Align With Your Authentic Self

Last time we discussed how getting out and being alone can help us “hear” ourselves talk. As we spend more time with ourselves we build a strong sense of self and deeper connection to the type of person we want to be.

As great as this sounds. It can be really, really, really, hard to develop your best self. Especially if you have trouble hearing your own voice over the loud, sometimes very loud voice of society. Last post, we looked at values and how to determine your value set. Now we’ll look at how to put the values you identified into action and create your next best self. 

First, determine which values are your top priorities. These might be overarching themes that help guide you in a variety of places (i.e. be kind to all people) or they may be specific and help set you up for successful decision-making (i.e. family is important to me). Once you have the themes and/or specifics, making daily decisions to live your most authentic self gets easier. If your top value is be kind, you know you need to work on being kind to every person you encounter regardless of differences. If you view family as most important, any decision that takes you away from a family connection should be evaluated to determine if it moves you closer to your goal of deepening your connection to family members or moves you away from those connections. If it moves you away, you say no. 

Next, take a solid look at your life. Are you doing things everyday to show that these are the most important values to you? Many people talk a great game about family, relationships, health, work, etc, however when you look at their lives they are not working out or eating healthy, spending time with friends when they say family matters most, watching  A LOT of TV instead of being present to their kids – you get the picture. Are you talking the talk AND walking the walk around what’s most important to you? If not it’s time to change things up in your daily routine. 

As you take a hard look at your life, what habits and beliefs can you shed to move closer to your goals? Begin by writing down your daily routine. When you wake up what’s the 1st thing you do? Then the 2nd? 3rd? And so on. As you examine your routines in detail you will find there are places you can eliminate wasteful current behaviors and replace with those that get you where you want to go. If you find this overwhelming hire a therapist or a coach to help you step back from your daily grind and create the life you want, not just the one you were handed. Once you know what you want to do differently it’s time to set up practice. 

According to Magen and DeLisser (2017) experiential learning (learning by doing) is an effective way to to learn. The environment that set up practice in their program helped trainees learn skills in a safe, comfortable environment. Practice looks different for different folks. You might need to break your new behavior into small steps and practice the small steps until they become routine; only then move to the next step in the process. Other changes will require you tackle a bigger project and dedicate some time and space to trying out your new behavior in a variety of environments to find success. As you look toward behavior change, recognize it’s hard and possible. With some planning and support you can become whatever you want to be, do whatever you want to do, and grow into your best self.

Once you’ve set your new behaviors in motion you have to assess along the way. Is your new behavior working? Impacting your life the way you want it to? Adding value and authenticity to your living? Cutrer et al., (2017) state “individuals learn and innovate in response to practice challenges”, (pg 70) and report reflection and self assessment are a critical pieces to help move from those uncomfortable places of new behavior change to integrating new skills until they become second nature. Through self assessment we can acknowledge what is working and what isn’t, making micro changes to study the experience of trying new things, and adjusting until it’s just the way we want it … at least until we decide we want the next change. 

Finally, you have changed to the point of being a different person in the environments you wanted to shift. You have aligned your new behaviors with the values you determined matter to you most, and have enlisted reflection and assessment to help you make small shifts until it was exactly what you wanted.

Now, some advice for along the way. Making changes can be hard. Really hard. It may impact the way friends and family relate to you and/or how you relate to them and activities you used to do together. In my work, I often work with people who are struggling to change while those in their environments aren’t helpful. In fact, they may even encounter people they love sabotaging their efforts. Often this isn’t malicious, just a response to the fact that as you change you impact those around you, and they may not want to change. They may like the patterns you’ve set and feel threatened by your personal development. Your development may require that they become more responsible for things around the house or in your relationship, or it may require they release some control. There are all sorts of ways we impact each other and ways to work with change to make the bumps easier. If you feel overwhelmed by this idea, get some support. A good friend who believes in you, a therapist, a support group, a coach, a personal trainer, a nutritionist, a health coach can all be options. Check out this previous poston behavior change and setting realistic goals to help focus your efforts.

