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How to Change Your Life By Exploring

How to Change Your Life By Exploring

High up above the city, I stood in my boss’s office, looking out the vast window. To the left, the tallest volcano was far off but still loomed large over the city. On the right, the sprawling lake lay out before me, its far shore only a faint line of mountains in the distance.

The office door opened, and my boss walked in straight to his desk. He motioned for me to sit down, as he sat down at his computer, peering at his monitor through the lower half of his glasses.

I took my seat in a chair across his desk and took a deep breath, trying to make it as silent as possible. Telling your boss you want to quit isn’t easy, but hiding the anxiety is better than letting it show.

And so I began.

I told him there wasn’t enough work for me to do because I was being blocked off by certain people. I told him that, instead of sitting around idly, I could become a consultant for the company, providing value as soon as there’s actual work to be done.

He tried to convince me to stay, telling me that it was up to me to fix the internal communication problems and get myself in front of clients.

Kindly, I said: “My life’s work isn’t about fighting people for a pat on the back or an award. My life’s work is about reaching people, helping people. If I can’t do that here, I’ll go do that somewhere else.”

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He shifted in his chair and brought his feet up to rest on his desk, one beside the other. Sighing, he rested his head on his hand and agreed.

I didn’t know where I was going or what I would do, but I knew that I would figure it out by exploring my options.

As of this writing, it’s been nearly two years since I walked out of that corporate office forever. I still have not received a single phone call from them. Not a single project to work on. I jumped at the right time. Without a single project to work on, they would’ve ushered me down the plank soon after. Instead of waiting for them to open the door for me, I steered clear of their issues and opened my own doors.

I wasn’t sure where my own doors would lead me, but things don’t always have to make sense.

That’s the main lesson I’ve gotten from starting a blog on a whim, writing books, and starting my own company.

Every single time I do something out of sheer exploration (with no real end in mind), crazy things happen.

I was scared to speak at a TEDx event, and I wasn’t too sure what I’d speak about, but I took the stage and had a blast.

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My business’s first year was more or less wasted on the wrong kind of clients because I had no clue what services I wanted to offer, but I’ve learned so much now that I’m implementing in a better version of my business.

I’ll be nervous to press Publish on this article, but I’ll feel glad I shared my experiences afterward.

That’s not to say things always out turn out wonderfully. I’ve made huge mistakes (like working with disrespectful clients or letting the wrong people onto my business’s founding team), and I have yet to find the “silver lining” of these mistakes. But these roundabout mistakes have all contributed to where I am today.

If I hadn’t been open to exploring, I don’t know that I’d have picked up all of these different experiences, lessons, bruises and opportunities along the way.

1. Opening Up to Possibilities

The first months after I quit my job were so serene. I woke up and did what I wanted to do each day–I wrote. I’ll never forget how peaceful and zen I felt making my tea each morning, sitting down for two or three hours of uninterrupted writing.

I didn’t rush. I bathed in the possibilities to come.

As time went on, I didn’t always make the right choices, but they were my own explorations of the possibilities. Some of those choices turned out to be incredibly right.

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A few weeks ago, I received an email out of the blue from my master’s program in Spain. They wanted to know if I’d get on a plane and come speak to their incoming students? My answer: hell yes!

This is a great opportunity, to be sure, but what’s more important is how quickly I was able to say yes. Leading a flexible and open-minded lifestyle means I am able to switch things up and do amazing things, like going to Spain to speak.

For that, I’m so grateful.

2. Enhance Creativity

When we’re nose-down in tasks and beeping phones and incoming emails, it’s difficult to let our creativity reach its potential.

They say it’s healthy to take a new route home or to brush your teeth with your left hand just to get your brain out of its comfort zone. While I do agree that changing things up can help you do that, I also think its helpful to passionately explore new areas.

That means reading books that are outside of your industry just because they spark your curiosity. That means watching a silly movie just because you need a moment to refuel your batteries. That means calling up an old friend just because you miss who you were when you hung out with her.

Mind-wandering allows the brain to focus its attention on more distant tasks and issues in a unique way, allowing you to approach them in ways you’d never considered.

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When we’re trying to perform, perform, perform, we might just be scaring our ideas away.

3. Identifying the “Wall”

Sometimes, I go for a long run. When I do, there is always a moment between the second and third mile that will almost stop me in my tracks. I’m tired, out of breath, and my body wants to be anywhere but here. I call this “The Wall”.

“The Wall” is temporary–every single time.

Not everything in life is easy. Many of the examples I mentioned above (like working with difficult clients) weren’t easy to go through, but they all taught me one thing:

Hitting a tough moment is much easier when you can recognize it as such–because every tough moment passes.

The beautiful part is this: if you start exploring knowing it will be an adventure, you can identify a rough patch as you’re sitting in it and think, “This is that tough moment I knew would come eventually. It will pass.”

And the next moment is much more beautiful.

Allowing myself to explore opened up entire fields of possibility that I never knew existed. Are you interested in exploring more in your life about yourself, your loved ones, and the world? Share your stories in the comments.

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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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