Where Do You Find Your Gold and Diamonds?

prospecting

 

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“Only by much searching and mining are gold and diamonds obtained, and a person can find every truth connected with his being, if he will dig deep into the mine of his soul.”  – As A Man Thinketh

The classic book Acres of Diamonds is the story of a person who sold his home and land to travel far and wide in search of diamonds, only to die penniless. As the story goes, the new owner discovered diamonds on the very property that the old owner had ignored.

Looking outside
I’m often curious when I come across folks who act in similar ways whenever they try to “fix” something in their lives – at work, at home, at play or in their relationship. Whether it’s happiness, peace of mind, or a greater sense of self-worth, self-esteem or love they seek, they seem to spend an enormous amount of time and energy looking “outside” themselves to search for the answers, the “fix.”

The void
They look to their spouse or partner, their friends (both “people” friends and “object “friends such as a new, expensive car, boat, clothes, food, alcohol, sugar, the latest plasma TV, gambling, the country club membership, etc.), children, or parents to fill the “hole,” the void, i.e., their inner sense of deficiency.  They become workaholics or obsessed with exercise, or shopping, or “going out,” for example, always expecting and hoping the answer will, poof!, come from their pursuit of their occupation or other “outside” interests. Sadly, nothing “outside” ever satisfies their “hunger,” in the long term.

Like the poor farmer in Acres of Diamonds, their search comes up empty-handed and they continue to sleep-walk through life with a sense of emptiness, with a low-grade-fever type of subtle agitation that courses through their bodies, continually feeling frustrated, angry, sad, empty, joyless, resentful and isolated from life, and from themselves. And just like the story, diamonds are waiting to be discovered right in their own back yard. The reality is that the only way to find the gold and diamonds is, as James Allen says, to “dig deep into the mine of the soul.” To go “inside” and stay there for a time; in one’s own company

One of my favorite authors, Jim Rohn, says, “The greatest source of unhappiness comes from inside.” Conversely, that’s also where the greatest (and only) source of happiness comes from.

Instead of searching far and wide, perhaps spend some time every day exploring inside. Instead of expecting something outside to fill you up, learn to fill yourself from within. Make a commitment to read more of the material that will help you discover who you are. Make a decision to grow your self over and above your role and position. As Jim Rohn also says, “What you become directly influences what you get.”

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • Do you take time out to explore yours self, your life on a consistent basis? How so?
  • Do you take time for meditation, reflection, contemplation, journaling, walking in nature?
  • How would you characterize the “gold” in your life? The “diamonds?”
  • Do you find your self constantly looking for happiness “out there?”  How so?
  • Do you read for self-improvement, self-growth and self-development outside of your “business- or profession-related” readings?
  • Do you ever feel empty inside, lacking in some way, deficient in well-be-ing and inner peace?
  • Are you comfortable being alone in your own company for extended periods of time?
  • Do you find silence to be soothing or deafening? How so?
  • Do you really, really, really know yourself? How does that question make you feel?
  • Are you resistant when it comes to exploring and discovering who you are “inside”?  If so, why?
  • Growing up, did you, your parents or primary caregivers ever take time out for self-reflection?

—————————————————–
(c) 2020, 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

Passion and Purpose at Work…and Beyond

compass

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Just launched – three exciting new products


Passion and purpose are ongoing topics of interest when discussing the workplace. A Google search on “passion at work” results in 925,000,000 links; “purpose at work – 2,450,000,000. Moreover, there seems to be some evidence that many confuse the two – “confusing passion and purpose at work” – 80,300,000. So, what is the difference between passion and purpose – and, how are the two inextricably intertwined?

Merriam Webster defines purpose as “something set up as an object or end to be attained, an intention or resolution.” Dictionary.com – as, “the reason for which something exists or is done, made, used, etc.” Other definitions point to a (or one’s) “calling,” or “life’s work.” My definition of purpose is the answer to the question: “Why am I on the planet?”

Merriam-Webster defines passion as “… intense, driving or overmastering feeling or conviction,” “an ardent affection; a strong desire or liking, or devotion, to some activity, object, or concept.” Dictionary.com defines passion as, “a powerful or compelling emotion or feeling; a strong enthusiasm for anything…” My definition of passion is “energy” – an emotional, physical, mental, psychological and spiritual quality – that drives or supports one to focus one’s time, energy and effort to transform purpose from a mental or intellectual concept, dream, or intention (which is but a small molecule in the brain) to manifest as a real, tangible, observable and measurable set of have-ings, be-ings and do-ings at “9:00 Monday morning.”

Purpose without passion often results in “less-than” type results, non-sustainability, feeling unfulfilled, experiencing an emotional numbness, lethargy, burnout, or resulting in a spark that dies out before it ever begins to burn, procrastination, continued self-doubt, aimlessness…

Passion without purpose is like “being all dressed up with no place to go.” A sometimes misguided, sometimes selfish, continual focus the “what” rather than the “why.” (When I  first transitioned into the coaching profession around 2000, I used to say Tony Robbins was my marketing manager. Why? Because, in those days, his seminars were more about motivation and passion than they were about purpose. Folks would attend his seminars and retreats, get hopped up on the “elixir”and passion they experienced, return home full of excitement and passion and, at 9 o’clock Monday morning open the front door, and ask themselves, “Now what?”)  Passion without purpose.

So, passion is energy. Sometimes this passion is purposeful, sometimes not. This energy can support us, push us to look for ways to continually improve what we do and how we do it, and who we are (passion defines our personality, but it does not give us an identity. Purpose does.)

Sometimes passion can be limiting and self-destructive.

For example, some passionate folks love to dress up and go to sporting events to engage in harassment, uncivil and disrespectful behavior – all in the name of being “passionate” about their team. Others can be dismissive, critical, judgmental of, or abusive to, others, all in the guise of being “passionate” about something that the “other” is not, or lacks. Early on in my career, I had a position managing a 14-person team. One of the team members was a seasoned, experienced individual who really knew their stuff. A real expert, they were insufferable at team meetings. When other members of the team were presenting their work to the team, this person would not hold back in the way they would be judgmental, critical, demeaning and downright disrespectful to their colleagues. After our first couple of meetings, I called this person on their behavior and their defense was, (paraphrasing) “I’m really passionate about this work. I just can’t understand how others can be so incompetent, stupid and the like.” Passion, misdirected.

Co-workers can, and do, often unfairly judge others, bully others, gossip about others and be rude, demeaning and disrespectful about their co-workers’ lack of skills and talents, for example, all because they’re so passionate about what they do (as in, a passionate rebuke such as, “So why do you have to be so stupid! Why can’t you get it!” Passion, misdirected.

Passion is never – ever- an excuse for disrespect.

And just as some folks feel their passion allows them to be disrespectful, others channel it towards self-destruction, e.g., coming home at night and binging on alcohol, food or drugs.

So, passion is energy. The important question is, toward what end is one’s passion directed?

Is your passion positive? Is it supportive of yourself and others? Or, is it negative, self-destructive and harmful? Just because you’re passionate doesn’t automatically make you humble, emotionally intelligent, good at relationships, honest, skilled or talented. Passion is just energy.

Purpose completes the passion equation. Purpose is the magic ingredient that gives passion a raison d’etre. It’s the foundation of passion. Without purpose as an anchor, passion has no inner or outer guidance system. Without a purpose, life will often be disorienting, out-of-sync, hum-drum and unhappy.

In my years working as a coach, I’ve always been curious about folks who run into a mid-life crisis at 30 after spending enormous amounts of time, effort, energy and funds studying something like law, medicine, IT, finance or management or myriad other professions or careers. It amazes me how quickly they have ended up literally hating what they’re doing. Even working at something they felt “passionate” about at the outset.

In some of these cases, folks choose to enter a particular profession or career area because they were directed that way by career coaches, consultants or family members who suggested that their talents or interests lay in that direction, skill or talent.

But what these career folks, parents, relatives, even good friends almost never measure is heart. Heart is the focal point of purpose. Not the mind. Not logic. Not what’s sexy. Not what “The Futurist” says one should do and especially, not “Hey, you’re really good at (blank), so why don’t you pursue (blank)”?

Some never get it. Purpose is not a career, job or even a talent. But, purpose can be manifested in a particular career or job or by making use of a particular talent or area of expertise. The difference is the energy (passion) that an individual brings to that endeavor and whether their actions and work are “purposeful.”

I often use the following example in my change work and when I speak to varied professional associations (e.g., HR, Social Work, IT or QA professionals, CPAs, Occupational Therapists, Emergency Management folks, Educators, Counselors, Realtors, Marketers, Professional Organizer,…)

There are two of you in this room who both do the same work, in the same way, using the same content and professional expertise with the same type of client or customer.

One of you absolutely loves what you do and looks forward to going to work every day. The other can’t stand to get up in the morning. What’s the difference? Passion and purpose. The former is driven by a heartfelt desire to live “on purpose” and feeds off the energy of passion to move through their day, to serve others and sees the deeper meaning, value and worth of what they do in serving and supporting others.

The latter, lacking a sense of purpose (even if they have passion) often lacks the heart, inner-driven desire to support and serve others, to be selfless, or experiences any deep-seated meaning and joy from what they do.

The former views challenges barriers, obstacles and problems as opportunities. They’re not upset with failure or overly sensitive and emotionally reactive to criticism from others. Purpose is what supports them to muster the energy of challenges and push forward, striving to do, be and have the best they can do, be and have. They seldom or never “struggle.” They experience a certain fulfillment and joyfulness in their work.
The difference between strive and struggle

The latter, see problems and challenges as never-ending struggles. Absent purpose, they don’t experience the deeper, energetic drive, curiosity, and challenge to excel, to be better, to do better. They live a Sisyphean life of struggle, dwelling on the negative.

For the former, regardless how challenging a day might be, they continually experience a sense of gratitude, fulfillment, reward and purposefulness from their days’ work. For them, they may be exhausted, but it’s a healthy sense of exhaustion, a fatigue or tiredness that comes with a job well done rather than an exhaustion that comes from “fighting the good fight.” Purposeful folks persevere.

For the latter, having no sense of purpose or purpose-related passion, they often find their work irritating, boring or uninteresting. They often find their clients or customers irritating or bothersome, unable or unwilling to interact with them from a place of servitude, or compassion or understanding, caring and concern. Rather than persevere, they can tend to be more focused on, “How much time before I go home?” type of perspective.

The purposeful are engaged in their work. Have their heart in it; the other muddles through with an “ugh!” at every turn.

Purpose is the anchor, the beacon, the direction, the work, career and life compass that guides us to make choices and decisions that are life-affirming and keep our lives moving forward. Without such a guide, many people hit a dead end at 30 (then 40, then 50), constantly wondering “Is this all there is?” Or worse, “I have all this talent, and I don’t understand why I’m not happy.” One of the reasons so-called “talented” folks leave their jobs. It’s not that they lack skills. It’s often the case of “my heart just isn’t in it anymore.”

When everything is ego-driven, meaning is most often trumped by unhappiness, agitation and constant negative judgments and invidious comparisons of others while always feeling to some degree, lacking, deficient, and disconnected.

And from what do such folks feel disconnected? Their heart, their purpose, their true and real self, their essence.

The heart is what drives purpose, not the mind or the ego. When someone has their heart in their work, meaning abounds; they are – and feel – purposeful in their work. Purpose answers the questions, “why am I on the planet?” And “why am I doing what I’m doing.”

The ego mind, logic, assessments (which don’t assess “heart”), “thinking,” “figuring it out” and and a host of others’ suggestions and direction cannot answer these questions.

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • How do you characterize your relationship to your work?
  • How did you arrive at doing the work you are doing?
  • Do you feel purposeful in your work? Do you feel “coerced” to work or “called” to work?
  • Do you feel passionate about your work? What motivates you to go to work? How so?
  • Do you feel completely engaged at work?
  • Why are you on the planet? What is your purpose in life?
  • What is the legacy you’d like to leave behind?
  • What will others say about you when you’re gone…about you as a professional, a spouse, a partner, a parent, a friend…?
  • What are three things you’re passionate about? How you do express this passion?
  • Are you following your life’s purpose? How do you know?
  • If you really, really dislike your work, what story do you tell yourself to justify your doing it?
  • Did you ever discuss purpose with your family, or others, when you were growing up?
  • How did your parents, our primary caregivers, describe their work when you were growing up? Would you say they felt passionate or purposeful about what they were doing?  How so?

—————————————————–
(c) 2020, 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

Consciousness and Unconsciousness

banquet

 

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Just launched – three exciting new products

In 2008, the G8 Summit was held in Japan. One event, in particular, caught my attention. It was a six-course lunch followed by an eight-course dinner where the agenda was – hang on to your hat, and take a deep breath –  famine and the global food crisis.

First, some details

  • Participants were served 24 different dishes during their first day at the summit just hours after urging the world to reduce the “unnecessary demand” for food and calling on families to cut back on their wasteful use of food.
  • The dinner consisted of 18 dishes in eight courses including caviar, smoked salmon, Kyoto beef and a “G8 fantasy dessert.”
  • The banquet was accompanied by five different wines from around the world including champagne.
  • African leaders including the heads of Ethiopia, Tanzania and Senegal who had taken part in talks during the day were not invited to the function.
  • The dinner came just hours after a “working lunch” consisting of six courses.

For me, this lunch/dinner misstep is a metaphor for the unconscious, hypocritical and insensitive behavior many leaders and managers manifest when they espouse values that purportedly support the well-be-ing of their organizations, (in this case, the “world” is the participants’ “organization”), and then engage in the excesses and antithetical behavior that undermine their integrity, trustworthiness, respectability and credibility.

Betrayal and untrustworthy behavior on the part of leaders and managers appear regularly in the corporate world – betrayal in the sense, for example, that leaders and managers paint a rosy picture of the future and then show thousands of workers to the door, and then pile the work on the remaining individuals to take up the slack, or, in the sense that leaders and managers urge employees to take care of their health and then denigrate them for using the gym on “company time” while urging them to work 70-hour weeks, including weekends, or, in the sense that leaders and managers can drive their organizations into the ground financially and walk away with huge bonuses and severance packages for doing so, while employees walk away with nothing – just a few examples of daily betrayal that creates mistrust in the workplace.

The egregiousness of the behavior of the G8 participants, leaders and managers in their own right, with their excessive spending and lavish consumption, points to the difference between consciousness and unconsciousness when it comes to living life by taking the high road, to living life by following one’s inner moral compass and to  living life from a place of serving others.

In a past food-for-thought piece, I offered the notion of four levels of consciousness:

Not conscious – instinctual, follower
Subconscious – habitual, robotic, reactive
Conscious – aware, intelligent, conceptual, reflective
Superconscious – intuitive, guiding, truthful, loving, universal

The behavior of the G8 folks, for me, is one of simply being unconscious – allowing one’s lower-level, ego-driven, base, instinctual, selfish and blind desires to drive – completely unaware of the consequences and the impact on “larger good” of the community, of humanity.

It’s not about arrogance. It’s not about greed. It’s not about politics. It’s not about contempt for others.

It’s about intelligence – being conscious! Awake! Aware! It’s about the fact that no one – NO ONE – said, “Wait a minute! What are we doing here! Something doesn’t feel right to me!” No one! That’s unconsciousness. That’s being disconnected from our True and Real Self. Unconscious.

Consciousness is about spiritual (not theological, not religious) intelligence, about the fundamental principles that govern the behaviors of our leaders. It’s about honesty, sincerity, self-responsibility and self-awareness. It’s about living one’s core values – assuming one has core values, and has thought “consciously” about how they live their core values at 9:00 Monday morning. It’s about integrity. It’s about walking the talk. It’s about being a business person and human being at the same time. It’s about taking the high road.

Consciousness is about viewing my life, right here and right now, from the 25,000-foot level and asking, “What am I doing right here, right now?” “Who am I being, right here, right now?” “Am I acting in alignment with my core values?” “Is there harmony between what I think, say, feel and do, and if not, why not, and how can I create that harmony for myself and for the good of the order?” “What am I thinking about and what do I think about what I’m thinking about?” “Am I ‘going along to get along’ even though I know it’s inappropriate?”

Consciousness is simply about being decent right where I am. That’s who successful and truly respected leaders and managers are. It’s simply about having and showing character, and working for the highest good of all concerned right where I am. That’s what successful and truly respected leaders and managers do.

Consciousness is about showing up, authentically, in integrity, and acting to make the workplace, and the world, a better place – for everyone – right here and right now, even if it’s uncomfortable and inconvenient. Pure and simple.

Some questions for self-reflection: 

  • How aligned am I with my core values? How so?
  • When my colleagues, bosses, direct reports, clients, friends, and family observe my behavior, do they consistently observe me “walking my values talk?”
  • Do I ever act in a way that others might perceive as arrogant, haughty, egotistical or greedy? If so, do I care? If not, why not?
  • Do I show concern for my fellow man (generic) at work, at home, at play, when I comment on the world at large, and when I’m out and about?
  • At what level of consciousness do I live my life most of the time?
  • Have I ever spoken up when I felt I needed to tug on someone’s sleeve about their inappropriate behavior?
  • Do I gloss over unethical or immoral workplace behavior as the “cost of doing business?”
  • Do I exhibit the change I’d like to see everyone else exhibit?
  • Have I ever betrayed another person? Have I ever been betrayed? How did I feel in either or both event(s)?

—————————————————–
(c) 2020, 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

What’s Stopping You From Healing?

buttterfly

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Just launched – three exciting new products

Many folks claim they want to heal. However, what they actually seek is less pain and suffering. This is an important distinction.

The “fix”
Many folks hunger for a magic bullet to alleviate their discomfort, the frustration they experience at work, at home, even at play, and, of course, in their relationships. They search for the quick fix: a chemical remedy through a prescription or over-the-counter medicine or a non-chemical-(usually) socially-acceptable remedy as in food, alcohol, television, sex, or surgery or son-surgical procedure.  All of this is done to mask their discomfort and treat their symptoms. Pop the pill. Eat the food. Take the drink. Have sex. Experience the procedure. The discomfort disappears. They may move back to some sense of normalcy, but certainly not towards healing. How so?

Healing can be scary
True healing can be scary and threatening. Why?

True healing requires more than feeling normal again. True healing requires us to ask (and answer!):

1. In what ways do I contribute to my own discomfort? How am I responsible for the situation (mental, emotional, spiritual, psychological, social, financial, health, etc.) in which I find myself?
2. Which of my thoughts, beliefs, preconceptions, values, expectations, assumptions, “stories,” choices and actions are responsible for the imbalance, dis-harmony and unhappiness I’m experiencing in my life at work, at home at play or in my relationships?
3. Am I  willing to make the necessary life changes, including taking action to reduce and eliminate my sense of imbalance, dis-harmony and unhappiness?

Simple, right? But, not easy, which is why many folks often think, or obsess, about change but rarely take positive and sustaining action to effect true and real change at 9:00 Monday morning. As one coaching client told me early on in their change process, “I’m thinking about getting ready to get started.” Hmmm.

Ego and change
What’s the real deal about healing? What stands in the way of most folks’ willingness to change is ego.

Ego is necessary. Ego supports us as we navigate how we live our lives. Ego includes our personality, our individuality. Ego helps us to pretend we are individuals. Ego helps us remember where we left our wallet, what we need to buy for dinner and what time the team meeting is. Our ego defines our thoughts, beliefs and assumptions.

Ego believes that its ultimate responsibility is to keep us safe and protect us from harm of any sort – mental, physical, emotional, spiritual, and/or psychological. The lenses through which the ego views the world tend to see the world as scary and hurtful.  Because of this, we spend much of our life defending ourselves against others whom we perceive as judging, being critical of, or threatening us in some way, shape or form.

Consider (honestly): how many of our moment-to-moment thoughts are healing or loving thoughts?  How many are fear-based, judgmental or negative thoughts?  For most folks, it is the latter. If we’re being honest here.

Remember, our ego’s job is to feel safe and secure. When we contemplate changing our (ego’s) beliefs, thoughts, “stories” and preconceptions, etc. about our life and living in the world, our ego becomes scared. In subtle and insidious ways, our ego works to insure that we continue to think, believe, and behave exactly as we have in the past. Why? Change is hurtful to our ego; it wants us to feel its acting on our behalf, to keep us safe, by “not acting,” i.e., not changing, not healing.

Our ego believes that even our most painful, self-sabotaging or limiting beliefs which we cling to are necessary because the small (or great) amount of pain that we experience as a result of these thoughts, actually protects us from a much bigger pain – a “death” in some way, shape or form.

When we consciously consider creating true and real change, we assume there is something bad or wrong about our current thoughts or beliefs (and resulting behaviors). This triggers our ego which goes into protection mode. We spend lots of time beating ourselves up for thinking we are, in fact, bad or wrong for what we have been thinking or believing, or how we have been behaving, for much, or most of, our lives.

Allowing and resistance
For true and real change to exist, we have to allow our beliefs, our thoughts – whatever they are – to take shape in our minds.  Then we observe them and allow them. We do not judge them. We don’t beat ourselves up over them. This action quiets the ego and our Inner Judge and Critic – who wants us to feel small, invisible, scared, wrong and bad.

When our ego understands there is actually nothing “wrong” with our thoughts or beliefs (they just “are”), resistance fades. We grab hold of the freedom and the opportunity to introduce new thoughts and beliefs and, with these, we create the capacity to make new choices, and take new actions.

We created most of the limiting and painful beliefs we hold about ourselves and the world during our childhood. We employed whatever resources we had at that time, so we could feel safe, secure and garner mommy and daddy’s (and later, others”) love, attention, acceptance and approval.

Our beliefs worked then as children and as we matured through adolescence to adulthood. However, many, if not most, don’t work so well now. We need to update them.

The bottom line is that we can change our words, our thoughts and our beliefs. We can, in fact, change our lives at work, at home, at play and in relationship by creating new, supportive thoughts and beliefs by choosing to do so and then taking action that supports our new way of thinking. That is healing.

If you really do want to heal, that choice is yours to make. What better time than now?

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • What stories do you tell yourself that keep you from making true and real change in your career, home, health, play or relationship areas of your life? Do you recall having any of these beliefs when you were young? What beliefs prevent you from experiencing change in your life?
  • Do you ever follow your intuition, your “gut?” Do you trust your intuition? What’s that like?
  • Do you constantly beat yourself up? Why? Would you allow your friends and colleagues to speak to you the way your Inner Judge and Critic speaks to you? Do you constantly judge yourself as bad, wrong or not good enough in some way? Why? Really, why? When did you first start doing that?
  • The average person has 16,000 thoughts a day. Would you characterize the majority of yours as healing (love-based) or killing (fear-based)?
  • Did you ever simply observe your thoughts without getting caught up in them, or in a “story” about them? What’s that like?
  • What one or two debilitating or limiting beliefs would you like to update right now? Can you do it? Will you? What will support you? What barriers will stand in the way?
  • What one or two baby steps can you take this week or next to make changes in your life by creating new thoughts and beliefs about your Self and then taking action?
  • What beliefs do you have about: career, teamwork, meaningful work, money, health, men, women, relationships, appearance, fun, chores, children, personal or spiritual growth, marriage, clothes, hair, pets, etc.? Do these beliefs bring you true and real happiness (be honest) or pain and suffering (be equally honest)? If the latter, why do you continue to hold these beliefs and allow them to run your life? If the latter, how can you begin to heal yourself?

—————————————————–
(c) 2020, 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

How Could They!? Revenge and Compassion

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Just launched – three exciting new products
“Judge not, that ye be not judged.” – St. Matthew, King James Version

In October 2006, a lone gunman entered a one-room Amish school in rural Lancaster County, Pennsylvania and killed five girls (six others were hospitalized). It turns out the killer had allegedly molested two young girls some years earlier; what is also known factually is that he had a young daughter who had died a premature death – a death for which he never forgave God. He wanted revenge, and he exacted it in that schoolhouse.

Even though this incident happened over fourteen years ago, what followed still remains both awe-inspiring to some and mind-numbing to others.

Mired in grief over their loss, the Amish community responded with forgiveness. Folks didn’t blame, seek revenge, run to the nearest law firm to “lawyer up,” rally for gun control or otherwise “act out.” Rather, in their humble and quiet manner, they extended their hand with compassion and grace to the killer’s family to offer comfort for their own pain and suffering. They donated money to the killer’s wife and children. The killer’s family was invited to one of the Amish girl’s funeral; and Amish mourners counted more than the non-Amish at the killer’s funeral.

My sense is that a majority of rational, decent and well-minded human beings would view the Amish response as what? Stupid, Outrageous, Soft, Foolish, Spiritually inept, Ridiculous, Unbelievable,  or…?

Tragedy, upset and compassion
So, how do you deal with the upsets, tragedies and life’s vicissitudes – large and small – that rock, and have rocked, your world? How do you deal with those at work, at home, and in everyday life who you feel “wrong(ed)” you, treated you unfairly, or damaged your spirit? Do you seek revenge? Do you lash out? Are you an “eye for an eye” type, looking to gain your “pound of flesh?” Or are you forgiving, compassionate and understanding?

We know the Amish are not “over it.” We know that pain and suffering can remain in their hearts. But, do we need to balance hurt with hate, with revenge, with “getting even?

As for the Amish, we ask, “How could such folks forgive a terrible, unprovoked act of violence against the innocent?”

The role of compassion
We know the Amish culture teaches forgiveness and placing the needs of others before themselves and that there is good in any situation. Vengeance and revenge is not a daily theme or way to deal with life.

They know that hatred is nothing more or less than a poison or a cancer that eats one alive. Forgiveness is what allows one to cope and move forward. Letting go of grudges is what allows them to focus on the work of their own healing.

The Buddhists speak often of compassion. Not a compassion that is airy-fairy, soft, syrupy, but a compassion that allows one to bear the pain of another – to let go of the “me vs. you” struggle we so often allow to justify our need for getting even or to exact our pound of flesh, and to legitimize revenge.

The Dalai Lama wrote, “According to Buddhism, compassion is an aspiration. It’s a state of mind, wanting others to be free from suffering. It’s not passive, but rather an empathetic altruism that actively strives to free others from suffering. Genuine compassion must have both wisdom and loving kindness. That is to say, one must understand the nature of the suffering from which we wish to free others (wisdom), and one must experience a deep intimacy and empathy with other sentient beings (loving kindness).”

I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with (their own) pain.” – James Baldwin

The Buddhist Monk, Pema Chodrin, says, “In order for us to have compassion for another, we have to have compassion for ourselves.” The way we have compassion for ourselves is not to avoid suffering and seek pleasure, but to directly connect to our own pain and suffering, not avoid it, not deny it, not cover it up, not medicate it, not to blame others for it; and then embrace the suffering of others. When we get in touch with our own pain and suffering and work with it, embrace it, learn from it and heal from it, we can then love ourselves, truly love ourselves, and in the process love others.

In working with our pain and suffering we gain a larger and wider perspective on life, we become self-less, and open the door to understanding ourselves and others from a more spiritual, interconnected perspective. We have a larger view of reality, a view that is not emotional, reactive, muddied, or defensive, but a view that sees the oneness of all human beings regardless of their faults and foibles, regardless of the harshness of the words or actions.”

Getting to this place of compassion and forgiveness is one of the reasons we’re on the planet – to transmute our hate into love. Simple, not always easy.

Some questions for self-refection:

  • Do you allow the actions of individuals and groups to make you angry, resentful, or hateful. Why?
  • What are your greatest fears and why?
  • Do you blame others for your state in life?  How so?
  • Do you have a need not only to get mad when you feel wronged, but to get even? Why?
  • Do you hold any grudges? How so?
  • Do you have a list of folks who have wronged you in life?
  • Do you live by an ” eye for an eye” mantra?
  • If you “forgive, but do not forget” you’re really not forgiving. How do you feel about that approach to forgiveness? What emotions come up for you? Why?
  • Growing up, where did you first learn about forgiveness? How so?
  • Growing up, where did you first learn about grudges? How so?
  • Do you live life with an inner, “low-grade-fever” type of ongoing anger? How so?

“We are all full of weakness and errors; let us mutually pardon each other our follies.” –Voltaire
—————————————————–
(c) 2020, 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

Money and Motivation

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Just launched – three exciting new products

The question of money and motivation has been around for a long time Google “money and motivation” and you’ll get 531,000,000 results. Years of research, and countless books and articles have been, and continue to be, written, about money and motivation. From my perspective, much of the focus on money and motivation points to the superficial needs of people or points toward the immediate gratification that money seems to bring. The inquiry around money as a motivator must be explored more deeply if one is to truly understand the nature of the so-called relationship between money and motivation.

There are a number of personal orientations relating to money and motivation. Some of these are:

1. I’m not making as much money as I’d like, but I absolutely love my work, or the flexibility, or the control I have, or the opportunity for creativity, etc. ( (the “starving artist” perspective)

2. I need to be in this salary range, make this much money, because I need to be seen as “somebody” as opposed to “nobody” in my circle of friends, acquaintances, family, etc. who view “money” as a merit badge of some kind.

