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I sincerely believe that it is far more beneficial and far less costly to help a child build confidence than it is to fix an adult who has little or none.

Are your words powerful?

Have you ever stopped to consider how powerful our words can be?  Everything that we say can have a huge impact on other people and even ourselves.  Just one little word or phrase can heal a person’s life or it can destroy it.  When we use words that are kind, loving and supportive we can lift people up and make them feel good.  On the other hand, when we say words that are mean, nasty and vindictive we can tear people down and make them feel bad.

Think about words that people say to you:

  • When you felt lonely and a family member said something loving to you, how did it make you feel?
  • When you were feeling down and a friend said something encouraging, did it lift you up?
  • When you were having a bad day at work and your boss told you that you did a good job, did your day go better?

Remember those times when a family member spoke to you in anger or someone at work criticized something you did or a friend told you they were too busy to have coffee with you.  How did those words make you feel?

We should always be careful with our words and choose them carefully.  Don’t let unkind, careless or cruel words come out of your mouth.  Think before you speak especially when you are stressed, tired, angry or upset.  Those are times when even the nicest person can be thoughtless and let words slip out that should never be spoken.

Saying unkind words to ourselves is also a bad thing.  We can be very cruel to ourselves, speaking words we have heard other people say to us or about us.  We need to challenge our self-talk and make sure we are not hurting ourselves with our own words.  What other people say is only a reflection of who they are and not who we are.  We believe a lot of things that are just not true.

We need to understand how powerful our words are and make sure we use them to lift people up, encourage them, support them and show our love.

 

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Do you have integrity?

Can people count on you?  Do you keep your commitments?  Are you honest?  Do you do what is right?

People with integrity have strong values, beliefs and principles.  Their character is consistent and they always try to do the right thing even when it is hard or it goes against what society believes.

How can you tell if someone has integrity?

  • they are truthful
  • they keep their promises
  • they are there for you even in tough times
  • they are more concerned with giving than receiving
  • they always do their best and care about what they are doing
  • they accept responsibility for their mistakes
  • they are forgiving
  • they don’t blame others
  • they don’t try to hurt others, instead they try to help others

Do you have integrity? Are you teaching your children to have integrity?

 

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Are you raising the child you want or the child you have?

We are all different.  Everyone is unique and special in their own way.  No two people on this earth are exactly the same and we should celebrate our differences.

When we have children, we often expect them to be like us and when they aren’t, we either try to mold them into a “mini-us” or we constantly battle with them because they don’t act the way we want them to and they drive us crazy.

We should raise our children as they are and not try to change them into the person we want them to be.  They are not us and they never will be.  We can force them into our mold and have them become an unhappy, unfulfilled adult.  Or we can encourage them to use their abilities, guide them through difficult situations to achieve their potential and support them when they fail.

Children are a gift.  Allow them to be themselves.  They are not perfect and neither are we.  Just love them.

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What are you investing your time in?

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Everyone invests their time in something, usually in whatever they are interested in the most.  Unfortunately, we don’t always invest our time in the things that are important.  Then when we get older, we realize that we have wasted a lot of time doing things that don’t matter and we have regrets.

Many people go through life trying to achieve success by obtaining power or making lots of money.  Others spend their lives wasting all their time and money pleasing themselves and just having fun.  Then one day they need support from their family and friends and wonder why they are all alone.

I certainly have regrets and wish that I could turn back the clock.  Many hours, days and weeks were wasted doing things that don’t even matter now.

  • Time spent working extra hours to make more money instead of going home and spending time with my family
  • Time spent working on projects that didn’t pan out and have long been forgotten
  • Time spent feeling sorry for myself instead of feeling sorry for other people and helping them out
  • Time spent reading books that filled up time and didn’t teach me anything valuable
  • Time spent watching TV programs and movies that filled up my mind with total garbage

Think carefully about what you spend your time doing.

  • Is it something that has value or something that is wasting your time?
  • Is it something that makes you a better person or does it lead you away from the important things in life?
  • Is it something that blesses other people or does it only please yourself?
  • Is it something that leads you where you want to be or is it leading you down a dead-end street?

Whatever you surround yourself with now will likely be what surrounds you in the future.   Make some positive changes in your life now and invest time in things of value.

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What is a friend?

Everyone wants to have friends.  Friendships are important.  Good friends help us learn and grow, they help us build confidence, they help us enjoy life.  When we are surrounded by people who care about us, we are able to navigate through life’s ups and downs and feel their love and support.

Children especially need friends to help them grow emotionally, socially and morally.  They need mainly people their own age, although children can become friends with those who are older or younger.  Many parents try to be a friend to their child, thinking they are being loving, but this will only stop a child from becoming independent and responsible.  Parents should be a parent, a mentor, a teacher, someone who is there to guide them, support them, discipline them and mostly love them.  Parents should be a good example to their children, helping them learn how to become a good friend to others and encouraging them to find positive friendships.  Without friendships, children may easily become depressed, lonely and lack ambition which can result in poor health, poor performance in school or work, failed marriages and difficulty coping as an adult.

What does it take to be a good friend?  It comes from a combination of teaching and experience.  Good friends are able to :

  • communicate their feelings in a positive way
  • understand the feelings of others
  • show empathy
  • be trustworthy
  • not gossip or spread false rumours
  • take responsibility for their own actions
  • solve problems and resolve conflicts
  • forgive easily and not hold grudges
  • distinguish right from wrong
  • make good choices
  • stand up for what they believe
  • withstand bullying and understand that bullies have their own issues to deal with
  • be loyal even when a friend is hurting physically or emotionally
  • get along with others even during difficult times
  • accept differences in people
  • own up to their mistakes and not blame others
  • have fun and enjoy life

 

If you want to have good friends, you have to be a good friend.  Be a good example to your children and teach them to be a good example to others.   Discourage them from having friends who continually hurt them through gossiping, excluding them, ignoring them or trying to get them to do things they know is wrong.  Even having 1 good friend is better than having 20 bad friends.  You are the biggest influence in your child’s life so make sure you are influencing them in a positive way.

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What kind of example are you?

Unless we are completely alone, everything we say and do has an effect on other people.  We can be a good example or we can be a bad example depending on what kind of words and actions we are using.  The best thing we can do is to lead by example and have a positive impact on everyone around us, especially our children.

  • If you want your children to show respect to others, you can’t call people names and run them down.
  • If you want your children to tell the truth, you can’t call in sick to work and then go and play golf
  • If you want your children to be kind to others, you can’t ignore that homeless person lying on the ground
  • If you want your children to be healthy, you can’t eat unhealthy foods or abuse substances yourself

If you want your children to grow up to become responsible adults, you have to show them what a responsible adult looks like.  You can’t just tell them or try to force them into a mold.   They will learn best from your positive example.

This doesn’t mean that you should try to be a perfect parent.  There is no such thing!  Do the best you can and aim for excellence not perfection.  You will make mistakes.  Don’t try to cover them up and pretend you are perfect.  Show your child that you do fail but that you learn from your mistakes and keep trying to do better.

What kind of example are you?

 

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Take responsibility

Sometimes things happen in life that are not our fault but many of us allow our past to control our lives.  When we are children, our parents often make our choices for us and we are compelled to follow their rules and stay within the boundaries they have set.  These rules and boundaries may not be the best and we may feel hurt, rejected or abandoned by their poor choices.

However, we don’t have to continue living in pain because of what someone has done to us in the past.  Just because someone has hurt us, doesn’t mean we have to go through life feeling bad. Instead of thinking that we have done something wrong or that we deserve to be treated badly, we need to realize that the people who have hurt us are dealing with their own set of problems that they carry through life.  What people do to us does NOT define who we are – it defines who they are!

We need to take responsibility for our own lives and start making better choices.  What happened to us in the past may not be our fault, but continuing to allow our past to hurt us in the present IS our fault.

If you face life with a negative perspective and feel like nothing will ever change, you are wrong.  You CAN have a positive perspective and enjoy your life if you really want to.  All it requires is commitment and patience.   Start taking responsibility for your own life today!

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Clutter creates chaos

Having too much stuff can create chaos in your life.  Stuff stresses us out.  It frustrates us.  It drains our energy.  It can make it hard for us to get organized.

Most of us collect things, like antiques, books, coins, cards and so on.  Collecting things is fun and we can display them so they can easily be seen and enjoyed by ourselves and others.  However, when we start collecting many different things and putting them in piles so we can’t even find things or have no idea where we put something, this is when clutter happens and chaos starts.

When we have so much stuff that it drags us back to the past or ahead to the future, we can’t really live in the present and enjoy our lives.  People keep things that remind them of important things that happened in the past (newspaper clippings, photos, something that was owned by a loved one, a child’s toy).  People also keep things that they may need in the future, afraid to part with anything that might be of some value.  It is certainly okay to keep memories and anything that may be useful to us but when it gets out of control, it results in an unhealthy living environment.

Clutter is unhealthy.  Dust, mold and animal dander collect and can cause breathing problems.  Bugs and mice are also attracted to cluttered areas where they can live and breed.  Clutter is also a fire hazard and could hamper rescue efforts, sometimes resulting in death for the inhabitant and also the firemen.

If you have too much stuff, ask yourself what kind of life you want to live.  Do you want your stuff to control you or do you want to control your stuff?  Create a new vision for your life that is calm and easygoing, one that has less stress.   Talk to yourself in words that are encouraging and hopeful. Tell yourself that you are far more valuable than your stuff and you deserve to live in healthy, stress-free conditions.  Make a promise to yourself that you will start making some positive changes in your life, starting with cleaning up the clutter.

Ask yourself why you are keeping certain items.  One of the big items people keep is old newspapers because they might read them someday.  Chances of reading them are slim to none and why would you want to read old news anyway?  Besides, half of the newspaper is ads and they have absolutely no value once the sales are over.  Keeping them is just creating a mess and a possible fire hazard.  Another big item is keeping plastic bags for garbage.  We can only use so many garbage bags and they also just create a mess and possible fire hazard.

Pick one area and spend an hour or two a day working at it.  You can’t do it all at once, so don’t even try.  It will take time and patience but if you are committed to having a better life, you WILL be able to do it.  If you need help and you can afford it, contact a company that does organizing/de-cluttering.  Let’s face it, if you could afford to buy all that stuff, you would be better off using your money getting rid of the clutter instead of bringing more into your home.

Put things where they belong. If you have dishes or groceries in the bedroom, move them to the kitchen.  Books should be in a bookcase, not piled on the floor.  Clothing should be in a closet or dresser.  Clutter tends to become a pile of anything and everything as space gets limited in the rooms where things belong.  Then when you can’t find things, you go out an buy more to replace stuff that is lying in a pile somewhere.

Make a promise to yourself that when you get something new, you will get rid of something old.  Of course, this doesn’t apply to things like food unless you are keeping expired cans or food that is rotting.  If you enjoy reading, you don’t need to keep hundreds of books; go to the library and save some money.  If you like new clothing or fancy jewelry, donate your old items to goodwill.  You don’t need a new outfit to wear every day for the next 20 years.

Make an appointment with yourself to de-clutter.  It can’t be done all at one time so do it in small time frames that are manageable.  Do one or two hours a day and soon you will start to see some progress.  If you want more ideas, check out some sites that help with clutter removal.  There are lots!

Remove the clutter in your life and you will start to feel better.   As someone who helps people de-clutter, I can tell you that when the job is done, we almost always see a smile on their faces and there is an obvious sense of relief.  Happy de-cluttering!

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What kind of parent are you?

To Build (or Break) a Child's Spirit - by Rachel Macy StaffordThe way you parent your children mainly depends on what kind of environment you have been raised in.  Most parents will use the same methods of parenting used by their parents and grandparents even though they may have hated the way they were raised.  Every child wants to please their parents and they will try to model their behaviour.  They may even believe that this is the way normal parents behave if they  have never encountered a different approach.

There are basically 3 types of parents. The terms vary depending on what information you are reading, but I like to use the terms powerful, permissive and responsible.  Each one has a different impact on the child as to what kind of parent/child relationship they have and what type of parent they will become.  Think back to your own childhood and determine what kind of parent you were raised by.

  1. POWERFUL parents are those who make their children behave by controlling them with angry words or forceful actions and punishments.    They make most decisions for their child and allow them little freedom.  They use their size to intimidate their child and may ignore, harass or even physically abuse them.  Children of powerful parents behave out of fear rather than love and will eventually grow to resent their parents, often rebelling in some way.   They will grow up with insecurities and fears and will likely raise their children using anger and intimidation.
  2. PERMISSIVE parents are those who allow their children to do almost anything they want.  There are few or no rules and parenting is inconsistent.  They make things as easy as they can for the child, often doing things for them that the child could easily do themselves.  This robs the child of self-respect and self-esteem and invites rebellion.  Children of permissive parents often are confused and make poor choices because they have no guidelines to follow.
  3. RESPONSIBLE parents are those who convey love and show respect to their children and other people.  They provide their children with opportunities to make their own choices and hold them accountable.  They use consistent, loving discipline and lead by example.  They encourage, support and protect their child and help them develop good self-worth.  Children of responsible parents learn how become a responsible adult by watching and modelling the positive characteristics of their parent.

Powerful and Permissive parents have a negative affect on their children.  Most of these children will struggle in school, work and in their relationships.  They will likely become the same type of parent with their children or in some cases, they can go to the other extreme.  Children raised by powerful parents might become permissive parents because they don’t want their children to be controlled and will allow them complete freedom to do what they want, falsely believing this is showing love.  Children raised by permissive parents might become powerful parents because they believe that children need rules and may go way overboard in taking control, causing the parent/child relationship to suffer greatly.  Neither method works well.

The Responsible parent is the best method of parenting.   The parent works with the child to build a loving relationship.   Mistakes are made but lessons are learned and the child develops a positive perspective on life.

It is also extremely important that both parents use the same parenting method.  There needs to be continuous communication between the parents so they discuss and work out any problems.  When parents use different parenting methods or the parents are divided on any matter, parenting WILL fail.  Children are a lot smarter than we think they are.  They will divide and conquer every time.  Make sure you are working together as a team to raise your children in the best way possible.  And if you make a mistake?  Well, you are human and nobody is perfect.  Apologize, start over, do whatever it takes to keep those lines of communication open!

So what kind of parent are you?  And what kind of parent do you want your child to be?

 

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Who do you think you are?

Do you know who you are?  Many of us go through life trying to live up to someone else’s expectations.   We put on masks and build walls, pretending that we are somebody else.  We don’t want people to see us as we really are because we are afraid they won’t like us or respect us.

As a child, we are taught how to behave in different situations.  We are told how to dress, how to act, how to talk.  We are told what we should do and shouldn’t do.  This helps us learn but if we aren’t encouraged to be an individual and supported in our uniqueness, we can forget who we really are.  We have to develop our own personality and not live our lives according to the expectations of someone else.

Our parents can expect us to follow a certain path in life but this may not be what we want to do.  Our friends can expect that we engage in certain behaviours that we know will cause harm.  Our teachers or co-workers can expect us to accomplish things that we are not capable of doing.   The media can try to convince us to do things that we are not comfortable with.  If we start believing that our worth is found in doing what other people expect, we can soon lose our unique identity.

We need to let go of who we think we should be and start becoming who we really are.  Stop living up to other people’s expectations and live up to your own expectations.  What do you expect of yourself?  What do you want to accomplish in life?  What do you want other people to remember you for?

Think about what makes you a valuable person.  What are your abilities?  What are your positive characteristics?  What are you good at doing?  How do you interact with other people?  We are all unique and special in our own way.  Use what you have learned and work on becoming the best person you can be.

So, who do you think you are?  Let go of what you are not and hold on to what you really are!  Be authentic!  Be honest! Be real!

 

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