Although the types of addiction vary from sugar and shopping to alcohol and heroin, it is important to understand that the addictive behaviors themselves often have a root in the psyche or subconscious mind that is similar but unique for numerous people. Many times, people with addictions are filling some kind of emotional void or numbing unresolved or unhealed emotional traumas. Mindfulness and inner work can help you to understand where the addictive behaviors come from, whether they are an issue (for example, having a glass or two of wine on a Saturday night versus drinking two or more bottles a day all week long), and how to overcome them without as much risk of relapse and faster resilience if there is a stumble. The root cause of the behavior is what must be addressed, not the addiction itself, which is why many traditional treatments used to end up failing and people would relapse. Learning how to work on yourself from within is one of the most powerful ways to help yourself overcome many kinds of addiction. Read on to learn more about the inner work that will help you to let go of your addictions and embrace your true self.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice of physicians. The reader should regularly consult a physician in matters relating to his/her health and particularly with respect to any symptoms that may require diagnosis or medical attention.
Many people believe that addiction is something that you cannot possibly beat alone, but there is a different perspective to consider before setting such a hard limit upon the individuals who do suffer from addiction and don’t necessarily have a reliable support system to turn to. Or who have watched all of their old relationships fall apart due to codependency issues and now have to choose between well-earned personal freedom and codependency that nurtures an environment for relapse. Or maybe there are some toxic behaviors displayed by dysfunctional individuals and they actually purposely sabotage your progress in some way. No matter the situation, sometimes battling it out alone is the best thing you can do for yourself. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t ask for help if you need it or accept it if it’s offered, but the most important thing to remember is that you are the beginning and the end of your addiction.
You are the only person who is with you throughout your entire journey, from birth to death. No one else. So doesn’t it make sense that the root cause of your addictive behavior lies within you, a buried aspect of yourself that you are afraid of looking at directly because of the guilt and shame surrounding it? This is where inner work comes in, and you have to be determined and willing to feel all of your emotions, including fear and hatred and self-loathing. You must also be willing to love yourself completely, including those parts of yourself that you feel shame or guilt about and cover up with addictive behaviors.
Here are a few ways in which you may be able to help yourself overcome your addictions, mindfully and successfully.
1. Think of negative aspects of how your addictive behavior makes you feel, and positive aspects of how you feel when you are not tangled up in that addictive behavior. An example of this is when I quit smoking cigarettes. Rather than thinking about how much I missed it and how I missed the sensation, I would focus instead on how disgusting it was to have to hack up a bunch of nasty stuff all the time, constant stuffy noses, and my voice being too damaged to sing. Sure, the raspy voice is sorta sexy, but when I can’t even sing songs I wrote for my own voice, that’s pretty sad.
2. Listen to your body. When your pain levels increase (or your perception of the pain changes), it might be time to consider stopping the numbing. You may begin to notice that your pain actually increases after using any kind of substance to numb yourself, including alcohol and marijuana. While marijuana is much healthier for you overall and can be used for medicinal purposes, anything you use to numb your senses actually only numbs your perception of those senses, and when that perception becomes clear again, your pain seems worse than it was before. I think this is because your perception is remembering how bad the pain was before and at the same time longing for the numbness to come back, making it depressing as well as painful. Because we wear negative lenses while depressed and everything seems worse than it is, I think this has a lot to do with our perception of the pain and getting back to a “normal” sense of the pain we’re feeling rather than an over-inflated sense of it due to coming down from a substance.
3. Get to the root cause of your addictive behavior. Not all addictions involve outside substances, so the way your brain chemistry is altered during use of the substances creates the addiction, not the substance itself. Think about that for a minute. The substance itself doesn’t cause addiction; the way it alters your brain is what causes the addiction. That’s because addiction has to do with your prefrontal cortex and how your mind deals with cravings, rewards, and pleasure. If you were raised in an environment where you had to chase down attention or affection and love was very conditional, for example, you may fall prey to addictive behaviors because you’re tired of having to earn something you deserve no matter what (unconditional love from your parents in this example), and all that chasing is exhausting. Using a substance to keep yourself from caring enough to chase after that affection or simply feel good for no reason is the resulting solution. I think this is because we subconsciously know that we’re supposed to be joyful and happy, and when we can’t pinpoint what’s wrong in an easy way or a way in which we can avoid responsibility (or negative emotions toward people we care about), we turn to addictive substances or behaviors that make us feel good and give us that high, when really we should be connected to our souls and inspired from within most of the time, and that’s what we miss because on some level we remember that feeling. That example goes more into the spiritual realm, but both of these examples illustrate digging deep to figure out what the root cause of your addiction is, and knowing this allows you to be more understanding and compassionate toward yourself as you work through the self-healing process.
4. We’ve talked about substances, but not all addictions involve substances. There was a fantastic article in National Geographic magazine in October of 2017 about the brain science behind addiction, and many of the breakthroughs and cutting-edge ideas are due to incorporating mindfulness and neuroscience into their research. The human brain can re-wire itself through repetitive action, meaning you can overwrite any existing programming in your subconscious simply by replacing the habit and doing something else instead. This article featured a cure for addictions that involved sending electrical pulses to a certain part of the brain to suppress the craving center and disrupt that electrical energy flow within the brain, disrupting the addiction at the same time. Knowing this, it begins to become clear that you have all the power to change your behavior if you choose to accept it. But as they say, with great power comes great responsibility… this rings true on many levels, and this level is one of them. The more you choose to take responsibility for your own behavior and try to change it, the more your ego will fight you, and the more challenging your battle might become, at least temporarily. Or you can wait a couple of years for this electrical pulse treatment to come into the mainstream, but realize that you already have the power within your own mind to reprogram your behavior manually. It just takes more time and effort than some shocks to the brain.
5. Realize that your addiction is not you. You can also help keep yourself from perpetuating your addictive behavior patterns by referring to yourself differently. For example, rather than calling yourself a smoker in thought or conversation, begin calling yourself a non-smoker and keep referring to yourself in this way to re-condition your thoughts. Self-hypnosis and meditation are two ways in which you can also help yourself stay away from addictive behaviors, and you can create a custom positive mantra for yourself to affirm whatever it is you want to affirm based on your unique circumstances. You may also be able to find existing guided meditations or hypnosis recordings on YouTube, so it’s easy to begin to reprogram your own thinking in order to move forward and away from your addiction.
The goal isn’t to force yourself to abstain or feel like you’re fighting a constant uphill battle against an unseen enemy. This is the difficult method of doing things, and it leaves people rife for relapse, which is not a good thing no matter what type of addiction you’re dealing with. The real goal is to re-program your mind not to crave the thing you’re addicted to, to change the way it makes you feel entirely so that you can limit your indulgence to less desperate and more balanced levels. This is the way to get to the root of the problem and stop simply treating symptoms on the surface level. The best and most reliable way to lasting change is through the way you think and your perception of things. You don’t have to be what you’ve always been, and you don’t have to let an out of control habit define you as a person. You also don’t have to live in fear of being triggered all the time, as long as you go within and do the inner work necessary for true and lasting healing.
For more information about the Mindfulness Movement or the International Mindfulness Federation, please visit:
Let’s face it… sometimes we have to let go of certain relationships in our lives to make room for other relationships to blossom. This could happen for any number of reasons, and we each respond differently to relationships ending depending on the situation, the other person or people involved, and our general attitude or outlook about the situation and how we feel. Sometimes our reactions or emotional responses to the situation stem from clinging to the relationship even though we have outgrown it or it has become unhealthy or even toxic. This is where letting go comes in. Read on to learn more about mindfully letting go of relationships that no longer serve you.
By allowing for the separation despite it being potentially painful, sad, or full of escalating tempers, you take the momentum away from the negative emotions—if there are any—surrounding the situation and the person. If there aren’t any negative emotions surrounding the situation, for example if your relationship naturally grows apart, then there will be very little resistance to the end of what little remains. However, when you find yourself responding with resistance to the situation, it can often inadvertently make things worse.
Let me elaborate a little bit on this. Carl Jung said, “What you resist persists,” because of emotional resistance to a situation. This resistance can sometimes manifest as sadness and depression, but other times it can look like tempers flaring and an escalating situation where each side feels like it needs to fight for what’s right or get revenge rather than letting it be and moving on peacefully. This can cause a great deal of drama and additional pain, and sometimes make things worse between the people involved due to words and actions borne out of anger and pain.
To avoid this excessive amount of negative emotional energy and allow yourself to become peaceful about the situation, it helps to have a few different realizations along the way. These realizations are sometimes shocking when they really hit you, but they are also comforting in the face of dissolving closeness in a relationship.
Five Revelations to Help You Let Go
It is only after coming to understand certain things about ourselves versus other people that we can truly see that our purpose lies well beyond just staying in one place with one set of people our whole lives. Sometimes this means that we have to go through the discomfort of ending relationships for one reason or another, be it amicable or messy. Of course, amicable is always the goal, but it is nearly impossible to get to a place of amicable separation with toxic individuals, so you may need to settle for not having a resolution and allowing these individuals to keep their delusions and just care for them from afar, keeping yourself emotionally at a distance.
That being said, as mindful leaders, it is our job to rise above the chaos and respond in a way that is both loving and firm. If you are cutting ties with individuals who do not practice mindfulness, deep personal accountability, or setting healthy boundaries, then they will simply not understand what they are doing. As painful as this is to realize – and as much as it makes you almost want to look down on them for their ignorance – it simply is what it is, and the only one who can change how you feel about it is you. This ego flare up will pass as your journey continues, so don’t be alarmed if you experience a period of overt confidence and slight judgment. You’ll adjust as you settle into your higher level of consciousness and understanding.
Here are five revelations to help you get there.
1. Think of it this way… while you have been working on yourself, honing your skills, and practicing mindfulness and meditation to better yourself as a human being, they have remained stuck, running around a hamster wheel without a destination or a purpose, just running for seemingly no reason. Your perspective is much different from theirs, so don’t assume that they are even capable of seeing things the way that you see them, especially without conscious effort in their daily habits.
2. People will come and go throughout your entire life. Whether you remember these relationships fondly or with some discomfort depends a great deal on how the relationship ends or gets reprioritized. Understand that, in order to be true to yourself, you may need to offend a few people whom you have gotten close to after learning what you’ve needed to learn from your journey with them… and vice versa. Sometimes it’s a clean break, and other times it isn’t. However, it’s up to you not to exacerbate the emotions of the situation so that all parties can get out somewhat unscathed. If they choose to say or do things that do exacerbate the situation, don’t allow yourself to get sucked into the drama and revenge trap. It isn’t worth it.
3. Setting your priorities to best serve you and your needs is a good thing, even if it temporarily hurts others or makes them angry. If they can’t understand where you’re coming from, then why would you want them in your life in the first place? Their initial reaction may not be how they truly feel in the long run, but it may hurt, so be prepared for that when you tell them what your needs are and that those needs don’t include them.
