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Procrastination

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“Without discipline, there’s no life at all.” –Katharine Hepburn

I have deadlines in my life that I must meet. Don’t we all? There are bills to pay, appointments to make, responsibilities at work or home, kids, pets, school and all the innumerable small markers that push life forward.

When I realize that I’m procrastinating I need to be committed to not shaming myself. Procrastination does not indicate failure. How realistic would it be if we looked forward to doing unpleasant things? It’s human to avoid what we’d rather not be doing.

I find that as I free myself from the burden of perfectionism, I’m free to better accept my responsibilities. Meeting deadlines as well as we can, one at a time, has a pay off in serenity and manageability of life. When we’re crisis ridden, we’re forced to live by other individual’s demands, rather than our own choices.

So, in the face of procrastination, forgive yourself, laugh at yourself, live fully in the present and keep going. After all, tomorrow can be better than yesterday.

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Your Authentic Self

 

“To thine own self be true…”

 

Most of us associate this quote from Shakespeare’s Hamlet Act 1, scene 3, 78-82:

Polonius:
This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Farewell, my blessing season this in thee!

Laertes:
Most humbly do I take my leave, my lord.

“To thine own self be true” is Polonius’s last piece of advice to his son Laertes; Polonius has in mind something much more Elizabethan than the New Age self-knowledge that the phrase now suggests. To me, what I get from this quote is that unless we can be true to ourselves first, we cannot be true to others.

My path of personal growth has led me recently to wonder, what exactly is one’s “authentic self”? How do we get there? From this exploration, I have summarized what I have learned and am eager to share it with you.

Definitions:

Authentic: Genuine; literally self-authored or endorsed.

Self: Your physical and mental being with all its human and unique characteristics.

Authentic Self: The true you; aligned and congruent self-image, stature, values, beliefs, goals, behavior, word, and public image.

Your Authentic Self and Truth

How many of us have a hard time being true to ourselves?  Those of us that gave up so much of our Self just so that we could be in the life of another did so at the cost of losing who we are in the process. By allowing someone else to define who we are caused us to lose our ability to discover and grow inwardly.  We no longer are able to discern a truth from a lie.  For many of us, we have accepted lies for so long, that finding out what is truth takes time.

Truth is a word that brings out negative reactions to many of us. Accepting truth about ourselves is difficult, especially to those of us who have been abused.  But truth does set one free if we will allow it to; it is a crucial part of healing.  It gives us the freedom to be who we are.  We are able to come to terms with our weakness (without judgment or condemnation) and appreciate our strength.  Truth gives strength; it naturally builds healthy boundaries.

Truth is open; it is honest even at the risk of being vulnerable again.  Truth fears no reaction. Truth is light and brings forth life.  When we walk in truth, we walk in light and when we walk in light we live a healthy life.

Truth is also love.  The greatest act of love towards another is living a life that is truthful.  For those of us who find it difficult to love ourselves, we will find it will come more easily when we are truthful about who we are.  If we walk in truth, we walk in perfect love, and if we walk in perfect love, then we do not walk in fear because perfect love cast out fear.  Because we have been honest with ourselves, we are able to love ourselves with all of our imperfections, knowing that we are a work in “progress” and therefore need not have others approval.

“And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Farewell, my blessing season this in thee!”

The second part of this verse is a natural occurrence if we hold true to the first part of the verse.  So, when in doubt about our motives of not being truthful with someone….look inside, are we being less than truthful to ourselves?

Just what makes up an “authentic person”?  It is someone who:

Has great listening skills: everyone, regardless of who they are, wants to be acknowledged, appreciated and loved. When you are engaged in a conversation with someone, are you truly focusing 100% of your attention on what that person is saying? Or is your brain formulating something to say at the next available opportunity?  Are your eyes constantly roaming the room, wondering who else just walked in? An authentic person’s attention is razor-sharp, making the other person feel like the most important person in the world.

Treats others fairly: When carrying out your role, whether it be a mother, business executive, pilot, waitress, teacher or coach, to name a few, you are always dealing with other people. The biggest secret is how you treat them. Do you treat others with respect or are you condescending, especially if they screwed up?

Has integrity: Everyone wants something. But authentic people are conscious of the operative watchword: integrity. They will do the ethical thing even if it means a loss of personal benefits for themselves.

Has the ability to communicate: Business leaders who conscientiously communicate in the open, especially when there is a lot of uncertainty hovering over the future of their employees, end up earning tremendous amount of trust. Rather than hiding behind the cloak of their boardrooms, they step up to the plate and keep people informed as much as possible. Authentic people make themselves valuable because they care enough to keep others in the loop by communicating.

Has the willingness to show transparency: I’ve done a lot of public speaking in my life. Public speakers who aren’t afraid to stand up on stage and speak from the heart, showing their childlike enthusiasm and not presenting themselves as flawless packages, often win the hearts of their audiences.

Why? Because it makes them real. Authentic speakers go into a speaking engagement with the attitude of “I am grateful all these people are spending time with me and I will give them a reason to laugh, cry and otherwise enjoy themselves without worrying how I look.”

Inauthentic speakers will say, “Well, there’s a bunch of jerks out there, I’ll just get in there, get it over and fool them senselessly with my appearance of great success.” People who are willing to be transparent win the love and respect of others.

Food for thought: Authentic people make more friends in two weeks by becoming interested in other people than in 2 months by trying to get other people interested in them!

Some experts on authenticity assert that if an individual is not living authentically in their lives, then they lose meaning and can fall into chronic anxiety, boredom and despair. People might pursue “quick fixes” to avoid the responsibility of living authentically with quick fixes such as anesthetizing themselves with alcohol or drugs or living in fantasies.

Becoming your Authentic Self

To become your authentic self, begin by knowing yourself. Understand human nature, what you can change and what you cannot, your own personality traits, learned behaviors, your values, beliefs, needs, goals, and motives. Consider the choices, events and people who may have “molded” you. Begin to know what guides you throughout life. Know your true strengths. Apply your true strengths to authentic goals. Gain the confidence to be humble. Begin to integrate and align your values, beliefs and actions.

We must face the fears that block our inner truths from coming out, especially the fear of rejection. Even when we feel strong enough to communicate the truth, we don’t always have clarity about what is true for us.  But being authentic doesn’t mean being perfect.  It just means doing our best to be real.  Sometimes that means exposing our warts and imperfections, but there lays the beauty of authenticity.

Coming into your Authentic Self

Don Miguel Ruiz shares centuries of Toltec wisdom in his book The Four Agreements. To apply this wisdom, choose to create these profound agreements with yourself:

Be impeccable with your word. Carefully look at what you tell yourself, what you tell others, and when you decide to speak. Use your word consistently to express and strengthen your values. Don’t use or overlook factual errors, fallacies or distortions during communications. Express yourself authentically. Earn trust.

Do what you say.

Don’t take anything personally. It’s not all about you. Reject the fallacy of personalization.

Rely confidently on your own well-founded self-concept; it is the only evaluation of your worth that matters.

Challenge and balance your first-person point-of-view.

Don’t make assumptions. Suspend judgment. Readily acknowledge what you don’t know and have the courage to ask questions. Carefully look at the evidence. Don’t attribute intent to others. Retain a healthy skepticism as you avoid cynicism. Develop, refine, and constantly apply your own well-founded theory of knowledge.

Always do your best. Do all you can while you recognize you can’t do it all. All you can do is all you can do. You are good enough. Apply your time and effort toward your well-chosen and enduring goals.

These agreements are essential elements of authentic expression and earning trust.

References

Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment, by Martin Seligman

Why We Do What We Do: Understanding Self-Motivation, by Edward L. Deci, Richard Flaste

I Am a Strange Loop, by Douglas Hofstadter

Authentic Happiness Website, by Martin Seligman, Director of the University of Pennsylvania Positive Psychology Center.http://www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu/Default.aspx

Self Matters, by Phillip C. McGraw

Six Pillars of Self-Esteem, by Nathaniel Branden

The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz

Peaceful Warrior — Dan Millman learns to enjoy the journey in this docudrama.

Everybody Needs a Rock, by Byrd Baylor and Peter Parnall

Knowing Yourself, an Amazon.com Listmania List

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Shed the Past and Increase Positive Attitude

“In order to win, you must expect to win.” That is the secret of success. If you believe in yourself, you can achieve your goals. Belief has the power to transcend all hurdles, real and imaginary. You need faith, despite the stop signs, on the road ahead. These belief quotes give us a new sense of optimism.” – Richard Bach

After going to bed after an evening enjoying the works of Emerson and Longfellow, I’d like to share some of my thoughts:

Before going to sleep for the night, try journaling about five things in life you are grateful for.

Stay away from anyone who chooses to take the negative approach to life. Those negative people are making the wrong choices; they can’t even accept their consequences of the choices they make.

Finish every day and be done with it. Say to yourself, “I have done what I could. Some blunders, some absurdities undoubtedly crept in; I’ll forget them as soon as I can. Tomorrow is a new day; I shall begin it well and serenely and with too much joy and spirit in my heart to be cumbered with my old nonsensical ways. This day, is all that is good and fair. It is too dear, with my hopes and invitations, to waste any of energy on yesterdays.”

Look not mournfully into the past. Remind yourself, “I know it doesn’t come back again. Instead I shall wisely improve the present. The present is mine. I will go forward into the future, though shadowy, I’ll have a brave heart.”

Make this a daily affirmation to begin each day, “I will do what I can with what I have, and where I am.”

 

    A Moment of Awareness is a Moment of Grace

    My inside, listen to me, the greatest spirit,

    The Teacher, is near,

    wake up, wake up!

    Oh, friend, I love you, think this over

    Carefully! If you are in love,

    then why are you asleep?

    — Anonymous

    I know when I have met a challenge in my life; when I become suddenly aware of new knowledge. It’s as if a light goes on, and things suddenly make sense. One friend of mine refers to this as “a blinding flash of the obvious.” It’s important to take such a moment of awareness seriously; it is a cue that a lesson has been learned and that it’s time to move on.

    In the past, not trusting myself and not in touch with my connectedness to the Universe, I relied on unhealthy ways to make sense of my life. The more I used intellect and will to manage and run my life, the less I accomplished.

    A moment of awareness is a moment of grace. It’s as if the Universe gives us a wonderful gift, and we can turn right around and say, “So that’s what this is all about!” Receptiveness to such a moment gives us the willingness to trust where we have been and the strength to go where our life calls us next. I will always cherish the awareness in my life.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Knowing the Meaning of Life…

    …Or Just the Act of Living Itself

    There is only one meaning of life, the act of living itself. — Erich Fromm

    Perhaps I spend too much time looking for the meaning of life as if it were a formula that would grant me wisdom and power and happiness. Maybe there isn’t a simple meaning to life, or just one meaning for everyone.

    I’ve always felt though that there must be an answer, a single answer to all my problems. A magic formula perhaps that would cure me instantly and set me free. How I wanted someone to come and give me that formula!

    But if there were a single answer, then life would be the same for everyone, wouldn’t it? And how boring that would be. What I learn through the personal growth that I’m doing is that life takes on meaning for each one of us only through our own actions and process of living — and that’s what makes our lives unique and adventurous.

    Words Can Hurt

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    Never forget what a man says to you when he is angry.”  — Henry Ward Beecher

    Do we speak the truth when we’re angry?  I know that I am often quick to say, “I really didn’t mean it,” and I may even try to make amends for my thoughtlessness.  But people, especially children, rarely forget what was said to them in anger.

    Angry words hurt and mark people; especially when trussed up with dishonesty and distortions.  Even if our parents didn’t really mean it, those angry voices and words are still with us.  We often come to believe that our parents didn’t love us or respect us; otherwise, how could they have said those angry things that still hurt? We still may believe this way, or “make up in our minds” that the source of the verbal onslaught of ugly may hold some sliver of truth.

    We will always have moments of anger.  But we can think twice before letting anger, dishonesty, and distortions dictate our speech.  Words can hurt and people remember.

    My Work Toward Personal Growth is Starting to Feel Routine

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    “To live and let live, without clamor for distinction or recognition; to wait on divine Love; to write truth first on the tablet of one’s own heart – this is the sanity and perfection of living, and my human ideal.” — Mary Baker Eddy

    Some days, I feel like the work I do for my personal growth seems simply mundane. I make a choice and then I make it again. Unlike the uncontrolled life I had before, of an uncontrolled maniacal person with bi-polar, life now has a greater degree of sanity that comes from making good choices until they become new habits. Every part of me, may rebel at this from time to time. Does this signal what I fear; a downward spiral?

    My old behaviors sometimes try to replay the old tapes in my mind that tell me that a sane life is a boring and mundane. But it’s not: it frees us because now life is more manageable.  I’m finding out in this process that it’s the small choices that count. Maybe I change something in my life-like the kind of television show I watch or the music I listen to. Maybe I change my lunch routine or take a different bus route than the usual standby.

    One of the simplest concepts I came to understand through this most recent exercise, is that I only have to choose for twenty-four hours. The bottom line for me is to have the willingness, humility and tenacious faith. I will try to see day-to-day routine as giving me the sanity and stability which I know I need to feel safe.