Official blog for the book "Just Behind the Door"

Archive for August, 2015

Are We Listening or Telling?

In my last blog I talked about three things- judge not, fear not, resist not. Let’s go a bit further into the topic of judging. When we judge others it actually means that we feel we have THE answers not only for ourselves but for them as well. Judging actually demeans the other person and short circuits their capacity to work through their existing life challenges. When we demonstrate this behavior the real message – what we are truly saying to the other person is that we – and we only – have the knowledge, skill and attitude to be all knowing.

In the spirit of humility that is beyond possible. If we had all the answers we would be perfect. Have you met anyone that qualifies as such? Of course not! We are all growing, developing and becoming all that we can be at this time in our lives. If we look at it another way, we have only walked in our own shoes and chosen our unique journey. What would possibly allow us to think that we could tell another person what they should say, think or feel – regarding their situation? That type of thinking is way out of my comfort zone!

It is true that people come into our lives for a reason, season or lifetime. Often it’s because they simply need a listening ear. We only have the capacity to direct our own journey by learning from our own missteps along the way. We have our hands quite full learning our own lessons which take a lifetime to master.

Everyone wants to feel valued. When we choose to tell rather than ask is says way more about our inability is listen and give them the gift they are seeking – a caring ear. Allowing ourselves to tell others what they should say, think or do is way above our experience or pay grade on this earth.

The most loving thing we can do for another person is to ASK them how they feel about a situation and then truly listen as they process through their present dilemma. The time we give them by asking – and not jumping in with our take on the situation – is the greatest gift we can give them. We are, in essence, offering unconditional love and acceptance. We give them that boost of confidence by showing them they are capable of working out their own life challenges. Just think – this all happens when we stop telling and start listening! Basically this is why a therapist asks questions rather then short changes their clients by simply giving them answers.

When we catch ourselves thinking … ‘If they do this or that their life would be better, easier, more productive’ let’s just stop and exhale slowly and realize that this type of thinking actually causes more harm than good. If life were that easy we would all have it under control. Just as we cannot simply explain to a young child how to walk and expect them to do it we need to allow them to try, fall, get up and keep trying as we encourage them with a loving heart. Listening rather than telling is a form of cheering others on from the side as they fall, get up and brush themselves off.

The actual motivation behind the topic of judgment is one of control. I have yet to meet a person who wants to be controlled. Why? Simply put, the message behind control is that ‘you can’t do this on your own – you NEED me to tell you how to handle it. Not so much!

Stepping back and asking the Universe to help us be strong enough to listen, without judgment, and to give others the benefit of our confidence in them is a gift that keeps on giving. When we love ourselves enough to accept that we can not change others and accepting that they are on their own unique learning path we go along way to bringing more light into their world.

Have a great few days!

You’re Doing Your Best!

What if we could live by three tenants: Judge Not, Fear Not, Resist Not. Maybe – just maybe – we could get to the point where any limiting ideas or distorted perspectives of ourselves would simply fade away and allow our minds to refocus on the journey. We would see the joy and blessings of today, this very moment, where anything and everything is possible. By choosing this more positive mindset do you think we might become more tolerant with ourselves and a bit more compassionate with others?

For example, how many times have you played over and over in your head something that you wish you would have said or done differently? Can’t let it go right? That’s because you are playing the blame game and are probably becoming quite good at it! Unfortunately this game has no winners. The sad thing is that it accomplishes nothing and simply causes you to feel even more badly. I’m all for learning from experience but blaming or perseverating on what was – is not learning – it’s more like self flagellation. Color me gone!

Resisting, fearing and judging are all of the same negative ilk. These behaviors keep us locked into our microscopic world where we are judge and jury – but without legal standing. We have no remedy because we have no cause. Time to drop this case and move on!

Having more tolerance and acceptance for yourself begins when you realize that you brought everything you had to the past circumstance and did the very best you could at the moment – because you really did. Self reflection can be a positive thing when you cut yourself a little slack and admit you are human. I’ll bet if you think about a past situation when you feel that you didn’t bring your ‘A’ game to the table, if you really ponder it, you know you didn’t purposely choose to fall short of what you wanted to achieve. You just did. Things happen. Move on. Eliminate the blame and simply change it to a lesson learned by telling yourself, ‘The next time I face this type of situation I intend to …’ and do it. The operative words, of course, are DO IT.

Likewise, when we observe others and think to ourselves ‘why don’t they do this or that’ or ‘they should do it this way.’ Really? Since we can’t walk a mile in their shoes it’s probably better to stop judging and simply remember that they are also doing the very best they can at the moment. They are giving life their best shot – regardless of whether it hits the mark or not – time to give them a break as well.

We are all perfectly imperfect human beings who are trying to navigate life with the knowledge we have at the moment. When we have greater knowledge and experience we may choose to respond differently. But until then … there is no place for judgment, fear or resistance. We are better than that because we know that we are all on the journey of our chosen lifetime and learning day by day along the way.

So today, look in the mirror and smile, pat yourself on the back, and know that you are doing your best – with today’s knowledge – and that’s good enough!

Have a great few days!

‘Everybody’s Got Something’

Robin Roberts the cohost of Good Morning America writes in her book, ‘Everybody’s Got Something,’ that her mother always told her that everyone has challenges and issues to handle in their lives and the important thing is to ‘make your mess your message.’ In other words rather than allowing ourselves to feel defeated and surrounded by fear to learn from them and share those experiences with others so they can benefit from our example of strength. Significant advice from a person who twice dealt with the life altering diagnosis of cancer. Yet she did it and chose to take her mother’s words to heart.

Looking at your own life, what have you dealt with that you have learned from and can make your mess your message? Is it death, divorce, depression, economic strife, illness? Remember everybody’s got something. When we see people who are upset rather than getting angry wouldn’t it be wonderful if we chose instead to remember that they are dealing with their own mess.

The amazing thing about life is that each of us has chosen our path, both the good times and bad, for the lessons. When we begin to view them as a challenge that we will overcome we help others draw strength and inspiration from our example. We create a mission and purpose for ourselves that is so much more powerful than simply getting through the moment.

Roberts offered another point in her book, ‘when fear knocks let faith answer the door.
Regardless of your personal belief system, I believe she is talking about a belief that ‘all is as it should be’ and that ‘this too shall pass’. It may not be easy, in fact, it could be downright life changing but by remembering to inhale slowly and realize that you will get through this regardless of how tough it is you give a gift to give yourself amidst the chaos. The gift is the physical and mental energy you need to overcome.

There are two powerful and opposite emotions in our life – love and fear. Love allows, celebrates and expands our capacity and fear restricts and limits us. We all know the statement that 99% of what we worry about never comes to pass. Yet, so often we spend our limited amount of time on this earth in the ‘what if’ mentality that keeps us bound up with worry about our tomorrows.

Let’s try, just for today, to listen to our thinking. When we hear an element of fear enter consciously stop and redirect it. Choose to believe in yourself and the power to overcome whatever obstacle is presently in your path. Start small – just a day or even part of a day and experience the gift of believing in yourself. The Universe is just waiting for you to choose belief – power and positivity – and will respond in kind.

Our Challenges
When all we see is darkness and gloom.
We feel totally helpless and running from doom.
We eventually confront our inner brick wall.
Our choice is to break it or give up and fall.
We may search for our strengths,
Waiting patiently deep inside.
From life’s obstacles there’s no reason to hide.
All our challenges we must embrace and defeat.
As we open our eyes our true purpose we’ll greet.
Let’s take a step outside our routine comfort zone.
This will carve a path where our goals we shall own.
Our personal challenges, quite difficult may seem.
But if we believe in ourselves,
Life will be sweet – as a dream.

