Archive for March 2009

We Teach Best What We Most Need to Learn

April 1, 2009

I’ve been humbled by some recent critical feedback.  It seems that some people close to me, both personally and professionally, have been quite frustrated with me – especially as I ramp up for the release of my new book.  Ironically, the things they’re upset with me about have to do with the exact things I teach – appreciation, authenticity, positive communication, keeping things in perspective, and more.

Although my ego wants to (and has been) defending myself, making excuses, and trying to justify my actions – it’s clear to me that their feedback is accurate.  I actually struggle in many ways, especially when I get scared or stressed, to practice what I preach.  As I’ve been making my way through my feelings of remorse, embarrassment, and confusion – I’ve been thinking a lot about the well-known saying, “We teach best what we most need to learn.”

Isn’t this true?  So often the advice we give to others is the exact advice we need ourselves.  It’s ironic that we sometimes don’t recognize this in the moment (or at all) and also sad that we don’t give ourselves permission to listen to our own good advice.  Too often, we hold ourselves to some ridiculous standard of “perfection” (which no one ever attains) or we’re too self-conscious to admit we struggle with some of the very same things we advise others to do.

However, what if we did listen to ourselves and could realize that the things we passionately want to teach other people (whether or not we think of ourselves as a “teacher”) are the things we, ourselves, truly want to learn and embody.  This takes a vigilant level of self awareness and honesty that many of us, myself included, don’t always want to practice.  When we do, not only can we grow personally, we can also enhance and deepen our relationships with others and our ability to impact them in a positive way.

Here are a few things we can do to learn from ourselves and use our own advice in a positive, not self-righteous, way:

1) Be Honest – As the saying goes, “the truth shall set you free.”  The more willing we are to tell the truth about how we feel, what we want, and what we see – the less likely we are to be arrogant, self-righteous, judgmental, or defensive with others.  This means we’re willing to admit our own hypocrisy to ourselves and others, with compassion.

2) Have Compassion – Remember that everyone, including you, is doing the best they can in each and every moment.  Having compassion is one of the many things in life that is simple, but not easy.  The place for us to start is with ourselves.  When we can forgive ourselves and get off our own back, we then have the ability to that with others as well.

3) Stop Trying to be Perfect – Perfection demands never work – whether they’re focused outward or inward.  When we expect ourselves, others, or things to be “perfect,” everyone loses.  What if we didn’t have to do everything right, know everything, and always “walk our talk.”  Sometimes we don’t, and that’s okay.  When we stop trying to be perfect, we can accept ourselves as we are.  Acceptance leads to peace, joy, and fulfillment in our relationships and our lives.

Remembering that life is filled with irony and that it’s okay for us to make mistakes, pretend to know stuff we don’t, and act like we have certain things figured out when really we struggle with them, can be humbling at first.  However, when we embrace the idea that we always teach best what we most need to learn, we can create a deep sense of freedom in our lives that actually gives us the space and the power to be ourselves and impact others in the positive way we desire.

How does this relate to you and your lifeShare your thoughts, ideas, and questions about this article on my blog here.

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Letting Go of Worry

March 17, 2009

How often do you find yourself worrying these days?

When I was a kid my mom used to say to me, “95% of what we worry about never happens.” She recognized that I was the “worrying type” and was trying to help ease my mind. Although this rarely worked, I appreciated her sentiment and know now that she was right.

For as long as I can remember, I have been a worrier. I continue to work on this, let it go, forgive myself for it, and choose different ways of being in the face of my fear. And, I still catch myself worrying more than I’d like to admit – about money, about the future, about how things will turn out, about what people think about me, about the well-being of my loved ones, about the state of the world and economy (especially right now), and much more.

However, no matter how much we worry, it never helps. And, as we look deeper at what worrying really is – a set-up for failure, a negative attractor, and a denial or avoidance of feeling our true feelings – we see that it can have a damaging impact on our lives, our work, and our relationships. When we worry, we’re really getting ourselves ready to be upset or angry – assuming something will not work out in the future.

Our worrying not only creates stress, it has an impact (usually negatively) on what we create and manifest, and on our experience of life in general.  Worry is really a superficial emotion.  It’s clearly something that many of us are all familiar with, can share with others in a way that will garner sympathy, empathy, or even pity, and is easy for us to go through day to day life experiencing. However, underneath our worry are usually deeper emotions like shame, fear, guilt, hurt, or anger, many of which are more difficult for us to feel and express.

If we’re able to tell the truth and face our deeper feelings, we won’t have to waste our time and energy worrying.  We can then deal with the root of the issue, not the superficial impact of it (which is what worry usually is).”

There’s nothing wrong with feeling scared, angry, hurt, and even “worried,” in and of itself. These emotions, like love, gratitude, excitement, joy, and others are very important to our human experience. Emotions that are felt deeply and expressed appropriately give us power (regardless of what they are). Emotions that are not felt deeply, that are denied or avoided, and are not effectively expressed, can be damaging.

Worry is always a sign that there are some deeper feelings and issues for us to address. It’s often a good reminder for us to get more real, take better care of ourselves, and pay attention.

Below is a list of some things we can do when we get worried (which many of us are these days, especially given the state of the economy and the world, among other things.):

  • Ask ourselves, what’s underneath my worry (i.e. why am I really worried and what am I really feeling?)
  • Face, feel, and express these underlying emotions – get support from others in this process if we need it.
  • Once we have felt and expressed these emotions, choose how we want to feel and what we want to create, instead of feeling like a victim.
  • Appreciate ourselves for the courage it takes to be honest and to deal with the challenging situations or emotions we’re experiencing.
  • Focus on the good stuff in our lives (i.e. be grateful for what we have, who we are, and what we’re going through)

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This Too Shall Pass

March 4, 2009

Do you ever find yourself stuck in a negative place, worrying that things won’t get any better (or even that they will get worse)? Or, have you ever had things going so well in your life that you just knew it wouldn’t last? If you’re anything like me and most of the people I know and work with, your answer to both of these questions is, of course, “yes.”

Many of us seem to forget that there is a natural ebb and flow to life, especially when things get challenging, stressful, or scary. Right now, there is a lot of agreement in our world about how “bad” things are – particularly in relation to the economy. And while I do believe it is essential for us to confront things in life directly and not put our heads in the sand, it seems that many of us (myself included at times) tend to forget an important truth about life…this too shall pass.

Ironically, this same phenomenon is also true when things are “good.” Life constantly evolves and changes…nothing stays constant. We waste so much of our precious time and energy worrying about things, instead of appreciating and embracing them in the moment. Worrying that bad times won’t pass (which they almost always do) or that good times won’t last (which they almost never do) takes us out of the present moment and causes us to suffer, miss out, or both.

You or some of the people around you may be experiencing significant pain or challenge right now – based on the economic situation or other factors. Or, you may currently be experiencing a great deal of success, opportunity, and joy in your life. At some level, most of us experience a certain amount of real joy and real pain all the time, simultaneously.

Whatever our current experience of life may be, it always serves us to remember that things are in a constant state of flux and that whatever is going on in our lives right now, will pass. As difficult as this is for each of us to remember, especially when we’re scared, it can be a powerful reminder and an important mantra that we hold onto and share with others as a way to keep things in perspective.

Here are a few things you can do to enhance your ability to stay present, grounded, and grateful – regardless of the external circumstances in your life.

– Count Your Blessings – Whatever is going on in your life – no matter how “good” or “bad” things may seem; there are always many things for us to be grateful for. Take some time right now to think about or write down some of the many blessings in your life. And, as a bonus – share them with others today and this week.

– Support Others – Reminding others that things can and will get better (if they’re tough) and that it’s important to appreciate and enjoy what is happening (if things are going well), is a great way to remind ourselves, get out of our own head, and be in service. When we support others, we also support ourselves in a healthy and generous way. And, our authentic support of other people helps make sure we don’t spend and waste time feeling sorry for ourselves or getting too caught up in our own narcissism.

– Reflect on Your Past in a Positive Way – Think back to times in your own life when you’ve overcome challenges and/or created great success and fulfillment. Remembering that we’ve had tough times and risen above them and that we’ve been able to appreciate ourselves, our lives, and our success – can help us remember how strong and capable we are in the present moment. Allow your past to empower you!

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