Category: Positively Positive

Write Yourself Down

Do you know who you are?

Like really know.

And do you show that real self to others

So much so that everyone would feel like they knew you forever.

Realer than the chairs, the tables, the roads.

More real than anything else real. 

I have been asking myself lately if I know who I am.

And not the kind of question that leads to the purpose of my life. None of that.

Just the basic aspect of the question.

Who am I. 

Beyond the kind of food I like to eat.

Beyond what my family and friends think of me.

Beyond the filters of prejudice from preconceived notions, stereotypes.

If I was to sit down right here and write all the things that I am, will you do the same?

Will you just sit down and write yourself on paper? 

I mean the real truth of you.

And then would you take that paper and make it real, as real as the table it is resting on.

As real as the DNA of you?

When you write yourself down, look for the details of you. 

I will do the same. So here goes nothing.

I am a good person.

I love to hear people’s stories.

What troubles them. What wins them over.

What impossible things they have done.

The unthinkable things they had to endure too.

I don’t want to die even if it means that I will be reborn. 

I want to travel all around Earth.

Stand on the Moon.

See the Milky Way up close.

I love to paint. So much it hurts not to.

I love my children as if I had already loved them before this life.

I grieve the people I love even when they are alive.

I just grieve the day I may lose them.

I started writing because of the strange grief thoughts in my head. 

I wrote so I would not lose my mind.

I think I am funny. I love karaoke. Even though I am a terrible singer.

I never lie. I don’t like people who do.

I am quirky. For better or worse.

I wish I had realized it sooner, everything would have made a lot more sense.

I don’t like to shop.

I wish I only needed two pairs of jeans and a couple of t-shirts.

I love short hair.

I am a small person inside my head.

I don’t think about my age much.

I will write and paint my way to the last day of my life.

I have not enjoyed the public aspects of my work.

That surprised the heck out of me.

The longer I am on this journey the more I enjoy giving it all away. All of it.

Inside my head, I live outside of time.

As if I am not here. Even though I know I am.

I feel free. Maybe for the first time.

To live the life of my choosing.

And that is the hardest thing I will ever have to do.

Aside from saying goodbye to the people I have loved.

Now it’s your turn. 

Write yourself down. 

Remember who you are. 

With me, myself, and I


Christina Rasmussen is the creator and founder of The Life Reentry Institute, Second Firsts, and Star Letters, and the host of the Dear Life Podcast. Christina is on a crusade to help millions of people rebuild, reclaim, and relaunch their lives using the power of their own minds. Christina’s work has been featured on ABC News, NPR, The White House Blog, and She is the bestselling author of Second Firsts: Live, Laugh, and Love Again, which has also been translated in Chinese and German and just released her second book Where Did You Go on expanding the mind in ways that allows co-creation with the forces of the universe. She is also writing her first work of fiction: a science fiction story about a woman on a quest to start over and begin a new life. You can find more information on her website and follow her on FB or Twitter.

Image courtesy of RODNAE productions.

3 Ways to Break Out of a Motivation Slump

Ever have one of those days where you just stare at a screen, give up, and then waste away your time on mindless internet drivel?

Me too. I’ve had several days like that, sometimes strung together as if I’m reliving the same crappy movie over and over.

It’s understandable if this happens to you. The world has seen its share of chaos and nonsense this past year, and good luck trying to disconnect from it all. It reminds me of Nike’s old slogan, Just do it — easy to preach but hard to follow.

Still, we have bills to pay and dreams to pursue. Let’s not forget about our sanity, which seems to whither as we lose ourselves to an existence of constant distraction and low-grade anxiety. To be our best, to be ourselves, we need a sense of purpose. To fulfill that purpose, we must first motivate ourselves to take action.

But what do you do when you’re not feeling motivated? You can fake it, sure, but that’ll exhaust you before you see any real gains.

Productivity hacks? You already know those don’t work. Any trick that pits you against your natural inertia will fail. Like pushing a boulder uphill, you’ll run out of steam in short order.

You don’t need hacks when you’re mentally engaged. Nor do you need to psyche yourself up. You merely need to set the right conditions so that motivation develops organically.

These three strategies have proven most useful to me during times where focus, drive, and action have taken a back seat to inertia.

Create the two conditions for urgency

Remember those days in school where your teacher gave you a week to write a term paper? You’d dawdle for six days, procrastinate, and then pull an all-nighter to get it done on time.

The urgency of a deadline and the consequences of a failing grade pushed you into high gear.

A deadline and negative consequences comprise the two essential components of urgency — the most effective way to motivate yourself. The hand-wringing sense of urgency compels us to tune out the noise and zero in on what’s most important.

An arbitrary deadline by itself won’t create that feeling. If you’ve tried it, you know what I mean. Without a penalty, the threat of a deadline does nothing to spur you to action. Contrast that with a boss who gives you an assignment and says, “Complete this by Friday or you’re fired.”

