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Posts tagged ‘Personal Growth’

Letting Go: This is How You End Suffering

The Awakened Heart Project.With An Open HeartThis post is part of The Awakened Heart Project

Week 41: Letting Go: This is How You End Suffering

“Some people believe holding on and hanging in there are signs of great strength. However, there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go and then do it.” –

Ann Landers

Let Go, Be Free

This is not the first time the idea of “letting go” has been discussed throughout this project. And frankly, it probably wont be the last. Letting go, is something that is so important to inner peace. Holding onto emotions, thoughts, believes, perceptions, memories play a role in our lives. Sometimes we hold onto a memory for pleasure, because it brought us joy. Or we hold only a belief because letting it go bring us fear. We can’t image it any other way. However, there is a lot of suffering that remains when we continue to hold onto negative events, beliefs, and/or perceptions of people or events, etc. When we do this, we create another reality. Read more

Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day and Neither Were You!

The Awakened Heart Project.With An Open HeartThis post is part of The Awakened Heart Project

Week 40: Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day and Neither Were You!  

“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”

― Theodore Roosevelt


Progress and Growth

Nothing in life worth having comes easily. Can you hear the voice of your father repeating those words to you as a child? Just as you were trying to throw in the towel and quit whatever it was that you felt was too difficult. No matter where we heard those words, or who said them to us, we’ve all heard, in one way or another, that the best things in life require work. The most rewarding things in life require work.

Personal growth is just the same. It takes time, and it takes works, but the pay off is worth every last second. Don’t forget to give yourself credit for every single accomplishment you make. Give yourself credit for stopping your negative self-talk. Give yourself credit for those five minutes of meditation. However big or small, don’t believe your accomplishments are small. They’re not! They all lead to something much larger, and each and every component towards a more awakened self is a piece of the puzzle. You wouldn’t be where you are if you didn’t make those choice to consciously change.

Read more

Forgive, Accept, Embrace

The Awakened Heart Project.With An Open HeartThis post is part of The Awakened Heart Project

Week 35-37: Forgive, Accept, Embrace

“The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward.” 

– Steve Maraboli

Life Lesson 35: Forgive 

They say, “Forgiveness is an attribute of the strong.” Do you agree? I think in many ways, yes it is. Forgiveness is something that no doubt hard to do. We have these emotions and thoughts that surround our experiences, and the ones that hurt and leave a scar often make us jade and resentful. Pain shuts us down and causes us to put up a wall for protection. We build a moat around our heart, and guard it with everything we have. We say, “This will never happen again. They will never hurt me again. They can no longer we trusted”. The problem with all of this is that these walls also keep out the good. Further, when we don’t allow ourselves to forgive, we are unable to release the pain. This pain will stay with us forever. Even worse, sometimes, the pain was simply a misunderstanding, that could quickly and easily be corrected if we didn’t jump to building that wall and moat around our hearts.


We are all just human beings. We’re not perfect. We make mistakes, and sometimes that means hurting others. Sometimes, it’s intentional, but many times it is not. Before you jump to conclusions about another persons intentions, take a step back and ask yourself if you’ve even made a similar mistake. Or ask yourself, could I be thinking too much into this? Perhaps, there’s an explanation. The best approach however, is ti simply TALK to the person that hurt you. Tell them how you felt, and how you interpreted their actions. A mature, reasonable person will take the time to give you an explanation and often Read more

Maybe Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Are All Wrong

The Awakened Heart Project.With An Open HeartThis post is part of The Awakened Heart Project

Week 33: What Are Your Basic Needs? 

“We need others. We need others to love and we need to be loved by them. There is no doubt that without it, we too, like the infant left alone, would cease to grow, cease to develop, choose madness and even death.”

– Leo F. Buscaglia


Life Lesson: What Are Your Basic Needs? 

Last week we talked about define who we are from our internal world rather than external world. We tried to rid our identity of labels with “assumed roles” to define who we feel we are at our deepest levels, -our souls. This week, we expand on the theme of internal and external influences, but more specifically needs.

More than often, we put the external world in which we live in before anything else. We put our jobs first, the carpool first, the expenses, etc., well before we put our internal needs and desires. We are raised to believe that “This is how you live”, -this is what is means to be a “productive member of society”.

In 1943, humanistic psychologist, Abraham Maslow proposed his theory of The Hierarchy of Needs. This hierarchy suggests that people are motivated to fulfill basic needs before moving on to other, more advanced needs. He displayed this hierarchy as a period. At the foundation level, humans much fulfill basic physical needs like food and shelter before moving onto other needs, such as self-esteem and relationships needs.


