Archive for the ‘Relationships’ category

How To Give Yourself the Gift of Change This Year

December 18th, 2012

Catepillar-Butterfly

I was coaching a man recently, and his reaction to the call for change was classic.

To Jack, changing meant he wouldn’t be the person he used to be.  About that, we agreed.  He wouldn’t be his old self any longer.

As he contemplated change, his concerns began to surface. “I don’t want to lose myself.  I mean, I’m me.  I’ve been this way all of my life.  Anything else would feel phony and awkward.”

Jack also admitted that he was concerned about how others would see him and respond to the changes.   He worried that he wouldn’t be seen as credible.  “Who’s going to believe it?”

I offered the thought that changing wouldn’t make him less of who he is.  He’d become more.  He’d have access to more of his whole self which includes parts and behavior patterns he knows well, parts and potential that are less familiar, and skill and abilities that are underdeveloped.

“Jack, any time you want to stop using the new skill, you can.  At will, you can go back to your old way because whatever you change – a behavior, a mindset, a belief – it’s still yours.  You can call it up and begin using it again, any time you choose.  In a very real sense, you haven’t lost anything, you’ve added something.”

Jack breathed a sigh of relief.  “That makes perfect sense.  It seems so simple when you say it that way.  I’m in.  I’ll give it a try.”

This holiday season, give yourself the gift of change.   Become more of who you really are.

Make a decision to let go of LIES That Limit your freedom of choice, your effectiveness at work, your success in relationships, your willingness to take action and make changes for your own good.

Try something you’ve been wanting to do.  Learn a skill that intrigues you.  Give up a habit that no longer serves you.  Adopt a new behavior or perspective that will help you live better now.

When you add new experiences, beliefs and behaviors to your repertoire, you expand your capacity, broaden your range of capability, and deepen your awareness of your limitless potential.  Emboldened with a new skill set and perspective, you’re equipped to do more, to embody more of who you really are.  You take another step in the direction of wholeness.

So, what about you?  What changes are calling to you – changes that might help you gain access to more of your whole self?

My personal answer is simple.  I have two commitments:

  1. I’m going to give myself a morning and an afternoon practice of taking ten deep, conscious breaths with the goals of relaxing, clearing my mind and energizing my body.
  2. At least four days a week this winter (I walk during the summer, happily, but avoid the winter winds), I’m going to walk three miles a day.  Walking helps me to inhabit my body, work out the kinks, strengthen my legs, lungs and heart, build physical energy and facilitate mental clarity.  I deserve these good gifts all year-round.

Embrace your change – be it large or small – and make 2013 the year you become more of who you really are.

Happy Holidays!

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5 Tips for Keeping Your Holiday Spirits Bright

December 11th, 2012

We tend to react to familiar situation in familiar ways.  That’s clearly true any time we find ourselves back in a familiar situation – like celebrating a holiday with our family of origin or our in-laws.

Without thinking, old ingrained patterns of behavior kick in.  When the pattern is constructive, the gathering tends to feel like the blessing and celebration of life it’s intended to be.  But, when there is stress and strain in relationships, what could be a joyful time is marred by negativity.

So, if you’re thinking about how you can avoid family dysfunction this holiday season, look no further.  Here are 5 tips for that will help you keep your holiday spirits bright.

1) Make conscious choices about how you react.  If your experience of holiday gatherings is less than peaceful and enjoyable, this year instead of interacting and responding like you usually do to the stressors, make a conscious choice to do all you can to make the gathering you’re part of a positive experience – for yourself and everyone else.

At every turn, when old, familiar negative thoughts and reactions well up, ready to burst forth, before you respond, take a deep breath and remember your decision – your conscious choice – to do all you can to add peace and enjoyment to the gathering.

 2) Set boundaries and share them.  Setting boundaries is not easy.   Your decision impacts others in the family or social group.  It’s helpful to tell them, in advance, that cousin Robin will not be with us this year.  Or what the new house rules are:  a no shoes policy, no smoking in the house or no gifts.  Giving your guests early notice about changes to traditions provides them an opportunity to get used to the idea or to decide they’d rather not join you this year.

When you set boundaries, the dynamics of the relationships may also change.  Be ready to hear and accept other’s reactions.  You don’t have to argue the point, agree, disagree or feel pressured to alter your decision.  Simply acknowledge that you hear and understand how they feel.   Then, be patient as everyone, including you, adjusts to the changes.

3) Remove yourself from caustic situations. If you experience the behavior of another as unkind, abusive or disrespectful, don’t hesitate to remove yourself from the environment.

Go to another room.  Take a walk.  Sit in your car.  Drive around the block.  If need be, excuse yourself from attending the gathering and find another time to connect with everyone.

 4) Wait 2 minutes before responding to anything that infuriates you.  This is a good practice in any situation.  Reflex responses are often defensive and tend to escalate tensions, anxiety or anger.  Take a few deep breaths.  Go get a drink of water. Stand outside.  Do something to clear your mind and allow your breathing to return to normal . . . a sign that you – the grown up, rational you – is back in control.

When you rejoin the setting, since the moment of tension has probably passed, no comment may be necessary.  But, if you feel compelled to say something, remember the conscious choice you made to do all you can to add peace and enjoyment to the gathering.  Respond with that in mind.

5) Use their actions as lessons on how NOT to be.  Family and loved ones offer us a great opportunity to learn about ourselves and the limits we place on our willingness and capacity to demonstrate compassion and love.

Accept your family and friends as they are.  Many holiday fights and frustrations come about because we want our loved ones to be different than they are.  We CANNOT control how others behave so don’t even try.

Remember, at the heart of every individual and family is a real need for love and acceptance.  This holiday season, and every day, consciously decide to bring love, peace, compassion, acceptance and enjoyment to life – yours and everyone around you.

Happy Holiday!

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What Will You Give This Holiday Season? Experiences or Things?

December 4th, 2012

This idea of giving experiences rather than things is evergreen, and especially relevant this time of year when so many of us honor the spirit of gift giving.

On a recent flight I sat next to an interesting, energetic woman, Sue Ann.  She and her husband were headed off to explore another location on their bucket list:  the beaches and vistas of St. Thomas.

“Seeing all of our beautiful country is a goal we set a long time ago,” she said.

Easy to talk with, we conversed the entire flight from Miami to St. Thomas.  Sue Ann told me about her early life growing up in rural Arkansas; her career as an ICU nurse; they way she and her husband partnered to build his business and financial security; the way they raised their son; the pleasure they take in their two grandchildren; and the way they spend their lives today, including the upcoming holiday.  She lit up when she told me the story of her family’s Christmas tradition.

She began by explaining, “We always gave Joe everything he needed – lots of love, a comfortable home where he could bring his friends, clothes, a few toys, a good education and our time and attention.  But, from the time he was little, at Christmas, on his birthday and other important occasions, we didn’t give him toys or more clothes, we tried to do things with him – things that would create memories and stories he could tell.  A lot of what we did didn’t even cost much.”

Sue Ann and her husband, Tom, gave Joe experiences instead of things.  They chose the longer lasting, more enduring option of shared time and involvement that makes memories that can last a lifetime.

She talked about trips to the city, the zoo, historical sites and museums.  Camping trips to beautiful locations.  Plays and concerts.  County fairs and carnivals.  Fishing trips.  Amusement parks.  Botanical gardens.  Skating, skiing, hiking.  Sporting events – community and professional.  Touring other cities.  Visiting national monuments.  As an added treat, on many occasions they allowed Joe to bring along friends.

Her family tradition fits perfectly with my belief that gifts of experiences are more memorable and impactful than things, particularly things that don’t fulfill a specific need.  I’ve written about this giving gifts vs. things before. I was even interviewed on TV about it.

This long-held view – that experiences are better than things – was validated by research published in a Psychology Today article that suggested we get greater satisfaction out of “experiences” than “things.”  It referred to a study from the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology that said people have an easier time choosing between experiences than they do choosing from a variety of material items.