Have a great day!

What is Love?

What is love? We see versions of it enacted on T.V., or read about it in a superficial basis in novels but once in a great while we experience it ourselves. We may be mislead into thinking that there is only one type of love and it either exists and withstands the test of time or not. But the ancient Greeks developed a deeper understanding of love and described it using four terms each indicating a different type of love.

Agape -the unconditional love that causes us to accept others with any and all their flaws and differences. We love them and expect nothing thing in return. We may see the word ‘agape’ on church bulletin boards or in book stores indicating anyone and everyone is welcomed and accepted. The second type of love, Philemon, was defined as a platonic, friendship type of love. This type epitomizes the phrase, ‘I’ve got your back and you’ve got mine.’ It’s the kind of love that best friends, not seeing each other for a time experience when meeting or talking again. It is, as if, nothing has changed in their relationship and they just pick up the where they left off. The third type of love was named Storage by the Greeks. It is a love of family and dear friends. It is unconditional, committed and causes us to feel comfortable and safe. Regardless of what we might say or do we know that we will always be accepted and loved. Eros, the fourth type of love is passionate even arousing a feeling of a natural ‘high’ when you are with the other person. You can talk for hours upon hours without even realizing the time that has elapsed.

Some relationships may focus on one particular type of love and it works for them. It is said, however, that for love to be everlasting all four types of love need to evolve into the relationship over time. What exactly does this all encompassing type of love look like?

We find ourselves thinking about this person frequently and wondering what they are doing, if they are thinking about us and when we will see them again. We are willing to expose ourselves to them – literally and figuratively. Over time we start to share our vulnerable areas without fear of judgment. We just know that if needed they would be there for us in a second. It offers an assurance, a strength that is outside of ourselves. We no longer feel we are taking this life journey alone but have someone along the way that is as equally interested in us as we are in them. The novelist, Cesar Pavese said, “You will be loved the day when you will be able to show your weakness without the person using it to assert his strength.” Love softens us, smoothes out our rough edges. This type of love causes the object of your love to be more important, more vivid to you than you are to yourself. Thoughts, ideas and plans are more exciting as you discuss them with the one you love. Your looks and touches can often best be understood through the magic of a song that you have heard a million times before but this time, yes – this time with him – it speaks to both your heart and mind. We feel more inspired and joyful about living. David Brooks explains it this way,” We want to do something special for them. Cooking a meal, buying a special little gift, picking them up at the airport, getting them water to drink – it’s a gift-love not reciprocity- love.” We experience for the first time something mystical, bigger than ourselves and we may try to analyze it to no avail. Eventually, we simply settle into the awesomeness of the experience. This type of love seems to expand our heart and causes us to smile from the inside out. It is said that the more you love, the more you can love because love expands with use! How beautiful it is to see this type of love between people. Once observed, we know that all is right with the world.

Have a great day!

Let’s Learn From Each Other!

We have often heard the saying that ‘today is the first day of the rest of your life.’ It may sound a bit trite but let’s think about it. Today we have the choice to view life from the box seats rather than the nose bleed seats if we so choose. All it takes is the realization and personal commitment to refuse to be weighed down by our past. Regardless of the baggage we have been carrying – the questions we keep replaying in our minds – the regrets or ‘if onlys’ need to be gone… totally and without question. Many people hang on to past issues and seem to carry them as an invisible backpack as they go through life. You can spot them easily by the permanent frown lines on their faces and the ever increasing slouch of their shoulders and walk. They seem intent upon seeing life through a lens of disappointment. Why? When we stop to think about it today – this very moment in fact, will never happen again. Carrying around old wounds is the most unproductive thing we can do physically, spiritually and emotionally.

In a similar vein, when we let ourselves reflect on the past with longing or comparison such as ‘kids are not as mannerly as they used to be’ or ‘everything is so much more expensive than it used to be’ (technically untrue) the list goes on and on – we sabotage our days with negative thoughts and rob ourselves of the joy of today.

Let’s start expecting more positive moments in our lives. For instance, I have watched young boys – 8 years old – hold the door for others and I smile. In fact, I truly can’t think of a time recently when a person – regardless of age – hasn’t held a door for me. Since I’m not in a wheelchair or using a cane could it be that I simply look at them with a feeling of acceptance and value that they instinctively feel?

Our younger generation is thoughtful, kind and growing up to be a positive force in our world. They bring a purity and kindness to so many thing as they watch with childhood enthusiasm for the pluses rather than the minuses in life. They do not have the ‘old days’ to compare to and are not weighed down with regret.

There is a reason why being around children seems to enliven our spirit and energize our days. They demonstrate an unbridled joy for living. Let’s let it rub off on us – starting today.

Achieving wisdom takes time and it is something we can share gently with our younger generation. They, in turn, can model for us the sheer joy of being alive. We have much to learn from each other.

Have a great few days!

Listen to Your Body!

There is something called a ‘muscle test’ that can reveal helpful information to us. Whether a certain food or drink is something that our bodies can tolerate can be easily indicated through a simple method. Hold your dominant arm straight out in front of you and hold the item in question firmly in your other hand. Then have someone tell you to ‘resist’ as they attempt to push your arm down. Be sure they place one of their hands lightly on your shoulder and the other hand on top of the wrist on your extended arm. Your extended arm will not be able to remain straight out in front of you but will instead drop down toward your side if the item in question isn’t good for your body.

The amazing thing is that this muscle test can also be used for any thought or idea you might have as well. If you are wondering, for example, whether to do something in particular or not just check out the reaction of your extended arm as someone gently tries to push it down. If you are shaking your head in disbelief please hold back your skepticism until you have tried this for yourself. Go ahead and check it out – please! You might wonder how it is possible to do something so basic and yet find it predictable. This muscle test was taught in a ‘Touch for Health’ class over 35 years ago so imagine my surprise when I ran across it in a book by Dr. Wayne Dyer entitled. ’10 Secrets for Success and Inner Peace!’

Every thought we have is either positive or negative (neutral thinking is not something I have ever witnessed). Have a friend do this muscle test on you and think of something (without telling them) negative or even a lie and see if your arm can remain straight out at shoulder height in front of you. Go ahead…just try it and see what you can discover about this special body messaging approach that can open your eyes to the power of energy. Now to verify that this works think of a positive, loving thought and have your friend attempt to push your extended arm down. Surprise!

You are probably saying to yourself – how can this be? This seems so weird. Not really. Everything and everyone is made up of energy. We can feel negative or positive vibes without seeing them correct? Well, our bodies serve as a conduit of information to let us know when something or someone is good for us … or not.

When we actually do this muscle test it gets our attention and we realize how important it is to monitor our thoughts and redirect our energy when necessary if we are in a negative state of mind. Choose your method of choice to redirect any negative thinking. For some it may be exercise, music, being in nature, calling a friend, reading or even shopping. The methods of redirecting our energy are as unique as we are and each of us knows how to redirect our energy flow into a more positive state. Using this muscle test we can now actually see the serious effects of energy – positive or energy on our mind and body.

Learning to listen to our bodies and choosing to redirect our thinking is a no cost way for a happier, healthier life. You are worth it! You have mountains to conquer and many, many miles of road ahead of you on your life journey. When we first recognize any negative emotion and then refuse to allow it to infiltrate our being we are better equipped to take whatever life gives us.

Try this muscle test out for yourself this week. Be prepared for the smile that will spread across your face when you discover it really works! Think of it as just another tool in your tool kit for life. Then have some fun with it and do it with others. Just be prepared for the inevitable question, ‘How did you do that?’ And your answer, of course is that you didn’t do that to them their bodies are speaking to them!

Have a great few days!

You are beautiful!

We make it a practice to recognize and compliment others. When we see them accomplish something they have been working toward or achieve a deeper understanding we celebrate them. We often tell them how good they look. Well, today let’s take a moment to pat ourselves on the back. Although we deserve it we seldom think about giving ourselves a ‘thumbs up.’ Take a moment and think about where you have come from, what challenges you have overcome and what growth you have made as a person. It’s time to reflect on all you have been through and celebrate the fact that you are still learning, living and loving.

To someone out there you are their everything. Now that’s impressive! Rather than falling into the trap of continual self criticism think about yourself through the eyes of someone who really cares for you and just smile. The following poem from BlondOwl says it all…

Beyond the Reflection

Looking in the mirror, What do you see?
The eyes of a monster, the hair of a beast.
A bump, a lump, an excuse for a nose.
Eyelashes too short, eyebrows that grow.

Shoulders broad but legs too skinny,
a smile with lines too deep and wimpy.
Cheeks rather puffy, and a scowl, rather scruffy.

Now mirror my eyes, What do I see?
Eyes of an angel, hair of a Greek.
A curve, a shimmy, a perfect nose.
Eyelashes that accent eyebrows of pose.

Shoulders of confidence, legs just so perfect,
A smile with lines of laughter from living.
Cheeks so cute, and an expression of love.

What monster do you speak of?
A beast? I see none.
Before me, an angel of wings,
a friend, a loved one.

What ugliness is this?
What flaw is that?
Shush ….
You are blind as a bat.

You strut,
You dance,
You shout and sing,
To me you are beauty…my everything.

Have a great day!

Make Your Life Extraordinary!

It is said that to change our life from ordinary to extraordinary we need to practice four things; awareness, acceptance, appreciation and appropriate action. What does this mean exactly and how can we apply it to our life?

Awareness is always the first step in everything we do. We often see, feel and respond instantaneously. Frequently, our response is from fear or misunderstanding and later as the puzzle pieces are put into place we think to ourselves, ‘Oh, now I understand.’ In the meantime we may have put ourselves through all kinds of stress assuming we saw truth when in reality we simply observed an isolated situation. We remind ourselves to calm down and not be so quick to judge … and we try…until the next time when something hits us out of the blue. Timing is everything and when we give ourselves the gift of time by inhaling and exhaling slowly as we strive to process something different or unknown we can slowly retrain ourselves to respond more calmly rather than merely react. The suggestion to ‘count to 10’ is worthy of consideration.

The second step, Acceptance of what is without judging or trying to change something seems, at first to go against everything we know. Yet, when we begin to practice observing and describing rather than constantly evaluating we begin to see a deeper truth. Gone is the tendency to judge others and decide the ‘shoulds’ or ‘if onlys’ of their actions. When we accept the idea that any judgement we place on people is really nonproductive and elicits negative energy we must ask ourselves is it worth it? Since we haven’t walked in their shoes we really have no idea about the why or intent behind their actions. To take it a step further, it’s important to remember that this is their journey. We have our own pathway to follow. We have not been put into this world to live up to their expectations nor they ours.

The next step, Appreciation allows us to look at the choices and decisions we have made in our lives and realize that each one was valuable. There were no mistakes, missteps or blame to be placed but rather simply experiences along the way that we have all chosen to live through to better understand and grow as a person.

Ultimately, Appropriate Action is when our heart, mind and will are all in alignment. Each of us has value and a heart and mind that wants to be understood. We can choose to see the positive – the soul light – in everyone. After all, the Universe doesn’t make mistakes. When we actually choose a daily practice of seeing the positives in life amazing things happen. Think of it this way, when life gives us lemons we not only decide to make lemon aid but willingly share it with others – now that’s powerful!

By internalizing these four concepts life becomes a bit easier. The bumps and bruises along the way hurt less and heal quicker and we have more patience, understanding and acceptance of ourselves and others. Now that’s really powerful!

Have a great few days!