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Posts tagged ‘self help’

You’ll See It When You Believe It

Change the way you look at things, the things you look at change

“Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at change.”

One of my all-time fave philosophies. Change. It’s powerful beyond measure, and also crippling as hell. Sigh. There’s been another death in my life.

I shared in a recent post that my Mom changed residences from her comfy loving home here on earth to somewhere, hopefully, even more wonderful. For you straight-shooters: she died. I wrote of how for me, Mom’s passing was a positive, enlightening experience and I have felt very little of the grief that I had been forewarned of and feared most of my life – and I LOVED my Mom! I valued my relationship with her greatly; she was a beautiful spirit that brought only good things to my life – the most obvious being my heart, lungs and brain! Read more about my ‘positive’ experience here, but to reinforce the sentiments of that post: today, fifteen weeks later and the day after her birthday, I’m still just revering Mom’s death with a smile! My world has felt a bit off its axis for sure, and her absence has me a wee bit out of sorts: but contrary to my fears, her loss has brought little pain. And let me say again clearly: I loved that woman dearly.

Best teachers help you find your own pathSo why then, has the death of someone I have never even met left me heartbroken?!? Psychologist, philosopher, author, speaker, “father of motivation” and master of the above “Change” quote, Dr. Wayne Dyer, passed unexpectedly on August 30th, 2015. Wayne’s work influenced every field related to mental and physical health, motivation, personal development, professional development, spirituality, education. Any of those things relevant to your life? Then so was Wayne.

I wrote a post on Wayne a while back so I won’t regurgitate his bio and deets, rather, I’m just so curious as to why I, alongside millions of others, felt such shock, sadness and utter loss upon hearing of Wayne’s passing. Clearly, he was a teacher for me. I’ve often been asked: “what teacher impacted you the most growing up”; questioners expectantly awaiting a gushy, grateful idolizing of one of my public-school teachers. I could indeed provide a high-school teacher’s name: Mr. Toews. Pronounced “Taves”. My Grade 9 Social Studies teacher. Why? Because he had a mini-guillotine on his desk and would behead a pencil if I walked in late for class. Still echoing in my soul, Mr. Toew’s sinister voice: “Loughlinnn!!!” CHOP! This anchored to my young psyche forevermore, that being late wasn’t necessarily a bad thing: the flying pencil-head was pretty cool. Otherwise, not a damn thing resonated under Mr. Toew’s tutelage; and it has really bothered me not to be able to name a single school teacher who even slightly inspired me. I’m sure I came out of public school with a decent memorization Off with your head!of some useful (and a lot more totally useless) information and some handy skills, however, no galvanizing direction, having never been approached by anyone in the education system – EVER, offering me personal context, incentive, or even a bolstering of curiosity as to how this ‘education’ could be harnessed “to be anything I wanted to be“. Ditto for college: strong contributing factors as to why it took me so long to identify my calling, me thinks. Wayne Dyer impacted my life greater than any “formal” teacher I’ve ever had: encouraging me to shift my definition and means of education; to shamelessly pursue my tribe, fulfillment, joy; and, most importantly, inspiring a desire to inspire others. And I’ve never met the man.

You got some 'splainin!

CONT’D: So why tears for a stranger, when I barely shed them for Mom? And…see how Wayne made me a believer in the ‘afterlife’!
PLUS: Are You A Self-Help Whore?? (page 2)

Diagnosis: Depression. Huh?

I don't understand.Following up on Harley’s personal story in last week’s post “Depression: The Immaculate Conception“, some of you have inquired about diagnosing depression. There are many approaches to this discussion, but if you suspect a mood disorder in yourself or a loved one, the best step is to seek the opinion of a professional: HUMAN BEING!! Specifically, your family physician or a mental health authority are the most common routes to start. Research all you want, but the earlier a diagnosis, the less stress in wondering about it and the quicker you can find an action plan. Please beware, not all GP’s have more than the limited med school education in mental health treatments, and while they certainly have adequate experience to get you started, they may not be the best resource for your entire journey. You can only trust your guts on what practitioner works for you, but rule of thumb: if at any point you are looking to abandon your actions to move forward, you should most likely check out a new professional partner… and keep looking until you find someone who feels like they are on your team!

Following is the classic information on diagnosing depression from a local mental health association: CMHA British Columbia division:

Dealing with a Depression Diagnosis

Whaaa...depressed?No one wants to feel unwell. Talking to your doctor or other health professional about problems with your mood is an important first step. But if you’re diagnosed with depression (or major depressive disorder, the medical term for clinical depression), you may end up with more questions than answers.

Being diagnosed with anything can be hard, but a mental health diagnosis can be particularly hard to deal with. You might wonder why this has happened to you and how a diagnosis will affect your life. But no matter what, it’s important to remember that you are not your diagnosis—you are a person that happens to be dealing with depression.

The medical system may not be the only way to deal with depression. You don’t have to adopt a strictly medical point of view—some people find it helpful, but others don’t. But you will likely have to work with people in the medical systems, such as doctors and mental health professionals, to access treatme
nts and other forms of support. This system is based on the process of looking at your signs, symptoms and test results to find answers. The first step is generally to clarify the diagnosis—what may appear to be a mental disorder may instead be an unexpected medical condition. The diagnosis is how health professionals organize the problem you experience. It’s the start of a process to get you feeling better.
Continue Reading: Why Me?…What the Heck IS It??? (page 2)

Depression: An Immaculate Conception

Thoughts create reality.

My last post featuring an article by Dr. Lissa Rankin featuring functional medicine, raised awareness on the mind-body connection, and how once we start to see a connection in our own lives, it becomes like…DUH!!!!… of course there’s a connection! Your relationship with both your body and your GP will be forever changed.

In my personal journey, and that of many clients whom I mentor through clinical depression, it’s pretty clear when the fog lifts that the majority of the experience was in fact within our ability to control outside of the GP’s office. Depression manifests significantly by churning the same thoughts and old limiting beliefs over and over and over. Seriously: a very small number of defeating thoughts percolate incognito hundreds of times throughout the day (and sleep!) with no interruption or reality-check; so of course the party line is, that this is simply the predictable course that depression will take.  Not even close: take comfort.  New mind-body medicine is proving to have outstanding success rate in innumerable health challenges and is being prescribed more and more as the healthcare industry gets up to speed on the research and protocols. Less medication, more meditation.  Like I say on my home page, if I had had experienced mentors to guide me when I was struggling with change and depression, I very likely would have been on a healthy path much, MUCH sooner.  Would life have been better? Doesn’t matter.  My growth from that chapter brought awareness of what I needed to learn: our bodies are made to take care of themselves- so take care of them; our minds drive a great part of our bodies’ decisions- so take care of them; and great support in the form of both self-care and community (preferably as a wellness plan not just a sickness response!) can handle a lot of our life woes (or perceptions thereof!).

That’s not to say that there doesn’t need to be the utmost respect and partnership between evolving perspectives and traditional medicine. Fortunately, BC, where I am based, is beginning to offer more user-friendly information on integrative and functional healing, and the mental health area in particular is really making an effort.  The Canadian Mental Health Association, BC Division is one
such progressive resource, and the following is a very personal story of one BC resident who’s journey took just such a walk through varying perspectives of managing his health and life.Sigh.

Continued: Read Harley’s very forthcoming story (page 2)

Counselling: Who Gets It? For What? Who Doesn’t? Why Not?

Here’s one perspective:

Trends and barriers to getting folks
the counselling they need.

adapted from Psychology Today, April 2013
Susan  Heitler, Ph.D. with Linda McKinzie

Reach Out. Just Do It.For what do folks seek help?

The pie chart above shows what kinds of emotional problems led over 1500 folks last year (2012) to seek help from Denver’s Maria Droste Counseling Center’s 30 or more counsellors.

Maria Droste’s analysis indicated that anxiety and depression together accounted for the primary troubles of almost 40% of people who sought help.  What triggered their anxious, stressed and depressed feelings?  The something going wrong in their lives, MDCC’s staff believes, has often included long-term or chronic unemployment.

When people face a life problem, which usually is about the work or the love aspects of their lives, they typically first feel anxious.  Looking ahead they feel uncertain about what if anything they can do about the problem.

After a period of anxiety, which they may refer to as stress, people become at increasing risk for feeling angry, blaming others for their dilemma, for depression with hopelessness about finding solutions, or for self-injurious habits like drinking and smoking, and for relationship problems.

Note that the two biggest reasons people seek help are depression and relationship troubles.  That should be a heads up that internalizing our thoughts and feelings is a societally widespread problem, desperately requiring more life-skills training earlier in life, and a perspective shift regarding the freedom to be ourselves and speak our truths without fear of judgement.

It’s probably a bad sign that there’s twice as many folks seeking help for depression as for anxiety.   Depression suggests that folks are giving up on finding a fix.  This disproportion could indicate that people wait out their difficulties while they are anxious rather than seeking help in response to this initial distressed feeling.

“Depression is the leading source of disability in Canada at a rate slightly higher than the world average.”
~ Bill Wilkerson, Business and Economic Roundtable on Mental Health

For many folks, it’s only when they have fallen into a dark hole of hopelessness that they finally feel so bad that they reach out  for professional mental health services.  Better late than never, and yet that’s sad because often it’s easier for folks to find solutions to their problems when they are still feeling anxious than after they’ve given up.

Intake workers at Maria Droste noted another unexpected factor when they looked at these statistics for the past year’s intake records.  They noticed an increase in calls about relationship issues.

Claudia Gray, Maria Droste Intake Manager, said, “This year in particular, we had a lot of people requesting couples and family therapy for a variety of reasons.”

“Mental health disorders represent the greatest business and public health challenge of the 21st century. We must understand that. And in a hurry.”
~ Bob Lord, Chairman of the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants

One of those reasons Gray speculates, has been the country’s economic downturn. “If couples are already struggling with insufficient communication skills for talking over their difficulties cooperatively and productively, and then you add the stress and struggle of economic and financial worries, weaknesses in communication become more pronounced.  Couples seek out counseling to help them find better ways to communicate with each other.”

Sue Kamler, Director of Maria Droste’s intake services, added that the calls coming in last year also seemed to be more complex. “For example, when someone called in saying they were experiencing depression and anxiety, during the assessment process we often discovered a history of childhood abuse or domestic violence. The depression and anxiety needed treatment, and at the same time it was important also to address their earlier issues of loss or abuse.”

Employees experiencing high work/life conflict have absenteeism rates three times those of employees with low work/life conflict.
~ Duxbury, Higgings: “Work-Life Balance in the New Millennium: Where Are We? Where Do We Need to Go?”, 2001

A recent study by compensation consultant Watson Wyatt Worldwide found the estimated direct cost of absenteeism to business is 7.1 per cent of the payroll, up from 5.6 per cent in 1997. Again, stress-related disorders accounted for the lion’s share. In 2000, the only year studied, there was an additional 10 per cent indirect cost for overtime, replacement personnel and loss of productivity.
~ The Globe and Mail, July 15, 2002

 Why don’t more folks reach out
for the help they need?

“Mental health is talked about more now than ever before.  With the high profile media coverage and analysis of incidents such as the Sandy Hook shootings, public forums such as Dr. Phil and Oprah, and corporate involvement to bring mental health issues to a more commonly recognized part of life (such as Bell Let’s Talk Day), it is now the subject of discussions at national through to community through to dinner table levels.

Yet only a small proportion of the people who would benefit from counselling actually seek it out.  Why??

Ms. McKinzie offers the following explanations for why many people delay seeking support:

“One major reason that many people, especially men, do not seek support and therefore needlessly suffer for long periods of time from emotional pain, anxiety, excessive anger, old resentments and depression, is their perceived stigma associated with receiving mental health care. They regard getting help as embarrassing, something others do but not themselves.  Better to grin and bear it than to admit that they need help.

“Another concern is expense.  Only one of the costs of meeting with a counsellor is paying for the sessions, which health insurance or extended benefits may or may not help to cover.  In addition, missing time at work for weekly daytime therapy sessions can be costly in terms of not getting work done, docked pay, and supervisor disapproval.  Evening and weekend sessions may require payment for babysitters.

“Finally, there is a documented shortage of affordable mental health care in most communities. If everyone who genuinely needs mental health help were to seek it, there would be far too few resources to meet the challenge. And, there needs to be more options for talk therapy readily acknowledged to meet both a person’s comfort level and financial level, such as community programs, clergy, and mentors.

“Mental health is fundamental to physical health as well as to experiencing life’s most positive blessings such as happiness, gratitude and supportive loving relationships.”

This was one of the key messages in the first-ever Surgeon General’s report on the topic of mental health and mental illness released way back in 1999. Now, 15 years later, we still have far to go in terms of getting mental/emotional/spiritual health support to all who need it.

What can give us hope?

Fortunately, there are more options being recognized for folks who are feeling that they just have to grin and bear it:  don’t know where to turn, think they can’t afford help, or fear the stigma of being labelled with an “inferior mind” or weak.  One of the most exciting new trends in our internet age has been the offering of SKYPE, phone and web-based mental health services in any form, from anywhere in the world.

The bottom line

Services are available far more broadly and less expensively than many might think.  If you are feeling down and out, mad or stressed, do consider giving mental health services a try!

