“Nothing diminishes anxiety faster than action.” ~Walter Anderson
If you hold an emotional state long enough, it will change your brain chemistry. While we are products of genetics and past experiences, the good news is that we don’t have to be stuck with our present state. If we don’t like it, we can consciously make our futures brighter.
Neuroplastic healing can change and form new connections in your brain. However, this process of healing can be slowed by anxiety disorders. According to ADAA, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million aged 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year.
How do you know if you have a normal level of anxiety or suffer from anxiety disorders? It’s best to consult with a mental health professional to be properly diagnosed, because it’s important to receive appropriate treatment. Here are a few things for you to consider…
In a study by Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, researchers found that people diagnosed with anxiety are less able to distinguish between a “safe” stimulus and one that was earlier associated with a strong emotional response.
“In the study, researchers trained people to associate three distinct tones with one of three outcomes: money loss, money gain, or no consequence. In the next phase, study participants were presented with one of 15 tones and were asked whether they’d heard the tone before in training or not. Correct answers were rewarded with money.
People with anxiety were more likely than healthy controls to think that a new tone was actually one associate with money loss or gain. Those differences weren’t explained by differences in participants’ hearing or learning abilities. They perceived the sounds that were earlier linked to an emotional experience differently.
Functional magnetic resonance images (fMRIs) of the brains of people with anxiety versus healthy controls showed differences in brain responses, too. Those differences were mainly found in the amygdala, a brain region related to fear and anxiety. These results strengthen the idea that emotional experiences induce changes in sensory representations in anxiety patients’ brains.”
People with anxiety disorders are living with brains on overdrive. As a result, they often experience the following…
- They have difficulty trusting people, seeing threats where there are none.
- They think that people are talking about them behind their back.
- They have a difficulty reading facial expressions and body language.
- Making conversation is painful.
- They tend to judge themselves harshly.
- They prefer to stay at home where it’s calm and controlled.
- They are filled with pent up energy that produces unpleasant body sensations and difficulty in focusing.
- They can’t shut their brains off and relax.
- They hold themselves and others to impossible standards.
- They struggle with perfectionism, often reacting in one of two extremes – quickly giving up or refusing to quit until they reach a self-imposed goal.
- They tend to have a negative self-image.
- Emotional triggers cause them to overreact with a fear response.
- Everything is overwhelming and stressful.
- Decision-making skills are hampered by feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt.
- They are “thin skinned” and easily wounded emotionally.
You may recognize a few of these traits within yourself to some degree, because we all experience feelings of anxiety. After all, anxiety is a naturally neurological function that protects us from harm. But to experience them day after day is draining and debilitating.
You CAN learn to consciously and mindfully process and extinguish your emotional responses. If you suffer from undue anxiety, you CAN naturally improve your skills to cope and learn to live life on your own terms. By patiently taking one step at a time, you can achieve the life you desire. As Thich Nhat Hanh says,
“Smile, breathe, and go slowly.”
It often helps to work through your anxieties with a trusted friend or partner. Please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). Let’s work through the rough patches together, so you can fully feel the exhilaration of life.
“On matters of style, swim with the current, on matters of principle, stand like a rock.” – Thomas Jefferson
Everyone lives by certain rules of conduct or moral code. The narcissist lives by, “I’m the only one that matters”. The cynic lives by, “Do unto others before they do unto me”. What about you? What is your personal code of ethics? What is your character based on? What do you stand for? These are heavy questions that take honest, deep introspection and time to answer. Yet, to live fully, only you can find your own answers. No one can give them to you.
If you don’t have a strong personal code of ethics, you’ll have difficulty standing up for yourself when you’re challenged. Peer pressure will get you every time. Times of intense stress will make you feel as if you’ve lost your way. You may often feel the need to find yourself, because people have been telling you what to do and what to think your whole life. If you detect any of these issues in your life, now might be a good time to strengthen your resolve by reassessing your personal code of ethics.
Ethics are moral principles that govern your behavior; a set of values that day in and day out dictate what we do. Your personal code of ethics is the unwritten rules you live by. Sometimes these can be a bit vague because they are unwritten and change according to circumstances. For example, you may value honesty, until honesty causes you to lose something you value more.
