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Google’s John Mueller Explains How to Rank Inner Pages



Google's John Mueller Explains How to Rank Inner Pages

On a recent Google Webmaster Hangout, John Mueller gave tips on how to fix a home page ranking for a keyword phrase when an inner page is the better page.

Signals for Web Page to Rank over Home Page

“You said Google’s algorithm doesn’t automatically favor the homepage ranking above other pages. What should we do to let Google know that a blog post for example should be ranking for a certain page term rather than the home page.

If we have a small website, how do we present clear signals to show Google that this blog post is the better page for certain search terms even though the home page probably has most internal links pointing to it?”

This is a problem of a home page outranking an inner page for a search term. This is a strange problem because presumably the home page, particularly on a blog, should feature limited amount of content from the inner pages.

The Power of Custom Content Excerpts

Although the person asking the question didn’t mention how much content from the inner pages is being shown, it could be that the article excerpt used on the home page is from the article itself and possibly too much of it is being used.

Unless a custom excerpt is provided, many themes will automatically display the first few sentences from an article or even the entire article on the home page. This is a setting that you can control in WordPress.

I find that it’s better to create a unique excerpt that describes what the article is about, thereby encouraging the site visitor to click through to the page.

The excerpt can be crafted in the same way a meta description is, (description and a call to action) and you can even use it for your meta description if you like. The role that a custom crafted page excerpt plays for getting a user to visit a page is similar to that of the meta description.

Google’s John Mueller Explains How to Rank a Page

John offered the following advice for how to rank a web page instead of a home page:

“The best thing that you can do in a case like this is to make sure that you really have that content covered well on those blog posts and maybe have it a little bit clearer on the home page that this page is not about that content.”

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller explaining how to rank web pages.Google’s John Mueller explains how to rank web pages.

In general, the home page should not be ranking for a very specific keyword phrase. If it does then that could mean that the home page is lacking in focus.

John Mueller’s advice on making it clearer what the home page is about is good advice. The home page should in most cases be optimized for what the entire site is about.

So if your site is about widgets, then the home page should be optimized to communicate that you sell all kinds of widgets. If the content is about a local industry, then the home page should clearly say it’s a Mexican Restaurant, that it’s a plumber in the San Francisco Bay Area, etc. Then let the inner pages carry the burden for menu in the case of a restaurant and garbage disposals in the case of a plumber.

John Mueller on How Internal Linking Helps Pages Rank

John Mueller went on to explain best practices for internal anchor text to help web pages rank. Anchor text are the words you use when you link from one page to another, what the user clicks on (like, click here).

“You mentioned internal linking, that’s really important. The context we pick up from internal linking is really important to us… with that kind of the anchor text, that text around the links that you’re giving to those blog posts within your content. That’s really important to us.”

What that means is, rather than use non-descriptive words like “more info” or “read more,”  it is better to use anchor text that is meaningful, that uses words that describe what the content is about.

Of course, that’s hard to do in the context of a blog home page. But it can be done from within the content of other pages.

Then he discussed the value of standard SEO practices such as titles and headings:

“Additionally, of course the content, like I mentioned is really important. So, making sure you have clear titles on those pages, you use clear headings, you could structure content in a way that’s easily readable that’s in a way that is really clear that this is about this topic without… resorting to keyword stuffing.

…be reasonable about… putting keywords on your pages. Write your pages in a way that they would work well for users rather than in a way that you think search engines might pick that up.”

John Mueller then reiterated that repeating keywords “in all variations” is a 20 year old spam method that is outdated so don’t try it.

What About External Links?

Google is about ranking specific pages for a search query. Search queries that are specific about size or color tend to return product pages that are specific about size or color. Google seems to prefer ranking pages for detailed phrases, not home pages.

If a home page is ranking instead of the inner page, then that could be a symptom that the site does not have enough useful links overall and that a majority of the links tend to go to the home page instead of inner pages.

In my opinion, a weak link profile could work against inner pages to rank. But the other factors discussed above related to the proper use of excerpts, good site architecture and a clear focus of what the home page is about can overcome a disadvantage from a weak link profile.

Watch Google’s John Mueller answer how to rank an inner page.

Images by Shutterstock, Modified by Author
Screenshots by Author, Modified by Author

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What really matters in Google’s nofollow changes? SEOs ask



What really matters in Google's nofollow changes? SEOs ask

Google’s news Tuesday that it is treating the nofollow attribute as a “hint” for ranking rather than a directive to ignore a link, and the introduction of rel="sponsored"andrel="ugc" raised reactions and questions from SEOs about next steps and the impact of the change to a nearly 15-year-old link attribute.

Choices for choice sake?

As Google Search Liaison Danny Sullivan stated in a tweet Tuesday, the announcement expands the options for site owners and SEOs to specify the nature of a link beyond the singular nofollow attribute. The additional sponsored and ugc attributes are aimed at giving Google more granular signals about the nature of link content.

As a point of clarification, Google’s Gary Illyes tweeted that nofollow in meta robots will also be treated as a “hint,” but there are no ugc or sponsored robot meta tags. He also stated that he’ll be updating the official documentation to explicitly reflect this.

There is no real benefit for the sites that implement these new attributes instead of nofollow, other than organizational classification if it’s helpful. That has some viewing it through a lens of skepticism.

“Massive impact” whether you adopt or not

Drawing the focus back to that the key change that nofollow is now a ranking “hint,” not a directive, Sullivan tweeted, “As Gary says, that’s very helpful to our systems that impact *lots* of people. The new attributes are a minor aspect.”

That was in reference to Illyes earlier tweet that the treatment of nofollow could have a “massive impact on the end user.”

It can be hard to reconcile hearing that the change could mean significant improvements in search results for users while also being told that most sites won’t see any ranking affect from the new nofollow treatment.

According to the announcement, these changes have already taken effect (save for nofollow being used as a crawling and indexing “hint,” which goes into effect in March 2020). “In most cases, the move to a hint model won’t change the nature of how we treat such links,” Sullivan and Illyes wrote in the announcement. “We’ll generally treat them as we did with nofollow before and not consider them for ranking purposes.”

Who benefits from the new attributes?

Implementing the more granular sponsored andugc attributes is optional, and Google clearly stated there is no need for SEOs to go back and update any existing nofollows. So will site owners adopt the new attributes if they don’t have to?

As Sullivan has stated, the purpose of them is to provide options to help it classify these kinds of links more clearly. The nuances Google looks at between nofollow,sponsored and ugc attributes won’t have an impact on your own site and the new attributes are voluntary to implement. “If you do want to help us understand the web better, implement them. If you don’t want to, don’t,” tweeted Illyes.

More work?

Making the new attributes voluntary means you don’t have to bang down IT’s door, but it could also mean the change request may fall to the bottom of the priority list for a lot of companies and never get implemented. As consultant Kristine Schachinger expressed in the tweet below, even the slightest SEO change can be hard to get implemented.

Google seems very clearly fine with that. At this stage, the actual work involved should be minimal. If your dev teams can’t implement a code change to incorporate ugc or sponsored attributes for several more sprints, or quarters (and you’ve been implementing nofollow when appropriate), you don’t have to fret.

For WordPress sites, Yoast SEO plugin founder and Chief Product Officer Joost de Valk said Tuesday that support will be coming in the next release.

“It’s quite easy,” said de Valk. If other vendors follow suit, it could speed up adoption of the new attributes.

An opportunity for manipulation?

Now that nofollow is a “hint,” some are also concerned about spammers that might want to test out whether their tactics have a new lease on life.

Google says this shouldn’t spur spammers because most links will still be ignored just as before, whether they use the nofollow, ugc or sponsored attributes. Further, given that one of the stated reasons Google made the change to consider nofollow a “hint” is to be able to better understand link schemes, this spam tactic could be more risky than before.

What now?

This change should not have you overhauling your nofollow strategy. If you publish sponsored content or host forums or comments on your site, consider implementing the new attributes when you are able to make a code change. If you can’t or just don’t want to, there’s no harm in that either.

“On the surface, this only benefits Google,” Chris Silver Smith, president of Argent Media, commented via Facebook. “But, if you read between the lines, ‘hints’ mean a passing of PageRank or equivalent values. They’re already using Nofollowed links in some cases. They just want it easier to choose between links to use now in more cases.”

About The Author

George Nguyen is an Associate Editor at Third Door Media. His background is in content marketing, journalism, and storytelling.

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The 7 Most Crucial Ecommerce Metrics You Should Be Tracking Right Now



The 7 Most Crucial Ecommerce Metrics You Should Be Tracking Right Now

Selling things online has never been both easier and harder.

On one hand, you have platforms like Amazon, eBay, and Etsy, all of which have lowered the barrier to entry for aspiring online merchants.

On the other hand, succeeding as an online store operator means having to track a lot of data, which is much easier said than done.

The most successful ecommerce businesses are the ones that can harness metrics to make informed decisions.

These metrics, in turn, tell you everything you need to know about your store’s performance, from the number of sales by day, week, and month, to the average value of all items purchased at any given time.

This, however, doesn’t mean that you should be tracking and optimizing every metric at your disposable. The key is to know the metrics that make the biggest impact on your ecommerce venture.

To point you in the right direction, here’s a list of the seven most important ecommerce metrics you should be tracking and optimizing today.

1. Sales Conversion Rate

Your ecommerce sales conversion rate is, simply put, the percentage of people who visit your online store or page who make a purchase.

To calculate your conversion rate, use the following formula:

Coversion Rate Calculation

So, if 1,000 people visited your store this week and only 10 people made a purchase, your conversion rate for the week would be 1%.

Obviously, you’d want as high a conversion rate as possible.

But the truth is that the average ecommerce conversion rate in the U.S. is much lower than you think – between 2% and 3%.

According to WordStream, however, you might fair better with Google Shopping Ads.

Google Shopping Ads Average CVR

Now for the big question: How can I improve my conversion rate?

This is a huge topic in itself, but a few things you can try include:

  • Speeding up your product pages.
  • Upload high-quality images of your products
  • Optimize product listings using keywords

2. Website Traffic

Once you’ve tracked and optimized your conversion rate, you can then look at bringing more people to your ecommerce store.

This is where measuring website traffic comes in.

Let’s go back to your conversion rate of 1%, or 10 purchases for every 1,000 visits. After optimization, let’s suppose this rate increased to 5% – 50 sales for every 1,000 visitors.

We can then infer that if you were to get 10,000 people to visit your site, you would also multiple your sales tenfold.

This isn’t a guarantee, of course, but it’s nevertheless important to ensure that people know your online store or page exists to maximize your likelihood of generating more sales.

To grow your website traffic, you can:

  • Promote your offerings on social media.
  • Optimize your site/store for search engines.
  • Grow the number of people subscribing to your newsletter.

3. Email Opt-in Rate

Even in today’s social media age, email marketing continues to be one of the most important tools for ecommerce, particularly when it comes to remarketing and generating repeat business.

According to Campaign Monitor, email marketing delivered an ROI of 4400% in 2016 and their 2018 annual report revealed 59% of marketers believe email delivers the highest ROI of all marketing channels:

Email Marketing Performance

Similar to website traffic, the idea is to get as many people on your email list, even if they don’t necessarily purchase your products right away.

But unlike ordinary website/page visitors, people who sign up to your newsletter care enough about your brand to get updates on your products and services. This means they are also more likely to become paying customers in the near future.

One way to get people to subscribe to your emails is to offer something of value in exchange for your audience’s email addresses and contact information.

For example, you can offer an exclusive deal (e.g., a voucher or code) to first-time subscribers on their next purchase.

4. Customer Lifetime Value

Lifetime Value Calculation

Customer lifetime value (CLV) measures the total amount of what you earn from an average customer over their lifetime.

For example, if a typical customer makes six transactions, each one worth $30, throughout their life, your CLV would be $180. Note that you still have to deduct your acquisition costs from this number, which brings us to the next point.

Your CLV is important because it serves as a benchmark for how much you can spend to acquire customers and the lengths you should go to keep them.

To increase your online store’s CLV, you can work on improving your average order value (more on this later) and engendering loyalty among your existing customers so they become repeat buyers.

5. Average Order Value

Obviously, you want your customers to spend as much as possible on your online store.

As the name suggests, your average order value refers to the average value of each purchase made in your store.

To calculate yours, simply divide the sum value of all sales by the number of carts.

Average Order Value Calculation

Tracking your average order value allows you to set benchmarks and figure out how to get people to spend more on every purchase they make.

Here are a few ways to drive this metric up:

  • Upsell your customers complementary items that improve the usability of their primary purchase.
  • Offer products as a package so customers get a small discount on each item as opposed to buying them separately.
  • Offer free shipping on purchases above a certain threshold to entice customers to maximize their spending.

6. Customer Acquisition Cost

While growing your customer base is obviously important, it’s also just half of the equation.

If you’re spending an average of $30 to acquire every customer but your average order value is only $25, that means your business is still operating at a loss.

This is where measuring your Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) comes in.

Your CAC tracks the average cost of gaining one customer, including everything from marketing and sales costs to the cost of paying your staff and hosting your site.

This will give you an overall figure, but you can also calculate your CAC by source (e.g. different traffic channels like search engines, social media, or email list).

To bring down your CAC, you can:

  • Improve your conversion rate.
  • Optimize your advertising to spend less for every acquired customer.
  • Invest in free/organic marketing like SEO and social media marketing.
  • Invest in referral marketing to encourage existing customers to bring in new customers.

7. Shopping Cart Abandonment Rate

This metric refers to the percentage of shoppers who add products to their cart but ultimately leave your store without completing the purchase.

These are window shoppers who are considering a purchase but haven’t quite made up their mind just yet.

Shopping cart abandonment is more common than you think. According to Barilliance, around 78% of shoppers abandon their carts.

This figure, however, can vary between industries. General retail, for example, has an abandonment rate of 72.8%, while fashion has 68.3%.

Cart Abandonment Rate by Industry

But even if your abandonment rate is roughly equal to these benchmarks, it’s still a good idea to do everything you can to bring it down.

  • Simplify the shopping experience, particularly the checkout process, so customers can shop smoothly.
  • Use remarketing to bring undecided shoppers back to your store. This can include targeted ads and follow-up emails.

Although this list of ecommerce metrics is by no means exhaustive, it’s at least a good starting point for any online store.

If you have a smaller online enterprise, you can start with primary metrics like average order value, customer lifetime value, and conversion rate.

As your store grows and gets more orders, your data points will also increase in number, giving you more data to track, measure, and improve.

And when you work on improving one metric, you’ll find that this leads to ripple effects on other metrics – for example, improving AOV helps you outpace your CAC.

Ultimately, tracking these metrics will help you make the best decisions for your ecommerce site.

More Resources:

Image Credits

In-post Image #1: Screenshot taken by the author, September 2019
In-post Image #2: WordStream
In-post Image #3: Campaign Monitor
In-post Image #4: Red Rocket Blog
In-post Image #5: Yotpo
In-post Image #6: Barilliance

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Mental Illness – No Shame – Lots of Hope



Clinical depression (diagnosed by a professional). Panic attacks. Blackouts.

Suicidal thoughts and planning. Destructive societal behavior.

PTSD. OCD. Drug addiction (including alcohol).

Nine years of recovery. Nine-year relapse.

Second round of recovery.

Now approaching 15 years clean and free of “drugs.”

The list of psychological challenges and illnesses I have lived through in my life is long.

Trigger Warning: This post briefly describes severe abuse as a child, and goes on through to suicidal thoughts. If you are not prepared to read even brief content about a little child being severely abused, or how that eventually led to considering suicide, please skip this section and go on to “From Surviving to Thriving“!

Early Environmental Influence

While at least some of my issues may, in fact, have genetic origins to varying degrees, I have come to learn that we can be shaped and molded based on our environment. And for me, that all started as a result of having been severely abused – physically, psychologically, emotionally and spiritually throughout my childhood by my parents.

I was physically beaten routinely. Belts. Wooden hangers. Hands. Whatever was convenient. And crying, yeah that cliché “This hurts me more than it hurts you” was said often. As was “If you don’t stop crying, I’ll give you something to cry about.”

I was also told at various times growing up:

  • “You’re not good enough.”
  • “You don’t deserve ____.”
  • “Look what you did to your mother – why do you get her so upset?”
  • “You’ll never have anything in life.”
  • “It’s my house, and if you don’t like it, you can leave.”

One of the worst, from my mother: “Don’t argue with your father – he’s right even when he’s wrong…”

The chaos and abuse at home were only reinforced by being bullied from elementary school until my teen years.

I was taught “turn the other cheek,” “don’t cause trouble at school,” and concepts along those lines.

I was never taught how to stand up for myself early on, as a human being. Never taught at that age any concept of self-worth or self-esteem.

So it was almost guaranteed that I’d seek to escape from that hell.

The Early Years of Insanity

My earliest escape was daytime, waking life blackouts. As a very small child, I would literally be doing one thing somewhere in the house, and next thing I knew, I was outside, doing something completely different.

When my parents would have friends over, I would hide behind the couch, in fear.

I had nightmares that some evil being would come through the window to attack me.

Sugar became a drug. The adrenaline rush in pouring sugar onto sugar-infused cereal was an addiction.

Daydreaming about a better life became a constant outlet.

Escalated Escape

Eventually, escape for me transitioned into schoolwork. I found that if I did really well in class, my teachers would praise me, show me appreciation. So that became a drug.

Seeking approval actually got results somewhere. I craved it. Obsessed over obtaining it.

Except as the years passed, and the abuse got worse, none of those escapes were enough anymore. And that led to drugs. I fit in. Got acceptance. And at the same time, could numb my emotions and thoughts.

Any drug I was exposed to. Could get access to. For me, one drug didn’t lead to another. It was a free-for-all of access and impact. Its use grew though – in volume and frequency.

I almost didn’t graduate from high school because at that point I was “tuned out” – from a straight-A student to failing because of not even showing up at class.

From there, I ended up creating a path of chaos wherever I went with jobs, friendships, everything, and anything.

I got arrested for “minor” infractions more than once. That happens when you are “tuned out” all the time, and when you end up in places you don’t belong, with people you aren’t going to win societal participation awards among.

Life eventually hit bottom (my first of multiple bottoms). Nothing worked anymore. None of my escape mechanisms could numb the pain or internal turmoil.

So I thought suicide was my only way out. Tried planning it out. Yet never did come up with a method I could guarantee would work.

That was 1986. I was 27, and it was the darkest period of my life.

From Surviving to Thriving

Yet I stand here today, writing this post, to say that with a lot of help, support and effort, I’ve overcome so much over so many years.

No, my life is not “perfect” these days.

All of those mental health challenges still, even now, have a residual impact on who I am and how I face the world.

And I can, in the blink of an eye, end up falling into the chaos and insanity at any time for the rest of my life because some of it became so ingrained in me over so many years, that there’s a residual set of beliefs right there.

Just beneath the surface. That close to wanting to take control again.

That’s how it is with addiction, and that’s how it is with the psychological parameters that allow addiction to awaken even when we “know better.”

It’s why, after my first nine years clean from drugs, I relapsed. And spent nine more years out there, fighting the demons.

And while I am approaching 15 years clean this time around (if I can make it, one day at a time until October 27), recovery is still not guaranteed to last forever.

There is no cure when the damage is so deep. There is only mitigation, alleviation, and remission.

In spite of that, I’ve learned to build a pretty amazing, miraculous and spectacular life for myself overall.

I’ve gotten to travel much of the world – consciously chose to live a nomadic life, moving from city to city, state to state every couple years until I went and bought a house at Lake Tahoe this year, where I now reside.

I’ve built a reputation as one of the industry’s top site auditors, gotten to do that work on hundreds of small, medium, and global enterprise sites.

I’ve established lifelong friendships with industry peers and been able to give back in countless ways to the search community and to people in need out in the world.

I often have very good days.

Productive. Happy. Serene.

Even when I have bad days, they are not anywhere near as bad as they used to be because I have tools and resources and an entire support network.

And I have been practicing their use for so long at this point, that most of the time, the noise doesn’t get very loud, if it shows up at all.

When it shows up, I know what to do about it.

That doesn’t mean I instantly take positive action all the time.

Some days, it is a struggle.

Yet I know better now. I have practiced and done the work enough, and gotten the positive results. So there’s much more balance in my life.

Overcoming Mental Illness, Addiction & My Past Demons

How have I done that? How have I been able to overcome such crazy obstacles and challenges on so many levels?

Caveat: What I share here is what has worked for me, what continues to work for me. I cannot possibly say, with absolute certainty, that any of this will guarantee to work for you. And I don’t go into the details here as there’s too much of it.

What I do know though is this – there are many ways to achieve success in SEO. So too, there are many ways to overcome challenges arising from mental illness, addiction, and other outward signs of internal chaos.

So please understand that if these things help you, that’s a blessing. And if they don’t, it does not mean there is no hope. You just may need to find something else that works for you.

And as my brother told me many years ago when I was at a psychological bottom – as long as you have a breath left in your body, there is hope.

First Rule: No Shame

First, I’ve done so by not accepting that any of these issues are something to be ashamed of.

There is no such thing as perfect except in that every human has challenges. Every person suffers from the broader “human condition” called life.

Anybody who ridicules, stigmatizes, or disrespects mental illness, for example, or physical limitations others have, is themselves, suffering from a form of mental defect.

Maybe it’s “only” a lack of empathy. Maybe it’s something more insidious.

Regardless of the cause, people who fail to respect others who are not like them physically, intellectually, or emotionally, are no different than those who fail to respect others due to color of skin, sexuality, or any other major life framework.

That does not mean I am free from embarrassment, fear, guilt or shame all the time.

Heck, even writing this post, fear kicked in.

What if I allow this to be posted on a top industry site? Will people still want to hire me for audit work?

Will they think I am unstable, or incapable of helping them given how messed up my life has been at times?

Yet when that does come up, I understand and recognize that the need to share my truth with others is more important to me than some unrealized fear.

I cannot keep my path in darkness. It needs to be brought into the light.

One of the most important things that have helped me countless times over the years has been learning that others have gone through the fires and come out on the other side.

So I believe I have a moral, human responsibility to write this. And guess what?

Anybody who reads this and ends up running away from me, well, that’s on them. They’re not wrong or bad or evil for doing so if anyone does that. They too are only human.

And the world is big enough that I will be okay. My entire identity is not, these days, wrapped in having to get approval from every single person I encounter.

In fact, I’m also writing this because others in the industry have, themselves, been vocal about mental illness and other life challenges. So they themselves, have given me inspiration, and courage and hope that writing this is OK.

Second Rule: We Need Others & We Need to Take Responsibility

Second, I’ve learned that “I can’t, we can.”

One of the biggest character defects I developed growing up was the belief that I had to be the one to resolve all of my own problems in life.

That I couldn’t ask for others to help me, let alone accept it.

I had to figure out what to do in everything – which, in my case, was made better and worse at the same time because I happen to be highly intelligent, and I also suffered from “the great I Am” syndrome (thinking I was the center of the universe).

So I used to think “if only this outside situation or circumstance will change, everything will be better.” And then I’d go and find a way to make that change quite often.

Except I never, back then, looked inside, to see what my role in any of it was.

I never stopped to consider that I had a broken picker.

Broken relationship picker. Broken job picker. Broken societal participation picker.

I also had deeply a flawed understanding of how to participate in society and didn’t understand humility can coexist with confidence.

As a result, while things would appear better on the surface, for a while, I inevitably ended up having it blow up in my face.

Relationships fell apart. I’d quit or get fired from job after job.

I’d end up in dangerous situations and circumstances within society. Ended up on death’s doorstep many times.

I call it “hell on earth.”

So I eventually learned “wherever you go, there you are,” and “when one finger is pointing outward, three more are pointing inward.”

Yet I also needed to learn that I am not “The great I Am.”

I am not God. Or a god. I am not the center of the universe. I don’t have all the answers.

This means I need to learn to seek out those who have been where I was, or I am, and who themselves, have overcome some aspect of what I have yet to overcome. And, or, for different needs, I need to turn to professionals.

Sometimes, you really do need search science when your blogging friend can’t even identify with why you aren’t ranking organically, right?

So too, sometimes we need medical professionals or clinicians regarding our mental health needs.

Even a recovering addict needs pain medications sometimes, like after major surgery.

I need to reach out to potential support and help resources, when appropriate.

And if they are willing, and able to offer any support, guidance or help, I need to be honest, open-minded, and willing myself.

Honest about what’s really going on. And about what I don’t know or understand.

Open-minded to a better way to live. And to the possibility that they may have answers I seek.

Willing to change. Willing to take responsibility for my actions. Willing to learn.

Third Rule: It’s Simple, Not Easy

Third – when it comes to mental illness, addiction, behavioral patterns that need to be overcome, the process is almost always simple.

Whether it’s taking certain steps physically, mentally, psychologically or spiritually, they’re just steps.

Footwork. Effort. Sequential change in how we think, what we think, how we feel, what we feel. Or behavior modification.

Yet the deeper the wounds, the more complex the layers of issues, the heavier the load – which means that even simple steps can feel monumental.

And the more years we’ve lived with these challenges, the more ingrained our behavior has become based on raw survival learning. How to survive while suffering internally. Which means we have established, maybe even carved into proverbial stone, rules we live by. Entire belief systems on how to exist.

And that in turn, has led, for many of us, into creating, then maintaining our entire life identity around what just may turn out to be a complete misunderstanding of how we need to live this life.

So it’s possible that at the mere thought of needing to change any of that, our fight-or-flight survival mechanisms may kick into high gear.

We may think we want to change something, on the surface. We may feel there must be a better way to live. We may say we are willing to change.

Yet we may not be ready. Or willing.

Fourth Rule: Accepting Reality, Resisting Change

When push comes to shove, subconsciously, we may panic, else need to accept that everything we came to believe about our selves and our world, needs reevaluation.

That, quite often, can be the scariest concept we face in our lifetimes. The notion that “what worked for me all these years may have been completely invalid,” is heavy.

Yet for someone like me, whose life was constant chaos, turmoil, and insanity, none of it was truly “working.” I was barely surviving.

Heck – even with several years of growth and awakening to a new way of life, and yes, even sometimes, to this very day, while the chaos has been lowered, the insanity “mostly” eliminated, those old beliefs still sit there, on the sidelines, waiting to jump up and take charge again.

The more I resist acceptance about the truth of my situation, the more likely I’ll tell myself “hey, don’t change – you got this far without that abracadabra or woo woo nonsense.”

When that happens, I’ve come to learn to listen inside. Where is that coming from? Is that from my past? Quite often, when I need answers to that, I go to my intuition.

Some people refer to intuition as “a gut feeling.” Others call it God, or Holy Spirit. Others still, refer to it as wisdom. I even turn to “God” sometimes. Which is not a religious god for me.

God, to me, is its own complex notion of endless wisdom, love, positive direction. None of the condemnation stuff. Whatever label you put on any of it, that is where to turn.

Yet we also need to avoid becoming trapped in self-convincing con artist level internal dialogue. Because the more years we have in “just surviving,” the more power we’ve given to the voice of insanity in our own being.

Whether it’s ego, the devil, fear, or whatever other “source” of the “self-deception,” we need to be vigilant for that as well.

Healthy Support from Others

I could spend hours and hours going further into the psychology and the process of what I’ve been through, what I’ve learned, and how I’ve overcome personal challenges to the degree I have – except this is “just” a blog post meant not to be a life story or a book.

(In fact, I’m in the final stages of actually writing a book on how we can change our life stars. It’s currently in the hands of my editor.)

However, that’s another subject altogether.

What I will say now, in moving toward a conclusion of this blog post, has to do with the fact I mentioned earlier that we need others in our life to help us.

When I say that, I need to emphasize how important it is to also realize that we almost certainly cannot seek help from just one other person, or just one book, or one medication, or just one course in wellness.

Our lives, like SEO, are so complicated, multi-faceted and unique to us that we almost certainly need help from multiple people, books, courses, or medications.

We’ve built a lifetime of circumstances and issues and needs. Some directly relate to others, while others still are ultimately not related. Involve different causes, require different solutions.

So thinking only one person or one answer is needed, is potentially not true.

And if we look to rely on just one source for help, that may lead to other problems.

Take people, for example. It is probably not possible that any one person is going to have enough direct experience, themselves, to align with all of the facets of your unique situation.

When you need SEO, you may, hopefully, seek out an SEO professional.

Yet when you need accounting restructuring, or Human Resources changes in your business, or a business loan, or legal advice, it’s almost never advisable to expect your SEO professional to have the depth of experience in your unique path’s history, let alone the experience in how to win with all of those things.

Unless you need a veterinarian. And your SEO is Marie Haynes.

Yet even then, if you hire Marie or her company for SEO, and at 3 a.m. on a Saturday night, your dog needs medical help, is it really appropriate to call Marie?

So too, is it true that when we have mental illness challenges, they are likely to have manifest in ways that not everyone we meet who themselves has overcome mental illness challenges, can help with.

Or where a given individual counselor or psychologist has expertise in one area, they may not have expertise in another.

We may need a food or gambling addiction support solution, a medical doctor, a psychologist, a drug addiction support solution, a marriage counselor, a physical therapist, a spiritual advisor, or any number of other “specialists.”

And even if/when we find any one of those, that one person may not be able to be available for us every time we are in crisis.

We can not allow ourselves to think they “should” be either. We can not, ourselves, be all things to others, 24/7/365. Not even to those we love the most.

Trying to do that will eventually cause us to lose our own sanity. So why would we think that isn’t true for someone we turn to for help?

Which means we need to find multiple resources sometimes even regarding one aspect of our growth needs.

Take What Works – Leave The Rest Behind

Even when we find someone or several people or support groups, or practitioners, it’s just as important to realize going into it that what they offer may apply to us, and it may not. Because they’re as unique as we are. They too, are only human.

And what works for them or worked for them, may not work for us, even if, going into it, we think they know our situation, or we think their story is our story.

So we need to be OK with situations where something they offer, whether out of love or compassion or empathy or training, may not be ideal for us. Or may not fit out truth.

And that’s OK.

If we rely on honesty, open-mindedness, and willingness, we also need to rely on that intuitive awareness I also talked about.

And if there is something in their background, or story that tells us they’re not perfect (that illusion of reality), or is radically different than our story, we also need to allow ourselves to be wise enough to accept what does align, without allowing what does not align, to prevent us from receiving value.

As long as it’s a healthy relationship scenario with that person, that practitioner, or that support group, it’s healthy to have the courage and capacity to see and accept what works and aligns, in spite of differences.

Like me and Jeremy Knauff. As brilliant as he is, he’s a jarhead, and I’m an Army rat. So how can a crayon eater possibly help me?

Well when it comes to WordPress code, I turned to Jeremy to get my site lightning fast. And now it is. In spite of his poor choice of military service.

I use that as a joking way to say “Look, not everything about our two paths is the same. Yet for this thing, he has what I need.”

That same silly concept, when taken seriously regarding mental health support, applies as well.

If there is enough alignment with someone else, in an area I need help with, and I am able to focus on that thing from them, that’s what matters.


On a final note regarding seeking help from others:

Codependency is another major barrier to growth as individuals. If we are or become codependent with people we turn to for help, that’s self-sabotage. Self-destructive behavior.

We need to learn about codependency, enough to learn its patterns and warning signs, no matter what type of help we are seeking for ourselves. So I encourage people to, at the very least, get a good book on the topic and read it.

Warning – you may discover all or many of your relationships are codependent. It’s not uncommon for people with mental illness, or addictions, to suffer from that.

And it’s not uncommon for people in relationship with or in a family where someone has mental illness or addictions, to also be codependent.

And if that’s true, it’s OK. It just may mean there’s something else that needs to be addressed on your path in life. Which means there’s still hope.

The Bottom Line

No matter what you have been through, no matter what you are going through, you are not so unique that nobody else has gone through it.

No matter what.

Why? Because if there are words to describe it, that means someone else has been there, experienced that.

And because of that, given the age of humanity, there is almost certainly somebody who has gone through it and overcome that thing. Probably exponential numbers of others, in fact.

Maybe not in the exact combination you have lived, yet to enough degree that together, we as a society, can provide answers. And help each other.

So if you are seeking help, in whatever way, please know that as long as you have a breath left in your being, there is hope.

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Featured Image: Paulo Bobita

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