Tag Archives: Self-reflection

How to Own Your Flaws Like a Champ

Freedom“Hi, my name is Yael and I’m a flirt. It’s embarrassing for me. I don’t like it.”

Believe it or not, this was progress.

This is the conversation I had with myself in my room several months ago, before I fell asleep. A fairly revealing talk with my best friend left me thinking. As she had (multiple times) before, she told me that I’m a “flirt.” That “everyone” knew this and it was just a part of who I was. This offended me, so I ignored it – like we all ignore things what we wish to avoid and pretend never existed…ever. But I soon came to realize that “avoidance” is a silly and detrimental thing.

Surprise! None of us are perfect. We ALL know this, yet we have trouble looking at ourselves once we realize that we, in fact, aren’t perfect (whatever “perfect” means). We all have qualities that need fine-tuning or adjusting. To ignore them is to do ourselves a disservice. So let’s empower ourselves and get to tuning!

Years and years of self-analysis, frustration, shamelessly crying, and over-thinking have led me to a place where I know how to “edit” myself pretty effectively and relatively painlessly. Here are some tips I’ve learned that may help you achieve a place of calm and self-acceptance:

  1. Find your cave. It doesn’t have to be a cave. It can be your bed, the corner of your room, your favorite lawn chair, or even your local ice creamery (I mean…why not). It mostly just needs to be a place you call your own—one you feel blissfully comfortable in. This is your quiet place. Your place to think.
  2. Get comfortable. We’re about to do some fairly uncomfortable things, so don’t make the situation worse. Use the restroom, make sure you’re properly hydrated, and put on some sweat pants.
  3. Reflect. Think about your daily actions. Try to hone in on the things that didn’t feel right or perhaps upset you.
  4. Analyze like you’ve never analyzed before. Try to look at those little bits more carefully and figure out where they are coming from. Is this a recurring pattern? Is it triggered by something else? What can you do to reverse this? What does it make you feel?
  5. Let it all out. Now that you’ve picked yourself apart, you’ve got to organize! You can’t let these thoughts continue to stew in your brain and transform into a frightening monster you’re likely to run away from (because we’ve been running for far too long). To do this, you should write it down or say it aloud. I personally prefer the latter (though I do write quite frequently as well). When you say your issue out loud, it’s almost as if you are transforming it into an entity that is outside of your self. You hear it from a distance, and it becomes less personal, less internal, and you start to warm up to the idea that it can and should be worked with. The same goes for writing, or really any expressive tool. Once it’s out there, in the open and out of your head, it’s manageable. It’s more concrete. It’s a real, tangible thing you can handle.
  6. Put your thinking cap on and brainstorm. At this point, you should try to think of solutions for your problem. You don’t have to do this alone if you feel comfortable enough discussing it with a trusted other (but always trust yourself, first and foremost). Think of ways you can change the aspects of yourself that are weighing you down. If you come up with something, I suggest trying to put it into a short, witty mantra so you can carry it around with you in your head, all day every day. If you don’t come up with a solution, it’s not the end of the world. A lot of the time we won’t. It’s important to acknowledge that merely getting it out there in the open is beneficial in itself. The solution will come with time.
  7. Hop on to the flip side. Get positive! Just like you were once required to do when editing someone’s rough draft in high school English class, it is pertinent that you point out some flaws you may want to address (or keep as part of your quirky bits of flair), but ALSO, and very importantly, make note of the things you really like. When you analyze yourself, you need to also praise yourself for and reflect upon your positives. The things you love about yourself and that others love about you. This creates level-headedness, self-confidence, and self-esteem. Things that suffer when we acquire a tunnel-vision-focus on our personal flaws. You’re awesome. You’re great. Be patient with yourself. You wouldn’t throw out a car just because it needed a few routine maintenance checks—that would be silly. So why would you treat your self-esteem and self-confidence like that? Don’t do it. Just don’t do it. You deserve better than that!

Like most things in this world, it comes back to balance. Treat yourself with care. Do not beat yourself to a pulp with your flaws, and do not raise yourself up to the highest peak with compliments. Do not be afraid to make adjustments you really think will better you as an individual, but do not be too hasty to alter all the little things within you that make you, well… you. This process takes practice, but that practice will lead you to a comfortable place that no amount of avoidance could ever get you. I’m still working to get there, but I can’t wait.

 

There is no reason to think

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 There is no need to think. I said that once, I thought it often (yes, I see the contradiction here) and I stand by it.

There is never any need to think.

It is hard to accept this idea, I know. One goes straight to working, making, fixing, planning. The everyday tasks organized by mind, by thoughts, by explanations and definitions, by understanding.

I go somewhere else. I go to the place from which life is created. From which my life is being created. This place is not one of thinking, but of being. And of experiencing.

I was there when I chose to move to California. I said “yes” in jest without a minute of hesitation, yet I arrived at San Francisco airport three months later.

I was there when I realized I wanted to marry Christopher, though I’d known him only for three weeks. I thought about dolphins and whales at the time when this realization descended upon me.

I was there yesterday when, lost in pain and confusion, I could not see a way out. “Love” came the solution. Not figured out, not thought out, not devised nor contrived.

There was no thinking involved. There was never any thinking involved in the key moments of my life. The most crucial choices were not the result of a careful deliberation but of a sudden, clear and undeniable experience.

An experience, not understanding.

And if this way, this way of taking the most important steps, lead me to happiness and comfort — surely taking the smallest steps in this way will bring nothing else.

Surely there is never any need to think.

More by Pausha Foley:

It’s You.

Is happiness a myth?

Don’t give your power away.

See more at http://sticksandstories.com/no-reason-to-think/

Envy as a Catalyst for Change (Part 2)

139378542_825107ffa3Click here to read Part 1!

Once you recognize envy for what it is, use it as a catalyst for change. Figure out exactly what it is you envy your friend for that you lack. Maybe it’s as simple as needing a little excitement in your life or maybe it’s the beginning of acknowledging the need for a real, substantive change that makes the day into night. It’s up to you to process, fertilize and transform your envy into the fuel that propels positive change or the blissful acceptance and appreciation that demonstrate that you are truly becoming the person you admire most.

Jealousy is a bit harder to use for your own enlightenment but perhaps that much more important for you to understand and take control of turning the tables. It’s not always going to work: Your bestie’s engagement ring is going to be hard to stomach if the love of your life just broke up with you any way you look at it. But it can be a useful exercise in figuring out exactly why you are so soured. Start by asking yourself some tough questions.

If you are feeling jealous it’s because you lost something. But what exactly did you lose? Each instance of jealousy is merely a stimulus for you to examine your life, and while Plato’s words suggested the unexamined life is not worth living, the over-examined life may not be the way you want to live either. Assuming your friend isn’t marrying your ex, you’re not really losing anything tangible.

The truth is what you have lost is an idea – about yourself, be it about your own desirability or your (perhaps totally unrealistic) previous vision of your future. Whatever it is, go ahead and figure out how you can regain what you actually lost…not the man but the love you felt. Chances are if you and Mr. or Mrs. Wonderful broke up before you could go the distance down the aisle it’s because those things weren’t really on offer in the first place. So maybe you didn’t actually lose anything, and the jealousy and envy provided an opportunity for a productive new future… one in which you actually know what you need and want.

Jealousy is often a reaction to what cognitive behavioral therapists refer to as projecting the future. You see your friend happy and you predict –irrationally, that you will never be that happy. Remind yourself that you are not, in fact, clairvoyant, and your friend’s happiness can actually add to your own, and that your thought pattern can use a readjustment to see potential, not pain.

Of course, not all envy can be turned on its head but the truth is, not all envy is painful or even negative. In some cases, you can not only use your envy but also enjoy it. Think about it. Is there anyone you hate more than Gwyneth Paltrow, with her Vegenaise and her handmade this and that and her smug and perfect skinny, blond, rich everything?

Still, the majority of what you hate is not hate at all. It’s envy but the fun kind, the kind you and your friends can giggle about and yet still, in the back of your subconscious mind, recognize that there’s a decent quinoa recipe on her Web site you could probably pull off, and you could go to the gym or prioritize what the jealousy and envy brought so clearly to your mind. So thank you, Gwyneth. We may hate you – or really, just envy you – but you are making us better despite yourself.

Often, of course, it’s not that easy. Envy can eat at you. Jealousy can indeed become a monstrous force, a dark green cloud that throws a pall over moments that should by all rights add to your happiness, not slice a blade through it. The feeling that the grass is forever greener over the hill you can’t climb needs to be replaced with climbing lessons or gardening lessons so that you get what you want instead of nagging dissatisfaction.

But the truth is, the monster is not that ferocious. Just by recognizing it you have sapped its strength, turned it docile, made it into your pet, to be taught and tamed and ultimately to make yourself stronger by serving your needs and wants…now that you know what they are. The grass you fertilize may become the envy of the neighborhood. Then walk magnanimously over to the other side of the street …. and teach your neighbor how to do the same thing.

Change is Good, and It Happens Faster Than We Think

ChangeIt was in late 2003 that I developed a monster-sized crush on a boy named Tim. (His name has been changed to preserve anonymity; however, if “Tim” doesn’t figure out he’s “Tim” by the end of this blog post, I’m not a very good writer.) I was 14 and a freshman in high school, and Tim was a sophomore and one year older. He wasn’t your classic high school heartthrob, he wasn’t a football player, nor did he have the best grades, but Tim was an actor. He was a very, very good actor.

I’d been eye-ing Tim for a few days before we ended up sitting next to each other at the annual fall recital for my high school’s dance department (I went to a performing arts high school, hence the absence of football playing men and prominence of drama – both real-life and acted.) I spotted him in the auditorium just before the show was about to start and found myself seated next to him as the curtains began to open. If I’d had any doubts that Tim was the “one” I would pick to be object of my undying affection, it was what happened next that sealed the deal. As I looked beside me at Tim, he looked down at his program and saw that one of his favorite songs, “Crazy on You” by Heart, was the soundtrack to the first performance:

“Ah, this song has the best guitar intro,” he whispered as he tilted his head backward and took in each strum. I watched him as he inhaled this song I hadn’t heard before and found myself wanting to know every song he’d ever heard. He was like no one I’d ever met, and I was somewhere between wanting to be with him and wanting to be just like him. I knew he was in awe of the music, but I was convinced he was the real rock star. I didn’t know who Heart was, but I knew mine was in some serious trouble.

I raced home that night and downloaded the song before my mom even had time to tell me she needed the computer first. I listened to the guitar intro over and over, thinking about Tim and how perfect he was, wanting know more about his favorite kinds of music. For months after that I would chat with Tim over AOL Instant Messenger, pretending to know all of his favorite bands and posting lyrics to his favorite songs in my away messages. I would go back and forth every other week (sometimes every other day) between being “in love” with Tim and viscerally hating him.

Tim led me on to the point of no return, but had a girlfriend all the while. I hadn’t seen enough episodes of Sex and the City yet to understand what a dead end street this actually was, so instead, I was starring in the Taylor Swift music video “You Belong With Me” and dreaming of the day Tim would come to his senses, turn around and ask me to be his girlfriend instead. Genius plan, I know, but I was merely taking the advice of all the pop queens before me.

In my moments of “visceral hatred” toward Tim, I would passionately take a stand and delete my entire iTunes library as most of the songs in it were his influence. I got rid of all the songs I never would have known about if it hadn’t been for Tim, but I never deleted my favorite: “Crazy on You.”

Of course, Tim and I did not end up together. Around the end of my freshman year, he finally broke up with the girl he’d been seeing and was “ready” to date yours truly, but I decided to move on the moment I found out he was available. He’s actually married now, and I’ve lived about 259 lives since my freshman year of high school, but “Crazy on You” has still managed to hold it’s place in my iTunes library. Tonight, it came on shuffle and took me my surprise – just like that, I was 14 again.

I couldn’t believe that moment was 10 years ago, but at the same time, I couldn’t believe it was only ten years ago. How was I only 14 ten years ago??? I was (am) at a loss for words.

At the risk of sounding a bit too much like Carrie Bradshaw, I got to thinking. I got to thinking about how fast growth happens but how slow it can feel when it’s actually happening. Perhaps for all the times I’ve feared I wasn’t striding forward at a quick enough pace, I was moving forward much more quickly than I realized. Perhaps in my moments of discontentment with where I am today and why I’m not somewhere further down the road, I can remember it was just a mere ten years ago that I was Googling Led Zeppelin lyrics and using them in my AOL away message to impress a boy (I mean, we didn’t even have Facebook back then – that’s saying something.)

I’ve come a long way since 2003, and I’ve actually come a long way since yesterday, too. When it comes to taking account of where I am, the most valuable tool at my disposal might just be taking account of where I’ve been. In any given moment, I’m sitting somewhere far down the tracks from where I was sitting before.

And if I’m really looking to know what’s ahead, it’s actually the looking back that shows me how very much I have to look forward to. I mean, if we were all using AOL but ten years ago, I imagine there must be infinite possibilities awaiting us all in the next ten.

For more, check out my website, The Light Files, and follow me on Facebook or Twitter.

 

More by Laura Max Nelson:

Why I Choose the Solo Life, For Now

Romantic Failure Doesn’t Make You Any Less Perfect

How to Deal When You’re Outside of Your Comfort Zone

The Best and Worst Advice I Ever Got in College About Work

.Labor Day Weekend in Boston means two things. Most working people with the day off flee, emptying the streets, taking to the highways, and soaking up the long weekend somewhere outside city environs, preferably with ocean or mountains and without discarded couches littering the sidewalks.

Meanwhile, most students from the city’s many universities (and recent grads from schools everywhere) are moving in, bloating the streets with their moving trucks and subjecting their dads to too many flights of stairs. (A retroactive and eternal thank you to my own father who did this countless times, including when he hoisted a table through a window to fit into a tiny Cambridge apartment, after cutting my box spring in half so that we could maneuver it up the stairway and reassemble it once in my new room. One could say I learned a thing or two about patience and problem-solving from that guy).

This year, I fell into neither category. I’m a long way from college, and I just moved this winter and don’t plan to do it again anytime soon. I no longer subject Dad to being Macgyver on moving days; I spring for movers. I also labored on Labor Day, teaching yoga to a packed house of enthusiastic, sweaty, come-and-get-me-September yogis at Inner Strength Studio. I planned for a video shoot with Runner’s World magazine this weekend. I did a little writing.

Yet, the momentum around me got me thinking about labor and the best and worse advice I got about work while in college. Two key moments come to mind, both of which occurred while I was choosing my major. English.

And I’d choose the same way if I were to do it all over again. Despite getting advice like the following, from the father of a young girl I tutored regularly as a side job. I remember the scene in their impressive Virginia home well. The older son was on the verge of an exciting milestone: his bar mitzvah, and the living room in which I helped his younger sister with reading and writing was overrun by elaborate party favors. I wouldn’t see this many gift bags again until my time as a marketing executive at Boston magazine, while planning massive events like its annual Best of Boston party.

“You have to think about the things you want to have and figure out the job you can do to get those things.”

At this, he motioned around the beautiful home at the things his work had materialized. I didn’t argue. He made a valid point. It was a beautiful home, and they were a lovely family. They seemed happy. If you want a nice home, you have to work to get it. This much I knew, and it’s in my DNA to work hard anyway. But I disagreed with other aspects of his statement. The pursuit of things wasn’t going to inspire me to study subjects about which I didn’t care or in which I didn’t excel. And who’s to say that once I got these things, I’d be happy?

Thank you, sir. Have a wonderful time at the bar mitvah. Little Sally, nail that spelling test, girlfriend.   

Needless to say, this was the worst advice I ever got.

The best came from my friend, Doc, one year behind me in school but infinitely wiser in many ways. He became a bit of an urban legend in the English department at the University of Richmond. First, he was male, and they were hard to come by in our course of study. Second, his memory borders on photographic. For the first few weeks of September during the fall that we met, I thought he was a total slacker. He never took notes, while I busily detailed everything our professor said. He seemed a little aloof, sitting back in his chair and occasionally glancing out the window at the blossoming trees outside. Why was he even in this class, I thought, my body pitched forward so that I wouldn’t miss anything. Craning myself closer to the Shakespeare lecture would obviously implant the information into my brain more effectively.

When we ended up in a study group together, the other girls and I expressed skepticism before his arrival… until he showed up and schooled the sh** out of us by remembering pretty much every lecture, quotation, theme, historical context, cross-reference, and footnote we’d covered that semester. Thus, Doc became my new best friend—and the source of the best work advice I ever got in college.

“College is not job training. When you get a job, they’ll train you. College is for studying what you love, enjoy, and want to think critically about. It’s about learning and learning how to learn—so that you can learn to be an expert at what you choose to do.”

I’m paraphrasing of course. I don’t have Doc’s memory.

So, I chose English. I minored in Women’s Studies. I was a class shy of an Economics minor, and if there’d been a major in Eastern Philosophy and Religion at the time, I’d probably have that too. I loved these courses, and they led me to work in industries I enjoyed, including education, marketing, media, and, yes, yoga, until merging what I enjoyed most and was best at into my work today.

The way my brain functions is no doubt influenced by how it learned to organize and convey information learned in college. However, the world changes drastically over a lifetime, and the best career investment one can make is the desire to work hard and tirelessly on a chosen path. The quickest way to burn out and become miserable is to work at something you don’t like for things that can’t make you happy.

I don’t have a lot of things, but I have all the things I need, which means that in a weird way both pieces of advice worked for me. Or, better yet, I worked for them.

What do you think? What’s the best or worst career advice you’ve ever gotten? What did you study in college, and how has it moved you through life?  

Originally published on my website, Om Gal.

Do you want to become a Buddhist – or the Buddha?

path

 Do not become the Buddhist – become the Buddha.

There. It is right there. I searched for it, chased it, tried to catch it and pin-point it since last night. Since the conversation about following a path.

I couldn’t see why. I couldn’t see why I would need to follow a path to myself. I am here after all, already here. Everything that I am — me, God, Buddha, everything. What path? What path is needed to take me to what I am?

But then, I thought, to realize it, to feel oneself, to find oneself among the noise, among the constant, overwhelming, imposing and dizzying hubbub of the mind — maybe there is a path there. Maybe there is something that has to be done, worked on, achieved, to see clearly. So what would I do? What did I do? What was the first step on my path? It was looking for someone who could help. It was to look outside. To look to others.

That was my first step on the path, on the journey to becoming a Buddhist, a student, a spiritual seeker.

Ceasing to look to others for help was the first step on the path to becoming myself.

Because it was myself I wanted to find. Not the Buddha. Not the enlightenment experienced, envisioned and described by others — but myself. I did not want to become a Buddhist. I did not want to become the follower of Buddha, or Christ or anyone else at all. I wanted to become myself and, to become myself, I had to follow myself.

And it was in that moment, in that very first moment of making the choice to follow myself, my own path, my own way, that my journey was finished for I reached my destination.

It did not require esoteric practices, twenty years of meditation, chanting, praying. All it took was the choice to be me. All it took for me to be me, was for me to listen to myself, to look into myself, to follow myself. Because I was already there.

All I needed to do

was to trust myself.

It’s You.

limit1

 Isn’t that a lovely stick? Inspiring and uplifting and what not? Truly a stick worth posting. Yet it begun like this:

limit

Yup. This is how I felt the last few days, the last few weeks, the last few months, the last few … well, all my life, likely. Though there were times of clarity and times of denial, times of unconsciousness and times of presence. Lately I experience times of my trauma being up in my face so strongly, so clearly, so harshly that nothing but facing it is a possibility. So I am facing.

I am facing and I see pain that dates to my birth. I saw some pain from before that, hidden all the way back in the shadowy endings of the previous life but that’s irrelevant here. What is relevant is that what happened when I was one day old comes to light and demands to be seen.

There is pain there. Pain caused by neglect and fear and loneliness and … well, pain. The pain I was born into. The pain of my parents that made it impossible for them to surround me with nothing but love. There was no love. There was no love at the very beginning of my life and I look at it (again) and see how quickly it became my fault, how quickly I became unlovable and how that burden of blame and guilt crushed me, and then I realize that…

… that it was not my fault. It was not my fault that there was no love waiting to receive me when I was born. But it was my responsibility. It was my responsibility.

And this is when the strings, the cords and strands of trauma loosen up a bit and I see that it was all me, from the very beginning. It was all me. And it still is.

And then I see that the trauma that binds me and traps me is there because I keep it there, because I believe it, because I mistake it for reality. I mistake it for life. I mistake it for the world. And then I see that this trauma’s purpose is to create life that it wants me to have. The pain wants me to create more pain. The fear wants me to create more fear and the lack of love, the loneliness, wants me to be alone.

And when I see that — the bounds fall off. They do not disappear, no, but they lose their power over my choices. They lose their power over my perceptions. I can see them for what they are now and they can no longer blind me and mystify me. They can no longer pretend to be real.

And then they leave. They are not needed anymore and I am left in the world where there is love because I am love. I am left in the world of my own creation, designed by me in the process of loving, of accepting, myself.

Deepak Chopra: Creating Your Own Reality

In this episode of “Spiritual Solutions” on The Chopra Well, David is wondering whether we create our reality or if our lives are just subject to chance. Can we create reality through intentions and opportunity? What is the role of randomness and chance? Deepak explores five areas that can influence “randomness” – beliefs, expectations, assumptions, perceptions, and moods.

How often do you feel like you have control – or even input – on your own reality? Circumstances and unexpected events tend to crowd our awareness and our sense of reality, to the point where it often feels like we are just puppets in a random world. The lesson here, though, is that much of what we perceive as “reality” is just a projection from our own consciousness. If we believe the world is out to get us, then 9 times out of 10 it will appear as such. If we, instead, address our beliefs, expectations, assumptions, perceptions, and moods, we may begin to see how much agency we actually have in creating our own reality.

What do you think? Tell us your thoughts and subscribe to The Chopra Well!

Deepak Chopra: Finding Your Path in Life

This is something so many of us struggle with. Who am I? What is my path? In this episode of “Spiritual Solutions” on The Chopra Well, Deepak addresses this major question.

Brian recently dropped out of medical school and is wondering how to find the right path in life. How do we figure out our purpose and what path to take to achieve that purpose? Deepak Chopra provides a few suggestions – by looking at the relationship between meeting our needs and fulfilling a purpose. Needs may include achievement, love, success, higher consciousness, etc. Ask yourself: Who am I? What do I really want?

Are you trying to find your purpose? Subscribe to The Chopra Well and let us help!

3 Surefire Triggers To Help You Get Unstuck

Salutation Nation - 088A stressor which inflicts great physical and emotional pain is the perception that you are stuck, which then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. No one ever complains about being stuck in a good place. The connotation of being stuck is usually the negative mindset or the pain pathway. Here are situations of people who have confided that they are stuck:

  • The doctors don’t know how to help me regarding my back pain. Nothing works ranging from steroid shots to physical therapy to strong pain meds. The doctors won’t do surgery because they don’t know the root cause of the raw nerve endings. I live in pain 24/7.
  • I keep breaking up and then going back to my boyfriend who doesn’t care for or support me. He’s such a dreamer and the consummate salesman – always promising that his next scheme will hit it big. However, he never quite makes it. Everyone asks me what I am getting out of this relationship, and I don’t know the answer. Maybe I’m afraid that I will end up alone.
  • I was let go from a job in the human resources department of a big apartment building management firm because I just turned 60. Although no one mentioned my age, my replacement is half my age. I always had such good reviews, so I didn’t see it coming. They claimed that they were letting me go in order to take the firm in another direction. What are the odds I will find another comparable job?

Thoreau once said, “With all your science can you tell how it is, and whence it is, that light comes into the soul?”

3 methods for getting stuck in a good place:

  1.  We are nothing much on our own, but rather are mutually dependent. Align yourself with realists and dreamers. Reflect on and find what resonates just for you like peering into a gallery or knick knack store window looking for the right souvenir when you are on vacation. It is the painting or objet d’art that you must buy, or otherwise it will haunt you if you don’t. Similarly, whatever resonates for you will spur you on to move forward. Find your hidden treasure.
  2. You don’t need others to validate what your heart and soul advise you to do. Don’t  give away your power to do what others tell you to do or want for you. What do YOU really want? When you know the answer, you will be motivated to pursue your answer.
  3. Take walks in nature to prepare to move forward in your life’s journey. When you are taking purposeful steps in a park, shoreline, or cityscape, you can think about moving forward in another aspect of your life. Great musicians know that the pauses between the notes are where the artistic skill lies. Enjoy the process because arriving is not as much fun as the journey.
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