“I think; therefore, I am……not”

self-reflection

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do you know who you really are?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some questions for self-refection: 

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

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(c) 2018, Peter G. Vajda, Ph.D. and True North Partnering. All rights in all media reserved.

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

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

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

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

You can also follow me on Twitter: @petergvajda.

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

One Down* – Two to Go**

 

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

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

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

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

Body:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mind:

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

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

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

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

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

Spirit:

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

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

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

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

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

Some questions for self-reflection:

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

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(c) 2018, Peter G. Vajda, Ph.D. and True North Partnering. All rights in all media reserved.

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

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

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

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

You can also follow me on Twitter: @petergvajda.

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

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Are “Difficult” People Really Difficult?

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

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

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

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

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

Here are three self-reflective questions to ask:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some questions for self-reflection:

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

———————————–——————
(c) 2018, Peter G. Vajda, Ph.D. and True North Partnering. All rights in all media reserved.

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

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

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

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

You can also follow me on Twitter: @petergvajda.

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

LUI – Living Under the Influence

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

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

“What influence?,” you might ask.

Well, there’s influence and there’s influence

The usual suspects

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

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

The unusual suspects

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

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

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

Escape – denial and withdrawal

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

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

Why do we choose to be influenced?

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

Influencers are a wake-up call

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

The antidote to influence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, some questions for self-reflection:

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

 

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(c) 2018, Peter G. Vajda, Ph.D. and True North Partnering. All rights in all media reserved.

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

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

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

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

You can also follow me on Twitter: @petergvajda.

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

Pointing Fingers

finger

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some questions for self-reflection:

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

——————————————-———-
(c) 2018, Peter G. Vajda, Ph.D. and True North Partnering. All rights in all media reserved.

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

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

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

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

You can also follow me on Twitter: @petergvajda.

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

Identity – Who Are You?

So-who-are-you

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“When I discover who I am, I’ll be free”
– Ralph Ellison

“Identification” or “identity” is one way we use to define who we are. Either historically, or in the present moment, we come to view ourselves in some way, shape or form that identifies “who I am.” Identity can take the form of an image, an impression, an emotion or feeling, or a body sensation and make it one of the many building blocks that define “me.” Forms of identity that we took on early in life or create in the present moment might include: I am a strong man; I am an optimist; I am an extrovert; I am a spiritual person; I am a happy person; I am a fearful person; I am a worrier;  I am a manager; I am a parent, etc.

When we speak about “identity” what we are saying is that I AM this quality or image, even if I am not consciously aware of this quality or image in the moment, even if I am not speaking this to myself in the moment. It’s a “given.” This quality  or image is part of the fabric of who I take myself to be, i.e., who I am. We believe it is True – with a capital T.

For example, let’s use how we might identify with an emotion, anger. If I am identified with my anger (I am an angry person…quietly angry, usually seething,  or overtly angry, usually very vocal in my anger…as a general way of being), then my response to a person, event or circumstance that I am experiencing says in some way, “I want to be angry,” or “I need to be angry,” or “I can justify my anger,” or “I have a right to be angry,” etc. and then proceed to act out on my anger. I identify with my anger. My anger is who I am.

If I am not identified with my anger, that is, seeing that I do get angry from time to time, but not being identified with my anger, I can witness the same person, event or circumstance and feel or sense my anger and say, “OK, so I feel some anger. It’s here and it’ll subside. I’ll just be with it, observe it in me and allow it to dissipate” without having to “do” anything about it, i.e., act it out, or “get” angry.

Identification means we define ourselves by something. – I AM that something – that image, that emotion, that feeling. Who I believe I am is not separate from that quality or image.

Identification also means that I am invested in that quality. I have a conscious wanting or needing to be that quality or image.

So, one clue as to whether we are identified to a particular quality is look at how we respond to an event in the moment.

When we are identified by a quality, or an image (of who I am), we are taken over by that quality or image when we experience an event. It’s a pull, like an addiction. We live much of our life addicted to having an identity, not wanting to be free of that identity and and are continually creating that identity. I am….(fill in the blank).

As we go through life, we take on, and shed, various identities.

We take on identities related to our work or career, identities related to being a man or woman, identities related to sports, education, spirituality, to our beauty, our nationality, to being a happy child or an abused child, being the black sheep of the family, being the “happy (sad…) one – all identities which we want everyone to know. The deal is that we then believe that if we let go of out identity, we will be no one, we will lose our sense of “who I am” – we become disconnected from our True and Real self.

The point?
When we came into the world we came in without any “identity” so to speak; we were a “tabla rosa,” (and I know are differing perspectives on this) a clean slate.  In that state, we were free, light, natural, easy, relaxed, simple (in the positive sense). This state, called presence, is still within us, still accessible.  In a state of presence, we need no mental operations to create “who I am,” i.e., we need no identifications.  We just are. I am!

In this state of presence we have no need to “identify.” We have a sense of confidence, groundedness and surety. However, when we let go of this state, when in the throes of stress, conflict, overwhelm, or confusion, we forget who we are and then sense the need to grasp on to an “identity” to make me feel safe.

When we don’t trust our True and Real self, when we stray from the Essence of who we were when we came into this existence, our reactive inclination is to grab on to an image or identity of “who I am” and then shove this identity on to others to show them “I am (this or that)” – a need to be seen as this or that. In this place, we are not be-ing, we are not authentic, and we are not trusting of our Essential nature.

How to disidentify
When we see that we are caught up in an identity, we can begin the process of letting go of it, not by efforting, not by “working” on it, but simply by becoming aware of it, noticing it, seeing it for what it is. As you become aware of the identity, observe it, watch it and witness it, it will begin to dissolve over time. If you are not willing to be free of your identification, then, yes, you are deeply identified. If you are willing to become free of your identification, slowly it will fall away.

Finally, you are not “bad” or “wrong” for having identifications. It’s part of the psycho-emotional developmental process of life. But it’s not part of who we have to be. That’s the choice.

When we are able to disassociate from our identities, then we can be more real, and more authentic in our everyday experiences – at work, at home, at play and in relationship.

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • What identifications define you?
  • Who are you?
  • What reactions, attitudes, preferences, “stories,” desires and attachments can help you recognize how you are identified?
  • How do you feel about your identifications?
  • Do your identifications constrain you in your everyday life experiences? How so?
  • When do you feel most free of identifications?
  • Who would you be and how would you feel if you were not (fill in with one of you identifications – an image, an emotion…)?
  • If you asked your best friend what s/he saw as your identifications, what would s/he say? Would you agree?
  • Why do you choose your identities? What do they “get” you?
  • Can you visualize having no identifications? What does that feel like?
  • How did you come to have the identifications you have?
  • Without your identities, would you feel (a) more or less secure, (b) more or less free?

—————————————————–
(c) 2018, Peter G. Vajda, Ph.D. and True North Partnering. All rights in all media reserved.

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

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

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

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

You can also follow me on Twitter: @petergvajda.

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

Friendship and Burgers

 

burger.png

Speaker pageFacebook Page, Becoming a Better You book page

The New Oxford American Dictionary has an entry which was a recent Word of the Year: unfriend. If you’re not familiar with the Ins and Outs of social networking , or don’t have children, it means: “to remove someone as a ‘friend’ on a social networking site such as Facebook.” The dictionary offers the example: “I decided to unfriend my roommate on Facebook after we had a fight.”
The etymologists and lexicographers can argue the merits of unfriend vs. de-friend, or the verb vs. adjectival form. I’m curious about the deeper psycho-emotional-spiritual experience of “unfriending.”

When you unfriend someone, there’s no dialogue, no conversation and no discussion. You choose their name, click on a command and poof!, your friend(ship) is instantaneously deleted. As for how your “friend” reacts when they find out, I guess that’s their problem. Such is the nature of online friendship. In and out – quick and easy. As for connection, trust and intimacy? Those seem to be superfluous.

So, here we go again. The arguments supporting how one can so easily create community, connection and communion in social networks, where deep trust and intimacy become the glue that binds one’s friendships again appear specious – arguments offered by those who have some underlying emotional/ need to offer them.

Intimacy vs. the mundane
From what I read, hear and observe about social networks, true and real intimacy, connection and communion are the exception that prove the rule. Friendship for most is, at best, casual. The banal, desultory, and mundane exchanges, or the rehashing and back-and-forth of everyday ideas and information in an effort to (1) connect, (2) feel seen and appreciated, (3) massage one’s ego, (4) feel secure and un-abandoned or (5) disengage from what one should really be engaged in, are not the stuff of True and Real Friendship.

How and why would I choose to delete a “friend” in the blink of an eye? And what is that friendship like in the first place? What’s the foundation on which I’ve built such a friendship? Intimacy, trust, and connection? Doubtful.

As loudly as one argues, True and Real Friendship cannot be created over the ethers. The appearance and perhaps momentary “connection” that one feels with an online “relationship” is no different from a real-time “long-distance” relationship. And we know that many, if not most, long distance relationships don’t work out in the long run, especially when the two partners eventually come face to face for the long term. Why?

Personal-ness
In a word – personal-ness. The one most-important building block of a conscious, healthy and strong relationship is emotional connection – the emotional connection that kicks in when two folks are sitting face-to-face, knee-to-knee, eye-to-eye and heart-to-heart. An emotional connection – the good, the bad and the ugly – that arises when “physical space and contact” are the ground of connection – a ground that, for all intents and purposes, is lacking in social networking. That’s not to say a “feel-good” emotional substitute is impossible; it’s not; but it is a substitute – the type of “feel-good” feeling one might experience in the initial throes of an affair, or when ensconced in an alcohol or drug “high.” But it’s not the True and Real interpersonal-ness that occurs in personal connection – thus, one major reason one experiences little to no remorse or discomfort in “unfriending” someone. The “void” makes it easy. There is no True and Real emotional or “human” connection in a “void.”  In fact, there is no True and Real Friendship with the “friend” one is “unfriending.” Imaginary or superficial friendship, perhaps; but that’s all.

Oh, and the kicker?
A few ears back, Burger King unveiled its new offering – the Angry Whopper app. BK aligned with Facebook, creating an app to help promote its new burger. Instead of encouraging folks to join Facebook, and create new “friends,” Burger King’s new Whopper Sacrifice App offers you a free Whopper if you “defriend” ten folks from your friend list. Friends and friendship – so elusive, ephemeral and expendable. And folks are still talking about it!

The spiritualist Joan Borysenko writes: “We cannot serve at a distance. We can only serve that to which we are profoundly connected, that which we are willing to touch.”

Without heart-felt, intimate and True and Real emotional connection, friends and friendship will continue to erode into superficial, casual contacts – “friends” that we would just as easily “unfriend” for a burger! Pass the ketchup, please.

How sad!

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • How do you generally communicate with folks at work? In person or electronically (even when in-person is very do-able)? How about with your partner/spouse or children during the day?
  • How do you differentiate between True and Real friends and casual friends?
  • Do you have trust issues with any of your friends?
  • Are you usually emotionally available when folks need you? Are your friends emotionally there for you?
  • Have you “dropped” a friend, or been “dropped”  by a friend recently? Why? What was that like for you? How so?
  • Do you ever feel lonely, isolated or depressed? How so?
  • All things being equal, if you had the chance, would you tell your online friends when you’re coming to their city or town and ask to see them in person? If they came to your town, would you invite them to dine with your family? If not, why not?
  • Do you avoid face-to-face conversations?
  • In what other ways do you avoid emotional connection with others?
  • Are you addicted to Twitter, Facebook or other social networking sites?
  • Do you have more online friends than “real-time” friends? If so, why?

—————————————————–
(c) 2018, Peter G. Vajda, Ph.D. and True North Partnering. All rights in all media reserved.

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

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

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

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

You can also follow me on Twitter: @petergvajda.

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

States and Stages – Growing Old vs. Growing Up

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“The least of things with a meaning is worth more in life than the greatest of things without it.” – Carl Jung

Do you know any 20-somethings – at work, at home, at play – who are “wise beyond their years?” Not intellect, intelligence, book knowledge or trivial facts. But in their orientation to, and perspective about, life and living. Conversely, do you know any 40-somethings, 50-somethings, 60-somethings or 70-somethings who are childish (not child-like) in the way they approach life and living, i.e, psycho-emotionally behaving like children?

Stages – phases of adult life
Developmental psychologists and anthropologists often view life as a series of developmental stages – characterized as turning points where opportunities or pivotal moments present themselves – opportunities for growth. The stages are chronological: 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, etc. Generally, folks in their 20s may come to view life and answer life’s questions from a different perspective from folks in their 30s; folks in their 60s may come to view life and answer life’s questions from a perspective different from folks in their 40s etc. So, depending on what life stage or phase one is in, one may respond differently to questions like:

  • What do you love about your work?
  • How aware are you of your motives for acting and interacting?
  • Are you aware of your deepest fears, motives and impulses?
  • Who are you?
  • Why are you on the planet?
  • Are you a trusting and trustworthy individual?
  • How do you demonstrate trust, trustworthiness and integrity?
  • What causes you to act counter to your values or your heart?
  • What do you get from relationships?
  • What is your relationship to money?
  • What are you doing with your life, and why?
  • Is this all there is?
  • What should you do with your life now?

From a spiritual perspective, individuals in the early stages of life often create a “false self” – a self based mostly on “externals” – a self that is caught up in the “packaging” of one’s self, ego needs for control, recognition and security, a self that lives life more unconsciously, robotically, instinctively and according to reactive, unconscious habits and patterned ways of do-ing and be-ing.

While the answers to such questions are often based on the particular stage one is in, they are equally based on the “state” (level of consciousness) one is experiencing as well – the reason a 20-something can be “wise beyond her years” and a 60-something can behave (psycho-emotionally) like a 6-7-8 year old. (“Stop acting like a child!,” “Grow up!”- we sometimes say to an “adult.” )

States — phases of consciousness
So, along with the chronological stages that appear at 20, 30, and 40, etc., there are the conscious states that accompany the stages. As one grows older, one can move from a “false self” to a place where one is conscious, truly conscious, about “be-ing” – as a a son, daughter, father, mother, friend, colleague, mentor, wise person, benefactor, and/or one’s True and Real Self.

Stages cannot be juxtaposed; they are not malleable or transferable; however, states can occur at any time, during any stage.

From a more psycho/emotional/spiritual perspective, the degree to which one “matures” as they progress through these life stages depends on how “conscious” one is during the transitions, i.e, what conscious “state” they are experiencing – i.e., how in touch one is with one’s heart, core values, emotions, feelings and life purpose; to what degree one is self-reflective and aware of “who one is” and “how one is” in living life – at work, at home, at play and in relationship – a consciousness that comes not from “external drivers” but from an intuitive, guided, truthful, loving and universal sense from within.

So, for each of the questions, above, the initial answer is: “It depends.” It depends at which stage one is and what state one is experiencing.

We can also “grow” through “stages of states of consciousness” – our consciousness itself can grow and mature – moving from ego-centric, for example, to ethno-centric, to world-centric, to cosmic-centric and beyond. The move through the psychological “stages of conscious states” is also developmental – one follows the other; they are sequential.The important point here is that “states of consciousness” can be experienced during any and all stages.

So, this is why, generally, folks in their 20s may respond to the same questions differently from folks in their 30s; folks in their 30s differently from those in their 40s, etc.,

Becoming conscious
States of consciousness are accessed through spiritual practices – e.g., meditation or prayer; physical practices like martial arts, Tai Chi or yoga; or through the “sacredness” of art, deep intimacy, sexuality, and relationships.

The stage-state dynamic is the reason different folks interpret the same “reality” – event, circumstance, person, or place – differently; it depends on their state when they do the interpreting.

Each of the questions, above, will generate responses depending on the (psycho/emotional/spiritual) state of the one inquiring. Looking at the questions, “Is this all there is?,” or “What should I do with my life now?,” the person in their 20s might answer with, “Heck, I’ll just have to try a different drug;” the person in their 40s, “I’ll just have to try a different spouse/partner;” the person in their 60s, “I’ll work for the good of humanity instead of just for myself.”

Psycho/emotional/spiritual growth is about finding a connection between where one is in the course of their life (stage), the issues they’re facing and the psycho/emotional/spiritual state where one is. A highly “conscious” person may very successfully deal with and resolve issues in their 20s whereas an “unconscious” person in their 50s or 60s, may still react to life’s issues and challenges as they did in their 20s with no appreciable resolution – having grown “old,” but never “up” – aged but not matured emotionally, psychologically or spiritually. Such folks often feel “lost” and meander, stumble, grope, and flounder through life and relationships.

When we understand the nature of stages and states in life, we are more able to experience a true sense of well-be-ing in whatever life stage we happen to be in. The opposite is also true. Many folks unsuccessfully navigate the various stages in their life as they have never become conscious, or self-aware of their state.

When we ask these questions from a deeper level – exploring the truth of our “stories,” our rationales, our assumptions, our premises, our reactions, judgments and worldviews – we are reflecting at a higher level of consciousness. As we consciously and honestly reflect on how we typically move through our day – at work, at home, at play and in relationship – we use our heart and body’s inner wisdom and intelligence and open up to higher states of consciousness. From this place we are more able to live a life of balance and harmony, a life that is inner-directed, a life that is characterized by wisdom and maturity – not years.

Such is the difference between “growing old” and “growing up.”

“There is not one big cosmic meaning for all, there is only the meaning we each give to our life, an individual meaning, an individual plot, like an individual novel, a book for each.” –  Anais Nin

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • How old are you, chronologically?
  • How old do you feel you are emotionally? What would others say if you asked them?
  • Is you life at work, at home, at play and in relationship authentic and inspiring? If not, why not?
  • Do you experience meaning, passion, and purpose in your life? How so? Why do you get out of bed in the morning?
  • Do you have a spiritual (i.e., not religious or theological) practice focused on self-inquiry, curiosity?
  • What are your five most important values? Do you lives these values in your day-to-day life? How so?
  • Are you truly happy or do you strive and effort to live the appearance of happiness?
  • How self-aware (vs. being habitual, robotic and reactive) are in your day-to-day interactions?
  • As you grow older, are you growing up? What’s supporting you to grow up? How so? What have you been witnessing or observing about yourself in your growing-up process – mentally, physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually? How so?

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(c) 2018, Peter G. Vajda, Ph.D. and True North Partnering. All rights in all media reserved.

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

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

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

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

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

Are you “shoulding” all over yourself?

finger

Speaker pageFacebook Page, Becoming a Better You book page

“Guilt is defined as internalized anger over perceived and unwanted obligations.” – Lloyd J. Thomas

Do you walk through life – at work, at home, at play and in relationship – “should-ing” all over yourself? Do you feel overwhelmed consistently carrying the burden of “I should?” Do you notice how feeling guilty all the time leads to feelings of resentment, frustration or anger – whether or not you do what you think you should? Either way you lose – guilt remains. “Shoulding” never results in experiencing inner peace or well-be-ing – ever.

The underlying self-defeating message of “shoulding” is “I’m supposed to live up to my own or someone else’s expectation or demands – a parent, a relative, a friend, a cultural norm, a media mantra – that somehow I need to live my life do-ing or be-ing in a way that demands “I should.” The self-defeating aspect is that, consciously or unconsciously, “shoulding” keeps one in a consistent emotional state of emotional reactivity.

Stop “shoulding” and start “choosing”
“A life of reaction is a life of slavery, intellectually and spiritually. One must fight for a life of action, not reaction.” – Rita Mae Brown

The antidote to “I should” is “I choose.” Changing our internal script from should to choose fosters empowerment and ownership – we are in charge, in control. The energy of “choice” is empowering and freeing – even if I choose not to be or not to do. Choice lifts the burden of guilt. I am indebted to no one. Our inner judge and critic that wags its finger and shakes its critical and judgmental head when I don’t do what I should is now silenced. Freedom and lightness arise. We can breathe deeply.

Consider:
I choose to get started on that report. I choose to ask a friend/colleague to lunch. I choose to leave early to attend my daughter’s dance recital. I choose to live a lifestyle that makes me happy. I choose the marriage ceremony that I want. I choose to walk for half an hour. I choose a profession that is meaningful to me. I choose social activities that energize me and support my values. Choices – my choices. I’m consciously choosing to take charge of my life.

The freedom that comes with making my own choices allows for two responses:

  1. No. I consciously don’t choose to do/be that in this moment. I can choose to do/be at a later date, or maybe not at all. And that’s perfectly OK. I’m the master of my life and I make the choices I want to make.
  2. Yes. I consciously choose to (do/be) and I also know I’ll feel better – if not in the immediate moment, at least afterwards.

When I choose, I am in charge; I am strongly grounded in my decision and I have the power to make that choice. I feel empowered; I am not a victim. I’m not living according to my own or anyone else’s “programming.” I’m conscious and awake in my choosing.

“The more I give myself permission to live in the moment and enjoy it without feeling guilty or judgmental about any other time, the better I feel about the quality of my work.” – Wayne Dyer

What “shoulding” can teach us
If you live life enmeshed in guilt – consistently telling yourself “I should,” now is the best time to inquire into why you live in a prison of guilt. When you increase your level of self-awareness (understanding why I’m living this way) you increase your capacity to live life at cause instead of at effect. When you live life at cause, you are in charge, in control; you choose. When you live at effect, you are reactive, living like a puppet whose strings are controlled by some belief, person or force that tells you how to do, be or have. You’re a victim.

So, here’s an exercise that can support you to free yourself from the “prison of should” and take charge of your life, to live at cause:

  • Explore your beliefs (“shoulds”) around an area of your life (e.g., career and livelihood, intimacy and partnership, personal and spiritual growth, friends and family, health and wellness, personal environment and organization, abundance and finances, play and recreation). List some of those beliefs (shoulds).
  • As you explore these beliefs, observe, watch and witness how you react when you say each belief aloud. What happens in your body? What feelings, emotions and bodily sensations do you experience? What are your breathing and heart rate like? Your posture? What self-judgments come from your Inner Judge and Critic?
  • How has your behavior been programmed by this belief?
  • What might happen if you choose not to follow this belief? How does your body feel, what feelings or emotions come up? Do you feel guilty? Is there someone else’s voice underneath this belief that is telling you, “Hey, you should do/be this way?” Whose voice is it? Do you feel guilty if you even think about not obeying this voice? Why?
  • What would happen if you made a modest test and chose to not follow this belief, to act against this particular “should” today, this week, at this event or in this circumstance?

This practice can support you to become conscious of “who I am” and “how I am” in my life – at work, at home, at play and in relationship – how you live habitually and reactively and not from a place of conscious choice.

Consciously doing this exercise can give you invaluable information about you self. Knowing what makes you tick and behave the way you do can support you to make conscious, healthier choices and give you greater control of your life – reducing and eliminating the “programming” that has run your life. When you stop “shoulding” on yourself, you allow your mind, body and spirit to take a deep breath of relaxation and engage in life with a heightened sense of empowerment, control and well-be-ing.

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • Do you feel guilty much of the time? What “should” causes you to feel guilty? What would happen if you “chose” to act differently? How so?
  • What beliefs about life make you feel guilty, angry or resentful? What “shoulds” are involved? Whose “shoulds” are they?
  • What beliefs or “shoulds” cause you guilt around food, exercise, family, friends, work, finances, organization, and other areas of your life? Why?
  • What commitment or promises have you made that cause you to feel guilt or fear? Why did you make these commitments? Were you acting at cause or at effect?
  • Do you go along to get along at work, at home, at play or in relationship? Does this behavior bring you happiness and inner peace, or guilt and resentment? Why?
  • Can you choose to banish the word “should” from your vocabulary for one day, or one week?
  • Was “you should…” a familiar refrain when you were growing up? Have you brought childhood “shoulds” into your adult life? How so? Do they lead to inner peace, harmony and well-being or to fear, resentment and guilt?

“Guilt is anger directed at ourselves–at what we did or did not do.” – Peter McWilliams, Life 101

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(c) 2018, Peter G. Vajda, Ph.D. and True North Partnering. All rights in all media reserved.

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

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

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

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

You can also follow me on Twitter: @petergvajda.

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

Touching Up Your Photo – and Reality

dog image1

Speaker pageFacebook Page, Becoming a Better You book page

“Those who would preserve the spirit, must also look after the body to which it is attached.” – Einstein

Many countries require manufacturers to place health warnings on tobacco and alcohol products, and on processed foods containing genetically modified ingredients.

A recent news item points to the French government’s campaign requiring all photos appearing in advertisements, on product labels and on campaign posters to show a warning if they feature a photograph that’s been digitally enhanced.

Of course, the advertising industry is beside itself arguing that such rules undermine the attraction of “perfectly photographed people.”  Many advertisers could care less that confusing an enhanced photo with the real thing is misleading. Those supporting the new rules want warning labels to say something to the effect, “Image retouched to modify the physical appearance of this person.” A fine would be imposed for violations.

So, what about me? The deeper question
OK, so we’re being taken for a ride by the advertising and marketing industries. We’re pretty much aware of that. However, the deeper question is, “Who am I taking for a ride by the image I put out to folks?”

What image do I want folks to have of me and is that image my True, Real and Authentic Self? Or, am I altering and enhancing my own image to persuade the world that I am who I’m not? Here are four short scenarios around “self-enhanced” images. See if any resonates with you:

First, physically. How do I dress and carry myself? Am I enhancing myself in some way? What do my clothes, my accessories, and my posture say about me and how does this image sync up with who I am inside? What kind of persona am I trying to project? And why? Am I appearing successful when I’m not or unsuccessful when I am? Am I “puffed up” when, in reality, I feel lost, unsafe or insecure?

Second, mentally. Do I enhance my image by projecting a walking “Trivial Pursuit” persona, a know-it-all, a faux intellectual who is always spouting facts and others’ ideas but who never has an original thought of my own? Do I use my intellect as a shield against allowing others in?

Third, emotionally. Am I projecting a happy-go-lucky persona when, inside, I am unhappy, sad, depressed, angry, jealous or ashamed? Am I projecting a quiet, silent-type, a “go-along-to-get-along” accommodating persona when inside I disagree, or want to have my voice and be heard?

Fourth, spiritually. Do I project a chameleon-type personality, espousing others’ values and causes, even when they go against my inner Core Values? Do I engage in the art of the “put-down,” gossip or bullying even though deep down I know it’s inappropriate?

False expectations and living in a parallel world
“The gentlemen in Berlin are gambling on me as If I were a prize hen. I don’t even know whether I’m going to lay another egg.” – Einstein

Enhancing our own image is based on false expectations – I’ll gain acceptance, recognition, approval and love by projecting the enhanced version of “me” – expectations that at some point will lose their allure, their luster and, in the end, reflect the unenhanced “me.” How will I react when that happens – if it hasn’t happened already?

Living a daily life that is more a minute to minute, hour to hour, person to person conflict between my expectations and my reality is the basic source of unhappiness. Not only that, living the enhanced life is exhausting – mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

The enhanced version and the negative
While the French legislators would impose prison terms and fines for people who promote and encourage this digital enhancement, what consequences do you experience from putting out a persona that promotes an unreal and fake you?

Choosing to be “enhanced,” rather than authentic and real, we never get to work on ourselves, never get to mature and develop, never get to forward the action of our life – experience true and meaningful self-fulfillment. And, sadly, the enhanced version says, deep down – and we all know it – “I” don’t exist. “Dead Man Walking” is the title of a once-popular motion picture. Isn’t that who we project when we enhance our “photo” and present it to the world as “me?” And, is Dead (Wo)man Walking the title of the enhanced image that reflects how you live your life?

Some questions for self-refection:

  • In what ways do you allow your True and Real Self to show up? And how do you suppress your True and Real Self through enhancement?
  • Would your spouse/partner, co-workers, colleagues and friends describe you as being an “authentic” person?
  • Are you aware when you are “enhancing” your image? What does enhancing your image get you? How so?
  • Do you ever long to be “real” with anyone? What prevents your real-ness? How so?
  • What was being “real” like when you were growing up? Were you around “real” people?
  • Do you ever give away your power, your voice or your real-ness? Why? And how does that make you feel?
  • Can you envision a world where folks are real and there’s no need for “enhancing” one’s image?

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(c) 2018, Peter G. Vajda, Ph.D. and True North Partnering. All rights in all media reserved.

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

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

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

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

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