They’ve taken years to cultivate and continual effort to maintain. Here are the top 10 “ah-ha” moments that have shaped and transformed a new habitual pattern of abundance:

1. My darkest moments were/are periods of intense growth — During times of sadness, heartache or frustration, extreme transformation was taking place, but I just had no idea. It wasn’t until after these stages, upon entering the light, that I looked back and realized all of it happened for a reason. I’ve gained awareness, found peace, love, gratitude and, most importantly, myself, through all of the pain I’ve ever felt.

2. Stop thinking you need to be ready to make a move — We are taught to think we need to be ready to make a big change. That couldn’t be further from the truth. There have been times when the fear of failure has stagnated me into the propensity to procrastinate, or worse: kept me hidden. Have confidence, challenge excuses.

3. At the end of the day, we are always seeking validation in some form — Whether it’s love, acceptance or success, we crave knowing that we’re doing okay, normal or on the right path. Knowing where this is coming from, or the purpose behind what we’re doing, can further clarify for us if we’re doing the right thing for ourselves, or acting on behalf of how we want others to perceive us.

4. Words can be clumsy, so sometimes silence offers the best communication — Sometimes you need to relinquish having the last word. Sometimes all that’s needed is a hug. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is stay put and just be present.

5. Saying “no” can be the healthiest choice — Say no to what doesn’t serve you. Say no to what makes you feel like crap. I have so much respect for those who are honest with me and set boundaries. It took me a long time to get there, but I’ve realized it’s the easiest way to provide self-care, and the people in your life who matter will not only appreciate it, but reciprocate.

6. It’s okay to feel the way you feel — no matter what it is — I can get so hard on myself when I’m feeling anxious, selfish, tired, scared, insecure (the list goes on and on). When in reality, I’m feeling those things for a reason. To work through them, the first thing to do is have awareness and work into acceptance. Being frustrated can only exacerbate the situation. On the contrast, it’s also okay to feel good. Downplaying your happiness to prevent others from feeling inadequate is not okay. Own the way you feel. It doesn’t make you a bad person.

7. Money is energy — This is something that took me years to realize. After seeing I had multiple blocks, I’ve finally started to work through them (and realized just how far back they run). Having negative feelings towards money can further push it away, as with anything else in life. Releasing our fears and false beliefs can help money flow effortlessly into our lives. It’s been life-changing for me, and it’s something I only wish I had found out about sooner.

8. That which you focus on increases — Thank the Law of Attraction for this one, but what you give your attention to will only magnify. The best tip I’ve ever been given was to start a gratitude journal. Making a list of what you’re grateful for will only bring more abundance into your life. Focusing on your lack will do just that: provide more feelings of scarcity and run a vicious cycle. Break the habit and start looking at all the good in your life, even if you have to do it with one small thought at a time.

9. Vulnerability is the best gift you can give yourself — Vulnerability can scare some people. Only in those moments where we see people for who they are — insecure, alone, or even happy and selfless — do we truly recognize one’s soul. That is when we realize we are all connected, that is when we really allow authentic intimacy to enter into our lives. “Vulnerability is the birthplace for everything we are hungry for,” said professor and speaker Brené Brown.

10. It’s not how you feel during, it’s how you feel after — This realization was life altering. This made me want to write. This started a path of healing and boundary setting I did not think was possible. It all comes down to a thought: what if those things that might feel great in the moment, but make us feel bad afterwards (too much caffeine/sugar, overeating, drinking, meaningless relations) as well as their after-effects, were a sign from the universe — a giant red flag to get us to stop. It’s the same with what makes us feel great afterwards but might suck in the moment. Hitting the gym, yoga, drinking a green smoothie, saying no. Asking myself this question, “How will I feel after,” has changed my behaviors, strengthened my intuition, and just plain made me feel better. It’s as simple as that.

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