Does Self-Help, Help?

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Who among us has not been on some type of self-help journey at one point or another? Who among us bemoans the fact we’re not experiencing inner peace, balance or harmony in our lives – or that we can’t seem to bring about the change and transformation we’re seeking?

Why self-help doesn’t help.
Many of us will be familiar with the nagging feeling which says, “Heck, the more I read, attend lectures, seminars and workshops, meditate and chant, pray and say affirmations, the less I seem to be getting anywhere.”? What’s operating here?

The problem is that much of what is considered to be “self-help” doesn’t result in any real change or transformation. By transformation I mean the type of change that sees the “old you” die and a “new you” born. A “change” that means you’re not the person you used to be, that people you used to know wouldn’t recognize who you are now in some new or different way.

Positive thinking, affirmations, willpower, chants, praying, meditating and reading, etc.,  seldom leads to this sort of profound change. That’s because most of what passes for self-help goes no deeper than engaging your mind and, in this case, your spiritual ego. Real transformation requires a conscious connection with your higher self, not just your intellect – true transformation can’t be realized by thinking and doing alone. It requires work on a deeper level – a level you experience when engaging with your unconscious and with the darker forces within you.

Self-awareness is the key.
Self-awareness is the key building block of real change and transformation. Self-awareness – and a conscious understanding of who and how you are – forms the basis of becoming “conscious'”

Critically, becoming conscious is not about rationally exploring who you are. Rather, it’s about “not knowing” who you are. It’s about turning inward and exploring yourself from the deeper recesses and dimensions of your being, from the perspective of your unconscious self.

Paradoxically, self-awareness can only arise from an exploration of what you don’t know about yourself.

The truth is, you’re more often influenced by what you are unaware of (in yourself) than what you are aware of. True change and transformation cannot evolve from “playing it safe” – dealing only with the parts of yourself that you know, or feel safe or comfortable with.

Deeper questions lead to self-awareness.
Do you ever dream about people you dislike or with whom you have a contentious relationship? Do you ever wonder why you take an immediate dislike to someone you’ve never met? Do you ever think about rash judgments you make about people, places, events or circumstances? Do you ever wonder why people trigger your control, recognition or security buttons?

The “rational” person, of course, has all the answers and reasons why. But rather than trying explain these feelings by rationalizing them, if you begin to appreciate what’s operating in your unconscious you can start to understand why you are the way you are.

Often, engaging in this exploration, in this curiosity, will reveal the uncomfortable, fearful, resistant or angry parts of yourself that exist on an unconscious level – parts that need to be explored, and worked with, (not suppressed, repressed or denied) if you choose to truly change and transform.

Curiosity
For example, if you become curious about why you need to soothe your anxieties by shopping, eating, drinking or controlling, you may discover that part of you is an insecure child within who feels abandoned, lost or ignored and is searching for safety and security in materialism.

Rationally, many will agree (based on the “self-help” stuff they’ve read or heard), that materialism represents “comfort food” when deeper love, appreciation, or acknowledgement is lacking. But many of these same folks are reluctant to go deeper to explore “why?”. They can’t or won’t tolerate exploring the unconscious addictions that drive them to behave in ways that bring them a false sense of comfort or ways that help them avoid or deny their feelings.

It’s all about the truth
Real self-help is not about dancing around the truth of who you are – with all your fears and the discordant music playing within. It’s about trusting your Innate Intelligence to deal with what’s really “up” with you. That means being open to, aware of and reflective about your subconscious self when your behaviors, thoughts, words and emotions are triggered in your daily life.

When you approach your life with curiosity, without judgment, and welcome the truth of your unconscious, you embark on the journey to wholeness and begin to discover who you are in the greater context of healing yourself. This is the real self-help journey of change and transformation.

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • Do you consider yourself a “self-help junkie?” If so, how is this working for you? Are you behaving differently? What would those around you say? Honestly.
  • Do you explore your emotions and your darker side? If not, why not?
  • To whom or what are you strongly attracted? What aspects of your subconscious might account for this?
  • Do you feel a strong prejudices or hatred towards someone or something? How so? Why do you think this is happening?
  • Do you ever explore your dreams?
  • Is your experience with self-help more about gathering “information” than authentic, deeper behavior change?
  • How much time and money do you spend on “self-help” a year? Is there a real return on your investment, over and above simply knowing more stuff? Are you honestly be-ing different?
  • How often do you engage in deep self-reflection (not thinking), exploring not “the way I am” but “why am I the way I am?”

(c) 2021, Peter G. Vajda, Ph.D. and True North Partnering. All rights in all media reserved.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to share this reading with you and I hope you find it insightful and useful.
Perhaps you’ll share this with others, post it on a bulletin board, and use it to generate rich and rewarding discussion.

What is the one thing that is keeping you from feeling successful, happy, confident, in control or at peace as you live your life – at work, at home, at play or in relationship? Maybe you know what that “thing” is…maybe you don’t. You just have a feeling that something has to change, whether or not you embrace that change. And how would that change support you to show up as a “better you?”

I’m available to guide you to create relationships that reflect honesty, integrity, authenticity, trust, and respect whether at work or outside of work. I support you to focus on the interpersonal skills that enable you to relate to others with a high level of personal and professional satisfaction – unhampered by personal inconsistencies, beliefs, “stories,” and behaviors that create barriers to a harmonious, pleasant, conscious, compatible, healthy and productive relationship.

I coach by phone, Skype and in person. For more information, 770-804-9125, www.truenorthpartnering.com or pvajda(at)truenorthpartnering.com

You can also follow me on Twitter: @petergvajda.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TrueNorthPartnering

Intention +Attention – The Secret Sauce of Effective Relationships

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Just launched – three exciting new products

“So when you are listening to somebody, completely, attentively, then you are listening not only to the words, but also to the feeling of what is being conveyed, to the whole of it, not part of it.” – Krishnamurti 

So here you are in the midst of an interaction – perhaps on the phone, on Zoom, at the water cooler, on the elevator, golf course or airplane and during any lulls in the interactions (of a second or more) you’ve been checking emails, text messaging, talking intermittently on your cell or been “otherwise engaged” with someone or something else. When the whole thing’s over, you realize, with some sense of either regret, surprise or embarrassment, you hadn’t been focusing very well. 

