The four years before I launched my business, I created a plan that would get it all rolling within three months. I also had a plan that would take me through the following nine months and generate enough income that would sustain my business. I even had investors lined up to help with that initial launch. I would dream about what it would be like to do the things I loved the most while having the freedom to create my own schedule and generate an income that could support me and my family. I created this plan within a matter of one month. I then spent the next four years coming up with any excuse to NOT launch that plan. I was terrified.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. For years you’ve known that there are some specific changes that you’ve wanted to make. You told yourself repeatedly that you were definitely going to take action once the new year rolled around. For good reason. There is something undeniably powerful about new starts. That’s why every morning
Imagine that you are sailing around the world and you have $1,000,000 worth of gold coins with you. Imagine what you might do with that amount of money while you’re sailing. Would you pay off debt as well as fund your entire trip. Would these gold coins allow you to take the year off to continue to sail around the world, enjoying each moment for the next year? As the captain, you’re responsible for guiding the ship and giving directives to your crew and passengers. Now imagine that one of your crew has discovered a tiny hole in the side of the boat. During a rough patch of waters, half of your gold coins have spilled out the side of the boat. Now that might be considered a huge ‘spill’ in your journey. What would you do? Since half of the money is lost, would you count it a total loss and just pour the other $500,000 dollars worth of gold over the side? Or would you close up that hole and use the rest of the money as wisely as possible?
I remember the day my first dog died. Her name was ‘Lady’, of course. She had wandered onto our property when I was about one year old and despite our efforts to find her owner, no one ever claimed her. I can’t recall my childhood without including her because she was with me for the first 14 years of my life. On that day when we finally put her to sleep, I remember shutting down in an effort to avoid the pain.
My most memorable wrestling match in high school was against the toughest kid I had ever met. This guy had muscles growing on top of his muscles. Before the match, he was across the gymnasium, mouthing curse words that I hadn’t even heard before. I was intimidated. But something in me snapped in that moment and I realized that there was every possibility in the world that my best was good enough.
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.
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
Sometimes people say that “youth is wasted on the young.” I don’t know that I agree with that, but I can tell you that youth is wasted on the drugged-up young: I was one of them. I lived a very different life when I was in my mid twenties. I blinded my heart and dulled my emotions with substance abuse on a daily basis. Getting high wasn’t about the high. The only place I sought to find my value and worth was with validation from women. Cocaine gave me the energy I needed to be at the party, no matter how long the party lasted. I believed that if somebody wanted to be with me, even if for only a night, it was better than not being wanted at all. And if I could say "at least she wants to be with me right now" (whoever she was that I ended up with that night)... well that meant something. A lot of people don’t realize how much money you can make dealing drugs. Managing that money well, however, is a completely different story. I did work in several bars, which enabled me to sell more drugs and hang out with my friends at the same time.
Believe it or not, I was working on my Masters of Divinity at the time. I was the rare combination… Drug Dealer and Seminary Student. You don’t see a lot of people selling coke and working on a Masters of Divinity together, and for good reason. It doesn’t work. Even as I studied scripture and theology, I lied, cheated and stole. This powerful hypocrisy lead me to hurt the people I cared about most in my life.
I was completely disconnected from my God, I had no sense of worth or value, and I was as lost in depression as I could ever possibly be. And the shame that came along with knowing that I was where I was in life because of the choices I made was like walking around with the rotting carcass of a two ton elephant strapped to my back.
Interestingly enough, this behavior is not uncommon. It’s almost cliché, except for the fact that it was my life and for the most part, I felt like I could not escape. I don't tell you this to glamorize my life story, far from it. I believed I was a loser, that I deserved that life, and that I would be dead by thirty. One afternoon while I was taking a shower I collapsed to the bottom of my bathtub, weeping and crying out to my God for help. When I emerged from the water and steam filled bathroom, I was determined to come up with a plan and execute it at any cost. Four months later I sold everything, except what I could fit into my Toyota Camry, and drove across the country to crash at my parents house for about a year.
What I wasn’t aware of at the time was that I had the choice to change my life, every moment of every day. Even though I was in a living hell, the fear of change was more powerful than the pain that I had created… until it wasn’t. However, even after months of the brilliant clarity that came with sobriety, there were days that I wanted to return to that lifestyle because it was comfortable. I may have been messed up and completely self-destructive, but at least I knew how to handle life in that mode. As a sober person, everything was new and brought with it a sense of intense fear. The simplest of tasks, like scheduling appointments on a calendar seemed like it took the energy of escaping the Earth’s gravitational pull.
Every day was a choice. Connect with my God, get centered, and choose a new way, or return to where I had come from. Sixteen years later and I don’t know how to express in writing how rewarding it is to have stayed the course. The only thing that comes to mind is to say the names of my two little girls and maybe you might be able to recognize what is wrapped up in this imagery. Life.
Today I value myself; connect with the Divine hourly; have deep and meaningful relationships with the most rewarding friends a guy could have; and know my purpose, as my life and income are wed to helping others make their own changes, discover work that matters and learn to love themselves. I still make mistakes, but I’ve learned how to process through them in a healthy manner. Living an extraordinary life isn’t a one time decision. It’s a choice that’s made every single morning followed by action steps that back up that choice like powerful punches landing on the jaw of ‘the comfortable’.
Maybe you want someone else to make you feel better about yourself. Maybe you are at the end of your rope and feel like you don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell. You do. Today you have the most power you will ever have… the power of a choice. Maybe you begin exercising the power of that choice with a simple prayer asking for help.
It could be that you’ve never been to those depths, but at some point you decided that you wanted a better life for yourself, one with purpose and meaning that energizes and compels you. Now you’re wondering why things haven’t changed yet. Is it possible that you’ve forgotten that living a meaningful life is a choice one must make everyday? It doesn’t take a new year to make changes, just a choice.
When you woke up this morning, what did you choose? If it wasn’t clear, concise, and followed by actions, chances are high that it wasn’t an empowering choice. Here’s another cliché for you… thinking you’re not making a choice is most certainly a choice.
If you are interested in subscribing to the mailing list and receiving these via email, simply click under ‘subscribe to the mailing list’. _______________________________________________________________________________________ "The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time." - Abraham Lincoln
"This is as true in everyday life as it is in battle: we are given one life and the decision is ours whether to wait for circumstances to make up our mind, or whether to act, and in acting, to live." - Omar Bradley
"Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom." - Viktor Frankl
Special thanks to Mike McHargue for an open conversation and help in refining this piece
2 years ago I made a conscious decision to love myself more and seek active ways to grow my love for myself. Since then, everything has changed in the most dramatic ways. I've dealt with some of my greatest heartache and I've experienced some of my greatest joy. I've left my job, my spouse left me, I've made some remarkable friendships, and I began writing and mentoring professionally. I'll definitely share in greater detail about that process in the very near future. I believe the more transparent I am with you, the more powerful your story will become for you and the more inspired you'll be. But today I want to share a very practical way for you to put some action behind any desire you might have to love yourself more. Stop what you're doing and try this out. It won't take long, but it's going to be worth it as a practical way to shift your emotional energy and express to yourself that you love yourself. I learned it from Gala Darling. Sit down for 10 minutes and write down every compliment that you've ever received. List them all out. Now you may think that this will be difficult, but it won't. When you start, close your eyes, take 2 of the deepest breathes you've ever taken, holding them for 5 seconds at the end of your inhale. Picture yourself sitting in the field of your choice. You determine the flowers, the height of the grass or wheat or whatever grows in your field. The sky is the perfect amount of blue. Relax... and the memories of the compliments will come to you. Set your timer for 10 minutes and begin writing down all the compliments you've ever received. You don't have to have even believed the person telling you the compliment at the time. But write it down anyway. When the timer goes off, you're done.
Now, look back over that list and allow those compliments to sink in. Throughout your day, look back at that list of compliments. Allow them to hit you with a bit of force. Often times we don't trust ourselves or what we think. But if you're looking at a list that was literally created by other people, you may find your emotional energy towards yourself shifting due to the perceptions of other people. This exercise is not about pumping yourself up or about inflating your ego. It's about learning how to take a compliment and how to accept it without a fight. So there is only 1 rule when you look at this list. You aren't allowed to argue with your list. As soon as you hear the voice that says, "that's not true about you" or "you don't deserve that compliment", you have to picture that voice being a tiny paper boat floating down a stream and away from you, out of sight. And then, continue on with the list. It's that simple.
