By the time she called me, my friend was desperate. As an avid gardener who loved to cultivate delicate, expensive blooms, she usually had no problem keeping her plants healthy and vibrant — but for some reason, she couldn’t keep her favorite flower from withering away. She had tried giving it more sunshine, food, and water, but to no avail.


It was dying, and she didn’t know how to save it.


I asked her to bring the plant for a visit. Once she arrived, I examined its discolored, undersized leaves and drooping stems. I heard her gasp as I began the slow process of stripping the earth away from its roots.


“Is it really that sick?” she asked.


“Sometimes,” I said, my fingers still gently working the too-soft, dark roots free, “the problem can’t be helped from the surface.”


The expensive plant was suffering from an infection in its roots. To fix it, I had to expose the problem to the air and remove the diseased parts before we could re-pot the plant and let it grow.


You can probably guess where I’m going to go with this.  In some ways, we are all like that plant.


Often, the fears and insecurities that prevent us from flourishing have roots that we can’t see on the surface of our lives.  And yet, all of us have beliefs about ourselves that trace back to nearly forgotten rejections, some of them so long past that we’re no longer aware how much a part they still play in our lives today. We might not sing because a childhood choir teacher told us we weren’t very good; we might not let ourselves try at something, because a family member told us we would look foolish in the attempt.


Everyone has endured hurtful criticism at one time or another, whether or not your childhood was a happy one.  Regardless of your past, these negative ideas about ourselves are as damaging as that toxic bacteria, eating away at our confidence and willingness to reach beyond our comfort zone. Self-doubt can be crippling; it can prevent us from pursuing a dream, pushing for a promotion, or speaking up when it counts.


I’ve felt this kind of limiting belief firsthand. Growing up in a rural Korean village in the 1950s, I was always derided for being born a girl. My gender was considered a curse on my family, especially because I had no interest in becoming a homemaker. My true love was martial arts; a pursuit allowed only to men. I was constantly derided for my passions and told that I would fail; I was rejected, abused, and put down on a near-constant basis.


My experience is extreme, but it is in no way an isolated occurrence. Every person faces the challenge of other peoples’ expectations in their life; from childhood, other people always provide directions for who we should be and how we should act. Sadly, sometimes these instructions have little to do with who we really are. In fact, many people provide advice as a way to control or gain power, addressing some lack in their own life.


Yet, even knowing this, how often do we allow those around us to tell us who we are, and what we can expect from ourselves? How many times in a day do you defer to some belief about yourself, given to you by someone else from long ago?


You don’t need to allow others to define you. Despite the oppressive nature of my village, I managed to become the first female grandmaster in Korea and establish my own studio. You can clean that rot off of your psychological roots and bloom into the person you were always meant to be — but the process will take effort.


Here are the six truths you will need to accept as you heal your roots and reconnect with your true self.  


You Are Unique

There is no one else in the world who is exactly like you. Don’t let another person’s opinions affect your self-image or motivations, because their perspective is incomplete. You may have good advisors, but at the end of the day, you are the one who knows yourself best. You get to decide who you want to be.  No one else can tell you who you are.


You Have More Strength Than You Know

In life or death situations, you can accomplish anything. How many stories have you heard of desperate mothers lifting cars off of their trapped children, or of people pushing the odds of human survival? We are all linked into a universal life force — one that allows us to overcome our perceived physical and mental limitations. Most people aren’t aware of their connection to this underlying force. However, given training and focus, anyone can access it.


Don’t confuse feeling weak with being weak. You may have doubts, indeed, fear plays a part in any healthy person’s thoughts! But you don’t have to surrender to that fear, today. You can acknowledge its presence, and then move past, ultimately leaving it behind.


Your Thoughts Determine Your Reality

If you allow negative thoughts to dictate your self-image, you will always be bound by the limitations others impose upon you. Take a more deliberate approach to mental filtering; recognize intrusive, negative thoughts when they come and respond with positive affirmations. Say, “No, I can accomplish what I intend to do. If others can reach their goals, I too can make my dreams happen.”


Language is a powerful tool: in politics, in religion, in advertising, and in our daily lives. Don’t let your language about yourself limit your progress. Change the way you think and talk about yourself. It’s not always easy, but I guarantee the practice of positive thinking and speaking will yield a difference in what you are able to manifest.


You Embody Creative Energy

We all have creative energy; however, when we give up on creating, we pour that energy into a mold of helplessness, reinforcing our belief in our own inaction. Break the cycle; find the motivation you need to create something — a hobby, a friendship, a career — that brings you true fulfillment.


You Already Have the Power to Make Your Dreams a Reality

Without determination, any good intentions will stall, lacking the energy necessary to make it a reality. Remember, procrastination is just another symptom of self-doubt.  Even five minutes of action a day towards your goals can move you away from paralysis and into success. Set a timer if you have to, and begin.


The good news? Getting started is the hardest part. The more you do, the less likely it is that you’ll sink back into your comfortable, unfulfilling patterns.  Take one step today. Two steps tomorrow.  


You Need to Find What Brings You Joy

Do you know what makes you happy? I’m not talking about what makes your family happy, or earns you a paycheck, or the expectations you have set for yourself. No — I’m asking if you know what brings a smile to your face and makes you feel alive. What “thing” brings you joy?  


Don’t allow doubt to poison your psychological “roots.” Don’t let the careless words of others from the past define your present, or your future. Make that “thing” be the primary driver for everything you do, and the top priority for how you structure your day.


No matter who you are, no matter what hardships you face, you alone have the power to determine how you will respond to the challenges you encounter, and by what values you will live.  Your path is your own. Every successful person you will meet knows this to be true, and yet I am always so sad to meet so many people who don’t believe this, still.


The truth is that you are free to take action, starting right now, in this moment, towards making what is important to you a reality.


Let’s get started!

Here is an excerpt from my book, SEVEN STEPS TO INNER POWER.  As you read through this, think about times when you may have felt critical of others or yourself.  Did holding those feelings help the situation?  

As you become aware of the energy and emotions you want to cleanse from your world, take care not to get caught up criticizing yourself for the trait you want to eliminate.  Please don't get down on yourself for having doubts or being impatient or angry.  The fact that you are noticing these tendencies means that you are doing something - you are engaged in your life.  As I said earlier, look at these weaknesses clinically.

When you are driving down a dusty road on a hot day and your car becomes coated in dust, you don't label it as right or wrong.  You accept that this is something that just happens, and you make a mental note to get the car washed the next time you are in town.  When you're in a car and it starts raining, you notice that your windshield is getting wet and then you turn on your windshield wipers so you can drive safely.  You don't curse the rain and say, "Why is this stupid water getting on my windshield and all over my car?"

It doesn't really matter how you feel about the rain.  Maybe you have been experiencing a severe drought where you live and so you welcome the downpour, or maybe you've had drenching floods lately and you don't want to see another drop of rain.  Regardless of how you feel, you have to deal with what's happening at the moment.  Getting frustrated and bringing in emotions doesn't help.  In order to move forward, you have to stay in balance, be positive, and take appropriate action.

Life is a journey, and in the same way that you experience rough weather at times, so you'll experience fear or doubt or jealousy.  That's okay.  See these attitudes for what they are and, because you know they are holding you back, set about replacing them with confidence in yourself, gratitude for what you have, and excitement to be alive with a new day of opportunity before you.

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Enjoy some of these recent articles published in Psychology TodayInspireNation and Parabola

Here is an excerpt from my book, The Silent Master: Awakening the Power Within:


Energy has a characteristic of being dynamic - that is, it doesn't stay put. All you have to do is study electrical energy to see how energy fields move around - attracting, repelling, moving, and interacting. Your own energy does the same.

Just as you put energy into your food when you grow it or prepare it, you also fill your environment with your energy. A room full of people can create an energy field that can be positive or negative, depending on the intent of everyone. Is the intent to harmonize and cooperate? Or is the intent for many different wills to each have their way? We've all had the experience in families or other group situations where the results of either kind of field - oppression or joy - can be felt.

The pure ideas and feelings of the Silent Master consciousness are of a higher energetic level than negative ideas and emotions. Love is a higher energy than hate; generosity is a higher energy than greed; unity is a higher energy than conflict; harmony is a higher energy than discord. All of these energy states can exist in consciousness, but a higher energy state has the “effect of canceling out a lower energy state.

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Here is an excerpt from my book, The Silent Master: Awakening the Power Within:

Food is also created from consciousness like everything else. Since your body is the temple of your Silent Master consciousness, give it the loving food and exercise that expresses your intent to be pure, real, and whole.

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Here is an excerpt from my book, The Silent Master: Awakening the Power Within:

Discipline of the body works to discipline the mind.  Discipline your mind and you strengthen your body.

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Here is an excerpt from my book, The Silent Master: Awakening the Power Within:

Your Body Deserves Respect
Your body is the most elegant creation you possess. Your body is the embodiment of ideas in your Silent Master consciousness. Just as you learn to use your mind properly, “think of how important it is, then, to use and care for this body with the same respect and holiness you accord to your spiritual consciousness. How? Just as you properly use and exercise your thought so you should properly exercise your body. You've begun to learn that there is much more you can do with your mind; don't you think there is much more you can do with your body?


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Here is an excerpt from my book, The Silent Master: Awakening the Power Within:

Since your body and mind are connected, you can use physical exercise to help purify your mind. Remember, when you purify your mind and body, you increase your energy. And you purify your mind and body by doing everything you can do to remove limitation. Because body and mind are one, when you overcome physical limitation, you simultaneously overcome mental limitation.


Other Information:

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Here is an excerpt from my book, The Silent Master: Awakening the Power Within:


In a quiet place where you can be alone, light a candle. As the light burns, allow yourself to feel blended with the flame, consciously knowing that as your perception unites with the flame, you simultaneously become one with the light of your own inner being. This act of lighting the candle is like the beginning of creation. You are saying: "Let there be light in my life." You allow your mind to focus only on the flame in order to quiet your mind and to still any restless thoughts and feelings that may try to distract you. The more your mind becomes still, calm, and undistracted, the more you become open to receiving the beautiful, clear impressions of your Silent Master.

Take as much or as little time with this meditation as you wish.

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Here is an excerpt from my book, The Silent Master: Awakening the Power Within:

Candle Meditation

Here is a visual meditation I use to open my awareness to my spiritual self. The candle and special rituals with fire or light have been used by mankind for this purpose for thousands of years. Light has special mystical significance to our inner being. It's not by accident that candles are lighted to show respect at special occasions or extraordinary events, or to show honor for revered persons, or to deliver a special message as protesters do when they hold lighted candles in a march, or to add significance to certain religious ceremonies. Intuitively, we know our inner being is light, and the candle helps us turn our attention to our spiritual being, especially when we need help above and beyond our material efforts. The flame reminds us of our pure being the clarity, warmth, life and love that burns in our Silent Master consciousness.


(to be continued...)

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