- Do you look outside yourself for approval, love and self-respect? When someone says they approve of what you are doing or say, “I love you”, are you on top of the world?
- How do you feel when someone says they do not approve of you or they say, “I hate you” or call you names? Does it make you sink into a bit of a depression or start beating yourself up with negative self-talk?
There have been times in my life when I looked outside of myself for approval, love, and self-respect. I would look to other people to approve of me and when they did not, I was disappointed and sad. I wondered why they would not approve of me and became bitter and angry.
Then it hit me:
- How could anyone approve of me if I did not approve of myself?
- How could anyone love me if I did not love myself?
- How could anyone respect me when I did not respect myself?
I decided that I had to go within to find approval, love and self-respect and that when I had those things myself, only then could I be in control of my life and teach other people how to treat me. People were looking to me and my actions to know how to treat me. That’s right you teach people how to treat you by how you treat yourself.
When you look outside yourself for anything that contributes to your happiness you are giving your power away to others. Have you ever been driving to work and someone cuts you off in traffic? What was your reaction? Did you get pissed off, angry and maybe even a little indignant? Did you let it ruin your day? If you did, you gave a stranger the power to make or break your day.
Think about how it would feel to be the one that controls your live and how you feel. Would you be a happier person? I know that when I gave other people control over my life I was disappointed, angry, sad and resentful a lot. Happiness was not even on my radar.
I did not start out that way. I was born a very happy baby. Somewhere along the way I transferred my happiness from within to without. I let everyone, every situation, every comment determine my happiness and people disappointed me over and over. Enough is enough. I wanted to have control over my happiness and stop giving people power over my life and my happiness.
How does one begin that process? Wayne Dyer said something that changed everything for me. He said, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” Say what? Just by looking at people, situations and events with fresh eyes I could see things differently.
Let’s take a look at this closer. You probably have two friends that would react differently to the same situation. For example, a woman is walking to her car with a bag full of groceries when someone runs into her and as a result she drops her groceries on the ground. Oranges and apples go rolling everywhere. Other people in the parking lot start picking up her groceries and make sure she is OK. One person might view this situation and think people are rude and disrespectful. Another person might view this event very differently. She might see all the people coming to the woman’s aid as kind and generous. Why the different reactions?
It all comes from how you view the world.
- Do you see the world filled with possibilities or do you see it as a place that is filled with limits?
- What are your expectations? If you expect for things to go wrong, they will. If you expect for things to go right, they will.
It sounds very simple, but it is how it works. I have experienced it many times in my life.
Today I went to the Secretary of State’s office expecting that I would be in and out of there relatively quickly. When I arrived the line was out the door and the office had not even opened yet. I could have looked at that and thought, “oh my, looks like I am in for a long wait” or I could have thought “this line will move quickly”. I chose the second thought and when I checked in, the number I received said I would probably wait 54 minutes. Actually I was only there 20 minutes with a smile on my face. Someone who thought the previous thought probably waited much longer.
You get to choose how happy you are, how things will turn out, whether you are angry or filled with possibilities. Whatever you choose, you are right. Here are 5 steps to help you take control of your life.
Step One – Start your day with gratitude. Gratitude even when it looks like rain will change everything. I take a gratitude walk every morning along the Columbia River. It is gorgeous! I list everything I have to be grateful for. You can wake-up in the morning and hug your bed and tell your bed you are grateful for a great night’s sleep even when you did not sleep well. It will energize you. Be grateful for the beautiful flowers and wildlife you get to witness each day. Be grateful for your legs that carry you from point A to point B. Be grateful for the love of your spouse and the love you have for yourself. You can be grateful for anything in your life. Gratitude can take what you may think is a bad day and turn it into a good one. Gratitude releases endorphins into your blood stream and increases your energy.
Step Two – Change your focus. If you are focusing on what’s not working, start focusing on what is working. This may be difficult if you think your day is so bad there is nothing good to focus on. Reaching deep to find the one thing that is working will open your eyes to other things that are working and before you know it you will see more things that are working and you will be energized. Focusing on what is not working drains your energy. Focusing on what is working energizes you.
Step Three – Have a mantra. I like to use the ‘love’ mantra. If people around you are getting all bent out of shape and spiraling into a negative hole, just start saying ‘love’ over and over in your head. This does two things. It keeps you focused on love and there is nothing better than love. Second it helps the people around you become more calm and loving. What mantra will help you stay positive and filled with possibilities?
Step Four – Avoid drama. You most likely know people in your life that thrive on drama. Every little thing is blown out of proportion. Do you notice how tired and sad they are all the time? If you get sucked into their drama you also get tired. Instead remove yourself from the drama. Refuse to participate. Just smile and let the drama roll off your back like water rolls off the back of a duck. Next time you are in a meeting where one person brings drama to the table, be an observer and watch how others hop onto his/her drama train. You will be surprised how the energy of the meeting starts to tank. You can change everything by asking everyone, “Let’s focus on one thing that is working.” That will first change people’s focus and second it will take the energy of the meeting out of the tank and into possibility. (Check out 3 Fool-Proof Ways to Create a Drama-free Life.)
Step Five – Regularly take 2-5 minute mental breaks to get centered. When you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, negative or angry you will notice that you start to feel tired. This is not a sign that you need another cup of coffee. This is a sign to stop, push yourself away from your desk, close your eyes and take 5 deep breaths. That will change everything for you. You will start to feel calmer and able to focus better. This will keep that tired feeling at bay. Do not push through it unless you want to feel tired. Stopping the cycle and centering yourself makes you more productive and creative. It helps you see solutions you cannot see when you are spiraling out of control with negative emotion.
- You and only you get to decide if you are going to control your life or if you are going to give that control to other people.
- You teach other people how to treat you by how you treat yourself.
- When your happiness, approval and self-love comes from within you, you radiate all those traits and people will want to treat you the same way.
Now that you know this you get to choose who controls your life. Will it be you or someone else? Which one of these steps will help you take control of your life and your happiness? Leave your comments below!