LOVE IS THE OPPOSITE OF FEAR
What I have learned is that feeling anxious has never, ever, ever, helped me to resolve a problem, feel better or to be happier. Anxiety is absolutely, completely unhelpful to me. Similarly, being afraid has rarely ever helped me make a good decision, move towards a good solution, have more abundance, connect with people in a position to help me with my problem, or to feel better. I find being afraid absolutely, completely unhelpful to me.
[That’s nice Dr. Deborah. I agree with you. But, I still feel anxious and afraid. So, what can be done about that?]
Right, I was pretty sure that was coming next. It is an excellent question and the answer is something that we each have to figure out for ourselves. Here is what works for me 98% of the time:
~Focus on your wants, not your don't wants. Practice positive intentions. Practice, practice, practice.
~We can change our anxious thoughts any number of ways – distract ourselves with a positive activity (go to a place of worship or healing , yoga, meditation), remind ourselves that anxiety never improved any situation, talk to someone who is upbeat and believes in your abilities, avoid watching or listening to things that touch your sensitivities in an unhelpful way, surround yourself with positive messages, thoughts and people, and remind yourself that you are capable of coming through unknown, difficult times (as you’ve done it before).
~Realize that being afraid is meant to help you when your life is being threatened in the moment. Is your life being threatened in the moment? Usually not.
~Fear is the biggest lie of all lies. All negative emotions and thoughts come from fear(s). Love is the greatest truth of all and it is the exact opposite of fear. All good things that happen in this world come from love. All positive emotions, thoughts and feelings come from love. Go towards love.
~Remember that you are love. Your being (Spirit, Soul or whichever you prefer) is love. Your God, higher power, and Universe are all love. Love brings light and hope into our lives.
~Remember that your God promises to be with you in good times and hard times. Your God will protect your Soul and provide you with what you need, when you need it. It might not turn out the way you think it will, so practice accepting that.
~Pray for and ask for help. Somewhere in this world, someone cares about what you are going through and wants to help you. You can’t find them if you lay in bed or on the couch all day.
~Go out and find the help you need. Somewhere, someone is waiting to help you. Seek them out.
~No matter the challenges you face, someone else has gone through this before. They’ve overcome it. Let them be a friend or mentor you through this tough time. Let them help you.
~Promise yourself that you intend to break up with anxiety or fear as soon as it tries to get with you. Say, “Nope, you are not welcome here unless you are coming from a place of love that I find helpful. I only hang out with love. Bye-bye useless, unhelpful emotion.”
In all, when I realize these emotions are not coming from a place of love and healing and I’m willing to admit that they are absolutely, completely unhelpful to me, I can usually get on the track towards love very quickly. Also, I find that looking for resources to help me with my problem to be very helpful. I don’t wait for those solutions to find me – I seek them out.
Everything will always turn out okay in the end, even though we might not see that right now.
You are safe. You are love. You are loved.
WHY I DON’T BELIEVE IN RESCUING PEOPLE
All of us were born with awesome raw talents; gifts that we hopefully discover during the course of our lives. There are also skills that we learn along the way that make us even more amazing! Sometimes we forget that we have talents or that we’ve learned skills that can help us. We panic and put on quite a show. In our fearful moments, all we want is to be rescued. Somebody, please help!
I come from a family of five children. One Saturday morning, my younger brother and I were fishing in a large canal behind our house by ourselves. My brother was being quite daring in his determination to get a fish; often leaning far over the bank to cast his cane pole into the brown murky water. Suddenly, the red and white bobber on his fishing line went under. In his excitement over catching a fish, he lost his balance and fell into the canal!
He immediately began screaming for me to help him. He was flailing his arms about and going under the water! This made no sense to me since I had spent hundreds of hours with him in the swimming pool and at the beach. My brother knew how to swim like a fish but yet, he appeared to be drowning!
Without thinking, I immediately jumped into the canal to rescue my brother. The canal had been dredged to have straight, non-sloping sides, which made it difficult to get in and out of without a rowboat. It was certainly deeper than I was tall…my toes only scraped the bottom when my face was completely underwater.
I confidently swam towards my brother, and when he saw me in the canal, he began to quickly swim towards me. But, then a strange phenomenon happened. When we reached each other, he climbed on top of me, effectively holding me under water. Now I was the one that was in danger of drowning.
I quickly realized what was happening, and thankfully; owing to my being much older and big for my age, I was able to wrestle him off of me, and to surface. Then, I shouted at him to swim to the canal bank, “Swim, swim!” and he did.
Years later, I would learn from my husband (who is a rescue swimmer and professional diver), this behavior is common and to be expected in someone who thinks they are drowning. The victim will climb on the rescuer, possibly drowning them both.
Acting as an experienced coach (and not a big sister), I also know that when a client is panicking, they are like my brother in the canal wanting desperately to be rescued. He or she only needs to remember that they have the raw talent and learned skills they need to move themselves from the deep to the safety of the bank. If I “jump in” and try to “rescue” him or her, I will not be successful in helping the client realize his or her own abilities.
Sometimes, new skills or new habits must be learned to get you to where you want to go. Often, there are not instant fixes, you know; the kind of thing you’re hoping for when you want to be rescued. And, I know that is frustrating when you want change right away. Coaching is a service to help you efficiently move in the direction you want to go, leveraging your talent, skills and abilities in the process. If you need to learn new skills, your coach will guide you during the learning process.
Coaching isn't a personal rescue service from the coach; it’s a service to help the client realize their own abilities to help themselves. That’s a pretty powerful option and ultimately, why I don’t believe in rescuing people.
UNCONDITIONAL LOVE REQUIRES NO FORGIVENESS
Think of someone you would make a vow of unconditional love to – who might that be? Is it a spouse; a child; or a parent? You make that vow with good intentions, don’t you? But, people are human and they are going to do human things. Suddenly, he or she isn’t there for you when you need them. Being human, he or she is eventually going to do something that seems, to you, unforgivable. So, when he or she does that unforgivable thing, where will you stand with that person?
You have choices. Will you stand in unconditional love? Or, will it be judgment and blame? If you let yourself get sucked into a vortex of negative and controlling thinking and behavior, you will not be able to be compassionate and loving. Suddenly, the idea of unconditional love is out the window.
Here’s what it can look like when it unfolds:
“But wait! That person really upset or embarrassed me! Am I supposed to just forgive and forget?” No, what I am saying is if you judge, you will believe there is something to forgive. You will put yourself in the position of having to forgive or not. Unconditional love suddenly becomes highly conditional love.
“Since you won’t do this, you don’t get my love. If you upset me, I disown you.”
To see how that’s working for you in your own life, take a long look at it. Are you surrounded by love, have a just a few people you love, or are you mostly alone?
You see, when we put ourselves in a position of judge and jury, we suddenly have put ourselves in a position where something needs to be forgiven. We somehow have come to think that we need to control others, judge them, teach them a lesson, or to punish them for their misdeeds. Of course, those are some of your options but, I promise you, none of those paths will bring you to the experience of unconditional love. And, the more judging, controlling and punishing you are (“I will isolate myself so no one can ever hurt me again”), the farther away you get from the experience of unconditional love.
Notice the judging tendencies you might have (we all have them). Take notice of when you start judging. There is a man begging for money on the street corner. Can I pass him by without evaluating him? Can I give him some money without suspecting him of being an addict or mentally ill? Why does that matter, anyway? Can I be in a place where I practice sending him love and positive energy, and that’s all?
Yes, I know we regular humans are not Jesus, Muhammad, a Buddhist monk or Mother Teresa’s pupil, but just as these human have, we can all learn how to love others unconditionally through practice.
Giving unconditional love does not put you in a place of vulnerability. It does not require that you let people walk all over you; quite the contrary. Unconditional love does not require that you stay in a relationship with someone if it’s not working for you.
It is simply maintaining positive regard for another human without judging. And it requires no forgiveness.
IS STRESSFUL THINKING RUNNING YOUR LIFE?
It's seems I can't write my book on this topic fast enough for some of my followers and I can only take on so many coaching clients, so, I thought I would take a moment and (hopefully) provide you with a few things that might help you today.
It will take some time and practice on your part to learn how think less (the true of stress) and experience your life as joyful and exciting. For now, you can be curious and begin some simple exercises to learn more about yourself and how you can experience fewer stressful moments.
Today, let's start with what comforts you instead of what makes you angry or upset. When I feel myself losing patience or feeling irritated, I congratulate myself for noticing before I go too far and then, I flip myself quickly.
What? Yes, I flip my thoughts around to happy thinking by
immediately do something that makes me happy or smile. Getting to happy thoughts is a little different for each of us.
My top two ways are:
1. Closing my eyes. Picturing, one by one, all of the people I love, from the oldest to the youngest, smiling at me. I hold each persons smile in my mind for a few seconds. [Get through that one without feeling joy and love - not possible]
2. Going outside to my garden, the beach or the park. I watch nature and other people. I drink every detail in. When I return to a peaceful state, I pick an object up off the ground and add it to pile of objects I've collected from previous occasions. When I see my collection of tokens, it serves as a reminder of how many times I have successfully flipped my thinking. I happy that I'm practicing and I am gaining skills.
Let me know your ideas...what helps you flip from stressful thoughts to happy thoughts?
I wish you peace and joy this weekend!
LOSING A JOB CAN BE THE FIRST STEP TO A NEW BEGINNING
If you are fortunate enough to have been in the workforce for a number of years, you may have had the experience of being laid off or fired. That’s a tough time – worry creeps in. How will I pay for everything? Why did “they” do this to me? Will people think I’m a loser? What will happen next?
Believe it or not, what happens next is largely up to you. Looking back at the events leading up to your unemployment and spending your days obsessing over this wrong doing is a sure way of depleting your precious energy in a hurry. Choose that powerless victim role and you’ll find yourself lying on the couch in the middle of your own ugly pity party.
Focus all of your energy on the present and you’ll be gaining momentum in no time! It’s not unusual for highly functioning people to want to spring into action and figure out their next step very quickly. Don’t be in too big of a hurry to “fix” it though. Take time to reflect on the options that are realistic and align with your goals and values. Look for resources that are available to help you design a future that feels like a new beginning instead of an unfair ending.
WHY I AM STILL SO ANGRY?
Someone recently asked me a very good question, "I wonder why I'm still so angry about that when it happened so long ago?"
It's certainly good to be curious about our feelings and emotions because these often drive our choices and behaviors. Most of us have been through some traumatic events in life...things we wish had not happened to us; things we wish we had not done or rather, had done. We know we can't go back and change those things. In fact, no one can. All we can do is move forward. But, we human beings are complicated creatures. Instead of moving forward, sometimes we hold on. If we can't hold on to a person or regain the time of innocence or peace, we find something we can hold onto.
You guessed it>>>blame, shame and of course, one of our favorites; our ANGER.
Being curious about why we are so attached to holding onto our anger allows us to get to what we are really trying to hold onto. If you find yourself holding onto your anger over a situation, ask yourself this, "What do I gain by holding onto this anger? What am I avoiding by holding onto this anger?" Understanding why you are so attached to your anger is a good first step in letting go of your anger.
Life Coaching doesn't look at the past...it is designed to move you forward towards the life you want to live. It takes learning new skills, new ways of looking at the world and your life, and then, practicing what you have learned every day.
Keep being curious, keep learning.
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT?
Th e other night, as I stood rinsing a dish out in my daughter’s kitchen, I saw a doe and a fawn no more than 20 feet from her back door. I was transfixed for just a few moments and watched them as they walked out of sight. Then, a large buck jumped into the yard from across the creek.
The next evening, I saw two large turkeys in nearly the same spot walking closely along the creek’s edge. My daughter’s family sees this all the time. The kids weren’t too impressed by my excitement.
It reminded me of my friends’ visits to South Florida, where there are so many varieties of tropical plants, especially palm trees, that many are enchanted by the environment. Add the ocean and an ocean breeze and you have heaven on Earth. Many people leave Florida planning to somehow move to Florida.
Whether it is nature, people, or places, we must be careful not to treat something extraordinary as trite. Every day we can find something close to us to be inspired or touched by. If you find that hard, simply look through the eyes of a visitor.
It Is What It Is
There is just no point in trying to change my life. My Mom was right. I’ll never amount to anything good. My father was right. I have to lie in this bed I’ve made. I know my husband will never stop drinking. I know my girlfriend won’t stop being abusive. I know my father will never speak to me again. I know my sister will never say she is sorry. I know I’ll never climb out of this situation. I can’t undo the fact that I was abandoned. It’s not my fault that I treat women like objects. My boss is a total selfish jerk. I’ve always been fat. I never attract good men. So, I accept it. Accepting this fate makes it hurt less and I don’t have to take any responsibility for the condition of my life. Accepting the situation seems to be the most practical thing for me to do at this point.
Wow, did you hear what you just said? What I hear is this: It has always been this way and I don’t know how to change my situation. So, I’ve decided to give up.
The good news is this: the people in your life don’t know everything and neither do you. Consider that you might be wrong about certain aspects of your situation. In fact, you could be very wrong! (You’ve been wrong before, right?)
Just because you haven’t been successful in changing your circumstances and the way you perceive the world up to this point doesn’t mean you can’t. Age doesn’t matter. You will definitely need new skills though. I have never seen someone make important changes in their life without learning new skills and practicing these. The quality of your life isn’t based on being lucky. It is based on what you think and what you do.
So, if you think your life can’t be different, I guess that’s true in a way. If you still have some hope and are willing to try a new approach with some new skills, there is that option too.
I BELIEVE IN YOU AND YOUR ABILITY TO MAKE IMPORTANT CHANGES IN YOUR LIFE.
Careful: Your Self-respect is Showing
This is going to scare some of you a little because I know it startled me when I first came to understand this…YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH YOURSELF DETERMINES YOUR PERSONAL DESTINY. Well, I should explain it better:
According to Cherie Carter-Scott, PhD, your relationship with yourself is the place from which your entire personal destiny manifests itself. Everything you do or do not have in your life, all are a direct result of the quality of relationship you have with yourself. The way you hold yourself, carry yourself, treat yourself, and care for yourself – these all send a personal message to the world about who you are, what you deserve and how you should be treated by others.
In short, what you think about yourself is what determines your destiny.
The reason this is a scary concept for us is because it means that we have to take responsibility for our own life. Yes, we may have our spirituality for much needed guidance and support, but in the end, our life is always our own personal responsibility. That means that for all the things that are going right and wrong in your life, you play a role in it. That’s a very inconvenient concept for me when I first encountered it because I was very skilled at blaming others for what wasn’t going right in my life. The idea of having to accept personal responsibility for all of it, good and bad, felt like another rude awakening that I just didn’t need.
So, like any scientist, I decided to test this concept.
I walked into the office downtown office building for the open job interview and my stomach hurt immediately. Negative thoughts were running wild in my head, “Look how many people there are. They all have black or blue suits; why did I choose brown and turquoise? They all look smarter than me.”
And then, I stopped myself. I thought about my relationship with myself and decided to show myself some self-respect! I coached myself. “Girl, you stand out. That’s what you want. You don’t look good in black, that’s why you wore brown. You are very qualified for this job. They are going to love and you are going to get the job offer.”
Out of the 43 people that interviewed for the position, I was one of two that was offered a job. It worked.
It’s not always easy to calm your inner negative voice and to treat yourself with the respect and honor you deserve. We developed some nasty, self-defeating thoughts on the way to adulthood. But, with much practice, you can become the master of a better destiny for yourself. Next time you hear self-defeating thoughts in your head, try showing yourself some more respect and notice how it works for YOU.
TEN Ways To KEEP A Problem
Oh, I know I’ve talked about this one before, but the messages I’ve been getting from you all lately inspire me to bring this subject up again.
We all have problems. We have all kinds of problems. We could even have a problem contest! However, no one would win. Trust me on that one!
According to Dave Ellis, in his breakthrough book Falling Awake, there are eight ways you can ensure that you keep your problems. I've added a 9th and 10th:
#1 DENY IT: If you don’t deal with a problem effectively, it won’t go away. I promise. It will keep coming back at you. OK, maybe you don’t know what to do about it yet, but, consider facing it. Remember, just because you don’t face it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
#2 AVOID IT: Kind of like #1 but much more disruptive to your life. The energy you can spend avoiding facing a problem can really
take more out of your energy than facing and tackling it. (I know that is hard to believe)
#3 RESIST IT: Emotional resistance…you don’t want to feel a certain way, so you resist your feelings, deny them, and shove them away.
This does work for a while, but then, the feelings come back. Resistance equals persistence!
#4 FIX THE BLAME FOR IT: If you hear yourself quick to blame someone else, you might feel better at first, however, in the end, you
know the truth. You won’t wake up in the morning feeling better because you deflected blame. It’ll still be your problem.
#5 EXPLAIN IT: Some of us find explaining a problem to someone else more satisfying as solving it. I’m curious…what does that change?
#6 BE “RIGHT” ABOUT IT: Did you know that many people will choose being right over being happy? I’m not happy that my father and I
do not have a relationship, but dammit, he was wrong to say that to me. I know I’m right about that. Yep, you are right, but now you don’t
have a relationship with your father. Does that make you happy?
#7 SAY THAT NOTHING CAN BE DONE ABOUT IT: He’ll never change. This is just my lousy life. I give up; I give in. I really don’t know of a more
perfect way to hang onto a problem than that!
#8 BE A MARTYR ABOUT IT: If you use your problems as a way to gain attention and sympathy from others, you are being a martyr. If you
complain that no one asks you out on Saturday night, you are being a martyr. You have options…what are they?
#9 ATTACH TO THE PROBLEM: Talking about it isn’t enough for you. You worry about it. You dream about it. You think about it all the time.
The problem has no chance of getting away from you because you have such a tight grip on it. How’s that working for you?
#10 YOU WON’T STOP CONTROLLING: This is a combination of 1-9 above and then some. Somehow, you have it in your head that you alone are
the only person that cares enough to do something about this problem. You can’t let go and trust that things always do work out in the end.
You tend to think the world won’t run right without you in the driver’s seat.
So, what do you do with your problems then?
Here's where you have to close your eyes for a second. Imagine that you are at a celebration and everyone is up and dancing. People are very
animated and enjoying dancing with each other, taking turns to make different moves. People are passing from one person to another. You are
engaged, but not emotionally attached to the outcome of the dancing. Imagine what that feels like. Imagine what it looks like.
Next time you see a problem coming your way, don’t embrace it. Dance with it! Show the problem that you’ve got moves, but you are not going
to stand still with it. Laugh at it. Remember, attachment is not an option. If you hold onto it in any way, it can’t get away from you.
HOLDING ON TO HURT
A man just told me about a new hard rock song he just loves. Oh, what’s the song about? It’s about a guy who falls in love with this woman. He gives everything he has to her and everything he can think of, but still, she leaves him for another man. The man in the song feels the woman can’t be satisfied and is angered by how she used him to try and be satisfied with her life. The chorus of the song repeats over and over that he doesn’t wish her ill, but nor does he want her to be satisfied. The guy in the song is hanging on to the hurt.
Nearly all of us have been hurt by someone else in the past. But, here are the ways we hurt our own selves in these situations:
We Attach- We analyze the situation over and over again. We label the other person with nasty words. We talked about them and the situation in infinite detail. We drag other people into it and make them listen to anything we want to say. We listen to songs that remind us of the miserable situation. We may even begin a new friendship with someone like that person! We bask in the misery of the situation. We attach and hold on to the situation. And how does that make you feel?
We Act Righteous – I never did this, I never did that, I always did this, I always did that, she always did that. Is being your kind of right helpful to you? What do you gain from being right?
We Won’t Forgive – This is where you hang on to this hurt forever. So, ask yourself, “Why I am attached to hanging onto this hurt forever? How does this hanging on benefit me? What am I getting out of this?”
You don’t have to hang on to a hurt for the rest of your life. You can decide to let it go. Anyday. The universe is waiting for you to reclaim your joy.
HEY! Where Are You Going In Such A Hurry?
One of the most common reasons people seek out a life coach is because they are either thinking about making a change in their life or a big change was thrown onto them. They are usually looking for someone to help them figure out what to do next. And, they want to go run out and fix things as fast as they can. Before we spring into action, it’s often a good idea to reflect on what we really need for our life.
Travel experts often give this advice about planning for a trip:
Make two piles of things to bring with you.
In the first pile, stack all the clothes and toiletries you think you will need. In the second pile, stack all the money you think you will need. Then, put half of the clothes back in your drawers and pack twice the money.
We can apply this idea to working our way through life’s changes.
You will need only half of the information about who did what, who’s at fault, why someone did something to us, why someone said something bad about us…blah, blah, blah. However, you will need twice the information you thought you would need about yourself.
For example, if the company you were working for went out of business and you found yourself unemployed; you might react by talking about the mistakes made by the owner. Then you might move on to searching the want ads for months for the same exact position at another company. That is certainly one option.
Another possible option is to look forward only and to consider what you like to do, what you know and what type of people you want to work with, and then look for work that lines up with those things. According to Richard N. Bolles in What Color Is Your Parachute?, most people fail to find their dream job because they have too much information about the market and do not have enough information about themselves.
