Friday, January 22, 2010
Keeping with the Self Theme of 2010: "Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference."~Winston Churchill. Your attitude on a daily basis is shaped by your overall thought patterns. Some people are naturally more positive or negative than others and that’s ok. However there are some patterns of thinking that alter your life in major ways. Toxic Thinking Patterns or (TTPs) are ways of thinking that eventually lead you away from personal success. Let’s discuss.
1) The Rebel: The "Experience Everything Yourself" Effect:
A lot of younger individuals fall victim to this. Experience is a great teacher, but it would unwise for it to be your ONLY teacher. Yet I hear people say this all the time: "I just need to find out for myself." Exploration in life is fine and actually encouraged but make sure that you pay attention to the examples around your life. Some people are placed in your life as walking illustrations so you don't HAVE to partake in a similar situation because you already know the likely outcome. Most people succumb to this thought pattern because they believe they are above the law. The Rebel always says things like “Oh that wouldn’t happen to me” or “so and so didn’t do it right, I am going to do it right!” They truly believe that their situation will not turn out in the most common fashion. But you like everyone else are susceptible to likely outcomes. For example, if you take a mate from their partner thinking you can do better; chances are they will do the exact same thing to you that they did to their previous partner because THAT is the most likely outcome. Rebels are on a road to destruction because they live a life that is constantly on the edge of ruin. They pride themselves on the thing that is most detrimental to them: Fearlessness. SOME fear is a good thing. If you line up a group of children and you let one of them burn their hand on the stove, the children that have a healthy fear of what they saw will never get burned. The “fearless” children will suffer from blisters the rest of their lives. Don’t be a burn victim.
2) The Chicken: The "Never Leaving the Porch" Effect:
The opposite of the rebel is the chicken. This is the person who never experiences anything. The quintessential kid stuck on the porch because they are scared of being hurt. Taking the child example from the Rebel, the Chicken upon seeing the fire, completely nixes fire out of their life; they never cook, they never light a fireplace, and they miss those perfectly positive experiences. The Chicken is on the road to destruction because they are stagnant. By being afraid to take chances, they miss the opportunities in their life for growth.
3) The Reckless Romantic: The "Being In Love with Love" Effect:
It seems like a sweet notion to be entranced with every epic love story and fantasize about Mr. Perfect and Ms. Wonderful but in actuality you are doing yourself a disservice. These stories are great jumping off points to make a model of what you really want and need out of your relationships with people. One thing that I often find is that The Reckless Romantic is on the path to destruction because they do not wait for their perfect soul mate but instead try to MAKE them. WE all want love; we all want to be wanted by particular people in our lives. But if it is not working out how you want it, do you start to obsess? Do you look for ways to keep a relationship together that should have been torn apart years ago? Do you find yourself being devious just to get your way? Do you stalk their social networks and try to put yourself in positions where they will have to talk to you? If you do this, you are not determined, you are reckless. You are stopping that other person and you from moving on to healthier frontiers. Now where is that in the movies?
4) The Victim: The "Woe is Me" Effect:
We all know people or are people that just can’t seem to catch a break. Circumstances outside of your control are always bearing down on you. There is no more helpless a feeling than the feeling of not being in the driver’s seat of your own life. The Victim is the saddest of the TTPs because it’s very easy to slip into their thought pattern. As John Gardner would say: “Self-pity is easily the most destructive of the non-pharmaceutical narcotics; it is addictive, gives momentary pleasure and separates the victim from reality.” Basically being the victim is the easiest way to deal with your issues. Standing against the storm is much harder than curling in a ball and crying until it is finished. The Victim is on the path to destruction because victims will ALWAYS be victims. It is a mentality. It will start to spread to every aspect of your life until you find yourself weaponless to deal with anything that could rear its ugly head. Soon you start to believe that even things you could change are hopeless. Victims rarely make it to achieve their dreams.
5) The Nose Turner: The "I Told You So" Effect:
You really do get what you say. The Nose Turners are those people that are always predicting something negative to happen in their lives. Sure, they have great excuses to back up their cynicism but in actuality they are blocking their own life positives. They always say things like: “Oh girl I keep finding these men that are dogs” or “Man you know I can’t find a job in this economy” or “Stuff always happens to me!” Then when things happen along those lines, they go back to their favorite, character defining phrase “I Told You So.” Now you may be wondering why I separated The Victim from The Nose Turner. The difference between the two is that the victim takes a passenger side view of life. They are constantly allowing outside factors to sway them. The Nose Turner is in COMPLETE control of their life but they’re steering down the wrong side of the road. Their lives are the way they are because they MAKE them the way that they are. Let’s take the “Oh girl I keep finding these men that are dogs” woman. Every man on the planet is not on negativity so chances are the reason you run into this situation has something to do with you. Maybe your selection of males needs fine tuning. Maybe you don’t know how to spot a good man. Maybe you haven’t cultivated characteristics in yourself that a good man would be attracted to. The Nose Turner’s path to destruction is in their predictions. They constantly make judgments BEFORE the situation is fully developed. Your mind then starts to believe what you are saying and you subconsciously make it so. I mean who doesn’t want to be right?
6) The Chess Player: The "Tit For Tat" Effect
Anything you can do, I can do better. Anything you do to be, I can do back to you harder. The Chess Player is an individual who is always on the defensive. People who are always talking about the things other people and world did to them and how they will get their revenge. “My boss rolled his eyes at me so I’m going to cuss him out and quit.” Now you are out of a job. The Chess Player lets their focus on other situations hinder their own progress. The Chess Player’s road to destruction is that their need for defense blocks their offense. Some things you should just let roll off your back. I always say people would be better off if they really knew how little time people spend thinking about them let alone plotting against them. The best way to play the game of life is a strong offense and a stable defense, i.e. I am focused on making myself better and if problem arise, I handle them. Simple as that.
These Toxic Thinking Patterns are the most popular ones. These are not the only TTP’s and I will be updating my blog with others as they become more prominent. The key to change is acknowledgement and we all are guilty of TTP situations, however never let these patterns start to rule how you think in general. Know what they are so that when they arise you can address them. Hope this Helps!
Monday, January 18, 2010
Alone time is a simple concept but it is very hard to initiate. We have a craving for human connection at all times but I have found that when I am immersed in other people, I am rarely immersed in myself. Being alone sometimes does not mean you are lame or antisocial, it is a necessary component of growth spiritually emotionally or mentally. So let's delve into the benefits of rolling solo every now and then:
1) Good for Self-Realization:
Many of the big epiphanies I have concluded I have come to when I was alone. People drown out your inner voice, not on purpose, but you really can't listen to two things at once. That is why the people who spend the majority of their lives alone are usually wiser than your people pleasers and lives of the party (no they are not the same but that's another blog). If people were the road to self-actualization, then the stars of the world, admired by all, surrounded by everyone would be the most sound and enlightened people in the world. As we all know, it usually doesn't pan out like that. Instead people have know for years via meditation, time outs for children, etc. that if you get a minute alone, you usually work out your own problems. So do yourself a favor and allow that time alone naturally. You do not have to be stagnant; in your time alone you can write poetry, music, letters. You can admire nature while you think. Let your mind wander naturally to things you don't allow yourself to think about during a normal day. Don't depress yourself but the more you work your intelligence, the more control you will have over the way it functions and the emotions it brings. Your mind like every other part of your body must be exercised;most of the time, people are not a good mental workout.
2) Gives You Time to See Your World:
Some of us live a "can't see the forest for the trees" lifestyle. The individuals around us block our view of our life. Have you ever not hung around someone for a few days and start to realize "I don't even like hanging around them. Why do I do it?" That is because that individual is in your face so much that you are not allowed time with your thoughts. Trust me, a few days alone will allow you to see where the cracks in the foundation of your life exist. You will start to realize who is toxic and who you cannot live without. You will start to realize things you would like to change and make better whether it be career, education, or lifestyle wise. In the last few weeks, I have stepped AWAY from my life and my purpose has been fulfilled. I now have no doubts on WHAT I should be doing right now with my life as a whole and WHO was stunting my growth to that destination.
3) No Drama!:
Hand in Hand with Number 3: If you find yourself prone to a drama filled life, being by yourself is just plain relaxing. It gives you the time and mental functioning to not make the drama worse and how to alleviate the problems in your life. You may find that you like your new found serenity more than the hustle and bustle of the everyday and make changes toward making your peace permanent.
4) Increases Productivity:
There is nothing more productive than being by yourself! We all know this. When we shut off our phones, turn on our mind and get working, we are always shocked how much we get accomplished. I know I am. The other day I wrote a paper in record time and I was like "Wow, why don't I just do this all the time?" People are an awesome distraction but a distraction nonetheless. Believe me, you will be mad at yourself and those people years down the line when you find yourself not where you want to be. And the crazy part about it is that THEY are probably getting closer to their goals everyday. So do us all a favor and live up to your maximum productive potential.
"I restore myself when I'm alone." -Marilyn Monroe. Being alone is like the water to your system. People don't drink water like they should and people don't spend enough time alone like they should. That is saying that everything you drink must be water just like people have their places in your life too. But when you take those moments to be alone, you grow into a more self aware, more productive, wiser person. Who doesn't want that? Hope this helps.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
We have all heard hurting people hurt people. Well they also hurt themselves. Pain is one of those emotions that can easily be disguised and not properly taken care of; it WILL eat away at you. I encounter more people in pain everyday than I do anything else. And I always ask myself "Do they know they are wearing their pain on their sleeve?" Pain does not only come from relationships, which I touched on earlier. There are sources of pain so deep that you've been in constant pain since your childhood. I've been in pain and it is such an abysmal place to be. It’s time to get rid of the hurt and disapproval of ourselves. So today's blog is addressed to those people who may not know they are hurting. And because we are focused on positivity, I will follow each one with ways to combat it.
1) Something Terrible Happened: If a tragedy happens in your life, the pain is SOMEWHERE. Especially African Americans, we don't deal with deaths and disappointments but you did feel something and if you don't address it, it will manifest itself into every aspect of your life. You can't expect to be back to emotional green after some tragedies occur. Nobody is that strong, we weren't created to be. Get help, whether it is a counselor, a pastor, or a friend, talk it out. Do it for your mental and emotional future.
2) Everyday occurrences cause destruction: There are days when things go wrong. And when these things occur, you may feel like saying "Damn!" or kicking something. But when little things happening throughout your day always seem to summon a complete meltdown, you are in pain. That dude you can't stand saying something off the wall shouldn't elicit an outburst. Your car overheating shouldn't land you in the bed crying the rest of the day. If you always feel like: "If one more thing happens, I will lose it", there's something behind the veil you have not dealt with or dealt with properly.
3) You're constantly negative: Have people made comments to you like,"Dang why are you so negative" or "Hater!". If you get these all the time, chances are there is an underlying pain to your cynicism. There are two different types of negative people: Theoretically negative and Aspect negative. Let's start with theoretically negative people or people that think that as a whole the world is just a dismal place. People that are happy are said to see the world through "rose colored glasses." Negative people see through pitch black ones. Every situation similar to yours has to be commented on as if it were exactly like yours, am I right? The "men always aint shit" women, the "women are all the same" men, or my favorites: the "you just can't get ahead in the world" people. We all know them. Soon people will start pulling away from you. There's nothing worse than someone who you know will always answer your questions negatively. It may also stop your future friends and relationship from coming to fruition as well.
Aspect negative people are those people that are always picking on characteristics and traits in particular people. "Girl her hair is cute!"..."Nah she needs a perm and that style is outdated, did you know she's a ho?" Yeah those people. Usually this comes from a physical pain. Hint if you don't know why you say these things. The things you pick on in other people are USUALLY the traits you are most uncomfortable in yourself. Most people who are always commenting on other people being unattractive, usually don’t think they’re attractive at all. And that’s REAL. And if you are that negative person, your friends have noticed. So ask them, do I do these things? They'll tell you (Will they!). Seeing flaws in other people usually comes from a physical pain. Maybe you got picked on for being bigger when you were little and now bigger people get on your nerves. etc.
4) You are overly sensitive and paranoid: This one is the saddest ones to me and I know by experience. I've been there. The classic "everyone has planned their days out to make me feel bad" person. Someone doesn't call them back in 10 minutes and they go into convulsions like the person is laughing at them while their phone is going off. You hear your coworkers whispering and you automatically think they are talking about you. This pain usually is caused by some pain associated with your physical appearance. I'm not appealing because I'm too short, dark, big, etc. It makes you believe everyone sees you the way you see yourself. Like I've said before, realistically, most people don't care enough about you to conspire against you. I know you're saying: "Ashley, you're mean" Nope! When you get that in your head, it instantly cures paranoia. Think about when you're happy, how little you think about the average person around you. You don't. You're in your own little world. So are they. So buck up, your insecurities are in your head. People don’t see you the way you see yourself, Thank God!
5) You find it hard to be motivated: The "What's the point?" person is a real downer for themselves and others. Everyday is a struggle to get menial tasks done. This pain is usually tied to something spiritual or mental. You start to feel like whatever you do, it just is not enough to change anything. You have to be careful. This one can turn into full blown depression and that is all bad.
The Way to Stop it?
1) Find the Root: Be honest. The most beautiful people in the world have admitted flaws. Admit you don't like your hair or wish you could be smarter. It's okay. If you know what really hurts, you can treat it. It's like something on your body hurting; you can't apply Neosporin if you do not know where the cut is.
2) Kill IT: There is no one stop fix pain shop unfortunately, especially for the deep rooted problems. The best way to kill pain is to work on it. Whatever area you are weakest in find ways to make yourself stronger in that area. If one of your pains comes from being overweight, eat healthier, go to the gym, and buy clothes and accessories that fit and make you feel slimmer in the process. If you don't feel adequately smart, read books or try taking on a new language so you can be proud of your mental accomplishments. If you feel like the world is unfair, get closer to achieving a dream no one can stop you from achieving: find people to cut your album, apply to a degree program, or write a blog. :) Most "flaws" can be corrected by dedication. It also corrects that struggle to be motivated.
I hope this helped. I felt an urge to write about this so I feel like someone needed it. (I had something else planned for today). It’s just an introduction. Pain is a tricky thing but as usually this will start you down a more positive direction. More blogs on this topic to come. You are beautiful and undeserving of pain. That's my word. :)
“People are afraid of themselves, of their own reality; their feelings most of all. People talk about how great love is, but that's bullshit. Love hurts. Feelings are disturbing. People are taught that pain is evil and dangerous. How can they deal with love if they're afraid to feel? Pain is meant to wake us up. People try to hide their pain. But they're wrong. Pain is something to carry, like a radio. You feel your strength in the experience of pain. It's all in how you carry it. That's what matters. Pain is a feeling. Your feelings are a part of you. Your own reality. If you feel ashamed of them, and hide them, you're letting society destroy your reality. You should stand up for your right to feel your pain.”
- Jim Morrison
Friday, January 8, 2010
I truly believe today more than ever before the pressures of the world are back breaking. The cost of living is expensive, the cost of your future is expensive, and your past has more ways than ever to come back to haunt you. So in the midst of all the little things that tug on you, ways to stay sane are pertinent to know and to utilize. Here are some things that work for me.
1) Let Go: If you feel yourself getting stressed out or your plate is simply too full, let something or SOMEONE go. It is okay to admit that you are not feeling being superman/woman at the time. Cut back on some of your responsibilities in your clubs or activities. They'll always be there when you have more time to function. On the people end: some people are just stressful. I'm not saying they are trying to be or that it is malicious in any way.
A good indicator is if you feel anxious every time you end a conversation with them. It may be time to back away slightly. It was explained to me that your true friends will understand and even promote your overall new health. People that don't seem to understand or are always negative toward your change for the positive will probably not be lifelong friends anyway. Remember you are not helpful to anyone or anything if you have a mental breakdown.
2) Organization: Though it may sound cheesy, organization really is the key to your overall sanity. Not being organized gives the illusion that your life is entirely more complicated than it really is. My personal favorite is making lists. I make lists for everything and I check them off as I go. It reminds me that though I have many things to accomplish, I have already conquered alot. Not only do I make lists but I also label importance. It places everything in perspective. So even if you don't get everything you need to accomplished, and you probably won't, you will feel comforted that at least the big tasks were accomplished.
3) Reward Yourself: I've mentioned this before but it is so important. I am about to embark on a very challenging few months with my studies but the one thing that keep me sane are my birthday plans. Yes, my birthday is a few months away but as I begin to buckle down, that is a reward I know I will give myself. Knowing a reward is coming is surprisingly comforting and gives you a treat to work towards instead of the feeling that you will be working , indefinitely.
4) Find Your Calm: This is so important. Find things AND people that instantly calm you down. So when you feel your emotions attacked by the pressures you're facing, you already know where to turn. Think of them as knowing your emergency exits. When the fire hits, you don't want to be just trying to find door knobs so have these things in place when you know you are or about to go through a stressful time. Sip your tea, run a mile, whatever it is that you find. Also, have those people that are always inspirational on speed dial. Let them know in advance "You are so good at calming me down, I'm feeling really stressed. Can you just talk to me?" No Shame in that. I'm sure theyll be glad and even honored to have that place in your life. There is no way to totally prevent stress so know and have your backups ready.
5) Find Something to Believe In: Alot of negative press is given to faith but faith is a concept that I have found to help, not hinder your mental functioning. I have a strong faith in the Lord and it places my entire life on a big scale into something that makes sense to me. Therefore as I work and as trials arise, I have one big picture I can always lean back on. That keeps me sane. This isn't a religious blog so there are other big pictures you can put faith in: your drive to become successful, humanity in general, etc. Faith and Belief are cornerstones to not getting overwhelmed. So find something to wrap yourself around mentally and when things don't go the way they should, you will always still have that big concept.
6) Lastly to go with Belief is Perspective: Remember to always keep things in perspective. Alot of our gripping, complaining, and worrying comes from lack of perspective. Yeah, you probably could be doing better. Bill Gates could be doing better. However you could always be doing worse. Sometimes you have to stop and place your life in its approximate place in the world and move on from there. Proper perspective fixes a multitude of bad attitudes (narcissism, selfishness, Self esteem, ect.) and promotes WISDOM. So when you feel yourself going a little crazy, Count to three, drink some tea,whatever calms you and ask yourself "Is my life really so terrible that I feel so hopeless?" The answer is no. If it helps, read your religious text or just inspirational stories of people who still conquered it all and you will see your perseverance renewed.
Remember, to conquer the world, you must first conquer your thoughts. Your mind is one of the gateways to your entire life. Staying sane is a key to staying on top of the world. Hope this helps.
Monday, January 4, 2010
We're all bombarded by images that 9 times out of 10 look nothing like us but we are told to call them beautiful. Inner beauty, personal beauty, is no longer celebrated. Feeling beautiful is important to both men and women. As D.H. Lawrence so eloquently put it: "The human soul needs actual beauty more than bread.” It's one of the things we desire whether you want to or not. So here are some ways to achieve that feeling we all crave.
1) Make yourself the best you that you can be physically: Everyday you should be working on yourself on the inside and the outside. How you look is a direct reflection on how you feel and vice versa. They go hand in hand. So, as you work on being beautiful on the inside,work on your outer beauty. Please understand I am not saying go get implants or enhancement drugs but making yourself naturally more beautiful. exercise is an easy way to do that. It makes you more energetic and healthy in general. The healthier you are the more beautiful you become. Ladies, I enjoy my curves more than anyone I know but we should all strive to have a healthy body structure for US. Men, think about how good you feel when you can just walk around shirtless like whatever. Treat yourself to some beauty treatments. Get facials, pedicures, sauna time. Save up and buy yourself a new dress or a new suit. These are all instant physical confidence boosters.
2) Make yourself the best you that you can be mentally: Refer back to my staying sane blog. And adding on to that, gain knowledge. Participate in new activities you've never done before. Hang around people that stimulate your mind and introduce you to new positive experiences.
3) Make yourself the best you that you can be emotionally: Be Happy. Maria Mitchell said: “There is no cosmetic for beauty like happiness.” Someone who is emotionally unhappy can be seen a mile away. They're usually not pleasant to be around and their perspective of the world is negative. In short, being unhappy makes you even MORE unhappy. Downward spiral. So keep the drama out of your life and find simple things that make you happy. Happiness is beautiful and sexy on anybody.
4) Someone thinks you are beautiful: For every beauty there is an eye somewhere to see it. Be around people that see your beauty. If you are around people that find a way to always downplay how handsome, beautiful, or special you are, GET AWAY FROM THEM. They are either jealous or unhappy themselves and those people are cancerous in your life and for your own beauty. If enough people tell you you are not something, you will find a way to make it true. Find a mate or partner that just loves what you look like. Your women should smile when she sees you coming. Your man should want to go out smiling because you are on his arm. Being around people that know your beauty helps you solidify it in your own mind.
5) Know the facts: Everyone struggles with their own beauty both inside and out. The models that everyone pines to look like usually see the same thing in the mirror that you see: imperfections. It's not just you that looks in the mirror and wishes your abs were magically there. Or see someone giving a million dollars to the poor and think, damn am I that good of a person. Inside and our people question themselves. If you know this, it wont feel so unusual to feel like you need to improve.
6) Spread the Beauty: Bring on the compliments. Tell others they are beautiful or that their clothes look good on them or that you admire their attitude or that their general style intrigues you. As you compliment others, you free your own appeal to grow. The ugliest thing on an individual is jealousy and competition. As you begin to see the beauty in others, you will see it in yourself. And that's as real as it gets.
“Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.”