Primary Versus Secondary Emotions


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You may have heard about (or have first hand experienced) emotions in various intensities. 

Say you’re experiencing the emotion of anger. That anger can look differently in different settings and circumstances. When a cashier takes an incredibly long time to scam your items you may feel a mild version of anger like irritation (because you have places to go and things to do). In another instant, say you discovered your significant other cheating on you with one of your closest friends you may experience a strong emotion of anger like rage. 

But did you know that emotions come in different levels with different motives and different trigger points? In this blog we’ll be discussing primary and secondary emotions and how they influence our day to day lives. 

Primary emotions are our first initial reaction. Let’s say that a friend of yours cancelled going to a party with you at the last minute, what would your first reaction be? You may feel hurt, sad, lonely or confused. Primary emotions are the vulnerable emotions that we feel; they center around what our child-self would experience. Secondary emotions, on the other hand, are the emotions that are much more defensive in nature. Emotions like anger, envy and jealousy are a few examples of it. In this case, you may feel anger towards the friend because you were looking forward to going to the event and don’t feel like your time is respected.

Unfortunately, unlike the elaboration above, a great deal of the time we are unaware of our primary emotions and are only consciously aware of our secondary emotions; the anger that covers up feelings of hurt, the embarrassment overpowering our sadness, or the anxiety masking a much deeper fear.

Our secondary emotions, therefore, are in response to our resistance of feeling our vulnerable emotions. This is a protective mechanism designed to keep us free from pain (because pain is uncomfortable). If you’ve ever responded in the heat of a secondary emotion, like anger, you may have ended up with maladaptive outcomes. However, despite that it’s important to not rule out these feelings because their role is to let us know when something isn’t right. An easy way to spot a secondary emotion, like anger,  is by noticing if it’s action oriented. These emotions make us want to get into fist fights, destroy property or create a desire to ruin a person’s reputation. If you also feel driven to act without any sense of relief that too is a great indicator of a secondary emotion.

Luckily, before we take any action desired by our secondary emotions we can develop a habit of slowing down our impulses by noticing our primary emotions and unmet needs. These emotions can include feeling hurt, unwanted, or ashamed and can showcase in the body as a vulnerable feeling washing over you.

Through this identification process of our feelings and unmet needs we enable ourselves to practice good emotional habits by communicating our needs to others and learning how to meet them ourselves.

Where Do Primary Emotions Come From?

Primary emotions can either stem from a present moment or from the past. In psychology this is known as adaptive and maladaptive emotions. 

Maladaptive emotions can be sparked in the present moment but are tied to the way we felt earlier in life. For instance, a girl that grew up in an environment where everyone told her she’s incapable will feel triggered by someone saying, “You can’t do it.” These feelings evoke a lot of shame but before the vulnerable emotion can be recognized she will be swept away with feelings of resentment, anger, and defensiveness. As a result, she begins to participate in self defeating behaviours such as holding herself back and pushing away loved ones. 

Adaptive emotions, on the other hand, are closely tied to the present moment. For instance, a black man that is racially profiled may feel saddened and hurt for not being given the same opportunities as his fellow white counterparts. He too may be swept away with anger for the unfair treatment. 

Luckily, with conscious awareness over our emotional states we can respond to our life situations more strategically and emphatically. 

Emotional Triggers and You.


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Have you ever found yourself saying… I’m getting triggered or I feel so triggered? You may have felt emotionally put off after seeing an old high school friend that’s mighty successful now, a house that resembled your childhood home or an opinion about climate change that you couldn’t agree with less. An emotion you may have felt during this trigger resembled an intense sudden flooding of anger, fear, shame or sadness which led your body to react in a respective manner; either an intense constriction in your chest and throat was felt (fear), the sudden urge to run away (fear/shame) was experienced or your fists clenched firmly and your face flushed red (anger) when you were mistreated or didn’t get what you want. 

When I asked our awesome community of 27K+ on Instagram about what triggered them I got a variety of responses. Triggers ranged from seeing people from high school, having fake gossips being spread around, having statements like, “You need to listen better,” said to them, socializing in large groups, smell of cannabis, hearing news about suicide, loud noises, the colour yellow and having the toilet seat up. 

Each circumstance described above may not have much in common but the one thing that does bind them together is that they all can be a trigger for someone. But what exactly is a trigger? What does it really mean and where does it come from?

Emotional triggers are people, words, opinions, situations or environmental circumstances that can provoke an excessive emotional reaction within us. They commonly evoke the emotions of anger, fear, shame or sadness leading us to act from a place of survival. Because our subconscious mind is in full swing we tend to act in disappropriate ways to protect ourselves. In this blog, we will be discussing the three common sources of emotional triggers and how to notice and identify them within yourself. 

The three common sources of triggers are… 

(1) opposing beliefs and values

(2) PTSD or CPTSD 

(3) ego preservation

  1. Opposing Beliefs and Values

    When we’re strongly attached to a belief we may find it difficult to accept or even tolerate an opposing belief. This is one of the reasons why religion and politics are such touchy subjects because it calls us to question the truth and legitimacy of what we believe in so dearly. You may ask, but isn’t knowing who you are and what you believe in important? It sure is, as a matter of a fact waking up every morning without having beliefs and values would be a scary world to live in (so having them is important). The key to good emotional well-being, however, is in recognizing how attached we are to our beliefs. Are we capable of understanding that what we believe in may not be the ultimate truth but a combination of cultural, personal and genetic influences. Are we capable at accepting and recognizing that what is true for us and what works for us may not be the same for others. The less attachment we have over what is right and wrong, true or untrue the less triggered we become when someone has a differing opinion.

  2. PTSD or CPTSD

    Getting triggered is tracing back to an event that had a post traumatic origin. A PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) or CPTSD (Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) flashback can be triggered by an object, person, place, touch or smell where the victim is likely to respond with an immense amount of fear and panic. The difference between PTSD and CPTSD is that PTSD is a single traumatic event like a sexual assault and CPTSD is a series of traumatic events like emotional, physcial or sexual abuse. A sexual assault victim may experience a trigger when she sees men with beards because her perpetrator had a beard. An adult man who was emotionally abused by his mother in childhood may be triggered when he sees a woman that portrays similar characteristics of behaviour. Someone who was outcasted as a child may be triggered by seeing people having fun.

  3. Ego Preservation

    The ego is a sense of self that we carry around. It’s an artificial identity we hold on to composed of thoughts, memories, cultural values, assumptions and belief structures designed to help us fit into society. Every living being possesses an ego where its core purpose is to preserve the self through a series of coping mechanisms centred around beliefs, ideals, desires, habits and addictions. All of this effort to run away from the one thing our ego fears the most- it’s own death. When our egos are challenged, provoked or hurt in any shape or form we become triggered and act in maladaptive ways to protect ourselves. We will argue, defame, insult, backstab, sabotage, assault and even murder (in severe cases) people who pose a threat to our ego’s survival. Luckily, through inner work like shadow work and self compassion we have the ability to liberate ourselves from the hands of our ego. 

Recognizing a Trigger 


We all have a vague idea of what triggers us but may have a weak understanding of the dynamics behind our triggers. In this part of blog we will be looking into a step-by-step guide on how to notice and become more aware of how our triggers impact our being and behaviours.

Take a moment to think about a recent event where you felt uncontrollable anger or anxiety. Once you’ve selected the event proceed on with the guide.

  1. Pay attention to your body reactions.

    Our memory systems may be flawed but our bodies tell the full story. In every moment of the day our body is letting us know whether something is good for us or whether there is something to be concerned about. Therefore, it is an important source of information. It also is a great tool used for grounding ourselves; when we’re stuck in an emotional hijack the only thing we really have control over is our bodies therefore understanding what our bodies are going through is key to managing our triggers.

    Are you experiencing… 
    1. palpitations/ racing heart
    2. Choking feeling
    3. A constriction in the chest
    4. Hot flashes
    5. Chills
    6. Dizziness
    7. Nausea
    8. Sweating
  2. If you could label the emotion, what would it be?

    Labelling emotions allow us to become less ambiguous about our internal experiences. When we label emotions we enable ourselves to see emotions just as that – emotions. No longer do we attach it to a state of being but rather see it as a visitor.

    If I could label the emotion it would be ___________.
    1. Hatred
    2. Fear
    3. Terror
    4. Grief
    5. Anger
    6. Disgust
    7. Shame
    8. Melancholy 
  3. Notice the thoughts in your mind. Are they calm and observant or are they drastic and polarized? Polarized thoughts are thoughts that centre around labelling things as right or wrong, good or bad, holy or evil, and woke or for the weak (a concept seen so prevalently on social media these days). What story is being played over and over in your mind (you may come to observe that there is one main message being replayed in many different scenarios)?

    Don’t try to control these thoughts, simply observe them.
  4. Who or what triggered the emotion? Was it an object, a type of person, an opinion, a smell, a colour or a viewpoint that triggered the emotional reaction? Sometimes you may come to label the trigger easily (like oh, yeah it was that comment) but other times the triggers can be a series of complex stimuli. Take a moment to reflect upon this.
  5. What happened before the trigger happened? Sometimes there are specific prerequisites that trigger us. For example having a stressful day at work, hearing teenagers arguing near a convenience store, waking up on the wrong side of the bed, or going to a shopping mall can put us over the edge; virtually anything can set the stage for a future trigger. Becoming aware of the effects of these setups can help us be more prepared for future events; enabling us to establish healthy coping mechanisms when triggers hit.
  6. What need isn’t being met? Every conflict we find ourselves in is because of an unmet need. This way of thinking can be revolutionizing because we no longer place the blame on self or onto others but instead recognize that a need isn’t being met. This thought process is a lot less ego driven and more solutions and fairness driven. When we acknowledge the needs that aren’t being met within us we have a much greater capability to communicate these needs to others and to find ways to fulfill them within ourselves. Take a moment to reflect upon the list below. What need isn’t being met?
    1. Acceptance
    2. Autonomy
    3. Attention
    4. Love
    5. Safety 
    6. Fun
    7. Respect
    8. Consistency
    9. Being liked
    10. Being needed
    11. To see and be seen
    12. To understand and be understood
    13. Being right
    14. Being valued
    15. Being in control 
    16. Being treated fairly 

That’s a wrap on the step-by-step guide on how to identify triggers. If you’d be interested in learning how to manage triggers with greater effectiveness and kindness take our ‘Emotional Intelligence for Beginners’ Course. For more information click here.

I feel so ashamed…


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My singing performance didn’t go as well as I hoped. I had worked tirelessly, rehearsing for weeks to perfect the annunciations, tone and swag of the song but it had seemed that my anxiety got the best of me. Because my worth was so wrapped around my performance, I felt like a failure. To add on top of that, my mother tossed in a statement, “See, I told you can’t make this into a career. You’re not good enough.” That statement cut me like a knife since I was incredibly passionate about music and I did have the capacity to do a good job in it. Moreover, it was my very own MOM who said that (the one who’s ‘supposed’ to be unconditional with love).

My body posture slumped in defeat and I felt like a failure. The emotion I was experiencing was the feeling of shame. Let’s dive into the logistics. Shame is a self conscious emotion that serves to remind us of an inadequacy within – forcing our body to shut down and avoid taking any social risks. The purpose of doing so is to help us stay survive. 

The feeling of shame can be triggered in several ways. It’s through feelings of inadequacy, unworthiness, dishonour, regret, and disconnectedness.  Let’s break those down.

Feelings of inadequacy and unworthiness are closely tied to how we felt earlier in life. The way that our parents/ environment treated us played a role in defining our belief systems which impacted the assumption of how we think we deserve to be treated, what we’re capable of, and how we perceive ourselves. A child that was taught that they’re incapable or unworthy is likely to carry that belief into adulthood. 

Dishonour arises when we feel we failed to live up to cultural or personal expectations. For instance, in many cultures there is a great deal of shame associated with marrying a person outside of a religion. This can also be closely associated with race, economic and social status. This emotion is very closely bonded with the emotion of betrayal. Social rejection is incredibly painful and even deadly at times which is why shame helps us remind us of that.

Regret arises when we made a mistake in a relationship or when we missed a great opportunity. Our lack of acceptance to our human nature provokes us to participate in self destructive behaviours where through rumination hopes to emphasise to avoid a mistake like that again. 

Lastly, the feeling of disconnection hopes to remind us of how terrible it is to be ALONE. If we feel disconnected amongst a group of people we often blame our character for being rejected; failing to see that other factors were at play. Shame directs us towards conformity enabling people pleasing and peer pressure to take its course.

Shame can be triggered by another person or by our own internal citic. The emotion of shame makes us believe that our character is flawed or bad which only motivates us to hide or try to save face. Unfortunately, the more we try to run away from this feeling, the more likely we are to withdraw within ourselves and fall into an addiction.  

Shame is often confused with the emotion of guilt, but are VERY DIFFERENT. Guilt is when we don’t feel good about an action we made. For example, you make a joke at the expense of your friend’s insecurity and your friend turns beet red and is clearly embarrassed, ashamed and upset at you. You feel bad because you care about your friend and her well-being. Shame, on the other hand, has a great emphasis on a character flaw. It cannot see the difference between ‘bad behaviour’ and ‘bad self’. 

Shame can be a messy emotion. Luckily with conscious effort we can come to acknowledge its purpose with compassion and find constructive ways to manage it. 

The 6 Life Changing Books That Influenced My Life And May Influence Yours


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Knowledge is power. Self education is the key. These 2 soundbites are tossed around in every educational medium we encounter. Not to sound redundant, but IT’S TRUE.

From the 100 books I’ve read over the past 4 years on self development, these 6 have resonated significantly with me.
They have helped me identify and deal with my fears, build my self-awareness, taught me effective habits and how I could visualize and create a trajectory for the life I always wanted. Sounds compelling, right? So enough of this intro, let’s explore each one of them.
  1. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
This book earns the ground-shaking title as the business bible. Napoleon Hill, a great business guru and a student to the great Dale Carnegie, composed one of the most compelling steps to acquiring riches through the notion of visualization and taking actionable steps to your desires and goals. It is truly a philosophical, psychological and immensely strategic book- I would highly recommend reading this book to any aspiring entrepreneur, business student, or wealth seeker.
Fav Quote:
When defeat comes, accept it as a signal that your plans are not sound, rebuild those plans, and set sail once more toward your coveted goal.”

2. Creative Visualization by Shakti Gawain

Have you ever wanted something in your life so badly, that you ended up getting it? You placed all your intentions, desires to that specific thing and through considerable action it finally came true?
This book taught me how to start using visualization to create the outcomes that I wanted not just in one facet of my life, but in all. Gawain explores the importance of intention, affirmations and meditation to create the life that you’ve always wanted. It’s like your meddling with your subconscious. 
Fav Quote:
We always attract into our lives whatever we think about most, believe most strongly, expect on the deepest level, and imagine most vividly.
― Shakti GawainCreative Visualization: Use the Power of Your Imagination to Create What You Want in Your Life
          3. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

If you want to become a master communicator, welcome aboard. This book is a classic; first published in 1936, it’s content remains evergreen. It’ll teach you how to deal with people in any given situation and how you can grow your friendships and relationships to heights you would have never dreamed of.As a individual that was terrible at communicating- this book has helped me grow my relations to thriving ones (aka helped me find mentors, build industry friends, and helped in my romantic relations.)

Fav Quote:
You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”
― Dale CarnegieHow to Win Friends and Influence People
            4. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
The international best selling author, Elizabeth Gilbert, for, “Eat, Pray, Love,” wrote a breathtaking book about creative living beyond fear. The 3 major lessons I learned frok this book were…
1.Let your fears coexist with your passions.
2.Give yourself permission to create.
3.Keep your day job to fuel your creative affair.
Living a creative life beyond fear, is one of the most empowering experiences. Being creative and allowing yourself to make mistakes is what ultimately fuels innovation and allows one to make something wonderful in this world- aka magic.
Gilbert’s philosophy is truly a work of art- would recommend -10 out of 10.
Fav Quote:
“The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them.”
― Elizabeth GilbertBig Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear
          5. Rejection Proof: The 100 DAYS of Rejection by Jia Jiang
This book is an easy read and is highly entertaining. The author, Jia Jiang, had struggled considerably with his fear of social rejection. He decided to experiment with a psychological concept known as, “rejection therapy,” where he would purposefully embed odd behaviors around strangers to get rejected. A classic scenario would look like this, “Excuse me, could I borrow a hundred dollars?”
With time, he began to realize that the fear of rejection that we have rooted so firmly in our minds is a mere precaution given off by our ancestors; where in the past it played as a major survival mechanism. In today’s day and age, however, our fear of rejection stops us from living the most fulfilling life (especially when such a threat no longer exists).
This book ultimately inspired me to start my own practice of rejection therapy and it changed my life trajectory for the better.
Fav Quote:
Rejection is just an opinion, remember? It reflects them more than me, right?”
― Jia JiangRejection Proof: How I Beat Fear and Became Invincible Through 100 Days of Rejection
             6. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
This book is a game changer. Stephen Covey, the New York Times best selling author, comes to discuss the power that habits have over us and how one can embed effective habits into their life to create a more productive and happier you.
If you’re in the habit of severe procrastination- your dream business may never kick-start. If you’re highly reactive, your friendships and relationships may be suffering considerably (which means your mental health, suffers too). If you struggle with any of these (and believe me everyone does) I would highly recommend to read this book; where your ultimate goal would be to apply them thoroughly.
I have an entire video series on, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens,”- due check it out if you want to start learning now.

Have FOMO? You May Be Missing Out On Psychology’s New Trend- The Act of Self Acceptance


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Did you know that the act of self-acceptance is the single most important ingredient when it comes to building your self-esteem? Matter of a fact, it’s impossible to build self-esteem without it.

If you’re like me, you may view self-acceptance as a weakness (after all you’re accepting the worst parts of you, aren’t you?). I quickly came to realize this misconception in my thinking, when I stumbled into a ground shaking psychological book called, “The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem,” written by Nathaniel Branden. He quickly came to clarify self-acceptance by re-defining it’s meaning in a new definition while providing insights on what self-acceptance does to the human mind. I hope to discuss this evidence in this blog by sharing with you a new interpretation of the 3 levels of self-acceptance that is prescribed to human nature. Additionally, I’ll come to help you apply this into your own life. Ready? Let’s get started.

So, what is self-acceptance? Self-acceptance is the agreement to be in a compassionate and friendly relationship to self. Sounds great, doesn’t it? It can be hard to do, however, if you were taught from early childhood not to trust your instincts, your opinions, or your emotions. Not to mention, our natural gravitation to negativity.

Viewing the hierarchy of self-acceptance, we can quickly come to identify where we as individuals stand on the relationship with self. The first level is the thought of ‘being on my own side.’ This is the most primitive innate thought of each individual. It’s a natural egotism that is a birthright to every human being. This is the time when you may have gone through a rather toxic abusive relationship where abuse and humiliation were present and you finally decided to stand up for yourself through the last outcry of, “NO!” This is ultimately the voice of our life-force.

The second level is known as ‘the willingness to experience.’ This is the state of mind where we accept what we think we think, what we feel we feel, desire what we desire, have done what we have done, and are who we are. We allow ourselves to be, think, and feel openly; accepting ourselves entirely as we are; whether we like certain features or not. If one refuses to accept their own body, emotions, thoughts, actions or dreams, one denies their own existence and describes oneself as an alien, “not me”, ultimately diffusing personal responsibility. As a result of this, this person is now incapable to overcome a fear in which they possess since they deny their own reality. You and I, cannot deal with a problem if we will not admit that it exists; for you cannot change traits in which you do not possess. You cannot forgive yourself for an action you do not acknowledge. See the pattern?

The third level of self-acceptance is carrying ‘compassion to self’- being your own ultimate friend. With this type of relationship to self, one displays respect and compassion to oneself; where your higher self works collaboratively with you to grow to excellence. This is the golden state to be in; where forces of productivity, love, and respect are present.

The question lies to, what level are you sitting at? And if it’s anything below three, how can you apply the act of self-acceptance into your own life?

First off, you don’t have to like your current situation, you merely need to accept it. I got goosebumps when I first heard this; you mean I don’t have to like my anxiety, my past self, my behaviours, my thoughts, these destabilizing emotions? I simply need to accept them? Yes, since if you can’t accept yourself in your worst state, you’ll never be able to accept yourself in the best state.

Secondly, emotions and thoughts are nor good or bad, they just are. Society, especially religious groups, like to shame individuals for feeling in certain ways or thinking differently. The truth is that if we do not acknowledge a certain thought or feeling and fail to validate it, we are prone to become passive aggressive, or live in denial (a state of frozenness); when all of this could have been avoided if self validation occurred where one could have acted accordingly. After all, actions matter most.

Great! I think the time has come for you to give self-acceptance a shot; it’s time to place it into action. Try it today, by accepting something you’ve been resisting for a while now. You know what that something it is… You’ll be amazed at what it will do for you within a month’s time.

 

What You Didn’t Know About Self-Esteem…


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“The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself.”

Michel de Montaigne, The Complete Essays

Self-esteem is like a muscle. If you understand the mechanisms of growing and maintaining muscle tone, you’ll get results. Just like exercising, providing the proper proteins, and resting are crucial for muscle growth, there are 6 pillars or elements to developing a healthy self-esteem.

Before we can initially dive into these pillars, we first need to understand the fundamentals. The highlight being – what is self-esteem???

Self-esteem, in it’s full realization, is the experience that we are appropriate to life and to the requirements of life. In basic terms, you feel confident that you are worthy to be alive and feel capable to deal with any situation that life tosses at you.

To dive into a more technical realm however, psychology comes to explain self esteem as the composition of these two elements (both crucial to the existence of self-esteem).

  1. Self-Efficacy: confidence in our ability to think, confidence in our ability to cope with the basic challenges of life
  2. Self-Worth: Confidence in our right to be successful and happy, the feeling of being worthy, deserving, entitled to assert our needs and wants, achieve our values, and enjoy the fruits of our efforts

If that wasn’t revelational in it’s own right, what’s even more stunning is the fact that self esteem has an impact on every aspect of our existence; from the professional to the social to the personal dimensions of life. It’s how we operate in the workforce or at school, to how we deal with people, how high we’re likely to rise, how much we’re likely to achieve, to the personal aspect like who are we going to fall in love with, how do your relations look like and the list goes on.

Now that I’ve pinpointed how important self-esteem is let’s dive into the pillars.

The First Pillar: The Practice of Living Consciously

In virtually every great spiritual and philosophical tradition, there appears to be an idea that most humans walk through life sleepwalking. As a result, the epitome or spiritual goal would be to reach enlightenment (the phenomenon of waking up). This entails seeing the world completely as it is and accepting it accordingly.

As humans we have been provided with an extraordinary choice- that of seeking awareness or not bothering (or actively avoiding it), seeking truth or not bothering, focusing our mind or not bothering.

For example:

“I know I’m not giving my best at work (or school), but I don’t want to think about it.”

“I know I’m phoney and lie about my accomplishments, but…”

This is a perfect example of the diffusion to see reality as it is.

Self-esteem, in clarity, is the reputation we acquire with ourselves. To live consciously means to seek to be aware of everything that bears on our actions, purposes, values, and goals – to the very best of our ability.

The Second Pillar: The Practice of Self-Acceptance

This stage is incredibly crucial; in fact without self acceptance self esteem is impossible.

In order to thrive as an individual one must entail the idea of compassion to self; where one treats self as a friend (versus a foe).

Simply put, the act of self-acceptance is accepting one’s own feelings and thoughts; regardless of the liking. It does not mean we cannot imagine or wish for changes or improvements. It means experiencing, without denial or avoidance, that a fact is a fact. If you persist with this practice, by surrendering yourself to the reality of the situation, you may notice that a feeling of relaxation and a sense of true connection with the self.

The Third Pillar: The Practice of Self-Responsibility

To feel competent to live and be worthy of happiness, one needs to experience a sense of control over their existence. This requires that I am willing to take responsibility over my actions and the attainment of my goals. This means I take responsibility for my life and well-being.

Example: I like to blame my parents for how screwed up my habits and life is. If I were to take responsibility for my life; I’d have to stop blaming my parents and would have to go do something about it.

The Fourth Pillar: The Practice of Self-Assertiveness

This is the belief that one has a right to exist. How easy is it for you to say that statement without defiance or defensiveness? It’s not so easy, is it?

Self-assertiveness means honouring my wants, needs, and values and seeking appropriate forms of expression in reality.

To clarify, self assertion does not mean belligerence or inappropriate aggressiveness; it does not mean pushing to the front of the line or knocking other people over; it does not mean uploading my own rights while being blind or indifferent to everyone else’s. It simply means being able to stand up for myself, to be who I am openly, to treat myself with respect in all human encounters. It means the refusal to fake my person to be liked.

The Fifth Pillar: The Practice of Living Purposefully

To live without purpose is to live at the mercy of chance; the chance event, the chance phone call, the chance encounter- because we have no standard to judge what is or is not worth doing. Our orientation to life is reactive versus proactive. We are drifters.

Goals are what leads us forward – that energize our existence. Whether that’s the goal of studying, of raising a family, of earning a living, of starting a business, solving a scientific problem…

To live purposefully is to live productively, which is a necessity of making ourselves competent to life. Productivity is the act of translating our thoughts into reality, of setting our goals and working for their achievement, of bringing knowledge, goods, or services into existence.

The Sixth Pillar: The Practice of Personal Integrity

As we mature and develop our values and standards (or absorb them from others), the issue of personal integrity becomes of great importance to our personal assessment.

Integrity is the integration of ideals, convictions, standards, beliefs- to behaviour. When our behaviour is congruent with our professed values, when ideas and practice match, we have integrity.

When we behave in ways that conflict with our judgment of what is appropriate, we lose face in our own eyes. We respect ourselves less. If this becomes habitual we trust ourselves less or cease to trust ourselves at all.