I loved this video. It is a great reminder that facing our fears opens the door to becoming all that we dream. May you find your way to gratitude and acceptance of all you are!
I loved this video. It is a great reminder that facing our fears opens the door to becoming all that we dream. May you find your way to gratitude and acceptance of all you are!
Our world is presenting us with many challenges and opportunities at this time in history. As technology brings us both insight and misinformation at a frightening pace, it is more important than ever that we bring our best selves to whatever we do. To that end, I am reminded of Marianne Williamson's profound words from A Return To Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles:
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
It's time to shine your light. The world needs you now. What is stopping you?
It's no longer early January. And if you are like 50% of the population, you are beginning to slack off on the goals you set for this year. If so, try these five tips to help get you back on track:
1) Abandon all or nothing thinking:
Perhaps you planned to workout seven days a week, or you hoped to get a new job by February first - and now, those goals seem unrealistic. What about revising your plan to be more doable? So many of us set enormous expectations that set us up for failure. If we try to do too much too quickly, we can create goals that are very difficult to achieve and to maintain. And when we don’t meet our demanding standards, we give up all together. Consider instead, that if you are doing even 5% more toward your goal this year versus last year, you will make progress.
What about harnessing the power of small steps to kick-start your journey? Putting effort into your goal for even 15 minutes once a week is better than doing nothing at all. You can always add incrementally over time if you want to. Remember the tortoise and the hare? Slow and steady may be the best way to win your race.
2) Use Motivation to fuel willpower
Many of us think that if we just had enough willpower, we could move mountains. What we don’t understand is how to tap into our willpower. While you may be able to force yourself to do something for a while, if your heart isn’t in it, it’s not going to be sustainable. Motivation is the key that unlocks our ability to make good choices in difficult moments (aka “willpower”).
If you are seeking motivation, envision what outcome(s) you want for yourself. See yourself in your new body, your new role, or whatever it is that you want. Imagine how good it will feel to have what you desire. Visualize it, feel it in your body, and see it in your mind’s eye as if you already have it. Write it down, or create a vision board, and in some way, visit your hoped-for outcome daily.
With your vision in mind, it will be easier to make better choices. Find one to three things that you can do this week that support your goal. Make sure you feel at least 80 percent confident that you can get them done. If you don’t feel that confident, make the activities smaller and more achievable until you do. Then next week, do it again. Check in with yourself. How’s it going? Make modifications if needed.
Keep it up. There are many paths to your desired outcome and most of them won’t be straight lines. When your willpower starts to get shaky, revisit your vision (and perhaps use the next few tips as well)!
3) Ditch the negative self talk
Beating yourself up may seem to be a handy tactic for staying on track, but in the long-term, it’s demotivating. And since motivation (and feeling good about yourself) fuels willpower, self-compassion is a better alternative for self-correction. When you are relaxed and feeling like you are on your own team, it is easier to tap into your creative problem-solving ability.
Try this: If you “disappoint” yourself in some way, consider talking to yourself as of you were speaking to your best friend. What would you say? From that place of understanding and kindness, restore your faith in your ability to accomplish your goals and figure out your next move toward success.
4) Celebrate your accomplishments
When you make progress toward your vision, – no matter how small a step, you deserve a virtual self-hug. It’s important to take a moment to reflect and feel good about what you have done. In fact, give yourself a “HELL YES!” Your celebration doesn’t have to be a big deal, maybe it’s just a moment of reflection - or even 15 minutes of hard-earned down time. Small rewards reinforce our positive behaviors and makes manifesting our vision more fun. They keep us going.
5) Get honest and face your fears
Last but not least, if you find you just can’t seem to make it happen, get super honest with yourself. What is really holding you back from your next step? If you notice that you are frustrated and just can’t make any progress, consider digging more deeply into what fears and beliefs might be getting in the way.
Most of us have old behaviors from childhood that helped us cope with our world. Now that we are all grown up, many of those old strategies and beliefs don’t work too well any more. In fact, subconscious patterns can get us stuck in an endless loop that often leaves us feeling helpless. Frequently, those patterns are hard to recognize. If so, seek support.
Whatever you choose to do with this one sweet life, remember, you are here on this earth to contribute in your own unique way. With patience, perseverance and self-compassion, you can accomplish your dreams.
