Thursday, February 13, 2014

Are Your Maybes Holding You Hostage?


Consider the implications of this one word.

How many times have you said, "Maybe I will do that," or "Maybe I like that," or "Maybe later."

Most of our maybes are another way of saying, "Um, I just don't know." It reeks of hesitancy, and it's another way of putting life on hold.

Of course, there are times when saying maybe is the exact non-action we need to take. We wouldn't want to jump into anything that would actually put our lives in jeopardy. But we can only sit on the fence for so long before distress and confusion set in. Better to decide and live with the decision of yes or no, or your maybe will hold you hostage until you take some kind of action.

Lingering too long in the purgatory of maybe slows our creativity. Sometimes it stops our progress altogether. At their best, our maybes are our future possibilities, but if we remain inactive or indecisive, those possibilities will remain unrealized. The more we remain in the realm of maybe, the more uninspired we become. This can lead to anxiety, depression, hopelessness, helplessness, addiction, and giving up.

Many times people use maybe because they don't want to be held accountable for their commitments (or possible commitments). But living an authentic life, one in which you are true to yourself, means being ready, willing, and able to transform those maybes into nos and yeses. The moment we replace maybe with either a yes or a no, we generate movement. We become unstuck and our inspiration, creativity, and confidence begin to flow.

Transforming your maybes begins with some self-examination and internal spring cleaning. This can be as simple as making a list of maybes in your life. Consider all areas (personal, financial, vocational, spiritual, physical, relational, etc.). This means all the things you are undecided about, including any unfinished projects that are loitering inside your closets. Bring them all out into the open where you can face them head-on.

Decide what you are not going to give your time and energy to. This is where you will take action to dissolve any commitments that no longer serve your highest good. If any commitment has resulted and continues to result in energy drain, it's time to say no to it. Bless it as you release it, and give gratitude for it once having served you.

Now decide on what you are going to say yes to. Be clear and open about it. This means being conscious of what you are committing yourself to. Again, do what you need to do to renew your commitment to it, and begin. You will feel a sense of renewal within yourself, one that gives you the energy and inspiration to move forward.

As for any lingering maybes, give them a deadline, not too far into the future, when you will decide either yes or no.

When we are intentional and conscious about our nos and yeses, there won't be any room for the maybes to hold us hostage.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Creating and Setting Intentions

In The Complete I Ching, Alfred Huang writes, "The intention behind each action determines its effect. Our intentions and our actions affect not only ourselves but also others. If we believe that every intention and action evolves as we progress on our spiritual journeys, then if we act consciously we evolve consciously, but if we act unconsciously we evolve unconsciously."

As we choose to live intentionally, we become active participants in the creative process at work in our lives. We evolve consciously, being proactive in the creation of our lives rather than reactive and involved unconsciously (our habitual responses).

We take charge. We are aware. We create from our intentions, and our lives flourish as a result of our intentional living.

Intentional choices make for intentional, conscious results. Intentions invite us to explore and discover our life circumstances, calling us to creatively live our lives.

When we set an intention, we put our life force into its generation. It becomes our reference point, guiding our experience. Instead of reacting to situations with habitual responses, we hold our intention and use it to direct the experience.

Creating an intention begins by asking what you want for yourself and in your life. You can write these down as they come. These will form the basis for your intentions. Choose one that stands out to you the most, one that would result in a lot of your other wants falling into place as well.

From here, reframe it using action verbs. These are words that are affirmative and active in nature and bring you into the moment. Leave out words that point to a particular difficulty such as worry, fear, or doubt. Use words that express freedom from such a difficulty. For example, if you want to be less stressed in your life, your intention might read as "I live freely and peacefully. I trust my choices," rather than "I live a life without stress." Other examples include:
I experience joy in my life.
I connect with all of life.
I live an abundant life, doing what I love.
I act...
I express...
I create...
I realize...
I appreciate...

Note the difference between an affirmation and an intention. Intentions use action-oriented words; whereas affirmations use being-oriented (affirmations use state-of-being verbs and are typically "I AM" statements, such as "I am happy"). Using affirmations is a good starting point when we begin to consciously create our lives, but intentions generate more accountability. Using active words encourages us to align ourselves, in the moment, with the given intention. When we want to break through layers of habitual thought states, intentions directly influence our experiences in a dynamic way.

Once you create an intention, it's time to activate it. Work with it in a way that feels best for you. You can journal about it, chant it during meditation, place it on a vision board, display it in a prominent place as a reminder, repeat it, sing it, etc.

Pay attention to the physical and energetic sensations in your body as you work with it. Make sure that it resonates with you. A timely intention will enliven you; it will feel good and right within and may even feel a little risky. It will naturally generate the desire within you to move and create.

Happy creating!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Focus On The What, Not The Why

I once took a philosophy exam that contained only one question: "Why?"

After thinking back to what we covered during the semester, I wrote: "Why not?"

I got an "A" for the course.

The more we open ourselves to living consciously and creating our lives on our terms, we let go of any need to know the why of it all.

Growing spiritually requires a lot of internal work, but it is not an investigation into why things are the way they are -- why so-and-so didn't love me, why you keep repeating the same mistakes, why this or that happened or didn't happen.

Focusing on the why is divisive; in fact, it's part of the blame and shame game. The why question really asks who is to blame.

When others ask us why, more often than not it feels like a threat. Our defenses go up. We grow resistant to those asking us why we are the way we are or why we don't do what they want us to do. The moment gets robbed of its joy, and we interrupt our authentic living.

Note in your present conversations how often you ask why. Note how it affects others when asked, and note how you are affected when you are asked. Then work to release these whys.


By focusing on the what of it all. Instead of asking, "Why did this happen?," ask "What just happened?" or "What is going on here?" Instead of asking, "Why did this happen to me?," ask, "What brought me to this place in my life?", or "What's the relationship between the past and what's happening now?" Rather than ask why you don't have a particular something in your life, acknowledge what you don't have, and then do the necessary work to create it.

In the course of a relationship, the whys and hows will pop up when we step away from our awareness. When this happens, simply take note but move on so that you or the other is not left feeling victimized.

The why is really part of someone else's story. Why someone behaves in a way that is uncharacteristic or in a way that you do not understand is his or her story, not yours, and it is not yours to fix. Be aware of your own story, and know that only you can take the necessary steps to change things for yourself.

When we know the what of a situation, we can use this information to heal and move forward in creating and customizing our life.