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10 Wise Lessons: What I Wish I Knew When I Was Younger

10 Wise Lessons: What I Wish I Knew When I Was Younger

As I recently celebrated another year of life and am entering a new phase of mid-life (whatever that is) I began to contemplate the lessons that I would pass on to my younger self.

Whether you are young or young at heart, it is never too late to change — or incorporate some new (and better) practices into your daily life.

Here are 10 wise lessons that I wish I knew when I was younger:

1. Don’t worry about what other people think of you.

I used to worry too much what others thought of me, of my decisions and of my actions. Eventually, I came to realize that if you’re wasting too much time seeking validation, respect or approval from others, then you won’t have time to accomplish all that you desire.

Everyone has an opinion, but in reality other’s opinions of you are based more on their history and perceptions than anything you’re actually doing. So while it’s good to ask for feedback, rely on your own assessment of you rather than others.

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2. Today is what’s important.

This is a biggie on so many levels. Enjoy every moment of today, because you are not guaranteed a tomorrow. Don’t put off your dreams. Don’t wait to do, try, enjoy all of those “someday” items. Don’t tell yourself I’ll do it tomorrow. If it’s important to you, then DO IT TODAY.

Pay attention to what is happening now, to the people around you, to the task at hand and to all of the choices you make today, big and small. What you do today, determines what tomorrow will bring. Our future is set by what we decide and act on today.

3. Let it go.

What happened yesterday is over. Those unmet expectations, difficult situations, failures and conflicts are in the past. You can’t change it, so let it go. Don’t waste your energy dwelling on anger, resentment or disappointment. It only keeps you stuck in the past and holds you back from moving forward in your life.

Also, learn to let the little things roll off your back. Insults, criticisms, setbacks — let them all go. Don’t hold on to old resentments or slights. They only weigh you down.

4. It’s called work for a reason.

Success at anything takes work. When you hear about an overnight success story, don’t forget about all of the work that came before. It takes time to build a career or a business, prep work, time to learn and fail, time to build a network and a team of mentors and supporters.

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You may have to do work you do not enjoy and trudge through the trenches of planning, building, refining, moving up, out, over  and redefining before you get to the place where success clicks. Keep going.

5. Believe in yourself.

You are your own worst critic, and so can you be your own best supporter. If you do not have confidence in your own value, abilities and contribution, then nobody else will either. You must have faith in your intrinsic worth. We each have something to offer that is necessary and valuable, though we may not know what that something is.

You do not have to be able to see the end zone. Just because you aren’t able to visualize where you might go and how you might succeed, that doesn’t mean it will not happen. And just because you may have made mistakes and have a string of failures behind you does not mean that you can’t achieve your goals in the future. You can do far more than you can imagine.

6. Don’t burn your bridges.

You never know when a former boss, colleague, business partner or acquaintance may come in handy. Try to part on good terms, stay on good terms and never gossip about former connections. Be respectful and open to possibilities.

Maintain and foster connections on all levels. Connect others and offer your help to those you know. A wide pool of friends, peers and connections of all kinds will provide a wealthy resource of ideas and support as you go forward in life. (The exception would be dishonest, disrespectful or offensive people. Cut em loose!)

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7. Money is not the most important thing.

Money is important. We all have bills to pay, I understand that completely. But in the end, or even in the middle, maybe especially in the middle, money is not the end goal. Satisfaction in a job well done, contributing to something worthwhile and finding something you enjoy doing (or figuring out how to enjoy what you do) are more motivating goals and certainly lend themselves to a happier and less stressful life.

Contrary to what you have been sold by the “lifestyles of the wealthy and happy” fallacy, money does not equate to happiness. Nor does it insulate you from pain, suffering and conflict or improve your relationships with those around you. Money is simply a currency that allows you to eat, dress and live. It is not a magic wand.

8. Don’t be afraid to stand up and stand out.

Take a stand. Speak up. Stand out from the crowd. If something is important to you, then stand up for it…even if it is unpopular. Never compromise your integrity. One person can make a difference and shed light on injustice or unfairness. If it’s not right, say so.

Be quirky, be different, be yourself. Don’t worry so much about conforming to society’s standards or whatever passes for the norm. While I do think it reasonable to be clean, respectful and considerate, I think we place too much emphasis on fitting in and being “appropriate.” This is not your grandmother’s world. Don’t be afraid to be yourself.

9. It’s not a race.

We have so much to do, so much to accomplish and it feels as though we have to be in a hurry to get there. It is likely that you will live upwards of 80 years. That is plenty of time to fit a whole host of wonderful endeavors into your life. People work into their 70s and 80s, have children into their 40s and change careers or start businesses at any age.

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You do not have to do it all at once. In fact, if you try to do it all at once you will, at best not have time to enjoy it and at worst burn out and damage your health and relationships. Slow down and take one thing at a time, one day at a time. Yes, make plans, but don’t be in such a rush 24/7.

10. Look for the good in everything.

Stay positive. Look for the good in people. Celebrate the happy moments, big and small. Search for the lesson and opportunity for growth in the difficult. Give helpful encouragement rather than negative criticism. Be helpful whenever possible.

This does not mean put on Pollyanna glasses and ignore the bad. Dishonesty, disrespect, unhappiness and evil exist and you will have to deal with them. But don’t let those difficulties color your experience. If you view the world around you and life’s challenges through the lens of goodness, then you will find life much more enjoyable.

Life is serious — and sometimes awful — but you can still be upbeat and hopeful. Otherwise, what’s the point?

Featured photo credit: Girl with bubbles via shutterstock.com

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How to Control Your Thoughts and Become the Master of Your Mind

How to Control Your Thoughts and Become the Master of Your Mind

Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality.

I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

1. The Inner Critic

This is your constant abuser. He is often a conglomeration of:

  • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
  • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
  • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
  • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

He is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

Why else would he abuse you? And since “he” is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

2. The Worrier

This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

He is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it.

Occasionally, he is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

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3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

He is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

He can be set off by words or feelings. He can even be set off by sounds and smells.

He has no real motivation; he has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

4. The Sleep Depriver

This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

His motivation can be:

  • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
  • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
  • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
  • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

How can you control these squatters?

How to Master Your Mind

You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

There are two ways to control your thoughts:

  • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
  • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

For the Inner Critic

When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

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You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

“Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

  • He riles up the Worrier.
  • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
  • He is often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
  • He is a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
  • He is the destroyer of self-esteem. He convinces you that you’re not worthy. He’s a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get him out!

Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

Replace him with your new best friend who supports, encourages, and enhances your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

For the Worrier

Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tense

Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

“Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

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Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

For example:

If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

“I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

“Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tension

I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

Breathe in through your nose:

  • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
  • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
  • Focus on your belly rising.

Breathe out through your nose:

  • Feel your lungs emptying.
  • Focus on your belly falling.
  • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

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One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

For the Sleep Depriver

(He’s made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

  1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
  2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

You can also use this technique any time you want to:

  • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
  • Shut down your thinking.
  • Calm your feelings.
  • Simply focus on the present moment. 

Becoming the Master of Your Mind

Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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