Self-Examination

9 Ways to Stay in Your Lane

Excessive Talking

(Photo Credit: Cheat Sheet)

When you learn to stay in your lane, your life will be so much better. The purpose of this piece is to offer nine ways to help you stay in your lane.                                    

1. Fix Yourself First. When you’re too eager to solve the problems of others, or too swift to make an unproductive generalization or analysis about someone else, pause and begin working on yourself. You have too many issues in your own life to address to devote time to the problems of others.

2. Recognize Your Own Inadequacies. Before you attempt to highlight the inadequacies of others, take enough time to eliminate your own.

 3. Stop Running Your Mouth So Much. Many people talk so much—never taking time to listen—that they fail to realize what they are actually saying. Excessive talking can lead you to commenting on phenomena you lack sufficient knowledge to discuss. Listen just as much as you speak.

4. Consider How Insignificant Your Comments Are. Most of what you respond to that doesn’t directly involve you will not be affected in any way by what you’re wasting your time trying to convey about it. Take a moment to consider this question: Who cares what I have to say? If your response is “all that matters is I said what I had to say,” then understand you’re simply being self-indulgent. When this is your frequent response, recognize that you’re self-absorbed.

 5. Understand the Harm Your Words Can Cause. When you get out of your lane, you increase the likelihood of communicating something hurtful or harmful. If you feel compelled to say something, at least take the necessary time to articulate it in a responsible way.

6. Respect the Differences of Others. Just because people don’t do what you do and don’t think like you, those aren’t valid reasons for you to involve yourself in their business. Give people the freedom to be who they are—just as you desire to have the liberty to be who you are. Don’t attempt to impose your values on others; your values are just that—your values.

7. Analyze your intentions. Investigate the real reason or reasons you feel it necessary to step into someone else’s lane. You may discover that your intentions are what need addressing instead of the issues others are confronting.

8. Keep a Private Journal. Instead of always involving yourself in the affairs of others, purchase a journal and record your thoughts. You will find journaling to be a healthy way to end your desire to get into other people’s lanes. Also, you will discover that journaling is cathartic and meaningful narrative therapy. A private journal is a safe space for you to collect your thoughts without hurting anyone, without getting into a lane you shouldn’t be in, and without having to experience negative repercussions.

9. Acknowledge You’re Not the Messiah. You don’t have all of the answers. You’re not always right. No one believes everything you say is the Gospel.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison          

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The Value of Your Funk: Part One

Too many people attempt to bury their imperfections, disappointments, vexing past, professional and academic inadequacies, physical shortcomings, mental imbalances, low self-esteem, failures, utter unhappiness, and all of the other things unpleasing to them. Those aforementioned things are what I call “funk.” All human beings are funky because no one is perfect. We all, therefore, are funky because of our inability to be perfect. People have to face the reality that their funk will always be present—there’s no escaping it. What can I do about my funk? You should never try to mask, hide, replicate, and ignore your funk. A significant number of individuals fail to understand their funk is valuable.

When you never deal frankly, boldly, critically, and thoroughly with the things about yourself and your life that are unpleasing to you, then you’re not only missing a meaningful opportunity to capitalize on the value of those unpleasing phenomena, but also you’re preventing yourself from being truly whole and liberated. You cannot truly be a whole and liberated person when you’re carrying life’s funk with you that you refuse to deal with in such a serious way that your funk is no longer a liability but now an asset. More people are going to have to deal with their low self-esteem or the problems with their self-esteem. Self-esteem problems are at the root cause of many of the important problems people experience in America.

People who are overly sensitive about the most infinitesimal phenomena reveal the disadvantages of living a life without an appreciation of the funk. Their self-esteem quandaries cause them to see their funk in only a negative light. Many people are constantly trying to hide from who they really are because of the fear they have of what people in their environment will say about them if they elect to be themselves. You will never prosper when you run away from who you really are. Moreover, you will never know who you really are when you never give yourself a chance to be real with yourself.

People know you’re phony when you always attempt to present yourself as perfect—like there is nothing in your past and present that doesn’t stink.

Funk stinks—face it!

Too many people are overly focused on doing and saying the things pleasing to those around them. They neglect the precious time each day presents to move closer to understanding themselves more and to engage in the critical self-examination necessary to becoming the best human beings they can be. When people are doing better than you, don’t let envy and jealousy consume you. The time you’re investing in being envious and jealous can serve you better if you devote it to working on your own progression. When you’re concentrated on your own progression, you will not have time to hate on others. You might find that you will become a happier person when you’re happy for other people doing well.

For the things negative things in your life that you’re responsible for, it’s time for you to own those things. When you try to transfer your funk over to other people, it’s still your funk, although an attempt to transfer your funk may result in others having to share the burden on your funk. Please, therefore, don’t make efforts place the encumbrance of your funk on others. If you’re miserable, don’t go around attempting to make others miserable. You’re miserable because you want to be miserable. If you’re miserable, don’t deny it—do something about it! Recognize that who you really are is someone special. However, if you don’t know who you really are, or have intentionally made yourself a fusion of multiple personalities to appease society (and your family and friends), you’re not special. In order to be special, you have to be willing to be yourself.

What’s wrong with being yourself? Nothing!

Muster the courage to handle your funk and you will live a better, freer, and happier life.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Check Your Attitude

One thing you need to make sure you always evaluate throughout each day is your attitude.  Always make an effort to not let your attitude dominate you—you should dominate it.  After all, it’s your attitude.  When you commit yourself to having a positive attitude, this will help you to avoid experiencing so many “bad days” and “bad moods.”  You can resolve within yourself that you’re not going to allow your attitude to cause people to look unfavorably on you.  Of course, people are going to judge you regardless of the type of attitude you have, but you have to admit that a repulsive attitude is certainly going to trigger pejorative critiques of you.

When you’re not the master of your attitude, this can affect your decision making.  If you have a negative attitude, this can result in you making decisions that can generate undesired outcomes.  For example, when you give the things you’re going through the power to control your attitude, and then your negative attitude results in you treating those who really love you wrong, your unappealing attitude can cause those individuals to steer away from you because of their fear of being hurt again.  Now, imagine how differently those who don’t really love you will respond to your unflattering attitude.

Mastering your attitude is a matter of self-control.  You have to be in control of yourself in order to be in control of your attitude.  When you find it challenging to control your attitude, then this reality should inform you that you have a number of things in your life that have spiraled out of control.  You must immediately work to gain control of those things.  It may not be best to try to work on getting the problematic things together in your life that are impacting your attitude alone.  You may want to seek professional counseling and/or the support of those who really love you.

If there are things from your past that continue to keep you from having a good attitude, then you need to seek professional counseling and/or support from those who love you to defeat those things in your past deleterious to your attitude.  It certainly will not hurt for you to ameliorate your spiritual life by beginning a personal relationship with God or becoming more dedicated to your extant personal relationship with God.

Your attitude reflects your character.  If you have poor character, you’re going to have a poor attitude.  For those with good character, the type of attitude you have can reveal some things you need to work on that could cause people to perceive you as not having good character.

Keeping our attitude in check should become one of our fundamental priorities each day.

When a person has been supporting and doing things for you for years, don’t let your damaging attitude communicate to him or her that you’re ungrateful for the things he or she has done.

A poor attitude can develop from immaturity.  If you’re struggling with a poor attitude, therefore, it may be a sign that you need to devote more effort to maturing.  You’re not always going to get your way—true adults understand this reality.

The reason why it’s vital for all us to check our attitude throughout each day is conditions and people may influence us to develop an unbecoming attitude, even for a short period of time.  We have to, therefore, be ready to exercise full control over our attitude, especially when anger-inducing people and circumstances emerge.

Have you checked your attitude today?

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Too Wired?

Although all of the fascinating marvels of technology have us often spellbound, we need to take some time to reflect critically about how much mental energy we consume while using sundry technologies.  Many people say that they take breaks from their work by playing with their fancy cell phones and logging on to Facebook, but they really don’t think about how they are not giving their minds a chance to rest.  With such a wide range of technologies available to us in the postmodern epoch, we need to give ourselves meaningful breaks away from these technologies each day.

Some people find it difficult to go ten minutes without looking at using their cell phones.  While you may say that it’s not a big deal to spend a significant amount of time using various technological devices, this can begin to take a toll on your health over time.  Whether you realize it or not, the human brain needs rest.  Even when many people are sleeping and about to go to sleep, they have their televisions on and/or have laptops in bed with them.

Are you ever unplugged from technology for a meaningful period of time to rest your brain?

Many people will come home from a strenuous day of work to sign on to their Facebook and Twitter pages, but they do not think about how much mental energy they are investing in their activities on Facebook and Twitter.  With all of the things that you do and can do on Facebook and Twitter, you can add additional stress to your brain by staying on social media sites for a long period of time each day after you end your work day.

Don’t allow our intriguing technologies to amplify the stress you already have.  Of course, you may think that Facebook and Twitter are social media sites that do not have any stress attached to them.  However, there is often so much drama on Facebook and Twitter and things that can upset you on those sites that you will find that you are even more stressed after logging on them than when you left work.

Take a moment to think about whether or not you waste too much time using various technologies each day.  Is your cell phone so interesting that it causes you to neglect your responsibilities?  It’s really not good for your health to have your cell phone up to your ear for long periods of time each day.  Consider taking a break from some technological devices you engage with for a day and see if you are able to manage without these devices.

While social media sites have become widely popular, many people employ these sites to create false identities and to start unwarranted wars with other people.  When you feel like those are the primary reasons you’re using technology, then it’s time for you to step away from technology for at least a short period of time and refocus your energy.  You have to think about how trying to maintain false identities and fight wars through social media sites is not good for your health over time.

Are you too connected to technology?

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Take Some Risks

At some point in your life, you have to take some risks.  It is important to understand that we are all going to experience failure—it’s an inevitable and valuable dimension of life.  Your focus should not be on failure but on the lessons learned from failure.  One cannot allow his or her mind to become so consumed with a fear of failure that he or she never is unwilling to muster the courage to take a risk.  In no way am I advocating for you to take risks each day.  I am, however, encouraging you to be willing to step out of your comfort zone from time to time and have an openness to try something new, try something that you cannot be certain is going to turn out to be successful.

If you want to move to the next level of success in your life, then you cannot simply sit around and allow doubt to dominate your psyche.  You will not be able to experience the fullness of life by simply playing it safe.  Life has much more to offer you when experience some things you would not normally do.  Many people miss out on life-changing opportunities because they approach most things from “I cannot do it” and “it won’t work” mindsets.  You will never be able to be as successful as you can be when you approach most things with little faith.  When you give yourself more opportunities to experience success, even if you fail in the process, you increase your confidence in your ability to execute tasks successfully; that is, you increase your self-efficacy.

We can all learn from the examples that entrepreneurs provide us each day.  Entrepreneurs take risks every day—they have to take them.  All of our great national and international corporations started from a strong belief in the power of the entrepreneurial spirit.  Prominent national and international corporations were founded by individuals who had enough courage to not allow a fear of failure to stop them from walking into what is possible.  Many lesser known small business owners have just as much or more faith in themselves to take risks than the more well-known entrepreneurs that founded major corporations.  These people understand that having a successful business in a capitalist system requires you to take some risks.  If you are to be truly successful in a capitalist system, you are going to have to realize that from time to time you must take risks.

Even if you characterize yourself as “not a risk-taker,” don’t allow labels to prevent you from making moves that can significantly benefit you and your family.  We often use labels as vehicles for hiding our fear of failure.  As we strive to grow into more successful and wiser people, we have to confront our fear of failure more directly.  Having a strong fear of failure can cause you to coast through life instead of truly experiencing it.

I am going to be honest with you and tell you that confronting your fear of failure can be quite unsettling.  When you begin to wrestle critically with your fear of failure, you begin to understand some ugly truths about yourself that you would rather bury than bring them to the surface to work to improve them.  Don’t be afraid of your ugly truths—work to ameliorate the ugly truths that emerge from your critical self-examination of your fear of failure.  As long as you continue to live, you are going to fail.  Therefore, you should not allow a fear of failure to hinder you from experiencing the success you can enjoy in life.  Muster the courage to be the best you can be.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Don’t Be a Leech

You should not always have your hands stuck out begging. At some point, you should have something to offer to someone else. When people give to you, learn how to give back to them. People will start to hate seeing you come around them because they know you will have something that you want them to do for you. Do you have people in your life who only call, email, text, and/or visit you when they want something from you and you never hear from them until they want something? Today, I want to let you know they are leeches. If you continue to feed leeches, they will zap all of the blood out of you. You may not understand what’s going on with how you feel,  why things are not going right in your life, why it seems that you don’t have enough time in the day, and/or why you are not able to meet your daily responsibilities. You need to check for leeches in your life. Leeches could be the very reason you are not progressing, improving, and/or feeling the way that you long to feel.

Don’t be so compassionate that you allow people to crumble your foundation. You have to be wise in your giving. Always examine your giving and make sure that you are giving to the right people and places. You are not the savior of the world, so don’t attempt to help too many people because you will be denying yourself from the great things that you need to enjoy for yourself. Helping too many people on your own is simply not healthy and not wise. You will physically, mentally, and emotionally weigh yourself down with stress when you are trying to help everyone. When you need some help, watch how many of those people who you helped will be there for you.

People will hang around you and contact you just to get benefits from you. Now, this can be expected from the complete strangers you may help or the random people you meet, but it’s those friends and family members you have to be more alert about being leeches. Leeches are not always easy to detect. We allow friends and family members to occupy certain spaces in our life that we don’t allow others to occupy. This is the reason why we have to have on more protective clothing when we are around our friends and family—they could be the greatest leeches we have on us. If you are always thoroughly examining yourself, then you will know if your friends and family members are leeches.

We often make ourselves too vulnerable to people who we believe love us and have our best interest in mind. You need to understand that you need to constantly assess those who you make yourself vulnerable to in some way. It can be the venomous people around you who are killing you and pushing you off of your road to greatness. The people who you love and trust can be the very people who are simply using you for what they can get from you. You cannot sit there and allow folks to suck all of the blood out of you and not have enough left for yourself.

I know that it might be difficult to think about your loved ones being leeches, but you have to be willing to examine them as potential leeches. Guard yourself in wise ways. Build necessary walls with certain people in your life. We hear a significant amount of discourse about tearing down walls, but there needs to be more discussion about building necessary walls. Walls exist for a purpose: to make sure that not just anyone can enter.

Beware of the leeches out there—they might be some people you least expect! If you are consciously a leech, stop being one today!

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Look Inward Before You Look Outward

We cannot be a help to others until we are a help to ourselves first. Far too often, broken people who need healing themselves are the main ones who like to criticize others and like to appear like they exude strength—when it’s really their weakness that radiates brightest. You cannot lead until you lead within yourself first. You cannot criticize until you have engaged in a comprehensive self-critique first. Never try to seem like you have made it to the mountaintop on your own, especially when you know that your ride to the mountaintop has been made possible by those who have assisted you.

Your critiques of others need to come from a spirit of compassion, while still maintaining a commitment to truth. Always make sure that what you have to say is guided by a desire to promote uplift. I am not contending that uplift has to always come from the most polite words and actions—uplift does not always come from polite words and actions—but your words and actions should have the purpose of moving people upward.

Don’t overlook your weaknesses and flaws when you are critiquing others. Your weaknesses and flaws can be the very sources of the problem with how you are critiquing others.

Guard the way that you perceive others with great care. The way you perceive others can simply be a product of how you view yourself. People are different so you have to understand that you cannot impose your values, paradigms, and expectations for yourself on others. This is what makes the world such a beauty place to live. We all do things and view things differently—We are simply different! Although we are all different in many ways, we are all united by the reality that we are human. We must never underestimate the power of what being human can do for us and the limitations of what being human means.

I’m all for people judging others—have at it! I just want people to make sure that they have engaged in close examinations of themselves first. When you have an honest evaluation of yourself first, you will offer yourself an opportunity to see why you say the things you say to others, why you view people the way you do, why you question them the way you, and why you think what they are doing is wrong or right.

Spend some time with yourself. Learn yourself more. Learn how you might have to move beyond the limitations of yourself to understand others and to understand why they don’t do and say the things you do. Take a moment to rise above what you would have them to do and say and embrace the value of what it is they do and say.

The only way that you are going to get some of those inner problems and demons that you battle is to allow yourself to undergo a serious comprehensive self-critique. Always ground your serious self-critiques in truth. Be willing to acknowledge and embrace the lessons that you learn from self-critiques that are truly grounded in truth.

Love yourself for who you are. If other people don’t love you for simply who you are, then get away from them because they don’t matter.

Even though you don’t have to share everything with everybody to be a real person and an open book, I recommend that you be more transparent with people about why you are revealing what you do disclose to them. The reason why I recommend this is it helps clear thinking people to comprehend that there could be a vital personal reason involving your safety that is responsible for why you don’t divulge everything down to the most microscopic detail to them.

When we look inward first and not outward first, then we will begin to gain a better understanding about why things may appear the way they do. Inward evaluations bring us to an understanding of physical, social, and emotional realities that we never might have considered and discovered without true and comprehensive self-examinations.

By looking within before you look outward, you might just find what you have been missing all of your life. You might just find the answers to what you have been searching for all this time. You might even begin to muster the courage to simply be yourself.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison