FREE YOURSELF

I love this quote, but more to the point I like the thought behind it. Too many of us focus on and dwell on the hurt that has been done to us in the past. Here is a shocking bit of news for you – the only person you are continuing to hurt is yourself. By reliving the pain and hurt you experienced, you are simply choosing to experience that pain and hurt all over again. The ironic thing is that the only person to blame this time is you. I know you might be saying, “But Neil if they wouldn’t have hurt me in the first place I would have nothing to relive.” That may be true, but they have moved on and it would serve you to do the same.

Will Smith said it best when he remarked “fault and responsibility are not linked.” It may be their fault that they hurt you but it is your responsibility to not only move on from that hurt, but better yet, put that pain to work for you and stop letting it hold you back. Still stewing over what your ex did to you years ago? How do you think that will affect your current relationships? If we were to put what you are doing into words it would sound something like this, “I am not only going to feel this pain and heartache every day, but I am going to let that pain screw up my current and future relationships.” Doesn’t sound very sensible does it?

In the above quote Nelson Mandela was speaking about a government who had kept him in jail for 25 years based on the color of his skin. Was that his fault? Of course not. Was that fair or right? Absolutely not. If he focused on that anger and bitterness when he was freed who would suffer? Not those who jailed him. It would be himself that would feel anger and bitterness in his heart. It would be him that would eventually fall victim to physical ailments due to those emotions. As he said if he did not let those emotions go he would not be free.

I am not advocating letting people walk all over you. Far from it. Be cautious against those who have hurt you, but do not relive the pain. It does not affect them and it can only hurt you. Remember fault and responsibility are not linked. It sucks, but it is true. Free yourself from your hate, sadness, bitterness and anger. Enjoy the freedom you deserve.

DO NOT WASTE YOUR ENERGY ON THIS

Here is something that does not serve us – being jealous of someone else. We touched on this a few posts ago when we explored comparing our private struggles with other’s public successes. If we were to be given their lives and their problems, quite often we would long to have our own back.

More to the point, jealousy is a nonproductive emotion. If I were to be jealous of Michael Jordan’s ability to play basketball, that would not change the fact that I am vertically challenged and not well-versed in the sport of basketball. If I were to constantly compare myself to him while working on my own skills I would leave disillusioned and disappointed. Staying focused on how I have improved my own skills and noting those improvements will keep me excited and pushing forward.

Here is another thing to consider, the best person you can be is the best version of you. If you try to be someone else, the best you can do is come in second. They are the original and you will be nothing better than the best copy. Doesn’t sound too impressive does it? I am an author and a coach. There are many authors and coaches I admire. Although I learn from and on occasion borrow from them, I do not want to be them. I want to be the best author and coach Neil can be. Not to mention if an inspiring author and coach were to send me a book I certainly would take the time to get back to them.

Be the best version of you that you can be. It will be the greatest gift you can give to the world and large and those you love. Most importantly, it will be the greatest gift you can give to yourself. Never spend your time and energy being jealous of other’s lives. Instead, spend that time and energy improving your own.

GO AHEAD, YOU’RE WORTH IT!

This is a prepackaged slice of cheese. You may have been able discern that already. It is not terribly good for you and does cost more than it probably should. I believe this 4 oz. wonder was roughly $6. Not going to break the bank, but let us face it, you could get a lot more cheese with $6 than 4 oz. Here is something else, I bought the damn thing. Not only did I do so, but I did so gleefully.

The reason I am sharing this with you is to highlight a very important life point. The difference between a expense and an investment. What possibly, other than increasing the profit of the cheese company is this an investment in? Quite simply, a moment of joy. It is true that this cheese is priced more to be a luxury item. It is not something you would buy to say place between two slices of buttered bread and melt in a hot pan. It does not make good fiscal sense to purchase this cheese often.

Why did I buy it? I purchased it knowing that I would relax and eat it slowly while doing something I enjoy. That just so happens to be writing these words to you. I also know that spending a little more on this cheese will not break my checking account and it will give me a moment of bliss. That is what this post is about – investing in your bliss. This is what I recommend you do this weekend. Begin to form a ‘Bliss budget’. An amount of money dedicated to purchasing things a little above and beyond what you might normally spend. Before we get carried away, let me add a small caveat to this. This money should not put you in financial hardship. Do not justify spending your entire paycheck at the casino as practicing being more of a risk taker.

The important point is to get into the habit of spending money on things that bring you joy without feeling guilty. These need not be large items, but ones that you normally would not treat yourself to. A slightly better bottle of wine, dinner in a nicer place or an expensive slice of cheese. Then take a moment to really enjoy these items. Share the wine with a good friend or drink it all yourself while watching your favorite movie or reading your favorite book. Light a candle, pull out your computer and slowly snack on your red wine infused cheese as you write your daily blog. Take your time to savor the moment of bliss you have invested in. Relish in the moment. You may even take a little time to jot in a diary about it or record your thoughts in some fashion.

Why would we do all this? Adding peaceful moments of bliss in a chaotic, crazy world can help balance out the stress you will face and reaffirm your self-worth to yourself. So go ahead, you’re worth it!

YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES!


The focus of this post will look at two different items, perspective and potential. Let us look at the first one, perspective. A lot of us when chasing a goal, be that a job, relationship or certain economic stature, compare our private beginnings to others public achievements. Let us say we are trying to promote a book we have recently written. We may have been working on this several months or even a year. We look up and see other authors who are routinely on the New York Time’s bestseller list. We wonder why we don’t have the same fortune as a Dean Koontz let’s say. Better yet, why hasn’t our book become a major motion picture like Stephen King had?
Comparing our struggle to someone else’s accomplishments not only makes little sense, it also does not serve us. We do not know the struggle they have also went through. We may be further along than they were at the same point in their career. Think about how comparing your worst with someone else’s best would make you feel? It would leave you doubting yourself and leaving you with a lack of motivation at best, depression at its worst. Do not do this to yourself. Each individual has their own skills. It may serve you to research those you emulate and discover the challenges they have faced along the way. You may learn how they made it through and better yet, how they overcame some of the same challenges you may now be facing.
The second area of focus is potential. You may want to be the next LeBron James, but you are having trouble making your high school basketball team. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school team. That is not to say without countless hours of practice you cannot excel as well. You may have a better three-point shot or be better defensively. You never know what skills you have buried inside of you. They say hard work is the great equalizer. It also happens to be a great tool for developing and polishing skills you naturally have. In my case, by writing every day my skill as a writer has improved dramatically.

A fun thing to do is to look back as see how different you may be now than you were years ago. It may cause you to cringe at times but you will be able to see the improvement. This is great in the gym too. I know there are times I feel like I am not getting anywhere. I look at photos or compare numbers from the year prior and realize how much further I am. It is also a great motivator to keep working. There is nothing worse than looking back and seeing you have moved in the wrong direction.
A quick note to add. This not only takes place with comparing ourselves to famous people, but can hold just as true with the neighbor down the block. You look at the soccer mom who seems to balance it all and have a tendency to be jealous. Really behind closed doors she is on the verge of a nervous breakdown. We cannot judge what goes on in public with what we struggle with for years in private. Think of your own life and what people may think of you without knowing what you do in private. You have the potential and can develop the perspective to be truly great!

WHO WERE YOU?

We often hear gurus all over telling us that our pain can be our greatest teacher. It can be rather hard to listen to when you are watching them climb into their private jet and return to their own island. I am not inferring that the rich have no problems, or that their advice is any less valid because they have wealth. If we are being honest, hearing that kind of advice from someone who has the appearance at least, of not being in pain can be hard to listen to.

 Shortly after the year 2000, as my study in self-improvement was just beginning, I had a moment that in reflection helped me grow substantially. When I was going through it, however, all I could tell you was it sucked. That is how life is sometimes. Steve Jobs said we can never connect the dots moving forward, only looking back. Sure it would be great to know how your current struggle is going to pay off in the future. It certainly would make going through it a lot easier. I guess that is where something called faith comes into play.

Back to my personal story and how it can benefit us all. Shortly after 2000 the United States Postal Service, the fine edifice where I step most of my waking hours informed me although I was a model employee, due to declining mail volume my hours would be cut to about 10 a week. What made matters better is that to receive these hours I would have to be available Monday through Saturday from 3 a.m. to 6 p.m. making it near impossible to find a second job to make up the lost hours. Luckily for me, about a month later they did realize I was an employee worth keeping and found a position for me.

Here is what really threw me, I found myself not knowing what or more to the point who I would be if I left the Post Office. That may sound like a bit of a stretch, but at the time I had been working there 13 years, roughly 50 hours a week. It became a part of my identity. In a world of corporate downsizing this can be an all to common situation. It is not limited to jobs either. Think of the end of a relationship. You fell in love and were perhaps in love for a great deal of time. You shared everything, they were not only your lover, but your best friend. All of that is exactly how it should be. What happens when that is gone? The person leaves, be it through walking away, cheating or even passing away. You feel as though a part of you has died. What then?

Just like the loss of a job, it is an end of a relationship. No matter how intense or good the relationship is, job or person, it is a weaving of two paths. Trying to keep this in perspective is one way to help us carry on. I am in no way inferring that this is an easy thing to do. The better the relationship, the more it will hurt. Even in that pain you must remember to balance that with gratitude. You had great moments some may never experience. Maybe that man that seemed so perfect for you turned out to be a no good snake. Maybe he even slept with your sister…or your brother for that matter. The fact remains you still received moments of joy and bliss out of the relationship. The fact they ruined it by being a snake simply means they gave up the right to experience more of those moments with you. Maybe someone you loved passed away? There are no opportunities to share more moments no matter how much you both would have loved that. It is time to realize how rare having someone like that in your life is. Reflect on those memories when they come up not as a sense of loss or that you will never have them again. No, reflect on them with gratitude you had the opportunity to share that with them. Maybe even offer up a word of thanks to their memory for such loving memories. Again, not saying or even imagining any of this is easy. Pain is something we get through day by day.

Lastly, and this is what helped me through my job challenge, is have people in your life that have known you before that job or relationship started. An old friend is a gift that is more priceless than gold. When I was feeling a loss of identity, I called up my good friend and former bandmate, Russ. We have know each other since we were around 13 years-old. I asked Russ a simple but bizarre question, “Who was I before the post office?” Not only did he remind me of that, he even offered some ways in which I may have lost myself due to the post office. Good friends can tell you ways in which you kind of suck without being too hurtful. \

Discovering there was a person who existed before and more important separate from, the job (again this can work for relationships as well) helped me in two important ways. First, it made me determined to keep who I was separate from what I did for a living. This can also be helpful in a relationship. Margie and I are amazing as a couple and people recognize that, but we each have our own personal identities as well. For example, if you want a great cake for your special occasion you best talk to her. Need a speech written? More my forte. The second way in which this liberated me was I realized I was free to decide who I wanted to be as a person going forward, despite whatever foolish actions the Postal Service may take. Who you are should never depend on what you do for a living or who you happen to date. Those things have a great influence on you and it is your job to make sure it is a positive one, but at the end of the day it is you who decides who you are going to become.

In closing, remember that you are not a victim in your life, but a creator. We may not have control over the actions of others and how it can impact us, but we do have complete control over how we react and how we can put the challenges to use in our lives. It will not be easy but it will definitely be worth it.

IT’S ALL UP TO YOU

Building on what we learned last post – that fault and responsibility are not related – here is a prime example. Viewing life through these two different examples can make a world of difference. It can be related to the old adage “What people do to us is up to them. How we react to it is up to us.” This is easy to both read and understand intellectually, but try and live this way emotionally and you will discover it is not so easy.

What is vital to remember is that it is possible. We have control of our minds. For most of us we have relinquished that control, but we can get it back. Next time you find yourself upset due to some outside circumstance or some socially challenged individual, try saying to yourself, or better yet out loud, “I am really pissing myself off through this person!” If you are anything like me, you might chuckle at the absurd sounding nature of that statement, but sooner or later you will see the grain of truth in it.

Another great thing to follow up with is to imagine what possible reason that person could be acting like that. For example, when Margie and I are driving along, (Ok I am the driving and she is the along) and someone cuts us off to get that one car ahead before the red light, I often look at her and say, “Maybe they have to poop.” Certainly not the most eloquent option, but I am sure we can all relate having to hurry for just such a reason.

It helps you give the other party a certain benefit of the doubt. It doing so, it helps us get a little less upset. This is not to say you should let people treat you anyway or do whatever they like to you. What we are trying to do is lessen the effect their actions have on us.

Taking control of your mind and emotions is neither quick or easy, but with time and effort it can certainly pay dividends with reduced stress and mental anxiety. Try these simple tools to get started. Feel free to share your ideas in the comments below!

YOU ARE ALLOWED

A lot of people think they can only be considered a success when they achieve their goals. That is not even close to true. Being someone who loves the process is just as important as achieving your goals. You can set a great example in several ways. Let us take a look at a few of them.

First is your ability to stay focused and moving forward. Some people call this ‘drive’ some people call it ‘persistence’. Whatever you call it, managing to go through the process day after day can inspire others to do the same. A lot of individuals I know have a hard time staying focused, especially when they are not seeing results. Seeing someone who continues to put the work in despite the results not being visible right away is inspiring. Think of that person who is struggling to get in shape, but still shows up at the gym every day. Personally, I find those people inspiring.

Another way to  be a masterpiece while you are a work in progress is to show how you handle adversity. Everyone can be smiling and positive when the chips are going their way, but when the wheels fall off and things start going downhill that is when a person’s true character is revealed. Someone who can handle obstacles while staying calm, motivated and positive is a masterpiece!

Lastly, do not give up. It was Babe Ruth, the famous baseball player who said, “You just can’t beat the person who never gives up.” If Babe Ruth would have given up every time he struck out, he would not be the masterpiece of professional baseball that he is now. Believe in yourself. Not only will you be a masterpiece, but you may inspire others to do the same. 

THEIR GAME IS OVER

In working in fields that are highly social it is interesting to note how many perfectly amazing people allow themselves to be held hostage by the opinions of others. While it is ok to value the opinions of others, it is important to put greater importance on what we think of ourselves. I am not talking about conceit or arrogance. For deep down, those souls seem to have the lowest opinions of themselves. I am not talking about treating others harshly or that they are less than you. If you are a person that acts like that, could you honestly have a great self-image?

What we are talking about is a healthy respect for the person in the mirror. You have good qualities. What are they? Yes, you have flaws and it is important to really own them too. By doing so it will allow you to know what you have to work on. While you are working on it, know that each day you will improve a little more. Give yourself some patience as well. Saying such things as “I know I am not where I need to be with my _____ but I am working on it and getting better each and every day.” This can do wonders.

For reasons that are completely beyond my understanding there are those who live for nothing other than to point out others faults and shortcomings. Perhaps it is to deal with their own deep-seated insecurities. Perhaps they just feel bad about where they are in life and this helps them deal with it. Maybe they even made a deal with the devil. Who knows and who cares? It is hurtful when they do so. We must remember that what people say about us speaks more about them than it does about us. This may matter little when someone puts us down in public, but that is where a healthy amount of self-love can help.

When we are honest about who we are and can find ways to love ourselves despite what people may view as negatives, the insults of others lose their power. I have heard people put down for their height, weight, lack of hair, over abundance of hair and a million other things. They can sting and again I encourage all of us to focus on complimenting people on their strengths, for we all need to hear that more. It is getting to the point of not relying on the opinions of others, whether good or bad, that will give us true freedom.

Let us start loving ourselves more today. Whether that is through affirmations, therapy, writing down what we love about each other or just working harder towards our goals, let us all increase the love we have for the person we see in the mirror every morning. When we realize what a challenge this can be after years of neglect, negative self-talk and opinions of others, we may more inclined to point out the good in others and overlook their faults. 

ONE THING TO REMEMBER ABOUT THE PAST

The past…it can be many things. When used intelligently, the past can be a teacher, a healer and a great place to escape. If we are not careful, the past can also be a depressant, an anchor and a jailer. It is the latter of the two options we are going to discuss today. We are going to look at how our past, and our story about it, can often stop us from achieving the greatness and joy we so rightly deserve.

Have you ever heard others, or maybe even caught yourself saying things like this? “Every time things start going right in my life they end up going wrong.” or “I can never get ahead something always goes wrong for me.” While this may have been true to some extent in your past, my guess is that there was plenty of times when everything did go right…at least for a while.

We have all heard sayings such as life is a marathon not a sprint or do you see the glass half-full or half-empty? I actually did a great video about these on my YouTube channel Neil Panosian, you will find the link at the end of this post. The truth is life is both a marathon and a sprint. The glass is both half-full and half-empty. The only difference is which one we focus on. By focusing on the good it does not make the bad any less true, just as when we are focused on the bad it does not make the good any less real. The only difference it makes is how it makes us feel. I made that statement a different color for a reason, I would like you to read that again and really think about it. When we consider the truth of that statement we realize the power we have in our lives.

It is important to consider the sprint verses marathon view as well. If we focus on life in the short term we fall victim to the ups and downs of life. If we feel our life is generally one of misfortune and bad things we will see that. They exist in every life I know of. If we feel our life will always turn out, that will be true. We just need to focus on the marathon. Eventually good things happen. Yes, eventually bad things happen as well, but again how we feel is based on which one we focus on.

Just because things have always gone a certain way does not mean they cannot change. When we focus on the negative we tend to notice that. When we focus on the negative that we experienced in the past we tend to avoid taking actions that can lead us to different opportunities in the future. Let the past be a teacher, not a jailer.

CLICK HERE FOR YOUTUBE VIDEO

DO YOU DO IT IN THE RAIN?

Hunting in the rain. I equate this to putting in the work when it is not convenient. Do you go to work after staying up late and not getting any sleep? Do you put in time for your passion even after working 8 hours at your day job? Do you attempt things even when the path ahead looks difficult and you are not sure you will succeed? If so, then you hunt in the rain. You are one of the rare people I enjoy spending my time around.

What is the big deal about hunting in the rain? There are a few things that make this so special. First of all, it shows how committed you are. Anyone can go to the gym when they got enough sleep, the sun is shining and they feel good. What happens when you wake up to temperatures well below freezing and a great deal of snow outside? Do you still lace up and give it your best? If so, then you hunt in the rain.

People who hunt in the rain have strong ‘whys’ They know exactly what the reason is for them doing what it is they do. It is that health challenge that gets them to the gym. It is the thought of supporting their family that makes them go to work even on days they don’t really feel like it. They are generally people aligned with their true purpose.

Hunting in the rain sucks. It is not easy, so why do it at all? If you are a person who is determined to get ahead in life, hunting in the rain is for you. Given that hunting in the rain is uncomfortable and unpleasant many will not do it. That means while you are hunting your competition is sleeping or staying where it is warm and safe. It is by doing the hard work, by hunting in the rain that you get ahead. You take advantage of the extra time they are wasting. Because not many hunt in the rain, the field is always less crowded. People will remember who was there for them when the going was tough. Bosses will remember who showed up when there was a blizzard. If you want to stand out and make a good name for yourself, you must learn to hunt in the rain.

How can we be motivated to hunt in the rain? Print out the picture above would be a good start. Remember your why, have it written down somewhere you can see it. If you add a picture too that would make it even more powerful. Also, stay focused on the advantages of hunting in the rain that we mentioned here. Note that an animal that hunts in the rain has access to prey those who stay where it is warm and safe do not. Show up every day and do the best you can. Before long, you will be the king, or queen of your own jungle.