1. Re-evaluate your expectations of yourself and others
You know all those pictures you have in your head of how life should be and how people should behave? Throw them in the bin. Your unmet expectations are behind all the disappointments and frustrations in your life. More often than not, your expectations are completely unrealistic and impossible for anyone else to live up to. Most of the time you don't communicate those expectations to anyone so they don't know they're being assessed and rated based on their behaviour. It's a secret test that no-one knows they're taking. Expectations are the silent killer of your joy. Stay in the moment and experience who and what is in front of you right now. You have to accept 'what is' instead of obsessing about 'what isn't'. Holding onto a picture of how things should be keeps you stuck in a future where you're always waiting for that special moment to come when it's actually happening right in front of you right now. You're just too righteous to notice. Let those expectations go. All of them. You'll be happier, I promise.
2. Set clear boundaries
You are the most valuable asset in your life. You! Not your damn house or your car or your diamond ring or Breitling watch, but YOU! It's strange how you spend more money and time and energy protecting and defending those inanimate objects than you do yourself! How many times a week do you allow your psyche to be violated by images and TV shows and radio broadcasts and the endless drivel of social media? How often do you allow your emotional and mental states to get abused by bosses or colleagues or family members or friends or a partner that does not value you? How often do you assault your own body with lethargy and drugs and toxic foods and poisonous alcohol? You can't be upset when people treat you badly if you can't be bothered to create and respect your own boundaries. Get clear on where your lines are, communicate them to everyone in your life and defend them with everything you've got. Be willing, at any moment, to walk away from any behaviour, person or event that does not add value to your life. If you are in any situation that is causing you to compromise yourself in any way then your boundaries have been breached and you need to wake up and take action.
3. Take risks
Stop playing it safe all the time, it's so boring. Go and do things that scare you and push yourself out of your comfort zones and do them as often as you can. What's the worst that could happen? You trip and land on your face and look like a complete tit in front of others? SO WHAT? Who cares if you look like a schmuck or people laugh? You'll walk away being in touch with a bigger part of yourself as a result. You will have grown from the experience and learnt something about yourself that you didn't know the day before. And isn't that the point of being in this weird human existence? You're here to grow and evolve and shine and glow, not to sit like a small, joyless, smelly mushroom stuck in the dark. Be the flame of transformation that shows others the way. And it might do you good to stop taking yourself so seriously. Everyone could do with more laughter in their life, so how fantastic if you're the one giving it to them!
4. Speak your truth.
You have to be honest in your communications, no matter how much it scares you or others. How else will people know how you feel and what you want? Stop withdrawing and resorting to passive-aggressive behaviour because you don't have the courage to speak your truth. How are you going to get results in your life if you're not honest about what you want? Are you staying silent because you're too scared of what other people's reactions are going to be? How is that workable? That's the greatest act of self-sabotage: smiling and waving while you're dying inside and lying to everyone around you. The truth is the blade that cuts through all the bullshit and if you're ready to start being real then you have to speak it loudly for all to hear. If others can't handle your truth then they shouldn't be in your life. Why are you surrounding yourself with people you feel you have to lie to every day? The truth will always come out in the end anyway so you might as well start there every time.
5. Be silent and listen
Time to get over the love affair you're having with the sound of your own voice. Please get that your opinions and points of view and understanding of reality are yours and yours alone. Smothering people with your righteous view-point is definitely not going to make them see things your way, they'll just be put off by your arrogance. Do you constantly talk over others? Cut people off mid-statement? Finish other people's sentences for them? Correct people every time they talk? Ever start a sentence with "I hear you but..." Just stop it. Stop it now. You are not the great and powerful Oz (and even he turned out to be a fraud). Be quiet and give people the space to tell their stories and to be heard, you'll be amazed at how much you learn when you stop talking.
6. Put yourself first
If you had to draw up a list of the most important things in your life, where would you come on that list? I'm betting somewhere below your job, your partner, your kids, your parents, your bank account, your bond, your car and your pets. If you are not number 1 on that list then you need to take stock and seriously re-evaluate your priorities. Because nothing else on that list is going to work unless you have the strength and energy to invest in them. Putting yourself first is not a selfish act, it's actually the greatest gift you can give to those around you. Read my post: "Put yourself first!" to understand what I'm talking about. Please stop saying yes when you really want to say no. Know your limitations and stop giving when you've got nothing left to give. If you don't fight for yourself, who will?
7. Be afraid and do it anyway
If you want to get real, then you have to finally face those parts of yourself that scare you the most. Those parts that you've spent a lifetime suppressing, just to make others happy. You've allowed other's judgements of you to mould you into such a small, limited version of yourself that you're barely able to cope with all of the events of your life in any kind of workable way. Playing it safe all the time is like eating white bread and milk for the rest of your life; bland, boring and contains very little substance. You've let someone else's point of view about who they think you should be become your truth and it's not OK. Doing things that scare you will break you out of your carefully constructed act and put you in touch with the deeper aspects of yourself that are rich and profound. There is gold to be mined in the depths of your subconscious. You are so much more powerful than the small point of view you have about yourself, but you'll only find that out once you break through that paralysing fear that is stopping you from living! Get your pickaxe and start chipping.
8. Stop needing to be right all the time
You are right... for you. Everyone has their own unique view of reality that is right for them. It's not, however, right for someone else. There are over 7 billion versions of reality on this planet and you think yours is the only correct one? Being real means being willing to say "Look, I don't know who I am or what I'm doing, I don't have all the answers but I'm willing to learn and to be guided. Let's grow together". No-one likes a wise-ass, that one person who always has to get in the last word, who always has to correct everyone around them, who always wants to make others look stupid so they can be superior in their knowledge. Always needing to be right is not how you create open, sharing, intimate connections in your life. In fact it does the opposite. People will stop talking to you because they can't stand being patronised. It takes a lot of effort to try and be right all the time. Masks slip because it's really hard to keep an act going 24 hours a day and trust me, after a while, most people will start to see through your righteousness to the insecurities that lie beneath. Let yourself off the hook, just exhale and let it go. Do you want to be right or do you want to be real?
9. Teach people how to treat you
You can't keep being upset by the way people treat you if you're not doing anything to stop or correct them. People will treat you the only way they know how and if you don't stop them then they'll think that the way they are speaking or behaving is fine and will carry on. You have to say "Look, I don't like it when you do/say ......... so in future please can you rather do/ say ........". Most people will be completely unaware that the way they've been treating you isn't OK for you and they will usually try to rectify their behaviour. Use your voice.
10. Keep your agreements
Seriously, don't fuck this one up. It's really simple: do what you say you're going to do... when you say you're going to do it. This makes you a being of honour, principal and integrity and someone who can always be trusted. If you're experiencing problems in your marriage or with your kids or at work or with friends or family, chances are it's because you've broken agreements with them. You didn't keep that promise you made to take them to the park or treat them to a romantic dinner or help them with their paperwork or send that email you were promising. Every time you break an agreement you break someone's trust with you. And trust can be a very hard thing to regain in any relationship. Don't ever promise to do something if you know you're not going to be able to commit. Be honest and only say yes when you really mean it. If you say yes, then show up and follow through every time.
11. Stop being a victim
Boss being horrible to you? Partner snapping at you in the mornings? Kids being ungrateful? Horrible drivers driving up your ass on the highway? Shame, poor you. You really have to stop blaming everyone and everything else for the sad state state of your existence. Put on your big person panties and take ownership of your own life dammit! No-one is doing it to you, you're doing it to yourself. Start making choices that get results instead of whining about how hard your life is. Set up a meeting with your boss and resolve the issue. Have an honest talk in your relationship about what's really going on. Chat with your children and give them another perspective to consider. Drive in the right lane so you're not holding up traffic. Instead of constantly focusing on the problem and moaning about how unfair everyone is being, step into your power and start owning that you are the architect of your own life and can truly create it to be any way you want through your words and your actions. And the consequences are what you deserve. Your life is only in the state that it's in because every day you are choosing to say and do things that are manifesting that reality. So if you can create your own reality then why are you choosing this sad one? Don't like your life? Make better choices and take full and total responsibility for every single one of them. Watch how quickly things change.
12. Get spiritual dude
Meditation, it's not just for hippies. You have no idea what a massive difference a daily, spiritual practice can make in your life. Being stuck in your head and trying to think your way in to or out of situations isn't getting you very far. You have to operate from a deeper place within yourself if you want to get real. Taking time to meditate will open you up to a more profound, connected part of yourself where your intrinsic nature lies. Connecting to this inner self will amplify your knowledge about what is or isn't right for you without the shadow of self-doubt. Your stress levels will drop, your reactive nature will subside, your sense of awareness will become fine-tuned and you'll be operating from a powerful place of conscious intent instead of being on auto-pilot every day. All those little things that you allow to irritate you every day will slip away and you will experience a peace that you thought was only reserved for Tibetan monks in temples on hilltops. It's an extraordinary way to live, walking through life trusting your instinct and always being in touch with your 'self'. Say Ommm....
13. Respect your body
Stop treating your body like a dump site. It's the only one you've got. That heart has to keep pumping every day, your brain needs to keep you functioning every day, all your organs have to keep you healthy every day and what are you doing to help them? Nothing. Shoving fat and salt and sugar and alcohol and drugs and nicotine and caffeine down your throat every day is not an act of self-love. It's abuse. And you wonder why you're so tired and lethargic all the time. I've seen people at gas stations being obsessive about what type of fuel is being put in their car's tank while they're standing there eating a Twinkie. Like I said in number 2 on this list: you are the most important thing in your life. Not your car. Put better quality food into your mouth! Walk your body around the block every week so your battery won't die. Your organs are not infallible, they won't keep functioning properly when you treat them like shit. Imagine the quality of life you want to have when you're 70 and know that every choice you make today is going to have an effect on that version of yourself. What is it going to take for you to start respecting and cherish your magnificent body? A heart attack? Cancer? Diabetes? Please get honest with yourself about the true condition of your health and do something about it. This is an easy area to improve upon and you can get real right now. Drink a glass of water. Step away from the office vending machine. Do not go via that drive-though on the way home tonight. Make better choices that your future self will thank you for.
14. Stop asking for permission
Are you still in school asking the teacher for a hall pass? No? Then stop acting like it. No-one is the authority in your life except you! Do what you want. It's your life. Live it your way, follow your own rules, create your own intentions, have grand adventures, be wild, forge your own path, look how you want, express what is important for you. And if others don't like it, tough shit. Stop pandering. Are you here to live their life or yours? Go be a pathfinder and march to the beat of your own drum - it's a beautiful rhythm.
15. Let go
You cannot rescue other people from what they're going through and make them live a life that you think is better for them. Their experiences (good and bad) are there to teach them powerful lessons - don't get in the way. Read my post on "Letting go" to get this. Stop getting so wrapped up in other people's stories. You will see people you love going through relationship, financial, health & career troubles. Your heart will break for them, you'll want to do whatever you can to help. But be careful you don't get sucked into their story at the cost of your own. The only person you are responsible for is yourself. Release yourself from the need to change other people's lives, it's not your business or your right to do so. How much of your daily stress is actually about someone else's story? Let it go.