This theory does makes sense. However, I recently came across a somewhat opposing viewpoint by Mark Nepo, author of The Book of Awakenings that I found just as true. Nepo writes:

While this is in part true, I believe there is a dimension of the inner life that is as imperative and equivalent as food and shelter. Without the fulfillment of these basic inner needs, we are just fed and sheltered bodies void of life. Without love, truth, and compassion, all the comforts of modern life don’t matter, because we are simply reduced to biological machines, not even as present as animals.

Nepo argues that when we begin to live our life from the perspective that basic needs must be met first, the result is that we often defer the risk to love in the process. We make comments like, Read more

Who Are You? Forget Labels and Redefine Yourself.

The Awakened Heart Project.With An Open HeartThis post is part of The Awakened Heart Project

Week 32: Who Are You? Forget Labels and Redefine Yourself. 

“Sincerity is the fulfillment
of our own nature,
and to arrive at it we need
only follow our own true Self.
Sincerity is the beginning
and end of existence;
without it, nothing can endure.
Therefore the mature person
values sincerity above all things.” 
― Tzu-ssu

Life Lesson: Who Are You? 

Who are you? Have you ever really thought about this question? Who are you as a person? I’m not talking about how others define you. I mean, how do you define you? What makes you who you are internally? Sadly, the definition of ourselves’ tends to be defined by external circumstances. For example, you fail a test in school, the definition of yourself becomes, “I’m a failure”. You get married, the definition of yourself becomes, “I’m a wife” or “I’m a husband”. In contrast, if/when you get divorced, you come, “The divorcee”.  But it’s not like in the time you were a wife, to the time you were divorced, you suddenly transformed into a new self, right? Or what if you were employed in the morning as a bank teller, but by the end of the day you were laid off. You’re no longer a bank teller, but are you a different person? No, you’re not. These external labels do not define you. Inside your soul, you are so much more than these labels.

How many times have you been introduced to someone and they ask, “So, what do you do?” immediately implying that they want to know what you do for a job. How often do you respond with something other than your job? I’m guessing hardly ever, yet I’m sure most of us do much more than what’s in our job description.

define yourself

What if, instead of asking, “What do you do?” when you met someone knew, you asked, “So, who are you?” What do you think their response would be? Would they take a minute baffled by your question to reflect on it? Would they simply ignore it and describe their job as if on autopilot, unsure of how to answer such a question? Think about it for a minute; if someone Read more

Your Values Become You

The Awakened Heart Project.With An Open HeartThis post is part of The Awakened Heart Project

Week 29, 30, and 31: Your Values Becomes You 

“To be nobody but yourself
in a world which is doing its best,
night and day,
to make you like everybody else
means to fight the hardest battle
which any human being can fight,
and never stop fighting.”

~ E.E. Cummings

Life Lesson 29: The Value of Values 


Defining your values in life is an important part of growth and development for many reasons. I think Kevin Daum puts it well when he explains, “Our personal core values are there to guide behavior and choice. Get them right and you’ll be swift and focused in your decision-making, with clear direction. Get them wrong or leave them ambiguous, and you’ll constantly wonder how you got into this mess. ”

Life constantly pushes and pulls us in different directions. In order for us to maneuver through life, we need some sort of compass. That’s where values come in. Our values help guide us through life. They help us develop into the people we want to be. They help ensure our path to personal growth and fulfillment is headed in a direction that is conducive to our happiness and well being.

For instance, let’s say you value family, but your job keeps you away from them 70 hours a week AND you travel. Your children are young so by the time you get home, they’re asleep. You find you’re only seeing them on the weekends, while also trying to get everything else in your life done. You tell yourself that you must provide for your family to justify being gone all the time.  But in time, you begin to resent your job, you become depressed, and you feel disconnected. Then, you begin to wonder is the pay worth the sacrifice? For many people it is, but for others, it isn’t. They’ve simply been living on autopilot and never realized they turned down a road that took them away from their values and livelihood.


You see, our values give meaning and purpose to our lives. But when we don’t live by our values, we end up living by someone else’s. Further, dissonance between our beliefs and our actions is significantly distressing, both mentally and emotionally. Believe it or not, long term, it can lead to problems like depression.

“Your beliefs become your thoughts,

 Your thoughts become your words, 

Your words become your actions, 

Your actions become your habits, 

Your habits become your values, 

Your values become your destiny.” 


-Mahatma Gandhi

Are you destined to live a life of someone else’s values? I hope not. Your life can be exactly what you want it to be, but it requires you to take some time to evaluate what you want out of life, what you don’t, and what paths you’re willing to take to get there.

“Values are like fingerprints. Nobody’s are the same, but you leave them all over everything you do”. 

-Elvis Presley


Life Lesson 30: Defining Your Core Values 

Understanding why establishing personal core values are important is just the first step. The next step is to spend some time actually thinking about what these values are, and writing them down. It may be difficult to hone in on your top values, but I challenge you to do so.

“There can be no happiness if the things we believe in are different from things we do”.

-Freya Stark

Exercise in Action: 

Below, I have provided a table of core values for you (128 total!). This is just a list of suggestions or common values. Please feel free to add to it as you wish. This exercise is for you, not me, so do what’s best for you.

Step 1 – Go through the list and cross off any values that don’t resonate with you.

Step 2 – Write down your top 30 values.

Step 3 – Go through your list of 30, and write down your top 10

Step 4 – Go through your list of 10 and write down your top 5

Hey, no one said it was going to be easy! But if you’re like me, you’ll end up lumping many into categories.

Lists of Personal Core Values photoshop

There are a number of websites out there that can help you do it if you don’t want to take the time to write them down. While in school, I had to complete the Card Sort Activity which is very similar. It is more related to work values and how you want to structure your work/life balance, but it’s still incredibly useful. If you would like to complete that, click HERE

This is a great image of another way to organize your core values: Values-Mind-Map

I know it can be hard to determine your top 5 values, so don’t get too caught up in getting exactly five if it’s a struggle. Like I mentioned before, I categorized quite a few things to fit them in. For example, Friendships and Family I lumped into the same category. This question can be helpful when narrowing down your top values, especially number one. 

The most important thing in life to me is….


Life Lesson 31: Living Your Values 

 How will you know if you’re living your values each and every day? For each of us, this will be different, but it’s important to write down some sort of ideas to help you visualize successfully doing so. In the research and science field, we often state that, “Outcomes must be measurable”.  Taking the example of the overworked parent again, maybe valuing family means leaving their job for a less demanding job with similar income. Or maybe it mean, leaving letters for their children in the weeks their gone, or committing to two hours of no distraction on the weekends. Remember, it will be different for every person. What’s important is deciding how you will fulfill your values. Knowing how you will do this will also help you recognize if/when your lifestyle is headed in a place that will not be fulfilling. Here is another question that may help guide you: 

I will know when this value is being met in my life when…


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The Awakened Heart Project 

Registration for The Awakened Heart Project is closed for the year. However, follow the blog for the opportunity to participate in 2014. With An Open Heart will be going through some major changes in the coming months! Stay tuned!!!

Please fill out the form below to be notified when The Awakened Heart Project will begin again. Thank you.

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Weighing the Cost and Benefits For Your Happiness

This post is part of The Awakened Heart Project

Week 18: Weighing the Cost and Benefits For Your Happiness

“Happiness is always a by-product.  It is probably a matter of temperament, and for anything I know it may be glandular.  But it is not something that can be demanded from life, and if you are not happy you had better stop worrying about it and see what treasures you can pluck from your own brand of unhappiness.”

 ~Robertson Davies

Weighing the Cost and Benefits For Your Happiness

Everyday, we have commitments. We have them to ourselves, to our work, to our families, etc. But what happens when our commitments begin to become obligations we not longer value? Well, you begin to resent them, and with the endless obligations, our lives begin to feel like giant resentments.

So, how do you change that? You have to have Read more

How to Embrace Vulnerability and Ultimately Live a Life of Purpose and Meaning

This post is part of The Awakened Heart Project

Week 17:  How to Embrace Vulnerability and Ultimately Live a Life of Purpose and Meaning 

“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” ― Brené  Brown

How to Embrace Vulnerability and Ultimately Live a Life of Purpose and Meaning 

In the last Awakened Heart post, (read it HERE if you missed it)  you were asked to watch Dr. Brené  Brown’s “The Power of Vulnerability” TED talk. This is one of my all time favorites TED talks and I hope it’s one of yours now too! Dr. Brown has managed to sum up years worth or research into some of the most invaluable information we as humans have ever received; The purpose of life is to find meaning in it, and to connect with others, and the only way to connect, is to be vulnerable.

When you think about what it takes to be strong, honest, courageous and authentic, you may or may not include vulnerable to your list. In fact, synonyms of vulnerability include: defenseless, sucker, susceptible, unsafe, weak, and in danger. Quite the contrary to anything strong and courageous!


