You’re a Product of Your Choices

By Azugbene Solomon

The more you love and respect your decisions, the less you need others to love them.

We are a product of our choices, that doesn’t mean bad choices make us bad people, it means we should find fulfilment in our choices to create fulfillment in ourselves. Seeking approval from others is a slippery slope, and that thirst won’t turn off once you get enough imaginary applause from the imaginary audience. Loving your choices is loving yourself, we can’t make everyone happy, many of us struggle to make ourselves happy, but that’s where we should start. Once we create happiness for ourselves we can share that with others, and motivate them to do the same.

Everyone faces tragedies, trials, and obstacles in life. That’s just part of life. No one ever promised life would be easy. And the fact is, life’s heartaches are often opportunities where we can learn and grow the most.

The way you choose to respond to life’s tragedies will determine whether you develop the attitude of a survivor or a victim. You can choose to think and behave in a productive manner, even when you feel pain and sorrow.

Avoid Wallowing in Self-Pity

So often, people waste time feeling sorry for themselves when they encounter a problem. They spend precious minutes of their lives complaining to others about how bad things are or they sit around and dwell on their negative emotions. Each minute they waste complaining and wallowing is a minute that they could have spent trying to improve their situation.

Choosing to wallow in self-pity will only make you remain stuck. Feelings of self-pity will hold you back from making healthy choices. Feeling sorry for yourself will waste time and precious energy.

Time doesn’t heal anything. In fact, if you choose to allow yourself to wallow in self-pity, you’ll feel worse as more time passes. Choosing to take action is the only thing that can make your situation better.

Remember, you aren’t the only one in the world with problems. In fact, there are many people in the world who choose to overcome much bigger problems every day.

Choose to Overcome Adversity

Behaving in a productive manner will reduce your feelings of self-pity. It will help you find strength. Just because you feel pity for yourself, doesn’t mean you have to behave in a pitiful manner.

When you experience problems and adversity, it’s up to you to decide how you want to respond. You can choose to allow it to define you, or you can choose to make it a defining moment. Choosing to face problems head on with an open-mind will help you become a stronger person.

Choose Your Attitude

There are plenty of things in life that aren’t within your control. You can’t control other people, certain health problems, or how the world around you operates. You can however, always choose your attitude. Choosing to go through life with a positive attitude and a desire to be a survivor rather than a victim is up to you.

No matter how bad things are, you always have choices. You can choose to get back up when life pushes you down, even if you don’t feel like. Learning how to tolerate distress will give you more confidence that what doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger.

Conclusion
You were put on this earth because you’re strong enough to live it. Don’t waste time wishing things were different or insisting that life isn’t fair. Life wasn’t meant to be fair. It was meant to be lived, no matter what circumstances you encounter. Make a conscious choice to live a life that’s worth living, even when you don’t feel like it.

Reference
1. You’re a Product of Your Choices Not a Victim of Your Circumstances by The Poet Project.

2. You’re a Product of Your Choices Not a Victim of Your Circumstances by Amy Morin, LCSW

Advertisements

6 Ways to Encourage Yourself: Treat Yourself

Last week, we talked about the power of encouraging others. Nothing can change your perspective or bring new life to a relationship quite like encouragement. But just as it is important to encourage others, it’s important to encourage yourself. We all know just how encouraging it is to feel as though we have value and that what we do matters; this feeling motivates us to get up and go to work every day. But what happens when we aren’t getting the encouragement we need?

Encouragement does not have to come from the people around you. You can learn to encourage yourself! If you are always waiting for someone else to encourage you, you run the risk of going days without hearing how awesome you are and that’s not good for anyone. Here are a few ways to get started.

1. Speak life.
In the creation narrative found in the Book of Genesis God speaks and the world is made “ex nihilo”, which means life was created out of nothing. Life is in God’s Word. Life is in our words as well. Not the same creative force, but still creative and forceful. What we think, dwell on and say becomes a reality in what we believe. What do you believe about yourself? Speak life and create a fresh perspective filled with hope and possibilities. On the days when it seems like no one can see your worth, remind yourself that your value is not diminished just because no one else can see it. This youtube video of a girl speaking life will put a smile on your face today and give you a few tips on speaking life.

2. Visualize your success.
When we talked about the success portion of your Mornings Matter routine, one of the components was to practice visualization and confession. Visualizing your day will remind you that you are capable of succeeding in any situation.

3. Treat yourself.
One of the most encouraging things you can do is reward yourself for progress. In my weight loss journey, for every ten pounds I lose, I treat myself to a cheat day. I don’t treat myself in excess, but just enough to keep me motivated. Find what will motivate and encourage you and treat yourself.

4. Plan to play.
Make a plan to do something you enjoy. Perhaps that means getting a massage, spending time with your family, or heading to the beach for a day. Taking time to recharge and refresh by doing something you love is a great way to encourage yourself.

5. Grow.
Investing in growth builds momentum, and there’s nothing that encourages quite like momentum. Get a little bit better every day.

6. Choose the right environment.
Surrounding yourself with positive people is one of the most encouraging things you can do. Positive people and environments will encourage you by setting the tone for your life. Choose the kind of person you want to be and surround yourself with those who share your values.

An investment in yourself is never a waste. If you feel as though you are lacking momentum or motivation, take a minute to invest in encouraging yourself. It can be difficult to encourage yourself; the whole idea sounds a little bit silly. But please believe me, friends, you will grow immensely when you implement this discipline in your life.


This article was first published at Duke Matlock Blog


3 Things To Give Up If You Want To Take Control Of Your Life


By Jay Hill


One of the great joys in life is the unexpected. Sometimes people and opportunities come our way and it’s up to us to make the most of them. However, to really get the most from life and live on your own terms, it’s important to consciously take control of your destiny. There is no feeling so satisfying as knowing that you have chosen your own path in life and are living in accordance with your values.

