Journal Yourself Back to Life with These 5 Questions.

“The nicest part is being able to write down all my thoughts and feelings; otherwise, I might suffocate.” ~ Anne Frank

My first journal was a Christmas gift back in 1997. It was pink, and had the smiling portrait of Barbie inked onto the cover. I remember cherishing the privacy. I felt so open, and wild, and unstoppable – even though I only wrote about playing in the mud, and running from snow plows in the wintertime. With this journal, I had a secret friend.

Later in life, I realized that my friend had been my deepest Self all along.

Kicking off with the good ol’ Barbie journal, I’ve now maintained a daily writing practice for nearly 16 years. Each day, I crack the spine of my Moleskin, slip the cap from my pen, and allow myself to be torn open and sewn back together with ink, over and over again.

Journaling has gotten me through 13 years of education, a handful of relationships, a young marriage, my parent’s divorce, my grandmother’s death, and the turbulence and strangeness of daily living. It has spread my dreams and desires before me and forced me to make more decisions than I ever thought I could.

If I have learned anything at all in this life, it’s that we swallow up and stuff down more emotions, truths, and dreams than we realize. But if we only allow ourselves a little bit of openness – even if these dreams will never fully blossom – we are giving our Spirits the incredible gift of potential, and clarity.

Journaling is one of the first things I suggest to my clients – no matter what they’re going through. Because I believe it always helps. So, find yourself a pen you love (Precise V7 is the only kind this hand will grip), a journal with nice, ripe pages, and a block of only 5 minutes that you can peel away from the rest of your busy day.

Then, think on these 5 questions. When the words bubble up hot in your ribs, don’t stop them. Write them down.

1. Am I being honest with myself?

Often, the person that we lie to the most is ourselves. But this journal is your safe space. Let loose the chains. Radical self-honesty can work miracles, I swear.

2. Do I feel like I can give myself permission?

Let go of the need to seek without – your permission lies within. You can tell yourself yes. Write it down – “I give myself permission to…”

3. What does my ideal life look like?

If I were living only for me, without the worry of making an impression on others. Use imagery, colors, sounds, places, and feelings. Create a beautiful scene that you can then figure out how to slip into.

4. What do I really want?

Be wild. Be forgiving of your wildness. Remember radical self-honesty? Apply it again. This quote has saved my life on more than one occasion:

“Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.” – Rumi

5. What is the most important thing right now? 

Bringing your focus to the present moment is something I believe can heal most internal wounds. Here, lies the truth. Here, we can see what is important. A month ago, the choice to either go to India for a month, or stay home with my husband was nearly tearing me in two. After all, it was only a month! But when I sat down & reflected upon the most important thing RIGHT THIS SECOND, the answer was beautifully obvious. (Just so you know, I’ve still never been to India.)

I can’t exactly say how journaling will help you specifically. Sometimes, you make a grand realization. You find your true passion. Other times, you will finally see what’s been holding you back – for it’s now scarred in ink before your eyes. It’s all about the transformation. The wild journey.

There is so much power in journaling because it helps you become aware of your own thoughts and emotions, of what and who you THINK you are, helping you see things from a totally different perspective. Have you ever kept a journal? Do you think journaling can bring more clarity into your life ?

How I Turned My Wounds into Wisdom and My Difficulties into Opportunities.

“Out of clutter, find simplicity. From discord, find harmony. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” ~ Albert Einstein

For a very long time I looked at my past with shame, guilt, resentment and regret, thinking that many of the things that happened to me in the past shouldn’t have happened, thinking that life treated me unkindly and that I was nothing but a victim of my past and a victim of life.

I did my best to hide all my skeletons in the closet, to pretend as if I had no wounds that needed healing and to act as if none of the horrible things that happened to me in the past had an impact on me. I honestly believed that if I looked somewhere else long enough and if I ignored the sadness that was present within me, the darkness will eventually go away and the light will shine through me and on me once again. But it didn’t.

I grew up with an abusive and alcoholic father and I never really knew how it felt like to be loved and nourished by your own parents. From a very early age I have learned to put on a happy face and to pretend that everything was okay in my world, to pretend I was okay.

I never really spoke with anyone about what was happening in our home. I guess didn’t want people to ask me all kind of weird questions and give me the pity look, even though they still did. It was hard enough for me to cope with everything that was happening and I guess didn’t had any energy left to talk about all of those horrible experiences. I didn’t want to relive the trauma all over again. I wanted to forget about it all and hoping that by doing so it will never happen again, but it did.

I was just a little kid, and that was my way of coping with what was happening in our home, helping me to survive through it all, helping me to deal with my father’s madness and brutality and helping me to stay sane in an insane environment.

This type of behavior and approach to life helped me a lot when I was a little girl, but after my father died, because I was no longer in danger, it would’ve been healthier for me to let my guard down, get out of the protecting mode and go into the safe and healing mode, by talking about what happened and allowing the healing process to begin, but I didn’t. I didn’t know how to do that and as a result I continued to act as if I was still a prisoner of my past. I continued to be ashamed of my past, ashamed that I was physically abused by my own father and ashamed that I was deprived of love, nourishment and a happy childhood, ashamed that my life was “different”.

“But there was no need to be ashamed of tears, for tears bore witness that a man had the greatest of courage, the courage to suffer.” ~ Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

And I continued to create my life from that place place. I continued to create my life with the broken pieces of the past, inflicting a lot of unnecessary pain upon myself and those around me, making my life a living hell.

Things got worse and worse as years went by and in the fall of 2009 my whole life started to collapse. I began to fall apart, piece by piece and I honestly thought that I will never be able to pull myself together ever again and what seemed at that time like the worst year of my life, it later on turned out to be the best year of my life, so far.

I won’t go into details on what happened that fall as I am sharing all of these things in my book but I can guarantee you that its worth the wait.

In that fall, because of everything that was happening and because I felt that I couldn’t take it any longer, I made a commitment to myself to work on loving accepting and loving all my flaws and imperfections and to spend the rest of my life on turning my wounds into wisdom, allowing my past to make me better not bitter. I made a promise to myself to make the best out of every experience life will sends my way, whether good or bad and to make the rest of my life the best of my life.

“Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

And life a fierce pitbull, I began working on letting go of my past, my fears and excuses, the need to complain, criticize, label and blame. I began letting go of all my toxic thoughts and self defeating self talk, my resistance to change, the need to live my life according to other people’s expectations and many of the toxic things, behaviors and people that were holding back in life and it was all happening at a such a rapid speed. That fall, it honestly felt as if something in me awakened, as if a force bigger and more powerful than me took over  my life, making sure that I was safe and protected at all times.

And the more I began letting go of toxic thoughts, people and behaviors, the better my life seemed to get and the happier I became.

“Renew, release, let go. Yesterday’s gone. There’s nothing you can do to bring it back. You can’t “should’ve” done something. You can only DO something. Renew yourself. Release that attachment. Today is a new day!” ~ Steve Maraboli

If for a very long time I looked at my past with shame, guilt, resentment and humiliation, the moment I decided to embrace and accept everything that happened to me, to no longer run and hide from it… the moment I decided to forgive, release and let go of everything that happened,my whole life began to shift.

What once seemed dark, scary and painful was now becoming something full of light, hope, love and compassion… a blessing in disguise.

I wrote the 15 Things You Should Give Up to Be Happy based on everything that happened, based on my own life experience and based on all of the things that I had to give up on in order to move on with my life and become the person that I am today. With over 1.2 Million Facebook Shares, this article ended up becoming the most viral personal growth article in the history of the Internet, opening so many doors and opportunities for me, giving me the chance to speak and share my story at AwesomnessFest  in front of 350 people and to share the stage with people like Lisa Nichols from The Secret, Vishen Lakhiani, founder and CEO of Mindvalley, Dr. Fabrizio Mancini, author of the best selling book The Power of Self-Healing and many others.

“So don’t be frightened, dear friend, if a sadness confronts you larger than any you have ever known, casting its shadow over all you do. You must think that something is happening within you, and remember that life has not forgotten you; it holds you in its hand and will not let you fall. Why would you want to exclude from your life any uneasiness, any pain, any depression, since you don’t know what work they are accomplishing within you?” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke

So why should I complain? Why should I be mad about something that happened to me in the past when I can just build a foundation with all the bricks that were thrown at me and create something that will inspire and empower people from around the world to do the same? Why should I cry over what happened, judge, blame, criticize and complain about what happened when I could focus all my energy on turning my wounds into wisdom and my difficulties into opportunities?

I agree with Eckhart Tolle 100%, that “Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at the moment.”

No matter where you’ve been, no matter how badly life treated up until this moment, there is always a way out… and the way out is always in.

“Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” ~ Carl Jung

It all starts with you! It starts with a commitment to yourself, a promise to honor yourself and your life and to make it a work of art. To give up on all the pointless drama, all the toxic relationships, thoughts and behaviors that are present in your life and to shift your focus from the bad on to the good, trusting by doing so your whole life will be transformed.

It’s true what they say, the way is not in the sky. The way is in the heart. Your salvation will not come from out there but from inside of you because just like  Buddha said it, ”No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.”

Do you agree that life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness or do you think that some people are more fortunate than others and as a result they end up having better and happier lives?

6 Ways to Help Your Child Deal with Anger.

Anger is a feeling that we all experience at some point or another. Yet, similarly to sadness or fear, it’s the kind of feeling we’d rather not be seen with in public. It’s what is classed as a ‘negative’ feeling, a ‘bad’ feeling and we don’t want to be around it.

For many years I worked with children who experienced their own emotions and social interactions as challenging and, as a result, displayed behaviour that was challenging for the adults who took care of them. Unfortunately, many common approaches that were and are still employed to try and help these children are based on this assumption that feelings such as anger are bad, thereby giving children bad messages about their feelings as well as themselves.

Most approaches merely manage the behaviour, i.e. the symptoms but and don’t offer much help in dealing with the cause, the feeling itself.

Here’s what I think would really help a child in dealing with their anger and other difficult feelings:

1. Distinguish between the person, the feeling and the behaviour

Let your child know that it is okay to experience anger and that you understand. Don’t reject them because they are angry. If they start to display behaviour that is harmful to themselves and/or others you need to intervene and possibly remove them from the situation but stay with them and make it clear that you are stopping them from hurting others and/or themselves and not punishing them.

2. Teach mindfulness

Instead of teaching children that anger is a bad feeling that they need to try and get rid of as soon as possible, teach them skills such as mindfulness that enable them to stay with it when it arises and to watch it disappear by itself. Teach them the skill when they are calm and sit with them and guide them through it when they are angry.

3. Facilitate a positive outlet for it

Teach children ways to express and explore their anger safely, for example write down how they are feeling or draw a picture of their anger. Alternatively, just take your child for a walk in nature.

4. Teach children to take responsibility for their feelings

No one makes anyone feel anything. It’s important for children to understand that although a situation might have triggered their anger, the cause of their anger is never the situation but a need of theirs that hasn’t been met. Help them understand that they need to become aware of and take responsibility for their needs and learn how to express them/request for them to be met. (Non-Violent Communication techniques can really help with this. Marshall Rosenberg’s book: ‘Non-violent communication. A language of life’ will give you a great introduction.)

5. Improve self-awareness and communication skills

A lot of anger in children is frustration that comes from the inability to be aware of and express their own needs. Mindfulness, non-violent communication and philosophy for children (P4C) are all great ways to improve these skills.

6. Be a good role model

Most importantly, show your child how to deal with anger by being a good role model. Don’t hide or suppress your own anger. Say that you are angry when you are angry and model self-awareness by explaining why you are angry. Explain the choices you are making as a result.

What do you do to help your child deal with anger?

15 Things You Shouldn’t Give Up to Be Happy.

After doing so much work on improving myself and my life, I have come to realize that happiness is nothing more than a balance between holding on and letting go. In order for you to be really happy, all you have to do is let go of the things that make you unhappy and hold on to those things that make you happy. It’s that simple and yet that complicated.

Because I already wrote an article on letting go called 15 Things You Should Give Up to Be Happywhich became the most viral personal development article in the history of the Internet, I decided that it was time for me to also write an article about the 15 Things You Shouldn’t Give Up to Be Happy. Ready? Here we go:

1. Don’t give up on love

Never ever give up on love and love will not give up on you. Love is what makes the world go round, it’s the glue that holds us together. A life without love is a life empty of meaning. The moment you give up on love you give up on yourself and you give up on life.

“Believe in love. Believe in magic. Hell, believe in Santa Clause. Believe in others. Believe in yourself. Believe in your dreams. If you don’t, who will?” ~ Jon Bon Jovi

2. Don’t give up on real friendships

What is life without honest, real and meaningful friendships? What is life without the love and companion of those who see the beauty, the greatness and the perfection that lies within you?

Give up on meaningless friendships, forced interactions and unnecessary conversations but never give up on real and authentic friendships.

“There are still some wonderful people left in this world! They are diamonds in the rough, but they’re around! You’ll find them when you fall down– they’re the ones who pick you up, who don’t judge, and you had to fall down to see them! When you get up again, remember who your true friends are!” ~ C. JoyBell C.

3. Don’t give up thankfulness

Life isn’t as bad as your mind is trying to make it and you will only be able to recognize this truth the moment you give up criticizing and complaining about the many things that are wrong with the world and start appreciating the many things that are right with it instead. Always remember that good things come to those who have a thankful heart.

“I’m utterly convinced that the key to lifelong success is the regular exercise of a single emotional muscle: gratitude.” ~ Geoffrey James

4. Don’t give up integrity

Learn to “live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.” ~ Marcus Aurelius

When you live life with integrity and self-determination, happiness will follow you wherever you go. Make integrity one of your core values and your life will flourish more and more each day.

5. Don’t give up hope

No matter how many times life will hit you in the head with a brick and no matter how many times you will fall down on your knees feeling lost, abandoned and defeated, never give up hope. You never know when the tide will turn and the Sun will shine on your street once again.

“No. Don’t give up hope just yet. It’s the last thing to go. When you have lost hope, you have lost everything. And when you think all is lost, when all is dire and bleak, there is always hope.” ~ Pittacus Lore

6. Don’t give up on your dreams

Dreams have the power to make you really happy and keep you fully alive. Dreams are food for your soul. A life without dreams is a  life with no soul.

Don’t settle for less than you are worth. Dare to dream big. “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” ~ Les Brown

7. Don’t give up believing in yourself 

Believe in yourself and all that you are because if you don’t chances are that the world around you won’t believe in you either. You are all that you’ve got, your biggest and greatest asset. Learn to “love yourself—accept yourself—forgive yourself—and be good to yourself, because without you the rest of us are without a source of many wonderful things.” ~ Leo F. Buscaglia

8. Don’t give up your authenticity

Life is too short to waste it on pretending to be something you are not. Embrace the real you, your beautiful and authentic self and never let other people define who you are. Always remember than an original is worth a lot more than a copy.

“Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.” ~ Judy Garland

9. Don’t give up kindness

Offer your love and support to those who need and ask for it. Be kind to all living beings, not necessary because they deserve it but because you do. Give with an open heart without expecting anything in return. Why? Because giving is a sign of having and the more you give the more life will give back to you.

“When we feel love and kindness toward others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also to develop inner happiness and peace.” ~ The 14th Dalai Lama

10. Don’t give up simplicity

Living in a constant chase to acquire more stuff, more power, more friends, more money and more of everything is exhausting. You think you’re in control when in fact the things you are chasing after are the ones controlling you. Let go of clutter, whether it is mental, emotional or material and let simplicity govern your life. Happiness comes to those who live a simple life, to those who know that less is more and that quality is better than quantity.

“As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

11. Don’t give up your playful spirit

Let go of all thoughts of limitations about how you should or should not behave based on how old you are. Age is nothing but a number, “an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” ~ Mark Twain

We all have an inner child that wants to come out and play so why not let him or her play? Be playful, be childlike. Have fun in all that you do. Laugh until your belly hurts and then laugh some more.Why take life so seriously? Why take yourself so seriously? A playful life is a happy life and those who give up playfulness give up happiness.

12. Don’t give up faith in humanity

There are plenty of people in this world who act in horrifying and monstrous ways towards themselves and those around them but that doesn’t mean you and I should give up our faith in humanity because of them.

“You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is like an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

13. Don’t give up your vulnerability

Contrary to what you were led to believe, vulnerability is not a sign of weakness but of great strength. Hold on to it. Don’t let it go. Never be afraid to open your heart to those around you. Let them see into your naked soul.

“We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection.” ~ Brené Brown

14. Don’t give up your humility

No matter how far you go in life and no matter how successful you might become, promise yourself to “never look down on anybody unless you’re helping him up.” ~ Jesse Jackson

Humility is the path to greatness, your key to a happier life. To have a humble heart is to have a noble heart. Don’t give up your noble heart.

15. Don’t give up on your ability to forgive

People will lie to you, they will use, mistreat and abuse you, but that doesn’t mean you should continue their work by holding on to poisonous thoughts of hate and resentment. Fill your heart with love and grace. Forgive and let go. Let go of bitterness and resentment but never of love and forgiveness.

“When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free.” ~ Catherine Ponder

Let go of what makes you unhappy, hold on to that which makes you happy and watch your life transform.

What are some of the things you would want to let go in order to be happy? How about the things you would want to hold on in order to be happy?

6 Things You Should Know about True Love.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” ~ 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

We go around looking for love, hoping and wishing to find that ONE person who will make our imperfect life perfect. We fool ourselves into thinking that love can only come from outside of us but rarely from within ourselves.

Love can only be found by love. Love goes where love is. The more love you hold in your heart and the more love you have for yourself, the more love you will be able to attract upon yourself.

Love cannot and will not go to those who have an empty heart. True love comes from within. It starts with you. It comes to you abundantly when there is an abundance of it in your heart. It flow through you and it ends with you.

“Seek not outside yourself, for all your pain comes simply from a futile search for what you want, insisting where it must be found.” ~ from A Course in Miracles

This being said, here are 6 things you should know about true love:

1. Self love is the best way to attract true love

Love yourself with all your heart, for who you are and for who you are not. Be good to yourself and the whole world will be good to you also. If you don’t have love for yourself, you can’t expect to get it from someone else. And even if you get it, it will only be for a little while. It won’t last too long. It doesn’t work that way. Love comes in abundance to those who have it an abundance in their hearts.

“The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely.” ~ C.G. Jung

2. True love is not about finding your completeness in another

You are already whole and complete and the more you learn to love and accept yourself the more you will know this to be true. You really don’t need another person to complete you, you only need someone with whom you can share your completeness. True love is not about finding your completeness in another person but rather about sharing your completeness with them fully in order to grow and expand more and more each day.

3. The love of your life is YOU

Why look outside yourself for something that is already with you? True love starts with you. The love of your life is nobody else but you. Within you lies all the love that you need and desire. In you, not outside of you. The love you will receive from outside of yourself will be nothing but a projection of the love that is present within you.

“Life is just a mirror, and what you see out there, you must first see inside of you.” ~ Wally Amos

4. True love doesn’t need to be fought over

You often hear people say, “if you really love somebody, you have to fight for that person.” I really don’t think so. If you need to “fight” for someone’s love it means it ain’t worth having. It ain’t the real thing. It ain’t love.

“To fight” and “to love” are two opposite things and you can only have one without the other. You can’t have them both.

5. True love is effortless

True love feels easy. It flows and everything comes natural. Where there is true love, there is no need for control, no need for fixing the other person, no need for criticism, judgement, jealousy, blame or any other toxic behaviors. Love is love and that’s all there is to it.

“True love does not come by finding the perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly.” ~ Jason Jordan

6. True love knows no attachment

Love needs to do what love knows best, to love and be loved. Love imposes no demands. Love has no interest in holding on to something or someone. Where there is love there is no attachment and where there is attachment there is no love. These two cannot coexist. 

“The wise are so totally detached, Pain is for those who are attached.” ~ Mohit.K.Misra

This is what true love is all about. Many have heard of it but only a few have really experienced it. Have you?

5 Ways to Let Go of Your Inner Critic and Let the Real You Shine.

“You can’t let praise or criticism get to you. It’s a weakness to get caught up in either one.” ~ John Wooden

If you constantly tell yourself you how much you suck, how not pretty you are, how much smarter you should be, and how much more you should be doing, you are not alone.  Every one of us has an inner critic, and success depends on breaking up with her and getting into bed with your true inner voice.

My inner critic shows up often and uninvited.  Already, this morning, it told me I haven’t gotten enough work done yet (as I write this article), and that I should have had a healthier breakfast (when it was already healthy enough).

For most of my life, I believed the voice when it said I wasn’t smart because I didn’t go to college.  I believed the voice when she said I wasn’t pretty or lovable enough, and that resulted in my getting into bed with men so that I could feel pretty and loved.

I never felt good enough, so I never celebrated my successes: moving from Canada to NYC with $700, getting a GED, developing deep, meaningful friendships and a great career, moving to San Francisco, building another successful personal chef business.  None of those accomplishments mattered because all I could hear was the negative chatter of not having done as much as everybody else.

The truth is, unless you learn to master this voice, you are never going to be satisfied with your life.  This can lead to downright emotional exhaustion.  You can become a doctor, earn millions of dollars, but if the voice inside tells you it’s not enough, you’re going to want to get another shiny degree, or become a billionaire and you still won’t be any happier once you get there.

Here are 5 ways to drown your inner critic and let the real you shine through.

1. Make a list of all your positive traits and successes

List 30 things that are positive about you. Then, list another 30 of your major successes. Keep this list close to you. Refer to it when your inner critic rears itself.  Focusing on the positive qualities and successes helps you feel better about yourself, and feeling better about yourself makes you more productive, happier, and healthier.

2.  Keep an inner critic page in your journal

Awareness is the key to beginning to curb your negative thoughts.  Pay close attention to when your mind starts to trail off.  Write down the thought in your journal so that you can begin to decipher thinking patterns and begin to shift them.  A negative thought pattern may sound like “Gosh, I’m stupid.  I’ll never do anything right.  I can’t get it together.  I’m a mess. I’m scattered.  I’m not as good as she is.  I’m a bad hostess.” Once you’ve got a list going, proceed to the next step.

3. Use thought rebuttals

We’re prone to making blanket statements about ourselves that aren’t true, hearing only what we want to hear when others compliment us, taking things personally, blaming ourselves for not being enough.  We use ‘should’ and and ‘never’ without thinking of whether these things are true.  Next time you write a negative thought in your inner critic page, ask yourself if it’s true?  It most likely isn’t, so write down what is true.  Learning to get in touch with reality will help your true voice come out.

4. Create 3 positive mantras from your list of positive qualities  

Choose 3 positive qualities from your list.  Create 3 positive affirmations you can recite to yourself.  Or write them down on post-it notes and leave them on your bathroom mirror, in your car, or in your purse.  Having a visual aid will help remind you there are some wonderful things about you even when you’re not feeling it.

5.  Visualize a time when you felt successful

Think of a time when you felt successful.  Be it a college graduation, running a 5k, or becoming a big sister, close your eyes.  Recall the smells, colors, and feelings you felt that day.  Visualization is a surprisingly powerful tool that helps reconnect you to a specific feeling, and the more you can connect to that feeling, the more you begin to see yourself as perfect the way you are.

It’s easy to disregard the good parts of you and minimize your accomplishments.  But the more you can make space to find the positive, the more you grow, thrive, and become the human you were meant to become.  Breaking up with your inner critic and learning to listen to your inner voice isn’t easy, and takes real effort and work, but doing the work and breaking free is the most powerful thing you can do to become your best self.

7 Ways to Give up the Victim Mentality and Live with Confidence.

“The problem that we have with a victim mentality is that we forget to see the blessings of the day. Because of this, our spirit is poisoned instead of nourished.” ~ Steve Maraboli

At some point in life, everyone has had to do something against their will.  Everyone has experienced a difficult time when he felt humiliated or betrayed in some way. Many of us have experienced the loss of a loved one, or even of our own health.  Some of us have been victims of violence – at home, in school, or in life…

But while some manage to cope with pain, self-pity, anger and guilt, others come to see themselves as a victim.  The victim mentality is formed not only as a result of sustained violence or humiliation, but also by the environment.  Often people do not recognize and do not even realize that they are acting the victim.

What is the victim mentality?

Seeing yourself as a victim does not necessarily mean that you have been subjected to physical or psychological abuse. A victim is a person, who believes that something or someone is externally controlling his life. Victims see themselves as impotent, believe that external factors control their life, and see life as a wall of insurmountable circumstances.

They feel compelled to do things against their will.  They might complain, but they will still do what they do not want to do, thinking that there is no alternative. It seems like that the whole world is against them.  Victims always feel dependent on the mercy of external forces and blame them for everything that happens in their world.

The victim mentality can be seen in all areas of our lives:

Relationships:  When victims are led to give up their priorities, aspirations, dreams and desires, they lose self-esteem and self-confidence and give up power.  Imagine, for example, a man, who gave up the job of his dreams to please his loved ones. He will feel internal resentment that this happened, and anger at a perceived lack of appreciation and gratitude. Even if he feels offended, humiliated or unappreciated in the relationship, rather than take control of his own life, he will instead complain about how he has been treated. In this way, he assumes the role of a victim.

Everyday life:  Even in the most minor situations, some people manage to make themselves a victim of circumstance. For example, you might ask a colleague for a small favor – say, getting you a cup of coffee. He might complain terribly, saying that people are freeloaders and lazy and live off of others and so on… In the end he will do you the favor but continue to complain internally about the “injustice.”

But the reality of the situation is this – he has been asked for a favor, and he has to make a choice. He could say – “I’m sorry, I’m not passing by the coffee machine;” he could say he is too busy or he could even say that he forgot. There are many ways to respond. In this case, however, he chooses to feed the feelings of self-sacrifice – “I’m so pitiful, people are always taking advantage of me… ” – This is a victim mentality.

The person with a victim mentality has a habit of complaining about everything – for example, he/she always has to cook, he/she is forced to work for that terrible boss, traffic is always awful… These complaints are hiding something – that he/she waits and hopes for someone else to fix things.  The person doesn’t realize that it was all the result of their own choices.

Often, people with a victim mentality will not say anything directly to the friend, who manipulates them or to the boss, who insults and humiliates them.  Instead, they go to someone else to complain and to vent their anger with dramatic tales about their rude and arrogant boss, or their selfish and ungrateful friend. People, who see themselves as a victim of circumstance are always complaining and whining.  Rather than taking political action, they vilify political leaders and blame them for the problems in society.

Victims are constantly asking WHY:  “Why me? Why are people are so evil? Why won’t the boss give me a raise?  Why did he/she leave me?”  As they look for answers to these questions, they torment themselves and their resulting self-pity only reinforces their identity as a victim. The question they should ask themselves is: ” Why did this happen now? What can I learn from this situation? How can I avoid this in the future?”

How can you give the victim mentality?

First, it is important to understand why we take on this mindset – what benefits does it bring?

The victim mentality brings :

Attention – when we are in the victim position, we get attention, sympathy and support from people.

When we are a victim, there is no need to take risks or responsibility.

Being a victim gives us an excuse to explain our life circumstances.  It is an excuse for the fact that we have not achieved anything. We continue thinking that other people have held us back, they haven’t seen our potential, etc.!

Sometimes being a victim makes you feel part of a community.  This community grows out of the very sense that they – the others – are ” bad” and you’re on the “good ” side.  Your anger about the injustice of their speeches gives a dramatic and even heroic sense to your suffering.

“Poor Me” gives you a sense identity (albeit false).  It makes you feel special. This gives you a passive power that calls people to give you attention and pity.

To be able to part with your victim mentality, you must give up the benefits that it brings.

You should also know that creating a new pattern of thinking and behavior takes time, effort and discomfort. Furthermore, when you first begin to change, you may feel unstable, insecure and vulnerable…

But you have to go through this period if you are to regain power and change your life!

Are you ready to give up the victim mentality and live with confidence?

If the answer is “yes,” you can start taking the first steps now:

1. Release the pain of the past.

To overcome your victim mentality, you must release the pain of all those past experiences, buried deep inside. You need to release negative feelings – fear, guilt, hate, anger, self-pity – because they keep you in captivity and reassert your identity as a victim. Forgive those who have hurt you. As I have written elsewhere, forgiveness does not mean justifying the actions of others.  It is a purely internal act of letting go of painful feelings.  Only when you forgive will you be free.

2. Take responsibility for your life.

The main thing you need to do to regain power is to take responsibility for your life – for the feelings, thoughts, and reactions you choose to experience. Realize that the complaining, unhappiness, and blaming does not solve your problems. Think about what you personally can do and take action.

3. Remember that you always have a choice – we can always, in every situation, choose how to react. At any moment we can regain power by making the right choice.

4. Change your vocabulary.

Change the words in your vocabulary that make you feel like a victim. For example, instead of ” should,” think ” choose to;” instead of “I hope,” say “I will;” instead of “There’s no way out,” think “I know there’s a way and I will find it;” instead of ” I can’t” say “I will try.”

5. Learn to say “no.”

People who have a victim mentality, often have difficulty saying “no.”

6. Change your attitude.

Change the focus – from what you don’t have or what makes you feel wronged – to what you do have and your strengths. Keep a notebook, listing everything good in your life and practice being grateful about it.

7. Taking small steps outside of your comfort zone.

Begin with just one small step outside your comfort zone, and you will begin to change from a victim into a confident and self-respecting person.

The floor is yours – are you ready to gain more awareness as to when you are slipping into the ‘victim mentality’? What do you usually do when you catch yourself doing it? How do you take responsibility for your own creation?

10 Magical Things That Start to Happen as You Begin to Love Yourself.

“I love myself…I love you. I love you…I love myself.” ~ Rumi

There is no greater love than self love.

As you begin to embrace and accept yourself fully, you will be able to embrace and accept the world around you fully.

We give what we have and the more love we have for ourselves, the more love we will be able to give to those around us.

True love starts with you. If it flows through you abundantly, it will flow back to  you abundantly.

Give more of it to yourself and you will have more to give to others.

What I will share with you today is a list of 10 magical things that start to happen as you begin to love yourself.

1. Authenticity

“As I began to love myself I found that anguish and emotional suffering are only warning signs that I was living against my own truth. Today, I know, this is “AUTHENTICITY”.

2. Respect

As I began to love myself I understood how much it can offend somebody if I try to force my desires on this person, even though I knew the time was not right and the person was not ready for it, and even though this person was me. Today I call it “RESPECT”.

3. Maturity

As I began to love myself I stopped craving for a different life, and I could see that everything that surrounded me was inviting me to grow. Today I call it “MATURITY”.

4. Self-confidence

As I began to love myself I understood that at any circumstance, I am in the right place at the right time, and everything happens at the exactly right moment. So I could be calm. Today I call it “SELF-CONFIDENCE”.

5. Simplicity

As I began to love myself I quit stealing my own time, and I stopped designing huge projects for the future. Today, I only do what brings me joy and happiness, things I love to do and that make my heart cheer, and I do them in my own way and in my own rhythm. Today I call it “SIMPLICITY”.

6. Love of oneself

As I began to love myself I freed myself of anything that is no good for my health – food, people, things, situations, and everything that drew me down and away from myself. At first I called this attitude a healthy egoism. Today I know it is “LOVE OF ONESELF”.

7. Modesty

As I began to love myself I quit trying to always be right, and ever since I was wrong less of the time. Today I discovered that is “MODESTY”.

8. Fulfillment

As I began to love myself I refused to go on living in the past and worrying about the future. Now, I only live for the moment, where everything is happening. Today I live each day, day by day, and I call it “FULFILLMENT”.

9. Wisdom of the heart

As I began to love myself I recognized that my mind can disturb me and it can make me sick. But as I connected it to my heart, my mind became a valuable ally. Today I call this connection “WISDOM OF THE HEART”.

10. Knowing

We no longer need to fear arguments, confrontations or any kind of problems with ourselves or others. Even stars collide, and out of their crashing new worlds are born. Today I know “THAT IS LIFE”!” ~ (attributed to) Charlie Chaplin on his 70th birthday: As I Began to Love Myself.

Are you ready and willing to start loving yourself more and more each day? What is one thing you will do today to move yourself in that direction?

5 Impossible Goals You Should Stop Going After.

What is an impossible goal? An impossible goal is just what it sounds like: a goal that can’t be accomplished by a human being.

Now I know that you’re not used to hearing something like that on a personal growth blog. You’re used to hearing things like, “If you can conceive it, you can achieve it,” and “There’s nothing you can’t do when you set your mind to it.”

That’s all well and good for the majority of the goals we set. However, the truth is that there are some things that you and I actually CAN’T do.

I often tell my coaching clients that if you continue to go after these impossible goals, you will not only waste your time, money, and effort, you will invariably end up feeling frustrated—not because you didn’t try hard enough, but because you’re going after something you shouldn’t have been going after in the first place.

Here are 5 impossible goals you should stop going after:

1. “I have to make everyone happy.”

The truth is that you CANNOT make everyone else happy. In fact, technically, you can’t “make” ANYONE else happy. Why is that? Because each of us is ultimately responsible for our own happiness or unhappiness.

This impossible goal comes into play a lot in our personal relationships. Have you ever been in a relationship with someone who, no matter what you do for them, no matter how much you give and give and give, they’re still never happy? I can hear some of you saying, “Noah, have you been following me around!?”

Of course, you and I can influence other people’s happiness. But ultimately, you can’t makeanyone else happy.

2.  “I have to be perfect and never make a mistake.”

Yeah, that’s the key to success, all right: be perfect and never make a mistake. Notice how perfect all the highly successful people are. Of course THEY’VE never made a mistake in their LIVES. I hope you are seeing the humor here!

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” ~ Michael Jordan

3. “I have to never fail. Everything I do has to succeed.”

This goes along with Impossible Goal #2, believing that you need to be perfect in order to be successful. One of the ironies of these two impossible goals is that what you are really trying to do is to eliminate the fear of criticism.

Two of the most debilitating fears we have are the fear of failure and the fear of criticism. How many times have you stopped yourself from trying something new because of thoughts like, “What will THEY say if I try this?” or “What if I try and fail?”

Imagine how your life would change if you stopped being afraid of failure and stopped being worried about what other people think or say about you. That’s what can happen when you let go of this impossible goal.

