benefitting the team.

Ss find it hard to make decisions. Like Is they want everyone to have input before decisions are made. Even then, they may delay to consider one more thing, or to wait for the opinion of a coworker who missed the meeting. Ss are keen to develop specialized skills that allow them to be more effective cogs of the team. Ss are the go to team members to confront someone who is excitable or having a tough day, because high Ss are good listeners. 

High Ss do best with lots of praise, it makes them feel valued. Unlike Ds who don’t care what others think of them. Ss feel uncomfortable pressuring others to meet deadlines or raise quality. As a result, they may quietly do more work than they need to, finding it hard to delegate. While Ss are completely supportive of the team, they despise conflict and just want everyone to get along.

If there are changes afoot, Ss need a lot of lead time and support to make a smooth transition. They may wonder why systems are changing when the old one worked just fine. As a result, they need a clear understanding of why.

C (Conscientious)

Cs love high quality and accuracy. As a result, their best friend in the office is data. High Cs have little use for others, except to move processes forward. Unlike Is, Cs are more than happy to work alone and without interruptions, only talking to others when they need some something. 

Like Ss, Cs they like to have a solid framework to operate within. However, if you are having a bad day, it is better to stay as far away from Cs as possible. They have no time for emotions and comfort. They have very dry personalities and strive for perfection. This drive often leads to projects that are not completed because they are never good enough. And plans that are never realized, because more data is needed before they can move forward.

High Cs have a meticulous attention to detail and understand the intricacies of things. They are the perfect people to review your work, provided you are ok with direct feedback. Cs don’t mince words.

A C will feel that the deck is stacked against them, so they need as much evidence as possible to prove others wrong and support their own opinions. Unlike Is, they do not rely on instinct. The answers, they will say, are in the data. As such, when giving feedback to a high C is important to have specific examples and desired actions.

Cs need you to explain exactly what your expectations are. They will not interpret what you mean. They need to know that they have control of the elements necessary to achieve success, because they do not like to rely on others.

A D, I, S, & C go out to lunch...

Knowing Your DISC Profile

It is important that you know your DISC tendencies so that you can understand your natural strengths and weaknesses in your position or the ones you are applying for as your job hunt. You may have one trait that is higher than the others or two, some people even have three high traits. There are some suggestions for where you can get your DISC assessment.

While your DISC profile represents your natural working style, it can be adjusted to the situation, environment and even role you are in on a project. As a company employee, my profile is high I, high S. I am a motivator and know that by following the rules I will be more successful working in a big company than a small one with constantly changing norms. However, as an entrepreneur I am more high I, high D and less S. I have very few C traits. Influencing customers and collaborators is essential to successful projects. That’s my I side. Making quick decisions and finding appropriate solutions that propel my business forward align with the D in me.

As you gain insight to your own DISC profile and the definitions of the others, you will begin to recognize the traits of your coworkers. That will help you to more effectively interact with them. Don’t ask a high C how they feel about a new policy. Ask them what they think of it. Avoid giving a problem without a solution to your high D boss, tell them your recommendation and be prepared to tell them why. Though they may not ask for your reason if they agree with you. When proposing a new idea to a high I get them excited by telling them about the benefits. And if you need to get something off of your chest, find the high S in your network and have a chat with them.

Using DISC During Your Job Search

While positions have the same name from one company to another, the responsibilities in those roles can vary drastically. To really know if a job is a good fit for you, you need to read the job description carefully and do some background research on the company. That being said, DISC can be a good starting point to establish your fit.

Companies often use DISC as part of the hiring process to understand you. Why not use the same criteria to measure the job against your working style preferences and what you need to succeed? Here are some general examples of the DISC quadrant popular jobs usually fall into.

Entrepreneur – D

Entrepreneurs and Solopreneurs are risk takers. They don’t mind the fact that all the decisions rest with them. They have a vision and they want to lead the way to that success. As is typical of the high D, Entrepreneurs make decisions fast and don’t need a lot of input from others to do so.

Senior Manager / Executive – D

As you move up the corporate ladder, it goes without saying your level of responsibility and the risk you need to take grow dramatically. Senior managers and people in the C Suites welcome the challenge of operating without a safety net. They know that big risks have big rewards and they have become good at assessing threats. These people, however, do not have much tolerance for those who would rather sit on the sidelines and have reasons for not taking action. They want things done and they want them done now, as any high D would.

Management Consultant = I

Management consultants need to be good listeners. Once they have heard where the bottleneck is or uncovered a problem, they need to recommend resources and solutions to solve those issues. Since management consultants need to meet people and make them feel comfortable almost immediately, they really need those outgoing and positive traits that are characteristics of the high I.

Recruiter – I

A recruiter’s skill comes in building networks of companies that are looking for new talent and career seekers that are seeking to leverage their skills and experiences into new and challenging high paid positions. Making connections between these groups is an area that high Is excel in.

Sales – I

Highly effective salespeople are skilled at solving personal problems with their line of products and services. They want you to keep coming back and to do that they need to create long-lasting relationships. Combine that with the recognition and rewards that come with achieving sales targets and you have the perfect job for a high S. 

Technical Writer – I

Technical writers need to learn about a specialized area quickly and share that information effectively. When they are finished with one project, they are on to a new area of temporary expertise. This type of work naturally suits a high I who doesn’t like complicated tasks. They usually garner their knowledge by interviewing others and capturing the expertise of their less outgoing counterparts into content that is accessible to a wider group of people.

Customer Success Manager – S

High Ss make great customer success managers. They want to help people to use their company’s services to the most of its ability. High Ss will listen to the customer explain the problems they are experiencing and be able to gently suggest solutions that meet those objectives. They may need to teach or train their clients on using some part of the system and have the patients to do well in that responsibility. Customer success managers need to make their clients feel they have a friend on the inside, the perfect role for an S.

Teacher / Trainer – S

Teachers and trainers are not always the best decision makers, they need a structure to their work. This makes them feel safe in their environment, a strong S characteristic. Once the teacher has this sense of stability, they can help others to prosper through attentive listening and applying their skills and experiences to customize the educational material to the students and their needs.

