One of my favorite videos ever is Bob Newhart’s psychotherapy session, called “StopIt.” In the clip, a woman comes to see a new therapist, and when talking about her problems, is met with the same blunt response each time. “Stop it,” the therapist tells her. Each time, she is stumped — unable to take in such a simple solution. She had expected to discuss at length the variables that have gone into each of her troubles, and yet, the therapist stops her with the same two words each time: “Stop it.”
It’s genius. I have to admit that I have tried this technique in my own life when I’ve experienced my own negative patterns that undermine my joy and well-being. These patterns span from falling into a comparison trap, feeling separate, getting overwhelmed, and overall negative paradigms. When I have looked in the mirror and told myself to simply “stop it” (with great intention and authority!) I’ve been amazed to see how that part of myself starts to weaken. Just like the patient in the video, the negative voice asked, “What do you mean, stop it?” — to which I repeated: “I mean, stop it.” Believe it or not, you can scare the pattern away with those two simple words, provided your intention is behind it.
Remember, we’re not talking about diagnosed mental illness — we’re talking about those everyday thoughts that nag at us and keep us from being our best selves. These thoughts and patterns suck out the air within us. They take over our minds and our emotions, and make us believe they are real. We have to take control, and kick them out of the window. If a child loses his or her temper, you don’t give in. You have none of it. So why not do the same with your wicked little parts with their broomsticks?
It’s extraordinary to think about how many of us get caught in these patterns, and we feed them by judging ourselves, ruminating over them, sharing them with our friends, and living as if they were true. You and I know that so many of our patterns are not true — so we have to use our force and power to inform them that we are the master. So I highly recommend you watch the video, identify a pattern within yourself that is causing you misery, fear, and worry — and do nothing else other than looking in the mirror and with all your force, raise your voice to say, “Stop it.” Say it over again until the voice subsides and can’t latch on any longer.
We have authority over our patterns. Use those two simple words to get you out of them — and anything that’s causing you unhappiness.
Please share with me a pattern that you’re facing, and how you’re using your authority to put a stop to it. Let’s support each other to realize how much more simple it is to move past our addictive negative patterns, and claim more of our freedom.
— Published on October 25, 2019
Agapi StassinopolousHow These 2 Simple Words Can Help You Get Rid of Negative Patterns
So much of our overwhelm, our anxieties, our worries, and our unhappiness is birthed by the fact that we think we have to figure it out all alone. A lot of people feel that they’re left in the ocean on a raft and have to figure out how to get back to shore. It’s part of the incredible stress we face, which leads to worrying, suffering from not being able to sleep or ever relax, and a general feeling of being off-balance, as if you’re walking on a wobbly floor and you don’t know when the floor will collapse. Fundamentally, we don’t really trust ourselves, or in a higher power that has a plan — to have our back. Part of the reason we don’t trust it is because we’ve never really cultivated it. If you’re on a raft in the ocean and you’ve never learned how to swim, it makes sense that you’d be scared. In the same way, if you think back to your childhood, you may have been raised and educated to feel that it was you against your teachers, the rules — the world. Therefore, we have developed layers of protection around ourselves.
At some point in my life, in my early 20s, I became very aware of God’s presence in my life. And let me clarify what I mean by God: As my mother used to say, “Know yourself, and know something larger than yourself.” I became aware that there is a larger presence — a spirit, a soul, a divine intelligence, a cosmic energy. Call it what you want, but do call it, and give it a name that works for you.
I realize now that this “presence” and I have always been connected. In my books, Wake Up to the Joy of You and Unbinding the Heart, I wrote explicitly and candidly about this experience, and my journey since then. Ever since my path has become very much about letting go of the judgments, the limiting beliefs, and whatever hindered me from fully knowing and trusting that presence. Instead of identifying with my personality, thoughts, emotions, and what I call my general “Agapi-ness” — my wordly self had to be integrated into that higher knowing, and I had to practice it and live it everyday. That presence can guide me every step of the way. Like the rest of us, I’m still in the process, of course, but I feel that I’ve found my bungee cord to my source that carries me through life.
Recently, I was going through a pattern that was pulling my energy down. I could feel it pulling me under, and I was having a hard time getting myself out of it. So I treated myself to my favorite “safe carbs” — three rice cakes with butter! It’s amazing how our favorite comfort foods make us feel better. Out of the blue, Siri asked me, “What can I help you with? Go ahead, I’m listening.” I immediately chuckled. There it was again — a little sign from the universe that I could ask for help.
So how do we seek help? For starters, we have to get very quiet so we can access a deeper place of our consciousness that we are always connected to. One suggestion is to take your hands and place them on your heart and your belly, and start to pay attention to your breath. Instead of rushing to the carbs, or the judgments, or the fear and emotional intensity that come with the pattern you are experiencing, you can call your attention to that deeper place.
It’s amazing how simply stopping for a moment and trusting that you can ask for help can make a difference. It’s like you’re offering a prayer at that moment. People typically associate prayer with religion, but it’s really an internal request for help, and a moment of gratitude. It is the golden bridge between us, our worldly human self, and the wise, loving intelligence in us. This golden bridge is available to us 24-7. By acknowledging that you are alive and breathing, and coming into the appreciation of the most simple things, you open up the space to receive the guidance. However, the ego will fight us. The ego thinks it’s KING and it thinks it knows best, but we must tame it and help it relinquish control, trusting that if we work together, we will be lifted. In that day, one more time I awakened to the fact that I was not alone.
As a result of my asking for help, a friend was visiting from Los Angeles the next morning, and we had planned to have breakfast. There in my apartment we sat and talked, and I confessed to him the pattern I was going through. I cried and opened up, and he had wise words for me. I let him in, and I was lifted. When we ask and trust that we are not alone, help comes in the most extraordinary, unexpected ways, but we must first let love in. No matter the questioning, hardships, rejections, or insecurities — we are never alone. We are all deeply rooted in the consciousness of a higher intelligence that created our 37 trillion cells that allow us to breathe. It is beyond anything we have control over. We are never alone — and if you make that your living mantra right now, your life will be transformed to the bounty that is yours to have and experience.
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I was facilitating a Thrive seminar a few days ago. One of the things we always address at these seminars is “negative beliefs” — how they hold us back and undermine our thriving, productive, creative, and happy selves. Participants never fail to share beliefs such as “I’m not good enough,” “No matter how hard I work, I can do better,” “I don’t deserve success,” “I can’t be happy unless other people around me are happy,” or “I need others’ approval to speak my truth,” etc. When we ask them to think about when those beliefs first sunk in, the answer always comes back to limiting decisions they made about themselves in the earlier stages of their lives.
These beliefs spread like mold under the foundation of your home. You can’t see it until you start to feel sick. You feel depleted and off, like something is wrong, but you keep going and driving forward from one thing to the next. You can’t stop — you’re operating on survival. So you simply don’t have the time or space to dig underneath. And then one day, you decide to call an expert, and they tell you that your home is filled with mold, and it’s affecting your health and your life.
Just as this mold impacts our day-to-day actions and all our relationships, so do our beliefs — so it’s very important to take an inventory, to have the courage to look at each one and ask the fundamental questions: When did it start? Is it true? Can I let go of it? And can I upgrade myself to today?
It’s like we have a first-class ticket, but we’re still traveling coach — and some of us are even choosing to sit in the middle seat! I promise you, if you look in your pocket, you’ll find a first-class ticket, good for life. So it’s time to upgrade your life. Here’s how to get started.
1. Identify the source of the negative belief that’s limiting you.
You may have built a belief that is holding you back from who you can be. Once you identify it, bring it to the forefront, review it, and feel the feeling of contraction it had created in your self-expression. Then you have to see the judgments you made about yourself, others, and the situation, and start to forgive it, them, and yourself. You may even want to write it down and burn it.
2. Now let it go, and tell yourself: “That was then, and this is now.”
It’s important to remind yourself that this belief is no longer accurate. You can literally see a clean slate in front of you: i.e. Agapi’s life: Scene 1, Take 1. You no longer have to run your life based on this old belief. You’d bought into it some time ago, but it simply does not apply today. You are free to be and own who you’ve now become. Sure, we’re all still a work in progress — and we’ll always be expanding and growing and letting go — but when we let go of our fundamental limiting beliefs that have been running our lives, we then can put ourselves on the right track and remove our self-imposed roadblocks. It will become easier over time, and with meditation, to see the destination more clearly and enjoy the scenery along the way.
In my own life I’ve worked with the belief “I’m not safe,” which was rooted in my early years around my father, who was a concentration camp survivor and had a very erratic temper. I would often witness his explosive reactions to his employees, my mother, and in general the people around him. They could flare up at any time, out of the blue. That was a difficult thing to witness as a little girl, so I became on guard and began adjusting myself in the hope that I would help him stay calm. To this day, I always have to remind myself that that was then, and this is now. I’ve come a long way, and I know how to take care of myself and keep myself safe.
I deeply encourage you today to find one of your key limiting beliefs (there may be more than one) and replace it with a positive one, i.e. “Even if other people around me are unhappy, I have a right to my own happiness,” “I deserve and enjoy my success,” “I now give myself permission to express my truth and my feelings,” etc. Remove the mold from your foundation, lay in new floors, repaint the walls, and you can even redecorate.
Please share with me the one thing you’ll do today to move forward to your first-class seat. It’s a much better ride, and you deserve it.
Agapi StassinopolousHow to Upgrade Your Life Today
I often meet people who say to me, “I want to write a book,” or “There’s a book in me,” or “I’ve been trying so hard to write a book.” Well, let me just say it bluntly: The world doesn’t need another book. However, the world can benefit from your personal experience, your knowledge, and insights about a particular issue. It’s your version that is key. So when you start thinking of writing a book, or if you’re in the middle of writing a book, focus first on the knowledge you are imparting, and how much you want people to get value from what you have to say. The rest will follow. Here are five things not to do when getting started.
Don’t think about the final version
It might sound counterintuitive, but it’s important not to think about the book when you start writing. It can be overwhelming. Instead, think about telling your story, and who you’re telling it to. Ask yourself who would benefit from your knowledge and expertise. Think about how your words will lift others, contribute to their lives and keep in mind who you’re writing it for in particular.
Don’t overthink the structure
Don’t start mapping out chapters or thinking about the book’s structural components. Start by fleshing out your experiences, along with different themes, stories, and anecdotes. Write by hand or on your computer — or dictate it to someone else if you’re more of a speaker.
Don’t try to be an author
The journalist Hunter S. Thompson has a quote, “We strive to be ourselves.” This idea is crucial here. Don’t try to be an author, because you’ll screw it up. We want to hear your story from your voice and your vulnerability. It’s about your knowledge, and your soul. And on the same note, don’t write it to advance your career. Use your skills and talents you have to benefit someone else. Don’t put it out there to legitimize yourself.
Don’t try to do it all on your own
Later at some point, you can hire an editor who you will carefully choose after interviewing people — someone who will honor your voice instead of imposing their own. They can work with you to edit, bring structure, and give you helpful feedback. This will add value to your content. A good editor is priceless. And you don’t have to pay an arm and a leg. Be aware of the high fees of editors!
Don’t listen to your inner critic
Shut off your critical voice and your judgments. So often when we start to share information, we judge our own work and our abilities. We think to ourselves, “Who am I to write a book? I don’t have anything to say. No one’s going to read it.” These are all self-judgements. It’s critical that you evict that voice, and replace it with a voice of encouragement, support, and be a cheerleader for yourself.
The Greeks believed that creativity was an inspiration that came from another realm, and that’s why the epic poet Homer always started his writings and his odes by evoking the muse. So, remember that you’re not alone when you start writing. Call forward the invisible creative forces that work with all of us, and go beyond the linear thought patterns. That’s when the joy of writing starts to happen — when you become a conduit for some higher knowledge and wisdom to come through you as you allow it. That is the most blissful and rewarding experience worth having. And remember, even if one person gains from your writing, it’s worth having written.
One of my favorite stories is the “Two Wolves” parable. An old Cherokee chief told his grandson that there was a fight going on inside of him between two wolves — an evil wolf, and a good wolf. He explained to his grandson that everyone has this same fight going on inside of them, between our negative traits and our positive traits. When the little boy asked which wolf will win the fight, the chief replied, “The one you feed.”
We all have this fight going on — but nowadays, it tends to be between our anxious wolf, and our trusting wolf. We have both an anxious, critical, downspiraling voice, and a trusting, optimistic, calming one. Everyday, every moment, we have a choice. It has to be a conscious choice of feeding the voice that will support us, while ignoring the other one. For example, I was recently talking to a young girl who is dating and trying to find work she loves, and she said to me, “Everytime I go for an interview or go on a date, I have this disappointing negative mindset that I’ll never find work I love, or someone that’s right for me. I have trouble getting up and keeping my enthusiasm going.” I asked her to make a list of all the things that are working in her life — starting with her health her heart beating, her lungs allowing her to take a breathe, her Master’s degree that she just completed, and her creative mind. Right there and then, we started to write a list of all the things that she takes for granted for herself. I reminded her, “So many things are working. But you’re pushing your timing, and you’re judging the fact that things have not yet fallen into place.”
This is something we all do. When things aren’t going the way we want them to go, we automatically move into our feelings of anxiety, judgment, and worry — and inevitably projects into our future.
What we need in these moments of negative flooding, is a consistent practice that reinforces the positive. This practice is paramount to any person’s success and well-being. Even when we say we’re sad or worried or lonely, we’re feeding the nasty wolf. We need to make a habit to feed the wolf that is wholesome, loving, self-supporting, and trusting. Here are three keys to help you reset:
1. Think of 5 things that went right today
Get a pen and paper, or find a friend who you can verbalize it to. Either way, it’s crucial to remind ourselves of the good things in our lives. Our voice carries power and our unconscious hears what we are saying, so by recording the good things in our lives, we start to put the unconscious on the right track. Do it before bed. It will set you up for your next day, or do it whenever you find a moment to pause.
2. Make an active list
Write a list of what you would like more of. Be specific — in your finances, your relationships, your health, your creative work, your social life, and in your overall expansion of your life. Start anchoring what you want more of, and record it with a pen and paper. You have to inform your unconscious of what you want, so it can bring it to you. It’s like setting your sails to go to your destination.
3. Get an accountability buddy
You’ll need a support system that you can rely on when your bad wolf is speaking to you, and howling. Get a support buddy that will help you feed the other wolf, so your bad wolf ends up dying of starvation (wouldn’t that be wonderful?)
If there’s one thing my mother imparted to me and my sister when we were young, it was that even when things looked like they were not working out, it was essential to trust that life was for us, and trust that we are not alone, and that there is a plan for all of us. I grew up knowing that no matter what, we have to trust ourselves, and the universe, and know that the force is working with us and for us. So get your good wolf to howl that to you, day, noon, and night!
Please share with us how you tame your bad wolf, and feed your trusting wolf! And remember, you are the master of your own wolves!
Have you ever been in a room with people who know more than you? Or with people who are more accomplished than you are? And you felt that you were lacking in some way? You might have been feeling symptoms of what I like to call “NGES” — Not Good Enough Syndrome. When we’re surrounded by others who have more than we do, we tend to compare ourselves, and start to feel less than. In these moments, it’s important that we learn to reframe how we see ourselves in comparison to our surroundings. You can be in a room where people know more than you do, or are further ahead in their careers than you are, but that doesn’t take away from who you are, and what you have. We need to start reprogramming the very human feeling that who we are is not enough.
I don’t believe in the concept of original sin, but I believe in the concept of original human condition. The minute we are born and we take our first breath, this conditioning enters us that says “I’m not good enough.” It’s hidden in our unconscious. As a child, you might not experience it as intensely because you’re still living in the freedom of your childhood innocence and you’re so connected to your spirit. At some point, we start to question who we are, what we’ll become, and how we’ll find our footing in the world. And unfortunately, there’s no one around singing to you, “Que sera, sera.”
Depending on the “life cards” you’ve been dealt with, some are blessed with an upbringing that injects them with positive reinforcement, and some are challenged with the opposite — with negative affirmations. We all have teachers and parents that influence us. And unfortunately, the majority of people are not encouraged positively. We are often told we have to try harder, not to rock the boat, or to speak up — and we are compared to others. This reinforces our insecurities that we’re not good enough. Then, we withdraw our precious creative energy, stop trusting ourselves, and we cloak ourselves in negative self-perception. This ends up with us living in a world of scarcity. And we think, if we achieved more or had more, we would feel that we are enough. But when we think that way, our bucket becomes a bottomless pit with a leak at the bottom. No matter how much money we make or how many milestones we hit, we never feel the sense of fullness within ourselves.
Personally, I was brought up with parents who so encouraged me to be fully myself, and loved me for me, but my talents were different than my sister’s, who was an honors student. I always excelled in the arts, dancing, and acting. They never compared us to each other. I ended up going to a prestigious acting school in London, and when I graduated and went to Hollywood to pursue my acting career, but I faced a series of rejections. Somehow, everyone always said, “You’re so talented, but we don’t know what to do with you.” I started to feel that there was something wrong with me, but I had to shift my mindset. I had to backtrack and find my core, my sense of self, and find out what I wanted to do with me when Hollywood didn’t know what to do with me, and thus started the process of my healing. (If you want to read more of my story, I wrote about it explicitly in Unbinding the Heart.)
NGES is very common, and it manifests in several ways. For example, you work long hours, and you let go of the important things for your well-being, like your sleep, your nutrition, and your physical self-care. You have a constant feeling that you’re missing out on social events that you’re not invited to. When you’re not surrounded by people, you feel disconnected and lonely. What you’re really missing is the connection with yourself. You’re quick to compare yourself to people on Instagram and feel that others are living better lives than you are. Basically, you’re robbed of your joy and your internal happiness. If you feel any of these things, it’s time to look inward and start reversing the lies you’ve been telling yourself. Over time, you’ll start carving time for yourself to do the things that nurture you, because you’ll feel deserving of doing what you love.
These symptoms hold you back from your potential, and it’s up to us to shift our mindset. Here are three daily steps you can take to start feeling full in who you are:
1. Track when you first started feeling that you’re not enough
Was it an internal dialogue? A comparison to someone else? An impact from a parent or sibling or teacher or friend? Something you read in a magazine or saw online? What made you think you’re less than? Get a journal (I personally believe pen to paper unlocks the unconscious, unless you prefer the computer!) and write down all of those feelings — even the ones that surprise you.
2. Take a few minutes for self-care each day
Take a few minutes to meditate (whatever that means for you!) and shift your mindset so that you can be empowered to take on your day. You can start by listening to this meditation from my audio version of Wake Up to the Joy of You, which can help you feel more confident in yourself and be bold. And you can download all 33 of my meditations, all with different positive messages.
3. Adopt a daily mantra
Each day for 30 days, give yourself a positive affirmation that you write down first thing in the morning, to remind yourself that you are more than enough. For example, here’s one of my favorites: “I release the need to do more, be more, have more, in order to feel enough.” It’s about programming the unconscious, to get you to anchor the feeling that you are worthy and deserving.
John Mackey, the founder and CEO of Whole Foods has a quote I love: “It’s time we brought our hearts out of the closet.” Being raised Greek, our hearts were never in the closet to begin with. It’s wasn’t until I went to study in London that I had to relearn how to trust my heart as a young adult. (The Brits are known for many wonderful things, but they’re also known for censoring their emotions — unless it’s at the theater!) The Greeks live by giving themselves permission to feel the range of their feelings. If you’re upset, be upset. If you’re jealous, say it. If you’re sad, cry. When you feel lonely, call someone and tell them. And when you’re happy, share it with those around you — spread your joy!
The great comedian Mel Brooks has a great saying that is so relevant when we talk about leading with our heartfelt expressions. He said, “If you’re alive, make some noise.” It’s imperative that we encourage one another to feel our feelings — the good, the bad, and the ugly — and find ways to communicate them. In the Greek culture, we don’t have the habit of going to therapists — we have one another. We share just about everything with our friends and relatives unconditionally. It’s very cathartic to put it all out there. Tapping into the intelligence, resilience, and mightiness of our hearts, is the best remedy for stress. I’m not talking about the emotional heart that has its own range and ups and downs. I’m talking about the essence of who we are — the spiritual heart that’s connected to the source of our being.
If you’ve ever done yoga, you know that when you enter the savasana pose, the teacher tells us to open and soften our hearts. I always encourage people, when they come out of savasana, to hug someone. It’s easy to roll up your mat and go about your day, forgetting to connect with someone else, but yoga means oneness — and as much as you can have oneness with yourself, we also need to reinforce our oneness with one another.
It’s funny how we often feel ashamed to be completely open with our hearts, so we put up barriers so that we’re not seen — but this actually creates a separation and loneliness. We need to remind one another that we can reach a sense of oneness so effortlessly just by listening to each other. We need to create a safe place for compassion, and need to embrace each other without judgement, both physically and metaphorically. It’s said that when we hug, we release oxytocin, which makes you feel better. It’s very therapeutic and healing. You can be as healthy as you want, and eat only organic foods and green juices, meditate, and stick to a fitness regimen — but if your heart is not open, you’re still going to feel that something is missing. What might be missing is YOU. That’s why it’s important to bring yourself to the table as you are going about your day. Connect with your heart. Find it. Let it have its own voice.
Why then, do we hold back from one of the most powerful assets we’ve been invested with? By simply being present with our hearts, we have the ability to comfort and heal one another. Most people do not know that the heart has 40,000 neurons that are highly intelligent and intuitive, and they connect us to our wisdom, our intuition and our intelligence. So, if you have a judgment sitting there under your heart, telling you you’re not good enough, let me just remind you that you are amazing — as Bruno Mars says, “just the way you are!”
It’s up to you to give yourself permission to be who you are, and then surround yourself with people who make you feel safe — those who can allow you to be your vulnerable self, and share all of the things that make us human. Only then will we find the calm within the storm. It is the most beautiful journey you will ever embark on, and it will leave you feeling that you matter, and that no matter what, you’re enough.
If you’re struggling to bring your heart to the table, start with these two small Microsteps:
Make one meaningful connection
Today, when you ask someone how they are, truly listen, even beneath the “I’m fine.” Go a little deeper, and find out what might be concerning them or exciting them that day. What might they share with a little more encouragement?
Express your truth
If you’re in a meeting, or in a conversation while out to dinner, and there’s something you’d like to express, give yourself permission to express what’s on your heart. Express your truth without fear, and notice how liberating that feels.
Now, I’d love to hear from you. How can we help support one another be more open with our hearts? What areas do you need support? Share with me how you bring your own heart to the table.
Last week, I was getting ready for an international trip that demanded a lot of preparation. When I got up in the morning, I grabbed my regular dose of coffee, and jump right into my to-do list — answering emails, packing my suitcase, making calls, and running around from one thing to the other on autopilot.
A few hours later, I began to feel my energy dip, and I started to feel overwhelmed. I hadn’t showered, hadn’t had breakfast, and hadn’t exercised or meditated. I found myself getting irritated, and something inside me — the better part of myself — shouted at me, “Stop running around, go shower, have breakfast, walk around the block, and then come back and continue your packing.”
It was such a major a pattern interruption. I had no choice but to do all that. (Plus, I put on my favorite lipstick that always brightens my day!) When I came back to what I had to do, I felt way more energized, more centered, and yes — even more joyful to keep preparing for my trip.
It dawned on me more than any other time in the past that the excuses we make for ourselves to not do the things that energize us and make us feel our best, are exactly that — excuses. When we tell ourselves we don’t have time to do the things that make us feel centered and clear-headed, we’re giving ourselves a strong message that we’re not as important as our tasks. Somehow, we’re wired backwards. We’re telling ourselves we don’t deserve to make time for what helps us thrive — and then we end up feeling depleted, stressed, irritated, and ultimately running on empty.
When we take time to reconnect with ourselves, however works best for each one of us, we feel like we have a buffer from everything else we have to face that day. Taking that time for myself was my armor to the stress of the upcoming trip. I felt like there was a little cushion between me and my stress. It was much more manageable, and everything after that felt effortless.
In my book Waking Up to the Joy Of You, I wrote a chapter called “Knowing Your Linchpin.” A linchpin refers to the small pin passed through the end of an axle to keep a wheel in position. When that linchpin is out of place, the entire structure falls apart. Similarly, if you’re neglecting the one thing you have to do everyday for your well-being — for your wheels to stay in position — the rest of your day can actually fall apart. So instead, you reach for that extra cup of coffee, a muffin, or anything that will give you a false sense of comfort.
Making ourselves a priority should be a primary law, like gravity. So, here are my three tips that can help you override your old pattern, and replace it with the power of choosing you everyday:
Schedule the time
Whatever you need to do to feel your best, identify it, write it down, and put your name next to it. For example, “Rebecca’s time to go to the gym, meditate, stretch, and make her favorite smoothie.” By scheduling the time in your calendar, you won’t be able to use the excuse that you don’t have the time. It’s right there in front of you! You make the time for you, just like you would make the time for someone else.
Find a support buddy
I’ve found that having a friend involved in your daily self ritual is key if you want to follow through with them. Recently, my 27-year-old niece, Isabella, has been my support buddy. She texts me everyday, asking me to let her know what time I’m doing my workout. She keeps reminding me very lovingly until the end of the day. By sharing your obstacles with someone you trust, you have someone to report to, and that helps on the days you tell yourself you’re too tired, or too busy. Think of this person as your “Thrive Buddy.”
Think of it as a primary law
Self-care sounds like an indulgence, but if you reframe your thinking to see it as a natural, non-negotiable part of your day, you’ll see that it’s not as complicated as you thought. When we tell ourselves we can’t afford to take the time, we end up spiraling into a self-defeating cycle, where we judge ourselves and fill our minds with negative self-talk. Instead, rethink what self-care means. The busiest, most successful people in the world thrive by taking time for themselves, from Michelle Obama to Richard Branson. (Michelle Obama worked out religiously everyday, and got those biceps we all recognize. I always wondered what time she had to wake up to carve that into her schedule!) It’s about expanding to the reality that there’s plenty of time, and that our excuses are lies that we’re telling ourselves. Trust me — whether it’s five minutes or an hour, you’ll thank yourself for honoring what gives you the vitality to master your day.
So, now it’s up to you. Find a buddy, schedule the time, and thank yourself for making yourself a priority. You deserve it. And share your results with us!
“A lot of the stress that people feel, they feel because they have put themselves at the center of their universe. When you remove yourself from the center of that place, a lot of the stress subsides. Putting God at the center of things and not yourself is clarifying, liberating and uplifting.” – Malcolm Gladwell
I was recently listening to the Thrive Global Podcast with Malcolm Gladwell in conversation with Arianna Huffington. When I heard the above statement from him, it felt like a lightning bolt. It really clarified in a few words why we all feel so stressed! It’s not an easy thing to remove oneself from our own universe, but as I listened to him explain it with such clarity and conviction, I got a glimpse of how liberating it would be to live life with God at the center of it.
When I think about stress and what overwhelms us all, holidays are one of the first things that come to mind. We experience added pressure around the holidays, feeling that there is not enough time, resources, or love — and have high expectations to also feel happy. We become focused on so many details, and get fully absorbed in our own lives trying to make it all happen bigger, better, and faster. It is ironic that at a time when we should focus on the spirit of the holidays and the spirit of giving, our perception of what’s required of us and how we should act becomes magnified, and we become even more consumed.
In our everyday lives, from the moment we wake up to the moment we go to sleep, we are at the center of our universe. There is nothing wrong with that, but it is a way of living that comes with the consequences of great stress. The added stress is when we also have to take care of other people, and we feel that we now have to be all things to all people. That added pressure of perfection amplifies the stress!
How then are we to shift to becoming more God-centered? What if instead we were awakened to the fact that the greatest connection, the one that moves us from breath to breath every moment of our lives, the connection that beats our hearts 24/7, without us ever having to do anything about it, is the reality that we must reconnect with and bring our focus to, so that our daily lives can have a higher altitude and perspective? No matter what the circumstances or conditions of our lives are right now, if we want to experience less stress, it is essential that we refocus on the reality that there is a transformational energy that overpowers our own.
Whatever you might want to call it — God, the big blob in the Universe, or the Supreme Power, it’s this transcendent magical energy that created billions of galaxies, planets, stars, and grains of sand, it is this life force that created YOU with 37.2 trillion cells that make our bodies do everything they do. How extraordinary that this energy is giving us life right NOW! So, beyond our stress and overwhelm and worries and sense of lack, there is a higher intelligence that creates this cosmic existence while we are hustling and bustling and worrying if we bought the right gift for our loved ones.
So take a moment and focus on the present and let that gratitude of the miracle of life flow through you and bring you the deepest calm. All it requires from you is a willingness to let go of putting yourself in the center of things (which creates a sense of contraction), expand your mind to the optimum truth that you are more than your to do list, your I do not have enough list, your I need to do more list, your what if this doesn’t work out list, your what if this falls through list, and your fear list. Tap into the unlimited expanded version of yourself that is available to you right now as you take your next breath.
As you celebrate this holiday season and complete all your deadlines, enjoy your shopping and your work. Spend time with your family with care, and see how things align in a different way. See if there is more space around you — space for more relaxation and more joy!
We’ve participated in all these holiday seasons, putting ourselves at the center of it all, forgetting to connect to our source. Try doing this one with God at the center of your life. Throughout the day, take a few conscious breaths, exhale your stress, fill yourself with oxygen through the power of your breath, and remind yourself of the miracle that is you! See if your perspective changes, if your heart expands, and how assistance comes in, in every possible way. You might see that your resources are available in abundance and you can walk under a canopy of grace, gratitude, and a field of expanded time and space. Your heart will be full of gratefulness and reverence as you get to be the witness of the supreme connection to your source!
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— Published on November 26, 2018
NehaDo This One Thing to Have a Stress-Free Holiday
Don’t leave yourself behind while you are building your business.
I often speak to entrepreneurs who are starting to bring their businesses, products, and ideas to fruition. They always start with lots of passion and creativity combined with fear and trepidation, what if this fails? And that fear can become an extra motivator that can lead to a tremendous amount of stress and exhaustion, living under the delusion that you don’t have time to take a break.
So you end up feeling overwhelmed and depleted. It somehow goes with the entrepreneurial territory. I hear so many people say, “I am running on empty. I can’t stop. I don’t have time to even think, let alone find quality time for family, friends, and myself.”
So how do you reverse these patterns that are not going to be supportive of building a successful business, and how do you take care of yourself while you are building your business? How do you replace these feelings of entrepreneurial burnout with a sense of calm, confidence, and trust in yourself? How do you deal with the ups and downs of building a business? And what happens as you are about to raise additional funds and you are met with rejection? How do you stay the course, while keeping your vision and yourself intact?
Some of the greatest wisdoms I learned about how to deal with the pressure of creating a project was during a period in my life when I was producing a six-hour television series for HBO called “The Gods of Greece.” I had raised the seed money and HBO was funding some of the project but it was up to me to raise a few extra million dollars. I had produced an amazing script and I was super excited to embark on raising the money with absolute reassurance that it was going to be easily available. I was extremely driven and I met with countless Greek investors, but to my absolute surprise, none of them were coming through. I cannot begin to tell you the amount of times I was told, “We love it, but this is not the right timing for us.” I reached a level of discouragement equivalent to Persephone in the Underworld. I had identified myself so closely with this project that when people would ask me, “How are you?” I would answer “‘The Gods of Greece’ funds are not coming through.” There was no separation between me and my project. I needed to back off, regroup, and find my center again. Here are some of the tools that I use as I am embarking on new projects so that my brain can stay clear, focused, and energized. That way, I perform from a higher state of creation and inspiration.
1- Learn to build a distance between who you are and what you do.
Your projects, your endeavors, and your business are always going to go through ups and downs — but you can stay steady. Creating that distance, and not living and dying by the success of your business is going to be the most supportive thing to enjoying the process and staying creative and recharged.
2- Develop a daily practice that brings you to your place of calm, to your center, and to your wisdom.
We all have a greater place in us that resides in our brain, in our heart, and in our spirit. That is your Higher Self. It’s what many great spiritual teachers have called the “knower in you.” Cultivate that part of you and build its muscle — until it becomes so solid that it is the captain of your ship. That way, when you are met with stormy weather it knows how to handle it by adjusting the sails and keeping the course.
3- Keep a very clear vision of where you are heading and visualize an ideal scene of the success you are going to have ten years from now.
Visualize all the things you did to get that success, and think of all the people who came to your aid. This is a creative visualization of your successful future outcome. It might not seem real right now, but your brain doesn’t always know the difference between reality and what you’ve imagined. Write this vision out in great detail, picture it in your mind’s eye, and then start to take the necessary action steps, and you will start to see how it gradually materializes. That way you are giving a directive to your brain to create the success you want.
4- Check in with yourself regularly.
At the end of every day, make a checklist assessing if you have been present in everything that you did. So often, we go on automatic, and we go from one thing to the next, forgetting to eat, cutting down on our sleep, exercise, and the very things that replenish us. One simple thing is to remember to take deep breaths throughout the day and exhale as you go about your day. Even one conscious breath can reboot your brain.
5- Practice these four magic words: “Can you help me?”
When you are feeling stuck, afraid, and not clear about the next step, find mentors and people who you trust to reach out to. Once you find them, be courageous in asking for help. Asking for help does not diminish you and shouldn’t make you feel weak. The ability to ask for assistance represents courage and high self-esteem.
6- Practice six magic words: “What can I do for you?”
Don’t ever lose sight that your gift and your support can also contribute substantially to other people’s growth, well-being, and work. Let those people find you, and seek to find them, because the quickest way to feel empowered is to be able to offer what we have to someone else, making their lives a little easier and helping them feel more supported.
7- No matter what happens in the day, always go to bed feeling grateful for the things that happened, and appreciate yourself for all you did.
Write them down, or express them verbally, and always go to sleep with your heart full of gratitude. Remember that in the last five minutes before you go to sleep, you are actually programming your subconscious with how you want to feel the next day and what you want to create. Never go to bed thinking of what hasn’t been done and what went wrong; instead, focus on all the positives.
It’s very important to keep the channels of communication open to yourself. If you are feeling pressured, insecure, fearful, deprived, or left out, let yourself communicate that to you. This way, you will be voicing all your feelings and airing them out, so they won’t rob you of your energy. Find the self-love and the safe space in you to process your emotions as they come up and not judge them, but make them okay. Practice self-compassion, so that your joy will be alive in the process of creating your life and your business. This is ultimately the ingredient that catches and ignites other people.
Underneath every successful businessman and businesswoman is enthusiasm: That is the driving force. Don’t ever lose your enthusiasm.