“How do we nurture the soul? By revering our own life. By learning to love it all, not only the joys and the victories, but also the pain and the struggles.” —Nathaniel Branden
In order for us to fully enjoy life, all aspects of life must be in balance. Mind, body and spirit have to be in harmony with each other. Focusing on only the material and neglecting the spiritual leaves people feeling empty and dissatisfied. People are trying to “find themselves”, because they sense that something important is missing. That something is, more often than not, spirituality.
What is spirituality? How do you know if you’re a spiritual person? The quest for spirituality is intrinsic to the human experience. We all have a need for it, although some are more aware about it than others, and we choose to fill that need in different ways. Some people define spirituality as attending religious services, enjoying time in nature, praying, or meditating to mention only a few. And the interesting thing is that your definition may drastically change over time.
Something that all spiritual experiences have in common is that it includes a sense of connection to something bigger than self. Being connected to it creates a deep feeling of being more alive and more purposeful.
Many of the practices that help you cultivate spirituality are the same ones that help you improve emotional well-being. While emotions and spirituality are distinct, they form a self-perpetuating circle. Spirituality leads to emotions such as peace of mind, awe, gratitude, and acceptance, which broaden your ability to recognize and connect with that which is larger than yourself.
How to integrate the material with the spiritual
It’s essential that you don’t entrust your spiritual journey to anyone else. They simply can’t do it for you. Here are some ways to greater spirituality…
Find your purpose. When you discover meaning in life, you find a path that’s aligned with something bigger than your health, possessions or beliefs.
Create connection. To feel complete, we crave to receive and give unconditional love and acceptance from family, friends, and the Universe. I love how Guy Finley explains it, “Nothing glows brighter than the heart awakened to the light of love that lives within it.”
Continue growing as a person. When we stop growing, we die inside and give up. You feel more alive when you work to improve, push boundaries and reach your full potential.
Answer the big questions in life. It’s normal to want to understand how life works and how you fit in, so you probably have asked, “Who am I?” and “Why am I here?”
Seek inner peace. Spirituality helps you gain balance independent of external experiences in a way that creates greater appreciation for life.
Transcend above the every day. You’re feeding your spirit when you want something better than the present human condition; you seek meaning in suffering and an enlightened way of life that rises above the pettiness around you.
Explore life’s mysteries. These moments of discovery fill you with awe, a sense of wonder and feel sacred. You clearly see your small place in the Universe.
Be of service. Your spirit is revived when you make a difference in the lives of others.
Which one of these quests drives your search for spirituality? Not all of them will resonate with you, so this will dictate the path and practices you choose to follow.
I’ve been reading a lot of Brene’ Brown’s books lately. She defines spirituality as:
“Recognizing and celebrating that we are inextricably connected with one another by a power greater than all of us and that that connection to that power and one another is grounded in love and belonging.”
When I heard this definition I thought, “This is the first definition of spirituality that sincerely makes sense!” I think of being spiritual as being connected to our true SPIRIT, which includes the reasons why we’re here; why we do what we do; and why we have the experiences we have. It all becomes part of a human perfection. When we embark on our journey of discovery, the process itself becomes a spiritual journey. We have the opportunity to rise above pain, hurts and our own fallacies as humans and connect on a level beyond what our brains can understand, where our own stories finally make more sense.
If you’d like to take your spiritual journey to greater depths, I’d love to invite you to our upcoming Foundations of Life Coaching and NLP. It will be held in Ashland, Oregon, so make plans now to attend this life-changing, 3-day event. Nando and I will help you explore YOUR spiritual path in a safe and supportive environment.
Every month, thousands of searches are done online for the phrases – “how to overcome low self-esteem”; “how do you fix low self-esteem”; and “how to improve self-esteem and confidence”.
Why is there such a problem with low self-esteem today?
The 2008 Real Girls, Real Pressure: A National Report on the State of Self-Esteem, commissioned by the Dove® SelfEsteem Fund, reveals that “seven in ten (70%) girls believe they are not good enough or do not measure up in some way, including their looks, performance in school and relationships with friends and family members.”
As this illustrates, self-esteem or self-worth begins in childhood. And while there are endless combinations of behaviors that contribute to low self-esteem, there seems to be two extreme parental behaviors that start the low self-esteem ball rolling:
- One extreme is abuse, neglect, withholding love and support.
- The other extreme is praising children for everything so they never develop a real sense of self-worth.
Even when parents are doing their best, they make mistakes, such as these, in varying degrees of seriousness. If left uncorrected, they can have long-reaching consequences. Add the unrealistic body image promoted by the media, plus the demands for fitting in and being popular, and we a have the perfect storm for low self-esteem.
It’s important to note that confidence and self-esteem are not the same thing. You have confidence in your abilities (doing). Esteem means you value who you are as a person (being). There’s a big difference between doing and being. You could be doing the most amazing things, and yet feel that you’re not being good enough.
How can self-esteem be restored?
- Correct your thinking.
Teach yourself to think long term. Negative thoughts are often trying to protect you, in the short term, by shaming you into fitting in, not making waves, keeping the status quo. But in the long term, these negative thoughts are limiting your growth. A practice of mindfulness will help you identify limiting beliefs or unrealistic expectations.
- Teach people to respect you.
People will treat you like you treat yourself. So get your badass attitude on. You deserve to love yourself, to be kind to yourself, to talk to yourself without judgment or harshness. Don’t primarily focus on being liked or pleasing everyone. That will only lead to compromising your boundaries. Instead, focus on being the best you that you can be.
- Own your uniqueness.
No one else on the earth is exactly like you. Your experiences, perspective, and acquired knowledge are valuable gifts you can share with the world. But the best gift you can give is being yourself. You are the one person who can make a difference in this world. When you believe that, you’ll be centered on what is real.
Because Neuro Linguistic Programming is such a powerful tool for improving low self-esteem and building self-worth, I’d like to invite you to our upcoming Foundations of Life Coaching and NLP. It will be held in Ashland, Oregon, so make plans now to attend this life-changing, 3-day event and Nando and I will help you kick your low self-esteem to the curb.
Managing our expectations is one of life’s greatest challenges. Positive expectations can lead to positive results. Too often, however, we make ourselves unhappy because we have unrealistic expectations.
Unrealistic expectations can also have a ripple affect. For example, when you expect the best from someone, you’re more patient and supportive. You invest time and resources in them because you believe it’s worth it. On the other hand, when you expect the worst from someone, you downplay or dismiss their efforts. You don’t invest your emotions in them and you withhold time and attention that could help them do better.
What you expect becomes your reality, because the brain believes what you are thinking. Life is too short to let unrealistic expectations stand in they way of happiness. So from time to time it’s a good idea to assess our expectations and adjust to the way life really is, not the way you wish it to be. Because life isn’t a fairy tale where everything magically has a “happy ever after” ending.
Are you affected by some of these seven common unrealistic expectations?
Life should always be easy and fair.
When things don’t easily go as planned, people tend to do one of two things: 1) complain and give up, or 2) roll up their sleeves and work hard to create the life they want. Yes an excellent life takes hard work. But with hard work comes a sense of self-worth and deep satisfaction.
You’re either born lucky or you’re not.
This predetermined way of thinking will keep you from trying to change your circumstances. People have demonstrated over and over that they can get healthier, improve their finances, create a happy family life, and make a difference. If they can, so can you.
The universe owes me!
Many people in the United States feel entitled to a certain standard of living. Entrepreneurs especially are fed the philosophy that if you send out good vibes to the Universe, it will bring you what you want. Just because you deserve more money doesn’t mean you’re going to get it. You have to have the emotional courage to stick your neck out, be comfortable with being uncomfortable, and ask for it. When you limit yourself to what’s given to you, you’re at the mercy of other people and you’ll always feel indebted and small.
