Tag Archive | motivational

All about narcissistic abuse and how to escape

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Narcissism is an evil that masquerades as good. Like a Pied Piper this master illusionist can lead you to Hell all while making you feel flattered to be chosen to go there. Only when you wake up in Hell do you realize the real evil that existed in his fluted song. By then it’s too late; not only have you fallen victim, but most likely you have paid for the flute, as well. Tigress Luv

Narcissistic Personality Disorder: one of the few conditions where the patient is left alone and everyone else is treated. Anonymous

Have you been the target of narcissistic abuse and despite trying everything, you’re still finding it difficult to move forward with your life? Are you in a relationship with someone that has you doubting yourself and you’re never sure if you’re coming or going and even though it’s painful, you can’t let go? Was your relationship once Hollywood-perfect but now you feel stuck and trapped by threats of retribution? I bet you’re riddled with paranoid thoughts about the next thing you’re about to say or do – things you never questioned before… It’s time to wake up and BE YOUR OWN HERO!

Generally you won’t be in the position you are by choice, but more because you don’t know what the next move should be in order to safely get out of this relationship. Narcissistic abuse is not a toxic relationship and it’s not necessarily connected to domestic violence, but it falls somewhere between the two. It presents like a toxic relationship: because it’s got strong undercurrents of emotional abuse although they won’t necessarily physically hurt you (although it often escalates to this when narcissistic injury is caused, such as the threat of leaving them) and it is like domestic violence situation because of the threats, stalking and harassment and it’s likely to leave you traumatised for a long time to come. Narcissistic abuse is very, very serious.

Thankfully narcissistic abuse is becoming more spoken about, however still not many people comprehend it and the healthy mind will always have difficulty accepting it whether it happened to them directly or not. Particularly if it’s about someone they think they know, because of the mask a narcissist wears to hide their true self and present a false self which is almost perfect. If you know someone who doesn’t understand, hopefully this helps piece it together.

Meanwhile the target of this abuse will hold onto the confusion that their perfect sickly-sweet relationship where arguments were about who would take the bin out or have the latest bite of dinner and you were a tight unit and team, rapidly declined to become something so toxic, evil, destructive and dangerous. It can be difficult to get help because targets quickly realise that people struggle to comprehend it and they blame and judge themselves for omitting their abusive partner’s behaviours, while intensely fearing the judgement of others adding to their pain.

As a wounded healer – my own experiences with a man who had Narcissistic Personality Disorder inspired me to start my business Relationship Free and assist others to get clear of these relationships safely. Without police intervention. Without judgement. Without any support at all. I did it – and you can too!

Abandonment, loneliness and craving are all things targets of narcissistic abuse experience as they leave their relationship. And it’s overwhelming! Many of these people are desperately seeking closure and the truth and in doing so, are actually putting themselves in greater danger. What they rapidly learn if they are fortunate to hear about narcissistic abuse is that the person they thought they knew and loved actually doesn’t exist – they were just a fantasy, and this evil, destructive person who is now threatening them with even the most bizarre threats is their loved one’s true, authentic self. If you have found yourself in this situation and you’re wondering if your partner is a love avoidant and you’re a love addict and that’s the reason for the clash – this blog is for you. This week Happiness Weekly looks at how you can escape the hell of narcissistic abuse and find your happiness again – even if it means being alone.

What is narcissistic abuse?

According to expert Jeni Mawter, narcissistic abuse is carried out by someone who has Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD): where a person has an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for attention and admiration, and a strong sense of self entitlement. It’s a condition that is often not medically diagnosed.

Psychology Today says someone with NPD displays arrogant behaviour, a lack of empathy for others and a need for admiration.

Jeni Mawter very aptly describes the narcissist as “a soul without footprints”. If you experience a turbulent ending to a relationship with someone who has NPD, this may be one of the first things you can identify with. They are the original hallow man – and to fill their voice, they literally try to get their lifeblood from destroying the souls of their targets.

Still not sure if this is something you’re experiencing?

Narcissists use tools and just like any form of abuse, there is a very distinct cycle that keeps their sources of supply hooked in the turbulent and high-intensity relationship.

Roberta Cone defines a narcissist as “a person who deprives their partners of the ability to feel joy and love as a separate person in relationships. They deliberately attempt to destroy or compromise the separate identity of another. The longer the relationship continues, the narcissist not only becomes less considerate, but more actively cruel.”

How it looks on paper:

  • Idealisation: they try really hard to get your attention – also known as love bombing or more commonly “grooming”
    • Repetitive text messages, emails, phone calls and Facebook posts, Tweets etc. that highlight their care and interest in you
    • Public displays of affection: they’re not afraid to show their love for you, something you won’t have experienced because health people don’t do it – it’s part of their attraction and fantasy creation
    • They will turn up at your home or workplace unannounced and bring gifts they know you’ll love
    • Intense seduction and sexual chemistry
    • Swift-pacing of the relationship, they will want to move in with you immediately: and generally they find a way to make it happen a lot faster than a healthy relationship
    • Dosing: they actually start pushing the boundaries early on to force the relationship into something toxic with their requests. As soon as the target does as they’re asked, they normalise it
    • Mirroring and projection: They mirror their target at the start of the relationship to make the love appear mutual
    • Excessive romancing: fine dining, flowers, elaborate gifts

Why these behaviours are BIG red flags: narcissistic behaviours parallel the behaviours of psychopaths, in that they are a Cluster B personality – everything at the beginning is done to prepare their targets for abuse in the future.

This is followed by a small transition as it moves from the idealisation phase and this includes things like:

  • Isolation: “We only need each other”
  • Social isolation and artificially inflated self-esteem “I feel like a better person when I am with you”
  • Creation of feeling dependent on you “I couldn’t do it without you”, “You give the best advice of anyone I know”

Isolation doesn’t happen overnight or the target will catch on, it is extremely subtle and it escalates as they move through each phase of abuse. People on the outside will notice a target withdrawing, often well before the target notices themselves. Inside the situation, it looks like this: it may start with the narcissist removing themselves off social media, and then asking you do the same (it’s likely they still have a profile and have changed their name or blocked you), it then moves to you cancelling plans with other people because you need to prioritise them over anyone else and before you know it you find yourself watching your phone ring out as concerned loved ones call but you’re not allowed to take the call because you’ll disturb them or whatever other reason they have given or inferred. These calls eventually stop. And then it’s just silence. Day in and day out, just you walking on egg shells in the same accommodation as this narcissistic person. This is generally where the seed is planted for isolation.

Then you enter the next phase, and if you get to this phase, strap in tight because it’s a hell of a ride that a narcissist will not let you get off. At this point they start giving flickers behind their mask and the target starts seeing their true character rather than the delusion they portray:

  • Devaluation: the narcissist tests their abuse and targets often mistake this phase for a toxic relationship
    • Sudden rejection, silent treatment, snide remarks
    • They disappear – stop texting, stop calling, stop dropping in to visit you
    • The deception becomes more apparent: you may find out they’re cheating on you. If this is the case, it’ll be the world’s worst kept secret, they’re almost proud of it. And they start using their favourite tool: triangulation. At this stage, it’s no longer just the two of you in the relationship – get set to be played off another person as they try to make themselves appear desirable to many and create triangles to stimulate rivalry in an attempt to raise their perceived value
    • They start using tools such as projection (saying you are doing things they are doing to you – for example, they tend to blame you for cheating or get upset over unfaithful behaviours, when they’re cheating on you) and trauma bonding (deliberately setting up high intensity situations and causing distress before playing the hero and hoovering you back in)
    • They also stop validating your feelings, so what they once appeared to care about – such as you being upset or heartbroken over anything – no longer seems to matter to them
    • Generally they will evoke sympathy to distract from blame ie. working long hours and your expectations are too high – they’re doing it all for you
    • They make it feel like you’re on an eternal honeymoon – meaning, after they cheat, abuse, insult, harass and stalk you they will then tell you they showed people your photo and how beautiful you are, you look amazing (it will often be image-focussed comments)
    • You’ll hear them say things like: “I have a photo of you in my phone and can’t stop looking at it”, “You’re stunning now – the guys can’t believe my luck! You’ve changed a lot since being with me”, “I’ve never felt this way in my life”, “You’re the most special person I’ve ever met”, “I’d risk it all for you” and no matter what turmoil is going down you’ll still hear them say “I can’t remember the last time I’ve been this happy, if I ever have”
    • Mirroring and projection: They mirror their target at this stage to make it look as though they are the ones who should be confused and it’s all the target’s fault. At this point their projection works to reduce anxiety of the unacceptable impulses or feelings by allowing their expression in a way that the conscious mind can’t recognise

Why these behaviours are BIG red flags: in devaluing targets, hoovering them back in and devaluing them again, the narcissist sets the target up for long term trauma and self doubt and once they realise the reality of the situation it’s also a lot harder to forgive themselves and move forward.

