Posts tagged with ‘honesty’

30 jul

The Power of Getting Real

MikeRobbins96A few weeks ago my wife Michelle and I found out, surprisingly, that we were expecting our third child. Since this wasn’t something we’d planned, we were shocked, excited and a bit freaked out, all at the same time. We began telling lots of people about this big news and starting to imagine our life with another baby – which was both thrilling and overwhelming for us to contemplate.

Within just a few days of learning about the pregnancy, however, we had a miscarriage – something we’d never been through and weren’t quite prepared for. The range of emotions we experienced during that week, and in the weeks that followed, has been quite intense.

As jarring, painful, and somewhat surreal as it has been, Michelle and I both feel a deep sense of peace and gratitude – choosing to believe that this happened for a reason and doing our best to use this experience to deepen our own awareness and healing in life. While it has been difficult, it has also been a very rich time of growth and connection for us on many levels.

One of the most complicated aspects of this experience has been sharing it with others – which we have been somewhat forced to do given that we told a lot of people about the pregnancy. Many people don’t talk about their pregnancies until the second trimester, since the majority of miscarriages take place in those first three months. I understand, even more so now, why people keep this private – as talking about a miscarriage can be quite emotional and uncomfortable for everyone involved.

However, even though this has been an intense process for us and many of the people we’ve talked to about it (especially those who have gone through this personally), Michelle and I have been so grateful for the amazing love and support we’ve received. We’ve also been blown away by how many other people have experienced a miscarriage – some we knew about, but many we didn’t.

Even in the midst of this personal and emotional experience, I’ve also been fascinated by human phenomenon of authenticity at play. There is such power, freedom, and liberation available for us when we get real. And while I do believe that it’s important for each of us to make conscious choices about what we share and with whom, far too often I think we choose not to share certain thoughts, feelings, or experiences because we deem them to be “inappropriate” or “too much” for people to handle.

Sadly, in this process of withholding our true experiences and feelings, we miss out on opportunities to connect with people in an authentic way, get support, share love, wisdom, and empathy, and connect in a real way with everyone around us.

Carl Jung said, “We’re only as sick as our secrets.” And, Mother Teresa said, “Honesty and transparency make you vulnerable.” Then she said, “Be honest and transparent anyway.”

How We Can Get Real in a Vulnerable Way

One of the best ways to access a deeper sense of authenticity, vulnerability, and transparency is through a powerful exercise called “If you really knew me.” This exercise, which has had a profound impact on my own life and is something I’ve facilitated in various forms with many of the groups and individuals I’ve spoken to or coached over the years, gives people an opportunity to get real and vulnerable.

The exercise was taught to me by my friends and mentors, Rich and Yvonne Dutra-St. John, founders of an incredible organization called Challenge Day, which delivers life-altering, experiential, personal development workshops for teens, schools, and people of all ages. Challenge Day’s high school program is featured in the new MTV reality series which is actually called If You Really Knew Me.

How the exercise works is that each person in the group – usually a smallish group of anywhere from four to eight people (although it can be done one on one or with a larger group) – gets a minute or two of undivided attention from everyone else in the group and repeats this sentence, “If you really knew me, you’d know…” and then completes the sentence by sharing things that are real, vulnerable, and below the surface about themselves (thoughts, feelings, dreams, insecurities, opinions, experiences, passions, challenges, etc.).

There’s no pressure or expectation on each person to share anything they don’t want to share – just a challenge to step outside of their comfort zone, choose to trust the people in the group, and be more open, real, and vulnerable than they may normally be with others.

Whenever I either participate in or facilitate this exercise (as I just did earlier this week during a program I delivered), I’m always amazed by its power. People laugh, cry, get real, let go of things they’ve been holding onto, and truly connect with each other – heart to heart and in an authentic way.

What I always get from this exercise myself and hear people say in different ways is that even though we’re all unique, we’re way more alike than we are different. When we have the courage to get real with each other and speak our truth, it’s one of the most meaningful, rewarding, and connecting experiences we can have with other human beings.

Michelle and I have experienced the power and importance of getting real in these past few weeks. Even though we weren’t prepared for this, didn’t see it coming, and weren’t planning to share it with lots of people – it has been life-altering in so many ways and has taken a difficult, painful, and somewhat unexplainable situation, and turned it into something that is allowing us to grow, deepen, and experience more joy and gratitude in our lives.

