Official blog for the book "Just Behind the Door"

Posts tagged ‘Universal energy’

Is it Time?

How often have you been faced with what seems like the same challenge and said to yourself, ‘this just isn’t fair!’ When we are able to stop and think to ourselves, ‘what do I need to learn from this latest issue in my life?’ big things start to happen. You are taking ownership for your part in the whole process. One thing is for sure … the lesson has continued to surface for a reason – could it be that you need to address it differently than you have in the past? It’s all about learning the life lessons we have chosen this time around.

When we turn the kaleidoscope ever so slightly to determine why certain things continue to challenge us we are allowing ourselves to discover the pattern, the true lesson involved. You can do this by asking yourself ‘why’ and after the first answer comes to mind take that answer and ask why again.. and again. Do this process three times to get to the deeper ‘Aha’ – which is the real reason and subsequent lesson.

Let’s say you seem to continue to face a lack of money, friends, job opportunities or to have concerns regarding family. When you take the time to analyze the way YOU have been responding – maybe ignoring the issue, refusing to get involved, becoming overly involved, or judging the person (the list of possibilities goes on and on) often your response is the same as it has been in the past and thus you’re getting the same results. The Universe will respond by giving you harder and harder issues around the same theme until you get it. Let’s break this self defeating cycle. Remember the phrase, ‘First God whispers, then talks and finally shouts to get our attention.’

Another way to determine the lesson is to ask yourself ‘what’s the most difficult thing for me to handle about this latest situation?’ You know what I mean, it’s the thing that continues to pop up and you say to yourself ‘the next time I’ll deal with that differently’ but you really don’t – Ahh… yes, there it is … the nugget of truth – the reason behind the reason.

Let’s commit to make a change. Let’s start to view challenges as opportunities for our own personal growth and our road will become easier to navigate with less detours and stops along the way. We have often heard that it’s not the challenges in life that make the difference; it is how we handle them.

Try to measure any difficult issue against the rest of your life to help keep it in perspective. We have many things for which to be grateful and yes we also have many things to learn and overcome. Above all, remember the phrase, ‘this too shall pass’ because it will – sooner or later – the when is up to you.

Have a great few days!

Celebrate Your Authentic Self!

Those who have lived a long life and learned a great deal in the process have an important message for us… ‘live a life true to yourself and not simply one that others expect you to live’ – in other words to be your authentic self.

At a Commencement address at Stanford University Steve Jobs reiterated this thought when he said, “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your inner voice… have the courage to follow your heart and intuition …they somehow already know what you truly want to become…”

A famous line from Shakespeare’s play Hamlet says, ‘To thine own self be true…’

So there we have it, a few quotes from hundreds of different sources spanning in time from the 1600’s to the present yet with the same idea – to live authentically by knowing our own values, preferences and abilities and being strong enough to be our genuine self during our life’s journey.

Some people are afraid of being authentic or truly known because they worry that if others really knew them they might reject them. That’s possible for any of us but not likely. Besides those people who make it a habit of rejecting others are basically unhappy, stressed, uninspired and just stuck in their own life. Others do not listen to them because they are simply too exhausting to be around. So think about that for a moment…do you really need to care about being accepted by everyone? Ask yourself, what is the worst possible thing that could happen if someone rejected you… could you survive it? My guess is – absolutely! Why not relieve yourself of the pressure of trying to be perfect and just be who you were designed to be – your beautiful and unique – one of a kind self!

The Universe provides us the opportunity to learn our chosen life lessons. Could it be that one of those lessons is to learn to be true to ourselves? If so, how are you doing with that? Is it time to remove your mask and breathe deeply into your own truth? I assure you that you’ll be glad you did. After all, the Universal Energy doesn’t make mistakes and you are exactly who you are supposed to be – and that’s a wonderful thing!

The title of Mike Robbin’s book says it all… ‘Be Yourself, Everyone Else Is Already Taken.’

Have a great few days!

