Ways to Communicate without Anger

In 2014 I wrote this post based around a client of mine going through a holiday get-together that most of us are all too familiar with experiencing.

I was recently was asked to re-publish this post and as I went through it I thought about how relevant this particular issue is today more so due to the presidential election coming up and the emotional state of  our country as a whole. So now I wonder…

If there was truly a way to work through  this post issue, anger, how would you want to learn to manage it and use what you learn in your small corner of the world? Maybe this will spark some ideas…..

Key West

There are times when the ocean is not the ocean – not blue, not even water, but some violent explosion of energy and danger: ferocity on a scale only gods can summon. It hurls itself at the island, sending spray right over the top of the lighthouse, biting pieces off the cliff. And the sound is a roaring of a beast whose anger knows no limits. Those are the nights the light is needed most.” M. L. Stedman – The Light Between Oceans

What I’m learning is that the light is in the asking of the questions and the heart of every human being. The answering is the communication where peace can begin. But I think it matters to go back a little step and start by asking:

Why do people get angry?

Why does anger live so long within us?

Are anger and communication based only on defending, judging, criticizing and/or withdrawing?

Are there rules to communication so that anger can be lessened?

“Anybody can become angry — that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way — that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.” Aristotle

On a coaching call this week my client talked about wanting to better understand and get control of her anger toward her in-laws each and every time they all get together. She started out our session absolutely dreading the upcoming holiday. Her dilemma revolved around the criticism and judgments thrown at her by her in-laws and her own sensitivity to it all. She did not grow up with this kind of self-centeredness and judgment. Logically she knows that people bring their own pasts and life experiences to the table (no pun intended) but she just felt helpless to look at their way of communicating in a non-judgmental way. The overall feeling of anger toward her in-laws was coupled with the knowledge that this was driving a wedge between her and her husband and creating more problems than they both knew what to do with.

So why do people get angry?

Ryan Martin, Ph.D. wrote an article for Psychology Today about the scientific study of anger. In his article he references Dr. Jerry Deffenbacher’s 1996 model of anger by defining what Dr. Deffenbacher calls the trigger event; the event that happens right before someone gets angry for example, perceiving an insult or being cut off in traffic.

“The implication is that those kinds of events caused the person to get angry directly. If that were true then we would all react the same way to such situations.”

There are more than trigger events at play when anger sets in. Individual characteristics such as personality traits and the individual’s pre-anger state are 2 things that matter.

“Competitiveness and low-frustration tolerance are some ways in which a person’s personality characteristics play into anger. As for the pre-anger state of a person just before the trigger event, physiological and psychological situations play heavily into this arena. Feelings of being tired, anxious, stressed out, nervous are considered to be pre-anger triggers. A nervous person already has an elevated heart rate so he/she doesn’t have far to go to become angry.”

Ryan goes on to explain:

“Dr. Deffenbacher’s model of anger is mainly based on the appraisal of the situation by the person on the receiving end. When a person appraises a situation as blameworthy, unjustified, punishable, etc. it pushes buttons with in that person to react with anger. If the person interpreted the situation a little differently he/she wouldn’t have become so angry. The important thing to remember about appraisal isn’t necessarily that the person’s reaction is inaccurate but there are always 2 sides to every story.”

The next question then is how do we communicate effectively so that anger doesn’t show up or take over?

In his outstanding and amazingly insightful book, Non-Violent Communication: A Language of Life, Marshall B. Rosenberg, Ph. D and author tells of his preoccupation with 2 questions and his attempt to find the answers:

“What happens to disconnect us from our compassionate nature, leading us to behave violently and exploitatively and what allows some people to stay connected to their compassionate nature under even the most trying circumstances?”

“When we give from the heart, we do so out of the joy that springs forth whenever we willingly enrich another person’s life. This kind of giving benefits both the giver and the receiver.”

While getting deeper into the coaching session my client started to become aware of her own compassionate nature and how she deeply desired to live on that plane and not engage in anger and despair. She is by nature a giving, loving, and curious person and realized that she always wanted her marriage to be one of love out loud and as an example to others of what real love looks like. That realization turned the whole session around. But how to get through the inevitable anger she will feel at some point during the holiday visit?

Dr. Rosenberg says:

“There are 4 steps to express anger: (1) Stop and breathe, (2) identify our judgmental thoughts, (3) connect with our needs, and (4) express our feelings and unmet needs. The key to all of the anger is empathy. Empathize with the other person so that he/she will be better able to hear us when we express ourselves.”

The coaching session concluded with awareness that although my client can’t change how other people behave and communicate she can change how she behaves and communicates. By showing up fully for her husband and not giving in to her personal feelings she will be able to create an ally in her husband. More than anything she wants him to know how much he means to her and how much she understands that the holiday get together is equally difficult for him. “Living out loud the loving, caring and supportive marriage I always imagined having is so much more powerful than giving in to the anger and judgments of others.” She now has a plan of action and tools to help her achieve her ultimate goal of making this family holiday one in which she will cherish and not regret. My client says:

“I can’t believe how I am feeling at this moment realizing that it is so much easier to love not only myself but my husband and our child. It feels freeing to know that I can choose love rather than defensiveness and anger toward difficult people. I don’t know for sure if love will bring about a more positive atmosphere all around us but it will bring about more connectedness and compassion in my marriage and therefore to my child.”

Whether we are face to face or in communication through email or text messages or any other social media venue we are always in a position to respond with empathy and heart.

I often find myself wondering when I read the comments section of other blog posts or I read text messages or I witness a negative conversation what was going on in the responder’s mind at the time of a negative comment. What life circumstances pushed that person over the edge?

All of this leads me to take a stronger, more open-minded approach to reader responses whether it be to a blog post, a comment to someone else’s writing or a face to face exchange.

Here is what I’ve learned so far:

Communicating needs and feelings without creating defensiveness and anger can be successfully accomplished by using “I” messages. For example: “I feel taken for granted when the laundry isn’t put away” or “I am having trouble managing my worry around our finances and as a result I am not sleeping very well.” These messages are to the point and simple; they are not blaming or accusing.

“Reflect your thoughts and watch others mirror them back to you.” Stephen Richards

Don’t respond immediately to the comment or letter. Take a deep breath, re-read the response or think through the exchange and think about how it truly applies to what was originally said. Time can be your ally. Take your time to respond. Be thoughtful.

“In quiet places, reason abounds.” Adlai E. Stevenson II

People are not bad inherently. Sometimes their life circumstances have caused them to form habits that are difficult to deal with. It’s not personal.

“The sound of the words as they’re said is always different from the sound they make when they’re heard, because the speaker hears some of the sound from the inside”David Levithan, Every Day

A really great coaching tool that has worked for many of my clients is when I have them do an exercise called purging. In the case of an email or text or letter, sit in a quiet space and hand write every single feeling you are experiencing and use every single word that will make you feel justified if you were going to be utterly, no-holds-barred honest. DO NOT SEND THE WRITTEN RESPONSE. Save it. Wait a few days and re-read your own response. Be aware of how you are feeling as you re-read. Are you still so enraged? Has your own anger or shock lessened? How would you like to communicate now? The point is to not meet on the impulse level of the reader. Rise above by getting out of your system all that you are feeling and let those feelings go. As a final step, rip your letter to pieces or stomp on it or just throw it away.

“Transferring my anger and pain onto paper turns it into something tangible, something that can be shredded or burned, or at the very least, sealed shut in a box. ~Call Me Tuesday”Leigh Byrne

If you were seeing the anger from face to face interaction how would you respond in that moment? Would you want to also be seen as someone losing his cool? Think about your own tone of voice and how you would like to sound or how you would like someone to talk to you about their concerns.

“We do not have control over what happens to us in life, but we do have control over how we chose to respond.”
Bryant McGill, Simple Reminders: Inspiration for Living Your Best Life    

If it is important that the other person hear from you right away simply send a follow-up email or text or comment right in that face to face moment by stating that you will respond more fully when you are in a better frame of mind.

Your life mainly consists of 3 things! What you think,  What you say and  What you do! So always be very conscious of what you are co-creating!”
Allan Rufus, The Master’s Sacred Knowledge    

If your response is only in the form of writing then before your response goes out to anyone have someone you trust, someone who knows your heart and intentions, read your response before you send it out. The objective person will be able to stay out of the emotional end of this negative situation.

Merely because you have got something to say that may be of interest to others does not free you from making all due effort to express that something in the best possible medium and form.” [Letter to Max E. Feckler, Oct. 26, 1914]” ― Jack London

Here is where curiosity comes into play: If you sense that your colleague is angry or accusatory ask that person if you are interpreting their response correctly. Don’t assume to know for sure what you are reading or hearing.

“Every man, it seems, interprets the world in the light of his habits and desires.” Richard Wright, The Outsider

Whenever possible don’t write but talk, face to face, person to person. Effective communication is most achievable when we are in the present moment. Stay clear of bringing up the past. Stick to what is happening right now.

“When people don’t express themselves, they die one piece at a time.” Laurie Halse Anderson, Speak

There is no substitute for real, live interaction. Your body uses every emoticon there is. Effective communication keeps anger at bay when we remain as calm as possible. Body language can have the same anger inducing affects as something we write. Create breathing space between the parties speaking, reframe when possible for better understanding, keeping advice and opinions to ourselves unless asked to offer that input. These steps all aid in a successful communication process.

We never can completely know what is going on in someone’s life to help us fully understand why they react the way they do. Everyone has something going on that feels overwhelming. Whenever possible put yourself in their shoes and summon a more compassionate you.

Call to Action

How can you begin to speak with your heart so that anger is kept at bay?

Words Are Windows

(or They’re Walls)

I feel so sentenced by your words,

I feel so judged and sent away,

Before I go I’ve got to know,

Is that what you mean to say?

 

Before I rise to my defense,

Before I speak in hurt or fear,

Before I build that wall of words,

Tell me, did I really hear?

 

Words are windows, or they’re walls,

They sentence us, or set us free.

When I speak and when I hear,

Let the love light shine through me.

 

There are things I need to say,

Things that mean so much to me,

If my words don’t make me clear,

Will you help me to be free?

 

If I seemed to put you down,

If you felt I didn’t care,

Try to listen through my words,

To the feelings that we share.

–Ruth Bebermeyer

You Are Becoming

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“We all wind up drawn to what we’re afraid of, drawn to try to find a way to make ourselves safe from a thing by crawling inside of it, by loving it, by becoming it.” Holly Black, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown

Ever since beginning my journey to become a great life coach there has been one word that keeps swirling around me. I had not ever heard this word and my name spoken in the same sentence before my journey but I hear this word quite often since embarking on my journey. One word that I never in all my life would associate with describing who I am; one word that sounds so empowering and makes everything so possible and yet it has been a word I have been afraid of my whole life. I heard it yet again a day ago in relationship to me and I had to just sit very still and really think about all the times where this word has shown itself in my life and wonder why I just haven’t made the connection. Why does this word strike such fear inside of me?

Before I reveal the word let me ask you this question:

In your lifetime in what circumstance have you ever wished you could see yourself the way other people see you?

This could be in a good light or a not so good light. This could be on your “best foot forward” day or your “I wish I stayed in bed today” day. This could be in a spiritual way meaning wanting to see yourself as God sees you but not being able to do so.

Many times I have wished I could see in me what other people see in me. I absolutely believe that if I had the “knowing” of what other people believe I can be or what they think I already am then I could conquer the world. I believe this because of the one thing I know about myself most of all and that is that I hate to let people down.

It’s not really a people pleasing knowing that I have about who I am it’s more of a challenge I adopt within my heart that pushes me to do and become simply because someone I trust and admire has a knowing about me, an insight about me that I never allowed or truly saw in my own self. There is a becoming about me that other people see whether it is in the form of who I am becoming or that I am becoming in appearance or in a spiritual sense.

“Sight is one of the most easily deceived senses. I could make a coin disappear and your eyes would believe it gone, even if it were merely up my sleeve.” Megan Chance, The Spiritualist

I find this quote so universal and so important. What does someone see in each of us that we hide from our own selves? What disappears from within us that we believe is gone or never existed yet another person can see as if it were part of our face or skin or clothing? Something someone else sees but knows that we don’t so it appears to have disappeared but is not truly gone. It’s kind of a version of faith; to walk in the trust of what is unseen.

What holds each of us back from becoming who we are meant to be or who we want to be?

The dictionary defines the word becoming as:

  • Flattering a person’s appearance
  • The process of coming to be something or of passing into a state or any change from the lower level of potentiality to the higher level of actuality

We are all in such a rush to “get there” wherever there is that we forget or choose not to stop and listen and see that in order to become we must slow down and be the word that has been swirling around me….courageous. Using the word courage is how people have been describing me for the past 3-1/2 years and it comes up so often that I can’t ignore it anymore. I still don’t see it when looking through my own eyes but I absolutely must see what other people see if I am to become what they believe me to be; what their faith in me speaks to them.

Where does courage show up for me? Courage shows up when I am vulnerable, when I admit I don’t know something and can open my heart to receiving help and guidance, when I am asked to face a fear and work through it in the truth of not wanting to face the person inside of me who is saying, “Walk away from this. You don’t have to face this.” Courage shows up when life gets really, raw-ly emotional for me and I have to stand and face that painful dragon and slay it. Courage shows up when someone hears a piece of my story and their take away is the courage they heard in my voice and in my words when I never felt courageous at all while going through it.

What has happened inside of my heart is that by hearing the word courageous associated with me the person and me the spirit I have created a trail behind me that I want to always remain and lead me home. I am starting to believe in this crazy word. I may not yet fully associate courage with who I am but I like what other people are seeing in my becoming and I don’t want to let them or myself down. I want to keep exploring this empowering feeling and word and see what I can see as I go along creating my truth and building self-trust.

In her book Daring Greatly, author and scientist Dr. Brene` Brown said this when describing herself through vulnerability, courage and allowing herself to see what other people see in her:

“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage.” I had no idea that in each life moment where I stood up and plowed through a fear I was courageous and vulnerable and revealing a truth about who I am deep inside, yet other people could see it in me all along.

Dr. Brown goes on to say:

“All the love and support I received allowed me to slowly begin to take more risks, to show up at work and at home in new ways. I took more chances and tried new things.” Because of each conquest I had made that lay behind me I was unknowingly building strength and empowerment toward the next big thing. And each time I was in a situation to tell my story there came that word again, courage.

What I’ve ultimately learned is that by sharing my stories where I unknowingly showed courage I have been able to allow those listeners to imagine themselves facing the same fears and making it through on their own way toward becoming their best selves.

Here is what I’ve learned so far about the incredible walk I’ve been taking toward my own becoming….

Trust: Trust your heart, trust your gut, and trust your sincerity and integrity. Trust that although the process might take a lifetime, each step is for and toward a purpose. There is no rush toward becoming whatever you want to become or whoever you want to become because each level you reach is a level you needed to obtain in order to keep going forward. It may not be for you in the end, it may be for someone else entirely, keep going.

“Do not lose hope — what you seek will be found. Trust ghosts. Trust those that you have helped to help you in their turn. Trust dreams. Trust your heart, and trust your story. (from ‘Instructions’)” Neil Gaiman, Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders

Believe in your value: For me the word courage is truly a value in action. I’ve shared with you before about how our values show up in our lives whether intentionally or magically. Knowing what your values are is a very strong and empowering step in your becoming. When I first took the test to determine my top 5 values out of the 24 values we all carry within us, courage was somewhere in the middle. Recently I was asked to take the test again and surprisingly courage appeared in my top five. I just shake my head. I had no idea how strongly courage has played a role in my life until I decided to dedicate myself to finding my life.

“Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, your values become your destiny.” Mahatma Gandhi

Sight: This is a tough one. It is far easier to hide from the truth of what we see in our own soul than to admit the vulnerability and the blessing in bringing it to light. I can recall many times in my life when I hid from my own self in order to not face my own truth. What I’ve learned is that life does not exist in the places we choose not to see. Life can only exist in bringing forward all the messy, mixed up, odd, weirdness’s that make up who we are. I have taken action steps with the utmost of integrity and seen first-hand the power those steps have created. Take what you see from within your own soul, the person you see that you want to be and take that first step with integrity toward that unique and wondrous person. The people in your world will thank you for it and your heart will grow and your eyes will see what can’t be seen because your heart will grow.

“The wise do not buy into other people’s perceptions of who they are and what they are capable of. Instead, they bypass a person’s public persona and see who they are in their highest expression. When you see actions taken with integrity, instead of words only, you will then know a soul’s worth.” Shannon L. Alder

Courage: I can’t think of a better word than this. To have courage means to exercise your will to accomplish goals you set for yourself in the face of opposition, whether it is an external opposition or internal opposition. Another way to look at this is in the word bravery. According to professors and authors, the late Christopher Peterson and current University of Pennsylvania professor Martin Seligman, their book Character Strengths and Virtues talks about bravery as the “ability to do what needs to be done despite fear. Beyond the domain of battle on a battlefield, bravery allows for this character strength to be applied by not only saying or doing the unpopular but correct thing but in also facing terminal illness with equanimity and to resisting peer pressure regarding a morally questionable shortcut.” To this I would add that it also takes meaning in any act large or small where we are running through our own internal fears of whatever we have chosen to face head on.

For example: When I was tasked at my temp job to create an excel chart and maintenance form I panicked. I don’t do excel well at all. The challenge before me was to get the task done and done very well. I enlisted the help of a colleague to teach me some basic things and then I took it from there. I refused to leave for the day until the bulk of the work was done. That was my internal opposition. It took all kinds of crazy courage to meet the challenge of fear that excel symbolizes for me but I did it. Did I feel courageous? No. Did I feel successful in the end? Yes. Would I choose to take on another excel project? Oh hell No. Did I prove I could do it and so I could do it again? Yes. Ultimately what stayed inside of me, what I see now, is that when courage is needed I enlist, without thought. When my kids would get hurt and cry in pain I surprised myself every time by not panicking. I stayed even tempered, quiet, calm and loving for them and later when they were back to their playful, happy, bouncy selves I let out a deep breath and cried a little.

“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” E.E. Cummings

Take some time to really, deeply think about your own character strengths and values; listen to how often a particular value comes up in your life; allow yourself to see where you are being an example day after day of this character strength and value. Believe what can’t be seen by you alone. That is faith, and that is having a knowing that you are indeed becoming as you walk through your purposes in life.

“Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’

‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit.

‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’

‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’

 ‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit

Call to Action

What are some of your core values often hidden but revealed in patterns of your behavior?

What would it take to acknowledge, out loud, in every way of your everyday those hidden core values?

When do you find yourself becoming your most “real” self?

In what ways have you been seen by others as real, as honest, as courageous, as vulnerable but did not allow yourself to see those truths within you?

Activity Challenge

In an effort to practice seeing those things we choose not to see or just can’t see, ask yourself just one of these questions every day and really dive into your day and all its glory. Then in whatever fashion helps you to express your answer use it. It could be journaling, praying, talking to a friend, coach or partner. The questions are:

What went right today?

What left you filled with awe today?

Where did your heart lead you today?

Where or in whom did I find inspiration today?

Always do your best (part 4)

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“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” Mahatma Gandhi

I think this quote is a great place to start the last of my blog series based on author Don Miguel Ruiz’ book The Four Agreements. Here are the agreements:

  • Be impeccable with your word
  • Don’t take anything personally
  • Don’t make assumptions
  • Always do your best

The idea is that if you are always trying to do your best then you are creating habits that keep you practicing being impeccable with your words, not taking anything personally and not making assumptions.

In order for your day to take shape, to live and to breathe you have to first wake up and then get out of bed. Everything you do once out of bed is up to you alone. You can decide with your very first step that today is going to be a better day than yesterday or an even better day than yesterday. You can decide that whatever challenges you faced yesterday will be met with more courage today.

Whatever you decide to do with your life minutes today give each one of them purpose and meaning and significance by being the change you want to see. EVERYTHING starts with you.

“He allowed himself to be swayed by his conviction that human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but that life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.” Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez, Love in the Time of Cholera

To look at my daughter you would never know that she struggles with having real, true, honest friendships in her life. Oh, she knows a lot of people and is always busy but true, trustworthy friendships, the kind that last a lifetime, are hard to come by. In my biased opinion she is life. She is always busy working at a job she likes that affords her the opportunity to meet new people and forge new acquaintances, she is attending classes at college that feed her imagination and desire to learn, she is going out with people during her personal time that she chooses to spend time with, and she volunteers her time to causes she feels connected to. Yet, through all of her activities and busyness she feels a sense of not belonging and at times a sense of loneliness.

I can’t imagine anyone having a hard time relating to this. There are times in our lives when we just feel like we are so disconnected from everyone and that we just can’t seem to find a place where we belong. When she starts to get down on herself for some unnamed flaw she thinks she has the only question I can ask her is, “are you doing your best today?”

What does your best look like?

Does your best look like smiling even when you don’t feel it? Does your best look like dropping all your to-do’s and helping a friend in need? Does your best look like getting take out for dinner so that you have more time to spend with the kids at night?

No matter what you are involved in during your day or week or month or life, always bring and do the best you can. No one, not even you, can ask more of you than your best and you will always walk away feeling good about yourself. Your legacy in every life moment is left behind in your wake when you give the best you can.