Generally at some point after this stage the target may try to leave or consider leaving. This is when a narcissist will use a tool called “hoovering” which sucks the target right back in again – no matter how bad things get. They’ll use their knowledge of the things you like, they’ll tell you elaborate stories for why they did things and they’ll convince you that they are a better person with you (giving the illusion that they have given you the power back) and beg you not to take it away and to give them a second chance. Ultimately they will make you believe that they’re scared to lose the relationship.

So let’s say you can’t break it off at the devaluation phase. What happens is, like any abuse cycle it will temporarily start over. You’ll get love bombed again – only this time it will be more intense, more possessive and shorter lived (a month or two) – “Where are you?” “When can I see you?” They’ll start forcing the soul mate ideal – so, for example, in my case I got a lovelock: a padlock with our names on it, locked for all eternity. The devaluation phase quickly comes around again though – within days or up to a couple of weeks, the honeymoon wasn’t made to last. Now targets start experiencing what’s known as “baiting and bashing”. So they called you “beautiful”, “incredible”, “intelligent” and then it transforms to “ugly”, “crazy”, “jealous”, “stupid”. They will often build you up just to dump you right back down again and they keep repeating this phase to affect your self esteem, self worth and cause exhaustion and confusion. It will also affect your perception and ability to function overall.

Reality becomes distorted as the narcissist starts using gaslighting as a technique to cause the target confusion by presenting false information to their target, making them doubt their own memory, perception and often their sanity. In creating this confusion the target starts to doubt their own thoughts. It’s by using this tool that the abuser can verify that they have the target hooked through their disgraceful pathological lies and can carry out the next phase and cause mass destruction to their target’s life.

  • Discard: this is where the narcissist discards their targets and drops their source of supply in the most brutal way
    • Control by threats and fear
    • Increased emotional and psychological dependence
    • Punishment through anger, verbal and physical abuse, isolation
    • Character assassination (also known as narcissistic smear campaigns)
    • They will start scouting new supply, and the source may know this (particularly if the narcissist uses triangulation, this will be a threat in the relationship and it can be something like – if you go to work, I’ll cheat on you – and as crazy as that sounds, that can sometimes be enough to make targets quit their jobs and end their career in the hope of keeping the person who is abusing them without them realising it)
    • The target starts to experience cognitive dissonance – discomfort caused by holding two conflicting beliefs or ideas at the same time. Often the target then convinces themselves to stay because they may be able to make it better and they start exhibiting codependent behaviours
    • The narcissist will fly into rages and then act as though nothing happened, before raging again
    • The target becomes exhausted and generally starts to realise the abuse
    • Narcissist will move on without giving closure, admitting the truth or taking any responsibility for the chaos and trauma they created. In fact: they’re proud of it
    • Mirroring and projection: They mirror their target, who is now exhausted from ongoing abuse and doesn’t actually know where their abuser ends and they begin – flooded by confusion and brainwashed, they remain in agony as they defend the narcissist for their actions throughout the relationship, appear “crazy” and “obsessive” while drowning in a wake of destruction left behind by the abusive person who has no conscience
    • Stalking, harassment which could lead to homicides and suicides.

Why these behaviours are BIG red flags: many people believe once a target leaves the relationship that they are safe, even if an order is in place to prevent contact. This couldn’t be further from the truth! The trauma these high-intensity relationships create actually leave targets at greater risk of separation abuse (homicides) and can lead to suicide from exhaustion and fear that they may never get out of their situation and away from their abuser.

A target’s symptoms
The symptoms that targets experience are excruciatingly painful. They are emotional but they are so strong they can lead the person to experience physical pain. For almost six months I suffered severe chest pains no one could assist me with or diagnose anything for because there was no medical explanation for it.
– Torn and unable to comprehend what has happened
– Violated: many targets recover similar to rape victims
– Depressed
– Suicidal thoughts and even attempts
– Feeling an overwhelming sense of loneliness – friendships slip away as narcissist’s isolate their victims
– Self mutilation: Self harm/Self injury
– Emotionally exhausted
– Panic (and frequently suffer panic attacks)– Hopelessness
– Highly strung/nervous
– Extreme anxiety
– Fearful
– Feeling obligated
– Completely trapped
– Low self-esteem
– May present with obsessive compulsive behaviours and/or phobias
– Insomnia
– Overwhelming sense of guilt
– Significant weight loss (generally they will be underweight as a means of gaining some control)
– Or overweight (as a result of comfort eating)
– Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: flashbacks, hallucinations and nightmares; avoiding (people, places, thoughts, loss of interest etc) and increased arousal (excessive emotions, problems relating, difficulty sleeping, poor concentration, outbursts of anger, anxiousness, panic attacks etc.)
– Emotions include: shock, anger, fear and guilt
– Dissociate (the victim may compartmentalise their experience and appear detached from their emotions, body or immediate surroundings)
– Chronic pain
– Somatizations/psychosomatic illnesses
– Nausea/vomiting caused by distress
– Hypervigilance
– Avoidance behaviour, feeling detached, sense of a limited future etc.
– Sleeping or eating difficulties
– Irritability
– Easily startled
– Flashbacks
– Stockholm Syndrome/Trauma bonding (continue to defend their abuser)
– Cognitive Dissonance
– Very uncertain of themselves/constantly second guessing themselves
– Difficulty making decisions
– Not trusting their own memory, perception or judgement
– Irritability
– Humiliation, shame, self-blame.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms, proper care is essential. It is particularly important that you receive real-time support from someone who understands and preferably who has experienced narcissistic abuse to help you through the first few months of your recovery journey. I can’t highlight enough how essential it is that you receive the proper care and support if you’ve identified that this is you.

How can I move forward?

