New Beginnings, Self-development

Does the Limit Really Exist? (How to Realize your Endless Potential)

I’m sure we all recognize a Mean Girls GIF when we see one. What an awesome part in the movie, right? Cady answers the final question correctly in the math competition, and her high school mathlete team takes home the title!

But that’s not the important part. What’s important is what comes right before she answers the question. Cady approaches her competitor, Ms. Caroline Kraft, who “seriously needed to pluck her eyebrows” and wipe the cheap lip gloss off her front tooth.

Mean girl's character, Ms. Caroline Kraft

But then Cady immediately recognizes, making fun of Caroline Kraft wouldn’t stop Ms. Kraft from answering the math question correctly. And it was at that moment that Cady realized, “all you can do in life is try to solve the problem in front of you.”

Then that’s when she says it… “The limit does not exist!”

No Limits, No Worries

Hiker achieves her goal by climbing to the top of a mountain.

Think about your goals. Maybe one of them is to run a 5 km race in a time of 20 minutes. The “problem” you now need to solve is “how do I run 5 km in 20 minutes?” And the obvious answer: train.

So you train hard for 3 months and end up reaching your goal – woohoo! But then what…? Well, option (1) you maintain the same training methods to maintain a 20 minute time for next race; or option (2) you give yourself another problem to solve – you decide to crank your training up a notch and shoot to make a time of 19 minutes and 55 seconds for the next race.

Long distance runners in a track event.

That’s what I love about being limitless – once you reach a goal, you can push harder to reach a more difficult goal. You are completely capable of getting out of your own way, and working to solve the new problem in front of you.

And if you are ever doubting yourself, remember this phrase:

“You can do anything!”

…wait, what!? You think that’s a cheesy and unrealistic statement?! Hmmm… I think not.

Maybe that statement is just a fact. Maybe the problem is you don’t believe in yourself enough to understand that fact as true.

Well I think it is true. What’s more, I think that if you are a human being, the improvements you can make everyday and the problems you can solve everyday are limitless.

Your Limit Does Not Exist

What do you think it means to be limitless? And in what sense can a human being truly be limitless?

Let’s break down the answers to those questions:

To be limitless is to recognize who you are today, and then recognize that you can be so much more tomorrow (and more the day after that, and more after that … you get the picture).

Now in what sense can you be limitless? Well that answer is interesting for the following reason. You see, most people immediately answer the question with “we have limits because we are human”. Most people think, because we are human, we just can’t do certain things (for example, flapping our arms so hard that we fly, or growing a fury coat to keep us warm in the winter). However, an answer like that tells me you don’t truly understand the power of being limitless; because an answer like that simply focuses on physical abilities.

So to answer my earlier question: we are limitless in the sense of our mental capabilities, not our physical abilities.

The Proof is in the Pudding

Think about every time you trained or studied for something. If it was a race, maybe you achieved a personal best time. If it was a test, maybe you got a 90% and scored the highest in the class.

Whatever it was, you were successful because you worked hard.

Now here’s something to think about: what if you worked harder? What if you used your capabilities to take you further next time around?

Let’s start with the example of writing a test. “Hold on Ella! I have no plans on taking the EXACT SAME test twice. So then how can I tell if I’ve pushed myself to new limits the second time around?”

That is a valid question.

But you have to remember, your limitless potential has nothing to do with answering a multiple choice question correctly, and EVERYTHING to do with HOW you go about answering that question.

Think about it, even standardized tests like the MCAT, LSAT, and SAT use a variety of questions across each individual test. But what is similar for each test is 1) knowledge testing 2) analytical testing 3) and communication testing. So if you focus your studying to improve those 3 areas, it is likely you will improve your test scores regardless of the questions being asked.

So let’s say you want to read test questions quicker. If you simply physically try to read as fast as you can, you probably won’t see much improvement. Alternatively, if you use your mental capacity to research ways to read faster and implement them on a daily basis (ex. using your finger to guide you as you read), you will start to notice improvements.

Think about the hundreds of thousands of people who, over history have said, “I have no idea how to do this”… and then thought and thought and until they figured that sh*t out!

Think about all the athletes in history who have set world record after world record. It seems there is always a new and better way to train.

Whether it was Einstein, Napoleon, Federer, or Musk all those people had to use their mental capacity to solve their problems.

So if you want to take advantage of your limitless potential, you need to be able to think your way out of difficult situations.

Defy the Odds

Can you picture your limit? Can you aactually visualize a moment where you are working hard but cannot work any harder?

If you just said “yes”, you are limiting yourself! Here’s the thing about being limitless: potential exists in the future and limits exist in the past.

If you can visualize your highest potential, you believe there is an end point. You believe there is a point you will reach and never be able to move past.

So if you want to visualize your highest potential without turning it into an end point destination, here’s one of my absolute favourite tips:

Your highest potential is just a dust door.

So if you hit that 20 minute record in the 5 km race, in that moment you might believe you reached your highest potential. But as soon as you knock on that door, POOF it disappears!

And once you have no door in your way, you continue to set more difficult goals. You continue push yourself to a new level because you are thinking smarter not harder.

That’s why the #YearofYou mantra is so powerful. Because it truly embraces the power of being limitless. Each day, you can truly take another step toward making the next 365 days the best you’ve ever experienced.

So as always, I hope you have a happy Monday, and don’t forget to make this the #YearOfYou!

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*Disclaimer: I am not a medical or mental health professional. Any information and content on my website is not a substitute for professional advice.*

Self-Discipline

Societal Pressure Does Not Exist … 🤔

“Society pressures us to go to university.”

“Society pressures us to buy name brand clothes we can’t afford.”

It’s crazy to think I’ve been telling myself those lies until just recently.

What’s even crazier is that those statements only become true if you allow them to be.

I understand that mainstream media portrays a certain way of life which seems ideal. And I understand that impressionable children and young adults can be feel swayed toward living their lives a certain way.

But what I don’t understand is why people equate being pressured, with pressuring themselves.

The truth is, we create pressure. It is something which manifests as a result of fear. Fear that we won’t find friends, fear that we won’t make an income, or fear that we’ll lose a relationship most commonly including the love of our parents.

A young adult feeling pressure about which major decisions to make in life.

Unless you are under some sort of duress, you probably aren’t being forced to make major life decisions. [Note: This article assumes “decisions” are ones that do not cause harm to you or others]

And I know you’re probably pissed because you don’t want me to tell you to be responsible for your own decisions. And you’re probably thinking about all those times society or your parents pressured you into doing something… Well I’m here to prove you wrong.

False Assumption #1 Other People Care About Your Decisions

They don’t care. In fact, nobody cares more about you, than you.

I’ve personally made major life decisions thinking they would satisfy other people, and then as a result, I would be satisfied. Guess what happened?…no one ended up satisfied! So the reality is, unless you make decisions to satisfy YOURSELF FIRST, you’ll never be satisfied.

Nobody cares if the logo on your shirt says “Old Navy” or “True Religion”. And if someone does make a snarky comment about it, they themselves falsely believe people care about material items. In addition, nobody cares if you’re a plumber, or a professor, or a YouTuber. People just ask each other about that shit because it’s a great way to make conversation. Your career and your life are you business. And if somebody else wants to make those things their business, then you need to ignore their opinions.

“But Ella, I’m 17 and I feel so much pressure from my parents. And I KNOW they care about me!”

That is a tough situation, especially since your parents probably do have your best interest at heart. I know lots of you have probably felt pressure and a result of your parents’ words or actions.

But, at the end of the day, just remember that you are your own worst enemy.

YOU put pressure on yourself as a result of not wanting to lose your parents’ approval. And although your parents probably have your best interest at heart, when you hit 18 and have to make major life decisions, you need to make them on your own. And if your parents don’t agree with your decision, move out, start your own life, and stop relying on them.

Harsh I know. But if you want to make independent decisions, you need to be an independent person. Eventually, either your parents will realize they were trying to micro manage you OR you will realize you made a bad decision.

Oh and if you’re a parent reading this, please realize your kid does not have to be the next Elon Musk or does not have to make $100 000 a year for him/her to be worth your love … So don’t make them feel like that is the case.

And if you still think people give a serious f*** about your life decisions, flip the situation around and think about all the people YOU don’t give a f*** about. Think about it, you must have heard at least one person in your life say something you disagree with. Whether it was on the internet, in a presentation, or in a large group setting, you heard someone say something you didn’t agree with and you probably didn’t care. You didn’t care because you didn’t / don’t have a vested interested in that person.

In those scenarios, you either exited out of the disagreeable website, didn’t bother responding to the disagreeable YouTube comment, or you didn’t say a word in the large group setting and instead thought “what an idiot for saying that.”

So just like you didn’t care about that other person, other people dont really care about you. That said, make decisions that satisfy you first and don’t worry about judgment from others.

False Assumption #2 You Need Approval from Others

Not only do you think people care, but you want them to care.

Well the fact is, you don’t need them to care. Nobody else knows your life like you do, so it makes zero sense for them to approve or validate YOUR LIFE DECISIONS.

Someone feeling like they are being told how to live their life.

Be confident in your decisions and learn to say “yes” to yourself. You don’t need to have the support of everyone around you before making a decision, and you don’t need other people to tell you your decisions are good ones.

“But Ella, I want to have friends in my life. Having people around me who like me, makes me happy.”

Listen kid, fake friends don’t make you happy. You’ll be happier with just 1 or 2 true friends than you ever will be with 10 fake friends. And if somebody is a true friend, they’ll like you regardless of your decision to take a fifth year of high school or go to post-secondary school immediately.

When you are reliant on the “blessing” of other people, you often forget to acknowledge your own wants. And when your actions in life do not line-up with your wants in life, I guarantee you won’t be at peace and you won’t be happy.

False Assumption #3 It is Easy for the Media to Brain-Wash People

This assumption is interesting because I actually agree with it! For sure it is easy for people to be brain washed…heck we can even brain wash ourselves!

The problem I have with that assumption is that we are perfectly capable of choosing our media sources and challenging our own beliefs. So if you feel pressure to live your live in accordance with media source x, then start listening to media source y!

A person making a decision about which media outlet to read

In fact, you should make it a habit of switching up your media sources as soon as you notice you are completely ingrained in a particular line of thought. Think about like this: (1) you believe x, (2) you recognize that x is the best solution, (3) you recognize that you probably don’t know enough about x because you think it is the best solution, (4) research information about y and z to challenge or confirm your beliefs about x.

Don’t Socialize Your Beliefs

Be an independent thinker. If you come to conclusions based on your own research, the only pressure you’ll feel is the kind that motivates you to live a better life.

Diamonds

I like to think about it like this, “No pressure, no diamonds. No pressure, no diamonds.”

So if you feel pressure, make sure it’s as a result of your wants and no one elses. And once you start riding that good pressure wave, the momentum will leave you unstoppable.

As always, have a Happy Monday ❤✌

[Like this post? Then don’t forget to follow my blog by typing in your email below. And consider sharing it with your friends and family on social media!]

*Disclaimer: I am not a medical or mental health professional. Any information and content on my website is not a substitute for professional advice.*

Selfcare Tips

You’re Missing Something Vital (Mental Health vs. Mental Illness)

“You’re fine”, says the inner tough-guy.

Habit coach smiling in the face of adversity

…but maybe you’re not fine. Maybe you feel sad, lonely, anxious, and upset. But maybe that’s okay…

Sad and Anxious are Normal Emotions

Do you know what mental health is? I know the subject is heavily talked about nowadays, but do you fully comprehend what it means to have “mental health”?

Answer: It is literally the health of your mind. The good and poor health of all minds!

If you are a human with a mind, you have mental health. Just like if you are a human with a body, you have physical health.

And then we can go a bit deeper and ask, “what is a healthy mind?”

A healthy mind is one which enjoys life and living, is realistic and at peace, and is resilient after undergoing a difficult situation. A healthy mind properly balances the 3 parts of the personal development loop: self-care, self-development, self-discipline.

This seems pretty straight forward, right?

So then why does it also seem that the normal feelings of occasionally unhealthy minds (such as sadness and anxiousness) are quickly being labelled as feelings which require medication?

I think the push on mental health awareness has exploded since the recent BOOM of social media and campaigns like #BellLetsTalk. And as a result, mental health echo-chambers have been created online, opinions on such matters have been instensified in the hope mental health will improve, and poor mental health has been conflated with mental illness.

“Wait Ella…what is the difference between mental health and mental illness anyways?”

I’m glad you asked!

According to the DSM-5 (the Diagnosis and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5 Ed.), mental illness is, “… a syndrome characterized by clinically significant disturbance in an individual’s cognition, emotion regulation, or behaviour that reflects a dysfunction in the psychological, biological, or developmental processes underlying mental functioning. An expected or culturally approved response to a common stressors or loss […] is not a mental disorder. […]”

Interesting definition. There’s 1 sentence in there that catches my attention, and that is what I want to talk about today (I’d also love to know your opinion in the comment section below).

The eye catching sentence is…

“an expected or culturally approved response to a common stressor or loss […] is not a mental disorder.”

This statement is pretty easy to understand – normal negative emotions are not mental illnesses.

So what is normal?

In my opinion, normal is stress, anxiousness, and burnout after hustling hard through 4 years of university. It is not wanting to eat or get out bed after the loss of a loved one. And it is feelings of being incredibly sad and distraught after having a limb amputated.

As you can see above, there are feelings / responses which can be expected from people after experiencing something negative. And most people (maybe other than those with sociopathic tendencies… which can be attributed to a mental illness) would experience poor mental health in these circumstances.

So here’s where my issue comes in…and I’ll tell you about it using my personal circumstances for “credibility”

I believe that the push for raising awareness about mental health and mental illness has become so loud yet very unclear. I see individuals, business, and media outlets discussing poor mental health as one-in-the-same with mental illness. I see (although I whole-heartedly believe this comes from the right place) young people being told that feelings of sadness COULD be depression, which I believe is a problematic statement for one major reason:

It is correct! (Yes, you heard me right! The statement can be problematic for, in particular, young and impressionable people, because it legit makes complete sense

“Wait ..what?? Ella … what the heck are you talking about?”

Yes, I understand you’re probably confused, so please let me explain.

The Negative Feedback Loop of Mental Health

You see, by using the word “could” in a statement, the statement assumes that x (ex. sadness) might OR might not be y (ex. depression). The use of the word “could” leads to the acceptance of 2 assumptions, polar opposite of each other.

Now, the possibility that somebody may or may not have y (depression in this case), in combination with that person feeling like they’ve hit rock bottom, will tend to put them on the side of caution (…the same side I was on in 2017 when I thought I had depression).

Now, when someone sides with caution they take on a “just in case” mentality. This means, “just in case I have depression, I should take the necessary precautions such as get on medication and stay home when I feel like I am so sad that I can’t get out of bed.”

[which is exactly what I did]

Now fundamentally, there is nothing wrong with the “just in case mentally” because it is completely natural; it is essentially a flight or fright response to a dangerous situation.

And although the “just in case” mentality is natural, it still leads to an acceptance of a detrimental assumption (ex. the assumption, “I have depression”). And honing in on this negative thought can take someone to a dark place and leave them stuck in a negative feedback loop.

[Which is where I was stuck in 2017]

The negative feedback loop of mental health

Here’s the explanation for the logic model you see above:

Statement: I could have depression (remember that there is nothing wrong with this statement in and of itself)

HOWEVER, this statement then leads to an acceptance of two polar opposite assumptions: (1) I do not have depression and (2) I have depression

And because 1 of the assumptions is detrimental, you side with caution and the “just in case” mentality kicks in.

Since you are now preparing for the detrimental scenario, you have to adopt the idea that the detrimental assumption is true. That said, since the two polar opposite assumptions cannot both be held at the same time, you drop the assumption of the best case scenario in order to prepare for the worst one.

So back in 2017 when I fell into this negative feedback loop, I began to adopt bad behaviour that I subconsciously thought someone with depression would carry-out i.e. my mind behaved like a depressed mind, because I believed I had depression.

And once the negative behaviour started, my mind honed in on it and I started digging my rock-bottom hole even deeper. And once that happened, I started connecting the “depressed” dots of my life in hindsight; I thought, “all those times I was sad in my life make sense now. I must have depression.”

The mind is so incredibly powerful, it’s almost unbelievable how it can take hold of a thought and hone in on it. That’s why the power of self-talk is so incredibly important.

So as you can see, if a young, impressionable teenager hears a statement like, “if you’re sad you COULD have depression,” they might associate their rock bottom experience with actually having depression. AND THEN they might get stuck in a negative feedback loop.

“I can see how the power of thought is important Ella, but how does one get out of that negative feedback loop? How does one turn their rock bottom experience into their breakthrough moment?!”

Well here is how I did it, and maybe this can help you too:

1) I accepted the fact that I am more emotional than other people (at least it seems that way to me, and I’m totally cool with that). I realized that my über emotional state is actually an advantage, and if you think you’re emotional too, you can read about the benefits here.

2) I realized I needed to practice good self-care. (Even if you don’t have a mental illness, YOU HAVE MENTAL HEALTH so you need to take care of it. Don’t wait until you hit your rock bottom to start cultivating your self care tools.)

3) I simply decided that my mind’s focus must be on improving my life. And I accepted the fact that trying to improve it will be difficult at times.

I hit my version of rock bottom, so I needed to work hard to get out.

Let go or be dragged. - Zen Proverb

Do NOT be ashamed of hitting your rock bottom

Remember that suffering is relative, which means rock bottom is relative…

So maybe that means depression is relative too??? And if it is relative, maybe that’s ok… But since medication probably shouldn’t be used as a blanket cure-all for a relative and subjective human experiences, I think medical doctors and psychiatrists should be putting more emphasis on things like mediTation instead of mediCation. After all, any circumstances of sadness, suicidal thoughts, anxiousness, and overwhelm NEED to dealt with by the patient him or herself so that those feelings can be managed in the future.

In my experience, I can confidently say my weekly visits to the psychologist were what truly helped me end the downward spiral of my poor mental health, NOT the SSRIs my doctor prescribed me.

It was by learning to fill up my mental health toolbox that built my resilience and prepared me for the normal yet unfortunate challenges in life.

So even if you don’t have a mental illness, you have mental health… and in either circumstance you need to cultivate self-care practices. Don’t get caught in the “just in case” mentality, hone in on positive thoughts, and focus on making this the #YearOfYou

As always, Happy Monday ❤✌

[Like this post? Then don’t forget to follow my blog by typing in your email below. And consider sharing it with your friends and family on social media!]

*Disclaimer: I am not a medical or mental health professional. Any information and content on my website is not a substitute for professional health advice.

Selfcare Tips

Why active rest is NOT just for fitness

“I need a break… But I don’t understand how taking a break will help me become more productive!”

BE HONEST: Has the above statement ever crossed your mind?

Better yet, has that statement crossed your mind and then you actually continued to work?

And final question: Did you burn out after continuing to push yourself?

👋 Well I answer yes to all those questions, and I unfortunately learned the hard way about the necessity of taking breaks.

Habit coach sitting on a bench in Muttart Conservatory in Edmonton,  Alberta.

And that’s why I’m here now to explain what it ACTUALLY MEANS to take a lil’ break, and as a result, boost your productivity.

Remember that a “break” should be an “active rest”

When it comes to physical fitness, active rest is very important for productivity in the gym.

Active rest (or active recovery) is when you engage in low intensity and short duration movement, after an intense workout.The benefit of active rest as opposed to passive rest is that your body and muscles recover at a much quicker pace.

So, the quicker you physically recover, the quicker you can engage in high intensity workouts again. Therefore by taking active rests, you will be able to do more workouts, lose more fat, build more muscle, improve your cardio, and overall improve your physical fitness.

Now let’s apply the active rest concept to your mental and emotional recovery:

When you engage in light activity to keep your brain thinking and your thoughts organized, you’ll be able to more quickly recover from stress and burnout, as opposed to breaking by turning your brain off completely.

“So How Do I Active Rest for My Mental Health?”

1) Utilize Your Time, Don’t Abuse Your Time

A clock, which signifies the importance of time

Here’s a big myth: people think drinking and tanning on a beautiful beach will help them “clear their minds” when work becomes almost too much to handle.

And here’s the reality: a vacation definitely could clear your mind! But just remember, if you don’t utilize your time, the vacation will eventually end and you’ll end up back where you started.

To best utilize your vacation time, do some research on self-development tools to help counter stress and burnout.

So instead of simply mentally removing yourself from daily life, I recommend you keep yourself slightly engaged so that your daily life can be better tackled after your break.

When you fill your self-developmemt tool belt with the proper tools, you will be able to diffuse your work/life stress as soon as you get back to your job.

One of the most useful tools I’d recommend is meditation. Learning to be okay with isolation instead of stimulation can help manage the stress and overwhelm experienced in day-to-day life.

In addition, reading self-development books and listening to self-development podcasts can also provide you with amazing tools to be resilient when returning to the stresses of daily life.

So remember that taking a break shouldn’t mean “doing nothing”; it should mean “taking a quick step away from work so you can learn to do work better”. This is a great time to plug the phrase, “work smarter, not harder.”

2) Reorganize Your Schedule

Maybe you feel overwhelmed because you don’t manage your time.

Are you taking-on an appropriate amount of work? If you are, maybe you need to schedule yourself better so you know which tasks are top priorities.

When we don’t record tasks and projects in a planner, we end up storing them in our brains. This creates unnecessary stress and a lot of overthinking.

So instead of using a long weekend to take your mind off work, keep your mind on work for a brief time. Keep your mind on work for just as long as it takes to write everything in a planner. Then as soon as you write it out…LEAVE IT THERE. Remove the task from your brain and let it live on the paper until you need to revisit it.

You know what they say, “When you fail to plan, you plan to fail”. So write it all out, and pick it up as needed.

3) Don’t Stop Using Your Brain… Even When You Think You Should Stop

So if you have your schedule organized and you have the right tools but you still think you need a break, then take one. BUT do not break cold turkey.

Keep yourself thinking lightly by reading, listening to podcasts, engaging in recreational activities and interacting with real people. Playing brain games are great and all, but for light and effective stimulation, nothing is better than sticking yourself in a real-life scenario.

By remaining in a lightly active state, you will have an easier time transitioning back to daily life and problem solving.

And if you still don’t buy the “active rest thing”, here is a common example of the same concept used in emotional recovery:

When someone close to you passes on, you need to grieve – you need to think about that person and remember how special they were to you during their lifetime. When you take a “break” from daily life to grieve, you are allowing yourself to continue living happily in the best way you can.

So remember, you aren’t “taking a break”. You are taking an active rest!

Utilize your time instead of abusing your time, and as always, have a Happy Monday ❤✌

[Like this post? Then don’t forget to follow my blog by typing in your email below. And consider sharing it with your friends and family on social media!]

*Disclaimer: I am not a medical or mental health professional. Any information and content on my website is not a substitute for professional health advice.

Self-development

I discovered the meaning of life – it’s less complicated than you think

“What is the meaning of my life?”

… That may be the most-asked question of our generation. Maybe even more-asked than previous generations.

…What do you think?

Haven’t you noticed the influx of YouTube videos, Instagram influencers, and bloggers heavily discussing the meaning of life? Why do you think it has become SUCH a prominent topic?

What is the meaning of life? Man searching with a magnifying glass.

Well, that question has been brought up to me a few times now, so I figured I’d finally answer it.

So why do you want to find meaning?

Reason 1)

This generation is exposed to an incredibly vast amount of media… ALL. THE. TIME. (not to say parents aren’t the ones permitting this exposure to their kids under 18).

Anyways, this addiction to vanity which is encouraged through likes, comments, comparisons, and not to mention the general idea of the Social Media Façade, has created a generation of depressed, anxious, and unconfident people.

So for example, when young Sally feels fat, unpopular, and ugly because of her thirst for positive comments on her IG selfies, it is no wonder she wants to know the meaning of her being on planet Earth.

And since this vanity addiction has been noticed by many intelligent people of our time, the message of “find meaning in life” is being throttled toward us left, right, and centre.

Reason 2)

The time period we are living in is by far one of the best (if not the best) times to be alive.

Jump for joy because 2019 is an amazing time to be alive.

At least in Western culture, this generation does not know what it is like to live through war, suffrage, segregation and Jim Crow laws, nuclear threats, a Great Depression, or a dictatorship … so yes, it is a pretty damn good time to be alive.

And because we are so lucky (again, I am generalizing Western culture), we have no idea what horrible experiences of suffering are like. So the negative experiences of young people nowadays might be minor, but since we don’t have worse lived-experiences to compare to, minor problems become “like the worst ever” and we “just can’t even”.

So with all this lack of actual danger, but all this presence of actual heartache, I think this generation has lost value for the good things in life. We just don’t realize how good we actually have it. Marriage, sex, religion, and science are major parts of existence that I’ve seen taken for granted in media and public spaces time and time again. And without life values, young people don’t know what to live for anymore. So if we feel we have little to value, how can we feel fulfilled?

Reason 3)

We’ve lost a sense of community – a sense of something that unites us.

Community holding hands

Do you attend a Church or are you part of a social group?

Do you feel oneness with your fellow Canadians, Americans, etc.?

Do you stand for anything?

I find people are becoming more agnostic when it comes to choosing values and opinions in life.

So when you have no in-group, no uniting ideas, and no sense of shared culture, then you feel like an outsider. And even worse, you feel like an outsider on the inside.

And when you’re lonely and without anyone to go to, it is no surprise that you feel your life is meaningless.

Choose what you stand for, research it, stick with it, but be willing to accept other points of view. Find a group that believes in the same thing you do and you’ll begin to feel belonging.

Now here’s the interesting part:

Humanity has always will continue to always search for meaning. It might just seem more prominent nowadays because of social media.

About 2 months ago, I read the most amazing book called Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl. Frankl used his experience in Auschwitz and other concentration camps to discover the meaning of life. He discovered that meaning is the tension between who you are now and what you can become.

Man's search for meaning, book written by Viktor E. Frankl. As a habit coach, I use the teachings of this book to help my clients improve their life.

Remember that your meaning to live comes from your capabilities and potentialities. So if you’re feeling lost, think about what you represent and what you can be if you work hard. And as always, have a Happy Monday ❤✌.

[Like this post? Then don’t forget to follow my blog by typing in your email below. And consider sharing it with your friends and family on social media!]

*Disclaimer: I am not a medical or mental health professional. Any information and content on my website is not a substitute for professional, medical, or legal advice.*

New Beginnings, Selfcare Tips

3 MORE Steps for Getting Rid of Shame (Part 2 of 2)

“I need counseling”

“I’m having suicidal thoughts”

“I tried to kill myself”

Are any of those words familiar to you?

Does the thought of saying “yes, they are familiar” make your stomach tie-up in a knot?

That feeling of discomfort is called shame. And shame is the feeling of guilt or embarrassment after doing something dishonourable.

…Interesting definition, eh? Now here’s where my important question comes in:

What is there is to be ashamed of?

If you read my post last week, then you already know the first 4 steps to ridding yourself of shame. And you know I mentioned that shame can arise from (1) your actions that namely effected others and (2) your actions that namely effected you.

Since we’re talking about the second reason today, I thought I’d discuss the 3 steps you can take if you feel ashamed of having poor mental health.

#1 Question the Logic

Recall the definition of shame – it is the feeling you get after doing something dishonourable. Hmmm… something doesn’t sit right with me here. Why should anyone feel they have done something dishonourable simply by suffering with poor mental health?

Think about having a broken arm or a scrape on your knee… my guess is you wouldn’t be ashamed of those physical injuries. But maybe you made a stupid decision that led you to injure yourself (ex. You ran on a wet floor or jumped off a tall fence). So it is the action that you should be questioning rather than the result of that action.

In retrospect, I made a lot of stupid decisions when I was festering in my downward mental health spiral. But at the time of those decisions, I genuinely thought I was doing the right thing for myself. So on one hand, you could say that not making the effort to improve your mental health is a sign of disrespect toward yourself (also keeping in mind that EVERYTHING you do has some sort of effect on other people). HOWEVER, if you don’t know how to go about improving your mental health before you start spiralling downward, stupid decisions become easy solutions to your problems.

Remember that perspective is everything. So if you are spiralling downward, you might think your decisions are awesome but you have to try to take the perspective of a mentally healthy person. Should a mentally healthy person have thoughts like this? Is it okay for me to self-harm? Those are the types of questions you should ask yourself and the answer of a healthy person would be NO.

