Posts tagged with ‘appreciation’

26 jul

Embrace Death, Live Life

MikeRobbinsNewMy mom, Lois Dempsey Robbins, was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer in early March. The disease spread very quickly and on June 13th, she passed away. I was honored and grateful to be with her through her dying process. It was both horrible and beautiful at the same time.

My mom’s physical pain and deterioration, realizing that she was going to die and that at thirty-seven years old I would be without either of my parents (my dad died almost ten years ago), and knowing that my girls would grow up without their grandma (who absolutely adored them), were some of the most difficult parts of the experience.

However, the closeness, family connection, deep conversations, healing, insights, love, forgiveness, and support have been some of the most wonderful aspects of all of this – while she was sick, as she was dying, and in the past month or so since her death.

Four of the most intimate and sacred experiences of my life have been the births of our two girls and the deaths of each of my parents. I’m grateful and honored to have been able to experience all four of these magical moments live and in person. Although the emotions of the births and the deaths were quite different, the level of intimacy, sacredness, and profundity were of similar impact and depth for me.

I’m deeply engaged in my grief process right now – doing my best to stay present in the midst of the intense and contradictory thoughts and feelings I’ve been experiencing. While I’ve been feeling sadness and pain, I also feel a lot of love and appreciation – both for my mother’s life and all she taught me, and for the experience of being with her through her death.

Death teaches us so much about life and about ourselves, even though it can be very difficult to comprehend and experience – especially when the person dying is someone very close to us. As a culture we don’t really talk about it, deal with it, or face it in an authentic way. It often seems too scary, mysterious, personal, loaded, heavy, emotional, tragic, andmore.

What if we embraced death – our own and that of those around us – in a real, vulnerable, and genuine way? What if we lived life more aware of the fact that everyone around us, including ourselves, has a limited amount of time here on earth?

Embracing death consciously alters our experience of ourselves, others, and life in a fundamental and transformational way. It allows us to remember what truly matters and to put things in a healthy and empowering perspective. Doing this is much better for us than spending and wasting our time worrying, complaining, and surviving the circumstances, situations, and dramas of our lives, isn’t it?

One of the most profound things my mom said a few weeks before she died was, “I want people to know that they don’t have to suffer through this.” As the end was getting closer, my mom’s awareness, insight, and desire to share her wisdom increased and it was beautiful.

Below are some of the key lessons I learned from her as she began to embrace death in the final days and weeks of her life. These are simple (although not easy) reminders for each of us about how to live life more fully:

1. Express Yourself – Say what you have to say, don’t hold things back. As my mom got closer to death, she began to express herself with a deeper level of authenticity and transparency. We had conversations about things we’d never talked about and she opened up in ways that were both liberating and inspiring. Too often in life we hold back, keep secrets, and don’t share what’s real – based on our fear of rejection, judgment, and alienation. Expressing ourselves is about letting go of our limiting filters and living life “out loud.”

2. Forgive – My mom and I come from a long line of grudge holders. Like me, she could hold a grudge with the best of ‘em. I watched as she began to both consciously and unconsciously let go of her grudges and resentments, both big and small. It was if she was saying, “Who cares?” When you only have a few months (or weeks) to live, the idea that “Life’s too short,” becomes more than a bumper sticker or a catch phrase, it’s a reality. And, with this reality, the natural thing for us to do is to forgive those around us, and ourselves.

3. Live With Passion – Going for it, being bold, and living our lives with a genuine sense of passion is so important. However, it’s easy to get caught up in our concerns or to worry what other people will think about us. My mom, who was a pretty passionate woman throughout her life, began to live with a deeper level of passion, even as her body was deteriorating. In her final days and weeks, she engaged everyone in conversation, talked about what she was passionate about, shared grandiose ideas, and let go of many of her concerns about the opinions of others. It was amazing and such a great model and reminder of the importance of passion.

4. Acknowledge Others – At one point about a month or so before my mom died she said to me, “It’s so important to appreciate people…I don’t know why I haven’t done more of that in my life.” Even in the midst of all she was going through and dealing with (pain, discomfort, medication, treatment, and the reality that her life was coming to an end), she went out of her way to let people know what she appreciated about them – and people shared their appreciation with her as well. My friend Janae set up a “joy line” for people to call and leave voice messages for my mom in her final days. We got close to fifty of the most beautiful messages, all expressing love and appreciation for my mom – most of which we were able to play for her before she passed away. Appreciation is the greatest gift we can give to others – and, we don’t have to wait until we’re dying to do it or until someone else is dying to let them know!

5. Surrender – While my mom clearly wasn’t happy about dying, didn’t want to leave us or her granddaughters, and felt like she had more to do on this earth, something happened about a month and a half before she died that was truly remarkable – she surrendered. For my mom, who had a very strong will and was a “fighter” by nature, this probably wasn’t easy. However, watching her surrender to what was happening and embrace the process of dying was truly inspirational and life-altering for those of us around her and for her as well. So much of the beauty, healing, and transformation that occurred for her and for us during her dying process was a function of surrendering. Surrendering isn’t about giving up, giving in, or selling out, it’s about making peace what is and choosing to embrace life (and in this case death) as it shows up. Our ability (or inability) to surrender in life is directly related to the amount of peace and fulfillment we experience.

My mom taught me and all of us that even in the face of death, it is possible to experience joy – what a gift and a great lesson and legacy to leave behind. And, as each of us consciously choose to embrace the reality of death in our lives, we can liberate ourselves from needless suffering, worry, and fear – and in the process experience a deeper level of peace and fulfillment.

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

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Posted by Mike Robbins on July 26th, 2011 in New Directions, Relationships | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , , ,

14 jul

The Magic and Mystery of Death

MikeRobbinsNewIn the past few weeks, two important people in my life suddenly passed away. These deaths have been shocking, sad, and painful for me. And, in the midst of sadness I’ve once again been reminded of the mystery and magic that I often experience when someone close to me dies.

I find death so mysterious because it doesn’t make much rational sense and often seems so random and unfair. I also find it frustrating that we don’t do a very good job in our culture of talking about, dealing with, or embracing death. It’s seen by most of us as a universally “bad” thing – awful, tragic, painful, hard, and negative in most cases. While all of these things can be and often are true for us about death, especially when the person who dies is someone we love and care about and/or happens to be someone we consider “too young to die,” there is so much more to it than just this.

As I’ve also experienced these past few weeks and at many other times in my life, there can be a great deal of magic, beauty, and joy that comes from death. Due to the fact that we often avoid it, don’t want to talk about it, or would rather not deal with it (unless we are forced to do so) – we miss out on the magical and positive aspects of death and in doing so we aren’t able to live our lives as deeply and with as much freedom as we could if we embraced death more fully.

Why we avoid dealing with death

There are many reasons we avoid dealing with or even talking about death. From what I’ve seen and experienced, here are some of the main reasons:

It can be very painful, sad, and scary

We often aren’t taught or encouraged to really deal with it – just to simply follow the “rules” and rituals of our family, religion, or community in order to get through it

– We don’t know what to say, how to react, and don’t want to upset people

– It can be overwhelming for many of us to consider our own death, or the deaths of those close to us

– We aren’t comfortable experiencing or expressing some of the intense emotions that show up for us around death

– Our culture is so obsessed with youth, beauty, and production (in a superficial sense), death is often seen as the ultimate “failure” – the complete absence of beauty, health, and productivity

– It challenges us to question life, reality, and our core beliefs at the deepest level

For these and many other reasons, death is one of the biggest “taboo” subjects in our culture and remains in the “darkness” of our own lives on a personal level. Sadly, not dealing with, talking about, or facing death in a real way creates a deep level of disconnection, fear, and a lack of authenticity in our lives and relationships.

The magic of death

What if we embraced death, talked about it, or shared our thoughts, feelings, questions, concerns, and more about it with the people around us? While for some of us this may seem uncomfortable, undesirable, or even a little weird – think how liberating it would be and is when we’re willing to face death directly.

One of the highlights of my life was being in the room with my father and holding his hand when he took his last breath about 10 years ago. It was incredibly sad, but at the same time deeply intimate, personal, and beautiful. He was there when I came into the world and I got to be there when he left. And, by facing death in a direct way – we can learn so much about life and ourselves, as I did when my dad died. As one of my mentors said to me years ago, “Mike, if you live your life each day more aware of your own death, you will live very differently.” This is true for all of us.

There are so many beautiful lessons that death teaches us, even in the midst of the pain, loss, confusion, anger, fear and more. When we’re willing to embrace death and remember that everyone and everything in physical form will eventually die, we’re reminded to:

– Appreciate ourselves, each other, and life – RIGHT NOW

– Let go of our attachment to other people’s opinions, our obsession with appearances, and our self consciousness about many superficial aspects of our lives

– Connect to others in a deep, intimate, and vulnerable way

– Speak up, go for what we truly want, and live in the present moment

– Be grateful for what we have and for life as it is, not “someday” when things work out perfectly (which never happens anyway)

Death can be one of the greatest teachers for us in life – but not if we spend most of our time avoiding it because it can be painful, scary, or uncomfortable. Take a moment right now to think about some of the important people who have died in your life. What did you learn from them both through their life and their death? What gifts have you been given in the form of tragedy in your life? How could embracing death more fully impact your life in a positive and important way?

As we consider these and other questions about death, it’s obvious that the answers aren’t simple and easy…neither is life. However, when we’re willing to engage, embrace, and deal with death (and life) with a true sense of empathy, passion, and authenticity – we’re able to not only “make it,” but to actually learn, grow, and thrive – regardless of the circumstances and even in the face of death.

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

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Posted by Mike Robbins on July 14th, 2011 in General, Personal Stories, Relationships | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , ,

01 jun

Embracing Change

MikeRobbinsNewWe recently went into escrow on our house, but don’t yet have a new house to move into. As excited as we are about our move (just across the San Francisco Bay from Concord to Marin County), it feels pretty scary to not yet know exactly where we’ll be living next month.

With this big change and a few others coming soon, I’ve been noticing how I deal with and relate to change. I have somewhat of a love/hate relationship to change. I love the excitement, growth opportunity, and newness of change. But, at the same time, I can easily fall into states of worry, fear, and overwhelm when facing change, especially big ones.

How do you feel about change? While it may depend on the specific change (i.e. one we want versus one we don’t want, or one that seems exciting versus one that seems hard or even “bad.”), most of us seek and fear change simultaneously. Even positive changes can be unsettling or even downright upsetting. And, while each of us has a unique personality and perspective, many of us tend to be creatures of habit.

Change is one of the main “constants” in life, ironically. However, we don’t usually spend all that much time thinking about our relationship to change or specifically expanding on our ability to adapt to change – we usually deal with it from a place of survival, reaction, or necessity.

What if we embraced change more consciously and learned how to not only “manage” it, but thrive through it. Whether you’re someone who enjoys change and handles it quite well, or you hate it and get totally stressed out by it, all of us can benefit from embracing change more deliberately and supporting those around us as we all go through the big and small changes of life – especially these days.

Here are some things you can do and think about as you deal with change in your own life – so as to more effectively and peacefully deal with it when it shows up.

1) Become consciously aware of your relationship to change. Knowing how you deal with change, what stresses you out about it, what allows you to navigate it most effectively, what kind of support you need as you move through the change process, and more, are all important elements of embracing change. It’s rarely the circumstances themselves that cause us stress or difficulty; it’s our relationship to them. By altering our relationship to change, we can become much more peaceful and successful in dealing with it.

2) Acknowledge and express your true feelings (especially your fear). When change occurs, there are usually a number of different emotions we experience. We tend to focus most of our attention on the details, specifics, and circumstances, not so much on our emotions. However, it is our emotional experience and reaction that dictates much of our effectiveness (or lack thereof) in dealing with change. Whether it’s something we consider “good” or “bad,” fear is almost always associated with change, because we’re moving into something unknown and often uncomfortable. By acknowledging and expressing our fear (and other emotions) in an authentic way, we can take back our power from the situation, get real about how we’re feeling, and move through it with more ease and grace. There’s nothing wrong with any of the emotions we experience during change, the problems begin to arise when we don’t express our emotions authentically.

3) Get support. As with most things in life, change is much easier to deal with when we get help. We don’t have to go through it all alone and there are probably many people in our lives who have gone through similar changes before and can support us in the process. Asking for and receiving help from other people can be challenging for many of us and can feel quite vulnerable. However, one of my favorite sayings is, “The answer’s always ‘no’ if you don’t ask.” Getting support not only makes dealing with change easier for us, it allows other people to be of service, which is something most people love to have the opportunity to do in life.

4) Look for the gold. There is “gold’ in the midst of every change – even the most painful and difficult ones. When change is more “positive,” it can seem easier to find the gold in it. However, positive change can also be tricky because we don’t understand why we still may experience fear or discontent and sometimes won’t acknowledge these and other feelings due to our own embarrassment. With change that is more “negative,” it can often be hard to find or see the gold. When dealing with difficult changes in our lives, being able to authentically get in touch with the gifts, blessings, and growth opportunities available to us can help as we navigate our way through the experience and also allow us to evolve in the process.

Have empathy and compassion for yourself and others in going through change. It’s not easy for most of us. By embracing change we become not only more effective in dealing with it, but more peaceful, present, and powerful in our lives.

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

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Posted by Mike Robbins on June 1st, 2011 in Global/Social Change, New Directions | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , ,

17 may

The Importance of Live Conversations

MikeRobbinsNewHave you ever had a conversation, disagreement, or conflict escalate over email? Do you sometimes find yourself engaging in difficult or emotional conversations electronically because it seems “easier,” only to regret it later on? If you’re anything like me and most of the people I know and work with, you can probably answer “yes” to both of these questions.

In the past few months I’ve had a couple conflicts with important people in my life get blown way out of proportion, mainly because I engaged in them via email, instead of talking live to those involved. As I look back on these and other similar situations I’ve experienced in the past, I can see that it was my fear to connect live and my poor judgment in using written communication that contributed to the increased conflict and lack of resolution.

Why do we do this (even though most of us, myself included, know better)? First of all, email (or other forms of electronic communication – texting, Facebook, Twitter, and more), tends to be the primary mode of communication these days for many of us – both personally and professionally.

Second of all, it can sometimes seem easier for us to be honest and direct in writing because we can say what is true for us without having to worry about the in-the-moment reaction of the other person.

And third, electronic communication (or even one-way verbal communication, i.e. voice mail) takes way less courage than having a live, real conversation with another human being (on the phone or in person). When we talk to people live we have to deal with our fear of rejection, fear of being hurt, and our tendency to “sell out” on ourselves and not speak our full truth. Avoiding the live conversation and choosing to do it in writing sometimes feels “safer” and can allow us to say things we might otherwise withhold.

Regardless of why we choose to engage in important conversations via these one-way forms of communication (email, text, voice mail, etc.), it is much less likely for us to work through conflicts, align with one another, and build trust and connection when we avoid talking to each other live about important stuff.

Anything we’re willing to engage in electronically can usually be resolved much more quickly, effectively, and lovingly by having a live conversation, even if we’re scared to do so. The fear may be real, but most often the “threat” is not.

Here are some things you can do to practice engaging in live conversations with people more often and, ultimately, to resolve your conflicts more successfully.

1) Be clear about your intention – Before sending an email, text, etc. (or even leaving a voice mail), ask yourself, “What’s my intention?” If you’re about to engage in something that is in any way emotionally charged, about a conflict, or important on an inter-personal level, check in to make sure you’re not simply sending the message to avoid dealing with it and the person(s) involved directly. Tell the truth to yourself about how you feel, what you want, and why you’re about to engage in the specific type and form of communication you’re choosing.

2) Don’t send everything you write – Writing things out without a filter and just letting all of our thoughts and feelings flow can be a very important exercise, especially when we’re dealing with a conflict or something that’s important to us. However, we don’t always have to send everything we write! It’s often a good idea to save an email in your drafts folder and read it again later (maybe after you’ve calmed down a bit or even the following day).

3) Request a call or a meeting – Before engaging in a long, emotional email exchange, it can often be best to simply pick up the phone or send a note to request a specific time to talk about the situation live. Face to face is always best if you can make it happen, but if that poses a big challenge (i.e. you’re busy and it might take a while to set up) or is not possible (i.e. you don’t live close enough to the person to see them easily), talking on the phone is another option. A great email response can simply be, “Thanks for your note, this seems like something that would better to discuss live than by email, let’s set up a time to talk later today or this week.”

4) Speak your truth, without judgment or blame – When you do engage in the live conversation (in person or on the phone), focus on being REAL, not RIGHT. This means that you speak your truth by using “I statements,” (I think, I feel, I notice, I want, etc.). As soon as we move into blame or judgment, we cut off the possibility of any true resolution. Own your judgments and notice if you start to blame the other person(s) involved. If so, acknowledge it, apologize for it, and get back to speaking your truth in a real way, not accusing them of stuff.

5) Get support from others - When we’re dealing with emotionally charged conflicts, it’s often a good idea to reach out for support from other people we trust and respect. If at all possible, try to get feedback from people who will be honest with you, won’t just tell you what you want to hear and agree with you no matter what, and who aren’t too emotionally connected to the situation themselves. Whether it is to bounce ideas off of, get specific coaching or feedback, or simply to help you process through your own fear, anger, or tendency to over-react (which many of us do in situations like this), getting support from those around us in the process is essential. We don’t have to do it alone and we’re not the only ones who struggle with things like this.

Living life, doing our work, and interacting with the other human beings around us can be wonderfully exciting and incredibly challenging (or anywhere in between). Conflicts are a natural and beautiful part of life and relationships. We can learn so much about ourselves and others through engaging in productive conflict and important conversations.

The ultimate goal isn’t to live a conflict-free life; it’s to be able to engage in conflict in a way that is productive, healthy, kind, and effective. When we remember that live conversations, even if they can be scary at first, are always the best way to go, we can save ourselves from needless worry, stress and suffering – and in the process resolve our conflicts much more quickly, easily, and successfully.

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 May 17th, 2011 in Uncategorized | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , ,

02 may

Let Go of Blame

MikeRobbinsNewMichelle and I were having dinner with some friends a few months ago and our friend Joel said, “I’m practicing giving up blame completely.”  As he said this, I found myself simultaneously inspired and confronted. As I’ve explored the idea of letting go of blame in recent months, I’ve been quite humbled and surprised to realize how pervasive blame is in our culture, my community, and in my own life.

How often do you find yourself blaming other people or circumstances for your stress, frustration, or for things “not being the way they ’should’ be?”

For me, blame shows up in various places and ways in my life.  Some of the most common focuses of my blame are my past, my family, the economy, people I don’t agree with, my body, my clients, my schedule, my responsibilities, and more. And, the harshest blame is usually reserved for me – blaming myself for making mistakes, not doing things “right,” and simply not being good enough.  Maybe you can relate to some of this?

While blaming other people, challenging circumstances, and even ourselves is common, understandable, and reinforced in our culture, it never leaves us with any real power or with the ability to make positive, healthy, and lasting change in our lives. Blame is about avoiding responsibility and not dealing with the real issues at hand.

One of the best analogies for this is that of an orange. If I have an orange in my hand and I squeeze it, what will come out of it?  Juice.  If you squeeze it, what will come out of it? Juice.  If we give it to a friend of ours and they squeeze it, what will come out of it?  Juice.  Why?  Because, that’s what’s inside the orange.  It doesn’t matter who squeezes it or even how it is squeezed, juice will always come out of the orange (because that’s what’s inside).

You and I are like oranges and our “juice” is emotion.  We have every possible emotion within us – joy, guilt, love, shame, gratitude, anger, peacefulness, fear, happiness, rage, excitement, sadness, and more.  As we walk through life, other people, certain situations, and specific personal thoughts and reactions “squeeze” out some of our own “juice” in the form of these emotions. However, instead of taking responsibility for our emotions, we blame the people around us, the situations that arise, and even ourselves for “causing” these feelings within us.

What if we stopped doing this and let go of blame?  This doesn’t mean we live in some unrealistic, Pollyanna world where nothing bothers us.  It also doesn’t mean that the things that have happened in our past, the relationships we currently have, and the important situations in our lives right now (and the ones that show up in our future), don’t impact us.  What it does mean, however, is that we take full responsibility for our lives, our reactions, and, more important, our emotions.

Here are a few things you can do or think about as you practice letting go of blame in your own life:

1)  Take inventory of who and what you blame. Start to notice, with empathy and compassion (i.e. without judging yourself), who and what you blame the most in your life.  Maybe it’s your work, your spouse, your past, your co-workers or clients, the state of the world, or other things or people.  The more specific and honest you can be about the focus of your blame, the more ability you’ll have to let go.  Remember, some of this blame may be overt (direct, and easy to notice) and, some of it may be more covert (hidden, subtle, and “justified” in such a way that it seems “true.”)

2)  Inquire into what it would be like to let go of blame. Start to ask yourself, especially with the specific people or situations where blame comes up a lot, what it would be like, look like, and feel like to let go of blame in your life.  Allow yourself to imagine this, think about it, talk about it, and ponder it.  Regardless of how easy or difficult you think it would be, just allow yourself to imagine your life without blame. Inquiry is a powerful tool when we use it consciously like this.

3)  Take responsibility for your reactions and emotions. In just about every instance, the person (including us) or situation that we blame brings about a specific emotion or reaction (or set of emotions and reactions) that we don’t like. Instead of blaming, what if we took responsibility for our reactions and emotions, and allowed ourselves to vulnerably acknowledge and express ourselves fully.  As Eleanor Roosevelt so brilliantly said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

Letting go of blame allows us to be free, to take back our power, and to avoid the trap of thinking that someone or something else has the ability to dictate our experience of life.  Whether our life is “wonderful” or “difficult” is always up to us.

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 May 2nd, 2011 in Uncategorized | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , ,

20 apr

You Have More Than This Requires

MikeRobbins96I had a powerful conversation recently with my good friend Theo. I was telling him about some of the intense challenges I’ve been facing and my underlying fear that I simply can’t handle all that is going on (and what I fear may unfold in the coming days, weeks, and months). Theo listened to me with empathy and compassion, and then said something simple, but profound. He said, “Mike, it’s important to remember that you have more than all of this requires.”

As I took a step back and allowed what he said to resonate with me, I was touched by a few specific things. First of all, I appreciated his acknowledgment and reminder. Second of all, it allowed me to take inventory of some of the adversity I’ve overcome in my life, and, in doing so, it reminded me that I am quite resilient. And, finally, over the next few hours and days after Theo and I had this conversation, I got to thinking more and more about the power of the human spirit.

In just about every situation and circumstance in life, we really do have more than is required to not only “deal” with what’s happening, but to thrive in the face of it. As the saying goes, “if it doesn’t kill you, it makes you stronger.” And while I don’t believe that we have to necessarily suffer and struggle in order to grow and evolve in life, one of the best things we can do when dealing with adversity or challenge is to look for the gifts and find the gold in the situation as much as possible.

Think about how this plays out in your own life and how it has played out in your past. Often we have things happen that initially we don’t think we can handle – sometimes these are things we consider “bad” and sometimes they’re things we consider to be “good.” Feeling overwhelmed is feeling overwhelmed, regardless of what it is we’re feeling overwhelmed about.

However, as we look back over the course of our lives, we can probably find many, many examples of times we were able to overcome challenges, deal with fear, rise above limiting beliefs, and deal with things we didn’t initially think we were capable of. Another great saying that I love is, “circumstances don’t define you, they reveal you.” Ain’t that the truth?

Here are a few things to think about and do so that you can remind yourself, especially when things get particularly difficult or scary in your life, that you do, in fact, have more than the circumstances or situations of your life require.

1) Remind yourself of all you’ve done, experienced, and overcome. Take some inventory of your life from the perspective of resilience. Think about all the times you’ve dealt with change, loss, newness, fear, pain, disappointment, failure, etc. – and been able to work through it. You’ve also probably had many experiences in life where wonderful things and exciting opportunities showed up for you and you were able to step up and take your experience of life to a whole new level. Even though we’re all unique, our stories are different, and we have varying personalities and life experiences, most of us have done, experienced, and overcome a lot in our lives up to this point, and by remembering this and acknowledging ourselves for it, we can create an even deeper and more authentic sense of self confidence.

2) Remember that you have a great deal of support and you can reach out for it. One of the things that can get in our way when life gets intense, is that we sometimes think we’re all alone. No one understands me. No one really cares about me. No one has time to support me. Regardless of our circumstances, relationship status, or family situation, just about everyone of us has some important and powerful people around us who we can lean on and who would be happy to help us – if we’re willing to ask for and, more importantly, receive their help. This one can be tricky for many of us, myself included, but when we remember that other people love being of service and our request for help is not a sign of weakness, but a clear indication of self care as well as a beautiful opportunity for people to serve, it can empower us to reach out and tap into the incredible amount of resource we have around us.

3) Focus on what you appreciate about yourself and your authentic power. Self appreciation and self love, as I write and speak about often, are the cornerstones of self confidence and authentic power. Having a fundamental belief in our own goodness, power, and beauty are essential to us living an empowered and inspired life. While it’s not always easy to do and can sometimes seem downright counter-intuitive, selfish, and arrogant, self appreciation is truly the “key to the kingdom” when it comes to personal empowerment and resiliency. Remembering that we are good enough just as we are and have all that we need within us and around us to deal with the stress, challenge, and uncertainty that is somewhat inherent to being human in today’s world, is essential to our well-being and overall fulfillment in life.

Regardless of what you’re dealing with in your life right now – however hard, easy, challenging, or wonderful things are – you truly have more than is required by any of the circumstances and situations of your life. And, the more we remember this and live from this perspective, the more freedom, power, and peace of mind we’ll experience.

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 April 20th, 2011 in Uncategorized | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , ,

18 mar

Live Like You’re Going to Die (Because You Are)

MikeRobbinsNewYou’re going to die. I’m going to die. Everyone around us is going to die.

The reality of death is, of course, both obvious and daunting for most of us. With the recent tragic events in Japan and some very serious health news I received from someone close to me, I’ve been thinking about life and death a lot this past week. I was on a run a few days ago and thought to myself, “I wonder what it’s like to know you’re going to die?” Then I thought, “Wait a minute, we’re all going to die – we just don’t act like it.”

As simple as this thought was, it was profound for me. I don’t live my life all that consciously aware of my own death. My own fears about death (mine and others) often force me to avoid thinking about it all together. I do catch myself worrying about dying; sometimes more often than I’d like to admit, especially with our girls being as young as they are – Samantha’s five and Rosie’s two and a half.

I also don’t talk about death that much because it seems like such a morbid topic, a real “downer.” I worry that it’s too intense to address or that if I focus on death I will somehow attract it to me or those around me superstitiously.

And, as a culture we don’t really like to talk about death or deal with it in a meaningful way since it can be quite scary and is the exact opposite of so much of what we obsess about (youth, productivity, vitality, results, beauty, improvement, the future, etc.).

But what if we embraced death, talked about it more, and shared our own vulnerable thoughts, feelings, and questions about it? While for some of us this may seem uncomfortable, undesirable, or even a little weird – think how liberating it would be and is when we’re willing to face the reality of death directly.

Steve Jobs gave a powerful commencement speech at Stanford in 2005 entitled “How to live before you die.” In that speech, he said, “Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

Contemplating death in a conscious way doesn’t have to freak us out. Knowing that our human experience is limited and that at some mysterious point in the future our physical body will die, is both sobering and liberating.

The reason I’ve always appreciated memorials services (even when I’ve been in deep pain and grief over the death of someone close to me) is because there is a powerful consciousness which often surrounds death. When someone passes away we often feel a certain amount of permission to get real in a vulnerable way and to focus on what’s most important (not the ego-based fear, comparison, and self criticism that often runs our life).

What if we tapped into this empowering awareness all the time – not just because someone close to dies or because we have our own near-death experience, but because we choose to affirm life and appreciate the blessing, gift, and opportunity that it is.

Here are some things we can think about, focus on, and do on a regular basis that will allow us to live like we’re going to die, in a positive way:

1) Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff – As my dear friend and mentor Richard Carlson reminded millions of us through his bestselling series of books with this great title, life is not an emergency and most of the stuff we worry about, get upset about, and obsess about is not that big of a deal. If we lived as if we were dying, we probably wouldn’t let so many small things bother us.

2) Let Go of Grudges - One of my favorite sayings is, “holding a grudge is like drinking poison, and expecting the other person to die.” Everyone loses when we hold a grudge, especially us. If you knew you were going to die soon, would you really want to spend your precious time and energy holding onto anger and resentment towards those around youor people from your past (regardless of what they may have done)? Forgiveness is powerful – it’s not about condoning anything, it’s about liberation and freedom for us.

3) Focus on What Truly Matters – What truly matters to you? Love? Family? Relationships? Service? Creativity? Spirituality? Our authentic contemplation of death can help us answer this important question in a poignant way. If you found out you only had a limited time left to live, what would you stop doing right now? What would you want to focus on instead? And while we all have certain responsibilities in life, asking ourselves what truly matters to us and challenging ourselves to focus on that, right now, is one of the most important things we can do.

4) Go For It – Fear of failure often stops us from going for what we truly want in life. From a certain perspective (the ego-based, physical, material world) death can be seen as the ultimate “failure” and is often related to that way in our culture, even though people don’t usually talk about it in these blunt terms. However, this perspective can actually liberate us. If we know we’re ultimately going to “fail” in life (in terms of living forever), what have we really got to lose by taking big risks? We all know how things are going to turn out in the end. As I heard in a workshop years ago, “Most of us are trying to survive life; we have to remember that no one ever has.”

5) Seize the Day – Carpe diem, the Latin phrase for “seize the day,” is all about being right here, right now. The more willing we are to surrender to the present moment, embrace it, and fully experience it – the more we can appreciate and enjoy life. As John Lennon famously said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” Living like we’re going to die is about remembering to fully engage in the present moment, being grateful for the gift that it is, and doing our best not to dwell on the past or worry about the future. If today were your last day, how would you want to live?

Death can be difficult and scary scary for many of us to confront. There is a lot of fear, resistance, and “taboo” surrounding it in our culture and for us personally. However, when we remember that death is both natural and inevitable, we’re reminded that everyone’s life (whether it lasts for a few days or a hundred years) is short, precious, and miraculous. This awareness can fundamentally and positively alter the way we think, feel, and relate to ourselves, others, and life itself. Living as if we’re going to die (and remembering that it’s guaranteed) is one of the best things we can do for ourselves and those around us.

How can you start living your life for more conscious of your own death, in a positive and empowering way? What can you do right now to let go of what’s not important, focus on what truly matters, and seize the day? Share your thoughts, ideas, insights, actions, and more on my blog below.

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 March 18th, 2011 in Uncategorized | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

04 mar

A Bad Day for Ego is a Good Day for Soul

MikeRobbinsNewA few weeks ago I listened to a radio interview with Michael Beckwith, author of Spiritual Liberation, and he said, “A bad day for the ego is a good day for the soul.” When I heard this I laughed out loud. The wisdom of his statement resonated with me deeply. I thought about a number of experiences in my life which have been quite “bad” for my ego (i.e. embarrassing, disappointing, and even painful), but in hindsight have been great for my own growth and development.

Over this past week, I’ve had two specific situations, one in the middle of a seminar with one of my clients and another in a personal conversation, where I felt embarrassed – things didn’t turn out at all how I wanted them to and it seemed like I messed up. As I experienced these situations and have been reflecting on them, although I didn’t like how they unfolded, I recognize that the discomfort involved in both instances was about me protecting my ego (in other words – wanting to look good or at least not to look bad).

In retrospect, I’m grateful that both of these things happened exactly as they did. They were and continue to be good opportunities for me to learn, grow, and evolve – both in my work and my life.

Too often our desire to protect our ego – to avoid failure and embarrassment – causes us to sell out on ourselves, not go for what we truly want, or hold back in a variety of detrimental ways. When we remember that even if things don’t turn out the way we think we want them to, not only will we survive, we can grow in the process. As the saying goes, “if it doesn’t kill you, it makes you stronger.”

This is not to say that the only way to grow, evolve, and transform in life is through suffering, disappointment, or pain. However, when we do experience difficulties, failures, and challenges – all of which are normal and natural aspects of life and growth – we have the capacity to turn these “bad” things into incredible opportunities for healing and transformation. While it may not seem that way to us (or our ego) initially, the deeper part of who we are (our soul) knows that everything happens for a reason and there are always important lessons for us to learn in each situation and experience in life.

Think of some of the things that have happened in your life that seemed “awful” to you at the time, but in hindsight are things you’re incredibly grateful for now.

The most elegant, pleasurable, and self-loving way for us to grow and evolve is through joy, success, and gratitude. However, due to the fact that difficulties do occur in life and that we often give away our power to the “bad” stuff (through resistance, judgment, or worry), learning to relate to our challenges in a more positive and conscious way is a crucial part of our growth journey.

Remembering that what’s usually at risk in life when we get scared is just our ego, can remind us, with compassion, that we don’t have nearly as much to lose as we think we do. Embodying this insight (that a bad day for our ego is a good day for our soul) with empathy and perspective, allows us to live our lives with a deeper sense of forgiveness, faith, and authenticity.

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 March 4th, 2011 in Uncategorized | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , ,

27 feb

The Power of Acceptance

MikeRobbinsNewFor much of my life I’ve struggled to accept certain things about myself, others, and life that I don’t like. Being someone who is committed to change and transformation, the idea of “acceptance” has often seemed weak, wimpy, or like an admission of failure or powerlessness to me – although I have pretended to understand, believe in, and even teach the power of acceptance for a long time.

The truth is, I’ve been scared to fully embrace acceptance – worrying that if I truly accept certain aspects of myself that I don’t like, things about others that bother me, or circumstances in my life or in the world that aren’t okay with me, then somehow I wouldn’t be motivated to change them in a positive way or, even worse, I would get resigned about them and they would always stay the way they are – which, of course, to me would be “bad” or “wrong.”

The famous quote by Carl Jung, which I have quoted in both of my books and find myself saying all the time comes to mind here, “What you resist, persists.” It seems that I (and so many people I know, work with, and talk to) am constantly “resisting” (more like fighting against) the way things are. Whether it’s with our body, our work, our spouse, our family members, our friends, our co-workers, our finances, the state of the world and economy (especially these days), or many other things – we’re often arguing with reality instead of accepting it the way that it is.

Even though it can be scary and counter intuitive at times, acceptance is the first step in transformation. It’s very difficult and quite stressful (as I know from experience) to try to change things from a place of non-acceptance.

Acceptance is not resignation, failure, or agreement; it’s simply telling the truth and allowing things to be as they are. When we accept ourselves, others, and life – we can create a real sense of peace and let go of much of our suffering. And, from this place of peace and truth, we’re more able to not only appreciate life, but also to manifest the kind of circumstances, relationships, and outcomes we truly want.

Action: What You Can Do

Make a list (in your mind, in your journal, or on a piece of paper) of some of the things in your life right now that are causing you the most stress, pain, or anxiety. These things may have to do with work, money, relationships, health, things happening in the world, your body, or anything else.

As you think about or write these things down, ask yourself if you’re willing to “accept” them as they are right now. You don’t have to like, agree with, or want them to be this way…but, if you can start to accept these things, people, and situations in a genuine way – your ability to be at peace with them (and your life) and to ultimately change them in a positive way will be enhanced significantly.

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 February 27th, 2011 in Uncategorized | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , ,

25 feb

Go for It – The Power of Boldness

MikeRobbinsNewDo you consider yourself bold or someone who goes for it with passion in life? Some of us do, but most people I know and work with, myself included, admit that they don’t often think of themselves as a bold person. Or, if we’ve done or said bold things in our lives, they seem to be few and far between…and they also seem to scare us half to death. Hence, we often don’t find ourselves going for it in our work and our life – or not nearly as much as we’d like (especially these past few years).

Being bold, while scary and challenging for many of us, is essential if we’re going to live an authentic, successful, and fulfilling life. Boldness is about stepping up and stepping out onto our “edge” in life – pushing the limits of what we think is possible or appropriate. It’s about living, speaking, and acting in ways that are both courageous and true to who we really are.

Because we’re all unique, our individual versions of boldness will look quite different. Something that might be “bold” for me, may not be so for you – or vice versa. Going for it has to do with us getting in touch with our deepest truths, passions, and desires in life and then having the courage to live and act “out loud” in a way that is congruent with this.

Here are five key reminders of what it takes to be bold and go for it in life:

1) Be True to Yourself – Tell and live your truth with courage, vulnerability, and commitment. We must also remain in a constant inquiry with ourselves about who we are and what’s important to us. It’s okay and necessary in this process to admit when we’ve made a mistake, gone off course, or done something that’s out of integrity for with ourselves, as well as if we feel totally lost (which we will at times). Being true to who we are is about being ruthlessly honest and forgiving with ourselves (and with others) in a way that is both fierce and compassionate.

2) Live with Passion – Passion comes from within us, not from the external circumstances, events, activities, or people in our lives. Being bold is about going for it, not holding back, and giving ourselves fully to our work, our relationships, and our lives. To do this we must generate authentic passion, which is both a powerful emotion as well as a state of being as well.

3) Step Out – Challenge yourself to say and do things that are outside of your comfort zone and that scare you. This will force you to “step out” in your life and step in to who you really are. We often don’t think we’re “ready,” we sometimes don’t know exactly what we’re supposed to do, and we almost never have a guarantee that things will work out. So what! As Ray Bradbury famously said, “Jump, and build your wings on the way down.”

4) Lean on Others – Support, inspiration, and accountability from other people are essential along our journey of boldness and authenticity. We can’t do it all by ourselves and it’s imperative that we reach out to others who believe in us, will tell us the truth, and can help us when we get stuck. Create a “dream team” of powerful and supportive people around you with whom you can share your hopes, dreams, and ideas. And, be willing to ask for and receive their support, contribution, and generosity.

5) When You Fall Down, Get Back Up – It’s important to make peace with the fact that you will fall down, probably a lot, if you’re really going for it and playing big in life. How we respond to falling down is what truly makes the difference in our lives. When we make a commitment to ourselves to get back up, dust ourselves off, be real about how we feel and what happened, and not let it stop us from being who we are and going for what we want – we tap into what true power, boldness, and authenticity are all about!

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 February 25th, 2011 in Uncategorized | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , ,