Archive | July 2013

Live in the Solution

a problem

Often, when problems arise in our life, there is a temptation to focus the majority of our energy on the details of our troubles, rather than the solutions to them. Focusing too much time on what is wrong, by endlessly talking about the specifics of our difficulties; will only serve to keep us stuck in them. However, focusing on the solutions to our dilemmas will often help us sort out a course of action toward their removal.

Acknowledging and discussing the many aspects of our dilemmas is a valuable step toward their resolution, but repeatedly explaining, dissecting or rehashing them will not resolve or help them to miraculously vanish.

Therefore, the best way to handle our problem is to put our attention on discussing the possible solutions to our concerns rather than the problems themselves. This will be far more helpful to us and make it easier to find our way out of troubling times. When we focus on what we can do about our situation, instead of what we can’t, then we feel less helpless and more powerful as an active agent in our own life. This shift in focus empowers us, and helps us to feel better in order to take the necessary actions.

On the contrary, stressing and worrying over our dilemmas makes us ineffective at gathering the needed energy to move in the direction of our solutions. It makes it much more difficult to solve our problems if our minds are clouded by overwhelming negativity and a defeated mind set.

Everyone has problems but not everyone solves them the same way. If we are having difficulty in a specific area, it is extremely helpful to enlist the help of someone who has had our situation and see what they did to solve or move through it.

Gathering information and taking the necessary actions is a potent problem solver. However, in spite of this fact, many of us may be reluctant to take certain actions that would alleviate our pain due to fear of the unknown or facing ourselves and confronting our own vulnerabilities and weaknesses.

For example, I was listening to someone the other day who was very upset about a family situation she was having, and felt a lot of anger and upset internally as a result. It was suggested that she write down her situation, and the feelings surrounding it on paper to get clarity of what was underneath the pain and how to best handle it. This technique has proven to be very helpful for many people, as it often helps to see our problems before us in a written format and get it out of our heads.

In spite of this information, the woman resisted doing the exercise and unfortunately, remained in pain. It is true that writing does not suit everyone’s taste but what intrigued me was her outward refusal to try anything new that might help her to feel better and give her some perspective.

It made me recall many times in my own life, when I resisted trying something new because I was afraid to step outside my comfort zone or wanted to know how it would work instead of just trying it out.

Not to say that we should naively do whatever someone tells us to do without inquiring about it or exploring the possible consequences of a given suggestion. However, outright defiance will never solve our problems; whereas, having willingness and an open mind certainly will, at the very least, give us a chance toward a successful outcome.

Action Step:

Contemplate the following questions as you seek a solution to your problems:

  1. What is the outcome you want?
  2. What suggestions have you received thus far to achieve your desired outcome?
  3. What are your objections to the ideas you’ve received?
  4. What did you like about the ideas?
  5. What would you advise someone else to do in your situation?
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Eliminate Excuses

a excuse 6

The poem below is a fun example of how a pattern of excuses can start when we are very young avoiding our homework; all the way into adulthood, explaining why we can’t do, be or have what we want.

Our explanations may not be as imaginative and entertaining as those listed below, but whatever the reasons, it’s often just easier to do the work instead.

Enjoy!

My Excuses

I started on my homework
but my pen ran out of ink.
My hamster ate my homework.
My computer’s on the blink.

I accidentally dropped it
in the soup my mom was cooking.
My brother flushed it down the toilet
when I wasn’t looking.

My mother ran my homework
through the washer and the dryer.
An airplane crashed into our house.
My homework caught on fire.

Tornadoes blew my notes away.
Volcanoes struck our town.
My homework was taken
by an evil killer clown.

Some aliens abducted me.
I had a shark attack.
A pirate swiped my homework
and refused to give it back.

It took so long to make these up
I realized, with dread,
it would have just been easier
to do the work instead.

Arielle Perkins

a excuse 4

What assignment are you avoiding?

Deal with the Feelings

I confess, my husband and I still watch Frasier reruns on television at night, and though we know many of the episodes by heart, we continue to enjoy them.

What is fun about the show is that we are witnessing people who are human, and delightfully flawed. We laugh as we identify with them, and therefore, laugh at ourselves in the process. Many of the episodes are not only funny but educational as well.

The video above is from one of those shows with a very poignant message. It is the one where Frasier is going to be receiving his ‘life time achievement award.’  In spite of this honor, however, he is struggling with feelings of emptiness.

On the surface of things, his feelings don’t make any sense because by all accounts he should be feeling excited about receiving this award but he doesn’t. So, he decides to visit his old mentor and they explore what could be causing his discontent.

As this video clip begins, Frasier returns to the office after initially receiving an interpretation from his mentor that he didn’t like, and tries to defend what he thinks the real problem actually is; a mid-life crisis.

That leads to a counseling exercise where Frasier is instructed to be both the psychiatrist and the person calling into his radio program. Two empty chairs are used as he attempts to counsel and diagnoses himself. During this revealing conversation, his is instructed to keep dealing with the feelings and not bury himself in psychiatric exercises.

In the full episode, it was powerful to learn that he felt empty because he had created distance with people by intellectually connecting with them instead of emotionally.

It is tempting to explain away and bury our own feelings underneath intellectual explanations in order to ‘fix’ ourselves as well. A lot of us feel it is unacceptable to feel empty or upset because we shouldn’t feel that way, with all we have to be grateful for.

It is true, that gratitude is a beautiful way to go through life and we do have much to be grateful for, including our feelings. They are definitely a wonderful gift, and contain a lot of good information if we listen to them.

They can bring us healthy awareness, if we allow ourselves to have them, not judge them and express them.

For the Frasier character, by realizing he has kept himself at an emotional distance to avoid being vulnerable with others; he can now use this awareness to make some different choices as he goes forward.

Funny how a comedy can make such good sense!

Action Step:

Try the empty chair exercise as it is done in the video, (preferably with a guide) and see what revealing and helpful information you experience from it.

Use Your Creativity

a contest

The air was cold on this Minnesota afternoon but the warmth from our childhood bond has continued and grown on our walk together into adulthood.   

 Cathie Barash

I am originally from Minnesota and now live in Arizona; polar opposites (pun intended) from each other during the winter months, that is for sure.

As we know, one is freezing in winter; while the other is very pleasant at that time of year. Of course, the heat of the summers here is a whole other conversation, and makes anything cold look very inviting!

Anyway, this particular post isn’t about the weather but about a fun contest I came across recently. It involves writing a caption or storyline in 25 words or less based on a picture that is provided as a prompt for creative expression.

It got me thinking about the many different ways we interpret things, based on our individual backgrounds or the experiences we have had.

So with that in mind, I thought I would share the picture with you, and the actual comments I submitted (shown above), as an example of how my Minnesota upbringing influenced my particular remarks!

It will be fun to see the many different ideas and viewpoints that come from this one photo.

Action Step:

What positive and uplifting ideas come to mind when you look at this picture?

Feel the Fear And Do It Anyway

a fear 8

Fear is a big issue for many of us, and can stop us in our tracks. Many years ago I read the book entitled, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Dr. Susan Jeffers, which is filled with life changing information.

In it, she lists the five truths about fear which are abbreviated and listed below. These truths are just a sampling of all the helpful information she imparts throughout the book; including valuable action steps to take.

We are reminded that it is natural and normal to experience feelings of fear but at the same time, are shown the many ways to move through them; instead of stopping doing something because of them.

What a freedom!

Enjoy!

The Five Truths About Fear

FEAR TRUTH #1

The fear will never go away as long as you continue to grow!

Every time you take a step into the unknown, you experience fear. There is no point in saying, “When I am no longer afraid, then I will do it.” You’ll be waiting for a long time. The fear is part of the package.

FEAR TRUTH #2

The only way to get rid of the fear of doing something is to go out and…do it!

When you do it often enough, you will no longer be afraid in that particular situation. You will have faced the unknown and you will have handled it. Then new challenges await you, which certainly add to the excitement in living.

FEAR TRUTH #3

The only way to feel better about yourself is to go out and…do it!

With each little step you take into unknown territory, a pattern of strength develops. You begin feeling stronger and stronger and stronger.

FEAR TRUTH #4

Not only are you afraid when facing the unknown, so is everyone else!

This should be a relief. You are not the only one out there feeling fear. Everyone feels fear when taking a step into the unknown. Yes, all those people who have succeeded in doing what they have wanted to do in life have felt the fear – and did it anyway. So can you!

FEAR TRUTH #5

Pushing through fear is less frightening than living with the bigger underlying fear that comes from a feeling of helplessness!

This is the one truth that some people have difficulty understanding. When you push through the fear, you will feel such a sense of relief as your feeling of helplessness subsides. You will wonder why you did not take action sooner. You will become more and more aware that you can truly handle anything that life hands you.

What helps you to walk through your fears?

Action Step:

Review some of the fears that are stopping you. What small step can you take to push through them today?

Don’t Get Locked Into One Response

Jack Canfield, author of the book entitled, The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be and co-creator of Chicken Soup for the Soul, often uses the metaphor of a combination lock to explain the formula for success and emotional freedom.

a lock 8

He explains that, if we know the combination to a lock, the lock has to open. It doesn’t matter who we are; if we know the right numbers and the right sequence of those numbers, it will open.

It is true that there does seem to be a specific formula that successful people follow, as shown below and briefly discussed in the video above.

a formula 2

It is EVENT + RESPONSE = OUTCOME (E + R = O), which involves taking total responsibility for what’s showing up in their lives.

If they don’t like the outcomes they are receiving in life; they change their responses to the events and situations that show up around them.

They don’t waste their energy blaming the event or get caught in the trance of habitually responding the same ways and expecting different results.

If what they are doing is not working, they take response-ability by making thoughtful adjustments instead of letting themselves off the hook by:

  1. Complaining
  2. Blaming
  3. Making excuses
  4. Justifying
  5. Defending

There are a multitude of responses we can choose, but rarely do we experience the outcomes we want from these negative reactions. Personal ownership and making thoughtful responses, provides a much better chance of getting a desired outcome.

a key

This formula is discussed at length in his book along with other key principles, for achieving more satisfying outcomes such as:

  1. Eliminating the phrase ‘I can’t’
  2. Taking lots of action
  3. Having the belief that the world is plotting to do us good
  4. Rejecting rejection

Action Step:

For one week, refuse to make excuses, blame, complain, justify or defend what isn’t working, and come up with a new response.

Live Well. Laugh Often. Love Much.

love july

Bessie Anderson Stanley wrote a poem in 1904 entitled Success.”

There are many variations of this poem circulating around, and credit has been given to several different authors as well. However, whichever way you slice it, the message is a good one!

slice 1

It reads in its entirety:

He has achieved success who has lived well, laughed often, and loved much;
Who has enjoyed the trust of pure women, the respect of intelligent men and the love of little children;

Who has filled his niche and accomplished his task;
Who has never lacked appreciation of Earth’s beauty or failed to express it;
Who has left the world better than he found it,
Whether an improved poppy, a perfect poem, or a rescued soul;

Who has always looked for the best in others and given them the best he had;
Whose life was an inspiration;
Whose memory a benediction.

love bugs

Below are some brief thoughts on the ideas reflected in the poem:

Live Well.  Live with the intention of enjoying life, and living each day more purposefully. This includes addressing any weaknesses, flaws or unkind thoughts that prevents us from sharing and experiencing our joyful potential. As we do this, we become more of who we really are by fulfilling our purpose, while gaining the trust and respect needed to inspire others to do the same.

Laugh Often.  Laughter is not only good for us, but is also good for those around us. It boosts the immune system while reducing tension, stress, anxiety, anger and a host of other unpleasant feelings. The natural healing benefits that come from mixing levity into our daily lives works magic in all areas, and is often more beneficial than any other concoction or elixir used to alleviate our discomfort.

Love Much. Expressing gratitude and appreciation for all that we have is a beautiful demonstration of love. By showing our loved ones we value them, and looking for the good in everything around us, we create, and contribute to the expansion of good to all we come in contact with. Loving our life and the people in it, heals us from the inside out, and leaves a loving imprint long after we are gone.

How does this poem resonate with you?

Action Step:

Review the questions below to help you live, laugh and love to the fullest.

  1. How can you live more purposefully?
  2. How can you contribute more and criticize less?
  3. What is going on that you can find humor in?
  4. Who can you show more love toward?
  5. What can you be gratitude for?