Circumstances Keeping You Stuck?

Often we think the circumstances in our lives are preventing us from moving forward.  Not enough time. Not enough money. Too old. Too young. Don’t have the skills or education.  Any of those sound familiar?  What beliefs are keeping you stuck?

The words we use when we think about ourselves are very powerful. Catch yourself. Question. Be curious. Is what you are saying the TRUTH or just a belief that you’ve decided to adopt?

There was a young guy who hears about this great fishing stream. He goes to the fishing stream and he throws in his line and then he waits. Meanwhile, he happens to notice that a little ways down the bank is an elderly fisherman. He’s throwing in his line and this guy is just pulling in one fish after another. Once he catches each fish, he lays it down on the edge of the riverbank and measures it against a broken-off ruler. If the fish is bigger than the broken-off ruler, he unhooks it and tosses it back in the stream. If instead the fish is smaller than the broken-off ruler, he unhooks it and puts it in his bucket. So the young guy is thinking, why is he doing that? Why is he unhooking the big fish and throwing them back and only keeping the small ones. 

The young man finally just can’t stand it, so he goes down to the old man and asks him, “Excuse me, but why are you throwing the big fish back and keeping the little ones?  Do they get bony if they get too big, or is there a regulation about taking big fish out of the stream?”  The old guy looks at him and says, “Sonny, look at this. I measure every fish by this broken off ruler here. You see, that broken-off ruler is broken off at exactly the size of the frying pan I use.”

We laugh at the old man limiting the size of the fish he keeps, because he has a small frying pan. Couldn’t he buy a larger pan?  Of course, he could. Is that any different from being tossed a big idea and throwing it back, because of our self-imposed limits? We think, “I don’t have the money”, “I don’t have the education”, I don’t have the time”, etc.  We believe our current conditions don’t support us in making use of that big idea. 

Have you ever thrown back a big idea because of your current circumstances?  Is it possible that you may just be afraid?  And, if so, how can you silence that voice of fear?

The first step is to DECIDE for that big idea. The second step is to do something that moves you in the direction of that dream, in spite of the fear. The third step is to begin living the life you are imagining. 

I know I’m making it sound easy. So, full disclosure …. it is NOT easy. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it! The ones that really want to succeed realize that they need help to navigate the gap between the life they have been living and the life they WANT to be living. 

Are you one of those people who lives 90 years, or one of those people that lives one year 90 times? 

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Make time for yourself!

Fun isn’t something that is given or done to you, it is something that you allow yourself to experience. – Madisyn Taylor

Having a grandson has reminded me of how much fun it is to be a kid. At almost 3 years old, he is curious about everything and loves it when we play imaginary games. Usually, he is the Fire Chief (he has a jacket and helmet) and we are trying to rescue people. He also loves to play hide-and-seek and climb and run and… and… and…

I’m sitting in front of my computer right now and considering taking my own advice. I want to allow myself to experience fun! For some reason I’m not giving myself permission, though.  I have all these tasks to get done before I can even consider relaxing for a while. And having fun? Sadly, I’ve forgotten how. Have you?

Here are a few tips to help you LEARN to have fun again:

  1. Make a list of everything you can think of that you thought was fun at some point in your life.

Now, try not to censor this list AT ALL. Write everything down, especially if it seems silly. The circle 2 things that seem the most fun to you and set aside time this week to do them. Here are some things on my list:

  • Play hopscotch
  • Swing on a swing set
  • Take off my shoes and walk across the grass barefoot
  • Sing and play my guitar
  • Dance
  • Take photographs of nature
  • Read an escape novel
  • Hike in the woods

What’s on your list?  Share below in the comments section!

2. Give yourself permission

No matter what you have to do this day or this week, give yourself permission to intersperse it with some fun. If you need a justification, just rationalize this fun time as rejuvenation time. And if you are still unwilling to give yourself permission, then you may have to get bossy about it. Talk to a friend or relative who knows you well and ask them to keep you accountable.

3. Make a plan

Make a plan to include at least 2 times this week to a fun activity. You get to choose, but you don’t get to skip it!

4.  Journal about your experiences

Write about how it felt to give yourself some time to have fun. Is there anything you would do differently? Did you notice a change in your attitude either during or after your experience? Did you have trouble sticking to your plan?  What did that feel like?

