“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).
“To be tested is good. The challenged life may be the best therapist.”—Gail Sheehy
“If just one more thing goes wrong, it’s going to send me over the edge! I’m at my breaking point! I can’t take anymore! I’m too discouraged and overwhelmed as it is.” Have you ever felt like that? If you struggle with maintaining an optimistic attitude, your coping mechanism may be to shut down. You’re not alone. Yet, you are lacking the one key ingredient that will make getting through hard times more rewarding.
How can getting through hard times be rewarding?
Even though our lives are packed full of demands, we can face all of these, plus the uncertainties that loom on the horizon with optimism and courage, IF we tap into the inextinguishable power of hope.
Yes, there will be pain. However, optimism fuels hope, and hope fuels resiliency, which can see you through seemingly impossible situations. Looking past the challenge and shifting your focus to better times ahead, can change everything. As William J. Brennan, Jr., Former Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, said:
“We must meet the challenge rather than wish it were not before us.”
When we accept the struggles and challenges of life as part of our education, then we’ll be able to get through the tough times more gracefully. Here are five ways you can mindfully practice hope during hard times…
1. Take care of your health. Our bodies and spirit run on the fuel we give it. Eating healthfully and getting a good night’s sleep can often restore your balance and give you a new and hopeful perspective. Also, be careful about what you’re feeding your mind and spirit. Reject negative talk, whether it’s coming from yourself or others. You deserve better than that!
2. Share your feelings. Recognize the emotional states that are keeping you trapped in despair; they might be pride, fear, or shame. These are common emotional triggers. Hope reassures you that your trusted loved ones will not reject you for being human.
3. Express gratitude. This goes beyond the mental exercise of keeping a gratitude journal to get your mind focused on what you do have. It’s an activity – out of your gratitude list, look for ways to build others up with “thank yous” and compliments. The more positive messages you send out, the more positivity comes back to you.
4. Give meaningfully to others. This can be as simple as taking your dog for a long walk every day in the park, so you can smile at everyone you encounter. The size of your goal doesn’t matter, as long as it feeds your sense of purpose and hope for a brighter tomorrow.
4. Take one step at a time. Hope, like an actual building, is built one brick at a time. Seeing the big picture can often overwhelm, so focus on the one thing you can do right now…and do it!
You’re tougher than you think. People have always survived; and some have even thrived, while getting through hard times. Why not ask those around you what inspires them to keep going? Also read or watch true life stories of courage that inspire you. I’d love to hear about the people who inspire you – please come over to my Facebook page and share what you’ve learned from their stories.
Remember that baby steps lead to transformation. If you’d like guidance and accountability in your quest for a more hopeful state, please contact me for an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). It’s easier when you have help.
“When your desires are strong enough, you will appear to possess superhuman powers to achieve.” ~ Napoleon Hill
Eagles effortlessly soar for hours, because they instinctively look for updrafts and downdrafts that take them where they want to go. We have more than instinct on our side. Even if, at times, our emotional triggers sidetrack us, we can learn to actually use them to get back on track and create the life we want.
It’s true that many people get stuck, because they’re hardwired toward self-defeating negativity and doubt. Try as you might, it feels like you can’t turn those emotions off. If that’s true in your case, take heart. You can use these emotions to trigger new, more useful thoughts that will take you where you want to be.
Here are three emotional triggers that will let you navigate through difficulties and excel at whatever you want…
- Let negativity trigger your ability to look for the “updrafts” of positivity. We are hardwired to see what’s wrong, so we don’t get hurt. Our “gut” or intuition tells us when we’re in a life-threatening situation. Problems arise, however, when we get out of balance physically, mentally and spiritually, and we can become too sensitive, feeling like everything is a challenge or attack—even when that’s not the intention.
You can regain your balance, by learning to identify defensive feelings and practicing relaxation techniques that make you feel safe and grounded. Before speaking negatively of yourself or others, mindfully retrain yourself to think positive thoughts. It will change your feelings, thoughts, behaviors and even relationships. You absolutely do get what you focus on.
- Let the “down drafts” of pressure trigger your sense of wonder. Though it may sound cliché, life is a journey, not a destination. If you rigidly hold to a set destination or outcome, you’ll put so much pressure on yourself your performance will suffer. You’ll miss opportunities that let you grow or experience new joys and discoveries. Pressure to perform does create stress, but remember that you, and everyone else, are practicing human beings, not perfect human beings. Everyone is a work in progress.
You don’t have to have all the answers. Cultivate greater awareness so you see that life is full of opportunities to try something new, rather than tests. This will help you mindfully transform a moment of panic into one of empowerment. You just have to have the courage to move forward, stretch yourself and do your best. Practice acceptance, rather than judgment as you let whatever happens, happen. And when you feel discomfort, choose to do the thing that scares you the most.
- Let insecurities trigger empowerment. All throughout life we take leaps of faith, just like eagle chicks tumble out of the nest for their first flight. You can do and be whoever you want. Who you were as a child is not who you are today. Who you are now, is not who you will be a year from now.
Feeling insecure means you’ve discovered an area where you can learn something new. You can master anything, if you’re willing to put in the time. Each step forward empowers you to take the next step and then the next, until you’re soaring with the eagles.
It’s been scientifically proven that we can reshape our brains. Each thought and behavior wears a path in the brain. That’s why we can do so many things without thinking about them, like making dinner or driving a car. The amazing thing is that if you don’t like a thought or behavior, you can create a new path that eventually overwrites the previous path.
I’d love to partner with you on this exciting part of your life’s journey. Please feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype).
“I don’t think anyone ever gets completely used to conflict. If it’s not a little uncomfortable, then it’s not real. The key is to keep doing it anyway” ~ Patrick Lencioni
“I hate conflict! I prefer to let them do what they want, rather than make a scene…even if it means I feel like I destroy a little bit of who I am each time.” Is that how you feel about resolving conflicts? Many people do. They question whether it’s even possible to resolve some conflicts peacefully.
It’s worth the effort. Learning to successfully manage conflict will help keep you healthy and happy. Of course, it’s easy to say, “Just tell them how you feel.” But when you’re the one feeling cornered or threatened, it’s not easy to think rationally and remain calm.
So what’s the secret to resolving conflicts peacefully and getting the best outcome?
First, we need to identify conflict for what it is and what it isn’t. It’s not a challenge. It’s not a declaration that you’re unloved. It’s not a put down. It’s not an assessment of your worth.
It is a different point of view. And that’s something we can welcome, for it helps us expand our own thinking and way of being. That being said, there are times when a person will cause conflict with the intention to hurt you. When that happens, walk away from that kind of conflict, shake it off, and put that burden back on the shoulders of the instigator where it belongs.
Conflict becomes scary and draining when we attach the wrong significance to it. Emotionally charged circumstances often cause us to react badly to conflict. That’s why it’s so vital to practice mindfulness to mentally take a step back, observe without judgment and release the tension. Then you can use the following process to resolving conflicts peacefully….
Remind yourself that being right isn’t the issue. Handling conflict isn’t about being right or wrong – that only creates barriers. When you push your point of view as the only right one, you may win the battle (the disagreement), but you’ll lose the war (the relationship). If you tend towards being competitive, now is the time to remove that element from the situation. Instead, switch your focus to finding a peaceful resolution you can both live with.
Turn on your listening skills. Our talking, shouting or interrupting accomplishes nothing. Rather than talking at someone, learn to talk with them. That means only responding after you’ve listened deeply. You don’t have to agree with what’s said. Just acknowledge how the other person thinks and feels. Remember that a kind touch goes a long way toward improving communication. (You can learn more about listening skills on my other website The Institute for Professional Leadership.)
Breathe deeply and maintain your calm. Calmness enables you to clearly articulate your thoughts. There’s nothing wrong with saying, “This upsets me. Give me a moment to catch my breath, so we can resolve this peacefully.” If you have to, ask for a break, promising that you’ll revisit it later in the day. Avoid putting it off until tomorrow, because that allows room for festering.
Be forward thinking. Dredging up and using the past as a weapon is not productive. Let it go. Be mindfully in the moment, step back and see the big picture of what’s happening right now.
Set your intention for a peaceful resolution. Visualize the desired outcome and mentally map out all of your options. Be honest with yourself about what your true intention is. If you’re hanging on to a little bit of wanting to get even, to hurt them like they hurt you, it’s going to manifest itself. With a clear intention to make peace in your relationship, you’ll look for common ground.
