Reframe your limiting beliefs

Most of the times, we are open about our physical health, but how often do we seriously consider our mental well-being?

Many of us lead busy, often hectic lives, so it is easy to experience certain levels of stress and anxiety that have an adverse impact on our thoughts, efficiency, emotional well-being and overall health.

Thinking is basically a mental process; which helps one define, organise, plan, learn, reflect and create experiences. In-fact human beings think at the rate of 1300 to 1800 words per minute according to a study. This explains why our mind wanders even when we are listening to others. One’s mind has all kinds of fleeting thoughts passing at any particular time. Day to day stressors add on to the kind of thoughts we have and are also one of the reason of we having unpleasant and irrational thoughts that don’t serve us any purpose.

Thoughts on their own will not affect one’s destiny, but if one spends time dwelling upon the unpleasant thoughts, surely then they impact one’s life in every kind of way. The prolonged periods of unpleasant mental state can be detrimental to your mental health and hinder you from performing to your maximum potential. So a lot depends on your ability to think correctly in certain stressful situations and unexpected life situations. Correct thinking is only possible if done so consciously and on purpose. Most of the times it is your beliefs that influence how you think. When you hold on to certain beliefs that don’t serve your interest or values, they give rise to unpleasantness which in turn hurts your ability to be rational, happy and successful.

Your beliefs shape your thoughts

Your beliefs have an impact on how you think, feel and act most of the time. The emotions we feel and the behaviours that arise from emotions are due to the beliefs that we hold about ourselves, people and environment around. Our beliefs shape our interpretations and how we evaluate certain situations and occasionally, due to certain limited beliefs we hold of ourselves, our thoughts can be distorted, biased, or negative thereby giving rise to irrational thought patterns and negative moods.

Because of such irrational thought patterns, we interpret the facts through a distorted perspective and create the impression that imaginary scenarios represent actual facts. If you hold onto negative beliefs, you tend to worry about things that are unlikely to happen. Such biased thinking affects your communication with others, your emotional/ mental well-being as well as your perceptions. Inability to perceive reality accurately leads to errors in your thinking and causes cognitive bias. These biases make you think in a very exaggerated and irrational ways, causing fear, anxiety, and insecurity. Because one’s thinking is so firmly associated with one’s beliefs, it’s not easy to change one’s thinking pattern unless you put in the required work to reframe your limited beliefs.

So, how do you deal with your irrational thinking?

Our minds constantly create narratives as they are pattern making machines. We always like to process facts through our minds and build association that seem to have a logic or rationale behind them. In doing so, we become victims of certain beliefs that aren’t logical, rational, or accurate representation of facts. This is one of the reason why we think in an exaggerated and irrational way about ourselves at times by giving into our negative beliefs. In some ways, our brains get wired to make these errors every now and then making ‘distorted’ or ‘faulty’ thinking patterns.

It is possible to modify your irrational thought patterns by being able to recognise what you are perceiving, assuming, and expecting. Being aware of your irrational thoughts and learning to reframe or restructure them with rational thoughts can be helpful especially when you are in situations that cause anxiety or depression or stress. It is important to learn that situations are not always the cause of our irrational thinking, but it is the way we perceive and interpret the situations. Interpreting the relevant facts of the situation effectively to come to rational conclusions can help in eliminating some of your false assumptions about yourself.

By restructuring your thoughts and reframing the way you interpret a situation, you can deal with your irrational thoughts and slowly make progress towards rational thoughts that are more empowering.

How to reframe your irrational thoughts and limiting beliefs ?

The essential idea behind reframing is that a point of view depends on the frame it is viewed in. When the frame is shifted, the meaning changes and thinking and behaviour change along with it. Cognitive restructuring or reframing helps in observing, identifying and modifying irrational thoughts to rational thoughts and negative mental patterns to positive ones. By reframing, you can think constructively and can practice accurate thinking. You can reframe your limited beliefs to new beliefs that better serves you and your goals. Constructive reframing also helps in overcoming certain mood disorders, anxiety, stress or depression. It is about reorganising thoughts, ideas, awarenesses into correct perspective and putting them into practice. Here are some ways to practice cognitive reframing of your limited beliefs.

Familiarise yourself with cognitive errors

When you learn to familiarise yourself with certain errors in your thinking and cognitive biases, you can challenge your limiting beliefs and eliminate negative thoughts. Here are some examples of cognitive errors which leads to irrational thinking.

• Downplaying the importance of a positive thought or emotion or event thereby magnifying the negatives like “useless”, “ failure”, or “inadequate.”

• Drawing conclusions when there is little or no evidence or on the basis of perceptions and not on real facts.

• “Making mountain of a molehill” Blowing things out of proportion.

• Using words like ‘always’, ‘never’, ‘everyone’, ‘all’, ‘nobody’, etc.,

• Emotional reasoning – concluding that your emotional reaction proves something true, regardless of the observed facts.

Perfectionism – Thinking that you always have to be perfect, sating “should”, or “ must.”

• Thinking there are only two possibilities, when there may be other alternatives you haven’t considered.

Overgeneralisation – making conclusions based on a single event.

• Attributing personal responsibility for events which aren’t under your control.

• Thinking in extremes like “black-and-white” or “all-or-nothing thinking” (all good or all bad with no middle ground)

Practice noticing when you have these distortions in your thinking and ask yourself what other ways you could think. By being aware of these errors and reframing them can help you overcome your limited beliefs.

Challenge your irrational thoughts

Identify the thoughts that are of wrong perceptions and assumptions. Sometimes emotions make it difficult for you to think logically. The beliefs that we hold change how we manage our day-to-day experiences. Examine what are your negative beliefs and which emotions are involved and question how valid they really are. By questioning your negative beliefs and looking for alternatives, you can replace thoughts led by fear with realistic and positive thoughts. Replace obstructive and limiting thoughts with positive and empowering thoughts.

Track the accuracy of a thought

Analyse what the pros and cons of your limiting thoughts and beliefs. Evaluate the evidence for or against your irrational thought. Examine the validity of irrational thoughts and beliefs by asking critical thinking questions like what’s the worst possible and what’s the best possible thing of that thought. Once you narrow down to your irrational belief, you can think of a way to reframe it into more accurate and positive belief. Do not make up super unrealistic beliefs, instead find more positive way to frame a belief without deluding the facts of the situation.

Apply alternative views

There are always multiple perspectives to any given situation or circumstance. When you restructure your beliefs, you can look at the same facts through a new perspective and interpret in a way that can keep you motivated. By changing your perspective, you can make out your previous thinking errors and can transform them into rational thoughts. This way, you can discover the best way to view a situation so that it brings out your best possible self.

Avoid using extreme language

Often while expressing a negative belief or thought, we use exaggerated words like “never”, or “always”, or “very” and we end up identifying with negativity in ourselves too strongly. Instead, you can replace them with “sometimes”, or “at times”, or a “little”. This way you can downplay the negativity by how you speak about these negative traits by describing them in less intense ways. This way you can leave more room for positivity, improvement, and change. Reframe the way you describe your experiences and memories.

Develop mindful awareness

Simple meditation practice can develop your awareness of negative and irrational thoughts. Focusing your attention on your breath allows you to observe your thoughts as they arise in your mind. Whenever you notice any irrational thought popping, gently bring your attention back to experiencing the sensation of your breathing. Meditation is a great way to train yourself to be mindful of irrational thoughts and beliefs.

Finally, set your own direction and evaluate your progress. There are many ways to reframe any particular situation. And the way you would want to reframe a situation depends on your current goals, values, decisions and choices you make.

Conclusion

Cognitive reframing of your negative beliefs is extremely effective if used properly and consistently. It can help you overcome your limiting beliefs to become happy and successful. Reframing your limiting beliefs takes time and effort to master, but once mastered, you can keep repeating this positive thinking pattern for better results that add value to your goals. Take time to learn how to change your thinking for better and go beyond your limited beliefs and preconceived assumptions. Always remember constructive thinking is a process, one gets better with practice and experience.

Improve your resilience quotient

What helps you persevere is your resilience and commitment.” -Roy. T. Bennett

We all undergo changes when we are exposed to stress or experience difficult and uncertain situations. Stress we experience affects us psychologically as well as physically. We all feel grief, sadness and range of other emotions after adversity or loss. They make us wonder which path to take, what decision to make, and at times they can be crippling if we are not resilient enough. Your thinking influences the way you show up and evaluate these situations. To work through the emotions and effects of stress in stressful events that you encounter, you need to keep yourself emotionally and mentally strong in such circumstances.

Resilience is the capacity to adapt yourself successfully in the face of uncertain and difficult situations. It is the ability to move through challenges and to adapt in order to create positive outcomes by responding effectively to stressful situations. Being resilient doesn’t mean going through life without experiencing stress and pain, but it is the ability to harness your internal capacity to manage these life events as you process through them. By learning to be emotionally resilient, you can keep from negative emotions such as fear, or anxiety, or anger, or frustration that arise in such situations. Contrary to people’s belief, resilience is not an ability that you are born with. It can be learnt and built at any stage in your life. You can build resilience through better thinking and self-management skills.

What lowers your Resilience?

All of us experience times when we feel emotionally overwhelmed in certain situations and during such times, some of us allow our feelings to control our actions or we let negative emotions cloud our vision. This often makes us regret the things we say or do and wish we had been more resilient or had been able to keep our actions or words in check. Whereas some people deal with seemingly difficult situations more easily than others. Here are certain things that lower your resilience quotient.

• Inability to manage your thoughts, feelings and behaviours.

• Excessive self-blame, regret and guilt.

• Non-willingness to face your fears.

• Giving into instant gratification instead of thinking long-term.

• Blaming your problems on external circumstances

• Focusing on things that are beyond your control.

• Inability to acknowledge your choices and taking responsibility.

• Inability to own your mistakes and to learn from them.

• Clinging to hatred, anger and resentment.

• Unwillingness to step out of your comfort zone.

To make yourself mentally strong in the face of obstacles, a lot depends on your confidence in your abilities to handle challenges and the way you evaluate these situations and events in your life.

So, how do you improve your Resilience quotient?

You can learn to habitually assess things from a different perspective by staying focused on your thoughts, feelings and behaviours. We all feel anxious when we are going through big life changes. To avoid negative emotions during such changes, you must prioritise self-care and celebrate your successes, no matter how small they are. Thoughts of self-doubt and self-criticism lower your resilience. On the contrary, every thought of self-appreciation can create more positive mental experiences. You can see yourself resilient and purposeful rather than as victim. There is little these stressors can do to you if you maintain good emotional and mental state by being aware of your emotional and psychological limitations.

Building resilience is an important part of growth and change. There are several ways to cultivate resilience. Here are some to raise your resilience quotient.

Flexibility

“ The oak fought the wind and was broken, the willow bent when it must and survived.” – Robert Jordan

In stressful situations, ego, fixed beliefs and expectations are some of the things that make us resist the change. It is often wiser to practice acceptance and acknowledge that such situations are demanding a course change. The only way forward is to go with the flow and adjust your attitude. Be flexible in your thinking and look for alternative solutions to the challenges you are faced with. A shift in your perspective can help you see the situation from a new point of view.

Being okay with discomfort

When we are going through uncertain events or situations, most of us feel insecure and unsure of ourselves. Difficulties take us out of our comfort zones making us uncomfortable. By facing your fears and by allowing discomfort amid uncertain circumstances, you can grow and become more emotionally resilient. Accepting despite the discomfort you feel, you can function relatively under pressure, cope better, and can bounce back from hard times. Learning to think and act from outside your comfort zones raises your resilience quotient and you can shrug off the harmful impacts of stress.

Self-compassion

In difficult moments, it’s essential to practice self-compassion. Maintain your self-confidence rather being controlled by your self-critical voice which triggers discontentment and prompts you to be defensive and avoidant. Instead, by being self-compassionate, you can come up with coping strategies and begin to view your mistakes with understanding and patience. You are more likely to take responsibility for your part and focus on being compassionate towards the fears held by your inner critic. You can come up with constructive counters to your most destructive self-criticism and deeply held fears.