If you were balking at taking the time to have fun, imagine yourself calling up that friend or relative who is keeping your accountable and then imagine what they would say to you.

Fun is whatever you want it to be: recreation, relaxation, adventure. Simply put, fun is doing something for no other reason except it brings you joy.   – Hilary Barnett       https://nosidebar.com/author/hilary-barnett/

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Dealing with emotional overwhelm

A couple of days ago I wrote a blog about depression, which seems to be a prevailing mood right now for many people. The other emotion that causes stress for many people right now is overwhelm.

“Stop the World I Want to Get Off!” is the title of a musical from the 1960’s and the hit song associated with it. I love the message, which to me says, “I’m overwhelmed. Please stop the world so I can get reoriented and catch up!”  Of course, stopping the world is not an option. In fact, it seems that the world is spinning faster and faster every day.

“Overwhelm” is increasingly common as demands on human attention increase exponentially. The human brain just wasn’t designed to handle the environment we inhabit. For the vast majority of world history, human life—both culture and biology—was shaped by scarcity. Food, clothing, shelter, tools and pretty much everything else had to be farmed or fabricated, at a very high cost in time and energy. Knowledge was power, and it was hard to come by; for centuries, books had to be copied by hand and were rare and precious. Even people were scarce: Friends and relatives died young (as late as 1900, life expectancy in the United States was approximately 49 years). This kind of scarcity still rules the world’s poorest regions. But in the developed world, hundreds of millions of us now face the bizarre problem of surfeit. Yet our brains, instincts and socialized behavior are still geared to an environment of lack. The result? Overwhelm—on an unprecedented scale. –Martha Beck

Understanding the cause of your overwhelm, can help you overcome it, but sometimes the cause eludes you. Often that’s because the feeling is a result of multiple factors — not just one or two. So, what can we do to help ourselves?

Martha Beck, author of The Four-Day Win, advises that we take the following steps:

STEP ONE: Unclog your overwhelmed brain.
To begin, free your attention bottleneck by closing your eyes and taking deep, slow breaths. Concentrate only on the feeling, sound, taste, and smell of the air going into and out of your lungs.

STEP TWO: Choose a search image.
Pick an arbitrary category of items as your search image—for example, “things that are blue.” Repeat the word blue as you open your eyes. Notice that blue things appear, and that other items become blurred. This is normal.

STEP THREE: Switch images.
Close your eyes again, breathing in and out until you feel relaxed, and choose a new category, such as “round things” (or tall women, or green cars, or whatever).

STEP FOUR: Relax to focus.
You may find that you can’t visualize your selected search images, that you’re distracted by noises, colors, activity. This happens because you’re not used to setting your own attention focus. Instead of concentrating harder, think softer. Relax your senses; mentally repeat your search phrase (“blue,” “round things,” “tall women,” “green car”). Gradually, you’ll find that your eyes locate the image on their own.

STEP FIVE: Bring focus to a familiar activity.
Once you can target your attention while holding still, practice the same exercise during an ordinary activity like driving or jogging. As you cruise along, repeat the search-image phrase, “anything that moves.” This will make you more alert to things that will keep you safe.

STEP SIX: Tackle the hard stuff.

Finally, take your attention-directing skills into a situation that usually overwhelms you. For Paula, it’s her cluttered house; for Sonya, her schedule. Instead of diving in, they need to set their attention focus prior to entering the danger zone. Think of this as a mission statement—a carefully defined surgical strike, rather than a vague plan to do better. For Paula, a useful goal might be “I’ll go into the home office, locate three books I haven’t touched for years, and donate them to the library.” Sonya might attack her planner with the mission “I’ll cancel one commitment that isn’t totally necessary.”

Give this a try if you are suffering from emotional overwhelm, and let us know in the comments below how this “prescription” worked for you.

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Dealing With Depression

FEELING DEPRESSED?

What can you do about it?

Does it feel like a black cloud is always overhead, even when it’s sunny outside? Are you feeling unmotivated even when a good opportunity comes along? Do you feel hopeless — like nothing is going to get better?

Imagine now that you discover how to change that for yourself. Well, you don’t have to just imagine. Take some advice from someone who has suffered with life-long depression. I think I know how you feel.

Circumstances in your life can certainly get you down, but that’s not what I’m talking about. This kind of depression is chronic. Short-term fixes can give you some short-term relief, but it always comes back, often triggered by something that isn’t going the way you want it to. While it’s easy for some people to bounce back from disappointment, for some of us the journey is not that easy. That black cloud just dampens our spirit continuously.

There are many explanations for WHY people get depressed. Those explanations can be helpful from a rational perspective, but depression isn’t rational, is it?

Here are some steps you can take that may help to ease the depression and allow you to see some light filtering through the clouds:

1. Write it out 

Journaling about your feelings can sometimes help put them in perspective. Begin by just getting the feelings down on paper. Don’t edit and don’t censor!

2. Find the feelings in your body

All feelings find a place to hang out in your body. Think about a current situation that is depressing you. Now close your eyes and notice where that feeling is strongest in your body. It might be in your throat. It might be in your chest or your stomach. Maybe it is in your shoulders or your neck. It could be anywhere.

3.  Accept the feelings with love

Putting your focus on the feeling wherever it is located in your body, send it love. Resisting our feelings and blaming ourselves for them only make them worse, so send love to that area. Perhaps visualize surrounding that area in a warm, golden light.

4. Stay with the feelings

It can be tempting to try to escape from the feelings. That’s how we normally try to handle unpleasant feelings. We try to ignore them and when that doesn’t work, we suppress them. If your mind tries to wander away from the location in your body or the location of the feelings changes, gently bring your focus to the location of the feelings again and continue to send them light and love.

5. Let them run their course

Stay with the feelings as long as you can, letting them live and breathe and even grow. Let them move around if they need to. Just keep your attention on the most intense area and continue to send it more light and love.

6.  Let them go 

Keep your focus on the feelings in your body. When the feelings become less intense, just notice that and stay with them. Give them some additional time to dissipate. Eventually, you will be left with a neutral feeling. That means you have been able to acknowledge, accept and now release them.

7. Read what you wrote in your journal

Notice the intensity of your feelings around what you have written in your journal. You will likely notice that the feelings are less intense. Ask yourself if what you have written is actually TRUE for you at this time. If it’s not, try writing the TRUTH in the margin next to the statements or at the bottom of the page and notice how that makes you feel.

Sometimes you need to repeat this process a few times over days or even weeks. If you still find yourself depressed after a reasonable amount of time, you may want to contact a professional who can look at other causes for the depression (i.e. chemical imbalance, hormonal imbalance, fatigue, allergies, etc.).

I hope this has been helpful. The most important thing is that everyone’s experience is different, so try not to judge yourself!

By the way, this method can work for all negative feelings, not just depression.

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Do you have a plan?

Does this resemble the twists and turns of your life? It looks chaotic, doesn’t it?

My life definitely looked like that up until about 10 years ago (2007), when my awareness expanded and I realized something was seriously wrong. Whose life was I living, anyway” Truthfully, I hadn’t thought anything about life planning yet.  I just knew that I hadn’t planned my life very much up to that point. The sad thing is that I was 58 years old in 2007. Yikes!  Not much time left! Why didn’t I notice sooner?

Janice Holly Booth explains it this way:

“When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? Chances are you thought there was one right choice, one perfect answer. That mindset may explain why many of us are stuck in lives we don’t like, or jobs we downright hate. Truth is, there is no single right path. In fact, we all have multiple lives in us. Being a smart life planner means figuring out what they are.”

Dave Evans says that mid-life is a perfect time  (!) to redesign our lives, because we have lived long enough to know better who we really are and how the world really is. It’s NOT too late. It’s never too late. Just don’t waste any more time wallowing in a life that doesn’t include the authentic YOU — who you really are.

Imagine yourself as an interior designer! You look around at the furniture and wall decor that you’ve been looking at for years and realize that you need to seriously update it. Marshall Goldsmith says that we should “see our lives as a problem to be solved” from a designer’s perspective. You need to first identify those aspects of your life that no longer serve you.

But don’t get confused between something that is a problem and something that is a circumstance. If you can’t change it, then it’s a circumstance. Take a look at these four domains in your life:

  1. Health & Wellness
  2. Relationships
  3. Your work in the world
  4. Your time and money freedom

For each area, ask yourself how you are doing. You might form an image of each one being a separate room in your house. Together they make up the house, but they also have their own separate identities.

Now, create a vision for your life. What is your purpose? Is your current life in alignment with the vision and with your core values? For example, if you are concerned about the environment and have a strong wish to leave the planet a better place for the next generations, a job working for a company that pollutes would not align with your vision and your values.

Dave Evans and his partner, Bill Burnett, authored a book titled, Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life. In it they encourage people to develop five mindsets to redesign their lives. They are:

  • Be curious
  • Try stuff
  • Reframe problems
  • Remember that life design is a process
  • Ask for help

Once you’ve designed your life, you’re not done. In fact, you are never done! Life design is a never-ending process. Ayse Birself, author of Design the Life You Love, says this:

“Today things are changing so fast. The traditional road maps to a good life can’t keep up with the change. This is an incredible challenge. But a challenge is also an opportunity. Why not design our own roadmap, design our own life? A life that is original to us, built on our own values and that look and feels like us. That is our opportunity.”

Please leave your comment below!

Author’s Note: Some of the information in this article is from Life Reimagined LLC

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Can you create your own destiny?

“Your destiny may be waiting for you, but whether or not you meet your destiny is up to you.”     – Madisyn Taylor

Some religions preach that our lives are pre-ordained. Followers accept that their lives are given over to a force greater than themselves — one that has determined their path and their destination. If that is true, we are just actors on a stage, with no control over what happens.

Although the words destiny and fate are often used interchangeably, they aren’t really the same. Fate indicates that a person is passive. They have settled for whatever comes along. Destiny is more active. We can pursue our destiny. It is in our hands, if we dare to take risks. If not, we meet our fate.

Naturally, Charlie, a book written by S.L. Scott, is about two people who go from living the life they were given to creating the life they were dreaming of. They felt that “it had to be better than what they were currently living”.

“They both knew deep down that they deserved a better life and took action to create that life”.

 

Are you living your “fate” or creating your “destiny”? It’s that first step that seems to be the hardest. We’re afraid. Some people need to hit the lowest rung on the ladder before they wake up and begin creating their own destiny.

 

If we can dream it, we can make it our reality, but we have to set that plan in motion by taking the first step.   ~S.L. Scott

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The Conscious Business Leader Approach

In the last blog, I wrote about what it means to be authentic in both life and in business. In this article, I will expand on the idea, talking about the conscious business leader.

“Living consciously is a state of being mentally active rather than passive. It is the ability to look at the world through fresh eyes. It is intelligence taking joy in its own function. Living consciously is seeking to be aware of everything that bears on our interests, actions, values, purposes and goals. It is the willingness to confront facts, pleasant or unpleasant. It is the desire to discover our mistakes and correct them… It is the quest to keep expanding our awareness and understanding, both of the world external to self and of the world within.” 

~ Nathaniel Branden
Many of us go through part of every day unconsciously. Ever been in the car driving somewhere, you arrive at your destination and you can’t remember the actual trip to get there? We call that being on “auto-pilot”. We say that experience is like “being asleep at the wheel”.

Sometimes when that happens, we get a little scared. What if something went wrong and we didn’t react in time, because our mind was somewhere else?

In a broader sense, unconsciousness can relate to choices we make. Being on “auto-pilot” with our choices means that we are motivated by old patterns. We are stuck in a rut, so to speak.

The kind of consciousness that Nathaniel Branden describes above is more comprehensive. It’s a deeper level of consciousness that often includes several layers.

  1. perceive our world (inside and out)
  2. understand the circumstances
  3. decide how to respond

Each conscious decision we make is profoundly affected by our values. If something goes against our principles, we reject it.

In the business world, consciousness also affects the decisions we make and the experiences we have. If we value the well-being of the company’s stakeholders, we use both scientific and moral reasoning in order to come to a good decision. People are viewed with caring and respect. That includes both our colleagues and our customers. We try to understand them and support them however we can. We foster an atmosphere of peace and happiness for all individuals.

A less conscious leadership style is often more authoritarian. Employees are considered “human resources” – not individuals. Decisions are made based on “data”, without consideration for the human element. And those decisions are often made quickly rather than thoughtfully.

The world is changing. More and more companies recognize that their leaders need to have both a high level of technical expertise, combined with a high level of consciousness. If the leaders are not paying attention – if they are “asleep at the wheel” – they cannot achieve greatness. They might not even survive.

Watch this short video, “Discover the Four Questions of Conscious Leadership”, provided by The Conscious Leadership Group.

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Identity is the foundation for authentic living

Identity is constructed from core values. If someone is confused about what their core values are, they are also confused about their identity and will find it impossible to live authentically. 

In business, identity is similar to what we know of as “branding”. Like identity, branding will only attract an audience if that audience shares the company’s core values. Unfortunately, branding has also been associated with “spin” in the corporate world, which is manipulative. It is expressed as a superficial superiority, but not a true identity.

If an individual or a company is inauthentic, it will not attract those that share it’s core values. If that happens, the connection is flimsy at best.

Identity must be consistent in order to come off as authentic. 

According to Sherrie Campbell, psychologist and author of Loving Yourself, The Mastery of Being Your Own Person, discusses authenticity in an article in Entrepreneur magazine (September 2016). She identifies 10 qualities of authentic people. They are:

  1. Self-reflective – a person who knows who they are, lives in harmony with themselves and doesn’t try to hide anything
  2. Healthy ego – authenticity has to come from your heart, not your head; success is not measured by status or money; acceptance and consideration for the ideas and feelings of others
  3. Focus on possibilities – focus is always on the long term; you are relationship oriented
  4. Good character – you stay in a place of integrity in all things; you have a sense of inner wholeness and don’t take yourself too seriously
  5. Visionary – you think with vision, always adding value to the relationships you have with others; self-development is paramount
  6. Listeners – your ego is not easily threatened; you value learning and thirst for the truth
  7. Transparent – open communication combining honesty with empathy; you are self-confident, but not conceited
  8. Open and consistent – non-judgmental and respectful towards yourself and others, while also sticking to your principles and not easily swayed by superficialities
  9. Team oriented – you give credit where it is due, are flexible and share your success and achievements with others
  10. Draw upon experience – you live in the present moment, drawing upon every experience to live in a thorough and thoughtful way

Do you aspire to be authentic? How do you rate yourself on authenticity?  On a scale of 1 – 10 (with ten being the highest level), where do you rank with regard to these qualities.

Who do you know in your life who is authentic? What qualities do they have?

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Finding Happiness

“When you decide to make your happiness the chief organizing principal of your life, everything else will fall into place and you’ll never make another mistake.”   –  Brian Tracy

Those words from Brian Tracy make it seem so easy to have a fulfilling life. All you need to do (!) is to make happiness your primary focus.

Happiness is one of those abstract concepts that have had philosophers, authors and even politicians stumped for many hundreds of years. Everyone seems able to agree that they want happiness. But no one seems to quite agree on exactly what that means or exactly how to achieve it.

The Dalai Lama tells us that “Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.”

https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/d/dalai_lama.html

Let’s make that requirement #1:  Happiness requires action on the receiver’s part

Denis Waitley tells us:

“Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.”
Let’s make that requirement #2:  Happiness is living every moment with love, grace and gratitude

And from Albert Schweitzer:

“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”

Let’s make that requirement #3:  Happiness must be a priority over success.

Success cannot bring happiness, but happiness can bring success.

That’s probably enough to chew on for now. This blog is Chapter 1 in our quest for happiness.  Please comment below.  What do you think about happiness? How do you think it is achieved?

Next time we’ll look at how you can “hang on” to happiness, if, in fact, that is possible!

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Mary’s Story

You will never do great things in the external world until you think great things in the internal world.”

~ Wallace Wattles

You have probably heard the term, limiting belief, but maybe you haven’t realized how very important our thoughts are. This is a real story about a woman who almost died as a result of her limiting beliefs.

Mary went to high school in Beaverton, Oregon, and enjoyed the kind of school life that most girls only dream of. She was class Vice-President, she had the lead in the school play, and she was a Homecoming Princess.  In May of her Junior Year (1966), she learned that she was pregnant.

In the 1960’s it was a disaster to get pregnant “out of wedlock”. Girls just disappeared sometimes from school with no warning and no explanation. When Mary told her parents that she was pregnant, her mother wept, believing that her daughter’s life was ruined. Mary’s parents and her boyfriend’s parents put together a hasty 10-person wedding.

Mary had a favorite teacher in school that she trusted. She told the teacher that she was pregnant and had just gotten married. A couple of days later, the Principal called Mary into his office and asked her, “Is it true what I’ve been hearing? Are you pregnant and married?” Mary admitted that it was the truth. The Principal just shook his head and replied, “I hate to do this, but you will not be able to return to this school for your Senior year. It’s a shame, given your excellent academic achievements. There is an alternative school for people like you. It’s held at night in Southeast Portland. That’s where we send the pregnant girls and the delinquent boys.”

Mary was, of course, devastated. In the Fall she began going to the alternative school. This was her new student body — pregnant girls (or new mothers) and delinquent boys.

In December 1966, Mary gave birth to a little boy. In May of 1967, she graduated from the alternative high school, and by Mid-July she was diagnosed with fatal kidney disease. The doctors said that one of the kidneys was completely gone and the other one was probably at least 50% gone. Back in 1967, there was no such thing as kidney dialysis, and organ transplants weren’t available yet either.

The prognosis was that, if she had surgery to remove the one kidney that was destroyed, she would have maybe 6 months to live. It’s difficult to imagine how she must have felt. She’s 18 years old, has a 7-month-old son and only has six months to live. The God of her upbringing was an angry God if you screwed up, and Mary had screwed up big time!

The night before surgery, Mary was alone in the hospital room until the chaplain came by and asked if she wanted prayer for her surgery the next day.  Mary was really scared, so she agreed to pray with the chaplain. As the chaplain sat down on a chair, she said to Mary, “Before we pray together, would you be willing to tell me what has been going on in your life in the last year or two?”

Mary shared her story with the chaplain and once she finished, the chaplain said, “Mary, do you know that everything is created twice?  That first it’s a thought before it can become a thing? Look around this room. The bed you are lying on, the furniture, the equipment, even your nightgown was a thought before it became a thing. Knowing that, can you possibly believe that the toxicity in your body has been caused by your toxic thoughts?”

At that time, the mind-body connection was not spoken about, so Mary responded that she could not believe that. The chaplain went on to say, “I hear that you love your little boy, but I also hear that you hate yourself for becoming pregnant and shaming everyone, including yourself. Do you believe that you could actually experience a healing if you got rid of your toxic thinking?”

Again, Mary replied “no”. The chaplain said, “Are you willing to believe in MY belief that you could be healed by simply changing your thinking?” Mary was scared so she agreed that she could believe that the chaplain believed it was possible. The chaplain said, “That’s all we need. Just one corner of your mind open to the possibility.”

During surgery the next day, the destroyed kidney was removed and the doctors reported that the other kidney didn’t look quite as bad as they predicted. Mary went home from the hospital and began recovering. After a couple of months she felt better, and after six months her kidney was completely back to normal. The doctors had no explanation.

You see, from the time she got home from the hospital, she had been thinking about her little boy, about taking him to his first day of kindergarten, of being there for his graduation from high school and college, and there for his wedding. Her toxic thoughts had been replaced by positive thoughts about a future that she wanted very badly.

Even at 18 years old, Mary became very curious about the phenomenon she had experienced in her own body, and she began looking everywhere for more information on the mind-body connection. There wasn’t much out there yet, but what she found was indeed enlightening.  Her studies led to her 45+ years as a teacher of this information and as a life coach. Eventually, she started training other coaches, which is how I came to know her.

What can we learn from Mary’s experience? We can learn that:

  1. Everything is created twice. It must first be a thought before it can be a thing.
  2. We don’t have to limit ourselves. We can be liberated to consider the unlimited possibilities for our lives.
  3. We can choose our thoughts to control what happens in our lives.
  4. Our thoughts can be very destructive if we allow that.

It is a freedom that eludes us until we hear about it and apply it to our own lives. It’s not easy to let go of our limiting beliefs, but we can do it.  And the first step is to become aware of thoughts we have that are disempowering.

If you have any questions or comments about this blog, please let me know below.  And be sure to share this with social media and friends you think would benefit from the information.

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