Archive for the ‘Self Preservation’ category

Control Overreaction At Work and Home

March 5th, 2013

Angry Biz WomanWhen it comes to pressure in the workplace or at home, which situations trigger feelings of overload, burden, overwhelm and stress?  How do you typically react?  Do you freeze up, get angry or cranky, gossip, feel frustrated, or stop working and start complaining?  Do you overreact?

The next time pressure and overload land in your world, shift your old pattern to a more constructive response.

Consciously choose your reaction. Begin by acknowledging to yourself that wave of despair, annoyance or overwhelm as it starts to surface.  Then, take a moment and identify your preferred response.  If you need the benefit of another perspective, speak with your manager or a trusted friend.  Discuss the necessity of a shift in priorities.  Seek out their advice about ways to proceed. You can also solicit suggestions from a colleague.  Or, if need be, take a brief walk to clear your head, release tension and get a fresh perspective.

The trick to handling pressure more effectively is interrupting your auto-pilot, patterned response. Consciously choose to replace overreaction with emotional intelligence and you’ll feel the change ripple through your life.

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Life Coach Lesson: Understanding Your Internal Border Patrol

January 29th, 2013

Border Patrol Image - smExcerpt from LIES That Limit: Uncover The Truth Of Who You Really Are

Through conditioning we blind ourselves to the best of who we are.  We become untrusting, too busy, too intellectual, too committed to rules and ideas that, in the end, don’t serve our growth or expand awareness of our Spirit and Purpose. We collude with the internal Border Patrol, limiting our self-expression and access to what is best and right for us.  We become too afraid to touch our core, our Spirit, our own divine nature.

What’s in the way of accessing your true nature?  LIES – Labels, Illusions, Excuses and Stories.  You allow LIES – the cultural story about what’s true, real, and important – to come between you and your Spirit.  LIES dull the connection to your core and your calling.  LIES enforced by The Border Patrol make you afraid to let your Spirit rule your life, guide your actions and decisions, and keep you aligned with the truth of who you really are.

Convincingly, The Border Patrol will say, “If you start talking about this weird, woo-woo stuff, you’ll lose everything you’ve worked so hard to achieve and acquire.”  The Border Patrol will persuade you to stay out of that foreign territory of Spirit and Purpose and keep your feet planted firmly on the ground.  It will tell you to leave all that nonsense alone, and threaten you with, “If you don’t, you’ll become an outcast, ridiculed and humiliated for your beliefs – rejected by the people who love you.”

Adopting the ways of the world, what you mistakenly call life takes center stage.  Your connection with your core Self is lost.  Soon, you forget you’re the creative force in your life.  You give up authorship.  You lose faith in your ability to be sure of who you are, why you’re here, and what’s right for you.  The controlling, self-sabotaging power of The Border Patrol takes the driver’s seat in your mind.

The Border Patrol is expert at generating fear of losing love.  In reality, no one could ever love you less than this internal agent of oppression.  When speaking to you, The Border Patrol’s words seem logical, make sense and sound reasonable and protective.  After all, you don’t want to jeopardize your safety and security.  But, what you don’t understand is its cunning, loveless nature.  Blindly, you yield to the authority of The Border Patrol, agreeing to live LIES in exchange for a false sense of security.

Talk about selling your soul to the devil!

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Obstacles or Opportunities: How to Respond With Emotional Intelligence

January 15th, 2013

stress and depression, broken pencil, isolated on black

Every day, opportunities are presented to us. They may be disguised as obstacles, problems or issues, but what they really are is a chance to demonstrate our ability to make a positive contribution to our lives or our company’s goals and objectives.

The best way to take advantage of these opportunities is by making conscious choices designed to get you closer to your personal and career goals.

Here are two simple steps that will help you act more mindfully in the face of a perceived obstacle.

  1. Slow down your actions and reactions. Take a few breaths and think before you speak, decide or act.
  2. Then, look out into future and imagine the potential consequences of your response. Determine if what you’re about to say or do supports or sabotages your intentions.

In all areas of life – at work and at home, conscious choice is a necessary component of behavioral change and goal achievement. Make a firm decision to accomplish your goals by breaking free of self-limiting patterns. Simply put, a quick “no” might close more doors than you realize at first, while a well-thought out “yes” signals others that you’re an engaged member of a team focused on success.

Remember:  stop, breathe and think.  Then, select the emotionally intelligent response that will move you closer to what you want.

To make your year more successful and satisfying, learn more about the powerful possibilities of conscious choice in LIES That Limit: Uncover The Truth Of Who You Really Are.

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Happy YOUR Year!

January 1st, 2013

2013 Going Forward ListLike every year in your life, 2013 is YOUR YEAR.  It’s sure to bring you multiple opportunities to live with a clear mind, a grateful heart, and look forward to the next steps on your journey with joy-filled anticipation.

The start of the new year is the perfect time for Intentional Reflection.  Purposefully look back on the year that has passed to set the stage for moving forward to the year ahead. Here are a few thoughts to guide your process.

Assess YOUR YEAR – 2012 – by making two lists:  a Grateful For and a Going Forward list

On your Grateful For list, note all the good you experienced, all the goals you accomplished; list everything for which you’re grateful.  Because we sometimes lose sight of how truly fortunate we are and how much good is ours, you very well may be surprised at the content and length of your list.  Your Grateful For list is a reminder of how wonder-full your life is everyday.

On your Going Forward list, include whatever you’re longing to experience; want to try your hand at, improve, strengthen or add to your repertoire and skill set.  Be honest with yourself.  Note only that which speaks to your heart’s desire and is calling for fulfillment.  Jot down one or two things you’re truly committed to adding to your Grateful For list, on or before December 31, 2013.  Let this year – your year – be the year you take steps to satisfy your deepest longings.  These longings are your Spirit and Purpose calling for attention and fulfillment.

As you move into your 2013, empower yourself with the knowledge that you are the creative and defining force in your life.  Through the beliefs you hold, the thoughts you think, the emotions and feelings you experience, and your daily behavior choices, you shape your life.  That being so, you have the uncontested ability and power to make your life more like you want it to be.

Intentional Reflection and Conscious Choice are tools that can help you identify self-limiting beliefs, release outdated patterns of behavior and make more effective choices – choices that result in greater self-awareness, personal power and success.  Intentional Reflection and Conscious Choice lead to Transformational Change that will help you live better, and more effectively interact with the people who look to you for trustworthy friendship and leadership

May your Grateful For list delight you.  May your Going Forward list honor the call of your Spirit and align with your Purpose.  May Intentional Reflection and Conscious Choice help you make your year one that touches your Spirit, speaks to your sense of Purpose and enhances your effectiveness in every area of your life.

You can learn more about the powerful possibilities of Intentional Reflection, Conscious Choice and Transformational Change in LIES That Limit:  Uncover the Truth of Who You Really Are.

Happy YOUR Year!

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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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The Post-Sandy Gift of Rumi’s “The Guest House”

November 27th, 2012

Many of you wrote in response to last week’s post, “Hurricane Sandy: My Personal Pivot Point.”  Your words were kind.  Your offers of help were genuine and generous.  You opened up your homes, extending an invitation to visit, escape the chaos and rest.  And, knowing that you’re praying for us, enveloping us in loving thought, is uplifting.  Thank you!

One message I received contained an inspirational piece of Rumi’s writing.  I sat with it for quiet a while, feeling into its meaning, acknowledging its depth and significance.  I share it with you, hoping it sparks a flame of recognition within you.

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
 
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
 
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
 
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
 
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Rumi ~

From The Essential Rumi, versions by Coleman Barks

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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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Hurricane Sandy: My Personal Pivot Point

November 13th, 2012

Me in post-Sandy cleanup mode.

When the bus pulled up to our lane, the kids yelled, “Oooh!  Look at your house.”

Looking out the window, we saw nothing but a curl of smoke where our house once stood.  Exiting the bus, mouths gaping in disbelief, tears streaming down our faces, my brother Lee and I ran, trembling, into the waiting arms of our Grandmother.  Our house burned to a pile of smoldering ash while he and I were at school and Granny, our guardian, was visiting her sister who lived a few miles away.  I was eight years old.  My brother was six.

