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A Question On Neurosis

In this article on Quilette.com, the author discusses Carl Jung’s experience with neurosis: Jung suffered fainting spells after a playground accident with another boy and he welcomed this opportunity to avoid school.  Then, when confronted by the reality that his illness may be debilitating, he made the decision to “get to work.”  In doing so, his illness went away almost instantly, indicating that Jung was suffering from “neurosis” rather than a truly limiting illness.

The takeaway: “Embracing a status of oppression or affliction can be helpful, as it marshals needed care. However, when held onto too long, it can invite disengagement from life, and an avoidance of one’s fate. Worryingly, it also has negative implications for personal mental health, as it may foster a sense of helplessness.”

My response: This is honestly one of the most well-written articles I have read in years – and that says a lot!  Question: Research does show that subscribing to “psychosomatic” and similar models of self-induced illness (including “neurosis”) does undermine the biopsychosocial model of health and can prevent proper treatment.  This article on the other hand, makes a lot of sense.  How, then, do we identify whether a person is truly suffering and in need of help, from when a person is dealing with a neurosis? What separates the two?

I am putting this here in anticipation of answering my own question.

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Identify Your Perfect Partner (Manifestation, Part 2)

This is a continuation of Part 1 of the Manifestation series, where I share with you the processes which I have found to be the most practical in attracting what you want into your life.  In Part 1, I outlined the steps to getting clear on what you want.  This process will however look slightly different when it comes to figuring out what exactly you want in a partner and it involves a few extra considerations.  By the end, you will essentially end up with a list, separate from the ones you created in Part 1 of this series.  This list will contain the things that others do, and the qualities that others have which make you genuinely happy.  It will serve as a guide for you to refer back to during your future interactions so that you can easily decide whether or not a potential partner is the right one for you.  And if you’re already in a relationship, feel free use this guide as a way to help you figure out whether or not you’re on the right track.

The advice here will help you build your “love list.”

Reflect

To start off, it can be helpful to think back to your experiences with others in the past in order to clearly identify which aspects of them brought joy and value into your life.  It might have been something as simple as giving you a good hug when you were feeling down.  Or maybe you appreciated it when they cooked a nice meal for you.  The events that we identify indicate the qualities we really liked in that person—maybe they were very comforting (like with the hugging example) or very generous (like with the cooking example).  Identify events where others really made you feel good and then write down which quality that indicates in a person (it doesn’t necessarily have to be a past partner; it can be anyone).  Think of it this way:

Event: They gave me a hug when I was feeling down
Quality: Comforting

Then, list all of the qualities that come to mind, likeso:

I feel really good with people who are:
– comforting
– generous
– dependable
– supportive
– authentic
– protective
– honest
– caring
– etc…

This is the beginning of your love list.  However, the qualities that you write here are the ones which you should keep in mind when meeting new people in general.  It can help you when deciding whether you want to continue spending time with a particular person, or whether it would be best to “love them from a distance,” as Lisa Nichols would say.  The sections in this article are intended to help you build on this list, so feel free pause before moving on if you like.

If you’ve never had a romantic partner before, don’t worry!  Again, you can simply list things that people in general do which make you feel really good.  In order to get clear on the qualities you should look for in a partner, it’s especially helpful to think about the qualities of the people closest to you: Who do you vibe with?  What qualities do they have?  I personally noticed that I tend to feel nurtured by people who validate me, who are very present with me during our interactions, and who are really positive/supportive.

Physical Attraction, Hobbies, and Interests

Physical attraction is essential for most of us but if you notice yourself listing very specific physical attributes on this list, it may be likely that you have a strong connection to your ego which you are projecting onto your future ideal partner.  In that case, I’d recommend doing some more self-work before pursuing a relationship.  Hobbies and interests are also unimportant—research shows that having interests and hobbies in common does not indicate compatibility!

What should make up the majority of the list?  Things that your partner does which make you feel safe and loved, and that add value to your life.  Again, these are personal qualities, otherwise known as character traits.

Positive character traits

Some examples of positive character traits include: appreciative, compassionate, empathetic, generous, faithful, good-natured, intelligent, kind, mature, respectful, strong, and witty.  A person who has many positive character traits can be considered to have good core values.  Finding a good-natured partner like this may be more likely to result in a positive and healthy relationship.  Kindness and maturity, for example, create a strong foundation for a relationship.  Respectfulness is crucial for a healthy one.  You can get through a great deal of hardships with someone who is “strong.”  And many people enjoy witty banter.

There are many positive character traits so it’s important to figure out which ones you value the most.  Again, everyone’s answers will be different!  Maybe you have a stronger need to connect with people who are very intellectual and who you can carry meaningful conversations with?  I personally have enough of those conversations in my head to satisfy that need :).

An important caveat

A caveat here is that relationships aren’t easy.  They demand constant effort.  Even if a partner has great positive traits, no relationship is perfect.  Believing that relationships should be magical, immediate, and free of conflict is simply unrealistic.  It’s okay for partners to disagree and to dislike certain things about each other.  It doesn’t mean that they’re not in love—rather, it can often mean the opposite.  Couples who are willing to put in the work to grow and learn together can really deepen their connection.  It’s all about communication and the willingness to try and grow together.  This doesn’t always look pretty—it might mean (safely and respectfully) discussing tough topics.  But the important part is finding a partner who is willing to have those conversations with you.

So many of us are caught up in that “romantic comedy” idea of love.  We think that love means being swept off your feet, or that “true love” is easy.  While being in a healthy relationship should have a sense of ease, it’s important to acknowledge that you will need to work on the relationship together if you want it to stand the test of time.  So many of us will run away from a relationship at even the slightest sign of conflict (and the ease/speed of apps like Tinder make this a very convenient option).  But the hard truth is: this approach to relationships is lazy, it is a way of habitually “taking the easy way out,” it will hinder your growth, and it is doomed to fail.  Conflict is normal and to be expected in relationships.  And there is no such thing as a “perfect” relationship (or person for that matter).  So if you don’t know how to work through conflicts, get learning! And find someone who is equally willing to work things out with you.

While you should always respect yourself and walk away from relationships when your gut tells you to (obviously you shouldn’t stay in an abusive relationship!), you should however permit yourself to have negative emotions.  Just because you’re upset about something doesn’t mean that you can’t try to work it out.  If there is a misunderstanding, maybe a miscommunication—it is important to have a respectful discussion with your partner.  Putting in that time and effort shows that you care about each other and that you want to move past any issues as a team.  If you’re unwilling to do that, you can be certain that you will end up jumping from partner to partner for the rest of your dating life!

Self-love, setting boundaries

Some people say that “you can never truly love another until you have learned to love yourself.”  I personally think that is total BS.  However, it is very important that you understand how to practice self-love so that your future relationships will be healthy ones.  And one form of self-love which I do think is 100% essential to practice before entering a relationship is setting boundaries.  This means noticing what makes you uncomfortable in a relationship, defining it, and refusing to tolerate it.  Sometimes we fail to set healthy boundaries because we fear losing the other person, but if you don’t do it anyway then you are setting yourself up for a future of being treated as less than you deserve.  If you have ever been called a “pushover,” felt treated like a doormat, or felt that you have been taken for granted in a relationship, this message is for you: LEARN HEALTHY BOUNDARY SETTING.

You may need to work on this before dating at all – and that is okay.  If it feels necessary for you, honour your truth and do what you feel is best.  Dating will always be there when you’re ready for it.  You need to take care of yourself, too.

The 5 Love Languages

In order to better understand how you experience love, it can be useful to know the concept of “The 5 Love Languages.”  Dr. Gary Chapman describes these so-called languages as: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch.

Dr. Chapman explains Words of Affirmation as verbal compliments which are best kept simple.  This could be something like, “You look really beautiful today,” or “Thanks for being there for me.”  The key here is to not leave kind words unsaid.  If you find yourself appreciating somebody else, it can be nice for them to hear it.  We all need a little boost sometimes, and genuine compliments from people we care about can be really helpful.

Quality Time is pretty self-explanatory.  It means spending time with another person, being present in the moment.  Dr. Chapman points out that our high-tech world makes it so easy to miss out on real, quality time with the people we love.  Even if you’re out for an amazing dinner, you or the other person might be lost in your Instagram feed, scrolling on your phone while nodding and half-responding to the other person’s questions.  It’s easy to get stuck in autopilot and stay absorbed in our devices, but making the effort to spend even 10 or 15 minutes with somebody, really with the person, can drastically improve the relationship.  Giving someone your attention without feeling the need to check your phone every five seconds can be very grounding and rewarding.

The third language is Receiving Gifts, which is also pretty straightforward.  Giving tangible gifts can make the other person feel very special and it can be very gratifying for you too.  The key is to focus on the gesture and the thought put behind it as opposed to a price tag.  It can be easy to think “he/she doesn’t really care about me—they barely spent any money on this.”  But sometimes the most meaningful gifts can be handwritten love notes or a tin of homemade cookies.  The important part is that the receiving party feels appreciated and important.  Money is not the fundamental part of this concept.

The fourth is Acts of Service. Something as simple as giving your partner a neck massage when you notice that he/she is feeling stressed is all it takes.  Or maybe you cooked your partner a warm meal at the end of a long day to show that you cared.  These gestures can be very basic and everyday, but they’re still very meaningful.

Lastly, we have Physical Touch.  While having sex can undoubtedly connect partners, the little things are often more than enough to make your partner feel cared for.  A kiss on the cheek or holding your partner’s hand can be a very simple way to connect physically.  Even if you’re just waiting in line at the grocery store, doing it while holding hands can make your partner feel more connected to you.  It’s important to be sincere and to do what feels comfortable for you and your partner.

The purpose of understanding these languages here is that when you recognize which ones you “speak,” you unlock some important knowledge about what you really want from a partner. We all want to receive love in the ways that are most meaningful to us, personally.  Which of the five languages do you appreciate most?  Find someone who is able and willing to speak them to you.

Don’t settle for less (or other) than what you deserve

It’s also crucial to know your worth.  All of this introspection can teach you a lot about yourself.  After doing this work, really remember to value yourself and this new awareness of your needs and wants.

An article on PairedLife, called “Attract Your Soulmate By Making a List,” says that:  “if the [person], however, has some serious shortcomings and/or does not meet most of the requirements on your list, let [him/her] know and let [him/her] go immediately.  Be upfront and honest by telling [them] that you are not interested in pursuing any type of relationship and then move on.”

It may sound harsh but it’s important advice to remember.  You need to be realistic.  Take stock of what you’re looking for and make sure that you’re honest with potential partners about your values.  If you seem to be on a different page, or looking for different things in life, it may be best to cut things short before they get too difficult.  This can be hard to do, but it is ultimately an act of self-respect (and it also shows respect for the other person because you don’t want to waste their time, either).

Defining exactly what you want in a partner like this helps you to stay focused and confident in the dating world.  When you meet someone that you are “unsure” about, you can think back to your description of this ideal partner and ask yourself whether or not they match up.  Sometimes it’s easy to fall head-over-heels in love with someone you just met.  When you know exactly what you want, and you stay focused on that, it is easier to break ties with someone early on (when you’re not yet attached!) when you realize they aren’t what you’re looking for.  This way, it is also easier to stand your ground and walk away from bad behaviour that makes you feel insecure.

Don’t ever make excuses for people who are treating you as less than you deserve or think that you might be able to change someone.  Believe that there IS someone out there who is already willing and able give you what you need in a relationship.  If you settle you will not be happy and you are only wasting your own time.

A note on “neediness”

Many people fear insecurity, “neediness,” or dependency in potential partners, but they often fail to realize that it is own their behaviours which can often cause their partners to become that way.  It’s normal for a person to feel insecure if they don’t know where they stand in a relationship, or if their partner constantly does things that make them question where they stand.  A good and mature partner understands that and they will not make you feel guilty if you feel that way.  If anything, THEY will feel guilty about it and they will give you what you need in order to feel safe again—whether that’s reassurance, validation, spending more time with you, or stopping the behaviour that made you feel insecure.

So if you fear “neediness” or dependency in a partner, take a look at your own behaviour and ask yourself whether or not you’re an example of a loyal, honest, and dependable person.  We are wired for giving, nurturing, and signalling emotional safety in relationships.  In part, this literally defines relationships.  To behave indifferently to your partner’s emotional needs in a relationship is being selfish.  So is this an area you struggle with?  Are you afraid to be generous, to give emotional validation, or reassurance?  Again, you may want to do some self-work before pursuing a relationship.  If someone is feeling “needy,” there’s a good chance it’s because they love you and you simply aren’t giving them what they need to feel loved in return.

This brings me to…

Emotional safety

In an article titled “Emotional Safety is Necessary for Emotional Connection,” Ellen Boeder discusses how our nervous system is wired to detect threats and disengage us from threatening situations—this includes threats to emotional safety.  She says that, “When we don’t feel safe, our bodies don’t want to engage, connect, or provide the emotional warmth our relationships need in order to thrive.”  In other words, feeling guarded can limit our relationships.

