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Archive for October, 2013

7 Ways to Stop Fearing What Everyone Thinks of You

So how can you stop fearing what everyone thinks of you?  Let’s take a look:

1.  Get comfortable with not knowing what other people think.

When I first started writing on this blog, I’d agonize over whether people would think what I was writing was good enough.  I desperately hoped they’d like it, and oftentimes I’d catch myself imagining they didn’t.  Then one day I realized how much energy I was wasting worrying about it.  So I’ve gradually learned to relax with simply not knowing.

Some problems in life, such as not knowing what others think of you, are not really meant to be resolved.  How people perceive you may have more to do with them than you anyway.  They may even like or dislike you simply because you’ve triggered an association in their minds by reminding them of someone they liked or disliked from their past, which has absolutely nothing to do with you.

So here’s a new mantra for you – say it, and then say it again: “This is my life, my choices, my mistakes and my lessons.  As long as I’m not hurting people, I need not worry what they think of me.”

2.  Know that most people are NOT thinking about you anyway.

Ethel Barrett once said, “We would worry less about what others think of us if we realized how seldom they do.”  Nothing could be closer to the truth.

Forget what everyone else thinks of you; chances are, they aren’t thinking about you anyway.  If you feel like they always are, understand that this perception of them watching you and critiquing your every move is a complete figment of your imagination.  It’s your own inner fears and insecurities that are creating this illusion.  It’s you judging yourself that’s the problem.

3.  Accept that someone else’s opinion is NOT your problem.

How many times have you looked at a person and initially misjudged their brilliance?  Appearances are deceptive.  How you seem to someone and how you actually are rarely congruent.  Even if they get the basic gist of who you are, they’re still missing a big piece of the puzzle.  What someone thinks of you will rarely contain the whole truth, which is fine.

If someone forms an opinion of you based on superficialities, then it’s up to them, not you, to reform those opinions based on a more objective and rational viewpoint.  Leave it to them to worry about – that is, if they even have an opinion at all.

Bottom line:  The opinions other people have about you is their problem, not yours.  The less you worry about what they think of you, the less complicated your life becomes.  

4.  Ask yourself, “Does what they think even matter?”

People will think what they want to think.  No matter how carefully you choose your words and mannerisms, there’s always a good chance they’ll be misinterpreted and twisted upside down by someone.  Does this really matter in the grand scheme of things?  No, it doesn’t.

How others see you is not important.  How you see yourself means the world.  When you’re making big decisions, remember, what you think of yourself and your life is more important than what people think of you.  Stay true to YOU.  Never be ashamed of doing what feels right.  Decide what you think is right and stick to it.

5.  See the benefit in being unique.

If you’re thinking like everyone else, you aren’t thinking.  And if you aren’t thinking, you aren’t truly living.

It’s human nature to attempt to mimic other humans we look up to – perhaps a parental figure or a celebrity – especially when we are feeling insecure in our own skin.  But attempting to be someone else will always leave us feeling empty inside.  Why?  Because what we appreciate about the people we admire is their individuality – the qualities that make them unique.  To really copy them, we need to develop our own individuality, and in that way, we would actually be less like them and more like our true selves.

We all have quirks and unique perspectives.  The more relaxed you become with your own differences, the more comfortable you will start to feel just being YOU.  Celebrate being different, off the beaten path, a little on the weird side… your own special creation.  If you find yourself feeling like a fish out of water, by all means find a new river to swim in.  But DO NOT change who you are; BE who you are.  

6.  Be fully present and aware of how you DO want to feel.

It’s OK to know how you do not want to feel, but that’s not all you should be thinking about.  Imagine someone trying to learn to read by spending all their time focusing on how they do not want to not be able to read.  It doesn’t really make any sense, does it?

Enough is enough!  Forget what you do not want to feel for a moment.  Work out how you DO want to feel right now in the present moment.  Train yourself to live right here, right now without regretting how others once made you feel, or fearing the possibility of future judgment.

If you were delivering life-saving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on your mom in public, you’d be 100% focused and present.  You wouldn’t be thinking about what bystanders thought of your hair, your body type, or the brand of jeans you were wearing.  All these inconsequential details would vanish from your consciousness.  The intensity of the situation would motivate you to choose not to care about what others might be thinking of you.  This proves, quite simply, that thinking about what others are thinking about you is YOUR CHOICE.

7.  Speak and live your truth.

Speak your truth even if your voice shakes.  Be cordial and reasonable, of course, but don’t tread carefully on every word you say.  Push your concerns of what others might think aside.  Let the consequences of doing so unravel naturally.  What you’ll find is that most of the time no one will be offended or irritated at all.  And if they do get upset, it’s likely only because you’ve started behaving in a way that makes them feel they have less power over you.

Think about it.  Why be fake?

In the end, the truth usually comes out one way or the other, and when that happens, you’re standing alone if you’ve been living a lie.  So live your whole truth starting now.  If someone gives you a hard time and says, “You’ve changed,” it’s not a bad thing.  It just means you stopped living your life their way.  Don’t apologize for it.  Instead, be open and sincere, explain how you feel, and keep doing what you know in your heart is right.

Afterthoughts

A life spent ceaselessly trying to please people who, perhaps, are incapable of ever being pleased, or trying too hard to always be seen as doing “the right thing,” is a sure road to a regretful existence.

Do more than just exist.  We all exist.  The question is:  Do you live?

I eventually realized existing without ever truly living was not what I wanted for myself.  So I made changes – I implemented all seven of the points discussed in this article and never looked back.  If you are in the same place I once was, seeking approval from everyone for every little thing you do, please take this post to heart and start making changes today.  Life is too short not to.

Your turn…

How has the fear of what other people think interfered with your life?  What has it stopped you from doing?  How have you coped?  Leave a comment below and share your insights with us.

6 Things Couples Should Stop Doing

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If your relationship with your partner doesn’t feel as healthy and happy as it once did, there’s a good chance you both need to STOP…

1.  Being too busy to be present with each other.

The best gift you can give someone you love is the purity of your full presence.  Presence is complete awareness, or paying full attention to “the now.”  If you do not find at least some amount of presence in the moments you share with your partner, it is impossible to listen, speak, compromise, or otherwise connect with them on a meaningful level.

To cultivate your presence, all you need to do is sit quietly for as long as you desire and put your full attention on your breath – thinking only of what each inhale and exhale feels like.  Don’t judge or resist your inner-workings.  Simply accept and breathe.  Practice this a few times a day, and it will start to feel more natural.  This way, when you are in the thick of a deep conversation with your partner, you can access that presence and listen without judgment or impatience, speak with clarity, and learn to fully connect and compromise.

Bottom line:  Be Present.  Give your partner your full attention.  Let them see their own beauty in your eyes.  Let them find their own voice through your listening ears.  Help them discover their own greatness in your presence.

2.  Feeling too comfortable to compliment each other.

The secret to a healthy, lasting relationship is not about how many days, months, or years you’ve been together, it’s about how much you truly love each other every day.  You must directly express this love through your words and actions.  It seems like such a small thing, but in our busy lives we often forget that a kind word, a helping hand, or just a smile and a quick “thank you” can create a bright spot in your partner’s life.

Relationships last a lifetime only when two people make a choice to keep it and work for it.  Tell your partner you love them every night, and prove it every day.  These acts of love don’t need to be extravagant; they just need to be true.

Also, acknowledging and appreciating each other’s daily victories is one of the most loving things two people can do for each other.  So before going to bed every night, take a moment to openly discuss and appreciate three things you each accomplished during the day, no matter how small.  Compliment each other and celebrate together.  What we focus on expands.  What we appreciate, appreciates in value.

3.  Resisting compromise.

Good relationships don’t just happen, and they aren’t built solely on a foundation of convenience.  They take time, patience, effort, and two people who want to be together and are willing to meet in the middle.  When there’s a disagreement, they work out a solution that works for both parties – a compromise, rather than a need for the other person to change or completely give in.

Ultimately, love is when another person’s happiness is equally as important as your own.  It’s not only about romance, candle-lit diners and walking hand in hand; it’s about a lifetime of commitment and cooperation.  Two people don’t stay in love because they sleep in the same bed, but because they share the same foundation of honesty, trust, and respect.  

4.  Wanting to be right.

When it comes to closest relationships, you don’t always have to be right, you just have to not be too worried about being wrong.  Ask yourself, “Does it really matter?”  Oftentimes it’s far better to be kind than to be right.

Express your opinions freely and politely with your partner, remembering that if your purpose is to ridicule or prove them wrong, it will only bring bitterness into your relationship.  Respecting their opinion, without judging or jumping to conclusions, always carries more weight than simply being right.

Bottom line:  Life is so much better when you focus on being happy together, rather than worrying about who is more right as an individual.

5.  Hiding personal flaws and problems from each other.

You attract a person by the qualities you show them, you keep them around based on the qualities you truly possess.  Problems and flaws are a part of everyone’s life.  If you try to hide them, you don’t give the person who loves you a chance to truly know you and love you fully.

As flawed as you might be, as out of place as you sometimes feel, and as lacking as you believe you are, you don’t have to hide the imperfect pieces of yourself from your partner.  They see your flaws as features that make you interesting, and they see your problems simply as a sign that you’re human too.

By hiding things from your partner, you allow small problems to escalate and dominate both your life and your relationship.  If you make a mistake, it might be irritating, but don’t bury it inside you.  Be open about it, address it, and move on.  Our problems are really our blessings if we use them to grow stronger, both as individuals and as couples.

6.  Trying to get even, as a replacement to forgiveness.

Getting even doesn’t help a relationship heal.  If you’re feeling pain, don’t take action that creates even more pain.  Don’t try to cover darkness with darkness.  Find the light.  Act out of love.  Do something that will enable you to move forward towards a more fulfilling reality.

If your partner makes a mistake that hurts you, and you want your relationship grow beyond it, you have to start with forgiveness.  Without it, the potential for long-term happiness in a relationship is impossible.

You don’t forgive your partner because you’re weak; you forgive them because you’re strong enough to know that human beings make mistakes.  Forgiveness is giving up your craving to hurt them for hurting you.  It doesn’t mean you’re erasing the past, or forgetting what happened.  It means you’re letting go of the resentment and pain, and instead choosing to learn from the incident and move forward with your life… and hopefully move forward with your relationship too.

Afterthoughts

The greatest relationships take a great deal of work.  They don’t just happen, or maintain themselves.  They thrive only when two people make an effort and take the risk of sharing what it is that’s going on in their heads and hearts.

Keep in mind that every couple has ups and downs, every couple argues, and that’s the way it should be – you’re a partnership, and partnerships can’t function without regular communication and compromise.  When you don’t talk it out, there’s a lot of important stuff that ends up not getting said.

And, above all, remember that it’s not all about you.  There is greatness in doing something you dislike for the sake of someone you love.

Your turn…

What relationship mistakes would you add to this post?  What should every couple stop doing to each other?  Leave a comment below and share your thoughts with us.

Truths You Will Learn Before You Find Happiness

10 Truths You Will Learn Before You Find Happiness

We are all beautiful human beings here in this world trying to find our way.  Every day we seek to better understand the meaning of our lives.  We long to discover our gifts and release them fully into the world, and we hope to find happiness and peace along the way.  For some of us the key to these desires rings loud and clear, driving what we do and how we do it.  For others, these deep seeded needs are buried below the noise of daily life, below ego, below fear, below the pressures and norms that we face in society… and thus, they are rarely addressed.

Along my own journey of self-actualization, I’ve witnessed dozens of great people discover their own paths to happiness and self-fulfillment, and I’ve noticed many common themes emerge.  In all cases, the happiness they discover and gradually develop internally is seeded by the realization of certain fundamental truths.

It seems we are all here to realize these truths, in our own way, in our own time.  And once they resonate fully, not just intellectually, but emotionally and spiritually, we are then able to find the happiness and peace we seek…

1.  It’s impossible for anyone else to define YOU.

You are indefinable.  You are the only one in this world who gets to say who you are.  Circumstances and the opinions of others can only define you if you allow them to.  Do not give away your power and the magic of your essence by putting weight on negative situations in your life or the negative words of other people.

2.  You were born with everything you need.

There is nothing you are missing.  There is no need to frantically become more, be more, do more, or get more.  You are whole and complete, and were gifted every talent and insight you needed to thrive in this world in the moment you were born.  Your only job is to accept this truth and then allow it to unfold.  Some gifts don’t become apparent until later in life.  Some insights only become clear to you once you have life experiences that unlock such wisdom from within you.  Trust in this and relax.

3.  Perfection is a man-made illusion.

We are beautifully imperfect beings, operating in a very imperfect world, and that is just the way it is meant to be.  Striving for perfection is a hollow goal, one that can never be achieved.  Society shows us doctored images of perfection constantly in marketing, media, opinions and expectations.  Do not buy into this illusion; it will only lead you into darkness.  Embrace your quirks, your flaws and the fact that life is a roller coaster at times.  Strive for excellence, have high standards… but never confuse that with the crippling behavior of perfectionism.

