We've all had that thought that crosses our mind: "Geez, had I known this ten years ago," or, "I wish I did this last year!"
Of course life is a process and being aware of what we didn't do last year is helpful to get us moving forward this year. We can't progress until we've gained some knowledge, experience, or perhaps had some discomfort. We have to be ready.
We all make bad decisions at times, due often to a lack of intuition. We may be unaware of the impacts certain choices can make, or we simply don't know how to make a different choice. Consider the teenager who feels alone and wants to fit in, and with innocent disregard for the long-term impacts her choices may lead her, chooses to try a cigarette.
We know that heavy drinking is bad, yet sometimes we choose to drink more than is good for us. We know that sugar is bad, yet sometimes we choose to eat way more than is good for us. We know that managing our stress is good, but often we choose to overwhelm our agendas way more than is good for us.
The trouble is, the good things are often the difficult things. They're difficult for mainly two reasons: 1. We're actually not motivated to change. 2. We're missing information or tools that will alter the face of change into one that's not so scary.
If you can identify with having challenges and discomforts in your life that keep preventing you from making progress, then let's first determine something that matters so much to you; something that's worth all your time and attention. Something that makes you say, this difficulty is worth it. To bring greater clarity to this, I'd like to share a personal example with you...
Someone had asked me recently, at what point in your life did you experience "the switch" from the lifestyle you once knew to the lifestyle you live now?
To avoid sharing too many unnecessary personal details, the subject in reference, in essence, is personal growth.
It took me a minute to find my answer. At first I said, I've been engaging in self-development since I was 16 years old.
But this person knew there had to be a more precise point in time when I experienced a shift in mindset. She said, right, you were engaging in self-development since 16, but at what point did you really notice things needed to change?
And then I finally remembered: it's my daughter!
It wasn't until she was over 18 months old that I realized I needed to change. I was dissatisfied with the role model I was being for her. How could I tell her one thing, but then do another? I knew that for me, I wasn't proud of my lifestyle - I was embarrassed by it - and passing that along to her was something I couldn't live with. I kept seeing a life for us that was not the destination of the path we were currently on.
More than anything, I want my daughter to know that she's not alone in anything she does - I'll be there to celebrate her wins, and help her through her challenges. I always want her to feel joyful and respected around me, and to think of me fondly (parents, ya gotta believe!).
As her mother, I believe it is my responsibility to provide her with the the absolute best care, and to give her the best support; to guide her toward opportunity!
I. Am. Her. Role Model! I accept this job, I accept this opportunity and I'm committed to giving it my absolute best.
I get one life to live...I'm all in. She was, and continues to be, my number one inspiration and motivation for demonstrating how much we are truly capable of. When we go all in, geez...life feels like the greatest gift. And why shouldn't it? Because it is!
But here's a curious thought: when I was asked that question about "the switch" I had added, I don't know why it was a matter of having a child that motivated me to get myself together.
My daughter was a stimulus for me to change, that's for sure. But, had she not come along, should I have just continued my destructive lifestyle that included smoking, drinking and careless indulgences? How come I wasn't good enough to do that for myself?
She'll always be my number one motivation, but if I want my daughter to learn healthy habits, I must demonstrate healthy habits. And to demonstrate healthy habits, you can't fake it!!!
Along my journey to be an excellent role model for my daughter, I discovered I need an excellent self-esteem. I need to recognize myself as a valuable individual. I need to practice forgiveness - for myself and others. And I deserve better.
We must nurture ourselves. We must take special care to support our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing.
Whatever it is that motivates you to do better - whether it's your children, your partner, a friend, or the people you serve - the root of your success lies in how well you care for yourself.
It's crucial to first recognize ourselves as valuable, accept that we deserve amazing experiences/people/things, and accept that we matter. After all, that's what we want our loved ones to believe about themselves, right?
Do not confuse this, however, with narcissism. The narcissist does not accept responsibility for their contribution to a problem. The narcissist expects others to take action. The narcissist takes the path of least resistance; the path that lacks learning, growth and wellness.
Have you ever heard the phrase: nothing changes until you do. If you're ready to get ready, you're here to work.
What would you give to make your world brighter and more vibrant? Genuine giving - or hard work, you might call it - is one way to open the door to vibrancy. It is hard work because there are days - maybe weeks - that don't feel so grand, bright, and vibrant. When you have that genuine compassion for your Self, the hard work becomes worth it.
As you waver with your self-compassion, you'll likely waver with your choices. You can expect to find yourself doing the things that aren't supportive of your greatest wellness. There will be days you'll be lenient with consuming your vices, whether it's chocolate, alcohol, chips or television. But as you bring your attention back to why making healthier choices matters to YOU, you'll find the strength to get right back to business.
It gets easier the more your practice.
So...are you ready to get ready? If you've made it this far: Wow! I'll say you are! Here are several stepping stones you can hop on today:
1. Work on your issues. We all have - or have had - some serious issues! Don't let anyone fool you into thinking they've had no trouble in their personal life. They're either lying, or in denial. You'll find that working on your issues opens up some really cool doors. And if you're unwilling to be brave and face those fears, the doors remain closed, and nothing improves.
Schedule an appointment with a therapist. Tell that person directly you want to improve your self-esteem, and they'll know what to do next. And shop around! You don't have to pick the first therapist you meet. Think of it as an interview. You are, after all, hiring this person to work for you!
2. Practice Affirmations. Affirmations are a mind-blowing tool. They change the way your brain is wired! You can make yourself believe ANYTHING! You already do it all day long, every single day.
If you wake up to clouds in the sky and tell yourself the day is no good because the sun isn't shining, you've already sealed the deal. You may step on something, hurt yourself and naturally feel angry, then yell out some obscenity; you'll feel the disappointment with a no-sunshine-day and have poor energy; you'll begrudgingly go to work and bother nearly everyone around you because sarcasm and complaints are all you think about!
Contrarily, you could wake up to clouds in the sky and say to yourself, It's a brand new day! It would be nice if the sun is shining but this is what life has given today and I'm happy to be alive! What new things will I learn today? What great experiences will I have? I'm so excited to live today!
Be honest with yourself. Do you really WANT to live feeling unenthused, disappointed, and lifeless? It really is as simple as changing the way we think. Here are a few ideas:
I love my body, therefore I nourish it with good food, beverages, and thoughts.
I am choosing a healthy body. I am choosing a healthy mind. I am choosing a healthy lifestyle.
I love to move my body because it makes me strong and energetic.
I forgive myself for the choices I've made.
I drink plenty of water because I love giving my body what it needs.
I am healing from the inside out.
3. Journal daily. The purpose of journaling is to assist your mind with processing the thousands of thoughts you have every day. Physically writing out what you're thinking takes time, therefore giving you the ability to slow down your mind, figure things out, and then move forward.
Journaling supports your creative thinking ability. In the process of writing, you can see your thoughts from multiple angles. Without journaling, your mind may be jumbling a few nagging thoughts that are causing you feel to frustrated, exhausted, angry or sad. Start writing out what's making you feel that way, and then you can begin to ask questions such as: How can this change? Who can help me? What's one thing I can do differently?
Be as creative as you can possibly be with your responses. Ignore the care to make sense of what you're writing. Just. Write.
4. Take a walk without excess noise. Leave your phone. This is your opportunity to listen to what's going on inside of you. You really don't need to check social media. You don't need to look at email. You don't need to do any shopping...
Be willing to feel awkward without your phone. Take a deep breath in through your nose and notice what you smell. Feel the air on your face. Look around and notice what you see. Listen to what's happening around you. If being without distractions is a serious challenge for you, give yourself a time limit to try this out. You don't have to go for a 5-mile walk. It could be 5 minutes! But if you're looking to make some progress, you will need to do this at least a few times a week.
Yes, it's new. It's difficult. It's challenging.
That's what growth feels like! And it's worth it!
If you're interested in being ready for change, you'll want to be honest with yourself if you're willing to endure some new and challenging things. When your answer is yes, write the following reminder down and place it in a location where you will see it frequently...
One foot in front of the other.