CREATE YOUR BEST SELF
A How To Guide
I’ve noticed a trend emerging in the community. People are getting restless. People aren’t willing to just put up with the status quo. People want more. People want to bemore. No doubt people have always wanted to be more, but we’re in a unique situation now. For the first time ever, we are able to be more, so much more than we’ve ever been before.
“For the first time ever, we are able to be more, so much more than we’ve ever been before.”
The Information Age combined with the emergent Science behind the body-mind connection and the breakdown of social barriers provides the perfect platform for you to be whoever you want to be. Whether you want to know thyself, love thyself or overcome past traumas, you can. Perhaps you want to increase your self-confidence, manage your fear, anxiety or anger in a more productive way, you can. Maybe you just want to let go and forgive, well now you can. Are you seeking connection and relationship in a world that seems to have lost its communities? And what about your life goals? No longer is “no, I can’t do that” an option, because these days, almost anything is possible. And what if you don’t know what you want? There’s a solution for that to!
We’re living in exciting times. People are following their passions and living very fulfilled lives, and community is being slowly re-discovered. You too can transcend the ordinary, free yourself of what holds you back and become the person you know you were born to be.
“People are following their passions and living very fulfilled lives, and community is being slowly re-discovered.”
WHO AM I? UNDERSTANDING YOURSELF
HOW CAN I UNDERSTAND MYSELF BETTER?
The key to achieving any of these above-mentioned goals is in understanding yourself. After all, how do you let go of anger if you don’t know where it stems from? How will you find your passion if you don’t know what really juices you? How do you manage your fears and anxieties without recognising the triggers?
What is it to know and understand yourself? You are an accumulation not only of your experiences, but of how you respond to those experiences. And your response, which is your ultimate experience, is determined by your identity, your values and your beliefs.
Your identityis your beliefs about yourself, your place in the world and what you’re capable of. Beliefs, essentially, are our best guesses at how reality actually is. Not only do they include the physical world, but also reality as far as relationships go, about what is possible and within our abilities. Theyare those things about life that we assume to be true and right. They are not set in stone and we can choose to believe in whatever we want to. Valuesare the emotional experiences that you want to have on a regular basis, such as love, joy, fun, happiness, adventure, kindness and so on.
Best friends go on a three-month trip through Central America. Compared to home, it’s a much busier place, it’s noisier. Their lifestyle is different to back home, eating later, sleeping in. The climate is harsher. The people are friendlier and more relaxed. After a few weeks, it becomes evident that Tina’s having the time of her life and wants to stay longer, but Maggie’s having an awful time and just wants to go home. Tension grows between the girls and they have a huge misunderstanding. They’re having the same physical experience but are ultimately having two very different experiences. How does this happen? And what can they do to re-connect? This may sound like a “relationship with others” conundrum but I just want to use the girls as a contrast and then make the point that with a sound understanding of yourself, your chances of working through issues with others is greater.
If we take a look at the following points, it becomes clear as to why things turned out the way they did (this is a simplified model, no doubt there was a lot more going on):
Tina’s identity, values and beliefs were closely aligned to that of the culture they were visiting, whereas Maggie’s were challenged.
If the girls were aware of these factors, a few things could have happened. Tina may have had more compassion for the overwhelming experience Maggie was having. Maggie may have been able to explain to Tina what was going on for her and then been able to implement some strategies to deal with the anxieties that surfaced for her and therefore found a way to enjoy her experience.
The other really important point to note here is that past experiences and the meanings we give them affects our future experiences, both in the experiences we choose to seek and the way in which we interpret them. Therefore, by understanding our identity, values and beliefs we are better equipped to choose experiences that are congruent with who we are and what we want.
These three factors are the cornerstones of who we are, and over time we will explore in more detail the factors that affect identity, values and beliefs. Things like Love Languages, Core Needs and Behavioural Orientation.
“By understanding our identity, values and beliefs we are better equipped to choose experiences that are congruent with who we are and what we want.”
In the meantime, finish these sentences to get a clearer understanding of yourself:
1. Identity – “I am….”
2. Values – “The emotions that I wish to experience on a regular basis are…”
3. Beliefs – “I can experience (insert value) by doing…”
Make sure your identity, values and beliefs are congruent. For example, if you identified yourself as a party animal and one of your values is health and wellbeing, you may need to reconsider one of these responses. Remember, who you are is fluid, if you want to change an aspect of yourself that no longer suits you, do it. Nothing is set in stone. You have the freedom to be whoever you want to be.
WHAT ARE MY GOALS IN LIFE?
Once you have a better idea of your identity, values and beliefs, what your goals are in life becomes much clearer. When people think about goals they usually ask something like “do I want to own a house?”, “do I want that particular job?” And they can have trouble figuring out what it is they actually want. About 97% of our brain function in unconscious and emotion is the language of the unconscious.
“About 97% of our brain function in unconscious and emotion is the language of the unconscious.”
So, if you ask yourself instead questions like “what emotions do I want to experience in my life?” or “what sort of person do I want to be?” and then find experiences that will enable the responses, then you’ve found your goals.
HOW DO I FIND MY PERSONAL PASSION? AND HOW DO I KNOW IF I’M PASSIONATE ABOUT SOMETHING?
If you feel as though you’re just dog paddling in life, going nowhere fast and without much style it might be time to find your passion. Sometimes it’s hard to see because it’s such a huge part of who you are it might actually be too obvious. Usually we have a few ideas kicking around in the back of our minds, waiting to be brought to the surface. Here’s a few questions that might ignite something in you and narrow down the options.
· What do I really enjoy doing?
· What do other people tell me I’m good at?
· What was I always drawn to as a child?
· What sort of books can I read easily and effortlessly without getting bored?
· If money weren’t an issue, what would I choose to spend my time doing?
· Is there a message I have to share with the world?
· Is there a skill I have that needs exercising?
· What do I hate doing?
· Who do I admire for what they do?
What might also help is meditating on it. Just sit in a quiet place, clear your mind and ask it for answers. You may have to practise this a few times to get a clear message but if you’re asking yourself these questions, your meditations may give your mind a chance to respond.
HOW CAN I MAKE MORE TIME FOR MYSELF? AND HOW CAN I MANAGE MY TIME BETTER?
Once you have a clearer idea of what your goals and passions are, time management becomes a lot easier. The only question you really have to ask is this: “is what I’m doing right now contributing to the outcome of my goal?” If the answer is no, drop it. Of course, there’s still those times when everything we’re doing is contributing to the goal but still there doesn’t seem to be enough time. The following categories will assist you in prioritising your tasks. Important tasks are the activities that lead to achieving your goals and have the greatest impact on your life and Urgent tasks are activities that demand immediate attention but are often associated with someone else’s goals rather than our own. Therefore:
· Urgent and Important: Activities in this area relate to dealing with critical issues as they rise and meeting significant commitments. Perform these duties now.
· Important, but not Urgent: These success-oriented tasks are critical to achieving goals. Plan to do these tasks next.
· Urgent, but not Important: These chores do not move you forward towards your own goals. Manage them by delaying them, cutting them short, and rejecting requests from others. Postpone these chores.
· Not Urgent and not Important: These trivial interruptions are just a distraction and should be avoided if possible. Avoid these distractions altogether.
The goal is to work mainly from the Important but not urgent category. Always remember how important time for yourself is. No matter how you choose to spend it, time for yourself is doing those things that allow you to rest, restore, reinvigorate, re-energise and re-inspire you. This will undoubtedly enable you to be more creative, less stressed, more clear-minded and allow you to work more efficiently and effectively.
HOW CAN I REDISCOVER MY LIFE AFTER CHILDREN?
I had nearly 7 years away from paid work when I had my three children. Despite the constant reading, writing and learning during this period, when it came time to get back out there, go to business meetings, networking functions and client interactions I felt like a fish out of water. Actually, I felt more like someone who had just been released from prison, let loose into the world again. Things had changed, they didn’t operate quite the way I was used to. I had to re-learn the culture of business and how to have adult conversations without mentioning kids. I even struggled keeping my attention on one thing for more than about 30 minutes. And witnessing my kids’ as they adjusted to care was heart breaking. Sometimes I was even tempted to commit another crime, just so I could go back to the familiar safe place of isolation. It was frightening.
At times, I still struggle to balance my two very separate worlds. Here’s what keeps me moving in a forward direction:
· I follow Susan Jeffers advise to ‘Feel the Fear and do it Anyway’, knowing that fear is perfectly natural and a sign that what I’m doing is important to me
· I think about my identity as a mum and realise that I will always be that and now I’m just going to also be a bit more
· I remind myself that I have a calling to follow
· I remind myself that my calling is to serve more people than the ones at home and that they will one day understand and feel proud to have contributed
· I remind myself that if I don’t do this soon I’ll go bonkers and that’s not good for anyone
· I accept that at certain points I may feel and possibly even come across as awkward, but that the more I get out there the more comfortable I’ll become
· I’m kind to myself, giving myself friendly little talks of encouragement and acknowledgement when I do good
· I decided to learn from any mistakes rather than beat myself up
· I just kept going and doing
· And sometimes I look back and see what I’ve achieved by being the mum to three awesome little humans and realise that my new goals are going to be a walk in the park!
HOW CAN I IMPROVE MY SELF-ESTEEM AND BEAT MY NEGATIVE SELF-IMAGE?
American surgeon and author Mawell Maltz said “Low self-esteem is like driving through life with your hand brake on.” Everything you do is a push and an effort and life just doesn’t flow the way you know it should.
“Low self-esteem is like driving through life with your hand brake on.”
Self-esteem refers to the value we put on ourselves, our self-worth or self-respect. Low self-esteem results in a lack of confidence and feeling that you don’t have certain abilities (even though you do). It can cause people to freeze, leaving them stuck in their current circumstances, unable to move forward and achieve their life goals. In some cases, it can lead to depression. Once your self-esteem increases, you’ll feel as though your opinions are worthy of being expressed, you’ll won’t feel out of place in social situations, you’ll have more faith in your ability to achieve your goals and you’ll feel more enthusiastic and less hesitant to participate in life generally.
People may have low self-esteem as a result of an unstable childhood, feeling isolated within their community, past traumas, loss of tight bonds through either death or break-ups, financial stress, loss of employment, ongoing illness or pain or failure to achieve certain goals.
Whatever the cause might be for you, I promise, you can overcome it. The first step is in acknowledging that you can change if you really want to. Once you’re able to make that commitment to yourself, take some practical steps such as looking after your health. Drink and smoke less, eat well and exercise. Next, really become aware of how you talk to yourself. What do you tell yourself when something goes wrong? Most people don’t talk to their enemies the way they talk to themselves! Are you way too harsh on yourself? If you make an unintentional mistake, talk to yourself the way you’d talk to your best friend, or a child who’s made a mistake. Sometimes it can help to chat to yourself in the mirror, just a friendly kind supportive, encouraging chat. You may even choose to write a letter to yourself. If the achievements of others get you down, bring it back to you. Compare yourself with only the past you, not others and certainly not the ridiculous expectations you have of yourself. Be reasonable! When pursuing a goal, acknowledge yourself along the way, not just at the end. Make sure you surround yourself with people that have your back and drop the people that drag you down.
“When pursuing a goal, acknowledge yourself along the way, not just at the end.”
If you’re still struggling there are great resources out there that will help to shift the emotions of past trauma that might be holding you back. Things like hypnotherapy and EFT, kinesiology or other energy work are great tools.
HOW CAN I INCREASE MY CONFIDENCE?
People with high confidence take criticism constructively, take calculated risks with less fear, back themselves in a discussion, learn from their mistakes, can take a compliment, have a positive outlook on life and do what they think is right despite the opinions of others.
“The most important factor in increasing your confidence is knowing yourself.”
The most important factor in increasing your confidence is knowing yourself. If you know who you are (your identity), know what you want (values) and employ your own set of rules to live by (beliefs) you will be certain to have strong levels of confidence. (Refer to “How Can I Understand Myself Better” above). And once this happens, life will flow more easily and enjoyably for you.
HOW CAN I BE MORE OUTGOING?
Once you’ve begun to strengthen your self-esteem and confidence you may feel that you’d like to get out more and become a little more social. You’re ready to put yourself out there and get connected but you’re not entirely sure how to. Where do you begin?
Being rather introverted myself, I find once I’ve committed to a social engagement that I feel nervous about I keep reminding myself of the reasons I’ve chosen to go and the things I am able to contribute to the event. This makes me feel worthy of being there. I always connect with the host and make sure I thank them for the invitation. I make a huge effort to remember and use people’s names. I look people in the eye and smile often. During an event, I’ll become aware that there are other people in the room who are also feeling a bit isolated and I try to connect with them, not by actually sharing our discomfort, but just by reaching out to them and striking up a conversation. That way I’m helping others too. Complimenting people is a really good way to connect as well, so long as it’s honest. I used to think that talking about myself made me seem self-absorbed but sharing things about your life with others actually communicates to them that you’re comfortable with your life and are willing to connect, it gives them something to relate to, just so long as you’re not being arrogant or complaining all the time. And if I still don’t feel comfortable, I just fake it till I make it! It may seem misleading but soon, social situations will become more comfortable simply due to familiarity and repetition, so before long you’ll be feeling right at home and you’ll come across that way too.
MANAGING MY EMOTIONS
HOW CAN I OVERCOME FEAR?
What do you fear? Not being good enough, not being loved, not belonging and being alone? It may be failure, success, being too fat, being too thin, being too friendly, not being friendly enough, being too lazy, working too hard. You may fear spiders, snakes, public speaking, even death. Maybe it’s the creepy old man down the end of the street, your fifth-grade teacher who you sometimes still bump into down at the shops.
Fear, as irrational or logical as it may be can be paralysing. It can waste your time and energy, cause you emotional distress, make you doubt yourself. It can ruin relationships. It can prevent you from living the life you truly want. Fear is insidious. It’s sneaky. And it can affect you without you even being aware of it.
However, whatever it is that you fear, if you want to overcome the fear, you can.
The first step in conquering fear is being aware of it. If you’re having trouble with something, whether it be achieving something or communicating with someone, chances are fear has a lot to do with it.
Fear can originate in a number of ways. It can be learnt behaviour, anchored by past experiences. For example, when you were 10 years old you had a class assignment to make a presentation in front of your peers. You made a few mistakes and they laughed at you. Ever since then, when you think of making a presentation the memory comes back (either consciously or not) and you have the emotional response of fear. You may even fear things you haven’t experienced yourself but have only witnessed and experienced empathically.
Fear can also come from the ego. The ego’s job is to protect your identity and keep you in your box. It uses the fear of the unknown to prevent you from challenging yourself, because it knows your identity might change if you do.
“Whatever it is that you fear, if you want to overcome the fear, you can.”
When you’re facing a fear, acknowledge where the fear is coming from, whether it be your past experiences or ego and then use logic to determine whether the fear is justified. If we’re honest with ourselves, the only time fear is relevant is when our survival or those of our loved ones is at stake. If any other type of fear is standing in the way of achieving your goals, feel it, and do it anyway!
HOW CAN I OVERCOME TRAUMA?
The emotional memories connected to traumatic experiences have the potential to infiltrate every aspect of our lives and at times can be quite debilitating. People suffering from traumatic experiences may withdraw from others, making them feel very isolated and lonely. They may suffer from mood swings and irritability, anger, or feelings of hopelessness. They may be in denial or even experience some degree of guilt.
Trauma isn’t something you have to live with though. There are some amazing therapies that unhook the emotional aspect from the memory, such as hypnotherapy, time-line therapy and the Emotional Freedom Technique (Tapping). All of these methods are really straight forward and produce rapid results.
The most challenging aspect of dealing with trauma is probably admitting that it’s affecting you enough to take action. If you’re not sure whether you’re ready to overcome your trauma or aren’t sure if it’s affecting you enough to worry about it, ask yourself these four perspective-altering questions:
· What would happen if I did take action to overcome my trauma?
· What would happen if I didn’t take action to overcome my trauma?
· What wouldn’t happen if I did take action to overcome my trauma?
· What wouldn’t happen if I didn’t take action to overcome my trauma?
And in the meantime, be kind and patient with yourself, ask for support if you need it, talk about it and maintain your regular routine.
HOW CAN I REDUCE STRESS AND ANXIETY?
Stress and anxiety are forms of fear. Although we’ve already discussed fear, I want to draw attention to stress and anxiety because it seems that in today’s world stress and anxiety have become socially acceptable and therefore very few people are doing anything about theirs.
“There’s no way to escape all the stresses of modern life but there are ways to manage it.”
Stress is a really serious thing. Science is discovering that more than 90% of illnesses are stress related. Stress causes an increase in colds and flus, sleeplessness, a higher chance of strokes, heart disease and depression. You see, the thing about stress is that it supresses the immune system. From a historical biological perspective, we enter a state of ‘stress’ when our survival is threatened. At this point, we put all of our energetic resources into escaping the danger and therefore there’s no energy left for functions such as digestion, elimination of toxins and immunity. In our modern world we’re putting ourselves in stressful situations so often that our bodies aren’t given the opportunity to perform the vital function of healing.
There’s no way to escape all the stresses of modern life but there are ways to manage it and support those vital functions so that our bodies and minds stay healthy. You might begin by reducing the toxins in your life so that your body doesn’t have to work so hard to illuminate them. This may include eating more organic, less processed foods, reducing alcohol, quitting smoking and choosing toxin free cleaning and body products. You might decide to go to bed earlier. You may choose to implement a regular exercise habit as exercise helps to release stress. Perhaps you’ll choose to cease stressful activities, whether it be your job, your friends or extra-curricular activities. Meditation is a great way to support your immune system, among other things. It also boosts your memory and concentration, helps you make better decisions and prevents depression. Even starting with just 5 minutes a day will help you and you can build it up from there. There are many different forms of meditation and loads of resources out there including websites, aps and group meetings.
HOW CAN I REDUCE ANGER AND RESENTMENT?
Often people struggle to manage their anger when they’re stressed because stress can affect higher thinking. When we have to run for our life, energy is taken from the part of our brain that’s capable of logic and reason. So, reducing the stress is your life, as discussed above, is key to managing your anger. Finding yourself suddenly fuming in a situation though won’t be helped by eating an organic apple or dropping on the floor to meditate. First, make a pact with yourself that if you do feel yourself about to blow your lid that you’ll stop and take a deep breath. Once people can implement this simple in-the-moment strategy, they are able to manage the situation without frightening the pants off someone. This isn’t enough though. Once you get through the immediate moment, you must take some time to process the anger. You may have put a lid on it, but it’s still in the pot and if you don’t release it, it’ll accumulate and be harder to put that lid back on next time. You may use exercise to release the anger, punch a pillow, throw stones into a river. Whatever works for you, do it. Soon you’ll have very little fire left to fuel it.
Another really important tool in reducing resentment (anger towards the actions of others) is to see things from their perspective. This skill comes naturally for some, but not so easily for others. To see things from another’s perspective, firstly you must be in a productive state. Don’t try and stand in their shoes if you’re angry. Release the anger first and try to come from a state of compassion and kindness. If this is challenging, first think of any obvious hardships this person is or has endured. It may be the loss of a loved one, a broken marriage, maybe they had a major life change such as a relocation or a new job. Rather than seeing the disagreement as an isolated misunderstanding, look at the bigger picture so you can see what’s going on for them in other areas of their life that might have instigated this response. You never know, it might even give you a clearer perspective of your own motivations, leading you to realise you’ve been harsh on them.
