Category: Positively Positive

The Storms of Life

Early this morning, I awoke to the sound of rolling thunder in the far distance, just beyond bedroom window. Coupled with the occasional flash of lightening casting a strobe-light effect through my sheer curtains, I could not help but lie awake and intrinsically beg for more storm centered splendor. Then came the steady downpour of rain, which acted as a sleep agent, gently lulling me back to full and sweet slumber.

There is nothing I find more soothing than the sound of rhythmic rain coupled with an occasional drum of thunder. Bowling in heaven, tears of the angels, God gaining a boisterous soul. So many familiar allegories that describe a good old-fashioned thunderstorm.

In thunderstorms past, one or both of my sons would generally find their way to my room. Feeling frightened by the roaring booms and flashes of light, they both sought comfort only a mother can provide. I was somewhat disheartened last night that neither son seemed bothered by the rumble outside their bedroom window.

What once served as a sure-fire means toward a nightly comfort cuddle and splendid spooning session, now shows the measure of growth my boys have secretly mastered right under my very mothering nose.

When did my sons stop being afraid of thunderstorms? When did they cease to ask for help with homework? When did they start giving ME relationship advice instead of the other way around?

This coming of age stuff is for the birds! I miss the days they needed me. Sought comfort only I, as their maternal figure, could give.

Perhaps this is simply a shifting of the tide. They still need me, only in different ways.

Hearing my voice in the vast crowd of other parents at my oldest son’s basketball game. Calling out to my younger son when he makes a victorious play on the field at flag football. Walking them through the mystery of their changing bodies, feelings, fears, and passions. Silently encouraging the noticeable steps toward adolescence. Engaging in semi-adult conversation, which seems deeper and more mature as they days busily fly by. Being open to learning from them just as they always have learned from me.

Our relationships daily transition, just as the seasons are continually shifting.

Some changes are more notable than others. Some slip by and catch you off-guard until they loudly thunder and brightly flash right before your very eyes. Instead of fighting against these natural shifts, I am trying to actively embrace them. To remain open to the new realm of possibility that each shift can bring forth.

Just as the roaring thunder and sightly lightning settle my soul, so too, can the shifting, settling, growing, and acknowledging of relationships gaining ground individually as well as collectively. My sons may no longer fear the storms in the deepest dark of night, but I will never stop offering the comfort they need when faced with the inevitable daily battles of life.

Amannda Maphies has always gone by Manndi; and yes, it has two n’s. It is actually a perfect moniker for her as she’sa bit (more than a bit) zany, wacky, crazy and loves nothing more than to laugh at herself and share that laughter with others. Manndi works fulltime at the UMKC School of Pharmacy, has two boys, William (10) and Waylan (8). She loves to write so she recently started posting on Facebook about her daily adventures about everything from being a single mom of two wild and crazy boys to dating after divorce, to more serious topics such as the loss of a loved one and suicide awareness. She trie to infuse humor, relatability and a touch of inspiration into each of her pieces. One day, she will compile them for a memoir of her life. Manndi’s life motto is ‘live a life you would want to read about’ and she strives everyday to reach others with her words. She feels that you are only as happy as you choose to be and she CHOOSES happiness over all other emotions. She is honored to be featured in a publication named ‘Positively Positive’ because that is truly how she strives to live life.

Image courtesy of Aline Nadai.

There’s No Such Thing As Work-Life Balance


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It’s Nice to Hear Giggling: The Science of Laughter

I was hanging out before yoga class with a good friend one day and, as we often do, we were laughing. We almost always find something to laugh about when we are together, except this one time we ran out of water with eleven miles left on a long run on the hottest day of the year, but that’s another story.

Anyway, as we laughed another student walked by and said with a smile, “It’s nice to hear giggling first thing in the morning.”

Later I was thinking about how often laughter makes us happy, even if it’s someone else’s. We see a baby learning to laugh and it makes us smile. We hear some kids laughing on the playground, and we might smile along. Or we walk by two friends chuckling over something and appreciate their moment of happiness. It’s hard not to smile when you are in the presence of joyful laughter.

It’s a no-brainer that laughter makes us feel better when we are the ones laughing. Laughter, like so many things, releases endorphins and reduces stress. Laughter triggers a relaxation response in your nervous system. We feel better when we laugh unless it’s that fake “I’m about to freak out” laugh some of us do under stress. However, laughter is such a huge stress reliever that even faking a laugh can have beneficial impacts.

But why do we feel better when other people laugh?

Hearing laughter, even when you have no idea what prompted it, can help shift your perspective. If you’re having a bad day, even hearing the laughter of others can remind you that there are good things in life.

Maybe the woman in yoga class hearing me and my friend laughing helped her to remember times she’s laughed with her friends, and it made her happy for a moment. Or maybe just the sound of our giggling, as she called it, made her happy on its own.

“Tape the sound of friends laughing together. Save it for a rainy day.” Yoko Ono

Observing laughter brings you closer to others because it’s a shared experience. We all have laughed, even if some of us don’t do it frequently. Hearing genuine laughter is like seeing a baby or a puppy — it can melt even the hardest heart.

And laughter can be contagious, kind of like yawning, but more beneficial. Being around people who seem happy can make you feel happier, even if by association. Many of the stress relieving properties of laughter applies regardless of whether you know what the laughter is about.

Have you ever had the experience where a friend or family member is laughing so hysterically that they can’t catch their breath to tell you what’s so funny and then you start laughing too, because their laughter is funny and contagious? Brain scans show that simply hearing laughter triggers your brain to relax, and prepares your facial muscles to respond in kind by smiling. Those benefits can last 30 minutes or longer.

Laugher is most often a social response. You are 30 times more likely to laugh around others than when you are alone. Being around laughter reminds you that we are all connected, and have shared experiences.

And the positive effects of laughter are magnified if you also participate in the laughter. So in the immortal words of Han Solo, “Laugh it up, Fuzzball.”

Rose Bak is a freelance writer, author and yoga teacher who lives in Portland, Oregon with her family and special needs dogs. As a dedicated multipotentialite, she writes on a variety of topics including self-care, aging, inspiration, business, and pop culture. She is also a published author of romantic fiction. In addition to writing, she teaches accessible yoga and sings. Sadly, she has absolutely no musical talent so she’s forced to mostly sing in the shower. For more of Rose’s work, visit her website at or follow her on social media @AuthorRoseBak.

Image courtesy of Gary Barnes.

I Want Your Honest Answer to This Question

How are you? (That’s the question.)

I like to wake up early. Before 5 is best, when the air is a smudge away from nighttime darkness.

It feels sacred.

The world is undiscovered. I go outside, yawning, stumbling on leftover dreams. The dog glows with happiness at being alive and moving. All the edges are soft.

I walk down the road into the darkness of the trees. The shadows deepen here and my breath always catches, an instant of halting panic.

What is it about darkness that makes us afraid?

It’s only the first few steps that scare me. Once I’m under the trees, their shadows feel kind rather than threatening. The branches arc over the road and create space within space. I breathe deep. I start moving faster.

As I move down the road, the light begins to grow.

The small hum in my chest gathers itself into a force and begins to be beautiful, exhilarating. If I do this first, before the buzz and roar of the world begins, I can feel that force fully, can breathe it in and out, can meet the day led by my own authority rather than by expectations and reactions.