When we get real (first with ourselves and then with others), even if it’s scary, uncomfortable, awkward, or intense, it has the potential to liberate us, impact those around us, and bring us all together in a beautiful and genuine way. We don’t have to go through whatever we’re going through in life alone – there is more love, support, and care around each of us than we usually realize and when we’re willing to be real about our experience, let people know what’s truly going on for us, and ask for help when we need it – it’s remarkable what happens!

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 July 30th, 2010 in Global/Social Change, New Directions, Personal Stories, Relationships, Uncategorized | 1 comment Read related posts in , , , , , , , , , ,

24 jul

Stop Apologizing for Who You Are

MikeRobbins96Apologizing can be a bit tricky for me. While I pride myself on being someone who is able to look within, take responsibility, and resolve conflicts directly – I also know that my own arrogance and insecurity cause me to sometimes stubbornly refuse to apologize or, often more damaging, over apologize, which can include apologizing for who I am.

Being able to take responsibility for our impact on others, acknowledge and own our mistakes and shortcomings, and restore trust and connection with the people around us (i.e. what authentic apologizing is all about) are essential aspects of living a fulfilled life and creating healthy relationships.

However, many of us devalue, disrespect, and do harm to ourselves and those around us, by apologizing for who we are in a shame-based way – which usually comes from a place of shame (feeling as though we’re not good enough or there’s something inherently wrong with us).

Apologizing authentically is about taking responsibility for our actions, our impact, or our results, as an adult. This is called remorse – wishing we hadn’t done or said something, and taking actions to address and rectify the situation within ourselves, with others, or both.

Apologizing for who we are is often about us thinking or saying some version of, “I’m bad, it’s my fault, or don’t hate me,” as if we’re a child looking for validation or approval. This is a specific example of how shame shows up in our lives. And, no matter how much we might “apologize,” when it comes from this insatiable, shame-based place, we’re never able to shake the feeling of something being wrong with who we are.

The more we notice that we’re apologizing for who we are, the more opportunity we have to look deeper – acknowledge, feel, and express our shame, and in the process begin to heal ourselves in a real way.

While we all have “issues,” “flaws,” and “challenges” in life – at the deepest level, there’s nothing inherently wrong with any of us. Most of us, myself included, spend and waste way too much time judging, criticizing, and being mean to ourselves.

Treating ourselves in this critical way never works – it doesn’t help us become better people, it doesn’t give us access to more love, power, or talent, it doesn’t make us more available for those around us who we want to support – it simply keeps us stuck in a negative story about who we think we are and what we think needs to be “fixed” about us so we can then live the life we truly want to live.

What if we stopped doing this to ourselves, stopped apologizing for who we are, and started honoring, valuing, and loving ourselves in an authentic way?

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 July 24th, 2010 in General, Relationships | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , ,

03 jul

Gratitude and Victimhood Can’t Co-Exist

MikeRobbins96How often to you feel like a victim? If you’re anything like me, probably more often than you’d like to admit. Although I usually pretend to be too “evolved” to play the role of victim in my life, I do catch myself at times feeling, thinking, and talking in that old, familiar, “oh poor me” kind of way. Can you relate?

I remember one of my mentors telling me years ago, “Mike, you can’t simultaneously be grateful and victimized.”

The more I reflect on this piece of profound wisdom, the more I realize how true it is. Whenever I find myself feeling as though “It’s not fair,” or wondering “Why is this happening to me?” – I notice that I’m not at all in touch with anything I’m grateful for in those moments. On the flip side, when I take the time to focus on what I appreciate about myself, those around me, my life, and/or life in general – it’s almost impossible for me to experience victimhood at the same time.

I got a wonderful email recently which exemplified this power of gratitude over victimization. Here’s the note (with permission from the man who sent it to me):

Hey Mike,

I just finished reading your book Focus on the Good Stuff and I had a breakthrough that I wanted to share with you.

I’ve never been a good sleeper. For the past 17 years I’ve had to medicate myself to fall asleep. On a good night I wake up once; on an average night, two maybe, three times. I’ve done all the things you’re supposed to do to encourage better sleeping habits. Some nights when I wake up after 3 AM, that’s it, I’m done. I can’t will myself back to sleep – my day starts at 5 AM with a morning trip to the gym – which then makes for a very long day.

Now for the good stuff…One night several weeks ago I lay awake in the middle of the night. I tossed and turned and started to fret about not being able to get back to sleep. On my night table I saw your book which I had been reading earlier in the evening and I reflected on a couple of themes – appreciate myself and be grateful – and I started to think about what those meant to me.

I lay there and made a mental list of all the things in my life that I was grateful for, and in no time at all I was fast asleep. No longer worried about what would happen if I woke up in the middle of the night, the next night when I awoke I made a mental list of all the things I appreciated about myself. It was easier than I thought and soon I was asleep with a smile on my face.

While I’m not quite ready to give up my sleeping pills yet, I’ve been able to shift my head space when I wake in the middle of the night. So my new approach is not to stress about why I’m not sleeping but to reflect on all the things that I’m grateful for or what I appreciate about myself.

Three weeks later, it’s been working like a charm – I’m sleeping better and I feel better in the morning.

I don’t know if I will be able to stop with the sleeping aid but waking up in the middle of the night is a whole lot more pleasant.

Sleeping easier…with gratitude,

Ian

What a great email, eh? Instead of feeling like a victim for his sleeping issue, Ian has chosen to use his wake-ups as an opportunity to practice being grateful. Not only is he deepening his capacity for gratitude and appreciation, but it sounds like he’s suffering and worrying a lot less, and ultimately sleeping better…how cool! Gratitude is powerful!

Here are a few things for you to think about and do, in order to expand your own capacity for gratitude in the face of situations, relationships, and circumstances which may have you currently feeling like a victim.

1) Notice where you feel victimized.
Where do you feel like a victim in your life right now? Maybe you have a big issue or challenge related to your health, finances, work situation, love life, or family. Maybe there are some smaller “annoyances” in your life – sitting in traffic, waiting in line, dealing with difficult people, etc. – that leave you feeling a bit victimized. Take some honest inventory, without judgment, and notice where you go into victimhood yourself.

2) Ask yourself what you’re grateful for. Asking and answering the question, “What am I grateful for?” is one of the most powerful things we can do, especially when we’re dealing with a challenging situation. Remember, appreciating something or being grateful for it doesn’t necessarily mean you “like” or “agree” with it – it simply means you recognize the value of it. When we can acknowledge the value of something, even and especially when it’s painful or difficult, we take back our power from it and tap into some of its positive influence in our lives. Choosing to be grateful for the specific things we’re challenged by is one of the best ways we can transform these situations and our lives.

3) Think about, feel, and express what you’re grateful for. Gratitude is a wonderful concept and a transformative practice. Most of us know the importance of being grateful, but we can only benefit from it when we experience our gratitude. We can’t be grateful in theory (or in the past or the future), we can only be grateful NOW. Whether we choose to find the silver lining in difficult circumstances, use the situation (as Ian did) as a opportunity to focus on some of the things we appreciate about life, or simply remember to focus on what we’re grateful for at random times during the course of our day – gratitude is one of the most life-altering emotions we can tap into and experience as human beings. And, the great news is that we have access to gratitude any time we choose.

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 July 3rd, 2010 in Uncategorized | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , ,

21 jun

Trust Is Granted Not Earned

MikeRobbins96How easily do you grant your trust to other people? What factors play into your ability or inability to trust certain individuals around you? What do people need to do to earn your trust?

As I personally reflect on these questions, I’m reminded of both the importance and complexity of trust in our lives, our work, and our relationships. Trust is one of the most critical elements of healthy relationships, families, teams, organizations, and communities. However, many of us have an odd or disempowered relationship to trust – we’ve been taught that people must earn our trust, when, in fact, it’s something we grant to others.

I learned early in my life that it wasn’t always safe to trust people – my folks split up when I was three, I went to tough schools and found myself in some difficult situations, and part of my “street-smart, survival kit” was to be very suspicious of just about everyone I came into contact with. While this did serve me to a certain degree as a child and adolescent (at least in terms of survival), as I got older I noticed that my resistance to trusting others created some real issues in my life and my relationships.

No matter how many “tests” I put people through in order to have them “earn” my trust, at the end of that whole process, it was ultimately up to me to grant them my trust (or not) – and then to continue to trust them (or not).

We each have our own internal process about trust – much of which is based on past, negative experiences. In other words, we get burned, disappointed, or hurt in life and then decide, “I’m not doing that again” and we put up barriers around ourselves to keep us “safe.”

While this makes rational sense, it usually leaves us guarded, leery, and insecure – unable to easily create meaningful and fulfilling relationships with people. The irony is that no matter how guarded we are, how thick the walls we put up, or what we do to try to keep ourselves from getting hurt and disappointed; it usually happens anyway.

One of my teachers said to me years ago, “Mike, you’re living as though you’re trying to survive life. You have to remember, no one ever has.”

What if we granted our trust more easily? What if we were willing to make ourselves vulnerable, to count on other people in a genuine and healthy way, and to expect the best from others authentically? Michael Bernard Beckwith calls this being “consciously naïve,” which may seem a little oxymoronic on the surface, but at a much deeper level is very wise and profound concept.

Will be get hurt? Yes! Will we be let down? Most certainly. Will people violate our trust? Of course. However, this will happen anyway – it’s just part of life. Ironically, the more we are willing to grant our trust consciously, the more likely we are to create a true sense of connection, cooperation, and collaboration in our lives, relationships, families, teams, and more – even if we feel scared to do so or it seems counter-intuitive at times.

We almost always get what we expect in life. What if we start expecting people to be there for us, to do things that are trust-worthy, and to have our backs and our best interests in mind? As with just about everything else in life, it’s a choice. As Albert Einstein so brilliantly stated, “The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.”

I choose “friendly,” how about you?

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

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

Posted by Mike Robbins on June 21st, 2010 in Uncategorized | 2 comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , , ,

11 jun

Are You Willing to Be Uncomfortable?

MikeRobbins96

How comfortable are you with being uncomfortable? I know this may seem like a paradoxical question, but it’s not. In fact, Michelle and I took a workshop this past weekend where they emphasized the importance of being uncomfortable – related to expanding our growth, success, fulfillment, and more.

Over the past few days I’ve been taking some real inventory of my own life and looking at how willing (or unwilling) I am to be uncomfortable myself. I notice that in certain areas of my life, I’m quite willing to be uncomfortable; while in others, not so much.

There seems to be a direct relationship between my willingness to be uncomfortable and how much excitement, creativity, and abundance I experience in a particular area of my life (both now and in the past). In other words, the more willing I am to be uncomfortable, the more I find myself growing, accomplishing, and transforming. On the flip side, the less willing I am to be uncomfortable, the more stress, resignation, and suffering I experience.

Our egos are highly trained at keeping us “safe” and making sure we avoid any and all “risks.” However, it’s difficult (if not impossible) for us to take our lives, our work, and our relationships to where we truly want them to be if we’re not willing to be uncomfortable in the process.

Being uncomfortable doesn’t necessarily mean that things have to be overly painful, dramatic, or challenging (although sometimes they will). When we’re uncomfortable it’s usually because we’re doing or saying something new, we have something important at stake, or we’re taking an essential risk. These are all beautiful and critical aspects of life and growth. Think of the most important areas of your life, your work, and your relationships – I bet there were and still are elements of these important things that are uncomfortable for you.

When we’re willing to be uncomfortable, we lean into our fear, try new things, and go for it in a bold and authentic way. It doesn’t mean we know exactly what we’re doing (in many cases we won’t). It also doesn’t mean we won’t fail (which, of course, we will at times).

We all have the capacity to be uncomfortable – we’ve been doing it our entire life (learning to walk, talk, ride a bike, drive a car, do our work, and so much more). However, instead of trying to “survive” the uncomfortable aspects of life – what if we embraced them, acknowledged ourselves for our willingness, and even sought out new, unique, and growth-inducing ways to make ourselves uncomfortable consciously?

Here are a few things you can think about and do to enhance your own willingness to be uncomfortable.

1) Take inventory of your life. Where are you willing to be uncomfortable and where are you not? The more honest you can be with yourself about your own willingness (or lack thereof), the more able you’ll be to make some important adjustments and changes. Be authentic and compassionate with yourself as you make this inquiry.

2) Identify your fears. There is always a specific fear (or a set of fears) that exists underneath all of our resistance. When we’re not willing to be uncomfortable, it’s usually because we’re scared. If we can admit, own, and express our fears in an honest and vulnerable way, we can liberate ourselves from their negative grip.

3) Create support and accountability around you. The best way I know of to challenge ourselves and step out of our comfort zone, is to elicit the support of others and make sure we get them to hold us accountable. There may be important things for you to do – that you know will take your life, work, and relationships to the next level – but they seem intimidating (i.e. uncomfortable). Getting people you trust and respect to help you, coach you, and push you is one of the best ways to make it happen – even and especially if you’re not sure how, or worried you can’t do it.

Being uncomfortable is, well, uncomfortable. But, it’s one of the most important things for us to embrace if we want to live a life of real meaning, purpose, and passion.

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 June 11th, 2010 in General, New Directions | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , ,

05 jun

Be Your Own Cheerleader

MikeRobbins96I recently saw a wonderful video on YouTube that has been making its way around the internet of a little girl passionately affirming herself and her life in the bathroom mirror (”My whole house is great, I like my hair, I can do anything, I like my family,” etc.) If you haven’t had a chance to see it, check it out – it’s adorable, funny, and a beautiful example of appreciation in action.

I showed it to my four year old daughter Samantha (who is close to the same age as the girl in the video). Samantha loved it and asked me if she could do the same thing herself. She ran into the bathroom, got up on the counter, and began to do her own affirmations in the mirror. It was beautiful, hilarious, and quite heartwarming to see her cheering about herself and her life in such a positive and passionate way.

Not only was Samantha excited about doing this, there was no shame, guilt, or embarrassment on her part as she did it. Her baby sister, Rosie (who is almost two now), is a big fan of laughing, smiling, and kissing herself in the full length mirror we have in our bedroom. So cute! I’m amazed and inspired by how many little ones seem to have an innate sense of appreciation for themselves, as if it’s hardwired into them at birth.

Sadly, this high regard many of us have for ourselves and our lives as babies, toddlers, and even little kids, is often “trained” out of us as we learn the ways of the “real” world. Directly and indirectly we hear and see things that lead us to believe that we are not good enough, need to be fixed, and are fundamentally flawed. We also learn early on that it’s not cool, socially acceptable, or even appropriate to act, think, or speak about ourselves in ways that may be perceived as overly positive or downright arrogant.

Even for those of us, like me and most of you reading this article, who understand the importance of self appreciation and self love, the act of expressing and experiencing love for ourselves can be tricky. Once we get over the negative stigma or our fear of being judged (which is often an ongoing process), we then have to deal with our own obsession with criticizing ourselves, as well as the fact that we may not actually know how to love and appreciate ourselves in an authentic way.

However, when we truly love ourselves, most of what we worry about and even much of what we strive for in life becomes meaningless. We may still have some worries, and we’ll definitely continue to have goals, dreams and desires. However, from a place of true self appreciation and self love, the fear behind our worries and the motivation for our goals dramatically changes from something we have to avoid or produce in order to be accepted and valued to something we’re genuinely concerned about or really want to accomplish.

In other words, when we wait for other people, the accomplishment of specific goals, or the manifestation of ideal circumstances to create the excitement, joy, and inspiration for our lives – we give away our personal power and live in an insatiable way. Cheering for ourselves with passion, and with a true sense of love and appreciation is not arrogant, it’s actually required if we’re going to live a life of fulfillment, gratitude, and meaning.

Arrogance is based on fear and insecurity. Whenever I catch myself doing or saying anything arrogant (which I do on a pretty regular basis), it’s because I’m feeling insecure, wanting someone to like me or be impressed with me, or trying to compensate for some perceived “lack” within or about myself. There’s nothing “evil” about us being arrogant, it’s just not all that much fun for us or others – and living our life from a place of arrogance can cause a great deal of pain, suffering, and hurt for ourselves and those around us.

Authentic self appreciation is about loving, valuing, and honoring ourselves, our gifts, and all of who we are – both light and dark. The words, thoughts, and feelings may seem similar to arrogance, however, they’re not. Energetically, self appreciation comes from a very different place within us than arrogance does. The more we practice loving and appreciating ourselves, the easier it is for us to tell the difference.

Here is a list of some things you can do to practice loving, appreciating, and cheering for yourself in an authentic and powerful way:

  • Speak about yourself positively
  • When someone compliments you – breathe, let it in, and say “thank you” (don’t discount it)
  • Say affirmations to yourself in the mirror, and use your first name (i.e. “I love you, Mike”)
  • Write down things you appreciate about yourself in your journal on a regular basis
  • Send yourself an email or card of appreciation – from you, to you
  • Buy yourself flowers or some token of appreciation that makes you feel good
  • Ask for the acknowledgment you’d like
  • Make requests of others (remember that you don’t have to do it all yourself)
  • Take time for yourself and by yourself
  • Celebrate your successes (big and small) and pat yourself on the back regularly

Many of the things on this list fall into the category of “simple but not easy” for most of us. And, there are clearly many more things each of us can do and practice as we enhance our capacity for self love and appreciation. The key is our intention, not what we do specifically.

If we start to think of ourselves as our most important ally, friend, and, ultimately, cheerleader, we can alter our own internal relationship and begin to count on ourselves in new, inspiring, and important ways.

Being our own cheerleader is not about bragging, boasting, or being better than anyone else – it’s about honoring, appreciating, and loving ourselves in a real way. On this journey of life we are with ourselves in every moment – the more capacity we have to love ourselves, the more ability we have in turn to love others and share our gifts with the world.

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 June 5th, 2010 in Uncategorized | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , ,

28 may

Be Flexible

mike_robbinsHow 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 places 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, wimpy, 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 is 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

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Posted by Mike Robbins on May 28th, 2010 in Uncategorized | 1 comment Read related posts in , , , , , , ,

20 may

Appreciate the Simple Things

mike_robbinsLast week my left ear got plugged up and it was difficult for me to hear out of it for about 48 hours. It was scary and challenging. Thankfully everything was okay, it’s all clear now, and I’m able to hear just fine out of both ears.

Having this happen was yet another example of how easy it is for me to take something simple, but very important (like hearing), for granted. Sadly, we often don’t appreciate the simple things in life until they’re threatened, impacted, or taken away from us in some way.

What if we did appreciate the simple things all the time, in an authentic way? What kind of an impact would that have on our lives, our work, and our relationships? Dramatic, to say the least!

The book A Thousand Things Went Right Today, by Ilan Shamir, is all about this phenomenon. Think about all the simple things that have fallen into place, just today, to allow you to be sitting here, reading these words right now.

With this in mind, there are two important things that you can do right now (and in an ongoing way) to alter the experience of your life, your work, and your relationships extraordinarily:

1) Be Easily Impressed – In order to be easily impressed (i.e. to truly appreciate the simple things in life) we have to look for good stuff, appreciate the small miracles that occur around us all the time, focus on the amazing aspects of people and situations, and let go of arrogant, erroneous notions like, “I already know that,” or, “I’ve seen it all,” or, “No big deal.”

When we’re difficult to impress we also make it hard to be happy, grateful, and fulfilled. When we allow ourselves to be easily impressed, life gets much more fun and interesting. Appreciation is fundamentally subjective. People and things are only valuable (or not) based upon our perception of them.

If you’re interested in living a life filled with passion, success, and gratitude, it’s in your best interest to allow yourself to be authentically amazed all the time. Life is a miracle. People are incredible. You are fantastic. And, these things are only true if we pay attention to them and allow ourselves to be impressed by the greatness of life, others, and ourselves.

2) Be Hard to Offend – Being hard to offend is not about us abandoning our values or convictions, it’s more about choosing to allow other people and things be exactly as they are, without resistance of judgment. (new paragraph here)

We take so many things personally that have nothing to do with us at all. The more we react to something, the less freedom and peace we have. When I get really “triggered” by someone or something, if I make it all about the other person or the thing I’m focusing on, I usually miss the real gift, the lesson, and the point (i.e. the shadow or mirror that this “negative” thing is showing me about myself and life).

We are not victims of the people or circumstances in our lives. Others don’t actually have the power to offend us. As Eleanor Roosevelt so brilliantly stated, “No one can make me feel inferior without my permission.” This same phenomenon is true about being offended. It’s a choice we make and we have the power to choose not to be offended in almost every situation.

Unfortunately, most of us (myself included) have these two things flipped upside. In other words, we’re often very difficult to impress and quite easy to offend. And, as you may have noticed, this doesn’t work so well for us and those around us. How we can start flipping this around – becoming more easily impressed and harder to offend – is by appreciating the simple things in life and doing so as a regular practice.

Action Idea – Appreciate the Simple Things Right Now:

Take a moment right now to pause and put your attention on all of the simple things you can appreciate in this moment. Look around where you are, go within yourself, and scan your life right now – focusing on what you appreciate. You can just think about these things, talk about them with someone else, or write them down (on a piece of paper, in your journal, in an electronic document, on my blog or your blog, and more). It doesn’t really matter what form it takes, this is about putting our conscious attention on some of the many simple things we can appreciate in this moment.

Some of these things while “simple,” may be quite significant (your health, your job, your most important relationships, etc.) And, even if you focus on very basic stuff (the fact that you have a computer or device that allows you to access this article, that your eyes work well enough to read it, that the electricity or battery power running your computer or device is allowing it to function, and more), your ability to recognize and appreciate the “good stuff” in life is directly related to your level of fulfillment and enjoyment.

We always have a choice as to what we pay attention to, what we focus on, and what we appreciate (or don’t). Make a commitment to yourself to appreciate the simple things in your life in a genuine and ongoing way, and see what happens!

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 20th, 2010 in Uncategorized | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , ,

14 may

Distract Yourself in Healthy Ways

mike_robbinsWe live in a world of distractions. All day, every day we are bombarded with opportunities to be distracted. And, as I’ve recently noticed about myself, many of us choose (whether we’re conscious of it or not) to distract ourselves on purpose and to escape from life in various ways.

Given that most of us are going to be distracted on a regular basis, consciously or unconsciously, it’s important that we take a deeper look at how and why we get distracted and do what we can do to start distracting ourselves in healthy ways and for healthy reasons.

Unhealthy distraction

Due to the fact that life can get quite intense and stressful, and many of us have come up with creative ways of avoiding certain feelings, situations, and activities that are challenging for us (i.e. things we’re scared of or uncomfortable with), we tend to distract ourselves in various unhealthy ways.

Whether our personal version of distraction involves food, TV, alcohol, a “smart” phone, drugs, drama, confusion, over-scheduling, taking care of everyone around us, or anything else – we often engage in unhealthy habits (like these and others) and do so for unhealthy reasons (because we don’t want to stop, feel, and deal with the intensity of our lives).

Healthy distraction, for unhealthy reasons

Once we become aware of our unhealthy patterns of distracting ourselves (as mentioned above), we can start to replace some of these negative behaviors with more positive ones. I like to call this “productive procrastination.” Some examples:

- We re-organize our desk instead of making those scary phone calls
- We clean up the house instead of working on the creative project that we’ve been thinking about
- Instead of rushing to the refrigerator when we get stressed out, we head out to the gym or on a bike ride to relieve some stress
- We curl up with an inspiring book or watch a touching film that makes us feel better

These and other things can “distract” us in more positive ways and have less of a negative impact on us in the long run. However, if we engage in these “healthy” activities simply as a way to avoid dealing with our lives, feeling certain uncomfortable emotions, or engaging in what’s going on around us in an authentic way, there is still another level for us to reach.

Conscious, healthy distraction

The ultimate goal of this process is for us to be able to choose to “distract” ourselves (i.e. get out of our heads, let go of our negative worries, and take a conscious break from the day-to-day stress of life) in a truly healthy way. When our motivation is positive (i.e. we’re not avoiding anything, but choosing consciously to take a break), the outcome and experience of our “distraction” is more likely to be healthy and beneficial.

If we’re going to live a life of growth, meaning, and fulfillment – we need lots of healthy breaks and rests along the way, especially when things get hard. If we don’t take these breaks, it’s easy to let worry, fear, negativity, doubt, and the daily pressures of life take over, almost without us even noticing.

Here’s a long list of some simple things you can do to “distract” yourself in a healthy way.

- Watch inspiring movies
- Meditate
- Exercise
- Walk in nature
- Sing
- Laugh
- Play with children
- Travel
- Read inspiring books
- Help others
- Paint
- Spend time with people you love
- Dance
- Take classes or workshops
- Write
- Listen to inspiring music
- Swim
- Sit and do nothing

This list could go on and on. Take a moment to reflect on these and other things that you can do that will have a positive impact on your life right now.

It’s not so much what you do, but why and how you do it. When we take some time to consciously “distract” ourselves in healthy ways, we interrupt the negative, unconscious, and habitual patterns of our minds and our culture that often get in the way of us experiencing the peace, joy, and abundance that is naturally and authentically around us and within us all the time.

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 14th, 2010 in Uncategorized | 1 comment Read related posts in , , , , , , , ,

14 apr

The Power of Desire without Attachment

mike_robbinsFor many years I’ve had mixed feelings about my wants and have been a bit confused about the true power of desire. While I know that desire is an essential piece of the manifestation process, I also know that focusing a lot of my attention and energy on what I want has caused a great deal of fear, pain, and disappointment in my life. Over emphasizing my desire has also gotten in my way of appreciating all that I already have and who I really am at the deepest level. Can you relate?

Last week, I started listening to the audio version of the classic bestselling book Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill. While I was listening to the chapter on the importance of desire, I had some big insights and realizations.

I noticed that I often actually hold back, squelch, or minimize my deepest desires – waiting until things seem “possible” or even “probable” before I fully express (both to myself and others) what I truly want. I also realized that my rationalization that “it’s more important to focus on what I have than it is to think about what I want,” has more to do with my own fears that I don’t actually know how to manifest my desire or that I will be upset when things don’t turn out the way I want them to.

Most importantly, I saw that my issue with desire has to do with my attachment to the specific outcome I want, not with desire itself. I don’t have much experience with passionately wanting something (a feeling, experience, material possession, accomplishment, or state of being), without being attached to it manifesting in reality.

Being quite competitive, goal-oriented, and achievement focused for much of my life – I’ve often related to my desires as specific challenges to conquer, goals to attain, or games to win.

What if there’s no scoreboard, it’s not a competition, and it doesn’t really matter if something comes to fruition or not? In other words, what if we could want with deep passion and excitement, and without attachment? It’s not that we wouldn’t want certain things to happen or specific dreams to come true, we just wouldn’t relate to our specific desires as if our life depended on them (which in most cases it doesn’t).

As simple of a concept as this is to understand, at least conceptually, it’s revolutionary when we consider its implications on our life, our growth, our relationships, our work, our dreams, and more. I’ve been talking about, reading about, and teaching people about desire without attachment for many years, but for the first time in my life in the past few days, I’ve actually been inquiring into it and speculating on what it would look like, feel like, and be like for me to live my life from this place of passionate desire and non-attachment, authentically. It’s a whole new world of possibility.

What if we gave ourselves the permission to dream and desire in a big and profound way? What if we knew that whether or not we achieved, experienced, or manifested something that we really, really wanted – we would be okay either way (because we actually would and we have always been). The fact that we currently exist in life without many of the things we desire is evidence that we don’t need many of the specific things we want.

However, the more passionate, bold, clear, and free we become with our desires – knowing them, feeling them, seeing them, and expressing them – the more likely we are to not only manifest them specifically into our lives, but to live with an authentic sense of passion, purpose, and power.

Here are a few things you can think about and do to expand your capacity for passionate desire, without attachment:

1) Notice your relationship with desire itself. How do you feel about your desires, dreams, goals, and wants (big or small)? Are you comfortable with having desires and with expressing them? Do your desires excite you? Do they scare you? Are you optimistic about being able to manifest the experiences, feelings, and outcomes you want in your life right now? How have your past experiences with your desires impacted your current relationship to wanting? The more you can get in touch with how you feel about and relate to desire in general and your desires specifically, the more ability you’ll have to expand your capacity for passionate, non-attached wanting.

2) Allow yourself to want. Take some time today and this week to inquire about what you really want right now. What are some of your deepest desires at this moment in your life? Notice how easy or difficult it is for you to think about and imagine these desires. Without judgment, see if you can challenge yourself to push past any perceived limitations, judgments, or fears you may have about what you want. The goal is to practice wanting with passion and to let go of your need to know how something will come to fruition or what you think it will mean if it does (or doesn’t) manifest.

3) Get support and encouragement from others. Getting in touch with our deepest desires and passionately expressing them is something that for many of us takes courage and support – and can also be quite vulnerable and scary. Reach out to the people you trust most in your life and those who truly have your back. Share with them both your fears and your desires – in a way that will support and empower you to focus on what you want with passion and authenticity. This is not about getting practical help and support to make your goals happen (although that may be something that comes out of this process naturally). Reaching out for support and encouragement from others in this regard is about allowing the love, support, and belief the people in our lives have for us to nurture us and give us the courage to dream and want with intensity and in a way that reminds us that we are not alone and that we’re okay, just as we are (with or without manifesting what we want).

Have fun with this and, as always, be kind, appreciative, and compassionate with yourself in this process. For most of us, this is a big step to take and something we can and will continue to practice and deepen throughout our journey of life and growth. And, as we deepen our ability to want with passion and without attachment, our life can take off in magical ways that we didn’t even think was possible.

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 April 14th, 2010 in Uncategorized | 3 comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , , ,