20 Lifestyle Changes to Make in Your 20s for a Better Life

20 LIFESTYLE CHANGES TO MAKE IN YOUR 20S FOR A BETTER LIFE

Tiffany Grace Reyes

Your 20s: the perfect balance between being young and energetic, and being practical and worldly wise. It’s the perfect time to make a change!

Your 20s can make you or break you. It contains some of the most exciting years of your life. You are just starting out your career, and you’re either building debt or building an empire. And although this decade can feel like you’re independent and consequence-free, how you spend your life in your 20s will have a huge impact on your life. What you do in this decade matters and may just determine your best shot at success and happiness.

In your 20s, you can experiment with so many things, party all night, go out on dates, travel the globe, and basically be a free bird. And although it’s not bad to enjoy being at the prime of your youth or working for your retirement, there are actually many things that you can do to make the most of your 20s.

Smart lifestyle changes you should be making in your 20s

Below are 20 of the top smart moves you need to make in your 20s that will pay off for the rest of your life.

#1 Travel. Invest in memories and experiences. This is the ideal time because you are young, able, and you have no family obligations. Use your time to meet different people and immerse yourself in different cultures.

#2 Don’t obsess over money. It is understandable to want to live comfortably later on in life, but don’t make your 20s so much about money that the decade passes you by. If you want to take risks or go after things that you are passionate about, then this is the best time. Think of money as a result of your hard work and not as your goal, and you can breathe easy enough to go out there and live a little.

#3 Think of one golden rule: save. Although you should not let money be your sole motivator, this doesn’t mean you should throw financial sensibility out the window. You can party, travel, and shop if you want, but be sure to set aside some extra cash *at least 10% of your income* for your rainy day fund.

#4 Be active. Despite your busy lifestyle, it helps to be active because of two things: you have something else to do other than race after work deadlines, and you are preventing your body from developing heart problems, obesity, diabetes, and other diseases. By squeezing some exercise into your schedule, you have a reason to wake up early and say “no” to that late night party invite every once in a while.

#5 Take care of your teeth. You may not notice it, but reality is, you’re stuck with the same teeth for the rest of your life. It’s not a house that you can skip maintenance on because you can move out anytime—your teeth are yours, and they’re not going anywhere. So even if it costs a lot of money and you think you don’t need it, take care of your teeth now while you can before repairing years of neglect becomes more expensive.

#6 Protect your skin. So your face is supple, you have no wrinkles, and you still have that healthy glow of youth. But you can’t seriously believe it will stay that way forever. Unless the fountain of youth has been discovered, you have to protect your skin. Don’t sleep with makeup on, and more importantly, wear sunscreen.

#7 Develop healthy eating habits. Make conscious beverage decisions that will lessen the negative effects alcoholic drinks bring to your body. Alcohol is, after all, a toxin. So drink wisely and in moderation, and always rehydrate to avoid a raging hangover. As for food, you know that junk food will only bring even more toxins into your body. Tone down your processed food intake, and try to include healthier, more natural food options into your diet.

#8 Lessen your tech ties. Twenty-somethings are known to be highly dependent on their gadgets. If you’re one of those people, learn to put your phone down and make real people-to-people connections.

#9 Set your standards. When you’re young, flirty, and carefree, it can be easy to fall victim to the charms of partners who end up doing nothing for you. Learn from the dating mistakes of your past, and never settle for partners who will only hold you back from living a full life.

#10 Forgive yourself and others. You will make mistakes, and you may learn this the hard way. Accept the fact that there are things you can’t control, such as rejection or heartbreak. Don’t let this embitter you, and instead, learn from this and grow.

#11 Don’t waste your time on drama. You’re all grown up, and you know what you want, so you shouldn’t settle for anything less than what you think you deserve. Cut off people and situations that drain you of your energy. Your time and energy are better off spent on productivity and growth than drama and misery.

#12 Build courage and face your fears. You are young, and you are in the best shape that you can be. The world is your oyster. So if you are ever going to try something daring, now is the best time.

#13 Be less busy and more productive. In other words, learn to manage your time before you run around like a headless chicken. Don’t spread yourself too thin over things that are unnecessary, but instead, keep your laser focus on being effective and get more done in half the time.

#14 Set goals and learn to prioritize. You’re just starting out in your career, so you may think that your responsibilities are still ahead of you. Nope. You should set your goals as early as now, and from here on, take small steps in achieving them.

#15 Learn and learn and learn. Whether it’s baking classes or management lessons, take some time to learn new skills. Before you even think about starting a family and having your hands full, start a hobby or try something new.

#16 Invest in self-awareness and self-knowledge. This is the best time to find yourself and to know what you want and what makes you happy. Learn new things about yourself every day and seize every opportunity to grow.

#17 Stop comparing yourself to others. Who cares if your friend has bought a new house or your colleague already got a promotion? You can’t measure yourself against others, or else you’re never going to appreciate yourself and what you have. Be proud of who you are, and create your own story.

#18 Know what is right from wrong. You’re not a child anymore, so put away childish habits. While it’s okay to make mistakes, take responsibility for your actions. Learn to apologize for what you have done, and learn how you can make amends for actions that have caused others pain, and that includes the environment!

#19 Appreciate true friends. Through the course of your life, you will come across different kinds of people. Some will be genuine, while some will try to use you. Don’t waste time on people who will bring you down in the end. Appreciate the people who are there for you, and value their friendship.

#20 Slow down. You may be busy juggling your career, getting started living your independent life, sorting out your messy dating life, and simply enjoying being a twenty-something—but don’t forget to just stop, take a deep breath, and slow down. Success and happiness aren’t races to be won. You have to live your life at your own pace.

Your 20s can be the most exciting decade of your life. During this time, you’ll meet new people, learn new things about yourself, and really open your eyes to the wonders *and pitfalls* of the adult world. You only have 10 years to be a carefree, energetic twenty-something, so shouldn’t you make these 10 eye-opening years count?

While these lifestyle changes may be helpful and insightful, the best way to go through your 20s is to be kind to yourself and to others, make time for what you love, appreciate what you have, and be prepared for the future.

18 Ways to Have High Self-Esteem and Start Winning at Life

18 WAYS TO HAVE HIGH SELF-ESTEEM AND START WINNING AT LIFE

Tiffany Grace Reyes

It’s normal to feel down once in a while, but constant negativity isn’t healthy. Use these tips to have high self-esteem and feel better about yourself.

Having low self-esteem can have a significant impact on virtually every aspect of your life, including your job, relationships, and your mental and physical health. However, the secret to have high self-esteem is not so hard to figure out.

High self-esteem comes from developing a positive self-worth and outlook. This is something you have to proactively build within yourself. There are many ways you can build your own self-esteem little by little. What’s important is that you stay consistent, but not beat yourself up for failing once in a while.

Tips to have high self-esteem

If you suffer from low self-esteem, try to make it a priority in your life to foster positive feelings about yourself. Starting with some of these tips for high self-esteem can be helpful.

#1 Have a vision. Form an image of yourself as the confident, self-assured person you want to be. Often, it all just starts with your mindset. If you believe you can be a confident person with high self-esteem, that’s exactly how you will begin to come off to others as well.

#2 Set realistic goals. It’s not enough that you have dreams and aspirations. You have to set realistic goals that you know you can achieve within a specified timeframe. Practice writing down clear and actionable goals for the day, and don’t forget to set long-term goals, too. This gives you a target to hit, and boy does it feel good when you can actually cross those items off of your list!

#3 Have a plan and follow through. Now that you have goals, the next step is to draw yourself a roadmap for how you will achieve those goals. Planning helps you keep your eye on the prize, so to speak. Otherwise, you may wander off, become sidetracked, or lose your motivation.

#4 Think about yourself in a positive light. Be positive about yourself and the world around you. Don’t dwell on the bad things that are happening or worry about the unpleasant things that could happen. Focus on the here and now and appreciate what you have instead of focusing on what you lack.

#5 Appreciate yourself. If you want to have high self-esteem, make it a habit to give yourself that figurative pat on the back on a regular basis. Even spending just a few moments every day to appreciate yourself can make a huge difference to your mood and to your self-esteem. Think about the people you’ve helped that day, what you’ve accomplished, and the other things that you can thank yourself for.

#6 Silence your inner critic. That voice inside your head that says you’re not good enough can be loud and persistent at times, especially for those who have low self-esteem. Guess what—you don’t need that in your life. Stop putting yourself down, and if there’s one inner voice you should listen to, it’s that one that says, “You’re great and you can do great things!”

#7 Say no to comparisons. Avoid comparing yourself to others. You will always find someone who is better or worse than you, but it’s not a healthy habit for your self-esteem to constantly compare. Celebrate what makes you unique and just look straight ahead with your goals in mind.

#8 Perfection is a myth. Doing things well is highly commendable. However, try to avoid striving for perfection. It is an impossible goal to accomplish. Instead, if you want to have high self-esteem, focus on giving your best in every situation and every task. Also, celebrate your imperfections, as those are what make you unique.

#9 Exercise and be active. Exercise can do wonders to your body, mind, and self-esteem. It releases feel-good endorphins to your brain. Furthermore, it keeps you fit so you feel good about yourself inside and out.

#10 Everyone makes mistakes. Even with the best of intentions, people still make mistakes, so don’t beat yourself up whenever you commit them. Just learn from it and move on. If an apology is in order, be genuine, but don’t let anyone beat you up over mistakes that you take responsibility for.

#11 Focus on what you can change. Stop stressing over the things that you can’t control. Instead, focus on what you can change. Do your best to make your situation better, and believe in yourself and your capabilities.

#12 Make peace with what you can’t change. Now, as for the things that are beyond your control, it is best to make peace with them. There’s no use worrying about these things. Don’t waste your time and energy obsessing over anything that’s clearly beyond your control. Instead, focus your energy on making a positive impact in your life and the lives of others.

#13 Do things that you enjoy doing. Those who do the things that they love and enjoy are happier than those who just go through their days doing something they dislike. So if you’re given the choice, spend your time doing what you love to do.

#14 Do something you’re good at. It’s not enough that you’re doing what you love. You should also do something that you know you’re good at so you have a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment. This reinforces your strengths and abilities because you can see for yourself that you are highly productive, your efforts are going somewhere, and you can see the results.

#15 Celebrate your triumphs, however small. All great things start from small beginnings and taking baby steps. So don’t be afraid if your triumphs don’t seem to make much of an impact. You are working your way towards your goal, and those little things can add up in no time.

#16 Help others. It’s always fulfilling to be of service to others. Being there for others, even just to brighten up their day with a sincere smile, is enough to put you in a good mood and make you stand a little taller. If nothing good is happening in your life, then be the good thing to happen to others.

#17 Be around supportive people. Birds of the same feather flock together. So if you want to keep your self-esteem up, be around those who have high self-esteem, too. Furthermore, be in the constant company of people who give you constructive criticism and support.

#18 Avoid those who put you down. Avoid negative people like the plague if you want to have high self-esteem. They are energy vampires who will also try to bring you down. Even the people with the highest, healthiest self-esteem can find themselves drained when around negative people.Self-esteem comes from self-determination and self-discipline. Mind your thoughts and interactions with others and the world around you. The more power you have over yourself to think the right thoughts and take the right steps, the more self-esteem you’ll have. And the higher self-esteem you have, the better the quality of life you will live.

Achieving Self-Acceptance: 10 Little Steps for One Big Change

ACHIEVING SELF-ACCEPTANCE: 10 LITTLE STEPS FOR ONE BIG CHANGE

Bella Pope

Accepting yourself for who you are isn’t easy. If you’re struggling to be okay with you, here are the steps you can take to make self-acceptance a reality.

The one thing humans struggle with more than anything else is accepting ourselves for who we are. With the media so focused on who is “perfect” and what qualities make someone “the best,” we tend to pick ourselves apart in deciding if we have those qualities, too, thus shattering our ability to accept ourselves.

I am probably a poster child for needing self-acceptance. When I was younger, I was always told I needed to be better—to be the best. I became self-critical and had SO many insecurity issues *in part, due to a few boyfriends*, despite being a pretty well-rounded person.

Self-acceptance vs self-esteem

A lot of people might think self-acceptance and self-esteem are one in the same, but they’re very different. Although improving your self-acceptance usually increases your self-esteem, they’re not interchangeable. Self-esteem relates more to the qualities other people see in us. Whereas, self-acceptance includes ALL aspects of who we are.

This means someone could be happy with how they’re perceived by other people, but still be miserable on the inside because they don’t accept themselves.

How to be happy with who you are

I got good grades, always worked hard at anything I did, yet I still felt like I wasn’t good enough. I was never happy with who I was. I looked in the mirror daily and picked out my own problems and what I needed to do to fix them.

Little did I know all I needed to fix was how I viewed myself. It won’t be an overnight fix, but if you’re having trouble being happy with who you are and achieving self-acceptance, here are the different steps you can take to get there.

#1 Be positive all the time. You would be thoroughly surprised how changing your overall outlook on the world changes the way you also see yourself. According to Psychology Today, it’s actually possible to rewire your brain to be a more positive person.

Every time you have a negative thought, stop yourself and find something good about the situation. It doesn’t have to even be related to you—just in general.

For example, if you’re stuck in traffic after a long day and get angry because you just want to get home and relax, just think to yourself that you get to sit and do almost nothing while listening to great music on the radio. That sounds pretty relaxing to me!

#2 Whenever you’re being critical of yourself, STOP and say three good things instead. Whenever I mess up on a project, there’s always something negative that comes to mind. I didn’t pay enough attention. I could’ve worked harder. I’m not cut out for this type of work. But there are so many better things to be said, too.

When you start being critical of yourself, stop the negative train of thought and replace it with good things instead. Cutting off that negative criticism of yourself retrains your brain to think positive thoughts about you instead, and it’ll make self-acceptance that much easier.

#3 Determine if there are outside factors. The truth is, a lot of outside influences affect our ability to accept ourselves. A rough upbringing with unsupportive parents, the cruel media expectations, and even an old teacher who told you, you weren’t good enough could all be a factor in your non self-acceptance.

If there is something like that in your life, identify it so you can acknowledge it, forgive whatever it is, and then move on. Realizing that there could be a different reason you are that way will make accepting yourself so much easier.

#4 Make a plan. Honestly, if you’re someone who’s had a problem accepting yourself for a long time, it’s going to be more difficult and take longer for you to start now. Make a plan and stick to it. Make a pact with yourself to wake up every day and be happy with yourself.

This not only gives you a reason to get up and try to accept yourself every day, but it forms in you the habit of doing good things for yourself.

#5 Write down every time you do something great. Either keep a notebook handy or make a section in your notes for all the positive things you do daily. Each time you do something that earns a compliment from someone else or even if you just think, “Wow, I did a good job,” write it down somewhere. Then look at those things every night before bed.

#6 Find support. Chances are, if you don’t accept who you are then you probably don’t have a great support system helping you out. Open up to a few friends and family members and let them know how you’ve been feeling about yourself.

You’ll be surprised how fast they jump on your ship and help you out in any way they can. It’s easier to accept yourself when you know how many other’s around you already accept you.

#7 Get rid of critical people in your life. Negativity and self-criticism are contagious. There are probably people in your life that are critical of others and also critical of themselves—all of which transfers onto you.

If there are people like that in your life, you just need to ditch them. They are in no way adding anything good to your life if they’re inhibiting your ability to accept who you are.

#8 Allow yourself to mess up—then forgive yourself for it. Nobody is perfect. But just because you mess up from time to time doesn’t mean you can’t accept yourself. You won’t be successful with everything you do and that’s okay.

As long as you forgive yourself and move on from the event, self-acceptance will be so much easier. The hardest part of this for someone who has always been self-critical is to actually forgive and forget. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.

#9 Stop comparing yourself. You can’t expect to be just like someone else. You are your own person and don’t have the exact same qualities as someone else. Stop comparing who you are to who someone else is, because that only makes it more difficult to accept yourself.

Nobody has all the qualities you possess and you don’t have all the qualities someone else possesses. Even identical twins–who share DNA–aren’t going to be the same on all levels. You have to only compare yourself to YOU.

#10 Seek professional help. If your inability to accept yourself takes over your life to a point where you are becoming depressed or having trouble functioning during the day, you may need help. Sometimes there are underlying reasons to your dislike of yourself, and you need a professional to uncover those reasons before you can begin healing.Self-acceptance is something we all have to strive for every day of our lives. It can be a challenge at times, but it’s the most rewarding feeling of all.

12 things we all do that actually make our life much worse

make your life worse

12 SIMPLE THINGS YOU DO TO MAKE YOUR LIFE MUCH WORSE

Lakeisha Ethans

Has life been unfair to you? You may think the issue is external, but the problem is in you. These are 12 things you do to make your life worse.

A lot of people, at some point in time, feel that life is being unfair to them. I feel that, too, at times and to avoid feeling depressed, I constantly struggle and challenge myself to accomplish milestones. After a lot of thought, I realized that the problem was coming from me, and not the world around me. You should remember that your outcomes in life depend on how you think and act. This clearly means that a positive attitude toward life is exactly what makes life easier to deal with. But, of course, we don’t know that until life hits us with lemons!

Expectations and the role they play

Let’s imagine that you’re holding a big, ripe apple in your hand. You take a bite to taste it. You know how an apple is supposed to taste, so when the big, juicy apple is bland and mealy, you grimace. You feel disappointed, and may even toss the apple into the compost pile.

Now, let’s assume you eat a big, juicy apple… and it tastes exactly as expected. You eat the whole thing, and feel extremely satisfied. What’s the difference? Not the apple, but your expectations. When you set realistic expectations—or forego expectations altogether—you’ll find that life is far more satisfying and exciting. Expectations, oftentimes, offer nothing more than a too-high bar against which to measure your life and experiences.

12 simple things you’re doing to make your life worse

The apple is just an example, and can be substituted for anything in life. It can be substituted with any event, task, social interaction, person, meal, or any thought that enters your mind. Instead of clouding your every move with expectations, dive in head-first without expecting anything *good or bad* and you’ll see how truly beautiful life is! Now, let’s look at a few things we do to make our lives worse.

#1 You spend too much time on people or things that don’t matter. If you’re doing this, it has to stop. We only have 24 hours in a day which we can use to sleep, eat, and do the rest of our daily chores. But most people, for whatever reason, slack off and focus too much on people or things that don’t matter.

#2 You get offended by tacking your assumptions onto harmless actions. This happens to me, too, so I don’t blame you, but this has to stop. Your friend didn’t text you back, or a co-worker left to lunch without telling you. These are simple situations that can easily offend you, because you tag your assumptions to these otherwise innocuous actions. You start thinking that you’re either unworthy or unloved, creating a whole new world of hatred for yourself. The lesson here? Don’t take things personally.

#3 You take the road to the apocalypse. This is when you think of the worst possible outcome when something happens to you. The next step is to be delighted when you were wrong! Sore throat? Surely, you must have cancer. Lost your driver license? Your identity must have been stolen. Lost your wallet? Your savings is sure to be trained two minutes later. While this may seem sensible in the moment, this sort of negativity is both useless and illogical. This must stop. Think positive!

#4 You set unrealistic expectations. Your girlfriend was supposed to call you at 4 PM and she didn’t. She called at her convenience, instead. Your boyfriend forgot the 6 ½ month anniversary of your first lasagna together. Get the point? These are the kinds of expectations that I call parasites, because they will always leave you unhappy and sick to your stomach. Minimize your expectations so you can maximize the joys of life!

 

#5 You won’t do anything without getting a “sign.” Signs won’t come. Period. I have a friend who desperately wants to move to France, but she’s waiting for a “sign”—perhaps a trumpeted announcement from God, or an invitation from the president of France. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t believe in higher power or divinity, but I am saying that you need to shape your fate, not be governed by it.

#6 You’re not a risk-taker. If you want to live life to the fullest, you need to start living boldly, and that means you need to take risks. Every time someone offers you something exciting that involves some amount of risk, take it. You’ll be glad you did!

#7 You compare your life to others. Teddy Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy,” and this is 100% true. I know I’m not supposed to say this, but this gets to me sometimes. “Oh she’s so happy with her husband,” “He gets all the lucky breaks,” “This guy has more money than I could ever make,” and so on and so forth. No one is perfect, so stop comparing your life to the lives of others—who knows? They might be doing the same to you!

#8 You can’t forgive and forget. I know this is easier said than done, because it’s hard to forgive the people who’ve hurt you—and even harder to forget them and their offenses. But instead of sulking, express gratitude for any lessons you’ve learned, and move on. Stop feeling sorry for yourself, forgive, if you can, and forget, so you can look forward to a happier life.

#9 You’re your own celebrity. I know this is tempting, but again, it’s only going to make your life worse. You shouldn’t force people to follow your plan. By making things less about you and more about others, you will become a happier, more positive person, and will be far less disgruntled when a plan is foiled or a schedule isn’t on-task.

#10 You allow “useless” people to get the best of you. When you know someone’s toxic to you and your life, remove them without feeling guilty about it. It doesn’t matter who they are or how close they are to you, don’t let anyone give you pain or make you feel unworthy. People who disregard your feelings, ignore your boundaries, or continue to treat you like trash have to go. They need to leave. Period.

#11 For you, it’s either success or failure. Nothing can ever be perfect. Even success isn’t perfect. Try and gain as much happiness and experience as you can in the grey area between success and failure. Remember: never let success get to your head and failure to go to your heart. Every day is a new day, and you can change your life one baby step at a time.

#12 You avoid things as much as you can. No matter how much you avoid it, the truth will not cease to exist. You cannot ignore what’s in front of you—and worse, you won’t find peace by avoiding unpleasant or scary experiences. Although taking risks or even just completing a project or work may feel daunting, you will feel much better *and more powerful* after putting your nose to the grindstone and working through it.

Bring all your fears, worries, and weaknesses in front of you, and shine a blazing light on them. See them through to the end, because that’s the only way to find happiness and fulfillment. I swear, the pain you face when you face the truth is worth it in the end.

Remember that when we stop doing the wrong things and start doing the right things, life automatically gets easier. If any or all of the behaviors above apply to you, it’s time to change so you can simplify things for yourself and people around you. Life is beautiful and so are you, so enjoy it, and let go of these 12 things that make your life worse!

Conquering Fear

CONQUERING FEAR

Richard Innes

Ann Landers, the former well-known newspaper counselor, received an average of 10,000 letters a month. Almost all of them are from people burdened with life’s problems. She was asked if there was one problem that people seemed to struggle with more than any other. Her reply? Fear!

Yes, fear is a common problem from which none of us is immune. According to a well-known doctor, 90 percent of the chronic patients who see today’s physicians have one common symptom—fear.

A recent issue of The Christian Businessman reported the results of a survey that revealed the following major concerns of small business owners; a fear of poverty, a fear of criticism, a fear of illness, a fear of rejection, a fear of growing old, a fear of being separated from loved ones, and a fear of death.

These fears are by no means confined to business people. They are common to us all to some degree, along with many other fears, such as a fear of failure, fear of losing one’s job, and a fear of feeling inadequate—one of the most common fears of all.

Then there are innumerable phobias such as a fear of the dark, fear of high places, fear of closed-in places, fear of insects, and so on.

Fear is very much a part of life. It is a God-given emotion. We rightly fear driving through a red light or riding with a reckless or intoxicated driver. In right amounts, fear is a strong motivator, a self-protective survival factor.

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Ninety percent of the things
we fear never happen.

Fear becomes a problem when it is irrational or when we have too many fears. Fears can be listed under one of several categories such as the following: fears that are normal and healthy; fears that are imagined, fears that are projected or displaced, fears that are learned, and fears that are caused by a threat to our security—either physical or emotional.

Fears that are imagined. As somebody else has said, 90 percent of the things we fear never happen. A further 9 percent we often make happen ourselves. For instance, a person who has a deep fear of failure (conscious or unconscious) may get himself so anxious about failing, he will make himself fail.

Imaginary fears need to be recognized for what they are—which may not be easy at first—and then, with practice, refused to be believed.

Fears that are projected or displaced. These fears have their roots in the past. One lady I know was badly burned in an accident some years ago. She now has an “unreasonable” fear of fire. Just the smell of smoke will trigger her unresolved memories and inner terror.

Or take a man who, when he was growing up, felt totally smothered by an over-controlling mother. Unless he faces and resolves his old fears, chances are he will now project them on to his wife and have an unreasonable fear of being controlled by her.

In fact, whenever we overreact, we can be almost certain that we are projecting or displacing an unresolved fear from the past onto a present situation.

Fears that are learned or conditioned. As a child I used to have an unreasonable fear of grasshoppers. No grasshopper ever harmed me so from whom did I learn this fear? You’re right. It was my mother. She had a terror of them, so I learned to be afraid of them too, along with a fear of the dark, the bogeyman, etc. Fortunately, learned or conditioned feelings of fear can be reconditioned. I still don’t care for big grasshoppers, but the way I overcame my irrational fear of them was to realize that they were harmless and to practice picking some up.

I wouldn’t suggest the same process for overcoming a fear of snakes, but very often to do the thing we fear is an effective way to overcome learned or conditioned fears.

Fears that are real. Fears, such as the fear of losing one’s job and income, of living alone when elderly or bereaved, or losing one’s health, etc., etc. can be very real to those going through these experiences.

The question is, how do we overcome our fears?

First. Learn to admit them. This is the first step for resolving any problem. As Jesus, the Master Teacher, once said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32, NIV)

Second. Verbalize your fears. This gets them out in the open where they can be dealt with.

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You can control your actions
regardless of your feelings.

Third. Don’t allow your fears to control you. It’s okay and normal to be scared out of your socks at times. However, it’s immature to allow your feelings to control your actions. You can control your actions regardless of your feelings. It’s not always easy but it is a choice we all have!

Fourth. If your fears are imaginary, acknowledge this and refuse to believe them. Get facts before jumping to conclusions. Remember, what the mind dwells on, it will eventually believe and act on. Refuse to dwell on fearful thoughts.

Fifth. If a fear is an ongoing anxiety that has no apparent cause, realize that it is most likely a symptom of some hidden fear. If so, it may be wise to see a trained counselor to help you find and resolve the cause.

Sixth. If the fear is real, accept your situation but take whatever steps you can to change the circumstances that cause your fear. If you fear a layoff, upgrade your training to suit the needs of the changing work environment. If you fear being alone, reach out to others and help meet some of their needs. In so doing, you will meet some of your own. Realize, too that most adverse situations don’t last forever.

Seventh. Above all, learn to trust in God. There is no greater way to overcome fear. And this is a choice we all can make. The Bible says, “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.” (Proverbs 29:25, NIV)

Trusting God is not a copout or an excuse for avoiding personal responsibility for our well-being. Trusting God is knowing that no matter what happens, God will bring good out of it if we do what we need to do and trust the rest to him. The Bible also says, “For we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.” (Romans 8:28, NIV)

When I’m afraid, I say to myself, “What would I do if I weren’t feeling scared?” I then act accordingly.

I also commit and trust my life and circumstances to God every day. And, whenever faced with a fearful or challenging situation, I always pray, “God I choose to trust myself and this particular situation to you.” I keep doing this and, in time, my feelings catch up with my choice. It may take a while but it always works out for the best when I trust it to God.

He will do the same for you if you do your part and daily trust your life and circumstances to him.

Five Kinds of Clutter

FIVE KINDS OF CLUTTER

Randy Carlson

Clutter is more than just a closet that needs to be cleaned out at home. There are deeper issues. A cluttered closet is a problem but consider the challenges of a cluttered mind. That being said, let’s look at five types of clutter. (There are many others, but I chose these five.

Mental clutter develops in our thinking. From the very moment we wake up until the very moment we fall asleep, our mind is constantly distracted and caught on things. It’s hard to control our minds, and that’s why I think the scripture spends so much time talking about our minds and about our thinking, because it can be cluttered.

1 Colossians 3 says to “Set your minds on the things above, not on earthly things.” It’s a matter of intentionally deciding how we’re going to think. The apostle Paul says we have a daily opportunity to hold every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5). It’s an intentional decision to actively control our thoughts.

  • Emotional clutter arises from the negative emotions we have in our lives. We can carry emotional bondage that can keep us from living intentionally.

Negative emotions keep us from being successful at the things that matter in our lives. It’s just a reality. We live in a fallen world, and if we’re not intentional with our emotions, we can become distracted.

  • We miss the mystery of our faith when we experience spiritual clutter.

Sometimes we feel we have to have the answer to everything. We have to be prepared to defend our faith, but that doesn’t mean we always know all the answers, because the Bible says we see through a dark glass, and everything is distorted. But someday, it will all become clear to us. The Bible warns us against “having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away.” (2 Timothy 3:5 NKJV)

  • Digital clutter is a huge problem.

A study from the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the average time spent online since the year 2000 has increased from 9.4 hours to 23.6 hours. That’s 3.3 hours a day online. Another statistic states that Americans spend 17.6 hours a day “oogling” the internet. That word has a lustful connotation. It’s like a flirtatious look, and I thought, isn’t that interesting that they’re saying that two-and-a-half hours a day, the average American is flirting online with whatever they’re looking at. Maybe it’s not inappropriate, but there’s almost a flirtatious love affair we have with our computers and online activities.

Technology can be used to free us, to give us a greater sense of intentionality, or it can consume us. Let’s make sure it’s used in a way that really adds value to our lives.

  • We all wrestle with schedule clutter.

We can be so busy working in our lives, sometimes we don’t work on our lives. It’s important that we really spend time looking at the bigger issues that face us, our values, our goals and so on.

The Book of Psalms is full of passages that encourage us to hope in God. Hope is something we intentionally decide to do, and we are faced with so many distractions that even experiencing hope can become lost in the mix. If we want to experience hope, to be intentional in trusting God, we must declutter our lives.

How to Overcome Infidelity in Marriage

HOW TO OVERCOME INFIDELITY IN MARRIAGE

sheqoz

When the betrayed spouse feels violated, they get a rush of adrenalin which triggers irrational reaction

The Pain:

After infidelity, the betrayed spouse goes through intense emotions. The hurt, bewilderment, anger and numbing shock are overwhelming. There’s normally accelerated anger from the betrayed spouse which causes them to vent their rage. Although they should be granted the freedom to do so, it is important to choose the verbalized words carefully.

Reaction:

The strenuous stress contributes to a flood of adrenaline in the body. It is during this reaction that the betrayed spouse can do anything to hurt back the betrayer. This is the most sensitive time which determines where the relationship will end up. It can be the beginning of marriage recovery or the end.

During this period, the last thing the betrayer should do is react with anger. Instead, they should allow their spouse the space to vent while they maintain an apologetic attitude. This will help calm the situation to a point where a decent discussion is possible.

What to avoid:

The betrayed  –  

Avoid any physical confrontation with either your spouse or the person they cheated with. Sometimes stepping down to your betrayers level might turn the table making you seem like the evil one.

Do not jump into the option of property damage. It will do you no good and might land you into a lawsuit. You have loads of emotional healing to deal with. Don’t add any more.

Take some time away if you can. It will help you heal and make sound decisions on the next steps you want to take.

The betrayer –

You have violated marital vows and solid trust. Avoid any form of arrogance towards your spouse. A kind, polite attitude during this time will go a long way.

This is your time to make amendments since you’ve been caught pants down. Try an honest approach with the questions your spouse has. Remember you’ve been caught because she/he had some information.

There’s no need to hide bits of it from your already injured spouse at this point. Your precious relationship is shattered into pieces. There’s nothing left to protect. Nothing will injure your spouse more than being subtly  deceived on top of your act.

Trying to hide what they already know is clear indication that you intend to protect and cover up your rendezvous. If you do not wish to continue and you honestly desire to save your marriage, tell it like it is. Your spouse already knows the truth anyway. Deceit has done no good to your marriage. It definitely will not rebuild the broken one.

Questions to Expect From the Betrayed Spouse:

These questions are almost guaranteed after the first surge of anger. What happened? When did it happen? How long has this been going on? Do you love her/him? Men are said to want details of the sexual activity.

No matter how awkward the question, do not squelch the information. Most women are known to calm down when they realize their spouse isn’t trying to fool them any further.

After the Interrogation:

The wounded spouse now has the power to call the shots. If she/he intends to save the marriage, she/he will try to work things out positively. However, it all depends on the violations picked from the betrayer.

It is crucial that both spouses work together from one level. The possibilities of falling off the marriage wagon at this point are very high. There must be some mutual understanding and support. The betrayer must work hard to rebuild trust while the wounded spouse must create the opportunity and show support

Expectations in Rebuilding your Marriage:

Although there’s an open window for rebuilding your marriage, the emotional turmoil from infidelity is not anywhere close to over. There’s going to be a recurrence of certain things like grief, suspicions and sometimes accusations.

When this happens, the best thing to do is to reassure the grieving spouse that it will never happen again. As time goes by, the relationship will begin to get stronger and trust might eventually kick in.

What to Avoid:

Having an opportunity to rebuild a broken marriage should not be taken for granted. It’s more like walking on glass until the solidarity is once again proven. For example, if the betrayer is a man, the last thing he would want to do is continue visiting bars and showing up late in the night.

Such behaviors will keep the woman in a grieving state. She will not be able to move on and forgive because she thinks her spouse is still running around with the woman he cheated with. This will push her limits and eventually she will completely give up on the marriage. The same goes to a man betrayed by his wife – which isn’t unusual nowadays.

Facts:


A couple that prays together stays together

Things happen and temptations are always present. Infidelity for the most part is normally premeditated. The will to walk out of it depends entirely on the betrayer. If they arrogantly continue the deception, the betrayed spouse is left with two options. To either live with that pain for the rest of their lives or completely shut the door.

I personally don’t encourage people to divorce but nobody should live an unhealthy life due to stress-related illnesses just to hold a marriage together. Life is short and should be lived at its best. Every married couple need to understand that they can love their spouse but cannot control the decisions they make.

The only option is to commit the relationship to God. His Holy Spirit will always guide you into the right direction. My conclusion? Pray for each other. l have never known of couples who pray together going through wreckage. Please take time and read about forgiveness in marriage here. Good luck with your marriage.

If You’re Feeling Like You Married the Wrong Person…

IF YOU’RE FEELING LIKE YOU MARRIED THE WRONG PERSON…

Intentional Living

Do you feel like you married the wrong person? I encourage you to take an honest look inside yourself if that’s the way you feel today. You may never voice it. You may just hold it inside and wonder about it.  I’m not asking the question, did you marry the wrong person. I am not advocating divorce. The truth—if we are transparent today—is that this thinking is a reality thousands of Christians struggle with each day.

That’s why the intentional living message is so desperately needed to speak to the Christian mind and heart today. Intentional love says, “I’m going to be patient, long suffering, and practice all of the fruit of the spirit. I’m going to do the things that the scripture teaches us to do.”

It’s about what you think, how you feel, and what you do in terms of your marriage. I have shared three phases to a successful marriage below in hopes of helping you be more intentional about your relationship with your spouse. If you’re not married but thinking of getting involved in a new relationship, this information can help you as you make decisions toward a successful marriage.

1. You have to care for yourself.

Healthy people tend to marry other healthy people. The healthier you are—physically, spiritually, emotionally, and relationally—the better choices and decisions you can make for your life. Don’t go to step two until you are 100% healthy in every area of your life. Don’t assume you can move forward and then come back to step one to get healthy later. It’s very difficult to go back.

2. You have to care for your decision.

That means be very careful before you say, “I’m going to marry this person.” Assuming you’re a healthy person, make sure your decision is based on:

  • knowing them
  • knowing their heart
  • really having a shared vision
  • spending time praying together
  • being in agreement on spiritual things, sexual things, finances, parenting and children and careers.

Don’t marry a person if there are serious unresolved issues. Never assume that person is going to change. Don’t think that things are going to be better tomorrow, because truthfully that is not very likely.

So you’ve got to care for yourself, and then you’ve got to care for your decision. By the time you get to phase three—after you’ve said, “I do”—then it’s time to care for your marriage.

3. You have to care for your marriage.

It’s time to care for the person that you married and care for yourself within that marriage. I think there are two biblically based things that we need to do. First, we need to practice what I call intentional love. 1st Corinthians 13 speaks of that. Then we need to practice active respect.

Intentional ONE THING Challenge

If you could do ONE THING and know that it would make a significant, lasting, possibly life-changing difference in your life, would you do it? Dr. Carlson shares the power of ONE THING and why you should get started doing your ONE THING today.

Have you ever lost your motivation?

HAVE YOU EVER LOST YOUR MOTIVATION?

Angel Chernoff

Has life ever hit you so hard you wondered how you’d ever get out of the rut you’re in?

I know exactly how you feel. I’ve been there myself. And, above all, what you need to remember is that the next step is ultimately your choice…

Yes, it’s your choice.
YOUR choice.
You are choosing right now.

And if you’re choosing…
to complain…
to blame…
to be stuck in the past…
to act like a victim…
to feel insecure…
to feel anger…
to feel hate…
to be naïve…
to ignore your intuition…
to ignore good advice…
to give up…

…then it’s time to choose differently.

But, let me also remind you that you are not alone. Generations of human beings in your family tree have chosen. Human beings around the world have chosen. We all have chosen at one time or another. And we stand behind you now whispering:

Choose to let go.
Choose to be present.
Choose to be positive.
Choose to forgive yourself.
Choose to forgive others.
Choose to see your value.
Choose to see the possibilities.
Choose to find meaning.
Choose to prove you’re not a victim.

Choose to find the motivation you need to take a step forward.

We show HOW at our annual Think Better, Live Better conference. Marc and I guide attendees through the process of perspective change—and stepping forward through life’s painful twists and turns.

Raising Exceptional Families with Special Needs Children

RAISING EXCEPTIONAL FAMILIES WITH SPECIAL NEEDS CHILDREN

Lisa Pinhorn

It’s a given: parenting is hard work. But when you’re raising a child with special needs, the level of care and stress is not just higher—it shifts the foundations of families and adds unimaginable complexities for everyone involved.

Physical disabilities, learning disabilities, illness, Autism, ADHD, Anxiety, OCD, and Developmental Trauma are parenting game changers. At Feeding Futures, we work in the world of exceptional families, so we know all too well how chaotic things can become when you’re caring for a child with special needs. It sounds stressful because it is, and words don’t even begin to do it justice. I know because I’ve lived it.

When my daughter’s Autism diagnosis came, I was new to being a single parent. My emotional reaction was neither pretty nor graceful. Not long after came the news that she also had extreme anxiety and debilitating OCD. The grief that came with each doctor visit was very real. During the slow process of adjusting to a new normal, I became a warrior. And after six years of fighting, I needed a new way forward.

Nobody can prepare you for the emotions that come with parenting special needs children, especially as a single parent. It is full of questions, self-doubt, and eventual acceptance of your situation—a path that should never be seen as a straight line. Each new challenge for my child can trigger old emotions that send me back into the grief cycle, which is full of negative thoughts and less than ideal coping strategies.

What I eventually learned is that I had to make a plan, because at the end of the day, I had a very special child who needed me.

A New Normal for Special Needs

In my work with families, I see special needs parents scrambling to adjust to their new and unexpected role as a healthcare manager for their child. They are prepared to be the catalyst needed to provide an overall positive quality of life for their family, but many are never told how.

Sadly, families receive little instruction on how to best meet the needs of their children without feeding the already toxic levels of extreme family stress. The stress within special needs households is a topic we can no longer ignore.

Here is what I know to be missing in our special needs world: parental self-care. And not normal self-care. We need deep, even radical, self-compassion practices. We are all so concerned about the deficits of our children that no one is looking at the emotional crisis happening in the lives of the parents and overall family.

As parents of special needs children, we need to add ourselves back to the family care list. We actually need to be number one on the list, but I know that’s not always possible for special needs parents. So, if your self-care needs can’t sit at the head of the family care table, you at least need a seat.

Think back to the day the diagnosis came. Were you told to prepare for the grief, recognize your personal stress levels, and strengthen your family relationships as part of your child’s care? Or did you immediately start driving your child to one specialist after another and line up for pharmaceuticals?

These are two very different approaches on many levels. One is void of parental self-care while the other puts parental self-compassion as a necessary part of family-focused care. Sounds radical, even though it shouldn’t be. At Feeding Futures we want parental self-care to be part of the new normal that comes with the special needs diagnosis, and here’s why.

Caregiver Stress Impacts Children

Dr. Stuart Shanker, child psychologist and Founder of The MEHRIT Centre, explains that we’re parenting in an age of toxic stress levels. We are stressed and our kids are stressed. Our bodies and brains are in overdrive all day, every day, and it all flows down into the lives of our children.

In his book Self-Reg: How to Help Your Child (and You) Break the Stress Cycle and Successfully Engage with Life, Dr. Shanker describes a body of research on emotional co-regulation that shows the prefrontal cortex of a child’s brain is not fully developed, so it co-regulates with the prefrontal cortex of significant adults. When an adult is in a stress cycle, the “inter-brain” connection with the child is also full of that stress. Dr. Shanker describes this brain sync up like a “bluetooth” or wireless connection between children and adults. When the inter-brain connection is calm and regulated, stress behaviors are reduced.

There is also polyvagal research from Dr. Stephen Porges and other neuroscientists that’s found when stress is high, we all tip into fight, flight, and freeze more often. This state has substantial long-term health impacts on kids, both typical and with special needs.  

Here comes the missing piece that will turn your world upside down, but in a good way. Our children are our mirrors. They show us our stress levels. Each stressful adult day seeps into the nervous system of our children, and they reflect it back to us. Whenever we see a rise in anxiety and stress behaviors in our children, we need to take a good look at our day-to-day lives and our own stress levels. It’s hard to see ourselves as contributing to our children’s challenging behaviors, but the good thing is that it’s never too late to make changes and adopt a softer, more compassionate approach.

The 10% Self-Compassion Promise

Parents of children with special needs require more than just run of the mill self-care practice. They need supercharged, exceptional, and radical self-compassion. I tell parents to imagine they won the “self-care lottery” and they have to use the money on taking better care of themselves or they will lose the prize. Everything about our lives is filled with exceptionalities, and this part of our lives needs to be, too.

I ask families to think how their lives would change if they took 10% of the love and energy they donated each day to their child and gave it back to themselves. Many say they can’t, that it would be selfish, that there is no time. It’s natural that special needs parents are super focused on their children. They have to be. But they also need to care for themselves to avoid the downhill flow of anxiety into their already compromised children. When I remind them of how interconnected stress is within families, they begin to think a little more about a yoga class or going for that swim.

Here are a few things special needs parents can try as they step into the world of exceptional self-care and compassion.

Become a Peaceful Warrior
Special need parenting requires us to fight, so we go at it from a position of a warrior. But what if we come at this type of parenting from a different direction? One where instead of burning through our energy supply like an aggressive warrior, we pause each day and fill our tanks with exceptional compassion towards ourselves. Tell yourself each day that you are doing the job of a giant and that you are doing it well. This I know to be true because I have lived it. You can only be a warrior for so long, then you crash, and no one wins.

“Self-Care Light” Just Doesn’t Cut It
I love spas. I love the music, the muted colors on the walls, the water everywhere, and the services are wonderful. It is a delightful experience, but in my opinion, it is “self-care light.” Like all powerful experiences, we have to go deeper to see changes in our thinking, feeling, and behavior. Sadly, it has taken years for me to figure out this basic fact—leaving the spa and going back into the beehive of a stressful house or busy job is not what I call wise. These days I will keep my hundred dollars of spa money and instead opt for meditation. The Headspace app is a great option.

Learn More About Self-Compassion
Recently, I have taken on a more significant and more in-depth practice of self-compassion.  Self-compassion goes deeper than thinking it is nice to buy yourself that expensive thing because you deserve it. It is a deeper daily practice where you learn how necessary it is to cultivate a kind voice in your head. This voice will get you through the dark days, the medical appointments, the IEP meetings, and whatever your exceptional life will toss at you.  Self-compassion lives within a soft spot within yourself. It provides you with much needed kind attention, and it is the balance to all the attention you have to give to others.

Know That Compassion Has Two Necessary Parts
I remind parents of a concept I learned though buddhist meditation teacher and author Sharon Salzberg. Compassion has two equally important parts: the part you give to others and the part you must give back to yourself. Parents have no issue with the first part. It’s the second part they can’t get their head around. They have never been taught how to care for themselves or even think it is necessary. But it is, and this is the foundation of helping our children with special needs feel better, too.

Consciously Invite Positives Into Your Life
A wise yoga teacher once taught me the power of inviting positives and joys into our lives, and the reason to do it is more profound than you think. This practice teaches us that when our lives become more positive and balanced, we can reflect and observe that negatives have drifted away or at least don’t take up as much space in our lives. The work of Barbara Fredericksonsuggests we broaden and build positive states such as gratitude, kindness, compassion, joy, and peace. Try it for a month, see how your life changes, and how the behavior of your children will change, too. Positive begets positive, and joy generates joy, so pause to celebrate the positives, no matter how small they might appear.

So, are you ready? Ready to try something that will benefit your whole family? Start small. Make a list of things you would like to do for yourself, and carve out time to do it. Your family is not ordinary, it’s exceptional. And so are you.

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