How, exactly, should you start learning to steer your own course? Here are 3 things you need to give up immediately if you want to regain control:

1. Give Up Relying On Someone Else’s Love

When you rely on other people to love and approve of you in order to feel good, you are handing over your power. In effect, you are telling yourself that your own love and self-validation isn’t sufficient, and you need the affection of others to feel ‘OK.’ This is not living from a position of self-control. When you stop depending on someone else’s approval, you are taking back your personal autonomy and giving yourself the ability to dictate whether or not you are an ‘OK’ person. (Hint: You are totally okay, regardless of whatever anyone else thinks.)

When you let go of your dependency on someone else, it empowers you to think about what you want from life and from your relationships. When you know that you are just fine on your own, you are firmly in control. You put yourself in the position to choose who and what you add to your life, secure in the knowledge that you always have your self-love to sustain you.

2. Give Up Your Unrealistic Expectations

Are you a workaholic who holds yourself to impossibly high standards? Perhaps you strive to be the very best at everything you do? Do you have daydreams or fantasies in which you magically succeed at everything you attempt? There’s nothing wrong with wanting to improve your skills and learn new things. Challenging yourself can add a great deal of excitement and enjoyment to your life. However, holding yourself to unhealthily high standards is an example of rigid, out-of-control thinking. You start telling yourself things like, “If I cannot be the best at this, there’s no point in trying,” and, “If I don’t pick up this skill quickly, I shouldn’t even bother.”

These kinds of thoughts are not going to help you feel in control of your life. Instead, you will feel at the mercy of your perfectionist nature. Try to appreciate the experience of trying new activities and skills regardless of whether you excel at them or not.

3. Give Up Blaming Yourself For What You’ve Done Wrong

Everyone makes mistakes. It’s a simple fact. Even the people you admire most have screwed up many times over the course of their lives. In order to make progress in life, you must take risks, and with risk comes the possibility of failure. Unfortunately, it’s easy to ruminate on what went wrong, and what you should or could have done differently. If you want to regain control over your life and be able to look forward to the future with a positive outlook, you must stop beating yourself up for past mistakes. Ask yourself what you can learn from the past, and then make a conscious effort to look to the future.

Conclusion

It’s not easy to take control of your life, that’s why so many of us are stuck in the same old patterns of co-dependency, unrealistic self-expectations, and pointless regret. However, making a conscious decision to live in a new way is the first step to regaining a sense of self-value and self-mastery.


Source Lifehack


How to Recognize a Controlling Relationship and What to Do About It


By Kevin Thompson


A controlling relationship is not pleasant to be a part of. But the tricky part is that most people don’t realize when they are in a controlling relationship. The controlling behavior of a partner is often confused with “caring”, “protective”, “jealous” or “old fashioned”.

In this article, we will discuss what to look out for when a partner is controlling and when he/she just “cares” about you. We will also discuss what you can do if your partner is controlling.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. Signs Your Partner Is Controlling
  2. What Should You Do If Your Partner Is Controlling?
  3. Final Thoughts

Signs Your Partner Is Controlling
They try to keep tabs on you all the time.

You need to understand the difference between a controlling partner and someone who just really misses you and wants to interact with you throughout the day.

Someone who genuinely misses you and wants to speak with you throughout the day will text you often and get on a phone call whenever they can. They will text you the first thing in the morning (if you are not staying together) and share the day with you. They will take time from their busy day to reach out to you and ask you how you are. They will be excited to meet you at the end of the day.

On the contrast, a controlling partner will ACT like they want to share every living moment with you. But they will be acting out of fear and insecurity instead of the desire to interact with you. An interaction with you is a drug to them that constantly reassures them that they still have you.

A caring partner will give you space when you are busy or out with friends. But a controlling partner will text you more when he/she feels like you are in a situation that threatens the relationship; situations such as going to a bar with friends or at a social gathering.

The controlling partner will reach out under the disguise of missing you. But an easy way to find out if they are controlling is to tell them something like,

“I miss you too. I am busy right now and can’t talk. Can we speak later?”

They will most likely agree. But if they are controlling, they will be upset later when you speak. A caring partner will understand and just be cool about it.

Essentially, a controlling partner will try to affect your behavior by negative reinforcement. Every time you are not giving them full attention, they will get upset and it will most likely lead to a fight or argument. A caring partner will most likely be honest about their concerns instead of doing it indirectly with negative reinforcement.

You will slowly start alienating your friends and family.
This negative reinforcement usually takes a toll on you mostly because it is followed by positive reinforcement when you give them attention. They give you the love and attention you crave in a relationship. You feel intimacy and you get approval from the person you love. What more could you ask for?

Slowly, after being in this negative and positive reinforcement cycle for months (or years), you start craving the positive reinforcement and avoiding the negative reinforcement.

Every time you go meet your friends and can’t give him/her your full attention, there is a fight later. So, you slowly start avoiding your friends. You only do it when it’s convenient for your partner. And you make sure that they have something to do while you are busy with your friends or family.

You will soon realize that you are walking on eggshells. And that’s really no way to live a healthy life.

They criticize you – a lot.

A controlling partner will criticize you a lot. It can be something as little as the way you drink coffee or as big as your career choice. They will criticize you in a way that hurts.

If the partner is controlling, this criticism will usually start after you have been together for a while, well after the honeymoon phase is over and after they are sure you love them and can’t leave them easily.

The criticism can also come in the form of backhanded comments or playful jokes about things they know you are sensitive about.

In contrast, healthy criticism is often said in an attempt to improve your partner’s life and self-esteem. For example, if your partner wants to criticize your career, they will sit down and have a real conversation with you. They will try to understand your aspiration and goals and tell you where they think you are going wrong.

A controlling partner will try to brush it off in a sentence to put you down: “What are you worried about? Playing guitar is not even a real career.”

