I have made so many positive changes in the last year and I am so pumped they haven’t gone unnoticed. A friend told me last week, “You’ve changed so much since I first met you.” I paused, held my breath and hoped for the best. It is always hard hearing someone’s opinion about you “changing” as a thirty something year old.
Her words were just what I needed to hear though and she was so right, “You’ve changed in a GOOD way. You’re so much stronger now.” She gave me a knowing look and a nod and I knew immediately that she wasn’t referring to my weekly gym pumping sessions and their impact. Though, I AM finally seeing changes and getting stronger physically too. She did however mean something much deeper than that.
She was referring to my souls depth. My insight. My beliefs. My outlook on life. The way I have changed the way I react to the world and the people I encounter. The way I see myself and the way I let others treat me.
I’ve done a lot of soul searching to get to this point of strength both mentally and physically. But more than that, I’ve really focused on growing the strength of my character and spirit this year. I have shared a little bit about these mental growing pains on my social channel HERE, but I have left this spot, mostly, to focus on sharing our DIY and decor makeovers. But do you know what? I think this last year I have encountered one of my own personal biggest makeovers and what I focused on I know will help YOU! At the end of the day, I am, and you are the only ones responsible for our outlooks on life, we might as well, sooner than later, DIY the changes we want to see in ourselves. Personally, I didn’t like how my outlook changed over the last couple of years. I had allowed the way others treated me determine the way I viewed and treated myself and it wasn’t good. Last year around this time, I said to myself that enough was enough and I decided I was going to not only makeover our home and our spaces, but I was also going to makeover my outlook on life and my appreciation for all the good that I had in it.
I just had to focus on the good first.
Have you ever felt defeated? That every time you turn around you are being bombarded with criticism? That with every negative encounter, you feel less like yourself and more like a stranger? Do you take in others pain and problems and treat them as your own? Do you let the negative interactions of your day, build and build until you feel like you can’t take it anymore? If you answered yes to any of these (I screamed a big YES to all of them!) then my next question is: “What did you do with your situation when you felt like that?” Did you numb it away as best you could? Run for the hills and hope Laguna Beach could be found and you could bury your head in the sand like an unassuming wannabe ostrich? (Props to anyone who read that last sentence and quietly wondered what Lauren Conrad is now doing with her life.)
OR, did you throw yourself into the yearning of getting away from the feelings of losing your stability and sanity? Maybe you chose on-line shopping, binging your pantry, drinking to excess, searching for attention or engaging in recreational distractions to divert your bubbling feelings of negativity?
Maybe you did. Maybe you didn’t. Maybe you are right in the middle of your turmoil and you feel weak and sad? Maybe you’re just looking to find a light at the end of a dark tunnel you’ve been feeling your way through.
Maybe you are like me and you are done wallowing and running and instead you just want to get strong, in every capacity.
If you answered yes to any of those, I hope you don’t feel so alone in your struggles by knowing I have been there too. Most recently, last year at this time, and right before I started making positive changes that haven’t gone unnoticed. Are you curious as to what I did to get started with changing my daily outlook and eventually my daily actions and internal dialogue to myself and about others?
Well, here we go! I am sharing with you from my heart today and I hope you will see its depths.
Here are the top seven things I’ve learned this year that I have also worked through daily. Ultimately, I have transformed my focus, my mental health and my subconscious way of thinking — all for the better! Amongst other things I will share in the future, these seven reminders have changed me. I’ve gone from feeling overwhelmed and anxious by those around me and things out of my control to learning how to own personal empowerment, my God-given gifts, the lessons my shortcomings teach me all while striving to live a judgement free life full of compassion.
Allow me to give you the down low and the steps that have made a massive impact on me.
Believe in yourself.
Have you ever coached sports or mentored a child? Maybe you have a child of your own? Maybe you have a fur baby of your own. Well, you know how you feel when you see that child, or four legged friend accomplish something, right? If you’re like me (and every other lovestruck adult who’s ever loved something cute and or furry) you TOO get so excited that you squeal like a hyena and endlessly praise the tiny subject of your attention when they accomplish a new task. At first, they will undoubtedly look at you in shock and wonder at themselves, and you will find yourself momentarily asking WHY? You know the look right? The one from the tiny one you love that is filled with wide eyed disbelief and doubt that slowlllllyyyyyyy turns into excited pride (and sometimes ferocious tail wagging if they’re super hairy!) 😉
Well, start believing in yourself the same way you believed in Sparky when you were teaching him to sit or your little one when they learned to wobble on their own two feet or properly feed themselves. You had no doubt, did you? You knew they could do it! You just simply believed that practice makes perfect and you’d help them get there. You believed fully in their capability, didn’t you?
Now, try THAT with yourself.
Try it over and over and OVER again until you pass that part of wide eyed disbelief and go right happy- I-believe-in-myself-gratitude when you accomplish anything you set your mind to.
Trust your abilities.
Your natural abilities are the skills and talents you were born with. You know that way only you have that can make your family belly laugh until you’re all rolling around on Grandma’s shag carpet in happy hysterics? Yeah, that’s your talent.
Remember how your grade school teacher told you that you owned quiet confidence? Again, that’s an ability you’ve been uniquely granted. Just like the physical abilities you’ve honed through your life time, you also have an extensive list of natural abilities that make people drawn into your quiet, thoughtful and introspective ways or your outgoing, bubbly, over the top demeanor.
Maybe it’s your natural humility or the way you can’t hide your heart from your sleeve? Whatever the case, you need to own and TRUST your abilities. You haven’t been granted the things you are good at just for the heck of it. Your gifts are divinely granted and it’s time that you trust in yourself the way others trust that you’re going to make them laugh their pants off in your presence or, on the other hand, the way you’ll reassure them through their pain. Trusting your abilities is one of the biggest gifts you can give yourself in a world where criticism is king. Don’t be a critic of your own abilities, own them and hone them and I promise you others will remember you for the way you are uniquely you.
“Become a possibilitarian. No matter how dark things seem to be or actually are, raise your sights and see possibilities – always see them, for they’re always there.”
— Norman Vincent Peale
Grow through your weaknesses
We all have weaknesses, and I’m not just talking about my love for anything peanut butter-chocolate or my aversion to all things mathematics. Nope, I’m talking about the things that make us question ourselves. Maybe one of our weakness is a negative internal dialogue, maybe it’s easily gossiping when we feel insecure, maybe it’s losing our cool with our kids or working on our self regulation when we are overwhelmed. Whatever our weaknesses are, we need to consistently try to grow bigger than them.
How do we do that?
We learn how to combat our weaknesses.
Negative internal dialogue? Start your day off by reading positive affirmations! Feeling insecure and wanting to tear down others because of it? Get to the root of your insecurity and start talking about yourself differently! If you’re a natural communicator, biting your tongue can be difficult, but drawing the line between conversation and gossip shouldn’t be that hard. Ask yourself, would I say this or that in front of the person I’m mentioning? If the answer is “Nah..” Than you’ve turned from talking to gossiping and fast. To counteract, learn to talk about things that inspire you and motivate you over talking about others. I guarantee you will attract a positive and large like minded tribe simply by learning from and growing through your weakness.
“Excellence is not a skill. It is an attitude.”
— Ralph Marston
Own your strengths
Sometimes it is hard to know what our strengths are. If we are a recovering perfectionist, or someone who is stuck in a rut, it is much easier to pick out our shortcomings. But, that doesn’t help anyone. So, I would suggest listing out your strengths as they are known to you. Not only will this help you cultivate a spirit of gratitude for being uniquely you, but it will also help build your self esteem, crush your negative self talk and will reiterate to your conscious that you are holding true to your beliefs and moral compass.
Start your list with the things you would write to a friend in a thank you letter, but instead, put “I am…” in front of the compliments.
I am a gracious hostess.
I am a giving friend.
I am a confident creative.
I am a ….. and so on and so on….
It is impossible to NOT follow your dreams when you are owning your strengths. By reminding yourself of what you are good at and what your talents are, you will undoubtedly pursue your goals, because you have belief in your strengths.
“To begin to think with purpose is to enter the ranks of those strong ones who only recognize failure as one of the pathways to attainment.”
— James Allen
Once you have fallen into the habit of following the above suggestions, it will be quite easy to release negativity. You will already have your negative self talk under control and because our internal dialogue plays a vital role in deriving meaning from our life and reality, we will easily be able to release unserving negativity from our thoughts.