(I may not last long in the self-governed state of awareness, but it’s good to start there, at least.)

The day erupts into itself.

What a rush to see the thousand streams of our separate daily lives intersecting: in street corners and doorways, spoken and unspoken greetings, pounding bass lines from car windows, over cups of coffee, eyes meeting, energy drawn up and out, passed from one to another to another to another to another.

We do this day after day, all of us together, in a shared dance of self-created reality. It can be joyful. It can be fulfilling.

It can make us feel utterly alone.

We look at each other but don’t see. We smile but don’t mean it.

We say, “I’m fine, how are you?” and don’t talk about the real things, whatever they are: financial strain or devastation, unsatisfying relationships, continual worry over our kids or our parents or the planet, the heavy decisions we have to make, the lack of options, the job that isn’t there, the salary that holds us prisoner, the fact that we’re barely holding our shit together, once again.

If we can’t name those things, those material-temporal things, of course we won’t name the even bigger, deeper, scarier things.

Well, you won’t. But I will.

Here’s a short list of honest ways I could have answered your “How are you?” question on any given day in the last few years:

Hey Annie, how are you?

Oh, you know, okay but really, I’m struggling to express my emotions because I’ve been repressing them for so long that I no longer have any idea how I really feel about the things that matter most to me, and I don’t know what’s more terrifying: not knowing what I feel, or finding out that what I feel is somehow going to destroy the life I’ve built.

Annie! How are you today?

Well, to be honest, I feel a deep sense of shame and unworthiness and it washes over me at seemingly random times and I don’t know why and I don’t know how to deal with it but I think it’s because there’s something deeply wrong with me, and this feeling of disgust and horror at myself is growing and I don’t know how much longer I can deal with it.

Good morning Annie. How’s it going?

Not good, really, as all the belief systems I built my life on are crumbling and I wish I could unlearn things I’ve learned, but I can’t now and I can’t go back to that sense of certainty I had and I have no idea how to assess life moving forward, or how to make decisions, or know what matters, and I certainly don’t trust myself to make good decisions so I feel stuck, frozen, and terrified while life continues to move on at an insane speed all around me and I’m afraid I’ll never catch up.

What’s up Annie! You doing okay?

You know, as it turns out, I’m pretty sure I’m broken in some significant ways and I feel as if I have probably fucked my life up completely and, in so doing, deeply hurt the people I care most about in this world and that thought is so devastating to me that I almost can’t bear it but I have no idea how to fix my mistakes so I keep making the same ones over and over but the hopelessness of it all is wearing me down.

Buenos días, Annie, cómo estás?

Quieres la verdad? I feel disconnected and isolated and alone, and I haven’t let myself feel how lonely I am because doing so means admitting that I don’t know how to connect and that I’m scared to be real because I’m scared of who I really am and I’m sure that if people knew who I really am, if I were truly honest, then they would reject me and rightfully so, so I keep pretending that these shallow, halfway connections are okay for me but I don’t know how long I can keep that up.

Hey girl, it’s been a long time. How are you?

Well, lately I’ve been looking at my life and evaluating what things mean and realizing that I’ve wasted so much time on things I don’t care about, and I’m filled with a deep sense of regret because I long to be significant, I long for my life to have purpose, I long to contribute but I feel completely inadequate, like I have nothing of value to offer, and I’m pretty certain that there is nothing good in me so that even if I came up with some Great Idea I would probably screw it up, so I’ve retreated into not really trying but it’s killing my soul and I can feel that poisonous energy building up into a rage, and the numbness is barely covering a desperation that makes me want to do awful, insane, destructive things just to remind myself that I’m alive.

How are you, Annie?

I’ll give it to you straight: I feel trapped in a life of obligation and routine, of responsibilities and commitments, and I know I have to take care of things, I have to do what I’ve said I’ll do, and I don’t want to hurt anybody but when I lay in bed at night I keep thinking is this all there is? and I wish I could figure out how to feel alive, how to explore and have adventures and do what I love and really live without messing everything up, but I don’t see how it can work out and so I guess I’ll keep doing what I’m doing but it feels like I’m dying by millimeters every day and soon I won’t remember who I am at all.

… And how are you today?

Those have all been accurate descriptions of my internal, real, true state.

They are shadows.

The further I go inside, the deeper they become. They gather to a darkness deep and final, a darkness I have been avoiding for most of my life.

What is it about darkness that makes me afraid?

Darkness represents my deepest fear: the unknown. I fear what is unknown more than I fear anything else. That’s why I spend so much energy making plans. I’m trying to prepare for the future, the best I can, but here’s the thing about the future: it’s always unknown, and it always will be, because it doesn’t exist.

But the unknown future isn’t what I fear the most.

I’m okay with talking about it, planning for it, scheming and dreaming and discussing it. It’s a great distraction from my bigger, deeper, much more terrifying fear:

The unknown of who I am. The unknown of the self.

Compared to the terror of my unknown self, the fear of an unknown future is almost pleasant.

Why am I so afraid to look at myself? What awful thing do I expect to find? I don’t know (not until I look) but I’m terrified to dive in, to find out, to face it.

I’m like a kid shivering under the covers, sure there’s a monster under the bed. Too frightened to move, too frightened to call for help, too frightened to peek under there and confirm the worst: it’s real, it’s there, it’s more horrifying than I could have imagined, and it’s going to kill me.

The idea of the monster is so terrifying that I’d rather not look. I’d rather not know for sure. There’s a sense of safety in not knowing, in the uncertainty. It’s a pitiful scrap of safety.

I guess I expect to find proof that my worst feelings are justified: that I am alone, and I deserve to be alone. That I’m not what I should be. That those feelings I have of being not good, not enough, somehow wrong, somehow inadequate, that those feelings are justified by something unnamed and sinister, something so awful I can’t describe it, something that can never be forgiven or accepted.

Something that is the truest, deepest part of who I am.

If I don’t look under the bed, I can cling to that idea: maybe it’s not true. I can hide in the uncertainty of not knowing for sure.

What a thin scrap of safety to build a life on.

As long as there’s uncertainty, there’s some chance I might be wrong. Maybe there isn’t a monster after all. Maybe all the shame and self-condemnation isn’t justified. That’s the thin line of hope I cling to. If it’s not true, I don’t want to know.

But I’m not good at living in uncertainty. None of us are.

All tension comes from uncertainty, and tension that stays too long becomes chronic anxiety, in a variety of forms: nervousness, numbness, apathy, need to control, worrying, supressed emotions, panic, paranoia.

The alternative seems impossible: look under the bed? Face the monster? Have my worst fears confirmed? Get eaten alive?

Why the hell would I do that?

Going inside, to see who I am truly, to be quiet and still and undistracted, to see and know the self, that’s facing the fear head on.

I’m not sure I can do it.

You know what I mean? I can handle the fear if I look at it sideways. If I mostly ignore it. I handle it by not acknowledging it’s there, and definitely not acknowledging how much it matters.

But it does matter. It matters more than anything.

This fear–fear of who I am–was kicked off at some point long ago by the experience and pain of separation. The separation creates the fear. The fear creates more separation. The continued separation validates the fear. The growing fear increases the separation. On and on and on and on and on.

What a silly little overwhelming viciously cruel cycle. I can spin out for years, decades, lifetimes.

Or I can deal with it. Face the monster.

It feels like death to face the fear.

I don’t know what I’m up against. The stakes are so high. As soon as I decide to go for it

finally I can’t stand it anymore I have to do something I can’t take this pain

the uncertainty shifts.

Now it’s no longer a question of if there’s a monster under the bed. It’s a question of how big and awful the monster is, and exactly how painful it will be when it kills me.

But there’s relief in it. There’s certainty. At least I will know. At least I will know who I am. Maybe I’ll die. Maybe I’ll want to die. But I’ll know my self, for an instant, first.

I hope it will be worth it.

I’m happy to report that none of those descriptions, above, none of those how are you answers are the internal, real, true state I currently inhabit.

I moved from those dark places to the place I am now. I’m out of the shadows and into the glorious light.

I didn’t get here by ignoring the shadows.

I got here by looking at them, finally, honestly. I did it by taking those first few steps, further in, chest pounding, panic building, everything in me screaming to get away run away hide hide hide don’t go in there.

I did it by by walking into the darkness.

I gained the courage to walk into the darkness of my self because I could no longer live with the pain of separation and shame. My distractions were taken away. My neat little world crumbled. My identity unraveled. Suddenly there was no way to stay numb. Suddenly there was nothing left to lose.

Suddenly the darkness became the only thing I could see, and all the noise and roar, the push and pull, the striving and hiding faded into the meaninglessness that it is, and there was me and there was the darkness, and it was time.

All our stories are true, you know.

The hero’s quest. The journey into the unknown. The myths and legends, the fairy tales, the narratives. They tell us what we are here to do, what we must do if we want to live, truly: leave everything behind and seek the treasure. Face the tragedy of life and venture into the unknown to find the real meaning of it all. To choose our meaning.

The best gift you can receive is the gift of pain, however it comes. It wakes you up out of your numbing sleep and forces you to feel all the pain, all the fury of it, all the force of it.

Of course you feel like you will die, or should die. Of course you don’t want this experience. Of course it doesn’t seem like a gift, but it is.

Blessed are those who suffer, for they will come undone.
Blessed are those whose lives have fallen apart, for they have nothing left to lose.
Blessed are those who are shattered, for they can no longer pretend.
Blessed are those whose pain has become unbearable, for they can no longer ignore it.
Blessed are those who know themselves wounded, for they will find healing.

Blessed are those who walk into the darkness, for they shall emerge into the glorious light.

How are you? (That’s the question.)

Are you stubbornly asleep? It’s time to wake up.

Are you numbing yourself with distractions? You don’t have to do that anymore.

Are you waking up to such great pain you can barely breathe? You will live through this because you are stronger than you realize. This pain is a doorway to something more beautiful than you can imagine.

Are you questioning all your choices? Good; that’s a healthy exercise.

Is your life falling apart? Excellent. Let it fall apart. You don’t need “a life.” You need to live.

Has everything you trust shattered into a million pieces? Better and better. Less to worry about. Less to carry. Let it go, baby, let it go. You will learn to trust yourself.

Are you spinning out in cycles of pain? Take a deep breath and sit still. You control your movement. Stop moving until you know which way you really want to go.

Are you afraid of being alone? We all are. We aren’t meant to be alone. This fear is your doorway to connection.

Are you afraid of wasting your life? Maybe you are. Maybe it’s time you stopped. Maybe it’s time to figure out what your life would look like if you weren’t wasting it.

Do you feel unworthy? Good. Now that you’ve acknowledged the feeling, you can start figuring out where it comes from. You have this power. Use it.

Do you wonder how anyone can love you? I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you.

Are you suffering? Blessed are you, for you will come undone. Then you will learn how to put yourself back together the way you want to be.

Are you so lonely you don’t even recognize it as loneliness anymore—you just accept it as your baseline, your normal emotional state? You don’t have to feel this way. You aren’t meant to feel this way. You don’t deserve to be alone and you don’t  have to be alone… but if you don’t want to be alone anymore, you have to take the next step.

Are you terrified? It’s okay. We all are. Let’s figure this out together.

Are you wounded? Blessed are you, for you will find the courage to heal yourself.

Do you feel like you’re losing your shit? Go ahead and lose it. Lose the shit. Find yourself instead.

Are you tired of care taking for everyone else and desperate for someone to take care of you? Guess what? That someone is you. It’s time. Yes, I know it’s scary. No, it’s not selfish. Yes, I know you’re afraid. Yes, I know you don’t know how. Yes, I know you don’t trust yourself. You’re going to learn how. You don’t have to know all the steps. You don’t need a plan. All you ever get to know is your next step.

What is it about darkness that makes you afraid?

Find the shadows. Look into the darkness. Walk toward it.

As you move into the shadows, the darkness will deepen. It will threaten to overwhelm you. Don’t believe it. Take deep breaths. Take small steps. Another. Now another. Take all the time you need. There’s no rush. There’s no hurry. One foot in front of the other. Go ahead. Into the shadows. Into the darkness. Into your fear. Into your self.

As you move down the road, the light begins to grow.

Annie Mueller is a writer, reader, seeker of growth, and transplant to Puerto Rico, where she lives with her best friend and their four children. Her crash course in self-discovery came from experiencing job loss, financial devastation, Hurricane Maria and its aftermath, and major surgery—all in less than a year. She writes about creativity, personal growth, and spirituality; runs Prolifica, a content management consultancy for small teams and solo professionals; and sends out a popular weekly newsletter about feelings and freelancing. You can find more of her work on her website.

Image courtesy of şengül.

Afraid You Are a Fraud? Take a Reality Check to Crush Imposter Syndrome

Albert Einstein, famously said: “the exaggerated esteem in which my lifework is held makes me very ill at ease. I feel compelled to think of myself as an involuntary swindler.”

Maya Angelou, humbly acknowledged: “I have written eleven books, but each time I think, ‘Uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody and they’re going to find me out.”

Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg, openly admits: “There are still days when I wake up feeling like a fraud, not sure I should be where I am.”

The term imposter syndrome relates to self-doubt and the fear of being discovered as a fraud. Typically, it’s about career insecurity, but you could worry you aren’t good enough to fulfill roles like being a parent or student too.

People with imposter syndrome imagine others will find out they’re incompetent and the humiliation will be tantamount to social death. They think they’re viewed as more capable than they are and don’t deserve their status. The thought of being outed mortifies them. If you suffer from imposter syndrome, a reality check can help you gain perspective.

Reality Check

Reign in your doubt. Everybody worries they aren’t up to par occasionally. Self-evaluation is part of being human. Also, if your fears are about an unfamiliar experience, like being a parent for the first time, recognize everyone’s been in your shoes. You may have intellectual know-how, but until you gain experience from practice, you can’t expect to achieve brilliant results. Being a rookie doesn’t mean you are an imposter.

You Got Where You Are for a Reason

Imposter syndrome might make you feel like your success stems from good fortune or is a mistake. But people make their own luck. You got where you are because you’re the right person for the job, and if your fears relate to anything other than your career, the same applies.

