“Ambivalence is your window to understanding underlying conflict.”

Humans like to take sides.  It just makes life so much easier.  Democrats or Republicans.  Mets or Yankees.  Choose a side, and no further thinking is needed about the subject.  However, in reality, life is much too complex to really take sides.  For most decisions, there are competing factors at play that need to be examined.  So how do we determine what areas in our life need examining?  Find those areas of ambivalence that you have.  Ambivalence is your minds way of telling you that you aren’t so sure which way to go.  So by examining the underlying reasons behind you ambivalence, you can then better understand yourself, and in doing so, make a mature decision about what do with whatever situation you are faced with.

“Accept that life can be hard at times.”

Most people seem to fool themselves, due to a simple false assumption.  They assume that life is supposed to go their way, and when things don’t, they get frustrated and the normal reaction is to fool themselves into thinking that the problem is somewhere else which means that the solution to their problems always eludes them.  However, by accepting that life can be hard, and taking things as they come, one can then look at life – and oneself – straight in the eyes and do the real soul searching that is needed to get to the depths of oneself to find the answers to whatever is bothering them that might be so evasive.

“Don’t allow other people to determine how to live your life.”

Ask yourself how many decisions in your life you have made that were not greatly impacted by the question of “what would another person think or want me to do in this situation”.  This other person could include family, friends, or total strangers, and could include assumptions planted in your psyche when you were younger by these same groups of people.  When you allow this to happen, you are enslaving yourself to the whims of others.  Free yourself and make your own decisions.  I can promise that you will never look back.

“If you want to understand yourself better, point to your actions and ask yourself why.”

I just learned this lesson, and I have to say, it’s by far the most valuable thing I have learned in the past few years.  If you think about it, our actions are the physical manifestation of the conclusions of very complex thought processes.  So if we want to understand the underpinnings of why we do what we do, we can simply ask ourself, “Why exactly did I do that?!?”.  (I have found that this exercise works best with pen and paper and allowing for a free flowing question and answer style dialogue.)  In asking and then answering the question of why, you will be forced to reverse engineer your thoughts, emotions, and assumptions that got to you the outcome of whatever action you chose – and bring you closer than you have ever been to your core self.

“Simplify.”

Modern life is too complex to not simplify as much as possible.  This means, creating finding patterns and creating routines that allow for repetitive processes that simplify your life.  For example, a friend of mine pays all his bills once a month, which means that he only opens his mail once a month.  Another friend consolidated all of his bank accounts to one bank.  Another person I know consolidated all of his credit cards to one card.  I just dumped all but one personal email address and am about to go to one consolidated phone number.  Imagine if you did all of these actions how much easier life would be for you.