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Having a vision of what we want in life is important to our efforts of getting what we want, but we also must take action.
There is a popular misconception that we might be able to just wish our dreams into being. Maybe on some other level of consciousness this is the case, but here on earth what we need to do is take action in our lives. Vision is an important companion to our efforts, but it can't accomplish anything all by itself. When we focus on what we want and ask for what we want, we are initiating a conversation with the universe. Our desires, passionately defined and expressed, bring about valuable and relevant opportunities, which we then respond to by either taking or leaving them.
Many of us are afraid to step out into the world and make things happen, and so we hang back, dreaming and waiting and watching. There are times in life when this is the right thing to do, but this phase of inaction must eventually give way to its opposite if we are to build our dreams into a reality. This can be really scary, and we may fail and struggle, but that's okay because that's what we're supposed to do. Waiting for everything to be perfect before we act, or waiting for what we want to be handed to us, leaves us waiting forever. No one expects us to be perfect, so the best thing we can do for ourselves is to get out there and take action on our dreams.
One of the hardest parts about having a vision is that when we test it in the laboratory of life, it often comes out looking completely different than what we had in mind or, worse, it doesn't come out at all. If you read the life stories of people who have brought their dreams into reality, you will hear many stories about this experience. But you will also hear about hard work, taking action, perseverance, and, finally, the successful birthing of a dream.
True lasting success comes only with surrender, which is the opposite of control.
Most of us were raised and live in a culture that emphasizes the ideals of independence and control. The general idea is that we are on our own and we don't need any help from anyone else, and if we are really successful it's because we are in complete control. However, true lasting success comes only with surrender, which is the opposite of control. We cannot accomplish anything truly great on our own, without any help, and the idea that we can is an illusion that causes most of us a great deal of suffering. Surrender comes when we see that illusion and let go of trying to attain the impossible. Surrender can then be seen as a great strength rather than a weakness.
Even small moments of surrender are powerful indicators of how different our lives could be if we would only let go. We've all had the experience of extending huge amounts of effort and energy to reach a particular goal only to realize that we can't make it happen after all. At the moment of letting go, realizing that we need to ask for help or simply release our agenda entirely, a profound feeling of relief may rush over us. This warm, open sensation is the essence of surrender, and if we didn't feel that we didn't really let go. But it is never too late to let go, even of things in the past that didn't work out the way we wanted them to, because surrender is always an option in every moment of our lives.
When we finally do surrender, our goals actually become possible, because the act of surrender is, in essence, asking for the help we need. This help may come in the form of other human beings or unseen helpers such as angels or inner guides. It may also come in the form of shifting circumstances, the small miracles that we call grace.
Got those Thanksgiving blues? A sodden garden, overcast days and longer hours of darkness may lead to seasonal affective disorder. Can't get out of bed or off the couch? There are a few simple actions you can begin today to fight back and energize your life. They are totally free and can improve your relationship with the world and the people in your life.
Start a gratitude list. Everything seems to be going wrong -- can you think of one single thing to be grateful for, no matter how small? Shout it out to the world! A gratitude list is a powerful tool that can restart your life.
There are plenty of variations, but start with this one: Take a few minutes before bedtime to list at least three things you are grateful for. Begin it with "I am grateful for ..." Maybe you woke up in the morning after a good night's sleep; the day held the bluest sky, rolling clouds, a harvest moon; a hibernating ladybug; discovery of a great mystery writer with a long backlist; a daughter's laugh; a delicious dinner cooked by your husband; a purring cat. There are no rules -- be silly, be free. You think you are the glass half-empty; this is your time to be the glass half-full.
Do this every day for a while. Reread your lists if you feel down. Be patient: strange and almost magical things will start to happen. One day you thank someone you love for a thoughtful action; her face glows. One day you thank a co-worker for helping at your workplace; he pauses and smiles back.
Don't wait ... take a few minutes today -- smell autumn roses, ramble in the garden by yourself, take a walk with a friend you haven't seen for a while. Reach out and talk to a special someone you've lost touch with before he or she walks through the door of the next journey. We walk through a fall garden that lives in the eternal now that includes winter-blooming bulbs fed by summer sunlight whose roots draw nourishment from their leaves' decomposition.
And then there is the gratitude box. It's not a box you stand on but a box you can lean on to chase the blues away. Choose a small box and decorate the outside and inside -- or not. File gratitude lists or loving letters and cards from the people in your life inside your box for later reference. Give a homemade gratitude box to someone as a thank-you gift or to say I love you. Enclose a poem or keepsake, or include a list of "Reasons I'm grateful to you."
Keep a gratitude box as a family. Put little things inside that remind you of happy times. Write down favorite memories of shared moments, wishes and loving messages for one another.
A gratitude list is a celebration of the gifts already present in our lives that are often taken for granted or hidden. Like your garden -- once planted and established -- your gratitude gifts will grow.
All the situations in our lives, from the insignificant to the major, teach us exactly what we need to be learning.
Many of us long to find a spiritual teacher or guru. We may feel unsure of how to practice our spirituality without one, or we may long for someone who has attained a higher level of insight to lead the way for us. Some of us have been looking for years to no avail and feel frustrated and even lost. The good news is that the greatest teacher you could ever want is always with you˜that is your life.
The people and situations we encounter every day have much to teach us when we are open to receiving their wisdom. Often we don‚t recognize our teachers because they may not look or act like our idea of a guru, yet they may embody great wisdom. In addition, some people teach us by showing us what we don‚t want to do. All the situations in our lives, from the insignificant to the major, conspire to teach us exactly what we need to be learning at any given time. Patience, compassion, perseverance, honesty, letting go˜all these are covered in the classroom of the teacher that is your life.
We can help ourselves to remember this perfect teacher each day with a few simple words. Each morning we might find a moment to say, „I acknowledge and honor the teacher that is my life. May I be wise enough to recognize the teachers and lessons that I encounter today, and may I be open to receiving their wisdom.‰ We might also take some time each day to consider what our lives are trying to teach us at this time. A difficult phase in your relationship with your child may be teaching you to let go. The homeless person you see every day may be showing you the boundaries of your compassion and generosity. A spate of lost items may be asking you to be more present to physical reality. Trust your intuition on the nature of the lesson at hand, work at your own pace, and ask as many questions as you want. Your life has all the answers.
We do not need to suffer or live in poverty to be a spiritual person.
The idea that we have to suffer or live in poverty in order to be spiritual is an old one and can be found in the belief systems of many philosophies. Most of us carry this idea around subconsciously, and we may be holding ourselves back from financial or emotional well-being, believing that this is what we must do in order to be virtuous, spiritually awake, or feel less guilty for the suffering of others.
While it's true that there can be a spiritual purpose to experiencing a lack of material well-being, it is rarely intended to be a permanent or lifelong experience. What we are meant to find when material or emotional resources are in short supply is that there is more to our lives than the physical realm. Intense relationships and material abundance can distract us from the subtler realm of the spirit, so a time of deficiency can be spiritually awakening. However, once we recognize the realm of spirit, and remember to hold it at the center of our lives, there is no reason to dwell in poverty or emotional isolation. In fact, once our connection to spirit is fully intact, we feel so compelled to share our abundance that lack becomes a thing of the past.
If you find that you are experiencing suffering in some area of your physical life, perhaps your spirit is asking you to look deeper in your search for what you want. For example, if you want money so that you can experience the feeling of security but money keeps eluding you, your spirit may be asking you to understand that security is not to be found through money. Security comes from an unshakable connection to your soul. Once you make that connection, money will probably flow more easily into your life. If relationships elude you, your spirit may be calling you to recognize that the love you seek is not to be found in another person. And yet, ironically, once you find the love, your true love may very well appear. If you feel stuck in suffering to live a spiritual life, try to spend some time writing about it. The root of the problem will appear and it may not be what you expected. Remember, the Universe wants you to be happy.
Emerson wrote about people's fear of trusting themselves. He saw that so much failure and misery in the world was a result of people failing to trust their own judgment. Yet the ironic thing is: We are always making our own decisions.
Either that or we make our own indecisions, which often lead to worse consequences than active decisions. In a way, not making a decision is a decision, too.
If we let others decide for us--then we've decided to let others decide for us, and that's also our own decision. And while it's fine to delegate decisions to others when they have more information or experience than we do, often we simply do it out of habit or out of fear that our own decision wouldn't be good enough.
Have you ever had a thought or idea but kept it to yourself or not acted on it because you didn't trust its worthiness? Have you ever then heard the same idea come out of someone else's mouth and suddenly felt a wave of emotion--justification, gratification, or even humiliation or resentment because you knew it was your idea first? Your ideas are just as good as anyone's! I've heard it said that everybody has at least two million-dollar ideas in a lifetime. What do you think separates the people who make the million dollars from the rest of us?
Action! Those people rely on themselves, trust themselves, and act! The rest of us have plenty of excuses, reasons why we don't trust ourselves, justifications for not acting--but in the end, we don't even get the chance to turn those great ideas into reality. Self-reliance means trusting ourselves to know what's important, casting aside excuses, and going for it!
If you don't trust yourself to know what's best for you because you're afraid you might be wrong, then whom or what do you trust? It's good to know--they'll be running your life until you change your mind. They'll have all your power, and they'll be the ones to decide whether you do something worthwhile with your life, or whether you simply pace off the minutes from here to the end of the line. And if you don't feel you are trustworthy--if you're living your life based on some kind of weighted average of all the advice you've been given from kindergarten until now--well, whose decision was it to do that?
It was yours. At least, it's yours now. If you've never thought about this before and therefore never had a chance to make the decision to trust yourself--why not make that decision right now?
You're always trusting yourself anyway, on some level; the final decision, or lack of one, always comes down to you. Why not cut through the confusion; the distortion; the doubt, resentment, and fear? Why not trust directly in your own inner sense of what is right and wrong, good and bad, worthwhile and worthless? This is your life. Why not rely on yourself?
The best part about therapy is that even after thirteen years, unlike your marriage, your relationship with your therapist will still be in the honeymoon stage.
Therapy isn't the real world. It's a fantasyland where you, the client, are the center of someone's undivided attention. But however seductive that is, it's a means to an end, not an end within itself.
Fantasyland is also where fantasies happen. And all of a sudden you find yourself wanting to be your therapist's best friend. This sort of attachment is beneficial as long as it never occurs.
In fact, for a long time I thought my therapist was only one-dimensional and didn't actually ever leave her office. In the evenings she just filed herself away and appeared like magic the next morning, bright, ready and alert.
You don't need to know that your therapist probably wanders around Target wearing a daggy Fleetwood Mac t-shirt, arguing with her overweight, chain-smoking husband and obnoxiously behaved children.
Seeing as I used to rank therapists slightly below used car salesmen, politicians and journalists on an integrity scale, I didn't hold out much hope.
The first psych I ever saw asked me if I was breast or bottle fed and the second one told me there were people far worse off than me. The third psych went psycho on me and I couldn't get out of there fast enough.
But my fourth psych seemed to be made of sterner stuff. She was nice enough, but it used to annoy me that all she ever wanted to talk about was my mother.
It wasn't until she told me a very lame fart joke that, in my eyes, she gained any street credibility. Up until that point I thought she was a bit of an Ice Queen, possibly based upon the fact that she was so competent at her job.
Most of my friends had therapists and we'd go out for lunch and compare and contrast. I was always smug because I KNEW I had the best therapist. What I didn't know was that I had a very transparent case of what the psychology world calls transference.
This means transferring a past relationship, usually but not always, your relationship with your parents, and projecting your positive (or negative) feelings about them onto a current relationship, usually with your therapist, who becomes the good (or bad) parent. So your therapist, in effect, is role-playing your fantasy parental figure for the sake of therapy. No matter how badly behaved you are, your therapist will still approve of you. The whole idea is to work out your childhood issues to your satisfaction.
Over time transference will fade and you realize that increment by increment therapy has actually worked and you can now hold your own in the real world.
Just as there is no such thing as the perfect parent, there is no such person as the perfect therapist, just the good enough one. And your mentoring therapist gets a big kick out of seeing you get better.
The same way a good enough parent can sit back at their child's high school graduation and think, "I didn't do such a bad job after all!"
What if you could snap your fingers and all your blocks, anxiety, and fears where no longer there? What would you be doing? How would you be feeling and in what direction would your life be going?
This is an exercise I do with my clients to help them become aware of what they want in their life and what is stopping them for achieving their dreams and goals.
Imagine yourself there for a moment. Hold that vision. What would be different about your life, if you no longer had obstacles in your way?
Having what you want does not have to be a fantasy. It can be a reality. What do you want to know and what needs to change in your life to get there?
That's where I come in. To guide you, lead you, push you, and help you develop the skills and tools you need to start down that path.
To heal, to grow, and to make changes, we all need help, support, and guidance to succeed in our lives. Reach out and find your team. Do something today that starts you on that journey. Take one small step toward your new life.
Good luck on your journey.
When we take ownership of our thoughts we are less likely to project our issues or disowned qualities onto others.
We all have issues, as well as undesirable qualities or traits that we don‚t like about ourselves. Most of us realize that we are not perfect and that it is natural to have unpleasant thoughts, motivations, desires, or feelings. However, when a person does not acknowledge these, they may ascribe those characteristics to someone else, deeming other people instead as angry, jealous, or insecure. In psychological terms, such blaming and fault finding is called projection.
When we are the target of projections, it can be confusing and frustrating, not to mention maddening, particularly when we know that we are not the cause of another person‚s distress. Even people who are well aware of their issues may find that sensitive subjects can bring up unexpected projections. They may feel insecure about a lack of funds and thus view a friend as extravagant. Or, if they really want to get in shape, they may preach the benefits of exercise to anyone and everyone.
While we can try to avoid people we know who engage in projecting their stuff onto others, we can‚t always steer clear of such encounters. We can, however, deflect some projections through mindfulness and meditation. A useful visualization tool is to imagine wrapping ourselves in a protective light everyday. At other times, we may have to put up a protective shield when we feel a projection coming our way, reminding ourselves that someone else‚s issues are not ours. Although it‚s difficult not to react when we are the recipient of a projection, it is a good idea to try to remain calm and let the other person know if they are being unreasonable and disrespectful. We all know that it‚s not fun to be dumped on. Likewise, we should be mindful that we don‚t take our own frustrations out on others. When we take ownership of our thoughts, motivations, desires, and feelings, we are less likely to project our issues or disowned qualities onto others.
"Whatever you are willing to put up with, is exactly what you will have."-Anonymous
It is never too late to learn about your boundaries. I am coming to believe that it is perhaps one of the aspects of living that most defines our maturity and facility for accomplishing our goals.
Boundary issues are common to most of us; in fact, our personal boundaries are the basic, yet often invisible rulebook that guides all of our relationships. Our boundaries define how and what we communicate, what we give and receive, and even, in the most basic sense, provide the parameters for what we expect from others and life itself.
Boundaries reflect how we love ourselves and what we value most deeply. They impact our capacity at work, with authority, with our money and our sexuality. Knowing when we want to say yes, when we want to say no, what feels like self-respect and where our own needs start and end are the foundations that build the sense of boundaries that control our lives.
An old friend once told me that our boundaries are the truest measure of how we love ourselves. I am not alone in my struggle for healthy boundaries. Learning to define our boundaries is challenging for many people because they are fluid and change with our sense of ourselves.
In order to not deal with the changing nature of creating a true relationship between our selves and the people we love, people often over commit to rigid boundaries or under commit to any boundaries at all. This explains why many relationships swing between the "doormat and bulldozer" syndromes.
On the one hand, we are accommodating to a fault, ever flexible and "nice," which both makes us the self sacrificing loser in most conflicts and the self righteous victim. On the other hand, the bulldozer is ever conscious of his needs, but frequently unaware of the needs of others. Characterized by a strong sense of entitlement, this rigid boundary style tends to win at conflicts but loses respect and intimacy in their relationships, often without recognizing what they are giving up.
Sadly these extremes characterize many relationships, from intimate partnerships to family bonding and work contracts. Establishing a true center for our personal boundaries is not an education that most of us get growing up; rather we are hardwired with our invisible boundary rulebook instilled in us as our sense of self worth and esteem. It has taken me half my life to realize that I am a better friend, mother and partner to others when I am a friend to myself first. Drawing the line in relationships that are dysfunctional and unhealthy is the only positive response you can generate.
The weakest link for most of us in setting boundaries is that we never learned that setting a boundary is equivalent to letting go of the outcome in a given situation. In fact, this is the key distinguishing feature between healthy boundaries and manipulative relationships. True boundaries, once set, release the outcome. It is a true letting go of what is not ours. Often the way that I have done them with my relationships is when my boundaries are perceived as threats. Not letting go, trying to control the outcome is a form of manipulation that often gets confused as boundary setting in many relationships.