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Start Accepting Yourself, You’re Worth It

Do you ever feel like you are simply never good enough? As a serial perfectionist, I’ve struggled for years with self-acceptance. On the one hand, never settling keeps me striving to continuously better myself. But, as many of you know too well, the thirst for self-improvement is nearly always companioned by a shadow of self-deprecation and self-loathing. There is nearly always that cruel inner voice behind every small triumph, whispering with critical malevolence, making you feel horrible in even the best of circumstances.

Many of us are overly self-critical. A lot of adults, young or old, men or women, struggle with self-acceptance. Something so theoretically simple as loving, forgiving and nurturing yourself eludes so many of us. Why? Because we are taught to be perfect. We are taught to strive for the perfect bodies, the perfect wrinkle-less face, the perfect grades, the perfect house, the perfect lover, the perfect life.

We have made the ultimate goal of living perfection rather than joy and self-fulfillment, which is such a mind-wrecker. Know this: true perfection is impossible. It’s time to accept it. But, to be the happiest, best version of yourself, self-acceptance will make your imperfectly perfect life so much more beautiful. Here are a few tips I’ve learned on my journey to encourage your own self-acceptance:

Accept your successes.

I have the tendency to undervalue the work I’ve done and any progress I’ve made. A lot of people, especially women, I know have this tendency. Yeah, it sounds like I did something awesome, but when you think about it, it really isn’t THAT impressive. Stop belittling your success. Be proud of what you have accomplished and take full credit for it. You deserve to feel proud. Pride in your work is one of the first steps to being comfortable with who you are.

Self-acceptance is not arrogance.

I never want to appear arrogant. I find it a distasteful quality. However, in my quest to avoid arrogance, I sometimes practice so much humility that I become incapable of accepting the compliments and niceties of others. I martyr myself in my humility, boosting others up while pushing myself further and further down. But it’s not doing anyone any favors to dismiss compliments or positivity. We should all accept more positivity into our lives. Allow yourself to receive what you’ve earned and know that you truly deserve it.

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Forget about the past.

Many of the self-acceptance issues I have struggled with arise from the ghosts of my past—namely the body dysmorphia I suffered as a professional dancer. Self-acceptance means being content with yourself in the present. Forget about your past. Stop defining your present by the ghosts behind you. You, in this very moment, are enough. You are worthy. Accept yourself as you are, not as you were.

Stop seeking the approval of others.

The only approval that matters, in the end, is your own. In the wise words of Chance the Rapper: “I don’t wanna be cool. I just wanna be me.” Be who you want to be. Stop focusing on what others want. Sure, you can try to please others. But in order to accept yourself, you have to make yourself a priority. Screw what everyone else thinks. As long as you are happy and no one else is being caused any pain, putting yourself first should be something we all strive for.

Spend time alone.

It’s easy to fill your schedule with dinners, drinks, work, family functions, et cetera. But, without some alone time, you are effectively hiding your true self from yourself. Everyone needs alone time to check in with themselves—to see how you feel, to process any new or outdated beliefs, to reassess how you are generally doing as a modern human. By avoiding alone time, you are perpetuating the fear that you are not enough on your own. Know that you are enough. Take yourself out to dinner and enjoy it. Go solo on a movie date. You’ll soon learn that when you’re solo, you’re more awesome than you could ever begin to imagine.

The key to self-acceptance is knowing that you, as you are right now, are enough. Yes, it takes a little bit of courage to begin to truly accept yourself for who you are, but every step brings you a little more self-empowerment, bit by bit. Self-acceptance can be a slow process. With every two steps of gain, it can sometimes feel like you are dragged a step and a half backwards by those mean voices inside your mind. But remember, even if you go backwards, you are still moving forward—steadily, steadily. Keep on, because the journey to you is so worth it.

By: Jordyn Cormier         October 17, 2016
source: www.care2.com
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11 Tips To Feel Calm and Focused: A Psychiatrist Explains

by Dr. Joseph Annibali      January 6, 2016

In this excerpt from Dr. Joseph Annibali, M.D.’s new book, Reclaim Your Brain: How to Calm Your Thoughts, Heal Your Mind, and Bring Your Life Under Control, the leading psychiatrist explains why getting negativity under control is crucial to a calm, mindful brain — and how to do it.

When I first began to explore the “busy-brain” phenomenon — or when a chaotic brain interferes with our attention, focus, and mood — I quickly recognized a pattern in those who have it. Many of these individuals also struggled with excess negativity. It was as if not only were their brains caught in a loop but that loop was almost uniformly negative.

The reality is that the brain is hardwired for negativity.

Why would our brains make us so negative? The reality is that the brain is hardwired for negativity. Studies of brain development and observations about early traumas support this.

But negativity is not unalterable. First, it’s important to recognize that we all have an inner critic or judge inside our heads. Second, it’s important to understand that the critical stranger actually is an invader. Because the negativity isn’t you; it’s your brain activity.

Let me reemphasize that: You are not just your brain; you are not just your thoughts. Why do I make this claim? Well, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. The brain is a key part of who we are, yes. But we find that the real us is beyond our thoughts.

This is why Buddhist and other meditative traditions claim that we find ourselves only beyond our thoughts, apart from our thoughts, in a state of mental peace, often in meditation or silence. Our heart beats, but we are not our heartbeat. Our brain thinks, but we are not our thoughts.

That’s why you can learn to separate yourself from the rampant negativity in your brain. And in separating yourself from your poisonous negativity, you can calm your busy brain.

Here are some of the strategies I recommend:

1. Detach yourself from the negative thoughts.

Remember, “You are not just your brain; you are not your thoughts.” Thoughts arise automatically, just like the heart beats automatically and we breathe automatically. We don’t control our thoughts. And yet they can control us if we let them.

If we remind ourselves that our brain makes our negative thoughts, that we are not our brain, we gain much-needed distance from our negative thoughts. They happen; that’s it. Don’t fight them.

But we can think about our thinking. We can put things into perspective: Our thoughts are not facts. With practice and experience, we can learn to more automatically gain distance from our negative thoughts. Try observing the flow of negativity in your mind, the way you might sit on the bank of a stream and watch the water flow by. You might even view your negativity as a scientist would: “Oh, how interesting that there are self-critical thoughts occurring now.”

Another way to create distance and detachment is what I call the “Ronald Reagan Approach.” In his presidential election debates with Walter Mondale, Mr. Reagan repeatedly and quite effectively said to Mr. Mondale, “There you go again.” Tell yourself, “There’s my brain being negative again.”

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2. Distract yourself.

Pour yourself into something productive and positive, or at least seek out a change of gears.

When we’re preoccupied with something we enjoy (a crossword puzzle, a good book, a game of catch) or even just find something to absorb us (take a coffee break or talk to a colleague), it gives our system a chance to calm down and our thoughts a chance to refocus from negative to more neutral, if not positive.

3. Remember your values.

Remind yourself what your values are. If you are ruminating over negative thoughts and decisions, refocusing on your core values will help reduce the negativity.

4. Practice gratitude.

Embrace an attitude of gratitude. Write down three things for which you are grateful. Studies show that simply writing down what you are grateful for can really change the brain and improve mood, moving you away from negativity.

5. Shun the “shoulds.”

Get out of what I call the “Cold Shower of Shoulds.” Among the torment of negative thinking that afflicts us often is a constant flood of “shoulds”: I should do this … I should do that …

This Cold Shower of Shoulds is nothing but destructive. Once we become more aware of our tendency to stay too long in this destructive shower, we have a better chance of stepping out of this negative shower stall.

6. Mentally twist the dial.

Imagine that there’s a dial on the side of your head that you could use to turn down the negative thoughts. Actually envision yourself turning down the negativity by twisting the dial.

7. Have a laugh.

Can you find the humor in what the negative critic is saying to you? Laughter can be the best medicine. Make fun of the negative thoughts. Laugh at them and yourself for believing them … but make sure that you do so gently.