Hotel Staff – S

Customer facing hotel staff need to make guests feel like the most important people in the room. Since Ss do not have the need to stand out, like Is do, this is a role that suits their working preferences well. HIgh Ss and hotel staff are team players who realize that each cog serves its purpose.

Office Staff – S

Office staff excel at carrying out orders and following procedures. They prefer to be given a list of tasks and the time to carry them out. The skilled staff member knows everybody and most, if not all of them, like her, because she is a good listener and supportive. Characteristics that are common in a High I. She knows how to get tasks done and will quietly go about doing that, not wanting to make any waves.

Accountant & Auditors – C

It has been said that an accountant’s best friend is numbers. This could not be more C like. These people would rather work on a computational task than attend a party. Their attention to details can save a company millions of dollars. So they are consumed with making sure that everything is in its correct place on the ledger.

Translator – C

Translators work alone and their daily routine is all about accomplishing tasks. These are classic high C working style preferences. Translators are highly independent. Just tell them what you want and by when. Then leave them alone to do the work. They have little time for interruptions and distractions like their high C colleagues.

IT Programmer – C

IT programmers focus on detailed code writing. They prefer to work in silence and can spend long hours writing and analyzing code at the computer. While they are skilled at this intricate task, they are generally not so good at training others to do the work. They tend to feel you either understand or you don’t. And if you don’t understand, go ask someone else, the high C programmer is too busy to help you.

Research Scientist – C

Research scientists like to work within the confines of the scientific method. That structure allows them to control variables within it. In this way they can get engrossed in the details of their work without need for talking to others or getting input from the outside. This type of work environment is paradise to a high C.

How You Can Have Success With DISC

Ali, not her real name, had just come to Japan and was excited to start her new job as an ALT. It had been her dream to live and work in Japan. She felt that was going to come true. However, after a few weeks at her school, she had become disenchanted.

She stressed about all the rules and that she was assisting, not leading, in the lessons. Being an ALT is a good position if you are a high S. the job requires a high level of cooperation and an ability to work effectively as a supporting member of the team. Ali liked the social part of the job. As a high I, having to always comply with the English Teacher’s demands and teaching the same lessons over and over again drove her crazy. 

Ali came to me feeling like she had failed at her opportunity to make it big in Japan. Through an interview and DISC assessment, we discovered that she is indeed a high I and would do better in a role where she can socialize, build relationships and manage her own workflow, so long as she is getting results. Based on our discussions, she began applying for jobs as a recruiter. Not only did she get a job within a few weeks but through additional coaching, she sharpened her professional skills, too. As a result, she excelled in her new position, and she received the award for New Associate of the Year. She has now been working with her firm for three years and is loving her work.


Bryan, not his real name, was having problems relating to his colleagues, as a high C, many found his communication style abrupt and rude. During one brainstorming meeting, he commented, “This is stupid. Why don’t you just make a decision, so I can get back to work.”

This made his high I and S counterparts quite angry and Bryan soon found himself in the boss’ office. His supervisor warned him to respect the ideas and opinions of others, or he would be looking for a new job. The feedback from his boss was a wake-up call to Bryan. He contacted me about developing more effective communication skills.

The first step was to analyze his disc assessment and confirm that he is, in fact, a high C. Knowing that, we could explore the differences between his working style preferences and those of his colleagues. We uncovered strategies that allowed Bryan to switch his communication style to more effectively interact with his colleagues. Before too long, his co-workers came to understand him better, too. They consulted him for his technical expertise and attention to detail. He opened up to them a bit more about the challenges he faced on projects and got some interesting ideas by listening to a wide variety of ideas and opinions. Needless to say, Bryan kept his job and made some new friends too.


Peter, not his real name, is a high S. He has worked in the sales department for the last five years. As one of the company’s top producers, he had been offered promotions several times. Each time he declined. He was happy just being responsible for his own work and unsure if he really had the patients and task focus needed to be a good manager.

A previous assignment had him mentoring and training new sales associates. He found that he liked that aspect of the work. So he took a chance and accepted a promotion to District Sales Manager. At first, he found the work very challenging. Too many administration tasks and not enough time meeting customers or motivating his staff. Eventually, however, he settled in and found a detail focus assistant that helped free him up to do tasks that fit his working preferences and the key roles of his job. 

He became better at making decisions, sticking to deadlines, and holding people accountable. Now he runs the most successful sales region in the company. He also assists his team on sales calls where his direct reports are having trouble closing or meeting client’s high expectations. Though his DISC type has moved more towards D, Peter couldn’t be happier.

3 Free & 1 Paid DISC assessment

So how do you understand which job will be the right one for you? Start with a DISC assessment. This will help you to more clearly understand your natural working style preferences. While you could pay for an assessment, and those offer tremendous insight, why not start out with a free one? There are several available on the internet. In fact, if you took more than one, you could validate the results and feel confident that you have successfully identified your preferred working situation.

Here are some DISC assessments you can take right now

Online Personality Tests – https://www.onlinepersonalitytests.org/DISC/

The Online test takes about five minutes and you can take it without providing your email address. It will give you a brief, 1-2 page, report about your DISC preferences and tendencies.

Truity Personality Tests – https://www.truity.com/test/disc-personality-test

The Online test takes about five minutes and you will get a four page analysis identifying your strongest DISC areas. You can’t download this report, but you can print or save the page as a PDF. To get the full Online Personality Test DISC report costs $19 US or about ¥2,000.

Tony Robbins DISC Assessment – https://www.tonyrobbins.com/DISC/

This assessment gives you good insight to your preferences and motivations. It will take you about 30 minutes to complete this assessment. Once you’ve finished the self-assessment, read the 11 page report and the download page carefully to have a better understanding of your tendencies. Then, you won’t need to buy the report upgrade, which is priced from $20 US to $100 (¥2,200 – ¥ 11,500).

