Sunday, June 30, 2013

10 Ways to Improve Your Self Image

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 When Ashley Monroe from my home town was 16, she recognized the need to do something drastic.  She was tired of hearing everyone in her high school putting themselves down.  She wrote, "You're Beautiful" on 1,986 sticky notes and placed them on every locker to make a statement.  My son was one of the recipients of these notes and was very touched by it.  Many of those students had gotten into a place where they were putting themselves down initially for attention but after a while, started to believe what they were saying about themselves.

It's a shame that so many of us see ourselves in a negative light.  I have spoken with so many people who are told they are beautiful but still choose to not believe it.  We are so busy criticizing ourselves and assuming what others are thinking about us and worrying about them judging us that we do not take the time to appreciate the good things about ourselves.

Back In Time

Let's stroll back in time and take a look at some of the things you remember being told about yourself.  Did people point out what they thought were your physical imperfections?  Did they tell you that you were not good enough at something you really wanted to do?  Did someone simply just have a way of berating you and making you feel "less-than?"  Or were you the culprit, keeping yourself down with negative self talk? You may have chosen to believe it simply because it was said or you heard it in your own voice. You may have even trusted the person it came from. 

We also watch what others do and are capable of and we compare our best to theirs and if we don't match that in our own eyes, instead of working harder, putting in the time and focusing on just improving where we start from, we lie to ourselves.  We say that we are not good enough to compete with them.  The thing is, often times we don't stop there.  Those thoughts start reminding us of all the ways we did not measure up in our own minds and we end up believing that we just aren't good enough, period.  This sets us up for all kinds of future issues.  Have you ever caught yourself doing this?

What you may not have realized was that you actually had the choice to hold on to it or discard it.  We also have the choice to believe that when it comes to competing, we should only compete with ourselves.  We all have our own starting points and should compare ourselves only to our most recent best.

Making the Change

Are you ready to put all of this behind you?  Only you have the power.  It may seem unnatural at first because of what you are used to, but if you make the following steps a habit, you will guarantee yourself some freedom from that negativity you keep hearing inside your own head.

1.  You must stop listening to other people's negativity.  If someone has something to say to you that is negative, dismiss it immediately.  Do not get defensive and argue about it with someone because adding emotion to the situation causes the memories and the pain of it to last longer.  Remember that some people are just insecure or angry and lash out at other people without regard for their feelings.  Often times it comes from insecurity and is not the truth.

2.  Always be aware of your thoughts.  Pay close attention to what you hear yourself saying inside your own head.  Follow the above instructions by dismissing the negative immediately.

3.  Question what you once thought was truth.  Realize that the only things that are actually true are things you decide to believe.

4.  Make a change only under your own terms.  For instance, if someone comments negatively about your weight, whether the scale reflects what they say or not, never make the change based on their comments.  Only make changes for yourself.  If you are not ready for the change and do something to make a statement based on someone else's judgment, any results you experience will not be lasting.

5.  Call the person out on it if you are comfortable.  State the opposite aloud.  If someone tells you that you're hair looks terrible, thank them and tell them that it wasn't them you were trying to impress and that you happen to like it that way.  Do not let them have power over your thoughts.

6.  Affirm the opposite.  In correlation with number 5, use a positive statement to counteract what someone has said or what you are saying in your head, such as, instead of, "I look fat in this dress," use, "I look amazing in this dress.  I am so glad I made the choice to wear it today," and BELIEVE that statement.  Affirming the positive will lessen the chances of the negative sticking in your head.  Creating any kind of affirmation and repeating it on a daily basis to counteract something you feel you are stuck on and posting where you can repeat it aloud before bed and in the morning is a very efficient way to create change.

7.  Eliminate past judgments.  For the old tapes we play in our head that were perhaps from ourselves, our parents, siblings, friends or relatives years ago, discard the tape or tape over it.  Remind yourself that the person may have thought they were helping you in some way but in no way were they telling you the truth. 

8.  Do the opposite. Perhaps you quit at something when you were young because you didn't like it.  It does not make you a quitter.  Find something you like and stick with it and you will create a new positive label.

9.  Forgive.  It is important when trying to let something go that you forgive the person who you feel is responsible for placing a label or negative thought in your head but at the same time realize, only you have the power to believe what someone says about you.  It does not need to be your truth. 

10. Simply relax and never, ever, take things personal.  This cannot be stressed enough.  So many things are said carelessly by others and once out of their mouths they have forgotten what they even said.  By taking something personal you are not only assuming how it was meant but you set yourself up to hold onto that negative.  Feel free to ask questions as to why the person said what they did.  Having clarification may help you to understand it was not meant as a personal attack.

Feel free to print these steps out and place them on your fridge or bathroom mirror where you can be reminded of them on a regular basis.

Taking these steps will hopefully start you in the right direction of starting to see yourself in a much kinder light and lead you toward a greater inner peace and happiness. This will alleviate some of the stress and anxiety you may feel when you are out amongst others.  Not everyone is judging you.  Most people who do not know you will look at you and look away without a second thought.  Those who interact with you, if they are a person of integrity, will see you for who you are through your personality.

One of my favorite quotes is from Bernard Burach which states, "Those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."  Keep this quote in mind when faced with the judgment of others.

Please discuss below ways you would recommend for other people to help them see themselves in a better light.

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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

How to Use Forgiveness as a Stress Reducer

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 We were enjoying ourselves at a fair the other evening when we were approached by a young man and his friend who were extremely angry.  They stood in front of my husband, son, friend and I and seemed over the edge as if they were ready to fight all three of us.  At first we had no idea what this man's problem was and we thought for sure it was a case of mistaken identity on his part.

He was very adamant that we, as a group, had a major issue with some people he knew.  As he went on and on, he became even more agitated and his stance was very threatening.  It was obvious that whatever it was this young man had thought we were involved in was extreme.  He felt so strongly that it was eating away at him.

I am a very non-confrontational person so I thought for sure he couldn't be referring to me. His name-dropping went on for a few minutes until he finally mentioned the name of one of our best friends.  He was convinced that we wanted to start a fight with our friend's sister and brother-in-law.

The interesting part was that it was the other way around.  My son had left his charger at our friend's house after we attended her son's birthday party and upon returning to retrieve it, he stomped loudly up the stairs to her second story apartment.  Her sister and brother-in-law lived on the first floor and came out threatening our son who was only 17 at the time.  After they were done verbally abusing him, they came outside and started screaming at the top of their lungs at us.  We were not interested in being involved in the drama and drove off.  As we did, they chased us down the street screaming at us.

This incident happened so long ago that we truly had forgotten about it.  But this young man standing before us had obviously held on to whatever story his parents had told him and was ready to fight three adults and a minor, whoever jumped first.  This anger did him no good.  We could have chosen to hang on to the anger of that situation.  We were the ones who were originally verbally attacked and the intensity of that situation would have made had most people calling the police, but we did not.  Time passed and we let it go.

I cannot imagine the stress this young man had been carrying with him all this time.  It was absolutely unnecessary.  I'm doubting that his parents told him the truth about the situation and what actually occurred and he was not there when it happened.  Yet, he held onto the anger that was created by a fabrication and exaggeration of a story he was told over a year and a half ago.

When we allow anger to occupy our thoughts, we decrease our own chance for happiness.  A positive thought cannot exist in the mind where there is a negative thought present.  When we learn to forgive people we are able to move on and free up space for positive thoughts. This can reduce stress and create greater possibilities and happiness in your life. 

Be mindful of your thoughts.  If you are holding a grudge for something you think someone did, said, or even thought, remember that it is not worth your own happiness.  You being angry at someone else does not change the situation; it only prevents you from moving forward.  It can actually keep you stuck right where you are.  It is equally true that you should not carry anger for other people.  Their drama is theirs to sort through, deal with and forgive.  You have enough in your own life to focus on.  Don Miguel Ruiz states, "Forgiveness is the only way to heal your emotional wounds.  Forgive those who hurt you no matter what they've done because you don't want to hurt yourself every time you remember what they did.  When you can touch a wound and it doesn't hurt, then you know you have truly forgiven."

