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5 Keys to a Great Morning

5 Keys to a Great Morning

I don’t know about you, but the most important part of my day is my morning. I typically wake up around 5:15–5:30AM and what happens right after I wake up through the next few hours has significant impact on the rest of the day until I go to bed.

I had a period of time in my mid 20s where I found myself stressed and frustrated when I would arrive at work.  When I took a step back, I realized the root of my stress and frustration were things that were happening between the time I woke up and arrived to work. I made one specific change that significantly changed my mornings moving forward. Since that time, I have tried to be very intentional with my morning routine and as a parent, the morning routines of my children. This stuff will change your life, one morning at a time!

Here are my 5 keys to a great morning.

1. Get Some Sleep

I’ve noticed I am most insecure, over-sensitive, and off my game when I don’t get enough sleep. I need between seven and eight hours of sleep for me to wake-up and be at what I feel is a productive mental and emotional place to start my day. Anything less and I struggle a bit to clear the “cob webs.” As I mentioned above, the probability of insecurity increases, so I end up feeling less confident. I know the only way I am going to reach my goals and live the life I want to live is to be confident. I need sleep and so do you! Our bed time is one thing, quality of sleep is another thing. Click here for Twelve Simple Tips to Improve Your Sleep. How much sleep do you need to wake up as your best self?

2. Give Yourself Enough Time

Give yourself enough time in the morning to do what you want to do. If every morning you are feeling stressed and rushed, then you need to change something, either your routine or the time you allow for your routine. Your mornings don’t need to be like that. I get it: life is busy, you have places to go, people to see, and maybe you have kids. None of that is a valid excuse, because you are in control whether you admit it or not.

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Take control of your morning by jotting down your ideal morning routine and consider how much time each item in your routine takes. My ideal morning routine might look like this:

– Wake up, restroom, eat granola bar, drink some water (5 minutes)

– Get dressed for the gym (5 minutes)

– Pack work clothes (10 minutes)

– Get out the door stuff  (10 minutes)

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– Drive to the gym (15 minutes)

– Workout (60 minutes)

– Shower, get dressed, leave gym (30 minutes)

– Drive to work while grabbing breakfast (20 minutes)

According to my estimated times above, my ideal morning routine will take me 2 hours and 35 minutes. If I want to be at work by 8:00AM every single day, I better be waking up no later than 5:25AM (and go to bed by 10:30PM the night before). If I hit snooze three times or try to fit everything in waking up at 6AM, my day is going to start off with me feeling stressed and rushed. Give yourself enough time to start your morning off right.

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3. Be the Master of Your Morning

If you follow my recommendation above and outline your ideal morning routine you can compare it to what you are actually doing.  What is your current morning routine and is it setting you up for success? If you Google “What do successful people do in the morning?” you will find links to articles that outline the morning habits of successful people.  As you are reading them, pay close attention to how intentional these people are and why.  Pay attention to the patterns you will see as you read about different people.  Be the master of your morning!

4. Eat Well

I sit on our wellness committee at work and we recently had a speaker do a lunch and learn on the topic of “Peak Energy.”  She talked about a lot of things, but one of the things that stuck out to me was the foods we put in our body.

She said one of the biggest challenges educators face is children not eating the right foods in the morning to set them up for success the rest of the day.  She used the example of children who eat sugary cereals or regularly eat things like Pop Tarts to start their day.  They come to school amped up on sugar and without getting the proper nutrients for their brains and body to function for peak performance.

As adults, we are not different.  We must fuel our bodies with the right things to help us perform in a healthy, efficient, and productive manner the rest of the day.What are you putting in your body to start the day? Click here to read about The 20 Best Foods to Eat for Breakfast.

5. Pay Attention to the Right Things

In the first paragraph, I talked about a time in my mid 20s where I was feeling stressed and frustrated when I would get to work.  I said I made one change that changed everything moving forward.

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That change was what I was paying attention to in the morning.  In my 20s I was on a save-the-world mission and was very opinionated on a number of social topics. During my morning drive from the gym to my work, I would listen to talk radio.  The program I would listen to was all about discussing various social topics, many of which I was passionate about.

During my drive I would find myself becoming frustrated and emotionally involved in the conversation and there were times I called in to voice my perspective.  On many days I would become come irritated to the point I would still be feeling it when I arrived at work.