The Paid Assessment

One DISC assessment that is really useful, but not free, is the DISC Classic 2.0. This 10 minute assessment provides a detailed report that explains your natural strengths and weaknesses, how others see you and a description of how you will see those with differing assessment scores. It even provides some information on what types of jobs are a natural fit for you. It cost $72 (¥8,000) and is available from Manager Tools – https://www.manager-tools.com/products/DISC-profile#

Wrapping It All Up

Understanding DISC could give you a competitive advantage as you do your job hunting. It will help you know what your working style preferences are, and you can compare those against job descriptions to find a job that suits you best. Once you enter the workplace, knowledge of DISC tendencies will help you better understand your colleagues and provide some insight as to how to work more effectively together.

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Don’t Surrender to Your Fear

Fear has the ability to halt your progress if you let it

As I walked out of my boss’s office one thing she said stuck in my mind above everything else, “We are downsizing, so your job and department are being eliminated.”

What!? After spending my entire career getting to this position. One I really love. I am now being pushed out the door. I really had no idea what I was going to do. Afterall, I had invested most of my professional efforts into this company and building skills that allowed me to move up the corporate ladder. Now the rungs have been cut and I’m seeing myself speed down the ladder, like a terrified teenager plunging to their death in a bad horror movie.

Fortunately, I had the sense to invite my fear to lunch. We considered the past, did an inventory of the present and made a plan for the future. When our lunch was over, fear and I shook hands and went our separate ways. Your meeting with fear may not be so cordial. You may feel him taking a firm grip on you and heisting your hopes and dreams of a comfortable future. This doesn’t have to be the case. You can find a way past fear. A way to develop confidence and not just survive your travesties but to prosper through transcendence of the experience.

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.

Often we find comfort in the past, even a confining one. We know the past, and it doesn’t hold any surprises. We believe the past offers us stability. This is, however, not true. The past restricts us. It limits our growth and stifles potential. While living with the limits of your situation provides a sense of stability, it will never transform you. Surrendering to your circumstance will keep you bound to a life of subservience. You deserve more than that!

Life consists of ups and downs. It is a series of peaks and valleys that bring you both joy and sorrow. Realizing that your existence is fluid, always changing, will help you to free yourself from the obstacles that are holding you back.

Looking out over the horizon, we see a vast unknown. As a result, it is natural to gaze out into the void with anxiety and fear. Even though you are moving into uncharted territory, you are not doing it alone and unprepared. You have experience, skills and a network of people to help you through these trying times. You need to take inventory of your resources, plot out how to use them efficiently, and take action. This is your opportunity. March into the future bravely, accepting your fears and finding a way to navigate a course beyond them.

One of the greatest discoveries a person makes, one of their great surprises, is to find they can do what they were afraid they couldn’t do.

What are you afraid of?

As you look at the road that lies ahead you, may have hopes and dreams of what your life could be. Maybe those ideals end with, “but someday,’ or ‘if only.” This limiting self-talk blinds you to possibilities. It keeps you static in a rapidly moving world. Why not take a few steps down the road to discover if you can see your future with better clarity?

Fear causes you to become immobilized, unable or unwilling to take the next action. You may be apprehensive about your future. Maybe you feel that failure is inevitable. That there is no sense in trying to get beyond it, so why even try. You can be better than that. How can you know what you are capable of if you don’t even try? Dip your toe in the water. Then take some time to honestly evaluate the experience. This is the way to discover the solutions that work best for you. It’s all trial and error, correct and make another attempt.

Don’t be afraid of failure. Of course, you are going to fail, that is how you learn to succeed. Naturally, it won’t be easy. Nothing worth its weight ever is. Nevertheless, take the moment for all it’s worth and wrestle your success from it. You are the master of your life, in spite of your fear and shortcomings. It is through this process of facing your fears that you will reduce apprehension and build confidence. As you build confidence you will gradually begin to understand that you are where you need to be at this moment, doing what you have to do, in order to become the person you are meant to be. Seize the moment.

I’ve learned that fear limits you and your vision. It serves as blinders to what may be just a few steps down the road for you. The journey is valuable, but believing in your talents, your abilities, and your self-worth can empower you to walk down an even brighter path. Transforming fear into freedom — how great is that?

Accept failure as a by-product of the process. A chance to develop, become more intelligent, stronger and more prepared for the battles ahead. Failure does not equate to surrender — It is an indicator that you need to learn more. In that process you will comprehend how to succeed.

You don’t have the benefit of hindsight. As a result, you do not know the reason for the experience you are having, what you are to take from it and how it can help to guide you to a better existence. You need to complete your due diligence, have faith and jump. No regrets.

Make fear a colleague

Understanding your fears and what feeds them is vital to overcoming them. We tend to fear what we do not understand. Learning about your fear and why you are experiencing it will help you to overcome the anxieties that accompany your strong feelings of apprehension and maybe even terror. This knowledge will better equip you to manage not only the situation, but also future dilemmas.

Examine your fears and anxieties. Learn to identify what triggers and feeds them. Then educate yourself with solutions for overcoming them. In time, instead of looking for avenues of retreat, you’ll be confidently proclaiming: “Been there, done that!” And chalking up victories big and small along the way.

This ability to face your fears head-on will eventually lead you to freedom. Freedom to stand up and be recognized as a person of value. Freedom to live your life on your terms. Freedom to unleash the talents and abilities you have locked inside for too long. This all starts with looking your fears in the eye and considering the message they have for you. Fear is not a bad thing, it comes with a message of the need for you to take action. You need to be the one to manage your fears. Control them, don’t let them control you.

Being aware of your fear is smart. Overcoming it is the mark of a successful person. Seth Godin

It's your life

This life is the only one you have. You can choose to peek through the peephole when opportunity in the form of a problem or conflict knocks at your door and lock the deadbolt. Or you can open that door and greet the experience with a firm and friendly, “Hi, how ya’ doing!?” It’s completely up to you.


Letting an abusive partner control you is not ok. Accepting to work in a situation where you are unappreciated isn’t acceptable. Believing that you are not worthy of achieving your goals or that someone has it better than you, will never allow you to unlock your potential. When trouble knocks you down, get up and force a smile, Then punch it right back. Accept nothing but the best from yourself each and every day. Like weight training, you will grow stronger with practice. The key is to keep working to combat your fears. If you fall off the horse, get up and try again. You won’t get today back, so do what you can to win this day.

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Live your life with purpose

Living a life of purpose makes it worth celebrating. It creates wealth that can never be taken away. Living with purpose gives you a reason to get out of bed every morning and leaves you feeling content as you lay your head down on your pillow each night.

Though, you may find it difficult to focus in on what you are meant to contribute in your lifetime. Finding purpose is something important, and you can discover yours by listening for your calling or creating yourself.

As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being.

Listen to Your Environment

What were you born to do? Finding purpose from what comes naturally and in areas which you excel at puts you a step ahead. You may feel the need to deny these skills and abilities because they make you stand out from your peers. Don’t!

You were born to be special. Your natural talents are actually just a starting point. They give you opportunities to move beyond the norm and achieve unbelievable success if you are bold enough to embrace that.

Many times in sports the best players not only have the most ability but also the strongest work ethic. They are the ones who show up early and stay late. These players work with private coaches during the off season to get 1% better, knowing that those gains move them from great to all-stars and Hall of Fame level careers. If you are willing to put in the work, you can become spectacular too.

What comes easy for you?

There are things you do easily, and often dismissed as not a big deal, that are difficult for others to accomplish. Consider how you can use those abilities to make a difference in your life and the lives of others. Find steps to expand and develop these talents.

What do you like to do?

Consider some things you like to do and how you can make an impact through those. Maybe you are like me, a generalist as opposed to a specialist. I dabble in many areas from music to neuroscience with just a sliver of knowledge in a variety of areas. This joy for education helps me to understand situations and people in novel ways that few others see. I can then transfer information taken from one source and apply it to another. Helping bridge gaps for others.

Is there a purpose hiding in your past?

While traumatic experiences create memories that you would rather forget, you have survived a harrowing experience. As you ponder, why me? Consider what you can do to find a sense of purpose that takes you out of that unpleasantness and into an opportunity to aid others who may find themselves in similar situations to your own.

Your horrific experience is not the end of your life, just a chapter of it. Now discover what comes next and unlock the amazing powers that have been growing inside of you, waiting for the opportunity to be utilized.

Such was the case with Louis Braille, who lost his sight at the age of three. Frustrated by the lack of written knowledge available to those that could not see, he invented the Braille writing system by the age of 15.

Despite the system not being utilized in his lifetime, he continued to perfect it for uses in music, science and mathematics, textbooks, popular writing and correspondence. His system is still used around the world today as the de facto international written communication standard for the blind.

You may be like Louis Braille, finding the strength and purpose in your life through survival. Look those life altering experiences in the face. Then find the courage to make a difference in your life and the lives of others.

If you are finding it difficult to surmount those experiences, take a deep breath and do what you can to put the past behind you. What’s done is done, it’s history. Focus on today, and how you can build yourself a brighter tomorrow.

Sometimes it's just a matter of serendipity

If you have been fortunate enough to find talent and purpose through a serendipitous experience, such as a friend’s suggestion to try a new activity, or perhaps you stumbled on a fresh idea that has meaning for you in a video, article, or class, take the time to deeply explore these opportunities and the life changing effect success in one of these areas could have for you.

This is how I got started in writing. A friend suggested I try writing for an audience, and it has given me a way to share ideas and experiences with more people than I could have ever imagined. It’s possible that you are being guided towards a life changing contribution too.

Above all, listen. Regardless of how it got there, a desire to contribute is sprouting inside of you, and it is up to you to discover and nurture that.

When all else fails, create your own purpose

If you have difficulty finding purpose in your life through listening to your environment and past experiences, you can manufacture it.

Consider how you want to contribute and go for it. Take action every day or week, no matter how small. As you make progress, you will gain momentum. That force will help you through the slow times when you feel like your contributions are insignificant and a waste of time. They are neither. Sometimes the steps and success are visible and rewarding, and other times life is just a grind.

As you work to make contributions, take some time to get the bird’s-eye view. Stop and reflect on your journey. That will help you understand the next few steps forward. Don’t be afraid to readjust your methods and goals. With the clearer vision you have after you have gotten down the road a bit, you can chart more effective future steps.

The greatest achievement was at first and for a time a dream. The oak sleeps in the acorn, the bird waits in the egg, and in the highest vision of the soul a waking angel stirs. Dreams are the seedlings of realities.

Summary

Reacquaint yourself with those experiences where you felt you had made a difference, even in the smallest of ways. Then focus on how you can continue to have an impact by taking action one step at a time. In these ways, your life will have a definite purpose.

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How you can be more empathetic

pensive grandmother with granddaughter having interesting conversation while cooking together in light modern kitchen

The quickest way to gain credibility is to show that you care.

Treating others with empathy is something we are taught from childhood. Our elders would often say, “put yourself in their shoes.” We have come to believe that listening to and intellectualizing how others are feeling is enough. That is just the tip of the iceberg. Practicing real empathy is harder than that. It requires us to consider not only what but also why, others do what they do. When we can do that, we gain a deeper understanding of the other person, their needs and contributions.

Empathy is about finding echoes of another person in yourself.

Understand feelings

The first step of acting with empathy is understanding emotions. Our emotions are strong influencers in our decisions, both to attract and distance intended feelings. To get at the heart of another’s emotions is to have a better understanding of your own as well. 

When communicating with another person, consider initially how you would feel in their situation. Then ask questions to understand how they perceive the situation and why. Their view of the situation and needs will be different from your own, so listen deeply. This will help you understand what the person needs and how you can support them. When you understand the underlying cause of their emotions, you will improve your ability to consider the issues from their point of view.

Empathy is about standing in someone else's shoes, feeling with his or her heart, seeing with his or her eyes. Not only is empathy hard to outsource and automate, but it makes the world a better place.

Consider Preferences, Culture, And Motivations

Beyond the feelings and emotions of others lie their cultural influences, personality and mitigating circumstances. Considering these areas takes a lot of patience. We often want to use our own lense to see the world. But thinking about the other person’s cultural background (family, local, regional, and/or national), their experiences and their level of tolerance for novel and uncomfortable situations will help you to catch the nuances of what the true intention is beyond the words.

We All Act With Good Intentions

The vast majority of us want to see world peace, get along with our neighbors, and make gratifying contributions to our communities. When someone behaves in a way we judge as counter to this, consider how their action works towards those ends (even as part of something bigger). Interpreting the solution from their point of view will help you work together to find more viable alternatives in unraveling bigger challenges. 