Many of us adopt our ethics from family, without realizing it. Why not take some time to review your personal code of ethics by writing them down? This will allow you to fully commit to these principles of life. And, in turn, you’ll gain an unshakable inner strength and confidence. Knowing your personal code of ethics consciously will help you make important decisions more easily.
Here are three steps for creating your written personal code of ethics…
1. Ask family and friends to describe you. This is a good place to begin collecting the qualities that are intrinsically you. Write down everything they say.
2. Identify beliefs that influence your decision making process. This will take time. Reflect on everything you’ve done in your life and identify the ethics that motivated your decisions. For example:
- If you give your word and do everything to keep it…then honesty and reliability are important to you.
- If you’ll fight for what’s important, mental strength and personal integrity are important to you. You aren’t one to take the road of least resistance.
- If appearances matter, then you’re likely swayed by others’ opinions and fitting in is important to you.
- If serving others is your focus, then making money probably isn’t number one on your list.
- If cutting corners to save money is your way, then pride in workmanship may mean little or nothing to you.
Here are some other contrasting ethics to help you think more deeply:
- Tell the truth. Use deception when threatened.
- Keep your promises. Change plans when a better invitation arrives.
- Punctuality. Always late.
- Fit in. Set trends.
- Always kind. Brutally blunt.
- Comfort seeker. Push the envelope.
- Work hard. Do just enough to get by.
- Life is cheap. Life is precious.
- Trust everyone. Trust no one.
- Save for a rainy day. Spend it as soon as you get it.
I appreciate how Ayn Rand gives us some thought-provoking direction:
“There’s nothing of any importance in life — except how well you do your work. Nothing. Only that. Whatever else you are, will come from that. It’s the only measure of human value.”
3. Take it a step further and identify WHY you believe in what you believe. You may find that many of your whys are based on cultural background, family tradition or religious training. If the foundation for a belief is shaky, the belief will be shaky. So be sure to dig deeply to find YOUR firm basis for each belief. Remember to operate out of your code, rather than letting others dictate how you react.
When creating your personal code of ethics include a beginning section that contains these two things:
My purpose: Are you writing this to adjust your behavior; to become sure of yourself so you can be more tolerant of others; or to confirm your beliefs and find inner strength to be true to yourself? Answering this question allows you to develop the philosophy behind your code. Some examples of underlying philosophies are:
- Live and let live
- Make the world a better place
- Exceed expectations
I Aspire to: Write down the best version of yourself and what you can do to reach it.
As you write your personal code of ethics, you may find things you’d like to change about yourself. Maybe you’re more demanding than you’d like to be. Or you play it too safe. If you’d like help with developing your “next step” plan, please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). I’d love to partner with you on this journey of self-discovery.
“Confidence is preparation. Everything else is beyond your control.” ~ Richard Kline
On the scale of timid to self-confident to arrogant, where do you usual show up? Do you wish you spoke up for yourself more? Have you ever fallen into the trap of putting others down so you feel better about yourself? Since we live in a very connected world, it’s important to know how to build confidence in yourself and others in a way that encourages rather than tears down.
How we feel about ourselves and how we treat others is all about constantly adjusting our “dials”. Turning this up; toning that down. Every new situation brings an opportunity to fine tune our “dials” until we become the person we aspire to be. Ultimately, you arrive at the balance of loving and respecting yourself and others. That balance produces self-confidence.
How can you achieve that balance? Here are my top 10 tips on how to build confidence in yourself and others…
1. Take care of yourself. No one will respect you, if you don’t respect yourself. For example, the way you dress, exercise, eat, drink, and speak tells whether you love yourself and others. Loving yourself doesn’t mean pampering yourself. It means doing all you can to improve your life.
2. Know your values and be true to yourself. Your decisions and your actions form your character. Practice being the best version of yourself. When you do something that’s really hard, you’ll be proud of yourself. At the same time, you won’t feel the need to control others. You’ll be able to allow them to grow at their own rate.
3. Believe in yourself. Don’t let the Debbie Downers stop you. Especially is this so, if one of those critical voices is in your own mind. Believe in what you’re trying to accomplish; believe in you. And then pay it forward by encouraging others to follow their dreams.
4. Cultivate a fearless mindset. Build a fire in your soul for developing the attitudes and habits that make you fearless. View everything you do as worthwhile. No matter what the job is, do it cheerfully. Appreciate “failures” as an opportunity to hone your strengths. When you feel like you can’t go on, gather your last ounce of courage and keep going. What you’re trying to accomplish is more important than the fear you feel. This mindset will keep you from judging or condemning others when they falter.
