A New Approach to A New Year

As December comes to a close, and another year looms ahead, my thoughts inevitably drift toward the goals that I met and didn’t meet. While I can claim progress to some areas that I vowed to improve last January, there are others that I have to say show few signs of my attentiveness or investment of time or energy.

And even though I go through the ritual of examining this at the end of every December, I have to confess that I am not fond of the sort of “Score Card” approach to living that this implies.

Certainly I think that goals are an important part of intentional living, or living on purpose…whatever you choose to call it.  We need to have an idea of what matters most to us, in other words, what we value. We need to be attending to our own growth and development, and in my view, the growth and health of our communities and the planet.

But the paradox to this also seems important: being present to the moment.  Learning to be mindful of what is going on within us and around us. Calm and accepting and aware.  How on earth can we do both?

Perhaps one key to it is to recognize ourselves as being creators in our own lives. You know, basically knowing that you can essentially have, be and do what you desire most. Of course the down side is accepting responsibility for what has manifested so far.  I’m not implying that we are not affected by who and what has come before us, nor am I saying that we can be at our best without the help and support of others and of Spirit.

Almost everyone I know has some thinking which I will call “default thinking;” a set of familiar if shop-worn and negative beliefs that we learned early on, and have not examined or outgrown. As we repeat this default thinking, our expectations, emotions, behaviors and consequences follow.  The cumulative effect of a lifetime of these patterns result in whatever our circumstances are.

So now that it’s the traditional time to “turn over a new leaf,” aka make New Year’s resolutions, it will be made as a wish that runs counter to the chatter of the Inner Critic who resides within most of us. You may resolve with all the fervor you can muster, however if that chatter doesn’t change, you are doomed to short-term results.

For instance you may resolve to stop smoking, but if you think of yourself as a smoker, visualize and imagine yourself smoking in your familiar haunts, while telling yourself not to do that, you are likely going to have short-term success at best. You are cruising for a relapse.

Or you may resolve to save more money or get out of debt, but if your focus is on the financial mistakes of your life, with all the attendant worry, guilt and fear that go with that, you are going to find making progress a hard road. If you think of yourself as a financial goof, then at the end of another year, you will likely be making the same resolution.

This is why some people think that there is no point in making resolutions. They see it as an exercise in futility. Discouraging to say the least. So what is the answer to this pattern of frustration and failure? How can you make lasting change? How can you create a life full of abundance of what you truly desire?

The keys to changing your life are in changing your habits: both habits of thinking and habits of behaving.

After all, negative thinking is nothing more than a habit. We repeat to ourselves those things we may have been told, or are afraid are true. And the mental images or pictures go with these “bad” words flash in our minds, reinforcing the “truth” of the beliefs. The emotions that match the images are aroused, making us feel certain that this really is true.

What if you were to choose what you really desire to believe about yourself?  What if you knew that you could tone down or stop the negative mind chatter, and instead talk to yourself in a positive and encouraging way?  What if your self-image was one of being powerful or loving or competent and not ugly or a failure or weak? Believe it or not, it is possible to make that shift.

There are a number of effective ways to change your self-image. For today let’s start with clarifying what you desire to believe about yourself. You can get out a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle of it. Fold it in half. On the left side, write a list of the qualities that you do NOT want to describe you.

For example, you might write: A financial failure; lonely and isolated; a smoker, someone who is undependable. Keep writing the list until you can’t think of anything else.

Open up the paper, and on the opposite side of the list you wrote, make a new list. Draw a line through the quality that you do NOT want, and in the new list, write its opposite, or the quality or image of what you DO want.

For instance, you may write:  A successful manager of my finances; a great friend with a happy social life; a healthy non-smoker; a dependable person who keeps my word to myself and others.

Use this second list as the beginning of affirmations you use every day. Write a desire statement using them and read them, focusing on the feelings that you will experience when you take full ownership of those qualities. It is important to feel the emotion or the words will seem hollow. What will it feel like when you are being dependable? Financially successful? Living smoke free? A friend with a great social life?

The success of this is not about the magic of the words, but rather about the consistent practice of affirming, imagining and feeling the emotions that you are evoking. The power of this is within you, and you must practice it until it becomes your new habit of thinking

The best analogy for this practice that I have ever read was from Pam Grout’s book E Squared, 9 Do-It-Yourself Energy Experiments that Prove Your Thoughts Create Your Reality.  She writes that the processes of changing your bad thought habits are like training a puppy. When you find that you are repeating negative, hurtful or self-defeating thinking, you simply pick up the “puppy,” take him to his proper spot to pee, and praise him when he does.  Then when the puppy is beginning to go again in the wrong place (the bedroom slipper in your closet) you pick him up and take him to the correct place again. No hitting, no scolding. Just kind, patient and persistent correction.  Eventually the puppy gets it, and so will your mind.

For this and other methods, you may want to hire a coach. My services are available, and if you would like a complimentary session to determine whether coaching might be helpful to you, email me through the Contact Page button at the top of this page. At any rate, I hope you will be encouraged to pursue genuine life change if that is what you desire. You deserve to be happy, not only in the New Year, but throughout your life!

 

Living in Abundance

 

“Today expect something good to happen to you no matter what occurred yesterday.
Realize the past no longer holds you captive.
It can only continue to hurt you if you hold on to it.
Let the past go. A simply abundant world awaits.”
~Sarah Breathnach~


Do you agree with this statement:  Just because you were born a Human Being, your natural birthright is to live an abundant life? 

This would mean that physical, emotional, financial, social and spiritual well-being is your natural state.  We are designed to be happy and healthy and to experience joy in life.

You might be reading this and thinking, “Sure this sounds great, but the realities of my life are pretty far removed from it!”

·          You might be struggling to succeed in something that is important to you and feeling like you are getting nowhere.

·          Maybe you are feeling discouraged in a relationship that isn’t measuring up to the potential you once saw in it.  Or maybe you are feeling lonely and in great need of improving your social life in general.

·         It could be that your financial life is a constant struggle or your working life isn’t panning out the way you would like.

·         You might be in physical pain or feeling tired and blah, or stuck in any attempts to do something about the shape you are in.

·         Or perhaps your spiritual life may be in a state of disconnect, and you feel cut off from that important part of yourself and a connection to your Higher Power, All-That-Is or God.

If any of these conditions describe your present life, it could be that the “container” of your concept of yourself needs to be expanded.  The beliefs and frequent thought patterns that you repeat have formed this container; for some it is a tight, constricting and limiting container.

You may recognize yourself somewhere in the description, but take heart!  Even deeply ingrained patterns that we have “inherited” or more accurately learned from the people who shaped our early life, can be changed.  In other words, we do not have to live in the same kind of containers that our parents or grandparents or the culture we were exposed to prescribed for us.

For the most part, we came by negative or limiting thought patterns quite unintentionally.  And it is common to remain unconscious of them. However, we are designed in the Creator’s image, which means that we are also capable of being intentional creators ourselves! We can pay attention to the “wake up calls” that accompanies life in the too tight container, and start asking the important questions and seeking help in finding our answers.

Living a life of abundance requires us to expand the container that we live in!  In order to attract the elements of our desires and intentions, we must “live larger.” Changing old limiting patterns of thought-feelings-behavior-consequences allow for new possibilities that lead to liveliness and joy and well-being. Coaching is a real brain changer!

Hiring coaches and having mentors to work with has made a huge difference in my life.  So I completely agreed with Bill Gates when recently watching him in a TED talk about education and heard him say that everyone needs a coach.  He hired a coach to help him improve his bridge game.  He also talked about providing coaches to help teachers improve their work in the classroom, an exciting venture that his foundation supports.  

Luckily for all of us, we are seeing a rapid expansion in the applications of coaching.  What this means for you is that you can change those limiting beliefs that are keeping you from attaining your dream job, getting what you want out of your relationship, or succeeding in a business venture. Whatever it is that you want to change in your life, coaching can help you achieve that.

 If life coaching is something that you would like to explore, or if you are interested in learning more about living the Law of Attraction, I am opening a new program for working with individuals and small groups. Check out my contact information and email me or give me a call.  I would love to hear from you!

 

 

Creating: Seeing what Already Exists

“Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.” 
~Philip K. Dick~


At the beginning of every new year I hear a running argument about whether making resolutions for change is a waste of time or not. Cynics will maintain that their “good intentions” to lose weight, stick to a budget, etc. is useless because they usually last less than a week.  The more optimistic types will at least plod along, sticking to the practice of resolving or intending to make changes in what is important to them.

Research has found that there is power in clarifying intentions and resolving to make change, regardless of the time of year. In other words, if you intend to make a change in your life and are clear about what that will be like, you are much more likely to succeed at it than if you don’t.

Let’s consider this is a broader way.  As I have pointed out in previous posts, you are creating the life you have whether you are intentional about it, or not. This thought can be a little disturbing if you are unhappy about how things are. It is far easier to point the finger of blame at someone or something else. No need to run through the usual list of excuses; I’m certain that you have heard them all and likely at some point have used them yourself.

Instead I’d like to learn to be a more effective creator, and hopefully you do too.

An essential skill to learn and master in creating the life you desire, is to assess reality, or to see clearly what already exists. This sounds deceptively simple. Just open your eyes and look!

Several years ago I took a course in the fundamentals of drawing at the local art association. Having a life-long interest in art, I have always admired artists and had a hankering to create art myself. And so I arrived at the first class with sketchbook and tools in hand, eager to learn. What I soon discovered was that it is difficult to draw with my hand what my eyes are seeing!

Just as musicians are trained to hear music accurately and to identify it, artists are taught to draw what they see and to do it clearly. In a similar way, we need to develop the skill of viewing reality objectively. You may find this surprisingly tough to do and it may make you squirm. For many, seeing reality is uncomfortable.

We often are taught to view reality in certain ways that our parents, religious and ethnic groups and society in general, prefer. We get messages such as, “Our family always….,” or “Americans are….,” or “Methodists are…” You can insert whatever group name applies. As individuals, we may have gotten messages that we are the smart one, or the pretty one, or the athletic one, or the one who is difficult to get along with. Until we become conscious of it, these hidden beliefs form a kind of lens through which we see reality. Facing this bias and seeing through it can be uncomfortable at first.

If you are in a problem solving mode you may lie to yourself or rationalize the situation in order to feel better. Well meaning friends and family may help you with this, supplying justification or excuses for why things are the way they are. Of course this is not helpful.

What really does help is to ask for some expert assistance in objectively measuring the present situation. If you want to feel more energetic and healthy, then make an appointment with your doctor for a check-up. You may justify your level of blood sugar by saying that you celebrated too much, and that it isn’t that bad. But the numbers from a blood sample will give you a realistic picture. Or rationalizing about your bank account numbers will give way to a realistic picture if you work with a CPA or planner.

Yes, you will have to endure some discomfort.  Deal with those emotions of fear, anger or sadness by writing about them, talking to someone you trust or using EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique). Then take the realistic information you have gathered, touch base with the end goal that you established, and get ready to take action!

You must see clearly what your present situation is and then compare it to where you desire and intend to be. Doing so will be a big boon to energetically moving forward with effective action!  This will move you toward your goals in creating the life you desire. Don’t waste more time. Do it now!

 

Creating: Begin with the End in Mind

“Live out of your imagination, not your history.”
~Stephen Covey~

 

You may not consider yourself to be a creative person, but I assure you that you are.  The act of creating is something that we all do in living life.  Of course we may develop skills to a high level as inventors and entrepreneurs do.  And we may be in the tribe of writers, artists and interior decorators where creativity is very much on the front burner of awareness.

Many more of us live according to habits and beliefs that we have learned early on, and are unaware of how we are creating our lives. In other words, we may be unconscious of the creative process.  Too bad, because this leads to unnecessarily lost opportunities and dissatisfaction.

You may find that while you have fantasies or wishes for how you life could be, that for the most part you live your life looking in the rearview mirror.  We need to learn the lessons that our history presents, but history does not determine your future life.  Not if you wake up and pay attention.  And not if you are willing to learn something about creativity.

The first step to creating anything is to clearly envision the end result.  You have to know what you intend to have at the end of the process in order to get there.  I heard a writer interviewed the other day who said that she always begins her books by writing the end of the story. John Assaraf tells of his experience of cutting out a picture of a house with great architectural details that he admired and pasting it on a white poster board.  Years later he discovered the forgotten picture when he was packing to move his family into a new house.  Amazingly, the picture on the poster board was of the exact house he had bought and was moving into!

You do not have to have every detail in mind, or know how on earth you will get there.  But do take some time to tune into your imagination and create a mental picture of what you want. Use every sense that you can to make the impression as vivid as possible.  And most importantly, tune into the emotions that you will feel as you arrive at that destination that you created. For instance:

The taxi seemed to be taking forever to get from the airport to the book store where my first book signing was scheduled to take place. I didn’t have time to stop at the hotel as I had planned, so the store manager put my luggage in a locked store room until we were finished. I was nervous at first, but then amazed and excited to see the line of people holding copies of my new book and waiting to have them signed! I felt really proud of the bound book and beautiful book jacket. The line went clear out the door!  As I began I was overwhelmed with the enthusiastic comments and compliments of people who said they loved the book and hoped that I would write a sequel. Someone said that she thought it would make a great movie plot. After awhile the manager said that the local TV station had called to see if I would be willing to do an interview. Of course I said yes!  At the end of the day I was tired, but thrilled and excited to tell Jamie all about it when he and the kids called to see how my first book signing had gone. They sent a bouquet of roses to my room to help me celebrate.

The end result that you are picturing may be detailed and exact or general.  Either one will work in providing a jumping-off point. Some creators, such as Georgia O’Keeffe, are very clear about the details of the finished project (she considered it a waste of paint and canvas if she didn’t), and others have a more general outline in mind. Some just begin at a point and keep modifying the work as they go. As I said, either approach will work if you work it.

You may find it a challenge to discover and refine what exactly it is that you want.  If you have been a people pleaser, then you will need to learn to tune into your own inner voice rather than thinking about what others who are important to you might think or expect. Some public school graduates are well conditioned to think in terms of “right answers” or outcomes.  Not what will please us or meet our own unique preferences and needs.

Another technique for discovering your heart’s desires is to take a visual approach.  Go through a variety of magazines and clip out pictures that appeal to you.  Don’t sit and think about this and then look for pictures of a particular type or subject.  Just look and clip. Then get a piece of poster board and sort through them and see if they are related to any particular themes or to aspects of your life. Do they tell a story? Could you make up a story from them? Put a picture of yourself into the mix and see what happens. Give yourself time to revisit them the next day and the next. Then paste them onto the board and keep it in sight for several days.

See if you can make a list of desires or intentions from the board.  Ask yourself this question, “If I could have it right now, would I take it?” Pay attention to emotions that come up. Another question to answer would be, “Would I tell anyone that I want this? What would I expect if I did?”

Be brave; say what you are longing for. Can you admit this to yourself? You may feel vulnerable in discovering your longings, even to yourself.  But I can tell you; this is powerful stuff for creating your life.