NOTE: This post has been updated with new information and moved to here:
Photo by: Ranna Nicolau
Trevor likes to share general blogs that help people in their everyday lives. He is a kind and gentle person who just wants to help others. He has a lot of great information to share, and he hopes that his blog posts will make a difference in someone's life.
NOTE: This post has been updated with new information and moved to here:
Photo by: Ranna Nicolau
About a year ago on his 30th birthday, after spending his entire adult life loosely dating different women, he suddenly decided he was ready to settle down. He wanted to find a real mate… a lover… a life partner – someone who could show him what it meant to be in a deep, monogamous, trusting relationship.
So he searched far and wide. There were so many women to choose from, all with great qualities, but none with everything he was looking for. And then, finally, just when he thought that he would never find her, he found her. And she was perfect. She had everything he ever wanted in a woman. And he rejoiced, for he knew how rare a find she was. “I’ve done my research,” he told her. “You are the one for me.”
But as the days and weeks turned into months and years, he started to realize that she was far from perfect. She had issues with trust and self-confidence, she liked to be silly when he wanted to be serious, and she was much messier than he was. So he started to have doubts – doubts about her, doubts about himself, doubts about everything.
And to validate these doubts, he subconsciously tested her. He constantly looked around the apartment for things that weren’t clean just to prove that she was messy. He decided to go out alone to parties with his single guy friends just to prove that she had trust issues. He set her up and waited for her to do something silly just to prove that she couldn’t be serious. It went on like this for awhile.
As the tests continued – and as she, clearly shaken and confused, failed more and more often – he became more and more convinced that she was not a perfect fit for him after all. Because he had dated women in the past who were more mature, more confident, and more willing to have serious conversations.
Inevitably, he found himself at a crossroads. Should he continue to be in a relationship with a woman who he once thought was perfect, but now realizes is lacking the qualities that he already found in the other women that came before her? Or should he return to the lifestyle he had come from, drifting from one empty relationship to the next?
When he showed up at my door this evening looking for answers, this is what I told him:
One of the greatest lessons we get to learn in life is that we are often attracted to a bright light in another person. Initially, this light is all we see. It’s so bright and beautiful. But after awhile, as our eyes adjust, we notice that this light is accompanied by a shadow – and usually a fairly large one.
When we see this shadow, we have two choices: We can either shine our own light on the shadow or we can run from it and continue searching for a shadowless light.
If we decide to run from the shadow, we must also run from the light that created it. And we soon find out that our light is the only light illuminating the space around us. Then, at some point, as we look closer at our own light, we notice something out of the ordinary. Our light is casting a shadow too. And our shadow is a bigger and darker than some of the other shadows we’ve seen.
If, on the other hand, instead of running from the shadow, we decide to walk towards it, something amazing happens. We inadvertently cast our own light on the shadow, and likewise, the light that created this shadow casts its light on ours. Suddenly, both shadows begin to disappear. Not completely, of course, but every part of the two shadows that are touched by the other person’s light illuminate and disappear.
And as a result, we each find more of that bright beautiful light in the other person – which is precisely what we have been searching for all along.
Photo by: Antony Chammond
“Last night I lost the world, and gained the universe.”
— C. JoyBell C.
Even after you let go, the past is still part of who you are. Every one of us lives in the present and makes choices based on some part of the past. This fact is simply unavoidable. You are only able to read these words right now because of your past. Your brain relates past experiences (or learned knowledge) to these words.
All forms of learning rely on your ability to continually reference the past. If you think about it, many wise decisions you have made leading to this very moment were created through recalling what did or did not work in the past. You are only able to do what you can now because of what you learned. For instance, you only recognize a friend when she walks into the room because you reference a past connection with her. In this way, you are using the past effectively.
But when you start behaving ineffectively because you think, “this is the way it has always been,” problems arise. Old traditions may be useful, or they may stifle your progress and growth. It all depends on how relevant they are to the present. It’s your job to make this determination.
We talk about letting go of the past and moving on, but what do we really need to leave behind? Since the past helps us at least as much as it hurts us, how do we know which pieces to discard?
Here are some things I have learned that have helped me:
When an experience in your life has emotional significance, it gets tagged in your brain as being important. When the emotional experience is tragic, it triggers your brain’s fear mechanism, which tells your brain to remain on the lookout for any future conditions that vaguely remind you of this tragic experience (it does this to protect you from future harm). Your brain then tries to match new experiences with the original one. But depending on how emotionally attached you are to the original experience, it can lead to ‘false pattern matches’ which will inevitably lead you astray.
Again, these false pattern matches occur whenever you respond negatively and over-emotionally to a particular experience. And it all happens subconsciously too. Logically, you know that all muscular men are completely different human beings, but emotionally you respond as if they are one.
If you feel that you are stuck because you can’t move beyond a past experience, then your brain is relating to it as if it’s still happening right now, which means it’s matching patterns improperly in the present. Here’s a two-step solution that might help:
Zookeepers typically strap a thin metal chain to a grown elephant’s leg, and then attach the other end to a small wooden peg that’s hammered into the ground. The 10-foot tall, 10,000-pound elephant could easily snap the chain and uproot the wooden peg, and escape to freedom with minimal effort. But it doesn’t. In fact the elephant never even tries. The world’s most powerful land animal, which can uproot a tree as easily as you could break a toothpick, remains defeated by a small wooden peg and a flimsy chain.
Because when the elephant was a baby, its trainers used the exact same methods to domesticate it. A thin chain was strapped around its leg and the other end of the chain was tied to a wooden peg in the ground. At the time, the chain and peg were strong enough to restrain the baby elephant. When it tried to break away, the metal chain would pull it back. Sometimes, tempted by the world it could see in the distance, the elephant would pull harder. But the chain would not budge, and soon the baby elephant realized trying to escape was not possible. So it stopped trying.
And now that the elephant is all grown up, it sees the chain and the peg and it remembers what it learned as a baby – the chain and peg are impossible to escape. Of course, this is no longer true, but it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter that the 200-pound baby is now a 10,000 pound powerhouse. The elephant’s self-limiting beliefs prevail.
If you think about it, we are all like elephants. We all have incredible power inside us. And of course, we have our own chains and pegs – the self-limiting beliefs that hold us back. Sometimes it’s a childhood experience or an early failure. Sometimes it’s something we were told when we were younger. We need to learn from the past, but be ready to update what we learned based on how our circumstances have changed (as they constantly do).
Here are two things to consider:
Nothing starts easy; everything begins at some level of difficulty. Even waking up in the morning sometimes requires notable effort. But one beautiful thing about life is the fact that the most difficult challenges are often the most rewarding and satisfying in the long run.
The really tough job interviews that lead to huge career advancements. The first few awkward words exchanged on first dates that lead to successful relationships. The excruciating training that leads hopeful Olympians to gold medal placements. None of these successful outcomes started from a place of comfort and ease.
Far too many people are fearful of the unknown, comfy with putting in the least amount of effort, and not willing to put up with short-term pain for long-term gain. Don’t be one of them – you know better than that. You know that growth and progress require discomfort. Every time you stretch your emotional, intellectual, and physical muscle groups, discomfort arises just before progress is made.
In all walks of life, by committing to continuous, small uncomfortable steps forward, you are able to sidestep the biggest barrier to positive change: Fear.
Also, remember that growth begins at the end of your comfort zone. Not only is it important to accept the discomfort of taking steps forward, it is also necessary to let go of comfortable routines and situations from the past. Holding on to the way things were, prevents you from growing into who you are now, and who you are capable of being. (Angel and I discuss in more detail in the “Goals and Success” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
Reminiscing about great past times is always a pleasure, so long as reviewing these past times is not used as a way of emphasizing how terrible the present is by contrast. If you start living in the past to such a great extent that the opportunities in the present are ignored, you have a problem. For instance, if you don’t even give a potential new partner a chance simply because you “know” they could never live up to your perfect lover from the past… this is a huge warning sign.
Feeling that the past was a golden age of seamless perfection – a time of infinite happiness – is not an accurate assessment of reality. Comparing this idealized retrospection with the present can lead you to believe the present can never be a happy place, thus preventing you from enjoying the moment and looking forward to the next.
Here are two practices that might be helpful:
The bottom line is that life needs to continue right up until the moment you die. If at a certain point all you do is look back, you have, in effect, stopped living. You need to resist the trap of believing the past was so perfect that the present cannot be appreciated at all. (Read Authentic Happiness.)
You need to understand that none of us are playing with marked cards; sometimes we win and sometimes we lose. Life always finds its balance. Don’t expect to get back everything you give. Don’t expect recognition for every effort you make. And don’t expect your genius to be instantly recognized or your love to be understood by everyone you encounter.
There are things you don’t want to happen, but have to accept, things you don’t want to know, but have to learn, and people and circumstances you can’t live without but have to let go. Some things come into your life just to strengthen you, so you can move on without them.
As you live and experience things, you must recognize what belongs and what doesn’t, what works and what doesn’t, and then let things go when you know you should. Not out of pride, inability, or arrogance, but simply because not everything is supposed to fit into your life. So close the door on the past, change the tune, clean your inner space, and get rid of the dust. Stop being who you once were so you can become who you are today.
It’s time to open the next chapter of your life.
Oftentimes letting go has nothing to do with weakness, and everything to do with strength. We let go and move on with our lives not because we want the friends, family, and the universe to realize our worth, but because we finally realize our own worth.
So stop focusing on the negatives and everything that could go wrong, and start thinking of what could go right. Better yet, think of everything that already is right. Be thankful for nights that turned into mornings, friends that turned into family, and past dreams and goals that turned into realities. And use this mindset of positivity to fuel an even brighter today and tomorrow.
What would you add to the list? What have you had to let go of, and what did it teach you? Please share your insights with the community by leaving a comment below.
Photo by: Bourne Bedweey
What you believe either weakens you or makes you stronger.
The foundation of success is not a set of achievements or a combination of external factors; it is a mindset. Success is an attitude that comes from a framework of powerful beliefs and empowering thoughts. Because what you think and believe about your life largely determines how you feel (your attitude), what actions you take (your behavior), and what you achieve (the end result.)
I’m fortunate enough to know a number of remarkably successful people. Regardless of their profession or life passions, I’ve noticed they all share nine common beliefs.
And they act on these beliefs every day:
The problems and challenges you face are not there to stop you. Their purpose is to bring your commitment to the surface where it can come wholly and forcefully to life.
The challenges that are the most difficult are often the ones that create the greatest positive difference. Situations with the most formidable problems are where you unearth your greatest opportunities.
The only question is: Are you willing to do what it takes? Read Think and Grow Rich.
Do something you are proud of. Instead of struggling to get one up on everyone else, raise your awareness to the point where the competition becomes insignificant. Get in the habit of creating real value, and you won’t feel the need to take anything away from others.
To be truly effective be sincere and helpful. Find satisfaction and fulfillment in making a difference and pulling all of life forward with you.
There’s a difference between being prepared and being scared.
There’s much you can gain by planning and preparing, by anticipating what is most likely to happen and being ready for it. Yet there is no reason to be paralyzed by over-thinking and endless worry, because you have what it takes to handle even the most unexpected setbacks.
And no matter how well you plan, not everything can be anticipated anyway, and that’s actually a good thing. Sometimes when a roadblock forces you in a different direction, you cross paths with the opportunity of a lifetime.
Do not to be afraid of your fears. Your fears are not here to scare you; they’re here to let you know that something you’re thinking about and considering is worth doing.
If you always feel afraid, it means that there are lots of things worth doing – lots of worthy options called opportunities. It’s time to pick one and take a chance.
Just because someone tells you that you can’t do something doesn’t mean you have to let their opinion become your reality. If you spend too much time reacting and responding to everyone else, you will lose YOUR direction in life. These other people’s opinions, problems and wants will end up setting the course for your life.
So take a stand right now and say this to yourself out loud: “It is OK for me to think about and identify what I want for myself.” If you live by this statement, remarkable things will take place in your life.
Maybe you can afford to procrastinate. Maybe for you there’s a tomorrow. Maybe for you there’s a thousand tomorrows, or ten thousand, or more. Maybe you have so much time ahead of you that you can afford to spend it frivolously and foolishly without losing sleep. There’s a whole lifetime worth of minutes you can waste. Maybe…
But maybe not. For some of us – perhaps for you or someone you love – there’s only today. And the truth is, you never really know. Read Eat That Frog!
Your real religion is how you spend the majority of your time – what you do and think about on and daily basis long after the sermon has ended. Do something that makes you proud. Start walking the talk. Make your strategic plan: DOING THINGS THAT MATTER!
You don’t need a new year to make a change; all you need is today. Make this the moment you start changing your life.
Understanding the difference between healthy striving and striving for perfection is critical to laying down unnecessary weight and picking up your life. Perfectionism hampers happiness and success. It’s the path to depression, anxiety, addiction and life paralysis.
And this is true for your relationships as well…
Judge less, love more. Flaws are features. You don’t know a single perfect person, they don’t exist. Who you do know are a bunch of flawed people who are still worth appreciating and loving. If you try to avoid people for their little idiosyncrasies and shortcomings, this world will be a lonely place for you. Read Personal Development for Smart People.
It’s easy to blame someone else for your troubles, but it doesn’t resolve anything. Sure, at first it might seem reasonable to expect your problems to be solved by those who helped create them, but stop and think about it. Do you want to give the people who created past problems for you any additional control over your future?
To move your life forward you must be willing to take full responsibility for it. That means moving past what’s easy and accepting that you’re going to have to do things for yourself. Perhaps life has given you a burden you don’t deserve. Instead of seeing this as an excuse to give up, see it as an opportunity to take charge and give it all you’ve got.
You are stronger and more capable than you think.
Photo by: Vinoth Chandar
Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers.
…because asking the right questions is the answer.
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