& filed under Communication, Mind, Body and Spirit, Mindfulness.

The “great gurus” tell us to stay in the moment… and I encourage you to take their advice.

Yet, I know it’s not as easy as it sounds though.  It does get easier and easier with practice, so play with ways to make it easy.

I’ve found a little mantra that works for me to stay in the moment. My “mantra” is a paraphrase of the ending of the movie Way Of The Peaceful Warrior, scripted from the wonderful book by the same name written by Daniel Millman. My mantra is: “Here. Now. The Moment…”

Mantras can snap you back to the moment as all too often autopilot kicks in and moments creep up on us and surprise us.

Surprise is the enemy of being present! Surprise takes you out of the moment and catapults you into the past and/or the future with thoughts like, “What just happened?” “What does that mean?” and “What will happen next?”

“Here, Now, The Moment” reminds me to focus on the now, within that moment, rather than future pacing or past ruminating.

What’s your reminder mantra to come back to the moment?

 

& filed under Communication, Conflict Resolution Success Skills, Stress Reduction.

The #1 Thing Your Soul Needs

Many people are at war with themselves.  A bold statement I know— but I’ve been there. It was 1998, my life was falling apart before my eyes, or so I thought. It felt real and it was real.

My two-decade long marriage was falling apart and my upbringing was at war with what I was feeling and what I knew I had to do to save my sanity. I was allowing those “church” voices saying, “He’s really a good man,” “He didn’t mean it….” and “He’s a good provider…” to consume me. “How can you do that to your family?” I heard over and over, but in my heart I knew I had to do just “that” to save myself and my family.

The shaming head-chorus wouldn’t stop, even though I’d left the church ten years prior.  Late one night, driving home in a pounding rainstorm, the pivotal mind-battle began. I couldn’t breathe, my heart was racing and then it happened, I could barely see – the rain was coming down in sheets….

Knowing I had to survive for my sons, I made my way to the side of the road and thought I was going to die, right then and there.  It felt like it went on forever. It was the longest and loneliest 30 minutes of my life.

When you think you are dying you make many a life altering decision — the most profound that night was to stop trying to control everything.

All I wanted was to feel safe…

In that instant, I made a decision. And it seemed like a strange decision, but I chose to let it go, I just “dropped.” Dropped physically, emotionally and all the thoughts just dropped out of my head….

I couldn’t control everything!

Letting go is something I’d heard of, I’d even read a book or two, but never really understood what it meant. Clearly, just not “feeling-it” was not the answer as I couldn’t stop “feeling shame, guilt, despair, worry, despise…the list is endless and the corresponding emotions(s) dependent on what I thought I had or had not done properly, correctly, harshly, tactless, another endless list my mind-inventions were so talented at conjuring up.  Letting go seemed magical and I didn’t know the trick.

I’d tried to let go numerous times before only to have that head chorus of “what-abouts,” “should-coulda-woulda-haves,” and all my other numerous well meaning intentions and pre-determined outcomes gone awry start singing at the top of their lungs once again. I REALLY wanted it to be different — I had every intention, it would be different, this time, or the next time….

Yet, Intentions Are Not Enough

It’s not the emotions you are to let go of… it’s okay to have emotions. It’s how you  respond to those emotions that is critical.

It’s also all those pre-formulated intentions, outcomes and the ultimate illusion of control especially where others are involved that are crazy-making. Intentions and outcomes all-to-often come with expectations you’ve created — expectations require control to come true.

I can only control myself and set my FOCUS, not intentions, on doing the very best I can, in the situation I’m in and /or with the permission I have with other(s).  Sometimes, I just don’t have permission… consider The key is setting your FOCUS.

Focus is fluid, it’s easy to readjust your focus and for me, creates an easier path to “focus” on the other person(s) needs and wants instead of trying to create a specific outcome.

Focus also works to create what is known as the dissociated state. (The word dissociation can also be used to describe a wide array of experiences from mild detachment to more severe detachment from the physical and emotional experience(s).)

Here, I’m using the term as the ability to step outside yourself and observe from a neutral position. When I think about this ability to step outside yourself and view from an emotionally neutral position, it is where you can see yourself and the other(s) as if viewing a scene from a play, so you can be empathic but aren’t emotionally involved. Whereas, in an associated state, the thoughts, feelings, emotions are all yours, intense and real.  It’s difficult to see other options, more opportunities and other people’s point of view from an associated state.

While sitting on the side of the road, time moved slow and quick all at the same time. In an instant I shifted from outcome of control to letting go.  It was instant clarity.  Options open before my eyes… and in that moment, when all I heard was myself gasping for breath, I heard a voice ask me two questions:

  • What part of this is yours; what part of this can you really control? “Only me, only how I choose to react…” flashed through my head.
  • If that is true, whose permission are you waiting for?

& filed under Communication, Conflict Resolution Success Skills, Stress Reduction.

PRACTICE COURAGE

Did you know that courage is a “muscle”? Well, technically not, but play along with the metaphor.

It’s like a muscle because the more you use it, the stronger you get! “Courage” is a word that has always fascinated me. Even thinking the word I feel stronger. It takes courage to continue to move forward in the face of hardship, discomfort, long-odds, failures and discouragement.

Yet, we see courageous acts all around us everyday. I’ve found numerous descriptions of where the word “courage” originated. Most agree that the Latin root of the word is “cor”— which translates to “for heart.” Then the descriptions take many different paths.

One of my favorites is: “Courage comes from a French translation meaning ‘rage of the heart.’ It originated with horses that had to jump over something. In order to do so successfully, they have to send their heart over the fence first and then the body follows,” from my friend and executive coach, Ann Masur Singer.

Another favorite: “Courage originally meant, ‘To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart,’ from Brené Brown, author of The Gifts of Imperfection. It’s amazing what you learn about yourself when you courageously push your potential.

Here are a few ways to practice courage:

Be imaginative. Choose outside your box. If you feel a little tweak or twinge, then you are thinking outside your box. Be brave. Move outside your comfort zone – even if just a smidge…. Anaïs Nin was right when she wrote, “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”

Be adventurous. Raise the bar on what you think you can do. Too often our thoughts of “Oh, I could never do that…” limit what we really can do.

Be impeccable. Commit to being faultless with your words and deeds. Keep your promises to yourself. Keep your commitments to others.

Be focused. Bright shiny objects are all around us. Cultivate an environment that allows you to stay focused on one thing at a time. Use your breath to have a relaxed presence and focus on each moment.

Be actively aware. Choose to stay in the moment. Know what you want and need. Pay close attention to your reality and the reality of others – they are not the same thing.

 

 

& filed under Communication, Conflict Resolution Success Skills, Stress Reduction.

The Asset of Anger

Anger is a secondary emotion. To get angry, typically, you have been hurt, frustrated or frightened first.  When you realize you are angry, think back to your choice to get angry… which were you: hurt, frightened, or frustrated?

Was it your ego that was hurt? There is a big difference between being hurt physically compared to offending your ego, which may be fragile.

Once you determine the base cause, you have a choice to change how you think and feel about the situation. Thoughts and feelings are not the real you. They are not facts. Yet, all too often, they are the basis for your choices, usually based on patterns built and used over time — that may or may not work for you anymore.

When you feel yourself getting angry next time, critically assess your position and all likely outcomes before choosing what to do next. The five questions to ask yourself are:

  1. Is this a fight worth fighting? What other options do I have, such as thanking them for their opinion and moving on?
  2. Do I have enough information, history, etc.? Maybe I don’t understand where the nay-saying is coming from. It often is the other person’s personal fears being expressed as if they were your fears.
  3. Does this involve me personally or am I fighting someone else’s battle?
  4. What are the possible outcomes? Could I be fired, demoted, lose pay, or lose a friend?
  5. Am I hurt, frightened or frustrated? Can I stay dispassionately involved?  Is this my ego wanting to fight?

If you feel you have to move forward and address what may become a conflict, then first determine the volatility of the participants and the situation. Personal safety is number one; request professional help when necessary. Once personal safety is assured, and you have answered the above questions, explore these seven possible causes of the critics, bullies and nay-saying:

  • Diverse needs, wants and desires
  • Different personality styles
  • Conflicting perceptions or expectations of the situation
  • Dissimilar goals
  • Outside pressures or competing spheres of influence
  • Differing personal values or views of fairness and power
  • Unpredictable policies from leadership or management

While it is important to consider what the root of the nay-saying / conflict may be, it is surprisingly easy to get caught up in the back-story and get even more riled up. Work to remain a neutral observer, even though you are part of the actual problem. If time permits, gather specific, verifiable data and information.  Keep your emotions, labels and stereotypes out of it.

From the neutral observer position, step back into the present and look at the situation. With curiosity, look back at yourself, over there, and ask if the events that led you to become hurt, frustrated, and/or frightened were true. If they are true, really true, thank yourself for paying attention. If they are not true, apologize, make amends, step out of the situation, give yourself and the other(s) grace… whatever needs to be done to correct the misunderstanding.

Or stay angry if you must and set an intention to resolve the situation. We often hold back making changes, or truth telling for fear of “hurting” another person when the worst that might happen is that their ego is offended.

Be willing to be offended and speak your truth, knowing that we cannot truly hurt another unless you intend to — and perhaps the other party intends to… either way, if they are true or they are not true, apply liberal doses of appreciation for the chance to open your eyes to something new.