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How To Tell If Someone Has A Truly Toxic Personality, According To Science

By | dating, family, Food for thought, friends, Motivation, narcissism, personality, relationships, self, self-development, Self-Improvement, stories, toxic people, toxic relationships, uplifting news

Your friend or someone you know has gotten fired from every job they’ve ever had. Their dates always flake on them and their friends always betray them. The common theme: it’s never their fault and if you press them on it you’re the one to blame.

According to a team of psychologists in Israel, these types of people may have a toxic personality disorder called “tendency for interpersonal victimhood” (TIV), which they describe as “an ongoing feeling that the self is a victim, which is generalized across many kinds of relationships.”

People with TIV wholly and truly believe they are never wrong and that their victimhood is a core part of their identity.

How to tell if someone ‘plays the victim?’

Not everyone who feels victimized is toxic. Bad things do happen and it’s okay to be upset about it.

Rather, TIV occurs when someone constantly feels like a victim and they bring others down with them.

Rahav Gabay and her colleagues determined that people with TIV tend to have four dimensions:

Constantly seeking recognition

Of all the allegedly horrible things that happen to someone with TIV, people never apologize to them. Worse, they don’t even acknowledge their wrongdoing.

While apologies can be hard to come by, this only becomes an issue when the person who plays the victim is in desperate search of recognition for the supposed bad things that are done to them.

A sense of moral elitism

People with TIV are never wrong. In fact, their moral compass is better than everyone else’s and they use this assumption to manipulate others into their own perspective.

This behavior may be a defense mechanism as a way to maintain a positive self-image.

Lack of empathy for others

Everything that happens to TIV people is the absolute worst and no one else’s pain or suffering matters, or so they think. This can especially be toxic in a relationship as TIV people only care about their own problems, never others’.

The route of this behavior can be that since the person believes they have suffered so much, they don’t think anyone else deserves empathy for their suffering.

This lack of empathy can also show up in a group or national level in the form of “competitive victimhood” or an “egoism of victimhood” where members of a group cannot see things from another group’s perspective.

Rumination about past victimization

Since romantic relationships never worked out in the past for TIV people, there’s no chance they’ll work in the future. This is a fallacy as the past doesn’t dictate the future, but it’s a core belief of people who always play the victim.

Always ruminating about past grievances and thinking it reflects the future is something perpetual victims tend to do.

Why TIV is toxic

People who always play the victim are extremely difficult to deal with because they’re selfish and never wrong.

They’re also obsessed with seeking revenge for those who’ve wronged them and may punish others who had nothing to do with it just because they’ve been wronged before.

Forgiving is part of growth

We all play the victim from time to time. Sometimes bad things really do happen to us and it makes us sour.

The problem is when the victimhood because constant and when the person never learns from their mistakes. It’s also problematic when they never forgive others – you don’t know what everyone is going through and nobody’s perfect.

Ultimately, the problem with playing the victim is it doesn’t allow you to learn or grow from the past. If you don’t acknowledge your faults, how can you make adjustments for the future?

If you know someone who’s always playing a victim, it might be time to reduce your relationship with them or have a frank discussion about it. Life is too short to be surrounded by toxic people.

More uplifting stories:

https://www.goalcast.com/2020/12/16/toxic-personality-disorder-tendency-interpersonal-victimhood/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=toxic-personality-disorder-tendency-interpersonal-victimhood

How Jane Fonda Rewrote Her Life With a Third Act

By | Food for thought, inspiring, jane fonda, purpose, self, self-development

The year is 2019, and 81-year-old, two-time Oscar-winner Jane Fonda is being arrested for the fourth week in a row. Her crime? “Non-violent disobedience.”

While being arrested, Jane takes the time to thank the BAFTAs for her lifetime achievement award– she will not make it to the awards ceremony, because she is protesting climate change outside the Capitol Building.

This is the same year that 16-year-old Greta Thunberg was named Time’s Person of the Year for leading a global movement of climate strikes protesting the same issue.

But Grace and Frankie star Jane Fonda’s history as an activist stretches back four decades. She has been both loved and hated for her dedication to her principles, but remains passionate about the issues she supports today as she was when she began her journey. 

Today, we see activists marching the streets of America and the entire world on the single topic of climate change, but Fonda’s colorful journey is one to explore. 

How did she become such a fearless crusader?

Jane’s first act of activism

As the daughter of Hollywood royalty (her dad was Oscar-winner Henry Fonda of 12 Angry Men, On Golden Pond), Jane grew up in the spotlight before owning it herself.

She built a career as a starlet and sex symbol by starring in films like The Chase and Barbarella, but though she was born in the shadow of her father’s success, Jane has always been determined to blaze her own path.

Jane made her first public display of activism during the Vietnam war, using her high profile to bring attention to the causes she was passionate about– and faced major backlash for doing so. Despite this, she forged a critically-acclaimed career, winning her first Oscar and refusing to star in movies that she didn’t feel held value for the public. This decision led to her second Oscar win, for a film about a Vietnam vet’s struggles.

Jane then branched out into comedies, starring in the hit movie 9 to 5 with close friend (and future Grace and Frankie co-star Lily Tomlin) and built a work-out video empire.

Then she announced her retirement. Things seemed over for Jane– but that was far from the truth.

Second act: learning from her mistakes

Jane Fonda became known as “Hanoi Jane” for her Vietnam activism and many say this was by far the most overboard she has ever gone to raise awareness of an issue she supports. In fact, this is where she started to gain enemies toward her activism. 

In 1970, Jane was falsely arrested for drug trafficking and detained, although her bag contained only vitamins. It was a moment that would set the tone for her future protests and arrests.

Jane’s loyalty to the USA has been questioned for many years. Many see her alleged “Anti-War” protests as “Anti-American” because she seemed to blatantly speak against the U.S. Soldiers

In later years, Jane has reflected upon and apologized for posing in the iconic picture:

I will go to my grave regretting the photograph of me in an anti-aircraft gun, which looks like I was trying to shoot at American planes. It hurt so many soldiers. It galvanized such hostility. It was the most horrible thing I could possibly have done. It was just thoughtless.

Jane Fonda to Barbara Walters

Second act: Growing from mistakes

Jane Fonda
Jane Fonda (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images)

The mistakes she made in her youth have led Jane to be more informed and to think more carefully and critically about the causes she supports.

