15 Nov 8 Ways To Drastically Improve Your Life (Without Quitting Your Job To Travel The World)
Even small changes can make a big difference.
Quitting your job to travel the world sounds tempting. But for many, it’s more about escape than the experience.
You are probably familiar with the expression “comfortable in your own skin.” It means you know yourself and don’t judge yourself by limiting beliefs. It means you know your life goals and are confident in your abilities and when dealing with others.
It means you’re happy with who you are here and now — not once you quit your job or move to a foreign country.
And while simply being yourself should be the easiest thing in the world, it’s sometimes challenging to be self-assured and genuine. It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of thinking you have to manage your “three skins” from the outside in before you can finally be happy and real.
Yes, you have three layers of “skin” when it comes to how you view yourself.
The first, innermost layer gives you shape and identity — it’s who you are at your core; the second defines how you present yourself to the world — like your clothes, for example; and the third is the space in which you live and work — such as the home you chose and how you decorated it.
While it is important to manage all three layers of yourself, many people believe that being truly content in their first skin is the reward for mastering their second and third skins.
However, being comfortable in your first skin is a natural state of mind: authenticity.
As small children, you are not only happy with who you are, you have no awareness of the “skin” concept. As you learn and grow, your brain connects events to the emotions you feel.
The more often you have the same experience, the more familiar the emotion becomes and the more likely you are to repeat the experience, no matter whether it’s positive or not.
You also develop emotions about emotions like pride, guilt and shame, taking on the judgments of those around you about what you do.
People around you make it perfectly clear what is acceptable behavior and what isn’t.
In order to get approval, you adjust your first skin into “appropriate” behavior and acceptable expressions of emotion. You conform to your environment’s expectations; fitting in becomes important.
This acceptance includes your second and third skins which, like the first, are often about norms and other people’s opinions.
For your second skin, you subject yourself to fashion, and to decorate your third skin, the size of your mortgage attests to the fact that your home is more about meeting the “standard” rather than your own comfort.
While you try to keep up with the Joneses, you progressively develop more habits and routines. With very little room for spontaneity, you expand your comfort zone until it is so big that everything you do is predictable.
This works well for your brain, whose job it is to keep you safe. Brains love certainty because they only need to expend minimal energy on familiar patterns you no longer consciously recognize. You literally run on automatic.
The downside? Life that used to be vibrant becomes dull and boring.
Thankfully, there seems to be an antidote: You go on holiday to an unfamiliar location to regain that sense of aliveness. Stepping out of “normality” gives you the opportunity to connect with the explorer part of you that has gotten lost amidst everyday routine.
Maybe you take an even more radical step when your second and third skins become so uncomfortable that you find yourself irritated, resentful or depressed all the time.
You quit your job, sell your belongings and search for yourself by traveling the world, rather than face the overwhelming prospect of lifelong conformity.
Shedding your second and third skins by revamping your wardrobe or changing environments is easy. Finding the happiness and satisfaction that lies within your first skin, however, requires that you muster the courage to get real and look at how you want to live — rather than how you think others think you should.
It takes resolve to step outside of expectations — real or perceived. That is why the journey that takes you inside rather than outside of yourself is called the road less traveled. But the journey is worth it because once you feel comfortable in your first skin, you’ll style your second and third skins from the inside out to suit yourself rather than others.
Here are 8 ways to drastically improve your life and get comfortable in your own skin by overcoming limiting beliefs that will help you reach your life goals — without quitting your job to travel the world.
1. Forget what other people think or expect
Instead of worrying about what other people think, consider how a particular choice will impact your life. Will you risk disapproval from others to approve of yourself?
This is not about flipping boundless selflessness into narcissistic selfishness. It is about examining the impact other people’s opinions have on you. Decide which ones work for you and which ones don’t.
2. Drop the perfectionism
You are a human being, designed to learn by making mistakes. Celebrate your achievements instead. Not just the big ones, acknowledge the little ones, too.
You will create some natural dopamine, a feel-good neurotransmitter, in your brain that supports your confidence and competence, without the need for external validation.
3. Learn how to manage your negative emotions
Notice how you get angry and frustrated when somebody interferes with your boundaries?
You often tolerate the discomfort of not speaking up until you become depressed or even ill. Alternatively, when the internal toxic vat has reached capacity and explodes, you dump your built-up rage on the unfortunate person who happens to be in front of you.
Instead, learn words to describe your emotions. A study conducted by psychologists at UCLA found that simply by doing so, you soothe the amygdala, the emotional center of the brain.
4. Become comfortable addressing and resolving conflict
What you may consider a disagreement is often an opportunity to strengthen a relationship and a chance to reassert your authenticity at the same time.
Hanging onto resentment and anger not only negatively influences how you deal with others, it negatively impacts your immune system. Instead of waiting too long, notice how you feel and address the issue.
If you are too upset, walk away and have the conversation when you have calmed down.
5. Let go of wanting to control what you cannot control
You will minimize the need to address issues. And, yes, this includes judging other people’s skins. Believing you are in charge of how others should behave is a sure-fire way to not only feel resentful, but also alienate people.
When it comes to controlling situations, if something doesn’t work, do something else. There are always choices.
6. Stop blaming
It’s okay to have had a less than ideal childhood, but no one has the right to live a life full of blame as an adult.
Take charge of your well-being and your choices. Exchange the word responsibility (which really means blamability) for response-ability, for the ability to respond with integrity for the self. In other words, be proactive and accountable.
7. Let go of the need to be liked
Aim for respect instead. Behave consistently and make choices that reflect your integrity.
When you respect yourself, you encourage trust, which is a good basis for authentic relationships. More importantly, you start trusting yourself.
8. Figure out what works for you
When you know what works for you and live by guidelines you have established for yourself, you will naturally be comfortable in all of your three skins.
This way, if you do decide to quit your job and travel the world, instead of running away from yourself, you’ll now take yourself with you.
Angela Heise is a professional leadership coach and Emotional Productivity℗ trainer who helps men and women develop emotional intelligence, so they can feel happier and improve their lives every day.