Archive for September, 2011

28 sep

Speak from the Heart

RickHansonWhat’s Your Heart Say?
The Practice
Speak from the heart.
Why?

One Christmas I hiked down into the Grand Canyon, whose bottom lay a vertical mile below the rim. Its walls were layered like a cake, and a foot-high stripe of red or gray rock indicated a million-plus years of erosion by the Colorado river. Think of water – so soft and gentle – gradually carving through the hardest stone to reveal great beauty. Sometimes what seems weakest is actually most powerful.

In the same way, speaking from an open heart can seem so vulnerable yet be the strongest move of all. Naming the truth – in particular the facts of one’s experience, which no one can disprove – with simplicity and sincerity, and without contentiousness or blame, has great moral force. You can see the effects writ small and large, from a child telling her parents “I feel bad when you fight” to the profound impact of people describing the atrocities they suffered in Kosovo or Rwanda.

I met recently with a man whose marriage is being smothered by the weight of everything unsaid. What’s unnamed is all normal-range stuff – like wishing his wife were less irritable with their children, and more affectionate with him – but there’s been a kind of fear about facing it, as if it could blow up the relationship. But not talking is what’s actually blowing up their relationship – and in fact, when people do communicate in a heartfelt way, it’s dignified and compelling, and it usually evokes support and open-heartedness from others.

How?

This week, look for one or more opportunities to speak from your heart. Pick a topic, a person, and a moment that’s likely to go well.

Before you talk:
· Ground yourself in good intentions. To discover and express the truth, whatever it is. To help yourself and the other person.

· Get a basic sense of what you want to say. Focus on your experience: thoughts, feelings, body sensations, wants, memories, images, the dynamic flow through awareness; it’s hard to argue with your experience, but easy to get into wrangles about situations, events, the past, or problem-solving.

· Be confident. Have faith in your sincerity, and in the truth itself. Recognize that others may not like what you have to say, but you have a right to say it without needing to justify it; and that saying it is probably good for your relationship.

When you speak:
· Take a breath and settle into your body.

· Recall being with people who care about you. (This will help deepen your sense of inner strength, and warm up the neural circuits of wholeheartedness.)

· Soften your throat, eyes, chest, and heart. Try to find a sense of goodwill, even compassion for the other person.

· Bring to mind what you want to say.

· Take another breath, and start speaking.

· Try to stay in touch with your experience as you express it. Don’t get into any sense of persuasion, justification, defensiveness, or problem-solving. (That’s for later, if at all.) Be direct and to the point; when people truly speak from the heart, they often say what needs to be said in a few minutes or less; it’s the “case” wrapped around the heart of the matter that takes all those extra words.

· Keep coming back to the essential point for you, whatever it is (especially if the other person gets reactive or tries to shift the topic). And feel free to disengage if the other person is just not ready to hear you; maybe another time would be better. “Success” here is not getting the other person to change, but you expressing yourself.

· As appropriate, open to and encourage the other person speaking from the heart, too.

And afterwards: know that whatever happened, you did a good thing. It’s brave and it’s hard (especially at first) to speak from the heart. But so necessary to make this world a better place.

* * *

Rick Hanson, PhD is a neuropsychologist and author of Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom (in 21 languages) – and Just One Thing: Developing a Buddha Brain One Simple Practice at a Time. Founder of the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom and Affiliate of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, he’s taught at Oxford, Stanford, and Harvard, and in meditation centers in Europe, North America, and Australia. His work has been featured on the BBC, NPR, Consumer Reports Health, and U.S. News and World Report. His blog – Just One Thing – has over 25,000 subscribers and suggests a simple practice each week that will bring you more joy, more fulfilling relationships, and more peace of mind and heart. If you wish, you can subscribe to Just One Thing here.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Dr. Rick Hanson on September 28th, 2011 in General, Relationships, Things We Love | No comments Read related posts in , ,

23 sep

Will You Still Love Me If…

MikeRobbinsNewOver the past few months I’ve been looking at the phenomenon of approval seeking that exists in my life and my relationships. My mother’s death has brought up an intense mix of emotions and reflections. Like most people, my mom was a fundamental source of love for me, especially early in my life. As such, I learned various ways, from quite a young age, to gain her approval. Although this evolved over time and I outgrew certain aspects of approval seeking from my mom specifically, I realize now that I was much more attached to her approval, even as an adult, than I thought I was.

The irony is that this had very little to do with my mother herself. While she did have strong opinions, like most of us, and she and I dealt with our fair share of conflicts and challenges in our relationship, I never questioned her love, commitment, and loyalty to me. Much of the “conditionality” in our relationship (i.e. me thinking I had to be a certain way to be loved and accepted) was self imposed. As I’ve looked at this more deeply in the recent months, I realize this is also true in just about all of the relationships in my life – family, friends, clients, and more.

I read a great book a number of years ago written by my friend, mentor, and counselor of seventeen years, Chris Andersonn, called Will You Still Love Me if I Don’t Win? This book was written specifically for parents of young athletes, but has a much wider and broader message about both parenting and life – it’s really about how much pressure most of us feel as kids (and then throughout our lives) to perform for our parents and others.

This pressure to perform and to “live up to other people’s expectations” creates an enormous amount of stress in our lives. Clearly there are healthy expectations and positive forms of accountability that benefit us (i.e. when people around us expect excellence, integrity, kindness, success, and more which can, in fact, influence us in a positive way). However, more often than not, we place a great deal of pressure on ourselves to act, look, and “perform” in specific ways that we believe we “have” to in order to receive the love, acceptance, and approval we want (or sometimes feel we need) from others.

Consciously or unconsciously we tend to ask ourselves questions like, “Will you still love me if…”

- I tell you how I really feel
- I gain weight or my physical appearance changes
- I change jobs or careers
- I don’t succeed or produce specific results
- I disagree with you about important/sensitive stuff
- I don’t live up to your standards/expectations
- I want to alter or renegotiate the nature of our relationship

These and many other questions like them create an intense dynamic of pressure in our lives and relationships. And in many cases, like I’ve recently realized with my mom, we create most of this pressure ourselves. Often the place where unconditional love is lacking most significantly is within us. We have a tendency to be quite hard on ourselves and to have lots of conditions in place for our own approval. This demand for perfection is always a set up for a failure.

What if we let go of our conditions and just loved and accepted ourselves and others exactly the way we and they are right now? Acceptance isn’t about resignation, it’s about freedom, peace, and appreciation. When we practice unconditional love and acceptance it doesn’t mean that everything is “perfect” or that things can’t or won’t change in a positive way. However, love and acceptance are about appreciating the way things are and trusting that we and other people are “good enough”.

Seeking the approval of others is something most of us learn to do early in life and is actually a natural, normal, and healthy aspect of our growth as human beings. However, as we evolve, seeking approval not only becomes problematic, but can be quite damaging if we don’t consciously pay attention to it and ultimately alter it.

Here are three things you can do to loosen the grip of approval seeking:

Notice – Pay attention to your approval seeking tendencies. In what relationships and situations does this show up most often for you? Like most things in life, change starts with awareness, so noticing when, how, and what specifically it is that you do or say (in your head or out loud) in terms of seeking approval is the first step.

Share – Talk about this with the specific people in your life it impacts the most – your significant other, your family, your friends, your co-workers, your boss, your clients, and more. Because much of this stuff is self imposed, when we start talking about it we often realize that we’re putting a lot of pressure on ourselves, in many cases unnecessarily. In other cases there may be some unspoken dynamics in place that can be altered by having honest and vulnerable conversations. Either way, talking about it will almost always help alter things in a positive way.

Give To Yourself – Give yourself that which you are seeking, which in most cases is love and acceptance. The source of much of our pain and suffering, as well as our joy and happiness is us. So often we’re looking for others to give to us that which we need to give to ourselves. When we love and approve of ourselves, two important things happen. First of all, we become less needy of the approval of others. Second, because we are giving it to ourselves and aren’t as needy of it from others, we often get even more love and acceptance from those around us.

While this may seem simple and straight forward, it can be tricky for many of us as our patterns of approval seeking began before we had language and at a time in our lives that we can’t even access with conscious memory. As we do this important internal work, it’s essential that we’re gentle, kind, and compassionate with ourselves. And, when we remember that the love, acceptance, and approval we’re truly seeking is our own, we’re reminded that the answer is right inside of us, like it almost always is.