I have been lamenting my absence from social media of late, as well as my disruption in blogging. My anxiety level was climbing as my inner voice chanted, “You should be ……. You should do”… and on and on. Of course then my monkey mind rambled over to the dire consequences that await me: “You won’t have any friends, you won’t succeed, “ BLAH, BLAH, Blah Blah…"
I was getting angry with myself until I realized that there are only 24 hours in a day, and that I have to spend at least six of them sleeping.
“Shoulding” on yourself is not the way to joy or peace. I have come to believe that one’s true path to success and fulfillment on this planet is to become more aware of who we are; to rediscover everyday what an “inspired” life means for each of us. It is not something that anyone else can prescribe for you. Only you know what food, what work, what friendships and what pastimes most nurture you and allow you to bring the most joy and love to yourself and therefore, to the world. And if you or I are not arriving at this place of joy and love, then perhaps we need to ask ourselves, “Why not?”
Having realized that no one else can tell me how to live my “right” life, I have to put my big girl pants on and choose where to focus my energy. And some of those choices are painful! Why? Some behaviors are familiar and comfortable habits so they are hard to let go of (like wanting to be liked) and yet, they no longer serve me. And some are things that I enjoy, like hanging out on social media for hours, leave me insufficient time to pursue my soul’s passions.
Yup, change is challenging, but not embracing my soul’s desires with full engagement feels worse.
I am mourning many of the things that I will give up to get other things, and also celebrating the delights that I receive in so doing. These choices are becoming more important for me as I enter the second half of my life and I understand with greater clarity that my energy and my time on this earth are not unlimited.
I find I am beginning to appreciate the things I am doing more, and fretting less about the things that I am not. I am diving deep into my yoga studies and yoga teaching; I am offering NVC practice groups and workshops; I am coaching clients and fulfilling business agreements that bring me great satisfaction. I have been reading more, exploring a loving relationship and spending more time being mindful.
This feels good. This is my path. And I wonder, what is yours? What do you need to do to create a life that delights you and that serves the world? If you can’t do everything, what is stopping you from doing what you love?
It’s the busy holiday season, and there are more things on my to-do list than I can accomplish before year- end. As I say “yes” to the items on my list, I am actually saying “no” to some others. Whenever I accept an invitation, or take time to return a phone call, whatever I choose, I create my life.
When I commit to one romantic relationship, I essentially say “no” to another. When I say “yes” to tons of volunteer work and keeping a busy work and social schedule, I may be saying no to rest, exercise or other kinds of self-care. Sometimes it seems that there is no “right” answer. I want to do it all. I want to meet everyone’s needs as well as my own. So how do you know what to choose?
Some decisions are easier than others. The tricky ones play my emotions as if they were a musical score to a Broadway show - with joy, sorrow, and a whole range of seemingly conflicting feelings showing up.
For example, when I say no, I sometimes feel grief. I mourn what I give up, even when I am moving into something that will be more life affirming for me. My recent divorce is a case in point. While being divorced has allowed a world of possibility and freedom, I miss some of the predictability and ease of partnership. I am also noticing that holiday planning seemed less complicated back then
Would I go back? NO. Do I still feel the sadness of what I have lost and the joy at what I have gained? YES.
WTF? This is not what Hollywood promised! How are we able to hold sweetness, joy and sorrow all at the same time? And yet I know in my heart, that in this weird metamorphosis, I am where I need to be, moving in the direction that I need to go.
Because I am a curious human, I sometimes hunger to know the outcome of the choices I did not make. This is more commonly called “second guessing.” Other times, I hope to be assured of an outcome before I make a decision. That is very rarely possible and may lead to getting stuck!
What I’ve finally learned is that I cannot make decisions only with my brain, because it doesn’t have the answer. It has logic, which often has nothing to do with what I really want in my heart. And sadly, just trusting emotions is also not reliable, as those fickle friends usually show up in response to what I am thinking and can change with the wind.
My hard-won insight (after years of yoga, coaching, and nonviolent communication) is to rely more on the sensations in my body for decision making. For example, I can notice a sense of relaxation and calm that I feel when I find an answer that suits me best. It shows up as easier breathing, and lightness behind my eyes. I feel more open. On the other hand, when I am conflicted, I may feel tightness in my belly, my chest and/or my throat. My eyes feel tired.
