Reflecting on Stress and Work

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Stress, the ubiquitous element found more and more in today’s workplaces is the one insidious quality that drives folks to experience bodies that are anything but relaxed – tired, sore, hurting and weak; hearts that are anything but peaceful – angry, sad, depressed, resentful, broken and jealous; and minds that are anything but quiet – racing, on overdrive, obsessing, and caught up in constant debilitating and negative self-judgments and criticisms, all of which bring folks to the sad realization that, in fact, much of the time “I can’t think straight and I can’t think clearly” and “I feel lousy” – the mantra of many stressed folks these days at work (and at home, even at play).  

There is a direct correlation between physical, emotional and psychological well-be-ing and cognitive ability. It’s no wonder that folks can’t think straight, and feel lousy, in many of today’s workplaces (and homes, and places of play).

The kicker is that for every Google – where it’s a fun place to be and work, where management truly is committed to the health and well-being of its employees – there are thousands of companies which fail to align their corporate story, philosophy or mission/vision/values with the well-be-ing of their employees. Many of these organizations haven’t a clue, or don’t really care, that many of their employees are physical, mental and emotional wrecks – even though their well be-ing has a direct effect on performance and profitability. 

Many leaders, managers and supervisors profess to belong to the “Church of  Employee Concern” but very, very few leaders, managers and supervisors actually show up at the services.

The downside is that many, if not most, of these stressed folks are not engaged but, rather, disengaged, slowly dying on the vine of work as a result of work-related stress. What is a reality is many of these folks come to work in a state of “presenteeism” – showing up in a fog – basically unable to perform at maximum due to their emotional, mental, physical and/or psychological state of imbalance.

The sad truth is that while some companies, maybe yours, espouse wellness centers, gyms, meditation classes and the like, the reality is many workers fail to take advantage of these perks because of a subtle or outspoken workplace culture (driven from the top by leaders, managers and supervisors) that communicates: folks who spend company time to take care of their health and well be-ing are not committed to the company. The other kicker is that such perks at most companies are NOT seen as a worthwhile “investment” in folks but as an EXPENSE. What does that tell you about organizational commitment to employee health and well-be-ing? 

 However, there are two sides to this stress coin.

 There are those employees who perpetuate their own stress, their dis-ease, their imbalance and their mind-body-spirit disequilibrium. These are the folks whose stories are self-defeating and self-sabotaging, but tell these stories as if they are true: “I’m young so I can get away with 70-hour weeks,” “I have no time to exercise,” “I can’t afford to take care of my health right now,” “Taking time to work out at work on company time is selfish or self-serving,” “Not working out is OK because I devote my free time to my family” and on and on.  

The unfortunate scenario that sooner or later (and in today’s fast-paced workplace it’s happening much sooner than later) accompanies such denial of one’s mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health and well be-ing is not pretty: heart attack, mental, emotional, psychological, or physical imbalance, illness or dis-ease, life-changing accidents, divorce and/or estrangement from one’s spouse/partner and children, extra-marital affairs, addictions, and on and on.

However, at the same time, many do wake up and smell the coffee, and the flowers, when they feel the Universe tugging on their sleeve. These are the fortunate ones who realize it’s important to take time for self-reflection, and re-visit their values, motivations, needs and wants, life and work choices. These are the ones who explore deeply the meaning of work for them, their purpose in life and whether they are honestly “on purpose” in their work. 

Reflection, true reflection, requires a certain level of “superconsciousness”, higher consciousness or self-awareness. Here are four words that identify different levels of consciousness:

Unconscious – instinctual, follower

Subconscious – habitual, robotic, drone-like, reactive

Conscious – aware, intelligent, conceptual, reflective

Superconscious – intuitive, guiding, truthful, loving, universal

When we reflect from a deeper level, taking time to really “go inside” and ask ourselves if our stories are honest, sincere, authentic and true, we reflect on a superconscious level. As we go deeper and reflect on how we typically move through our day at work (and at home and play), we use our heart and body’s inner wisdom and intelligence and open up to superconsciousness. Using our superconsciousness allows us to enter into communication and harmony with the universal mind, our inner mind and wisdom body that is the secret of personal power and informs us about the “truth” of our life. 

Others, however, choose to just keep on keeping on, habitually, in a non-conscious, or reactive subconscious way, until it’s quite late in the game…and often pay a steep penalty on many levels.

So, life, even our life at work, is about choices. Positive choices have benefits; self-defeating  choices have consequences. Which are you experiencing in your everyday life at work – benefits or consequences? 

Perhaps some “superconscious” reflection is in order. If so, will you choose to take the time?

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • Does my company provide opportunities to take care of my health and well be-ing on company time? Do I take advantage of these opportunities? If not, why not? What’s my “story” around this? 
  • If my company does not provide such opportunities, what is their rationale for not doing so? Is there an “our employees are our most valuable asset”- type of statement in my company’s story or mission? If so, do I see any discrepancy here? How do I feel about this discrepancy? 
  • Is my health suffering on some level? Do I disengage from my health and allow myself to suffer? What story am I telling myself that allows me to sacrifice my health? Why do I choose (it is a choice) to stick to my story, even though I am suffering on some level?
  • Is my family suffering in some way due to my stress level? Is that OK? Do I have a story that allows me to remain stressed and them to continue to suffer? How do I justify my story?
  • Is my work a burden or a joy; fulfilling or an addiction? Is money or social status an addiction for me?
  • How would you rate your happiness over the last six months (1-10)? Is that rating OK? Even if it’s low, do you tell yourself a story that “justifies” or “rationalizes” your low happiness rating?
  • Is there a direct relationship between your work and your happiness? Between your family and your happiness? Are you happy at work? At home?
  • Is happiness, for you, an afterthought, a secondary-in-importance quality?
  • What one or two baby steps can you choose to take this week and next to begin to (a) reduce the degree of stress in your life and (b) move one area of your health (mental, physical, emotional, psychological or spiritual) up a notch on the 1-10 scale of wellness? Is there someone you can call on to support you with this effort?
  • Do you ever take time for deep, superconscious, self-reflection? If not, do you have a story that you tell yourself and others about why you choose not to engage in deeper self-reflection? Is your story, true, sincere, and honest?

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(c) 2022, Peter G. Vajda, Ph.D. and True North Partnering. All rights in all media reserved.

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

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

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

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

What Are You Doing, And Why? 

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It’s All About Integrity

“What we see depends mainly on what we look for.” – Sir John Lubbock 

 When we experience harmony and balance in our lives – at work, at home, at play and in relationship – it’s most often because there is a conscious alignment between what we think, feel, say and do. We are in integrity. Our life choices and decisions have a “felt-sense” of being true, honest and sincere. We have a “knowing” that our thinking, feeling, being, having and doing come from a place that is honest, sincere and self-responsible.

When we lack congruity between what we think, feel, say and do, we often experience a mental, emotional, spiritual and, sometimes, a physical sense (think of an upside-down isosceles triangle teetering on it’s tip, not on its flat base) of imbalance, disconnect, disorientation or dizziness. How could we not?

The ground of our being, the foundation of who we are, and how we are, is built on the degree of honesty in our expression – our thoughts, feelings, speech and actions. This foundation can begin to deteriorate when integrity – the concrete of the foundation – contains too much water, or too little sand or unwanted impurities. The result is our living life feeling confused, unsure, powerless – often feeling like a fake or phony.

“Honor your integrity and you will be repaid many times over with increased prosperity.”  – Sanaya Roman and Duane Packer 

The way we honor our integrity is to first be clear and conscious of the values that matter most – our core values – those that reside in our heart. Secondly, we are in integrity when we live these values – holding them, speaking them and being them.

“The first and worst of all frauds is to cheat one’s self.” – Phillip James Bailey 

 Self-Deception
When we lack alignment or congruence between what we think, feel, say or do, most often we are living a life of self-deception – hiding from our True, Real and Authentic Self. We are a fraud. We spend much of our life telling ourselves, and others, “stories.” We rationalize, justify and argue in feeble attempts to be comfortable with our deception, our excuses, our “faux” self. 

When we scan various areas of our life – career and livelihood, personal environment and organization, health and wellness, abundance and finances, play and recreation, intimacy and partnership, friends and family, and spiritual and personal growth – where are we in integrity and where are we out of integrity? Where are we forthright and honest and where are we dishonest, deceptive and cheating – our self and others? Where are we true to our word, our trustworthiness, our commitments and promises? Where are we taking a “left turn” or “cutting corners?”

Staying With The Energy of Integrity
When we are in integrity, we experience an energy, the “felt-sense” of “right knowing,” “right understanding” and “right action.” We experience a sense a strength, courage, steadfastness, discipline, inspiration, intuitiveness and will that arises from deep within. We are able to ward off thoughts, beliefs, assumptions, premises, “stories” and impulses that would otherwise knock us off our game. 

The way we stay in integrity is by being consciously conscious – continually, throughout our day, asking, “What am I doing right here and right now, and why?” We’re consistently looking at our motives? Am I angry, afraid, fearful, resentful, jealous, overwhelmed, sad, confused, etc? Am I feeling connected with others. Am I being selfish?

The question leads to motives. Motives come from values. So, an opportunity to explore what’s going on with me in this moment, and this moment, and this moment…and, why. This practice is a wonderful way to become more conscious of our fundamental motives and whether our motives truly serve us well and support our being in integrity. 

Integrity – The Planetary Connection
“The great thing in the world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes 

The core value of integrity is Purpose-related. Purpose points to why we’re on the planet. Many folks, if they’re being honest, will admit much of their activity lacks Purpose. When we lack Purpose, there’s no “center that holds.” Many folks can tell you what they’re doing in various life areas, but are hard-pressed to tell you why – they often lack a deeper, heart-driven intentionality or motives. Without Purpose-driven core values informing our thinking, feeling, speaking and action, we’re more than not experiencing imbalance and dis-harmony in our life – an experience that keeps us from being in integrity.

Character is most determined by integrity. Character is how we are when no one is watching. When we are out of integrity, we are dishonest and our dishonesty becomes the thread that runs through our dealing and associations – at work, at home, at play and in relationship. It’s hard for us to be trusted when we’re out of integrity.

So, when you turn off the lights tonight and tuck yourself in, are you (have you been) at peace and in integrity with yourself?

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • Are there choices and decisions you need to make that could take you out of integrity? How so? Do you make them anyway? Why?
  • Do you use the same definition to define integrity for yourself as you do for others? If not, why not? Do you consistently walk your talk? Would others – at work, at home and at play and in your relationship – agree with you?
  • Do your life choices and decisions support you to hold yourself in high regard?  How so?
  • Do you feel integrity is a robe you can put on and take off when convenient? How do you justify that perspective?
  • Who or what stops you from acting in integrity? How so?
  • When you’re not acting with integrity, what kind of self-talk do you engage in?  What kinds of feelings do you experience?
  • Do your needs for control, recognition and security stop you from acting with integrity?  How so?
  • Does it matter if you’re not acting with integrity? 
  • Do you ever excuse, justify or rationalize acting without integrity? If so, when and why? 
  • On an integrity scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high), how would you rate yourself when it comes to the following behaviors: gossiping, bullying, viewing or downloading porn, stealing physical materials, stealing intellectual property, stealing time, telling the truth, making excuses, being direct, open and honest in your communications, respecting others, obeying rules and regulations, and being faithful? 
  • What was your experience around honesty and integrity like when you were growing up?

—————————————————–
(c) 2022, 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.

“The Microwave is Too Slow!” – a Question of Patience

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“There art two cardinal sins from which all others spring: Impatience and Laziness.” – Franz Kafka

The other day I was speaking with a friend – a single, 50-something individual who’s a high-level executive for a Fortune 50 company. They was returning from work in the evening, carrying some packages. At the end of our conversation I said, “Enjoy your evening.” They replied, “Oh, I will. I have some delicious take-out.” Taking a step, and perhaps feeling guilty or, perhaps feeling she needed to add some context, she stopped and added, “I have some good food in the fridge but the microwave just takes too long.” Takes too long. Hmmm.

Impatience
If you Google “dealing with my impatience,” you’ll come up with about 25,500,000 hits; “feeling impatient,” 26, 200,000.  It’s a familiar topic these days. So, let’s consider some aspects of living life from a place of impatience, and patience.

If we reflect on how we live life from a place of impatience, here are some ways impatience might show up::

At work:Being short or rude with co-workers, colleagues, clients, customers and other stakeholders; cutting them off, interrupting them, and verbally and emotionally pushing them away;

Incorrectly taking in/down information; e.g., a phone number, email address, or other data-entry bit;

Making faulty choices or decisions when it comes to strategic planning, new business or new product development, hiring errors;

Jamming the copier or fax machine;

Spilling food or drink or making other messes;

Completing tasks and projects which require re-work or additional resources;

Giving up too quickly on tasks that require deeper focus and concentration, leading to less than optimal, or disappointing, results;

Cutting corners, being unethical, and not acting in integrity;

Experiencing stress, burnout, absenteeism, presenteeism, rustout and dis-ease;

Needing to control

At home:

  • Treating our spouse/partner, children, parents with disrespect as “we don’t have time for them;” “you’re being a bother (or irritant);”
  • Overcooking or undercooking meals;
  • Making accounting and banking errors;
  • Carelessly completing inside/outside work and repairs;
  • Engaging in love-making and intimate moments that are rushed, impersonal and meaning-less (for one, or both);
  • Being rude and insensitive towards retail and service personnel – in person, on line or on the phone;
  • Having fender-benders more often due to driving too fast and too close;
  • Going through the motions of an exercise routine or spiritual practice without a conscious focus and awareness;
  • Inappropriate shouting, escalating tension or unhealthy silence.

At play:

  • Being argumentative and defensive when things don’t go “my way;”
  • Experiencing repeated sports and exercise injuries or accidents;
  • Losing out on the “joy” and “fun” of sports and exercise;
  • Being hasty and inconsiderate of colleagues or teammates;
  • Cheating.

The downside of impatience is we often spend inordinate amounts of time and energy repairing, re-working and re-doing what we did when we were feeling impatient.

The bane of patience? We’re in a hurry.
We live in a culture of “hurry up.” Fast-food, drive-throughs, immediacy, getting here and getting there – almost as if any delay spells “death” – not unlike the shark that needs to keep moving to get oxygen into its lungs. The question underneath the question is, “Why am I so in a hurry to get to the next thing?” Why is it that so many folks’ define “short-term” as tonight, and “long-term” as “next Friday night?” What’s the rush?

The loss of joy
The obsessive need for people to “be somewhere else,” results in a joy-less life for many – joyless in the sense they cannot find deep(er) meaning in where they are in the moment. Joy must be “over there” and so their obsession to “finishing this to get to that”  – a perspective that creates a life akin to living in a void bereft of pleasure, joy and happiness. And in that place, devoid of happiness, pleasure and meaning, they cannot settle, breathe or be at peace. 

When we lack joy, we suffocate, and in our state of suffocation, we grasp on to anything, anyone who might be a source of oxygen – i.e., pleasure, joy and happiness. But, alas, it generally never works – we’ve become too conditioned to being impatient, resulting in a “fast food” approach to life that keeps us from being in the moment and from seeing there really is joy, meaning, and happiness where I am – right here and right now. So, we move, continuously – agitated, irritated, seeking the unattainable – until we learn to be patient and peaceful right where we are.

In a state of impatience, we race through life and in the process lose our capacity to experience true and real happiness, joy, fun, and appreciation for where we are in the moment. Impatience leads to states of frustration, anger and fear – like living in a consistent state of frenzy or overwhelm.

The antidote to impatience? You guessed it – patience.
“Infinite patience brings immediate results.” – Wayne Dyer

So, here are some tips that might support you to experience patience:

  • Be aware of your feeling of impatience. Sense where and how impatience shows up in your body. Allow your impatience. Don’t fight it. Don’t judge it. Don’t tell yourself a story about it. Just allow it to be. Continually ask, “What am I thinking?”, “What am I feeling” and “What’s going on in my body?”
  • Breathe deeply into your belly. Feel your feet on the floor and, if sitting, feel your butt in your chair. Allow the floor to support you; allow your chair to support you. Breathe deeply.
  • As you breathe deeply, send your breath to any areas of discomfort in your body. Don’t make any effort to “fix” anything or make anything happen. Just send the breath to the areas of discomfort.
  • Welcome the breath and invite it to go to those uncomfortable places. Notice your experience and as you do, and time will  begin to expand a little, then a little more, and a little more. As you watch, witness and observe your self in this experience, the discomfort, the agitation the impatience itself can begin to dissipate. Then, notice what comes in to replace the impatience. It might feel like an inner peace, or quiet, or relaxation, or softness in the once-tense areas of your body. Stay with your experience and see what arises.  As your feeling of impatience subsides, you’ll fine an opportunity to experience an inner OK-ness, right here and right now, in this moment. And in this moment, there’s no need to be “somewhere else.”  Patience has arisen.

Impatience is an ego-mind quality. The mind always needs to be “somewhere else.” Patience is a heart/soul quality. The heart/soul is just fine, right here, right now.

Patience brings focus, clarity and discernment – the capacity to be in the moment and gain clarity in terms of “right knowing,” “right understanding” and “right action.” That is, we are in a state of responsiveness, not reactivity.

Patience allows us to experience the moment, no matter where we are or whom we’re with without the urgency to be “somewhere else.”  In this state, we are practicing presence or mindfulness – the antidote to impatience – focused on the moment – during a meeting, speaking with a co-worker, standing in line at the supermarket, hitting a golf ball, eating a burger or peeling a carrot. Again, no need to be in the future, no need to be somewhere else.  

Even when using the microwave.

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • What does patience mean to you? Has patience taken on a pejorative, negative, connotation? How did you come to view patience as a vice rather than a virtue?
  • Write ten words or phrases you associate with patience. What do you see about yourself as a result of dong this exercise?
  • When you hear the phrase, “Be patient,” how do you feel?
  • Do you dislike waiting? If so, why?
  • Do you have a daily spiritual practice, e.g., walking, meditating, journaling, etc?
  • What was your experience of patience like when you were growing up?
  • Can you envision a world where patience is the virtue it once was?

“Learn the art of patience. Apply discipline to your thoughts when they become anxious over the outcome of a goal. Impatience breeds anxiety, fear, discouragement and failure.” – Brian Adams


—————————————————–
(c) 2022, 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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My Lawn Mower Made Me Do It.

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During the week of August 4th 2008, a man in Milwaukee loaded his shotgun and shot his lawn mower because it wouldn’t start. (See, also, 2021 Tesla incident.)

For the fellow in Milwaukee, it was about his lawn mower. What about the rest of us? What brings us to, or close to, the breaking point, where we want to shoot something, or smash it, or kick the stuffing out of it?

How to you react to things like a malfunctioning stapler, a computer hardware/software or app glitch, washing machine breakdown, Smartphone issue, an elevator door that takes forever to close, coffee that brews too slowly, a red light, an ATM that’s out of cash…? I’m thinking you can come up with your own list of irritants in a very short time.

Carl Jung said, “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” So, let’s take the liberty of stretching this thought a bit and paraphrase, “Everything that irritates us about inanimate objects can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” How so?

First, consider two definitions:

Inanimate – 1: not animate: a: not endowed with life or spirit; b: lacking consciousness or anthropomorphism; described or thought of as having human attributes 2: ascribing human characteristics to nonhuman things

So, what’s at play here? Again paraphrasing (this time Eleanor Roosevelt), “Nothing can make us feel what we don’t want to feel.” This bears repeating. Nothing can make us feel what we don’t want to feel.

While blaming and feeling the victim has become an art form in our Western culture, this fact remains a fact. Nothing can make us feel what we don’t want to feel.

So, reflecting on our definitions:

When walking through Home Depot and coming upon a lawn mower, my sense is you wouldn’t rush over to beat it senseless. When coming upon the words “fax machine” in a dictionary, my sense is you don’t immediately go into a tirade and tear the dictionary to shreds. Inanimate objects. No life, no consciousness; just objects, things.

When we become reactive, what’s most often operating is our need for the world to operate exactly as we want it to operate – i.e. perfectly. We want/need the security of being in control. When something takes us out of our comfort zone, when something happens that makes us feel or believe we’re not in control, then we (consciously or unconsciously) become reactive. Reacting means to “do without thinking,” to become emotional.

Lest you begin to think you’re “justified” in becoming angry, frustrated, emotional or irrational and grab on to the notion that some object caused your reaction, consider this.

The “stimulus” or trigger of your reactivity is possibly, yes, an object, event, circumstance (even an animate being, e.g. a human) or event outside of you. However, the “cause” of your reactivity is inside you. It is all about you. Feeling the victim, feeling out of control or put upon – whatever/however you feel, – you are responsible for your emotions and for your reactivity. You. Nothing, or no one “out there.”

It’s helpful, too, to remember what Shakespeare said, “An event is neither good nor bad; only thinking makes it so.”

Emotions don’t come from nowhere. They bubble up from inside. Our reactivity begins the instant we tell ourselves a story about an event and this is where the inanimate object become animate as we ascribe anthropomorphic/human qualities to it. “It’s doing that to me!” We, consciously or unconsciously, take it personally. We sometimes even go so far to have an actual conversation with the object.

We create a story in which we allow the lawn mower, the fax machine or the elevator door to take on actual qualities and a personality that are “doing something to me” – it’s making me uncomfortable; it’s ruining my day, it’s making me late, it’s making me unhappy and it’s interfering with my life and my need for control or security in some way, shape or form.

Somehow, this object has acquired all these personality qualities and intentionality that are out to get me and make my life miserable.

We experience the event, we are catapulted out of our comfort zone and we create a story – all happening sometimes in a nano-second. Our adrenaline begins to flow, energy pours into our head, anger-based chemicals flow from the brain, emotions and physiological discomfort take over our body and, well, we load the shotgun and blast the lawn mower to pieces, or become verbally violent and explode.

Let’s review the Jung paraphrase: “Everything that irritates us about inanimate objects can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”

When the event occurs and I feel myself becoming reactive, two immediate questions to ask myself are: “So what’s going on with me, right here and right now?” and, “How am I feeling?” See a list of feelings here.

It’s critical to be able to name what you’re feeling. If you can’t name it, then you can’t work with it. So in addition to reacting with “I’m angry,” you’ll gain much more insight into your story if you can say, for example, “I’m feeling all alone (or afraid, angry, ashamed, cheated, confused, controlled, trapped, worried, put upon . . . )

Naming your emotions in this way and exploring why you feel the way you do, will give you a greater understanding of the historical nature of your reactivity and support you to see what’s really underneath your reactivity. You’ll see how your immediate reactivity is not about “now” even though right now you think it is. It’s deeper.

When you understand the nature of your reactivity (and your experience of loss of control), you’ll be better able to witness an event for what it is – an objective event – without needing to attach your history to it and become reactive (that was then; this is now…and there’s no connection). There is a 99.9% chance that what you’re feeling in the present moment is not a “one-off.” There’s a good chance you’ve experienced this same feeling, albeit in different circumstances, before. The reactive feeling that comes with a sense of loss of control is most likely an old feeling, just leaking out again in the current circumstance.

