Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Eating Evolved… The Simple Science To Optimal Health and Weight Loss

The fitness industry is a booming billion dollar business and we have been bombarded with tips and facts on how to eat, what to eat, how much or little, fad diets, trends, eating for our blood type, cutting carbs, eating only protein, eating like our caveman brothers, and more. The list is long and exhausting.         

The fact is even with all of these latest and greatest diets, the statistics by the World Health Organization show that Americans are the second fattest people in the world, only being beat out of the top spot by Mexico by a mere one percent.

So, in my extensive research and study of the body, how it works, and how to sustain longevity there is a specific nutrition plan I follow.

Now I am going to preface the information that follows with the fact that I am 48 years old, still very energetic, don’t look my age, am fit, and love my body. I have a certification in Nutrition, have done vast amounts of research, and have tried many different diets in the search for the truth in optimal health. I am not paid by any doctor, medical group, food organization, or pharmaceutical company, and I am currently not trying to sell you a diet or nutrition product.

Now that I have covered all of that, allow me to feed your mind.

What I have found is that the body needs good nutrition to sustain itself which means that we need our macro and micro nutrients and those come from the food we eat.  I have discovered a way of eating that assists your body in optimally absorbing those nutrients from the foods we eat.  It is called “Trophology” or “Food Combining”. It has been around for over 1,000 years, and it is in my view “Eating Evolved.”

“What is Eating Evolved?” you ask. It is just as it sounds, the way we combine the foods we eat when we sit to have a meal.

Understand that the body is a finely-tuned, beautiful piece of awesome machinery and it needs specific fuels and maintenance to ensure that it has a lengthy life with few breakdowns. The fuel is the food we eat, and the maintenance is our fitness regimen and preventative care.

Food combining enables your body to run at its optimal performance by boosting your digestion.

Following is an example:

Your stomach must secrete pepsin (an enzyme which only functions in a highly acidic medium) for the complete digestion of animal proteins. When you eat carbohydrates or starches, ptyalin (an enzyme which only functions in an alkaline medium) and alkaline juices are secreted into the food through the saliva in your mouth in order to breakdown the carbohydrates. When mixed together, the two enzymes cancel each other out. So if you eat a burger which combines both carbohydrates and protein, you have now waged a battle in your digestive system by pitting these two enzymes against each other with each of them battling to digest that burger. The reason you are full for much longer and feel tired or sluggish when you eat a burger versus when you eat a plate of healthy vegetables is because your digestive system is on overdrive trying to digest what you’ve just put into it.

When you eat a plate of vegetables, your digestive system excretes the exact enzyme needed and begins an efficient breakdown of the food. The body wastes no time and comes across no barriers and no battles for domination occur. Your metabolism remains at its peak, and you are hungry again sooner because your digestive system has completed its task with ease.

Food combining aka Evolved Eating allows your body to work at its optimal performance by completing the digestive process as it was designed to. And one of the benefits is that because your body is no longer struggling with the digestive process, your metabolism increases to its original programmed state. Your energy level increases, you begin to lose excess weight naturally, and I have found that you eat more often.

When I began Eating Evolved, I noticed that I became a grazer, eating smaller meals five times a day. The meals were smaller because my body let me know that it was full more quickly.

Trophology isn't new. It is a way of eating that has been around for over 1000 years. I call it “Eating Evolved” because I believe it is the optimal peak of evolution for our bodies.  We digest better which means we are absorbing the nutrients from our food properly, our metabolism is at its peak, food is not sitting in our stomach for so long that it begins to putrefy, and our bowels keep moving so we are not suffering constipation. Over the years, it has been discussed among the medical community that certain diseases start in the digestive system. Food combining keeps the digestive system moving, which in my humble opinion can keep those problems at bay.

I have also discovered that if you add a steady workout routine to food combining, you will lose weight very quickly.

One of my friends who I gave all of the Eating Evolved information to followed it and lost twenty pounds in thirty days with minimal exercise. He walked and did Yoga during this period but wasn’t hitting the gym as hard as he had been prior.

As with any nutrition program, there are rules to follow to get it perfect. It takes a lot of understanding and mindfulness to get food combining right. Also remember the body (being a finely tuned machine) is healthiest at certain levels which means it does not work properly with consumption of more than 25 grams of sugar per day. Sugar turns to fat and more than 25 grams a day is unhealthy because the body struggles with the fat. If you live a more sedentary lifestyle or are not engaging in regular workouts, be careful not to carb load or consume too much sugar.

Have I had to give up certain foods? Yes. But I didn’t want to go into what I call “Lack” so I have what I call a “treat day” where I eat whatever I want once a week. I have pizza or a burger, and I don’t follow food combining for that day. I do however try to stay within my calorie range (but that conversation is best saved for another article).

Your body is yours. It is important and if you want it to continue to be awesome, take care of it.

If you would like more information and the basic rules to "eating evolved", click on the following link: http://exceptionallifeinstitute.com/blog/eating-evolved-guidelines/

Peace and Love to the Universe!!!

Monday, January 18, 2016

The Gratitude Journal

It is a bright, beautiful, sunny day today here in Los Angeles, California. I am sitting peacefully, grateful to have the sun warm my face and the breeze gently brush my hair back. A few days before, as it was blistery cold and raining heavily, I took a moment to stop, look up into the sky, and thank the rain for all of the good it was doing the Earth. I am always just as grateful for the sun as I am for the rain because it is my understanding that they both serve a beautiful purpose in the cycle of life.

I noticed that in 2015 I was seeing more “grateful”, “gratitude” posts and inspirations from people on social media and I thought to myself “Teaching gratitude is a good thing.” In my experience, I have seen and heard so many complaints about what we don’t have, or our failures and disappointments we go through. In contrast, the successes mentioned are done so quickly and then moved on from just as quickly. Seeing “gratitude” being taught is exciting for me because I know it means that more people who truly understand it and practice it are going to be changing their lives. It is also my understanding that when you change your life for the better, you have a key to changing the world.

Reaching true “gratitude” is an enlightened space at the end of a journey that too few embark on. So if you want it, give me a few moments of your time and I will provide the compass you need to successfully maneuver with.

It begins with a story about a client I had a few years ago. Mitch is a wonderful, talented person who has a strong set of ethics and a beautiful love and loyalty for his friends and family.

Like all of us, Mitch had some ups and downs in his life but always recovered gracefully and continued moving forward on his life path. Then suddenly Mitch welcomed Andy into his life with open arms as was his nature. Andy was very charismatic and spoke in such a charming tone that anyone he interacted with was instantly caught in his enchanting spell. Andy made promises that Mitch took to heart. Mitch trusted him and yet without warning, tragedy struck and Andy stole from Mitch. Mitch was devastated – never in his life had any of his friends or family betrayed him in such a manner. Not only was he betrayed, the theft set Mitch behind in his work and finances.

Of course Mitch had been disappointed by friends before as life happens and issues arise that keep us from completing tasks on time, but never had he experienced such a deliberate betrayal. Mitch and I spoke about this incident in several of our sessions and no matter how much he understood that Andy was being who he was and that deception was a part of his identity, Mitch was unable to move forward with any gratitude toward any other aspect of his life. He became sad and unmotivated. No matter how many great things happened for him, he had a “ho hum” attitude toward them all.

In one session I explained to him how amazing his life really was beyond that one incident.  Alas, because he couldn’t see it, I advised him to begin a “Gratitude Journal” in order for him to regain a clear view on his life. He did as I instructed but continued his “ho hum” attitude. In our next session, he read an entry in his journal and we discussed it in length as I was excited for him of the successes he was having. He replied to me “Yes, that’s all great but…I don’t have…” I looked at him and explained that he was not being Grateful. He replied “I am, I did the work and it’s all great…but…” I took a breath and dug deeper into my explanation like so: “The reason the Gratitude Journal is not working is because while you look at your accomplishment with understanding, you are not completely happy or satisfied with it because you are focused on what you don’t have.”

Irritated with me, he replied back “Well of course, because while I am happy I have ‘A’, I still have yet to acquire ‘B’ and ‘B’ is very important to me.” I smiled and once again approached it from another angle and said, “I understand that you want ‘B’, and ‘B’ is very important to you.  The issue is that you are hanging all of your happiness on ‘B’ and making ‘A’ not important and not good enough for you. While you can look at ‘A’ and say ‘Okay, I have it’, your focus is on your lack of having ‘B’ so there is no real happiness or satisfaction.

When you can look at “A” and say “awesome, I accomplished that” and give yourself a pat on the back with complete understanding and happiness of that accomplishment, gratitude will happen. You will be able to look at “B” with clear eyes and understanding that it comes next within your goals but “A” is also important. I put this in terms of Andy betraying him and said “You have never experienced anything like that because you love your friends and they love you. Andy stole from you and you suffered a loss, but even though it took you time, you rebuilt everything that was taken. So while you don’t have any of the original items you acquired that were important to you, you have replaced them and are still moving forward.”

He looked at me for a few seconds before he replied “That is what I have been missing, it’s been my focus on the lack that keeps me from feeling accomplished because B is the ultimate goal and I feel like I can’t truly accomplish what I want without what I had.”

I smiled and gave him a pat on the back. I continued with “Be happy for all of the things you have and all of the things you accomplish, and of course continue to strive to reach your ultimate goals but never take away what you are accomplishing along the way.” True gratitude is never taking for granted anything we have in our life. It is when little things aren’t so little and big things aren’t the end all be all. The big things you want to accomplish in your life aren’t going to make you happy if you forget to practice Gratitude along the way, because the big things ultimately will not be enough.

Mitch left my office that day with deep understanding and a spring in his step again. He is still writing in his Gratitude Journal and being very grateful.

I have always been grateful for both the sunny days as well as the dark rainy days. The reason for my gratitude is the understanding of the good and bad qualities in each, the purpose of each and the true appreciation that they bring me and the world.

Start your own Gratitude Journal and discover for yourself how being grateful can change your life.

Peace and Love to the Universe!

You can find a guide on how to start your own Gratitude Journal at:www.exceptionallifeinstitute.com/blog/how-to-start-your-gratitude-journal/

Monday, December 21, 2015

Can Forever Be Forever?

We live in an environment of change. Life changes, the planet goes through constant transformation and so does the Universe. You are supposed to experience your Learn Grow Evolve throughout your life so that you will change. Amongst all of this change, we are used to transitions in housing, jobs, friendships, and love. But wait a minute – when it comes to love, don’t we look forward to saying “forever”?

Statistically, there are more divorces than marriages sustained in a happy, beautiful, connected space.
We all want the fairytale relationship, the forever with the perfect soul mate. The statistics are so heavily lopsided because we are told one thing yet taught something entirely different.

The romantic stories portray couples living happily ever after yet do not reveal how they accomplished that happiness. The stories don’t talk about the work that goes into building a successful relationship nor you on how to make your relationship last in blissful happiness. The stories simply say 1. boy meets girl, 2. there is a spark, 3. they believe they are in love, 4. a little adventure takes place, 5. boy rescues girl and then 6. happily ever after occurs naturally because they have found each other, overcame that first trial, and emerged from it still in love.

However at the end of that story, life moves on and trials continue. Issues with communication occur, feelings get hurt, and trust is broken. Safety and security diminish to unhappiness, secrets, misunderstandings, and arguments. Eventually the couple breaks up, but that isn’t part of the fairytale that is shared with us.

Many couples at the end of their rope have expressed to me that only after going through a lengthy relationship and discovering more about themselves did they realize that they did not truly love their partner. The years spent together were wasted and they felt bad because they could have had something real, beautiful, and loving.

I understand the reason many go through such relationships, and I am going to share it with you here so that your next relationship will be a part of the successful statistic. Then in time, that statistic will begin to grow.

The first key here is learning – we emulate what we are shown.

The ideals we have about relationships start in childhood watching our parents. If we see our parents tangled in a bad relationship, that is what we learn. If cheating is forgiven then we learn cheating hurts but does not matter. If cheating isn’t forgiven, we learn cheating destroys. If there is frequent loud arguing whether with an apology or not, we learn abusive dialogue is acceptable. If we watch our parents make excuses and constantly disappoint each other, we learn life is full of disappointments and we should just accept it that fate. If we see that our parents have simply settled with no desire to make changes then we learn to settle as well.

In the same way, if we watch our parents communicate with love and patience, we acquire healthy communication. If we watch our parents make promises they can keep, we learn the importance of giving your word.  If our parents lead healthy relationships, then we understand that is what we can look forward to achieving.

We react to this learning in two ways, one of which is through a conscious comprehension of who we are and what we want. We realize we want something entirely different and thus learn from our parents’ mistakes. In the second way of learning, we fall into the same bad behaviors that we are shown and continue that cycle throughout our lives, always struggling to get out of it but not knowing how.

The problem is most of us don’t learn from other people’s mistakes and will reflect poor teaching through poor behavior. What we learn is what we carry and there aren’t enough accessible learning materials out there to teach you how to have your “happily ever after.” So when going out into the world and looking for our soulmate, we often don’t know what to look for nor what will be healthy for us and for them.

After working with many struggling couples and individuals who wanted a successful relationship, I developed the course “Breaking the True Love Code.” I have turned this course into a manual in which I teach tools that allow people to work towards their “happily ever after” by first building a healthy foundation then working to maintain it. We search for what I call “love longevity,” which brings us happiness, comfort, harmony, and shared time with our best friend for life.

If you are in a relationship now or if you are seeking your soulmate, seize this moment and learn about yourself.  Take time to gain inner clarity, which will effectively prevent errors while paving the way for future happiness. Gaining inner clarity requires complete honesty with yourself – about who you are at your core, what you truly want out of life, and what you are willing to compromise or not compromise.

Define the difference between what you want and what you were taught to want. Oftentimes what we were taught to want throws us off of our core, and when we don’t live within our core, we only experience momentary happiness instead of continual happiness. If we discover and understand our Core, then our soulmate search will be fruitful and the relationship will have a better chance at “Love Longevity.”

Our relationship compass is also hindered by out-of-control hormones and lust. This passionate pull towards another person may lead one to dive into a potentially unhealthy relationship, however knowing yourself and your body will aid in acknowledging when this occurs.  You will know to differentiate the “hormone trauma” from the “soulmate search” and behave accordingly.

In finding your perfect mate, you must also share the same life goals. This doesn’t mean that you and your partner have to have the same career. Instead, it means that you and your partner must agree upon what you both want and in what direction your relationship and your futures are to head. It must be communicated effectively so that you both travel down the same life path together. Of course, trials will come up to push you through change and evolution, however if you are on the same path then evolution shouldn’t break you up. If you are always communicating and in mutual agreement on where you want your lives to go then your travels together will be blissful.

A successful relationship lives in a land of “mutual”s: mutual respect, compassion, empathy, patience, love, tenderness and an abundance of mutual effective communication.

My book Universe 101: Learn Grow Evolve expands upon relationships - you can receive a free copy of the eBook at: www.theuniverseseries.com/secretsite. I hope that you are able to read the book and learn this chapter because if learned properly, it can be your starter guide towards achieving “love longevity”.

Even the healthiest relationship will face trials and tribulations, some that we are ready for and  others that we are not. We shouldn’t approach relationships with expectations that there will be no problems or that they will leave you brutally heartbroken. Relationships should begin with understanding yourself, being honest with your potential partner, and move towards growing through the trials and tribulations while continuing to show each other kindness, compassion, and true love.
If you do all of the above and continue to evolve then my answer is yes, forever can be forever.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

How Qi Gong and Tui Na Helped A Wounded Athlete Get Back On Her Feet

While attending the Epee Women’s World Cup in Legnano, Italy I was fortunate enough to meet fencing athlete Arsenelle Babela. Making my way down a very crowded hall toward the tournament arena after finishing a warm cup of tea, I almost ran headlong into Arsenelle and her second Mom. Her second Mom (the Mother of one of her team mates who had become very close with Arsenelle as well) was trying to support Arsenelle’s weight while also carrying her equipment bag. Seeing Arsenelle wince in pain and tears stream down her face, I asked if I could help. The second Mom (whose name I didn’t get) handed me her equipment bag and as easily as lifting a sack of potatoes, tossed Arsenelle onto her back and carried her down the hallway. I quickly followed as we all searched for the athlete’s infirmary. We arrived to find the door closed and locked. Unsure of when it would open, who was working there, if we were allowed to use it or if it was only for the use of each team’s medical care provider, the second Mom slid Arsenelle off of her back and helped her lean up against the wall.

Arsenelle was still crying from the severe pain she was experiencing and I genuinely felt bad for her. I asked her what had happened. Through a steady stream of tears, she explained that she was competing in her final match when she had landed wrong and felt her foot twist one way and her knee buckle in the opposite direction, followed by an intense surge of pain through her body. She further explained she could not put any pressure on that particular foot without excruciating pain shooting up her leg.

I asked her if she would let me look at her injury and she shook her head yes. We gently sat her on the floor and I proceeded to examine her leg, ankle, and foot. When she attempted to take her sock off, the pain was so severe she began to tremble. I instructed her to stop and to leave it on for the moment and then continued to examine her entire leg. Once I determined the severity of her injury, I understood her pain. Her muscles were extremely upset and screaming for help.

I had asked another fencer to please get some ice for Arsenelle and they returned with a white-haired woman carrying an injury kit. She took a can of spray ice/coolant from her kit and sprayed Arsenelle’s ankle down. Then she took out an ice pack, punched it vigorously (I don’t ever want to upset her), and placed it on Arsenelle’s ankle with some type of webbing wrap. As quickly as she had appeared, she was gone.

I needed to work on Arsenelle’s ankle to pull out the enormous pain she was still in and I knew she wasn’t going to understand what was happening to her. So as is my way, I made a joke to her second Mom about how amazed I was that she had just thrown Aresenelle’s equipment bag at me and then immediately picked Arsenelle up onto her back. Her second Mom didn’t quite understand me (because she doesn’t speak English), but laughed when Arsenelle translated for her. Her second Mom then continued my line of humor, saying that she has a powerful back because she has a powerful butt. We all laughed and then I turned to the young injured athlete and gently explained that in order for me to work on her injury, she was going to feel some discomfort and needed to keep a steady breath and grab onto her second Mom’s hand.

Once she reached out to her second Mom for support, I began my work on Arsenelle’s ankle and foot with a combination of Tui Na and Qi Gong. I paused to give her a moment of rest and asked her to move her toes. She slowly followed my instructions and winced in pain.

As I continued to use the same procedure on her again, she looked at me curiously and suddenly, her tears stopped. Knowing the full extent of her injury, I explained to her I needed to do more work on her and being on the floor in a busy hallway wasn’t the best place to do it.

Arsenelle told me there was a table in the next gym we could use. We all helped her up, and once again her second Mom lifted her up onto her back, walked down the hall, into the arena and climbed the stairs all the way up to the table we were going to use. Feeling a bit better, Arsenelle was about to put pressure on her foot to climb onto the table herself until I quickly snapped “don’t do that yet.” Reaching out to her, we all assisted her onto the table.

She lay down and I used the techniques I had learned in Qi Gong to assess once again what needed to be done to best help her. I then worked on her using Tui Na techniques, finding every place within her injury that needed healing help. A few times, she winced in pain and tears flowed again and each time, we paused and I led her through breathing techniques to calm her down. Once she caught the hang of the breathing techniques, I would continue the process. During the healing, she was so surprised each time I found a spot on her that was in pain that was neither her foot nor ankle. She thought it was only her foot and ankle but as I worked on her, she discovered what I knew… that there was more to her injury.

Continuing my work, I intermittently checked in with her to assess pain levels. She was pleasantly surprised as the pain decreased and her body started feeling better. She looked up, smiled at me, and asked “How did you know that there were other places in my body that were hurt? I thought it was only my ankle”. I explained I understand the body very well and injuries can be more complex than we initially think they are. It is easily assumed that taking a direct hit to the body in one area would cause an injury only to that area, but that isn’t always the case.

She let me know she was feeling much better and sat up. I instructed her to rest and not to put any weight on her foot for a while. She repeated that she was feeling better and told me that if she qualified, she wanted to compete in the next round of matches. I took a deep breath and told her “No, we just fixed it and the healing needs time to settle in.” She said she wouldn’t know if she made it into the next rounds for another 2 hours and that she would stay off of it during those hours. I explained to her that if she hurt herself in the next match we would have to do that same treatment all over again.

She looked at me with the sweetest face and told me that she really wanted to compete. I sighed and shook my head but I understood. I’ve competed in sports as well and know what it’s like to not want to give up even though the odds are against you.

I explained that she had to stay off of that foot and not put any pressure on it for at least an hour, and that I would check her after that and assess what needed to be done. I told her more than likely we would have to wrap her leg in order for her to compete. She happily agreed, telling me she would follow all of my instruction.

We set her in a place she could rest and then I went outside to breathe and enjoy a moment of the beautiful day. After some time passed, she came and found me (with the help of a friend she was leaning on) and let me know she did qualify to compete in the next round, she felt much better, and she really wanted to compete. After another assessment I could see that her injury was better but in order for her to compete her leg would need to be wrapped. She agreed to me wrapping it and went back to the place she had been resting. Her second Mom found me and let me know she was waiting for me.

Using Qi Gong to assess the points of pain that were in her leg, I wrapped it where I felt it was necessary. She was a bit surprised at the technique I used as it was different than what she had seen other people do but when she stood up on her own and put weight on her foot her eyes popped open. She looked at me and said “Wow!” I asked her how she felt and she said “There is no pain!”

Once again I warned her to be gentle on it and careful not to re-injure herself. She happily smiled and nodded. We took the photo you see attached to this article and I watched her walk off with one of her team mates back into battle and all smiles.

Bravo Arsenelle Babela for your courage!

For all athletes, competitors, and people who deal with pain, I hope this story encourages you to learn more about Qi Gong and the science behind this 3,000 year old art of understanding the human body. Only by understanding and opening our minds will we learn, grow, and improve.

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Friday, September 4, 2015

Education and Life Lessons

Growing up in my family, the importance of education was always stressed to us.  Growing up financially challenged made it difficult to receive higher education as public school was the only thing available to us.  Growing up hyper active and with a tendency to challenge everything that was told to me, made it difficult for those trying to teach me.

I’ve realized that while I love to learn and I love the process of studying and discovery, I am a poor sit-still, classroom student.

I believe learning throughout the entirety of your life is vital for your growth and evolution.  Think about it, did we stop learning when we were 5 years old?  Of course not, we’ve gained a considerable amount of knowledge since the time we were 5.   So you might say to me, “Of course I have learned, I went to school.” So what about after college, did you continue to study in a classroom setting or have you been learning from your life lessons outside of the classroom?

We have been taught that a formal education is quite valuable to us while the lessons we learn from our life experiences aren’t accepted with as much understanding or held with the same value.  While a formal education can help us land a job or help us succeed within our workplace, it is the lessons you learn in your life (when learned properly) that can lead you to happiness, good health, true love, and continual success.

The process isn’t easy and it takes patience, complete honesty, understanding, acceptance, and forgiveness. I have discovered much in my life from lessons both mine and not mine.  Some errors in judgment I have repeated many times and after many hours of thought process have finally learned the lesson being taught to me while other lessons in my life came quite easily and I moved on swiftly.  I have been guilty of stubbornness and of being my own worst critic.  Through the role of being my own worst critic, I began to understand that I shouldn’t be and that everyone learns at their own pace. Each person speaks a specific language, and everyone (when they have proven they not only want to change but are putting in the effort) deserves a second chance.

There is immense value in knowledge and in knowledge of one’s self.  Someone told me the other day that they were “good at this moment” and felt that they “didn’t need to learn anything else right now.”  I gave them a simple bit of advice and said “Now that you are good, you should want to learn even more because life keeps moving.  Since you are feeling good right now your mind is relaxed and therefore open to new knowledge.  Learn more now because it might be knowledge you need that will help you at a point in your life when you’re not so good.”

The moments we are at a great place in our lives is the best time to continue learning, growing and evolving.  Evolution is a beautiful thing when you are at a place of happy acceptance.  The moments we are in turmoil and unhappiness is a great time to learn, grow, and evolve because it will keep you moving toward that great place.

Never turn your back on learning something new.  What you learn today could help you or someone else in any of your tomorrows.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

If I can do it... So can you!

We have all experienced the daunting feeling of setting out to accomplish our life’s goals.

The moment we have that first flash of genius it all seems possible, realistic, and reachable.  Then reality sets in and we remember who we are and where we’re at in our lives.  We begin to doubt our ability to really achieve our goals.  A big factor that plays into our reality is that throughout our life we’ve all heard the word “no” so many times from so many different people that we have instinctively begun to repeat that same “dirty” word to ourselves. This learned behavior puts us into a place of learned “self-doubt”.

But there’s a way to break free of that self-doubt and make it easier to accomplish your life’s goals.

I have accomplished many things over the course of my life, but this story is not about me touting those accomplishments to you.  This story is for you because if I can do it then so can you.

Learned behavior:
In my early learning years, I grew up poor and in a very unloving environment.  In fact I can very easily say it was an environment of extreme criticism.  At a very young age I was repeatedly told that I wasn’t wanted, that everyone in the family would be better off without me, that I was worthless and would always be worthless, that I was stupid, and that I wouldn’t amount to very much.

I then felt worthless and developed a continuous attitude of self-criticism because everything I did was criticized.  This behavior was easily learned since it was taught to me by those who I believed should love me the most.  Because that is what family does right? Family is supposed to be loving and supportive, to teach you valuable lessons that you keep and use to live the most successful life possible and contribute to society so society can evolve. Right?

Even through all of the criticism, I only had one dream - to be in the entertainment industry and make great films.  At 20 years old I had my daughter and my dream was brutally crushed by my family.  They made me painfully aware that people in entertainment are starving artists and that so few really make it to success.  They told me I would make my baby starve.  I remembered growing up poor and I wanted better for my daughter so I told myself “No, there is no way that I could be a starving artist because I can’t let my baby starve.” 

Because I did feel worthless and didn’t know what to do or where to turn, I took some tests to determine what occupation would enable me to provide for my daughter.  I did my best on the tests but really didn’t expect much.  What came back to me was nothing short of mind-blowing.  My test results showed that I was very smart.  However I had become so accustomed to self-criticism that even this knowledge didn’t change my feelings of worthlessness.  What did happen was that I decided to take the safe route – I forgot about being in entertainment and I became a financial analyst.

Effects of Learned Behavior:
There are certain ramifications as a result of criticism, you see. And because I was berated constantly as a child, adolescent, and teenager, it affected me in the following ways:

-        I was distant in all of my relationships – friendships, partners, and work-related ones.  I wanted to be close to my family but because I couldn’t have that, I didn’t believe I could obtain that degree of closeness with anyone else no matter how much I wanted it.
-        I always felt as though I had to be the stronger person when dealing with my family and keep things together no matter how much they punished me.   My motto was “Tough out the pain and keep moving forward.”
-        It was necessary to have more value than everyone else.  I had to prove my worth in order to show there was a need to have me around.
-        I didn’t love myself because I had never learned how to and was still waiting for my biological family to love me first.

In all of my relationships, people have always leaned on me.  My partners have always needed different types of healing, moral support and someone to help them accomplish their goals. My immediate biological family needed financial help.  I always fulfilled need but never felt loved or wanted for just being me.

As a result of the need to have more value, I worked extremely hard to accomplish goals that I set for myself.  I set these goals to prove my value to everyone.  No matter how many people told me “No”, “You can’t do it” or “You’ll never accomplish that” I refused to listen.  The need to prove my worth was my driving force. 

It wasn’t until my early 30’s when I finally stood my ground and refused the abuse that the abuse stopped. I stood my ground because in all of those years I was asking myself questions, researching, and working on myself. What I discovered was how to understand criticism and turn it from something harmful into motivation for productivity.  This practice took years to master as I was still involved with my biological family, waiting for their love, and did not have anyone to show me the way.  Hopefully by reading this, it won’t take as long for you to find your way.

How to Break the Criticism Cycle:
You see there are several reasons why someone criticizes you.  1) Because they love you, see an issue that could possibly hurt you, and are attempting to make you aware of it.  2) They are jealous of you and don’t like that you have what they feel they cannot.  3) They are afraid that you will move past them and they will lose you.  4) They are a bully and feel better about themselves when they tear others down.

I learned these four points matter when listening to criticism and I put that to use.  When I am criticized by anyone, I ask myself the following: 1) Which one of the above four is that person? 2) What is their motive?  3) Is their criticism coming from the right place? 4) Is there any validity to it?  5) How can I better myself/the situation from their criticism?

I took the good part of the criticism, the good lessons (even though they were taught harshly) and made them a part of my daily practice.

Criticism: You are worthless and lazy.
What I took from that:  Hard work is necessary to achieve goals.  Through hard work, there is nothing that I couldn’t accomplish.
Criticism:  If you don’t know the answer now then you won’t ever know it.
What I took from that:  Ignorance is not bliss and educating yourself is necessary.
Criticism:  If you do that, you’re going to fail and then you will have nothing.
What I took from that:  If you fall down, don’t cry.  You should get back up and try again.
Criticism:  There is something wrong with your brain. You are too stupid to figure it out for yourself.
What I took from that: If you cheat at something you are only cheating yourself.
Criticism: That’s a stupid question.  Don’t ever ask me that again.
What I took from that: They don’t know the answer and hearing “No” doesn’t hurt me or deter me.
I made sense of all of these criticisms and made them all work for me.

I used those same questions from How to Break the Criticism Cycle to understand why the abuse in my life happened as well as to forgive.  Why forgive? Because I understand not forgiving someone’s wrong doings to me only hurts me.  Putting all of the things I’d discovered to use, I learned to accomplish goals for positive reasons.

Then I mastered new things like:
1) How to set goals (I call them my ABC guide) and stick to them.
2) Baby-steps are important when breaking new ground.
3) Strong ethics and morals, while not always “cool” to all people, demonstrates integrity and the right people will gravitate toward you.
4) Not only strength but confidence also comes from within, and you have to believe you can do amazing things.
5) You can inspire others by just being you.
6) Building an amazing “life house” or business takes laying a solid foundation.

And with all of this learning, I have won awards, received accolades, promotions, and raises, gained recognition from my peers, pursued my dream of having a career in entertainment, gained lots of love in my life, and am confident that I can continue to accomplish the goals I set for myself.

Throughout the years, I have been asked numerous times:
“How do you do the things you do?”
“That seemed impossible, how did you accomplish that?”
“How did you grow up the way you did and turn out so well?”
And my answer is that in the beginning I accomplished things for all of the wrong reasons.
I wanted to have a better life and to be a better person, and in order to achieve that I knew that I had to work on myself – to resolve those past “bad” issues so I could be free of them for good and accomplish goals for the right reasons.  I believe I can accomplish what I set out to do, I don’t ever expect it to be easy, and I know that lots of hard work is something I am not afraid of.

In this story, I have given you the same tools I utilized to grow, succeed, love sincerely, and find happiness in my life. Learn them, use them, and watch your life change.  Because if a girl who came from abuse and poverty can do it, so can you!

Peace and Love to the Universe!