My body is really smart. It seems to be able to dialogue with my heart and my mind in ways to gather wisdom that heart or mind alone cannot access. This kind of sensory feedback can take some mindfulness to observe, but it is available if you commit to noticing. Or, download here; THE BODY COMPASS video that will take you through a simple exercise that can help you create an internal guidance mechanism.
My hope for you is that you can begin to listen carefully and notice what your body says when you say “yes,” or you say “no.” Take your time, and trust yourself. Remember, in every moment, you decide how you live your life, and you also get another opportunity to try something different.
Best Wishes for a happy and healthy 2014.
If I had a dime for every self-deprecating thought that passed through my head in this lifetime, I would be rich beyond my wildest dreams. And my hunch is that many of you would be too. How many times did I think I was wrong, unlovable, dumb, lacking talent, and just not good enough?
What’s up with that? Sure we make mistakes and we’re not perfect. But who is? In fact, for the most part, we are good, decent people who wish to contribute to each other in meaningful ways.
So why are we so capable at beating ourselves up with negative talk?
Having spent much of my life seeking equanimity, I found this simple truth:
There is nothing “defective” or “flawed” about me - or you!
Rather, we are addicted to “stinking thinking!” Over the years, we’ve developed negative thinking patterns that inform our feelings, which in turn, motivate much of our behavior.
This is usually how it goes: thoughts lead to feelings, feelings lead to behaviors and behaviors lead to consequences. Consequences typically reinforce the thoughts that lead to feelings. And the cycle begins again.
We didn’t get here alone. We’ve had lots of help forming negative thoughts. Parents, family, media, and even teachers were among the many misinformed who helped us to develop ideas like “I’m not good enough” or “I should be different than who I was born to be.” Of course blaming others doesn’t solve anything, nor does passively awaiting rescue while we lick our wounds. What does help? Mindful awareness and curiosity. Can you stop judging yourself and wonder instead, “Why am I thinking this way? What do I really want?”
In short, the key is awareness and shifting perspective. Next time you notice a negative thought, can you question its validity and then reframe it? Generally, if you dig around, you will uncover a positive or protective desire underneath the feelings that lead to your behaviors. Once you know that, you can strategize how to better meet your needs.
Here are a few examples:
Translated, can you appreciate and acknowledge the good in you? Know that it is there. Most of us are just trying to do our best, as tender, vulnerable human beings. We are afraid of being hurt, or hurting others, of not being or doing enough, or maybe doing or being too much. Very few of us wake up and think “I want to do a crappy job today”, or “I want to act like a jerk.”
Can you begin to tease out the positive longings behind your negative feelings and behaviors? Can you name them with honesty and kindness for yourself and others? And maybe handle situations that arise in a more life affirming and productive way?
I can’t say that you can change this overnight, but just becoming aware of the possibility can start you on a path to joyful change. There are also lots of resources for healing and personal growth, including mindfulness practices, nonviolent communication, coaching and a host of therapeutic techniques. As you embark on this process, you can begin to alter neural pathways – and that means that behavior change can become progressively easier.
I wish you much joy, peace, and success! Here are some resources for you to explore on your journey to self-acceptance and self-realization:
Finding Your Own North Star, by Martha Beck
Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg
What Happy People Know by Dan Baker
Tags: nonviolent communication, coaching, contribute, kindness, character flaw, judging, behavior change, What Happy People Know, self-realization, curiosity, Martha Beck, beating ourselves up, equanimity, The Work of Byron Katie, Mediate Your Life, mindful, productive, unlovable, not good enough, negative thoughts, self acceptance
Conflict with someone you care about (or have to work with), can make the stakes for satisfactory resolution very high. How you handle the situation affects not only how you feel about yourself, but also how the other person feels about you. Swallowing your needs may lead to resentment. Lashing out may damage the relationship.
So how do you speak up for yourself, listen to the other person, and manage to keep an openhearted connection when you are in the middle of a heated disagreement?
Deepak Chopra says that through mindfulness, we can begin to develop ”the ability to calmly and objectively observe a situation, acknowledge when we are being triggered and choose how we want to respond. Instead of feeling stuck in knee jerk reactions and conditioned patterns of behavior, we free ourselves to make choices that will help us fulfill our deepest desires for love, fulfillment and happiness.”*
That really resonates for me. There are several mindfulness practices, including self-empathy that help me to consult my heart before acting on emotion. In so doing, I get the chance to express myself with compassion– for myself - as well as for the other person, rather than responding out of anger, guilt or fear.
Following this path doesn’t mean giving up on what you want. It also doesn’t mean ignoring the needs and wants of the other person either. Considering both sets of needs is important when you care about the relationship.
At times when it seems easier to clam up or lash out, consider whether either of those actions will deliver a peaceful, satisfying result. When the answer is no, investing the energy to calmly engage can be worthwhile. Once committed, here are some tips that can help guide you through a connected interaction:
And remember, with any important relationship, conflict resolution is not about winning. It’s about taking care of you while seeking solutions that meet needs for all involved parties. Take a deep breath - and good luck
*Quotation from Oprah Winfrey's 21-Day Relationship Meditation Challenge document Day 16.
Tags: relationship, heart, collaboration, compassion, curiosity, clarity, love, free, conflict resolution, meditation, Oprah Winfrey, avoid escalation, mindfulness, stressful, Tips, teleseminar, Deepak Chopra, resentful, happiness, resolution, fulfillment, emotion
I was recently sharing a story about three successive relationship changes I’d experienced when my friend observed that in fact, it seemed that each time I engaged, I learned more about what it is that I really want. I was instantly reminded of the wisdom of Goldilocks and how much I enjoy the first part of her story.
If you recall, in the opening sequences, Goldilocks figures out how she is feeling (hungry and tired) and looks to meet her needs. To do so, she goes exploring and finds an empty house that offers various options. She tries a little of each option, only to discover that there is one solution that works better for her than the others. Specifically, while one of the porridges is too hot, the other, too cold - there is one that is just right.
Isn’t that true about life? We don’t always know exactly what will meet our needs, so we may need to try a few different things to figure out what is just right for us. I love that idea. First we have to see how we feel, decide what that tells us about what we want and then we begin to research how we might fulfill our desires to create a life we love.
Instead of considering the things we try (and decide not to stick with) as wasted time, perhaps we can see them as critical steps along a path that informs us about our “right” path. Maybe that is why many second marriages or second careers can be more fulfilling than the first. It takes time to know who we are and what we want. Not only that, but our feelings and needs may also change over time. That requires us to engage in exploration many times over our lifetime in a variety of ways in order to determine where we want to go next. In short, experimenting and starting over, is a proven method for informed, creative life-long problem solving.
The places that the Goldilocks’ story breaks down for me, is the second half AND where she invades someone else’s belongings to get what she needs. There are endless opportunities for self-discovery that don’t involve coveting or destroying that which supports others.
So while the tale of Goldilocks’ wanderings offers some great insights, it could use a rewrite.
Why ruin the beautiful lesson about the value of exploration by intimating that our personal journey must disturb or even destroy someone else’s environment? When we explore, we don’t necessarily break other people things or use up all of their resources. In fact, many of our explorations benefit others and help them along their path of discovery. Rather than focusing our inner stories on punishment and shame because we might mess up someone else’s stuff, let’s focus on the benefits of searching for what fits us best.
One of the privileges of growing up is that we get to author our own stories. So, let’s figure out how to explore in ways that add to the lives of others. Believing that trying things out will result in punishment is simply a children’s story; one that is desperately in need of a rewrite.
Tags: love, needs, desires, punishment, creative, problem solving, wisdom, relationships, life, insights, rewrite, exploration, feelings, self-discovery, beautiful, discovery, shame, lesson, careers, Goldilocks, life-long
“If you were sure you would succeed, what would you do in your life?” is a question that almost always provokes a very clear and meaningful answer from coaching clients who say they feel stuck and they aren’t sure what they want.
This no longer surprises me. Somehow, taking the possibility of failure out of the equation frees us to dream and to dream big. It happens time and time again, because in short, most of us are afraid to fail. It is astonishing how a four-letter word can wield so much power over our lives.
Perhaps it is a stigma that we start learning in grade school that comes with the fear of failing to pass a subject or a test. These early encounters teach us the habit of imprisoning ourselves with terror and shame should we be called out for failing. I prefer to frame the word according to actor Gary Bussey’s definition: “You know what 'FAILING' stands for? It stands for 'Finding An Important Lesson, Inviting Needed Growth.”
When I think about what it means to fail, I think Bussey is right. Isn’t trying and failing and then trying again how we learn our most basic and meaningful lessons, like walking, talking and riding a bike?
Certainly, when we are learning a new sport and we make mistakes, we don’t consider ourselves to be failures. We expect that we will keep working and honing our skills – or we may decide that we don’t have any skill in a particular sport or a subject and we will try something else. Its’ all a learning process that we readily accept – and yet, when the stakes get higher, like when we are pursuing a lifelong dream, so often the dread and anxiety of failure keeps us from moving forward.
So when we conceive of the word “failure” as a shameful label it seems to assume that we only get a limited number of tries at something or that there is only one acceptable solution. It gives us no credit for learning and for gaining valuable experience over time.
To that end, can we reframe how we use the word “fail”? What would it be like to strike the word from our vocabulary? Imagine if our report cards could say, “incomplete knowledge “when we don’t pass a subject or a test. Or, maybe they could say, “more progress required for completion. “
For me that approach feels more motivating. Suddenly, “I’m no good at math,” becomes – “Maybe I can go back and explore that subject in a different way.” The language shift offers us an invitation to continue to pursue, rather than shaming us into hiding and hopelessness.
And I also realize that you may be one of those folks who openly embrace failure. That is awesome! Perhaps you can be a role model for the rest of us. According to Inventor Thomas Edison, “Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”
My hope is that you won’t be one of the people that Edison is talking about. Keep the faith. Giving-up is how we fail.
As a career and wellness coach, I talk to clients all the time who want to feel happier and more successful in their lives. Maybe they have to pick a college, a job, or decide whether to stay in a relationship. Most of the time, they start from the outside and try to force fit themselves into something they aren’t good at or they don’t enjoy. They do it for the money, or to please mom or dad or to avoid being weird. Often, they choose organizations that aren’t supportive of them, or surround themselves with people that don’t or can’t appreciate them for who they are. If any of this sounds familiar, (about you or someone you know) then here are five suggestions to consider:
1) Know who you are.
Get clarity about what you are good at, and also about what do you love to do. Consider all your skills and love. None of them are too small or too insignificant to count. Figure out if, or where those characteristics overlap. Maybe they don’t. On the other hand, how might you include both in your life? Could you put them together in a new and different way to invent something unusual? For example, maybe you are a skilled accountant and love listening to music, could you become an accountant for a radio station, a band or a performing arts organization?
2) Embrace and enhance your talents.
Once you know what you are good at, realize that it is not an accident. You are a unique expression of creativity in the universe. You have gifts. You have a style. Go with it. If you are a writer, write. A great caregiver? Give care. A maker? Make. A teacher? Teach. A good listener? Listen. Don’t fight it – appreciate it. Whatever you have to offer, I assure you, it is worthwhile. And, like a garden, if you tend to it, it will blossom into something beautiful that will bring joy to you and to others.
3) Invest Yourself in opportunities (and people) that fit with your special and unique gifts.
Success is all about “fit.” Find jobs, causes, people and/or organizations that will benefit from your skills and gifts. Seek to spend time with people and causes that you believe in. Go to them and offer your gifts. Develop your talents; hone them and make them grow. Even if what you choose is not your primary money making endeavor, invest time and energy because it will feed your soul. Wherever possible, surround yourself with people who appreciate you. Find a tribe. Even a single supportive friend or a pet can be enough companionship to give you the courage to align your life with your spirit. Commit to spending way less time with people who don’t encourage and support you.
4) Accept that learning is continuous.
Just because you are following your heart and taking care of yourself, doesn’t mean that everything will go smoothly. This is life. Things go wrong; circumstances change. Maybe you thought you really wanted to organize projects – so you took a desk job - and then found out that you are miserable unless you are doing lots of physical activity. It’s okay! It’s just new information. Go back to step one and two and then back to step three. Get creative. Don’t beat yourself up. No need for regret. Do what you need to do. Ask for support. Life is a journey; death is a destination.
5) Change it up as needed.
Making change can be difficult. As a human, you will likely only choose to change once the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of changing. No matter. Once you are ready to make a change, go for it. Try something new. Look for the best fit – whether it’s a college, a relationship, a home or a job. It’s your life. It’s your happiness. Don’t squander any of it. Find a place that you can land and that feels like home. It may be challenging, but it will be worth it. Your real job in this life is to be yourself and to have fun doing it. Start by acknowledging your gifts and by loving who you are.