Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Can You Handle the Truth? (Read Time: 3 min.)

Are you the kind of person who can hear anything from anyone without lashing out?

Can you receive the truth as well as you give it?

Do you listen to people or are you simply waiting for your turn to speak?

What does it mean when the people closest to you feel that they have to lie to you in order to be loved by you?

Oh yes, I'm talking to you... and I'm talking to me. Whenever we run into someone who has "lied" to us, the first response is to say "That person is a liar. He or she lacks integrity, respect and cannot be trusted. I will not associate myself with someone like that." Maybe you never said it out loud but I can guarantee that you thought it. But, here's the thing: people are mirrors of each other. We see in others what we hide in ourselves. And the question becomes this:

Whenever you experience a pattern of lying people in your life,
what lies are you telling yourself and what truths are you unwilling or not ready to hear?

At the end of the day, there will be those who lie to you because lying is what they do. It is their reality and they don't know how to exist in any other way but to distort the truth. Those people, however, will be the exception and not the rule. For the most part, people will lie to you because they are afraid of telling you the truth. They fear your judgment. They question your loyalty. They don't know if you can handle who they really are and they lie in the hopes that maybe you'll never have to find out.

But the joke's on them because living a facade gets old fast. At some point, we all have to show up and be exactly who we are. When the walls come down and the lies fade and the real person shows up, your response to that "real" person will prove to you why they lied in the first place. Most of us don't do a good job accepting people for who they are. We see what they show us and our response is "Be different." Liars get that. They understand that you aren't ready to see them for who they really are, that you wouldn't accept them if you did, and that the only way they can have a place in your heart or mind is by occupying an unreal role in your life.

That doesn't make it right. A lie is still a lie. If you're going to live in truth, you have to be able to receive truth. You've got to believe people when they show you who they are. There is no being real when two people are standing around doing the impression management thing. Until you can stand in your own power and until you can say with no apologies "This is me", you will find yourself surrounded by people who do anything but reveal themselves to you.

If what you want are people who will be real with you, then what you need to do is be a person who can take realness and not cringe, judge, shame, or blame it but embrace it and make clear, compassionate decisions with the information that's been presented. You don't have to have someone in your life who lies to you but you do have to be willing to see and accept the truth when people (in large and small ways) show you who they are.

Don't ask yourself why people lie to you. Ask yourself, "How can I be a person who people feel comfortable telling the truth to?" Again, it's not about them changing. It's about you being MORE of who you are, with or without their participation.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Embracing What Comes (Read Time: 3 min.)

Today's been a real day of me dealing with how other people are showing up in my life... and I haven't been liking it. There have been all sorts of things to get offended by today. When I get a series of "offensive" opportunities, I know that the real issue aren't the other people; it's me. So, here's the question:

How do you embrace how other people show up in your life when you really don't like how they're showing up?

Hmm.... Hard one, right? Right! I was reading "The Art of Possibility" by Zander and Zander today and came across this line: "You see the "stumbling blocks" that stand in your way are part of you, not her, and only you can remove them." There are times when other people's behavior or actions will feel like stumbling blocks. It will seem as if they don't respect you enough or aren't considerate enough or lack some form of reciprocity that you need. The natural reaction to that will be to feel anger, disappointment, judgment, and blame. But what's that going to solve? Nothing...

At some point, you have to remind yourself that everything that you need is available to you. The question isn't "How do I get that person to behave the way I need them to?" The real question is "How do I get what I need even if that person doesn't change?" That one question changes the entire dynamic. No longer is your happiness, joy or success based on someone else's change. And here's the thing: you build the framework and you establish the resources. There is no one person who is irreplaceable in your life.

Far too often, we don't hear that enough. We think that a spouse or a parent or a job is something that we MUST have and can never be replaced when what we're really looking for isn't exclusive to that one person. It's available everywhere and all we need to do is change our mind about how and where we can get it. It's about shifting out of the "You've got to change" mentality and into the "I am the framework for everything that happens in my life.

If I shift, what I need will come to me, regardless of any other person's participation in me getting what I need."

Are you ready to shift? Can you make the change that says "I no longer limit me"? Can you do that? Because the moment you start to see unlimited opportunities in the landscape of your life, you will begin to understand that other people's behaviors, as much as they may appear to be stumbling blocks, have no real bearing on how and when you get your needs met. All of that is up to you...

Monday, May 16, 2011

Getting Rid of 'Just In Case' (Read Time: 3 min.)

Far too many of us have a 'just in case' mentality. Whenever joy or love or abundance enters our lives, we brace ourselves for what's coming next... just in case. We fall deeply in love only to hold that love back... just in case. We take on new responsibilities at work but only go a little above the extra mile... just in case. We allow our true selves to come out in social gatherings but we don't let people see ALL of who we are... just in case.

Aren't you tired of 'just in case'?

You can't be on fire for life if half of you is stuck in the "just in case" mentality. Sometimes we think that keeping the worst case scenario in mind by holding ourselves back is the only way to remain safe in a world that we don't control. The reality of the situation is that only by letting go are free completely free to allow in.

All of this is easier said and done. It's easier to feel 100% open to something whose outcome you're 100% sure of. Especially when life has knocked you down a time or two, it's hard to employ the idea of putting yourself all the way out there. But what's the alternative? Lukewarm is lukewarm no matter how you slice it. If what you want is a life that's full of love, joy, and peace, what you have to give to it is all that and then some.

Getting rid of 'just in case' isn't simply a mantra. It's a clear decision you make to stop settling for "just enough." It's about expecting the best in all situations, even the ones where it looks like you'll lose. It's about not needing to know every detail of how you'll get to where you're trying to go at the same exact time that you so fervently know you'll get there. It's the habit of looking for the bright side of things even where no bright side can be found. There's power in knowing that you can have whatever it is you say you want... even when what you say you want is bound to change.

If you're tired of playing it safe and sick and tired of expecting less than you deserve, here are five steps you can take to get rid of the 'just in case' mentality:
1) Keep your mind focused on the outcome you want, not the outcome you think you can manage. Here's where faith comes in. There's a part of every achievement that's you and a part of every achievement that's God. You have to know that if what you want is for you, there is nothing and no one that can keep it from you. Let God do His part and you do yours. Part of your "part" is keeping your mind focused steadfastly on what you want. God will always bring you that OR something much, much better.

2) Unlimit your personality. Be yourself in ALL situations. Don't be afraid to be who you are. If someone doesn't like you, let them deal with that. Be who you are and do so without apology or regret. When you stifle your personality, you don't give people an opportunity to experience you, to be transformed by you, to enjoy you. When you live your life doing that, you feel imprisoned and there's no peace in that. Don't worry about rejection. Rejection will come. There will always be those who don't like you for reasons you will never understand. If they're going to not like you anyway, why hide who you really are? At least if you're being yourself, when people reject you, it won't be because you hid behind a facade. It will be because they couldn't receive the magnificence that is you.

3) Go for more. Most of us shoot far too low. We have expectations that are far below our capabilities. There's no challenge in living that way. There's no passion in moving forward. At some point, you've got to be about going beyond what you think is possible merely for the game of doing it. Make no mistake. This is a grand adventure. Take whatever goals you have today and kick it up a notch (by 30%). Go for more than you feel comfortable going for. It is in your discomfort that genius will be born.

4) Check your ego daily. In one of her books, Marianne Williamson has said, "Humility is for the ego, not the spirit." Living in spirit doesn't require being humble because that isn't even a part of the spirit's vocabulary. However, most of us deal with our egos on a daily basis. The ego is very good at helping us forget where we came from or whose help we need. It's so critical that you check your ego at the door daily. On a daily basis, you need to remind yourself where your help comes from. Do not be fooled into thinking that your accolades, achievements, and progress are soley and completely because of you. The moment you do that, you are headed for a fall... and many of us live with 'just in case' because when we went high, we paid no respects to the God who took us there and, in that same period of time, we were brought low. Do not repeat that lesson. Check your ego daily and you do this through gratitude, thanksgiving, and praise. God is too good not to acknowledge that your every breath and your every dream comes and is activated fully and completely by Him.

5) Let it go. Holding on to a dream too tight suffocates it. Oftentimes, we hold on because we're afraid that if we let go, the dream will let go of us and it won't be achieved. There's a difference between focus and obsession. Your work is to focus on your goal and to believe, with faith, that you will attain it. Nothing in that describes says you need to spend every waking moment meditating on it, working on it, living and dying by it. That's obsession. There can be no idols in your life that require your ever-mindfulness on it. Goals that you worship are goals that you define yourself by and they are goals that, at some point, you will hit and miss. Put your dreams in their proper place. Keep your focus and your faith... and then surrender all of it and let go. What comes back to you will be far closer to the dream that any thing you can clutch, catch or hold onto.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Is Your Experience Wisdom or Judgment? (Read time: 3 min.)

Ever have a situation where someone shares a choice they've made, doesn't want advice but you can see the writing on the wall (and it doesn't look good)?

When you can see that someone you love is headed down a road leading no where, do you speak or do you listen?

How do you get over the feeling that someone you care about is making a huge mistake without interjecting unasked for advice?

I have had a few encounters this week where people told me about their life situations and I could feel the "No, don't do it!" rising up in me. Having been on the rollercoaster ride of their relationships with them, I can see where all of this leading... even if they don't. As I sat listening to their stories, fighting my desire to interject unasked for advice, the question occurred to me, "Am I supposed to share my wisdom or will that wisdom come out looking like judgment?"

In a little bit, I'll tell you what I did...

Here's the thing: people do what they choose to do. Embedded in that is the ability to choose, the right to mess up, and the strength to get back on track as many times as you stray from it. Somewhere, somehow, alot of us think we have to "save" people from themselves, as if our two cents is the thing that will cause the person to see the light. What if the light isn't supposed to be seen at this moment in time? What if this person has to go down this particular path because it's a part of his or her spiritual curriculum? Who are you or I to tell anyone what to do or not to do?

And, yet, the dilemma exists: uneasiness now or pain later. If you're a good friend or family member and you're invested in the person's happiness, you don't want to see that person fall into a trap that you can see coming miles away. How many partners, after finding out that the other partner had an affair, says "Everybody knew it but me." Nobody likes to be left in the dark. However, there's a difference between revealing wisdom and delivering judgment... and most people don't know the difference.

Wisdom can be shared but, in order to receive it, the person has to be ready to embrace what you have to say. There's no point in sharing wisdom with someone who'd rather live the lie than see the truth. You come out looking like a party pooper and nothing you say, from that point on, holds merit. No, wisdom is requested; it is not unsolicited.

Advice (and, with it, judgment) is almost always unsolicited. Sometimes people ask you for advice in one area and you take liberty to dole out opinions in five areas. At other times, a friend vents because they want you to hear and not comment and, halfway through mid-sentence, you're issuing proclamations and orders. Do you see what I'm saying?

A person's ability to take your experience for wisdom requires that they ask you to assume that role in that moment. Whenever you offer insight or advice on an issue you were not openly consulted on, you are setting yourself up for a perception based on criticism, blame and shame rather than on the true nature of your love, care and hope for this person's happiness.

So what did I do about all the issues and decisions friends relayed to me?

I kept my wisdom/advice/opinion to myself and supported them with one simple phrase, "Whatever happens next, I know you can handle it." After all, when someone wants to share with you their choice, what they're seeking isn't your advice but your support.

Offer support on principle and advice on demand.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Purpose of Impatience (Read Time: 2 min.)

What is the purpose of impatience?
Why is it that when we are doing the most it feels like we're accomplishing the least?
What does impatience have to do with purpose?

I woke up this morning feeling impatient. Things weren't moving fast enough. I felt like I wasn't getting to where I wanted to go as quickly as I'd like to. I felt myself focusing on all of the obstacles (big and small) and even though there were so many great things happening and even though I'd accomplished so much in such a short time, there was no room to notice miracles or blessings because my focus was on one thing and one thing only: what was missing in my life.

I got out of that impatient period as we all do and, from a perspective of renewed gratitude and excitement, I can say a few things about the purpose of impatience.

Impatience is a persistence test. The extent that you are willing to give in to your impatience is the extent to which the goal or dream you are pursuing is not big enough to keep your attention. If one bout of impatience can lead you to give up, give in or take a shortcut, guess what? You're more in love with getting the goal than experiencing it.

Impatience is a sign of decreasing faith. When you feel impatient, there are two major thoughts running through your head: 1) Nothing's working the way it should and 2) This might never happen. When one or both thoughts pervade your mind, doubt takes the place of faith. At that point, your impatience is not so much about the speed at which you're getting to the goal but the lack of trust you have in your ability to eventually make it to the finish line.

Impatience is an inner cry. Whenever we get impatient, it's because our inner child is throwing a tantrum. Whether that child is four, six, eight, or thirteen, what's really happening is this: our inner child wants what he or she wants as of right now, isn't getting it, and thinks that the only way to get the attention and time he/she deserves is by throwing a fit. It doesn't work for toddlers and it certainly won't work in helping us attract our success faster.

Impatience is a cover up for criticism and judgment. Oftentimes, the impatience we feel comes from a deep sense that we "should" have done things differently. There's also, within impatience, a sense that if we'd been more, better, stronger, richer, thinner, or some other category of "deserving", we'd have what we want right now. In this way, our lack of goal attainment isn't due to Divine Right Timing. No, the ego has stepped in and now says its due to our inability to be good enough to get what we want.

Impatience is a character builder. When you can feel impatient, recognize it for the trap that it is, and move beyond it, you are able to decide your emotions and your destiny. By bringing yourself to a place of gratitude, peace, and love, you have won a major battle. Your impatience is not your enemy; it is your teacher and when you can master the class of impatience, you are ready to take things to the next level. Impatience is a course that you'll take every year and sometimes every day. Mastery doesn't mean completion. Mastery means freedom to move forward.

So, if impatience is part of our spiritual curriculum, how do you overcome it?

You don't. You allow impatience to be what it is. You see impatience for the tool and teacher that it is. You identify which of the above purposes of impatience relate to you in this moment and you use impatience to get you closer to the goal, not farther from it. At the end of the day, your job is not to escape, eradicate, or overcome impatience. Your privilege is to learn from it and become more of who you are...

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