365 Days to a Better You – Day 73

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.

This was one of the earliest inspiring quotes I remember finding when I began my personal development journey. It’s attributed Eleanor Roosevelt. Though there’s no record of her saying it in exactly this form, according Quote Investigator, it’s based on a comment Mrs. Roosevelt made in response to a question in a 1935 press conference.

You’ve probably heard this quote too. The question is are we living by it?

One of the hardest jobs you have in carving out your selfhood in this world is freeing yourself from the opinions of others. In fact, as we discussed in another recent post, you were probably rewarded early in your life for staying within the framework of your parents’, friends’, and society’s opinion. Even as an adult, breaking free from that nexus is a challenge. This is why we have so many “people pleasers” in our society. It’s been thoroughly conditioned.

Mostly, it’s harmless conformity. The problem for people happens when an authority figure or a personal relationship becomes abusive and you begin applying your people pleasing to that situation. You soon find that only encourages the abuser (or at least the mean person) to increase the behavior.

The next natural question becomes, “What am I doing wrong?” You work harder for the approval in a situation where the approval is almost impossible.

Millions of people, including most of us at one time or another, have found ourselves in this situation. What Eleanor Roosevelt’s quote is encouraging you to do is stop participating. Stop giving that person the power to ruin your joy, your confidence, or your take your freedom.

I know, it’s easier said than done. Books could and have been written on how to do this. I won’t cheapen the topic by pretending I can give detailed guidance here. Let me just say this. Awareness is the first step. Stop participating in the bullying behavior. Then go back and look at some of the first 71 posts in this series. Remember WHO you really are. If you get a firm handle on that, you’ll never stand for anyone else making you feel inferior again.

Keep on shining like the star you are!

Ray

365 Days to a Better You -Day 72

Go Confidently…

Our friend Henry David Thoreau wrote the following passion about his experiment in the woods in Walden. Several well-known shorter quotes appear in this passage.

“I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him; or the old laws be expanded, and interpreted in his favor in a more liberal sense, and he will live with the license of a higher order of beings. In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness. If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”

We all want to be confident, right? But how? Here are six tips for increasing your confidence.

Power hack:

  1. Believe in your brand – I know this is glib marketing-speak, but it really is important to believe in your brand. This may mean different things to different people. For some, this may have to do with physical appearance. For others, it may be the value you know you bring to the table. This can mean whatever it means to you. You have a zone, sweet spot for you. You’ve been there before. Learn to access that state on command. When you’re in that zone, confidence is not an issue. Key phrase is, “FEEL GOOD.”
  2. Be prepared – Yep. The scouts have it right. Nothing increases your confidence than knowing you’ve done all you can to prepare for a situation or for life in general. You don’t have to be a genius to come off as one. Being prepared can make you look like the smartest one in the room.  Key phrase is “BE READY.”
  3. Get Better – Abraham Lincoln once said, “If I had six hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend four of them sharpening my axe.” More than 100 years later, motivation gurus seized on this quote a made it a metaphor for continuous improvement. The idea is always be doing something to stay sharp or get better. It’s about making self-improvement a constant part of your game plan. Key phrase is, “FEED YOUR MIND.”
  4. Set and achieve small goals – nothing gives you confidence like success. A success doesn’t have to be huge to give you confidence and momentum. Set some small goals and achieve them or break up your big goal into small quickly attainable goals. Benjamin Franklin coined an aphorism. “Small strokes fell great oaks.” Take this approach and watch your confidence grow. Key phrase is, “START SMALL END BIG.”
  5. Begin…start…now – waiting for the confidence to do something only stresses you out and makes you question more. Nothing defeats doubt or builds confidence faster than action. Lack of confidence is in your mind. To beat it, you must get out of your mind and get into physical action. With some focus, you may have knocked out those things that made you doubt before your doubt even gets started. “ACTION IS TRACTION.
  6. Trust yourself and the universe – If you’ve learned nothing else in these past 72 days, you should have learned that there is something AMAZING within you and that you are completely connected to something even bigger and more amazing. Whether you call that something the universe or God or Tao isn’t as important as knowing it’s there and it’s aligned with you. So trust. You’re FAR from small, weak, or helpless. Everything you need is right here and right now. Key phrase is, “TRUST AND KNOW.”

This is not exhaustive list of things you can do to build your confidence, but my hope is to give you some practical, actionable items that can help you build or enhance in your confidence.

Go confidently…

Ray

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365 Days to a Better You – Day 71

Remember who you really are.

We are vagabonds traveling through time and space in these earthen bodies. It all feels very solid and real. Yet, beyond the 80 years or so most of us spend here, lies an eternity stretching back into the past and off into the future. All that time we’ve been something other than what we are now.

If you boil down all the great spiritual traditions to their humblest cores and even throw in the insights of modern science, we are all small parts of some far greater whole.

If you look at the ocean from below the surface, you’ll see bubbles forming above. The bubbles appear and disappear in an instant like these forms of ours. Yet, the bubbles are not made of bubble material. They are made of ocean. They are born from the ocean. They appear as a bubble for a moment upon the ocean and then return to their true nature – pure ocean.

Power hack: My friends, you may be feel small and temporary some days like the bubble. Let me firmly assure you. You are made of ocean not bubble. You are extension of this universe and the intelligence behind it not something random or separate.

If you can live as much of your day and your life as possible in state of utter realization about this important fact, you will never feel small, temporary, or unimportant. In fact, I would argue each and every one of us indispensable to the great ocean of existence of which we are a part.

You are amazing and never forget it!

Ray

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365 Days to a Better You – Day 70

Break some rules.

From the time you were a small child, you were taught to follow the rules. You got that from adults whose lives were made easier, if you didn’t buck their system. They had learned it from adults who felt the same way and so and so on as far back as you can go.

Later, you went to school, became a citizen and an employee. In each instance, there was an authority that really preferred that you just play along. Lists and lists of rules were in place to ensure that you stayed in line and punishments were instituted in case you decided not to.

Have you ever wondered for a moment why other people get to set the rules for your life and you are just supposed to go along? Maybe you haven’t even gone there? Maybe you’ve just gone along because it’s easier.

Some rules are smart. They benefit you, keep you safe, make life more fair, or even make civilized society possible. Many rules, though, have little purpose but to impose someone else’s guide-rails on your life.

Some times rules fit into both categories depending on the situation. For example, during hours of busy traffic, it’s smart to use a crosswalk. It keeps drivers and pedestrians safer. However, does it make sense to walk half a block to a crosswalk at two in the morning just because you’re “supposed” to use the crosswalk?

Devout rule-followers would argue yes. Those are the moments when you get to decide whether you’re just going to conform for the sake of conformity or break a few rules. This question doesn’t end with simple rules like crosswalks. It can go right up to life’s biggest questions. Are you just going to follow the rules or are you going to question, break, or transcend them?

Power hack: All the greats consciously broke rules or transcended them. They refused to let the rules of their societies limit their thinking or their destinies. They realized as Einstein said, “The problems in the world are not solved by the level of thinking that created them.” That goes for your life too.

Rules, by definition, are the protectors of the status quo. They are the bulwark against change. A rule never innovated or changed society or a life. If you’re going to let rules, well, rule your life, you’ll likely never achieve anything big.

I’m not advocating anarchy or chaos here. You don’t have to go against everything to just to be against it. You do have to question rules and whether or not following them really serves you, the situation, or society more than what you can bring to the table by consciously ignoring them.

In Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey concept, the hero leaves the bounds of his or her society (the rules and dictates) and find a new paradigm. The hero risks the derision of “the tribe.” If the hero is successful, he or she brings back a boon that benefits and ultimately moves the hero and the tribe forward.

So, break some rules. Lightning won’t strike you down. You will, however, gain back a small measure of the autonomy you were all born with.

I’ll leave you today with this old Apple commercial many of you will remember. It captures this idea beautifully.

Ray

Life is Good Affirmation

This is one of my top five affirmations. I wrote it nearly 30 years ago and I use it practically every day. The affirmation is repeated 12 times each in the first person and second-person for maximum impact.

  1. First person: Life is good! Things are going my way. The people around me are noticing a difference in me and I am noticing a difference in myself.
  2. Second person: Life is good! Things are going your way. The people around you are noticing a difference in you and you are noticing a difference in yourself.

You can download a copy of this affirmation for your playlist here.

Get your week off to a GREAT start!

Ray

365 Days to a Better You – Day 69

Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes…

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once wrote, “If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man’s life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.”

As I recall, I first became familiar with this quote about 30 years ago. I have since sought to make it foundational in how I see the world.

Much of the negativity, violence, hatred, and injustice in the world comes from an over-emphasis on our own sorrow and suffering and a too-casual dismissal of the sorrow and suffering of others. The recognition of the human condition as a universally wondrous, but often painful affair, must breed a greater sense of compassion for others in thinking person.

By striving to see this truth present in others, all other living things, we begin to disarm our hostility. Frankly, we begin to stop seeing them as an enemy and restoring their sense of humanity in our minds. What an enlightened achievement that is!

The question that invariably comes up is, “That’s great, but what if my enemy doesn’t attain that enlightenment and continues to try to harm me?” We see this mindset flaunted in our foreign policy and on social media. It’s almost a hurt them and silence them before they have a chance to hurt you and silence you mentality.

That is not and never will be the world or the mindset I choose. Obviously, we should be clear-eyed and protect ourselves from harm or danger. However, we should not see harm and danger around every corner or believe it comes from someone because who they are or what they look like. And maybe, just maybe, by being the first to see your adversary’s humanity, you might be doing what they so badly wanted to do but lacked the courage.

Someone has to bust down the doors the separate. Why not you and me? Empathy and compassion are not weakness. They are profound courage.

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog. I hope, if you find it useful, you will share it with others.

Have an AWESOME day!

Ray

 

 

365 Days to a Better You – Day 68

Are you being defeated by your sub-text?

“I’m trying to stay positive,” you say. “I say affirmations. I try to focus on my goals and I work hard for them. Why is nothing happening?”

Here’s a question for you. What’s your sub-text telling you? What am I talking about?

Do you say an affirmation, but even as you’re saying it you’re thinking, “That will never happen?” Do you work so hard for your goal and then something stops you from really reaching for it? Sub-text can even be subconscious and unspoken. What’s holding you back?

You may have verbal or conditioned sub-texts that are undermining everything you’re consciously working for and affirming.

Power hack: Here steps you can take to get your sub-text working for you again.

  1. Become aware. Notice the negative thoughts or words that sweep in right after you affirm something to sabotage it. Notice the subtle ways you you self-sabotage every time you get close to achieving your goal.
  2. Go deeper. Understand the dynamic that’s driving the sabotage. Once you’re aware, try to figure out why you’re doing that to yourself. Are you holding on to old conditioned beliefs about yourself? Do you not even want to achieve this goal? Get conscious about what is going on with your sub-text. Go below the surface and the obvious and get to the root cause.
  3. Take action. If this is a goal you really want to achieve, take action to change your sub-text. Recognize the conditioning or the negative thoughts and devise a plan to defeat them. I’ve found affirmations are a great way to do this because they are a tool specifically designed to replace unhealthy and unproductive thoughts.

With a little awareness and some determination, you’ll be back on the road to your dreams in no time.

Be the you you’ve always wanted to be!

Ray