Discovery Finds Link Between the Brain and the Immune System

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In a stunning discovery made by the University of Virginia’s School of Medicine, researchers have overturned decades of textbook teaching by determining that there is a direct correlation between the brain and the immune system. For years scientists have been trying to correlate the relationship between the two, yet they lacked the evidence to show how our thoughts and feelings (or neurochemistry) could affect our overall health. This groundbreaking finding could have significant implications on our understanding of how the brain and immune system interact, as well as enable scientists to target the immune system for the benefit of the brain.

What this correlation hopes to uncover is the understanding of how inflammation begins to create—and is responsible for—certain diseases. For instance, with diseases such as Alzheimer’s, rheumatoid arthritis, atherosclerosis, multiple sclerosis, lupus, and autism, when the immune system is suppressed and inflammation goes up, either diseases are activated in the body or the symptoms of the existing diseases are exacerbated. Why? Because when we’re living by the hormones of stress for extended periods of time, inflammation diminishes and compromises the function our immune system.

“It’s crazy, but maybe we are just multicellular battlefields for two ancient forces: pathogens and the immune system. Part of our personality may actually be dictated by the immune system,” said Jonathan Kipnis, chair of UVA’s Department of Neuroscience.
This exciting new breakthrough in science could explain why we’re seeing so many amazing healings in our workshops. In meditation, as our students move into elevated states of being by embracing feelings of love, joy, gratitude, their future, etc., these feelings drive new modes of thinking. This in turn creates new brain chemistry, brings our brains into coherence, and engenders new synaptic connections—which then influences our bodies in very immediate and direct ways.

As people begin to overcome emotional states that keep them connected to past experiences—as they break out of redundant habits and automatic programs, as well as change certain self-destructive attitudes and beliefs—aspects of their immune system up-regulate genes. This means that their thoughts and feelings are signaling cells within the body’s internal defense system to turn on healthy genes to make better proteins—otherwise known as healthy anti-bodies—as well as a host of other beneficial chemicals to balance and regulate the body. This process in turn reduces inflammation, suppresses tumors, mobilizes enzymes, and so on.

So the next time you sit down to create a better life, a healthier body, or a new experience, just remember that your brain and body have never been separate and the bridge between them is your immune system. You see, your body has always been spying on your brain. So why not use your nervous system—the greatest pharmacist ever—to activate your body’s internal army to create order for you every day? You don’t even need a prescription.

Photos by LuciaJoy

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New Map Of The Brain Identifies 97 Previously Unknown Areas

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by Bahar GholipourIf you ask a neuroscientist to show you a map of the brain, chances are they’ll pick one that’s more than a century old…


In 1909, a German anatomist named Korbinian Brodmann published an intricate map of the brain’s surface. He painstakingly stained brain cells of many kinds to find the anatomical features that set them apart and the rules that governed their layered organization. We now know that neurons that sense a touch on the skin are found in Brodmann area 1; those allowing you to read this article sit in area 17.

Now, scientists have built an updated map of the brain that further refines those areas. Published Wednesday in the journal Nature, the map reveals 97 previously unknown areas of the brain’s surface (the cortex), in addition to 83 areas that were described before.



Unlike Brodmann’s and other brain maps built using just one property (how the cells looked under a microscope, for example), the new atlas is made by combining several types of data that capture multiple properties of these brain areas: their anatomy, their function and the connections between them.

The data was gathered using multiple non-invasive brain imaging measures from 210 people in the NIH Human Connectome Project, and the accuracy of the resulting map was confirmed on another group of 210 people.

The study authors hope that “researchers who have previously used Brodmann’s map to identify brain areas will use this new map from the Human Connectome Project instead,” said Matthew Glasser of Washington University in St. Louis, the study’s lead author.

According to Glasser and his colleagues at six other research centers, combining anatomical data with functional data from fMRI brain scans has allowed for more precise delineation between brain areas.

For example, an area that may look indistinguishable from its neighbor under the microscope or on MRI scans may light up on fMRI scans that measure brain activation during a specific mental task and thus stand out as a distinct region.

“The situation is analogous to astronomy where ground-based telescopes produced relatively blurry images of the sky before the advent of adaptive optics and space telescopes,” Glasser said in a press release.

An example of a map of brain activation used in building the brain atlas. The image shows brain areas that activate (red, yellow) and deactivate (blue, green) as people listened to stories while in the fMRI scanner. 

Researchers hope that a more precise division of the brain can prevent potential confusion in neuroscience studies that may be looking at overly broad areas ― and lead to new discoveries.

The map is a “long-awaited advance,” said B. T. Thomas Yeo and Simon Eickhoff, two neuroscientists not involved in the study, in an accompanying article in Nature. They added that it creates a reference atlas that allows neuroscientists studying various aspects of the brain to work within a common framework.

Source: The Huffington Post

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3 Types of Soulwork That Instantly Free You of Fear, Guilt and Resentment

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3 Types of Soulwork

Without dedicating ourselves to discovering the voice of the soul, so many of us are lost in life. From the moment we wake up to the moment we fall asleep we are bombarded with a constant stimulation of the senses. This leaves us in an almost schizophrenic state where we confuse our thoughts with reality. Some […]

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Need To Talk To Someone? 10 Qualities Of A Caring Confidant

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I have never been someone who can keep my problems to myself or deal with them quietly and stoically.

If something is going on in my life that’s difficult or painful, I have to talk about it with someone. Talking about it helps me to process the situation, and it relieves the tension and anxiety that comes with ruminating.

I’m not always looking for a solution from the other person. Sometimes I just need a listening ear so I can unpack all of the emotions and gain more clarity about the problem.

Unfortunately, it took me a while to discover that not everyone is a good confidant. There are some people in my life with whom I can share the most private and painful feelings without concern. But there are others who are not empathic, trustworthy listeners.

Not everyone feels as comfortable as I do sharing their innermost feelings and painful challenges. They keep things inside and try to manage their problems and emotions alone.

This reticence might be part of their personality, or maybe they were taught as children not to “burden” others with problems and feelings. Some people keep things to themselves because they fear others might judge them or look down on them.

Or maybe, like me, they’ve bumped into people who did not treat their confidences with dignity and respect. Maybe they were even betrayed by someone they thought was a friend.

Whatever the reason, there are those who find it daunting to open up and talk about their problems with another person, even as they are suffering in silence with the anguish of their situation. Maybe this is how you feel.

Stuffing your feelings and trying to manage your problems alone is not a healthy way to cope with the inevitable ups and downs of life. Even if it feels uncomfortable or “weak,” talking to someone about your problems has many emotional and health benefits:

  • It can improve your mood and help prevent stress, anxiety, and depression.
  • It helps you find solutions and deal with challenges as you articulate the emotions and challenges.
  • You feel less alone and isolated with your problem when you share it with some.
  • If you are already depressed, you heal more quickly. Studies show that people with good social support get over depression faster and experience less severe symptoms.
  • When our perceptions are clouded by painful emotions, other people can help us see things more clearly and rationally.
  • Expressing emotions helps reduce the chances of acquiring stress-related health problems like muscle aches and tension headaches.

It’s clear that sharing your problems and feelings helps you cope and reduces the burden of bearing them alone. The key is finding the right person or people to listen and support you.

Do you need to talk to someone? Here are 10 qualities to look for in a caring confidant:

1. Active Listener

A good confidant is someone who not only listens but who makes you feel heard.

They pay full attention when you are sharing your feelings and show that they are listening with eye contact, nodding, affirmative words, and affection.

An active listener doesn’t need to offer advice (unless it’s ask for) or deflect the conversation to their own problems. They are fully present for you and willing to validate the pain or discomfort you are feeling.

2. Empathetic

The best kind of support person not only sympathizes with what you’re going through but also feels what you are feeling. They empathize with your confusion, pain, or self-doubt, and they want you to know how much they understand you.

They have walked the walk and can share some of the burden of your feelings because they have experienced something similar themselves.

An empathetic listener allows you to feel less alone with your challenge and helps you realize that you will survice this challenge and move past it.