So, you see, real change actually starts with you. The better you know yourself, the better the decisions you will be able to make as you navigate the changes in your life. Let's slow it down out there people!
IS IT THE END OR A NEW BEGINNING?
Man, losing a job can be tough on the old ego. Lots of emotions too! How do you keep yourself from focusing on how you are feeling so you can be productive and positive?
1.Stop talking about what happened. Once you’ve gotten it off your chest a time or two, be done with it. Put what happened aside and move on mentally. Nothing good can come from rehashing or reliving such an unpleasant experience.
2. Get excited about what you CAN do. Now nothing is in the way of all of the other things you wanted to do with your life’s time. I love to garden (see my pic above) and read and oh, about 100 other things. Now I get to do those things!
3. Do something amazing! Like, get up every morning. Or help someone who needs help. You make this one up. I’m looking at the surfboard in the garage and trying to remember the last time I went surfing…hmmm.
4. Practice positive intentions. Watch the film THE SECRET. Focus on what you want instead of what you don’t want. That goes like this, “Oh house, you are awesome. You and I are going to be together a long time.” OR “I will have all the money I need to take care of my family.” Monitor your thoughts and words carefully. What you think becomes a thing. You get the point.
5. Throw a party. Invite your friends over. Ask everyone to bring food to share. Hanging around with people who love and appreciate you is a sure fire mood lifter. Hey, throw in a sleepover too!
Look, I’m not saying it’s going to be easy to be strong and positive when you might feel like the universe isn’t being fair. It’s just hard right now, but realize that it won’t be hard forever. And admit this; you really don’t know what’s going to happen in the future, so worrying about the future probably won’t be very helpful either. You got this!
I Walked Off The Edge Of A Cliff Yesterday
When I became a teenager, my parents let me move into a little bedroom we had in the back of the house. It was all a kid could want! I had my own bed (not one I had to share with a sibling), an antique wardrobe to hang my clothes in and my own radio. It was during that time that I began to have the most AMAZING dreams. I began to dream that I was able to fly! Whenever I wanted, I could effortlessly lift myself up and away over the rooftops and lawns of our neighbors. They could see me too. If they weren’t scared, I could take their hand and they could fly with me. Soon, my confidence in flying became so strong that I flew away from our neighborhood and into new towns and cities. I really looked forward to those exciting dreams.
I don’t know when I stopped dreaming about flying, but I know I did. Maybe it was because I got married, had kids, worked, had mean bosses, was disappointed with life…whatever, I don’t really have the answer as to why I stopped dreaming of flying.
But, I do know life happens and sometimes WE let life get in the way of our dreams. Of that, I’m sure. I became very curious about why I stopped dreaming of flying and I decided that I was going to explore that on my next day off.
Maybe I’m already on my way? Yesterday my boss showed me the front door and told me not to come back. As I stepped outside with my cardboard box in my hands, I had the sensation that I was stepping off of the edge of a cliff. My stomach lurched and my hands were trembling. Then, the most amazing thing happened. I looked up at the perfect blue sky. I smiled with sincere gratitude. A beautiful cool breeze blew and caught my wings just as they were opening. I was flying AND I wasn’t even dreaming.
Life and the people in it can’t take our dreams from us. Our dreams can’t be beaten out of us or sued out of us. We, alone, are responsible for abandoning or embracing our dreams. My hand is held out to you. Will you take it and fly with me?
Happy Earth Day!
There is more to Earth Day than planting another tree, which is nice, but not quite the entire point. I'll admit that I'm still being educated on ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle. I remind myself that even if we aren't very motivated to make big changes in the way we interact with the world, the little changes we make can make a big difference.
Every day I drive past two landfills, not once, but twice. I pinch my nose and distract myself for a few moments, but hey, who I am kidding? Those giant landfills are there because we create so much rubbish. I'm part of the problem!
We recycle and or reuse plastic, glass, clothes, shoes, books, electronics and furniture. We've stopped our hyperconsumerism. I drive a six year old car when I can't ride my bike. What else can I do?
So, a good friend inspired me to tackle composting again. I was excited when she brought me a setup for a making compost worm tea. You create a compost bin, add paper, cardboard, fruit and vegetables scraps. You order your worms. You add the worms to the compost container and keep the mixture damp. This process creates a tea that you use to water and fertilize your herbs, fruit plants, vegetable plants and flowering plants.
I'm excited about this new approach to managing our fruit, vegetable and paper waste (because we do have a lot). I can't wait to use the tea on my new herb garden. I'm ordering my worms this week!
Happy Earth Day friends. :O)
LIFE IS SOMETIMES HARD. HOW DO I KEEP GOING?
When faced with difficult circumstances, why do some people falter and spiral towards self-destruction while others survive and even thrive once the storm has passed? No one is immune to adversity, but some people seem to be better able to cope with and recover from even the most strenuous conditions. At the core of their strength is a mindset that allows them to carry on through thick and thin. Fortunately, this mindset is no secret. Emotional resiliency has been written about, studied and even measured, revealing some insights as to how anyone can be strong. Importantly, you get these skills through practice, practice, practice. Nope, peace and tranquility are not a gifts bestowed upon us from from above. We have to build some skills!Here are some possible ways to build your own emotional resiliency and inner strength:
Remember that you are in control. No matter what your circumstances, there are things you can control and things you can't. The key is to focus on the things you can control. Make a list of all the things that are troubling you, then make a list of all the things you can do to make each situation better. Accept the items on the first list (they are what they are) and move on to focus your energy on the second list.
Choose your attitude. Sometimes you may encounter situations in which you are really are helpless to affect change, but you are still in control, because no matter what, you can always control your attitude towards life and your thoughts. As Victor Frankl put it: "We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way." Regardless of what is happening, practice the power of your positive intention. If somebody is making your life miserable, don't let them crush your spirit. Continue to be proud and have hope and remember that these are the things that no one can take away from you. "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."
Try not to let a crisis or hardship in one area of your life "spill over" into other areas of your life. If you're facing great difficulty with work, for instance, don't behave irritably towards your significant other when they've done nothing but try to help. Eliminate the "side effects" of your hardship by controlling your own attitude. Resilient people do not "catastrophize" every setback, nor do they let negative events follow a domino effect through their lives.
Have faith in yourself. You've made it this far. You can make it through just one more day. And if you take it just one day at a time, or even one moment at a time, you can survive whatever you're going through. It won't be easy, and you're not invincible, so take baby steps. When you feel like you're about to fall apart, close your eyes and take a deep breath. Meditate or pray. Tell yourself "I can handle this." Once you've centered yourself, open your eyes and take one more step forward, even if it's a tiny one.
Pick your battles wisely. You're going through a lot right now; don't cling to ideals and concerns that will break you rather than make you. This is as good a time as ever to avoid sweating the small stuff. Whittle your life down to a few core values that mean the world to you and don't worry about anything else right now. Some people think it's holding on that makes one strong- sometimes it's letting go that makes you even stronger.
Reach out. Spend time with friends and family who are supportive and positive. If no one is available, make new friends. And if there are no friends to be found, help others who are in greater need than you are. Sometimes when we feel like we can't better our own situations, we can find strength in bettering someone else's, and we can also gain perspective on our own lives. "I cried because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet."
Be thankful. Life is tough, but if you look closely enough, you'll find and infinite number of things to be grateful for. Even if the things that made you happy in the past are gone, there's so much more to appreciate still. The joy you derive from the world around you is the fuel that'll push you through the hardest of times, so pay attention to what you have and enjoy it for what it's worth. Sure, you might not have that new shirt, or whatever it is you want, but at least you have this computer, with the internet, or you wouldn't be seeing this. You know how to read, you probably have a house, and the Internet you are using is obviously paid for. Some people can't read, have no computer and no home. Think about that.
Nothing is permanent - Always remember, nothing is permanent in this mortal world. If you are going through a difficult phase or time, you have to tell yourself constantly that this is also not permanent and is bound to go away some other day (or maybe even today).
You are a person that is making his or her way in the world. Be proud of that...you are still breathing and by now, you are probably wondering what you'll be eating for supper tonight.
Giving Up Control At Work
Having emotional control at work is essential to your health and happiness. It's essential to the well-being of your co-workers as well. Who likes working with someone that is always complaining and on edge? Healthy control does not always mean being in complete control of every aspect of everything that is going on at work. Healthy control means that we have enough emotional wisdom to know when we have very little control over a problem or situation. Remember that a leading stressor at work is believing that you have a lot of responsibility for something while simultaneously have little power over it. You can't control the assignments you are given but you can empower yourself to "let go and see how it goes." Yes, stop trying to fix these things up in your head (especially you Type A's---you know who you are) and let someone one figure it out...someone who does have the power to solve the problem. Try it. Sit back just once and see how it goes for you.
Don't let other people's idea of what you can do or become hold you down!
I was a three time teen Mom, didn't graduate from high school and have been judged and criticized a whole lot.
I was told I would be on welfare my whole life.
When I applied for college, I was told there was no way I would get in.
When I was inspired to get a graduate degree, I was told I couldn't do that and work. When I applied for doctoral programs, I was rejected. I reapplied. I was told by MANY that I couldn't do it. It would take forever. And it did.
Yet, with the love of family and friends, I've come a long way.
Importantly, in spite of all of my shortcomings and mistakes, I never gave up on myself. While it was never easy, I knew if I could believe it, I could achieve it.
I always knew I was going somewhere awesome...I'm glad I was too busy struggling to over-think it. Keep on rockin' on.
Addiction and Pleasure
It's interesting to listen to people talk about their assumptions about addiction. Most of us think that is a problem the other guy has. You might be surprised to know that researchers believe that ALL of us have addictions. Yep! In his book The Pleasure Prescription Dr. Pearsall is chief amongst the group of psychologists who says that addiction can be an adaptive behavior that drives and motivates us to do things such as go to the gym, wash our car, and do the laundry. These behavioral tendencies drive us forward in a compelling way that we find very rewarding and on some important level, very pleasurable. Of course, addictions can also be maladaptive and harmful to us. I don't need to tell you what those are, do I?
Some people say that once an addict, always an addict.
I say that once a human being, always a human being.
We are just all in the throes of our own becoming and I think that's pretty darned cool.
YOU ARE OKAY!
A few years ago, when my daughter-in-law was a very young mother, I heard her soothing her toddler daughter after she'd fallen. She said, "You're okay...you're okay."
Our beautiful child calmed down very quickly.
I thought that was brilliant!
I loved that saying so much that I adopted it as a mantra I now use to soothe myself in times of stress.
Sometimes it's just the simple things!
The Present: A Gift You Give Yourself
Take one minute to just close your eyes and quietly relax. Notice your thoughts. Where are you and what are you thinking about? When you open your eyes, think about where you were in time. Would it surprise you to know that most of us spend the majority of our time thinking about the past or the future? The minority of people report that their thoughts were about the very present. If so many of us spend our waking hours thinking about the past or the future, it must be very useful to us in some way, right? Let's take a closer look at this practice.
I like to call the practice of repeatedly looking at the past "dredging". It's dredging because it requires a piece of heavy equipment called The Way Back Machine. It requires a lot of fuel from us too. When we constantly retell a story about our poor health, a loved one who abandoned us, a punishment we were made to endure, a former employer's unfair treatment of us, an alternative choice we should have made and the like, we are forcing ourselves and others around us to relive some of the most unpleasant things we've ever experienced. After you've learned your lesson from that experience, is that dredging helpful to you in any way? Is dredging energizing? Does it help you move closer to your goals?
Another thing we humans are very skilled at is what I call "forecasting". Did you know that scientists believe that humans are the only creatures on the Earth capable of dreaming of, dreading and/or planning for the future? When squirrels are gathering nuts for the winter, they do so because of built-in biology, not because they feel a chill in the air and they are worried about their food supply. This ability to think about the future is an awesome gift that we sometimes misuse..."when I get that degree, when my bills are paid off, when I find a new love, when I win the lottery, when I find a better job". If we are very skilled at forecasting, we can really create some stress for ourselves without even realizing it. We think that stress is externally caused and don't even realize that our thoughts are what's creating our stress. Example: "My boss spoke sharply to me today. If she fires me, I'm going to be broke. My kids won't have anything to eat. I'll be evicted. Then, we will be homeless, or worse yet, living with my mother-in-law". See how that goes? None of that is actually happening right now. How is forecasting working for us?
If thoughts about the past or future predominate our thinking, we could be robbing ourselves of the one gift only we can give ourselves---the wondrous gift of the Present. To illustrate what it feels like to be in the present, think back to when you were a little kid and you were totally immersed in the present. Maybe you were swimming, running outside with others, or rolling your Matchbox cars along the floor. Think of how it felt to experience life in those moments. Think about the sounds, what it looked like, and the smells associated with those moments.
By staying in the present, you'll notice things about yourself, others, and the world around you that you wouldn't otherwise. Staying in the present also reduces stress. On the way to work this morning, see if you can make some new observations about your surroundings. Observe if your thoughts drift to the past or the future. Practice giving yourself the gift of the present.
How Do You See People?
Max Lucado’s book called Outlive Your Life is a short but powerful one. One of the most amazing questions he asks his readers is this: Do you see through people or into people?
Wow, what does that mean please?
As a business leader and coach, it is incredibly easy to get caught up in my world, my struggles, and what’s important to me. If that is the state I operate in, I wonder how others experience me?
A person that sees through people is one who:
1. Can only see the consequences of a person’s action and the not the pain and the tremendous struggle they are experiencing, which is what is driving their behavior.
2. Loves to ask a question, but really doesn’t want a lengthy response.
3. Jumps at the chance to provide a solution to someone they barely even know (and especially without asking permission).
4. Responds to someone in need with trite comments without listening to the real needs of the person.
5. Is blind to the struggles of others around him or her.
When you practice seeing in to the people in your life, you are able to realize that people are more than their struggles, mistakes, failures, poor choices or behaviors. They have dreams just like you; for love, compassion, success, encouragement or maybe even a helping hand.
Take a moment today to really see in to people. I wonder what you will see?
Getting Ready to Get Ready
You have to admit, watching a well-planned and executed process unfold is a beautiful sight, especially if you love planning like I do. Think half time show or concert. Some of us are really, really good at planning and might have a tendency to brag about it. One day, when I had the urge to brag (bad idea) about my organizational skills related to planning the next phase of my life and career, my friend made an important oberservation. Yep, you are getting ready to get ready. What does that mean?
She laughed and explained that while being organized and planning towards goals could be important elements towards personal achievement, there is a point of diminishing return. All that planning could also be considered a form of procrastination.
Okay, now I'm feeling a little defensive. Did she just hear everything I said? How could all of that activity be interpreted as a form of procrastination?
When we have to have things perfectly planned in order to move forward with a plan, we may be unknowingly creating a situation for ourselves in which we are never moving forward with the plan. Why? Because no plan will ever be perfect enough to move forward with.
If you are an overachiever who has to have everything perfectly thought through before you can move forward, your perfectionism may be holding you back. There is a phenomenon called the strategy paradox. No sooner do you have the perfect plan hatched, then the world changes (because it's not waiting around while you are planning) and Viola! Your plans are already obsolete.
When you have a pretty solid idea of what you want to do, take the step and go. You don't have to wait for your business cards to come in!
Five Reasons To Celebrate Mistakes
No one likes to trip and fall in front of other people. We know that everyone makes mistakes, but we just don't want to be the one learning the lesson. Mistakes are often cause for gnashing of teeth and regret. But mistakes can also be cause for celebration. They move us forward and we are one step closer to getting things right.
I'd like to take a stand for the power of mistakes!
1. Mistakes get our attention - They light a path for us and help us focus our attention.
2. Permitting mistakes allows us to take healthy risks - There is one sure way to avoid making a mistake and that is to take no risks. You can't fail at writing if you never finsih your book. You can't fail in love if you never allow yourself to fall in love. Think of the many things that would never come to pass if we didn't take some risks.
3. Noticing mistakes shows our committment to quality - We do need standards. Without standards, nothing gets done. Vendors don't deliver. We don't deliver value to shareholders. It's a simple point...in an environment where there is no difference between success and failure, the word mistake would be without meaning. Mistakes can only happen when people are committed to trying to find things that work. Keep trying.
4. We can use mistakes as practice - Think Einstein and Edison. You are a genius too. Do I need to say more here?
5. Mistakes make powerful teachers - Often our biggest mistakes are the ones that teach us the biggest lessons. These are the lessons that stay with us a lifetime. Our tendency is to turn our heads away from the embarrassment mistakes generate. Take a good look at the mistake. Then, turn your head, and if you are so inclined, never look back.
Our Precious Problems
Let's face it, we all have problems from time to time. Our typical industrious nature is to run around fixing, fixing, fixing our problems. We are fix-it mongers, conditioned to tackle what ever conditions we face. Fixing feels normal and healthy, right? If you've ever experienced resentment, anger or exhaustion due to relentless fixing, you might find some relief in this practice:
The challenge is to take focus off of the object of our anxieties or irritations and to find the happier feeling of what we want instead. In focusing on what we are trying to fix and what we DON'T WANT, we are steeping in a pool of negativity. The more we stew about these, or even brag about these, the bigger these become.
I'm not going to pull any punches here...there is only one way to stop the messes in our lives from getting worse...stop focusing on them! This is tricky stuff folks. Staring at and responding to the junk in our face is what we do. To change that means that we would have to give up our cherished right to have and agonize over our precious problems.
Fear not. Even if you decide to let go of a few problems today, there will always be plenty of problems to go around (in case you enjoy a good stewing as I do upon occasion).
Our goal is to change the way we react to these unwanted problems so they are not the focal point of our existence...start focusing on what you do want!
The Art Of Doing Nothing
He told me that he knew that he needed to slow down, to take some time for himself. He decided to take a day every once in a while to do nothing. He thought that would be a great way to reduce his stress. Great idea...let me know how that goes.
The next week, he described his day off to me. First, he made himself an awesome breakfast. Then he did the dishes. He watched 3 movies. He downloaded some music he'd been wanting. Finally, he worked out.
He waited for my response. I let him hang for a minute. Yep, that's not "doing nothing". Try again next week.
WAIT, Why Am I Talking?
I was on the phone with my completely competent adult daughter having what I thought was a pleasant conversation when she asked me a question that stopped me in my tracks, "Mom, why do you always have to have an opinion about everything?"
First thought in my head? Because I'm a Mom. Second thought? Ah man, she's right, why I am I talking? I realized it was okay that I had an opinion, but apparently, it's not always that pleasant to experience my opinion.
Talking is serious business in my family. It's like a competitive sport! If you come to a family gathering, it wouldn't be uncommon for you to witness two people talking to each other at the same time. My sister may be saying something to someone and without waiting for her to finish, someone will start a new conversation with her as she's speaking to them.
Ah, then, there are also the phone conversations. We often talk to the people we are in the room with while we are on the phone with each other. That's annoying!
Most of the time we are telling good stories, but often, we are giving each other unwanted opinions or advice. At least my daughter was bold (or aggravated) enough to bring it to my attention.
I'm a teacher by trade, so WAITing is something I have to consciously practice every day. I also now ask permission to give advice. I really, really try to use my two ears more, my mouth less and often ask myself, "Why am I talking?"
Okay, sorry. I'll shut up now.
Why Don't Good Things Happen To Me?
If you filled a football stadium with tuning forks and then struck one of them, the tuning forks that would respond and resonate with that tuning fork would be the ones at the same frequency. No other forks would respond. It's physics. Scientists now believe that our world runs on a series of energetic interactions. The energy we put out is the energy we get back - BOOMERANG!
If you think good things don't happen for you as often as they do for other people, try an experiment with yourself. Monitor your thoughts and actions very closely for one day. Are you focused on what you want instead of what you don't want? Do you think nice or mean things about people and places? If you are unsure about this idea, try to remember the last time you stubbed your toe. Did it happen after you said something nice about your neighbor?
When Holding On Creates A Personal Burden
One day a learned monk and a young monk were travelling along the river's edge together when they happened upon a young lady in distress.
The learned monk offered to her, “Let me carry you across.”
Safely on the other side, she thanked them and they said their say goodbyes. The two monks continued on their journey for more than half a day. The young monk was visibly troubled.
“I thought we monks were supposed to avoid women. Why did you just do that?”
“Huh? Oh, you mean that woman way back there? I put her down long ago. Why are you still carrying her?”
We often carry things much longer than we need to. Grudges, hurt feelings, embarassing moments, longing for the past, and unhelpful traditions.
How are the things we are holding on to helping us create the life we want?
Mental Clothespins Clutter Your Mind
When you delay something that really must get done, you are cluttering your mind with the thought that you must get these things done. For example, if you must get a mammogram, go to the dentist, or do your taxes and you keep putting these off rather than tackling them one at a time, all of these thoughts are tacked up in your consciousness with little "clothespins".
Having lists of things to do is super effective when you tackle them and accomplish them. Mental or written lists that you keep adding to robs you of your mental energy, can stress you out and clutter your brain with clothespins.