“The block of granite which was an obstacle in the pathway of the weak, became a stepping-stone in the pathway of the strong.” Thomas Carlyle
When I was young, I loved the sense of adventure that went with rock hopping. Across a creek, near the beach, along a river bank I’d step, or jump, from rock to rock. Some surfaces were slippery, some unsteady, some too small, and often I ended up wet and bruised. Nevertheless, I loved accepting the challenge of making progress towards a new place. Despite some difficulties, each stone was part of the journey that led to achievement, to a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment.
In my grown-up life, while difficulties are still there to be faced, I retain the excitement of making progress towards new places and new experiences. My 19 stepping stones are tried and tested techniques that have helped me smooth the way ahead.
Well, go on. Just try some of my 19 techniques to empower yourself. Who knows? Maybe you, too, will grasp the excitement and be empowered to live a more productive and happier life.
1. Accept that awful stuff happens.
The usual reaction to things not going your way is to resist and fight against them. By accepting things as they are, even though you don’t want them to be that way, you’ll develop a more peaceful state of mind. Saying a mantra will help – “I hate things being this way but I accept that this is my reality just now. I’ll work through this situation calmly and resolutely.” Slowly but surely, you will empower yourself.Advertising
2. Adopt a flexible attitude.
Being flexible means you can face daily changes without creating too great a stress reaction in your body. When something’s not working, be ready to consider other ideas. Changing your approach to meet the change in circumstances is essential for a happier and more successful future.
3. See challenges as opportunities for growth.
Ask yourself what you can learn from challenges as they arise. Is this a chance to become stronger? By turning these situations into positives, you’ll avoid resorting to overeating and other negative behaviors – the most usual ways of coping.
4. Use questions to empower you.
Instead of asking disempowering questions such as, “Why is this happening to me?” use a more positive question format. Questions that invite creative thinking are the best. An example might be, “What alternative actions could I take in these changing circumstances?”
5. Change negative thoughts to positive.
Negative thoughts that harbor unhelpful beliefs only hold you back from achieving. So monitor your thoughts. When you’re aware that they are negative, change them immediately into positive thoughts. You’ll be amazed at how much happier and confident you’ll feel.
6. Relish change.
Realize when it’s time to change direction. Often we think of change as negative. But change can be very exciting and positive. Embrace new thoughts, new opportunities and new ways of living. Even though change is difficult to initiate, sometimes it’s essential.Advertising
7. Calm yourself when you’re getting uptight.
When you’re calm, you are in control. You’ll think through the problem with more clarity. Make time to listen to relaxing music, or sit quietly and visualize a place where you’ve been that evokes calm and contentment. It will help you focus on what’s really important.
8. Believe you’re good enough.
It’s too easy to think you’re not good enough to get through difficult situations. Look at your abilities. Tell yourself that you are awesome and you can handle anything that can possibly be thrown at you. Believe in yourself.
9. Face reality.
Don’t try to hide from problems that present themselves. Come face to face with them and persevere no matter what. It’s a tough thing to do, that’s for sure. Look for solutions in unusual places.
10. Prepare yourself for busy times.
When weighed down by being too busy, prioritize your jobs until life becomes more manageable. Sticking to a plan will help you get back on track. Start each day with the most immediate job on your list.
11. Encourage and help others.
Take every opportunity to be a source of hope and encouragement to others. Looking outward instead of inward gives opportunity for you to contribute to the well-being of others. Your happiness and confidence levels will rise.Advertising
12. Make each day sparkle.
Instead of letting doubts, worries and fears about what might happen creep into your day, look for ways to make your day sparkle. Be positive about the fabulous things that lie ahead. You don’t know what those things might be, but that’s okay. You’ll move forward with excitement and courage. Shawn Achor’s TED Talk, How to Make the Present More Positive, includes some enjoyable ideas for staying positive and focused.
13. Be full of thanks.
Thinking about all those things that are going right in your life, keeps life in perspective. Be grateful for the now – for where you are at the present time. Now is the start of big things to come. Being grateful helps you see there is so much that usually is taken for granted. Gratitude improves productivity and leads to happiness.
14. Schedule play time.
For your body to remain in balance, you need to have work time and play time. Your brain and mind will benefit from varying what you do each day, particularly if you include some fun time in your schedule. Follow this with diligence and notice how you feel. There’ll be a spring in your step – even a lasting smile.
15. Get physical.
Spend some time outdoors every day. Being physical, through aerobic activities, gives you the energy to carry you through the difficult times. Exercise will help you reach your goals. You’ll be charged with enthusiasm for all things positive.
16. Take time out.
Take regular mental breaks such as mindfulness. Being mindful enables you to be more accepting of yourself. Sit somewhere quiet. Breathe in to energize your whole body. As you breathe out, believe that anxiety and tension are leaving your body.Advertising
17. Stay connected.
Spend time with people whose company you enjoy. It’s important to stay connected to friends and family, so you have people who can encourage you. You’ll appreciate their support.
18. Be an optimist.
Understand that life consists of hill and valley cycles. This doesn’t mean that you react positively to good days and feel down-in-the-dumps on the not-so-good days. It means being optimistic that the good days ahead will carry you through the very difficult days, without suffering excess stress.
19. Laugh often – and “live happily ever after”.
Laughing will help you cope better with any difficult situation. Of course it’s not easy to laugh when you’re going through a rough patch. But lightening up when you see a funny sign along the way, or smiling back at someone who is happy, can do wonders for you. You’ll have a bubble and sparkle that wasn’t there before.
Finally . . . . .
Let the stepping stones metaphor remind you that despite life’s inevitable missteps, many rewarding opportunities and moments lie ahead. The crucial thing is not what actually happens as you travel through life, but how you respond to what happens.
Choose to use some of these 19 stepping stones . . . . . and enjoy a happier, calmer and more productive life as you learn to empower yourself.
Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com
Last Updated on July 10, 2020
How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries
We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.
We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.
So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?
Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.
Table of Contents
What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)
Boundaries are limits
—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.
Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.
Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.
Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.
Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.
How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life
Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.
1. Self-Awareness Comes First
Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.
You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.
To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.
You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:
- Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
- When do you feel disrespected?
- When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
- In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
- When do you want to be alone?
- How much space do you need?
You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.
2. Clear Communication Is Essential
Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.
Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.
3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame
Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.
That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.
- “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
- “I need…to be treated with respect…”
- “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
- “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
- “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
- “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
- “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”
Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.
4. Consequences Are Often Necessary
Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.
Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.
Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.
We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”
It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.
It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.
Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.
Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.
Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.
The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.
Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.
Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.
They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.
More Articles to Help You Take Control of Your Life
- How to Start Over and Reboot Your Life When It Seems Too Late
- Do You Have to Give Everything Up to Get a Fresh Start?
- How to Get out of a Funk and Take Control of Life
Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com