5. Keep your word. If you say you’re going to do something, do it. You’ll respect yourself and so will others. Action gives your words meaning. You’ll accomplish your goals and reinforce your self-worth. And others come to trust you.
6. Don’t worry what others think. While feedback is helpful, don’t let it define who you are. Thinking you’re smart or stupid just because someone says so isn’t real. Feedback is meant to be examined for nuggets of wisdom that apply to your life. If you think something can be done, then you will find a way to make it happen. In the process, strive to give helpful feedback to others.
7. Finish what you start. Life is full of distractions and procrastinations. Your self-confidence will sky-rocket each time you can say, “Done!” Others will be confident that they can depend on you.
8. Track your accomplishments. Too often, we forget what we’ve accomplished over the course of a year. Make a physical record of your achievements, no matter how small, so you can review them. This will really boost your self-confidence. And be quick to acknowledge and compliment others for everything they do. I love this quote from David Storey…
“Self-confidence is the memory of success.”
9. Learn new skills. Whether it’s for business, fitness, or recreation, learning and becoming good at something new is a great moral booster. Each time I put together a new program, push myself further at CrossFit or score in archery, I can feel my self-confidence growing. And I love inviting others to join me. We accomplish more together than I ever could by myself. Remember, you’ll accomplish big things if you take one baby step at a time.
10. Think future benefits, not instant gratification. Self-denial is part of life. We can’t have and do it all. You can’t go days without sleep and eating junk food and expect to be brilliant. Be strong enough to make the tough decisions and stick to the choices that get you closer to your dreams. Welcome immediate discomfort, by keeping your mind’s eye focused on the long-term gain for yourself and others.
Life is short. The more time you spend doing something you love, the less time you’ll have for stress and anxiety. Why not contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). Together, we can formulate a plan that enriches every day of your life.
“No” is a complete sentence.” ~ Annie Lamott
Do people often irritate and annoy you because they keep calling when you don’t want them to? When you see someone coming, do you want to run and hide? Do they interrupt your work-time with requests without regard for how it disrupts your concentration? Do you feel like family is using you or taking advantage of you all the time? Does it drive you crazy that your partner helps himself to your things, without asking? All of these situations indicate that you have clear boundaries in your head, but you’re missing some vital steps to setting boundaries in relationships in your life.
Avoiding conflict, the primary reason most people put off these conversations, is never a good basis for any relationship. I know it can feel risky to speak your truth and let whatever happens happen. Letting go and not controlling the outcome can be terrifying. Our minds automatically go to how much we can lose. In fact, our minds can amplify the negatives by thinking in terms of absolutes or all or nothing declarations – “If I tell him that, he’s going to think I’m too picky and won’t love me any more” or “If we disagree, it will lead to a fight and I’ll lose my friend/job.”
An unwillingness to “put skin in the game” cripples a relationship before it can begin. If a relationship is worth having, it’s worth giving your whole self to it.
It won’t work if you passive aggressively ignore a situation and hope it will fix itself. And you can’t rely on people “taking a hint”. People are not mind readers. If something is bothering you, and you just “grin and bear it” they’re going to assume everything’s okay. And that may lead to resentment, which can eat away at you until you explode. The other person stands there stunned, wondering “where did that come from?”! I like what F. Scott Fitzgerald said about this,
“If you spend your life sparing people’s feelings and feeding their vanity, you get so you can’t distinguish what should be respected in them.”
It is necessary to do more than setting personal boundaries in your head; it requires you clearly and respectfully communicate them to others, whether that’s a coworker, a friend, or a casual acquaintance.
However, in between setting boundaries and communicating them to others are a number of important internal steps to take before you have the emotional clarity, mental strength, and centeredness that is required to remove the agitation so you come from a place of inner peace.
Understand why it’s important for you to set a certain boundary. Being wishy washy or sending mixed signals will only frustrate you and the people around you. This means creating harmony between all of your Parts first. For example, Part of you may want to be respected, but another Part of you doesn’t think you deserve it. My Tea-Time Exercise is a great way to resolve these internal conflicts.
