Put-Down Humor…is not Humorous

webster

Speaker pageFacebook Page, Becoming a Better You book page

Just launched – three exciting new products

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sarcasm is wrong. Pure and simple.

No mater how witty you think you are!

Some questions for self-reflection:

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can also follow me on Twitter: @petergvajda.

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

Valentine’s Day – Not Just Candy and Flowers

candy

Speaker pageFacebook Page, Becoming a Better You book page

Just launched – three exciting new products

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

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

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

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

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

So, some questions for self-reflection:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can also follow me on Twitter: @petergvajda.

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

“Here we are, both of us lonely”*

social network

Speaker pageFacebook Page, Becoming a Better You book page

Just launched – three exciting new products

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some questions for self-reflection:

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can also follow me on Twitter: @petergvajda.

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

Empathy comes from the heart, not the mind

empathy

Speaker pageFacebook Page, Becoming a Better You book page

Just launched – three exciting new products

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some questions for self-reflection:

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can also follow me on Twitter: @petergvajda.

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

Talk, Talk, Talk

 

Businesswoman Addressing Meeting Around Boardroom Table

Speaker pageFacebook Page, Becoming a Better You book page

Just launched – three exciting new products

One of the most frustrating and irritating experiences at work is not just the sheer number of unnecessary meetings – although they do test one’s patience – but the endless talk and sharing of thoughts that seems to last forever, yet lead nowhere.

Human nature being what it is, many folks have an inherent and insistent (often unconscious) need to talk, teach, tell, train or otherwise get their $.04 cents in during meetings just because they need to be seen and heard.

It doesn’t matter that they’re often expressing thoughts that have no direct bearing on the meeting’s outcome. It doesn’t matter that what they’re saying isn’t new, innovative, creative or pertinent. Essentially, they enjoy talk for the sake of talk.

As I began to write this, I came across a quote from the Master Krishnamurti: “Thoughts are like furniture in a room with the door closed.”

So, I thought I’d take a chance and stretch this metaphor and write about “meeting give-and-take” from the perspective of moving furniture around in a room in order, hopefully, to support folks to stand back, and take notice of what they do, and how they are, at meetings in order to add value to their “meeting” experiences.

So, taking the quotation and the metaphor of thoughts as furniture a bit further – here goes:

What often happens at meetings is folks are just moving lots of furniture (read: thoughts) – first here, then there, then here, then over there. Then folks decide to change the fabric on the furniture and proceed to move it here, there and over there. It remains the same furniture (thoughts), with different fabrics (think different, but not new, “takes”).

Some add new colors, then, new textures and move the furniture again, here, there, here, there. However, it’s the same furniture, perhaps, with variations on a theme, but nothing really “new” and still with the door closed. No oxygen. No breath of fresh air. Nothing new, creative, inspiring, productive, engaging, innovative or fresh.

So, perhaps you might find some time to visualize yourself in a room with other folks and your collective task is to move furniture. Rather than simply move stuff around, or change its appearance but not its substance, I propose you tug on your own sleeve and inquire into the following self-reflective questions.

The goal is to explore not only the value and worth of others’ and your contributions, but to explore what you learn about yourself in the moving process, that is, to see “what I am learning about me” in the process of moving furniture, in a conscious effort to learn more about “who I am” and “how I am” while moving, or just watching others move, the furniture.

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • What kinds of feelings/emotions am I experiencing as I move the furniture, observe others moving the furniture, or express myself??
  • How am I managing my feelings/emotions?
  • What insights am I gaining about myself as I move or observe other movers?
  • Do my biases, prejudices, assumptions, inferences, preconceptions, etc. limit me in any way?
  • How am I reacting to the furniture, the textures, the colors, the fabrics?
  • Is my moving affecting others? How so?
  • Do I exhibit a specific way of sharing or thinking that helps/hinders a healthy moving environment?
  • How are others’ moves affecting me?
  • How do I feel about giving feedback to others’ moves, choice of textures, colors, fabrics?
  • Am I seeking feedback for my choice of moves, colors, textures, fabrics? Why? Why not?
  • Do I find myself reflecting about me as a result of others’ moves or choice of colors, textures or fabrics?
  • Am I conscious of my reactions to others?
  • Do I consider myself the moving expert, and the expert of colors, fabrics or textures? How do I express my expertise?
  • Am I open to considering other, new possible moves, colors, textures and fabrics?
  • If others’ choices are not like mine, are they “bad”/”wrong”? Why?
  • Am I attached to my own agenda for how the furniture should be moved?
  • Do I lift the spirit of the other movers?
  • Am I being open-minded about moves, colors, textures and fabrics?
  • Am I judging others’ choices?
  • How is the energy of the room? Where are the blockages?
  • What kind of energy am I generating?
  • How would I describe my relationship with the other movers and their relationships with me?
  • How do I handle difficult moves or challenging choices of colors, textures and fabrics?
  • Does this experience push me past my personal boundaries and safety/comfort zones?
  • Am I safe opening myself to new ways of moving, or to new colors, new textures and new fabrics?
  • Do I prefer the old familiar way of moving, the familiar colors, familiar textures and familiar fabrics?
  • Do I know more about myself upon leaving this room than when I entered? Did I, in fact, learn anything?
  • What would happen if we all moved the furniture to another room and returned to this room, with its doors and windows open?

