Archive: Newsletter

Turning off the negative, turning on the positive

Isn’t it amazing how, in a room of 200, I’ll focus on that one person in the third row at the left who is clearly bored with what I’m saying. Marie Forleo talks about this in a recent broadcast. It isn’t only me, it’s a wired-in trait of humans in general called Negativity Bias.

Negativity Bias, according to Wikipedia, refers to the idea that even with things of equal intensity, those that are negative will impact us more than those that are positive.  The theory is that noticing the negative is a survival trait that helps us attend to anything potentially life-threatening.  It makes sense to me. That that guy in the third row isn’t threatening my life; it just seems like it to my fragile sense of self.
There’s a lot of good advice in googleland dealing with the impact of negative bias. Here are three that work – every time – for me:

  • Switch your focus.  When you notice you’re focusing on that one person, deliberately search out another person who is engaged with you. Not an easy thing to do, especially given our brains are wired to not do this.  But that doesn’t mean we can’t override the wired-in. By understanding what’s happening, we can inject a little distance between our perception of the event and our response. Even if we don’t achieve a full turn-around, we can at least lessen the bad feeling. It takes work to see the upside when you’ve seen the downside, but you can do it; and the more you do it the more habitual this becomes.
  • Practice positive self-talk. It may be that you really misread your audience, or you suddenly feel ill and need to finish.  It may be one of those days where everything goes wrong, and you really do suck. We all have days and times like that. If this happens to you, first of all, know that you’re not alone. And then become your own positive audience: this is the best you can do right now. Then take yourself out for a soothing tea and desert afterwards, celebrating the challenging occasion.  After all, what’s the alternative?  Slinking to a dark corner and licking your wounds? Accept the situation for what it is, and more on.
  • Learn from it.  The reason we have this automatic response that makes the negative focal is to make our world safer. So use it: if you can, find out if the person you thought was bored with you would be interested in sharing what was going on for them.  This is something that requires tact and thoughtfulness on your part. After all, he doesn’t have to say anything – it’s to your benefit if he does. You might even discover that his response was different from what you were thinking, creating an opening for a genuine and contactful conversation.

Now I’d love to hear from you about your own experiences, knowledge, opinions.  In the comments below, share one thing that you experienced as a mirror moment that changed your day, or even your life.

This newsletter is in three parts: the first part is my contribution; the second is a video I’ve found that relates to the topic in part 1; the third is a quote. I hope you enjoy the richness this brings to the topic of the week with all three parts.

Getting Stuck in the Negatives

Quote of the Week
When someone tells me ‘No’, it doesn’t mean I can’t do it, it simply means I can’t do it with them.
-Karen Miller

Announcements
At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us. I offer both one-on-one consultations and coaching packages.  For more information, visit my website www.thejoyofliving.co/services-and-programs or contact me directly at maryanne@thejoyofliving.co

3 Secrets of Success

In North America, both in the US and in Canada (and – really – the world over), earning a good living, having a house, paying for your kid’s education, saving for retirement – all the things we all thought we’d be doing when we grew up – is no longer all that attainable for over 90% of us.  It may seem like it when you look at the number of house purchases. But if you dig even a tiny bit deeper, the real cost of getting that house shows up. In Toronto, we call it being “house poor”, because every cent you make goes into paying down the mortgage. For years. In fact, mortgages are routinely generated over 25 or 30 years, because otherwise it would be impossible to hold one.  This, along with student loans and other debts, generate huge debt loads that tie us down to whatever jobs we can get. Until we’re old.

I’ve talked about this before in The Wisdom of Insecurity. It’s one of the drivers for the tiny home movement: finding ways to shed that debt load and attain the freedom to do what you truly want to do. You might dream of winning the lottery, or making it big in business, spending thousands on the few coaches who have made it big in the hope that it’ll happen for you, too.  Sadly, I suspect that mostly isn’t true.

So, what is the answer? Making it big? Or not?  Either way, the reason for wanting to try is because you – like me – probably want to live a happy and fulfilling life.

If you could have that life, with or without a lot of money – wouldn’t that feel like success?  It would for me. The older I get, the more I value my health and the health and well-being of my loved ones. The more I value living in a community of happy and contented people.  Money, as long as my basic needs are taken care of, matters less and less to me.

What is success?  According to the online dictionary, it’s the accomplishment of one’s goals.  That is a kind of success. But life success – feeling successful and happy life, is more than that: it’s accomplishing the goals that mean a lot to us.  Richard St. John in his Ted Talk (below) lists 8 secrets that he gleaned from successful people.

I believe these 8 things can be narrowed down to 3:

  1. Passion: Passion for whatever it is you’re doing means that you’ll happily do whatever it takes to get it done. Passion will get you through the mistakes, inevitable failed attempts, criticisms, and dark nights. Working at something that you’re not passionate about is work. Doing something you love is fun – not work. It may be that you’re not sure if you’re passionate enough in what you want to do right now.  That’s OK – do it until something else takes over. There is no ultimate answer to what you should pursue – only that you love doing it.
  2. Focus: You may think this is a no-brainer, but believe me, doing what you love can be terrifying. All the nay-sayers, the bills, the lost security can make it really hard to focus on what’s truly important.  When I feel stuck, it’s always because I’m sitting in fear, where there are a lot of inner voices telling me that I’m not good enough, that I’m going to fail, that this is a stupid idea.  Then I distract myself with anything else so that I don’t have to feel that terror, ultimately wasting my time on what doesn’t matter.  If this happens to you, having a friend to talk to can help. And if that isn’t an option, try this: take your worst fear – say it’s “No matter what I do, I’m going to fail” – and turn it around to something that gives your heart a lift – like “No matter what I do, I’m going to win” (because in the long run, that’s what’s going to happen).  Use this turn-around whenever you begin to feel that fear, as a way to regain your focus.
  3. Love: This may seem corny, but honestly, if your feeling of love and good will towards yourself and others doesn’t increase with what you’re doing, then it probably won’t be sustainable.  Because without this kind of love, how can there be happiness.

Having said all that, if you want the added bonus of financial success, go for it! But first, go after your heart’s desire, because without that, money isn’t going to do it.
Now I’d love to hear from you about your own experiences, knowledge, opinions.  In the comments below, share one thing that you experienced as a mirror moment that changed your day, or even your life.

This newsletter is in three parts: the first part is my contribution; the second is a video I’ve found that relates to the topic in part 1; the third is a quote. I hope you enjoy the richness this brings to the topic of the week with all three parts.

Richard St. John – 8 Secrets of Success success

Quote of the Week

Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.

– Maya Angelou

 

Announcements

At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us.  I offer both one-on-one consultations and coaching packages.  For more information, visit my website www.thejoyofliving.co/services-and-programs or contact me directly at maryanne@thejoyofliving.co

The secret to building trust and never feeling alone again

After waiting 20 minutes on the line for a customer service rep to get back to me, the line suddenly goes dead.  When I call back, and after re-stating all the preliminaries – my name, email address, phone number, and what the issue is, I end up getting bumped to someone else. After restating everything again, I’m told it isn’t something they deal with, and they end the call. I know it is something they deal with, so if I have time to do it all over again, I try another time, hoping to get someone else who is more responsive.

Have you ever experienced this?

Probably – it’s more common that anyone would like. All I really needed from that rep were words like r “That sucks, would you mind holding for a few minutes while I see what I can do?” (and then after a few minutes get back to me with an update).  I know before I call that my problem might not be fixed the way I’d like, but knowing the person at the other end is doing their best leaves me feeling that person cares, and I end up trusting that they will follow through.

Seth Godin talks about how hard it is to build trust, and how easy to destroy it:  All it takes is a moment –  a few thoughtless words, “a heartless broken promise, a lack of empathy”  – and the trust is gone.

As a therapist and coach, building trust is all-important. I go to great lengths to let my clients know that they are stepping into a safe space with me.  Without that security, there’s no way they can do their work. I also know how easy it is to break that trust with a thoughtless word or gesture.

The way to build trust – and to break it – is simple.  When I care about the person in front of me, I build trust; when I don’t care, I break it.

This holds true for the customer service rep, the owner of the local dry cleaner, the banker, our financial advisor – even the mailman.  It also holds true for our close relationships.

John Gottman steps through what makes intimate relationships either what he calls “master” or “disaster” relationships. In a relationship that works – a “master” relationship –  the two people show, in various ways, that they care for the other person.  They do this by listening, by keeping a space open for them, by being gentle in their approach. In relationships that are “disasters”, the two people show they don’t care mostly because they feel defensive and are so busy protecting themselves that they haven’t the capacity to care.

At this point, it’s interesting to see the way we relate to another as the way we relate to ourselves – that whoever is in front of us is in an important way a mirror of ourselves.  If we show contempt towards that mirror, what we’re really doing is showing contempt for ourselves.  When we care for that person in the mirror, we care for ourselves.

And so, the next time you find yourself about to yell at that neglectful customer service rep, try this: take a moment and a few deep breaths, and then mirror some genuine care for their lives. And see what happens.

Now I’d love to hear from you about your own experiences, knowledge, opinions.  In the comments below, share one thing that you experienced as a mirror moment that changed your day, or even your life.

This newsletter is in three parts: the first part is my contribution; the second is a video I’ve found that relates to the topic in part 1; the third is a quote. I hope you enjoy the richness this brings to the topic of the week with all three parts.

Simon Sinek – Why good leaders make you feel safe

building trust

Quote of the Week
When people cared about each other, they always found a way to make it work.
– Nicholas Sparks

Announcements
At times we need more – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us. I offer both one-on-one consultations and coaching packages. For more information, visit my website www.thejoyofliving.co/services-and-programs or contact me directly at maryanne@thejoyofliving.co

Trust and Small Moments

Who do you trust? And why?

Last week I went to one of the local coffee shops in my neighborhood – I do a lot of my writing in coffee shops — and discovered it had changed its business hours for the third time this summer. I was frustrated, but even more, decided not to even try to go there again. I was disappointed and even though I knew it wasn’t personal, felt a little betrayed.

A little girl tells her best friend a secret, and that friend tells another friend, who tells someone else, until the original secret comes back to the girl.  She feels embarrassed, hurt and betrayed. What would have happened if her best brined had kept her secret instead?  We all know the answer to that, because we’ve all been there:  that little girl would have felt valued.

Loosing trust with a friend is a lot more painful than losing trust with a coffee shop, but it’s the same process:  We expect a certain kind of behavior from them that is consistent with what they mean to us. We become vulnerable in our expectation, and form a bond of trust with the other as a result. That bond is broken if we feel betrayed. The trust might be broken in a big way – like a friend breaking a secret – but most often it happens in little ways.

John Gottman in his research found that trust is built in the smallest of moments. He called these moments Sliding Door moments, after a movie of that name, where the life of the main character was significantly altered based on a decision taken in a single moment.

He discovered that each of these small moments are one of two things: either a moment of trust, or a moment of betrayal. That friend has a moment to decide: will she keep a secret or tell others?  A single moment with one of 2 opposite results.

This not only applies to ourselves with others, it also applies to self-trust and self-betrayal.  In fact, every act of trust-building and betrayal we do with others, we also do with ourselves. That time you knew in your gut that something was wrong, but chose to ignore it in favor of the business connection to someone you don’t really like that might benefit you later on; or pretending not to see a friend when you see him across the street.  We betray ourselves when we don’t listen to what our gut is telling us, and then we betray our business contact through insincerity. We betray our principles when ignoring a friend, and betray our friend by lying to him through pretense.  One small moment; two big results.

So, the first step in building trust with others is to build trust with ourselves. Once we trust ourselves, the rest will simply happen.  And the way we build self-trust is in the small moments of the every day. It’s something we can train ourselves to do. Here are three things you can do right now:

  • Notice when you ignore what you know is true or real in favor of some overwhelming desire. That glazed donut you see after being hung up on by a customer service rep, for instance, when you know the sugar rush will do nothing good for your body. Even if you succumb to the lure of the donut, simply register in your awareness what just happened.
  • Take a few unscheduled moments every day to check in. Set the alarm on your phone to ring at random times, and when it rings, take a few deep breaths, and check in to see if you’re doing something that makes you feel good about yourself, or not. Think of it as a “retraining” of your whole body to learn to recognize, catch and turn around something that you would otherwise remain unaware of.
  • When you catch yourself ignoring something – it will happen – be gentle. Building self-trust takes time; it’s something that we can form as a habit, and habits always take time to build. Harsh self-criticism doesn’t help to build self-trust.  Just the opposite – it undermines your efforts.  Learn to accept that you slipped this time, see if you can catch how it happened, and then move on.

Now I’d love to hear from you about your own experiences, knowledge, opinions.  In the comments below, share one thing that you experienced as a mirror moment that changed your day, or even your life.

This newsletter is in three parts: the first part is my contribution; the second is a video I’ve found that relates to the topic in part 1; the third is a quote. I hope you enjoy the richness this brings to the topic of the week with all three parts.

Brene Brown – The Anatomy of Trust

Quote of the Week

I don’t trust people who don’t love themselves and tell me, ‘I love you.’ … There is an African saying which is: Be careful when a naked person offers you a shirt.
― Maya Angelou

Announcements

At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us.  I offer both one-on-one consultations and coaching packages.  For more information, visit my website www.thejoyofliving.co/services-and-programs or contact me directly at maryanne@thejoyofliving.co

 

If you meet Buddha on the road…

If you meet Buddha on the road, kill him.” This saying is attributed to Zen Master Linji, and I often wonder if it might be more accurate replacing the “if” with “when”. “When you meet Buddha on the road, kill him.” Because it will happen. For some of us, more than once.

If you’re like me, way more than once.

My latest encounter in a long line of encounters happened a short while ago. I was with someone I revered and thought was wiser than me – catering to the limitations of the English language, I’ll refer to this person in the feminine. This person had been up for 3 days and – it turned out – ended up being pretty much at their worst.  She was de-deified and re-humanized before my eyes; I was able to see her – really – for the first time.  I’m not saying that the real personality was who she was at her worst; only that all of us are no more than human.  And one more thing: all of us – including me – are the only real authority we will ever have as adults.

I met Buddha on the road, and I killed her.  In other words, I unconsciously gave someone else the authority that actually resides inside me, and when I realized this, I was able to take it back. Whew!  What a relief that was.

And, knowing me, I’m already wondering who the next one will be.  You see, I’m a hero worshiper, an eternal optimist, always believing there are great and wonderful people in this world. I want to meet every one of them.  The thing I forget is that I am equally a wonderful person – just as are you.
Warts and all.

Now I’d love to hear from you about your own experiences, knowledge, opinions.  In the comments below, share one thing that you experienced as a mirror moment that changed your day, or even your life.

This newsletter is in three parts: the first part is my contribution; the second is a video I’ve found that relates to the topic in part 1; the third is a quote. I hope you enjoy the richness this brings to the topic of the week with all three parts.

Pema – You already have everything you need


Quote of the Week

Don’t be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth.
― Rumi

Announcements
At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us. I offer both one-on-one consultations and coaching packages.  For more information, visit my website www.thejoyofliving.co/services-and-programs or contact me directly at maryanne@thejoyofliving.co

The fine art of letting go, and what that really means

What does it really mean to hang onto things and people and situations? We hear a lot about the virtue of letting go, but how often do you see that happen?

Not often! Because it’s a really tough thing to do. Letting go pretty much always means letting go of a belief – that something or someone is so important to us that losing it would be a disaster.  This belief may be connected to similar childhood beliefs – may even be connected to events in childhood that are still painful.  If so, then letting go is far from easy.

And yet, there’s a saying I’ve heard that goes something like “you become what you fight”. If you’ve ever witnessed someone close to you who is afraid of losing something and won’t let go, you know the truth of this first hand. We end up being alone because we fought loneliness.

So, if not letting go really means losing what we love, then what does letting go really mean? What it means is freedom. Freedom to move on, to enjoy what we have with no expectations, and to look forward to new adventures around the corner.  It doesn’t mean we won’t have our loved ones near for many more years – in fact, that’s more likely if we’ve let go of our need for them to stay . What it means is that they, and we, have no obligations that unnecessarily tie us down.

And that tastes of freedom.

Now I’d love to hear from you about your own experiences, knowledge, opinions.  In the comments below, share one thing that you experienced as a mirror moment that changed your day, or even your life.

This newsletter is in three parts: the first part is my contribution; the second is a video I’ve found that relates to the topic in part 1; the third is a quote. I hope you enjoy the richness this brings to the topic of the week with all three parts.

Isaac Lidsky – Letting Go

Quote of the Week
Some people believe holding on and hanging in there are signs of great strength. However, there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go and then do it. ― Ann Landers

Announcements
At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us. I offer both one-on-one consultations and coaching packages.  For more information, visit my website www.thejoyofliving.co/services-and-programs or contact me directly at maryanne@thejoyofliving.co

When time seems not on our side

“I don’t have time for this” is a refrain I heard often from my mother. Now I say it. I don’t have time for a lot of things, and it isn’t because I’m impatient.  It’s because I try to fit too much into a day – like my mother did.

Some people are fantastic at calculating how much time something will take, but never those who never have enough time.  Those are most of the people I know.  We tend to underestimate everything – to such a degree that what we thought we could accomplish is hopelessly out of wack.

Why is this? Partly it’s because we are overly optimistic about our own abilities and the smooth running of the world.  Partly because our hopes take over instead of our objectivity. Partly because we simply have unrealistic expectations about life, especially about ourselves. Most of us are very hard on ourselves – inside us is a little diabolic dictator who mercilessly berates us whenever we fall short of her or his demands.

That inner dictator is this way, possibly because she is fuelled by fear.  Mine is. She shows up when I’m afraid I won’t be able to do what I promised; or when I’m afraid I’ll suck during a presentation.  So many things – and whenever that fear sneaks in, so does my mini dictator.

Time isn’t on my side when I try to do too much – or so it seems.  But when I stop to consider this a little deeper, I have to admit that the pain I go through whenever I’m driven like this is a strong motivator to stop doing it.  If being driven gave me pleasure, I probably wouldn’t stop.

The truth is that I’m discovering that time is on my side: I always have the time I need to do things that are really important, as long as I pay attention to what’s really important.

Time, it turns out, is a choice – my choice.

Now I’d love to hear from you about your own experiences, knowledge, opinions.  In the comments below, share one thing that you experienced as a mirror moment that changed your day, or even your life.

This newsletter is in three parts: the first part is my contribution; the second is a video I’ve found that relates to the topic in part 1; the third is a quote. I hope you enjoy the richness this brings to the topic of the week with all three parts.

Laura Vanderkam – Time is a choice

Quote of the Week
Time is a created thing. To say ‘I don’t have time,’ is like saying, ‘I don’t want to.’
― Lao Tzu

Announcements
At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us. I offer both one-on-one consultations and coaching packages.  For more information, visit my website www.thejoyofliving.co/services-and-programs or contact me directly at maryanne@thejoyofliving.co

Following the road less traveled

I watched a wonderful movie last night titled “Legends of the Fall” on Netflix.  It was released in 1994 and stars Brad Pitt, Anthony Hopkins, and Gordon Tootoosis (as One Stab, the narrator); the movie is based on the novel of the same name by Jim Harrison.  The story is about the development and life of a young man who follows his own path, and as can be expected, his road is one less traveled; his path puts him in the way of adversity over and over again.  Early on in the story, the narrator One Stab tells of how the boy counted coup on a Grizzly Bear, and that this attitude of facing and defeating death remained with him all his life.  The message I took from the story was how we must be willing to face our fears if we want to be true to ourselves rather than slave to the will and opinions of others.  Life, in this way, is a lonely business.

The book is set in the American West in the early 1900’s and even though it’s fiction, it has a large element of truth in it: there are many characters of that time period who went West in order to free themselves of the bonds of their community (some good, some also bad); my grandfather was one of those people.

It’s hard to follow our own path. So hard, in fact, that most of us (including me) fall off the path at times and try to follow someone else’s path that’s “safer”, “easier”, more acceptable to those in our society.  Then, at some point, we loose our energy and joy of living, waking up one day wondering how we got to a place of going nowhere, wondering if that’s all there really is.

I’m here to tell you that isn’t all there is. And even more importantly, no matter your age or circumstances, you can get back on your own personal path and reclaim that energy and joy you once felt. It isn’t easy, but it is worth it.  After all, this is it, so far as we know: this life we have now, no matter how long or short, is what all we’re given to live our dream.

How do we do it then, reclaim our path? 

    • First, re-attach your head to the rest of your body.  When we feel attacked and protective (of our dreams, for instance) we go into what’s called fight or flight mode – our stress-response system kicks in and we protect ourselves.  Wilhelm Reich called this body armoring – we tense our muscles and if we do it often enough, our body keeps that tension.  We also repress the feelings we have around what we’re protecting so that, in the end, all we feel is numbness.  And when that happens, all we have is our thoughts no longer attached to the feelings they generate.  So it’s important to re-attach.
    • One way of doing this is to re-learn about what your body feels like. You can do this through the mindfulness meditation of body scan.  Body scan is a meditation technique that is designed to bring you back into body awareness.  There are many similar techniques (relaxation tapes, for instance, if they have as part of their instructions to feel each part of the body as you relax it) – the main point is to bring back into your daily or weekly routine a way of being with your body and re-discovering what it feels like in terms of physical sensations.
    • Then, notice what you feel physically – and where – whenever you are thinking something.  For instance, if I have to give a presentation and I’m stressing about it, I might feel a tightness at my solar plexus, a rawness at my throat; on the other hand, if I’m looking forward to it, I might feel a fluttering at my solar plexus and a warmth at my throat.  One suggestion is to set a timer on your phone, and every the timer goes, stop and ask yourself what you’re thinking and how you’re feeling.
    • Once you’ve reconnected your head and heart, you can access your true inner knowing.  Martha Beck calls this your “Essential self”; some shamanistic traditions call this that part of the “Shideh self” that knows what’s best for us. I call it your “Gut”. In any situation where you need to make a decision, you can go to this place of knowing – your “Gut” – and see how each truly sits inside you.  Does a decision make you feel not so good – nauseous, tight, even dead? Or does it make you feel light, energized, fluid? This is called learning to “Trust your gut”, a phrase that’s often used and rarely understood.
    • Finally, let go. The most important thing about trusting your gut, once you can access this, is not fearing change. Change is a constant part of living and growing, and may mean changing relationships, changing expectations, changing direction, changing long-held beliefs. Fear of change can bind us, and blind us from our inner knowing.  Facing our fears, remaining open to new possibilities, can feel scary; and yet doing that is the path to spiritual freedom. My challenge to you is to incorporate these three steps into your daily routine – even for a mere few minutes a day – then see where you’re at with yourself in a month or a week.

Here’s a practical every-day example, using myself as the guinea pig.

I have a problem that is recurring: I want to do too much. I want to complete a course that’s meaningful to me and adds to my business experience; I want to complete a business face-lift that’s even more important to me; I want to learn how to market myself better; I want to advance in my shamanic studies.  I want to write a book.  And I haven’t even started on all the other things in my life I want to do – spend more time with my friends and loved ones, take vacation, and so on. Well, I can’t do all of them all at once, so how do I decide on what to focus on and what to put aside for now? First, I notice how I feel physically with each one: ”complete the course” leaves me feeling somewhat energized in my stomach area; “complete the business face-lift” leaves me feeling really energized; “market myself better” leaves me feeling heavy and with a restricted throat; “advance my shamanic studies” is similar to the first one.  So if I follow my inner knowing – my gut – the most important thing, no matter what anyone else may think, is my business face-lift (that problem with self-marketing is another issue).

If you have a decision to make and you feel stuck, try this out.  It may take a while – especially if you need to re-connect – but believe me, it’s worth it!

Now I’d love to hear from you about your own experiences, knowledge, opinions.  In the comments below, share one thing that you experienced as a mirror moment that changed your day, or even your life.

This newsletter is in three parts: the first part is my contribution; the second is a video I’ve found that relates to the topic in part 1; the third is a quote. I hope you enjoy the richness this brings to the topic of the week with all three parts.

Ziggy Marley – Roads Less Traveled

Quote of the Week
Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.

-Robert Frost

Announcements
At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us. I offer both one-on-one consultations and coaching packages.  For more information, visit my website www.thejoyofliving.co/services-and-programs or contact me directly at maryanne@thejoyofliving.co

Personal Power or Stress? One thing you can do to regain your Power

These days, I often hear people saying that stress is good – that there’s a difference between “good” and “bad” stress, and that they want more “good “ stress in their lives.

All well and good.  But what, exactly is “good” stress?  When I ask, I almost always get some variation of the following:  it’s the kind of stress that gives you the drive to get something done; it gives you energy instead of taking it away; it’s when you’re in the “zone” and everything is moving like a knife through butter.

I get that – most if not all of us have experienced those moments of pure productivity in our lives.  And they are truly wonderful.  But this kind of stress is only “good” if it happens periodically.  These days, many of us expect ourselves – or are expected by others – to be that productive all the time.  When that happens, this “good” stress turns “bad”, and we end up feeling overwhelmed and powerless.

So the question of interest for me is: How can I determine when I’m moving from “good” to “bad” stress? The answer: by attending to my knowing, another way of saying trust my gut.  This is another phrase used a lot these days – it’s so easy to talk about and yet so hard for most of us to do – because it’s something we have spent most of our adult lives eradicating.

Those times when you didn’t feel like staying up late, but were talked into it; or when you were uncomfortable walking into an elevator with an angry-looking stranger but did anyway; or any number of situations you found yourself in where your gut said I don’t like this and your head said It’s OK – you’re imagining things, Gut! Those times added up into a disconnect between you and your knowing.  And that disconnect led to you losing your personal power, because personal power resides in your knowing.

We have personal power when we are sure of ourselves, when we trust ourselves to know what’s good or bad for us, and then always go for it.  Every time we ignore that wise part of us, we lose a bit of our own personal power, sending us into increasing self-doubt, increasing overwhelm.

Why? Because what’s in our head is knowledge we’ve collected from others = our parents, teachers, community leaders and friends.  This kind of knowledge is useful but not something that should ever replace what we know for sure.  And what we know for sure is in our gut, not our head.

If you’re uncertain of this, try this out: On a day that might rain – that looks possibly like it might and the forecast is uncertain, stand for a few minutes, eyes closed, and see how you feel about the weather. I don’t mean emotions or judgments, I mean sensations, because that’s the language of the gut.  Your body knows better than your head – or the forecast – whether or not to take an umbrella.  Then whatever your gut says, simply go with it.

Whether it rains or not, you’ve just taken care of yourself. Whether it rains or not, notice how you feel – relaxed or stressed? Relaxed or uncertain? Relaxed or in doubt?

You can relearn to do this in any situation. This is Personal Power.

This newsletter is in three parts: the first part is my contribution; the second is a video I’ve found that relates to the topic in part 1; the third is a quote. I hope you enjoy the richness this brings to the topic of the week with all three parts.

Three Steps to Cultivate your Authentic Power

Quote of the Week
You are more powerful than you think
It’s bigger than you
Leaders are made, not born
Leveling up is a choice
They say you can’t, we know you can
Dance with fear
See, assert, change
Overwhelmed is temporary
Out loud, in public
Hard work is far better than busy work
The crowd is wrong. The critics are wrong. Useful feedback is precious…
Management matters. So does leadership…
“Here, I made this.” Or possibly, “Here, we made this.”
See the end before you begin the journey
Culture defeats everything
It’s personal
-Seth Godin, 17 Rules for the New World of Work

Announcements
At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us. I offer both one-on-one consultations and coaching packages.  For more information, visit my website www.thejoyofliving.co/services-and-programs or contact me directly at maryanne@thejoyofliving.co

 

Moments of Peace and Joy

In the midst of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.

-Albert Camus

There are so many inspirational quotes like this one (there’s more below) that have the power to give us a lift just by reading them.  Each time, for instance, I read Camus’ quote, I feel my heart sigh – a spiritual pat on my back saying Good job! You can rest now.

For a few lovely moments I can feel a sense of accomplishment and be at peace.  And then in the next moment, I review my daily list (yes, I do have a daily list), and dig in. Then on days like today, I catch myself wondering what my life would be like if I felt this sense of peaceful joy most if not all of every day.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love my life: I’m doing what I love, have pretty good health, and friends and relationships that feed my spirit.  Even so, when I’m challenged, there is a tiny voice inside me that can get loud and that is sometimes filled with terror. This tiny voice has a lot of power, because it can stop me from feeling that peace and joy, or even remembering it exists.

The voice isn’t fake – it’s real. But the reasons for feeling the terror aren’t real, at least not any more.  And yet it persists. You might also experience moments of discomfort, or even terror, and if you do … if it helps … here’s what I do to calm that voice down:

  • Be with your pain. That’s right! Sit mindfully with the voice, and the feelings in my body it generates. A know in my stomach, tense shoulders, whatever the sensation, I sit with the feelings and let them be whatever they need to be.  The important thing is to learn to accept the voice as real and genuine, and a natural part of who you are.
  • Limit your time with it. In my meditation practice, I always begin by focusing on my process of breathing; then move my focus to something else, ending with breathing. I do this so that I can begin and end on something that balances me, and breathing is our natural balancer. Each in-breath activates our sympathetic nervous system, and each out-breath activates our parasympathetic nervous system – together, this contributes to bringing us, naturally, into homeostasis. In the middle, I will take 10 minutes or even half an hour to be with my tiny voice and the sensations and feelings it generates inside me.  I will only spend this time on it, limiting it’s influence and impact on me, so that I – and not it – controls my day.  This is important! Being with anything or anyone doesn’t mean they get to take over – taking over isn’t a path to peace or joy. Ever! So limit the time you spend with your pain.  Contain it by giving it time and acceptance, then moving on.
  • Love yourself, including your pain. This may be hard to do, and yet it’s essential. If you can’t get past the judgments about this part of you that you wish didn’t exist, then at least respect it’s reality, and perhaps make an opening for love somewhere down the road.  One way to do this is to think of this part of yourself as a small child who’s been hurt – because in fact this is very likely the source of this pain.  Then ask yourself: What would I do if I were with a small child in pain?  Would I brush the child aside, or comfort him or her?  Then do the same to that small part of you that’s in pain.

None of us is perfect.  We’ve all lived and experienced pain and disappointment.  And this experience can leave scars as well as contribute to our maturity.  I believe we need to acknowledge and accept both to live a truly happy life.

This newsletter is in three parts: the first part is my contribution; the second is a video I’ve found that relates to the topic in part 1; the third is a quote. I hope you enjoy the richness this brings to the topic of the week with all three parts.

Matthieu Ricard: The habits of happiness

ted

Quote of the Week
We don’t realize that, somewhere within us all, there does exist a supreme self who is eternally at peace.
Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

Announcements
At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us. I offer both one-on-one consultations and coaching packages.  For more information, visit my website www.thejoyofliving.co/services-and-programs or contact me directly at maryanne@thejoyofliving.co