If giving experience is not a part of your holiday and birthday tradition, consider adding it.  You can give experiences instead of things or do both.  Experiences create shared memories and give people stories to tell.  They live longer in the minds and emotions of recipients than things do.

This is the season of love, hope, peace and generosity.  I hope yours is safe and joyous.

Enjoy!

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On Who’s Shoulders Do You Stand?

November 20th, 2012

Thanksgiving is a beautiful holiday – a day of appreciation for the amazing legacy I’ve inherited and the abundance with which I’m blessed.  With heart-felt gratitude, this Thanksgiving season, I’m reflecting on and appreciating the many people on whose shoulders I stand.  Their lives and contributions have eased my path.

I’ve been the beneficiary of the hard work, achievements, scrimping and saving, sacrifices, inventions, services, risk-taking, genius and generosity of all who’ve come before me, and those who are here with me now.  I’ve benefitted from:

  • those who have loved me and those who didn’t.
  • from good fortune and misfortune.
  • from opportunity and its absence.
  • from trusted friends and valuable enemies.
  • from times of expansive joy and wonder.
  • from times of contraction, sadness and loss.

With every event comes an opportunity to mine it for gold.  Used well, whatever happens helps me learn, grow and evolve.  For each opportunity, I’m thankful.  Everyone I’ve ever met, and those I’ve known and loved for a long time, have all helped me, hoisted me up, even some who may have imagined they were holding me down.  I stand on their shoulders with reverence, respect and gratitude.

Alone, I do nothing.  Alone, I’ve created nothing.  Alone, I’ve accomplished nothing.  The Unconditional Love of God, the clear Guidance of Spirit, the love of those who parented and raised me, the generous spirit of those who pray for me, and the kindness of those who think and speak well of me.  All of these people support me.  Their positive energy and intentions fuel and sustain me; they help me to be buoyant and resilient.  Be they my predecessors or contemporaries, my good ideas are stimulated by their great work and way of being.  For all, I’m grateful.  To all, I say, “Thank You!”

No matter where you are in the world, taking time to reflect on that for which you’re thankful, and remembering those on whose shoulders you stand, is a good investment of time and energy.  You don’t need a special holiday to celebrate and honor all of the good, wonderful people who have lifted you, and the more than adequate supply with which you’ve been gifted.

Continually, make Thanksgiving an everyday practice.  Honor those on whose shoulders you stand – those who have come before you and paved your path in significant and subtle ways.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Power Comes From Listening More and Talking Less

October 23rd, 2012

Listen more. Talk less.

Try this for just one day and notice the impact on you and on others.  Listen more.  Listen to understand.  Listen to learn.  Listen to empathize.  Listen to validate.

Don’t worry.  You won’t become invisible, powerless or less impactful.  In fact, you will become more visible because you’ll stand out as someone who cares in a world full of people who are busy pushing their agenda, selling their ideas, jockeying for position.

You may find these three techniques helpful to listen actively for far more effective communication.

Mirror the speaker’s message.  In other words, accurately restate the content and emotional tone of the speaker’s message by paraphrasing what you heard.  This is a good way to demonstrate that you understand what was said.  And, it allows the speaker to clarify important points, you may have missed or misunderstood.

Empathize with the speaker’s feelings or emotional state.  Let the speaker know that you hear how they are feeling about the topic of discussion.  Name the emotion you believe the speaker is experiencing.  Use phrases like you sound happy or sad, scared, angry, concerned, etc. Or, I image you’re feeling frustrated, joyful, etc.

Validate the speaker’s point of view.  Confirm that you understand the situation through her eyes and can appreciate why he or she feels the way they do, even if you don’t agree.  To practice validation, use phrases such as… “I can see why you say that…”  Or, “Given what you’ve said, I understand why you conclude…”

Talk less and listen more.  Then, notice how many people – at home and at work – will compliment you for being such a great listener, for caring or for affording them the opportunity to talk through something that was concerning them.

Emotionally intelligent people engage in active listening.  To power up your effectiveness as a communicator and your credibility as someone who genuinely cares, try it and watch your personal and/or executive presence emerge.

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Boost Trust in Your Relationships

October 16th, 2012

Are your relationships resting on a strong foundation of trust?  If so, you may be among the 49% of people in the US who say they have a high level of trust in others.

But, here’s the rub:  if 49% trust others that means 51% aren’t so trusting.  What’s that about?  While I can’t account for the whole story, I believe I have a useful perspective on part of it because trust is at the heart of what makes relationships work.

When trust is present in a relationship there is a sense of ease, reliability and predictability.  The presence of trust helps us to relax and feel safe.  We need trust in our relationships – at home, in the workplace, in our communities.  Trust is its own social capital and it’s value – priceless.

You may be in an important relationship where you want to strengthen trust.  It’s not bad, but it certainly could be better.  Or, perhaps you’re forming new relationships – in your love life, in a new or extended family, on in your professional life.  Or you may be facing the uphill challenge of needing to repair trust and credibility in a damaged or broken relationship.

When clients talk with me about their challenges with building or repairing trust, and ask how to proceed, my recommendation is often the same.  It’s a straightforward, simple suggestion:  going forward, keep your word.  Say what you mean.  Promise only what you intend to deliver.

Even when you’re uncomfortable saying “No,” don’t agree to anything you know you’re not going to do because you don’t want to, don’t have the authority to execute, or because of some other constraint you won’t or can’t follow-through.

Broken agreements are at the heart of most damaged and dysfunctional relationships, both in the workplace and at home.  If you’re not going to keep a commitment you made, tell the affected person or parties, as soon as possible.  Offer a sincere apology for not following through on what you said.

Keeping your word is an act of honor and accountability.  It makes you stand out as trust-worthy when people know they can count on you to keep the promises you make, and when you can’t, they know you’ll give them the respect of informing them directly and early.

Boost the trust level in your relationships.  The trust you earn by keeping your word will open doors and keep them open.

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Want to Change the People Around You?

September 18th, 2012

LIES That Limit discusses culture – familial, racial, religious, regional, national, etc. – Each has its intended and unintentional impact in the way culture is passed on, not only through the rational, spoken messages we receive, but also through invisible, energetic exchanges.  Now, I understand such transmissions to be the magical work of mirror neurons.  Now, that’s cool!

Mirror neurons provide clues as to how culture is transmitted and why it’s so hard to change.  Because we mimic what we see, we tend to keep doing what we see those around us doing.  We imitate what we observe, making our behavior clearly and easily influenced by those around us.  People who live together, work together, play together, hang out together begin to act, sound, feel and think alike.  Our behavior tends to be a reflection of what we see.  The same is so for those around us.

With every feeling you experience, every intention you hold, and every action you take, you’re having a significant affect on others.  Your feelings, thoughts and behavior stimulate the same thoughts, feelings and behavior in those around you, through the action of their mirror neurons.  They can read your thoughts, feelings and intentions.  To extend the logic, the more consistently you engage in a certain behavior, carry a certain feeling and intention, the more likely you are to shape or contour – influence – the behavior of others.

At home, leading by example is more than a catch phrase or way to keep kids from behaving badly.  Mirror neurons are another argument for walking the path you want your children to walk — which is infinitely more effective than, “do as I say.”  Often you hear parents wonder, “Where on earth did she pick that up?”  Now we know there’s a chemical reaction that shapes these behaviors. Actions you take that you don’t think your kids pick up on or that you might not be aware of are working their way into your children’s brains.

If you work in an organization – on a team or lead a group – you can positively affect the culture by maintaining a positive pattern of feeling, thought and behavior.  Your consistent, repetitive behavior will impact the mirror neurons of those around you and they will, sooner or later, begin to reflect back to you what they’ve experienced.

To change the culture of your organization or your household, hold firm and stay the course.  As Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see…” and notice how others will eventually mirror back to you your beliefs and behavior.

