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7 tips to help you manage the holiday season

Let’s be honest.

You have a love-hate relationship with the holiday season. You love-hate the partying, the abundance of food, the family time, the rush, the gifting, the music, the cheer, the lights, the traditions, the excessive consumption.

So you love-hate most things about it – except for the stress. You hate the stress.

I totally understand. I had a love-hate relationship with the holiday season myself – and it was more hate than love. It used to stress me out BIG TIME – so much so that by Christmas Day itself, I was almost out of good cheer. Sure, it was pretty complicated logistically – not surprising when your parents are divorced and you have to try to spend equal time with both parties. But that wasn’t all of it. Something just didn’t work for me. I continued to have this love-hate relationship with the holiday season until decades later – until I truly understood WHY. Why it bothered me so much when at its core was something I loved – sharing time with people I care about.

My ‘why’ was this. I found much of the holiday season inauthentic and forced. I also found that most of the original intention behind it – sharing time with loved ones – was lost. Lost in a fog of consumerism. And consumerism and inauthenticity go against my values.

Now I know this, the holiday season goes MUCH more smoothly for me. I avoid the bits I hate – I don’t play the consumerism game. I relish is the bits I love – I spend quality (i.e. unstressed) time with loved ones.

Here are my top tips for managing the holiday season.

  1. Get CLEAR on what you want from it. How much family time, how much partying, how much gifting, how much eating, how much tradition, etc.
  2. PLAN your time out so you spend it the way you want. If you don’t, you’ll end up spending your time the way others want you to spend it.
  3. Make sure you leave some ALONE time. You’ll need it to recharge yourself, even if you’re having a great time.
  4. Take a technology TIME OUT. Only check your messages, emails and social media a couple of times a day, turn OFF your phone and computer by 9 p.m. and don’t turn them on until after breakfast.
  5. Take FIVE when someone presses your button(s). Count to five and let it go – do NOT react, this only fuels the fire.
  6. Make PHYSICAL ACTIVITY a part of every day. Taking a 30-minute walk every day improves your mood – who can say no to that?
  7. Love MORE, fear LESS. Being grateful for what you have is a great way to foster love. Start a daily gratitude practice at the dinner table – get everyone to list three things they were grateful for that day.

This year, don’t use escapism – bingeing on food, drink, shopping, etc. – to distract you from the miserable time you’re having during the festive season. Take control of your feelings by being aware and preparing yourself throughly.

It will make your holiday season the best one yet.

 

Sarah Blick is a very tall, dog-loving, morning person. She loves to be in the great outdoors, to write, to eat well, to be active and healthy, to make her own household and personal care products, and to listen to indie music. She’s an ENFP (Myers-Briggs) and a Rockstar (Fascination Advantage).

 

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How to get real and deal with your denial

“I know I feel tired all the time, but my life really is good.”

“I know my life is super busy, but so is everyone’s.”

“I know this little voice in me keeps on wondering if there’s more to life than I’m experiencing, but I have everything, I really do.”

“I know s/he did that, but s/he’s really a good person inside.”

“I know I don’t have the time for myself that I need, but who does these days?”

“I know the hours are long and the work is boring, but it’s a good job.”

“I know I get overwhelmed from time to time, but it’s expected – I have a lot on my plate.”

“I know I shouldn’t have eaten that tub of ice cream, but it did make me feel less stressed for a bit.”

“I know I’m just going through the motions and not putting anything of myself into what I do, but it’s an efficient way of getting things done.”

There are many, many ways in which denial can play out in your life – the list above represents a handful of them. Have you ever found yourself saying or thinking any of these?

A sure sign that you’re in denial about something is that use of the word “but”. It says that you feel you have to justify something you’re doing. You should NEVER feel as though you have to justify anything in your life – either it’s right for you, or it’s not. End.Of.Story.

So, why do you deny what’s going on in your life? You deny it, because you’re not ready to face the reality of it.

I get it. Denial seems like the path of least resistance. Denial allows you to carry on living your life as is – all you have to do is push those feelings and voices aside. But, here’s the thing. The truth is actually quite different.