So as you look through your values list and contemplate your next steps, it’s important to evaluate a few things. What makes them so important to you? Are these values yours? Not initiated by an outside source (i.e. person, group, etc), but really yours? This step is important as you begin to determine life changes. You’ll need to understand why these values matter to you. Your why keeps you motivated and buoys the hard times during the change process you’ll inevitably face. Once you have your why and know the changes needed to align your life with your values list, you’ll be able to put into place daily practices and rituals that help you meet your authentic self right where she belongs  … with you at all times.

References:

Cutrer, W. B., Miller, B., Pusic, M. V., Mejicano, G., Mangrulkar, R. S., Gruppen, L. D., … Moore, D. E. (2017). Fostering the development of master adaptive learners: A conceptual model to guide skill acquisition in medical education. Academic Medicine, 92(1), 70-75. 

Magen, E., DeLisser, H. M. (2017). Best practices in relational skills training for medical trainees and providers: An essential element of addressing adverse childhood experiences and promoting resilience. Academic Pediatrics, 17(7S), S102-S107. 

Suicide … 

Today my life was touched by suicide for the second time this week.

It is time we breakdown the fear of vulnerability and the ridicule we perpetrate when we see it in others. Personal hurts cloud our vision of true connection for fear that our difficulties will been seen as opportunities to be exploited. This clouding blocks the authentic connections we desperately need. Lack of connection creates a society based on judgment, separation, materialism, and the very fear we were hiding from in the first place.

Suicide is complicated … healing the pain of our pasts is tough … and doing the work actually gives more capacity for life’s adventures – good and bad.

The hardest part? We have to be the ones to reach out. For ourselves and for others. We have to be the ones willing to engage in authentic relationships and offer support and presence. We have to be the ones willing to face our own fear, hurt, sadness, shame, and ultimately our own goodness.

Facing this goodness is difficult. Making space for the goodness to shine means we must make space for our authenticity. We must make space for others’ goodnesses, too. We must face our fear of scarcity and of difference. We must honor our connection and sameness rather than highlight our differences and spotlight separation, even when we don’t agree, like, or want those different perspectives in our lives.

To do this we must be willing to be vulnerable. To be vulnerable means we will meet those who see themselves in our vulnerability and hate it because it means they are vulnerable, too.

And we must be kind anyway. We must find it within ourselves to be really kind. We are all fighting similar battles. Battles of insecurity and fear of rejection. Battles of not knowing and confusion. Battles of love and joy.

As you walk through your world today, remember things aren’t always as they seem and all people could use a smile, a kind word, an open door. All of us could use compassion when we are stuck and respect for trying even when our attempts fail.

I intimately know the darkness and desperation that accompanies suicidal thinking. The despair that envelops one’s being and eclipses the soul. I know the thoughts that anchor and make hope a distant memory. These thoughts and feelings are what make doing the things that heal us so hard. They keep us lonely and separate. Which is why it is so important that we all reach out, connect, model authenticity, and build relationships based on vulnerability and real experiences.

Today make an effort to connect, reach out ask for help, practice vulnerability and show up authentically. Notice where it’s easy, where it’s hard. Where it’s welcome, where it’s not safe. Notice how you react to others when they share vulnerability and authentic experience. See what happens in your own life as you experiment with acceptance of self and others, just as they are, where they are, thus creating real connection.

If you are still trying to figure out how to get yourself on track or support another who is struggling. Check out this blog post on the 5 Things Emotionally Stable People Don’t Do, by Marc and Angel:

http://www.marcandangel.com

Marc and Angel are the authors of 1000 Little Things Happy Successful
People Do Differently. Here’s their amazing list of 5 Things Emotionally
Stable People…. If you enjoy this, be sure to visit their website for
more inspirational advice and tips for life.

