Why?

curiosity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some questions for self-reflection:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Commitment and Harmony

harmony

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some questions for self-reflection:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Refusing to Let Go

Letting-go

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some questions for self-reflection:

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

vacation

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

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

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

What’s happening!

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

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

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

The downside of “weisure”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why vacations and honest leisure time are important

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

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

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

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

Some questions for self-reflection:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Behaving Badly – Is it OK?

behavior

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Publicize behaviors and practices that have detrimental effects on individuals.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some questions for self-reflection:

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can also follow me on Twitter: @petergvajda.

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

I quote; therefore, I am.

quotes

Speaker pageFacebook Page, Becoming a Better You book page

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some questions for self-reflection: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can also follow me on Twitter: @petergvajda.

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

Skirting The Truth — How Collusion Impacts Your Life and Relationships

elephant

Speaker pageFacebook Page, Becoming a Better You book page

One of the most insidious and (self) destructive behaviors impacting life – at work, at home, at play and in relationship  – is collusion, a tacit and unspoken agreement where two or more folks choose to overlook their honesty and authenticity in order to support some joint fake, phony or duplicitous sense of themselves.

We most often collude with one another in order to feel psycho/emotionally safe and secure. The price of collusion is that the parties engage in deceitful, self-destructive and self-sabotaging behaviors in order to gain some form of acceptance, approval, recognition, and security. Dangerous territory.

Let’s collude
Basically, collusion is saying (silently and/or covertly): “I’m going to look the other way so you can behave the way you want or need to, and I’ll make believe our relationship is honest and genuine (even though I know our collusive behaviors are inappropriate and self-destructive.) AND, I expect you to do the same for me.”

Collusion is fraud – plain and simple – living my own lie while supporting you to live your lie, and vice-versa. That is, no one “shows up” in integrity or with authenticity, and they know it! Repeat. They know it! On a deeper level, collusion obscures the “real-ness” of each person and phonies up the so-called honesty with which they relate to one another. It’s tap dancing around one another’s personal elephants in the room.

Flavors of collusion
There are various flavors of collusion. Generally, collusion can appear as:

  • Giving up one’s honesty and authenticity in order to get something in return.
  • “You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours”-type motives for interacting.
  • Going along to get along: engaging in denial or “turning a blind eye” to others’ questionable activities with the expectation they will do the same for you at some point.
  • One hand washing the other: building up a store of tacit, mutual “IOUs.”

People collude when they pledge loyalty to an unscrupulous or incompetent leader, manager, colleague, friend, neighbor, spouse, partner or relative – when they turn a blind eye to the inappropriate behaviors of others in an effort to feel safe with one another, “making believe” all is well.  Living an illusion all is well.

People collude in order to feel appreciated and “seen” – the foundation of many dysfunctional and co-dependent relationships.  Our denials notwithstanding.

For example
People collude when they share information with a select few and create a clique – in order to feel special, or be accepted as part of the “in” group. They feel acknowledged at being “chosen.”

People collude when they gang up on another through bullying, sarcasm, or gossiping – in order to experience a (false) sense of connection and camaraderie with their co-conspirators.

Folks collude when they withhold honest and forthright comments about inappropriate behavior because they fear alienating another or being ostracized in some way.  Resisting the truth and “making believe” another’s behavior is acceptable, colluders play the game of mutual acceptance while perpetuating a phony relationship based on false respect.

Why?
Everyone – everyone – experiences some sense of deficiency. It’s the human condition. Just about everyone harbors some real or perceived notion they are not “good enough” or are lacking, “bad” or deficient in some way. So, facing our innate sense of deficiency, we have two choices:

  • We can choose to face our sense of insecurity honestly, ignoring our underlying temptation to collude. Taking this approach requires conscious steps to act authentically and honestly, and sidestep any urge to be a fake and a phony. It means resisting the temptation to “go along to get along” with others who aren’t taking a line of integrity, authenticity and sincerity.
  • We can “play games” with others and ignore, deny, or resist the truth, ignoring “the elephants in the room.” Here, we put on blinders, censor our words, refuse to hear what needs to be heard, say what needs to be said, alter our actions to convenience, and tell whatever lies are necessary – always hoping that our state of denial will keep the emotional peace (my own and others’) though at the price of perpetuating an insincere, co-dependent, and dysfunctional relationship.

Collusion hurts
Collusion is lying to protect our own and another’s fragile ego at the expense of speaking the truth and acting with integrity and self-responsibility. Collusion is a progressive drug that leads one to engage in deeper and deeper levels of lying, deceit and fakery.

Colluders need to lie and deceive themselves and others more and more to sustain their false sense of physical, emotional and/or psychological safety. As a result, colluders live in a constant state of vigilance, preoccupied with whether they will be “found out” and have their false facade penetrated. Colluders are consistently preoccupied worrying whether their co-colluder(s) will be “outed” leaving them to face the unpleasantness, even terror, of being “found out” themselves one day.

Colluding is exhausting – demanding an inordinate amount of physical, emotional, and psychic energy. It demands continually shoring up fake and phony relationships that have no real foundation except that of mutual convenience. Like all lying, collision demands constantly remembering which particular lies you are currently telling – with the additional burden of recalling the other person’s lies as well. It is corrosive to head, heart, and soul.

The antidote
Honesty, happiness, and true friendship most often appear as the top responses to the question, “What’s really important to you in relationship?” You can’t collude and expect to find real, meaningful, sincere and authentic connection with another – at work, at home (yes, even at home; sometimes, especially at home), or at play. Acting as if you can, demands collusion.

The simplest approach to ridding oneself of the need to collude is twofold:

  • To seek understanding of the reasons (and excuses) why you refuse to tell yourself and others the truth.
  • To set your intention on complete honesty, even if it would be easier to take the low road of lying and deception.

The truth will set you free: mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually, and psychologically. Telling the truth allows you to show up authentically and with integrity in an honest, sincere, and self-responsible way. Telling the truth is the only real way to experience a life of real happiness and self-fulfillment, and to experience deep and true relationships with others – to dance through life in lightness and freedom, rather than continually tap dancing around all those looming, invisible elephants.

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • If you have a tendency to collude, what are some of ways you do it?
  • Do others collude with you by telling you only what they think you want/need to hear? Why do they do this? Is it for some benefit  or for fear of how you might react?
  • Do you find yourself lying and being phony to maintain specific relationships? Why? How so?
  • What keeps you from telling the truth? What are you afraid of? What are you trying to hide?
  • How do you feel when you’re in a situation where you know you’re colluding (i.e. giving to get, going along to get along, etc.)?
  • What’s “right” about colluding? What does colluding get you? Is there another way to get that result without colluding?
  • Did you experience forms of collusion as you were growing up? How so?


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

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

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

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

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

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

Transparency – Easier Said than Done

face_obscured1

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What is transparency?
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines transparent as: free from pretense or deceit; easily seen through; readily understood; characterized by visibility or accessibility of information, especially concerning business practices.

Google results show 257,000,000 hits for transparency in the market; 87,400,000 for transparency in the workplace; and 227,000,000 for transparency in relationships. Transparency – popular and widely-discussed. So, why is transparency easier said than done?

Transparency is a quality built on truth-telling, openness, honest and sincerity. The essence of truth-telling is being comfortable in one’s own skin. Transparency is the “secret sauce” of trust. Conscious, healthy relationships thrive on trust, integrity and transparency.

Being transparent in the way we speak, act and think allows others to see us as being congruent, harmonious, and in alignment with who we say we are. This congruency and alignment lead to win-win, trusting and psycho-emotionally healthy relationships.

The reverse is also true. Lacking transparency, others relate to us from an arm’s length, view us suspiciously, vigilantly look over their shoulder at us, and feel unsafe around us. When we’re not transparent we’re judged as lacking credibility, reliability, dependability and trustworthiness. Transparency – it seems so simple, but, for many, not easy.

The challenging question is: if transparency is a behavior in high demand, why are so many unable or unwilling to behave transparently – at work, at home, at play, in love relationships, friendships and acquaintanceships?

Having transparency and losing it
Very early on in life, most children are truly transparent. We share our thoughts; we engage in lively, free expression; we openly and honestly disclose how we feel. We trust and are trusting. But not long after, we are often met with resistance, first, from our parents or immediate care givers, then from extended family, teachers, clergy, friends and others. The push-back we experience is often expressed as:

“You think you’re so smart!” (with a negative edge)
“Little boys/girls should be seen and not heard!” (you’re an irritant)
“That’s the craziest thing I’ve ever heard!” (you’re stupid)
“What do you know!” (with a negative dismissal)
“Who told you that?!” (skepticism; disbelief)
“Don’t say/do such a thing” (how can you say/do such a thing!)
“I don’t believe you.” (you’re lying)
“You better not talk like that!” (what you have to say is unacceptable or inappropriate)
“That’s not true.” (you are lacking or deficient)
“You don’t make any sense!” (you’re stupid)
“You don’t think straight!” (you’re unintelligent)
“What makes you think that way!” (your approach/ideas are weird)
“You don’t have half a brain!” (you’re stupid)
“For someone so smart, you’re really stupid!” (you lack intelligence)
“You’ll only cause trouble.” (you’re not mainstream; you’re not ‘like me’)

When we have been hammered and attacked again and again, we begin to believe that what we say, think, feel and do is not “good enough,” or we are “bad” or “wrong.” We begin to shut down or otherwise hide our essence, our openness, our vulnerability, i.e., “being who we are.”

Loss of self-value and worth
The belief – “transparency is not a good thing;” “transparency is bad;” “I’m bad” – becomes an imprint, hard-wired on our brain, in our unconscious, and we then carry this belief into adolescence and eventually into adulthood. This belief is translated into, “What I think, say, do and feel doesn’t have value.” and we believe “I don’t have value.” And, “If I don’t have value, then I better change the way I am in order to have value and worth” in order to garner the love, recognition, acknowledgement, approval, acceptance and all the other “goodies” that will only come to me if I contract, shut down and become opaque – anything but transparent.

We create a self-image, an identity, that I am not credible, I’m not smart, or intelligent. And in order to be heard, seen, and “met,” we give up our voice; we believe we have to hide our truth, our intelligence, ideas, emotions and feelings, and squash our True, Real and Authentic Self. We defer, become quiet and passive. We learn to lie, deceive, cheat and blame – to avoid being transparent. We morph into “good little boys and girls” – quiet, afraid, passive and fake.

In the workplace
In the workplace, where transparency is a hot topic, it’s important to remember that we bring our “family” to work – our biography and our biology. In interactions at work (as well as at home, play, and in relationships) we can feel like a child – when interacting with others who unconsciously remind us of the reactive, judgmental, critical parent or other authority figure who criticized us when being transparent as a child.

So, we hold back, defer, shut down, resist disclosing and become opaque so we can feel seen, heard and accepted. Transparency becomes a scary proposition. For example, we’re reluctant to discuss our motives and feelings about our plans, policies, processes, procedures with colleagues or clients. We’re reluctant to be up-front with customers, vendors, suppliers and other stakeholders. We’re afraid to disclose how and what we really think and feel, and why. We’re opaque.

The antidote to opaqueness?
Clarity and light.

As we become more self-aware – emotionally, psychologically and spiritually mature – we’re able to show up authentically, allow our voice, our wisdom, our thoughts, our motives and be who we really are – our True, Real and authentic Self.

When, with clarity about who we really are – our Essential Self – being transparent, and allowing our voice, feelings, emotions, honesty and openness, we transform (back) into our authentic self, alive and, once again feeling secure in our own skins; we’re not afraid to cultivate relationships that are transparent healthy, conscious, and trusting – leading to real connection, collegiality and collaboration. From this inner place, we access the courage, strength, will and steadfastness to speak “our truth” and not be concerned or caught up in what others think or believe about us.

Transparency supports us to know and be who we are. If we’re not open and transparent to others, we cannot be open and transparent to ourselves. If we’re not aware, open and transparent to ourselves, we cannot mature and become fully self-actualized.

You are the lens in the beam. You can only receive, give, and possess the light as the lens does. If you seek yourself, you rob the lens of its transparency. You will know life and be acknowledged by it according to your degree of transparency, your capacity, that is, to vanish as an end, and remain purely as a means.”  – Dag Hammarskjold

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • Are most folks clear about the motives underneath your thoughts, words and actions. Are you?
  • Would you describe leaders and managers in your workplace as transparent? Why/why not?
  • Would you describe yourself and your spouse/partner as transparent?
  • Do you demand transparency from others while being opaque yourself? Are you trustworthy? Transparent? What would your friends and colleagues say?
  • Does the standard of transparency by which you measure yourself differ from the standard of transparency by which you measure others? How so?
  • What stories do you use to rationalize and justify your lack of transparency?
  • Can you admit when you don’t know what or how, or don’t have an answer, or feel afraid or uncomfortable?
  • What was transparency like when you were growing up?
  • Have you ever been “found out” in some way, shape or form? What was that like?
  • Can you envision a life where transparency is an everyday operating principle?

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

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

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

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

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

You can also follow me on Twitter: @petergvajda.

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

Why Change Triggers a Fear of Dying

 

change image

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

Probably the greatest obstacle to a life worth living is the fear of death – not death itself – but the fear of death. Think about the last time you chose to, or were asked to, embrace true and real change – at work, at home, at play or in relationship. What was that like for you?

Attachment
There are times when we have the opportunity to meet someone who truly has no fear of dying. Exploring this individual’s perspective, it’s often the case they came face-to-face with their own immortality through a deep and intense “life-changing” experience, e.g., illness, divorce, job loss, financial ruin, loss of a loved one, and the like. In the process they most likely hit a spiritual “rock bottom.” In this place, one usually let’s go of their “human” identity – who they took themself to be. They let go of their “ego identity,” their self-images, their “human-ness” to a degree.

In this heightened conscious state, dying is not seen as a typical “temporal” end with all its characteristic fears: “Gosh, I’d hate to give up all my money.” “Gee, my wife will still be here, and I won’t be able to be with her after I divorce/leave/die.” “My job/position/title was all I had and without it I’m nothing.” “I’ll miss so much that I had here.” “I’ll wither away if I can’t run/work/paint/cook…any more.” “I can’t go on without it/her/him.”

These fears are based on our ego’s attachment to life as we know it – attachments which define “me” according to my ego mind. Here, the thought of loss sends fear throughout our being. And, from an ego perspective, justifiably so.

Defensiveness
When our human side, our ego self, is confronted with this type of “death,” our knee-jerk reaction is to become defensive – we try to protect ourself from change, we deny the change or the thought of change; simply, our ego doesn’t want to die. It’s like when we were a child and when there was upset in our home, we covered our ears with our hands and yelled in order to silence the noise. Ego death is certainly “noisy.”

Change can be upsetting.
Consider the many instances of change in your life. Perhaps you’re experiencing an illness, or the result of an accident, the threat or reality of a job loss, an impending divorce or separation, the loss of a loved one, a financial demise, a geographical relocation, etc.  What’s underneath all these events is some type of experience of “not knowing,” a “not knowing” that requires a letting go. Our emotional connection to letting go arises as fear and if explored deeply, the fear is not unlike a fear of death, i.e, “I don’t know what will happen”; I don’t know who I’ll become”; “I don’t know.” And, not knowing, or fear of the unknown, often evokes fear and anxiety. The “future” is where death happens.

The past as antidote
When change happens, the only safe haven for many is the past – an experience we do know; an experience which we survived. So, the greater the change, the greater the fear, and the more driven we are to seek refuge, safety and security in our past.

Hanging on to our past, we re-orient to our conditioning, our programming, and our habits and patterns of thinking, be-ing and do-ing. The greater our fear of death and dying, the more we dig in our heels and hang on to “the familiar – “the old me.” It’s safe.

The paradox
Our orientation to (or fixation on, obsession with) our past is the major obstacle that snuffs out the life, the vitality and potentiality of our being. We are actually denying life because we fear death. Right here and right now, we are potential, we are possibility, we are becoming. However, when we fear change and pull our self back into our past, we negate our present and our future – we choose death over life. In nature (the seasons, for example), a lack of life is – death. However, death is a requirement for new life to emerge.

The solution?
Perspective. When we change our perspective, we can choose to become laser-like focused in the here and now, with an orientation towards our future. We can choose to trust that what is coming is greater, richer and more fulfilling than what was. We can choose to trust in the limitless possibilities for well-be-ing, happiness and self-fulfillment. The fact is, there is a part of every living soul that does not die. When we contact this part of our self, we can access our Essential qualities and experience our True Self – a Self that is courageous, powerful, strong, steadfast, and capable. When we allow our True Self to emerge, we engage life with a dynamism, a vitality and a love that melts and erases our fear. Love and fear are diametrically opposed to one another. They cannot exist together.

Accepting change
If we choose, we can accept change in its various shapes and forms. We can choose to become courageous, stalwart and positively view all life as opportunity. But to do so, we need to be in touch with life, not fear. In this place, nothing can stop us or harm us. In this place, endings are beginnings, upset is a blessing, and death is (re) birth.

Our ego says the world is a dangerous place, that life is threatening and hurtful. This is a life perspective based on fear – fear of death. Another perspective is that of welcoming the unknown, welcoming death. From this perspective, life presents a huge opportunity – life is supportive and the world is a safe place. This is the place where true aliveness, change and transformation happens.

“The call of death is a call of love. Death can be sweet if we answer it in the affirmative, if we accept it as one of the great eternal forms of life and transformation.” – Hermann Hesse

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • What significant life transitions have you experienced? What was the “death” involved? How were you transformed as a result? What did you see about yourself before, during and after the experience(s)?
  • As you contemplate your future, can you envision positive outcomes for specific hopes and desires?
  • What current life changes are you experiencing? Are you fearful? How so? Are you in denial or hanging on to old patterns and habits of resistance? If so, why? What does resistance get you?
  • What changes in your life are you most proud of? Why?
  • Do you spend much time longing for the “good old days?”
  • What was change like for you/your family when you were growing up?

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

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

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

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

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

You can also follow me on Twitter: @petergvajda.

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