3. Trustworthy

The last thing you need when you’re going through a challenge is someone who gossips about you or betrays your confidence.

You want a support person who treats your pain or difficulty with dignity and respect. They are capable of keeping their mouths shut, even when it’s tempting to share a juicy piece of information or unburden themselves of your problem.

They have the integrity to honor your personal information by keeping it to themselves, even when you haven’t specifically asked them too.

4. Nonjudgmental

It’s difficult to share something deeply personal, perhaps something that causes you guilt, shame, or regret, if you fear the listener will judge you harshly.

You need a support person who can listen and show empathy without casting blame, acting superior, or passively making you feel bad about yourself or the situation.

The best confidant is someone who recognizes the “humanness” in all of us — who has made mistakes themselves and understands the deep need to be loved and accepted in spite of our flaws.

5. Authentic

A caring support person is someone who is true to themselves, who doesn’t put on an act or try to play a role that feels false.

They can be vulnerable and open about their own challenges, emotions, and fears, making you feel more connected to them.

Authenticity is hard to quantify, but you know it when you see it. The person is open, straightforward, and without guise or pretense.

6. Self-Aware

A big part of authenticity is self-awareness. Self-awareness is the ability to have introspection and to examine your own motives, desires, flaws, and responses.

A self-aware person has a better capacity to understand and empathize with others because they have plunged the depths of their own inner world.

They have a more intricate and complex perspective of the human condition and can therefore understand and relate to ambiguities, complicated emotions, and difficult decisions.

7. Calm

When you are going through a difficult time, you don’t need someone who will fall apart, get hysterical, or behave dramatically.

You’re already feeling highly emotional or even ready to fall apart yourself. You need a steady hand and a calm disposition to keep you grounded and rational so you can think about solutions to your situation.

The best support person is the one who can remain unperturbed and focused in order to help you take the best actions.

8. Perceptive

Sometimes it is difficult to see the forest for the trees when you’re in the midst of a challenge. Your emotions might cloud your judgment, or they might make it difficult for you to take action at all.

A good support person can look at the situation objectively, see what you aren’t able to see, and kindly point out alternative points of view or a better course of action.

They can see through the fog of fear and confusion you’re feeling to get to the meat of the situation and help you clarify it.

9. Patient

Most life challenges take some time to sort through. When you have strong emotions, it can take hours or days just to settle your feelings in order to really address the problem.

You need a confidant who is patient with you, even if you get stuck or angry. Sometimes you just need them to sit with you and listen as you vent the depths of your despair or frustration.

It’s not always easy for a support person to patiently listen without offering solutions or telling you to “just get over it.” But this patience pays off because it gives you the space you need to process your feelings and figure out your next steps at a pace that is right for you.

10. Optimistic

When we’re going through a challenge, we all want to feel hope. We want to believe that things will work out for the best and that something positive will emerge from the difficulty we’re experiencing.

Having someone in your corner who sees the glass half full and who has the clarity to recognize that “this too shall pass” will give you the strength and courage to keep going.

A happy, positive person (who isn’t offering false cheerfulness or unrealistic outcomes) will buoy you as you work toward solutions and heal from your pain.

If you are going through a life challenge and need someone to talk to, don’t go it alone. Look around at your family and friends. Which of them have most of the qualities listed above?

Reach out to this person and ask if they are willing to provide a listening ear to help you cope with your challenge. If they are empathic and caring, they will likely be flattered that you reached out to them.

If you can’t find someone in your circle you can to talk to, consider finding a licensed counselor who has these qualities. They are legally bound by confidentiality, and a good therapist has been trained to develop these interpersonal skills.


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How to Save a Relationship or Marriage {Q&A}

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How to Save a Relationship

All good things eventually come to an end, but in the realm of relationships, many good things appear to end before their time. Conflicting personalities, financial stress, mental illness, addictions and affairs are all responsible for putting a once-harmonious relationship on the rocks. Other quieter problems such as incompatible beliefs, goals and dreams can all […]

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Your Inner Voice: Filtering Out Your Critical Voice to Find Your Loving Voice

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We all have an inner critic filling our heads with a negative commentary about our own behavior and worth.

The mean-spirited voice in your head can make you feel like your own worst enemy.

I wrote last time about how I lived with a toxic family member who frequently criticized, rejected, and called me names while I was growing up.

I learned the language of the critical voice early and often. Due in part to these experiences, I have struggled greatly with my own negative self-talk.

However, individuals who have had loving, supportive upbringings will find that they too still have a critical voice of varying degrees living inside of them.

We’ve been taking in these negative messages all our lives from all around us – family, friends, bullies, teachers, coworkers, movies, TV shows, advertisements, magazines, and more.

“Big surprise! I have screwed up again.”

“I am a complete fraud.”

“What is the matter with me?”

“I will never be able to do this.”

“No one could love me.”

Sound familiar?

Constantly being berated by the critical voice in your head can lead to low self-esteem. Low self-esteem then leads to a myriad of potential mental health and wellness challenges.

Some of these include:

  • hypersensitivity to having feelings hurt
  • issues in romantic relationships
  • isolation and loneliness
  • fear and anxiety
  • depression
  • mood swings
  • decreased job performance
  • impaired career development
  • drug and alcohol abuse

The critical voice will also try to persuade us to make self-destructive choices.

It comes from a place of fear — fear that we are not smart enough, pretty enough, talented enough.

Since we will never be “anything” enough, it tells us that we should just give up. Stop trying. Hide away. Don’t do that.

Additionally, the inner critic often contributes to feelings of shame. Some people, intentionally or not, use shame as a motivator for changing behavior. In truth, this is not healthy or effective.

Guilt allows us to recognize that we have done something bad, while shame tells us that we are a bad person.

Author and researcher Dr. Brené Brown, who has spent years studying vulnerability and worthiness, says, “Shame corrodes the very part of us that believes we are capable of change.” The critical voice is not your conscience.

With some awareness, we can begin to recognize when the critical voice rises up with fear, shame, or other hurtful thoughts, and then we will be able to deal with it accordingly.

The first act in doing so is fostering the ability to identify that inner critic.

The critical voice will often come up in one of these 10 unhelpful thinking styles:

1. Personalization: Blaming yourself for something that was out of your control
. For example, “If I’d been a better parent my daughter wouldn’t have failed that test.”

2. Labeling: Assigning a label to yourself based on a single or limited experience. “I didn’t do the laundry today. I am such a lazy person.”

3. Shoulding: Making statements with “should” or “must” which utilize guilt as a motivator
. “I should be eating vegetables instead of this popcorn.”

4. Emotional Reasoning: Believing that because you feel something it must be true
. “I feel unlovable, so I’m sure no one loves me.”

5. Catastrophizing and minimalizing: Making a big deal out of something small, and diminishing the importance of something big
 — “I made a mistake on the report. Now I’m going to get fired, have no money, and lose my house.”

6. Jumping to conclusions: Predicting the future and making assumptions about what others are thinking
. “I’m sure those people are laughing at me.”

7. Disqualifying the positive: Discounting positive experiences or good things that you have done
. “He was only complimenting me to be polite. He didn’t actually mean it.”

8. Mental Filter: Only noticing negative evidence while ignoring positive experiences
. “I received one ‘Needs Improvement’ on my evaluation. I’m so bad at my job.”

9. Overgeneralizing: Creating a pattern based on one or two events and being overly broad in drawing conclusions
. “This is so typical. Nothing good ever happens to me.”

10. All or nothing: Categorizing yourself or events as either/or without any middle ground
 — “If this project isn’t perfect, then I have failed.”

Everyone experiences all of the 10 types of unhelpful thinking styles at some time or another in their life.

Generally, though, we each struggle the most with a specific few. I know for myself that labeling and “shoulding” are the big challenges for me.

Unfortunately, we are biologically wired by something called the “negativity bias” to hear negative comments louder than positives ones. This is an evolutionary trait left over from when humans were dealing with more immediate life-or-death circumstances.

In relationships and even the business world, research has shown that we need to hear about five positive comments for every one negative comment to maintain a healthy balance.