There are steps you can take to move forward and although really challenging in the beginning, if you stick to it properly, you will move on. Sometimes you hit rock bottom before you can push off and everyone recovers at their own pace but these suggestions may speed things up. First you need to make the decision to leave this narcissist, these steps will not work if you remain in the cycle of abuse by staying with them. If you’re looking for the truth or waiting for closure, save yourself the hassle and empower yourself to put as much space between yourself and this abusive person as you possibly can. Here’s how you can become your own hero from today forward:

  1. Implement NO CONTACT
    Narcissist’s will still try to break down your boundaries even after you implement NO CONTACT, but this is where you can take your power back. NO CONTACT is difficult and not everyone is able to do it properly. It’s not just about not taking their calls – here’s the steps:
  • Change your number
  • Block their emails (if this isn’t enough, open a new account)
  • Avoid mutual friends, where possible end friendships
  • Emotionally block anyone who contacts you on your abusers behalf or appears to defend them or their behaviour (think of them as being tarnished with their toxins)
  • Move house and change jobs (if necessary)

Great – you’re half way there! Now you also need to avoid:

  • Checking up on them
  • Reacting to anything they say or do
  • Answering the door if they come over
  • Family time spent together – if you have children together, minimise time spent together
  • Accepting new friends on Social Media (particularly if you don’t know them)
  • Thinking of them
  • Allowing information to filter back to you
  • Register information about them ie. a car sale, house sale etc.
  • Waiting to implement contact – there’s no good time, embrace the present moment!
  1. Avoid listening to soppy songs and the radio
    This isn’t your typical break up. Right now you need to focus on positive, healthy, happy music that will inspire you to move forward. Make a playlist of music that makes you happy, but has nothing to do with romantic love. For example songs may include: Happy by Pharrell Williams, You Gotta Be by Des’ree, Good Feeling – Flo Rida, It’s my life – Bon Jovi … you get the idea!
  1. Find a buddy
    There are plenty of narcissistic forums and Facebook groups you can join online and get support – however I find a lot of these toxic places to sit for too long. A lot of people look back which holds you back rather than encouraging each other to move forward and some people don’t want to get better so they unintentionally bring their toxic energy to other people in what is meant to be a safe space: try not to let this affect you. I don’t condone people doing this, use your experience to empower yourself and others and become more self aware, if you don’t want to put the work in to recovery that needs to be done, then at least give space to those who do and are on the right path. On that note I wanted to share that during my recovery I was fortunate to find a buddy from over the other side of the world and we’ve been friends ever since. The bond we have formed is as strong as if we had survived a hostage situation together. Highly recommend it!
  1. Watch movies that inspire you
    Make a list of movies that you can watch that centre around the themes of bravery and courage and particularly where there’s a bit of a journey and change involved. My choice was The Hunger Games and the character I chose to keep me strong and brave was Katniss Everdeen. I haven’t looked back! (Thank you Jennifer Lawrence for doing such an awesome job portraying this character!) You could also choose The Wizard of Oz (Dorothy), The Lord of the Rings (Frodo), Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Buffy), Indiana Jones (Indiana Jones), Star Wars (Luke Skywalker). When in doubt over the next few weeks and months, as yourself what the leading character would do in your situation.
  1. Create your own support group
    Friends and family are essential at this moment, or even just a colleague. Pick just one person you can count on to talk to about what’s going on, day or night. They may already know your story. It’s great if you have someone who knows and can just check in on you each day and assist you with your progress. Even if it’s for nothing more than to tell you how far you’ve come only months down the track.
  1. Create and action a Self Care Plan
    Self nurturing is essential once you get out of this relationship and your top priority should be regaining self trust and self forgiveness. Learn what makes you feel good, what you can do to make yourself feel special and fill the void the narcissist created and left behind and discover the things you really like again – right down to your favourite food and colour. It is also recommended that you get back to nature and exercise regularly. There are Self Care Plans available online that you could use to develop your own, or if you would like to work with me to create one, get in touch: sarah@relationshipfree.com.
  1. Accept and maintain a forward focus
    If you have dated a narcissist, everything good you came to know about that person was a lie, and unfortunately the only way to move on is to look ahead and look after yourself for a while. Accept that it was a lie and a fantasy created by a bad person. It is a cruel form of abuse, but accept they never loved you and it was just words to them. A narcissist doesn’t have the ability to love at all. I highly recommend you don’t date (and resist the temptation of dating) for at least six months to a year following one of these relationships and I explain why in more detail here. The easiest way to think of it is a person wearing a beautiful mask, and they have now taken it off to reveal their ugly true self which they’ve hidden from you for months or even years. Accept who they really are and focus on what you want from life now – because this person can’t offer it to you. Not sure what step to take next? Get in touch sarah@relationshipfree.com.
  1. Ask for help

Make an appointment with someone who will understand and not judge your situation and least of all would say something that would cause trouble or trigger you. There are specialist psychologists in Domestic Violence that you can find by a simple Google search, or – after my own experience with narcissistic abuse which led to domestic violence, I have become a wounded healer and now work in this field as a life coach. I have a positive and forward moving approach and am passionate about taking a holistic approach and natural therapy. I’ll even help you find the best way to embrace your pain! Get in touch: sarah@relationshipfree.com. I am currently developing a program for targets of narcissistic abuse and domestic violence which will be released later this year.

I’ve walked away – now what?
It’s important you take these steps as soon as you can following the moment you acknowledge that you are in a relationship with someone who hurts you with narcissistic abuse or domestic violence. Dr Phil says you can’t change what you don’t acknowledge, so the second you identify with this post and acknowledge your experience is the breakthrough moment that this is your opportunity to change and transform from this situation that’s kept you stuck and trapped.

It does take time and you may not get it perfect the first time you try to move forward, be patient with yourself. Talk to people – you’ll be surprised how many people have had similar experiences or can relate or identify. Always remember that no matter how much they hurt you once you escape the relationship – it will never be as painful as what you suffered while you were in the relationship: keep looking forward. Consider your situation the lucky escape – if you’ve made it out of one of these relationships, you’ve dodged a bullet – well done!

Are you recovering from narcissistic abuse? Please share your experience below.

Need more help? I’m a qualified life coach who specialises in recovering from failed, toxic and abusive relationships, whether they’re career-related, family-related or romantic. For personalised assistance, contact me via email for my rates: sarah@relationshipfree.com

Other Resources
The After Narcissistic Abuse website is a fantastic resource of information as well. Despite encountering a lot of these signs during the relationship, there was nothing anyone could do to change my mind about my abuser – I loved him and I thought he needed my help. I was brainwashed and trapped by the tools he used to enhance my addiction. Looking back, I trusted him – even though I knew he was lying – I couldn’t prove it so I continued to doubt myself because of the ongoing abuse and the way he abused me … I just kept trusting him over my own instincts.

Removing limiting beliefs

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Conquer your limiting beliefs and nothing can prevent you from achieving success in anything you want. Jerry Bruckner

What we can or cannot do, what we consider possible or impossible, is rarely a function of our true capability. It is more likely a function of our beliefs about who we are. Tony Robbins

Beliefs have the power to create and the power to destroy. Human beings have the awesome ability to take any experience of their lives and create a meaning that dis-empowers them or one that can literally save their lives. Tony Robbins

All personal breakthroughs being with a change in beliefs. So how do we change? The most effective way is to get your brain to associate massive pain to the old belief. You must feel deep in your gut that not only has this belief cost you pain in the past, but it’s costing you in the present and, ultimately, can only bring you pain in the future. Then you must associate tremendous pleasure to the idea of adopting a new, empowering belief. Tony Robbins

I often tell people, if you want to succeed at something, if you want to improve an area of your life, one of the things involved is taking a risk, being able to step outside your comfort zone. What have you done this year that is outside your comfort zone? If the answer is nothing, why have you not had the confidence to step outside the comfort zone? Clint Ebbesen, Entrepreneur

Limiting beliefs are our little subconscious voice arising when we’re ready to take a risk that stops us from moving forward. Recently I was having a reading and healing session with the delightful Nandini Kumaran and she was talking to me about my dreams for the future and what was to come. (Perhaps this is a bit alternative for some of you, but stay with me, this is leading somewhere!) I want to dedicate this post to Nandini – she was one of the kindest souls I connected with while I was in the darkest place.

Nandini made a suggestion about my future that I was actually currently working on, but at that moment I thought to the failure of that product. At that moment she said “Wow – I just felt your heart shut down when I said that, just be open, have faith in your ideas because it will be a success, and your new direction is right for you”. From that moment, I promised myself I’d be more conscious of my limiting beliefs and work at being open to all possibilities. This week, Happiness Weekly looks at how you can shift or remove your limiting beliefs to realise your full potential.

 

What is a limiting belief?

A limiting belief is a belief that is held consciously or subconsciously that serves only as obstacles to manifesting and attracting what you want. They become filters to our reality. Initially they are there to protect us, particularly after we have been hurt or had a negative life experience, but ultimately they only hold us back.

