Practice Self-appreciation

Practice self appreciation to reinforce self- confidence and to grow your self-esteem

“Everything that happens to you is a reflection of what you believe about yourself. We cannot outperform our level of self-esteem. We cannot draw to ourselves more than we think we are worth.” – Iyanla Vanzant

Do you ever wonder why you are unable to accomplish your full potential. May be it is due to your inner critic who is constantly scrutinising and criticising your every action. This lowers your self-esteem and self-worth both which are essential for you to achieve your goals. Without these, your talents, skills, knowledge and intelligence can go untapped.

In today’s world, increasing competitiveness has led to a lot of achievement anxiety. Many suffer from dissatisfied selves and they often fear being left hopelessly behind. We begin to torture ourselves with thoughts about our inadequacies, starting from our appearances to the work we do to the success we achieve. This leads to people practice a habit of disesteeming. So how does one unlearn the practice of lowering their self-esteem and confidence?

Unlearning disesteeming can happen with learning to develop self-appreciation.

Importance of Self-appreciation

Self-appreciation is accepting yourself without the conditions of being perfect or attaining personal summit of any sort. This is a process of understanding your own value, and accepting what is real about yourself and what you want to do and what you want to be. By learning to appreciate yourself you receive positive reinforcements which further improves your self-esteem.

All of us nearly lose touch with our innate goodness and fail to love and appreciate ourselves. We cover it up with or come under the shadow of people’s opinions and expectations out of us. So, as a result we feel only partly deserving and begin to berate ourselves. If your mind is obsessed by thoughts of insecurity and inadequacy, it is due to the fact that such things have dominated your thinking for a long period of time. Deep within you begin to mistrust your ability to grasp opportunities and to meet responsibilities.

How deserving you are mostly depends on what you believe you deserve and only to the degree that you appreciate your inner worthiness. Success involves talent, effort and creativity, but first of all it requires self-confidence. Self-appreciation is sum of your overall sense of value, worth, goodness and deservedness and so is the measure of your confidence.

You need to learn how to start appreciating yourself and learn to give credit for strengths you possess. It is very essential to reappraise your self-esteem.

Here are some toxic thoughts you can eliminate in order to grow your self-appreciation and self-esteem.

Stop criticising yourself

If we tell ourselves that we are okay, no matter what is going on, we can make changes in our lives easily. It is when we make ourselves bad that we have great difficulty. When we get in the habit of judging ourselves, we lower our self-worth and feel not good enough. We find ways to keep ourselves miserable. We create illnesses, we procrastinate things that would benefit us. We fail to recognise our uniqueness when we get critical of ourselves and obscure it.

Your self-love must not be dependent upon you being perfect. Self-criticism might lead to more negative behaviour. Stop judging your own mistakes so harshly. Do not make the opinions of others more important than your own opinion of yourself. Tell yourself you are wonderful and praise yourself quite often.

“The things you don’t like about yourself don’t make you any less acceptable. Everyone has things they don’t like about themselves. No one is perfect. Learn to work with yourself and not against yourself. Learn to work with the parts of yourself you don’t like as much.”

Akiroq Brost

Stop being unkind to yourself

You need not hate yourself for having negative thoughts. Don’t blame yourself for negative experiences. Being kind to yourself means you stop all the blame and guilt. We all come under constant pressure of being perfectionists. Difficulties and problems tend to sap energy and we tend to yield lot of self-hate.

When you love and trust yourself, you are loving and trusting the wisdom that created you. If you are unkind to yourself, you are not trusting the wisdom that created you and you begin to develop a pessimistic view of world around you. This creates an obstacle that will inhibit your sense of self-appreciation. Begin to develop an optimistic view and appreciate your abilities. It is important to recognise that your view of things around you is based on how much you are kind to yourself and respect you have for yourself.

Stop catastrophizing

When you think that a bad situation is going to end up far worse than it actually is, you are catastrophising. In a way, you are blowing things out of proportion expecting worst out of life and out of many situations.

Scaring yourself with frightful thoughts makes situations worse than they are. Some do this when they are ill often visualising the worst. Some do this with their job. For instance, someone makes a remark at work, they think they are going to be fired. This leads to paralysing thoughts and leads to low self-esteem. Focus on your inner talk and match them with your desires and not with your fright.

When you are tensed and frightened, we shut off our energy. Take few minutes and allow the body and the mind to let go and relax. At any moment, practice taking few deep breaths. Appreciate yourself and affirm that you don’t have to go through life tense and frightened.

Stop negative self-talk

Negative self-talk refers to having negative image of yourself. Every time you say negative things to yourself you are appraising your negative self image. If you repeatedly think negative about yourself, you hold yourself back from having what you want. Very little you can do to better your situation with continued negativity.

Many negatively self-talk themselves out of success. They do this because of some difficulties or it is because they remember somebody talking down to them from their past. Every time a negative thought appears, switch it out with positive. Affirm that you deserve success and remove self-doubt and self-judgment. Unconditionally love yourself and begin with self-acceptance and self-love. Listen to your inner dialogue. Recognise negative self-talk and choose not to engage in it. Expel all thoughts of doubt and all lack of confidence.

“Relentless, repetitive self talk is what changes our self-image.” – Denis Waitley

Stop visualising negative outcomes

If you set out to do something, keep a solid picture of the completed work you are doing. You can create a clear, positive image that enhances a positive outcome. Formulate a mental picture of yourself succeeding. Never think of yourself failing. Doubting the reality of the mental image lowers your self-confidence and self-esteem.

Whenever a negative thought appears, deliberately cancel it out with a positive. Do not build obstacles in your imagination by expecting negative outcomes. Minimise your obstacles so as to eliminate them. Always picture yourself of succeeding no matter how badly things seem to be going at the moment. Mentally visualising and affirming your positives and emphasising them lets you rise out of any difficulty and leads to positive outcome.

Finally, fill your mind with peaceful and loving thoughts. Develop a loving attitude towards yourself. Feelings of self-love, self-appreciation and confidence depend upon the type of thoughts that habitually occupy your mind. Practice self-appreciation by making it a dominating habit. This develops confidence in your abilities regardless of what difficulties arise and you will be able to overcome them. Improved self-esteem disempowers your fears and insecurities.

To sum up—If you can be satisfied with yourself now, you can love and approve of yourself and begin to love and accept others as well.

Be Persistent in your efforts

Perseverance is important when it comes to being successful. Right motivation and strong willpower helps you overcome the tendency to give up.

Many of us accept what life gives us instead of going out and creating things for ourselves. Those who have the determination to achieve their goals always surge ahead to chase their frontiers of success. Success largely depends on living with right intent, virtues, purpose and direction.

Successful are not necessarily smarter or more talented than their less successful counterparts. They are only more disciplined, determined and courageous to use their will power in righteous ways in getting what they want. Many smart people fall by the wayside because they strive only when there are short bursts of motivation or either they use will power without the right purpose. Perseverance is an important trait to develop in order to become successful.

Perseverance is diligently working towards challenges and the ability to maintain the effort over long periods of time despite facing difficulties in the path. Motivation and Will Power help you persist in your endeavours.

Why Motivation is important?

When you want to achieve something or when you act out of desire to pursue a habit or a goal, you depend upon the feeling of motivation or interest. Motivation is like a welcome wind at your back that helps you to stay persistent. Motivation can vary in nature depending on the factors that influence you to pursue your goal.

Extrinsic Motivation

You tend to act on extrinsic motivation when you expect something in the form of reward or act because you will be punished. For instance, you exercise because you want to be complimented on how you look. This kind of motivation has its downsides as it only lasts as long as the external motivator is applied and you value it. Extrinsic motivators can be created in order to achieve a particular habit or a goal.

Intrinsic Motivation

You are intrinsically motivated when you do something because you find it inherently satisfying. May be you eat healthy food because you prefer the taste. This is more powerful than extrinsic, but the downside is that there is not always a way to create it. This depends on your interests, likes and passion.

Prosocial Motivation

This motivation comes from the desire to help others or support a cause you care about. This can be very powerful motivation and has both intrinsic and extrinsic motivators. For instance, you might want to work harder to create something that will benefit people.

Knowing why your goal is important and finding what motivates lets you build positive aspects that support your chosen purpose. Tapping into your motivational energies improves your ability to persevere.

Sometimes, when we plan to take up one goal or purpose like learning a new sport or losing weight, we enjoy motivating ourselves for short period, but after the initial gratification, when things get harder, when there are certain obstacles, most of us feel stuck and we are unable to push through. That is when you should rely on the will power to carry you through.

“Use motivation when you find it, but rely on willpower when you don’t.”

Motivation only works in the moment. In order to persist in non-windy days, you have to rely on your Willpower.

Here are some ways to strengthen your will power to move in the direction of your goals.

Develop tolerance

Sometimes failure and difficulties distort the perception of your goals. It also distorts the perception of your abilities. You should learn to endure the situations that seem to be against. Learn to tolerate the unfavourable situations and overcome the obstacles in order to pursue your goals. In the pursuit of your goal you might face rejection and criticism. Strengthen your willpower by being tolerant and to be independent of the opinion of others.

Be patient with yourself

“Patience is power. Patience is not an absence of action; rather it is “timing”it waits on the right time to act, for the right principles and in the right way.”

Fulton J. Sheen

Seeking a goal makes you impatient with your progress. Most of us suffer from the expectation of immediate gratification ‘I must have it now.’ We don’t have the patience to wait and get irritable if we have to. Impatience is a resistance to learning. We want the answers without doing the steps necessary. Impatience weakens your willpower to persist. If you are patient, you can nurture the seeds of will to achieve your goal.

Establish a routine

You can achieve a little bit of something if you learn to follow a simple routine which requires to little or no effort. Sometimes establishing a routine with proper rest and not putting too much pressure can make the daunting process of pursuing your goal much easier. When it is broken into small steps and repeated every single day, it becomes an automatic behaviour. Establish similar routines for every goal you want to achieve.

Develop mental toughness

You can train your willpower to help you handle difficult situations so that you can persevere without losing confidence. Mental toughness can be developed by exposing yourself to tough situations. This way you can slowly push your limits and can expand your safe zone. Continuous small improvements will ensure you won’t give up on your goal. Apply time-limited and quantity-limited discipline to make yourself mentally tough.

Focus on what is in your control

Willpower involves self-control. By controlling your habits and tendencies, you can accomplish what you will. Breakdown your goal in question to those aspects that are in control. Then go through the aspects that are not in control. You will need to determine what you can and cannot control. Your behaviour is the only thing you can control by applying your will. Focus only those things that are in your control.

Develop passion

“If you have a strong purpose in life, you don’t have to be pushed. Your passion will drive you there.”

Roy T. Bennett

Developing passion in whatever you do helps you to persevere longer. Having realistic expectations and figuring out what is that you really care about and what matters you most improves your perseverance. There is no added pressure and the interest will make you stick to the goal you are pursuing.

Stop trying too hard

Sometimes exerting too much pressure causes lapses in your willpower. Like the muscles get fatigued when they are overworked, similarly your willpower can fail you when it is overworked and undernourished. Be aware of how much effort and willpower you are exerting. You must avoid situations where your willpower will be continuously taxed without rest. Engage yourself in certain activities that you find relaxing and refreshing in order to restore your will.

Transform your negative habits

To make yourself persistent at your efforts you must liberate yourself from negative tendencies. Some psychological traits or behaviour that we pick from others tend to shape our life. They produce patterns that appear fixed and automatic. We have to exert force of our will to change our negative habits. Make use of the opportunities to transcend these negative habits to gain better control of your will.

Develop self-discipline

Shying away from risk and wallowing in self-pity puts you off from going after things you really want. Just going with the flow because it’s easier weakens your willpower and cannot persevere during tough times. Create a plan and stick to it with certain amount of discipline. Discipline yourself by being in charge of your thoughts to organise your behaviour towards a specific goal.

Practice mindfulness

If you are pessimistic and have been reinforcing negative thought patterns your whole life, you need to make an effort to break out of those and start thinking in a more positive and success oriented manner. Mindfulness can be practiced as an intentional form of meditation to restructure your negative thought patterns and to strengthen your willpower.

Finally, In any of our efforts there are bound to be difficulties, moments of doubt, anxiety, disappointment and setbacks. But we most likely overcome if those efforts contribute to something larger than ourselves and give us meaning. Find the right purpose as it can be a powerful source of motivation for you to persevere and be patient as it can take time to overcome your negative thoughts and habits.

Try and apply the above steps to persevere in your endeavours.

Know what is it that you want to achieve. Know how you are going to achieve them. Replace negative self-talk with positives.If you aren’t getting enough, try new approaches to persevere.

NEEDS influence your Decision-making

“What we perceive as needs and what we perceive as wants, influence the choices we make.”

NEEDS motivate human behaviour and they correspond to certain beliefs we have. For every habit we have, for every experience we go through over and over, for every pattern we repeat, there is NEED within us for it. Primary influences on our decisions and choices we make in our lives are often the perceptions we have of our needs and wants.

If there were not a need, we wouldn’t have it, do it, or be it. In other words we are always motivated by our needs. Both needs and wants represent the desired results we strive to achieve. They are important influences. Many times we might end up choosing a want over a need. We are often pushed and pulled in many directions with a need elevating the choice of one want over that of another want. Differentiating NEEDS from WANTS helps us to weigh our options more carefully by knowing what is influencing our decision.

NEEDS are different from WANTS

You may WANT your NEEDS, but more frequently, you end up wanting things that are not really associated with your needs. Needs are gaps in results and there is a satisfier to close those gaps. Needs have purpose and there are always multiple alternative satisfiers to any need.

WANTS are choices we make on the basis of what we believe is important. There is nothing wrong with wanting things. What is important is that we should be able to differentiate between our needs and our wants with their satisfiers in order to take better decisions. By focusing on what we want, we may miss the things we need most to meet our goals. The decisions we make are directly proportional to the needs we have to satisfy.

Nature of NEEDS

Some needs are instrumental and their existence depends on there being an end goal or purpose. They are gone once the goal is achieved. Some needs are absolutes. They just exist. For instance, you can never overcome a continual need for food, water and shelter. Understanding the nature of needs as whether they are absolutes or instrumental is important to recognise their implications on how we consider needs within our lives.

The needs at personal level might vary from absolutes to being instrumental. First, you must meet your basic-level needs ( such as food and shelter) then needs of safety (such as personal, financial, health and well-being) before you are motivated to focus on higher-level needs (such as belonging, creativity).

The needs at societal level to achieve our societal ambitions like well-being, survival, and quality of life are absolutes. Needs at organisational level are instrumental. Universal needs for competence, freedom, and psychological relatedness motivate our behaviour and these needs are absolutes. They are essential to our psychological health and well-being.

Know your NEEDS

Our decisions are responsive to our needs. We know our needs by feeling them, as we feel strong desires or emotions. Needs are more like medical conditions, they have signs and symptoms. Through these symptoms you get to know your needs. We always get motivated to take certain actions in order to reduce the internal tension that is caused by unmet needs. Think about the nature of needs in your life. Are they absolute? or do they serve a purpose? Knowing their nature provides you a better perspective.

Struggle between our needs and wants influence our decisions, though most of us pay little attention to them. Identifying and assessing your needs can improve your decisions and help you achieve valuable results.

Here are some changes you can make to improve the quality of results you get from your decisions.

IDENTITY your needs

Here is a simple way to identify your needs. Look back into your past and ask yourself what needs were being met whenever you made right decisions. Make a list of your needs, check them by asking is this true need for me or do I want it because of something. This way you can identify your actual needs and not confuse yourself with wants.

ASSESS your needs

You can make comparisons among your needs and use the information to guide your decisions. Identify your needs and assess them by comparing the results you want to accomplish to the results you are currently achieving.

MEASURE your needs

Needs should be assessed and measured in order to help guide your decisions towards your desired result. Measure gaps in results by subtracting the current result from the desired result.

FOCUS on the results

Focus on the results you want to accomplish first. “ if you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” If you don’t know what results you want to achieve, then any decision will do. Plan your actions by aligning with your goals and objectives. If you have a purpose, you know how and what you need to do and can assess your needs accordingly.

PRIORITISE your needs

Understanding the purpose and results help you prioritise your needs. Do not just limit your needs to just being those things which you can’t live without.

Write down the results you would like to accomplish in a year and compare this to your current result, assess your gap and prioritise and take your actions to close the gap.

THINK of wants as Underlying needs

We often fail when we try and cut back completely on our wants because of their happiness inducing nature. Wants are just an expression of underlying needs. Totally cutting out our wants will never last because we are actually cutting that need. Think of a want in your life and what underlying need(s) you are fulfilling with that want. Decide on ways to fulfil those underlying needs.

Know your OPTIONS

You will improve your decision-making by considering options. All needs have multiple satisfiers. Look for different options even though you think one satisfier is going to be the best choice. There are always multiple ways to achieve any result. Thus, there are other alternatives to consider.

RECONSIDER your needs

When the need pops as “I need to….” ask yourself what results you really want to achieve. Do you really need it? Or is it want? or can you change things so you don’t need it? Do not elevate any want to the level of need as yet. Always think of what purpose it is going to serve if you fulfil it. This way you will be able to take right decisions and be at your personal best rather than being part of the rat race.

Finally, push yourself to think bigger than your personal needs or organisational needs. Work with others and align for higher purpose. Doing so will give you a broader perspective and help you define your needs more concretely.

Build Strong Memory

Memory is an essential pre-requisite of all learning. Building strong memory improves thought system and intellect.

 

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Memory is an important aspect of your ‘self’ and is formed by your mental habits.

“The human brain can remember events, skills, habits, and experiences. The sum of what is remembered is called a memory”-Frank Knoll

Memory loss is often attributed to aged and elderly. As you get older, you lose your imaginative skills. However, in recent years, there is a sharp increase in the number of people reporting memory related issues irrespective of their age. Majority of these cases are associated with lifestyle dysfunctions, over dependency on technology, and information overload. Tension and stress further weakens our memory system.

It is interesting to know that the left side of our brain deals with logic, language, numbers, and sequence, while the right is connected with visualisation of images, colour, and awareness. However, both can undertake all kinds of activities. You shouldn’t say that you do not have the capacity to learn or that you are weak in a certain subject. In fact, it may be because you have not developed an interest in that particular subject. By improving your memory you can use both sides of the brain.

Impressions of all mental and physical actions, observation and Visualisation in our subconscious mind creates our memory.
Our memory system has the ability to retain impressions of past thoughts in the form of attitudes, moods, or resolves. Memories are not duplicate impressions of earlier events, but reconstructions of earlier events.

Understanding memory

Memory is an active process and depends on what your brain chooses to remember and for what duration. There are three stages by which clear memory is formed.

Registration: Registering the information by the perception of sense organs forms the short-term memory system. This is very limited and should be used for registering the information clearly. Otherwise, the waste and negative information might replace it.

Retention: This is the process of storing the particular information for longer duration and this involves visual images and association with words or other experiences such as smell or sounds.

Recollection: The information stored up is brought up into conscious mind when required. This further depends on the state of the mind which helps to recall the full information stored.

Depending on the above stages, each information is processed and stored by our brain based on its intended use. Memory can be further classified.
* We tend to forget certain information as soon as it has served its purpose. This is termed as Working memory which usually lasts for few minutes to few hours and cannot be retained for longer hours.
* There are certain memories that occur at particular time and place. We register and label them with time stamps and in certain context. This is Episodic memory which allows your brain to travel back to that place and time when you try to recount that event.
* Procedural memory involves deliberate acts of learning and we can eventually recall without deliberation. For instance learning how to play a musical instrument or learning to drive.
* When we learn Information based on facts and related to general knowledge, it is stored in the brain. This is Semantic memory. This can be retained for longer time and depends on the practice and differs from person to person.

Why do we forget?

Lack of Attention
Attention directs mental activity to register an object or situation. Not being able to pay proper attention to anything forms a weak impression on our memory. In the absence of clear attention, no clear impression and therefore no clear memory to recall.

Lack of Mental exercise
We get mentally out of shape when we stop challenging our minds. This happens when we opt for habitual solutions instead of purposeful thought or when we confine ourselves to limited range of interests. Your ability to make decisions, to solve problems, to concentrate and to think creatively depends on how well you exercise your mind.

Lack of Physical exercise
Our bodies are very much a part of our learning as learning is not an isolated brain function. Every nerve cell is a network contributing to our memory and our learning capability. Complex movement stimulates complex thinking. Lack of these movements leads to low memory.

Lack of Interest
Interest is important for concentration and thereby for improved memory. Things, which we are deeply interested in, are remembered without conscious effort. Lack of interest leads to interference of other thoughts and activities which distract us from giving undivided attention to a certain subject or situation.

Lack of Sleep
When we are sleeping, brain consolidates, revises information, builds and strengthens pathways for particular memories. If you routinely deprive your body of sufficient sleep, your longtime memory will eventually deteriorate. Many harmones that are important for healthy brain functioning are secreted during the night time. Any interruption to this will make it difficult for us to recall even those memories that are retained.

Lack of Emotional Clarity
When we are emotionally upset or worried, we cannot concentrate and register the information properly. Emotional distress shrinks working memory and so diminishes the ability ṭo think and imagine clearly. Our memory and emotional states are closely linked. All our confusions are emotional ones and they befog the mind and rob it of it’s clarity.
“A clear mind remembers, a confused mind forgets.”

Lack of Relaxation
Moḍern lifestyles compel multitasking and can lead to too much work, loads of information to process, and less time to rest or relax which reduces our concentration power and creates stress. General and unwanted information leads to more confusion and loss of memory. Very less energy is spared for sharpening the mind and becomes dull and less receptive.

Lack of Relevance or Understanding
We remember what is relevant and important to us. The more relevant, the better we understand, the better we learn and the better our memory system retains and recalls when necessary. Lack of association, relevance and understanding results in non-comprehension and loss of memory power.

Few techniques to improve your memory.

Create strong impressions: Various impressions of past,present and future converge upon the mind. For stronger impressions, you need to involve all your five senses. When the impression is stronger, the memory recall will be faster and easier. Stronger impressions are formed when more than one sense is involved. Create impressions of positive and necessary information which further strengthens same impressions in your active memory.

Create interest: Improve your concentration by strengthening your interest. This compels you to give undivided attention and to concentrate by excluding other thoughts that might interfere. When you have clear-cut goals and when you know what you do helps you achieve your goals, you will automatically develop an interest.

Concentration: Develop the habit of reining your mind every time it wanders to other things. Concentration automatically leads to stronger impression. Try to build habits such as mindfulness and other habits that are conducive to concentration. A quiet mind is the best guarantee of concentration.

Unclutter your mind: Overwhelming your brain with unwanted and too much information will make it difficult to encode the information in the form of memories. Unclutter your mind by scheduling, organising, setting goals, planning for next day and preparing a ‘to do’ list. This way you can free your mind from unnecessary burden.

Association: Association helps improving your memory. The mind has a tendency ṭo associate the new to the old that were similar.
“Here’s a basic memory rule: You Can Remember Any New Piece of Information if It Is Associated to Something You Already Know or Remember” – Harry Lorayne.

Create memory technique of comprehension: Comprehend the subject of interest under six headings that is why, where, what,when, who and how. Try to understand by asking these questions. It is a permanent way of remembering.

Build positive emotional memory: Emotional memory is the memory attached to past events, people and places. Positive thoughts with positive emotions create healthy mind and receptive mind for better memory. By creating positive emotional memory, you can recall successful solutions to the similar problems of the past.

Remain stress free : Stress reduces brain functions such as memory, intellect, and even brings premature old age. It affects our concentration and learning ability all of which are essential for effective performance at work. Remain stress free for better recollection. This can be achieved most naturally when both the body and the mind are relaxed. Deep breathing and other meditation techniques help you remain stress free thereby enhancing memory power.

Mental and physical exercise: Some of the simple games we played as children can help tone up the brain and reinforce the functions of sequential thinking, logic and remembering the names and dates. Crossword puzzles or a round of scrabble offer as an excellent method of mental workout. Swimming or other physical activities stimulate brain synchronisation. Rhythmic movements such as dancing, skating, or walking also improves the memory.

 

 

 

 

Illuminate your dark side

Illuminate your dark side

There is a dark side within all of us, whether we display it or not that puts a fierce resistance to change. We are always under pressure to be good and we don’t want to show our less politically correct selves. Broadcasting an image merely to seek appreciation and acceptance of others erodes our self esteem. Even talented and successful people remain anxious and insecure if they hide behind a social mask.

Your personal shadow is the sum of those aspects of your being that you deny, repress, devalue and disown. These rejected qualities of your personality need not necessarily be evil,immoral or negative. They force our mind to come up with reasons to disown or reject them. “What you reject, for whatever reason, becomes part of your shadow. In other words, your shadow is what you insist you are not.”

According to Carl Jungian Philosophy, the shadow is the Unconscious part of our minds. In a person with low self-esteem, these shadow parts could end up overtaking some of the positive aspects. Fear of being judged for these negative aspects of your personality might lead to suppression of more feelings which may not be totally negative. For instance, many men, rejecting fear, bury their sensitive and nourishing qualities into their shadow. Many women rejecting anger, push their assertive, warrior qualities into their shadow. We always try to build an image in our ego that fits into positive version of ourselves. When we fail to achieve this version which we built, we give rise to a host of negative reactions.

Accepting your ‘self’ with both positives and negatives not only improves your self-esteem but also opens up a possibility to change and provides an opportunity to grow. For instance, Knowing that you have a lazy side helps you to consciously indulge in work rather than giving into your tendencies.

Illuminating your dark side

“Your shadow lives a life of unseen feelings, animating forces, and stifled roles that cry out for repression.”

When you start illuminating, you will be able to channel their expression in positive and constructive ways.

1. Makes you ‘complete’ by embracing your feelings, tendencies and highs & lows. In finding wholeness, you become willing to accept what you have and opportunities whether or not you feel worthy.

2. You regain your ‘authentic self’. Most of us fear that if other people really know us, they would reject us and we tend to show ourselves in bits and pieces. By accepting your dark side, you come to realise there is nothing left to hide.

3. You regain ‘control’ on your life. Your shadow is what you have not seen. It is the unknown that always tends to have control. You don’t have to deny your darker side. Acknowledging your dark side lets you regain your control on your life and you can act decisively.

4. You experience greater ‘freedom’ and ‘Compassion’ towards others. When you come to discover your shadow, you free the energy and attention that was previously bound up in defending an idealised self-image. We come to realise that we too share same fears and pretences and it becomes more difficult to criticise others.

“ knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darkness of other people.”- Carl Jung

Ways to illuminate your dark side.

Through Meditation and confession.

Confession is good for the self and meditation is yet another form of confession. In meditation, the content you hide from the world rises to the surface of your awareness to be noticed. Confession acts as light that illuminates your dark side. Don’t try too hard to destroy or make it disappear. Take notice of the dark side. Just illuminating the shadow reveals that the shadow you feared might destroy you is the one that can set you free.

Through finding your balance.

There is always a tug-of-war between opposing values inside of us. Finding a balance by learning to cooperate by integrating the aspects of our character that we previously rejected helps us to illuminate the dark side. Finding greater balance helps us integrate all our inner conflicts and inconsistencies thereby creating an opportunity for a flexible approach to life and to change into the person you want to be.

Through Contemplation and reflection.

Contemplation is focused reflection on a particular aspect that leads to a better insight and improves your awareness. By contemplating on what you gave and received and what troubles or difficulties are caused because of you reveals much of your shadow side. You begin to see the reality by observing what most bothers or irritates you about other people and makes you realise that those very qualities you would most strongly deny if accused of having.

Reflecting on your relationship with others shifts your attitude from resentment to gratitude and criticism to kindness. When you look at your own tendencies and consider carefully what you can do about them, you will be able to live constructively.

Illuminating your shadow reveals your dependence on unconditional worth of reality which includes all things and people around you.

As your understanding of ‘self’ improves, you will be able to eliminate worries, anger and anxiety.

continue to refine yourself by illuminating your shadow.

Strengthen your “creative muscle”

“The world we have made as a result of the level of thinking we have done thus far creates problems we cannot solve at the same level of thinking at which we created them.” Albert Einstein.

Our brain is a power house of creative energy. From this springs new ideas. Unleashing our creative power needs a different kind of thinking. Creative thinking is simply finding new, improved ways to do anything and it leads to increased well-being.

“ The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones.”- John Maynard Keynes.

Curiosity can lead to new ideas and creative thinking ability grows when your original perspective is challenged. A closed mind cannot lead to much creative thinking as compared to an open mind. By stepping outside old, rigid norms and narrow confines of stagnant thoughts, you can explore bold new ideas to reach your goals and success.

Creativity is an important skill to be learned and practiced and harnessing it strengthens your authentic self. Here are some ways to strengthen your creative thinking ability.

Accept your flaws.

“ To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.” – Joseph C. Pearce.

Mistakes are a pathway to innovation and growth. Trying to be right always makes you forego thinking outside the box for the fear of going wrong. Develop an ability to accept the flaws and realise their potential to generate new ideas. It is okay if you go wrong when you are trying something new. Learn and go on to get it right next time.

Develop a strong sense of belief.

Many of us stop thinking creatively to achieve our goals simply because we concentrate on why we can’t. Instead concentrate on why we can.

“ Belief releases creative powers. Disbelief puts the brakes on.”

When you believe, something can be done, your mind thinks creatively and finds ways to do it. Believe and you will start to think constructively. Avoid the word impossible from your thinking.

Remove the cobwebs of self doubt and prejudice.

Cultivate a habit of positive emotions.

We have a habit of viewing the events through our lens and segregate them as positive and negative. Make a habit to categorise more events positive and experience positive emotions such as joy and appreciation. This opens your mind and changes your outlook on the situations. Your thinking gets flexible, innovative, and increases your creative output. This may not lead to fame or fortune all the time, but can strengthen your creative thinking by experiencing positive emotions.

Strengthen your creativity by asking and listening.

Encourage others to talk and listen to what others say and evaluate. In personal conversations or work meetings, exchange and discuss new ideas. This way, your mind soaks up raw material which you can use to produce creative thought. Write down your ideas and review them. Test your own views in the form of questions. Let others help you better your ideas by being open to their suggestions. Associate with people who can help you think new ideas and make your ideas grow.

Keep a positive focus.

When we learn to enjoy using our creative energy, it generates its own internal force to keep our attention focused. When you immerse yourself in creative activities and follow your passion, your mind opens up to new possibilities. With the positive focus the authentic self gets strengthened and finds ways of bringing as much creativity as possible.

Look for good problems.

One of the most common excuse people give for not being creative is that they lack ideas. The inspiration isn’t coming. Often people focus on something new and original. But this may not be fruitful every time. Observe and look for problem areas. Every problem we face needs a creative solution. Thinking of solutions for the problems will improve your creativity muscle.

Avoid traditional thinking.

“Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way.”- Edward de Bono.

Traditional thinking freezes your mind, blocks your progress and prevents you from developing creative power. It is important the way you think. Change your outlook and adopt a new way of thinking and way of doing things. Ask yourself if there is some other way of seeing a situation. If you keep trying to find new ways to get around a problem, a new idea is sure to open up for you.

Be progressive in your thinking.

Progressive thinking is asking yourself “what can I do to achieve more?”, “ how can I better myself.” Search for ways to increase your efficiency to do more. Set high standards for yourself and others. When you do progressive thinking, your creative power is switched on and destroys regressive thoughts like can’t be done, won’t work, and so on.

Practice mindfulness.

“Mindfulness not only improves your physical and mental health, but also increases creativity. Negative self-talk can be a barrier to creative mindfulness. By observing our thoughts in an open non- judgmental way, we distance ourselves from negative self-talk. This allows the process of being creative.”

Inspire yourself to tap into creativity.

Have the right amount of passion and determination to create new and different ideas. Inspiration makes dormant forces and talents to come alive and you discover yourself to be a creative person by far than you have ever imagined yourself to be. Inspiring others also lets you get engaged in the creative moment.

 

 

Cultivate the habit of happiness.

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Being happy is something we all want. What makes you happy?
What are the factors that can lead to happiness?
Many of us correlate it to friends, relationships, prosperity, appearances, success and so on. But these are all external factors which all of us have no control upon. So they cannot be considered as permanent factors in creating happiness. Paradoxically our aim in pursuing all these factors is for happiness, but many times what we say we want and what we do is never in alignment with each other. We say we want to be happy, but we make choices that bring opposite of happiness.

The ability to feel happy is something which is innate. Two people living in the same world with the same set of circumstances can experience life differently just by the way they think. ‘Happiness’ or ‘misery’ all depends on how you choose to respond to these circumstances. What you pursue in your mind is what you get out of life. In a way, your attitude towards life and your thoughts determine your happiness quotient.

“The greatest happiness is to know the source of unhappiness.”
– Fyodor Dostoevsky.

Certain facts about happiness you need to know in the pursuit to make it a habit.

*Your happiness is not dependent on others. what people say or think and the situations around have no hold on your happiness index.
Happiness is fundamental natural state of mind. We are all happy beings born with natural state of joy, compassion, and kindness.
Accumulations and appearances do not result in happiness. Material things come and go, appearances change, but beneath all remains innate secret of unreasonable happiness.
Fear and happiness cannot co-exist. The unhappiness producing process always feeds on your fears and worries.
Unhappiness is self-created. You are the own creator of your thoughts and you have the power to create your own happiness.

When we understand these facts, we can change our thinking from ‘I want happiness’ to ‘me is a happy being’. It is necessary to cultivate happiness habit to drive off the thoughts which create unhappiness and to replace them with happy ones.
Turning towards happiness is a valid goal and you have to make a conscious decision to seek happiness by cultivating the habit of happiness.

Certain obstacles you should look for in the pursuit of cultivating the “Happiness Habit.”

Being judgemental.
The moment you become judgemental about others, you get into unhappy modes such as anger, resentment, ill-will, etc., which not only takes you away from your natural state of being, but also blocks further happiness.
Tip: Accept the differences in opinions and views. Develop appreciation and awareness and change your perception of others.

Expectations.
Another hindrance in the pursuit is keeping expectations. Expecting what others would say or how they behave is like expecting their future. In a way, you are expecting them to match with your belief systems and when they don’t, you begin to feel let down or sad.
Tip: Do not base your happiness on the outcomes as having expectations from others and meeting people’s expectations, both will fluctuate your happiness.

Dwelling on past and future.
Reminding or thinking about past hurts or unpleasant events becomes a major obstacle in the cultivation of happiness habit. Thinking about future causes worry and stress.
“You can do nothing to change the past and future will never come exactly as you expect.
Tip: Focus on your ‘Now’ and whenever your focus drifts off to other places and times, map back.

Stress.
Stress is a result of negative programming we have imbibed. Stress is created by feelings of fear, anxiety, or worry. Unease caused by imagining a bad outcome to a present or future event or situation.
“Stress comes from the way you relate to events or situations.”
Tip: Recognise that happiness is not contained in events or situations. It is up to you how you respond to them and you always have a choice to choose stress-free thoughts.

How you perceive challenges.
Happiness a lot depends on how you take up the challenges or obstacles. It all depends on how you face and overcome them. Treating the challenges as be-all and end-all situations will block happiness and causes depression, and discouragement. Take them as work out situations
Tip: Use the so-called problems or obstacles as opportunities to learn and grow more stronger for your future endeavors.

Developing certain personal factors or inner characteristics can lead to happiness. This can create further inner transformation and can be achieved by regular practice and repetition of new thought patterns. Here are some practices to cultivate “Happiness Habit.”

Practice optimism.
You feel good physically, mentally and emotionally by focussing on positive patterns of thinking. Substitute unhappy thought patterns with positive happy thoughts. “The happiness habit is developed by simply practicing happy thinking.”

Practice virtue of patience.
It takes time to cultivate all the qualities that create state of well-being and happiness. We acquire many unhappy and negative mental traits over time. So you need to develop patience in order to address and counteract each one of these negative traits.

Practice mindfulness.
“Happiness is the state of being centredness which is here and now”. Keeping your awareness and concentration in the present moment and letting go of past can be achieved by practicing mindfulness.

Practice simple living.
“ The secret of happiness is not in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.”
Happiness is equal to your contentment. We have basic needs and endless wants. Know the difference and practice simple living.

Finally, base your actions and attitudes upon basic principles of happy living by choosing happiness. Some of the basics are that of caring, gratitude and good will.