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

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

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

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

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

You can also follow me on Twitter: @petergvajda.

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

BMW – Driven to Distraction

allvent

Speaker pageFacebook Page, Becoming a Better You book page

Just launched – three exciting new products

“My days of whining and complaining about others have come to an end. Nothing is easier than fault finding.”Og Mandino

BMW – no, not the car.
BMW – bitching, moaning and whining.

How often are you driven to distraction, taken off your game or lose your focus – at work, at home, at play or in relationship – due to someone’s continual venting, whining, complaining, nit-picking and fault finding? How often do you choose to allow, to enable, someone to suck your time and energy resulting in your missing a deadline, decreasing your productivity, messing up on an assignment or interfering with your pleasure – because consciously or unconsciously you’re driven by some internal mantra that says, “I’m your friend and I need to be there for you?”

Do you enable BMW-ers because you feel that’s what a good leader, manager, co-worker, friend, partner or spouse is supposed to do? Do you enable these folks, again and again, even though it stresses you out or leads to passive-aggressive behavior on your part?

So, here’s the deal. MBW-ers always feel better after they’ve had the opportunity to off-load their stuff on to you. MBW-ers always feel better when they commandeer you to carry their load. Why wouldn’t they?

The important question here is, “How does your taking on their stuff, again and again, help you!?” “How does their sleeping better, feeling better support your experiencing well-be-ing?” In a word, it doesn’t. You don’t sleep better, feel better, become more productive, or experience a heightened sense of well-be-ing by taking on their stuff.

What actually happens, over time, is you begin to experience overwhelm, fogginess, confusion, upset, resentment and exhaustion – mentally, physically, emotionally and psychologically.

In reality, if you ask, “How is his/her life changing for the better as a result of my enabling their BMW-ing,” the answer (if we’re being honest, sincere and self-responsible) is, in all likelihood, “not at all.”

Venting is an addiction.

Most BMW-ers are very good at it. Most BMW-ers are addicted to their venting. It’s their drug of choice. Like most addicts, the capacity they lack is self-responsibility. BMW-ing is the venter’s way of avoiding taking responsibility for their life, for their feelings – at work, at home, at play and in relationship.

The venter’s strategy is denial – choosing to not invest time, effort or energy exploring their state in life. BMW-ers have no interest in exploring or admitting their contribution in creating upset or conflict. They have no interest in exploring the root causes of their pain and suffering. Venters hardly ever come to you and ask for support in gaining clarity about steps they can take to clean up their messes, become more mature in how they relate to life and living, learn what’s underneath their anger and anxiety. That’s what addicts are good at – denial – when it comes to self-awareness, self-management, self-responsibility and self-actualization. BMW-ers are risk-averse when it comes to change and forwarding the action of their lives. Dumping – that’s their juice.

Most folks – unless they’re enablers and thrive on dysfunctional relationships – will admit, deep down, their supporting BMWs’ venting does not work for them or for the venters. Most normal, healthy human beings have a felt sense that supporting BMW-ers is self-sabotaging, yet, are unsure as to what to do. They’re conflicted by wanting to be a good friend and not knowing how to deal with a venter.

Responding to a BMW-er

So, here’s a suggestion: how about, “Well, (name of friend and/or colleague), I know my listening to you again and again makes you feel better for a while. But, honestly, I end up feeling worse. I like (love/admire/respect/honor) you and I want to be supportive; but, from my perspective, it seems that your venting is not getting you anywhere; rather, your venting is an addiction, like sugar or alcohol that gives you a momentary sense of feeling better, but in reality you are not taking responsibility for (the issue.) If you want support in working to find solutions, I’m happy to help, but I don’t want to be on the other end of your venting any more.” This is your opportunity to be honest, sincere and self-responsible. Takes courage and strength.

The Buddhist monk, Pema Chodrun, likens enabling to “idiot compassion” – supporting others to your own detriment. An honest and self-responsible response to a BMW-er takes inner strength, courage, empathy, self-love and compassion for the other person. The question is, “Can you choose to respond in an honest, sincere and self-responsible way to a venter?” Even if the BMW-er chooses to become angry or resentful?

It’s all about the truth.

The truth is, most folks balk when someone calls them on their stuff, on their addictions, and refuses to enable them any longer. So, are you willing to face their upset, to allow them to be mad at you?

The truth is, listening to MBW-ers spew their stuff and vent is not loving yourself, and, frankly, is not loving to them. What is loving and compassionate is for you to stop enabling their addiction, even if that’s tough for them to hear, and tough for you to do.

The truth is, you may actually lose a friend or colleague if you call them on their stuff. How does that resonate with you?

The truth is, friendship – honest, conscious and healthy relationships – is a two-way street. Many BMW-ers drive on one-way streets using you for their selfish gain with no regard for you as a friend, colleague or partner. They drive through life at work, at home, at play and in relationship – with a blurred vision.

The truth is, if your friend, the venter, pulls their friendship because “you never want to listen to me,” there never was a friendship – a dysfunctional relationship with a “victim,” perhaps, but not a friendship.

So, what do you think? Do you choose to hang on to, and enable, an MBW-er in a co-dependent, toxic and unhealthy relationship, or engage with real and true friends, colleagues and partners with whom you can learn and grow, extending mutual support and respect to one another?

“Take your life in your own hands and see what happens? A terrible thing: no one to blame.” Erica Jong

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • Are you the “go-to” person others seek out to dump and vent? If so, why do you think this is so?
  • Do you “get something” from others seeking you out to vent? Are you addicted to others’ venting? How so?
  • Do you encourage and support others to explore solutions for their issues, rather than simply allowing them to vent?
  • Do you feel stressed by others’ venting? If so, is this OK? Do you put up with it? Why?
  • Are you a venter? What would friends, colleagues or your partner say?
  • Are you uncomfortable confronting others about their venting? Can you tell them you won’t passively listen to their venting?
  • If you are a BMW-er, what does venting get you? How has venting honestly changed your life for the better?
  • Do you prefer to vent rather than explore real solutions to your life’s challenges?
  • Were you around venters growing up? What was that like
  • If you tend to be a venter, where did you learn how? Who taught you? Who enabled you?

 

—————————————————–
(c) 2019, 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

Experiencing Well-Be-ing in 2020 – Facing the Truth about Change and Well-Being

2020-calendar

Speaker pageFacebook Page, Becoming a Better You book page

Just launched – three exciting new products

“The truth that makes men free is for the most part the truth which men prefer not to hear.”
Herbert Agar

Think of change this way. Grasp a rubber band between the thumb and forefinger of your right hand and between the thumb and forefinger of your left hand. Think of this rubber band as change. Stretch the rubber band. Think of the right hand as representing new ways of do-ing, be-ing and having, i.e., stretching to move forward in your life. Think of your left hand as representing being brought back to old or current ways of do-ing, be-ing and having, i.e., pulled back to remain exactly where you are.

Each time you stretch (i.e., move beyond your comfort zone) to act in some new way (your right hand), your left hand (your mind, your body and your brain) are pulling you back into old patterns. We often allow ourselves to return to old patterns and continue old habits – even if they are self-defeating, self-limiting, and self-sabotaging – because we feel safe and secure. It’s a question of “the devil we know versus the devil we don’t.” The sole reason 98% of the folks who resolve to change in the New Year fail by Valentine’s Day, is their falling back into old ways, habits and patterns, of do-ing, be-ing and having. The pull to passivity, to the same old patterns of do-ing and be-ing is just too powerful. Their challenge of something new, i.e., change, or the unknown, is trumped by their need for familiarity, safety, security – i.e., their need to NOT change.

The truth about change
“The truth, like surgery, may hurt, but it cures.”
Han Suyin

Creating true and real changes in one’s life is challenging. If you decide your life is more interesting, more satisfying, happier and more worthwhile living by not changing, that is your choice. But, you can’t have it both ways – “I hate my life but I don’t want to change.” Or, “I want to change, but I don’t want to be different.” Remember the definition of insanity – doing the same thing in the same way, over and over again, and expecting different results each time. Insanity is a choice. Sometimes conscious. Sometimes unconscious. Wanting to change, and doing nothing about it, day after day, year after year is one form of “insanity.” And, you’re not bad or wrong for not wanting to change. You are where you are. The question is, “What is it about change that frightens you, causes you concern or feels threatening?” What’s the truth? Self-awareness.

If you are adverse to change, maybe take some time (perhaps five minutes, ten minutes or thirty minutes) on a consistent basis for a while to explore your resistance to change. Being honest and serious about your life is challenging. If you can’t take some minutes for yourself on a consistent basis to explore how you feel about where you are, be curious about that. Are you resisting, and why? What does resisting get you?

So, here are some truths around change and well-being I and my coaching clients have explored over the years, truths which have supported us to change and transform our lives in ways that have resulted in a greater sense of well-be-ing – mental, physical, emotional, spiritual, and/or psychological, not to mention personal and professional. Facing these truths in an honest, sincere, and self-responsible way, with love and compassion for yourself, can jump-start your journey towards meaningful change, transformation and a heightened sense of well-being.