4. “I have to sell 100% of my prospects.”

Are you kidding me? Even if you were to stand on the street corner and start handing out $20 bills, there would STILL be people who wouldn’t take what you’re offering.

And by the way, I wouldn’t recommend doing this; unless, of course, you come over to my house. J

5. “I have to reach all of my goals before I’m 30/40/50/60, etc.”

This is ironic, because we’ve often heard that “a goal is a dream with a deadline”. So we’ve been brainwashed into setting time-centered goals.

However, there’s another truth about life that we don’t often hear and don’t like to admit: Almost everything tends to take twice as long as you think it’s going to take.

That’s why so many people who set a goal for themselves of, for example, retiring by the age of 40 are beating themselves up because they missed that deadline.

We need to realize that most of our time-centered deadlines are actually made up out of thin air. There’s no real magic behind the ages of 30, 40, 50, etc. other than that they are divisible by the number 10.

My point here is for you to stop beating yourself up if you’ve set any of these time-centered goals and have not reached them yet.

If you are feeling that something is “off” about the direction of your life, stop going after these impossible goals and start going after the things that actually make you happy.

How to Let Go of People Who No Longer Need, or Want, to Be in Your Life.

“Some birds are not meant to be caged, that’s all. Their feathers are too bright, their songs too sweet and wild. So you let them go, or when you open the cage to feed them they somehow fly out past you. And the part of you that knows it was wrong to imprison them in the first place rejoices, but still, the place where you live is that much more drab and empty for their departure.” ~ Stephen King

One of the hardest things in life is to let go of the people we love the most.

We hold on to those close to us so tightly, fearing that without them we will be nothing. Fearing that without them the love we feel in our hearts will be forever lost.

Our attachment interferes with the love we have for them, taking away from the purity and the beauty that love has to offer.

Deepak Chopra says it best with these words: “Love allows your beloved the freedom to be unlike you. Attachment asks for conformity to your needs and desires. Love imposes no demands. Attachment expresses an overwhelming demand – “Make me feel whole.” Love expands beyond the limits of two people. Attachment tries to exclude everything but two people.”

I have been in a relationship with my former long-time boyfriend for almost 10 years, on and off and even though our relationship became very toxic after the first 3 years, I found it impossible to let go simply because I knew that without him I would be very unhappy and the irony is that I was already very unhappy, we both were.

“No matter how much suffering you went through, you never wanted to let go of those memories.” ~ Haruki Murakami

Letting go doesn’t have to be that hard, in fact, it becomes easier and easier as we learn to accept, appreciate and love ourselves for who we are and for who we are not.

Releasing and letting go will help you return to a place of peace and tranquility.

There comes a time in our lives when we have to do what’s right and to honor not only ourselves, but also the people around us. It’s the relationship that you are letting go of but not the love you have for the other person.

If you love something, if you love someone, and if you feel that you need to let go of them, if it’s required to let go, do it. It might hurt at first but once the pain is gone you will feel more alive than you have ever felt. You will start to see things from a totally different perspective and you will understand that letting go is a sign of strength, of courage and of great love.

You let go of someone not because you no longer care, not because you no longer need and want them in your life, but because you understand that they will be happier someplace else. You will be happy someplace else.

This is what true love is all about.

Real love transcends the material plane and no matter if your bodies are apart, your souls will forever be connected.

“There is no such thing as a “broken family.” Family is family, and is not determined by marriage certificates, divorce papers, and adoption documents. Families are made in the heart. The only time family becomes null is when those ties in the heart are cut. If you cut those ties, those people are not your family. If you make those ties, those people are your family. And if you hate those ties, those people will still be your family because whatever you hate will always be with you.” ~ C. JoyBell C.

If you haven’t found a way to be at peace with yourself, and if you haven’t found a way to be happy on your own, chances are that you won’t be happy next the person you love either. You can’t expect to get from others what you yourself don’t have to offer.

Love yourself. Be good to yourself.

Change the thoughts you think and the words you speak. Purify your internal dialogue. Learn to talk to, and about, yourself in the same way you would talk to, and about, those you love the most.

Meditate. Spend time alone. Take a walk and explore nature with your senses. Write about your thoughts and feelings. Do something you’re passionate about. Go out with your friends. Laugh, dance, be silly, be weird, be playful, be childlike. Do all the things that bring you joy and laughter.

Treat yourself with kindness, love and compassion and learn to express your gratitude for the many gifts life offered you up until this moment.

Take your focus away from those things that cause you to feel pain, stress, anxiety, fear and unhappiness, on to those things that make your heart sing, on to those things that make you happy.

This too shall pass and the more you learn to enjoy your own company, the more comfortable you will be with this idea of letting go and all of a sudden life will become a lot easier.

“Be like the forces of nature: when it blows, there is only wind; when it rains, there is only rain; when the clouds pass, the sun shines through.” ~ Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

Let go and trust that maybe life has better plans for you. Go with the flow and not against it.

Why hold on to something good when life wants you to have something better?

Are you holding on to something or someone you need to let go of? Why? What keep you from letting go?