Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Living Consciously or By Default?

against the grainJust because something is popular does not mean that it is right for everyone.

Many times, things become popular because people don't always take the time to determine what is right for them; we simply do what most people we know are doing.

When life is approached this way, it is not conscious living. It is living by default.

Our lives are designed to be us. We were born to live a life of purpose, meaning and joy. But all too often, despite the options available for us to explore, we cave to the pressure of family, peers, and humanity at large to do things "their" way because "that's the way it's always been done."

To live more consciously, it's important that we decide for ourselves what to do with our lives rather than jumping on the bandwagon of popular opinion. Customizing our lives means to make decisions that sometimes require us to go against the grain.

It's not always easy, though. When our friends and loved ones see us diverging from the choices they are making, they may feel threatened, confused, abandoned and become quite defensive.

Meanwhile, we may feel unsupported and misunderstood because we are thinking for ourselves. We may become frustrated and defensive when we have to explain or re-explain the reasons for our points of view.

When this happens, we must remember to exercise gentleness, openness, tolerance and patience. As we communicate why we are making the choices that we are to those closest to us, it helps to do so with integrity. Be calm. Be consistent. Be clear. At the same time, we have the right to ask for our choices to be respected as we respect their choices.

Our lives belong to us. So do our decisions. Every day more and more people are waking up and walking away from what's considered the norm. They are being called to create and customize life on their terms. Those who truly love us will stand by us and support us, even if they may not fully understand.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Honor Your Intuition

Courtesy Google Images
Courtesy Google Images
Intuition is our guiding inner compass, that "sense of knowing" without any logical explanation for it.

It provides us with an additional level of information that does not come from the analytical or rational side of the brain.

It's that feeling that something's either right or wrong, safe or unsafe. You just know that you know, and you have no rational way of explaining it.

When we pay attention to it, it points us in the right direction.

But all too often, people miss their hits of intuition because they get too caught up in their own thoughts to recognize these hits. When we are disconnected from our intuition, we find ourselves busily weighing the pros and cons, or thinking about the "how-to's" and the "what-if's."

Einstein said, " The only real valuable thing is intuition." This coming from a scientist in a profession known for operating from the left side of the brain.

Intuition is a gift that is available to all of us. We each have it within us. It's a matter of recognizing and cultivating it.

To "hear" intuitive messages, you must first quiet your mind. This "hearing" can come in the form of an image, feeling, sensation, even a dream. If you're caught up in the noise of excessive thinking, your intuition can't come through. A short meditation, some deep breathing, or taking a walk will help you to center yourself, but find what works best for you. A general sense of feeling neutral and calm is a good sign that you are centered.

This is a good time to check in with your body and energy. If you pay close attention, you will feel your intuition in your physical body. Think about a decision that's been pressing on your mind. Do you feel a sensation of physical resistance? Tension in your chest, neck, and shoulders? A knot in your stomach? This is your intuition saying "no" to a particular situation or decision.

Are you experiencing a feeling of expansiveness in your heart area? Do you feel a certain lightness of being? Do you feel energized? Do you feel yourself being pulled in one direction? This is your intuition saying "yes."

The sensations you feel in your body are a direct link to the answer that you are seeking.

If you go straight into your head, without considering what you are feeling physically, then connecting with your intuition will take some time. Pause and check in with yourself; note what you are feeling and trust your responses. If you're questioning whether or not you really know something, then you are over-thinking it; however, chances are that if you're not sure if something is right for you, the answer is probably "no." On the other hand, if you know something is right for you, the physical response will be undeniable because your senses will be automatically heightened.

After quieting your mind and checking in with yourself and your body, ask a specific question of your inner guidance system. The more specific the question, the clearer your intuition will answer. It's best to focus on one question at a time. This way, you won't get confused about the intuitive information that you receive. Keep it simple. Note your impressions and/or feelings without analyzing or judging. The second you begin over-thinking or weighing your options, you're just going to confuse yourself. You may want to try journaling for clarity so that you get clear on what you do want versus what you don't want.

Honoring your intuition doesn't mean making drastic, sudden or risky changes. Instead, ask your intuition, "What is the next step that is right for me?" Maybe your intuition is prompting you to leave your job or to change careers. Rather than quit right away, take the time to gather information about your options. Update your resume, explore other career options, enroll in classes, speak to others in those careers. This helps you to honor your intuition, while taking the necessary steps toward the life you want.

Our intuition is what guides us. It is energy, and energy is a flow. This energy wants to move. The more clearly it flows, the better. It can come through many channels. As we open our hearts, eyes, and minds, our intuition will move more effectively and quickly. Our feelings are our feedback to the Universe, letting it know what we like and dislike and what feels good and bad to us. Connecting to what we are feeling allows the Universe to clearly focus its flow in the direction we want.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

From Self-Sabotage To Success

Each of us has the power to make what we want a reality.

However, we subtly undermine our efforts without realizing it. If someone offers to help or support, we refuse. We say yes when we mean no. We say no when we mean yes. We listen to our doubts. We are indecisive. We over-commit. We have mixed feelings or contradictory thoughts. We listen to what others say instead of what our being tells us.

This is self-sabotage!

It's this subversive behavior that holds us back. People seldom mean to sabotage themselves. It's not usually a conscious decision to ruin things -- and that's the problem. We may know what we want consciously, but subconsciously, we get in the way of our own efforts. And then we wonder why things don't work out for us.

The reasons we sabotage ourselves are many. Feeling unworthy is a big culprit. Low self-esteem may drive people to feel they don't deserve success or happiness.

The "it's-too-good-to-be-true" or "it's-too-good-to-last" attitude is another culprit. In this mindset, we feel that something is bound to fail, and we somehow engineer its failure so as to maintain a sense that we are still in control (we subconsciously set out to prove that it won't work or last).

Unhealthy habits such as excessive drinking, drugging, uncontrolled anger, etc. are sure to sabotage our minds, our bodies, and our relationships.

The need for drama also fuels self-sabotaging behavior. This is a need for excitement (through conflict) in an otherwise mundane existence, so the person conjures something destructive, such as a fight out of the blue, in order to satisfy that need.

Sometimes people are so used to things not working out that they'd rather stick with what is familiar (in this case, failure), and so they continue to behave in ways that either worsen or destroy anything promising. Subconsciously, we stick with what is familiar to us because we perceive it as less painful than nurturing a new mindset.

Whatever the reason, self-sabotaging behavior stems from fear and it can wreak havoc in our lives.

It's not that we are deficient in desire, skill, intelligence, or effort. It's our inner conflict between our desires and our feelings of worth and entitlement.

Self-sabotaging behavior ignites feelings of depression, discouragement, frustration, and anger because we are working against ourselves. It will affect our motivation and drive. Whatever strong desires we have, we get frightened by their prospects so we turn to addictive or destructive behaviors. Challenges, growing, working hard, making tough decisions -- this all becomes too much to handle, and so we find it easier to continue doing what we have always done.

But the more we deny ourselves of achieving our dreams, the more we damage our self-esteem and confidence. We shy away from going after what we truly want and then believe that we lack the ability to get it.

People often self-sabotage because of perfectionism. This sabotage comes from feelings of inadequacy, unworthiness, or undeservedness, but those feelings can be overcome with some work, time, and determination along with faith and belief in oneself.

It will take some subconscious reprogramming, that is, unlearning all the mislearning you learned and relearning new strategies to break the cycle of self-sabotage.

It starts with self-examination. Observe yourself. Imagine you're someone else whose behavior you are watching. Rather than justify why you did or did not do something, ask yourself, "What drove me to do that?" Was it fear? A need to control? Spite? A need for attention? Get clear on the emotion that is driving the self-sabotage so you can stop the behavior in a more thorough way. This is much more effective than just using willpower.

Nourish your mind the way you would nourish your body. Focus your attention on information that edifies, encourages, and supports your well-being. Replace your old negative thoughts with new healthy thoughts. Monitor what goes into your mind.

Get into the habit of strongly imagining your success. Visualize yourself reaching your goals and attaining your dreams. Imagine what such success feels like and hold onto those feelings.

Remain diligent in this new practice and be patient with yourself. Your desires are special and valid.

Self-sabotage is a destructive pattern of behavior that prevents us from creating the lives we want. The key to off-setting this kind of behavior is reminding ourselves that WE are the ones in charge, not our emotions, not the part of us that says we are not good enough or smart enough, not the voices of those who told us we couldn't.

Acts of self-sabotage begin with self-sabotaging thoughts. Beating yourself up, expecting perfection, playing it too safe, comparing yourself to others, struggling with social fears, catastrophizing, being too competitive, experiencing too much anxiety...these set us up for self-sabotaging behavior.

Stop the cycle by becoming aware of your thoughts and behavior. Take control of your thoughts and you begin to take control of your life without the self-sabotage.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Self Love Gone Bad

heart in hand

Self-hatred is self-love gone bad.

Many people seem to struggle with self-hatred. They judge themselves harshly. They berate themselves. Sometimes they harm themselves.

Self-hatred is not a core issue. At the core of our being, we truly love ourselves. At our deepest core, we want happiness, well-being, and peace. We want the best for ourselves, our loved ones, and others.

And everything we do is an attempt to find happiness, wellness, and peace. Everything we do is motivated by our desire for these things, including self-hatred. If it weren't, we wouldn't beat ourselves up so much.

But many times our motivations are not conscious. They are automatic and habitual. A little self-examination will confirm this.

Is there some aspect of yourself that you "hate"? Do you find yourself calling yourself names because of something you did or did not do? Do you punish yourself so that you won't repeat the mistake? Do you tell yourself that what you did wasn't good enough? Or that it could be better?

So, if you beat yourself up enough, you'll get it right, do better, and finally be happy? This kind of strategy to find peace and happiness ends up destroying your peace and happiness even further.

Self-hatred is a strategy that does not work.

We can not create happiness and inner peace through chastising or abusing ourselves. Yet we get stuck in these failed strategies of self-hating behaviors, repeating them over and over, with even more intensity.

Self-hatred, at its core, is our natural desire for happiness masquerading as a strategy we think will work.

It. Will. Never. Work. Never has. Never will.

Your core is not the problem. It's the strategy. The good news is that strategies can be changed.

When you make a mistake, you can learn to accept that you made one without punishing yourself further.

You can turn harsh self-talk into positive statements that affirm your worth.

You can practice being patient and kind with yourself.

You can forgive yourself and resolve to move forward with a more positive approach.

You can stop giving yourself a hard time for giving yourself a hard time!

A little self-examination is key to changing our strategies when we are suffering and at odds with ourselves. It may not be an easy change at first, but as we become aware of our actions, we can make the necessary modifications and adjust accordingly.

Your happiness depends upon you.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Have vs. Have Not Mindset

Do you find yourself habitually feeling as though you do not have enough?

If so, it may be due to a core belief formed in your formative years.

And it could be because you are not aligned with your inner divinity, which is the source of your abundance.

Many times our perceptions of the way things seem to be are really misperceptions that can be corrected with awareness and effort.

We all know what it feels like to want something we do not have. We see others with sprawling homes, expensive cars, designer clothes, and wonder what it would be like to have such things.

But many of us linger in a state of wanting and not having. It's a condition of lack that never seems to subside. We consistently perceive ourselves as not having what we want or need. This is also self-perpetuating; the way we feel about ourselves determines what we are able to create for ourselves.

How energetically draining.

When we perceive ourselves as lacking, we look around and see the things we don't have in our lives.

On the other hand, when we are feeling abundant, we view things differently. We look around and see blessings. The more we see things as blessings, the more abundant we feel, and the more we attract. Similarly, when we see only lack, we tend to create and attract that energy. How we feel profoundly influences how we perceive our reality.

Here's a quick test. When someone you know comes into good fortune, do you find yourself sharing in their joy, or do you find yourself secretly wishing it were you and asking why it's not?

Try this: Take ten minutes out of each day and quiet your mind. Do this away from any outside distractions. Imagine yourself in a state of unlimited abundance, drawing from an endless supply of resources. Know that abundance exists everywhere.

Give gratitude for this abundance and for all that you have in your life. Picture yourself as already having the things you want or desire. Allow yourself to feel as if you already have those things. You will find yourself energetically energized. By doing this you are attuning yourself to universal frequencies, bringing you one step closer to manifesting those things in your life.

With awareness and effort, your mindset -- and your life -- will transform from one of lack to one of plentitude.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Commit To Exploration

Courtesy Google Images
The road to knowing what you want is often punctuated with many moments of learning what you do not want.

Recognizing and accepting this fact replaces fear with the courage to move forward.

All too often, we paralyze ourselves with the fear of making wrong moves. We expect to follow a straight path where we know in advance what will work or will not work.

It doesn't work that way.

Any time we are faced with a decision, it's the universe extending an invitation to take part in a personal and/or spiritual development plan. And many times, instead of taking the path of exploration, we recoil back into our comfort zones because we do not know where it will lead.

But when we do accept the universe's invitation, we commit ourselves to exploration, opening the door to possibilities beyond our dreams.

Decisions are never permanent, final actions, even though they may seem to be. They are dynamic and fluid. They are energy that flows outward, creating the path ahead of us. They invite us to open our minds to inquiry and possibility.

We may embark on one path and end up on a completely different path. Does this mean you made a "bad" decision? Of course not. Look at what you learned from the experience. If anything, you learned what you don't want, and realized what you do want. See it as a stepping stone that has moved you closer to creating exactly what you want.

One thing leads to another in ways we cannot always foresee. Experiencing what we do not want -- in order to determine what we do want -- is sometimes part of our personal development plan.

Remain curious. Remain open. Make modifications along the way to keep moving forward. There are no wrong moves, only lessons to be learned.

When we accept the universe's invitation, we commit to this great adventure called life.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Ugly 101

traffic light

You really discover a lot about yourself when you are behind the wheel in certain traffic situations, especially when you're in a hurry to get somewhere.

The other day I got stuck in traffic when I was running errands.

The light had turned green, and the person in front of me didn't move. I waited. And waited. Finally, I honked the horn. Nothing. I honked again. Nothing. Other horns began honking. Nothing. I felt my blood pressure and a wild impatience rising.

"What the...? C'mon!" I yelled aloud, throwing my hands into the air.

So I laid on the horn, hoping to get the person's attention. I got it alright, when he flipped the one-finger salute, screaming into his rear view mirror at me before speeding off...just as the light was ready to change to red. I was stuck.


I had just landed myself in Ugly 101. And I needed to get out fast.

Why did I get so annoyed and impatient? That was so uncharacteristic of me. It was the "spiritune" moment to get back to practicing compassion. So, rather than seethe about what had happened, I took a few deep breaths to get my Zen on.

The current moment is the only thing that really exists. And in the presence of now, the future and the past are irrelevant. Why was I in such a hurry? There was no need to be in a hurry, but for some reason I created that need and fell into its trap. I took a few more deep breaths to center myself and to release the panicky misperception that I needed to get someplace else fast.

I chose to remain in the moment and breathed my way back to sanity, without the need to rush, push, or panic. Instead of cursing the driver ahead of me, I sent blessings his way and quietly thanked him for reminding me that the only place I need to be is here, now. I would inevitably get to my destination.

It's not traffic or being stuck at a light that makes us lose perspective; it's our own doing, when we get caught up in petty thoughts and feelings, thinking that someone has wronged us in some way. What this driver did was nothing personal; I happened to take it personally when I had no real reason to take it so.

Lesson learned. Again.

With that, I heard a honk behind me because the light had turned green. I turned around, and instead of getting ugly with the driver, I blew a kiss and gave the thumbs up sign before driving off.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Getting (Creating) Closure

Life is filled with beginnings and door
But before we can begin a new phase in life, we must get closure on the old.

Many of life's experiences call for closure. With closure comes a sense of completion to help us move toward new beginnings.

Completion doesn't necessarily mean finality. It is a transition. It is an acknowledgment that a change has taken place.

Why do we seek closure? Because we want an understanding of what happened. We want to know what we did or did not do. We want to tie up loose endings or sever the ties that bind. We may want to honor the ending of a certain phase of life.

Actually, we don't seek closure. We create it.

We create closure because of our desire to emotionally lay to rest feelings and issues that may be holding us back.

What happens when we cannot achieve closure? We are left to grieve, to pine for the past, and to hold onto connections with others that no longer serve us.

But all is not lost. We can still create a sense of completion in ways that allow us to consciously honor and release an experience so that we can move forward.

We do this by first defining any loose ends. What residual emotions are lingering inside that are preventing you from moving on? Usually it is some form of anger or guilt.

Give expression to those feelings in a constructive way. See them as a necessary step on your life's path. Acknowledging these feelings sets the stage for letting go of them.

Send forgiveness with blessings. Forgiveness unties the bindings that have been holding us back. Even if it feels contrived, empty, or hypocritical at first, keep sending blessings. Eventually, the anger or pain will lift from your heart.

Offer a heartfelt apology if you feel guilt or shame over what has happened, or if you are the one who needs forgiveness. Take full responsibility without offering excuses or qualifying statements.

Have a symbolic closure ceremony. People still hold funerals or memorial services for their loved ones whose bodies were never found. You can still have a "formal" way to say goodbye to relationships that were never resolved. Write a farewell letter, an apology, or a eulogy to that person and then burn it along with items that are reminders.

Creating closure is not an end but a new beginning. It affirms that we have done what was needed. We may never erase the memory, but we can grow wiser because of the experience, and we can use the experience to better ourselves and to help others.

Creating closure is about turning the end of something into a turning point where you will be ready for whatever life brings next.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Unsure Of Which Path To Take?

So you want to explore your spirituality but you are unsure of how to practice it.
which way-
Do you travel to faraway lands to find a spiritual teacher or guru?

Do you practice the rituals of established traditions?

Where do you begin?

The best place to begin is with your own life.

We need not look far for such teachers. They are everywhere in our lives, but often we do not recognize them because they may not look or act like our idea of a spiritual teacher. However, when we put this bias aside, we open ourselves to their wisdom.

Our teachers can take many forms -- human, non-human, and situational. They come to teach us valuable lessons such as compassion, patience, letting go, etc., when we are ready and willing to learn.

We’ve heard the adage, “When the student is ready, the teacher will come.” As we open ourselves to this wisdom, we find that our "teachers" have been with us all along, waiting for us to acknowledge them. Our lives are filled with teachers.

Take note of things that happen in your life.

Do you keep losing things? Perhaps this situation is asking you to be more mindful of your actions in your physical reality.

Do you keep struggling with a difficult person in your life? Maybe this person is showing you how not to be.

Consider what your life is telling you. Trust your intuition. Take your time, and go at a pace that is comfortable for you. Observe everything. Ask questions. Start each morning by honoring the teacher that is your life. Make it your daily intention to be wise enough to recognize the "teachers" that come your way. Be open to receiving their wisdom. Your "teachers" will reveal themselves and your path will unfold for you.

Everything that happens in our lives works together to teach us exactly what we need to learn. When we accept this, we step into the spiritual dimension of life.

While there are many paths to take, trust your inner guidance system and follow the path to which you feel most drawn. There are no right or wrong paths.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Why Does This Keep Happening?

Do you find yourself having the same kinds of experiences? Call it déjà vu. Call it Groundhog's Day. Call it what you will. But there's a reason why these things keep happening to you.

Perhaps you are in a new romantic relationship, only it starts to feel like the last one with the same kinds of problems cropping up.

Or maybe your new job has you facing similar challenges that you thought you had escaped from your previous position.

The situations and the people may have changed, but you're still dealing with the same old problems. Over and over.

You may be feeling frustrated or disappointed, wondering why these same situations keep happening.

They happen because you -- yes, you -- are making them happen.

Our lives tend to reflect what we believe about them. Our beliefs act like magnets, attracting situations into our lives based on those beliefs. We create our experiences. And each time we ask ourselves why the same things keep happening, we reinforce those beliefs and attract more of the same.

When we hold beliefs that undermine the good we can experience, we set ourselves up for sabotage. It's an unhealthy pattern that we repeat, not realizing that we are the ones creating the experience in the first place. It can be a vicious cycle.

We bring our beliefs to every situation. If the same kinds of situations and people keep showing up in our lives, we need to examine our beliefs and how we came to them.

Ask why you believe what you believe. Were your beliefs passed down to you? Or did you come to them based on your own experiences? How have they served you? If they are not in your best interest, why keep hanging on to them?

No one wants to keep repeating the same mistakes over and over. When we can figure out which convictions no longer serve us, we can consciously change them. As we make better choices for ourselves, we start attracting new kinds of experiences that are aligned with what we truly want in life.

In what area of your life do you find the same kinds of things happening?

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Changing Your Relationship With "Change"

Buddha said, "Change is the only constant."

Many people are uncomfortable with change. They prefer their days to follow the same schedule or routine. Some may want change, but are afraid to embrace it.

But whether we like it or not, change happens. And it's coming, whether we are ready or not.

We need to change our relationship with "change."

Change is good. It pushes us out of stagnation and invites us to grow. It encourages us to try new things and to welcome new people into our lives. Changes gets us out the rut of the mundane.

Changing our relationship with "change" enhances our lives. Change ushers in new possibilities; it challenges us to open our minds and expand our comfort zones.

If we are to accept and welcome change in our lives, we must start by taking small steps. Big changes begin with small adjustments. Too often we look at the big picture and get overwhelmed by it. But when we break it down into manageable steps, we find ourselves adjusting to our new relationship with "change."

When we decide to make changes, we are in essence taking responsibility for creating a new life for ourselves. Ready to get started? Here are some ideas:

  • Eat breakfast for dinner.
  • Rearrange the furniture.
  • Watch no news for an entire day. Better yet, watch no TV.
  • Eat a food you've never eaten before.
  • Take a different route to school, work, the gym, the grocery store, home, etc.
  • Talk to a stranger.
  • Try a new restaurant.
  • Learn a new skill or craft.
  • Try new make-up, a new outfit, or a new hairstyle.

Try one small new thing every day. When we take the steps to create change, no matter how small, we have chosen to take responsibility for changing our lives for the better. We declare to the universe that we are ready for a new life.

What kind of relationship do you have with "change"?