There isn’t a formula for true happiness, except perhaps, an unconditional acceptance of life and what it brings.

Part of the real beauty of life is its unpredictability. Nothing is permanent, everything changes, and anything can happen… which makes it an exciting, hopeful, optimistic, and constant adventure.

A lot of things can happen – both good and bad - that will help you grow and transform who you are, which has a significant impact on your life.

The BIG problem that we (as people) need to overcome in truly understanding and embracing this reality, is our extreme reluctance for change; our deeply rooted refusal to accept what has happened, especially when it's something we don’t want, agree with, or something that doesn’t align with our goals, values, beliefs, expectations, or even human rights.

Sometimes the forces are completely against you, and you keep trying to hang in there…trying to hold together something that was but no longer is. You might be doing everything you can to create change and improvement, thinking that people and situations will change in time - spending a pile of money with that intention, and wasting a lot of time on the wrong people who you believed to be the right people.

Yet the reality is that no matter how much time, effort, money and energy you throw at it, you can’t change any of it if the universe is against it all and against your actions. Why? Because the one constant in life is that things always change. For better or worse.

The truth is, when you’re trying to change the unchangeable, you’re already off the rails and have lost control. Despite the fact that everything around you might be completely backward, and you know that, your refusal to accept it and persistance in trying to ‘fix’ or ‘correct’ it all are foolish.

Imagine putting all your energy, time, money, and effort into things that won’t change? That’s madness and it’s also exhausting, painful and useless. What a waste of time. What a waste of life.

For this reason you need to cultivate the ability to truly accept whatever comes and embrace it. You will stop wasting time and stop wasting your precious life. Taking on this accountability is incredibly important to your future.

Develop the habit of looking at whatever happens through an acceptance mindset instead of relentlessly fighting the constant resistance of monsoonal waves.

Of course, life will bring many challenges, such as the death of someone you love, relationship breakdowns, power struggles and all sorts of other crazy stuff that goes on from those who desire to make life (which is fundamentally simple) to be as complicated as possible.

It’s not easy to accept, embrace and cope with all these problems when you’re suffering and wishing those things would have never happened in the first place.

By cultivating acceptance in your life right now, you’ll likely cope with future crises in a different way and view them from a different perspective. You will accept instead of resist and you’ll do it with lightning speed; determined to not waste a second more of your precious time.

I’m naturally a fighter - it’s in my make-up, my blood. And let me tell you, that inner wiring brings so many benefits in life to get things on my terms. I protect what needs to be protected; achieve what others don't achieve; survive what many wouldn’t survive. I’m proud of my fighting instincts – they’re the reason I’ve survived and thrived beyond so much.

Yet I have also learned through experience that there is only so far you can push this fighting spirit. There is only so far you can fight without it becoming a waste of your time, energy and emotional reserve. I am and will always be a fighter, but I carefully assess and select where I put that spirit to best use these days.

The reason I do this is so I can use my time and energy to reap the greatest benefits for me, as opposed to being a waste of my own resources when it’s used on the wrong things and people. I also focus on the outcome I want to achieve, rather than any other motives or agendas – which is how I’ve always been wired.

For things that aren’t worthy of your time or effort, it’s good to receive what happens with acceptance because if you fight and resist it, you will generate turbulence in your mind.

By accepting things as they are, it’s the way you can make your life flow smoothly instead of roughly.

Yes, acceptance is a choice—a hard one most definitely, especially for a fighting spirit like me, but a choice nonetheless.

There are two ways out of a problem: accept what’s happening or assess whether it’s changeable or can be improved and act accordingly based on that assessment (either accepting or addressing / fighting back accordingly).

The assessment is critically important, because you might end up fighting against something that’s unlikely to change (which could have been foreseen with some prior thought). That would just make you miserable and have you struggling against the universe; being overcome by forces far bigger than you.

Learning to accept things as they present themselves, is a helpful tool in all aspects of life. It’s a skill that has to be developed and mastered, because intuitively as people, we don’t always accept things as they present themselves.

An example of this is that we will keep seeing the best in others and believing some people are kind and decent, when their behavior and actions are completely the contrary.

Yet we keep clinging to our expectations, our desires, our past recollections, and our hopes to believe they are fundamentally good people, and so we keep putting ourselves through their hell because we don’t want to believe the reality.

Whether it’s a family loss, a missed opportunity, a relationship break down or a sudden change (or upheaval) in your life or expectations, being able to accept things that are out of your control will help you maintain inner peace and happiness. This is incredibly important to your emotional health and wellbeing.

Acceptance is the key to convert momentary happiness to enduring happiness. It helps you move from feeling happy to actually being happy.

Practicing acceptance prepares you to live in this changing world, where you never know what’s going to happen next. Acceptance is a form of empowerment and one of the key components of adaptation.

Let me clarify that acceptance is not at all related to weakness and is definitely not conformity or mediocrity. Heck no. Ordinarily, those words don’t even work their way into my vocabulary.

We simply need to learn how to identify when it’s time to persist and when it’s time to accept.

Finding the lesson or purpose behind every challenge will help you embrace it instead of fighting it.

Try not to judge what happens to you. Sure, for the easier and more transparent problems, you might find the possible (logical) reason that might help explain it, which enables you to assess and address it with acceptance or attention. However, for the more complex problems, you won’t understand the ‘why’ for a long time.

In fact, you might never know. That’s a long time to wait or live in a state of uncertainty and misery simply because you won’t accept it and keep trying to instinctively fight and fix something that is meant to be broken.

The important thing is not to understand why something happened. Our understanding can wait, but our obedience can’t. In this way, when something unpredictable happens, instead of complaining and over-thinking it, choose to live with it. Find ways to adapt.

I know it’s hard to practice acceptance when you deeply wish things were different. Especially when it’s a HUGE thing in your life. But the truth is, sometimes you can’t change your reality, even when you try with all your might. Events, people, and circumstances simply won’t allow that to occur whether it’s right or wrong.

So, instead of staring at the closed door in front of you or getting exhausted, despondent, distressed, and bruised as you try to break it down, why not turn around and see how many windows are open and what exciting adventure you will pursue next. This way of thinking takes time and practice so don’t feel bad if it’s difficult to put into practice at first.

Always remember that life is short and that you are important too. Think about what you’d like to do with your life. Think about what legacy you would like to leave behind, and work hard on achieving things that are positive and transformational so you don’t live with the regret of wasting any more time on doors that are jammed shut by circumstances beyond your control, and people who refuse to do anything different.

Life gets hectic. If anyone knows that it’s me. It’s easy to get caught up in the craziness of it. Your body, mind and soul get disconnected, and you find that you are slowly losing yourself. When you hit this point, it’s one of the worst feelings in the world.

The good news is you have the freedom of “choice.” It’s when you decide to make better decisions for yourself, which ultimately lead you to finding happiness. 

It’s what I call a “detox” but it should become a long term approach, not a fad: steps, routines, habits and choices you need to consciously make every day in order to become and stay happy.

To get to this place, you firstly need to ask yourself what is holding you back in life. What or whom is it that you identify as toxic? What excuses are you making that stop your personal growth and development? What food, TV and other personal choices are getting in your way? Well, for many people it can be these six things:

1. Excuses

The biggest mindset and behavioral shift you can make is eliminating the rubbish excuses that hold you back. Excuses include beliefs including I don’t have time (well you do, it’s just that you choose not to make X a priority); I can’t do this on my own (well you can, you’re a grown adult and you do a lot of things on your own, so figure it out); I don’t know how to do it (well you can learn just like you have in every other aspect of your life); no one is interested in what I have to say (well that’s a victim attitude and means you're choosing not to try. Who cares if some people don’t value you because they don’t operate from a place of gratitude? You have as much right as anyone to make your voice heard).

My point is, excuses are just reasons not to get something done. They’re useless and obstructive to your own wellbeing – even when you think you’re doing yourself a favor by inventing them! I hate excuses with a passion. I can barely even tolerate them. I dismiss them in my mind anytime I hear one, and if I dare to create one myself, even if there are legitimate grounds, I will defiantly overrule that thinking.

2. Negativity

For a happier life you can’t be negative. For this reason, you need to get unstuck from negative thinking cycles. If you dwell on the negative things, thinking about them over and over until you're miserable, then you’re letting negative thinking get the better of you.

In this situation, even though there might be events or people that have triggered it, your actual problem is how you’re stuck in this negative thinking cycle. You can't think your way out of it because your brain is stuck! Force your brain to think of something else, by doing something else.

When you do this, you often find that you will develop different perspectives or attitudes toward those same problems later. It takes self-awareness but make sure you find ways to get unglued.

Activate your body with exercise, or cooking, or by meditating, or doing yoga, or take an ice-cold shower. These physical activities can short-circuit negativity and help you get back control over your mind.

By giving yourself a break from your emotions, you’ll also approach external problems with a fresh and better perspective, which will help you. Personally, when I take some time out in this way, I often discover a different approach to the problems that triggered my thoughts, and come to a better and quicker resolution about how to tackle those problems.

3. Self-doubt

Self-doubt is a huge hinderance to a happy life. When you are constantly doubting yourself and your abilities, you won’t try things, improve, achieve, or grow as a person because your doubt prevents you from truly applying yourself. You are also likely to feel envy and dislike of others around you who are confident and self-assured.

There are several ways you can overcome self-doubt. You can practice self-compassion, look at your past achievements, and how far you’ve come. Another important thing to do is stop comparing yourself to others. Always know that everyone is authentic with their own strengths and weaknesses, so it’s impossible to accurately compare!

4. Toxic People

Toxic people are an absolute NO. These people might be those you consider friends or family, but if they are demonstrating toxicity, you become a product of your environment in due course. These people can create lots of stress and unpleasantness for you and others, not to mention emotional or even physical pain.

They can be destructive to your life and wellbeing. A toxic person is anyone whose behavior adds negativity, drama and upset to your life. Toxic people might be dealing with their own stresses and traumas but that doesn’t mean it’s acceptable to stick around for more!

5. Bad Food

Amazingly, the food you eat affects neurons, which are the major cells of the brain. In the brain, an unhealthy diet that is rich in fats and sugars causes inflammation of neurons and inhibits the formation of new neurons. This can affect the way the brain works and contributes to brain disorders like depression.

It’s tempting and time conducive to get junk food, but ultimately, you’re contributing to your own unhappiness over the long run – even though you might get a momentary thrill or enjoyment from eating such food.

6. Junk TV

If you’re trying to be happier, more confident, centered and stronger, then watching Junk TV that deliberately degrades, deceives, confuses, terrifies, haunts, shocks or depresses you, isn’t going to help you achieve that objective.

Remember: anything you absorb into your body contributes to your emotions and state of mind and that includes Junk TV. Making conscious choices over watching better quality entertainment is a big step toward improving your environment.

A person's environment can have an enormous impact on how they think, feel and behave - both consciously and subconsciously. I only watch feel-good, funny, light, musical and even educational TV because it feeds my better self. Everything I do in life has a specific purpose in making me the best version of myself.

I’m not going to sugar-coat the dreadfully painful experience of losing a loved one. It can be one of the hardest things you’ll ever experience. It isn’t rainbows and lollipops after the loss, that I know for sure.

It’s tough. Trying to place one foot in front of the other. Trying to find light – any light – in amongst the darkness. The overpowering longing you feel to be with that person who's now gone burns deep, and the sorrow you feel is overwhelming, especially knowing you won’t ever see them again. It’s hard. It’s painful. I’m not going to lie.

I know it well. Losing my father suddenly and tragically, when he was only in his 50s and I was in my 20s, was one of the most painful and shocking experiences I’ve ever had to endure. It happened immediately after his birthday too.

You can’t just snap back into your former life after a major loss: the truth is, everything changes – a lot. Family dynamics are impacted. Relationships change. People change.

You are suddenly facing challenges of getting through the loss itself. There’s an inner war going on within you as you feel deep sorrow but try to force yourself to be ‘positive’, which never works, FYI.

Even though it’s dreadfully tough, there’s always a flip side to every coin. While you will go through supreme difficulty in trying to adapt to an altered life, you also directly learn a lot about life and who you are as a person because of a tough family loss.

How so?

Well, it can change the way you live your very life — it might dawn on you that you should live happier, or kinder, or be more determined. People all too often get caught up in the petty issues of life: power, ego, issues, jealousy and all that time-wasting, negative stuff that does absolutely nothing worthwhile for anyone - but instead, ruthlessly destroys.

When people lose someone close – someone they love more than anything – well suddenly, it can make all that stuff seem completely senseless and crazy, because life is about the good memories, the achievements, the love, the care, the unity, and being a good quality human for yourself and others while you’re lucky enough to be alive. I knew this before personal loss - I've always been uncomplicated - but not everyone is the same as me.

It can also help you to realize that life is short, and you must live each moment to its fullest potential. Why waste time? Why sweat the small stuff? Why allow others to treat you poorly or upset you when we’re all on the clock?

There’s nothing like a close family loss to wake you up to the burning reality that life really is short, and you should make the most of it.

Grappling with the loss of a loved one can also introduce you to new meaningful relationships with people you wouldn’t have met otherwise. It’s incredible that when one door shuts another door always opens… even when you’re pushing like crazy on that first door, trying in vain to keep it ajar because you can't bear the thought of that loss.

Different experiences come along. They did for me. Had Dad stayed alive to this day, I’d still be in Adelaide. I couldn’t bear the thought of being away from him and he was very family orientated and loyal, just like me. He loved me being around as much as possible and never talked about the concept of me travelling away or moving!

But because of his death and how things changed, I moved interstate – twice. Different people came into my life, and I had new experiences.

The personal loss of a loved one can also shine a light on your true strength and your qualities. It shows you how remarkably brave you are as a person. It shows you what you’re made of and that you have deeply rooted survival capabilities. It teaches you resilience and character.

It can also take you on a journey for tools to help you survive challenges, heartbreak, adversity, and loss. These tools will assist you in every single aspect of life thereafter and for this reason, you’ll be able to get through just about anything.

For me, I went through one of the toughest losses of my life when I lost my father. That moment was an unmistakable turning point, and my life has never been the same since. I know that I have changed. I’ve been forced by that event and its related events and experiences, to become a hardier and stronger person. Bulletproof in fact. I was thrown in the deep end. It’s known as ‘personal growth’.

Very recently, I lost another close family member who was my uncle and my father’s best friend. My mother had texted me with the news, informing me that he had passed away peacefully, only an hour or so earlier that evening. It was wasn’t a shock, because I knew he had been unwell with a short illness. However, the idea of knowing someone you love is ill and could pass away, is very different to the actual reality of the loss itself when it happens. Grief hits you once they're gone. I felt sad. Very sad indeed.

All the memories of him flashed through my mind in an instant. I remembered visiting his house with my family for dinners and having him and various other family members to our house for bbqs, pool parties, billiards and table tennis. I remembered him picking me up and tossing me over his shoulder in a 'fireman’s carry', and having big family picnics together where he was always a prominent family figure.

Feeling the grief, grappling with life and death again, and remembering my own dad in the process, given those two were the best of friends, hasn’t been easy. Even though the loss of my uncle is very sad, memories of his life, achievements and kindness will raise me up. I know that from experience.

Why? Because losing a loved one is a painful experience, but it’s also one to learn from. Loss and grief teach you how to live: they remind you to appreciate your time on Earth, to love ferociously, and smile in the darkness – just like my father and uncle Allan always did.

When things get tough in life, people’s go-to is to ‘think positively’. In fact, unless you're toxic, this is people’s main go-to always especially when everything is great and in alignment.

Let me be brutally honest with you (and you know you can count on me for that), positivity alone, won’t fix your negative inner talk.

Why? Think about it. You have been through some things in your life and your mindset has taken on a negative spin… you think something’s wrong with you, or that all experiences are going to be bad from now on.

So suddenly trying to force yourself to say “My Life is Wonderful and my [crappy] life is a pure joy” is like trying to be joyous at the funeral of someone you deeply loved and cared about.

In this way, you might be able to fake it for a bit, to try and be ‘strong’, but inevitably that inner grief and turmoil comes back at you… only harder because you’re not dealing with the real core issues that are making you feel negative and heartbroken. You’re simply attempting to ‘mask it’ with positivity and optimism.

I remember I was just like this at my Gran’s funeral. My dad had already died and I was still in shock at his funeral nearly 2 weeks later. I hadn’t cried for that entire time after my father’s death (shock does that to you), but at the funeral the tears finally came. So, when his mother, my lovable, kind-hearted Gran, died a few years later, I tried to take a different approach, given how sad I felt at dad's funeral.

I tried to embrace that whole “positivity and optimism” thing at my Gran's funeral, to mask how I was truly feeling underneath. I mean… it felt like my family was destructing… with family members dropping like flies: Dad had died, and now Gran. And that was just my father’s side.

It wasn’t a fun time, and it was prematurely the end of an era. I felt sad, I felt angry, I felt cheated. I could either feel dreadfully upset and reopen those wounds that hadn’t truly healed after my father’s death, or I could put on an optimistic and positive "show" to fool myself. I chose the latter.

Avoiding grief and avoiding real issues that cause negativity only make things bottle up and get worse. I learned that eventually.

The truth is that positive thinking doesn’t always help – or even work in those darkest times. You need to throw out that strategy and embrace a different one. Positivity and optimism can be a good maintenance strategy for happiness and wellbeing, but not as a sole solution to pulling yourself out of grief or any other difficult or dark place.

Healthy positivity becomes toxic when it denies, minimizes, or invalidates a person’s emotions. You begin to feel bad about feeling bad because society tells us to be positive all the time. It can sometimes trigger a self-defeating spiral given that you feel like you’re supposed to be strong and positive, when you are but a mere mortal and in that moment, are vulnerable and feeling sad. At times like this, people feel everything more deeply.

The problem with positive thinking as a well intended solution is that it operates at the surface level of conscious thoughts. It does nothing to contend with the subconscious mind where negative self-talk and limiting beliefs really live.

If you’ve tried thinking positively, you know that it can be a difficult habit to maintain. You might spend five, ten, or even twenty minutes reciting positive words, but the other 23 hours of the day? Chances are that your mind drifts back to old, repetitive thoughts that have burned deep reference points in your brain without you even realizing until you are feeling down again.

It goes without saying that if you command yourself to think “I am happy and things are truly awesome,” yet your deeply held core belief is that you are feeling unhappy and utterly riddled with sadness and grief, your brain will be quick to incite an inner war. Been there, done that. Doesn’t work.

The truth is that it’s natural and healthy to experience a range of feelings, including less pleasant ones like disappointment, sadness, or guilt.

While there’s no question that getting stuck in negative emotions is unhelpful, the other extreme of whitewashing yourself with positive thinking is merely a temporary fix but more often not even that. It’s simply a façade. And you know you’re not being honest with yourself or anyone else, which only makes you feel worse.

If positive thinking doesn’t work at times like this– or is even detrimental – how can you take control and mentally empower yourself to change your negative self-talk from destructive to constructive? Since wishing and willing yourself into a happy and positive mindset won’t work when you feel like you’re at a low, here are a few strategies to make your self-talk work for you instead of against you.

1. Dig Yourself Out from Negative Thinking.

To do this, grab your metaphoric shovel, and then have the courage to admit that it’s happening, and be understanding with yourself that you are human and it’s only natural to feel like this given the circumstances that have led you there.

Compassion toward yourself in this moment, such as “it’s ok and understandable to be feel like this or be overwhelmed by these feelings…” is quite helpful at times like this (but also honest). More compassionate self-talk might be “it’s understandable that I’m angry” if you’re feeling inner pain and your grief is making you feel anger towards others.

Once that’s out in the open, then you can articulate and acknowledge the thoughts weighing you down – ones that don’t serve any useful purpose beyond keeping you stuck in those zones. Being self-aware and doing this work stops you from beating yourself up while freeing up your emotional resources for more constructive feelings.

When you spend less time beating yourself up for your negative feelings or procrastinating negative thoughts, you can redirect that energy into breaking it all down into a project with manageable tasks and actually tackling what you need to do instead.

Positive thinking will never do that for you. Saying you’re wonderful and that life’s brilliantly sunny makes you more annoyed and doesn’t open up those pathways for healing.

2. Give Self Awareness a Try.

Research shows that asking ourselves questions rather than issuing commands is a much more effective way to create change. However, I have often chosen to use both – such as asking a question, and then making a recommendation (problem-solving). It’s as simple as adapting the way you speak to yourself.

When you catch yourself flinging accusations at yourself, think: how can I turn this statement into a question?  Asking questions opens up exploration, possibility and a way to solve things.

Here are some examples:

This type of self-inquiry powers up the brain’s problem-solving areas, helping you tap into your creativity. You’re able to greet negative thoughts with compassion, acceptance, and curiosity instead of annoyance, rejection, and fear.

3. Focus on Progress, Not Perfection.

Using a positive affirmation like “I am wonderful and powerful” will backfire if you don’t truly, deeply believe it at both a cognitive and emotional level. To effectively adapt your thinking, consider who you are becoming, and focus on your encouraging progress – the current track or path you’re on.

You might re-work your self-talk to sound more like “Things have been rough, so I’ve done well to work through my pain to this point… it’s a lot to expect that I’m going to be the same person as I was before and to simply pick up where I left off ... things have changed, I have changed and that’s OK. I am a work in progress, and that’s a good thing.”

It’s pointing you in the direction of positive growth and is both realistic and achievable. Remember, it’s about progress not perfection. Make milestones and goals realistic and achievable always - and make them in context with where you are and how you're feeling in life in that moment, rather than your previous expectations when things were better. Don’t make them out of reach as this will lead to disappointment and other negative emotions.

Another example is reminding yourself that you are making a more conscious effort about how you react to situations. It means you recognize that you are evolving and that you have a choice in creating a better future for yourself.

4. Practice Being with Your Negative Thoughts

Trying to think positively can make you want to suppress your reactions. You might tell yourself to “get over it” or “quit stressing.” You’ve probably noticed this backfires – making negative thoughts and emotions even stronger.

That’s why it’s important to improve your ability to adapt and sit with discomfort. Instead of reacting to feeling down by trying to be positive, simply let your emotions be there.

Yes, uncomfortable sensations will arise. When they do, label them simply as energy in your body. Remind yourself that you’re not in danger. Stop trying to fiercely fight something that’s not supposed to be fought. Accept it and let it be.

Something else that’s pivotal to remember, is that life isn’t always supposed to be rainbows and lollipops! So, reduce your expectations. If you understand that life is a series of seasons – moments when you will have your time in the sun, and your time in the night, then you won’t feel so annoyed, frustrated, and cheated when something goes pear-shaped. You’ll instead think – this is part of life. And things will get better in time.

It also makes you think of it as a temporary setback rather than a permanent problem.

5. Find a [Healthy] Purpose and Distraction

One of my favorite ways to release negative thoughts is through distraction and purpose. In times gone by that I have felt sadness or anger, I’ll force myself to work on a long-term project… whether that be a book, a website, music practice or improving my fitness. If I feel angry, I’ll take some time out by taking a walk, or reading a book or blog.

When something purposeful distracts and occupies you for a bit, you get your head into a bigger and more helpful purpose, and your negative feelings ease up. In a better frame of mind, you can do the inner work and say it’s ok that you were feeling that way, that it’s normal… but you don’t want to unpack and live there. You’ll feel better in time and your purpose and distractions will carry you through until you start feeling better overall.

If you’re experiencing any negative self-talk and are sick of positive thinking that doesn’t work, try one of these mindset adaption techniques. You will see major changes in your mindset and an increase in your productivity and inner peace.

No matter what is happening (or has happened) in your life, there is a lot you can do on a daily basis to take control of the reins and be empowered over your own destiny. Many people think their life is what ‘happens’ to them, rather than what they routinely do.

None of us are perfect, and will drop the ball from time to time, but when you are driven and determined to be empowered and in control of your life so you can make it the best it can be, you’ll make sure you create good habits and attitudes that keep your head above water and compensate for your flaws and mistakes along the way.

When you have good routines, things can go in a productive, purposeful, meaningful, and helpful direction for you always. They can help you be more resilient too.

With that said, here are some of my most empowering life lessons:

1. Read & Absorb

I have always believed in the power of gaining knowledge and learning from other people’s mistakes and discoveries. Reading is a great way to learn and absorb knowledge. It can be incredibly rewarding when you pick helpful books and choose authors who are inspiring and have powerful life stories because these will help make a positive difference to your life.

I don’t read books for entertainment so I’m not a fiction fan; I have always read to learn, absorb, and become a better person, so non-fiction has always been my domain. You can always learn something from books, blogs, or posts online, which you can apply to all areas of your life.

2. Keep it Simple

I prefer to live with simplicity and well below my means. I am (for the most part) a practical person, so I make decisions based on common and financial sense wherever possible. I try to run my life like a business, so I don’t buy things to impress other people for example.

I simply don’t desire or need to. Sure, I like to make my own life more comfortable in certain ways, but these are acquired for personal reasons, rather than other people’s approval or validation.

There’s a side of me that likes to 'splurge' and go all out at times, but I repress it to stay grounded as much as possible. Living simply can remove the distraction of many temptations and the sense of entitlement, contentment or comfort they might bring to some people, which often gets in the way of true progress.

It also means that you aren't living your life to simply 'fit in' with others and feeling the pressure of having to please, impress or get the approval of those people in your daily life so you can focus on what truly matters. When you feel validated within yourself, you don’t need external validation. Being this way also attracts better quality relationships in your life, and people who want to know you for the right reasons.

3. Demonstrate Integrity

I have always done my utmost to demonstrate integrity in everything I do. If I have promised something, I always do my absolute utmost to deliver. I value it more than any other quality, even above intelligence or energy.

It is crucial to choose integrity to succeed in life. It makes you the best possible leader and helps in times of survival, whether it is you or others you are helping. You can’t trade it for anything, no matter what the price is.

When you think and behave like this consistently, anything less represents a slip or mistake, rather than who you are. Sometimes even the best of us can let ourselves down - but when we operate from a place of integrity, it isn't catastrophic and can be remedied.

4. Learn to Communicate

I’ve always been an outgoing and communicative person. However, over the years I have refined and mastered my craft in both the written and verbal form. When I reflect on my life’s path, communication has formed a massive part of it.

It started as far back as high school when I participated in (and won) the Toastmasters public speaking contest upon my father’s initiation, encouragement, and desire. I then went on to become a finalist in the Toastmasters state finals.

My dad knew the importance of communication and overcoming any fears and inhibitions to develop confidence and clarity of message.  It was a great experience, and since then I have continued to evolve and improve my ability to communicate and influence in both written and verbal contexts.

I recognize it is one of the most valuable skills you can ever have because you need to do it in virtually every aspect of your life. If you’re not good at it, many situations that require it will see you get the rough end of the stick.

You could lose a lot of battles or be unhelpful or even useless to those closest to you who might need your help; or worse, you might end up avoiding any confrontation or battle altogether, which is basically a forfeit and keeps you stuck in a rut - all because communication isn't your thing.

If you are not good at articulating your thoughts, now is an excellent time to join a course to have an audience and practice your public speaking and gain confidence.

5. Love What You Do

I think we can all agree that I’ve taken a path of purpose and fulfillment where I get to do what I love. I sing, play piano, write books, create online content, help other people, and enjoy various other responsibilities that many don’t know or see.

Above all, I get to have my voice heard “loud and clear” just as my father always wanted, to silence the haters and their warped or fabricated narratives, which I have drawn like a magnet all of my adult life. My varied work responsibilities also provide me with flexibility so that I can invest in other important routines like exercise and rest, which I make a priority in my life.

I’ve always believed that choosing a degree, job, or purpose that you love is the best strategy if you want to be happy. It can also make you far more successful because it is sustainable, and you can apply more passion, energy and desire toward it given you truly love it.

Life is too short to be miserable in a job you hate or surrounded by people who don’t treat you well. If this sounds like your current predicament, work towards changing it. If you don’t love what you are doing, keep looking until you find your passion and people. When the going gets tough, your passion and interest will always carry you through.

6. Be Humble

I choose to remain grounded, humble, and grateful for everything. I have always been like this… it isn’t a result of my hardest times; however, the latter has reinforced those beliefs as being the right ones. I am comfortable with my imperfections and can take responsibility and accountability for my own mistakes. 

I also know that I don’t know everything, nor will I ever do everything right and achieve perfection. Far from it! I know my shortcomings and weaknesses, but I also know that I have many strengths and have acquired a lot of wisdom and useful, applicable experience from my life that has been eventful and unbelievable at times.

Humility can be developed through listening, self-introspection, and seeking feedback from yourself and others. It is essential to question your assumptions and recognize that you might be wrong because this type of approach is what makes you continue to grow and become a better person.

7. Be Generous

I like to be generous wherever possible. I’m a giver, and I like to ‘give myself’ to others in the form of help, inspiration, wisdom, and kindness to help others bounce back following challenges and adversity so that they can do and feel better. I’m always posting content with no expectation of anything in return.

Even though I have a lot of other things I do, I make sure I put out plenty of content (like this) for others who might need it. It doesn’t matter if I’ve had a bad day; I do it anyway. I’ve taken it on as one of my responsibilities. Given all the amazing feedback I get, I know it helps others. When you give more of yourself, good karma comes back your way eventually. It enables you to live from a place of kindness, warmth, and good intentions, rather than selfishness and a lack of empathy.

By developing these 7 empowering life lessons you will develop your personality, build your character, and lead a happy and successful life.

One thing I know a lot about is how the mind works – not only in a psychological sense, but also chemically. It’s all been through my varied life experiences.

When I was in my 20s and I lived in Adelaide, I would go running on my treadmill every morning at 5am wearing my hoodie and gloves indoors (because it was so cold upon waking up), and I swear I would feel an intense feel-good chemical rush during and following my run. It was so profound that I felt like I had this enormous energy I couldn’t expel… I felt excessively happy and upbeat. I honestly put this down to the exercise during my youth... but it was probably a few other things too.

This rush I would experience every day – and still do now, although not quite so extreme - can be explained by endorphins. Endorphins do amazing things for your brain health and outlook on life. They make you feel so much happier and stronger and provide immense clarity in everything you do.

It’s no wonder given that endorphins are the body’s natural pain relievers, and they can boost your mood, too. They’re highly addictive… so if you have to be addicted to something, make it endorphins because these babies are great for you.

These chemicals are naturally produced by the body during pleasurable activities, which I’ll talk about soon. They’re mostly controlled and released by the hypothalamus and pituitary gland.

They’re a type of neurotransmitter — and in some cases, they’re thought to be hormones, too — that act on opiate receptors to alleviate pain and promote feelings of pleasure.

Though most people are familiar with having an “endorphin rush” after a fun activity, you might wonder what endorphins are and how they benefit your health.

What Are the Benefits of Endorphins?

While research is ongoing, there are many benefits of endorphins:

Therefore, aiming to boost your endorphins can be a great way to support your overall well-being.

Here are 8 Ways to Naturally Boost your Endorphins.

1. Exercise

Exercise is well known for its mood-boosting effects and role in decreasing symptoms of depression and anxiety. It's also great for recovery from illness given this was one of my main tools for recovery from Meningitis and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

Moderate to vigorous intensity aerobic exercise and strength training can lead to a surge in endorphins, along with other feel-good chemicals such as endocannabinoids, dopamine and serotonin.

Moderate intensity exercise includes activities such as a brisk walk, a gentle bike ride, or gardening. Vigorous intensity exercise - like what I do - includes activities like cycling, running, or skiing.

Fortunately, around as little as 20–30 minutes each day can help boost your endorphin levels. It's worth the effort, trust me. ‍♀️

2. Laugh

The saying rings true: Laughter is the best medicine.

Laughing releases endorphins and other feel-good hormones (e.g., dopamine and serotonin) and suppresses stress hormones (e.g., cortisol) to improve mood, reduce pain and stress, lower blood pressure, and support a stronger immune system.

I know this to be true, because during my high school years, I don't think a day went by when I wasn't laughing. While I was a good student and treated my teachers and peers with respect, there was another side of me that loved laughing with my friends. I had a fantastic time with all that we talked about. It was also very amusing when my friends started bringing Dolly magazines to school: let's just say that there was a lot in there that provided much amusement and intrigue. I was often in hysterics and the feeling was amazing. Endorphins.

So, if you’re looking for a mood boost, turn on a funny show or hang out with friends who will give you a good laugh.

3. Listen To or Make Music

Music goes beyond entertainment — it can support your well-being, too.

Numerous studies have shown that music can promote mild pain-reducing effects by releasing endorphins, which increase a person’s pain threshold.

It also helps you exercise longer by alleviating some exercise-induced discomfort or pain, which is why I wear earphones on my run!

Furthermore, upbeat music can also promote a positive mood by releasing endorphins and dopamine.

And all this from just listening to music. If you really want to take it up a level, try making your own music. I play the piano and sing which you can listen to on my Facebook page. When I started singing and playing the piano again, after a long hiatus, I instantly felt a surge or endorphins. I was quite surprised to experience these chemicals when I had only ever associated them with exercise and laughter.

Yet this powerful boost also now happens whenever I make my own music through singing or playing an instrument (or both in my case). It is so much more powerful than simply listening to the music. It’s a great way to boost your health and mood so try a sing-along in the shower sometime.

4. Get Acupuncture

It's been a part of traditional Chinese medicine for centuries, but acupuncture has now gained attention in the Western world as an effective treatment for pain and other disorders.

I have used this treatment on so many occasions; especially to help me survive and recover from Meningococcal and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. It certainly helped relieved some of the pain and discomfort I experienced with these conditions but it also helped my brain deal with the horrific disruption to my life and kept me in a reasonable head space given the circumstances.

Its mechanisms aren’t fully understood, though acupuncture involves inserting small needles into the skin to stimulate the central nervous system. This leads to the release of many chemicals, including endorphins.

5. Eat Dark Chocolate

Chocoholics take note! You’re stimulating endorphins! There’s some evidence that eating dark chocolate can boost endorphins and other feel-good chemicals, such as dopamine. For these important health reasons, I thought it best to get two of the Lindt Peppermint Dark Chocolate packs at the shops just the other day. Endorphins here I come.

Dark chocolate is rich in polyphenolic compounds like flavonoids that trigger the brain to release endorphins. It’s also a moderate source of caffeine, which can elicit a boost in mood.

Ideally, choose dark chocolate that contains at least 70% cocoa, and TRY to stick with a few small squares per serving. Good luck with that.

6. Have 'Intimate Relations'

Ok, I’m not going to say much about this as I don’t want to somehow incriminate myself and fuel unnecessary gossip …  but scientifically, sex increases the release of endorphins, dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin, a hormone and neurotransmitter that is linked to connectedness and trust. It also increases your heart rate and promotes stamina, which can also support your health and mood. Let's just leave it there shall we?

7. Dance

Dancing can be entertaining and good for your health. I know because I’ve done a lot of it in my time. I come from a large family of people who like to party, and in my 'former life' I shared with them countless birthdays, weddings, engagements, anniversaries and more with DJs, juke boxes, live bands, quartets … you name it. The one constant was that there was ALWAYS dancing, and it felt awesome. That’s the Irish bloodline in me and my outgoing family.

Dancing is a form of cardiorespiratory exercise that gets your heart rate up and releases endorphins, which as you know elevates your mood and decreases pain.

Furthermore, dancing in group settings can increase social connectedness and lower stress levels. It’s sure to boost your spirits. So, crank it up and don’t be shy!

8. Meditate

Meditation is a practice that involves training one’s awareness and becoming more mindful and present.

It has been shown to promote health by activating the parasympathetic nervous system, also known as the “rest and digest” system. It also reduces the body’s stress response system, otherwise known as the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis. This also promotes the release of endorphins.

So there you have it: if you want to increase your endorphin levels and improve your brain health, DO FUN THINGS.

A very wise, knowing, and noteworthy woman once said, “Haters’ gonna hate, hate, hate” (OK, so that would be the pop singer Taylor Swift in her hit song Shake it Off – but it still stands). While this song takes on jealousy and haters in a light-hearted way by suggesting we must “shake it off”, which is important in many respects as it keeps their miserable jealousy fueled issues in perspective for what they are (their own personal hang-ups and not your problem), I recognize that it is not always that easy to shake off haters and jealousy.

It can be human nature to take negative comments, actions or issues to heart, even when those might be honest, are delivered tactfully and are well intended for constructive purposes, let alone when it’s delivered with sinister intent due to some (or many) people’s green-eyed monster that lurks within them.

This can be the case irrespective of whether you know the person well. Everyone deals with haters and jealous people. Even Mother Theresa had criticism and hatred directed at her and look at the well-intended life she led. It doesn’t matter who you are or what positive influence you are trying to make in the world, haters will always exist. 

WARNING: Nobody is exempt from jealousy and hatred from others. Unfortunately, and yes it is a pain in the butt, all of us are subject to its cruelty during life due to emotionally immature people who can’t take accountability for their own miserable lives or choices.

It can hurt even more to have a friend or family member who is jealous, because the actions and emotional expressions of a jealous person are not kind or loving. When it’s delivered by multiple people toward you, or even crowds of them, well that takes the cake and is one of the most horrendously challenging situations to ever deal with. However, irrespective of how many people are involved, and what those relationships to you are, you need to understand that their jealousy is caused by their own underlying issues, and it is not your fault. I promise.

With that said, here are my tips on how to deal with jealous and hateful people.

1. Recognize that Jealousy is Often Rooted in Feeling Inadequate

The person sees something in you or another person that makes them feel that they aren’t as good. It could be real or imagined, but the feelings of inadequacy are projected through negative thoughts or actions. Jealousy emerges as a reaction or solution to those feelings of inadequacy.

One example of this is that a woman might be jealous of her friend who makes more money, has a nice car and designer clothing. That friend also comes from a wealthy family, so she never feels like she can beat her, since that seems to be her desire.

Rather than being happy for her friend’s success and happiness, this woman feels that her income, car, and clothing are inadequate by comparison. She might feel like a failure in life because her success is not on the same scale as her friend and they graduated at the same time with the same degree and lived in the same neighborhood growing up.

Instead of identifying and internally dealing with these underlying feelings of inadequacy, the jealousy turns into little digs and insults when they are together. This is at the lighter end of the impact scale, so you most likely will notice it but can tolerate it. For example, the jealous friend makes comments such as “why would a person get a new car every two years when people are starving in the world” and “wow, that purse must have cost enough to feed a small village for a month”.

Those comments that are coming out of jealousy might make the jealous friend feel better or more powerful momentarily, but they don’t address the underlying feelings of inadequacy and emotional immaturity that accompany it, therefore the jealousy will continue and even intensify, until the problem is addressed.

Even if the jealous friend begins making more money, or gets a better car and clothing, she will find a new person to be jealous of or another issue with the existing friend to be jealous about, because the inadequacy is the driving force. She feels like she must compete with this one person who is so close in her life but she knows that’s nearly impossible. Jealousy is a powerful force.

You can’t change how they think and feel, however there are ways for you to handle a jealous person that can help disarm them or prevent you from being exposed to their jealous comments and actions. There is not a one size fits all solution to dealing with jealousy and hatred. Each situation is unique and needs to be handled accordingly.

2. Keep Your Distance

The closer you are to someone like this, the more the jealousy intensifies because they are only ever jealous of people who are in their ‘world’ or ‘environment’. You might notice they don’t give a second thought about celebrities or wealthy public figures who aren’t in their immediate environmental vicinity; in fact they might be a fan and are fine with their achievements, intelligence or wealth because they don’t draw comparisons or compete with them given they’re strangers and are in different worlds.

There is power in distance. If someone is saying something negative about you in their conversations with you, why keep making yourself so available to communicate? If their behavior persists, then don’t talk to them anymore. This means you don’t have to subject yourself to their comments.

With them being further away, they will find it hard to be so jealous and competitive because you become more distant physically and in their thoughts over time. It means that they inevitably turn their jealous comments and hatred toward someone else. This happens because jealousy never disappears… it only ever gets redirected because people like this rarely change.

You don’t have to tolerate bullies. Avoid them, distance yourself from them or even move far away if you have to. You’re not doing this out of malice or emotional immaturity, you’re doing it out of survival and to preserve your sanity in response to their refusal to address their own personal issues. It’s self-preservation: you don’t need to continue to subject yourself to someone else’s jealousy that is based on their own insecurities.

3. Take the Issue Head On

When you’re courageous, and really desire an end to the behavior but want to retain the relationship, you might be bold and raise the issue with the individual concerned. Don’t feel bad about it or worried as though you’re doing something wrong. Remember, if they’re game enough to inflict their jealousy and hate through their communication and body language on a regular basis, then they don’t care – plain and simple.

If they don’t care, why should you? The truth is that you cannot avoid the comments of a jealous individual. No matter how you try to disarm the person by changing the subject, it doesn’t stop them. In those situations, the best option is to talk with them about what is happening - calmly and rationally, with empathy and maturity.

Even though in the moment, they might hate your frankness in addressing it with them, if they are reasonable and value you and the relationship, they might change their behavior after they've had some time to think about it. Let me warn you though, that not everyone is reasonable. Some are just so consumed with green envy that nothing you say, try or do will make a scrap of difference.

Quite often people who are consumed with so much jealousy have already devalued their relationship with you anyway… some people just can’t live in a world with someone doing better or being better than them in any way. Even your frankness and maturity in taking the real issue to them can make people like this fume with contempt… and they would rather hate you than accommodate you. With people like this, unless you’re willing to be walked over, then that relationship is not yours to have. Accept that.

Taking on the issue of jealousy head on is especially important when it comes to family and close relationships. You want to improve those relationships, so let the person know that you are coming to them for that reason. But sadly, just because they're family or friends doesn’t mean those people will be any more reasonable.

It's black and white: they either value the relationship or they don’t. Quite often if there is a lot of jealous, senseless behavior that is taking place toward you, they really don’t value the relationship because they are willing to put it at risk to satisfy their own desires for power in compensating their feelings of inadequacy.

4. Remind Yourself That it’s Them and Not You

Take a step back and pause when you are getting treated unfairly because of someone’s jealousy. Remind yourself that it is not you who has the problem: it is them. Their jealousy and underlying issues are causing them to act this way.

This approach is known as empathy; it’s a handy trait to have when it comes to other people. It helps explain their behavior, and you can have compassion for them and their inner pain which means you carry less resentment and are unlikely to react in a hostile or reckless way. Having said that, you are under no expectation or duty to put up with it because nothing justifies their actions in taking it out on you.

By understanding what drives their behavior, it is possible not to take it so personally. I know - it is easier said than done. But with practice, it’s very possible to think and behave like this. It really does help you when you can understand what is motivating their behaviors, which then makes it easier to digest the circumstances. Being the bigger person is never easy, but with practice it does come more naturally.

5. Disarm Them With Positivity

Words carry power. Being a positive influence in the world, especially when it comes to a person who feels like they are less than you, is a powerful force. Help others to be better and do better by focusing on the positives, especially when negative comments are coming your way. If you are able to practice this method of disarming a jealous person it will become easier and more consistent over time.

Showing love and using positive words to encourage can be infectious, so spread it among many and your community and world will become a better place. You might or might not positively inspire the jealous person or people, but you are helping those who do want to be the best versions of themselves.

6. Ignore and Avoid

There is a small percentage of people that simply does not change no matter what tactic you use to disarm or disengage their jealous behaviors. These haters will hate on you because you are too good, then they will hate on you the next day because of your faults.

You can never do right by some people and sometimes there is no other choice but to limit or remove them from your life. You don’t need people who are continually trying to tear you down. Their own insecurities may be so deeply rooted that they are quite extreme, and only professional help will enable a change in their ways. Though this is unlikely to occur given that people like this often refuse to take accountability.

There is no rule in life that says you must be friends with every person you know or encounter. There are some mean people in this world who will always be dissatisfied by their own life and therefore insult and hate on others constantly. Don’t get sucked into their drama and insults. Avoid them, change suburbs, states, jobs or activities if the situation is severe enough that it affecting your mental wellbeing and attitude in life.

7. Keep Being You

Having haters is a sign that you are doing things right in life and are successful. People who are jealous of you know that you are doing well and they want that for themselves. Rather than investing their time in making their own lives better, they try to bring others down who they know are better than them. They look for faults in those people so they can justify their hateful jealousy.

It's a lazy approach to feeling 'powerful' - but it's not true power so always recognize that. You will never have favor with everyone you encounter. People will dislike you, especially when you remind them of their own shortfalls or failings. It's a part of the deal with being happy and successful. The happier and more successful you become the more you will find people will become jealous. This means that negative, desperate and senseless commentary, actions and behavior will be coming your way whether you like it or not.

Don’t allow these people to bring you down. Be strong by remaining true to who you are and what you do. Don’t allow someone else’s own failures to prevent you from being you or pursuing your dreams because that only makes you regret not living your life the way you want to and being the person you truly are.

Remind yourself that their comments are based on their own failures and dissatisfaction with life and have nothing to do with you, but everything to do with them.

8. Focus on Relationships that Encourage

There are plenty of people and places in this world that provide goodwill, positivity and happiness. They show love to others in their relationships because they treat others how they want to be treated. Invest your time and energy with these type of people because they are of high value in your life.

Choose to be close to people who encourage and support you and your life endeavors. Be of encouragement to those you like and love too. This can be empowering for everyone involved.

You determine who you allow to influence your life. If you spend a great deal of time with someone who exhibits jealousy toward you, then you will not feel uplifted or encouraged. Seek out the relationships in your life that uplift you, encourage you, and help you become a positive influence in the world.

Relationships are powerful, so make sure yours are rooted in positivity, encouragement, and love. Forget the haters and deal with them only on an 'as needed' basis.


Enjoyment. Pleasure. Fun. Happiness. Contentment. Sometimes it’s very easy to forget what they’re like. A busy, modern life as an adult sometimes makes us think they don’t exist, or that we don’t deserve them or have time for them. Well, that thinking is wrong. That voice is lying to you. These things DO exist, and we all deserve to rediscover them.

We can be very hard on ourselves, can’t we? We can feel battered by the demands we put on ourselves to achieve and to do. We can feel restricted by other people and their opinions, expectations and beliefs. That feeling that everything we do with our spare time must have a purpose is dominant. It feels like it’s not enough just to be.

But the things that seem to have little or no purpose are actually the most important things of all. And interestingly, when you pursue them more and more, they actually end up becoming a purpose and evolving into something much more.


The times when we least feel like doing something for ourselves are the times when we most need to do exactly that. We need time out. We need to give our brains a rest.

Our poor heads feel full to bursting with all the things we have to think about. There are things we need to do. Things we should do. Things we ought to do. Today we’re telling our negative inner voice to that we’re not going to be held down for any longer, because can do what we WANT to do.

Not ‘need’ to. Not ‘should’. Not ‘ought to’. Those are words that stress us all out. Nothing saps the joy out of our days like the things we ‘ought’ to do.


Take a moment to think about something that makes you smile – something you would look forward to doing. Something you might consider trivial, but you could get lost in it and forget about the world for a while.

It could be something you’d do at home. It could be watching a film or a favourite TV show – maybe something you haven’t watched for a while. It could be a game or a puzzle. It could be something creative, like painting, sewing, baking – or playing a musical instrument or singing like me, or even just listening to music or creating a sketch. It could be something as simple as running a bath.

It could involve being outdoors – maybe you enjoy wildlife, going for a walk or a bike ride, or just sitting watching the world go by.


What would happen if you gave yourself permission to enjoy a pointless activity for a short time? Maybe it’s time to find out.

We know one thing that would happen, though. Every moment you spend enjoying something, every second you spend looking after yourself, you’re winning. You’re poking stress, negativity and exhaustion in the eye. You’re forcing those things into submission. You’re turning the tables.


But when are you going to fit in this spot of enjoyment? It has to be something that works for you. Your habitual and automatic response to this is that there is no time. Don’t listen. Look in your diary, or at your calendar, and block out some time for yourself. Do you have a free lunch time? Half an hour before bed? Could the cleaning wait another day?

Having some ‘me time’ on the calendar gives you something to look forward to – another thing you won’t like to begin with. Give yourself permission to step off the treadmill. Give yourself a chance to enjoy doing something just for the sake of it.

In January 2017 I got another firsthand look at survival mode, whether I wanted to or not. I contracted a severe, life threatening illness called Meningococcal Disease. For me, that experience was just a matter of survival.

It didn’t matter how full or dysfunctional my life already was, who my friends or family were, how many cars I had, or how big my bank balance was. Survival was the goal of each and every day for me – just to stay alive.

Survival for me was taking action in my very limited and debilitated capacity (given that others failed to help me when I needed it most), by way of rest, strictly nutritious food, water and acupuncture – the bare bones basics of my every day during and following that horrendous and life flipping experience as my body battled Meningococcal without antibiotics or hospitalization. Doctors misdiagnosed my illness and I faced it alone.

It’s amazing how an extreme health crisis and adversity can force you into survival mode.

But apart from my extreme personal example of severe illness and post-illness life, you might be surprised to find that you’re more familiar with survival mode than you think.

It makes sense because humans are born to survive. We have these instincts. They extend back to generations gone by. In this instance, I’m talking about survival mode in the figurative sense. You don’t need to experience a horrendous adversity or illness to know what I’m talking about.

If you’re not sure what I mean, read on.


If you found yourself nodding with each sentence, you know what that means, right?

Yep, survival mode.

Don’t get me wrong. Survival mode is at times helpful and even necessary.

For example, when you’re going through a difficult period you might sense the need to scale back and focus on only the necessities of life. There are times when, quite frankly, we simply don’t have the capacity for all the extra niceties.

This was me. I was so sick for so long, that I didn’t even feel like buying a new car even though it was time for one and I could easily do so in other ways. Yet the thought of shopping around and making decisions was beyond me, so I stuck with my car for some time and only when I felt better, I bought a new one.

The key is to make sure that survival mode isn’t the norm because clearly, it holds you back when it’s permanent.  It can be gradual... it doesn't have to happen all at once, but you can gradually build up to thriving rather than simply surviving.

When you’re ready to do so, your first question might be ‘how’.

If you’ve been stuck in survival mode for a while, it might feel difficult or near impossible to get moving. But don’t worry, I have some great ideas that will give you the momentum you need to make that first step and then the next. 

Choose as many as you like to spark a change. Then keep adding as you go.


1. Take Stock – this is the first place I recommend you start. Take some time to step back and evaluate where you are. Are you happy with your life at the moment? If not, what areas would you change? You’ve been through difficulty and problems. Don’t look back to feel bad about them – look back to see how far you’ve come and what more you can do to thrive beyond them.

2. Seek Inner Guidance – the fact that you’re in survival mode is one thing, how you get out of it is another. When you don’t have the answer, let your subconscious and gut instincts start working for you as you take some time out and enjoy peace and quiet. Reconnect with your true self and listen to your intuition. When you’re not focusing and stressing about it, the answer inevitably comes.

3. Get Outside – there’s nothing like some fresh air to clear your mind.  And do you know that studies show that being near the water or wooded natural environments, and inhaling fresh air is good for your physical and mental wellbeing? So, you might as well head to the river or beach depending on where you live!

4. Establish a Healthy Routine – a routine is a form of personal discipline and purpose. It means that every day you wake up, you know what you’re doing. By making sure it’s a healthy routine, you’re maximizing your opportunities to feel good about life and want more than to simply survive day to day. Exercising every day, drinking a home-made blended fruit juice every day, and getting sunshine each and every day are all things you can include in a healthy routine. These will make you feel good and you’ll want to feel more of those feelings.

5. Talk About It – sometimes just being able to verbalize what you’re feeling can help. Share your thoughts with a trusted friend, coach, or mentor. They don’t need to have the answers, just a willingness to listen. Be selective of what you share though … don’t give away all your power by giving them everything. Also have a positive purpose in doing so… be constructive and helpful to yourself, but also the person you’re communicating with… you don’t want the communication to become a dumping ground of negativity that only makes you feel worse and makes your friend run for the hills.

6. Practice Gratitude – giving thanks is a sure way to unlock the possibilities in your life. The more you focus your attention on what you do have, the quicker you will build positive things upon those. If you keep focusing on all the bad things in your life, you will give negative energy and momentum to your future path as an extension of those things. When you count and build upon your blessings, your whole life can turn around. Reflect and seek out what you do have, have had, or can have and use these things to feel good and thrive.

7. Participate in Exercise and Sport – being in survival mode often means you feel stuck and an easy way to get unstuck is to get moving. For me, I go running each day and do weights… the physical activity is good for your body and your mind and gives you an endorphin rush, which is more powerful than antidepressants. The physical strength you acquire also provides you with the required energy to thrive.

8. Find a Purpose – find a project you can devote yourself to. Many people rely on their relationships as their main purpose in life. To me, relationships are relationships and if those change, then you’re purposeless which is very disempowering. Relying completely on others as your main purpose can also make you clingy and needy, which can be claustrophobic to others. I know people like this. A personal purpose is something created by you and for you, which also requires you in it in relation to your creativity, hard work, or talent. It makes you more desirable to be around because you’re far more interesting to people in your life!

Survival mode might work for a short period of time, but chances are you’re ready to get moving and thriving again. Give these tips a try. Be consistent and stick with them and you’ll see results.

In toxic families, scapegoats are the family members blamed for all of the problems in a dysfunctional family. If you have ever been collectively shamed and blamed (aka smear campaigns), subjected to distorted family narratives and rejected and discarded by those who were supposed to love you most – your family – then you have been the victim of this most egregious (and often chronic) form of systemically-driven psycho-emotional bullying and abuse. As such, you might also realize that you’ve been forced to deal with all the painful consequences to body, mind, and spirit that accompany it.

Why Do Some Families Scapegoat? There are myriad reasons why a family might scapegoat their son, daughter, niece, or nephew, but it’s the fault of the person or people engaging in it, not the victim. More often than not, a parent, sibling and other family members who are mentally ill or emotionally unstable including people with a personality disorder, such as Borderline Personality Disorder or Narcissistic Personality Disorder, are far more likely to scapegoat a loved one than a psycho-emotionally healthy and stable person.

The reason for this is that people who live with these disorders idealize and devalue others or engage in black-and-white thinking. As such, they might attack their loved one to release their pent-up frustrations and deep feelings of abandonment, ‘toxic shame’, self-hatred and jealousy.

They might also engage in ‘splitting’ behaviors. For example they might pit one sibling against the other to create a camp of ‘allies’. Parents or other adult family members that ‘split’ will also tend to see one child as ‘good’ and another as ‘bad’ (the ‘scapegoat’).

The very existence of these defined roles is firmly rooted in toxic dysfunction. It might even be switched and allocated to different family members at different times by those engaging in this abusive treatment, based on circumstances, life events, and changing family dynamics.

Scapegoating in a dysfunctional family system is fuelled by unconscious processes whereby the family displaces their own collective psychological difficulties and complexes onto a specific family member. It doesn’t mean that the various acts of scapegoating a family member, such as rejecting, humiliating, blaming, shaming, and ostracizing are unconscious.

Rather it’s the projection process fuelling the scapegoating of the family member that is unconscious. This projection is also often rooted in and fuelled by multigenerational trauma. It can also be orchestrated and perpetrated by family members who are genetically predisposed to such abusive tendencies and who are different to the scapegoat who may not have these genetic dispositions.

What Are the Impacts of Family Scapegoating Abuse? Many adult survivors fail to realize that they have suffered from psycho-emotional abuse and even a therapist frequently misses the signs and symptoms associated with being in this most devastating dysfunctional family role. Given that the scapegoating victim is depicted as the perpetrator by their own family, they often (wrongly) feel ashamed, grief-stricken, confused, and extremely low in confidence and self-esteem.

They might even be in denial, or instinctively 'protect' other family members by not speaking the truth of their behavior. In this complex mental state, the last thing they’re going to think is that they are a victim.

Concerningly, adults seeking assistance from mental health professionals often find that the genuine pain and distress they are experiencing is minimized or even dismissed by a therapist or doctor with statements like, “They’re your family, they love you”; “Family connections are so important, is it really all that bad?”; “It’s best if you apologize because you need to maintain ties with your family to be healthy”.

Such invalidation only reinforces the scapegoated person’s fear that they are somehow fundamentally to blame for their strained (or non-existent) family relationships. It also highlights a glaring problem with professional therapy by ‘qualified therapists’ who lack the real life experience to form an accurate assessment, and the detrimental and devastating impacts that this ignorance can have on emotional abuse / family scapegoating survivors. It's why I encourage you to get your own copy of my book Overcome Anything! which shares real life experience.

This widespread ignorance means that for many family scapegoating survivors, family relational distress and abuse symptoms go unrecognized. Yet these people often suffer from anxiety, panic attacks, depression, unrecognized grief, and anger management issues, identity crises, as well as other disorders.

For the ones who are strong and confident, and who might have been a victim of family scapegoating in young adulthood (as opposed to childhood) or have noticed that their treatment coincided with a significant change in family dynamics due to family deaths or estrangements of other family members, they might have more self-belief rooted in their soul due to different reference points earlier in their life (how things used to be) and start to suspect something is amiss with their new-found treatment. Even though it feels horrendous, being a family scapegoat can give someone the ability to see a dysfunctional or toxic family for what it is when they previously failed to notice.

The maltreatment scapegoats endure in families is often the impetus that drives them to leave the dysfunctional, toxic establishment. Meanwhile, all those others who contribute to it and remain in the family fray, continue to be enmeshed in this harmful family system. It means that scapegoats distancing themselves from their families of origin begin to heal from the abuse they experienced. In this way, there can be an upside to it given that it yields a more desirable outcome after you get through the pain and distress.

Can Family Scapegoating Abuse Lead to Complex Trauma?

Family scapegoating can most certainly lead to complex trauma. In fact, many family scapegoating abuse survivors can suffer from symptoms of undiagnosed, untreated Complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD). Betrayal Trauma may be a contributing factor to C-PTSD symptoms as well.

Scapegoated adults are negatively impacted in nearly every area of their life, including their mental and emotional health, relationships, work, and their ability to realize their most cherished goals and dreams. In fact, scapegoated adults often feel debilitated by self-doubt and ‘imposter syndrome’ in their relationships and in the workplace, and some choose to blame themselves for their difficulties. They also might be unconsciously drawn to other narcissistic people and form unhealthy relationships because of their past treatment.

Something else that can occur is that they develop 'fawning' behaviors, whereby they seek to please others and avoid conflict at any cost. They may also struggle to create and experience a sense of life mission, passion, and purpose, and find themselves succumbing to feelings of futility, hopelessness, depression, anxiety, and despair.

It may not even occur to the scapegoating victim that they may need to limit or (in extreme cases) even end contact with abusive family members who refuse to take ownership for their damaging behaviors – especially when they love them so much and might have had previously positive reference points from earlier in their life.

Breaking the Cycle

For anyone experiencing emotional abuse or family scapegoating, nothing beats real life stories from others who have survived and thrived beyond it. It’s far more effective than professional therapy. While many people become stuck in the emotional, mental, and physical consequences of this horrendous abuse, there is every opportunity to survive and thrive far beyond it. In my book, Overcome Anything! I show you how to survive and thrive. It’s my secret 8 step solution to getting beyond life’s hardest times including anxiety and depression.


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© 2023 Alana Huxtable.

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