Change is hard at first, messy in the middle, and gorgeous at the end.

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People tend to be resistant to change. Change brings uncertainty, loss of control, extra work, and concern that you won’t be enough to make it happen. However, change also brings personal growth, increased opportunities, and offers the chance to make your life better than it was yesterday. Change can be hard and messy, but change is always worth it in the end.

Why Are People Resistant to Change

Our brains are hardwired to be resistant to change. Even when we are presented with an idea or an opportunity that is undoubtedly better than our current situation, we see change as a threat, which often triggers our fight or flight response. So why do we always see change as a threat?

Uncertainty and Fear of the Unknown

Change is hard to initiate and accept because we don’t know exactly what the outcome of that change will be. Even if the outcome is somewhat guaranteed, we still think of things that can go wrong. We often feel that it is safer to remain exactly where we are.

Loss of Control

When we know exactly what we are doing in our day-to-day life, we feel in control of everything that happens. We know how our brand of computer works, we know how to do our current job with ease, and we know how to make the same meal we’ve eaten over one hundred times.

If we change something about our day-to-day lives, we lose that sense of control. A new job means that we need to learn how that company works, a new computer means we might not know the correct programs to use and cooking a new meal might require learning a new cooking skill.

Extra Work

Sometimes we resist change because we know making that change is going to require extra work. Change does not happen without putting in some effort, and that can make it hard to initiate change in the first place.

How to Overcome Resistance to Change

While people tend to be resistant to change, there are several ways we can overcome that resistance and make changes that benefit our lives in many ways.

Weigh the Risks

As mentioned above, we are resistant to change because we don’t know exactly what the outcome will be. A good way to get around that uncertainty is the assess what you are risking by making that change. The worst possible outcome is typically not as bad as we originally thought. It’s also important to weight out what you are risking by not making the change.

Take a Learning Approach

Change is inevitable in life. It is going to happen whether we like it or not. Why not embrace the changes and view them as an opportunity to grow? When we take on a learning approach, everything becomes a chance to expand our knowledge, skills, and talents, and we fear change less because we know that we will improve ourselves along the way.

Consider the Benefits of Change

We cannot move forward in life without change, and change is a beautiful thing! Let’s consider the benefits:

  • Change brings personal growth and development.
  • Change leads us to where we want to be.
  • Change brings excitement to life.
  • Change makes us stronger.
  • Change causes a ripple effect and leads to larger, more ideal changes.
  • Change allows us to see things in a new way.
  • Change brings flexibility.
  • Change allows us to see and have more opportunities.

With all of these amazing benefits, how could we say no to change?

Remember, change is not an easy roller coaster to get on, and it isn’t always a straightforward process. However, the result is always better than staying where you were and remaining the person you were yesterday.

Continue ReadingChange is hard at first, messy in the middle, and gorgeous at the end.

Evil is evil. Lesser, greater, middling. It’s all the same.

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Can you think of a time when you did something wrong, but tried to convince yourself it was not so bad?

If we are honest, we can all attest to doing this. Maybe it was a lie we told our parents, a mean word we said about a classmate, or that small candy bar we picked up from the store without paying for.

Whatever the intensity of our actions, they are still wrong.

But sometimes, we feel bad about our actions, so we try to justify them. But the truth is that evil is evil, no matter how you spin it. What is wrong will always be wrong.

This need to convince ourselves and rationalize that our actions are not really wrong is self-justification. We come up with reasons why what we did was okay, or why it was not as bad as something else.

What is Self-Justification?

Self-justification is one of the defense mechanisms that our brains use to protect ourselves. In this case, we protect ourselves from feeling guilty and feeling bad about ourselves. We do this by convincing ourselves that our poor choices were the best we could do, or that they aren’t as bad as other evils.

Self-Justification is Self-Preservation

Have you ever done something that you knew was wrong, and then been unable to sleep at night? Maybe you spent hours thinking about the situation and feeling bad, with a sickness clenching your stomach.

When we justify our actions, we are actually engaging in self-preservation. By justifying ourselves, we protect ourselves from this self-torture that we otherwise inflict upon ourselves.

Accepting We Were Wrong

However, this is a double-edged sword. While self-justification helps us sleep at night, it doesn’t change the fact that what we did was wrong. Evil is evil, no matter how big or small it is. So it is important to accept what we did was wrong, even if it hurts us.

By accepting what we did was wrong, we not only become stronger, but we can also save relationships. If we constantly try to convince ourselves that we were justified in our actions, we can never change! This can break relationships and result in more disaster.

For example, if you said something mean to your partner, you can justify it by saying you were angry or that your partner didn’t do what you asked them to do. But being mean was still wrong. If you keep justifying it, you will never work on being more careful with your words. Your partner might forgive you the first few times, but after a while, your relationship will be negatively affected.

Therefore, it is important to stop justifying and admit that we are wrong so that we can then change how we act to improve the situation. Remember, self-justification is a means of creating a new narrative that makes us feel good. But what is wrong will always be wrong, and it is up to us to try to do better. Admitting we are wrong takes courage, but it is worth it.

Continue ReadingEvil is evil. Lesser, greater, middling. It’s all the same.

You never look good trying to make someone else look bad.

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We’ve all been there; you’re in a room with a few friends, and one of them starts talking negatively about a friend that isn’t in the room. How does that make you feel? Do you feel like the friend in the room is a good person for bringing these negative qualities to your attention, or do you feel negatively towards the person in the room for trying to make someone else look bad?

I have a feeling that most of you picked the latter. When we try to make other people look bad, we hurt someone else’s reputation as well as our own. Before we dive into how making others look bad makes us look bad, it is important to understand why we try to make others look bad in the first place.

Why We Try to Make Others Look Bad

Low Self-esteem

People with low self-esteem tend to judge themselves constantly. It’s common for them to project their self-judgments onto other people as a way to lessen the judgment they place on themselves.

In addition, people with low self-esteem may feel that criticizing others prevents people from criticizing them. If they can get the negative attention (imagined or real) off of themselves, they receive less judgment in the end.

Unhappiness

Unhappy people don’t want to be alone in their unhappiness. Seeing other people happy when we aren’t happy ourselves can cause jealousy, and making other people unhappy can make us feel better about ourselves for a short time.

Gaining Attention

Gossip always brings a lot of attention to the person spreading it because people always want to know what’s going on. Spreading gossip can give people a sense of power and belonging because they have information that other people want.

Tearing Others Down Doesn’t Bring You Up

Making someone else look bad might make you feel good for a while, but eventually, you will realize how your actions reflect negatively on your character. Tearing others down has consequences.

People Will Trust You Less

If you are always gossiping, judging others, or making other people look bad, other people start to catch on and realize that you’re probably not someone they should trust. Putting other people down can ruin your relationships because no one wants a friend who hurts others to make themselves look better.

You’ll Gain the Wrong Kind of Attention

As mentioned above, some people belittle others for attention; however, making other people look bad doesn’t bring the kind of attention you want. Do you want people always coming to you to point out another person’s flaws, or do you want quality friendships who support you when you need help?

Negativity Attracts Negativity

The Law of Attraction states that positivity brings positive outcomes, and negativity brings negative outcomes. If you are unhappy or have low self-esteem, bringing others down by speaking negatively about them is only going to attract more negativity to your life. Remember, misery loves company.  

How to Actually Make Yourself Look Good

Putting others down is not the way to make yourself look good. So, what should you do?

Recognize That Your Only Competition is Yourself

In life, we should always strive to be better than we were yesterday. No one has the power to do that for us and relying on other people to make us look better will yield fruitless results. Make an effort to bring positivity into your life by developing new skills, forming new relationships, practicing mindfulness, and truly being kind to other people.

Remember, it is up to you to make yourself look good. And you never do so by making someone else look bad.

Continue ReadingYou never look good trying to make someone else look bad.

Accept what is. Let go of what was. And have faith in what will be.

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Pain can cause us to deny what is happening or hold onto it for too long. Maybe your partner cheated on you or you lost your wallet. Life constantly challenges us, and there are millions of situations that can hurt us.

So how do we deal with these situations? We can fight them and get angry, or we can get extremely sad. Another response is to question “why did this happen to me?” Some people also choose to avoid the situation and pretend nothing is happening.

But all of these responses don’t truly help us feel better or move on.

What’s the best answer, then?

Acceptance.

Acceptance is one of the most important aspects of mindfulness, and a practice that is not only promoted by monks but psychologists as well.

When you accept a situation, you avoid amplifying your pain. Acceptance means simply acknowledging your thoughts and your experiences rather than judging it as good or bad.

How to Practice Acceptance

Avoid Judgment

When we are in any situation, one of our first tendencies as humans is to label. We want to label everything as good or bad. When we go out for lunch, we make a judgment about the food, the ambience, the service, and the company. Before bed, we label our day as good or bad. We label our outfits as good or bad. We label our haircut as good or bad. We even label friendships as good or bad. We are constantly labeling: good or bad.

Acceptance, on the other hand, involves letting go of labels. Letting go of judgment. Just acknowledge what is.

Acknowledge

Sometimes, people don’t like the term “acceptance”. It makes them feel that you have to be okay with everything that happens, even if it is hurtful or unjust, or that you can’t do anything to improve the situation. That’s not true at all!

The term “acceptance” simply means “acknowledge”. You acknowledge, without labels. When you acknowledge something, you notice it and experience it. Then, if you think you need to take action, you can do that.

So if someone hurts you, acceptance does not mean you have to be okay with it and come back for more. Acceptance simply means you acknowledge that this person did something to you, and you felt hurt. It can also mean acknowledging that you want to set some boundaries in this relationship. 

Find Solutions

When you accept something, you don’t waste time and energy complaining, blaming, or criticizing. Rather, when you accept, you have the power to actually find a solution. You can acknowledge what went wrong and what the best way to move forward is. Then you can take that action without being emotionally charged.

Letting Go

The beauty of acceptance is that when you acknowledge a painful situation without any labels, it is a lot easier to let go.

For example, if your partner cheats on you, rather than blaming or criticizing or complaining, you acknowledge the facts. Someone you trusted immensely hurt you.

By accepting this and avoiding labels, you remove the emotional charge of anger or pain. Now you can think logically.

Are you okay with it? Do you want to give them another chance?

Whatever you choose, yes or no, acceptance gives you the power to let go of the negative emotions from this experience. It gives you the power to move on.

Remember, learning to practice acceptance is the gateway to more peace. When you accept, you can let go of the heavy baggage that pain, hurt, blame, criticism, and complaints bring.

Continue ReadingAccept what is. Let go of what was. And have faith in what will be.

Come on, Mr. Frodo. I can’t carry it for you…but I can carry you!

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Can I just say that when it comes to our circle of friends, we all need a Samwise Gamgee in it? Sean Astin (remember him as Mikey from The Goonies?)  plays Frodo’s (played by Elijah Wood) best friend through the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. In The Return of the King, Frodo Baggins is the ringbearer of the one ring that rules them all.

On their mission to destroy the ring and restore peace to Middle Earth, Frodo is slowly being overtaken by the ring’s power. Sam has been his biggest supporter and friend, even when Gollum tried to turn Frodo against Sam. While embracing Frodo on the slope of Mount Doom, Sam finds the strength and stamina to pick up Frodo and carry him into the volcano to destroy the ring once and for all.  

LOTR The Return of the King - "I Can't Carry It For You... But I Can Carry You"

While we all need friends like Sam, to help us weather the storms together, we also need to be like Sam to our friends. Having people who care about you and are there for you during difficult times can ease your burdens. And it feels amazing to be the friend that brings someone that kind of comfort during their dark times. Even if they just want to sit in the dark for a while, you can sit there with them, so they aren’t alone.

Continue ReadingCome on, Mr. Frodo. I can’t carry it for you…but I can carry you!

Decide what kind of life you actually want. Then say no to everything that isn’t that.

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Have you ever wondered why you are willing to live a life that isn’t your ideal life? Or maybe you’ve wondered why you can’t seem to say no to things that aren’t serving you or making you happy. Let’s take a look at why people accept less than they want and figure out how you can “Decide what kind of life you actually want. Then say no to everything that Isn’t that.”

Why We Settle

People decide to settle for what they have or what they can get for several reasons.

  • We get comfortable with the way things currently are.
  • We think we don’t deserve better than what we have.
  • We are emotionally attached to what we have.
  • We are afraid of taking risks to get what we want.
  • We deny that our current life isn’t what we want.
  • We base what we want on the lives of other people and not on what we actually want.

No matter what your reason for settling is, it prevents you from getting the life you want.

The Difficulty of Saying No

Another thing that prevents us from living our ideal life is not being able to say no to things we don’t want.

One reason we struggle to say no is that we don’t want to create conflict. We think that refusing someone’s request will put us at odds with that person. Similarly, we may not say no because we don’t want to disappoint someone or ruin a relationship with them. In addition, we might think that saying no will hurt our chances of future opportunities or we feel like we’ll regret saying no in the future.

Saying yes to things isn’t always bad, but saying yes to everything puts you in a precarious situation and fills your valuable time with tasks that you never wanted to do.

How to Start Living the Life You Want

If your life isn’t what you want it to be, you can always take change it for the better. Here are four ways you can start living the life you want.

Look at Your Current Life

To start living your ideal life, you first need to take a good look at your current life. What about your life isn’t what you want it to be? Think about the many areas of your life: your relationships, your home, your job, your schedule, your hobbies, your habits, etc.

Dream a Little Bit

In addition to analyzing your current life, take some time to dream about your ideal life. A good way to do this is to take out a piece of paper and write a story about an ideal day in your life like it already happened. Be specific and add as much detail as possible. Then read your story over and see what changes you need to make to achieve that life.

Take Action

Now that you know what you want out of life, take action to make the changes you want to make. Outline 5 steps you need to take to make each change, and focus on devoting your energy to one change at a time.

Learn to Say No

While you are building the life you want, it is important that you learn to say no to what you don’t want. Your time needs to be devoted to what matters to you and what makes you thrive. Say no to anything that doesn’t support your ideal life.

You always have choices in life. You can settle for the life you have, or you can make the life you want. You can say yes to things you don’t want to do, or you can say no and reserve your time for things that serve you.

Continue ReadingDecide what kind of life you actually want. Then say no to everything that isn’t that.

Your identity is your most valuable possession. Protect it.

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In The Incredibles, Elastigirl tells her children to protect their identities before she goes off to help their father, Mr. Incredible. She says it is their most valuable possession. 

The most valuable possession (The Incredibles)

In our oversaturated age of digital media, and in particular social media, images of other people’s lives bombard us. Carefully crafted highlight reels of people’s lives are a click away. I think for many young people, this adds to confusion and unhappiness during an already difficult time. And even for us older folks, paying too much attention to it could unhappiness or make us forget who we really are.

There is only one of you and you are important. There is a reason why you are here. Don’t be a copy of someone else or what you think society wants you to be.

The truth is, there are a lot of people out there who have no idea who they are. And these people will think nothing of telling you who you are. Don’t listen to them.

You need to discover who you are and be that person. You never know who you might inspire or help by just being you. As a matter of fact, our world needs who you were made to be.

If you are having trouble understanding or rediscovering who you are, a wrote a post about how you can tap into those parts of you again. You can read it here.

Continue ReadingYour identity is your most valuable possession. Protect it.

Love isn’t something you find. Love is something that finds you.

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In our society and culture, a lot of emphasis is placed on finding true love. For some of us, it becomes our biggest priority. And who doesn’t want to find it? Finding your “person” enhances your life in so many ways! I love that I have found my person to enjoy adventures with. The problem is that sometimes we equate happiness with our relationship status. Some of us aren’t happy unless we are in a relationship.

Have you ever noticed that there have been times when you fell in love when you least expected it? You were walking your own path, enjoying your life and somehow you ended up meeting someone and falling in love? It’s funny how life works that way.

When you are actively looking for love, ask yourself what your real motivation is. What is the rush to find someone so quickly? Perhaps you are feeling lonely, or you hold the belief that real happiness only occurs when you are in a relationship.

If you struggle with needing to be in a relationship, I hear you. For years I had a very co-dependent mindset, and only felt whole and happy if I was in a relationship. Even if the relationship was dysfunctional – and many times, dysfunctional was a nice way to describe them!

Many times, the reason why our hearts are hungry for a relationship is because we are focused on external validation and approval. We approach it from a place of lack. We don’t feel like we are enough as we are on our own. When we do this, we put ourselves at risk for all sorts of unhealthy dynamics and mental anguish.

In a previous post, I talked about the dangers of going down this path. I talked about my own journey of losing myself in relationships and how destabilized you can become. I also wrote about how I overcame this mindset. You can read about it here

The truth is, when you put your key to happiness in a relationship, or another person’s pocket as they say, you are risking a lot. At any moment, that relationship could end. And it can be by them leaving or by death. You have zero control over the very thing you have decided to place all your happiness on.

The relationship also becomes volatile quickly because you have so much to lose if it doesn’t work out. You become dependent on your partner for your wellbeing, which is not only unhealthy for both of you, but an incredible about of pressure to put on someone. It’s unfair and your partner will quickly feel the heaviness of it.

It will bring out the worst in you. Because you have so much to lose, you will find yourself resorting to controlling and manipulative behaviors you never thought you’d do. And this will make you feel worse about yourself because at the end of the day, you don’t want to be the person who does that. At least that is what happened in my case.

One of the best analogies I’ve ever heard about healthy relationship is this: Think of holding out your hand, palm up. When you are secure with yourself and coming from a place of abundance, you hold your palm open. When the bird gently lands on it, you don’t close your fist because if you did, you would crush the bird. You trust that the bird will come back when it flies away. You don’t manipulate it into staying. You give it the freedom to come and go as it pleases, knowing that it has bonded to you and will want to come back.

When you are coming from a place of lack and need for approval, when the bird lands on your palm, you end up crushing it. Not because you want to, but because you are so desperate to feel loved and needed, you don’t want to let it go. So, you inadvertently smother and crush it and it dies.

When you focus on your own path and creating a life that brings you joy on your own, the right people will come into your life. They will complement and enhance your life, and you will contribute in that way to theirs, too.

Continue ReadingLove isn’t something you find. Love is something that finds you.