Questions for Self-Reflection

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A prudent question is one-half of wisdom.” – Francis Bacon

I receive a fair amount of feedback on my weekly “food for thought” readings — it’s usually in response to the reading itself, but not always. Sometimes, folks respond to the list of “questions for self-reflection” following the reading. These latter comments can take the tone of: “interesting,” “different,” or “provocative.” However, from time to time someone comments that some these questions make them feel uncomfortable. It’s to these commenters that I reply, “Good!” Why do I respond this way?

Fundamentally, no true and real growth or lasting change can take place while one is in their comfort zone. For true and real change to happen, one needs to experience discomfort in some way, shape or form – a discomfort that awakens them to an “Oh, this is me and I never saw or felt this part of my self before”-type of experience – an AHA moment, an intuition, a “seeing, ” knowing or discovery. And, the process of seeing, knowing and discovering can often be uncomfortable, even painful (physically, emotionally, psychologically, and/or spiritually). But, change does not usually arise without it. Change is about becoming comfortable with your discomfort.

The beauty of self-reflective questions is they draw us out — support us to go deeper and deeper inside (if we choose) to see what our truth is below the surface — and it’s not always a welcome sight. Self-reflective questions introduce us to the parts of us that are unfamiliar — parts that live in our subconscious and in our intuitive self — parts that need to be seen, acknowledged and explored if we choose to experience true and real change and transformation.

A while back, I came across a book that blew me away – a book with questions. It’s called If — Questions for the Game of Life and is authored by Evelyn McFarlane and James Saywell. (I have no connection with these folks in any way.)

So this week, rather than writing my usual pieceand, and my “questions for self-reflection,” I want to offer you 20 self-reflection questions from their book. See where they take you, and enjoy the journey.

(Hint: once your initial, perhaps even knee-jerk, response comes up, consider taking some additional time – self-reflection time – to see if that’s really, really your final answer, i.e, the truth Maybe even ask yourself each question a number of times). Here they are:

1.If you found out for certain there was a Heaven and a Hell, how would you change your life?

2.If you had to name the one most important ingredient of human beauty, what would you say it is?

3.If you could rid your family of one thing, what would you choose?

4.If you were to prescribe a cure for grief, what would it entail?

5.If you were to select a moment when you were convinced an angel was watching over you, when would it have been?

6.If you could have had one person in your life be more candid with you than they were (or are) who would it be?

7.If you were going to die in ten minutes and could confess only one thing in order to pass with peace of mind, what would you say?

8.If you could change one thing about the way you were disciplined as a child, what would you alter?

9.If you had to eliminate one emotion from your life, which would it be?

10.If you could stop loving someone, who would it be?

11.In retrospect, if you cold have been nicer to one person in your life, who would it be?

12.If you could free yourself from one burden in your life, what would it be?

13.If you had to name the single most important thing in your life, what would it be?

14.If God were to whisper one thing in your ear, what would you like Him/Her to say?

15. If you could tell your mother or father one thing that you haven’t, what would it be?

16.If you could have your spouse(partner) say one thing about you to friends, what would you want him or her to say?

17.If you had to describe yourself as a child in one word, what would it be?

18.If you could go back in time and undo one injury you inflicted on someone else, what would it be?

19. If you could change one thing about your marriage (relationship), what would you alter?

20.If you could be emotionally closer to one member of your family, who would it be?

We accept many notions because they seem to be the logical answers to our questions. But have we asked the right questions?” – Harold L. Klawans

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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

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Regaining Inner Peace

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I’m going to suggest some ways to find, or regain, inner peace. But, before I do, here are some “symptoms” that can tug on our sleeve, indicating we have, in fact, lost our sense of inner peace.

1.    I move through my day rather frenetically, often inattentive of the activities in which I’m engaged.
2.    I discover, after the fact, emotions that were driving my thoughts, words or actions earlier.
3.    I’m continuously bumping into things, losing things, dropping things and being careless.
4.    I find it challenging to be focused on the present moment.
5.    I often feel “off,” “out of it,” or disoriented.
6.    When I’m walking, or headed to a meeting or other event, place or location, I’m more focused on getting there and unaware of my experiences along the way.
7.    I’m unaware of physiological sensations of tension or upset until they become overwhelming.
8.    I have lots of difficulty remembering people’s names when I meet them for the first time.
9.    I’m very “robotic” (unaware) in the way I have moved to my day.
10. I listen, but I don’t hear.
11. I spend a fair amount of my time during the day living in the past or the future.
12. I sometimes find myself doing something without being able to remember why I’m doing it.
13. I eat with a “mechanical hand” – food to mouth, food to mouth without really consciously engaging in my eating experience.
14. I sometimes have difficulty remembering what I read right after I read it.
15. The calm and balance I used to experience is now very elusive.

