Why

Stop Looking for the Why

For years I read self-help books and worked with psychiatrists to uncover what was wrong with me. Why was I the way I was? Why did I act a certain way? What was the root issue? What was wrong with me? I wanted to know so I could then fix it. The truth I discovered was that knowing the inceptive why is not necessary. We only need to choose a different path.

WhyIt is helpful to become aware of one’s thoughts, beliefs, and actions. But it is not necessary to find the root cause or initiator of those tendencies. When we recognize the basic factors which explain our tendency toward these unwanted behaviors, we have all we need to fix them. We don’t need the initial starting point of the issue. We just need to have awareness of when we are acting that way, to accept that this is our current state, and then to choose a new thought, belief, or behavior. That’s it. Just recognize that this thought, belief, or action is not working for you, and then explore how you can in the moment make it better. What is important is choosing what you want, not getting stuck in the unending search for the definitive why.

I believe growth is never ending. If we are not growing, we are not living. Right now, I am working on having true, unconditional, complete self-love. It’s challenging. This weekend was especially tough, so I asked my coach (all the best coaches have coaches) if she could help identify my block(s) to self-love. Her intuitive response was that there wasn’t necessarily a block. It was more like a phase. Just like a young child who is having an uncomfortable growth spurt or losing their teeth, now was my time to grow into self-love. There was no root-cause block, nothing to fix. I just need to recognize this is my current challenge, accept it and myself, and move on toward love.

Whatever your current challenge is, here are some tips to help you move through your current growth.

First, release the belief that you are broken and need to be fixed. Stop looking for the blame. Stop looking for the root cause of your issues. Accept that things are as they are. Knowing exactly what happened to make your experience what it is today, does nothing to fix your current experience. You can’t change the past. Release the desire to put yourself or others down for your current experience.

Next realize you are not your mind. We often believe the constant monkey chatter of our worries, self-doubt, and negativity are real. In truth, they are just old tapes we are playing again and again. Recognize that you are telling yourself a story and stop feeding the story. The story keeps us stuck in the past and stifles our power. Release as much of the old story as you can so you can start with a clean slate.

Instead of the story, focus on how you want to be and what you want to experience. Even if you don’t know the full picture, start naming what you do want in your life. Start pulling together the pieces of what would make your life better.

Then take baby steps in the moment to move you closer to what you want. If you are used to holding yourself back in due to the negativity in your mind, it may seem impossible to choose differently. That’s ok. Do what you can. Even the smallest new choice can open the way to empower you to make more and bigger choices and changes.

If you feel stuck or are constantly replaying reasons why you or others are responsible for your current situation, stop. Release your need to know why, release your need to blame. The result is usually just beating ourselves up for things outside of our control leading us nowhere. Instead, know you can control your thoughts, your direction, and your choices. Start to build the life you want. You have all the knowledge you need right now to make a change.

Puerta Vallarta peace

Chaos out of Peace

What I really want is peace. Peace in the world. Peace between people. Peace within myself. For me the biggest challenge to peace is truly believing it is possible.

Often when things are good, I mentally, verbally or physically make them bad. Deep down I find it hard to accept peace. On some level I don’t think peace is real or will last. As they say, I am always waiting for “the other shoe to drop.” I see happiness and peace as signals that things are going to hit the crapper at any moment. And if they don’t, I do something to sabotage and dissolve any of the peace I had experienced.

Puerta Vallarta peaceRecently we went on vacation in Puerto Vallarta. We had a great day on the beach then a lovely dinner with friends. On the way home, we took the wrong bus which took us 30 minutes and a mile or two out of our way. I could have laughed it off as an adventure, but instead I turned a wonderful day into a horrible one. I was tired and cranky. I stayed in the negativity instead of choosing the joy I truly wanted. Why do we do this sometimes?

I think the first reason we self-sabotage our own happiness, is that we don’t believe that peace, joy and happiness are a meant to be the normal way of life. From our own experience, through our parents or peers, or what we see in the news or social media, we are led to believe that life is difficult; life is a struggle. We do not accept that it is possible to enjoy peace, joy, and happiness as much as we want.

Another hurdle to overcome in order to have more peace and joy, is to believe that you deserve peace and joy. One of the reasons we think peace and joy will be taken from us is that we don’t fully believe that we deserve to be happy. For me, the thought is if others are in pain in the world then it is selfish of me to be happy. For others, the thought is that they are not good enough to deserve to be happy.

Starting today, instead of creating chaos and negativity, start bringing more peace into your life through Acceptance, Focus and Gratitude:

Acceptance

The first shift we need to make is believing that peace and happiness are possible. That these emotional states do exist if we choose them. We need to accept and truly believe that we deserve and can have peace and happiness. We need to believe that peace is possible in our lives. Embrace the concept, believe it is possible and know that no matter what, you deserve it.

Focus

Be aware of where your focus is. Are you focused on peace and joy, or the fear of losing them? Are you enjoying the good, or waiting for the bad to follow soon after? Be alert and vigilant. When you notice your focus moving to negativity and fear, take a breath. Shift your focus to what you want.  What we focus on is what we experience. Choose peace and joy.

Gratitude

Show gratitude, not fear of loss, when peace and joy come into your life. Say “thank you more please” when times are good. Have the expectation of more good coming to you. Start out with little things. If 90% of your life is in chaos, focus on and cultivate the 10% of good. Be grateful that you have even that little bit and joy, and soon you will see more coming your way.

Instead of creating chaos and negativity in our lives, let’s do what we can to create more peace. When we can all start creating peace for ourselves, we begin to create more peace in the world.

yoga studio

Step into the Front of Life

In yoga, I usually grab the back corner. I don’t want anyone to see me doing yoga. I am recently back to the practice, round and not stick-figure-toned, and usually older than most of the other practitioners. Most of the time, I am surrounded by fit, thin 20-somethings and feel like the ugly duckling so I retreat to the back. However, from the back corner, what I see is not just the instructor but all the participants. As my focus is on them, I find I often compare myself to them. I am not judging them as much as I am judging myself, my ability, and my worth by their ability and appearance.

yoga studioOn Friday I arrived and no one else was there. I took a place upfront because I knew the instructor would make me move anyway. Well by the time the class started, there were three rows of people. I took a deep breath and prepared for being on display. What was interesting was being in front made me less conscious of others, less self-conscious, and less judging. Because I didn’t see anyone else, I could release the comparison and solely focus on myself.

What I realized was hiding in the back didn’t protect me. It actually made me more self-conscious because I saw the others in front of me. Being in the back put more focus on others and allowed me the opportunity to compare myself to them. Being in the back did not hide and protect me, but actually hurt me because I choose to compare.

By making myself first, in the front of the room, I could not see the others. The others didn’t matter when I couldn’t see and focus on them. By putting myself first, I removed “the other” and allowed me to focus on myself. That day in class was one of my best practices I experienced because it was just about me. No comparisons. No self-consciousness. Just doing my best and accepting myself as I am. Because I was not focusing on others, I was able to go within (the whole point to yoga). I was able to focus on my moves, my practice. I found strength I didn’t have when I was self-conscious. Without the yoke of comparison, I was free to explore each pose. I found this practice to be one of the best I ever had.

As you go about your day, how much time is spent comparing yourself to others? How much of your focus is on what others are doing and saying versus what you believe and think? How are you stifling yourself because you don’t think you are as [insert adjective here] as others?

This week be aware of the comparisons and judgements you are making. What do they mean about your self-opinion? How are they keeping you from moving forward? Are they creating resentment and sadness? Then try to shed the comparisons and notice how you can free yourself. When we put ourselves first, we unrestrict our purpose and heart and we are more powerful. Stop hiding behind others, and step into the front of life.

Homer Simpson 300 game

Celebrate Every Day

This is my 300th blog post (or at least I think it is). Woohoo!  I never set out to write this many, but it is great to celebrate the accomplishment nonetheless. I may not have had the journalists and a single pathetic balloon to celebrate like Home Simpson had for his perfect 300 bowling game, but I will take some time today to really acknowledge the achievement, the persistence, and the positive responses I have received. Through these 300 posts, at least 150,000 words, I have sent messages meant to inspire, enlighten, and support. Hopefully affecting those that need it when they need it.

Homer Simpson 300 game
You can find Homer’s 300 game at www.simpsonsworld.com › Clips

In our fast-paced world, we don’t take enough time to celebrate big – and little – accomplishments. In a constant rush to the next event or next task, we don’t take time to celebrate what we have achieved. And because of this, we often feel not good enough, not loved. We feel less than because we don’t take the time to recognize the amazing things we do throughout the day. Don’t make that face. Really, each and every day you do something amazing. You are reading these words. You helped the elderly woman at the grocery store. You propelled a moving vehicle. You took care of your family. You landed that big deal at work, or at least managed not to kill your co-workers. Take some time today to notice all that you do and how it improves the quality of life for you and for those around you.

Now take your awareness out to a larger level and recognize all the miracles and blessings you experience. For instance, you are reading a post I wrote in Mexico which you found online or in your electronic mail inbox and can read it thousands of miles away. Amazing! Have you experienced the miracle of flight? Do you find fresh delicious foods in your refrigerator or the local market every day? Do you have food, shelter, and clothing? Are you able to listen to your favorite musical artist anytime, anywhere? Are friends and family a click, call, or short drive away?

I find that depression sets in when we look at our lack instead of all we have. Spend some time today acknowledging your accomplishments and recognizing all the miracles and blessings in your life. No matter the bad that we all experience, there is always a host of good happening at the same time. When you become obsessed with the bad, stop and refocus. Start listing off things to be grateful for; recount your achievements. By going through this exercise, you not only shift your focus to abundance, but give yourself the love and courage and strength you need to move forward.

Do not just focus on yourself, but be sure to take the time to tell others how much they mean to you. Talk about their achievements. Let them know why and how much you love them. All too often we can take those most important to us for granted. For yourself and them, take the time to recognize the blessing they are in your life.

As you approach this week, find a way to celebrate and appreciate every day. Big or small, what do you accomplish? Some days getting out of bed when we dread going to work is the biggest accomplishment we can have. That’s ok. Celebrate it. Every night make a list of everything you accomplished. Every morning think of five things for which you are grateful. Celebrating accomplishments, acknowledging achievements, and being grateful are the keys to making every day special.

time pieces

Sorry, I’m Not Available Right Now

Part of my day job is to make engagement calls to my career transition candidates. Sometimes I reach them. Sometimes I leave a voice-mail. The one situation that always intrigues me is when someone answers my call and then says in a huff tone, “I’m in a meeting.” Although I’m pretty brilliant, I am not yet psychic. I don’t have the foresight to know what people are doing when I call. The onus is not on me to not call, but on them to not answer.

The issue is not when to call or not, but one of control – or lack of control. Is it a badge of pride in our busy-ness that we have to take a call during a meeting? Is it the feeling of overwhelm that compels us to answer messages immediately to prove how much we have on our plate? Is it the lack of self-respect that we put the caller’s needs above our own? Is it feeling the victim of technology instead of using it for our benefit?

time piecesWhen we reduce ourselves to mindlessly answering calls, texts and emails when we are in the middle of something else, we are not only rude and unprofessional to those we are meeting with, but to me, more importantly, it means we are not being present. If we were 100% present in the meeting, we would not answer our phones.

A friend had the honor of meeting Sir Richard Branson on his private island. Here is a man who heads more than 400 companies. If anyone had to take a call during a meeting, we could understand why he would. But he didn’t. My friend mentioned how Sir Richard was solely focused on the individual speaking. No distractions. No impatience. Just a solid concentrated focus.

It is the same state I can get into during yoga and am trying to bring fully to the rest of my life. When I am “in the zone” during yoga, I am hyper aware of my breath, conscious of my movement, actively relaxing and deepening the pose. I am at one with the pose and there are no other thoughts or actions. Imagine what life would be like if we could approach everything that way.

Imagine being 100% present when your child tells you about their day. Imagine being fully with the one you love, without thinking of how the laundry needs to be done. Imagine focusing solely at the task at hand instead of being tormented by the other things on your to-do list.

One cool thing I have learned about being present during yoga, is that time expands. A 90-minute class feels like two hours. In fact, the first few times this happened, I got worried. I thought the instructor went over time and that I would be late for my client. But nope, same recorded amount of time, just a different experience of it. As I slowly bring this singular focus into my daily life, I find that my work day is less hectic. Time expands with my clients and between clients. What used to feel like constantly being behind the eight-ball, is now a work day of expansion and extra time. Nothing has changed except my focus, my ability to slow down and be in the moment.

Start taking control of your day by first controlling your phone. Turn it to silent and ignore it when you are working with someone else. Then, as best as you can, focus solely on the task or person at hand. Give them 100% of your attention. Then see how your efficiency, joy, and time all increase.

three leg stool

Three-Legged Stool

Yoga is part of my current daily practice. I have been learning many new lessons through the practice which I am bringing into my daily life. Today I would like to share with you three elements of yoga which can be the foundation of how you approach your challenges – on and off the mat.

A decade or so ago, I went briefly to a weekend workshop focused on finding your “one thing.” After the opening two-hour introduction, it felt like a cult and I high-tailed it out of there. The basics of the book and workshop were that if you found your “one thing” then you built your life around it. What I found funny was that some of the participants had been attending these workshops for years and either could not find their one thing or had changed it many times.

I think one of ththree leg stoole issues of the program was the focus on results and the physical world. The idea was to find a singular purpose, something tangible and achievable, and then create your life around that making it happen. Instead, what I have found in yoga and in my own life, is that a focus on ways of being allows a purpose to be revealed, evolve, and lead us on an amazing journey.

The three ways of being I am learning through yoga are: strength, balance, and flexibility.

Strength

For me, this one is easy. My Type-A personality is all about strength, perseverance, and making things happen. What I have had to come to accept about strength, is that I am not strong in all areas and that leading with strength is not always the best choice. I am learning my limits; where can and should I be strong, and what is not in my ability. As I flow more into Type Me, I also am releasing strength as my go-to tool and am learning to find other ways to approach life.

Balance

I write a lot about work-life balance, but balance is more than juggling the things in our lives. It is also about being centered. I am learning to be physically centered in my body on the yoga mat and out moving in the world. I am also returning to being centered in my mind and thinking. Balance is an inner strength and confidence no matter what is happening outside. It is calming the mind.  It is remaining still in the center of a storm.

Flexibility

When I think about flexibility, it is not giving in and bending over backwards for others. Flexibility is about remaining open; it is being a young branch swaying in the wind not an old brittle hardened stubborn branch susceptible to damage because of its rigidity. To be flexible is to be open to what we know and what we don’t know; being open to new opinions, personalities, and ways of living.

Strength, balance, and flexibility work together to create a powerful way of being. If we are only strong, we may become exhausted or rigid. If we only focus on balance, we may never move forward. If we only choose flexibility, we may be swayed too much by the wants and needs of others. When we use all three legs of the stool, strength, balance and flexibility, we create a strong foundation for living.