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Last Updated on November 26, 2020

10 Important Things to Remember for Intentional Living

10 Important Things to Remember for Intentional Living

They say “what you don’t know can’t hurt you,” but when it comes to your mind, this statement couldn’t be further from the truth. What you don’t know about your mind, what runs it, and how it drives your life can definitely hurt you—probably more than anything else, especially when it comes to intentional living.

As a therapist and former social anxiety sufferer, I know exactly how important it is and how life-changing it can be to start living with intention and take back the reins of your life.

I want to share 10 vital facts that will help you understand your mind so that you can live more intentionally, which really means to live life on your terms according to the beliefs and values that best serve you in the long run.

1. Your Mind and Your Brain Are Two Different Things

“I think, therefore I am.” –Rene Descartes

Rene Descartes made the distinction centuries ago between the mind — the essence of which is thinking—and brain matter, but it’s been a debate among scientists globally ever since.[1]

What we know to be true is that if you were to point to your mind and your brain, you point at the same thing, right?

You can also be dead with a brain, but you can’t be alive without your mind. You can also be dead with a brain, but you can’t be alive without your mind. You are your consciousness, and although scientists are yet to prove its limits, we know that it’s extremely powerful[2]. According to scientists:

“The brain is the physical substance, and the mind is the conscious product of those firing neurons, according to the classic argument. But growing evidence shows that the mind goes far beyond the physical workings of your brain.”

Being aware of the fact that your mind is something that isn’t constrained by your brain—that it’s a container for something much larger and more powerful—is the first step to gaining higher consciousness. Intentional living requires gaining such higher consciousness.

Action: Don’t take your consciousness for granted, and question everything you know to be true.

2. Your Mind Can Physically Change Your Brain

“The time has come for science to confront the serious implications of the fact that directed willed mental activity can clearly and systematically alter brain function.” –Jeffrey Schwartz, The Mind and The Brain

This is what mind over matter means: our mind can control and influence our physical state and change our brain function.[3] Search Google and you’ll find evidence from all over the globe of people healing themselves, surprising doctors, and shaping their realities with focused and willed thoughts.

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I have personally experienced the power of changing a deep-rooted fear of public speaking and social interaction. What was once a seriously petrifying notion, where even a thought invoked the “fight or flight” response, is now something I enjoy.

I revisited the painful memories until they weren’t painful. I rationalized the beliefs I had about it and told myself just how much I loved public speaking in public. I gave my mind new pictures to see and proved that if you really will yourself to change, you can. This is an important part of intentional living.

I got up in front of 60 people and did a cross-examination (ex-lawyer here), and I genuinely enjoyed it. It made me realize that achieving your goals is absolutely possible, despite what a lot of people believe.

Action: Think about something you’d like to change in your life. Is it a behavior you wish you didn’t have or a belief that’s holding you back? Writing is a great way to sort through it all, and once you’ve identified them, keep reading.

3. Your Mind Doesn’t Know the Difference Between What Is Real or Imagined

Right now, I want you to imagine that you’re cutting a slice of lemon. See that freshly cut, juicy lemon in your mind right now.

Smell it, and notice that it’s a really juicy one. The acidic juices are dripping as you cut into it. Now, picture yourself biting straight into it. Close your eyes and picture that acidic, fresh juice seeping all through your mouth.

Salivating yet?

This is a simple but effective demonstration of the fact that your thoughts can bring about physical reactions because your mind thinks that you’ve actually eaten a lemon.

Now, think about what your mind is doing when you’re catastrophizing situations, constantly reliving negative events, or picturing the worst things happening. According to Dr. Dispenza’s You Are the Placebo: Making Your Mind Matter, your mind doesn’t know the difference.

It feels like it’s actually happening so your body reacts the same way. This is how we get burnout, adrenal fatigue from too much cortisol, and a constant state of fight or flight.

“If you want to dream big, you have to dream in great detail.” –Mike Tomlin

When you visualize where you want to be, how you want to feel, the presentation you have to give, or the conversation you want to have in a positive light, your body and mind will act as though it’s happening. Later, it’’ll be primed to do what you mentally rehearsed when the time comes.

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Action: Picture what you want, see it often, and see it in great detail.

4. Your Mind Doesn’t Always Know What’s Best

I came across a conflicting belief I had when I was overcoming social anxiety. The issue was that what I wanted to do and what my mind thought it needed to do were two different things.

I wanted to interact with people and feel comfortable speaking in groups, but my mind kept trying to keep me away from what it assumed was going to be a painful experience. This is because it was painful for me as a kid when I was bullied, so my body would go into fight or flight and cause me intense anxiety to help me escape the situation.

My beliefs guided my thoughts, so my thoughts guided my actions, and my actions shaped me into a shy and self-conscious person who wasn’t good at public speaking.

Your mind’s job is to keep you away from harm and pain, but sometimes it’ll make you shy away from the things you really want to do to keep you “safe.”[4] Living an intentional life does not mean being 100% safe. Sometimes, you have to take risks, too.

Action: Look for inconsistencies, things you wish you could do but don’t feel comfortable or able to do, and aim to align yourself through goal setting.

5. It Doesn’t Take Years to Change a Behavior or Belief

The reason “talk therapy” takes a lot longer than we’d like is that communication isn’t happening at the most effective brain wave frequency. It’s your subconscious mind that holds the negative beliefs and habits.

So naturally, when we get onto the same frequency (alpha and theta brain waves[5]), we can communicate more effectively with this part of our mind. It sticks quicker and, when guided, it can give us the answers we can’t access at a conscious level.[6]

Action: Open your mind to subconscious methods of reprogramming, whether it’s a guided recording on YouTube or with a hypnotherapist, and know that you can change without losing years of your life trying.

6. Your Mind Will Believe Negative Things Over Positive Things

If you’ve never heard of the negativity bias, you will no doubt have experienced its effects.

Remember a time where someone said something critical or mean about you. Even though you did several positive things that day, or received more compliments, did you find it was really hard to get that one negative thing out of your head?[7]

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Negativity bias can hurt intentional living

    It’s not an exact science, but your mind needs significantly more positives to counter a negative.

    Action: Actively work on reinforcing the positive when you hear negative comments or feel negative thoughts. Know that you can turn it around, but your mind is geared negatively, so you’ve got to practice this skill. Knowing this is key to intentional living.

    7. Your Mind Believes the Things You Tell It

    This one is pretty self-explanatory. If you tell yourself you’re worthless or stupid, your mind will believe that to be true.

    If you tell yourself you love being confident, you feel calm, and you can achieve whatever you want, it will believe that, too (though it will need to hear that more often because of the negativity bias, remember!). That’s why if you want to live intentionally, you have to consider the things you tell yourself.

    Action: Consider the words you say to yourself every day. Decide who you want to be and tell yourself that’s exactly who you are. Watch how you change.

    8. Your Beliefs Are Often Irrational and Harmful

    Did you know that when children experience family violence, their brains have similar patterns of activity as soldiers that have fought in a war?[8]

    If you suffered trauma, bullying, or abuse as a child, the chances are that your subconscious mind formed irrational beliefs before your logical mind developed. If you let them, these beliefs could be running your entire life.[9]

    But when you identify, rationalize, and re-visit these beliefs, you can change them. Unless you revisit these beliefs as an adult, you could risk living your life based on irrelevant things that hurt your younger self.

    Action: Reflect on those tough life moments—the ones that are often hard to think about but the ones that may have shaped you. Work through it with a therapist, or write it all down so you can start to question and rationalize what you believed to be true. Reflection is an important aspect of intentional living.

    9. Your Mind Defaults to What Is Familiar

    We are creatures of habit. We love doing what we know because it’s relatively certain. Uncertainty and unfamiliarity are uncomfortable.

    However, sometimes what is familiar to you isn’t good for you. The familiar eating patterns you have, the negative thought loops you’re stuck in, the self-deprecation, the anxious feelings, the overreactions—all of these things we do out of habit but not necessarily because we want to.

    The good news is that you can make the familiar unfamiliar, but new habits that really stick are those that sit at an identity level (i.e. you can’t beat yourself up for not reaching your goal of losing 10 lbs (an outcome) when you don’t identify with being a fit and healthy person (your identity)).[10] You must identify with what you’re trying to change, or it won’t stick.

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    Action: Imagine you could watch yourself throughout the day and notice whether the things you’re doing are because you want to or if you’re doing it because it’s comfortable. Look for clues, particularly if you feel guilty, sad, angry, or annoyed after a thing you eat or say or do.

    10. You Are Not Your Thoughts

    “Rather than being your thoughts and emotions, be the awareness behind them.” –Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth

    Based on the preceding facts I’ve listed about your mind, you now know that your mind believes what you tell it. It can be physically affected by your thoughts, and it can shape your entire reality.

    If you can notice your thoughts, let them flow in and out, keep the ones that help you, and let go of the ones that don’t, you’ll reach a level of mind control that very few can reach.

    It starts by getting quiet, calm, and doing whatever makes you focused and happy, like running, meditation, walking, or listening to music. This will help guide you toward intentional living

    Action: Become aware of your own negative thought loops and practice letting them go or just noticing them rather than giving in to them, believing them straight away, and reacting.

    Final Thoughts

    I hope these 10 facts help you as much as they have helped me and my clients. These are not guaranteed to make you live intentionally, but they will definitely help you live life on your terms.

    And finally, watch this interview with Antonio Neves to learn more about how to stop living on autopilot:

    Remember, you aren’t responsible for the negative things that you heard or experienced in your life, but you are most definitely responsible for changing them.

    More on Intentional Living

    Featured photo credit: Brad Pearson via unsplash.com

    Reference

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    Daina Worrall

    Lawyer, C. Hypnotherapist and RTT Therapist - Personal Development & Mental Health

    Overcome Fear and Anxiety with These 4 Mindset Shifts Self Care Tips During Difficult Times (A Therapist’s Advice) How to Cure Depression (Professional Advice from a Therapist) How to Turn Negative Thoughts Into Positive Action Now How to Take Personal Responsibility and Stop Blaming Circumstances

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    Last Updated on April 19, 2021

    7 Reasons to Dare to Dream Big

    7 Reasons to Dare to Dream Big

    When you dare to dream big, you are taking an active role in your life. You are being present and allowing yourself to experience things as they happen. As you make a conscious effort to set goals and achieve them, you are going to have a richer life experience. In this article, we discuss 7 reasons to dream big.

    1. Live a Life of No Regrets

    There are plenty of experiences in life that don’t come around very often. Halley’s Comet, for instance, comes around once every 75 years. As a result, most people make a serious effort to experience this once in a lifetime event. When you understand something is special, you usually try to make it a point to experience it.

    Your life and the experiences you accumulate are no less valuable. Yet, there are people who are not experiencing this very special opportunity every day.

    There is little worse than coming to the end of your life and realizing you never lived your fullest life. By acknowledging that your life is as special of an event as an eclipse or Halley’s Comet, you will live your life to the fullest. When you dare to dream big, you are breaking your limits and challenging the status quo.

    2. Inspire Others

    Think about the stories that motivate you to take action. These are usually stories of people who overcame the odds and achieved something great. It is why so many people love to watch movies; you are living vicariously through the experiences of the hero. Their willingness to do the right thing in the bleakest of times is the stuff legends are made of.

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    Heroes exist in real life, too. Just like in the movies, they are the people who show courage in the face of danger and dare to dream in the face of adversity. They are also willing to put the needs of others above their own. You could inspire the next generation by your contribution if you dare to dream big.

    3. Receive a Greater Reward

    Those who are willing to take risks in life end up receiving the lion’s share of the reward. Think about the difference between someone who opens their own law firm versus someone who chooses to be a public defender. They are essentially doing the same work, but the person who is a public defender is not taking any risk. They are going to receive a consistent paycheck every week, regardless of the amount of work they perform.

    Someone who owns their own law firm has the ability to earn an unlimited amount of income. However, they also have the ability to earn nothing.

    Those who dare to dream big understand that there is a risk associated with their decisions. Most people are not willing to take on the risk associated with chasing their dreams because do not want to be put in a position where they can lose everything. They would rather live a life short of their true potential in order to avoid possible failure…but where’s the fun in that?

    4. Get Outside Your Comfort Zone

    Your comfort zone is such a wonderful place. You get into a little groove and things seem to be coming along naturally.

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    However, while your comfort zone can feel great, it is also the place where your big dreams go to die. For someone to dare to dream big, they know they must push themselves beyond their current limits. A Yale study says that stability shuts off the switch to your brain. In other words, when you remain in your comfort zone, your brain stops learning.[1]

    When you dare to dream big, you are encouraging your brain to imagine ways to accomplish your goal. There is a level of uncertainty that causes you to fear leaving your comfort zone. You are worried about your ability to succeed and whether the journey is worth traveling.

    You may think, “What if I invest a year into this relationship and find out this person is not right for me?” Or what if you accept that new position, but you don’t like your new boss? All of these thoughts are signs that you are about to leave your comfort zone. Instead of running away from these experiences, try to lean into them.

    5. Living Small Doesn’t Help Anyone

    The sad truth is that plenty of people will not like you simply because you are successful. Success will test your relationships with your friends and family. You will feel tempted to limit yourself and not pursue your big dreams.

    Don’t fall into the trap of feeling like you cannot dare to dream big because the people you are currently around dream small. Living small only hinders your growth and theirs[2]. At least by pursuing your dreams, your friends and family may live through your experiences. As a result, you may be the catalyst they need to pursue their own.

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    In addition, you never know what amazing things you will accomplish if you dare to dream big. Imagine going to medical school and creating the cure for cancer. Or making advancements in technology and changing the human experience for decades to come. You need to find your motivation and drive in life.

    If everyone lived small, there would be no innovation, advancement, or growth. Does that sound like a world you want to be a part of?

    6. Conquer Fear

    There are two choices in life. You are either living a life of fear or a life of dreams. When you dare to dream big, you are undoubtedly living a life based on your dreams. Your dreams are found in that little voice inside of you that tells you all the amazing things you can do to change the world.

    The problem most people face is they have another voice in their head telling them all the reasons they cannot live their dream life.[3] This voice is constantly reminding you of all of your mistakes and all of the reasons success is not possible.

    Fear is a powerful tool you can utilize to help you take action. Instead of being afraid of how someone is going to react, be afraid of letting yourself down. Stop thinking about the worst thing that can happen for once and start thinking about the best things that can happen.

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    How would your life be different if you dared to dream big? In fact, how would the life of those you love be different because of your willingness to pursue your dreams? Allow these answers to fuel you in your time of fear and self-doubt. You are counting on you, but if that is not enough, those you love are counting on you, too.

    7. Write Your Own Story

    Have you ever gotten lost in a good book? Books tend to be better than most movies’ because books don’t have a budget. Movies are bound by the laws of science and technology. These laws don’t exist when you write a book. There is no discussion around how much those explosions cost or whether you can make something look real.

    Indeed, books allow the author and the reader to both use their imagination. The author is putting their imagination on each page, and the reader uses their imagination to interpret the story. Your life is like being lost in a good book. Every day you wake up, you are writing another chapter. No one knows how the story is going to end, but how would you like it end? Do you want to be victorious because you were willing to dare to dream big, or do you want people to say you left with untapped potential?

    Final Thoughts

    Your life is the best gift the universe can give you, so don’t waste it. Be willing to dare to dream big and allow yourself to make mistakes. Things are not always going to go your way, but that doesn’t mean you cannot find a way overcome the challenges you face. Continue to strive to be a little better each day, and before you know it, you will be everything you thought you could be and more.

    More Tips for Making Dreams Happen

    Featured photo credit: Jeremy Perkins via unsplash.com

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