That’s a consequence with teeth. No matter how boring or pointless the assignment, you’ll motivate yourself to get it done because you want to keep your paycheck.

Since we often lack real consequences for not doing our work, we need to manufacture a penalty. That’s harder than it sounds. I’ve tried accountability partners but never achieved sustained success.

My personal favorite strategy involves giving to a charity I despise if I don’t meet my deadline. There are companies set up to help you do this. Check out the website Stickk. You make a commitment and put money on the line by pledging it to a charity you hate (anti-charity) if you fail to achieve your objective.


Focus on micro-goals

Motivation often wanes when our goals overwhelm us. We check out and seek an escape route through mindless distractions or creative excuses to justify why we quit.

To counteract overwhelm, create micro-goals — an objective you can complete in thirty minutes or less.

When I sit down to write and find myself in a daze, I focus on these super short-term objectives to get myself in a groove. Here are some examples:

  • Write 67 words in the next 12 minutes.
  • Generate three business ideas that don’t include any of the following words: thing, stuff, product, app.

Notice how I stay away from round numbers in the first example. For the second one, I gave myself a constraint. Constraints force you to focus by narrowing the range of possibilities. It’s the single best mental shortcut to enhance your creativity and concentration.

Micro-goals work because they’re quick, engaging, and unusual. Those short bursts of activity often gin up enough motivation to get you into the flow of an activity. To make them work for you, follow these rules:

  • Create urgency by limiting the time limit to 30 minutes.
  • Keep them interesting with unusual targets.
  • Make them challenging by giving yourself a constraint.

Surround yourself with step-up peers

A step-up peer is someone with similar goals as you but slightly above you in skill and accomplishments.

If you’re an up-and-coming artist and you’re comparing yourself to an established celebrity, you’ll likely find yourself discouraged at the long hill you need to climb to reach your goal. That kind of discouragement can stifle your motivation.

But if you focus on a peer, someone just a step ahead of you on the path to success, you’ll find it rouses your ambition because you see their accomplishments as a target you can realistically achieve.

It also sparks your competitive drive when you picture your step-up peers as a pack of runners in a close race. Imagine yourself in second place, trailing by a half-step with a few hundred yards to go. With victory in reach, you’ll find that extra burst of energy to catch up. Compare that to a race where you’re dead last fifty feet from the finish line.

It takes careful planning to create this sort of group, but when done right, it proves beneficial for all involved as you keep motivating each other to push ahead.

All you need to know

For a lucky few, motivation comes naturally. For everyone else, there’s no need to buy into absurd productivity hacks that yield marginal results at best.

No matter how easily distracted or constrained by apathy, these three techniques allow anyone to motivate themselves into a productive state.

  • Create urgency by setting a deadline with consequences
  • Focus on micro-goals
  • Surround yourself with step-up peers

Barry Davret writes about life, relationships, and lessons on growing older. His words are in Forge by Medium, Elemental by Medium, Business Insider, and more.

Image courtesy of Andrea Piacquadio.

Are You Being Emotionally Manipulated?

Everybody is manipulative to some degree.

We use manipulation or influence because we are social beings. But for some people, like narcissists, manipulation is a way of living.

Say there’s a friend in your social circle who is singling you out, treating you differently than they treat the others. They apparently like everything you say or do. Are they trying to love bomb you? Or are they just awkward and enthusiastic?

You can drive yourself crazy trying to figure out what their true intentions are.

Self-reflection is more productive than endlessly analyzing another person’s behavior. If someone is manipulating you, that causes changes in your life. Let’s talk about some of them.

1. Extreme highs, extreme lows.

One of the best ways to identify a manipulator is that everything about them is intense.

Compared to other people you hang out with, manipulators have a strong impact on your mood. It’s not always a negative impact. In fact, you may start thinking they’re the only person in the world who can cheer you up.

But you can’t trust them to do that consistently. They can make you feel on top of your game — and then tear you down a few minutes later. There’s never a comfortable middle ground when you’re around them.

2. Easy, small decisions turn into a battlefield.

Another telltale sign is preemptive exhaustion. You realize you’re going to be meeting up with them, and you sigh, feeling drained in advance.

Things get really tiring really fast if you disagree with a manipulative person, so it’s easier to just let them have their way. Some manipulators get a thrill out of something as simple as convincing you to order a meal you don’t like. And all their little victories add up to make you feel tired of life.

Note that they don’t always pick fights. Some of them prefer to discuss everything in detail, claiming to look for “the most rational solution”, and they maintain a steady tone throughout. If you get irritated or bored, you feel like the flaw lies with you. Who doesn’t like rationality?

3. You feel guilty all the time.

Guilt is a corrosive force, and manipulators are great at using it to their advantage. They gradually change the way you view yourself, little mistakes you make start feeling like huge personality flaws. Any disagreement becomes proof of your callousness or lack of care.

Not that the manipulator is likely to say so outright — they’ll just insinuate that something is wrong with your taste, your judgment, your friends, your ability to resolve conflicts, and so on.

People with high levels of empathy are easily manipulated. If you want to be kind and reach a compromise, you’ll get browbeaten into agreeing with the manipulator.

4. You think you’re insane, oversensitive, or “too tired to think straight”.

The internet likes to overuse the concept of gaslighting. It’s not about two people having different perspectives on a topic, and it means more than just a lie.

Gaslighting is meant to make you think you’re irrational. If it goes on long enough, you give up: you end up agreeing that the other person knows best.

But it often starts with little things. A manipulator may tell you you’re misremembering something you’ve experienced, or they talk about how forgetful you are. Or maybe it’s your judgment that they like to question. For example, they’ll imply that you don’t understand social situations, that you’re too naive or too cynical.

This may be veiled in a joke or an expression of concern. It’s the first step of a long process that is meant to destabilize your sense of self.

5. You keep second-guessing everything you do.

This is a gentler version of the above.

You don’t necessarily think there’s something fundamentally wrong with you. It just takes you longer than usual to make decisions. You often wonder if you should have done something differently.

This kind of indecisiveness can be the result of various factors — exhaustion, depression, bad past experiences, lack of sleep, and so on. But sometimes, the root cause is that someone is messing with your mind.

Personally, the worst manipulation I’ve been subjected to happened in the form of compliments. The manipulator flattered my ego, made me feel like I was inherently better than the others. At the same time, the seeds of doubt were there. I wanted to live up to this glossy image of me, but I knew it was fake. I gradually became self-conscious, and every decision became agonizing.

The red flags aren’t very subtle, but the thing is…

… manipulators are much harder to spot if they’re close to you.

If you notice bad behavior in a family member or partner, you may think “eh, that’s just how they are”. You can’t see any changes in yourself because they sank their claws into you a long time ago.

But as hard as it is, it’s always useful to look at your relationships with an objective eye. Is there someone in your life who is making you feel tired, guilty, anxious, or like you’re not good enough? If so, it might be time to take your distance.

Eric Sangerma is an entrepreneur, founder of and and co-host of The Wholistique Show which explores how to reach peak personal and professional performance while living a minimal and balanced life. Follow him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Image courtesy of Kindel Media.

We Are Broken but We Are Valued

A Rabbi tells the story of a motivational speaker who started off by holding up a crisp new $20 bill. “Who wants this?” he asked. And just about every hand in the room shot up. “I’m going to give this $20 to one of you,” he said. “But first, I’m going to do this.” And he crumpled up the bill. “Who wants it now?” he asked. The hands stayed up. “Really?” he said. “Well what if I do this?” and he dropped the bill on the floor and began to stomp on it. Then he paused and picked up the bill and held it up, crumpled and dirty. “Who wants it now?” he demanded. And all the hands went back up.

“My friends,” he said “you’ve learned a valuable lesson. When I started the bill was worth $20. And no matter what I did to it, you still wanted it. Because no matter what happened to that bill, it did not lose its value.”

“Many times,” he went on, “we are that bill. We are crushed, we are crumbled. We are dropped to the ground into the dirt as if we are worthless. Bad decisions or hapless circumstances make us feel as if we have no value. But never forget, no matter what has happened to you, you will always have value.

There are many versions of the crumpled dollar story out there. Says the Rabbi, “We are valued, we are valuable, no matter what. We are each of us already deserving. We may be crumpled but we never lose our intrinsic worth.

We are all broken. Not always in the most dramatic ways. We have all experienced brokenness, loss and pain. Sometimes we are overwhelmed and feel crumpled and worthless. Even all alone. But human value is innate in us. When we are lost and alone, when we are certain that no one knows us or loves us; when-crumpled and torn we doubt our own value: there is a path. The Psalmist, who knows well the pain of life, tells us about the Holy One who knows us.

“He heals the broken hearted, and binds up their wounds.”

Says the Rabbi, “No matter how crumpled and crushed we are, so long as the breath of life is within us, we can give thanks for life. And from that place of gratitude, we can feel a Divine Presence supporting us. Sometimes, even in our pain, our spirits can soar because we have value.”

May we have the patience to still the voice of our own despair. May we have the courage to reach out to Holiness and begin to feel whole again. May God’s embrace remind us that no matter how we are crumpled, we are still valued.

Rabbi Hirshel Jaffe, a cancer survivor, is a motivational/inspirational speaker on the theme NEVER GIVE UP! He authored “Why Me? Why Anyone?” which chronicles his rescue from leukemia and his spiritual triumph over despair. Known as “The Running Rabbi” for competing in the NY Marathon, he received the “Award of Courage” from President Ronald Reagan in a White House ceremony. Rabbi Jaffe was one of the clergy who visited the American hostages in Iran to offer them comfort and hope and was asked by the President to greet them at the White House upon their return. He received an honorary Doctorate from his seminary for “his work with the sick, and his noble influence upon all people. You can find more information on his website.