What if my best is not up to my standards because I’m not feeling like myself? That can happen at any time. Don Miguel Ruiz says,

“In your everyday moods your best can change from one moment to another, from one hour to the next, from one day to another. Your best will also change over time. Just do your best in any circumstance in your life. It doesn’t matter if you are sick or tired, if you always do your best there is no way you can judge yourself harshly.”

How do you treat yourself, your work or your relationships?

This is an important question toward always doing your best because when you like yourself and treat yourself well you know the end result of what you want others to feel from you. Bringing your best self to your life moments means that you have the potential to bring out the best in someone else.

Here is Don Miguel,

“When you do your best you learn to accept yourself by learning from your mistakes and practicing toward increased awareness. Doing your best really doesn’t feel like work because you enjoy whatever you are doing. You do your best because you want to do it, not because you have to do it and not because you are trying to please anyone. You are taking action because you enjoy the action. It becomes about living fully.”

“For me, I am driven by two main philosophies: know more today about the world than I knew yesterday and lessen the suffering of others. You’d be surprised how far that gets you.” Neil deGrasse Tyson

What are your core values, your character strengths?

When you are in the flow of a project or experience and lose track of time what actions are you taking that align with your values?

For me it is writing. I lose track of time and space when I am writing and reading and researching. I enjoy the discovery process and I enjoy what I am able to share with anyone who chooses to read what I’ve written. My values are enlisted when I am writing in such ways as authenticity; I never write what I myself am not interested in knowing more about, compassion; I always write about topics that I have experienced and want to share with others, and gratitude; I always write with gratitude for the life lessons I have learned or lessons I am still learning.

In the end Don Miguel says,

“The first three agreements will only work if you do your best. Your habits are too strong and firmly rooted in your mind.

  • Don’t expect that you will always be able to be impeccable with your word.
  • Don’t expect that you will never take anything personally
  • Don’t expect that you will never make another assumption

But you can certainly, always, in all of these agreements, DO YOUR BEST.”

So the question is, how do we even get started on creating our best selves?

In the words of one of my favorite songs by the band Journey, “be good to yourself”. Only you can determine the many ways in which you can show love to yourself. For me, being good to myself shows up in cooking or baking or taking a time out to read in bed at night or writing.

In all things find a reason to say thank you. In the course of just one day whether the day overall was good or bad there is always at least one thing to be grateful for. I know my day was not a total waste when I can say a soulful thank you for something and connect with my own humility.

Ask for guidance. This guidance may come from a trusted friend or clergy, it may come from a beloved sibling or parent or it may simply come from the universe. The point is to ask. We don’t know all the answers so putting the questions out there may help us get clear on what to do next. Staying curious and open to new perspectives is one way to help create our best self.

Let go of expectations. Let go of your version of how something should turn out; let go of trying to control any outcome. See what happens when you do your best and the result is not what you expected. See what comes of a new experience or new perspective. What did you learn? How did you grow?

Mind your words. It matters very much the talking you do inside of your head and heart. Who do you love the most? Talk to yourself the way you talk to the one you love; hold yourself in the same love that you hold that special someone; believe in you the same way you wholeheartedly believe in the one you love.

Call to Action

Here is a different kind of call to action this week. I leave you with a prayer from Don Miguel Ruiz. Practice this prayer every day as often as you can until you believe in every single word:

“Thank you Creator of the universe, for the gift of life you have given me.

Thank you for giving me everything that I have ever truly needed.

Thank you for the opportunity to experience this beautiful body and this wonderful mind.

Thank you for living inside me with all your love, with your pure and boundless spirit, with your warm and radiant light.

Thank you for using my words, for using my eyes, for using my heart to share your love wherever I go.

I love you just the way you are, and because I am your creation, I love myself just the way I am.

Help me to keep the love and the peace in my heart and to make that love a new way of life, that I may live in love the rest of my life. Amen.”

 

http://www.amazon.com/Four-Agreements-Practical-Personal-Freedom/dp/1878424319/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1425307355&sr=1-1&keywords=the+4+agreements+by+don+miguel+ruiz

Is it Just Business or is it Personal (Part 2)

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Is it Just Business or is it Personal?

“The greatest hazard of all, losing one’s self, can occur very quietly in the world, as if it were nothing at all. No other loss can occur so quietly; any other loss – an arm, a leg, five dollars, a wife, etc. – is sure to be noticed.” Søren Kierkegaard, The Sickness Unto Death

When I was little my dad told me about a trip he had taken with his family. The details of the trip are really fuzzy but the point was very clear. He was traveling through an area where there were a lot of people all around doing all sorts of activities, “I suddenly wondered, if I was not here would these people be here doing what they are doing?”

Realization of self on a more grand scale is shocking to a kid. Where once a child thought that he was the only person that mattered he now realizes that he is not alone and so special. As children we are so used to the “knowing” that all of life revolves around us only. As we come to realize that life goes on even when we don’t see it we lose a bit of ourselves to the grandeur. It happens slowly and quietly and sadly can become a pit of depressing questions and thoughts that we just keep falling into. Questions like, “Do I really matter at all”, “How can I get noticed in such a big world”, “What makes me so special”.

The moment we have the revelation that the ME in us is somehow smaller our world view expands to limitlessness but in such ways at first perhaps as competition, fight for survival, overwhelm, or uncertainty. It can become so overwhelming at times that we find ways to pull back into ourselves and make each day all about us again. We become sensitive to criticism as well as compliments although the criticisms are decidedly more impactful and we judge ourselves so harshly. We lose a piece of self as we strive to learn how to gain more self each time we take something personally and allow the judgments and summaries of what other people think of us.

In his book The Four Agreements, author Don Miguel Ruiz writes that we internalize and take into our hearts the negatives, the insults from other people because,

“We agree with whatever was said about our character; we have already made an agreement in our hearts to accept the negatives that people supposedly believe about us. As soon as you agree, the poison goes through you. This trapped feeling is what is called personal importance or taking things personally, the maximum expression of selfishness because we make the assumption that everything is about “me”.

“If people make fun of you, it probably means you’re doing something right.” –Amy Lee

People have a hard time understanding other people who are different from themselves; lives lived outside of what we each personally believe to be truth. When people don’t understand something they try to fight it by poisoning it with humility and shame and insult. If you are getting that much negative attention toward something you said or did then you hit a nerve with the insulter and that means you did something right, something that person wishes he/she did instead of you.  Once you show your outward agreement to the insult you give permission for anyone to do it again and again. By building internal immunity toward the negatives people will throw at you, about you, becomes a gift you not only give yourself but also to those that admire you and respect you.

How then do we build immunity? The answer to that question is very personal. For me, my internal immunity comes from knowing that God loves me. There are times when I have to repeat that to myself especially during really weak life moments but when I can start my every day believing and knowing his love of me then I have put on my armor and can move about my life with immunity toward the negatives. What are some ways that you choose to help build immunity toward preventing taking things personally?

Each of our daily successes and failures are so temperamental. We are subject to the whims of being the goat or the hero on any given day. Learning not to take things personally, whether in good or in bad perspectives is a way to build immunity against negative personal thoughts and to know that the goat or the hero outlook comes from how others are seeing us based on the agreements we made inside of ourselves. It really has nothing to do with us at all. The people that put themselves in a position to judge our actions and thoughts are just trying to build themselves up by putting us down. Why would any individual ever agree to that?

Don Miguel Ruiz says,

“Don’t take it personally. I may touch a nerve inside of you with what I say but that means that you have wounds inside of you that I have touched on with words that I have spoken. You see the world with different eyes than mine. Your personal truth has nothing to do with me.”

As a little boy my son would lie. In his mind if he didn’t tell the truth about what happened then he wouldn’t get in trouble. The “trouble” he feared was a lie he told himself and then believed to be true. If I allowed myself to take it personally that my son is learning to lie because I am a bad mother then I wouldn’t be able to see that he is in the middle of learning a life lesson for himself. If I allow myself to take it personally then I would equally believe that I am a bad mother to my other children as well, all the time, in all circumstances even if their life lessons are different. The downward spiral of despair within me would take its toll on everyone in my life. Thankfully I stepped back, way back from that kind of negative agreement of being a bad mother and realized that my son’s life lessons are his to learn and mine to guide, not take responsibility for. If I am to judge my mothering so harshly then I should equally judge any goodness the children display with harshness too.

“You are who you are when nobody’s watching.” Stephen Fry

Is there ever a time when you are alone that you are content and happy with who you are? If so, then why can’t you bring that person to every situation outside of home?

Here is Don Miguel Ruiz:

“As you make a habit of not taking anything personally, you won’t need to place your trust in what others do or say. You will only need to trust yourself to make responsible choices. You are never responsible for the actions of others; you are only responsible for you. If you keep this agreement, you can travel around the world with your heart completely open and no one can hurt you.”

So what are some steps we all can take to get in the mindset of not taking things so personally?

Assume the best in others: When you meet someone for the first time you are on your best behavior. There hasn’t been a reason or enough time to form judgments or attitudes about the person you are meeting or vice versa. Continue to assume the best in the people you meet for the first time as well as those you know for a while. When you raise others to a better level of existence through how you choose to see them then they will reflect that “better” inner person right back.

Stay in the moment: When you get that initial prickly sense in your gut that says “this sounds personal” stay in the moment and see it through before your attention changes from who you are with to only you and your feelings. Notice things going on around you. Are you the only person being targeted? How well do you know this person? Is this normal behavior from him/her to be so insulting? Have you had problems in the past with this person when he/she starts to feel insecure? Concentrate your attention on that person and try to see what he/she sees. See that person as you would like to be seen. Compassion and kindness are contagious and can only win the moment when we switch to empathy.

Mentally review your own agreement: Do you tend to always take things personally? Do you self-reject before anyone else has a chance to reject you? Do you always make other people’s actions and comments only about you?

Are you always the victim?

Remember that the person doing the insulting might have had a bad day and doesn’t want to draw attention to their own insecurities and sense of failure so that person will target anyone else in order to draw attention away from them. If you know yourself well enough and like what you know then your own mental agreement will not be able to accept any insult from other people.

Don’t let hurt feelings live on forever: What does the relationship mean to you? Pull that person aside and verify that the insult he/she made was truly about you. Let that person know that it wasn’t cool at all to pull you into that moment like that. Making other people accountable for their behavior will not only boost your respect level up in your eyes but also in the eyes of others. Teach people how to treat you by taking back the power you give away when you let the negative inner agreement come through.

It’s a good habit to form within your mind to ask yourself, “What else could be at play here?”

It’s not only the bad things that count: Compliments can be as dangerous to your self-worth as insults. Make an internal agreement with yourself right now that people who say nice things to you or about you have no effect on who are or how you behave. You know who you are, you know who you want the world to see and your self-worth is not solely based on the good word from others.

Be kind to yourself and others, always: It is soooo normal to get upset when we feel like we have been verbally attacked or that the universe is “out to get us today.” Forgive yourself immediately when you realize you are behaving as the victim. Take a deep breath and let it out slowly. Apologize to yourself for getting so self-absorbed and practice patience and tolerance of yourself.

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

Call to Action

How often do you find yourself having a good or bad day based on the approval or disapproval of other people?

What would happen throughout the course of your day if you started every single day saying something positive to yourself?

How well do you know you? The more you know for sure about you the less likely you will be to take things personally.

Where is one place in your life you can start to build your truth and your immunity?

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The Year of Self-Agreements Part 1

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“So I forced myself to step out of my comfort zone and go out and connect with people. I realized that no one knew me here. I could become whoever I wanted to be for these people, and that became my courage.” Charlotte Eriksson, Empty Roads & Broken Bottles; in search for The Great Perhaps

I started this New Year thinking about all the millions of resolutions people will make and break before the first month is over. The very word sits in my stomach like a heavy stone. For me resolving to do something is very much like choosing the lesser of two evils. I much prefer to use happier words like aspire, agreement, choice, decide, declaration, and tenacity.

So I set out this month to find books, writings, and/or motivational words to inspire me to make purposeful changes in my everyday life. As I have been made wonderfully aware, my inspirations are like seeds of growth I want to plant into my existence.

The word agreement sits very well with me right now so I started doing research into ideas that swirl around the word agreement. I found a book I had always wanted to read called The Four Agreements by author Don Miguel Ruiz and a slow January seemed the perfect time to tackle not only the book but to start to set my agreements for the year. An agreement, it turns out, is an arrangement agreed upon between 2 people but in this case the agreement I am seeking is an arrangement between me and my soul.

After reading about the first agreement I knew I had found a great starting point for my personal growth aspirations. So I decided to share with you what I’m learning by parsing through each agreement and how I hope to apply it to my own life’s perspective.

Just like the golden rules exist as guidelines to follow for a peaceful, productive, honest society of human beings to help each of us co-exist and honor the life we were given, the 4 agreements of humanity that are explained in this book, in my opinion, are crucial for each of us to be the leader of our own personal existence by adapting these agreements as further declarations of being.

These agreements are personal because how we interpret them is the essence of how these agreements work. All of these agreements have to start within each of our hearts first before they can blossom out toward the world we live in.

The first personal agreement begins with “Be Impeccable with your Word.”

“Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with shades of deeper meaning.” Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Author Don Miguel Ruiz writes,

“The human mind is like a fertile ground where seeds are continually being planted. The seeds are opinions, ideas, and concepts. You plant a seed, a thought, and it grows. The word is like a seed, and the human mind is so fertile. The only problem is that too often it is fertile for the seeds of fear. Every human mind is fertile, but only for those kinds of seeds it is prepared for.”

Just like a small child is not yet ready to understand the ways of an adult so too are adults not always ready to understand the ways of other adults.

Thinking about the concept of words being seeds and knowing how powerful words can be when spoken in just the right tone of voice I started to wonder what would happen if each of us woke up each morning and paid deliberate attention to how we say “good morning”. What would the tiny purposeful act of saying the words “good morning” do to set the tone for my day and for someone else’s day?

