self love

Love Starts with You

Many of the people I work with are like me. They are givers. They sacrifice for others. They support others. They give love. They want to make the world better. But in their attempt to give, they forget to give to the most important person – themselves.

Over the years, I have worked personally on this concept, learning to recognize my needs and give to myself. The theme of giving to myself has taken many forms. First, it was the realization that giving to myself was even an option. I believed it was better to give than to receive. I shunned the idea that it was possible and not selfish to receive. After chipping away my badge of martyrdom I began to identify my needs and accept that I deserved to receive what I needed.

Next, I learned how to receive. For those of us focused on others, the concept of receiving is new. Our kneejerk reaction is to say no, to minimize our needs, because receiving is “taking” from another. The truth is we deny others the gift of giving when we refuse to accept their gift. Eventually I learned to accept with gratitude and joy.

The latest incarnation of learning to receive is on a deeper level. Uncovering my needs and learning to receive are skills. The lesson this time is not a skill but a new way to live; something to experience every day. What I realized was that on the deepest level I was not living what I believed. Daily I tell individuals that to identify, ask for, and receive what they want, they must first love themselves. But I was not.

“Beware of the naked man that offers you a shirt” is an apt African proverb for this situation. Here I was telling my clients to do what I was not doing myself. On the deepest level I was not living self-love. My theme for 2017 is integrity. According to Merriam-Webster, integrity means “the quality or state of being complete or undivided.” My desire is to live in integrity, saying what I mean and meaning what I say, and to live wholly and complete. I vow to fully and entirely walk my talk. I desire to fully embrace and love who I am as I help others do the same.

self love

For the past months, I have been working with Wendy Doman on both my physical and emotional health. She gave me homework, and like many of my clients, I initially refused to do the homework. I knew what she was trying to accomplish and I understood the need cognitively. But understanding was not enough, I needed to act to really make a change.

Wendy told me to 1) look in the mirror every day and find something I love about myself and 2) to look in my own eyes and tell myself I love me. Makes sense right? Here were two easy ways to identify and proclaim self-love. But I didn’t want to do it. Like any important shift, at first I was resistant.

When I finally pushed aside the excuses and looked myself in the eyes, I changed. It was amazing. Not only did I shift emotionally but I shifted physically.

Without self-love we can not give love. Without self-love we are not truly living. Without self-love nothing we do matters. You can’t truly love someone, love life, or be loved, until you first love yourself.

No one can give you love without you first being open to receiving love. You have to gift yourself with love.

No possession, status, or job can give you love.

You have to give yourself the gift of love. Then you can receive more love and you can give more love.

Education is something I always invest in. What you learn you get to keep, no one can steal it. Same with self-love. No one can steal, break, or affect your self-love unless you let them. You own it. It is yours. It is your strength and foundation which, if you can embrace it, no one can tarnish it.

Take a few moments to look yourself in the eyes and embrace your self-love. Then join in my new mantra: “I love myself. I give love. I receive love. I am loved. I am love.” Love is what the world needs more of and it starts with you.

gifts

The Joy of Giving

This year I participated in a gift tree for the children of workers in my area. It was fun to go out and buy for young children and especially to wrap up the gifts. I don’t know why, but there is such joy in wrapping and seeing a wrapped gift. Maybe it is the unnecessary beauty added to something mundane. Maybe it is the sense of the unknown and the anticipation. Maybe it is seeing something special amidst the blandness of the rest of the house. No matter the reason, I hope the wrapped presents and the gifts themselves bring as much joy to the children as they did for me.

What has your gift giving been like this year? Has it been a hassle to go out into the cold and buy an obligatory gift for the aunt you only see once a year? Are you worried about the added expense of the holidays? Are you feeling resentful that what you normally give is nowhere near what you receive? Perhaps it is time to rethink giving.

giftsGiving should be from the heart. It is not an obligation or a social necessity. The joy I received from the gifts I purchased is because, first, I decided to give. No obligation was in place. I choose to give. Second, I choose to give to the children of people who have gifted me throughout the year. It was personal and heartfelt. I wanted to show my appreciation. Third, they won’t even know it is from me. The gifts are from “Santa” and neither the children nor the workers will know who it came from. This takes out the personal element and makes it magical. I secretly gave. They receive with general, not specific, gratefulness. The entire exercise is bigger than us all.

This season explore the joy of giving.

Choose to Give

Look at your gift buying list. Really look at and connect with each name. Consciously choose to give. Remove obligation. Remove the thought that you will be a pariah if you are the only one who does not give. Truly look at the other person. What makes them special in your eyes? What do you want to thank them for? What is going on in their life; could they use a little joy and love? Then choose to give to them from your heart.

Give with Intention

Why are you giving to the person you are gifting? Do you want to thank them? Do you want them to know they are loved? Do you want to make them feel better after a tough year? Don’t just give a thing. Give an intention for their well-being.

Give without Expectation

Make it about them, not you. Don’t try to give a better present than your siblings. Don’t give to receive gratitude. Give with a presence of anonymity. You can still put your name on the present, but remove all of your expectations for what “should” come back to you. Truly give to the other with no expectation to receive back.

And remember that giving does not just mean material things. Don’t just give tangible presents but give of your presence. Be aware of those around you and be wholly present for them. Give compassion to those you love, and those who trigger you. Give kindness; as the stores get busy consciously give kindness to the store clerks and other shoppers.

This holiday season bring back the joy of giving . . . and notice the ten-fold joy returned to you.

anger

Healthy Expression

I always cheer up immensely if an attack is particularly wounding because I think, well, if they attack one personally, it means they have not a single political argument left. – Margaret Thatcher

The news about the US Presidential election is filled with anger these days. No matter what side of the election you are on, I am sure you can state case after case of anger, hatred and attacks – verbal and physical.

The need and ability to share our honest feelings is human, natural, and necessary. Many of us feel the need to express outrage, fear, and anger. And we do have the right to express our thoughts and feelings – but how we express them can change their impact on others and ourselves.

angerA friend told me that other day, “I am going to post what I think on Facebook and if my friends don’t understand, that is their issue not mine.” And it is true. Other people’s reaction to our beliefs is not our business. We are not responsible for their reactions.

And I also believe that the way in which we share our feelings has a strong impact on how others react.

Are we stating a difference in dogma or attacking someone’s character?

What adjectives are we using for those who disagree with us? Are they necessary? Are they petty? Are they fact or opinion?

Is how we are stating our views clearly expressing our intent or are they worded in a way to incite others to defend themselves?

What is our desire in sharing our thoughts? Is how we are wording our feelings going to help or hurt our desire for others to understand?

Besides the positive or negative effects of our words on others, we also need to consider what our words are doing to ourselves. Remember my recent post about every force has an equal and opposite force? Are we putting out a force that we would like to receive back? Or is our own anger and hatred sending the same negative energy back on us?

A great book called Power vs. Force delves into the energies behind our words. His premise is that there is a vibrational energy behind our words and feelings. I don’t want to debate the scientific theory behind this, but I ask you to notice your own experience. When you are angry or say hateful words, how do you feel? How about when you tell someone you love them, how does that affect your body and mind?

Bringing this back to my point, as you share your thoughts about the upcoming election (or any other heated topic) how do your words feel to you? Are they bringing you peace and calm or raising your blood pressure? If you do not care how others react to your words, notice how you are reacting to your own words. Look back at what you wrote and see how you can express your viewpoint in a way that does not attack or alienate others. If you switch the words to be more palatable to you, notice how your message may be easier to be heard by others – no matter their views.

If you are like me and are looking for ways to make this upcoming election have more positive energy, join me, James Twyman, and others as we hold a space of peace, compassion, and understanding during the debates and rallies. Hopefully together we can stop the tide of anger and return again to intellectual debate.

hard work

Is Hard Work Overrated?

Have you ever tried to make something work, but feel blocked and inefficient?

Have you ever been frustrated because no matter how hard you try you just don’t get what you want?

Has your hard work and sweat equity lacked the payoff you desire?

hard workFor decades we have bought into the idea of no pain, no gain. We have believed that persistent stubborn effort is needed to get anywhere in this world. We believe life is hard and difficult. We believe that life is a struggle. We believe as Colin Powell said, “A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.”

What if we are wrong?

Before becoming a Recovering Type A, I was a dogmatic, controlling, persistent, nose to the grindstone, timeline driven, checkbox checker, diligent hard worker. The effort I was making was not fun. I was so stressed and consumed by work that I did not enjoy life. Getting things done took precedence over those I love in my life. I believed in the hard work Colin Powell professed, but it wasn’t making me happy and it was not providing me with the results I desired. I respect Colin Powell, and I also have to respectfully disagree with his quote. Dreams DO become reality through magic. Sweat, determination and hard work may actually hinder, not help us, get where we want to go.

Over the past year, I have received my dreams by replacing stubborn determination with inner peace, replacing sweaty, hard work with passionate effort, and by being clear about what I really want. Not only am I receiving my dreams, but sometimes I have been given opportunities – amazing opportunities like living in Mexico – larger and more in line with my heart than my mind would have ever imagined. And I received all of this while I am enjoying my work, enjoying more moments in my day, being present with those I love, enjoying the beauty of nature, seeing the magic in every moment, and being astounded with coincidences which bring me more of what I desire. So how does it work you wonder?

Here are the three pieces which need to be in place to make your dreams come true through magic, not hard work:

  • Be Open to Receive: What are your deep beliefs about life? Is the world a supportive loving place or one of hardship? Do you believe you deserve to receive your dreams or are your personal sins or the injustices others experience reasons you should deny yourself joy? To experience an amazing life, you need to be a clean channel of receiving. Remove all doubt. Remove your past experience, familial beliefs, or expectations which are not in alignment with receiving magic. Remove your self-creating reasons you should not receive. Paint a new picture of a supportive world and remove anything within you that blocks that good. Make these changes deep within yourself. Much is said about vision boards and affirmations, but if your visual and auditory wishes do not match your internal energy, they are headed nowhere. Ensure you have clean energy ready to believe and receive.
  • Be Clear About What You Want: I am not talking about the red sports car and Tahitian vacation. Be clear about how you want to experience your life. Do you want calm peaceful days or adrenaline-filled adventure? Do you want a regimented work schedule or flexibility throughout your week? How do you want to experience others? It is not necessary, and actually better, if you don’t have all the details. Instead know the feeling you want to experience. Know the tenor of how you want to spend your days. Don’t look at the “how” you are going to make it happen, but focus on the “what” you will experience and the “why” you want to experience it. For example, for years I focused on the “how” of coaching in the forms of specific marketing campaigns, events, or coaching programs all with limited results. Now I focus on the “why” I coach (helping others escape the pain like I was in) and the “what” (my ability to mentor individuals to their own empowerment and enlightenment) and look for the ways which appear that give me the “how” needed to experience my why and what. I also focus on the “what” I want to experience in my personal life (flexible, easy going days filled with sunshine) and the “why” I want it (it makes my heart sing).
  • Take Fun Baby Steps: Magic only works if we take the first step. Even the tiniest baby step in the direction we want, can result in magic meeting us more than halfway. It does not have to be, and usually isn’t, a Herculean task – but it does require some effort. Throughout your day determine if what you are doing is bringing you closer to or further from the way you want to experience life and the gift you have to share with the world. Then adjust your efforts to be more in alignment. That is it. Small simple adjustments on a daily basis. If you try to push your effort or force things to happen in the way or the timing you imagine, you are actually hindering the process. The effort should be fun and easy. It can be a challenge at times, but if the action feels joyful and in alignment, you are on the right path.

As these concepts are counter to how we have been taught, they can be hard to embrace. Start one by one and build up your strength in each one. Over time you will find a new rhythm which flows you into your dream life without all that pesky hard work and struggle.