People should automatically get what I mean.
People can’t read your mind. What you think you said is not always what they hear. You might be asking someone to do something, but if you don’t give all the relevant information, or explain the reasons why something is done a specific way, you’re going to have problems. Learning NLP can help you communicate effectively. Communicating clearly begins with understanding the other person’s perspective. Also, it’s unrealistic to be offended when others disagree with you. There is hardly ever only one right answer.
I know I’m going to fail.
I don’t believe in failure. I believe life is a learning process. You learn all you can about your project, believe in yourself, and do your best. Remember that Thomas Edison “failed” 1,000 times when inventing the light bulb. A reporter asked him how it felt to fail so often, he replied, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”
Everyone should like me.
Realistically not everyone will like you. Your worth isn’t measured by being liked by everyone. Concentrate on creating trusting, intimate friendships. There are no shortcuts.
I can change/fix him.
As Jim Rohn said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with, including yourself”. So why do you want to spend time with someone you feel needs “fixing”? The only person you can change is yourself. Avoid people who bring you down and pursue friendships with genuine, positive people.
It takes mindful effort, but you can let go of unrealistic expectations. Neuro Linguistic Programming is a powerful tool for intentionally creating the life you want, so I’d like to invite you to our upcoming Foundations of Life Coaching and NLP. It will be held in Ashland, Oregon. Make plans now to attend this life-changing, 3-day event.
“Growth demands a temporary surrender of security. It may mean giving up familiar but limiting patterns, safe but unrewarding work, values no longer believed in, and relationships that have lost their meaning.” – John C. Maxwell
A few years ago, I attended a Yin yoga class for several months. Yin yoga is a form of yoga during which passive poses are held for several minutes. In this way, without the distraction of constant movement and muscle engagement, your connective tissue has the opportunity to stretch and you are able to go much deeper into a pose. In addition, as poses are held for several minutes, your body can move beyond the 30 seconds it takes for muscles to relax and stretching to occur.
During our first class our teacher asked us: “What is the difference between pain and discomfort?” I had never thought of this before. I didn’t know how to answer and I remained a little confused. Then I realized that I had developed a high tolerance to pain. I was accustomed to categorize most hurts (physical, emotional, psychological) as uncomfortable and I was used to staying in painful situations for a long time. That’s a great strategy during a crisis but not as an ongoing way to deal with life.
The degree of pain or discomfort has some universal and subjective elements. Some people endure in the face of pain out of self-reliance and a belief that we must make every effort to stay alive. Others experience everything as pain and try to move away from it by avoidance methods like watching TV or eating ice cream. Basically, I’ve learned to distinguish the difference between pain and discomfort this way…
Pain is intense. Pain changes the way you behave. Pain gets worse the more you continue to try and push through it. Adjectives you use to describe pain may include sharp, stabbing, and shooting. Pain tells us to back off and regroup.
Discomfort is there, but in the background. Discomfort can fluctuate and both increase and decrease over time. Discomfort can be described with words like annoying, lingering, irritating, and aching. Oftentimes, we need to learn to lean into discomfort to make improvements.
Physical pain is often easiest to figure out. You break a bone in your leg, and immediately your nervous system zings a message to your brain, so your brain can say, “Hey, my leg hurts!”
But when there’s a spiritual, emotional or mental pain, it’s not so easy to recognize the body connection, unless you’re deeply attuned to your body sensations. Practicing mindfulness will help you become aware of how you’re organized around pain and discomfort.
Whether it’s preventing a sport’s injury, taking a business risk, or handling a crisis in the family, it’s important to recognize the signals that pain and discomfort are sending you. If you want to achieve excellence, it’s vital to know when to push it and when to back off.
What’s the first step to releasing discomfort and pain? Breathing is the key to connecting feelings to thought, body to mind, so you can make informed choices about your body sensations.
