1. Do you “should” on yourself? Do you beat yourself up and remind yourself of what you “shoulda, woulda, coulda” done? When you are ‘shoulding’ on yourself, you send yourself the message that what you do isn’t quite good enough, You fill yourself with shame and self-contempt. You see yourself as a failure.
  2. Do you resist things “as they are” when “as they are” is not what you would like them to be? Clinging to the old familiar habits and patterns, closed to trying new ways of being and doing. Then you cry, fret and throw temper tantrums so you can stay stuck in misery and unhappiness.
  3. Do you react to life rather than take action when confronted by problems. Get angry and upset. Blame others? Let them know just how pissed off you really are? Do you see challenges as obstacles that block you or as opportunities to learn and grow?
  4. Do you play the role of the victim> Wallowing in self-pity. Poor me. Why do all these horrible things keep happening to me? Why do people treat me so badly? Life is so unfair.
  5. Do you hold onto resentments? Are you stuck in yesterday? Keep digging up the past? Hold onto the old hurts and painful memories, the anger, shame, guilt, sadness? If you let them go, there’s nothing left. How else can you punish them? So you never forgive yourself or others for the wrongs they have done to you.
  6. Do you chase after what you cannot have – indulging in fantasy or wishful thinking – determined to jam your size eight foot into Cinderella’s size 6 shoe, Craving and pining over what can never be and you forget to appreciate what you already have.
  7. Is your cup of life half-full or half-empty? Stew over past mistakes, worry about things you can’t control, expect the worst out of life? Caught up in catastrophic thinking “what if”? What if I don’t get that job, what if he doesn’t love me, what if I never find another love relationship?
  8. Are you so critical of self and others that all you can see are the flaws instead of the inner shine? Do you take life too seriously, finding it difficult to have fun and be playful?
  9. Does fear dominate your life and hold you back? Afraid of the unknown, afraid of the unexpected, afraid to take risks, afraid of failure, afraid of success, afraid to let others get too close? You’re afraid to live.
  10. Do you feel unworthy, inferior to others? Not quite good enough no matter what you do? But you don’t want others to see your hurt and insecurities so you wear what I call – “The mask of the Smiling Face” and you show the world you are cool, you’re confident, you are in control of your life. But you and I both know the mask hides the imposter.
  11. Are you a people-pleaser? You feel safe, loved and protected – just as long as others approve of you.
  12. Do you neglect yourself? Are you at the bottom of your ‘to-do’ list? You keep busy to ignore your own emotional and physical needs. It feels wrong or uncomfortable to ask others for what you need. But eventually, your resentment starts to leak out and finally it explodes. By caring for others, you don’t have to care for yourself. Your worries disappear – and so do you.
  13. Are you looking under the street lamp for your lost happiness – the lamp of sexual affairs, drugs, alcohol, food, work, hobbies, exercise any activity as long as it keeps you away from the dark corners of your own soul.
  14. And finally, when all else fails, do you look for greener pastures, new relationships, new job, new house, new neighbourhood, new city, new country? Because anywhere else is better than here – right where you are.

The problem is, we get so caught up in the stories of our lives that we forget that our stories are not who we are. But we tell ourselves and others our stories so often we come to believe they are true. They become our reality. Our reality shows up in our words, our actions, in our choices that we make of every minute of every day. Our reality becomes the habits of our lives and we become the servant of our emotions.

Whenever we are in emotional pain or struggling in life, you can be sure we are stuck in that stinkin thinkin. It becomes addictive and it makes us enormously successful at being unhappy. How do we kick the habit? How do we wake up?

People can and do transform their lives – at any age and grow in remarkable ways, ways they never thought possible. It all starts when we change our stories, which means we can change our reality. When we dump our stinkin thinkin, we change our lives. But to do so, you have to believe you can. You must be willing to give up the blame game, give up the addictive thought patterns and take 100 % responsibility for everything you experience in life –everything.

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