adapted from an article by Madisyn Taylor
We understand that we want to be better but have no clear definition of what better means and that is part of the process.
At some point in our lives, many of us find ourselves overcome with the desire to become better people. While we are all uniquely capable of navigating this world, we may nonetheless feel driven to grow, expand, and change. This innate need for personal expansion can lead us down many paths as we develop within the context of our individual lives. Yet the initial steps that can put us on the road to evolution are not always clear. We understand that we want to be better but have no clear definition of "better." Begin by taking small steps. Identify what your idea of growth looks like and adhere to that ideal on your journey. Accept that change won't happen overnight--we may not recognize the transformations taking place within us at first.
Becoming a better person in your own eyes is a whole-life project. Focus your step-by-step efforts on multiple areas of your existence. Since you likely know innately which qualities you consider good, growing as an individual is simply a matter of making an effort to do good whenever possible. Respect should be a key element of your efforts. When you acknowledge that all people are deserving of compassion, consideration, and dignity, you are naturally more apt to treat them in the manner you yourself wish to be treated. You will intuitively become a more active listener, universally helpful, and truthful. Going the extra mile in all you do can also facilitate your growth. Approaching your everyday duties with an upbeat attitude and positive expectations can help you make the world a brighter, more cheerful place. Finally, coming to terms with your values and then abiding by them will enable you to introduce a new degree of integrity and dignity into your life.
As you endeavor to develop yourself further, you can take pride not only in your successes, but also in the fact that you are cultivating consciousness within yourself through your choices, actions, and behaviors. While you may never feel you have reached the pinnacles of awareness you hope to achieve, you can make the most of this creative process of transformation. Becoming a better person is your choice and is a natural progression in your journey of self-awareness.
1. Stop complaining and appreciate how lucky you are every day.
2. Embrace loneliness and reinvent yourself in the process.
3. Say goodbye to the people that don't bring positive energy into your life.
4. Turn off the TV and set Internet controls.
5. Pick one skill you want to cultivate and put all your effort into developing it.
6. Commit to the goals you set and never look back.
7. Sweat every day to boost your mood.
8. Fall forward. Learn from every mistake you make.
adapted from an article by Justice Bartlett
At the center of that journey is me: my desire to know myself, give love, engage in mutuality with others, and cultivate the space I need to grow into who I really am, while uncovering my gifts and offering them to the world.
A big part of navigating all of that has been learning how to extract toxic patterns from my life and set healthy boundaries with myself and others. Notice I say extract patterns, not people.
People are inherently pure. People are inherently love. People are doing the best they can and trying to choose the experiences that they, themselves, need to grow.
People are not inherently toxic, but sometimes the energy and choices they are aligning themselves with can be. Though they might not see it that way, and who am I, really, to make that call? I do not know what experiences they may need for their own soul growth. All I can say, without recrimination, is that the choices, substances, and energies that some are entangled with feel toxic to me.
And that is where the bottom line lies, for me. I cannot in good conscience and accountability to myself entangle with those energies. I will not foster connections based on misogynistic dynamics or distorted by substance abuse or bullying. Love the person yes, indubitably, and realize people must embody the choices they make. As people with individual agency, we all choose to bring certain behaviors through our bodies and into our realities. To deny the effect that our decisions have on others is shortsighted at best, and can be selfish, abusive, or even dangerous at times.
The point of relational boundaries is simply this: creating a distinction within the experiences of wholeness. There may be one energy, but it is manifesting through a billions of people.
Consciousness—whether we’re acting in a conscious or unconscious way—is full of variety, choice, and possibility, none necessarily better than another, just different.
Individuation is key on our journey into being a fully realized, loving, powerful, capable expression of that consciousness, and that means judicious use of our capacity and right to say both yes and no—to patterns, activities, substances, behaviors, and sometimes the people who are choosing to embody them.
Health, at all levels, is a direct by-product of individuation. We are not extensions of anyone or anything. We are whole individuals, and a profound part of our experiences here in this world is our right to choose what and who that journey needs to include. Sometimes that means we limit our time with certain people; sometimes that means we walk completely away.
This does not mean that we cut off love from ourselves or from another—it means that we choose to let that love move in a way that is healthy for us and allows us to honor ourselves.
A healthy relational boundary is me taking accountability for how I feel, allowing others to have their experiences—no matter how unappealing or even awful those might appear to me, no matter how badly I may want to reach across time and space and choke or embrace them. I go back and forth on that one; I’m still human. Boundaries are not stagnant lines drawn in the sand; they are living breathing energetic agreements that truly allow individuation, communication, and compassion to flourish.
Real compassion is me being responsible for my own feelings and experiences, and ultimately my own happiness. I cannot be held responsible for anyone else’s feelings or experiences. I can take responsibility for how my behaviors affect another and I can choose how to respond to another’s behavior toward me, but I cannot protect. I cannot save. All I can do is love. And for that love to be authentic, it has to begin with me. I must honor love in the way that I need to feel full, whole, and happy within myself and my agreements.
Choosing congruent agreements is a powerful expression of choice, and I will continue to feel my way into how that manifests, moment to moment and day to day. They cannot become stagnant or static. Agreements need to shift and grow with us and must be constantly negotiated and modified. Continued communication, as a living function of agreements, allows us to heal, change, and grow—both together and separately. This will mean navigating joy, as well as discomfort.
Discomfort is a part of living a dynamic life, of being human. Living a life of happiness means that no matter what happens—comfortable or uncomfortable—I attend to myself and my needs with care and grace. As I do so, I become the best version of myself and my joy expands, as does my capacity to give and show up for myself and others.
I know when I say no to certain dynamics or leave a situation or relationship, it is with mutual respect for all involved and with the intention to grow in authenticity and dignity. I know when I say yes to something, it is with wholehearted enthusiasm.
It is only with dynamic, healthy boundaries that happiness can truly take route and flourish—and our life can become a living expression of compassion.
Imagine that you're driving home from work, it's late, you're tired and hungry and you see the infamous Golden Arches on the horizon. In your imagining you can taste and even smell the hot, crispy French fries and you start salivating. The angel on your shoulder tells you that you shouldn't pull over and enter the drive-through, as food like this isn't good for your health and the more you eat it, the unhealthier you become. The only smart thing to do is to go home and make yourself a healthy dinner.
But the devil on your other shoulder begins to tell you that it has been a long day, so you deserve to treat yourself and the fries will make you feel better! This is a battle we can all relate to - whatever habit you are guilty of having on replay in your life, we can all agree that there are certain battles our logical mind loses, and our desires win.
We are aware that we are putting our health at risk - so we try desperately to kick these bad habits to the curb and encourage ourselves to live a healthier lifestyle.
What's Behind the Habits?
Why are bad habits so difficult to change even though we already know they are damaging our well-being? It is important that we understand how these negative habits and dependencies are created, so we can equip ourselves with the right tools to make lasting changes.
Nora Volkow, the director of the American National Institute on Drug Abuse who has spent the last fifteen years studying the reason why our habits are so difficult to change reveals the answer she discovered:
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in our brains responsible for our feelings of desire. It is the "feel good" chemical our brains produce when we eat something pleasurable like French fries, or chocolate, smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol. Dopamine itself cannot depict whether the thing we desire is good for us or not; it simply sends off the signal that leads us to crave it. This process occurs in two separate phases.
1. Feeling the pleasure:
When we experience something pleasurable - like eating McDonald's French fries our brains begin to produce dopamine, where it then speeds through to the part of your brain known as the 'memory center'. Here, a chemical memory has now been created, one where your brain now associates your feeling of pleasure with each action that caused it (i.e. the French fries). Researchers would label this memory as 'salient', which means every time we cross paths with these French fries, our brain now recalls the dopamine hit we previously received from them and thus leaves us wanting more.
2. the dependence:
So, now we understand that dopamine is responsible for our feelings of desire, we can see why we salivate every time we cross paths with French fries. Since our memory center has recorded what action gave us that pleasurable feeling, every single time we return to that same action, we strengthen the connection and it becomes more and more 'salient', quickly growing into what is called a 'dependent state.'
Now, our brains have associated this item with a wondrous hit of 'feel-good' chemicals, and so the cycle of reminders (cravings) begin to play on repeat. With this understanding of how habits are created in our lives, we can begin to understand why they are so darn hard to break. Every time we try to make a decision based on intellect and rationale - like the decision to drive home and make yourself a healthy dinner - our brains scream 'dopamine!" and leaves us with an overwhelming desire to return to the habit.
To fight this urge is to literally go against your brain chemistry, and this is why making changes feels like an uphill battle.
But we are not hopeless.
As we are armed with the right decisions, motivation, strength and solidification of healthy, new ways of living, we can make positive changes in our lives. To not make the change means allowing your brain chemicals to dictate your life - something that we cannot let happen if we want to live a life of empowerment, health, and fulfillment.
What do you gain from the things holding you back?
Procrastination. Self-sabotage. Perfectionism. Playing small. People pleasing.
We know these things hold us back. We know that big things lie beyond these traits. We know that our life could be very different if we could just stop…
We force ourselves past these blocks; feel the fear and do it anyway. Unfortunately, because these traits are so deeply rooted, they don’t just trip us up once. They appear in different areas of our lives, and in different scenarios all the time.
You do have to get to the root cause of each one and address why this trait is coming up in the first place.
And a simple way you can get to the cause is to ask yourself:
What do I gain from this trait?
The first reaction most people have is: “Nothing! I gain nothing from this trait.”
But you do – you get a reward from these traits.
What might that reward be?
Obviously, these things aren’t true. But our mind makes a ‘logical’ conclusion that the best way to be liked is to do what everyone else wants you to do, or that he best way to avoid rejection is to push others away, so you stay ‘safe’.
We all gain something from the things that hold us back. Once you identify what the reward is, you understand the motivator behind the behavior. Then, you can shift your reward to something positive; something that genuinely helps you.
Think about the most significant trait holding you back, right now. What reward does it give you?
adapted from an article by Andrew Thomas
Humans are emotional beings. We make decisions based on feelings and emotions. This truth applies to people, and how much we like them.
Likable people are more successful even if they aren’t as intelligent, skilled or experienced as others. People want to work with people they like – and they like helping them too. We need to start putting focus on the emotional intelligence side of our personal development.
As we strive to become more likable, we need to realize we will often fall prey to our ego getting in the way. We might allow fear and discomfort to affect our communication skills.
As a way to help you with your desire to become more likable, I have listed 28 habits of likable people that you can adopt in your daily life:
The 28 Habits of Likable People
If you take a good look at these habits, you will find that they can all be categorized under the ‘golden rule’.
The Golden Rule: Treat others in the same way you wish to be treated.
Applying the golden rule is simple, yet powerful. If you don’t want people to lie to you, then don’t lie to others. If you want people to put themselves in your shoes, and see things from your point of view, you must be willing to do the same for them. If you like how someone can listen to you and make you feel heard, then you must learn how to actively listen to others without passing judgement.
Some tools that may help you on your journey:
If you would like to enjoy a more connected and meaningful human experience take the time to incorporate these habits. Invest the time necessary to identify the ways in which you can improve your adherence to the golden rule.
excerpts from "Cultivate your Resilience" by Becky Andrews, LCMHC
"The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern." – Elizabeth Kubler-Ross
Resilience: The ability to pull something from deep within to keep moving forward.
The ability to bounce back and thrive under adverse or challenging circumstances.
The ability to rebound from life’s difficulties and challenges in a healthy,
"Life isn’t about how fast you run or how high you climb,
but how well you bounce." – Tigger
You have permission to:
Identify your feelings.
We often have trouble identifying our feelings. Before you can articulate them to yourself or someone else, you need to be aware of what you are feeling. Check out the following website for an example of an emotion wheel.
Articulate your feelings.
There are many physical, social, cognitive, and emotional responses to the losses
and challenges we experience. Knowing and expressing our emotions in healthy
ways is an important step in our ability to cope, cultivate resilience and thrive.
Ask yourself regularly: How am I feeling today? Journal, draw, or share with a friend
the answer to this question. Feeling is Healing.
Practice Self-Compassion. Take time for Self-Care.
“Some people worry that self-compassion will close them off from other people
by making them selfish and self-centered. The reverse is actually the case – the
more open hearted we are with ourselves, the closer we feel toward the rest of life.
Self-compassion is the foundation for kindness toward others.
When we’re more accepting of our own, we become more accepting of others.
Full acceptance of ourselves, moment to moment makes it easier to adapt and
change in the direction we’d like to go.” – Christopher Germer, Self-Compassion
We need to nurture ourselves in five areas: Physical, Emotional, Cognitive, Social
and Spiritual. What nurtures you in each of these areas? This is your go-to list
Be Authentic (YOU) in your journey.
"Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we are supposed to be and embracing who we are. Choosing authenticity means cultivating the courage to be imperfect, to set boundaries, and to allow ourselves to be vulnerable, exercising the compassion that comes from knowing that we are all made of strength and struggle – Mindfully practicing authenticity during our most soul-searching struggles is how we invite joy, grace and gratitude in our lives." – Brene Brown.
"Comparison is the thief of joy." – Theodore Roosevelt
Have healthy Reciprocal Relationships. Boundaries.
When we feel understood, validated and cared for it fuels our ability to be resilient. Healthy relationships – accept and give support when needed.
Who has been there for you? _______________________________________________
What are your Boundaries? Where do you need to give yourself permission to say no?
What do you want to say yes to? _____________________________________________
"Connection doesn’t exist without giving and receiving. We need to give, and we need to receive." – Brene Brown
Identify your strengths and utilize them.
Get to know yourself. What do you enjoy doing? What brings you joy? What are your strengths that give you energy?
www.viacharacter.org is a wonderful Positive Psychology Test that will help you understand your strengths.
Take time to utilize one of your top 5 strengths each day. When you are experiencing a challenging time – take a moment to pause and bring one of your strengths into cultivating your resilience for that situation.
What is a strength that has helped you in your life? ________________________________
Dig deep. Take small steps. Persist.
Break down what seems overwhelming into small tasks and acknowledge your small victories along the way. Grit is living life like it’s a marathon not a sprint.
A practice of gratitude can connect us to everything and everyone. It is helpful to have a daily gratitude journal. Take a moment to remember how many people have created or made possible what you experience each day. Write a letter of gratitude to someone who has made a difference in your life. Each day savor the feeling of gratitude.
"Develop an appreciation for the present moment. Seize every second of your life and savor it." – Wayne Dyer
Laugh and find joy in each day.
Laughter can be a powerful force and finding humor in our difficult moments (in time) can help us on our path to resilience. Take time to notice the small moments that bring you joy in each day.
"Every time you are able to find humor in a difficult situation you win." – Avinash Wandre
Be open. Be flexible. Be creative.
"We cannot choose our external circumstances, but we can always choose how we respond to them." – Epitetus.
"We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguise as impossible situations." – Charles Swindoll.
Find meaning and purpose. Give Back. Serve Others.
In time, you can create meaning and purpose from your challenges. Spend time serving others.
"He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how." – Nietzche
"Strength, courage, and resiliency exist in everyone, but they start as a tiny spark and its only through facing challenges that they grow and blaze into the force that directs our lives." – Erik Weihenmayer