Boeder continues: “The latest research in neurobiology shows that emotional safety is one of the most important aspects of a satisfying connection in a loving relationship.  We need to feel safe before we’re able to be vulnerable, and as Brené Brown reminds us, ‘Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, accountability, and authenticity.’”

Let’s unpack that.  Emotional safety is often a prerequisite for vulnerability.  And vulnerability is a prerequisite for deep, authentic love.  So, by choosing a partner who makes you feel safe, you open yourself up to being vulnerable around that person, too.  And through that vulnerability and honesty, you can allow your true self to unfold before them.  You can be authentic without the fear of being judged.

“Honesty can make or break a relationship”

Authenticity is closely connected to honesty.  In an article for Psychology Today, Dr. Barton Goldsmith explains just how crucial honesty is in a healthy relationship.  He says, “Trying to ‘protect’ your partner or just trying to avoid looking bad can create more trouble than it’s worth. It is best to be above board in all your dealings.”  This can be hard to swallow because a lot of us have a deep desire to please our partners and to try and placate them.  But the web of lies that you can get tangled in is not worth the trouble.  It’s best to just be honest the first time.  Even if it’s uncomfortable to be honest sometimes, it makes things easier in the long term because it is what allows you to openly address issues together.

Note:

  • Open communication is extremely important in any relationship.
  • You can’t have trust in a relationship without it.
  • It is also a way of showing respect, whereas lying is a form of disrespect.
  • Lying is also a form of manipulation: it is a way of keeping information from another person in order to maintain power in a relationship (because we fear what the other person might do if they knew the information).
  • Lying is wrong, unfair, and unhelpful, period.

In an article for CounsellingResource.com, Dr. George Simon discusses lying as a manipulation technique in depth.  In fact, he claims that it is the “ultimate” manipulation technique.

Dr. Simon says: “For the disordered character, lying serves many purposes. But mainly, lying serves to give a manipulator an advantage over someone else. Disordered characters don’t want you to know what they’re all about or what they’re up to. That would level the playing field in your encounters with them. But disturbed characters want to be one-up on you and a step ahead of you. They want to keep you in the dark and keep you guessing. One of the best ways to do this is by deception.”

Here, Dr. Simon digs deep into the real purpose of lying.  Aside from mere deception, he explains how liars are seeking power, too.  This is a desire for an upper-hand, which often stems from personal insecurity.

This is good to note because it’s easy to think that lying is a surface-level offence; somebody didn’t want to admit the truth, so they lied.  But Dr. Simon asks us to look below the surface and recognize how deeply this behaviour is rooted.  Liars aren’t just trying to hide something—they’re also trying to gain power in a relationship.  Being aware of this is important when choosing a partner.  If you notice that a person is prone to lying, it may be good to look deeply into the pattern and maybe reassess your relationship.  Have a discussion with them and, if necessary, consider ending the relationship for your own emotional wellbeing.

So how do we communicate a dirty ugly truth?  Dr. Goldsmith believes that we sometimes need to be cautious when being honest with partners.  He says, “‘Brutal honesty’ has gotten a lot of press lately, but I have seen it do more damage than good.  You need to present your issues with some degree of kindness.  If not, your message may be buried in an avalanche of hurt feelings.”  So, while it’s good to be up-front, try not to be straight-up abrasive.  Sometimes, when we try to be “straight” with people, it devolves into being rude or mean and that is not conducive to being in a loving relationship.  Try to find a middle ground between being honest and being rude.  There is ALWAYS a way to accurately and fairly communicate a difficult truth.

All in all, what I am trying to say here is this: I highly encourage you to add “honesty” as an essential trait on your list.  It is crucial for any healthy relationship.  And if you personally still believe that “it’s okay to lie sometimes,” please, out of respect for others, work on yourself before pursuing a relationship.

Consider gender

There are only two genders.  I won’t dive into that in great detail in this article, however, it needs to be said here.  Why?  Because in order to figure out who your ideal partner is, you also need to know which gender they are.  Your ideal partner will be someone who is the opposite gender to your own—regardless of their biological sex.  If you haven’t done so already: figure out which gender you have a tendency towards expressing, make the conscious decision to “be” that, and find a partner whose gender is opposite.  This will make for a more harmonious relationship.  I  am working on an article which explains this at great length.  In the meantime, please trust me… and read this (AND think about it). Takeaway: “High correlations between the separate TMF femininity and masculinity scales as shown in Study 1 suggest a bipolar, one-dimensional use of this instrument reflecting laypersons’ ideas of masculinity and femininity as two extremes of one continuum. This is also in line with findings reported by [two similar studies].”

Back to our “Love List”

Elena Murzello, author of “The Love List: A Guide to Getting Who You Want” introduces the concept of a “love list” to help people find good partners.  She compares dating to grocery shopping, stating: “Without a list, you base your purchases on how hungry you are and end up grabbing random items you don’t need, like pretzel-covered peanut-butter snacks.”

How can you find the partner you really want if you never take the time to figure out what you even want in the first place?  What a great analogy.  Everyone knows the feeling—you head to the grocery store in a rush and you throw in whatever food looks good at the time.  You base your choices on fleeting emotions (hungry, maybe in a rush).  So you throw in that extra bag of chips or something else that you don’t really need and likely forget a few things that you actually do need.  Because you never took the time to slow down and figure out your needs, you ended up with whatever looked appealing in the short-term.  In dating, if we don’t first establish our priorities, it’s very hard to find a partner who lines up with said priorities.

This article is intended to help you create your “love list.”  I included this in the manifestation series for a reason: knowing exactly what you want in a partner is a prerequisite to attracting that kind of person!

Stay tuned for Part 3 🙂

A Case Against Optimizing Your Life

Many people I know are on a quest to optimize their lives — some of my favorite people in the world will spend days trying to perfect a productivity system, get things automated, or find the perfect software for anything they’re doing. They are on a continual search for the perfect diet, the perfect work routine, the perfect travel setup.

Optimizing can take quite a bit of time and energy.

What would happen if we let go of optimizing? Who would we be without the idea that we should optimize everything?

One idea is that if we decided not to optimize everything, we’d stop caring, stop trying to make things better, and live suboptimal lives. But I know myself pretty well — I will always care, even if I am not trying to optimize. I will always do my best, which is different than optimizing — it’s taking care and giving love, even if things aren’t optimized. I believe most of you are this way, pouring your hearts into something with pure love, without needing to make everything perfect.

So why shouldn’t we optimize? And what would it be like if we didn’t?

Give me a few moments to make the case against optimizing, and present an alternative way.

The Case Against Optimizing

I don’t think people who optimize are idiots (many of the smartest people do it), nor is it a life-ruining thing to try to optimize. I’ve done it many times.

But consider:

The savings never get realized. When you try to optimize, you are spending some of your precious life moments trying to find the perfect setup. Sure, once you’re done, things will theoretically be set up perfectly from then on, so over the long run you should save a lot of time and effort, right? Well, first, let’s acknowledge that there’s a big cost to optimizing up front. And the savings would only be realized after running the optimal system or method for a good while. Unfortunately most people who optimize don’t just set it up and forget it — they continue to try to optimize over and over. It’s a never-ending quest, so the cost keeps adding up but the savings never catches up.

Optimizing is a trap of dissatisfaction. Optimizing is the quest for something as close to perfect as you can get it. But that’s an unrealistic ideal. It doesn’t really exist. And we’ll never get to optimal — when we get close, we’ll continue the habit of being dissatisfied with the way things are. We’ll have put in a lot of work, but then not be happy. Because the search for perfect is a trap, where you’re strengthening the mental habit of dissatisfaction.

Optimizing is a focus on what’s not important. Coming up with the perfect productivity system, the perfect to-do list software — it’s not important. It’s procrastination on the things that are truly important. The tasks at the top of the to-do list you already have, that you’re not working on, so that you can optimize. Coming up with the perfect diet system isn’t important — eating vegetables is. Eating nuts and beans and fruits is important. Forget the rest, just do that. Coming up with the perfect vacation isn’t important — you’re missing out on what’s right in front of you, there at home, when you are trying to optimize your next trip.

Even if you could optimize, such a perfect life would suck. Let’s imagine for a moment that you could spend a week optimizing every single thing in your life. Everything is now perfect, most things are automated, life becomes ridiculously easy (hint: it’s not possible). Even if it were possible to make life this perfect, life would absolutely suck. If everything ran easily, you would never appreciate any accomplishments, because they came too easily. Nothing would be earned, nothing would feel amazing. People run ultramarathons not because they are perfect and ideal and easy, but because they are such a struggle. The struggle makes it meaningful. Sure, get some good tools, learn how to do things well … but don’t worry about a little extra work. Don’t worry about doing something a few too many times. A little repetition helps you to get really good at something. A little difficulty helps you to really learn something. A little irritation helps you to find patience, let go of ideals and love things as they are.

Optimizing is a good way to get things to break. Imagine that you optimized a series of software tools so they all ran perfectly together, a huge complicated structure of connected machines… amazing work, well engineered, well thought-out. But when things are optimized like this, they are fragile. If one thing breaks, the others do too. If your life is optimized, it’s easy to break. To give you another example… let’s say you have an optimized sleep routine. It’s amazing, and you get great sleep this way! But then you have to fumigate your house, so you have to sleep at a relative’s house. Your entire optimized routine is thrown off, so you get horrible sleep for a few days. Then you try to optimize your sleep for travel, getting a great setup for sleeping on the plane and trains. Then your favorite sleep mask, ear plugs (or noise-canceling headphones) and travel pillow get stolen. No sleep! The most optimized thing to do, then, is to not optimize — get good at dealing with everything, from sleeping on trains without any kind of setup to sleeping on the ground. Unoptimize your life by getting good at dealing with unoptimal situations. Throw randomized craziness into your life. Forget about optimizing, and learn flexibility, learn to deal, learn to let go, learn to adapt.

Optimizing is a distraction. It’s like cleaning the decks when the Titanic is sinking. It’s not important that you optimize. It’s important that you are present, that you learn to be mindful, to be compassionate, to work from a place of love, to let go of your attachments, to see your interconnectedness with others. To be pure love, and to give your gift to the world. Not what to-do software you use, not what bulletproof coffee you drink, not what perfect backpack you carry. Don’t get caught up in the distractions — focus on what truly matters.

So what’s an alternative way? There isn’t one way, of course, but I’ll share some ideas.

An Alternative Way

Consider a different way of being:

Instead of optimizing your schedule, pick one thing to do and focus fully on it. Do it with all of your heart, out of love. When you’re done, give a bow of gratitude. Take a moment to pause and not rush to the next thing. Repeat.

Instead of trying to find the perfect software, the perfect tool, the perfect travel clothes… focus on being content with where you are, who you are, what you have, what is in front of you right now. Contentment is much more important than getting to perfect.

Instead of building a fragile optimized routine, system, or setup, give yourself less-than-optimal situations, randomness, things you need to adapt to. Develop flexibility, agility, adaptability, robustness, antifragility.

Be present. Appreciate the fleeting moment, because there won’t be many more before you die. Be fully immersed in the moment, cherishing the beauty of this life.

When you find yourself with the urge to optimize and find the perfect setup, recognize that you’re letting yourself be distracted from what’s important. Then ask yourself, “What’s most important right now?” Focus on that, even if it gives you discomfort and makes you want to run. Get good at that, rather than good at optimizing.

Let your path be less controlled, more random. Let it be filled with messiness, because that’s how you adapt to messiness. Let it be filled with chaos, because then you can find peace in the middle of chaos. Let it be filled with the joy of life exactly as it is, because that’s optimal. What is. Not what you wish it could be.

And do it with a smile and joy in your heart. What a life we have been gifted with!

 

Modified and reprinted with permission from zenhabits.net

Share Your Shame, Be At Peace

What personal stories have you locked away in the secret vault of your mind, vowing never to share them publicly? What would shame you terribly if it were ever posted on the Internet and connected with your real name for anyone to see? What events or habits from your past or present would you feel embarrassed to talk about?

This is precisely what you need to share with others — openly and publicly.

Authenticity

If you can’t share your humiliation publicly, you haven’t gotten over it yet. And if you’re not over it yet, you’ve still got this gaping wound in your heart, and it will always keep you from being 100% authentic.

Being authentic — or transparent — isn’t just about being honest. It’s about having nothing to hide.

Concealing the truth from others creates a wall between you and them. Tear down that wall by sharing what you thought you could never share, and you’ll experience a much deeper level of connection with everyone you meet.

Shields Down

There’s no such thing as selective shielding. If you have to shield any part of yourself from being discovered and judged, you shield your entire being. You cut yourself off from creating true loving connections with other human beings. Your shields isolate and disconnect you from everyone, including yourself.

Lower your shields.

I know you think that when the shields come down, you’ll be pelted with a volley of phasers and photon torpedoes. But what’s the real worst case outcome? Harsh language? Ouch.

When you share your most shameful stories, you may be surprised at the response you get. Instead of a backlash of judgment, it’s more likely you’ll receive a compassionate response. Other people don’t want or expect you to be perfect. They want to connect with you and to be able to trust that you’re being honest with them. When you hide all your personal defects, you come across as fake, phony, or shielded. People may still communicate with you on a superficial level, but they won’t go out of their way to help you as a fellow human being. Why not? Because they won’t know the real you.

From Sorrow to Joy

When you share your shame with others, you transform your resistance into acceptance and your sorrow into joy. You learn that there’s a reason you had to endure certain experiences, even if they were self-inflicted. Your painful experiences can actually help you connect with other people on a deeper level than you imagined possible.

In Steve Pavlina’s book Personal Development for Smart People, he opens with his most humiliating story. Here’s the very first page of the book:

Do you remember the exact moment you first became interested in personal development? I certainly do. It happened in January 1991 while I was sitting in a jail cell. I’d just been arrested for felony grand theft. This wasn’t my first run-in with the law, so I knew I was in trouble. I was 19 years old.

I began stealing shortly after moving to Berkeley, California, during my first semester at UC Berkeley. I didn’t steal for money or to build a reputation — I stole for the thrill. I was addicted to the surge of adrenaline. The compulsion to steal was so strong that shoplifting was part of my routine, nothing more than my daily espresso. Usually I didn’t care what I stole; it was the act of stealing that seduced me. On a typical outing, I’d lift a dozen candy bars and then drop them off in a public place, figuring that other people would eat them. I didn’t eat the candy because I didn’t think it was healthy.

As I sat in jail for several days that January with nothing to do but wallow in my own stupidity, the reality of my situation came crashing down upon me. In high school I’d been a straight-A honors student, president of the math club, and captain of the Academic Decathlon team. My future as a computer-science major looked unbelievably bright, but somehow I’d torn it to shreds. Now I was expecting to spend the next year or two behind bars.

That wasn’t exactly the brightest moment of Steve’s life, so why would he begin the book with that story?

Many personal development books are written by authors who project an air of perfection — idyllic examples of order, achievement, inner peace, wealth, and so on. To me this is a form of shielding, an artificial wall, a fake standard no human being can realistically aspire to.

I think it’s more inspiring to share failure stories. I like to demonstrate that we can fail again and again and still keep going. I believe the ability to embrace failure is even more important than the ability to visualize success. You can visualize success all you want, but if you’re afraid to fail, your visualizations will never become reality.

Be Willing to Fail

When we fall into the pattern of hiding our past failures, we set ourselves up for long-term stagnation. We have to be willing to say, “If I fail at this, it’s okay. I’m human. I don’t have to be perfect. I can fail and keep right on going.” I’ve had some spectacular failures in my life, and yet I’m still here. I haven’t given up on life.

If you can’t share your shame with others, then you’re telling yourself that failure is a bad thing… that failure is something you must avoid at all costs. But what about your future failures? Will you feel compelled to hide those too? Does this mean you won’t even attempt certain things if you know in advance that you won’t be able to hide your failures?

If you’re going to fail, then why not fail spectacularly in public — for all to see? Make your failures a real event. Let other people learn from your mistakes. Let others see that you’re human after all. You might even make some new friends and allies as a result.

Failure isn’t something to be avoided. It’s a natural part of life. To resist failure is to resist life itself.

Failure is our greatest teacher. We learn a lot more from failure than we do from success.

I developed better social skills by struggling with mediocre social skills for years. Lesson: Stop trying to make new friends, and just assume that everyone I meet is already my best friend. This is how people want to be treated anyway. Don’t try to break the ice; assume there is no ice.

What Are You Hiding?

No matter what you’re hiding, the odds are that someone else has already shared worse. If a hitman can speak publicly about the dozens of murders he’s committed, surely you can open up about your anorexia problem, your abusive relationship, or your Internet porn addiction. Others have already shared their stories on these topics, which enables them to help others with similar challenges. Why not you?

Do you need permission to do this? Okay, I hereby grant you permission to be human. You have the right to be a total screw-up. You have the right to harbor the most politically incorrect thoughts. You have the right to struggle with the most socially unacceptable addictions. And you have the right to admit it in public.

Will there be some judgment if you go public? Sure, most likely. I get a little flak for some of the things I’ve written. Some people apparently view my mistakes as an invitation to condemn me. But because I’ve accepted who I am, including my past, those people don’t get to me. I see their criticism as being entirely about them and having nothing to do with me. I think that getting some flak is okay because the benefits of sharing those stories vastly outweigh the drawbacks, especially in terms of the new friendships I’ve made.

Also, if someone would reject me for being who I am or for doing what I did, then I say, “Let’s get the breakup over with, so we can both move on.” It’s good to purge unsupportive relationships from our lives, so we can focus on creating and enjoying more compatible connections.

If you’re worried that you’ll lose friends and contacts by outing yourself, let me suggest that you’re trying to hold on to relationships that aren’t worth maintaining. Any relationships that would reject you for being true to yourself are — by definition — abusive relationships. You’ll be much better off when you let them go.

I love that I don’t have to worry that someone will dig into my past and find some humiliating story that will annihilate my carefully crafted public image. I can just be the same person in public that I am in private. I don’t need to shield myself. Imagine how stressful it would be to try to live up to a false image. It’s no wonder that many celebrities have turned to drugs.

Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are

You don’t have to share your painful stories all at once. You can build up to this gently. Instead of trying to be authentic overnight, focus on becoming more authentic. Tell a story that would embarrass you a little, but it wouldn’t kill you to share it. Listen to the feedback you receive. Do you feel a sense of relief afterwards? Do you feel more connected to other people? Do you feel a little more open and free? Do you feel less stressed?

For every embarrassing story that you can’t imagine ever sharing publicly, just say to yourself, “I know this is an unnecessary block to love, but right now I lack the strength to let it go. However, I intend to become the kind of person who can eventually share this, thereby transforming my sorrow into joy.”

Be at peace 🙂

 

Modified and reprinted with permission from stevepavlina.com

How to Get 100% Clear on What You Want in Life (Manifestation, Part 1)

In order to attract the life that you want the first step is to get one-hundred percent clear on exactly what that life entails.  That can sometimes be difficult though, because our intuition and rational mind often battle with each other, leaving us confused and full of self-doubt. We may, for example, think that we want a very lucrative career when what we really want is to have the freedom that comes with the paycheque it gets us.  We might go on to pursue that career only to find that we have no time and thus no freedom.  As a result, we are unhappy in a situation that we thought we wanted.

So, what happened?  Our rational mind had us so focused on achieving that career because it learned over time that others with high salaries appeared to have freedom (perhaps platforms like Instagram are to blame for this kind of deception). But deep down, maybe our true self is an artist and the freedom that we seek can only be found through self-expression. Sadly, we never would have realized this if we spent our entire life in that lucrative but unfulfilling career.  This is just one example of the many ways that what we think we want might not be accurate to what we actually want – and how that can end up making us miserable.

This train of thought can be the result of what is referred to as a mental mould or “schema” in psychology.  A schema is essentially a group of phenomena that the brain considers similar enough to fit into the same category.  We regard engineers, lawyers, doctors, and individuals in similar professions as people who generally have a decent income.  Conversely, we regard artists as people who generally do not have a decent income.  Grouping things in this way serves two main functions: it decreases cognitive load (therefore decreasing stress and increasing the efficiency of the brain), and it provides a level of predictability and control over otherwise chaotic situations in life.

The problem with schemas however, is that they can sometimes prevent us from recognizing alternative, more fulfilling, and more authentic ways to live the life that we want (and some artists make a real killing at what they do!).

Naturally, society also gets in the way. We are made to feel like we must achieve more and more thanks to capitalism and the radical leftist praise for individuality.  Right now our egos are bigger than ever.  Life has become so much about what we identify with and what makes us unique – and our career is no exception.  We want prestige because it functions as a survival mechanism in this society, where approval rests mainly on our accomplishments (and few seem to care or even notice whether or not we’re actually good people).  And so far we’ve only used our career as an example here—society and ego also get in the way of discovering what we truly want in love, our environment, and life in general.  For simplicity, I’ll continue using our career as an example here.

Now, in order to figure out what we want in life, we need to escape the traps that schemas can put us in. We can do this by becoming aware of the ego and harnessing our intuition.

Before I finally discovered that I wanted to be a writer, I tried almost everything.  As someone who is fascinated by so many things, the struggle to choose “my thing” was real.  So many times I applied the traditional advice and asked myself: “What truly makes me happy? What would I do if nothing was holding me back?”  I took different courses, worked at very different jobs, and yet, nothing I tried seemed one-hundred percent suited to me. I thought that the things I tried were incredibly interesting, but shortly after pursuing them, I realized that I didn’t enjoy the actual work I was doing.  I eventually came to find out that I had been idealizing those ways of contributing to society based on beliefs about what I thought I wanted to do and not considering what I, as person actually want and need. The difference between the two is the ego.

Interestingly enough, this is sometimes the result of being a very “open-minded” person. Who would have thought that our good qualities could sometimes hinder us so much?  More on that later.

So, the ultimate question is: How can we make decisions that will always lead to our happiness?  Well, first we are tasked with identifying what makes us happy!  In this article, I will outline a plan for you to follow which will help you become aware of exactly what you want in life.  After you figure that out, the process of manifesting it can truly begin.

Here is the basic overview:

  1. Become aware of your ego
  2. Learn how to harness the power of your intuition
  3. Make a list of things that make you feel bad/are bad for you
  4. Make a list of things that make you genuinely happy
  5. Design your wheel of life
  6. Decide to NEVER settle for anything other than what is on your “happy” list

Now, let’s go into detail!

Step 1: Become aware of your ego

☐ Our first step is perhaps best explained by spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle. In an article on Oprah.com called “Free Yourself from Your Ego Armor,” Tolle gives us practical instructions on how to both recognize and free ourselves from our ego. He encourages us to first observe our minds (in other words, notice your thoughts). In observing our minds, we can learn what exactly our thoughts contain and in turn become aware of what’s really going on within us.

☐ Tolle then asks us to try and distinguish between our ego and the actual situation at hand. He notes that when we think that we are irritated by a situation, we are actually irritated by our own inner dialogue about the situation.  As he puts it, it is our interpretation of “the now” rather than the acceptance of it, that causes us pain and confusion.

☐ He then asks us to let go of “limiting stories.” These are essentially our interpretations, or in other words, the idealized stories that we made up about the situation. He explains that, when we create “willful optimism” about a situation by looking at how we think it could or should be, we are often trying to resist negativity.  But looking on the bright (or more convenient) side like this prevents us from seeing reality as it is and it encourages us to make decisions based on how we think things are, rather than as they actually are. Tolle clarifies that creating a falsely positive story is entirely unnecessary and counterproductive; we should instead try to look at the situation at hand without judgment.

“When you see the difference between your voice and the reality of the situation, that’s the beginning of awakening.” —Eckhart Tolle

He adds that this process of awakening/gaining awareness takes time. Indeed, recognizing and distinguishing your thoughts from reality does require ongoing practice. If you are diligent in doing this though, eventually it will become second nature.

☐ Lastly, Tolle asks us to lay down our “weapons.” He emphasizes that we need not battle with our ego. Rather, he says that by simply bringing awareness to our minds, we can create space for new thoughts. So, instead of thinking of our ego as a collection of “bad” things that we need to get rid of, we can simply use the process of noticing to help us transform egoistic thoughts to more accurate and productive ones.

Notice your thoughts, question their truth, and then gently replace them with more accurate reality-based thoughts.

This process is what will mentally get you from “I want to be a lawyer (or insert other fancy thing that you think you want here)” to “I want to have financial freedom. Becoming a lawyer seems appealing and it might get me there,” for example.  By distinguishing an idealization-based assertion from reality like this, you have removed the first (and biggest) block to discovering what it is that you truly want.

These instructions from Tolle are invaluable when it comes to gaining awareness of the ego. As he mentions though, this process is not a quick one—in order to achieve a state of being where self awareness is second-nature, we must make a habit of noticing our thoughts. This is also known as practicing mindfulness. And by continually being mindful of our thoughts we can become more in touch with reality, including the reality of what we want. This simple act alone can radically change your life.

Step 2: Learn how to harness the power of your intuition

Have you ever heard a saying similar to “the heart knows what we truly want and need”? For practical purposes, I interpret this as saying that we are truly happy and fulfilled when we simply feel good. It follows from this that the things which we truly want and need are the things that make us feel good.

And one may argue that doing something which feels bad now could eventually lead to something that feels good later. There are several problems with this however: First of all, emotions change. You cannot predict the future so you do not know what will make you feel good later. Even if you are aware of your patterns, they can always change. Second, dopamine and thus happiness doesn’t work like that (see note below).  And finally, if you are truly passionate about something (if it is truly what you want), it won’t feel like hard work! So if there are several possible routes to your success and fulfilment (and these days there certainly are), why not discover and take the most authentic one? The one that “feels right” the entire time?

Teal Swan does an unparalleled job of explaining what the intuition is and how to use it in her video “How To Use Your Intuition (The Inner Voice).” In this video, she shares helpful advice on connecting with our intuition.

☐ The first step is to take our attention off of the external world and to place it entirely on the internal word. Swan shares a meditative exercise to help us do this: She invites us to imagine our own skin as being symbolic of the separation between two worlds. Then, she asks us to focus in on and observe the sensations happening in the internal world. This requires us to let go of all judgement and expectation and to be extremely open minded to whatever may come.

☐ Once we’re focused on our internal world, we can then extract meaning from it by translating our observations into something more tangible. In order to do this, we can visualize the experiences that the sensations represent. We can ask ourselves: What colour would this experience be? What texture would it be? Is it moving, or is it still? If we were to see the experience as an image, what would that image look like?

☐ Then, once we’ve visualized this image, we must mentally engage with it as if it were a separate being/entity. Swan tells us to then ask the image questions, like: What are you? What do you want me to know?  The answers may not always be what we expect, but Swan encourages us to listen to them wholeheartedly. Our resistance to these answers is the very reason we are disconnected from our true desires in the first place!

☐ The last part of this process is to respond to the image with a conversation; however, this is not a typical conversation—Swan tells us to have a conversation with ourselves.  In this part of the process, we are asking ourselves what the image means about us, and in this case, our desires.  She encourages us to let this inner dialogue unfold naturally by remaining open-minded about where it takes us.  By naturally having this conversation with ourselves, we are acting intuitively.

Do you see anything in common between Eckhart Tolle’s advice and Teal Swan’s?  Both teachers emphasize the importance of connecting with our internal processes.  Both teachers ask us to listen intently to our inner experiences and to reflect on them.  These important processes lay the foundation for the rest of the work outlined in this article.

A note on dopamine

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter which is associated with feelings of happiness and pleasure.  It gets released in your brain when you are rewarded.  Many of us spend a great deal of time doing things that are not rewarding.  Low dopamine is linked to depression.  Think about that.  The concept of achieving fulfilment by using your intuition and living a life full of the things that make you feel good is not spiritual “mumbo jumbo.”  It’s actually supported by science.

Step 3: Make a list of things that make you feel bad/are bad for you

Now that we’ve brought awareness to our ego and learned how to harness the power of our intuition, we can move on to things that are more concrete. We will now be reflecting on our lives and asking some tough questions.

Unfortunately it is often easier for us to become aware of what we don’t want, than it is to become aware of what we do want.  Many of us are already acutely aware of what we don’t want.  For this reason, it is better to single out those things first so that we can then mentally “detox” ourselves from them, giving ourselves more space for the good stuff.  For this step, we will ask ourselves: What makes me feel bad? Which of my behaviours are unhealthy/bad for me? Then, we will write a list of these things.

Here is an excerpt from my own list, as an example:

  • Drinking more than 1 caffeinated drink per day
  • Spending big blocks of time around people who talk a lot
  • Long, repetitive exercises
  • Dieting
  • Clubbing
  • People who invalidate me
  • Vacations longer than two weeks
  • Sleeping in because I stayed up too late
  • Dairy
  • Junk food
  • When I have more than 2 alcoholic drinks in a day
  • When I have to rush because I am committed to too many things

Just by noticing what makes us feel bad and by reflecting on it, we’re getting clearer on what we want in life because we’re ruling out what we don’t want in life.  It’s crucial for us to check in with ourselves and evaluate our own patterns like this.  Once you have identified these things and written them down, it becomes easier to make the decision to stay away from them and it gives you more mental space to focus on what makes you feel good.

When you’re writing your own list, make sure that you’re writing what feels real to you. If your list seems very different from mine, that’s okay!  There is no right or wrong way to do this; you just need to check in with yourself and write what intuitively comes to you.  Try not to write what you think other people want to hear.  This list needs to be meaningful to nobody but you.

Step 4: Make a list of things that make you genuinely happy

Now that we’ve gotten extra clear on what we don’t want in life, it will be a bit easier for us to figure out what we do want.  We can now ask ourselves: What makes me feel good? Which things, people, and environments bring me true joy?  Which behaviours are healthy for me?  Which behaviours make my life better?

For example, here is an excerpt from my list:

  • Drinking tea
  • Fresh healthy foods
  • Hosting dinner parties
  • Moving slowly, planning space in between my commitments
  • Making my bed in the morning
  • Writing out my thoughts and ideas, solving problems
  • Short, spontaneous exercises
  • Being outside daily in a yard and garden that is my own
  • People who are supportive and who accept me as I am
  • Being with pets
  • Swimming
  • Hiking, forests

Notice how none of these things are extravagant; they are what we often consider to be the ‘simple’ things in life.  Most of them don’t take much time or much money to experience.  Something as simple as hanging out with our pets or having a cup of tea can bring us genuine happiness.

Again, make sure that you’re writing a list that feels meaningful to you alone.  The examples given above are just that – examples.  Everyone has different life experience so everyone’s list will look different. What’s important is that you’re really connecting with your inner world and answering the questions honestly.

Step 5: Design your wheel of life

Your wheel of life represents what you want in each distinct area of your life.  Use your list from Step 4 of this exercise to create a goal within each area of this circle.  Before you begin, think about how satisfied you are in each distinct area of your life and rate your level of satisfaction on a scale from 1-10.  If any areas have a rating of 8-10, it may be a good idea to keep those as is and focus on the areas of your life that need more improvement.  In order for us to feel truly fulfilled, this wheel should be balanced.  That means that you should ideally have about the same (high) level of satisfaction in each area.

life-balance-wheel

Step 6: Decide to NEVER settle for anything other than what is on your “happy” list

This is, perhaps, the most important step of all. Now that we’ve done all of this work, we need to reflect on it.  Read over your lists from Steps 3 and 4.  Ask yourself: What is the difference between these two lists?

Let’s look at the first items from each one of my lists, for example.  On my list of things that make me feel bad and/or are bad for me, I’ve put “Drinking more than 1 caffeinated drink per day.”  On my list of things that make me genuinely happy, I’ve put “Drinking tea.”  Now, what is the difference between these two behaviours?  What is the difference between coffee and tea?  On a basic level, caffeine is used as a stimulant, while tea is often sipped as a way to relax (though some teas do have a decent amount of caffeine).  It becomes clear then that the meaning which lies behind these two behaviours is very different for me, personally.  Drinking multiple cups of coffee throughout the day can often be a great way to maintain my energy.  It makes me feel great in the short term—I can focus more on projects and have more efficient conversations.  Essentially, it helps me “get more shit done.”  The aim here is to be awake and to be productive.  On the other hand, drinking tea (especially herbal) can often be a way to unwind.  The aim here is to calm down.

Similarly, hanging out with a bunch of superficial people who invalidate us may be a way to move forward in our career or “improve” our social status, but at what cost are we spending our time with these people?  Are we losing more than gaining from our time shared with them?  Does our social circle make us miserable more often than not?  Wouldn’t it be easier if we just spent our time with people who really care about us and who would have our back if we needed it?  Why are we not spending our energy on people like that instead?

As I mentioned earlier, our society overemphasizes achievement.  We are subliminally taught that our self-worth is determined by our productivity.  But our output does not always bring us genuine happiness.  Drinking coffee all day is not truly good for me.  It is good for the system and society in which I live.  Recognize what your own behaviours mean to you.  If you are on the path of self-improvement it’s fair to assume that the things on your “feel bad” list are mostly things that serve a superficial, egoistic, and self-destructive purpose.  They are not self loving and they will not bring you what you truly want.

In terms of personal fulfillment, productivity is not always the best measure.  What is often more important is learning to be gentle with ourselves.  And how can we be gentler with ourselves?  The term that gets thrown around a lot today is “self-care.”  Mindfully drinking a hot cup of tea to unwind is a great example of self-care.  Other common examples are: taking a bubble bath, listening to soothing music, meditating, doing yoga, watching a sitcom, etc.  The important thing is that these actions come from a place of compassion for ourselves and that they are things which feel good, to us, in the moment—not in some idealized, hypothetical future.

Keep your lists from Steps 3 and 4 in mind to really take stock of your behaviours.  Note the differences between the two lists so that you can move forward in an effort to bring yourself more genuine happiness.  Make the decision to love yourself now.

And when it comes to choosing the career that is right for you, make sure the things you will actually be doing in that career are things that make you feel good at the time you are doing them.  They should be things that you most naturally and intuitively do.  Since I was a child I have been making scrapbooks and lists full of my insights on the “best” ways to live.  I’m obsessed with solving problems and uncovering the truth, especially when it involves personal development, society, and relationships.  It’s something that I couldn’t stop doing even if I tried.  In this career, I will never “work” a day in my life.

A note on open-mindedness

Remaining open minded is generally seen as a good thing.  However, it can sometimes be rooted in an unhealthy fear of missing out (FoMO).  According to recent research, the majority of adult Millennials suffer from very high levels of FoMO.  This is problematic, as FoMO is associated with depression, physical symptoms, and negative health outcomes (Baker et al., 2016).

It has been shown time and time again that the more options we have, the less happy we are.  And now with the advent of the internet we have more options, information, and opportunities than ever.  As a result, we have forgotten the importance of conscious decision-making.  This is one of the lesser known reasons as to why we struggle so much with practicing gratitude.

What is conscious decision making?  It is when we make a firm decision to keep something in our life, focus on that, and forget about alternatives.  When we do this, we will be happier because we are no longer experiencing the mental torment that comes from wondering “what if?” and we will naturally recognize and appreciate the beauty in what we already have.

This article provides another excellent definition of conscious decision making: “[it is when] you are no longer making choices to avoid something, but instead are making choices to create something.”  Making conscious decisions about what we want in our life and sticking to them, not only keeps us happy, but it also keeps us focused on creating our ideal life.  It frees us from the overwhelm that other alternatives impose on us and shifts our focus to improving the quality of what we already have.  And with most things in life, quality is much better than quantity.

The acronym “FoMO” says it all: This way of living is fear-based – and living in fear is not a healthy way to live.  When you do not fully accept the good things that you have in your life, it is because you fear missing out on something more or something else.  And constantly ruminating on how things could be better is a trap that will keep you always wanting more and more.  Because no matter what you have, there can always be some way to improve it.

After everything we’ve gone through in this article, I want you to ask yourself why you chose to read it in the first place.  Do you want to manifest something new in your life because you fear that the things you already have are not good enough?  Or do you have a genuine desire to create something that you legitimately don’t already have?

One of the most empowering abilities you can develop as an individual is the ability to recognize what is “good enough” and decide to nurture that to be the best it can be.  Deciding to keep what is “good enough” in your life is not “settling” (as some say, with a negative connotation).  It is shifting from a place of fear, to a place of gratitude; from a place of resistance, to a place of acceptance; from an unhealthy need for control, to a healthy appreciation of what is.

Don’t try to abandon your beautiful, curious, open mind altogether – just learn to recognize when it is doing more harm than good.  And, no, I am not saying that you should keep something in your life that you feel is causing you pain.  What I am saying is that before removing it, you should first try to identify the source of that pain.  Many times the source of that pain is your mind (your interpretation of the situation).  If the situation itself can be fixed, fix it.  If not, THEN move on.  Don’t get caught in the trap of always wanting bigger and better – unless of course you enjoy being unhappy.

Being open minded will bring you new experiences and therefore personal growth.  But engaging in a new experience is usually a very easy (and appealing) decision to make.  Don’t you agree?  Sometimes though, this is because an “open-minded” decision is really a mask for a decision to “take the easy way out” of a difficult situation.  If you instead resist that temptation, decide to stick with something you already have, and nurture it to its full capacity, it will force you to grow as a person in ways you never thought possible.  It may be less comfortable, but I promise it is so much more rewarding (this is why difficult experiences build character :))

Thinking of breaking up with your partner?  Taking that job?  Going on a new diet?  Running away from society to live off the land?  Just make sure your decisions are coming from a healthy, love-based mindset.  Recognize the difference between unhealthy “settling” and a healthy, conscious decision.

One final note

If you want to get clear on what exactly it is that you want in a partner (so that you can attract the right one into your life), I recommend repeating the exercise outlined in this article for that purpose alone.  I talk more in depth on how to do this in Part 3 of this series.

I sincerely hope that you’ve found this guide helpful.  Stay tuned for future posts in the Manifestation series!

Click here to continue to Part 2

References

Baker, Zachary & Krieger, Heather & LeRoy, Angie. (2016). Fear of missing out: Relationships with depression, mindfulness, and physical symptoms. Translational Issues in Psychological Science. 2. 275-282. 10.1037/tps0000075.