Focus on WE, not me. Find a solution that serves both of you. Use words that show you’re invested in a mutually beneficial solution. For example, “What can WE do to…?”
Viewing conflict resolution as a system helps you create a plan for productive communication. The other person may not always respond in kind. Nevertheless, by taking the higher path, you’ll create an atmosphere that’s more conducive to successfully resolving conflicts peacefully.
If you’d like help in creating a calmer, peaceful life, please feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype).
“Your need for acceptance can make you invisible in this world. Don’t let anything stand in the way of the light that shines through this form. Risk being seen in all of your glory.” ~ Jim Carrey
It’s normal to want to be loved, to fit in, and to be accepted. We care what other’s think. That’s why we all do the dance of give and take – we’re trying to find our place in our family, the workplace, our community and the world. And if you start from a grounded, well-balanced sense of self and others, it isn’t so difficult to stand up for yourself, celebrate the unique person you are, and be your own woman.
The imbalance comes when we care too much, at the expense of what we hold dear. This leads to being a people pleaser, which is something that women especially struggle with.
Have you noticed how fear of rejection or conflict makes you shrink back from letting others see who you really are? You might mistakenly think that if you never make waves, if you agree with everything, if you always change your plans to accommodate others, if you always say “yes” even when your gut is screaming “NO!” then you’ll be loved instead of rejected.
This kind of desperation for love and approval ultimately hides the unique person that you are. It’s unrealistic, exhausting, and can irreparably damage your health. It can’t work, because you won’t love yourself. And when you don’t love yourself, you can’t love others. And when you’re so intent on getting love rather than showing love, your desperation repels the very people you want to please.
The good news is that you can regain your balance and learn to love yourself as you are and be strong enough to speak your own truth at all times. Does that sound out of reach for you? Let me assure you, it isn’t. You can celebrate the unique person you are now and fully embrace the person you want to become in the future.
How to reclaim the real you…
First off, it’s vital to identify the factors that have thrown you off balance. This involves digging into the past. That takes courage and willingness to be vulnerable. But you don’t have to put on a brave face any more. Mindfully peel back the layers, like peeling an onion. Yes, there will be tears, but think of the end results – you’ll discover the perfect sauce for a joyful life.
Most often the root of the problem can be traced to things that trigger your guilt and shame. These self-destructive emotions feed on your worries, insecurities and fears. They tell you that you’re not good enough…that you don’t deserve good things. Everyone else deserves it, but not you.
Guilt and shame have three major lies you might be buying into:
Lie #1 – It’s selfish to put yourself first. That’s a lie because you won’t have the physical, mental, emotional or spiritual strength to care for someone else, if you haven’t taken care of your own needs first. You will never have the confidence and belief in yourself to help others. Self-love is an essential step to being the truly amazing person you’re meant to be. Accept that you are a unique person with talents and opinions the world needs.
Lie #2 – You’re stupid and ungrateful to turn down any opportunity. That’s a lie because you simply can’t do everything that comes your way. There isn’t enough time in the day or energy in your body. We all have to make choices and that means saying “no” to something, so you can say “yes” to something more important. Remember, you’re allowing someone else, who would really enjoy the opportunity, to step up. So embrace the fact that it’s a kindness to say “no.”
Lie # 3 – You’re going to cause a scene, create conflict, and hurt someone if you say “no.” That’s a lie because you are not responsible for how others react. Oftentimes we blow things out of proportion and envision the worse case scenario. In reality, the other person usually shrugs, says “okay” and moves on. It’s not that big of a deal. If they cause a scene or conflict, that’s on them. It’s not you. It’s them.
It’s time to stand up for yourself, stop being a people pleaser, and celebrate the unique person you are now and who you’ll become in the future.
- Make time for what’s important to you.
- Think about a request before answering.
- When you say ‘no’, do it confidently because that’s how you really feel.
- Don’t take responsibility for the other person’s reaction.
- Don’t relive your decision or stress about it for hours afterwards.
- Don’t look for hidden meanings or attach significance that isn’t there.
Your worth does not hinge on acquiescing. Do you believe that? No matter what you decide, you have no reason to feel guilt or shame. You are worthy of your place on this planet. You are an amazing human being, a unique person with gifts and talents that contribute to making this world a better place.
In today’s busy world, it’s easy to lose sight of what makes you a unique person. I’m here to help you gain more clarity. Please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype).