No Mud, No Lotus

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Over the years, I’ve become a devout believer in the notion of necessary suffering – that you cannot heal, grow or become “conscious,” and deeply self-aware, without suffering.

Thich Nhat Hahn, Buddhist monk and author, puts it this way:

It’s like growing lotus flowers. You cannot grow lotus flowers on marble. You have to grow them on the mud. Without mud, you cannot have a lotus flower. Without suffering, you have no ways in order to learn how to be understanding and compassionate. That’s why my definition of the kingdom of God is not a place where suffering is not, where there is no suffering…”

For me, it’s not a question of whether you believe in God (Source, Spirit or whatever you call a higher power), nor is it about religion or theology. It is about how one transforms to a higher state of self-awareness and consciousness (one’s True, Authentic Self) so that one can walk the planet on a daily basis from a place of equilibrium, inner peace and equanimity.

The Buddha says:

As a blue or white lotus is born in the water,
grows up and is unpolluted by the water,
so too has the perfected one grown up in the world,
has risen above the world
and stands unpolluted by it. – samyutta nikaya 22.94

The science of it all
The reason the Lotus flower is not polluted is due to its leaves. The leaves represent what is known as the “Lotus effect” – the leaves are so structured that water beads up and off the leaves, keeping the flower from being polluted. In fact, the leaves clean the lotus of real or potential pollution.

The science, according to Wikipedia, is:  “…due to their high surface tension water droplets tend to minimize their surface trying to achieve a spherical shape. On contact with a surface, adhesion forces result in wetting of the surface: either complete or incomplete wetting may occur depending on the structure of the surface and the fluid tension of the droplet.” The cause of self-cleaning properties is the hydrophobic water-repellent double structure of the surface.

The nature of pollution
So, consider your life – at work, at home, ay play and in relationship. Are you confronted by “suffering” in some way, shape or form daily? Better, how are you confronted by suffering on a daily basis? Most of us are. How is it that we can manage to NOT be immersed by the polluted waters – literally and figuratively – of the context of our past and immediate environments?

The fact is each one of us grows up immersed in the “mud” – an environment characterized by wounding – abuse, criticism, judgments, abandonment, rejection and the like – an environment in which every family operates, into which every human being is born. It’s the human experience. The degree of suffering may differ; but the muddy environment is there. The mud also represents painful childhood memories. Later on in life, the mud represents our immediate, real-world, real-time “suffering” – mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually, and psychologically – that arises in the form of our life challenges – health, finances, social and living conditions, career, relationships, social life, finances, etc.

When we get in touch with our own suffering, head-on – recognizing it, being open to it, chewing on it, digesting it, understanding the purpose of it, metabolizing it, rather than denying and avoiding it, we grow, we become more conscious, self-aware. When this happens, suffering is still there, but the “charge” it used to have becomes less and less as we understand the reasons for the suffering, how it leads to our growth, our self-understanding and our healing. It’s the idea that you can have pain, but you don’t have to suffer.

The antidote to pollution
The growth of the Lotus, our individual Lotus, represents transformation – moving from suffering towards happiness, love, peace, and stillness in our life – at work, at home, at play and in relationship.

When we do the “work” to transform, we gain clarity, insights, AHA moments all of which point to the “purpose” of our suffering, our wounding, and our challenges. In the process of understanding, something shifts. Your attitudes, your responses, your perspective. Where your focus is more on your Lotus, less on the mud.

Understanding our own suffering, we can also begin to understand others – as well – the place from which love and compassion grow. Many of us resist getting in touch with our suffering. But, when we do get in touch, we actually suffer less. We become the Lotus.

That’s the nature of the Lotus. That’s the nature of the mud.

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • Do you ever feel like a victim? If so, why? How does that show up in your life?
  • Has your suffering taught you anything/lessons? How so? What have you seen/learned?
  • What would it be like if you viewed your suffering as happening FOR you and not TO you?
  • Do you feel you are in control of your life? If not, why not?
  • Do you believe that change begins with you?
  • Do you tend to move away from your discomfort? If so, what might it be like to embrace it? How do you feel when you consider this option?
  • To what degree (1-10), on a daily basis, do you identify with the mud, with the Lotus?
  • How did you experience suffering as a child? Do you still carry scars of that suffering with you now? How so?

P.S. If you’re someone with a tendency to want/need to fix, save or otherwise rescue others from their suffering, the story of the butterfly and the cocoon is worth reading. You can find one of many versions here.
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(c) 2017, 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 Don’t Know

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So, can you remember a recent time you were in conversation with someone and said, openly and honestly, “I don’t know.”? And, felt completely at ease and at peace with “not knowing”?

Why we feel we need to know
In life — at work, at home, at play and in relationship — we’re expected to have certain capacities and competencies – i.e., “know-how.” Others often expect or depend on our ability to know how to have, be or do.

But, what happens inside us when facing a dilemma, a conundrum, a challenge or problem and we “just don’t know?”

In Western culture, it’s common to want (or need?) to “save face” and often when we feel challenged, we  conjure up the “appearance of knowing.” Why? In order to show we’re in control and be recognized for what we know. In our culture, we overemphasize how much we know. While we may feel that “not knowing” is unacceptable, the fact is we often just don’t know from time to time.  Isn’t that true?

Why “not knowing” puts us on the defensive
When we don’t know, we often move into an unconscious reactivity to “defend” ourselves in some way, shape or form — i.e., clinging to jargon, double-speak, techno-babble and the like to mask our unknowing, or we create a facade or fakeness about knowing — sometimes resorting to facts or figures to cloud an issue, or muddying already-murky waters — or we avoid, i.e., feigning “exclusion” or seeking allies to support our not knowing, or we blame someone else in order to deflect our discomfort, fear, insecurity or uncertainty. All of this to be in control and protect our fragile egos.

The benefit of not knowing
In Eastern, and other, cultures, “not knowing” is often seen as a self-supporting, personal-developmental practice that can actually bring one to be ever more effective in experiencing life. Welcoming a conflict or problem with a sense of “not knowing” can be an opportunity for creativity and insight, greater self-awareness. The darkness of the unknown supports us to access our inner strength, our inner wisdom and higher self. Asking positive — not-fear-based, reactive — questions from a place of curiosity can support us to overcome our fear, uncertainty, doubt or feelings of lack or deficiency.

Actually “not knowing” gives us an opportunity to consciously slow down, “take a deep breath,” delete our assumptions, misperceptions, misunderstandings, “stories” or expectations so we can be present in the moment, right here and right now, without the intensity, irritation and agitation to “get somewhere else,” to have an answer, to be right. “Not knowing” gives us an opportunity to relax into our body and mind, focus on the foreground and the background, to “see beyond our eyes,” to jettison “my knowledge” and be curious about what I don’t know. “Not knowing” is all about curiosity, the adventure of “finding out” from a place of “Hmmm, that’s interesting. I wonder what that’s all about.”

“Not knowing” is about “punctuation,” – i.e., more question marks and fewer periods. It’s about being inquisitive, not about ego, personality, blaming, judging or “being right.” When we “don’t know” we invite, we are open, we ask and observe, watch and listen. We slow down, settle and give up our need to be “the expert.” We allow life to unfold; we don’t “make” life unfold.

Rather than defending against “not knowing, we can relax into “not knowing” as a part of who we are, knowing that it’s a part of our everyday life and an opportunity to grow and learn something new about ourselves in the process.

So, Two sets of questions:

Questions that evolve from a place of “not knowing:

  • If there is a deeper reason for me to be here, what is it?
  • What’s important to me about this situation and why do I care?
  • What’s my intention here? What’s my deeper purpose – the “big why” – that is worthy of my best effort?
  • What stands in the way of my being fully present in this situation?
  • What draws me to this interaction?
  • How much does the first person who speaks set the tone for the ensuing conversation?
  • Can I by-pass some of the trust issues that normally keep me from opening up and moving into deep conversations?
  • Can I step into the unknown?
  • To what degree might it be possible for me to see the world/issue/problem through another’s eyes?
  • What am I hiding?
  • Do I give myself permission to be fully myself?
  • Does my “expertise” distract me from exploring the essence of the issue/question?
  • How comfortable am I with not knowing?
  • What would someone who had a very different set of beliefs than I do say about this situation?
  • What is missing from the picture so far? What am I not seeing? Where do I need more clarity?
  • What could happen that would enable me to feel fully engaged and energized in this situation?
  • What’s possible here and who cares about it?
  • How can I support others in taking the next steps? What unique contribution can I make?

and

Some Questions for Self-Reflection:

  • Is it OK to “not know”?
  • How do I feel when I “don’t know?”
  • What behavior(s) do I engage in when I “don’t know?” Do I ever “pretend” I do know? How so?
  • Do I ever see “beyond my eyes”? (observe what’s around you that you’ve never noticed before…e.g., a crack in the floor, color/shapes of plants in the office, another’s tone of voice, color of lights in the elevator, someone’s usual way of talking or their body-language, softness of the carpet in my living room, others’ email signatures, pictures in the taxi, store, etc..)?
  • What in life are you curious about? Have you explored further? How so?
  • Do you resist “not knowing?” If so, why?
  • What is one upcoming opportunity where you can practice “not knowing?”
  • What was always needing to “know” like for you and your family when you were growing up?
    —————————————————–
    (c) 2017, 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

Riding a Dead Horse

horse

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One of the basic requirements of all living organisms is our innate need to grow plants, animals, vegetables, humans and minerals, if you follow quantum physics research.

Moving at 90 miles an hour
These days, most of us are moving at 90 miles and hour encountering numerous people, places, circumstances and events, guided by to-do lists, held accountable to, and addicted to, electronic leashes, and burdened by overwhelm, stress, fogginess, and confusion.

I recall reading an article recently in which the author talked about how we can maximize our time and I was struck by the last “do and don’t” item on her list; simply, it stated: “And finally, when the horse dies, get off!”

What an interesting piece of advice! Blunt and to the point. So I thought I might tug on your sleeve as well and perhaps suggest taking a minute or two, right here, right now, to consider any dead horses you may be riding.

What’s a “Dead Horse?”
Dead horses are all of the shoulds and shouldn’ts that drive our lives. Often we’re completely unaware of them. These dead horses take the form of self-images that we think we need to live up to, beliefs, habits, “stories” and routines that run our lives; they show up as the relentless demands and expectations we make on ourselves. These dead horses are forever showing up in our jobs, in our lifestyles or in our relationships with friends, co-workers, spouses and partners. And yet, for no apparent reason, we continually find ourselves in states of regret, agitation, anger, irritation, frustration, resentment, defensiveness, sadness and depression as we continue to try and ride our dead horses.

What about you?
Perhaps right here and right now, you are spending precious time and energy trying to resuscitate your dead horses, painfully and frustratingly dragging them along into today, tonight, tomorrow, next week, next month and next year. We make ourselves believe that if we just try harder, keep on keeping on, these dead horses will come to life, better than ever. Or, well tell ourselves that if we are less demanding and more accepting, these dead horses will generate renewed energy and live to ride again.

Or perhaps, we wish, we hope, and we pray that a miracle will happen and our dead horses will suddenly become healthy so we can ride off into the sunset. Just like TV fantasies and fairy tales.

Maybe we’re rationalizing that our horse really isn’t dead; that all it needs is some good old R&R. So we reject our reality and distract ourselves from the truth of our situation. And after days, weeks, months and years of resisting, rejecting, and distracting ourselves, we’re still waiting for the dead horse to show some life, and so we wait, and wait, hope and pray…to no avail.

Then, too, there are those of us who try to convince ourselves that life will be grand if we just carry the horse like it will come out of its coma at some point. So, we just haul it around until life comes back into it. We think that if we nurture it, support it, and help it, it will resurrect. Denial.

Unfortunately, all the while, we do know, yet resist admitting, carrying a dead horse on our shoulders is very tiring, exhausting, debilitating, self-sabotaging and counter-productive.

So, as you contemplate your life right here and right now, this may be a wonderful opportunity to be curious about your dead horses. What are the issues you’re facing in your life at home, at work and at play? Are they the same as, or similar to, the dead horses you carried around in 2016, 2015, and/or 2014?

Consider your career, your work, your relationships, your health and appearance, your personal or spiritual development, fun, finances, or your personal space.

What denial looks like
Consider, perhaps, your lifestyle. Having set out with myriad good intentions, believing in what you thought was your vision or purpose, working hard and sacrificing along the way, becoming who you thought you should be, or perhaps even giving up what you wanted or who you wanted to be, telling yourself there’s no going back, no way to extricate yourself from your unhappiness, frustration, discomfort, or stuckness, are you telling yourself a story that if you just stick it out all will be well?

So, staying in denial, and with a false hope, we keep egging our horse(s) on.  We dig in our spurs, but move nowhere. Or, we’re stuck on a plastic horse on a merry-go-round, moving, always engaged in doing, going around in circles, but in reality, going nowhere. People who ride “dead horses” every day know what they have to do when they get up. But, they have no idea where they’re going.

At the end of the day, the bottom line is simply: when the horse dies, get off!

