When to Burn a Bridge

When to Burn a Bridge

Hi, team! It’s your friend, Mary, with The I in Team series where you can find, be, and build your positive influence. One of the topics we talk about in Be the I in Team is burning bridges, but even though we talk about it in our book, it feels harder to write an advice blog on the topic. I’ve read several other articles and even elicited the opinions of my team. To preface this writing, I will say that burning a bridge is extremely personal and the reasons for doing so are far more diverse than I will be able to mention. Please know that this blog will do its best to give a well-rounded view of when to burn a bridge (or when to let go). Your experience is unique, and my hope is that this blog will provide some guidance on your journey to discover whether or not it’s time to burn a bridge.

Slow Down

We talk about slowing down a lot at The I in Team series, typically because slowing down allows us to gain more control of our emotions and thoughts. When you’re considering whether or not it’s time to burn a bridge, the first step you need to take is to slow down. This can look different for everyone. For some, it may mean taking some space and time away from the person you are considering burning a bridge with. For others, it could just be a night of your favorite activities and showing yourself some love. The biggest thing to remember here is that slowing down means giving yourself time to process your emotions and get to a place where you can think logically.

Once you’ve slowed yourself down enough to think clearly, you can start asking yourself questions to determine if the issue you are experiencing with this person is because of you or them. I know this sounds counterintuitive, but there are times when you will experience issues with others that are not because of them. These are typically due to a fear of intimacy, so you may push others away before they can push you away. These feelings are valid and may be rooted in some trauma, but burning a bridge with someone because of your fears (rather than their behavior) can often deepen and exacerbate those fears and emotions. Regardless of what you discover while slowing down, the best second step after you’ve gained conscious thought is to communicate your perspective.


Communicating how you feel to another person isn’t always easy, but it is necessary for your own growth and the growth of your relationship with that person. In most cases, it’s only fair you give this person a chance to change their behavior by being honest about your perspective. However, there are exceptions to every rule. For example, if you’re experiencing physical abuse. There are some times when even communication can’t help you and you need to move immediately to step three (which we will cover in a moment) which is putting yourself first. But, in most cases, communicating and being honest about your perspective of the relationship is the best second step.

Even if you are afraid of intimacy, you should be able to be honest about that. Whatever your reason is for setting some boundaries and having communication with this person, they should respect that. If they don’t, that might be a sign that it’s time to let them go. If you’re discussing an issue you have with how they treat you, you need to give them some time to adjust their behavior. Keep in mind that people will only change if they want to change, but you can’t force anyone to change. If you find that, even after communicating, someone isn’t changing how they treat you, it may be another sign that it’s time to walk away. You deserve to be respected and surrounded by people that give you positive energy more often than not. The life you are living is your experience, and, ultimately, you must always put yourself first.

Put Yourself First

For some, it’s easier said than done. Putting yourself first is the ultimate act of self-love and is necessary, even if it is difficult. Here are some things you might want to be on the lookout for in your relationships when you know it’s time to put yourself first and start letting that other person go (after you’ve tried communicating): they are constantly weighing you down with negativity or drama no matter how much energy and support you give them in hopes they will be content, they are an attention hog and show no interest in you, they lie or withhold information from you, they expect too much from you without giving anything in return, they gaslight or manipulate you, they don’t treat your other friends or family well, they don’t allow you to be yourself in front of them, or they try to hold you back. While this is not an exhaustive list, it’s a good starter list to get you thinking about who in your life doesn’t respect you enough to keep around. Letting someone go, or burning a bridge, is ultimately an act of self-love.

One question that came from my discussion with my team: Is it possible to let someone go without burning the bridge? The consensus was yes, that it is possible. Letting someone go is simply putting distance between yourself and that person. It could mean talking or seeing each other much less, or even not at all. Burning a bridge is ending the relationship forever for good, severing all ties to that person. Sometimes, all you need is some space from someone to slow down, cool down, and evaluate what kind of relationship you want going forward. In the end, you need to do what is best for you. Always put yourself first. If you don’t put yourself first, you can’t be your most positive influence. As we always say here at The I in Team series, your influence is your single greatest responsibility. Treat yourself well and influence responsibly.

Cultivating Patience in an Immediate Gratification World

Cultivating Patience in an Immediate Gratification World

Hi, team! It’s your friend, Mary, with The I in Team series where you can find, be, and build your positive influence. For some time, I’ve been thinking about what it means to be patient in an ever-changing world and how our privilege with access to technology can make us feel more impatient as we begin to demand more to feel gratified. While the tools we use can be great for helping us be more productive, I wonder if they also make us believe that things can happen quickly regardless of if you’re using technology or not. Patience is a virtue as impatience can lead to poor judgment, irrational behavior and decision making, and having a pessimistic view of the world and others. If you feel your patience waning, you can work to give yourself peace.

What is Patience?

Patience, in the most basic terms, is the ability to endure without succumbing to negative emotion or intent. This looks different for everyone because what one may find difficult to endure, another may thrive. Nonetheless, patience is when you (from your perspective) can wait without becoming annoyed, stressed, or angry. While some may feel that patience is automatic, it is not. You control your patience through your thoughts and what you choose to become attached to. You can certainly grow your ability to be patient.

Growing Patience

One of the best ways to grow your patience for others or situations is to consider other perspectives. For example, when you begin to grow impatient because your partner is running late for dinner, or the line at the grocery store isn’t moving, try to step outside of your perspective and consider the moment from another perspective. Your partner may be late because their car broke down or they had to wait for their manager to sign off on something. The line at the store may be long because there is a new cashier training and they didn’t expect the store to be so busy. When you can reframe your experience and consider other possibilities, it’s easy to feel patient for things that you can’t control. This comes with a little emotional intelligence, empathy, and compassion.

Two other great methods to practice growing patience are to be mindful and show gratitude. Practicing mindfulness can aid in your ability to see other perspectives, but it can also make you less impulsive as you become more aware of your mind in the present moment rather than allowing a negative emotion, like anger, sweep you into feeling impatient. If you identify impatience setting in, take a few long, deep breaths to calm your nervous system. Additionally, you can practice distracting your mind by showing gratitude. Instead of focusing on what is going wrong and irritating you, focus on what is going or has gone right and feel thankful.

Your Health and Patience

Cultivating patience comes with a variety of health benefits, some are long-term while others can be felt immediately. Those who are patient usually experience better mental health. This makes sense because feelings of anger, resentment, or annoyance often accompany impatience. Aside from many of these negative emotions increasing your blood pressure and cortisol levels (stress hormone), experiencing these negative emotions that often come with impatience can disrupt your mood for days, weeks, or even longer depending on how often you become impatient or ruminate on that experience.

Other research has found that impatience can lead to a number of not-so-fun bodily symptoms, including but not limited to: acne, headaches, and ulcers. This is because impatience, as mentioned, usually creates cortisol which can lead to these symptoms, prevent a good night’s sleep, and weaken the immune system. This becomes a vicious cycle as those who are dealing with cortisol, lacking sleep, or feeling sick are more likely to be less patient (and who can blame them!). It’s not fun to not feel good or to feel stressed out, but that’s what makes it more important to work to get ahead of the curve before it gets to a point where you are burnt out and have difficulty cultivating patience.

As with all habit building, the goal is not to be perfect right away but to make incremental steps to being and feeling better. If you are regularly impatient, consider where you are impatient the most and start practicing there. Many people have road rage and become impatient while driving, and this is a great place to practice seeing from another perspective. Slow down, breathe, be mindful, and remain present to cultivate patience. Your body and mind will thank you.

How to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

How to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

Hi, team! It’s your friend, Mary, with The I in Team series where you can find, be, and build your positive influence. Welcome to another new year; another chance to renew yourself, grow, and spread your unique influence. Some may feel it is cheesy, but the new year represents rebirth for us all. A new page for us to write in our books of life. Many feel motivated by this fresh beginning to set goals, resolutions, words, or whatever else to develop themselves and improve their lives. I am personally of the opinion that you can do this year-round, but the new year usually motivates the masses towards bettering themselves.

We at The I in Team series want to challenge you; set one goal for this year that encourages you to grow. Your goal can be as simple as an intention through a word to something more complex and robust. This year, The I in Team series’ “word” is influence; this word will guide all of our other goals and subsequently our actions. In every moment when you are reaching for your goals, you are both your number one supporter and worst enemy. Only you can control the willpower needed to reach your goals; will you choose to stick it out or give up on yourself? Please join me in bettering yourself this year so that everything you influence will benefit from the best version of you. Below are our top tips for achieving a successful new year’s resolution (or intention/word/whatever you like).

Related Blog: How to Build Healthy Habits


Any goal or intention must go through the S.M.A.R.T. process. This is because all goals and intentions are more easily reached when they are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. One of the best things about laying out all your goals in this process is that it makes it super easy to review what may or may not be working down the road. A few weeks into achieving your goal, you may find that your goal isn’t as specific as you need it to be, or you may find that the measurable actions you set for yourself are not attainable within the defined time frame. Last year when we wrote our new year blog post, we centered it around this S.M.A.R.T. goal development process. Check it out to discover some questions you can ask yourself in each part of the S.M.A.R.T. goal development process.

Slow Down

It’s easy to give up on your goals because it doesn’t take any effort to stop doing or reaching for something. When you start feeling burnt out, slow down but don’t give up. Slowing down will allow you to reevaluate your S.M.A.R.T. process and determine if you need to update your goal. Remember, your goal grows with you! Don’t be afraid to reexamine it and change the way you approach reaching the goal. As long as you stick to your original intention or end goal, the way you get there doesn’t really matter. The point of setting goals or intentions is to grow and become better in yourself and your unique influence. If the goal becomes too much or too draining, evolve it to be something you can work with. Slowing down will allow you to reevaluate with ease, give you some breathing room, and hopefully restore your willpower.

Believe in Yourself

If you don’t believe in yourself, you become your own worst enemy. End the self-criticism and negative self-talk; uplift yourself by believing you can reach your goals, develop yourself, and grow in your positive influence. This is known as having a growth mindset, and you need a growth mindset to reach any goal or intention you set for yourself. Believing in yourself can sometimes be compromised when you experience burnout or have willpower depletion. So, if you feel these negatives start to creep into all the progress you’ve made, slow down and consider some things that can give you energy. For some, that may be making a cup of tea or watching your favorite movie; for others, it might be going on a hike or inviting guests over for dinner. Whatever it is that gives you power and restores your energy, write those things down, keep them close, and perform them when you need to so you can stay on track for reaching your goals.

Whatever it is you choose to work on this year, we challenge you to choose at least one thing. Life is about growth and development; if you aren’t taking these moments to learn more about yourself and the world, then what are you spending your time on? You deserve to find yourself in this life, be the best version of yourself that you can be, and build your positive influence so that those around you can benefit from all that makes you uniquely glorious. Make your goals (or intentions/words) S.M.A.R.T., slow yourself down to regain your willpower, and believe in yourself. We certainly believe in you.

What is Inclusive Language?

What is Inclusive Language?

Hi, team! It’s your friend, Mary, with The I in Team series where you can find, be, and build your positive influence. Our gratitude group just celebrated one year of showing gratitude together every week, so we reviewed everything we have learned together over the past year. One of the topics we learned about was inclusive language. With our world growing in ways to connect and modes for communication, it is important to open your mind and do your best to remain inclusive, both in your actions as well as your words. However, culture dictates the language we use so it becomes first nature—we don’t question it. In this blog, we are going to discuss what inclusive language is and why it is important, some examples of inclusive language, and how you might implement it in your life.

What is inclusive language?

Inclusive language is when we use words, whether verbally and written, that attempt to include everyone who will read and/or hear it. It is language that aims to not exclude groups inadvertently. Traditionally, it is meant to be inclusive of underprivileged or minority groups. When implementing inclusive language, the goal is to bring harmony to speech and writing through avoiding demeaning or offending people or groups. Additionally, using inclusive language is important because you never know if someone who is seemingly included may have strong ties to or a passion for any given underprivileged or minority groups. Those who work on developing their inclusive language, while not always perfect, show an open mind and willingness to understand that which they are not part of.

Why is inclusive language important?

Communication is powerful; whether it be our internal thoughts or thoughts which we put out into the world through spoken word or in writing, communication is how we interact with and respond to the world. So, the words we use are important and they tell people who we are on the inside. Using inclusive language creates spaces for those that may otherwise feel uncomfortable or unwelcome for individual characteristics, many of which they often have little control over. We are all born as we are. Therefore, acknowledging the vast diversity and beauty of humankind through inclusive language is one way we can demonstrate our acceptance of different perspectives, identities, and ideas.

Examples of Inclusive Language

First, I will discuss the difference between person-first and identity-first language in terms of those who experience disabilities. Then, I will provide some examples of ways in which you can change your language to be more inclusive for all in today’s society.

Person-First Language

Person-first language (PFL) is when you acknowledge that the person you are speaking to or about is first a human being and second has a disability. This shows respect for that person and allows them to be seen as a whole, a human, rather than a singular part, their disability. For example, using inclusive language, you would say “a person who has a disability” rather than “a disabled person,” or, “a person who is blind or visually impaired” as opposed to “a blind person.” PFL aims to acknowledge individuals as humans first and foremost and seeks to eliminate the practice of reducing an individual to a defined disability.

Identity-First Language

Identity-first language (IFL) is the opposite of PFL; it puts the disability before the person. While this is likely self-explanatory by now, an example of this would be describing someone as “a bipolar person” rather than “a person with bipolar disorder.” It is noteworthy to say that when you meet someone who has a disability, it is kind and compassionate to ask them if they prefer PFL or IFL. This shows that you care, recognize their worth as an individual, and would like to use language that makes them feel comfortable and included. In some cases, that person may prefer IFL. This has been found true with a larger population of the Deaf/hard of hearing and Autistic communities. Don’t make assumptions; use person-first language if you aren’t sure and if given the opportunity to ask their preference, ask!

Examples of Inclusive Language

Below are some examples of inclusive language based on underprivileged and minority groups.

inclusive language

Developing a Habit of Inclusive Language

Like all habits, you must show patience and compassion for yourself as you work to develop and improve your language. Because a lot of the language we use is cultural in nature, for example, “Hey, you guys!” (when talking to a mixed-gender group) it can be harder to recognize when we do it and therefore more difficult to change that language. Additionally, you may find that some women don’t mind being called “one of the guys” but you will also find that some do mind. It’s best to err on the side of caution to ensure everyone feels included by you in the spaces you create and occupy.

To develop this habit, start with one sector you know you can work on with room for improvement. It may be that you want to be more inclusive in your religious or gendered language, or perhaps how you refer to families or perceived class status. Choose one to start with and work on incorporating that language into your everyday thoughts and speech. It would be beneficial for you to come back and review these examples or conduct an internet search of other examples to keep the new vocabulary you hope to instill at the forefront of your mind.

Overall, the goal of developing more inclusive language is to ensure that your audience, no matter how small, feels included and safe with you. The safer you make others feel, the more your positive influence grows. We all show the world who we are each day through our interaction with each other, and how we respond to positive and negative situations. By developing healthy habits in hopes of making others feel included, we demonstrate our ability to value and appreciate diversity. Like with all habits, have patience and compassion for yourself as you grow. We believe in you!

Discover Your Core Values

Discover Your Core Values

Hi, team! It’s your friend, Mary, with The I in Team series where you can find, be, and build your positive influence. Recently, my team and I were discussing core values and their importance in leading our moral compass, but many of them inquired as to how they know what their core values are when they value so much. We all hold several values in our lives, but there are a few that are considered our core values. These values can guide our decision-making, help us in crisis, and give us a foundation to come back to when we are feeling unsure of ourselves. My hope is to help guide you to discover your core values, as well as discussing the benefits of doing so.

Choosing Your Core Values

You may value many things in your life, creating a list so long you may not even remember it. Even looking up images of values on Google produces hundreds of potential results for you to choose from. It can be overwhelming to glance at these lists and think, “I value almost all of these in my life!” While it’s great to value so many positive things in life, it’s vital to discover your core values. Your core values are your top three to five values that guide your moral compass every day. They are your set of beliefs that influence how you treat yourself, how you treat others, and how you influence overall.

Nobody but yourself can choose your core values for you; they must resonate with you at your core and feel like second nature. These values support who you are as a unique individual. To choose your core values, first you need to look at a list. Consider your life experiences (both beautiful and painful), your accomplishments, how you behave naturally every day, who you want to be as you continue to grow, and people you admire and look up to. Can you identify any patterns? Maybe some of your core values are born out of some of the most painful moments in your life, or maybe you aspire to be more like your favorite mentor and want to hold their deepest value at your core as well.

If you struggle to figure this out, here is a free personal values assessment. Remember, with all assessments, you will need to determine how true the end result is for you. Keep a notepad next to you with all the values you hold and compare with the assessment result to see if you agree on these top five as your core values. I took the assessment result and found the assessment rang true for my core values: 1) Compassion 2) Health 3) Curiosity 4) Peace 5) Love.

Benefits of Identifying Your Core Values

As mentioned, the benefits of identifying your core values are vast. Along with guiding your moral compass and decision-making process, identifying and acknowledging your core values can help you achieve the following:

  • Find your purpose in life: What do you want to do and who do you want to be?
  • Guide behavior: When pursuing habit building and identifying your growth opportunities, discovering your core values makes it easier to behave authentically. Additionally, your core values will serve as your moral compass when dealing with difficult situations or people.
  • Increase your confidence: Your core values will make you feel more secure in yourself; the more you know yourself and the more you feel guided to make the right decisions in life for you, the more confident you will feel in yourself and those decisions.
  • Better decision making: This was mentioned, but your core values will help guide your decision-making, helping you make decisions that are best for you.
  • Establish your individuality: While there are certainly others who will share your values, chances are they won’t share all of them. You can further solidify the unique individual you are by fully knowing yourself, and that means you need to discover your core values.

Pursuing Your Core Values Daily

Once you have your core values, you should pursue them daily. Every decision you make, conversation you have, and thoughts you allow to permeate your mind should always come back to your core values. You can ask yourself every day if you are staying true to yourself and upholding your values. As we always say at The I in Team series, your influence is your single greatest responsibility as a human being. To pursue your most positive influence, strive to inject your core values into your thoughts, words, and actions.

When you discover your core values, you discover more of yourself. While we all value several things, the ones at our core become our guiding compass in life and allow us to make the best decisions, be confident in ourselves, and find our most positive influence. No two influences are the same, as no two people are the same. Grow into your individuality and own it authentically when you find, be, and build your core values.

Take the High Road

Take the High Road

Hi team! It’s your friend, Mary, with The I in Team Series where you can find, be, and build your positive influence. This week, I want to focus our attention on what it means to take the high road. Taking the high road is subjective to each of us; at The I in Team Series, we believe the high road is when you take the path that helps the most people and hurts the least amount of people. Sometimes taking the high road means leaving someone or something behind so you can continue to grow in your positive influence. It can mean swallowing your need to speak when the timing isn’t right or being patient while you give someone an extra five minutes of your time. Taking the high road is always taking the right road, but you must understand what that path means and how to find it.

Finding the High Road

The high road is always the right road, but sometimes finding it can be difficult. First, you must weigh the paths you have in front of you. Ask if these choices, and subsequent decisions, influence anyone other than you (most decisions do), and then ask which choice will produce the most positive influence. When taking the high road, remember to put yourself first if the decision will influence you the most. We believe that in order to give people your most positive influence, you must live life for yourself and put yourself first. Some may find this selfish; some will say this is taking the low road. Taking care of yourself so you can have a positive influence is anything but selfish. So, when considering the high road, you will need to take yourself into account first, and then evaluate which decision will positively influence the most people.

Making decisions can be difficult when you don’t know what the outcome will be, but you have to trust yourself to weigh the pros and cons and analyze the information you have. Be diligent and seek out more information and trust your instincts. Ask people you can trust for their opinion if you need an external source to weigh in. You may find that one day, you are walking on what you believe is the high road, but you may find yourself standing alone.

Walking the High Road

Walking the high road can be a lonely road, as most people find it difficult to take the high road. You may become unpopular and shunned by peers for the decisions you make in life, but if you know that it is your high road then you must stay true to yourself. Let’s digress to a story about a man named Nicolaus Copernicus, who was a mathematician and astronomer in the 1500s, and the first to suggest that the Earth and all the planets revolved around the sun, rather than the Earth being the center of our solar system. He made several great strides in astronomy, including correctly hypothesizing why planets go into retrograde.

However, this was at a time when everyone believed that the Earth was the center of the universe and that everything moved around a stagnant Earth. Copernicus was utterly rejected by society, thrown in prison, denounced by his faith, and all but killed for his ideas (which, most, were later proven to be true). At no point did Copernicus waiver from his findings, and he spent his life trying to help others see the truth about our world. He died being mocked and shunned by society and faith. We now know that the Earth does in fact revolve around the Sun. This is one of my favorite stories of human strength and will. It would have been easy to retract his statements to be accepted by society and his church, but he refused. He knew what was right and he died trying to teach others. There are high roads that you will walk alone, but you must keep empathy in your heart for those on the low road.

Observing the Low Road

Choose curiosity over judgement. Do not judge those who cannot see the high road, be curious as to why they can’t or why they refuse to walk it with you. Having empathy for those who are walking the low road is another form of taking the high road. Like Copernicus, the best you can do is speak what you believe to be true from your perspective. Educate others and encourage them to be curious. Do not view others as being judgmental when they ask questions in a tone that questions your position; appreciate that they are looking for knowledge and view them as curious, even if they can’t control their tone. Being on the high road means holding empathy for those who are not with you, whether they choose not to be or don’t know how. Just because others haven’t joined you on the high road yet, doesn’t mean they won’t. Taking the high road is the mark of a leader.


Taking the high road is always taking the right road. Whether it is to benefit yourself or to help others, your high road is always right. When faced with an opportunity to take the high road or the low road, envision your hands with one up and one down; the one up is the high road, the road that will bring the most positive influence to you or others, and the hand that is down is the low road, the road you take when you are not your best self (most likely to induce feelings of guilt later on). Taking the high road may seem scary, difficult, or impossible at times, but if Copernicus could do it in the 1500s, you can do it today.