Posts tagged with ‘honesty’

12 sep

How to Heal Relationships – Part One

WEJMDTruly loving, nurturing and sustainable relationships are not happening for a great many of us. The reasons for this have to do with our ego getting in the way, with our unwillingness to be more thoughtful, tolerant and considerate, with our unwillingness to rise above the battlefield, to release our anger and resentments from the past, to effectively communicate, to negotiate differences and to establish, maintain and respect boundaries.

I say unwillingness because although it may be difficult to do these things, we choose not to. Loving, sustainable relationships are not the result of accidents or luck, they are the result of healthy choices.

It’s profound the degree to which most of us treat strangers, acquaintances, co-workers and friends much better than we treat our loved ones. With our loved ones, we forget about being compassionate, generous, selfless, considerate, empathetic and loving. We take them for granted. We ridicule them. We shame them. We ignore their needs and invalidate their feelings. And then we complain that we don’t have the relationship that we want.

This isn’t tricky stuff. If we want to have a loving relationship, we need to be loving. If we want to be understood, we need to understand. If we want to be appreciated, we need to appreciate. If we want to be respected, we need to respect. If we want consideration, we need to be considerate. If we don’t want to be judged and shamed, we need to not judge and shame. If we want to be forgiven, we need to forgive.

We reap what we sow. It’s the Golden Rule and it works: When we treat others as we wish to be treated we tend to receive what we give. Our world gets better. Our relationships become more loving, more nurturing, more satisfying and more enduring.

So that’s the ticket: We choose to be generous. We choose to be grateful. We choose to be gracious. We don’t assume the worst. We give our partner the benefit of the doubt. When our partner says or does something that we feel is inconsiderate or unloving we don’t immediately assume they wanted to attack us and hurt us. We don’t immediately go into an aggressive attack mode.

We remind ourselves that in the past we have said and done things that were thoughtless, inconsiderate and unloving, and at those times we wanted our partner to understand, to tolerate our mistakes, to not hold it against us and to forgive us. And so this is what we choose to do with our partner. We accept, we tolerate, we overlook, we forgive.

We don’t need to turn every thoughtless word or action from our partner into a battlefield. We can choose to not sweat the small stuff. We can choose to remind ourselves that they love us, they care about us, they’re not trying to hurt us. We can let it go. We don’t have to make a big stink about it.

This ties into the idea of “Would you rather be right or happy?” Oftentimes, when we feel wronged, we become insistent about confronting our partner, getting in their face, demanding that they feel guilty and shamed, demanding that they own their transgression, demanding an apology. And it’s oftentimes over minor stuff. And it’s oftentimes over stuff that could be open to interpretation. For example, when we’re feeling insecure we are more likely to perceive an innocuous comment from our partner as an attack. And this prompts us to go into our attack mode.

When we go into our attack mode and insist that we are right and they are wrong, we are loving and they are not, we are cool and they are cruel, and that they need to capitulate and apologize for their horrible acts, this oftentimes causes greater polarization in the relationship, greater antagonism and resentment.

If we don’t get their capitulation, everyone is upset. If we do get their capitulation, oftentimes everyone is still upset because of all the fighting that preceded it. Point being: If we insist on getting an acknowledgment that we are right, we usually end up not being happy. If we decide to stop needing to prove that we are right and instead choose our battles and choose to not make mountains out of molehills, we end up being happy. Isn’t that the whole point of having a relationship in the first place?

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 12th, 2013 in Relationships, Spirituality | No comments Read related posts in , , , , ,

19 jan

See Beings Not Bodies

RickHansonWhat happens when you look at someone?
The Practice:
See beings, not bodies.
Why?

When we encounter someone, usually the mind automatically slots the person into a category: man, woman, your friend Tom, the kid next door, etc. Watch this happen in your own mind as you meet or talk with a co-worker, salesclerk, or family member.

In effect, the mind summarizes and simplifies tons of details into a single thing – a human thing to be sure, but one with an umbrella label that makes it easy to know how to act. For example: “Oh, that’s my boss (or mother-in-law, or boyfriend, or traffic cop, or waiter) . . . and now I know what to do. Good.”

This labeling process is fast, efficient, and gets to the essentials. As our ancestors evolved, rapid sorting of friend or foe was very useful. For example, if you’re a mouse, as soon as you smell something in the “cat” category, that’s all you need to know: freeze or run like crazy!

On the other hand, categorizing has lots of problems. It fixes attention on surface features of the person’s body, such as age, gender, attractiveness, or role. It leads to objectifying others (e.g., “pretty woman,” “authority figure”) rather than respecting their humanity. It tricks us into thinking that a person comprised of changing complexities is a static unified entity. It’s easier to feel threatened by someone you’ve labeled as this or that. And categorizing is the start of the slippery slope toward “us” and “them,” prejudice, and discrimination.

Flip it around, too: what’s it like for you when you can tell that another person has slotted you into some category? Read more »

Posted by Dr. Rick Hanson on January 19th, 2012 in General, Relationships, Things We Love | 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 , , , , , , , , ,

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 , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

02 feb

Let Go of Worry

MikeRobbinsNewHow often do you catch yourself worrying?

When I was a kid my mom used to say to me, “95% of what you worry about never happens.” I think she recognized that I was the “worrying type” and was trying to help ease my mind. Although this rarely worked, I appreciated her sentiment and know now that she was right.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been prone to worrying. I continue to work on this, let it go, forgive myself for it, and choose different ways of being in the face of my fear. And, I still catch myself worrying more than I’d like – about the future, about my body, about how things will turn out, about what people think about me, about money, about the well-being of my loved ones, about the state of the world, and much more.

However, no matter how much we worry, it never really helps. And, as we look deeper at what worrying actually is – a set-up for failure, a negative attractor, and a denial or avoidance of feeling our true feelings – we see that it can have a damaging impact on our lives, our work, and our relationships. When we worry, we’re simply preparing to be upset or angry – assuming something won’t work out in the future.

Worry not only creates stress, it has an impact (usually negative) on what we create and manifest, and on our experience of life in general. Worry is a superficial emotion. It’s clearly something that many of us are all familiar with, can share with others in a way that will garner sympathy, empathy, or even pity, and is easy for us to go through daily life experiencing. However, underneath our worry are usually deeper emotions like shame, fear, guilt, hurt, or anger; many of which are more difficult for us to feel and express.

If we’re able to tell the truth and face our deeper feelings, we won’t have to waste our time and energy worrying. We can then deal with the root of the issue, not the superficial impact of it (which is what worry usually is).

There’s nothing wrong with feeling scared, angry, hurt, and even “worried,” in and of itself. These emotions, like love, gratitude, excitement, joy, and others are very important to our human experience. Emotions that are felt deeply and expressed appropriately give us power (regardless of what they are). Emotions that are not felt deeply, that are denied or avoided, and are not effectively expressed, can be damaging to us and those around us.

Worry is always a sign that there are some deeper feelings or issues for us to address. It’s often a good reminder for us to get more real, take better care of ourselves, and pay attention.

Below is a list of some things you can do when you get worried. These simple ideas can help you move through your worry in a positive way:

1. When you notice yourself worrying; stop, check in with yourself, and take a few slow deep breaths (all the way down to your belly)

2. Ask yourself, what’s underneath my worry? (i.e. why am I really worried and what am I really feeling?)

3. Face, feel, and express these underlying emotions – get support from others in this process if you need it.

4. Once you have felt and expressed these emotions, choose how you want to feel and what you want to create, instead of playing the role of the victim.

5. Appreciate yourself for the courage it takes to be honest and to deal with the challenging situations or emotions you’re experiencing.

6. Focus on the good stuff in your life (i.e. be grateful for what you have, who you are, and what you’re going through)

7. Be of service to others – generously put your attention on those around you who can benefit from your help. It will be a great gift to them and to you. Service can allow you to shift your attention from your worry to what you have to give, which is a true win-win for everyone involved.

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

25 jan

The Importance of Flexibility

MikeRobbinsNewHow flexible are you? For me, it depends – on my mood, how much fear or resistance I have about something, how attached I am to a particular outcome, and various other factors.

However, as I look throughout my life (now and in the past), I realize that the situations, relationships, and experiences that cause me the greatest stress and frustration, are almost always the ones where I’m not being flexible. And, on the flip side, the more flexible I am – the more peace, ease, and fulfillment become available.

Today, more than ever, we are challenged to be flexible – in our work, our relationships, and in every other important aspect of our lives. However, due to our own fear, arrogance, resistance, stress, and obsession with being right, we often end up being inflexible to our own detriment and to the frustration of those around us (or so I’ve been told).

Being flexible is not about being weak or passive. Flexibility is a conscious choice, a powerful skill, and a valuable approach to the ever-changing, always-evolving world we live in. We can be firm in our convictions, passionate about our beliefs, and clear about our intentions, and at the same time be flexible enough to make significant changes and be open to new ideas along the way.

Here are some key elements to expanding your own capacity for flexibility in your life -which will lead you to greater peace, joy, and fulfillment:

1) Let Go of Your Attachment – Whenever we get attached to something – a specific outcome, a particular way of doing things, a rigid opinion, etc. – we are, by definition, inflexible. Letting go of our attachment to something doesn’t mean we negate our desire or intention, it simply means we let go of controlling every aspect of it, forcing the action, and our fixation on it being exactly the way we think it should be. This is a process of conscious “non-attachment” (letting go), as opposed to detachment (not caring).

2) Be Willing to Be Wrong – Most of us love to be right and will do and say just about anything to avoid being wrong. Our obsession with “rightness” and fear of “wrongness” often gets in the way of going for what we want, saying what’s on our mind, and letting go of our fixed ideas about how things are supposed to be. When we’re willing to be wrong (not necessarily interested in or intending to be wrong), we free ourselves up and give ourselves permission to take risks, try new things, and approach things (even really important things) with a creative, innovative, and flexible perspective.

3) Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously – Taking ourselves too seriously (something which I know a thing or two about), creates unnecessary stress, pressure, and worry. When we’re able to laugh at ourselves (in a kind way), keep things in perspective, and remember that most of what we deal with on a daily basis in life is not life or death – we can take ourselves less seriously and thus have a more balanced, peaceful, and creative way of relating to things.

4) Go with the Flow – If we pay attention to life, there is a natural flow that exists (although it may not always look like it or feel like it). The more we’re able to tap into the natural flow of life, trust ourselves and others, and believe that things will work out – the more likely we are to allow things to roll off our backs and manifest with ease. As Esther Hicks says, “Most people are rowing against the current of life. Instead of turning the boat around, all they need to do it let go of the oars.”

5) Get Support and Feedback From Others – The support and feedback of others is invaluable in so many aspects of our life and growth, especially as it relates to us being more flexible. We can learn from and model others who are more flexible than we are. We can also give people in our life permission to remind us (with kindness) when we get rigid, uptight, over-attached, and start taking ourselves too seriously.

Being flexible is something that’s often easier said than done for many of us. However, just as with our physical bodies, the more attention we place on expanding our flexibility the more likely we are to do it. As we enhance our ability to be flexible, our life can and will expand exponentially.

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

12 sep

Let Go of Control

MikeRobbins96I had a simple, but profound experience in the swimming pool last week – I floated on my back for the first time in my life. I do know how to swim and enjoy being in the water, but for some reason I never was able to figure out how to float on my back when I learned to swim as a kid and as an adult it hasn’t really been something that has come up as an issue in my life (although it has always been something that I wanted to learn, felt a bit embarrassed about not being able to do, and also didn’t quite understand).

Thanks to the help of my friend Steve last week, I was able to let go and allow the water to support me. It felt scary at first, but once I figured it out, it was an incredibly liberating and relaxing experience. As I was floating there in the pool I had many thoughts, feelings, and insights – the biggest of which had to do with my own obsession with controlling things, and my deep desire and fear about letting go.

How controlling are you? Would you consider yourself very controlling, moderately controlling, or not controlling at all? While each of us falls somewhere along the continuum of control and for some of us this is a bigger issue than others, for most of the people I know and work with, control is an issue that gets in our way – especially in the most important (and stressful) areas of life.

What causes us to be controlling?

There are many reasons, beliefs, and emotions that lead us to hold on tight and feel the need to control others, situations, circumstances, money, communications, food, workflow, details, our environment, and various other “important’ aspects of our lives. However, here are three things that are usually underneath our controlling tendency:

  • Fear – We worry that things won’t turn out, we will get hurt, bad things will happen, etc.
  • Unworthiness – We don’t feel as though we deserve support, help, or for things to go our way.
  • Lack of Trust – We’re scared to let go, count on others, and to believe that things will be okay without us managing every aspect of the situation, relationship, conversation, etc.

What does being controlling cost us?

There is a huge cost associated with being controlling. This negative impact is not only on us and our well-being, but also on those we love, the people we work with, and everyone around us. Here are some of the biggest costs:

  • Joy
  • Peace
  • Freedom
  • Energy
  • Creativity
  • Support
  • Ease
  • Connection
  • Love

How can we expand our capacity to let go of control?

There are many things we can do to let go of control. With compassion for ourselves, it’s important to remember that this is a process and something (especially for some of us) that may not come all that easy. Many of us have been literally “trained” (directly or indirectly) to be controlling and in certain environments and situations (at work and at home), being controlling has been encouraged or seemed necessary for our own survival and the survival of those around us.

That being said, here are some things you can do and think about to expand your own capacity to let go of control in a positive and liberating way:

1) Be honest with yourself – Make an authentic assessment about your own controlling nature. It probably varies a bit for you (as it does for most of us), but at the same time we all have certain tendencies, especially in the most important and stressful areas of our lives. With empathy and honesty, take a look at where, how, and why you hold on tight to control in whatever way you do. And, be real with yourself about what this costs and how it impacts you and those around you.

2) Ask yourself, “Am I willing to let go of control?” – This is an important question to ponder and to answer honestly. In some cases and in certain situations, the answer to this question may be “no.” It’s important to honor that if that’s the case for you. And, at the same time, the more willing you are to ask and answer this question, the more likely you are to start letting go of control consciously (assuming it is something you’re truly interested in doing). You may not know how to do it or what it would look like, but authentic willingness is always the first step in positive change.

3) Consider who could support you – Getting support is one of the most important (and often most vulnerable) aspects of letting go of control. Even though we sometimes feel like we’re all alone, that no one “gets it,” and/or that we couldn’t possibly make ourselves vulnerable enough to ask for help (especially in certain areas of life), it’s difficult to let go of control without the support of other people. The irony of asking for help is that many of us don’t feel comfortable doing so and fear it makes us seem weak or needy, and on the flip side most of us love to be asked for help and really enjoy helping others. We can’t do it alone! And, the good news is that most of us have lots of people in our life that would jump at the chance to support us – if we were willing to ask for help more freely.

4) Surrender – This is the bottom line of letting go. Surrendering doesn’t mean giving up or not caring, it means trusting and allowing things to be taken care of by others, by the process, and by the Universal Intelligence governing life – some call this God, some call this Spirit, some don’t call it anything, but most of us have an experience of It at some level. Surrendering is about consciously choosing to trust and have faith. It is something that can liberate us in a profound way and is all about us choosing to let go.

When we look back on our lives in hindsight, we usually see that “things happen for a reason.” What if we lived in the present moment with this same hindsight awareness? As one of my mentors said to me years ago, “Mike, you’re living your life as though you’re trying to survive it. You have to remember, no one ever has.”

Letting go of control is about loosening our grip, allowing ourselves to be supported, and trusting that things will turn out as they are meant to. Is this easy? Not always, although it can be. However, as we practice this and expand our capacity to let go, we’ll be able to release and transform a good amount of unnecessary stress, worry, and anxiety from our lives, our work, and our relationships.

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 September 12th, 2010 in Global/Social Change, Health, Uncategorized | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , , ,

06 sep

It’s Okay for Things to Be Easy

MikeRobbins96A friend of mine called me out on something important last week. He said, “Mike, this ’story’ you have about things being ‘hard’ for you isn’t really true. It seems to me that things come pretty easy, you just make them hard by saying they are. What if you started saying and owning that certain things come easy to you?”

As I heard him say this, I had a mixture of emotions and reactions. First of all, I felt grateful (I love having people in my life who are willing to call me out, even if my ego gets a little bent out of shape in the process). Second of all, I felt defensive and noticed that I wanted to justify myself against his challenge. Third of all, I felt a sense of fear and resistance to the idea of things coming “easy” to me.

As I’ve thought about it more over this past week, I realize that this resistance to having things be easy runs deep within me (as it does for so many people I know and work with). Here are some of the main “reasons” I’ve used and beliefs I’ve held for many years to resist the notion of things being easy for me:

- Easy means lazy

- If things come easy to me, other people will get jealous, won’t like me, and/or won’t respect me

- It doesn’t really “count” or mean much if it comes easy

- It’s not fair for things to come easy to me – especially with so many people having such a hard time these days

- I actually get off on struggling and suffering – I’m quite familiar with it and I’ve used it as motivation to change and “succeed” for much of my life

- My ability to work hard, overcome adversity, and rise above challenges are all things my ego uses to feel superior to others

- If I admit that something is easy for me, it will seem arrogant and then people will root for me to fail

Can you relate to any of these?

Getting in touch with some of these reasons and beliefs has been both painful and liberating at the same time. As I think, talk, and write about them – I realize how ridiculous some of them are and how much of my life’s energy I’ve been giving to them in the process.

It’s almost like I’m walking around worried that someone’s going to say me, “Mike, you have it so easy,” and I’m preparing my defensive responses, “Oh yeah, well let me tell you how hard I work, how challenging things are for me, and how much stuff I’ve had to overcome along the way.” What’s up with this? It’s like I’m preparing for a fight that doesn’t even exist. Do you ever do that?

While working hard, overcoming challenges and adversity, and being passionately committed to important and complex things in our lives aren’t inherently bad – resisting ease and being attached to struggle causes me and so many of us a great deal of stress, worry, and pain. And, in many cases this difficulty is totally self-induced and unnecessary.

What if we allowed things to be easier? What if we started to speak about and own the aspects of our lives that are actually easy to us and stated to expect things to get even easier? Easy doesn’t mean lazy, that we aren’t willing to work in a passionate way, or that we expect a “free ride” – it means that we’re willing to have things work out, trust that all is well, and allow life to flow in a positive and elegant way for us.

Our desire and ability to embrace ease in our life isn’t selfish, arrogant, or unrealistic – it’s profoundly optimistic (in an authentic way) and can actually enhance our ability to impact others. The more energy and attention we place on surviving, getting by, or even “striving” for success – the less available we are to give, serve, and make a difference for other people. Although it may seem counter-intuitive to us, having things be easy is one of the best ways we can show up for those around us – both by our example and with our freed up positive energy.

As Richard Bach famously stated, “Argue for your limitations and they’re yours.” What if we stopped arguing on behalf of how “hard” things are, and started to allow our life to be filled with peace and ease? While the idea of things being easy may not be, ironically, the easiest thing for you to embrace – I challenge you (as I challenge myself) to take this on in your life and become more comfortable with it…maybe it could actually be easier than you think!

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 September 6th, 2010 in General, New Directions | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , ,

23 aug

The Importance of Unplugging

MikeRobbins96What percentage of your waking hours are you “plugged in” (i.e. checking things on the internet, doing email, texting, playing with your wireless device, watching TV, posting to Facebook or Twitter, and more)? If you’re anything like me and most of the people I know and work with, probably more than you’d like to admit.

Recently I began to confront my own obsession (borderline addiction) to being plugged in. For many years I’ve justified my somewhat obsessive nature about email and internet use by the fact that I run my own business and have to stay connected in order to make sure I’m taking care of my clients, generating new business, and not missing out on important opportunities.

However “true” this may seem, in the past few years (especially with the addition of social networking, texting, and other forms of “instant” communication and information sharing), it has become clear to me that my desire to stay connected has gotten a bit out of control and has had a negative impact on my life, my well being, and my relationships.

From entrepreneurs to sales people to managers to stay-at-home moms – just about everyone I know and work with seems to have some form of electronic obsession impacting their lives in a negative way.

About a month ago, I woke up on a Sunday morning and said to my wife Michelle, “I’m going to have a media free day today – no email, iPhone, internet, TV, or anything else. Today, I’m going to be totally unplugged.” She looked at me with a bit of amazement and disbelief – I think both because I was actually saying this and because she wasn’t convinced I could do it.

I had my own doubts and a few weak moments early in the day where I almost fell off the wagon and checked my phone. However, I was able to do it and by the end of that day, I felt great. I was able to relax and be present in a way that felt grounded and peaceful. The past four Sundays I’ve been “unplugged” and I’m loving it.

What if we unplugged more often? What if we gave ourselves permission to disconnect from technology and the “important” world of uber-communication? While for some of us this is easier than others, most of us could benefit from a little more unplugging and a little less emailing/texting/web or channel surfing in our lives.

What’s funny to me is how hypocritical we often are about it. When our spouse, co-worker, or friend is busy on their phone, checking email, or being “obnoxiously” plugged in, we often get annoyed. However, when we’re the one doing it, it’s almost always “necessary.”

Here are a few things you can do to start unplugging yourself in a healthy way.

1) Take inventory of the negative impact of technology in your life. How much stress, frustration, and difficulty does being constantly “plugged in” cause for you? Think about this on a physical, mental, emotional, relational, and spiritual level. Admittedly, this is a bigger issue for some of us than others. However, the more honest you can be with yourself about it – both the impact it has on you and any underlying fears that may be associated with it, the more able you’ll be to alter your habits.

2) Challenge yourself to take conscious breaks. See if you can schedule a full day to be “unplugged.” If that seems to scary at first, try a morning or a few hours. And, if doing a full day seems easy – try a full weekend, a work day, or something else that will be a stretch. I’m working up to doing a full weekend myself and entertaining the idea of week day (although that seems scarier to me at the moment). Push yourself, but go easy on yourself at the same time – baby steps are important and perfectly acceptable with this.

3) Unplug together. See if you can get other people in your house, your family, or those you work with to unplug with you. Doing this with the support of other people can be fun and make it easier. It will also create accountability for you and those around you.

Our issues and challenges with technology and our obsession with being connected and online 24/7 don’t seem to be going away or getting better culturally. In fact, if we just take a look at our own lives and habits in the past few years – for most of us, things are getting worse. It is up to us to interrupt this pattern and to disengage from our electronic obsession in a conscious way.

While unplugging may not always easy or encouraged in the environments we find ourselves in, it’s crucial to our success and well being in life. When we’re able to disconnect ourselves, we can regain some of the passion, energy, creativity, and perspective that often gets diminshed or lost when we allow ourselves to get sucked into our phones, computers, TVs and other devices.

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 August 23rd, 2010 in General, Global/Social Change | 1 comment Read related posts in , , , , , , , , ,