books

What Can You Trust?

Like many coaches and psychologists, I have looked at the famous Stanford prison experiment to show how power and perception of rank changes how we treat each other, see our place in the world, and believe in our ability to affect change. The results of this experiment state that those pretending to be guards began to treat those playing inmates harshly as soon as they were given the power. The inmates in turn became depressed and powerless. Truth is though, the experiment, which is still being included in college text books, was falsified. Additionally, it turns out this experiment taken as real for years, is not the only one purposefully or unintentionally misleading.

When I ran across this great article exposing issues with currently accepted psychological experiments, it reminded me of a time when I was doing marketing research for a company. The research did not reflect positively for the goals of the sales department. The managers of the company pressured me to manipulate the research data so that it was more convincing for our clients. I refused. The managers, however, adjusted the results on their own, eventually winning the contract and creating issues when the product did not perform as well as the doctored research.

books
Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

Never in my lifetime have I seen more of a need to qualify and confirm the information being presented to us through books, articles, and news sources. In this time of easy information and no supreme governing body over the quality of information, it is very important to analyze the source of the information, the quality of the information, and the conclusions drawn.

Analyze the Source

What is the agenda of the source? What does the source have to gain by swaying you one way or the other? If your best friend of 40 years tells you that your new spouse is cheating on you, but your spouse says s/he is not, who has the most to gain by lying? Even when I read news from a source I trust, I often look for corroborating reports. I’ll especially look for news outlets removed from the topic so they have less of a tendency to create bias as they have no stake in the issue.

Analyze the Quality of the Information

Where is the information coming from? Is it first-hand experience or a game of telephone? What scientific, objective methods were used? Can what is being told be proved? Is the information presented as tangible facts or conjecture? Is what is being relayed objective or an interpretation?

Analyze the Conclusions

Before we could see the subatomic particles of an atom, we thought the atom was the smallest component and therefore any conclusions around that topic were limited by that belief. Are the conclusions in what you are reading limited by what we currently know? Are there facts missing which would affect the presented conclusions? Is there social or cultural bias affecting what is being presented? Can you see alternate conclusions based on the facts?

If you are only trusting one source, or even one person for your news, you are giving your power away. Gather a broad palette of information and then question everything before accepting what is presented. We can be easily deceived by those who are intentionally or unintentionally trying to manipulate us for their own purposes.

yoga as a daily practice

The Necessity of Routine

After transitioning from Type A to Type Me, I found that practicing a regular routine helped me from sliding back into my Type-A ways. Originally, the practice was reading inspirational works daily, meditating, focusing on active gratitude, and walking. I diligently engaged in these things daily to lay a strong foundation and center myself.

Two and a half years ago, I arrived in paradise. Breaking out of the rat race, I landed in a beautiful location surrounded by calming water and a culture of loving caring individuals. Things were perfect. I let my daily practices slide. Why would I need to have a daily practice now that I had the sun and the surf every day?

Wrong.

yoga as a daily practiceI did not notice the impact right away. Things were good. I didn’t have to maintain my practice to feel centered. Life was amazing. But then it started. Little issues. Little conflicts. Small and big challenges. Without the foundation of my practice, I found myself unconsciously and negatively reacting to these trials. I did not approach them with calm centeredness, but with blinding emotion. The result was the same horrible feeling I had when I was in the deep despair of my Type-A days.

Thankfully things are on the mend. I have committed to creating a new Type-Me practice. And by practicing daily, I am slowing down and being more conscious of my thoughts, actions, and beliefs. I am not allowing my emotions to take a hold of my reactions. And I am finding more peace in my daily life.

Having a regular practice is very important. Times will be good. Times will be bad. The consistency of our practice is what bridges these hills and valleys. It gives us support during tough times and creates even more ease when things are good.

Doing a daily practice is more important than what the practice is. What is important is finding what you need to help keep you centered. Look into practices like meditation or yoga that clear your mind. Find the texts that feed your soul whether they are from religious books or your favorite blog. Engage your body in the movement it desires. Add in practices of gratitude, intentions, and affirmations. Maybe you want to have a bit of a creative outlet daily. Many different tools are available to you to create your own practice. Find the ones that best serve you.

You may also find that your daily practice changes over time. As your life changes, you may find that you need different types or means of support. Just like any diet, your personal practice may change overtime, and if you don’t change your diet you may find yourself stuck in a rut or not getting all the nutrition you need. Every so often look at your practice and evaluate what is working and what is not. As we grow, it makes sense that our practice grows with us.

Do you have a daily practice? Are you faithfully executing it? How do you feel when you practice a few days in a row? How do you feel when you skip your practice a few too many times? What would it take to gift yourself with a practice?

self confidence for resolutions

Make It Happen

Tis the season to make resolutions . . . and to feel heartbroken when a week – or day – later we already broke them. Why is this? Sometimes we set too high and unreachable goals, and should have broken them down into more achievable mini goals that will lead us to our big goal. Sometimes we create resolutions that are negative punishments instead of positive desires. It is best if your resolutions are positive choices instead of self-attack based on negative self-image. A recent TED talk about the importance self-confidence in success, talks about two other elements needed to achieve our goals and resolutions.

self confidence for resolutionsDr. Ivan Joseph believes self-confidence is not an inherent trait, but instead a trainable skill. Through persistence and positive self-talk, you can achieve not only your new year’s resolutions but all your goals.

Persistence comes down to repetition and overcoming failure.

Repetition: Malcolm Gladwell wrote that “ten thousand hours is the magic number of greatness.” This means to become what we want to become we need to study and practice for 10,000 hours. When you look at your resolution, don’t think of it as one and done, but an effort you need to make over time. How many hours a week or a day are you willing to dedicate to your goal?  You don’t have to do 10,000 hours to make a change, but you do need to commit to a dedicated amount of time. As you look at your resolution, plan for time to work your goal, dedicate yourself to this time, and make the effort.

Overcoming Failure: One of the big reasons we don’t accomplish our resolutions is that we stop trying after one setback. “I ate a half of a cookie, so my diet is blown. I am just going to give up.” Learn to accept that failure is part of the process. Some days will be good, some not as much. Don’t let a setback hold you back. Look at the stumbling block, learn from it, and go back to your practice (see repetition).

Self-Talk is the other area which affects our ability to be successful. What we think can either empower or weaken us. Learn to use your mental state to move you forward instead of holding you back.

Fake It Till You Make It: No one else will believe in you, until you do. No one else can give you self-confidence, only you can do it. The first step to self-confidence and achieving what you want is to believe you can. Once you believe it, you will be able to act as if you are already what you want to achieve. This can also be done in baby-steps.  Maybe you want to be a world-famous author, but if you have not written a sentence it may be hard to believe it.  Instead start by believing that you are a prolific writer or a solid writer or even just “a” writer.  Once you realize you have accomplished your mini goal, broaden your mental belief.

Positive Reinforcement: All too often we focus on the stick instead of the carrot. Create a daily routine of positive reinforcement and affirmations. Replace negative self-talk with positive desires. Catch yourself when your mind goes to the negative. Stop. Replace the negative fears and attacks, with thoughts of what you do well and want to accomplish. One great idea Dr. Joseph had was to take the time to write a letter to yourself when things are good. Brag to yourself. Celebrate your accomplishments. Share what is good about you and what you do. Then pull this letter out and re-read it when you are having a difficult negative self-talk day.

As you enter 2018, create some realistic goals based on what you want, not on what you want to fix about yourself. Then schedule time to work toward your goal and be persistent even when there are set-backs. Finally, be your own coach. Focus on the good you accomplish. Stay strong when things are hard. Believe in yourself.

If you want some support with your resolutions, persistence, or self-talk, reach out to me. Happy to explore if we are right to work together.

truth

Reality Check

In our fast-paced lives, we are often “doing” and not “living.” One tool to help us truly live is to hold a reality check every so often.

How much of our day goes by in a blur versus being in the moment? How much of our life is routine versus conscious choosing? How much of the time are we living by others’ expectations and “the norm” versus actively choosing our life the way we want to live it?

truthTake a few moments today to stop and hold a reality check.

Commitments: Look over the commitments in your calendar and note if you chose them or if they were chosen for you? How much of your day is being dictated by others or a sense of obligation? How many things have you committed to which do not bring you joy? What commitments can you remove and which need to be added to bring you into alignment with your truth?

Relationships: Review your relationships. Which are serving you? Where are you giving more than you receive? Where are you being taken advantage of? Where do you need to take back your power? What relationships need to end and which need more focus to bring you more joy?

Health: Our health is often the first thing to suffer when we are not taking care of ourselves. What are your eating and exercise habits? What unhealthy choices do you make when you are stressed? If your life was more in alignment, what bad habits could you release? To focus on your unique health needs, what parts of your life need to be rearranged?

Environment: Is your home, office, and physical location to your highest and greatest good? What needs to shift to make if feel more supportive and joyful? Do you need to make a few small shifts or is it time for a bigger move? What small touches can you bring to all you see and experience to make if feel better to you?

Purpose: Is what you are doing for money filling more than your pocketbook? Is the time you are spending at work worth the time you are away from the things you love? Are you giving of yourself through your paid profession and/or your hobbies? Do you feel fulfilled or drained by the work you do? Is there a deeper purpose you are meant to share which you are withholding from the world?

When you are truly living your life, your unique reality, life becomes easier and smoother. It doesn’t mean there aren’t challenges. It only means that things fall into place more easily. When you try to live someone else’s reality, life is more of a struggle – because it is not right for you. Taking the time to hold a reality check brings you back to center. A reality check focuses you on your life, dreams and ambitions. Taking the time to really review your life, to be grateful for the things you love and compassionately release the things which are not right for you, will allow your life moving forward to be more joyful, appropriate, and easy.

Is Your Glass Half Full or Empty?

Back in the 80’s I remember a song, but not the title or artist, where the musicians ponder if the glass is half full or half empty. The song purported it didn’t matter because sooner or later one would spill it. At the time of my teenage angst at an unfair world, the lyrics spoke to me.

254Recently I received this meme (sorry I can’t give credit), “People who wonder if the glass is half empty or half full, miss the point. The glass is refillable.”

How often have you debated with yourself or others the joy of optimism versus the realism of pessimism? Looking around your friends and acquaintances which ones see the glass as half full? They have a positive outlook and see the silver lining in every challenge. And which of your friends take on the role of Eeyore? No matter what good is coming their way, they view the world pessimistically. They are looking for the other shoe to drop. It is nearly impossible to help these people put on rose-colored optimistic glasses. But maybe the concept of “refilling” can help.

The key to life is not choosing between being optimistic or pessimistic. Choosing pessimism closes doors. It keeps the good from coming to your awareness. It drags down your spirit, and the energy of others. On the other hand, optimism can get out of control. Don’t get me wrong, I am an optimistic person. But I am realistically optimistic. Unfortunately, I see others who wear optimism as a safety blanket against reality. After sinking thousands into a doomed business, they dedicate a bit more because “this time it will pay off.” They stick around a relationship longer than is beneficial with the naïve hope that things will change. Optimism is an empowering tool, but it does need to be based in some semblance of reality.

That is why I liked this meme. It stops the debate around optimism and pessimism – which is just another white and black debate. Instead, it tells us our life is refillable, changeable. At any moment you can choose to have more and better. It does not matter if you see life with pie-eyed optimism or restricting pessimism. What is stronger than either is knowing, embracing, and utilizing the fact that we have the power to create. We have the power to fill our life with what we choose. We don’t have to settle for half of anything; we can fill our glass, our life to the brim.

Look at your glass, your life. How full is it? Are you afraid you are running out of time, good fortune, love? Are you hoarding what little you have left because you don’t believe there is more to come? Are you jealous of others who have more full or larger glasses? Take control of your life. Know deep in your heart that nothing in the universe runs out. There is always more. There is abundance. The only thing that keeps you in lack is your unwillingness to ask for more.

Starting today see your glass, your life as infinitely refillable. What are you going to add to it today?

trapped in your dogma

What is your dogma?

Lately I have been obsession with reading fiction detective stories. In the midst of Tana French’s In the Woods was a passage that blew me away. Three characters have a discussion about the need for some form of belief system and that for their Irish government and society many people see money as their ideology. Here are a few snippets:

“Nowadays it’s not just unfortunate if you have a low-paid job, have you noticed? It’s actually irresponsible. You’re not a good member of society, you’re being very very naughty not to have a big house and a fancy car.”

“If you are not rich, you’re a lesser being who shouldn’t have the gall to expect a living wage from the decent people who are.”

This made me think of the recent movies about Steve Jobs and the so called Wolf of Wall Street. Both showed these men as powerful and enviable because they made millions of dollars. We are supposed to focus on their wealth and ignore how they treated their friends and family. Material wealth is solely valued in this ideology. Personal relationships and common decency are not valued. It intrigued me that even though both movies I saw made an attempt to show these men’s corruption and single-minded pursuit of the dollar no matter who it hurt, in the end, both men were presented as aspirational heroes.

trapped in your dogmaTana French’s book also posits “the body” as another ideology or religion. Having the perfect body. Making the perfect body. Consuming the perfect diet. Tana writes, “But those reports and stuff aren’t just saying things are unhealthy – they’re saying they’re morally wrong. Like you’re somehow a better person, spiritually, if you have the right body-fat percentage and exercise for an hour a day.”

The body ideology is very prevalent in our society. From television shows where “common” people are portrayed by supermodels to magazines depicting unrealistic airbrushed icons to pills and surgeries to correct every minor feature flaw. Many adhere to the religion of the perfect body.

The belief system we consciously or unconsciously accept is the rudder by which we make all decisions, judge ourselves and others, and by which we keep score. We create our life by the ideology we choose. Our dogma defines the playground of life and success.

What is your ideology? What do you see as the purpose of living? What are the guidelines or mores to which you adhere? Look at your ideology and uncover what this means as far as what you aspire to and how you treat others. Does this belief system actually guide you towards what will be happiness for you?

What do your friends and family adhere to as their ideology? How is it different than yours? Do you feel pressure to adhere to their beliefs in order not to be ostracized? Do you have conflicts with others because they don’t accept your beliefs, or you don’t accept theirs?

Whether you call it religion, ideology or dogma, we choose what is important in life. Take a moment to look at what you find important. Is it your consciously chosen belief or just one you adopted? Is it serving you? How is it affecting others? Is it really the belief system with which you want to live your life?