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 LET IT KILL YOU!

Stress..wouldn’t it be great if our life didn’t have any? Sure a few days where everything goes along perfectly would be nice every now and again, but when it comes to having no stress in our lives at all let us be careful what we wish for. 

Ok before I lose you completely let me explain what i mean. Imagine if everything we had to lift was as light as a feather? Sounds great, but how on earth would we build the muscles needed for our body to work properly? It would be great if our partners agreed with everything we thought, but where would the variety in our relationships be? I can just imagine what you are thinking,  “Neil, i really could skip the stress that comes with disagreeing with the one i love. “. It is no fun going through the frustration and sometimes hurt feelings that come with disagreements, but often times this is when we learn the most about and grow closest to our partner. 

You see whenever stress appears in our lives the easiest way to not let it get to us is to ask one very important question,  “how can i use this?”. By asking this, and by using the stress to better ourselves it will keep us from feeling overwhelmed. Here is a list of  some of the possible things we can come up with. 

  • I learned something about the person i disagreed with
  • I learned something about myself
  • Here is an opportunity to show something great about my character 
  • I made it through this stressful time

So next time stress appears in your life look it square in the eyes and say “I’m going to use you, you will no longer use me.”

MEA CULPA

The phrase above translates to “my fault”. Last post we mentioned how even the most ‘enlightened’ or ‘self-evolved’ of us can trip up and do things we know we shouldn’t do. When this happens, when you don’t live up to your own standards it can be one of the worst feelings. Not only have you often hurt or let someone else down, but you have done so by doing something that is out of character. As a fabulous bonus, you can also come across as looking like someone who says one thing and does another. In short, a hypocrite.

So this has all been very inspiring hasn’t it? So you have done great on your goal for so long. You have not smoked, you have controlled your anger, you have been more positive, whatever your goal is. Then you slip up. You have a cigarette on a stressful day,or you blow up when someone seems to push just the right buttons. Maybe you find yourself in a very negative and depressed state? In the past because I worked so hard on being the best I can be, and trying to set a good example for others i would beat myself up for days when i let myself down. Being an author and motivational speaker it is also bad for business. Do you know what is worse, however? Not moving on. If you wish to continue to work on your goal of bring a non smoker,or whatever it might be, you do not want to begin again with a feeling a failure.

So what do you do? Take a step back, catch your breath and confidently say “I screwed up”. Trust me it is quite liberating. If you spend all of your time trying to come up with reasons or justification for your actions you can quite often look like someone who can’t admit they’re wrong at best, or drive yourself insane at the worst. Just own your temporary moment of insanity and strengthen your resolve to do better. Find a better way to deal with stress than lighting up. Try to be more compassionate when someone pushes your buttons. Saying “it’s my fault” not only frees you from spending wasted time trying to excuse your bad behaviour, but also shows you have the character to admit your wrong. Now just focus on making things right!

IT’S MONDAY, GO ON THE ATTACK!!

Inner demons,we all have them. From the happiest person we know to the most angry and sad. Some demons are obvious, some you would never know are there. One thing is certain, the demons we all have are as varied as the people who have them. I happened to be listening to the late Jim Rohn on the way to write this blog. If  you haven’t had a chance I urge you to check out some of his material. He is the man who mentored one of my mentors, a man you might have heard of, Tony Robbins. In this current talk Mr. Rohn said “if something attacks you in life, attack it back”. That got me thinking of what was attacking me in my life. I came up with a few. Doubt, trouble trusting others, a temptation to react instead of act. So the very next question, how do we attack these? Different demons call for different actions I suppose. The first thing to do is admit they exist. Then, keep showing up. Do what the little girl in the picture is doing, smile. Nothing drives an inner demon more crazy.

Then what? Two things really. The first is do everything you can. If your demon is anger, maybe watch a YouTube video on anger management? Talk to a consoler? Whatever you do just don’t fight fire with fire. If you have anger issues, don’t get mad about that. If you are depressed, resist the temptation to become sad about it. Reach out to others whether it be in person or online. Read books on the subject, listen to a cd on the subject, look up websites.

That brings us to the second thing you should do. Don’t ever give up. Everyday you show up to do battle with your inner demons you are winning the war. Sure you may lose a few battles along the way. You may become upset and say things you don’t mean, but if you recognize that and are honestly trying to do better you are winning.

When going through this know something else. You are not alone. We all have our demons. Some are just better at hiding them. So the struggle is all of ours. If someone reaches out to you be understanding and compassionate. Feel free to share some of your demons and how you are attempting to beat them or maybe how you already have. You may just give others the strength to do the same.

YOU DO HAVE CONTROL

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“I would be angry a lot less if my wife/husband would be more understanding and not make me so angry” “I would love to be more positive, but everything keeps going wrong for me”

Have you ever heard others around you saying phrases like this? Have you ever found yourself uttering the same type of phrases? Today’s post is about one of the hardest lessons I have ever had to learn. I once heard at a seminar that nobody can make you feel anything, that all emotion comes from within. My first instinct, as is so often the case was to challenge that notion. After all, how can the girl who just broke my heart not make me sad? How can the person who just said something hurtful and insulting to me not affect me?

Did you ever notice that some people can be put through the same event, but come out feeling two completely different ways? Have you ever told a friend “I don’t know how you stand that, I would have been so mad” or something more colorful? How can people be affected so differently by the same things? The answer is simple, and a bit hard to believe, but once you understand it will give you a personal freedom you may not have ever had. How we feel about any given situation is based on the meaning we attach to that situation. Does the person who is insulting us really suffer from some internal pain we do not know of? Are they really jealous of us and therefore put us down to make themselves feel better? I know it can really be hard to not be affected negatively by outside situations. Believe me between adults that act more like teenagers and last minute adjustments to my seminars, I have had lots of practice deciding what challenges mean to me. So how do you start to change your course from ‘reaction’ to ‘action’? The quick easy answer is change your question. What do I mean by this? When you are faced by a seemingly negative situation there are 3 questions you should train your brain to ask. Perhaps writing them down on a small piece of paper may help as you are beginning. They are as follows. 1) What else could this mean? as we mentioned earlier in the case of the person insulting you, maybe they were hurting or maybe even jealous of you. Perhaps they have really low self-esteem or maybe it might be an issue people insult them with as well. 2) What can I learn from this? Sticking with our previous example, perhaps the person is simply pointing out an aspect of your life you need to work on, and just doing so in a very unhealthy way. Sometimes all you learn is that person acts like an ass. Why is this important to learn? When they do so in the future you will know that is just who they are and take it with a grain of salt. 3) How can I use this? Out of all of the questions I find this one to be the most powerful. It puts negativity in your life to work. You could use the persons insult to remind you to treat others with more compassion. You could let it serve as a practice for these principles. In my own life recently when my seminar was forced to relocate a mere 15 minutes before it was set to begin, I used that as an example of how to remain positive in the face of negativity. Which just so happened to be what the seminar was about in the first place.

Trust me this is not always easy. It is something that you can work on over a lifetime. Controlling your emotions instead of letting them control you sounds so simple, but takes a lifetime to master. Just last night I dropped the ball on this one. So what to do when you do mess up? My suggestion is the same as above. If you have already reacted and let others actions get the best of you, do yourself a favor and ask the three questions anyway. Why? It will both give you some insightful answers and a way to put this to work for you as well as begin to show you the power of acting from your own place instead of reacting to their emotions. It will also show you how in control and wonderful you can feel in the face of situations and emotions that used to challenge you. If you continue to react time and time again, just remember a certain blog writer/self-improvement author is still working on this himself.