Official blog for the book "Just Behind the Door"

Archive for March, 2013

Fear of the Unknown

We like closure. It helps us feel more in control. However, if closure is not immediate what do we do? Frequently, we fill in the details about what this MIGHT mean. Our monkey brains work nonstop and our past experiences often fill in the unknown with fear, anxiety and negative thinking. Fear, in itself, can be a good thing. It has allowed us to evolve by signaling the need for a flight response. For instance, one could think of the letters in the word fear as standing for ‘f… everything and run’ when you feel physically threatened.

Another valid interpretation of the letters in fear could mean ‘false evidence appearing real’ when we don’t have enough information to understand the meaning behind a situation. In this circumstance your choice of interpretation is just that, your choice and your interpretation based on incomplete data. When you slow down and think more deeply about what you really don’t yet know about the circumstance you gain a sense of control and greater self confidence.

Ultimately, when additional information is supplied we usually think to ourselves, ‘Oh, that wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.’ It might even be a good thing eventually but at the initial moment we often have a tendency to put ourselves through a boat load of stress and worry. Why?

We act consistently with beliefs about ourselves which were formed from childhood and further developed through life experiences. The problem is that we often create our own filters during moments of stress and negative experiences then use these filters to interpret the future. This is especially true if someone in our lives has been in a position that, over time, created fear or anxiety in our lives. Maybe we had a parent or boss that used intimidation or fear as a method of control. If you have experienced this it really says a lot more about their insecurities than about your own capabilities. But as you are creating your own life filters you are rarely able to internalize this point.

The good news is that once we realize that our fears often develop from either lack of information or from the negative behavior directed from others we can do something about it! When we feel fear or anxiety about future events begin to take over our thinking we have the power to slow down our thinking, exhale slowly, and remember that 99% of what we fear or worry about never comes to pass. Future events can be interpreted with fear and anxiety OR a belief in your own personal power. If you reflect upon the many things in life that you have been able to manage, accomplish and overcome, it will help you gain a renewed sense of confidence. You really can handle whatever life has in store.

Visualize the phrase ‘jumping to conclusions.’ It’s a funny image. Would you normally arrive at a conclusion about something in your life without all the needed information? Would you buy something, designed something or conclude something about someone with few facts? Probably not. Yet this is exactly what we do to ourselves when we allow fear or anxiety from previous experiences to control our interpretation of future events.

Learning to control our response to stressful or difficult circumstances is not easy. It takes practice. We may fall back, occasionally, to the ‘what ifs’ in life. That’s okay. The amount of TIME we allow ourselves to REMAIN in that state seems to determine our happiness index in life overall. Something to think about!

Have a great few days!

Permission to say No

If I could give you anything I’d give you back yourself. What does that mean? Many of us are so busy meeting the needs of others that we forget the importance of taking care of ourselves. We put ourselves second, third or even in last place and then wonder why we become resentful and exhausted. To add insult to injury, then we start feeling guilty about these feelings! I have a question for you to consider to illustrate this point. What have you done lately that was simply fun to do? When was the last time you felt like you were smiling from the inside out because you were just simply enjoying the moment?

It is not easy to say no to someone who continually relies on you. It makes you feel needed and important. Over time being the ‘go to’ person results in a feeling of being taken advantage of – and you are right. Once the habit is established it is difficult, but not impossible, to pull back and change. However, it is so important to allow others to meet their own personal and family needs. It helps them grow and realize that they are capable of so much more. Greater self confidence is a result of meeting challenges and learning that you can overcome them. Would you want to rob someone of achieving greater confidence? Of course you wouldn’t but by trying to meet everyone’s needs that’s what happens.

Giving to others is a good thing. We were taught that from childhood. What many of us were not taught, however, was to value ourselves enough to be able to say no to a request or expectation from someone when you really want or need to do so. Why is it so hard to say no? Basically, we are afraid ‘they’ won’t like, appreciate or need us in the future. So rather than facing our own insecurities we just put our needs on hold so that we won’t let someone down. By doing so we let ourselves down in the process.

We all want to feel loved, needed and safe. These emotional needs can be a gift or a burden. It’s all a matter of perspective and moderation . It is so important to love ourselves enough to calmly yet firmly refuse to be the person that everyone else relies on. There are no blue ribbons or 1st in show awards given out to us when we are always available, always meeting the needs of others. In fact, just the opposite is true. We become less respected and our lives become more chaotic when we are in a cycle of continually helping others and placing ourselves and our needs on the bottom of the list.

If you have been feeling overwhelmed or burdened by meeting the never ending needs of others maybe it’s time to reassess your own behavior. It is never too late to learn the art of gracefully saying no to someone. Just like everything else in life, it is not what you say but how you say it that makes all the difference. Consider practicing how to say no to someone with positive, loving energy. Remember you will be allowing them to grow into the confident, capable human being that they are meant to be in the process.

Have a great few days!

Values on Your Compass

We each have our own moral compass consisting of our personal standards, values, and beliefs that have been formed from childhood and enlarged upon as we experience life. The values on our compass are the touchstones that are sacred to us as individuals. For example, concepts such as honesty, compassion and integrity are just a few areas that may constitute our moral compass. What five words would you choose to list on your moral compass? Which one concept is your true north, the most important of all the other values? The one you simply cannot compromise and remain true to yourself?

Although we all have our own moral compass we are interdependent on each other for survival. If we think about the clothes we wear, the food we eat, the energy we use to heat our homes or drive our cars, other human beings were involved in delivering to us what we needed to survive. It takes all of us to contribute our own unique skill set, working within our own moral compass, for the world to work.

We are inherently good, well-intentioned folks. We give and take from the banquet before us and try to make the world a little better place during our extended stay here. The challenge seems to be when values on our own moral compass conflict with values on the moral compass of others. What do we do when we disagree with the values that others seem to hold as their true north?

As individuals, it seems natural to have different priorities, different sacred cows. This can work well as long as we stay committed to improvement to society as a whole. However, if we allow ourselves to fall into indifference and not hold ourselves or others accountable for hypocrisy or benefit to personal vested interest rather than society as a whole than our system, our moral compass, begins to be negatively effected and we all lose.

It takes time to help a friend or loved one who is seeking input and yet, the time spent seems to be in direct proportion to the value we place on our human experience. How much time are you willing to give to help another? It also takes time to have your voice heard on political, economic or other areas. Time is the ultimate compliment you can offer to another person or cause. Who knows, you might just have a positive effect on the world. It’s worth a try.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, ” It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.”

Have a great few days!

The Tree of Gratitude

Gratitude comes in different forms. Let’s visualize the levels of gratitude as the three main parts of a tree. The beautiful canopy of leaves that shade us from the sun is the gratitude we feel when something good happens to us or a friend or loved one. These daily experiences come in all types and variations just as the many leaves on a tree. All are significant, purposeful and give us a sense of thankfulness and appreciation for life. They give us hope for tomorrow.

The second form of gratitude could be visualized as the powerful trunk of the tree. It keeps the tree stable and allows it to withstand pelting rain, strong winds and heavy snow. This is the type of gratitude we feel from an unconditional belief that God/The Universe doesn’t make mistakes. We know in our hearts that everything that happens (or doesn’t happen) in our life is for a reason. We accept that we live in a purposeful Universe and that anything that happens can be seen as a message or lesson from the Universe. The hidden gift in this level of gratitude is in our ability to seek the purpose behind the experience and learn from it. Whether the ultimate result was what we wanted to happen or not we know it is important to search further to glean the lesson from the experience.

The highest form of gratitude can be compared to the actual life sustaining root system of the tree. It is the true thankfulness we feel when we remember that our entire being is a gift of love from the Universe. We were created perfectly with all the gifts, talents and love we will ever need. We just have to stop chasing that elusive butterfly of happiness and let in land in its rightful place and home on our shoulder. We know the answers to the questions we are asking or the right response to the challenges of the moment. The type of happiness that results from this form of gratitude is life transforming. Just as the root system of the tree remains the strength of life for the tree, this deeper level of gratitude is our root system of authentic, never-ending happiness. When we accept that living a life of love, happiness and peace is our birthright it frees us, allows us to breathe more deeply and face life with a smile from the inside out. We have chosen this life we are living to learn our own unique lessons and to make the world a little better place by being in it. We can do all this an more when we face our tomorrows with the strength in our belief that we are a part of an incredible energy field of love, designed to be happy and confident that we have all that we need to be successful.

Today is the perfect day to start believing in your inalienable right to live a life of happiness, joy and love. You deserve it!

Make it a great few days!

Living with Joy

Piers Morgan interviewed American stage and screen actress Valerie Harper last night on CNN. After winning her battle with lung cancer in 2011, she has recently been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. Her doctors told her that she has only weeks or months to live. She decided to go public with her health issue to remind us to focus on the things that are really important in life and to live life to the fullest. Knowledge of one’s impending death strips away the minors in our thinking and allows us to get to the majors – the true heart of the matter. She looked and sounded radiantly happy, even joyful at times, and it took my breath away. It was the kind of happy that we rarely see but recognize it as coming from somewhere deep, deep inside.

Some things she said she has learned and wanted to share were:

Don’t miss one hour of today thinking about tomorrow
Whatever lies ahead is just that – ahead – and not now
Refuse to think of the should haves, would haves or could haves in your life

Her point was to not let fear of your tomorrows or regrets of your yesterdays control your life. Since none of us gets out of here alive we need to learn to enjoy the ride. Each of us has our own unique lessons to learn and it makes sense to surround ourselves with positive energy as we are learning them. Yes, issues come up, challenges can momentarily reroute our path but everything that happens can be viewed in either a positive or negative frame – an opportunity to grow in wisdom or not.

Valerie also mentioned the topic of forgiveness. She said it is giving up the wish that the past could have been different and releasing the energy we are using to keep those regrets alive in our minds. Better to use that energy making today all that it can be.

When Piers Morgan asked her how she wanted to be remembered she said, “Up and off the couch!”

Valerie Harper is such an inspiration – a model – of how to accept the inevitable without anger or regret but simply with a sense of peace. A knowing and accepting in her heart that ‘all is as it should be.’ In facing her imminent death she is valiantly using the last bit of energy she has to reach out to us with a gentle reminder about the importance of truly living in the now. She is modeling a love of humanity that is so heartfelt it seems like her life mission. She is teaching us how to live as well as how to pass on with dignity and grace.

Watching her was both inspiring and humbling. I thank her for all that she has done to entertain us in the past and all that she is doing now to guide us in the present. Happy journey Valerie!

Let’s make it a great few days by putting her ideas in action!

Dreams for Tomorrow

Remember the song, ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’? The line in the lyrics that especially moves me is, ‘the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true.’ What are your dreams? What do you want more than anything in the world? Do you have a dream for tomorrow?

Are you into possibility thinking or limitation thinking? For instance, if you want something to happen in your life but you are saying to yourself, I am too young, too old, too inexperienced too WHATEVER .. stop and listen to yourself. You are limiting yourself by what you are thinking. There is no magic age or situation that is the pivotal point that finally allows you to be happy. It is a daily thought process that allows you to evolve into possibility thinking! Happiness really is a state of mind not a state of circumstance.

If you find yourself thinking, I don’t have enough money to .. (fill in the blank) or I am not smart enough to … (again, fill in the blank) or I have to wait until … just stop… why are you placing limits on yourself? When we hear the statement that we are our own worst enemy it sort of fits in this context. The Universe will only deliver to you what you truly desire – no more no less. That sort of puts everything into perspective don’t you think?

I would recommend that you look at tomorrow as the first day of the rest of your life. No kidding, let’s look at tomorrow as a clean slate – let’s forget about what didn’t happen in your past and think about what you want and desire for the rest of your life and actually make it happen. You are, after all, the grand designer of all that you are and all that you will be in this lifetime.

Everything in the Universe is perfectly aligned to deliver whatever is foremost in your thinking. So let’s make our thinking one of possibilities not limitations. Make tomorrow the best day of your life!

Have a great few days!

90% is a Good Percentage!

It has been said that 90% of what we worry about never happens. Yet, many of us find ourselves ruminating about the many things that can go wrong when trying to make a decision or simply facing a new day. We may conjure up all kinds of ‘what ifs’ regarding things that could happen. I understand the need for caution and to think through the pros and cons of a situation before making a big decision. However, many times we can become paralyzed by fear and refuse to move forward with a change in our lives because something negative might happen.The operative word here is might!

If you fast forward to the end of your life how do you think people will remember you? Will they say he/she gave me energy when I was around them and encouraged me to grow? Or will they think that being around you was an obligation which drained them of their own energy? Something they needed to do simply because they were a family member or close friend. You really never know which of your words or actions will create a lasting memory for someone else.

Our thinking, whether positive or negative takes root and produces seeds that will grow into the tomorrows of our lives. In fact, these seeds can affect the tomorrows of our loved ones lives as well. Our legacy to family and friends can be one of hope, possibility thinking and love or not. It is completely up to us to choose. I believe our words, behavior and overall modeling can be the greatest gift or burden we can pass on to future generations. Our life is no brief candle but a torch that we pass on to future generations that will, hopefully, burn brightly when they remember us. When you put your thinking and behavior in that perspective it takes on a whole new meaning.

The next time you find yourself in a cycle of negative thinking and unable to move past the fear involved in either decision making or simply facing a new day remember that the law of averages is on your side. I believe, without question, the axiom that 90% of what we worry about never happens. Personally, I like those averages!

As my son said in my book, “Mom, everything is as it should be.” I believe this with everything in me. This message from the other side has given me confidence to make changes in my life, face uncertainties when necessary and continue to move forward with a belief of the rightness of my decisions and the wonderful possibilities in my tomorrows. Hopefully, I can pay it forward to you.

Have a great few days!

Let Go and Live

In my book, Just Behind the Door, I shared the many messages I have received from my son on the other side. It has been a long journey through the process of grief and there have been so many lessons presented especially on the topic of forgiveness. When I work with others who have lost a significant person in their lives it is not uncommon for them to be angry that their loved one ‘left them.’ Please know that you were not abandoned by your loved one. It was their time- as crazy as that may sound – and ‘All is as it should be.’ God or the Universal Energy does not make mistakes.

If your past memories are dominating your present life it may be time to consider the importance of changing your thinking.

Holding on to the past hurts whether it be the loss of someone dear to you or simply negative events that have found their way into your memory limits your energy and restricts the possibility of happiness for your tomorrows. If you think of your brain as simply a vessel that holds things, how much space are you using up with sad or hurtful memories from the past? I’ll bet you can remember incidences from your life as far back as elementary, middle and even high school that caused you mental anguish. Add to those memories any situations in your recent past that have caused you anxiety or hurt. Think of the negative weight you are carrying around in your mind. Can you just imagine how much more energy you would have and happier you would feel if you made a conscious effort to rid yourself of these hurts from your past.

To let go takes work. If you could simply say to yourself I’m done with that and move on that would be like hitting an ‘easy button.’ Learning to let go of the hurt, loss and emptiness necessitates that you spend active moments working on it. For instance, make a list of the 10-20 events that have happened to you in your life that rocked you to your very core. The things that hurt so badly that at times you didn’t know if you could go on. Write them out, look at them and think about how much energy it is taking to keep those sad memories alive. Are you ready to let go of them?

Meditation is a wonderful way to help recalibrate your thinking. It is a powerful approach to use on the topic of forgiveness. Close your eyes, breathe deeply and think about each of the things on the list and decide if you are ready to be free of the burden of keeping it alive. Send the memory out to the Universe each time you exhale. Just think to yourself, I no longer want to keep this negative memory. I send it out to the Universal Energy with love. I choose to live surrounded by positive energy for a better tomorrow. You will need to repeat this activity many times before your mind will truly let go of them. Be patient. They have been building up over your lifetime and it will take a little time to unearth them. There is no substitute for putting in the time necessary to release the hurts of all your yesterdays. But it is so worth the effort.

Have a great few days!

Learning the Art of Forgiveness

In my last blog I suggested you make a list of family members and close friends and attach one word to each person to demonstrate the way they dealt with forgiveness. It is important to think about the messages you may have internalized up to this point in your life. It’s rather like taking a base line measurement to determine how you were trained to handle situations that were hurtful or demeaning. Some people stew about things for years and want to tell us at every opportunity how they were wronged. Others have learned to look at what happened and learn from it. They don’t forget an injustice but simply refuse to give it any emotional energy after the fact. They move on realizing they have learned an important life lesson but refuse to carry the weight or burden of resentment. They realize that withholding forgiveness will just harden their own heart.

Forgiveness is recognizing an injustice that happened but refusing to let it control your future. It is used when someone admits and takes ownership for something that caused pain to another. It is both an art and skill worth developing. Many times we can observe others and learn from them. In the book, A Course in Miracles, forgiveness was defined as letting go of all hope for a better PAST. When you think about it in those terms it makes sense. No one can go back and change the past. Better to learn from it and remember to be more prepared in the future than to hold on to the past and waste even one more second on what you wish had happened.

Who from your list of family or friends is good at forgiveness? Can you see this person dealing with a difficult situation but refusing to be sidelined through anger, revenge, isolation or other negative emotions? Who in your group is good at holding onto a grudge? Which person seems happier? Which person gives you more energy when you are around them? Who do you choose to emulate?

Learning to forgive yourself is the first step in learning true forgiveness. We bring to the game all that we have and know at the moment. We are not perfect and do not have all the answers but are learning along the way. Each life experience gives us the chance to become more fully functioning human beings or not – the choice is always up to us. Learning to forgive ourselves and others is a crucial step in living a life worth remembering.

Forgiveness is like all the other lessons we are presented with in life. Until we learn it, it will continue to resurface again and again in our lives. When we have a deeper understanding, we can stop the pattern. Tomorrow is a good day to start practicing forgiveness. Are you ready?

Have a great few days!