Challenge Old Beliefs – Feeding the Drive to Self-Actualize

The pandemic we find ourselves in has done more to upend our lives beyond health and economics. Staying occupied with thoughts of these two survival necessities has held us all captive to the internal strife within. Much like clinging to a 2-inch railing so we don’t plunge off a 60-story building. The obsession allows for little more. The result is a stalling of our true purpose – the drive to self-actualize.

It is important that we continue our progress despite our current state. I am not saying that you should disregard either your health or your money needs. These must be taken care of to maintain and support life. But when this is all we accomplish during the day, life grows stale. Without realizing it, we soon find ourselves fighting the inevitable listlessness that such striving produces.

The Road to Recovery starts now.
The Road to Recovery starts now. You’ll find beauty around the corner. (“Newfound Gap Road – Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN” by pvarney3 is marked under CC PDM 1.0. To view the terms, visit https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/)

Breaking free from the drone of lack, slack and indifference is no easy task. It takes courage, fortitude, and determination. It takes a strong-willed effort to move freely through the concrete bonds of apathy to return to full purpose and discovery. Sometimes we need a little push, a little emotional jumpstart.

It is my hope that this blog will give you that jumpstart. That here you will find help on your way back to the path you were born to take. To the goals you were meant to accomplish. To the life you were meant to live.

We will explore new ways of thinking, inspiration, encouragement, and guidance to life’s mysteries. Our topics will include self-discovery, mind-body connection, perception, critical thinking, emotional healing, and much more. Motivating insight and knowledge to personalize. Open-minded differences of opinion are welcome.

If you are ready to:

  • Take back your life from the clutches of disheartenment;
  • Start or restart your personal growth journey;
  • Boost your day with a shot of optimism;
  • Find solace in a community of like-minded folks;
  • Expand your insight and intelligence; or
  • Open your mind to a deeper understanding of the world in which we live . . .

. . . make yourself a promise to tune into this online journal for five minutes a week.

I hope to see you jump on board. I’m looking forward to our journey together.

Copyright 2021, Monica Nelson

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Five Reasons Why You Should Do Right when You’ve Been Wronged

The very human response to someone when they’ve wronged you is to fight back. In some way, to get even, to vindicate yourself, to make yourself look better, to save your pride. There are a multitude of reasons. But is this the best course of action?

Justice is a huge theme in our society. We believe so much in justice that we include it, in the same breath with liberty, in our nation’s pledge of allegiance. Justice is a hallmark, a cornerstone of our country’s foundation. Justice as an ideal is a wonderful goal. But reality shows us that there are many takers in the world, enough for everyone to experience a major wrong at least once in our lives. That doesn’t count the numerous smaller wrongs we experience every day.

I am not advocating that we allow ourselves to be taken advantage of. That’s an entirely different subject. But when the situation is out of our control, when there is no amount of assertiveness that will undo the wrong, do we seek out harm?

Vigilante justice can be more destructive than simply letting it go. Here are five more reasons to take the high road:

Escalating an Issue Only Makes Things Worse

You’ve probably been here before. You push back on someone who has taken advantage of you. They don’t like that you’ve pushed back on them so they push a little harder. You match their push-back, and they ramp up the belligerence. The vicious cycle continues until someone has to back down. If not, violence will be the result. 

Image: “LK Road-Wrong Way Sign” by meta_maria_hb is marked under CC0 1.0. To view the terms, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/cc0/1.0/

The Wrong Doer Get Justification

If you retaliate when you’ve been wronged, the person who committed the evil suddenly has an out for their behavior. You are just as bad as they are so they perceive their harm as justified. After all, you are both on the same level.

Revenge Will Only Hurt You in the Long Run

An act of revenge may give you a momentary high of justification. But that wears off rather quickly. Revenge invites another act of revenge, and you start looking over your shoulder. If you’ve committed a crime in your act of revenge, you must face those consequences. Then there is the remorse. You end up wondering if that momentary high was worth the continual lows of remorse.

