I'm pretty excited to let you know that I'll be releasing 'Own The Day: How to Unlock Your Potential with Morning Rituals' on December 1. After some complications with the launch page, we have everything ironed out and are looking forward to sharing this for free. I've gotten a lot of emails asking about it and I thank you for your patience. On December 1, I will post a link to the download. I hope it helps you as much as it's helped me.
I used to be the biggest cynic. It’s true. As a child I was always playing and using my imagination, but rarely was I ‘care-free’. I always saw what could go wrong and I expected it. I didn’t call myself ‘cynical’. Seriously, who ever wants to be known as a glass is half empty kind of person? But that’s what I was. I thought it meant that I was smart. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Everyone has a recurring thought… or two… or thousands. Similar thoughts bind together after being laid one on top of the other over the years to form a strong belief system. The incredible thing about belief systems is that they serve as a map to interpret the world around us, including our place in the world, and have the incredible power to shape our decisions in life. The power of a strongly held belief has exponential implications for the life of an individual and a community. Take Vera for example. She is in her late twenties and has come to believe that… “I’m just not that smart.” Why does she believe this? Why does she choose to see herself this way? If you asked her she would tell you that it’s mere fact. She never excelled in academics and was always in the middle to lower end of her class in terms of performance. She would tell you that there are certain books she just shouldn’t waste her time reading because there are some concepts that are ‘beyond’ her scope. With this belief entrenched in Vera’s mind, emotions and body, she limits her potential career opportunities, relationship dynamics, and possibility for growth in almost every area of her life. Exponential implications.
But if you press the question ‘why do you believe this’, there are all sorts of alternative possibilities to the opinion that she holds to so firmly.
Is it possible that Vera had an incredibly negative experience with an educator at an early age and always associated emotionally negative feelings with school, in turn tainting her desire to study or learn in that environment? Is it possible that one or both of her parents sent her the message that ‘no one in our family is all that smart and that’s just fine with us because no one likes a know-it-all.’ Could it be that different people learn and grow intellectually in various ways and the particular methods in which Vera is challenged intellectually were never afforded her along her educational path? Is it possible that the structure of western education is so focused on conformity to specific methods of education that often those who don’t conform as well to these methods are improperly labeled or mistakenly diagnosed with a disability? How many times would a young, impressionable mind have to be told this by an authority figure before they owned it as truth?
There are so many variations of these restricting views of ourselves that we tend to accept as fact, when in all likelihood, they are just opinions formed over time. Thoughts that we bought into enough times that they grew into a belief system, which we now whole-heartedly subscribe to.
I’m no good at math.
I can’t write to save my life.
I just can’t stop myself from eating.
I am not very coordinated.
My brother is the creative one.
I’m incapable of getting organized.
I can’t follow through on things.
I don’t have what it takes.
I’m not a good communicator.
I’m terrible at relationships and always will be.
Today I just want to call to your attention that there may be some beliefs you hold as truth about yourself and they are limiting you. Further, these beliefs aren’t based on reality, but are based on the collection of some data you’ve incorrectly extrapolated from some recurring experiences in your past. I would like you to list 3 beliefs you’ve held onto for almost as long as you can remember that you know limit you. And ask this question about each of of the beliefs you’ve listed… “Is it possible that it isn’t true?”
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____________________________________________________________________________ "Human beings have the awesome ability to take any experience of their lives and create a meaning that disempowers them or one that can literally save their lives."
"What we can or cannot do, what we consider possible or impossible, is rarely a function of our true capability. It is more likely a function of our beliefs about who we are." - Anthony Robbins
"Truth lives, in fact, for the most part on a credit system. Our thoughts and beliefs pass, so long as nothing challenges them, just as bank-notes pass so long as nobody refuses them." - William James
“Never limit your view of life by any past experience” - Ernest Holmes
There are questions that we can ask that change everything. The power of a good question can cause exponential growth for you. Emotionally and mentally healthy people are always asking the right questions and those questions lead them somewhere wonderful. The right questions can kick-start your brain to begin to find the right solutions. They can be a great method to bring meaning to any circumstance of your life.
I believe there are three crucial questions that you can ask that will not only change your life but bring deep meaning to some difficult and painful circumstances.
The first question is, “How might the divine already be at work in my circumstance?” This question comes with the assumption that God is already involved and at work in your life whether you see it or not. It opens our eyes to the greatness involved in your painful situation. The second question is similar, “What about this situation is not yet whole?” This question assumes that The Divine wants to make all things whole, including us, and would like to partner with us in our lives to bring that about. When we ask this question our brain begins to look for ways that we can answer the question “how can I be more whole?” The third question is, “What am I willing to do now to partner with The Divine in order to transform my situation?” or “What am I willing to do right now to move forward in a healthy manner?” This question causes our brain to search for solutions and acknowledges that there IS a way forward and we do have control over our inner lives.
Let's take rejection for example. In fact let's go right for the jugular and talk specifically about romantic rejection. Someone that you really like, or even love, has possibly rejected you. Initially it's impossible not to take this rejection personally. Because if they are rejecting you it’s almost like they are saying that you were not good enough, smart enough, or beautiful enough for them. This can immediately lead us to asking the question "what is wrong with me "? If that's the question that you're asking, your brain will immediately begin to try to find an answer. And it will find many answers my friend. I believe that once you ask your yourself a question, your mind will begin searching for possible answers. They may not even be the right answers, but your mind will continue on trying to answer that question for days, months, or even years.
You can see how destructive this can be and how important it is ask the right questions. So let's apply our three questions to the life circumstance of being rejected romantically.
How is the divine already at work here and what is the good in this situation? Possible answers:
1. I can now see some areas that this relationship needed work and will use this information for future relationships.
2. There may be an even more fulfilling healthy relationship for me in the future.
3. Pain and frustration always precede incredible growth and I have that growth to look forward to.
What about this situation is not yet whole? Possible answers:
1. I can see through this rejection that I have not yet fully loved and accepted myself for who I am and I have the perfect opportunity to be comfortable in that area of my life.
2. I can clearly see ways in which I participated in the dissolving of this relationship and can choose to be mindful of those things in my next relationship.
3. I now realize how valuable this person is to me and will do everything I can to try to win them back without compromising myself.
What am that I'm willing to to do right now in order to partner with God transformation this situation? Possible answers:
1. Surrender the outcome completely and trust in the divine.
2. Work on those areas in my life that I know will make me a better person.
3. Begin to forgive this person.
4. Communicate with them how I truly feel.
There is no limit to the amount of good questions you can come up and they can be applied to any situation.
With these questions you can empower and enable yourself to be open to change and open to new meaning In your life. These questions help your brain to work for you instead of against you. And these questions can bring a deeper meaning to any circumstance. Happiness is nice and well. But meaning and purpose have much more weight and brings holistic fulfillment to your life.
So what is bothering you today? Before you go any further, find two things in your life that you’ve been struggling with lately. Then, identify the damaging questions you may have been asking and replace them with these three questions. Don’t wait. Do this now and watch the power of these questions change your life and make it more meaningful.
People wear the badge of ‘perfectionist’ with pride. They believe that if they call themselves a perfectionist they have already attained a sense of worth. This is crap thinking. Just plain crap. The only thing being a perfectionist will guarantee you is that you will never have the kind of freedom you want and you will be stuck with a tremendous amount of shame. Every perfectionist that I’ve worked with has wanted to attain a certain amount of freedom. Financial freedom. Freedom from the expectations of others. Freedom to travel. Freedom from their scheduling. Freedom from _________. Freedom has actually been a goal for these people. The irony here is that they have chosen perfectionism as a path to freedom. You cannot get to freedom by trying to be perfect. It’s like trying to hate your way to love. Or like trying to mitigate your way to success. It just can’t be done.
Where does the shame come in? Well first of all, can we all just admit there is no such thing as perfection, in the traditional sense? No one is perfect. No one can be perfect. Aiming for perfection so that you might land on something good is also a trap. In trying to be perfect we say no to a ton of opportunities because all the stars aren’t ‘aligned’ perfectly. And when we do say yes to a few opportunities we end up disappointed that things didn’t turn out ‘perfectly’. At that point we find ourselves holding a bag full of shame for how we failed in this way or that.
The real kicker is that calling yourself a perfectionist brings about a certain sense of pride because we get to project a certain persona of elitism. “I want to do things perfectly because that’s what I demand of myself. I have high standards.” But you can have high standards and not be a perfectionist. This false sense of pride allows you to be ok with never accomplishing what you want because you can always throw out your project and declare… “It just wasn’t perfect.” Being a perfectionist affords the perfect opportunity to make excuses and partner with resistance without being aware of it.
Perfection NEVER equals freedom.
But if your intention is truly to experience freedom, why not substitute the word ‘adventure’ for ‘perfection’? Adventure certainly leads to freedom. Adventure allows you to take calculated risks. And while these risks are loaded with the potential to make mistakes or even fail, it’s totally acceptable because some of our most adventurous moments come from failures. Not the kind that end our lives, but the kind of failures that allow us to learn incredible lessons and move beyond our comfort zones. When you aren’t afraid to make mistakes you not only find yourself ready to move forward in a project with more boldness and zeal, you will also find yourself succeeding where you thought it wasn’t previously possible.