If you want to release a tight muscle, you must go directly into a stretch and open the muscle and breathe into it, not around it. Learn to face life challenges in the same way – begin breathing exercises and mindfully face it head on. Jamie Gerdsen describes this choice so well:
“To learn, to experience something new, you have to leave your comfort zone. That transition between what was comfortable and what will be comfortable is scary. Everything you thought you knew starts to look wrong. Your head trash really starts doing a number on you. Those who are a tad weak in the knees will fold faster than a cheap card table chair. To grow, you have to embrace the discomfort and work at it until all the shades of gray change back to black and white.”
Because they are on the same continuum, it takes practice to determine the between pain and discomfort. Just as it’s crucial to get your broken leg professional help, it’s vital to get professional help for the spiritual, emotional, and psychological pain. Because when we endure that kind of pain, it may transform into physical pain, compounding the problem.
Remember that staying in control will make you less susceptible to pain and injury. If life seems out of control and you’ve been putting up with chronic pain (physical, emotional, psychological) for too long, please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). I’d love to help you practice greater awareness and coping techniques.
“When we fail to set boundaries and hold people accountable, we feel used and mistreated.” ~ Brené Brown
When was the last time you were asked to do something that you didn’t want to do, and you did it anyway? Your intuition or gut screams “no”, but you push ahead, and when you do, what happens? You feel used, unappreciated, undervalued. Your anxiety, frustration and anger rise.
Why do we do that to ourselves? When we do it, we’re not happy. And the people we’re interacting with won’t be happy either, because we begrudge every moment. It doesn’t allow us to be wholeheartedly present and joyful.
This unhappy chain of events begins with not recognizing and honoring emotions. Yes, you felt a push back to the request, but that’s not the emotions I’m referring to. I mean the emotions that made your heart pound and your stomach clench so that you were unable to say “No!”
Why do some people become people-pleasers? Is it because they hate confrontation and they don’t feel strong enough to speak their truth? Is it because they don’t want to let anyone down? Is it that they are afraid they won’t be liked or accepted anymore?
To gain greater awareness of these deeply held emotions, it takes willingness to be present with the pain, the guilt, the shame, the fear, and the discomfort. It means admitting your vulnerability. And it’s scary to dive that deeply into your emotions. But be assured that from such vulnerability arises the internal harmony, strength, conviction, ideals and values you’ll need to set realistic emotional boundaries.
Does the thought of setting emotional boundaries intimidate or scare you? Perhaps you believe that boundaries scare people away. And you’re afraid of being excluded and alone.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Emotional boundaries are a form of empowerment, strength, and a way for you to align with your true self. If you don’t have boundaries, you’re sending the message that you don’t care, that you don’t know what you want, that you’re desperate to take whatever you can get, and that you won’t put up a fight. No one feels good being a doormat like that.
Setting personal boundaries is a form of self-respect and self-love. By respecting yourself enough to set necessary boundaries in your life, you’ll gain the respect of others and discover a unique freedom and peace of mind.
Clearly define your emotional boundaries and stick to them. If you wish to establish more healthy boundaries in your life, here are a few helpful tips for you:
- Acknowledge that you don’t have to be superwoman.
- Recognize your limits: you can’t and shouldn’t do everything.
- Know that your limits don’t define who you are, just what you chose to do.
- Do well what you can, let someone else do the rest.
- Remember that it’s okay to say no.
- Reconnect with or discover what you want out of life.
- Clearly define your ideals and values.
- Reevaluate the list of the things you will or will not tolerate in your life.
- Write a sticky note giving you permission to feel your emotions and say “no”.
- Discuss your intentions with an accountability partner.
- Trust that the right people will stick with you no matter what.
It takes courage and a lot of internal work to set emotional boundaries. If you crave that kind of courage and peace of mind, please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). I’d love to provide guidance and accountability in support of your quest for a more fulfilling life.