About nine months before the fire, our mother and father left to “go up north to work.” Motivated by a vision of becoming landowners – sharecropper and housekeeper no longer – they left us in the care of our beloved Granny and sent “boxes” frequently.  Though they felt like special gifts – arriving by mail from our parents “up north.” In reality, they were just things we needed.  A winter coat.  A hat and gloves.  New underwear and socks.  A pair of shoes.  All necessities.  All consumed by the fire.

It’s good the fire occurred when no one was at home.  We had so little, it would have been tempting to dash in and save it.  But, by the time Granny and her sister, Aunt Mary, arrived to meet our school bus, there was nothing left – nothing but the four stacks of cinder blocks our ragged, frame house once sat on and a curl of smoke rising from still warm embers.

“Normal” was gone.  We were homeless.  No plates, no food, no table to sit at and eat.  Nothing to wear.  No place to bathe or sleep.

The community – a lot of whom were family members – gathered to help.  Even in that world of stark racial divide – South Carolina in the early 1960s – several whites came forward to assist.  Their concern and generosity were a surprise.  Mr. Rogan, owner of the general store, gave us food.  Mr. Fox and Mr. Joseph gave Granny, Lee and me clothing.  The tradition of the black–white racial divide vanished, for a moment.  The usual walls were replaced by compassion.

While I didn’t know it then, this scary, frighteningly sad moment was a pivot point – an experience that would change the course of my life.  Within days, our parents arrived and brought us back to Bristol, Pennsylvania where we made a new life.

Up north, in an integrated world, I developed a perspective and way of life that differed from the one I knew in our little rural, segregated southern town.   The house fire was the pivot point that redefined my life experience. It set up a change in environment and introduced experiences I wouldn’t have had if we remained in South Carolina.

That fire was the last time something happened to my home that I didn’t plan for, expect or want.  That is, until Sandy arrived on Monday, October 29th.

Wisely, my husband Bill and I evacuated the day before as directed by Governor Chris Christie.  I remember feeling very sad, heavy with grief, as we packed up select essentials and headed inland.

Finally, on November 2nd, we were permitted to return home.  Breathlessly, we drove down the main avenue surveying the homes and streets.  There was evidence of damage, but not bad.  We looked at each other and took a deep breath as Bill made the left turn onto our street.  It was filled with several inches of sand, dried seaweed and ocean debris.  But our house was standing.  No broken windows or missing shingles.  Amazing!

Walking around back, we found the door to the lower level wide open.  Busted, broken away from the frame, it collapsed under the pressure of surging seawater.  Powerful and insistent on having its way, the ocean entered the lower level and filled it with about four and a half feet of salty, sandy, corrosive seawater, setting heavy furniture and appliances afloat.

With a nervous glance, we walked up the steps to the next level.  It looked fine – just as we left it.  The next level was fine, too.  Hugging and feeling thankful, I cried with relief.  We had lost a level of living space, but our house still stood, intact and absolutely fixable, though quite a mess.  What a mess!  Ultimately, the vast majority of the lower-level contents had to be discarded, sheetrock and insulation removed, all mechanical and electrical systems and appliances replaced.

Doing what needs to be done to clear out the ruined, preserve whatever is salvageable and keep up with existing professional commitments, I’ve been overly busy and haven’t taken time to feel my feelings. I haven’t made space for my emotional reaction to this loss.  Someday soon, once all that was wet is dry and free of mold and mildew, I’ll sit down, breathe deeply several times and let my feelings flow.  Right now, I’m pressing and moving through – doing my best to mitigate the damage.

While I’m no where near homeless and enjoy many pleasures and creature comforts I could not have imagined back when my house burned down, I know this experience is a pivot point.  The particulars are not clear at this moment but intuitively, I’m confident this is yet another life-defining event.  How and in what way?  I don’t know.  How will the flood influence the next segment of my life?  I’m not sure.  What’s the lesson in this experience?  I invite it to reveal itself to me.  I’m open to learning and making the most of this important pivot point.

In the meantime, I’ll keep drying out, clearing out, cleaning up and making space for what comes next – lessons, insights, inspirations and changes.  All a natural part of life’s ebb and flow.

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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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