8. Power up your problem solving.

If the negative thoughts relate to a clear problem (e.g., a serious health issue), make a list of the steps you can take to deal with the situation. Break down the potential solution into small, achievable steps you can take to improve things.

9. Find the positive.

Try to find the positive in what seems to be a negative situation. Turning around a negative thought often shows us another side of the situation. A problem or crisis can even be an opportunity. Search for it.

10. Breathe.

Take slow, deep breaths. This relaxes the body and the brain and reduces brain overactivity.

11. Move your body.

Do something physical; exercise. Don’t stay stuck and immobile, literally and metaphorically.

Reprinted from Reclaim Your Brain – Avery Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company    Joseph A. Annibali, M.D.


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4 Science-Backed Tips For Achieving Your Dreams

by Dr. Emma Seppälä    February 9, 2016

Whether it’s New Year’s resolutions or any other milestone we want to achieve, most of us give up on that career goal, diet, mindfulness practice, or exercise regimen we committed to however long ago. All too often, our efforts fail, and we find ourselves unable to detach our backsides from the sofa and our hands from the chocolate.

There’s a scientific reason for this. You’ve basically got self-control fatigue. The good news, however, is that research also shows that keeping your resolution doesn’t have to be hard.

In a classic study by willpower psychologist Roy Baumeister, researchers baked chocolate chip cookies, filling their lab with a wonderful aroma. They then brought in research participants. Some participants were invited to eat the chocolate chip cookies and a bowl of chocolates laid out before them. Others were invited into the same delicious-smelling lab but told to eat the unappetizing radishes that were displayed right next to tempting cookies and chocolates.

Then both groups were given an exercise: to work on a puzzle that was, unbeknownst to them, unsolvable. The researchers found that participants who had exerted self-control by eating radishes and avoiding the tempting cookies and chocolates gave up trying to solve the puzzle much more quickly than those who had eaten the chocolates (or a control group that had not been shown the chocolates or radishes).

Why is this? Self-control actually exhausts us, it’s a limited resource like gasoline or the charge on your cellphone. The more you use it, the less you have it. Researchers have found that it literally depletes your blood sugar. Ever wondered why you are more likely to binge on ice cream at night? Self-control literally gets depleted as the day goes on

After all, we are using self-control all day long at work.

From dawn to dusk we do our best to:

1. Control our impulses.

This could mean staying on task as opposed to giving up or giving way to distractions (like checking Facebook) or temptations (like leaving work early to meet friends).

2. Control our performance.

This means persisting and giving your best despite feeling tired.

3. Control our behavior and emotions.

This could be maintaining a professional tone and demeanor even when the work atmosphere is unpleasant or your colleagues or managers make decisions you do not agree with.

4. Control our thoughts.

We fight to focus on our work despite the many daydreams, thoughts, and fantasies that pop into our minds.

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Here’s how to stop letting willpower fatigue get the best of you.

1. Remember, the morning is golden.

Self-control is stronger In the morning since you’ve had all night to replenish it. What does this mean?

If you are resolving to exercise more, do it in the morning.

If you are trying to stick to a diet, make your meals for the day, and make sure you throw everything that’s not on your diet out of the house.

If your goal is to write a book or finish a huge work project (or do your taxes early for once!), set aside the first hours of the day to do so.

2. Manage your energy by staying calmer.

Staying calm makes you powerful. Research shows that Americans prefer “high-intensity” emotions like excitement, or even stress. Think about it: people drink coffee and wait until the last minute to do things because they depend on adrenaline to get their work done. The consequence of both excitement and stress, however, is that they fatigue the body. And the more tired you are, the less self-control you have. So, you need to manage your energy.

You plug your cellphone in to charge it: Do the same thing with yourself. In particular, participate in activities that help you stay calm so you won’t get depleted so fast: yoga, meditation, and breathing exercises. Do this even if it means taking a break in the middle of the workday. Why? Research shows that when you do something liked meditation or prayer — even for a short while — it can fill your self-control tank back up.

3. Relax in other areas of your life.

Don’t make too many resolutions or try to exert self-control in too many new areas of your life at once. Keep things easy and relaxed in some domains (e.g., let the house be messy) so you’re not draining yourself by employing self-control in every aspect of your life and at all times of the day. Choose where self-control is important (e.g., at work) and give yourself some slack in the rest of your life.

4. Focus on the end goal.

As neuroscientist Elliott Berkman points out, “when you are working on things you really want to be working on, you are less likely to become depleted.” He argues that if you remember what the end goal of your resolution is — presumably — something you want, you can muster up the energy it takes to exert that self-control.

By following these tips, you’ll see that it is possible to keep you resolutions, to have more willpower, and to achieve your goals. So go ahead and make the most of those mornings, stay chill, cut yourself some slack, and keep your eyes on the prize.

Emma Seppälä is a psychologist and the Science Director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford’s School of Medicine.  This article is excerpted from her just-published book “The Happiness Track: How to apply the science of happiness to accelerate your success,” published by HarperOne, 2016.


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The Surprising Key to Increasing Your Willpower

Research into the unexpected impact of pride on our self-discipline.

Your emotions play a significant role in your behavior. Being aware of those emotions, and how they influence your choices, can help you take steps to improve your self-discipline.

When you’re feeling bored with a project, for example, you may be less productive. You may stare off into space and grow distracted by just about everything going on around you.

On the other hand, when you feel excited about a project, you may be able to sit down and accomplish your task with intense focus. It’s much easier to exercise willpower—and tune out potential distractions—when you’re happy.

While there has been a lot of research into the link between emotion and self-control, a new study published in the Journal of Consumer Research (link is external) examined the specific role pride plays in self-discipline.

Through a series of experiments, researchers concluded that under certain circumstances, pride increases self-control. But in other circumstances, pride gives people a license to indulge. The difference in whether pride increased or decreased self-control depended on the source of participants’ pride.

Pride boosted self-control when participants didn’t have a previously established self-control goal. Their pride stemmed from feeling good about who they are. If however, participants were already working toward a goal, pride led to self-destructive behavior. Their pride resulted from what they did.

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What It Means for You

The more pride you feel about your accomplishments toward your goal, the less likely you are to exercise self-control. Telling yourself, “I’ve done a great job already,” gives you permission to reward yourself. Ironically, even pride over your ability to demonstrate self-control decreases your will.

If you were dining out with a friend, and out of the blue your friend says, “Wow, you look like you’ve lost weight,” your feelings of pride could very well lead you to order a healthy meal. If however, you’d set a goal to lose 20 pounds a month ago, that same compliment could decrease your self-control. Your pride may cause you to think, “I’ve done well eating healthy and my hard work shows. I deserve a burger and fries today.”

Of course, none of this is to suggest that you shouldn’t establish goals that require self-discipline. Instead, be mindful of the ways your emotions can increase or decrease your motivation to stay on track.

How to Use Pride to Your Advantage

Self-discipline may come easily to you in some areas of your life. Perhaps you’ve successfully turned exercise into a daily habit. Or maybe you stick to your monthly budget with incredible perseverance. But there may also be one or two areas in which you just can’t seem to get your behavior under control.

Here are some strategies for using pride to your advantage:

  • Be aware of your emotions. Recognize how you’re feeling, and how those feelings influence your thoughts and behavior. Self-awareness is key to self-control.
  • Remind yourself that it’s OK to feel pride. Feeling pride about your achievements isn’t bad; it’s what you do with those feelings that matters.
  • Don’t allow pride to turn into overconfidence. Recognize how your prideful feelings may cause you to start thinking you’ve earned the right to overindulge.
  • Make a list of all the reasons why you should stay on track. Write down all the reasons why you should stick to your goals. When you’re low on willpower, reread the list. That should help balance your emotions with logic.

Pride in who you are, not what you’ve accomplished, is the key to self-discipline.

Amy Morin     Sep 28, 2015

Source: AmyMorinLCSW.com
Amy Morin is a keynote speaker, psychotherapist, and the author of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do (link is external), a bestselling book that is being translated into more than 20 languages. 


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5 Ways To Turn Weakness Into Willpower

As Oscar Wilde once said: “I can resist anything except temptation.”

That’s something most of us can relate to. If you’re not one of us, then well done.

For the rest of us, though, there will come a time when we need to ‘not’ do something we want to do. Don’t smoke that cigarette, don’t eat that cake, or skip the soda!

As nice as life is, it is often one long list of temptations that need to be avoided. So what do we do when we are having trouble saying “no” or are fearful of trying something new? We dig deep for the willpower to push us through. Sometimes that’s easier said than done.

TO HELP US OUT, HERE ARE FIVE WAYS TO STRENGTHEN OUR WILLPOWER:

1. PLAN THE OUTCOME

In the words of Greg S. Reid: “A dream written down with a date becomes a goal. A goal broken down into steps becomes a plan. A plan backed by action makes your dreams come true.”

There are three critical components of that statement:

  • Writing it down.
  • Breaking it down.
  • Taking action.

We are often guilty of short-term thinking, only seeing what is in front of us. Instead, we should be looking at a bigger picture. So start by writing it down. It will help you become crystal clear about the direction you want to head. Then break it down into manageable parts, so the big goal seems attainable. Then, find the willpower within to take the first step and when you do, your willpower will grow stronger. It’s like a muscle, and it gets better with exercise. So exercise it!

2. AVOID IT!

Avoid situations where there is a need to make tough decisions. Tough decisions will deplete willpower fast. For example, a person who wishes to stop drinking would do well to avoid bars for a while. However, hanging out at the juice bar at the gym will help strengthen willpower, because there isn’t a difficult choice to make.

choice

 

3. REWARD YOURSELF.

Yes, when we do good things we like to be rewarded. Collect the money saved from not buying that packet of cigarettes. Collect in a jar and keep it visible. After a period, take the money and splurge on something frivolous like a spa day or new pair of boots. Like any other goals you have written down, focus on them, visualize them and embed that picture in your mind, permanently.

You strengthen your willpower when you remain focused on positive results. Draw on those feelings of success when faced with difficult choices, and you’re more likely to choose wisely.

4. BE ACCOUNTABLE.

Accountability partners are a great way to strengthen our willpower because we are more likely to do what we are supposed to do when we have to report back to someone. The added benefit is we get to call on the willpower of our partner when our willpower is lacking. Friends can achieve a lot together; that’s why they’re friends, and everyone can find a friend or a colleague who has similar goals.

Look at it another way; there is a reason that ‘clubs’ are popular, things like gyms, weight watchers, etc.  They will keep us honest, grounded, and moving forward.  Now, you don’t necessarily need to join a club; just gather a few friends and set up an accountability group.

5. STAY THE COURSE.

If there have been times in the past when we have fallen at the feet of temptation, remember those times and gather strength from them. We should never, ever, take our eye off the prize. Think about it; what changed?  Was it:

The goal? Unlikely.

The dream holiday? Unlikely.

The dream dress we’re trying to squeeze into? Unlikely.

Any other goal? Unlikely.

Instead, we probably gave in to temptation once, then twice, then three times and soon realized we failed. So we gave up. We will continue to fail until the time we don’t and that time maybe the next time.

Making change is hard. In fact, we are designed to resist change. So it might be unrealistic to think we can get there on the first try. But with each try and a clear focus on the goal, you will build the willpower to keep trying until you get it right.

Face it, without a little failure we would have no stories to tell or lessons to learn. Think once again about the goal and measure the triumphs one step at a time. When we stay the course, make a plan, avoid situations that will make things more challenging, find some friends, and then reward ourselves for each step, we will soon learn the day of achieving our big goals is closer than we think.