Friday, August 12, 2011

Obstacles Lie... (Read Time: 2 min.)

Do you believe what your obstacles are telling you about you?

There's a tendency to look at long-standing obstacles as insurmountable circumstances. Far too many of us get caught up in the belief that the problems we face are bigger than our ability to solve them. When you find yourself stuck in a mental pattern of believing that there's nothing you can do about the situation, here's the ONE thing you need to do to get unstuck...

Convince your mind that you CAN overcome the obstacle.

If your mind just popped up with, "Easier said than done", that's exactly my point. You get what you believe. Even though you might be saying, "I can overcome this", what's the real feeling and belief behind your words? What you believe will always manifest in action. If you've been dealing with a situation for years and haven't taken a proactive stance in improving it, guess what you're really saying? "I have no control over this... Things won't change... It doesn't matter what I do..." Is that how you want to live your life?

Your powerfulness or powerlessness will be determined by you. Yes, there will be circumstances outside of your control. Yes, you will encounter bumps along the road. But what is your mind focused on: the obstacle or the solution? Where do you go mentally every time something doesn't go your way? Are you ready for defeat or are you counting on success? It's a mindshift and it won't get made without a commitment to do so.

So here's the commitment: Use the next seven days to deliberately say a positive word about everything. This is a tall order so get yourself ready.

For example, if you have a long commute to work and you get in your car every morning thinking "There's probably going to be traffic", that's what Norman Vincent Peale (in The Power of Positive Thinking) calls a little negative. Reframe that. Instead of expecting the obstacle (traffic), expect a positive outcome. It doesn't have to be Pollyannaish in nature but you can choose to think "I'm going to have an enjoyable ride into work." Now you might still get traffic but if your mind is focused on having an enjoyable ride then you'll bring an audio CD or your ipod and listen to music or podcasts you love. Either way, the trip is enjoyable.

Join me for the next seven days and cleanse your mind.


"A mind free of negatives produces positives,

that is to say, a clean mind will deliver power."

- Norman Vincent Peale

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

7 Signs That Guilt is Running Your Life (Read Time: 3 min.)

How many times have you made decisions based on an overwhelming sense of obligation?

What, in your past, makes you feel indebted to act or behave in certain ways in the present?

What particular choices or situations of yesterday still haunt you today?

If you can answer any of the above questions, you know what it means to live with guilt. We talk about guilt in logical, intellectual terms. People say "Guilt is a useless emotion" or "Guilt is a waste of time" or "Everybody makes mistakes. The point is to move on." All of those statements are true but the problem with those statements is that no matter how many times you tell them to yourself, there are still moments (or minutes, hours, days, weeks, months or decades) where guilt creeps in and takes over.

Guilt is like a bacteria: without proper treatment, it spreads.

But how do you get over the guilt of poor choices made in the past when you live today with the consequences of those actions?

How do you let go of what you "should've" done when what you're doing now still isn't getting you what you really want?

I will answer those questions in my next blog post but before you can even tackle the "what's next" of guilt, you have to get very clear on the extent to which guilt is running your life. Many people think that their lives are run by things like loyalty, commitment and integrity. While that's noble, guilt oftentimes masks itself as one of these noble three. It's important that you know what drives your life so you can sufficiently and completely take your place behind the wheel.

Here are seven signs that guilt is running your life:

1) You do things you don't want to do because you feel you "owe" it to people.

2) You don't take risks or step out in life because you remember what it cost you to do that the last time and you'd rather not step out only to lose again.

3) You apologize ALL the time to EVERYONE about EVERYTHING, even when what you're apologizing for is not your fault.

4) You mentally beat yourself up for past choices and use criticism to force yourself to do the "right" things now.

5) You overcompensate in relationships by being the person who gives the most, takes the most, offers everything and asks for nothing in return.

6) You accept whatever people give you and think that you "deserve" it.

7) You allow other people to throw the past in your face and continue to operate in repentance mode with that person... and the debt never gets paid, you never get healed, and forgiveness isn't given (for you or them).

As you can probably tell by now, living with guilt is a horrific way to live... and yet so many of us do it. Why do we choose to let guilt drive our lives and what can we do to change?

Stay tuned for my next post and find out...

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Is Your Inner Child Angry? (Read Time: 4 min.)

Ever find yourself in a rage about what's missing in your life?
Do you ever hit a breaking point where you're fed up with doing everything for everyone except yourself?
Have you ever gone to bed or woken up angry because you're tired of feeling the weight of the world on your shoulders and no one to help you carry the load?

That anger is your inner child throwing a tantrum. It isn't pretty but it is a powerful warning sign that your most important needs aren't being met. Before you say something you don't mean or do something you'll later regret, you need to stop, breathe and parent your inner child effectively.

As children, most of us lacked the authority or vocabulary to say to others, "Enough. You're putting too much on my shoulders. Let me be a child." In fact, many of us saw taking on parental burdens as a way of being "good." What we didn't know then is how deeply embedded both our anger and our grief would be about the fact that we were not allowed to be children cared for in the way that children deserve.

What ends up happening, then, is this suppression of resentment that we aren't able to voice as children. It lives below the surface until, as adults, someone or something, triggers old pain. When we feel as if we're being pushed to the limit emotionally or physically, that inner child lashes out in defiance, "Don't put that on me! I can't do all of this! Let me be a child!"

As adults, that can show itself as irritability, moodiness, withdrawal, rage and even sadness. But the real work of healing comes not in demanding that other people step up to the plate. The answer lies in accepting the fact that you don't always have to.

Your inner child may feel like he or she requires other people's participation to feel safe but the only person's involvement that is needed is yours. As the inner parent to your inner child, you have the right and responsibility to protect his/her sense of safety, security and childhood. You can say no to people, requests, and situations. It's okay to say yes to what you need. It's healthy to acknowledge where you feel overwhelmed or stressed. The goal is not to stop the anger but to channel the hurt into a space of healing.

How do you do that?

Here are three ways:

1. Make the moment safe. Sometimes, you'll have an inner child tantrum where needs can't be met in that moment. If you're at work and your boss has requested you stay late to work on a new project and you've got three other unfinished projects, a doctor's appointment at five, and still have to do grocery shopping for the kids' dinner tonight, you won't be able to say 'No' to everything and sit for an hour to meditate. You will feel stressed, pressed and maybe depressed. What you can do in that moment is remind yourself that no matter how many different directions you're pulled in, your responsibility is to do the best you can with what you have... and not worry about the rest. Make the moment safe by reminding yourself that it's not about living up to other people's expectations. It's about knowing what your boundaries are and honoring those as strengths and not weaknesses.

Give up the "I'll make it work at all costs" attitude. Instead, say to yourself "I will do the best that I can and that is good enough. Whatever doesn't get accomplished today will be available to accomplish tomorrow. I have time and I'm using it well." Keep saying that until your inner child feels calm, less pressured and safe."

#2- Ask for what you need and give it to yourself. When your inner child is acting out, ask the quesiton, "In this moment, what do I need? What can I give myself that would make me feel peaceful?" Sometimes what you need is a long walk alone. Other times, it's an intense gym session. At other times, it'll be a good cry. Whatever it is, acknowledge things that you can give to you... and then give it.

#3- Separate the perception from the people. Children like to blame other people for their problems. That's how they intepret their personal power. With a child, it's "She made me do it!" or "He wouldn't let me" or "If you'd done this, I would've done that." Those excuses are normal for children but they won't get you very far in adulthood. When the inner child is throwing a tantrum, we need to be very quick about keeping the focus on inner work and not outer expectations. People won't always know what you need or how to provide it. That's why you have the ability to meet your own needs. There is nothing that you need that you can't provide. Don't take offense when others lack the knowledge or ability to make you feel safe or secure. Oftentimes, they don't know how and even their attempts make things worse. Resist the temptation to accuse people of not being on your side simply because they don't fully understand your perspective. Those who love you are responsible for loving you, not parenting you. That is a role only you can fill.

At the end of the day, your inner child will throw tantrums. He or she will get upset. As long as there are unhealed places, there will be pain-filled triggers. Don't worry about the triggers. Be prepared to handle them as they arise. Stay focused on parenting, not on projecting and your inner child will learn that peace, like change, is an inside job.

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