Encouragementology
Remember the Clouds? The Importance of Daydreaming

Remember the Clouds? The Importance of Daydreaming

March 24, 2020

When is the last time you took the time to fantasize, dream, or wonder? Sometimes we are so busy with our day-to-day crazy schedule and crunch time that we forget there is a great big world out there and all we have to do is imagine more. Visualize how we want to go and where we want to be. Sounds dreamy, huh? Why then, when we have a moment to ourselves, do we grab a device and get lost in someone else’s fantasy? One moment...a half a second, gone! Let’s take this opportunity to stop, take in a big breath, and lookup. Notice the clouds? Ok, stay there. 

I saw the clouds one morning while making coffee. Up early, bustling around gathering all my workplace necessities, computer, all the adapters for said computer, an ample supply of notebooks and folders, snacks, my lunch, water that I would talk myself into drinking later, and now the coffee….COME ON! I recently bought a Keurig with a frother to make lattes at home. Why don’t they just tell you in the disclaimer that there is a reason Starbucks is in business and you are not?

At any rate, now I have a Keurig that produces one slow cup at a time. So impatiently, I looked out the window. At first, I thought of how in a few weeks I would need the grass cut and how in a huff, I got rid of last season’s lawn crew and was behind in finding someone new. But then, all of a sudden,  it happened. I looked up and caught a glimpse of the fluffy pillows of white and I exhaled. It was a clear day and the sky was a welcome shade of baby blue so the clouds just rested there on display. 

I was instantly transported back to childhood when spring was blooming and the grass was turning green and the days were getting just a little bit longer. I can remember laying on my back, the ground still moist. The temp was cool enough for a sweatshirt but I was already pushing summer with short sleeves and goosebumps. I would stare at those clouds getting mesmerized by their sheer size and the thought of what they must feel like and what it would be like to jump from cloud to cloud. So relaxed and miles away in thought. Not sure how long I would lay there, probably until the ants finally found me and persistently asked me to leave. 

No agenda, no rush, no stress. When is the last time you lost yourself to that place? Does it seem like a world apart from here? What happened? Why did we stop daydreaming? 

Is it just a lack of time? Maybe we don’t see the point, we’ve evolved. Or life has thrown us so many curve balls there is no reason to leave anything up to chance, we’ve become jaded. Let’s find out and then find a way back!

As with everything we talk about, a healthy balance is ideal. So to be fair, we will also look at what happens when you spend too much time with your head in the clouds and how even that, could be limiting. 

Daydreaming to me represents slowing down and spending a little more time thinking, wondering, and visualizing the world and you in it. I’m suggesting creating space to grow without the limits and parameters of everyone else’s ideas.

Sure, cop a squat and pick out giraffe and elephant shapes in the cloud, that’s fun too but let’s explore daydreaming in other ways. 

How many of you robot from activity to activity? Time to make the coffee, leaving for work, emails, meetings, lunchtime, more emails, meetings, putting out fires, driving home, take out the trash, time for dinner, chit chat, worry, frustration...whelp time for bed see you again, tomorrow! Autopilot!

I can remember showing up to work and not remembering the drive-in and I wasn’t even daydreaming! I was lost in a cloud of same’o, same’o. If that’s you and your week flies by because you barely noticed it or your week drags because NOTHING ever changes, then it’s time to take the wheel. 

Oh to see the world as a child does. We used to say that thinking yeah, you just wait until you get older and have to get a job and then have a family to support. Now who’s laughing! It’s not about having responsibility or the pressures of life weighing you down. A child takes their time with no agenda but to figure it all out. They aren’t quick to be bias or discount something because of what they’ve heard. In fact, the opposite is true, they think they can do anything ….until you tell them they can’t. 

What if we could make a concentrated effort to rediscover wonder? That doesn’t mean quit your job and unload your responsibility to start over. 

Try This:  Cultivate your beginner’s mind as a daily life experiment. Try to approach a problem at work with fresh eyes. Imagine you’d never encountered this problem before and explore it in all its detail. Do the same with daily experiences, like dinner-time or while in a conversation with a friend or spouse. Look at the interaction with new eyes. You may want to imagine you are watching the interaction as an observer. Search for details that you’d previously ignored because the situation is so familiar. Notice how people look, their tone of voice, how they respond to you and their body language. When you look with beginner's eyes, what do you see, that you previously overlooked?

As you do this exercise in daily life, do you find your mind clearing of automatic expectations and judgments? Did you notice anything that you’d previously overlooked? Does slowing down and allowing yourself to simply observe the world around you give you a sense of peace or wonder?

Routine and knowledge of how the world works allow us to make choices about where to focus our attention. But sometimes we get so used to seeing the world in a particular way that we miss important aspects of our experience.

As with everything, just be aware of the moments you blow through and slow down. Don’t be quick to grab your phone or ask someone else. Just sit and wrestle with something for a while. I’m convinced Google is crushing our critical thinking not to mention, paralyzing our patience. 

Start noticing how many times you have a thought and how quickly you grab your device to look up the answer. Once the results are in, do you dig down to compare the info to come up with the right answer or do you take the first result?

What if, the next time you are at dinner with your family or a friend and you come up with a question, you spend some time reasoning it out? Couldn’t this be fun? Everyone can contribute a thought and a possible solution or reason. You can wonder and rationalize to come up with the best possible solution.  This doesn’t have to be a big life question or solve the world’s problems. How old is Willie Nelson? Take a moment and consider his span of work, a movie you might have seen him in, how old you were when you saw it, how old he must have been when he made it. I’m just suggesting taking some time and talking it out. You never know what other conversations and cool subjects could come up as a result. 

In the end, if you want to verify your conclusion, you can but do you really care how old Willie Nelson is? Oh and remember, Google is a search engine gathering data from websites based on keywords and popularity or the clever manipulation of SEO. Don’t be so quick to accept the first answer since they aren’t just an unbiased service for the public but a business selling to consumers.

Are you thinking, great, now I need to spend time wondering? Where am I going to fit that in? I’m supposed to wake up and find gratitude, send out my positive energy to everyone I encounter, be mindful of limiting beliefs and when I should challenge them, AND wonder? Oy

There are many times I catch Matt in wonder. I’ll walk into his office to tell him something and he’s just sitting there. No computer on, no music, nothing in his hands; just sitting there. Now, as a multi-tasker extraordinaire, this seems odd to me. So I ask, “whatcha doing?” His response, “just sitting here”. This is such a foreign concept to me so I have to clarify that I heard him right by repeating his answer, “just sitting there?” Notice the question in my voice? I’m expecting him to come back with a detail that he left out but no, “Yep, just sitting here”. I’m perplexed and dig because there has to be more to this activity. Maybe he’s waiting for something to happen by just wasting time. But no…..he’s just thinking. WEIRD!

But we should all take this awkward exchange as a reminder, thinking IS doing something too. 

Not all daydreaming comes with visions of the little girl on her back looking at the clouds trying to figure out the world. Sometimes the term “daydreamer” brings a negative picture. Someone who can’t take anything seriously, won’t put any real attention or effort in, no direction, lost in the clouds.

Always dreaming, getting ready to get ready isn’t the healthy balance we are always talking about. If you use daydreaming as a way to escape for a moment and give your mind space to wonder, that’s great. If you use daydreaming to escape from life, from your responsibilities and growth, then it could be counterproductive.

Dreams should help you visualize new things you want to try, experience, or explore. What might be preventing you from turning those thoughts and dreams into reality? This may be something to breakdown but you can’t do that until you are aware that your healthy balance, might be a little off.

Too much time in the future, imagining what life could be without taking action means you can’t enjoy the present or work out the details that are preventing you from moving forward.

“A daydream is a meal at which images are eaten. Some of us are gourmets, some gourmands, and a good many take their images precooked out of a can and swallow them down whole, absent-mindedly and with little relish.”
― W.H. Auden

CHALLENGE: Observe your thoughts and wrestle with your ideas. Take a moment to dream and wonder; exploring the corners of your subconscious. Life will keep moving even if you take a mini, thought-provoking, time-out.

I Know YOU Can Do It!

 

RESOURCES:

Christy Matta wrote an article, Have You Lost Your Sense of Wonder? For mentalhelp.net
SIDNEY STEVENS gives us 5 ways daydreaming is good for you.
In an article for Everyday Health, we learn ever MORE positives for daydreaming and a few negatives
A cool quote by  W.H. Auden

 

 

Getting Laser-Focused On Your Goals

Getting Laser-Focused On Your Goals

March 17, 2020

Did you start the year, this quarter, or even this month off with the best intentions only to find yourself smack dab in a lull? Broad goals are easy to create, mapping out milestones and hitting them along the way can be a challenge, but sticking to a plan with the same intensity as the day you started can be a brutal fight. You still want it right? Then what happened? Where did you lose focus? We are going to delve into that, dissect some scenarios and come up with some strategies to get back on track. I know you can do it! 

Just like we would research places to go, create an itinerary, and pack all the necessary tools for our journey, creating reachable goals takes a well thought out plan. Did you forget to investigate all the options, leave out a step along the way, or did you over or under pack for the trip? First, let’s walk through the steps for successful goal planning to make sure we haven’t missed anything. Then let’s explore where motivation comes from and how you can get more and sustain it longer. A time-release solution for motivation sounds perfect! 

We also need to discuss the obvious snags to any good plan. Preparing for how you are going to handle the unforeseen is a critical strategy needed for success. Ready to party and celebrate? It’s a necessary element to motivation so we are going to talk about its benefits and how you can make sure you build in reward to keep you mentally hydrated along the way. 

Where did this goal come from? Is this a long-term goal to get you further along in life or is it a short-term goal helping you obtain something you want or getting you over the hump? It’s important to remember where you started and why. 

You should always have a goal. Setting goals helps trigger new behaviors, helps guides your focus and helps you sustain that momentum in life.

Communicating your goal to an accountability partner helps keep you accountable. I recently did just that. At the end of the brainstorming session my accountability partner said, is there anything I can do to help you and I said, “Now you know my plan, the reasons why, and my overall mission. Help me stay laser-focused on that. If you see me wavering or going in a different direction, gently remind me to look to my vantage point.”

It’s easy to get into weeds and go off on a tangent. I love to paint the picture of digging a ditch. If you are too tactical you will spend all your time in the ditch, digging and digging. Without a strategic approach, you can’t stay focused on where you’re going. Imagine the aerial view of that!

So how do you know if you set the right goal? Like picking the perfect destination for your journey, you might want to clarify a few things. Do you have a burning desire to uncover and execute your life’s purpose? Or is it more of getting to the next level in life, work, or health?

Here are a few questions I came up with to flush out before you put pen to paper.

1 - Why is this my goal? It’s important to soul-search this question a bit. If you are going to spend the time, do the research, and set up the plan, you might want to make sure this is what YOU truly want. It’s a great time to make sure the goal and the outcome associated with it are of importance to you and not something you’re doing to please someone else. The motivation to please will only take you so far.

2- Is the timing right? Laser-focus takes time and a serious commitment. Is this the right time for you to dedicate yourself to this goal? Is it something you want to do or have to do? What will you be giving up to make it happen? Are you willing to give it up? Be strategic, timing is everything and missing the mark won’t set yourself up for success. 

3- Do I have support through the process? Clearing a path in your life to focus on your, your wants, needs, and desires may mean others have to take a back seat or pitch in with a little extra help. Do you have a good support system? Are you willing to ask for the help you need? Have you identified an accountability partner or two? Creating a successful plan means you do the homework to modify your current routine and remove any known obstacles ahead of time.

4 -What’s your timeframe? You need to be willing to push yourself. It’s ok to be realistic but not setting parameters around time means you aren’t taking the process very seriously. Losing weight, getting better at something, or making more money is way too broad. You need to be specific and time-bound to stay on track. What do you want, when do you want to complete it by, and what happens in between. 

5- What happens if you don’t succeed? Failure is a part of life and even though you don’t want to start your journey with a negative spirit, you do need to be prepared with a Plan B. If you aren’t willing to accept that failure is an option then you could be caught with a devastating, dream-crushing blow that you can’t recover from. Having an alternate route means you don’t have to start over if things don’t go as planned. You can simply make the necessary adjustments and be on your way! 

Sounds motivating and easy to do but is it? Failure can be a game-changer for some. If given the opportunity, it can solidify what you already knew; you aren’t good enough, you aren’t smart enough, you can’t win. Left untreated and failure can not only stop you in your tracks but it can prevent you from trying anything, you see risky, again. If you aren’t evolving and pushing yourself, then you are stuck; your growth stunted. 

How can you objectively learn from your failures without taking them so personally? Personal yes, they are happening to you, but objectively so you can step outside of the situation and learn from the lesson that is being presented.

Where does your motivation come from? It might be easy to say money or success but let’s dig a little deeper. Could it be a sense of accomplishment, praise, or validation? 

Has anyone told you that you could do it? That you matter and that your goals are important? 

Before goals and the motivation to reach them comes encouragement. The inspiration that all of this is even possible. Encouragement is needed to connect and visualize something better. Its instilling courage, confidence, and hope. It’s essential for reaching any goal. 

“Those who are lifting the world upward and onward are those who encourage more than criticize.” - Elizabeth Harrison

Just being told that someone believes in your ability to do something is motivating. I know YOU can do it! I believe in you! Your goals are important and you have the ability to reach them!

I think NIKE puts it best, Just DO it! Waiting around for motivation to come is like staying up to catch Santa, it will never happen. You can’t meditate motivation, you can’t wait it out, or touch your nose and watch it appear. You have to pick a goal that is important to you, specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound and then just go for it! 

The climate is never going to be perfect and someone isn’t going to knock on your door and hand it to you. You have to go out and get it. 

Ready to party? Waiting until you reach your overall goal will mean you miss out on all the intrinsic benefits of hitting and celebrating milestones along the way. Want to party more often, then make your milestones closer together. It’s important to throw in a few easy to obtain ones to give yourself a nice boost with a few challenging ones to keep you accountable. 

One of the main reasons celebrating is so important is because it reflects an overall attitude of gratitude and enjoying what we have, instead of focusing on what we don’t have or only on what we want in the future.

Goal setting is great and keeps you focused on shaping what’s to come but too much time in the future means you can’t enjoy the present. As with everything, it’s about creating a healthy balance. Creating celebrations around mini-milestones means you get to commemorate the now. Life moves at such a rapid speed that these built-in speed bumps can help you slow down and find gratitude. While you are there, you might have a chance to engage in other joyful activities that you would have missed on the Audobon of life. 

Grab dinner with your accountability partner to share your good news. Schedule a day of luxury and pampering for yourself. Make a marker showing a successful win you can display in your office or your home. Mark it off the to-do list and doodle a happy face. Journal your excitement so when life’s moving fast and the road is bumpy, you can come back and visit your success for extra motivation. 

You are in charge and you have the power to make it happen! Hopefully, these ideas will help you evaluate your plan to see where you need some additional attention or focus or maybe even a re-engineer of ideas. Either way, you are worth it and getting to your next milestone is just around the corner. 

CHALLENGE: Pull in for a pit-stop to make sure your goals reflect your dreams, put in the work to engineer a successful plan, and enlist encouragement and accountability from those you trust to help push you through the lulls. You deserve it!

 

I Know YOU Can Do It!

Saying Yes! When You Keep Hearing NO

Saying Yes! When You Keep Hearing NO

March 10, 2020

Are you ready to take action, get over the hump, and get on your way to feeling better, achieving a goal, making a deeper impact, and just being happier? Well, my friend, you are going to have to stop pushing opportunities aside, refusing help, trying to do it all on your own, and most importantly, saying NO. What are you afraid of? Are you so closed off and shut down to believe that you have experienced everything there is to experience, that you couldn’t possibly learn something new about yourself, and be happier than you are today? Hogwash. There is ALWAYS more! Let’s dig into the knee jerk “I’m just looking” response and start saying YES!

Let’s talk about what’s preventing you from saying yes, when no works for you and when it can work against you, and how being open to more can give you the momentum to propel you forward. Sound like a plan?

Are you that person who walks into a store and no matter what your mission, when you’re approached for help you say, “no thank you, I’m just looking”? It’s a knee jerk reaction. I’ve said it and then thought about it for half a second, retracted and said: “why yes, I do need some help, where is this or that?” Why spend time searching for something I’m unfamiliar with when an expert just said, how can I help you today.  We’ve become conditioned to figuring things out on our own, to avoid making contact, and possibly being talked into something we don’t need or aren’t ready for. Has this been your experience when you’ve let your guard down and accepted help? No? Then where did that preconceived notion come from? Why are we so quick to push help aside to go it alone?

How many automatic no’s do you deliver every day? If not verbally, in your mind?

Sometimes no is so deeply rooted that even though it comes out of your mouth it doesn’t come from your heart. It’s an opinion or thought given to us when we needed help to understand the world. Somewhere, someone told us no and we believed the why and it became our thought and opinion too. Left unchallenged, we carry it around and use it like caution cones for road construction. Slow down, use caution, or worse….detour here! We reroute everything in our life based on something we heard vs something we’ve tested. 

We talk a lot about self-limiting beliefs and that’s because it’s important. It’s important to look at it from all angles and continue to bring new ideas around the subject to the surface. If you heard it the first time and were able to break through all your false beliefs and adopt your own perspective, then CONGRATS! How freeing that must feel. However, I’m going to lay money on the fact that most of us need to hear it again and again and then even after that, be continually reminded.  Deeply rooted beliefs don’t pluck easily from our garden of knowledge. 

It takes persistence. Just like the weeds that come back again and again, when given any opportunity, these thoughts and judgments will replay over and over.

We’ve all had these beliefs at one time or many times in our lives. We may still be having them now. The first step is to recognize that there could be an alternative perspective. As with anything, if you aren’t aware, you can’t alter your thoughts. 

For me, it happens as a revelation. I may have heard it and believed it one way for so long and then all of a sudden I hear a new idea that challenges my old one and BAM! I may have heard it over and over but for some reason, that one time took hold and opened my eyes. So don’t stop searching for new ideas and listening to others. Knowledge comes from hearing so be open to what’s being said around you. Once your mind is open and this new idea is swirling around, it’s time to challenge your old way of thinking. 

Now you might be a skeptic, so this may not happen in one attempt. But that’s the beauty of self-discovery, it’s a journey. Keep poking away at it and whittle it down until it no longer has a hold over you. 

Sometimes is the sheer fear of saying yes. As we’ve already established, no keeps us closed off and protected. New ideas and opportunities might push you out of your comfort zone and then what? You will be exposed and vulnerable and people might see the true you. Ouch!  Sounds funny but generally, we are afraid of the unknown. Routine is comfortable and predictable. But what if….you really like it and it propels you to new heights.

There are times when no is HARD to say but healthy to do so. I’m not suggesting replacing all your no’s with yes but just to be mindful so you get a healthy balance. Sometimes saying no is the source of your anxiety. You don’t want to let people down, you want to please, fix, or control. No might create that uncomfortable confrontation or worse, show that you aren’t needed when validation is what you need most. ALWAYS being there for everyone but yourself is not valiant it’s risky. Just like limiting beliefs, our perception of people-pleasing can be skewed. Helpful can easily morph into controlling. Not allowing others to live their lives unaided by you can create a false sense of dependency that enables them from learning and evolving.

People-pleasing is another deeply rooted behavior in our garden but with pruning and self-care you can keep it at bay.

Feeling powerful? Perception really does control so much of what we think and do. We can get so rooted in one frame of mind that we miss much of what passes us by. Being open to differing opinions and new perspectives give us a chance to grow in a direction that nurtures and feeds our minds. 

Adam Sicinski, Lifetime Achiever gives us a list of things that we should be saying YES to that will help us live a more optimal life and propel us forward:

Say YES to opportunities to attempt something new that you hadn’t tried before.

Say YES to possibilities for new adventures, challenges, and experiences.

Say YES to things that somewhat scare you or that you don’t quite understand.

Say YES to things that break your monotonous rituals, habits, and routines.

Say YES to things that help you learn something new about yourself, about others and about life.

Say YES to building friendships and connections with strangers.

Say YES to experiencing changes that feel uncomfortable and yet somewhat exciting at the same time.

Say YES to unexpected invites that create interest and pull you out of your comfort zone.

Say YES to random encounters and coincidences that you don’t quite understand but would like to make the most of.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of things that we should be saying YES to more often, however it does cover quite an array of scenarios that can help you experience more of what life has to offer.

CHALLENGE: Take a moment before you respond. This could be an opportunity for something new and exciting to develop. Embrace yes and challenge no when you’ve considered all your options. You deserve the best life has to offer.

 

I Know YOU Can Do It!

 

RESOURCES:
Peter Shankman, article, saying yes vs saying no
Habits for Wellbeing shares some insight on where they come from and why they are so easy to believe.
Ed & Deb Shapiro The Way Ahead
Claire Hodgson gives us 5 Tips to Help You Stop Being a People Pleaser
Adam Sicinski, Lifetime Achiever gives us, The Value of Saying Yes More Often to Life’s Opportunities

 

Is Anyone In There? Waking Up The Brain

Is Anyone In There? Waking Up The Brain

March 3, 2020

Are you tired of being on auto-pilot? Are you at that point in your life where you are craving more? Are you feeling short-changed worried that this is it? Whatever your reason it may be time to shake it up a bit and wake up your brain. Now, I’m going to start this show with a huge disclaimer, I AM NOT A BRAIN EXPERT or a Dr of any kind. I haven’t suffered and been healed from a traumatic brain injury or can even claim to have lost and or found my mind….at least not technically. But I do want more. I’m craving a challenge and control over my life. I believe we have the power to affect change in ourselves and others if we take action. The only way to do that is to break down where you are, make a plan for what you want, do the homework, and take action!

Is anyone in there? Do you feel like you are just going through the motions of life being led around by one demand after another? Hoping to get off this crazy merry-go-round but then what is the alternative? Guess I will just keep drudging forward letting life dictate what happens next. You work your whole life and then at some point you get a chance and rest and do nothing. Doesn’t that sound great? Doing nothing? 

NO THANK YOU - “knock-knock” is anyone in there? You are in control of your own destiny, wake up and grab the wheel! Oh boy, if your brain has gone to sleep and handed over the controls to fate then it’s time to hit the off switch instead of snooze over and over. 

For me, it’s more of channeling my energy in another direction. My brain is definitely awake and always conjuring up new ideas for myself and everyone else I meet. Sometimes I would like to just switch it off for a bit which is why I’ve become rather fond of cooking and baking competitions HA. It’s not necessarily to learn something new although I do have a better idea of what makes a good sponge or when a bearnaise sauce is appropriate but really, it’s to distract my mind. 

 

So how can we continually challenge our brains? I for one am not going down without a fight! It sounds like to me brain exercise is just as, if not more, important than physical exercise and eating healthy. I’m going to think of it as a trifecta for health and wellness. 