Mike Robbins is a sought-after motivational keynote speaker, coach, and the bestselling author of Focus on the Good Stuff (Wiley) and Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken (Wiley). More info – www.Mike-Robbins.com

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Mike Robbins on September 23rd, 2011 in General, Relationships, Uncategorized | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , ,

18 sep

Every No Gets Us Closer to a Yes

WEJMDConsider this example: Using a hypothetical number (since I am not aware of the statistics involved in car sales), let’s assume that for every 10 prospective customers that walk through the showroom door, one will be converted into a sale.

That being the case, a car salesman can expect to get a no from nine people before he closes a deal. Consequently, when he gets one no after another, there is no need for him to get depressed, anxious or angry. He doesn’t need to take it personally by interpreting it as a failure on his part. He doesn’t need to get discouraged or demoralized. He doesn’t need to perceive it as a setback or an obstacle. He doesn’t need to look at it as the universe giving him a hard time.

He simply needs to remind himself that it’s all part of the plan; that it’s all part of the law of averages; that every time he gets a no, he should actually be celebrating, because it brings him closer to the statistical number that equates to a yes.

Oftentimes, we get frustrated by things not happening on our timetable. Rather than seeing each “no” as one step closer to our goal, we interpret the “no” as a delay holding back our success. This speaks to our desire to control the universe so that it will do our bidding as we think it should and when we think it should.

The problem with this is that we can’t control the universe. People and circumstances that will eventually cooperate with us have their own timetable that we need to accept. Any attempt to manipulate and accelerate the process is oftentimes a mistake. It can lead us to either a burning bridge that could have been an appropriate path, or finding ourselves heading down a path that, in the long run, will prove to be a road to nowhere.

Acceptance & patience
It is better to accept that it takes time for people and circumstances to come together in a beneficial way for all concerned and to try not to force outcomes. Sometimes it’s best to accept the ebb and flow of things. Sometimes it’s best to not paddle furiously but rather to row our boat gently down the stream. Sometimes it’s best to let things happen at their own pace and have faith that when things don’t happen the way we think they should, it doesn’t mean that they never will.

Bottom line: We needn’t be afraid of rejection and failed efforts — take Thomas Edison, for example. Every time the universe said no to one of his attempts to invent the electric light bulb, he saw it as a help rather than a hindrance. He saw it as an opportunity to put aside an ineffectual approach he was taking so that he could redirect his attention to an alternative approach that might yield the success he was looking for. Every failed attempt brought him closer to success by enabling him to eliminate a wrong way so that he could eventually find the right way.

There is a right way for all of us, regardless of what goals we have set for ourselves. But we will not find it if we get derailed by perceived setbacks, obstacles, rejections, delays and outright failed attempts. Best that we be okay with every no we get and every failed attempt, seeing each as a positive stepping stone to our ultimate success.

Best we stay true to our vision. Best we stay confident and positive. Best we be flexible and stay open to alternative paths so as to modify and adapt our plan when necessary. Above all else, we don’t give up. We keep on trucking. We remind ourselves that it’s never over till it’s over.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Walter E Jacobson, MD on September 18th, 2011 in Career | No comments Read related posts in , , , , ,

16 sep

Do You Lie to Yourself?

AaronRossDo you ever have rough moments or days where you keep trying to tell yourself that you’re happy because you should be but you’re actually not? I know I do. I’ll think, “I’m happy,” but sometimes there’s moments or days, I’m not.

(It doesn’t really matter why I have those rough times, but mostly it’s because fear, uncertainty or doubt creep up on me and tackle me for a bit, before I can kick ‘em to the curb.)

I don’t mean to lie to myself, I do it automatically because I feel like I should be happy ALL THE TIME, given I have a clear life purpose, an incredible business, and an inspiring wife.

I feel guilty during times I’m not happy, like there’s something wrong with me. Especially with all the positives in my life, shouldn’t I be happy all the time?

That’s bullshit. I don’t know where my mind picked up the idea that I (or anyone) is supposed to be happy all the time, no matter how “successful” you are. There will ALWAYS be an ebb and flow in your life.

That’s just not real. Part of being human is having a range of emotions, including forms of fear.

In fact, it’s the challenges you’ve been through in life, the downs, that allow you to truly appreciate the ups.

If I hadn’t gotten married and divorced (and had many other short-term relationships), I wouldn’t be as grateful for my inspiring wife Jessica.

If I hadn’t worked in the corporate world (including starting a business and having it fail), I wouldn’t be as grateful for my fulfilling work with my authentic Unique Genius mentoring clients.

So be grateful for the downs - especially if you’re in one now!

Learn something from them, and inspire, educate and entertain others based on what you learned.

What past challenges can you be grateful for? Post them below in the ‘Share Your Thoughts’ section.

PS: those challenges, in some way, contribute to what I call your Unique Genius, and you can authentically help yourself by sharing your story and lessons learned with others.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Aaron Ross on September 16th, 2011 in Career, New Directions, Personal Stories | No comments

16 sep

How to Stay Cool and in Control When Dealing with Interruptions

RenitaKalhorn“The effectiveness of work increases according to geometric progression if there are no interruptions.”André Maurois, 19th century author

Gee, thanks for the tip, André .

Under benign circumstances, interruptions are, at best, annoying. When you’re under the gun with a tight deadline, verging on panic, they can push you over the edge in a gritted-teeth-bulging-neck-vein “LEAVE. ME. ALONE.” kind of way.

Because they’re unpredictable, interruptions exacerbate our feeling of not being in control. Think about it: a phone call is less disruptive – even if it’s unscheduled and breaks the continuity of what you’re doing – if it’s expected.

So, since enraged and reactive is probably not where you wanna be, let’s talk about a few things you can do to regain and maintain a sense of control:

1. LIMIT POTENTIAL INPUTS.
We’ll start with the obvious. Turn off the ringers and audible alerts on your email, texts and phone. Step away from the Book of Face. Close your office door if you have one.

2. GO ON THE OFFENSE.
Let your colleagues in on your game plan – give them some context: “I’m on a tight deadline and will be off-limits from 10:00 to 1:00. At 1:00, I’ll check my email and can address your urgent questions then…”

This has multiple benefits: one, it reduces the fear of being distracted by drive-by queries (which allows you to focus and get into the flow zone). Two, it reassures your colleagues that they will have access to you and lets them know when. And three, it forces them to evaluate the urgency of their issue and possibly resolve it on their own.

3. CHOREOGRAPH YOUR MOVES.
Still, we all know that some interruptions can’t be avoided – and they often do more damage when we let them affect us even after we’ve returned to our original task.

So how do you quickly get back on track?

Before turning your attention to the source of the interruption, make a note of what you’re doing. Then consciously make your transition by saying something like: “Now, I am going to [take this phone call]. Set another intention when you return to what you were doing. The more conscious you are, the more seamless it becomes.

Ultimately, it’s up to you how much you’re derailed by interruptions. As C.S. Lewis said: The great thing is, if one can, to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions in one’s “own” or “real” life. The truth is, of course, that what one regards as interruptions are precisely one’s life.”

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Renita Kalhorn on September 16th, 2011 in Uncategorized | No comments

16 sep

Focus on What Truly Matters

MikeRobbinsNewOver the past few months I’ve been thinking a lot about what truly matters. My mom’s diagnosis, illness, and death have caused me to stop, question, and look more deeply at the things and people in my life that are important. Through the pain and challenge of this experience, I’ve also been grateful for the perspective and awareness it has opened up.

What I’ve noticed is that, sadly, I don’t focus on what and who truly matters to me as much as I’d like. I tend to get distracted by fears, ego-obsessions, drama (in my own life and in the world), ambitions, and all sorts of survival instincts and emotional reactions. While I understand and have empathy for the fact that this is all part of being human, I also recognize that when I get distracted like this, I’m not able to fully engage in the most important activities, relationships, and situations in my life. Maybe you can relate?

Why do we get so distracted in our lives? Why does it sometimes take illness, crisis, injury, tragedy, or even death to wake us up and get our attention?

First of all, I think we clutter up our lives with too much “stuff.” We’re too busy, over-committed, and information obsessed. Our to-do lists are too long and we run around trying to “keep up” or be “important,” and in the process stress ourselves out to no end. Even though many of us, myself included, often complain (out loud or just in our heads) that we can’t do anything about this – based on the nature of life today, technology and communication devices, and/or the responsibilities of our lives, families, and jobs – most of us have more of a say over our schedules, how much we engage in electronic communication, and the amount of “stuff” we clutter into our lives. Much of this distracts us from what’s most important.

Second of all, it actually can be scary to focus on what truly matters. Some of the most important people, activities, and aspects of our lives are things that may seem “unimportant” to those around us. These things may or may not have anything to do with our careers, taking care of our families, and may not even be things that other people like, understand, or agree with. Even if they are, sadly, it’s often easier to just watch TV, disengage, and merely react to what’s going on around us than it is to engage in the things we value most.

Finally, we may not know what’s most important to us or at least have some internal conflict about what “should” be. Whether it’s our lack of clarity or it’s this phenomenon of “should-ing” all over ourselves (or maybe a bit of both), focusing on what truly matters to us can be more tricky than it seems on the surface. With so many conflicting beliefs, ideas, and agendas (within us and around us), it’s not always easy to know with certainty what matters most to us. And, even if we do, it can take a good deal courage, commitment, and perspective to live our life in alignment with this on a regular basis.

While these and other “reasons” make sense, not focusing on what matters most to us has a real (and often negative) impact on our life, our work, and everyone around us. We end up living our life in a way that is out of integrity with who we really are, which causes stress, dissatisfaction, and missed opportunities and experiences.

What if we did focus on what truly matters in our life all the time – not simply because we experience a wakeup call, crisis, or major life change – but because we choose to in a pro-active way? What would your life look like if you let go of some of your biggest distractions, the often meaningless worries and stresses that take your attention, and actually put more focus on the people and things that are most important to you?

Here’s an exercise you can do now (and any time in the future) to both take inventory of where you are in this process and also to get you more in alignment with what truly matters.

1) Make a list of the most important aspects of your life. You can either write this list down on a piece of paper or in your journal (ideal) or simply make a mental list. These “aspects” will vary depending on your life, interests, priorities, etc. For most people, however, they tend to be things like family, personal/spiritual growth, health, career success/fulfillment, making a difference in the world, fun, money, friends/community, travel, adventure, creativity, home, and more. While you don’t need to rank them necessarily, thinking of these things with some priority can be helpful.

2) Make a list of the things you spend most of your time doing and thinking about. Take inventory of your day today (as well as the past few days, weeks, and months) and make a list (in writing or in your head) of where you spend your time and attention. Tell the truth, even if you aren’t proud of some of the activities or thoughts that get a lot of your focus. With this list it’s important to rank them in some way – so that you’re clear about which activities, thoughts, relationships, and more get your attention specifically, and how much you devote to each of them.

3) Compare the two lists and see how you can get them even more aligned. As you compare these two lists, if you’re anything like me – you may notice that they’re quite different. Often what we say is most important to us isn’t the same as where we devote much of our time, energy, and thought. Without judging yourself, tell the truth about where there are differences in these two lists and spend some time inquiring into why this is the case. And, as you think about this, ask yourself how you can create more alignment with these two lists. In other words, be more conscious and do whatever you can to focus more on what truly matters to you!

Mike Robbins is a sought-after motivational keynote speaker, coach, and the bestselling author of Focus on the Good Stuff (Wiley) and Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken (Wiley). More info – www.Mike-Robbins.com

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Mike Robbins on September 16th, 2011 in New Directions, Relationships | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , ,

15 sep

My Past Life Regression Therapy Training with Dr. Brian Weiss

WEJMDThe premise of Past Life Regression Therapy is that there is a part of our mind that knows the cause of our physical or emotional distress and knows what the solution is as well.

The goal of Past Life Regression Therapy is to enable us to access that information from our unconscious mind in order to heal and be happy.

The protocol of Past Life Regression Therapy involves standard hypnotic induction and trance deepening techniques followed by suggestions that generate past life information.

What is fascinating and empowering about Past Life Regression Therapy is that we don’t need to believe in reincarnation and past lives for it to work wonders. If we do believe in reincarnation and past lives, all the better.

But if we don’t or are skeptical, it doesn’t matter because even if the material believed to be past life information was created by our imagination rather than recalled, it was, nonetheless, generated by our need and motivation to repair ourselves. Consequently, it will still yield valuable information for the therapeutic process. Our mind is that powerful.

Whether we truly were traumatized in some way in a past life which might explain why we have a chronic neck problem or we constructed a past life “memory” while under hypnosis, through the process of identifying the cause of our problem and re-framing the experience (changing our perspective or attitude about it), we can discharge the negative energy that is generating our neck problem and resolve it.

Bottom line: Past Life Regression Therapy can work wonders. It can heal people. It can relieve emotional burdens of guilt, shame and self-loathing that have been causing chronic physical and emotional problems that other forms of therapy have been unable to address.

When you are ready, a teacher will appear.

Brian L. Weiss , M.D. is one of the pioneers of Past Life Regression Therapy and is one of its most respected and prominent advocates, speakers and teachers. From October 18 through October 22, 2010, Dr. Weiss, a renowned psychiatrist who has treated over 3,000 patients with Past Life Regression Therapy and authored numerous books and CDs on the subject, conducted a Past Life Regression Therapy Training for therapists and allied professionals. Saying I was fortunate to be able to participate in this life-changing, life-affirming program would be an understatement.

I was blessed. Getting the professional training was my conscious motive for enrolling in the five-day program and it met my expectations. With my Past Life Regression Therapy Training Manual provided by Dr. Weiss firmly in hand, I know that with practice I will be able to offer this service to others and be good at it.

This blessing, however, proved to be the icing on my cake of blessings.

My cake of blessings was Brian Weiss himself, who provided not just his knowledge and experience regarding Past Live Therapy but also his heart and soul, his wisdom, his compassion, his intuition and inherent healing powers, and his humor, always laced with love and gentle truths.

My cake of blessings was sharing the experience with 128 other participants who were incredibly warm, loving, sincere, supportive, nurturing and spiritually grounded, all of which made the environment for soul searching and past life discovery very safe.

My cake of blessings was observing many past life regressions and related psychic phenomena that were mind-blowing, powerful and healing, and would have made me a true believer in reincarnation and past lives had I been a skeptic in the first place, which I was not.

My cake of blessings was experiencing a past life regression myself that opened my heart, elevated my spirit, and has helped me to be more mindful of where I am, what I am, who I am, what I’m doing, and why I’m doing it. It has helped me to better appreciate all the blessings I have in my life. It has helped me to make better choices.

When we realize that our purpose here on the planet, in our bodies, is not to build the tallest skyscraper or produce the biggest grossing movie, but rather is to learn about love, it inspires us to pay closer attention to the details of our lives, particularly how we treat our family, friends, neighbors, and our enemies as well.

Past Life Regression Therapy teaches us that we are our enemies in the sense that in our past lives we’ve been every type of person — the good, the bad, and the ugly. We have been the oppressed. We have been the oppressors. We have killed and been killed.

We have been black, white, red, brown, and yellow. We have been male and female. We have been straight and gay. We have been American, German, Russian, Egyptian, Irish, and Chinese, among others. We have been Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Buddhists, Islamists, and atheists, among others.

We’ve engaged in every type of occupation. We’ve been rich. We’ve been poor. We’ve experienced every type of illness, injury and death. We literally have “Been there, done that” in terms of just about anything we can think of.

The take home lesson to be learned from this multiple lives, multiple bodies scenario is that we are not our bodies, we are eternal, immortal spirits cut from the same cloth, we are One, which means that we should put our judgments aside, we should stop hating and attacking each other, we should embrace our spiritual similarities rather than our physical differences, and we should “Love Ye One Another.”

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Walter E Jacobson, MD on September 15th, 2011 in Personal Stories, Spirituality | No comments Read related posts in , , ,

14 sep

Listen to Your Inner Critic

RenitaKalhornRob, a client of mine (though not his real name), recently took a one-week vacation from work, a much-needed break from a highly stressful, fast-paced corporate environment. Upon his return, one of his colleagues welcomed him back and noted that Rob’s team had worked hard and been very productive during his absence. Rob’s first reaction, as he relayed the story to me, was: “I knew it, they’re going to find out they don’t need me here – I might get fired.”

Now, all evidence would point to the contrary. Rob has recently been promoted to a high-profile position, his boss has openly praised his performance and charged him with increasing responsibility, and Rob is being invited to exclusive company events by the executive management. In all likelihood, the colleague was complimenting Rob on his excellent work in managing and training his team to be autonomous and perform so well even when he is out of the office.

So why did Rob have such a different take?

THE CONSTANT CRITIC

Moments like this occur to all of us throughout the day; something happens and we quickly jump to an interpretation. It doesn’t take much to spur the mind into action and, drawing from an extensive repertoire of personal references and biases, it will readily produce a stream of “self-talk” – commentary, critique and analysis – that may or may not accurately reflect reality. For many of us, conditioned by high expectations and a competitive society, this self-centered thinking often defaults to the critical or negative: “Why can’t I ever do things right?” “That was a stupid thing to say.” “I look old/fat/ugly.”

Moreover, as you’ve probably noticed, the mind is rarely satisfied to produce a thought once and leave it at that. Oh no, once it latches onto a notion, the mind likes to hammer the point home, repeating and reiterating and bringing it up every chance it gets. (Researchers have found that familiar ideas and impulses, in fact, forge physical pathways in the brain along which obsessive thoughts travel – your habitual thought patterns are literally creating ruts in your brain!)

Notice, however, that I am referring to your thoughts as separate fromyou, the human being sitting there reading these words.You are not your thoughts. Rather, your mind is like a bubble machine, relentlessly churning out thoughts that create a stream of stress, anxiety or dissatisfaction – until you realize they are as ephemeral as soap bubbles.

HENPECKED BY YOUR OWN MIND

Here are some tactics you can try:

  • Get some distance.First, have a seat at the back of your head and take a few deep breaths. See if you can pinpoint where in your body you feel the anxiety or stress – is there a tightness in your chest, or a gnawing in your gut? Then, try to watch your mind. It may take some careful attention to decipher specific thoughts from the swirling undercurrent but if you wait patiently, they will start to crystallize.
  • Put out the welcome mat.There’s no need to resist or judge yourself for the obsessive whirl of thoughts. In fact, Zen scholar Hubert Benoit suggests doing the opposite and welcoming them in. He says to his image-making mind: “Do what you please, but I am going to watch you doing it.” As soon as he starts to think of this and that, he says to his imagination: “So you want to talk to me about that. Go ahead, I’m listening.”
  • Pay attention to the story.Now that you’ve welcomed it in, what does your mind have to say – what kind of stories does it spin in explaining the situations and events of your life?
    • Does it create “all or nothing” scenarios, extrapolating dire consequences from a single misstep?“If I mess up this presentation, I’ll be fired…it’s a tough job market out there, I won’t be able to find a job where I earn this much, I won’t be able to make my mortgage payments, I’ll lose my apartment and be a bag lady at the age of 45…”)
    • Does it make things personal?“It’s my fault, I always screw up.” “What’s the matter with me!”
    • Does it engage in defensive pessimism?Your mind may downplay the positive aspects of a situation to limit expectations and feel less pressured – reviewing, for example, all the times you’ve been stood up as you’re heading out to meet a blind date.
  • Get the facts.Once you’ve heard all the imaginative stories your mind has to tell, try distilling the facts of the situation. Ask yourself, “Okay, whatreallyhappened here?” There any number of reasons someone might yawn during your sales presentation or recital performance: it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not interested in making a deal or think your playing is boring.Perhaps because you didn’t spend as much time preparing as you would have liked, you’re anticipating and interpreting their reactions as if theyhadbeen privy to your inner anxiety. But the only thing you know for sure is, they yawned! Sticking to the facts helps you not get mired in the negative emotions that can derail your performance or trigger you to over-react.
  • Try a little kindness.Finally, when you find your critical voice racing at full throttle – “I’m such a loser!” “I hate my thighs!” “My playing sucks!” – ask yourself, “Would I speak this way to a dear friend? To a young child?” Presumably, the answer is no, and you realize that for the same reasons you wouldn’t speak so harshly to someone you cared about, you shouldn’t be so harsh with yourself.

For one thing, non-constructive criticism rarely works. I remember playing tennis one day, my first time that season, and feeling very uncoordinated – not hitting the ball solidly, not getting into position. Every time the ball went in the net or out of bounds, I said disgustedly to myself, “Come on, what’s wrong with you, just get it in the court.”

After about 30 minutes of mounting frustration with my lame performance, something clicked and I decided to pretend I was my own coach. I started talking to myself in the third person, giving gentle advice and encouragement, and saying things like: “Okay, remember to keep your eye on the ball.” “Good, now make sure to bend your knees.” Once I made it less personal, I started to relax and play better.

Of course, adopting these habits will take practice – your inner critic has had years of conditioning! But if you can learn to view its voice more as that of a batty old uncle babbling away than that of absolute truth, it won’t have the same power to derail your emotional equilibrium and you’ll be better able to stay connected to the present moment.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Renita Kalhorn on September 14th, 2011 in Uncategorized | No comments

11 sep

Are You Riding the Self-Confidence Rollercoaster?

RenitaKalhornLack of self-confidence – it’s one of the biggest obstacles keeping people from performing at their best.

I often hear people say they lack confidence as if it’s something that’s out of their control, like the cost of oil or their neighbor’s haircut. In fact, your level of self-confidence is one thing that is completely under your control – and the biggest mistake you can make is leaving it up to chance.

If your confidence is dependent on things going your way, you’ll always be at the mercy of circumstance. The managing director likes your points in the board meeting? Confidence rises! You flub a few slides in the presentation? Confidence falls! Up, down, up, down, that’s the rollercoaster approach to being on top of your game.

What you need instead is to develop an unshakeable belief in your ability, one that’s not easily swayed by external circumstances. Want three ways to get started?

1. Decide to be confident regardless.

You can do that, you know, without waiting for some universal scoreboard to give you the go-ahead.GwynethPaltrow, the actress, performed at the Grammy’s, singing in front of 26 million viewers. She could have held back because, well, she’s not really known as a singer, now is she? Instead, she went for it and (with a little behind-the-scenes coaching from Beyonce, apparently) delivered with confidence.

2. Stop the comparison game.

When I was in business school at INSEAD, we received a profile book with the impressive resumes of all the other students in the class: business prodigy, decorated Army captain, brain surgeon, Olympic athlete – they all melded in my mind into one extremely intimidating uber-achiever that I let psych me out.

When it comes to self-confidence, keep the focus on you: create a cheat sheet that you can refer to to remind yourself of your own kick-ass abilities and accomplishments.

3. Follow your game plan.

Unshakeable belief in yourself isn’t something that happens in one fell swoop; you build it one small goal at a time. Back in 2005, Isaiah Mustafa (the actor in the very popular Old Spice commercials) says he was tending bar but wanted to be an actor. So he set a deadline and figured out how to meet it. “I mapped out a plan with the steps I thought it would take to become an actor by a specific date,” he says. “As soon as I reached the first step, I started believing in myself more. It gave me confidence to tackle the next challenge.”

So, what’s one thing you can do TODAY to take control of your confidence?

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Renita Kalhorn on September 11th, 2011 in Uncategorized | No comments

06 sep

Creativity Is a Pathway to Self-Knowledge

Glad DoggettI used to think that artistic expression and creativity were reserved for the true artists among us. The talented, revered ones.

I don’t think that anymore.

A couple years ago I realized that creativity can be an act of courage and a doorway to transformation.

Expression through the arts can allow one to speak a language that words can’t articulate.

I found this wisdom in an online painting class.

Was it coincidence or providence that directed me to my first class?

I will probably never know. But, what I know to my teeth is that it awakened me.

Although I had always told myself that I was no good at art or painting or any creative endeavor for that matter, I felt a gravitational pull to take that first online art class.

At that time, I was in a dark place, adrift. I needed an anchor.

So, in spite of my fears, my screaming inner critic and my inability to draw a balanced stick figure, I signed up.

I mark the day I joined that online art class as my first step to recovering my Self.

Something clicked. I roamed Hobby Lobby with a renewed purpose, buying paints, studying brushes, stroking special papers, discovering gel medium. I was on fire.

Over the course of the four-week class, I created several paintings and collages. Whenever I sat with my paints and practiced the techniques, I would forget that I was sad. The process of creating was like a salve to my soul.

Time passed, and without my notice, I began to feel better. I started seeing color in place of the grayness. I started to feel happy again.

Before my fling with the world of online artsy classes ended, I took two more painting classes, an online photography class, and a journaling class. I even ventured out into the real world and had a one-night stand with jewelry making.

I had fun. I relaxed. I learned a lot. And I found my way out of a funk that I thought would never end.

Expressing my creative Self slowly thawed me out. I found entrance to a frozen place that words alone couldn’t reach. I didn’t even know I’d lost my connection to creative self-expression until I found it.

Through creativity, I discovered an inner strength that comes from giving my vulnerabilities breathing room. Even though I felt uncomfortable and foolish at times, pushing through it helped me learn that on the other side of the discomfort is swirly joy.

I learned that my old, tired story of not being good enough or creative enough or artistic enough was simply untrue. For far too long, I obeyed my inner critic. I believed that creating something wasn’t worth doing if it wasn’t done perfectly.

I no longer dabble in paints, but I know for sure that the act of creating is crucial to change.

We are all creative beings longing to express something new, unique and beautiful.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Glad Doggett on September 6th, 2011 in Uncategorized | No comments