Setting boundaries with those who speak negatively to you is also key to releasing negativity from your life. Unless you are a therapist, social worker (or a hairdresser in my case) you probably are not getting paid to listen to blatant negativity. Not only will it not add any value to your life, but listening to negativity can actually quite quickly and effectively rob you of all of your joy. Or a lot of it, trust me on this one. Setting boundaries can be hard, but you are not responsible for carrying on relationships that cause you turmoil. You are actually responsible to protect yourself from persistent pessimism. Your heart and head with thank you. Set boundaries and set them often.
“There is little difference in people, but that little difference makes a big difference. The little difference is attitude. The big difference is whether it is positive or negative.”
— W. Clement Stone
Think the best of others.
Did that barista totally curl up her nose at you this morning? How about the driving maniac in the parking lot at school; he was completely senseless as he screeched past you, wasn’t he? What about that old friend who made that vague Facebook post you’re certain is exaggerated and pointed right at you? How about your spouse who obviously doesn’t care about you because they left their dirty laundry all over the bathroom floor and then left your car’s gas tank on the big fat empty mark, they are so self consumed aren’t they?
What if we stopped ourselves every time we thought something bad about someone else. What if we taught ourselves to pause, to feel those feelings of offence, but THEN, to think about if we were in the other person’s shoes? I know we’ve all heard that saying since the beginning of time, when we would fight with the neighbourhood kids, or our siblings, or with that brat from the playground that stole our shovel in the sand box, BUT what if we actually did THAT? What if we put ourselves in their shoes before getting offended.
WHAT IF, we stopped and realized that most people live intentionally to do their best.
That barista learned she lost her job that morning. The parking lot maniac had a death in the family that week and was just trying to hold it together while dropping his kids at school so he could go find a quiet corner and let out the tears. The old friend with the vague facebook post has been struggling hard with an array of life issues and is desperately searching for any type of attention they can get. Your messy selfish spouse? They actually let you sleep through the night and got up in the middle of the night to quietly clean up dog puke. After dealing with the mess for more than an hour, they couldn’t fall back to sleep and unintentional slept through their alarm and to do list for the following morning. PS: You didn’t know about the midnight dog debacle because they did such a great job tidying up, hoping to elevate some stress for you.
If we can change the way we think about others, and believe, truly, that others are just trying their best and striving for acceptance, we would irrevocably live in less anger and judgement. Believing that the world isn’t made up of awful people and that most are just trying to make it through the day, like you, will eventually have you thinking the best of others. The outcome? So much less personal stress and worry!
“The excursion is the same when you go looking for your sorrow as when you go looking for your joy.”
— Eudora Welty
Lead with kindness.
Kindness is a popular term that sometimes seems overused as of late. To me, I’ve looked at the word as if it’s just an act: to “be” kind. But I’ve learned after a lot of reflection that kindness isn’t initially a way of living, it actually has to be a way of THINKING first.
Kindness is the quality of being friendly, generous and considerate, all “doing” qualities, but it starts with genuine empathy, concern, thoughtfulness, sympathy, understanding, compassion and unselfishness. All ways of thinking.
If we try to live a life that leads with kindness we will be full of empathy and concern for those around us. Over time, it will consume our thinking and will naturally come out in benevolent gestures.
This can be as small as letting a stranger merge into our lane with a smile on our faces (my husband is the king of this no matter what our time line!) offering to hold a door for someone, nodding politely to the stranger at the gym and showing concern when people confide in us and on and on and on and ON!
If we lead with unexpected, undeserving, gracious filled kindness, we offer the least costly, but most effective act of human care to others.
“Always show more kindness than seems necessary, because the person receiving it needs it more than you will ever know.”
— Colin Powell
I am still learning to own and operate under these seven thoughts and ways of thinking. It hasn’t been easy, to live out these initiatives when it is much easier to live in self doubt and all around judgement and despondency, but it is worth the effort. We are allotted this one life and we have opportunities to change when we feel stuck. For me, these positive perspectives have changed my way of looking at the world and myself and has easily overflowed into every area of my life. I want the same for you. XO
I would love to know your thoughts on what helps you make positive life altering changes. Leave a comment below or come join the conversation on INSTAGRAM. I would love to connect and keep this conversation going.
“A happy person is not a person in a certain set of circumstances, but rather a person with a certain set of attitudes.”
— Hugh Downs