3. It’s not the money, per se, but what the money “gets” me….i.e., possessions, stuff, materialism…which point to some level of status, “being somebody”  and being recognized, which gives one an egoic sense of “having arrived.”

4. I need more and more money as I’ll never have enough, reflecting the reality that “your expenses always rise to meet your income” syndrome. As I said recently to an attorney client of mine who is living from this orientation and feeling frustrated, financially, “If you feel you cannot live on two million dollars a year, what makes you think you will live, comfortably, on three million?”

4. Unconsciously filling the psycho-emotional “hole” of lack and deficiency which subsumes one or more of the above orientations and is the driver of the obsession with having money and needing more money, and what money “gets” one in order to feel (albeit fleetingly) whole and complete – the illusion that money provides a sense of self, or a sense of one’s worth or value. Yes, money can and does give one a sense of control, safety and security, but, as Abraham Maslow and other research suggest, once one’s basic financial needs are met, additional money probably won’t increase one’s true and real happiness.

At the end of the day, it’s important to look at the intrinsic notion of motivation, that motivation is driven by one’s inner values and so it’s important to explore one’s values and from where one’s values emanate, i.e., from one’s True and Real Self, one’s Inner Core or from one’s ego-driven needs for control, recognition and security which result in often-misguided values, the relentless pursuit of which, usually leads one to experience a “lifestyle” (certainly not a life) mired in the self-sabotaging thinking and behaviors reflecting frustration, resentment, anger, hate, rage, entitlement, misguided choices, and the feeling of never having or being enough.

When one comes from one’s Core Values, one’s Inner Sense of what is important in life and living, then intrinsic, or self-motivation, is at the heart of a life well-lived, at work, at home, at play and in relationship. Intrinsic motivation is at the heart of creativity, self-management, self-responsibility, healthy behavior (mental, physical, emotional, spiritual, psychological social, and, yes, financial). Money, in this sense, has a different emotional and psychological energy around it, a softer energy, not unlike the energy reflected by one who says, “I love my work and I can’t believe I get paid for doing this.”

Many folks, in the relentless pursuit of “money,” actually lose sight of what it was in the first place that got their juices flowing, e.g., having the “corner office” blocks, or short-circuits, the initial love of the work; or obtaining the” title” or position interferes with one’s initial love of mentoring and supporting others and finding that the relentless pressure to make and have more money, or a bigger title becomes more important than the joy one used to experience when one was focused on one’s love of the work itself. Losing one’s way along the way. The mid-life crisis that now often starts at 30.

Money, as the ultimate driver, then veils the clarity of one’s choices and one often makes unfortunate and self-sabotaging choices when controlled by money. I often experience this kind of illusion in my work with some clients, individuals who have made self-defeating choices in their work life, social life and spiritual life because the lens with which they viewed their world and their place in the world had become “green.”

For many of those who believe that “money” is the sign of “success,” or that money is what it takes to be “somebody,” etc., long-term success is often unattainable; it’s a “Sisyphean approach to living.

For many folks, it’s when they have experienced enough anger, anxiety, frustration, feelings of inadequacy unhappiness and loneliness, fueled by their misguided values and beliefs that “money buys happiness, so I need or more of it,” that they then have a real motivation to change and adapt a life and lifestyle that is truly Values-based, values that emanate from their True and Real Self, where money is important, but not an obsession (conscious or unconscious).

Motivation from this Inner place is much different. Motivation from this Inner place is not bounded by internalized pressures to have more, or by rigid, self-sabotaging inner structures or beliefs, or by paralyzing self-criticism that one is not (“_____ enough”) for lack of more money. From this Inner state, one realizes that one’s true worth and value is not financially driven. That one’s purpose in life and the meaning one derives from life and work is intrinsically driven from one’s Inner Core Values.

From this place, one comes to one’s world of work or play from the perspective of a whole person, as one whose choices, volitions, motivations and intentions are driven by a freedom that was heretofore restricted and constricted by the “value” of money.

Finally, I have crossed paths with folks who feel that money allows them to be autonomous. Actually, the opposite seems more true that money has forced many of these folks to live in an emotional and psychological prison whose bars are the self-defeating, self-sabotaging and controlling beliefs and behaviors driving these folks to do, be, and have in a way that forces them into a lifestyle (again, not a life) mimicking the lifestyles of the folks living in their own prisons on either side of them…the illusion of autonomy, not the actions of one living from the place of one’s True and Real self.

From this Inner Self, the energy of “I am,” “I can,” “I will,” “I have,” “I choose,” “I love,” “I create” and “I enjoy,” that is, intrinsic motivation and intention, flows with a sense of purposefulness, ease, grace, settledness and grounding that does not have a “price tag.” Money is almost a by-product.

Some questions for self-reflection are:

  • How would you describe your relationship with money?
  • Do you feel accountable and self-responsible when it comes to managing your money?
  • Do you know exactly how much you own and how much you owe?
  • If you were independently wealthy, would you continue to work?
  • Do you balance your checkbook properly and regularly?
  • Do you buy gifts for others even though you can’t afford them?
  • Do you have a tendency to blame others for your financial troubles (boss, parents, banks, credit card companies, etc.)?
  • Do you constantly worry about money?
  • Do your expenses rise to meet your income?
  • Is money your primary (or only) motivation for going to work?
  • Does your self-worth at work and outside of work depend on how much money you have or earn?
  • Do you cheat or lie in order to save money?
  • Are you envious of others at work (or elsewhere) who earn more than you? How so?
  • Does your financial state interfere with your ability to focus and be completely engaged in your work during your workday?

—————————————————–
(c) 2020, 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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Put-Down Humor…is not Humorous

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Just launched – three exciting new products

You’re standing in a group, talking, and one of the members starts shooting verbal “zingers” at you. Everybody seems to get a hearty laugh at your expense. That is, everybody but you.

Light (and not-so-light) insult humor has become almost a national pastime. When you’re the butt of the jokes, the sarcasm, you may try to shrug it off as harmless, but it stings. And if you’re the one getting laughs at others’ expense, you may not realize what you’re revealing about yourself.

Let’s shed some light and insight to this common workplace, family and social group experience.

Verbal Abuse is Not Funny
Over the years, I’ve been engaged (formally and informally) in workplace coaching with teams and groups, and working with couples. Some of these groups, teams and couples were relatively new while others have been” intact” for quite some time. Individuals represented the spectrum of “types” that might be included in the myriad descriptions of the MBTI or DiSC-type assessments or profiles. So, nothing unusual in the participant makeup.

However, across teams, groups and couples, I was often struck by one behavior that stood out above all others, namely, the propensity for many of these individuals to consistently engage in making destructive, cutting, sarcastic remarks to and about others (“the other,” in the case of couples).

Destructive or sarcastic comments – personal or professional – are those which are hurtful, demeaning, sarcastic and verbally abusive.

What You Say Matters
The comments I experienced were directed at others’ physical characteristics (hair, clothes…), perspectives or ideas, or life choices (e.g., others’ choices of restaurants, movies, books, sports or sports teams, or others’ hobbies or interests, relatives, past educational or professional experiences…), or folks’ current performance.

These were not simply run-of-the-mill light comments. There was an underlying anger, resentment, hostility or destructive element wrapped inside. By the way, the word sarcasm comes from the Greek word “sarkazein,” which literally means “to tear or strip the flesh off.”  It’s no wonder sarcasm hurts..

On more than one occasion, I had to do an internal, invisible “double-take,” and ask myself, “Did I really hear that?” “Did he really say that?” “Did she really throw that zinger at him?”

What continually came to me was “Why? What is this all about?”

In Western culture, the biting, sarcastic, demeaning put-down has become an art form, everywhere – TV, movies, talk radio, sports events, journals and magazines, and, of course, in online, social media interactions. It’s part of the fabric of everyday conversation. And more, many folks today see such behavior as “business as usual,” or as “no big deal.”

In fact, when I asked some of these folks if they were aware of what they said, most responded, “No.” or “So, what?” Like I had three heads or came from another planet. For many of these folks, their sarcastic behavior is a true “blind spot.”

There’s Always A Reason
So, let’s return to the question, “Why?”. In my experience, in the realm of psychology and psychodynamics, we understand most folks engage in put-downs, sarcasm and barbs as a way to look smart, witty and cool. The difference is that being truly smart, witty and cool, does not include hostility. Sarcasm does, intentionally or unintentionally. Being “entertaining” does not include hostility — notwithstanding the “humor” of Robin Williams and other comedians – many of whom were/are suffering from their own mental/psychosocial issues that fed their (sarcastic and put-down) humor.

Dr. John Grohol, the founder and Editor-in-Chief of PsychCentral, says, “Sarcasm is simply saying something intended in a mean-spirited, derogatory or unpleasant manner while meaning the exact opposite. Most people who use sarcasm expect that the recipient of the sarcastic message to recognize the contradiction.” That is, I’m being hurtful but the humor is worth it. Hmmm.

That’s the upside (read, excuse) for them. The downside is that the person for whom the comment is directed is often harmed, hurt, demeaned, or otherwise made the point of ridicule.

When I ask other group participants, or partner/spouse, – i.e., the bystanders – why they often react with laughter, or with some flavor of “atta boy” comment, they generally say they something like, “I don’t know; I just do. It was funny.” Or some such cover for their underling hurt or pain.

The truth is many react this way in a “go along to get along,” colluding, fashion because they don’t want to stand out as different, serious, politically correct, spiritual, or cause anyone to get upset by saying how they really feel, etc. They want and need to be “one of the boys” or “the good, dutiful, loving spouse/partner.” So speaking up or out, or pushing back against such comments and behavior, will only serve to get them ostracized or rejected. So, they laugh or jump into the banter, make the best of a verbal gang rape or spousal abusive situation.

The deal is, no matter how sharp one is, how educated, how senior in the hierarchy one is, how wealthy one is, how witty one is, no one has the right to strive to look witty, sharp or cool at the expense of another human being, at the expense of being disrespectful or hostile to another human being.

And, for those who have a need to do so, the underlying question is, “Why? What does it get you? Does it make any difference that you might be hurting someone else?”

Jen Kim, tells this anecdote in Psychology Today, “…A few months ago, my friend and I visited a Buddhist temple, which serves really amazing vegetarian food. I was really hungry and thought, What the hell! Let’s stay for the service! The monk spoke about being a good person and living a good life, bobloblaw… and then ended the lesson with, “Sarcasm will prevent you from reaching enlightenment.”

Freud says humor, and jokes, are ways we reveal our conscious and unconscious intentions and feelings. He points out that humor often is a cover for our anger, envy and aggression. As David Ley, Clinical Psychologist, says, “…Our words matter. When we allow them to spill out, without thought or consideration, they reveal our unspoken intents and feelings. When those intentions and motivations are harmful, or threatening, it’s part of being an adult, that we “own” those words and the feelings they revealed. And, we own and acknowledge the consequences of those words.”

Sarcasm is wrong. Pure and simple.

No mater how witty you think you are!

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • Can you think of a time recently when you made a sarcastic or demeaning remark to a teammate, colleague, co-worker, husband, wife, partner, or children “for the fun it?”
  • Can you remember a time when you were the recipient of another’s sarcastic comments? How was that for you? Be honest.
  • If you have a reputation for being witty or sharp because you are a master of sarcasm, how does that make you feel?
  • Would you ever ask the objects of your sarcasm how they feel?
  • What does sarcasm get you, personally?
  • Do you think others really respect you, or just go along to get along, when they respond in a laughing sense to you sarcasm?
  • Did you ever tell a colleague or friend to stop using you as a target for their destructive words? How so?
  • Did you ever want to, but not speak up, when experiencing another’s sarcasm? Why?
  • Who would you be if sarcasm were not part of your personality? Would you lose some or much of your identity? How so?
  • Do you use a “just joking” defense when someone calls you on your sarcasm?

—————————————————–
(c) 2020, Peter G. Vajda, Ph.D. and True North Partnering. All rights in all media reserved.

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

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

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

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

You can also follow me on Twitter: @petergvajda.

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

Valentine’s Day – Not Just Candy and Flowers

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Just launched – three exciting new products

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

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

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

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

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

So, some questions for self-reflection:

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

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

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

Are you willing to cross the bridge to “meet” your partner, or are you only waiting for your partner to come to your side?

Do you recognize that your partner’s bewildering behavior is a cry for your help, or do you see his or her behavior as an irritant that only results in your resistance or resentment?

Do you recognize that every frustration is a gift for your relationship? (i.e., Why is this frustration happening FOR me – not TO me)? What is frustration teaching you, about you?

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

Can you and your partner gently and lovingly hold one another’s hand, or do you need to grasp on tightly and chain your partner’s soul to your way of be-ing and do-ing?

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

Do you accept your defeats and defects with your head up and your eyes ahead with the grace of a woman or a man, or with the grief, resentment or begrudging of a child?

So, on this Valentine’s Day, can you plant your own garden without waiting for someone to bring you the flowers?

On this Valentine’s Day, can you experience your own sweetness without waiting for someone to bring you the candy?

On this Valentine’s Day, how are you in relationship with your own heart? Can you look in the mirror at your own reflection and say: “I love you with all my heart; I am complete?” or do you “need someone else” to complete you?

Do cards, candy, and flowers create your sense of well-being, or can they simply be the icing on the cake of a full, and complete heart, your own full and complete heart?

On this Valentine’s Day, are you in relationship or in acquaintanceship? How do you know?

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

—————————————————–
(c) 2020, 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

“Here we are, both of us lonely”*

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Speaker pageFacebook Page, Becoming a Better You book page

Just launched – three exciting new products

*”I know it’s late, I know you’re weary
I know your plans don’t include me
Still here we are, both of us lonely
Both of us lonely
Why don’t you stay?”

Bob Seger, “We’ve got tonight.”
— Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.
(if you wish to listen, the video )

Thanks to social media, we’ve become more “connected” to one another than ever before. One would think that’s a good thing. But, is it? There’s an ever-growing mountain of research suggesting that our “social-networking, intense connectivity” is actually driving us to become more lonely. How so?

Interactively lonely
One of the characteristics of social networking is the direct relationship between the size of our interactive network and the degree of isolation we experience. The greater the number of our connections and “friends,” it appears the more shallow we seem to become.

The greater our web of influence and connection, the more we seem to become ensconced in our own “socio-psycho-emotional zip code.” In spite of the quantum growth of connecting online, people are isolating themselves emotionally and psychologically in ever increasing numbers.

It’s curious that when you sign up for Google Pus, you’re asked to include “your real friends, the ones you feel comfortable sharing private details with.” Reading between the lines, what’s the unspoken message here? I think it’s about the uneasiness around social media’s unintended consequence of separating us from one another, actually creating greater loneliness and separation – in spite of the fact that social media’s initial intention was to allow us greater “connection” with one another. (Not unlike Starbucks whose initial intention was to create “community” – a community which now largely consists of a group of individuals, being separate and doing their own thing “together”).

Loneliness seems to be on the increase (and understand there’s a vast distinction between being “alone,” and “loneliness.”) A 2019 national survey by Cigna discovered that nearly half of U.S. adults are chronically lonely. Some physicians and healthcare providers characterize loneliness not only as an epidemic but as a medical danger as well.

Social interaction
Two questions I would pose are: (1) Are you meeting fewer or more people in real-time these days? And (2) When you gather with others, would you describe your bonds as less or more meaningful, less or more easy? This is really to ask, honestly and sincerely, how deeply meaningful, purposeful and sincere your “real-world” relationships are. How comfortable are you talking about personal or important matters or issues, or allowing your vulnerability, with those real-world folks with whom you say you have a “relationship?” And, is a lack of real connection driving you to relate online?

And, online, without “human” contact, so-called relationships become mere temporary experiences of convenience, as easily broken off as established. It’s no wonder parents and their children, spouses and partners are seemingly becoming more and more estranged from one another.

All of which makes me curious about the rise in the numbers of relationship psychologists, psychotherapists, counselors, social workers, marriage and family therapists and relationship coaches. Perhaps we’re not “talking” to, or “connected” to our real-world “friends” as much as we think or say we are. Hmmm.

Chicken and the egg
So two questions around social media are: (1) Are social media, causing more or less (mental, emotional, spiritual and psychological) pain and suffering? And, (2) Is our (mental, emotional, spiritual and psychological) pain and suffering causing us to gravitate to social media?

In other words, do those of us who feel socially “out of the loop” with real-world friends look for connection to social media? How about those who feel “out of the loop” with one’s family? How about you?

So, I would ask those who are engaged in social media to describe – honestly and sincerely – the quality of their relationship with their friends, with their families and with their spouses/partners. And what do they see or discover as a result of this inquiry? And does what they discover link up with an increased need to engage in social media?

The Casual
Research tells us there’s a host of individuals – characterized as neurotic and lonely – who spend an inordinate amount of time with social media. The question is: “Why?”

Healthy, conscious relationships foster (real) intimacy, trust, deep connectivity. When relationships are replaced by “electronic” interactions, emotional connection – the human factor that creates true relationships – goes missing, along with feelings of warmth,  friendship and intimacy towards the other person – what marriage researcher John Gottman says is the definitive foundational element that determines the sustainability of relationships. When there is no emotional connection, there is no friendship. True emotional connection is blocked by transmission through the ether.

We’ve created tools that reinforce “the casual” and augur against deeper connection – email, IM, Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, Tumblr, Instagram, WeChat, QQ, QZone, Snapchat, Tagged, and countless others, all the while reducing and eliminating the opportunity for true heart-felt connection. We don’t spend the time it takes to have real intimacy with another person. The sad truth is the frequency of contact and the number of contacts in our network does not translate into the quality of contact.

The real thing
So, friends, relationships, and connections. Another question I would ask is: How real are they? What is the nature and depth of their friendship(s)? What is the nature and the depth of their intimacy? Is the friendship and intimacy as “real” as it is in real-life? Can and does social media truly and honestly create healthy friendships? And the operative word is “healthy.”

To be clear, social media is pure and simply a vehicle for connection. It doesn’t create loneliness or neuroticism or addiction or anything else. We create those states for ourselves. And this bears repeating. We create these states for ourselves. Nobody, no one or no thing is doing anything TO me. We’re each responsible for our own choices and decisions, online and off.

From what I’ve seen, heard and read, my take is that when we’re comfortable in our own skins (even with, and especially with, our own discomfort!) in our day-to-day interactions with our friends, colleagues, families, spouses/partners and others, we tend to be more real, honest, vulnerable, and emotionally, spiritually and psychologically mature and adult, with others online, and perhaps even less needy to be online. And, the converse is also true.

Who am I?
Being comfortable in one’s own skin – in real life – is probably one determinant of how one “shows up” in social media situations. There are those who take on a “fake it till you make it” orientation to life, i.e., lacking a true sense of happiness, or security, or self-love, or centeredness or groundedness, they show up with a “false identity.” This false identity reflects their sense of isolation, loneliness, lack and deficiency. Their self-esteem is determined by their updates, tweets and check-ins.

Those who have a healthier sense of self-esteem, identity and sense of their true and real self, show up just as who they are, warts and all. Perhaps less needy for online connections.

In her book, Alone Together, Sherry Turkle, professor of computer culture at MIT, writes: “…These days, insecure in our relationships and anxious about intimacy, we look to technology for ways to be in relationships and protect ourselves from them at the same time…” The ties we form through the Internet are not, in the end, the ties that bind. But they are the ties that preoccupy…We don’t want to intrude on each other, so instead we constantly intrude on each other, but not in ‘real time’.”

Within an electronic world, more people may be connecting, but fewer are relating. We may live in an increasingly inter-connected world, but we are experiencing a far less inter-related one. One major consequence of living in such a culture? Human contact is more likely to be limited – a poor substitute for real conversation and authentic dealings with another human being. It’s questionable whether such “connecting” represents actual contact at all.

Even as it becomes easier than ever to stay “in touch,” our capacity actually to touch one another – physically, emotionally and spiritually – is slipping away.

You can’t be real and intimate from a distance. Period.

Can you be illusionary about relationships? Sure. But, real, authentic and intimate? No so much.

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • What face-to-face conversations do you avoid? Why?
  • Are you spending less quality time with your spouse/partner, children, or others close to you?  How so?
  • Do you regularly send virtual birthday or holiday cards and gifts in place of the “real” thing? Why?
  • In what ways do you shortchange emotional connection with others?
  • Do you feel alone or lonely even when in the company of your spouse/partner, children or other loved ones? Why?
  • Are you addicted to Twitter, Facebook or other social networking tools? Can you do without these tools for an hour, a few hours, a day or a week? If not, well, that’s addiction – denials, protestations and “stories” notwithstanding.
  • Do you engage with your iPhone or Smartphone while you’re having a face-to-face conversation with another person? What does that communicate to the other person? Do you care?
  • Are you on an electronic leash on weekends, days off and while on vacation?

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(c) 2020, 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

Empathy comes from the heart, not the mind

empathy

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In his book, Empathic Civilization: The Race to Global Consciousness in a World in Crisis,” Jeremy Rifkin, in one of the chapters, concludes, “…what is needed is a more transparent public debate around views of freedom, equality and democracy – a moratorium on the hyperbolic political rhetoric and incivility…and begin a civil conversation around our differing views on human nature. This would offer us a moment in time to listen to each other, share our feelings, thoughts, concerns and aspirations, with the goal of trying to better understand each others’ perspectives, and hopefully find some emotional and cognitive common ground.”

On the face of it, I believe most would agree – at least 99.9% of us would agree. It’s like saying, no one in the world should be hungry. Most would agree. But…

While Rifkin’s book is a detailed explanation of how we came to be a culture of incivility, and how empathy is a “way out,” his conclusion, for me, falls short of a real solution. Why? Rifkin essentially equates “cognition” with “consciousness” and assumes we can talk ourselves into being empathetic. Not so fast.

Love and empathy are matters of the heart, not the mind, and I think here is where Rifkin, and so many others, who posit intellectual and cognitive solutions for social ills, and social change, come up short.

Cognition and consciousness are poles apart
Cognition and consciousness are not synonyms but polar ends of a continuum. Here’s my take.

We live in challenging times – socially, politically, economically and spiritually. Incivility, disrespect, and out-and-out personal attacks are a consequence of this un-ease many are experiencing.

So, can I just “think” myself into being empathetic with those who push my buttons? I think not. At least not in any sustainable way.

Empathy is deeper stuff
Empathy is the ability and willingness to relate – not just cognitively or emotionally – but spiritually, from “within,” to what another is thinking and feeling and thus behave in a more compassionate way towards others. As Psychology Today describes it, “Empathy stands in contrast to sympathy which is the ability to cognitively understand a person’s point of view or experience, without the emotional overlay.”  As social policy analyst, Elizabeth Segal, writes,  “Empathy is more than ‘I hear you’.”

Amy Copland, Ph.D.,  Philosophy Professor at Cal. State, Fullerton, says being empathetic means we take an “other-oriented” approach to another, rather than a “me-oriented” perspective towards another. She writes, “Other-oriented means that I imagine I am you in your situation, not me in your situation. And because we are different people, I may need help to understand how you are feeling because imagining what your life is like is not the same as actually experiencing what your life is like.”

While empathy does certainly involve “brain stuff,” i.e., thoughts, and cognitive functioning, etc., empathy does not “originate” in the brain. Wanting and choosing to imagine what it’s like to be the other (or others), needs to come from deeper recesses, i.e, heart-driven, if it is to result in real, authentic and sustainable social change.

Being empathetic, then, means we do not express any egoistic need or intention (conscious or unconscious) to “fix,” teach, tell, one-up, advise, sympathize, interrogate, explain or “set another straight.” Empathy is a heart-felt choice to engage intimately with others, on a deepest level, by “be-ing” with another – providing a safe container for another to be vulnerable in our presence – feeling safe, secure, valued and heard. Simple, right? So, why is empathy so hard?

Why being empathetic is challenging
“Underneath the hood” of surface-level anger, distrust, incivility and disrespect between folks, there’s an element that sources our incivility – fear. Fear of what? Fear of losing control. Control of what? Our “identity,” our need to feel like a “somebody.” Our need to be seen, heard, recognized. Our need for psycho-emotional safety and security.

When individuals or groups fear a loss of democracy or status, or feel terrorized about losing their jobs, their homes, their health care, their educational opportunities, their families and, most of all, their sense of self, they fear being relegated to the ranks of “nobodies.”

Nobody wants to be a “nobody”
How am I dealing with these marginalized, fearful folks? Am I pushing them away? Do I see them as a threat to my identity, to my feeling like a “somebody?” Do status, ranking and “somebody-ness” depend on my doing, being and having more than them – a “zero-sum” approach to my living life, where I feel, “if you get yours, then I won’t get mine?” Is life a “me. vs. you” proposition? Do I see folks as a means to end? This is where empathy comes into play.

I am you
One tenet of many spiritual traditions is the notion that “I am you” – a metaphysical (far from cognitive) concept that points to the interconnection of all of life. An “I/Thou” approach to others is not based on the another’s packaging, i.e., looks, net worth, degrees, quality and quantity of material possessions, etc. The I/Thou personalness of relationships focuses on a heart-felt “we,” rather than “me vs. you.” How we are more alike than separate. I/Thou assumes a higher level of “consciousness” – how I orient to the planet and the people on the planet. This yearning, seeking is not simply “cognitive” stuff.

Four levels of consciousness:
Unconscious – instinctual, follower
Subconscious – habitual, robotic, drone-like, reactive
Conscious – aware, intelligent, conceptual
Higher Consciousness – intuitive, guiding, truthful, loving, universal

Empathy reflects a state where one interacts with another with (from) a higher consciousness. It’s not about “deciding” to do so; it’s about an “inner knowing” that I choose to connect. It’s heart-felt, love-based. Empathy results from “going inside,” asking our hearts if our unconscious, subconscious, or conscious “stories” about others are honest, sincere, and authentic or are really defense mechanisms to protect my “ego” self, suppress or repress my fears about others. Higher consciousness allows us to enter into communication and harmony with others from a place of a “universal mind” where we relate to others as “my brothers and sisters.”

From a place of true and real empathy, i.e., higher consciousness, the energy of love and warmth fills the space between two people (or peoples), not the energy of coldness, resistance or resentment of a “me vs. you” ego-perspective. Empathy allows equality between and among individuals, all individuals.

Higher consciousness, not cognition, is the “secret sauce” of cooperation, collaboration, compassion and connection with others. Higher consciousness is a heart-based state that allows me to “feel your pain” – I am you.

Empathy is not thinking
What’s needed is a shift from an unconscious, subconscious and even conscious state, and cognition, that puts a microscope on our emotional, psychological and spiritual orientation to the planet and the peoples inhabiting it. This internal exploration is quiet, slow, continuous and intentional. It’s not “thinking about,” it’s not intellectual. Here we query our heart, not our mind.

Einstein said “The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.” My take here is that “thinking” is not the problem, but consciousness. While folks may be thinking differently, they are not moving in a sustainable way to a higher level of consciousness, of “be-ing” differently, of truly transforming (I’m no longer the person I was.). And this is the challenge – without transforming, we have old wine, new wine skins. Not sustainable.

The Indian Philosopher Krishnamurti said: “Thoughts are like furniture in a room with the windows and doors closed.” I wrote about  this recently. Much of the dialogue, books, articles and sharings of well-meaning folks who seek “solutions” to incivility, cross-cultural and social issues are in this room, with the doors and windows closed. Lots of listening, agreeing, disagreeing, and “solutions,” but it’s the same old furniture, only now with different colors and textures. Why? Discussions are mostly intellectual and cognitive. Only the heart will allow fresh air and lead to true and real change and transformation.

Empathy is co-relating
The solutions to our challenges are not about new (cognitive) flavors of democracy, freedom, economics and the like; they are about co–relating and co-creating on a spiritual (not religious or theological), deeper, heart-felt level. Our mean-spiritedness, anger, mistrust, and intolerance will not be reduced or eliminated by a cognitive understanding alone, but through the application of the salve of a higher consciousness produced by our hearts and souls. True empathy is not a matter of cognition. It’s a matter of heart. The common ground we seek to find is not in the real estate of the brain; but in the fertile fields of our hearts.

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • Have you engaged in uncivil, demeaning, or disrespectful behavior recently? Did you justify your behavior? How so?
  • How do you generally interact with folks who think/believe/live differently from you? Truthfully.
  • Do you live life from an “I need to be right” perspective? If so, why do you think that’s so? Where/How did you learn to come from this perspective?
  • Do you ever view compromise as a weakness? How about being empathetic?
  • Do you ever rationalize or justify another’s uncivil or disrespectful behavior? If so, how or why?
  • Do you ever use “passion” as an excuse to behave inappropriately?
  • Have others ever accused you of behaving in an uncivil manner? If so, how did you respond to their accusations?
  • How did you, your family, deal with disagreement or the notion of being “different” as you were growing up?
  • What do you notice if/when you think others on the planet are your brothers and sisters? What’s your comfort level around this notion?
  • Can you envision a world where it’s possible folks respond to disagreement or differences without being uncivil, bullying, angry, enraged, fearful or otherwise disrespectful?

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(c) 2020, 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