Connecting to your life force supports well-being
Your life force is an energy. Life force is not a simple, mental construct. Life force is real. Your life force is what provides you with the qualities of, for example, self-love, compassion, forgiveness, strength, courage, will, discipline, steadfastness, stick-to-it-iveness, truth, deep listening, right understanding, right knowing and right action (notwithstanding those who say change is all about willpower. The truth? Willpower is rarely sustainable).

To connect to your life force, it’s important to engage in some type of consistent spiritual practice – meditation (sitting or walking), energy work such as yoga, tai chi or martial arts, self-reflection or contemplation, quietude and silence, or journaling. A spiritual practice is not about religion or theology. I know atheists who have a spiritual practice; I know avowed religious folks who don’t. The truth is, touching in on a regular basis to our deeper self, results in experiencing a deeper sense of well-be-ing that supports us in time of challenge and change, and gives us a sense of grounding, peace and well-being with which we approach life and make healthy life choices, decisions and changes.

Living in a real community supports well-being
If you find yourself spending more and more time engaged in online social networks, if you live much of your life communing with “friends” on Facebook, Instagram, and in virtual communities, there’s a better than average chance you’re real-world social skills may be eroding. You may find yourself turning down more and more invitations to “real” social events or feeling more uncomfortable when you do engage. You may find your social skills when engaging with “real” people are diminishing. You may find yourself “holding up” in your home more and more, venturing outside less and less.

The truth is, a healthy sense of well-be-ing comes from interacting and engaging in community; real, not fake, community. Our personal growth and positive mental, emotional and psychological health and well-be-ing feeds on the nourishment we get from conscious interaction with others, from community. There’s a host of information describing how belonging to a community, a real community, supports us to, for example deal with loneliness, improve our motivation, health, and happiness, feel supported and connected to and with others, and deal with the stress, challenges, struggles and chaos of daily life, not to mention the sense of camaraderie, connection and caring that can result from being in a community. Experiencing community, real community, is one way to develop and sustain a heightened sense of well-being.

Eating to live; exercising for health, support well-being
Do you eat to live or live to eat? What’s your diet like? Most everyone knows what a healthy diet looks like. The health of our mind-body-spirit unit cannot maintain without a healthy diet. I’ve come across countless folks over the years who exercise to extreme so they can “pig out,” gorge themselves, and eat unhealthily. So, in the morning, for example, they run, go to the gym, or exercise at home so they can dive into unhealthy food and drink at night. Then, it’s guilt and shame. A self-defeating vicious cycle. So, the next day, extreme exercise and unhealthy eating or drinking – a mental, physical, emotional and psychological roller-coaster lifestyle that results in anything but a healthy sense of well-being. Not to mention the emotional inner turmoil that erupts when one skips a day of exercising, but not a day of unhealthy eating or drinking. I’ve seen countless folks come out of the gym still being angry, unhappy and sad even after a “great workout.” They may be in good shape, but many are not in good psycho/emotional/spiritual health.

The truth is that being in good shape, but poor emotional and psychological health, is bound to lead to a life of self-hate, self-loathing, and utter unhappiness and frustration. Asking one’s self, honestly, sincerely and self-responsibly, “Why am I really been dieting and exercising?” can help one move into a diet and exercise lifestyle that promotes healthy well-being – physically, emotionally, spiritually and psychologically. Is your regimen of exercising and dieting about truly and really healthy or something else? The “something else” usually leads to consistent emotional upset, frustration and failure.

Conscious intention, commitment and focus support well-being
“One must know oneself; if this does not serve to discover truth, it at least serves as a rule of life and there is nothing better.”
Blaise Pascal

The reality is, without our being “conscious” of who and how we want to be, and why, without being intentional and focused in every moment of change, the forces of old habits and patterns will take over, reducing change to a small idea in a tiny brain molecule – magical thinking at best.

Some important questions around change and improved well-being we can ask are:

“Why am I choosing to change?”
“Do I have any hunch or instinct I won’t be able to keep my intention or change?” The truth is many folks want to change to impress or please someone else. If this is the case in your situation, a deeper exploration of what’s underneath your desire to please others is in order.
“Why do I need to please others and have others’ approval?”
“What does pleasing others get me?”
“Who would I be and how would I feel if I didn’t please others?”
“Do I love myself as I am, right here and right now?”

Understanding “my mind is not me, but mine,” supports well-being
On the other hand, if you’re honestly and sincerely committed and intentional about your choice to change, consistently monitoring your thoughts, and being self-aware, can support you in your change efforts. When you want to run faster, longer, and harder (when you know it leads to injury or burnout), when you want to eat the whole bag of M&Ms (when you know you’ll be upset with yourself afterwards), when you want to have another cigarette (when you know it’s unhealthy), when you want to spend the extra $100 (when you can’t afford it and it jeopardizes your credit score), monitor your thinking and explore what mental messages you’re hearing, what your Inner Judge and Critic is saying, what old rationale is arising to trigger your acting in ways that are self-sabotaging, self-limiting and self-defeating.

