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Why Addiction Is Everyone’s Disease

Statistics show that 85 out of every 100 people either personally struggle with or know someone who struggles from addiction

I recently had the privilege to speak at TEDxAndrews on Why Addiction Is Everyone’s Disease”.

We all have compulsive behaviors we use as a coping mechanism when we feel stressed, tired, angry, happy, nervous etc.. Examples of these behaviors might be nail-biting, overspending, underspending, overeating, drinking, drugging, worrying, smoking, pornography, video gaming, working, gambling, etc..

The difference between a compulsive behavior and addiction is the ability to control the use.  Compulsive behaviors can become an addiction when the use is causing you relationships, health, legal, and/or financial problems. Once an addiction, these compulsive behaviors take over and become unmanageable.

There are different types of addictions. In addition to the chemical/substance addictions (drugs and alcohol) that most of us are familiar with, there are process addictions which are behaviors.  Addictions develop from these compulsive behaviors that we often use to deal with stress, sadness, loneliness, abandonment, trauma, mental health diagnosis, etc..  In chemical and process addictions, the behaviors or substance has taken control of our lives and the conscious “choice” to use has been impaired.

The brain cannot differentiate between the physical or emotional pain and it will remedy the discomfort by any available means.   When there is physical pain like a headache, we take a pain reliever. Emotional pain is more elusive and harder to identify which makes it hard to treat and heal. 

What is the root of addiction?

Surprise, addiction is not the problem, it is a solution. Addiction is the solution to numb physical and emotional pain. Where does this emotional pain come from? Emotional pain comes from trauma and unprocessed emotions.  Which we often are ill equipped to identify and treat on our own.  We are seeking a an external solution to an internal problem.

An analogy of using addiction to treat emotional trauma is like using duct tape to heal an open and oozing burn wound. A wound will not heal by using duct tape and, to make matters worse, it would likely become infected without the necessary treatment and exposure to air it needs to heal.  Like an addiction, the wound infection spreads to what once was healthy skin and creates a larger necrotic problem. Now think about that same wound and how with appropriate wound care as well as air applied to it would heal the wound.  While it may leave a scar when it heals the skin would heal and the scar would be smaller than if we tried to cover it up and not expose the wound.

To heal from addiction, people must be allowed the freedom to share their experiences, to expose the wounds, and deal with its root cause. If you do not heal the trauma wound from the inside out, addiction relapse is almost always inevitable.  Maintaining sobriety is exponentially more difficult.

People suffering from addiction have amazing qualities. They tend to have high IQ’s, and high EQ’s. They are sensitive to the emotions and energy of others.  Simply stated they experience the world differently. They had to learn to do that to find relief from the traumatic events in their past.  What may be traumatic to one person may not be to another.  We all have different thresholds.

With brilliant minds and sensitive souls, addiction is often the way they numb their emotional pain, but the real solution is healing their underlying trauma and teaching individuals healthier tools to reduce and/or eliminate the control this past situation has on them. 

Who is most at risk for addiction? 

We are all at risk of addiction, given the right set of circumstances. There is a point where emotional pain and trauma become unbearable and where addiction becomes a physiological and psychological need to sustain life. 

What is the opposite of addiction?

Connection is the opposite of addiction. The power of connection is strong enough to break the trap of addiction. You never know what trauma or emotional pain someone is suffering from and it is important to be open to moments of human connection.  They are everywhere and you can have a profound positive influence in someone’s life.  

How do you support someone in treatment?

You might think being supportive to someone in treatment means you drop them off at the rehabilitation facility and pick them up when their time is done. That is not how it works if you want to support someone. To support someone struggling with addiction you must do your own work and it is not easy.

That personal work is a different kind of recovery and includes reflecting on what part you might own in this person’s environment, how you may be contributing, and how you may be creating an atmosphere that fosters the ripe environment for your loved .

Only after you work through your own recovery, can you be a positive contributor.

The role of forgiveness

Forgiveness is a complex word and it is a gift you give yourself. It is a form of self-care.  Forgiveness does not mean you forget the hurtful situation or the person.  Rather, it is an active mindset shift of untethering oneself so that the person or situation no longer maintains power over you.  Compassion, acceptance and grace are other important lessons learned in your self-recovery work. Accept the past is the past.  Move on, extend grace, forgive and accept the opportunity to create an entirely new possibility.  You and only you can own this attribute. 

Boundaries

You may not know about boundaries but they are healthy, necessary, and powerful. Boundaries are what you are going to tolerate and what you are unwilling to tolerate to maintain you own emotional and physical health. When you set a boundary, you must stick to it. Staying true to your boundaries contributes to your recovery and allows you to care for yourself.

Self-care is important and a healthy part of life. Saying no sometimes may means disappointing someone and that is okay. There is beauty in the ugly. The beauty shows up on the other side of the hard work.

In self-recovery, you become a new person, just like the person who gets to the other side of addiction recovery becomes someone new. You may need to grieve the loss of the person that was and embrace the new person that is by recognizing they have something amazing to offer.  

There is meaning and purpose in adversity and it is where I discovered my life’s purpose.  I encourage everyone to seek and manifest their own destiny and purpose. It will be up to you to seize moment and create a powerful future by not becoming a victim to these circumstances.

You may struggle, you may have to recover from it, you may have to do a lot of things, but you will certainly become a better person for it. I encourage you to welcome life’s adversities, do not settle as if you were a victim of your life.

I am a speaker, business leader, and life coach. My mission and passion are to educate and share the skills I have learned in my life to people, business leaders, students, and professionals on how to transform and better their own life’s purpose through their skills and individual experiences. There are too many of us who go coast through life, and we don’t really understand why we are here or what are we supposed to be doing with ourselves. I am encouraging you to subscribe and follow my YouTube channel. I am committed to finding meaning and purpose through life’s challenges for you!

Are you struggling with life’s challenges?  Do you need help find your meaning and purpose?  I would love to hear from you.  
rachel@evolveandtransform.me  214.505.5598

How Do We Recognize and Get out of the Rabbit Hole

Falling down the Rabbit Hole is a metaphor for falling into a troubling or surreal state or situation.  In Alice in Wonderland, Alice spots a white rabbit hurrying past her, she follows him into his Rabbit Hole, tumbling down and landing in an unfamiliar world of talking caterpillars, narcoleptic mice, and disappearing cats.  This surreal state is only one example of a “Rabbit Hole”.

Other examples of succumbing to the Rabbit Hole might appear in relationships, family drama, or from traumatic life experiences.  In all examples, the salient Rabbit Hole theme is the inability to find your way out a deep psychological state or complex problem.  Often underlying trauma contributes to the spiral of distorted “reality” by changing your perspective, self-perception, relationships, and philosophy of life. 

The Rabbit Hole can be triggered by relationships, work stress, health issues (both physical and mental), big life changes and other traumatic situations. When triggered it can last for hours, days, months and years if you don’t have the appropriate coping skills to navigate your way out.

 “All too often, the Rabbit Hole is as deep as you have dug it” ― Gary Hopkins

How do get out of the Rabbit Hole? You use a method we coined as the ARCH™. An ARCH in architectural terms is a safe way to support weight. By utilizing ARCH the individual will be supported with healthier coping mechanisms. ARCH stands for:

  • AAwareness: Admittingly, it is difficult to know when your subconscious programming is running in overdrive and the first step out of the Rabbit Hole is to recognize that you are approaching or on the edge in the first place. 
  • R– Root Cause: In order to change behaviors, you must identify the root cause that supports the triggers. The trigger can often put us in the hole, however, there is an underlying reason attached.
  • CChange: In order to navigate the rabbit hole, it requires you to change your behavior and incorporate new tools. Examples: ending toxic relationships, exercising when stressed, leaning on a trusted confidant, modifying your diet and ensuring quality sleep to name a few.
  • HHeal: The Rabbit Hole stems from underlying pain. Once you identify the root cause above you can heal the wound. Healing may require psychotherapy, support groups, and education on the issues. Forgiveness of self or others is often a healthy healing tool. 

Answer the questions honestly below and get to know yourself. Find your triggers and traumas.

  • What triggered you into jumping down your Rabbit Hole? 
  • What is within your control and what isn’t?
  • Where can a friend, your partner, or a trusted confidant be helpful?
  • Self-care isn’t selfish, where can you take care of yourself better?
  • Are you ignoring red flags and not paying attention to your own values for living a life you can love?
  • Have there been recent changes in your life that might have been triggering? Did you change jobs, move, or end (or begin) a relationship? 

The insight you gain from your answers above will help you understand why you initially jumped into the Rabbit Hole. Keep this in mind while you go through the steps outlined below.

1. Set achievable goals

Identify what you would like to achieve. What is that your overall goal? Determine the steps you need to take to reach that goal. Break it down to reflect the tiniest steps to you can start right now. Commit your new goal to paper.

Until you commit your goals to paper, you have intentions that are seeds without soil”-Brian Tracy

2. Do you exercise healthy self-care routines and habits

Some examples of self-care are instituting healthy boundaries, exercising, writing, meditating, eating a healthy diet, fostering healthy relationships and creating opportunities for connection and relaxation.

3. Revisit your goals and plans

Review your goals and routines daily to stay on your outlined path. Keep track and celebrate the tiny accomplishments.  You may want to designate an accountability partner. These achievements will give you the confidence and motivation to keep moving forward.

4. Create a support system to ensure your success

For most, it is hard to ask for help.  It is even harder to be authentic about your needs with yourself and others. Having a coach, mentor, or trusted confidant helps keep things honest.  Be vulnerable and specific when talking to your support system about your issues, triggers, and stumbles. Use “I” statements and try to form sentences without the use of the word “you”.  In that way, you take complete ownership and responsibility for what is happening for you without transferring it to others. 

5. Take Note of Your Triggers

Go back now and review the questions and answers from above. Take each identified trigger and ask yourself how you can prevent falling in the Rabbit Hole again. Awareness of your triggers, and their antecedents, helps you recognize when you are on the precipice teetering on falling in again.

6. Do the work

The Rabbit Hole is real and can feel like a major derailment, but it doesn’t have to be completely catastrophic.  Climbing out of the Rabbit Hole takes time, effort, grit, and resilience. YOU MUST DO THE WORK. You cannot go around it; you have to go through to become the best version of yourself.   We all have our own wounds that send us down our Rabbit Hole. By repairing these trauma wounds is a personal and sacred journey. Trauma work is uncomfortable, dark, and horrifying at times. It is full of memories and experiences that we’d prefer not to revisit.  This work is a process, and there maybe be high and lows or slip and falls. The key is to get back up and continue your healing journey.

As you go down the Rabbit Hole or reading into our history, you realize that there are so many things that history books didn’t teach us about ourselves”- Usher

The choice is yours.  Will you tumble down the Rabbit Hole?  Or will you us this opportunity as life’s prompt to do the work that will allow you to become the best and strongest version of you. 

Need help to start your healing process? As part of the Evolve and Transform mission, we have partnered with Life Works Wellness an organization that creates optimal individual and family system performance through hybrid intensives, training programs, and workshops. To learn more check out our Life Works Wellness website or e-mail us at info@lifeworkswellness.com.

Anger, the Coverup To Shame and The Feelings of Not Being Good Enough

What is the real emotion that is lurking behind your anger?  For many, anger covers the feeling of shame.

Shame is an unpleasant, self-conscious emotion typically associated with a negative evaluation of self, withdrawal motivations, and feelings of distress, exposure, mistrust, powerlessness, and worthlessness. 

Shame is often mistakenly interchanged with guilt; they are vastly different emotions. John Bradshaw describes the difference between shame and guilt perfectly’ “Guilt says I’ve done something wrong; shame says there is something wrong with me. Guilt says I’ve made a mistake; shame says I am a mistake. Guilt says what I did was not good; shame says I am no good.”

It is typical to see the combination of shame and anger together. Anger is often used as a defense to divert attention away from the painful, underlying hidden feelings of shame.  It is painful to uncover the feelings of shame, which stems from the false belief that you are “not enough”.  This false belief of unworthiness usually develops at a very young age where you experienced feelings of not feeling seen, loved, valued, or understood.

The core belief of shame serves us in two ways:

  1. It provides a sense of control over other people’s feelings or behavior.  If your flaw is the reason that you are rejected by another, then you have the control to correct the flaw, to finally be accepted.  It is easier to feel flawed than to feel helpless over other people’s free will to behave and feel as they choose.
  2. It’s a false sense of control and protects us from feeling we are afraid to feel.  Feelings like heartbreak, grief, sadness, and sorrow, all stem from things of which you have no control over. Shame, of which you have the power to control is a preferred emotional diversion.

When anger is used to mask shame, the shouting, throwing things, and slamming doors might make you feel better initially, but the release is temporary. The anger ultimately creates further injury to yourself and the relationships of those that suffered from your anger.

If anger is something you struggle with, here are three coping strategies that really work.

1. Mindful, slow and deliberate breathing, being present and focusing on the feelings you feel in your body help in the process of uncovering your hidden shame.  The hurt from the past cannot be healed while it is being covered by anger.

2. The practice of self-forgiveness and the openness to new beliefs can help you to release feelings of anger and shame from your past.

3. Shame is a hidden, ugly secret that we never talk about. By talking about those painful experiences, you bring the secret to light and allowing you to release the shame associated with it.  As you authentically work to uncover the feelings of shame, it is important to accept all of you and to love and honor your experience without judgment.

If you are having difficulty, moving beyond anger and shame, you may be addicted to the feeling of control that your shame-based beliefs provide you.  If the control of feelings is what’s most important to you, you will not be able to heal your shame wound.

How do you know you are ready to let go of your false core beliefs?  When you can accept that the feelings and behaviors of others have nothing to do with you and you have a willingness to feel those hard to feel feelings, you will be ready to let the shame go and realize that you are, and always have been, perfectly good enough.

Contact Rachel Graham, a health entrepreneur, leadership coach, and empowering optimist who has dedicated her life to educating people to find their own meaning and purpose of life.  As a life coach, she understands that it is our underlying and limiting beliefs that impede our personal and professional performance.

What makes some people more resilient and able to navigate tough times better than others?

What exactly is resilience and why are some people more resilient than others? Have you ever wondered what separates those rare individuals who are able to move forward after trauma and adversity from those who are derailed by traumatic or adverse life circumstances?

Resilience is the thing that helps you make it through life’s tough times. Life has its ups and downs and humans experience these challenges in varying degrees. Your resilience determines whether these experiences will be traumatic and cause serious disruption in your life.

What Resilience is Not

Resilience is not a character trait but can be learned over time and it determines how you react to a crisis. Building resilience is a process that is different for everyone; what works for one person may not work for another. See the factors below, needed to build resilience.

  • A support system-maintain positive relationships and be able to ask for and accept help when needed
  • the ability to make and follow through with plans- have big picture goals while taking small steps toward accomplishing these goals
  • communication and problem-solving skills- life is all about change and challenges. Effectively managing solutions to overcome challenges builds resilience
  • remain positive- know that you can overcome any challenge through perseverance and visualizing the end goal
  • Be proactive instead of reactive- actively manage your feelings and impulses

Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg is a pediatrician specializing in Adolescent Medicine at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and has written several books on teaching youth to thrive shares a few tips in his book, Building Resilience in Children and TeensGiving Kids Roots and Wings, for strengthening resilience to overcome life’s difficult times.

  1. Competence— acknowledge when people are doing things right.  When things go wrong, trust in the competence of the individual to recover themselves after they fall
  2. Confidence—have confidence that the individual will know how to problem solve and overcome the challenges that life hands them
  3. Connection— encourage an individual’s connection with people, schools, and communities.  With the help of these connections, one can learn to develop creative solutions for life’s challenges
  4. Contribution—growth happens when one practices service to others- not only does it make you feel good, but it may make it easier to accept help from others when you need it
  5. Character—Having a clearly defined moral compass, what right and wrong for you helps them to navigate toward integrity when times are tough
  6. Coping— learning and practicing healthy, successful coping strategies decreases dangerous alternative outcomes
  7. Control—Understanding that privilege and respect are earned through acting responsibility will make wise choices easier

The good news is that resilience can be learned at any age.  It is the decision to see life’s challenges in a positive way.  Difficult life events are meant to pave the way for an amazing transformation.  Rachel Graham, a health entrepreneur, leadership coach and empowering optimist is dedicated to educating people, business leaders, students and professionals in finding their own meaning and purpose.  Contact Rachel to find out how she might help you through your life challenges and individual experiences.  She can assist you in understanding the underlying, and often limiting, behaviors and beliefs that impede your optimal performance personally and professionally.

How To Recognize A Narcissist Before You Fall In Love And How To Heal Once The Toxic Relationship Ends

Narcissism develops in early childhood when a child experiences attachment trauma and insufficient nurturing or love from their primary caregiver. As a child, narcissists learn that relationships are merely transactional and for their benefit, and not what is considered a normal loving connection. 

A narcissist learns that relying on others is not safe and therefore they become unable to attach to others in a healthy way. Instead, the narcissist learns to manipulate and relate to others only if it benefits him or herself. Narcissists seek transactional relationships with people who become their narcissistic supply.

Narcissistic supply becomes a form of payment of those chosen by the narcissist to prove their transactional worthiness. The narcissist is a master of emotional manipulation. They are both manipulative and charismatic and brilliant at reading what others desire. The narcissist, in the beginning, plays to the identified desires and engage in “love bombing” the object of their narcissist supply. Saying all the right things and showering of gifts starts their manipulation to ensure their narcissistic supply feels a sense of security, no matter how false it is.

Once the object of supply feels secure, the narcissist begins their ridiculous accusations, unwarranted criticism, and unrealistic demands. Isolating their supply from the ones that love them furthers their assertion of control. Once isolated, the narcissist ignores its supply criticizing their needs and feelings. This wreaks havoc on their supply’s confidence and self-esteem. 

Common characteristics of a narcissist

  • A narcissist has a grandiose sense of self-importance and exaggerates achievements and talents. They feed off attention and need constant validation, appreciation, and recognition. They name-drop to artificially align themselves with celebrities and famous public figures. They often live beyond their means by driving expensive cars, wearing designer clothes, and showering their supply with flashy gifts. This is designed to dazzle and charm the unsuspecting while hiding their deep-seated insecurities.
  • Narcissist craves admiration, talking only about themselves with no interest in others. Narcissists are charming, beautiful, and successful; they often excel at seduction and flattery to gain control of the object of their supply.
  • The narcissist lacks empathy for the feelings and needs of others, and a determining symptom of narcissism when combined with their sense of entitlement and exploitation. The narcissist is emotionally unavailable and incapable of vulnerability. 
  • Narcissists are arrogant and criticize others to make themselves feel superior. They often act with rude disdain, abrupt anger or covert hostility. They believe they are infallible and always right, never taking responsibility or apologizing for their actions. A red flag not to be ignored is hostility around past relationships and how they inevitably describe themselves as the victim.
  • A narcissist will exploit others to achieve their personal goals, every relationship is transactional and only meant to provide a means to their end. A narcissist uses covert aggression and manipulation to influence their bidding. More serious exploitation involves lying, gas-lighting, cheating, and fraud. 
  • Narcissists are compelled to be number one best. They stop at nothing to take down those they perceive as competitors. The narcissist cannot tolerate any form of criticism.
  • Narcissists are arrogant, entitled, and need to feel as though they are the center of everything. They feel entitled to special treatment- rules do not apply to them. They feel no responsibility, are always the victim and someone else is always to blame. 

Now you know what a narcissist is and how to recognize their common characteristics, how can you guard yourself against falling for their charm when they are love bombing you?

If you were raised by a narcissistic parent, you are naturally more susceptible to what feels familiar and a narcissist is a master at recognizing this in you. Once attached and in love, it is not easy to stay or leave, both are equally as frightening, exhausting, and emotionally devastating. 

It is a difficult decision to leave a toxic, narcissistic relationship and equally as devastating to be discarded by one. After all, you have been brainwashed to doubt yourself, your confidence and your self-worth. Here are some practical and concrete actions you can take to heal from a toxic narcissistic relationship.

  • Become aware and challenge any false beliefs that were born of this toxic relationship. Writing down false beliefs allows you to analyze whether they make sense or have any truth in them.
  • Now is the time to take some emotional inventory on your life. Where and by whom did you learn to be responsible for the feelings for others and accept all the blame?
  • Understand your motive or what need within you in met when you accept unacceptable behavior.
  • Use your reasonable mind to create new healthy boundaries for yourself, how you will be treated and what you will accept from others.

It is natural for human beings to want to remember the good times and forget the bad. When you find yourself romanticizing any part of your toxic relationship, remind yourself that you are thinking with your emotional mind. To overcome this, redirect yourself and use your reasonable mind. Create new boundaries for yourself to ensure your mental and emotional wellbeing.

The Stories We Tell Ourselves and Our Limiting Beliefs, Do They Hold Us Back?

As human beings, we tell ourselves stories and operate within our limiting beliefs. Limiting beliefs are the stories we tell about ourselves, about others, and about the world. 

These stories determine our perception of what is and how we think things are supposed to be. The stories we tell ourselves quickly become our reality. 

We become attached to our reality, which is made up of the stories we tell. Our limiting beliefs keep us from allowing the space needed to develop our authentic selves.  Living small, not allowing our own inner greatness to develop, becomes familiar and comfortable.

“The comfort zone is a psychological state in which one feels familiar, safe, at ease, and secure. You never change your life until you step out of your comfort zone; change begins at the end of your comfort zone.”― Roy T. Bennett

Most people live small through the stories they tell about themselves. This might be what you know, however, you can change what is familiar and create your most authentic self.  Give yourself permission to be your authentic self by committing to changing your mindset in these ways;

  • Detach yourself from who you think you should be. An attachment to be a certain way may make you feel discouraged and discontent when your stories fall short of reality.

“Grasping at things can only yield one of two results: Either the thing you are grasping at disappears, or you yourself disappear. It is only a matter of which occurs first.”-Goenka

  • Release the thought that you are independent and separate in relation to others, this creates a sense of isolation.  Feeling isolated leads to painful loneliness and keeps you from feeling connected to one another.
  • Realize that your story conditions you to act in a certain way.  You are told that you are too “this” or not enough “that” creating constraint in that conditioning.  Be aware and live beyond the stories you tell yourself. 

“Don’t limit yourself. Many people limit themselves to what they think they can do. You can go as far as your mind lets you. What you believe, remember, you can achieve.” ―Mary Kay Ash

  • Be aware when you resist reality which contradicts your limiting beliefs and stories.

“We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.” – Dalai Lama

  • Let go of your stories that are filled with judgment about how you think things should be.  Judgment leads to suffering when your limiting beliefs go against reality.
  • Stop living life through your story, it creates the assumption that you know and understands how things are and why people do what they do. Living within assumptions robs the mystery out of life.

To overcome the stories that live within your subconscious, create a belief that improves your life and supports your ability to act in ways that make your life better. Find ways to support your new beliefs with information and evidence.

“We are put on this planet only once, and to limit ourselves to the familiar is a crime against our minds.” —Roger Ebert

Can The Practice of Gratitude Really Increase Your Happiness and Overall Outlook on Life?

What is the practice of Gratitude anyway?  Let us break it down for you here.  The word gratitude originates from the Latin word gratia– meaning grace, graciousness, or grateful.  The practice of gratitude is to be mindful and appreciative of everything good in your life, even the little things. 

“Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more.  It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…it makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”- Melody Beattie

Gratitude often helps you to connect to something larger than yourself, examples could be community, nature, or a higher power. Gratitude changes your interaction with the world and promotes thoughts and behaviors that support your best life.  The practice of gratitude is also proven to improve mental and physical health and resiliency.

“I don’t have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness-it’s right in front of me if I’m paying attention and practicing gratitude”– Brene Brown

The practice of mindfulness and gratitude effectively increases happiness and your overall outlook on life.  Here are a few easy ways you can start practicing gratitude that sure positively influences your life.

  • With a positive attitude of gratitude, people will be drawn to you have you will be easy for people to like.  Acting with graces inspires others to seek your friendship and deepen relationships.
  • Practicing gratitude can have a positive effect on your sleep. Being thankful allows you to sleep longer and deeper, resulting in feeling more rested in your waking hours.
  • Practicing gratitude improves your mental well-being by lowering depressive episodes and fewer suicidal ideations.  Gratitude is also linked to fewer toxic emotions like resentment and envy.
  • It’s proven that having an attitude of gratitude will increase your physical health.  Research has linked gratitude to lower blood pressure, improved immunity, and fewer chronic aches and pains.
  • With an attitude of gratitude, you are more likely to reach your goals.  It’s proven that gratitude enhances your feelings of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, and energy, allowing you to fully focus on your goals.
  • People tend to gravitate and be influenced by those that express gratitude, making them natural leaders.
  • When gratitude is the focus, there is a greater sense of resiliency, resulting in mental fortitude and increased ability to manage stress, and you feel less stress in general.
  • Gratitude decreases the overall feelings of stress in general
  • With the practice of gratitude comes higher self-esteem and less social stress.

Cultivating your attitude of gratitude is a process. Here are several things you can do to develop and strengthen your attitude of gratitude.

“Gratitude is a powerful process for shifting your energy and bringing more of what you want into your life.  Be grateful for what you already have, and you will attract more good things”- The Secret

  • Express your appreciation and nurture your relationships through either verbal or written “thank you”.  Don’t forget to appreciate and thank yourself while you are busy thanking others.
  • Gratitude can be given and felt through your thoughts. We are all just energy you see, and we are affected by the positive energy of gratitude.  Send those positive thoughts out to the world on a regular basis and watch the ripple effects they cause around you.
  • Be mindful of what you are grateful for and create daily entries in a gratitude journal.
  • A mindful meditation practice, focusing on nature, your higher power, and your inner wellbeing, helps to ground you with a sense of inner peace. 

Start reaping the benefits of your gratitude practice by adjusting your focus to notice all that surrounds you to make your life unique and special. 

How to Get The Wonder And Magic You Once Had As A Child Back In Your Life?

And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it” -Roald Dahl

Is it possible to live life at the moment and appreciate all the magical moments around you? It’s a fact, life is tough sometimes. In those tough times, it can be easy to give up and forget about the wonder or magic we once felt. Adulting is often consumed by finding solutions to life’s problems, surviving from one upset, hurdle or set back to the next. Is it any wonder that through all of that, we lose the magic and wonder we once felt?

While there isn’t a one size fits all solution to finding the magic and wonder in life, there are a few ways you can reacquaint yourself to those feelings.

  • Start believing that magic does exist. There was never any doubt when you were a child, magic and miracles just happened. Age doesn’t preclude you from that magic.
  • Be present. Be so present with life and its many amazing experiences, that there is a way you can miss the magic that happens around you.
  • Immerse yourself in the love in your life. Love itself is magical. Love may be that of romance, friendship, or family and it is what connects us. Give, share, and speak the magic of love.
  • Stand in your power and honor your truth. Work at being the best you, living your best most wonderful life.
  • Be on the lookout for everyday miracles. Both big and small miracles happen all around you every day. Most often these magical moments are missed or overlooked. Practice looking for and recognizing the magic that surrounds you.
  • Live a grateful and joyful life. A vibration of gratitude attracts magical moments.
  • Be curious about life. Shake things up by becoming curious about everything around you. Focus on personal growth, develop a new hobby, travel and be purposeful in learning about the new people you encounter in your life. See things as if you were seeing them for the first time and enjoy the wonder in discovery.
  • Be playful, let loose and have fun. Life is meant to be an adventure. Give yourself permission to have and create fun every day.
  • Surround yourself with people who also look for joy and magic in the ordinary day to day life. When you connect with like-minded people, you experience energy and vibration that is contagious.
  • Encourage yourself to dream big. It’s easy to stay small and live a safe life but that’s not where the magic happens. Have the courage to live the life that your soul craves and watch the magic happen.
  • Embrace the unknown and look for opportunities. Change is often what people fear the most because change is inherently unknown. Lean into it with a sense of wonder and magic. The world is full of amazing moments, and when you expect the best, that’s exactly what you receive.

Four Ways To Develop Your Social Capital And Realize The Power Of Connections

What is social capital and what makes a connection powerful?  Social Capital is the power of human connection, within a community, a family, at school, and at work.  Your social capital and connections are your most valuable asset.

Four ways to grow your social capital

  • Anticipate the need for social capital early in your life and build from there
  • Make social capital an explicit part of the decision process when choosing a path- make life decisions with your social connection opportunities at the forefront of your mind
  • Social capital must be an integral part of the connection and growing
  • Be your own startup of social capital

A big differentiator of people is how they promote their social connections. An individual’s best assets are how they nurture and manage their relationships. Successful leaders expand their social capital with their well developed and managed connections.

The power of connection comes with the capacity to be present and connected in a variety of relationships.  The depth of a connection depends on how relationships are utilized, maintained, and developed.

The power in connection is about building relationships.  In every part of one’s life lies the opportunity to develop and nurture social capital and human connection.  You may be a recent college graduate that has connections among family members, fellow graduates, professors, and classmates. The passion to connect makes an impact that inspires others to connect. Each direct relationship, potentially connects you to others, resulting in exponentially human connection growth. 

Networking is an exercise that develops relationships and connections through mentorship, engagement, and inspiration. A powerful connection brings energy to a person or a group, that inevitably leads to an impact that cannot be made alone.  Networking, developing relationships and social capital are about leading and inspiring people through building relationships.

“We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known.”- Brene Brown

Choose to live your life, from this day forward, with powerful connections.  Determine your life path to cultivate powerful connections, fulfill your visions, and uplifts your community.

How do you Live Life all in . . . have the Courage to be Vulnerable!

Brene Brown, Ph.D., LMSW is a research professor at the University of Houston where she holds the Huffington Foundation – Brene Brown Endowed Chair at the Graduate College of Social Work and is the author of the #1 New York bestselling book, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love Parent, and Lead. 

Brown spent years studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame. When she was asked to speak at the first TEDx in Houston. She decided to live big and for the first time, she spoke on The Power of Vulnerability.  Brown’s 2010 TEDx talk is one of the ten most viewed TED talks in the world. She describes vulnerability as uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure. It is a place where shame comes into play, where you show up and allow yourself to be seen.  It’s about owning your vulnerability and a place of true courage.

Brene Brown refers often to a speech by Theodore Roosevelt, “Citizenship in a Republic” or “The Man in the Arena”.  She talks about how one passage made an impact on her vision of vulnerability, “It’s not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better.  The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, who at best knows the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”  Vulnerability is not knowing the victory or defeat, it is understanding the necessity of both; it’s engaging, it is being all in”.

She suggests that to be vulnerable, you must first identify what is keeping you out of the “arena”.  Acknowledging what the fear is that makes you resist the arena.  Brown, further recommends questioning the method you currently use for protecting yourself from the vulnerability?  Is it perfectionism, Intellectualizing, cynicism, numbing, or control?  Brene says, “it is not easy to walk into the arena, but it is where we come alive.”

In Brown’s Netflix documentary, “The Call to Courage” she talks about the practice of being vulnerable and managing the discomfort.  She says, “Hard things are born from vulnerability, whether it be heartbreak or grief of disappointment.  But love, joy, belonging, intimacy, trust, creating innovation is also born. So, when we armor up to block the hard stuff, that armor keeps all the experiences that bring meaning to our lives away as well.”

To feel alive and live your life in a big way, you must allow yourself to be vulnerable, to take risks, to open yourself up to both failure and accomplishment.

“Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen. Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage.  Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.”-Brene Brown

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