Stop reading this right now and try it. Remember to read this list a couple more times today. I hope it opens up a path for a little more love for yourself to grow.
"Who looks outside, dreams, who looks inside, awakes." ~Carl Gustav Jung
"You are very powerful, provided you know how powerful you are." ~Yogi Bhajan
"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us. " ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
“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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I subscribe to very few email lists. Sure I get my Groupon on… who doesn’t love a deal? But for the most part, I only receive regular emails from 4 groups. Mostly it’s because I believe these 4 people have some incredible content and I don’t want to miss it. One of them in particular I receive every single day. I look forward to the wisdom and insight that’s packed into this one particular daily newsletter. It’s powerful. A few weeks ago I realized that it had been over a week since I had received an email from my friend and mentor. I was used to getting them daily and thought that he must have been out of town, or super busy. In fact, as I thought about it, I couldn’t remember a single day where he hadn’t sent his encouraging note. It was not just something he took pride in; it was his work to make sure he connects with his hundreds of thousands of peeps every day. So I went to his website to see if he had indeed been posting his regular thoughts. Sure enough, there were some incredible insights posted for each day that I had not received an email. Then it hit me. Like a left hook that I never see coming. I must have done something to make him mad or disappoint him and so he took me off his newsletter email list. When I felt that knuckle sandwich it totally through me for a loop. The skin on it’s knuckles was coarse and pulled taut over those jagged bones, and made quite a connection with my jawbone. After the punch had landed it left the taste of sulfur in my nostrils and palate. A putrid punch that cold-cocked me. I frantically began to wonder what I had done that disappointed him so much that he no longer wanted me to be on his mailing list. I immediately created at least 5 different stories in my internal narrative of how I must have done something wrong to offend him.
Ridiculous isn’t it? That’s the first place I went and I sat with it for a while? Here is a guy who has thousands of people on his newsletter list. And yet somehow I thought he would single me out and remove me. And this is someone I’ve spent hours upon hours connecting with on a personal level, who has done more for me as a writer and mentor by lovingly pushing me and encouraging me than any other single person. On top of that, it usually takes an act of congress to be removed from a newsletter.
It’s crazy isn’t it? No matter how far down the path of self-acceptance and love that we travel, we can still be blindsided by the most ridiculous thoughts. And that’s OK. It is completely acceptable to be struck out of the blue by absurd negative thoughts. We constantly have them running through our minds, ponging back and forth, even taking both sides of an argument! It’s ok to allow these thoughts to come and go. It’s when we grab on to one of them and take it for a prolonged spin on the dance floor that we end up being sidetracked from the good stuff in life.
I couldn’t shake the possibility that I had somehow done something to make my friend mad at me. I tried several practices that normally shake me loose of random thoughts of destructiveness, but to no avail. So I went in for the kill. I reached out and asked him if there was a reason I hadn’t been receiving his daily emails. Within seconds I received a quick reply that let me know that indeed they had been sent from the company he used to send his newsletters, along with links to show they had been sent, and a few suggestions as to possible problems with my IP server. To boot, there was a nice personal note of encouragement as well.
The music stopped and my dance with inferiority and the absurd ended. No sooner had those feelings dissipated than another immediately tried to take its place. Shame. “How could you allow this to happen? I thought you were past these farcical feelings and thoughts of inferiority and insecurity. How could you let this happen?”
This time, I immediately declined the request to hit the dance floor with shame. I walked away.
Have you found yourself listening to the plethora of voices that are trying to hijack your internal narrative, the story of your life? Is there a way you can go for the jugular and step off the dance floor? Is there a TRUSTED friend or mentor you can call and say, “I have this thought that won’t let go, can you tell me if this is true?” Go for it. Now. Don’t spend another moment dancing with the partner you have a hard time saying no to… especially when there are so many lovely partners that are just waiting for you to ask, “Can I have this next dance?”
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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I have a friend who writes, directs, and occasionally acts in his own movies. He comes up with the concepts and the storylines, writes out the script, and then proceeds to bring it to life. He talks Award-winning actors Into being in his films. He secures the locations to film these movies, the funding, and then he gets them distributed. These films win awards and he is now highly sought after to direct major film projects. I often used to tell myself that I could never do that and was totally amazed by his ability to succeed at what he wanted to do. I wished that I was born like he was, because he obviously had something that I didn't. I have a friend who writes beautiful music and Tours with possibly the most famous American rock band ever. He is a phenomenal musician and is excellent at what he does. He is highly sought after to perform as a solo act now. I used to tell myself that I could never do that. I used to wish that I was born with whatever it was that he had that enabled him to accomplish so much in the area of life that he loved, music.
I have a friend who is writing a book at the urging of some famous authors. Every time he speaks people gather around him to hear his insight. Strangers from all over the world write to him and ask him for his thoughts and let him know how much he has impacted their lives with his blog. I used to think that I could never do that. I used to wish that I was born with whatever it was that he had so that I could impact the world like he does
And then I discovered the difference between my three friends and myself. They don't wish for anything. They pursue that which they love and are constantly aligning their passion with their work. Nothing is impossible when we choose to no longer limit ourselves with our limiting belief systems and align our passions with our work.
How does my friend succeed in the film industry? He wants to and believes that he can. I came across a quote awhile back that when I read it, awoke something within me. It sounded preposterous to me when I first read it and I balked at the audacity that someone had to put that out in the world. And yet I wrote it down immediately, knowing that something within that quote resonated with something within my soul. I’ve searched and searched but cannot find the originator of this quote.
“You have within you, right now, everything you could ever need or want to be a great success in every area of your life. You have within you, right now, deep reserves of potential and ability that, properly harnessed and channeled, will enable you to accomplish extraordinary things with your life. The only real limits on what you can be, have, or do are self-imposed. They do not exist outside of you. Once you make a clear, unequivocal decision to cast off all your mental limitations and throw yourself whole-heartedly into the accomplishment of a great goal, your ultimate success is virtually guaranteed… as long as you don’t stop.”
What is the monologue in your head these days? What is it that you have convinced yourself you cannot do? Do you know how to change that track in your head? Are you willing to dare to be more?
Take a moment to list 3 self-imposed limits that you have placed on yourself. Now challenge them with the audacity to believe they are lies. Now pick one of them and make a decision to let this next thought sit with you for the day… “I can _________________.” You fill in the blank. Do it now.
If you are still having difficulty with this idea, contact me. I'm glad to help. Seriously.
“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” - Jesus Christ
"To grow, you must be willing to let your present and your future be totally unlike your past. Your history is not your destiny." - Alan Cohen
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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I speak in public all the time. It’s the nature of almost every job I’ve had as an adult. I’ve spoken all around the world to all sizes and types of groups. It really does come naturally to me and its one of the few things that I know I do well. I’ve spoken at sales conventions, camps, churches, masques, music festivals, art festivals, retreats, conventions, etc. I absolutely love it. I am not an accomplished artist, lyricist, musician, athlete, or sales person. But put me in front of a crowd with a purpose and a vision to share, and I will go to town. One of the things that I’ve realized about myself because of this is that my views and thoughts are constantly being formed. If I spoke on a topic tomorrow, that I know I spoke about 2 years ago, those two speeches might be completely different. In fact, I may even contradict tomorrow, something I said 2 years ago. That’s because I grow and change. We all grow and change. It isn’t just me. That’s the nature of being human. If we are constantly learning, reading and experiencing, then what we believed and lived yesterday won’t necessarily be the same as tomorrow’s beliefs and experiences.
Some core matters and beliefs may stay the same. And some core matters and beliefs very well may be transformed. You can see this growth and transformation in almost every author, songwriter, actor, businessperson, artist, etc. Even in the scriptures you can look at the apostle Paul’s early writings and see how his thoughts and beliefs have changed and expanded compared to his later writings.
This kind of change can really freak people out. They begin to wonder if the life they lived yesterday is somehow less valuable because they lived by a different standard or a different set of values and beliefs than they do now. They may have enormous inner turmoil because they no longer have the same paradigms that they learned growing up. This can also lead to a crisis in which they believe that there is something wrong with them because they have changed over the years. This kind of subtle inner struggle can wreak havoc on someone’s life in subversive ways.
But if you simply acknowledge that we all change and we all grow, and that change and growth is a good thing, then there is peace to be had. You can begin to affirm and ‘own’ your growth and transformation. It may feel like your in new waters and that can be extremely frightening. That’s because as we grow, we are always taking risks. When you learn something new, occasionally you can feel like it changes everything. And when you’re comfortable with the way things were, it is scary to face the world with new eyes. But with new eyes comes fresh perspective.
So let yourself be you. Welcome the change and welcome the growth. Stop the inner turmoil that comes with thinking that you always have to stay the same and always believe the same things. It’s just not how growth and health works.
What are some things that have changed for you? What beliefs did you once hold so dearly that now you realize you need to release and let go so that you can live into what you truly believe?
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” ― Anais Nin
"Ever since I was a child I have had this instinctive urge for expansion and growth. To me, the function and duty of a quality human being is the sincere and honest development of one's potential." ― Bruce Lee
“Often, it’s not about becoming a new person, but becoming the person you were meant to be, and already are, but don’t know how to be.” ― Heath L Buckmaster
Recently I was helping a client work through some limiting beliefs and behavior. He did not realize that his beliefs were limiting him, but it couldn’t be more obvious to the intentional observer. He was explaining to me about a woman whom he is friends with but he wanted more from the relationship. His world revolved around her acceptance and response to him. His days become judged by whether or not she paid the kind of attention to him that he desired. He had confessed his love to her several times over. Every time he did, she would respond by telling him that while she appreciates his friendship, she didn’t have those same feelings of romantic love towards him. Time and time again he would try to win her over and time and time again she would turn him down. According to him, she couldn’t be clearer about not wanting a deeper romantic relationship. She was not leading him on.
And yet one of the reasons he came to me was to ask me to help him figure out a way to win her over. Interestingly enough, that’s not what I do. I help people recognize their own limiting beliefs and behavior patterns, and help them break those limits and choose healthier and more loving beliefs and behaviors. Anyway, he wanted to be with her more than anything and this pointed to one of his biggest limiting beliefs… “My value comes from other people’s acceptance and love.” So I asked him, “why would you want to be with someone who doesn’t want to be with you?” Without a thought he responded immediately, “because I love her.” So I asked him again, “but why would you want to be with someone who doesn’t want to be with you? And this time, for the sake of argument, you can’t respond that you love her.” Silence. Through a couple simple exercises we quickly got to the core problem. He had determined that he was not going to be valued unless a woman that he desired ascribed a value to him. It was that simple.
This brings us to one simple truth. Our value and worth is not based on who loves us and cares for us. It is not based on how many people love us or care for us. Our value is based on the Divine’s love for us, and subsequently, our love for ourselves. Stop. Go back and read those italics sentences one more time. We cannot find our value in the love we receive from other people. Because our value does not lie in other people. It lies in the Divine and the Divine within ourselves. And once we realize this, and choose to believe it at the core of who we are, we are free to actually love others without stings attached.
Now don’t hear what I’m not saying. I’m not saying that community isn’t valuable and necessary. I’m not saying we weren’t made to love and be loved. What I’m saying is that no person can ever give us our worth, identity, and purpose. So I’ll ask you. Why would you want to be with someone who doesn’t want to be with you? It’s one thing to share love with someone in service who may or may not want that love. But there are a whole new set of strings attached when we tie our worth and value to receiving love back from them. My friend has come to realize this. I would venture to say that he already realized this but never put it to words. His road forward is not impossible, but it will take some time to break those limiting beliefs and affirm truth. But it can be done. I know. I’ve done it.
Where does your value and worth come from? How many people respond to your status update? How many people read your blog? The amount of numbers attached to your paycheck? How your kids respond to you? We both realize that I could go on and on with these questions, but I won’t. I’ll end by asking this. Does your value come from the love of the Divine and your love for yourself? If not, email me. I’d love to help.
________________________________________________________________________________________ “There's nothing like rejection to make you do an inventory of yourself” ~James Lee Burke
“Rejection, though--it could make the loss of someone you weren't even that crazy about feel gut wrenching and world ending.” ~Deb Caletti
"I really wish I was less of a thinking man and more of a fool not afraid of rejection.” ~ Billy Joel
The health of your habits will be in direct proportion to the amount with which you love and value yourself. What? Ok, let me put it this way. The more you love and value yourself, the healthier your habits will be. This seems like a simple concept right? A no brainer. The more I care about myself, the more I will want to actively care for myself. And yet how many of us have habits that we know aren’t healthy and wish we could change, but we feel powerless to do so? This is true at every level. Some of us have paralyzing addictions that keep us from having any sense of clarity and tend to compound poor choices upon more poor choices. We don’t love or value ourselves much, so we don’t put an end to the self-destructive behaviors that we engage. These behaviors are what we are comfortable with and we aren’t sure how to cope in any other fashion. Breaking the gravitational pull of these habits can only be done when we determine that we are more valuable than we previously thought.
And then there are other, more subversive unhealthy habits that we may have formed. Co-dependence, emotional soothing eating patterns, working all the time, searching for validation through social media, and lack of exercising, to name a few. What are some of the habits that you wish you could change? That you feel you really want to change, but haven’t succeeded yet.
I used to think that it was a matter of just really wanting the new habit or really wanting to get rid of the old habit. But habits are simply a by-product of how we view ourselves. You can’t ‘make’ yourself ‘want’ something more than you do. But you can choose to love and value yourself. The more you love and value yourself, the more your ‘want’ for caring for yourself will grow. Love for yourself will break the gravitational pull of any unhealthy habit and will automatically replace the poor habits with healthy ones.
In the past I’ve tried to shame or fear myself into changing the way I lived my life. I need to exercise more. I need to stop smoking. I need to eat better. I need to get more sleep… and so on and so forth. I would literally try to do mental gymnastics to convince myself and attempt to motivate myself to make changes. But the reality is, I was only going to make the changes that I felt I deserved. I was only going to live the life that I valued.
The real kicker is that loving and valuing ourselves is a choice. We can decide to love ourselves. We can determine that we are worth it. It isn’t a matter of convincing ourselves as much as it is a matter of believing the truth that we have value. That we are worth being loved. Making a choice is a powerful thing. To agree on a daily basis that you are worth it, that you do love yourself, will have ramifications that will reach your children's children. And then actually making choices to actively love yourself and value yourself. Instead of playing mental gymnastics, you can put your energy towards making decisions to care for yourself.
Not long ago, these concepts were completely foreign to me and seemed too ‘self-helpy’ or too ‘Stuart Smiley-ish’. But with some age, and a little bit of maturity, I began to realize that there is nothing as valuable as caring for, loving, and valuing myself. In loving myself I’m becoming a better person. In becoming a better person, I make everyone’s life around me better. I'm absolutely still learning how to value myself and love myself. But I'm finding the more I do, the better my choices and habits become.
So how about it? Are you stuck in some unhealthy patterns? Do you beat yourself up for not being the kind of person you ‘want’ to be or think you should be? Why not simply make the decision to determine that you are valuable and choose to love yourself? I dare you to say it out loud with conviction. No seriously, I double dog dare you.
“The only person who can pull me down is myself, and I'm not going to let myself pull me down anymore.” ~C. Joybell C.
“You leave old habits behind by starting out with the thought, 'I release the need for this in my life'." ~Dr. Wayne Dyer
"I think the most important thing in life is self-love, because if you don't have self-love, and respect for everything about your own body, your own soul, your own capsule, then how can you have an authentic relationship with anyone else?" ~Shailene Woodley
You have to be the one who believes in you the most. That may not be where you are today. And if it isn't, don’t beat yourself up. That’s not how you get to where you want to go. If that’s what you do you only end up beaten, bruised, bloody and scarred by yourself, lying on the side of the road that you were so sure you wanted to travel on. However, if you don’t believe in yourself, why should anyone else? Do you wrestle with wondering if you’re worth it? Do you value yourself? Do you know how to actively love yourself? Stop right now and write down 10 ways you could actively value and love yourself this week. Starting with 1 way in the next 10 minutes. Maybe the first one is as simple as getting a cup of coffee and taking 5 minutes to be grateful today. That’s a very loving action towards yourself. Maybe one of them is as complex as learning to let go of the disappointment you have with yourself over previous failures.