When is talk-therapy useful?  Any time you:

Need someone on your side — someone who is knowledgeable

Are stuck and need help resolving a particular problem

Need coaching support to meet a specific goal, such as career, relationship or social

Have concerns about your relationship and want expert help to improve it, or to make decisions about the direction the relationship should take

Have a need for strict confidentiality in regard to your concern

Need a fresh look at your life and where it’s going

Are feeling depressed or stressed by specific events

Are sad, lonely, or anxious and don’t see a way out

Susan Heitler, Ph.D., is the author of many books, including From Conflict to Resolution and The Power of Two. She is a graduate of Harvard University and New York University.
Co-author Linda McKinzie, is executive director of Denver’s  Maria Droste Counseling Center.

Co-Dependency 101

codependency_

by Pipa Gordon
The Raphael Project, 2010

Co-dependency essentially is another addiction that life can throw our way. It is a huge minefield and we are just going to scratch the surface here in order to open the door to conversation and thought. If it is something you you find yourself relating to, it might be a good idea to look deeper into it and/or seek some counselling.

A Co-dependent person is someone who is often more orientated to other people’s reality than their own. They have the ability to know and understand everyone elses’ needs but yet they can not tell you what they need for toffee. They are what is referred to as the finder and the fixer. From the outside, this person may come across as the modern day Mother Theresa, people may look at them and be inspired and wish they had it all together like she does but unfortunately, in this situation, when it is a co-dependent person acting out the role of everyone else’s fixer, they are hiding from their own pains and needs and getting their ego fix from being seen as the hero. Of course there is nothing wrong at all with being the good samaritan, but when this pattern of behaviour becomes someone’s identity and addiction, it is because of deeper issues at hand.

A Co-dependent relationship is perhaps best described as a non productive relationship that you are addicted to, feel bound to and can’t get out of your mind. These relationships can sneak up on us, are often the closest we have and are layered with guilt and “I should…” along the way. Unhealthy is an understatement as these relationships are emotionally imbalanced and leave you feeling drained; your thoughts and emotions go beyond those of normal healthy self-sacrifice and caring relationships and you feel beholden to keep up your side of the deal, often fearing that the other person might fall apart if you were to walk away – which even if it were the case, would be the making of you both. The healthy need of each other has gone beyond extremes and become an I need you to need me type of need which is suffocating and often causes the feeling of being trapped.

codependent4

Co-dependency doesn’t only occur between partners, but also often between parent and child. The longer it goes on for, the more the guilt and need runs deeply and almost feels like the life force of the relationship. Often you find that people in a co-dependent relationship are compeltely oblivious to it as they don’t know any different and often genuinely think they are caring for the other person. For example:

  1. a Mother is having a co-dependent relationship with her 32 year old son who still lives at home and is borrowing money, eating into her inheritance because she says he lost his job, again…..yet her allowing him to keep taking from her is feeding his not pulling himself together and acting responsibly and equally feeding her need to be needed.
  2. the Wife has a husband with a gambling problem so she’s working two jobs to make ends meet…she says he’s “trying to quit” but he’s not, because she’s making up the shortfall in their finances anyway.
  3. a Daughter phones her mother every day not because she wants to but because she feels she has to. She’s unable to make decisions without her Mother’s say so, is there at her Mother’s beck and call and carries guilt about being the perfect daughter even though she is married with her own family to look after. (nb, many daughters phone their mum regularly because they WANT to, this is perfectly healthy, we are talking about the feeling of “I need to” here).

So let’s break it down, what are the signs of a co-dependent relationship?

  • Secrets from the outside world
  • Guilt at not fixing their problemtoxic enter
  • Shame
  • Repressed Anger
  • Low Self-esteem
  • Compromising own values to avoid the other person’s rejection or anger
  • Power imbalance in a relationship

How do you know if you are a co-dependent person?

  • Do you get obsessed with fixing and rescuing needy people?
  • Are you easily absorbed in the pain and problems of other people? Do you find yourself feeling someone else’s pain beyond empathy?
  • Do you find yourself being controlling? Are you easily controlled within relationships?
  • Do you do more than your share….all of the time?
  • Are you always seeking approval and recognition? You need to be seen as important and integral?
  • Would you do anything to hold on to a relationship? Do you fear being abandoned?

Codependent support

Co-dependent women often burn out as they are entirely focused on the pain and suffering of someone else. There is a stark difference between a compassionate woman and a woman who is drawn to someone else’s pain as they feel that in being there to fix and help gives them a sense of worthiness.  There is also a difference between someone who works hard, and someone who is  a workaholic! Often you find co-dependent over achievers felt loved by  their parents because of what they DID, not who they were…and hence  they bring that learned behaviour into their adult lives and behave in  an almost martyr like fashion which not only is therefore wasted energy, but can also be damaging to their own spouse and children and the pattern becomes in danger of repeating itself.

Here’s a big one – you know he has a good side and you’re hoping that it will come back again….? Familiar? That’s a co-dependent relationship, you’re fixing him, you’re trying to change him, you’re hoping that one day things will get better and in the meantime are holding it all together. I know it’s a terribly painful realisation – it doesn’t mean the relationship is over, but it does mean that as long as you are protecting him and waiting for him to change, odds on, he won’t. You need to find your own independence, your own healthiness in this relationship and hope to goodness that he bounces back and does the same.

Neediness is an absolute red flag of co-dependency as one person’s happiness depends on having the other person right there, right now to the extent that their behaviour can become possessive, jealous and obsessive….calling them pointlessly throughout the day just to check up on what they are doing…. asking questions which have the underlying motivation  “Do you still love me? Am I still important?”…. these are all clear tell tales of a co-dependent relationship.

Repressed anger is also a deep one linked with shame. Often someone hasn’t been allowed to show their emotions as a child and so has never developed the ability to be rational with their reactions and feelings, their shame and low self esteem causes them to repress their anger as they don’t know what might happen to them if they were to express it.

neglected

What causes co-dependency? This can come from all angles of life! Often from childhood where the child has been loved for their actions rather than who they are, this in turn has built in a pattern, an integral belief that says “if I do good, I am loved” thus the over achieving fixer, mender, superhero over achiever is born. It can also be that as a child, the youngster wasn’t allowed to develop naturally into an independently thinking teen and young adult, perhaps because they were parented by an alcoholic, an abuser, someone with control issues or other family problems. This meant that their own mind was not allowed to function as they were controlled by their parents/care-givers telling them what to do, what to think, how to be, where to be, what is right, what is wrong etc, therefore, they have never learned how to be independent, but have literally been trained in co-dependency behaviour from the beginning.

As well as resulting from relationship issues; we also see that co-dependency can arise from mental illness such as depression, all types of abuse, chronic illness within the family, divorce, even moving home – any trauma without the correct support system around can also trigger and set the stage for codependency, this is because the natural reliance on oneself can become stuck which can then trigger an incomplete sense of self, a sense of inadequacy and an inability to stand on one’s own feet.  The person then feels vulnerable and begins to give with the motivation to receive stability and strength which somewhere along the line they lost.

How do we overcome co-dependency? We learn how to step across into inter-dependency. This is a healthy form of leaning on each other as an independent person, not a dependent one. There is a monumental difference between someone who is a free unconditional giving person versus one who gives because they need to feel needed.  The Mother Daughter relationship can often be co-dependent as it is naturally a very close bond but this is can be abused by emotional issues which can then create unhealthy links and bonds. A daughter can feel immensely guilty at wanting to break free from her Mother who has become all encompassing and involved in every decision in her daughter’s life. The Mother’s need has become larger than her ability to freely give and the daughter knows no different and so feels trapped.

change10

The first step with any addiction is of course to acknowledge it and then reach out for help. There are loads of books available but if you can, I would also opt for a course of counselling as as each case is intricate and different to the one before, it would be helpful to get a professional’s eye on the situation as this is a tough  nut to crack alone. What is very important is setting healthy boundaries and having a good support system because we are talking about changing the fundamental way that someone has done life so far.

There will be a small element of co-dependency in all of us, but you know heart of hearts if it is a problem. We touched on this lightly but do remember that co-dependency can arrive in your life at any given stage or equally can be the fruit of other things such as child abuse and bullying in those formative years. It’s always good to trace back as far as possible to find the root. We all know when weeding, that if you get the root, you’re laughing!

Pipa Gordon and the Raphael Project is a blog/site on wordpress, paraphrased as follows:

There are way too may people who walk this planet alone, who face trials of one degree or another singlehandedly. This is why I wanted to create a space where we can address all kinds of issues, some light some heavy, but those issues that we don’t always know how to deal with or where to go with. The ones that we’re not quite sure who to turn to about.
What this site is about is lifting the lid on life and discussing the lot! What makes it, how to survive it, how to look good whilst doing it but even better, how to do it fruitfully, happily and with one another. (Notice no use of the word successfully!).

For more info:  http://theraphaelproject.com/about

Belief Systems: Big 5 Culprits

The Big 5 That Develop Your Belief System

by Cathy Campbell, Inspired Personal Developmentprincess frog

From the moment you come into the world, you begin developing your belief system. And just how do you do this?

That first sentence contains a major hint of a notable attribute of developing beliefs… your system of beliefs forms from irrational input as well as rational!

Obviously as a newborn you don’t have a well formed capacity for logical deduction, so developing your belief system is not necessarily a rational process. Rather, it’s a process based on your experience of the world.

Whatever information comes to you in a form that you can digest, (ie. you have the necessary perception to process it), you file appropriately into your fledgling belief system.

As you mature, your abilities and understanding expands, and ultimately you are developing your belief system based on 5 primary methods of gathering information. Note that: only one of these stems directly from your personal facility of critical thinking!

Five Main Reasons You Believe

It can be very helpful and enlightening to know why you believe what you do. You might be surprised to realize some of the shaky ground you have formed your belief system on.

The big 5 are:

  1. Evidence
  2. Tradition
  3. Authority
  4. Association
  5. Revelation

Evidence Based Believing

Evidence shows that one thing causes another. The understanding of causation appeals to the analytical and critical thinking part of your mind.

Developing your belief system through this method is very rationale and based on the use of logical thinking.

The skills associated with evidence based believing develop as we mature, and become more honed through education. In this mode you look for facts. You look at events that are measurable, and where one thing directly causes something else. Scientific studies supply results from research and critically tested hypotheses to support evidence based beliefs.

You can also establish beliefs based on your personal experience of cause and affect. You might continually witness a consistent outcome from your actions. For example:

  • If you drive a certain route at rush hour, you know you will be 10 minutes late and upset yourself and others. Therefore you believe it’s best to take an alternate route during rush hour.
  • When you make dinner for friends, they express their appreciation, and you feel great. Therefore you know you will get enjoyment by creating dinner for friends.

This method of forming beliefs is also responsible for ‘learned helplessness’. If you consistently perform a behavior, and always get a negative outcome, you may come to believe that you have no power or influence in creating what it is you are aiming for. For example:

  • Because you are always 10 minutes late when driving that certain route at rush hour, and it is the only route possible to take, you know you will be 10 minutes late. You will feel upset, and you will upset others. Therefore, you always feel distressed in this situation.
  • When you make dinner for friends, no one expresses their appreciation, and you feel like a failure. Therefore you stop cooking dinner for friends.

The trick in the learned helplessness scenario is to adjust the elements that you can, and accept the things you cannot change. This might possibly include altering the physical elements such as setting alternate meeting times or places, or cooking different meals or inviting different friends!

But certainly one thing you can change, through gaining understanding, is how you view these events. For example, you could say:

  • If that is the only route possible to take during rush hour, and I cannot change appointment details, I will be 10 minutes late. That is reality.

Therefore, I have 10 minutes in traffic to put to use as I wish by listening to relaxing radio, personal development recordings, or reviewing the things I’m thankful for today. I will explain this situation to any other people affected. Whether they decide to make the best of the situation, is up to them. I am not responsible for how they view reality.

  • If I cook dinner for friends, and no one expresses appreciation, I can ask myself exactly why it is that I want to cook these dinners. If you feel like a failure when no one expresses appreciation, then you are likely looking to others to reinforce your self worth. That shows it’s time to recognize that your self worth is something always with you. To tap into it, spend some time talking to a life coach for personal development.

Adopting Traditional Beliefs

The traditions perpetuated through families and societies are a major factor in developing your belief system. We are often showered with traditions day in and day out when growing up, so they can be extremely easy to adopt, without even questioning. When you believe in a tradition, recognize that they have served some generation well. Yet it does not mean they are based in truth, nor necessarily have continued usefulness for your life.

There is a funny and telling story about a woman from a certain family where the women always cut their roasts in half prior to roasting. The third generation daughter said she did it because she understood that it made the meat more tender. Her mother said that she learned it from her own mom and thought it was to reduce the cooking time and save on energy usage. When the oldest woman, grandma, was asked about it, she said that the oven she had when raising a family was very small and it was necessary to always cut the roast in half to fit it in!

So not only was there a belief being passed down that it was important to cut the roast in half, the reason behind the belief was totally lost, and no longer relevant to the women’s lives!

It is through family and cultural tradition that many people formulate their primary belief system. Social culture, family bias, and societal prejudice all strongly influence formation of:

  • global beliefs such as:
    • what God is
    • political theory
    • science
    • personal value
  • topic specific beliefs:
    • the specific religious practice to support
    • which political party to vote for
    • which sport team to cheer for

Ask yourself ‘what role has tradition played in developing your belief system?’.

“We are so conditioned, so heavily burdened with belief, with tradition, with the past, that this actually prevents us from seeing or listening.”
-J Krishnamurti

Authority Steers Beliefs

Many beliefs are adopted from people that have a role of authority in our lives.

Sometimes these figures of authority also fall in the category of tradition, as you can imagine. For example, your parents play a role of authority in your early life and they are regularly passing traditions down to you.

Other times authority figures are independent to tradition. Some examples of authority figures who may influence your beliefs (while theirs are not necessarily based on traditional beliefs) might be:

  • a new age religious cult leader that espouses having a special direct line to ‘God’
  • doctors who tell you they absolutely know best about your health and all conflicting ideas re rubbish
  • a school teacher who you look up to, whether or not they follow ‘tradition’

Beliefs by Association

Who do you hang out with?

Whether you run with the ‘in crowd’ or the ‘nerds’, you will be adopting compatible beliefs to your own, as well as reinforcing common beliefs that you hold with your group. It is pretty much a case of ‘what you see is what you get’. As you are continually faced with particular ways of thinking within the group, you start to adopt and reinforce those ideas as the ‘right way’ to think.

Basically, by sharing time and activities, you rub off on one another and mutually influence one another’s belief system.

If you associate with hard working people who feel they are short on time and money, chances are you will be developing your belief system based around those ideas as well. Alternatively, if you spend your time with people who feel they have a very rich blessed life spending their time for their own delight, your attitude will likely be quite different.

Revelations Induce Beliefs

The definition of revelation referred to here is “disclosure of information to man by a divine or supernatural agency”. Basically, this is the experience of attaining information through what you might describe as:

  • a feeling or sense about something
  • a hunch or an inkling of an idea
  • an intuition or premonition about something
  • an insight through your sixth sense
  • a gut feeling
  • your minds eye or imagination

There are two primary and common understandings of how you may have ‘received’ this enlightening communication of knowledge:

  1. the information has been fed into your subconscious through external stimuli. It was just bubbling below the surface, and then some obscure occurrence brought it to your attention.
  2. your developing intuition, a sixth sense of perception of our world that everyone has. It may be that this 6th sense is just as powerful and ‘real’ as our other 5 senses. It has the ability to tune into other aspects of reality that humanity does not yet fully understand, nor have accurate measurements to assess.

Such inspiration can strike at any time; in the shower, driving to work, gazing at the ocean. Where ever it might have originated from may be interesting to ponder. Yet, I think the really interesting question is, ‘is the information valuable to you and how can you use it’.

Certainly Albert Einstein asked this question of the wild ideas he came up with, and look where it lead him and the world. He ushered in a raft of new beliefs for humanity. Just some of Einstein’s words of wisdom on the subject:

“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.”

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.
For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand,
while imagination embraces the entire world,
and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

The Art and Magic of Believing

It is widely understood that most beliefs you hold have not originated with you. Rather, you have primarily adopted what makes sense to your experience and understanding at the time. You continue in developing your belief system largely by agreeing with ideas that come into your awareness.

Once you understand this, it gives you great strength to:

  • review your beliefs, and ask with nonattachment, “do they have a solid basis and do they serve you well?”
  • drop any feeling of threat when your ‘adopted beliefs’ seem to fall short, or come under attack

You have accepted your beliefs based on what you knew at the time. As you learn more, it is reasonable that your belief system will undergo change and growth.

© 2008-2013 inspired-personal-development.com

The Mental Shift That Can Change Everything

…RESPONSE-ABILITY at work and at home.

adapted from Fred Kofman, PhD. April 2013

“Sorry I’m late.
Traffic was awful!”

How many of your meetings start with this lame excuse? You know it’s a cop-out, yet an irrepressible urge makes you take the easy way out over, and over, and over again. It is not your fault, I know. It’s the irrepressible urge that makes you do it.

In Control versus Out of Control There are two types of causes: those within and those beyond your control. You have a choice about where to focus. The latter makes you look innocent. You are not to blame. The former makes you powerful. It is your “response-ability.” Being “response-able” means focusing on what you can do to respond to a challenge. It’s about taking ownership, rather than assigning blame and playing the innocent victim. As I wrote here, the price of innocence is impotence.

You can explain any result as the balance between these two causes: the challenge versus your ability to respond. When your ability is higher than the challenge, you succeed; when it is lower, you fail. Think of it as weight lifting. If your strength is bigger than the weight, you lift it; if it isn’t, you don’t. There is a funny asymmetry, though. When you lift, you call yourself “strong.” When you don’t, you call the weight “heavy.”

Has anyone ever told you that he was not capable enough to do the job? Yet how many times have you heard, “the job is too difficult!” The missing terms at the end of the sentence, the most important ones to avoid the victim mindset are “for me,” as in, “the job is too difficult for me.

Both explanations are (partially) true. The victim story gets you stuck in resignation and resentment. Someone is harming you and there’s nothing you can do. Life is not fair! The responsibility story empowers you. The ball is in your court. How are you going to play it?

Why are they stuck? My colleague Andrés found himself under the gun. While he waited for his garage door to open in Buenos Aires, two armed thieves assaulted him. “Get out of the car!” they threatened. He did. “Open the door of your house or we’ll shoot you!” they barked next. Andrés teaches people how to be response-able. Shaking, he calmly said, “My wife and daughter are in the house. I will give you my car, my money, anything you want. But I will not open the door.” The thieves took his car, his money, his watch, his phone and his laptop, but they didn´t take his life. I asked Andrés what he thought at that crucial moment. “If these guys were going to shoot me for not opening the door, God knows what they would have done to my wife and daughter inside. If they shot me in the street, they would have had to run. I could have died, but I would have protected my loved ones.”

The ability to respond does not mean the ability to succeed. Response-ability does not guarantee that you win, or even survive. It only reminds you that you can choose how you play and how you live.

Asleep with the Enemy We all want to be liked, as Dave Kerpen writes. The problem is that rather than following Dave’s counsel, many of us attempt to be liked through Idiot Compassion. We collude with the person stuck in the victim mindset. We blame, we moan and we groan.

“I can´t believe they did that to you!” “They shouldn’t have!” “You deserve better than that.” “They should fix it right now!”

These comments are soothing – like a drug – and equally deadly. They calm you down with sweet protection and rev you up with righteous indignation. But they don’t give you a way to address the situation. You may think the person making them is on your side, but your drug dealer is not your friend.

Fight Back! I am always tempted to collude with my clients. They are in pain and I want to be compassionate. However, I want to offer them wise compassion. For example, a call center manager whom I coached had a bad case of victimhood. His automatic response when his boss asked him about poor customer satisfaction was to blame his employees for poor manners, the finance department for small budgets, and the training department for lack of skills. I listened to his story, feeling for him. I expressed my sorrow and then asked him if he wanted my help.

When he agreed, I challenged him with these questions:

  • What is the challenge you are facing? (Instead of “What did they do to you?”)
  • How have you responded? (Instead of “What should they have done?”)
  • How has that worked out for you? (Instead of “How are they wrong?”)
  • What could you do now? (Instead of “What should they do now?”)
  • If you need help, whom could you ask? (Instead of “Who should fix it?”)
  • What can you learn from this? (Instead of “How should they be punished?”)

The pattern is simple: turn “they” and “should” into “I” and “could.” Stop blaming them, but don’t blame yourself either. Ability to respond does not mean guilt. It doesn’t matter who is responsible for the situation. What matters is that you see yourself as able to respond, improve and learn when confronting the situation.

What my client found is less important than what your colleagues can find when you ask them these questions with intelligent kindness.

A final word of caution: Remember that to earn the right to challenge someone out of victimhood, you must first listen, acknowledge his or her pain and ask permission to help. I have seen too many relationships broken by eager friends and spouses who interrupt with, “Oh c’mon! Quit being a victim and start thinking of what you can do to solve this problem!

“The basic difference between an ordinary man and a warrior
is that a warrior takes everything as a challenge,
while an ordinary man takes everything as a blessing or a curse.”
— Don Juan, Mexican shaman (quoted by Carlos Castaneda)

Question for readers: What is your favorite victim explanation?

Fred Kofman, PhD. Economics, is Professor of Leadership and Coaching at the Conscious Business Center of the University Francisco Marroquín and a faculty member of Lean In. He is the author of Conscious Business, How to Build Value Through Values.

Who The Hell is “Society”?

“I am enough. I am not my history” – Melody Ehsani

This article’s theme area:
PERSONAL POWER, BEHAVIOUR PATTERN
S

From My Perspective: Sihle Mahonga January 22, 2013

Never did I ever think that I would be one of those ‘shamed students who take FOREVER to complete their degrees. I am now in my 5th year out of school and still have a year and a half to complete my degree. Now, you might be thinking to yourself “geesh whats taking her so long to finish a 3 year degree?” and this is what they DON’T tell you when you fail or you take another major or you simply want to take your time.

  1. The somewhat shame that is connected to an underperforming or ‘slow’ student
  2. The raised eyebrow every time you say your student number in relation to your year of study
  3. Your own voices telling you “LOSER” “STUPID” “WHAT WERE YOU THINKING” “I KNEW IT, ITS TOO HARD”

I know them all…but you see it isn’t all black and white between achievers and non-achievers.

There are those who, stifled by society, are pushed into the life of academia. Those who at 1am in the morning cut cloth, paint, draw, write music, update their scrapbook – only to get up in the morning and carry the never-ending flow of textbooks. Those whose parents pressure their children to do something that they never thought of themselves doing, all for a piece of paper called a degree.

I’m not calling down on academia but I am calling down on those who think academia is life. Right now I have applied to study Music and Fashion (depending on which one I am chosen for).

I wasn’t built for academia

I was built to create and inspire, to roll around in my imagination and bring forth life.

I write, I sing very well, I draw- what I can do with these hands and mind is enough.

My creative mind is enough.

My body (and the crazy things I adorn it with) is enough.

I am enough

I’m not my high school math paper (which mind you, was 23%). I am not what my friends think when I told them that I was on a different path to them. I am not my so called ‘lost years’. I am not my history.

I am going for it and I know somehow, I’m going to make it through. Don’t let doubt and deviant behavior of society define who you are. You who are fearfully and wonderfully made.

I am enough. I am not my history.

Are You Your Own Martyr?

Are you giving up too much
to keep everyone else happy?

Taking on the martyr role in any relationship is a recipe for unhappiness. In the following article, Dr. Robert Holden explains that there are two types of sacrifice: unhealthy sacrifice and healthy sacrifice.

Understanding the difference and finding a balance between what you give and what you get in your relationships is essential to your happiness, health and well-being. From co-workers to friendships to family, there are key reasons behind the sacrifices you’re making in your relationships that upon closer examination, will reveal whether they actually “contribute” or “contaminate”. See if you recognize yourself in any of the following real-life examples, and if so, pay attention to the powerful exercises to help you “let go” and say YES to a more beautiful – and less exhausing life. -SL

10 Steps to Letting Go of Unhealthy Sacrifice

By Robert Holden
August 06, 2010

So… there are two types of sacrifice: unhealthy sacrifice and healthy sacrifice. In my work, I have seen people try to use unhealthy sacrifice to save a marriage. It appeared to work at first, but love and dishonesty are not good bedfellows. I have seen lovers try to play small in a relationship so as to heal power struggles and avoid rejection. I have seen children get ill in an attempt to heal their parents’ relationship. I have seen business leaders nearly kill themselves for their cause. Unhealthy sacrifice is often well-intentioned, but it never really works. Healthy sacrifice is a different story. To be happy in a relationship, for instance, you have to be willing to sacrifice fear for love, independence for intimacy, defenses for joy and resentment for forgiveness. To be successful at work, you have to be willing to sacrifice being in control to allow for innovation and sacrifice chronic busyness for genuine success, for instance. Healthy sacrifice helps you to let go of what does not really work in order to embrace what does work. So, how much unhealthy sacrifice are you in right now? Sometimes the habit of unhealthy sacrifice is so unconscious we are the last to recognize it in ourselves. Would you be willing to sacrifice unhealthy sacrifice so as to shift your life and experience greater joy, love and abundance?

Assess your “sacrifice personality” with the following 10 questions:

1. I am true to myself in my closest relationships. In our first coaching session, Claire, a 28-year-old classical pianist, told me, “I want you to help me prepare for a conversation I need to have with my parents.” Claire grew up in a musical family. Her father was a well-known conductor. Her mother played first violin. “Classical music is a religion in our family,” Claire said. Claire was an accomplished classical pianist. “I’m good at it, but my heart’s not in it,” she said. “I really want to play jazz. That’s what my soul wants. But I’m afraid it’s not what my parents want.”

The story of sacrifice usually begins in the family. The primary sacrifice is a movement away from your authentic, unconditioned self to a more adapted, pleasing self. Early on, you notice what wins smiles, applause, approval and love, and also what doesn’t. Being adaptive is normal and healthy, but too much of it can cause a pattern of unhealthy sacrifice later in life. The movement away from your authentic self to a pleasing self is a fall from grace that leaves you chasing happiness outside of you. Other symptoms include feeling unworthy, being afraid of rejection, always giving your power away and ultimately feeling unloved and unsuccessful.

Letting Go Exercise: Meditate on being true to yourself. First, ask: “What does being true to myself really mean?” Second, notice how good it feels to listen to your heart, to follow your joy, to trust yourself and to be authentic. Third, look at where you could be truer to yourself. Fourth, notice any fears that arise and question: “Are these fears true, or are they just fears?” Be willing to let go of being “good,” “nice” and “pleasing” so that you can be real and so that people can see who you really are. Remember this: When you are true to yourself, you cannot betray anyone else.

2. I feel guilty if I am happy and others are not. Lucy was 22 years old when we first met. She had fallen in love with a man she would eventually marry. “I’m in love, very happy, and I feel guilty as hell,” Lucy said. Growing up, Lucy’s father suffered from depression and alcoholism. He was occasionally violent toward her mother. “It was me who helped her to be strong enough to finally get divorced,” Lucy said. Lucy’s mother fell into two more abusive relationships. Each time, Lucy helped her mother untangle herself. “We bonded together through adversity,” Lucy said, “and now I’m afraid that my happiness will somehow tear us apart.” Unhealthy sacrifice is often perpetuated by an erroneous fear that your happiness is selfish. If you believe this fear, then too much happiness will feel wrong, bad, illegal, blasphemous and harmful to others. Is this really true? Here’s what I believe: You can’t get depressed enough to make somebody happy; you can’t get ill enough to make someone else well; you can’t get poor enough to make somebody rich; and you can’t betray your heart to save someone else.

Letting Go Exercise: To help you let go of the belief that sacrificing your happiness makes everyone else happier, make a list of all the people who are truly grateful for your self-sacrifice. This list should take you two seconds to complete! Next, consider this affirmation: “My happiness is my gift to others.” Think about how this might be true for you. Reflect on how your happiness can help you to love others more. Letting go of the fear that your happiness is selfish creates new possibilities of growth and joy for everyone.

3. I often end up being the caregiver in relationships. “I’ve fallen in love with the most handsome man, and I want you to help me not turn into his mother,” said Stella, a 36-year-old human resources director of a global company. Stella had had two previous long-term relationships. “Each time the big, strong man became a little, helpless boy,” Stella said. “And the gorgeous, sexy woman [i.e., Stella] ended up in employment as a full-time carer.” This was Stella’s first serious relationship for six years and she didn’t want to fall into a role again. Roles in romantic relationships are usually a projection of roles first forged in childhood. When I asked Stella who was the martyr in her family, Stella replied quickly, “My mother, big time.” If a family has one martyr in it, then unhealthy sacrifice is something everyone will have to deal with. Classically, everyone in the family tries to heal the martyr, and they usually end up in unhealthy sacrifice trying to do so. The authentic, unconditioned self is lost as you take on the job/role of being the helper, the good child, the peacemaker, the healer, the responsible one, the grown-up one, the hard worker, the strong one, the invisible one and the martyr.

Letting Go Exercise: Take a look at your family. Identify the roles everyone played when you were growing up, including you. Notice if you still play these roles in romance, with friends, in work and on your spiritual journey. Notice what this costs you. Playing a role leaves you feeling like a cardboard cut-out of your real self. You feel flat and lifeless. You try to be positive, but really you feel removed, unappreciated and resentful. Remember this: Roles are self-appointed. No one said you must take on this role. If you are in a role, there must be a better way. It’s time to make a new choice.

4. I am afraid of giving too much in relationships. “I’ve met a new girl, and I think this time she could be the one,” said Dan, a 34-year-old firefighter based in New York. “You don’t sound very happy,” I said. “I am very happy,” Dan replied. “I’m also very scared.” “Why?” I asked. “Because every time I commit to a girl, I end up giving too much,” Dan said. “Is that really true?” I asked. “It feels true,” Dan replied. “Is the problem that you give too much, or is it that you give yourself away?” I asked. The unhealthy sacrifices you have made in the past can, it not healed, put you off relationships for life. Or they can put you off taking the next step in commitment and intimacy in your current relationship. When you are in love, you recognize that love wants to give everything, totally, and there is no feeling of loss. However, when you are in unhealthy sacrifice, giving always feels like loss. Why is this? Well, partly it is because unhealthy sacrifice is an attempt to give without receiving. Also, unhealthy sacrifice is a covert operation of “giving in order to get” (e.g., “If I give myself away to you, you will keep me, wont you?”).

Letting Go Exercise: When you play the role of the “giver,” you usually also end up playing “the loser.” Inevitably, your relationships end up feeling one-sided. People seem to take more than they give. Your relationships seem to take a lot out of you. The first step in letting go of the role of “giver” is to inspect the role more closely. You may find, for instance, that “giving too much” hides feelings of unworthiness, a desire to please, a fear of rejection, wanting to be the one in control, a reluctance to receive and a lack of authentic presence and openness on your part.

martyr woma

5. I am good at asking for what I want. “Whenever I need something from someone, I buy chocolate,” said Carol, a 44-year-old schoolteacher. “Why’s that?” I asked. “Chocolate never says no,” Carol replied. “How much chocolate do you eat?” I asked. “A lot,” Carol said. Unhealthy sacrifice leads to dysfunctional independence. If you are a DIP—a Dysfunctionally Independent Person—you are trying to do your life all by yourself without help from anyone else. This is your way of declaring to the world: “I have no needs.” Truthfully, you have plenty of needs; it’s just that you suppress them. Why? Probably because you are trying to avoid a repeat of past disappointments when some of your needs were not met. Inevitably, you end up more needy than most, but you cover it up by being strong, being a giver, being cool, being independent, being cynical, being busy and being dishonest with yourself.

Letting Go Exercise: When you let go of your dysfunctional independence, you feel so much more alive, open and abundant. You also discover that asking for what you want is a chance for others to connect with you, to know you and to love you. Being willing to forgive and let go of old wounds helps you to move out of separation and unhealthy sacrifice. Now, instead of expecting people to read your mind and know what you need or want, you can actually tell them. Doing this feels emotionally risky, but it’s a risk that’s worth taking. Now you’re ready for a real relationship.

6. I find it difficult to receive fully from others. “I hate birthdays,” said Phil, a 38-year-old doctor from London. “All birthdays?” I asked. “God no! I love other people’s birthdays,” Phil said. “You hate your own birthday,” I said. “I don’t like the attention, and I don’t like being given presents,” Phil said. “I love presents,” I said, being a bit provocative. “When someone gives me something I feel like I owe them, and I can’t relax until I’ve paid them off,” Phil said. Unhealthy sacrifice promotes a kind of giving that blocks receiving. There are usually two underlying dynamics at work. The first dynamic is unworthiness. Your self-worth creates a personal allowance that judges how much you will let yourself receive from others. With especially low self-worth, receiving from others leaves you feeling indebted, obligated, owing and duty-bound to give back. The second dynamic is pride. And hidden beneath pride is competitiveness, superiority, egotism and other murky feelings. According to pride, to receive is unnecessary and to receive is to fail.

Letting Go Exercise: In my book Shift Happens!, I wrote a chapter saying there are no shortages, only a lack of willingness to receive. Being willing to receive starts with letting go of your fear of receiving. Complete the following statement 10 times: “One of my fears of receiving is…” After you have finished, look at each fear and discern for yourself if the fear is really true or if it is just a fear. At least 90 percent of fears are just fears that dissolve the moment you give them some attention. Next, make a decision to be a great receiver. Really! Make this your new affirmation: “I am becoming a great receiver.”

7. I say yes when I really mean no. “I drank too much coffee this morning,” said Julia, a 40-year-old media executive, holding her hand over her heart. “Why did you do that?” I asked. “I ordered a small coffee, and they gave me a large coffee.” “Tell me more,” I said. “The barista recognized her mistake when she handed me the coffee. She said to me, ‘This is a large one, but you ordered a small one, right?’ I said yes, and she said, ‘Are you okay with that?’ And I said yes.” “But really you meant no,” I said. “In my language, yes means yes, and it can also mean no,” Julia said. “And then you drank all of the coffee,” I said. “Yes,” Julia said. Unhealthy sacrifice is inauthentic. It means you are not really being true to yourself. When you are not true to yourself, you get confused about what is real and unreal, what is important and not and what is a yes and what is a no. This lack of clarity in you creates pain and conflict in your relationships and your work. People don’t know where they stand with you. You give out mixed messages. You are ambivalent. You try not to make decisions. You procrastinate. No one knows what you really feel or what you really want.

Letting Go Exercise: The desire to be more authentic, and to be more real with yourself and others, will help you to give up unhealthy sacrifice. One way to do this is to focus on the word “yes.” Get out a pen and a blank piece of paper and write down on the top of the page: “My Sacred Yes.” Now list everything that is a sacred yes for you, for your life, for your work and then for one important relationship (you can do it with other relationships later). The clearer you are about a sacred yes, the easier it will be to say yes when you mean yes and no when you mean no.

8. I’m exhausted. “Hi, Robert. Sorry, but I can’t make our session this afternoon. I’m too tired to get out of bed. I’m too tired to drive anywhere. I’m too tired to do anything. I’m taking a duvet day.” That is a message left by my client Tina, a 41-year-old senior personnel manager. Exhaustion forces you to stop, and above all it wants you to stop being in unhealthy sacrifice. Unhealthy sacrifice is exhausting: you lose touch with your original energy; you override your real feelings; you don’t listen to your wisdom; and you end up feeling out of sync with yourself. More symptoms of unhealthy sacrifice include scattering yourself, wasting your energy, chronic busyness, overcrowding your schedule, feeling overstretched and overcommitting yourself. The last thing you want to do is let people down, but that is exactly what eventually happens.

Letting Go Exercise: Exhaustion is a sure sign that you are in sacrifice somewhere in your life. Exhaustion is an internal memo that is asking you to stop trying to do everything, for everyone, all the time. Exhaustion is telling you that you have to sacrifice what isn’t important for what is. One of my favorite mantras is: “You can always do one thing less than you think you can.” Yes, you’ll probably feel a bit guilty about doing less, but the guilt will wear off fast if you hold your nerve. Be wise, be courageous, remember your sacred yes” and prioritize accordingly.

9. I find it difficult to put myself first. Sian is a 42-year-old mother of two children under the age of 5 and also the vice president of a well-known global healthcare brand. She came to see me after her doctor had prescribed her antidepressants. Sian disagreed with her diagnosis. “I’m not depressed; I’m exhausted,” she said. Sian told me about the challenges of her role at work combined with raising a young family. “I have no time for me,” Sian said. “The only way I can get my haircut is to book a group appointment with my kids’ hairdresser.” My first task as Sian’s coach was clear: to help Sian get a proper haircut! Unhealthy sacrifice forces you to leave yourself out of your own life. You think something is missing in your life, and it is. What is missing is you. The real you. Every day you fill out your to-do list, and you are nowhere to be found on your own list. You make no space for you, no provision for you and no time for you. Be clear that this is you doing this to yourself. When you catch yourself saying, “I never have time to do what I want to do,” what you are really saying is, “I don’t take time for my needs.” In truth, you are depriving yourself. Therefore, you are the solution.

Letting Go Exercise: “If I had but two loaves of bread, I would sell one and buy hyacinths, for they would feed my soul,” said Prophet Muhammad. To heal unhealthy sacrifice, you have to be willing to let go of the habit of depriving yourself. Take a pen and paper and answer the following questions: “What feeds me?” “What inspires me?” and “What do I love?” Next, make a commitment to stop neglecting yourself and to treat yourself better. Everyone will benefit from you doing this. Life always gets better when you treat yourself better.

10. I feel happy and fulfilled in my life. I had been coaching Emma, a 38-year-old lawyer, for nine months when she was offered a promotion to the board of her firm. This was the first time in the long history of this firm that a woman had been offered such a position. “I’m so happy, but I’ve decided not to accept,” Emma told me. When I asked her why not, she told me, “I’m afraid the position will demand too much self-sacrifice.” I agreed with her. And I told her that, “So long as it’s healthy sacrifice rather than unhealthy sacrifice, you have nothing to fear.” The next level of success and happiness in your life, your work and your relationships does require sacrifice. Specifically, it requires you to sacrifice unhealthy sacrifice. In other words, you have to learn the difference between giving yourself away and giving more of yourself. You give yourself away when you are not true to yourself, when you play a role, when you don’t ask for what you want, when you don’t prioritize properly and when you deprive yourself, for example. Remember: Whatever you try to achieve with unhealthy sacrifice can be achieved without it.

Letting Go Exercise: Success and happiness require you to let go of your unworthiness, to let go of your wounds, to let go of your defenses, to let go of your story and to let go of your ego. The more you let go, the more you inhabit your authentic, unconditioned self again. And now you are more present, more connected, more open and more able to give yourself without giving yourself away. The more grounded and centered you are in the truth of who you are, the better you understand that to give yourself simply means to be yourself, and in “being” there is never any loss.

Boundaries 101

 

Modified from the book
Boundaries: Where You End and I Begin
by Anne Katherine

 

 

• When you identify the need to set a boundary, do it clearly, calmly, firmly, respectfully, and in as few words as possible. Do not justify, get angry, or apologize for the boundary you are setting.

 • You are not responsible for the other person’s reaction to the boundary you are setting. You are only responsible for clearly and respectfully communicating your boundary. If it upset the other person, be confident knowing it is not your problem. Some people, especially those accustomed to controlling, abusing, or manipulating you, might test you. Plan on it, expect it, but remain firm. Remember, your behavior must match the boundaries you are setting. You cannot successfully establish a clear boundary if you send mixed messages by apologizing.

• At first, you will probably feel selfish, guilty, or embarrassed when you set a boundary. Do it anyway and tell yourself you have a right to protect yourself. Setting boundaries takes practice and determination. Don’t let anxiety or low self-esteem prevent you from taking care of yourself.

 


• When you feel anger or resentment or find yourself whining or complaining, you probably need to set a boundary. Listen to yourself, determine what you need to do or say, then communicate assertively.

• Learning to set healthy boundaries takes time. It is a process. Set them in your own time frame, not when someone else tells you.

 

• Develop a support system of people who respect your right to set boundaries. Eliminate toxic people from your life—those who want to manipulate, abuse, and control you.

Establishing healthy boundaries and enforcing them builds self-worth and confidence—all very healthy, very inviting, very attractive, very sexy qualities.

I hope you take the time this week to put into practice some of the above ideas. Please share any insight, and even struggles, so we can support each other.

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