That leads me to the next step…

#2 Confront Your Discomfort

When you start that downward spiral and think decisions like calling in sick for work when you feel fine and starving yourself because you think you’re too fat, are good decisions, it is time to confront your discomfort.

If you feel like shit…or maybe even worse than that… you have to admit that feeling to yourself. And more importantly, once you admit that feeling to yourself, you need to admit that your feelings are not good ones.

And with those admissions, you will and should respond by wondering how you can feel better.

For example, “I feel upset and sad all the time. Those are not good feelings. I should ask a professional for advice so I can feel good again.” Your response can be as simple as that.

Confront your discomfort instead of burying it deep inside yourself. As Dr. Brené Brown says, “When we bury the story, we forever stay the subject of the story. If we own the story we get to narrate the ending.”

#3 Be Proactive

Although confronting your discomfort is a must, it is even better to be proactive and manage or minimize the discomfort that could arise in the future.

Follow the personal development loop by balancing your self-care, self-development, and self-discipline so you can avoid a downward mental health spiral.

Study-up on tools that you can implement when you feel stressed, over-whelmed, and over-worked.

Just like you are not born with the knowledge of cooking, or plumbing, or writing, etc., you are not born with the knowledge of personal development. You have to learn how to do things through reading and asking questions. So going to see a psychologist shouldn’t be any more “shameful” than picking up a self-help book.

Work to fill your mental health toolbox so you can be prepared to battle your mental health struggles.

Be proactive, be ready, be resilient. And as always, have a very Happy Monday ❤

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*Disclaimer: I am not a medical or mental health professional. Any information and content on my website is not a substitute for professional, medical, or legal advice.

Self-development, Selfcare Tips

4 Steps to Ending Your Shame (Part 1 of 2)

You’re ashamed…

Of your past, your actions, and your decisions.

You feel guilty or embarrassed about something you have done or a quality in your character.

But why do you feel this way?

I find the topic of shame to be quite an interesting one because I believe it is far more nuanced than you might think. It is especially nuanced because it can arise for 2 different reasons: (1) as a result of your actions that namely effected other(s), and; (2) as a result of your actions that namely effected you.

To break things down simply, today’s blog post will be about the former reason (make sure you tune-in next week where I discuss reason 2)

So Why Shame?

If you do something dishonourable toward another person, I think it is incredibly important for you to feel remorseful; an essential mark of self-awareness is to recognize actions that are unethical, immoral, and that have negative consequences.

BUT, I do not think you should live with shame forever, nor should you be shamed forever by other people.

So what are the steps to ridding yourself of shame?

Shame kills your mental health. Keep smiling and ask forgiveness.

1) Ask for forgiveness.

Admitting that you did something wrong is incredibly difficult, especially when you admit it to the person(s) you hurt.

But admission coupled with remorse and a sincere apology is necessary for taking responsibility of your actions.

You cannot hide from the fact you did something hurtful and you cannot expect others to forget what you did by “never bringing it up.”

Humans have the capacity to forgive. And if you are scared that the person you hurt won’t forgive you…well yes, that is a possibility. And although I personally believe people should ALWAYS find forgiveness, I can’t make anyone forgive if they don’t want to.

So if someone chooses to not forgive you, then take it as a learning experience — your words and actions can have long-term consequences that you never expected in the first place.

BUT if they do forgive you, then consider yourself 1 step closer to ridding yourself of shame.

2) Do NOT feel the following 2 things in response to your shame:

• You shouldn’t feel proud. Yes ok, you learned and important lesson. But talking about your learning experience like it was something you read out of a prestigious academic article is disrespectful to those who you affected. The fact is, you learned something the hard way, and although you learned, the difficult experience you learned from was probably not ideal for anyone involved.

• You shouldn’t feel indifferent. As I said earlier, we must recognize the consequences of our actions. So if you want to be considered a decent person, you cannot just “not care” about the hurt you might’ve caused/created in the past.

3) Feel Empathy

When you acknowledge your actions and regard them as forever shameful, you might just be correct. To clarify my point, your actions were bad and if repeated in the same context, they would render the same bad consequences. But where you are INCORRECT is if you transfer the shame surrounding your actions onto your being. So to clarify again, you did something bad but you are not a bad person.

You must have empathy for those who were effected by your actions so that you can understand their perspective and contrast it your personal perspective. And through that contrast, come to understand why the choice you made at the time was wrong.

4) Cut-out the people who continue to shame you after you’ve completed steps 1-3.

You don’t need to convince anyone you’re a changed person, and at the same time no one should convince you otherwise.

Plus being around people who inhibit your growth will only be of detriment to YOU.

So in conclusion …

Swallowing your ego and taking responsibility for your actions does not mean accepting shame into your life – it means becoming a better person.

Shame kills your mental health

The moment you understand your actions were wrong is the exact moment you grow as a person.

And hey!!👋 Make sure you subscribe to my blog by typing in your email below so you’ll be notified of next week’s post where I discuss shame as a result of your actions that negatively you.

As always, Happy Monday ❤✌

[Like this post? Then don’t forget to follow my blog by typing in your email below. And consider sharing it with your friends and family on social media!]

*Disclaimer: I am not a medical or mental health professional. Any information and content on my website is not a substitute for professional, medical, or legal advice.

Self-development

How to be Happy for Other People + 3 Deep Questions You Need to Ask in Order to Ditch Jealousy

“Jealousy is the root of all evil”

Have you heard that expression before? Maybe you’ve experienced the backstab (or frontstab) by a jealousy-fueled person… or, maybe you’ve been the dealer of similar jealousy-fueled actions…

Worry about you and no one else!

In talking with people since starting my blog, a question I often get asked is, why the f*** can’t people just be happy for other people?

It’s funny, I ask myself that question a lot too.

Why is it so hard for some to see a person happy in a career, a relationship, or any life circumstance and just say “congrats”? Why is it so easy for some to see a person happy then deliberately make that person miserable? …And what I think is the most frustrating question: Why is it so hard to NOT communicate the reason for being bitter toward the happy person? …I thought we were all adults here?

Are you green with envy?

Well, I think the reason some can’t be happy for others is jealousy.

And I know what some of you are thinking “wow Ella, who are you to say other people are mean as a result of jealousy?”

Well I can say that because (1) it’s my opinion and (2) I can actually recall times I’ve been jealous in the past (yes I will admit I have flaws) and noticed how it changed my view of other people’s success.

So that said, I’ve come-up with 3 questions you need to ask yourself if you’re having trouble being happy for other people:

#1 Are you in competition with that person?

Unless that person is in a life competition with you (doubtful), their is LITERALLY zero reason for you to be jealous of them. For example, let’s say you want to lose weight but you are having some trouble reaching your goal. One weekend you go to the beach with Sally and notice her shredded abs. You both go for lunch afterward and Sally orders a salad. You immediately tell her she is a boring friend for eating “rabbit food” for lunch. …Now, instead of poking fun at Sally for being healthy, try reconsidering your own decision to eat fries and a coke for lunch.

Now let’s say you’re looking for a long-term relationship. Then one day Sally tells you she found a man to share the rest of her life with. (…I know, it seems like Sally has it all. Don’t be jealous 😉 )

Anyways… after hearing about Sally’s relationship, you immediately cut her out of your life and start talking behind her back. Now, instead of being bitter, maybe you should just reconsider why you can’t find a happy relationship yourself.

So… if you are confused as to why I want you to ask yourself question #1, let me clear things up: YOU ARE NOT IN A LIFE COMPETITION WITH ANYBODY ELSE. The only person you should seriously be competing with is who you were yesterday. You can not control anyone’s life but your own so why bother exerting negative jealous energy towards other people, as if they should change their situation for you? The only energy you should exert is the kind it will take you to improve your own life.

Here’s an anecdote to help you understand better:

Top athletes like Lional Messi and Wayne Gretzky probably never made dirty, jealousy-fueled fouls against other athletes as kids. Instead, those athletes decided to improve their own tactical skills and techniques; they improved their personal talents so that they could be happy with themselves and become personally successful. They might’ve been jealous of other athletes at times, BUT they clearly manifested their jealousy in ways that never negatively affected those athletes.

Remember, you’ll never win the game by tearing-down people around you – you have to do things honorably and honestly. And the fact is, nobody is trying to go after the trophy of your life, so worry about your own trophy and be happy when someone else gets theirs.

#2 What about yourself are you not happy with?

Do you have any flaws to improve or insecurities to stop worrying about? Maybe you do…and maybe those flaws and insecurities are inhibiting you from getting what you want.

Furthermore, maybe you’re being ignorant to the fact that you do have flaws and insecurities (although I will admit, self-awareness is NOT an easy task). And yes, self-awareness requires effort and a break-down of your ego. I know what you’re thinking… it is unfortunate that you need to eat healthy and workout to get shredded abs, and it is inconvenient that you need to be a decent person if you want to be in any sort of friendship or romantic relationship. So just because someone else decided to put in that effort and you did not, that is no reason to NOT be happy for them.

#3 Can you clearly articulate the logical reason you cannot be happy for someone?

Has the person you aren’t happy for done anything to hurt you? Have they purposely done anything to make you upset? If the answer is “no”, but you still cannot articulate why you cannot be happy for them, my guess is you don’t want to admit the answer…And that’s because jealousy is nothing to be proud of.

If you find jealousy has boiled up inside you, IT IS OKAY because jealous is a human emotion felt by all of us. What is NOT OKAY, is allowing that jealousy to control your actions.

So please people, let’s all start practicing self-awareness. Why wouldn’t you want to be happy for others and why wouldn’t you want to be happy for yourself?

It might take a little hard work, but at the end of the day, you can win your personal life trophy and not have to worry about anyone else’s.

At the the end of the day, all you can do is focus on making the next 365 days the #YearOfYOU.

As always, have a very happy Monday ❤✌

[Like this post? Then don’t forget to follow my blog by typing in your email below. And consider sharing it with your friends and family on social media!]

*Disclaimer: I am not a medical or mental health professional. Any information and content on my website is not a substitute for professional, medical, or legal advice.

New Beginnings

What it Means to be Capable PLUS 3 Steps to Recognizing Your Self-Worth

In last week’s blog post I discussed the importance of recognizing your self-worth.

Humans have infinite worth

I mentioned that, as a human being, you are completely capable of developing yourself so that you can give meaning to your worth.

So my question for you today is: Do you know what it means to be capable?

Let’s start with ruling-out what you probably think capable means, and that is “the skill or power to do something”.

INCORRECT. That is actually the definition of the word able. On the otherhand, the word capable takes able to a whole new level. The word capable means to have the mental capacity or know-how to do things in the best way possible.

So as a human being, you may have certain physical characteristics and skills which help you reach your goals, but most importantly you have the brain power to strategize and figure out different ways to reach your goals.

Take the story of Nick Scott as a great example:

Nick Scott was a football player in high school. During high school, he got in a horrible car accident which ended his football career and put him in a wheelchair for life.

Even though Scott couldn’t walk, run, or play football, he still had the ability to bench press at the gym. So he capitalized on that ability and committed himself to benching more weight than anyone else in his high school. Nick Scott began to recognize he was still capable of creating a good life for himself even though his accident left him with a physical disability.

Scott’s weightlifting hobby soon turned into more than that — he decided to compete in a body building competition. After finding a new passion and talent, Scott fought to have a wheelchair bodybuilding competition established under the IFBB (International Ferderation of Bodybuilding and Fitness) so that him and others could compete professionally. He began winning shows and bodybuilding.com eventually signed him as one of their athletes.

Nick Scott wheelchair bodybuilder

Scott is now, a motivational speaker and a personal trainer for other men and women in wheelchairs who want to learn bodybuilding.

The moral…

Even though Scott wasn’t physically able to play football or use all the equipment in the gym, he used his mental capacity to figure out HOW he could become a winner in the body building world.

Nick Scott might have injured himself physically but he still recognized his infinite human worth – after he was injured, he exercised his CAPABILITIES to reach a new goal in the best way he could.

Just like Nick Scott, YOU are capable of reaching your goals. You are capable of strategizing and learning and developing yourself so that you too can be successful.

So if you don’t know how to access your capabilities try following these steps:

1) Make a list of your goals, both short term and long term, career related or personal.

List of goals to achieve

2) Write why you are or are not able of achieving each goal. Be realistic in your assessment.

Why am I able to achieve my goals?

3) Write down why you are capable of improving your abilities to meet your goals.

Why am I capable of achieving my goals?

Final Step: Realize that you just created new pathways of success for yourself.

New path to success created using my capabilities

In the words of Nick Scott, it’s not about your glass being half empty or half full, it’s about being grateful that you have a glass at all.

There are so many paths that can lead you to a single goal, so remember that if one path becomes impossible to go down, you can take another. Also remember that you can dig out a new and completely unique path for yourself. And even cooler than that, you can take a path that leads toward a different goal, one that you haven’t tried to reach before. You can do all this because you are a human and you are not meant to do just ONE thing in your life.

You are meant to THINK, DEVELOP, and ADAPT. You are meant to work hard and exercise your capabilities to give your worth some meaning.

And most importantly, you can do all those things and make the next 365 days the #YearOfYou.

As always, Happy Monday ❤✌

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*Disclaimer: I am not a medical or mental health professional. Any information and content on my website is not a substitute for professional, medical, or legal advice.

New Beginnings, Self-Discipline

Why Willpower is simple… but also hard🤔?

“Just do it.” Seems simple enough, right?

…Wrong! …but also, right!

Okay okay, you’re confused – I get it! But I am being serious when I say that “just do it” attitude is both simple yet not easy to master.

First I’ll tell you why it is simple:

Because there is one step to follow. Yup, that’s it. All you I have to do is “just work out everyday”, or “just not eat cookies”, or “just write a page everyday”. It’s as simple as frying an egg…you just do it.

And after you do whatever “it” is for a certain amount of time, the willpower you originally needed will lessen as your actions become habit. So sooner or later, all the effort it took to motivate you to hit the gym turns into no effort at all – going to the gym will become an automatic routine.

“But Ella, you don’t understand…. willpower isn’t as easy as you make it seem.”

Well wait a minute! I never said it was easy. In fact, what I said was, willpower is “not easy to master”.

You see, the word simple means “basic or uncomplicated.”

Whereas the word easy means “achieved without great effort”. So although willpower is uncomplicated, it requires a lot of effort to employ.

And the reason for this effort is…. THE FEELS, HABIT, and ADDICTION.

Let’s start with THE FEELS:

Feelings try to govern your decisions

So you say you want to lose weight and be more productive on weekends, but you continuously find yourself saying the following statements: “I should probabaly wake up and start my day, but I’m going to keep sleeping because my bed is so warm and comfy.”

“I should probably stop eating now, but this meal is so delicious that I have to finish it.”

You say these things because you want to do things that make you feel good. And more importantly, you want to do things that provide immediate gratification. So when you have to make a simple “do or don’t” decision, it is likely you will choose the action that makes you FEEL GOOD immediately.

Now let’s look at the same scenarios, but this time as driven by HABIT:

(1) “I don’t need an alarm to wake up! I am awake at 8 AM daily but I definitely need to be in bed by 10 PM the night before.”

(2) “I always find myself going for an afternoon cookie at work”

Bad habits like cookies everyday

Your brain wants to be efficient. And what better way to be efficient than to complete routines without thinking about them.

However there are problems with your routines: (1) you probably don’t need 10 hours of sleep every night, and (2) the daily afternoon cookie is not a benefit to your health.

So the downside is, you created habits out of those problems. And by consistently implementing these particular actions/problems, you have created automatic routines that will be difficult to break.

Now let’s touch on ADDICTION… which is a whole other ball game:

It is hard to break an addiction, but still possible. Don't be trapped by addiction.

Addiction involves a release of chemicals in your brain when you engage in a certain activity. This chemical factor, which can often lead to withdrawal and tolerance, make breaking an addiction much more difficult than breaking a habit. However, there are programs (such as Alcoholics Anonymous) and professionals who specialize in helping people break their addictions. So breaking an addiction is possible!

You can see that THE FEELS, HABIT, AND ADDICTION all create what I call the ambivalence of willpower. “Just do it” and “it feels good to NOT do it” create an unfortunate simultaneous dichotomy which makes the simple act of willpower an incredibly difficult task.

Ambivalence of willpower

BUT THE IMPORTANT PART IS…

It is completely possible to retrain your brain in order to create habits that work AGAINST the ambivalence of willpower. By analyzing the action you want to enact willpower against, you will be able to note whether that action is satisfying the feels, a habit, or an addiction. And once you know what is making willpower difficult, you will better understand what will make willpower easier for you.

Don’t take your human-ness for granted – you are completely capable of doing things that are hard. So remember to work smart, work strategically, and work for long-term success.

Don’t let the ambivalence of willpower slow you down, and make this the #YearOfYou

As always, Happy Monday ❤✌

[Like this post? Then don’t forget to follow my blog by typing in your email below. And consider sharing it with your friends and family on social media!]

*Disclaimer: I am not a medical or mental health professional. Any information and content on my website is not a substitute for professional, medical, or legal advice.