What’s So Special About Me?

Let your light shine

Can you describe your authentic self?  Do you even know what it means to be your authentic self?  Your authentic self is the real you; the genuine you; the spontaneous and free version of you.  There are many contributing factors from your history that may have prevented you from being your true, authentic self.  So, what do you think?  Do you know your innate, authentic self?

Try listing the qualities of your authentic, true self.  For example, here are some of my authentic qualities:  outgoing, welcoming, encouraging, inviting, open-minded, creative and expressive.  However, in my history I was shamed for many of these qualities.  I was taught that I was too much; that my personality was too big.

Therefore, throughout the years I have struggled to discover who I most authentically am and to learn to accept these parts of myself.  For example, on a scale of outgoingness I am at the very high end.  I have slowly learned to enjoy and embrace this aspect of me.  And, as I have aged I have learned how to monitor my energy by paying attention to social and cultural clues.  Many are intimidated by my strong personality qualities and I am much more accepting of this truth now.

Most important is to identify and take ownership of your authentic self.  If you are not clear, I encourage you to take time to learn about these aspects.  Without this self-awareness I don’t believe you truly can be happy and free.  You may have similarities to others and yet you are uniquely you!  I encourage you to discover and embrace your own special qualities.  Next is to surrounding yourself with close people that accept, embrace and love you for your authentic self.

Examine your most significant relationships.  Is your authentic self encouraged, accepted, appreciated and celebrated by these people? Or do you often feel put down, shamed or judged?  Do you tend to adjust yourself by trying to accommodate the other person so they will accept you?   This person could be your partner, parent, sibling etc.  In effect, you are basically denying and shaming your essence.  If this continues for too long you may forget who you really are.  Burying your authentic self is a form of self-abuse.  This self-denial and neglect often causes one to feel depressed.

 

I encourage you to save yourself.  Start remembering who you really are.  If you don’t know, get some help.  As you dig your true self out from the grave you will come back to life.  Then slowly you can figure out how to be your genuine self in your relationships.  If you find that being who you really are with those closest to you brings great fear, that is normal.  Seek support from wise people who can help you begin to take risks or set boundaries in those relationships.  Never dim your light for someone else.  Your light not only blesses others it ignites your soul!  Shine your brightest!

 

 

Are You Proactive or Reactive?

Proactive

There seem to be many people these days that express a general dissatisfaction with their lives. Often they seem unclear about how to change or even wonder if change is possible. We all get into “ruts”, however, I am speaking more of a perpetual feeling of discontent. If you are struggling with this feeling you may be living in a reactive versus proactive manner.

What do I mean by the above statement? You are being reactive when life happens and you ebb and flow wherever and whichever way it takes you. Life and all of its circumstances control you. When you approach life more proactively you are alert and consciously aware of the direction you choose to move with the circumstances life brings. When you are proactive you take the initiative and responsibility for directing your life. Of course there are many aspects of life one cannot control (natural disasters, deaths, etc.), but I am talking about being proactive in attitude; a general stance towards life. A proactive person will not let life and its happenings win.

In what areas of your life do you need to take more responsibility and ownership? I have developed what is called “The Circle of Life” which describes various components of your life. These areas are: emotional, social, physical, spiritual, occupational and intellectual. Emotional entails your emotional and mental health. Social includes all aspects of your social lives, such as, close friends, acquaintances, lovers and family. Physical includes your physical health and also your need for physical touch and your sexual self. Spiritual is about seeking your highest level of spiritual truth and growth. Occupational involves all aspects of occupational well-being and balance including one’s financial security. Intellectual has to do with your mind’s need to be stimulated and enhanced.

The “Circle of Life” is best when seen as a whole. If you are lacking in any area and especially if you have a deficit in several areas, then you probably feel unsettled or discontent. I find it useful to review this “Circle of Life” at a minimum every six-months as a ‘self-check’ on how you are doing. It is meant to help you take responsibility for the areas that are out-of-balance so you can feel more fulfilled. Balancing your life so you can be more fulfilled is a constant challenge!

If you allow yourself to stay stagnant and do not take responsibility for the areas in which you are most lacking then you will usually feel like a victim. Victims generally feel powerless and unable to succeed. It’s unlikely that anyone would feel fulfilled with this kind of outlook or approach to life.

 

Four Sure Ways To Sabotage Your New Year’s Resolutions!

sabotage 2

Sabotaging method number one:  Aim High!    While aiming high can be advantageous in many endeavors I find that New Year’s resolutions stand a better chance of succeeding when they are more specific and realistic.  After all, the goal is to succeed at achieving these resolutions, correct?  The popular resolutions often involve losing weight and exercising more.  Aiming high might be saying “I am going to lose 60 pounds by summer.”  Or “I am going to work out six days a week.”  I would recommend you set smaller goals such as committing to losing five pounds at a time until you get to a weight you are comfortable with.  Or committing to working out a minimum of three times per week.  These are very attainable goals that you are likely to achieve.

Being Spontaneous in and of itself is a wonderful ability.  However, when it comes to succeeding with your New Year’s resolutions you will need a plan.  The idea of losing weight or working out more or spending less money, etc. are just that:  great ideas.  To make them more tangible you will need a thought out plan of action.  How will you lose weight?  Are you going to use a certain diet program?  Have you researched the program and made sure it is for you?  Also, I suggest you have back up plan in case you don’t like the initial program.  Quitting isn’t an option so having a second choice gives you some flexibility!

Devaluing yourself is sabotaging method number three!  While it is true there will usually be too much to do and too little time you have to make a conscious decision to prioritizing yourself if you want to be successful with your goals.  You have to decide you are worth it!  No guilt tripping yourself!  You will have to make your new goals a high priority.  For instance, if you decided to start a diet program to lose weight then it is critical that during the first six weeks you arrange your life so that outside of work and family duties you will be focusing on making you and your program a top priority.  For example, I started on a new diet December 27 last year.  A friend of mine was having a New Year’s Eve party.  I chose not to go because I knew there was no way I could follow my strict food program there.  It would have been a quick trip down the failure road.

Lastly, the command “Be Independent” is another path to failing at meeting your new goals.  While learning to be independent in general is a good thing, when you are seeking to learn new behaviors now is the time to ask for help.  Find a partner or two who also want to achieve similar goals.  Whether it be diet buddies or workout partners reach out and ask for support.  It is important to have emotional support with your goals.  A person you can call or text who can encourage you and help you stay motivated.   Or maybe you need to ask for additional professional help such as hiring a personal trainer, using hypnosis, a life coach or even therapy.

Are You A Giver Or A Taker?

Gift giving 6

While it is true that giving to others often brings more to the giver than the receiver and that giving is a lovely virtue; it is also just as gracious to be able to receive what others may want to offer to you! This could mean receiving a tangible gift and allowing yourself to enjoy the experience without any qualifications such as “you shouldn’t have.” However, many of the gifts others want to offer are gifts of encouragement, loving affirmations and help. Just as you feel blessed when you offer these to others it is equally true that the one offering you this gift will also feel blessed when you allow yourself to receive from them.   Remember this when you are hesitant to receive from someone: that you will be depriving them of a blessing!!!

Maybe you are reluctant to reach out to others you do sincerely care about. Maybe you don’t know what to say or what to do. For many this is very uncomfortable. My suggestion is that you don’t over think it. Most people will be grateful you even remembered them. If this person is someone close to you then pay attention to what is important to them. What do they talk about often? What activities are they involved in? For example, all my close friends know I collect cherubs. Try to be observant and you will see.

If you are struggling to reach out to someone who needs support I encourage you to allow yourself to be uncomfortable and offer that encouragement within a scope that you can tolerate. Maybe it will be sending a text or an email. Maybe you will mail a card. You might be more comfortable with “doing” such as cooking or cleaning for them. The important thing is to reach out and let that person know you are thinking of them.

Being able to both give and receive is important all year long, not just during the holidays. Each of us has a need for both!

Things Not to Say to People Who Are Grieving – #3

friendships
3.  “You shouldn’t feel that way.”

What an awful thing to say to someone who is suffering a loss.  Yet, amazingly, this has been said to many who are struggling.  Grief is one of the most unpredictable emotions.  It changes you forever.  Everyone has a right to grieve in their own way with whatever feelings they are experiencing.  You and I have no right to tell them how they should feel. When the grieving person is responding in a way that doesn’t fit with what another deems acceptable, then often that person will make a judgmental statement or behave in a way that is hurtful to the griever.

I remember when I received the news that my brother had been killed.  It was first thing in the morning.  It was shocking.  Since my family lived out of town I had to spend the day coordinating the quickest way to get home.  It wasn’t until the evening that I called my best friend from college.  When I called her I told her what happened in a very matter-of-fact way.  By that time I was completely numb; there was no sobbing, hysteria, etc.  I didn’t hear from her for three weeks!  When I did talk to her she said she didn’t call because I didn’t seem that upset about it!  We didn’t speak for a year.

That is an example of how my friend had an expectation of how I “should have” been when I called her.  She made judgments about me because I didn’t respond in the way see deemed appropriate.  And this is someone with whom I had been close.  She was not able to take into consideration what had gone on for me all day and to understand where my head was.  In fact, her clear lack of support made her judgment of me very evident.  It took a while to make amends in that relationship.

To the griever: Whatever feelings you are feeling from hour to hour, day to day are normal for you and your situation.  Please be careful not to feel guilty about your feelings.  Not all the feelings you have will make sense to you.  Surround yourself with people who can handle the depth of your feelings.  The hurt that you feel when someone you think cares cuts you off or tells you not to feel that way is significant.  Tell them when they hurt your feelings.  If they keep failing at supporting you reach out to others who do provide the support you need.  Sometimes the people who can understand your feelings may surprise you.

 

Things Not to Say to People Who Are Grieving – #2

cross
2.      “God will never give you more than you can handle.”

A while back I did an all-day workshop on loss.  During one of the exercises people wrote on the board the stupid or hurtful things people have said to them.  This response elicited strong negative feelings from those in attendance.   While this may be your belief system and even the belief system that the griever adheres too, saying it to someone who is in the midst of suffering is not encouraged.  I think people often say this because they don’t know how else to comfort the person or they feel a need to make sense of the situation.  Please be considerate of the other person and keep that thought to yourself for the time being.  This is especially true when you don’t know the person’s belief system.

Even people with a very strong faith system question God when they are going through grief.  This is normal. The loss the griever is experiencing in the moment usually feels like much more than they can handle or ever imagined experiencing.  Statements like the above can make the person feel minimized, angry and they may want to distance themselves from you due to their mixed feelings towards God’s role in their loss.  This statement tells the person that God wants them to feel this pain or that God had a part in it.  The grieving person needs time to process their feelings towards God as they move through the stages of grief.

To the griever:  I have no idea why you are suffering the loss you are experiencing.  “Why?” is a normal question that is often asked.  No one has that answer.  The situation is overwhelming.  Feeling like it is too much to handle is normal and natural.  You are only human after all.  I hope you will seek out others who understand the difficult time you are having.  This is a time when you need the safe support of those who can help you through such a confusing and dark period.  Don’t try to handle these feelings all by yourself.  Please allow yourself to lean on safe and understanding people.

What Kind of Karma Are You Creating?

Karma
Karma is a word that many of us have heard or even used ourselves. It is an interesting concept. While the meaning of Karma is more extensive than I am going to share, one simple definition by Merriam-Webster.com says that Karma is “the force created by a person’s actions that some people believe causes good or bad things to happen to people.” While some believe this Karma is transferred to future lives I will focus on our existence in this life time.

Are your actions and words creating good Karma for you? Do you feel good about how you’re leading your life? Ideally I prefer to behave in ways I feel good about. It is an honorable goal. I find it easier to do this when I am being conscious of my choices. I can more easily behave and speak in ways I want when the situation is calm and I am somewhat in control. The challenge seems to come during those other times that are unexpected, dramatic and sometimes hurtful.

I recently read a quote that said something to the effect of “How someone else behaviors with you is there Karma how you respond to them is yours.” Wow! I posted that for a while in my office as a reminder to myself. I recently had a hurtful and surprising experience happen with a medical professional in the community. It set me off balance mostly because it was hard to understand how someone could behave in such a manner. Can any of you relate? Did that then give me permission to behave in kind? I didn’t want that so I had to stay very aware of my choices in responses and also how I elected to view the situation.

What situations challenge your character? Is it the rude person in line at the store? Is it your cranky neighbor? Is it your son’s coach? The person who is driving too fast or too slow? How do you choose to react? How do you deal with frustrating situations? And are you willing to help someone when you see a need; to behave in kindness. I know this can be a challenge for many of us and I certainly haven’t been perfect. However, noticing your reactions to people is a worthy endeavor.

Creating good Karma seems like a wonderful idea. Weather you believe in Karma or not the concept of behaving in ways that display the best of you sounds like a good way to go!