Being Confident Enough to Apologize

Have you ever said something that in retrospect you wish you hadn’t? As of today, If I had kept count in my life I would be in the millions of times that I have done so. We may be sorry, embarrassed and often even angry at ourselves after having a ‘slip of the tongue’ but the real issue becomes what we choose to do about it.

The power of a sincere apology cannot be overstated. It’s like making a deposit in your emotional bank account rather than a withdrawal. It really does mean something to the one receiving it when it is heartfelt. When you can look someone in the eye, or take the time to connect in some other way and really give an apology the attention that it deserves amazing things can happen. Personally, you stop playing the comments over and over in your head trying to justify them, you stop perseverating on the exact words used and that heavy, embarrassed, negative feeling leaves you. Most importantly, the person you are apologizing to feels like you care about them, that you’re human and that they can trust you to listen and not attack them or put them down in the future. You may not make a friend from an apology but one thing’s for sure… you won’t make an enemy.

Just think, all of this can happen when you put yourself in the shoes of the person receiving your ‘slip of the tongue’ and try to feel how it has affected them. The art of a sincere apology is only perfected when you are strong enough within yourself to admit that none of us are perfect, has all the answers or says the right things every moment of our lives.

I once knew a person who said that he ‘wouldn’t lower himself enough to apologize to a particular child’ that he had misjudged. I felt badly for the student but even worse for this man and told him so. What a sad way to go through life … thinking any human being – man, woman or child – is beneath you. With examples like this we can watch the Universe provide greater and greater opportunities to him to learn the lesson of humility until he gets it… apologies show strength NOT weakness!

So give yourself the benefit of using a well timed apology the next time you may be a bit too ——-(fill in the blank) with someone then pat yourself on the back and take pride in knowing that showing a bit of humility just makes you incredibly stronger!

Have a great few days!

Take 5 to Show You Care!

Empathy and self-reflection are two important human characteristics that we seem to spend a lifetime trying to develop. But what if there was something undermining this development without us even realizing it? Actually there is – and it’s partially due to the digital age of communication.

Let’s look at just one of the possibilities – our techie patterns of communication. Many of us seem wedded to the texting, Facebook, Instant Messaging, Twitter etc. craze in which we either send ‘words’ (I use the term loosely) in 1 or 2 phrases to communicate. The message is received but little else. In fact, I know of a lonely mother of 2 adult children who receives 95% of all communication from them this way!

Our voice is energy. Real conversation is an exchange that involves two parties with both an intended message and feelings involved. When we actually talk to someone it causes our brains to process their humanness and helps us develop greater empathy. Interestingly, a recent psychological study of students from the smartphone generation has found a steep decline in empathy. Not just a decline – but a steep decline. That’s big. Is it time to reevaluate our incessant 3-5 truncated ‘word’ response to someone and take an additional 5 minutes to actually talk to them – hear their voice – and listen as we check up on how they are doing? Don’t have a lot of time? No problem. Just start the conversation with, ‘ I only have 5 minutes but wanted to talk with you.’ You set the stage for them to give you their undivided attention.

The smart phones are an incredible tool for both efficiency and effectiveness. I am not discounting the importance of being able to send off a quick response to a colleague or friend in need of a response regarding a time or date. That just makes sense. But rather it is the other type of communication I am talking about which cannot replace the positive effect of a heart to heart talk regardless of how many emoji symbols such as 😏 ☕️ 💁 you use. Something is just left flat and feels a bit missing in this later type of communication.

Steve Jobs, the man who said he wanted to make a dent in the Universe (and did so) by creating the smart phone realized this as well. Even given the incredible way he was able to reshape communication in our world he still forbade tablets and smartphones at the dinner table and encouraged real conversation to take place instead. He recognized the value of human connection.