5 Things Emotionally Stable People Don’t Do

So I was reading away and came across this gem in my inbox. These 5 behaviors are keys to living a life worth living and chock full of healthy coping when things don’t go your way. I couldn’t help but reach out to see if I could re-post them here for you. Read and Practice Away!

http://www.marcandangel.com

Marc and Angel are the authors of 1000 Little Things Happy Successful
People Do Differently. Here’s their amazing list of 5 Things Emotionally
Stable People…. If you enjoy this, be sure to visit their website for
more inspirational advice and tips for life.


 

From Marc and Angel Hack Life:

Recently I received an email (creatively) titled €œEmotionally Stable
People Don’t Do This from a reader named Karl. In it he describes
a rather chaotic emotional roller coaster that he’€™s been on for the
past few years, personally and professionally. And then he wrapped up
his email with this:

€œTruly, I love your book and blog. Both have helped me get through
some seriously tough times. But even though I’ve made progress, I
often struggle with my emotions. I persistently let every little
problem get the best of me. So I was wondering, what do emotionally
stable people NOT do? I’€™m asking because, even though I’€™ve made
progress, I know I’€™m still holding on to old habits that are holding
me back. I need some reminders of what NOT to do!

There are a million ways to answer Karl’s question (especially as it
relates to his unique life situation), but since emotional stability is
something all of us struggle with at times, I figured I’d take a stab
at answering his question in a general sense, for all of us. Here’€™s
what emotionally stable people don’t do:

1. They don‘€™t take other people’€™s behavior personally.
It’s easy to feel unloved and unwanted when people aren’€™t able to
communicate and connect with you in the way you expect. And it’s so
hard not to internalize that disconnection as a reflection on your
worth. But the truth is, the way other people behave and function is
not about you.

Most people are so caught up in their own problems, responsibilities
and struggles, that the thought of asking you how you are doing
doesn’t even cross their mind. They aren’t being mean or uncaring they are just busy and a bit self-centered at times. And that’€™s
OK. It’s not evidence of some fundamental flaw on your part. It
doesn’t make you unlovable or unworthy. It just means that some
people aren’€™t very good at looking beyond their own egocentric
bubble. But the fact that you are,€“ that despite the darkness you
feel, you have the ability to share your love and light with others€“
is an incredible strength. (from the œRelationships chapter of
our book)

2. They don’t just react they respond mindfully.
A reaction is a hot, thoughtless, in-the-moment burst of emotion
that’€™s usually driven by our ego (we €™are more likely to react when
we a€™re disconnected from our rational mind). It might last just a
split second before our intuition kicks in and offers some perspective,
or it might take over to the point that we act on it. When we feel
angry or flustered after dealing with a situation or person, that’s a
sign we’€™ve reacted rather than responded mindfully. Responding
mindfully will leave you feeling like you handled things with integrity
and poise.

3. They don’t get stuck thinking the world is ending.
Sometimes the darkest times can bring you to the brightest places, your
most painful struggles can grant you the greatest growth, and the most
heartbreaking losses of relationships can make room for the most
wonderful people. What seems like a curse at the moment can actually be
a blessing in disguise, and what seems like the end of the road is
actually just the realization that you are meant to travel a different
path.

No matter how difficult things seem, there’s always hope. And no
matter how powerless you feel or how horrible things seem, you can’€™t
give up. You have to keep going. Even when it’s scary, even when all
your strength seems gone, you have to keep picking yourself back up and
moving forward, because whatever you are battling in the moment, it
will pass, and you will make it through. You’€™ve made it this far, and
you’ve felt this way before. Think about it. Remember that time
awhile back when you thought the world was ending? It didn’€™t. And it
isn’€™t ending this time either. (from the Adversity chapter of
our book)

4. They don’t tie their present emotions to past negativity.
When we’€™re in the here and now,€™ it’€™s much easier to cope with
emotions and see them as just that: emotions. If we get caught up
obsessing over the past, emotions and situations can take on new (and
untrue) meanings as they become attached to stories. For example,
imagine you just got turned down for a new job. Naturally you a€™re
disappointed. But if you a€™re not present with that emotion, and
instead try to act like a tough girl or guy by burying it, the mind
delves back into your past for all the other times you’ve felt that
way. Now you feel like a failure and you start to carry a feeling of
unworthiness into every future job interview.

When we stay present, we’€™re empowered to start fresh every moment and
we can see every situation with a sharpened perspective, which allows
us to grow beyond the negative emotions (and outcomes) standing in our
way.

5. They don’t spew hate at themselves.
When you catch yourself drowning in self-hate, you must remind yourself
that you were not born feeling this way. That at some point in the past
some person or experience sent you the message that something is wrong
with you, and you internalized this lie and accepted it as your truth.
But that lie isn’€™t yours to carry, and those judgments aren’t about
you. And in the same way that you learned to think negatively of
yourself, you can learn to think new, positive and self-loving
thoughts.

You can learn to challenge those false beliefs, strip away their power,
and reclaim your self-respect. It won’€™t be easy, and it won’€™t
transpire overnight. But it is possible. And it begins when you decide
that there has to be a better way to live, and that you deserve to
discover it. (from the €œSelf-Love€ chapter of our book).


 

Pretty cool stuff, huh?! I really liked the simple steps. Now that you know what not to do … go practice the new steps until they become second nature, until they become you!

http://www.marcandangel.com

Marc and Angel are the authors of 1000 Little Things Happy Successful
People Do Differently. Here’s their amazing list of 5 Things Emotionally
Stable People…. If you enjoy this, be sure to visit their website for
more inspirational advice and tips for life.

Can You Accept Yourself?

Can you truly accept yourself? Fully accept yourself? Just as you, today, in this moment, whatever it brings? So many of us answer a big fat Loud NO. We have all sorts of reasons we aren’t good enough and plenty of ways we could be acceptable … If we’d just ____________ (Get it together). Today lets focus on what we are doing well. 

In what area of your life are you proud of yourself? Really proud of yourself, not in service of your children, parents, employer, or anyone else. Where are you really proud of you, your actions, behaviors, commitment, follow though, etc.
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Why do you love this part of you? What’s so good about it?
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How does it make you great?
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What is a small change you can make right now, today to be a little better at this? Keep in mind sustainable change in lifestyle habits happens in small (think 10%) increments. Must be realistic within your time frame, make it specific, and measurable. This is the SMART goal principle developed by George Doran (1981). You are better off stating “I’ll eat 2 more servings of vegetables today. One at breakfast and one at dinner” rather than “I will eat more healthy today”.
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Next what are you going to do to make this change happen? Here we are looking for a change in behavior. What will you do differently?
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How was that exercise? Easy? Difficult? Were you able to find something you love about yourself? If not, I wonder why not. I may not know you and yet, I do know if you found nothing to be proud of it’s bullshit and old learning. I have seen the under belly of human experience and still find treasures there. It doesn’t have to a huge thing. We are looking for the big AND the small things. For example I was really proud of the way I used a new skill of asking questions this morning while I was talking to my husband. This mattered to me because it helped me be more effective in my communication and if I can use this skill in one more conversation today (2) and add 10% more tomorrow (2.2 conversations) soon I will be having effective communication in more than half my conversations, and then most of them before you know it. With each interaction I will feel a little more mastery (the key to building self-esteem) and pride. As I build those I begin to approve of myself more and more, leading to more and more positive change in my life. So I’ll ask you again …
What’s one thing about you, you can be proud of?
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Follow the above prompts now that you’ve found your thing. If you are still stuck … Maybe that one thing to be proud of is that you don’t give up on this exercise. ?
Know that getting stuck isn’t the problem. We all get stuck. It’s staying stuck that is. The way out of the muck is to shift your thinking. It isn’t easy if you’ve been caught In a negative rut, to turn toward the positive, drop your judgment of yourself and others, and stop listening to the negative vibes of others. Commit to yourself and work on remaining in a positive frame of thought for 10% more of your day today.
If some of these words are too strong for you right now change them to make sense for you. I challenge you to consider why not use these words?
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Does whatever holds you back from using them need to be released?
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Is it an old belief or message you can drop?
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What would happen if you did embrace words like love, great, good enough for yourself as descriptors?
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