Collusion, Culture and Bad Management

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In my understanding of human behavior, there are only two reasons (but lots of excuses) why managers behave unethically or inappropriately. Either they are unable to behave ethically or appropriately, or they are unwilling to do so.

The antidote for number one?
Provide requisite, specific knowledge and hands-on experiential training. Then follow-up in both the short- and long-term to check that the message has gotten through and that appropriate behavior is now “business as usual” – and if it isn’t, ensure there are consequences for bad behavior..

The antidote for number two?
Well, that’s a bit more complicated. When someone has the requisite knowledge and skills but still decides to ignore them, what’s going on?

One possibility is the individual has chosen to behave otherwise because they fear that behaving ethically or appropriately will result in some personal loss – be it loss of friendships, loss or prestige, loss of a bonus, loss of control, loss of recognition or loss of security (mental, physical, emotional or psychological).

It’s not unusual for a manager to behave unethically or inappropriately of their own accord when driven, consciously or unconsciously, by these sorts of fears.

Another possibility is that a manager may choose to behave unethically or inappropriately because there is a tacit “unwritten rule” that such behavior is acceptable. This tacit agreement is known as collusion and often exists where there is a culture or subculture of collusion.

Collusion takes hold when two (or more) individuals co-opt their values and ethics to support their own – and/or others’  mis-deeds. Allowing another’s collusion, by omission or commission, is a mis-deed! Think enabler.

When colluding or enabling collusion, we allow ourselves and others to engage in unethical or inappropriate (not to mention potentially self-destructive) behaviors in order to gain acceptance, approval, recognition or security and to feel emotionally and psychologically safe.

Collusion is saying (but not out loud), “I’m going to let you behave the way you want or need to, so I can feel good about our relationship even though I know my behavior and your behavior are unethical, inappropriate, self-destructive, and out of integrity.”

Collusion is behavior we commonly associate with “fraud.” Workplace collusion is fraudulent as one is living a lie and supporting another to live his or her lie. Colluding is “fraud” on a deeper level as it relates to who we are and how we conduct our relationships with others. Think integrity.

What Does Collusion Look Like?
In the everyday working world, there are various flavors of collusion. General expressions or behaviors that reflect collusion are: “giving to get,” “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours,” “going along to get along” and “one hand washing the other.”

We collude when we support and pledge allegiance to an unethical or incompetent leader, manager, supervisor, direct report or co-worker so we both can feel emotionally safe with each other. If I collude, the other(s) will appreciate my support and feel seen and I’ll experience his/her appreciation, which allows me to feel seen and accepted or be “OK” in some way in this unethical and inappropriate (dysfunctional or co-dependent) relationship.

We collude when we share insider information with only a select few so we’ll be viewed as caring about them and they will feel they’re special. When we collude with them, we feel in control, and secure; they feel acknowledged that we chose them. We are being duplicitous, self-deceptive and inappropriate in our actions of giving and receiving. Think narcissist or hypocrite.

We collude when we verbally gang up on a third party through bullying, sarcasm, or gossiping, experiencing a false sense of connection and camaraderie with our co-colluder at the expense of the third party.

We collude when we withhold honest and forthright comments about inappropriate behavior in a feedback session for fear of alienating another whose work we respect. By resisting the truth, and perpetuating another’s false belief that their behavior is acceptable, we “play the game” of mutual respect while perpetuating our phony relationship of mutual “like.”

Why Do We Collude?
Collusion is about lying to protect our oft-fragile egos instead of showing up in integrity. The curiosity is why we collude.

We all experience a degree of deficiency – some more, some less. We all sense we are not “enough” or are lacking in some way. It’s the human condition. However, we have two options in dealing with our sense of lack or deficiency:

1. We can choose to “work” on our colluding to understand it and our underlying motives for colluding, and take conscious steps to effectively reduce and eliminate it so we can show up authentically, in integrity, sincerely and self-responsibly. Or,

2. We can deceive ourselves and ignore, deny, and resist telling the truth, hoping to keep our relationship with our self and with others emotionally intact. We ignore “the elephants in the room,” wearing blinders to what needs to be done, said, heard, felt and seen – hoping that denial will “keep the emotional peace” and perpetuate the co-dependent or dysfunctional relationship.