Remember, it’s not always about you. Successful communication takes time to really think about the person you want to clarify boundaries with: their personality, their background, your type of relationship, etc. This will guide in you in your approach.
When you’re setting boundaries, keep the mindset of improving your relationship, moving past the hard times and coming out stronger.
You may meet some resistance. Change is seldom easy for anyone. Patiently and kindly maintain your boundary and avoid taking the attitude that’s “it’s my way or the highway.” Remind them of why you need things to be different. When someone cares about you, they want to know how they’re hurting you, so they can make you feel good. Maintaining a boundary means not only sticking to what you say you’ll do, but also holding the other person accountable.
Learning Neuro Linguistic Programming is an excellent way to improve all the skills needed for setting boundaries in relationships. Please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). Let’s explore your options!
“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.”– Arnold Schwarzenegger
Are you one of the mentally strong people? I think you are, because you’re interested in improving your life. That’s a sure sign of mental strength. Most people want to keep the status quo. Change takes too much effort. It’s too scary.
That doesn’t mean mentally strong people are superhuman. Mental strength isn’t about false bravado, acting tough, hiding feelings, or being inflexible. Mentally strong people aren’t afraid to be vulnerable. They know they’re strong enough to handle it, if people reject them or try to exploit them. Because what other people do is their responsibility. Your responsibility is how you choose to relate to events and people.
No matter how strong you are today, if you don’t use your mental strengths you will lose them. This applies to muscle as well as character. As you read the following list, why not take note of what strengths you’d like to work on next…
- Mentally strong people are comfortable in their own skin. While you want your loved ones to be happy, you won’t sacrifice your truth and lose your identity. Other people’s opinions will not keep you from what’s important for you.
- Mentally strong people give generously. It may seem counterintuitive, but the more you give, the more you get. But getting back is not your motivation for giving. Instead, you’re creating the world you want to live in. The more you give the better your world becomes.
- Mentally strong people say ‘no’ easily. We live in a world that preys on our fear of scarcity. Yet you’ve reasoned out what will serve you now and what will clutter up your life with unwanted commitments, unpaid credit debt, unused products, or dust-collecting items in your house.
- Mentally strong people are kind. Reciprocity is behind many acts of “kindness” – she invited me to dinner, so now I have to invite her to dinner. It takes strength to break out of that mold and become the one who goes beyond what’s expected and initiates kind acts, without expecting a certain outcome. It takes courage and self-confidence to put yourself out there and risk being rebuffed or unappreciated. But you do it anyway because that’s the kind of person you want to be.
- Mentally strong people think for themselves. As you gather more information, you may even change your mind dramatically. That doesn’t mean you’re wishy washy or easily influenced. Instead, it indicates you’re open to growth.
- Mentally strong people use weakness as opportunity. Weaknesses aren’t excuses for inactivity or for putting yourself down. They are springboards for taking positive action that corrects a situation, either through learning a new skill or delegating it to another, so you stay within your zone of genius.
- Mentally strong people are patient with themselves and others. Instead of demanding instant results or gratification, you know it takes time to create something you can be proud of, like reaching optimal wellness. Each new day is your friend. You hold onto your vision and keep working toward it, little by little.
- Mentally strong people don’t go it alone. Surround yourself with a community of people who support you all the way.
- Mentally strong people challenge themselves. Welcome it when something doesn’t work the first time. It’s an opportunity to grow outside your comfort zone.
- Mentally strong people regulate their emotions. Mindfully peel back the layers to identify your emotions and what causes them. If a situation makes you feel uncomfortable, don’t judge yourself – invite that emotion to a Tea Time Exercise. If an emotional response no longer serves you, do the internal work to let it go. You’ll be able to behave in a productive manner, even when you’re upset.
- Mentally strong people keep their cool. Even under provocation, hold your tongue. Retaliation may be your first impulse, but it can create irreparable damage to your relationship, so you choose to forgive, let it go or wait for things to calm down before discussing it.
- Mentally strong people know when to stay or walk away. The key is not trying to win, but making it work. You have to be strong to work through the discomfort. Yet, when the other person refuses to work with you, act in harmony with your truth and be strong enough to leave, whether it’s an argument with a coworker or a toxic relationship.
There were probably some strengths that you feel you’ve mastered and others that could use some work. That’s okay because there’s always room for improvement. I’d love to partner with you in your quest for excellence. Please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype).