Interviewers often ask their interviewee’s ‘what would you tell your younger self?‘, allowing them to reflect on their life then and now. The question I have asked myself is:
’What do I want my children to learn from my life that I would have changed?’
There are so many things! Diet less… laugh more… say no more, and such. Yet the overriding one that seems to underlie all these other errors of judgment is:
‘Don’t compare yourself; know your own worth.’
You are uniquely you, you’re no better or worse than the next person. Live by your convictions, beliefs and values. Don’t compromise yourself to fit in, don’t rob yourself of who you are because of fear.
Easier said than done, I agree. So many of us live our lives comparing ourselves to others, not being smart, not pretty, not slim , not fit enough…the list goes on! Compromising ourselves to try to fit in. And you know it doesn’t work because we always had to let go of some part of who we are.
I don’t know if you are like me but I never felt I fitted in, and have lived most of my life in fear. I think being bullied from the age of five and experiencing it repeatedly throughout my life had a profound effect on me. It constrained me and limited me in all areas of my life.
My default was to compare myself to others and I always fell short. Because I put those standards on myself, giving myself a hard time when I didn’t achieve them. But you know I never was going to make them because it was not the right way to live my life.
I became my biggest bully.
The more we live a life of comparison, the more we live a life that is driven by looking for confirmation that we belong, that we are good enough, which leads to constraints and content evaluation.
Being afraid of failure can mean we just give up, sacrificing our curiosity and creativity, so afraid of getting it wrong, upsetting people and trying to fit in. Do not apologise for being you (boy have I lived this one!)
But the great news is you don’t have to live this way anymore if you live a life with the intention to practice self-care and acceptance.
To be curious and not afraid.
To stand up for what you believe in and not sacrifice your core values and beliefs to fit in. To live by your boundaries, so that you remain compassionate and caring. To explore new things and not be afraid of not getting it right the first time.
To practice, practice, practice till you get it right! and not give up. To keep learning, and to keep working on bettering yourself for you first, and because you know that by doing that you can help others.
1. Live with intention
Living with intention is starting your day by saying what you intend to achieve or feel today. Some examples are:
I intend to have a good day today.
I intend to be grateful for all that happens today.
I intend to be loving and kind to myself today.
Your brain listens to you and what you say it believes and acts on. Have you heard the saying, “fake it till you make it ”? In Shawn Achor's book The Happiness Advantage he writes that if you smile it tricks your brain into thinking you're happy, so it starts producing the neurochemicals that make you feel happy!
Scientists call this facial feedback hypothesis. Even changing your facial expression or posture can dictate emotional change. I have experienced that this works and the same goes for when we set an intention.
2. Affirmations with intentions are really powerful
I am…. Strong, Able, Loved, Enough, Worthy.
I wear a necklace made by Soul Analyse that says “I am enough”. In NLP we use anchors to help generate a positive feeling or memory, I have loads of anchors! One of them is my necklace, when my self-limiting voice creeps into my head with negative thoughts, I touch my necklace to remind me I am enough and I smile knowing that it is true. It banishes my negative voice. This is a powerful life practice that has got stronger over the years.
3. Be curious about the world around
If you don’t understand something either look it up on google or ask someone. Learn to become aware of what’s going on around you. Don’t hold yourself back from trying new things and experiences, even if it’s eating something new for the first time, or reading a different style of book.
Do an online course. Do one new thing each day.
You can also be curious about your emotions, name the emotion and be curious as to why or what made you feel this way.
4. Stand up for what you believe in and don't sacrifice your values and beliefs
I don't say this lightly as it can be really hard. Your beliefs hardly ever never change but our values can depending on the stage of our lives or life experiences. Write them down in a notebook and really sit with them.
When you do stand up for what you believe in, start small, speak up with people you can trust who will listen. Remember when you started to swim, you started in the shallow end, it was only when you got more confident did you go down the deep end. The same applies here.
5. Don’t let failure and the fear of it stop you
Remember, failure is how we learn. Without it we stay still. It is only with practice we get good at things. No one knows everything, it’s ok to not get it right, it’s what we do with that experience that matters – do you give up or carry on?
A theory known as the “butterfly effect” is a suggestion by Edward Lorenz who says that the flap of a butterfly wing may be one small motion but it might ultimately cause a tornado.
Each one of us is like a butterfly.
Each small positive move we make towards change in ourselves, is moving us towards living the life we want.