Last week, a good friend of mine told me that she knows that I put a lot of stock into positive reinforcement.
I had to take a breath when she said that because I’ve never thought of myself in that light. I strive (and sometimes struggle) to maintain a positive, can-do mental attitude, especially since I started working for myself.
But I’ve never defined that need or prerequisite for positivity in myself. It just is.
It’s funny how when someone outside of us, someone who’s unrelated to us, shares how they see us, it just clicks.
When I look back over the last 7-8 months, I can see some distinct changes in how I treat myself and my work. These changes are gradual and almost infinitesimal in certain ways. But when enough time has gone by — as it has — I think that those changes are more obvious. Patterns emerge.
What I realize, and what my friend was likely observing, is that I have become more open and receptive to ideas that I would all too easily have dismissed in the past.
Take, for instance, my newfound curiosity and respect for self-help. Whoa!
I never expected to be one of those people who would voluntarily seek out the wisdom and insights of so-called self-help or new age “gurus.” (And in even writing this last sentence, there is some resistance to it.) It has all felt a little too ‘woo woo’ to me.
A flip has switched within me though. I know it stems from the commitment I made to myself when I started my business that I would create a positive, productive environment for my work and my life, both internally and externally. I knew that this was something I would have to actively work on every single day, and there’s no harm in seeking help from respected corners.
That help has lead me to do so much research into not only business and work, but how other people sustain themselves. Where do they find the strength to stay mindful and focused?
This question very unexpectedly lead me to skim the self-help section at the local bookstore, library and online. I’ll admit that I sometimes read something or listen/watch something on YouTube and will scoff. This is total bs!
But lately, I’ve gotten into the habit of asking myself: What can I learn from this? How can I apply this idea/lesson in my life?
For example, I’ve been digging deeper into the work of Danielle LaPorte, an entrepreneur, motivational speaker and author. I came across her work years ago, but dismissed it. But when I took another look recently, something about it resonated and tugged at my mind. I’m so glad I’m giving her work a second chance because it is helping me create the internal/external environment I crave.
Another example is the work of Gabrielle Bernstein, a popular life coach and motivational speaker. I decided to give her book Spirit Junkie a try. Talk about ‘woo woo’! This feels far outside my comfort zone. I’m still reading it, and I won’t lie: I don’t always agree with her. In fact, many times, I feel myself rebelling against her ideas. But I’m giving it a chance because some of what she says is valuable food for thought.
It’s not easy, but I’ve found that reframing my cynicism or negativity has actually lead me to insights about myself, my values, what I want and how I see the world.
We’re told that keeping an open mind is really the best gift we can give ourselves, and I agree with that 100%. That’s not to say that we should accept everything at face value, but it does mean that if we dip our toes into new pools — even if it feels a little uncomfortable — we can be very pleasantly surprised.
So go ahead: explore the self-help section. I double dare you.