Tag Archives: Self-esteem

7 Quotes to Inspire Self-Love

This week you’re going to see a lot of advertising geared towards finding your soulmate or getting the best gift for your significant other. It’s the holiday of love after all, right? But we believe love isn’t just about finding a partner – there are so many different types! Each day this week we’re going to showcase a different “type” of love. Today we want to focus on the love for yourself, because until you can look at yourself with pride and joy you really aren’t capable of truly loving someone or anything else. So go ahead and pick up one of those pink and red bags of chocolate, and keep it for you! You deserve it because you’re awesome. In case you forgot, here are a few great encouraging quotes to help you get in the self-love mood!

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What are your favorite empowering quotes? Share them with us in the comments below! Let the self-love begin! 

How to Give Up What Other People Think of You

gossipWhat other people think about you is none of your business. It’s their business. Wasting your time thinking about what they are thinking about you, serves nothing. Seeking approval is a waste of your time and energy. It will only bring you suffering. It’s not about whether others approve of you but if you approve of you.

This is what counts.

Being popular with the world at the expense of your soul is a true booby prize. How people perceive you reveals more about themselves than it does about you. People will perceive you based on their own conditioning and filters. So don’t take it personally. We sometimes hold back being fully ourselves, or stepping out and living our purpose in a big way because of the fear of being judged and what people will think or say. Here’s the deal: When you put yourself out there in the world, and dare to follow your dreams, it is a risk. It is a vulnerable and courageous act.

People will judge you. People will talk about you. People will project their stuff onto you. It is what it is. In fact some people won’t like you. And they don’t even know you. This is unavoidable. Make peace with this up front. Do not give those that don’t even know you the power to determine your happiness. Do not give even those that know you the power to determine who you should be and what your limits are. Know who you are.

As you accept yourself as you are and as you are not. You become powerful. You consolidate your energy and remain rooted in your center. You become free. When you no longer seek other people’s approval you are free. As you unhook yourself from other people’s validation you become truly powerful. Your soul is already SELF validated. You can please some of the people some of the time but you can’t please all the people all of the time. In fact there will be those that, no matter what you do, will think negatively and never be satisfied. This has nothing to do with you.

Jesus. Bruce Lee. Gandhi. Bob Marley. Martin Luther King Jr. They all had people that didn’t like them. Remember that there really are no enemies. Just those that don’t know you yet and neither themselves. At the end of the day you are the one that has to live with yourself. Even if you do get others approval, if it’s at the expense of yourself, it won’t be truly satisfying. Trying to get people’s approval is a form of control. But in doing so you are the one that ends up controlled.

The energy it takes is not worth it, as it often requires you give up a part of yourself in order to get the approval. It’s expensive. As I often say, if everyone likes you you might want to be concerned. When you follow your heart you will make waves in this world. You will stand out. You will upset some people. You will create change. Life is a daring adventure to be lived with no regrets.It takes true boldness to be yourself fully. People have the right to think whatever they want to think about you. Let that be their business.

So what do you think about you? What other people think about you is none of your business!

Gift to the Soul: The Space of Presence

Photo Credit: Kalliope Kokolis
Photo Credit: Kalliope Kokolis

For many of us this is a season when it feels that we are going faster and faster. Everything’s racing, through school semesters, wrapping up work commitments, entering the holidays; the currents of life are in full tilt.

Given the time of year, one student fell into a period of intense stress resulting from a cycle of classes, studying, working and little sleep. He didn’t realize how long he had neglected to write home until he received the following note:

 Dear Son,
Your mother and I enjoyed your last letter.
Of course, we were much younger then and more impressionable.
Love,
Dad

As you know, it’s not just students. Some months ago a friend described getting caught in this state busy-ness while trying to get her daughter to school. She was busy getting things ready while her daughter was trying to show her something. Every time her daughter would call her over she would say, “Just hang on a moment. I’ll be there in a second.” After several rounds of this, the little four-year old came out of her room tired of waiting. She said to her mother, hands on hips:

“Why are you always so busy? What’s your name? Is it President O’mama or something?”

Along with the speediness we have the sense that there is not enough time. It’s interesting to observe how often we are living with that perception. It is usually accompanied by a squeeze of anxiety:

“I’m not going to be prepared,” and a chain of insecurities. “There’s something around the corner that is going to be too much,” “I’m going to fall short,” “I won’t get something critical done.” There’s this sense that we’re on our way somewhere else and that what’s right here is not the time that matters. We’re trying to get to the point in the future when we’ve finally checked everything off our to-do list and we can rest. As long as this is our habit, we are racing toward the end of our life. We are skimming the surface, and unable to arrive in our life.

Thomas Merton describes the rush and pressure of modern life as a form of contemporary violence. He says:

“…to be surrendering to too many demands, too many concerns, is to succumb to the violence.”

When we’re speeding along, we violate our own natural rhythms in a way that prevents us from listening to our inner life and being in a resonant field with others. We get tight. We get small. We override our capacity to appreciate beauty, to celebrate, to serve from the heart.

Our mindfulness practice offers us the opportunity to pause and rediscover the space of presence. When we stop charging forward and open to what’s here, there’s a radical shift in our experience of being alive. As we touch into this space of Hereness, we access a wisdom, a love and a creativity that are not available when we’re on our way somewhere else.  We are home, in our aliveness and our spirit.

 © Tara Brach
Enjoy this video on: The Space of Presence

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Lessons from kayaking: Finding a Way to Be With Fear

Leaving the Marina with Morro Rock in the background and the MorMost of us spend a lot of our lives tensed up in fear, or pushing against fear.
The fear might be fear of:
  • Something going wrong
  • Not being good enough
  • Not being loved
  • Losing something or someone we hold dear
What fears do you live with?
The key to being with fear is in contacting what is here now, rather than trying to push it away. Here’s a story from the river that helps us understand that.  In kayaking, you learn about what is called a keeper hole. It’s a swirl in the river that catches a boat or a body and pulls it down under the water.  You can drown because you get stuck in that swirling current and you can’t get out of it.  If you get caught in a keeper hole, the only way out is actually to dive right into the center, down as far and deep as you can, toward the bottom, because if you get to the bottom you can swim out the side of the swirl.
So you do the opposite of what your instincts tell you to do.  Your instinct, of course, is to fight your way to the surface.  But it won’t work; you’ll keep getting pulled into the hole.  No, you have to dive down into the hole.
It’s like that with fear.  Our instincts are to pull away, to ignore the fear, or to distract ourselves.  We naturally want to escape the pull, the uncomfortable sensation, of fear.  But the skillful way of dealing with fear, just like the keeper hole, is to go into the center of it.
The training in facing fear is to directly contact it…to lean right in.  This is not something to do if your fear is from trauma.  It could be too overwhelming.  If you are dealing with trauma, you might need someone to work with you on that fear.  So you might try finding a thought that brings up fear,  a mild or moderate fear, and letting yourself feel the sensation.  Breathe right into the place you feel the fear, really letting yourself experience it for a moment.  On the out breath, let the fear disperse into the vastness of space around you, or the ocean you are part of.  See and feel the fear moving out into that larger space.
When you are kayaking on the ocean, or on a large lake, you can sense yourself as part of that spaciousness.  Allow the fear to disperse into the spaciousness.  You might find that it is possible to be with the fear, rather than push it away, when you are aware of your oceanness.
© Tara Brach
Enjoy this talk on Finding the Juice in Fear

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photos by: mikebaird & mikebaird

VOD: Why Ideal Beauty is Photoshopped

Good Morning America showed this viral ad of a model being photoshopped a few days ago. The time lapse clip lasts a little over 30 seconds but you can see how one model is completely transformed for whatever campaign they plan to use the image for. It’s not just that her blemishes are touched up or maybe they add a bit of bronzer to her skin. Her eyes are widened, hair lengthened, legs and neck are extended – basically her entire body is re-done. It almost begs the question of why have a model there in the first place? It almost seems cheaper to CGI what they want.

The deeper message here is that we often hold these magazines and ads up as the epitome of beauty that we are supposed to replicate – but it’s impossible. Even the models that pose for the picture don’t meet these standards. So the real question is: why do we let images like these dictate what we think of ourselves? Let’s stop that.

What do you think of the video? Let us know in the comments below! 

Absolute Cooperation with the Inevitable

Mystic Poppies.The modern-day mystic and Jesuit priest Anthony de Mello once said: “Enlightenment is absolute cooperation with the inevitable.” This statement struck a deep chord within me. It seems to me that what he meant was to be absolutely open to life as it is.

Think about the Gulf Stream in the Atlantic Ocean that flows from the tip of Florida up along the eastern seaboard. If you were to put a straw in the water, aligned with the Gulf Stream, it would move with the flow of water. The water moves through it and carries it along on the current. Everything is aligned; it’s total grace. Now, if it’s misaligned, and it’s not moving with the flow of water, it gets spun around and moves off course.

Aligning ourselves with the flow of aliveness is an essential part of our mindfulness practice. Like the straw, if we move out of alignment, we’re moving away, spinning about, in reaction…in some way unable to be one with the flow of grace. So we seek to stay aligned, letting the flow of life move through us.

What are some ways that we remove ourselves from the channel through which our life flows?

I noticed this happening the other day when I was driving home. I have my own accustomed speed, and the person in front of me was going much, much, much slower. You know what that is like, don’t you? Now, I wasn’t in a rush to get somewhere. I wasn’t on my way to the airport to catch a plane, but it didn’t matter. I was driving at a speed that felt really different from my preferred speed. I was experiencing impatience and anxiety, and it was building. Everything in me was leaning forward. I felt like I couldn’t be okay unless the situation changed.

So I paused, mentally. I recognized that I had a demand that something be different than it was at the moment, and I tried to let go of it. This example is a small thing, but this happens in many ways, some small and some much larger, in our human experience. We get caught in feeling that happiness is not possible unless things change. Consequently, we cause ourselves tremendous unhappiness, because we’re demanding that things be different.

It’s interesting to notice how this happens. I think it arises from our social conditioning about what brings happiness. We are led to believe that we need certain things to be happy: “If I can get this job,” “If I can earn this much money,” “If I can buy a house in that neighborhood,” then I will be happy. Or we might think, if only I were healthier, or thinner, or if my boss quit so I could have a different boss, or if I had a different spouse…and on and on.

We wait for things to be different in order to feel okay with life. As long as we keep attaching our happiness to the external events of our lives, which are ever changing, we’ll always be left waiting for it.

What if we were to pause and align ourselves with the current?
What if we moved with the flow of what is?
What would that mean for you in your life, right now?

Aligning with what is here is a way of practicing presence. It allows us to respond to our world with creativity and compassion.

What is actually happening is that we’re opening to the universal intelligence, the universal love that can flow through us when we’re aligned. When the straw is aligned with the current, the Gulf Stream flows through it. When we’re aligned with the flow of our lives, there’s a universal wisdom and love that flows through us, which is our true nature.

© Tara Brach

Adapted from Radical Acceptance  (2003)

Enjoy this talk on: Absolute Cooperation with the Inevitable

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photos by: hipea & h.koppdelaney

How to Make Friends With the Li’l Inner Demon Voice Inside Your Head

positiveinchallengingBy Lindsey O’Connor

You know that voice that pops up during your low and vulnerable moments and makes you feel even less? The one telling you you’re not good enough, that says your thighs are too big, or your pimple looks like Mount Everest? Or that convinces you not to wear that cute, sexy top because it will show your stomach sticking out way too much in it?

Yeah, that guy. I call it the Li’l Demon.

It’s incredible how convincing and persuasive the Li’l Demon can be and how easy it is to believe it when you’re feeling a little sad, vulnerable or anxious! When something causes me stress, then BOOM! I’m all ears.

Most of the time I am fully conscious that what this voice is saying is far from the logical and rational truth. But that little demon can be deceptively comforting, because it’s my comfortable “go-to” in a stressful situation. It just peeks over my shoulder and says, “Oh, you’re feeling anxious? Let me help you.” ..NOT.

I keep getting this image in my head:

herculues Too bad he’s not some cute, cuddly, fuzzy baby slothy thing saying this to you:

sloth

Here are some ways I deal with this  little inner bully.

1. Don’t force that voice away, don’t try and push that demon out of your mind. The more you want that voice to go away and the more you try to forcefully separate it from your being, the stronger it becomes.

Don’t give it more power and energy by doing that, because that’s what it wants. I say things like,

“Oh hey li’l demon, what’s up? So you’re here today. That’s cool. Do you want some crayons and a coloring book? Cause I’m busy today doing my own thing and enjoying my life, so I don’t have time to listen to you. You can totes chill here for a while, but I choose to focus on things that make me happy and make me feel good about myself.”

Ok, so I don’t go through that extensive of a conversation all the time, but something along those lines. Just greet it, shake hands with it metaphorically, accept that it is a part of you today. But then go about your normal business and don’t feed it any more energy. If you need distractions from it, have a good book on hand. Call a friend to catch up. Go get coffee. Turn on your favorite music and dance or sing.  Get a hug from a co-worker or friend or loved one. Don’t let that li’l demon take over your day. Accept that it is there, give yourself a big hug and go about your business.

2. Send loving energy to where the voice is sending negativity. If the voice (in my case) is telling me that my stomach is huge, bloated and heavy, I accept the fact that those are the thoughts floating through my mind at this point and they shall pass. Then I close my eyes, breathe and hold my stomach and say how much I love it. I send it loving energy. I connect my belly with the rest of my body, which makes me stronger and more whole against that little demon. I focus on how it fills with air each time I breathe deeply. Be stronger than your demon and overcome its negativity with some self love and care.

I know that this guy can pop up at any moment – at work, at school, before an interview, with a significant other, when you’re all alone – so be prepared. Arm your sexy self with tricks and tools that you’re ready with whenever it rears its ugly head. In your car? Pop in your favorite CD and sing like you’ve never sung before. If you’re at work take 5 deep breaths and focus on a task to do.

Be cognizant of when this demon pops up. Is it with the same people? Certain situations? Specific times during the day? See if there is a pattern to it. If there is, you may want to try relieving yourself of those people and situations. Or find trick of how to handle them and the stress in a positive way.

So, all in all, the less attention and energy you give to that demon (aka the less you try and force it away and the less you focus on it) the smaller and smaller it will become.

Do you ever do battle with your “Li’l Demon? How do you make peace with it or get it to shut up? 

VOD: 6 Lessons Kanye West Can Teach Us About High Self-Esteem

These days when you see Kanye West‘s name in the headlines you automatically expect a story about him throwing a temper tantrum at paparazzi, saying something politically incorrect in an interview or tabloid gossip about his girlfriend/reality star Kim Khardashian. It’s true that Kanye West’s antics often detract from the power of the things he is saying, but rest assured he’s saying something you should listen to.

This week he stopped by Jimmy Kimmel Live! to talk about their “Twitter beef.” Kanye began to explain why his emotions get the best of him and the mission he is on to change the world. Kanye’s ambition often gets confused for a lack of gratitude for the opportunities he’s been given, but during the interview he dropped some serious knowledge and advice about what it takes to succeed in today’s world. Regardless of your personal opinion of Kanye, these six lessons are important to take note of for any artist, minority, or person trying to overcome the odds and make a difference.

  1. Don’t sell yourself short – “If I didn’t call myself a genius, I’d be lying to all of you and myself,” Kanye says in an earlier part of the interview. At first listen that is possibly the most arrogant statement, but it proves that Kanye has the utmost faith himself. Take note. If you know you have an ability or a gift to offer the world, don’t wait for someone else to acknowledge it before you embrace it for yourself. You don’t have that kind of time. Embrace your gift and work at it. “I spent 10,000 hours at this, I’ve been working at it my whole life,” Kanye explains. When you put that much effort into something, you don’t have to be humble about it. When you take notice of yourself, everyone else takes notice too.
  2. Don’t limit yourself to one label or category – As human beings we naturally contain multitudes of passions and talents. Don’t force yourself into one small labeled box. If you love art and music, don’t think that you only have to pursue one – that your ideas only can come from one place. Kanye’s battle comes from his frustration of trying to break into couture fashion but not getting the respect he wants as a designer because he became famous as a rapper. His message here is clear: people are going to try and tell you that you can’t do something simply because you come from a different world. They’re wrong. If the passion and the work is there, your ideas are valid no matter what your primary “occupation” or “title” is. Don’t be afraid to go after everything if that’s what you want.
  3. Protect your dreams – The world is full of naysayers, unfortunately. We are not advocating that you attack those naysayers with curse words and violence as Kanye has been known to do, but we do advocate not allowing someone to make you shelve something you believe in. You have to build a wall around those dreams, around your heart that protects it from people saying you can’t do something. Don’t believe people who tell you that your idea is stupid or you should do something else. Use your voice and speak up, even if everyone around you is telling you to be quiet. That’s how you are heard.
  4. Don’t try to fit the mold – This is similar to the last lesson but Kanye nails it a few minutes in when he says, “I refuse to follow those rules where society is set up to control people with low self-esteem – through improper information, with branding and marketing.” We are bombarded by images every day that tell us the “right” way to look and to act and we compare ourselves to these mainstream images. We get conned into thinking that if we don’t fit into that mold that we are doing something wrong, and by allowing ourselves to feel low we are allowing the projectors of those images to climb higher on our backs. Stop the cycle. Get the right information you need to empower yourself. You don’t have to stay down there – there’s enough sun for everyone. You just have to be bold enough to stand up and see for yourself.
  5. Have heroes to aspire to  – Kanye quotes Steve Jobs, Michaelangelo and Jesus as a few of his heroes. He honestly, deep in his bones, believes he has the power to make the same impact as these legends. You should too. Find people who inspire you to be better. Look up to them and make a conscious effort to climb to their level, otherwise what’s the point? We may not reach the level of the pedestal we put them on but Heroes inspire us to reach and push farther than we could on our own.
  6. Set the expectation for mutual respect – Once you’ve convinced yourself that you are a person with a voice and something worth saying, then you have to convince everyone else as well. You do that through respect – you set the expectation that as a person of value (ie, a person period) you deserve a certain level of respect. This means you stand up for yourself when someone falls below that line of respect, but it also means that you treat others with the level of respect you expect them to give you (admittedly, Kanye has some work to do on this last part, at least in public).

What do you think of Kanye’s interview? Is there anything you can take from it? Tell us in the comments below! 

4 Tips for Dealing with Online Haters

shutterstock_76767721-11By: Dr. Kulkarni

With more of the world creating and consuming information on the internet, online behavior, etiquette, and the rules of engagement are becoming increasingly complex.  Basically, online etiquette is virtually nonexistent.  Sitting behind an anonymous computer screen, with an anonymous screen name, many people feel empowered to say things in comment boxes, chat rooms and on boards that would never say in real life.  In some ways, this creates open, honest, unfiltered dialogue.  On the flip side, it really brings out the dark side of people where they unleash all their frustration, anger, and even boredom through their keyboards.

So what to do if you’re an online writer, blogger, tweeter, or anyone who puts any sort of content out there that people can read and comment on?  These are my top tips for surviving and navigating through the world of online “haters”:

  1. Don’t take it personally.  This seems like an obvious one, but it’s good to remind yourself that the people that are writing nasty or negative comments probably don’t know you in real life.  They have not put as much thought and effort into their words as you probably have into yours, and aren’t as invested in what they’re saying and how it might be hurting you.  Most people just have a knee-jerk reaction, comment on the first thing that comes to mind and move on.  Also remember that some of these people are bored, and it’s much easier for them to tear someone else down than to do something constructive themselves.  So keep a cool head, your emotions in check, resist the urge to respond, and move on.
  2. Know what you’re getting yourself into.  When you voluntarily post your work, writing, or thoughts onto the world wide web, you are by definition exposing yourself to the world (or at least anyone that has access to the site you are posting on).  Take this into consideration before you put something out there on social media, a blog, etc.  If you are writing something that you know in your heart is controversial, that doesn’t necessarily make it wrong to put it out there, but be prepared for the backlash.  And don’t act surprised when it comes.  This is all a part of learning how to handle your online persona.  Having a thick skin is a part of it.  The other part of it is understanding how the majority are going to perceive something, and then tailoring your message to reach your audience most effectively.
  3. Realize that disagreement can be healthy and be utilized as constructive feedback.  On the flip side of the first point, if you see a comment that is well thought out, and written in a respectful manner, but just happens to disagree with you, don’t automatically discount that person as a “hater.”  Varying points of view are necessary for productive dialogue, and people reading your words have different degrees of life experience, perspective, and insight.  Not to mention different value systems and ways of looking at the world.  When something goes out to a broad audience, you should expect dissention.  You can sometimes utilize the feedback to your advantage to help you evolve your own point of view or understand another’s perspective, which will only make you better.
  4. Stay focused on your message.  If you’re reading this, you probably understand Law of Attraction basics.  So you know that split energy or negativity within yourself will cause disturbance in your energy and potentially attract haters.  Try to come from a clear, pure space of love and positive intention in all of your work and writing.  You will never be able to please all of the people all of the time, but focusing on your own strongly positive intention and message will help keep you from being brought down by people at a different energy frequency.  In other words, stay in your own positive mind space, and let your work and words flow from there.  The haters will eventually get bored and move on as well.

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Dr. Kulkarni is a New York City based physician, spiritual author, and personal coach.  Find her @Dr_Kulkarni or visit www.leveragingthought.com to learn more.

How to Define Success for Yourself

hikingPeople like to be comfortable. We also like to make sense out of the chaos that surrounds us.

We find the best way of doing this is to rank and organize everything around us; including accomplishments. It can become so easy to see a family member or a friend living the life that “you should be living,” and look upon your own accomplishments with much less fervor. So what if I asked you if you’ve lived up to your life and career expectations; what would you say? How would you judge yourself?

The truth is that everyone will have a different answer, because we all have a different definition for success.

You’re a Unique Snowflake

Like I mentioned before, it’s supremely important that you don’t compare yourself to friends and coworkers.  Seeing the accomplishments of others and trying to measure up to their standards makes it nearly impossible to be satisfied with yourself. This is especially true in regards to social media. As enjoyable as it can be, social media provides people the opportunity to show only a “highlight reel” of their best moments. This is often self-deflating as you and I only see our bloopers.

The thing is is that there’s no traditional finish line in life, because life isn’t a race. There’s no timer telling you that you have to have a college education by the age of 23, be married by 28 and start having children by 30. At least, I hope there’s not, or someone’s going to have to take back the degree I finally earned at the ripe old age of 33.

Look in the Mirror

It may be hard to admit, but if you look hard enough, you’ll most likely find someone in the world that is better than you at something. For example, I like to think I’m the best video game player on earth. I try and remind my 10-year-old boy of that “fact” every day. Nevertheless, I think we could both agree that it’s not entirely true.

That’s why it’s so important to set realistic goals that are both manageable end enjoyable. There’s no goal in the world that’s too large if you set your mind to it; you just have to take the right path to get there.

A good metric to determine your own success is to simply compare what you’ve done in the past with what you’re doing right now. What have you accomplished in the last year? Are you happier now than you were six months ago? What have you done to improve yourself?

You might surprise yourself and realize that maybe you’ve done more than you thought. You might even decide that it’s time to make a change. Either way, never forget that it’s never too late to do something big.

Start With What You Know

Here are some of the questions I asked myself. Your questions and answers may vary:

  • Was I a successful writer five years ago? Nope. Am I now? I’d like to think so!
  • Are you more fit than you were last year? Not even close. This is something I need to work on.
  • Am I happier now than when I first separated from the Army? Infinitely!
  • Have I become a more well-rounded person in the last two years? I can honestly say, yes!
  • Did I own a house 10 years ago? No. Do I now? Yes!

It’s not a foolproof plan, nor does it fix every problem, but it’s a start. Ask yourself, and you’ll find the answers you’re looking for.

Take hold of your life today and make the changes that will ultimately make you happier, more successful and lead you to your dreams. Only you can determine if you’re successful, so make sure it happens.

Photo courtesy of Johnson Cameraface.

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