Learn more about mirror neurons:

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You Can Read Minds

September 4th, 2012

Here’s a bit of information about yourself you may not have known.  It can support your professional development, up your Emotional Intelligence – and boost your self-esteem.

You can read minds!  Did you know that?  And, in all fairness, you need to know that others can read your mind, too – your thoughts, feelings and intentions.  According to Giacomo Rizzolatti, we’re born with the ability.

In a New York Times article, “Cells That Read Minds,” Rizzolatti and other neuroscientists describe a special class of brain cells responsible for this ability.  They’re called mirror neurons.  Their discovery provides insight into how you learn to walk, talk, smile; why you can understand how others feel and empathize with them; why you like sports and the arts; the intangible way culture gets passed on from generation to generation; and why the kind of media you watch and interact with really does matter.

Dr. Rizzolatti points out what most of us know at a gut level:  understanding the actions, intentions and emotions of others is central to our survival and sense of safety.  We have the ability to understand what others are thinking, feeling and what they may do based not on rational thought, but on feelings.  This fascinates me because, intuitively, I’ve always known this to be true.  In fact, LIES That Limit discusses the constructive and destructive aspects of being tuned in to what others are thinking and feeling, and the impact it can have on the choices we make.    Now, science provides additional evidence to prove the point.

Pay close attention; your psychic ability may just be the by-product of active mirror neurons.  Given your natural ability to anticipate what others are thinking, feeling and are about to do, you can work at better understanding where they’re coming from and why.  Here’s an example:  on a recent flight, squeezing into the seats next to me were two people who I assume to be a mother and her thirteen to fourteen year old son.  From their conversation, it seemed they were coming home from a trip abroad…so lots of time together, in close quarters – airplanes, hotels, restaurants, etc.

As they fell into the seats, the mother began speaking to her son in a way that felt like yelling, to me.

“You always do that.  I told you to stop.  You’re rude and embarrassing.  I told you not to behave that way.  It’s not nice.  I don’t want to have to tell you again.  Don’t push people or push your way through crowds.  Wait your turn.  Have I not told you this before?!  I’m tired of telling you about your behavior.”

On and on, she went.  I felt badly for the young man.  Having been the child of a mother who, out of a sense of responsibility for raising a well-behaved child, had no qualms about public chastisement, I felt for him.  I looked deeply into the pages of my book to avoid his eyes.  I imagined, or sensed, he was feeling humiliated at the public dress-down he was receiving.  Sitting next to me, I was aware of his breathing and, peripherally, his icy, frozen stare, eyes locked straight ahead.  He was doing so to control himself – to not yell back or strike out.

After she quieted down, I thought about the mother and wondered why she felt the need to speak to her son so harshly, and with many strangers bearing witness.  I went into my “Why is she doing this!?!”  The more I pondered the question/judgment, the more I could sense her thoughts and feelings, too.  The awareness that came floored me.  This woman was TERRIFIED that her beautiful son, whom she loved and saw great promise in, would not grow up to be a fine, respectful, courteous man.  She was afraid that he would become another pushy, ill-mannered person who doesn’t know how to live well in the world with others.

Suddenly, I felt empathy for her.  I could clearly relate to the way she was feeling.  It was an anxiety many Moms carry; myself included.  While you and I may not have spoken to our child in that way, and in front of others, the terror would be quite the same.

I believe my mirror neurons helped me empathize with both parties in this situation. At a feeling level, I understood what was going on in each of them.  With that, judgmental thoughts about the mother subsided.  They were replaced by empathy and respect for her genuine concern for the son she loved, and her intentions to raise him well.

Could mirror neurons help you to be more empathic – more emotional intelligence?  Try it and then decide.  Instead of judging them, tune in to the people around you and, even if you don’t agree with them, notice how much of their thoughts, feelings and intentions you can discern.  You’re bound to surprise yourself with how much information you’ll receive.  You really can read minds, thanks to the mirror neurons in your brain!

Learn more at GoCognitive.net and in the American Psychological Association article “The Mind’s Mirror.”

 

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Guest Blog: Why I Journal

August 21st, 2012

By Linda Tabach

Linda Tabach

Linda Tabach

Linda Tabach writes and blogs about health, fitness and wellness at www.lemonslifelove.com.  She is training to become a health coach at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and is looking forward to helping others reach their wellness goals through balanced living.

I began journaling with a computer document at the end of 2008 and I just finished at the end of July when it hit 762 pages. The document was taking too long to load in my computer, so I decided to begin anew. The blank white screen on a fresh journal inspires me to fill the pages.

At first my journaling was a way to chronicle events that were taking place in my life, but I quickly found that as I wrote I was able to express emotions, develop ideas, process conflicts, analyze dreams, and be creative. As I rush through my busy days, with thoughts continually racing through my head, I have little time to do any of those things, but at the end of the day when I can sit at my desk to relax, the words flow freely.

I enjoy journaling on the computer because my handwriting can’t keep up with my thoughts, but I know of others who handwrite in their journals. Still others draw or use photos to express their thoughts and feelings in their journals. Keeping my journal on the computer has the added benefit of allowing me to search for entries which I find helpful when I want to go back and revisit an event or remind myself of how I accomplished a difficult task or resolved a conflict.

I also journal in my head while I run. Long distance running is the perfect time for me to process thoughts and ideas, and when I get home I type them up. I frequently write lengthy emails to friends and family and I will add these to my journal as well, along with emails I receive.

During the last couple of years, blogging has also been a form of journaling for me, one in which I can share my thoughts with whoever finds me and cares to read. I connect with others through my blog, and I can choose to share journal entries with them. The blogging community encourages a sense of unity and belonging through the exchange of journal entries.

It is difficult to balance all of the important aspects of my life – family, friends, career, spiritual growth, exercise – and journaling allows me to see where I need to focus my efforts at any given time. I allow myself time every day to reflect; I consider this an essential element of my self care.

 If you enjoy handwriting journal entries, you can order a “Journal Your Truth” notebook from Spirit of Purpose.

 

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NEW Website for Spirit of Purpose Community

July 10th, 2012

Today, I’m happy to announce, we’ve launched the new Spirit of Purpose™ website.

This new dynamic website is where our community can come together and learn more about how they can Live Better Now!   It is a place where you’ll find encouragement to make conscious choices that will lead to authentic, lasting growth.

The Spirit of Purpose™ mission is to build a vibrant, active, passionate community of people who are committed to Self-awareness, Self-acceptance and Self-mastery as a path to a better life.  Guided by a process of intentional reflection and conscious choice, we support you in making changes that transform your life – changes aligned with your deeper self.  Your real Self.

You become a Spirit of Purpose™ when you take your blinders off and lift the veil of LIES™ (Labels, Illusion, Excuses and Stories) in your life.  This is the topic of my first book “LIES That Limit: Uncover the Truth Of Who You Really Are” which is the initial step on the never-ending journey to becoming your authentic Self, knowing and embodying your truth.

The new website will host the same great blogs that have been available on the LIES That Limit™ site.  We invite you to subscribe via RSS, Facebook or Twitter so you won’t miss any of the inspiration shared daily.  And we welcome guest bloggers interested in helping others through telling the stories of their life lessons learned.  We invite you to share how you let go of limiting LIES™ and became the Spirit of Purpose you were born to be.

The Spirit of Purpose™ website also offers a toolkit filled with life changing opportunities – the newest of which is “Sacred Circles.”  This one-on-one or group program opens the door to knowing and being your real Self.  Your SACRED Self!  Take advantage of this rare opportunity and join other committed seekers, all walking their path toward Self-realization.

Core Energetics therapy and personal coaching are two additional tools that will help you live and lead with a Spirit of Purpose™.  Contact us at info@spiritofpurpose.com to schedule your consultation and take the next step on your path to wholeness.

Please take a look around our new website and let us know what you like, and how we can improve it to help you reach your goals.  It’s a working, changing site for a growing and thriving community of Spirits with Purpose.  We welcome your feedback!

In honor of your limitless possibilities,

 

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