Think about your recent past, your childhood, your family, people you no longer talk to.  Who do you need to forgive in order to move forward?  Write it in a note.  It's not necessary to give it to the person.  They may not even realize you have been carrying this with you or even understand why or how it has truly affected you.  Just let it go.  Rip up that note after it is written or burn it.  As you do, tell yourself that it is over and you are moving on.  Hopefully you will feel a weight lifted from your shoulders.

Forgiveness is just one step closer to peace.

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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Live By Your Own Rules - Stress Reduction Part 2

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 As a part of my reducing stress segment on this blog page, I'd like to take a few short minutes to talk about something important in my life right now. I hope that by the time you have finished reading it, you will be able to see things in a different light and perhaps it will help you reduce a bit of stress in your own life.

My latest post on FaceBook, "Life is too short to live by other people's rules" has prompted me to write this.  We do.  We live by other people's rules and we forget to listen to ourselves.  Some rules, of course are naturally meant to be followed in order to keep society from falling apart.  There are laws and basic guidelines that everyone should follow, one example being, the Golden Rule.  But we really should be listening to is ourselves.  We all lead different lives, even within a family unit.  We all experience events in our own unique way, with our own set of feelings toward it.  Therefore, it would only make sense that the rules that we set for ourselves must match who we are, not who someone else is.  It is what makes us unique.

Take some time to listen to yourself.  Find out who you are, where you want to go with your future, what you want from today, next week, next month and next year and make rules, set guidelines, create goals that are unique to you.  Break them down step by step and start where you stand, but start.

Progress will take time but you will learn to become your own person by doing this.  We all want to be a part of something, a family, a group of friends, a work group and society in general but often times lose ourselves by defining who we are based on what the group is or how we want the group to see us.  Break away from that definition (not necessarily the group) and define yourself as you truly want to see yourself.

I am a mother, wife, friend, daughter, sister, aunt, niece and so much more to everyone else but what is most important is who I am to me.

It is time to cast aside personal judgement and stop allowing others to judge you as well.  Remember, "What other people think about you is none of your business."  Go forth... LIVE BY YOUR OWN RULES!!

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Monday, June 17, 2013

The Affects of Stress and How to Begin Reducing It

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With some of the most major results of stress being deadly I feel it is important to start with this subject by helping you to gain a better understanding of stress, what causes it and how to reduce it. With this information we can begin our journey to a happier life with greater peace.

WebMD sights that, “90% of doctor related visits are due to stress related ailments or complaints.” With those numbers being so high, it is important that we all take as many steps as possible to reduce it.

Stress Defined
Stress is a major cause of a great number of illnesses that can be mild to severe, even deadly. What exactly is it? The best definition I found was from which states, Stress in humans results from interactions between persons and their environment that are perceived as straining or exceeding their adaptive capacities and threatening their well-being.”

I am currently working on a project to assist people like you in learning the necessary tools to reduce the effects by teaching you how to adapt easier when stress arises.

Stress comes in may forms, from many different directions and can send us over the edge in a matter of minutes but with the right techniques you can learn to cope quickly and get back in the game, making strides toward controlling the issues that caused the stress so they do not control you or your physical heath.

Stress is everywhere. We even cause our own stress when it is not necessary simply by the power of our own thoughts. That's why I chose the definition above. I would like to share with you and others methods of fighting back and regaining control over it by using certain tools and techniques that I will explain in detail in this blog and the program I will be releasing in a few weeks.

