Change

6 Ways to Go With the Flow and Stay in the Moment

Photo by Matthew Kane on Unsplash

“Just be unattached as a child at play.” – Gangaji

 

How would it be to let go of all your concerns and fully participate in the moment? More specifically, how would you like to feel the joy of playtime, the rush of doing something wonderfully fun, discovering something new, or pushing yourself to explore unknown territory?

Researchers will tell you – and parents as well – that children instinctively know how to do this. Yet all is not lost if such a natural gift is a distant memory. As adults, while we may have forgotten how, we can rekindle the ability to shake off troubles and concentrate fully on the present moment.

In short, we can relearn how to go with the moment.

Naturally, there are times when such spontaneity is not appropriate, including when the boss is clamoring for a report and you’re nowhere near finished, or you’ve just received bad news that demands immediate action. You should not be unattached at such times.

Still, you can be in the moment, dedicated, zeroed in on what matters, adhering to a constancy of effort and making sure to accommodate deadlines.

But, getting back to having fun, being unattached as a child at play and going with the moment, here are a few suggestions on how to recapture the wonder that children naturally express.

Turn off the self-censor button.

That’s right. Start by telling yourself to stop saying no or chiding yourself that you simply can’t do something, for whatever reason. Chances are, that negative self-talk and self-criticism included the notion that it’s not adult-like or you don’t have time for this or it’s just too silly. Instead, resolve to be open to the experience.

Let go of the past.

Intrusive thoughts and memories of unpleasantness, failure, pain, loss, loneliness and disappointment may rise to the surface. This flood of negativity will deter you from being fully present and enjoying the moment. You must let go of past hurts, including the burden such memories hold over you. This does not mean that you forget the past, for when you experienced things in that moment, it contributed to who you are today. There are also good memories from the past that are worth cherishing. What’s important to remember is that there’s no reason to cling to bad memories, for the past cannot help you rewrite history. Nor can it change the future. What can, however, bring about fundamental change is going with the moment. To get started doing that, you must release the past.

Give yourself permission to feel whatever you feel in the moment.

This might be joy or delight or curiosity. It could entail a bit of trepidation or uncertainty, even a bit of fear. If it’s within the realm of possibility and doesn’t put you at an inordinate amount of risk, let your emotions play out. They may lead you to take action that your previous propensity to self-censor prohibited. Look forward with excitement to what might happen next. After all, who knows what you might learn?

Acknowledge that it’s OK to play.

Remind yourself – by saying out loud, if necessary – that it’s perfectly fine and good for you to have fun, to take a break from chores and responsibilities, to do something just because you enjoy it and want to nurture that part of yourself.

Know when it’s time to stop.

Like a kid playing in the park with friends and the sunset signals time to go home, even if you’re having the time of your life, it’s important to know and abide by limits. There is an appropriate time for play and a time when you must tend to other things. By paying attention to both, the joy you feel in the moment is in no way minimized. Indeed, it’s even more satisfying. You may not remember the hours you toiled on a report, but you do remember how much fun you had working in the garden, celebrating a memorable milestone with a loved one, laughing with your friends, reading your favorite book.

When you’re in the zone, just go with it.

You know the feeling. Being in the zone is energizing, motivating and inspiring. It’s the knowledge and certainty that you can do almost anything. The possibilities that reveal themselves when you go with the moment are unlike anything you could have predetermined or imagined. That’s another benefit to learning how to go with the moment.

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This article was originally published on Psych Central.

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Best Way to Effect Change

Best Way to Effect Change

Photo by Artem Sapegin on Unsplash

 

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” – Wayne Dyer

 

When something’s not right and you want it to change, there are several ways to go about it. No doubt you want to tailor your actions, so they reflect the best way to effect change. While taking the initiative and acting may be the quickest and most efficient approach, there are some caveats to consider. You might not have all the facts, for example, or what you do know may be distorted by perception or long-held belief. It is also quite possible that your viewpoint is skewed, thus leading to erroneous conclusions and poor judgment.

Considering that there are always going to be situations and instances where change is desirable, as well as times when only you can do something about what needs changing, perhaps the best way to effect personal and situational change is by changing the way you look at things.

Granted, this isn’t easy to do, especially if you grew up in an atmosphere of rigid compliance where any testing of authority was not tolerated, and you were constrained to act within certain boundaries. Questioning the status quo may feel like anathema now that you’re an adult may feel like an impossible task, one that you’re loathe to entertain. A little-known yet very powerful way to begin to assert your independence is by thinking outside the box you were put in when growing up.

Suppose you were always called stupid and told you’d never amount to anything. Many well-meaning parents fall into the trap of being overly critical of their children, perhaps projecting their own insecurities while wanting in good faith to ensure their offspring have a better life. That their thoughtless remarks and labels have the opposite effect may never occur to them, at least without parenting counseling. That kind of cruelty on the part of parents, siblings or others is enough to stunt anyone’s growth. Finding your own path under such circumstances was likely difficult because you believed the criticism was right. Difficult, but not impossible.

Maybe you’ve attempted to change things in your life and failed repeatedly. This also tends to put a damper on any motivation to seek further change. Again, the prospects for self-change are difficult, yet not impossible.

It is important to note that there is no directive of human behavior that requires any individual to steadfastly accept their circumstance. You have the power to effect change for yourself above all else. It doesn’t matter if you grew up impoverished, in a dysfunctional family, with no support system, suffering childhood illness, mental health disorder or some other condition. Nor does an upbringing in an affluent household guarantee the ability to enact change, even if such changed is steadfastly desired. What is necessary, however, no matter the circumstances or conditions under which you grew up, is the willingness to put aside old beliefs and negativity and look at the world around you with open eyes and an unbiased heart.

Is there a wrong you seek to make amends for? What about an injustice you believe came about as the result of your actions? What avenues can you take to create a better life for yourself than that which you came into the world to? Can you find the path to follow to achieve greater success? Is it possible to mend your ways, repair your reputation, begin to love again, heal damaged relationships, find a way to balance work and home, explore your true potential and achieve almost any goal?

You bet there is.

If you are willing to cast aside the barriers and suspend judgment so that you can take in the reality that is now, you may be surprised that what you thought was so, what seemed impossible to change, is false. What is available to you, what you can change, will not only astound but also invigorate you.

How to get started with a plan.

Once you’ve cast aside beliefs that may have held you back in the past and resolved to move forward with determination and enthusiasm, you still need a plan. Venturing forth without a firm grasp of the change you’d like to effect, or a timetable to help guide your actions and help you stay the course, or a guide to refer to so you know if you are making progress or not, the mere desire to effect change will stall. To help you navigate effecting change, your plan must consist of the following:

  • The plan must be motivating, a course of action that you can not only see yourself taking, but one that fills you with vigor and excitement. The more internally motivated you are, the more likely your chances of success. “If you can dream it, you can do it.” – Walt Disney

 

  • It must be workable, a blueprint that you readily accept and believe yourself capable of putting into action. Deciding on a plan that’s going to put you in a position of tackling goals currently far out of reach is not the way to go. You need incremental stages, perhaps smaller goals or ones that are shorter in duration, before you can feel confident of your ability to take on harder goals or ones that require skills you don’t now possess. “Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities. Without reasonable but humble confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.” – Norman Vincent Peale

 

  • To increase likelihood of success, the plan must consider potential hurdles and contain alternate scenarios and courses of action. Weigh each one according to its merits, gauging how close it gets you to your goal. “I have a number of alternatives, and each one gives me something different.” – Glenn Hoddle

 

  • The plan must also be modifiable, a guide that you can modify as conditions or needs change, or you’ve attained the goal and want to proceed to something else. Being constrained to a rigid plan is a quick recipe for disappointment and abandonment of the impetus to change. “Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.” – Tony Robbins

Expect the unexpected when proceeding to effect change. To the extent that you can bounce back from setbacks, learn from your mistakes and missteps and find the lesson that’s often hidden within seeming failure, you’ll be developing and enhancing resilience, a crucial self-strength that allows you to overcome life-changing situations and stressful circumstances.

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This article was originally published on Psych Central.

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How to Tap Into Your Capabilities

Photo by Alexey Topolyanskiy on Unsplash

Photo by Alexey Topolyanskiy on Unsplash

“You are capable of so much more than we usually dare to imagine.” – Sharon Salzberg

 

How many times do you think about doing something and then immediately discard the idea because you think you’re not capable? It’s amazing how often people sell themselves short. Just because you haven’t done something doesn’t mean you don’t have the ability or capability to do an excellent job. Perhaps some of this reluctance is rooted in fear – principally, the fear of failure. We don’t want to stumble and not complete the job or task. We want to be successful. Anything less is not acceptable. How do you tap into your capabilities? Here are some suggestions.

Open your horizons.

What we often don’t take into consideration, however, is that by denying ourselves the opportunity to show that we are capable, we further limit our horizons. Suddenly, the world is a much more confined space and we may fall into the mistaken belief that we don’t deserve to branch out and learn new things. The solution to this is to strike that barrier that seemed so impenetrable and overwhelming. Live life with no limits and see how opportunities begin to reveal themselves.

Learn from your mistakes.

Another self-limiting behavior is our avoidance of learning from our mistakes. Since everybody makes them, there must be something good that can come from the experience. Experts say that this entails analyzing what we did to find the element of wisdom in the actions we took or did not take. It’s from this that we profit from the undertaking. In fact, there’s something to learn from everything we do, and we learn by doing – whether it was successful at first, only partially successful, or not successful at all.

Seek encouragement from others.

Once the damper of self-limitation is in place, it can be incredibly hard to lift it. The support and encouragement of loved ones, family members, friends and co-workers or concerned others is an instrumental part of overcoming this self-imposed barrier. Besides, others may more quickly see talents and gifts you possess that aren’t clear to you. When you accept, and receive their encouragement, you’re more inclined to be motivated to discovery and self-growth.

Challenge outmoded beliefs.

But we also must be willing to challenge our outmoded and erroneous beliefs to stimulate our willingness to tackle the unknown. This includes going after that which we deem desirable, interesting, and worthwhile or simply to satisfy our curiosity.

Actively pursue new activities.

Maybe one way to approach cultivating our capabilities is to pursue those activities and endeavors that deliberately expose us to something unfamiliar. When we’re so used to doing the same thing day in and day out, not only can life become boring, but we also tend to become lazy. Instead of seeking anything new and different, we remain comfortable just doing our normal routine. The downside of this is that it doesn’t stimulate or motivate. It’s pure stagnation. No wonder it’s hard to discover more of what we’re capable of.

Learn one new thing every day.

Make it a point to pursue at least one new thing every day. This can be as simple as deciding to take a different route to work or talk to someone you don’t know or investigate some area of interest to see how you can get involved. Some of this is preparation and some involves a little legwork, but it all constitutes an approach that can open your eyes to possibilities and further galvanize your motivation to developing your innate capabilities.

Work on building your self-esteem.

While building self-esteem takes time and does involve navigating some detours and overcoming roadblocks, the effort you exert will pay off in the long run. Every small success or project completed adds to your self-confidence level and works to elevate your self-esteem. You must feel good about yourself to grow. It’s also important to never allow anyone else to tear you down. Refuse to internalize their criticisms, although do take to heart any valid advice, even if it goes contrary to what you currently think. You may have a blind spot when it comes to certain aspects of your behavior. Think of this as another learning experience, an opportunity to further grow.

Recognize that you have untapped potential.

Far too many people either fail to believe in or refuse to recognize their capabilities. Instead, they look at their potential as a finite resource. Besides limiting themselves in an unhealthy manner, such misguided thinking detracts from the joy of everyday living and overall well-being. The truth is that you have so much more in you than you even know – or ever believed possible. Start recognizing that you have a wealth of untapped potential. Now’s the time to dip into that, be inspired and pursue your dreams.

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This article was originally published on Psych Central.

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How to Start Making Plans When You’re Recovering from Depression

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

“You can never plan the future by the past.” – Edmund Burke

 

I know a little bit about being depressed, having worked hard together with my psychotherapist to overcome the debilitating and frightening mental health condition of depression when I was a young woman. Not only did I have a history of persistent sadness, having failed to effectively deal with the loss of my father when I was 13, I also accumulated losses and failures for the following 15 years to the point where I continually felt bad about myself. I found it hard to plan anything, other than surrendering to spontaneous pursuits, often accompanied by risky behavior. Yet, I did hold out hope I’d be able to change, to get past the cloak of depression that was my constant companion and begin to chart a different path for my life.

That I was eventually able to do so is a testament not only to the wisdom and dedication of my therapist, it shows how tenacious and resilient the human spirit can be when properly motivated, nourished and supported. What I learned is what I share today, with the fervent wish it helps someone who is in recovery from depression begin to believe in themselves and learn how to make plans for a better life.

The past has no relevance today.

Looking toward the future is an exercise many who suffer from depression are afraid to do, principally because they’re held captive by the past. I know I found it extremely difficult to let go of the fear, guilt and pain I’d carried so long. With so much baggage carried forward, is it any wonder that plans sometimes get cast aside for fear they’d turn out to be failures, just like so many did before? With compassionate guidance, I learned that this is shortsightedness in the extreme, for no momentum or traction can be gained when your eyes are firmly planted on the past.

Always learn from mistakes, as well as any successes.

Granted, it takes a certain amount of courage to shut the door on the past, particularly if those memories are recent, disastrous, and painful or one more in a lengthy line of failures. Again, I can relate to this self-defeating behavior, having tallied more than a few perceived and real failures. Yet, the most important thing to take from this is that you are not today who you were yesterday. Hopefully, you’ve learned from what didn’t work so that you don’t endlessly repeat those mistakes.

Lean on your support system as you entertain changes.

Having a good support system is also critically important as you draft plans for how you’ll go about completing goals you consider worthwhile. You must develop and make use of a staunch support system when you’re tentatively exploring options, adopting new behaviors, identifying potential goals and beginning to challenge yourself to undertake them.

You can self-renew.

But do give yourself some credit for having the tenacity to slog through some incredibly challenging work. It’s rough going through failure and disappointment. It stings, saps your immediate energy and puts a temporary damper on plans you’re working on for the future. How can you believe you’ll be successful when you’ve just experienced failure, right? You are here today, however, living testament to the restorative power within you. It’s time now to move ahead, look for new opportunities to get involved in, an interest that fires you up and you just can’t wait to pursue, and people whom you haven’t yet met who may provide that added spark that you need to act.

What you really want to know, however, is what can you do to start making plans – and stop thinking and obsessing over the past? Here are some suggestions that worked for me that may be helpful:

Adopt a hopeful outlook.

Instead of condemning yourself to repeated failure, reverse that trend. Tell yourself that this is a new day and you are moving ahead with excitement and purpose. You may need to repeat this mantra daily for it to begin to take root – and it will, it you allow it.

See the lesson in everything.

There’s always something valuable to learn from everything you do, regardless of the outcome. If you train yourself to find the kernel of wisdom in all your actions, you will boost your self-confidence and feel more empowered.

Share what works with your network.

Even when plans don’t turn out to be completely successful at first, there are some aspects of your action that does work. Be willing to share what works with those in your network who support your efforts – and listen to the suggestions they offer. You might learn something incredibly valuable that will further your own efforts.

Embrace change.

You may be fearful of change, likening it to past disastrous outcomes, but the truth is that life is filled with constant change. Without change, there would be no growth. Instead of fearing change, make it a point to embrace it, to eke every bit of knowledge and opportunity from it and make it your own. When you are in charge – and you are – change doesn’t look as formidable. That’s because you’ve put change in your go-to bag and are running with it.

Use the building-block approach.

A house doesn’t get built without going through many stages of construction. Similarly, achieving a successful outcome when working toward a goal almost always involves several steps. It isn’t just point A to point B. You may need to accommodate layers and a building-block approach. Capitalize on what you’ve learned and apply it to the next stage of development of your plan.

Always have a plan for tomorrow.

When you’re in recovery from depression, it helps to have something on your to-do list that you can turn to tomorrow. You need structure and the confidence that you have a ready-made plan to help you navigate what may be emotional or tumultuous times, to give you something you can proactively do when there’s a lull or not much else going on. Plans worked on today may prove the starting point for tomorrow’s activities. They may also lead you in new directions, to exciting discoveries, a means to expand your horizons, cultivate your talents and employ your strengths. Remember that each win is another addition to your self-esteem quotient.                                        

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This article was originally published on Psych Central.

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How to Build Character

Photo by Seth Willingham on Unsplash

Photo by Seth Willingham on Unsplash

 

“Character is a diamond that scratches every other stone.” – Cyrus A. Bartol

 

The desire to be of good character is not only a laudable effort, but also a worthwhile one that pays handsome dividends. It’s unfortunate that more people don’t see the value in striving to achieve character.

There’s nothing like good character for making an indelible impression. When faced with someone with stellar character, others cannot fail to notice and be affected by what’s right in front of them.

It doesn’t take much hard thought to comprehend what Bartol meant by likening character to a diamond. While in the literal sense diamonds do scratch other hard surfaces, including character might at first seem odd, but it really isn’t. Anyone of good character (or bad, for that matter) can make a lasting impression. Just as a scratch from a diamond that endures.

Think before acting.

Keeping this in mind, it’s important to think before we act. This is much preferred to recklessly or impulsively rushing to judgment and acting in a fashion that’s bound to be reflective of something other than true intentions. By allowing time to process adequately, possibly by taking a step back and weigh our options before acting, the likelihood of improving character increases. act.

While some might believe that life is too busy daily to care about character, that’s rather shortsighted. Holding the belief that if someone else finds what we do to be admirable, but we’re not all that interested in building character, is flawed. This line of reasoning is akin to rationalization. It’s like saying we don’t have to be responsible for what we do because we’re hampered in some way from achieving the results we want. But those are just excuses and people of good character don’t make excuses. They take measured action after thinking about what they’re going to do.

Often, however, the choices we make won’t benefit us immediately. Sometimes a certain action may help others, which is generally serves to elicit attention, at least by the recipient of our action. Yet there is much more to it than that. While benevolent action may take some time to show results, if at all, the effort does add to our character.

Think of character like a treasure trove of diamonds. They’re internally stored, they glisten and reflect goodness. The bright light is also visible to others in the form of the good that we do.

Build character in small increments.

Good character doesn’t mean you must be a saint. Everyone can work on this aspect of themselves and make incremental improvements. The secret is to take it one day at a time, one small act at a time.

While everyone is busy, instead of packing too much into today’s agenda, allow some space and time for reflection and play. Think about some small thing that can brighten another’s day. That might be a smile, inviting a friend to coffee, offering to help a co-worker with a project, or setting aside a half hour to play with the kids after work.

Little things add up. It is possible to build character painlessly over time, and realize the benefits of doing so through the admiration and respect of others.

Be patient.

For those who’ve struggled with bad decision-making, especially those who’ve worked hard to overcome problems with alcohol or drugs, trying to build character may seem like a losing battle. After all, there are so many other things to take priority, the highest one being tending to sobriety and working recovery.

Yet even with a string of bad choices in the past, anyone can learn how to restore character or build it from scratch. It does take time and effort, a willingness to persist despite setbacks. In this, it’s necessary to be patient, to keep the end goal in sight.

In the pursuit of living a life of meaning and fulfillment, working to build character goes together with all of what’s worthwhile and good. The results are also cumulative, restorative and healthy.

This article was originally published on Psych Central.

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Related posts:
10 Proactive Ways to Figure Out What’s Most Important to You
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10 Flimsiest Excuses For Not Taking Action

Photo by Tim Marshall on Unsplash.

Photo by Tim Marshall on Unsplash.

When a decision needs to be made and work must be done, instead of springing into action and doing what’s necessary, too often the temptation is to offer an excuse. Often, the excuse is a lame one, such as the following:

I don’t know how.

Did it ever occur to you that you might have been given this task or project to expand your skills, gain new insights, or expand your abilities? Don’t push it aside because you are unfamiliar with it or lack experience doing it. Doing so makes you look weak, ineffective and possibly lazy. Ask for help if you need it. That’s a more proactive approach when you need to act.

I’m not good enough.

Not everyone has high self-esteem. That doesn’t mean they’re bad people or lack motivation. They just have a fear that they won’t be able to make good on commitments. Professional help may be warranted if self-esteem issues are a continuing problem. For most people, however, using the excuse that they’re not good enough is a stall tactic. And it will only backfire.

I didn’t have any help.

OK, so you had to go it alone and could have used some assistance. But did you let your boss, friend, loved one or family member know you were having difficulty and needed help? If you failed to request help, that’s on you. Don’t use lack of help as an excuse for not acting.

I was sabotaged.

Really? Is it true that your co-workers, family members, friends or others have ganged up on you to make you look bad? Sabotage at work, home, school or elsewhere isn’t all that common, although it is rather commonplace to put forth this excuse for an inability and unwillingness to act. Your less-than-stellar results should never be minimized by blaming others. That just shows you to be a small person, not very much a part of the team.

Others can do it better.

Maybe they can, but using this excuse now – especially if your boss, teacher, friend, parent or other loved one has given you the task – is just a poor way to handle the situation. Instead, think of this as an opportunity to prove your worth, show your talents and demonstrate how you can be relied upon to see the task through.

I have too many projects now.

It might be worthwhile to look at who’s responsible for all the projects you do have. Who loaded up all these items on your desk in the first place? Could it be that you did this yourself, not anticipating the kind of conflicts you’d encounter when one or more of them ran up against each other?

The way out of this dilemma is to pare projects down to the essential, stripping away what isn’t productive, necessary or time-sensitive. Don’t take on more than you can handle.

It wasn’t my fault.

After a blunder, oversight or colossal failure, you may use this excuse to deflect criticism and point to others as the culprits. It also is a weak way to get out of doing anything further, especially to rectify the mistake you’ve already made. Whether it’s a misstep at work or elsewhere, own up to your mistake and offer suggestions on how you’ll turn it around. Otherwise, you’ll risk looking irresponsible.

I’m not feeling well.

If you’re sick, you should be at home recuperating. Don’t go into work or school or bounce around town running errands, having coffee and perpetuating the excuse that you’re not well enough to tend to your responsibilities. Besides, nobody wants to be around someone who’s got a bug, is miserable with symptoms or lolling about doing nothing. They’ll resent your presence and steer clear. Worse yet, they may have to wind up doing your work as well, and that’s not going to help the next time you need their assistance with something.

Something’s come up.

The excuse that some other pressing obligation took precedence over what you’re supposed to be doing is common. It even has legitimacy to it on occasion. The problem is that too many people fall back on this white lie as a reason to avoid acting. After a few times hearing this excuse, however, the person in charge or those who are relying on you to get things done will start discounting your reliability.

This can wait until later.

When you’re really trying to get out of a project or task, throwing out the notion that this one can be put off until another time doesn’t garner any points either. It tells the person who’s looking for results that you’re a skater, someone who can’t be counted on to get the job done. Sooner or later, you’re likely to find that your procrastination costs you dearly. You could be overlooked for a promotion, others may fail to include you in activities, and your closest friends, loved ones and family members may turn elsewhere for help when something needs to be done.

This article was originally published on Psych Central.

Photo by Tim Marshall on Unsplash.

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How to Stop Worrying and Enjoy Life More

How to Stop Worrying and Enjoy Life More-Photo by Jakob Owens/Unsplash

Photo by Jakob Owens/Unsplash

“Worrying is like sitting in a rocking chair. It gives you something to do but it doesn’t get you anywhere.” — English proverb

 

No one ever came to the end of their life and stated they wished they’d worried more. Indeed, worry is probably the last thing one would want to hang onto, especially during the last moments of life. Yet far too many of us cling to worry like a well-worn blanket, afraid to let go. It’s not exactly comforting, but it is familiar. That doesn’t mean worry adds to quality of life. It’s frankly time to stop worrying so much and learn to enjoy life more. Here are some thoughts on how to do just that.

Determine the source of the worry, so you can do something about it.

Do vague thoughts plague you? Are you unable to pinpoint just what it is that makes you feel so anxious and out of sorts? Maybe it has a physical cause, something you can readily address. Perhaps what you feel is the result of accumulated stress, an overflow of powerful emotions that’s left you drained. Before you can rid yourself of worry, you need to take some time to figure out what’s causing it.

Take out a pen and paper and jot down whatever thoughts come into your head. For example, if you have a headache, write: I’ve got a headache. I wonder if it’s anything serious. This zeroes in on what you’re concerned about now, identifies it, and robs it of the power to continue to gnaw at you. Maybe finances cause you uneasiness. You can’t seem to get them out of your mind. Write: I’m worried about making ends meet. This both acknowledges the root of the worry and takes the anxiety from the realm of something’s not right to knowing just what it is.

Put some space in your life.

When we worry, we jumble everything together. Unlike the ingredients in a stew that naturally go together, however, a pile of worry does not result in a comfortable or satisfying meal. They’re too close, too disparate, too useless to be any good. This is when you need to put space between the various activities in your day. By adding brief pauses during your waking hours, you’re giving yourself time to reflect, to take a break to do something you like, to exercise, rehydrate, have a meal, socialize, daydream or just relax.

It’s not necessary to go to elaborate lengths or to feel guilty that you’re robbing your employer, loved ones, family or friends by adding space to your life. The simple act of inserting space is very self-liberating and self-empowering. It reinforces the fact that you make the choices in your life and you reaffirm your commitment to living life wholeheartedly and well.

Ditch the small stuff.

The detritus of ruined dreams is rife with mounds of little problems, annoyances and petty grievances that don’t amount to anything worthwhile. All they’ve done is add to a mounting load of negativity, unhappiness and unrealized goals. The key to making room in your life to find the time, energy and motivation to pursue what matters most is to let go of the small stuff. It’s not worth your effort to agonize over every little thing. Besides, in a year’s time, you won’t remember, much less care, about those trivial details.

Put things in perspective.

How many times have you felt the crushing weight of worry on your shoulders? This heaviness literally drags you down, both physically and mentally. No wonder worry never seems to leave. It’s pushed and trampled you until you feel you can’t move. Maybe what’s happening also is that you’ve lost a sense of perspective. Instead of rationally and logically being able to separate what’s a legitimate concern from an amorphous worry is a lack of perspective.

Think about how you approach a task. The best way to be successful in any endeavor is to have a goal, create a plan and get to work. You’re not deterred by obstacles, since you’re committed to seeing the effort through. You can see that what you do now will net results in the long run. That’s perspective, understanding that your input will equal the output.

When it comes to separating the real from the unreal or unnecessary, envision the long view. Imagine how what you do today will affect your life six months or a year from now. Is it worth doing? If so, work on plans to get underway. If not, release this burden so you can focus more on what you find truly empowering and satisfying.

Give in to laughter.

Much has been written about the healing power of laughter. It’s true. When you laugh, you’re releasing feel-good endorphins that contribute to an overall well-being. Like vigorous physical exercise, which also releases endorphins, laughter helps smooth out rough edges, calm overwrought emotions and deliver a sense of peace, calm and contentedness.

If you’re not prone to belly laughs, that’s fine. Chuckling will do, along with smiling, crinkling your eyes, feeling the joy across your face. Let the laugh bubble up without censoring it. This is something you give yourself permission to do and it’s worth every second you’ve got a smile on your face or hear yourself laugh. Worry has no place in a space filled with laughter.

Engage with others.

Ruminating endlessly over what’s troubling you won’t do a thing to change the situation. Neither will stewing over problems and worries alone. What will make a difference is making an effort to be with others, socializing, talking over the issues or problems, participating in a mutually shared activity, even working on a project together. This serves as a distraction and allows your subconscious to put some distance between the worry and what you’re doing now. Besides taking a bite out of worry, you’ll feel better and take some pleasure in life.

Employ relaxation techniques.

Excessive worrying can lead to increased anxiety and stress, neither of which are good for the body. Make use of proven relaxation techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, listening to soothing music, yoga and tai chi, even walking in nature. The relaxation response triggered by relaxation techniques produces a physiological state of warmth and quiet alertness. When you start to relax, brain blood flow increases, shifting brain waves to a relaxed alpha rhythm. Relaxation techniques can help reduce the debilitating effects of stress and excessive worrying.

This article was originally published on PsychCentral.com https://psychcentral.com/lib/how-to-stop-worrying-and-enjoy-life-more/

 

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The Incredible Value of Dreams

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How to Live What You Believe

how-to-live-what-you-believe

Believe

“If you don’t live it, it won’t come out of your horn.” – Charlie Parker

There is no better way to demonstrate what you believe than to truly live it. But, as everyone knows, it isn’t always easy to live up to your beliefs. Indeed, this can cause some consternation and anxiety — especially when what you believe may be contrary to the beliefs of those around you.

To remain at peace with yourself and to live with internal harmony, it is necessary to act in accordance with your beliefs. It’s also worth remembering that you can’t preach or recommend to others to follow a course of action when you yourself aren’t willing to do the same.

The advice, then, to be who you are is good. What does it mean to be who you are?

  • It means acting in full recognition of and abiding by your internal beliefs.
  • It means standing up for what you believe and being willing to take the heat, should it arise.

What it takes to be who you are.

Consider that what you believe may be somewhat alien or foreign to others who have no grounding or background in it. Many people – too many, in fact – behave like lemmings, just following one another, even to the point of self-harm. They neither think for themselves nor engage in a critical analysis of what they believe. Furthermore, they fail to even dwell on or ponder what they might believe if they allowed themselves to think about the matter.

Being who you are demands that you think about living your beliefs. The process can be explained as contemplating how living your beliefs translates into the way others see you and what affect your actions may ultimately have on them. You could be a profound influence, but even if your actions (emanating from your heart and soul) do not change their behavior, what you have done is to act in accordance with all that is right and good for you. The importance of this on your own well-being cannot be understated. You are what you do, not what you say you’re going to do.

On the other hand, if you hide what you believe, opting instead to keep it inside and go along with the crowd (alienating your own beliefs), you risk damaging your own self-worth. That’s because you’re masking your true beliefs and behaving in a way that is discordant with them.

When you act in synchrony with your beliefs, it is much easier to say what you believe and to feel comfortable doing so. Instead of dissonance, it’s harmony.

How to live what you believe.

While theorizing about living in accordance with beliefs is one thing, the more practical discussion is likely to center on how to do just that. Here are some suggestions:

  • Feel what’s true. If you believe something strongly enough, it must mean something. This feeling is coming from deep within your core. That has value.
  • Be willing to act on your beliefs – even though it may not always be what others expect or want you to do. This takes courage, which you can develop. Remember that doing what you believe reinforces your sense of commitment, self-esteem and self-respect.
  • In addition, be willing to entertain other beliefs. While you may steadfastly adhere to long-held beliefs, this doesn’t mean that what others believe is wrong. At least hear what they have to say. This encourages communication and may help to bridge misunderstanding.
  • Remain flexible with your beliefs. People evolve as they encounter new experiences. This may cause them to change what they believe over time. For this reason, it’s prudent to be flexible enough to revise your beliefs if new information causes you to re-evaluate what you currently hold to be true.
  • Always act based on who you are and what you believe. That way you are always true to yourself and never feel the need to proclaim something false.
  • Keep in mind that a generosity of spirit, a willingness to do the right thing and hope will never lead you astray. You’re sure to be able to live what you believe.

This article was originally published on Psych Central.

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Stop Beating Yourself Up: 8 Tips to Overcoming Remorse

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Photo by Tyler Lastovich/Unsplash

Endlessly revisiting what happened in the past, beating yourself up for the bad things that you’ve done won’t change anything.

It certainly won’t make the events or actions go away. Yet the pattern of wallowing in remorse, guilt, shame and self-loathing doesn’t have to continue. Here are some tips on overcoming remorse that may help.

  1. Work on becoming healthier

Flooded with toxic thoughts and emotions takes a toll on your body. Before you can begin to heal from the effects of remorse, you need to act to restore your health. If you used drugs and alcohol as a crutch to deal with the pain, these also contributed to your current poor physical and mental state.

If you sincerely desire to make positive changes, the first step is to detoxify your body. Go into drug rehab if the need is severe and you can’t do it on your own. Otherwise, make it a point to eat nutritious foods, get sufficient sleep, hydrate often with water, and engage in regular vigorous physical exercise. It may take a few weeks or longer to get back to health, but a healthier body will greatly improve your ability to get past remorse.

  1. Develop new habits.

Analyze how you’ve spent your days with emphasis on what you’ve done to numb the ache of remorse. Facing up to the reality that you’ve used unhealthy coping mechanisms isn’t easy, but it is necessary to get to the point where you recognize that you need new and healthier habits to replace them. Part of this process may require training from a professional and include behavior modification, individual and group treatment, outpatient counseling and self-help groups and manuals.

  1. Restore your spirit.

After being battered by long months of struggling with remorse, your spirit is likely at its lowest ebb. The unfortunate correlation of drug and alcohol abuse with engaging in illegal, unethical and immoral acts also contributes to tremendous guilt and shame.

Learning how to heal from the damaging effects of remorse is best accomplished with the help of a professional counselor or therapist. You need to learn not only that it’s fruitless to beat yourself up over the past, but also that you can choose a path toward spiritual renewal. In this, you don’t need to be religious. What is necessary is a realization that it’s vital to rebuild your spirit to cope with remorse.

  1. Activate your sense of self-discovery.

Remorse doesn’t only sap your physical body. It also wreaks havoc on your emotional state. Instead of looking forward to daily activities and learning new things, you spend most of your time in a state of stagnation. There is no joy, no self-discovery, no excitement about much of anything. A trained therapist can help guide you in the process of rehabilitation and self-discovery.

  1. Commit to a change in lifestyle.

To successfully cope with and overcome feelings of remorse, you’ll have to consider the fact that certain people, places, times and events trigger those negative emotions. Most likely, you’ll need to find new friends, avoid the situations and locations that remind you of painful memories and fill you with remorse.

  1. Join a group with similar goals.

If you’re in treatment for drug and alcohol abuse, or compulsive gambling, compulsive shopping or another process addiction, or have a diagnosis of co-occurring mental health and substance abuse, a big part of your recovery will involve participation in recovery groups. This will continue long after your formal treatment program concludes.

But group participation is also highly recommended for anyone who’s working to overcome remorse. It doesn’t have to be a recovery group, however. Any group that shares similar goals or helps you pursue an activity or interest will benefit your desire to get past remorse.

  1. Pay special attention to family.

Often, it’s the people who know you the best and care for you most that can really jumpstart the healing process. They’re often also the ones you tend to shy away from, fearing criticism, negativity and dredging up the past. It’s important to make full use of your loved ones and family members, as they are instrumental in helping to affirm your commitment to living a healthier and happier life. Just because some issues and memories are painful doesn’t mean it’s not worthwhile working through them with the help of your family.

  1. Seek to embrace life.

Along with a concerted effort to work on becoming healthier, beginning new habits, replenishing your spirit, allowing yourself to discover what’s good and interesting to pursue, committing to lifestyle changes, joining groups with similar interests and being mindful of the importance of family, there’s one final tip that can help you move past remorse. To achieve a purposeful life, filled with opportunities and self-fulfillment, you must seek to embrace life.

After working on creating positive steps and taking the actions necessary to achieve them, life starts to look different. It’s no longer bleak and monotonous. Instead, life-affirming thoughts, dreams and plans will replace the self-destructive ones you’ve lived with so long. With a commitment and enthusiasm to embrace life, your path forward will lead you in directions you will find unexpected and delightful.

As for how long it will take to successfully overcome remorse, bear in mind that each day is another opportunity to make progress toward healthy change. Live in the present. Put forth your best effort in whatever you do. Surround yourself with people who are positive and share your values. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Above all, be grateful that you have this day to make all the choices you want.

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This article was originally published on PsychCentral https://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2016/08/18/stop-beating-yourself-up-8-tips-to-overcoming-remorse/

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5 Tips on How to Get Started When There’s Work to Do

5-tips-on-how-to-get-started-when-theres-work0to-do-photo-geran-de-klerk-unsplash

Photo by Geran de Klerk/Unsplash

“A feeling of aversion or attachment toward something is your clue that there’s work to be done.” – Ram Dass

 

Ever wake up with a feeling of dread about some project or task you’ve got on your list of things to do today? This is a common feeling that no one likes but must learn how to deal with. There are also times when the opposite is true. Sometimes you wake up knowing what you must do today and just can’t wait to get started.

Either feeling – aversion or excitement – is a clear sign that there’s work to be done and you need to do it. The way you deal with either emotion will affect not only your motivation to keep going,

particularly when the going gets rough, but also the resulting outcome.

How can you turn dread or anticipation into action that makes sense, is effective, and allows you to feel a sense of accomplishment and increased self-esteem? Here are some tips to help get you started.

  • Take a minute to process the emotion – and don’t be overcome by it.

No doubt the prospect of diving into a mountain of tax receipts on deadline is the last thing you want to do, or you might just be so eager to get on the road on your vacation that you slip and fall out of bed. Take a minute to process whatever emotion you’re feeling before you get up. This gives your mind time to arrive at a game plan and put your thoughts in order before you need to do the work. Be aware that conflicting emotions can occur simultaneously. That’s OK. Acknowledge them, then proceed.

  • Learn to separate what’s nice from what’s necessary.

Both will not be true. You might find it pleasant to think about taking a swim in the ocean but you know that report for work demands your immediate attention. It might feel great to lounge around all day in your sweats but you’ve got clients to see, and such attire is no way to make a good impression. It’s fine to indulge yourself in thinking about what’s nice, but don’t dally. Get on with what’s necessary. The bonus here is that by dwelling briefly on what beckons gives you temporary satisfaction before you dive into the work that must be done.

Either take projects in order or arrange them according to a prioritization that works for you. Do the most difficult one first to make some headway at it, or start with some quick and easy ones you can get out of the way so that you feel a sense of making progress. Once you finish one, cross it off your list. This is a visual reminder that effort equals accomplishment.

  • If you’ve fallen behind, work out a plan that won’t overwhelm you.

Everybody gets swamped at times. Instead of tossing your hands in the air and writing off the project or task as hopeless, figure out a plan or approach that will be effective and won’t overwhelm you. This is a case where the intention to underpromise and overdeliver will pay off nicely. You’ll gradually become accustomed to the pace you’re comfortable maintaining and can better estimate the amount of time and effort specific tasks will take.

  • Recognize that work – what you do — is the best way to show who and what you are.

Another way to get started with work to be done is to keep in mind that your output is a clear way to show others who and what you are. Since no two people approach a project the same way, this shows your uniqueness, talent, decision-making ability and willingness to keep going until the job is done. You want to put forth your best efforts. This requires that you jump in and act. Perseverance, willingness to accept responsibility for your output and taking pride in your accomplishments are all part of what it takes to get the job done.

 

This article was originally published on PsychCentral.com http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2017/01/01/5-tips-on-how-to-get-started-when-theres-work-to-do/

 

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