Thinking about your own self-talk, are you matching this ratio?

If not, here is a 5-step process to change your inner voice:

Step 1 – Be Aware

The first step is simply becoming aware of these thoughts without judgement.

Right now your negative thoughts are just your automatic thought response because that’s the neural pathway in your brain that is being used most often.

Can you identify which styles you experience most often?

As you go on throughout your day, keep these unhelpful thinking styles in mind. Just notice which style your critical voice is using in any given situation as conflict or challenges arise.

This process is especially effective when you keep a thought record on paper or even on your phone.

Step 2 – Separate

It is often helpful to get our thoughts outside of our own heads.

Thoughts have a tendency to get out of hand in there, whereas writing them down or speaking them can make them become clearer.

While reviewing your critical thoughts, change them from first person into second person. For example, “You didn’t do the laundry today. You are such a lazy person.”

Pretend that someone else is talking to you and saying this negative remark. What do you notice and feel about the statements?

You may find them to be judgmental, hurtful, or completely unwarranted.

Notice how hearing this in the second person makes you feel. They may be harder to hear and make you more uncomfortable.

Step 3 – Interrupt

Once you are paying attention, you can begin to regularly shift your focus away from your critical voice and toward your loving voice.

Over time this will start to break the habit of these unhelpful thinking styles.

When you recognize your critical voice in the moment, speak up against it. Interrupt that thought by literally thinking or saying, “No.”

Then move on to implementing step 4 right away. Once you have stopped this critical voice in its tracks, you can flip it on its head.

Step 4 – Challenge

Your thought is only that: a thought. Just because you think something doesn’t make it true. It’s time to challenge the critical voice with that of a loving voice.

For each of the critical thoughts, write or say an alternative.

These will be back in the first person. Your alternative thought or statement should channel that of an unbiased observer or friend.

It can also be helpful to think of how you would lovingly talk to a friend or family member.

Using the above remark, “You didn’t do the laundry today. You are such a lazy person,” as an example, the alternative could be something like, “Just because the laundry didn’t get done, doesn’t mean I’m lazy. I didn’t do the laundry today because I spent my time in other worthwhile activities.”

Step 5 – Transform

Thanks to our brain’s ability to create new neural pathways, change is always possible.

The neural pathways in the brain transmit messages, and the more often a certain pathway is used, the more likely it is to be used in the future as an initial response.

By turning away from your critical voice and toward your loving voice, you are literally building up new neural pathways in the brain.

The more they are reinforced, the easier this process will become.

Once you begin putting this into practice regularly, your loving voice will become the dominant voice and eventually even your automatic response.

We all experience moments of self-defeat, but the inner critic does not have to rule our minds. Each one of us can take away its power by learning to filter out our critical voice and find our loving voice.

As you become aware of your inner critic, separate yourself from it, interrupt, and challenge it, you will see a transformation in your mind and your mood. Instead of living in a place of fear or shame, you will grow in confidence and self-esteem.

Soon you will find you have a renewed sense of strength and energy for life.

Your inner voice will become a source of support and encouragement. Work toward your goals. Try new things. Be vulnerable with other people. You have the power, and you can tell yourself so.

Grace_HeadshotGrace is a writer and blogger at Heartful Habits. Heartful Habits is a place of inspiration for what Grace calls living mindfully and heartfully. She loves learning and sharing about wellness tips, natural remedies, beauty DIYs, green cleaners, healthy recipes, social issues, and more.

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Building Self-Esteem: 5 Simple Actions To Embrace Your Own Awesomeness

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“Things aren’t going well in my work. I just can’t seem to see my way out of it. Maybe I’m just a big fat failure,” said of my new clients on a call.

I felt so much empathy for her. Who hasn’t been tempted to call herself a failure, taking the circumstances of the moment and turning it in a self-description?

Our work together became first to separate her own identity from her circumstances, and then to work on the thinking and actions that would move her into a new experience.

For the entrepreneurs and leaders that I work with as a coach, maintaining good self-esteem is crucial. When you have your own business, your well-being is tied to the well-being of your business. Having an energy that is self-confident and having clarity about your own value allows you to be the person you need to be to lead.