Side Effects of Stress
Long-term stress without relief will build up causing toxins in the body as well as in the mind. The following is a few short lists of some of the symptoms that could result from prolonged stress:

Emotional Symptoms
  • Depression
  • Losing touch of reality
  • Suicide attempts
  • Irritability and loss of temper
  • Higher tendency to turn to substances for relief
  • Inability to exercise self-control
  • Unable to use rational thought
  • Decrease in emotional awareness
  • Anxiety
Physical Symptoms
  • Ulcers
  • High blood pressure
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Heart attack
  • Obesity
  • High blood sugar and diabetes
  • Stroke
  • Asthma
  • Acid reflux disease
  • Cancer
  • Fatigue
  • Arthritis
  • Decreased metabolism
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Unexplained stomach issues including but not limited to vomiting or diarrhea
Results of Stress
  • Strain on relationships
  • Divorce
  • Abuse
  • Decreased sexual drive
  • Job loss
  • Loss of interest in hobbies
  • Seclusion
The lists above are short compared to the actual number of ways stress can attack our minds and bodies, the way it can control us and the fallout that manifests. If you think you may be in danger of stress having extreme effects on you, please seek professional help from your primary care physician or a therapist.

The types of stresses that people carry are as unique as the individual themselves. It could be something small such as an assumption of what someone thinks about you, anxiety over your child or a loved one's behavior, or as extreme as a prolonged major life changing event such as a job loss, divorce, death of a loved one or a life-threatening disease.

One thing that is often not considered is that prolonged minor stress can cause the effects that could lead to major stress. The cycle must be slowed and minimized in order to prevent this.

Stress Can Affect Brain Volume
In a January 2012 Article in Time written by Alice Park, she discusses an article written in the journal, “Biological Psychiatry” by Dr. Rajita Sinha, Director of the Yale Stress Center. Dr. Sinha reported on a study which stated that extremely stressful life events can lead to shrinkage in parts of the brain responsible for regulating emotions and metabolism and that a lifetime of stress can cause dramatic changes in brain volume especially in the frontal lobe which is responsible for self-control, emotions and physiological functions such as maintaining proper glucose and insulin levels.

A Few Ways to Reduce Your Stress Level
There are so many different techniques that they could not all possibly be expressed in one article. I hope to do that over time however, in order to assist you with better health and increased peace in your life by reducing some of your stress.

In closing, I would like to touch on a few things you can do immediately to reduce your current stress level. In upcoming blog articles I will go into further detail about additional techniques and give you tools to use. Please try incorporating a few ideas from the list below:
  • Choose to associate with positive people and lessen time with negative people
  • Increase your physical activity
  • Be aware of your thoughts
  • Delegate tasks when possible
  • Sleep 8 hours per night
  • Keep an ongoing list of what you need to accomplish
  • Make a schedule
  • Find a hobby that will allow you to take your mind off what you cannot change
  • Try Meditation or Yoga
These are some of the most well-known but often forgotten ways to reduce stress. It is a great beginning. Make the ones that suit you a habit and we will build from there.

Please return often for updated information and I encourage you to ask questions or comment below.

For further reading, see my sources for this article below:
Biological Psychiatry Journal

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Thursday, June 13, 2013

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WELCOME!  I am excited to be starting this blog site and I am grateful you have taken the time to check it out.  I hope you will subscribe and check back often.  It will be designed to assist you with the tools necessary to teach you how to reduce your stress and fears and unlock within yourself potential you never realized you had.

I have used these techniques to move to a different level in my life.  Granted, no one can be happy every minute of every day.  There are times when stress will grab a hold of you and it will not be as easy as other times to let it go, but if you are committed to following the steps I will be discussing, these tools will definitely assist you in lessening the level of stress and negativity and minimizing the length of time you experience it.  These articles and blogs will move you toward a more peaceful life.

I am currently writing a magazine and book on the subject as well as creating a program that will outline everything in detail and can be used in your everyday life to accelerate the process and keep you on track.  Keep your eyes open for those. 

Thank you for visiting and please recommend this blog to anyone you think could benefit from stress reduction and more peace in their lives.

Missy Cantlin Bell
(Like me on FaceBook at my "Words that Touch Your Heart" page.)

 (This blog site and all of it's material has been moved over to my own domain at  Please follow from there as this will not be receiving updates.  Thank you for stopping by.)