My kids have always liked to run and play in the rain. I thought it was kind of cute, but I always stayed in the house watching them enjoy themselves. A couple of years ago, I realized that I'd been living small, sad and nowhere near my potential. As I was heading toward my 50th birthday, I decided to change all that. Recently, I realized I'd made significant positive changes when a warm summer rain enticed my children and dog outside, and I decided to join them. My husband took a picture of that moment and when a friend saw it he asked me to tell him my path to dancing in the rain. Here are the three changes that made the biggest difference in my personal development to joy:
1. Stop worrying about what others think of you. This doesn't mean that you should say or do anything that you feel like doing. I'm still kind, polite and hopefully thoughtful, but I no longer concern myself with the judgment of others. I was terrified to write a blog but then when I thought carefully about the worst-case scenario (people not liking it or leaving rude comments) I realized that I had absolutely nothing to lose by writing it. I had similar thoughts about my appearance, my children, my work and even my dog. I can't control what others think so why spend any time worrying about it? I do my best. I try to do it with integrity and care. How other people respond to that is completely up to them and not at all my problem.
2. It's not about you. I started to realize that I personalized so many things that people said and did which I assumed were about me. Apparently, I'm just not that important and that people's bad moods, bad attitudes, rude behavior, or snarky attitude is rarely about me and almost always about them. I've worked hard to limit time with people like this simply because they are unpleasant but not because I feel bad about myself when I'm with them. Making assumptions about others thoughts or feelings is doomed to disaster. If someone is being rude to you, either nicely ask them why, ask them to stop, or limit your time with them. People who spend most their time criticizing others either have too much time on their hands or are miserable themselves. Neither is about you so why spend your time worrying about it?
3. Face your fears today. What are you most afraid of? Asking for a raise, a divorce, more love and attention from your family, writing a book, speaking in public, changing a career, or starting a new career? Whatever it is, look at it and confront it now. When I look back at the greatest leaps in my life they came from me facing my biggest fears. Yet here's the funny thing. The majority of what I was most afraid of turned out to not be a very big deal. What are you avoiding in your life? Most likely, that is what you are fearful of and today is the day to face that. Get clear on your fear, figure out the first step to move forward and then do it. You won't regret it.
So how are you playing small? What will it take to change that? If you need children or dogs for inspiration, you may borrow mine but you have to return them. The days and the years will tick away whether you want them to or not. One of my clients said to me recently, "I can't believe I'm as unhappy as I was a year ago. I don't want to spend one more day feeling like this." And she took the first step to changing her life for the better. What are you tolerating and aren't you ready to stop doing that and start dancing in the rain?
Lisa Kaplin is a life coach and psychologist at www.smartwomeninspiredlives.com
You can reach her at Lisa@smartwomeninspiredlives.com
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