Category: Self-improvement

4 Ways To Stay Motivated When You Have No Support From Friends or Family

How many times has this happened to you? You’re excited about a new opportunity or an idea that you want to pursue, so you share it with a family member or close friend. But instead of sharing your excitement, they start pointing out all the negatives and it kills your positive vibes. Their comments plant negative seeds in your mind and now you start to doubt yourself. So you just decide to give up before you even try.

It could be that you want to start getting up earlier in the mornings and begin to exercise. They’ll point out how hard it is to wake up so early. Maybe you want to change your job for a better one, they’ll point out how risky that is. Or you want to move somewhere new where there may be more opportunities, and they’ll point out all of the risks.

Any time you try to improve yourself, there will almost always be someone who is not as excited as you and will try to bring you down. Sometimes they do it on purpose out of pure jealousy. But most of the time they point out all the negatives because they think they’re helping you. You can read more about why it doesn’t matter what other people think of you here.

The good news is that it is always completely up to YOU, not anyone else to make things happen. You don’t need anyone’s approval to pursue whatever it is you want to do. So in the mean time, try some of these tips to stay motivated in pursuing your goals, even if you get no support from those around you.

Focus on the things you have control over, not what others are saying/doing.

When you’re pursuing something that you want, you have to learn to have tunnel vision. That means reminding yourself of why you want to pursue this goal, and ignoring any distractions. At first it might be hard to ignore negative people. But it’s actually easier than you think. You literally act like you can’t hear them. The best thing to do is not tell these people what your goal is in the first place. But if some how they find out and want to add their opinion, keep the topic of your goal short and change the subject quickly.

Instead of wasting your time and energy focusing on what others are saying, use that time to plan and take the steps necessary to pursue your goal. When you’re so busy pursing your goal, you have no time to pay attention to the negativity.

Keep a positive attitude.

It’s extremely hard, almost impossible, to achieve a goal when you have a negative attitude. Letting other people’s opinions bring you down is giving them power over you.

So you have to do whatever it takes to maintain a positive attitude. Try keeping a picture of your goal as the screen saver on your phone, or having positive quotes in your planner and on your night stand.

Practice gratitude every day to build a buffer against negativity and increase a positive attitude.

Take care of yourself physically.

I believe health is the foundation of true success. What’s the point of you reaching your goals, if you’re not healthy enough to enjoy it? Having little support can easily bring you down. If  you feel sick and tired, that makes it much easier to let those negative comments get to you.

When you feel good, you have energy to do things, and it’s so much easier to stay motivated.

Make sure you’re exercising, drinking plenty of water, eating a balanced diet, and not skipping meals. Here are some tips on exercising without going to the gym.

Be selective of who you share things with.

If you feel the need to tell someone your goal, make sure it’s someone that has been supportive in the past and you trust that they won’t judge you. If you don’t have anyone in your life that is supportive, join online groups where you can get some encouragement from complete strangers. Depending on your goal, there may be specific online support groups on that topic.

 

Remember, ultimately it is up to you to improve your life. No one is going to hand you things, you have to make it happen. You don’t need the approval of anyone to go after what you want. Stay strong, stay positive, and you’ll see how you can make anything happen that you set your mind to.

 

If you liked this post, share it with your friends. And remember to subscribe below to continue regularly getting great posts like this one.

About the author.

Liza J Alvarado is a professional counselor in private practice. She serves Adolescents, adults, and Spanish speaking families in the Lehigh Valley, PA area.

 

 

 

 

 

Share

How To Be Selfish: When To Take Time for Yourself

I wrote the following post for Love Magazine a few months ago and wanted to share it with all my email subscribers. Hope you find it helpful!

 

The word selfish has a negative connotation. It brings up images of a greedy person who will make themselves feel better at the expense of others. Although there are times where selfishness can hurt other people, there are certain times that you must be selfish in order to improve yourself and your relationships.

Let me explain. We’ve all heard the example of the flight attendant telling passengers to put the oxygen mask on first before helping others. Well, if you try to help a passenger out first before putting on your own mask, you could possibly pass out, unable to help the other passenger. Now there are two people that are helpless.

In relationships, we tend to put other’s needs before our own. And this isn’t necessarily a good thing. You can become resentful, burn out, and get sick.

Most likely, you are the backbone of your family. People depend on you to get things done. You bring home the money, cook, clean, run people around, and organize family life. If you’re the one doing all of this, what happens when you get sick, can’t work, or just can’t be present for them? This is precisely why you must put yourself first. Here are four ways you can begin to put yourself first starting today.

1. Set boundaries with your time. If you say “yes” every time someone asks you to do something, you’ll quickly burn yourself out. Give yourself a limit of how many things you’ll be able to get done every week. If someone tries to volunteer you to do something, just reply, “Thank you for asking, but I already have a full schedule this week. Maybe next time.” If you feel that things just can’t get done without you, remember that they will find someone else to help. If you have trouble saying “no” to things, remember that every time you say “yes” to something, you’re saying “no” to something else.
A word of caution: Some people might not like that you’re setting boundaries. They’re used to you doing everything and they were sort of trained this way. Just remind yourself that there may be an adjustment period both for you and those around you.
Setting boundaries with your time, allows you to use your time effectively. We all have twenty-four hours in a day. No one has more, no one has less. So why is it that some people seem to get so much done, while others get very little done in a day? It’s primarily because those that get things done know how to manage their time effectively.
Setting boundaries are healthy. You’re taking care of your own mental health while modeling realistic limits to those around you.

2. Schedule some me time. Pencil in time in your calendar to do something that relaxes you. (If you don’t have a planner, having one will also help you stay organized with your time.) Make it an appointment and priority. It could be giving yourself a break for as little as 10 minutes. If you think you don’t have 10 minutes for yourself, please re-read #1.

This time is supposed to be something that relaxes and re-energizes you. It could be anything from watching a funny YouTube video on your phone before picking the kids up, taking a hot shower a little longer than usual, painting your nails, driving home the long way to have alone time in the car, taking a supportive friend out for lunch, reading, etc. The activity itself does not matter as long as it’s something that you enjoy. Schedule a personal activity every week, ideally every day.

3. Ask for help. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but a sign that you know your limits. Plus, delegating makes you feel empowered. If there’s something that takes up a lot of your time, see if you could either hire it done or just simply ask one of your family members to pitch in. It’s not fair for you to be in a cranky mood because you have too much going on, when you choose to do everything and not ask for help.

4. Do something that you love. Who said that we have to live boring, routine lives when we grow up?! If you do something you love for a living, congratulations. But it doesn’t have to necessarily be something you get paid to do. When was the last time you wrote, painted, played an instrument or went for a run? Make it a priority to do something that you truly enjoyed doing before, but may have neglected.

When you are feeling happy and relaxed, it rubs off on others and creates a positive domino effect. Therefore, putting yourself first is not a selfish mindset. It benefits you and everyone around you. You are the leader of your pack. Lead by example and you’ll start to see the rewards.

 

If you liked this post, share it with your friends. And remember to subscribe below to continue regularly getting great posts like this one.

About the author.

Liza J Alvarado is a professional counselor in private practice. She serves Adolescents, Adults, and Spanish speaking families in Lehigh Valley, PA.

Share

You’ll Feel Grateful After Reading This

Being grateful for the good things in your life shouldn’t  only be practiced during Thanksgiving. Being thankful everyday helps you take the focus off what is wrong in your life, and instead focus on what is good. Even when you feel that everything is wrong in your life or you have nothing to be thankful for, in reality there is always something.

Being grateful makes us feel more content, helps us bounce back from stress, makes us more optimistic, makes us less self-centered and so many more benefits.

Here are some facts to help you see things a bit differently, and realize how great your life actually is.

  • According to water.org 780 million people lack access to safe drinking water. Think about that next time you leave the water running while brushing your teeth or leave empty water bottles laying around.
  • 70% of the world does not have access to the internet!
  • At least 80% of humanity lives on less than $10 a day  Even if you’re on welfare and living in the U.S., you already make more money than most people in the world.
  • The odds of you being born are 1 in 6 x 10100 or
    1 in 60000000000000000000000000000000000 00000000000000000000000000 000000000000000000000000000000000000 Don’t believe me. Check it out here. See, just the fact that you were born makes you special. Maybe you don’t know what your purpose is yet, but it’s no accident that you’re here. And while we’re talking about being alive, be grateful for your parents. Even if you don’t have the best parents, because of them you’re alive.
  • About 24.1 million people have a severe disability where they can’t work, drive, or live independently. Be happy that your five senses work. Obviously you can see if you can read this. But not everyone has this privilege. How do you describe color to someone who was born blind? Or describe music or a child’s laugh to someone who was born deaf?
  • Be grateful for having caring family and friends. Over 400,000 kids are in the foster care system in the U.S. 30,000 age out of the system every year and don’t have any family members to rely on.
  • Over 90 million people in the U.S. don’t have jobs.
  • Many countries, including India, China, Japan, Israel, and Pakistan, still practice arranged marriages. Can you imagine having your parents pick out your husband/wife without you knowing them? Some cultures still practice this til this day.
  • 610,042 people are homeless in the United States, that we know of.
  • 70 million children don’t go to school. This is due to different reasons, including conflicts and severe poverty. Kids living in north-eastern part of Africa are affected the most.  As much as it’s a pain to wake up  early, have tons of homework, and deal with rude classmates, having an education is a privilege.

Write down 20 things you’re grateful for today. If you make this a habit, you’ll find that you’ll start to enjoy the little things in life everyday. Try living in a state of gratitude every day, instead of waiting around for things to happen and then feeling grateful.

If you liked this post, share it with your friends. And remember to subscribe below to continue regularly getting great posts like this one.

About the author.

Liza J Alvarado is a professional counselor in private practice. She serves Adolescents, young adults, and Spanish speaking families in Lehigh Valley, PA.

 

 

 

Share

Building Self-Esteem

Our self-esteem is the foundation for everything in our lives. How we feel about ourselves affects the jobs we go after, our relationships, the way we carry ourselves, the goals we set, and so much more.

Self-esteem is simply the confidence that we have in ourselves that we can accomplish goals and tasks in our life. It’s that little voice in your head that says “I don’t know what I’m doing but I’ll figure it out”. Or if self-esteem is weak, it’ll say “I hate myself”

Building self-esteem takes time but with some practical steps done consistently, you can start building your confidence.

  • Notice when that little voice in your head is saying negative things. It could be “I’m so stupid”, “I look disgusting”, “I can’t do anything right” or any variations of this.
  • After you catch yourself thinking these negative thoughts, change the words to switch the thought. For example, instead of thinking/saying “I’m so stupid” replace it with, “gosh I messed up. How can I fix this” or “I hate how my body looks” to ” “how can I stay motivated to do something about getting healthy” With time you’ll have more positive thoughts than negative ones.
  • Spend time with supportive, positive people. If you’re trying to work on yourself, limit how much time you’re around people that put you down. If you can’t control this because it’s family, learn to build a buffer so that their comments don’t affect you. Once strategy is to imagine an invisible shield around you. Anything anyone says to you, it bounces right back to that person.
  • Set small and large goals for yourself that are challenging, but manageable. Large goals are things that take time to achieve. Small goals could be things you can do in a day or week. You can read my post on goal setting here.
  • If you’re filled with fear at working towards goals, break them down into small steps. Do something everyday that moves you closer to the goal.
  • Keep a journal or note on your phone of all the great things that you have already done. This is your evidence of how great you are. Every time some one pays you a compliment, write it down. Every time you do something that was scary but you did it, write it down. This is not being conceded. This is reminding yourself of all that you’ve already been through and survived. We all go through hard times in life. Remind yourself of how you over came those things. If you got through those things, you can get through anything.
  • Do something nice for yourself. Treat yourself to something you enjoy or dress up.

Remember that this takes some time, if you’re confidence is not too strong to start with. But be kind to yourself and stay consistent.

“Each person has got a voice inside them. Communicate with it and take hold of it. Do not let it push and shove you around – you are its master!”
― Stephen Richards

 

If you liked this post, please share it with your friends. And remember to subscribe below to continue regularly getting great posts like this one.

About the author.

Liza J Alvarado is a professional counselor in private practice. She serves Adolescents, young adults, and Spanish speaking families in Lehigh Valley, PA.

Share

Simple Activities To Boost “Happiness Chemicals”

How we feel in life basically has to do with our  “brain chemicals” These chemicals are called neurotransmitters. Although we don’t have a way to measure how much you have when giving diagnosis, scientist do know that certain chemicals create specific feelings. Sadness, anxiety, excitement…all these feelings are produced by neurotransmitters.

How much or how little of these chemicals are produced depends on a lot of different things. Genetics, environment, past experiences, and diet to name a few.

The good news is that we can do things, on purpose, to help our body out in creating some of these chemicals. Try to do at least one of the following suggestions, everyday.

Eat organic yogurt. We’re talking about “brain chemicals” but the truth is that most of these hormones are in the lining of our stomach. The health of our stomach greatly affects our mood. Think about it. When you have  a “bad” feeling, or feel nervous, what part of your body do you feel it most? It’s usually the stomach.

Probiotics and prebiotics help keep our gut healthy. Drink plenty of water and eat foods rich in fiber to keep your gut healthy.

Give or get a hug. When you give a long hug to someone that you really care about, and you get that warm loving feeling, the neurotransmitter oxytocin is released. Basically, physically intimate moments releases this hormone. This chemical calms down the amygdala, the part of our brain that acts like an alarm when we think we’re in danger. Oxytocin has been called the “bonding hormone”  or “love hormone” because it makes you feel closer to people.

For women, oxytocin helps in contractions when giving birth and it’s released during breast feeding.

Shock yourself with cold water. Either splash your face with cold water if you’re at school or work, or turn the water to cold at the end of your shower. The cold water stimulates the vagus nerve, a nerve that goes from our head all the way down to the gut. It helps regulate a bunch of bodily functions like the heart, lungs, upper digestive tract, and other organs of the chest and abdomen.

Reminisce about happy times. Remembering happy memories helps increase serotonin. Serotonin does a bunch of things like helping neurons communicate with each other, improve memory, and most popularly known for increasing our mood. Anti-depressants (SSRI, which stands for Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor) is supposed to help our brain “lock in” the serotonin that we already have by preventing it from “fading away” (This is my explanation of it, not the scientific explanation.)

Watch a comedy. There’s a reason for the saying “laughter is the best medicine”. I completely agree with this. When we laugh we release several hormones responsible for releasing stress and tension and making us feel good, including serotonin, dopamine and endorphins.

Create small, challenging goals for yourself. Remember when you finished up a presentation you worked hard to prepare for, graduated from school after all those years, or completed a challenge you set for yourself? That small rush of pleasure was your brain releasing dopamine, the chemical responsible for reward and pleasure.

Try setting goals that challenge you in some way. It could be something as simple as cleaning up a messy room, or bigger goals like getting a new job, or getting fit.

Write down how you feel. Writing doesn’t necessarily release hormones, but it does calm down the mind. You could journal, or write short stories. A study done at the University of California, Los Angeles, showed that writing calms down amygdala activity. As I said before, the amygdala is the part of our brain that acts like an alarm when it thinks we’re in danger. Our brain can’t tell if something is real or you’re imagining it. That’s why just thinking about certain things will cause you to feel stressed and activates the amygdala.

None of us can feel happy all of the time. But staying positive and healthy will help you feel more satisfied with your life. And when you feel satisfied with your life, everyone around you benefits.

If you liked this post, please share it with your friends. And remember to subscribe below to continue regularly getting great posts like this one.

About the author.

Liza J Alvarado is a professional counselor in private practice. She serves Adolescents, young adults, and Spanish speaking families in Lehigh Valley, PA.

 

 

 

 

Share

50 HOBBY IDEAS

If you’re always the one  taking care of responsibilities, taking care of others and doing everything for everyone …

WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT SUICIDE

The Suicide rate is up again since 1986 in the United States. It could be scary to talk about suicide but educating yourself …

5 TIPS ON HOW TO START A CONVERSATION.

Do you get anxious just thinking about starting a conversation with someone? Do feel awkward after just saying “hello” …