The truth is, you are in control of your mind, not the other way around. If you stay “awake'” and ask yourself questions like: “Why am I choosing this?” “Is this really supportive of my choice to change?” “Am I choosing to sabotage myself and if so why?,” you’ll come to a deeper understanding of your behaviors that are self-sabotaging and slowly be able to wean yourself away from old patterns and limiting beliefs that keep you from changing. Emotional mastery supports you to be clear about what you’re feeling moment to moment so that you are in control of your life and the master of your own well-being.

Consistency and specifics, not extremes, support well-being
Sustainable change comes with small, incremental steps. The name of the well-be-ing game is consistency – moving forward on a conscious and consistent basis, in baby steps. Wanting to create wholesale and quantum change overnight hardly ever works. Burnout and frustration – mental, physical, emotional, spiritual and psychological – are often what follow the need to change on a dime. How does a mouse eat a round of cheese? One small bite at a time. Some further suggestions here .

One obstacle that interferes with lasting and sustainable change is having a wrong motive for changing. For example, making the mistake of “moving away” rather  than “moving towards.” In other words, focus on what you want, not on what you don’t want. The energy of moving toward a goal is more alive, juicy, positive, enthusiastic, exciting and motivating than the energy of moving away which is often heavy, negative, and unpleasant. Here’s a much more thorough exploration of the moving towards vs. moving away principle, with many practical examples.

Another obstacle to creating sustainable change and experiencing well-being, is acting in extremes, and “all-or-none” extreme approach to change, i.e, exercising every day (rather than, for example, starting with three days a week or a half hour at a time), meditating for an hour, rather than starting slowly, reading the whole book, rather than a chapter, etc. The problem here is that our Inner Judge and Critic gets in the way with all the “shoulds” and perfection-based ego-driven excuses that get in the way and, more often than not, doom us to failure. The secret sauce of  achievement is to start slow, baby steps, be gentle with ourselves, and move forward incrementally and consistently. Remember, how does a mouse eat a round of cheese? One small bite at a time. It works!

Another strategy that can lead to effective, lasting and sustainable change, is to use the word “choose” instead of want, need or should. Shoulds are burdensome and guilt-making; choosing is freeing. The energy of choosing is self-empowering and gives you ownership. The truth is change is about feeling light and emotionally free, not about feeling needy for security, control or others’ approval. Consistency allows the brain to create the new neurological pathways that have to be ingrained for new ways of do-ing and be-ing to become habitual. No consistency, no sustainability.  Extremes only lead to failure. More about should and choose here . The author writes from a Christian perspective, but you’ll get the point, whether you are Christian or otherwise.

Self management, not time management, leads to well-being
“Repetition does not transform a lie into a truth.”
-Franklin D. Roosevelt

If you’re one who says your life is out of your control, that you don’t have enough time in your day to get things done, that you find yourself watching way too much TV or hanging out online to an extreme, the truth is that you’re doing a poor job at self-management. Time management is NEVER – ever -about time. Mismanaged time is a symptom; “me” is the problem. When we work on self-management and self-regulation from a conscious, proactive (not reactive), values-driven place, time then ceases to be an issue. How so?

The truth is, our values or lack of them play a large role when making choices as to what to do, how and when, or being clear as to whether we are spending our investing our time, energy and effort. When our choices are based on values that are murky, misguided or nonexistent, our efforts lead to confusion, mistakes, self-defeating multitasking and chaos that comes from juggling too many balls in the air at the same time. With respect to priorities, many folks ask the wrong question, i.e., “What’s next?” instead of the more-important question, “What’s first?” and why. Lack of self-management skills and clear values produce a lack of clarity and direction so everything is next, everything is urgent and important, and we know this perspective often leads to inner turmoil and outer upset and diminished well-being. Time management is, first and foremost, about self-management. So, what are some ways we can focus on better self-management?

Knowing when to say “no” supports well-being
To achieve peace of mind and well-being  it’s important to learn how to say no – to yourself  and to others who are asking you for something. This is a real discipline. How often do you give up your own aspirations, dreams, goals or tasks because you don’t want to upset someone? Or because you like doing something that is perhaps a distraction. And then you become distracted by all the things you say yes to?

Learn how to have difficult conversations with others so you can say no in a kind, respectful, gentle, compassionate and positive way and still take care of yourself without feeling guilty, ashamed or fearful. Know how to say no to yourself and not feel like you’re denying yourself.

Ask: “If I instinctively want to say no to someone or something, what am I actually saying yes to?” Go deep and connect with your heart. What’s the truth here? Sense into your higher aspiration, your purpose, which will make it much easier for you to learn how to say no.

Having a clear sense of purpose supports well-being
We want to be productive, effective and successful. But, many of us find it hard because we always feel we have too much to do. When you have a clear sense of purpose, when you’re clear about why you’re on the planet, it’s empowering because you’re clear about what you want from life. Many of us are confused about this. Purpose is your guideline, your beacon, as to your choices and decisions – e.g., what party to go to, what to read, watch. You become clear as to how you move forward, how to invest your time and energy. Purpose supports you to  clear out the clutter, simplify your life and create a heightened sense of well-being.

