How to Connect When It’s The Last Thing You Want To Do.

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As people we have a choice: connect or disconnect.

Some of us have been disconnecting from a very early age because it feels safe. But it leaves us empty.

We may be in control when we’re disconnected, living our lives through our intellect, but we become anxious and unfulfilled. From the outside everything looks ok, but it feels like shit.

To be connected is risky because if you do not have control over your emotional state, the outside environment will have an influence over how you feel. That’s when we distance ourselves or cut off completely, hoping the influence of others will barely be felt.

On the other side is the fear of being alone, which no one really wants deep down inside. Physiologically we’re wired for connection to others. And so, the two competing forces can create a lot of inconsistency in how we show up–both with personal relationships and with complete strangers.

I love talking to strangers whenever possible, asking questions that lead right to getting to know something about them. Don’t confuse this with small talk, however, with which I usually fail. Small talk feels forced, and doesn’t come from an authentic place of curiosity, so it’s more of a disconnect when I engage from that space.

I recently had my old Acura overheat 100 miles from home.

The tow truck driver showed up an hour and a half late. It wasn’t his fault, but my Type A personality took over and I had to keep reminding myself it does no good to get uptight. After getting out of the truck, he reached out to shake my hand. I looked him in the eyes as our hands met and said, “I’m annoyed because I’ve been waiting 90 minutes, and I know it’s not your fault, but I’d rather say it then make it awkward.” He smiled as he lead me to the cab of the truck.

In the past, I may have been a Class A asshole, wanting someone to make me feel better. But I am mindful of my shit now, and it’s important to communicate. Once my car was hooked up, he jumped into the cab and our conversation started.

During the six mile drive to the mechanic, we started talking about cars and car payments. He shared that he was an ex-Marine, and when he got out of the service he couldn’t afford the $250 monthly payment on his car because he had difficulty getting a job. He was 32 years old at the time, and eventually lost his car.

He then became an electrician’s apprentice, but it hurt his back so he couldn’t continue. I was thinking, “WTF, here’s this dude who served our country and he came home to very little opportunity!” I wanted to cry.

He eventually became a tow truck driver. Somehow the conversation moved to discussing cable, family (he has a wife and a small daughter) and the craziness of anger, hatred and over-the-top behavior that is broadcast in the world today. Both of us shared how sad it made us because the connection to humanity is always available. We are all the same inside regardless of the appearance of our bodies, sex, color, choices, job, age or anything we use to define ourselves.

As we pulled into the parking lot, I felt so happy to have met this man. I learned something, as I do every time I connect with someone. If I had stayed pissed off at him for showing up late, which was my first inclination, I would’ve disconnected and missed out on a truly great moment of humanity.

As he unhooked my car and I stood inside doing my paperwork, we waved at each other a few times. He was grinning ear to ear… and so was I.

Connection is everywhere, and it’s always a choice.

The Mystery Of Synchronicity

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How are you?

Me?

I’ve been in the midst of a growth spurt in my perspective, spirituality and old emotional limitations.

It means hunkering down, as I follow the flow of my energy and pay attention to where I’m to focus intuitively rather than where I would normally spend my time. Meaning, I tend to spend a great deal of my free time with myself–reading, meditating, writing, letting go of blocks (including pain), and working with other people who guide me to see what I cannot see in myself.

The more I stay connected, the more abundant I feel within, and the result is amazing change in all parts of my life. Stories which blow my heart and soul!

Recently I purchased a couple of courses for the purpose of up-leveling my energy in the area of abundance (one topic I struggled with for YEARS!).

The course isn’t something I would recommend, though I share it because of a couple funny, synchronistic surprises that surfaced yesterday.

Signs, Signs, Everywhere Signs

When it comes to synchronicity, I look at events and words spoken by others. I stopped searching for signposts in the form of billboards, license plates, discarded trash or anything else which I would try to forcefully derive meaning from.

Sometimes we are looking for excuses to stay where we are and can interpret all sorts of signs in and around us.

In the case of the funny little surprises yesterday, it started when one of the questions in the course wanted me to recognize where synchronicity showed up in my life. Asking if certain number combinations showed up, such as the ones mentioned by the authors as 111. For them personally, this number combo was validation, they were in a place of total alignment in their lives.

I used to look at the clock at exactly 10:13, my birth date, but its been a long time since I noticed… along with 11:11 or any other number combinations.

I sat there scratching my head and thinking about possibilities. There was the sleeping homeless guy I left a bottle of water for and wondered if he got it when he woke up. I asked my higher power for confirmation, which I received, in a way, which raised the hair on my neck, because it was pretty cool.

I notice when I don’t force things, everything I need shows up in a timely manner… but could I say anything else about synchronicity right now? Hmmm.

I happened to be driving on the freeway yesterday and noticed a Uhaul (I’m in the midst of house hunting), and an illustration on the side of it stated “Baffin Islands”…I thought to myself, that’s weird!

I’ve been reading The Science of Getting Rich over and over for the past six months. On those pages (which I read earlier in the day) was a reference to Baffin Bay, which I had never heard of prior to reading this book. I felt that moment of yes, I’m on the right path, headed in the right direction and will be moving where I want (um… not to Greenland, which is where Baffin Bay is located).

I could be stretching, but this was so in my consciousness that intuitively I knew it was a sign.

Later that night, as I was driving home from a friend’s home, I happened to look down at my dashboard and realized the humor of the Universe. My Acura (the first car I’ve paid off and held onto without trading it in) hit the mileage 111,111. Yup! It was the numbers in the coursework assignment, which the authors loved… times two! Not sure of the meaning for myself, except knowing where I am and what I’m doing are exactly where I am supposed to be now.

So…synchronicity. It’s the meaning you give it. Sometimes it is an unmistakable, in-your-face sign and other times it is only a subtle confirmation that you’re headed where you want to go. Now and in the future.

Do you ever look at the clock when it’s your birthday, or see other numbers appear over and over again? Do you assign meaning to it, or just shrug it off as a coincidence? Please share in the comments!

 

The Pleasure Principle.

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Heavily invested in working through our flaws, our issues and anything we deem an obstacle to happiness, love and success?

Often we forget to explore pleasure as we commit to this deep work.

We can’t help, but remind ourselves of what is wrong with our lives.

Perhaps, we believe we made tremendous errors to get here, so we beat ourselves up for being stuck. It makes us crazy! We can’t stand being where we don’t want to be, and so we overdo certain activities (sleeping, eating, drinking, etc) to blot out our displeasure.

A hint of pleasure might be present, as we embark on trying to forget the misery, or the helpless feeling of being stuck, but that pleasure dissipates, as we overdo covering it up.

Expectations, can be out of whack, especially when it’s to do with our lack of worth. It’s depressing to prove ourselves through overwhelming demands, before we can be kind to ourselves.

Accomplishing those expectations never feels like we thought it would. We’re still in a state of lack. If we’re depleted, nothing outside of us can fuel the tank, we have to do it. And the best way is through allowing pleasure. 

We have to get clear first–move past our own resistance, on what actually is pleasurable and not an escape from reality.

It’s bullshit to say we cannot experience pleasure til the hard work is complete.

We have to believe we deserve it!

If we’re on a diet, we may spoil ourselves with a new piece of clothing or a favorite food once we hit a goal, but we make ourselves wait for that joy. Why wouldn’t we treat ourselves kindly along the way, giving into pleasure, letting pleasure lead us rather than pain?

Some of us pretend to experience pleasure, we show the world, we’re all about it, but inside…..that’s a different story! We’re wrapped tight, watching our every move, because the minute we screw up, we fear the criticism of others, and most of all the inner critic within us.

Anything, in which we hold pleasure back, as though we don’t deserve it yet, is a disservice to our heart, mind and soul.

The pleasure principle is to be open to the unexpected, the abundant, because it will surely come when we give pleasure to ourselves every day!

Whatever we focus on we attract. When we take pleasure in life, big or small, we’re magnetizing more of it to our lives. Focus on fear, and what we don’t want, and SURPRISE… it shows up sooner or later.

What we learn through pleasure matters and stays with us.

What if we were to accept everything in our life as good? In spite of the things, which drive us crazy or that keep us awake at night? We have a choice in how we want to feel, even when we don’t have a choice of circumstances.

If we accept every little irritating circumstance, just as it is–which means we don’t have to love it, but stop fighting it and say ‘okay’ this is how it is right now, what does that feel like? As though a weight has lifted?

When we focus on what is truly good and working in our lives, by not taking it for granted, and giving it our attention, we allow it to expand.

Just by this simple exercise, we create space for pleasure. Is it that easy? Not really, because we have to retrain our brains to get off the punishment and pain plan.

1. Write down a list of pleasurable things you can give to yourself.

2. Do one of those items (if not more) daily.

3. Accept your life as good. Even the things you want to change.

4. Find people to support the pleasure principle.

5. When you start punishing yourself, break up the crappy mantra in your mind, by DOING something, which gives you pleasure. (this is hard to do when you’re used to beating yourself up–it feels counter-intuitive–but do it anyway)

6. Start to expect more good everywhere you go, no matter where it is you go…..create pleasure.

7. Say YES to life, even if you feel you don’t deserve it.

The more you say YES to the good, the pleasurable juiciness in life, the more you will have of it! It also helps your perspective when unfortunate circumstances arise, nothing is as bad as it used to be when you were in a constant state of hard work with little reward.

Giving To Get; A Self-Destructive Way to Validate

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One of my favorite terms to use in my work is “giving to get.”

It’s when we give with strings attached to someone or something else.

It’s not always an item, money or something tangible; we often give our time, do favors (people please), allow behavior we don’t like and other forms of anything, which places us in position to receive our validation this way.

Personally, I’ve come to a ton of awareness over the years, in how I have operated in this way, but lately, my epiphanies have been around, how some people I attracted to my life would give to get with me.

This pattern usually starts in our family of origin.

We find by acting or giving in a certain way, we get what we THINK we want, which is some form of love or validation. In essence, someone says, “we’re okay” and then we feel accepted into the tribe. This often leads to some form of over-achievement, or having no boundaries or self-acceptance of our own feelings.

What’s the difference between giving to get, and just plain giving without expectation?

We feel someone owes us or we need to be recognized in some way (some celebs give money for publicity), this is not altruistic nor is it actually meaningful; it’s a form of trying to get validation.

When we give, as let’s say a friend who helps without being asked, by sharing their oxygen mask, the expectation is on the act of helping, not on the future accolades or gratitude that must be given in return.

When we give of ourselves over and over to someone hoping for a reward for putting up with their nasty behavior, we are giving to get. We blame the other person for holding our happiness in their hands. No one’s happiness belongs in the possession of another. Yet, I’ve heard from individuals in my professional and personal life all about how “someone has done something to me,” which creates a victimized mentality.

Where can anyone find power in themselves when they are giving it away to get validation that never lasts anyway?

I think of people I’ve thanked a bazillion times for their help, including my parents, but it’s never enough. They want to abuse the right, they feel they earned by giving in either how they believe I should treat them, or what I should give to them.

And people who give in this way, sabotage not only the relationship, but validate their belief of their own worth. It’s a painful cycle.

Whether it’s money or something mimicking love (love is free without attachment), we give so much of ourselves or our bank account, we create a deficit that must be filled…and yet we create situations, which make it impossible to be re-filled, on purpose.

It happens all the time, if we don’t pay attention to the signs; we allow people into our lives, based off the familiarity of our initial relationships.

Some of us think (I was one for a very long time) that if someone believes we shit gold bricks, then they must recognize something in us, which we don’t see in ourselves.

And if it’s extreme, as though we’re to be convinced that the feelings we’re receiving are genuine, they’re not. It’s not to say someone can’t like us and put us on a pedestal, it’s to say they’re giving to get. Whether it’s in complements, words of adoration, listening to us vent, money, gifts, or crossing over their personal boundaries….it’s all to receive some validation.

For the receiver, we may think it’s assuring us we’re okay…even when we feel somewhat funky with all that attention. I had this cycle for years, until I really started to lay down some boundaries, which meant I attracted very few who were giving to get with me.

And on the other hand, I gave to get in my romantic relationships….all the time.

I was the perfect housewife, mother, lover, friend, etc…giving, giving, giving and it was never enough…and I never felt good when I’d be proving my wonderfulness….I’d become resentful, angry and tired. I’d assume and personalize everyone else, all the time.

It’s not just an imbalance, it’s a call to see where we’re begging for validation, for love…to receive the outcome we want.

Our opportunity lies in giving love and validation to ourselves; this is where many cannot shift their focus from the other person to themselves.

Awareness of our patterns, asking why we allow ourselves to act in an extreme way, will usually give an opening to old wounds, beliefs and the patterns we’ve created to stay in this self-destructive place. We believe we deserve to destruct, that our value is minimal, when we give all of ourselves away to receive anything in return.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Power of Simplicity

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As human beings, we tend to complicate things in our minds, far more than is ever necessary.

We do it for a variety of reasons, here are a few:

  • Appearances–so we can show others we’re really muddling through, worrying and/or working hard.
  • Stagnation–so we can remain stuck without making a decision from hours to years.
  • Remain commitment-free–getting so mired in our fears, so we complicate a situation or potential relationship, and never commit.
  • Avoidance–of anything, which requires vulnerability, or letting our guard down, including fun, relaxation, breaking our own rules, etc.
  • Staying out of the present moment–living in the past or the future, our thoughts can keep us from truly being in the experience of the moment.

We take what is simple, give it a label and make a big deal out of it! We remain in our mini-dramas daily.

Look at falling in love. Love is always there, as is the air we breathe. We attach all sorts of meaning and expectations to love and we are never satisfied. Love is as much a feeling, as it is an action. If we were to get past the complex minutia of our “shoulds,” which we feel must be met, BEFORE we act in loving ways, we’d be a lot happier.

How about ordering off a menu in a restaurant, how difficult can we make it?

Even better, trying to figure out the psychology of a stranger. “Why did that dude just cut me off in traffic? What an asshole! If I can catch up to him, I’m gonna flip him off!” Why do we spend this time avoiding, complicating and making a BIG deal out of nothing?

Fear.

If we keep things simple, it means we don’t overreact, avoid, stay stuck, look like we’re uber busy, or keep up the appearance that we’re happy with our loneliness, etc…we have to face ourselves and de-clutter our lives!

In the simplicity of nature, where I often get lost. In fact, I could be left there for days and be quite content. There is a connection we all have to the earth, we go through several gyrations or complicated activities, to find the same peace, as what we can feel walking through a forest or being with the waves of the ocean.

In meditation, we can find the same simplicity, once we quiet our noisy minds of the grocery list, or any other things, which become so important that we place their priority above the simplicity of spending a few minutes meditating.

Spending time with animals, or away from technology…..all of these concepts lead us back to simplicity. It means being with ourselves, it also means we may feel out of control. The more crap we have to deal with the more control some of us believe we have over our lives. The less crap…the more empty spaces that may make us nervous and anxious to fill.

We may complain about the complicated lives we lead, but to give up an inch of that, which can keep us enthralled would mean forging a whole new way of being.

Simplicity at it’s core is inner peace personified. The power of it is immense, when it comes to being in control of our inner world. When we drop the complex thoughts and drama, disowning the need to fill our heads with crap that doesn’t need our energy or time, we have an opportunity to connect.

We can connect with ourselves more fully, once we get over the hump of what will happen to us if we have nothing to worry about, obsess over, or be angry about, and when that happens, so does the magic.

We have space to allow the new to greet us. Life can flow without us making an ordeal over nothing. We will be able to engage in the present being with our finest moments. Enjoying others, and the beauty of those connections, helps to set the foundation for living longer, happier lives.

Stopping to smell the roses, leads to more gratitude, creativity, happiness and fulfillment–we find ourselves in the midst of more abundance than we thought possible. Ever notice when we’re mulling over some complicated issue, the minute we take action and focus on something like gardening, walking, talking with a friend, relaxing our minds in any way….we often get the answer we had spent hours trying to figure out.

Simplicity is the cure for what ails our overly-complicated strategies, to-do lists and expectations.

 

 

 

Power of Gratitude V

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Sometimes I hear, “Have an Attitude of Gratitude,” with the purpose of helping me manifest what I want; have more peace, feel more open and overall, less frustrated with my current lot in life.

And at those times, when I’m most frustrated, I find it difficult to really step out of my comfort zone with it’s revolving thoughts! It’s a merry-go-round in my head! Trying to figure out why, I’m stuck in a place once again, in which, I’ve visited many times, over several years.

Now most people can relate to frustration being a difficult emotion to step out of and stop, cold turkey.

There is a certain comfort to old thoughts and lashing out at the Universe, as to why things are once again headed in an unwelcome direction. I know, because I’ve found it the most challenging time to have any gratitude for anything.

Most negative emotions can wrap us up in their clutches, making it feel impossible to be released.

We don’t get relief, so easily as to just say words of gratitude, oh no! It’s the same thing with positive affirmations, even if the words come out of our mouth, does it match our truth? Does it match our energy, our intention, our feelings?

Just saying words with no real meaning attached to it, gives us no power. It keeps us powerless, especially if the force of our anger or unhappiness is behind it.

In some of my more recent challenges, the ones, which I didn’t understand their significance or reoccurrence, I discovered something new. I came to understand my value.

People can say how wonderful we are, they can slather us in praise, and we can even look in the mirror and say, “Hmmm…not bad,” but these sentiments are not necessarily indicative of how we value ourselves.

In the past, I believed I had to work super hard to get value. I also believed that everything in my life had happened as either a reflection of me or that it was a lesson I wasn’t getting! This trifecta of thoughts would come up every time a past result, seemed to be my present outcome. I’d think of how I handled it differently, how I acted differently and how I thought differently, so how could this possibly be happening?

It dawned on me one day.

Deep inside, I felt, I did not deserve my circumstances, that in this particular event, I embraced my value. I saw where I was responsible, where I had done everything I could think of and it still had poor results. This was not a reflection of me at all. I stopped beating myself up with those recurring thoughts and felt peace.

And what does this have to do with the power of gratitude?

In the realization of my own value, came an opening. All the responsibility I carried for the external circumstances, the outcome, of all that occurred, had dropped from my shoulders. The barriers of blame, I held against the Universe and myself started to crumble. I was able to feel my way into gratitude.

Gratitude is about the present moment, not the future. When it comes to being personally-empowered, all we can be connected to in the mind, body, spirit department is now.

We can be grateful for what is and where we are today. When we value ourselves, our gratitude is clearer and less tinged with what we don’t have in the moment.

If we take a few minutes to really look at a situation, in which we’re held hostage and feel gratitude is the last place we can actually touch, it’s important to stop for a second and ask ourselves, “Have I done everything, I believe can be done in this situation, with the knowledge I have right now?” If the answer is yes, (and it usually is when we’re frustrated), then seeing where we’re applying unnecessary pressure on ourselves for the present situation to be different is key.

Where does that come from?

Once we see why we need the validation of a situation to turn out right, we can gain clarity on our actions and our value. Once we really start honoring our value, we can feel grateful for exactly what is in our lives. We can look at the frustrating situation and know that it’s teaching us gratitude. It’s taught us that there is freedom from the murkiness of believing life has done us wrong, or we’re wrong.

I can be grateful right now for all that is in my life. It allows me to be accepting, and not in such a hurry. I can look at the past and feel thankful for the experiences, which have brought to the place of value I feel in myself.

The power of true gratitude is a feeling of softening, because it connects us to a greater source than ourselves. We’re not so worried and caught up in what might never happen.

Gratitude allows us to connect to our creativity. When we are in this space of freedom, connecting to the creative within us, it opens a door to new thought. We gain a new approach and an opportunity to lessen the intensity of our circumstances, enough so, that our actions coming from gratitude can lead us to a completely different place than we are today.

Thanking every experience and person, past or present for their contribution to helping us discover our true value, places us squarely in an empowered space.

Links to the four other posts in this series:

The Power Of Presence

The Power Of Balance

The Power of Abundance

The Power of Insecurities

 

 

The Power of Presence I

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The first six months of this year have been a major balancing act for me.

Good lessons came…ones that brought a whole new idea to presence, balance, abundance, happiness, relaxation and inner peace…..oh, and “choice.”

The power of presence is clearer to me with each sunrise. Waking slowly, staying in my body with my thoughts and not jumping hours ahead, out of my skin into the thick of the day.

As waking up slowly became more of a habit, I began to realize how many distractions there were coming from outside of my environment and into my phone, computer and invariably, my head.

The realization hit me that I’d allowed all of this to distract me, take me out of presence and into a place where I wasn’t really dealing with me. As it shielded me from me (and my true feelings), it created underlying stress.

I started slowing things down in all areas of my life.

I took measure of how I spent my time and if I was truly present, in the moment.

I didn’t want my life to pass me by, because I was just not emotionally there. I feel when I look back at certain past experiences, that I was distracted by the unimportant things. Worrying or obsessing about irrelevant crap disconnected me from those precious times, sometimes I feel wistful to truly re-experience them.

When I was younger, I put a lot of energy into appearing okay; I felt shitty a lot and didn’t really understand the concept of wholeness (All my great and shitty parts mixed together). I thought, if I looked like my act was together…then I was strong and could gain approval….just like the white picket fence story, et al.

Fast forward to 2014…

As I placed my focus on doing what was in front of me, I also stopped doing things to pull me out of the moment. If I was with other people, I stopped texting, checking Facebook and emailing (unless it was important) and put my attention to either what I’d been avoiding with others (intimacy? engagement? connection? vulnerability? change? etc), and became even more aware of what my truth (my intuition) was telling me.

I stopped focusing on who might want something from me and focused on what I wanted.

I started leaving my phone home by accident or would forget to check messages, and lost the old feeling that I needed to always have a busy phone or inbox and that if I didn’t, something was off. I stopped caring about, always having an escape route out of a moment, which I’d done by getting into a marathon text session, sending off emails or engaging in a lengthy phone call….I just enjoyed the presence of my life, whether I was alone or with others.

I became more active in all areas of my life, taking action to have an experience rather than just talking about it. My days became sweeter, slower and happier.

Perhaps, you can relate to where I was:

  • Have you ever found yourself checking your phone a million times a day, whether you’re with others or alone?
  • Do you look for things to do on your phone or computer to distract you from your life?
  • What about getting twitchy when you realize you haven’t talked or texted for hours on your phone?
  • When you’re in public, at a party, out with friends, etc….do you text, call or email other people?
  • Have you ever thought of what you’re actually avoiding in the environment you are physically in, by these technological distractions (including the TV)? Perhaps, you’re avoiding your spouse, kids, your job or taking action for yourself?

Now all of these questions aren’t mean as 100% of the time, but enough, for you to stop and look at all the ways you may not being present in your life. It was a “wake-up call,” to me. 🙂

If you’d like some tools to gain more presence, click here.

Part ll of this post will be the Power of Balance