So there’s this thing that happens when we experience something painful, like a tragedy, a broken heart or disappointment. We’re only human, so it’s natural to experience the pain. It’s healthy to allow ourselves to experience the fullness of that pain so that we aren’t hiding from it or stuffing it down. But sometimes we get in a rut and we tell the same story over and over and over again. There is a certain amount of significance we can get from telling a particular story, even if it isn’t an empowering one.
The best mentor I’ve ever had recently shared some basic truth. “Knowledge without Action = Nothing”. That about says it all in terms of personal and spiritual growth. It sums it up in terms of success and relationships too. I can’t emphasize enough, the importance of action and movement in our lives. So often we attend a seminar, read a book, watch an inspiring video or listen to a podcast and are inspired to make changes. But then most of the time we fail to act.
I think that because we feel so inspired at times we feel like we have to make massive change immediately. But the desire to make massive change can often become the very paralyzing factor keeping us in the same place. We feel like we need to meditate and plan and motivate ourselves for this massive effort that we want to enact. But this sense of being overwhelmed can keep us paralyzed and unable to move at all.
So here’s my advice…
Do something! Do anything! Make motion in your life! Move! Take the tiniest step in the direction you desire to head! There is a difference between knowledge and application. Knowledge is having information… application is taking knowledge and information and using it to better and deepen your life. Knowledge is about sitting, application happens only when we are in motion.
The first thing I do when I get out of bed each morning is make my bed. Now, you may be thinking ‘whoopty doo Bradley’. Well thank you, because it actually is a big ‘whoopty doo’. It’s not that my mom or anyone else for that matter is going to be pleased because I’ve made my bed. But I’ve started my day with action. I’ve proved that I have already made a choice within moments of starting my day that I am in motion. Not to mention, that when I do the simplest thing in the world, making my bed, my most intimate living space has a sense of order and progress. Also, when my bed’s made, my room feels like it’s halfway cleaned. This also helps me create momentum that carries over into every other area of my life.
It’s a feeling. Feelings are powerful. Feelings are experienced not only in our hearts and heads, but in our bodies as well. This isn’t a hunch on my part; it’s a scientific fact. Now I know that my bed physically only takes up 15% of my bedroom. But emotionally it feels like I’m halfway there to keeping my room clean and in order. And if my room is in order I have another feeling. Freedom. Freedom to create and freedom to dream. I have a difficult time dreaming about my life and how I want to live into my purpose and a hard time in the creative process if my room is a mess. Do you see how powerful one small action can be for my personal relationships, business, creative world and much more?
What is something that you’ve recently learned but have yet to apply to your life? What are some tiny but significant ways in which you can put that knowledge into action? What’s one small thing you can do as soon as you’re done reading this that will create momentum in your life?
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"Do you want to know who you are? Don't ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you." - Thomas Jefferson
"Action speaks louder than words but not nearly as often." - Mark Twain
"If you have the guts to keep making mistakes, your wisdom and intelligence leap forward with huge momentum." - Holly Near
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.
“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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11 days ago I issued the ‘One Day Self-Love Challenge’. I’ve never gotten so much feedback and so many responses as I have on that one day. I’m still getting emails from people telling me about their experience on that day and the subsequent days since. One of the things I knew would arise for most participants was emotional roadblocks. It happens every time we set our mind on change in our lives. All kinds of feelings of unworthiness and shame arise almost immediately after deciding to value and love ourselves. Steven Pressfield calls this ‘resistance’. One reader wrote, “It’s just so ironic how I’m supposed to be loving myself during a time when I feel so completely irrelevant”. But it’s precisely the recognition of these negative feelings that confirm that we are in fact on the right path. Resistance almost always shows up when we begin to make a change that might lead us from the comfortable into something that is new and healthy. And trust me, making major changes to the core of your belief system about yourself WILL be uncomfortable. The more you can be ok with the uncomfortable, the better quality of life you will have. Mastin Kipp says it this way… “The more you can learn to live with necessary risk, the higher quality of life you will have.”
Now, let’s get right to some grounded action steps that can really pack a punch. Self-loving mental and verbal affirmations and attitudes are necessary on your journey. But loving yourself through actions puts greater power behind your transformation. Using affirmations helps to change your belief system and can be a shock to your long held current paradigms. But self-loving actions actively tear down your old limiting belief system while simultaneously reinforcing your new beliefs.
What are self-loving actions? Anything you do that effectively cares for yourself. Going for a run. Eating a healthy meal. Not smoking. Walking away from self-destructive relationships. Engaging those people that always seem to lift you up. Writing. Painting. Reading. Anything that is good for you.
When your actions show you that you love yourself, it is one of the most powerful affirmations. It cannot be argued against. And you feel this. For many people it is extremely difficult to change their thought patterns because they run into their old beliefs like a brick wall built to keep them a prisoner. But actions bypass the thought patterns all together and can be like a wrecking ball to limiting-beliefs.
In the next 3 minutes, determine exactly what loving action you are going to do for yourself. DO NOT put this off. Decide right now and commit to it. One action of self-love today. Do it for the love of yourself. One final thought. Don’t let this exercise become a list of things you ‘should be’ doing or ‘shouldn’t be’ doing. That’s like waiving a white flag of surrender to shame. As soon as you begin to think about all the ‘shoulds’, simply let those thoughts flow on by like a toy boat on a mighty river.
"Do you want to know who you are? Don't ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you." - Thomas Jefferson
"Action speaks louder than words but not nearly as often." - Mark Twain
"There are risks and costs to action. But they are far less than the long range risks of comfortable inaction." - John F. Kennedy
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Recently I wrote about Power and Motivation for Change. I’ve worked with and currently work with plenty of clients who have made major changes in their lives because of a new romance, new child, or new career. It’s amazing to see someone turn their life around and deal with their limiting beliefs, addictions, and co-dependency because they want to be a better person for their family, community, or career. It’s such a privilege to play a small role in transformation of people. One particular man I worked with left his addiction to substance abuse and pornography because of the birth of his beautiful daughter. But what he, like all of us, found out quickly was that changing for other people, even little loved ones that we helped create, cannot sustain lasting change.
Loving someone else so much that we make changes for the better can be a powerful initial motivation for transformation. It’s like a rocket launch. It takes so much initial power and fuel to lift that rocket off the ground that we can and should use every possible motivation initially. And once that rocket hits the edge of the stratosphere and beyond, it takes less and less energy to keep that rocket off the ground. Eventually, momentum continues to carry that rocket as long as it stays the course and doesn’t get pulled into the gravitational field of any planets or objects in space. However, the space between the ground and the outer atmosphere requires an extreme amount of power and fuel.
So it is with major life changes and changing of your habits, thought patterns, and belief systems. Making changes for others is absolutely great fuel in the short term. But in the long term, we must make these changes and stick to them for the love of ourselves. If we aren’t making these changes because of the love we have for ourselves, then they won’t be long term differences. Eventually our true belief systems will take over and ground most of the changes made, if not all. If you really don’t think that you’re worth caring for yourself and if you don’t value yourself enough, you will stop your new behavior patterns and return to your old ones. Because changing our habits is difficult. It does require a large amount of energy. And our life can be a long haul.
So what do you think about yourself? Are you worth the changes you’re making or want to make? Could you let yourself believe for even a moment that you are worth it? Can you LEARN to love yourself more?
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.