One of my most profound experiences this year was when I got to be roommates with a monk. He had been hired by Tony Robbins to work with his high-end clients to achieve greater peace and personal power. The monk had seen it all – as an observer and advisor, the human conditioning that enslaves us. And the path to achieving our desires and most of all happiness.

When I asked him to name something that keeps us afraid and holds us back from happiness, he said one word: Acceptance.

As the year comes to an end, the monk’s advice “to dive in”, to feel it all – the good and bad— really resonate in my mind.

Because only when we truly embrace what we feel does the energy we hold onto have the ability to transform. Unfortunately, there’s usually resistance.

Most of us don’t want to go there, go to those dark places inside. In the midst of the current positive thinking trend (AKA, the “self help” era), we’ve made it taboo to feel any less than stellar, and to be open about feeling bad. Especially if you’re the face of our business, it’s not cool to have doubts.

So most of us “fake it”, because showing our humanness when we’re not feeling “our brilliance, not shining, owning and promoting it” isn’t cool.You’ve heard people telling you to be more confident, be bolder, charge more, stand in your power… The mantras go on and on…

But, it takes work and time to build real confidence and self-esteem. Personal integrity and taking responsibility is the only path to fulfilling yourself.

In our values research on Generation Y, we found that social media has been giving people an inferiority complex.

Everyone can filter what they say and how they show up on social media. And it all gives people a certain “celebrity status” that makes them seem great, powerful and popular.

The effects of this personal celebrity status are sad. Now, Generation Y is the looniest generation with the highest rates of depression.

It’s ok to not feel on top of the world all the time – to acknowledge it, to name it, to be vulnerable, especially when the world is telling you it’s not ok to struggle. Real confidence is having the courage to express your real self when the world around you is bursting with surface confidence.

Ironically, that vulnerability is what makes someone truly extraordinary and likable (to your best clients, too) – the ability to love every part of yourself enough to express even the parts that need to be nurtured. When marketing and media make you feel like you’re so far from where you need to be (when, in reality, you are closer than you think), it’s important to embrace where you are right now. The path is always longer and more important than the destination.

Nothing is ever wasted: How to get the most out of every experience

1) The Good: Not only is it important to celebrate your accomplishments yet be specific and name the qualities that are different and better than your past self.

  • What were the “bigger” qualities that you stepped into and what triggered you to take that step. Relish these specific qualities and they will expand.
  • What did you let go of? Give yourself lots of pats on the back for that change. Change is hard because loss is hard. Say thank you for all the growth the change provided you and say good-bye.

2) The Bad: You’ve heard the saying “Perception is everything.” The things you perceive as “bad” have the potential to be the greatest good. Here’s how:

  • Consider the lessons you learned from “bad” experiences. The experience caused you some pain, right? Get pissed off and put that pain to good use. Make sure it doesn’t happen again by getting clear about the exact lesson you can learn. And think about how you’ll overcome a similar pain in the future.
  • Did you give yourself the opportunity to truly experience what you felt? The reason why “bad” things seem to repeat themselves is because we often don’t accept, nurture, and love all our feelings. Instead, we distract ourselves so we don’t think about it and/or we beat ourselves up about it. Now’s your chance to revel in whatever feelings you’ve left unfelt. Give yourself permission to feel, so that you can let go and become stronger.

3) The Ugly: Have you ever seen something so ugly that it becomes attractive? The law of polarity tells us that everything in the universe has its opposite. You have a right and left side to your body, a front and back. Every up has a down and every down has an up. In the physical world, hot is a degree of cold, in the emotional world, hate is only a fine line away from love. Every situation just is.

That’s why when you considered something bad or ugly in your life, the polar opposite of it that is good and beautiful. It’s not just positive thinking, it’s a scientific fact. When you shift your perspective and change the way you see things, you will find that truth and that beauty.

  • Work your way around to the other side. Just like seeing the good lesson in a bad experience, you can see the beautiful outcome of something that seemed negative.

For example, lately, in Vancouver, there has been a philanthropist on the streets, dressed as a homeless person. Just like a homeless person, he asks passers-by for money and food. But, when people stop and help him, he asks them what they truly want and gives them what they desire.

This philanthropist has taken how we see homelessness and made it a beautiful expression of humanity – our desire to be kind and want others to be happy.

Most of the time, you can’t change the situation you’re already in. But, you can change the perspective you see it in. This doesn’t mean that you have to accept the situation as positive all the time and ignore negative feelings. It means you can look at your negative feelings as a signal for where you can change. These experiences are signposts and can be your greatest blessings.

The deeper you dive into an uncomfortable experience, the closer you will get to solving it and finding the light at the end of the tunnel.

  • Can you perceive the situation from a different angle? After diving in deep with questions, maybe you’ll be able to see another side of your “bad” experience. Focus on the other side and let it guide you to the prettier part of the experience.

The good, the bad, and the ugly are all just relative perceptions. When you fight them, you end up stuck and uncertain. But, when you embrace your feelings—good or bad—you’ll see things more clearly and be able to solve even the ugliest situations.

Hope you enjoyed this post and have a blessed weekend! And don’t forget to download your complimentary worksheet to make the most out of 2013.