4. If you have to draw a line, draw a line. Sometimes relationships end because someone does something that crosses a line with the other person morally or ethically. If someone has crossed a boundary that they can’t come back from, you may need to firmly stand your ground and make sure that the other party knows that they cannot do this to or around you, ever, and that it won’t fly. If it’s something relatively minor, a second chance may be given, but if it’s something life-altering or that completely changes the way you see them, it might be time to say goodbye, at least for a while.
5. You are the only person who will be with you for your entire life. Why is it that we neglect ourselves and our own needs so much? Many of us have been conditioned into catering to the needs of others before our own, as in the case of parents, siblings, bosses, or other authority figures. Our own needs come second which minimizes our self-worth in a very subconscious and insidious way. If you don’t advocate for yourself, no one will.
I realize that some of these truths are harsh to face, especially if you have experiences to reference back to that these words may have reminded you of. However, when you are able to develop your sense of inner peace and calm, being mindful during challenging situations will become easier and easier, making it effortless to go with the flow of people and circumstances your life presents you with. Remember that it’s all about the journey, so all you have to do is remain mindful within each moment as much as possible and be true to yourself. Don’t worry about anybody else (unless you have kids, of course, but you know what I mean). All the strength and power and love you could ever imagine lies within you, and you are appreciated.
For more information about the Mindfulness Movement or the International Mindfulness Federation, please visit:
Let’s talk for a moment about the concept of letting go. When most of us consider letting go, we look at the thing we want to let go of without looking at the underlying reasons why that thing is so difficult to let go of. It becomes an impossible task to break a habit, simply because we are comforted and soothed by that habit and haven’t addressed the emotional issue causing this dependency on things that aren’t necessarily good for us. These habits can run the gamut from nail biting to drug addiction, but many of them are caused by hidden emotional trauma or subconscious conditioning or programming. Those internal things are what cause the dependency on whatever habits we have a hard time giving up, so it stands to reason that those are the things we should address in our mindfulness efforts, not merely the surface habits. Knowing this, we can finally begin to move forward with letting go of habits that don’t serve us.
This sounds like a lot of work, getting to what’s underneath it all, and make no mistake: the more unresolved issues you have, the more work you will need to do within yourself to address, release, and replace the habits that don’t serve you with habits that do. You can begin to determine which habits don’t serve you well based on the way they make you feel overall. Let’s take a shopping addiction as an example. Society likes to joke around about “retail therapy,” which makes this a habit that is not taken as seriously as it probably should be because we live in a society that promotes consumerism. However, that doesn’t mean that a shopping addiction is healthy or that you can’t choose to be a different way. And this goes for anyone who feels trapped by one or more bad habits; your definition of a bad habit will be different from others’ definitions of it, and as the above quote states, everyone is different and this is a complex topic.
To help you determine whether you want to phase out a particular habit or not, we have to first consider where the habit comes from, and where your belief about the habit comes from. For example, if you grew up with a parent who smoked but whom you also admired, you might subconsciously believe that smoking is admirable or makes you look a certain way. Realizing that this is only your conditioned belief about the habit can help you work through the layers of subconscious beliefs and begin letting them go. You might ask yourself, “Is smoking really an admirable trait? Does it really make me look cool, or do I just look gross?” You may also begin to condition yourself out of it by looking at graphic smoker lung photos, hearing people hacking up their lungs constantly, or otherwise making it seem disgusting to yourself so you become discouraged on a conscious level.
Maybe smoking isn’t your habit, so let’s go over a few basic questions you can take some time to reflect on when you’re looking at your habits and determining which ones to change. Any time we discuss inner work, being completely honest with yourself is paramount. You don’t have to tell anyone anything, but be honest with yourself.
1. When do you tend to participate in this particular habit? Is it when you’re stressed, sad, depressed, lonely, ambivalent, confused, stuck, etc.? Be very specific about how you feel and where that feeling might originate from. If you have flashes of memories or feel on the verge of a breakthrough, write it down.
2. How do you feel while you indulge in this habit versus shortly afterwards? Do you feel guilt or shame after partaking in this habit?
3. Why do you think that this habit is bad? Is it because you really think so, someone else convinced you (for example, a religious parent telling their child something is bad or a sin even when it isn’t; think Stephen King’s story, Carrie), or because you actually know, within yourself, based on educated research, that this habit is hurting you in the long run?
4. What experiences have you had around other people with the same habit? Have those experiences been mostly positive, and maybe you feel like you’ll miss out if you don’t continue the habit? Or have they been mostly negative and you use this habit to punish yourself subconsciously, for example any time you think you fail?
5. How do you feel about simply replacing your negative or bad habits with positive or good habits? Going back to the smoking example, maybe instead of smoking, you choose to go for a walk or do ten minutes of yoga when you have that urge. This is one way to less painfully phase out bad habits and develop good ones: replace the existing bad habit with a new good habit.
With these questions, you can determine where your habit comes from, why you do it, and whether you’re being true to yourself and your potential or not. You can also begin to understand the emotional aspects of why these habits get stuck, part of which is subconscious conditioning. Figuring out how you’ve been conditioned by your surroundings, experiences, and the people in your life can help you to create any changes you want to.
Be aware that beginning this journey into changing your habits can be challenging and may bring out some interesting responses among the people you surround yourself with. Self-improvement is a lifelong process, so don’t let anyone discourage you no matter who they are or how much you think they mean the best for you. It is extremely common for people to develop codependent relationships that have to be broken and rebuilt when those habits change, which can and most likely will make some waves and create some drama. Depending on how enmeshed everyone involved is, this could last for a while and cause all manner of problems.
