THE ESSENTIAL CHANGE

My second book opens with the statement –

unless you change yourself, nothing will change; once you change yourself, everything else will change

This is a very important thought for several reasons. First, saying, or even thinking things like “I’ll be happy when…” hands over control of your life to other people and situations. Why would you let others decide whether or not you can enjoy your own life?

Another reason to realize you are the only person responsible for the quality of your own life are problems. When I hear people who consistently blame others for the situations they find themselves in, I know these people will never live a happy and successful life.

Let us be honest here, people can be jerks. They can say rude and hurtful things to us. They can put us in uncomfortable situations. What control do we have over that? A great deal. We can take a hard look in the mirror and see if there may be any truth to the things they are saying. If so, we can use it as constructive criticism.

What if there is no truth to what they say and it is just mean? Then we can raise our standards as to who we have in our lives. What if this person is our boss or some other person not so easy to dismiss? We can use that person for our own development. Practice our patience, controlling our anger, or having compassion for those who don’t deserve it. We can do all this while working to improve our situation.

Sometimes they are there to teach us a lesson. Such as no amount of money or job is worth our dignity. No amount off affection is worth any amount of abuse. These are all very difficult situations, but waiting and relying on the other person to change will most often result in no change.

Working on myself has lead me to my greatest improvements and my greatest joy. When I became a better man, my job became better, my relationships improved. I noticed when I treated others better and gave more to them, I received more in return.

To this day, I spend the most time and effort working on myself. Every improvement in myself touches and improves every area of my life.

DON’T BE COMFORTABLE!

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Why on earth would I not want someone to be comfortable? Trust me, I am all about comfort. When I get home it is in a warm bed with a nice electric blanket and a perfect pillow! I love sitting on the porch in the sun with a good book and some great coffee. So what on earth am I talking about here? I’ll explain in just a moment, but let me explain how this topic came to be. Last night while bartending on what turned out to be a rather busy night I had some great conversations. One in particular stood out. It was a conversation between myself and my friends Meghan and Bret. Meghan was mentioning to Bret and I how people can get comfortable with the wrong type of environment.

What did she mean by this? Let us consider people in an abusive relationship. They start to get used to the things that happen. How on earth can someone get used to being in such a relationship? It is like the story of a frog. If placed in a kettle of boiling water, the frog will quickly jump out. If, however, the frog is placed in a pot of warm water and the water is slowly brought to a boil the frog will get used to it until it is dead. That is often how we become used to things that are not good for us. If slowly people begin to treat us harshly and then that treatment increases to the state of abuse we may have become so used to it we do not see it for what it is.

Besides being obviously bad for our well-being, it does something that can be far more damaging. When one finally escapes the abusive relationship and finds the good fortune to be loved the way they should they often find it hard to accept. If you are told over and over that you are less than, or no good it may be very difficult to fully realize the beauty that is inside of you. Even when surrounded by people who are angry and emotionally abusive one may have a hard time feeling completely comfortable in a calm and healthy situation. This may sound crazy for those of us who have never went through it, but it really is not.

So what is the takeaway here? If you find yourself in a relationship with someone who used to be abused, understand they may need more time and you may need to exercise a little more patience. They may need more reassurance and it may be difficult for them to accept or believe genuine compliments. Do not get frustrated and realize you are actually working to not only love this person, but heal them as well. If you tend to be the type of person who is prone to anger and saying things you might not mean, remember these can have long-lasting effects. Sometimes taking years to heal and undo.

Lastly, if you are a person who has been in an abusive relationship. This is what you need to know. You are good enough. The actions, words and feelings you suffered through were not your fault, but the action of a person who had not matured enough as a human being. Understand that the people trying to make you feel good are doing so out of love and their care and concern for you. Accepting what they have to say will not only help heal yourself, but make their heart feel good as well.

Please like/share/comment on this post. There are sadly far too many people who need to see this message. People who fill all roles of this tragic situation. Feel free to leave and questions, comments or suggestions you have as well. Let us work together to heal the world.

ARE YOU IN AN ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP?

Before we start thinking about how wonderful our spouses are or are not, let me clarify the opening question. The relationship I am discussing here is the most important relationship you have in your life, the one with yourself. Now before you start to dismiss this as an absurd notion, or one that does not apply to you, hear me out for  just a second. I was at a friend’s birthday party at a local drinking establishment this past Saturday and ran into a former coworker and his wife. We began expressing our concerns for a former coworker of mine who never seemed to be happy and how she may be helped. Think if you know someone like this in your life. She seemed to always have problems with those around her. She felt as if the world was out to get her and that is why nothing ever went right for her. On the rare occasion that it did she was still unhappy it did not go even better. When speaking with her the truth became clear after only a few minutes of conversation, this lady was unhappy with the world and all of the things and people in it because she was really unhappy with herself. Her skills with finance were lacking and she always seemed to find herself falling further and further behind. Instead of addressing the problem and encouraging herself to chip away at it she would do the opposite. She would ask herself very disempowering questions. “Why can I never get my bills paid?” “Why am I so stupid when it comes to money?” then she would just graduate to referring to herself as stupid. This made her feel like she had no control. When she did answer herself she was doomed to fail. Instead of asking why she could never pay her bills which assumes that she never will. she should have asked “What can I do to at least start getting my situation turned around” That takes the focus from the problem to the solution. It also gives us a sense of hope. Remember doing something stupid and being stupid are two entirely different things. We have all done stupid things. I remember after a few shots of rum I once woke up on a pool table with one shoe. Not my proudest moment, but I had acted stupid I was not stupid. Now if that happened every Friday we may have to reconsider that. The conclusion my former coworkers wife had come to was a brilliant one “It is like she is in an abusive relationship with herself!” It is one of those simple statements that have profound meaning. How many times have you found yourself saying “Why was I so stupid?” I know I have muttered that to myself far to many times to be proud of. Still how many times do we take time to cheer ourselves on? At first mention this may sound silly, but why? Why is it that reprimanding ourselves comes so natural while encouraging ourselves sounds so foreign? I have made an effort when struck with fear, worry or some other disempowering emotion telling myself “You’ve got this Neil” To statements of a more powerful nature. Our relationship with ourselves is affects us greater than any other relationship we have. Let us make sure it is empowering one. No matter who we are, we could all stand to be a little more encouraging to the person in the mirror. Think of ways you can encourage yourself. List them here to help get others started. Oh, and if you have too much rum, trust me a pool table is not as comfortable as it looks.