Purpose is empowering because it helps clarify our life choices and decisions, what we want from life, the path forward, how to simplify our life and how to invest our time, effort and energy which has a return on investment, as opposed to “spending” time, energy and effort which has no valuable return.

Support leads to a greater sense of well-being
I know of very few people who have been able to make honest and lasting change by themselves. Very few. Most folks who succeed with change have a support system of one kind or another. A support system helps us overcome the immune system many of us have towards change. The truth is going it alone hardly ever produces real and lasting change. Who is your support? Are they nonjudgmental? Are they affirming? Do you feel safe talking about your life with them? Do they help you gain clarity?

Find a professional coach or other professional support person to help you clarify your goals, the “why” of your life.  Working with this support, be guided by your purpose in your choices and decisions as to how you invest your time, energy and effort.

Living with awareness creates well-being
“In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in a clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves into crustal clearness. Our life is a long and arduous quest after Truth.”
-Mahatma Gandhi

When we are in touch with our deeper Inner Self, we become free(er) and this sense of freedom helps us make those change that bring lightness within, and a heightened sense of well-being. Awareness supports us to become more center-focused and allows us to discern (as opposed to judging) what serves us from what does not, what needs to change and what doesn’t.

The one major element that we can truly control in our life is self-awareness, the awareness that says “I’m the master of my life,” the awareness that brings meaning and purpose to our journey on the planet, the awareness that supports us to move forward along the right path. The truth is, without self-awareness, chaos rules our lives and with chaos comes unhappiness, unfulfilled dreams and unmet goals, finger-pointing, blaming, confusion, overwhelm and stress.

So, what’s the truth about you and your life? What’s the truth about the stories you tell yourself about why change is so hard and frustrating? What’s the truth about your definition of “insanity?”

Finally,
Most people are free-falling through their lives, ping-ponging from one crisis to the next. Living in this type of spiral or chaos leaves no room for conscious living.

The real truth about lasting change and transformation, and a true and real sense of well-being, is that true change, transformation and sense of well-be-ing comes with self-awareness and a healthy integration of body, mind, spirit. Change is a reality that can happen in every moment of our lives, every moment of every life – but only if we are aware of it and see the truth of “who I am” and “how I am” as I live my life.

In essence, experiencing a true sense and real sense of well-being comes when we know the truth about how we live our life, and why.  As Galileo said, “All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.”

So the question we want to ask, moving forward, “If I truly want to experience a heightened sense of well-being in 2020, and I’m not, what’s getting in the way – mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually and psychologically?” What’s the truth?

Some questions for self-reflection:

 

  • Who are you (can you describe this without defining yourself by what you “do”)?
  • How do you feel when you define yourself?
  • What do you want?
  • Why do you think you’re on the planet
  • How do you feel when you define what you want?
  • Where are you in your life at work, at home, at play and in relationship and, why are you there?
  • How do you feel when you describe where you are and why you’re there?
  • Who are your allies in life?
  • What are the “truths” about you and your life?
  • How do you feel when you speak the truth of your life?
  • Do you have a spiritual practice?
  • Are you drowning in distractions of one kind or another? How so?
  • Is time your friend or enemy? Why?
  • At which end of the rubber band do you live most of your life? Why?
  • Is your social community more real or virtual?
  • Are you optimistic or pessimistic about your life in 2019? Why?
  • You feel you’re in control of your emotional life? Why or why not?
  • On a scale of 1-10, where are you when it comes to experiencing a real sense of well-be-ing?
  • Can you visualize a world where you are moving effortlessly and consistently toward personal change and transformation?

 

—————————————————–
(c) 2019, 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**

dual lights

Speaker pageFacebook Page, Becoming a Better You book page

Just launched – three exciting new products

*     – 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, guilt, shame, 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 or shame. 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 and observe the “should.” Then, breathe deeply into your belly a few times and move on. Experiencing guilt indicates you’re allowing your inner judge to grab you and hold you up to some imagined or impossible holiday ideal. Let go. 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, give others the benefit of the doubt 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, therapist, a coach, trusted friend 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?

 

—————————————————–
(c) 2019, 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

Age Quod Agis

whole person

Speaker pageFacebook Page, Becoming a Better You book page

Just launched – three exciting new products

He who is false to present duty breaks a thread in the loom, and will find the flaw when he may have forgotten its cause.”  – Henry Ward Beecher

I recall a Latin phrase we were taught in elementary school – Age quod agis. In essence, the phrase means “do what you do and do it with all of yourself.” When we do what we do with our whole self, it means working from our center, our core i.e, our heart and our soul (not only from the neck up).

When we work from our heart and soul, we’re not talking about some airy-fairy, new-age, “soft,” religious, theological, or subversive approach to work. We are, however, talking about a deeper approach to work – what might be called a spiritual approach.

This deeper approach to work focuses on excellence, ethics and fairness. This deeper approach to work asks questions – sometimes tough, challenging and uncomfortable questions, such as:

How can business promote sustainability and the environment?
What is a fair and just compensation, wage or bonus?
When are outsourcing, downsizing, and layoff efforts justified?
How does business promote the family and/or social responsibility?
How can I find my true calling?
What is  “Enlightened Economics?”
How can we restore trust and integrity in the workplace?
Can our workplaces be more ethical and humane?
Does work have to be dull, boring, routine and meaningless?
Is the separation of spirituality and the boardroom a “given?
Can people do the “right thin” without “management control?”
Why do so many, when they reach the top of the ladder, find it resting against the wrong building?
How do we respond to unethical conduct?
How do we make money and meaning?
How do we resist the “bribe and kickback” way of doing business?
How do we avoid gossip and bullying and demonstrate humility and respect?
What will I do with the rest of my life after retirement?

Warren Buffet said, “I’ve seen a lot of not-very-good human beings succeed in business; I wish it were otherwise.””Now, there are probable many Warren Buffet-type-thinkers among us who would agree. Moreover, with the ups and downs in the economy, many folks are discovering not only are they doing just fine with less, and being happier, but now wonder why they needed more in the first place.

Age quod agis is about integrating spirituality with business. There’s no question people are becoming more introspective about who they are and how they are at work given the incidents of unethical, immoral, and illegal shenanigans we read and hear about daily.

Given an unhealthy, unhappy, fear-based, and worrisome workplace environment many folks find themselves in, the creative energy that flows from the heart and soul might just be one catalyst that can transform today’s workplace into a healthier, more engaging, more ethical place to spend the majority of our waking hours.

What we do with our “whole” self
To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”  – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Research and self-reports show more and more workers are seeking calm and well-be-ing in the midst of the storm by “going inside” and reassessing their values and motivations, and discovering that when they come to work (or life) from a deeper, non-egoic place, they experience a greater sense of meaning, fulfillment, and well be-ing than what they formerly experienced when driven by ego-based needs and wants, driven by greed and speed.

Many are finding that spiritual and humanistic assets are becoming greater desires than wealth and material gain and serve as greater psycho-emotional supports than sustaining an “image” or “persona.”

Coming to work with our whole self means focusing on “who you really are” – your being and your character – within your team, your group, your silo, your organization and in your civic and social community.

Coming to work with our whole self means consciously and proactively dealing with the “tension” between spirituality and spiritual values, and work.

Coming to work with our whole self means choosing to take the time to look up from our spreadsheets to consciously focus on people and values, to speak out for what’s right, and by making an effort to act with compassion.

Personal discontent
In today’s workplace, constant competition, fear, vigilance, gossip, bullying and stress are leading to personal unhappiness, dissatisfaction and dis-ease – not a very productive way to live life at work.

Coming to work with one’s whole self fosters calm and provides a perspective that gives one an edge which is a genuine resource in overcoming angst, agitation, anxiety and aggression. Coming to work with a heart-soul-mind-driven focus provides mental, emotional, physical and psychological balance and harmony – a balance that supports a workplace characterized by “we” instead of “I” vs. “you,” and engenders a strong ethic of personal responsibility for, and self-management of, “who I am” and “how I am” at work.

Discernment
Coming to work with one’s whole self fosters a spiritual practice known as “discernment” – a way of quieting the mind and moving away from the constant din and chatter – internal and external – and allowing the wisdom of the “unknown” (intuitive “right knowing,” “right understanding” and “right action”) to arise from within instead of always forcing our “logical-contrastive -comparative” mind to answer questions and find solutions which are often quick, simple, easy and…wrong.

Dealing with people
The most intangible and complex element in any business equation is the people. Age quod agis means dealing with people by first dealing with yourself; as Socrates suggests, “Know thyself.” Having a firm grasp of one’s core values, inner motivations and purpose for being on the planet, coupled with a emotional maturity are what allow one to show up in integrity, authentically and real.

Age quod agis, when combined with effective leadership and management thinking, creates a high-performing workplace where ethical behavior, trust and trustworthiness, respect and meaning inform one’s day-to-day do-ings and be-ings.

Age quod agis means acting with wisdom, discernment, integrity, empathy and compassion – qualities that emanate from one’s deeper self – qualities that are not co-opted by greed or speed. Age quod agis means doing the right thing, from moment to moment, with your whole self.