Image courtesy of Juliano Astc.

How Does Fear Influence Your Behavior?

Fear is inevitable.

But if I’ve learned anything about fear, it’s that preparedness, healing, and practicing how I respond in advance are key to my success.

Before we dive in, and because I’m committed to you getting the greatest value out of our time together, let’s first define success and why you might be here.


Deathbed regrets are ridden with questions like, “Did I make a big enough difference?”

Therefore, understanding and managing the role of fear is paramount to you accessing greater confidence and un-regrettably, quite literally making a positive difference in the world.

Now, let’s dive in.

There is no guarantee of success.

This creates great fear around taking action. How do you move through it?

Below are five methods that work for me.


Do you…

Fight fear. This looks like aggression, violence or chasing after something.

Run away from fear. This looks like physically running away or drinking, or working too much.

Or do you just freeze and do nothing? This looks like procrastination or stopping dead in your tracks.

Fighting, fleeing, or freezing are known as F3 responses, unplanned biological responses to a perceived threat.

You may not be able to stop the F3 response, but you can recognize and minimize the impact.


“Fear […] triggers a strong physical reaction in your body. […] Stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline are released. Your blood pressure and heart rate increase. You start breathing faster.

Even your blood flow changes — blood actually flows away from your heart and into your limbs, making it easier for you to start throwing punches, or run for your life. Your body is preparing for fight-or-flight.”



“As some parts of your brain are revving up, others are shutting down. […] now it’s difficult to make good decisions or think clearly.” — NORTHWESTERN MEDICINE

Accepting that fear arises is wisdom, not weakness.


What are you scared of?

What triggers you?

Who always gets under your skin and gets your heart racing?

Make note of this.

Understanding the nature of what aggravates your F3 response is key to healing it or managing it.


In The Biology of Fear, a 2013 research study conducted by Ralph Adolphs, a Stanford Graduate and Bren Professor of Psychology, Neuroscience, and Biology at Caltech, Adolphs illuminates that fear has many faces.

“A variety of evidence supports a view [that] there are types of fear. ” — ADOLPHS, THE BIOLOGY OF FEAR

The most common distinctions are fear, panic, and anxiety.

If you’re someone who suffers from panic or anxiety, it’s worth reviewing your diet. If you experienced chronic stress, emotional betrayal, or suffer from possible PTSD, it’s imperative to acknowledge.


It’s an over-exaggerated response by the body indicating an imbalance. It isn’t ideal to attempt to manage this long term. It’s meant to be healed.

Anxiety and PTSD are both biological and psychological pointing to physical changes in the brain’s structure.

“Don’t beat yourself up if you want to make a difference and run into roadblocks of panic, anxiety, or PTSD. Instead, look into healing this. Management is a short-term solution.” — LALITA GABRIELLA BALLESTEROS


Once you know your baseline F3 response, and how you naturally respond in stressful situations, you can begin to manage these responses.

To do this, you need to understand the delta between how you want to show up and your current reactions. Then, you prepare. Over-prepare. Practice the new way of being and rehearse all outcomes.


One, when your F3 response kicks in, you have a rehearsed response plan you can fall back on. Two, you’re more confident because you’ve watched yourself succeed in the face of that which scares you.


You cannot control what other people do. This can be heartbreaking when you think other people are standing in the way of real change. Still, the fact remains, other people, make their own choices.

Focus on yourself.

Focus on who you can be and what you can create.

The rest is up to the powers that be. If you do not accept this fact, it will impair your ability to healthily make a difference long-term. Burnout, resentment, insanity, and failure are more likely outcomes.

Share this with a friend in need.

Go make a difference, for the better.


Lalita Ballesteros is a speaker, comedian, director, and the founder of Haus of Lala, a creative agency specializing in personal branding. She stands by the belief that your voice matters and that authentic self-expression is our most important work. In the past, Lalita’s disrupted the publishing industry with Seth Godin and The Domino Project (powered by Amazon) creating six best-sellers and raising over a quarter million in revenue in only four months. She also worked at the American Embassy in Rome, created a 6-figure Airbnb business, and oversaw ambassador efforts at Lyft. She speaks three languages and is a regular contributor for Positively Positive, a publication with over 2.5 million followers on Facebook. Lalita’s been seen on the stages of TEDx and Comedy Bary as well as in the pages of Fast Company, Etsy, Forbes, Yahoo Small Business, Mashable, and the best-selling book End Malaria. She currently lives in Toronto with her dog, Luna. Follow her writings and comedy here and #100daysofcomedy here.

Image courtesy of Andrea Piacquadio.

Making Wise Choices: Cultivate Your Wisdom Council

You make choices every day. Every choice we make – big or small – affects the shape of our lives and the reality we live. But most of us were not taught how to make wise decisions.

We’ve been taught to be logical, and practical, but decisions about your life made from only the intellect often lead you to creating realties that limit you, burn you out, keep you from what you truly desire.

In changing, intense times like we live in, where we are each making choices – in our career, relationships, business, money and health – you cannot just rely on your intellect or what the mainstream world is telling you to make courageous and wise choices.

Many of the choices I see women being faced with right now are also causing us to have to stretch outside our comfort zones … which can create feelings of fear and doubt… confusion and procrastination… and stress!

If you want to make choices that lead to a reality that supports you vs sacrifices you, you have to access both your heart wisdom and intuitive power first … have the inner skill to work with your own fear and confusion to find clarity… and then have the courage to make choices that will often look differently than others. And for this you need super powers, truly.

Which is why I decided to create this three part series on Feminine Power Time for you “Making Wise Choices”.

This first episode is focused on one of the super power tools I believe is essential … but most people lack. It’s called “Cultivating Your Wisdom Council” — without this I don’t think it is possible to stay focused on what matters, and make truly wise choices.

So tune in … I taped this on location in Northern California at the home of one of my soul sisters on my Wise Woman Council, during a weekend in which I came to visit three of the members of my council to help me make some big choices about my business and organization, and the shape of the reality those choices would create.

What I will share today is:

  • Why you want to make WISE CHOICES vs. smart choices.
  • What is a wisdom council, and why do you want to make sure you have one?
  • How to create your own Wisdom Council.
  • Who to have in your council and who not to.
  • How to ask for the support and clarity you need so you get wisdom not advice.I also have two daring acts for you to put this into place in your life now.

Bring the choices and challenges you are facing … and let’s get you set up to have the support you need to stay clear and stay connected to what is true for you.

See you next week!
Much love,



* Subscribe on ITUNES – here

* Download from Stitcher – here

* Listen Spotify – here 

Christine Arylo, MBA, is the author of Overwhelmed and Over It. As a transformational leadership advisor, three-time bestselling author, and host of the popular Feminine Power Time podcast, she is recognized worldwide for her work helping women to make shift happen — in the lives they lead, the work they do, and the world they wish to create. Arylo offers trainings, retreats and workshops globally. Visit her online at or tune into her podcast Connect more with Christine and her community at

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The Scientific “Compliment Formula” Can Help You Make New Friends

I didn’t realize it at the time, but I accidentally used this strategy to make my first friend overseas. I arrived friendless and alone on the shores of England for my first year of college. I knew I needed to find friends fast.

Even though I was anxious about meeting new people — how could I impress them? Didn’t all British people hate Americans? — I was lonely enough that I would do anything to make a friend.

So when I met Hannah for the first time, I knew I wanted her to be my friend. She was cool, genuine, quirky. She was also intimidating. But still, I hatched my plot to befriend her. I would use the technique that always worked on me.

One day at lectures, I sat next to her and waited for the right moment. She raised her hand to answer a tricky question from the professor. I sprung my friendship trap.

“Hannah, your bravery is so impressive!” I said. “I never would have put my hand up for a question like that.”

“I know! I was scared of getting it right. But I’m trying to put myself out there more,” Hannah replied. And just like that, we started talking. We had coffee together in between classes, and later, she invited me to a house party of a friend of hers. Eight years later, we’re still great friends and talk practically every day even though we live 4,000 miles apart.

Subconsciously, I’d used what researchers call the “compliment formula” to make my first friend.

Science shows compliments create friends.

How come compliments are so good at making friends? Neurologically speaking, research from Izuma et al, receiving a compliment activates the same receptors in your brain as when you earn money. You’re literally being paid a compliment. It feels amazing.

But part of the power of compliments is that they’re extremely formulaic. Wolfson & Maines wrote in their 1980 paper that despite the virtually unlimited number of possible word combinations that could be used to construct a compliment, English speakers default to a very few options, mostly focusing on a single one:

You go with a noun phrase (you, your hair), stick on a verb, add an optional adverb like really or super, and then end with a positive adjective like good or great.

They hypothesized that the advantage of using a “compliment formula” rather than something more unique is because compliments play a pivotal role in society. They lubricate so many of our conversations and interactions that they should be instantly parseable as a compliment. In their words, the formula “prevents misunderstanding and minimizes differences which might interfere with the solidarity-creating function of compliments…[but]…it must be interpreted as sincere and spontaneous.”

This lets us give compliments that we know will be understood as compliments, but without making them any less genuine or honest. Compliments like that can be used to build a friendship based on mutual goodwill between compliment-giver and recipient.

It certainly did so for me and Hannah.

Here’s how to drop a friendship-boosting compliment today.

Anyone can use this formula — in fact, you probably already have without even realizing it. That’s the beauty of the formula. It’s subtle but effective.

Once you know about it, you can easily deploy it when you need it most. I’ve used it when meeting new people I want to like me, escalating acquaintances to the friendship level, or even at interviews to make a good first impression.

The crucial thing to remember that elevates the compliment formula from a generic, meaningless platitude to a powerful conversational tool is specificity. As licensed clinical social worker and psychotherapist Marcia Naomi Berger explained to Sara DiGiulio at NBC News, “The best compliments refer to specific character traits, behaviors, or appearance.”

Next time you want to use this compliment formula to solidify your next friendship, remember the simplicity of the formula paired with the specificity of the compliment. Compliment something that’s changed recently, like a haircut or a new outfit. You can also comment directly on something that just happened like I did with Hannah when she answered the scary question.

I’ve used this compliment formula consciously and subconsciously my whole life. There’s a reason simple compliments are so powerful — they’re the social lubrication that smoothes out our relationships and interactions. Next time you’re faced with a potential new pal, try out the compliment formula and see how it boosts your friendship to the next level.

Zulie Rane is a reader and a writer who believes in the power to change the world through the written word. You can find her writing on, posting selfies and art on Instagram at @zulierane and tweeting bad puns on Twitter at @zulierane.

Image courtesy of YURI MANEI.

Overcoming the Struggles in My Life


As individuals, we struggle to be seen, to be loved, to be heard, to be confident, to be truthful, to get what we want, to get others to do what we want. The list of things we struggle forabout and with seem almost endless. Many people wake up in the morning with struggle on their minds, live with it all day and go to bed with it at night.

Many of these struggles come to us from our own sense of inadequacy. Sometimes, though, they are planted by the world around us. We struggle with fears about the future because these fears have been planted in us by politicians. We struggle with imperfections in our bodies because the media tells us we don’t look, dress, or smell right. On a daily basis, we are pelted by hundreds of media messages, many of which create a sense of struggle in our minds.

Since struggle by its very definition is a challenge or problem that requires strenuous mental or physical effort to overcome, it is no wonder that people feel bogged down, unable to progress. When that happens it can lead to a struggle over self, in which one asks: Why am I unable to overcome all of the struggles in my life?

These struggles can then lead to exhaustion, self-image problems, depression, addictions, and so on. And eventually, the struggles become so bad you don’t discuss them. The struggle becomes internalized, hidden behind bad habits that protect it and keep it from being tampered with.

Of course, the source of our struggles needs to be tampered with. Without careful tampering, the struggle stays with us always.


No matter what your struggle is about – fear, anger, death, need for status and money, constant desire for love and acceptance, the pain of addiction and shame – the path to personal change begins with conscious effort. Conscious effort goes beyond knowing the source of personal struggle and the knowledge of how to overcome it. Conscious effort is persistence, becoming your own guide, and effort to move in a forward motion.


Persistence and knowledge are not enough to power you up the path to change. Self-love is a necessary element because without it conscious effort is usually too difficult to achieve, and with it, life becomes much easier.

Self-love is about the courage to explore our flaws as honestly as we can and come away with a love of ourselves that allows us to continue to improve with confidence. We all struggle, but no matter what we struggle with, the struggle is first rooted in a lack of love for ourselves.


As a therapist, I have helped patients develop self-love by giving them five tools. Application of these tools lead to greater inner peace and a longer and happier life.

1 – Explore yourself

There are thoughts and feelings inside of us that we don’t feel comfortable examining, which is too bad since those are probably the thoughts and feelings that cause problems and are probably responsible for our lack of self-love. You need to shine that purifying light into those dark places because that’s the only way to get rid of the ghosts. It is through this self-observation that one is able to live free of the emotional obstacles that create self-loathing.

2 – Forgive

Self-exploration can easily result in a list of grievances about yourself and others. Often, a wall of denial rises around many who are confronted with their wrongdoings. Forgiveness of others removes an emotional weight from your back. Satisfaction from forgiving those who have done you wrong has to come from inside you.

3 – Accept yourself

To accept yourself means to accept your imperfections – faults and all – and to quit hanging on to feelings of unworthiness. It is not possible to build happiness with feelings of self-loathing. You have to look inside yourself, accept what you see, and forgive yourself. Change will come next and then healing.


Derek O’Neill, fondly referred to as the Celtic Sage, inspires and uplifts people from all walks of life, offering guidance to influential world leaders, businesses, celebrities, athletes and everyday people alike. Distilled from his life work in psychotherapy, a martial arts career and study with wise yogis and Indian and Tibetan masters, Derek translates ancient wisdom into modern day teachings to address the biggest challenges facing humanity today. For additional insights listen to his free radio archives explore over 20 personal development books including Stop The Struggle, Bullying, Love/Divorce, Grief, Mindfulness, Anxiety, Stress and Depression.

Image courtesy of MART PRODUCTION.

Life Lessons from The Game of Golf

I was 20 when I started to learn golf. I remember being obsessed with the game. Playing as often as possible, reading how to books, and taking as many clients on the course as possible.

The best game I ever played was at River Run in Maryland. I finished seven over par, I was 25. At 26 my company at the time, MCI Telecommunications, had a golf outing with our global accounts on Long Island New York, and my foursome won 1st place.

Commitment Before Ego

I struggled to get good at golf, mostly because of ego which is rooted in low self-worth. One of the manifestations of low-self-worth is the inability to ask for help. Low self-worth also has an impact on our leadership development.

I used to think to I was not being good enough to play with the experts. I was more concerned about how I would “look”, than the benefit I would gain from being around experts and learning how to play better from them.

I was afraid to be vulnerable. I was afraid to admit that I didn’t know something, for fear that I would be judged as not good enough.

I think back to so many opportunities for growth that I had, where I let my ego get in the way by needing to look like I had it all together.

I want to help others not make the same mistake and miss out on growth opportunities. I did eventually learn an important lesson from golf about life and leadership.

In the game of golf, the only competition you face is your bad habits.

The greatest of golfers does not analyze how another golfer plays, he/she works on improving his/her own game by developing consistent good habits that generate consistently good results.

The smart golfers, take tips, own that it’s a game requiring constant growth and learning, and they don’t let ego get in the way of improving their game when others offer up constructive criticism.

The same is true in life, isn’t it?

The more open we are to learn, the humbler we remain, the more fulfilled we become as we grow and become better than we were the day before.

Sadly, much like when I was in my 20s and 30s, many people spend a great deal of time figuring out how to look like they are better than others, compete at all costs, and look like they have it all together.

There is a fundamental problem with the fake it till you make it strategy. You are fooling yourself and holding yourself back from growing.

Work on Yourself

By competing with others, you end up within a zero-sum strategy. You go after your slice of the pie, but there is only so much to go around. You end up having to force someone out of the game, and ultimately the same can happen to you.

What is the alternative?

When you focus on your own game, and you stay open to growing, learning and being adaptive, you gain the brilliance and means to create new values.

Being humble and hungry for growth will enable you to add something to the life opportunities pie that is missing… making the pie bigger.

Widening the pie benefits you, and others too. If more people adopted this mindset, we would never experience economic downfalls and more people would experience prosperity.

Much like the game of golf, for us to experience sustainable success in life requires we focus on developing ourselves to be consistent, productive, resilient, and above all people who add value to others.

Focusing on adding values makes you a creator, while focusing on competing and beating others makes you a taker.

When we are in creator mode, anything can be accomplished, when we go into taker mode, we might experience temporary gains in life, but we will ultimately experience chaos. It’s built into the taker operating system.

The economic crash we had in 2008 was a testament of what happens when we consume more than we produce, when we take more than we give. The only way for it to never happen again, is to become beings of creative and giving forces, vs. beings that need stuff to be happy.

The crash came from the need to compete in a zero-sum proposition world. If you are not actively adding value, you are taking from the pie and eventually this causes recessions, and depressions.

The key ingredient to growing as an individual is much like improving your golf game. Focus on yourself. Develop your own qualities. Become consistent, and productive. Improve your own game.

The winner in golf is not the one who beats the other players, the winner is the one who worked on improving his/her own game. The winner is the one who day in and day out outdoes his/her old game the most. Period!

In life, winning means outdoing your old self, your old ways, your old strategy, your old views, and more importantly the way you view yourself.

Let Go of the Need for Validation

Because of our desire to be validated, respected, and… we can focus on looking good, so others think well of us, and lose sight of the real game, growing as a human being.

The real game of life is about evolving to be better, more loving, more giving, more compassionate, more authentic human beings.

When we focus on just improving ourselves, becoming better than we were the day before, there is no other outcome but a winning outcome.

Validation, respect, and love are all verbs; they are actions that need to come from the inside out, not the other way around.

When a great golfer is losing, he/she does not use the excuse that “the wind” caused them to lose, the great golfer admits when they did not develop a strategy to not let the wind dictate their game.

In life the wind is what others think of us. If you go outside on a windy day and try chasing it… you’ll never catch it, and you will find yourself exhausted trying.

When you focus on being better grounded within yourself, you won’t even know the wind is there.

You will have control of the outcome of your own game, and since we’ve already discussed that that game is focused on adding value to the pie by creating values for others, everyone will win along with you.

You might win or lose in a competitive golf game with other players, but if you are focused on outdoing yourself day in and day out, you are winning at the bigger game — the game of life.

Originally published at

Tullio Siragusa is a pioneer of disruptive technologies, an emotional intelligence (EQ) thought leader, futurist, speaker, author, and coach. For the past 32 years, Tullio has built world class leadership teams in technology companies and startups. Tullio currently serves as Chief Strategy Officer at Nearsoft (now Encora) where he co-produces and hosts a platform that gives voice to emerging technology luminaries. As an advisory board member to the University of California, Riverside, Design Thinking Executive Program, he advises on how to promote a human-centered approach to innovation. He also hosts Rant & Grow, an entertaining and heart-centered reality podcast where each episode explores people’s personal blockages and how to powerfully move forward with careers, relationships, and self-realization by developing healthy habits. As a founding member of Radical Purpose, Tullio is a strong supporter of human-dignity in all aspects of life, including freedom in the workplace.

Image courtesy of Steve Momot.

Why Kindness Is King and Nice Always Finishes Last

The phrase “Nice guys finish last” is 1000% true. This is why it’s such a struggle for sensitive and caring people to operate out of kindness.

When you don’t fully understand what Kindness is, you’re likely to get stepped on.

Wait, hold on dude. Are you saying that I shouldn’t be nice to people? You’re the Love guy, right? How does that make sense?

I used to struggle with being treated like a doormat. It was my own fault. 

I was just too nice. But the real problem was that I didn’t understand the difference between “niceness” and Kindness. And yes, there’s a BIG difference!

Niceness and Kindness are the man in the iron mask

If you’ve seen the film starring Leonardo Dicaprio, based on the story of the Three Musketeers and despotic King Louis XIV, you know how appearances are deceiving. Leo plays Louis, who has been a tyrannical king and caused immense pain for the kingdom.

Yet Louis has a twin brother held in prison. The musketeer’s venture to rescue him and instill him as the true king.

The twins look identical in appearance, but their hearts are completely different. And that’s the thing.

Don’t read what I’m not saying: It’s not wrong or evil to be nice. I’m not comparing niceness to the portrayal of Louis XIV.

I am saying that while being nice can appear to be a good thing, it’s not. There’s a reason why the “nice guys finish last” phrase has been true 10 times out of 10 throughout history.

 The real trouble with “nice”

Nice doesn’t have a backbone. It can’t stand up for itself. Doing so would betray all the underpinnings of its nature.

Nice only knows how to smile and take one on the chin. Over and over again.

Because if “nice” decided that it wanted to be treated with respect and dignity, it would have to stand in its power. And “nice” isn’t sure what that means.

Do you find yourself playing the role of “nice” guy or girl? And is it a struggle for you to stand up for yourself or firmly ask for what you want?

I get it. I’m a sensitive and caring guy who has tried over and over again to be an encouragement to others. But what that also comes with is a feeling that I don’t get to ask for what I want.

Or have a real voice. And that’s why “nice” sucks.

It’s not necessarily other people’s fault for mistreating the nice aspects of our giving hearts. It’s our responsibility to stand in our power and choose to operate out of kindness instead of nice-ness.

Image courtesy of Gift Habeshaw

Here’s what that looks like

I recently made an order for a few bracelets. They’re made from black obsidian materials that are powerful in energy work. The order went through before Christmas. But after over a week later, I haven’t received any notification on where it is.

If I played the nice card, I’d just shrug my shoulders and not say anything. Because I wouldn’t want to come across as “mean.”

But Kind is honest, and it’s gentle in its method. Without being aggressive or harsh, I have asked this company to get my order to me promptly and asked what the delay is. I can understand delays with holiday stuff. However, there needs to be better communication and customer service done in this case, especially considering the shipping charge.

Now, if I listened to the voice in my head that says “Don’t say that! You don’t want to be unfair or rude” then I stay quiet while my heart is going “This isn’t right, dude!

That’s why Kindness is Love.

Kind has a voice and it stands in that power. It says what it feels without being harsh, critical, or blaming others.

Kindness also recognizes that respect is due for yourself as well. So if you feel disrespected, say so. Nice doesn’t have the cajones to do that.

In my healing journey after the hell of heartbreak and divorce, kindness was not something I gave to myself. I didn’t believe I deserved it. I also wasn’t nice to myself either. Pain and emotional trauma can cause us to become our own worst enemies.

From trauma, we treat ourselves the way others have treated us

Which doesn’t lead to healing. It leads to more and more brokenness.

I had to start my healing journey by digging into the soil of Love and finding real Kindness. Learn what it truly is. And practice how to give it to me. Without operating in Kindness, you can’t foster real Love.

As I wrote Be Solid: How To Go Through Hell & Come Out Whole, I had to relearn what Love truly is. So I could know how to heal and give it to myself.

We have to learn how to harness Love to step into our power so that we can heal, grow, and live out our divine purpose.

This means we have to unlearn a lot of our previous beliefs about what Kindness is. And remove the sticky and yucky weaknesses of niceness so we can operate from the true power of Love.

Kindness is the key and kindness is king.

*This blog article was originally published at

D Grant Smith is known as the Growth Farmer, which means he has an old-fashioned approach to living a whole & healthy life. Get his free ebook called Love Is The Seed To Success, that gives help in healing relationships and growing healthy ones. His new book Be Solid: How To Go Through Hell & Come Out Whole is about the journey into self-love and self-care after heartbreak and personal loss. He’s an empowerment superhero who would love to give you encouragement so feel free to reach out!