Friendship and Burgers

 

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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?

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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

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?

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“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

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“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

Why?

curiosity

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Our childhood curiosity
It’s the one question we learned in childhood that often drove our parents or primary caregivers up the wall. Even as adults, our various flavors of “why?” can still drive others nuts — at work, at home, at play and in relationship. And, many of us continue to ask “Why?” over and over — not satisfied with the initial answer.

Often, when we asked “Why?” as children, the responses we got didn’t satisfy us or make sense. In addition, when we heard something like, “I don’t know,” or “That’s a dumb question,” or “Because that’s just the way it is,” or “It’s a mystery,” and the like, we learned to stop asking. Many of us lost our curiosity and our inquisitiveness.

In reality, we did not really lose this part of our self, we repressed it, stuffed it down. But, deep down, many of us still have a burning desire to know “why.”  For example, this is why, unconsciously, so many of us long to know the meaning of life.

The search for meaning
The search for meaning is basically a search for significance — significance of what is not obvious. When we find answers, sometimes they are objective — questions about day-to-day life details, facts, and so on. (Think: “Why is the sky blue?”)

On a meta level, however, “Why?” is about life itself and its attendant puzzles, challenges and conundrums — e.g., questions about pain and suffering, death and separation, etc. In the final analysis, the “Why?” is really about “me” – Who am I? Why am I here? What is the meaning of my life’s experience?

These deeper questions cannot be answered with objective facts or details. When we grow our soul and move to higher or deeper levels of consciousness, we move towards what we know as “enlightenment” — higher or deeper levels of knowing and understanding that really aren’t “knowledge” as we would define it in a Western way.

So, what’s the point?
Finding meaning and gaining “higher” understanding is not about escaping from, detouring around or eliminating life’s challenges. Suffering will still exist, for example, but we don’t have to have “pain” (emotional, psychological and/or spiritual) around it. We can choose to move beyond feeling like a victim, for example.

Death will still remain an inevitability, but we can choose to approach it from a place of inner peace and equanimity, not abject fear, denial or resistance. Understanding the deeper meaning of a painful relationship, for example, can move us to a place where we can love once more.

We all have this deep inner longing to know “why.” Sometimes we do repress it, or stay in denial, or resist it (like, metaphorically, when we were children we might place our hands over our ears and shout so we didn’t have to listen to unpleasant noise, shouting or to what was being said).

However, resisting our deep inner urge to know “why” is a futile attempt to live life from an ego-driven, rather than a heart- or soul-driven, place.

And, for those of you who are still placing your hands over your ears, what would it feel like if you asked yourself “Why?”

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • If you played back the tape of your day today, or yesterday, what might you see about your motives for your actions and behaviors?
  • Identify a recent emotional experience and explore the deeper meaning behind it. Why do you think that experience happened FOR (not TO) you?
  • Take some quiet time and ask yourself, “What questions about my self and my life am I avoiding?” Why do you think you’re resisting asking yourself such questions? Tell the truth.
  • Why do you think you’re on the planet?
  • How did your parents/primary caregivers, friends, relatives and teachers respond when you asked “Why?”
  • Were you curious as a child? Are you now? 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

Commitment and Harmony

harmony

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What is a commitment?
A commitment is an agreement that is (1) a fact demonstrated by observable and measurable behavior and (2) an attitude that reflects a consistency and alignment in thought and belief.

For example, a committed relationship is one where one’s behavior demonstrates commitment in an operational and observable way and one where one’s thoughts and beliefs about the relationship are consistent, and in alignment with, the notion of commitment.

If one says one is in a committed relationship but never has time for one’s partner, that is not commitment.

If one spends 95% of one’s time with one’s partner but is consistently wishing or wanting to be elsewhere, not sure if the relationship is the right one, or fantasizing being with another person or persons, that is not commitment.

What is harmony?
Harmony is a state in which there is congruence among what one says, feels, thinks and does. When one or more of these four elements is not in alignment with the others, one will not experience harmony; rather, one will experience a feeling of imbalance, a feeling of being “off,” that results in little true and real joy, happiness, meaning or purposefulness. In a state of imbalance, one is moving robotic-like though life – at work, at home, at play and in relationship.

When we’re committed, we show we care deeply and are engaged – yes, even at work.

Conscious commitment
For commitment to be conscious and healthy, four elements are necessary: (1) be clear about who you are, what you want in life and know how to get what you want; (2) have a clear set of well-defined goals for your life (at work, at home, at play and in relationship); these goals must be in alignment with who you are, and your core values; (3) conscious preparation for the commitment – have the physical, mental, emotional, intellectual, social, psychological and communication skills that will support your choice to commit; and (4) actually committing – making the conscious choice to commit, engage and participate.

The path to true and real happiness is paved with commitment. No commitment, no happiness. Perhaps a faux happiness, the appearance of happiness, but not the real thing – a phony and fake happiness that is ever ephemeral, and fleeting. Always looking for more and for “the next best thing,” or person.

Unhappiness
Consider those who consistently say they are unhappy – at work, at home, at play and in relationship. What’s most often lacking is commitment. How so?

Most probably because they have never truly (consciously) sat down and reflected on their deeper, core life requirements or the core values underneath such requirements. More likely, what they have done (beginning in childhood and moving through adolescence and into early adulthood) is come up with a list of work-life-play requirements based on someone else’s beliefs of what’s right, necessary, good or important and as a result became indoctrinated along the way with other folks’ beliefs about what’s important – parents, extended family members, media, Reality TV, politicians, corporations, friends, salespeople, competitors, teachers, clergy, academics, bosses, military leaders, and the like.

But, sadly and unfortunately, they never took the time and energy to consciously explore inside and ask themselves what they really, really want – an exploration that comes from their deeper, heart-felt, soul-driven place.  Rather, they followed lock-step, or blindly, someone else’s vision or goal. It’s no wonder they cannot experience commitment.

Signs of lack of commitment
One way to identify those who’ve never taken the time to deeply and consciously explore work-life-play-relationship commitment in a truly meaningful and purposeful way is to observe how they are characterized by (1) a lack of clarity about their life purpose, their core values or the place of spirituality in their life; (2) a consistent tendency to look outside themselves for life’s “answers;” (3) a limited ability for, or tendency to, self-reflect; (4) a lack of clarity about “who I am;” and (5) a low-grade-fever type of state where they experience frustration, overwhelm, agitation, unhappiness and discontent on a regular basis.

The first step to exploring commitment, in a conscious and healthy way, is to look at the discrepancy that exists between commitment in fact and commitment in attitude to see what’s causing the discrepancy. HINT – the cause is never “out there.” The inquiry begins with personal responsibility, by honestly asking:

“What’s going on with me that accounts for my lack of engagement or commitment (either in fact and/or in attitude)?”
“Why don’t I have what I want?”
“Why does having what I think I want always lead me to feeling unhappy, empty, lonely and unfulfilled?”
“Why do I always feel I’m on the outside looking in?”
“Why am I always asking others what they think, feel or believe?”
“Why do I seem to sabotage myself so much?”
“Why am I so jealous and envious of others?”

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • How committed to, and engaged, are you with your activities during your day at work, at home, at play and in relationship? How so?
  • How do you manifest commitment, dedication and passion?
  • With respect to your career, your relationships, your health, your friends, your family and your happiness, how committed are you and how indifferent are you? If you say you are committed and devoted, are you committed in fact and in attitude?  Or, are you just going through the motions, being habitual, or being half-hearted? How might others feel about the degree of your commitment and engagement?
  • Do you ever emotionally, verbally or physically bully, become overbearing, or manipulate others because you are committed against something?
  • Do you find yourself delaying, denying, deferring and procrastinating because you are not 100% committed to someone or something?
  • Do you ever doubt the value of your commitments? If so, when?
  • Are you afraid to let go of that which you are not committed? Why do you hang on?
  • Do you ever “act as if” to make believe you are committed?
  • When was the last time you took time to seriously reflect on who you are, what you want in life or why you may be feeling uncommitted to someone or some thing?
  • How do you know your values are your values and not someone else’s values you just took on as you grew up and matured?
  • Do you ever “go along to get along” when you know “deep down” that it’s bad for you? Why?
  • Do you become defensive when someone questions your life-work choices or your values?
  • Do your values and beliefs ever contradict one another?
  • Do you ever notice a conflict between your external or public voice (what you say to others) and your internal and private voice (what you believe and say to yourself quietly) while in conversation at work, at home or at play? Or in conversation with your spouse/partner? How so? Does this make you curious?
  • Do you feel your life reflects “harmony?”
  • How did you learn about commitment 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

Refusing to Let Go

Letting-go

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“We cannot live the afternoon of life according to the program of life’s morning; for what in the morning was true will in evening become a lie.”  – Carl Jung

Life – at work, at home, at play, and in relationship – evolves daily, even moment to moment.”

We’ve heard the expression “Change is the one constant in life.” Every day we experience change in some way, shape or form. For many, change is unsettling – it unearths our feelings of insecurity, instability and disharmony.

The pain and suffering of change
These uncomfortable feelings and emotions do not come from the change itself. Rather, our experience of the pain and suffering we experience with change results not from the experience of change, but from efforting to hold on – to the past, to familiar ways of thinking, be-ing and do-ing. Perhaps you’ve recently reacted to, or resisted calls for, change in your work, in your life at home, in your relationships or even in the habits and patterns you’re accustomed to in your play and recreation.

Fear of change
Underneath our reactivity to change is some type of fear – e.g., fear of the unknown, fear of new ways of doing things or thinking about things, fear about having to learn something new, fear of letting go, fear of being different and the like. This fear presents a tremendous opportunity for personal and professional growth. How so?

When we experience our fear around change, a powerful question to explore is, “What am I afraid of?” This exploration allows us to dig deeper and understand what’s beneath our fear – an opportunity to see what we can learn about our fear, what fear is telling us. If we enter this exploration from a place of curiosity, rather than from self-judgment (i.e., feeling “bad” or “wrong” with our discomfort around change), we can begin to be at peace with our fear. We can watch it. We can observe it as it moves through us. But we don’t have to “become” it. We can just be with it.

Rather than denying our fear, talking a detour to move around it and bypass it, suppressing it or controlling it, we can lovingly and compassionately invite ourselves to come into direct contact with our fear and see what it wants to teach us about ourselves.

Fear can lead to love
Fear and love are on opposite ends of a continuum. The more we can be with our fear, allow it, understand it and learn from it, the greater our ability to experience life from the love side of the continuum – where change is not so threatening. On the love (of ourself) side, we feel less resistance to change, we are more capable of “going with the flow,”  we have less need to control, and surprisingly, we find we are more trusting when change happens –  at work, at home, at play and in relationship.

The first step towards being OK with change is acceptance – acceptance not of the change, but acceptance of ourself, of our fears around the change, believing that it’s OK to feel our feelings. The next step is to go inside and explore what’s underneath our fears. Really explore and not try to “think” our fear away (an art form in Western culture).

Once you accept yourself as you face change, you become more clear about the causes of your fear, your reactivity and resistance. You develop the capacity to be more open to allow change. Exploring your fear from this place will lead you to “right knowing,” “right understanding” and “right  action” with respect to the change.

Tension leads to growth
The beauty of the fear, and the tension around it, is that without tension growth is not possible.  A seed  cannot grow without tension. Some seeds need cold, some need warmth. When seeds begin to grow, they meet the resistance of their shell. As such, they need to push through the soil –  some even need to push through concrete or macadam – and then against gravity and the wind. The deal is that none of these resistance elements inhibits the seed from growing but, rather, they enhance its growth into a mature and strong plant. This is why fear is an opportunity for growth.

So, at work, and at home, at play and in relationship, we can learn to grow through change – we cannot change and grow while resisting, defending and holding on to the status quo, hanging on to dear life. Change is not a threat to growth but, rather, an integral part of it.

Resisting change for the illusion of “comfort”
Many folks resist change in order to remain “comfortable.” But, the comfort they wish to hang on to is “wrapped” in fear, in a quiet or not-so-quiet mental/emotional state of vigilance or subtle agitation masquerading as “comfort” (always fearful that something or someone will “change”). In this place of “faux” comfort, one cannot experience true and real comfort, true and real inner harmony and peace. What these folks really want is harmony; what they really experience is inertia and numbness.

Harmony comes when one is at peace with one’s life and one’s environment, when one is open to change and adaptation – not resistant to it.

Hanging on for dear life, does not result in a dear life. It results in tension, stress, anxiety, resistance and resentment.

Exploring our fear and resistance is the pathway to harmony and inner peace, personal and professional growth, development, equanimity and balance.

Finally, remember, life is change. Life is choices. Whether you embrace change or come to it kicking and screaming is your choice. We cannot grow and thrive without change, conflict and tension. Avoiding change, denying change, resisting change keeps us feeling like a victim, always wanting to blame someone or something for the way we feel.

When we choose to explore our resistance and fear around change, we learn more about ourselves, become stronger, more courageous, more autonomous, more willful, and more engaged in living life.

Change is an opportunity for us to navigate our world with our eyes “wide open,” not “wide shut.” Change allows us to grow our minds, stretch beyond our mental limits and emotional boundaries. Change allows us to move through life with a greater degree of trust, freedom and harmony.

Moving beyond your fear
So, here’s an exercise to support you to move beyond your fear:

Acknowledge and really feel your fear without judging and criticizing yourself.
Ask your fear what it’s there to tell you. Be alert for inner messages that will bring you greater understanding of your situation. Listen with your heart, your inner self, not your “logical, ego mind.”
Be fully present. Relax into your body. Breathe deeply and continuously into you belly.
Ask your higher self: “What can I do to improve my situation? What do I need to know and understand?”
Taking action on what you discover helps get your energy moving. (Action absorbs anxiety; paralysis doesn’t.)

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • What is your greatest fear? Why do you fear what you’re fearing? How so?
  • Are there aspects of yourself you reject? How so?
  • Where are you experiencing tension or conflict in your life? Where are you struggling to face major challenges? (career, home, play, relationship, finances, health, emotions, etc.?)
  • Do you face change with ATTENTION or TENSION?
  • How can you use tension and conflict to grow stronger, and become more authentic, as you?
  • What is a current change or conflict in your life telling you? What area of potential is it pointing to? What quality about your self is it pointing to? How so?
  • Are your current tensions or conflicts the same as last year, the year before and the year before that? If so, why?
  • Would you characterize yourself as an embracer of change or a victim of change? Why?
  • Do you feel you have the right and the power to decide how anyone or anything can affect you?
  • Would your colleagues, friends or family say you most often embrace change or resist change?
  • Are you hanging on for dear life in some way, shape or form in your life?
  • How did you and your family deal with change as 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

So, you’re taking a summer vacation. Really?

vacation

Speaker pageFacebook Page, Becoming a Better You book page

“What do I want to take home from my summer vacation? Time. The wonderful luxury of being at rest. The days when you shut down the mental machinery that keeps life on track and let life simply wander. The days when you stop planning, analyzing, thinking and just are. Summer is my period of grace.”
Ellen Goodman

New York University sociologist, Dalton Conley, recently coined the term: “weisure” – the result of blurring the line dividing work and leisure. More and more, work is carrying over into folks’ leisure time. It appears that places and activities usually regarded as “fun only” are now work-play ambiguous. No surprise here!

Folks are using their smartphones to connect with their business colleagues while at home or hanging out with their families in the evening. Folks are chatting with Facebook colleagues on weekends and holidays. And, of course, all their other electronic leashes are keeping them connected so they can take care of business while “on vacation.”

What’s happening!

Some, including Conley, say the work-leisure phenomena is happening because more folks are finding work to be fun and want to stay connected during leisure periods. Really! Fun! Who’s kidding whom!?

For couples and families that have an honest, true, sincere and intimate connection with one another, I wonder how they view the “fun of weisure” as a reason for disconnecting with one other at home, at play, or on vacation. Perhaps you can ask ten of your closest friends how their spouses, partners or children feel about the separation caused by one of them experiencing all the “fun” while conducting business at home, or on vacation.

Rather than enjoying the “fun” of doing business and choosing to stay connected 24/7, 365, my anecdotal research says folks are (1) inundated with more and more work they cannot handle in a “normal” workday work and/or (2) fearful, guilty or anxious that if they don’t stay connected 24/7, 365, they may find themselves out of a job, and/or (3) they are addicted to their computers and/or (4) they have become emotionally disconnected from their families in favor of social networking and connecting outside their relationship – their “lover” or mistress is now the Internet. My take is that “weisure” is NOT ubiquitous because work now has more “meaning” or provides “fun.” The test – “If you won the lottery today would you continue to work as long and as hard in a 24/7, 365 “weisure” world? Be honest.

The downside of “weisure”

“No man needs a vacation so much as the man who has just had one.” – Elbert Hubbard

The really upsetting fallout of living in a “weisure” world is sacrificing one’s privacy and the abdication of precious relaxation time. With the increasing blurring of work and leisure, research shows fewer and fewer folks are actually taking vacations. Many feel not only that they have to stay connected on holidays and weekends but that they actually fear they might lose their jobs if they went on vacation. And for those who actually do take a vacation, how many need to “unwind” after they come back from a “weisure-driven” vacation – as stressed when they return as they were before they left? The number of these folks increases yearly.

Stressed out, overworked and overwhelmed, many folks need time off but are worried and fearful that a short vacation could lead to a permanent one. They feel dammed if they do; damned if they don-t. Not a very psychologically healthy place to be.

The psycho-emotional-mental-physical effects of a “weisure” lifestyle are quite disturbing. More and more folks are experiencing stress-related dis-eases and illness, family dysfunction and disruption, and really rough times holding it together at work. The workplace is being populated by ever-growing numbers of disengaged, unproductive, underperforming and exhausted employees -not to mention those experiencing serious states of depression, addiction, self-neglect and serious overt or silent anger.

At home, these folks now have no idea how to “take it easy” or relax without working.

The parking areas of many of the office parks I run through, and drive around, are often one quarter or more full on weekends, evenings and holidays. “Weisure?”

Why vacations and honest leisure time are important

Using a camera appeases the anxiety which the work-driven feel about not working when they are on vacation and supposed to be having fun. They have something to do that is like a friendly imitation of work: they can take pictures.“- Susan Sontag

Simple, taking time for one’s self is a non-negotiable “must” to maintain a healthy mind, body and soul. It’s impossible to run a car engine on all cylinders 24/7, 365. The human body, mind and psyche are no different – dependency on energy drinks notwithstanding.

Leisure time and vacations, spent consciously, serve as preventative medicine. They allow time for de-stressing, decompressing, rejuvenating, replenishing and re-connecting with one’s self. It is when we consciously allow a real genuine opportunity of space for relaxation and novelty that we can discover the unconscious level of tension and stress we’ve been carrying day-to-day. In fact, the first few days of vacation usually begin the process of unwinding, which is followed by the recognition of a need for rest, relaxation and a deeper settling of our body, mind and spirit. And, if you’re fortunate, your vacation is long enough to allow you to enter into the phase of real rejuvenation.

Now the greater question is “What type of vacation do you take?” For some people vacation is wall-to-wall sight seeing, visiting family, exercise boot camp, or staying “connected” i.e., doing, doing, doing which is inevitably followed by that odd aftermath of “I need a vacation from my vacation.”

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • When was your last “real” vacation?
  • What does “vacation” mean for you?
  • What are the elements of a favorite vacation for you?
  • Do you take the type of vacation that really nurtures and nourishes you? Be honest.
  • How do you prepare for your vacation?
  • How do you transition from vacation to home to work?
  • How is the first week back after your return?
  • How are you at the end of the second week back after your return?
  • What did you discover about yourself on recent vacations? Did you have time for any discovery?
  • Is there something you learned about yourself on vacation that influences a change you want to implement into your everyday life?
  • How do you experience your self on vacation? Do you enjoy your “self” away from the everyday routine?
  • Was your work life and home life supported in your absence? Were the bases covered?
  • Were you able to really disengage or were your Blackberry and laptop traveling companions?
  • What was vacation like before you had a SmartPhone, IPhone, laptop or other digital gadget?
  • How much vacation time do you have and take each year? How much do you need?
  • Has your relationship suffered because of your “weisure” activities. Be honest. What would you spouse, partner or children say?
  • What were vacations like when you were growing up?
  • Can you visualize a world where you can take a vacation and truly leave work behind? Would you want to?

“And so we take a holiday, a vacation, to gain release from this bondage for a space, to stand back from the rush of things and breathe again. But a holiday is a respite, not a cure. The more we need holidays, the more certain it is that the disease has conquered us and not we it. More and more holidays just to get away from it all is a sure sign of a decaying civilization; it was one of the most obvious marks of the breakdown of the Roman empire. It is a symptom that we haven’t learned how to live so as to re-create ourselves in our work instead of being sapped by it.” – Evelyn Underhill

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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

Behaving Badly – Is it OK?

behavior

Speaker pageFacebook Page, Becoming a Better You book page

“The ideals which have always shown before me and filled me with the joy of living are goodness beauty and truth. To make a goal of comfort or happiness had never appealed to me; a system of ethics built on this basis would be sufficient only for a herd of cattle.” – Albert Einstein

Behaving badly, without guilt
Some people routinely behave in ways that are out of integrity, unethical, immoral and untrustworthy and yet never experience guilt. How does this happen?

A growing body of evidence indicates such folks “disengage” from their core values, from their moral compass and even consciously “forget” information that would otherwise limit their inappropriate behavior. They rationalize their dishonest behavior in a way that lets them off the “honesty” hook.

These dishonest folks – white-collar and blue-collar – live and work in virtually every system and organization – finance, politics, healthcare, education – even live in our homes. Our society has become inundated by the “dishonest” and “untrustworthy.”

Psychologists tell us that “moral disengagement” and “moral self-regulation” lead to dishonesty. By either commission or omission, these folks, when behaving dishonestly (1) link their act to their moral goals and values or (2) uncouple their dishonesty from their moral goals and values. We seem to be experiencing more and more of the latter.

Symptoms of behaving badly
When  behaving dishonestly and unethically, one experiences both mental and physical reactions. Mentally, one experiences “cognitive dissonance” – a knowing that there is a “disconnect” between one’s act and one’s value system, and a “felt sense somatically – i.e., in the body- that is experienced as some flavor of physical discomfort.

So, how do folks respond to their dissonance and discomfort? How do they come to grips with their distress?

There are those who “do the right thing” and move into alignment with their core values and moral code. And there are those who go through a “rationalization and judgmental” process, i.e., “moral disengagement,” in order to clear their conscience, to view their action as “morally permissible.”

Too,  there are those who disengage morally in order to benefit from another’s dishonest or unethical behavior (e.g., buying clothes from a company that ignores human rights and uses child labor).

What about me?
Do I use “moral disengagement” as a strategy to excuse my or another’s unethical actions as “permissible?” To what extent do I use moral disengagement to actually perpetuate unethical and dishonest behavior – mine and/or others’?

The number of “hypocrites” who have surfaced or been “outed” in recent days, weeks, months and years, for example, in the arenas of politics, sports, finance, religion, health care, business and the like are prime examples of the duplicity that moral disengagement perpetuates.

The hypocrisy is couched in the belief that “I engage in more ethical behavior than others.” Or, “I am less unfair than others.” Or “I have a right to be more suspicious of others’ actions than they do of mine.” Or, “others are more greedy and driven by money than I am.” Or, “I am more honest and trustworthy than others.”

Guilt, shame and self-regulation
The ego-need underlying moral disengagement is absolution of guilt, blame or shame for one’s dishonesty, for the disconnect between one’s values and actions. When one acts dishonestly, their tendency to morally disengage is higher than when they consider another’s unethical behavior – i.e., “I’m ethical and you’re not.”

Most of us can self-censure – consciously view our actions, and self-regulate, i.e., act morally or not. Everyone has the choice to engage in good behavior or bad behavior and judge their own actions, accordingly.

The ethical and moral bottom line is whether one chooses to activate their self-regulatory process – to consciously consider their values, standards, moral code and conduct in the moment. There are those who choose to not engage their self-regulatory process and morally disengage. That choice to morally disengage depends on the strength of one’s core values and motivations.

Life at work, at home, at play and in relationship
“It is not always the same thing to be a good man and a good citizen.” Behaving Badly – Is it OK? – Aristotle

A major factor affecting the degree to which one morally disengages, and rationalizes dishonesty, is their environment and culture –  work, home, play and relationship.

Where you live, work, play and relate, what is the culture around dishonesty, cheating, lying, or behaving unethically? What are the tacit, subtle, silent or unwritten rules that reflect immorality, illegality, dishonesty and unethical behavior? Is moral disengagement a “business-as-usual” strategy, or an “everybody does it” rationalization? Is there a growing sense of pervasive dishonesty?

Do you have an obsessive need to fit in” or “stand out,” to be regarded as “somebody” that forces you to succumb to an unethically permissive environment?  What opportunities, pressures or “silent consent” might drive you to lie, cheat and steal?

The antidote for moral disengagement
Life is choices. Pure and simple. Folks choose to be ethical or unethical, trustworthy or untrustworthy. Here are some suggestions that can support you and others to live from a place of honesty, and ethical and trustworthy behavior:

Conduct formal, on-going conversations about ethics and moral behavior. These discussions can help to put a stop to some folks’ moral disengagement.

Ask individuals to read, discuss and sign a “moral code of behavior” or honor code. These actions can help raise people’s awareness which can stem the tide of unethical behavior.

Foster open and public agreement to live (i.e., “operationalize these behaviors at “9:00 Monday morning in measurable and observable ways) the espoused values of the organization, family, or team and have open conversations with others when they behave badly

Review processes and procedures that invite dishonesty and institute  ways to prevent inappropriate behavior from occurring.

Publicize behaviors and practices that have detrimental effects on individuals.

Increase the transparency of discussions around organizational policies and practices. Greater discourse can lead to less moral disengagement.

Agree to hold others accountable for their actions when they behave badly, which leads to….

Initiating consequences. There must be consequences for bad behavior. Period!

Self-responsibility – it’s all about “me.”
In the final analysis, you are responsible for your actions. “The devil made me do it” and “Everybody does it” excuses don’t apply – ever.

You alone are responsible for the alignment and congruence – or lack of each – between action, goal and motivation, for  moral engagement. Whether you choose to adhere to your internal moral rules or not, is your choice.

The sad corollary of moral disengagement is that, like a progressive drug, the need to morally disengage can spiral down into a vortex leading to a life of obsessive lying, cheating, stealing and dishonesty.

“The needs of society determine its ethics.” Maya Aneglou

Living for the moment, driven by greed, caught up in competition and living in an environment that says, “It’s OK to be a criminal,” moral disengagement has become a “behavior-du-jour.”  When we uncouple our behavior from our internal moral compass, with an “ends justifies the means” or “everybody does it” mindset, we are putting our individual futures at risk. The Universal Law of Attraction – The Universal Law of the Circle – or the spiritual principle of Karma says what we give out we get back.

Is “moral disengagement” the underlying life principle of the legacy you want to leave?

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • Is getting ahead more important than how you get there?
  • Is cheating OK if no one gets hurt? How so?
  • Do you rationalize unethical behavior because others are doing it?
  • Do the ends justify the means?
  • Are you aware of the ethical standards in your workplace? At home? Do you ever engage in discussions about ethics and standards?
  • Do you use euphemistic language to condone moral disengagement? How so?
  • Do you ever morally disengage in your personal life to justify unethical or dishonest behavior?
  • Do you ever encourage others ignore their own moral restraints?
  • Do you purchase products from companies you know to be in violation of human rights or other ethical standards?
  • On a scale of 1-10, how trustworthy would you say you are? What would others say? How do you know?
  • How did you experience qualities such as integrity, honesty, and trust as you were growing up?
  • Can you envision a life where moral disengagement is never an option?

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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

I quote; therefore, I am.

quotes

Speaker pageFacebook Page, Becoming a Better You book page

“Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.” – Oscar Wilde, De Profundis, 1905

Don’t do as I quote; do as I do
As one who works in the self-help arena, I’ve been noticing an ever-increasing phenomenon these days and that is, throwing around quotation after quotation in the sense that the quote will, what? Support one’s own movement towards change or transformation or spur another towards change and transformation or that it might be taken as a  sign of one’s wisdom, intelligence and the like?

Perhaps, it’s the social media focus on the sound-bite, the emphasis on 140-character communication.

In either case, my curiosity centers around “not what I quote” but “do I live what I quote?”.

I think quotes have a place, depending on how we use them. Do motivational quotes on corridor and office walls honestly and truly motivate? Do success quotes in sports arenas, locker rooms, and in schools really produce successful athletes and students? Do pithy management and leadership quotes truly result in inspired leaders and managers? Do love and relationship quotes lead to healthier and more conscious relationships? (And, by the way, the same might be said of affirmations, or books, or visualizations, but that’s another reading.)

“I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Do quotes “work?”
In my experience, yes; but in few cases. How so?

Some folks have actually changed their lives, transformed, partially as a result of integrating, embodying and “living” quotes. A vast majority, however, cannot seem to integrate the sentiment, message or inspiration of a quote into their actual, daily do-ing and be-ing — at work, at home, at play and in relationship – in a sustainable, long-term, self-disciplined way to effect  true and real change, to self-responsibly forward the action of their life and become a new, different  person.

If you Google “self-improvement quotations,” you’ll come up with some 199,000 hits; “management quotations,” 6,650,00017, “leadership quotations,” 4,250,000, relationship quotations, 8,610,000, and “success quotations,” 7,980,000. (This does not include other descriptors such as “inspirational quotes…,” “sayings,”  and the like.)

I quote success; I am success – there is a difference
Let’s look at success quotations as an example. What do these success quotes have in common?

“A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do.” – Bob Dylan

“Try not to become a man of success, but rather to become a man of value. He is considered successful in our day who gets more out of life than he puts in. But a man of value will give more than he receives.” – Albert Einstein

“Just as the tumultuous chaos of a thunderstorm brings a nurturing rain that allows life to flourish, so too in human affairs times of advancement are preceded by times of disorder. Success comes to those who can weather the storm.” –  I Ching No. 3

“The successful man is the average man, focused.” Anonymous

“Getting what you go after is success; but liking it while you are getting it is happiness.” Anonymous

So, what do they have in common?
What these quotes have in common is that they’re all someone else’s quotes, someone else’s notion of success. And this is important. Why?

Because I’m curious how many people’s lives – tens, hundreds, thousand, millions – have actually been demonstrably changed for the better, over the long-term, as a result of reading one or more of someone else’s quotes? I suspect few, very few. Why?

What I often experience are folks who share, quote or think about someone else’s neat, cool, pithy quotation as a “nice idea,” but have never consciously taken the time to internalize, integrate, chew on, digest, metabolize and deeply reflect upon it so it becomes part of their own cellular, molecular make-up, their being. Instead, beyond the time it takes to utter or write a 140-character idea-string, or utter a quote, they often return to a life that’s characterized by misalignment, dis-harmony, imbalance, confusion, self-doubt and overwhelm. They want “success” or happiness, or a better way of being a leader, manager, partner or spouse from someone’s else’s dream, aspiration or quote; but, it’s not working. They haven’t personalized it.

Don’t quote the quote; be the quote
For me, the most important tool for success in life is reflection, deep reflection which many cannot or will not undertake, then goal delineation, planning and conscious self-management and self-discipline to be(come) the quotation. Many, living lives of indecision, dis-harmony and self-deceit, find they can only quote the quote, not be the quote.

Sometimes, folks do incorporate the quotation as a “living” quotation. For example, they define “success,” or “relationship,” or “motivation” as “results.” But, achieving results without learning something about one’s self often leads to an incomplete and often “un-success-ful” “lived quotation” in the short or long term. Do-ing alone (i.e., results), without be-ing, is not a solid formula for success, or happiness, or successful leading, managing or relating. The “successful” Bernie Ebbers of Enron, or Bernie Madoff, or Arnold Schwarzenegger who ended up in ignominy and infamy are testaments to this.

These folks who accomplish results (“success?”) but without personal growth, often wonder why they don’t feel better, alive, fulfilled. They often admit they don’t experience good health, energy, enthusiasm for life, fulfilling relationships, creative freedom, emotional and psychological stability, a sense of well-being, and peace of mind. They are “successful,” after all. So, what “off?”

So, what does quoting get you?
Many of us love quotes – about life, love, relationships, leading, managing and the like. But these quotes are simply ideas, each as grand as the tiny molecule in the brain tat holds it. Unless “operationalized,” and practiced, as a practice, the idea can be gone in an instant. Then what? Another quote, another quick burst of a feel-good moment?

For many, the idea, the sentiment, the quote is quickly obliterated just as if they had written in the sand on the beach – ephemeral – wiped out in a moment.

For others, the idea, like a “success” quotation is engraved in an indelible way in their brain, in their cellular make-up, in their psyche and their being. They are a living embodiment of the quote. Big difference.

So, I guess there are quotes and there are quotes. It’s what we do with them, and why, that matters.

Some questions for self-reflection: 

  • Do you often quote others? Why? What does quoting others get you?
  • Do you incorporate others’ quotes into the fabric of your daily life – i.e., the way you live life at work, at home, at play and in relationship?
  • Can you recall the last ten quotes you shared? Last five? Last one?
  • Has your life changed, truly changed, as the result of any quotes you took to heart? Were you truly inspired and motivated to be or act differently, consistently? How so?
  • Do you ever feel empty, unhappy, or unfulfilled even though you know a lot of “happy” quotations? Do you live in a prison of self-defeating or self-limiting thoughts even though you “know’ a lot of motivational and inspirational quotations? Why is that?
  • Do you ever use quotations to persuade others you’re intelligent or wise?
  • What might happen if you never used quotes? How might that make you feel? If you seldom or never used quotations, would you feel lacking or deficient? Why?
  • Is your self-worth partially defined by how often, how much, you use quotations?
  • Did you grow up around quotations? Who did you parents or primary caregivers quote?
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.” Does that resonate with you? How so?

—————————————————–
(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