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.
Being completely present means that I have to let people experience the totality of me. It’s easier to say a half truth than it is to let people see all the way through me. What if they don’t like what they see? What if I don’t like what I think they see?
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.
Let me tell you a story about something that happens in my life. I’ll be talking with a friend and as they’re sharing their problems or life challenges with me, I immediately feel like I have to solve their issues. There’s this weight that I immediately take on as I think through their particular situation and it’s as if I feel I HAVE to come up with a solution or I’m not good at what I do. I attach too much of my worth to solving problems that aren’t meant for me to solve and often times, my friends just need someone to talk to.
Q: Brad, I just wanted to say that I loved your post today, 'a boy and a girl.' I think it's really relevant for my own struggles and anxieties. But something I've always struggled with when it comes to valuing myself and being okay with myself, is how do I do that when there is still so much room for improvement? Where's the line between complacency and that freedom with loving yourself for who you are? I’m asked some variation of this question more than any other. The question goes something like this, "But if I love and accept myself just as I am, what would motivate me to change and continue to better myself?" The answer is within the question itself: nothing will motivate us to change more than the love we have for ourselves. If we love ourselves we want the best for ourselves. We will begin to make decisions that are healthy for us because we believe we deserve to live a higher quality of life. We care more about our long-term well being than instant gratification. We don't become arrogant because we know that leads to all kinds of problems and isn’t a loving attitude towards our selves or others. Also, our desire to help others increases because we know that there is some type of peace that only comes from giving of ourselves to others. When we have abundance from God within ourselves and we care for ourselves, we actually have more to offer others.
Conversely, if we don't love ourselves, we won't be able to love others all that well. Take Jesus' famous words in Matthew 25... "love your neighbor as yourself." If you don't love yourself well, then to love your neighbor as you love yourself will result in poor and unhealthy gestures. We see this all the time in unhealthy codependent relationships.
Or, this example: how many people do you know that are just kind of mean; they don't treat people well and they consistently are selfish? If you look closely you'll see that deep down, they despise themselves. If you look often enough at these types of people, it becomes obvious who does and doesn't care for themselves all that much.
The father that beats his wife and children, that guy totally hates himself but often feels powerless over his compulsion to take it out on others, or worse, isn't even aware that he despises himself.
Or, the people who really hate gay people, the ones who spew vitriol publicly against them. It’s funny how sometimes we find out that they were having closet homosexual encounters all along. They hated something about themselves and publicly took it out on others.
But if you love yourself, I mean truly accept yourself just where you are, you feel compelled to grow.
Finally, I believe we are called to become more like the Divine... to love like the Divine loves. The next logical conclusion then is that we should also love ourselves the way God loves us. That's a love that accepts us no matter how many times we return to ______________. (whatever self destructive behavior we feel powerless to rid ourselves of).
The Divine loves us right where we are... and that often moves us so deeply that we want to respond with love and healthy choices.
In short, love for our selves rarely leaves room for complacency. Love for your self has more motivational power than shame, guilt, or despising your self. That’s why white-knuckling addiction isn’t sustainable. You have to love yourself past the point of thinking you deserve a miserable life.
Have you ever been in a conversation with someone and you knew they wanted something from you? It’s as if you could see it in their eyes when they first walked up to you, or you could hear it in their voice from the moment they said “hello”? You just knew that they were desperate for your help with something. In fact, they came across as so ‘needy’ or ‘clingy’ that it made you shiver in your skin, and you wanted to bolt as far from them as possible. If you could have, you would have found the nearest window, slid it open, and launched yourself 3 stories down into a dumpster to escape the situation. Or has the shoe ever been on the other foot?
Have you ever been involved in a project, started a business, or launched a career and you knew there was a particular person that could really help you along? They could help by either telling others about what you were doing, by investing their own time, money and resources, or by hiring you themselves.
Or how about this one?
Have you ever wanted to be in a relationship with someone so bad because you knew that they were the one for you? That if they could simply see how well the two of you fit together that they would certainly be as happy as ever. That if they would give you a chance you could show them that you’d make them the happiest person in the world?
Have you ever approached someone about something that mattered to you, only to blow it? You know the feeling, a hyper self-consciousness that highlights every wrong word and action in your own mind.
Being ‘needy’ and ‘clingy’ sucks the life out of everyone, including the person who is birthing these feelings into the world. Very few healthy people want to be around that person for too long. I’m not talking about basic human needs. We all need community. We all need a safe group of people where we can truly be ourselves, let our guard down, share our wounds and insecurities and continue on the healing process. But that’s not what I’m talking about.
I’m talking about the person that wants YOU to save them… wants YOU to make their decisions for them… wants YOU to surrender to their desires… wants YOU to do THEIR work for THEM. You have seen it. You’ve even been on the other end asking. It’s ugly. There is nothing positive about the experience. No one is empowered. Not the person who is being approached and most certainly not the person who is doing the asking.
The reason people want to get as far away from that experience as possible is because there is no LIFE in it. There is no energy around the project, the potential, or the person. It looks, acts, and smells like something that’s about to die. No one is empowered during these exchanges. And sometimes, particularly in romantic relationships, the person who is asking for you to ‘save them’ continues to persist far longer than anyone should.
But what if you came across someone who didn’t need saving? What if you met someone at a party and even though they didn’t seem to have it all figured out (the project, the career, or even themselves), they had a trust and a confidence that it was going to be alright. This person had a certain energy about them that came from a deep trust in a higher Source. They were excited about what they were working on and it was totally evident that they had been putting a ton of energy into the project or themselves. You might start asking them questions about where they find their inspiration. You might want to know the details of how things were coming along. You might find yourself highly interested, not just in their current ‘thing’, but in the actual person. That person who knows their value and has a reservoir of trust in the process is full of LIFE.
Are you hanging on to the end of your rope? Are you working on something, but all your hopes are pinned on someone else coming to the rescue? Are you desperate for a particular person’s attention and affection and nothing else will suffice? Maybe it’s time to let go of the rope and trust that the Divine cares for you and has the resources you need. And after you're caught by grace and love, you might find it easier to be gracious and loving towards yourself. You might find new reserves of energy to pour into your project or even yourself. New insights that were seemingly out of reach before, will lie in a pile at your feet.
People want to be around that person. People want to invest in that person. People want that person to invest in them. You can go from needing to be rescued to having the right people wanting your participation by trusting in the Divine and applying the supplied energy to do the work. Start by letting go of the rope… trust me, you will be caught.
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"Some of us think holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go." - Hermann Hesse
"I don't think it's necessarily healthy to go into relationships as a needy person. Better to go in with a full deck." - Anjelica Huston
"When a person goes into a relationship emotionally needy, they are not going to have discernment in choosing people." - Jennifer O'Neill
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
Every man has a little boy inside of him that desires to be seen for who he is and to hear that he is enough. Likewise, every woman has a little girl inside of her that wants to be seen for who she truly is and deemed beautiful. I believe this. No amount of success, fame, sex, makeup, plastic surgery, cocaine, alcohol, money, recognition, travel, gambling, porn, reading, or knowledge will convince you that you are enough or that you are valued or that you are loved if you don’t value and love yourself. It just won’t. As John Eldredge wrote, “It’s like asking a pearl to give you a buffalo. It’s like asking a field of wildflowers to give you a ’57 Chevy.” It’s not going to happen
You just won’t believe it and therefore it will never be enough. The man that tells you you’re beautiful over and over again won’t be enough if you don’t believe deep in your heart that you are beautiful. If the little girl within you doesn’t accept that and believe it she will come up with the most ridiculous ways in which the man in her life will have to prove it. And then when he does prove it by jumping through an assortment of hoops and running the emotional obstacle course… she’ll just come up with a new one. Because she doesn’t believe it.
In the same way, no matter what kind of success a man has in his career or how much ‘stuff’ he has, he will always want for more if the little boy inside him doesn’t believe that he has what it takes or that he is enough just the way he is. He will continually keep accumulating cars, employees, sexual encounters, etc., with an insatiable appetite because he’s always trying to prove that to himself.
But when you believe that you are enough, that you have nothing to prove to yourself, you gain a sense of freedom that is empowering. It frees you to pursue those purposes that you were created for. It’s a different kind of ‘drive’ and a different way of being. And you can always recognize the person who accepts themself with two very distinct characteristics.
First, they aren’t always trying to win an argument. They don’t care so much about arguments because they are content with the truth that they’ve realized. They aren’t compelled to win because they are right. They are more interested in connecting with other human beings on a deep level and they are all about doing the work they’ve been called to do. Creating is extremely important to them and they’d rather do that than argue with someone. Secondly, their work produces value that benefits others. It doesn’t matter if their work is creating music, repairing cars, or styling hair. It’s done in such a fashion and with such passion that other’s lives are made better because of it.
If you don’t believe that you’re worth being ‘seen’, no amount of overtures will convince you otherwise.. People will break themselves against you trying to convince you that you are loved for who you are. If you don’t believe that you are enough, that you have what it takes, nothing you do or accumulate will prove it to you. You will always feel a sense of emptiness that you seemingly just can’t put your finger on.
Do you have that haunting emptiness? Have your choices repeatedly left you wondering why you do what you do, compulsively at times? Consider that a shift may need to occur where you begin accepting and loving yourself just the way you were created. Give that little girl or boy the greatest gift you possibly could… a little bit of grace.
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"To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance." - Oscar Wilde
"When a woman becomes her own best friend life is easier." - Diane Von Furstenberg
"And above all things, never think that you're not good enough yourself. A man should never think that. My belief is that in life people will take you at your own reckoning." - Isaac Asimov
"It's not vanity to feel you have a right to be beautiful. Women are taught to feel we're not good enough, that we must live up to someone else's standards. But my aim is to cherish myself as I am." - Elle Macpherson
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.