What Motivates You, Will Change You

It took me a long time to peel back some of the layers of my personality. To wear my masks well, and to adapt my personality to the changing circumstances of my life. Different situations called for a different part of me. I always thought that I was one authentic self, but now, I’m in the camp that I have many selves, and that I am complex, flexible and have the ability to change/adapt if I need to. Don’t get me wrong, I do think that I have one core self that creates the foundation for my likes and dislikes but, I don’t think that I have to be so hardcore that I can’t bend my personality a little, if a situation called for it.  

I have found that the more in tune I am with my emotions, the better I am in understanding how I am going to navigate certain situations. One key predictor of my motivation is when I burst into tears from repressed emotions. When I repress emotions, which was easy to do when I drank, I become aware of what I am lacking or need in my life. Motivation is a key indicator of who I am. It is the reason why I do certain things or act in a particular way, it steers me to my goals and excites my life. Subconcsiously there are complex processes highlighting events of worth and distinguishing them from everything else around me. I don’t choose what interests me, it chooses me. This creates who I am, and it is my responsibility to pursue my motivations to develop meaning in my life, so that I feel fulfilled. My motivations create my personality, and when I am able to fully express my personality I am able to be of service to others, and makes me a happier person overall.

I find that it takes courage and discipline to really get to know yourself and take full responsibility for your life. I lack patience and have a temper naturally. It took a lot of energy and motivation for me to come to some agreements with myself to move forward from some of my bad attitude and short comings. I find that if I don’t continue to challenge myself, and unburden myself from my repressed emotions by exercising, meditating and talking it out with my close ones, I project my unwanted desires and needs on others. This I see in other people, and immediately recognize it as it happens. I have come to know that, if someone doesn’t want to take full action and responsibility for their motivations and wants, there really isn’t anything I can do for them to better their life. They need to want to do it themselves.

To really understand what motivates you, pay attention to what catches your eye, what you take pictures of most, what types of books you read, what music you like to listen to and what places you like to frequent, just to name a few. Despite life being frustrating and not always fair, keep pursuing what motivates you. To develop your personality is to take full responsibility for your life and actions and create the life that fits you best. I have learned that my life unfolds according to my direct choices, and that means that I need to decide what it is I want and then really commit. I understand now that if I decide to neglect or deny what I want or not express it to others, it is only me to blame for the life that I am living. This is a hard truth to swallow but very necessary for personality development. The challenges that will inevitably present themselves as you pursue your motivations are only learning curves and should not be treated as roadblocks. This takes patience and grit. To create the life that is best suited for your personality you have to pursue what motivates you, so that you are able to present your true personality without resentment, anger or bitterness.

When you are able to move through your changing personality over time, and express your many selves from an authentic place, you are able to attract the right circumstances and people that develop further your personality, and achieve self actualization. As goals change, when they inevitably do, you will know where to steer next, if you trust in the process and know that your actions are motivated by what you truly want you will find you are always in the right place at the right time. This is key to personality development. 

How to Gain Clarity

Feeling inspired or generating insight has always been a challenge for me. I am prone to negative self-talk, and ruminate situations to the point of anguish. These habits inhibit my ability to gain clarity. In trying times, when the wind is taken out of my sails, and I am burnt out I struggle to find a positive perspective. This past year the coronavirus pandemic has been one big rollercoaster ride from hell, the unexpected turns conjured up feelings of fear, anxiety and distress.

It is difficult to feel secure, when life seems out of control, situations swinging from one extreme to the other. Finding clarity in a hellish, vague situation is not easy, but it is doable. I have found that even in my worst moments there is something to be learned or gained. Clarity for me is not a destination, it is a process. When I need some clarity, I don’t focus on one specific area of my life, person or situation, rather I open up completely and allow my subconscious to lead me.