A year from today, your life will be different. Guaranteed, it will be different! Whether it is good different or bad different, is your choice. Much depends on whether the horses you’re riding are healthy, alive, juicy, energetic, purposeful, meaningful and positively supportive – or dead.

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • In what areas of your life are you disengaged right now?
  • What are you doing consistently at work or at home that does not support your performance, productivity or profitability, but keep doing it nevertheless?
  • Are you achieving your goals in your life at work, at home or at play? Do you consistently engage in beliefs, thoughts and actions that run counter to effective goal achievement? You do have goals, don’t you?
  • Many folks spend the first half of their life articulating what they’re going to do and the second half explaining why they couldn’t do it? Are you one of those folks?
  • Are you dying a slow death, lacking a vision, direction, meaning in your life, dying a slow death for something you’re not willing to die for?
  • What stories do you keep telling yourself, what “dead horses” do you keep trying to ride, that do not support a healthy life at work, or a healthy family life, or your health in general or your happiness or your friendships?
  • Are you impaired on your job or in your relationships because of a medical, emotional or psychological issue, a “dead horse,” that you refuse to resolve?
  • Will the “dead horses” you are currently riding end up taking you where you really, really, really want to go in your life?
  • Do your “dead horses” reflect the truth of who you really are, or are they carrying an imposter?
  • How much physical, emotional, mental and spiritual energy do you spend supporting or trying to resuscitate your” dead horses”?

(c) 2017, 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

The Truth About Change

caterpillar-emerging

Speaker pageFacebook Page, Becoming a Better You book page

You cannot stay the way you are and change the way you are. Every living organism has to change if it is to grow. That’s true for individual human beings, couples, teams, organizations or even entire societies. But what is it about the growth process that differentiates it from other kinds of processes?

Essentially, change means the letting go of the old and encouraging something new to develop. Something will become something else. We do not end up where we started. The end result is very different or completely different from what we started with.

The implications of change
Each of us has hopes and aspirations. We want to be happier, have a better job or relationship, be free from fear, have nicer things. We all have an agenda.

However, consider that change can also mean that our aims can change. The aims and aspirations you have now belong to the “you” you are now. So, if you change into a new you, that new person might not have the same aspirations or goals.

Of course, this means that if you hold onto those same aspirations and goals, you’ll be the same person. And that means no change, no transformation, no expansion and no growth.

If you honestly want to grow, you must be willing to become somebody who has different thoughts, ideas, beliefs, and experiences. You cannot stay the way you are and change the way you are. To change the way you are you have to become a different kind of creature.

Giving up “me”
Change means being willing to allow the old ideas and beliefs to die. You cannot change and still be the same.

One of my spiritual teachers uses the process of change that results in a butterfly to illustrate the notion of true and real change. The following is his take. I think it makes sense.

Growth stages
There are several stages in the growth of a butterfly. One of them is a larva which eventually develops and becomes a butterfly. This larva (you) small, big, yellow, black, whatever, says, “I want to grow,” and in your mind, growing means becoming a bigger, happier, more colorful larva.

You don’t think, “I’m going to be something totally different.” You don’t want to be something totally different. You want to be a bigger, more beautiful, more loving larva. It never occurs to you to be something other than a larva. The concept of butterfly never enters your head.

Here’s the problem. If the larva continues to be a larva as it grows, it will feel constricted. It’s getting bigger, it’s growing, but there is something definitely wrong. It keeps complaining, it goes to a therapist. The therapist helps it change a little here, a little there: “No, don’t eat those maple leaves. They will make your indigestion worse.”

It tries one doctor after another. It goes to a chiropractor to get its spine straightened. It goes to a masseuse to help it relax. But it never occurs to the larva that it’s not going to feel better as long as it continues to be a larva.

That’s how everybody actually thinks. Nobody thinks: “I’m a larva who’s going to be something else, something that I have no idea about at all now, and I can’t even think or say what this might be.” A larva can only think of larvae. A larva doesn’t think of butterflies. It sees butterflies around and thinks, “What interesting creatures. Where could they have come from?”

You have your preconceptions, and set of beliefs about change. Maybe you believe that if you grow, if you change, you’ll be more intelligent and have fewer problems and make more money and your stomach won’t hurt as much. Or maybe you believe that growth and change means you’ll be married and have two children, and two cats. And it will be perfect if you and your husband each have a dog. That’s the optimal growth.

So, this person starts working on herself, and after a while, she starts to see that having all those things might not be what growth is really about. So she says, “Okay, one cat, not two. One cat, two dogs, a husband and two children.” And, of course, a house someplace in the country and two vacations a year and continuous love from a few specified people.

If she works on herself for a while, she might be willing to let go of the two dogs. If she is seriously engaged, change she might eventually come to feel the love and security within her own self (essence), viewing the external “goodies” as desirable but not necessary to her contentment.

For your particular larva, changing might mean accepting two cats and a dog but no house in the country. Or you might find out that two cats and one dog won’t do, and you believe that to change you need to have three birds instead. These are examples of how we approach the wish for change with fixed ideas in our heads about what change means.

Perhaps as a child you were interested in machines. Eventually, you graduate from college with a degree in mechanical engineering and find work as an engineer. Maybe after a number of years working as an engineer, you need to become something else in order to grow. Maybe the best thing for you is to be a gardener.

But you say, “No, I have to grow and change and be a mechanical engineer at the same time. I am not going to let go of any of my cats. I’m going to continue to be a mechanical engineer with my two cats and my dog, and with my house, and everything else. Otherwise, I’m not interested.”

So, we see that the most elementary, most external requirement for growth is the willingness to let go of what you believe should happen, what you believe things should be, what you believe will make you happy. Because when you do change, you are no longer the person who thought you knew what you would change into. You will be a different person.

What a butterfly eats is not the same as what a larva eats. The needs of a larva are not the same as the needs of the butterfly. Maybe a larva needs two cats and a dog, and a butterfly does not. So there is a need for an attitude of allowing – allowing things to emerge, to transform – without anticipating how it should happen.

You can direct things only according to the way you are now. You can conceive of the future only according to the blueprints you already know. But real change means that the blueprint will change. The only thing you can do is to be open and allow things just to happen, to allow the butterfly to emerge inside you out of the larva and be a different being.

You might be amazed, saying, “Oh, all this time I thought I had to crawl faster. I didn’t know it was possible to fly.” It is possible to fly, but if you just want to remain a larva, you can learn to crawl a little faster. You can even learn to crawl sideways. But it will never occur to you that you can fly. You see things flying around, but don’t think of flying, because you haven’t got wings.

Usually the particular things you want and the ways you want to experience yourself, are determined by your self-image. Regardless of what you think the image is that you want for yourself or the way of life that you want, what it really means ultimately, if you look at it closely, is that you want particular things because they will give you certain inner sensations, feelings, or perceptions.

The “inside” experience
From the perspective of the inner experience, you want certain stimuli and inner sensations. You may think that you want a house, a dog and a cat, a particular job, so that you can feel a certain way – probably secure or comfortable or fulfilled. You want the inner experiences of the larva – inner stimulation and assurances that you recognize and that you see as a kind of nourishment.

But to allow transformation, you need to be open to the possibility that even what you want in terms of inner stimuli and sensations will change. The kinds of pleasure you valued so much before will not necessarily be relevant to the butterfly.

You might not know about this it happens. You might say, “If I’m going to change, I will feel loving. I will feel love and happiness.”

But maybe the love and happiness you want are not the same love and happiness that a butterfly would feel. Maybe the love and happiness of a butterfly are totally different from what your ideas are about it now.

So in order to change, you need to be willing to change everything about yourself – from your self-image and dreams of what you want all the way through to the things you value and your inner stimuli. Otherwise you’ll stop growing.

And you will discover after a while, after a long process of growth, that some of the deepest and most cherished inner sensations that you can have are the experiences of being yourself, the experience of your true identity.

Eliminating the barriers
The most important step in allowing the process of growth is to acknowledge that anything can happen. You don’t know what it will be. There is no way for you to know the next step. If you try to direct it in any way, you’re just going to stop it. You can only be what you are now and allow the next thing. After all, the core of life is a mystery.

When you experience change, don’t try to hold on to the experience or determine what direction it will take. You just experience it fully and that’s it. Your mind is open for anything to happen.

Of course, this requires a certain trust – a trust that there is such a thing as transformation, that it will be good, that it will be the best thing. Any pre-conceived ideas of how things are going to be will only act as a boundary. The way things are and the way our true nature works cannot be bounded that way.

This trust is not about trusting in anybody; it is not trusting any theory; it is not trusting any authority; it is trusting reality – trusting trust itself. And it will take time for this trust to mature and deepen because when we have more fear we tend not to trust, we tend to stick within our walls. But the more free from fear you become, the more willing you are to let go of those walls.

Learning to trust, embracing the attitude of “allowing,” is central to the process of development and growth. You can allow any possibility. Allowing has no restriction. It is the greatest freedom. It is a freedom that does not say it wants to be free from anything. It is a freedom that is just freedom, whether there is a wall or no wall.

[Source, Allowing, Diamond Heart Book 1, Elements of the Real in Man, A. H. Almaas, Diamond Books, Berkeley, CA, 1988]

Questions for self-reflection

  • So, what is change like for you these days? How so?
  • What beliefs do you associate with your own change?
  • What feelings/emotions do you associate with your own change?
  • What feelings/emotions are you resisting or avoiding around your own change? How so?
  • What is your experience with trust/trusting like for you?
  • What was trust/trusting like for you when you were growing up? How so?

—————————————————–
(c) 2017, 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

Why Is Gossip Such a Hard Habit to Quit?

gossip.pngSpeaker pageFacebook Page, Becoming a Better You book page

The term “workplace violence”, normally conjures up images of physical harm. But for me there’s another type of workplace violence that is just as, if not more, insidious, threatening and hurtful. That violence is verbal: workplace gossip.

I define gossip as the sort of language that results in another person experiencing pain, suffering or confusion, language that is used when that other person to whom it’s directed is not present.

Over the years, I’ve come across hundreds of workplace situations where gossip was seen as “business as usual,” part and parcel of the culture. And in many cases, the individuals involved would even claim to be “against” gossip. Hmmm.

Yet even after attending formal meetings to explore the “gossip issue,” or after sensitivity training sessions intended to reduce gossiping, or after organizational mandates that “no more gossiping will be tolerated” and even after individuals “signed the pledge” to speak openly and directly and to reduce the “gossip problem,” even after all this, a fair number of people who had apparently committed to change the culture continued to engage in gossiping.

So what is it with gossip? Why is it such a tough habit to quit?

Competing commitments
Consciously or unconsciously, most gossip is fear-based. So someone’s commitment not to gossip can be subsumed by fear, anxiety or concern about who they might become if they stopped gossiping.

For example, “If I were to stop gossiping,”

Who would I be then?
What would I do then (instead of gossiping)?
Would I no longer be “one of the guys/gals?” (the odd one out)
Would anyone still have lunch with me?
Would I lose my friends?
Would folks ostracize me as “spiritual” or some other pejorative?

People who gossip often have a disproportionate need to be seen, acknowledge, liked, wanted or accepted. They need others to feel comfortable around them, and so acquiesce when drawn into gossip. Why?

Gossiping is a protective mechanism
Stopping our self from talking about others can be very challenging, even painful. That’s because many of us have great difficulty being open and authentic or acknowledging our own vulnerability. So, instead, we focus outward.

Gossiping acts as a defense mechanism that diverts attention away from us. By putting the focus on someone else, it means we don’t have to disclose our own feelings or emotions or have to “open up” to others.

Gossiping then becomes a way of not having to reveal anything about ourselves. Most gossipers have lived life behind a mask, putting on false in order to face the world, always needing to protect themselves from showing their authenticity, their vulnerability. They feel frightened and threatened.

Do no harm
The commitment to quit gossiping is not simply a mental or intellectual choice. To behave authentically and sincerely requires an inner intention that emanates from a deep sense of integrity and real desire to do no harm in our lives.

Without this deep personal commitment, or if quitting gossip and doing no harm are perceived as policies or principles imposed on us from outside, gossipers often ten to fall off the gossip wagon. Simply making a mental choice to quit gossip isn’t enough. Like other addictions, it’s not just a mind-over-matter equation. So, at the end of the day (and throughout the day), the commitment not to gossip often dissipates rather quickly.

It’s an inside-out proposition
Unless we’re aware of the nature of our perceptions, our orientation to the world and the people in it, the nature of our judgments of others and the underlying nature of our emotions, we’ll be challenged to resist the urge to gossip.

To free ourselves from the pernicious and insidious effects of gossiping and to free ourselves from inflicting harm upon others, we need to explore and heal the split between our outer and inner selves. Only then can we live honest, sincere and gossip-free lives.

Some Questions for Self-Reflection:   

  • Why do I engage in gossiping or support others who do?
  • What does gossiping get me? How so?
  • Is there another way to get the same result without harming others?
  • Does gossiping align with my personal values around respecting others?
  • Would I repeat gossip I hear or generate directly to the person it’s about?
  • Would I want to be quoted on TV or in the company newsletter?
  • Would I encourage my children to gossip?
  • Would I engage in gossiping it if it were about a relative or personal friend?
  • Am I expressing my authenticity and integrity when I gossip?
  • Do I feel ethical when I’m gossiping? Do I care?
  • Have I ever been the target of gossip? What was that like?
  • What was my experience around gossip when I was growing up?
    —————————————————–
    (c) 2017, 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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In my mind, 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. The follow-up in both the short- and long-term is to check that the message has gotten through and that appropriate behavior is now “business as usual” — and if it isn’t, ensure that the consequences are severe.

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 (mentally, physically, emotionally or psychologically), or, perhaps, even the loss of their job.

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 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’ 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?”

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?
  • 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 are 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) 2017, 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

When Someone Hits a Raw Nerve

ouch

Speaker pageFacebook Page, Becoming a Better You book page

We all know the feeling. You’re in the middle of a conversation – pleasant, collegial, or perhaps serious, but respectful – when all of a sudden, it goes south. Someone hit a nerve.

Everyone has these experiences where, when a nerve is touched, a reaction is triggered. We become vulnerable.

Most of the time, these experiences are not overly sensitive. Even though we do react when triggered, our reaction is but fleeting. But we all have at least one or two places where the rawness is a 10 on a scale of 1-10. OUCH!

Why the ouch?
Psycho-emotionally, our reactivity is most often due to our feeling of being ignored (abandoned, unseen, unheard, dismissed and the like) in some way, shape or form. This reactivity is based on some experience in our past and this earlier “wounding” now leaks out (the OUCH!) when someone in our present life touches that same nerve.

It might be that your boss ignores you when you’re speaking and want their attention. Or someone chooses to check their phone in the midst of the conversation. Or your partner doesn’t compliment you on the good job you did. Your reaction in these situations is directly related to those times you were ignored or dismissed as a young child and these sensitivities leak out whenever we feel unseen, unheard and unsupported.

What’s interesting, and important, is many of us have become numb to the raw spots we have. What we are aware of more commonly is our reactivity — our shutting down, lashing out, moving away (emotionally, verbally or literally) sadness, or fear.

So we’re all walking around with raw nerves and we engage in this dynamic of rubbing up against one other’s raw spots — unintentionally and unaware, triggering one another over and over with these destructive interpersonal dynamics.

What’s really happening?
When one hits another’s raw nerve, or feels the sting of one’s own nerve being rubbed against, there is a palpable change in “energy.” One or both go “cold,” or shut down in some way. And, one or the other’s reaction is way out of proportion. One may know what just happened and the other hasn’t a clue. “Where did that come from?!” “What just happened here?” we ask, openly or silently. What’s happening is that needs are being ignored and anger and/or fear take over.

The process, which takes place in the blink of an eye, goes like this:

1. We’re triggered by a word, glance, tone of voice, or a new/different emotional tone, etc., which takes over and says, “watch out!”;

2. We have a “somatic” response — feeling of nausea, dizziness, tenseness, tightness, heat or cold, increased heart rate, shallow breathing, increased blood pressure, etc.;

3. Our “mind” tries to make sense of our physiological reactivity and we “move” — toward, away from or against the other — i.e., anger leads to “fight;” shame leads to “flight” (shut down, withdraw, leave); sadness leads us to “let go; etc.”

The antidote to “ouch!”
The way to regain balance, harmony and self-control, and move towards equanimity is to take time, a lot of “conscious” time, to explore what throws us “off” — when we, all of a sudden, feel unsafe, unheard or unseen, leading us to become reactive. Ask yourself:

  • What did the other say or do that triggered my reaction?
  • What sensations did I experience in my body (not only what do I think)?
  • Does this physiological sensation help me to name my experience (a metaphor, for example—I felt like…)?
  • What is my inner dialogue when my being triggered happens? What’s the meaning I come up with?
  • Then, what did I do? What action did I take?

Then, think about your history. Did you experience this raw spot when you were young — with your parents or primary caregivers, siblings, teachers, peers, or others, as you were growing up? Can you see this person from your past now “inside” or as an overlay on the current person who is triggering you? Does the person who is currently triggering you see, i.e., know of, this raw spot of yours?

And, on the other hand, when the roles are reversed, do you know of the other’s raw spots and what you do to irritate them? Have you ever shared this with the other? Or they with you?

The antidote to coming up against others’ raw spots is to be aware of your own raw spots and those of others, share these with those others in a way that allows you to feel safe, yet honest and self-responsible, and then choose behaviors that keep you from behaving in negative ways.

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • Have you recently experienced hitting another’s raw nerve, or having someone trigger yours? What was that like? Did you resolve it?
  • Have you ever shared your triggers with another — at work, at home, at play in relationship? What was that like for you? For the other?
  • What’s it like for you to experience your vulnerability? Do you ever talk about your deepest fears? What is that like — if you do; if you don’t?
  • Do you ever trigger another willfully to upset them? What does this get you?
  • How did you learn of your triggers? As you look back on your youth, do you see where those around you triggered you?
  • Are you in any relationship where if you weren’t arguing you’d have no communication at all? What’s that like for you?
  • If you look back at your history in relationship, has triggering been a common occurrence? Is it still? Is it OK?
  • What was happening in that moment?
  • What was it (the specific cue-name it) that triggered me?
  • What was it I was feeling (name the feeling, not what you “think”) in the exact moment I was triggered?

—————————————————–
(c) 2017, 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

You Know Best

Picture1

 

Speaker pageFacebook Page, Becoming a Better You book page

No-one else knows what’s best for us. And, conversely, we don’t know what’s best for others. So our job, our responsibility is to determine what’s best for ourselves.

“I know exactly what you need.” I know what you should do.” I have the answer for you.” I don’t think you should do this.” “This is what you should be working on, focusing on, or pursuing right now.”

Being disrespectful
Each of these statements is bold, presumptuous, disrespectful and discourteous. These statements (or beliefs, as they often are) separate us from how we operate from a spiritual perspective in all aspects of lives, be it at work, at home and in relationship. Each of us has the ability and capacity to be able to discern our own path and our own way forward through our lives. This is not always easy. Life is often about the struggle and effort that’s sometimes requires us to go inside and rest in this quiet, still place of discovery, the place of right knowing, right understanding and right action.

Advising others, educating others, making decisions for them, plotting and planning their journey and crafting their strategy for moving forward, is not our responsibility, nor should it be. Nor is it their responsibility to direct our journey, to find out path for us.

Self-responsibility
Even if you have some kind of “contract” with another — if they are a friend, relative, coach, or counselor — they don’t know what’s best for us, nor should we trust or expect that they do.

Each of us is responsible for listening to the information that comes to us. It is also our responsibility to consciously sift through and sort out that information, and then “go inside” to weigh the merits of that information, to discern what we think and feel is best for us. Nobody can know that but each of us in our own way.

The way we can support, honor and respect others is to trust that they have their own internal guidance system, their own internal source of wisdom and their own internal capacity to discern what is in their best and highest good and interest, and that they will discover their path through trial and error — living life.

And us? To trust that we, each of us, through discovery in this moment, and the next moment, and the next moment — through the process of living life, making mistakes, taking wrong turns, stumbling and getting up – is the greatest gift we can give ourselves.

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • Do you depend on others to make life choices for you — at work, at home, at play or in relationship? If so, do you know why?
  • Do others rely on you to make life choices and decisions for them? And do you? Why?
  • Is carving out your life’s path fearful, shaky? How so? Does the fear stop you? If so, why?
  • What have you learned about yourself while discovering your own path?
  • How/what did your parents or primary caregivers teach you about depending on them or others for support?
  • Have you even been in a co-dependent (needy) relationship with another — parent, sibling, spouse or partner, coach, counsellor or religious or spiritual guide? What was/is that like for you? What does/did it get you?
  • Do you take time for journaling, reflecting or contemplation on a regular basis? Do you ever practice presence or mindfulness?
  • What’s it like for you to sit in stillness or silence?
  • How do you access your inner guidance or wisdom? Do you believe you have the capacity for inner guidance or wisdom? Do you trust your gut? When do you…when don’t you?

———————————————————–

(c) 2017, 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

Does Self-Help, Help?

self-help

Speaker pageFacebook Page, Becoming a Better You book page

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 that I mean the type of change that sees the ‘old you’ die and a ‘new you’ born, that means you’re not the person you used to be, that people you used to know wouldn’t recognize who you are now

Positive thinking, affirmations, willpower, chants, praying, meditating and reading 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. But real transformation requires a conscious connection with your higher self, not just your intellect – it can’t be realized by thinking and doing alone. It requires the work on a deeper level that you experience when dealing 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. 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, doing this 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?”

 

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(c) 2017, 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.

author hel.jpg

Speaker pageFacebook Page, Becoming a Better You book page

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 – either in the here and now or from a distance? 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 the 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 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 – ever. 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 of your own.

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) 2017, 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