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • Do you check your heart, soul and values at the door when you show up at work?
  • Do you deal with the “whole person” in your relationships with others at work (and at home, and play)?
  • Do you ever take time out during your workday to be quiet (walk mindfully, reflect, meditate, breathe…)?
  • Are greed and speed the two major driving forces at your workplace? How so?
  • Do you feel others see you at work as a “whole” person or simply as a “function” (how about at home)?
  • Do you feel workplace decisions are generally ethical and fair? What about your workplace decisions and choices?
  • Does your organization give attention to social and civic concerns, corporate social responsibility?
  • Do people commonly do the “right thing,” even when no one is watching?
  • Does your organization take your family into account in some way, shape or form? If not, how does that make you feel?
  • Does your organization make efforts to reduce the dull and routine and add meaning to work. Do you?
  • Do “not-very-good human beings” succeed in your workplace. How so?
  • Can you envision a workplace where the Age quod agis approach to work is “business as usual?”

 

————————————-—————-
(c) 2019, 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

Intention + Attention — The Foundation of Healthy Relationships

animals

Speaker pageFacebook Page, Becoming a Better You book page

Just launched – three exciting new products

“So when you are listening to somebody, completely, attentively, then you are listening not only to the words, but also to the feeling of what is being conveyed, to the whole of it, not part of it.” – Krishnamurti

Distractions

So, you’re in the midst of an interaction – perhaps on the phone, at the watercolor, on the elevator, golf course,  airplane, in a restaurant or store…and during any lulls (of a second or more) in the interaction you’ve been checking emails, texting, talking intermittently on your cell or been “otherwise engaged” with someone or something else. When the event is over, you realize, with some sense of either regret, surprise or embarrassment, you hadn’t been focusing very well.

The pity is that, truth be told, you may likely have no complete recall of the specifics of much of what you were doing or saying during that time – details about the who, what, where, when or why.

So, what’s happening here?
Many folks would say they’re multitasking – you know, “staying on top of things,” and the like. But if you drilled down, deep down, many of these folks, if they’re being honest, sincere, and conscious, would say they “abhor a vacuum” – silence (even of a second, or more) is deafening and uncomfortable. Further, if pressed, many (most?) would say that in times of silence, they often turn to negative or stressful thoughts. So, they choose to keep their minds occupied – engaged in anything that will fill the void. How about you?

Do you see yourself here?
Do you engage in other activities while eating, watching TV, responding to emails, talking on the phone, etc.? If so, why? Once you come up with your usual knee-jerk, “stock” answers, then ask yourself, “really, really, really, why?”

Contrary to what many folks believe (a belief or story that justifies their multitasking behavior), neuroscience research tells us that the pleasure center in our brains lights up when we’re fully and completely engaged in a single activity – when we’re focused on one task. The research suggests that intention and attention (both, not either/or), when focused like a laser, are what lead us to experience fulfillment, satisfaction and pleasure – whether it be a water cooler conversation, walking the dog, cooking a meal, folding the laundry, preparing the budget or watching “the game.”

If you’ve ever experienced a great teacher, counselor, coach, clergy person, health care professional, therapist and the like (what about your spouse/partner, hmmm?), one reason you called them “great” is most likely because they treated you as the most important person in the world when you were in their presence. Their intention and attention were squarely devoted to – you.

Dare to be great!
So, if in your own world, you want to be “great!” at relationships, invest your intention and attention on the person in your presence – even if you’re in a group – one person at a time – regarding them as if they’re the most important person in your life in this moment.

Oh, and one more thing – that “silence” thing
The next time you experience a “lull” in what you’re doing, don’t jump for the next gadget or distraction to “save you from yourself.” Take a slow, deep, quiet and nurturing breath (or two, or three or four) into your belly and listen to your intuitive voice and inner wisdom. It’s there, below the mental hubbub going on in your mind.

The more you take time to experience stillness and to direct your intention and attention inside, you can move below the inner din and negative thoughts and stories to a place of peace, contentment, equanimity, wisdom and well-being – the core of your Essential and True Self.

You might find the quality of your relationships moving to a higher level – even your relationship with yourself.

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • Are you generally “otherwise engaged” when you’re interacting with others? What story do you tell yourself to justify dividing your attention?
  • Do you ever get upset when someone is “otherwise engaged” when you’re having a  conversation with them? What’s that feel like?
  • Are you easily distracted? Is it hard for you to remain focused for periods at a time? Tell the truth.
  • When you were growing up, did you ever feel you were being an “irritant” or “bother” to your parents or primary caregivers because they didn’t give you their undivided attention when you wanted or needed it? How did that make you feel?
  • Do you know folks who make you feel you’re the most important person in their life when you’re engaging with them? Do you ever make an effort to treat others that way?
  • How well do you do with silence? On a scale of 1-10, how comfortable do you feel with silence?

“Human relationships are the perfect tool for sanding away our rough edges and getting at the core of divinity within us.”  – Eknath Easwaran

P.S. True story: a while back my partner (at that time) just walked in from a lunch date with a friend. In the course of our “So, how was it?” conversation, I asked her if the restaurant were crowded. She replied, “You know what, I was so focused on (friend) I didn’t even notice.” Intention and attention.

—————————————–————
(c) 2019, 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