How to Deal with “Why not Me?” Syndrome

Vgu1RUfKT3WN1ZYxSWaR_14672519443_13d8873062_kEver had a situation where you felt left out of the action? We’ve all been there at least once. Either on the playground or in the workplace.

We end up keeping score of how many times someone else was acknowledged or rewarded and we weren’t.

It’s human to look around and wonder why we aren’t getting our needs met. But sometimes it really gets in the way. For instance, I recently published a book. You can read more about it here.

I got a lot of accolades on social media from some friends, but heard crickets from others. What was up with that? Did they just not see my announcement, or did they ignore it?

That’s when the ego really digs in and gets me going. How dare they? Why are they ignoring me?

Thing is, for all I know, they didn’t see my post. Or they’re wrapped up in their own lives. If I really wanted their attention, I could’ve emailed them directly. But I didn’t do that.

How many times has someone posted something and I didn’t see it? Or I didn’t have time to respond? How many friends have asked me to call, and I forgot? Or I put it off because I had work to do?

My ego loves to focus on the things I think I’m not getting. It likes to make comparisons so that I always come out with the short end. Then I have a reason to bitch about how unfair it all is.

Yes, at times people are wrapped up in their own thing and they really don’t have time for you. And at times they purposely aren’t ready to deal with what you’re going through or to celebrate your successes. It happens. You’re not the center of their universe.

So I have to ask myself, do I need other people to approve of me? Or is my own approval enough?

It’s hard, though. Hard not to keep score. Hard not to be resentful or figure I’m being ignored for negative reasons.

I see me. Isn’t that enough? If not, why isn’t it?

Approval can become a drug. As long as we get it, we’re happy. When we don’t, we’re pissed.

The world is filled with people desperate to do anything to be seen. It will never be enough because their need is a deep hole that can’t be filled.

As long as I compare myself to everyone else, I’ll come up short.

I have to know with all my heart that I’m on the right path. I’m doing the best I can. I have to give myself my own accolades, even if no one else does. If they do, great. But I have to love and approve of myself first.

And once I do that, I can stop asking, “why not me?”

Copyright © 2014 Deborah A. Bailey

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3 Things to do When You Need a Break from Self-Improvement

4532135834_50e7a94e0c_oWhy do we always focus on improving ourselves? Are we really that bad to begin with?

For a long time I thought of myself as a work in progress.

Tinkering here, fixing there, always striving to do everything better.

There’s nothing wrong with being the best person you can be. But that’s usually not what we’re doing. We’re usually comparing ourselves to some ideal that very few people fit into (if anyone really does).

But with all the striving and working, when do we ever just appreciate who we are in this moment? When does all the tweaking stop and the acceptance begin?

We get stuck trying to fix what’s “wrong.” Meanwhile, we ignore what’s right with us. We ignore our gifts and our strengths. Instead, our inner dialogue is one long diatribe about what we’re not and will never be.

I love to write and communicate. That’s what I’m great at. But I remember in high school being completely frustrated with Algebra I. Frankly, I couldn’t understand why I needed it in the first place, but at the time I was told that it would hone my analytical skills.

Well, all it did was piss me off and make me hate doing my homework. After that, I decided that I hated math because I was obviously bad at it.

Well, imagine my surprise when I took Trigonometry in my senior year and loved it. What happened? It wasn’t until years later that I realized that I could visualize the concepts in Trigonometry, and that made it easier for me to understand.

If a visual person isn’t taught using visual examples, it’s kind of a problem, isn’t it? Even more to the point, I didn’t learn critical thinking from math. I learned it from analyzing literature in my college English classes. So much for a one-size-fits-all world.

Instead of focusing on what we’re not, we need to appreciate what we are. Our strengths are everything. They have value. They shouldn’t be ignored so that we can work hard on trying to fix what we’re not.

When you’re ready for a break from constant self-improvement, try this:

1. Create a self-love affirmation. Try something like, “I love myself as I am” or “I value myself.”

2. Take stock of yourself and what you’ve accomplished. Give thanks–even for the things that you’re not totally comfy with right now.

3. Forget being perfect. If you love and care about yourself, you’ll want to be the best version of you that you can be.

Here’s the thing, if you’re in a constant state of improvement, you’ll never appreciate your strengths. In fact, you won’t even see them.

And if you don’t love and appreciate you, who will?

Copyright © 2014 Deborah A. Bailey

Photo Credit: Nick-K (Nikos Koutoulas) via Compfight cc

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Why there are More than enough Opportunities to Go ‘Round

I used to wa00433095tch a lot of reality shows where people competed for prizes. In one of the shows, one of the contestants was worried that another person would take “her” prize.

Nope. There’s no way that anyone else could’ve won her prize if it was really hers.

That’s not the way it works.

If you have a dream or desire there is a way for it to manifest. Really. That’s why you have it in the first place. I don’t mean a daydream or a wish. Like if you wished you could be a champion ice skater in the Olympics and you’ve never set one toe on the ice.

I mean a desire, a passion, a thing that drives you to get up and get going.

I’ll give you an example. Years ago after I graduated from college, I had a dream to visit Paris one day. Not only that, but I wanted to get a job in the fashion industry. About two weeks later, I got a brochure from Parsons School of Design for their summer in Paris program. Imagine my surprise.

And what’s even more interesting, I never put myself on Parsons’ mailing list. Yet here was the brochure. After reading it, I made my decision. I was going. So I filled out the application and sent it in. About a month later, I got the news, I was accepted. I was going.

Here’s the thing, I could’ve received that brochure and tossed it aside. I could’ve procrastinated. I could’ve let fear stop me from taking any action. But instead when the opportunity came, I jumped on it. It was my dream and my desire, and I didn’t let it pass me by.

Here’s how it goes:

  • Create a vision for what you want
  • Believe in it even when you don’t see any sign of it coming (that’s especially the time to believe)
  • Prepare for its arrival
  • Recognize it when it comes (if you have a vision, you’ll know what your opportunity looks like when it comes)
  • Trust your gut and take inspired action

When preparation meets opportunity, that’s called luck. You’re ready, you’ve decided even before the thing comes that it’s yours. You can either walk through the door…or not.

It’s your choice.

Copyright © 2014 Deborah A. Bailey

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Read this the Next Time You’re Desperately Longing to Change Your Life

Rear view of a young woman holding a paint roller“Most people are not really free. They are confined by the niche in the world that they carve out for themselves. They limit themselves to fewer possibilities by the narrowness of their vision.” -V.S. Naipaul

Why do we stay in bad situations? If you’re feeling disgusted, angry or frustrated, then you know what I’m saying.

Or maybe it hasn’t gotten that far yet. Perhaps you’re just tired, bored and feeling like you could be doing something else with your life.

I’ve been there plenty of times. There’s a point where you know you’re not happy, but you keep going through the motions because it’s easier than calling it quits.

We stay long past the time when we should have left, then we end up rationalizing why we’re staying. If we want to move on, we have to prepare for it.

In my last corporate job I procrastinated about making a career transition. My new career was not going to just show up at my house and knock on the door. I had to at least meet it halfway.

Instead I tried to talk myself into staying where was, because after all, it wasn’t that bad. I was getting paid. So what if the environment was negative and I felt stifled, was it really going to be different somewhere else?

Sometimes we procrastinate because we aren’t ready to make a change. Even though I disliked by job, it was familiar. It’s strange how we can be unhappy with a situation and yet comfortable with it at the same time.

Although it’s human nature to wait until we’re forced to take action, it’s not the best course to take. I’ve done that enough to know that in the end, it’s not worth it.

What I’ve learned (finally) is that it’s better to move towards something than to be running away from something. When you know when to leave, you get to decide where you are going.

Copyright © 2010 – 2014 Deborah A. Bailey

Excerpted from “Think Like an Entrepreneur: Transforming Your Career and Taking Charge of Your Life”

Totally freaked out about Money? How to Make Peace with it Right Now

6041500642_0abe552ec5_bHow many times have you wished you had enough money to quit your job? Or maybe enough money to inject a bunch of cash into your business start-up?

Many of us have grown up hearing things like, “money doesn’t grow on trees,” or “the rich get richer.” Let’s not forget the big one, “money is the root of all evil.”

As we grow up we begin to say them ourselves. We teach them to our children. After a while, these beliefs define our experience with money.

Money and Freedom

When I worked in my corporate job, spending became a way for me to feel like I’d accomplished something in my life. Buying whatever I wanted, when I wanted (even though it was on credit) made me feel powerful.

It was exciting to constantly get new things, new packages being delivered, accumulating more possessions. After I opened the box, I’d put the item away–sometimes never to be worn. All that matter to me was the high I got from getting the new thing!

On one hand I was empowered by money, on the other my spending made me a prisoner to my job. Without a steady paycheck, how could I continue to maintain my “lifestyle?” For years this pattern kept me from moving out of the corporate world and into my own business.

Money and Value

Often business owners will struggle because they don’t know how to value themselves and set their fees accordingly. Sometimes it’s tied to self-esteem. Or it’s a leftover from our time in the employee world, the place where we learned that hours worked =  value.

When you work hours for dollars, you don’t look at the value you bring by being able to solve a problem or fill a need. You look at time spent. If you’re building widgets, maybe that will work. If you’re bringing experience and skill to the table, not so much.

Money and Beliefs

If you believe money is evil, will you feel comfortable making a lot of it?

If you believe that rich people are selfish, would the idea of being rich make you feel comfortable?

If your family or friends believe that money is limited (or only in the hands of a few), will it  feel good having more money than they do? Probably not. You might even be afraid that they’ll reject you if you did.

Money is not good or evil. Just as with many other things, it can be used for good intentions…or for destructive ones. Feeling guilty about having money won’t lead you to get more of it. Instead, you’ll end up doing everything not get it–whether consciously or unconsciously. Things like charging less than your work is worth, or believing that you don’t have a right to ask for what you deserve, or having contempt for money because focusing on it means you’re “selling out.”

By the way, the quote about money being the root of evil is incorrect in more ways than one. The actual quote is this: “For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” 1 Timothy 6:10 (New American Standard Bible)

I don’t mention this quote to make any statements about religious beliefs, but to show that one of the most devastating sayings about money has been misquoted to begin with!

Money itself is a tool, nothing more. If we believe that having it is bad, then we’ll always stay stuck in conflict with our desires–and with reality. We need money in order to buy what we need to live and to function.

When we take an honest look at our money beliefs, we can start to get clear and make better choices. Many business owners want to be of service and help others. But how helpful can we be to ourselves or others if we’re struggling to pay our bills?

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3 Truths about Having Dreams I Wish I’d Known Years Ago

3719561835_77503c5e59_zHave you ever been told that dreams don’t matter? Or that they’re lame? Or that dreaming isn’t as important as doing? If so, it’s time to rethink that advice.

1. Dreams are expressions of your desires

Whether you call it a dream or a vision or a goal, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you know what you want. A lot of people don’t have a clue what they really want. They just go from day to day, walking through their lives with no real purpose. If that’s fine for you, carry on. But if it’s not, it’s time to ask yourself where you’re heading. Are you just clocking in each day on autopilot, or do you have a destination in mind? Get in touch with your desires for your life. Dare to dream.

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined.” – Henry David Thoreau

2. Dreaming is not the same as daydreaming

There is a difference. Daydreams are fine. They can be a lot of fun. To me, the key difference is that you have to take action at some point to make your dreams real. Maybe you’ll get an intuitive hunch to follow up with someone, or show up someplace. Or you’ll decide to take that class, start that business, apply for that new job. Action has to happen somewhere along the line. When I decided to leave corporate, it would’ve been a daydream if I’d never made the decision and taken action. But I followed through and my dream became real.

“Hold fast to dreams, For if dreams die, Life is a broken-winged bird, That cannot fly.” – Langston Hughes

3. It’s okay to change your mind

If you had a dream as a child to be a writer and instead you were led in a different direction, that doesn’t mean dreams are bad. You do get to change your mind. Nothing is set in stone. Maybe you admired someone and wanted to be just like them, and down the road, you realized that wasn’t likely.

So what? That doesn’t make you a failure. It doesn’t mean dreams are bad. Just be the best YOU that you can be. Dreams aren’t limited. You can always dream a new one if you want.

“Did you hear about the rose that grew from a crack in the concrete? Proving nature’s laws wrong, it learned to walk without having feet. Funny, it seems to by keeping it’s dreams; it learned to breathe fresh air. Long live the rose that grew from concrete when no one else even cared.” – Tupac Shakur, The Rose That Grew from Concrete

Being a dreamer does not negate being a “do-er.” They can be two sides of the same coin. Got a dream, a desire, a vision? Let that lead you to where you want to go. Take action and keep following your star. The naysayers have their own path to walk. Don’t let them discourage you from following yours.


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Years ago I Met My Hero, Maya Angelou! Here’s What I Learned.

Back in the 1980′s when I was a student at Douglass College (part of Rutgers University), Maya Angelou came to speak. She came early that afternoon to attend a reception at the maya post1student center. I was just coming from class and was heading to the center, when I ran into one of the staff.  As it turned out, Ms. Angelou wanted to meet more of the students prior to the talk that night.

Talk about being in the right place at the right time! I’d already read her first book, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, and I was looking forward to hearing her speak that evening.

Meeting her close-up was a whole different experience. My first impression was of how very tall she was. Intimidated into silence, I watched as she greeted another student who’d walked in with me. Then when they’d finished speaking, she turned to me and held out her hand. I have no idea what I said. Right now I don’t remember if anything came out other than, hello.

I’d expected to be tongue-tied to meet a person I admired. But I didn’t expect the warm presence that flowed from her and held me in its embrace. She focused on me and asked  what I was studying. Yet again, I can’t remember what I replied. All I remember is that in those moments, it felt like she’d traveled all that way just to meet me. All her attention was focused on me and what I was saying.

That doesn’t happen as often as it should. We’ve all had those situations where the person we’re talking to is focused elsewhere. Either looking around for someone else to talk to, or checking their phone, or just waiting for us to finish so they can start talking again. She didn’t do that. And from what I’ve read of others who had encounters with her over the years, they each had similar experiences.

Each person, no matter how short the exchange, never forgot how she made them feel.

In fact, one of her quotes says just that: “People will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

So what did I learn?

*Give your full attention to what you’re doing in this moment. Especially when you’re communicating with someone, listen. Really listen to what they’re saying. A conversation should be about give and take, and not just waiting for your chance to talk again.

*Be comfortable in your own skin. As a tall woman, it’s likely she got the message on some occasions that she should slouch, or be uncomfortable about her height. Bmaya post2ut instead of hiding, she stood tall (literally). Don’t hide who you are. Claim it.

*When you respect yourself, you can also respect others. Though she had a stature and position in the world (check out her books if you want a taste of the many things she accomplished) she was obviously very happy to meet the students and hear what we were doing. She didn’t let cynicism or a self-importance stop her from connecting to people in a down to earth way.

I’m glad I had the chance to meet her, even for a few moments. In that brief time, she taught me a lot about how to communicate with grace.

How to Speak Your Truth Without Ruining Anyone’s Life. (Or your own.)

iStock_000011301858XSmallThere’s a lot of talk these days about being authentic. Especially in the entrepreneurial world it’s good for marketing if you can connect to your prospects as a “real” person.

What’s so funny about it is that, at least once you get to adulthood, most of us got the message to go along to get along. We’re not supposed to rock the boat by being too different.

Conformity and compliance are not just expected, they’re demanded. Or maybe I just feel that way because I spent over 20 years in corporate–where compliance has been elevated to an art form.

Have you ever had that experience? Or are you in it now? Are you desperate to be seen and heard for who you are?

Stop Holding it In

In my last corporate contracting position–you can read more about it here–I was totally frustrated. Not only was it chaotic, but I felt like I couldn’t speak up. No one wanted to hear a contractor’s point of view. So, once I realized that I wasn’t going to be heard, I shut down. But that frustration built up in me as stress and anger.

You see, even if you hold it in, it doesn’t go away. It just mutates into stress that attacks you from the inside. And over time, that stress can lead to dangerous health issues and possible an early death.

Yet we still hold back on our thoughts, suppress our feelings and swallow our pain. Some people include alcohol with it, others overeat, still others use pharmaceuticals–so many choices to self-medicate. We do this to keep from speaking our truth. We keep the mask on and keep our real feelings bottled up.

If you are in a situation where you feel you can’t be yourself, why are you staying in it? Do you have plans to get out? Taking action is much better than waiting until you blow up. And you will blow up at some point–whether it blows outward, or inward.

Should You Risk It?

Lots of risks come with speaking your truth. A lot of people around you might not like it. They might push back and make you out to be the “bad guy.” If you’re not used to standing up for yourself, it might not feel comfortable at first.

But at the end of the day, you have a choice to make. Either you’ll keep hiding your true desires and your real feelings, or they’ll destroy you from within.

The evidence of that is all around us. Scratch any bitter, angry person and you’ll find someone who never got their needs met. And one who probably never asked for them to be met. Don’t be that person.

Find Your Voice

Finding your authentic voice can be like going on an archeological dig. You’ve got to be patient as you excavate the layers that covered over the person you really are. Uncovering some things may hurt. You may recoil in fear or revulsion. Or you may be delighted to rediscover some part of yourself that you neglected.

When I started writing again, I was still in my corporate job. I’d put it aside for years, but when I went back to it, I knew I’d found what I needed. Buried under my corporate ambitions was my calling. The thing I had to do.

But it wasn’t easy to accept that I had something to say and that I had a right to say it. It wasn’t easy to let out what I’d been holding in. Finally I did it because I had to. It would’ve been too painful to lose my voice again.

When it comes to living and speaking your truth, you have to be willing to put it all on the line. You have to accept that no one may agree with you or support you. And that has to be okay.

Whether you’re going into business or changing a career or starting a new relationship, it’s all the same. Know what you want and ask for it. Be honest and stay in integrity. That’s how you speak your truth and stand up for your life.

Copyright © 2014 Deborah A. Bailey

5 Quotes to Inspire You to Live a Purposeful Life

pad and post it notesLike a lot of people on the internet, I love to collect quotes. Right now I have a file on my laptop filled with my favorite quotations. Something about quotes can lift you up, make you think and sometimes just make you smile.

Inspiration comes in many forms. Here are a few of my favorite quotes:

“If you want to reach a goal, you must ‘see the reaching’ in your own mind before you actually arrive at your goal.” -Zig Ziglar, Motivational Coach & Speaker

This says it all in one sentence. A little bit of law of attraction, positive thinking and big kick in the rear to get you going. Looking to move on to a new job, or start a business? Or are you contemplating a world-shaking life change? I’m a firm believer in writing down your goals to make them real. But you also have to have a vision.

See your goal in your mind. Feel it, taste it, experience it before it actually happens. I’ve done this on many occasions and I can tell you from personal experience, it works.

“But the reality is we all have nerves and moments of insecurity. We all wonder at times ‘What am I doing here? What is going on?’ But If I said to myself that I’m only going to show up, or speak or be visible when I’m perfect, I would never get out of bed.” -Kerry Washington, Actress

Good advice for those of us who believe that people on the red carpet have it all together all the time.  It’s easy to give up on our dreams when we think that we’ll never get to the highest heights. Or we believe people who are celebrities have some special “somethin-somethin” that makes them winners without effort.

Everyone has doubts. It’s just that some people are stopped by them, and others aren’t.

“Star Trek was an attempt to say that humanity will reach maturity and wisdom on the day that it begins to not just tolerate, but take a special delight in differences in ideas and differences in life forms.” -Gene Roddenberry, Creator of Star Trek

Since I am a Star Trek fangirl, I had to add this one. If he hadn’t followed his dream (and he had a lot of opposition to it) what would’ve happened? His vision of the future has fueled many a writer to step out into the unknown.

Not only that, but it was also a vision where everyone was included. That’s particularly powerful if you’re someone who has received subtle (and often not so subtle) messages to the contrary. Your dreams matter. You have a voice. Use it.

 “When people show you who they are, believe them.” - Maya Angelou, Writer & Actress

Years ago when I was in corporate, I worked for someone who I felt was not to be trusted. I’d seen him behave in one way with one group, then lie about it in front of my coworkers. However, most of my coworkers believed the illusion, and were reluctant to see him as he was.

It took a while, but they finally did see the truth. What took so long? I’ll never know. But I think that once we form an opinion–based on our own filters–we hate to be proven wrong.  So we’ll hold on to our story of who we think someone is, and overlook their behavior.

There’s an old saying, “actions speak louder than words.” Like a lot of old sayings passed down, it’s true. Living a life of purpose requires that you have the courage to be about it, not just talk about it.

 “Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” -Rumi, Poet & Mystic

When I left corporate and went into coaching, I was desperate to get everyone to see they could do that too. I made it my mission to show people they could leave their jobs and go into entrepreneurship. But what I found out was we have our own paths to walk.

Unfortunately I was convinced that I had THE way. Not true. Changing the world has to start with us individually. By changing myself, I can have an effect on the world around me.

When you decide to live a purposeful life, you are also having an effect on your family, your friends and your community. That’s how we change the world.

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5 Ways to Simplify Your Goal Setting

successSetting goals doesn’t have to become an exercise in frustration. Once you have your vision in place (and that can take a bit of time) you have to take action. But what  trips us up is taking action that doesn’t line up with what we want.

I used to have pages of goals. It was really too much. What I needed was to focus on the things I really wanted. Instead of expecting to work on everything at once, I needed to take it step by step.

So, forget about being overwhelmed when figuring out what to do next. There’s no need to put that pressure on yourself. There are ways to make goal setting easier and much less stressful.

Here are some tips:

1. Decide what you don’t want. We often spend more time focused on what we don’t want, but here’s a way to make it work for you. Has your business hit a wall? Or do you wish you could get in shape? Wish you could stick to that budget?

Make a list of the things you don’t want in your life. Write them down so that you can refer to the list as you go forward. Be honest about the things that really irritate you. Ready to come to terms? Great. Use that list as a starting point for what you do want. Use it to release the things that are holding you back.

2. List your accomplishments so far. When we get frustrated, it’s easy to forget how far we’ve come. What have you already done that you’re really proud of? Stop beating yourself up and take a good look at what you’ve already achieved.

3. Keep it simple. As I mentioned,  we can overwhelm ourselves with too many goals. We can’t change everything in a day. So don’t try! Take it step by step. Consistent action is what counts. If impatience is a problem for you, just relax. You will get where you want to go, even if it’s just one step a day–or a week. As long as you keep moving forward, that’s what counts.

4. Picture your ideal result. Where do you see yourself in 6 months, 1 year or even 5 years from now? Will your goals help you to get there? For instance, if one of your goals is to make healthy eating choices, but you can’t picture yourself getting regular exercise or living a healthy lifestyle–what small steps can you take right now to get started?

5. Write it down. If you’re not into journaling, make a list on paper or online. Writing down your goals will make them real.

Taking action steps will get you results. If you don’t take action, your vision will never be realized. While you’re taking action, don’t try to do everything at once. Stay focused and take it step by step.
Copyright © 2014 Deborah A. Bailey

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