Today, she is still out and about doing marches and “Fire Drills” to raise awareness of climate change, with support from other famous friends like Joaquin Phoenix and Ted Danson.

Jane has said in numerous interviews that she doesn’t care to get arrested as many times as it takes to make her point, while acknowledging that her privilege as a celebrity affords her the ability to do so. Spoken like a true activist.

Though critics of Fonda say she goes overboard with her statements and actions, those closest to her say that her activism is what keeps demons at bay and keeps her going and youthful.

It’s time for a third act

“I divided my life into three acts of 30 years each because every 30 years, I tend to change.”

Jane Fonda, HBO

Jane emerged from retirement in 2005, reinvigorated by years of experience out of the celebrity world. In addition to acclaimed performances on the stage and in film, Jane and best friend Lily co-starred in 7 seasons of Grace and Frankie. The show follows two best friends whose marriages have abruptly ended due to their husbands’ infidelity, as is all about them rediscovering their joie de vivre.

As Jane told HBO, “At the beginning of my third act, I realized — holy sh*t — I don’t know who I am. I was 60 and thought, I have maybe 30 more years. Third acts are important and can pull the rest together. So, I went about studying myself, which meant studying my parents and grandparents. Those are the people who determine who you are — who you then spend the rest of your life healing from. One of the things I hope people come away feeling is a need to examine their lives.” 

This is a profound personal development statement that rings true to most all people of any age and in any stage of life.

Through this realization, Jane has made peace with herself, ending her marriage and embracing her third act as a single woman.

I’m single, which makes me very happy.

Jane Fonda, Vanity Fair

She has also gone deep into contributing to the following charities: 

  • Alzheimer’s Association
  • Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes
  • Elton John AIDS Foundation
  • Heifer International
  • Los Angeles LGBT Center
  • Oceana
  • Peace Over Violence
  • V-Day

What we can learn from Jane

While not everyone agrees with Jane’s personal beliefs or motivations, we can all learn from her approach– fearlessly embracing her opinions and living in accordance with them, whatever the cost.

One of the rights we all hold dear is the right to speak our opinion, and to be heard. This is not a right to be heard if and only if you support one cause or the other, but a right that we all possess. We can see that Jane Fonda simply followed what her heart believed, and that can be interpreted many ways. 

Jane’s story teaches us that our story doesn’t end when we are struggling or when we reach a certain age. Through each act of her life, she experienced highs and lows, made mistakes and learned from them.

In your second and third acts, you, too, can grow and adapt while still being true to the beliefs and convictions that make up the core of who you are.

I love mistakes because it’s the only way you learn. You don’t learn from successes; you don’t learn from awards; you don’t learn from celebrity; you only learn from wounds and scars and mistakes and failures. And that’s the truth.

Jane Fonda, Flaunt Magazine

https://www.goalcast.com/2020/01/21/jane-fonda-rewrote-her-life-with-third-act/

How Can Boundary Setting Turn a Toxic Friendship Into a Healthy One?

By | emotional health, Food for thought, goalcast originals, self, stories

Boundary setting is surprisingly life-changing. For people pleasers, the authentic expression of wants, needs, and desires is often secondary to fulfilling the needs of others. The curious trap is, “others” are usually loved ones. And these are typically the relationships in most need of boundaries. 

The communication of needs is balanced with fears of upsetting someone, appearing selfish, being rejected or losing relationships completely. If done correctly, however, setting boundaries saves friendships. It doesn’t destroy them.

I’ve decided to highlight friendships for two reasons. Friendships are intimate and committed relationships spanning years. But they don’t have the supportive literature or guidance they deserve; most topics, particularly online, center around romance of familial relationships. 

Despite being just as complex (minus the addictive qualities of “falling in love”), friendships don’t receive the same level of scrutiny as romance. Yet there’s high potential for codependency, communication breakdowns, and even break-ups.

A breeding ground for resentment

As I explained with “skilled niceness,” a lot of the time “nice” behavior is inauthentic. There’s no avoiding that if we continually overexert ourselves or put others’ needs first, there will be a slow, residual build-up of tension.

This tension manifests emotionally as resentment or frustration or annoyance or bitterness. Interestingly, in my experience, the relationships in most need of boundaries are also those where people feel most comfortable expressing “shadow” emotions.

In these relationships, there’s an interesting balance. There’s less of a facade than casual relationships, yet not quite enough vulnerability to express deeper desires. For example, you might find yourself snapping at your best friend or becoming passive aggressive in ways you wouldn’t with someone you know less well.

Pay very close attention to your inner messaging system around such emotions. Personally, to feel (not just intellectually understand) what authentic boundaries I desire, I’m vigilant of my emotional reaction to situations. I ask myself — what is my unconscious attempting to tell me?

Using this is a guide, I dig deeper and spot the ways I’m overexerting or saying yes (or no!) too often. I have to look within, understand why. To put it crudely, guilt is a huge catalyst in saying yes inauthentically, while bitterness, frustration or resentment are signs I’m overly compromising.

Once I gain clarity, I have to take responsibility, rather than blame the situation. When it comes to boundaries, responsibility is enacted through communication.

Honesty is the best policy

Picture two long-term friendships. The first is largely running on auto-pilot, with little communication and no expression of boundaries. Over a number of years, expectations around behavior, imbalances in emotional support, and codependent traits have piled up and remained unchallenged.

In the second friendship, there are conscious attempts to express boundaries. On the short-term, this is more difficult than the easier path of “avoiding conflict.” There’s an emotional stirring (guilt, anger, upset) and challenging conversations. However, through this, both people honestly share what’s working and what isn’t. 

The framework for the relationship is updated, consciously. By clearing the air, new standards and agreements are set. There’s a greater mutual understanding of needs. There’s more space. There’s less unspoken, and difficult emotions have been processed.

Feeling the fear and talking anyway

In my experience, such conversations seem terrifying yet when they’re approached with compassion and understanding, they deepen the levels of intimacy and closeness in all friendships. However, to avoid pitfalls of victimhood and resentment, we must accept full responsibility.

Many of us maintain and nourish relationships through a sense of obligation. The expression of boundaries is in many ways the search for the truth of the relationship, a relationship built on honesty and not expectation and obligation. This isn’t to be mistaken for coldness or a merciless approach. Instead, it’s a gentle exploration and search for common ground.

