Valentine’s Day – Just Candy and Flowers?

candy_flowers.ju

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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 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.

So, some questions to inquire about?

Do you see your relationship as a “problem to be solved,” or as an adventure to embrace together?

Do you see conflict as a friend and opportunity for growth or connection, or as a pain in the butt?

Does your partner support your becoming “whole,” or as someone who keeps you from being all that you can be…on every level?

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?

Do you and your partner honestly, sincerely and openly dream your dreams together?

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?

How do you view love? Does love allow you to stand tall and upright or does love mean “leaning” on the other?

Do you accept your defeats with your head up and your eyes ahead with the grace of a woman or a man, or with the grief or 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 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 relationship or in acquaintanceship? How do you know?

Perhaps, take some time and ask your heart where your heart is this Valentine’s Day, and be still, and listen. What is your heart telling you?

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(c) 2019, 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

Trust in the Workplace and Why We Lie

 lying2

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Like it or not, believe it or not, we bring our biology and biography to work, i.e., we bring our “family” and history to work. It’s a fact of psycho/emotional life – even at work.

So, at work, many of the folks we interact with, in some way, (consciously or unconsciously, emotionally, energetically and psychologically) remind us of members of our families.

Early wounding
As young children we learned to act/respond in ways that (1) brought us mommy and daddy’s love, approval, acceptance and acknowledgement and/or (2) kept us safe from harm, trauma or abuse. As children, it’s also a fact of life that everyone is “wounded” by parents or primary caregivers who are doing their best, but, nevertheless – unintentionally – are wounding, harming or traumatizing their child in some way through their language, judgments, criticisms, verbal, emotional or physical abuse. This is true even in those households on Candy-Cane Lane where everything was “just beautiful and loving and no one raised their voice.” In childhood, wounding occurs.

The wounding imprint
Thus the child grows up with an imprint on their brain and carries an emotional make-up in their body that translates into feelings -feelings they are deficient, lacking, unworthy or not good enough. As the child enters into adolescence, they have come to “know” or “believe” they need to think and act in certain ways to protect their self from others- real or perceived disapproval, negative judgment, criticism or verbal or physical harm.

The 3-4-5-year-old adult
So, we now fast-forward to adult life at work (and, truth be told, at home, at play and in most relationships). Since most folks who have not done personal work are usually unaware of these childhood experiences and the resulting psychodynamics, many folks are really acting out their 3-4-5 year old emotional selves in adult bodies, wearing adult clothes – especially those who insist, “Hey I am adult; I am mature, I am! I am! I am!”

So, when these individuals face people, circumstances  or events at work that can affect whether or not they receive the energetic, emotional and psychological equivalent of “mommy or daddy’s” love, acceptance or approval, their knee-jerk reptilian brain reactively compels them to “do what it takes” to “get the love.”

Consciously and unconsciously, feeling deficient, feeling lacking, feeling unworthy and feeling afraid that truth-telling might end in some type of  “punishment,”  disapproval or rejection, they resort to lying as one option or defense to deflect “being punished” and losing the love and acceptance they truly want and are seeking.

The AHAs
When folks do personal growth, and spiritual awareness work, they often discover the various ways they have donned masks, veils, and put on false personalities to cover up their sense of “I’m deficient,” “I’m not good enough” or “I need to make people like me” beliefs and self-images. With personal work, self-awareness, they uncover or discover the truth of why they are who they are as adults. With this awareness, they can then shed their self-limiting beliefs, their masks and their need to lie. They begin to see the false self-images they created to protect themselves and learn how to “show up” as authentic, as their true and real self and “tell the truth” first, to themselves and then, to others.

The truth will set you free
From this place of emotional, psychological and spiritual maturation, a place where the “truth sets one free,” folks move to a place of being real, a place they experience as refreshing, light, and honest. In this place, they have no need for duplicity, disingenuineness, faking, phoniness, or fear. And, amazingly and refreshingly, they discover “telling the truth is not as bad as I thought.” As the expression goes, “The Truth shall set you free.”

The deeper question, the curiosity, is why so many of us refuse to believe the truth will set us free.

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • What was truth-telling like when you were growing up? (for you, your primary caregivers, relatives, friends, etc.)? How so?
  • When did you first discover you had a need to lie?
  • What did lying get you? Specifically?
  • Did anyone teach you how to lie? How so?
  • So, today, where/when do you find yourself lying? How so?
  • Do you ever admonish others for lying? When and why?
  • When you lie, do you blame it on events or circumstances and not your character?
  • When others lie, do you blame it on the events and circumstances in their life or on some character flaw they have?
  • Would you say you’re a trustworthy person?
  • Are you a trusting person?
  • Has anyone ever told you they can’t trust you? If so, what was that like?
  • Do you lie to yourself? About what?

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(c) 2019, 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

Work, Play or Misery?

fft

 

Speaker pageFacebook Page, Becoming a Better You book page

In the current economy, it seems obvious that having a job – any job – is better than having no job at all. But is that really true?

In the Journal Occupational Environmental Medicine, a study by Dr Peter Butterworth, a senior research fellow at the Centre for Mental Health Research at the Australian National University found that as far as mental health is concerned, some jobs are so demoralizing that they’re worse than having no job at all. While the study was conducted a few years back, the findings are as valid today as they were then, perhaps even moreso.

The study followed more than 7,000 Australians over a seven-year period. It found that people who had been unemployed felt calmer, happier, less depressed and less anxious after they had found a job. But not just any job. They only felt better is that job was rewarding and manageable.

In exploring individuals’ mental state, employment status, and (if they had a job) working conditions they either enjoyed, or didn’t enjoy, the survey respondents were asked to what degree they agreed with statements such as “My job is complex and difficult” and “I worry about the future of my job.”

The research pinpointed four job characteristics linked with mental health: work complexity and demands, job security, compensation, and – crucially – control over one’s job (i.e, the freedom to decide how best to do it).

Recently-unemployed people who rated their job positive in these areas reported substantial improvements in their mental health. However, those newly employed who felt overwhelmed, insecure about their job stability, underpaid, and micromanaged reported sharp declines in their mental health, including increased depression and anxiety. Interestingly, those who couldn’t find a job fared better.

So the conventional wisdom, that “any job offers psychological benefits for individuals over the demoralizing effects of unemployment” – or any work is better than no work at all – is just not true.

What’s more, Dr Butterworth also suggests that certain jobs and job environments (notably call centers) are more likely to adversely affect one’ mental health.

Finally, the study suggests something that most of us know all too well. Namely, that managers have a direct impact on employees’ mental health and well-being. “Bad bosses will make anybody unhappy – and – stress comes from bad managers.”

And this brings me to a second, related point.

Marshall Goldsmith, the world-renowned executive coach, recently explored (in a piece in Business Week) why folks work. He asked, “Do you work to live or live to work?” (given the notion that most folks spend at least one-third to one-half of their waking hours at work).

In this vein, Mr Goldsmith asked a number of leaders how they viewed their work. They had three choices; they estimated the percentage of work that fell into three categories (you might want to give this a try yourself):

Play – work is fun; would do this regardless of whether or not you were paid to do it; it provides an outlet for creative energy or self-development and self-actualization.

Work – not play, not fun but work which you would do if you were reasonably compensated for it and work towards which you are committed.

Misery – not fun and no amount of money could make it fun; often tasks or activities you would attempt to avoid.

Here’s what Goldsmith found.

  • 15 percent of what professionals do is considered play;
  • 75 percent of what professionals do is considered work;
  • 10 percent of what professionals do is considered misery.

So if our mental health can be put at risk depending on how we spend our time at work, what should we do about it? Generally, when you explore your life at work (and you might also consider at home, at play and in relationship as well), consider those activities that bring you fun (real fun, not faux, a “make-believe-this-is-fun” appearance of fun) and those that bring you some flavor of misery.

To do so, first clarify your natural tendencies related to how you interact with your world, so you can make better life and work choices and decisions.

Second, reflect on whether you are a good fit for what you choose to do in your life – both at work and at home. Do you ever make choices that really don’t fit you very well because you feel that you have to make them – and then resign yourself to living a life of quiet (or not so quiet) desperation?

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • What proportion of your work would you define as “fun,” “work” or “misery.” Are you OK with this?
  • What proportion of your relationship would you define as “fun,” “work” (in the sense that it “works” you and you “work” it to keep it conscious and healthy) and “misery?” Are you OK with this?
  • If you’re uncomfortable with any of the above, what steps can you take to move in a direction that would make you more comfortable (and “leaving” is an option)?
  • How much freedom do you have on your job? How about in your relationship (really, do you ever wish you had more freedom)?
  • Is your mental health suffering due to your job or your relationship?
  • Are you worried about your job? About your relationship? If so, why?

Third, do you know yourself very well – over and above your “packaging” and “trappings?” Do you understand your personality, your motivation, your triggers and the values that underpin your choices, actions and behaviors?

Often, “fun,” “work” and “misery” are functions of one’s personality or inherent traits. And being a square peg in a round hole is a recipe for misery, not fun – anywhere. Moreover, often the “square peg” is not ready, willing or able to adapt in order to make work more fun and less miserable.

So, does your life at work (and, yes, even at home, at play and in relationship) really, really fit your personality and style? Does your life at work (and at home) tend towards the “misery” side of the equation more than it does the “fun” or even “work” side? (“Work” in the context of a relationship meaning it is worth the effort to be in a relationship.) Every (worthwhile and healthy) relationship demands “work” – you work it; it works you.

Your mental health and well-being depend on how honestly, sincerely and self-responsibly you explore these questions and discern how much of your life is fun, honest “work,” and how much is just plain, unadulterated misery.

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(c) 2019, 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

Experiencing Loss

lotis

 Speaker pageFacebook Page, Becoming a Better You book page

Loss isn’t easy. It’s challenging to understand the purpose or meaning behind loss. We’re witnessing a tremendous amount of chaos, destruction and disharmony on the planet – man-made and natural – every time we read the papers, listen to the radio, go online or watch TV. Many of are us affected by what we hear, read and see.

The question most often asked in response to difficult events and circumstances is, “Why did this happen?” Actually, this is not the most appropriate question to ask, as very often we have no clue as to why “bad things happen.”  More appropriately, two other  questions can help us understand: (1) “Why is this happening FOR me?” and (2) “What can I/we learn from what has happened?” Underneath the questions is trusting that everything happens for a reason, a purpose.

There’s a life principle that says when something negative happens, something is out of alignment and that something needs to change in order to be in harmony with the bigger picture, that is, there is something I/we need to learn in order to do our part in bringing about the needed change, the required balance and harmony.

Since we are all connected to everyone and everything (as everything was/is created form the same source) what occurs to others does in some way also affect us. What happens on the planet is universal in nature, “speaking” to all of humanity. For example, reflecting on the significance of a hurricane, an earthquake, flood, destructive fires, or other “disasters” can help us gain some deeper (i.e., more than intellectual)  perspectives that might help us learn from these experiences and serve us well for the future.

Death, injury and destruction of property, loss of any kind, in fact, teaches us about “loss.” We experience loss in order to see more clearly what we value, where our values come from and what is of greatest value.

Upon reflection, loss of family and friends through death or separation, points to our own mortality, and teaches us to live life more fully in the present and be grateful for the people and experiences in our life.

Loss through experience of injury reminds us that pain and limitation are opportunities to learn lessons, reflect and awaken potentials within ourselves. On a more conscious level, or deeper level, we understand the soul never suffers “injury” and our deeper self, our soul, provides support, strength, courage, and understanding – qualities that support us when we know our body cannot do everything we want.

Loss through destruction of property and things we own reminds us that material things are temporary. (I often refer to folks who hope and pray that, when the end comes, their hearses will have luggage racks!). This type of loss teaches us to take care of what we have. Too, this type of loss can remind us to discriminate between what we need and what we desire.

The Buddhists tell us that pain and suffering (mental, emotional, physical, and psychological) often occur when we have indiscriminately accumulated far more than what we need and have been obsessed or controlled by our possessions. (Do you know that the self-storage business in the U.S is a multi-billion dollar a year business!)

Loss makes people turn within – leading us to connect to our fears, our values, our hopes and expectations. But more than anything, loss connects us with our fragility and vulnerability.

In the end, loss is an experience of being wounded. That is, we experience loss as feelings and emotions – feelings and emotions when honestly, sincerely and self-responsibly explored and inquired into often tell us we need to re-evaluate our relationships – how we feel about and connect with life and other people, at work, at home and at play.

On a level of higher consciousness, one of the more significant meanings of “natural disasters” is to put us in right relationship to nature. Disasters give us perspective – humility, often –  in that they make us realize that we are not the center of the universe (damn!, many folks will say), that we are not in control and cannot control everything that happens, that we are part of a greater dynamic, complex life that is much bigger and more powerful than we are.

Disasters are also a “tug on our sleeve” letting us know that nature is powerful and if we don’t respect and align with it we can cause more destruction through not taking responsibility for abusing our environment.

When (if?) we realize this, we must ask ourselves how to live harmoniously within life. We must also ask ourselves what is important in life and what we ought to be spending our time, energy and money doing and supporting.

Experiences of loss can be quite humiliating, which essentially means putting us in our place so that we can relate appropriately. We humans tend to be rather arrogant in our efforts to control.

Loss is always a time of renewal. Renewal must first take place within our thoughts. We must re-think our lives and make decisions that will better serve our purpose than continue to cater to, and be driven by, our need for comfort and control. Loss provides an opportunity to begin creating a new future in which we may create new ways of looking at relating to our self, to others, and to the planet.

We can do this only if our thinking goes in the direction of awakening feelings of responsibility toward the environment, and feelings of equality, acceptance and respect toward our fellow humans at work, at home and at play.

Loss prompts us to restore right relationships. As long as we think we can control everything it will be proven to us that we cannot. As long as we disregard the fact that we are part of nature, we will suffer the disconnections. As long as we judge ourselves superior to others or be judgmental toward them, that inequality will be challenged and we will experience fear of others in some way, shape or form. It’s this fear that will motivate us to do some things that are harmful to others and to ourselves.

Our disregard or ignorance of right relationships blocks the soul from expression but at the same time evokes its presence. Let experiences and feelings of loss teach us the needed lessons so that we can live life from a deeper place and have it infuse our minds, hearts and behaviors with empowering, confident, intelligent caring, concern, compassion, forgiveness and understanding.

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • What can you learn (or have you learned) about yourself from losses, about your values, about how you relate to others, to things?
  • What deeper heart-felt qualities do you need to express as a result?
  • Who or what are you attached to? Who would you become if you lost or let go of these attachments?
  • Are you a collector of stuff?
  • Do you ever reflect on your own mortality? If so, what is/was that like?
  • Do you sometimes feel or act as though you are the center of the Universe? If so, why?
  • Do you have a need to control? If so, why?
  • What are your top ten values? Why? What do these values get you?

—————————————————–
(c) 2019, 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

Experiencing Well-Be-ing in 2019 — Facing the Truth

truth2018

Speaker pageFacebook Page, Becoming a Better You book page

“The truth that makes men free is for the most part the truth which men prefer not to hear.”
– Herbert Agar

Think of change this way. Grasp a rubber band between the thumb and forefinger of your right hand and between the thumb and forefinger of your left hand. Think of this rubber band as your life. Now stretch the rubber band. Think of the right hand as representing new ways of do-ing, be-ing and having. Think of your left hand as representing old or current ways of do-ing, be-ing and having.

Each time you stretch to act in some new way, your left hand (your mind, your body and your brain) are pulling you back into old patterns. The sole reason 98% of the folks who resolve to change in the New Year fail by Valentine’s Day is their falling back into old ways, patterns, of do-ing, be-ing and having. The pull to passivity, to the same old patterns of do-ing and be-ing is just too powerful. Their challenge of something new, i.e., change, is trumped by their need for familiarity, safety, security – their need to NOT change.

The truth about change

“The truth, like surgery, may hurt, but it cures.”
-Han Suyin

So, the truth about change. Making changes in one’s life is challenging! If you decide your life is more interesting, more satisfying, happier and more worth living by not changing, that is your choice. But, you can’t have it both ways – I hate my life and I don’t want to change. That’s the definition of insanity – doing the same thing in the same way, over and over again, and expecting different results each time. Insanity is a choice.

Taking time (perhaps five minutes, ten minutes or thirty minutes) on a consistent basis to act in a new way doesn’t sound difficult, but it is! Being honest and serious about your life is difficult, because we’ve not learned how to express love for ourselves. But, if you can’t take some minutes for yourself on a consistent basis, there’s a 100% chance you won’t be capable of changing your lifestyle or life patterns, because you’re not going to feel you’re worth it.

So, here are some truths I and my coaching clients have faced over the years, truths which have supported us to change and transform our lives in ways that have resulted in a greater sense of well-be-ing. Facing these truths in an honest, sincere, and self-responsible way, with love and compassion for yourself will jump start your journey towards meaningful change and transformation.

Connect to your life force

Your life force is an energy. It’s real. Your life force is what provides you with the qualities of self-love, compassion, forgiveness, strength, courage, will, discipline, steadfastness, wisdom, truth, deep listening, right understanding and right action (notwithstanding those who say it’s all about willpower). To connect to your life force, it’s important to engage in some type of spiritual practice – meditation (sitting or walking), energy work such as yoga, tai chi or martial arts, self-reflection or contemplation, quietude and silence, or journaling. A spiritual practice is not about religion or theology. I know atheists who have a spiritual practice; I know avowed religious folks who don’t. The truth is, touching in on a regular basis to our deeper self results in experiencing a deeper sense of well-be-ing that supports us in time of challenge and gives us a sense of grounding, peace and calm with which we approach life and make healthy life choices and changes.

Live in a real community

If you find yourself spending more and more time engaged in online social networks, if you live much of your life communing with “friends” on Facebook, Instagram, and in virtual communities, there’s a better than average chance you’re real-world social skills may be eroding. You may find yourself turning down more and more invitations to “real” social events or feeling more uncomfortable when you do engage. You may find your social skills when engaging with “real” people are diminishing. You may find yourself “holding up” in your home more and more, venturing outside less and less. The truth is, a healthy sense of well-be-ing comes from interacting and engaging in community; real, not fake, community. Our personal growth and positive mental, emotional and psychological health and well-be-ing feeds on the nourishment we get from conscious interaction with others.

Eat to live; exercise for health

Do you eat to live or live to eat? What’s your diet like? Most everyone knows what a healthy diet looks like. The health of our mind-body-spirit unit cannot maintain without a healthy diet. I’ve come across countless folks over the years who exercise to extreme so they can “pig out,” gorge themselves, and eat unhealthily. So, in the morning, they run, go to the gym, exercise at home so they can dive into unhealthy food and drink at night. Then, it’s the guilt and shame. So, the next day, extreme exercise and unhealthy eating or drinking – a mental, physical, emotional and psychological roller-coaster lifestyle that results in anything but a healthy sense of well-being. Not to mention the emotional inner turmoil that erupts when one skips a day of exercising, but not a day of unhealthy eating or drinking. I’ve seen countless folks come out of the gym being angry, unhappy and sad even after a “great workout.” They may be in good shape, but many are not in good psycho/emotional/spiritual health.

The truth is that being in good shape, but poor emotional and psychological health, is bound to lead to a life of self-hate, self-loathing, and utter unhappiness and frustration. Asking one’s self, honestly, sincerely and self-responsibly why one diets and exercises, or does not healthily diet or exercise, will help one move into a diet and exercise lifestyle that is healthy – physically, emotionally and spiritually. Is exercising and dieting about true and real health or something else? The “something else” usually leads to consistent emotional upset, frustration and failure.

Conscious intention, commitment and focus

“One must know oneself; if this does not serve to discover truth, it at least serves as a rule of life and there is nothing better.”
-Blaise Pascal

The truth is, without being “conscious” of who and how one wants to be, without being intentional and focused in every moment of change, the forces of old habits and patterns will take over, reducing change to a small idea in a tiny brain molecule – magical thinking at best.

Some important questions to ask are: “Why am I choosing to change?” “Do I have any hunch or instinct I won’t be able to keep my intention or change?” The truth is many folks want to change to impress or please someone else. If this is the case in your situation, a deeper exploration of what’s underneath your desire to please others is in order. “Why do I need to please others and have others’ approval?” “What does pleasing others get me?” “Who would I be and how would I feel if I didn’t please others?” “Do I love myself as I am, right here and right now?”

My mind is not me, but mine

On the other hand, if you’re honestly and sincerely committed and intentional about your choice to change, consistently monitoring your thoughts can support you in your change efforts. When you want to run faster, longer, and harder (when you know it leads to injury or burnout), when you want to eat the whole bag of M&Ms (when you know you’ll be upset with yourself afterwards), when you want to have another cigarette (when you know it’s unhealthy), when you want to spend the extra $100 (when you can’t afford it and it jeopardizes your credit score), monitor your thinking and explore what mental messages you’re hearing, what your Inner Judge and critic is saying, what old rationale is arising to rationalize acting in ways that are self-sabotaging.

The truth is, you are in control of your mind, not the other way around. If you stay “awake'” and ask yourself questions like: “Why am I choosing this?” “Is this really supportive of my choice to change?” “Am I choosing to sabotage myself and if so why?,” you’ll come to a deeper understanding of your behaviors that are self-sabotaging and slowly be able to wean yourself away from old patterns and limiting beliefs that keep you from changing .

Consistency and specifics, not extremes

The truth is, change comes in small steps and for most, there are steps backwards. The name of the well-be-ing game is consistency – moving forward on a conscious and consistent basis. One obstacle that interferes with change is making the mistake of “moving away” rather  than “moving towards.” In other words, focus on what you want, not on what you don’t want. The energy of moving toward a goal is more alive, juicy, positive, enthusiastic, exciting and motivating than the energy of moving away which is often heavy, negative, and unpleasant.

Another obstacle is acting in extremes: exercising every day (rather than – for example – at least) three days a week and increasing time incrementally, meditating for an hour (rather than starting with five minutes and increasing time slowing); reading the whole book (rather than beginning a chapter, or reading a chapter every few days). The problem here is that our ego gets in the way and our ego’s need for perfection to impress ourselves or others dooms us to failure. The truth about achievement is to start slow, baby steps, be gentle with ourselves, and move forward incrementally and consistently. How does a mouse eat a round of cheese? One small bite at a time. It works!

Finally, use the word “choose” instead of want or need. The energy of choosing is self-empowering and gives you ownership. The truth is change is about feeling light and emotionally free, not about feeling needy for security, control or others’ approval. Consistency allows the brain to create the new neurological pathways that have to be ingrained for new ways of do-ing and be-ing to become habitual. No consistency, no change. Extremes only lead to failure.

Time

“Repetition does not transform a lie into a truth.”
-Franklin D. Roosevelt

If you’re one who says your life is out of your control, that you don’t have enough time in your day to get things done, that you waste your time watching TV or hanging out online to an extreme, the truth is that you’re doing a poor job at self-management. Time management is NEVER about time. Repeat, NEVER! It’s about self-management. Time is the symptom; “me” is the problem. When we work on self-management and self-regulation from a conscious, proactive (not reactive) place, time then ceases to be an issue.

The truth is, our values or lack of them play a large role when making choices as to what to do, how and when. When our choices are based on values that are murky and misguided, our efforts lead to confusion, mistakes, “so-called” self-defeating multitasking and chaos – “inside” and out. With respect to priorities, the truth is, many folks ask the wrong question, i.e., “What’s next?” instead of the needed question, “What’s first?”. Lack of self-management skills and clear values produces a lack of clarity and direction so everything is next, everything is urgent and important,  and we know this perspective often leads to inner and outer upset and dis-ease.

 Support

I know of very few people who have been able to make honest and lasting change by themselves. Very few. Most folks who succeed with change have a support system of one kind or another. A support system helps us overcome the immune system many of us have towards change. The truth is going it alone hardly ever produces real and lasting change. Who is your support? Are they nonjudgmental? Are they affirming? Do you feel safe talking about your life with them? Do they help you gain clarity?

Living with awareness

“In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in a clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves into crustal clearness. Our life is a long and arduous quest after Truth.”
-Mahatma Gandhi

When we are in touch with our deeper Inner Self, we become free(er) and this sense of freedom helps us make those change that bring lightness within. Awareness supports us to become more center-focused and allows us to discern what serves us from what does not.

The one major element that we can truly control in our life is self-awareness, the awareness that says “I’m the master of my life,” the awareness that brings meaning and purpose to our journey on the planet, the awareness that supports us to move forward along the right path. The truth is, without self-awareness, chaos rules our lives and with chaos comes unhappiness, unfulfilled dreams and unmet goals, confusion, overwhelm and stress.

So, what’s the truth about you and your life? What’s the truth about the stories you tell yourself about why change is so hard and frustrating? About your definition of “insanity?”

The final truth

Most people are free-falling through their lives, ping-ponging from one crisis to the next. Living in this type of spiral leaves no room for conscious living.

The real truth about lasting change and transformation is that true change, transformation and sense of well-be-ing comes with self-awareness and a healthy integration of the body, mind, spirit. Change is a reality that can happen in every moment of our lives, every moment of every life – but only if we are aware of it and see the truth of “who I am” and “how I am” as I live my life.

Why so much emphasis on the truth? Simple. The truth shall set you free.

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • Who are you (can you describe this without defining yourself by what you “do”)?
  • How do you feel when you define yourself?
  • What do you want?
  • How do you feel when you define what you want?
  • Where are you in your life at work, at home, at play and in relationship and, why are you there?
  • How do you feel when you describe where you are and why you’re there?
  • Who are your allies in life?
  • What are the “truths” about you and your life?
  • How do you feel when you speak the truth of your life?
  • Do you have a spiritual practice?
  • Is time your friend or enemy? Why?
  • At which end of the rubber band do you live most of your life? Why?
  • Is your social community more real or virtual?
  • Are you optimistic or pessimistic about your life in 2019? Why?
  • On a scale of 1-10, where are you when it comes to experiencing a real sense of well-be-ing?
  • Can you visualize a world where you are moving effortlessly and consistently toward personal change and transformation?

“All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.”
-Galileo

—————————————————–
(c) 2018, 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

“I think; therefore, I am……not”

self-reflection

 Speaker pageFacebook Page, Becoming a Better You book page

Rene Descartes, a highly influential French philosopher, mathematician, scientist, and writer, known as the “Father of Modern Philosophy,” coined the phrase, “I think; therefore I am” (borrowing from the Latin  “Cogito, ergo sum.”

Fast forward to today, and most folks live according to a variation of this phrase, namely, “I think; therefore I am who I think I am.”

The question beneath the question is: “On what basis am I who I think I am?”

Picture a motherboard, or a systemboard – the piece of electronic equipment that runs many electronic and computerized devices. If you’ve ever seen a motherboard or system board, you”ll see it’s not smooth; rather, there are numerous nodes, diodes, and other small metal and plastic structures soldered to it. These various structures contain all of the programming and commands that allow the computer or electronic device to function.

Now, assume your brain is a motherboard. Here’s another question:

If, when you were born, your motherboard (your brain) were, indeed, completely smooth, i.e., with no structures containing programming or commands on it, how did it happen that you have the thoughts, beliefs, worldviews, assumptions, expectations, inferences, biases, and most importantly, the values, you now have – that is, where did all the nodes, diodes and structures on your motherboard you use to navigate life and the world come from?

This is an especially important question if you are someone who considers themselves to be:

A free thinker
Spontaneous
Independent
Open-minded
Conscious
A “nobody’s gonna tell me how to do/be/have” type of individual

Those of us who have convinced ourselves we have created our own motherboards from scratch would be well-served to perhaps “think again” – and, perhaps, really think and reflect for the first time.

In our world at work, at home, at play and in relationship, we all have specific beliefs and viewpoints that drive our behaviors.

In other words, we have a set of values, beliefs, assumptions, perceptions, and expectations, ” etc (nodes, diodes, programming, etc.) that support our stories about how we feel about such things as:

At work: delegation, giving and receiving feedback, vision and mission planing, relating and socializing, honesty, cheating, glass ceilings, intellectual property, hiring and firing, listening, open communication, career, collaborating and competing, diversity and including, etc.

At home: chores, sex, money, fidelity, children, in-laws, cooking and diet, cleaning, organization, trust, exercise, travel, God, etc.

At play: types of games/sports; team vs. individual, cheating, winning and losing, practicing, etc.

In relationship: commitment, honesty, trust, safety, communication, caring, sharing, fun, family, roles, men, women, etc.

The deal is, for most folks (especially those who have never engaged in personal growth work) , most of our behavior at work, at home, at play and in relationship is a function of what we have on our motherboards – our programming.

So, how did we come to create, or have, our programming – our values and our beliefs?

Ask lots of folks and they’ll say they did it themselves. Especially those who fight to the death to assure everyone they “think for myself,” “I’m my own man/woman!”  Hmmm. Really?

Being “conscious” and self-aware means taking a deep, long look at the notion of “I am who I think I am”- .and perhaps discovering that “I am who someone else wanted me to be” –  by taking a microscopic look at each of the nodes and diodes on our motherboard and asking, “Hmm, how did come to have this thought belief, perception, expectation, assumption, etc.” “How did I become who I am?”

Such an exploration will undoubtedly lead to some interesting discoveries: that, for one thing, someone else in fact may own a particular node, or a particular diode, that someone else has crafted a particular node or particular diode – that I am really operating on someone else’s value or belief that I have taken on to be “me.”

Who is it really who controls what you think, feel, say and do? Who is it that really, really influences your choices and your decisions? How did you come to believe what you believe, how you feel and to react and respond as you do to people, places, events, objects and circumstances in your life at work, at home, at play and in relationship?

How did you become known as: “the happy one,” “the angry one,” “the hard-nosed one,” “the prejudiced one,” “the political one,” “the honest one,” “the fearful one,” “the risk-taker,” “the selfish one,” “the compassionate one,” “the writer,” “the artist,” “the non-mathematical one,” or “the “don’t-go-into-law (or other profession) one?” How did you become the “I am” person described in the phrase, “I am who I think I am?”

Have you ever consciously explored the life experiences and beliefs of your parents, extended family members, your teachers, your clergy members, those who had an influence on you in your childhood and formative years?

Have you ever consciously explored your experiences with your early bosses, or military leaders, and later on with politicians, the media, radio, the Internet, reality TV –  all of whom have had the opportunity to craft and mold the nodes and diodes on your motherboard in very subtle ways?

Have you ever, early on or later on, sold out your own nodes and diodes to others for a price? For example, who do you associate with, and why? What does that association “get” you? Do you ever lie, cheat or steal at work? If so, why? What’s the belief underneath your actions? Did you ever marry for money? Why?  Do you jeopardize your health? Why? Do you jeopardize your relationship? If so, using what belief or story?

Most often we have allowed others, often unconsciously, to buy real estate on our motherboard because first, as a child, it brought us mommy and daddy’s love, appreciation, approval, and acceptance (or conversely, freedom from form of abuse). So we replicated their nodes and diodes and soldered them to our own motherboard -so now , as an adult, we think, feel, and act the way they did –  and often find our life is unhappy and hard, painful and challenging, while not really understanding why.

Or, later in adolescence and early adulthood as we entered the world of work and more serious relationships, we replicated others’ nodes and diodes out of guilt, or fear – and often found, and find, our life is unhappy and hard, while not really understanding why.

So, here we are, often living life at work, at home, at play and in relationship not knowing who we really, really are – disconnected from our True and Real Self because we have soldered so many others’ nodes and diodes  – beliefs, visions, thoughts and values, etc. – to our own motherboard and thinking this is “me” or similarly taken reactive positions to others’ influences and thinking this reactive stance is “me.”

How do you know who you really are?

One way to begin to explore who you really are is by asking the following questions:

Do I have a closed mind? Is my mind always made up? Am I intolerant of others who don’t see life as I do?

Do I see all of life as black and white? Am I rigid and inflexible, unforgiving and unbending, somewhat fanatical in my beliefs about life?

Do I use fear, guilt, manipulation, coercion and shame as weapons to get others to act in ways I feel they should act?

Am I opposed to differing perspectives, points of view and ideas?

By asking these questions and observing yourself, from outside yourself, you can begin to gain first-hand evidence of whose nodes and modules are on your motherboard.

By asking these questions and observing yourself, from outside yourself, you can begin to gain first-hand evidence of whose nodes and modules are on your motherboard so you can consciously discern between:

  • I think; therefore I am., and
  • I think others’ beliefs and thoughts; therefore I am who I think I am – which is not, in fact, me.

Some questions for self-refection: 

  • Choose a few of your deepest or strongest beliefs about work, life at home, play and relationships and ask yourself, “How did I actually come to have these beliefs?” Do they really serve me well and bring me true and real happiness or a false happiness and false sense of security?
  • How have former bosses, politicians, the clergy, or TV and the media shaped my beliefs?
  • Would others say I am “open” to opposing viewpoints?
  • How did I come to have the beliefs I have around: money, career, friends, family, appearance, health, fun, love relationships, and spirituality?
  • What stories about life at work, at home, at play and in relationship have I created based on my beliefs. Do my stories support my experience of fun, happiness, contentment and joy in my life? If not, do I prefer to keep my story to changing my belief? If so, why?
  • Do I always need to be “right?”
  • Am I gullible and easily deceived?
  • Do I generally approach life with cynicism and skepticism?
  • How well do I deal with change?
  • When I listen to my inner judge and critic, whose voice do I most often hear (mother, father, primary caregiver, others…)? What stories does that voice tell? And, are those stories true? Really?
  • Do I consider myself to be a “free thinker?” How did I arrive at this belief?

—————————————————–
(c) 2018, 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

One Down* – Two to Go**

 

ross-byrd-quote-

Speaker pageFacebook Page, Becoming a Better You book page

*     – Thanksgiving
**   – Christmas (and other seasonal celebrations) and New Year’s

The holiday season is often difficult to navigate – mentally, physically and emotionally. The frivolity, laughter, glitter and shine often turn to blue. For many, the holiday season is a season of darkness, not light, facing the challenges of resentment, jealousy, quiet or overt anger, sadness, stress, loneliness, and unfulfilled longings – a time to get through, rather than truly enjoy.

Successfully meeting these challenges can be likened to the way white-water rafters approach their task. Beginners watch for the craggy rocks, the problems to avoid, the risks to circumvent, usually ending their runs feeling emotionally and physically drained. Experts focus on the flow line where the currents safely guide them through the roughest areas with a minimum of mental and emotional stress, ending their runs on a high, with energy to spare.

So, I’d like to share some perspectives and strategies to support you to create a nurturing holiday experience resulting in peace in body, mind, and spirit and a heightened sense of well-being.

Body:

Fall and winter are Nature’s time for hibernation -being quiet and lying dormant. The tendency to live frenetically – shopping, partying, and going at ninety miles an hour, is unnatural. The physical stress alone can affect your immune system, resulting in energy depletion, lethargy, and illness. It’s important to take time to relax and reduce stress, to maintain consistent harmony and balance. Some suggestions:

Your body monitors how you’re doing. So, notice levels of tension and/or fatigue. With a cupped hand, lightly tap your arms and neck, and other areas to relieve stress and to increase energy flow and vitality. Is your breathing deep and relaxed, or shallow and quick? Remember always to breathe deeply, especially when facing stressful circumstances.

Nurture yourself. Take time for reflection and being alone. Go to a movie, take a hot, soothing bath, treat yourself to a massage, cuddle up and enjoy your favorite music, take a quiet walk. And, breathe. Release the tether to your electronic devices.

The holiday season is defined by social gatherings and often the focus of such gatherings is food. People often overeat (often emotionally-driven) during the holidays, and then experience guilt. In addition to the usual tips of eating before you go to a social gathering to avoid starving when you get there, and socializing away from the food center of gravity, you might :

Design a conscious eating strategy so you don’t fall prey to unconscious patterns of medicating with food and drink. Savor the tastes, the pleasure of the aromas, flavors, and textures of seasonal treats. Don’t beat yourself up or deny the pleasure. Harmony and balance are the keys. Plan your daily intake of calories, so you have room to indulge and still experience well-being, rather than indulge and feel badly both physically and emotionally. And, breathe.

Stress is a major excuse for eating. Reflect on what’s stressing you and reflect on how you can reduce or eliminate stressors, over and above eating or drinking. And, breathe.

Maintain a consistent exercise regimen to alleviate guilt about overindulging. Your body needs to move to feel well. So put on some music and dance, or shake out tensions and stresses so you don’t become stuck in a holiday funk. And, breathe.

Mind:

During the holidays our internal judge and critic bombard us with how we should act and behave. Listening to this onslaught of “I should” is enough to drive one to Grinch-dom. I must get the right gift. I should go to that party I must eat less. I have to send a card. I need (or don’t) to say what’s on my mind. I need to make this the best holiday ever. I should exercise more. I need to meet someone else’s expectations of me. I should be more joyful, sincere, outgoing, religious, appreciative, generous, peaceful, etc.

In family gatherings; you may feel a need to debate issues, feelings, or past memories. Instead, initiate a truce. Place resentments and grievances on the back burner. You can address them after the holidays with greater thoughtfulness and clarity when extra seasonal stresses won’t affect you.

So, beware of the “shoulds.” Rather than beat yourself up whenever your inner judge tugs on your sleeve, just allow yourself to witness the “should.” Then, breathe deeply a few times and move on. Experiencing guilt indicates you’re allowing your judge to grab you and hold you up to some imagined or impossible holiday ideal. And, breathe.

The focus during the holidays, and all days, is being authentic, allowing your integrity to shine, to be yourself, and not struggle to meet either someone else’s expectations or some ideal you have of yourself that is impossible to meet. This is a good opportunity to practice the Four Ls of well-being: lighten up on yourself, laugh at yourself, love yourself, and leave yourself alone. You can defend against your internal critic and judge by telling it to back off, using whatever silent or oral language works for you.

You may overeat, or over drink, to take care of and nurture yourself, perhaps to find sweetness and comfort from food where you cannot find sweetness elsewhere, perhaps to distract yourself from boring people or events, or to deny what you’re feeling. So, be aware of what’s eating you and reflect on whether food or drink are the only alternatives. And, of course, breathe.

Spirit:

No one consciously wakes up and says: I’m going to be a jerk today. The opposite is normally true – almost everyone is trying to do their best and, in their own mind, operate from positive intention. So, when it’s easy to become stressed and react to what we perceive as others’ rudeness, insensitivity, or stupidity, take nothing personally. Use these opportunities for your spirit to come through, be accepting of others, and look for the noble humanity in others. For example:

When a shopper inadvertently bumps into you or cuts in line;
When a driver cuts you off;
When someone inadvertently says something you take to be critical or demeaning;
When a family member brings up an embarrassing or unpleasant past event in your life;
When a retail/service person doesn’t meet your expectations for quality service;
When someone forgets to thank you for your gift;
When your family doesn’t decorate the house, or prepare food, exactly as you would;
When the priest, minister or rabbi offers a sermon you feel you could have given better;

Be appreciative and grateful for all you have, come from your heart, not your mind, focus on what you love and what truly gives meaning to you, and on what this season means to you – whether its family, community, or religion. Stressful events present opportunities to be bold and brave, allowing your light and joy to shine, no matter what anyone else is doing. Wherever you are, wherever you go, know that you are a blessing! And, breathe!

And if in doing your best to take care of yourself, you feel overwhelmed, ask for help. Speak with a counselor, a coach, or minister. Folks in the helping professions are aware of, and sympathetic to, the pain which people experience at this time. Yes, this too shall pass, but if you find yourself swept up in the blues of your holiday, it will pass more quickly if you seek support.

So, gift yourself and use this time to practice following your own flow line as you navigate the white waters of this holiday season.

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • Do you find yourself getting sick during the holidays? (Note: the main cause is a weak immune system. Another major factor is the stress of dealing with our families.)
  • What stresses you during the holidays?
  • Are you attached to how folks react to the gifts you give them? If so, why?
  • Do you tend to overeat or over-do during the holidays? If so, do you ever consider if you overeat or over-engage in too much activity to fill some type of emotional hole?
  • Are you really, really happy during the holidays? How can you tell?
  • Do you take time for, and care of, yourself during the holidays? If not, why not?
  • What are you doing differently this year to reduce stress during the holidays?
  • Who’s driving your holiday activities? You, your friends, your family, others? If it’s not you, why not? How do you feel about having others dictate how you spend your holiday time?
  • What were the holidays like for you when you were growing up?

————————————————

(c) 2018, 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

quote.png

Are “Difficult” People Really Difficult?

difficult-people.png

Speaker pageFacebook Page, Becoming a Better You book page

If you Google “difficult people,” you get 3,060,000 hits; “difficult people at work,”188,000 and “working with difficult people,” 302,000 hits. Hmmm

There’s no question that in most every organization (including home and playground), we come face to face with folks who test our limits, who push our buttons, who frustrate, upset, antagonize and otherwise annoy us to where we just want to scream. We often refer to such folks as “difficult,” or irritating or rude – folks whom we just cannot work with or be with.

From my perspective, however, the question is not so much what makes them “difficult,” but what we tell ourselves about them that makes them difficult, that is, what is it in us that supports or triggers our reactivity. What are the stories and characterizations we tell ourselves about these others that bring us to label them as “difficult (e.g., S/he is so (fill in the blank with your negative judgment, criticism, or descriptor)” that categorizes them as difficult?”

When we inquire within, i.e., when we ask ourselves, “What is really, really, really ‘true’ about this person’s being difficult?”, experience suggests that it’s not so much that another’s behavior is all that egregious, outlandish, off the charts or aberrant. More often, it’s the story we tell ourselves about that person we take as real, a story we assume is true.

So, when we feel the urge to label another as “difficult,” a first step is to check out the reality of the story, my story, my “facts.” How so?

Here are three self-reflective questions to ask:

1. What is that person doing, or how are they being, that is problematical for me, that leads me to label them as “difficult?”

In other words, ask yourself “What are the observable and measurable behaviors that point to their being “difficult?”  Often, when we’re caught up in reactivity, or feeling flooded by our emotions, we lose sight of the observable facts and simply respond with a knee-jerk judgment along the lines of: “Well, it’s nothing specific. I can’t point to any one thing exactly, s/he’s just being an “a–hole.” Because we feel so attached to our story, we often fail to grasp the details that indicate the person is, in fact, difficult. So, ask yourself, “If someone gave me the same feedback (judgment) I am directing to that other person, would I know exactly how to do, or be, differently? If not, you’re telling yourself a story and you’ll need to be clear on the facts.

2. Do you allow your story to cloud your view of that person?

When we create stories, we create a set of lenses or filters though we choose to view (judge?) that person. Or, another analogy – if I choose to believe another is lazy, then I turn the “radio dial” in my head to the station that features only “laziness” tunes and, as such, I’m always on the lookout for, listening for, ways that person is behaving that I can characterize as lazy, in order to prove the truth of my story.

If I choose to believe my boss is friendlier with a colleague and is ignoring, or rejecting, me and my work, then I turn my internal radio dial to pick up “rejection” tunes and look for, and listen for, incidents which support me to say, “See, there she goes again; she likes that other person and is not concerned with me or my work.”

The point is, we consciously or unconsciously create distortions that support us to prove “I am right,” that “my story” is true. We look to internalize/save lots of evidence to prove our story. We don’t stand back and ask ourselves, “Is this the whole story?” “Is my story, really, really the truth?” “Is there any chance I’m distorting things just a bit?” In fact, “Is this person, perhaps, not the ‘worst person’ in the world I make him or her out to be?” “Could I be mistaken?”

3. Do you behave a certain way toward that person based on your story?

The bottom line is that our stories influence our behavior (at work, at home, at play in just about all of our relationships). Our stories (and their attendant beliefs, thoughts, assumptions, preconceptions, misperceptions, etc.) trigger our emotions and feelings and it is our emotions and feelings that drive our behavior (often unconsciously) towards the other.

So, its important to take steps to become “conscious” of our stories. Two questions can help in this inquiry: “How am I behaving toward another based on my story?” And, “Am I building a case against another, or attempting to solidify a case against another, based on my story?”

A next step is to become curious as to whether, in fact, I am perpetuating another’s behavior as a result of my story. Am I contributing to that other persons being “difficult” through my story and reactivity?

Yes, there are “difficult” people in the world. The question is whether some of these folks are really “difficult” in and of themselves or whether I am a major contributing factor to their being ‘”difficult” through my story, and, more sincerely, honestly, and self-responsibly, how do I know the difference.

Finally, I invite you to reflect on the following thoughts that might inform your inquiry into “difficult” people and your stories about them:

Everyone is in “chapter three” of their life and often we base our criticisms and judgments of another on the assumption we know what went on in “chapter one” and “chapter two.” Truth is, we don’t know. This approach can often support us to be less judgmental and give the other the benefit of the doubt and, thus, be more open, accepting, understanding and compassionate in the way we relate to others when we, initially, want to judge them as “difficult.”

No one (read: no one) ever gets up in the morning and says, “I’m going to be a jerk today.” Maybe pause, take a few deep breaths, feel into your arising reactivity (mental, emotional, physiological) and ask yourself why this well-meaning, decent person would choose to behave in a “difficult” manner. Be curious. Breathe again. And see if you still feel as reactive. If you do, be curious as to why. What does being reactive get you?

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • How do you generally react at work (at home and at play) when you come across a “difficult” person?
  • Do you ever give a “difficult” person the benefit of the doubt? If not, why not?
  • Do you ever make judgments about folks assuming you know all about them (chapters one and two) and what makes them “tick”?
  • Have you ever been the “difficult” person? How so? If so, how does acknowledging this make you feel?
  • Have you ever asked colleagues, bosses, friends, spouse/partner or child(ren) if you’re a difficult person? If not, would you? If not, why not?
  • Have you even been judged harshly or unfairly? How did you feel?
  • Have you ever been told you were quick to judge?
  • Do you ever make up stories about people? How do your stories support you or make you feel?
  • Do you ever feel compassionate towards “difficult” people? Do you ever defend “difficult” people?
  • Do you ever justify your own “difficult” behavior while admonishing others for behaving in the same “difficult” way? What’s the difference?
  • When the choice is between seeing another as a human being or a villain (“difficult”), which do you normally choose? Why?
  • What one or two baby steps might you take this week and next to discern the facts about someone you might have labeled as “difficult” to see if your “story” is really, really, the “truth?”
  • How did you parents or primary caregivers view “difficult” people when you were growing up?

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(c) 2018, 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

LUI – Living Under the Influence

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Most everyone understands DUI – driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or being influenced by a drug-induced capacity. We are well aware of the real and potential consequences for one who is driving under the influence as well as for those who are potential victims of the driver.

But what about living under the influence? How many of us live our day-to-day lives – at work, at home , at play and in relationship – under the influence?”

“What influence?,” you might ask.

Well, there’s influence and there’s influence

The usual suspects

Well, there is the influence of illegal drugs, legal drugs like prescription drugs and alcohol. These influence some, not all, of the addicts in our midst. Most often, these folks are “functioning” addicts – those who manage to pursue a career, get to work on time every day, pay their bills, be married and raise and care for their children, and do everything that society views as moral.

The deal with functioning addicts is they show up but how well they handle the functions of their roles – inside and outside of work – is the curiosity. In addition, is the fact that while the functioning addict might be “handling the outside” aspects of their life, there’s no doubt their “inside” is suffering and, perhaps, even dying – in their body, their mind and their spirit. Interestingly, the reasons they “use” are the same as for the “unusual” suspects.

The unusual suspects

So, who are those who never touch legal or illegal drugs or alcohol, but still are living life under the influence? And, what influence?

Influencers take many forms for the addicted: food (sugar, chocolate, caffeine, energy drinks, salt, or fast food, etc.), activities (work, sex, exercise, meditation, watching TV, sleeping, reading, shopping, computer games or social networking, etc.) and thinking (ruminating, telling stories, fantasizing, or daydreaming, etc.). These influencers reduce or eliminate the capacity for one to be real and authentic, and instead serve to support one to live life as a fake, or unauthentic shell, of one’s True and Real Self.

These influencers allow us to experience a type of escape from the harsh, challenging realities of life. Escape is easily experienced when induced by drugs, alcohol, food, TV, overwork, over exercising, fantasizing, and the other influencers.

Escape – denial and withdrawal

The single, solitary fundamental reason folks narcotize, numb or medicate themselves is this: they are uncomfortable with their immediate experience – physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, psychological, social, financial, etc. – and want or need an escape.

Even those who protest, for example, “I only drink when I go out so I can enjoy myself and have fun” or “I can’t relax unless I get to the gym and exercise intensely for three hours” or “I watch TV so I don’t have to think about my life” or “I need sugar and caffeine to stay alert at work.”  All of these can be translated as, “I can cope better if I’m living under the influence.” The reverse is the reality: unless I am under the influence, I can’t experience fun, joy, happiness, aliveness, or well-being and just be myself.

Why do we choose to be influenced?

Escape is the motivation. All of life poses challenges and obstacles – all of life. Many folks resist the pain and suffering of their life’s challenges and obstacles. They resist the tensions which cause the average person concern, worry, sadness, fear or anger as a fact of life. Not wanting to, or being able to, experience what they don’t like – their discomfort – they seek to balance it, or remove it, i.e., numb and medicate themselves from their experience with something that in the moment seems “pleasurable.” Their need to avoid is the basis for behaviors such as greed, pleasure seeking or escape (motives which, in themselves, can offer an insight as to what we are avoiding). The thought is that if I deny what I’m feeling then somehow I will have a different or better life, or different or better experience in this moment, a different or better “me.”

Influencers are a wake-up call

In essence, influencers are a call for connection – connection to our authentic self, our True and Real Self. Unfortunately, these substitutes are anything but a connection to our Inner Self. Contrary to popular thinking or wishing, there is no way that influencers can give us an authentic experience of ourselves, or give others an authentic experience of who we are.

The antidote to influence

The antidote to influencers is taking an honest look at what we’re trying to avoid and to explore what we’re resisting with honesty, sincerity, self-responsibility, humility, self-respect, dignity, and  openness.

Only by exploring and moving through the discomfort, absent the influencers, can we evolve and transform as a human being, in the same fashion that a seed needs to struggle through its hard shell to evolve into a flower, the caterpillar into the butterfly.

Frequently, our happiness is dependent upon the fulfillment of our desires – to be smarter, prettier, more spiritual, more loving, more relaxed, thinner, funnier, healthier, sexier, a better manager, secretary, wife, parent, lover, sportsman or woman, etc.

When we are attached to our needs to be bigger, better, faster, etc., we are controlled by them and in their control, we almost always feel “less than” in some way, shape or form. So, we reach out for the influencer to avoid experiencing our discomfort, our feelings and our emotions.

Influencers serve to make us feel good for a while. Mind drugs and other influencers anesthetize us temporarily from the pain of separation from our True and Real Self. When the influencer wears off, upon re-entry into our real life, we are back where we started and we find ourselves back in reality. The short-lived euphoria is rudely interrupted by life – and our challenges are still there. Only the “real thing.” i.e., the True, Real and Authentic “me” can heal our pain or discomfort.

Influencers impact our nervous system – creating artificial cravings, confusion about what we truly want, ping-ponging us from uppers to downers, over-stimulation and under-stimulation, and adversely affecting our psycho-socio-emotional well-be-ing.

How can we show up, real and authentic, when living under the influence? We can’t. Rather we live from a place of abuse, violence, fear, confusion, and overwhelm, having no clear idea of “who I am.”

When we resist allowing our emotional body to nurture us, to feed us, to enlighten us, we experience discontent, discomfort, dis-ease and despair. And so we try to satisfy this discomfort with our addictions. We’ll continue to experience discomfort until we face it head on. Until we do, our addictions to our influencers will continue to grow – more drugs, food, alcohol, work, TV, spending, sleeping. It’s a no-way-out proposition.

Influencers, and our desperate need for them, will never bring a true sense of well-be-ing, love and peace – never. Only by confronting our discomfort, going deep into our self can we find the space where angels reside. Escaping and losing the connection with our mind, body and spirit, only leads to greater and greater repressed insecurity and becomes our preferred mode of operation when we live under the influence.

Living under the influence is a dead end. The good news is that a dead end is the best place to turn around.

So, some questions for self-reflection:

  • What self-images, or materialistic wants and needs are you attached to that cause you suffering or restrict you in some way?
  • What are your “influencers of choice?”
  • What was life like around “influencers” when you were growing up – for you, your parents and your friends?
  • Who or what are you consistently trying to escape from?
  • When are you most uncomfortable with yourself? Why?
  • How do you feel when your influencers are unavailable?
  • What one or two small steps could you take to wean yourself away from your influencers?
  • Can you envision a world where you can be yourself without any need for influencers? How do you feel when you consider this idea?

 

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(c) 2018, 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

Pointing Fingers

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Speaker pageFacebook Page, Becoming a Better You book page

Hardly a day has gone by in 2018 that newspapers, magazines, TV talk shows, and workplace water cooler conversation has not included mention of individuals in business, entertainment, sports, government, education, health and medicine……- who have been accused of actions that are either immoral or unethical, but folks who maintain that “I have done nothing illegal.” There seems to be no end to the line of folks who wait their turn to point their accusatory finger at others behaving badly.

The common refrain of each of these folks who has been caught behaving badly, unethically, has generally concocted a “story” that allows them to rationalize and justify their immoral or unethical behavior – a story each uses to absolve themselves of blame or guilt so they can create their own so-called truth rather than own their inappropriate behavior. Thus, their “I did nothing illegal” story or some flavor of it is simply a ploy to evade self-responsibility.

However, there’s something more here in the groundswell of the masses who are so quick to judge others. What is not being “outed” among this list of folks who aggressively assert their “legal non-guilt” in order to mask their unethical behavior is that this list of evil-doers does not include another individual, and that is “Everyman” – you and me.

From the boardroom on the 52nd floor to the mail room in the basement, and on every floor in between, there is a “me” – someone who has not taken the moral high ground, someone whose moral compass does not point north, someone who has driven off the high road – someone who has their own “story” to justify their unethical, illegal or immoral behavior.

When we point our accusatory finger at someone else, there are three fingers pointing back to “me.”

When I read the daily listing of well-known perpetrators who are behaving immorally and unethically, my gut is to include “everyman” – those among us who are not well-known, famous or infamous, but who are behaving badly nevertheless.

For example, folks who steal supplies from the office, pens and towels from hotels, cheat on their income taxes, call in sick when they aren’t, spend company time surfing the Internet, refuse to pay vendors with trumped-up “excuses,” bilk clients out of more fees than they deserve, “borrow” intellectual property, keep two sets of books at home. Each of these has their “story” (“I’ve done nothing illegal”) which they tell to rationalize and justify their inappropriate behavior, behavior that is no more or no less egregious than the “big-shots” who appear in daily newscasts.

If one person steals 50 billion dollars while a number of non-notorious individuals find ways, for example, to steal small amounts which, over time, whose collective thefts add up to substantial amounts of money, they are no less culpable. Their low road, or moral compass is no less “off” than the “named” personalities. It’s not the “amount.” It’s the behavior.

And those who say this is an “apples-oranges” comparison need to question their own thought-process, i.e, their own “story” about why they need to think that way, separating themselves from those who are behaving badly.

The point here is that these “big fish” were at one time “small fish.” When did the inappropriate behaviors they exhibited on the way up begin and how did the degree of inappropriateness increase? Taking their first drink, the alcoholic never dreams of becoming an alcoholic. Eating a first dish of ice cream, the slim never dreamed of becoming obese. Making an initial furtive glance, the innocent never envisioned having an affair. But they all have their “stories” that rationalize a next drink, a next dish of ice cream and a next glance – and more. The way one stolen pen, or dollar, or idea or kiss leads to major acts that are immoral or unethical, perhaps not “illegal.”

So, what are our stories, and how did we come to create them in order to justify our immoral and unethical behavior?

So, while we point the accusatory finger at these others, at the same time it’s important that we muster the courage and strength to explore “me” – at whom we are pointing the other three fingers. What about me?

Integrity is not a cloak we put on and take off when convenient. On – only when I accuse others; off – when I need to cut myself a little “integrity slack” in order to justify why I lie, cheat or steal. Integrity is like being pregnant. Either one is or one isn’t. There’s no such thing a being “a little bit pregnant,” or “a bit less in integrity.”

Many of us are quick to judge and criticize others who act without integrity, without ethics, without morality. But many of us are just as prone to separate from our core values when it’s convenient. The question is: “Why?” What does acting out of integrity get me and what is the truth, the real truth about “my story” (my hypocrisy) I use to rationalize or justify my unethical or immoral behavior? Why am I so quick to point the accusatory finger at others but turn a blind eye to my own unethical behavior?

No single snowflake ever wants to be responsible for the avalanche. Many of us are those snowflakes that contribute to the avalanche of blue- and white-collar crimes and misdemeanors and unethical behavior we are facing in this country. It’s not others who lack inner moral compasses and choose the load road. As Pogo, said, “We have met the enemy and he is us” – i.e., you and me.

Perhaps while standing on line waiting to accuse, we might take a moment and reflect on our own ethics and morality in how we are dealing with others.

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • Do you have a “story” you use to absolve yourself from guilt, shame or blame when you act out of integrity? How does your story make you feel?
  • How do you feel when others who have acted immorally or unethically but not “illegally” state their rationalization or justification?
  • Who or what usually takes you out of integrity? How so?
  • Does it ever bother you when you are out of integrity? How do you deal with the “bother?”
  • Do you use the same definition to define integrity, ethics or morality for yourself and for others? If not, why not?
  • How do you respond when others’ unethical acts affect you?
  • What was your experience around unethical or immoral behavior as you were growing up? How did these experiences make you feel?
  • Can you envision a life where you never act immorally, unethically or out of integrity? What would that be like?

——————————————-———-
(c) 2018, 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