Substituting adventure for perfection allows you to take a risk. And the only way to really succeed is to find a way to become comfortable with risk.
Substituting adventure for perfection will release you from the paralysis that comes from over-analyzing every single decision. If you’re an over-analyzer, and you find yourself in the paralysis trap often, I can almost guarantee that you consider yourself a perfectionist.
Substituting adventure for perfection will immediately help you to live into the feeling of freedom. Why? Because you will actually be free from the shame, second guessing, and potential excuses that might have previously been created.
So let me ask you. What sounds better to you? What sounds like more fun? What sounds like a healthier way to live your life? Being an adventurer, or being a perfectionist. If you still think being a perfectionist is a badge of honor, maybe you need to find a new stylist. Choose adventure. It makes for a much better story.
“What did he mean when he said ‘you look tired’? Maybe I am tired. Maybe he just meant that I’m ugly but was afraid to say that. I don’t think I’m that ugly. Maybe I should think I’m ugly. I’m better looking than he is, so why would he say that? Stop thinking this way. It will only make me feel bad. I always go there, to the negative right away. Why do I always do that? Maybe I just need to sleep more. I’ve always known that I need to sleep more. I should have made it a higher priority before now. Why don’t I go ahead and take a nap right now? I’m too busy to take a nap right now. I don’t even have time to be thinking about all of this stuff anyway.” How often have you had a conversation like this? The voice within your mind is always there isn’t it? Always having a conversation and always trying to make sense of the world around us and filter things in a way that makes us a bit more comfortable with reality.
And that voice is always speaking. It even changes sides of an argument within a few minutes. It won’t shut up. The voice just drones on and on and on. You don’t think so? Then try this exercise. Sit for 3 minutes and try to think of nothing. Within moments the voice will show up. “Why are you doing this? Why are you even reading this stuff? This is a waste of time.” Or… “This is good. This is exactly what you needed. You needed to clear your thoughts for a few moments.”
So tell me this. Which of these voices are you? Are you the voice that thinks this is a silly exercise? Or are you the voice that thinks this is just what you needed?
The answer is that you are neither. You are not the voice in your mind. You are the one who observes the voice. You are the one who, if you allow yourself, sits back and relaxes and just listens to what the voice has to say without attaching yourself emotionally to it. Michael Singer puts it this way, “Suppose you were looking at three objects – a flowerpot, a photograph, and a book – and were then asked, ‘Which of these objects is you?’ You’d say, ‘None of them! I’m the one who’s looking at what you’re putting in front of me. It doesn’t matter what you put in front of me, it’s always going to be me looking at it.’ You see, it’s an act of a subject perceiving various objects. This is also true of hearing the voice inside. It doesn’t make any difference what it’s saying, you are the one who is aware of it.”
This is essential to growth, to realize that you are not the voice of the mind, you are the one who observes and hears that voice. If you don’t understand this, you will find yourself in endless conversations in your mind with people who have upset you, over and over again. Anytime you hear that voice and it makes you feel uncomfortable, you won’t be able to rest until you spend your energy analyzing, over analyzing, and dove-tailing the conversation in your head until you’re too exhausted to go on. But it won’t end the voice. The voice always has something to say because the voice’s job is to try to make you somehow more comfortable with the world outside of you.
So what can you do? Try this. Next time something happens in your life that you didn’t expect or didn’t want and the voice begins to try to make sense of it all and begins talking incessantly, instead of engaging in the conversation in your mind, sit back and listen. That’s it. Don’t become attached emotionally to anything the voice is saying. What you will find is that eventually the voice will fade away, just by observing it. Because in observing it, you will realize that you are not the voice, you are the one listening. And the truth is, when the voice can no longer work to make you more comfortable, it will cease to speak… for the time being. At that point, you will not have spent your energy being caught in a conversation in your mind. Instead you can begin asking uninterrupted questions. “What is it that just happened (whatever caused the initial conversation to start) and why does it truly disturb me? What is it that I’m really bothered by? Is the true problem that this person is asking a favor of me? Or is it that I often don’t think I have what it takes to really help people.”
Once the voice subsides, you have the freedom to ask questions that will help you get to what is truly bothering you. And once you know what is at the heart of the matter, you can deal with it appropriately. Also, you will find that if you practice this, over time, you will become much more aware of who you are and what you truly want in life. Give it a shot? What do you have to lose other than the constant chatter of the voice in your mind?
“Insanity is often the logic of an accurate mind overtasked.” ― Oliver W. Holmes, Sr.
“The voice in her head told her not to trust him. But then, the voice in her head didn't trust anyone.” ― C.J. Daugherty
“We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature - trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence... We need silence to be able to touch souls.” ― Mother Teresa
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Yes, I do believe that one of the single most effective and powerful things we can do to participate in the Divine’s transformation of our own lives is to learn to love ourselves more. Time and time again, as I work with people, when we get to the core of the problem, be it limiting belief, addiction, etc., it is a lack of self-love. The thing that’s behind the thing that’s behind the thing is that they have placed a very low value on their life and don’t believe they deserve to be happy. It is the most messed up thing of all and most people are barely aware of it. I genuinely think people want to be happy. Yet deep down in places they haven’t explored often, they don’t believe they deserve to be happy or are worth it. It’s the most devious trick in humanity. Somewhere in our life we were told that we aren’t worth it. We either were treated that way by those who were supposed to love and protect us when we were young and vulnerable, or because of decisions we made in the past, mistakes, we buy into the lie that we don’t have value and we aren’t worth being loved. And yet we can spend our whole lives trying to prove that we are worth being loved and go to incredible lengths to try to show everyone that we are of value.
But you don’t have to prove anything. Let me say it again. You have nothing to prove. The fact that God created you is enough. That oxygen flows in and out of your lungs, bringing life to your blood cells, is enough. What if instead of constantly trying to prove ourselves to ourselves and everyone around us, we just acknowledged that because we are alive and loved by the Divine, that we are enough.
Tomorrow is the one day self-love challenge. Now if you just read that sentence and rolled your eyes a little, I understand. I used to respond in the same manner. And then I realized that being a control freak and a perfectionist, and being harder on myself than anyone else hadn’t really gotten me the things in life I want… peace, happiness, self-control, etc. Has the way you’ve been living your life taken you to the heights of your dreams? So why not take one day and commit to loving yourself? Why not take one day to be completely and utterly gracious with yourself? Why not take one day and instead of criticizing yourself for making a mistake, simply affirm that you love yourself anyways, just the way you are? Here are a few places to start...
1. Make the commitment to love yourself for 1 day: Make the commitment and choose love for yourself. Do it now. If love is the greatest gift we have to give, what could be possibly wrong with loving yourself for one day in all your thoughts and actions? Go ahead and literally write it out right now or type it in an email to yourself or send it as a text to yourself. "Tomorrow I will commit my entire day to practicing self love."
2. Affirm yourself verbally throughout the day: Think of the most loving thing you could say to yourself, and repeat regularly throughout the day. Get up and repeat it OUT LOUD to yourself first thing. Write it on a post it note and stick it on your bathroom mirror before you go to bed tonight. If you are having trouble coming up with something loving to say to yourself, try starting here.
3. Forgive yourself immediately after any intentional or unintentional mistake: So you just screwed up and maybe no one else knows it, but you do. Immediately forgive yourself. If it helps, you can allow yourself to feel your remorse and then say... "I totally and completely forgive myself for ____________________ and I release myself of all my anger and all my disappointment." Try it. Forgiveness is incredibly powerful and it is the one of the most freeing things to experience. In fact, maybe you want to start your day by forgiving yourself for everything you've done that you have yet to forgive yourself for.
4. Give yourself a gift: Choose one thing to do for yourself that you know brings you life and you know cares for your soul and heart. Maybe you love going for a run but haven't had time lately. Maybe there is a good book you just haven't allowed yourself to read lately because you haven't had time. Read it. Maybe there is a friend that always brings you life that you haven't spent time with or talk to lately. Ask them to hang out or simply call them and just talk.
Taking the one day self-love challenge is a gift that you can give to yourself with no strings attached. It's only one day. How bad could it possibly be? A better question and motivation is, how incredible might it be? What if you discover some things about yourself? Wouldn't it be worth it?
If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to email me via the website and I will be glad to get back to you before you wake up tomorrow. What do you say? ARE YOU WORTH IT?
“The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely.” - C.G. Jung
"Loving yourself…does not mean being self-absorbed or narcissistic, or disregarding others. Rather it means welcoming yourself as the most honored guest in your own heart, a guest worthy of respect, a lovable companion. "- Margo Anand
"Well-ordered self-love is right and natural." - Thomas Aquinas
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The power of an agreement is extensive. An agreement is a statement that was told to you at some point in your life, probably early on, that you eventually agreed with. It could be positive or negative. But the power lies in agreeing with the statement. For example, I have a friend who at 12 years old had her mother tell her that the shorts she was wearing didn’t agree with the size of her thighs. It went something like, “oh honey, your thighs are too big to wear shorts like that.” What a terrible thing for a mother to tell her daughter. But the long term, extensive reach of that statement happened when my friend agreed with her mom. For years she didn’t wear shorts… ever. The internal dialogue went something like this… “my thighs are big and out of proportion. I don’t look good in shorts. I shouldn’t wear shorts anymore.” And the agreement was born. And you can see how powerful it is.
This is one example of millions of agreements that are made. Some statements are subtle… “you don’t know how to tell a joke”. “You are a bad driver.” “Your arms are a little flabby”. “You’re not smart enough to be a doctor”.
And some statements are just brutal… “You’ll never amount to anything”. “You’re just like your father”. “You’re an idiot”. “Playing an instrument is for pansies”. “You’re ugly”.
These are just statements from people who have issues of their own obviously. The real power happens when we internalize the statement and turn it into an agreement. “He’s right, I am ugly”. “She’s right, I’m not really that smart”. And so we set our lives on a course in believing the lies that we are told. And it affects us every single day of our lives.
I grew up wanting to be a rock star. I would stand in front of my mirror at home as a child and sing for hours, pretending to rock a stadium full of fans. When I was in 6th grade I had a music teacher who was mean, abusive, and just plain old crochety. She told all of us over and over again that our voices were horrible, often times yelling at us for not hitting the right notes. I don’t know about everyone else, but I immediately began to believe her. I never joined chorus again and stopped singing in public for the most part. It took me years to break that agreement. I’ve been singing with a band every week for about 10 years on and off and it wasn’t until about 5 years ago that I broke that agreement.
Agreements are powerful and we all make them. The beauty of agreements though, is that they are completely subjective. You can break a negative agreement and turn it into a positive one. It’s as simple as that. Now it isn’t necessarily as easy as that. But like everything else, it starts with an intentional decision. “I’m not ugly. I am a beautiful child of God”. “I’m not just like my father. I’m my own man now”. “I’m not a silly blonde. I’m a creative, resourceful, intelligent woman”.
It’s powerful and the choice is all yours. What agreements have you made that are guiding and directing you in a negative way? What new agreements can you make that could open up new avenues of creativity and enjoyment for you? Make an intentional choice and see what happens.
Another moment just passed. Wait for it… there went another moment. It’s amazing to me how that works. What took place in that second moment was not determined by the first one. And the next moment that will come is not necessarily determined by this exact moment, unless we let it be. Bad habits and habitual destructive behavior suck on many levels. It’s not just that the bad habit or continued destructive behavior has negative effects on our bodies, minds, hearts and souls. It goes beyond that. Sometimes the worst part is how repeated destructive behaviors trigger something in us that tends to cause massive amounts of shame.
I struggle with exercising on a regular basis. I often make unhealthy choices when it comes to eating, exercise, and restful sleep. But what happens is as soon as I make an unhealthy choice, let’s say something as simple as eating a donut, I almost immediately begin to feel shame for eating that donut. But that shame doesn’t motivate me to make a healthy choice the next time. That shame makes me feel worse about myself, if I let it, and I begin to devalue myself even more. “I don’t deserve to have good health.” That’s the shame tape that plays in my mind. And if I feel like I don’t deserve to have good health because of my poor eating habits, I am even less motivated to make a beneficial decision in the future. Mostly because I now value myself less. It doesn't matter what the destructive behavior is... substance abuse, relational dysfunction, self mutilation, poor eating habits, lack of exercise, self hatred, selfish behavior, ____________. If it isn't an act of love and value for yourself and others, it is most likely a destructive act and will bring shame like an avalanche.
Shame is a disgusting and cruel enemy. Shame will never motivate you to care for yourself. Shame will cause you to hide and most of the time will drive you to embrace another self-destructive behavior.
But if I truly believe that I deserve to be healthy… if I truly care for myself and value myself, I have so much more motivation to choose caring acts for myself.
There is freedom. That freedom can often be found in some simple realizations. Here is one of those realizations and an axiom that I live by.
“No matter how many poor and self-destructive decisions I’ve made before this moment, I have the ability to make my next decision a great one.”
There it is. No matter how many times you’ve chosen poorly, your next choice can be for good. It is irrelevant if in the last moment you engaged your ‘stuff’ and embraced the destructive in shame… the next moment in time holds the opportunity for a choice that adds value to you and those around you.
It doesn’t matter if you chose poorly for 5 days or 5 years in a row. That does not determine your next choice. You determine your next choice. YOU DO. No power or entity determines that for you. With this realization you can find the freedom to choose well.
So what will you do with this next undetermined moment?