Stress

There’s no question stress is affecting many of us, and it seems to greater and greater degrees as we move forward in our lives – at work, at home, at play and in relationship.

Inner peace

The underlying theme running through inner peace is simply that “all is well with the world.” In this place, nothing or no one can sap our physical or psycho/emotional strength, make us angry, upset, jealous, fearful, sad, or the like.

The fact is, each one of us has access to inner peace – it’s inside us, it’s always been inside us. The question is, “What separates us from that inner peace?” So, to make it more personal, right here and right now, take a deep breath or two into your belly, relax as best you can, sense your feet on the floor and, if you’re sitting, sense your back against the chair and allow the chair to support you, and ask yourself this question, “What is separating me, right here and right now, from the inner peace that I know is inside me?”

Be open, allowing and accepting and seeing what arises – without judgment, without criticism. Just be curious. What comes up for you? Tell the truth.

In essence, inner peace is a state where you are separate from your thoughts. Simple. But, not easy, right? Inner peace is a state where we’re less externally focused and more internally focused. “Inside” is where peace, equanimity, calm, happiness, etc. rest – not “out there.” You cannot create externally what you want to experience internally. This bears repeating – you cannot create externally what you want to experience internally.

Letting go

What would it take for you to let go of the externals (people, places, circumstances, events – past, present and future) and “be” right here and right now?

It’s not about thinking

The challenge is, “thinking” can’t get us there. While the neo-cortex (thinking, rational, logical, executive) part of the brain is powerful, it alone cannot get us to the place where we experience inner peace.

Other ways in

Moving into the right brain (e.g., the insula) and into the body is what allows us to access inner peace. For many folks meditation is the way in. But, it’s not the only way. Many folks don’t have the discipline or desire to meditate. And, that’s OK. Research tells us there are many “real world” and practical ways to get there. Here are some:

-Smile and/or laugh
-Spend time with an animal
-Spend time in nature, watch the clouds; just look out your window and see what you see.
-Do something kind for someone (and it doesn’t have to be on the “quantum” level)
-Take a 30-second break at various times throughout your day to be by yourself and just breathe (no need to make anything happen – just breathe) or stretch (not “gym” stretching, but kind, gentle, relaxed stretching) and be curious.
-Look around the room (or area, if you outside) and name the objects you see – no agenda here, no making anything happen, no judgment, just name what you see, while breathing gently.
-Use “touch points” – at various times throughout the day. When you touch something, e.g., An eating utensil, a doorknob, a computer mouse, a toothbrush and the like, notice where you are, how you’re feeling and what you’re doing – without judgment or criticism. Just notice. And, breathe.
-Notice five things in your day that you take for granted – that go unnoticed or are unappreciated – and be curious what life would be like for you not to have these things, or notice their fine details, or notice how these things benefit you, etc. No judgment. And, breathe.
-Scan your body. Starting at the top of your head and moving down through your body, pay attention to the physical feelings and sensations. Don’t judge them as good or bad, don’t try to change them, just be aware of them. Be curious. And, breathe.

These practices can support you to access inner peace, feel more grounded and centered and create a harmonious sense of balance. See what you see, what you discover. Be curious.

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • Do you experience any of the 15 symptoms listed at the beginning of this article? If so, which ones and how often? What thoughts, feelings, and physiological sensations do you notice as you reflect on these symptoms?
  • On a scale of one (low) to 10 (high), how would you characterize your stress level on an average day?
  • Is stress causing you mental, physical, emotional, psychological or spiritual challenges? How so?
  • If you’re one who knows that you need to relax more, and you are either unable or unwilling to do so, what gets in the way? How so?
  • Do you wear “crazy-busy” as a merit badge?
  • On that 1-10 scale, above, how comfortable are you with being alone, spending time with yourself?
  • To what degree do you look for “externals” to bring you “internal” inner peace? How’s that working? Is it a sustainable process? Is it tiring or exhausting? Exhilarating?
  • Do you ever feel victimized by the world, e.g., people, places, events, circumstances…? How so?
  • Do you spend a fair amount of time living in the past, or in the future? How so? What does living in the past or the future get you?
  • Are you happy -really, really, really happy?

 

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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

Living with Opposites

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One of the qualities of a “mature individual” (not chronologically mature, but emotionally, psychologically and spiritually mature) is the ability to hold in consciousness, and reflect upon, polarities at the same time, e.g., “light and dark” together. Many refer to this state as enlightening — being in a state where one does not have to, or choose to, opt for one over the other and can entertain both polarities at the same time, without judgment, but with curiosity.

Living in a world of duality
At work, at home, at play and in relationship, we live in a world of duality: love/fear, right/wrong, negative/positive, doing/being, sickness/health, comfort/risk, inner/outer, self/others, powerful/powerless, safe/unsafe, etc.

For many at work, in particular, living with duality results in stress, overwhelm, and tension on a daily basis. Consider the tension some experience as they move back and forth on a continuum between:  under budget/over budget, team cooperation/team competition; employees who are continuous learners/employees who are on “cruise control,” open and honest communication/hoarding information; bosses who are supportive, servant leaders, compassionate and nurturing/bosses who are bullies and overbearing; meaningful work/dull, boring and routine work; latest software that fosters effectiveness/legacy software that fosters ineffectiveness; efficient processes and procedures/bureaucratic processes and red tape; integrity, honesty and transparency/phoniness, dishonesty and duplicity…the list of such continuums is endless.

Stress, overwhelm, upset, resistance, fear, resentment and regret surface when we want to experience only one end of the continuum and reject the other. Many live their lives at work (and at home, at play and in relationship) believing that one side is good or right and the other is bad or wrong. In the end, much of their pain and suffering (mental, physical, emotional, social and psychological) results when they view, and live life in, their world from this “right/wrong,” “good/bad” mindset or world view, All they create for themselves is continuous pain and suffering in some way, shape or form.

Being out of balance
When we put all our attention, and intention, on one end of any continuum of opposites, (it doesn’t matter which end), our energy is out of balance. Accepting only one side of a duality and rejecting the other does not lead us to wholeness.

IMPORTANT: This notion is NOT to suggest that one “needs to engage in and behave” according to one end of a continuum that one views as “negative, unethical, out of integrity, or self-sabotaging,” etc. IT IS about asking one’s self why this other end of the continuum is in one’s life experience, however. IT IS about asking one’s self “Why is this behavior, event, person or circumstance in my life?”

Why is this happening FOR me?
In other words, asking one’s self the all-important and powerful question, “Why is this experience happening FOR me?” ( instead of TO me, which simply allows one to engage in a reactive, victim consciousness and blaming mentality). Exploring that “other end” of the continuum from this deeper “FOR me” perspective can move one to a level of inquiry and self-reflection that takes into account one’s values, motives, life purpose, assumptions, preconceptions, “stories,” etc., and can lead one to conscious personal and professional growth and maturation by looking at how one chooses to respond to the person, event or behavior that is “dark, bad, or wrong…” Such an exploration can serve to support us to clarify our own values, and ways of thinking, be-ing and do-ing.

Life is Choices
For example, “Why do I choose to go along with unethical and illegal practices in my workplace?” Why do I choose to go along with bullying bosses and gossiping that is destroying morale?” “Why do I choose not to speak up about how I can improve processes and procedures?” “Why do I choose to accuse another of being fake and phony?” “Why do I choose to take credit for another’s work?” “Why do I chose to feel threatened, play small, be invisible and not allow my voice?” “Why do I choose to allow others to hoard information?” “Why do I choose to allow expenditures that are unnecessary?” “Why do I choose to allow others to be disengaged?” “Why do I choose not to ask others to be the change they want to see in others?” In essence, why do choose to point to so many others as being “wrong” or “bad?”

There’s no light without darkness
Many folks want to experience life from the “good/positive” side of the continuum only or try to live life with a “positive mental attitude”. The result for these many is more often that not an experience of struggle, frustration, resentment, and despair. Why? Because they are out of balance. There is no one end to a continuum and denying the other end is an exercise in futility. In our world of duality, any effort to focus all attention on the “light” only serves to increase the power of the “darkness.”

We cannot live a life of balance by clinging to just one side.

The antidote
So what is the solution? How do we work with the tension of the two ends of the continuum? How do we balance or resolve them?

The reality is that the contrast is important to experience. The contrast of the opposites gives each end its identity. We can’t know “hot” unless we also know “cold,” “dark” unless we experience “light,” “good” unless we experience “evil.”  The two ends need each other to make sense. Like the back and forth swing of a pendulum, our experience of duality must include both the positives and negatives, like love and fear, health and disease, joy and grief. We can’t swing in just one direction. To grow in consciousness and self-awareness, we must honor the integrity of both parts and seek the middle, higher path of experience and expression.

Both
A next step is to find a new perspective that allows one to understand (not agree with, necessarily), acknowledge and accept both extremes at once. From this perspective, we can see the role that both ends play, if we choose to. If we can let go of our mind’s need to accept one and reject the other, and the attendant opinions, assumptions, and judgments we have, (the ones we use to judge the other as “bad” and “wrong”), we’re more able to experience life as it is as opposed to what we want (or don’t want) it to be.

From this place, when we bring together two opposites into a higher understanding, we grow in consciousness, self-awareness, maturity and the ability to self-reflect. We learn to inquire into, be curious about, and explore why these elements are in our life, right here and right now (since there is no such thing as “circumstance”) and what these elements can teach us about our self, our values, our life, our choices.

We can inquire into these elements, the “other end”, and discover what life’s lessons they present FOR us. The result is learning how to move through the not-so-pleasant vicissitudes of life, and growing our self in the process, as opposed to living a life of overwhelm, stress and tension, always feeling like a victim, constantly blaming, finding fault, fearing, nagging, moaning, rejecting and denying.

No irritant, no pearl
The pearl in the oyster cannot arise without the grain of sand that serves as the irritant which spurs its growth. No irritant, no pearl. One may choose to judge the person or event that appears at the other end of a continuum as an irritant (i.e., bad, wrong, etc.) The important questions are (1) “Why?” and (2) “How is (are) it/she/they supporting me to see more about my self through my (emotional) reactivity, thus enhancing my growth?”

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • What bothers you (at work, home, play or in relationship)? Why? Why do you think this “irritant” is in your life right now?
  • How are you choosing to deal with this irritant?
  • Why do you think reasonable, rational and decent people do things that annoy you? (Or, do you feel everyone who annoys you is unreasonable, irrational and not decent?”)
  • What are the real issues that cause you to react to the end of the continuum that you see as “bad” or wrong?” Why do you think these people, events or circumstances are in your life?” To simply allow you to get mad, angry and reactive? If there were a deeper purpose, what would it be?
  • When you see the other end of the continuum as “the problem,” that thought of yours alone is the problem. What do think about that?
  • Do you normally view the world, and the people in it, from a “right/wrong”, “good/bad” perspective? If so, why? What would your colleagues and friends say?
  • When was the last time you admitted to being “wrong?”
  • Does ambiguity or conflict bother you? How so?
  • Would you consider yourself to be a tolerant person? Would your colleagues and friends agree?
  • Think of a situation or a person where you can’t see the good, the truth or the beauty. What would you have to do or perceive to see the truth or beauty of this person or situation?
  • It is useless to discuss harmony in our world at work, without first creating harmony in ourselves. Would you agree?
  • What in your life do you resist looking at? Does this cause you tension? What would happen if you did look and allowed the tension to be there at the same time?
  • When you accept the vicissitudes and challenges in your life at work (at home, at play, in relationship), as part of life, do you experience more or less of a sense of well-be-ing? 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

This Week is Last Week’s “Next Week.”

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Speaker pageFacebook Page, Becoming a Better You book page

I recently had a conversation with an individual about how her life is unfolding these days. Short answer: “It’s terrible.” I asked, “Going forward, if this week were typical of next week, and the next week, and the week after that, and the next six months, the next year and five years after that, would it be OK?” She instinctively reacted: “No!” – filled with resentment, frustration, and muted rage. When I asked what she’s doing about her life, she sort of responded with a “Well, you play with the hand you’re dealt” attitude — being the victim — intimating that she’s too flooded by victimization consciousness to take time to stand back and gain a larger perspective or do anything constructive about changing.

Julia (not her real name), a successful professional woman, spouse and mother is basically unhappy – stressed out by her work, by her relationship, by her children, by the uncertainty of the economy, by the state of her physical health and her social life. Nothing seems to be “working” as she phrased it. When asked, “Why not?,” she thought for a moment and said, “I don’t know; I just don’t have time to get my life together.” That’s when I asked the “Well if this week is typical?” question.

So, what about you? How are you showing up in your life – not just life at work but life at home, life in relationship, and life at play?

Presenteeism
Presenteeism” is a term used most often to describe a form of “disengagement-with-life” type of fog with which folks show up in life. The reality is many folks are exhibiting presenteeism in one or more aspects of their life. They are physical, emotional and mental wrecks to some degree — often, a larger, not smaller, degree. Many folks are not doing justice to their work, their spouse, their children, their friends, or their own self because they’re suffering from presenteeism.

Being the victim
Because many folks are acting as the victim, reactively and begrudgingly living with the “hand they are dealt,” and choosing not to be proactive about changing their life or lifestyle, they are experiencing stress, overwhelm, confusion and quiet desperation – played out in their self-destructive life habits — lack of sleep, poor diet, workaholism, sickness, disease, lack of exercise, estrangement from family members (even while living in  the same house), being abusive, argumentative, resistant and resentful. Moreover, they have mostly concocted “stories” to justify why they can’t move off the dime. And thus their “insanity” continues, you know, doing the same thing the same way, over and over again and expecting different results each time.

Reflect
So, maybe this is a good time to explore your relationship with presenteeism, with your own “insane” way of dealing with your life, with change and with the stories you use to justify and rationalize why you are where you are. And in that vein here are some considerations that can support your journey forward so that the “next week” and the “next week etc. might not be carbon copies of this week or last week.

Work life:
How is your relationship with your work? Why do you do what you do? What attitudes do you bring with you to your workplace? Do these attitudes support your well-being? Do you find meaning in your work –  even in the mundane (hint: it’s possible)? Are you engaged at work, passionate, challenged, unhappy or overwhelmed? Would you do this work even if you weren’t paid? What do you like about your work (place)? How do you justify doing work you don’t like?

Family life:
What’s your relationship with your family like? Is the value of family “being the most important thing in my life” borne out by the “reality” of how you relate to your family? Is there a disconnect, a discomfort? Are you satisfied with your relationship to your spouse or partner, to your children? What about real connection and intimacy? Is something missing? What about your relationship with your parents, sisters or brothers? How’s that working? Is your relationship with your family “this week” exactly what you would like it to be in the weeks, months and years ahead? How do you rationalize and justify unhappy and unfulfilling relationships that you allow to continue? Do you allow your job to keep you from your family (that “most important thing in my life”)?

Your health:
How well do you take care of yourself? And what rationalizations, stories and justifications do you use for not taking care of yourself? How do you explain neglecting your health to your spouse/partner and children? If you became disabled tomorrow, how would that affect your family and others who care about you? Are you a good role model for others in the way you deal with your health? Do you urge your spouse/partner and children to follow your health patterns?

Social life:
Are you a friend to your friends? Or are they more the friend and you the recipient of their friendship? Do you take more than you give? Are friends important to you? How do they know? Do you subjugate friendship to a low priority, even though friendship is important? What rationalizations, stories and justifications do you use for doing so? If you have no friends, what is that about? Are your friendships consistently superficial or are they continually ripening and deepening? Do you have true and real friends at work? Are most of your friends “Internet friends?”

Your happiness:
Are you happy? Be honest, brutally honest. Do you experience joy in your life? And never mind the “it’s all relative” or “compared to whom/what” retort. You know if you are; you know if you aren’t. It’s about the truth. Are you settling? Are you resigned? Are you OK with your level of happiness? Do you know how to achieve true and real happiness? What justifications, stories and rationalizations do you use to explain your level of happiness? Is your level of happiness “this week” exactly what you would like it to be in the weeks, months and years ahead? Is happiness in the foreground or background for you? Why? What brings you joy?

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • If last week or this week were typical of next week, the week after and the week after that, and every week for the next six months, every week for the next two years, would that be OK with you? If not, why not?
  • What one or two baby steps can you take this week — this present moment, now — to move in the direction of having “next week” be truly better/different than “this week?”
  • What has to happen, or not happen, for you to take a first step towards change?
  • What conversation(s) do you need to have in order to move forward?
  • Resistance to change is based on fear – always. What are you afraid of? Be honest and tell the truth. Who or what can help you move through your fear, your procrastination or your stuckness?
  • How did you and your family deal with change when you were growing up?

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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

 

No Mud, No Lotus

lotus-614421_960_720[1]

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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.
—————————————————–

(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