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Leave the burden of guilt behind

Leave the burden of guilt behind

Feelings of guilt are distressing and draining. There doesn’t seem to be a cure. You’ve done or said something you regret. You’re uncomfortable without an obvious solution. What can be done about it now?

Get over your guilt with these strategies:

  1. Determine if you should feel guilty. Whose standards are you using? Your parents’? Your own? Your church’s? Can you be sure the source is correct? Ensure that you’re judging yourself by a set of standards you deem to be worthy. It’s your choice.
  2. Learn from it. Why do you feel guilty? Obviously, you did or said something that you consider to be wrong. Once you know why you feel guilty, you’re in a position to benefit from it. Ensure that you don’t repeat the behavior in the future.
  • Visualize yourself behaving in a new and improved manner.
  1. Sometimes guilt is unproductive. Imagine that you feel guilty about missing your child’s play because you were required to work. If you did everything within your power, there’s no benefit to feeling guilt. Does your behavior require modification? If not, there’s no reason to feel guilty.
  2. Apologize. It can be as simple as saying you’re sorry. You’ll feel better afterwards, even if your apology is rejected.
  3. Accept that you feel guilty. Acknowledge your feelings and the pain that goes with them. Accept that you made a mistake. Realize that it will pass.
  4. Forgive yourself. Even if the other person won’t forgive you, you can forgive yourself. Be kind and gentle with yourself. No one is perfect.
  5. Let it go. Once the event is over, you’ve apologized, and modified your behavior, let it go. At that point, what purpose does your guilt serve? Take a deep breath, let it out, and move on. Keep your mind occupied with more productive thoughts.
  6. Have gratitude. Rather than saying to yourself, “I should have told Mary the truth”, tell yourself, “I’m grateful I’ve learned the importance of honesty.” Negative experiences can still be worthy of gratitude.

Avoid guilt in the future:

  1. Think instead of react. Guilt is often the result of acting without thinking. When you become emotional, take a moment to collect yourself. It’s easy to do or say something that you’ll later regret.
  2. Be less critical of yourself. Guilt and the need to be perfect go hand in hand. Avoid expecting perfection. It’s unrealistic and leads to feelings of guilt. Everyone makes mistakes on a daily basis.
  3. Create realistic beliefs. Maybe you believe that a good parent should do certain things, but you don’t or can’t do them. Are you sure your opinion on the matter is reasonable? Maybe you believe that a good parent would never get frustrated, which is unrealistic.

You’re not alone in feeling guilty. Some people spend a lifetime wallowing in guilt. How long you feel guilty is up to you. Learn from your mistakes and go forward with a new perspective and strategy. Apologize and forgive yourself.

The real shame is repeating behavior that results in guilt. Avoid repeating your mistakes and be gentle with yourself. Practice making the choice that doesn’t result in guilt. The more you practice, the more healthy choices you’ll make, and the less guilt you’ll have to deal with.

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Taking breaks for more happiness & less stress!

Taking breaks for more happiness & less stress!

The Western world views breaks as a tool to promote laziness. But your effectiveness and efficiency will improve if you take regular breaks. You can work more intently and for more hours each day if you’ll give yourself a break at least once per hour. You won’t just get more done, you’ll be happier and less stressed, too.

Learn about the following 7 advantages of taking breaks:

1. You’ll get more done. Try a little experiment at work. First, spend a day attempting to do nothing but work for the entire day and note how much you accomplish. The following day, focus on your work for 30 minutes and then take a 5-minute break. Notice how much more you accomplish.

This applies to physical activities as well. Studies have shown the average marathon runners actually complete the race faster and more comfortably if they take regular walking breaks of up to a mile each.

2. You’ll feel much better at the end of the day. While performing the previous experiment, notice how you feel physically and mentally at the end of the day. You’ll feel nearly as good at the end of the day as you did at the beginning if you take breaks. Without breaks, you’ll feel exhausted.

3. The quality of your work is improved. The ability to focus is limited. Your mind begins to wander at some point. The quality of your work is compromised when your focus begins to wane.

Taking regular breaks is an effective way to ensure the quality of your work doesn’t suffer.

4. Breaks provide opportunities for evaluation. It’s important to regularly assess if you’re working effectively. If you put your head down and never look up, you can find yourself lost in the weeds. A break is an opportunity to re-evaluate the situation.

5. Taking a break can lower your stress. It’s important to intermittently disengage from any activity that causes stress. Your ability to work is compromised as your stress rises beyond a certain level

6. Breaks help to prevent boredom. Studies suggest that it’s more effective to regularly disengage and reengage with goals rather than focusing on them for long periods of time. The same idea applies to your work. Avoid spending too much time on one task before taking a break. You’ll maintain a higher level of interest in your work.

7. You can use your breaks to get other things done. Imagine how much you can accomplish with 8 or more 10-minute breaks each day. You could spend those 10 minutes performing an exercise or two, meditating, staying in contact with friends and family, tidying up, paying bills, or practicing the violin.

A break is a change in activity. Breaks don’t have to be spent daydreaming, though that’s not a bad way to spend a break.

You might be wondering how long a break should be and how frequently they should be taken. Science has an answer. For most people, the ideal break schedule is a 5-minute break every 30 minutes or a 10-minute break every 60 minutes. It can also be helpful to take a longer break every 2-3 hours.

Try a few different schedules and see what works for you. As a general rule, tasks that require more brainpower or muscle power require more frequent breaks.

Breaks are enjoyable way to add hours to your day. Your output will increase and you’ll also enjoy your free time more since you won’t be exhausted. Give yourself a break today and enjoy the many benefits taking regular breaks provides.

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Getting a handle on feeling overwhelmed

Getting a handle on feeling overwhelmed

Do you have so much going on that you feel overwhelmed? A busy life with too many demands can lead to feeling overwhelmed and stressed. Work, family, and other obligations can prove to be too much at times. Working even harder to rectify the situation seems unreasonable when you feel as if you’re already working at full capacity.

Just remember that you’ve felt overwhelmed in the past and made it through to the other side. Things get better.

Minimize your feelings of overwhelm and stress with these 10 strategies:

1. Take a deep breath. Once you start to feel overwhelmed, things tend to go downhill quickly. Give yourself a break by relaxing, taking a deep breath, and slowing down your brain. Scan your environment and describe it to yourself. It will disengage your mind from your stressors and bring it back to reality.

2. Focus on what you can do. In any situation, there are things you can control and things you can’t control. Keep your focus on those things within your influence.

3. Let go of those things that are out of your control. There’s no reason to think about it and get yourself more agitated if you can’t do anything about it. Learn to let go of anything you can’t influence.

4. Focus on solutions. Most of us make the mistake of focusing on the problem and imagining negative outcomes. This strategy decreases your capability and causes even more stress. If you’re going to put your brain to work, use it to find the best possible solution!

Ask yourself what you can do to eliminate or lessen the sources of your stress. Write down your ideas.

5. Avoid making assumptions. Are things actually as stressful as you think they are? Is it possible that you’ve misinterpreted the facts or made poor assumptions? Gather all the facts before deciding if there’s a reason to be overwhelmed. Question your judgment and ensure that you’re on solid ground before hitting the panic button

6. Give yourself a change of scenery. Get out of the house and the office for a few hours. Your environment affects your perspective. Spend some time in nature if possible.

7. Spend time with a friend. Go out for pizza and movie with a good friend. Rely on those in your social circle for advice, comfort, and a quick distraction. Which of your friends is best at making you feel better?

8. Take part in a relaxing activity. What relaxes you? Lying on the couch with your headphones? Going for a run? Getting a massage? Spend an hour or two decompressing and you’ll feel better.

9. Cut down on your obligations. Maybe you’re trying to do too much. Consider limiting the number of activities you participate in. Are you taking on too many responsibilities at work?

Consider which of your obligations are most important and get rid of the rest.

10. Remember when you’ve been overwhelmed in the past. You survived. In fact, you might even laugh today about how stressed you were back then. Hindsight is 20-20. Consider that you’re likely to feel the same way in the future regarding your current situation.

Slow your mind and take a deep breath when first faced with feelings of overwhelm. Try to maintain an objective perspective. It’s easy to get carried away when you’re feeling stressed! Take a timeout and make a list of the items you can control. Search for solutions that address those items.

Let go of those items you can’t control. Rely on friends and family to help you cope, since you’d do the same for them.

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Dealing with criticism

Dealing with criticism

Would you rather hear that you have beautiful eyes or that you’re a horrible dancer? Compliments are easy to take. Criticism isn’t quite as easy. But criticism can be invaluable to your long-term success. Criticism is nothing more than advice in disguise. You can choose to benefit from it or ignore it. However, not all criticism is accurate, well-intended, or beneficial.

Receive criticism and use it to your advantage. Check out these 9 ways to benefit:

  1. Change your perspective. We naturally love to hear compliments and shy away from criticism. While compliments feel good, they don’t accomplish much else. Criticism can sting, but can ultimately be extremely helpful. Learn to appreciate criticism. You might even consider seeking out criticism as a tool for learning and self-development.
  2. Determine if the criticism is constructive or destructive. Destructive criticism can be ignored. The other person is the issue when criticism is intended to cause harm. Constructive criticism has the potential to be helpful. Consider the source and the situation before deciding on the intention of the criticizer.
  3. Swallow your pride. No one enjoys hearing about their shortcomings or errors. However, criticism can be a gift. Maybe you’re learning something that would have taken years to figure out on your own. Leave your ego at the door and listen. No one is perfect.
  4. Take your time. There’s a tendency to responds quickly and negatively to criticism. You might have the right to be upset, but then again, you might not. Take the time to think about it before responding. If possible, sleep on it or take the weekend.
  5. Be compassionate with yourself. Just because you may have done something the wrong way doesn’t mean you’re less valuable as a person. Give yourself a break. Handling criticism well is one way to show yourself that you really do stand above the crowd.
  • Few people can take criticism well. You’ll have a big advantage over others if you can.
  1. Consider the validity. When criticism comes from the right source, it’s likely to be helpful and true. Be objective and determine if there is truth to the criticism. Sometimes people are operating from false impressions. Not all criticism is valid. It’s up to you to determine if the criticism has any value.
  2. Incorporate the information into your life. Now you know that you can be impatient, cheap, distant, or that you’re a bad driver. Make a plan to address this issue if it’s important to you. Remember that if a trusted source was willing to bring it up, it might be important. Give it the attention it deserves.
  3. Determine that you’re going to do better next time. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to put your new knowledge to the test. Bide your time until that opportunity arrives. This attitude can do wonders for your self-esteem and feeling a sense of control over your life. Just keep trying to improve. There’s always tomorrow to try again.
  4. Be thankful. It’s not easy to give constructive criticism to a friend, employee, or family member. Be thankful that someone was willing to do that for you.

You can choose to get angry or become thoughtful when criticism comes your way. Some criticism is only intended to be hurtful and should be ignored. Constructive criticism from a trusted source can be a great learning opportunity. Consider whether the criticism is accurate and valid before applying it. Be grateful for the constructive criticism you receive. It wasn’t easy on the person providing it.

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Building self-worth

Building self-worth

Happiness is elusive without a sense of self-worth. If you’re not happy with yourself, how can you be happy about life in general? Self-worth is about believing that you have value as a person. It’s not how you compare to others. It’s your belief in your intrinsic value as a human being. We’re all important. Some of us just require a little more convincing than others.

Maximize your feelings of self-worth with these 11 ways:

1) Forgive yourself. You have plenty of guilt and resentment toward yourself that you’ve been carrying around for years. You chose the wrong major in college or broke up with your significant other via text. Give yourself a break and vow to do better in the future.

2) Volunteer. Spending your time in a valuable and selfless way is a quick means to raise your opinion about yourself. Just two hours a week has been shown to make a difference.

3) Avoid gossiping. Gossip probably has gotten you in trouble in the past, and you know you shouldn’t do it. Try pointing out positive traits and actions in others, instead. You’ll both feel better!

4) Face a few of your smaller fears. We feel bad that we’re afraid of things that we know we shouldn’t fear. Face a few small fears and overcome them. You’ll be impressed with yourself.

5) Set personal boundaries and enforce them. There’s no reason to allow others to use or manipulate you. Decide what you consider to be reasonable behavior and enforce it. Word will spread, and your life will be smoother.

6) Set goals you can achieve. It’s important to have big goals, but small goals are important, too. Big goals lead to big accomplishments, but smaller goals can provide a great lift to your self-worth. Make it easy to succeed on a regular basis. Completing your daily to-do list is an example of completing a smaller goal.

7) Define your values and live by them. It’s important to determine what you’re willing to do and what you’re not willing to do, as well as what’s important and unimportant to you. If you’re able to live by these values, you won’t have a reason to think badly of yourself.

Most people don’t take the time to define their values. They rely on a vague sense of right and wrong from childhood. Give it some thought and put your ideas down on paper. When you’re stuck with a tough decision, pull out the list.

8) Be willing to make changes in your life. The same life will provide the same results. Some changes will be necessary if your goal is to enhance your self-worth.

9) Voice your opinion. Do you keep your opinion to yourself because you think no one cares? Maybe you put everyone else’s happiness above your own. Neither is good for your self-image. Your opinion matters. Share it.

10) Minimize time spent with others who don’t appreciate you. Do you have a friend or family member that drags down your self-worth? Think about letting them go or spending less time with them.

11) Make decisions. Indecisiveness creates stress and frustration. It’s also a way of avoiding responsibility. Take a reasonable amount of time and then pull the trigger. You’ll feel more in control of your life.

When you think negatively about yourself, you lower your expectations. You even begin to look for reasons to support those thoughts. This is the ultimate in self-defeating behaviors. Your feelings of self-worth influence your ability to be happy and successful. Be proud of who you are as a person. Life will be easier and more enjoyable.

 

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