4. Forgiveness, like truth, always sets us free.

Many of us, over the course of our lives, have found cause to feel anger, dislike or even hatred towards others based on some real or imagined slight. And perhaps that anger has lingered over many years and remains present as a reminder of the injustices wrought upon us by those terrible people.

Those of us who have permitted anger or even hatred to permeate our lives and inhabit our awareness would be well served to heed the truthfulness of the quote by Buddha who said, “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”

If we have carried anger, bitterness and hatred like an albatross around our necks we have expended untold quantities of negative energy in aimless pursuit of …what?

Today I’m going to recommend we all adopt the habit of forgiveness. We are familiar with the old cliché that reminds us to forgive and forget? The forgetting part is a bit challenging as we do not come equipped with a delete button to allow us to permanently erase memories that no longer serve us well. We do, however, have a perspective button that allows us to move forward with our lives without being held down by the heavy chains of anger, bitterness and hatred.

The obvious place to begin applying the habit of forgiveness is most often with ourselves. If the old axiom that tells us that we cannot truly love others until we love ourselves rings true then the same can be said for forgiveness. Many of us carry the burden of self-anger, self-disgust and self-hatred that we have brought into our being by virtue of past actions and behaviors.

I relate so well to those who have at times denigrated themselves constantly with the anger that comes from self-loathing.

The sad truth is, regardless of how poorly or inappropriately or even criminally we may have acted in the past, nothing we can ever do can erase those actions, those deeds, from the history books, but there comes a time when, if we really wish to become positive and contributing human beings and to maximize the value we bring to this planet, we need to begin by forgiving ourselves.

Regardless of how egregious our past behaviours may have been, our ability to become better human-beings can only begin once we have taken that first step forward and forgiven ourselves.

And forgiving ourselves grants us the liberating catharsis that we can then re-experience repeatedly as we allow ourselves to forgive others.    

Forgiveness is not condoning the actions of others. In fact, forgiveness is never about others, it’s about us. Forgiveness means that we have made the energizing and empowering decision to move forward with our lives and no longer be encumbered by the destructive, energy sapping, soul-destroying feelings that rob us of valuable moments or hours or days which could be far better used to bring joy and happiness into our being.                  

On Saturday, December 15th of last year, the day after the horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut that stole the lives of 20 young children and six adults, I watched the grief stricken father of one of those young children address the media. The grace and graciousness of this man was a remarkable lesson to all in the cleansing power and healing light of forgiveness.

He began by saying that he wished to express his condolences to the families of all of the victims, including the family of the shooter, because their pain was no less heart wrenching then the pain being experienced by all the other victim’s families.

He spoke at length about his beautiful little girl and how he, his wife and children were torn apart by the pain of her loss. When asked if he had harbored hatred for the shooter he replied that he would not tarnish or dishonor the memory of his precious daughter whose life exuded love, by allowing those memories to be experienced through the distorting prism of hatred. He said there was no place in his heart for hatred because hatred would simply serve as a victory for the shooter. He did not want hatred to be a part of the grieving process that he and his family were going through now, nor at any time in the future.

Anger, hatred, bitterness and grudges serve only to imprison the holders of such feelings. I am convinced that, in most cases, those whose actions have led to anger, hatred, bitterness and grudges in us have long since moved on, forgotten the event and, perhaps, never for a moment believed themselves to be responsible for anything.

Think of a time when you were cut off in traffic by another driver, leaving you exploding in rage. That driver then sped away never to be seen by you again. Quite possibly, that driver may not even have been aware of cutting you off – we all know that there are relatively few good drivers out there and those of us who are exceptional drivers are members of a very small elite club.

So here you are, angry, and there he/she is, far off in the distance, fading from view and blissfully unaware of having cut you off and of your ballistic state.

It’s a little bit like solitaire – you are the only player in the game.

The only player in the hate game is the hater.

And unlike solitaire, as the only player in the game, the hater has no chance of winning and, in fact, the longer we play the game, the more we lose.

Carrying these emotions within us is akin to serving a sentence. If we wish to be paroled and released back into the freedom of our pre-angry lives all we have to do is forgive. Nothing we can do is more freeing, and there is little we will ever do that will give us more absolute control and mastery of our lives.

Anger is the chain that holds us down; forgiveness is the key to freedom.