The pity is that, truth be told, you may likely have no complete recall of the specifics of much of what you were doing or saying during that time – details about the who, what, where, when or why. 

So, what’s happening here?

Most folks would say they’re multitasking – you know, “staying on top of things,” and the like. But if you drilled down, deep down, many of these folks, if they’re being honest and sincere, would say they “abhor a vacuum” –  that, for them, silence (even of a second, or more) is deafening, uncomfortable. Further, if pressed, many (most?) would say that in times of silence, they often turn to negative thoughts. So, they choose to keep their minds occupied – engaged in anything that will fill the void. How about you?

Consider:

Do you engage in other activities while eating, watching TV, responding to emails, talking on the phone, connecting on Zoom, etc.? If so, why? Once you come up with your usual “stock” answers, then ask yourself, “really, really, really, why?”

Contrary to what many folks believe (a belief or story that justifies their so-called multitasking behavior?), neuroscience research tells us that the pleasure center in our brains lights up when we’re fully and completely engaged in a single activity – when we’re focused used on one task. The research suggests that intention and attention (both, not either/or), when focused like a laser, are what lead us to experience fulfillment, satisfaction and pleasure – whether it be a water cooler conversation, walking the dog, cooking a meal, folding the laundry, preparing the budget or watching “the game.” 

If you’ve ever experienced a great teacher, counselor, coach, clergy person, health care professional, therapist and the like (what about your spouse/partner?), the reason you called them “great” is most likely because they treated you as the most important person in the world when you were in their presence. Their intention and attention were squarely devoted to – you. 

Dare to be great!

So, if in your own world, you want to be “great!” at relationships, invest your intention and attention on the person in your presence – even if you’re in a group – one person at a time, regarding theme as if they’re the most important person in your life in this moment.

Oh, and one more thing – that “silence” issue

The next time you experience a “lull’ in what you’re doing, don’t jump for the next gadget, activity or distraction to “save you from yourself.” Take a slow, deep, quiet and nurturing breath (or two, or three or four) into your belly and listen to your intuitive voice and inner wisdom. It’s there, below the mental hubbub going on in your mind.  

The more you take time to experience stillness and to direct your intention and attention inside, you can move below the inner din and negative thoughts and stories to a place of peace, contentment, equanimity, wisdom and well-being – the core of your essential and true self.  

You might find the quality of your relationships moving to a higher level – even your relationship with yourself.

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • Are you generally “otherwise engaged” when you’re interacting with others? What story do you tell yourself to justify dividing your attention?
  • Do you ever get upset when someone is “otherwise engaged” when you’re trying to have a conversation with them?
  • Are you easily distracted? Is it hard for you to remain focused for periods at a time? Honestly.
  • When you were growing up, did you ever feel you were being an “irritant” to your parents or primary caregivers because they did not give you their undivided attention when you wanted or needed it? How did that make you feel?
  • Do you know folks who make you feel you’re the most important person in their life when you’re speaking with them? Do you ever make an effort to treat others that way?
  • How well do you deal with silence? On a scale of 1-10, how comfortable do you feel with silence? How so?

True story: some while back my partner at the time just walked in from a lunch date with a friend. In the course of our “So, how was it?” conversation, I asked her if the restaurant were crowded. She replied, “You know what, I was so focused on (friend) I didn’t even notice.” Intention and attention.

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(c) 2021, Peter G. Vajda, Ph.D. and True North Partnering. All rights in all media reserved.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to share this reading with you and I hope you find it insightful and useful.
Perhaps you’ll share this with others, post it on a bulletin board, and use it to generate rich and rewarding discussion.

What is the one thing that is keeping you from feeling successful, happy, confident, in control or at peace as you live your life – at work, at home, at play or in relationship? Maybe you know what that “thing” is…maybe you don’t. You just have a feeling that something has to change, whether or not you embrace that change. And how would that change support you to show up as a “better you?”

I’m available to guide you to create relationships that reflect honesty, integrity, authenticity, trust, and respect whether at work or outside of work. I support you to focus on the interpersonal skills that enable you to relate to others with a high level of personal and professional satisfaction – unhampered by personal inconsistencies, beliefs, “stories,” and behaviors that create barriers to a harmonious, pleasant, conscious, compatible, healthy and productive relationship.

I coach by phone, Skype and in person. For more information, 770-804-9125, www.truenorthpartnering.com or pvajda(at)truenorthpartnering.com
You can also follow me on Twitter: @petergvajda. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TrueNorthPartnering

Author, heal thyself.

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Just launched – three exciting new products

Other people’s behavior – be it that of a mainstream personality, an actor, politician, sports star or corporate executive, or that of someone in our personal circle – is always crossing our radar.

When this happens, many of us are quick to react with a judgment – a knee-jerk judgment that reflects our need to tell that person that not only are they bad or wrong, but also how they should or shouldn’t be behaving. Not only do we critique their values, beliefs, choices and behaviors, but we try to create for them the type of life they should be leading, according to “me”.

Most of us who try to author someone else’s life in this way find it almost impossible to observe others without reacting with observations that are replete with judgments, criticisms, evaluations or other forms of analysis. What’s more, once we have finished judging, we try to take the role of advisor, educator, parent, interferer, explainer, hypothesizer, or fixer.

Author, heal thyself
So what is it about people who seem to need to run other peoples’ lives? What is it about people who seem to want to “help” others, but can’t seem to get a handle on their own life or issues? What is it about people who aren’t happy unless they’re authoring someone else’s life?

In a word – control. Most of these folks are to some degree out of control in their own lives and so they gain a false sense of grounding and control by attempting to run others’ lives. Meddling is their fix.

Lacking close scrutiny
On 30th Street in Boulder, CO, you’ll find a sculpture of a man chiselling himself out of a block of stone. He has already carved his head, torso, arms, and thighs. Holding a hammer in his raised right hand, he’s ready to strike a chisel he grasps in his left hand. He is forming his right knee.

Most authors of others’ lives have yet to chisel their own sculpture. Feeling unsafe, insecure, fearful, overwhelmed, lost or confused, their block of granite is incomplete. And to feel some sense of value and worth, they choose to chisel another’s sculpture.

Authoring someone else’s sculpture brings a fake and phony sense of individuality, self-actualization and self-determination. The opposite is the truth. Authors of others’ lives are seldom self-made individuals. They lack self-direction and autonomy, rarely assume self-responsibility for their actions and are poor at self-management.

These authors are often withering on the vine of life, rather than growing and moving forward. Rather than being continuous learners or continual creators of their own life, they take a false sense of pleasure in attempting to tell others how to live. They never take an honest self-inventory. They prefer to judge, evaluate and tell others how to deal with their struggles of life than to know themselves.

Self-authorship
For those who are steeped in authoring others’ lives, perhaps this might be a good time to step back, leave those others alone and focus on your own self-authorship – to chisel your own sculpture.

While chiselling, consider what conscious choices you can make to enhance your personal, professional, relational, and spiritual life. Will your sculpture reflect an honest, sincere and self-responsible effort to take care of your mental, physical, emotional, psychological  and spiritual health? Will it address your financial and career health, your living environment, your relationship with your partner, friends and family, colleagues and co-workers?

Will your sculpture reflect your core values, integrity, trustworthiness and authenticity? When people come by to view your sculpture, what is the legacy they’ll see? Will it reflect a finely thought-out, creative, resonating figure, or will it be whole, flat, and untouched because you were too busy obsessed with telling other folks how to chisel their granite blocks?

Finally, remember that everyone is in chapter three of their life. Try as hard as you might, you’ll never – ever – know what transpired in another’s chapter one or two. So attempting to author their life without a grasp of those first two chapters, will never work – for you or for them – hard as you try.

That’s a good reason to close the book on other peoples’ lives and author the book, the unfolding, of your own life.

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • Do you tend to “author” others’ lives? Are you continually judging others? How so?
  • Do you feel a need to meddle in others’ lives? If so, where does that get you?
  • Is self-reflection a challenge for you? If so, why? He honest.
  • Would you prefer to evaluate other’s lives rather than your own? If so, why?
  • What one step can you take this week to chisel one small piece of your block?
  • Are you a continuous learner, a “work in progress?”
  • Has your chisel dulled? What can you do to re-sharpen it? Do you have the strength to lift your hammer?
  • Have you stopped chiseling?
  • The ultimate purpose question: Why do you think you’re on the planet?

—————————————————–
(c) 2021, Peter G. Vajda, Ph.D. and True North Partnering. All rights in all media reserved.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to share this reading with you and I hope you find it insightful and useful.
Perhaps you’ll share this with others, post it on a bulletin board, and use it to generate rich and rewarding discussion.

What is the one thing that is keeping you from feeling successful, happy, confident, in control or at peace as you live your life – at work, at home, at play or in relationship? Maybe you know what that “thing” is…maybe you don’t. You just have a feeling that something has to change, whether or not you embrace that change. And how would that change support you to show up as a “better you?”

I’m available to guide you to create relationships that reflect honesty, integrity, authenticity, trust, and respect whether at work or outside of work. I support you to focus on the interpersonal skills that enable you to relate to others with a high level of personal and professional satisfaction – unhampered by personal inconsistencies, beliefs, “stories,” and behaviors that create barriers to a harmonious, pleasant, conscious, compatible, healthy and productive relationship.

I coach by phone, Skype and in person. For more information, 770-804-9125, www.truenorthpartnering.com or pvajda(at)truenorthpartnering.com


You can also follow me on Twitter: @petergvajda.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TrueNorthPartnering

Big Fish, Little Pond

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Just launched – three exciting new products

Big Fish, Little Pond.
https://youtu.be/-ZVqhBZC7sU

————————————–
(c) 2021, Peter G. Vajda, Ph.D. and True North Partnering. All rights in all media reserved.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to share this reading with you and I hope you find it insightful and useful.
Perhaps you’ll share this with others, post it on a bulletin board, and use it to generate rich and rewarding discussion.

What is the one thing that is keeping you from feeling successful, happy, confident, in control or at peace as you live your life – at work, at home, at play or in relationship? Maybe you know what that “thing” is…maybe you don’t. You just have a feeling that something has to change, whether or not you embrace that change. And how would that change support you to show up as a “better you?”

I’m available to guide you to create relationships that reflect honesty, integrity, authenticity, trust, and respect whether at work or outside of work. I support you to focus on the interpersonal skills that enable you to relate to others with a high level of personal and professional satisfaction – unhampered by personal inconsistencies, beliefs, “stories,” and behaviors that create barriers to a harmonious, pleasant, conscious, compatible, healthy and productive relationship.

I coach by phone, Skype and in person. For more information, 770-804-9125, www.truenorthpartnering.com or pvajda(at)truenorthpartnering.com

You can also follow me on Twitter: @petergvajda.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TrueNorthPartnering

Emotional Intelligence or Emotional Maturity?

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Just launched – three exciting new products

It’s now widely acknowledged that Emotional Intelligence (EI) is a key skill for managers and business leaders and that getting in touch with your emotions and managing them when interacting with others plays a major part in managerial effectiveness.

But despite this awareness, old habits still die hard. Even when an individual has worked to improve their In other words, they may have learned the concepts of EI at an intellectual, cognitive level, but they still find it hard to manage their emotions or emotional reactivity and quickly revert to old, self-destructive emotional habits and reactive patterns when certain triggers are pulled.

So why is EI so hard to embrace in our day-to-day lives?

One reason is that many people who worked on their EI have (consciously or unconsciously) failed to deal with the root causes of their emotional reactivity. They haven’t explored the deeper nature of their emotional history. This history of their emotional evolution is a prerequisite to understanding how they “futurize their past” – i.e., how they interpret the present based on their history, experiences and memories.

Without this understanding, it’s often very challenging to separate our present from our past – “that was then; this is now.” So we’re not able to see the present – people, places, events, circumstance and objects – as “fresh” and unencumbered by our past emotional history. We’re unable to experience the present in a positive, neutral way and so we experience many of life’s events shrouded in a mist of negativity, judgment and fear.

In other words, very few of us actually “process” our emotions. Few of us allow our emotions to just be – watching, witnessing and observing them and asking, “What are you teaching me, about me?”.

Finally, many of us choose to bury our emotions. And we ought to know that when we bury our emotions, we bury them alive. They will return to rear their ugly heads, sooner or later.

Emotional maturity
So instead of focusing on emotional intelligence, perhaps we would be better served by focusing on emotional maturity.

The difference between the two is important. Emotional maturity is not “intellectual” but refers to a higher state of self-awareness – something that lies beyond “intelligence” – where we are guided by our senses, intuition and heart.

Emotional maturity is characterized by five principles:

  1. Every negative emotion we experience as an adult is a childhood emotion overlaid on a current person, circumstance, place, event or object.
  2. Emotionally, many adults are 3-4-5-year-old children in adult bodies wearing adult clothes.
  3. No one can make you feel a way you don’t want to feel.
  4. An adult can be emotionally mature and child-like, or immature and child-ish. Big difference.
  5. Mindfulness, focus and presence are the keys to emotional maturity

Emotional maturity focuses on our emotional history, beginning with our interactions with our parents or primary caregivers, extended family, teachers, friends, etc. We learn that around the age of seven, our psychological and emotional “programming” is set. Our emotional reactivity (anger, sadness, fear, shame, hurt, guilt, loneliness, etc.) that was triggered early on in life becomes stored in our cells and arises when “related” triggers pop up later in life.

Emotionally intelligent, but emotionally immature
Being emotionally mature means we seldom act out on, or suppress, our emotions.

Emotionally intelligent, but “immature,” adults are often unable to identify or manage their emotions. They usually avoid their emotions by intellectualizing, explaining, analyzing, disagreeing, attacking, flattering, joking, apologizing, evading, going silent, becoming aloof or suspicious, rejecting, criticizing or judging. They often come across as superior, arrogant, stubborn, defiant, hostile, people-pleasing, wishy-washy, phony, resentful, intolerant, self-pitying or victimized.

Because they haven’t explored their emotional development, many folks aren’t aware that they superimpose their childhood emotions on to their adult life. Their past is leaking out in the present.

In contrast, the emotionally mature adult understands that “my emotions are not me, but mine – I’m in control, not my emotions.” So they are more objective are less judgmental. They are better able to detach themselves from triggers that would normally provoke an emotional reaction. They experience states of equanimity, serenity and inner peace. Blaming others is no longer a strategy they use to make themselves feel safe.

That’s not to say that an emotionally mature individual isn’t chid-like. In fact, they are often lively, excited, adventurous, joyful, happy and open. But they are also nurturing, supportive, firm, fair, helpful, respectful, self-responsible, non-judgmental, honest, sincere and focused on the well-being of themselves and others.

The emotionally immature adult, however, is often childish, rather than child-like. They are reactive and throw tantrums. They are fearful, scared, needy, angry, resentful, pushy, bullying, jealous or envious. They can be quiet, withdrawn, defensive, argumentative or grandiose. They can come across as overbearing, micromanaging, controlling, disrespectful, fearful, angry, negative, judgmental, critical, abusive (mentally, emotionally, psychologically, physically), dishonest, insincere, narcissistic and focused on the self and the ego.

The most visible quality of emotional maturity is the capacity to be in the moment, to be present while being non-reactive or non-judgmental.

This “being present” supports our true and authentic self to guide us. We intuit “right knowing,” “right understanding” and “right action”. We experience our emotions without “becoming” our emotions. We grasp that the “trigger” for our reactivity may be “outside me,” but the “cause” of my emotional reactivity is within me.

So when we’re triggered, we watch, witness and observe but don’t succumb to a childish reaction. We accept our experience as it is. Practicing mindfulness, presence, focus, trust and surrender, we allow our heart and soul to push aside negativity or reactivity and bring what is needed – a considered, emotionally mature response.

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • Do you ever feel you need to change the way you respond/react emotionally to others? How so?
  • How do you feel when others challenge or disagree with you, or give you feedback?
  • Do you ever find yourself feeling fearful, angry or anxious? Do you know why?
  • Do you ever feel afraid about exploring your emotions? Why?
  • Do you consider yourself to be emotionally mature? What would others say? Would you ask them?
  • How did you learn about emotions when you were growing up?
  • Do you take responsibility for your emotional reactivity? Do you tend to blame others far making you feel a way you don’t want to feel? How so?
  • Do you know the difference between “feeling sad,” and not being sad, between “feeling angry” but not being angry,” between “feeling fear,” and not being afraid?

—————————————————–
(c) 2021, Peter G. Vajda, Ph.D. and True North Partnering. All rights in all media reserved.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to share this reading with you and I hope you find it insightful and useful.
Perhaps you’ll share this with others, post it on a bulletin board, and use it to generate rich and rewarding discussion.

What is the one thing that is keeping you from feeling successful, happy, confident, in control or at peace as you live your life – at work, at home, at play or in relationship? Maybe you know what that “thing” is…maybe you don’t. You just have a feeling that something has to change, whether or not you embrace that change. And how would that change support you to show up as a “better you?”

I’m available to guide you to create relationships that reflect honesty, integrity, authenticity, trust, and respect whether at work or outside of work. I support you to focus on the interpersonal skills that enable you to relate to others with a high level of personal and professional satisfaction – unhampered by personal inconsistencies, beliefs, “stories,” and behaviors that create barriers to a harmonious, pleasant, conscious, compatible, healthy and productive relationship.

I coach by phone, Skype and in person. For more information, 770-804-9125, www.truenorthpartnering.com or pvajda(at)truenorthpartnering.com


You can also follow me on Twitter: @petergvajda.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TrueNorthPartnering

Collusion, Culture and Bad Management

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Just launched – three exciting new products

In my understanding of human behavior, there are only two reasons (but lots of excuses) why managers behave unethically or inappropriately. Either they are unable to behave ethically or appropriately, or they are unwilling to do so.

The antidote for number one?
Provide requisite, specific knowledge and hands-on experiential training. Then follow-up in both the short- and long-term to check that the message has gotten through and that appropriate behavior is now “business as usual” – and if it isn’t, ensure there are consequences for bad behavior..

The antidote for number two?
Well, that’s a bit more complicated. When someone has the requisite knowledge and skills but still decides to ignore them, what’s going on?

One possibility is the individual has chosen to behave otherwise because they fear that behaving ethically or appropriately will result in some personal loss – be it loss of friendships, loss or prestige, loss of a bonus, loss of control, loss of recognition or loss of security (mental, physical, emotional or psychological).

It’s not unusual for a manager to behave unethically or inappropriately of their own accord when driven, consciously or unconsciously, by these sorts of fears.

Another possibility is that a manager may choose to behave unethically or inappropriately because there is a tacit “unwritten rule” that such behavior is acceptable. This tacit agreement is known as collusion and often exists where there is a culture or subculture of collusion.

Collusion takes hold when two (or more) individuals co-opt their values and ethics to support their own – and/or others’  mis-deeds. Allowing another’s collusion, by omission or commission, is a mis-deed! Think enabler.

When colluding or enabling collusion, we allow ourselves and others to engage in unethical or inappropriate (not to mention potentially self-destructive) behaviors in order to gain acceptance, approval, recognition or security and to feel emotionally and psychologically safe.

Collusion is saying (but not out loud), “I’m going to let you behave the way you want or need to, so I can feel good about our relationship even though I know my behavior and your behavior are unethical, inappropriate, self-destructive, and out of integrity.”

Collusion is behavior we commonly associate with “fraud.” Workplace collusion is fraudulent as one is living a lie and supporting another to live his or her lie. Colluding is “fraud” on a deeper level as it relates to who we are and how we conduct our relationships with others. Think integrity.

What Does Collusion Look Like?
In the everyday working world, there are various flavors of collusion. General expressions or behaviors that reflect collusion are: “giving to get,” “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours,” “going along to get along” and “one hand washing the other.”

We collude when we support and pledge allegiance to an unethical or incompetent leader, manager, supervisor, direct report or co-worker so we both can feel emotionally safe with each other. If I collude, the other(s) will appreciate my support and feel seen and I’ll experience his/her appreciation, which allows me to feel seen and accepted or be “OK” in some way in this unethical and inappropriate (dysfunctional or co-dependent) relationship.

We collude when we share insider information with only a select few so we’ll be viewed as caring about them and they will feel they’re special. When we collude with them, we feel in control, and secure; they feel acknowledged that we chose them. We are being duplicitous, self-deceptive and inappropriate in our actions of giving and receiving. Think narcissist or hypocrite.

We collude when we verbally gang up on a third party through bullying, sarcasm, or gossiping, experiencing a false sense of connection and camaraderie with our co-colluder at the expense of the third party.

We collude when we withhold honest and forthright comments about inappropriate behavior in a feedback session for fear of alienating another whose work we respect. By resisting the truth, and perpetuating another’s false belief that their behavior is acceptable, we “play the game” of mutual respect while perpetuating our phony relationship of mutual “like.”

Why Do We Collude?
Collusion is about lying to protect our oft-fragile egos instead of showing up in integrity. The curiosity is why we collude.

We all experience a degree of deficiency – some more, some less. We all sense we are not “enough” or are lacking in some way. It’s the human condition. However, we have two options in dealing with our sense of lack or deficiency:

1. We can choose to “work” on our colluding to understand it and our underlying motives for colluding, and take conscious steps to effectively reduce and eliminate it so we can show up authentically, in integrity, sincerely and self-responsibly. Or,

2. We can deceive ourselves and ignore, deny, and resist telling the truth, hoping to keep our relationship with our self and with others emotionally intact. We ignore “the elephants in the room,” wearing blinders to what needs to be done, said, heard, felt and seen – hoping that denial will “keep the emotional peace” and perpetuate the co-dependent or dysfunctional relationship.

The Basic Problem with Collusion
Collusion is a progressive drug. We need to lie and collude more and more to maintain the false feeling of emotional safety. When we collude, we are ever “vigilant,” fearful with whether we will be “found out.” We are constantly worried and concerned whether our co-colluder(s) will have a “conversion,” fearing we’ll be “outed.”

So colluding is exhausting, requiring an inordinate amount of physical, emotional and psychic energy, continually shoring up relationships that have no true foundation built on trust or truth.

The Antidote for Collusion
Colluding is corrosive to one’s head, heart and soul. The antidote is twofold: to seek understanding of the reasons (excuses) why we refuse to tell our self and others the truth, and then set our intention to tell the truth when often we would rather resist.

Truth-telling requires empathy, compassion, acceptance and courage. Behaving appropriately is freeing – emotionally, physically, spiritually and psychologically. Behaving ethically and appropriately allows us to show up authentically, honestly and in integrity. Behaving ethically and appropriately is the only way to experience true and real relationships with others.

From a workplace research perspective, meaning, happiness, and true friendship most often appear as the top responses to the research question, “What’s really important to you at work?”

University of Virginia, Darden School of Business professor Mary C. Gentile, in “Giving Voice to Values: How to Speak Your Mind When You Know What’s Right,” says: “One of the most powerful lenses through which to view values in the workplace – and one of the most powerful sources of the strength and confidence to act on those values – is the lens of self knowledge. A knowledge of oneself allows the crafting and embracing of a desired self-image. Managers at all levels in their firms report that a significant enabler of values-based action is the clarity, commitment and courage that is born of acting from our true center, finding alignment between who we already are and what we say and do.”

Think internal coherence and integrity. Most folks say they want to experience “meaning” in their work, to behave appropriately and ethically, and align their life at work in the direction of “True North.” Yet, many of these same folks find themselves conflicted every day – their values, ideals and expectations up against those of the organization.

Simple, but not easy – you can’t collude and expect to find real meaning, real happiness and real relationships at work. Thinking you can is the epitome of collusion and self-deception.

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • What keeps you from telling the truth at work? Are you afraid to tell the truth? How so?
  • Do you collude? If so, in what ways? What does colluding get you?
  • Do you find yourself lying and being phony to maintain specific relationships?
  • Do others collude with you, not tell you what they think you need to hear, for fear of how you might react?
  • How do you feel in the moment when you know you’re colluding?
  • What’s “right” about colluding? What does colluding get you? Is there another way to get that result without colluding?
  • When and how were you first introduced to the notion of colluding? How old were you? What was going on? How did you feel about that experience?

—————————————————–
(c) 2021, Peter G. Vajda, Ph.D. and True North Partnering. All rights in all media reserved.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to share this reading with you and I hope you find it insightful and useful.
Perhaps you’ll share this with others, post it on a bulletin board, and use it to generate rich and rewarding discussion.

What is the one thing that is keeping you from feeling successful, happy, confident, in control or at peace as you live your life – at work, at home, at play or in relationship? Maybe you know what that “thing” is…maybe you don’t. You just have a feeling that something has to change, whether or not you embrace that change. And how would that change support you to show up as a “better you?”

I’m available to guide you to create relationships that reflect honesty, integrity, authenticity, trust, and respect whether at work or outside of work. I support you to focus on the interpersonal skills that enable you to relate to others with a high level of personal and professional satisfaction – unhampered by personal inconsistencies, beliefs, “stories,” and behaviors that create barriers to a harmonious, pleasant, conscious, compatible, healthy and productive relationship.

I coach by phone, Skype and in person. For more information, 770-804-9125, www.truenorthpartnering.com or pvajda(at)truenorthpartnering.com

You can also follow me on Twitter: @petergvajda.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TrueNorthPartnering

Listening to fix

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How often do you fall into self-doubt, or into a place where you’re doubting others?

When someone relates to you an issue that’s challenging them, or problem they’re facing, how do you respond? Do you respond in a knee-jerk fashion that communicates, “The way forward lies in my advice?”.

When someone is experiencing painful feelings, how do you react? Do you robotically assume that the person will never be able to deal with their feelings successfully by themself? Do you assume that it’s not OK for this person to feel what they’re feeling?

When a person takes responsibility for forwarding the action of their life, what is your response? Do you ever feel that they’re not capable of taking responsibility, or moving forward? In other words, do you assume that it’s your responsibility to “save” that person, to keep them from failing?

And, with respect to yourself, how do you react when you encounter a problem, a challenge, a feeling or the thought that you need to assume responsibility for yourself?

Believing in self and others

The question here is, do I believe in myself and others? Do I allow others to have their power, capabilities, and capacities? Or, rather, do I give power and energy to the problem, the feeling or the irresponsibility?

It’s important for us to be aware, to be conscious and to be alert about how we respond both to ourselves and others. It’s important that we check ourselves out and learn to think before we respond. For example, “I’m sorry you’re experiencing (what you’re experiencing – the problem, the feeling…). I know you can find a solution that will serve you. It sounds like you’re experiencing some deep feelings. I believe you can work through them.”

Each of us is responsible for our own self. This does not mean that we ignore or dismiss others. It does not mean that we don’t care about others. What it does mean is that we care and love others, and support others and ourselves in ways that work.

Listening to fix

One behavior many of us are guilty of occurs when we hear of another’s challenge and we morph into a “listening to fix” syndrome. When this syndrome is activated, we might respond to another’s comment by saying, “Why don’t you (follow my suggestion, take my advice and the like)?” i.e., the need to prescribe to, or “fix” someone.

To believe in others, in their abilities and capacities to think, feel, and find solutions and take care of themselves is a gift we can give and receive.

The antidote – awareness

A first step toward becoming free of our “listening to fix” filter is to become aware of it. Many of us have a flavor of this “need to fix” listening filter. It may also be that we engage in this listening filter with certain people or in certain situations. For example, you might “listen to fix” with your spouse or partner, co-workers, direct reports, parents, friends, or neighbors, etc.

The moment you become aware that you’re listening through a filter during a conversation, your awareness expands beyond the filter. It’s like consciously removing the filter that covers your ears. You can then “hear” what other people are actually saying. As you “hear” what other people are saying, you can better relate to their experience and engage with another on a higher level of true and real connectivity. At work, for example, you might even “hear” another as a “person” rather than a “function.”

As your awareness expands beyond your “listening to fix” filter, you can also make new communication choices. For example, you might respond to “I’m feeling upset right now.” with, “I hear that you’re feeling upset. How are you experiencing that right now?” or “What’s that like for you?” or “Can you say more about that?” These kinds of filter-free communications can meet the other person’s experience and open the door for the conversation to evolve in new ways, rather than as a “fixer.”

So, be gentle with yourself and give yourself plenty of time to discover and work with this listening filter. Make it a game to notice this filter, love and appreciate yourself for having it and explore the ways you can shift out of it. If you’re like me, when you do this, you may experience true and real “hearing” for the first time.

Consider the following “fixing” filters and be curious if you use one or more of them in your conversations: (when/if you do, there is no way you can be truly and sincerely “present” with the other person):
“advising”: “I think you should…” “How come you didn’t?”
“educating”: “This could work out very well for you if you…”
“shutting down”: “Don’t worry about it; cheer up!”
“interrogating”: “Well, why did you…”
“explaining”: “What I would have done is…” (also “hijacking”)

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • Would your closest friends say you’re a good listener? How so?
  • Can you think of a recent conversation where your “listening to fix” filter was engaged? What was that like?
  • Do you know someone who listens to you without attempting to fix you? What is that like?
  • Can you remember some of your earliest childhood experiences with either wanting to fix someone or someone wanting to fix you? 
  • Did your parents or primary caregivers listen to you with a “listening to fix” filters How so?

—————————————————–
(c) 2021, Peter G. Vajda, Ph.D. and True North Partnering. All rights in all media reserved.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to share this reading with you and I hope you find it insightful and useful.
Perhaps you’ll share this with others, post it on a bulletin board, and use it to generate rich and rewarding discussion.

What is the one thing that is keeping you from feeling successful, happy, confident, in control or at peace as you live your life – at work, at home, at play or in relationship? Maybe you know what that “thing” is…maybe you don’t. You just have a feeling that something has to change, whether or not you embrace that change. And how would that change support you to show up as a “better you?”

I’m available to guide you to create relationships that reflect honesty, integrity, authenticity, trust, and respect whether at work or outside of work. I support you to focus on the interpersonal skills that enable you to relate to others with a high level of personal and professional satisfaction – unhampered by personal inconsistencies, beliefs, “stories,” and behaviors that create barriers to a harmonious, pleasant, conscious, compatible, healthy and productive relationship.

I coach by phone, Skype and in person. For more information, 770-804-9125, www.truenorthpartnering.com or pvajda(at)truenorthpartnering.com

You can also follow me on Twitter: @petergvajda.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TrueNorthPartnering

Between you and me…

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“An avoidance of true communication is tantamount to a relinquishment of my self-being; if I withdraw from it I am betraying not only the other but myself.”Karl Jaspers

I don’t get many cold calls these days. Today, I did. Two, in fact – about five minutes apart. What struck me, as do most of these calls, is the perfunctory, scripted, energetically flat, “How are you today?” immediately after the caller states their name and company.

Kiss of death

In my mind, those four words are the kiss of death. Why? The energy of, and between, the words usually communicates, to me (1) the question is really not about me, and (2) the caller is basically feigning interest and (probably) unconsciously jumping through a requisite hoop to get to the pitch, and, hopefully, to a sale. It’s all about them; not really about me. So, after a quick, albeit polite, “No, thanks.”I hang up.

So, let’s take a look at this dynamic from the perspective of how we meet and greet others at work, at home, at play and in relationship.

Do you care? Really care?

If you look back on your day today, or the past few days, or week, can you recall moments where you asked someone “How are things going?” or “What’s goin’ on?” or “How are you today?” Do you recall their response? And, more, can you recall actually stopping and listening, really listening to their response? Did you probe more deeply when someone responded with more than an “OK”? Were you actually interested? Did you feign interest? Were you respectful? Were you sorry you asked?

In our fast-paced interactive world, many of us have a tendency (often unconscious) to actually “diss” the person to whom we’re speaking – even while asking how they are. Unconsciously, we assume that our perfunctory “What’s up?” or “How’s it goin’?” falsely allows us to check off the “I acknowledged him/her” box on my “how to have positive relationships” check-sheet. For many of us, it’s actually an unconscious, knee-jerk question we ask and, truth be told, we could care less about how they are. I’m sure more than a few of us, when we’re greeted this way, have an internal response of “yeah, like they really care!”

Intersubjectivity

Between two people, or you and a team, or you and a group, even between you and your partner/spouse there’s space – physical space. Here, we’ll focus on the space between two individuals. This space between the two is not empty space. Actually, it’s filled with energy. What kind of energy? An energy which, on a continuum, ranges from warm to cold, soft to hard, relaxed to tense, strong to weak, love to fear, etc. Get it?

The energy reflects the psycho-emotional “temperature”” of the two who are interacting – your thoughts (conscious and unconscious), and your moods and emotions (conscious and unconscious) in that moment. This energetic phenomenon is called intersubjectivity and it’s what occurs when two souls meet. It’s about how you’re psycho/emotional state – often based on what you’re thinking (again, consciously or consciously).

The experience of intersubjectivity is what allows your own “internal landscape” and that of the other to come to the fore, consciously. Intersubjectivity reflects the degree to which you allow yourself to open up so the other has a deeper sense and experience of you in the moment.

Intersubjectivity is a “conscious” and intentional experience. The experience of intersubjectivity allows you, in real-time, to be curious about who you are, who you’re taking yourself to be in the interaction, and how you experience yourself and the other person – emotionally, physically, energetically, spiritually and psychologically – from a perspective of “Who am I?” right here and right now in this smoment. We’re not talking about role, position and the like, but of a deeper sense of “who I am.” All with curiosity – not judgment or criticism of self or other.

Intersubjectivity questions

What am I feeling like (perhaps using a metaphor)?
What does the space in which I/we’re immersed feel like?
What’s my experience of “ease of be-ing” during this interaction?
How old do I feel?
What’s my heart center feel like (not the physical heart, but your spiritual heart center area in the middle of your chest)?
What quality does the ground have?
Am I “in my head” or somewhere else in my body?
How connected to the other do I feel?
What physiological sensations am I experiencing in my body?
What stories about this experience am I telling myself?
How grounded (vs. “spacy”) do I feel?
Do I have a lot of ego/mental activity going on?
Am I trusting myself/the other right now?
What’s my breathing like, heart rate?
Am I sharing my truth?
Do I feel I’m being influenced by the other?
Am I feeling authentic? Safe?
Do I feel I want to be in this interaction?
Am I needing to be/feel accepted?
Do I feel supported by my Higher Self?

Why is intersubjectivity useful?

Intersubjectivity is one way to see yourself as a barometer that points to how you “show up” in relationship, to assess the degree of your authenticity, to look at the quality of your interactions – feelings, emotions, physiological sensations – and give you a sense of the quality of that “space” between you and the other.

Focusing on the quality of the space between you can and will – if you’re intentional and sincere – help you know yourself, who you are, during interactions. It’s as if the “content” is irrelevant; the “context” is everything.

What awareness of intersubjectivity does is support you to be “conscious” of your interactions. When you’re more  conscious, you become aware of how your, heretofore, “unconscious” interactions, (e.g., walking into a room, office, kitchen, family room, restaurant, store, classroom, meeting room, etc. and uttering a quick “how’s it goin?” and making believe you care) will become less and less a part of your robotic “relationship repertoire.” It allows for “personal-ness” – a quality sorely missing from many of our daily interactions – at work, at home, at play and in relationship. And, from this place, you can be curious about how you’re meeting and greeting others, and why. 

So, if you don’t mean it, or don’t care, then don’t ask.

But, also, don’t deceive yourself that you’re “good at relationships.”

“So when you are listening to somebody, completely, attentively, then you are listening not only to the words, but also to the feeling of what is being conveyed, to the whole of it, not part of it.” – Krishnamurti

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • Think about some folks with whom you interact regularly at work, at home, at play and in relationship. As you reflect, how would you describe the “space” between the two of you generally? What do you see about how you show up in these interactions, as a result of this reflection? How so?
  • Do you, consciously or unconsciously, distance yourself from others (through avoidance, being antagonistic, etc.)? What stories do you tell yourself to make this happen? Do you often feel “separate” when in dialogue with others? How so?
  • When you’re in dialogue with someone about whom you can’t, or won’t, see their good, or beauty or truth, how can you “warm” the space between the two of you and allow their truth?
  • All things being equal, if someone attempts to create a “safe space” between them and you (i.e., being open, honest, authentic, disclosing emotions, feelings, etc.), how does that make you feel? How so?
  • Did you experience the quality of intersubjectivity among your family members as you were growing up? What about now? How so?

—————————————————–
(c) 2021, Peter G. Vajda, Ph.D. and True North Partnering. All rights in all media reserved.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to share this reading with you and I hope you find it insightful and useful.
Perhaps you’ll share this with others, post it on a bulletin board, and use it to generate rich and rewarding discussion.

What is the one thing that is keeping you from feeling successful, happy, confident, in control or at peace as you live your life – at work, at home, at play or in relationship? Maybe you know what that “thing” is…maybe you don’t. You just have a feeling that something has to change, whether or not you embrace that change. And how would that change support you to show up as a “better you?”

I’m available to guide you to create relationships that reflect honesty, integrity, authenticity, trust, and respect whether at work or outside of work. I support you to focus on the interpersonal skills that enable you to relate to others with a high level of personal and professional satisfaction – unhampered by personal inconsistencies, beliefs, “stories,” and behaviors that create barriers to a harmonious, pleasant, conscious, compatible, healthy and productive relationship.

I coach by phone, Skype and in person. For more information, 770-804-9125, www.truenorthpartnering.com or pvajda(at)truenorthpartnering.com


You can also follow me on Twitter: @petergvajda. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TrueNorthPartnering

Valentine’s Day – Not Just Candy and Flowers

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Valentine’s Day is quite upon us. It’s a time when the majority of us turn our thoughts to hearts, flowers, cards and candy. For many of us, it’s a time of expressing through “things” what we find hard to say with words. For many of us, speaking from the heart and expressing our sentiments in an intimate way is challenging or uncomfortable,.  So, “we say it with flowers.”

Many of us long to be able to look our partner in the eye and say what’s in our hearts, to be completely open, to be transparent. Many of us long for the intimacy that allows connecting without words, an intimacy that allows connecting with but a loving glance or a loving touch.

Many of us long to be in relationship…not just “acquaintanceship.”

Many of us long to be wrapped up within each other’s heart and soul and not just caught up in the wrapping of our partner’s “packaging.”

So, this Valentine’s Day, it might be a welcome opportunity to take some time for self-reflection and consider what your ideal relationship would really, really be like, right here, right now…not somewhere down the road…in the future. After all, the future begins now. (More on conscious relationships, here.)

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • Do you see your relationship as a “problem to be solved,” or as an adventure to embrace together? What would your partner day?
  • Do you see conflict in your relationship as a friend and opportunity for growth and connection, or as a pain in the butt? Would you partner agree?
  • Does your partner support your becoming “whole,” or as someone who keeps you from being all that you can be…on every level? How so?
  • Are you willing to cross the bridge to “meet” your partner, or are you only waiting for your partner to come to your side?
  • Do you recognize that your partner’s bewildering behavior is a cry for your help, or do you see his or her behavior as an irritant that only results in your resistance or resentment?
  • Do you recognize that every frustration is a gift for your relationship? (i.e., Why is this frustration happening FOR me(us) – not TO me(us))? What is frustration teaching you, about you?
  • Do you and your partner honestly, sincerely and openly dream your dreams together? How so?
  • Can you and your partner gently and lovingly hold one another’s hand, or do you need to grasp on tightly and chain your partner’s soul to your way of be-ing and do-ing? Either way, what is that like?
  • How do you view love? Does love allow you to stand tall and upright or does love mean “leaning” on the other? Does a thread of co-dependency run through your relationship?
  • Do you accept your defeats and defects with your head up and your eyes ahead with the grace of a woman or a man, or with the grief, resentment or begrudging of a child?
  • So, on this Valentine’s Day, can you plant your own garden without waiting for someone to bring you the flowers?
  • On this Valentine’s Day, can you experience your own sweetness without waiting for someone to bring you the candy?
  • On this Valentine’s Day, how are you in relationship with your own heart? Can you look in the mirror at your own reflection and say: “I love you with all my heart; I am complete?” or do you “need someone else” to complete you?
  • Do cards, candy, and flowers create your sense of well-being, or can they simply be the icing on the cake of a full, and complete heart, your own full and complete heart?
  • On this Valentine’s Day, are you in a true and real relationship or in acquaintanceship, in a “roommate” situation, or two ships passing in the night? How do you know?

—————————————————–
(c) 2021, Peter G. Vajda, Ph.D. and True North Partnering. All rights in all media reserved.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to share this reading with you and I hope you find it insightful and useful.
Perhaps you’ll share this with others, post it on a bulletin board, and use it to generate rich and rewarding discussion.

What is the one thing that is keeping you from feeling successful, happy, confident, in control or at peace as you live your life – at work, at home, at play or in relationship? Maybe you know what that “thing” is…maybe you don’t. You just have a feeling that something has to change, whether or not you embrace that change. And how would that change support you to show up as a “better you?”

I’m available to guide you to create relationships that reflect honesty, integrity, authenticity, trust, and respect whether at work or outside of work. I support you to focus on the interpersonal skills that enable you to relate to others with a high level of personal and professional satisfaction – unhampered by personal inconsistencies, beliefs, “stories,” and behaviors that create barriers to a harmonious, pleasant, conscious, compatible, healthy and productive relationship.

I coach by phone, Skype and in person. For more information, 770-804-9125, www.truenorthpartnering.com or pvajda(at)truenorthpartnering.com

You can also follow me on Twitter: @petergvajda.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TrueNorthPartnering