When we see people unable to function without checking their phones repeatedly we are really witnessing lonely people in search of connection. It is as if they are saying ‘I’m here…include me too,’ as they scroll the latest social media site in search of a bit of news from family or friends. Sad. Unfortunately, this type of connection does not help to develop empathy or self-esteem. In fact, it may even erode them further since there is no personal depth or meaningful exchange between people.

Maybe we can’t find the time to send a Hallmark greeting card (yes … they still exist and are beautiful things to send and receive) but when we choose to stop merely ‘thumbing’ our way through communication and occasionally pick up the phone and call we are saying ‘ I care enough about you to stop and touch base.’ Greater empathy and self-esteem will result on everyone’s part in the long run. That’s a beautiful thing.

Have a great few days!

Practicing Forgiveness is Good for Your Heart!

In childhood it’s all about self but as we mature into adulthood we begin to understand the importance of being kinder, more forgiving and accepting of others. We start to see the world in shades of grey rather than simply black and white. This week the Pope’s message was to practice ‘peace, tolerance and respect for the dignity and rights of others.’ It seems that integral to doing this is to practice the art of forgiveness.

There is a reason that forgiveness is at the heart of healing. At a recent gathering in Manhattan 400 people were asked if they had difficulty and were not on speaking terms with members of their families. Over two-thirds of the participants raised their hands! Think about how many people are holding on to grudges and surrounding themselves with negative energy – it must be exhausting. Recognizing the importance of the topic, forgiveness is being further studied through the Stanford Forgiveness Project.

There are two common themes within all of this – forgiveness and its challenging cousin – judgment. When we think about an upset between family members or friends it seems to boil down to two things: assuming we hold the trump card on truth (believing that we know how others should feel or behave) and refusing to accept responsibility for any hurt we may have caused them through our practice of judging. Judgment can be felt without any words spoken.

When judgmental attitudes surface those half-hearted apologies of ‘I’m sorry that you’re upset,’ are not examples of respect or love. A true apology is recognizing what we have done that has hurt someone and then being courageous enough to verbalize it to them. In other words it’s about us – our actions – and not their reactions that are at play here.

The good news is that as we practice accepting responsibility for own own behavior we become stronger, more positive and happier people. We begin to realize that we don’t walk in another’s shoes and really have no idea about how difficult it is for them to learn their own life lessons. Maybe – just maybe – they are doing the best they know how at this moment.

Dr. Fritz Perls, the noted German psychoanalyst who emphasized Gestalt Therapy speaks to tolerance and acceptance of others in The Gestalt Prayer:

I do my thing and you do your thing.
I am not in this world to live up to your expectations,
And you are not in this world to live up to mine.
You are you, and I am I,
And if by chance we find each other, it’s beautiful…

When I read this prayer I think of a world in which true acceptance of differences is foremost in our thinking and behavior. Peace, tolerance and respect for self and others flows from this mindset. We become more rather than less as human beings.

We are all in a fluid state between independence and interdependence in life. Doesn’t it just make sense to look for the strengths in family and friends rather than focusing on what we perceive as their weaknesses? When we acknowledge their effort we show them that we have faith in their ability to handle difficult situations. We allow them to grow. As we learn to judge less and forgive more the value and significance of touching base or celebrating holidays begins to take on a greater significance. We learn to bring our best selves to the table and treat our family and friends as we would like to be treated.

Over the next few days let’s try to see how we can practice greater forgiveness and allow the Pope’s message of peace, tolerance and respect to take seed in our lives.

Have a great few days!

Are You In a Dependent Relationship?

I have written about the four different types of love that were identified by the Greeks hundreds of years ago (see blog archive 8/16/15). Their point as reiterated by David Brooks in his book, The Social Animal,” was that for love to be everlasting all four types of love need to develop in relationships over time. That makes sense. Once the initial physical attraction is experienced, deep love like the flowering of a rose takes time to tend and nurture to full bloom as it celebrates the individual strengths of each other.

But what happens if the Philemon type of love – the platonic, friendship type of love you have with a best friend seems to be difficult to juggle as you spend more time with your new found love? Let’s first look at what causes two people to become best friends. Shared interests, respect, admiration and concern all rank high on the list of factors.

However, once in a while this type of love can devolve into a needy, unhealthy type of dependent relationship. When you share your excitement about this special person in your life with your best friend and you hear subtle demands that infiltrate into your relationship such as wanting to know when they will see you again it’s time to consider the possibility that this could be a type of co-dependency. Maybe – maybe not – but for sure sharing you is not something they want to do. The label itself is less important than the recognition of the signs involved.

Any dependency is usually rooted in childhood and these individuals often become ‘survivors’ that exhibit fear, anger, pain or shame which was ignored or denied early on in life. These feelings begin to color their world over time since dependency is a learned behavior. The more it is practiced the stronger it becomes. The friendships they develop are more need than mere want but they simply don’t see it since abandonment is a constant issue.

The good news is that by recognizing dependency and learning more about the signs and signals it can be overcome and replaced by confidence and trust in one’s own ability to thrive in future healthy, loving relationships regardless of what happened in childhood.

How do you know if a relationship of dependency exists? Let’s look at some other possible indicators. Is there a pressure to touch base frequently – fearing anger or hurt exhibited from the other person if you are not in constant contact? In reality, best friends can go days, weeks, or months without touching base but still know the other person cares for them and has their best interest at heart.

If you experience feelings of rejection when you spend time with someone other than the dependent friend and it results in pouting, temporary withdrawal or outright anger until they have your attention once again – you can be sure dependency exists.

Other indicators of co-dependent people are their difficulty talking with people in authority, making decisions, handling pressure regarding time frames for completion of tasks, difficulty or even rigidity in adjusting to change, feelings of inadequacy, and an inability to share their feelings – especially with family members. Basically, they have low self-esteem often due to their early upbringing.

If you are involved in this type of relationship at first you may feel a sense of importance by ‘being needed.’ Unfortunately, your attention and constant concern or attempt to do more than your share does not help since this behavior can become compulsive and self-defeating as the reliance increases. In essence, both parties start to develop a view of ‘us against the world’ and the dependency increases.

As stated, the good news is that when the dependency is recognized and steps are taken to readjust the invasive nature of this type of relationship personal growth is experienced by both parties and over time an even higher level of friendship develops. Sometimes it takes a best friend to get their attention and even professional to unearth the need for dependency.

When you really care about another you want the best for them. Moving from dependency to independence is the best gift you can gift yourself and the other person. The Philemon type of love is a critical element in best friends as well as deeper love relationships.

Have a great few days!

Become Extraordinary!

Judge not, fear not, resist not. These words are so powerful and applied to our lives can change us from ordinary to extraordinary. We can become happier, more excited and fulfilled as human beings when we choose to view life from this empowered perspective. So how do we do it? Here’s a few hints.

See the gift of today – for this day – this moment – will only happen once. Live it to the fullest!
In essence – bring your total self to today – no holding back! Don’t worry about being judged by others… they are on their own unique path.
Have a mind that is open to everything – say ‘Yes!’ to life!
Be the optimist – no one truly knows enough to be a pessimist!
See the positives – see the love – it’s always there – surrounding us – we just need to open our eyes, breath deeply and invite it in.
Dream as though you have nothing to lose – because you really don’t – and smile as those dreams become a reality!
Believe as though anything is possible – because it is …there are no limits to what we can be or experience.
Love as though your heart knows no bounds – and feel the love being generated back to you!
Remember that everyone is doing their best this day – this very moment – listen to them and celebrate their effort.
Radiate light into the world by what you think, feel and say. Light is the energy of the Universe!
Believe in miracles – they come in the form of people – who love us unconditionally.

Remember, “As a man thinketh, so is he.” When we choose to make our todays extraordinary – amazing things start to happen. Life becomes better than we had ever dreamed possible … and just think – it all started by choosing…. Now that is powerful!

Have a great few days!