You may end up in a codependent relationship without even knowing it.
If your partner is controlling and you don’t end the relationship in the initial stages, it’s likely that you will end up in a co-dependent relationship. Whereas before, you were an independent and well-rounded individual who was going through each day with pride and gusto.

Now, you are reduced to someone who often fights with their partner, is constantly stressed and is always walking on eggshells. You are no longer the person who was growing in life. Now you need your partner’s permission to grow.

Co-dependent relationships can range from extreme to mild depending on how severe the codependent dynamics is and how long you have been together. If you think you are in one, you should watch out for these signs of an unhealthy co-dependent relationship .

What Should You Do If Your Partner Is Controlling?

1. Watch out for early signs and take things slow.

The best way to deal with a controlling partner is to find out about it early. As discussed before, controlling behavior does not always how up until the later stages of a relationship.

A lot of people hide their true nature until they feel a bit secure in the relationship. This is why it’s important to take things slow whenever you start a new relationship.

Take your time to get to know the person before making any huge commitments. If there are signs of controlling behavior, take your time to decide if it’s something you can live with and how severe it.

2. Figure out the severity of the controlling behavior and if it can be fixed.

Like everything else in life and relationships, controlling behavior is not just black and white. Someone with a controlling behavior can still become a good life partner if they are willing to learn and are compatible with you. Don’t immediately reject someone just because they have some controlling behaviors.

It’s important to know what’s important to you in a relationship. In my opinion, most problems in a relationship, including controlling behavior, can be solved with proper communication and understanding. Even if your partner shows some signs of controlling behavior, you can learn to deal with it if they are willing to communicate and understand.

For example, your partner may have some left-over from a past relationship or a bad breakup. One such common issue is when they went through betrayal or when an ex cheated on them. The scars from that betrayal can be the reason they are trying to control you. It might be the reason they get insecure every time you go out with friends.

It’s not necessarily a good reason to breakup with them. Not if it can be fixed. If you speak to them about it, you can come to a reasonable conclusion where you can live your life freely and don’t press any triggers that cause them to panic and become controlling.

If you can’t figure it out yourself, get help. Learn communication skills in relationships or consider getting couples therapy.

3. Be willing to walk away no matter how you have invested in them.

It’s easy to leave a relationship if it’s only been a few months. But what if you have been with your partner for years? What if you just realized how controlling they have been all these years? You were blinded by love before, but you just can’t take it anymore. At the same time, you can’t get yourself to leave them because you are so attached to them. What do you do then?

Again, it’s not always black and white. But you need to figure out your boundaries and what you need in a romantic relationship. It may be a good idea to take a break for a short while to think things through.

Once you understand yourself, your boundaries, your needs, your expectations and your goals, you should get back in touch with your partner and try to speak to them. Explain to them how their controlling behavior has been toxic and what you need from them to make the relationship work.

If they think they can do it, if they are willing to learn and grow, then try again. But take things slow this time.

Just like you are starting a new relationship. Watch out for red flags and try to figure out if they are sincerely making an attempt to improve or are just faking it.

Someone who sincerely wants to learn and improve will be open to listening and understanding. They will try to make serious changes in life like going to therapy or reading self-improvement books. They will not agree with you about everything and won’t act like a doormat.

On the contrary, someone who is just faking it will most likely do things that they think you want to see. They will agree with what you see and, in some cases, let you walk all over them.

Final Thoughts
A controlling partner is not always a deal breaker. In many cases, the controlling behavior can be the result of a past trauma or childhood issues. And in most cases, it is fixable if the controlling person is willing to accept it and work on themselves.

Learning these behaviors and communicating with your partner can help you avoid a toxic codependent relationship and a lifetime of misery.

But if they are not the type of person who want to learn and grow, you should most definitely leave them and move on.

Featured photo credit: S A R A H ✗ S H A R P via unsplash.com


This article was first published at Lifehack


10 Ways You Can Stop Being So EASILY Offended


“We should be too big to take offense and too noble to give it.” ~ Abraham Lincoln


Are you too easily offended?

Here’s a test:

  • Do you explode in fits of anger over little things?
  • Do others say you make mountains out of mole hills?
  • Do you frequently take things the wrong way?
  • Do others feel they have to “walk on eggshells” around you?
  • Do others consider you “high maintenance”?

If so, your hypersensitivity is robbing you of happiness.

I know it’s much easier for me to tell you to stop taking things so personally than it is to actually stop taking things so personally. Still, there are ways to thicken your skin and enjoy life with more happiness and less contention and hurt feelings.

10 Ways to Stop Taking Everything So Hard

#1: Talk Yourself out of Being Offended

It can be just that simple. In the heat of the moment, try asking yourself these questions: “What am I getting so bent out of shape for? Does this really matter? What’s the big deal?” Reason with yourself: “Did he really mean it the way I was just about to take it? Is he truly actually trying to hurt me? Well, then, what is he really trying to say?”

Tell yourself the person who is the potential offender has as much right to his opinion as you do to yours. Besides, they’re only words. What can words do? They certainly can’t break my bones!

Remember, the reason we usually feel offended is because of the meaning we attach to what is said or done: “That means he really doesn’t care!” “She’s saying I am no good!” “I knew he didn’t really love me!” “She wouldn’t say that if she was …” And so the internal interpretation goes.

So simply reframe it. Talk yourself out of the offense by telling yourself: “This person is simply expressing his opinion, and listen to how interesting it is! I find it so fascinating that someone can have such opinions that are almost the exact opposite of mine!”

You will be happier as you learn to talk yourself out of offense and internalize the sticks-and-stones-may-break-my-bones-but-words-will-never-hurt-me philosophy of communication.

#2: Put Yourself in the “Offender’s” Shoes

This will have the added benefit of being less offensive to others, as you learn to be “too noble to give offense.” In any event, if you can slide your feet into their moccasins for a minute, you can learn to see things from the offender’s perspective. And then, just maybe, you will see that you too played a role in the drama. And perhaps you will also come to see that the offender had no such intentions of offending.

#3: Assume a Benevolent Motive

Unless proven otherwise (you don’t want to become someone’s dupe), assume the person in question has noble intent. Maybe the language was clumsy, maybe even ill-advised, but assume a good heart. That should take the sting out of the bite and put some happiness back in your day.

So don’t hold on to the words people use to get at the thing they are trying to express. Hear the idea and ignore the clumsiness of the expression.

#4: Practice Detachment

Many people are easily offended because they can’t emotionally differentiate between their thoughts and their inner sense of self. When identities are too closely tied to one’s opinions, and those opinions are then disagreed with, many feel like they, themselves, have been rejected, the core of who they are have been shoved away, pushed to a corner and crushed. This, of course, hurts, but is highly inaccurate.

To overcome hypersensitivity, realize that your opinions are not you. And certainly, any given opinion or set of opinions are not the whole of who you are. To the degree you can detach your ideas from your identity, you will live a happy, fulfilling life with little opportunity to feel offended.

#5: Learn Humility

A well-known religious leader once said that whenever he hears that he has offended someone, his first response is to stop and think if, in fact, he may have said or done something that could have given the impression of an offense. That, by itself, is a great attitude of humility that would make him almost immune to offense.

But he didn’t stop there. He went on to say that he often found that he had indeed said something that could have been construed as offensive. He would then seek out the offended person and apologize for the misconstrued word or deed. Humility is the friend of inner peace and equanimity. And peace and equanimity are the friends of happiness.

#6: Love Truth more than Being Right

If the truth, whoever possesses it, is more valued than the perception that you are the one who knew it first, then opposition to your thoughts and beliefs will be inoffensive no matter how offensive the other person is trying to be. You are not emotionally attached to your position. You only hunger after truth. So opposition to your point of view offers no grounds for offense. You simply want to know the truth, even if you are never the place it originates.

#7: Overcome Self-Centeredness

The It’s-All-About-Me mentality is fertile soil for being frequently offended. Every word out of every mouth, every action or inaction, all that is done or undone, all motives and intentions become a reflection on you. That is a HUGE burden to carry.

If everything is reduced to how it affects you, if you reside at the center of everything, no wonder you are so frequently offended! Move away from the center of everyone else’s life. You likely aren’t really there anyway. Nor should you be, in most cases. Allow most of life to be indifferent to you. My bad mood isn’t about you. Your mom’s neglect isn’t even about you either. It’s about her! This way, less in life will offend you and happiness will be much less fleeting too.

Besides, they’re entitled to their opinion. So let them have it … cheerfully!

#8: Reserve Judgment

Finish the discussion. Let the talk continue to its natural end. So often we jump to conclusions, assume an ill intent, create meaning to a word that then hurts and offends. Resist that urge and delay judgment until the conversation has run its course. You just may find there is no offense to be had by the time you get to the end.

#9: Accept Imperfection

If you expect others to act and speak a certain way, or assume others will be as kind or compassionate as you, if you’re offended when they don’t rise to the level of your expectation, you will almost always be offended or on the verge of it. Instead, allow people to be human. They are, after all.

We all have foibles, idiosyncrasies and personality and character flaws. So do you! Yours just may be different than theirs. So just let it be, shrug and let it slide off your back. Don’t hold on to the imperfections of others so tightly that you strangle yourself in the process! Release! Let go! Breathe. Relax.

Part of accepting others’ imperfections is also learning to forgive them their past mistakes (so the current problem isn’t blown out of proportion as an extension of a previous problem unresolved) and create a sort of Forgiveness Default Setting in your heart that you automatically go to when confronted with offensive language or behavior.

Remember, people are imperfect. You are imperfect. Life is imperfect. And that’s just plain A-Okay! When you can accept their imperfection (and your own!), you will be well on your way to a life of more emotional stability and happiness.

#10: Accept Yourself

Learn and grow and improve, of course. But accept where you are along that path. You could hardly be anywhere else, given circumstances, after all. So accept yourself deep inside. Validate your inner being. See yourself as more than your behavior. You are also your potential.

You are of God, after all. None of us live up to expectations. But accept that too, not as an excuse to stop the moral climb, but as an understanding that where you are is fine for now, at this moment. Move from there, but right now, here, you are complete.

This self-acceptance will de-claw others’ ability to offend you. It won’t hurt because your validation doesn’t come from their opinions about you. It comes from within … or from above. People who are internally fragile – no matter how “tough” their exterior – break most easily at the wrong or misplaced word or deed.

So grow your inner self. Become self-accepting. And life will be a more consistently happy place to live.

YOUR TURN!

  • How have you grown thicker skin?
  • Have you found any of these suggestions helpful?
  • What advice would you give someone who is easily offended?
  • Are there other ways of letting go that would help?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below. And please Share, Tweet or Google + this post if you found value here. It would mean a lot to me.


This article was first published at Meant to be Happy


How to Accept Yourself, Your Life, And Your Reality


You”ll never be able to create the right reality if you aren’t willing to let the wrong reality go.


By Lolly Daskal


Accepting the reality of your life sounds like it should be easy enough. But many, many people hold to a different version. It may be based in regret, disappointment, denial, or just waiting for something better–a promotion, for the kids to be grown, retirement, whatever. Failing to connect with reality is why some of us have pants in the closet that haven’t fit in years. More significantly, it keeps people in unfulfilling jobs or even in the wrong profession entirely.

There are few better things you can do for yourself than giving up the fictional version of your life and learning to accept yourself, your life, and your reality. Even if your situation is terrible, the first step in improving it is acknowledging it for what it is.

Here are 11 ways to cope with reality–especially the parts of reality you don’t like–and here’s how you can change it into a reality you do want.

1. Accept yourself.

Acceptance is the ability to unconditionally value all parts of who you are. That means you acknowledge all of yourself–the good and the things that need improvement. For most of us, self-acceptance can be hard. We tend to be critical of ourselves, but there are a number of ways to learn to accept yourself and your life. It all begins with your state of mind.

2. Acknowledge your reality.

Sometimes facing reality isn’t the easiest thing to do, but accepting your current situation can make you happier in the present and lead to a better future. Understanding, accepting, and working with reality is both practical and purposeful. Acknowledging your reality will help you choose your dreams wisely and then help you achieve them.

3. Practice radical honesty.

When you can admit your own pretense you can begin to powerfully create a new future. Denying your current reality–especially if it’s a bad one–will not make it make it go away. Dealing with the bad stuff is a way to get to the good stuff–but it takes practice, practice, practice.

4. Identify your part.

To fully accept your reality, it’s important to acknowledge any role you may have played, good or bad, in getting where you are. Ask yourself questions related to your current situation to help work toward solutions. To fully accept your reality, it is important to identify what you may have done to foster success or failure. Once you know what you’re dealing with, you can work toward the best next steps.

5. Admit your mistakes.

Remember that you can’t fix anything until you admit there’s a problem. Try to view your mistakes not as failures but as learning opportunities, and have the strength within to realize you control your reality and you’re the only one who can change it. Decide what’s important to you and set your mind to it.

6. Own your outcomes.

Work toward owning every part of your realities–not just the things that need work but also your strengths and successes. Owning all your outcomes can help teach you to do better next time, to see failure as a learning moment.

7. Don’t let fear get in your way.

Don’t let fears–especially fears of what others think of you–stand in your way. You must be willing to do things in the unique ways you think are best, and to reflect on any feedback you receive.

8. Count on your competencies.

It’s easy to look in the mirror and point out all your insecurities. But to face your reality, it’s best to start counting all positives. Make a list of your strengths, the things you are good at, the values that you hold, and the accomplishments you’ve achieved. Counting on your competencies helps you realize your strengths, which in turn will help you improve your attitude toward yourself.

9. Let go of your biases.

Don’t get caught up in the life you think you are supposed to have, but work on creating the reality you are meant to live. Your biases can blind you to almost any reality. You can try to ignore them, but closing your eyes won’t make them disappear. Instead, learn to understand them and let them go.

10. Accept that struggle will always be part of our reality.

Don’t shy away from challenges but wade into the struggle and get comfortable with operating and living there. Struggles are a way of life, and we have to learn to confront them. And you never know: something the most challenging things can hold the greatest opportunity for success.

11. Make a plan for reaching your goal.

Include steps you will take to take to create a new reality. Break your goal into small steps that you can accomplish one at a time to build your confidence and self-worth as you go. Your new reality can begin to happen once you have a plan with specific goals.

Remember, you will never be able to create the right reality if you aren’t willing to let the wrong reality go.


This article was first published at Inc


Why Having a Crush Is Good for You


Embarrassing fantasy relationships play an important evolutionary role.


By Sarah Griffiths


We’ve all played the lead role in a teen drama laden with angst, sweaty palms, a racing heart, and an inability to concentrate on anything or anyone else but the object of our desire. And just as every Hollywood scenario depicts, crushes can be excruciatingly embarrassing in high school, but can also affect us in adulthood. So it might seem difficult to imagine that all this cringe-worthy behavior has a purpose and is actually good for us — at least most of the time.

Adults can also be taken unaware when cupid strikes, suddenly becoming self-conscious around someone attractive at work or swooning over a celebrity, even when they’re happily married. Why this happens is a bit of a mystery.

“Crushes have more to do with fantasy than with reality,” psychologist and author Dr. Carl Pickhardt has written. “They tell much more about the admirer than the admired.”

In its purest sense, a crush is a form of parasocial relationship; a one-sided relationship where you have feelings for someone else but those feelings are not reciprocated, according to Dr.

Anna Machin, an evolutionary anthropologist at the University of Oxford’s Department of Experimental Psychology. “The research into the brain isn’t there yet, so we still don’t know whether crushes generate the same [neural] patterns as when someone is genuinely in love,” she said. Despite this, she added, the feeling of infatuation or love that crushes produce is real.

What goes on in our heads?

It’s thought that when we’re in love or lust, the stress and reward systems in our brain are working overtime, and the same is possibly true of having a crush. Nerve cells in the brain release a chemical called norepinephrine that stimulates the production of adrenaline, and give us the feeling of arousal that causes our palms to sweat and our hearts to pound. The feel-good chemical dopamine is also released, making us excitable and talkative, and perhaps explains why we sometimes blurt out unimaginably embarrassing things. This is charmingly described as “word vomit” in the cult film Mean Girls, and exemplified by the mortifying line, “I carried a watermelon” in Dirty Dancing.

It’s thought that when we’re in love or lust, the stress and reward systems in our brain are working overtime, and the same is possibly true of having a crush.

“If we were to reduce down what love is, in a neural sense, it’s a neurochemical reward, so the feelings you have are a mixture of chemicals… and dopamine is your go-to reward chemical in life,” said Dr. Machin.

“When you’re in love or you have a crush, you’ll still get your dopamine reward for that, even if your feelings are not reciprocated.” It’s this process that seems to account for our slightly obsessive behavior when we have a crush — think Cameron in Ten Things I Hate About You — because thinking of an unintended brief encounter can make us feel happy, and that’s addictive.