It’s Okay to Make Mistakes

Even experts make mistakes. Part of the reason they become authorities stems from having the courage to fall flat on their faces and the resolve to get back up again. They learn from blunders and their competence grows.

If you have imposter syndrome, no doubt, you worry about getting things wrong. You don’t want anyone to witness your errors because you think they will judge you harshly. The chances are they won’t make your gaffes into a big deal, however, if you admit your mistakes and don’t emphasize them.

Honesty can quell other misgivings, too. Imposter syndrome may make you want to hide your struggles or blunders, but it’s fine to admit you don’t have answers. You can always expand your know-how, and lack of it doesn’t mean you’re incapable. Your value arises from a combination of your skills, knowledge, and personality traits that grow.

If It Feels Easy, That’s Because You Know What You’re Doing

People with imposter syndrome sometimes worry when tasks are easy. Thoughts like, “I must have missed something” ruin their well-being. It might help to know it’s just as normal to feel concerned when things go well as when problems arise if you have imposter syndrome. Even business moguls aren’t immune to self-doubt when their jobs seem too simple. So remember, setbacks often have nothing to do with your professionalism or competence.

You Need Not Prove Yourself

Imposter syndrome often turns sufferers into perfectionists. You might aim to prove yourself and do far more than is necessary. It helps to notice, no matter your successes, the fear you are a fraud lingers. You can’t make it go away by working longer hours or getting more done.

Nor can accolades or other accomplishments lower the notion you’re an imposter. The way to get rid of fear is to work on your self-esteem, not struggle to show people you are worthy. You need to recognize you are valuable.

Procrastination Won’t Reduce the Fear You Are a Fake

Many people with imposter syndrome put off important tasks and projects. You might be so fearful of screwing up that you procrastinate. For a short while, putting off jobs gives you respite. But the sense of relief doesn’t last. Procrastinating makes matters worse because you have to rush to get things done at the last minute.

Comparing Yourself to Others Fuels Imposter Syndrome

If you have imposter syndrome, it’s likely you compare yourself to people you think are better than you. You check out their performance, popularity, attractiveness and other attributes and come off worse. You can’t gauge your worth when you compare yourself though, because you and your gifts are unique.

It’s Time to Expand

Imposter syndrome makes people shrink. You may hide your gifts because you don’t recognize them. When you do your best to emulate other people’s abilities, your strengths fall by the wayside. Rather than shrink and hide, it’s time to shine and expand.

You can reduce imposter syndrome by bringing your gifts to the fore. Show your strengths instead of aiming to copy other people’s. If you aren’t sure what your gifts are, consider what you love to do or would do if you had more confidence.

Are you a wonderful artist? Or a storyteller? Are you empathic? Kind? Organized? Fabulous with numbers? Identify your strengths. Jot them in a journal, and refer to them when imposter syndrome strikes, and vow to use them more in the roles you undertake. Practice them and your well-being will expand.

Don’t let imposter syndrome reduce your personal power. Take a reality check. Recognize most people suffer from self-doubt at times, and you got where you are in life because of your competence. Expand your personal power and use your gifts, then let self-worth seep into your psyche.

George J. Ziogas is an HR Consultant with 15+ years of experience across a number of industries with a specialization in Occupational Health and Safety (OHS). He is a qualified vocational instructor/teacher and personal trainer. George is also a blogger and top writer in numerous categories/tags on Medium. He speaks several languages (English, Greek, Macedonian), and enjoys working out/keeping fit, music, reading, and traveling. He is married and lives in the beautiful Southern Highlands of New South Wales.

Image courtesy of Min An.

The Psychology of Jealousy: Why You Get Jealous and How to Handle It in a Healthy Way

Jealousy is one of those “icky” emotions where it feels gross or wrong simply to feel it in the first place.

Unfortunately, this sense of disgust or shame we feel about feeling jealous is exactly the thing that makes jealousy such a difficult emotion to manage effectively.

In the rest of this guide, I’m going to walk you through the psychology of jealousy—showing you a more helpful way to think about what jealousy is and how it really works.

We’ll end with some practical suggestions for how to manage jealousy in your own life in a healthy way.

What Is Jealousy, Exactly?

The standard dictionary definition of jealousy is something like this:

Feeling resentment because of another’s success or advantages.

Now, this is an okay definition, but I think it misses some psychological nuance…

1. Resentment isn’t quite right…

Resentment is close, but I think feeling jealous is really its own distinct emotion.

Part of the problem with resentment as a proxy for jealousy is that typically resentment happens as a result of being wronged in some way—and as such is closer to the anger family of emotion.

And while there’s definitely some of this anger element in jealousy, it’s my experience that when you really reflect on it, jealousy is more closely related to sadness and fear—that is, it tends to be a response to a perceived or threatened loss or inadequacy (more on this later).

2. It’s more about you than them.

This standard definition of jealousy makes it seem like it’s all about what the other person possesses. In reality, I think jealousy is a much more inward-focused emotion—as if another person’s success or value is a reminder of an inadequacy or fear within us.

3. Jealousy isn’t just a feeling.

We’ll talk a lot more about this in the next section, but one of the biggest problems with most definitions of jealousy and the way most of us think about jealousy is that it’s framed purely as an emotion.

But I think there’s often a lot more to jealousy than just the feeling… Specifically, jealousy usually involves both patterns of thinking and behavior that are important.

Because that last point is so important for how to actually manage your jealousy, let’s take a closer look into this distinction between feeling jealous vs acting jealous.

Feeling jealous vs acting jealous

For most of us, it’s pretty obvious when we’re feeling jealous:

  • You catch your boyfriend chatting with a member of the opposite sex and feel a little surge of jealousy.
  • You listen as your best friend describes the big promotion they got (and corresponding pay increase) and feel a spike of jealousy.
  • You notice how fit and muscular the person on the treadmill next to you at the gym is and feel jealous.

What’s less obvious, is what happens after that initial feeling of jealousy…

We almost always end up acting jealous immediately after feeling jealous.

Of course, this acting out of our jealousy is usually subtle and mostly invisible to other people. And it tends to come in two forms:

  1. Jealous thinking
  2. Jealous behavior

Jealous thinking is what your mind usually does after feeling jealous:

  • You start imagining how your boyfriend might secretly be having an affair because they’re over you and trying to get out of the relationship.
  • You start going through scenarios in your head of why your friend doesn’t really deserve the promotion nearly as much as you do.
  • You tell yourself that you’d be that fit too if you were young and single and actually had time to exercise regularly.

In other words, jealous thinking is the story you tell yourself when you feel jealous.

This matters because—as we’ll discuss later on—one of the things that make our jealousy both more intense and long-lasting is the story we tell ourselves about it and as a result of it.

In other words, people who have a more general tendency to worry and ruminate, are much more likely to act out their jealousy (if only in their own mind).

Jealous, behavior, on the other hand, is what we physically do in response to feeling jealous:

  • You start flirting with someone at the party yourself as a way to get your boyfriend’s attention or “make him pay.”
  • You start communicating in a passive-aggressive way with your friend any time the topic of work or your jobs come up.
  • You stop working out because being around fit people triggers painful feelings in you.

Jealous behavior is what you do—consciously or not—in response to feeling jealous.

Becoming more aware of our jealous behavior is critical because it can easily lead to self-sabotage and other destructive patterns.

Before we move on to some tips and strategies for dealing with our jealousy in a healthy way, we need to talk a little bit about where jealousy comes from.

Because you can’t respond to jealousy in a healthy way if you don’t understand its function or what it’s trying to do.

What causes jealousy?

If you want to understand how jealousy actually works, and how to work with it most effectively, you need to realize one crucial concept…

Jealousy is a natural reaction to real or threatened loss.

Okay, there’s a lot in that statement, so let’s unpack it a bit…

1. Jealousy is a natural reaction…

It’s critical that you see jealousy as a natural emotion and not something inherently bad or defective. Just like it’s natural to feel fear when we’re threatened or angry when an injustice has been committed, it’s natural to feel jealous sometimes too.

While jealousy is natural in the sense of being normal, it’s also natural in that it’s useful—or at least trying to be. Just like anger properly channeled is a useful way to correct injustice, jealousy can also be useful. More on this in a minute…

2. …To real or threatened loss.

Let’s work backward here… Jealousy is about loss. Now, this might sound counterintuitive at first, but bear with me.

When we see something good or valuable that someone else has and our focus is on that thing itself and that other person, our reaction is more like admiration, wonder, etc. Jealousy comes in when we start comparing what other people have to what we lack. So at a fundamental level, jealousy is about something we feel like we don’t possess but should.

Here’s an example to illustrate:

If you’re already a top manager in your company, and you see a low-level intern work hard and get their first promotion, it’s unlikely that you’ll feel jealous because what they have is something you already possess. You’re not losing anything or reminded of something you lack. Of course, you still might feel threatened, for example, but that’s a different thing.

Jealousy always involves comparison. And at the end of the day, it’s about what you value but lack (or are afraid of lacking).

Side Note: An interesting implication of this way of looking at jealousy, btw, is that jealousy is often a good indicator of what we value. Two jealousy researchers, Vilayanur Ramachandran and Baland Jalal, have argued that “what you really value in life is more often revealed by asking yourself who you are jealous of rather than asking yourself directly ‘what do I value.’” This is another sense in which even though jealousy feels bad, it could—with the right perspective—be a useful tool to accomplish something productive like getting to know your values.

The big takeaway from all this is pretty straightforward:

Jealousy is a very understandable reaction to realizing that you’re lacking something (or are at risk of losing something) valuable.

From this perspective, then, jealousy isn’t just another “negative emotion” to try and get rid of. It’s a valuable signal reminding you of what really matters to you and the potential risk of losing it or not possessing it.

Of course, like any emotion, the message it contains isn’t necessarily accurate…

For example:

You might be completely secure in your romantic relationship and still feel a little jealous when your partner does something that looks flirty to you. That little spike of jealousy might just be the result of your misinterpretation of what’s going on, in which case it’s not necessarily helpful.

The bigger point is this:

Jealousy will always feel uncomfortable. But if you use it as a way to consider your values, it can become constructive rather than destructive.

Jealousy can remind you of what you really value and help motivate you to move toward it, achieve it, or hold on to it if it’s something you already possess.

How to Deal with Jealousy in a Healthy Way: 5 Practical Suggestions

In the previous section, there were two key points that we should remember because all of the recommendations I’m going to give about dealing with jealousy are based on them:

  1. Just because jealousy feels bad, doesn’t mean it is a bad thing. Jealousy is a normal human emotion. Everybody experiences it sometimes. And there are often good reasons for feeling that way.
  2. Feeling jealous is different than acting jealous. Whether you feel jealous or not isn’t something you have direct control over. But you can control how you think and how you behave while you feel jealous or in response to it.

With those two core principles in mind, let’s jump into some practical suggestions for how to manage jealousy in a healthy and effective way.

1. Validate your jealousy

Emotional validation is a complicated-sounding idea that’s actually very straightforward…

Emotional validation means acknowledging how you feel and reminding yourself that it’s okay to feel that way—however painful or uncomfortable.

What really gets people into trouble with jealousy is that their starting assumption is that it’s not okay for them to feel jealous.

The problem is, when you start judging your jealousy (and yourself for feeling it) you add a second layer of painful emotions on top of an already difficult feeling:

  • When you judge yourself for feeling jealousy, you now feel guilty or ashamed and jealous.
  • When you tell yourself it’s bad that you feel jealous, now you feel anxious and jealous.
  • When you criticize yourself for feeling jealous, now you feel angry and jealous.

And the more painful emotion you pile on top of yourself, the more pressure you’re going to feel to do something quickly to feel better.

Unfortunately, these quick fixes for feeling better, often tap into our worst instincts and end up as self-sabotage…

  • Because you’re so ashamed of how you’re feeling, you lash out critically at someone else in order to very briefly make yourself feel powerful and justified.
  • You’re so afraid of being perceived as jealous, that you never speak up assertively about what’s bothering you.
  • You’re so angry that you end up acting out aggressively and saying or doing something hurtful and damaging to someone you love.

In short, it’s very easy to be judgmental of ourselves for feeling jealous, but when we do this, it only adds more pressure to the system. And more often than not, this pressure comes out in unhelpful ways.

Which brings us back to validation…

Emotional validation is like a pressure release valve for your emotions. When we feel bad, simply acknowledging those difficult feelings and reminding ourselves that it’s okay to feel that way takes an enormous amount of emotional pressure off of ourselves.

And when we don’t feel as pressured, it’s much easier to tolerate those difficult jealous feelings and respond in a way that’s helpful rather than destructive.

Summary: The first step in managing your jealousy in a healthy way is to validate it. Acknowledge that you’re feeling jealous and remind yourself that however much you dislike feeling that way, it doesn’t mean the feeling is bad or you are bad for feeling it.

2. Look for other emotions “behind” your jealousy

Most people, when asked to describe how they’re feeling, typically respond with one, single feeling:

  • I’m really anxious
  • I’m mad
  • I feel pretty sad

The thing is, it’s actually rare to only experience one single emotion at a time.

Far more often, we’re actually experiencing a range of different emotions at any given point. And while there’s usually one dominant “loud” emotion, it’s a mistake to assume that it’s the only one—or the only important one.

When it comes to feeling jealous, it’s easy to get fixated on jealousy and ignore the other “quieter” emotions behind it. Unfortunately, ignoring these other emotions can be a mistake because often they’re trying to tell us something valuable…

For example:

  • You’re at a party with your girlfriend and notice her talking with another guy. You instantly start to feel jealous.
  • But when you stop and consider how else you’re feeling, you realize you’re feeling a little sad too.
  • Upon further reflection, you realize that your sadness has to do with the fact that your girlfriend is very socially confident and finds it easy to talk with new people. But for you, this is hard. And you feel sad and disappointed that parties are so much more difficult for you to navigate.

Acknowledging the sadness behind your jealousy is important because it gives you another way of thinking about how you could respond.

Here’s how it might play out:

  • Instead of responding to your jealousy (which may or may not be an accurate reflection of what’s going on) and confronting your girlfriend about it, you could validate the jealousy, and then react constructively to your sadness and disappointment at not being very social at parties instead.
  • Specifically, you could try and strike up a conversation with someone and address your need for social connection.

Of course, it’s perfectly possible that your jealousy happened because your girlfriend is being inappropriately flirtatious with someone else. In which case, confronting her about it may in fact be the best action.

But, if there’s a good chance that’s not actually what’s going on, then acting on your jealousy (either mentally or behaviorally) is unlikely to be helpful. And very possibly could lead to you feeling worse and then doing something regrettable as a result.

On the other hand, when you take a moment to explore the other emotions behind the jealousy, you give yourself options for other ways to react. And many of these options could be far more helpful than reacting to the jealousy impulsively.

If you want to learn more about building emotional self-awareness, I run a course called Mood Mastery which includes a deep dive on this very topic and similar skills in emotional intelligence.

3. Write down your jealousy story

Without a doubt, the biggest reason people struggle with their jealousy is because they ruminate on it.

Rumination is a form of unhelpful negative thinking. It usually involves dwelling on upsetting topics you don’t have control over—replaying them or elaborating on them in your mind over and over again.

When people first feel jealous, often their instinct is to think more about it—analyze it, elaborate on it, judge it, etc. But one of the problems with this is that the more you focus on your jealousy, the bigger and more long-lasting it’s going to become.

On the other hand, if you can avoid ruminating on your jealousy, it’s much more likely to fade out rather quickly (most emotions—jealousy included—dissipate surprisingly quickly when we stop amplifying them by thinking and attending to them).

Of course, sometimes it is good to think about your jealousy, the situation that provoked it, what you want to do in response, etc.

So the dilemma here is how to think about your jealousy in a way that’s helpful and productive instead of simply stewing on and ruminating unhelpfully.

In my experience, the best way to ensure that your thinking is accurate and constructive rather than biased and destructive is to do it on paper.

  • For one thing, you can’t write nearly as fast as you can think. When you write down your jealousy story—what happened, what you think it means, what you ought to do, if anything—you’ll do it more slowly and intentionally.
  • It’s also a lot easier to get a balanced and realistic perspective on your story when it’s literally in front of you in writing. You’ll notice blatant exaggerations, irrational conclusions, and the like much more easily when your thoughts are written down slowly rather than speeding through your mind.

So, when you find yourself feeling jealous, and you decide it’s worth reflecting on more analytically, try to do it on paper rather than in your head.

Because remember:

For better or worse, your thoughts will determine how intensely you feel and for how long.

If you would like to feel less jealous, take control over your jealous story and make sure it’s as accurate and balanced as possible. Writing it down is a good place to start.

If you’re interested in learning more about how changing your thinking can change the way you feel, this guide on changing negative thinking might be helpful.

4. Clarify your values

Ironically, the most difficult part of jealousy isn’t the feeling itself but how we respond to it:

  • The hours of mental rumination and stewing about the person your’re jealous of. And all the extra jealousy, anger, anxiety, and other emotion that goes along with it.
  • The reactive and impulse decisions we make the instant we feel jealous that so often end up hurting both ourselves and other people.
  • Or sometimes our avoidance and suppression of jealousy allows bad behavior to go unchecked because of our own anxiety and lack of assertiveness.

Whatever the case may be, the real secret to managing your jealousy is this:

Stop trying to manage your jealousy itself and get better at managing your reaction to it.

In other words, other than some validation and self-acceptance, there’s not much you can do about the emotion of jealousy. Where we do have real control is in the ways we act out our jealousy—either internally or behaviorally.

In addition to the steps we’ve already listed, one of the best ways to start reacting to jealousy in a healthier way is to get more clarity about our values.

Values are the principles we aspire to live out. Honesty, for example, is often a value for people, or courage.

When our values are clearly defined and present in our minds, they exert a kind of motivating pull on our behavior which helps us steer clear of impulsive and self-sabotaging behavior.

For example:

  • Suppose you’re feeling jealous because of something your spouse did.
  • Your initial instinct is to “get back at them” by making a sarcastic and biting comment.
  • Obviously, this probably won’t be very helpful in the long run—either in terms of your own jealousy or your relationship. But it’s an easy thing to get “pulled into.” It’s a mild form of self-sabotage.
  • On the other hand, suppose at the moment you start feeling jealous, you remind yourself of your value of straightforward communication with your spouse. And how, in the past, you’ve been able to clear up issues much more quickly and smoothly when you communicate honestly.
  • Well, that’s going to make it much more likely that you choose an adaptive and helpful response to your jealousy rather than an impulsive or instinctual one.

We all have values of course. The problem is that most of the time they’re not very clear. And when values aren’t clear and personally relevant, they don’t exert nearly as much motivating pull on our actions.

If you want to start responding to jealousy more constructively, one of the best things you can do is make time to get to know your values.

5. Take assertive action

The final helpful step you can take when you’re feeling jealous is to take assertive action.

Taking assertive action means you make decisions and act in a way that aligns with your values and what you think is right—regardless of how you happen to feel in the moment.

Here’s an example:

  • Suppose you’re at lunch with a friend and they begin telling you about a big sum of money they just inherited and all the exciting things they’re planning to do with it.
  • Very understandably, you notice yourself feeling jealous.
  • Now, most people in this situation implicitly judge themselves for feeling jealous (She’s my best friend… I shouldn’t feel jealous—I should be happy for her! What’s wrong with me?). And as a result, they try to avoid or suppress their jealousy and pretend they’re not jealous.
  • Unfortunately, avoiding your jealousy makes it more likely that it will come out eventually in undesirable ways—usually resentment or passive-aggressiveness.
  • On the other hand, you could reflect on how you aspire to react to your friend’s windfall and remind yourself that just because I feel jealous doesn’t mean I can’t also express my happiness for them.
  • So in this case, taking assertive action might mean that, after your lunch, but before you leave, you make a point to tell them in a very genuine way that you’re excited for them.

Wait a second? It wouldn’t be honest for me to say I’m excited for them when really I’m jealous, right?

Here’s the thing: You can feel jealous and excited at the same time. And in my experience, it’s almost never the case that people feel exclusively jealous about someone else’s good fortune.

So, when you tell them you’re excited for them, that’s not a denial of your jealousy; you’re simply giving voice to a smaller but still perfectly valid emotion in you as well.

The more general point is this:

If you want to stop reacting negatively to your jealousy, be intentional about how you do want to respond to it.

The first step of this is what we discussed in part 4 about clarifying your values. But once you’ve done that, you still need to act on them. And to do it in a way that’s honest and straightforward—in other words, to act assertively.

With practice, assertiveness is a skill we can all build and get better at. And when you do, it will make managing your jealousy effective much, much easier.

Summary & Conclusion

The key to managing jealousy in a healthy and effective way is to understand what it really is and how it works.

If you don’t take anything else away from this guide, remember these two key ideas:

  1. Jealousy is a normal human emotion. Just because it feels bad doesn’t mean it is bad or that you’re bad for feeling it.
  2. Feeling jealous is different than acting on your jealousy. The key to managing jealousy well is to validate the feeling of jealousy and take control over your mental and behavioral response to jealousy.

Nick Wignall is a clinical psychologist and writer interested in practical psychology for meaningful personal growth. You can find more of his writing at

Image courtesy of cottonbro.

Balancing Introversion and the Need for Connection

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Only 1% Of Americans Do This Essential Daily Habit

​Only 3% of Americans have written goals.

Only 1% of Americans rewrite their goals on a daily basis.

Giving yourself even five minutes per day to orient your life in the direction of your goals is the difference between success and average.

If you don’t give yourself time, every single day, to orient your life in the direction you want to go, then you will default to former habits and patterns.

Life gets busy.

Life is stressful.

It’s easy to forget what you really want.

It’s easy to disconnect from your purpose and priorities.

It’s easy to fall into autopilot and go through the motions.

It’s easy to watch several weeks or months go by and realize you haven’t made much progress on your goals.

It’s easy to let the little fundamentals slip.

It’s easy to default to consumption rather than organizing your life and environment for creation.

It’s easy to focus on the constraints of your circumstances rather than the power of your capabilities.

Distraction fuels the need for more distraction.

Addiction is an endless vacuum.

Indecision and inaction lead to a loss of confidence, motivation, and hope.

Success Is a Choice

Choosing to be successful isn’t a moral decision.

You can be a good person or a bad person and be focused on your goals.

You can be a good person and choose to be average.

It’s really your choice, the life you will live.

It’s your choice if you’re going to be happy.

It’s your choice if you’re going to be healthy.

It’s your choice if you’re going to be financially successful.

The decisions you make right now are a direct reflection of the person you will be in one, three, five, ten, and 20 years from now.

When you look at yourself in the mirror, you’re looking at your former selves’ choices, actions, and habits.

Staying the Course

​It’s fundamentally impossible to stay on a straight course without continually checking in to see how you’re doing.

If you’re not reviewing your goals on a daily basis, then I can guarantee that your behavior and performance is suboptimal.

Without clarity of direction and purpose, behavior and motivation become erratic.

Without orienting yourself first thing in the morning with who you are and what you’re about, you will be going through the motions.

You’ll be disconnected from your purpose.

You’ll be disconnected in your relationships.

You’ll lack motivation and conviction.

You’ll allow low-level influences, activities, and actions to creep into your life.

On an occasional basis when triggered by something random in the environment, you’ll remember your goals and dreams.

You’ll feel a quick rush of excitement and enthusiasm to get back on track.

You may even engage in some powerful behaviors — like sending positive and helpful messages to key relationships, going to the gym, writing in your journal, or taking action toward a goal.

But unless you establish a lifestyle of reviewing, remembering, and engaging with your goals and purpose daily, you will make minimal progress.

In order to make extreme progress, you need momentum.

In order to get momentum, you need to be consistent.

Not just consistent, but you need to continually be getting better.

In order to get better, you need goals that you’re actively pushing toward. For example, many people go to the gym but have no goals. They are simply moving their body and not getting better.

In the book Turning Pro, Steven Pressfield said,

“Addictions embody repetition without progress.”

Doing something over and over may be how you develop a habit. But habits don’t guarantee success.

Habits, if unchecked, actually create apathy, boredom, and a lack of engagement. Habits can lead to mindlessness.

Consistency, not habits, is what you’re after. You want to consistently show up and push through your current level.

You want to get yourself focused and clear on what you want to achieve. You then need to fuel that focus by taking powerful and bold actions, daily, toward your goals.

As you take action toward your goals, your identity will change. You’ll quickly begin to see yourself as the person you intend to become.

Your personality will change.

Your expectations will change.

Your confidence will change.

Your subconscious will change.

Your results will change.

Your environment will change.

You’ll be able to produce results, easily, that once took enormous effort.

Your new normal will be beyond what your former selves’ dreams were.

Your standards for yourself and your flexibility and empathy toward others will improve.

Your appreciation for life will deepen. Your ability to feel and love will grow.

Your reasons for living will change. You’ll stop focusing on what you can get and simply try to be as helpful as you possibly can.

You’ll shift from consuming to creating.

You’ll stop focusing on your present circumstances and focus on the leverage you have to create new circumstances for yourself and others.

You’ll change your life more for the sake of others than for yourself. You’ll hold yourself to a higher standard so you can perform better work.

You’ll eat better because you can’t put regular fuel in a Ferrari.

Your goals will become bigger and longer term.

Confidence can be measured by how far out your goals are.

Most people are living day to day because they don’t have the confidence to see and believe in a bigger future.

Confidence can be earned, but it must be earned every single day.

You can create confidence with the choices you make, and you can lose confidence with the choices you make.

Your confidence reflects your self-trust.

The more you trust yourself, the more willing you will be to do things that are beyond your current capability.

The less you trust yourself, the less willing you will be to make decisions and commitments.


When was the last time you wrote your goals?

Did you write them down this morning?

Did you set yourself up last night for success, or were you numb in distractions?

Do you really love yourself?

Do you care about yourself?

If so, then why wouldn’t you become successful?

Why wouldn’t you create a better life for yourself?

Why wouldn’t you get clear on who you are, what you stand for, and what you want?

Why wouldn’t you crystallize that clarity and create the confidence to actually create a better future and life for yourself?

Why wouldn’t you upgrade your standards and let go of the low-level influences and choices holding you back?

Make the Decision

This is one choice that will influence all others.

Make the decision to start your day by writing your goals down.

Then do your best throughout the day to align your daily behaviors with your future dreams.

As you take daily steps toward your goals, your confidence will increase. As your confidence increases, your belief that you will succeed will grow.

Your identity will change.

Your environment will change.

Your brain will change.

You will change.

You will succeed.

Dr. Benjamin Hardy is an organizational psychologist and bestselling author of Willpower Doesn’t Work. His blogs have been read by over 100 million people and are featured on Forbes, Fortune, CNBC, Cheddar, Big Think, and many others. He is a regular contributor to Inc. and Psychology Today and from 2015-2018, he was the #1 writer, in the world, on He and his wife Lauren adopted three children through the foster system in February 2018 and, one month later, Lauren became pregnant with twins, who were born in December of 2018. They live in Orlando.

Image courtesy of Judit Peter.

When Food & Booze Are Your Favorite Vices

I love food. I can’t get enough of cooking meals for friends and family. I feel creative and skillful in the kitchen, and am in awe of the way new recipes can give you insight into different cultures without having to leave your own home (a bonus when you’re stuck inside for weeks on end…).

Cooking is an area of my life where I am adventurous and innovative and boldly take risks. I am proud of my skills and motivation. Great!

Not always. I also love to eat, and drink. I love dining out, I love amazing wine, I live for my morning coffee.

Food and booze are my favorite vices.

Let me explain.

I’ll get the sad part over with first: the truth is that I cannot trust my instincts when it comes to food and alcohol.

That’s the first thing that my HG coach woke me up to when we met.

My sneaky patterns around eating and drinking were outed in my first homework assignment.

Honestly, I didn’t think it was that bad. I mean, my weight had always fluctuated and I found it hard to say no to glass three, four, and five, but didn’t everyone?

Especially after the first two cocktails…

What my coach allowed me to see – with a spotlight held over it – was that food and booze had control over me.

I had been lying about eating and drinking and how far I would go to protect my bad habits since third grade (when my favorite after-school snack was tablespoons of Nutella straight from the jar eaten while hiding under the kitchen table).

There were also times I spent the money meant for the math tutor on McDonalds, because I needed that double cheeseburger…a meal to lift my spirits.

And let’s not forget frequently ordering enough takeout for two (“to have leftovers for lunch tomorrow”) but stuffing my face, slurping up every last noodle, before the delivery guy had even left the building.

For me, once the bottle was open, or I was one step inside the bakery, it was all over. My sugar-addict brat took over.

But I thought that since I felt sooooo bad after my bread binges and blackouts, wallowed in my guilt for 24-72 hours (easily done with a hangover, some edibles and new episodes of Great British Bake Off), I was paying the right price.

I mean, I was already following The Method via my husband. He had been working with a coach (to great effect) for a year. We only ate carbs and drank alcohol on the weekends if we were at our goal weight. We were in the best shape of our lives after each losing 50+ pounds and were successfully keeping it off.

The problem was that, because I wasn’t in The Method myself, I didn’t truly understand promises and consequences, so I was out of Personal Integrity.

Side note – my husband and his coach had been trying to bring me in for months. He had also secured a new job and doubled his salary through the work, so I knew it was powerful, but I resisted. My lie to get out of not wanting to go where I knew she would take me was that I wanted to respect his “thing.” What a, frankly, lazy cop out.

Anyway, when I (finally) met with her, I was a mess.

I had been out of work for months and was spinning on the spot, submitting half-assed applications for jobs I didn’t really want so that I wouldn’t be too upset when I never heard back (hi, chicken!), and using my favorite chores, cooking and laundry (yep, I love the old wash, dry, fold – see I’m not all bad), to fill my days, frequently “running out of time” to finish applications or “forgetting” to follow up with that contact.

How did I get out?

Among other things, I found a way to use my dark (food and drink) for light (realizing my dreams).

Here’s how it works.

  • I make a promise that both supports my schedule and is in alignment with my dreams.
  • Then, I set a consequence. An annoying one that is (usually) attached to one of my vices.

For example, I needed to get moving on writing this blog. So, I made a promise to write 500 words before 5pm on Tuesday.

If I didn’t get that done, I would lose my second coffee every day for the rest of the week. My word count was 554 by 4:46pm (when my mom called – bonus that I got to catch up with her because I was finished early).

Yesterday, I wanted to apply for a job I was well-qualified for at a company I admire. I could have easily put it off until the application window closed, diverting my attention to other tasks (one of my favorites is “organizing my inbox”) and letting the days slip away.

Instead, I made a promise to apply for that job AND follow up with a personal referral or introduction, and scheduled an hour for it in my calendar. If I didn’t get to it that day, I would lose one of my precious wines this weekend.

You see, I already have strict rules in those areas (I only allow two drinks per day, two days per weekend, and I only allow two cheat meals – with carbs – per weekend if I’m at my goal weight). So you can imagine how protective of them this snack queen is.

Other common consequences of mine are double workouts (one I’m paying this week for delivering a task late), and missing my next cheat meal/s. If it’s a major promise, I lose my entire cheat weekend (all food and drink).

Paying my consequences feels (almost) as productive as keeping my promises. I’m held accountable either way.

By managing my days (and my life) using promises and consequences I am more fulfilled, motivated, and excited than ever before. Even mid-pandemic I feel powerful and proud, because I’m building my Personal Integrity and taking actions to realize my dreams.

I have been doing a ton of spiritual exploration and self-development work in the past 18 months and I can promise you that The Handel Method has absolutely been the most powerful in practice. That, and regular meditation.

To be completely honest though, I’d be struggling to maintain my meditation practice without The Handel Method – I have an ongoing promise to meditate twice daily. If I don’t, I skip wines.

If you want to take control of your life, do this. Don’t listen to the chicken in your head. There could not possibly be a better time to start.


Marnie & Lou

P.S. Inner.U LIFE is a 12 session online course that gives you the tools to hack into your own life, hone your dreams, and have every last thing you want in the areas that matter most to you: CAREER, MONEY, LOVE, TIME, FAMILY, and HEALTH. Do this life thing better from wherever, whenever.

Marnie Nir is Senior Vice President & Chief Content Officer and Expert Life Coach with Handel Group. She finally returned from Florida (a period in her life she likes to refer to as “witness protection”) to her home state of New York, but has shuffled around from New York to California and back again throughout her life. Marnie’s professional and personal life have come full-circle as well. A student of Slavic Language and Literature at UCLA, Marnie graduated with a BA and an understanding of Russian Literature as “purification through suffering”. Years later, after several jobs in publicity and production, most notably for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle live tour (can’t make this stuff up), she began to see that, at least in her own life, suffering was not mandatory.  After marrying and giving birth to her first child, Marnie started coaching with her sister, Lauren Zander, creating the dream of who she wanted to be as not-her-mother. However, her work with Lauren took everything in her life to a much deeper level. More than a decade later, she is now an empty nester of two, co-author with Lauren Zander of Maybe It’s You, SVP of Chief Content Officer, and an Expert Life Coach in The Handel Method. She has also continued her creative work, namely as co-creator of the animated series Mother Up!, which aired 13 episodes on Hulu and starred Eva Longoria, serving as an expert at Campowerment, blogging for the Huffington Post, as well as writing her own blog (The Sour MILF).

Image courtesy of Rachel Claire.

Just Be Alive

More than two-thirds of the Earth is covered in saltwater; about 3% of all land is occupied by humans; 70% of Earth’s fresh surface-water is frozen in the Antarctica; there’s an ocean of fresh water larger than all the oceans of the world combined that sits two hundred miles below the surface of the Earth, and over 7 billion people are currently contributing greatly to the collapsing this global ecosystem. Now is the time to develop respect for the grandeur of all nature; to let the natural purpose take precedence over human nature; to follow inspiration and enthusiasm as a guide in life, and build the future with these powerful emotions. Inspirational and enthusiastic emotions are tools of higher alignment… aligning microcosms with macrocosms.

This is the wise use of the emotional body.

But so often in this world, dominated by logic, the concept of emotions is not considered constructive… a non-emotional response is believed more appropriate. However, the non-emotional responses are in fact the problem. They’re the most powerful emotions one can fall into — it’s the emotion of blockage — it stores the charges that erupt in random moments without real application or purpose… just a violent discharge. This is the current state of human nature, the constant random discharging of the emotional body which produces false positives; leading to erroneous protocols; producing unintended consequences called side-effects. This is what has led to our common human absurdities: violence to find peace; scarcity to create demand, and conspiracy for the intent of confusion… all in the nature of today’s human nature that’s collapsing its host-system… the only creature within nature that’s completely unnatural.

Our prayer is that you take on the grand and lonely task of being an absolute outlier — a master of inspiration and enthusiasm, and other emotional orientations that shed human nature for the sake of all nature . . . don’t earn a living, just be alive.

Guru Singh is a world-renowned yoga instructor, author, musician, and family man. Guru Singh works with the Dalai Lama, teaches with Tony Robbins, and has recorded an album with Grammy® Award-winning artist Seal. He can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Check out Guru Singh’s most recent book: Buried Treasures: The Journey From Where You Are to Who You Are.

Image courtesy of Vlada Karpovich.