HOW CAN I LEARN TO FORGIVE?
Until you can forgive someone for something they did to hurt you, life can be really difficult. It can cause you distraction in your life, disabling you from focussing on what’s really important to you. It can result in the mistrust of other people in your life and therefore compromises these relationships. It can cause sleeplessness, stress and sometimes even depression.
If you’re wondering whether you’re ready to forgive someone, just take an honest look at what effect holding on to the issue is having on you. Are you going to let that issue impact you like that? Is it worth it? If the answer is yes, well that’s fine, hold onto it. But if the issue isn’t worth the sacrifices, give yourself permission to let it go.
HOW CAN I FIND A PARTNER THAT’S RIGHT FOR ME?
A good partnership can be one of the most rewarding experiences in life. And a bad one has the potential to cause long term issues. So how can you find a partner that’s right for you? The best place to start is with the end in mind. Not only is it important to give thought to the sort of person you want to be with. You must also think about the sort of person you want to be within the relationship. Your partner will bring out various aspects of yourself. You probably want to make sure it’s the good bits and not the bad bits! What parts of yourself do you want your partner to love and adore, encourage and support? And then there’s the relationship itself. What does a positive fulfilling relationship look like to you? You will need to give thought to your needs. This is where it’s important to know yourself first before entering into a relationship. If you know what your needs are and find that they’re not being satisfied, you can address it early on, no harm done. On the other hand, if you don’t know what your needs are and issues surface within the relationship, by the time you figure out what’s going on, it may be too late. Another thing you’ll need to understand before you find a partner is your values.
As mentioned earlier, your values are the emotions you wish to experience often in life. If you and your partner have different values, you might struggle to find activities that you can do together that allow you each to experience your desires. Your big life goals must align too, such as marriage or kids and where you want to live. If you know all of this about yourself prior to meeting your partner you’ll know from very early on whether they’re the right fit for you or not.
Another aspect to be aware of is that of your past. What experiences have you had that may make you inclined to be drawn to certain people. You may be seeking a man similar to your father, or a woman like your mum. And how have past relationships shaped you? Is the mark they’ve left on you going to lead you to the right partner for you, or send you into the brambles?
HOW CAN I MAKE MYSELF ATTRACTIVE TO POTENTIAL PARTNERS?
Once you know what you want from and who you want to be in a relationship with, how do you then attract the right person into your life?
The next thing to think about is “what sort of person is the person I want to attract, attracted to?” In other words, start being the ideal person for your ideal partner. What changes will you need to make?
“Start being the ideal person for your ideal partner.”
For example, if your personal esteem is lacking, there’s a good chance you’re looking for someone who’s highly outgoing, hoping that their confidence will rub off on you. But if you’re honest you’ll realise that confident people are drawn to other confident people. So, think about becoming that.
DATING FOR INTROVERTS
The difference between introverted and extroverted people is simply this. Introverted people need to be alone to recharge their batteries. Extroverted people need to be around others. Introverted people tend to process information internally, whereas extroverts like to talk it out. Just because you’re an introvert doesn’t mean you can’t be social, and it certainly doesn’t mean you can’t connect with others. Introverts tend to be more honest and thoughtful, which are valuable gifts to bring into a relationship. I think society has instilled a fear of being social into introverts. If you are a socially fearful introvert, perhaps you could follow the tips above for being more outgoing and overcoming fear. If you want to be social, you can.
I really hope that this guide has given you a starting point to get to know yourself better, get a clearer picture of what you want in life and find within yourself the resources to set you in the right direction. If you want to take the next step, simply book a FREE one-hour consultation with me where we can discuss how I can assist you personally in Creating Your Best Self.