Who do I have to be?

Who do I have to be for them to like me? Consciously or subconsciously, how much of your life is driven by this question? How much of yourself do you lose in order to be liked? Or maybe you no longer know who you are because you’ve spent so much of your life looking for the acceptance of others.

There is a term used in psychology called ‘Status Anxiety’ and it results from a focus on how you are perceived by others.  It essentially stems from the constant comparison between your life and the lives of others. And depending on your views and exposure, sometimes you feel greater than and other times less than others.

Both of these feelings can drive you to behave in ways that are not beneficial to you. They create a constant state of anxiety that you are better than or not as good as some. Learning to live comfortably in your own skin is no easy task because you are constantly bombarded with external information of who you ‘should’ be.

Take a moment today to think about one thing you know in your heart that you do, not because you want to but because you want people to see you in certain way. You don’t need to share this with anyone but realize that these behaviors compound over time and if you’re not careful then eventually almost all you do will be for the acceptance of others.

“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself. “  – Thich Nhat Hanh

I’ve never done that before

How often do you find yourself saying the phrase, I’ve never done that before? If you don’t remember the last time you said that then it’s been too long since you’ve done something different. You see, that phrase tells you that you’re about to do or have done something outside of your usual behavior.

Now obviously there can be negative consequences to doing certain things you’ve never done before but hopefully you’ll steer away from the ones that can harm you or others. However, on the other side of the coin there will be adventure, excitement and growth.

Finding opportunities to do things you haven’t done before should be something you look to do on a regular basis. You can choose how big or small you want the experience to be, but get out there and look for the opportunity to say ‘I’ve never done that before.’

“The only source of knowledge is experience.” – Albert Einstein

The moment before the action

Do you ever pay attention to the moment before you act? It takes a little practice but the next time you respond to someone or something really hone in on the moment and see if you can change your response. Obviously you can’t do this every time but even if you only do it a few times in a day it can lead to some interesting results.

The first step to focusing in on the moment is being present and aware. If you’re on a call then close your eyes to avoid additional stimuli or if you’re speaking to someone in person then really focus in on the persons face or eyes. And please do it in I’m not a sociopath non-creepy way.

Focusing in on the moments before you act can help you change how you react. It can help you process information differently which can then give you new perspectives. Researchers have found during brain scans that in some cases your brain has actually made a decision to do something 7 seconds before you take action. Imagine that, 7 whole seconds before you finished reading this your brain already decided how you would respond to reading this, and how much you liked it : )

“Magic can be made in the moments before the actions.” – Suriya

A penny for your thoughts

How much are your thoughts worth to you? Have you ever considered placing a real value on your ‘thinking time?’ Or is your mind an open playground where other people’s thoughts and ideas can come and play at will?

You’ve probably seen an old playground that has been rutted and worn down so much due to lack of upkeep that eventually it’s no good for anyone. Well, if you keep allowing others to access your mind and your time then you too will be no good for anyone, including yourself.

Stepping away from the constant allure of conversation, distractions and the need to respond to every request of your time is hard to do because your brain loves being ‘wanted,’ and it doesn’t want to ‘miss out.’ However, if you stay constantly engaged then you can no longer pay attention to your own thoughts and if you don’t place a value on your thoughts then you really can’t expect others to.

“Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason why so few engage in it.” – Henry Ford

Argue with an open mind

Do you know that once you get in to an argument the chances of you changing your mind even if you’re wrong is extremely slim? Research shows that when you’re in an argument your mind is now in a win lose position, so because of this commitment to winning you essentially shut down to any new ideas. You go in to a ‘prove them wrong’ mission.

It might seem at the time that you are attempting to use logic and that of course you’re right but taking a moment to consider the other parties positon can really help prevent an argument getting out of control. In most cases people don’t set out to argue but once they feel their positions being attacked they move in to a defensive posture. I’m sure there’s been a time when you’ve asked ‘why am I arguing’ and have forgotten the reason the argument started in the first place.

Learning to control your emotions during an argument is something you can learn over time. A key step to doing this is the humility to believe that you could be wrong. This is the most difficult step to take but it will enable you to argue with an open mind and will also save many of your arguments diving out of control.

“Don’t let your pride always push you to proving people wrong.” – Suriya

How to let go of negative feelings

How long do you hold on to a negative feeling? Is it minutes, days, months? How many stories do you have to tell yourself in order to hold on that feeling? Do you tell yourself that you just can’t believe how a person behaved towards you or how you deserved better or the situation should have been different? Well, the truth is that they behaved in their best interest and the situation just is and is now in the past.

Any time you spend time dwelling on what happened to you is energy you could be using to focus on something else. The fact is that you will be wronged by people and things will not always go your way, but hanging on to your feelings about what has passed is not a worthy endeavor.

You can train yourself to get rid of negative feelings faster by practicing new responses and behaviors. The next time you have a negative feeling immediately think of something positive, and you will see that this will help you create a new pattern of thinking. This kind of practice will actually rewire your brain to the point that eventually this will become your new reaction. So spend a moment today releasing one negative feeling that you’ve been holding on to and free up that brain space for a positive feeling.

“There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.” – William Shakespeare

What makes you unique?

Have you ever been asked what makes you unique? Perhaps during an interview or in the ‘qualification’ for a certain position. Do you struggle to answer the question? I certainly do. From purely biological standpoint the combination of cells and DNA that you are made up from are what make you unique and to the best of my knowledge have never been replicated, but what else makes you unique?

Here’s the cheat answer to what makes you unique, it’s your patterns of thought. Yes, you might find others that think similarly to you but very rarely will they think exactly like you and the follow on is how they respond to their thoughts in comparison to you.

So, if you ever feel like just another sardine in the can looking and living like everyone else, remember that although from a physical perspective you might be similar, mentally you have the opportunity to be very different. You have the opportunity to be unique.

“The more you like yourself, the less you are like anyone else, which makes you unique.” – Walt Disney

Are you open to learning?

How open are you to learning? Learning about how to do your job better, to be a better spouse, parent or a better person overall. Do you shun learning because you already believe you’re good enough or an expert in your area of life? Do you catch yourself saying, “I already know how to do that?”

The danger in thinking that you already know how to do something is that you don’t leave yourself open to improvement. You continue to do what you know how to do based on old information while the world around you is constantly changing. There are new techniques being created every day for every skill you can imagine, but you won’t seek them out because you’re fixed in your mindset.

True masters or experts know that even the fundamentals in area of life can be improved upon and this is what makes them experts. They know that even though they have a high degree of skill it can always be improved. Try an experiment this week. Choose an area in your professional or personal life and do some research on Amazon on the number of books about that specific topic. You’ll probably find books about your topic that were written a long time ago and also new books based on new research. Hopefully when you see the search results you’ll realize that what you know is only the beginning and there’s always more to learn.

“Each of you is perfect the way you are … and you can use a little improvement.” – Shunryu Suzuki

Reading

What are you reading? Are you reading material that that gives you a mental and emotional boost or does it bring you down? Do you spend your day’s just scanning articles and click bait or do you make time to read books that really interest you?

Reading is one of those simple acts that can change your entire life. You can learn about countries that you might never visit or experiences that can thrill and educate you. Unfortunately most people don’t take time to really explore just how much good reading material there really is.

With the rise of audiobooks and e-readers you can now find ways to read that suit your personal style. Many public libraries also offer e-books and audiobooks. So next time instead of watching whatever’s next on the TV or just aimlessly surfing the web, carve out 20 minutes and dig into a book. You never know what you might find.

“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.” – Joseph Addison

Commit to investing in You

Are you watching the Olympics? Even if you’re not I’m sure you’re at least aware that that they’re taking place. So many of the events that are part of the Olympics take a matter of seconds to execute yet the athletes have committed to training for years just to make an appearance. Can you imagine training for years for a less than 10 second activity? But that’s the kind of approach it takes to be world class.

Now you may not want to be a world class athlete but what if you want to be great at something else. What if you want to be excellent at your job, your relationships, or your life? Are you committed to being the best you can? Are you putting in the work to get better or are you just wanting ‘better’ to happen by itself?

The good news is that you can improve any area of your life if you really commit to it. Many of the athletes you see performing have full time jobs but find the time to commit to their craft and you can too. You don’t have to commit to hours all at once, just a few minutes a day will add up and can make a big difference. So be inspired by these individuals that have practiced for years for an activity that lasts less than a few seconds and commit to investing a few minutes in you for a skill that can last a lifetime.

“If you don’t invest time in you, then who will?” – Suriya