Image credit to Brene Brown and the Ordinary Courage blog

As humans, we thrive through honest, vulnerable, Read more

The Power of Vulnerability

This post is part of The Awakened Heart Project

Week 16: The Power of Vulnerability 

“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”
― Brené Brown

The Power of Vulnerability 

Last week we talked about judgment; where it stems from, how it impacts our world, and how to stop judging others and ourselves. The thing about judgment is that it typically comes from places that harbor our own insecurities.  Think of it this way, if we completely accepted our own faults, and were not afraid of others realizing them, what would be the point in judging others? There would be none. One of main reasons we judge is to protect our own egos. But that’s not going to get us very far on the road of personal growth and transformation.

As a part of letting go of judgment, this week all you’re asked to do is watch a video and reflect on what it means to be vulnerable and how letting go of judgment can help you do that. Truly, the only way to let go of judgment is to allow yourself to be vulnerable. Next week we’ll discuss vulnerability more thoroughly.

Brene Brown Quotes

Brene Brown is a researcher that I highly admire. Her work stems Read more

We Must Learn to Let Go of Judgment

This post is part of The Awakened Heart Project

Week 15: We Must Learn to Let Go of Judgement. 

“We should be lenient in our judgment, because often the mistakes of others would have been ours had we had the opportunity to make them.”


Part 1: Do Not Judge Others

Judgment: it’s a word that has a lot of weight behind it. The words that come with judgment are most often heavy, cold and unkind. There is nothing to gain when we judge. Nothing. If you know of something, please comment and let me know, because I can’t think of one thing.

When you judge others and others judge you, you put negative energy out into the world and in your heart. You’re also spreading a message that is likely not 100% truthful. Judgment is based on personal beliefs and schemas. Therefore, when you judge, you’re really showing many of your true colors. Sometimes, these colors are uuggglllyyyyy! These colors can easily out weight the beautiful colors underneath. We all know the saying, “Let your true colors shine!” But if your true colors are dark and sullen, then your “shine” will look much more like a dark cloud. I don’t know about you, but I’ll take a sunny day, over a raining day, ANY DAY! But hey, we can’t be a masterpiece all the time. We’re human. Not a single one of us is perfect.

Which brings me to my next point… Read more

Taking Your Goal Setting and Life Setting to the Next Level

This post is part of  The Awakened Heart Project

Week 13: Taking Your Goal Setting and Life Setting to the Next Level

“The road leading to a goal does not separate you from the destination; it is essentially a part of it.” ~ Charles DeLint

Goals, Changes, and Perceptions

Last week we talked a lot about setting goal. We worked on defining and refining existing goals and identifying negative perceptions and beliefs that have hindered your ability to successfully accomplish goals from the past. If you have not completed the exercises from last weeks lesson, I recommend you do so now. It will be difficult to continue on in the coming weeks without having set some real goals, -or even just one! We’re all on a different journey here and all seek change in different ways. Your goals are yours alone.

Pushing Forces vs. Opposing Forces

Last week we discussed Outside and Inside Forces. We established that, A body will remain at rest until acted upon by an outside force. A ball will remain on a table until nudged right? Yes! This is also true for humans. We will remain stagnant until acted upon by an outside force. Or, in many cases, an INSIDE FORCE! The uniqueness we have as humans is that we have the choice to choose the inward forces as our primary means of transportation; that is, our heart and minds. I encourage you to really think about that for a minute. Outside forces can push us yes, but outside forces don’t always push us in the right direction. They often push us in the direction that is best for the outside forces.

So we have these two forces: one working against us, and one working for us. This week you’ll evaluate these forces and rationalize them. Sometimes wanting changes to occur and actually making the changes are two difficult tasks to bring together. A useful question to ask yourself is, whether you’re committed to activity of change or the results of that change. Wanting the result is what is really most important. You can think of the analogy of someone driving with his or her foot on the gas going full speed into the world. You think, “Yeah! They’re going for it!” but if there’s no destination in sight, no place they’re headed, they may end up driving in circles with nothing but an empty tank to shoe for it. You must be committed to not only the activities along the way, but truly wanting the end result of change. nature images

No change will ever exist without actually making changes. But the things holding us back are often used as blinder making us believe that we can’t make the changes. You tell yourself, “It’s not the right time”, or “I don’t have the money”. This internal dialogue will absolutely hold you back. So if you really WANT the change, you have to Read more

With a Hardened Heart, Your Life Will Always Be Empty

This post is part of The Awakened Heart Project

Week 11: With a Hardened Heart, Your Life Will Always Be Empty   

We could never have guessed

We were already blessed

Where we are…

 -James Taylor

Your Week of Reprieve

The past few weeks the posts have been long, and the material somewhat “heavy”. This week, I’m giving you a bit of a reprieve. This week I will leave you with a story I hope you will reflect upon throughout the next seven days. It will help you prepare for the next chapter of The Awakened Heart Project. Although the material this week is lighter, take 20 minutes to answer the reflection questions, as they will help you prepare for the coming weeks as well.

I hope everyone has been enjoying the “Life Lessons” thus far. I’m looking forward to this next chapter with you beginning next week. And with that, a story…

Between Peace and Joy

With an Open Heart

One day, a woman who found a folded sponge all dried and compressed, and tucked inside the hardened fold was a message she’d been seeking. She carried the hardened sponge to the sea and, up to her waist in the deep, she watched it unfold and come to life in the water. Magically, the secret of Read more

In Order to See the Path to What You Want, You Must First See What is Hold You Back.

This post is part of The Awakened Heart Project

Week 9: In Order to See the Path to What You Want, You Must First See What is Hold You Back.


“You will find that it is necessary to let things go; simply for the reason that they are heavy. So let them go, let go of them. I tie no weights to my ankles.”  -C. JoyBell C.

You Gotta Move Forward, But First…

See what’s’ holding me back? What do you mean? I know EXACTLY what I want, and what path to take, but everyone else is getting in the way. I’m not the problem, everything and everyone else is!

Really? I’m sorry to break it to you, but I highly doubt that everyone else is the problem, and you have nothing to do with YOUR OWN PROBLEM. Yes, sometimes there’s some red tape in your way. And yes, sometimes, people in positions higher than you can deter your progress up the latter of growth (for instance in work situations). However, if you REALLY want to grow, and REALLY want to move forward, why are you still letting these people or things get in your way? Take a minute and really think about it. You can’t control how other people or things pan out, only how you do. If you want things to be different you have to change. Sometimes, that means quitting your job to pursue your passions. Sometimes that means taking the road less traveled. But you always have the choice to say, “No, I will not take this anymore, I want better for myself, and I know I deserve better, so SEE YOU LATER friend!”

When you get into the pattern of saying (and believing) that you are not the problem and your external circumstances are, you get into the pattern of allowing everything and everyone else to control you. When you believe that you have options, and you control your own destiny, that is when you break free from the perceived barriers that are holding you back.

We all have things within ourselves that are holding us back, -some of them small, some of them large. But the real problem is not that these things exist, it’s that most people aren’t self-aware enough to even know they exist. Read more

Stop Being What People Want You to Be, and Start Being Who You Really Are!

This post is part of  The Awakened Heart Project

Week 8: If you keep doing what you’ve always been doing, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always been getting.

“To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.” ~E.E. Cummings, 1955

Being Who You Are Can Be Hard

In this world of crazy competition and competiveness, it’s often difficult to ignore the pressure. It seems that even in early childhood we’re being pushed to “be better” to “do better” and to be “the best”. We’re graded from A-F, where F literally stands for “failure”. It’s a vast contradiction from the lesson that there are no such things as failures, just learning opportunities. We also have numerous tests to past, and major ones at that, such as the ACT and SAT, which can truly make or break a college experience. When we enter to workforce and “adult life” there’s so much focus on what job you have, where you work, what clothes you wear, what labels you have in your closet, what you know, etc. Social media allows us to share things in different ways as well, but no matter what, whether we like it or not, nowadays, we’re constantly in the public eye and therefore being judge. How difficult. What a lot of pressure that is!!

Sadly, with that pressure, you might start to pretend you’re Read more

If You Keep Doing What You’ve Always Been Doing, You’ll Keep Getting What You’ve Always Been Getting.

This post is part of The Awakened Heart Project

Week 7: If you keep doing what you’ve always been doing, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always been getting.

“There are three kinds of people; those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder what happened.”
-Nicholas Butler Murray


 Jump Start Changes, Jump Start Life

Often we try to control when changes come to us, so we can be ready and there will be no fear involved. We want our circumstances to be “just right”. We want change to come when we most expect it and then we’ll be prepared; we’ll be in control! Ha! Yeah right! Seriously, life rarely works that way. Some of us even avoid it at all costs and simply wait for life changes anxiously. Why start something so scary by choice, right? Well, if you’re sick of your circumstances, and tired of the way things are going currently, you CAN’T JUST WAIT.

How many times have you wished things would be different but then you did nothing about it? How many times have you said, “I hate this job” but continue to go to work every day never looking for a new job? Often, our reluctance for changing our circumstances is not due to not knowing what we really want to change, but rather, fearing that Read more

With Fear Comes the Door to Freedom

This post is part of The Awakened Heart Project

Week 6: With Fear Comes the Door to Freedom

“A man that flies from his fear may find that he has only taken a short cut to meet it.”

― J.R.R. Tolkien

Read more