Setting the Right Example

If you have children, or standing in the community, you will have people looking to you for guidance. Do you want your legacy to include bad behavior?

Turning the Other Cheek Builds Character

Self-actualization demands that we continually improve ourselves. Move up the ladder toward becoming the best that we can be. Character building leads us up that ladder. It takes a stellar character, patience, strength of spirit, and fortitude of mind to overcome primal anger and let go of an incident of wrongdoing committed against us. This requires a forgiving nature.

Taking that step further into forgiveness has monumental rewards. On outward appearance, it looks like forgiving someone is doing them a big favor. The biggest secret to forgiveness is that it has huge benefits for the one doing the forgiving, but little to none for the one being forgiven. Try it. You will be surprised how great you feel.

Human nature tells us to retaliate when we’ve been wronged. Choosing to confront and traverse that instinctual option in favor of a more ethical and respected stance takes courage. But there are good reasons to do so. Which choice will you make?

Copyright 2021, Monica Nelson

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

To Be or Not to Be — Agreeable?

From our earliest experiences, most of us learn that to thrive in any work environment, we must be pleasant to be around. No one wants to be around a grump. Or a jerk. We must be compliant, complacent, altruistic, and humble. Often that means swallowing our true feelings and stepping back. We may speak up to voice an opinion, but if it is shot down by someone of a higher status, we must capitulate. Sometimes it means allowing those in authority to take the credit for what may be our own stellar ideas.

This is what we’ve all come to believe is what it takes to be a “good” employee. We’ve come to believe that this is the way business is supposed to be run.

When I entered my undergraduate program, one of the tenets of my “adult, professional” program was the belief that higher education’s ultimate goal was to teach the art of critical thinking. The entire program was set around this premise. For those who are new to the concept, critical thinking is the process of analyzing and evaluating an issue in detail so that you are able to form your own true opinion. The idea was to equip students with the ability to contribute positive input to the working population. Using as many opinions and viewpoints as possible yields the highest return, therefore moving business and society forward.

Quite a disparity in practice.

Adam Grant’s 2×2 grid of the types of employees

Adam Grant, organizational psychologist and Wharton professor, has discovered what he promotes as the best employee – the disagreeable giver. Within his grid of employee types, he identifies this type of giver as the relentless employee, pushing for change when he/she receives resistance in return. This giver usually is cantankerous in his/her push for the greater good. But, if listened to, often can effect the needed changes an organization is able to use to improve its culture, productivity, etc.

This person, though, is rare. And with good reason. It takes a certain type of courage to push an agenda that may step on upper-level management’s toes. And it takes rare leadership to be willing to overlook personal pride in the name of the greater good.

The second-best employee is the agreeable giver. That would be the category most “good” employees fall into – going above and beyond what is asked of them and shutting up when they disagree with anyone on the corporate ladder above them. There are many, many of these employees.

The agreeable giver comes in second because even though that person is a giver (positive contribution), their lack of courage in making their good ideas known does little to none as far as moving the organization forward.

Does this premise also apply to outside of work? You bet it does. Recent political and social injustice issues have polarized our country. Two factions taking sides. You must belong to and support whichever side you choose. The common belief is that there is no third side, no in-between. There is only right and wrong, depending upon which side you take, each claiming the other to be the evil side.

Few arguments in life are so explicit. Few “sides” are so definitively right, or wrong. Most squabbles have basic truths underlying their branches. The key is to set emotion and bias aside in order to land on a solution acceptable to both. Then work toward that solution.

To solve the sticky and difficult issues we face today, we need disagreeable givers, not just in the workplace, but in life also. Those people who will employ a superior model of critical thinking, examine both sides with completely uncompromised analysis, and bring the full force of their creativity to light to find answers acceptable to both sides.

Then, and here’s the most important part of it, step into the fray to enlighten while taking flak from both sides. Disagreeable givers. Do you have the courage to be one of them?