Such conversations are difficult with friends you’ve known for years. A lot of expectations and behavioral patterns are ingrained over time. Yet all friendships can benefit from a new lease of life and lightness when closer aligned to what feels right.

Embracing the risk of drifting apart

A few years ago, whilst training as a coach, the importance of setting boundaries was reiterated over-and-over. Stepping up from supporting friends to professional helper required a radically new approach to investing time and energy. During this period I made the clear intention to stop living my life imprisoned by a sense of obligation. 

Obligations crippled me. I shaped myself to fit the mold of others.

There is a risk of relationships drifting apart when we stop living by obligation. There’s no guarantee your boundaries will be respected. This is okay.

If a relationship drifts because of open communication and a realization the relationship isn’t authentically aligned, it was supposed to drift. If a relationship drifts because someone lacks respect for your boundaries, it was supposed to drift.

Both of these scenarios differ from relationships drifting due to building resentment and unexpressed needs. Here, honest communication can save the relationship before it’s too late.

In such situations, I ask myself: do I want to hold onto relationships through fear of losing them? Is this a skillful way to invest energy? Do I want to be friends with someone who shows little respect for my needs? Are we drifting authentically, or because of a communication breakdown?

No one else knows your truth unless you express it

Friendships are highly individual and complex. I’ve experienced codependency in many forms and from both sides, be it emotional support, social “back-up” (for example, going to an event and always needing certain friends nearby), expectations around how often to see each other, emotionally availability, etc.

It’s not that I’m ever surrounded by manipulative people, either. All my friends are caring, loving individuals. I’d just developed a trait of automatically appeasing, perhaps driven by the unconscious fear of rejection. When this is the default stance, the natural flow of relating will be guided by whoever takes the lead.

No one else other than ourselves knows what we want, our “truth.” If we don’t communicate and say: “You know what guys, I want to cut back on alcohol and I’d like to be up early Saturday morning, so I won’t join for drinks,” then it’s likely we’ll receive further invites to bars and clubs. We have to take full responsibility for communicating what we need. 

Getting annoyed at others for acting against our needs, when those needs remain unexpressed, is self-sabotage. It’s futile and causes unnecessary suffering.

Living for the authentic yes

The sense of freedom and autonomy found through the process of boundary setting is profound. I didn’t go from one extreme to the other. But I was able to tune-in and re-calibrate.

I’ve moved closer to what I really want from life. I’m able to communicate clearly, most of the time. I still find such conversations challenging but I’m improving. 

Rather than create more distance, I say no without guilt and say yes with conviction. Before, I was always saying yes with indifference. Now I enjoy the pleasure of an authentic yes.

If in doubt, always remember: one enthusiastic yes is worth a thousand forced yeses.

This works both ways. What genuinely feels better when roles are reversed — someone who says yes to everything? Or a “yes” from someone who has clear boundaries and often says no? 

When the latter says yes, you know there’s a high chance the decision is made with conviction. These are the yeses I wish to receive. With these yeses, I know where I stand.

Setting boundaries improves our respect for others

The mirroring of this is increased respect for others’ boundaries. If we don’t set boundaries, it’s unlikely we’ll be particularly tuned into others’ needs. If we feel obliged to act for others, we’ll likely (albeit unconsciously) expect the same in return. This causes problems down the road. It’s unhealthy.

When exploring the benefits of boundary setting for ourselves, we’re better able to respect others’ without condition. Setting boundaries and feeling the impersonal nature of their expression frees us from irritation or rejection when others do the same. It allows us to understand their expression isn’t personal, either.

Friendships are give and take. There will be times where there are imbalances. But if unhealthy traits have solidified in the relationship and make either or both people uncomfortable, it’s time to talk. It takes courage. There will be nerves. But it could be the conversation that saves your friendship.

More helpful articles:

https://www.goalcast.com/2020/01/17/toxic-friendship-boundary-setting/

Lady Gaga Tells Oprah How She Made It Through Her “Psychotic Break”

By | Food for thought, inspiring, Inspiring Celebrities, lady gaga, mental health, news, oprah, self

Lady Gaga has never been one to shy away from the tough topics, and she got seriously intimate and real this past week when she was interviewed by Oprah during the kickoff event of her wellness tour, 2020 Vision: Your Life In Focus.

Gaga, who is now sporting shocking pink hair, cut short her own vacation to join Oprah and open up about mental health.  

The pop star, who first rose to fame with her wild pop music and fashion, explained her new perspective: “The most shocking thing I can possibly do is be completely vulnerable and honest with you about my life, what I’ve been through, the struggles that I’ve seen that I have also been a part of, and share that with the world so that I can help other people who are suffering.”

Gaga opened up about her mental health struggles

In conversation with Oprah, Lady Gaga confessed to having suffered a psychotic break in the past due to PTSD that stepped from a serious trauma she experienced at the age of 19.

She was starkly honest about what that felt like: “This part of the brain where you stay centered and you don’t disassociate, right? It slammed down… It’s very difficult to describe what it feels like other than that you first are completely tingling from head to toe and then you go numb, but what is essentially happening is that the brain goes, ‘That’s enough. I don’t want to think about this anymore. I don’t want to feel this anymore.’ Boom. You break from reality as we know it.”

Gaga shared her experiences in an effort to destigmatize mental health struggles and to encourage those who are suffering to seek medical treatment.

Where her PTSD came from

She gave a birds-eye view into how she experiences PTSD and how she mistook her chronic illness, fibromyalgia, which afflicts her with frequent, agonizing physical pain for a symptom of that trauma.

Gaga told Oprah, “I was raped repeatedly when I was 19 years old, and I also developed PTSD as a result of being raped and not processing that trauma.” She explained, “I did not have a therapist, I did not have a psychiatrist, I did not have a doctor help me through it. All of a sudden, I started to experience this incredible, intense pain throughout my entire body that mimicked, actually, the illness that I felt after I was raped.”

How she handles it all

Lady-Gaga

Lady Gaga says she wouldn’t be where she is today without truly addressing the pain and illness she was experiencing.

She credits, “Medicine, therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), cognitive therapy,” as well as transcendental meditation, daily exercise, and “radical acceptance.”

It’s also about accepting there’s something bigger than yourself.

“I consider myself a spiritual, religious woman. I don’t go to church every Sunday but I do pray every day,” she said.”All the things I’ve been through, I think they were supposed to happen. I was supposed to go through this.

“I think it happened because God was saying to me, ‘I’m going to show you pain, and then you’re going to help other people who are in pain because you’re going to understand it.’ Now when I see someone in pain, I can’t look away.”

Lady Gaga’s courage in sharing her story and her struggles is a powerful reminder that we can get through all kinds of suffering if only we are able to seek help. Once we get healthier and grow even stronger, we’ll be in the best position possible not just to achieve our dreams but to help others in pain as well.

More inspiring celebrities:

https://www.goalcast.com/2020/01/08/lady-gaga-tells-oprah-about-her-psychotic-break/

How To Simplify Your New Year’s Resolution With This One-Word Method

By | Food for thought, How-To, mindset, motivating, self

The 2010s have been nothing short of monumental. From technological advancements, changes in societal dynamics to the state of the planet, the years have been challenging and shifting our ideals about who we are and who we want to be.

On a global scale, the impact of the last 10 years has been massive but it affected people on a personal level too. Every single one of us has been swayed by the multitude of events in the past years. As we head into a the next decade, we get to ask ourselves what we want the next years to look like.

Before making a New Year’s Resolution, take some time to reflect

Trying to project the future can definitely seem like a daunting task but it doesn’t have to be. So often, at the end of the year, we get stuck in the whole New Year’s Resolution cycle.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to say that making a New Year’s resolution is a bad thing. Its great! But the cycle is that we don’t truly acknowledge who we are when we make them and who we want to be by following them through.

Instead, we make our resolutions based on what we want and then can’t see them through. This is because we never truly reflect on how having that accomplished that resolution thing will change us or make us feel in the long run.

Because we don’t take the time to look at who we are in the present moment with gratitude, acceptance, and appreciation for just how far we have come, we fail to create the change that we want. Before we make a resolution, we need to reflect on the reason why we need to add a certain change or thing to our lives.

In order to make your New Year’s resolution, but also your New Decade’s resolution, effective, you want to get very clear on who you are right now. But you also want to make sure that you are reflecting and looking at yourself with the utmost gratitude. 

Who were you at the start of the decade?

For my part, I was pregnant and married to a narcissist with no idea what my future was going to look like or who I even was anymore. I had lost touch with my magic, the parts of myself that were intuitively me. 

Take stock of who you were back in 2010. Some easy ways to do this is to listen to the music you liked then or watch your favorite movie that came out that year.

Acknowledging things that spoke to your soul, like film and music, helps you to reconnect with the person you were. Even if that person isn’t someone you are proud of, it doesn’t mean that you should avoid looking at them.

In fact, by accepting the parts of us we are ashamed of and the times in our lives when we weren’t the greatest, we help to heal ourselves and move towards the next stage of our lives. 

Make sure to think about your progression

What happened between 10 to 5 years ago to make you the person you are today? Take a bit of time and acknowledge the pieces of you that fell into place and forgive yourself for anything you did that you weren’t proud of.

But also, be sure to note all the achievements you are proud of. They have set the building blocks for who you are now.

Five years ago, I was reconnecting with my inner magic and starting to help other people do the same. I was healing from trauma and clearing blocks in the thick of PTSD. It is a far cry from who I am now, even though it still feels like just yesterday. 

Think of who you are right now

And, that brings us to now. Who were you at the start of this year? What did you believe in? What did you value? How has this past year changed you or helped you grow? What have you learned? What have you achieved? 

The Holiday Season isn’t just good for cookies and Christmas trees. It’s a time for reflection and introspection. So before you decide who you want to be in the coming years, make the end of the year a time to honor who you are right now. 

At the start of this year, I was struggling with my notion of what is next. I had been trying to get a publishing deal for nearly three years, battling with my mindset and playing too small.

However, I end this year being a bestselling author with a publishing deal and I am the host of a metaphysical comedy podcast. I am now the person that I have always dreamed I would be, even if in the last ten years I did none of the things that I had been hoping to achieve.

And that is almost better. It is an incredibly freeing feeling to finally be the person your soul has always called you to be. 

Start by choosing your word

So, how do you decide on who you want to be and how do you build a resolution to fit that? Well, I have come up with an exercise that I call choosing your word. 

Now, before I even get into how to do this, I want to be sure to state that this is not meant to be complicated or confusing. In fact, if you notice you start to make things complicated while doing the exercise, be sure to pause and explore why you are doing so. It will help you further into your journey towards healing.

The goal of this exercise is to choose one, and only one word, that you want to strive for in the next year. By doing a resolution this way, it allows you to constantly connect with the person you are becoming and striving to be in five seconds or less.

It eliminates all the shame that can come up if you don’t hit you resolution goal, like losing 50 pounds by June. In fact, by narrowing the process down to one word, you gain more clarity and the ability to renew your drive whenever you want just by repeating that word. 

Figure out your word and simplify your resolutions

So who do you want to be this time next year? And what is one trait that that person will have? There is your word. That trait is the thing you should dedicate this year to. 

For example, if you want to lose weight your word could be “healthy.” If you want to cure your anxiety, your word might be “brave.”

My word for the next year, and most likely the rest of the decade, is authenticity. I know that, in order for me to truly keep following the path that is meant for me, I must get comfortable showing my authentic self at all times. 

Once you have your word, write it down, put it on your wall, or just have your phone remind you of it every now and then. Remember, whoever you are becoming is a result of who you have been, so acknowledge your power and take the leap into the next version of you.

More helpful articles:

https://www.goalcast.com/2019/12/24/one-word-new-year-resolutions/

Why New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work For You (And What To Do Instead)

By | Food for thought, how-to guide, mindset, motivating, self

New Year’s resolutions have never been my thing. While I’m very aware that, for many, they can be powerful, life-altering promises to the self, it does seem that the vast majority of people fail at keeping their resolutions.

I’m actually convinced that speaking these promises out loud to others at holiday parties actually lessens one’s chances of success. Let’s face it: New Year’s resolutions are gimmicky.

The fact is, if you’re going to make meaningful changes in your life, the time is now, not later.

Studies on the holding power of New Year’s resolutions are inconclusive at best. One survey finds that 4 out of 5 people will eventually break their resolutions, while another reports a higher success rate. Yet, both agree that approximately a third of resolutions don’t make it past the first month.

Another study found that less than 10% of New Year’s resolutions are actually achieved. While there’s a lot of advice floating around out there, I believe that in order to do your personal goals justice, you need to understand a few key truths about failed resolutions.

Here is a helpful guide for implementing change in the New Year:

1. Significant change is not instant (nothing worthwhile is)

It’s hardly news that people often centre their resolutions around kicking bad habits. Whether it’s smoking, drinking, or not eating right, I’d say stopping unhealthy behaviors makes up the bulk of New Year’s resolutions.

But we often underestimate how long it takes to kick a bad habit. Common knowledge says about 3 weeks. We also often forget that when you stop doing something ‘bad,’ you need to replace it with something ‘good.’ But it can take 66 days on average before a new habit becomes, well, habitual.

My point? Many people become discouraged and give up long before putting the necessary time in.

2. It’s better to do one thing wholeheartedly than 10 things halfway

Resolution enthusiasts often make long lists of rather all-encompassing behaviors they want to change, like losing weight rather than gaining it or saving money rather than spending it.

Many of these goals require serious heavy lifting and sustained effort. So start by picking only one thing and then dedicating all your efforts to achieve it, starting from scratch.

There is no need to multitask when it comes to self-improvement.

There’s a resolution for you: stop glorifying people who multitask and hone in on your individual goals.

3. Cold turkey is not necessarily hardcore, succeeding is

If your goal is to cut back on caffeine, promising yourself you will “never drink coffee or energy drinks ever again” is an extreme statement. This method is called ‘cold turkey,’ and it involves abruptly ceasing a habit without preamble.

While it can be the most effective tactic for some, scaling back slowly and gradually sticks much better for many. So rid yourself of the notion that it should be all or nothing.

4. You can’t skip the process (the journey is the destination)

It’s all too easy to get overwhelmed by focusing on the destination (substantial changes down the road) as opposed to the journey, which contains small changes in the here and now. But unfortunately, the journey cannot be skipped over.

Harvard social psychologist Amy Cuddy says that for years her resolution was to ‘become a runner.’ To her, this meant becoming a hyper self-disciplined person capable of tackling marathons.

Each January, she’d start running, only to quit weeks later, feeling like a failure. But one day she decided to just go for a run—without thinking of all those future runs. She didn’t worry about time or judge herself for needing a process. This was what ultimately helped her focus on starting to run rather than feeling like a failure for not being a runner. 

5. Motivation has a shelf life and it’s best to acknowledge that

No one stays motivated for all 365 days of the year. First of all (particularly for those of us who live through winter seasons), coming down from the holidays can feel particularly harsh.

With the entire year still ahead of you and summer a million miles away, big life changes involving massive self-discipline can represent a serious challenge. Not to mention, when you have a whole year to achieve something, it’s easy to procrastinate—possibly forever.

Short-term daily or weekly goals tend to be more successful because you feel rewarded regularly and motivated to keep moving toward that next achievement. And then one day, you’ve accomplished something big, without even noticing how you got there.

What to do instead?

If something in your life’s got to give and you’re determined to make New Year’s resolutions, I do hope I’ve convinced you in a more general sense that one need not wait until January to implement change. That being said, I offer you these additional tips as well:

  • Put less pressure on yourself by setting well-integrated, forgiving intentions rather than die-hard, goal-oriented resolutions. The difference? An intention lacks the inherent succeed-or-fail opposition. It also values effort, experience, and process rather than only results, and is rooted in the present instead of the future.
  • Base your intentions on what you want to be doing rather than what you think you should be doing, and it’ll make all the difference in the world.
  • Frame it positively. Instead of telling yourself you will watch less TV, or drop that extra weight, or be more social, why not enroll in a dance class and commit to going?

Ultimately, as the American poet Carl Sandburg said, “beware of advice, even this.” No two people are wired the same way, so there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to self-improvement. One thing’s for sure, though: if you have the will, you got this.

More helpful articles:

https://www.goalcast.com/2019/12/19/why-new-years-resolutions-dont-work/

Struggling With Your Mental Health During the Holidays? Try This

By | Food for thought, how-to guide, inspiring, mental health, personal essay, self

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… Isn’t it?

The truth is, despite the obvious benefits, the holidays can be a stressful time. From sorting presents, endless socializing, unrestricted indulgence and sky-high expectations, it takes skill to flourish during the festive season.

Although most of us feel pressure as the end of the year draws closer, those whose mental health is already strained may particularly struggle.

I know this all too well; during my darker years of anxiety and depression, part of me dreaded Christmas.

The pressure of holiday happiness

In an attempt to fit in with the Christmas spirit, I went to great lengths to sustain a facade of happiness, which exhausted my energy. Below the surface, I felt anxious and guilty for not feeling a certain way.

Why can’t I enjoy Christmas? Everyone else is happy, what’s wrong with me?

These 4 tips have helped me flourish during the festive break; they’re applicable to everyone, but particularly those feeling a little anxious about the upcoming period.

Here’s how to handle holiday struggles:

1. Embrace imperfection

Experiencing depression or anxiety is hard any day of the year. But added pressure to be merry and socialize may make symptoms stronger. Excessively high standards around how we feel at Christmas are created by “shoulds” — statements of the way things should be.

This is emotional perfectionism. For example, you may hold beliefs such as “I should be happy on Christmas Day,” “I shouldn’t feel anxious relaxing with friends,” “I shouldn’t get annoyed during social events with family.”

Anytime we hold to such “should” statements, we deviate from our reality. Expectation creates distance from reality and resistance to how you really feel.

What’s the solution?

Simply bringing awareness to your should statements eases perfectionist tendencies.

Ask yourself: what way do I feel I should be?

In addition, many of us have perfectionist ideas of how the day will unfold. How do you feel the day should unfold? Write your answers down in a journal or talk them through with someone you trust.

Then, using cognitive rationalization techniques, challenge those should statements.

For example, “I should be happy on Christmas Day,” can be altered to “I’m not feeling too happy, and that’s okay. I’ll be with what I’m experiencing and try my best to enjoy the day.”

2. Set boundaries

Expressing and setting healthy boundaries was a massive breakthrough in my mental wellbeing, particularly around Christmas.

I live away from home, so I don’t see my family much. When I’m back, it’s an adjustment. I love my family to bits, but they’re a lot more talkative and active than I am. At one point, this used to frustrate me. A lot.

One Christmas when I was struggling in my personal life, it reached the point when I snapped.

I realized I was expecting them to just know I was struggling to keep up with conversation. I engaged in difficult conversations, but expressed that this was simply a difference in character and it didn’t mean there was a lack of love if I needed a break.

My family were great about it, respected my honesty, and things improved.

When setting boundaries, I remind myself to do so with compassion and not resentment.

The longer we go without expressing boundaries, the more we place blame, and this opens the door to resentment. Instead, we have to take responsibility and express with heart.

A note on this topic: if your loves ones encroach on your boundaries and there’s no room to express that, or your boundaries are completely disrespected, remember there is no obligation on your part.

You can leave the situation if this feels like the right thing to do for you.

Friends-toasting-to-the-holidays

3. Care for your physical health too

Do you have a sweet tooth? A recent study by the University of Kansas discovered added sugars contribute to depression. Those sweet Christmas delights trigger metabolic, inflammatory and neurobiological processes that can further decrease low mood. 

While that’s not to say treats have to be canceled, it’s worthwhile paying attention to your diet if you are prone to depression.

Be aware of how certain foods affect your mood. Adjust if necessary.

Additionally, alcohol consumption is a hot topic in relation to mental health. I quit drinking 18 months ago, and I’ve noticed an increased sense of ease around Christmas. Years before, I had become aware that I had anxiety due to the constant opportunities to drink. They felt like obligations, really, and I didn’t have enough conviction in saying no. 

As I socialized over beer and mulled wine, my mental health deteriorated, and I didn’t feel strong enough to abstain. If you’d like a break, I recommend talking to a loved one and explaining why, if you’re comfortable.

Lastly, getting in the gym when I can, even if only for a moderate session, keeps my body in check and creates more ease in my psyche.

4. Embrace impermanence

When you’re a kid, the holiday build-up seems to last forever. Every advent calendar door opened or candle lit feels like the equivalent of a few months as an adult.

With Christmas music starting mid-August and adverts incessantly invading personal space from September, the day itself can feel really significant.

While it can be, remember that, like everything in life, this too will pass. In the blink of an eye, it’ll be New Years, then January, then summer, then Christmas music in supermarkets again.

I find this a useful reminder to avoid creating “fixed” concepts in my mind.

No matter how the day unfolds, soon it’ll be yesterday, then last week, then a few years ago.

Not only does this put the magnitude of the festive period into perspective to alleviate unnecessary pressure, it will remind you to compassionate towards yourself, too.

It’s also a gateway to appreciating the days as they come– and to going into the new year stronger than ever.

https://www.goalcast.com/2019/12/18/holidays-mental-health-struggles/

Tina Turner Beat the Odds by Leaving Ike– and She’s Still Shining at Age 80

By | emotional health, Food for thought, heartbreak, inspiring, Inspiring Celebrities, musicians, self, tina turner

Whether it’s her enduringly poignant hit “What’s Love Got to Do with It?,” the subtle-not-so-subtle sense of raw sexuality and power mingling in “Private Dancer”, or the vulnerably joyful tone of her timeless classic “Simply the Best”, Tina Turner is best known for her strong and scintillating solo music career of the 1980s. 

Often dubbed the bonafide Queen of Rock ‘n Roll, Tina celebrated her 80th birthday, prompting a look back through the 8 (count them) decades of struggle, badassery, and success that make up her life thus far– including a career spanning 6 decades.

If there’s anything we can learn from the inimitable Tina Turner, it is that in spite of numerous personal tragedies, she has always bounced back stronger.

Tina’s life changed when she left Ike

Born Anna Mae Bullock, Tina Turner was the daughter of a Tennessee farm worker. She moved around a lot in the early days, and eventually found herself in St. Louis where she met bandleader Ike Turner in 1957 and entered into a musical duo– an long-infamous 16-year-long abusive marriage– with him.

Many of us will remember the very disturbing 1993 Tina Turner biopic What’s Love Got to Do with It, which documented her rise to fame under the constant threat of Ike Turner’s rage. The film was adapted from her 1987 memoir, I, Tina, in which she revealed in brutal detail the years of abuse, humiliation, and manipulation she went through during her marriage, including public beatings, infidelity, and a suicide attempt. 

When Tina was finally able to walk away, she barely had a cent to her name

Ike and Tina Turner Portrait
(Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Still, she managed to work her way back up, and launch an incredibly successful solo career in the 80s— even though she was a good 20 years older than most artists in the pop world. She rose to stardom in her 40s and 50s— as a woman, and an African American to boot, I might add.

Talk about beating the odds, to hell and back!

One might say that Tina’s relationship with Ike was the original hurdle she had to contend with to get to where she is today.

She was finally able to shine

The strength she had to leave an abusive relationship—in spite of the financial hardship and struggle that followed—remains a testament to her inspiring vitality.

And hey, unfortunately her story is still very relevant to women struggling to leave abusive partners, of which there are many.

Today, Tina says she no longer thinks much about Ike, who died of a drug overdose in 2007.

Tina’s true love helped heal her

If Tina’s an inspiration to those who believe they’re too old to rise into their true power, let her also be an inspiration to those who think it’s too late to find love.

She married her long-term love, German producer Erwin Bach (over 16 years her junior) in 2013 at the age of 74—which she details in her 2018 memoir My Love Story.

They had been romantically involved for 27 years before marrying. But, just three weeks after the wedding, she suffered a stroke and had to relearn how to walk. And that’s not all. She also got intestinal cancer, followed by kidney disease. 

Through it all, she’s found comfort in her Buddhist beliefs. That’s right, Tina’s been a blooming Buddhist since 1973. “In Buddhism you accept the life and the death. I was ready, I just thought it was my time,” she’s said.

But, it totally wasn’t, because her husband Bach donated one of his kidneys, and the transplant saved her life. Now, she’s not just alive, but thriving. How’s that for transcendent romance?

Her struggles weren’t over

Turner had two biological sons, Craig, who she gave birth to when she was only 18 (his biological father was Kings of Rhythm saxophonist Raymond Hill), and Ronnie (son of Ike Turner). She also adopted two of Ike Turner’s children, Ike Turner Jr. and Michael Turner, raising all 4 as her own. 

If all that already seems like a lot, consider Tina Turner’s most recent personal tragedy: her eldest son Craig took his own life just last year at the age of 59.

Taking to Twitter after it happened, Tina called it her “saddest moment as a mother.”

I still don’t know what took him to the edge.

Tina to the BBC in 2018

Turner told the BBC that his passing came as a total shock given that he’d just fallen in love and started a new job.

A poison that turned into medicine

Tina turner
(Photo by Ricky Vigil/GC Images)

These days, Tina Turner lives in Switzerland with her husband, and is currently enjoying her 10th year of retirement.

Back in 2000 she launched a farewell tour, but ended up taking to the stage again in 2008 at the age of 69 to celebrate her 50th anniversary in music. She gave it the type of energy that would have depleted someone half her age, and got through 90 shows. Her last performance took place in 2009 in front of a very lucky British audience.

If you don’t feel you’ll ever get enough Tina though, save your stress. Tina, The Tina Turner Musical is currently on Broadway. At the opening of the show, she told the crowd:

It’s like poison that turned to medicine… I can never be as happy as I am now.

“People think my life has been tough, but I think it’s been a wonderful journey,” she explained in 2018. “The older you get, the more you realize it’s not what happened, it’s how you deal with it.”

Ageing has been a blessing

On her very recent 80th birthday, Tina rightfully took to social media to celebrate her day.

“Yes, I’m 80″ she said. “How did I think I would be at 80? Not like this. How is this? Well, I look great, I feel good, I’ve gone through some very serious sicknesses that I’m overcoming.”

It’s like having a second chance at life. I’m happy to be an 80-year-old woman.

While another Tina tour seems hard to imagine at this point, with all she’s survived, it’s impossible to fully rule out the idea. I mean, if Tina Turner can keep following her life’s dream at age 80, we can do the same thing with the passion in our own lives.

More inspiring musicians:

https://www.goalcast.com/2019/12/11/tina-turner-left-husband-ike/

Are Meditation Apps Missing the Point of Mindfulness?

By | challenging, Food for thought, personal essay, self, Spiritual Health

In the not-so-distant past, meditation was only taught at in-person classes or written instructions in a book. The rise of digital technology has opened up a world of accessible mindfulness, with guided meditation apps booming in popularity.

Learning meditation has never been easier.

There are around 500 different types of app associated with Buddhism in Apple’s App Store alone, each focusing on mindfulness. In their basic form, these apps tend to encourage focus on the breath, and becoming aware of thoughts, feelings, and sensations.

The industry is thriving, valued at $130 million and predicted to continue to grow as the “self-care trend” rises in popularity. Seventy percent of the market is shared between two titans of app-based meditation — Headspace and Calm.

It doesn’t take enlightenment to see the impact thee apps have. They complement the mindfulness buzz, are easy to use, and package what can be a mystifying topic into digestible chunks. All things considered, their prominence should be uniformly good news…

But that’s not the case.

Meditation apps may be missing the point of mindfulness

Mindful-but-not-Religious

In an article on The Conversation, Gregory Grieve and Beverley McGuire explain how meditation apps dilute mindfulness by stripping away religious elements.

As Buddhism scholars specializing in social media, they’re well positioned to understand. According to their research, meditation apps “miss the point of mindfulness.”

They highlight early Buddhist texts, such as the “Satipatthana Sutta,” as including important guidance on life and death, impermanence, and skilled and unskilled thinking.

Mindfulness apps, on the other hand, encourage people to cope with and accommodate to society.

The issue with this is overlooking the root cause of distress and suffering: “Indeed, our findings show that Buddhist meditation apps are not a cure that relieves suffering in the world, but more like an opiate that hides the real symptoms of the precarious and stressful state in which many people find themselves today.”

There’s not much research into the benefits or pitfalls of meditation apps to date. However, the authors conclude such apps may have the opposite of their desired effect and increase stress and smartphone addiction.

But wait… meditation apps changed my life

Grandiose subheading aside, I have immense gratitude for meditation apps. For years, I had the inclination to begin meditation. But I struggled with the technique, and felt overwhelmed any time I tried. So I spent a while accepting meditation wasn’t for me and pedestaling its elusive qualities. Until I tried Headspace.

It changed my life.

I built consistency with my meditation practice purely with the app and Andy’s dulcet tone. At that time, I was experiencing severe anxiety, depression, and psychosis. I wasn’t in a good way. I was caught in my thinking mind. 

Meditation (which I wouldn’t have started without the app) shifted me out from incessant loops of mental activity and provided the first “aha!” moment — distance from thought.

Headspace was a portal to my spiritual awakening.

Curious by the different “dimensions” I was sensing, I then started to explore the concepts discussed in the app in more detail, beyond their secular summary. Thus began my spiritual journey.

Mindfulness Lite?

Here’s an important counter argument: meditation apps act as a catalyst. For some, they help reduce stress and create more harmony. For others, like myself, they lead to deeper insight and a shift in worldview. 

Ultimately, anyone using meditation to improve wellbeing rather than coping mechanisms such as alcohol, food, drugs, sex, or shopping is something to be celebrated. The technique itself increases compassion, empathy, ease. The world desperately needs more of these qualities.

But there’s no denying Grieve and McGuire make a valid point. Mindfulness is diluted. And, the deeper we travel into the benefits of spiritual practice, particularly disciplines such as Buddhism and Hinduism, the more obvious this becomes. 

On some level, mindfulness is commodified and swallowed up by the capitalist system. Critics refer to this as “McMindfulness.”

As Einstein said: “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.”

Full-bodied mindfulness has the potential to make meaningful change on a societal level, by elevating consciousness and addressing core triggers of burnout, stress, anxiety, and depression from a compassionate perspective.

Instead, the majority of its use is moulded to fit an already existing (and dysfunctional) system. To this degree, meditation apps are a symptom of a wider issue.

Changing ourselves to change the world

A multi-ethnic group of young school children are indoors in their classroom. They are sitting on pillows and meditating with their eyes closed and hands clasped together.

Of course, this doesn’t stop individuals from exploring further. And I don’t believe commodified or full-bodied benefits are black-and-white. My experience wasn’t ego-aggrandizing or purely self-serving.

For example, I learned the loving kindness technique through Headspace, which greatly enhanced my relationships and levels of compassion.

Still, there’s a long way to go. Change begins with ourselves, but we have to be ready. Not everyone is looking for a spiritual realization through smartphone, but a little more ease and a little less stress. If using a meditation app brings more harmony to the world, then it’s worth it.

But above all else, we must remain mindful of the source of mindfulness and its related teachings. And remember, focusing on the breath is the beginning of a much deeper and more rewarding journey — if we’re brave enough to take the leap.

https://www.goalcast.com/2019/11/29/are-meditation-apps-missing-the-point-of-mindfulness/

The 6 Stages of Change To Create the Life You Want

By | challenging, Food for thought, how-to guide, self, self-development

Resilience is forged in the fire of determination. It’s the courage to take action when facing fear and resistance. Although sometimes we’d like it to be easy, all meaningful change ignites fear and resistance to some degree. Self-actualization — the manifestation of our full potential — is a long, painful process for this very reason.

A potential pitfall I’ve noticed with spiritual practice, is that it can become excessively inward focused.

Picture the monk in a cave in the Himalayas, with no external distractions and days filled with hours and hours of meditation

Meditation increases self-awareness and awareness is a catalyst to meaningful change. But unless you pair awareness with action, you’ll freeze at this step.

Changing your behavior is a courageous leap, particularly when you realize that your life are out of alignment. Building an authentic life is an immense challenge; and it’s the path few take.

But it’s essential for living a fulfilling life.

Are you ready to change?

Face your fear to create the life you want

Meaningful change is intimidating. What happens when we realize jobs, relationships, or life situations aren’t what we want in our heart of hearts?

Such realizations can trigger all kinds of fear-based responses in the ego. We fear rejection, loss, or failure.

But it’s crucial to mix spiritual intelligence with getting stuff done, right? We aren’t here to play small, but to live fully and authentically. This takes an immense amount of courage and effort. And in my experience, it requires a smart, structured approach.

This is where behavioral psychology comes in. I find immense value in Prochaska and DiClemente’s model of behavioural change, The Stages of Change Model (also known as the Transtheoretical Model). The model was developed in the 1970s by examining people who successfully quit smoking.

Typically, change is seen as all-or-nothing

The Stages of Change model provides a different approach. Progress in this framework is cyclical. Moving up and down stages is common. By understanding this model, you’re more likely to stick to new habits, and avoid self-sabotage or perfectionism.

Prochaska and DiClemente formed this based on healthy habits, but it’s just as applicable to our dreams and deepest desires, including self-actualization. I recommend using this model as a journaling tool (or discussing it with a coach) for various areas of change.

Let’s look at each stage in detail:

1. Precontemplation

Precontemplation is the point before you even entertain change as a possibility.

There’s zero awareness around the need to change; perhaps due to denial or ignorance.

At this stage, you have no thought of changing, even if others see the need for change.

Without awareness, you may underestimate how problematic a certain behavior (or lack of behavior) is, while emphasizing the drawbacks of making change. Applied to self-actualization, pre-contemplation is intertwined with shadow work.

Ignoring or denying the shadow self, anger, or jealousy makes contemplation impossible.

2. Contemplation

Contemplation is the moment of awareness; the lifting of the veil.

The contemplation stage is introspective. Meditation and mindfulness expedite the shift from precontemplation to contemplation.

This stage is balanced: you equally assess the pros and cons of making change.

When contemplating behavioural change at this stage, you may feel hesitation and doubt. A common example is setting boundaries; a fundamental practice in living authentically.

Communication is key, yet the build-up to such conversations can take a while. There can be lots of contemplation before finding the courage to set boundaries — particularly with those you love.

3. Preparation

The preparation stage is the beginning of exploration.

Using boundary-setting as an example, you may reflect on what your needs are, what needs have to be communicated, and what you’ll say to communicate them. You may buy books on communication rely on your support system for guidance.

We’ll refer to this as the information-gathering stage, or the “Google it” stage.

By this stage, there’s a clear determination to take action in the near future.

A common example with physical health would be researching gym plans, looking up exercise routines, or prepping the cupboards to start eating healthier.

Man cleaning face

4. Action

This is the “Just Do It” moment of change.

It’s crucal that your actions are congruent with your values and authentic desires. I say this because, many times in my life, I’ve pursued goals or taken action due to ego-driven desires.

A common misperception is to view this as the final stage of change.

Believing the moment of action is “final” leads to setbacks and complacency. Your action has to be repeated.

5. Maintenance

Sticking to the new action and developing consistency is the true test.

Remember: the Stage of Change is a spiral model. What this means is, you’re expected to oscillate between stages, rather than consistently progress.

Keep in mind there’s a significant difference between a lapse and total relapse.

And, remember: in all big changes, there will be lapses. Lapses are guaranteed! You may reach the action stage, face setbacks, and return to contemplation. Be kind when this happens.

Most people slip up at this point because they see progress as linear, and change as a success or failure.

Rather than seeing setbacks as failure, it’s much easier to recognize the setback as a lapse, and take action to correct the behavior as soon as you can.

If you find yourself spiralling to an earlier stage, it’s a good time to reassess your goals.

Were they aligned with your deepest wants and needs, or from a place of ego? What can you do better? Do you need more tools or support systems in place? Reflect without judgement.

To remain vigilant, self-monitoring is needed. Applied to a diet, this could be counting calories or checking weight loss. Spiritual growth isn’t as easy to define; but it could involve commitment to a meditation practice, journaling to see progress, or remaining self-aware to ego-triggers and behavioral patterns.

6. Termination

At this stage your new behavior is ingrained and habitual. However, it’s important to note this stage is often not included in health promotion programs because it’s incredibly rare.

It’s likely most of us will be at a stage of consistent maintenance

This is apt for the process of self-actualization. Ego-driven desires and impulses may remain, to some degree, throughout our lives. We just become much better at handling them and choosing to live from a place of heart instead.

I almost decided not to include this stage purely because the ego can play tricks and decide you’ve reached termination stage as a way to breed carelessness. But with this new perspective on change, I hope you’re able to progress and avoid excessive self-criticism on the path to creating the life you want.

It isn’t easy. But it’s worth it.

https://www.goalcast.com/2019/11/29/stages-of-change-to-create-the-life-you-want/