The Basic Problem with Collusion
Collusion is a progressive drug. We need to lie and collude more and more to maintain the false feeling of emotional safety. When we collude, we are ever “vigilant,” fearful with whether we will be “found out.” We are constantly worried and concerned whether our co-colluder(s) will have a “conversion,” fearing we’ll be “outed.”

So colluding is exhausting, requiring an inordinate amount of physical, emotional and psychic energy, continually shoring up relationships that have no true foundation built on trust or truth.

The Antidote for Collusion
Colluding is corrosive to one’s head, heart and soul. The antidote is twofold: to seek understanding of the reasons (excuses) why we refuse to tell our self and others the truth, and then set our intention to tell the truth when often we would rather resist.

Truth-telling requires empathy, compassion, acceptance and courage. Behaving appropriately is freeing – emotionally, physically, spiritually and psychologically. Behaving ethically and appropriately allows us to show up authentically, honestly and in integrity. Behaving ethically and appropriately is the only way to experience true and real relationships with others.

From a workplace research perspective, meaning, happiness, and true friendship most often appear as the top responses to the research question, “What’s really important to you at work?”

University of Virginia, Darden School of Business professor Mary C. Gentile, in “Giving Voice to Values: How to Speak Your Mind When You Know What’s Right,” says: “One of the most powerful lenses through which to view values in the workplace – and one of the most powerful sources of the strength and confidence to act on those values – is the lens of self knowledge. A knowledge of oneself allows the crafting and embracing of a desired self-image. Managers at all levels in their firms report that a significant enabler of values-based action is the clarity, commitment and courage that is born of acting from our true center, finding alignment between who we already are and what we say and do.”

Think internal coherence and integrity. Most folks say they want to experience “meaning” in their work, to behave appropriately and ethically, and align their life at work in the direction of “True North.” Yet, many of these same folks find themselves conflicted every day – their values, ideals and expectations up against those of the organization.

Simple, but not easy – you can’t collude and expect to find real meaning, real happiness and real relationships at work. Thinking you can is the epitome of collusion and self-deception.

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • What keeps you from telling the truth at work? Are you afraid to tell the truth? How so?
  • Do you collude? If so, in what ways? What does colluding get you?
  • Do you find yourself lying and being phony to maintain specific relationships?
  • Do others collude with you, not tell you what they think you need to hear, for fear of how you might react?
  • How do you feel in the moment when you know you’re colluding?
  • What’s “right” about colluding? What does colluding get you? Is there another way to get that result without colluding?
  • When and how were you first introduced to the notion of colluding? How old were you? What was going on? How did you feel about that experience?

—————————————————–
(c) 2021, 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

Listening to fix

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How often do you fall into self-doubt, or into a place where you’re doubting others?

When someone relates to you an issue that’s challenging them, or problem they’re facing, how do you respond? Do you respond in a knee-jerk fashion that communicates, “The way forward lies in my advice?”.

When someone is experiencing painful feelings, how do you react? Do you robotically assume that the person will never be able to deal with their feelings successfully by themself? Do you assume that it’s not OK for this person to feel what they’re feeling?

When a person takes responsibility for forwarding the action of their life, what is your response? Do you ever feel that they’re not capable of taking responsibility, or moving forward? In other words, do you assume that it’s your responsibility to “save” that person, to keep them from failing?

And, with respect to yourself, how do you react when you encounter a problem, a challenge, a feeling or the thought that you need to assume responsibility for yourself?

Believing in self and others

The question here is, do I believe in myself and others? Do I allow others to have their power, capabilities, and capacities? Or, rather, do I give power and energy to the problem, the feeling or the irresponsibility?

It’s important for us to be aware, to be conscious and to be alert about how we respond both to ourselves and others. It’s important that we check ourselves out and learn to think before we respond. For example, “I’m sorry you’re experiencing (what you’re experiencing – the problem, the feeling…). I know you can find a solution that will serve you. It sounds like you’re experiencing some deep feelings. I believe you can work through them.”

Each of us is responsible for our own self. This does not mean that we ignore or dismiss others. It does not mean that we don’t care about others. What it does mean is that we care and love others, and support others and ourselves in ways that work.

Listening to fix

One behavior many of us are guilty of occurs when we hear of another’s challenge and we morph into a “listening to fix” syndrome. When this syndrome is activated, we might respond to another’s comment by saying, “Why don’t you (follow my suggestion, take my advice and the like)?” i.e., the need to prescribe to, or “fix” someone.