Denial is a path of MAXIMUM resistance – it just takes a while for that to become clear. It’s a path of maximum resistance, because the feelings you have that niggle way at you and the little voice inside your head that questions what you’re doing don’t disappear when you push them aside. They go deeper inside you, intensify and then erupt some time later when you’re not expecting it. The MORE you push them aside, the STRONGER and more disruptive they get – all they’re trying to do is get your attention so you deal with whatever reality you’re denying. And you know what? Your feelings and little voice telling you something is WRONG won’t give up – they’re your intuition trying to protect you from yourself. Their last resort to get your attention is to do some serious damage to you, usually in the form of an illness or disease. Your health gets hit, because, although you mightn’t realise it, maintaining your state of denial causes you a lot of stress – and stress causes your immune system to shut down.

I learned how destructive denial can be the hard way – a lifetime of it eventually caught up with me and left me with a debilitating disease*.

Getting ill is how denial affects your physical health. It also affects your emotional, mental and spiritual health. When you’re stressed, even at a low level, your relationships suffer. In order to keep up your denial, you suppress the feelings you don’t like, but you also suppress the rest of your feelings – you cannot selectively suppress feelings. So you become emotionally distant – you feel and express less joy, and you’re less aware of nuances in the emotions of those around you. The stress of maintaining denial makes you less smart, less creative and less able to problem solve – in addition to shutting down your immune system, stress reduces the flow of blood to your brain, sending it to your limbs instead (in readiness for fight or flight). And you’re less able to access your alpha waves when stressed, making it hard for you to meditate, pray or be mindful.

So, instead of being the path of least resistance, denial is actually the path of much destruction.

How do you get out of denial and ready to deal with your reality? Here are 8 steps to take.

  1. Acknowledge and accept that you’ve been denying something. This step is essential to get you to FLIP THAT SWITCH in your mind that makes you stop denying that reality.
  2. Make a commitment to yourself to deal with the reality you’ve been denying. Without commitment, nothing will change, because change isn’t easy – it requires you to STICK AT IT, through thick and thin.
  3. Review the reality you’ve been denying. What is the DETAIL of this reality? When did it start? How does it make you feel? How does it affect your life? What will happen to your life when you deal with it?
  4. Dream up different ways to deal with this reality. Let’s say your reality is a boring job, you can: find a new job in a new company; create a new job in the same company; change the way you look at the job; start your own business on the side. And then choose the ONE that feels right to you.
  5. Prepare for what you want to do. Do you need any new skills to deal with this reality? Do you need any new habits? Do you need any other TOOLS?
  6. Make an action plan. You need a plan so you know how to achieve the result you want. Make sure each step along the way is ACHIEVABLE – big enough to be interesting and motivating, but small enough to guarantee success.
  7. Take action daily. NOTHING will change in your life if you don’t take action every day. Ask yourself at the end of every day what you did today to take you closer to your goal.
  8. Celebrate your small wins along the way to the big win. Regular celebration gives you the momentum you need to keep going, even when things are tough. Find a way that works for you – I high five myself!

Keeping your head in the sand is sabotaging your health and well-being. Start dealing with your reality today and feel more alive and self-fulfilled ! Your relationships will thank you.

 

* This disease is no longer debilitating for me as I transformed my lifestyle and am once again healthy and active.

 

Sarah Blick is a very tall, dog-loving, morning person. She loves to be in the great outdoors, to write, to eat well, to be active and healthy, to make her own household and personal care products, and to listen to indie music. She’s an ENFP (Myers-Briggs) and a Rockstar (Fascination Advantage).

 

self-fulfilment-http://agingdisgracefullywell.com-sarah-blick

10 self-fulfilment fails

The path to self-fulfilment is paved with good intentions, but more often than not, the way you actually live makes you feel anything but self-fulfilled.

Here are 10 signs you’re failing at self-fulfilment.

  1. You’re so busy, you barely have time to eat. There are a million and one things on your To Do list, all of them important. It’s a good thing you’re a pro at putting your head down, because that’s what you need to do.
  2. You go through the motions, day in, day out, and can’t remember the last time you were engaged in what you were doing. Still, you get things done, so that’s good.
  3. There is so much on your plate right now, you don’t know what to do. You feel completely overwhelmed and can’t see a way forward. This makes you feel pretty useless and lost.
  4. Every day, you wake up tired. It doesn’t matter how much sleep you had, you’re tired from dawn till dusk. And even though you’re tired when you go to bed, you just can’t seem to turn off your mind… so the cycle continues.
  5. Nothing ever goes your way. It’s not your fault – you just aren’t lucky. Other people are much luckier than you – they don’t realise how easy life is for them. It’s not easy for you – no matter how hard you try, you don’t succeed at anything.
  6. B.O.R.I.N.G. That’s your day. It’s your life, actually – that’s how it feels to you these days. You’re bored with what you’re doing and you’re bored with yourself.
  7. Everything has to be JUST RIGHT. Nothing else will do. You will do anything to make sure something is perfect – you can’t bear the thought of someone finding fault with what you’ve done.
  8. Even though you’re busy, you say yes – after all, it’s a favour for a friend. And that friend is so appreciative of your help that she’s always asking you for favours – you’re her go-to-person. Being wanted like this makes you feel good about yourself.
  9. You have all of these grand plans and dreams and love nothing more than to imagine what life would be like if one of them came true. But you don’t do anything to make them come true. After all, if you did and the reality wasn’t as good as the dream, where would you be?
  10. You spend a lot of your time comparing yourself to others, making sure that you come out on top. You take verbal shots at their garden gnomes, the way they dress, their make-up (or lack thereof), the car they drive – anything really… as long as you look better as a result.

Burying yourself in work, living on autopilot, being overwhelmed, feeling world-weary, seeing yourself as a victim, boredom, perfectionism, people-pleasing, procrastination and comparing yourself to others are ALL signs that your life isn’t self-fulfilling. They are signs that you’re distracting yourself from the reality of your life, that you’re feeling a loss of control, or that your self-confidence is low.

Self-fulfilment comes from a mindset that can be learned by anyone (see this article). And self-fulfilment feels good – it makes you feel more alive, more creative and more engaged with your life.

So take action today and stop failing at self-fulfilment!

 

 

Sarah Blick is a very tall, dog-loving, morning person. She loves to be in the great outdoors, to write, to eat well, to be active and healthy, to make her own household and personal care products, and to listen to indie music. She’s an ENFP (Myers-Briggs) and a Rockstar (Fascination Advantage).

 

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Feel more alive with these 8 top tips!

“Fatigue is one of the fastest-growing issues in the U.S. Not too surprising. In a culture that fetishises working as hard as possible, it’s easy to trade good sleep and home-cooked meals for 10-hour days fuelled by on-the-go, prepackaged junk.1 Almost 15 million Americans work full-time on evening shift, night shift, rotating shifts, or other irregular schedules, and about 19% of working adults clock in 48-hour or longer weeks; 7% work 60 hours or more.”*

Let’s face it, it’s impossible to feel alive when living like this – and this way of life is not unique to the US. As the article says, modern society has made a fetish of working as hard as possible and sleeping as little as possible. You may think that you’re super productive and that this level of stress benefits you in some way, but you’re wrong. You’re not and it doesn’t. In fact, the truth is quite the opposite. Your ability to think clearly and effectively is severely compromised by continuous stress, and far from energising you, a stressed lifestyle depletes you.

If you’re honest with yourself, you actually know this. That’s why you feel so much better after a couple of weeks of holiday – after you’ve recovered from the cold or ‘flu you got at the beginning, that is. And don’t your sleep issues miraculously disappear when you’re away from work for a few days?

So how do you go from existing on stress to living fully? Here’s how.

My eight pillars of a life worth living

  1. A clearly defined life vision. Without knowing where you’re going and why, it’s hard to start living the kind of life that makes you feel alive. To create your life vision, you need to go back to the basics of who you really are and why you’re here, removing all of your family and societal conditioning (it’s there, even if you can’t see it yet). Find out what your true beliefs, values, rules, personality and worldview are, and craft these, along with your dreams, into your life vision.
  2. A positive mindset. With this mindset, you are happy and in control of your life. You prioritize meaningful relationships, cope well with the challenges life throws at you, enjoy what you’re doing (because you know why you’re doing it), and spend your time in ways that are consistent with your life vision and goals.
  3. Regular exercise. There’s no denying the fact that regular exercise is good for you. It increases happiness and improves productivity. Try this as an aliveness booster: 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day, ideally in nature, and 20 minutes of more vigorous exercise three times a week.
  4. Quality nutrition. You are what you eat – you really are. You can’t expect high quality performance from poor quality fuel. Quality nutrition is the best investment you can make in yourself and your family. For starters: eat chemical-free, unprocessed food; cut out all sugar and artificial sweeteners; watch your consumption of grains – many grains contain mould and other toxins that deplete your energy and promote brain fog; cut out ALL soft drinks, including diet ones; stay away from GMO products / products made with GMO ingredients – “Several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with genetically modified (GM) food (American Association of Emergency Medicine 2009),” including infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, faulty insulin regulation, and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system. The AAEM has asked physicians to advise all patients to avoid GM foods.[1]; drink lots of water. I’m a big fan of the Bulletproof Diet – the science behind it makes a lot of sense to me.
  5. Resilience. It’s important to be able to weather life’s storms when they arrive – and arrive they will. Greater resilience is a by-product of a positive mindset and a daily meditation practice is a key way to develop both. Find a type of meditation that works for you and start small – even two minutes a day makes a difference, so start there and gradually build up!
  6. Continuous learning. A bored mind leads to an unhappy person. Develop a lifelong passion for learning about things that interest you! Learn something new every day – it’s empowering and invigorating, because you’re doing something for yourself that truly engages you.
  7. Good sleep hygiene. You can’t expect to wake up feeling refreshed and raring to go if your sleep hygiene is poor. A good night’s sleep is essential, so you need to prime yourself for it. Start preparing for sleep a few hours ahead of time: turn off all LED lights – they reduce melatonin production and the regenerative and restoring capacities of your eyes; turn off all computers and smartphones (more blue lighting); relax; meditate; make sure your bedroom is cool and completely dark.
  8. A toxic-free lifestyle. Just as you are what you eat, you are also what you absorb via your other senses. Mainstream personal care products, make-up and household cleaning products contain many toxins, so do yourself a favour and buy the least toxic variants (i.e. those without ingredients you can’t pronounce). Better still, make your own, as I do. You also need to stay away from toxic people – those who are negative and bring everyone around them down – as their energy affects yours negatively.

There is nothing like waking up every day looking forward to the day ahead, and going to sleep at night grateful for the day you had. You can be this person – it just takes a 100% commitment to yourself to do whatever it takes. And now you know how to start.

* https://blog.bulletproof.com/fight-fatigue-with-these/

 

Sarah Blick is a very tall, dog-loving, morning person. She loves to be in the great outdoors, to write, to eat well, to be active and healthy, to make her own household and personal care products, and to listen to indie music. She’s an ENFP (Myers-Briggs) and a Rockstar (Fascination Advantage).

 

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You have everything in life

So why does it feel like you don’t?

You’re successful. You have the job you worked hard for, the family you always wanted, the life you always wanted. You’re well liked, well respected and have a large circle of friends.

You’re living the dream.

So why doesn’t it feel like that?

You have everything you ever wanted, so you should feel great. And you did, for a while after you succeeded at each goal. But right now you don’t, and the inner critics inside your head are having a field day.

“So many people in the world never had the advantages you have. The least you can do is be grateful!”

“What makes you think you’re so special that you deserve more?”

“Why can’t you just be happy?”

“What’s wrong with you? You have everything you ever wanted and now it’s not enough??!!”

“Everyone else seems happy with what they have, there must be something wrong with you.”

You try to push your feelings away and focus on what you have. You have so much! You know this, you KNOW you have so much. But still, there’s a little voice somewhere inside, a voice that feels less clarity about what you’re doing with your life, a voice that wonders “Is this it?”. It all makes you feel so uncomfortable, ashamed even.

I know that voice intimately, because it lived in me for years. I first felt it at 25, when everything was going well for me. I’d been working for a few years and was a rising star. I had a lot of friends. But I didn’t feel very alive and was less than happy. I hated feeling like this so much that it propelled me into action – I just had to figure out what was so wrong with my life that I couldn’t be happy with what I had. I was totally on my own – it was pre internet and a time when no one talked about such things. So the action I took ended up involving A LOT of change – my moving home, job and country repeatedly – as that was the only way I knew to shake things up and get to the bottom of my discomfort. That voice came and went over the years, usually returning after a success glow had worn off. Every time it came back, I dove back inside, and changed more about my life. This went on for 30 years, until I knew why I hadn’t felt fully alive or happy or self-fulfilled.

To save you 30 years of deep soul-searching, here’s why!

Despite having all the success and accomplishments you could ever want, you will never feel fully alive until you do one thing. Find what lights you up. Without knowing this, you won’t know your life’s purpose. And without living your life’s purpose, you won’t have lasting self-fulfilment or happiness.

Success is getting what you want. It gives you fleeting happiness, because after you’ve achieved it, you start aiming for the next success, the next goal.

Self-fulfilment is getting what you need. It gives you lasting happiness, which leads to lasting success.

You have everything you want. It’s time to find what you need.

 

Sarah Blick is a very tall, dog-loving, morning person. She loves to be in the great outdoors, to write, to eat well, to be active and healthy, to make her own household and personal care products, and to listen to indie music. She’s an ENFP (Myers-Briggs) and a Rockstar (Fascination Advantage).

 

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How to use change to increase happiness in your life

You feel so ungrateful, so confused. After all, how could someone who has everything feel anything less than elated? Yet, that’s how you feel. Less than happy. Less than self-fulfilled. Less than clear about what you’re doing and why.

You ask yourself “Is this IT?”

All your life you’ve been working towards what you have today, but now you’re here, you don’t feel like you expected to. You expected to feel happy when you achieved your success goals – and you did, for a while. But then the happiness dissipated and you were left wondering what was next. What’s the next success goal you’re supposed to have to make you happy?

While you figure this out, you’re just going through the motions, day in, day out. You’ve been in that mode for a while. It’s not that bad – your life isn’t that bad. But it’s not that great, either. Maybe people like you aren’t supposed to have great lives – most people don’t, do they? As long as you have a roof over your head, food to eat, an income and loving people in your life, that’s enough, isn’t it?

No, it’s not. If it were enough, you wouldn’t be wondering if this is it.

You’re right, there’s nothing wrong with your life. But it could be so much more! You are a human being and humans who have their basic requirements met need more. They need to feel self-fulfilled and to have a strong sense of purpose in their lives – Maslow’s 1943 Theory of Human Motivation was all about this.

You need to feel self-fulfilled and to have a strong sense of purpose in your life. Without this, you will always wonder: “Is this IT?”

When you’ve spent your life pursuing certain success goals, chances are that you’ve lost some of what makes you uniquely you along the way. Those goals depended on your meeting certain standards – being a certain person, behaving in a certain way – and that inevitably meant that you stopped being fully yourself.

How can you be yourself if you’re expected to be a person who meets a certain external standard?

It’s the loss of those parts of the real you that you’re feeling. Not being fully yourself is making you feel less than happy, less than self-fulfilled. 

If you want to do more than merely exist, if you want to thrive and be happy and self-fulfilled, then you need to stop looking for external answers. You need to stop waiting for something to change and start changing yourself. Yet, you resist change, because change feels scary, like a threat to your security. Besides, it would be too unsettling to change anything now – change is so disruptive.

Exactly. Change is disruptive. Change is innovative and ground-breaking. Change is THIS version of disruptive.

Trouble is, you only see change as the other version of disruptive – change as a threat. So you’re afraid of making changes in your life. And that’s not surprising, given that your human brain is wired to hate change, to view it as a potential threat to your security.

But change isn’t the real threat.

Doing nothing is the real threat. Because doing nothing threatens your happiness and self-fulfilment.

So do something!  Choose happiness and self-fulfilment and use change to help you get there.

Take the first step towards a life that is meaningful and makes you feel fully alive.

 

Sarah Blick is a very tall, dog-loving, morning person. She loves to be in the great outdoors, to write, to eat well, to be active and healthy, to make her own household and personal care products, and to listen to indie music. She’s an ENFP (Myers-Briggs) and a Rockstar (Fascination Advantage).