Archive for January 2011

It’s Okay to Ask for Help

January 27, 2011

For this week’s audio podcast, click here.

How do you feel about asking other people for help?

I’ve noticed that many of us, myself included, get a little funny about requesting support.  While we’re all different and we each have our own unique perspective, reaction, and process as it relates to reaching out to others, it seems that this can be quite a tricky exercise for most of the people I know and work with.

I have somewhat of a bi-polar relationship to asking for help myself.  I can definitely be a “lone ranger” at times and often, especially when I feel stressed or pressured, try to do everything myself – either because I feel insecure about asking for support or because I self righteously think that I’m the only one who can do it the “right” way.  On the other hand, I can sometimes be quite pushy, forceful, and presumptuous with my requests (aka demands) of support (or so I’ve been told).  Ah, to be human!

However, as I’ve also experienced personally and seen in others many times throughout my life and in my work, there is a beautiful place of balance between going it all alone and demanding help from others in an obnoxious way.  This all stems from our ability to genuinely ask for and graciously receive the support of other people.  The irony of this whole phenomenon is that most of us love to help others, while many of us have a hard time asking others for help ourselves.

Requesting support can often make us feel vulnerable.  We usually think (somewhat erroneously) that we should be able to do everything ourselves or that by admitting we need help, we are somehow being weak.  In addition, many of us are sensitive about being told “no” and by asking others to help us we put ourselves out there and risk being rejected.

What if we had more freedom to ask for what we wanted and for specific support from other people? What if we could make requests in a confident, humble, and empowering way? What if we remembered that we are worthy of other people’s help and that our ability to both ask for and receive it not only supports us, but also gives them an opportunity to contribute (which most people really want to do).

It still might be a little scary, we may get our feelings hurt from time to time, and on occasion people may have some opinions or reactions to what we ask for or how we do so. But, when we give ourselves permission and remind ourselves that it’s not only okay, but essential for us to ask for help – we can create a true sense of support and empowerment in our lives and in our relationships!

Here are a few things we can do to have more freedom and confidence when asking for help.

1) Make Genuine Requests, without Attachment. A “genuine” request can be accepted or declined, without any consequence.  In other words, if we get really upset when someone says “no” to us, not only were we attached to the outcome, it probably wasn’t a real request to begin with (it was a demand).  When we ask for what we want, without being attached to the response, we have more freedom to ask and ultimately our chances of getting what we want are greatly increased.

2) Be Easy To Support.   There are some specific things we can do to make it easier to support us.  Such as:

  • Be open to the coaching and feedback of others.
  • Thank people for their support.
  • Let people do things to support us in their own unique way instead of micro-managing them (this one is often tough for me).
  • Allow people’s support when it is offered.

3) Give Your Support to Others Generously. When we put our attention on supporting other people, the universe has a way of returning the favor.  It may or may not always come back to us from the people we help specifically, and that’s okay.  We want to do our best not to “keep score,” as many of us often do, but instead to look for opportunities to genuinely help those around us.  When we do this, we remind ourselves of the power of support and we experience it as the true “win-win” it is.

How can you start asking for and allowing the support of others?  Where in your life do you really want support from other people right now? Share your thoughts, ideas, insights, actions, and more on my blog below.

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The Importance of Flexibility

January 20, 2011

For this week’s audio podcast, click here.

How flexible are you?  For me, it depends – on my mood, how much fear or resistance I have about something, how attached I am to a particular outcome, and various other factors.

However, as I look throughout my life (now and in the past), I realize that the situations, relationships, and experiences that cause me the greatest stress and frustration, are almost always the ones where I’m not being flexible.  And, on the flip side, the more flexible I am – the more peace, ease, and fulfillment become available.

Today, more than ever, we are challenged to be flexible – in our work, our relationships, and in every other important aspect of our lives. However, due to our own fear, arrogance, resistance, stress, and obsession with being right, we often end up being inflexible to our own detriment and to the frustration of those around us (or so I’ve been told).

Being flexible is not about being weak or passive.  Flexibility is a conscious choice, a powerful skill, and a valuable approach to the ever-changing, always-evolving world we live in.  We can be firm in our convictions, passionate about our beliefs, and clear about our intentions, and at the same time be flexible enough to make significant changes and be open to new ideas along the way.

Here are some key elements to expanding your own capacity for flexibility in your life -which will lead you to greater peace, joy, and fulfillment:

  • Let Go of Your Attachment – Whenever we get attached to something – a specific outcome, a particular way of doing things, a rigid opinion, etc. – we are, by definition, inflexible. Letting go of our attachment to something doesn’t mean we negate our desire or intention, it simply means we let go of controlling every aspect of it, forcing the action, and our fixation on it being exactly the way we think it should be. This is a process of conscious “non-attachment” (letting go), as opposed to detachment (not caring).
  • Be Willing to Be Wrong – Most of us love to be right and will do and say just about anything to avoid being wrong.  Our obsession with “rightness” and fear of “wrongness” often gets in the way of going for what we want, saying what’s on our mind, and letting go of our fixed ideas about how things are supposed to be.  When we’re willing to be wrong (not necessarily interested in or intending to be wrong), we free ourselves up and give ourselves permission to take risks, try new things, and approach things (even really important things) with a creative, innovative, and flexible perspective.
  • Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously – Taking ourselves too seriously (something which I know a thing or two about), creates unnecessary stress, pressure, and worry.  When we’re able to laugh at ourselves (in a kind way), keep things in perspective, and remember that most of what we deal with on a daily basis in life is not life or death – we can take ourselves less seriously and thus have a more balanced, peaceful, and creative way of relating to things.
  • Go with the Flow – If we pay attention to life, there is a natural flow that exists (although it may not always look like it or feel like it).  The more we’re able to tap into the natural flow of life, trust ourselves and others, and believe that things will work out – the more likely we are to allow things to roll off our backs and manifest with ease.  As Esther Hicks says, “Most people are rowing against the current of life.  Instead of turning the boat around, all they need to do it let go of the oars.”
  • Get Support and Feedback From Others – The support and feedback of others is invaluable in so many aspects of our life and growth, especially as it relates to us being more flexible.  We can learn from and model others who are more flexible than we are.  We can also give people in our life permission to remind us (with kindness) when we get rigid, uptight, over-attached, and start taking ourselves too seriously.

Being flexible is something that’s often easier said than done for many of us.  However, just as with our physical bodies, the more attention we place on expanding our flexibility the more likely we are to do it.  As we enhance our ability to be flexible, our life can and will expand exponentially.

How can you practice being more flexible in your life right now? Share your thoughts, ideas, insights, actions, and more on my blog below.

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New Year, Be You

January 12, 2011

For this week’s audio podcast, click here.

With the New Year still in its first few weeks, the annual “new year, new you” phenomenon is all around us – in the worlds of advertising, media, self-help and more.  And while this time of year can be a great catalyst for positive change in our lives, what if we made a commitment to live our lives in 2011 focused on who we are, and not so much on what we do, what we accomplish, what we look like, what we’re striving for, and more?   One of best things we can do in this New Year is to focus on who we really are, instead of who we think we’re supposed to be.

Who would we be without our accomplishments (or failures), our degrees (or lack thereof), our bank accounts, our experiences, our title, our home, our status, and more?  As simple of a concept as this is for us to think about and discuss, at least on the surface, it’s actually quite difficult for many of us, myself included, to genuinely separate who we are from what we do (or have done or not done).  These past two years have taught many of us, in some cases quite painfully, how quickly the external circumstances of our lives can change dramatically and things can be taken away.

The deeper question for us to ponder here is really one of the big philosophical questions of life, “What makes me a valuable person?”  While this is something we have all thought about to some degree, most of us don’t really engage in this inquiry on a regular basis.  And, when we do, we often think that if we just got more done, lost some weight, made more money, took a vacation, accomplished a goal, had more meaningful work, made it to retirement, or whatever, then we’d be “happier” or feel more “valuable.”  Sadly, as we’ve all experienced, this is not usually the case and is also one of the main reasons why most of our New Year’s “resolutions” don’t really last.

What if, in addition to having important goals, we could also expand our capacity for appreciating ourselves and being who we really are this year – having nothing to do with our external circumstances?  What if just being ourselves, the way we are right now, is good enough?

Being ourselves fully, takes courage, commitment, and faith.  It’s a process of letting go of many false beliefs we’ve picked up from the collective consciousness – that we have to look good, be smart, know the right people, say the right things, have the proper experience, make a certain amount of money, and more, in order to be happy and successful in life. Being ourselves can be scary and counter intuitive, difficult and even off-putting, and, at times, lonely.

However, being our authentic self is liberating, exciting, and fulfilling.   When we have the courage to just be who we are, without apology or pretence, so much of our suffering, stress, and worry in life simply goes away.

Here are a few things to consider and practice as you deepen your awareness of and capacity for being who you truly are in this New Year:

  • Tell the truth to yourself. Think about and own how much of your self-worth is based on what you do, how you look, who you know, what you’ve accomplished, etc. (i.e. the external stuff).  The more we let go of being defined by the external, the more freedom, peace, and power we can experience.  And, as we really get honest with ourselves, we may realize that outside of these external things, we don’t really know who we are.  As scary as this may seem on the surface, it’s actually great news and can give us access to a deeper and more meaningful experience of who we are.
  • Appreciate who you really are. What do you appreciate about yourself that has nothing to do with anything external?  In other words, what personal qualities (of being, not doing) do you value about yourself?  The more we’re able to tap into what we appreciate about who we are (not what we do), the more capacity we have for real confidence, peace, and self love.
  • Practice just being you. As silly as it may sound, we all need to “practice” being ourselves.  We have a great deal of experience being phony or being how we think we’re supposed to be.  It actually takes conscious practice for us to be able to just show up and be who we are.  We can practice alone, with people we know, and with total strangers.  This is all about awareness – paying attention to how we feel, what we’re thinking, what we say, and how we show up.  It’s not about getting it right or doing anything specific, it’s about letting go of our erroneous notions of how we think we’re supposed to be, and just allowing ourselves to be who and how we are in the moment.

Have fun with this, talk to others about it, and have a lot of compassion with yourself as you practice – this is big stuff for most of us.  This year, instead of trying to be a “new” you, just be yourself and see what happens.

How can you accept, appreciate, and simply BE yourself in 2011?  What does this mean to you?  What support do you need in your life this year to step more fully into who you really are?  Share your thoughts, ideas, insights, actions, and more on my blog below.

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Create What You Truly Want in 2011

January 5, 2011

For this week’s audio podcast, click here.

As we embark on another new year of life, I find myself experiencing a mixture of emotions about 2011.  I’m excited about the possibilities of this New Year and inspired by the energy of creation that exists at this special time.  Similar to last week, there is a magical quality to this first week of the New Year – lots of hope and positive anticipation.

At the same time, especially given the nature of 2010 and all the twists and turns last year took for me personally, so many people around me, and in the world, I find myself feeling a sense of trepidation about setting new goals and jumping right back into the mix of life and work.

As it relates to New Year’s “resolutions,” most people I know and have worked with over the years, including myself, have a somewhat funny or disempowered relationship to goal-setting for the New Year.  Whether you spend lots of time and energy creating your New Year’s intentions or you decided years ago that you wouldn’t bother (since in years past by mid-January most of them have gone off the rails or out of your mind anyway); I don’t know too many people who are genuinely inspired, motivated, or empowered by their New Year’s resolutions in a sustainable and real way.  How about you?

Here are some of the main reasons I think we aren’t authentically inspired by our goals or truly empowered to manifest them:

  • Our “goals” are often about fixing what we think is wrong with us.
  • Once we set them, we feel a sense of pressure to make them happen.
  • We worry that we won’t accomplish or achieve what we want, and then we’ll feel like failures.
  • We don’t get the kind of support we really want and need.
  • We forget that our intentions are designed to support us, not stress us out.
  • We get too focused on the outcome and forget about the experience.
  • We allow competition and scarcity take over.
  • We get all excited about them at the beginning of the year, and then forget about them

For these and other reasons many us either don’t set powerful intentions for the New Year or we do so out of fear in a way that creates more stress in our lives.  One of the best things we can do to shift our perspective about this and create an empowering relationship to our process of setting goals for 2011 is to understand some key distinctions – intentions, goals, and actions.

Intentions – Our intentions are states of being and authentic desires.  In other words, we may have an intention to be peaceful, grateful, joyous, loving, successful, healthy, wealthy, or more.  Our intentions are our high ideals and are usually at the root of our motivation for any of our specific goals (i.e. “why” we want to do, accomplish, or experience something).  Most of us don’t really want goals like a new relationship, more money, or a fit body simply for the sake of those things themselves – we want them (or others) because of what we believe we will experience by having them in our life.  By starting with our intentions, we get right to the source of what we truly want.  Intentions are the core and the magic of all of our goals and desires.

Goals – Effective and powerful goals are ones that are specific and measurable.  We want to be able to track our progress and know for sure if we are reaching our goals or not.  This doesn’t have to be a competition (with others or ourselves) and doesn’t have to be filled with stress, pressure, shame, or guilt (which is sadly how we often relate to our results).  Having our goals as specific and measurable just makes them clear and more likely to manifest.  And, the paradox we have to always remember when setting and working on our goals is that we can’t be attached to the outcome – which will make us crazy and can take us off course with our real intentions.  Our goals simply take our intentions and focus them on tangible outcomes in the world.

Actions – Creating action-oriented practices that support us in manifesting our goals and intentions is an essential daily, weekly, and monthly process of our success and fulfillment.  Coming up with action plans that inspire us, connect to the goals we’re working on, and fulfill our intentions is vital to all of this.  This is where the rubber meets the road, and is often the place where things break down for us.  The breakdown with actions usually has more to do with a lack of support and accountability (which then allows us to let circumstances take over and causes us to lose focus) than it does with any “failure” or “weakness” on our part.  Having practices that support us and help us take the baby steps needed to manifest our goals and intentions is such an important piece of puzzle.

Here is an example of how this could look in a specific area of life.  Let’s say you have a desire to make more money (which is a very common one that many of us have, especially these days).  Start with your intention.  For example, “My intention is to experience a real sense of abundance, peace, and freedom with money and to easily manifest income.”  Then create a specific measurable result-oriented goal.  “I will generate $100,000 by 12/31/2011.”  The next step is to come up with a few related actions/practices.  “I will read three or more books this year on manifesting money. I will set up two or more meetings per month to talk to people about new money-making ideas. I will make a plan each month for specific things I can do to increase my income.”

The final piece of the process is creating some kind of regular accountability and support structure for this.  You can hire a coach, join a mastermind group, create a success/ accountability partnership with a friend, and more.  Having someone or a group of people you make commitments to and whom you empower to hold you accountable will make all the difference in the world.

Have fun with this.  Don’t take it or yourself too seriously…it’s just life, you’re allowed to make mistakes, screw things up, and fall down (which we all do and always will).  Be kind to yourself in this process and in this New Year.  And, when we remember that our intentions (those states of being and authentic desires) are what we are truly after (not the specific outcomes or actions), it can allow us to take the pressure off of ourselves, have more fun, and trust that things will manifest as they are meant to – especially if we open up and let them show up!

What are your most important intentions for 2011?  How can you create empowering support and accountability for your goals and actions in this New Year so that you can manifest what you truly want in 2011. Share your thoughts, ideas, insights, actions, and more on my blog below.

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