What about a mind that is spinning out of control - instead of autopilot, it’s been hijacked by doom and gloom, shame, guilt, and anxiety. How do you put a stick in the spoke and regain control? Because I’m a visual-learning who relies on storytelling and pictures to get my point across - AND because I’ve already confessed to my lack of neurological credentials, I’m going to refer to the brain as a series of rooms. 

I have used the Life Model over and over to explain the regions of the brain. 

Level 1 – The coal room

Our personal reality and attachment are created on the ground floor of the control center. Our brains pick who and what is important to us through structures including the thalamus and basal ganglion. One part of this network, called the nucleus accumbens, is the brain’s pleasure and pain center. This nucleus contributes strongly to addictions, sexuality and most importantly, our attachment to those we love.  The attachment level is sometimes called the “deep limbic system” and lights up when we want to bond with others. If we do not receive a response in return we feel pained, rejected, unloved, abandoned, jilted, dumped, alone or unwanted. The attachment level probably inspires more songs, stories, movies, relationships, and crimes than any other structure.

Level 2 – The Basement

Once something or someone has gotten the attention of level one, the information is passed along to the guard shack at level two for a security screening. This level, called the amygdala, has three opinions: good, bad or scary. These opinions are entirely subjective and permanent once they are formed. This level soon has opinions about chocolate, loud noises, elevators, airplanes, angry faces, dogs and almost all of life. Anyone who has tried to battle the opinions by level two about heights, airplanes or cocaine knows how unchanging these views actually are in spite of all evidence and persuasion.

Level 3 – The Den

This structure, on the third floor of the brain, provides us with our mutual-mind experiences with other people. Because we can share something of what others experience, we can become human, form relationships, interact predictably, synchronize our internal rhythms with life around us, and understand what it means to be ourselves. The cingulate cortex is the first level of the control center to have a will and conscious experience. As a result of being cortex, the cingulate can learn how to adapt to others. Because it has a curved shape something like a banana, we have begun to call it the “mental banana.” Training level three to have mutual-mind experiences with others that are accurate and still cover a full range of feelings is what helps us become fully alive and human. 

Level 4 – The Foyer

The right orbital prefrontal cortex (PFC) on the top floor of the control center has executive control over the rest of the brain when properly developed. This PFC spot thinks of itself as “me” and runs the brain when under stress. When trained, it has the capacity to quiet the basement, direct our moral choices, be creative, think flexibly and even influence such delicate functions as our immune system. When the person is strong enough, and the three floors below them have sufficient capacity, the mind can resist becoming traumatized when things go badly and maintain a strong, positive and determined identity. 

A perfect mix of technical and imagery. I use these levels to work with people in recovery as a way to understand why sometimes they make rash decisions and have problems with obsessing and ruminating. It’s easy for them to get stuck on a hamster wheel in the basement of the brain.  When you are there it’s hard for you to see the silver lining, be open to new ideas and suggestions, put yourself in other’s shoes, and to see a brighter outcome. Through mindfulness and experiencing joy, they can start climbing the stairs to the other regions of the brain. When they reach the foyer, they can start rationalizing good from bad, what consequences they and those they love might suffer, new opportunities to be had, and a better outcome. 

Here are some of the strategies we use to stop obsessing:

  • Finding your happy place - through journaling, recall 1-3 happy memories where you felt powerful, loved, in control, productive, respected, validated, or honored. Add detail to your story such as what the day was like, how you felt, who else participated etc. The more details the better because when you are in the basement, reaching your happy place will take strong visualization. With practice, you can train yourself to reach this place often when needed.
  • Visualizing the person you want to be - It’s helpful to do a current and future and to separate the two.  You can name them differently or just refer to them as HE/SHE and give them an identity. How do you feel about them? Verbalize your disappointment and call out characteristics that you aren’t proud of. Then visualize YOU in the future - what do you look like, what are you doing, how do you feel. You might even notice bright colors or feel the warmth of acceptance. It can be very powerful.
  • STOP Method to reduce anxiety - this involves stopping what you are doing, taking in a big breath and waiting 5 seconds, noticing how you are feeling in the situation, and then making a plan for your next move. This gives you time to respond instead of just reacting to a challenging situation. When you are in the basement of the brain it’s easy to rely on knee-jerk reactions instead of an educated and rational decision. Giving yourself space in everything you do will give you time for self-care. 

Getting control of your thinking means waking up all the regions so you can be transported back to the present and harness your control over critical thinking and problem-solving. Waking up the brain means we aren’t leaving things to chance and we aren’t going to accept the same thoughts day after day. You want to change your circumstances, then change your way of thinking. 

Get a great idea and then your internal monologue takes over? "That will never work!" "Why do you think you are smart enough to try that?" "You better be happy with what you have and stop looking for more!" STOP! 

Ben Martin, Psy.D. a clinical psychologist wrote an article on challenging self-talk for Psych Central.

You can test, challenge and change your self-talk. You can change some of the negative aspects of your thinking by challenging the irrational parts and replacing them with more reasonable thoughts.

There are four main types of challenging questions to ask yourself:

  1. Reality testing
  • What is my evidence for and against my thinking?
  • Are my thoughts factual, or are they just my interpretations?
  • Am I jumping to negative conclusions?
  • How can I find out if my thoughts are actually true?
  1. Look for alternative explanations
  • Are there any other ways that I could look at this situation?
  • What else could this mean?
  • If I were being positive, how would I perceive this situation?
  1. Putting it in perspective
  • Is this situation as bad as I am making out to be?
  • What is the worst thing that could happen? How likely is it?
  • What is the best thing that could happen?
  • What is most likely to happen?
  • Is there anything good about this situation?
  • Will this matter in five years’ time?
  • When you feel anxious, depressed or stressed-out your self-talk is likely to become extreme, you’ll be more likely to expect the worst and focus on the most negative aspects of your situation. So, it’s helpful to try and put things into their proper perspective.
  1. Using goal-directed thinking
  • Is thinking this way helping me to feel good or to achieve my goals?
  • What can I do that will help me solve the problem?
  • Is there something I can learn from this situation, to help me do it better next time?

You can conquer your negative self-talk today by challenging yourself with these questions every time you catch yourself thinking something negative to yourself.

Ready for a wake-up call?

CHALLENGE: Wake up your brain with new ideas and challenging activities that help you connect with others, share your experiences, and grow in your love for life. 

 

I Know YOU Can Do It!

 

RESOURCES:

Gustavo Razzetti from The Adaptive Mind,When we live on autopilot, it feels like someone else is driving, not us.”
Victoria Woollaston, there may be a scientific answer to why we can never remember people’s names.
Harvard Health Publishing offers 6 simple steps to keep your mind sharp at any age.
Life Model explaining the regions of the brain. 
Ben Martin, Psy.D. a clinical psychologist challenging self-talk for Psych Central.

 

 

 

Reaching Out Staying Connected

Reaching Out Staying Connected

February 25, 2020

I’m talking to you, whether you are in need of reaching out or you need to be more intentional about reaching out - this show is for you. We all need each other. I would like to say now more than ever but I’m sure every generation has said the same thing. When we clung to each other for survival we were still probably feeling the pangs of distraction. But now,  in a world where independence is encouraged and even celebrated, is the time to understand the power of connections. Showing love and empathy for another human being, being able to communicate with them and share is what makes us human. Let’s not lose that. 

Many of us feel the needs of others but are fearful to reach out. “Maybe they don’t want any help, maybe they will think I’m butting-in, why do I think I have all the answers, maybe I should wait until they reach out.”

The flipside is the person needing the help thinks, “I hate to be a bother, maybe they will notice that I’m down, I know they will think I’m a loser if I ask for help or direction, why do I have to be so needy, maybe I should wait until they reach out.”

Now we’ve entered the waiting game.

Wanda Mills, 90 years old and alone wrote a note she put in her neighbor’s mailbox- “Would you consider to become my friend. I’m 90 years old — live alone and all my friends have passed away. I am so lonesome and scared. Please — I pray for someone.

We’ve all passed people sitting alone and have thought, I’m sure they want to be by themselves.

We are social creatures who constantly dream, wonder, and create. Our minds are talking all the time. But when your ideas and conversations are only shared with yourself in your own head, you may have a tendency to exaggerate and create a negative narrative that isn’t even true. According to the National Science Foundation, an average person has about 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day. Of those, 80% are negative and 95% are repetitive thoughts. Think about it, you talk to yourself in your thoughts more than you talk to anyone else. 

I would like to think they are all pep-talks and affirmations of gratitude but based on the research, that can’t be true. My guess is a combination of self-doubt, rumination over the past, and a healthy dose of assumptions mixed with worry. Does that pretty well sum it up? Who is there, in your head, to give a differing opinion or to talk you off the cliff? Who is there to give you a pep-talk and tell you everything is going to be alright? If you don’t reach out then its only YOU!

Practicing positive self-talk has to start with an awareness of your current state. How do you feel? Be honest here. It’s easy to say “things are fine”, “I like being by myself, I’m a loner”, “I don’t care what other people think or feel about me”. Even though it’s important to embrace alone time, everyone craves human connection. So it starts with letting go of the defensive shield and being real. How are you? 

Take notice of your interactions. How many do you have each week or each day? Are they meaningful or more robotic? It’s easy to go on auto-pilot with our day-to-day and miss so many opportunities to share meaningful moments with another human being. Now, look at your list. Is it possible to be a little more intentional? Go out of your way to connect with another person or make yourself open and available TO connect. 

Wanda Mills was not only alone because she lost family members and friends, but she was also alone because she didn’t reach out. People passed her by assuming she didn’t want to be bothered. Are you eating lunch in the corner with your nose buried in a book or your digital device and then wonder why the “gang” doesn’t invite you to coffee or happy hour. Are you taking lunch in your car and wondering why your co-workers don’t see how in pain you are? 

Life is passing us by at a rapid rate. People are pulled in a bazillion directions and everyone is struggling with something. You can’t, and I repeat, can’t assume people, even family members, know that you are hurting. You have to open the door to help. 

To prime the door, you need to get comfortable with just “meeting” people. It’s hard to ask for help when there is no one to ask. Has your social circle shrunk over time…..life gets busy, you move around, change jobs, dissolve relationships, hyper-focused on children, not comfortable anymore mixing & mingling in the bar scene? All of a sudden you look up and here you are with limited acquaintances and just a few friends. 

It might be time to exercise your social muscle and push yourself out there a little more. 

Make social exercise a part of your weekly routine. Join a gym but before you stick the headphones in, say hi to a few members. Join a book club - you are exercising your mind and you have a built-in conversation, the book. Want to get outside, join a hiking or biking club. Find something you are interested in and then explore where those people engage in what they like. 

The idea is to realize you have the power to change your circumstances today. It’s up to you to harness that power and channel it in the right direction. How can you make a difference? Where can you notice a need for connection?

CHALLENGE: Notice the world around you and those who are suffering. Make it your mission to connect and offer encouragement, guidance, and friendship. Plug into what truly matters and share your light. 

 

I Know YOU Can Do It!

Staying Focused on What Matters

Staying Focused on What Matters

February 18, 2020

In this fast-paced sea of distraction, we call life, staying focused on what truly matters can be a daily grind. Grind you say? Yes, grind, if you give what truly matters the same level of priority as you do every other mind-numbing activity and task that you feel responsible for. Even what truly matters can seem like a drudge. Are you busy? Why? Have you ever asked yourself that question? Why today, when we have so many time-saving apps, gadgets, processes, and programs do we feel more overwhelmed than ever before? I bet, if we take a deeper look and challenge our current lifestyles we will find a lot of waste and a chance to make things more meaningful.

This is a subject that truly speaks to my heart. Encouragementology is the practice of instilling hope. I created this idea and trademarked the name to make it stand out and I practice it daily to make it real. It’s important to me to connect with people and pursue my mission of helping others connect and receive the benefits of group dynamics. 

I have been leading support-style groups for over two years. It wasn’t my first intention. At the time I was creating a way to help women get back in the workforce. I have been a professional person my whole career and knew I had the skills to create resumes, help with interview strategies, attire, motivation, and so on. I collected donations to build a professional women’s closet and I scheduled my first workshop. 

That event and that day really set the tone for everything I’ve done to date. As I was taking one of the ladies home that night she got out of my car, turned to me and said, “thank you for making me feel so good about myself today”. That statement opened my eyes. What truly mattered was encouragement.  Until that point, I thought I was giving them something they needed like technical help, knowledge, tangible resources, etc. But it was far more than that. We, myself and my volunteers took the time and poured into them what they needed, encouragement. They needed to know they were capable and that someone believed in them before anything else made sense. 

We talk a lot about self-motivation, keep calm & carry on, just do it! But first, you have to be encouraged to believe that any of that is possible. 

I wanted more. There must be other workshops to reach more people so I created Women Connect. The original intention of this group was to get women together to talk and see what else they might want to know or have help with. That first meeting we had 18 women and what I found was another revelation, they didn’t want anything, just a chance to get together and share with each other. Women Connect in itself is what they wanted. That was over two years ago and we still meet every other Tuesday like clockwork. Each meeting I create a through-provoking topic, deliver some ideas and then everyone has a chance to share. We don’t talk about the weather or politics or anything else that you might share on the surface. We share our goals, dreams, challenges, failures, and successes. When you are a part of something you feel a part of something with a purpose. This group is there for each other and even though everyone goes back to their own lives and careers during the rest of the week, you know you are a part of something deeper, a support system who genuinely cares. 

I tell you all this not to toot my horn for such a great idea but to say connections are what matter. Not how many Facebook friends you have or twitter followers, but real-life connections. Your family, true friends, the people you encounter, your co-workers who you spend almost every waking hour with, your neighbors who boarder your daily life, the grocery store clerk who you’ve seen twice a week for a decade. These people all matter and you have an opportunity to reach them in a unique way. Just talk to them. Nurture your human connections and communication. Make it a priority.

Back in the day (I realize that term is so subjective but that’s part of the fun) we used to visit people. We would clean up the kids, bake a pie, load up in the wagon or car (whichever) and go visit someone for a day. The kids would play, we would catch-up on life, share stories, have plenty of laughter and after a good long visit, we would go home. 

Then the phone was invented and we started viewing “staying in contact” a little differently. We called to check-up on a regular basis. Birthday calls, holiday calls, good wishes, sympathy, etc. We were missing so many of these important calls we created an answering machine to catch them. 

Then we developed texting. Quicker communication that was less invasive. We went from catch-up to a check-up to a check-in. These messages used to be limited to 140 characters but that wasn’t long enough to express our true sentimental or aggressive meaning so now they are unlimited. To add more life and emotion to our string of acronyms, we developed emoticons and loosened our constraints on punctuation.  Today a 140 character text message would feel like morse code. 

My goal here is not to bash technology. I’ve worked remotely for my company for the last 6 years and couldn’t do what I do daily without technology. I have kept up with people I went to school with, worked with, and met while on vacation. I’ve shared ideas, important moments, support, and laughter that would have never reached as far. With all the positive, I’ve witnessed negative. I’m continually looking for the quick and the easy, I get annoyed when something takes a fraction longer, I skim instead of reading, I can’t stay focused on one thing for too long, I’m nosey worrying what others are up to, and I buy into this illusion that I’m SO BUSY. 

I realize aspects of technology save me time, help me stay connected on the fly, and provide an endless data bank of information. I also know that technology distracts me, eliminates the need for critical thinking and problem solving, and makes me lazy. If it weren’t for auto-correct my emails would look like a third-grader sent them. I can feel my brain rushing through, knowing that spellcheck will pick it up if I can just get close enough. 

Enough! A better camera and a faster network are not going to solve this, it’s only going to make it worse. How fast is fast enough? Isn’t life already zooming by at unimaginable speeds? How clearly do you need your selfie, you already have every possible filter invented? Enough is enough. We can’t accept this behavior and our impatience as normal or we lower the bar beyond recognition. How much lower can it go? I for one, don’t care to know. 

You have the power to make a significant impact on the world every day if you step outside of yourself and look around. Every day we transfer our energy to those we come in contact with. This doesn’t happen through technology but out in the real world when you look at another human being, when you smile, and when you talk. Just as you can transfer energy, you can absorb energy. 

What kind of energy do you want to share and receive? You wake up late, frustrated by your schedule and things that were left undone yesterday. You turn on the news or worse, scroll your social feeds and let yourself sink into a sea of negativity which just adds to your increasingly horrible mood. Now you go out and meet your first person, what do you think that energy attack will look like? They might have been one of those few who look for gratitude first thing and now they are infected with your negative energy. 

Or…….you wake up with optimism ready to embrace the day. A new day full of new possibilities! You think about all the things you GET to experience today and it helps to fuel your positive energy. You avoid being pulled into gossip and negative opinions all the while harnessing your power. Your first encounter will look much different than the aforementioned. Your intentional and happy to connect. Your positive energy washes over them and no matter where they are in their day and how they feel, they are impacted in a positive way. You’ve changed the trajectory of their day. Now they have the opportunity to pass it on, and so on, and so on. 

CHALLENGE: Push back when life seems out of control and lean-in to human connections. Make time for what truly matters in your life, nurture your relationships, and create space to enjoy the world around you. 

 

I Know YOU Can Do It!

 

RESOURCES

Technology Facts and Stats from Orleans Marketing

Doreen Dodgen-Magee wrote an article about the effects of technology addiction in the Washingon Post. 

 Hard-Hitting Nature Valley Ad Shows The Terrifying Side Of Kids Addicted To Technology? 

Emily Drago published a study on the Effects of Technology on Face-to-Face Communication. 

 

The Right Recipe, Patience & Persistence

The Right Recipe, Patience & Persistence

February 11, 2020

How can you slow down and let things come to you yet maintain a level of persistence and not give up? It’s a great challenge for all of us and who doesn’t like a challenge? What end of this scale do you struggle with most? Is it different depending on the situation? Let’s test ourselves and see where things get a bit lopsided. Remember, you’re in charge of the way you proceed, the pace & timing as well as the tenacity and grit. Let's find the right recipe for patience & persistence. 

Someone once told me I was politely persistent instead of pushy. It might have been one of the nicest descriptions for my efforts. I’ve been in sales virtually my whole life so professionally, I always walk that line. There are outcomes and expectations set for me every year, every quarter, every month. Persistence is a must and patience hard to practice. I feel like politely persistent was a clever way of letting me know that I had found that balance. Professionally, check but personally it’s something I struggle with daily. 

For me, the scale is always tipped to persistence. I’m very goal-driven and always willing to put in the work to make things happen and NOW. But the return on investment can be a waiting game and that’s where I fall short. The minute something doesn’t meet my expectations and proposed timeline, I start to self-doubt. Was this really a good idea? Maybe I rushed the process? Maybe it’s not going to work? 

The keywords here are “my expectations”.  I’m disappointed and doubting my ideas and myself because I couldn’t meet my own expectations. Obviously there is a nugget in there that is begging to be explored but let’s build a visual here. If the scale is tipped and the patience is on the ground where is the persistence? It should be all the way at the top but that isn’t indicative of human nature. When self-doubt creeps in and everything comes to a halt. Instead of pushing harder we drop everything and walk away chalking it up to a bad idea or worse, a measurement of our own effort and worth. 

How many times have you hit some resistance and bailed on your idea? How many critics does it take to make you go another way?

Self-confidence is the confidence in your own abilities. You want to know how to do something, you research, learn, practice, and do. You do it over and over with success and now you have confidence in your ability to do that well. You are self-confident when it comes to that. 

Self-esteem is the cognitive and emotional appraisal of your own worth. Your self-esteem is directly tied to the way you think, feel, and act. It also determines your relationship with yourself and others. 

When I hit a snag and am plagued with a moment of self-doubt I try and stop myself from allowing the worse case scenarios from taking over. Doesn’t that always happen? It’s like a movie playing out. Something doesn’t work as you planned or expected and you start questioning every other aspect. And if it stopped at questioning we’d be ok. We don’t have all the answers at this point so, in a normal scenario, the questions would be left unanswered. But that isn’t good enough, we have to play it out.  ..."Then this will happen and then I’m SURE this will happen, and then that certainly won’t so I will lose everything!" Whoa - reel it in and deal with one obstacle at a time. 

Part of your plan should include space to handle setbacks. When your timeline is so aggressive and rigid that one NO will throw the whole thing off, you need to add in some wiggle room. During this time you can evaluate your current plan and decide if it’s just a waiting game or you need to re-engineer your approach. You might need to abort it all together and go to Plan B but without time and space and the mental safety net, you might hit the ground hard and give up. 

Plan B isn’t going into the journey lacking self-confidence. It’s respecting your vision and fueling your persistence. Why go back to the drawing board? That seems like starting completely over. How about a change of plans - fully thought out plans. This may help keep your self-confidence intact to get you over the hump. 

Practicing patience can get you through the long stretches of space. The waiting game. You have a great idea, you’ve done the necessary research and planning, all the i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed but why isn’t anyone as excited about this as you are? What about the plan that has 10 steps but between 4-5 there is a huge gap of unforeseen waiting? Not in your control but yet, you’re waiting. How do you keep your spirits high and soldier on?

Every one of us wants to hit it out of the park on the first swing. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t have gotten up to bat. No one starts out on the journey to a life goal wanting to hit adversity, miss milestones, and plan for failure. We want to win! 

But taking a step back and gaining a new advantage, might help you see that it’s all part of your life’s plan. Yesterday I was thinking, WOW time is going so quickly! Weeks are flying by which means a year’s end comes before you know it. Someone once said to me, “time must pass quickly for you” - it made me stop and think. What she meant was my life was so full of goals and projects that I never set idle and she was right. 

Before I started this topic I told myself that I needed to slow down. I am so focused on timelines and what I have coming up that I’m missing where I am. I don’t want life to pass me by being proud that I hit a milestone with accuracy. I want to enjoy each moment it takes to get there. To do this will require adjusting the timeline and being a little easier on myself. 

I think we’ve found the right recipe and are ready to concoct a successful plan! Each idea plays a critical part in us being triumphant. Without a healthy self-concept, this journey will be difficult if at even started. Take time to build a solid plan based on research and the necessary steps to reach each milestone. Build-in space to wait and to listen. Your timing rarely works so don’t get distracted in the silence. Have a Plan B and don’t be afraid to use it. 

Enjoy the ride. Don’t be so focused on the end goal that you miss new opportunities and overlook what you have now. 

Time is too precious and the only thing we don’t have enough of. Don’t be so hyperfocused on getting ahead that you miss the truly amazing moments that happen every day.  

I have an app on my watch that reminds me to breathe - I had one that reminded me to stand up and I already turned that one, off. I also have a sign on my bulletin board that says “drink more water.” I do wish I would look at that one more often. I think I will add one that says “look around”. Sometimes I get so focused on my work that I forget to look up and look around, notice the day, and look outside. This is going to be the start. Just, notice the day. 

CHALLENGE: Find a healthy balance. Take an inventory to find where you are depleted or coming up short and tip the scales. Persistence only works when you feel confident in your plan and satisfied in yourself. 

 

I Know YOU Can Do It!

 

Resources:

Fast Company: 7 Habits of Highly Persistent People

Dr. Neel Burton

Adam Sicinski founder of IQ Matrix

Ally Palmer on Tiny Buddha

 

 

Cracking the Code, 4 Agreements

Cracking the Code, 4 Agreements

February 4, 2020

Could there really be a code to help us figure this whole thing out? Could we really boil it all down to a few easy steps? Sometimes life blindfolds you, spins you around and hands you a bat. You spend your life whacking away just trying to make it through. But what if there was a key that would unlock a different perspective? Sometimes all it takes is a shift in our thinking and everything looks different. Could it be that simple?

So where did everything start to get cloudy, off-kilter and overly complicated?  Can you pinpoint the day that 2 and 2 no longer made 4 but because your thoughts were so deeply rooted in your own belief system, you accepted the answer, right or wrong? It’s hard to land on that very day in our domestication where things just didn’t add up. 

You were born perfectly happy, without judgment or bias. As you started to grow, your thoughts, opinions, goals, expectations, and fears were created for you. Your caregivers began to program you with what they knew at that time. They decided what you needed when you were upset, created a reward and denial system to help you understand right from wrong, built your boundaries to help protect you, and taught you how to find love & appreciation while avoiding judgment and rejection. Or at least that was the goal.  Don’t touch, that’s hot, get down you might fall, stop running you might get hurt, don’t talk to strangers, be kind to the elderly, stand up for yourself, turn the other cheek and so on. If I hit someone, I get punished, so hitting people must be bad. If I say “please” and “thank you”, I get rewarded. So, being polite must be good.

They also programmed our goals based on social norms. You must get good grades to get into college, you have to go to college to get a good job, you need a good job to find a good partner and get married, you need to have a stable income to have a home, you need a good home to start a family…

As little children, our true nature was to love and be happy, to explore and enjoy life; we were completely authentic. But then we learned to be what others thought we “should” be, and because it’s not okay for us to be what we are, we start pretending to be what we are not. By the time we are teenagers, we’ve learned to judge ourselves, punish ourselves, and reward ourselves according to agreements that we never even chose. 

We are now stuck and limited by those beliefs. We’ve made an agreement to believe and protect these ideas at all costs. 

how we got here so how can we crack this code and make happiness a reality? How can we get back to that fun-loving child you know the one….the one who thought everything was possible? We have to adopt a new way of thinking and make some new agreements with ourselves.

I recently read and or listened to a book by Don Miguel Ruiz called The Four Agreements and found myself in an AH-HA moment. I have always said you learn by trial and tribulation or by an awakening. Obviously, awakening is much more fun but generally happens later in life. Its often followed by statements like, “Man, I wish I would have learned that earlier” or “Why in the world did it take me so long to get here?”. See most of the time, an awakening is a simple twist on perspective that challenges everything you knew to be true and sheds light on a new way of thinking.

I’ve decided that I need to read more thought-provoking books. I have limited free time so I don’t have the pull to get lost in fiction but would like to spend that time challenging myself with some new ideas. I’ve been a subscriber to Audible for some time and was attempting to work through some big books. All the while my credits were adding up. Now, Audible is great - it’s fun to hear from the actual author in some cases and in others they add musical elements and sound effects to bring the books to life. Lately, I’ve been craving the written word. My eyes have been in “scanning mode” for almost two decades and it’s starting to wear on my ability to concentrate so I decided, touching a book and stringing sentences together was important.

Before I canceled my Audible subscription to make the leap to print, I loaded up my library with my leftover credits. During this self-help grab, I ran across The Four Agreements. I have referenced Don Miguel Ruiz plenty of times and thought this would be a chance to dig a little deeper into his work. The audiobook is a little over 2 hours and the printed book is 138 pages. A testimony to this simplified perspective.

Everything we do is based on agreements we have made - agreements with ourselves, with other people, with God, with life. But the most important agreements are the ones we make with ourselves.

The Four Agreements are:
Be Impeccable With Your Word.
Don't Take Anything Personally.
Don't Make Assumptions.
Always Do Your Best.

Be Impeccable With Your Word.

You have the power to create love and to spread love through your words, your actions, and your energy. In a world where you may feel weak and helpless to bring about change, remember this power. That power can be used for good and it can just as easily be used for bad by sending out hate, judgment, and negative energy. 

Think about how easy it is to get pulled into a gossiping situation, judging others, and making assumptions that support your claims. You have the power to walk away and not participate, protecting yourself and rejecting negativity. 

Don’t Take Anything Personally

As a people pleaser, I find this much harder than it sounds. I take everything personally because I feel directly responsible for other people’s comfort and happiness. Now I’ve worked through a lot of this with a considerable amount of research and practice but it is still a knee-jerk reaction. Someone is in a bad mood and my mind wants to go to “what did I do?”. Someone doesn’t show me the amount of attention I feel I deserve or want and I think “What did I do?”. It sounds ridiculous to think that I’m in that kind of control or that everyone’s problems had to have something to do with me. 

When I heard this agreement I imagined myself floating over a scene looking down and watching it all play out. I think it was my way of pulling myself out of the direct line of fire and getting a more global view. It really helped. It also helps me to imagine everyone as an adult with the same set of life skills that I have. Everyone is capable of living their life, and good or bad, making their own decisions and guess what, it doesn’t directly affect me. I’m living my life too. 

Remember growing up hearing: I'm rubber you're glue, your words bounce off me and stick to you.

Oh if it were that easy. Getting back to that level of disregard starts with a healthy self-concept and self-love which can be found in agreement #1. Being kind to yourself and getting back to our true nature; to love and be happy, to explore and enjoy life; being completely authentic. When we have high regard for ourselves it’s easier to cast off negative attacks and not take things personally.

Don't Make Assumptions.

Not taking anything personally gives you immunity in the interaction that you have with other people, and not making assumptions gives you immunity in the interaction that you have with yourself, with your voice of knowledge, or what we call thinking.

How many times have you started a story and then you end that story with your own assumptions of what “probably happened” or “could have happened”. Before you know it, that’s the story, right or wrong. You tell that story and then others add their assumptions and then before you know it, we aren’t even talking about a real event. 

Just as you are making those assumptions, so are others making the assumption about you. Imagine what they must be saying because they don’t have all the facts. How easily a story can be twisted in a negative way with only assumptions to go on. 

As you practice being impeccable with your word and not making assumptions - STOP the story where the facts end. I was told this one time and what an awakening. Just be ok with not knowing the end of the story. As humans, that can be a challenge. We have to have a complete story to tell. The problem is, we don’t always use the rosiest of endings. 

Always Do Your Best.

What a beautiful concept that can actually take a lot of unnecessary pressure off. Just do your best. Not sure if you’re good enough - just do your best. Worried you can’t complete the task - just do your best. Giving your best no matter how much you have to give at that moment is all you can realistically do. If you give your best, you can have peace of mind knowing you did the best you could do at that moment. What a freeing feeling. I have always used this philosophy when talking about failure. If you did your best and you still failed then you can walk away knowing you did everything possible. If you didn’t give your best, then you left the door open for self-doubt. 

In this fast-paced world where the perception is bigger, better, faster, stronger - it’s easy to buy into the unrealistic pursuit of perfection. I hear it all the time, “I’m hard on myself because I want everything to be perfect.” “I’m not satisfied until it’s perfect.”

What if you just had to do your best. Not feeling it today? Just do your best. Not sure you know much about it? Just do your best. If you just do your best, there is no way you can judge yourself. And if you don’t judge yourself there is no way you are going to suffer from guilt, blame, and self-punishment.

If you have done your best and your inner Judge tries to judge you, you’ve got the answer: “I did my best.” There are no regrets. That is why we always do our best. It is not an easy agreement to keep, but this agreement is really going to set you free.

CHALLENGE: Revisit ideas and beliefs that may no longer serve you. Challenge their place and purpose in your life. Sometimes a slight shift of perspective can open up a new world where peace and happiness are in reach. 

I Know YOU Can Do It!

 

Feeling Successful, Creating A New Definition

Feeling Successful, Creating A New Definition

January 28, 2020

Whether you are hitting it out of the park or barely getting off the bench, this is the show for you. Webster defines success as, accomplishing an aim or purpose. Setting a goal and hitting a target. But what if you could feel successful in your everyday? Just living and breathing and having that feeling of success. Sounds ominous and over the rainbow but, what if? Would you search a little longer for that feeling? Go a little deeper to experience that on a daily basis? I think we need to redefine successful and look at ourselves in a new light.

So, how are you feeling today? Did you wake up on top of the world? The alarm goes off and you popped out of bed, “creator of your own destiny!” Onward and upward. Wouldn’t that be great? First of all to pop out of bed when the alarm goes off, forget all about the destiny stuff for a minute. Are any of us that eager to start the morning? That’s on the to-do, work on popping out of bed. 

Or does your morning look a little different? SNOOZE, snooze again, yet again. COFFEE...no talking….more COFFEE. UGH, the list is already a mile long with all the things I failed to accomplish yesterday. How will I ever feel successful when I can’t seem to accomplish anything?!?

WOW ok, if your morning looks like that, we need a redefinition STAT! 

Let’s start with expectations and potentially, unrealistic ones. 

Alexander Pope said: “Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.” 

Have you ever wondered why we set our expectations too high?  It’s great to challenge yourself and push yourself out of your comfort zone but what do we expect a big payoff every time?  Sometimes the expectations we have for ourselves were actually created by someone else.

Your parents expected you to sit up straight, be home early, get good grades, be quiet, clean your room, clean your plate, find a good partner, settle down, have a family, contribute to society, ….already I’m exhausted and those aren’t even my own! What happens when we pile all of ours on top? No wonder life can feel overwhelming and we can’t seem to get anything accomplished. 

What if we let go of all the expectations we’ve been drowning in and swim back to shore free from them all? What if we started over and created our own set of expectations specifically for us right now. How would they look? 

  • I expect to get enough sleep to re-energize my body and renew my mind
  • I expect kind words from myself and those around me
  • I expect challenges and will accept the outcome knowing I tried my hardest
  • I expect nothing but what I have to give at that moment
  • I expect to be loved and will start by loving myself

If we created our own expectations in this manner the feeling of success would come much easier because we are setting ourselves up for success instead of failure. 

Ok, you’ve done it, you‘ve accomplished your goal, you’ve hit your target now what? Why can we do everything right and yet we still don’t feel successful? What’s missing?  The feeling. 

When goals are expectations set by someone else or society in general then we don’t have an emotional connection to them and the feeling we are looking for won’t be as strong if even felt at all. We need to feel something for what we are trying to do or we won’t feel anything at all. 

Remember the swim back to shore and the re-engineering for expectations? It’s time to do the same before you take aim. Make sure where you are going is where you want to go so when you get there you can experience that feeling.  Life can’t just be one drudge after another always moving the carrot further away. Sometimes you are sprinting, sometimes walking, sometimes you are on your hands and knees crawling. 

Are you waiting for retirement before the fun begins? Did you buy into the concept of working your entire life, scrimping and saving so that you could do whatever you wanted to do?  Is that success? My visual of that is dragging my beat up and broken self across some fictitious finish line only to collapse on the other side.

What if…..you could have successful events and mini celebrations along the way? What if you could retire while you’re still working for what you want. 

Christopher D. Connors from Medium says it may actually improve our lives. Love what you do. Live for what you do. Pour your heart, soul and all you’ve got into it. But for goodness sake, celebrate yourself when it’s merited and deserved.

But by all means, celebrate what you’ve accomplished. Don’t get self-conscious. Don’t get into the whole false-humility thing. Celebrate yourself when you’ve done something great.

CHALLENGE: Celebrate YOU. Not for all your goals accomplished but for the fact that you are here, giving it all you got! Redefine success and find gratitude in the journey, not just the destination.

I Know YOU Can Do It!

What Are You Waiting For?

What Are You Waiting For?

January 21, 2020

What are you waiting for? How many times have you asked yourself that question, frustrated by your lack of motivation, unclear vision, or blatant self-sabotage? It’s easy to bury your head in the sand and wait for that “special delivery” you know the one - the awesome opportunity that just falls in your lap? Still, waiting huh? Maybe your awesome opportunity was gobbled up by someone who was tracking down the driver instead of waiting for the doorbell to ring? Better yet, be the inventor, the designer, the production, and the deliverer of your own destiny.

So what is it going to take to make someday, today? We can make excuses all day long and justify every failed attempted but let’s be real, what are you waiting for? It’s important to be honest with yourself, peel back the excuses and get to the root of the problem. If you want to go somewhere, anywhere, but can’t seem to take the first step, guess what, next year you will still be here. RIGHT HERE, in this exact same spot. It doesn’t happen unless you make it happen. 

Oh sure, sometimes you stumble on an amazing opportunity, a gift really. However, if you don’t snag it, POOF, it’s gone. It still takes you.  With your head down singing the “Whoa is me” theme song you run a real risk of not even seeing the opportunity. So let’s not wait one second longer. And just in case you are waiting to see what’s at the end of that rainbow? Newsflash, you will never reach the end of the rainbow for two reasons. The first is because it’s an optical effect, it moves as you move and so you can never reach the bottom. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, a rainbow is really a circle, it’s just that we only see half of it.

What’s your favorite objection? Come on, let’s be honest - what do you say the gives you justification for NOT NOW, MAYBE LATER? That’s right we all have them. I’ve got my go-to’s for the gym, eating healthy, cleaning out my closet etc. Before we can overcome these objections we have to understand why we are self-sabotaging in the first place. 

Ready to get out of your own way? Sometimes WE’RE the ones making everything so difficult. You get an idea of something you want to do and seconds later, you’ve talked yourself out of it. Self-doubt is a powerful critic and given the chance, it will zap your confidence and make you regret even having a dream. Where does it come from and how can we make it stop? Just like self-sabotaging, you have to recognize you are doing it to put a stop to it. Self-doubt can be deeply rooted so don’t think you can catch it and squash it overnight. But if you want to finally get over the hump and on your way to realizing your goals, you have to take it seriously. 

At one point or another, we will all find ourselves experiencing some sort of self-doubt; it’s part of being human. 

It’s easy to recognize your faults. Instead of positive daily affirmations, I’m sure your mantra sounds more like; You need to exercise, you’re lazy, you’re getting fat, look at those wrinkles, you don’t have anything cool to wear, you don’t know enough to add to the conversation, you should keep your mouth shut, you can’t do that, you’re too slow, you’re not smart enough. STOP! 

Why not start with ONE thing you truly value about yourself. Go deeper than something monetary or a physical attribute. Something about your moral character. Understanding your worth will go along way in giving you the confidence to go for it. 

Here are some of mine:

  • I love that I’m fearless - not with skydiving or snake charming but imagining anything is possible
  • I love that I believe everyone likes me - it makes it so easy to approach anyone with a smile. 
  • I love that my mind is always inventing
  • I love that I see the good in people first

CHALLENGE: Ask yourself the question and respond with honesty, “What are you waiting for?”. Take the time to peel back the excuses to find the underlying reason you haven’t gone for it! Make someday, today and make a radical move forward. 

 

I Know YOU Can Do It!