Wednesday, February 27, 2019

The point of power

You have the power to change, right where you are, in the present moment...

For some, the word 'mantra' applies to meditation; mantras used for this are usually common and help quiet the mind's non-stop parade of thoughts. I call my guiding principles mantras because that's often the purpose they servequotes and phrases that randomly show up in my life and stick because they're useful, and get repeated regularly. 

I'm a long-time fan of Louise Hay. I read her book, You Can Heal Your Life, around it's original publish date. While I can't vouch for all the correlations she makes, she popularized the idea of the mind / body connection, and several of her quotes embedded themselves in my brain's deep recesses at an early age.  

I didn't intentionally memorize these. They settled in over the years, unwittingly, and now surface at relevant moments in time. They help me solve problems, guide my actions, and keep me focused. 

Ken Keyes Handbook to Higher Consciousness, a book I read in a college sociology class, offered one: I feel with loving compassion the problems of others without getting caught up emotionally in what they need for their growth. 

I have repeated this more times than I can count, and I've shared it with others who also find it useful. It's like the gift that keeps giving; it keeps me sane, helps me be clear on where I'm responsible and where I'm not, and allows others to have their experience without me getting in the way.  

Be present...

However, the one mantra I say more than any other is from Louise: The point of power is in the present moment. 

Meaning, we only have this moment, right now, right here. We can't change the past, and we can't see the future. We have what's immediately in front of us. 

Choose wisely...

A coaching premise is that we are all "at choice" even though we're often not conscious of this. Not making a choice, or a decision, is also a choice; we're just not usually happy with what shows up when we abdicate our options. That's why it's important to aim for increased mindfulness and being intentional about what we do every day. For example:  
  • What decision or choice can you make right now to get the results you want? 
  • What one thing can you do to support the life you long for? 
  • What step must you take in this moment to move toward your goals? 
  • Does the thought you're thinking right now help or hinder, empower or disapprove? 
  • Do your current actions lead you where you want to go? 

Every moment offers a new opportunity to do something different. If you don't like the direction you're headed, you can change it. If you aren't happy with something in your life, redirect it. If what's in your head is a better foe than friend, change your thoughts (more Louise: change your thoughts, change your life). 

Stay present. Be conscious. If you have trouble staying present, stop and breathe. A few deep breaths will bring you back into your body and take you out of your head, and place you right where you need to be—in the present moment.  

Inclusive, not exclusive...  

And, because it's more important than ever right now, and in our collective conscious, for those who would suggest I check my privilege, I'm blatantly aware of my good fortune: to be born in this particular pocket of North America at this particular time in history, among other advantages, it's relatively easy for me to say these things—and I also know that while much, much harder for many, changing your circumstances isn't impossible, even though I know it can seem that way. For some, the idea of choice isn't even a reality. But that doesn't make it untrue.

I have much to be grateful for, including this awareness. Because of this, I help others find their path and guide them toward change. What a better world we'd live in if we were all able to recognize the power we have in the present moment of our own lives.  

Thanks for being here. 

If you like this post, or this blog resonates with you in any way, please feel free to share it, comment below, or send me a message. I'm also available for one-on-one coachingyou can find out more here

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Anger is an energy

Alone in the wilderness... or, well,
 in this case, on a beach. 
I don't get angry often, and it takes a lot for me to get there. That wasn't always the case. 

A few years ago, a childhood friend told me that my anger scared her when we were teenagers. I can see that now, but when she told me, it caught me off guard. I had no idea, and I hadn't thought about it before. I knew as a teen I could sometimes be mean spirited, and my temper was well-known among friends, classmates, and sadly, teachers. More than teenage angst, I had a mouth only sailors could love. Until my friend brought it up, I hadn't thought about the impact of my anger, or how truly angry I was. Her words made me think.  

We learn to be angry... 

It's true, as a teenager I did have a lot to be angry about. So did my mom, which is where I learned it. I rarely saw her express anything but anger or frustration, anger's close relative. She yelled a lot, swore a lot, slammed doors, and threw things. She remained angry throughout her life, vacillating between anger and depression. 

Later, I brought some of that behavior into my marriage. My then-husband walked away when I yelled during an argument—a wake-up call, of sorts, although it had some adverse effects. After that, for a period of time, I actually denied myself anger, and instead withdrew into myself, not wanting to make waves or rock the boat.

I've since learned that anger is information,and if used right, it's a tool, a motivator. Or as John Lydon sang with PiL on Rise, it's an energy. It's a reaction that masks other emotions. 

After plenty of therapy, and as a coach, lots of coaching, I learned to identify a wide array of emotions, and the many nuances within them. I learned how to respond and not react, and that this is a choicealthough sometimes choosing response over reaction is easier said than done. Still, I sometimes raise my voice when I don't know how else to express frustration. 

That said, I have learned my limitations around arguments. I know I struggle to follow a train of thought when emotions are high, and that verbal communication is challenging for me when I'm upset. I often need to take time out, process, and write. 

Communication, awareness, and boundaries 

I've done some deep work, and gained a lot of self-awareness. Because of this, I'm clear about my boundaries and when I need to create new ones; I didn't know this growing up, and it's in part what drove my anger. 

But here's the glitch in the matrix: when we set new boundaries, we often get push back. Friends, family, coworkers get used to us being a certain way; we taught them how to treat us, after all. When we decide we want to be treated differently and change our own behavior, they may react. It's risky. Relationships will change, so be ready. 

The trick is to not fall back into old behaviors when we make changes

And I did. Recently, I found myself in a situation where I expected a different result. I was Charlie Brown, falling on his ass trying to kick the football that Lucy pulled away at the last minute. When I spoke up, I was lambasted for it. So, I got angry.  

But I didn't react the way I used to. Instead I stepped back even further to assess, analyze, and see what the trigger was. 

I felt that what mattered to me wasn't important. And that rather than solving a perceived problem, which I think was the intention, I felt backed into a corner, like a caged cat... so the last thing I wanted to do was engage further, or talk about what was an 'issue' for someone else, but wasn't true for me. I had to process and see both where my anger came from, and what was behind what felt like an attack.  

By the way, personal boundaries aren't something that need to be shared out loud, even in close relationships, and especially if it's not safe to state them. Just "being" them is enough.  

Trust your insides... 

I have finely honed gut instincts, and I must listen to them. I can't second guess myself, nor question my own sanity. Nor do I need to explain my actions and choices, or defend them.

I mentioned anger is information, and this particular experience enlightened me to a couple of things. 

  • How I relate to my partner: I have a new appreciation for my partner's process when he needs to work through something. Now, when I push him to tell me what's wrong, if he says it doesn't have anything to do with me, I have to trust him. I must also trust that if he does have an issue with me that requires attention, he'll let me know.  
  • What's important to me: I have more clarity about my values and boundaries, how I want to show up, and what I want to write about. 

As with anything else, there are always gifts to be had... that proverbial silver lining. Working through this, along with a conversation I had last week with another coach, I realized (again) I need to: 
  • take up more space
  • amplify my voice
  • know my worth (an ongoing theme here)
  • trust myself, and 
  • take no shit
I wrote these on my bedroom mirror with some new chalk markers recommended by yet another coach/friend. (Watch her demonstrate and find an Amazon link here, and get some motivational tips, too!)

So, with this awareness, I must stand firm. It's not about making someone else wrong, or not loving them, and it's not about excluding them. It's rethinking my relationships, my needs, and my interactionswhich may just be taking back some space, and not having a conversation about why, when the why is personal and not about them.

As I write this, I feel less angry and more compassionate, more comfortable in my own self-awareness than I have the past few days. 

Let anger be your guide...

Anger is usefulat least, if it's acknowledged for the insightful or motivational tool it can be.  

I do feel anger about a lot of things I have no control overto again reference John Lydon, I'll always be angry about oppression. Inequity gets me riled almost more than anything else. This kind of anger can motivate action, but it isn't as personal, so it's not what I'm talking about here.  

Use anger as your "guru of the moment", as Sunseed Roth, my college sociology professor would say. He was referring to anyone we come in contact with, that there's something to be learned from everyone we encounter, but I think it's just as easily applied to situations, too. 

So, what can you learn from anger? Next time you feel angry, see if you can figure out what's behind it. Was there an old tape, belief, or old way of being, an old wound that got poked? If you can name that, you'll take the sting out of the anger and have more power to be proactive, not reactive, because acting out of anger can result in less than desirable outcomesThen give yourself the time and space you need to process it, and say no to unreasonable requests until you get there. 

Let that awareness be your guide. What outcome do you ultimately want?  What do you need to do to get there?  

We all have different ways of being in the world, of expressing ourselves, and processing the stuff that comes our way. Use anger as information, and unless blowing up a relationship is your intention, aim for workability.  

If you like this post, or this blog resonates with you in any way, please feel free to share it, comment below, or send me a message. I'm also available for one-on-one coachingyou can find out more here

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Never too late--don't wait!

Right before Seattle's 2019
As long as you're breathing, it's highly likely there's still time—time to fulfill those bucket list dreams.

Whether you have a legacy to carve, a book to write, a trip to take, a mountain to climb, a new role to play, very little, certain physical limitations aside, is truly impossible. 

Some of our dreams may look a little different now, may require some alteration. But impossible? Only if you believe they are.  

What matters most? That's a question I ask myself a lot because it helps me stay on track. 

When you're 80 or 90 years old, in the winter of your life with more years behind you than ahead, what do you want to see when you look back at those years? 

What motivates you? 

Most bucket list items require a willingness to let go of what was for what could be. They typically aren't part of our day-to-day, so they probably require a little risk taking, a bit of stretching, a sidestep out of our comfort zones. 

But as we cross those items off our list, we're stronger, better, smarter. We never stop growing or learning... unless we choose to. 

I'm all about meaningful learning and development, adventure, and freedom. These drive me, move me to action, and make life worth living for me, whether I'm learning a new skill, reading about a moment in time or a bold new future, absorbing a culture, walking a city end-to-end, hiking a woodsy island trail, exploring an unfamiliar destination, or quelling my curiosity about people and their motivations...  

At work, doing the same thing again and again is a motivation killer. But I'm old enough now that I mentor more than I'm mentored, so it's up to me to create opportunities to learn and stay engaged.  

What kills your motivation? What stops you from moving through your bucket list? Are you waiting for someone to pave the way or show you how? 

Don't wait. 

Don't wait... I think that's the advice my older self would give my younger self. To quote Nike, just do it. 

You've probably seen many of these before, but I'm going to put them out there as a reminder: 

  • Fans of Little House on the Prairie, a popular 70s TV show, may not be aware that the first of this series of books was published by author Laura Ingalls Wilder when she was 64, encouraged by her daughter to document her early pioneer years. Mom and I never missed this show when I was a kid. How tame it was by today's standards! We all have stories... and you have yours to tell. 
  • Famous chef Julia Child didn't learn to cook until she was in her 30s, and didn't publish Mastering the Art of French Cooking until she was 49. She was 51 when her public television show, The French Chef, debuted. And she wasn't even French. 
  • The king of fried chicken, Colonel Sanders, didn't start his franchise behemoth until much later in life—he developed his beloved recipe when he was well into his 60s. 
  • The oldest person to climb Mt. Everest was retired Japanese schoolteacher, Katsusuke Yanagisawa, who was 71, and the oldest to summit Mt. Rainier, Bill Painter, did so when he was 81. 
  • The world's oldest female body builder, Ernestine Shepherd, now in her 70s, didn't even start working out until she was 56. My uncle was a body builder in his 20s, but put that on hold until he started lifting in his 50s. Now in his late 80s, he only recently stopped competing... and winning in his age class. 
If we do it right, with age comes experience and with experience comes wisdom. We've learned from our failures and our fuck ups, our small wins and big wins. Second, third, or even fourth act careers are sometimes the most satisfying, according to those who made the leap and tell the tales. 

Some of the most interesting and successful entrepreneurs didn't have a background in their new business; they wanted to bake, teach, learn, sew, paint, code, serve others, or just had an idea they wanted to pursue. They found the resources, learned what they needed to know, and, likely a step at a time, made it happen.  

The next best advice I'd give my any-age self? Try something new. If it looks appealing, seems interesting, or fascinates in some fashion, try it. You've got little to lose and a lot to gain. If you need more incentive, search success after (pick an age) and you'll find an endless array of inspiration. 

So, what are you waiting for? What steps can you take today that move you through your list, or get you closer to fulfilling a dream? Get specific, and make it happen!  

If you like this post, or this blog resonates with you in any way, please feel free to share it, comment below, or send me a message. I'm also available for one-on-one coaching, which you can find out more about here

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

In the driver's seat

Closed doors don't have to be deterrents,
especially if they lead to the beach. 
Where are you headed? Or, as Robert Kiyosaki asks in Rich Dad, Poor Dad, "Where is this daily activity taking you?"

Between now and the ultimate destination we all shareour final resting place or the afterlife, or whatever you believewe have more control than most of us think about what gets done in between.  

Don't we all want meaningful lives? No regrets when it's all said and done? 

I know I do. 

Early on, I didn't know I had control over my destiny. I made a lot of bad decisions, and assumed things "just happened to me". A long-time acquaintance once observed that I couldn't get any traction; he was talking about my career and finances, but he could've said that about any part of my life. I felt like the proverbial rug was consistently pulled from underneath me whenever I finally got things moving, or found some flow. I was held victim to my circumstancesthey drove my beliefs and consequently, my actions and what I experienced. 

Consciousness is cause? 

This, even though I was introduced in my early 20s to the idea of consciousness as cause, that I could change my thoughts and therefore change my life. I don't remember hearing about deep-seated beliefs, nor how they drove my circumstances, no matter what I did with my thoughts. 

Affirmations are great, but until you know who's driving, you'll only get so far. 
Not-my-cat (aka #nmc) in my suitcase;
he only *thinks* he's driving.

My inner mean girl had my route mapped out. She told me I was stupid, not enough, nor worthy, why bother... I couldn't have whatever it was I wanted. I still set goals, stated affirmations, did the work, and even made progress. But only incremental. I didn't really believe I deserved what I wanted. 

It wasn't until a therapist asked me if I believed life is hard that I finally got "life just is" and that I could make better decisions and consciously create my future. I saw the beliefs that ran my life, and at last shifted my inner dialogue. The words were now just an ingrained habit, so as with any bad habit, I focused my attention to change it. 

Intention, plus attention, followed by daily action, will move you in the direction you want to go.  

The future calls me in... 

My past no longer dictates my future. My future calls me in based on my choices, intentions, and new beliefsI'm worthy, smart, creative, and I can have what I want. I know what I want my life to look like. There are things I must now learn that I was incapable of understanding with the old mindset, and change behaviors that support my direction, but that's all possible. 

Sometimes I detour back and briefly get stuck, make the occasional bad decision, repeat an old belief... but what's different is I now know it's mine to choose, and I see the impact on my outcomes. 

What is it you're looking for? What do you want your life to look like? Do you believe your past must determine your future? Do you have beliefs running in the background that trip you up and send you on detours?  

To find out, pay close attention to what you tell yourself when you're not paying attention, or when things aren't going the way you want them to. That's where the insights come from. 

Own your power, know your worth

And that's where the power is. You can change your mind and change your actions. Daily actions━notice your inner dialogue, write a new script, and choose activities that support your direction━will make sure you're the one who's driving.  

If you like this post, or this blog resonates with you in any way, please feel free to share it, comment below, or send me a message. I'm also available for one-on-one coaching, which you can find out more about here