Talk to Yourself

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Top 10 Things to Say to Yourself

Many of the things we say to ourselves we wouldn’t dream of saying to another person. We blame, shame, call names of the meanest sort, nag, belittle and bully ourselves through self-talk.

What if, instead, we were gentler with ourselves? What if we asked ourselves questions and listened to the responses? What would it be like if we treated ourselves as we would treat a best friend, someone we love dearly? Here’s a Top 10 list of loving things to say to yourself.

  1. What do you feel? Asking ourselves what we feel can help identify and put names to our emotions. To listen for the honest response is like taking our emotional temperature.
  2. What do you need? A need is different from a want. Whereas a want states a desire, a need is usually a statement about nurturing. Pay attention to your needs, they’re about caring for yourself.
  3. Good job. Congratulate yourself on a job well done whether it’s mowing the lawn, completing a work project or cleaning the bathroom. Give yourself a verbal pat on the back.
  4. I apologize. Saying “I’m sorry” for all the wrongs we have done ourselves—for being self-critical or breaking promises, for example—can be the first step in healing.
  5. Let’s play. Lighten up and be playful. Listen to what comes up when you suggest play.
  6. Breathe. Reminding ourselves to breathe helps relieve tension, gives us that moment we sometimes need to center and ground ourselves.
  7. I forgive you. Sometimes it’s easier to forgive others than ourselves. Yet, to have closure and to move on, we may also have to forgive ourselves.
  8. Let go. Releasing worries, resentments and fears loosens the grip of resistance and makes room for growth.
  9. Be present. Staying present, being aware of the physical, acknowledging the moment—this is when we are truly alive.
  10. I love you. We say it to others, why not say it to ourselves? Say it again.

How to Go from Stuck to Action to Empowerment

If you’ve ever been stuck in a rut of inertia—in business or in life—you know the sense of helpless futility that seems to take over.

You want your business or life to change, but you feel powerless to do anything about it yourself. You may find yourself constantly making plans to improve these areas, but never quite get around to taking action because it seems so intimidating.

Though taking action might feel intimidating and frightening, it’s also a secret weapon you can use to empower you and make you fierce! If you learn to use it effectively, it can provide the fuel to keep you moving forward toward more fulfilling circumstances.

When you do this, you realize that there was never anything to fear in the first place, and you’ll quite possibly never get stuck again. Below are three simple steps that show you how to get started:

  1. First, be sure you understand that your business and life is the way it is right now because of your hesitation in taking action.This is important, because you’ll understand the importance of moving forward no matter how anxious it makes you feel at first.Then, decide on one action to take to get the ball rolling. Think about your business or life right now, and ask yourself which situations you want to change first. You might choose your relationships, health, financial situation, business networking or anything else that makes you feel powerless and stuck. Then think about one simple action you can take to inspire some positive change. It doesn’t have to be a huge action, just SOMETHING to start building momentum. It’s time to become fierce!
  2. Once you’ve decided on your action step, you’ll have to push yourself to take it no matter what.This may seem incredibly difficult or even scary, but remember that most often the things you fear are not going to happen. In fact, you may not even have a clear reason for feeling scared—you’re just afraid of the “unknown.” Give yourself a pep talk or push yourself in any way you have to in order to move forward at least a little bit. After you take that first step, be sure to let go of any expectations of the things that will happen because of it, and allow yourself to feel great simply because you did something about it.
  3. Repeat with the same step and/or others.Once you’ve taken one step forward, you’ll need to keep pushing yourself to take others. Consider this: even if you take a hundred small steps in a month, you’ll be putting forth positive effort to make changes in your business and life, which cannot help but bring about better circumstances.

The good news is that taking action quickly begins to build momentum. Just like chronic non-action can create a cycle of negativity and stagnation over time, being proactive can create a positive cycle that continues to grow. It gets easier the more you do it, which eventually makes it seem almost effortless.

Quiz: How Well Do You Handle Failure?

Because we are human, we cannot help but fail. We make mistakes at work. We lose relationships. We parent in ways we later regret. We fail to win or succeed at all we do.

How we handle these failures makes all the difference in the world to our ability to learn and be effective in our work and personal lives.

Take the Self-Quiz below to see how you tend to handle failure.


Set 1

  1. I make realistic (safe) choices about what to do. If I’m unsure whether I can succeed at something, I don’t do it.
  2. I feel so ashamed after losing a job that I can’t bear to see colleagues from that workplace again.
  3. If I fail at something, I give up and take it as evidence that I’m not “meant” to do that.
  4. I gave up thinking about what I want long ago, because I know I’m never going to get it.
  5. I’m better off by myself; experience proves that I’m a failure at relationships.
  6. I act as though failure means nothing to me. I don’t want people to see my pain and humiliation.
  7. Failure does nothing but point out my deficiencies and flaws. I do everything I can to avoid it.

Set 2

  1. I work hard on self-forgiveness after failing at something. I replace “if only…” with “next time…” so that I keep focused on the future.
  2. I know what I want, and no failure will stop me from getting there.
  3. I expect to make mistakes. I incorporate the possibility for failure into everything I do so that I’m not devastated when it happens.
  4. I may feel inferior and humbled when I fail, but I use that to point the way to where I need to change or grow.
  5. I try to see the humor in a situation. It helps me accept failure with more grace and self-acceptance.
  6. If I’ve made a mistake, I take responsibility for it and work to fix it. Guilt doesn’t become part of the equation.
  7. Rather than beat myself up for failing, I get curious. I reflect on the experience and ask myself questions such as: What have I learned and gained? How can this failure serve me? What am I really trying to accomplish?

If you answered true to more questions in Set 1 than in Set 2, you are missing excellent opportunities to learn from your mistakes, improve your feelings about yourself and live more courageously. These lessons allow us to retain hope and the instinct for joy, and make us better prepared for life’s journey. Please call if you’d like to explore your response to failure. 

Optimizing Your Life Energy

As the author of more than 30 books, including the bestselling series Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, Dr. Richard Carlson helped millions of people create lives of greater peace, connection and caring by focusing on the more important things in life.

The last chapter of one of his books is titled “Live This Day As If It Might Be Your Last. It Might Be!” Ironically and sadly, Carlson died unexpectedly at age 45 on a plane flight to New York.

How better to drive home his point?

We really don’t know how long we have in this life. Yet, we spend so much of our life energy mulling over what’s in the past or worrying about what the future holds. We get caught up in the minutia of life, losing sight of the bigger picture of what’s actually important.

How much energy would we free up by living more in the now? How can we optimize the time we have? Here are some ideas:

Clarify your values and create a personal mission statement. The clearer you are about what’s deeply important to you (your values) and who you are at your core, the more likely you will succeed in living your life “on purpose.”

Your mission statement is the guidepost for knowing if you’re going in the right direction and provides information to put you back on course if you’re not acting in alignment with your values and mission.

Let the past be in the past. How often do you spend living in the past? Do you re-live old memories over and over, or think of clever things you should have said? Do you wish things were like they were in the “good ol’ days?”

Whether it’s letting go of your anger at the driver who cut you off just this morning, or regretting the loss of your first love, living in the past keeps you from fully experiencing your life right here, right now.

Release worrying about the future. Mark Twain said, “I have been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.” So much of what we worry about never happens, yet we spend countless hours and huge amounts of energy battling future problems.

Notice how much time you spend in the future and gently remind yourself to return to the present. What action can you take right now that will move you forward?

Keep things in perspective. It’s usually our attachment to things being a certain way that leads to frustration. Practice accepting “what is” if you want to experience a greater sense of peace. Everything that happens is our teacher.

We might not have chosen each of our lessons, and don’t necessarily have to enjoy them; however, if we choose the perspective that things happen “for us” and not “to us,” life will be a much more growth-filled, joyous ride!

Taking Action to Conquer Your Goals

Almost all of us have goals in life we’d like to reach, but many of us fail to see them through because we lack knowledge about how to get our most important goals out of our head and into reality.

Don’t let your goals become the kind that never happen. Follow these step-by-step instructions to create goals—and then the actions needed to realize and complete them. By following this plan, you will be more apt to succeed at meeting your goals in your business and in your life.

  1. Write it down. Many dreams are forgotten because we neglect to put them on paper. One day we’ll say, “Oh, yeah, I wanted to do that when I was younger.” No one says that you have to pursue all of the goals listed on the paper, but if you do choose to work towards some of them, you’ll remember what they were in the first place. One effective way to do this is to make your list of goals within a journal so that you have space for writing other lists that pertain to these goals as you work towards their completion.
  2. Make a decision about the goals you’ve written down. Each goal has possibilities and difficulties. Begin a list of the pros and cons of each goal you wrote down in Step 1. This will help you narrow down your choices. Those with too many cons may need to be omitted from your list or at least moved to another list for now.
  3. Are these goals for me? Now that you’ve narrowed the list of possible goals, how do you feel about each one? Take the time to list your feelings about the goals remaining on your list. Be sure to list positive thoughts, as well as any misgivings you may have. Decide which goals have priority now.
  4. Create a plan for the goals. This goes for every goal, even if it won’t be pursued right now. Five years down the road, you may want to think about a business expansion or writing a book. When it comes time to look at this goal, you will already have a plan for achieving it. Each plan can be for a long-term or short-term goal. If plans for different goals mesh together, more than one goal can be pursued at a time. It might be side, especially if this is your first time seriously working with goal planning, to focus on one or two goals right now and revisit the others at a later time. It’s always better to achieve goals in sequence than never reach any of them.
  5. Divide and conquer in manageable steps. It’s easy to become overwhelmed when thinking about the big list of tasks required to complete a goal. Starting a business, for example, is a commitment of both finances and time. Remember, everything doesn’t have to be done all at one time. Steps or milestones allow for smaller goals to be achieved on the way to the bigger one. Outline carefully the significant points along the way to your goal.
  6. Get moving. The hardest part is over. You have taken the time to put a plan in place and pursue the dream that may have lain dormant for years. Start with Step 1 and work your way forward.

Taking action towards a goal does not have to seem overwhelming if you take the time to decide which goals are worth going after, plan the steps necessary to get to the desired result and simply get going with those steps.

Before any goal can get off the ground, it needs a direction and a plan. Once you have the direction, it’s just a matter of checking things off your list until they are complete. Take things one step at a time and you’ll reach the finish line before you know it.