To believe in others, in their abilities and capacities to think, feel, and find solutions and take care of themselves is a gift we can give and receive.

The antidote – awareness

A first step toward becoming free of our “listening to fix” filter is to become aware of it. Many of us have a flavor of this “need to fix” listening filter. It may also be that we engage in this listening filter with certain people or in certain situations. For example, you might “listen to fix” with your spouse or partner, co-workers, direct reports, parents, friends, or neighbors, etc.

The moment you become aware that you’re listening through a filter during a conversation, your awareness expands beyond the filter. It’s like consciously removing the filter that covers your ears. You can then “hear” what other people are actually saying. As you “hear” what other people are saying, you can better relate to their experience and engage with another on a higher level of true and real connectivity. At work, for example, you might even “hear” another as a “person” rather than a “function.”

As your awareness expands beyond your “listening to fix” filter, you can also make new communication choices. For example, you might respond to “I’m feeling upset right now.” with, “I hear that you’re feeling upset. How are you experiencing that right now?” or “What’s that like for you?” or “Can you say more about that?” These kinds of filter-free communications can meet the other person’s experience and open the door for the conversation to evolve in new ways, rather than as a “fixer.”

So, be gentle with yourself and give yourself plenty of time to discover and work with this listening filter. Make it a game to notice this filter, love and appreciate yourself for having it and explore the ways you can shift out of it. If you’re like me, when you do this, you may experience true and real “hearing” for the first time.

Consider the following “fixing” filters and be curious if you use one or more of them in your conversations: (when/if you do, there is no way you can be truly and sincerely “present” with the other person):
“advising”: “I think you should…” “How come you didn’t?”
“educating”: “This could work out very well for you if you…”
“shutting down”: “Don’t worry about it; cheer up!”
“interrogating”: “Well, why did you…”
“explaining”: “What I would have done is…” (also “hijacking”)

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • Would your closest friends say you’re a good listener? How so?
  • Can you think of a recent conversation where your “listening to fix” filter was engaged? What was that like?
  • Do you know someone who listens to you without attempting to fix you? What is that like?
  • Can you remember some of your earliest childhood experiences with either wanting to fix someone or someone wanting to fix you? 
  • Did your parents or primary caregivers listen to you with a “listening to fix” filters How so?

—————————————————–
(c) 2021, 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

Between you and me…

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“An avoidance of true communication is tantamount to a relinquishment of my self-being; if I withdraw from it I am betraying not only the other but myself.”Karl Jaspers

I don’t get many cold calls these days. Today, I did. Two, in fact – about five minutes apart. What struck me, as do most of these calls, is the perfunctory, scripted, energetically flat, “How are you today?” immediately after the caller states their name and company.

Kiss of death

In my mind, those four words are the kiss of death. Why? The energy of, and between, the words usually communicates, to me (1) the question is really not about me, and (2) the caller is basically feigning interest and (probably) unconsciously jumping through a requisite hoop to get to the pitch, and, hopefully, to a sale. It’s all about them; not really about me. So, after a quick, albeit polite, “No, thanks.”I hang up.

So, let’s take a look at this dynamic from the perspective of how we meet and greet others at work, at home, at play and in relationship.

Do you care? Really care?

If you look back on your day today, or the past few days, or week, can you recall moments where you asked someone “How are things going?” or “What’s goin’ on?” or “How are you today?” Do you recall their response? And, more, can you recall actually stopping and listening, really listening to their response? Did you probe more deeply when someone responded with more than an “OK”? Were you actually interested? Did you feign interest? Were you respectful? Were you sorry you asked?

In our fast-paced interactive world, many of us have a tendency (often unconscious) to actually “diss” the person to whom we’re speaking – even while asking how they are. Unconsciously, we assume that our perfunctory “What’s up?” or “How’s it goin’?” falsely allows us to check off the “I acknowledged him/her” box on my “how to have positive relationships” check-sheet. For many of us, it’s actually an unconscious, knee-jerk question we ask and, truth be told, we could care less about how they are. I’m sure more than a few of us, when we’re greeted this way, have an internal response of “yeah, like they really care!”

Intersubjectivity

Between two people, or you and a team, or you and a group, even between you and your partner/spouse there’s space – physical space. Here, we’ll focus on the space between two individuals. This space between the two is not empty space. Actually, it’s filled with energy. What kind of energy? An energy which, on a continuum, ranges from warm to cold, soft to hard, relaxed to tense, strong to weak, love to fear, etc. Get it?