It is my negative internal chatter that keeps clarity at bay. It is the unnecessary unsolicited advice from others, competing interests, manipulative people and so much more that blurs my focus. The more I practice quieting the chatter, silencing the noise through meditation, getting lost in a hobby or developing a plan for self-development, it is then that I find that clarity comes to me. It shows up in my life in very unusual ways, at unexpected times and helps me make grounded decisions based on common sense rather than rash emotions. I have developed habits for myself that keep me collected when I need perspective. It is important for me to stay clear, so I am able to thrive and live in reality rather than slip into escapism.

3 habits that help gain clarity:

  • Focus on what you can control 

This is one of my favorite tools in my wellness box. It does wonders for people like me, that ruminate every scene in life a million times over. When I focus on what I can control, I am able to stop the “what if” scenarios in my head. These scenarios are energy draining and a waste of time. I also like to make lists. When it is needed, I like to weigh my options, such as things like a pro vs cons or a likes vs dislikes list. When I focus on what I can control, I allow my process to finding clarity an easier path. My subconscious is able to focus on what I know, and what I can do, rather than confuse it with conflicting priorities. I set my mindset up for a goal that is tangible and within my reach rather than solve imaginary problems, or problems that aren’t mine.

  • Stop comparing yourself with others

Seeking clarity has nothing to do with anyone else but yourself. It is difficult not to look for an existing blueprint outside of myself, in places like social media, movies, celebrity lifestyles, or simply anyone or anything for that matter. I find inspiration in books and I love to listen to podcasts for clarity, but I take it in with a grain of salt. I know that every tool in a self-help tool box needs to be tweaked for every user. Comparing yourself to other people or using someone else’s blueprint for life is not the best way to honor your unique personality or finding clarity. Lately, I have been feeling a growing sense of space between my life, sense of purpose, personality and uniqueness from those of others. I used to get tangled up in other people’s dreams, and agendas but not so much anymore. I think shedding envy helps to recognize that you don’t always need what someone else has, or is perceived to have, because it might not be a fit for you. Recognize your self worth and honour your gains. Protect your identity by not selling out to get what you think you should have; nothing compares to you or your life. You will find you will gain more insight when seeking clarity, when you embrace your natural personality.

  • Recognize your patterns

I have triggers that I recognize and I deal with them as they come. It is not always easy, but with enough meditation and self-awareness, it is possible to become more aware of the types of patterns a set of behaviours produce in life. Finding clarity is not possible when you are stressed, afraid or unhealthy. I find that when I understand my negative go-to behaviours, I am able to create distance between my negative thoughts and immediate reactions. Understanding what I feel in a heated moment, helps me collect my thoughts and words, so that I am able to express myself with common sense rather than unintended hasty emotions. Recognizing how you operate is crucial to maintaining a clear head, when seeking clarity.

Gaining insight and seeking clarity are key drivers to realizing full potential, refines personality, and establishes the ground work to be a thoughtful human. Despite the many challenges I have faced this year with going back to work as a new mom, in the midst of a full-blown pandemic, I have found that even in this situation I am experiencing so much inspiration and clarity. I don’t need a perfect situation to feel inspired. It is in the imperfect moments I find myself most challenged and invigorated. I am not always clear on where my life might end up, but I know that despite the ambiguity that faces me, I am still able to embrace the process. Moments of clarity are jewels in my life journey, and when I receive them, I smile and soak in the feeling. I know more of these moments of inspiration are coming my way, if I choose to keep working hard toward healthy habits. Clarity is a process not a destination. Keep moving.

Spring Cleaning

Today I put my Easter wreath on my front door. Spring brings me such joy. The warm weather, the small pops of color coming from the earth, and the air is filled with moisture again making it easier to breath. I love to tidy my house for spring, and at any time really. Cleaning has brought up an interesting thought for me, how the action of it radically transforms a space and how it positively affects mindset thereafter.

My health journey is a long one. Involving many turning points, ups and downs. I have always struggled with digestive issues, and drinking alcohol has exacerbated the issue. Over the years, my guts have hospatilized me, decreased my energy, made me irrated, caused mood swings, affected my sleep and the list goes on. I have seen specialists, naturopaths and even tried Chinese medicine for remedies. I was looking for one solution and a quick fix for my problematic digestive system. I think partly the problem was me. I was seeking a quick remedy, one way to deal with the my health. My digestive system needed better maintenance, and an overall health reset. I needed to better maintain my mental health, my lifestyle and my eating habits as a whole. There was no quick fix.

Cleaning my house is much like how I approach my health now. It is about maintenance. When I diligently, consistently and deliberately make an effort to eat food that nourishes my gut and engage in regular exercise, my overall symptoms and health improve. I don’t wait until I am sick to act. I clean myself with positive energy, I remind myself why I choose health everyday, I choose the people that are in my life and I take action to create the world that I want. My house doesn’t clean itself, much like my body doesn’t take care of itself. That is my job. 

The momentum that I create by cleaning and tidying my space, energizes me to do more for myself. I create the space I want to live in, much like I create the narrative of my own story. I take ownership of my story and what doesn’t serve me or doesn’t fit I have the ability to clean out. I am able to change and create fresh spaces, and new perspectives at anytime. Not just in one season.

Spring is a wonderful reminder of renewal and new energy. It brings a sense of freshness. Remind yourself that you are also in need of maintenance once in a while. Try on a new perspective, get a fresh haircut, walk a different route, or simply try a new food. Change is cleaning out what doesn’t fit anymore. And what doesn’t fit anymore is not progress. I maintain my health with good habits daily, like cleaning my space, choosing healthy food and keeping an open perspective. This is my progress. This keeps me fresh.

Happy Spring! 

What is your Why?

Why exercise?… is what I ask myself every time I lace my running shoes or roll out my yoga mat. I ask myself this question, set an intention for my workout and my body responds with vibrant energy. My shoes at my front door are always smiling at me, my mat rolled up in my living room giving me a wink when I pass by, and my headphones always at the ready at any given moment of the day.

Why I exercise?

It is constant and reliable. 

It is the surety of a good feeling. It is a time for clarity, self reflection and detoxification. Setting an intention for every run or yoga practice keeps things fresh and alive. I like to think of the issues in my life and set an intention of kindness, compassion, clarity or whatever else I need before every exercise to clear the energy in my body, that these conflicts are creating. The movement alone purifies me, and once the run or yoga practice are done, I am cleansed and feel new. 

But on days that I have no energy and feel burnt out I ask…

Why I Exercise?

Because I can! That reason alone shifts my attitude and realigns my energy to a positive space. 

And when I look in the mirror I ask… 

Why I Exercise? 

My body is worth the care. My body deserves movement and proper nutrition. My body deserves respect. 

I have always been keenly aware of the way people treat me when I am a little overweight or when I know I am looking good. Body image is not my intention for exercising. Even though I know that working out can make you feel better about the way you look, I don’t want to put myself in a box. I don’t buy into a certain body shape or ideal. I want my intention for working out to come from a place that doesn’t include others opinions of my body, it is a personal journey for me. If others enjoy my results, that has nothing to do with my intent. 

On days that I feel bored or uninspired I ask…

Why I exercise?

To get high.

I love to feel alive. I used to love partying and drinking. Even though I don’t have alcohol in my life anymore, I still celebrate my life in other ways. The thrill of partying, music and people can sometimes be the same high experienced when exercising.

There are moments on my run when I stop and just take the world in, heart throbbing, hands sweating, legs burning and I think to myself there is nothing better than this pain right now, because I feel every second of it. My muscles loose and my energy high.

My body both crying to stop, and yearning for more. 

Pleasure and pain, all in one. 

This is my why. 

Why do you Exercise? 

Pushing Yourself Too Hard

This morning when I woke up to a soggy wet winter day, the first thought that went through my mind was, I’m not going for a run today! That’s how the day started, and the mood was set. Negative and irritated. Cue the negative self-talk – I should go for a run, I haven’t gone for a run in a while, I should get fresh air, I’m being lazy and on and on. The “I should” statements were loud and annoying, putting me in a dark frame of mind and discouraged me from being motivated to doing anything at all. I fell down the rabbit hole. This brought up an interesting thought about motivation and the fine line between encouraging yourself to be motivated and pushing yourself too hard.