Copyright, 2021, Monica Nelson — All Rights Reserved

For Survival Tips when becoming a disagreeable giver, see my LinkedIn Article.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Biological Alarm Bells – Three Steps to Defy Fear in Everyday Life

In my memoir, I wrote about an incident that frightened me so badly that I experienced a freeze reaction. It took place during the summer after I graduated from high school. Alone in the house, I lay on my bed reading a book that primed my mood to terror. In the waning light of the evening, my mood set to hypervigilance, the light illuminating the pages suddenly went dark. Gone with the light was any last fortitude my mind held onto.

My reaction was instant and uncontrollable. I hurled myself into the mattress and froze every muscle in my body. This automatic reaction lasted what seemed like an eternity. The reality was that it probably only lasted a minute or two before I was able to move my mind and body into action to investigate the situation.

Looking back on the incident, I can now laugh at the overexaggerated and outrageous response. But at the time, the panic was real.

Image: “Brick-moji: Fearful face” by Ochre Jelly is marked with CC PDM 1.0

We all experience fear in some form or another. Whether mild or life-threatening, fear plays a vital part in our survival. But when fear moves beyond helpful to nuisance or getting in the way, we need a plan to control it.

These are the steps I’ve found useful in keeping it under control:

Step One: Change Your Mindset

When we chastise ourselves for succumbing to fear’s aggressiveness, we give up our power. The first step you must take is to accept that you are doing the best you can at any given moment. Joseph Shrand, M.D., in his book The Fear Reflex, Five Ways to Overcome It and Trust Your Imperfect Self, calls this the I-M. When you are doing the best you can at this moment, in this situation, you are at your maximum. I-M stands for “I am at my maximum.”

After you have acknowledged this, you will find the will to find it easier to make changes. The I-M realization puts a practical perspective on your attitude. When you respect yourself, you regain your personal power.

Using that power combined with intention fuels your efforts.

Step Two: Massage the Biology

Fear is not only an emotional reaction, but also a physical reaction. It begins with emotional detection in the amygdala, activating stress hormones that trigger the fight-or-flight reaction in your body. Using calming techniques during normal times assists your body in lowering your stress reaction during intense anxiety and fright. Practice meditation, progressive relaxation, and/or deep breathing exercises daily. Be sure to get your exercise and physical activity in. Daily repetition reenforces the results.

Fears that arise from childhood issues or trauma situations may require the help of a trained therapist to help you confront or reframe certain fears.

Make it a goal to reduce fear, but not to eliminate it. Remember, fear serves a proper purpose in your life.

Step Three: Confront with Courage

Your final step is to face each fear with courage. Armed with your I-M mindset and daily fear reduction practices, you will begin to conquer those unnecessary fears that stand in the way of leading the life you deserve to lead.

Fear is a great tool for successfully navigating life’s ups and downs. But it is a tool that needs polish to be most effective. Use these steps to keep fear working efficiently for you.

For a deeper look at the fight-or-flight response in people who are emotionally responsive

Copyright 2021, Monica Nelson

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Absolute Need for Purpose in Your Life and Three Steps to Achieve It

Life. It’s free. But priceless. You can’t buy it. You have no assurance of how long it will last. So, it’s best to make the most of it. How do you use this precious gift?

Most people amble through life with little direction. An activity that leaves us empty in the end.

Drawing meaning from life is simple, albeit counterintuitive. It requires you to choose your contribution to the world around you, then pursue that contribution with purpose and intention. And it requires that that mission be an aim that benefits someone beyond yourself. Each of us has unique qualities, characteristics that coalesce into the contribution that only we as unique individuals can make.

Your first step then on the road to purpose is to define what only you can bring to the world.

Step One – Finding Your Purpose

Peter S. Temes Quote
Our choices and purpose

What is meaningful to you?

The barometer for this exists within each person. We have unique experiences that result in unique points of view. Within that unique perspective you will find your meaning. Your purpose will look different than anyone else’s. But it will include acts such as kindness, generosity, honesty, imagination, courage, caring, teamwork, thoughtfulness, consideration, giving of yourself for the greater good – the list is endless.

Search your inner soul. It will reveal to you causes that are meaningful. Activities that you enjoy. Passions that you can lose yourself in. These are the building blocks to your purpose.

Step 2 — Set a Goal and Spend your Life in Pursuit of that Goal

Your purpose demands a destination. Some examples are:

  • Setting up an organization to educate on the evils of global warming;
  • Creating a business where a certain percentage of sales go to a worthy cause;
  • Writing a book to point out a societal change that you feel must be made;
  • Devoting your life to the end of bullying.

You will need to set minor and major goals, steps to reach your objective. Your cause may or may not be fulfilled in your lifetime. If it is, that’s great – find more that can be done. If it isn’t, your work is not in vain. You will advance the cause so that another can pick it up.

Step 3 — Do Deliberate Practice

Getting your plan is easier than fulfilling it. If it requires adjustment, that’s fine. But remain on the course. That demands that you discipline yourself to stick with it. Adjust as necessary, with the focus solidly on your final intent.

Daily practice is key to your progress. Work your plan with focus, concentration, and drive. Do what is necessary to maintain your motivation.

To live a life of meaning, find the purpose you were intended for and work every moment to its fruition. Your legacy is your contribution.

Copyright 2021, Monica Nelson

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

When Your Best Isn’t Good Enough

We are surrounded by advice and expectation that all we have to do to succeed at any goal is to “do our best.” Follow a certain formula or step-by-step process and do it with your full attention and intention, and you will see your goal fulfilled. It’s a good presumption. And it works some of the time.

But what do you do when it doesn’t? When you’ve given your all to a project or solution, but it falls short. The formula for success looming at some out-of-reach height now turns sour. Taunting you with negative self-talk and disappointments.

Napoleon Hill Quote

That defeat can seem incredibly large and insurmountable. Spilling over into other goals and actions. Sabotaging your motivation.

We all tend to be harder on ourselves than anyone else would be. But take heart. There are measures you can take to overcome and get back on track.

Back Off on Your Own Criticism

No one is perfect. Yet this is the standard we all seem to set for ourselves. And when we don’t perform as we think we should, we back ourselves into the “I’m just substandard” corner. Followed inevitably by the worst criticism anyone could level at us. We are our own worst nightmare. Our own worst critic.

Why do we do this? There is no good reason for it. As if berating ourselves would change the outcome in some way. Or change us into the perfection marvel we aspire to. It won’t happen. And all we accomplish when we get down on ourselves is feeling worse about ourselves than before.

Stop. When you find yourself doing this, make a conscious effort to still the inner critic. Kill it if you can. It is not your friend.

Reframe Your Situation

Once you’ve silenced the inner critic, you can objectively look at the situation. As you do, remain flexible. Remind yourself that there is a reason for everything. Generally, that means something better if on the horizon. Remembering this helps to put the situation in perspective.

As you look at it, consider what might not have been optimal if you had succeeded in your original plan. Ask yourself some mind-changing questions:

  • How can I see this differently?
  • What assumptions and limiting beliefs do I need to change?
  • How can I turn this experience into something positive?

Gather the Lessons You’ve Learned from the Situation

Through the darkness, you’ll find light. The only way to learn how to move forward is to experience the future. We make the most of this when we learn from our mistakes. As we move forward, changing our behavior based on what we’ve learned from those mistakes creates momentum in the right direction. Making the same mistakes repeatedly leads nowhere.

When failure strikes, take an unbiased, analytical look at what went wrong. Talk to experts, research how you could’ve gone in a nonproductive direction, study alternatives. Get to the bottom of why your course went awry.

When you do your reframing, add this question to your analysis: How can I take what I’ve learned and grow from the experience?

Growth cannot happen without failure. The key to getting past it, is to turn off the harsh criticism, reshape the experience, and learn from your mistakes going forward.

One final note: Everyone has setbacks. How you deal with them shows the strength, or lack of it, in your character. Winston Churchill said, “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.” Use these steps to keep your enthusiasm strong. You’re worth the effort.

Copyright 2021, Monica Nelson

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment