Gretchen Hydo is a certified Life & Business Coach, Motivational Speaker, and Mentor. She helps women and men, from a variety of backgrounds, all of whom are ready to make significant and substantial changes.
Blame is a little like fast food – we know it’s not good for us, we know it won’t lead to anything healthy, but oh boy can it be irresistible. I don’t know about you, but whenever something happens that angers or irritates me, it’s all-too-easy to reach for the blame button. It feels like I’m doing something, for one, and it also provides an excellent distraction from the real pain I’m experiencing. When I can blame someone, even myself, for the way I feel, then I don’t actually have to look at the feeling itself. And when I don’t look at my uncomfortable feelings, then I can’t actually take care of myself. Vicious cycle, right?
Best-selling author, psychologist and Buddhist teacher Tara Brach has a wonderful saying: “It’s not survival of the fittest. It’s survival of the nurtured.” Learning how to nurture ourselves in the midst of difficult feelings may be one of the hardest things we ever learn. The world we live in isn’t big on nurturing. We’re not taught how to take care of ourselves when things go wrong. Instead we look to blame others or ourselves. And then we only feel worse.
Self-compassion is how we can break the cycle. Self-compassion, put simply, is being nice to ourselves. It’s taking care of ourselves when we’re in pain. It means choosing to be gentle and loving with ourselves instead of critical and punishing. But in order to do that, we have to know that we’re in pain. We have to look past the problem of the moment to see why it’s upsetting us the way it is. Then, and only then, can we give ourselves the understanding and soothing that we really need.
Brach suggests that the key to all of this is awareness. Ask yourself the following question when you feel the need to blame someone, or yourself: “if you had to put aside the idea that someone (including you) is wrong or at fault, then what difficult emotion are you trying not to feel?” Obviously this is easier said than done. But you may be surprised at what comes up. I’ve noticed that when I actually let myself feel the parts of myself that I see as inadequate, or judged, or shameful, and I choose to give myself a little shot of love instead of a stern talking-to, I’m better able to cope and move on. Blame falls away, and forgiveness is that much closer. And in this world that is already so full of anger and blame, I feel like this is one small step for me, and one huuuuge step for mankind.
Here are some everyday ways that we can practice self-compassion:
See yourself as a child. (And believe me, that child you were still exists, down deep inside.) Of course we know that a child deserves love and your understanding. After all, she is just a child. The same goes for you. Would you speak to a child the way you speak to yourself? Of course not. The same goes for yourself. Start talking to yourself in a kinder voice.
Be your biggest fan. The truth is, you are loved – by a lot of people. And the Universe at large. You were not put on this earth to be shunned and ignored and held responsible for every terrible event that has ever happened. Sadly, we’re not taught and conditioned by society to love ourselves – or even like ourselves that much. So it’s up to us to make up for that. Write down a list of your wonderful qualities. Don’t be stingy. Consult it often.
Practice mindfulness. The next time you feel triggered by someone’s behavior, take a pause, and breathe. Awareness of your own emotions is the key here, so take a moment to examine the way you’re feeling. You don’t have to know why you’re feeling the way you do – just that you do.
Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. It can be scary to look at our feelings and really feel them. It can feel like we’re letting someone else get away with hurting us while we are left to wallow in our bad feelings. But allowing yourself to really feel the extent of your pain frees you to offer yourself comfort – just as you would to a child who is hurting. It’s okay to realize that you’re in pain. You’re only human. And a quick thought along the lines of, “It’s okay that you’re in pain, I love you anyway,” can work wonders.
O M G! I don’t know about you, but it can be a real struggle for me to not fill up all of my time being productive. I am the kind of gal that has lists for her lists. I like to check things off, add more, and then check them off again. Sometimes my list is so long that there is absolutely no way I can accomplish it all. About a quarter of the things on the list have nothing to do with me but have to do with others (kids, husband, friends) and another quarter are things I don’t want to do but feel obligated to handle.
In her best-selling book on reclaiming creativity, The Artist’s Way, author Julia Cameron advises people to avoid the “virtue trap.” That’s what she calls the impulse to fill our free time with “productive” activities rather than the space to reflect, create, or dream. When we are learning how to be creative, she says, having time to putter, to browse, to space out, to do nothing, is crucial. If we don’t give ourselves that time, and cram it instead with chores that make us feel like we’re “doing something,” then we’ve missed an important opportunity.
But these concepts don’t only apply to people trying to become more creative. They actually apply to us all. Along with our work lives and our love lives and our family lives, each of us has a spiritual life. Or rather, a spiritual need. All of us are born with the need to get in touch periodically with a higher power, whatever shape that takes for us individually. Setting aside time each day to be still, to get quiet, and connect with whatever Higher Power we believe in is vital to keep us balanced, emotionally whole, and able to give more to the people around us. When we don’t take time for this, the rest of our life tends to suffer. We get grouchy. We feel depleted. We may get a good night’s sleep, but somehow we don’t feel fully rested.
People in twelve step programs actually have a saying for this. “Don’t just do something. Sit there.” This can be soooo hard for me. Time and how to spend it wisely is my obsession. Any time I can carve out a spare hour for myself I usually want to devote it to something I should do, instead of something spiritual. As in, I should work out, I should run that errand across town, I should call back my friend, I should finally clean out that closet, I should take the cat for her check-up, schedule my mammogram, buy that gift, and the list goes on and on. There is so much to do, and so little time, that choosing to spend it on spirituality seems, well, a little selfish. And then I wonder why I feel emptied out, on edge, unable to take a full breath.
But when we can wrap our heads around the fact that time spent on spirituality is also a should, we can start to take steps to integrate it into our lives. And not just when we get handed a spare hour, but on a consistent basis. And anything counts. You don’t have to be a practicing anything to become more spiritual. Sometimes it can simply be taking time to stop, reflect, and breathe. To take a hike in nature and watch birds soar in the sky. To step into our backyard or take a new route home. To turn off our phone and devote an hour to quiet and no screen time. Think of something that feels nurturing and soul-replenishing. Is it swimming laps? Is it knitting? Is it trying out a new recipe or even going to see an old movie by yourself?
Here are some suggestions for those of us trying to carve out some time for our spiritual lives. As always, take your time with these. Baby steps are just as significant!
1.Take a hike. If you’re really struggling with taking time out for your spiritual life, taking a hike in nature is a good first activity. This way you’ll gain the benefit of “doing something” (exercise) with time spent near a Higher Power (in nature.)
2. Make it fun. In The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron talks about something called “the artist date.” It’s a set amount of time – say, one hour a week – during which you take yourself on a date. It’s time just for you. And nothing “productive” is allowed. Think strolling around a botanical garden, or checking out a museum exhibit, or even just browsing stores in a cool neighborhood. Anything that demands your complete focus and draws your attention to something bigger than you can count here.
3. Write it out. Keeping a journal, or even a gratitude list, and making a habit of writing in it every day is a spiritual activity. When we write down the events of our lives and remark on what we find thankful for in each activity, we are acknowledging the presence of the Divine in our lives.
4. Learn to say no. When you’ve scheduled time to visit that great exhibit you’ve been hearing about and your sister-in-law suddenly asks you to help her move, it can be easy to give in to what you think you should do. Don’t do it. Learning to say no is like strengthening a muscle. It may feel difficult but the more you do it to preserve your spiritual time the better you will feel.
For the last 50 days I have spent 30-mintues each morning meditating, journaling and praying. What I’ve found is that I have my energy, enthusiasm and sense of overall peacefulness. I was not a big meditator but I started with an App called Insight Timer. Right now I am doing a 40-day meditation program from Sound True that teaches you to meditate, to feel your body, to notice your feelings and to ground yourself. If you are even slightly interested, I invite you to try it out. If you’d like more help integrating your spiritual life into your daily routine, you can schedule a thirty-minute complimentary session with me here. Be restful, be peaceful, be free. Let’s get spiritual.
There’s nothing worse than feeling a difficult emotion. Sadness, anxiety, anger? The worst. It’s uncomfortable. It’s exhausting. And it can be scary. If you’re anything like me, the first impulse you have is to bury that emotion into the ground with a quick fix. Netflix, online shopping, wine, a chocolate-chocolate cupcake…. The options are endless. And why shouldn’t we have options? Who wants to feel bad?
According to psychologists who have studied this issue, avoiding feeling bad is actually bad for us. How’s that?
When we avoid a “bad” feeling, and opt for a quick fix like Netflix or shopping to feel better, we’re choosing a short-term solution over a long-term benefit. The short-term solution may make us feel better immediately, but it can make us more averse to painful feelings over time. As a result, we will choose the short-term solution over and over again. But when we choose the short-term solution, we turn our back on certain long-term benefits that we want for our lives. Goals like getting married, changing jobs, getting a promotion, all involve a certain amount of risk and potential pain. If we are too afraid to experience the possibility of risk or pain, then we stay stuck, and we turn our backs on our goals. Avoiding negative emotions can wreak havoc on our willingness to expand our lives. Negative emotions are always part of growth and change.
Psychologists believe that the best thing we can do with difficult emotions is to accept them and let them in. But I believe that there is a middle road here. I think we can both fully accept our feelings and also let them go to make room for a more comfortable feeling. It’s not possible to fully do away with negative emotions. They will always be part of being alive. And when we feel them we do well to actually let them in. But we can also do what we can to replace those “bad feelings” with a feeling of peace or confidence or gratitude.
Here is an exercise to try the next time you are in the midst of a negative emotion:
Notice the feeling you are having without judgment, any story, or justification.
With an open heart allow the feeling. I feel ______ right now. Even if the feeling seems negative, acknowledge it. It will create some distance from the feeling.
Redirect the feeling. Make a full body choice to feel the feeling you want (for example, if you are feeling nervous or anxious maybe you want confidence, peace, or love). Touch a place on your body (usually hand over stomach) that will emphasize this choice. With your hand on your body deliberately choose the new feeling.
Ask yourself the next best thing to do (now that you have created the new feeling.)
Small business loans can be very valuable to any small business that needs funding. While small business loans are similar to most loans, there are different types of loans, interest rates, and terms. It’s important to understand the difference between the loan types and repayment terms to find the best fit for your business.
The research team at ConsumersAdvocate.org, surveyed 42 loan providers to find not only the top 10 small business lenders but also how all the different kind of loans work.
Here is an overview of their findings and the different types of loans offered.
What Is a Small Business Loan?
A small business loan is essentially a loan that is given to small businesses which is then required to be paid back with interest and some fees over a period of time. There are both long term and short term loans which are the same as any other loan or line of credit. There are also government loans which are guaranteed by the Small Business Administration, which have better terms for the business, but stricter requirements to become approved.
What Should A Borrower Look for in a Small Business Loan?
Anyone who is looking for a small business loan needs to consider the reason for the loan, the dollar amount of the loan, the interest rate, costs, terms, prepayment penalties and other fees. Be wary of the loans that are very easy to qualify for as they will usually require higher APR (annual percentage rates) and extra fees.
There are many different small business loans that vary in their terms and duration of the loan:
1. Short-Term Loans
Short term loans are usually a loan with a one-year term but are sometimes required to be repaid within 3 to 4 months. In order to qualify for a short term loan, borrowers are usually required to show the past 3 to 5 year cash flow and income statements. Interest rates are typically higher for short term loans.
2. Long-Term Loans
Long term loans have a longer maturity and can be anywhere from 3 to 10 years and sometimes even longer. Long term loans amounts range from $25,000 to $200,000. To become approved for a long term loan, expect a more difficult application process. The interest rate on these loans vary but are usually based on the prime interest rate.
3. Line of Credit
A line of credit is essentially guaranteed cash that is available to you and can be used on any necessary purchases, repairs or whatever is necessary for your business. A line of credit can help when a business is in need of cash before any revenue has been received. There is usually a cap on how much you can take out and you will be required to pay interest on the principal that is outstanding.
4. Invoice Financing
Just as the name suggests, invoice financing is a loan to pay back the outstanding invoices that a business might not be able to pay. The lender is giving you money that will be used against any income or accounts receivable generated.
5. Merchant Cash Advance
A merchant cash advance is an alternative for a business whose revenue is generated mostly from debit and credit card sales. The lender will give the business a cash advance and then require some of the revenue from future sales.
6. Equipment Loans
Equipment loans are used to buy equipment for your business. The equipment actually becomes the collateral for repayment. Therefore if there’s a default on the loan, the lender will repossess the equipment. Equipment loans are fairly easy to acquire.
Other than the above loans, the Small Business Administration will back low-interest rate loans to small business. While not lenders, the SBA will guarantee up to 85% of loans that are less than $15,000 and 75% of loans that are over $150,000.
Frequently Asked Questions
How does a company qualify for a small business loan?
Every business loan is different but a guarantor is usually required if your credit history is poor, your business doesn’t have any earnings, a poor investment history or you have little cash flow. The guarantor is then responsible for repaying the loan if the business fails or is liquidated.
Do you need to have good credit to get a loan?
While it certainly helps, there are some lenders that are more lenient than others. For example, a lender might take into account the cash flow that will eventually be generated from the business and not worry about the credit history. For an SBA loan, good credit is a must.
What is the cost of a small business loan?
Business loans costs can vary for each borrower as the rates will be determined by the actual business. Keep in mind the costs of the loan, interest rate, APR and other costs that might apply. Make sure that you can repay the loan within their time frame and that the profits from your business will eventually exceed the loan amount.
What are the different loan term lengths?
Conventional bank loans are usually 3-10 years, while short term loans are between 3 months and 2 years. Long term loans are typically 1-5 years.
Is an Online Lender preferable to a bank?
Online lenders are a great alternative to a conventional loan when a business is a start-up or for borrowers with a weak credit history. The approval process is quicker and more lenient, but the repayment terms tend to be within a shorter time frame than other lenders.
Now that you know a little more about how small business loans work, you can decide which loan and lender is the best fit for you. Have a list of questions ready and make sure to get quotes from at least 2 to 3 lenders to see which company gives you the best deal.
Let’s face it: life is hard. Much harder than anyone tells you it’s going to be. I remember when I was a teenager rolling my eyes at my mom and thinking about how stupid her rules were. I couldn’t wait to be an adult. I would fantasize about working for a magazine, living in Los Angeles, and coming and going as I pleased. For most of college there was a running countdown in my head towards graduation day, when I would grab my degree, throw off my cap and gown, and finally be able to make my mark on the world.
About a year in, I realized the bitter truth. Real life was a struggle. The world, it seemed, wasn’t interested in me. And how could I even begin to figure out how to “make my mark” when I had to pay so many bills? And go to work. – every day. And face so many daily disappointments and injustices that it was all I could do to get to Friday so I could go out with my girlfriends to look for a him because I was supposed to have a relationship too.
Real life was hard, and here was the other thing: when it wasn’t hard, it was boring. Really boring.
In other words, the idea that I would leave my mark on the world and that it would matter seemed pretty far away.
Later, when I got out of my twenties, had a house, a husband and a baby, I realized my dreams did still matter. I just hadn’t been prepared for the day-to-day of real life, which can hand you so many challenges and problems and distracting goals (“maybe this face cream will solve all my problems!”) that focusing on yourself can take serious effort.
David Foster Wallace talked about this in his essay, “This is Water,” which is actually a speech he gave to the graduating class of Kenyon College in 2005. In it, he spoke about the routine and the boredom and the petty, exhausting struggles of real life. And right in the middle of the speech he delivered some of the best life advice I’ve ever heard. That surviving life, with its crushing injustices and petty disappointments and mind-numbing routine, boils down to how we think. And that exercising some control over how we think and what we think about is the key to staying sane and developing success.
I would add the following: that being a successful, happy adult means learning how to knock down or ignore all the reasons you’re given every single day not to try, not to change, not to take risks, and go for what you want anyway. No matter how out of reach. No matter how naïve. No matter how impossible it may seem. And this is a matter of changing and controlling the way we think.
Some ways we can exercise control over our thoughts are the following:
Get clear on your thoughts. What exactly do you think about money? Love? Success? Or whatever you truly want? Do you think you can actually have it and still be a good person, or does a part of you deep down inside believe that this is not possible? Do you believe that what you want is truly supposed to be yours? Or that you don’t deserve it?
Meditate, meditate, meditate. If we want to learn to control our thoughts meditation is the single most important thing we can do. By focusing on our breath and calming the hamster wheel inside our brains, we can see that most of our thoughts are actually a) automatic and b) not that helpful. Taking a few minutes every day to detach from our thoughts and quiet our mind can help us to notice self-defeating, negative patterns in our thinking that we can change. (See next exercise.)
The next time you are stopped in traffic, or feeling uninspired at work, or have just received some disappointing news, notice where your thoughts go. Probably nowhere good, right? So then reframe the thought. If the thought is, “Ugh, of course that didn’t work. Why did you even try? You’re stupid, naïve….” gently reframe the thought. “Huh. Okay, that didn’t work out. Too bad. Guess I’ll just have to try again. There must be something better for me around the corener.” Period, end. Enough of this over time and you can train your thoughts to be more positive.
Realize that you’re not alone. Day to day life can be lonely. There’s no getting around that. We can wind up spending long periods of time alone every day without meaning to. When we are in our cars, or at our desks, we listen to a monologue that may be extremely unhelpful. And if we are tired from a long day or week, it may feel easier to isolate than to put ourselves in the way of other people who can give us a feeling of community and support. Don’t do it! Being around others and leaning on others for support teaches us that our negative thinking isn’t special to us. It makes it a little less powerful. We can gain perspective.
Believe that what you want is within your grasp, even if everything in front of you tells you otherwise.
Real life isn’t easy. But it doesn’t have to defeat you.
You’re in a bit of a bind, here. On the one hand, your devotion to your business or career means you have less time than ever to think about cooling off, calming down, and finding some relief from negative emotions.
However, now is the time when you need a clear mind the most so that you can face the obstacles ahead and reach your goals. There’s only one choice, and that’s to make time because you’ll never achieve anything if you’re riddled with anxiety and self-doubt, which will surely result from your hectic pace and lack of self-care.
Here are some ways to combat work-related stress and add tranquility to your everyday life.
There’s nothing wrong with taking on additional responsibilities unless, of course, it starts making you so busy that it negatively impacts your mental and emotional health. If that’s the case, then a simple solution is to delegate or outsource some responsibilities. For instance, you might pay someone to mow your lawn or clean your house. You can also hire a professional dog walker to help care for your pet during the day (an hour-long walk will usually cost you $22 – $27). Outsourcing these tasks helps free up some time so you can relax while still knowing that everything is getting taken care of.
One writer with Verywell Mind, a website devoted to mental health, called organization the secret weapon against stress. Organization keeps you from scrambling around at the last minute wondering where things are and helps you get prepared for key events in your life and your workday. Being proactive, noticing what troubles you, and consciously eliminating potential stressors are key in bringing order to your home, office, and schedule.
Speaking of your home and office, these places may be where the stress is emanating from, especially if you regularly find yourself in a messy environment littered with clutter. According to Your Modern Family, this intensifies other frustrations in your life, leaving you feeling anxious, hopeless, and overwhelmed. There’s an easy solution, though: getting rid of stuff. Take each object in your home and office and ask yourself if you really need it. If you don’t, get rid of it. And after you’ve decluttered, give your home and office a deep cleaning. It’s usually best to trust a professional with this task; expect to spend between $118 and $223 in Los Angeles for a cleaning service.
Eating well is at the heart of well-being and has a profound effect on your physical and mental health. First off, when your body is in shape, you’ll look and feel healthier. But it goes deeper. In fact, there are foods that reduce anxiety by decreasing levels of the stress hormone cortisol or increasing levels of other hormones that fight it. These include fatty fish and dark chocolate.
Exercise should be a part of anyone’s daily routine. As scientists have discovered, when dealing with stress, all of your body’s systems — cardiovascular, nervous, respiratory — need to communicate with each other and function in sync, and they get plenty of practice doing that when you exercise. Furthermore, physical activity gives you an endorphin boost that leads to a sense of ease and confidence after every cardio or strength-training session. Surely, you can find 30 minutes a day for that.
Meditate and Breathe
You only need a few minutes to meditate, and you can do it at home or work as part of your daily routine or whenever you feel overwhelmed. As Yoga Medicine founder Tiffany Cruikshank tells Health.com, it all starts with deep rhythmic breathing, which puts you in touch with the rest of your body and leaves you in a state of calm. You’ll also carry out a mental decluttering by casting negative thoughts and stressors out of your mind, leaving you focused on what matters most.
Take Up a Hobby
First off, doing something you love takes your mind off whatever’s troubling you at work, and sometimes that’s enough to reset and find a little peace at the end of the day. To find a hobby that works for you, just think back to how you spent your time when you were younger. Was it drawing? Playing music? Writing? You’ll find a number of those activities actually help in your work by sparking your creativity; you may even be able to add something interesting to your resume.
Making the right choices in life can do wonders for your mental health and help you get ahead in life and at work. Best yet, it doesn’t take that much time at all to achieve this state of mind, only the willpower to make some changes.
Please schedule your 30-minute session to talk about the best ways to declutter your mind and your life to up your mental health.
It’s April! If you’re anything like me, you’re feeling the need to do a little spring cleaning. This is the time of year when I actually love to go through my home, my office, and even my car, and clean out all the dirt and debris that have somehow collected over the winter. Stacks of paper, junk the kids have collected, and the kids toy room – I love going through it and getting rid of things and am always astonished about how much trash and broken items that I find. Then there’s my closet. For some reason, most of the year I’m loath to throw anything out, even that sweater that’s missing three buttons and has two raggedy holes in the back. That sweater just seems too familiar, too much a part of me, to throw away. But once I put my clothes to a simple test – is it a) something I wear? And if not, b) does it make me feel good to have it? – I find that letting go of old clothes becomes much easier. Once I look long and hard at whether an item is actually still serving me it becomes much easier to know whether to keep it or get rid of it.
The same can be said for our thoughts. If spring is an opportunity for us to tidy up our living space, then it is also an opportunity for us to let go of thoughts that no longer serve us. In her best-selling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo recommends looking at every item in your home and asking yourself “does it spark joy?” If it doesn’t, then we are to thank it for its service and get rid of it. I would like us to do the same with our thoughts. Our thoughts are powerful, more powerful than anything we can buy or acquire for our home or our wardrobe. It’s vital that we look at them from time to time and decide to let go of the ones that no longer serve us.
So many of us have developed a habit of negative thinking. It is so ingrained in us most of us do not even notice it. Negative thoughts can form a loop, so that we can spend an entire day jumping from one negative thought to another without even noticing it. Because our brains are wired to look for problems and prepare for them, negative thinking feels natural to us. In fact, negative thinking begets more negative thinking. Like piles of clutter in our homes, it’s not something that will just go away on its own. We need to take an active role in examining our thoughts, seeing which ones are making our lives richer and more productive, and which ones are keeping us stuck.
One difference between the Marie Kondo method and what I’m asking you to do is this: for each negative thought that you identify, I would like you to replace it with one that actually serves you. The trick here is not to empty your life of thoughts, as you might extra clothes or shoes, but to replace the negative thoughts with ones that build you up, make you feel good, and inspire you to be your best self.
For each thought or story that you identify as negative, or, at the very least, unproductive, ask yourself the following:
Does this thought make me feel good? Does it “spark joy”?
Does having this thought help me? And if it does, how? Does it help me to stay stuck? Or does it help me to have a richer, fuller life?
What does hanging on to this thought actually give me? Even negative thoughts give us something, oftentimes it’s some kind of protection.
If this thought isn’t serving me, how can I let go of it and replace it with a thought that is positive? Enriching? And actually truer and more representative of reality?
As practice, try this exercise from another best-selling book, Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. Write down ten negative thoughts (or “blurts.”). Carefully rewrite them into positive affirmations. So, “Nothing ever works out for me” becomes something like “My creative efforts come to good,” or “The Universe has a divine plan of goodness for me.” Do this for as many negative thoughts as you can find. After a while, you will begin to replenish your negative thoughts with ones that actually serve you.
Just as spring cleaning can finally show us the holes in our wardrobe or our home décor, examining our negative thoughts can lead us to creating new ones that will nurture us through the year. There is a quote from Mooji that I love: “Step into the fire of self-discovery. This fire will not burn you, it will burn what you are not.”
I’ve always thought it a little funny that one day in March is considered International Women’s Day. Isn’t every day a day that we should celebrate women and all of the ways in which they are amazing, groundbreaking, and making the world a better place? In any case, this month inspired me to look at certain changemakers – who just happen to be women – and how we can model our own behavior after theirs. Studies have shown that certain traits make people more predisposed to success. Here are 4 lessons that we can learn from a few of the biggest changemakers on the planet:
Believe in yourself. Sara Blakeley, the founder of SPANX, had doors shut in her face over and over again as she tried to sell her control top creation. No hosiery manufacturer wanted to buy it. But she didn’t lose faith in her idea. In fact, she was even more motivated to succeed after seeing that most hosiery was being created by men – who don’t even wear it! Finally one of the manufacturers changed his mind, and the rest is history. Sara Blakely’s creation forever changed the hosiery market– and now is worth over a billion dollars.
Embrace adversity. J.K. Rowling encountered multiple stumbling blocks before the publication of the first Harry Potter book. She had to face the death of her mother, divorce and single parenthood, and financial deprivation – not to mention the rejection of twelve different publishers. Each of these obstacles on its own would be sufficient to waylay many of us. But she found failure to be a motivating force. In her 2008 commencement address to the graduating class of Harvard University, she talked frankly about how failure actually helped her. It stripped away everything that didn’t really matter, except the book she was determined to write and publish.
Be Fully Present. Oprah Winfrey (who also conquered a staggering amount of adversity) attributes her success to giving her full attention to everything she takes on. Whether it’s a television show or a magazine or running a network, she has learned to give everything her full-on attention, because with that comes “a level of intensity and truth,” she’s said. And when she tries to multitask? “It’s a joke,” she says.
Make peace with a lack of balance. Entrepreneur Grace Bonney interviewed over 100 female entrepreneurs and found that most have accepted the fact that work/life balance is almost impossible to achieve. A more realistic option? Accepting that different areas of your life will demand your entire attention at different times. And that this is okay.
When I was in my early twenties and heartbroken, I fell in love. I saw him in a bar and decided right then and there that he was the One. For a while, it looked like I could be right. It was a whirlwind romance, complete with a wedding proposal in Italy. Everything looked perfect. There was only one snag: he had a terrible drinking problem.
As the relationship began to unravel, I tried to stay positive. I planned our wedding, bought a dress, found a DJ. Finally, the night before the wedding invitations went out, I had a vivid dream. I was being suffocated. I woke up gasping for breath. I knew what God was trying to tell me: there was a way out….. if I wanted it. I ended the engagement. I was confused and angry. I didn’t know what the future could possibly hold.
And then the DJ called me up. We’ve been married now for 19 years.
This is what I call a “God shot.”
A “God shot” isn’t just a coincidence. It’s an event that bears the handprint of your Higher Power. When a “God shot” shows up in your life, you know that your Higher Power is working on your behalf, and two, that it is working according to a larger plan. God shots help shape our lives and get us to where we need to go. They divert us onto another career path. They lead us to the loves of our lives. They come in and shake things up. They are catalysts for our spiritual growth.
But here’s the rub: sometimes – actually, a lot of the time – they arise from disappointments. Getting fired. Getting cheated on. Getting divorced. Breaking an engagement.
Which can, understandably, make a “God shot” easy to miss.
We’ve all heard the adage: “Everything happens for a reason.” Perhaps not everything has a reason, but if we choose to believe in a benevolent Higher Power who wants only the best for us, we start to see that even a negative experience has the potential to yield a blessing. We can begin to reframe our losses and traumatic experiences. We can choose to put our belief not in chance and luck, but in something bigger than us that loves us and wants us to thrive. We can start to live a more spiritual life, whether or not we believe in “God.”
The next time we are confronted with something negative or difficult, try these exercises to see if it, in fact, may be a God shot:
Embrace the ugh. When something horrible happens to you, it’s normal to want to see the Universe in the same light. But see if your outlook changes when you ask yourself, “What can I learn from this?” If you can find something – anything – that may be a learning experience from this event, then chances are it’s a god shot.
Step Back. Try to see the bigger picture of your life, and where this event may fit. It may not be completely possible yet, but it will usually reveal itself over time. You may already have an inkling of what your Higher Power is trying to tell you. Listen to it. Reserve judgment until more has been revealed. It will be.
Everything is helping you. Simply choosing to maintain this belief, no matter how hard it may be, can do wonders. The truth is that nothing worth having is easy. Nothing. Setbacks and disappointment are not signs that something isn’t ever going to happen. It usually comes with anything worth working towards.
Keep a journal. If you really want to believe in a Higher Power, keep a journal, and then crack it open in five years. You’ll probably be amazed at how the hard parts of your life led you to people, places, and opportunities you would never have seen coming.
It’s a fact: we all want to be loved. To have connection. To share a laugh, or our day, or our lives, with somebody.
In the age of social media, connection is more prized than ever. But real person-to-person, face-to-face connection is becoming harder to come by. According to some researchers, loneliness has reached epic proportions and has turned into a health risk as dangerous as smoking and obesity.
One reason for this? Getting close to others is scary. Not only because it means possible rejection, but because becoming close to someone means we run the risk of being seen. Really seen. Our flaws and all.
This may not make much sense. After all, some of us love to be seen. But what we are showing to the world on social media is usually an edited, curated, and filtered view of ourselves. Even when we go without makeup or reveal “messy” details of our lives, we are always in control of the view. On social media, people are always at arm’s length.
When we are in an actual close relationship with another human being, we give up control. The other person is free to see us as we truly are. Through the inevitable ups and downs of relationship – the neediness, the arguments, the missed signals – we reveal our tender, awkward, sometimes less-than-flattering sides. We show that we aren’t perfect. We show that we may actually be a little weird and quirky. As we get to know someone, or even continue in a friendship that may be already decades-old, we in effect ask someone to accept us – over and over again. And we reveal ourselves to that person every time we see them, call them with a problem, ask them for their advice, etc.
We allow someone else to get to know us, our flaws and all, and what comes with that is something that can feel scary, or at best, uncomfortable. It is no wonder then that many of us may consciously or subconsciously avoid relationships just so we don’t have to experience this. For those of us already in relationships, we may be unwittingly creating distance and drama to keep our loved ones at arm’s length. If he or she actually knew the real me, they wouldn’t still be my friend/lover/spouse, we think. We jeopardize our closest relationships so that we can stay unknowable, and unreject-able.
It’s not all our fault. Some of us may have grown up in families where, if we were “seen,” we would be rejected, or at least criticized. If we were parented by narcissists, this “hiding in plain sight” was even a survival mechanism. We learned to get by in the shadows, keeping the real us obscured from view, even from ourselves. After so many years pleasing others, we may not even know who we really are. We may be suffocating from shame.
Most of us are aware that we have a “dark” or “messy” side – but because we usually hide that side, we can sometimes imagine it to be bigger and more powerful than it really is. But when we allow ourselves to be seen, we also release some of the outsized shame that we’re carrying around. When we share that side with others, and allow it to be looked at, it usually becomes much more right-sized.
Here are some exercises to do to practice being seen. Even if we have been married for years, some of us may still be “hiding in plain sight.” Here are some ways to come out into the light:
Take a bad photograph (and keep it.). Okay, this is a small one. But incredibly useful. Now that we have digital cameras and smartphones, when was the last time you took a bad picture? You probably can’t remember. The virtue of a bad picture is really two-fold: one, you realize that you can live through an unflattering depiction of yourself, and two, you realize that even the worst photo isn’t all that bad. So go ahead, stand in the worst light possible, aim at your bad side, make the silliest, goofiest, most googly-eyed face, and fire away. Extra points if you post it somewhere.
Make an inventory of your best qualities – and your worst. The trick here is to be as objective as possible. This can feel scary to do, especially if we feel that our “bad” qualities will outnumber our “good” ones. The surprise? You’ll probably find just the opposite. Seeing our “inventory” helps us own the entirety of ourselves and present that picture to others.
Tell someone a secret. Secrets get their power from the fact that we carry them around in shame. When something is a secret it usually has been inflated by the very fact that it is hidden. As soon as that secret is exposed to the air, it’s like a balloon that finally bursts. You are bigger than your secrets.