Remaining strong throughout this process is difficult, so you may or may not relapse and slip backwards a couple of times. However, this is the part where you have to forgive yourself and remember you did it before, so you can do it again, and it will be fine. Loving the part of yourself that is attracted to this habit is important as well, so don’t judge yourself too harshly or beat up on yourself for anything. That will only prolong the process of getting back on the horse, so to speak. Forgiving yourself and understanding that your bad habit or addiction isn’t you will help a great deal.
Habits are the foundation of major life changes. A little effort every day can make a massive amount of difference in the big picture, so creating your life around habits you want to be sure to have each and every day is the best way that you can change anything you want to. After a week or two, the habits begin to become effortless, as long as they are maintained every day. If you skip out on them for too long, they will become more challenging to pick back up, so do what you need to do to take good care of yourself and manifest the life of your dreams, one habit at a time.
For more information about the Mindfulness Movement or the International Mindfulness Federation, please visit:
Sometimes we’re faced with life circumstances that may just seem like a string of bad luck or a series of unfortunate events. In this case, there may not be anyone to blame and there may not even be anyone to take responsibility for what’s happening; not without taking on responsibility that isn’t even their own. If this is the case, it can seem like life is out to get you, you may feel like you’re cursed, or you may even feel like your higher power is against you. Although this isn’t unnatural, it definitely isn’t healthy to get stuck there, so let’s take a look at how you can let go of challenging circumstances and reframe your mindset to attract better circumstances rather than dwelling on hardship and therefore attracting more hardship.
A big part of the reason why this specific type of forgiveness is so vital is because, when there’s no one to blame or take responsibility, it tends to instill a sense of powerlessness and victim mentality because we feel like we are at the mercy of life and the universe. The truth is that, in some circumstances, there just simply isn’t anything we can do, which tends to drive people a little crazy with worry and fear. In these cases, we tend to adopt the attitude of, “well, when life stops screwing me over, then I’ll stop worrying.” This thinking is backwards when you look at it from the perspective of law of attraction – the external world changes after we adjust our own emotional state of being, not the other way around, which is why the rich keep getting richer and the poor keep getting poorer, as the most obvious example.
It all starts within, which can be easier said than applied because – let’s be honest – it can be challenging to adjust your emotional state when everything around you seems to be falling apart. However, the more attention and emotional energy you give to the worry and anxiety about a situation, the more the situation will expand to give you more of the same energy, essentially reflecting your attitude back to you in the physical world.
Here are a few tips to help you adjust your emotional state so that you can begin pulling yourself out of whatever challenging life circumstances you may find yourself in and get back to being productive and happy from within.
1. Remember that you don’t have control over anything outside of yourself; you only have control over your own thoughts and state of being. This makes it easier to discern between what is worth worrying about and what isn’t. Even if something is “worth” worrying about, giving it more than a few seconds of thought actually does more harm than good, so rather than actively worrying about something, try letting it go and just make the decision to stay open and alert to opportunities that come your way that are solution-oriented for your particular situation.
2. If it’s no one’s fault, stop looking for someone or something to blame. Instead of focusing on whose fault something is, you can actively work through your stages of acceptance about the issue and let it go. Sometimes these problems will work themselves out in surprising ways. As an example, a few months ago I was working as a waitress at a local restaurant, and I’d received a letter stating that some of my personal information may have been compromised by an identity thief. I had nothing to my name, so I didn’t worry about it because there was nothing I could do. After my first two weeks of working, I was expecting my first direct deposit, but my bank closed my account the day before and I ended up just cashing a paper check, thinking how lucky it was that the timing was so perfect because it also alleviated my worries about the little money I did have ending up stolen. I simply opened a new account at a bank that was closer to where I lived anyway, and that was that. I never heard another word about it. Funny how things work out, right?
3. Any life circumstances that you are facing are meant to teach you something about yourself and your life (and how to live it in ways that best serve you and your divine purpose). They are also meant to lead you from one step to the next and to the next, in order to get you to wherever it is you’re going. Watching life unfold with a sense of curiosity and eagerness to learn feels much better than worrying, resisting, and inadvertently creating more trouble for yourself. The more attention and emotional energy you give to the negative stuff, the more it will grow and present itself within your life.
4. Forgive your life circumstances and let go of whatever resentment and feelings of being cursed you may have. The universe always says, “Your wish is my command,” so yes is the answer across the board. The thing is that you have to know what you want (for most of us it’s simply happiness, love, and freedom) and direct your emotional state of being to feel that way in advance so that you are able to receive more of the things that will support this emotional state. If you feel like life is against you, the higher power you believe in is against you, or the world is against you, then you will receive more of the circumstances to “prove” that as being the truth. Once you can understand this, it becomes more important to focus on how you’re feeling and make sure you do what you have to for yourself in order to cultivate happiness and peace within so it is reflected in your outer world.
5. Develop stronger faith in your journey. You don’t have to focus on religion or deities to utilize the power of faith – just believe in your life and yourself, and trust in your own ability to figure things out even if the solutions aren’t obvious at first. I like to think of it as an incubation period... everything I need will find me in the exact, perfect timing that will serve my life for the absolute greatest good. This mindset alone has opened me up to receiving various miracles in my life, some big and some small, and mindful self-awareness has allowed me to see the seemingly magical connections throughout my life and reverse engineer my “evidence” that this truly works if you commit to it and allow the laws of the universe to work for you rather than you stubbornly pushing against them (like most of us tend to do at first because we like to be right and gather evidence that we are).
Knowing these things can help you to reframe your mindset and begin focusing on more positive aspects of your circumstances so that you no longer give the negative aspects all the power. Working toward acceptance and letting go of your need for control will allow life’s amazing opportunities to flow to you much more easily. Forgiving your life circumstances is part of the process of getting there, and rather than being angry or depressed about things, try to stay focused on productivity, happiness, and keeping the faith in your journey and your amazing ability to figure things out. We all have an incredible ability to solve problems and be innovative when we need to be; training yourself to tap into this faith will organically grow your level of confidence and allow you to move through challenges much more quickly.
Thanks for joining us here on the Mindful Leader Blog! I hope that you’ve found this month’s articles about forgiveness useful, and that you will join us in December for more on mindful leadership practices.
To learn more about the Mindfulness Movement and the International Mindfulness Federation, please visit:
We’ve all been in situations where we feel wronged, hurt, or betrayed by someone. This can be very painful to experience, which means that we typically have to work our way through the stages of acceptance before we can forgive someone, and in certain cases, forgiveness alone may not serve you as well as also remembering what you’ve learned from the experience. The trick is to find your balance between forgiving those who have wronged you while maintaining the knowledge and lessons you’ve learned from the experience. Let’s take a closer look at what forgiveness is and how we can incorporate it into our mindful leadership practices.
Forgiveness, like so many things in life, has slightly different meanings for everyone depending on how you were raised and your life experiences as well as what you intuitively know to be true at the core of your being. The types of situations that may require you to forgive someone are as infinite as the types and depths of forgiveness that you are capable of as a human. Betrayal and forgiveness take on many forms, so your emotional guidance system comes into play quite a lot, especially when you’re navigating life with other people. Wherever there are people, there are bound to be mistakes, which means that forgiveness is a tool you should cultivate thoroughly if you’re working with people in any capacity.
Wikipedia has a very good definition of forgiveness:
Forgiveness is the intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offense, lets go of negative emotions such as vengefulness, with an increased ability to wish the offender well.
Now, as far as the purpose of forgiveness is concerned, there always seems to be an initial misconception that forgiveness is for the other person’s wellbeing rather than our own. As we continue to grow and then refine our understanding of forgiveness, we come to realize that it is for our own sanity and health that we must choose to forgive others, not for the sake of their soul or wellbeing (although it can’t hurt, right?).
Forgiveness serves us in many different ways on an emotional, spiritual, and even physical level. It also goes hand in hand with love – the real, unconditional brand of love – as well as compassion and empathy. It also goes hand in hand with inner peace and mindfulness, and because everything ties together in this way, understanding each component on a deeper level can greatly improve your overall wellbeing and help you put all of these loving practices into action in your daily life as a mindful leader.
On Practicing Forgiveness
Being able to wish someone well despite a betrayal, abuse, or falling out can sometimes be a challenge, especially if the actions against you were abusive or traumatizing in any way. This means a great deal of inner work for healing yourself, which can easily turn into bitterness and resentment toward those who wronged you and “made you” have to do all that hard work. Healing and working through trauma can be painful, so it takes some strength to face it head on and – make no mistake – the only way out is through, and emotional energy doesn’t just disappear into nothing. It stays within the body, causing other forms of damage and dis-ease over time.
This is a natural way to feel at first, but it is not a state of being that is worth holding on to. Resentment, anger, and vengefulness have a profound effect on your body because these emotions increase the stress hormone cortisol and decrease the “love” hormone oxytocin. These negative emotions also activate the fight or flight response, which – if activated on a consistent basis – can also have damaging effects not only on the body but also on the mind and spirit.
Forgiveness, on the other hand, is a method of releasing those negative emotions and coming to a place of inner peace, understanding, and if not love, at least compassion for those who know not what they do and have hurt you. Because, oftentimes, people hurt each other through subconscious means, learned habits, misunderstandings, or chaotic circumstances where people are simply trying to do their best with what they have. However, sometimes it is conscious and it is abusive. That is for your discernment, although dwelling on it too much can drive you a little crazy, especially if you’re trying to figure out the motivations of an abuser who uses manipulative tactics, which may very well be part of their modus operandi.
One of the most important things that someone told me during a point in my life when I was leaving an abusive relationship was, “If you keep going back for anything – your stuff, to talk, or whatever reason he gives you and you use as an excuse – then you are, in effect, giving him control. You’ve got to take your power back.” The reason I bring this up is because it was difficult to hear... I was only 23 at the time, but it was like my heart got zapped with an electric current for a minute, just before the warmth and excitement of epiphany swept over me. What’s interesting is that this helped me to realize that it all happens in the mind and heart... as long as I didn’t take responsibility for my part in what was happening, all the blaming and arguing in the world wouldn’t change anything and would only serve to keep me indirectly under his control... which had seeped into my perception and thoughts, the most dangerous place to allow anybody else to live for an extended period of time.
Knowing this, I certainly hope that you have gained a deeper level of understanding about the definition and purpose of forgiveness. It isn’t always easy in practice, especially during highly emotional situations, but finding your inner place of peace will also allow you to handle those types of situations in a much more constructive way. In some situations, you may need to cut your losses and walk away, letting go of toxic relationships that aren’t salvageable. If that isn’t a possibility, you’ll have the tools necessary to stay strong and handle things more gracefully than before, in effect neutralizing the situation.
Thank you so much for joining us here on the Mindful Leader Blog! I hope you’re having a wonderful week, and I look forward to sharing more information about forgiveness with you throughout the month of November.
To learn more about the Mindfulness Movement and the International Mindfulness Federation, please visit:
When we reach a certain dimension of consciousness, resilience becomes more attainable than it may have seemed during previously experienced times of chaos. The realization that life will never stop presenting us with challenges, whether the pause in between is a week, a month, or several years, will help you to nurture your desire for being resilient rather than just surviving. While survival was once the most important thing for humans, we have since evolved to a place where surviving shouldn’t have to be our main focus anymore, so why are so many of us stuck in this mindset? The reptile brain – which the ego uses to manipulate us into keeping ourselves trapped under the guise of being “safe” – is the only portion of our brain that is still concerned with survival rather than thriving, and in order to survive, playing it safe is required. However, in order to thrive, we have to be willing to take risks and challenge ourselves into growth and evolution. Cultivating our own sense of resilience is imperative to maintaining this attitude of abundance and thriving.
So, what are a few things that you can do on a daily basis that will help you to cultivate a sense of resilience and trust in the process? If you’re finding it challenging to stay in an optimistic state of mind for any reason, keep reading for five ways to cultivate resilience. Much of this is inner work, but you probably already figured that would be coming if you’ve been with us for any length of time.
5 Ways to Cultivate Resilience
1. Let go of any fears you may have that don’t involve a threat to your life or the life of a loved one. The majority of our problems these days as human beings in Western society are not life and death problems, so we should all learn to relax a little bit! Remember, the reptile brain is hard at work creating mountains out of molehills and trying to convince us that things are more disastrous than they really are. By letting go of these fears, you are releasing the need for control a little bit, and therefore releasing yourself from being controlled by your fears.
2. If you catch yourself thinking worrying thoughts, steer your thinking in a new direction. Your thoughts tend to drive your emotions, and your emotional guidance system is set up to let you know when you’re headed in the wrong direction – feelings like worry don’t serve you. In fact, they keep you from reaching your potential and keep you controlled by your fears. Learning to steer your thinking in a more positive direction can absolutely change your life, but it must become a daily practice in the moment. The most practical way to do this isn’t by policing every thought; rather, if you begin feeling a negative or uncomfortable emotion, try thinking about something else that steers you in a more pleasant direction.
3. When you meditate, you can begin to reprogram your subconscious mind by repeating a mantra to yourself and really focusing on it. For the purpose of cultivating resilience, you may choose the following or come up with one of your own that is appropriate. If you want to repeat something to yourself, please make sure it focuses on the positive and isn’t something about getting out of debt or wanting to see less violence... focus on the positive end of the spectrum because if you’re thinking debt, more debt will come. If you’re thinking violence, more violence will come. Be extremely careful with wording. On that note, here’s a great one for building resilience: “I can handle anything. I trust in my ability to figure things out.” If any part of this suggestion makes you feel anything less than joyful, create one that works better for you to inspire positive feelings and raise your vibrational frequency.
4. Build trust in yourself! There are multiple ways of doing this and inner work is very important here, but one of the easiest ways to begin building trust is by catching when you’re being critical of yourself and steer your thoughts into a more positive direction. Another way is by being brutally honest with yourself and catching yourself in dishonest thought patterns and stopping them (like when you’re making excuses or blaming someone else for something you know is your responsibility; don’t deny it, we all do this!. This will require you to be 100% personally accountable to yourself as no one else can know what it is you’re thinking. If you’re critical of yourself all the time and working on stopping that, you can also expect a period of time when your ego tries to turn that criticism outward toward everyone else. It will be okay; keep it to yourself as much as you can and steer your thoughts to a more positive topic. Think of this like a layer of your false self getting ready to fall away from your spirit to lighten your load. Healthy thought habits can greatly increase your quality of life, so shedding these various different false aspects of ourselves can mean the difference between a joyful existence and a miserable one.
5. Loving yourself for who you are and in turn realizing that you deserve the best that life has to offer you is imperative if you want to thrive for a lifetime. You can draw strength and resilience merely from the fact that you know you love yourself, that your inner being has your back, and that life is shifting around to line everything up for you perfectly. To begin loving yourself, a wonderful exercise is to look yourself in the eye in the mirror and say, “I love you,” as well as anything else you feel guided to say that is loving and encouraging. When I do this, I imagine I’m speaking directly to my soul, my inner being. I say, “I love you! Thank you for having my back and helping me to keep my faith strong, especially during hard times. I appreciate you and everything you do, as well as the wonderful creative endeavors we collaborate on. I love you.”
Thank you so much for reading! I hope that this article helps you to begin cultivating your resilience. Come back throughout October to read more about resilience and the subset of skills associated with it.
To learn more about the Mindfulness Movement and the International Mindfulness Federation, please visit:
Let’s face it… sometimes, things are up in the air for a while before opportunities or information come to light to help you continue to move forward. Other times, you simply have to tap into your patience in order to keep from going too stir-crazy while you wait for solutions to present themselves. So, when everything seems to be in limbo, how do you keep yourself from letting it get to you? Here are five ways in which you can keep your balance mindfully, especially during times of uncertainty.
Another circumstance in which you might feel stuck or at a standstill is if too many problems continue to present themselves. This is the perfect opportunity for you to ask yourself one very important question:
Is it really YOUR problem?
Or are you taking on other people’s problems and helping them rather than helping yourself?
This is a very common problem for caring and mindful leaders, so it’s important to learn how to keep your problems and responsibilities separate from those of your team. As a mindful leader, it isn’t your job to fix anything for someone else; if someone on your team needs help, you can use your coaching skills to help guide them to their own answers and solutions, and then allow them to take care of their own problems. Not only will this free up your time and energy for other things, but it will help them to feel empowered about what they can accomplish for themselves.
5 Habits for Mindful Balance
1. Get out of the problem. Essentially, this means distracting yourself and not dwelling on whatever is going on for the time being. Oftentimes, taking a few steps back will give you the opportunity to relax into a potential solution you may have missed if you were up in arms about the issue. Becoming a master of self-distraction is a good thing!
2. Reserve judgment. By keeping an open mind and understanding things from multiple angles or perspectives, you can more easily focus on solutions and problem-solving methodologies without getting emotionally involved in whatever issue is surfacing. The emotional aspect of a problem is often the most damaging, so maintain your bird’s eye view by suspending judgment.
3. Practice the art of allowing. Sometimes things just need to play out in whichever direction they will end up playing out, so allowing others the freedom to make their own decisions and do things the way they see fit will ensure that everyone is happy… or, if not, that everyone at the very least has to own their words and actions during the process.
4. Practice the art of acceptance. This is essentially accepting people for who they are, as well as accepting yourself for who you are and being okay with it, especially when you learn about personality quirks that may clash when combined. By not getting stuck on those personality quirks, we allow the other person to be who they are and the entire problem solving process becomes less stressful… and even fun.
5. Above all, maintain your inner peace. This is a daily habitual practice you should be implementing as a mindful leader no matter what may be going on in the world around you, in your life, or with your loved ones. No, this doesn’t mean that you should bury your emotions or try not to feel anything. On the contrary… this means finding daily habits that help you to stay centered, on track, balanced, and peaceful.
Your mindset is largely dependent on what you do for yourself and your emotional landscape every day. For some people, this may mean eating a balanced diet and getting plenty of exercise; for others, it may mean journaling and getting enough sleep. It’s up to you to determine which habits are most effective for you to be the best version of yourself and maintain your inner peace.
Whether you’ve been doing something for ages or you’re just beginning, failures and growing pains will surely find you over the years. Repeatedly. Sometimes way too often. It isn’t really a question of if, but rather when you will have to strategize for moving forward despite things being in a negative or undesirable state – or worse – in limbo, up in the air, or at a standstill. Maybe you’re waiting for more information, for someone to get back to you with an answer or a piece of the puzzle, or you’ve just set everything in motion and have nothing to do but wait. In any of those cases, limbo is rough and can be a maddening place to be, so for the sake of your own sanity, read on to learn five ways of moving forward mindfully… without losing your cool.
Now, that’s not to say you’re guaranteed to keep your cool in all cases, but you will certainly find it easier to maintain perspective, inner peace, and serenity. Some people may still trigger you, and that’s okay. You’re human. The trick is to build a solid set of internal habits that you can access anytime you need to. Of course this takes practice and maintenance on a daily basis, otherwise, it won’t be nearly as effective as it could be. However, these daily habits can be applied at any time of day, in any place, very discreetly, and you don’t even have to bring anything special… except for yourself.
Five Ways of Allowing Forward Movement
1. If you find yourself in a situation where strong emotions are involved, allow the feelings to wash over you and through you, but then let them go. Acknowledge that they exist, but reserve judgment of your own emotions. We’re not worried about how you feel about the way you feel. As a matter of fact, we’re more worried about getting you to shut your thoughts off for long enough to simply exist, which brings us to number two.
2. Be present… live in the now. This current moment is all that exists, and as we move into each of our subsequent current moments, we must continue to be present in the now. Getting caught up in regrets about the past or worries about the future has no point or purpose except to show us again what we don’t want. Unfortunately, this can mean we attract it back to us for a while, but we can oscillate like that quite often.
3. Live and let live, baby! You have about as much right to control that guy over there’s life choices as I do controlling yours. It’s not going to happen! Am I right? So… why worry about it? Just let that guy do his thing, you do yours, and I’ll do mine.
4. Meditate often. Yes, I know, I know… this is a recommendation in almost all of the mindfulness articles you will ever read, but why not recommend something that works so immensely well? This tried and true practice will allow you to further your life experience as well as open your consciousness to new and greater things.
5. Find something that feels better and keep doing that. Do this for 30 days and see where life begins taking you. Each better leads you closer to the very best, and that is a win each and every day.
Did you find this article useful? If so, please share it. You never know whom this may need to find in each moment.
How much control do you think you have over your life? During any given day, do you have control over much of anything, really? Well, maybe a little. However, the real question is (and be honest with yourself here): Do you feel like you need to be in control of everything around you all the time? The difference between being in control of your own mind and being in control of your environment is night and day. Let’s pinpoint some of the key things involved in healthy control over your mind versus unhealthy control over the environment.
The one extremely obvious point to note is that one version of control turns your focus inward, while the other version of control turns your focus outward. Why does this matter?
Have you ever tried to control the ocean? That would be impossible for one person to do. And you know as well as I do that barking orders or yelling at the ocean wouldn’t change a thing. It would simply continue on its course, ebbing and flowing in its natural rhythm.
However, you can go within and make the decision to go with the flow of the water. This allows for collaboration and harmony rather than control and force.
We could learn a lot from the ocean. Actually, we could learn a lot from water in general.
Becoming Like Water
Water, though flexible, is powerful, steady, and persistent as it carves out its own path. It is confident (have you ever seen water hesitate?), reliable, and typically stays put unless it gets too hot, in which case it evaporates and eventually falls back to the earth. No matter how you look at it, though, water is always present in the now because it has no mind to think thoughts of worry about the future or regret about the past.
1. The present is everything.
When you focus your attention in the present moment, you begin to notice details and spaces that you may not have noticed before. Time may even stretch out for you. This is because you have found a state of being completely focused and present and your thoughts aren’t a part of this focus.
Should you notice your thoughts wandering, just bring your focus back to your breath. The breath is vital to us, not only for staying alive, but also for connecting with our inner selves and balancing us out.
2. Breathing is powerful.
Think about it. With each breath you take, millions of tiny cells carry oxygen to every part of your body to keep it functioning properly. If any part of your body loses oxygen, your body will begin to shut down. If your brain loses oxygen for too long, it dies and can no longer function.
Breathing is life. If you’d like to do some mindfulness breathing, breathe in through your nose, hold for four, then out through your mouth, hold for four. You can count out four seconds, and then as your lungs become stronger and grow in capacity, you may begin to increase your count.
3. Life is liquid.
Just like water is liquid life, life is fluid like water. You may be able to see the big things coming and prepare for them, kind of like large rocks, waterfalls, or a boulder in a river, but you can’t always see all of the little obstacles hidden beneath the surface, nor can you foretell what other unforeseen things may interfere with the flow of the river.
You must remain flexible. If you aren’t able to go with the flow and work with it, your entire life experience will feel like an uphill battle of “making” things happen. If you choose instead to consider multiple options for multiple potential circumstances or outcomes, you will already have a higher chance of success because you’re addressing the problem creatively. Master this and you will be able to handle anything life throws at you!
4. Maybe the world does revolve around you… just a little.
By that, of course, I mean YOUR world. This is true for every person on the planet; think of yourself as a smaller universe within a larger one, within a larger one, within a larger one. Each level is within another level, all the way on up to the entire expanding universe and all the way down to the tiniest atom.
Knowing this, you can approach people you lead in a way that takes their perspective (“the world revolves around me”) into consideration while also helping the whole. Your own perspective will broaden the more you understand this, so try to look at everything from as many angles as possible.
5. Nobody else is really any of your business.
When you spend the majority of your time worrying about what someone else is doing, saying, or thinking, you hand away your power over yourself on a silver platter. If someone else is constantly worried about what you’re doing, saying, or thinking, they have given you power over them and it isn’t always pretty for either person.
Instead, focus on what you’re doing and staying in the moment while you’re doing it so that you can milk it for everything it has to teach you and show you by studying the details. This is how to remain mindful while you’re working on anything, whether you naturally enjoy it or not.
Thanks so much for reading! I certainly hope that this article helps you become a more mindful leader than before.
When we think of acceptance, various different things may come to mind depending on our life experiences and conditioning. However, when we think of what it’s like to feel accepted and loved, things become very much clearer to us. What do you think – does acceptance play an important role in effective mindful leadership? Why or why not? Read on to learn our theories on this practice and then weigh in in the comments if you feel called to do so. Let’s explore this topic further, shall we?
Acceptance is something that we all want, crave, and need, but unfortunately it is much easier to demand than it is to give, especially if you have never consciously practiced before. That’s because people are automatically focused very much outside of themselves and not enough on how they feel and what their thought patterns are. A big part of the mindfulness practice is to pay attention and become very highly aware of everything, be it good, bad, or mediocre. The step after that? Feeling and moving through things without judgment, and with full acceptance of whomever you’re interacting with at the moment. In the moment is all that ever matters.
Here are a few things you may choose to keep in mind consciously in order to cultivate your levels of acceptance organically, with practice.
Five Ways to Practice Mindful Acceptance of Others
Some of these ideas may seem obvious sometimes. However, being a human also means we are imperfect and make mistakes, and thus our memories don’t always serve us in the ways we need them to. Sometimes things slip through the cracks, slip our minds, and so on. And you know what? That’s okay and perfectly normal. But who doesn’t want to remember not to forget?
The key is to practice these inner habits daily so that they become automatic and you can focus on deepening your practice after that. Some of these are simple things to keep in mind for the bigger picture and how you may affect it with the ways in which you interact with other people.
1. Keep in mind that people are not two-dimensional. Yes, you may only see the coworker, boss, taxi driver, etc. However, these people have millions of things at play in their own lives, just like you do in yours. We are all multifaceted, complex, and experiencing various different things, problems, circumstances, challenges, etc.
2. Keep in mind that you’re not alone… and neither is anyone else. Many of us have a lot of things going on, especially right now with so many people going through challenges, so accepting that you’re not alone and that others are also experiencing similar things will help you to maintain your positive perception of others. It will also help you to relate more easily to your fellow man/woman/human.
3. Keep in mind that everything is connected. The more often you practice mindfulness and meditation, the deeper the connections you’ll be able to observe in your day to day life. More and more levels of connection and synchronicity begin to be revealed as you go, so dig deep.
4. Be aware of what kind of influence you are on the people around you, and thus, the world. Are you spreading positive or negative energies? In more practical terms, are you being kind and helpful to others, showing them compassion rather than impatience and intolerance? Or are you going out into the world with a negative attitude, infecting those around you with negativity as you treat them badly and cause more pain, which could very well result in a ripple effect? Are you creating happy ripples or painful ones?
5. Don’t fall into the complaining/bickering trap. The more often you allow negative complaints to pass through your lips, the easier those complaints begin to tumble out, and pretty soon that’s all you’re talking about. What you focus on grows, so if you want your problems to go away, don’t pay them any more attention than you absolutely have to, and if nothing can be done right now, just stop thinking about it. Driving yourself nuts won’t solve anything, after all.
I certainly hope that this helps you to practice accepting others in a way that creates more and more success for everyone involved.
For more information on the Mindfulness Movement and the International Mindfulness Federation, please visit: