“The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven,” says Satan in Paradise Lost as he tries to make the best of his banishment. And that’s the devil for you. Doesn’t matter what you believe in, evil is human nature’s fundamental flaw. Most people are able to keep it at bay, mostly because they’ve been exposed to more good than bad. Life blesses some people that way. Others know nothing but pain and struggle. Fear and anxiety. It becomes so common it’s a normal way of life. The only way, so it seems. For the troubled and tormented, there was never a paradise to lose.
It’s basic psychology that how you grow to perceive the world lies solely in the environment you’re born into. It’s luck of the draw really. Some call is fate. Others call it karma. Why we come into this world with the reality we’re faced with has been a topic of research since the dawn of conscious thought. Some people are perfectly happy with next to nothing while others are drowning in the misery of their own materialism and lack of self love. The less fortunate seem to have endless suffering. Being planted in a garden of manure with little to no sunshine leaves a small chance for growth.
One of my students said it best when she told me “these kids have nothing to live for.” Unfortunately for troubled some, this statement is true. Living in poverty, violence, disappointment, anxiety, and hardened sadness has the ability to turn anyone, no matter how good their intentions may be. There is no self care. It’s hard to find the light when you’re buried under the burning barrel of a gun. It seems like the only option is to play in the fire.
Regardless of the circumstance, everyone is given a choice of which road to take. We either go down the road of the same pain we grew up with because it’s familiar, or we take our chances on the unknown in hopes of a better life. This sounds like an easy enough choice, but it’s harder than it sounds. The latter is scarier because it’s more work, less familiar, and the outcome is unknown. We prefer to stick to what we know, even if what we know we know isn’t right, or even what we really want.
For some people living for themselves apparently isn’t enough. Somewhere down the line they were taught that they weren’t good enough, smart enough, strong enough. Somewhere down the line they were taught there was only one way, this path of pain, and that paradise was exiled for them from the very beginning. It’s too hard to believe, then, when someone tries to lead you to light. Learning isn’t very difficult, but unlearning is a task only the strong will take on.
And if they refuse, then that is their path to take and choice to make. Unfortunately the ones who need the most love are the same people you should stay away from. This is where the word “toxic” comes in. People will play their pain onto everyone, and if you’re not careful, you’ll get sucked into the vortex and dragged down to their personal hell. How deep this goes depends on the person. How far you’re willing to stray from your own truth and value is tested. We’re all on a journey of choice and consequence. Do your best to stay on your own path.
It’s true that you can’t change anyone, you can only change yourself. There are some real angels in the world who will try and lead the inflicted to light, but ultimately the acceptance of guidance can only be granted by the person to whom it’s offered. If a person wants to suffer, then suffering it is. As time goes by, the offers and chances dwindle like a candle burns through wax. And then only darkness ensues.
So choose the path of the light, no matter how dim it may seem. Dark tunnels lead to a brighter endings. We may not know what’s outside, but we definitely know what is in— darkness. And is that really something you want to live with forever? The choice is yours.
Want to read more like this? Check out To the Broken Being.
“Are you an only child?” Every time I’m asked this question there’s always a feeling of dread that I’ve exposed some negative trait about myself. In my early years, I probably did do something that was selfish or bratty. I was oblivious to how I was perceived, but thinking only of my comfort and convenience was all I ever knew. Through no fault of my own, I am an only child.
As I got older I learned how to interact in close relationships through my friends who looked passed the “only child syndrome” straight into the heart of who I was. These friends became the siblings I never had, my truest, most loyal confidants. We fought, we cried, we got over it, and moved on. I grew as a person because of these friendships.
It bothers me when people perceive only child-dom as a bad thing. Sure, we’re not used to sharing, and most of us are accustomed to getting what we want. But does our initial brattiness make us bad people? Absolutely not. In fact, there are some very positive traits of only children that are harder to find in people with siblings.
1. We are fiercely independent.
Why? Because we have to be. Outside of our parents spoiling us, we’ve had to figure out how to navigate through life with our own brains. We didn’t have older siblings to watch and mimic, we didn’t have any sibling to help us do anything. It’s just me, myself, and I. This made us into adults who can figure things out alone. It made us incredibly resourceful, which leads us to:
Being an only child may have been lonely growing up, but it made us much more creative in the long run. We learned to entertain ourselves with our imagination. We learned how to problem solve alone. And our likes and dislikes? There was no copying a brother or sister because that person didn’t exist. So the things we like and do are really all about our secure sense of self.
3. We are loyal friends.
What happens when an only child finds a person to develop a strong bond with? That friend has the ability to grow into a pseudo- sister or brother. Since we don’t have siblings, our friends become our family. We cherish these relationships, especially because they don’t exist at home.
Studies have repeatedly shown that only children spend more time around adults, developing faster cognitively and emotionally, since their sense of self is clearly defined and not in competition with siblings. Only children don’t have to “fit” into any family dynamic, and are therefore able to develop themselves more fully. We set the bar of achievement, no one else. What can be more empowering than that?
I can tell you, there are some people I know who grew up with siblings who are far worse for wear than I ever was. They become frantic when something goes wrong, they vie for attention to the point of desperation, and can’t seem to stand on their own two feet to save their life. From an only child’s point of view, that behavior is weird.
So the next time you come across an only child, don’t assume the worst. We learn how to share, we learn how to admit wrongdoings, we grow, and we cherish your friendship.
A simple google search for the definition anxiety explains it as “a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.” Those of us who experience it to catastrophic levels understand that it goes beyond just feelings of worry or unease. It roots itself in our minds and stomachs, it elicits fear that shapes our entire way of thinking, chokes our entire being, and can manifest into major panic disorders that cripple us from any semblance of a normal life.
This is drastically different from the day to day normative levels of anxiety. Just to be clear, anyone can have anxiety for any reason. Like if you really want to go to some party and your ride is running late and you start feeling anxious because you just want to get there. Or if you know a big test is coming up and you want to do well. Or if you’re getting married soon. Anxious feelings are normal. It’s only when it starts to affect your life, the decisions you make, and the way you care for yourself (or don’t) that anxiety become dangerous.
I did not realize that I was living with high-functioning anxiety until after I had a complete meltdown. On the outside, I was a power house of achievement. I pushed through a master’s program, teacher credentialing program, I owned my own house, managed my own business, and kept my grades high despite stretching myself so thin any snag could snap me in half. And eventually, that’s exactly what happened.
During these phases, I would smoke weed to achieve the level of concentration I needed to get things done. Without it, I was completely and utterly stunted. At the time I saw nothing wrong with it. If it helped me concentrate, then that’s what needed to happen. I didn’t realize I was using it as a crutch. I was becoming dependent. And that, my friends, was not who I wanted to be.
When I began therapy I was given tools to be the master of my own mind and body again. Where I was once unable to identify anxious feelings, now I was able to physically feel the difference between calm and anxious. That tight feeling in my chest wasn’t supposed to be there. The fogginess of my brain wasn’t normal. Inability to eat and nausea weren’t supposed to be part of my daily routine.
One integral piece of reclaiming my mind and body is practicing meditation. So many people are reluctant to meditation because they think you need to be zen before you even start. Your thoughts will always to be there. Practicing meditation is just that— practice. Start with a few minutes every day, and increase from there. My routine is every morning and every night. But when I felt like I was going crazy, I meditated whenever I felt panicky, which was pretty much multiple times throughout the day. Take as much time as you need to take care of you. These simple moments to call your own, to get back into your own space, your own mind, makes all the difference in your day and your overall well being.
If you’re very new to meditation, I suggest downloading the Headspace app.Headspace explains meditation in an easy to understand way and guides you through the experience piece by piece.
If you’re intermediate level, using the free meditations on YouTube are great too. There are guided or unguided. All free. You don’t have to pay to learn how to get back in touch with yourself.
Another method that worked for me is called name it to tame it. Each time I would feel anxious I would name, out loud, all the different emotions I was feeling. It works. Now it’s so ingrained in my head I name it to tame it each time I’m upset, whether I’m angry, anxious, sad—doesn’t matter. If I’m worked up, just naming my feelings sends me a warm blanket of relief so my nerves don’t get out of control.
The most helpful technique was learning how to tap. Tapping targets the pressure points in your body to slow the fight or flight response we get when our minds are triggered. In just ten minutes you can feel relief— seriously. All it takes is you wanting to feel better and following through on making it happen. In the audio I listen to the woman says, “you’re teaching your body to feel calm.” At first, I was skeptical. When you’re in the throws of anxiety, waking up with teeth chattering, or nauseous, heart beating so fast it feels like it’ll rip right through your chest, it’s hard to imagine anxiety can be controlled. After a few months, I noticed that certain things that used to trigger me simply didn’t anymore. And now, a year later, I can proudly say I am in control of my mind and body.
There are two types of people in this word: people who talk and people who do. Unfortunately, talking doesn’t get you too far. All it does is create a big hype around a plume of hot air which usually dissipates faster than water boils. You know that sharp, stinging sensation hitting your face on a cold winter’s day? That’s the pain of hopes and dreams never realized. It’s a shame, really. So much misguided potential.
What causes those who seemingly have such drive to never bother starting the car? A few things can be at play here. One is that they don’t know where to begin, and that, in itself, causes them to scrap the whole idea. Another is that they are already so busy it seems almost impossible to take on more. And then there’s the possibility that the dedication and real want just isn’t there, which happens often enough. To each their own.
Anything worth having takes hard work, even being a housewife. Do you think one person makes all the money and the one who stays home still calls the shots? Sorry to tell ya, but it doesn’t work that way. Stuff those feelings deep down and smile for the camera. It’s harder than it looks, just ask the millions of therapists in this great nation of ours.
Finding motivation starts by keeping your eye on the prize. What is it you want? And how badly do you want it? Once you’ve decided that you truly, madly want this for yourself— whether it’s mental, physical, educational, emotional— then set your eye on it, day in and day out.
Imagine you already have it. It might sound stupid, but give it a try. This takes practice, dedication, integration into your daily routine. Picture what you want in your mind’s eye. Smile like it’s already yours.
The more you train your brain to focus on what you’re trying to achieve, the more your brain tells you to go and get it.
Create a goals list. What do you want to achieve? Give it a realistic due date. What are the steps you’re going to take to get there? Who do you have to call; do you need funding? Write all of this down in a journal. And if you don’t have a journal, start one. Write in it daily, cataloging the steps you’ve taken towards your goal. If you didn’t take any steps, write why. What excuses are you giving yourself? What are you doing with your time? These are important questions to ask yourself. Once we can get to the bottom of procrastination, we can begin to turn it towards productivity.
Start meditating. Even if it’s for five minutes, do it. Make a routine for motivation meditations. I personally love morning meditations because I’m a walking nightmare before 9am and the positive reinforcement helps set the foundation for the rest of the day. Same thing at night. There are so many different avenues to go down. YouTube has some great free ones, and there are myriad apps you can try out. You don’t have to know how to do anything.
The Headspace app is awesome for newbies who are just starting out. It teaches you how to come back from wandering thoughts, to soak in noise, and all the other ins and outs of beginner meditation.
The key word here is routine. None of this works if it’s done once, twice, maybe three times and never again. When it’s integrated into your life it works wonders. Whatever mental block that is keeping you from what you want will come crumbling down and you will be free to pursue that which sets your soul on fire. It all begins with the tiniest amount of effort. Don’t let yourself down.
Feeling like you can’t get started? Check out my post Overcoming the Fear of Failure.
Many people dream about becoming an entrepreneur. A life of controlling your own finances, creating your own schedule and running your own business seems much more luxurious than working for someone else. Especially now with more and more companies laying off employees, there’s no real security anywhere. Although lots of people try new ventures, many of these initial ideas fail due to a number of reasons. The biggest one is improper planning for your future financial stability.
Analyzing the Competition
Any way you start out, you really have to know what you’re up against. Understanding the difference between your business and everyone else provides the foundation for marketing your product. Think about how your service compares to other companies offering the same type of thing. How will your business be different in the way it serves its target market? Write these answers down— make a Venn diagram chart if you have to. Just make sure you know where you stand in the market. It means everything to how you will advertise and pitch your product or service.
Business Plan Basics
What kind of values do you want to embed in your company? This is the creme of your morning coffee. A brand that knows what it stands for adds a sultry attraction to your product. Ever call a company 15 times and never get an answer or a return call? Ever deal with crooked “professionals” who abscond with your money? That type of service chases new business away. Understanding what values you want to present to your potential clients helps set the precedent for business building.
Finding the Perfect Name
The name of a business is the first thing new customers and clients see. Make sure it stands out. To begin, do a brainstorm of all the words that represent what you’re selling. If you’ve been writing thoughts down from the last two paragraphs, you’ll already have words to chose from. Pick descriptive words from the business product itself and from the morals and values the business represents. Write as many words as you can. Ask friends and family to help, too. More brains are better than one. Then start piecing words together. Eventually you’ll find the perfect match.
Types of Business Ownership
Choosing what type of company you register as depends on your particular situation. The 4 main types of ownership are:
- Sole Proprietorship: The easiest form of ownership. There is no difference between the individual and the company. Both are equally responsible for the business debts and income.
- Partnership: Two or more people who share in the responsibility and income of the business. There are different types of partnerships as well, such as a General Partnership, Limited Partnership, a Limited Liability Partnership. In a General Partnership, everything about the business is equally shared. A LP has one main partner with unlimited liability and others with limited because they don’t have equal interest in the business; a LLP protects every owner from the mistakes of the other partners.
- Limited Liability Company (LLC): A LLC provides protection to the business owners by bearing the brunt of any legal action while offering the flexibility of a general partnership.
- Corporation: This is the most complex form of ownership, yet provides many tax perks while acting as a completely separate entity from the owners. There are different types of corporations such as an S Corp and a C Corp. A C Corp is pretty basic; it operates as a business separate from the owners, and can be extremely large with owners internationally. An S Corp is a smaller corporation, with finances passing through one or more owners like a sole proprietorship. There is a 100 person limit on ownership and all owners must be citizens of USA.
Filing a Fictitious Business Name
Do a search for fictitious business names in your county. If the name is taken, it’s back to the drawing board. If not, shoot over to Legal Zoom and register your business with the state easily.
Create an Elevator Pitch
At any given moment you may be called on to explain what it is your company does. Having a prepackaged 30 second pitch that encompasses how your business can help a potential client is key to maintaining interest.
- Begin with your overall goal: For the sake of this post, let’s say it’s someone who can benefit from what your new company offers. Your goal, then, will be to show value in doing business with you.
- Tell them what you do: And tell them specifics. Anyone can make bath bombs and lotions. But making SLS free bath bombs, hemp lotions, or a type of specialty is more succinct to the brand.
- Identify the unique selling proposition (USP): This is the item that sets you apart from the competition.
- End with an engaging question: Avoid “yes” or “no” answers. If you’re selling a line of soaps, ask what soaps they use and what their experience with it is.
Price your product or service correctly
Many newbies low ball their pricing and undercut themselves and their product. You don’t want to make your business seem less valuable than others or come off like you don’t know what you’re doing. People are vultures who can smell weakness. It seems to be human nature to take advantage of people when they obviously don’t know any better, so get some quotes, find a happy balance, and push your product with confidence.
On the Cheap
Conduct your business for cheap as long as you can. Too many newbies think they have to be all in, spending money they don’t have or offering too many products when they don’t have a demand yet. Unless you absolutely need a storefront location, don’t sign a lease anywhere until you know the customers will come. There are plenty of ways to get your services or products out there without spending thousands of dollars unnecessarily.
We all know of the person who jumps right into a business venture without a plan or a system in place. It’s great if an opportunity presents itself! Always accept a good offer, and always be prepared to protect yourself. When doing business with anyone, make sure there is a business contract drafted to plan out clear guidelines of the service offered and how you’ll get paid. Rocket Lawyer has free trials where you can get some pre-made templates!
Now that you have an idea of where to begin, get out there and make some boss moves.