With a deeper, patient and curious exploration and understanding of who you are and how you are in this moment, and how it relates to earlier childhood experiences when you sensed a loss of control, you’ll discover and be able to call upon your internal, heart-felt (and not ego-reactive) essential qualities such as: courage, strength, wisdom, compassion, clarity, steadfastness, discipline, patience and will that can support you to cope with life’s misadventures without getting knocked out of the box or becoming reactive. Like I’ve said in previous posts, you will be able to stop “futurizing your past.”

With this deeper, conscious and sincere exploration, we develop the capacity to respond to events – with considered reflection and contemplation – rather than with knee-jerk reactivity.

We can get clues about our unconscious programming if we observe our reactions, responses, feelings and thoughts about events (and other people). Until or unless we take the time to look inside and explore the nature of our reactivity, life will continue to give us a series of events in which we play the victim and martyr and remain reactive.

Asking yourself, for example, “How do I judge or stereotype events (or people)?” “What pushes my buttons?” “What makes me angry or fearful or sad?” “Do I need the world to operate perfectly?” etc., will support you to see what it is that you need to work on “inside” you that attracts events that continually push your buttons.

If you didn’t have deeper (often unconscious) beliefs, expectations, assumptions, and preconceptions about the circumstances and events that trigger you reactivity, then, pure and simple, you probably wouldn’t react the way you do.

So when outer events spark a reaction, we need to look inside to explore what’s going on. As Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet, “an event is neither good nor bad; only thinking makes it so.”

So, finally, it’s never about the lawn mower – ever.

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • What negative experiences or events do you consistently or frequently encounter? Why do you think that is?
  • What do you not know about yourself (e.g., your history, memory and past experience) that might be leaking out now in a negative way?
  • Who can help you to explore and consider more clearly what you need to discover and see about yourself?
  • Do you consider yourself to be a “blamer?” (victim, martyr…)? Would your colleagues, family, and friends agree with you?
  • What are your “lawn mowers”? How do you react to it/them? Are these  one-offs, or patterns of reactivity?
  • What are you like when you become reactive? What would others say?
  • Have you ever explored the sources of your reactivity?
  • On a scale of 1-10, how positive are you, generally? What would others say about you? Would you feel comfortable asking some of these other folks?
  • What one or two baby steps can you take in the next week or two to become less reactive and more responsive to (one of) your “lawn mower(s)”?
  • What was feeling out of control like for you when you were growing up?
  • Do you consider yourself to be a perfectionist? If so, what were your earliest childhood experiences that pointed you in this direction? Over the course of your life, where has being a perfectionist put you on a 1-10 continuum of happy…unhappy (angry, frustrated, sad, confused…)?

—————————————————–
(c) 2022, 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

Hearing Voices –The Seeds of Fear, Doubt and Mistrust

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“People are disturbed not by things but by the view they take of them.” – Epictetus

The single most important building block of successful relationships is trust. Without trust, relationships are put in jeopardy and people disengage, pull back, and resist connecting. Without trust, people feel unsafe – physically, emotionally, mentally, or psychologically.

Mistrust is a fact of life in many relationships. Although many partners in current relationships experience mistrust (their own or another’s), mistrust most likely did not originate in the current relationship. Mistrust is a consequence of experiences individuals have long before their current relationship(s). Mistrust is brought to the current relationship; it did not originate in the current relationship.

The voices we heard then
We are not born with a natural sense of distrusting others. However, long before we could spell “relationship,” the seeds of fear, doubt and mistrust were subconsciously planted in our minds, in our psyches by our parents or other primary caregivers when we were very young. In the early stages of life, during the developmental process from birth to about age seven, we absorbed the seeds of doubt, fear and mistrust. These seeds  were nurtured by the voices we heard – voices that communicated to us, in various ways, shapes and form, that:

“You are not good (worthy, valued…)”
“You are not wanted.”
“You are not loved for who you are.”
“You are not seen for who you are.”
“You needs and wants are a problem (bother, irritant…).”
“Your needs are not important.”
“You are not safe.”
“You will not be taken care of.”
“You will be betrayed (dismissed, misunderstood…).”
“Your presence does not matter.”

These messages may not have been delivered in these exact words. However, the messages took the form of statements and behaviors (verbal and non-verbal) that otherwise dismissed us, made us feel small, invisible and unseen, negated and/or ridiculed our efforts, our creations, our imaginations, our ideas, our thoughts, our beliefs, our interests, our aliveness, our juiciness, our silence, even our individuality.

The many positive voices we so wanted to hear, so needed to hear as children – the opposite of the voices in the above list – were often lacking, or seldom heard. For many of us, the voices we heard were so often negative that to this day, when we hear someone call our name, we often/sometimes react in a “startled” way, fearing something negative or fearing another admonition that says we are “bad” or “wrong” – messages that are at the heart of our most basic fear, doubt and mistrust. 

The voices we hear now
Read each of the statements in the list above. Examine your interactions of today, the past week, past month, six months or past year and see if you can pinpoint events or circumstances at work (or at home or play) where you interpreted and reacted to someone else’s words or behavior as one of these messages. After reflection, follow your story to ascertain the “truth” of your interpretation or reactivity. In other words, did the other person(s) actually mean, for example, that you are “not good,”  “not wanted,” “not seen for who you are,” “do not matter” or are
“bad” or “wrong” in some way?

Experience shows that our interpretations of the messages we hear (read, etc.) are most often subjective, and judgmental and, in fact, are most often “stories” we make up – not having dug deeper to explore the truth of our interpretation. When we move to fear, doubt and mistrust of others, our “story” is usually the cause. The question is, “Is my story accurate?”
 
Experiencing our “family” in our current relationship(s)
Psychologists have long told us that “we bring our family to our (current) relationships” – that many of our psycho-social-emotional dynamics which we exhibit in our current relationships reflect our “stuff” – feelings, emotions, behaviors that we initially experienced in the company of our immediate and extended family (and friends, teachers, clergy, etc…) when we were growing up.Only now, in the present, in real-time, we unconsciously react to others in our relationships (our colleagues, bosses, direct reports, partners, relative, siblings,…) who push our buttons as “our familymembers” who pushed our buttons “back then”. We project our childhood fear, doubts and mistrust on to current individuals. We “futurize out past.”

Based on our internalized beliefs, we then often experience, in our current relationships, feelings such as: feeling small, invisible, unworthy, unimportant, insecure, unsure, a potential liability/problem, unsafe, stupid, incompetent, mistrusting and on and on. And, why wouldn’t we?If we’ve not done any personal work to explore the nature of our feelings of unworthiness and deficiency, our fears, doubts and mistrust, well, that’s what our antennae and radar are looking for. It’s our wiring. We turn the radio dial in our heads to “vigilance” and “mistrust” and allow our preconditioned dispositions of fear, doubt and mistrust to direct our lives in our relationships.  

So, as we feared, doubted and mistrusted then, we often come to our current relationships, consciously or unconsciously, armed to fear, doubt and mistrust now. When we hear the oral or written voices of those who we feel are attacking us today, we are really hearing the voices of those who surrounded us as we were growing up. 

“Do not abandon trust when your ego thinks things should be different than they are.” –  Wayne Dyer

The antidote to fear, doubt and mistrust
When we observe and watch our reactivity – our fear, our doubt and mistrust – there are six steps we can take to discern whether our fear, doubt and mistrust are justifiable or not, and take action to move towards being trusting and building trusting and healthy relationships.

  1. Uncouple – when one experiences a sense of fear or doubt, it can be helpful to ask if the feeling, emotion or sensation is “familiar,” that is, whether this seems like an “old” feeling or belief that arises again and again. Telling one’s self, “That was then; this is now.” in the immediate moment can support one to uncouple (mentally, emotionally and psychologically) from old conscious or unconscious attachments to one’s family. In this instance, one can then choose to view the current individual(s) in a fresh light, in a way that is detached from a habitual pattern of (family-related) reactivity and allows one to take a deep breath, see the other as a separate and distinct individual and engage in a “right-here, right-now” relationship that has no history. 
  2. Discern the “rest of the story” – when we tell ourselves a story about the other(s) that results in fear, doubt and mistrust, it’s helpful if we look to discover the rest of the story, that is, ask the other if the story we are telling ourselves is accurate. Saying something like, “I’m having this reaction to what you said/wrote and it’s bothering me and I want to check it out with you” can go a long way in both clarifying the accuracy of your reactivity, your story, and engendering a trusting relationship.
  3. Forgive others – if someone spoke in a way that was hurtful to you.  Forgiving is not condoning their behavior. It is, however, a mental and emotional way to move beyond resentment which, over time, can cause deep stress and upset that leads to dis-ease and illness on many levels. Healing occurs when we choose to give up our bitterness, resentment and anger. Remember that resentment is like taking a drug and waiting for the other person to die.
  4. Explore – your childhood history around issues of doubt, fear, betrayal and trust in an effort to see how your issues around trust are “learned behaviors” that you have carried with you throughout your life’s journey. See if you can observe where and when you “project” your fear, doubt and mistrust on to others and whether your projections are justified or, more probably, are knee-jerk programmed reactions.
  5. Speak with others – whom you trust and support and air your feelings. Sometimes this dialogue can help you uncover “blind spots” and areas that are non-apparent when you are mulling things over in your head and help you gain greater clarity on an issue or feeling. Be sure those with whom you speak are good listeners who respect you, can hear you and don’t feel the need to jump in, fix you, educate you, teach you, interrogate you, or hijack your experience. This dialogue will allow you to express feelings which, if kept inside (i.e., buried alive), can only serve to rise up again and rear their ugly head, often leading to feelings of paralysis, hopelessness and helplessness that fuel fear, doubt and mistrust.
  6. Empathize – when you are critiquing, disagreeing or pushing back on someone. Remember that everyone has limitations and blockages around trust, (i.e, their “stuff”) and communicating with empathy, understanding and compassion will go a long way in forging healthy and positive relationships – even when you disagree.

It’s good to remember that we are all a product of our upbringing and that the way someone relates to you is often not about you. Another’s fears, doubts and mistrust, like yours, are more often than not projections they put on you, and if you are caught in an unconscious reaction – you on them. Most often, even though we are “adults”, we perceive other adults through the lens of the child we once were and cast them according to the recognizable characters of our historical, familial story.

The voices of fear, doubt and mistrust with which we communicate to others, and these voices of others who communicate with us are colored by the past.

Understanding these voices and how they sow the seeds of fear, doubt and mistrust allows the possibility of communicating as who we really are, in the moment, right here and right now, and invites open, honest and mature interactions that bring us greater psycho-social-emotional well-being and authenticity.

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • What can you do to increase your trust? What will you do? Examples?
  • Can you identify and eliminate blockages to trust, most notably your fears? How so?
  • Who and what do you trust? Are fear and doubt much of the fabric of who you are?
  • How did you learn to fear, doubt and mistrust as you were growing up? Was it a healthy sense of fear, doubt and mistrust or was it a defensive, reactive sense of fear, doubt and mistrust?
  • Are you seen or known as a “doubting Thomas?” Examples?
  • Do you often doubt yourself? Judge yourself? Mistrust yourself? How so?
  • Do you take criticism, constructive feedback and push-back personally? Why?
  • Can you see your “family” in others? How so?
  • Do folks ever say you remind them of a member of their family?

—————————————————–
(c) 2022, 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

Agreements, Integrity and Trust  

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Healthy and conscious relationships are open, honest, safe and trustworthy, where people are acting and be-ing in integrity. One of the major foundation blocks of open, safe and trusting relationships is that of keeping agreements.

The foundation of healthy relationships begins to atrophy and crumble when one feels betrayed. One feels betrayed when another fails to commit to or keep agreements.

What is an agreement?

The Cambridge Dictionary defines agreement as: when people approve of or accept something; a decision or arrangement between two or more groups or people.

The purpose of an agreement is to engender harmony so that two or more folks can engage in an interaction without any subterfuge, hidden agenda, duplicity or lack of transparency. An agreement is effective only insofar as it comes from a deeper, internal place of motivation. Seems simple enough.

Dis-agreements

 Yet, our life at work, at home, at play and/or in relationship often seems rife with dis-agreements, betrayals, dishonesty, being out of integrity, and disharmony. Why?

The underlying cause of one’s not living up to one’s agreements is that often one enters into an agreement knowing that one’s true desire for, and commitment to, an agreement is halfhearted.

Often people enter agreements because (1) they are afraid of what will happen to them if they don’t enter the agreement; (2) they want to feel safe in some way – mentally, emotionally, physically, psychologically, socially, financially, etc.; (3) they are “giving to get,” that is, agreeing, in order to achieve some personal, self-centered goal; or (4) they want to avoid the discomfort of disagreement or conflict so they agree to “go along to get along.” Such agreements never come from the “right place” – the place of integrity, trust and authenticity.    

Whenever the excuse for entering an agreement comes from a place of duplicity, follow-through with consistency, taking the high road, and being in integrity never happens. 

Agreements, in and of themselves, never lead to safety, trust and harmony. Acting on agreements, consistently, is what leads to safety, trust and dependability. Effective agreements are always built on a clear purpose that leads to action.

When agreements work

For agreements to work, that is, for agreements to generate safety, trust, harmony and dependability, one needs to reflect, deeply, consciously and from one’s heart, and inquire: “Why am I agreeing to this?” “Really, really, really, why?” “What is the true and real purpose underlying this agreement?” Without a deep sense of clarity, most agreements self-destruct sooner rather than later. The fallout and collateral damage from failed agreements can be quite extensive – mentally, physically, emotionally, socially, financially, and psychologically.

Once an agreement is broken, the first thing to erode is trust, followed by feelings or emotions around betrayal, fear, resentment, blame, guilt, and shame – apologies and “making up for the broken agreement,” notwithstanding. The level of trust can almost never be regained to the degree that it existed when the agreement was made. Without trust, there is no honest, safe, authentic and healthy relationship. Just toxicity, and a low-level-fever-grade type of agitation, fear, vigilance, unspoken, but felt, sense of guilt or shame, and a continual watching of one’s back. 

When you create agreements that reflect integrity, authenticity, heart-felt purpose and accountability for one’s actions, you are creating an environment/culture that exudes safety, trust, harmony and well-being. Performance and conscious, healthy relationships grow and thrive in such environments.  

 Some questions for self-reflection:

  • How would you characterize your relationships at work, at home and at play? Healthy, authentic, in integrity, trusting, duplicitous, fake, phony…?
  • Do you honor and keep your agreements, consistently? What would your boss, colleagues, direct reports, clients, friends, spouse/partner say?
  • Do you find yourself apologizing regularly for not keeping your agreements? How so?  Why?
  • Do you apologize when you break agreements?
  • Do you create agreements with a win-win, or win(me)-lose(other) motive?
  • Do you generally blame others when agreements break down? How so?
  • What is the level of trust in your relationships? If low, how can you increase the level of trust?
  • Have you ever been betrayed as a child? Do you enter agreements with a feeling that you’ll be betrayed at some point? Is trusting others a challenge for you? Why?
  • Is intimacy a common issue in your relationships? How so?
  • Are your relationships characterized by communication and openness? If not, why not?
  • All of your failed relationships have one common denominator – you. Have you ever reflected on that notion? 
  • How much do you trust people?
  • Do you believe that work is largely “political?” If so, why?
  • Are you continually vigilant of who are your allies, opponents, adversaries, and “friends” at work? Why?

—————————————————–
(c) 2022, 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

Living in the Gutter – Why Change is Challenging

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“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.” – Henry David Thoreau

Daily we’re bombarded with new books, videos, podcasts, conferences, news, and research about why folks behave irrationally – even when they “know” their behavior isn’t rational. We learn why affirmations, acting “as if,” “faking it til you make it” and other strategies and tactics often don’t lead to sustainable change, and why change is so difficult even when the brain is supposed to be so “plastic,” etc. Why is true and lasting change and transformation so challenging? Here’s one perspective. See how it works for you.

The Gutter
Visualize the “gutter,” the ball return “groove,” on either the side of a bowling alley lane. Assume that at one time this “gutter” was perfectly flat. Visualize that, with guide barriers keeping the bowling ball moving in a straight line along the gutter surface, the ball consistently moves from the far end of the alley to the near end where it returns to a ball-holding area.

Over seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years, the ball begins to carve out its own pathway, and at some point no longer needs any guides to control its movement/direction. The ball now follows it’s own self-created pathway – day in and day out, night in and night out, over and over, with never a change in direction. The ball seemingly has a mind of its own. A sort of programming.

Who Carves Your Groove?
Think of the initial guide barriers on either side of the “groove” as representing your parents or primary caregivers, your siblings, relatives, playmates, teachers, clergy, etc. – i.e., those who “guided” you from infancy to about the five, six, seven…

And think of that “groove” as the neurological pathways, neurons, and synapses in your brain – each representing an “habitual way” of doing, be-ing, having and thinking (i.e., thoughts, beliefs, actions, assumptions, premises, expectations, “stories,” feelings, emotions and worldviews that created your orientation to, and perceptions of, your world).

Even with all the neurobiological and brain science research touting “brain plasticity,” and popular “wisdom” annotating how irrational we are in spite of our protestations to the contrary, etc. we can begin to have a glimpse of why many folks cannot or will not change.

“All appears to change when we change.” – Henri-Frederic Amiel

Re-Smoothing the Groove
In order for true, real and lasting change to occur, one of two things has to happen: (1) we have to “sand-paper” down the original grooves and/or (2) create new grooves representing new ways of do-ing, be-ing, having and thinking. Either way, both of these tasks require concerted time and effort, self-discipline, heightened self-awareness, and, more, they require commitment. And here is why “recidivism” of a sort haunts most folks who want change.

Clinging to Old Ways
What prevents most folks from carving out new grooves is that they’re wired to hang on to their original groves. They are “clinging.”

Most folks live in a “closed system” – a loyalty to our own internal reality – resistant to change. We become in the present what we became in the past., i.e., we “futurize our past.” In Buddhist terms, we are attached to this inner reality, constantly reconditioning to itself. The brain also continually generates this closed internal representation of our outer world, seeing and relating to it the same way, over and over again, even if, IN REALITY, the outer world is changing. We are stuck in our “grooves.” We become caught in an emotional and psychological attachment – to survive – to stay, i.e., be, the same in order to feel safe ands secure.  

As adults, our orientation to our world is largely how we were as infants, then children, then as adolescents, as young adults…. As adults, we are our earliest “grooves.”  Again, we “futurize our past.”

Be a Work in Progress
The good news is that this “stability” helped us survive and make sense of our world as infants and children. The not-so-good news is that this “stability” locks us into seeing and reacting to our present world and experiences in similar ways over time, i.e, we are hardwired to be resistant to change.

The key to true and lasting change, from the perspective of some psychotherapists, and from a Buddhist perspective, is to open the closed system in such a way that we do not view our self as a calcified, reified structure but rather as a “process” – often why many folks who do deep personal work say they are “works in progress.” They no longer identify as “I am this” or “I am that” but see themselves simply as “being” (resulting from the process of sandpapering down the old grooves, and loosening the hard, rigid identification (guard rails) with one’s self, i.e., “who I think I am” or “who I take myself to be.”) and creating new grooves.

Change Cannot Be Cognitive Alone
An important point here is that such change most often cannot be done through the mind, i.e., “cognitive” efforts, alone. True change needs to be processed through a conscious mind-body-spirit process – one reason why “positive thinking”-type efforts seldom produce true, lasting and sustainable change and transformation. The mind alone cannot “open” it’s own closed system.

Think of the moment you wake up. That split moment. When perhaps you hear the birds communing, or notice the sky, or hear the rain, or really smell the coffee – that split moment before “thinking” kicks in. That’s the place where true change and transformation takes place. That’s the place where we are an “open system.” Here, we are not conditioned by past experiences. We are completely present to our experience, right here and right now. No brain/mind to interrupt, to interpret, to link our present moment to past experience. Once “thinking “begins, almost all (change) bets are off.

As soon as we allow this moment to become influenced by memory, conditioning, and past experience, we slide right into the old “grooves” and are taken over by past perceptions, judgments, thoughts, beliefs, feelings, emotions, etc. – back to the old ways of “I am this” and “I am that.” We futurize our past. Our history, memory and experience take over. Our present is experienced through our past. We are clinging.

As soon as we begin “thinking,” then all the old feeling and emotional patterns related to our thoughts also arise. The clinging process is mental, cellular, neuronal, emotional, psychological and physiological as all our old patterns, urges, needs and desires arise, often unconsciously – just as the ball habitually returns to its starting place. Clinging that reinforces our closed-system inner reality, our old, habitual self.

“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” – Andy Warhol

Clinging is the basis of resistance to change. Clinging is a survival strategy that emanates from deep, deep down in our core. In every “new” situation, we keep “re-birthing” our old, fixed self and in the process our familiar, protective ways of defending our old, familiar, resistant self also arise. This process is our “way of life.”

Presence
A process that leads one to a conscious, deeper awareness of these dynamics, a process that supports one to move into presence (where identity with “grooves’ is non-existent), where there is no need to defend, where there is no attachment to “I am this” or “I am that,” is one possible way to experience true and real shift and change. The “mind” alone cannot foster such change and that’s one reason we read of so many examples of “irrationality.”

The challenge is to choose to move away from “things mental and rational” into “things spiritual” (not religious or theological, but spiritual) where we shift from identification and the need to perpetuate our conditioned or habitual self, but towards an alignment or connection to our self as we are in that moment when we wake up, in that present-time experience, before “I”/”me” kicks in.

True and lasting change is an eminent possibility. But it takes time, consciousness, striving, honesty, steadfastness, courage, strength, will and lots of love and compassion for one’s self – qualities that for many in our culture seem to be in short supply.

We can smooth out our old grooves, the “gutter” of our past, the “irrationality,” and create new grooves – but just not by 9:00 tomorrow morning – a sad realization for many enmeshed in our microwave-oriented, Twitter- Tik-Tok-connected, 15-second sound-bite, seeking-immediate-gratification culture.

“It’s not that some people have willpower and some don’t. It’s that some people are ready to change and others are not.” – James Gordon, M.D.

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • On a scale of 1-10, what number describes your general feeling of impatience?
  • Do you ever reflect on how you came to be who you are, what you think or why you act the way you do? If so, what do you see about yourself? If not, are you curious as to why not?
  • Do you feel enslaved by your electronic life? Is this by choice?
  • What “old grooves” would you like to sand down and eliminate? What new groove would you like to create? Are there obstacles that prevent you from doing either, or both? How so?
  • Do you ever behave “irrationally” – do-ing or be-ing in ways you know you shouldn’t? If so, why? What does acting “irrationally” get you?
  • What of your past do you cling on to? How so?
  • Can you envision a world where you feel free in (most) every moment, where you can let go of notions of how you “should” be and dis-identify with “I am this” or “I am that?,” where you’re not a fixed entity but a process?

—————————————————–
(c) 2022, 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

No Mud, No Lotus

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Over the years, I’ve become a devout believer in the notion of necessary suffering – that you cannot heal, grow or become -conscious,” and deeply self-aware, without suffering.

Thich Nhat Hahn, Buddhist monk and author, puts it this way:

It’s like growing lotus flowers. You cannot grow lotus flowers on marble. You have to grow them on the mud. Without mud, you cannot have a lotus flower. Without suffering, you have no ways in order to learn how to be understanding and compassionate. That’s why my definition of the kingdom of God is not a place where suffering is not, where there is no suffering…”

For me, it’s not a question of whether you believe in God (Source, or whatever you call a Higher Power), nor is it about religion or theology. It is about how one transforms to a higher state of self-awareness and consciousness (one’s True, Authentic Self) so that one can walk the planet on a daily basis from a place of equilibrium, inner peace and equanimity.

The Buddha says:

“As a blue or white lotus is born in the water,
grows up and is unpolluted by the water,
so too has the perfected one grown up in the world,
has risen above the world
and stands unpolluted by it.” – samyutta nikaya 22.94

The science of it all
The reason the Lotus flower is not polluted is due to its leaves. The leaves represent what is known as the “Lotus effect” – the leaves are so structured that water beads up and off the leaves, keeping the flower from being polluted. In fact, the leaves clean the lotus of real or potential pollution.

The science, according to Wikipedia, is:  …”due to their high surface tension water droplets tend to minimize their surface trying to achieve a spherical shape. On contact with a surface, adhesion forces result in wetting of the surface: either complete or incomplete wetting may occur depending on the structure of the surface and the fluid tension of the droplet.” The cause of self-cleaning properties is the hydrophobic water-repellent double structure of the surface.
 
The nature of pollution
So, consider your life – at work, at home, ay play and in relationship. Are you confronted by “suffering” in some way, shape or form daily? Better, how are you confronted by suffering on a daily basis? Most of us are. How is it that we can manage to NOT be immersed by the polluted waters – literally and figuratively – of the context of our past and immediate environments? 

The fact is, each one of us grows up immersed in the “mud” – an environment characterized by wounding – abuse, criticism, judgments, abandonment, rejection and the like – an environment in which every family operates, into which every human being is born. It’s the human experience. The degree of suffering may differ; but the muddy environment is there. The mud also represents painful childhood memories. Later on in life, the mud represents our immediate, real-world, real-time  “suffering” – mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually, and psychologically – that arises in the form of our life challenges – health, finances, social and living conditions, career, relationships, social life, etc.

When we get in touch with our own suffering, head-on – recognizing it, being open to it, chewing on it, digesting it, understanding the purpose of it, metabolizing it, rather than denying and avoiding it, we grow, we become more conscious, self-aware. When this happens, suffering is still there, but the “charge” or pull it used to have becomes less and less,as we understand the reasons for the suffering, how it leads to our growth, our self-understanding and our healing. It’s the idea that you can have pain, but you don’t have to suffer.

The antidote to pollution
The growth of the Lotus, our individual Lotus, represents transformation – moving from suffering towards happiness, love, peace, and stillness in our life – at work, at home, at play and in relationship.

When we do the “work” to transform, we gain clarity, insights, AHA moments all of which point to the “purpose” of our suffering, our wounding, and our challenges. In the process of understanding, something shifts. Your attitudes, your responses, your perspective. Where your focus is more on your Lotus, less on the mud.

Understanding our own suffering, we can also begin to understand others’ as well – the place from which love and compassion grow. Many of us resist getting in touch with our suffering. But, when we do get in touch, we actually suffer less. We become the Lotus.

That’s the nature of the Lotus. That’s the nature of the mud.

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • Do you ever feel like a victim? If so, why? How does that show up in your life?
  • Has your suffering taught you anything/lessons? How so? What have you seen/learned?
  • What would it be like if you viewed your suffering as happening FOR you and not TO you?
  • Do you feel you are in control of your life? If not, why not?
  • Do you believe that change begins with you?
  • Do you tend to move away from your discomfort? If so, what might it be like to embrace it? How do you feel when you consider this option?
  • To what degree (1-10), on a daily basis, do you identify with the mud, with the Lotus?
  • How did you experience suffering as a child? Do you still carry scars of that suffering with you now? How so?

P.S. If you’re someone with a tendency to want/need to fix, save or otherwise rescue others from their suffering, the story of the butterfly and the cocoon is worth reading. You can find one of many versions here.


—————————————————–
(c) 2022, 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

Relationship Networking – on Another Level

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“Our truest life is when we are in our dreams awake. Not till we are lost, in other words, not till we have lost the world, do we begin to find ourselves, and realize the infinite extent of our relations.” Henry David Thoreau

In the heaven of Hindu and Buddhist tradition, there lies a vast silken web whose strands span infinitely across space in every direction. At each intersection, there’s a shining luminous jewel and each one completely reflects every other jewel. The jewels are said to represent the souls of all animate life. For many, Indra’s Net represents the interconnectedness of all souls. The idea is: since each jewel reflects all others, we both affect, and are affected by, others. 

Consider:

How do you feel when you’re treated abruptly and disrespectfully by someone – a colleague, a boss, a sales- or wait-person, a client or vendor, a physician, a relative, partner or spouse? Moreover, if you’re feeling unhappy or angry, how likely are you to allow your negative emotions to leak out and spill over into your next interaction, and the next, and the next? And, if others react negatively to your negativity, how do you suppose they’ll react in their next interaction? And, if the opposite were true in terms of your feeling “seen,” acknowledged and appreciated by another, would that positivity affect your next interaction, and the next, etc.? Get the picture? 

The Butterfly Effect – The idea is that if a butterfly chances to flap its wings in Beijing in March, then, by August, hurricane patterns in the Atlantic will be completely different – (this concept is initially attributed to meteorologist Edward Lorenz). Interconnectivity, networking, on a global level.

So, moving from the heavens to “down here,” at ground level, the practical implication of Indra’s Net would have us be curious about how we choose to relate to the various “jewels” we come across in our daily life at work, at home, at play and in relationship. 

Caught up in a life where many are moving at 90 miles an hour (think “ant colony”) – mentally, physically, on- and off-line, etc., how often do we consciously or unconsciously ignore those other jewels with whom we come into contact? We DO have some effect on everyone with whom we come into contact whether we/they are aware of it or not, whether we choose to or not. 

Living a life, rather than a lifestyle, or living “in” one’s self (conscious self-awareness), rather than living “next to” one’s self (i.e., robotically, disengaged), means being aware of “who we are” and “how we are” in every moment, understanding and appreciating the significance of the web of interconnectivity, our interconnectivity. 

Once a human being has arrived on this earth, communication is the largest single factor determining what kinds of relationships he makes with others and what happens to him in the world about him. – Virginia Satir 

Consider:

With how many people do you interact (face-to-face, electronically, etc.) every day? And how many of these folks are actually “visible” to you as you interact? That is, how many of these folks do you really see as having any real-ness or personal-ness? Do you tend to overlook or dismiss them as “ordinary” because you view them as “roles,” or tasks, or transactions, or insignificant or simply as a means to an end – e.g., direct reports, assistants, secretaries, clerks, taxi/bus drivers, street sweepers, shopkeepers, and the like? 

Indra’s Net reminds us that we can make the invisible, visible. That the jewels that connect one strand to another and reflect one another are just that – jewels to be seen, acknowledged, appreciated and valued.  
 
“I wish Pooh were here. It’s so much more friendly with two.”
  Piglet (A.A. Milne)

Seeing the diamond through the dust

What our planet seems to be crying out for are conscious, healthy interactions and relationships between and among folks – folks we know and folks we don’t. The easiest way to begin to remove the dust and see the jewels is simply by recognizing another as, well, another human being, someone who in their own right is a jewel at the crossroads of other strands, reflecting other jewels. 

How I choose to react or respond to another will affect how that other responds or reacts to others. My glance, my words and my actions (verbal and non-verbal) can have a positive or negative effect on that other, and their glance, words and actions will affect others – the web is infinite and real. We will make a difference – a good difference or a not-so-good difference. But, in all likelihood, we will make a difference that ripples out to others as a ripple moves across a pond.

The idea is not to create an ego-driven difference, but a soul difference – making an invisible person, visible, seeing the diamond through the dust with a loving or mindful glance, word, or kindness, as opposed to an unconscious, dismissive or robotic “I hardly notice you” role-playing-type reactivity. Just a quarter-carat energetic response is all it takes. It’s mutually energizing on a soul level. 

Every diamond is unique

“It’s surprising how many persons go through life without ever recognizing that their feelings toward other people are largely determined by their feelings toward themselves, and if you’re not comfortable within yourself, you can’t be comfortable with others.” – Sydney J. Harris 

Every jewel in the Net possesses a uniqueness. When our “eyepiece” is jiggled or jostled by the speed of life, or a bruised psyche, we cannot see clearly and are more apt to dismiss, reject or judge another diamond as a simple, worthless stone. Here, we need to not only obtain a new eyepiece, but turn it on our self to examine perhaps a flaw or two within our own diamond -something we have denied, repressed or not accepted about our jewel. When we discover what it is, work with it and polish it, then others’ brightness will be readily available for our viewing pleasure.

The practical application of Indra’s Net is that the diamond within us chooses to see the diamond in another. The beauty of Indra’s Net, and real networking – is just that –  the beauty that arises naturally when connection is based on acknowledging and appreciating the uniqueness and value of another – just because they are. 

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • Do you ever observe and reflect on your own observations of others? What do these observations reveal about yourself?  How so?
  • When you choose to see someone as being different from you, what might it be about your own unconscious that you are discovering? 
  • Do you experience discomfort around others who are “not like me?” Do you tend to be more inclusive or exclusive in your orientation to others?  What’s underneath your discomfort or exclusiveness? Do you know why?
  • What are your earliest memories of being inclusive or exclusive?
  • Do you know the name of the person who cleans your office, the wait-person you see every day in your local coffee shop, the elevator operator, your refuse collector, your mail carrier (you get the picture)? 
  • Have you ever caught yourself being too busy to acknowledge or show appreciation to another? 
  • How do you feel when another person does not give you the attention you’d like (or think you deserve)? 
  • Can you think of times when a good/bad experience with someone influenced your behavior in subsequent interactions with others? What was that like? 
  • Can you envision a world where an Indra’s Net orientation to people actually exists “down here?” 

“The whole idea of compassion is based on a keen awareness of the interdependence of all these living beings, which are all part of one another, and all involved in one another.” –  Thomas Merton

—————————————————–
(c) 2022, 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

Poison Control

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In the Buddhist tradition, the cause of human suffering is threefold: greed, hatred, and delusion – called the “three poisons.” These three “poisons” are deeply ingrained, programmed, in our being, our personality and leak out, spilling toxicity, as we live our lives – at work, at home, at play and in relationship. How so?

“There is no calamity greater than lavish desire. There is no greater guilt than discontentment. And there is no greater disaster than greed.” – Lao-Tzu

We manifest greed as selfishness, attachments, and trying to glom on to happiness outside ourselves. Greed is an insatiable craving for objects we feel will bring us unbridled happiness – a happiness we believe will fill us up, make us feel whole and complete. Under the spell of greed, we, like Sisyphus, continually struggle to obtain the unattainable – always fleeting, always ephemeral. There is no lasting happiness. So, it’s always on to the next thing, and the next and the next. Greed also manifests as a lack of compassion for others. Greed is a poison that affects our personal and professional lives, a poison that leads to an endless cycle of suffering and unhappiness – mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually and psychologically. 

“Holding anger is a poison. It eats you from the inside. We think that hating is a weapon that attacks the person who harmed us. But hatred is a curved blade. And the harm we do, we do to ourselves.” – Mitch Albom (The Five People You Meet in Heaven)

Hatred is manifested by our anger, hostility, resentment and aversion to people, events and circumstances which we feel cause us discomfort and unpleasantness. We even hate our own self, our own feelings. When we hate, we consciously and unconsciously emit an energy of ill-will, jealousy and revenge. When we hate, we seem to constantly be in some degree of discontent, distress or conflict – at work, at home, at play and in relationship – we seem to always be fighting “an enemy” – both external and internal. We feel agitated, vigilant, and vengeful. Too, we always seem to be in conflict with our self – rejecting who we are, how we feel. 

“There are men who would quickly love each other if once they were to speak to each other; for when they spoke they would discover that their souls had only separated by phantoms and delusions.” – Ernest Hello 

Delusion points to our misperception, misconception and misunderstanding of reality, how the world works, and how natural law works. Delusional, we lack harmony within ourselves, with others or with life itself. We lack an understanding of the interconnectedness of all beings, of all of life. The poison of delusion forces us to look for satisfaction, happiness and solutions “out there.” The result, of course, is even greater unhappiness, frustration and dissatisfaction – a vicious cycle.   

The Antidote 

These three poisons – greed, hatred and delusion – have a single cause, and that is our separation from our True, Real and Authentic Self – the Self of loving kindness and compassion.  

The antidote is twofold: (1)understanding and clarity as to how and why these poisons cause us suffering and unhappiness and (2) making the choice to reduce and eliminate these poisons from our lives. 

As in all change, when we become more self-aware, clear, about the causes of our unhappiness and dissatisfaction, we can then take the steps towards change, empowerment and freedom. As with all change, we need to be loving, kind and compassionate towards ourselves through the slowly-unfolding change process. 

So, the antidote begins with the source of the three poisons – our mind – our ego personality. When we learn to still the mind, explore our self more deeply, and become “mindful,” we move to the source of the poisons. At the source, we can discover how these poisons are influencing us – our thoughts, feelings, emotions, speech and actions. The practice is mindful awareness.

We practice mindful awareness through deep breathing, meditation, journaling, self-reflection, the martial arts, painting, dancing, writing, walking quietly in nature and the like (e.g, right-brain, or “no-brain,” activities). 

In a state of mindful awareness, we watch, observe and witness sour feelings, emotions and thoughts – watching, not engaging, not reacting, not judging. Mindful awareness supports our being present – in our everyday interactions – noticing what triggers us, what pushes our buttons, what disturbs us. Watching and observing, not reacting, not allowing greed, hatred or delusions to get in the way. 

Mindful awareness supports us to treat each poison with its antidote, for example: 

Greed – generosity, charity, sharing, humility, detachment, contentment and cooperation 

Hatred – patience, forgiveness, loving-kindness, inclusivity, and openness towards others and our self 

Delusion – wisdom, insight, intuition, right understanding, harmony with an interdependent and interconnected world 

The antidote – mindful awareness – supports us to become liberated from the poisons, from our habitual, programmed ways of be-ing, thinking, and do-ing – from our unhappiness and suffering. 

Poisons are serious stuff – they are dangerous and cause harm and sickness – mental, physical, emotional, spiritual and psychological. 

Poisons cause us to act in self-limiting, self-sabotaging and self-defeating ways in which we make unhealthy choices and decisions. Poisons cause us to act unethically, immorally and dishonestly. 

By working with the antidotes, we can change; we can transform. And it’s this change and transformation that eventually leads to True and Real Happiness – eliminating the fake and phony appearance of happiness that we’ve been relentlessly pursuing – oddly enough, a fake and phony happiness that has been, poisoning us, making us sicker and sicker. 

Some questions for self-reflection: 

Do you think you’ve been poisoned? If so, when, how and by whom?

Do any of the three poisons drive your everyday moral and ethical actions – at work, at home, at play or in relationship? How so?

How do you know when you are free of the three poisons, when greed, hatred and delusion no longer exist in your life?

How do you experience what’s good in your life?

How do you generally feel when you wake up in the morning, go to bed at night? Why?

Do you experience extreme highs and extreme lows in your life?

What role do patience, kindness and grace play in your life – at work, at home, at play and in relationship? Do they play any role at all?

What frustrates you, makes you angry, sad, or glad? How so?

Do you have a spiritual life or practice?

Can you envision a world where greed, hatred and delusion don’t exist?

Have you ever experienced true and real happiness? How do you know?

What were your experiences of greed, hatred and delusion as you were growing up? Did you experience any of the three delusions in and around your family? How so? If so, what was that like?

—————————————————–
(c) 2022, 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