I have been told in the past, by many people that I am too hard on myself. I think this mostly stemmed from my inability to make proper life decisions and lack of values. So, I concentrated my energy on everything. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I changed my degree at University three times, had multiple long-term relationships with various boyfriends, dabbled in art, had numerous precarious jobs and was wandering from one interest to the next. I wanted to master it all. I gave myself so many tasks to complete by a certain age that I can tell you that almost none of them were completed and most of my accomplishments are only variations of what I expected I would achieve. I think this is where the pushing too hard lives. In the idea that something is “supposed to be”. The “supposed to be” lives in an imaginary concrete world and my life is not so black and white anymore. My motivation and goals are not defined by time. Motivation is something I live every day. 

As my values started to solidify my interests narrowed and it was easier for me to understand what my priorities are. I don’t have to master everything I try. I have goals, but I don’t attach too much expectation and keep an open mind regarding the process. The end product from any goal is almost always something of a variation of what you expect not the exact thing and that is ok. I was chasing an expectation and a certain outcome. Today, I am grateful for the learning process of anything I am studying or reading, any physical activity I am doing and embrace any new situation I am met with, because that is all I can control really. Relinquishing my need to control situations and dropping the rigid timeline has helped me to feel less anxious about the future and I have learned how and what motivates me.

Recently I became a new mom, and this was one of the steepest learning curves I have ever faced. I was anxious and upset that I didn’t know how to be a mom. I asked myself, why I didn’t know how to do this with ease? Simple answer, because I am a new mom. I am so quick to find short cuts to the learning process. There are no short cuts to learning something new! There are no short cuts in life! Read that last sentence again…I am still learning to be a mom.

That is the lesson about pushing too hard. Time will help you learn what you need to know. Be patient. Your values will lead you to where you need to be, the people around you will tell you who you are, and your body will tell you when you want to rest. I think our culture glorifies pushing ourselves to our limits. This in turn puts unrealistic expectations of what we can actually achieve. I’m not a super mom, or super wife or super anything. I take it in one moment at a time and learn from what the moment is trying to teach me. I reflect back in gratitude and see now that despite not checking off what I think I should have done today or ten, fifteen years ago, my experiences shaped and carved out my precious life today.

If you cannot take a moment to appreciate the hard work that is behind you, then the pushing too hard will never end. There lies a fine line between dissatisfaction/survival mode and complacency. Sometimes we need to stop, rest and appreciate where we are before pushing harder. I take pride in honouring what I have been through, how far I have come and look forward to everyday, even on the days that I forgo exercise to sit, broody, on the couch, with a warm blanket and a hot turmeric tea.

Casual Conversations about Loneliness

I have always wondered how other people experience loneliness. 

Is it painful? 

Where does it hurt? 

How long does it last? 

I have never posed this question to anyone. It is an awkward topic of conversation. I guess it might be that we don’t really want anyone to know that we are experiencing feelings of loneliness. To be social and have a lot of social connections is more popular than bringing up conversations surrounding feeling alone or isolated. I know for myself, despite having many friends, this does not guarantee feelings of belonging and understanding. Your perception of the quality of your relationships and how you feel about them has a lot to do with how you are going to interpret your feelings of being connected. If the experience of loneliness is highly subjective and is defined by a state of mind of feeling alone or isolated can someone potentially experience the opposite of loneliness if there were a space or platform to open up conversations surrounding loneliness, like in any setting, work, home, the grocery store, the library, etc? Why aren’t we casually talking about feeling lonely?

When I was partying and drinking my younger years away, my motives for partying was for connection and belonging. Of course, peer pressure played a major role in that lifestyle as well but mainly for me it was finding a place to be heard and understood. I wanted a sounding board for my life that accepted me for who I was, which was ironic because when I drank this was not a true representation of my authentic self. So here I was trying to get accepted wearing a mask. Not true acceptance at all. 

As I matured and embraced my health and my new way of life with no alcohol, I adapted to interacting with people differently, in different settings and I grew. My loneliness loosened its grip on me and it definitely doesn’t have the ferocity it used to have. Sometimes it still creeps up on me when I am not understood, accepted, rejected or feel disconnected from people. In those situations I rely on my logical mind to kick in to over analyze the situation and to neutralize my feelings of loneliness. I dropped the analyzing with time and replaced it with acceptance. I adopted the thinking “it is what it is” that’s it! I accepted people for who they showed me they were, the situations I was in, the role I played in situations, how coincidence and chance played out in my life and simply accepted that I was ok to sit by myself if that was what the situation called for. If I needed to be there for me, I was there for myself by accepting myself. If I needed help or social connection I reached out without attachment and grasping. The people pleaser in me fell off. The mask finally gone.

The solo work that I did getting myself healthy established a deep connection with myself that I bring to all my relationships today. The perception of the quality of my relationships has changed as I am aware of my own worth. The better I started treating myself, the better I treated others, this in turn fostered better, healthier relationships. Intimacy comes from knowing your own needs and responding to yourself in a way that you allow true connection. This connection, even if the feeling is just for a moment, is important to keep your emotional and mental health on track. This connection can be with nature, your religion, earth, people, yourself, your children, and the list goes on. Even when it is impossible to physically socialize with other people, loneliness doesn’t have to dominate your thoughts and feelings if you find a way to connect with someone or something that is truly important to you. I found solace in finding a way to cultivate my need for health, through running, cooking organic healthy meals and meditating. Even though these are activities that are done alone, I don’t feel lonely because I am doing them with the person that knows and appreciates me the best…with myself.

3 Ways to Make Better Decisions

My decision-making skills are levelling up as I grow. I have come a long way in making better decisions as my experiences and perspectives mature over time. When I decided to quit drinking, this was a decision that wasn’t made overnight, it was a culmination of bad experiences and mounting health issues that led me to decide. But not everything in my life was decided as so. Some of my decisions demand quicker responses, some need critical and deep assessment and some decisions are made for me without my control. 

Here are some things to consider when making decisions that have guided my own decision-making process. 

Give Yourself a Timeline

When my husband and I decided to quit drinking it was never a good time. There was always a birthday coming up, a dinner or a holiday. We simply just decided on a day and stuck to it. We gave ourselves this day so that when the day came, we were prepared to fully step into the new. It was easier to make the decision because we had each other for accountability. If you make a decision create a timeline for the action and ask someone in your life to hold you accountable to that action. 

Align the Decision with your Values

Values are very personal and unique to you. They are what drives your motivation and sets priorities and goals in your life. What are values you ask? Things like honesty, integrity, authenticity, safety, taking responsibility and the list goes on. Core values are the foundation your life stands on. If you haven’t figured out what your core values are you aren’t going to make decisions that are best suited for who you are and what you truly need out of life. Ask yourself what is important to you so that you may determine what guides your attitude and actions. Health was one of my core values that I felt like I wasn’t honoring when I was drinking. So, when the decision was made to quit alcohol, I felt amazing that I was finally living in alignment with one of my core values. The decision was easy to make and even easier to stick with because of my awareness and dedication to my values.  

Stop Second Guessing your Decision

When you second guess your decision, you don’t make a commitment to the outcome. This is a demonstration of fear and not owning your decision. Asking for feedback regarding a decision is great but it could also lead to externalizing responsibility of your decision-making process to other people and undermines your ability to understand who you are and cope with the unexpected. I know I have made some regrettable past decisions, and this sometimes leads to second guessing myself today and undermines my confidence in making good decisions. I commit to my decision by weighing the pros and cons and accepting the unexpected outcome. I can’t predict or control everything in my life, so I trust my instincts. A lot of decision making is based on guess work and guessing to the best of your ability and staying flexible is the only thing you can do. 

Happy Deciding! 

Let me know what you think.

How do you make decisions in your life?