Official blog for the book "Just Behind the Door"

Archive for May, 2014

Living in the Present!

What if we woke up each morning and after thinking for the first minute or so what we are grateful for in our lives we then thought, ‘I want today to be one of those days I will never want to forget.’ It would put a new spin on our expectations for the day. It doesn’t have to be something big but just something – the look in someone’s eye, the response you receive from someone that causes you to want to remember the moment. It would help to remind us of our importance in the Universe and the fact that life is unfolding just as it is supposed to – one person – one action at a time.

Even if the saying sounds a bit trite, we do know at a deeper level that happiness really is an inside job and no one can do it for us. Sometimes it just takes a small adjustment in our thinking to see the magnificence of the rose rather than worrying about the thorns but it’s not only possible but easier than we might think. Bob Proctor one of the writers in the book,’The Secret,’ talked about ‘secret shifters’ that each of us has which can instantly change our feelings and thus our energy frequency. For some it may be a song, a memory, being out in nature, reading a book or talking with a friend. The list of possible energy shifters is limitless. Yet, we each know what works best for us. When we choose to use an energy shifter we are living in the present. We are recognizing that we need an ‘energy adjustment’ and know just what to do to make it happen at no cost! We realize that life is not happening to us but through us. That’s a powerful state of awareness.

Lao Tzu said, “If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.” Those three sentences really sum it up. The ultimate gift, the beauty of our entire existence evolves from our thinking. Are we stuck in the past, living in the present or worried about the future? Planning for the future is important and can be made even more powerful when we let our plans peacefully incubate in the back of our minds once they are formed. Living in the present and knowing that the future will be exactly as it is supposed to be allows us to breathe more deeply which in turn attracts even more positive energy to us and helps to make our plans a reality. That sequence of thinking – planning – then letting our plans incubate while living in the present – eliminates the regrets of the past or fear of the future that often slip in, like an unannounced visitor, as we go about our daily lives.

Could this be the day that we choose to begin to fully live in the present? It’s worth a thought and to me might just be the perfect beginning of the rest of our lives!

Make it a great few days!

Personal Reflection is Powerful!

Personal reflection is a good thing to do once in a while. Often we are so busy doing we forget to stop, inhale deeply and think about what we have lived through and accomplished. Give yourself a few minutes to think about your life over the past five years. What are the major things, the good, the bad and the ugly that you experienced? We usually don’t see events coming and when the great ones happen we are surprised, relieved and grateful. When the really tough ones hit us they can bring us to our knees. Yet through it all consider this, you are still alive to tell the tale! That’s an indicator of just how strong you really are inside.

We all have moments of self doubt and worry – it’s what makes us human. But you might want to consider the approach of a quick review of what you have lived through and learned from the next time you are feeling stressed, worried or unsure if you can handle another challenge in your life. Your track record serves as a powerful reminder. It is the concrete evidence that proves you are capable of anything because you have made it to this point in your life and learned from the events. You have shown balance in your purpose and determination in you achievements. You are a strong person and no one can ever take that away from you.

You might be thinking… but what about tomorrow or next week… I have this thing coming up and I’m unsure if I can do it. Actually, a little nervousness is usually a good thing. It causes us to bring our ‘A’ game into play. When we are concerned we often over plan or over prepare and in so doing we go the extra mile and discover that there is very little traffic there to contend with at that point. Susan Taylor said, “our greatest problems in life come not so much from the situations we confront as from our doubts about our ability to handle them.”

By taking a moment to reflect upon the life challenges you have lived through up to this point in your life it will give you the courage and belief to know that you will be able to handle whatever surfaces next because you have demonstrated strength and tenacity in the past. You don’t always have to like a challenging event that surfaces but you needn’t be cowered by it either. By taking stock of what you have lived through you now know deep down that you can overcome anything once you set your mind to it. That’s a powerful feeling that you have justly earned.

Above all, look at the people who love you, respect you and need you from time to time. They are messengers from the Universe sent to tell you that you are important to them and perfect just the way you are … A beautiful spirit of the Universe who is on a mission to make the world a little better place.

Have a great few days!

Graduation Brings New Challenges!

During the next two weeks thousands of seniors will be graduating from high school. Some have been planning their next steps for some time, some for only a couple of months and some not at all. The fact that this stage in their life is ending can cause sadness, nostalgia and even fear – especially for those who are not immediately moving on. It can feel like a void has developed in their lives.

As a culture we have come to expect that college or training after high school is essential – and it is – if the student is ready but that’s a big IF. It takes emotional readiness to move on and if pushed too quickly the student can fail or drop out because they were not mature enough to handle it. That image of failure can last a life time in their memory. Typically, students who have a pattern of seeking immediate gratification need longer to grow up. Just as young children learn to walk at different times – some at 10, 12 or 14 months and it’s okay at the same time we realize that we can’t simply hold them on our hips throughout life but must allow them to fall, pick themselves up and to persistently keep trying to achieve success. Well, the same goes for maturity. It doesn’t just happen but can be helped along the way by the attitude of a parent or loved one.

As parents or family members we don’t want to see them flounder and want to ‘fix it’ for them. We naturally want to take away their angst about the tomorrows in their lives. This is when it takes all of our courage not to rush in and attempt to ‘make it all better’ as we did when they were young. Life is not about constantly fixing things for our children but encouraging them to face reality and in this case that reality may be that they need a little longer to grow up. It is about loving them enough to take the time to talk with them until they get it. Don’t expect the first, second or even tenth times to be enough. Remember they are a bit immature and with immaturity comes lack of focus.

If they haven’t been planners in the past and were more into immediate gratification the only way for them to understand the critical need to develop and work a plan in their life now is to let them experience what it feels like not to have one. This is where tough love comes in. We must allow them to face the reality of not getting something they think they want especially if we know they are not mature enough to handle it. Moving on after high school takes physical, mental and emotional maturity which develops over time not over night.Those things are not something that can be bought, given or sold. It must come from the depths of the student who is so disappointed, maybe even a bit angry enough to do something about it. In goal setting it is said that we must become sick and tired and reach our depth of dissatisfaction before we decide to make a change happen in our lives.

Growing older is not an option but growing up and maturing is – it takes conscious effort to learn to delay gratification. Developing maturity usually starts by working at things that we don’t love or even like. But as we have to work at them we become more determined to change our path and develop short and long term plans to change our circumstance. Becoming a productive, responsible person is not simply about getting what we want it is about working through the things we don’t want or like to achieve our goals. That takes maturity and it only starts when we experience what we don’t want and force ourselves to face it head on. Jobs that simply sound like fun are therefore not the answer unless you want to see them permanently searching for the fun in life rather than the productive element of achievement that will cause them to feel more self confident and become happier people ultimately. Looking for a job because it just sounds like fun simply delays the process of maturing – sometimes permanently.

Watching a graduating senior flounder a bit can be the hardest thing we do but if we love them enough to stand firm and expect them to get a full time job in the meantime it can make all the difference in their lives. As a responsible, loving parent it is our job to get our kids to face the reality of their own situations not with excuses but with the truth. If not us – who, if not now – when? We all pay the piper in life it’s a matter of when and how. When these students don’t have their immediate gratification realized they can choose to make the best of the situation by becoming productive in what ever job they are doing, that’s step one in becoming a successful, independent and happy human being. Life we know is a great balancing act. It takes concentration, determination and work. No one can do it for us. We each have our own unique lessons to learn.

Have a great few days!

Child, Parent or Adult – That is the Question

Years ago there was a book by Eric Berne entitled the ‘Games People Play.’ It was a popular read that was steeped in a deeper analysis of human motivation somewhat based on Freud. Berne explained the deeper concepts using three different approaches that we could relate to in our lives. His premise was that people typically use one of these approaches to avoid real intimacy or at least to get what they want out of life. Being honest with ourselves we all use methods of manipulation in our lives. Like everything else in life it is to the degree that we use them that either helps or impedes our growth. Berne labeled these three different approaches as the Child, Parent, and Adult perspectives. It is worth examining our typical responses as well as those around us to understand how these perspectives apply. We choose one of these perspectives to seek attention, recognition and ‘strokes’ from others. Early in life we discovered that one of them seemed to work better for us and over time it may have become a behavioral mode of interacting with others to help us control our circumstances. With everything in life the more we do something the better we become at it.

To begin, let’s look at the Child orientation. Think of a young child and frequently a smile will come to your face as they entertain us, and make us laugh at their behavior. We watch them as they are naturally spontaneous, curious and display a confidence to try new things. They just want to have fun right? But they can also be difficult if they don’t get their own way, or receive an immediate response to their demands. They can throw tantrums and exhibit a stubbornness and catastrophic view of events that are out of their control. Rather than ‘go with the flow’ they expect to control the flow because they just know people want to make them happy. After all, who doesn’t just love a child?

The next perspective, labeled the Parent approach, can involve problem solving, wise counsel and a feeling of safety and security. However, it can also result in telling, directing, demanding and judging. This can be the person who seems to think they have all the right answers – not just for themselves but for us as well. After all, many of us looked to one or both of our parents to give us an answer or an okay about something we wanted to do in our life. We looked for their approval. What type of message did you receive from your parent(s) about work, relationships, achievement and security. Are you modeling the same behavior you watched as a child?

