Three little words that may change your life… I like me.

April 30, 2014

Sometimes the simplest little things can have big impact on our lives. In this series of posts I examine very short sentences (each just three words long) that can make a difference in your life. If you have a three word sentence that changed your life somehow, share it with me and I will share it with the world.

It’s interesting and more than a little sad sometimes that some people spend a lot of time and energy trying to get people to like them. You see it on Facebook all the time – “If you like me, I’ll like you back.” Sometimes I get those “Like me, Like me, Like me” messages from people that I don’t even know, much less know if I like. I think it is much more important that you are able to look at yourself, how you conduct yourself in public and with others and how you feel when you are alone and be able to say – I like me.

After all you will spend more time with yourself than with anyone else, even a spouse; and, if you can’t ugly mirrorstand being alone with yourself, I’ll bet that you have issues with being with other people, too. Learning to like yourself is learning to be honest with yourself, but not harsh on yourself; especially if you’ve just screwed something up and you feel bad about it already. There are enough people taking shots at you, don’t beat yourself up. Sit down with some soft music on and a glass of wine and say, “Whether anyone else in the world does right now; I like me.”

I have known people who absolutely could not stand to be alone. Sometimes I’d think it was because they bored themselves to death, but the reality was that they just didn’t like themselves. They had no thoughts or opinions or dreams that they could just focus upon when no one else was around. They found themselves to be uninteresting. That’s just sad and for them scary. What they needed to do, and we all need to do, is to take ownership of their lives. Most of these people were joiners, followers and hangers-on, which is OK; but, one cannot live one’s life completely through others and by following along with others.  Eventually you have to take some leadership responsibility, if with no one else at least with yourself. You have to be responsible for your own entertainment and contentment, even when you are by yourself; and, that starts when you can get to the point where you admit to yourself – I like me.

look in mirorThat’s not narcissism (I love me might be, but we won’t go there); rather it is just being comfortable in your own skin. Being comfortable with who you are, where you are in life and confident about where you are headed and how you plan to get there. You know people like that; maybe you’ve met some or you would like to. You see them walk into a room and it’s not that they “own the room”; it’s more that they own themselves; they exude a quiet self-confidence, and others in the room find that interesting and gravitate to them – they are probably some of the people whom you’ve been following around. When you become a person who’s like that (someone that you’d like to meet in life); it’s because you have become a person, like them, who can say – I like me.

Let’s face it; it all starts with you. If you are the timid and shy wall flower, you don’t like that and you probably don’t like yourself either. The funny thing is that you don’t have to do all sorts of weird and unnatural things to break out of your cocoon of shyness, just start by liking yourself first. If you think about it, there probably aren’t a lot of people standing around pointing at you and saying, “I don’t like you.” It’s mainly you, staring into the mirror and saying that; so start by stopping that and starting each day with a quick look in the mirror and saying to that person – I like me.

Don’t tear yourself down; build yourself up.  Don’t find reasons to be fearful; find reasons to be confident. Don’t worry that you might look different; revel in the fact that you look unique. People will remember meeting you; make those memories pleasant and fun. If you wantlooking at self a good laugh that might help you put things in perspective, click on this link to take a quick look at the childhood pictures (and current shots) of some of Hollywood’s biggest stars. Don’t you think that they were once where you are now? They survived and got by that stage and now they like themselves. Once you can like yourself, you’ll find that you will spend less time avoiding the situations that used to make you nervous and withdrawn because liking yourself allows you to care a lot less about what the people around you will think of you and that self-confidence will shine through. You’ll also find that it is a lot easier for people to like you once you get to the place where you can say – I like me.

People conjure up amazing reasons to believe that others will not like them, if they have a problem liking themselves in the first place. All of a sudden a zit in the wrong place at the wrong time (is there every a good time) is imagined to be as bad a being labeled a leaper; a slight speech impediment or accent is conjured into an indictment of your intelligence; a lack of flashy athletic or academic happy reflectionachievements and awards is turned into an indication of failure in life. None of that is true and in most cases, none of it exists anywhere but in your imagination. Yet we let our imaginations and the fears that it conjures up rule our lives. Take your life back! Look in the mirror and tell yourself that none of that stuff matters. What really matters is that you know that God loves you and that you can look at that person in the mirror and say, I like me!

You’ve just satisfied the two most important people in your life, the others will come around.

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Three little words that may change your life… afraid of rejection.

April 29, 2014

Sometimes the simplest little things can have big impact on our lives. In this series of posts I examine very short sentences or phrases (each just three words long) that can make a difference in your life. If you have a three word sentence or phrase that changed your life somehow, share it with me and I will share it with the world.

I read a story today from one of the real estate news feeds that I get that reported that many would-berejected buyers, especially first-time buyers are sitting on the sidelines right now because they don’t believe that they could succeed if they applied for a mortgage. They haven’t tried, but they’ve read all of the newspaper reports and seen the stories on TV about how hardline the mortgage companies have become; so they are frozen in their tacks because they are  afraid of rejection.

Boy, do those three little words bring back memories all the way back to high school and spending prom night without a date, or walking home alone from the bar in college (and later in life) or even being reluctant to interview for the job that I wanted or to ask for the raise that I deserved. Or how about later in life not asserting a point of view in a conversation or not bidding on that house that you really love; all because you were afraid of rejection.

Fear of rejection or of failure tends to limit what you try in the first place, so it limits your potential for success and that is the greatest danger of all. The fear is usually about the unknown, since there would be no reason to worry and fret if you knew the outcome already. The unknown plays terrible tricks on our minds because it allows us to mentally explore all possible outcomes and we tend as humans to focus upon the negative alternatives. Good motivational coaches would work with you  to turn that around and tell you to focus upon visualizing the best outcomes to avoid being afraid of rejection.

In an earlier post titled Just do it, I talked of not letting fear uncertainty and doubt about something keep you from doing that thing. That post was more oriented towards trying new things and taking turtlerisks. One of the risks that life throws at us is the risk of rejection. You may have finally worked up the courage to ask that pretty girl that you’ve been admiring to the dance and then you get rejected. So what? You may have finally gone in to see the boss about that job opening in the department and got rejected. So what? You may have displayed your art at a show or fair and nor had a single buyer. So what? You’re still standing. The only blood spilled was that of your ego taking a hit. You’ll still be here tomorrow and tomorrow may present another chance; and, if not then, maybe the next day will be your day. You can’t be like a turtle and pull back into your shell from life because you are afraid of rejection.

Stuff happens. Rejection happens. Life goes on. In fact I challenge you to stop and think for a minute when rejection happens – Did that hurt as much as you feared  it would or was it really just disappointing? Did all of the terrible things that you had imagined come to pass or did the moment pass without all of that drama?  Did you go into whatever it was with a positive attitude or were you thinking,anxious “I’ll probably get rejected,” from the get go.  If you can admit to yourself that you went into it with that negative attitude then you’ll know what to work on for the next time. And, there will be a next time – a time when you won’t be afraid of rejection.

That’s the next thing that you’ll realize if you stop and think about it is – it didn’t kill me; I’m still here;  I’ll have another chance. If you can get to that point mentally, you’re on your way to where you really want to be – that place where you boldly go ahead with your dreams and plans. You’ll get there once you’ve been knocked down a few times and realize that you got back up and went on. You’ll get to that place of self-confidence because you’ve looked it in the eye, you got back up and you are no longer afraid of rejection.

Congratulations when you get to the mental place that you need to be at; you have discovered self –confidence. Self-confidence isn’t blind, stupid belief that you can do anything (we have the Jackass facing new daymovie franchise for that) but rather a logical and calculated belief, based upon experiences, that you can accomplish great things because you are not afraid to try. You have reached that state where, as  Nelson Mandela said, “I am the master of my fate and the captain of my destiny” and you are no longer afraid of rejection.

Go for it!


Three little words that may change your life… Yes, I can!

April 27, 2014

Sometimes the simplest little things can have big impact on our lives. In this series of posts I examine very short sentences (each just three words long) that can make a difference in your life. If you have a three word sentence that changed your life somehow, share it with me and I will share it with the world.

Today I did something that I never imagined I would do – I delivered the sermon at my church. Our pastor was on vacation this week and asked me several weeks ago if I would consider doing the sermon. He had been following my three little words blog series and thought that I might be up to taking on the bigger challenge of putting a whole lot more words together and doing the Sunday sermon. I thought about it for about a week before I replied – Yes I can.

Now let me disclose in all honesty that I have some experience in public speaking, but all of that was speaking about something that I knew a great deal about. I was in the IT industry for 30+ years with many roles in marketing that required that I make large and small audience presentations; so the act of speaking in front of an audience wasn’t the issue; it was the fact that this was to be a sermon, which I had only ever experienced from a comfortable seat in the pews. It was a scary proposition; but, also one that I found I was strongly drawn to accept. So, with a great deal of trepidation remaining, I replied to the pastor – Yes I can!

So, now it’s Sunday night and I can say that I did it, and It went well. Many people in the congregation congratulated me on doing a good job. I feel great about it now; but I’ve got to admit that I was concerned and unsure about it even at the moment that I started; but, I was committed to do it, because I had stepped up and said – Yes, I can!

Ironically for me, the sermon this morning was based upon the scripture in John, chapter 20, about Doubting Thomas, the one Disciple among the 11 remaining Disciples who doubted that Jesus had arisen from the grave and returned to be with them. So I had to preach about having doubts while having doubts about being able to preach (turn that over in your minds a few times).

I wrote out a script based upon some quick research into Thomas and then turned to the process of refining those words and deciding what to really say and what to drop. That’s not an easy process and I have a much greater appreciation for what preachers everywhere go through to arrive at what they end up delivering on Sunday. The key for me was to winnow down what I wanted to say once I had decided to say – Yes I can.

The challenge for all of us is to make that commitment, to take that first step to success by declaring to yourself and to others that you will do whatever it is that you are facing. Every challenge in life starts with the question, can you do this?  If others aren’t asking, you are asking it of yourself. Do I have the skills or capabilities? Am I ready to take this on? Am I willing to take this on?  Maybe it’s a new job or maybe it’s a new responsibility like marriage or parenthood. Maybe you’ve been asked to do something at work that is a stretch or maybe someone has asked you to do something that you’ve never tried to do before. If you feel strongly about your need to try to do it, the first person that you need to convince is yourself. You need to be able to look in the mirror and say – Yes, I can!

So, tomorrow is Monday and many of us have to go off to work. Do you trudge off with your head held down, afraid of what the day may bring or maybe you’re fairly sure of what it will bring and dreading it ahead of time? I’ve written several posts that were meant to help with that – Just do it was one and Deal with it was another. It is so much better to start the day with the attitude of being able to handle or do whatever the day throws at you, but remember also the advice in the post I need help that It is important to ask for help when you need it and not to fail or withdraw in self-inflicted defeat without really trying when all you need is the help that is available all around you. With or without help it is important that you eventually get to the place where you can say to yourself and others with confidence – Yes I can.

Have a great day because you can.


Three little words that may change your life… Seize the day.

April 25, 2014

Sometimes the simplest little things can have big impact on our lives. In this series of posts I examine very short sentences (each just three words long) that can make a difference in your life. If you have a three word sentence that changed your life somehow, share it with me and I will share it with the world.

Today’s three little words are often seen in their Latin version – Carpe Diem! Whether in Latin or plaicarpe diemn
English the thought is the same, that one should take control of their life and not let the event of life take control of them. One should make the most of each day and the opportunities which are presented that day. Rather than just wandering through the day in a passive way, one should seize the day.

While some might think the words to be a bit too aggressive and perhaps even too macho, the message applies to everyone equally, whether men, women or children – take control of your life and decide what you want to do today; don’t wait for the day to throw things at you to react too. That means starting out each day with some plans and goals in mind. What are your goals for today? Just hoping that you can get through the day is not a goal; that’s a defeatist attitude that starts by positioning yourself as a victim. Go back and re-read my post, Be a victor. Seize the day.

Imagine how much better you’ll feel if you start each day by spending just a little time thinking about good and positive things that you are going to accomplish that day and visualizing your success. Amp yourself up, by saying to yourself, “this is my day and I’m going to make the most of it.” Greet people that you meet with a smile, a warm greeting and a handshake or hug. Be satisfied and happy with all of the small wins that you may have during the day and with the progress that you are able to make against the larger issues or tasks that you are facing. You can’t eat the whale in one day, but you can take a good bite out of it. Do not let the day rule you; instead, seize the day.

girl with smile pictureSome people actually have T-shirts that say “Carpe Diem” on them or maybe even “Seize the Day”; if it helps you feel better about it, imagine that you are wearing one of those T-shirts. You can also find tons of quotes and saying about seizing the day, so go read a few of them for further inspiration. The real point is to take some action, to have some plan, to make some effort, to imagine something different, or to just to launch into the day with enthusiasm, hope and faith that this is going to be a great day – seize the day!


Three little words that may change your life… Quitters never win.

April 24, 2014

Sometimes the simplest little things can have big impact on our lives. In this series of posts I examine very short sentences (each just three words long) that can make a difference in your life. If you have a three word sentence that changed your life somehow, share it with me and I will share it with the world.

Today’s three little words are often used in sports settings or other competitive endeavors, supposedly to “encourage” someone to continue striving towards some goal. Often they work at cross-purposes, especially if he person who is hearing them has decided to stop trying to do whatever it was – they’ve already quit. Then they become a mocking negative reinforcement of being somehow a loser. After all – quitters never win.

I submit that there many cases to be made of quitters actually winning. If one gives up smoking after many years – quits – they are certainly a winner. If one quits drinking after realizing that they had become an alcoholic they have assuredly become a winner. If a woman abandons (quits) the abusive husband or relationship that she stayed with for far too long, she is well on her way to becoming a winner. If a young person quits experimenting with drugs, because he/she finally realizes the danger and the destructive influence that drugs have on their life; how could you call that anything other than winning? So there are many times when it isn’t true that quitters never win.

If we re-visit the testosterone-fueled world of competitive sports and looked in depth at what is now known about the medical aspects of competition, I suspect that we would find more than a few ex-athletes who wish they had listened to their bodies when they were playing and not to coaches yelling at them to “shake it off” and not to quit. They are hobbled now by blown-out knees or injured shoulders and backs or worse. There are many ex-winners in sports who didn’t quit after a concussion or two and who now face dementia or Alzheimer’s disease because the coach told them to put their helmet back on and get back in the game with the phrase – quitters never win.

For life in general this little phrase has become a favored phrase overbearing coaches and is of somewhat of a bully in itself, exhorting many who should never have tried something in the first place to go on until they ultimately fail. If they are trying to do something that they are ill equipped to do; they are destined to think of themselves as losers whether they quit or just fail.  Many times quitting is the best and most intelligent thing to do, before you push well beyond your limit and hurt yourself. Never let intelligence and common sense  get drowned out by the bully phrase – quitters never win.

Perhaps the base problem behind that destructive little phrase is the obsession that we have as humans (or maybe just some societies)  with the concept of winning. We see everything as a zero sum game – there must be a winner and conversely those who do not win are losers. I don’t see life that way; however,  I’m also not a fan of schools who focus so much on the students’ self-esteem that the shuffle underperforming students along through the grades, even if they can’t read or write. There need to be standards in schools and students need to meet them to be rewarded.  In general, I much prefer the model that is used in Special Olympics competitions that says everyone who competes is a winner because they tried their best. Try telling that to the high school football coach who’s busy yelling at his players that quitters never win.

Now, just so you don’t go away grumbling that I’m encouraging people to quit at whatever they try; that is not the case. You should try and try hard in whatever you decide to take on; but, you should also allow yourself to be ruled by common sense and intelligence rather than testosterone and a false sense of duty or guilt. Quitting before you hurt yourself is not bad; staying in the game even though you are injured is just dumb.  Quitting before you endanger yourself is better than finding yourself in a dangerous or life-threatening situation with no way out. Quitting bad habits or practices, even in the face of peer-pressure to continue is preferable to finding yourself in trouble with your parents, your school or the law. At the end of the day you’ll still be standing there, ready to try again or to try something different ; unlike some of your friends who may be on crutches or using a cane or who always seem to be confused, because they listened too long to the phrase quitters never win.

 


Three little words that may change your life… What, me worry?

April 23, 2014

Sometimes the simplest little things can have big impact on our lives. In this series of posts I examine very short sentences (each just three words long) that may make a difference in your life. If you have a three word sentence that changed your life somehow, share it with me and I will share it with the world. If you just had fun reading the post; well, that’s OK too. Enjoy.

When I was growing up a satirical monthly comic magazine call Mad Magazine was all the rage. I remember anticipating the latest issue each month. There were new Spy vs. Spy episodes  and great cartoons by Don Martin. The whole issue was an irreverent look at things happening in society. I noted at their web site today that recent issues have Alfred E. Neuman, the iconic gap-toothed kid who is always on the cover, twerking with Miley Cyrus and taking on the Lego phenomenon. Over all of those years and still today there was Alfred E. Neuman smiling from the cover each month with his tag line  – What, me worry?

Mad Magazine was launched in 1952 and is still around today, now in bi-monthly issues, and they have their own web site, too. I took a quick peak at the web site and can tell that they are still launching irreverent comic stink bombs into the minds of the children that they target. It’s still a hoot if you’re young. The humor at Mad has always been more sophisticated than the indicated target audience would seem to dictate, but I suspect that the audience has also caught up to a level of understanding of the satire involved. If you talk for long with a middle-schooler you’ll understand that satire and cynicism aren’t lost on them. Still it is on the surface a great temporary escape from reality and still has that great philosophy – What, me worry?

I believe that we could all use a little more humor in our lives and a lot less worry. I wrote about dealing with issues or worries in the post Deal with it. I also wrote about being at peace, which is for the most part being free from worries. Worries are a tremendous waste of time and energy, especially if they are about things over which we have no control. Did you remember to turn off the stove at home before you left? Did you mail the bills on time? Is anyone going to ask you to the prom? Will you remember everything for today’s test? What should you expect in today’s job interview? Is your really going to come visit for two weeks? Deal with it, be at peace and say to yourself – What, me worry?

It is particularly a waste of time and energy when what we are worrying about is something that we conjured up in our own imagination in the first place. That is often the case if we are facing some sort of confrontation at home or at work and let our imaginations explore all possible outcomes. What if they start yelling or crying, what will I do? What if they get mad? What if they can’t understand my side of things? What if I lose a friend? Don’t go there. Instead, relax, read a good book or watch a good movie and get your mind off of it. Instead, try to get to that state of mind of – What, me worry?

So, while Alfred E. Neuman’s little tag line might not be the bedrock upon which you want to base your philosophy of life, it certainly has value as a safety valve of sorts to prevent things from becoming overwhelming. Don’t take life so seriously.  If you find yourself drifting into worries about things that you know you can’t control, just look yourself in the mirror and imagine that little smiling gap-toothed character looking back at you and asking – What, me worry?


Three little words that can change your life… Where’s the beef?

April 22, 2014

Sometimes the simplest little things can have big impact on our lives. In this series of posts I examine very short sentences (each just three words long) that can make a difference in your life. If you have a three word sentence that changed your life somehow, share it with me and I will share it with the world.

I must give my wife credit for suggesting this blog topic. You may recall the Wendy’s commercials featuring Clara Peller with that iconic question – Where’s the beef? If not, click here for a refresher. Clara was all the rage for her short period of fame. Let’s look at those three little words in a different context.

In times past, one might spend hours in conversation with someone else or take the time to write a nice long letter to them.  We have more recently become a society enamored of shorter and more vacuous and certainly less personal forms of communications, such as Instant Messages, Facebook posts or Twitter tweets. One can almost imagine Clara looking at some of these so-called methods of communications, especially tweets, and asking, “Where’s the beef?”

blah-blahIn day-to-day life, you may encounter people with whom you can talk for some time and yet not really learned anything important, sometimes not even why you were talking about in the first place. Apparently many of these people seem to believe that you already know what it is that they are trying to say, because the phrase “you know” is thrown in quite often.  I often just want to grab them and say, “I don’t know. That’s what I’m trying to find out.” A discussion with some of these people may be likened to taking a big bite of cotton candy. You just want to scream – “Where’s the beef?”

Of course one who is want to criticize others must also hold the mirror up to one’s own practices. Do I say, “Hey, we’ve got to talk” and then proceed to beat around the bush because I don’t really want to confront an issue? If someone asks my opinion on a something do I give it honestly, but tactfully; or do I hem and haw and spout back some nambie pambie pabulum designed not to offend.  When challenged do I put up or shut up. Is it not fair then to ask of myself – “Where’s the beef?”

young coupleIn asking the question metaphorically that Clara ask in the hamburger ad, one must be careful to define what “the beef” would be in the particular situation in question. In the case of love, for instance, the question may be about the relationship and the “beef” might equate to commitment. One can be in love and in a relationship, but is it a committed relationship? Now, I don’t mean to imply that commitment equates immediately to a marriage proposal; however, one party or the other sensing a lack of commitment on the part of the other party is certainly justified in asking – “Where’s the beef?”

We just celebrated Easter and Christians everywhere are justifiably puffed up about themselves and their faith; but what of next week or next month? Will we still be full of the spirit and out doing God’s work or will our day-to-day lives have once again overwhelmed our Easter-fueled resolve to be better people? “Belief means nothing without actions” ― Randa Abdel-Fattah.  Are we living out faith through our daily actions and the example that we set or are the people around us justified when it comes to our faith of asking – “Where’s the Beef?”

And what about your personal integrity? I wrote about making commitments to others at the beginning of April in the post, I’ve got this. It is important that people believe that you will come through on your commitments. When you say that you’ll be somewhere or do something and make man with talk ballonthe commitment, do people know that they can count on your word or do they silently whisper to themselves – Yeah, right – Where’s the beef?

So today’s post is all about substance over style, substance over fluff, and substance over flowery rhetoric. Well before Clara uttered her famous line, Mark twain said, “Action speaks louder than words but not nearly as often.” No one will question the person who is busy doing; but for those who spend more time talking than doing it is appropriate bring on Clara and let her ask, “Where’s the beef?”

So, the real answer in life to Clara question is found by examining your actions. Will people find you to be a huge, fluffy bun with a tiny little burger hidden inside, as Clara and her friends found in the commercial; or will your life look like those big juicy burger patties that Wendy’s was advertising, bursting over the side of the bun. At the end of the day make sure that no one can look you in the eye and ask – “Where’s the beef?”