Acting In Support Of Yourself
The self-improvement journey is one that opens you up to a whole new world. You learn about yourself, and through that self-discovery there is one lesson that stands above all the others, act in support of yourself. Everything else flows from that.
If you want to act in support of yourself, then you first must learn to accept yourself. What better way to work on self-improvement than improving the way you view yourself. Self-acceptance requires numerous skills, but perhaps the key skill is the ability to shift or change your perspective.
You have to shift away from the judgmental stance you’ve held for so long and move into a neutral stance. Think of it as an observant or observing stance. When you become comfortable in that observing stance you will find your self-acceptance grow which will make it much easier for you to act in support of yourself.
If you are being honest with yourself you can admit that there are areas of your life and parts of you that don’t particularly like. You’re not alone in this. You might think you’re too lazy, not punctual enough, overweight, underweight, too selfish, too this, too that, and you might be those things.
But, ultimately, the message that you send yourself with these thoughts is that you just don’t measure up. You focus on the negative aspects of your negative traits and while this type of self-judgment is normal it isn’t helpful.
The human brain evolved in a bid to keep us safe. In the days of prehistoric humanity, that brain was all about keeping humans safe. It was about sticking with the pack and avoiding death when staring in the face of a ferocious animal who was in need of a snack.
The prehistoric brain urged us to fit in and part of sticking with the pack and fitting in with them left our brain with leftover data that influences us now. It’s why we feel compelled to make comparisons between ourselves and others and it’s why we adapt our behavior based on how others weigh in.
That being said, the human brain also developed the capacity to analyze situations critically. An important skill, one that we need, but one that isn’t particularly helpful in terms of self-acceptance.
There is no purpose in picking apart every aspect of your personality, appearance, or life. It’s too easy to focus on the flaws we perceive like telling yourself your backside is fat when it could just as easily be called curvy. It’s in the eye of the beholder.
That critical part of your mind isn’t helpful and it isn’t acting in support of yourself.
Enter the sunset mind (ref.). Think about a time when you have watched the sunset and imagine how beautiful it is. You don’t judge it, do you? You see the pinks, the shades of blue, and the purples shining through and you’re struck by its beauty. You don’t look at your friend and shake your head, commenting about the shade of pink clashing with the shades of purple. You simply drink it in and feel blessed to witness such a stunning view. That sunset mind is the mindset you need to hold for yourself.
So, when you feel negative thoughts about yourself creeping in, shift your mindset, and start thinking about yourself through the lens of the sunset mind.
If there’s one thing that self-improvement and acting in support of yourself hinges on your ability to take action regardless of discomfort or anxiety. If you can do what you value, then you have to be prepared to do so even if you’re standing in the midst of a hurricane.
Think about something you value and how far you would go to act in support of it? I am passionate about standing up for those who are unable to stand up for themselves. So, if I see someone being wronged, I will step up and open my mouth, regardless of the danger that may come my way as a result.
It isn’t always the wisest way to handle things, but it’s something I can feel bubbling up inside me when I witness someone being wronged. I am overwhelmed to the point that I simply cannot stand by and do nothing. I value equity.
However, when I am the one on the short end of the stick I am not as quick to stand up and act in support of myself. For some reason, it’s easier to clearly recognize an unfair situation when it unfolds in front of you and involves other people.
We have that ability to be objective in a way we don’t trust ourselves to be when dealing with our own issues. That has to change. We have to be more willing to stand in the midst of a hurricane in support of ourselves in the same way we do for others.
There’s another obstacle that stands in our way – emotions. Your emotions don’t have to be an obstacle, though. However, if you have paid any significant amount of time listening to your inner dialogue, then you will know how difficult they can be to overcome.
I‘m just too sensitive.
My emotions are just too much to handle.
I wish I didn’t feel like this. I don’t want to feel like this.
I wish all of these emotions would just go away.
While some emotions are painful, it’s important to understand that they are useful. Your emotions are like breadcrumbs just waiting for you to follow them to discover what you care about.
The Example Of Guilt
For example, guilt is an unpleasant emotion. It’s difficult to slice it any other way. However, your guilt can guide you to correct poor behavior. It can also guide you to mend broken relationships or situations. Parenthood is an excellent example of this. Often, parents make mistakes some of which are bigger than others.
A parent who walked away from their family in their child’s youth or a parent who struggled with addiction and recovered will likely experience heavy doses of guilt. That guilt is necessary because the only way to come to terms with the harm caused by their behavior is to accept their role. They may never make amends with their child, that child might be too hurt to come back to that relationship. However, for the parent, it’s an important part of their journey and the guilt was necessary in order to connect with their values and feelings.
Do you shy away from your emotions? They might not always feel great, but if you tune into them you will see they are there to guide you. By addressing those emotions, by leaning in and feeling them, by listening to what they’re trying to show you, you are acting in support of yourself.
Set Intentions That Are In Support Of A Better You And A Better Life
Think of an intention as a roadmap. It’s like drawing a roadmap to chart your path. It will be the driving force behind your visions and goals. If you do not set intentions, then you have no roadmap to follow. You’re simply driving aimlessly, no destination in sight.
Before we continue, it’s important to highlight how you cannot force intentions. The intentions that you set for yourself must be authentic. You can work intentions into meditation or even make them part of your positive affirmations. Below you will find a selection of sample intentions. This will help you set your own and give you a better idea of what we mean when we talk about them.
- I intend to manifest happiness.
- I intend to act in support of myself in every situation.
- I intend to serve as a role model.
- I intend to forgive myself and to forgive others.
- I intend to respond rather than react.
- I intend to distance myself from critique and not take everything so personally.
- I intend to shower myself with unconditional love.
- I intend to open my mind and heart to the abundance and success around me.
- I intend to make positive choices to act in support of myself.
- I intend to spread positivity to everyone I encounter.
What you need to remember with regards to setting intentions is this:
- Every intention should be positive. Whatever you choose, you need to put a positive spin on it. So, if your intention is to reduce your stress levels you can word it like “I intend to invite calm and peace into my life.” Choose uplifting, present tense, positive intentions.
- Every intention needs room to grow. Your mind’s interest is piqued when it meets something new. But it will eventually get bored with that new thing. So, if you stick to the same intention for too long your mind will simply stop responding. So, give your intentions plenty of room to evolve so you can adjust them to keep your mind’s interest piqued.Going back to the intention to invite calm and peace it can shift into “I intend to enjoy all of the calm and peace I create.” It’s more about polishing your intention than radically changing things up.
- Intentions should revolve around the short-term. It’s far more practical to set short term intentions than it is to look long-term. However, your short-term intentions should feed into your long-term vision. The best way to handle it is to break down your long-term intention, in this case acting in support of yourself, into smaller short-term intentions.
Once you have set your intention(s), you can incorporate them into your meditation or journaling process.
Set Healthy Boundaries
If you want to have healthy relationships and act in support of yourself, then you need to set and maintain strong boundaries. This is a skill and I cannot stress that enough. Unfortunately, it’s a skill that most people don’t learn. You have to put your mind to it. It begins with you knowing what your limits are, having a deeper understanding of your limits, and then setting and maintaining them.
If you do not know where you stand you will be unable to set strong boundaries. Identify your limits emotionally, spiritually, physically, and mentally. What can you tolerate? What can you accept? At what point do you feel uncomfortable? What makes you feel stressed out? Those are the feelings that will help you identify your limits.
There are two big emotional red flags that crop up trying to tell you that your boundaries have been breached. Resentment and discomfort. If you grade your emotions on a scale of one to ten (six being the higher end of the zone), you will know as your discomfort or resentment creeps higher then you know there is a problem.
The higher that number grows in a situation, interaction, or period of time, the bigger your problem is. When you experience this you have to ask what’s causing it, is it the situation, the person involved, the interaction itself? What’s going on.
Generally speaking, when resentment is involved it’s because you don’t feel appreciated or you feel as though you’re being taken advantage of. It’s typically a sign that you have been pushing yourself too far beyond your limits, whether it’s due to guilt or the expectations, values, or views others place on you.
If you feel uncomfortable with someone, it’s a sure sign they’re violating your boundaries.
Believe it or not, you don’t have to have a conversation about your boundaries to set or maintain them in every situation. This is particularly true when you’re dealing with people with similar views, values, communication styles, and personalities. You will approach someone as they approach others and that makes it easy to navigate boundaries.
Now, when you are dealing with different personalities or people who come from different cultural backgrounds then you will have to be upfront. You may believe it’s a healthy form of communication to challenge opinions or ideas, whereas, to someone else that could be disrespectful. That’s something you have to navigate.
In romantic relationships, no matter how well you know each other you will likely need to be direct about where your lines are. It requires a conversation to determine how much time apart is required to maintain good mental health, etc.
The biggest pitfalls to maintaining your boundaries are self-doubt, fear, and guilt. You get nervous as we anticipate people’s reactions to new boundaries. You may feel guilty about speaking up when it’s necessary. You may feel terrible at having to say no to someone you normally say yes to. It’s challenging. You will question yourself as you get push back, but you must give yourself permission to stay strong and commit to your boundaries.
Self-awareness is key because as stated earlier, your boundaries revolve around honoring your feelings and emotions. You need self-awareness to be aware of those emotions and to be aware of when things change and you’re no longer honoring those emotions and boundaries. It’s also important that you know why you respond the way you do in certain situations or when faced with particular people.
The Past And The Present
Your past can have more influence on your present than you’d care to admit. Often, your upbringing can heavily lead you in one direction and set your familial role in what feels like stone. This can result in a lot of obstacles in setting and maintaining boundaries. If your role was traditionally caretaker, it becomes very difficult to say no to people asking for help. But, if you ignore your needs to cater to the needs of others, you’re not acting in support of yourself.
What better way is there to act in support of yourself than by practicing self-care? Self-care helps you maintain both your mental and physical health and will empower you to maintain strong boundaries. Do not underestimate the power of self-care. Honor your needs. Honor your feelings. Honor yourself.
If you still struggle with setting and maintaining boundaries, then consider reaching out to someone you know will support you in your journey.
You can create boundaries, but unless you are strong enough to enforce them, they are worthless. The people around you cannot read your mind, it’s up to you to assert yourself and let them know when they cross the line.
With every new skill, it requires baby steps as you get started. Start with a small boundary that isn’t overly threatening and work up to the more challenging boundaries you’re dealing with. Set a foundation of success in small steps and build on that.
Identify And Rid Yourself Of Toxicity In Your Life
One bad apple will spoil the bunch. A saying that has somehow grown to mean oh, it was just one bad apple rather than its actual meaning of one bad apple can influence the entire bunch. That’s what toxic people are. That’s what toxic behavior is. If you have toxicity of any kind in your life then it will drag you down and keep you trapped where you are.
If someone is difficult, demanding, or unpleasant they aren’t necessarily toxic, but you may want to distance yourself from them. However, If you have people in your life who resent your growth, are constantly negative, try to get you to give in to your more negative habits, are always angry, or they are curl or manipulative, then you’re dealing with toxicity that you need to get rid of.
Signs Of Toxic People And Habits
- They aim to control you.
- They are all take, they never give back.
- They disrespect your boundaries.
- No matter what, they’re always right.
- They’re dishonest.
- They’re always the victim.
- They take no responsibility.
- They drain you of all energy and don’t improve your life in any way.
If any of these issues sound familiar, then you have toxicity on your hands. The question now is how do you get rid of it?
Firstly, it may blow up in your face. At least, that is the case if you’re cutting out a toxic person. That’s just due to the very nature of toxic people. It may be a long process because be honest, if they don’t respect your boundaries right now then it’s unlikely, they’ll magically respect them now. You might have to tell them multiple times ‘it’s over’ before they take it as your final decision.
- You don’t have to justify your decision. The more you explain the more they will try to talk you out of it. You can address your feelings and keep it calm, simple, and kind.
- If you believe a face-to-face conversation is necessary, then do so in a public place for your safety. Alternatively, you may find a letter a more appropriate path.
- It may sound harsh but close every window by blocking them on all social media platforms. Once you have had the conversation, you may want to block their phone number as well. It makes it impossible for them to guilt you into rekindling your friendship/relationship.
- This isn’t an argument. It’s not a negotiation. This is a restatement of your boundaries and an end to a toxic situation.
- As for the people who are draining, but not toxic, you can create distance between you by simply spending less time around them. Occupy your time with other activities and friends.
What about toxic habits? That all depends on the habit you are dealing with. If your issue is with substances, then you may need to enlist the help of a professional to navigate the situation. At the very least, you should reach out to a friend you trust and consider a program that will offer you support.
Seek A Supportive Social Circle
Healthy relationships can help you manage stress and improve your sense of wellbeing and overall health and wellness. Your social circle will provide you with the support that you need to act in support of yourself. Whether you have a tight-knit network of half a dozen friends or one profoundly supportive relationship, this reinforcement is what will help you stay the course.
- If you don’t have a social circle or your social circle isn’t supportive, then you should make an effort to meet new people. Seek out communities of like-minded people, whether it’s online or in-person. The more supportive people you have around you the better!
- If you don’t have a supportive social circle you might want to question why. Is it simply that life got too busy and you have insulated yourself, missing out on close relationships? If so, reach out to old friends and rekindle your connections. Make time for the people you already have in your life, whether it’s a phone call or a coffee and video chat.
- We already referenced the importance of assertiveness and that is an important part of building a supportive social circle. It ensures that your needs are met and that they are not the victim of the needs of others. What does that have to do with anything? Well, building it as a skill means you can build stronger relationships which will ensure they are open, lasting, and mutually supportive.
Just remember this. Whatever you expect from your friends…. You must reciprocate.
If you expect them to listen to you after you’ve had a difficult day, then you should be prepared to hear their troubles. Talk about their feelings as often as you talk about yours. Reflect on what they have said to ensure you understand them. While a lot of people get caught up exchanging stories, sometimes it’s more important that you listen and make it about their feelings, not your past experiences.
Likewise, pay attention to your feelings and emotions when you’re around people. Are there people who energize you? Are there people who make you feel at ease? Are there people who make you feel uncomfortable?
If you walk away from social situations drained and anxious, then listen to your intuition and reassess your relationship. Don’t feel bad about ending friendships, not everyone likes everyone. And it’s possible to outgrow friendships as well. People change, you don’t have to hold on.
Believe In Yourself
If you can learn how to believe in yourself then there is no limit to possibilities. It’s one of the most important aspects of self-improvement and certainly, to ensure you always act in support of yourself. Unfortunately, society has conditioned us to doubt ourselves and it requires retraining to get out of that mindset and avoid self-doubt and fear. Everything in your life is a result of self-belief and the more self-belief you possess the more successful you can be.
- No matter what others say, no matter what others think, no matter what your current situation… if you believe that it’s possible, then you are capable of making it a reality.
- Don’t be afraid to visualize your life exactly as you would imagine it to be in your dreams. It’s a powerful motivational tool.
- There is power in visualizing and there is even more power in acting as though you have already achieved it. There is power in acting as though you are already the person you want to become. There is power in being consistent with your behavior and mirroring your future self in the present.
- Your goals are nothing if you are not prepared to take action. Fear can’t stop you, it can’t hold you back. If you want to improve then you have to take action.
Decide What You Want And Go After It
When you were a child and someone asked you what you wanted to do when you grew up, how did you answer? It’s a question that you likely answered regularly throughout your childhood. Eventually, adulthood arrived and you had to make a decision.
Your brain was not yet fully formed, but you had to make major life decisions for your future self. You are probably not that same person now, now is the time to decide what you want and go after it.
If you’re intent on improving yourself and acting in support of yourself, then deciding what direction you walk is important.
Take the Wheel
What you expected to make you happy in the past, might not be enough to make you happy now. There’s no reason to damn your past self, only to take control now. It’s never too late to take control of your own happiness. That’s what likely started your path to self-improvement, that’s what led you to this point, and made you think about how you could act in support of yourself. No matter what pattern you are caught in, it isn’t too late to change it.
If you spent more time listening to yourself then you would likely have realized years ago what it was you really wanted. Deep down, we always know. The problem is we rarely listen to ourselves.
Sometimes you need to ask yourself incisive questions to get to the heart of the matter.
- What do you want?
- What do you want to do?
- What tasks interest you the most? What skills do you rely on the most?
- What skills do you enjoy exercising? What hobby would you adore to turn into your job?
- What would you like life to look like?
- What is the ideal version of you? Who would you be if you could be anyone?
Forget your preconceived notions, let go of assumptions, let go of excuses, and open yourself to the possibilities the world has to offer. You decide what’s possible. Only you.
The world and people around us have a lot to do with the beliefs we hold. They have a lot to do with the doubt we feel and even more to do with our compulsion to compare. You realize internally that there is doubt because you know there’s something whispering that change isn’t viable… if you believed it was wouldn’t you have done it a long time ago?
Let this be a line in the sand. Start by letting go of everything that’s holding you back. Forget what you believe to be practical. Forget what you once thought was impossible.
If you want to find real self-improvement then you have to let go of all of that nonsense and realize it’s up to you to shape your perceptions. Your parents made their decisions for themselves, perhaps they were influenced by their own parents. That time is over. You get to be the person you want to be. You get to have the career you want. You get to live life how you want to live life. Don’t let others limit you.
It’s Wide Open
You choose happiness. You find the assumptions and perceptions that hold you back. You challenge and change them. And as a result, the world is wide open to whatever you want to get from it.
We’re all different and the process may take you longer than it would for others, but this path is your own.
Whether you’re looking to improve personally, professionally, or both… you create the possibilities of getting whatever you want. Now you can answer the question of what you want more clearly and when you do… be bold.