Optimism

Develop a generally positive outlook when you experience challenges in your life. With a realistic and optimistic attitude, things turn out a little better than you might have presumed. Going through difficulties with a positive perspective, rather than giving into negativity of your past or people in your life makes you more open-minded, positive and resilient. Learn to view negative emotions that distress you in a positive light. By recognising uncertainty as an opportunity for growth, you can easily move through the obstacles. Acknowledge your strengths and maintain a positive view of yourself.

Challenge mindset

Many of us fear failure and avoid making certain choices in order to overcome challenges. As a result, we prevent ourselves from becoming more resilient. Treating failure like challenge helps you build challenge mindset. Reflecting on past challenges that you have overcome and other things you have been successful at, you can help raise your resilience quotient. By ruminating about what could go wrong builds your fear for failure. On the other hand, if you shift your mindset to view situations that you could fail at as a challenge, then you are more likely to think you are capable of handling difficult situations. You can learn to avoid overestimating the probability of negative outcomes and learn to view challenging situations not as a threat but as challenging and something to learn from.

Being futuristic

The ability to think about future where you will no longer be feeling so bad about whatever you are struggling with helps you get through difficult experiences. It can reduce the intensity of negative emotions you are probably experiencing. When you are midst of a stressful situation, ask yourself as to how will you feel about the particular event in a year from now. Broaden your vision from future perspective and estimate how they might unfold into the future. This way you can build your resilience in the present moment.

Breaking your negative thought patterns

We come to believe that thinking about our hardships over and over again will help us solve them. When bad things happen, many of us get caught up in our negative thought patterns, instead of taking actions we need to move forward. When we believe the worst will come true, we set ourselves up for unnecessary stress and poor resilience. Break your negative thought patterns by focusing on something else or try to do something else that uses both your mind and body. Meditation or exercise are few methods to break your negative patterns.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness and practising deep and slow breathing can help you take charge of your negative emotions and improve your response to emotional situations. When you observe negative thoughts, focusing on your breath allows you to become distracted from The automaticity of the feelings-thought-action cycle and bringing your attention back to your present moment. Being mindful positively affects thought patterns underlying anxiety, stress, depression and irritability. By accepting and letting go of these emotions, you will allow negativity to fade away often sooner than when you actually fight against them.

Finally,

cultivate meaning and believe in your self to be resilient. Meaning and purposefulness gives you motivational framework to lean into and provides a positive perspective to remain open to life’s many experiences.

Conclusion

It is always important to remember that difficult situations make you more stronger and resilient. It’s what your mind makes of a situation and not the situation itself. So don’t waste energy wishing things were different or trying to change others people when going through stressful or difficult situations. Instead stay focused on managing yourself by keeping in mind the above strategies and make most of those situations by turning down your overly negative responses.

“Persistence and resilience only come from having been given the chance to work through difficult problems.” – Gever Fulley

Deal with your criticism constructively

“Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.” – Winston Churchill

Criticism and confrontational situations arise everyday. You may not be able to avoid other people’s criticism of you, but you always have a choice as how to respond to those. There are times when you feel that almost everyone is against you and our balance of temper depends upon others, just as others depend on us. Such situations cause uneasiness. This is natural because of our expectations and we feel hurt and start brooding about the criticism we face. Criticism if not handled properly can really create stressful and unpleasant working environment. Being criticised causes most of us to feel poorly about ourselves and can lower our self-esteem and productivity as we devote more time and energy dealing with it and are less focused on important things.

According to science, there are two portions of our brain that dictate how we emotionally process and respond to criticism. The amygdala plays a huge role in our fight or flight response, which is why negative reviews or feedback from others make us feel truly threatening and create a negative bias. Unpleasant remarks and experiences stick with us so much more than the pleasant ones.

When faced with criticism, not everyone deals with it in the same way. There isn’t one size fits all responses. Some instantly know its not personal, some get defensive, some may feel completely crushed by even the most minimal feedback. Here are some ways people deal with the negative feedback.

• Some people seem to accept criticism rather well on the surface while mentally they put themselves down by being overly hard on themselves.

• Some of them take negative feedback very personally. However, they deflect the blame back on others by challenging or arguing against as a means of convincing themselves that criticism is unjust.

• Some feel put down by the negative remarks, but they aren’t beating themselves up and aren’t deflecting blame onto the person giving them. They simply want to know the reason and what they could do to change critic’s mind.

• Some choose to defend themselves against criticism and exhibit a defensive reaction to negative feedback. However, they don’t argue and they likely think that their critic is somewhat misguided and are fine to leave it at that.

• Some get sensitive to negative feedback and tend to turn that into anger or feelings of inadequacy and react in way to quickly seek validation from others.

Feeling bad about being criticised is totally natural and unavoidable, but allowing it to effect our productivity and happiness can be often detrimental. We are not well equipped to handle negative feedback positively and fail often to deal with it smartly. However, criticism, if you learn to face it openly and learn to handle it in a more positive and constructive manner, can be a pathway to your progress and improvement. Managing negative feedback constructively creates better interpersonal relationships and can grow your leadership effectiveness. Here are certain ways to turn criticism into constructive tool for your individual success and not to let it affect you negatively.

Do not ‘defend’ yourself

When we are criticised, our most common instinct is to defend ourselves. Resist proving yourself right every time and focus on what is going on. Address it with curiosity and not as accusation. Even when you disagree, listen to what the other person has to say and think it over. Resist the urge to focus on the minor elements of what’s being said and instead focus on the major implication of the criticism. There may be things you can learn and benefit from if you consider the issue in larger perspective. Getting defensive takes away your emotional control and limits your ability to respond thoughtfully.

Know your ‘negative self’

Critical comments about yourself can activate a deeply held negative beliefs and your insecurities. You tend to overreact because it activates your negative belief as you are sensitive to that particular issue. Criticism may lead to anger, bitterness, stress, resentment, self-doubt, and pity. By becoming familiar about them can help you overcome these feelings that gets triggered.

Don’t take it personally

Many of us take criticism more personally than we should. It is essential to separate criticism from your sense of self. Learn not to view it as about who you are as a person , but rather as feedback about an individual action or a particular situation. Always learn to look at the context from an objective stand. The disagreements you have with others is often due to different views and perceptions. If you can learn to view it as feedback about something you did and not about who you are, you will be able to take it less personally and can respond accordingly.

Go to the ‘source’

Identify the source that triggered the criticism or try to have a conversation with the person criticising. If the person delivering the criticism is prone to criticising others unreasonably, or being egotistical, or has unpredictable behavioural-pattern, then you need not take their feedback seriously. However, if the person delivering criticism is stable, supportive and trustworthy, take stock of the criticism and explore it further. Try to have a conversation and get to the bottom of it. Getting to the source keeps you in proper perspective.

Respond calmly

It can be very unpleasant when someone finds fault with you. But If you react emotionally to what’s been said, or if you go into fight mode, it only takes you out of your rational behaviour and it is better not to respond. Take a step back emotionally so that you can respond calmly and use simple response to acknowledge that you have heard their opinion. Take few minutes out and breathe in a relaxed way to bring down your stress response so that you can respond calmly.

Look for the ‘positive’

Always look at what you can learn from the situation. If there’s anything the situation is helping you to learn or is it in anyway serving as an opportunity for your growth. Sometimes it might help you to learn the need to be more resilient or patient or to learn to stand up for yourself or to take responsibility for the behaviours you have that invited criticism from others. Be focused on the positive aspects of the situation.

Strengthen your positive ‘self’

Agree with any valid part of the criticism that is true. If there are elements that are not true, state your differences. If you are brought down by someone else’s unjust criticism, consider working on your self-esteem, try to reduce your interaction with someone who regularly criticises you. If it is someone whom you can’t avoid, try being more matter of fact with them, or, ideally, withdraw your need for their approval or validation.

Say ‘No’ to negative self-talk

Negative self-talk can be damaging to your self-esteem and can become a biggest bully. Don’t let your inner critic demean you and lower your self-worth. Ask yourself the question: would you put up with a person saying negative things about you? If you wouldn’t tolerate that tone from someone, then why put up with from yourself? Get positive perspective of you as a person or your achievements and focus on them when your inner critic tries to break you down.

Don’t over-communicate

If you get into disagreements or confrontational situations, don’t engage in too much talk or debate. Try to exit from the situation with ease. Know when to quit the conversation. Adopt strategies that regulate your emotions before negativity takes you over. Develop an ability to put away the unpleasant experience and get on with new approach, in other words, have the ability to bounce back and explain your stance or take on that particular issue later.

Straighten your own attitudes

When you feel or think that you are off the target with someone or you think that he or she disapproves of you, there may be nothing wrong with you. It could be the other person is simply drawing upon his or her own past experiences or even highly suspicious of others in his or her dealings with others. Understand person’s motivation for being unfairly critical. Is he stressed? Insecure? Unhappy to change?In such cases, attitude to your own self is important. If you feel someone’s criticism of you is unfair, don’t be afraid to say so. Be irrespective of others’ unjust criticism. Even though you’re the target, it is more often about them than you. Try to view it in broader perspective.

Ask open-ended questions

Asking open-ended questions to those who criticise you will not only make their feedback valuable, but also allows you to learn more about why they viewed the action or the situation the way they did. Asking open-ended questions like “Tell me more…,” “what is the impact of that?” Asking a series of ‘why?’ questions is the best way to know their perspective and makes you better equipped to handle the situation in future. You can facilitate a more open conversation with your critic and can end the conversation on good terms.

Finally, pay attention to the criticism you face. Take action in order to improve yourself if the criticism is because of your faults and weaknesses. View it as learning opportunity. Instead of feeling bad about your mistakes and any criticism that may have resulted from them, accept them and view them objectively. This way, you will be better prepared to deal with similar situations in the future.

Conclusion

The next time you come across criticism, remember what you learned and take a suitable approach, don’t let anger get in the way. Respond in cool, calm and reasonable manner. Trust your instinct, if its something worth fighting for. Be assertive and firm, but don’t be demanding or aggressive. If the criticism has resulted because of your mistakes, learn from them and move on.

Deal with your disappointments constructively

We all struggle with our frequent mood changes and disappointments which are an inevitable and inescapable part of life. They can be from various reasons and arise as a result of specific events or situations. They have high influence on the way we react and in the actions we take. We all have expectations like winning at something or to succeed in something that we care deeply about and so on and so forth. Each time something falls short of our expectation, we tend to feel disappointed and this leads to our mood changes. Some of the disappointments may not make much of a difference, but there are some that can make huge difference. The feelings of disappointment may last for a short while, or might hang over for long period of time depending on how we deal with them. If not dealt with properly, they affect our behavioural, cognitive, emotional and physical well-being.

With frequent mood changes and disappointments, we lose the ability to concentrate and may experience lapses in memory. Some experience irritability and prolonged period of disappointments may result in depression and sadness. Most of the times, our expectations lead to this complex and confused feeling. When faced with disappointment, some tend to attribute it to their personal failings and resort to self-blaming. They direct their anger inwards. This makes them feel they were not good enough. Others turn their anger outwardly which makes them feel bitter and vindictive.

Your mood changes can destroy your efforts

In order to avoid the feeling of disappointment, some distract themselves by turning to random, mindless activities instead of facing the problems head on. This may make them happy in short run, but does not resolve the actual problem and makes them underachievers. They tend to deny their goals by conditioning themselves not to set any expectations. This leads to self-depreciation and to a discontented life. Others seek to avoid by setting high expectations. They come under their presumptions that their expectations are realistic and when it turns out to be not true, it often leads to disappointment.

Getting caught up in your mood changes can cause feelings of isolation and low self-esteem. You avoid taking risks to prevent yourself or others from being disappointed. Focusing on your disappointments for long can destruct your efforts and have a negative impact on your confidence. When you are preoccupied by disappointment, you fail to put in the right effort. Instead if you treat them as learning experiences, they can become stepping stones for growth.

Know the reasons for your disappointments

You cannot snap out of your bad mood and feeling of disappointment quickly if you are not aware of what is causing them. Here are some reasons.

• The main reason for disappointment is the gap between the reality and your expectations. Having higher expectations can make you feel not being good enough.

• Feelings of guilt can lead to negative emotions and have a big impact on your mood.

• Rejections cause an emotional injury and thereby lead to your disappointments.

• Out standing tasks and mental to-do lists can nag at you and make feel discontented and disappointed.

• Brooding over past occurrences can get you stuck in replaying them over and over again.

• Feeling of failure and getting caught up on small annoyances can ruin your mood.

• Hanging on to false perceptions and negative beliefs like, “nothing works”, “not good enough”.

• Attachment to certain outcomes and too much fixation on your unrealistic goals.

We can deal with our disappointments constructively and more appropriately if we can differentiate between situations that fall within our control and factors that are beyond it.

Use your disappointments positively

You need not always get discouraged by your disappointments. If taken in positive way and dealt with constructively, they can strengthen you. Remember that your disappointments actually show your passion and can motivate you to succeed.

They help you manage your expectations

When we feel disappointed, our expectations fall out of line with the truth. By understanding the gap between your expectations and the reality, you can use them to correct your assumptions and adjust your expectations accordingly to achieve your goals.

They provide opportunity for growth. You can learn to deal with them in a positive manner and use them as opportunities to improve yourself. What you originally thought was sufficient to achieve your goal may not be enough and may need to increase your effort or change your approach to get the results you want.

They align you with your inner-self

Sometimes disappointments provide us with a better emotional state to get in touch with your inner self. By focusing on your underlying desire for your goal, rather than the external projection, you can create other possibilities to realise your desire.

Here are some strategies to get over disappointment and to deal with them constructively.

Put it in perspective

Often, small annoyances can become exaggerated and ruin your mood. You might feel disappointed about things you are unlikely to remember in a month’s time. If your disappointment is significant, try to focus on the larger picture and remind yourself of all the things you are grateful for. If not, it is not worth getting disappointed about.

Don’t dwell about what might have been

The more you dwell on the disappointment, the more it will hurt and disrupts your ability to focus, concentrate, solve or be creative. Give yourself a limited time to feel bad and move on. Do not internalise feelings of sadness and anger. Hanging on to these for long can make them part of your identity and deepen your emotional hurt.

Recharge yourself

Don’t be too self-critical and don’t get pulled down by your thoughts. Do not indulge in self-pity as it takes away feelings of empowerment. Look for positive activities and those that you most enjoy to recharge your consciousness to a positive level. This will help you gain some clarity and you can learn other perspectives which you may not be aware of.

Identify the next opportunity

There is always a next opportunity regardless of what disappointed you. Live in alignment with your abilities and inner desire. When you lose, use it to learn, and then go on to win next time.

Increase your possibilities

Do not limit yourself on a single goal and believe that it is the only way to make your dreams come true. There is always more than one reason why you are committed to a path. Increase your possibilities by creating other paths to realise your dreams.

Reevaluate your perceptions

Attaching yourself to a certain outcome causes anguish and prevents you from putting effort in moving on. Becoming aware of false perceptions or unrealistic expectations you are clinging on to and by releasing them, you can overcome disappointment and can move towards your goals.

Finally, Realign your focus

Don’t be discouraged by momentary disappointments.Everyone experiences disappointments. By being hard on yourself and thinking you are not good enough will not take you forward. Remember that you are much more capable at focusing on the positive than you think.

Next time, if you struggle to deal with your disappointments, try to reevaluate your expectations by asking yourself: what expectations do I have from my self?, what false perceptions am I getting hung up over?, could I have done something different to arrive at a desired outcome?. Reframe your disappointments as learning experiences. Cultivate a capacity to deal with them more constructively and start again to pursue your dreams.

“Life is not always a celebration; so be ready to courageously face disappointments when they come, and be sure to grow stronger and wiser from them.”  – Edmond Mbiaka

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.

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.

Make peace with your emotions

“When our emotional health is in a bad state, so is our level of self-esteem. We have to slow down and deal with what is troubling us, so that we can enjoy the simple joy of being happy and at peace with ourselves.”–Jess C. Scott

Our attitude towards our emotional state becomes very important because it can affect how we cope with suffering when it arises. Fear, anger, guilt and anxiety are all emotional responses that can intensify suffering. Understanding your thoughts and emotions and of others leads to a higher level of emotional freedom and stability.

Emotional intelligence which is built on the foundation of self-awareness helps you to be more content and fosters your own productivity. You get better equipped in terms of how to handle things rather than worrying about what can go wrong. Negative emotional state can sabotage your clear thought and focus. Developing emotional stability capacitates focusing at will and inhibits strong impulses and urges. Also enhances other relationship attributes like influence, persuasion, and cooperation.

By knowing your feelings and remaining productive during difficult emotional episodes makes you emotionally stable.

Certain facts:

• All emotions are essentially distorted and begin from our mental interpretation of what occurs around us.

• Emotions cannot be denied or controlled.

• Negative emotions are not an intrinsic part of human nature.

• Our negative emotions can be rooted out.

• Feelings fade over time and are not constant.

Every negative emotion contains a positive lesson and plays the role of a teacher. For example, fear generates alertness and caution. Anxiety indicates an urge to succeed. Insecurity reflects a desire to do well and to prove yourself. Concern reveals thoughtfulness and sensitivity.

“Emotional self-awareness is the building block of the next fundamental emotional intelligence: being able to shake off a bad mood”

Daniel Goleman,

To understand and to accept your emotions means appreciating the positive lesson contained in negative feeling. Although you cannot directly control or change your emotional state, you can create a stability by improving your emotional intelligence. Here are some ways to improve your emotional intelligence and to make peace with your feelings.

Improving emotional understanding.

Each one must act their own physician when it comes to their emotional well-being. The best method is to recognise your emotions as they occur. When you are emotionally distressed, you begin to feel very negative about yourself and with those around. Negative emotions like discontentment, grumbling, becoming frustrated, or over-assertiveness might arise.

By recognising your negative emotion that is influencing you negatively, you will be able to confront your weaknesses of your own mind. Becoming aware and understanding the reasons behind and effects they have on you, you will know what measures you need to take to clear them away. This will make you better at handling negative situations and helps you develop positive, productive, and clear thinking.

Accepting your emotions.

“Accept your feelings as natural phenomena and learn from them, but don’t let them run your life.”

You require an open mind to change your relationship with your feelings. For instance, we all react in different ways to ill spoken words or criticism. Some simply ignore and forget it altogether, whereas others feel hurt. Also, there are some who accept criticism and reflect on themselves and then try to correct their wrongdoings.

Acceptance of both positive and negative feelings while acting constructively improves your inner confidence. Instead of struggling in negative emotions, you create a store of inner strength and will be able to concentrate on your positives.

Developing self-awareness.

“Awareness of self and others, and its application in managing our inner self and our relationships is the essence of emotional intelligence.”

You don’t need to control emotions. They are natural like passing seasons. The key here is to know your strengths and weaknesses. Constantly building on your positive emotional state and learning from your negative emotions will make you an emotionally better person. At times, when you are obsessed by worries and anxieties, you need to have a resolute attitude and need to hold on to your strengths. Develop an attitude of tolerance and concentrate on your strengths instead of giving way to pessimistic thoughts and negative emotions.

Overcoming negative emotions.

Self-reflection is an excellent method to overcome negative emotions. When you attribute the cause of your negativity to outside factors, you become the target. But by reflecting upon yourself and accepting your mistakes, you will become aware that the emotional distress is also because of you. Remain flexible in the face of difficulties and never be too stubborn to change and refine yourself.

“ To rid yourself of old patterns, focus all your energy not in struggling with the old, but on building the new.”

It may be true that you might have had past experiences with failure and suffering, but it is very unlikely that you are going to face them through out. Do not restimulate an unacceptable thought or feeling. Overcome negative emotions by replacing passive, negative emotions with positive and constructive ones.