10 Things to Remember About Toxic Family Members

10 Things to Remember About Toxic Family Members

Family is supposed to be our safe haven.  Sometimes, however, it’s the place where we find the deepest heartache.

Letting go of (or breaking up with) a toxic friend, boyfriend or girlfriend is one thing, and there’s plenty of advice out there for doing so, but what about letting go of a toxic family member?

Most of us are not in a position to just walk away, nor do we feel that we want to, or that it’s the right thing to do.  So what do we do when a family member is literally spoiling our lives with their toxicity?  How do we deal with our feelings of obligation, confusion, betrayal and heartache?

First and foremost, you must accept the fact that not everyone’s family is healthy or available for them to lean on, to call on, or to go home to.  Not every family tie is built on the premise of mutual respect, love and support.  Sometimes “family” simply means that you share a bloodline.  That’s all.  Some family members build us up and some break us down.

Second, you must understand that a toxic family member may be going through a difficult stage in their lives.  They may be ill, chronically worried, or lacking what they need in terms of love and emotional support.  Such people need to be listened to, supported, and cared for (although whatever the cause of their troubles, you may still need to protect yourself from their toxic behavior at times).

The key thing to keep in mind is that every case of dealing with a toxic family member is a little different, but in any and every case there are some universal principles we need to remember, for our own sake:

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  1. They may not be an inherently bad person, but they’re not the right person to be spending time with every day. – Not all toxic family relationships are agonizing and uncaring on purpose.  Some of them involve people who care about you – people who have good intentions, but are toxic because their needs and way of existing in the world force you to compromise yourself and your happiness. And as hard as it is, we have to distance ourselves enough to give ourselves space to live.  You simply can’t ruin yourself on a daily basis for the sake of someone else.  You have to make your well-being a priority.  Whether that means spending less time with someone, loving a family member from a distance, letting go entirely, or temporarily removing yourself from a situation that feels painful – you have every right to leave and create some healthy space for yourself. [Read more…]

40 Quotes that Will Quiet Your Mind

40 Quotes that Will Quiet Your Mind

Peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. Peace means to be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in your heart.

You know how you always turn down the volume on the radio when you need to think clearly about something complicated or confusing?

The same is true for your life in general.  The noise you need to cut out to concentrate?  That’s the noise in your head – the busy, worried thoughts screaming over your better judgment.

Turning down the radio refocuses your mind and offers you clarity when you need it most.  You don’t really think about how or why this makes such a huge difference, you just know that it does.

Now it’s time to apply this same strategy to all the other noise in your life, starting with the noise in your head.  And although it’s not quite as easy as spinning the radio’s volume dial, the good news is you can quiet your mind and train it to think more rationally simply by reminding yourself to do so every day.  Some people call them affirmations, or mantras, or convictions, but in any case these daily reminders keep you on track by keeping peaceful, productive thoughts at the top of your mind, even when life gets noisy.

Here are 40 quotes gathered from our blog archive that can be used as reminders to help tweak your thoughts and quiet your anxious mind:

  1. Everything is created twice, first in the mind and then in reality.  So pay close attention to the thoughts you choose.  They have a way of becoming real.
  2. There is absolutely nothing about your present circumstances that prevents you from making progress, one step at a time.
  3. Worry, and you get what you worry about.  Work, and you get what you work for.  It’s often just that simple. [Read more…]

5 Ways to Stop Worrying About What Everyone Thinks of You

5 Ways to Stop Worrying About What Everyone Thinks of You

You could spend the whole year worrying about what other people think of you, but it wouldn’t get you anywhere.

“What’s wrong with wanting others to like you?”

That’s what several of our course members asked me in response to one of my recent course member emails.  And I’ve been asked similar questions over the years too.  So today, I want to discuss why it’s not healthy to spend lots of time worrying about what everyone thinks of you, and how to stop yourself from doing so.

In a nutshell, tying your self-worth to everyone else’s opinions gives you a flawed sense of reality.  But before we look at how to fix this, first we need to understand why we do this…

From wanting others to think we’re attractive, to checking the number of likes and comments on our Facebook and Instagram posts, most of us care about what others think.  In fact, a big part of this is an innate desire that we are born with.  It has been proven time and time again that babies’ emotions are often drawn directly from the behaviors of those around them.

As we grow up, we learn to separate our thoughts and emotions from everyone else’s, but many of us continue to seek – and in many cases beg for – positive social validation from others.  This can cause serious trouble when it comes to self-esteem and happiness.  In a recent survey we did with 3,000 of our course members and coaching clients, 67% of them admitted that their self-worth is strongly tied to what other people think of them.

As human beings, we naturally respond to everything we experience through the lens of our learned expectations – a set of deep-rooted beliefs about the way the world is and how things should be.  And one of the most prevailing expectations we have involves external validation and how others ‘should’ respond to us.

Over a century ago, social psychologist Charles Cooley identified the phenomenon of the “looking-glass self,” which is when we believe “I am not what I think I am, and I am not what you think I am – I am what I think that you think I am.”  This kind of external validation has insecurity at its core, and relying on it for even a short time chips away at our sense of self-worth and self-confidence.

The biggest problem is we tend to forget that people judge us based on a pool of influences in their own life that have absolutely nothing to do with us.  For example, a person might assume things about you based on a troubled past experience they had with someone else that looks kind of like you, or someone else who shares your same last name, etc.  Therefore, basing your self-worth on what others think puts you in a perpetual state of vulnerability – you are literally at the mercy of their unreliable, bias perspectives.  If they see you in the right light, and respond to you in a positive, affirming manner, then you feel good about yourself.  And if not, you feel like you did something wrong.

Bottom line:  When you’re doing everything for other people, and basing your happiness and self-worth on their opinions, you’ve lost your moral center.

The good news is we have the capacity to watch our thoughts and expectations, identify which ones serve us, and then change the ones that do not.

So, in order to stop worrying so much about what others think, it’s time to inject some fresh objectivity into your life, and develop a value system that doesn’t depend on others every step of the way.  Here are five things you can start doing today:

1.  Remind yourself that most people are NOT thinking about you anyway.

Ethel Barrett once said, “We would worry far less about what others think of us if we realized how seldom they do.”  Nothing could be closer to the truth.

Forget what everyone else [Read more…]

12 Toxic Beliefs You Need Out of Your Mind

12 Toxic Beliefs You Need Out of Your Mind

What we can or can’t do, what we consider possible or impossible, is rarely a function of our strengths or intelligence.  It’s often a function of our beliefs about who we are.

“The drummer in our band, Nick, is legally deaf, and has been since he was born.  But he can still hear low bass tones and feel the vibrations from the drums and other instruments.  Honestly, he’s such an incredible drummer that most people don’t believe he’s deaf.  Sometimes I can’t believe it myself.”

Those inspiring lines come right out of a live chat conversation I had this morning with Amber, one of our newest course members (she gave me permission to share this with you here).  Amber is an ER nurse by profession, but moonlights as the lead singer in a renowned local jazz band in New Orleans on Friday and Saturday nights.  And as you can tell, her drummer, Nick, is one of her greatest inspirations.

Later on in our chat session, Amber said, “You know, I hate to admit it, but I envy Nick.  I really do!  I mean, I know I could be almost as amazing as him, in so many walks of life, if I could just silence the voices in my head.”

“What voices,” I asked.

“You know, the voices constantly telling me that I’m not good enough, that I don’t have enough, that it’s too late for me, that the naysayers are always right and I’m always wrong, and so forth,” she said.

And as she got deeper into things, we ended up cutting our chat session short and jumping on the phone to flesh things out and get her thinking back on track.

But the truth is, she’s not the only one who feels this way.  Over the past decade Angel and I have coached thousands of people from around the world, with vastly different lifestyles and socioeconomic backgrounds, and most of them suffer from the same exact toxic beliefs Amber does.  So today, I want to build upon my recent article on self-limiting beliefs and share some of these with you – 12 of the most common toxic beliefs we see our coaching clients and course members struggle with, time and time again (see if you can identify with any of them):

  1. “I’m not good enough.” – Embrace all of yourself.  When you appreciate your flaws and faults, they lose their power over you.  Too many people overvalue what they are not and undervalue what they are.  Don’t be one of them.  What you experience in life starts with your perception.  In almost every case, nothing is stopping you… nothing is holding you back but your own thoughts about yourself and “how life is.”  Your perception creates your beliefs.  Your beliefs create your behaviors.  And your behaviors produce your experience. [Read more…]

10 Things You Must Give Up to Get Yourself Back on Track

10 Things You Must Give Up to Get Yourself Back on Track

If you want to grow and move on to better things, you have to give up the things that hold you back.

Last night, Marc and I received a new thank you email from a longtime reader and coaching client named Kevin (we’re writing about him today with his consent).  He said our book and life coaching sessions helped him and his wife Laura maintain a positive, intentional mindset as they struggled and grew through one of the most difficult periods of their lives.  Certain sections of his email nearly moved me to tears:

“As you know, after injuring my back, losing my job because of it, being evicted from our apartment, moving in with Laura’s parents, nursing my five-year-old through a nearly fatal bout of strep throat, I was stuck in a tragic rut for far too long.  And I was sitting on the front porch of my in-law’s house feeling sorry for myself, yet again, when my old college buddy called me crying and said, ‘Mel-Mel-Melissa, my baby girl, just died in a car wreck.’  And suddenly I felt like the lucky one.”

Kevin then went on to say, “It was the shock of my friend’s tragic loss that motivated me to review four pages of notes I had previously taken from both your book and our most recent coaching sessions.  And this time your wisdom sunk in!  Suddenly a light bulb illuminated in my mind – and it literally changed my entire outlook from negative to positive.  I suddenly realized there were people who needed me to get back up, and infinite reasons and ways to do my very best with what I had.  So I started giving up all the negative things I was thinking and doing that had been holding me back; and then I took a bold step forward, and another, and another.  And it’s been almost a year now, and I’m happy to say you were right!”

If you can relate to Kevin’s situation in any way, and you’re ready to move forward, I want to remind you that TODAY is the first day of the rest of your life.  The road ahead is wide open.  You CAN get yourself back on track!

But first, you have to…

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  1. Give up pretending that you have to be who you used to be. – When times get tough, our worst battle is often between what we remember and what we presently feel.  Thus, one of the hardest decisions you will ever have to make is when to stay put and struggle harder or when to take your memories and move on.  Sometimes you have to step outside of the person you’ve been, and remember the person you were meant to be, the person you are capable of being, and the person you truly are today. [Read more…]