 

Where do limiting beliefs come from?

A lot of the work I completed over my break in May and June this year was to do with removing limiting beliefs. For a long time I had some massive stories in my head that included Blame, Excuses and Denial … and I needed to put them to BED (see what I did just there?)! During these two months, I had a full life clear out. I reassessed friendships, my career, my health, my very being. Once I was finished clearing my closet, I decided on my clear direction, I set goals and I am so excited because I have started moving in the direction I want to be.

Once I did all that I stopped. What if my limiting beliefs returned? It’s possible. This can be the hindrance of having conservative parents who only want the best for you, and don’t want to see you getting hurt, because if you don’t say it to yourself first, they’ll be sure to tell you – right? Not just this, but your mind draws links to events and assumes the outcome based on past experience.

The pattern will go like this: the event will happen, you draw false generalisations based on that specific event, then assign questionable meanings to that event which leads to disempowering interpretations of what happened. Consequently, your mind blocks you from taking certain actions even though they may be reasonable or intelligent.

The good news is, you have control over your limiting beliefs. You create and manifest them, but you also have the power to eliminate them. Rest assured, if you don’t do this consciously, your ongoing behaviours that are holding you back will force you to reassess and there will come a point when the frustration will force you to change.

 

The best way to eliminate limiting beliefs

Working with a life coach and taking part in Schema Therapy are both fantastic for assisting in permanently removing limiting beliefs, particularly if they are linked to our core beliefs. But not everyone can afford this kind of help, so how about trying this:

Once you’re conscious of the limiting belief…

  1. Question the limiting belief

When you hear yourself think something limiting, stop and ask yourself – Really? Does it always happen? Consider the last time it happened and that outcome occurred … now consider the time before that, and the time before that … did it always happen exactly the same?

  1. Stop identifying with the limiting belief

Many of us subconsciously use our limiting beliefs to harshly define ourselves. “This happened, so that means I am this!” We almost use it as evidence for why we think and act the way we do, and then it becomes an excuse as to why we keep going down that path. In order to permanently remove your limiting beliefs, it’s essential that you stop identifying with the belief, because in doing so, you’re giving it power.

  1. Resist thinking to the conclusion

A limiting belief comes into our mind and we go “Oh yeah, I’ve been here before, last time this happened it lead to this!” It’s like seeing the beginning credits of a movie and fast forwarding to the last five minutes – because we already know what happens, right? This is exactly what we’re doing when we immediately draw conclusions to an event. What ever happened to keeping an open mind? Consider this – in any given situation: you don’t know, what you don’t know. Don’t assume because it shuts off possibilities and opportunities. Every conclusion you draw is a limiting belief, ensure you question it before believing it.

  1. Put assumptions to the test

This is your opportunity to prove to yourself that this limiting belief is not serving you. Step out of your limiting belief head-space for a moment, suspend your judgement about what this event will lead to and challenge yourself to see what the outcome is by doing something slightly different to break the pattern. Trust yourself. Realistically assess the outcome. An action must be taken to put your conclusions to the test.

Jordan Gray Consulting has some more practical ideas for removing limiting beliefs that I recommend you take a look at. I always think doing is habit forming and in order to break a habit we need to challenge it by doing something different – it’s similar to what Einstein said “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

 

It’s what you do with your limiting belief that counts

Sometimes our limiting beliefs can be shifted to a positive. For example, one of my limiting beliefs following my abusive relationship was that no one could understand and therefore they just couldn’t help me. It was at this point that I stopped seeing counsellors and instead started learning how to cope through various courses and workshops so that I could help myself. Once I got those skills, I was able to help others – just like when a coach told me that it’s like the air mask in a plane, you need to help yourself before you can help others.

 

How can I be more conscious of limiting beliefs?

While growing awareness of your limiting beliefs is an important part of the solution, it’s not the entire solution – you need to put a little more conscious effort in than that. When you feel a limiting belief rise, you can stop and ask yourself: “If that wasn’t an issue or if it was resolved, what would I do?” That immediately helps you rise above your limiting belief for a moment to see what’s on the other side.

 

I still can’t shift my limiting beliefs

If you are still grappling with limiting beliefs in your life, I highly recommend you check out these empowering beliefs that you can use to replace your limiting beliefs by Tony Robbins. I recommend using these as affirmations each day to assist in driving you forward:

1. The past does not equal the future.

2. There is always a way if I’m committed.

3. There are no failures, only outcomes—as long as I learn something I’m succeeding.

4. If I can’t, I must; if I must, I can.

5. Everything happens for a reason and a purpose that serves me.

6. I find great joy in little things… a smile… a flower… a sunset.

7. I give more of myself to others than anyone expects.

8. I create my own reality and am responsible for what I create.

9. If I’m confused, I’m about to learn something.

10. Every day above ground is a great day.

 

what-you-think

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How do you challenge and/or remove your limiting beliefs?

Tips to a more patient you

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Never cut a tree down in the wintertime. Never make a negative decision in the low time. Never make your most important decisions when you are in your worst moods. Wait. Be patient. The storm will pass. The spring will come. Robert H. Schuller
Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success. Napoleon Hill

They say that the universe always provides for us – ask for patience, and you’re likely to find a line at the bank or you could just test yourself and head to the post office during your lunch break. Imagine the frustration you would encounter if every time you looked for patience you got tested in some way. Patience is a skill, that’s why often we hear the term to “practise patience” – we can actually practise it and strengthen our ability to be more patient in all circumstances! This week Happiness Weekly gives you some tips on how!

Know your triggers

If you know what makes you feel impatient, you can avoid it when you are already feeling irritable, but you can also use it to challenge yourself when feeling calm to strengthen your patience in various situations.

Let go

Letting go can be difficult, but once you’ve packaged everything in a box and handed it to the universe, trust your journey to guide you. If you find directly challenging yourself with frustration is too difficult, you could also get in touch with your inner zen and practise:

  • Mindfulness: a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.
  • Meditation: a written or spoken discourse expressing considered thoughts on a subject.
  • Affirmations: the action or process of affirming something.
  • Visualisation: a technique involving focusing on positive mental images in order to achieve a particular goal.

Look at the big picture

When you’re finding it difficult to practise patience, sometimes stepping out of the situation and looking at the bigger picture can make the discomfort feel more bearable. Remember your goals and direction and then decide if enduring discomfort is necessary or worth it for what you desire.

Don’t demand yourself be perfect

We can all be perfectionists. We all want to do the best and be the best. But what if for just one day it was ok to be yourself, exactly as you are and that was perfectly perfect enough? Sometimes when we’re on the brink of frustration it’s because we’re demanding too much of ourselves or expecting too much. Consider how you would treat your best friend in the same situation. Treat yourself accordingly. What you’ll eventually notice is that being hard on yourself won’t change the outcome.

Intentionally practise patience

Deliberately put yourself in situations time and time again where your patience is constantly being tested. For example you may:

  • Choose to stand in the longest line
  • Drive behind a slow driver when you’re in a rush
  • Take the longer route to get somewhere
  • Make yourself wait longer
  • Deliberately miss a deadline

Laugh at the problem

Laughing at anything is great at reducing stress. If you’re irritable and you laugh, you will instantly feel calmer about the situation and be able to feel more patient in your situation. When I can’t find the funny side in a situation, I have a lot of friends who will find it for me! If you’re having difficulty, talk to a friend and tell them their job is to find the funny side in your story. See how you feel once they find it and you’re both laughing.

Remind yourself what’s important to you

Is it really important that you achieve that goal exactly on time? What happens if you don’t? What is it about that particular thing that is frustrating you? How does it honestly affect you? Really think about it before you wind yourself up too badly over something. Sometimes simply reminding yourself what’s important to you is enough to practise patience.

In becoming more patient and practising patience you will reduce your stress levels, feel happier, make better decisions, be more empathetic and compassionate to others, and be better able to understand the process associated with growth.

How do you practise patience?

Letting go – the easy way

Butterfly-letting-go

How does one become a butterfly? You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar. Trina Paulus

Look around you. Right now. What do you have in your life that’s important to you?

Now imagine that gone. Completely.

Generally even the thought of losing whatever it is makes us feel sad, overwhelmed or possibly even angry.

`While going throughout the journey in life, you’ll eventually come across a point where you need to let go. It may be letting go of a person in your life, it may be letting go of negative thoughts and feelings, it may be letting go of material things. Letting go is the steepest learning curve in attachment. This week Happiness Weekly looks at how you can let go the easy way!

 

Acceptance

Part of letting go is acceptance – acceptance that it is gone, acceptance of your feelings and acceptance of the feelings other people have around you about whatever is gone. For example let’s say we lose someone close to us through a relationship break up or death – there’s not a lot we can do about it, it is what it is – but we will have feelings about it and the people around us will have feelings about it. If we can accept what has happened quickly, then what other people think will bounce off us rather than consume us.

 

Self-validation

I’ve been talking about this a lot lately because it’s true – a lot of the time we look for external validation – but why? We live our lives! Stuff what other people think: What do you think? How do you feel? That’s what matters. Check in with your self and make your internal or self-validation a priority in your life.

 

Be conscious of attachment

If you know you are attached to something (dependent children are different) – let’s say we’re talking about a house, a spouse, a sports car or a romantic partner, start distancing yourself emotionally from whatever it is you are attached to. Practise thinking about letting go of it in the most positive way you can. This is key in recovering quickly if you are to lose it. Even if you just practise it as a passing thought rather than doing a deep meditation over it – if you are to lose it, your mind is prepared and your subconscious will return you with “Oh yeah, you prepared for this – remember when you were thinking this would happen and this is what you thought…” Don’t panic, it’s not the Law of Attraction, it’s preparing for what may eventually happen.

 

Challenge your limiting beliefs

If you were to lose whatever it is you’re attached to, what would it stop you from doing? What is it about that thing that you are so afraid of losing it? How does this thing make you a better person now than what you could be without it? If you lost whatever it is you’re attached to, what would it stop you from being? You’ll find when you start challenging your limiting beliefs about the thing you’re attached to, that you’re able to create distance from it. In fact, you may even discover the thing you’re attached to is holding you back.

 

Believe in yourself

When you believe in yourself, you know exactly what to do. The only way you can believe in yourself is to know who you are. Spend some time on your own exercising your self trust, self acceptance and self love, and learning about yourself and the things you love. Once you know all these things, you’ll be able to believe in yourself, your confidence will grow and you will be ready to face whatever challenge comes your way.

 

Break it down

Take it one day at a time, one step at a time, one moment at a time. You don’t need to let go all at once. But if you use each day to detach piece by piece, you’ll feel stronger because every time we let go of something, we give more energy and power to ourselves. If you are strong enough to let it all go at once, then more power to you – letting go quickly enables you to start your healing journey faster whereas letting go gradually can sometimes just prolong the pain.

 

Let it go

If it comes time that you need to put this into practise: give yourself permission to let it go. Consider other positive stories where people have been in your exact situation (or something very similar) and as a result, have gone on to achieve much bigger and better things. Focus on what you do have, not what you don’t have. Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t do. Read positive affirmations and encourage yourself to let the situation strengthen you. Allow it to make you better not bitter. And remember: When you’re going through hell, just keep going – keep going and going until you’re so far removed from that hell that before you know it, you’re floating with angels again. Remember: nothing can hurt us forever.

 

Finally, if you really want a lesson in letting go, try packing your entire life in a small suitcase and moving overseas to a completely different country … indefinitely. What’s stopping you? Remove the blocks and excuses – and go for it – it will be one of the most empowering things you ever do.

 

let-go

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How to get angry and seek healthy revenge

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Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned. Buddha.

You probably think I’ve lost it – the chief blogger of Happiness Weekly who prides herself on spreading peace and happiness worldwide is writing about getting angry and seeking revenge? What good could come out of embracing an emotion such as anger and responding out of revenge? And I’m not only talking about getting angry but actively seeking revenge?

Yup … I’m crazy. Or am I?

Holding anger in, or suppressing it – which is basically the same – can be unhealthier and even more detrimental to your long-term health, than to actually get angry and respond. Suppressed anger leads to premature death (ie. by 50 years old), long-term depression, increased risk of heart disease, cancer, accidents and suicide.

Not a lot of us have been taught how to get angry. In fact from a young age it’s an emotion that is often to be neither seen nor heard – in my social circle I’ve found that particularly being female impacts this as you’re almost expected not to get angry. Unfortunately when we swallow anger, we also swallow other emotions along with it – such as fear.

I’m often told of people doing the wrong things by each other. It’s happened to me, it’s happened to my friends, it’s happened to colleagues and I’m almost certain at some stage in your life it would have happened to you. In fact, maybe you’re even the person who does the wrong thing sometimes out of anger. That can happen – we’re all human and sometimes we make mistakes – so long as no one gets hurt. So I’m excited about this week’s blog post because this week Happiness Weekly looks at how you can get angry and seek healthy revenge.

 

Embracing anger

Have you felt that overwhelming sense of anxiety, where you have so many emotions as a result of someone hurting you that you actually don’t know what to do so you’re trembling in silence and almost suffocating in agony? All you seem to be able to feel is sheer frustration combined with immense pain? You may have also felt fear.

Anger, when we don’t know how to deal with it properly, will often manifest as other emotions. When our anger finally does explode, we will generally overreact to something impulsively, irrationally and also may not have as much control as we would if we’d dealt with our anger at the time we felt angry. By dealing with our anger at the time, rather than keeping it suppressed, we can continue living a harmonious life. This doesn’t mean you can punch people out when they do the wrong thing by you, although it may be tempting, so today we’re going to look at the healthy ways you can express your anger.

First, it’s important to acknowledge the upside to anger according to Dr Gary J. Oliver, “One of the many potentially positive aspects of anger is that it can serve as a very powerful and effective warning system. Healthy anger can help us identify problems and needs and provide us with the energy to do something about them.”

 

How to express your anger in a healthy way

As I said, it’s best not to go knocking people out every time they wrong you – but it’s almost important to allow yourself to have your feelings and ensure you feel validated in feeling the way you do.

When I first considered the concept of getting angry in a healthy way, it was such a foreign concept to me that I kind of laughed. “I don’t even get angry! I just cry!” It was brought to my attention that those tears were caused by years and years of swallowed and suppressed anger. I had actually had a lot of anger bubbling under the surface but I didn’t know how to let it out so I’d never released it.

One concept I had grasped correctly about anger is that anger is an emotion, not an action. This means you need to express it and in expressing it, you need to figure out a healthy way of doing it – such as seeking “healthy revenge”.

Recognising that you’re angry and dealing with it appropriately won’t hurt you or anyone else. As Dr Gary J. Oliver pointed out, anger can carry messages that act as warnings to us – when we swallow our anger for a long time these loud warning bells start getting dimmed and we start overlooking them and accepting circumstances we don’t like, which links back into my article about cognitive dissonance.

 

How to express your anger in an acceptable way

There’s no right or wrong rule of thumb here, but let’s set some ground rules and boundaries around this to ensure we’re safe and the people around us are safe as well.

–          No one (you or others) should get hurt as a result of your expression of angry (this includes hurting their wellbeing or negatively affecting their life)

–          There should be no consequences from your actions and if there are, you need to accept the punishment

–          Part of knowing how to get angry properly is knowing how to fight fair – if you get angry and then don’t fight fair then you never actually won that fight, whether you feel better about the outcome or not.

Anger Management classes will obviously identify and establish healthy responses to anger. This doesn’t necessarily mean you’re passive aggressive (as the movie may suggest) or that you have issues in over-expressing your anger. A few tips for expressing your anger in an acceptable way may include:

–          Assertive communication or waiting until the anger has died down and then communicating

–          Acknowledge that you feel angry and validate yourself

–          Go for a run and really pound your feet against the pavement

–          Smash a pillow onto your bed

–          Healthy revenge – which I’m going to tell you more about now.

 

How to seek healthy revenge

The first thing you need to do is cut the fantasy. Yup, you have to stop fantasising over writing rude words in your neighbour’s lawn with weed killer because their loud partying kept you awake til 3am last night. Stop thinking about slashing your ex’s tires because they cheated on you. Stop thinking about picking up your ex-girlfriend’s sleazy best friend to get back at her. Can you see how these fantasies only make one person look bad at the end of the day? Carry it out and I guarantee the only person who will feel bad will be you. Although I’m sure each fantasy may enable you to express your anger, none of them do anyone any good. In fact, these thoughts waste energy, people’s time and money at the end of the day. Although it may make you feel validated at the time and as though you “won”, none of these things will lead to a positive conclusion. So, instead of bothering with any of that, we’re going to concentrate on how you can really get your anger out and win. The best way to do this is to act for the greater good.

OK, now you’ve quit wasting your time on fantasising and let’s work out how you can actually deal with this anger in a healthy way and then how you can seek healthy revenge.

 

How do you seek revenge in a healthy way?

Warning: DO NOT SEEK REVENGE WHILE YOU’RE STILL ANGRY! If you’re still angry, keep on with the first part of this blog or see a professional psychologist about how you can deal with your anger. Anger is the strongest emotion that can manipulate our responses, causing us to act irrationally.

Now that you’ve dealt with your anger and released it in a healthy way, you’re in a better position to seek revenge. That’s what the first part of this blog was all about, getting in the best possible position you can so that you can use your anger to seek healthy revenge. OK – we’re going to do is something quite radical now…

Instead of seeking revenge on the people who did us wrong, we’re going to look at how we can use this incident to help other people. So literally we’re taking the pain from the situation and we’re going to turn it into power. This is what I’ve been referring to as healthy revenge. This is the only actual revenge that shows you as a positive and balanced individual that is striving for success rather than hurting others as a result of the pain you are feeling. Your response by taking action this way will speak louder, encourage powerful outcomes and create a positive difference – people can see that you got angry in order to take that action but they, and you, will be grateful for the outcome. A really good example of this is Tom Meagher from Melbourne, who contacted the parole board to change their system in order to enable our justice system to protect other women so they don’t get hurt like his wife did. The value that he has added to our world by using his anger to seek positive revenge is incredible.

 

Well that sounds great! But how do we know what action to take?

This is similar to how you were fantasising about plotting revenge, but instead of listing negative scenarios, we’re listing positive scenarios that will assist you in moving forward from the event that hurt you and left you angry.

The best, most dignified way to get angry about something that happened to you, is to make something positive from it. It’s just up to you to come up with what action that may be.

Here are a few steps you could take in order to take healthy revenge:

Step one: Give yourself permission to go on a healthy revenge mission. A big part of this will include forgiving yourself for any part in what happened

Step two: Consider the most positive thing you can do with your anger – for example, I started supporting a domestic violence charity that shuns violence against women after my experience with narcissistic abuse. This action was just one step in seeking healthy revenge, but it was certainly the most empowering response I could’ve had to the situation.

Step three: Get creative. If you’re really angry, spread it out and get creative about it. Contact politicians, start your own business based on the event that affected you, write the story and educate as many people about what happened to you as possible (imagine if it went global and you saved thousands of people from going through the same thing), hit the gym and workout to be strong enough to defend yourself in case it happens to you again … the list goes on.

Events are just events until we add perspective to them. Anger is the one emotion that leaves us feeling completely powerless – unless we do something positive with it. Even negative revenge is a temporary fix. Don’t let your anger beat you.

 

Recommended articles

Anger management techniques

Finding opportunities in challenges

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Difficulties mastered are opportunities won. Winston Churchill

The way we process things all comes down to our perspective on the events that have occurred and the lessons we take with us to grow and help others. The greater the challenge, the more we learn from it and the more opportunities appear right on our doorstep. This week Happiness Weekly looks at how you can find opportunities and lessons in challenging times.

This blog was inspired by a recent trip to the airport. One thing after another kept “going wrong” for me, but instead of getting frustrated by each event, I laughed hysterically at myself. When things like this happen, you have a choice – you can either laugh at it as an outsider would, or get uptight and stressed about it. Life’s short – choose wisely.

After much debate I decided to wear high-heeled boots and look attractive, rather than be practical and wear flats because I hadn’t seen the friend I was visiting for some time. I had a large suitcase, my laptop bag and a large handbag and I struggled with all three as I caught a bus and then a train to the airport – all the while, chatting to a beautiful soul on Facebook, who happens to be a pilot and was keeping me calm about my impending flight.

When I got to the airport I went straight to the automatic check-in point. There were about seven options on how you could check in including scanning a barcode, typing in the reference number, typing in your name etc. Having some time on my hands, I decided to scan the barcode. About ten minutes later (I’m pretty persistent at times!), I stopped attempting to unsuccessfully scan the barcode and typed in my name – which took approximately sixty seconds. The rest of the process took approximately two minutes to complete and I was all checked in.

The lesson I learned in this was that sometimes it really is just easier just to do things the simple way than to attempt to do things because of novelty.

I then start struggling over to the baggage check-in point – on my way stopping to ask an attendant if I would be able to take my fold up umbrella aboard in my carry-on luggage. For those looking to fly domestically in Australia – the answer to this was yes.

I got to the conveyor belt that takes your baggage into the abyss until you hope to see it again at your destination. I placed my bag on the conveyor belt, standing up on its wheels, where it got weighed. What I was convinced weighed a couple of tonne, weighed 15kg. (For a five-night stay interstate, I’ll admit – I probably over-packed a little.) At this point I had my laptop bag on my back, my large handbag over my arm and was clutching onto the boarding pass and receipt for the boarding pass along with the sticker to put on my bag (also known as the luggage sticker). “Goody! I’ve always wanted to do this!” I thought to myself, as I envisaged the lady at the counter doing it for me last time – so seamlessly, so professionally, it probably took about two seconds in total to take the sticker off and wrap it around the handle and off went the bag.

Now it was my turn.

So I removed the sticker. Half of it peeled off seamlessly, just as the checkout lady had done at my previous visit to the airport. It was just as I’d imagined – I could almost have gone for a job at the checkout, I thought to myself. But then: disaster. The other half of the sticker just didn’t go so seamlessly. In fact, it started to tare and as I instinctively tried to use my other hand to separate it – my boarding pass and receipt both got stuck to the sticker. Concentrating, I carefully peeled my boarding pass away – it tore slightly but not too bad … the receipt wasn’t so lucky on the other hand – it tore in half.

So the lesson I learned here was this: when trying to stick the sticker on your bag at the airport, keep your boarding pass and receipt completely clear of the sticker. In fact – put them in your handbag or pocket if you have one. Oh – and just because you visualise something doesn’t mean it’s going to pan out that well for you – make sure you’re adaptable and creative enough to adjust to whatever may happen next!

My next challenge was trying to place the bag down on the conveyor belt. It was a wheelie bag, so I thought if I just tipped it then it would fall flat – but for some reason it didn’t work that way. I ended up rolling my bag up and down the small section of conveyor belt about five times before I physically had to pick the bag up, lie it flat and place it back on the conveyor belt. I watched my bag disappear on the conveyor belt to join other travelling bags. The lesson I learned here was sometimes persistence doesn’t pay!

Next was walking through the scan machines. I carefully placed my handbag, my belt and my backpack into the trays provided and watched them go through the machine. I walked through and all was clear. I then took my bags and started tying my belt back around me. I then received a random request to be scanned for explosives. I agreed. I learned if you wait around for too long, people will take advantage of you – sometimes it’s best not to loiter, take your belt with you and put it on elsewhere!

After that I marched off to the travelator which has been my favourite thing about airports since I was young. I learned that things we enjoyed as children, we may also find enjoyable as adults – even if we’re using it properly (unlike when we were children and would use them as a treadmill). I made sure I walked it on the way home too – just to please my inner child and bring back a few memories to bring a smile to my face.

As you can see, there are lessons in every little thing we do and as long as we learn through our times of despair – as much as we may feel the loser at the time, we come out the winner. It is our perception of the events that happen to us that frames the event. Life events are just events until we frame them – and our perception of these events is based on our beliefs, values and past experiences. For example, laughing at the chaos in my case helped me to view the circumstances in a positive frame of mind.

The ability to learn from things is up to us – for example, if I allowed each of these events to frustrate me perhaps I would have repeated all the same things on the flight home because I wouldn’t have been so receptive to learning from what happened.

When things appear to be mounting against you, have a think about this quote: “Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, she became a butterfly”. Many people will interpret this in different ways. What does this mean to you? Check out some of these powerful interpretations.

Finding opportunities in challenges is like looking at life like an optical illusion – sometimes they can be two-faced and the opportunity is up to us as to how we interpret it. Have a look at these optical illusions and see what you find – I’ll put answers below. You should be able to see two images in each image below – what do you see?

 

A

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B

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C

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D

Rose

E

Optical-Illusion

F

duckrabbit

 

Optical Illusion Answers:

A Beautiful woman looking away/Old woman looking to the left

B Old couple looking at each other/Two people in sombreros – one playing a ukulele

C Old man/Person on a white horse

D Rose/Two cherubs kissing

E A man with a moustache looking to the left/A boy with sheep near a village

F Duck/Rabbit

 

Thank you for reading and have a fantastic day!

One step to achieving positive change in your life

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You don’t drown by falling in the water. You drown by staying there. Edwin Louis Cole

Last year my life didn’t move. It was like I was frozen in time. Nothing changed. At all.

I didn’t learn anything (other than what I researched for my blog), I didn’t do anything new or exciting (because I was so busy trying to facilitate that for others) and my life just stayed exactly the same. I couldn’t help but compare it to the year before when everything changed all at once: new job, new home, new relationship.

It was frustrating for me because I am usually good at initiating change in my life, but I couldn’t find what was anchoring me down. I was stuck. My self-esteem was at an all-time low. I couldn’t make anything happen and just as I was on the verge of making something happen, I’d back down.

I stopped believing in myself.

Yet here’s the thing: in this year of nothingness I wanted change and almost expected it to happen without me even trying.

It wasn’t long before I developed something that I call “I’ll believe it when I see it depression” – unless something happened to demonstrate change was imminent, I didn’t believe anything would change, so I wasn’t going to bother trying. I remained completely unmotivated.

Fortunately, once I cut myself from the anchor, and started working on myself, I was able to turn things around. I started by taking a big step and left that relationship I’d gotten into – over time I have found the bigger the step you take, the greater the change. Not surprisingly, this year is completely different. My confidence is restored, I feel as though I’m in control again and I love life!

This week Happiness Weekly looks at how you can overcome this “I’ll believe it when I see it depression” and make positive change happen in just one simple step.

I heard a fantastic quote the other day that I wanted to share with you:

“If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, the road to heaven (happiness) is created by good actions. To take action, just do it. Do it now!”

The rule of thumb here is: in order to get out this “I’ll believe it when I see it depression”, we need to take action to encourage positive change and keep taking steps until we reach our goal. In other words, we’re turning things around to enables us to see it before we believe it! How do we do that?

1. Stop what you’re doing

Stop what you’re doing and be mindful of any rituals you’re currently following. Think about where your values are and whether your priorities align with them. What is most important to you – and why? Are you following through with these things or have you forgotten about yourself? How are these rituals you are following serving you?

2. Discover what’s holding you back

Realistically assess what you’re spending your time on – is this holding you back? It didn’t take me long to realise what I was spending my time on was doing nothing for me, and when really honest with myself, I acknowledged it was depleting my self-esteem – and it was my fault! I was spending 95% of my energy on a relationship with a narcissist – my anchor – and I was choosing to remain in it even though friends and family disapproved, it didn’t align with my values (despite his best attempts to cover it up – it was an affair), and it wasn’t doing anything positive for me at all. Once acknowledging this, I could concentrate on the steps I needed to take in order to get out of there.

3. Do what’s in your control

If you can make change happen, within your control, do it! Generally if you have “I’ll believe it when I see it depression” you would have been procrastinating for quite some time… so you know what changes you want to make but you never quite got there. Today is the day you give yourself permission to make change within your control happen. If you’ve been looking at renting a property, if you’ve been thinking about studying, if you’re looking at jobs but not applying… STOP HOLDING YOURSELF BACK! Make it happen!

4. Don’t be scared of eliminating blocks

This is a big one – sometimes taking steps to remove our blocks is exactly what is holding us back from making positive changes to our life. What if it means the difference between being with your partner and being on your own? It sounds scary. OK, go into your imagination for a moment – and fast forward time by 10 years, imagine your life once you have removed the block and the positive change has happened as result. What do you look like? How are you behaving? What’s changed around you? Now weigh up if you want that anchor tying you down, or not.

5. Empower yourself

We all have a lot more control than we think we do in any given situation – don’t wait for someone to save you, save yourself! Empower yourself. Depend on yourself to make the right decision. Trust yourself. Love yourself enough to let go of something that’s hindering your happiness. The key to making positive change happen is setting goals to help you out of your situation. Define a goal as positively as you can and then write down what steps you need to take to get there. Then choose just one of those steps and action is today! Some people take little steps, others – like me – like to start with the toughest step to get the biggest impact and make the most dramatic change. There’s no right or wrong. Once you have actioned that one step, you are one step closer to achieving positive change in your life.

Remember this in trying to move forward, no matter how scary that first step appears to be:

If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place. Nora Roberts.

Why strangers make us happy and how to repay them

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Unexpected kindness is the most powerful, least costly, and most underrated agent of human change. Bob Kerrey (1943)

The kindness of strangers has the power to improve our wellbeing and increase our feelings of happiness more than our normal friendship circle. How do I figure this? Imagine you have been hurt or let down by someone you trusted and thought you knew. You’re just looking to vent and for someone to listen to your story.

First you talk to a friend, they listen, and offer you their opinion and give advice in an attempt to try to lift you back up. You can sense their empathy and genuine care in their response which makes you feel somewhat better and your day continues as normal.

Now imagine the same scenario, but this time you’re talking to a complete stranger. You tell them your story and they listen. They then respond in a way that shows they identify or can relate to your situation, they offer you their opinion based on what they have heard and understood, and advise you accordingly. All of a sudden you feel less alone and your faith in humanity is restored and it’s like the sun has started shining through a grey sky – your day almost feels better, more fulfilled, than when you spoke to your friend. The happiness you feel as a result of the correspondence with the stranger barely compares to how you felt after communicating with your friend about the same issue.

This week Happinesss Weekly looks at why strangers can have a greater impact on your happiness than your friends.

 

Why strangers do it better

There are several reasons why strangers have the power to make us feel happier than our usual circle of friends – this could be why internet dating is becoming more popular and a more acceptable way of meeting someone and finding love. Here are some of the reasons why strangers can appeal to us more than our friends:

 

- Our expectations

The fact is we expect our friends to care about our wellbeing and therefore subconsciously depend on them to listen to us, side with us and support us unconditionally through all turbulence. It’s a part of friendship that almost all of us take for granted.

In the case of a complete stranger, we have no expectations. When a stranger is entirely removed from a situation and shows us kindness, we appreciate the time they take to actively listen to our story more than when our friends show us the same courtesy. Then if the stranger passes judgement that validates our feelings or actions, we start to feel better understood and less alone.

Although a stranger may have responded the same way as our friends, they exceed our expectations because we didn’t have any to begin with.

 

- The “stranger danger” belief

Strangers may also have an advantage over our friends because as children we were made acutely aware of “stranger danger”. These messages shaped our beliefs that strangers are a threat and potential danger.

Even now, despite statistics showing that someone we know who is a greater threat to us than a stranger, the media often highlight stories that demonstrate the opposite. When a stranger offers us kindness, our receptors instantly flick on warning us to be wary and we begin to question their motives and what could be in it for us.

It is when the kindness of a stranger is proven to be genuine and consequence-free, despite what we were programmed to understand, we often find ourselves pleasantly surprised.

As adults, neglecting or rejecting the kindness of strangers can force us to be confined and limited, so if we challenge this “stranger danger” belief, it enables us to work together to make a positive difference in each other’s lives.

 

- The selfish world we live in

Society often finds people first looking for the “what’s in it for me” before taking action in any situation. We all do it, whether it’s because we’re all time-poor in this fast-paced world or we’re simply becoming more selfish by the generation.

You may even notice that marketing campaigns are starting to lean towards commercial bribery as they become more aware that if they can’t convince the consumers that there’s something in it for them, it’s nearly impossible to motivate anyone to take action, let alone convince people to try a new product.

We are starting to value time more than ever before which is why when a stranger takes a moment to act selflessly towards us it leaves us feeling good because they have given up time to be thoughtful.

 

- About the kindness movement

This theory that strangers can have a greater impact on us than our friends isn’t new. Catherine Ryan Hyde’s novel Pay It Forward published in 2000, which was adapted into the film starring Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt and Haley Joel Osment in the same year, may have inspired the movement that encourages random acts of kindness towards strangers.

Whenever it began, adults are now being actively encouraged to be more mindful of each other and to demonstrate random acts of kindness where they can. The stigma associated with strangers being dangerous is deteriorating as more people embrace the “Pay it Forward” movement.

 

How you can make a positive difference to a stranger

The purpose of the following activities is to do something nice for someone without expecting anything in return – It doesn’t have to be expensive and there’s no need to go above and beyond when you choose to demonstrate a random act of kindness for a stranger.

– Buy someone’s coffee in the coffee shop

– Help a student with their tuition

– Teach someone something new

– Volunteer for a charity

– Let someone in front of you in the grocery store line

– Hand-write a letter to someone telling them how important they are to you

– Speak up for someone – sign a petition, write a letter, be a referee for a job

– Work pro bono where your skills are needed

– Compliment a stranger

– Give up your seat when taking crowded public transport

– Listen to someone without interruption

– Greet someone in the elevator

– Hold the door open for someone

– Explain the Pay it Forward concept to someone

– Take part in Pay it Forward Day on 22 April. Find more information here.

 

For more ideas on how you can show kindness to others, follow the free Thrive Happiness Challenge application.

How to make yourself happy

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Happiness depends upon ourselves. Aristotle

Knowing how to make yourself happy is one of the most empowering things we can do. Life is constantly changing and everything is unpredictable, which means the only person we can fully depend on is ourselves. If we’re going to spend a lot of time by ourselves, it’s a good idea to know how to make ourselves happy!

I caught up with a colleague the other day and we spoke about the little things people had been doing lately that made us feel special. We could literally narrow it down to: receiving an email first thing in the morning, tapping on the glass to say hello as someone walked by, a guy calling me “mate” when he said hello and getting a thumbs-up signal.

We stopped and looked at each other in horrified realisation:

“How in the hell did such small things come to make us feel so special?”

There are various reasons for this and I’ll touch on it more in my blog next week about acceptance but this week, the goal is to get ourselves to the point where we truly know ourselves, trust ourselves and are full of so much self-respect that no one can shake us from our path. Get set to get completely independent – and in the process learn two things: what makes us feel special and what makes us happy. This week Happiness Weekly looks at how you can make yourself happy.

So let’s get this mission started!

Everyone is going to be different in finding their path to a happier and more fulfilling life because everyone’s journey is different. We all have different values and beliefs. Thought Catalog has some great ideas about little things you can do to make yourself happier instantly – but here are some ideas for how to make yourself happier longer-term and live your best life in a more fulfilling way:

 

1. Date yourself

Yes – that is exactly as it sounds. Take yourself to the movies. Go to that new coffee shop you want to check out. Walk along the beach alone. Go to a concert. Visit the zoo. Head to a festival. Literally learn how to be on your own and comfortable with yourself in public situations. Once you’ve learned how to date yourself, set up a date with yourself one weekend each month to catch up with yourself regularly and help stay on top of everything. This will ensure you remember what you like and don’t like and that you are leading a fulfilling life.

 

2. Appreciate nature

Be conscious of the natural things surrounding you that make you happy. Things that have nothing to do with any other being. Some hints: watching the waves at the beach, the sunrise each morning, the sunset each evening, the rolling hills in the distance, admiring the flowers in a garden on the way to work, the smell after rain falls, the way the shadows fall as the sun passes by each day etc.

 

3. Choose friends wisely

Select your friends wisely. Surround yourself with positive, successful people and leave the losers for someone else. It sounds harsh, but that’s how it needs to be. Only spend your time with people who are on your level or who can lift you up – if they can’t, really question why you want that person in your life and if you need them there. Make sure your expectations of yourself are realistic – you don’t want to think you’re so good, no one is good enough and at the same time you don’t want to think so little of yourself that the losers get to stay. Your friends should share your belief system.

 

4. Trust yourself

Learning to trust yourself is essential in finding your happiness long-term. If you can’t trust yourself, you’re never going to stay on the path you want to be on and others will more easily be able to knock you off balance. Once you trust yourself you can start trusting each and every decision you make to lead you to where you want to go. Part of learning to trust yourself could stem from being fair to yourself and to demonstrate what I mean here, I want to refer you to Paul Hudson from Elite Daily’s article: 20 Things you need to stop doing to yourself.

 

5. Ditch anything toxic

Anything that makes you doubt or question yourself, anything that makes you feel less than what you are, anything that hurts you is toxic – let it go. Be as cold as you need to be when breaking away from everything toxic in your life. Nothing toxic will ever serve you – unless it hurts you enough to teach you a massive lesson.

 

6. Believe you’re good enough

Self-belief is essential in making yourself happy long term. If you don’t believe in yourself, how is anyone else meant to? Concentrate on tapping into what you think of yourself and if it’s not a positive image, challenge it – why aren’t you as good if not better than anyone else? You may need to work with a psychologist if you find you’re having difficulty with your self-perception.

 

7. Learn your values

Stop looking externally for approval, look to yourself – ask yourself what you think, ask yourself for advice, find out what your values are. Write down what your values are and the things that you value above everything else. Then say why you value it. If you’re not on the list, ask yourself why not – add yourself to the list and consider why it’s important you should be there.

 

8. Make plans for the future

Stop waiting for other people to make plans, make your own plans for the future and get started – but make sure you select things you can do all on your own. If you want to go overseas, book that holiday. If you want to start a course, there’s no better time. If you want to learn a musical instrument or take up a sport – go for it! Challenge yourself and start today – nothing is too big or too small when it comes to planning your future.

 

9. Try to accomplish something you think is impossible

We may feel like a tiny spec in the grand scheme of things but you never know when your idea or your action can make a difference not just to one or two lives but a greater impact on many lives. Don’t be afraid to follow your dreams. Attempt to achieve the impossible – you might surprise yourself and if you don’t make it, you may start a whole new revolution or learn a whole lot of new and exciting things along the way!

If you still feel alone in this quest for making yourself happy, I recommend two books that helped me in changing and shaping my journey: God on a Harley by Joan Brady and Marry Yourself First by Ken Donaldson and The End – a blog post written by Coco J Ginger.

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