The energy reflects the psycho-emotional “temperature”” of the two who are interacting – your thoughts (conscious and unconscious), and your moods and emotions (conscious and unconscious) in that moment. This energetic phenomenon is called intersubjectivity and it’s what occurs when two souls meet. It’s about how you’re psycho/emotional state – often based on what you’re thinking (again, consciously or consciously).

The experience of intersubjectivity is what allows your own “internal landscape” and that of the other to come to the fore, consciously. Intersubjectivity reflects the degree to which you allow yourself to open up so the other has a deeper sense and experience of you in the moment.

Intersubjectivity is a “conscious” and intentional experience. The experience of intersubjectivity allows you, in real-time, to be curious about who you are, who you’re taking yourself to be in the interaction, and how you experience yourself and the other person – emotionally, physically, energetically, spiritually and psychologically – from a perspective of “Who am I?” right here and right now in this smoment. We’re not talking about role, position and the like, but of a deeper sense of “who I am.” All with curiosity – not judgment or criticism of self or other.

Intersubjectivity questions

What am I feeling like (perhaps using a metaphor)?
What does the space in which I/we’re immersed feel like?
What’s my experience of “ease of be-ing” during this interaction?
How old do I feel?
What’s my heart center feel like (not the physical heart, but your spiritual heart center area in the middle of your chest)?
What quality does the ground have?
Am I “in my head” or somewhere else in my body?
How connected to the other do I feel?
What physiological sensations am I experiencing in my body?
What stories about this experience am I telling myself?
How grounded (vs. “spacy”) do I feel?
Do I have a lot of ego/mental activity going on?
Am I trusting myself/the other right now?
What’s my breathing like, heart rate?
Am I sharing my truth?
Do I feel I’m being influenced by the other?
Am I feeling authentic? Safe?
Do I feel I want to be in this interaction?
Am I needing to be/feel accepted?
Do I feel supported by my Higher Self?

Why is intersubjectivity useful?

Intersubjectivity is one way to see yourself as a barometer that points to how you “show up” in relationship, to assess the degree of your authenticity, to look at the quality of your interactions – feelings, emotions, physiological sensations – and give you a sense of the quality of that “space” between you and the other.

Focusing on the quality of the space between you can and will – if you’re intentional and sincere – help you know yourself, who you are, during interactions. It’s as if the “content” is irrelevant; the “context” is everything.

What awareness of intersubjectivity does is support you to be “conscious” of your interactions. When you’re more  conscious, you become aware of how your, heretofore, “unconscious” interactions, (e.g., walking into a room, office, kitchen, family room, restaurant, store, classroom, meeting room, etc. and uttering a quick “how’s it goin?” and making believe you care) will become less and less a part of your robotic “relationship repertoire.” It allows for “personal-ness” – a quality sorely missing from many of our daily interactions – at work, at home, at play and in relationship. And, from this place, you can be curious about how you’re meeting and greeting others, and why. 

So, if you don’t mean it, or don’t care, then don’t ask.

But, also, don’t deceive yourself that you’re “good at relationships.”

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

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • Think about some folks with whom you interact regularly at work, at home, at play and in relationship. As you reflect, how would you describe the “space” between the two of you generally? What do you see about how you show up in these interactions, as a result of this reflection? How so?
  • Do you, consciously or unconsciously, distance yourself from others (through avoidance, being antagonistic, etc.)? What stories do you tell yourself to make this happen? Do you often feel “separate” when in dialogue with others? How so?
  • When you’re in dialogue with someone about whom you can’t, or won’t, see their good, or beauty or truth, how can you “warm” the space between the two of you and allow their truth?
  • All things being equal, if someone attempts to create a “safe space” between them and you (i.e., being open, honest, authentic, disclosing emotions, feelings, etc.), how does that make you feel? How so?
  • Did you experience the quality of intersubjectivity among your family members as you were growing up? What about now? How so?

—————————————————–
(c) 2021, Peter G. Vajda, Ph.D. and True North Partnering. All rights in all media reserved.

