Motivation, habits and willpower- what you need to know to change your life

Reading Time: 6 minutes

In my last post "5 steps that you can take today which will help you to start new, healthy habits this year", I had written about 5 steps that you can take to inculcate healthy habits in the new year. In this follow up post, I delve a bit deeper into what actually drives us to take action, create new habits and make changes in our lives. 

“At some point, the pain of not doing it becomes greater than the pain of doing it.”

-Steven Pressfield

I have noticed that for many of us what drives us to take action is ultimately our suffering that finally becomes too much to ignore any longer. This is not to judge anyone for doing this since pretty much all of us tend to do this at some time or the other. We procrastinate till either a looming deadline or some other incentive comes along prompting us to take that much needed action.

However, this becomes a big issue only when it permeates every aspect of our decision making, becomes a habit and starts affecting our health, career and relationships. In fact, many chronic health issues could be prevented or at the very least managed much better if we knew how to motivate ourselves to take action on a consistent basis. In my coaching practice, a major part of my work as a Health Coach is to use motivational interviewing techniques with my clients. This is a client centred discussion using open ended questions which helps them uncover their own reasons to change while at the same time providing a safe, non judgemental and compassionate environment for them to do so.

The good thing is that we can learn to be self motivated and that self motivation is a skill which can be learned and developed through practice. However, it does require a certain degree of self awareness and self exploration. I have written several posts on this topic and you can read them here and here

"The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change"

-Carl Rogers

Take some time and reflect upon some changes that you know you need to make but are unable to find the energy or the motivation to do so. Given below are a few of questions that you may want to ask yourself at this point to gain more clarity in terms of uncovering your reasons for making these changes in your life.

(reflect on these questions and write them down in your journal)

What makes you think you need to change?

What will happen if you don’t change?

What will be different in your life if you do make these changes?

Waiting for the right moment

Too many of us wait for external circumstances to change before we make any changes. The “right time” or the “right moment” to take action somehow never seems to arrive and sadly we end up waiting till the end of their lives without taking that action. This kind of thought process is applicable to starting a new business, creating art, writing a book, creating a new habit or for that matter any other endeavour.

Intrinsic motivation is necessary for making sure that we take action on a consistent basis. This is because intrinsic motivation is based on personal values and self awareness that leads to enjoyment, satisfaction and interest in the action being taken. As you may have realised by now, this kind of self motivation is the difference between our feeling that “we have to” do something as opposed to our feeling that “we get to” do something. It is thus the difference between feeling forced, unsatisfied and unhappy in contrast to feeling satisfied, fulfilled and energised. 

Decision fatigue is real

We also tend to have a lot of faith in our willpower in creating new habits and achieving our goals. We wrongly believe that successful people have more of it than others. However, research now shows that willpower is like a muscle and gets used up and fatigued as we keep using it time and again. This has major implications for many of the decisions that we take on a regular basis and in particular those decisions which affect major parts of our life.

Knowing this, we can prioritise and schedule our most important work first thing in the day when our willpower is at its highest. We can also plan our day ahead and automate decisions that we take every single day- what to eat; what to wear; which project to work on first etc. This leaves us with enough willpower to put apply our minds to the work that is important for us. This is so important for productivity that I have written an entire post about it here. rather than leaving it to our willpower we can learn ways to prevent this from taking place.

This strategy is something that has enabled me to be productive as a mother, full time entrepreneur and a health coach. 

 Our environment matters

Our environment is another factor which can either undermine or support our decision to take action. While it is very easy to blame the environment when things go wrong we forget that the environment that we live in drives both our good and bad behaviours. We can thus learn how to design our environment so that it supports rather than undermine our efforts in making changes in our lives and then sustaining them. 

According to James Clear (an author, entrepreneur who writes about self improvement ) there are 3 main ways to do this. 

Automating good decisions so that we can overcome procrastination by making it easier for us to take action. For eg. scheduling and using a social media blocking app at certain times in the day to reduce procrastination and distractions

Making the cues of good habits stand out in our environment so that we are more likely to notice them and act on them. Eg. keeping our workout clothes and shoes right next to our bed so that it is the first thing we see when we wake up.

Subtracting the negative influences in our environment by making them invisible. For eg. I rarely get those foods at home which I do not want my children (and family) to consume since I know it is not good for our health. 

Clarity, not chance

Many of us are also not very clear about exactly what we will be doing in order to achieve the goals that we set for ourselves. For eg. if we are planning to eat a healthy diet, are we clear on the following?  What type of meals are we going to make? Salads or soups? Which days are we planning to have these? Every single day or on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesdays? Are we going to cook these meals or outsource them?

The more clarity we have on how we plan to implement a new habit or reach a goal the more likely it is that we will be able to achieve it. If it is not very obvious when and where we need to take action it becomes difficult for us to implement it. (In my last post I had shared with you 5 steps that you can take to start new habits, you can read it here)

And last but not least, I have also shared with you some steps to help you feel more motivated today

  • Setting realistic, specific goals for yourself
  • Assessing and being able to take the right level of risk
  • Developing a constant love of learning to acquire new skills and knowledge
  • Being committed to personal and professional growth as opposed to merely wishing something would happen
  • Learning to become resilient by accepting and dealing with failure and moving on 
  • Reminding yourself often of your “why”
  • Taking the time to rest and recharge regularly
  • Getting help when needed

The bottom line is that there is no ONE particular thing that you can do which will help you to make these changes. The decisions that we take and the choices that we make every single day matter much more than you think and have long term consequences. 

As the famed philosopher, Socrates had said "The secret to change is to focus all your energy, not on fighting the old but on building the new."

5 steps that you can take today which will help you to start new, healthy habits this year

Reading Time: 8 minutes

A warm welcome to 2020! I hope you are as excited as I am about the new year. 

In this new year, we get yet another chance to

be curious and explore all that life has to offer us

make a new beginning 

make things right 

celebrate our achievements

learn from our mistakes

learn to let go of what no longer serves us

 

Opportunities or challenges?

There will be many happy and enjoyable moments this year but at the same time, there will also be many others which are difficult and challenging. Many of these difficult moments will actually be opportunities masquerading as challenges. The point is not “if and when” these will show up but whether you and I will be well prepared to greet these situations with the right frame of mind. Either way you may be all set to start this year on the right note and incorporate some healthy habits in your life that are long lasting. 

In this article and the next, I discuss some steps that you can take to create healthy habits, motivate yourself right from the beginning and BECOME the person you need to be in order to sustain those changes in your life. There are many books and articles on these and other related topics and I have been greatly inspired by them. I have tried my best to encapsulate the core essence of these amazing resources in these blog posts as well as draw from my own experience as well as that of my clients in my health coaching practice.

Habits and outcomes- the connection

In fact, you may already be working on or at the very least be thinking about some kind of goals, resolutions, healthy habits that you would like to build upon in your life. While I am not an expert on these topics, as a coach I guide my coaching clients to incorporate and sustain healthy habits as they work on their health and wellness goals. The main objective to bring about some form of transformation in the areas of their life that they are struggling with. As my clients start moving towards their goals, they soon realise that it is indeed our habits which determine the outcomes in our life both good AND bad.

As Aristotle had said

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit"  

In my last post, I had touched upon some key reasons why many of us never end up taking any action in spite of having the best of intentions. In this post, I go one step further and give you some action steps to help you remove as much friction as possible and make it easy for you to make changes that you need to in your life.

Let go of the controls

Before we can get started however, there is something that we all need to come to terms with. The reality is that we have much less control over the outcomes of the efforts that we put in than we think we do. In other words, inspite of putting in our best efforts we may not get the results that we want and some times, things can also go wrong. Ignoring this reality and trying to control ALL the outcomes all the time can be both tiring AND frustrating. 

Yet, this is exactly how we approach most of our goals- with an extremely tight and clenched fist. Rather than focus on our efforts and our response to a situation we end up focusing on things beyond our control. However, the truth is, some times it is only when we let go of the controls that we actually start seeing the results that we want in our life. 

There is a lovely story that illustrates this point in a book that I read recently called “The Inside Out Revolution” by Michael Neill. Robert C. Kausen, a teacher and consultant had shared this story with the author many years ago. 

The story goes like this....

“He was telling me about a friend of his from high school who was training for his pilot's license. 

During his first solo flight, he lost control of his Piper Cub “trainer plane” high above the ground.  The more he tried to bring the plane back under his control, the more wildly it spun, and his conversation with the tower went something like this:

Pilot: “Mayday! Mayday! I've lost control of the plane—please advise!”

Tower: “Take your hands and feet off the controls—I repeat, take your hands and feet off the controls!”

Imagine yourself for a moment as that young pilot. You are spinning wildly out of control, clearly heading for a devastating crash, and the person who’s supposed to be looking out for your safety and well-being is telling you to let go of the controls of the plane.

Is he insane?  Does he have some kind of a personal vendetta against you that you don't know about?

Pilot: “Negative, Tower—repeat, I have lost control of the plane!  I'm trying everything I know to do to bring it back under control but I can't do it!  Please, just tell me what to do!”

Tower: “This is a matter of life and death—Take your hands and feet off the controls—do it NOW!”

What the young pilot didn’t know (and the air traffic controller clearly did) is that trainer planes have a self-righting mechanism built into them.  When you let go of the controls, the plane levels itself out. Once the plane is back on an even keel, the pilot can take over again and steer the plane back to safety—which is exactly what happened in the case of Robert’s young friend.

So how does this apply to us?”

 

As Martin Luther King Jr had said

“You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step”. 

You will soon realise that taking the first step and building momentum is key to getting started. No matter how small that step is, it is important to get going in the right direction. It is very common for many of us to simply constantly attain the knowledge required but fail to take any action whatsoever. And as time goes by, they lose confidence and fail to act upon the opportunities that come their way.

Here are a few action steps for you to get started

1. Take an inventory of your current habit system

You already have a system in place which may or may not be working for you. If your system is designed to produce negative, self limiting beliefs and self defeating patterns in your life, you need to become aware of it. It is time to take a good hard look at where you are in your life right now. As the habits expert James Clear says “You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems”. 

This means that you need to ask yourself these questions

Which of your current habits is standing in your way of reaching your goals? 

Which new, healthy habits will allow you to make the changes you would like to see?

 

2. Start small

Research shows that it is beneficial and effective to start small if we want to be successful at long term behaviour changes. It is indeed necessary to start with small steps which will require as less willpower as possible and is relatively easy and painless for you. Many of us are under the misconception that people who are able to achieve their goals and sustain healthy habits have much more willpower than they have. But this could not be further from the truth. It is not willpower but the small, incremental changes that we make every single day leading to small regular improvements counts in the long run.  

It is the same for you- whether you would like to lose weight, build a new business, write a book or anything else for that matter. Indeed, small changes made over long periods of time (think 2, 5, 10 or 20 years) have a compounding effect and have a huge impact and the same is equally true for bad habits

So as you read this, ask yourself, What is that one small step that you will take today, tomorrow and every single day after that will help you move towards a goal that you have set for yourself?

Some examples of this are “working out 3 times a week for 30 min”, “going for a walk even if for 15 minutes every day”, “having healthy meals every day”

3. Build new habits by stacking them on habits that you already have

It is much easier for us to stick to new habits when we connect them to a habit that we already have. This idea is called habit stacking. As human beings, we all decide what to do next based on what we did just finished doing. Habit stacking simply takes allows you to take advantage of this aspect of human behaviour. 

In real life it could look like this. You could incorporate a routine of stillness or meditation in the morning by saying “ I am going to sit down for 10 min in silence every day after I have finished brushing my teeth”. By linking it to a current habit that is already well engrained in your life, you make it easier to incorporate and sustain new habit.

Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work

-Stephen King

4. Design your habits for success

The quote from Stephen King is one of my favourites. It means that we do NOT leave it to chance to see if we can stick to a new habit. On the contrary, we design our environment to set us up for success by leaving obvious visual cues and drawing our attention to certain habits.

In my own life, I incorporated a new habit of oil pulling (the process of cleansing your mouth with cold pressed coconut oil for dental health and hygiene) by simply keeping a small bottle of coconut oil right next to my toothbrush and toothpaste in the bathroom. By having visual cues like this in your surroundings you can dramatically increase the chances of sustaining a new habit. Indeed, many people I know leave their workout clothes and shoes right next to their bed so that they can see them when they get up in the morning.

Ask yourself this question- What is a visual cue that you can use as a trigger to remind you of new habit that you would like to sustain in your life?

5. “Celebrate the small wins”

And last but not the least, ensure that you take out time to celebrate the progress that you are making on a regular basis. We are often so focused on our goals and the end result that we forget to take the time to celebrate what we have achieved irrespective of how big or small it may be. Many of the changes that we are seeking will take time and it is important to find some way to measure and celebrate our progress to keep us going.

One easy way of doing this is to get an empty glass jar and deposit a single bean (or any other small item like a pebble, dried peas etc) every time you take an action and/or complete a task you had set out to do to. This makes your progress visual and gives you the impetus to keep you going. Indeed, I use a variation of this in my coaching practice by asking my clients before each and every session this question

“What are you celebrating this week?”

In the end, the objective of setting goals and working on healthy habits is NOT to change ourselves or "fix" ourselves. It is simply to remove the obstacles that stand in our way of reaching our true potential and fulfil our dreams. You will find that as you change the way (or the system) you move towards your goals and not just the goals themselves, you start seeing results that are long lasting and meaningful.

(My next post will cover this aspect in more details; watch out for it next week!)

What you need to know to help you take lasting action in the new year (and a list of books/podcast/videos)

Reading Time: 4 minutes

As I sat down to write the second last post of this year I started thinking about the expectation and hope that we have from what life has to offer us in the new year.

However, what also bothered me was this.

Why is it that...

there are so many people who make promises to themselves at the very beginning of the year with the best of intentions but are rarely able to fulfil them?

some people struggle so much to take action while others keep moving forward and leave them far behind?

In the end, I decided to write 2 posts on this topic as we head into the new year. The first one is all about taking action while the second one is about motivating yourself to make changes in your life and then learn ways to sustain them. 
(I have shared with you some resources like podcasts, youtube videos and books at the end that covers topics like taking action, accepting responsibility and self motivation)
What is that stops so many us from taking steps to move towards our goals?
To create something that we love?
To move forward?
To become better at what we do and reach our goals?

The voice in our head

The thing to remember here is that ALL of us struggle with self doubt and procrastinate from time to time. It becomes a problem only when it stops us from taking action and producing the results that we want in life. We are often unaware of the voice in our heads (our thoughts) which can discourage us and stop us from taking action. In fact, if we are not aware of its presence, we end up believing many of the negative stories that it tells us.  

 

Have you ever said to yourself?

“I dont have the time”

“I am too busy”

 “It would take too much time” 

 “It’s all their fault”

 “The time is’nt right”

I certainly have! Many times as a matter of fact and I still do from time to time. The good news is that I have become better and better at catching these thoughts and becoming aware of the stories I tell myself. As a result, I have been able to make decisions and take action steps which are intentional and fruitful. 

Stuck in passive action 

Many of us can get stuck in the passive action phase and never be able to move forward. While it is certainly important to gather information before starting anything whether it is through courses, classes and qualifications like degrees, we need to be able to apply it in our lives. It is indeed very difficult to produce any worthwhile results without taking any risks and/or dealing with failure and discomfort.
In other words, by getting stuck in the passive action phase, we can become unable to "produce" any tangible results. This has a bearing on both our personal and professional lives. We remain stuck in painful relationships, jobs and situations which no longer serve us. And rather than putting in the effort to take action steps to make some much needed changes in our lives, we choose to stay put. 
Knowing your mind

Too often we allow negative (instead of positive) emotions to drive our need to do something. A classic example is that of people who try to lose weight by starving and depriving themselves of proper nutrition; this is not sustainable in the long run and usually backfires in terms of health outcomes. 

At the end of the day, we need to be really clear about what we actually want to produce before we start working on something and know what it will look like. If you are cooking something for the first time and not sure about what it is you are cooking or what it will look like, it becomes much more difficult for you to do so, isn’t it?

Taking responsibility for our life

Many people believe that life happens "to" them and much of what happens is beyond their control. They give up even before they try anything out properly since they believe there is not much they can do about changing the outcome. In fact, this limiting belief is very commonly used to justify why someone is unable to take any action. As a result, many remain stuck in the same painful relationship/life situation/ work for years unable to move forward. They are simply unaware that they are in control of their own response to a situation and have the power to choose one thought over another. 

They simply allow their feelings, emotions, circumstances and other people’s agenda to determine their own course of action and as a result their entire life. As a result, inspite having the best of intentions, they end up NOT focussing on the very things that matter to them or bring meaning to their life. 

Infact I have written an entire post about this topic and you can read it HERE.

Imperfect action is better than perfect inaction

And last but not the least, very often we get stuck on taking action only when we are certain of getting “perfect” results. Our fear of failure holds us back. As a result, we do not even try to produce the results we want or give up easily if it is too hard. We forget that is is only time and repeated action through practice which helps us to develop the skills required to produce results at the highest level. 

I leave you with some amazing resources which have changed the way I think about this topic and inspired me to take action no matter how hard it seems. This is a collection of podcasts, books and videos which have truly enriched my life.

These 5 books will help you realign with yourself

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Reading is a practice that contributes immensely to our mental, emotional wellbeing both of which are intricately connected to our physical health. However, there are too many of us who are not taking advantage of this amazing source of information and collective wisdom. In this post, I have encapsulated a collection of books that have personally contributed tremendously to my own personal growth and wellbeing especially in terms of bringing clarity to what gives my life meaning and what is important to me.

Those who know me well know that I am a voracious reader. I truly believe that reading is an extremely effective way of gaining insight into other people's experiences and wisdom. We can be inspired and motivated by others who have led a rich and meaningful life on their own terms. This post, in particular, is about books which will help you to realign with yourself and your purpose. With that, given below are five books that you can pick up today that will change your life in one way or the other.

(This is the first in a series of posts that I will be writing every month or so on books and resources that you will likely benefit from)

The Power of Meaning by Emily Esfahani Smith

This book is a powerful guide to finding meaning in our lives. It gives a different perspective on what we know about happiness. Social scientists are now proving what philosophers have known all along; that the pursuit of happiness actually makes people unhappy. Emily Esfahani Smith identifies four pillars upon which meaning rests: Belonging, Purpose, Storytelling and Transcendence.

In this book, the author gives an insight into what determines a life lived purposefully. She stresses on the fact each of us has different strengths, abilities, insights and talents and we will need to be aware of these and have knowledge about ourselves to live a life filled with purpose. She goes on to show that those of us who have a purpose in life, contribute towards the goal that we set for ourselves, ultimately lead lives which are more satisfying and meaningful. A must read for anyone who is looking to find ways to incorporate purpose, belonging as well as happiness in their lives. The Power of Meaning  by Emily Esfahani Smith (October 2017)

 

 

Essentialism by Greg McKeown

This book is one of the books that I tend to read again and again. This is the book which first brought awareness to the fact that rather than focussing on how we can do more and more, we need to focus on doing the right things. So rather than trying to fit everything in our to-do list and our life and suffering from overwhelm, overscheduling and stress we can learn how to say "no" to things that are not important and start focussing on the right things.

In this book, the author writes about the staggering choices that we are forced to confront on a daily basis which keep us stuck as we battle decision fatigue. The information overload in the digital age and the myth that "you can have it all"  is contributing to the stress in our modern life. As an alternative, the author shows us ways to apply more selective criteria to understand what is truly Essential and saying "no" to what is not.

Personally, this book has helped me to revaluate the decisions that I make on a daily basis and helped me to focus on what is really important in my life. This book will help you to discover your priorities and provide you with a template to "do less, but better." Essentialism by Greg McKeown (April 2014)

 

 

The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying by Bronnie Ware

This book was initially written as a blog post by a palliative nurse taking care of terminally ill patients. After working with such patients her life was transformed. She wrote about it in a blog post which encapsulated the most common regrets of those whom she had cared for at the very end of their lives. This struck a chord with people all over the world and it was read by over three million people.

This encouraged her to write her own personal story as well as the top five regrets of those at the end of their lives. At the end of the day, this book is not so much about dying but about how to actually live a life with peace, clarity and purpose. Read this book to gain an insight into finding out what truly matters to you, what you want from life and how to garner the courage to walk your own path.

This book has brought immense clarity to my own life and has taught me just how precious my life truly is. While the writing style may be a bit difficult for some of you, do continue with this book and read it to gain an insight into how you can live a life that is well lived and worthwhile. The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying by Bronnie Ware (May 2017)

 

 

Mindset by Carol Dweck

This book is written by a professor of psychology at Stanford University and is the book on "growth mindset". The author and her colleagues did a groundbreaking experiment with a group of students which showed that contrary to popular belief, their mindset played a key role in their achievements and motivation levels. They also found that by changing their mindset they were actually able to improve the outcomes.

This research showed the way in terms of how success in school, work, arts, sports and many other areas in life can be dramatically influenced by how we think about our skills and abilities. This book can help us to change the way we think about failure, foster resiliency and transform our life.

This book has helped me to change the way I think about effort, failure and my own abilities. I have been able to apply these principles in different areas of my life including parenting, work, business and relationships and have seen firsthand it's transformative power.

Read this book to learn more about "fixed" vs "growth" mindset and how you can work on your own mindset and build the right mindset in children in particular.  Mindset by Carol Dweck (January 2017)

 

Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life by Hector Garcia and Fransesc Miralles

Ikigai is a word that is used to describe our reason for "being." I came across the word"Ikigai" a couple of years back and it has stayed with me ever since. It is a Japanese word/concept which means "a reason for being" and has a profound effect on longevity and the quality of life.

Our Ikigai may be different for each of us, but we are all searching for something that gives meaning to our life. Knowing that what we are doing with our life is at the intersection of our values, our passion and contribution to society give us the strength and the conviction to carry on even during difficult and uncertain times.

I am truly blessed to be one those fortunate few who is in the centre of this convergence in my own life and I urge you to make an effort to work towards your own beautiful whole. Read this book to find begin your search for and discover your own "Ikigai". Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life by Hector Garcia and Fransesc Millares (September 2017)

 

These are the 5 books that I would like to leave you with at this time. I will be sharing such books and resources on various topics which will contribute either directly or indirectly to your health and wellbeing. Books are a major part of my life and help me to learn and grow in more ways than I can count. I hope that you will take advantage of what I have shared and give yourself the "gift" of reading.

As someone had said wisely..

A book is a gift you can open again and again

Celebrating your unique self

Reading Time: 6 minutes

For the past several weeks I have been writing on the topics of self worth and self compassion. I have touched upon various facets of our lives that contribute to our sense of self worth and self compassion which include topics like resiliency, self acceptance, choosing yourself.  (You can read them HERE)

In the last post in this series, I want to celebrate all that makes you, well, YOU!

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” 

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

We often tend to overlook aspects of our lives that make each and every one of us unique and worth celebrating. We often focus too much on our shortcomings and all the things that we need to work on and improve about ourselves. As someone who believes in self growth and that we need to be constantly moving forward, I need to be careful not to ignore what is already working well in my life.

I know that self development on a consistent basis is the key to improve different aspects of my personal and professional life. However, I have also realised that there is often a hidden danger in this. If I only look at all the things that need improvement in my life, I can very easily overlook all that I have achieved and the person that I have become over the years. I try and avoid this pitfall by using my strength of gratitude as a way of appreciating all that I have and by fostering self acceptance towards myself to keep my self worth intact. However, this is something that I need to constantly work on, it does not come naturally to me.

As you think about what I have written above, ask yourself these questions-

What makes you unique?

What makes you stand apart from others?

And in what ways are you "whole" today? 

One of the pitfalls of working on ourselves to improve our situation and moving towards the peace and happiness that we are searching for is that we can end up becoming fixated on the notion that we are somehow "broken". A feeling of inadequacy can creep in unknowingly as we look to self help offerings to "fix ourselves". Also, we can even up missing out on the happiness and fulfilment that is in right in front of us at this moment as we embark on a self improvement journey.

So today, do not look for all your flaws and your perceived imperfections. Instead, take out some time and see if you can

STOP...

seeking approval from others in order to feel valued and see if you can find ways to give yourself what you are seeking from others

comparing yourself with other people and start living life on your own terms

competing against yourself and instead, look for and embrace your strengths AND your flaws

We spend most of our lives trying to fit in, moulding ourselves in the space that is available to us.  Girls (even more so than boys) are conditioned to do this right from the start and this becomes a way of life. Later, as women, we learn how to say the right things, in the right manner and at the right time. We learn how to modify our behaviour to please others and keep the peace. With time, many women start to lose their identity and often reach a point in their lives when they no longer know who they really are or what they stand for.

I see this often with my coaching clients (who are mostly women in their mid-thirties to early fifties) who are struggling to give themselves the time and effort that they need to work on their health issues. As a part of working together to reclaim their health, we peel back the layers gently one by one so that their true self is revealed and they can connect once again with the innermost part of themselves. They realise that in order to heal, they need to treat themselves with dignity and respect and that they deserve the same love and kindness that they give their families.

Becoming free of disease is NOT the same as being truly healthy. If we are to truly heal ourselves in the true sense of the word, we need to work from the inside out

This means becoming aware of the nature of our thoughts and then working on developing the right mindset to give our bodies what it needs from us to heal. I find that often, this means that at the very least we need to simply stay out of its way. And then as we become more aware we find that we start treating ourselves with the compassion and respect that we deserve. And with time, no longer do we feel like indulging in activities and thoughts that bring out the worst in us or harm us in any way. We start celebrating all the ways that we shine and stand out from others.

More importantly, we start embracing our imperfections and our quirks. The way that we laugh with abandon, our inability to remember names (I definitely struggle with that!), our need to keep everything in perfect order, our tendency to worry or overanalyse- whatever makes us "one of a kind". 

If you struggle to know what makes YOU unique, take out some time and ask yourself these questions

What are the things that I value most in my life? 

What makes me really happy?

What brings a smile to my face just by thinking about it?

Which activities/hobbies do I try to fit in whenever I get the time? 

You may find that as you write down the answers to these questions, you have rediscovered a part of yourself that has long been forgotten. A part of you that helps you to rediscover your passions and sets you on an exhilarating journey of self discovery. A journey that takes you away from a life lived on autopilot to a life lived with intention and meaning.

(You can read my earlier post on related topics of finding your purpose and self acceptance here and here)

This path of self discovery also helps us release old patterns of limiting beliefs and old patterns which are no longer serving us.

WE...

no longer beat ourselves up for making mistakes or feel ashamed by our flaws

embrace our strengths, our weaknesses and all our imperfections

celebrate every small win and understand that failure teaches us a lot more than success ever could

no longer try to become someone we are not in order to fit in with the crowd

we find the strength to present ourselves to the whole world just as we are- imperfect and unique

I hope that this series of posts have made you think and has encouraged you to travel within yourself to look for what you may be seeking from your outer world. And I hope that you realise that you are indeed WORTHY - first and foremost of your own love and kindness.

I get it, this path is not easy. I have travelled the same path that you may be on right now. It has taken me some time and much effort but over time I have learned to embrace all that makes me "different" from others. I am no longer afraid to show up just as I am, my imperfections are there for all to see. I now realise that none of us is broken or damaged- we are exactly who we are meant to be. It is up to us to keep searching for this WHOLENESS, for this will set us free.

As the poet, author and activist Maya Angelou had said so beautifully

“You only are free when you realize you belong no place — you belong every place — no place at all. The price is high.”

~Maya Angelou