The limbic area of the brain is thought to be involved both in love and crushes. When examined in an MRI scanner, someone in love will typically have high activity in an area of the limbic system called the caudate nucleus. That’s important, because it links to the neocortex, which handles the more cognitive or sensible aspects of love, Dr. Machin explained. Perhaps, this is the area we refer to if we trust our head more than our hearts when it comes to finding a partner. But it means that rather than slavishly following our amorous fantasies, our rational mind regulates the limbic brain’s desire for dopamine. While it wins out most of the time, because the limbic system is associated with addiction, getting over a crush can be tough, and some of us hold a torch for years.

Why do we have crushes anyway?

Is there a higher purpose for having a crush, beyond just making us feel good? Dr. Machin believes they play a strong evolutionary role. “Parasocial relationships in adolescence are a very valuable experience,” she explained. “They are something that’s part of our development because they allow an adolescent to start to explore relationships and their own sexuality and understand what attracts them in a safe way, because they’re not going to get hurt in the same way as they might in a real relationship.”

It’s important to distinguish between imagining what a relationship could be like, and having a crush with the intention of exploring a real relationship.

Whereas many of us have dated the wrong “type” of person, and had our hearts broken as a result, crushes can help ensure this doesn’t happen. “This person [the crush] is the right person because you idolize them,” Dr Machin said. “They’re going to be who you want them to be, therefore, it’s very safe. It’s a training ground for proper relationships in the real world.” Harry Styles, then, might be building a generation’s romantic resilience. “In adolescence, crushes are a healthy thing and teenagers shouldn’t feel embarrassed,” she added.

In adulthood, things are more complicated. It’s important to distinguish between imagining what a relationship could be like, and having a crush with the intention of exploring a real relationship. Dr. Gary W. Lewandowski Jr., a writer and relationship scientist at Monmouth University in New Jersey, said that our evolutionary history suggests we are not a monogamous species. So crushes could be a way to help identify a future or additional partner to meet our needs — or they could be the sign of adults who are simply stuck in adolescence and unable to have a real relationship. “A crush could be a gateway behavior that eventually leads to cheating,” said Dr. Lewandowski.

What are the upsides to this embarrassing behavior?

Left as daydreams, crushes are usually harmless. Research shows that people with crushes often feel like they are in a real relationship, which could be a way to decrease loneliness, and may even boost our confidence. Crushes could help reinvigorate stale relationships by revealing what they are lacking, and give people insight into how to improve their love lives. And even the most unlikely or strange crushes could be enlightening. “People aren’t always good at knowing what they want, so a crush may actually be insight into something you don’t like and didn’t realize or didn’t want to admit,” Dr. Lewandowski said.

How do you cope with a crush as a teenager or an adult? “I’d encourage people to recognize that they are idealizing their crush,” said Dr. Lewandowski. Perhaps take the advice of Cher from Clueless and send yourself flowers and love letters — because ultimately, you can’t control who you have a crush on, so you may as well have fun.


This article was first published at www.medium.com


How to Reach the Right People


By Frank McKinley


What I learned about marketing after trying to do too much.

Do you want to win over the world?
That’s the dream we buy into when we have something to say or sell.

It’s appealing to have an office 10 feet from your bed. The thought of having my car’s tires dry rot from not having to drive over 100 miles a day to work is a big motivator. Being able to schedule coffee and a nap is pretty sweet, too.

That day will come.

The question we all want answered is, “How on earth do I make my dream come true?”

Then we start looking for shortcuts. Magic pills. Answers in a box. A one-size-fits-all solution that we can turn the key on and instantly find millions of dollars in the bank.

If only!

Here’s what some “overnight” successes have to say:

“I was 40 years old before I became on overnight success, and I’d been publishing for 20 years.” — Mary Karr, bestselling author of The Liar’s Club
“My dad told me, ‘It takes fifteen years to become an overnight success’, and it took me seventeen and a half.” — Adrien Brody, the youngest actor ever to win the Best Actor Academy Award
“It took about 10 years’ time for

Shopify to be an overnight success.” — Tobias Lutke, Founder and CEO of Shopify I’m not saying your success path will take forever. But it will probably take longer than you think and the path doesn’t come with a map.

My Story, Briefly

A few months ago, I made the mistake of buying Gary Vaynerchuk’s Crush It.
One of the first messages in that book is that if you want to succeed you should spend about 7 hours a night on your passion and sleep the other three. Since you’ll have to keep your day job while you’re waiting, you have to crush it.

I was already tired from doing too much, so I quit reading the book.
I asked my mentor for a book on marketing. He suggested one that on the surface doesn’t look like a marketing book, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown.

It was just the message I needed. 180 degrees in the other direction. No more beating myself into a pulp trying to crush it.

I had some big projects on my plate I had to finish. So I immediately began to think about what really mattered and what didn’t.

Should I check Facebook, email, Twitter, and Medium 10,000 times a day?

Should I take my phone with me everywhere so I can get in one more news article, one more social media comment, or one more idea in my notepad?

Should I spend all day listening to books so I can learn something new?
No, no, and a resounding hell no.
What I learned has literally changed my life so much, I feel like I’m walking out of prison after a million years of self-sabotage.


This article was first published at www.medium.com


Your Work Is the Only Thing That Matters – Forget about everything else


By Ryan Holiday


There is a story about an exchange between Jerry Seinfeld and a young comedian. The comedian approaches Seinfeld in a club one night and asks him for advice about marketing and getting exposure.

Exposure? Marketing? Seinfeld asks. Just work on your act.

Seinfeld, a pure stand-up, a comedian’s comedian, is appalled by the question. It’s offensive to his legendary heads-down work ethic. But to the kid, this was a surprise. Isn’t that the kind of question you’re supposed to ask? Isn’t that how you get ahead?

He’s not alone. Certainly, I myself wasted many chances to learn about how to improve my craft by instead asking people I admire for superficial hacks and career opportunities. I see the same mistake repeated in subreddits and forums and blogs and Facebook groups that (aspiring) creative professionals — writers, designers, startup founders — use as networking vehicles and support systems. If Seinfeld ever saw them, he’d cringe at every word.

Because these often closed groups are self-selected communities of ambitious, motivated go-getters, there is a tendency to skip the slow and immeasurable creative process and go right to the tactics for getting attention or catching a break. They want tricks and tips for getting ahead, hacks for advancing their careers. Even amongst the more advanced or already successful, the questions posed to the group are mostly technical: How do you guys like to negotiate contracts? How can I sell more copies or increase my fees? Who is the best agent?

No one pursuing an artistic career wants to hear what sits at the core of Seinfeld’s advice: Your work isn’t good enough.

Not that these things aren’t important. Certainly I’d like to know the answers myself but judging by the amount of time people spend asking them, or talking about their complicated Evernote systems or their preferred deal terms, or the readiness with which they are willing to share their elaborate rituals and routines, the less cynical person would assume that everyone must have already mastered their craft and the only thing left for them to worry about is mopping up a few minor details at the margins.

If only…

Because if that were even remotely true, we wouldn’t be drowning in so much mediocrity — if not outright garbage. The reason it’s not true is that nobody in these forums, really no one pursuing an artistic career, wants to hear what sits at the core of Seinfeld’s advice: Your work isn’t good enough. Keep your head down. You still have a long way to go.

To me, one of the root causes of this situation is the economic transformation that creative industries have gone through over the last twenty years. There used to be publishers, art dealers, investors, managers, and record labels that handled the majority of the business side of the equation. But increasingly, the relevance of those partners has fallen away, and the number of hats a creator wears has increased. The artist can’t just be an artist — they also have to know how to upload YouTube videos, use GIFs, promote gigs, and figure out how to get followers on various platforms. The artist has far more visibility into their earnings and their distribution, than ever before. With that comes more leverage, all of which is a good thing.

But the unintended consequence of, what one might call, total brand and business control, is that it diverts attention away from the most essential part of any creative profession. You know, making great stuff.

It’s hard to do that under ideal circumstances; harder still when you’re tweeting or visualizing your next Instagram story or flying to some industry conference. And podcasts… every one of them takes an hour. If you’re lucky. And more are created every single day and again, if you’re lucky, people will want to have you on theirs.

Earlier this month, NovelRank.com, a site which let authors track their sales rank on Amazon across all regions, was shut down by Amazon. The “official” reason had something to do with the terms of service of their affiliate program. I’d never cheer someone losing their business, but secretly, I’m quite grateful to whoever made that call at Amazon. I have spent way too much of my time refreshing that site, checking how my books were selling in Germany or trying to figure out why the rank of one of my older books suddenly shot up.

An artist’s job is to create masterpieces. Period.
A line from Phil Libin, the founder of Evernote, is “people who are thinking about things other than making the best product, never make the best product.” I’m willing to overlook the fact that Evernote is too often a shiny distraction for creatives — a black hole into which time is thrown under the auspices of “research” and “organization” — because he’s totally right.

It echoes an even more poignant sentiment from Cyril Connolly which I quoted in Perennial Seller: “The more books we read, the clearer it becomes that the true function of a writer is to produce a masterpiece and that no other task is of any consequence.”

“An artist’s job is to create masterpieces. Period.”

Everything else is secondary.

About a year ago, my mind began to construct this recurring moving image that would play on a loop whenever I was working on a book or a particularly difficult article. I’d close my eyes, think about the project, and there it would be. The image is of an unidentifiable baseball player at the plate. It’s zoomed in like one of those SportsCenter closeups, and the batter is already mid-swing and connecting with the ball. It’s one of those beautiful, old-timey swings like Mickey Mantle or Ted Williams used to do. The front leg extended, the back leg all the way back, the bat coming up and hitting the ball perfectly.

That’s it. That’s the whole image.

I don’t see where the ball goes, whether it was a base hit or a grand slam. I suspect earlier in my career, I would have cared about the outcome. I would have cared about who the player was and what team he played for. I would have needed to know whether the ball went foul or found a fielder’s mitt or cleared the upper deck. But as I have gotten better as a writer, paradoxically, it doesn’t even occur to me that such a thing would matter.

The image is just the connecting. The bat and the ball. The thing that is supposed to be all but physically impossible — hitting a rock coming at 90 miles per hour, that traveled from an elevated mound down to the batter in less than 400 milliseconds. Over and over again. The connecting.

Very few of us can do that impossible thing. Can connect like that. Can cut it in the big leagues, where the ball looks like a marble as it comes over the plate and pitchers put it in a spot the size of a croquet ball… at 90+ mph. Very few can time their swing just right to meet the ball and hear that satisfying crack as the ball heads back the other direction. And to do it more than once? To do it game in and game out, day in and day out? It’s a miracle. It requires complete and total dedication.

If you cease practicing for a second, if you let your mind get wound too tight or simply allowed to drift elsewhere, you will lose that ability. Your bat will stop connecting with the ball, your batting average will drop and soon enough you yourself will be dropped, first from the majors and then the sport altogether.

That’s what I think the image is supposed to be a reminder to me of. Writing of course is all about a kind of consistent connection: with the audience, with yourself, with something that goes to the essence of the human experience. Really, that’s all art and commerce are, too. Not to put too fine a point on it, but they are about swinging at the right pitches too.

When a business is perfectly lined up with the needs of the market. When a song taps into some wave of emotion you didn’t know was there. When a painting or a poem shoves you in your solar plexus. When an article touches on some truth about the world that needed to be said.

That’s the job.

Selecting and Connecting.

We need to forget about tertiary concerns and stop fiddling with shit that doesn’t matter.

We need to keep our eye on the ball.

We need to work on our act.

Nothing else is of any consequence.


This article was first published at www.medium.com


You Need To Keep Your Mind In One Place At A Time


Stop thinking about home when you are at work, and work when you are at home.


By Deb Knobelman, PhD


When I went back to work after my second maternity leave, I was a mess.

I worked at a giant company. The kind that has meetings all day, every day. Which means, all the actual work that you need to do gets pushed into the cracks of your day. Or, after your work day is supposed to end.

I had two very young kids at home. I have always loved the intellectual stimulation of work, so I was happy to be back. But I also wanted to be with my kids. As I sat in meetings all day, I thought about them. I wondered what they were doing. I thought about the time I should spend with them. And then I went home. But when I was with my kids, I thought about all the work I wasn’t doing. How was I ever going to get it all done?

Like I said, I was a mess. I felt like I was failing at everything.

That phase of life is very specific. It’s tough to find your footing and get the rhythm of life when you have a new baby. But I found that as my kids got older, my mind kept doing the same thing, like a habit that I couldn’t break. Think about kids at work, think about work at home. I felt guilty and distracted all the time. Which made me even less productive at work, and short-tempered at home.

Things have changed a lot since those years. I still hear those thoughts in my head from time to time. The thoughts that wander away from the present. To thoughts about what I should be doing or someplace else I should be. But I’ve learned how to manage my thoughts a lot more since then. Here are some of the most important tools that I use, whenever I find myself back in that space.

Get rid of the guilt

Some guilt serves a purpose. It’s a way of policing our own behavior — of keeping us from doing socially or morally inappropriate things. But guilt can become addictive, in a way. According to Alex Korb, Ph.D. in his book The Upward Spiral, guilt, and shame literally activate the brain’s reward centers.

So the next time you feel guilty, ask yourself, is that guilt serving you? Is it spurring you on to do better, to be better? Or are you addicted to the feeling? Are you spinning your wheels, trapped in the mud of guilt?

If it’s the latter, find some self-compassion for yourself. Pinpoint exactly what is making you feel guilty. See if there is a should attach to that guilt. For example, I had two guilty thoughts running on autopilot in the back of my mind:

I should be with my kids.

I should be working.

But these thoughts imply that whatever I was actually doing at that moment was wrong. Instead of accepting the reality of where I was.

At that moment in time, I had young kids, and I had a full-time corporate job. I wanted both of those. Which meant sometimes I had to be at work, and sometimes I had to be at home. There was no other way. So, telling myself that it was wrong to be in either place didn’t help anything. Those thoughts kept me spinning.

Over time, I learned to redirect my thoughts. To stop thinking about what I should do. And tell myself, this is where I am. This is what I’m doing right now. There is no right or wrong. There is no perfect parent or a perfect worker. I am doing the best I can. And leave it at that.

Make a plan in advance for when the distracting thoughts come up

I am a planner by nature. But it didn’t occur to me to make a plan in advance about how to keep my mind on the task at hand. I’d never had my thoughts split in two places like that before. I spent a lot of time, in the beginning, reacting to each thought as it came up.

Peter Gollwitzer, Ph.D. is a Psychology Professor at NYU. One of his greatest research findings (in my mind) is the profound impact of what he calls “If-then” plans. (“If situation X arises, then I’ll do Y.”).

According to Gollwitzer,

Intrusive thoughts that elicit a strong affective reaction…[are] given processing priority in your mind and undermine the ability to reach your primary goal.In other words, when you have upsetting thoughts, your brain spends a lot of time focusing on them. And it undermines your ability to focus on the task at hand.

This is what keeps you from being more efficient at work when you are thinking about what’s going on at home. And keeps you from engaging at home when you are thinking about work.

His solution is to create a plan, in advance. To choose a specific thought to think ahead of time, when you start hearing that same negative voice in your head.

For example, instead of simply waiting until the inevitable thought “I should be with my kids” came up at work, I could make a plan. I could tell myself,

When I start thinking that I should be with my kids, I will remind myself: it is possible to be a good parent and also enjoy work.

I will consciously redirect my negative thought toward a specific positive one. Which will make me feel less upset, and help bring my mind back to the task at hand.

If-then plans have been shown to have several significant benefits. According to Gollwitzer (from the book Affective Determinants Of Health-Related Behaviors):

Forming implementation intentions [if-then plans] is…effective…in up-regulating mood, down-regulating distress, and… reducing clinical levels of anxiety.

So think about what your two or three “go-to” negative thoughts are. And make a plan for what to think instead. Write your chosen thoughts down on a post-it note on your desk. Put them as a reminder on your phone. And intentionally think about them when your mind wanders away from the present.

Allow yourself

“worry time”One other action that I found very helpful was to block off time. Sometimes my distracting thoughts would take on a more specific shape. Thoughts like, what will I do if my kid doesn’t get into that preschool?

Often those thoughts aren’t productive, but it’s hard to completely get rid of them. They can be very distracting.

So instead, I’d block off “worry time.” Instead of thinking about preschool at the same time as working on a presentation, I’d make a plan. I’d tell myself, I need to focus on this presentation for 25 minutes. I will write down all my worries on a piece of paper. And then in 25 minutes, I can think about my worries for 5 or 10 minutes. I will write down anything else that comes up in that time. And if I need to, I will think about it again during the next work break.

Telling myself that the worrisome thoughts were “allowed” was very freeing. And knowing that I had a specific time to think about them helped me focus on the meeting or presentation. But the reverse would work as well. I knew that I was “allowed” from 3–3:45pm on a Sunday afternoon to catch up on email. So I’d spend less time worrying about work while I was with my kids. Because I knew that I had a plan. I could focus on one thing at a time.

There is no perfect level of attention either at work or at home. But if we let go of guilt, make a plan for what to think, and block off “worry time”. We will all get better at focusing on work when we’re at work, and home when we’re at home. More focus means we are more present. Which means less time working on one thing. Or better connection with our loved ones at home.

We could all use a little more mindfulness and intention. But remember, all you can do is your best, at any given moment. Let go of the rest.


This article was first published at www.medium.com