The habit of forgiveness is one we should all strive for because we can never achieve the joy and happiness that life offers us when we are imprisoned by the dark energy of anger.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

P.S. If you haven’t yet subscribed to this blog, please do so by clicking here. You can also check out, or subscribe to my other blog by clicking here.

P.P.S. Please give some thought to being a guest blogger. If you, or someone you know, has struggled with letting go of anger or bitterness, or if you, or they, have experienced the freedom that forgiveness brings please share your story. Stories inspire and perhaps through your story, someone’s life will change in a way they never dreamed possible. Please email me at rael@raelkalley.com with your story.

Final P.S. A number of people have contacted me regarding the previous three blogs and have shared their struggles in creating a list in order to accept my 30 Day Challenge.

They have asked for a few examples of affirmations that others have used.

Here are a few that some folks have shared with me:

I love myself unconditionally.

I radiate perfect health in very cell of my body.

I feel strength and confidence in everything I do.

I life with joy in my heart at all times.

I own my emotions and make wise choices in deploying them.

I believe something wonderful will happen in my world today.

My body is moving closer to my ideal weight every day.

 I wake up each morning filled with positive expectancy.

I perform my job with perfection of execution.

I am excited and proud of my freedom from drugs.

Remember, an affirmation is simply a positive statement about yourself that you would like to believe to be true, even if you do not presently believe it to be true.

If you would like to participate in the 30 Day Challenge I suggest you read the previous three blogs and then:

  1. Make a list of what you wish to believe to be true of yourself – not necessarily what you actually believe to be true. Your list may contain only one statement or as many as you want. Each statement needs to be a positive affirmation of what you would like to believe.
  2.  Commit to passionately and enthusiastically reading that list over and over and over again at least four times each day for 5 to 10 minutes each time. Remember, congruency is everything.
  3. For the next 30 days, once you have completed your affirmations four or more times, email me at Ididit@strategicpathways.net  with the word “Done” in the subject line.
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3. Accept this challenge – please. You’ll thank me later.

Over the past few years a number of people have asked me why I seem so evangelical whenever I talk of the importance of empowering, positive, energizing self-affirmations.

I frequently talk with my clients about the role that our habits play in determining the outcomes in our lives and, as this entire blog is devoted to the topic of habits, it is clearly a subject that I view as being of great importance.

But back to the original question; what is it about self-affirmation that is so important in helping us focus on, and acquire the very habits that will steer us to where we want to be as opposed to those habits that, for many of us, prevent us from realizing our dreams.

I believe it is our self-regard – what we viscerally and wholeheartedly believe to be true of ourselves and how we feel about ourselves – that is the very foundation upon which our life’s journey is built.

And when the foundation is weak and self-critical it becomes more likely that we will routinely repeat the very behaviors that will result in validating the truthfulness of that foundation.

Therefore it is, in my opinion, unquestionably and indisputably imperative that if we wish to have any possibility of living the lives of happiness and joy that each of us deserves, then we must work diligently to build a foundation of strong, loving and supportive self-affirmation – a foundation of self-awareness upon which we can build the requisite habits that will guide us to where we wish to be.

Experts frequently enjoin us to “go back to the basics,” for they know that the challenges of acquiring advanced skills and excelling in their execution is always made easier once the basics have been mastered.

Developing the habit of inspiring and confidence building self-affirmation is indeed the basic habit upon which all others can be developed.

There is an extremely compelling reason as to why we should begin today to develop the habit of frequent uplifting self-affirmation, if we have not already done so.

Many of us have spent the better part of our lives developing and mastering the habit of negative, critical self-talk.

This critical voice may well be one we have come to hate but unless we are prepared to change our behaviour, we can be assured it will never go away. The harsh truth is, it has no plans to go anywhere.

If we do not immediately begin developing the habit of positive input, that other voice will carry on unabated and unchallenged and will continue to get stronger over time.

I know of only one way to quiet that critical tone and that is to flood our very being with uplifting, encouraging and enlightening positive self-affirmation.

A few people have taken me up on the 30 day challenge that I have discussed in the previous two blogs. If you are not one of them please, I urge you, to accept that challenge today and just “go for it.”

Here’s what you do:

  1. Make a list of what you wish to believe to be true of yourself – not necessarily what you actually believe to be true. Your list may contain only one statement or as many as you want. Each statement needs to be a positive affirmation of what you would like to believe.
  2.  Commit to passionately and enthusiastically reading that list over and over and over again at least four times each day for 5 to 10 minutes each time. Remember, congruency is everything.
  3. For the next 30 days, once you have completed your affirmations four or more times, email me at rael@raelkalley.com  or send a text to (403) 862 – 5019 simply with the word “Done.”

I don’t want to sound like a nag, and I know I have asked you to accept this challenge each time I have posted a new blog so I would like to make you three promises.

I promise I will not mention this challenge again, at least not for the next several weeks.

I promise that if you accept this challenge as outlined above, at some point in the next 30 days, something wonderful and remarkable will happen in your life.

And I promise that I will introduce a new habit for us to discuss next week – perhaps the not so helpful habit of procrastination.

I can’t wait to hear from you.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

P.S. If you haven’t yet subscribed to this blog, please do so by clicking here. You can also check out, or subscribe to my other blog by clicking here.

 

P.P.S. Please give some thought to being a guest blogger. If you have struggled with some tough habits that don’t want to go away, or if you have enjoyed the success of adopting new ones, please email me at rael@raelkalley.com with your story.

2. Make a habit of this habit.

I would like to introduce you to three extraordinary people. They have each granted me permission to tell their stories but have asked that their names not be used. Let’s call them Dom, Rick and Mary.

Last week we talked about the habit of self-affirmation and how we are, in fact, everything we tell ourselves we are.

Dom, Rick and Mary do not know each other, have never met, and yet all three shared a powerful, common trait.

All three had mastered the skill of soul-crushing negative self-talk to the point where, when I first met them, their lives consisted of constant daily downward spiraling into hopelessness, frustration, and despair.

They talked at length of self-doubt, feelings of inadequacy, and all three shared a belief that they were unworthy and not good enough.

Their ages ranged from 27 to 53. And there was one other thing they all had in common; they were all remarkably successful in their chosen fields and, on the surface, led lives of perfection.

One of them, the youngest, started a graphic design business several years ago that today employs more than 20 people in three cities. The second started out many years ago framing new houses and today owns a company that builds approximately 100 extremely high-end houses on the West Coast each year and the third has a flourishing dental practice that provides a lifestyle that would be the envy of many.

To the outside world it appeared that all three had it made and none would have argued otherwise. All were acutely aware of their own good fortune.

They each had a wide circle of friends, enjoyed strong industry recognition and acclaim and have delightful families who love and support them.

Yet they seemed unable to break the chain that daily bound them to those thoughts and feelings of self-criticism that had been their constant companion for as long as they could remember.

One by one, each of them over the past three years, came to the same realization that the only way to counter years upon years of negative, critical self-talk, the only way to still that destructive voice in their heads was to flood their minds with opposing thoughts that validated their self-worth and affirmed their tremendous value as human beings and that enveloped them in praise and reinforced repeatedly their capabilities and the greatness of their being.

Somewhat reluctantly, with grave doubts as to the value of this endeavor, each of them accepted my 30 day challenge.

Each of them, as discussed in last week’s blog, created a list of what they wished to believe to be true of themselves – not necessarily what they actually believed to be true and committed to passionately, enthusiastically, and congruently read that list over and over and over again at least four times each day for 5 to 10 minutes each time.

And they committed to do this for 30 days and to send me a text or email each day once they had completed their affirmations.

At some point in the first 2 to 3 days each of them called me and told me what I have heard, and continue to hear, from so many others.

They told me they felt foolish.

They told me this didn’t feel right.

They told me they felt self-conscious about saying things that they didn’t, for a moment, believe to be true.

They felt it was a monumental waste of time.

And in response all I asked of them was to continue.

Here’s where it became interesting. At some point in those first 30 day each of them contacted me, somewhat surprised, to inform me that indeed something was becoming different. They weren’t able to clearly define and articulate what that “something” was they just knew that something felt different. And I simply encouraged them to continue.

And they did, right up to day 30 and beyond.

By day 30 each of them reported profound differences in how they felt about themselves and so I suggested they continue. And they asked how much longer they should continue and my answer was “forever.”

The reason behind my answer is this: old habits do indeed die hard, and sometimes they don’t die at all, they just lie around waiting for an opportunity to go back to work and that lifelong habit of critical self-denigration may well spring back to life if we become complacent for even a moment.

I pointed  out to them that if they continue this practice, day after day, there would come a time in the future when they would do this with the same degree of unconscious competence as they had previously unconsciously berated themselves throughout each day.

I’ve seen this massive change in hundreds of people. I was my very own first guinea pig and,  truth be told, it took me more than 90 days to complete the first 30. Because I started and stopped and started and stopped, never quite believing that there was any value until one day I made a promise to stick it out for 30 days, and then kept that promise.  That was many years ago and I still, to this day, continue that practice.

Over the coming weeks, months and hopefully years we will be discussing many habits that, when incorporated into our lives, will profoundly and positive influence our outcomes.

I don’t believe there’s a single habit that is more foundational to our sense of self than the habit of positive, uplifting, inspiring and energizing self-affirmation.

So again, I invite you to take the 30 day challenge. For the next 30 days, once you have completed your affirmations four or more times, email me at rael@raelkalley.com  or send a text to (403) 862 – 5019 simply with the word “Done.”

And I will check in with you in 30 days.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

P.S. If you haven’t yet subscribed to this blog, please do so by clicking here. You can also check out, or subscribe to my other blog by clicking here.

P.P.S. Please give some thought to being a guest blogger. If you have struggled with some tough habits that don’t want to go away, or if you have enjoyed the success of adopting new ones, please email me at rael@raelkalley.com with your story.

1. I am everything I tell myself I am.

Hello and welcome to my new blog called “Habits cause Have Its.”

I hope you will join me on this journey as we explore the many ways in which our habits – those things we do repeatedly – contribute so much to what happens in our lives. As some of you may know I have been writing another blog each week for the past three years and if you’re interested in subscribing to that blog, or even in just checking it out, please click here.

My fascination with habits, and the role they play in our lives, came to me as I met more and more people over the past few years who have profoundly, and radically, successfully implemented massive changes in their lives and in so doing have often had to endure inordinate amounts of pain in order to move from where they were to where they are today.

As I met with and, in some instances worked with, these wonderful people I learned of the very many different strategies they adopted in order to bring about these enormous transformations.

Many of these folks had to overcome enormous adversity and chose to do so frequently in the face of massive odds against their success.

And while their strategies varied in so many different ways the one thing that united all of them, the one constant that shone through all of their journeys, was that each and every one of them, in order to re-sculpt their lives, quit old habits, and adopted new ones that they relentlessly stayed with, day after day and that, in most cases, are still in place today.

And so I began to ponder the possibility of writing a blog about the power of habit. The name “Habits cause Have Its,” came to me when I realized that almost everything we have has come to us by virtue of certain behaviors that we repeat over and over again, sadly, very often, to our detriment.

And so today, in honour of this, my first blog on this topic, I would like to focus on the incredible power that comes to us through the habit of affirmation.

In my day job as a coach, trainer and speaker I have met countless people who have shared with me some of their own challenges that have resulted from the constant, repeated negative messages that they have been feeding themselves from as far back as they can remember.

I wish I could say that I cannot relate to their experiences but unfortunately I can because I too, like so many of us, have spent many, many years berating, criticizing, doubting and attacking myself, and generally practicing every known form of self-denigration.

Everything we believe to be true is always true – for us – and many of us, through our well-honed habit of regular, intense critical self-talk have come to acquire many damaging beliefs about ourselves that have no basis in fact.

I believe we acquired this habit very early in childhood, perhaps  beginning with some event that caused us to believe that we were not good enough, or not smart enough, or athletic enough or good looking enough or not … (fill in the blank) enough.

And as we grew into adulthood we continued practicing this habit of reminding ourselves of our shortcomings, telling ourselves all of these negative and punitive things until we came to believe them to be true. And not only did we continue to do this, but we became extremely good at it. In fact we became world-class in beating ourselves up. We got to the point where we were so good that we did this with all the competence and skill that can only come from years and years of dedicated practice and commitment.

And for many of us we have reached a stage where we realize that this isn’t working for us and we want a different life, with different results, for ourselves.

In my book, “Life Sinks or Soars, the Choice is Yours”, I used a metaphor to ask an extremely powerful question.

The book is narrated by Earl, a middle-aged man facing many of life’s challenges. He calls upon his lifelong friend Hugh, a man who has enjoyed success in all areas of his life, and asks for help.

Hugh agrees to spend a few days with Earl and, for Earl, this is a life-changing experience.

At one point they are talking about negative self-talk, the habit of repeatedly affirming to ourselves everything that is “wrong” with us. Let’s listen in on their conversation

Hugh says, “Let’s assume for a moment that you have a belief about yourself that you will never amount to anything.

“And let’s say that you have had that belief for as long as you can remember and that you have been telling yourself this for many years.

“Now let’s pretend for a moment that every time, from a very early age, that each time, instead of telling yourself that you will never amount to anything, you had picked up a 10 pound dumbbell and done 10 bicep curls with your left arm.

“How well developed would your left arm be now?”

Earl, “Extremely well developed,”

“And your right arm,” Hugh inquired?

“Pitiful,” Earl said sheepishly, “kind of like how it is now.”

I think so many of us can relate.

Far too many of us have spent much too much time “working out and developing our left arms.”

This is a habit we must change.

And yes, there is a way of making this change. We do so by replacing that mean, miserable old habit with a new and exciting one.

I know of only one way of doing this successfully.

And it’s hard work.

And it takes a while.

And it is something we have to keep doing until…

Here’s what you do. Make a list of things that you would like to believe to be true of yourself.

There are a few very important things to remember about your list.

  1. It does not have to be a long list. There is no maximum number of items for your list. There is, however, a minimum number and that number is One.
  2. You do not need to believe a single word on that list. This is a list of what you would like to believe to be true of yourself. You may not believe a word of it today. That doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you create a list.
  3. Your list is a living document which will continually evolve. This means you are free to add, delete or edit in any way you choose as you work to redefine who you truly are.

You are now ready to begin. Remember the dumbbell metaphor? You are now going to start “training your right arm.”

All new habits begin with doing something for the first time.

Pick a start date (today’s a great day to start) and read your list over and over again for five to 10 minutes. Plan to do this up to four times a day.

Now remember, it’s not that read your list, it’s how you read your list.

Bring life to your list. Read every word as if it were an irrefutable fact. Congruency is key here. Sit or stand as if you believe every sentence to be absolutely the truth and say each word with as much passion as you can muster.

And when you have finished, do it again. And again.

When you begin this exercise you may feel silly. Many people have told me they feel foolish because they are saying words they don’t believe to be true.

None of that matters. What matters is that you continually do this.

Remember you are dealing with a formidable foe. Your “left arm” is not going to sit passively by while you work on strengthening your right arm. The silliness you may feel is simply from the resistance your “left arm” is putting up.

It’s almost definitely saying to you, “Hey, what the hell do you think you’re doing? You’re wasting your time. This ain’t gonna work. This is my domain, get out.”

And you need to keep going. You need to do this as many times as possible and you need to really focus on being congruent. Be as loud and energetic, and passionate as possible.

There may well be times when you just don’t feel like doing this. Do it!

This is something you need to do when you are tired, exhausted, drained, feeling down. You must do this when you feel it is an absolute waste of time and you must do this when you would rather be doing anything else in the world.

Remember this: if you choose not to do this or choose to stop doing this, the “other side” will continue as it has for many years. The only way to silence that voice is to smother it with positive affirmation.

And if there are times when you really feel like quitting this silly exercise, please pause and ask yourself this question, “Am I worth it?”

The answer must, of course, be a resounding “YES.”

Allow me to issue a challenge to you. This is a challenge I have placed before hundreds of people over the last few years. Most have chosen to decline the challenge, some have chosen to accept the challenge and then decided not to stick with it, and a few have jumped upon the challenge and ridden it all the way.

I call it my 30 Day Challenge.

And it works like this.

Make an irrevocable commitment to yourself that you will adopt this process for the next 30 days.

Remember, this commitment to yourself means that you will follow through on your promise to spend 5 to 10 minutes affirming your greatness to yourself a minimum of four times each day.

At the end of each day, after your fourth round of affirmations, send me an email to rael@raelkalley.com and simply put the word “Done” in the subject line. Alternatively, you can text me at (403) 862 5019 with the word “Done.”

Please, for your sake, if you accept this challenge and send that first email/text, please, please, please continue with the challenge until day 30.

I promise you this much: if you do this, within 30 days your life will change. Next week I will share with you the stories of a few people I know who accepted, and met, this challenge.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

P.S. Thank you for reading this, the first posting on my new blog. If you enjoyed reading this piece and would like to subscribe, please click here.

P.P.S. If you have any thoughts on this blog, or ideas for future ones, please send me an email at rael@raelkalley.com or click on the comment button. Thank you.