While I don't believe in regrets, looking back... it sure would have been nice to graduate high school or college with some more practical skills to utilize as I stepped into adulthood. We learn academics and if we are lucky, we cultivate some kind of creativity and expression in our school years, but coping tools and life skills are not usually found on our syllabus. I feel my book, "A Short Path to Change: 30 Ways to Transform Your Life" offers such a toolbox. This handbook contains over 30 short, accessible coping tools, many of which are crucial for young adults. It guides them to become aware of unhealthy, unwanted patterns and behaviors and helps create fast and lasting change before these patterns are locked into place for decades. If you are a new graduate or the parent or relative of a new graduate, then you may find these three tools and action steps helpful and worth sharing.
1) NEGATIVE SELF-TALK - Boy, we all do it. We speak to ourselves like we would never dream of speaking to a loved one or child. We endure a constant commentary of berating and judging ourselves for what we are doing, not doing, saying and not saying. It is amazing we can get up in the morning considering some of the comments we dare to speak to ourselves. Negative self-talk is un-motivating and a sure way to create anxiety. When we begin to listen to our own self-talk, we often can recognize it might not be anything we even believe about ourselves! We are just repeating some message said to us by a family member, teacher, community member, or a general message we've received from society's global consciousness. Statements such as "You're not good enough. You don't have what it takes. Life is hard." and oh so many more!
Action Step: Become aware of your self-talk. Begin to listen when you hear yourself say something negative and ask yourself: 1) "Is this something I truly believe? 2) "Does saying this empower me or disempower me?" 3) Do not beat yourself up when you catch yourself. Celebrate! Awareness is the first step towards changing it. 4) Express some gratitude toward yourself for knowing you are worthy of speaking to yourself with kindness.
2) SELF-LOVE - Our negative self-talk contributes to a lack of self-love and self-worth and most of us have other habits or behaviors in place that support this feeling. You may have been told that loving yourself or putting yourself first was selfish when in fact, it is necessary. When you love yourself, you know you are worthy of the best in all areas of your life; your job, your relationships, your finances, your mental and spiritual emotions. When you have healthy self-love, you set healthy boundaries within relationships instead of doing too much for others because you feel they need you. You look after yourself and allow the Universe to support you. You call experiences and people into your life that mirror that self-love and are for your highest good. If you feel badly about yourself, you will create unhealthy relationships because you will not be resonating high enough to attract anything else to you.
Action Step: Tonight before you go to sleep - list three things you did in the last week that made you proud. Maybe you took a class in something you love, perhaps you reached out to a friend in need, it could be the simple action of cooking a healthy meal, sharing a smile, or letting someone ahead of you in line. Change the pattern of beating yourself up and judging what is not "good" and allow yourself to bask in the many simple things you do naturally that are nice and helpful and give yourself credit.
3) THE PRESENT MOMENT - Most of the time our discontent comes from an event in the past or worry about the future. When we are in the present moment, we have the ability to choose how we will react instead of reacting from some old past behavior pattern that we have in place. There is priceless power in the current moment and we have about a 101 distractions around us at all times pulling us away from it. It takes presence of mind to bring you back to peace and calm and there are so many tools you can use that only take a few seconds to a few minutes that will reset your day. I actually devote nine chapters and exercises in my book to getting present. Once you can get past the inevitable resistance and begin to feel your connection to something greater and to your own inner power, that's the moment of being present. If you take small steps and get present a few times a day even for a couple minutes each time - you can significantly shift your life.
Action Step: Shut off your cell phone, TV, mp3 player, PC/Mac and any other distractions and gift yourself with 5 minutes of uninterrupted presence. Sit down somewhere comfortable, close your eyes and rest your hands comfortably on your lap and your feet on the floor. Notice your breathing, and if it is rapid or uneasy - set the intention that you would like to invite in some long slow breaths. Breathing is an essential part of our health and so many times we are holding our breath or breathing rapidly as we rush through the day. As you are in this quiet space, I want you to thank yourself for taking this time. Put one hand on your heart and ask yourself what you can do today to bring some joy into your life. Perhaps it will be to call a friend that makes you laugh, maybe you will be guided to take a walk, look into a class you were thinking of taking, take the time to make yourself a nice dinner. We always have the answers to this question but, if we are running around distracted and not present, we won't be open to hearing and receiving them. Thank yourself for taking this time and commit to following the guidance you received.
Change does not have to be arduous and take years of psychotherapy in most cases. We are our own greatest healers and change agents! Knowing our power and having the tools to cultivate these powers help us navigate and co-create our future - which is priceless. If you can be as kind, gentle and loving to yourself as you would a loved one on this journey forward achieving your desires - it will be in flow and will come faster than you ever imagined!
Wishing all this year's grads many blessings and years of life-long health, peace, and success in all your endeavors to come. The 30 exercises available in my book, "A Short Path to Change: 30 Ways to Transform Your Life" is my graduation gift to anyone who wants to provide practical life skills to the grads in your life and may it serve to guide them through creating real lasting change and the life of their dreams!