Monday, February 15, 2016

Deeper Self Understanding -- Part Two

Greater Self Understanding Leads to Greater Self Esteem 

Here's some great advice from Louise Erdrich, a best-selling Native American author of novels, poetry and children's books, "Never rationalize anything that feels wrong." 
Or, as Mario Cuomo, a former governor of New York and Presidential candidate remarked, "Every time I've done something that doesn't feel right, it's ended up not being right."
Both Erdrich and Cuomo recognize and grasp the importance of self understanding, particularly in relation to decision making.
It is very tempting to do things that do not feel right, especially when no one else seems to be around watching. Remember, however, that your spirit is constantly watching you and will cause you grief when you do not live up to its (your!) standards. 
As Griffin Bell, a former U.S. Attorney General, advised, "Always err on the side of doing right. You and only you are responsible for your ethics."
Doing right by your own standards is the surest way to maintain self esteem. 
And despite what others will say, there is absolutely nothing wrong with having a hefty amount of self esteem, even when this gives rise to the side effect of an enlarged ego. 
Additionally, nothing you ever learn, know or have is worth learning, knowing or having unless you know how to be proud of yourself.
As Dr. Nathaniel Branden, a Canadian psychotherapist and writer known for his work in the psychology of self-esteem wrote, "Persons of high self-esteem are not driven to make themselves superior to others; they do not seek to prove their value by measuring themselves against a comparative standard. Their joy is being who they are, not in being better than someone else."
Or, to put it another way, as Nido Qubein has, "Winners compare their achievements with their goals, while losers compare their achievements with those of other people."

This is why self-actualization is at the peak of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs pyramid. 

This article is excerpted from the Amazon top-selling personal development book Project You: Living A Determined Life, available in paperback and Kindle formats. 

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Deeper Self Understanding -- Part One

The key to self understanding is to be open and honest with yourself. 

In the previous Project You Life Blog post on Self Understanding (Part Two), we shared with you that self understanding will help you become and remain authentic. And, of course, you want to be authentic. 
Of course, you cannot be authentic if you do not know who you truly are. That is where self understanding comes in. Self reflection is the best school you will ever attend, and it is best that you become a lifetime student enrolled in this school.
Howard Gardner, a psychologist at the Harvard School of Education, differentiated between two types of personal intelligence:
interpersonal intelligence ── being the ability to understand other people and what motivates them, and
intrapersonal intelligence ── being an inward capacity to form an accurate, genuine and truthful model of one's self.
Gardner described the core interpersonal intelligence as the "capacities to discern and respond appropriately to the moods, temperaments, motivations, and desires of other people." He depicted intrapersonal intelligence as the key to self-knowledge with "access to one's own feelings and the ability to discriminate among them and draw upon them to guide behavior."
The key to true self understanding is to be open and honest during your reflective dialogues with yourself.
It is also important to tune out what others say about you. As the Trappist Monk Thomas Merton wrote in his book No Man Is an Island, "Others can give you a name or number, but they can never tell you who you really are. That is something you yourself can only discover from within."
Also, do not get caught up in thinking your job title, your possessions or anything else you associate with are the real you. In the words of Eckhart Tolle:
The most common ego identifications have to do with possessions, the work you do, social status and recognition, knowledge and education, physical appearance, special abilities, relationships, personal and family history, belief systems, and often political, nationalistic, racial, religious and other collective identifications.
None of these are you.
Understanding the true motivations behind your thoughts and actions will place you in a better position to do what is right (for yourself as well as for others) when confronted with options and alternatives.
Likewise, realize that material wealth and creature comforts will not define who you truly are. Nor will they determine who your children truly are. Yes, a comfortable childhood usually leads to a more comfortable life as an adult. No one is arguing that there is a need to live in abject poverty to "find one's true self." On the other hand, as Andrew Carnegie said, "He who dies with wealth dies with shame."

To determine if what you are doing is in line with your values, ask yourself "why" are you doing it? Why are you starting that new business venture or creating that new product? To make money? Fine. But is that what you truly value? Or is it to make a difference in people's lives? The latter resonates much more strongly for most, as it is in line with their true values. 

This article is excerpted from the Amazon top-selling personal development book Project You: Living A Determined Life, available in Kindle and paperback formats. 

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Self Understanding -- Part Two

Understanding Yourself Will Help You Become Authentic

The various writers, speakers and products of the self-help industry all have one theme in common ── every person can take responsibility for changing and building their lives. That's a great start, but what most of the strategies and ideas proffered have lacked has been guidance in helping their students and readers come to grips with their true inner selves.
They have been great at helping people improve their self images, build stronger egos, identify ways to motivate themselves, and design strategies for personal goal attainment. But what they usually did not provide were tools and strategies for developing a better rapport with, and deeper understanding of, one's spiritual self.
As the late Dr. David Simon, co-founder of the Chopra Center, wrote, "The self-image or ego is what we hold to be true about ourselves and what we want others to believe about us. Most people believe they are their self-image and, therefore, diligently strive to protect it. In defense of our image, we imprison our spirit."
Self understanding will help you become authentic and remain authentic in the large majority of your actions. And you want to be authentic. According to Dr. Simon:
Authenticity is an alignment between your beliefs, your desires and your choices in the world.
Desires change throughout the course of a life, but agreement between ideals, aspirations and deeds is key to a life of peace, happiness and success. When you act in ways unlikely to fulfill your genuine desires, you experience the inner friction of a life out of alignment.
Desires that are in alignment with core beliefs generate powerful actions. Like a wave that draws from the depths of the ocean, actions connected to your authentic self are more likely to manifest your intentions.
In his book The Ten Commitments, Dr. Simon goes on to explain:
Choices that are in alignment with what we know, feel and believe to be true generate a natural sense of ease and confidence. When we allow distractions to intervene between our core values and the choices we make in the world, our energy is depleted. These distractions become false idols that block access to the divine.
The two underlining principles of Dr. Simon's thinking on authenticity are straight-forward:
Being authentic means assuming the responsibility for writing the story of your life.
Committing to authenticity means taking responsibility for what you choose to do and what you choose not to do.
Chapter two of his book The Ten Commitments is devoted to the concept of "A Commitment to Authenticity" and is well worth reading.

This article is excerpted from the Amazon top-selling personal development book Project You: Living A Determined Life, available in Kindle and paperback formats. 

Friday, February 12, 2016

Self Understanding -- Part One

The more you understand yourself, the more you understand the world. 

Self awareness is like putting your foot into a lake to see how cold the water is. Self understanding is diving into the lake to see how deep it is.
The ancient Chinese philosopher Lao-Tzu placed great emphasis on self understanding. He wrote, "He who knows others is learned; He who knows himself is wise."
Self understanding enables you to plumb the depths of your own inner spirit, and to seek out amazing discoveries about yourself. You will likely learn a lot more than you bargained for, including lessons about life, spirituality, other people, love, faith, and many other topics.
Paul Coelho wrote, "The more you understand yourself, the more you will understand the world." And centuries earlier, Aristotle told his followers, "Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom." It is sad that more people do not understand the linkages between self understanding and universal wisdom.
The past three decades have seen a litany of self-help books, tapes, videos, CDs, DVDs, webinars, and live programs produced. In fact, the entire self-help industry went from start-up phase to maturity in less than 40 years. The foundation the self-help movement in the latter years of the 20th Century were these words from the 19th Century American psychologist William James: "The most important discovery of my generation is people can change their lives by changing their minds."
Ever since, self-proclaimed gurus, personalities and industry leaders have been trying to help people change their minds through "attitude adjustments" and "positive thinking." Unfortunately, the majority of them failed to educate their followers that you must first have a firm understanding of yourself before implementing their programs and advice, so that your mind and your spirit are not in continual conflict.

Perhaps this is because the journey of self awareness and self understanding is a difficult and long one. As Miguel de Cervantes wrote, "Make it thy business to know thyself, which is the most difficult lesson in the world." 

This article is excerpted from the Amazon top-selling book Project You: Living A Determined Life, available in paperback and Kindle formats. 

Monday, February 8, 2016

Self Awareness and Success -- Part 2

Knowing Yourself Creates a More Meaningful and Successful Life

Self observation and continuous attention to your feelings, emotions and thoughts are crucial aspects of your personal self-development journey. 
Through these observations you will identify your core strengths, areas for improvement and techniques for greater self control.
George Gurdjieff, an author and spiritual teacher of the early 20th Century, wrote, "Self-observation brings man to the realization of the necessity of self-change. And in observing himself a man notices that self-observation itself brings about certain changes in his inner processes. He begins to understand that self-observation is an instrument of self-change, a means of awakening."
When you awaken to your true self, you not only change your destiny, you grab control of it with two hands firmly on the steering wheel of your life. Your dreams become your reality. Your choices will be based on meeting your most important needs, leading to what psychologist Abraham Maslow described as "self actualization."
"A man must be obedient to the promptings of his innermost heart," wrote Roberston Davies, one of Canada's most distinguished men of letters. The first step, of course, is to have a clear awareness of what reverberates in your innermost heart.
As Maslow wrote, "A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself."
Do what makes you happy and that which sparks the passion within, and then you will be at peace with yourself.
Or, as George Bernard Shaw said, "Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself." That philosophy is at the heart of the Project You Life Journey and Living A Determined Life.
It all starts with self awareness. As Maslow stated, "What is necessary to change a person is to change their awareness of themselves."
As pointed out above, there are four parts to you ── your mind, your body, your heart, and your soul.
It is easy to be aware of your body and your bodily functions. You spend all your conscious hours, and even some hours of sleep, listening to your mind chattering away.
The hardest task, and the most revealing one despite the monumental effort required, is to be fully aware of your emotions and your spirit, for these form that inner self at the core of your personal universe.
By rising to this challenge, a more meaningful life awaits.

This article is excerpted from the Amazon top seller Project You: Living A Determined Life, available in paperback and Kindle formats. 

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Self Awareness and Success -- Part 1

Emotional Self Control Leads to Greater Success and Outcomes

While greatness does not automatically emanate from self awareness, those who have achieved greatness in any area of life tend to have a deep sense of self awareness. They have not passed themselves by without wondering.
On the other hand, perhaps greatness can be born through a highly elevated sense of self awareness. As Carl Jung wrote, "Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes."
Of course, self awareness is only one pillar creating the foundation for greatness. In the words of Lord Tennyson, "Self-reverence, self-knowledge, self-control ── these three alone lead to sovereign power."
Whatever emotional state you are in will dictate your behavior. This can be both a positive and a negative thing, depending on your emotional state.
By being aware of your emotional state, and thus giving you an opportunity to control this state, you prevent yourself from just having to accept and take whatever the world dishes out to you. 
You control how events and people impact you, simply by controlling how you feel and think about these events and people.
Here's what two people from opposite ends of the literary spectrum have said on this subject:
Nothing has any power over me other than that which I give it through my conscious thoughts.  ~Anthony Robbins
There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. ~William Shakespeare
 Your emotional and social states are closely tied together, for the emotional side of your life will be primarily (though not exclusively) created, developed and troubled by your relationships with others.
An inability to notice true feelings as they are occurring leaves you at their mercy. There is a crucial difference between being caught up in a feeling and being aware that a feeling is about to sweep you away through what Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence, aptly calls "an emotional hijacking."
As Goleman points out, emotional self-control, such as delaying gratification and stifling impulsiveness, often leads to greater success and outcomes.

This article is excerpted from the Amazon top-seller Project You: Living A Determined Life, available in paperback and Kindle formats. 

Saturday, February 6, 2016

The Dark Side of Self Awareness

We all have faults. Overcoming these is gratifying and satisfying. 

The flip side to the coin of self awareness is that none of us is perfect, or even close to being perfect. 
This means that practicing self awareness will reveal to us the numerous blemishes, inconsistencies, incongruities, and harmful tendencies that are an inherent part of the composition of our sentient beings.
Unfortunately, as M. Basil Pennington, the Trappist monk and priest who wrote over 60 books in the latter half of the 20th Century, penned, "In seeing ourselves as we truly are, not all that we see is beautiful and attractive. This is undoubtedly part of the reason we flee silence. We do not want to be confronted with our hypocrisy, our phoniness. We see how false and fragile is the false self we project. We have to go through this painful experience to come to our true self."
Remember, when you see the dark side of yourself, it is like looking at the dark side of The Force as depicted in the Star Wars series. Being aware of your dark side ── your human weaknesses and all other negative aspects of your character ── is the preliminary step in being able to control and overcome these.
Of course, overcoming any personal weakness is a particularly gratifying and satisfying feeling; one of the greatest sources of self esteem you will encounter. Aristotle obviously got it right when he wrote: "I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies; for the hardest victory is over self."
Those who do not win the battle with themselves become lost souls, empty of the self knowledge and understanding, and thus the passions, that make life worth living.
Additionally, being aware of your faults, flaws and weaknesses is also the first step in changing or modifying these. It's your choice ── you can either control these, or be controlled by them.
Likewise, you can continue to exhibit your faults and flaws, and suffer the consequences, or you can take action to change.
As Jim Rohn said, "Unless you change how you are, you will always have what you've got."
Rohn also gave this good advice: "You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself. That is something you have charge of."

This article is excerpted from the Amazon top-selling book Project You: Living A Determined Life, available in paperback and Kindle formats. 

Friday, February 5, 2016

Your Conscience and Self Awareness

Create a Strong Belief in Yourself and What You Want. Live in Harmony with the Universe. 

Your conscience plays a key role in your quest for self awareness. Some might equate the conscience to one's self awareness, but in fact they are two separate aspects of the inner self.
Self awareness is being conscious of your feelings, emotions and thoughts; whereas your conscience evaluates your feelings, emotions and thoughts and assigns judgmental scores or values to them.
For example, you may want to cry about something that has happened. Your self-awareness abilities will help you identify all the emotions, thoughts and feelings that are combining to cause the tears that are about to burst forth (a physical response to your mental, emotional and spiritual components). 
Your conscience, on the other hand, will judgmentally tell you whether crying in this instance is right or wrong, appropriate or inappropriate, if the crying should take place in public or privately, and the "correct" length of time allowed for the shedding of your tears.
In many ways, strong self awareness (and strong self understanding) requires an ability to keep one's conscience in check so that your true feelings, emotions and thoughts are allowed to surface unhindered. After all, if you want to cry, go ahead and cry. Why should your conscience prevent you from experiencing an innermost feeling? In fact, such inhibitions may be detrimental to the full development of your spirit (i.e. the real you).
Stephen R. Covey, the legendary author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, wrote in his later work First Things First, "One of the most powerful uses of self-awareness is to become aware of conscience and how it works within us."
As the Polish proverb goes, "Conscience is the voice of the soul." And in most cases you will want to listen to that voice.
But your conscience is, unfortunately, also formed by the lessons taught to you by your parents, teachers, societal rules, and the cultural customs, norms and practices in which you were raised.
As a result, your true conscience (that true voice of your soul) will at times be in conflict with the one shaped and formed by these other outside influences. This is when you know (instinctively and deep down) that something is not right, but that you cannot prevent or change it.
The more in tune you are with your inner self, and the closer you are to being driven by self actualization (refer to Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs), the less likely you are to compromise your principles or trample on your values.
Shame, one of the worst personal feelings one can have, arises from the fear or realization that one's actions have not been in accordance with one's true inner self. 
Do not be afraid to not live up to the expectations (or rules) of others. The rules and expectations of others are unlikely to power your dreams and desires. Instead, be afraid of failing to live up to your own expectations and to your own principles, values, morals, rules, and ethics.
Here are two quotes from Marcus Aurelius, the 2nd Century Roman Emperor, that reinforce these last two points:
You can change your beliefs so they empower your dreams and desires. Create a strong belief in yourself and what you want.
He who lives in harmony with himself lives in harmony with the universe.

This article is excerpted from the top-selling book Project You: Living A Determined Life, available in paperback and Kindle formats at Amazon. 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Define Yourself | Know Thyself

Living A Determined Life Starts with Self Awareness and Self Understanding

Know thyself

Those words, inscribed in gold letters on the temple of Apollo at Delphi, are probably the most important two-word phrase ever chiseled or written.
The Project You Life Journey covers 7 key areas of your life

Know thyself is a process comprising two critical elements: self awareness and self understanding.
This two-part process is a critical and decisive first step on the Project You Life Journey. Without it, the journey will not only be bumpier and off-centered, but will also feel unnatural, contrived and artificial.
Self awareness is a heightened sense of continuous attention to one's feelings, emotions and thoughts. Self understanding is being aware of your thoughts about your feelings, emotions and beliefs and mindful of the impact these are having on your contemplated, intended or actual actions. When combined and integrated, these elements lead to self definition.
As American actor and playwright Harvey Fierstein wrote, it is critical to "accept no one's definition of your life, but define yourself." 

This article is excerpted from our Amazon best-selling book Project You: Living A Determined Life, available in paperback and Kindle formats. 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Self Awareness | Knowing Yourself

Take Time to Pause and Know Who You Truly Are 

Self awareness is not about looking deeply within your internal chamber of secrets and hidden motivations trying to discover "your true self." It's quite the opposite, when done properly.
It should be an open, honest, candid, and on-going self observation of what drives you to take the actions you take, to think the thoughts you think and to feel the emotions that bubble up inside you.
Confucius described the process as: "By three methods we learn wisdom: first by reflection, which is noblest; second by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest."
People with high levels of self awareness have a clear and definite grasp of their own strengths and weaknesses, as well as an elevated sensitivity to observe what motivates, de-motivates, satisfies, delights, annoys, and angers them.
With a solid sense of self awareness, you multiply your predisposition to go after the opportunities that are right for you (by leveraging your strengths, values and inner motivational tactics) and minimize your chances of pursuing activities that are likely to have unsatisfying or potentially harmful results.
There are four parts to the self:  mind, body, heart, and soul (alternatively referred to as mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual).
Your mind never stops racing; never stops talking to you. There are times, of course, when a quiet mind would be an absolute blessing. Unfortunately, unless you excel at meditation this is not to be.
The mind and spirit are in constant battle for your body (and hence for what you probably think of as yourself). The mind tries to "talk" you into doing things with what appear to be "rational arguments." The spirit counteracts with "gut feelings" or emotional outbursts in an attempt to get its way. Neither is always right or wrong.
When you can see yourself as if watching a reality movie of yourself (i.e. not in a dream, but as if removed from your body), this is the perspective of the spirit. As Sri Ramana Maharshi said, "The mind turned inwards is the Self; turned outwards it becomes the ego and all the world."
Very few people seem to pause and consider who they truly are, or could be. Most seem too concerned with projecting a picture of themselves to the world around them, and then working hard to maintain this concocted (and sometimes contrived) image.
Years ago St. Augustine wrote, "People travel to wonder at the height of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars; and they pass by themselves without wondering." 
This is undoubtedly more true today than it was in his time some 16 centuries ago. And if it is true for you, it need not be any longer. The Project You Life Journey will help you to stop passing yourself by.

This article is excerpted from the top-selling book Project You: Living A Determined Life, available at Amazon in Kindle and paperback formats. 

Monday, February 1, 2016

Life Is A Journey. Enjoy The Experience.

Living A Determined Life Reveals The Best Within Us 

As you embark upon your own Project You Life Journey, here is a wonderful, motivating thought to keep in mind: some of the best days of your life have not yet happened. These will come when you start Living A Determined Life
Now, isn't this a great reason to get your Project You Life Journey underway right away? 
As Marianne Williamson says, "The purpose of our lives is to give birth to the best which is within us."
Your attitudes will exert tremendous control over your life. A positive attitude can be a very powerful force driving you toward your dreams and goals along your Project Your Life Journey path. A negative attitude, however, is also a powerful force, one that will work against you as long as it remains in place.
As you embark and continue on your Project You Life Journey, remember to be grateful to the people who assist you on your way, and to those who make you happy. These are the wonderful gardeners in our lives who make our souls blossom. The least we can do is to express our gratitude in return. 
Keys to a successful Project You Life Journey

After all, our hearts radiate an electromagnetic field affecting the moods, attitudes, emotions, and feelings of each person we encounter and interact with, whether we are conscious of this or not. As such, our souls would like us to radiate positive, optimistic, helpful, encouraging, and loving vibes to our fellow human beings, so that more of humanity can know and experience greater levels of satisfaction, happiness and contentedness.
And lastly, remember that, in the words of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, "We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done." 
As such, the only true judge of your life and the path you take can be yourself.
As you now delve deeper into the core concepts of Living A Determined Life, let your life be a true reflection of all that is beautiful within you, as you leverage these concepts to give birth to the best that is within you. 

This article is partially excerpted from the Amazon best-selling personal development book Project You: Living A Determined Life, available now in paperback and Kindle formats.