Archive for the ‘self esteem’ Category

Finding the Prize Inside

July 12, 2017

If you have ever opened a box of Cracker Jack, you may remember how fun it is to dig through the layers of whatever Cracker Jack is made of to find that little prize hidden somewhere inside!

We all have prizes hidden inside of us, too; talents we have not discovered, dreams that have yet to be fulfilled, and joy that is has been buried by layers of disappointments, fears, regrets, and lots of other negative stuff.

Obviously, the longer we live, the more experiences we have and unless we live in a fantasy bubble, there will be some unpleasant ones. But there will also be plenty of joyful times and it’s up to each one of us to decide which experiences we honor and keep in our hearts.

At some point, someone is going to hurt your feelings, say something unkind, or undermine your self-confidence. You will try something and fail. Your efforts may fall short. You can expect that you may meet someone along the way who doesn’t think you are wonderful. You may lose hope. That’s life and each disappointment gets you one step closer to the true abiding joy that can only come from deep within you!

It makes me sad to hear people say that they have given up on their dreams or that they can no longer find joy in life. Someone has convinced them that they have missed their window of opportunity for happiness and encouraged them to be more “realistic.” Too often, we fall victim to messages from advertisers, magazines, social media, and even people in our circle of friends and families. We believe the naysayers more than we believe in ourselves and we bury our hope and joy under layers of negativity and fear; they just stay hidden like the prizes in the Cracker Jack box….until we dig them out!

My style of Cracker Jack eating was always to dump everything out of the box and go directly to the little toy hidden in there. I think that may be a good strategy for getting to the prize inside of every one of us so we can enjoy our gifts and share them with the world.

You Might as Well Face it, You’re Addicted to Approval

February 18, 2016

seal-of-approval Do you remember the Robert Palmer song “Addicted to Love” which was popular in the 80s? If you don’t, then you are probably younger than most of my shoes. But I think of those words when I see people trying so desperately to please everyone in their lives. Just as with every addiction, the first step toward recovery is recognizing and acknowledging that you have a problem. You may be an approval addict if:

  • You have cultivated a hectic and unsustainable routine of pushing yourself to the limit in order to satisfy the demands of everyone in your life. You often fall into bed while still wearing your Super Hero cape.
  • You continually acquiesce to the desires of other people, for fear of rocking the boat. You haven’t yet understood that sometimes it is necessary to rock the boat a little, lest it hit an iceberg and sink!
  • You are not willing to draw boundaries for fear of making someone angry or causing them to dislike you. People often push you until you lose yourself, but you keep trying, justifying your willingness to sacrifice your health and well-being in the name of love or friendship.
  • You require the compliments and assurances of other people in order to feel attractive, smart, talented, etc. You need these assurances daily. You constantly check to see how many “likes” you are receiving.

Approval addiction is not rare; it is really quite common in today’s world. The truth is that many people have lost the ability to feel OK just being who they are and are constantly seeking validation from outside sources. Here are some tips for approval addiction recovery:

    • Try being a friend to yourself! If you don’t like yourself and are always looking to others for love, acceptance and validation, you will find it hard to feel confident and comfortable with who you are. Don’t always look for a “fix” to make you feel worthwhile. When you are addicted to approval, you find yourself constantly needing someone else to validate your worth; how you look, how smart you are, etc. It’s an endless cycle.
    • Remember that your opinions are just as valuable as anyone else’s. Stop second guessing yourself and being shy about what you believe to be true. Open your mind to other ideas and opinions, but don’t always assume that yours are wrong or inferior. And by the way, your opinion of you counts!
  • Accept that everyone is not always going to like you. For most people, that just doesn’t happen. There are a lot of people in the world and there are plenty who like you and some who won’t. Big deal! Other people’s opinion of you is their perception. If you are kind, authentic, and true to yourself, don’t depend on other people to define who you are. If people will only like you if you always agree with them and do what they tell you, guess what? They are not worth your time and energy!

 

  • Don’t outsource your self-worth. We all want to be liked and held in high regard, but the feelings of validation that come from outside sources can be short lived. Don’t hand over control of your confidence and self-esteem to anyone else. Do the best you can to be the best person you can be, but YOU decide who that person really is! Remember these wise words: You may as well like yourself, because wherever you go…there you are!

 

Please feel free to share this with anyone who may benefit from it, and comments are always welcome and appreciated.

Linda Henley-Smith is a speaker, trainer and author who believes that we all have unique gifts to share.

www.lindahenley-smith.com 

How to Find Your Porpoise

February 4, 2016

jump porp

Anyone who has ever taught in a classroom has a plethora of funny anecdotes about things that students said, did or wrote. One of mine involves an eighth grade student who chose, as his English class theme subject, the philosophical topic of finding and pursuing one’s purpose in life. The finished product came to me with the title, How I Found My Porpoise.

At first, I thought that his purpose involved a porpoise and he intended to pursue his porpoise purpose. I was rather looking forward to learning about how he came up with that, but then I realized that he had obviously misspelled the word…probably because he had waited until the last minute and no doubt had hastily finished the paper that morning before class.

I had to give him credit for choosing such a complex topic, since most of us spend a lot of our time trying to figure out what we really want to do in life. Trying to find your purpose; why you are here on earth, and what you are meant to do, can be confusing and frustrating. Even though you may have a genetic predisposition for a specific talent, sometimes it isn’t always as easy as just writing a mission statement and carrying it out.

First of all, there is a big difference in having a purpose and living WITH purpose! Don’t get too caught up in the word “purpose.” The best any of us can do is to live life in the kindest, most compassionate, joyful way we can! Although some people claim that they have always known in their hearts what they were meant to do, most of us find meaning in many different life experiences along the way. The way I see it is if you are here on earth, you’re here for a reason and sometimes you may never really identify one particular purpose!

But if you ever get stuck and wonder what you are meant to do, here are some tips:

Use your emotional intelligence. Check your passion! Purpose and passion are related so if you are extremely passionate about something, your emotional intelligence is leading you to move toward fulfilling one of your life’s purposes. If you are meant to do it, you’ll find a way.

Review your patterns. If you look back on your life and think about the things you have always enjoyed and to which you find yourself gravitating, you will get a pretty good idea of the things you hold most important.

Your purpose doesn’t have to be your job. What if your purpose in life is to be kind…to others and to yourself? What if it is to forgive…others and yourself? What if your purpose is to encourage and to be a mentor? Don’t think that because you don’t get paid to do something, it isn’t your calling.

Listen to your gut. You are smart. You know what feels right and what you are meant to do! Don’t wait for other people or circumstances to make decisions for you. You have the power to make the rest of your life the best of your life!

Live life with an exclamation point! The worst feeling of all is to be wishy washy and never be able to lock into any goals. We all want to live with an exclamation point and not a question mark! You can’t feel jubilant about everything all of the time, but your moments of exhilaration, curiosity, and contentment should outnumber your moments of boredom, frustration, or despair. When you are living on purpose, you feel a sense of harmony, satisfaction, comfort, peace and hope. If you are living with a porpoise, you are probably in the ocean. Lucky you!

Linda Henley-Smith is a speaker and life-mapping coach. www.lindahenley-smith.com 

Why Would You Want to Have Your Pants in a Bunch?

January 13, 2016

It seems that there is an abundance of negativity floating around these days! You hear people being snarky to one another and there are some who seem to treat complaining as an Olympic sport! They practice it daily and work to hone their negativity to gold medal perfection. Sometimes it even becomes a blaming and whining competition. People seem to be reveling in speaking their minds, with no filters…no matter who they hurt!

Recently, while sitting in an airport, I was struck by the conversations I was hearing all around me. I began to become aware of the number of negative words that were falling out of people’s mouths! Whether on the phone or in face to face conversations, there seemed to be a lot of toxic energy flowing. There was a lot of talk about stress and people explaining why their lives were not satisfactory. I even saw a really angry man pounding on the desk and screaming that the airline attendant behind it was messing up the week for everyone. Hmmm….he was crediting her with a lot of power to be able to ruin everyone’s entire week! My first thought was that she looked too small and quiet to be able to pull that off!

It started me wondering why we often choose negativity over being positive. It IS a choice, you know. We all have to decide how we are going to deal with whatever comes our way. You can be upset or disagree with a situation without spewing venom, so why do some opt for being negative? Does it make them feel better? There has to be some gratification derived from nurturing toxicity, or they wouldn’t wallow in it. Here are some possible explanations:

  • Negativity could be a result of feelings of frustration, jealousy or a sense of inferiority. If a person has low self-esteem, putting down or blaming someone else is a convoluted way of boosting his or her sagging ego.
  • Being cynical makes some people feel special and even “cool.” Think of the high school kid who was the smart aleck and complained that all the teachers were against him.
  • Some people just like drama! They either think it is entertaining or they like being the star of their own soap opera! If they can gather a receptive audience, they will perform.
  • Sometimes, a negative attitude can serve as an excuse for not participating in something that causes a person to face the possibility of failure.
  • Fear is one of the main factors behind a negative outlook. Some people become like animals who lash out when they feel threatened. Negativity can mask our fears and act as a camouflage when we think we’re going to be put on the spot. If we lay the blame on someone or something else, we can divert attention away from our own accountability.
  • Some use negative talk and action to create fear in others; possibly to gain a sense of control.

Most importantly, is the fact that many people just aren’t aware of the negativity they are exuding. They may attract other negative thinkers, but most other humans will run like ants from an ant hill when they see someone wearing the cloak of despair. As a matter of fact, I am learning that the best way to react to someone who has their pants in a bunch, is to just walk away.

I think it would benefit each one of us to regularly assess our attitudes and make sure that we are not carriers of doom, gloom, anger and angst! Negativity sucks the energy out of the air. You can’t fix anyone else’s attitude, but you can sure adjust your own! Don’t choose negativity because even if you get the results you want for a while…it will turn and bite you in your bunched up pants!

Linda Henley-Smith is a speaker, author and coach. Check out her website at http://www.lindahenley-smith.com

Aim for Progress…Not Perfection

December 1, 2015

In facilitating a recent workshop on personal development, I heard many in the group express frustration over not being where they thought they would be at this point in their lives.  They felt as if they hadn’t reached the perfection for which they had been striving and had fallen short of their goals. Wow, I can relate to that one! As the saying goes, “Life is what happens while you’re busy making plans.”

Seeking perfection is a lofty ambition, but chances are, it’s not going to happen…at least in the way we picture it in our minds. Real life takes time and sometimes we get side-tracked or things don’t fall into place quite the way we planned. But consider this: we are human and our imperfections are what make us perfect.

In my own endeavors, this is what I have learned: When I focus on making progress and getting better with every step rather than achieving perfection, I am happier and less frustrated. When you see your goal as a journey rather than an end-point, you get pleasure in every incremental improvement along the way. This doesn’t mean that you don’t always try your best; it simply offers a way to reach your goal in a healthier way. Expecting and demanding perfection of yourself 100% of the time is a prescription for frustration.

Many things in the world contribute to our belief that we must achieve perfection or we will not ever be worthy or able to fulfill our dreams. Take the advertising business, for example….we are bombarded with air-brushed beauties and surgically enhanced bodies in magazines, movies and on our televisions. Every time I see a Victoria’s Secret model, I want to wear a sleeping bag to cover up my imperfections! I think Victoria’s biggest secret is that not many real women with their original body parts look like one of their “angels” in underwear! Whether it is appearance, athleticism, financial success or anything else we hold as a goal, we are healthier and more balanced when we realize that if it takes us a while or even if we never reach perfection, the journey is the most important part because that’s where we learn.

We also deal with competition in most areas of life and we tend to focus on the end point rather than the process. When we expect immediate perfection rather than steady progress, we become frustrated.  It helps to remember that our struggles of today will be our strong foundation in the future.  Also, focusing only on perfection can sometimes inhibit creativity.

Most people who achieve perfect scores in any life event, have traveled a long journey to reach that end because there aren’t many shortcuts. When we are working toward something, we need to feel like we are on the road to somewhere and that we’re growing while we’re going. Those growth spurts take place through mistakes, failures and setbacks. They are a part of reaching goals, and perfection really doesn’t need to be the only prize! And actually….not achieving the goal of perfection could mean there is a greater destiny waiting to be discovered!

And finally….remember that imperfections are what separate the true art from the manufactured products!

Linda Henley-Smith is a speaker and coach who is full of imperfections! Her latest book is titled “Slightly Irregular Underwear…Sometimes Imperfections are Perfect!” http://www.lindahenley-smith.com

A Few Words About Forgiveness

November 19, 2015

I often write about forgiveness, so I’ll make this brief. Here is the thing: forgiveness is not for the person who offended, it is for the person who was hurt.

Today, I facilitated a workshop on recovering from betrayal and hurt. One of the main comments I heard was that people equate forgiveness with letting the other person get away with hurting them. This belief is a sure way to stay miserable!

Here is what forgiveness is NOT….

Forgiveness is not an emotion…it is a choice of will. And it is a wise choice for us to make because it frees us from reliving the past over and over again. Refusing to forgive gives power to our pain and eventually, it will weigh us down. We will become victims rather than victors.

Forgiveness is not about saying the words but still acting as if they were not said. When we allow our egos to get in the way, we subtly (or not so subtly)constantly remind everyone of how we were damaged. We are essentially giving  lip service to forgiveness, but we aren’t releasing the toxins of anger that will eventually eat us alive.

Forgiveness is not based on another person’s behavior. No matter what anyone else does, you must own your reaction.

Forgiveness is not allowing yourself to be abused or hurt again. It does not mean we continue being a victim.

Forgiveness is not excusing what someone did….it is refusing to allow their actions to destroy your heart and steal your joy.

Here is what forgiveness IS:

Forgiveness is giving yourself permission to let go of the bitterness while remembering very clearly your rights to healthy boundaries. In one sense, it is impossible to truly forget hurtful acts that have been committed against us. The phrase “Forgive and Forget” is really unrealistic. We cannot selectively “delete” events from our memory. But although we can’t forget what someone has done to us, we can try to live as if we don’t remember it.

Forgiveness is like setting a prisoner free and finding that the prisoner was you.

Forgiveness is a process.

Forgiveness is a clog remover. It allows the healing process to begin.

Holding onto anger and holding out for revenge is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die! It has been said that forgiveness of self and forgiveness of others are just two currents in the same river, both hindered and cut off completely by the dam of resentment. Once the dam is lifted, both currents can flow.

 

Linda Henley-Smith is an author, speaker and coach. Check out her website at http://www.lindahenley-smith.com

I Took the Road Less Traveled…Now Where the Heck am I?

November 3, 2015

                                                          country road

I was raised to take the safe path. Although I certainly wasn’t stifled in any way or discouraged from trying new things, I was taught to act rather conservatively when it came to trying new things or taking chances. There is nothing wrong with that, and most parents probably try to protect their children with the “better be safe than sorry” theory.

I heeded that advice for a while, even into adulthood and then I began to wonder what would happen if I stepped out of the box, climbed up onto the box for a better vantage point and looked to see what other roads were available to me.  I did just that and guess what? I saw lots of great opportunities and took advantage of some of them. And guess what else? At times, I fell off of the box and flat onto my face!  Things haven’t always gone the way I planned and I often find myself wondering where I’d be if I had taken the well-traveled and proven road. But, the bigger picture is that I usually end up counting the failures as successes because at least I dared to step out of my comfort zone and try something new.

But what happens when you take a new path and you end up lost or somewhere you don’t want to be? As I see it, you can become fearful, hit the panic button and stand screaming in the middle of the road; or you can use your wits and creativity to find your bearings, try another road and enjoy the journey!

It’s scary to make plans and have them go wacky! It can be disheartening when you think you’re on the right path and then a troll jumps out and scares you! There are roadblocks and detours and there will always be those who say, “I told you so” when you try something new and it doesn’t work. There might even be times when you wish you were back in your familiar territory because at least you would know where you were and it would be less lonely.

Every one of us has to make that decision for ourselves, but the older I get (and in dog years, I’m dead), the more convinced I am that when I am a little uncomfortable about a new path, but still willing to venture out; I know that I’m still alive!

Linda Henley-Smith is still traveling on unfamiliar roads and is still alive to talk about it! Check out her website at www.lindahenley-smith.com

Keep Going Even If Your Hat’s On Fire!

July 22, 2015

One of the most cited Shakespearean quotes is “All the world’s a stageand all the men and women merely players; they have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts.”

I have spent a great part of my life on the stage, in theatrical and operatic performances. Performing in front of a live audience sure prepares you for a lot that will happen to you in life! Anyone who has ever performed knows that there will be times when the unexpected happens. I have forgotten lines, popped out of costumes, lost hairpieces into the orchestra pit, sung the wrong lyrics and much much more! I’ve even caught myself on fire, which I will explain later. I have stared embarrassment in the face, and I have survived! This is why I feel that Shakespeare got it right when he said that we are all players on the stage of life. Real life experiences often parallel stage experiences. Here are some of the things I have learned:

Sometimes you have to have to jump through hoops to get where you want to go. I have been through lots of “cattle calls.” That’s when you stand in line with hundreds of other hopefuls; carrying your head shot and resume, practicing your vocal scales and keeping limber with knee bends, while waiting your turn to stand in front of a panel of people who often look at you like you are just another prize cow. Think ‘A Chorus Line.” I once did an entire audition for a director who was eating a sandwich and talking on the phone. When you are an actor, this is kind of a rite of passage. Most of us have to put in our time to get where we want to be. In real life, there are steps we have to take in order to achieve our goals and although it takes time and effort, perseverance is the key.

You don’t always get the part you want. There have been times when I was perfect for a role…at least in my head! Instead, I was cast in another part that actually turned out to be a better one for me and one for which I was clearly suited. Had I turned down that role, I would have missed out on a wonderful opportunity. I have experienced the same thing in real-time. Disappointments are a part of life, but we can’t always see the big picture. We tend to dwell on what we didn’t get, rather than to appreciate and make the best out of what we have.

Sometimes, you will mess up. Oh boy, have I messed up…on stage and off! After a mistake, I felt self-conscious and inept and I assumed that everybody was judging me. The thing is…most of the time, it was a huge deal to me, but nobody else really even noticed because they were focused on other things besides my mistakes. When goofs happen on stage, the audience rarely even notices the errors that the actors think are glaring, because they are having fun just enjoying the production. The truth is that when I messed up on stage, I finally realized that I was making it all about me! When I finally “got it” that I wasn’t always the center of attention, I felt rather liberated. The same thing applies to our mistakes in real life.

Expect the unexpected. In theater or in life, don’t ever think that you are in absolute control of everything! This was permanently etched into my brain the time I was performing in an opera, in which I wore a glorious costume complete with a much-feathered hat. There happened to be a candelabrum on stage, which was to be moved by my “lady-in-waiting.” As I reached for the high notes, I began to smell a strange odor which could only be described as burning feathers. I kept singing, but my mind flashed to bar-b-qued chicken, before someone threw a bucket of water on my flaming head piece. You can’t always be prepared for everything, because you don’t know what everything is! But life is never boring when you’re open to opportunities!

Keep going! Everyone is familiar with the line, “The show must go on!” No matter what happens, on stage or off, you have to keep going! There will be failures and disappointments and confusion and chaos…but that’s what makes a good show and a great life!

Three Habits of Highly Self-Defeating People

July 6, 2015

Most of us have read books informing us of the habits of highly successful people. We know that in order to be successful, we must program our minds for success and we also know that particular mindset doesn’t always come easily. I think it is equally important to know the habits we should NOT embrace. I call these the habits of highly self-defeating people.

  • Always compare yourself to others.  This is a great way to feel lousy about yourself! If you measure your every accomplishment against someone else, you will probably always be successful in finding some shortcoming in your own performance.  This is because you are NOT someone else and someone else is NOT you!  Every one of us has a unique personality, style and talent. Modeling a successful person whose accomplishments you respect is one thing but it is important to realize that you cannot live anyone else’s life because they are already living it, so blaze your own trail!
  • Always expect the worst and you will never be disappointed…and make sure you always panic.  These are trying times and everyone loves to talk about how we’re going down for the count! Watching the news will straighten your hair if it’s curly and curl your hair if it’s straight! You can’t pick up a magazine without seeing a headline about impending doom and it is getting tougher to muster up any optimism.  Now is the time to just say “no” to despair! Panic doesn’t help anything and it makes you look like a deranged squirrel. We attract what we most often think about so if we expect failure and angst to come knocking at the door, we will probably find it on our front porch. Maintaining an optimistic attitude doesn’t mean believing that everything will be rosy; it means entertaining alternate possibilities, fostering creative ways to meet challenges and being proactive in your own success!
  • Keep old feelings of past failure, guilt, fear and other bad things alive and in the frontal lobe of your brain at all times….and don’t forget the negative self-talk!  To maintain that fearful feeling of never being good enough, be sure to constantly conjure up and nurture your past woes. Right? WRONG! You cannot move ahead while looking backward. Don’t allow your mistakes to define your worth or dictate your future.  Fight the urge to relive the past. Get off of the hamster wheel that keeps you on the same track and take a different path with a different attitude! Refrain from reminding yourself daily that you do not deserve any good things and treat yourself with respect. Deal with the situations at hand, glean the good “stuff” from your past failures, do the best you can and don’t rent your brain cells out to negativity! Above all….don’t be your worst enemy! You may as well like yourself because wherever you go…there you are!

All the Sounds of the Earth Are Like Music

June 24, 2015

The opening song in the Broadway musical, Oklahoma, tells of the beginning of a day that promises to be beautiful. One of my favorite lines is “All the sounds of the earth are like music.” It reminds me that if we focus on listening to the positive things around us, the sounds can be glorious!

I am not discounting the horrible events that are happening in the world nor am I suggesting that we ignore them. But if we focus only on the hurt and anger, and don’t consider the positive aspects of life, we will start to see the world through bleak and hopeless lenses. Negativity breeds negativity. A kind, loving and hopeful attitude can help us to break that cycle.

When I am feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, frightened or angry, I have found that if I stop for a moment, move away from sound pollution (noise), take deep breaths, close my eyes and just listen…something magical happens. It as if my sense of hearing is heightened. Everyday sounds of the world around me become music. Sounds odd…I know. But you see, every sound that we hear has a tone. The law of music is working throughout the whole universe. A bird chirping, lawn sprinklers turning, the squeal of a child playing, even the wind blowing through branches…all become a symphony when we listen with a different ear. They are the soothing sounds of normalcy…the sounds of life.

People have been acknowledging this for years and years. You may have heard the phrase “Music of the Spheres.” Pythagorus was the first to theorize that the whirling planets produced tones. Today, musical terms appear frequently in astronomer’s descriptions of space. We may not be able to perceive all of these sounds with our ears, but the music is deep within us, and it is exquisite if we will just be still and listen. And we hear with more than our ears; we perceive the world with all of our senses. As Einstein wrote, “We all dance to a mysterious tune, intoned in the distance by an invisible piper.”

The wholeness of the universe is so much greater than what we see on the news. While we can’t turn a blind eye to what’s going on, we will be much more able to make a difference and contribute in a productive way if we take time to listen to the sounds that are good and life-affirming. When we do that, we can reenergize and refocus our thoughts and look at the world with fresh eyes and a new attitude.

It has been said that music soothes the savage breast, and to paraphrase Johann Sebastian Bach, the purpose of music should be to refresh the soul. How wonderful that it is all around us!