This isn’t just true of business. In any work, and life, being able to literally lead your own life is connected to recognizing how valuable you are, and how much value you bring to other people and situations.

No matter where you are in your own self-esteem journey, taking action can be clarifying and empowering.

Here are 5 actions I’ve shared with my clients for building self-esteem:

1. Know who you are.

You are not your work or your relationships or your family.

You are You. Beautiful. Uniquely you. The holder of many gifts.

The being who deserves love and connection and joy.

To receive that experience, learn who you are. Going on a journey of self-discovery is always valuable, and it especially helps your self-esteem.

  • There are many ways to self-explore. Contemplative practices like meditation can help you get in touch with your own inner voice, your inner wisdom. Exercise in different ways, like kayaking or creative dance. Learn about yourself through something you love to do. Pick a hobby you’ve always wanted to explore and try it.
  • Make a list of the skills and qualities that you have. Sit down with your journal or computer and think of what you’re able to do, the skills and qualities you’re able to offer.

If you find this hard to do, you can ask for help. Here’s a quick way to gather the information you need.

Ask 10 people who know you and value you to provide a list of attributes that describe you. Send a quick email that explains you’re on a mission to know yourself better and learn how others perceive you. Most people will be very glad to help.

When you’ve collected all this information, you’ll have a list of the ways people see you. Some you’ll recognize. Several may be repeated. Put those at the top of your list. Others may surprise you. Those will open you to a different way of thinking about yourself and your value.

  • Know what you believe and decide how you want to show up. I work with my clients to find out what impact they want to have, what positive contribution they want to make, the legacy they want to leave behind them, even if they’re just walking out of a room. What do you value most? What do you believe is most important? When you know that, you can make great choices about how you choose to consistently show up in the world.
  • Stop the comparison game. You don’t have to compare yourself to anyone. You can choose to improve on you. There is always someone who has more than you, has done more than you, or is better at something than you. Compare yourself instead with the previous you. See how far you’ve come.

2. Value yourself first.

Part of knowing who you are is to recognize your own value. Bottom line? Others can’t value us when we don’t value ourselves. So how can you value yourself, especially if you’re not feeling so awesome about how you’re doing?

  • One way to do this quickly was recommended to me by life coach Martha Beck. Her advice was to begin with small things. Make each moment an opportunity to recognize and act on what would please you most. We all make dozens of decisions a day that are inconsequential to anyone else, but bring us joy. Choose your favorite mug instead of just picking the first one off the shelf. Skip as you walk the dog instead of just plodding along. Take time to shower and groom yourself. Wear something you think is pretty. What small thing would please you?
  • Create space for yourself each day. We can get into a habit of reacting to what everyone else wants, or what we ‘should’ be doing. Carve out even 15 minutes a day to do exactly what you wish.
  • Give yourself a good foundation for the day. Get up an hour or even a half hour early for a morning ritual of practices that support you. Meditate. Read something uplifting. Exercise. Eat a nourishing breakfast. Experiment with what feels best to you.

In the evening, reflect back on your day. Notice what went well. Celebrate your accomplishments, no matter how small. This has a cumulative effect that makes a big difference.

Whatever you choose to do as your daily practice, stay with it. Do each item in your ritual each day, even if it means just a few minutes of each. That will help you establish your new habit.

  • Prepare. If you have a difficult situation at work, then prepare for it. Research what you need to know. Practice what you’ll say. Rehearse with someone else so you can respond more easily to questions.
  • Be your own best advocate. Take control of your self-esteem. You are your own best advocate. You know what you mean and what you want. Speak up for that, in your own way, even if you’re someone who can see different points of view.

This doesn’t have to mean standing up in front of a crowd to voice your views. It can be done with writing, or a quiet conversation with one other person. Your point of view matters too. So let it be heard. You are worth it.

3. Place yourself where you can add real value.

It’s hard to flourish when you’re in a job, business, or life that doesn’t suit you. It erodes your self-esteem. When you can find the place where your greatest skills and assets can really be used, and in a way you really enjoy, then you can bring the most value.

One of the reasons that people leave their jobs and start a business is that they see where they can add more value. They want to be able to create the environment that allows them to do that.

If you suspect you’re in the wrong work or personal situation, one way out of it is to first imagine the best life you could have. An exercise I have people do is one I call, The Best Day At Work Ever! You can do this exercise with your personal life too.

To do an abbreviated version yourself, ask yourself these guiding questions about your best day. What are you doing? Where are you – city? Country? Beach? What’s immediately around you – what is the room or environment like? Who is with you? What are they doing?

Describe your best day in as much detail as you can manage. Paint yourself a really vivid picture, either with words, or literally with art supplies or using photographs that you cut out of a magazine or take yourself.

Using that vision of your best day, examine your work or life and see how well it matches up. If you see mismatches, start to make shifts by doing one thing you can do in each area to change it.

Keep going. It’s worth the effort. When you find the right place for you, you’ll really be able to flourish and your self-esteem will soar.

4. Watch your language.

We can be careless with the language we use to describe our situation. It’s easy to catch the complaint bug when you’re in the presence of people who complain.

That kind of negative, victim-based talk eats away at your self-esteem. You begin to feel that you don’t have the power to change what you don’t want.

True, many people complain because they feel powerless, but it’s also circular, where one attitude feeds the other.

Stop the victim cycle for yourself.

Refuse to use language that puts you in the role of the victim.

Speak with clarity about your positive intentions.

Perfectionism can erode self-esteem. Think and speak about what you do in terms of progress, not perfection.

Self-deprecation can be mistaken for humility, to the point that we run ourselves down in order to seem humble. Humility, to me, is the recognition that we do very little in life all alone.

We always work in concert with and in the context of what others have done. Acknowledging that is simply embracing the reality that we are not alone. We collaborate with others in many, often unseen, ways.

When you speak, give yourself the same recognition you give to others. Value your own contribution. Acknowledge your role while recognizing the shoulders on which you stand.

5. Upgrade your surroundings.

Sprucing up your surroundings can make a big difference in building your self-esteem. Surround yourself with things you love. Choose things that put a smile on your face, that feel good when you look at them.

On the fireplace mantel in my office, I keep a red metal moose from Canada. That’s the country where I lived much of my life, so it reminds me of that time, a good memory. It also makes me smile, as this particular moose has a big grin on his face!

Having few things that you love is better than having many things that don’t matter to you. We put a premium on ‘stuff’ in this culture. More stuff is seen as a good thing.

The quest for and acquisition of stuff can get in the way of your self-esteem. Release the things that you don’t love and aren’t needed. Make someone else happy by giving your released items a home with someone who will appreciate them.

When you also release what you have to do to acquire all that stuff you don’t love, you create more space for you and what you love.

When I talk about upgrading what’s around you, I’m not just talking about your physical surroundings. Who are you surrounding yourself with?

Are they people who see the good in events? Do they see even unwanted situations as feedback instead of failure? Do they believe that they can change things for the better? Do they believe in you and your ability to do the same?

When you surround yourself with people who believe and support you in your beliefs that you can make constructive changes, you create your own little micro-climate of self-esteem. To keep that micro-climate going, avoid people who are destructive to your self-esteem.

You can even become one of those supportive people! Be a contributor to that climate of self-esteem.

One last thing about your people surroundings. If you’re someone who sometimes feels like you don’t fit in, self-esteem can be a challenge.

Find people who see you as you are and celebrate that. They are out there. They don’t have to be just like you. They just have to like you and what you bring to the table.

Self-esteem isn’t something you get and hold for a lifetime. It’s a mindset, a skill that takes effort to build and maintain.

The good news is, you can learn, practice and master self-esteem, just like any other skill. Even people who have had traumatic experiences have been able to come to terms with them and move into high self-esteem.

As you take action to develop your self-esteem skills, everyone around you will benefit, and you will be changed for the better.

The post Building Self-Esteem: 5 Simple Actions To Embrace Your Own Awesomeness appeared first on Live Bold and Bloom.

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