“It’s not that important” or “it doesn’t matter.” Sound familiar? Is this what you say when you break a promise to yourself to do something that is good for you? Perhaps your goal is losing a few pounds, exercising regularly, journaling, eating fewer processed foods or meditating on a regular basis. Whatever you choose, you can achieve it.
Would you break a promise to a friend that easily? You may, but not if you really care about them. Do you not care about youself? Are you not worth the work it takes to achieve the goal of becoming healthier and more in balance physically and mentally? You are worthy of this and much more. Put yourself first and make the effort that will benefit you, perhaps even in ways that may surprise you.
Make a list of goals you’d like to achieve. Choose a simple one and work on it one day at a time for at least a month until it becomes a habit. At the same time, make a list of pros and cons. How will this enrich your life? Better health? More peaceful outlook? Will you feel better about yourself? Have more energy or creativity? Flip the coin and look at the alternatives if you don’t make this a part of your life.
Before you know it, one step at a time and one day at a time will get you to your goal. Once this goal is solidly a habit, take a short break and then move on to your next choice. Always remember that you deserve to be the best you can be for yourself as well as for your loved ones.
Check out my novella, Where the Heart Goes, for a timeless message of love and resilience in the Old West.
This is an article that I wrote as a guest blogger for Gilda Evans in April 2014. In today’s busy world, it is easy to lose oneself…to get so caught up in daily activites or the lives of others, that we forget what is most important – ourselves! A strong sense of self will guide you down life’s pathway to your goals and give you the strength and resilience to be available to others in a loving, healthy way.
The relationship with yourself is the most important one you’ll ever have. At birth, we know nothing other than to be our true selves and have little awareness of our surroundings as we begin to bond with those who care for us. Soon, however, we slowly begin to learn that we are not the center of the universe—that all of our actions are not acceptable and that not all of our desires get fulfilled.
Our self-image is gradually molded during our formative years. In childhood, parental demands and expectations begin to chip away at our self-concept. When we become teenagers, the desire to fit in often supersedes our desire and ability to be our true self. Some of us spend a lifetime trying to reclaim this birthright—the ability to be genuinely ourselves and to feel good about it.
Getting it back means taking a good look at yourself, pros and cons, and fully accepting “you” exactly the way you are. Recognize that you don’t need anyone or anything else to make you whole. Of course, this is easier said than done because we do need to have relationships with others. Too often, however, these relationships take too much away from us, and we lose more even of ourselves.
A healthy relationship is one in which two individuals, who are whole and complete in themselves, come together to delight and share in each other’s lives. These relationships are honest, supportive and loving whether they be friendship or romance. The fact is that you cannot be in this type of relationship fully with another until you first have it with yourself.
For those who need a little help, here are some tips to get you there:
1. Buy a journal or notebook and begin to write about your hopes and dreams, your feelings, your experiences during the day, etc. This is an excellent way to get to know and understand yourself better. You might even try writing a few love notes to yourself.
2. Make a list of your pros and cons without judging. Accept that this is the way you are and begin to love yourself unconditionally. Everyone else has their own pros and cons—no one is perfect. Stop comparing yourself to others; no one is better or less than another, just different.
3. Take note of what makes you unique and different from others you know. This is the treasure that you are meant to give to the world. Focus on developing and sharing more of your special qualities.
4. Take five minutes a day to look at yourself in the mirror and say positive affirmations such as, “I love and accept myself just the way I am.”
5. Remember to treat yourself as kindly and lovingly as you do the person whom you love the most. Take time out to be good to yourself. Make a date with yourself to do or buy something special.
It’s time for introverts to stop feeling like they should be more like them…extroverts, that is. It seems like there are many more of them than us, or at least it did when I was growing up. I was encouraged to be more outgoing, speak up and, “for heaven’s sake, raise your hand more in class.” Research is now showing that there are differences in brain chemistry and in the way these so-called personalities respond to stimuli and recharge energy. Extroverts are energized by being around others while introverts thrive when they are alone or spending limited time with a close friend. Too many people, loud noise or constant activity drains their energy. However, there is no such thing as a one-hundred percent introvert or extrovert; the majority of people fall somewhere in between.
Introverts, give yourself permission to be you—the deep thinker, the intellectual, the writer, the poet, the artist or silent creator who looks at the world from a place deep inside yourself. If you are happy in your world, don’t allow others’ expectations to be forced upon you. They may perceive your quiet tendencies as uncaring, rude or stuck-up. That’s their stuff, not yours (unless you really are). The only reason that some people may call you out is because of their own emotional response to you. They worry that you are judging, or thinking badly of them, and that makes them feel uncomfortable.
Parents and educators, teach your children, introverts or otherwise, to love and accept themselves as they are. A little person who is made to feel “less than” will waste years trying to measure up. Sadly, some go on feeling defensive about themselves their whole lives. Those who learn to appreciate themselves as children are more likely to embrace their full potential as adults if they build upon a solid foundation that celebrates their special talents and uniqueness.
Introversion has graced us with many brilliant and talented people, i.e. Bill Gates, Abraham Lincoln, Eleanor Roosevelt, Albert Einstein and even, Christina Aguilera. It’s okay to be quiet—some of us need our silence and thrive within it. Don’t make us try to fit into a mold. That’s the quickest way to destroy our spirit.
Forty years ago, when I moved into my first apartment, I came across a beautiful plaque and purchased it for my new home. The wise words written upon it resonated with me from the moment I read them. Back in the 70s, the author was unknown, but it was later discovered to be Max Ehrmann, an American, who had originally published this piece in 1927.
I hope you enjoy reading, or re-reading them if you’ve come across this before.
Happy New Year! May 2016 be one of your best!
Desiderata ( in Latin, “desired things”)
“Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.’
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”
— Eleanor Roosevelt
These are great words, attributed to a special lady. Do you believe this or do you frequently allow your self-image to be colored by the world around you? Are you aware of your own truth and goodness? Do you realize that what you think of yourself, good or bad, is always more important than what others think of you?
I truly believe that we all are born with a healthy dose of self-esteem. In our early years, however, it often begins to be chiseled away by normal childhood experiences. Dysfunctional parents, as well as the well-intended ones, contribute to this in addition to most school systems. During teenage years the desire to conform takes us a step further away from knowing and appreciating our true selves.
If negativity and self-doubt are allowed to gain a solid foothold, this snowballs until we are old enough to reflect back on our life and wonder what went wrong. Why am I not happy? Why do I always try harder to please others than myself? When will there be time for me?
If you find this happening, take a moment to reflect on your own self-worth. First of all, no one is “better” than anyone else. We are all different, but equal as human beings. What are your special gifts and talents? What do you like best about yourself? What are you doing when you are truly happy?
Most importantly, you don’t have to own anyone else’s opinion of “you.” What they think of you, is not your business; it’s theirs. Mind you own and appreciate yourself.
For the most part, I enjoyed the time I spent as a therapist working with couples. It was rewarding to see that often all they really needed for a better relationship was improved communication skills. Of course, the tips I am going to give you only work if the two persons involved truly want a better relationship and are willing to work on it.
Many times when a fight begins, it quickly escalates into a shouting match. As both persons become emotionally wounded, it turns into a contest to see who can shout the loudest. The result is that neither person is actually listening to what the other is saying.
The first tip involves clarification. If this heated discussion is going to be productive, it’s important for both parties to understand what the other person is saying. Try responding like this to the first disparaging remark: “Are you saying I’m a fat pig?” The answer may be, “yes,” or the other person may back down and give some type of explanation that diffuses the anger.
The second tip revolves around the use of “I” versus “you” statements. “You this or you that” almost always is perceived as an attack and will incite anger in the other person. Use “I” statements to help the other person to understand how their thoughtless remarks make you feel. “I feel really hurt when you call me a fat pig.”
Remember, both people have to be committed to working on their communication skills to improve the relationship. If so, a dialogue between relatively mature adults could go something like this:
“You’re such a fat pig! Nothing I ever buy for you fits your fat ass.”
“Did you really say I’m a fat pig?”
“Well, yeah. You’re fatter than you should be.”
“I feel really hurt when you talk about me like that. I’m trying hard to lose weight.”
“I don’t like to see you so heavy; it’s not good for your health.”
“Are you saying that you’re worried about my health?”
“Yeah, and I feel frustrated when I buy something in the size you tell me, and it doesn’t fit you.”
“I’m worried about my health, too, but I feel like I want to eat more of the wrong things when you yell at me for being fat.”
“I’m sorry. I want to help, not hurt you. Why don’t we start taking a walk every night after dinner?”
“Okay, and do me a favor and take me with you when you want to buy me clothes so I can try them on.”
“I think we’ve got a deal.”
Last month, I was asked By Gilda Evans to be a guest blogger. This was another “first” for me which I was very happy to accept. I wrote a post entitled Getting It Back which discusses the most important relationship – the one we have with ourselves. I hope you will find it enjoyable and useful to yourself or someone you know.
Well, of course you are good enough! But why is it we don’t always feel that way?
We come into this life packaged with a mixture of genes and energies ready to take on the world. There is no question at that point, that we are equipped to forge the trail of the life that lies ahead. So why is it that when we journey into adulthood we find that fears and doubt have crept in? It’s true that life repeatedly shapes us as time goes on and often chips away at self-esteem, hopes and dreams, allowing negativity to slip into the cracks. But some of those cracks did not begin in adulthood; they developed during the powerful formative years in childhood.
Well-meaning parents may have repeatedly sent us messages such as:
“Your dreams are fantasies that can never happen, they are silly.” The child feels, “I am silly.”
“Shut up; I don’t care what you think.” The child comes to believe, “There must be something wrong with my thoughts and opinions.”
“Why didn’t you get all A’s like your sister? You can do better.” The child who has already done their best believes that the world, as reflected by their parents, will never see them as good enough. “I can’t do well enough even when I try hardest, so why even try?”
“You have to think of others before yourself.” The child hears, “Others are more important than I am.”
Lastly, one of my favorites for children born back in the day, “This hurts me more than it hurts you,” as they are being spanked. The child internalizes, “Love must always involve some pain.”
Of course, everyone’s childhood is different and the effects of repeated messages vary, but the words parents say frequently to their children during the first ten years of life are critical in their developmental foundation. At the end of that period, the child has some scratches and chips in that positive, enthusiastic, loving spirit that was born into the world.
The child becomes an adolescent where conformity is the watchword. This is the period where children learn how to interact in the world with others and parental messages are not as acceptable as the mores dictated by their peers. Trying to fit in by dressing, talking and behaving like the “in” crowd often robs the adolescent of more of their already fragile individuality.
We reach adulthood and the messages continue. Just listen to how TV, especially commercials, portrays the “ideal” woman or man and how social media can crucify an individual because anonymity allows it. By now, though, we hopefully begin to learn that we do have choices in life and don’t have to be dictated to by anyone. We realize that society will respond to us in certain ways depending upon how we present ourselves. Face to face interaction encourages a more realistic appraisal than social media of how we fit within the world, but that is unfortunately becoming less common. Romantic involvements become fertile ground for recreating the unresolved dramas of childhood. Some of these relationships foster emotional growth that is positive in itself but comes at the cost of more injury to that strong and vital birth spirit. Death, divorce and disease happen.
Many of us later in life begin to realize that who we have become is not who we want to be. We may feel discouraged, that something is missing in our lives. We have lost our true selves playing the game of life. All that programming of the earlier years and the busyness of adult life has hidden our true essence. We may have learned to please others and become neglectful of our own wants and needs.
The good news is that at the core of our being, our true self still exists. It is capable of being found if you begin peeling away and letting go of the layers of guilt, inadequacy, and stress that you have allowed society to place upon you. Begin by realizing that your true happiness does not depend on anyone or anything else. It simply lives inside of you as the joy of your existence. This is what you felt when you were born; it is the true essence of who you really are. Spirituality and meditation can help you find it. If that isn’t enough, play back some of those positive tapes from your childhood. Not all parental messages are negative. My father used to say to me,”You can do anything anyone else can do, and chances are you can do it better.” The bottom line is that you are good enough; you always have been and always will be good enough to accomplish whatever you truly wish to do in life.