Do You Know Who You Are (Really)?

Be True To Yourself

Could you love someone that you didn’t know?

My guess is that you probably could push yourself to do so. But it would be a struggle.

So since we’re creating a movement of women who are committed to loving ourselves, we must also be dedicated to knowing ourselves better. Completely. Because knowing yourself allows you to accept and love yourself.

So who are you?

No, really. Who are you?

I got some questions for you:

  • What are you into?
  • What’s your “thing”?
  • What do you believe in?
  • What’s important to you?
  • What’s not important to you?
  • When it comes down to it, what do you want your life to stand for?
  • If you knew you had 6 months to live, how would you spend your last days on earth?

Knowing who you are and what you value helps you to weed out and filter through all the “stuff” that comes your way on a daily basis.

And most importantly, knowing yourself and your values stops you from judging yourself based on the opinions of other people. It frees your mind.

For example, I know that I value freedom, simple living, fairness, and knowledge. These values guide my decision making. So when well meaning people, for example, suggest things that they think will be of use to me, if these suggestions are not in line with my values, I simply don’t do them. Plain and simple. They are not for me.  And when other people don’t live according to my values, I’m OK with that, too. They have their own life to live, just as I do.

I determine my worth. No one else gets this privilege. And the same goes for you. You determine your worth. Other people’s opinions belong to them, not you.

Listen, we each only get one life and we need to make sure that we honor it by being true to ourselves and not living the life that other people think you should live.

So here’s what I want you to do. Right now I want you to think about the three things that are most important to you. And in the comments section below, I’d like you to share your top three values with us.

Til next time.

And if you haven’t already done so, be sure to sign up for the 7-Day Self-Love Challenge here.

The Backlash from ‘Formation’ and What It Means for Black Women’s Mental Health

Beyonce Formation

Everyone knows how much I loves me some Beyonce.

So last week when she dropped a unexpected new single with a video, performed in front of the whole country during the superbowl half-time show, AND announced a tour that would be coming to Chicago all within a matter of 48 hours I was in awe.  It was all so… well… Beyonce.

Beyonce literally changes the game every single time she drops new music. And it is wonderful to witness.

On top of all this Beyonce magic, the song itself seems like it’s on par to become a Black girl’s national anthem. “I like my baby hair with baby hair and afros”….. ” I like my negro nose with Jackson 5 nostrils.” She said these lines surrounded by images of a drowning post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans, Black Lives Matter movement imagery, and Black cultural tradition symbolism.

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I immediately recognized “Formation” as Beyonce’s personal protest anthem: the media has not been very kind to Blue Ivy’s natural hair or Jay-Z’s wide nose and full lips. And American political systems historically have dehumanized and devalued black lives. Here was Beyonce, I admit unexpectedly, taking a stand against this hatred of her family and her community.

And to add gas to the fire of Beyonce’s protest song, the Super Bowl’s 50th anniversary happily coincided with the 5oth anniversary of one of the most revolutionary Black protest movements in recent history–The Black Panther Party. So Beyonce used her platform to pay homage to the Black Panthers by dressing up in the black leather, black berets, and afros that were the uniform of the Black Panther Party and perform her protest anthem during Black History Month at that.

black panthers

But the backlash to this celebration of self has been swift by people all too eager to ignore the demands of respect.

A politician in Canada has publicly considered banning Beyonce from entering Canada. The UK has banned her song and video from the radio and television. Rudolph Guiliani dismissed her performance as anti-police, unprofessional and disrespectful. And other’s derided it as divisive and evidence of “cultural decay,” whatever that means.

Beyonce’s response? A simple, “I wanted people to feel proud and have love for themselves.”

But how does wanting people to feel good about themselves get interpreted and vilified as a political controversy worthy of being banned?

The answer: Very easily if you’re a Black woman.

To be a Black woman is a beautiful thing. But it also means that you are constantly mocked, under-appreciated, and copied without recognition by mainstream society. You are a caricature. You are told that you are too dark, too big, too loud, too bossy, too domineering. You are told you that you should be more like other women. You are told that we should be loyal to others, but not to expect loyalty in return.

And all of these messages serve to make us feel less than. When little black toddlers are misaligned in the media for having “too nappy hair” and being “ugly” physical features, we know the world devalues us very early. It is psychological warfare and the toll it takes on your mental health is costly.

But if we are to love ourselves– and we absolutely must–we have to know that we are OK just as we are. We cannot alter ourselves enough to make other people appreciate us, nor should we. We know from history that this strategy simply doesn’t work. Those of us who have tried to lighten our skin, surgically alter our bodies and faces, educate ourselves into respectability know that this never compels those that devalue us to see our worth and beauty.

We cannot wait for other people to “get” us because they never will.  We must be ourselves right now.

To me this is the lesson to take away from Beyonce’s “Formation.” Name and claim your worth.  Know your worth despite what others say.  Celebrate and appreciate yourself. Even those things that you have been taught to be ashamed of.

We have to continue to create environments, cultural products and perspectives, and support systems that validate ourselves and our work.  This is how we protect and promote our mental health.We create healthy, inclusive, and affirmative spaces to protect us from the onslaught of mainstream media and values.

This is our task and no one will do it for us.

Do You Suffer From “Happiness Destination Syndrome”?

Happiness Destination Syndrome

OK. So before we begin, as a licensed therapist I must tell you that there is technically no such thing as “Happiness Destination Syndrome” or HDS.  It is not listed in any diagnostic manual. I made it up to describe a pattern of behaviors and thought patterns that is pretty common among many many people.

And as a person recovering from HDS, I can tell you that it is very real and its symptoms are profound. Here are some examples of statements that usually come from people plagued by HDS:

  • “After I find a new job, then I can make more money and be happy.”
  • “When I find someone to truly love me and start a relationship with, then I can be happy.”
  • “Once I have kids, then I’ll be happy.”
  • When I retire and my kids are grown, then I can finally have time to myself then I can be happy.”

See where this is going?

HDS is constantly thinking that happiness is always somewhere “out there” over the next hill. HDS is feeling like the current moment or set of circumstances is never enough to feel “happy.” People who live with HDS feel like there is always the need for “more,” or “better.” It is simply a never-ending treadmill.

Now let me say here that there is nothing wrong with wanting to improve the quality of your life. There is nothing wrong with setting and achieving goals. And sometimes the feeling of dissatisfaction can actually be a powerful motivator to change things that you dislike. But thinking that  you are not enough and can absolutely never be happy until the next great thing happens will only result in you feeling empty and dissatisfied even after you have achieved the goal.

Because the underlying thought behind HDS is that you need to DO more and ACHIEVE more in order to BE more. And that simply isn’t true.

I can attest to spending the first chunk of my young adulthood with HDS. Thinking that the next relationship, or job, or degree was going to make my life magically better. I thought that I just needed to attain the next and best shiny thing in order to feel better about myself and my life. But what I would routinely discover is that once I would reach that next destination, I would feel good for a short while, but then eventually go back to thinking something was missing. I was looking for something to fill the void.

But happiness is not a specific destination. Happiness just is. And it exists everywhere. It is all around us and within us.

So here are my 3 tips to cure any Happiness Destination Syndrome outbreaks:

Stop Magical Thinking

Nothing is a magical cure all. There is nothing  and nobody that will make all your problems go away. Stop thinking that. No job, relationship, education, or amount of money will make all your problems go away. No matter where you are and what you have, there will always be both joys to experience and challenges to overcome. Without exception. Moving into different circumstances simply means that there will be new joys as well as new challenges. And sometimes moving into new circumstances exacerbate your current challenges. I think lottery winners are a good example of this. You can read some of these sad stories here or here. These examples show that money wasn’t a magic cure-all. Even after winning millions of dollars, these people still struggled with addiction, unsupportive relationships with people who did not mean them well, and unfortunate judgment. The new set of circumstances merely exaggerated what was already there. That’s why jumping into new external circumstances as an escape never has the effect we think it will.

Flip the Script

Sometimes we don’t even realize the complicated  conditional statements we impose on our happiness. When you make your happiness conditional, you have created specific paradigms and bought into certain belief systems that simply are not true. A paradigm is an operating belief system. Let’s take the common thought “I won’t be really happy unless I’m in a romantic relationship. ”  Another way to say that statement is “The only way for me to be happy is if I’m in a romantic relationship.” When you express the statement this way, it sounds truer to the point and more in line with your operating paradigms. And I urge you to think more about why you think that is true for you.  Who told you that this is true? Why do you think you are only worthy of happiness in a romantic relationship? All real change comes through internal paradigm shifts.

But in the meantime, one way to disrupt your unhelpful operating paradigms is to ask yourself: How can I experience more joy today in my current set of circumstances? Ask yourself this every single day until you have some answers and then actually start to enact it.
findjoyineveryjourney
This plaque hangs over my sink as my daily reminder.

Remember Your Life is Happening NOW

This is your life and it is happening right now. This is the core message in all the work that I do.  Every single moment of your life is an absolute gift. Do not wish your current life away. That is wasteful. And you deserve so much better. The past is gone and the future is not promised. The current moment is the most important. You will never have the chance to re-live anything.  And your life does not stop while you are in pursuit of your goals.  This means that it is up to you to decide to find happy experiences in every single day.

Life is not solely a picnic. Serious and grave things happen. But life is not all a drag either. Beautiful and wondrous things happen too,  all the time in fact. And because the serious and grave things happen, the joyous things are even more meaningful and precious. Your job is to savor these daily moments of joy. They exist. You just have to make the effort to train yourself to identify them and appreciate them. Again ask yourself, “How can I experience more joy today in my current set of circumstances?”

Now I’d love to hear from you. In the comments below, please share something that you thought would bring you “happiness” but when you got it, it didn’t.

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What do the Lonely Do at Christmas?: 5 ways to keep your spirits up during the holiday season

happy

Am I the only one who loves that Emotions song, “What do the Lonely do at Christmas?”

I was listening to it earlier today and it got me to thinking, what exactly do the lonely do?

The Christmas season can pose special problems for people who spend it alone. If you are single or don’t have many friends or family, Christmas is just one of those holidays that can make you feel especially lonely and like you’re missing out. If this holiday season finds you alone and/or feeling lonely, here are 5 tips to help you get through the season:

1. Get into it!

Christmas only comes around once a year. In a few weeks, this Christmas season will be over and done with.  So enjoy it while it’s here upon us.  Just because you don’t have anyone to spend it with, doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate the season.

Here are some ideas to get in on the Christmas spirit:

  • Send Christmas cards to everybody in your address book.
  • Go see The Nutcracker live.
  • Watch your favorite Christmas movie (Mine is Trading Places except for Dan Akroyd’s 5 minutes in blackface. Ugh!)
  • Relive your days as a child and watch A Charlie Brown Christmas or that cute but kind of weird clay Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.
  • Make a Christmas song playlist and play on repeat.
  • Make a Christmas movie playlist and play on repeat.
  • Decorate your house and buy a tree.
  • Make hot chocolate and sugar cookies.
  • Go to your local Christmas festivities.
  • Cook a holiday dinner and bring leftovers to work to share with co-workers.

The holiday spirit and a festive mood are not solely reserved for people with significant others and children. This is your Christmas season too. Your life does not begin after there are others around you. It’s happening now, so live it. Get in on the fun.

2. Do something for others

Each of us has so many gifts.  And since Christmas is the season for giving, use the season as an opportunity to spread your gifts. Spending some time thinking about how you can connect to others by sharing your gifts might also help you feel less lonely. If you’re stuck on how you can do this, you can start by donating your time to a charitable organization that might need extra hands during the Christmas season.

If you are a member of a church, you can find ways to get more involved with different service groups or ministries. You could go to a homeless shelter and ask how you can help.  You can also help out closer to home by asking an elderly neighbor if there is anyway you might be of service. Doing things for other people just feels good, and who knows you might have some fun and get the chance to meet new people.

3.  Go on an Adventure

If you can and are up for it, go on an adventure this season. Who says you have to be at home on Christmas? Since you are alone, you get to define what this season means for you. Maybe it means it’s the season for your next adventure. And it doesn’t have to be elaborate. Just try to do something you’ve never done before.

Adventures remind you that there are always new experiences and new opportunities to be had. So harness the power of the unknown and go on an adventure in order to invite new energy into your life.  Take a drive or hop on a bus and explore a nearby city. Perhaps you can take advantage of the day off from work and spend the night in a hotel in your city’s downtown. Ooohh or even a spa trip! Sounds like fun to me.

4. Do something really nice for yourself (I mean REALLY nice)

Sorry, I just couldn't resist...
Sorry, I just couldn’t resist…

Take this opportunity to give yourself a gift. The point here is to treat yourself. It can be a material item like that pair of shoes (or car) you’ve been wanting to buy. Maybe get a mani/pedi. Or you can finally forgive yourself for something that happened in the past. Whatever it is, be sure to treat yourself nicely during this season. Take care of your lovely self.

5. Do not isolate yourself

Now is not the time to isolate yourself. Make sure you attend that office holiday party or that dinner party that your neighbor invited you to. Be sure to send well wishes to the people who are actually in your life even if they aren’t loved ones. Send out all those “Merry Christmas” text messages  and respond to those that send them to you.  Place those Happy Holidays phone calls (Do people even make phone calls anymore?)

I know that even if you do all these things and more, sometimes feeling lonely can be too much. If the feelings of loneliness seem unbearable or too much for you to deal with, please make sure to contact a counselor or therapist to speak with who can help you manage these feelings. Remember that you do not have to soldier on alone, there are people who can help you. So be sure to reach out to them.

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What Beyonce Taught Me About Rejection

This is her performing at Stevie Wonder's tribute earlier this year. I was screaming so loud and dancing so hard, I know my neighbors thought I was crazy!
Queen Bey herself performing at Stevie Wonder’s tribute earlier this year. I was screaming so loud and dancing so hard, I know my neighbors thought I was crazy!

Sooo…. Everyone who knows me knows how much I loves me some Beyonce. Obviously she’s one of the most beautiful women in the world, and can sing her head off.  But I think I love  her so much because she’s so inspiring. I mean her work ethic is more than out of this world. I mean who can secretly record an album, secretly produce a short film for EVERY song on said album, and with no promotion or marketing release said album overnight and  then have that album debut at #1 and sell almost a million copies in 3 days? Beyonce. That’s who.  And its been amazing to watch her career and personal life evolve and grow over the past 20 years.

I am an official card carrying member of the Beyhive, honey! And I’m not ashamed of it.

Beyonce-blue-ivy-vday-thatgrapejuice

I think Beyonce is truly at her best in the “The Love on Top” video. I love EVERYTHING about it.  I love the song, which is so upbeat and fun and catchy and shows off her vocal skills.  It has an old school feel, which I love. I love the choreographed dancing, which will make me break an ankle, if I don’t acknowledge my limits. I love the unexpected wardrobe changes. I love the homage to New Edition, and the Temptations and other famous R&B male groups. I love the simple beauty of the setting and the beginning of the video. And I love how she ends the video by calling “cut” and walking off the set like a boss! And did I mention she was PREGNANT doing all those moves?  Whenever I’m in a sad or bad mood, this video improves my mood almost IMMEDIATELY. Its part of my coping toolkit. Check it out below if you’ve never seen it:

But as fabulous as I think Beyonce is, I’m sure she just doesn’t “do” it for some of you reading this. In fact, I didn’t like her all that much about 15 years ago. It took me awhile to get on the Beyonce bandwagon, but once I did there was no looking back!

If, for example, you watch this same video that I am head over heels crazy for on Youtube, you will find that of 181,153,005 people who watched it, “only” 641,870 (including me!) took the time to actually “like” it and an astounding (to me) 24,285 expressly disliked it.

Let me repeat that. 24,285 people disliked the same video that I think is better than sliced bread. What?? Are these people blind? Do that not get Queen Bey’s excellence??

In short. The answer is no. This video and song are simply not for them. End of story. Does Beyonce stop being her fabulous self, because there are thousands (and probably millions) of people out there who don’t like her? Does she stop being beautiful? Does she stop recording? Does she stop being the highest paid female artist of all time? Does she stop being the highest paid Black artist of all time? Does she lose any of her magnificence?

NO.

Her brilliance and people’s rejection of her brilliance can and do exist in the same world at the same moment. This was a huge revelation to me. Just because people dislike or reject something, doesn’t mean that it loses inherent value. It’s simply not for them. They value something different.

Being rejected and disliked is not fun. And we’ve all been there.  We’ve all been rejected in some form, whether by a job, or a lover, or a friend and it hurts like hell. We agonize over what we might have done wrong. We obsess over it and think that there is something fundamentally wrong with us, or that we are unlovable. Its interesting because we can accept when someone dislikes food that we love. We can easily understand when someone says they don’t like the sushi or oxtail stew we offer them, because they do not like the taste. We still go on loving it because we still enjoy the taste. We don’t question its tastiness.  But when someone says they don’t like us, we take that very personally and it makes us question ourselves.

Well, Lovebug, I think Beyonce- with her infinite fierceness- can teach us something about rejection. Here goes:

1. It’s not about you

dont_take_anything_personallyI think Don Miguel Ruiz says it best in his book The Four Agreements. When people don’t like you it’s because of what they value and their reality. And that’s ok. It does not mean that you are defective. Or that you are wrong. It simply means that you are not their cup of tea. Like the 24,000 people who disliked the video. The video is still fabulous. Remember that more than 640,000 did like that same video. And the same is true for you. There will always be people who will dislike and reject you. But there will always be people who like you too.

2. Build your own Beyhive

Beyonce has a strong following of supporters, that she lovingly calls her Beyhive.  And if people say negative things about Beyonce… Honey, watch out! Cuz the Beyhive is coming after you!! They will make you sorry you ever uttered a bad word about their queen.

beyhive
Poor Garcelle Beauvais! She had to retract her statement about Beyonce after the Beyhive came after her. The Beyhive is always ready to protect their queen.

Well, we all need support. And we all need people who see our value and never make us question our worth. We all need people who back us up and can point out our wonderful qualities, even when we don’t see them. This is how we have the courage to continue being ourselves and finding opportunities to grow after a rejection. Our support team helps us process defeat or rejection, helps us dust ourselves off, and provide us with the support to live our lives. So get busy building your support team, if you don’t already have one! You can’t do it alone. And even if you could, it wouldn’t be as fun.

3. Be You Anyway!

So Beyonce got the word “bootylicious” added to Webster’s dictionary 10 years ago. She is probably the first mainstream crossover success that sang about having a full and curvy body. She started a trend at a time when mainstream only saw beauty in thin body types.

Also, the current entertainment world is characterized by its “all access” look into celebrity lives. Nowadays, everybody has a reality show or constant twitter feed filled with all their personal business. Not Beyonce. It took her forever to even join twitter and she finally did about 6 years ago. In those 6 years she has tweeted out a whopping 8 tweets, all of which are about humanitarianism and activist causes not her personal life. Beyonce also  kept her relationship with her boyfriend/husband private for many many years before she publicly said anything about their relationship. Privacy is kind of unheard of in the entertainment world where everybody wants to promote themselves.

Basically she does what feels comfortable to her. And you should too.  Rejection is much easier to accept when you know that you are being true to yourself. Because then you will know that the outcome will have always been the same.

4. Don’t let other people’s opinion of you matter so much

And this even goes for good things people say and feel about you, as well as bad things, because when you…

0e17fe2fccd85665b57060f14fd95f2cAnd as Ms. Beyonce says herself:

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I couldn’t have said it better myself, Bey!

You must know that you are beautiful and wonderful and special just as you are right now, regardless of what other people think. And if knowing this is a struggle for you, seek out people (like me!) who can help you work through the issues that keep you from believing you are fabulous you are.

So as always, I’d love to hear from you. You have more tips on how to handle and process rejection? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below. Or it you’d just like to talk about why you think Beyonce is fabulous too, you can leave a comment about that as well.

I’ll leave you with this…

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Drops mic…

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

Grass-Is-Greener-Where-You-Water-It
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.

dontcompare

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.

Envyandyou

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.

envy2

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.

grass under feet

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