But if you’re going to live a full and meaningful life, you are going to have to believe in yourself more than anyone you know. Believing in your self will add a multitude of self-support, confidence, direction, peace of mind, and faith. That’s right, faith. Believing in ourselves, loving ourselves and valuing ourselves will do more to strengthen our faith than just about anything else.
You deserve to be loved. You deserve to belong. You deserve to invest in your self so that you can grow in the ways you need to so that you may turn around and help the people next to you.
But if you don’t believe in yourself, then you will have a difficult time TRULY believing in others. If you don’t believe in yourself then you will never finish what you start. You won’t pursue your dreams. You won’t live the life you were truly meant to live. And you can live the life you were truly meant to live.
You aren’t an accident. You are on purpose. And you have a purpose.
So stop looking around, hoping you’ll find someone who will believe in you. You start believing in you. It can be as simple as making the choice… “I will believe in myself, somehow, some way.” It also can be as simple as a prayer… “Please help me to believe in myself more.” Intentional choices and intentional prayers. Now that’s a great way forward in life.
Is there something new that you've been wanting to start? Have you been dabbling in a new hobby or contemplating a new career? Have you wanted to begin to relate to others or yourself in new ways? Do you feel like your faking it most of the time, just waiting for someone to discover you're a fraud? Stop dabbling and start believing in yourself. Determine that you are going to make it.
Have you made your list yet of how you can love yourself this week? If you breezed by that, stop… DO IT NOW. Then, make that choice and say that prayer.
Now, move forward, beginning to believe in yourself more and actively pursuing those things on your list.
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?
Last Thursday was part 1 of following your intuition, today is part 2. Just because someone agrees with my opinions and thoughts does not mean that I am anymore connected to them, to humanity, or to the Source. Just because someone lets me know that they think I’m ‘right’ does not mean that they have shared love with me, or I with them. It also doesn’t mean that I’m right, by the way.
And the opposite is true. Just because someone disagrees with me does not mean that they hate me or that we are anymore disconnected then we were a moment before. It also doesn’t mean that I’m wrong in my opinion or thought process. Just because someone thinks I’m wrong doesn’t mean that we cannot love each other and be connected on a deep level.
Abraham Maslow said “be independent of the good opinion of others.” Dr. Wayne Dyer drives this point home by saying that “you can’t get anywhere by simply doing what other people say or listening blindly to what your tribe tells you to do.”
I’ll go a step further and say that you have to own who you are, what you believe, and what you want for yourself.
Trying to please everybody means pleasing no one, especially yourself. In fact if you were trying to please everybody around you one thing I will guarantee is that you will never ever, ever, ever be happy (3 evers, that’s making a point).
I'll also guarantee you that you'll never truly know who you are what your purpose is. If you are always trying to please others you will never know where you belong. Because if you spend all of your time trying to make other people like you, trying to make other people happy or trying not to disappoint anyone, you will have spent no time figuring out what you like, what you want to do, and who you want to be. It's not sustainable.
In an effort to please everyone you will add no value to this world. But if you take the time and you do the work to figure out who you are, what you want and what your purpose is, then you can add extreme value to this world.
You don’t have to please people to truly love them. You don’t have to make people happy in order to act out of love towards them. You don’t have to have people like you in order to add value to their lives. But if love is the aim then you will have done your part to connect them and you to humanity. Now that is adding value.
How can you love those who disagree with you? Maybe its by engaging them, or maybe its by completely ignoring the way they so negatively announce that they disagree with you. How can you love those with whom you can seemingly do no wrong? How can actively love the people around you and free yourself from the chains of approval or disapproval?