Bob is planning on making a new recipe tonight, Chicken breast with roasted tomato. He needs those tomatoes to be soft and ripe. Unfortunately, all of them were a bit hard. So, he left them on the counter this morning with the intention of softening them up a bit during the day. Mary saw the tomatoes on the counter and assumed Bob had forgotten to put them back in the fridge before going to work.

That evening when Bob returned home, knowing that he had left the tomatoes on the kitchen counter, he was sure he had lost his mind, confused by the fact that he could not find them anywhere. When he opened the fridge there they were, just as fresh and hard as they had been this morning. He was more than angry. His plans had been completely disrupted. 

When he asked Mary about the tomatoes, she said that she had noticed them on the counter and thought he had forgotten to put them away. Anticipating a tomato and cucumber salad as part of a nice summer dinner, and that these ones were in perfect condition for that. She put them in a paper bag and set them back in the refrigerator.

Both people had good reason for their action and worked with the best of intentions for making use of those tomatoes. Yet without communication, each person’s action disrupted the plans of the other. Through an empathetic discussion, they will be able to decide whether to have the salad today or the chicken tomorrow. 

We always consider the intentions of our own actions. However, when it comes to others, we focus only on the behavior. We usually don’t take the time to consider their point of view, only considering the results as acceptable or unacceptable. Oftentimes, we incorrectly believe the other person’s action was a deliberate attempt to stir up problems, create conflict, or foster ill will. That is just not true. Instead, we need to take the time to focus on the ideal that they had good intentions when deciding on and taking their course of action. After such consideration, we can work together to discover future steps that lead to mutually beneficial results.

The opposite of anger is not calmness, its empathy.

Servant Leadership

In our relationships, if we focus on how we can serve others and through our service inspire them to pay it forward, we can create positive momentum alongside a sense of understanding of those around us. Doing this builds quality relationships that continue to build deep connections and understanding.

3 Steps to Being More Empathetic

Be in the moment

Focus your attention on the other person.  Watch them as they speak. Listen for the words they choose, the tone in their voice and facial expressions. Really give them your undivided attention. Tune out everything else and focus on the conversation.

Pay attention to body language

Listen not just for what they say, but also how they say it. Look at their facial expressions. Notice the way they fidget and their body positioning. These things are indicators of what is going on inside. 

Test Your Understanding

Use paraphrasing techniques and draw conclusions based on the previous points. Then ask them if you are hearing them correctly. You can use this as a springboard for developing solutions together.

A prerequisite to empathy is simply paying attention to the person in pain.

Summary

 Practicing empathy requires us to slow down, look others in the eye and consider situations from their point of view. We have to do more than put ourselves in their shoes, we need to live in their skin for a moment. While being truly empathetic can seem hard.. Practicing it at any level of ability will be appreciated by those you interact with.

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You Need Someone to Talk to

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There are so many important  things going on in our lives that we really need someone to talk to and share ideas in order to understand their purpose.  Whether those things are good or bad, it helps to talk about them with someone who will give you their undivided attention, even if it’s only for a few minutes. These dreams and difficulties we hold inside for fear that no one else could possibly understand us need to be shown the light of day. When you talk about your joys and concerns you make them tangible, and getting them out in the open you will give you a fresh perspective on them, allowing you to inspect and evaluate these issues in clear and vivid detail.

You just call out my name and you know wherever I am I will be there. You’ve got a friend.

But I can’t share my deepest thoughts with just anybody

It may seem frightening to let those deep secrets out of the closet. But there is no better way to face the issues that plague you and find viable solutions than to talk about them. Explain what you want your friend to do. For example, if you want them to listen, you might say, “I’m so frustrated that I need to tell you what happened this morning.” Or if you need  some advice, you might start the conversation with, “I am having a problem communicating with my daughter and need your advice.”  Start the conversation with your expectations for the conversation. 

Find someone you can share your deepest thoughts with. This  may require you to hear what is burning inside them too. Welcome the opportunity to build a bond and improve your communication skills. In discussing their issues, you may gain deeper insight into your own as well. Understand that if they are a good listening partner but don’t want to share their secrets, you should also find someone else to help and pay their support forward. This allows their kindness to create a ripple.

Trouble shared is trouble halved.

Be ready for direct feedback

The best feedback is actionable. It tells you something you can do right now to move forward. Often actionable feedback is direct and harsh. You may wince because it is something you don’t want to hear or have been avoiding, but take your medicine all at one time. You asked for the advice and you trust the person you are talking with. Keep in mind that it is through compassion and good intentions that they are providing you advice.. Don’t take them, or their time, for granted. 

You should also ask questions to understand the motivation and perspective they used to devise the solution. You may not agree, but at least listen graciously and consider what they said. Before dismissing the ideas, consider  how you would apply  the advice. If you are not sold on their suggestions, create an alternative option that moves you forward. It is vital that you consider some solution to work with from these types of conversations, otherwise it’s just a pity party. Those don’t serve anyone’s interest.

5 Places you can turn to with your problems and concerns

Friends

Friends can be a great resource for talking through personal growth and persisting dilemmas. Real friends care about you and your progress. You have a shared history that may provide a basis for deep understanding of your situation. Friends may be inclined to present ideas in a manner similar to the way you do because of the commonalities. For these reasons, they are a good resource for talking through your issues. 

However, friends may not always listen deeply or they may be dealing with their own overwhelming problems. They may still perceive of you as the kid from their childhood, or their drinking buddy whom they shared their woes with on Friday nights a few years ago. They may not see the version of you that exists today. That can be frustrating when trying to clear your current hurdle or get a fresh perspective on next steps to achieving success.

Trouble is part of your life - if you don't share it, you don't give the person who loves you a chance to love you enough.

Mental Health Professionals

Psychiatrists, psychologists and counselors are all trained in the understanding of the human mind and how we handle crises, These people can help you cope with issues now based on conquering roadblocks in your past. They may show you new techniques for overcoming recurring problems and guide you to overcoming challenges one step at a time.

Mental Health Professionals

Psychiatrists, psychologists and counselors are all trained in the understanding of the human mind and how we handle crises, These people can help you cope with issues now based on conquering roadblocks in your past. They may show you new techniques for overcoming recurring problems and guide you to overcoming challenges one step at a time.

Coaches and Mentors

Professional-minded coaches and mentors differ from counselors and mental health experts. Coaches and mentors are concerned with your future progress, not your past. As a professional coach and mentor, for example, my concern is where you are going, not where you have been. To me, you’re the total sum of all your previous experiences, and you will carry that baggage with you wherever you go. This outlook is very different from what you will get when speaking with mental health professionals who often apply familiar labels for your situation in order to identify your predicament or friends who may see things through their personal point of view.

Coaches and mentors are more mindful of your development. They will work with you on where you are going and don’t pay attention as much to where you’ve been as mental health professionals do. Since their relationship with you is professional rather than personal, they are motivated to see you succeed. Unlike talking to friends, coaches sole objective is your progress with no hidden agendas. 

Mentors have often been through similar situations as your own. They acquired  wisdom through hindsight. This knowledge can help you avoid pitfalls and speed up your development, because you can learn from their mistakes. Working with a mentor can help you lay the foundation for success or be an ongoing relationship that sees you through valleys and over the peaks too.

A coach, on the other hand, will help you improve a specific ability. You may seek a coach for public speaking and presentations, to manage conflict, or improve your relationships. Their advice will be more specific and directed at solving the crisis of the moment. That is not to say they will not help you through other situations down the road. Some coaches will, while others are more specialized in particular issues.

Communication leads to community, that is, to understanding, intimacy and mutual valuing.

Groups

Counseling and self-help groups are focused on bringing people together who are experiencing similar issues. They are also good places to discuss your concerns with like-minded people. Because they have walked a similar path, they will be more empathetic to you and the resources at your disposal to manage this phase of life.

These groups are often anonymous, so you can share your deepest thoughts without concern for who may find out about what you said later. Some groups like AA are beneficial for keeping on a path and handling struggles that last a lifetime. While others, like masterminds, will help you to climb to the next peak. If working with a group sounds appealing to you, try it out and see if it is a good fit. If it’s not, try another one. Good groups are about chemistry and they will all be a little different, even if the programs are the same.

Virtual  Mentors

Virtual mentors are people who you learn from via books, websites, podcasts, etc. Some people like reading biographies and find insight from the lives of others. Listening to talks and reading books from motivational speakers like Napoleon Hill, Zig Ziglar or Dr. Wayne Dyer may also help you tap their experiences to find answers on your journey. 

Virtual mentors have made available hundreds if not thousands of hours of content you can use to develop yourself and find solutions to the dilemmas you face. While not communicating directly with these thought leaders, you are gaining a wider base of understating to apply in moving towards where you want to go. Digital mentors help you know that you are not alone and that others have walked a similar path to your own. 

If you choose to utilize this do it yourself approach, you may want to write about your dilemmas and what you’re learning through their insights to give voice and consideration to how they would respond in your situation. Many good solutions start with the words, “What would Ben Franklin do?”

Summary

You need not carry life’s burden alone. There are people you can talk to that will provide you a fresh perspective on those predicaments you are facing. Consider what kind of help you need, an ear, advice or a model. Then seek out a friend, mental health professional, group or even a virtual  mentor. The clarity you find will have you wondering why you didn’t do this before.

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You Are What You Eat

abundance agriculture bananas batch

Get a daily dose of positivity

Your mind needs its daily helping of nutrition, just like your body. So what kind of nutrition does it need? It needs something positive for you to feel good about who you are and what you’re doing. You know what they say, “You are what you eat.”

Too often we sit down and read, or watch the news. Most of these stories focus on the negative. Crime, destruction and lack are common themes of most media outlets. To be more positive you need to shift your time away from these negativity snacks and towards a healthy diet of positivity and prosperity.

Choose what you consume

Filling your mind with positives will help you to reduce doubt and the feeling of helplessness. It is not something you can do just one time and expect lasting results, you’ve got to take your positivity daily. The world’s most successful people know this and they pay top dollar just to be in the presence of eternally optimistic people. You can do that too, inexpensively through video channels, podcasts, books and websites. 

Whether you choose old masters like Zig Zigglar, Earl Nightingale and Wayne Dyer, or a newer breed of motivational experts like Nick Vujicic, Tony Robbins and Eckhart Tolle. You will find that starting your day with a spoonful of their positivity will help you to feel more confident throughout your day.

Positivity helps you to keep limiting beliefs at bay. Limiting beliefs like “I can’t do it”, “I deserve to be unhappy”. “This always happens, so why should I expect anything different?” create a deep pain inside you that traps in your situation. Here Tony Robbins talks about how limiting beliefs create negative cycles and how quickly you can change them using what he calls ‘The Dickens Effect’

Positive affirmations

Another way to infuse your day with positivity is through affirmations. Positive affirmations are self-talk that focuses on what you can do and what is positive in your life. Doing affirmations helps you to increase your optimism and feeling of achievement. These help to chase away limiting beliefs that hold you in patterns which restrict your confidence in yourself and what is possible in your life. Here are 10 examples of positive affirmations. Use these, seek out others specific to your situation or make up your own.

  • Day by day in little ways, I am getting stronger.
  • If my mind can perceive it, my will can achieve it.
  • I will be the best version of myself today.
  • The only thing that stands between me and success is me.
  • This day is blessed, it is up to me to use its precious gifts.
  • I am a winner.
  • By meeting life’s challenges today, I will be more prosperous.
  • I will defeat my demons today.
  • The challenges I face today will make me a better person tomorrow.
  • At the end of the day, I will find pride in something I accomplished today.

Spiritual reading

Spiritual readings are also beneficial. Create a habit to take in a few verses or pages a day. This will give you a broader perspective on the issues and conflicts you face throughout the day, opening your mind to a plethora of opportunities you may not have considered otherwise. Enjoy these readings by ingesting them slowly, word by word. Let the ideas and concepts that resonate with you stick in your long term memory so that you can recall their lessons in the future.

You'll start to notice a change

Once you have let positivity in, it is hard to close the door to it. Eventually, you will start moving the needle towards having a more positive outlook on life.To continue the momentum you need to share your newfound optimism. Spreading that good feeling will not only help others but yourself as well. You will find that your moods are contagious.  So deliberately sharing positivity will help you to change your thought patterns and invite opportunity.

Increasing positive self talk reduces the space for negative ideas. Self talk, those ideas and internal dialogues you have, has a large impact on how you interact with your environment. Apart from listening to that conversation, actively change the way you frame those statements and questions to make them more positive ones. Here are some examples.

It’s too difficult. How can I get this done?

I don’t think I’ll like that. I don’t know if I’ll like it or not until I try.

It’s my fault. Let’s explore why this did not work.

This always happens. What can I do to make things better next time?

Summary

Finding ways to entertain positivity in your day will help you to have a more optimistic and happy disposition. It will support you in facing your challenges with a more creative approach. It will also make you more pleasant company, but it does take reinforcement to keep moving in the right direction. What you focus on expands, so choose to focus on the positive aspects of your situations and accept the challenges. They will move you forward.

According to the Mayo Clinic there are several benefits to being positive, those include: increased life span, lower rates of depression, better psychological and physical well-being, better cardiovascular health and reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease and better coping skills during hardships and times of stress. 

And that all starts with adding a dose of positivity to your life.

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Manage your habits to accomplish more

Thanks to Alex Guillaume for sharing their work on Unsplash.

Focus on the details that make up your day

Watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become your actions; watch your actions, they become your habits; watch your habits, they become your character; watch your character, it becomes your destiny.

By scheduling the next day before I left the office for the night, I departed work with a clear mind, and I stopped having to bring physical or mental tasks home.

In essence, if we want to direct our lives, we must take control of our consistent actions. It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives, but what we do consistently.

Summary

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The Greatest Love of All

Photo by Chermiti Mohamed on Unsplash

You can’t give what you don’t have

Mainstream media has created images of life that are difficult, if not impossible, for us to compete with. This leaves most of us feeling inadequate. Adding to on those feelings of inadequacy are experiences like losing a job, ending a relationship or struggling to gain a new talent. All these experiences can lead to feelings of disillusionment. To combat that negative self talk, you need to believe there is something special in you and about you. Have faith in yourself and learn to love the person inside. 

Over a lifetime you will spend many more years with yourself than any friend, partner or family member. You know all the secrets, all the sacrifices and all the dashed dreams. You know the hard work that went into your accomplishments and the lesson learned from your failures. Find a way to love and be happy with the person you see in the mirror. To love yourself is to accept who you are, despite your flaws and inadequacies. Loving yourself means that you enjoy spending time with yourself, and that you are your own biggest fan regardless of the circumstances. Love yourself and your world will blossom. Here are three ways to enhance your self love.

Don’t take others opinions of you at face value

Relying on others for your feeling of self-worth is dangerous. Outsiders do not always have your best interest at heart. In actuality, they have their own agendas. Those are independent of and sometimes in direct conflict with yours. Seeking praise from someone else will only get you short-lived satisfaction. However, appreciating yourself and your accomplishments will feed your self-confidence continually.

Self-love focuses on benevolence, creating harmony with your environment, and high levels of self-esteem.

Accept the person you are

You are much better off accepting the person you are, with all your faults and frailties. Finding peace with yourself allows you to be an authentic contributor to your own life and establishes a sense of accountability to yourself. If there is something you don’t like, change it. If you are unsatisfied with the quality of your efforts, find ways to perform better. Having a deep sense of love and appreciation for yourself allows you to know what you’re capable of and increase your commitment to levels only you know you are capable of achieving. This leads to an enhanced sense of pride. When you have the confidence that comes with being content with yourself, you will see others as the valuable beings they are as well

Work on your self esteem

If there is one thing that leads to a deeper sense of self love, it is a high level of self esteem. When you feel good in your own skin, you can readily accept the world around you. Self-esteem doesn’t mean you need to feel that you are superior to others. It’s more about being comfortable with who you are so you can authentically engage in your environment. Start with eye-to-eye affirmations in the mirror. Tell yourself, “I love you” and “I’m glad to be me.” These will help you feel deep inside that you cannot trade your situation for someone else’s. You are who you are. You are where you need to be right now. Get busy fighting your good fight.

It is said that you cannot give what you don’t have. Therefore to give honest, deep and sincere love to others, you need to start by giving and receiving it from yourself. You do that through respect, trust and bringing a sense of joy to being who you are. This allows you to be in harmony with your environment. When you love yourself you are more supportive,  cooperative, and interested in others. You want them to flourish for their own benefit, with no hidden agendas.

I think the most important thing in life is self-love, because if you don't have self-love, and respect for everything about your own body, your own soul, your own capsule, then how can you have an authentic relationship with anyone else?

As you develop feelings of love and respect for yourself, hold yourself accountable to giving your best effort, win or lose. Love is not always soft. Sometimes you need to challenge yourself to become a better version of who you are.You develop trust through being true to yourself, your beliefs and your principles. Enjoy being with yourself by having a deeper understanding of your likes and dislikes, your preferences and your distinct tastes. As you experience these things, whether alone or with others, you will enjoy that you are able to have authentically fulfilling experiences that sustain the beautiful person you are.

Putting yourself first is an act of self-love

We have been told since we were kids that putting yourself first is selfish. That this approach to life will put-off those around us. That couldn’t be further from the truth. If you are going to give your best you need to understand how to achieve your best. What environment do you need? What tools?  What emotional state do you need to be in? Focusing on your needs will help you serve others as well. I know what I need to do when preparing to lead a seminar.  I don’t let anything get between me and my preparation, doing less would make me feel as if I were cheating my  clients. 

If you are going to accept no less than your best, you have to create the environment to do so. It’s not selfish at all, it’s being responsible to yourself and those your actions serve.

Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, it's at the end of your arm, as you get older, remember you have another hand: The first is to help yourself, the second is to help others.

Self-love vs. Narcissism

Those who consider putting yourself first a selfish act may be confusing self-love with narcissism. Self-love focuses on benevolence, creating harmony with your environment, and high levels of self-esteem. Narcissism is characterized by a need for being the center of attention, fulfillment through recognition, and a tendency to be antagonistic. This article by Sarah Elizabeth Malinak, M. Div. explains more about the differences between Self-love and Narcissism.

Self-love has very little to do with how you feel about your outer self. It's about accepting all of yourself.

Narcissists thirst for recognition and perfection, are competitive to a fault, are always right (even when they are wrong) and quick to assign blame. Yet they are slow to acknowledge their faults. When you have self-love, you do not need these false supports. You rely on creating good will, and gratitude. You have an authentic appreciation of your life and situation despite the flaws and difficulties.

Developing self-love is challenging. It requires you to accept yourself completely with all your scars and imperfections. Doing this, you can continue to develop into the best version of yourself. 

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When your emotions talk, are you listening?

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Get to know your emotions

Your emotions are a set of powerful tools. Abraham-Hicks, best selling author of The Law of Attraction, calls this your emotional GPS. Experiencing emotions warns you of dangers, draws you into pleasant experiences and triggers an increasingly wide variety of responses that continues to grow as you understand your emotions and what they are trying to tell you.

According to Joshua Freedman, the CEO and founder of Six Seconds Emotional Intelligence Network, there are approximately 3,000 words for describing emotions in the English language. If you do not have an adequate emotion lexicon, you will naturally lump the description of your feelings into categories too small to effectively express what you are experiencing. One way to build your vocabulary of emotions is to use the Plutchik Wheel of Emotions.

Plutchik's Wheel of Emotions

How to use Plutchick's Wheel of Emotions

Using the emotions wheel to identify emotions starts with understanding the eight base emotions: anger, anticipation, joy, trust, fear, surprise, sadness and disgust. Each of these has an opposite. Anticipation is the opposite of surprise. Joy is opposite sadness. Trust and disgust are opposites, and fear opposes anger. As you look at the wheel, emotions are identified across a scale. There are names for the different intensities of these feelings. For example, on the scale moving from sadness to joy we would experience pensiveness, sadness, grief, serenity, joy and ecstasy. You may have feelings of optimism and love in happier moments, while emotions like remorse and disapproval could be linked to those times you are feeling down. The wheel identifies 32 emotional states, using synonyms and antonyms that will bring your emotion vocabulary to well over 100 expressions, which is more than enough to start taking an emotional inventory.

Emotions are neither good nor bad. They are a method of communication between your nervous system, your body and your conscious mind.

Using the emotions wheel to identify emotions starts with understanding the eight base emotions: anger, anticipation, joy, trust, fear, surprise, sadness and disgust. Each of these has an opposite. Anticipation is the opposite of surprise. Joy is opposite sadness. Trust and disgust are opposites, and fear opposes anger. As you look at the wheel, emotions are identified across a scale. There are names for the different intensities of these feelings. For example, on the scale moving from sadness to joy we would experience pensiveness, sadness, grief, serenity, joy and ecstasy. You may have feelings of optimism and love in happier moments, while emotions like remorse and disapproval could be linked to those times you are feeling down. The wheel identifies 32 emotional states, using synonyms and antonyms that will bring your emotion vocabulary to well over 100 expressions, which is more than enough to start taking an emotional inventory.

Now that you have internalized definitions of emotions and a scale for their level of intensity, you can identify what you are feeling in a nuanced way, not just in the extreme moments, but also in a wider variety of situations. Using the levels of intensity from above, you can now take an emotional inventory with the help of a journal or note taking app. This is an ideal way to document what’s going on inside of you. According to Harvard neuroanatomist Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, unfueled emotions only last only 90 seconds, so you’ll need to increase your ability to identify them quickly.

Listen to your emotions

The value in identifying emotions is not just in those 90 seconds when they are the most intense. It’s what you do after that really counts. Emotions are the trigger point. Considering what caused the emotion is almost as important as what you do once you have experienced that feeling. Intensifying or diluting is up to you.

Emotions used to give us two options: fight or flight. Today, however, there are many more options for responding to emotional signals. For example, we might need to consider a response, ask a question, or quickly invent a solution. By capturing the emotion, then pausing to consider how you will respond, you are becoming emotionally intelligent.

There are however, real dangers to just sweeping those feelings under the rug. A failure to recognize and effectively work through your emotions leads to high levels of stress, depression and a wide range of physical and mental health problems. You can’t fix a problem until you recognize it. Understanding emotions is vital to your ability to diagnose problems and reproduce pleasant experiences as well.

Respond to your emotions

It is important to realize that the discomfort that comes from emotions is not a bad thing. It helps move you to another action. Emotions that you consider to be negative could be alerting you to a high level of risk or that you need to have more information about a situation before responding.

As scientists and emotional intelligence practitioners learn more about these sensations, it is becoming increasingly apparent that these feelings are a means of our nervous system communicating with our conscious minds. As a result, it makes more sense to read emotions as non-verbal messages and respond to them. Instead of reacting immediately to the stimuli. Once you experience an emotion, stop and think about what to do with that information before acting.

There are approximately 3,000 words for describing emotions in the English language.

You will find that your responses are much more beneficial to your well-being when you add this cognitive step to your process. In fact, you may find that the energy created by a bad feeling can be redirected in a positive direction. Redirection creates momentum that moves you towards your target at a force greater than complaining and anger ever will. I call this the catapult effect. Basically, the catapult effect states that if you first react negatively to an emotion, you need to get back to zero before you can move in a positive direction. But by processing the emotion intellectually (at zero) and creating a viable solution, you can create positive momentum that will catapult you forward towards your desired results. You can read more about my theory here.

Emotions are neither good nor bad

Emotions are neither good nor bad. They are a method of communication between your nervous system, your body and your conscious mind. By widening your emotional lexicon you will more effectively identify your emotions, and be able to interpret with greater clarity the messages your nervous system is providing you. Then you can devise solutions that are intelligent and effective, advancing you in a direction that benefits your well being.

The best way to get a clear picture of your emotional intelligence is by taking an Emotional Quotient (EQ) test. Here is a free one from Mind Tools that will get you started. What is your EQ?