As soon as I realized it, I stopped listening and switched to a light-hearted and very funny sports morning show.  My mornings have never been the same and not only am I very intentional with what I pay attention to in the mornings, I’m also very intentional with my children and what they are exposed to in the morning.  With my five year old son, if he wants to watch TV, it has to be certain shows that are focused on learning rather than others things a five year old little boy is drawn to.

When I take my children to school, the environment is very calm, nurturing, and positive.  I might ask what their goals are for the day.  I might remind them of the benefits of making everyone around them better.  Or maybe we’ll just rock out to some music.

Be mindful of what gets your attention in the morning and the impact it has on your spirit as you are kicking off your day.

I want you to be secure, confident, and fulfilled in your life.  I want each day to be meaningful for you.  I know the best way to do that is to feel good about yourself and the world around you.  How we start our days off can have significant impact on how we show up and our quality of life. You have the opportunity to make each morning great!

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Published on April 7, 2021

6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

Some of the most manipulative people are so good at what they do that their words and actions can convince you into thinking they truly care about what’s best for you when in reality, it’s quite the opposite. The most common signs of a controlling person are rarely obvious to outside observers. And for someone enmeshed in a controlling relationship or friendship, it can be incredibly challenging to stay away from this toxic person, even if you’re aware of their emotionally abusive tendencies.

While it’s ultimately up to you to decide whether to preserve or leave a lopsided, unfulfilling relationship, it’s nevertheless critical to understand the following six signs of controlling people so you can better advocate for yourself and mitigate the influence of their manipulative tendencies in your own life.

1. They Push Their Own Personal Agenda

Do you know someone who always tries to micromanage the words, behaviors, and attitudes of people around them? Does this person act like they have the right to know anything they want about you, including your location, what you’re doing in a given moment, who you’re talking to online, or any other private information about you? And when planning events and special occasions, does this person dominate conversations, steer plans in their own preferred directions, disparage others’ suggestions, and refuse to collaborate with anyone who might disagree with them?

If you answered “yes” to some of the above questions, then those are clear signs of a controlling person whom you absolutely need to be cautious around. Controlling people are reluctant to even consider alternative ideas, let alone enthusiastically work with people who have differing views. They prefer to be the captain of every ship—regardless of how much or how little an issue personally impacts them—and they have an arsenal of manipulative tactics to deploy if someone stands in the way of them achieving their own personal agendas.

In long-term relationships with controlling people, you may feel constantly pressured to meet their demands, follow their schedule, and focus on whatever they feel is most important. It’s not an exaggeration to say that these people act like the universe revolves around them, which can be exhausting to deal with for their family members, friends, and colleagues.

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2. They Make Everything Transactional

Controlling people aren’t always self-centered, but they’re not too empathetic either. Empathy for them tends to appear in the form of strategic concessions they use as a means to get what they want. They typically view interpersonal relationships as transactional opportunities to extract more value from people surrounding them, which can have a draining effect on those they interact with.

For example, one sign of a controlling person may be their insistence on “keeping score.” This can involve doing nice things for you with the ulterior motive of demanding something from you at a later date in exchange for what you thought was just an act of kindness or a friendly support.

Perhaps they shower you in praise (also known as “love-bombing”) or gifts then blow up at you if you don’t intuitively know they’re expecting something back from you. None of us are mind-readers, but controlling people behave as though everyone else should think and act like they want others to and those who fall out of line are punished for failing to meet their impossible expectations.

A controlling person may also threaten to withhold support if you don’t adhere to their demands, but they do so in such subtle ways that the guilt they impose blinds you from the unreasonable nature of their behaviors.

Some statements to be wary of include:

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  • “I did ___________ for you. What do you mean you can’t do ___________ for me?”
  • “Remember how I helped you with ___________? That took a lot of time and energy from me, but I guess you didn’t appreciate my help.”
  • “I always give you ___________. Don’t you care about my needs too?”
  • “You’re so selfish!” or “You don’t care about me at all!” (gaslighting if you respond with hesitation or politely decline their request for help for perfectly valid reasons, such as not having enough time or resources to assist them)

3. They Criticize Everything

One of the most common telltale signs of a controlling person is their capacity to criticize anything and everything, even small things that seemingly don’t matter. As with many toxic traits in relationships, these problems typically start out so small that you may not even notice. At first, you may even agree with their criticism or at least be able to understand their perspective when they bring up an issue.

However, the criticism tends to get more intense, more constant, and more perplexing for people who maintain relationships with controlling people. You’ll likely notice how they rarely seem to criticize something they do. It’s almost always other-oriented and these types of people are so manipulative that any rationale they offer can seem plausibly legitimate.

Some warning signs of a controlling person who’s overly critical to the point of abusiveness include:

  • Criticizing things about you that you have little to no control over (e.g., appearance, disability, family)
  • Criticizing your personal choices and interests, such as educational pursuits, career, clothing, favorite music, time spent on your hobbies, etc.
  • Punishing you for expressing vulnerability by invalidating thoughts and feelings you share with them
  • Attacking you whenever you express an opinion counter to theirs

4. They Balk When Someone Criticizes Them

We all know the adage, “what goes around, comes around.” But this statement doesn’t apply as much to toxic, controlling people. They’d much prefer to dish out criticism without ever having to take it in return.

For instance, if your friend constantly talks about your appearance with little regard for your emotions but flips out if you make just a single comment about their appearance, there’s a possibility that they could have some hidden controlling tendencies left unchecked. Remember, these people aren’t just controlling in their behaviors towards others. They’re also actively trying to stay in complete control over every aspect of their lives, which includes how others view them.

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This seemingly insatiable desire for control can prompt them to lash out against even the smallest bits of criticism, leaving people around them too weary or scared to speak up again in the future. While it’s possible they may suffer from something called rejection sensitivity dysphoria, this does not excuse them from the consequences of their words and actions. They should seek professional help to better manage their reactions to criticism.

5. They Socially Isolate You

Not all controlling people do this, but for manipulative narcissists, socially isolating victims is a go-to strategy for maintaining control because it’s effective at preventing people from truly understanding how toxic their partner, family member, or friend is treating them. Think of it this way—if you don’t talk to many other people in your life, there’s less of a risk that you’ll damage their reputation by revealing their abusive tendencies.

Socially isolating others also gives the person more control over you and your life as it becomes more difficult to break away from them if you don’t have other healthier channels of communication and interpersonal support to turn to.

This process doesn’t happen overnight, nor is it something you can readily recognize as abusive. At first, it may seem reasonable, such as asking you to stop engaging so often with family members with whom both of you disagree on major social or political issues. As the social isolation progresses, they may suggest cutting people out of your life—especially if they don’t like that person, regardless of how you personally feel—or even conjure up high-stakes problems like “it’s me or them” under the guise of saving you from people in your life whom they don’t like for whatever reason.

In a controlling person’s life narrative, they’re always the protagonist who’s incapable of any wrongdoing. The blame is always redirected at someone else, whether that’s you or other people in your life. The more they isolate you from other supportive people in your life, the more susceptible you’ll be to falsely believing that they’re right and you “don’t need” your other friends and family when you have someone as perfect as this person.

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6. They’re Emotionally Abusive

It’s hard enough to be in control of your own emotions but when someone else is constantly belittling you and your interests or leveraging guilt and shame to manipulate you into saying or doing what they want, this can make it even more challenging to stay in control of your own life and emotional well-being.

Emotional abuse is another sign of a controlling person that is often overlooked in relationships. After all, human personalities vary widely in terms of passivity, and it’s not uncommon for one person in a relationship to be significantly more passive than the other. This becomes an issue when the controlling partner or friend exudes signs of emotional abuse, which can start subtly and become much more pronounced over time.

Concerning signs of emotionally abusive language or behavior to watch out for include:

  • Dismissing your needs and/or belittling your interests in counterproductive ways
  • Privately or publicly shaming or humiliating you
  • Making you feel as though you can never live up to their expectations or do anything right (according to their own vague, subjective standards)
  • Gaslighting you into thinking they said or did something that never actually happened (making you question your own reality)

Final Thoughts

It’s sometimes hard to see the negative things about someone with whom we have a relationship. We may sometimes unconsciously overlook the signs of a controlling person, especially if that person is someone we have known for a long time or are close to us. However, cutting them off your life is the best thing you can do for yourself. Just watch out for these six signs of a controlling person and take immediate action when you spot them.

More Tips on How To Deal With a Controlling Person

Featured photo credit: Külli Kittus via unsplash.com

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