“The victim mindset dilutes the human potential. By not accepting personal responsibility for our circumstances, we greatly reduce our power to change them.” ~ Steve Maraboli
A husband and wife were driving through an unfamiliar section of the city. She read the map and told him to turn left or right at the intersections. He faithfully followed her every direction, until finally she wailed, “Now YOU”VE gotten me lost!” True story? Yes. (It wasn’t my honey and me, it was an acquaintance of mine.) It just illustrates that we, as humans, are quick to blame others for the results of our own actions. We take offense instead of taking personal responsibility.
People have become very confused about how to respond to life, because of conflicting messages they’ve received since childhood. For example:
- It’s common to praise children for everything, which can inflate the ego and instill a mentality of, “I’m entitled. The world owes me”.
- Parents make excuses for their children and blame the teachers, when the child gets in trouble or under performs.
- Rather than learning that actions have consequences, many young adults get bailed out of their problems, so they never learn resilience or what their own strengths are.
- We’re told “you’re entitled to your feelings and to let it all out”, without learning how to responsibly manage those emotions productively.
- We’re taught to stand up for ourselves and not be doormats. However, by not giving an inch we hear feedback as criticism from which we must defend ourselves.
We’ve lost our sense of humor and take ourselves too seriously. Becoming offended over real and imagined slights has grown into a problem of epidemic proportions. We see evidence of this in the irritation, sarcasm, hostility, resentment, pouting, grudges, rants, rioting, assaults, road rage, “going postal”, school shootings, and even terrorist attacks.
Here are some things people say in order to avoid taking personal responsibility:
“It’s not my fault!” While excusing ourselves, we hold others to an impossibly high standard.
“It’s not fair!” Because we fail to develop gratitude, we compare our life to others and become embittered and perceive the good others experience as a personal grievance.
“It’s his fault!” Shifting blame, when things go wrong, is easy.
“He started it!” When someone slights you, you respond by giving him the cold shoulder. Your own hurtful behavior is okay, because he did it first.
“He’s out to get me!” It’s all about us. We don’t make allowances for others’ good intentions. Instead we cynically search for their “sinister” reason.
If you want inner peace, cultivating the habit of personal responsibility is vital. I love how Iyanla Vanzant puts it:
“One of the greatest challenges in creating a joyful, peaceful and abundant life is taking responsibility for what you do and how you do it. As long as you can blame someone else, be angry with someone else, point a finger at someone else, you are not taking responsibility for your life.”
Taking personal responsibility for the good and the bad in your life is one of the most empowering things you will ever do. Only then can you shape your future. Consider this: the word responsibility is made up of two words…response and ability. That means you have the ability to mindfully choose your response to whatever happens. As Viktor E. Frankl said,
“Between stimulus and response, there is space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
Taking personal responsibility is a habit you can cultivate over time. It’s like a muscle memory. You do it often enough, it will become automatic. So it’s up to you to decide. What kind of person do you want to be? If taking responsibility is important to you, start with these suggestions…
- Before responding, honestly ask yourself, “What part did I play in this situation? How did I make it worse? How could I have made it better?”
- Recognize your own limitations. You’re not perfect, so give yourself some slack and avoid becoming defensive and prickly, when others point out your “faults”. Accept it with grace and humor. And give others some slack too.
- Sincerely apologize for your actions or your lack of actions.
- Welcome feedback and learn from it. Even if you think it’s undeserved, you can find something positive in it, if you look hard enough.
- Look for the good in others and don’t impute wrong motives. If you’re suspicious, respectfully ask them why they said or did something, rather than jumping to negative conclusions.
- Accept your life, without judgment and resignation, rather than wishing things were different. View today as a starting point from which you can create something better.
- Let go of the past. You have the choice and the power to change your future.
Sometimes, we don’t even realize that we’re not taking personal responsibility for our actions. If you’d like to enhance your emotional intelligence and communication skills, so you can turn even the most trying situations into positive outcomes, please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). You can do this!
“The words you speak become the house you live in.” ~ Attributed to Hafiz
I speak a number of languages…English, Spanish, Italian, and Positivity. Yes, Positivity is a language. It’s the universal language of success. You have to speak it, if you want to go places in this world. Even if you’ve spoken Negativity your whole life, you can learn to speak Positivity into your life!
All languages have patterns that we practice in order to master them. When you finally become fluent in the language, the new way of thinking becomes automatic and you can form real and deep connections with others who speak it. The same is true when you practice speaking Positivity. You will create great success, when you make it a practice to speak positivity into your life every day. The words you speak become self-fulfilling prophecies, so speech is an extremely powerful tool. Once you’ve said it, your brain and body believe it.
We all have our own particular pattern of speech – some people are critical faultfinders, while others are known for always building others up. Of course, at times the most positive person can speak a negative comment. But overall, what pattern of speech do you have?
Over the course of the next week, I encourage you to pay attention to the words you use so you create greater awareness of your pattern of speech. Are you speaking Positivity into your life or is Negativity your mother tongue? You might even enlist a buddy to help you, because it’s difficult to be aware of this all the time.
We become more successful in life when we learn to use positive speech effectively. As you gain greater awareness, you’re going to notice how often the tendency to be judgmental is associated with negative speech. That’s why I encourage you to learn somatic practices and to practice suspending judgment and mindfulness.
Learn to avoid blanket statements or absolute statements, because they’re judgmental in nature and aren’t helpful in developing positive speech. They appear in thoughts such as, “total disaster, complete idiot, absolute wreak, always late, or never listens to me.”
Recognize words that limit you or label you. Notice when you’re speaking whether you’re creating unwanted boundaries in your mind. These words are usually followed by the word, “so”. And we often use them as excuses. For instance, you may say, “I’m a procrastinator, so…”
More often than not, we misuse the power of speech by unconsciously sabotaging our chances of success, by convincing ourselves that something is impossible; it can’t happen. Be mindful to avoid words that breed hopelessness, fear, anxiety or negativity.
On the other hand, when you use positive language about yourself and your abilities to meet challenges you will love the outcomes you achieve. When you speak Positivity, you use language that is precise, results-oriented and builds trust.
Neuroscience has proven that you can rewire your brain to replace destructive patterns of thought, speech and behavior with more positive ones. Once you’ve noticed a manner of speech that isn’t bringing positivity into your life, make a conscious decision to replace it. This applies to the words you speak about yourself and words you speak and choose to listen to about others.
When you want positivity to grow in your life, you won’t want to give your problems or stresses more power by talking about them. Instead, focus on the good that you want to grow. If you want more influence, self-confidence, connection or opportunities, pay attention to what you’re sending out into the world each time you speak.
Also, monitor your body language as well. How you hold yourself – your posture, facial expression, and demeanor – profoundly shapes your emotions and how you speak.
Are you ready to become proficient in the language of “Positivity”? It may seem like a foreign language to you, but you can master this powerful skill. It will attract more opportunities and give you the confidence to go after and get the success you crave. I’d love to partner with you as you speak positivity into your life. Please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype).
“You draw to you the people and events which resonate with the energy that you are radiating. You attract what you are, so be your best.” ~ Lynda Field
Are there days where you feel like a dark cloud is following you all day long? Like you never should have gotten out of bed? First one thing goes wrong, then another…until all you see is disaster, problems, frustrations and failure. We’ve all felt that way at one time or another. However, did you notice I said, “…all you see…” The truth is you’re seeing the bad, so you’re attracting bad; if you can see the good, you’ll attract positive energy instead.
Just as a magnifying glass intensifies the sun’s energy as it passes through it, to the point of catching paper of fire, your focus intensifies the energy you project – positive or negative. You can choose to focus on the bad and make your day worse, or you can focus on the positive.
You absolutely have the power to turn a bad day around by mindfully practicing these 10 ways to attract positive energy:
- Walk to attract positive energy. Physically remove yourself from an environment that is bringing you down and go for a walk outside. Tune in to, and feel, the positive energy in your new surroundings.
- Practice positive meditation. Once you arrive at a place private, be still for a few minutes, and imagine the most beautiful and serene place possible. Stay with this image, as you feel your body relaxing.
- Do something you enjoy. If you can’t leave the building, play some music and dance. Do anything that is proactive and gives you a sense of accomplishment, no matter how small the task is. This allows you to mindfully engage your senses so you feel powerful and more productive. As Joe Rogan says,
“There’s a direct correlation between positive energy and positive results.”
- Notice your thoughts and feelings. Pay attention to your inner self-talk. Oftentimes, a disruption occurs when you feel conflicted because one of your Parts is not fully integrated. If that’s the case, use my NLP Tea Time Exercise to become centered, congruent and empowered.
- Reestablish control. Worry and stress lowers your energy and damages your health. No matter what you fear might happen, know that you will get through it. Work on mastering your emotions and controlling you thoughts, so you can show those fears who’s boss.
- Let go. If you’re holding resentment, stress or anger in your body, do mindful breathing exercises to release that negativity, so you make room for positive energy to flow back in. One of the most empowering ways to attract positive energy is to forgive and quit blaming either yourself or someone else. Release the negative energy or power that your past has over you.
- Reaffirm your power. Believe that you can influence your life for the better. You show strength when you don’t retaliate, and are able to turn in a new, positive direction. Concentrate on doing your best at work and taking care of yourself and others, without comparing yourself to anyone else. You attract positive energy when you pick yourself back up and keep going.
- Re-set your intentions. How do you want to change your energy for the better? When you set powerful intentions, you create within yourself a new and specific state that serves your purpose in life.
- Eliminate negative energy sources. This could be a draining relationship, unproductive activities, unwholesome food, or inadequate sleep. Draw healthy boundaries that empower you.
- Be determined to begin tomorrow with positive energy.What you might need most is a good night’s sleep. But before you doze off, affirm to yourself, “I am in control. When I wake up, good things will come my way.” New beginnings attract positive energy.
I realize this is an abbreviated list of some not-so-simple ways to attract positive energy. I’d love to share more details with you. Why not pick 1 of these 10 tips that you’d like to work on, and then contact me for an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). Remember: huge changes begin with the first step.
“Never pull away suddenly from a negative thought or experience. Stay with it until you are indifferent to it or until it turns beautiful. Look at it, love it, then let it go.” ~ Thaddeus Golas, Author
Have you noticed that you intensely remember a bad experience from years ago, but the pleasure you experienced last week is easily forgotten? This isn’t just a matter of long-term or short-term memory. Instead of taking in the good, our brains are hardwired to remember painful or bad experiences, as a way of protecting us from possible harm in the future. If we get anywhere close to repeating something disturbing, our brain sends us down the rabbit hole of negativity, to keep us safe.
The brain learns from our experiences and how we process or “file” them. Think about how you’ve been “filing” every experience in your life. If you’re like most people, you tend to see the bad in them, so your brain files them into one of your over-stuffed negative files, like your “Resentment File”, “Grudge File”, or “Self-Doubt File”. Some examples:
- A confrontation with your spouse made you feel bad, so anytime disagreements arise, you get angry and defensive, because you don’t want to feel powerless again.
- A snake scared you, so every time you see a snake your skin crawls.
- Your neighbor, Stephanie, hurt your feelings, so every time her name is mentioned your brain retrieves resentful feelings.
Was there any good in these experiences? Probably. However, you didn’t see it or you resisted taking in the good. In all of these cases, your brain only retained a snapshot of negativity and erased the rest of the whole picture, which included a lot of good that could have brought you happiness.
Whereas, if you change the way you process your experiences and lean toward mindfully savoring the moment and taking in the good, you’re telling your brain to file them in your “Happiness File”, or “Gratitude File”, or “Love File”. Instead of automatically dumping each experience in one of your negative files, you’re teaching your brain to see, enjoy, and use the good.
“Everything that is created begins in the mind.” ~ Ruth Fishel, Author
An effective way to rewire your brain is to use the H.E.A.L practice coined by Rick Hanson, Ph.D. In his book, “Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence,” he explains a process for deliberately and mindfully taking in the good. Here’s how this acronym works:
Have a positive experience in real time or as a recent memory, like when Stephanie took care of your dog while you were away on vacation. Feel the good emotions that go with it – pleasure, contentment, joy, etc.
Enrich it. Stay 15 to 20 seconds with your positive thought with a broad, open body, mind and spirit. Enhance and expand that good feeling by experiencing what it feels like in your body. Do you feel light? Warm? Safe? Loved? What other pleasant sensation do you notice about the experience?
Absorb it. Mindfully let it sink into your body, mind and spirit. Breathe with it and stay soft and open.
Link positive and negative material. Briefly recall a negative experience that you want to rewire, like when Stephanie hurt your feelings. Bring forward the positive, enhanced, absorbed memory, while keeping the challenging moment in the back of your mind. Let the two mingle together, until the positive takes on more importance and then anchor this new resourceful state. The next time you talk with Stephanie, you’ll feel a profound shift within yourself, because you’ve made this transitional link.
As you practice savoring the moment and taking in the good every day, you can turn your experiences, into lasting inner strengths, such as resilience, balance, and self-compassion. Remember that practice involves using your new skill repeatedly. If you’d like guidance and accountability on your journey toward a more positive outlook, please contact me for an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). I’d love to meet you!
“If you want to choose the pleasure of growth, prepare yourself for some pain.” – Ritu Ghatourey
Do you remember having growing pains when you were young? They weren’t pleasant were they, but who would want to stay the size of a baby? That’s just part of growing up.
However, what most people don’t recognize is that we continue to have growing pains – emotional, mental and spiritual ones – throughout our lives. However, discomfort now becomes our choice – we can avoid it, endure it, or embrace it. It’s no longer automatic.
Since our brains are hardwired to avoid pain, we often choose to avoid discomforts rather than embrace them. As a result, our personal and professional growth can become stunted.
What are some attitudes that people adopt to avoid the discomfort of growing?
- I’m happy where I’m at.
- I want to take it easy.
- I want to be comfortable.
- I don’t want to do that because it makes me uncomfortable.
- It’s too hard.
The trouble with staying in your comfort zone is that you can become self-absorbed, complacent, or easily bored. And if you have a creative nature, you’re going to be miserable.
Learning to be comfortable with discomfort is one of the most important skills you can develop. It’s how you’ll live a full and purposeful life. As Jean Shinoda Bolen said, “When you recover or discover something that nourishes your soul and brings joy, care enough about yourself to make room for it in your life.”
But why is growing emotionally, mentally, or spiritually so uncomfortable? Because it involves taking a risk. Letting go of control. Venturing into the unknown. But that’s okay. It may not be easy, but it will be worth it.
When you regularly seek out fresh experiences, you become more creative and emotionally resilient. It makes you stronger and more confident as you see each success and conquer each hurtle. Can’t you look back and remember things that used to make you uncomfortable, but you can now do with ease?
How do you embrace discomfort?
- Develop a craving for something more in your life.
- Resist the pride of perfectionism.
- Be willing to make “mistakes” and see them as learning experiences instead.
- Deliberately seek out things that push your limits.
- Stop avoiding what’s hard.
Oftentimes you have to expand your understanding to overcome obstacles in front of you – understanding yourself, others, or how things work. It challenges your mental skills. But your brain is like a muscle and the more you use it, the stronger it gets. Conversely if you don’t stretch it, it will become flabby.
Make time for continual learning. Try a new language. Take a mindfulness course. Start a new hobby. You can tackle any project you set your mind to. As Calvin Coolidge said, “All growth depends upon activity. There is no development physically or intellectually without effort, and effort means work.”
If you make a practice of welcoming discomfort, your comfort zone will expand to include and embrace discomfort as a natural part of living. Then you can have a similar attitude to American writer Jonathan Lethem, “Discomfort is very much part of my master plan.”
Most things seem impossible until you do them. Remember that others have felt just as you do and they were able to push beyond that feeling. So can you.
Sometimes it helps to have someone coach you through a big growth spurt. If that’s where you’re at, I’d love to partner with you so you can more easily embrace discomfort. Please feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype).