Overcoming insecurities and removing external definitions

Overcoming insecurities and removing external definitions

Typically, we all get defined by our loved ones as we grow up.  You know, those comments that end up defining you as the talker of the family or the neat freak or the nagger, and so on.  While these traits can be a part of who you are, they don’t have to define you in such a way as to make you insecure or self-conscious.  Yet, they do affect each one of us in a way that makes us justify or excuse our behavior in numerous circumstances.  If it only stopped there that would be fine, but these definitions of us also end up affecting what we do or don’t do.

When you’ve been told for most of your life that you’re a certain way (whatever the traits and behaviors you’ve been ascribed) you also think that maybe you can’t do something because of it, and this is where these external definitions stop you from doing something.  But the little component that stops you for good is you, which is why you need to remove these external noises.  The only way you’re going to do this is if you stop thinking these traits are something you need to remove or something that need to be justified.  So, how do you do this?

For starters, recognizing that many of the definitions (vices and virtues) of you come from others.  By others I mean loved ones and guides.  This includes parents (first and foremost), siblings, teachers, friends, and colleagues to name a few.  With this knowledge, you can now move on to recognizing when you’re getting on your own case because of something someone else has told you is a “bad” thing or is something that could be avoided.

We all have had these situations where we stop ourselves or think about something we’re doing in a way where we make an excuse and justify why we’re doing what we’re doing.  It’s in these instances that you should remember that the only reason you’re justifying yourself is because someone has told you that you do this too much or that you should stop doing this because it’s not a good thing.  You become self-conscious and this makes any insecurities you may have regarding yourself that much more present.

This heightened insecurity then brings about a feeling of lack or not good enough or maybe just a tiny doubt about yourself; no matter how big or small, it stops you from being yourself 100%.  You hold back because you have your loved ones’ repetitive voice in your head telling you to get rid of that habit, to stop doing that thing, or just that you’re too much of this or that.

Once you sit down with yourself and ask if you’re ok with being that “too much” or “too little” then it’s up to you to come to your defense the next time your insecurity arises and you hear those voices, those comments, that allow doubt to creep in.  Stop in that moment and remind yourself that you’re ok with that trait, that you accept it and it is others who are different and that this is ok.  It’s ok to be different and at the end of the day, the comments that these loved ones have made are based on their personalities, their perspective, their behaviors.

Another thing you could do in addition to helping yourself overcome these external definitions and stop having them hang over you and keep you from being you is to in turn stop doing this very thing to someone else.  If you define your loved ones or anyone and tell them why they shouldn’t have that trait or that they have too much of that trait, remember how you feel about this exact same situation and keep the comment to yourself.  Instead, be encouraging to them and help them to be themselves 100%, all the way, with no shame and nothing that needs to change.

How have you worked through external definitions of you and in doing so helped to eliminate your insecurities too?

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Focusing on being right takes away focus from more important things

In our lives there will be many situations where we will feel wronged or want justice and although this is understandable, focusing on this won’t allow you to see other things that are much more important.  So how can you let go of being right and refocus your attention on what really matters?

The first thing that needs to be brought to your attention in situations like these is the fact that each side thinks they are right.  It’s all about perspective and seeing as people do things as a consequence of what they believe in they will think that they’re right in doing so.  This doesn’t mean someone can’t tell if they’ve done something wrong or not, but the likelihood in those situations where a clash arises is based on the fact that two or more people think one side is in the right and the other isn’t.

This idea of one side versus the other being right is exactly why focus on being right ends up being a waste of time and energy.  If the other side thought they were wrong, you wouldn’t feel wronged because the person or people would have already apologized instead of standing their ground in thinking they’re right.  This cycle is endless and even though some people may say talking helps, this isn’t always the case.

Add to the situation the component of anger and frustration, and you have a mix of emotions that keeps growing every day more.  The more you think about what has happened and not getting an apology or admission of guilt, the more you get upset at the entire situation.  This is where your focus on being right totally messes with you.

It’s not about you being right or wrong that is the issue, it’s about you not being able to go beyond this situation without an apology or justice being served.  It’s about thinking of all the ways you are right and how the other person should see it so clearly that you wonder how is it even possible that they don’t see it.  Again, all throughout this process the only certain thing is your feelings of injustice at the entire scenario.  This focus takes away from what you could be learning about what just happened and how you could learn something about yourself if only you stopped thinking so much about the other side (and how wrong they are).

If you find yourself in this situation the best thing to do is to remember that if an apology isn’t given it means the person or people don’t think they’ve done anything wrong.  At this point the questions you should be asking are why are you so upset and what can you do to change how you feel about this without needing the other people involved to do something about it.

Since perspective is what the clash is all about, try to take a step back and look at what is really bothering you about this.  Can you tell if there’s any judgement on your end or expectation that influences what you’re thinking and how you’re reacting?  If so, isn’t your judgement and expectation just as influential to this whole thing as the other person’s or people’s judgement and expectation?

Try to see what it is you can takeaway from this experience instead of doing everything you can to try and convince someone else that they have to admit they’re wrong when they don’t think they are.  Then look to what you can do to avoid these types of situations.  Also, if these people have specific characteristics about them or a way of doing things that don’t resonate with you, remove them from your circle of friends and avoid having people like this in your life.

Do remember that overall in life each person is just trying to make it and maybe what they did wasn’t meant to affect anyone.  They can’t help being who they are and doing things in the way they see things.  We’re each limited in our view, seeing as we can only see so far; and this seeing is based on our life experiences and our thought processes, values and beliefs.

How do you refocus from being right or wanting justice to the bigger picture, to the meaning and lessons of a situation that arises where you feel wronged?

Everyone can make a mistake, it’s owning up to it that makes a difference

No matter how big or small a mistake can be, when you are able to own up to it, it makes a world of difference to you and/or to the other who suffered from the mistake.  It’s not about focusing on the blame or the now, ‘past’ event (and what was done); but rather accepting that it happened and exploring what exactly happened and why.

Obviously, the situation in exploring a mistake and owning up to it differs when it’s you who made the mistake or someone else who made it.  Let’s take a look at the two separately to see exactly how owning up to a mistake makes a difference in each circumstance.

Let’s start with you owning up to a mistake because it is simpler and easier for you to manage that situation in a way that you can learn from and avoid sitting on it or hiding inside and in doing so leaving hurt and disappointment within instead of releasing it and moving past the situation.

Because we’re human, it is only normal to err, and we know when we’ve done so because inside of us there’s this uneasy feeling.  The feeling could be anger or a lingering sadness, or maybe that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach that you did something wrong.  There’s the tendency to initially blame everyone and everything else or to make excuses for ourselves on why we had to do what we did.  Usually the knowledge and awareness that you made the mistake wants to hide beneath the surface and so everything else is to blame as to why that mistake happened.

Putting aside your ego is never easy, and since life is full of external events that are out of our control it’s easy to find something or someone else to be the cause of a choice.  However, the choice is made by you and you alone, and pointing the finger at someone or something else won’t make you feel better.  Unconsciously you’ll know.  So, instead of doing this to yourself, accepting and acknowledging that you made a mistake can help.

First recognize ego, recognize the part you played and did have control over, and recognize that at the end of the day you made the final choice.  Unless, your life was on the line, you made a conscious and thought out decision.  With all of this in the forefront then remind yourself that you’re human and explore the situation to see what you can learn about yourself from your mistake and from what happened so that you can try to avoid it the next time around.

For our second scenario, when someone else makes a mistake and doesn’t own up to it, the situation is much more challenging.  It’s challenging because there’s another person with their own personality and thought process in front of you, and with their own ego and perspective.  You can argue with them all day and try to make your points on why they should admit their mistake.  None of this will get them to do so if they don’t acknowledge it themselves.  The best you can do in these cases is to accept and move on.  If this person makes mistakes repeatedly and they affect you and your life in a big way, then remove them (if you can) from your circle of people.

Mistakes are made and mistakes are things we can learn from always if only we look beyond the surface; if only you don’t stop at the mistake and point the finger.  We’re all just trying to make it a good and happy life, along that road…mistakes can happen, but you can move past them and have them add to your person and world if you focus on the good that comes out of the situation.

How do you handle mistakes and owning up to them or dealing with people who don’t own up to theirs?

Avoiding to take out frustrations or a bad day on somebody else

A couple days ago I had an interesting conversation that sparked my thoughts for today’s Wednesday Wisdom post.

The story first ~

I was at a café in Pozzuoli (near Naples, Italy) getting an espresso and asking about how payment for the parking lot worked. The signs that explained the regulations were confusing as to what the costs were depending on the day and time. 

From this conversation, the bartenders told me about an encounter they had had during the week with a lady who had the same question, but who got upset about the parking payment system as they told her how it worked. 

As they were sharing what happened, a gentleman at the counter (who I later found out is the café’s owner) intervened saying how he would have told the lady that if she didn’t like it she could leave and that they served coffee, they had no control over how the parking payment system worked.  As he expressed this, I could tell he was quite upset. 

In response, I said that maybe the lady was having a bad day, at which he replied we could all be having a bad day that doesn’t mean anything.  His tone was still quite upset, so then I tried to find out if the lady had somehow offended the bartenders (his employees) and that’s why he was taking it so personally or maybe she had offended the café.

This wasn’t the case or I should say, what transpired was that he had a stressful living situation going on at home.  He blurted it out as he was somewhat venting about this lady and her tone.  His employees gave this look of shock, like oh no, what is he saying; why is he sharing all this information with customers. 

The moral of the story is that had he been there he would’ve gotten as “aggressive” in his tone as the lady’s tone with his staff.  Obviously, it was clear that like the lady, he too was frustrated for something that day.  Had the two met they would have fueled each other’s “fire” so to speak.  Luckily, he wasn’t there and his staff handled it by simply allowing the lady to vent and then go about her way.

Without focusing on this situation from a business and customer service angle, but from a communication standpoint, if you meet fire (an angry tone) without fire (so calmly), you not only allow the situation to avoid escalating; but you also avoid two angry people getting on each other’s case for no reason except for the fact that they both were having a really bad day.

Kindness and love or at least understanding without taking something personally (especially when it isn’t a direct attack on your person) will always benefit a situation for you, as well as the “aggressor” who is dealing with some kind of stressful situation.

People aren’t always upfront about what is going on in their life; after all, it’s personal.  But if you stay calm and lend an ear, that can be enough to help a person get rid of pent up emotions.  In this case, could have the lady avoided yelling at the staff about something they had no control over?  Yes, of course she could’ve; but she didn’t because she wasn’t aware of how she was taking out her frustrations on others.  Thanks to the staff being able to stay calm they didn’t make the situation worse.

Always try to see what kind of day you’re having and if you’re taking out your frustrations on somebody else.  Also keep in mind that if someone gets “aggressive” with you, it could be due to something that is going on in their life that puts them on edge and upsets them so much that they’ll find any way to let it out.

Try to be understanding of others and realize that they usually express frustration if they are upset for some reason (something that they’re dealing with).  If it gets too bad, just remove yourself from the situation altogether.  In the end, you getting frustrated with the other person doesn’t help them stop; and if anything, it gets you to take the same tone with them.

How do you handle people who speak to you out of frustration?

How to cope with stress to help yourself in the moment

Everyone experiences stress.  Be it your job or a loved one leaving, or something happening that makes you worried.  The list is endless of stressful situations.  How you cope with stress can help you or increase your stress levels.  So how can you cope with stress in a way that helps you in that moment and in future moments of stress?  Well, mindset and what you focus on most in those stressful times are key.

If you find yourself stressed out about something or because of someone the first thing you want to do is pause.  Pause and take a deep breath and start looking for ways to resolve your situation.  The more you focus on the problem and the more your stress levels will increase.  You don’t want that so remove the focus on the stressor and find your antistressors.

What can serve as an antistressor is a solution to your problem, but sometimes there is no solution.  In cases where you have no solution to your problem, contemplate the good in your life.  Think about your loved ones or the things you cherish the most, like the fact that your alive.  If life isn’t a boost in itself because maybe in that moment it really isn’t the best life you imagined for yourself, focus on the next best thing you do have.  I hope there is at least one thing that makes your heart smile and that you can turn to in times of need.

Anyone reading this blog is looking for inspiration or is already on a path of inspiration, therefore I know there is one ray of light in your life and that light is what you want to put all your attention on during a stressful moment.  In addition to focusing on the positives you’re grateful for in life, you can also visualize your happy place.  Maybe you love the beach or the starry sky or maybe sunrises make you all warm and fuzzy inside.  Whatever those happy places are, envision them as you’re going through that stressful moment so that you can remove yourself, even if for just a couple minutes, from the situation and take a break.

When you come back from your pause and happy thoughts focus you can start exploring what you can do to make things better for you following the stressful incident.  If it’s a job you lost or loved one, you want to look to the next steps you can take to get where you want to be from within, as well as in action.  Know that tomorrow is another day and this means you have an opportunity to improve or change something.

As long as you stay active in achieving what your heart desires for a positive outcome in any area in your life, the surer you are to one day achieving that goal.  It is only if you sit still that you won’t move much, and still, even in those circumstances you can rest assured that life will surprise you.

Now it’s your turn, how do you cope with stress or what advice do you share with those around you when they are going through a stressful situation?  Can’t wait to hear your thoughts 🙂

When you know your purpose but struggle with the how

If you think back to when you were a kid was there something you felt drawn to or was there a recurring feeling within you to do something specific even though you couldn’t put it into words?  I believe every one of us, has had a feeling like that at some point growing up.  Then life kind of took over and societal expectations or events happened that brought you to do things.  For some, those things led them to that feeling they had within them as children; while others not so much.  As an adult, at some point maybe you stopped to try and grasp that thing you felt you were meant to do; yet you still couldn’t put a face to it, an exact shape.  There’s no exact shape you can give it and you’ve been trying ever since to figure it out.  If this is the case, there are some steps you can take to help you with your struggle between the life you have and the thing you feel you haven’t achieved yet, your purpose.

The reason that feeling is so hard to give an exact shape to is because it doesn’t have an exact shape per se.  The struggle comes from thinking that the things happening in your life are an obstacle to what you are meant to do or maybe that they are not “it” so they must be wrong.  Yet life is a journey, and the only way to bring your purpose to life is by going through it and taking action.  The events you may think are obstacles are all a part of that purpose you feel; and it is thanks to these life events that you find your purpose and eventually bring it to life.

Seeing a life event or a “failure” as something you need to fight prevents you from seeing the truth of these life moments; which is that they actually assist you in reaching your purpose by getting you to contemplate your purpose, listen to your heart and make another decision, and another, and still another until your heart actually starts growing in tune with the things that are coming your way.

It is thanks to all the these “wrong” life events and “obstacles” that you face, that you are able to see at some point your purpose come to reality, and feel that “ah ha” moment, where all the pieces of your life’s purpose (your puzzle) come together.

It is also thanks to the events that you experience that you are able to learn skills and adopt new traits that you would have otherwise not necessarily learned or acquired had it not been for the chain of events that took place in your life before that “ah ha” moment.

It’s like the half full, half empty saying; but not in the sense of positive thinking.  In the sense that the “struggle” is really a part of your purpose; for without it, you would never achieve your purpose.

As long as you stay aware of your heart, of that feeling inside you that says, “I know what I’m meant to do, I just can’t put it into words,” that you will continue pursuing your purpose no matter the events that seem like failures or obstacles. 

If this sounds kind of true to you, maybe it’s time you stop thinking life is out to get you with one obstacle after another.  Instead, take a step back as you’re going through what seems to be an obstacle and reflect on how you kind of know this is an opportunity to learn something that will actually lead you to where you are going.

At the end of the day, the only person who can stop pursuing what you know to be true in your heart, what you feel is your purpose, is you.  As long as you keep going, as long as you keep moving in the direction your heart is leading you towards (which it does by signaling you through joy or discontent), you will at some point see clearly your “destination.”  This doesn’t mean your purpose will be able to be put into words; but in your heart, that’s where you’ll know you’re there, that’s where you’ll have clarity and knowledge of living a life that is finally what you’ve known your purpose to be all along.

How do you face the struggles leading up to your purpose?

The struggle in deciding based on your belief and what others believe

I wrote a couple blogs on making decisions a while back (like plus five years ago) and how one of the biggest dilemmas we face is knowing if we are making the ‘best’ decision ever or not.  Today I want to expand on making decisions, but with a focus on your belief; particularly, when others have something different to say about what you believe in and the decisions you’re looking to make based on those beliefs.  It is a struggle I think everyone faces at some point or another in their life.  After all, what you believe in has been influenced and may still be influenced by others.  This is what you want to explore and decide upon.

Let’s start with the fact that you should value your beliefs the same way you do those of others.  What I mean is that you shouldn’t discredit your beliefs because others don’t believe the same.  It is normal to second guess or want to talk out a belief, especially when you’re deciding on something important in your life; but since it is a decision that will affect your life, your belief, your gut feeling, should be number one of what you listen to when making your decision.

The reason for your belief to hold priority is that if you make a decision based on someone else’s belief, especially if it doesn’t resonate with what you believe in, and your decision turns out badly, you will most definitely not be happy.  Additionally, you will either regret or be upset for listening to someone else instead of going with what you believed and felt was the right choice for you.  This isn’t to say that someone can’t give you good advice, but if you hold a belief and you know what it is then there’s no reason to ask someone else what they would do or what they believe in.

Why do you ask someone what they think about a decision you’re going to make in the first place?  Is it because you doubt your beliefs and thoughts?  Is it because somehow you are certain their answers will be the right ones without a doubt?  How can you be so sure that their beliefs are better than yours?  And why would their beliefs be better than yours?

These are all questions you should ask yourself when you’re asking someone else what they believe in, instead of just listening to your own beliefs.  You should also take that moment to reflect about your held beliefs, because if you’re asking someone else for their beliefs and putting them above yours, maybe you don’t really hold those beliefs you think are yours.  Why else make a decision based on the belief someone else has instead of your own?

The struggle of following one’s own beliefs isn’t something surprising since we’re raised by parents who show us the way and teach us about life, teach us and show us how to make decisions and so on.  However, there comes a time when what you feel in your heart becomes a lot more obvious.  When what you believe in isn’t something based on what you were taught by your parents or society anymore, but it is a belief that stems from a feeling from inside, from your heart or your gut or both.

When you’re faced with a struggle of going with what you believe in versus what someone else believes in or tells you to believe in, stop and ask yourself why someone else’s belief holds more value than your own.  If in that moment, in that questioning, you find an answer that transforms your belief into the one that the other person has or you find a certain answer to why their belief is more important and true than yours, then go with their belief.  But if you don’t find any of that, then you should go with your belief or figure out why you keep holding beliefs that you don’t trust and that you won’t use to make important life decisions that affect you.

How do you work out the struggle between going with what you believe in versus what others believe in?