The last approach, labeled the ADULT is one which uses a rational objectivity, acceptance of truth – without judgment or demands. An example would be that when listening to you explain a challenge or roadblock in your life asks you how you feel about it. They want you to process your feelings and grow from your inner discovery. They are cautious about giving advice because they realize that we are all on our own unique path and that the answer for one person may not be the right answer for another when dealing with human interactions. In spiritualism this approach would be compared to functioning in our higher self. Realizing that events happen for a purpose, a lesson and that we are basically actors on the stage of life living the parts of the script that we have written.

The beauty in examining our own behavior is that it can help us to determine areas or edges that we might choose to smooth out or areas in which we would like to expand our repertoire of responses. The more we examine ourselves the more confident and at peace we can become

Have a great few days!

Letting Go Takes Love

This is the last blog in a 3 part series about the habit of rescuing others. Habits are hard to break. Breaking the habit of rescuing others is even harder because it involves you and someone else who has come to expect things from you. Without realizing what you have created by continuing to ‘be there in a pinch’ you may see that an entitlement mentality has developed. If so, we must ask ourselves if we are really helping them through their latest ‘crisis’ or actually causing them to become more dependent, or at least expectant on us, over the long haul. Think of holding a young child’s hand when they are learning to walk. You wouldn’t think of continuing to hold their hand throughout their adult life right? That would make them weak, insecure and emotionally dependent. A continual pattern of rescuing others actually hurts rather than helps them. What we do want is for them to develop resiliency in life. The ability to bounce back from their own life challenges. The Universe gives each of us exactly the challenges we have chosen to learn in this lifetime. There is no lesson learned by someone else fixing our problems. Sadly, the lessons will continue in frequency and intensity until we alone handle them ourselves. The following poem written by an unknown author sums up the importance of not rescuing others.

To ‘let go’ does not mean to stop caring,
it means I can’t continue to fix life for someone else.
To ‘let go’ is not to cut myself out of the picture but
to realize that I can’t fix every scene.
To ‘let go’ is not to continually enable crisis thinking
but to have enough faith in them to change it.
To ‘let go’ is to admit powerlessness,
which means I can’t fix their life, they must do it themselves.
To ‘let go’ is not to blame or try to change them
but to accept how they choose to live their life.
To ‘let go’ is not to care for
but to care about.
To ‘let go’ is not to be in the middle, arranging the outcomes
but to allow them to experience their chosen destiny.
To ‘let go’ is not to be overly protective
but to permit another to face their own reality.
To ‘let go’ is to have enough faith in another
to allow them to learn their own life lessons.
To ‘let go’ is to fear less and love more.

Each of us must learn to set our own boundaries, limits and expectations. When we truly love others enough we begin to practice being a good listener and supportive when they face life challenges but resist the temptation to just fix it one last time. We become strong enough to recognize the difference between enabling and disabling others from our actions. Over time, as we back away, we will see those same people who had come to rely on us handle their own situations and we can take pride in realizing that we had enough love and faith in them to know they could do it!

Have a great few days!

Drop the Superman Cape!

This is the second blog on the topic of rescuing others and creating an entitlement mentality. Please go to last Sunday’s blog in the archives to read part one if you missed it. The topic, of course, is when to help someone in need and when to realize that YOU are perpetuating an expectation in them that is interfering with their life lessons and growth.

Let’s first start with you in the role of the rescuer. If you are reading this I bet you have become quite good at it. Although you don’t wear a badge that says, ‘Rescuer in Charge,’ you may be living the role. When you get to the point that you can no longer do everything or you start to resent the fact that you are constantly called upon to ‘fix’ something for someone it is time to accept responsibility for what you have created. The timing is easy to figure out both your head and heart will tell you. If you have offered a helping hand to someone once or twice and it has helped them, good for you! If, however, you look at a situation and find that a pattern has been established in which you are repeatedly called upon to jump in to fix something for them it says more about you as Rescuer in Charge than it does about them.

What exactly is this rescuer behavior pattern and how did you acquire it? Most likely it goes back to childhood. At some early age you realized that if you did something to help someone things would go smoother for them in the family dynamics. Sure enough it worked and you felt that you had figured out a way to avoid an upset if you jumped in to rescue. As long as you were ever ready to fix the latest problem things seemed to go better. Let’s fast forward 20, 30 or even 40 years. The pattern you have established from childhood is to rescue -to jump in and help anyone and everyone when a crisis surfaced. In fact, you may have become so good at it that you are literally called upon by many people when a crisis happens in their life. It makes you feel important, loved even, as you once again get things back to an even keel when you put on your Superman cape and dramatically swoop in to help. You think to yourself, ‘I can do this or that ….they need me.’ It’s a heady feeling to be needed.

An opportunity for your own self growth arises when you can no longer meet the ever expanding requests and are courageous enough to admit it. If you have established a pattern of being needed (also known as the rescuer) and do something about it pat yourself on the back. When you decide enough is enough be prepared. Folks may not remember how many times you were there for them but only this time when you did not jump in. Expect this response and you won’t be disappointed. Most likely they will resent you for saying ‘No, I can’t help this time.’ After all you have conditioned them to expect you to be there. Your help has become a life expectancy. It will take them a little while to regroup after your first or second refusal but trust me, they will regroup. In fact, they will become stronger, as we all do, when the have to figure out our own solutions in life. When we rise to the challenge we gain self confidence and a greater feeling of control in life.

The good part is that you have been able to help others in the past and have made the world a little better place. Now you recognize that a pattern of expectancy has developed and you love them enough to be strong and break the cycle. Be prepared, the thinking of those you have continuously helped goes like this….’If I act overwhelmed, angry or depressed or simply refuse to accept that he/she says they can’t do what I want them to do, they will give in and fix it.’ Trust me on this, you are being manipulated by them to their own detriment. They have figured out your pattern way before you have figured out theirs. They will be confused, at first, because their manipulation has ‘worked’ for them in the past. The truth is that it has slowly but surely caused them to feel that life just isn’t fair and and the ‘poor me’ syndrome in their life has set in. What you did out of love and concern has become an obligation – an expectancy – and everyone loses. You wouldn’t purposely hurt someone you love but without realizing it you are doing just that by allowing them to continually rely on you. You have moved from enabling them to disabling them by always running to the rescue.

This may come as a shock but the truth is that they will survive without you when they are forced to accept responsibility for their life choices and challenges. They will stop the blame game or ‘poor me’ attitude and will decide to readjust their thinking to be, ‘If it’s going to be it’s up to me.’ That is an empowering mind set. Regardless of their decision to handle their situation or not, one thing is for sure, if you have established a pattern of rescuing others only YOU can fix it.

Next Sunday I will follow up on this topic with a poem that talks about letting go with love. It is a powerful lesson for those of us who are fixers in life. Stay tuned!

Have a great few days!

Developing Self Confidence

Is it hard for you to let go and let others figure out a solution to their latest crisis or drama? If you answered YES! to this question you are not alone. For instance, the number of adult children in their 20’s, 30’s even 40’s still living with their parents or being supported by them is both surprising and sad. We can’t simply blame it on the economic times but we can see it for what it is, a feeling of entitlement, low self esteem and the development of a new norm of expectation. Entitlement can run deep in many relationships. I have had the chance to talk with people recently about the entitlement mentality and I thought it important to share their collective thoughts. Although they remain hopeful that ‘tomorrow will be better’ deep down they feel both burdened and resentful that there always seems to be a new crisis that they are called upon to fix. One person offered an analogy that describes it quite well. “At first I saw them limping and offered what I thought was a temporary crutch but now they seem to be permanently on crutches and expecting me to fix their latest issue. They have a permanent limp!”

Look closely at the human dynamics of your situation. If you notice an entitlement behavioral pattern that has developed in someone you have a choice, to feed into it and fix their latest crisis once again or say, ‘I can’t rescue any longer.’ It takes all the courage you have to change your own enabling behavior but my question to you is, ‘Are THEY worth it?’ By continually rescuing others it lowers their own self worth and becomes emotionally crippling to them. They lose confidence over time and begin to slide into the ‘poor me’ mentality. Consequently, they don’t accept responsibility for the result of their own choices but are quick to say someone or something else caused the latest crisis in their lives. The truly sad part is that continuing this mentality causes them to experience even more challenges because they are not learning their own life lessons that are continually being presented to them. We know that at first the Universe whispers, then talks and eventually shouts – repeatedly – to them through ever increasing challenges in their lives until the day they decide, ‘If it’s going to be it’s up to me.’

The good news is that they can and will step up to the plate if and when you remove yourself as the perpetual ‘Rescuer in Charge’ of their latest crisis. Even if there is a generational pattern of dependency, positive change over time can happen for them when they are forced to deal with each challenge that they create. The first step is a big one but over time it gets easier.

The issue is about so much more than money. With the 24/7 news coverage we experience we often see the children and family members of the incredibly rich demonstrate this rescuer/dependency cycle. Just look at the research on the lottery winners. One year after winning large sums they are no happier than before. Why? Because their self confidence and self esteem wasn’t increased – only their bank account. They didn’t put in the effort and self discipline to learn their life lessons and achieve something, they simply won money, not self esteem, and it is an empty win.

Success is experienced when a person faces life head on, accepts responsibility for their latest challenge and figures out a way to handle it ….without you. Is it hard to stand by and watch them struggle – absolutely! Do you have enough faith and love for them to let them figure out their own solutions? Unless you want to see them at 60 years old still struggling to learn independence you must be strong, even fearless when the next crisis happens and allow them the human dignity to figure it out on their own.

In my next blog I will be talking more about this topic. It takes time to internalize our own lessons and change our enabling behavior. Just remember saying ‘No’ doesn’t mean you don’t love them but that you love them too much not to say it.

Have a great few days!