4.  You are NOT your thoughts.

You are the witnessing essence and consciousness behind the noise in your mind.  Your mind doesn’t define you, nor does it control you.  It is not who you are.  As soon as you recognize this, by watching your thoughts like an intrigued third-party observer, you will create instant distance from those thoughts and therefore no longer be identified with or enslaved by them.  

5.  Your beliefs can be modified to lift you up.

Whatever you believe to be true about yourself and life in the long-term becomes your reality.  Your beliefs are ingrained patterns of thinking that you build up over a lifetime.  They are habitual ways of processing the world around you.  If those beliefs don’t work in your favor, you can change them.  How?  In the very same way the negative beliefs formed in the first place – via repetitive thoughts that you accepted to be the truth.  Ingrain new beliefs by consciously choosing and repeating messages that lift you up.

6.  The past and future don’t exist.

Now is the moment.  The past is just a memory.  The future is a mental projection.  You can choose to dwell back in the past for learning and joyous reflection.  You can choose to dwell in the future for visualization and practical planning.  However, any time your awareness floats away to the past or future frequently for negative purposes, you are suffocating your ability to thrive in the only moment you ever have… the now.  Past and future literally do not exist right now – feel the freedom in this truth.  

7.  Your calling in life is to fully express who you already are.

The world will never see another human being like you.  There is no one on the face of the planet that has what you have.  Your uniqueness, in every respect, is your gift.  Life asks one thing of you… to be the full expression of yourself so that you can leave your unique imprint on all those you encounter and upon the world.  Never underestimate the power of your energy and how it ripples outwards to affect everything and everyone around you – IF you are being your full, authentic self.  Honor your intuition and act upon all your inspirations.

8.  Challenges are gifts for your growth.

Without challenges you cannot unlock your full potential.  Obstacles are opportunities for growth.  The world needs the fullness of who you are, and it is through your experiences in life that you unfold into that fullness.  How can you demonstrate willpower and strength if your resolve has never been tested?  How can you role model love and compassion if you have never faced the opposite?  Knowing there is a higher purpose within dark times, is what leads you to be at peace in the midst of those storms, knowing that you are a diamond being forged under pressure.

9.  Forgiveness is choosing happiness over hurt.

We do not forgive others in order to free them of the situation, burden, guilt or regret.  We forgive others to free ourselves and walk into compassion and love by doing so.  It is in freeing ourselves that our energy level rises, our consciousness rises, and in doing so those around us benefit too.  The words of forgiveness have a positive impact on those we forgive, but ultimately forgiveness is a choice that allows us to be happy again.  This goes for both forgiveness of others and forgiveness of self.

10.  Surrender is the essence of a happy life.

Letting go is not giving up.  Letting go is surrendering any obsessive attachment to particular people, outcomes and situations.  Surrender means showing up every day in your life with the intention to be your best self, and to do the best you know how, without expecting life to go a certain way.  Have goals, have dreams, aspire and take purposeful action, but detach from what life must look like.

The energy of someone aspiring to create their dreams, teamed with surrender, is far more powerful and creative than someone determined to create outcomes with a desperate ‘must have’ mentality.  Surrender brings inner peace and joy, and lest we forget that our outer lives are a reflection of our inner state of being.  

The floor is yours…

What would you add to this post?  What’s one realization or truth you’ve learned that has helped you find more happiness in life?  Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.

7 Shortcuts You Will Regret Taking in Life

7 Shortcuts You Will Regret Taking in Life

There is no shortcut to anywhere worth going.  There is no substitute for doing the work.  Meditate on this every day: “I will do the work.”  As Einstein once said, “Genius is 1% talent and 99% effort.”  You must run to be a runner.  You must write to be a writer.  You must actively attend to your relationships if you want them to flourish.

By all means, find ways to be more efficient.  But make no mistake that it takes diligent effort to build something worthwhile.  There are certainly some success stories out there about people who excelled rather quickly, but you will usually find they had put in years of related work long before anyone was paying attention to their seemingly rapid success.  In other words, their current state of achievement is simply all those years of work coming together flawlessly in the present.

The most effective way to handle what must be done is to do it.  Put in the required labor.  Don’t sell yourself short by taking shortcuts like these:

1.  Taking the easiest route possible.

Someday you will look back on your life and realize that everything worthwhile you’ve ever accomplished initially challenged you.  And that is as it should be, because big challenges often prepare ordinary people for extraordinary success.

Every struggle arises for a reason – for experience or a lesson.  A great journey is never easy, and no dose of adversity along the way is ever a waste of time if you learn and grow from it.

Remember, an arrow can only be shot by pulling it backwards, and such is life.  When life is pulling you back with difficulties, it means it’s going to eventually launch you forward in a positive direction.  So keep focusing, and keep aiming!

2.  Settling for the way things are by default.

The decision to settle for mediocrity is a real killer.  If you settle for just anything, you’ll never know what you’re truly worthy of.  There is ample time for you to be who you want to be.  Despite the struggles that you might be facing, never give up on yourself.  Don’t just take the easy way out and settle for less than what you know you are capable of.

Realize that it’s not always about trying to fix something that’s broken either.  Sometimes it’s about starting over and creating something new.  Sometimes you need to distance yourself to see things clearly.  Sometimes growing stronger means growing apart from old habits, relationships, and situations, and finding something different that truly moves you – something that gets you so excited you can’t wait to get out of bed in the morning.  That’s what LIVING is all about.  Don’t settle.

It’s not what you do every once in a while, but what you dedicate yourself to on a daily basis that makes a difference in the end.  Having a plan, even a flawed one at first, is better than no plan at all.

Don’t trap yourself, endlessly, in a state where you are unable to ask for directions, even though you’re terribly lost, simply because you don’t know your destination.  Figure out what you want.  When you get real about the true feelings you crave, you end up surprising yourself with an abundance of new opportunities and possibilities.

Bottom line:  One day your life will flash before your eyes.  Do your best every day to make sure it’s worth watching.  Work towards something that brings meaning to your moments.

4.  Following the crowd.

Allen Ginsberg once said, “Follow your inner moonlight; don’t hide the madness.”  In other words, in this crazy world that’s trying to make you like everyone else, find the courage to be your incredible self.

Never let what other people expect from you dictate what you expect from yourself.  Clarity about your true desires is so liberating because you get to stop proving yourself to everyone, including yourself.

We have all been placed on this earth to discover our own way, and we will never be happy if we live someone else’s idea of life.  So stop being ashamed of how you feel.  You have the right to feel any emotion that comes to you, and to follow a path that makes you happy.  Don’t compare yourself to others, or get discouraged by the success of others.  Follow your intuition, never give up on yourself, and stop expecting others to understand your journey, especially if they have not walked your same path.

5.  Putting things off.

Be frank with yourself.  The things you say you will deal with later rarely get done.  It’s time to get up and make an immediate difference in your life.  You know all those things you’ve been meaning to get done for the past month, year, etc.?  Pick one right now and start doing it.  Get your hands dirty, challenge your mind, and get sweaty if you have to.  Break out of your comforting lull and get involved.  If you feel crummy, it’ll make you feel better.  If you already feel good, it will make you feel great.

Ultimately, you will not be judged by what you say; you will be judged by what you do.  Wake up each morning determined, so you can go to bed satisfied.  Have the courage and discipline today to do what is needed instead of simply what is convenient.  Or as Pablo Picasso once said, “Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.”

6.  Ignoring people instead of forgiving them.

Forgetting people who hurt you is your gift to them; forgiving people who hurt you is your gift to yourself.  Always forgive others, not because they necessarily deserve forgiveness, but because you deserve peace of mind.  We are all one, so when we forgive others we forgive ourselves, which is the first step in the healing process.  Without forgiveness, the potential for true happiness in your life is limited.

In addition, we often tell ourselves that we’re better off without some people in our lives, and while this can be true, you should also build forgiveness into your character.  Keep in mind that some relationships will temporarily split, only to come back together twice as strong as before.  Forgiveness alone makes this possible.

7.  Cutting too many corners with your important relationships.

It hurts to love someone and not be loved in return, but what hurts even more is to love someone and never find the time to let them know how you feel.  There is no greater sadness than holding on to the loving words and deeds you never delivered to those you love.

The people you take for granted today may turn out to be the only ones you need tomorrow.  So make plenty of time for those who truly matter.  The best gift you can give them is the purity of your full attention.  Just be present with them and pay attention to the little things, because when you really miss someone, you miss the little things the most, like just laughing together.

Afterthoughts

The journey begins when we are born.  The destination is death.  So the journey is far superior to the destination.  Don’t sell yourself short!  Make your journey worthwhile every single day, because the distance we each get to travel is a mystery.

Getting where you want to go in life is not about finding a shortcut, it’s about putting in the required time and effort.  You have to set goals and fulfill your commitments, even when no one would notice but you, and know in your heart why doing so matters.

Your turn…

What would you add to this post?  When have you cut yourself short by trying to take a shortcut in life?  Leave a comment below and share your thoughts with us.

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