I am a huge believer in seeking out people who are doing things better than me and asking for help. In the last couple years, I feel like I grew up a lot in this regard. I used to feel that if I asked someone for help, it was an admission that I didn’t know what I was doing or that I didn’t have it all figured out. Well, of course I actually didn’t have it all figured out, but more importantly, I came to the realization that by NOT asking, I wasn’t getting any better. I was maxed out on what I could teach myself, at least without it taking me many years. I started by reading and doing some light introspective work on my own, but it was only in the last year that I sought out a spiritual coach and a business mentor (2 different people). And the truth of it is that in seeking out people who have been where I am, and now are doing it a lot better, I have been able to cut years of lessons out of my education in both business and spiritual growth, learn shortcuts and get better a whole lot faster.
Yesterday, I checked in with my spiritual coach and after a long phone call, I felt like I could take on anything life threw at me. It is a great feeling, and with practice, it creates possibilities and pushes me to higher places than I ever though possible. So, who better to share it with than you all? :)
So, here are 7 insights I have learned and practiced in the past year under a great coach, friend and mentor. Remember, these specific lessons resonate strongly with me and my experiences, but I think in many ways, they are universal, if you are open to them. The goal for my seeking out a spiritual coach in the first place was to learn how to be at peace with myself, my relationships and to be able to sustain happiness. Here goes:
1) Nothing is personal. In the quest for personal freedom, understand that whatever people do it because of them, not us. Sure, we might have done something that acted as a catalyst, but ultimately people act out of their own insecurities and personal circumstances. When I realize that truly nothing is personal, it allows me to feel happier and less attached to people’s affirmation (or not) of me.
2) People will always do what they do, stop being surprised. At one point, I was constantly asking the question, “WHY is that happening?” or “WHY does so-and-so DO that??” etc. Even though I still may not “get” someone, I never have to ask the question of why what they are doing is different than what I would have done in a similar situation. The answer is always, because that’s what they do. There’s no judgment about it. It is just “what is” and no amount of kicking, screaming or judging is going to change that. Acceptance is so much more liberating.
3) Expectations for others only get us in trouble. A toughie! But, how can we not have expectations for others??? Isn’t that what life is built around? Isn’t that what relationships are built on? Trust that the other person will do what we expect them to? Well, if you have been in a long term relationship, you already know that people will always do what they do. And why shouldn’t they? How are we supposed to know what’s best for someone else? All I can expect is that people will do what they need to do for them. I can certainly have emotions about that, but the ultimately (and in my opinion, only) expectation I can have for someone else is that they will do what makes them happy. And if that’s not in line with what I want them to do, then fine. Why does it have to be, really?
4) Living in victimhood keeps us from action. When we feel like a victim of our circumstances, we are paralyzed. We literally cannot see a way out. There’s no growth, no moving forward or changing if we continue to hang on to what we don’t have or what we can’t do or what cards we have been dealt. Ditching the what-happened-to-me mindset and adopting the reality that I can always DO something to change my reality, even if it’s simply changing my attitude, makes me feel like anything is possible. The victim mentality is the opposite of possibility thinking.
5) The only thing you can control is your attitude. Building on #4. Ultimately, we cannot control outcomes, other people or circumstances. Nothing is guaranteed in life. But what we always have control over is how we interact with the world. We can CHOOSE to see possibilities, we can CHOOSE to be hopeful, we can CHOOSE to take action (even if we can’t guarantee it will elicit a specific outcome) and we can CHOOSE to do our best despite the obstacles, struggles and failures life throws at us. In fact, the biggest opportunities for growth lie in CHOOSING to be resilient in times of struggle.
6) Gratitude is the key to personal freedom. Practicing gratitude has been a new behavior for me in the last 9 months or so. And it literally changes your life. When you can consciously be appreciative for literally anything (your spouse, your home, your job, your friends, even just the water that comes out of your shower head every morning!), it elicits a sense of inner peace and detachment. Being unattached to “out there” can be a good thing because it means you put less stock into other people’s actions and behaviors. You are free to be you without expectations or affirmation. You are self-affirmed :)
7) Our happiness lies in our perception. We blogged on this recently–the idea that you can literally change your reality by simply choosing your mindset. If you have the mindset that “eating healthy is hard” than you will most certainly experience eating healthy to be hard. If you choose, “I suck” than you will continue seeking out ways to prove to yourself that you suck. It is literally as simple as what you think becomes your reality; what you say becomes your reality.
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.” –Henry Ford
Remember, these are the lessons that resonate with me, you might have a completely different set of lessons that allow for you to live happily and feel personally fulfilled. That is what this practice is about for me. I would love to hear some positive affirmations that have worked for you! Leave a comment below :) ox Jill