“The grass is greener” and other lies we tell ourselves

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Is the grass really greener on the other side?

Sometimes it seems as if everybody in the world, or at least those in our immediate circle, are doing so much better than us. These people seem to have fulfilling relationships, better jobs, well behaved attractive kids, more money, better looking bodies, etc. All you have to do is log into Facebook and be bombarded with everyone’s successes. And if not success, it certainly feels like everybody else is having so much more fun than we are. After viewing endless pics of new and/or seemingly wonderful relationships, posts about new jobs, and social events, it’s easy to log out feeling unhappy about your lot in life.

And it doesn’t have to be just social media. Sometimes we  look at our friends, families, and co-workers and feel envious. I think we can all think of a person or two that we are super envious of. We might think this person is just super lucky and everything they do seems to turn out well, while we feel like a failure. We think about the ways that we feel our life is lacking and all the things that we want but can’t seem to ever get. We may even feel like everyone else is doing something right that we just don’t know how to do.

These feelings are more common that you are probably aware of.  But I’d like to disrupt these thought patterns because they make us feel bad about ourselves and like we are less than others. Here are some ways to fight feelings of inadequacy when comparing yourself to others:

1. Remember that what you are seeing and hearing is a snapshot in time.

Think about the pictures you have in your possession.  Scroll through your phone gallery if you have to. Flip through a photo album. Pick a picture that you remember taking. Reflect on the day you took it. Think about what happened immediately before the picture was snapped and afterwards. Think about what was going through your mind when the picture was taken. Now ask yourself, does the picture show all of that? The answer is NO! A picture reflects the one second the shutter opens and closes and nothing more. Does that lessen the value of the picture? No. But it puts it into perspective.

When we see people who seem to have all the things we want, remember that we are only witnessing a moment in time in their life and that things were not always this way and that things constantly change. Think about the “lottery curse.” We may be envious of someone who just won a multi-million dollar lottery. We may think  “Wow, if I won the lottery all my problems will be solved.” But the truth is that people often don’t lose all their problems, they just have new and different problems. And what we know about lottery winners is that often times, long after the infamous pictures with the huge checks are taken, lottery winners often end up losing all of their money, suffering from depression, and losing friends, and sometimes even worse. But we don’t see that or think about that at the moment of the win. All we see is someone’s good fortune which tends to remind us of the ways in which we had more or better.

But having and keeping perspective matters.

2. Remember that people only tell us/show us what they want us to know.

A couple of years ago, a co-worker who I didn’t know very well asked me to have drinks and appetizers after work with her. We chose a popular after work spot, but since we had gotten out of work in the early afternoon there weren’t many people in the restaurant yet. It was a pretty slow afternoon and except for us and a large group of European tourists who happened to be sitting just behind us, the restaurant was pretty empty. But as soon as we ordered our drinks my co-worker started snapping pictures of the cocktails and the tourists behind us. Less than than 15 minutes after our arrival, she began posting these pictures of our outing on Instagram. And in the pictures, it really looked like we were having the time of our lives.  People immediately began “liking” and commenting on the pics with things like “I wish I was there!,” and “Next time take me too!” If I wasn’t sitting there in that moment and had only seen the pictures she posted I would have thought the same things.  But the truth of the matter was we didn’t know each other very well,  had just happened to stop in a pretty slow restaurant for a quick drink before we individually went about our business.

I share this story to drive the point that people tend to show us what they want us to see and in the way they want us to see them. People do PR for themselves.  People readily share the things they think will elicit positive responses from other people. And I don’t write this to make you skeptical of everyone or to insinuate that everybody is untruthful, but more to remind you that there are other things that go on in people’s lives that they do not take pictures of,  post or share with others. For example, people don’t take pictures during the moment they get dumped or rejected by their significant other, or at the moment when they get fired, or when they get turned down for a loan due to bad credit, or in the countless other ways that they are disappointed. That would be unflattering (and not to mention kinda weird).  But these disappointing moments happen to all of us. Keep this in mind when  getting down on yourself when someone is sharing their success and fun.

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3. Be genuinely happy for others when good things happen for them.

Achieving success, happiness, and good fortune is not a competition. When one person gets something, it does not mean that there is less for you.

When we hear and see other people sincerely enjoying life, the best thing to do is to be genuinely happy about their good fortune. Being happy for others is fully recognizing that success and happiness is possible for everyone. When positive emotions abound, it increases the chances that more positive things will happen.

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Have you ever been in a good mood and smiled at someone, maybe even a stranger, just because you couldn’t contain the positive emotions inside of you? I confess that this happens to me often. Nine times out of ten what happens is that the other person smiles back or shares something they normally would not have. I’ve gotten free tickets, discounts, and one time even a free microwave (but that’s a whole other story.)

But anyway, the point is that when positive energy exists for one person and you openly and honestly share the happiness of the moment, it opens you up to experience positive energy as well. And if for no other reason, choosing happiness is almost always a better alternative to choosing bitterness and resentment. Because remember, we choose our thoughts and actions. And bitterness and resentment will not bring good fortune to us.

4. Appreciate all that is you. Remember there is something about you that people envy.

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No matter what your status is in life, there are people who are envious of it. For example, single people might envy the security and love that they think married people experience, while married people might envy the options and freedom that they think single people experience. People with kids might be envious of the lack of responsibility and freedom that think people without kids have, while people without kids might be envious of the bonds they think parents have with their children. Have you ever looked at picture of yourself from the past and thought, “Man, I remember those days. That was a good time.”? But if we are honest with ourselves and really think back to the “good old days” of the picture we can remember all of the problems and concerns we had too. Looking at high school pictures you might remember how you couldn’t wait to have freedom and be on your own and how things were going to be so much better once you were an adult. Now as an adult you can look back and wish again for those carefree days.

And so regardless of what you have or don’t have, how old you are, or what your status is, it is helpful to keep in mind that where you are right now is o.k. And furthermore, remember that things change and you are in one snapshot in time. Everyone gets older. People who are single will not always be single. People who are married or in a relationship will not always be. Children grow up and move away. People with jobs become unemployed and/or find new jobs. Unemployed people find jobs. People lose weight and gain weight.

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Given that every situation is enviable in some way, I think it is most satisfying to acknowledge what you have and don’t have at this very moment, be super appreciative of it, and make the most of it. Celebrate and revel in where you are and what you have today.  The grass is already lush and green right under your beautiful feet.

It is what it is…. 3 Ways to learn Total Acceptance

0a09dbfb434fe328206a36a2e784983aI have a question for you: At this very moment, how do you feel about yourself and your life?

I bet you can list a million and one things about your life that you wish were different. Like many people you may wish that you had more money, or that you were in a meaningful relationship, or that you had a better job. You might even be wishing for a complete life overhaul because the state of things is so far away from where you imagine they should be.

A constant feeling of dissatisfaction develops when we are always focused on how we want things to be different. And sometimes this dissatisfaction grows into pain, anguish, anxiety, depression, and constant anger that we can’t ever seem to shake. Wallowing in dissatisfaction robs us of so much of our life energy. In other words, we spend so much time focused on what we think is wrong and lacking, that we can’t appreciate or even see clearly the things that are present and right. And sometimes concentrating on dissatisfaction can make problems and challenges seem bigger than what they are.

Learning to practice acceptance can drastically improve our outlook on our current state of affairs.  And not just any old acceptance, but TOTAL ACCEPTANCE.

When my mom passed away last year, it was hard to wrap my mind around it. And so many thoughts raced through my mind including, “How could my mom pass away so young? This is not fair! Why did this have to happen my mom?” Aside from being hurt and sad, a part of me was also angry and ruminated in those feelings for awhile. Part of my grieving process was coming to accept what was. I realized that no amount of anger and suffering was going to change the fact that my mom had passed away earlier than I would have liked. I had to accept it.

Total acceptance means that you accept your life and yourself as it is in this very moment. All of it. Even the parts you have the power to change because IT IS WHAT IT IS. Total acceptance means honestly accepting your life without judging, without the negative self-talk, and without the harmful criticism. When we accept the present state of things and don’t judge it based on what we think “should” be, we can let go of the painful emotions associated with the judgement.

For instance, someone may regret choices they made with money in the past and become angry with themselves because they feel they should currently have more. They may constantly beat themselves up by saying, “I am in my 30s and I should have more money by now. I made a lot of stupid choices with my money.” But a total acceptance mindset would allow us to see things differently. Instead we might say,  “I’m in my 30s and I have learned a lot about wealth and money through trial and error. I am hopeful that these experiences and knowledge will help direct my future behavior with money.” Total acceptance helps us to see things objectively, not catastrophize things, and gives us the room to behave differently in the future.

Now keep in mind that I am not saying that having goals is not helpful.  In fact, sometimes dissatisfaction is useful because it urges us to act and move toward our goals.  And I am also not ignoring that fact that changing certain behaviors and circumstances might in fact improve our lives greatly. But what I am saying is that beating yourself up in the mean time and ignoring things that do in fact bring comfort and satisfaction, won’t bring about those changes any quicker and most times such behavior even serves as an obstacle to reaching goals.

The important thing to remember is that regardless of what does or does not happen in the future, this moment is your life. And your life is finite. This moment is real and it is your reality. And even if you are able to change things, this moment will always be part of your story. You have to accept the reality of your current moment before you can make realistic and lasting changes in the future. Don’t spend your life energy wishing for a different life. You are much too fabulous for that! Instead, learn to accept what is and develop a healthy relationship with the present moment.

3 ways to practice total acceptance:

1. Remember that your current life is a result of a number of things both within and out of your control.

You did not wake up this morning suddenly in you current circumstances. Your present moment is a result of a long list of factors that occurred over a long period of time. Some of those things were in your control and some of those things were not. For example, you did not choose your family of origin or the circumstances of your birth. You did not choose where you were born. You did not choose your genetic make up. And these things matter a great deal. We have to accept the things that we did not choose. It is what it is. And no amount of dissatisfaction and anger will change these things. Totally accepting these things is freeing and allows us to use our energy to focus on other things.

2. Don’t be so hard on yourself

Understand that at any given moment, we make the best decisions that we know how. Sometimes, we figure out later that those decisions could have been better, but in the moment we do the best we know how. And remember that though everybody makes mistakes and experiences regret to some degree, don’t allow your mistakes to make you forget all the great decisions you’ve made and continue to make. Remember all the things you don’t give yourself credit for.  You are not only your mistakes and the bad things that have happened. You are so much more.

3. Practice seeing without judging

We have a habit of judging everything. We even judge the weather. But often, it is the judgement of things that causes pain, not the actual thing. This week, try to simply observe and accept what is without the judgment. Notice what a difference it makes in your mood and outlook.

 acceptanceOk, so I’d love to hear from you. In the comments section please share how you the power of acceptance is useful in your own life.

Til next time…

Jennifer

I HAVE THE POWERRRRRRR!!!- How to acknowledge and use your own personal power

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Does anybody else remember He-Man yelling at the top of his lungs that he had the POWERRRRR in every episode?

Or remember when this song was all over the airwaves?

Snap! – I’ve Got The Power from Sertaç Diler on Vimeo.

Well today I’d like to talk about how each of us could be a little more like He-Man and claim our personal power. But before we get started I’m going to tell you a few basic key things that I want you to know and remember:

  • You (yes you) possess a great deal of power.
  • Your power exists whether you acknowledge it or not.
  • You have the ability to harness and use your power.
  • You can use your power to create the type of life you imagine for yourself.
  • You can use your power to improve the overall quality of your life.
  • The way you use your power has an impact on others.

Well what exactly is power? Power is the ability to make things happen. Power is using your life energy to create things and experiences. Power is realizing your authority over your own life.

The unfortunate thing though is that most of us don’t recognize the amount of power we actually have or use it in a way that brings us closer to the things we truly want.

The paradox is that even though we have all this power, we still feel stuck. A lot of us feel like victims of the people and world around us. We look up one day and feel like we don’t know how we got into our current situations. And we have no idea how to change the situation.  Some of us may even feel like we are prisoners of our past which “makes” us behave in certain ways.

In short, we feel powerless. While some of us may not feel completely powerless in all areas of our lives, there may be one or two domains where we feel like we don’t have any options. We want things to be different, we just don’t know how to make it so.  Does any of this sound like you?

Well here are three steps we all can take to feel more powerful:

1. Take a day (or two) to observe the power that you are currently using

Whether we realize it or not, we draw on our power every single day. We get up to go to work. We prepare meals for ourselves. We buy and pick out clothes to wear. We talk to certain people. We love people and invest in them. We get into disagreements with people. These are all small and real ways in which we are powerful. Because even if we do not particularly like our jobs, for example, we are actively CHOOSING to show up to them every day because we may feel that having an income source is better for us than not having one. Even though we may not like getting into disagreements with people, we are actively CHOOSING to participate in them because we may feel like it is more meaningful for us to express our opinions and emotions aggressively when we feel them.

So take a day or so to think about all the things you actually “do” or “say” within the course of the day. It may even be helpful to write it all down. Write down everything you do in one day, even the things that don’t seem like a big deal, such as logging onto Facebook, or watching TV or eating and realize that even in these small ways you are exerting power because there were a million other choices you could have made. But you chose to do what you were doing at that very moment. That is your power.  Once you realize this, you may find that you see things very differently.

In any event, it is helpful to become aware of the ways that you currently use your power because then you can begin to make decisions about whether the way you currently exercise your power supports the type of life you want to live.

2. Be purposeful about your power (in small and big ways)

Now that you are aware of the ways you use power unconsciously, let’s try to be a bit more purposeful about using it. Every time you make a decision whether big or small, say to yourself “I have power. And this is how I’m using it.” In this small statement you are acknowledging that you are a powerful being who is actively involved in the creating the life you currently have. After saying this to yourself a few times, you may decide to exercise your power to make decisions that are more in line with how you want to live.

Here’s an example. Let’s say that you want to live a life that is filled with more joy and less anger. After going through the exercise above, you  became aware of the choices you were making and realized that you were CHOOSING to get into bitter angry fights with other people pretty often. The next time you got into an argument, you might say to yourself, “I have power. And right now this is how I’m using it.” At that moment, you might also realize that using your power in that way takes your farther away from the life of joy you imagine for yourself. After you have recognized your power, you are then in a position to CHOOSE to use it differently by trying to discover ways to avoid arguments with others, and finding different ways to express your anger. Understanding your power gives you options. More options than you even realized you had.

3. Set small goals and practice using your power to obtain them

Now that you realize all of the options and power that you have, let’s try to use it to your advantage. The first step is to practice exercising your power in a meaningful way to create something you want.

Try setting a small and attainable goal. If we continue the example from above of the person who is trying to create more joy and less anger in their life, they might set a goal of an argument free day. A very worthwhile goal.

On the day that the person decides is their “argument free day”, the person might be extra aware of the thoughts that are going through their mind and CHOOSE not to express anger in the way they have previously. This person might feel the anger arise and instead of arguing CHOOSE that they will go home and hit a punching bag until they are exhausted and spent and can bask in the endorphins that the vigorous exercise just provided. Or this person may alternatively CHOOSE to write in a journal that they keep with them and say all the things they might want to say to the object of their anger instead of yelling in the person’s face. They may CHOOSE to find a peaceful place and meditate. There are any number of things that this person could CHOOSE to do.

This person may not be successful the first day or the second day that they decide to CHOOSE differently. But this person will be using their power to actively bring about change in their life. And the idea is to keep working on this goal until it is accomplished. After the first goal is obtained, there will be other goals that you can set and use your power to reach.

Sooooo, I hope by now you realize that you are more like He-Man than you previously thought.

In the comments below I’d like to hear about how you can use more power in your own life to go after the things you want.