I thought about this particular question because on the second day of a job I am volunteering for I was early enough to watch and listen to people coming in to their job first thing in the morning. Everything is new to me; the people, the language used in this new environment, the sounds of machines and phones and construction so I am quite sensitive to ALL that goes on around me. Upon seeing someone first thing that morning a gentleman greeted a co-worker with a very happy, enthusiastic “good morning” and it stopped the incoming co-worker in her tracks. So much so that before she said her reciprocal “good morning” back she commented on how chipper and happy this greeting was toward her. She was compelled to ask if something wonderful had happened to this person who greeted her because a greeting with such enthusiasm was so unusual. How sad is that? For the rest of the day I didn’t hear negative tones or words from either of those 2 co-workers or anyone around them.

Sometimes my son wakes up in the morning and he has a hard time greeting the day with a smile or enthusiasm. His “good morning” greeting is so down and dumpy it just makes the rest of the family feel so deflated and less energetic. We often want to ask if something is wrong but we have learned that this is the way he greets each day and not to take it personally but I know it would make a great positive impact on us all if he would be a lot more happy and chipper in the morning.

What does it mean to be impeccable with your Word? According to the Toltec Spirit website, to be impeccable with your Word simply means to use your Word in the direction of love and truth.

“Your WORD has to do with the power you have to create through every kind of expression you make. You create through multiple types of expressions including emotions, actions, what you refrain from, and what you express your faith in. Being impeccable with your WORD means paying attention to all the ways in which you speak and interpret and help create images of what you say and of yourself.”

“I am certain of nothing but the holiness of the Heart’s affections and the truth of the Imagination.” John Keats

Impeccable means not capable of sinning; free from fault or blame; flawless. Other than God himself I don’t know anyone who is impeccable in all aspects of their life all the time. Sometimes we can be impeccable in the way we dress or in how we do a particular job but certainly not every day in every way. To begin to truly understand how impeccable with your Word can translate to happiness and be contagious it would seem to me that I would have to practice all the time and allow myself to re-interpret the ways in which I not only see the world but more importantly my own self.

Mr. Ruiz writes,

“Being impeccable with your Word is the correct use of your energy; it means to use your energy in the direction of truth and love for yourself. If I love myself I will express that love in my interactions with you; if I love you, then you will love me. If I insult you, then you will insult me. If I have gratitude for you, you will have gratitude for me. Whenever we hear an opinion and believe what we hear, we make an internal agreement, and the agreement becomes part of our belief system. Most of the time the power of our Word is completely misused in such ways as blame, guilt, insults, gossip, and revenge. In reality the poison of these beliefs we spread is about how we feel about our own self.”

“The words with which a child’s heart is poisoned, whether through malice or through ignorance, remain branded in his memory, and sooner or later they burn his soul.”Carlos Ruiz Zafón, The Shadow of the Wind

How easy does it become to be impeccable with your Word when you realize you have been conditioned by the world you live in to self-protect and blend? When was the first time you can remember believing something bad about yourself? When did you make that first negative belief agreement about you?

Most people use negative words to hold others in fear. If I believe that I am no good as a person or in doing a particular job and it’s noticeable by how I talk about myself or carry myself then that person could use their word to keep me in fear because of the agreement I made within myself of being no good.

For example, this year I decided to live outside my comfort zone as often as possible. Volunteering at a hospital was one of the ways I decided to start. I have never ever had an interest or desire to work in a hospital setting. I am extremely grateful to all the people that help make us well when we are sick but I did not want to be any part of that world. By allowing myself to step so far out of the agreement I had always had with myself of not being capable of doing a job I THINK I will not like I am able to grow my heart and my soul. I realized that as a volunteer I am always in the right place at the right time. Living outside my comfort zone in this way stomps fear to the ground. Who knows what else I am capable of doing and being now that I have started to embrace courage rather than fear; now that I have decided to change the internal agreement I have made; now that I decided not to listen to words that keep me in fear of trying new things. The love and truth I find within myself for each new experience I learn from helps me become more impeccable with my Word.

But sometimes……

“Silence is a source of Great Strength.” Lao Tzu

In the example I gave about the “good morning” greeting, I realized that being the new kid meant that silence and listening were very strong tools I could use right away. Being silent can be part of how I create. Immediately it tells people that I mind my own business therefore I do not gossip, I listen carefully when instructions are told to me and the result of that listening is a job well done, I don’t interrupt or interfere with someone else’s conversation, and I can be counted on to be real.

How else does being impeccable with my Word help me and those around me?

Discard fear: F.E.A.R. is an acronym for False Evidence Appearing Real. If I let fear always dictate my every thought and action then I am not able to be effective as a human being in any circumstance. What am I truly afraid of, for instance, in being the first person to say “good morning” to someone? A simple fear like that can set the tone for so many other fears to take root.

Heighten my empathy: Being impeccable with my Word means that I am purposefully being aware of how I speak along with the words I use. I am putting myself in someone else’s shoes. How would I want to be spoken to and what words will be most soothing and friendly in particular situations. This is by no means easy. It’s asking me to stop almost every time I want to converse with someone and take a deep breath before I answer a comment or question

Practice what I believe or want to believe: When I want to change a habit I know it is going to take conscious effort every day to go from one habit to the next. If I believe that being a beacon of love and truth is important toward my success as a human being then I must be diligent in my daily practice of love and truth. It is very much like practicing to learn an instrument, like say, the guitar. In order for me to get so good at playing the guitar it sounds like I was born to play, I first must make it a habit of practicing and then challenging my practice to keep getting better. This could take a lifetime but that’s okay with me because I have all the time in the world to master something I believe in.

Do my best every day: I know that I won’t always like what I have created on a particular day in my attempt at practicing being impeccable with my Word but I can’t let failure in that moment define all of me. Mistakes and pitfalls will happen but being impeccable means to get right back up and try again. There will be more successes than failures. Learning to forgive my mistakes and try again means I’ve turned the mistakes into a success.

I know that these ideas can be easily applied to many other areas of my life but I find it easier to be specific as I go.

The best part about being impeccable with my Word is that the more I practice and tend to the seeds of love and truth the deeper the roots of my new agreement with myself can grow. What I then believe about myself can go out to the hearts of others and the stronger I feel against the poison of fear of what negative words might come at me. I can continue to cultivate fertile ground for more and more impeccable words and better self-agreements.

Call to Action

What is one thing you can do today to start thinking the best of yourself?

When, in the course of your days, can you be impeccable with your Word?

How do you think it will feel in your heart to stop thinking badly of yourself and start thinking that you can DO anything you set your mind to?

 

9 Times Curiosity Softens Judgment

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“….. it would be interesting to find out what goes on in that moment when someone looks at you and draws all sorts of conclusions.”Malcolm Gladwell

The dictionary defines judgment as “an opinion so pronounced; a formal decision held by a court; the process of forming an opinion or evaluation by discerning and comparing; an opinion or estimate so formed.” The word judgment has a kind of negative quality to it and when exercised seems to put a person in a mirage of control and power with regard to their words, thoughts and perceptions.

Discernment however is defined as “the ability to see and understand people, things, or situations clearly and intelligently; the quality of being able to grasp and comprehend what is obscure.” Discernment to me feels more like open-mindedness and forethought. It feels empowering because it seems to take into account all aspects of a situation without negativity.

As a life coach we are taught about the top 24 value characteristics and their definitions and how these values are used to strengthen each individual. Judgment falls into the value characteristic with critical thinking and open-mindedness. The definition says, “Thinking things through and examining them from all sides are important aspects of who you are. You do not jump to conclusions, and you rely only on solid evidence to make your decisions. You are able to change your mind.” I love this definition because it is positive and freeing. I would love to see the word judgment changed to discernment. It also happens to be in my top 5 strong value characteristics of who I am at my core.

Why am I giving you a lesson in judgment?

Well, I recently came up against a very irate reader who felt compelled to voice her discontent to one of my blog posts. In my quick mental response I was thrilled because it meant that I generated so much emotion that a reader felt so strongly as to write about it in a personal email to me. Upon further perusal of her rant I realized that although I welcome all responses with open-mindedness and curiosity the actual response didn’t get specific in any way as to what was so emotional for her or why she felt compelled to write. I could tell it was a rant because the tone was negative and she used capital letters and exclamation points. Courage dear reader….don’t be shy, let your thoughts fly free.

“One reason we rush so quickly to the vulgar satisfactions of judgment, and love to revel in our righteous outrage, is that it spares us from the impotent pain of empathy, and the harder, messier work of understanding.” Tim Kreider, We Learn Nothing

Maturity tells me do not provoke the monster. Let the reader have his/her say and move on. Not everything I write is going to please everyone and I’m okay with that. It’s almost like an oath writers take when they go public with their thoughts as happens often with blog posts. I couldn’t help however the questions that kept running through my mind:

How does lack of curiosity play a role in judgment?

When does judgment become negative?

Can curiosity keep judgment at bay?

When my children were little I found it fascinating to watch them learn something new. Their curiosity didn’t always include a question right away but their actions and body language and facial expressions showed their desire to know more and learn something. As they got older and the questions started coming along I realized it was a great indicator that they were ready to understand the answers to their questions. How I answered them was just as important as being open-minded to answering their questions for the age they were at. If I didn’t know the answer we would look it up together. I hope I taught them to always get the facts before forming an opinion or judgment.

As adults I have to wonder when did judgment take a front row seat and relegate curiosity to the back of the room?

The pure definition of curiosity is “the desire to learn or know about anything; inquisitiveness.” I can’t imagine what the world would be like if curiosity didn’t exist; if we just accepted what we were taught or what we read without question or wonder or awe.

“Life is an adventure of passion, risk, danger, laughter, beauty, love; a burning curiosity to go with the action to see what it is all about, to go search for a pattern of meaning, to burn one’s bridges because you’re never going to go back anyway, and to live to the end.” Saul D. Alinsky, Reveille for Radicals

As I get older 2 things are happening:

One, mortality screams louder and louder with each passing day and

Two,  curiosity for me means pushing my life to limits I’ve always only been afraid of . Fear now takes a back seat to curiosity. We only have this one chance at life so why hold back from what piques our interests?

“It is simply this: do not tire, never lose interest, never grow indifferent—lose your invaluable curiosity and you let yourself die. It’s as simple as that.” Tove Jansson, Fair Play

So how do we stay curious without judgment?

Here are some ideas that might be of help and interest….

It is human nature to form an opinion about almost everything. Opinions are great but if you don’t have information to back up your opinion, if you don’t show truth and/or facts with your opinion then it becomes judgment and judgment just doesn’t feel good no matter how you look at it. You can still maintain your opinion but be open-minded to new information. My father used to say that the only things that are for certain are death and taxes. I’m not so sure any more about the taxes part but there is no arguing with death although there are people that would argue that they were declared clinically dead and are still alive today so see, even death seems negotiable and curious. The point is that life is open for business and being open is expansive and freeing.

“Let go of certainty. The opposite isn’t uncertainty. It’s openness, curiosity and a willingness to embrace paradox, rather than choose up sides. The ultimate challenge is to accept ourselves exactly as we are, but never stop trying to learn and grow.” Tony Schwartz

Opinions are based on curiosity. Wanting to know the “why” or “how” of something drives our inner self to stay free of judgment for a bit if only because we are learning and growing and seeking truth and wisdom.

“I had discovered that learning something, no matter how complex, wasn’t hard when I had a reason to want to know it.” Homer Hickam, Rocket Boys

Curiosity allows for personal internal expansion. We don’t know what life experiences led someone down a certain path of life or thought and it may not be for us to know but when you are curious about a person and their thought processes, instead of judging without knowing their story or the facts you have the freedom and dare I say responsibility to put yourself in that person’s shoes and imagine what their experiences and feelings are like. This is empathy. Once you can feel what they might be feeling there is no room whatsoever for judgment.

“Self-absorption in all its forms kills empathy, let alone compassion. When we focus on ourselves, our world contracts as our problems and preoccupations loom large. But when we focus on others, our world expands. Our own problems drift to the periphery of the mind and so seem smaller, and we increase our capacity for connection – or compassionate action.” Daniel Goleman, Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships

Curiosity allows for gratitude. Judgment allows for nothing but walls and road blocks. Sure there are times when I look back over my life so far and can more easily find what is missing than what is right with my life; what is a burden rather than a blessing but then I pull back, step out of my own picture and think about what I still want to learn and experience. How can I make those curiosities happen; how can I be grateful for the opportunity to learn and be and evolve as more of who I am? Being grateful for what life has given me so far allows me to seek and learn about what more there is out in this big world.

Curiosity encourages, no demands, relationship. Judgment screams isolation. In his book, Making Marriage Simple, author Harville Hendrix writes, “We are wounded and healed in relationships. We cannot know who we are except in relationships.” This can be a love relationship, a spiritual relationship, a co-worker relationship, a mentor relationship, etc. If we never expose ourselves to the ideas and teachings of others, if we never allow all the many relationships of our lives to peak our curiosities then what are we living for?

“When I think of the wisest people I know, they share one defining trait: curiosity. They turn away from the minutiae of their lives-and focus on the world around them. They are motivated by the desire to explore the unfamiliar. They are drawn toward what they don’t understand.” Dani Shapiro, Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life

Always be ready to ask yourself if what you are thinking is of a closed mind perspective or open mind perspective. Questions like:

What exists beyond the way I am seeing this?

How can I learn more about this?

Where might there be another opinion or perspective?

We can’t help judging ourselves but judging others is never a good idea. We are all perfectly imperfect and we all have a lifetime of opportunity to hone and chisel and smooth out those areas of our lives that we alone choose to judge to be wrong or in need of repair. Fear holds us back sometimes, okay, lots of times; fear asks us to face our own truths and we don’t like doing that. It’s hard to look in the mirror and see what we don’t like and easy to then pass on that internal hate toward others. Practice compassion and curiosity with yourself and judgment will find it very hard to settle in anywhere. Find a tiny bit of courage to shine a light on your own troubles or circumstances and you’ll see people rally to help you, no judgment.

“You cannot be fair to others without first being fair to yourself. Know that a well-honed sense of justice is a measure of personal experience, and all experience is a measure of self. Know that the highest expression of justice is mercy. Thus, as the supreme judge in your own court, you must have compassion for yourself. Otherwise, cede your gavel.”Vera Nazarian, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration

Judgment is like poison. It alienates others and at times can be contagious. It alienates others by making people not want to be near your constant judgmental attitude. It can be contagious because if you find someone who enjoys judging others like you do then gossip takes root, judgment grows like a cancer and before you know it feeling bad and opinionated without facts become the disease. Staying curious and open-minded is the best medicine for the poison of judgment.

“If you didn’t grow up like I did then you don’t know, and if you don’t know it’s probably better you don’t judge.” Junot Díaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Curiosity creates knowledge. The more curious you are the more curious you become and the more wisdom and knowledge you obtain. Your mind grows, your spirit grows, your conversations grow, your connections grow and more doors to the world open up. Judgment keeps all doors closed. Nothing grows in judgment.

“A much more interesting, kind, adventurous, and joyful approach to life is to begin to develop curiosity, not caring whether the object of our inquisitiveness is bitter or sweet.” Pema Chödrön, The Wisdom of No Escape: How to Love Yourself and Your World

Call to Action

Thanksgiving is coming. How can you practice curiosity with gratitude and without judgment? When faced with family and friends that push your buttons how can you come from a curious place and not a gossipy, judgmental place about those people that rub you the wrong way?

 

Stop Believing Your Own Lie

 

 

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“You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith and hope.” — Thomas Merton

What are your challenges today?

What possibilities exist in just one of those challenges?

If you faced your right now with courage, faith and hope, then what would be the outcome?

I was reading an article referencing the story in the bible of the good Samaritan, Luke 10:30-37. The thought behind the article was about tangible things we can do to live our faith. The premise of the installation I was reading had to do with how “to love your neighbor as yourself.” Mark 12:31.

As I was reading the article I started to ask myself, what if I don’t love myself? What if I have such a deep belief that I am not enough, that I am not worthy of love for myself and from myself that I can’t find it inside of me to love any neighbor? What if the people that were not the good Samaritan also felt and believed they were not worthy of giving or receiving love and so that was why they just kept walking by?

This happens sometimes when I take my morning walk. Suddenly I freeze inside and don’t say hello or good morning first. I feel overwhelmingly shy and wish that the person I am walking past will say hello first and force me to say hello back. I hate when I start believing this shyness to be true about me. I’ve worked on this issue over and over and what I know is that when something I perceive as a negative about myself to be true it affects everything I believe about me. The bottom line truth of it is that I am too much in my own head and making something as simple as saying hello to someone all about me and not about them. In the story of the good Samaritan, the man that stopped to help the other was in no way in his own head. He wasn’t thinking about his own comfort or discomfort, he was thinking only of how he can be of aid to someone in need. He was using the gifts God gave him to help someone. Could life sometimes be as simple as saying hello to a neighbor and therefore setting the tone for the whole day in happiness?

“Reality is a projection of your thoughts or the things you habitually think about.”
Stephen Richards

It is hard to stand so far back from the experiences of my life and not take it personally sometimes. I have been looking for a supplemental job; something I can do in between coaching. It just seems like every time I send out my resume` I hear back with a rejection. Accumulate enough rejections and it starts to affect my psyche. Self-love and self-worth become an issue for me at that low point and it becomes difficult to keep lifting myself up. I try not to dwell on those negative feelings because I know it will become an everyday thought but sometimes……

I can probably do lots of internal work for the rest of my life trying to figure out where the heck these limiting beliefs came from, how it all really got started but until I can forgive myself, until I can truly have faith in myself this is my challenge. I know I must self-discover and recover from these limiting beliefs. It will take lots of courage and hope to work through this. A very powerful way for me to get started on this recovery process is to create my “if, then” statement. If I practice having faith in myself then I will come out of this a better person and a more peaceful person inside and out. This will help me step away from me and step into serving others.

Two years ago I decided I had had enough of looking in the mirror and not liking what I saw. I wanted to eat healthier and I knew I didn’t want to go on a diet so I started by creating my “if, then” statement: If I want to feel better physically and emotionally when I look in the mirror then I will choose healthier foods for my body each time I sit down to eat. Repeating this “if, then” statement has helped me lose weight and has empowered me to make the food choices a lifetime evolution not a diet.

“Faith is a place of mystery, where we find the courage to believe in what we cannot see and the strength to let go of our fear of uncertainty.”
— Brene Brown

If I can be successful in one area of my life then I can be successful in another area of my life.What I have learned so far is that when I feel overwhelmed with a negative thought I see myself as a victim. A victim of my own creation. The first step is to work through my victim story and start to own my life again. I need to take charge of the decisions I have ever made and will ever make and be firm within my heart that what I decide is what is ultimately best for me.

So the questions are: What am I believing and what can I let go of within that belief?

In her book, Loving What Is, author Byron Katie asks the reader to go through 4 questions that guide the thought process and action steps toward letting go of limiting beliefs about our victimhood. As a victim we continually treat ourselves as if whatever hurts us we look to put blame on the person(s) that caused us to hurt. We deflect away from ourselves because it is too hard to admit that we could be inflicting the hurt.

The 4 questions are:

Identify your belief and ask yourself, “Is it true?” Ms. Katie asks the reader ” is it true that the name you answer to is really your name?” It was a name given to you at birth and was drilled into you as your identification but is it true that your name is really who you are?

How can you be sure that this belief is absolutely, without a doubt, true? If you believe that you don’t love yourself, where can you show proof that this belief is absolutely true? Within your proof can you continually find more proof as you ask yourself if each thought you are trying to justify is absolutely true.

How does it feel to believe this belief about yourself to be absolutely true? If you cry or whimper or bawl your eyes when you can feel what it feels like to believe this limiting belief you hold inside of you then chances are the belief is not serving any good purpose and therefore inner peace and outer peace toward yourself and others is not possible until you can let the belief go. Set yourself free and be at peace.

Who would you be without this belief? For me, I would be a kinder, more compassionate, a more loving and patient person with my “neighbors” and with myself. I would have a voice and be proud of it; I would stop letting myself be a victim of my own life. I would be free of a very dark and sinister cloud.

The 5th step is not a question but a call to action. Turn the belief around. Stop wasting life minutes by being the victim and believing your inner story. Look at the picture of the life you have created through this limiting belief and see the clear sky all around you. If control is an issue for you then recognize what you can do and leave the rest. Let come what comes, let go what needs to go.

So I ask again, what are the challenges/beliefs you are facing right this minute?

How can you start, right now, to face that challenge/belief with courage, hope and faith and turn that inner turmoil around?

Where would life expand and bring out the best in you because you are free from that limiting challenge/belief?

“I have known friendship love, parental love, romantic love, family love and unrequited love in my life time, but the only love that made a difference was self love. You don’t need confirmation from the world or another person that you matter. You simply do matter. When you finally believe that truth and live it then you can do amazing things with your life!”
Shannon L. Alder

When I read this quote I realized, God doesn’t make junk. I’m here because he loves me and wanted me to be here; he has a purpose for my life. If I believe in his love for me and that I matter then my gratitude for all he has given me should propel me toward using my precious life minutes for good thoughts and good actions toward and for myself as well as my neighbor.

Call to Action

In the next month (30 days) start to explore and work on the challenges and limiting beliefs you are facing and make it a goal to set yourself free. Create your “if, then” statement and begin. Here is a worksheet that you can copy over and over again that could start to help you be free of your victim story and start to propel you toward the love God intended all along.

Let me know how you are doing and if you need support through a tough spot call or write to me.