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

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

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

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


You can also follow me on Twitter: @petergvajda. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TrueNorthPartnering

Valentine’s Day – Not Just Candy and Flowers

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

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

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

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

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

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • Do you see your relationship as a “problem to be solved,” or as an adventure to embrace together? What would your partner day?
  • Do you see conflict in your relationship as a friend and opportunity for growth and connection, or as a pain in the butt? Would you partner agree?
  • Does your partner support your becoming “whole,” or as someone who keeps you from being all that you can be…on every level? How so?
  • Are you willing to cross the bridge to “meet” your partner, or are you only waiting for your partner to come to your side?
  • Do you recognize that your partner’s bewildering behavior is a cry for your help, or do you see his or her behavior as an irritant that only results in your resistance or resentment?
  • Do you recognize that every frustration is a gift for your relationship? (i.e., Why is this frustration happening FOR me(us) – not TO me(us))? What is frustration teaching you, about you?
  • Do you and your partner honestly, sincerely and openly dream your dreams together? How so?
  • Can you and your partner gently and lovingly hold one another’s hand, or do you need to grasp on tightly and chain your partner’s soul to your way of be-ing and do-ing? Either way, what is that like?
  • How do you view love? Does love allow you to stand tall and upright or does love mean “leaning” on the other? Does a thread of co-dependency run through your relationship?
  • Do you accept your defeats and defects with your head up and your eyes ahead with the grace of a woman or a man, or with the grief, resentment or begrudging of a child?
  • So, on this Valentine’s Day, can you plant your own garden without waiting for someone to bring you the flowers?
  • On this Valentine’s Day, can you experience your own sweetness without waiting for someone to bring you the candy?
  • On this Valentine’s Day, how are you in relationship with your own heart? Can you look in the mirror at your own reflection and say: “I love you with all my heart; I am complete?” or do you “need someone else” to complete you?
  • Do cards, candy, and flowers create your sense of well-being, or can they simply be the icing on the cake of a full, and complete heart, your own full and complete heart?
  • On this Valentine’s Day, are you in a true and real relationship or in acquaintanceship, in a “roommate” situation, or two ships passing in the night? How do you know?

—————————————————–
(c) 2021, 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

Reality vs reality

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“I have heard of your paintings too, well enough; God has given you one face, and you make yourselves another.” – William Shakespeare

If you put 200 people – diverse in as many ways as possible – in a theatre and then project the world going by in real time, no doubt these 200 folks will have 200 different opinions, reactions, observations, judgments, or takes on what they’re viewing.

Reality vs. reality

As these folks sit and watch, what’s informing their interpretation, their perception, is their internal map of reality. While “Reality” (capital R) is what’s passing by on the screen, most everyone is seeing that reality from their own “inner” reality – their beliefs, assumptions, perceptions, misperceptions, premises, “stories” they’ve created, paradigms, that is, their history, memory and experience, describe what they’re viewing. No two people are “hardwired” the same; thus, their views about life and living are products of their respective life experiences, beginning at birth.

So, then, what is “real” reality and what is the reality we create in our immediate experience? The answer to this question can help us understand why we experience so much conflict in dealing not only with ourselves but with one another – at work, at home, at play and in relationship. 

Koan

In Zen and Buddhism, a “koan” is a challenging question or statement that prompts one to engage in reflection – the intention is to lead one to a higher state of understanding or awareness. There is a Zen koan that says: “Show me your original face before you were born.”

This koan asks us to stretch – in a way that allows us to access our True, Real and Authentic Self – the self we are/were before being born. In this process, we transcend our “database” of thoughts, concepts, beliefs, etc., and move to a place of no-mind – where we experience Reality as it truly is, experience our self as we truly are. Our true face before we were born is actually who we were (and still are!) before we were shaped and crafted by our “life experience.”

“No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be true.” – Nathaniel Hawthorne

The koan is not meant to cause a reactive: “How can I have a face, or exist, before I was born?” It is a question of “Who am I without my set of beliefs, or my image of myself or an identity that I’ve adopted for myself?”

Reflecting on the koan can help us see how attached we are to “my reality,” – my beliefs, assumptions, theories, perceptions, perspectives, etc. Deep reflection can also support us to flow in a space of no-mind, an “original space” of mental quietude, unencumbered by our thoughts and thought patterns – our history, memory or experiences. 

Letting go

The point is that when we become more natural and internally quiet, and we are able to let go, we can better interact with others, not as a robotic, human collection of beliefs, opinions, or assumptions, etc., but as one who is open, curious, and accepting in the way we experience our world.

“False face must hide what the false heart doth know.” – William Shakespeare

We sort of “re-birth” ourselves each time we draw a conclusion about “who I am.” Each time we make a decision/judgment about our self – “I’m not good in social situations with others,” I’m a great leader,” “I have problems with difficult people,” I’m not very smart,” – we create our identity, our “subjective face and move farther away from our “original face.”

But, each of us has an “original face” – the face of who we were before we identified with anything or anyone. And, the good news is we can return to our original face, the place of inner peace and well-be-ing, if we learn to let go of our “false face.”  Our “original face” is not only devoid of the superficial, surface elements of make-up, but the “false face” of beliefs and assumptions about who we think we are, most often, beliefs that really don’t serve us and cause us pain and suffering.

Don’t take it personally

When we don’t take the people, events and circumstances of our world personally, we can move into a place of deep relaxation and peace – our “original face.” Here, we can watch the projection of the world go by right in front of us – at work, at home, at play and in relationship – without the need to become reactive. Rather, our experience is one without tension, pretension, fakeness, or phoniness – none of the “shoulds” telling us how to be or what to do.

“Don’t laugh at a youth for his affectations; he is only trying on one face after another to find his own.” – Logan Pearsall Smith

Surviving

So, what takes us away from our “original face?” In a word, survival. First, as young children our survival – physical, emotional, mental, psychological, spiritual – depended on our unconsciously taking on others’ beliefs as to how we should behave. If we behaved accordingly, we “survived.” If not, we lost out on love, recognition, approval and for some, safety and security. As we developed, we took on more and more beliefs, assumptions and ways of do-ing and be-ing that we felt would help us “survive” – at work, at home, at play and in relationship.

Now, as adults, we no longer have access to our “original face.” We wear masks, and have various personas we take off and put on daily so we can “survive.” Having lost our “original face,” we’ve become unconsciously controlled by our ego mind as reflected by our inability to just let the world pass by as we sit in that theatre. Rather, we have an unconscious need to react, judge, compare, contrast, offer opinions, and be “right.”  We put our best face forward, to survive. We hold on to all our faces so we have them just in case.

“Solitude: sweet absence of faces.” – Milan Kundera 
When we let go of our false faces, of our need to “survive,” and habitual and patterned ways of thinking, do-ing and be-ing, and allow ourselves to sink into and penetrate deeply into our core Self, we set ourselves free -free to allow our “original face” – free from self-limiting, self-defeating, and self-sabotaging thoughts, beliefs, “stories” and identifications. In this place we can sit in the theatre of life and experience the world – at work, at home, at play and in relationship – without needing to take it “personally.”

Our “original face” is what supports us to see the freshness of life, in every moment, free of conflict and the need to be judgmental, confrontational, combative or controlling.

Some questions for self-reflection are:

  • When was the last time you experienced your “original face?” How so?
  • Aside from physical elements such as make-up, surgery, or hair coloring, etc., what mental, emotional or attitudinal elements obscure your original face?
  • Do you tend to take people, events or circumstances “personally?” If so, how so and why? 
  • Do you recall behaving in ways you didn’t want, as a child, to get your parents’ or primary caregivers’ attention, love, acceptance or approval? Do you behave in those ways now to get others’ acceptance and approval?
  •  If you were sitting in that theatre, would you be able to simply watch, witness and observe without feeling the need to judge, critique or inject your $.02? Be honest. How about in your everyday world?
  • In addition to your closet of clothes, do you have a closet of faces and personas you take out and put on for different events, circumstances and people? Why is that?
  • Would folks describe you as authentic? How do you know? Would you ask them? If not, why not?
  • What was being authentic like for you when you were growing up? Were you able to have your “original face?” Were you encouraged to have your “original face?”
  • Can you envision a world where everyone wore their “original face?”

“There are people who think that everything one does with a serious face is sensible.” – Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

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(c) 2021, 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 stops us from self-actualizing?

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Just launched – three exciting new products

Those familiar with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs know that self-actualization – be all you can be – is the highest level human need. The needs in order from lowest to highest are: BASIC – physiological (i.e., health, food,  sleep, sex, water, etc., and security (of the body, of employment, of resources, of morality, of property, insurance,  etc. If basic needs are not met, there can be no movement towards self-actualization. Over and above the basic needs are the SOCIAL and PSYCHOLOGICAL needs: belonging (i.e., love, affection, friendship, family, sexual intimacy, etc.), esteem (i.e., self-esteem, esteem from others, personal worth, social recognition, confidence, achievement, etc.) and self-actualization (i.e., morality, creativity, spontaneity, problem solving, lack of prejudice, acceptance of facts, etc.)

The Basics come first

According to Maslow’s theory, if you want be on the path of true self-actualization, you need to take care of your BASIC needs first. That is, if you’re hungry, you need to get food. If you feel unsafe, you constantly have to be vigilant and on guard. This is where you spend the plurality of your time and energy.

Truth be told, only about two percent of the population is actually, proactively, consciously self-actualizing, according to Maslow.

So, the question now becomes, what is it that is preventing me from being all I can be, from self-actualizing?

Here’s an exercise

Draw a stick figure of yourself. Then draw four straight lines, horizontally, each about two-to-three inches long, extending out from the center of the body, each one about an inch and a half away from the other lines (you’re going to write on these lines, so leave room above and below each line).

On each of the four lines, write one of Maslow’s needs: physiological, security, belonging, and esteem (don’t use self-actualization here).

Look above, in the first paragraph, at what constitutes each of these needs. Take some time and reflect on how much of your total available time and energy  (i.e., physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual, social, financial, etc. as a totality) you expend on fulfilling each of the four needs and write that percentage at the right of each line.

For example,

Lillian is experiencing low self-esteem issues, so she is spending a majority of her time engaged in social networking and the like which makes her feel “like somebody” and wanted. She writes 40% at the end of the “esteem” need. Her physiological needs are fairly well met so she writes 5% at the end of the “physiological” line. She has concerns about her job, so she writes 30% at the end of the “security” line. Belonging is an issue as she and her partner are having intimacy challenges (different from the “sex” element in the physiological need area), so she writes 25% at the end of the “belonging” line. Total energy expenditure – 100%. We’ll return to this in a moment.

Wilson is experiencing the aftereffects of a terrible tornado. There’s huge damage to his home and automobile. Although his insurance will cover the material damage, he’s devastated emotionally over the loss of family heirlooms that are irreplaceable but more stressed about the rebuilding of his home and how it will compare with his neighbors.

He writes 30% on the “security” line. In addition, he feels he’s being “shut out” by his friends at the local golf club. He feels he “doesn’t belong” and he’s not sure why. He spends a fair amount of time obsessing about this so he writes 25% on the “belonging” line. Wilson feels that if he’s not “socially networking” every free moment he’ll fall out of the loop and lag behind others who know “what’s the latest.” So, Wilson writes 20% on the esteem line as he’s feeling lacking, deficient and being “left out.” Finally, he feels he’s not living up to his parents’ expectations, so he writes 25% on the belonging line.  Total energy expenditure – 147%. We’ll return to this in a moment as well.

Get the picture? Now do this exercise for your self – be honest and sincere with your exploration and your scoring. Tell the truth. And, not everyone’s expenditure will add up to 100%; some might even go beyond 100% and that’s OK.

Qualities of self-actualization.  

According to Maslow, self-actualizers exhibited a number of qualities:

They are reality-centered – they know the difference between what is fake and what is real; what is honest from what is dishonest.
They are problem-oriented – they see life as solution, not problem, oriented; they are not victims.
They don’t necessarily have an “end” in sight;’ they see the journey as, if not more, important than the end.
They enjoy solitude; they are comfortable in their own skins; they enjoy fewer close personal friends than shallow relationships with a host of acquaintances.
They enjoy being autonomous – being free from or independent from physical and social needs.  They consciously resist social pressure to “fit in.”
They have a healthy sense of humor – not engaging in sarcasm, put-down humor or humor at the expense of others.
They accept others just as they are. They don’t try to change others, or themselves if they have a quirk or other non-harmful quality.
They are spontaneous and simple – eschewing pretension or artificiality.
They have a sense of humility and respect towards others, all others and a strong sense of ethics.
They have a sense of wonder and appreciation, are creative and have more peak experiences (being one with life and/or God) than most.
They transcend common dualities or dichotomies: spiritual/physical, selfish/unselfish, masculine/feminine.
They need truth, goodness, beauty, wholeness, aliveness, uniqueness, completion, justice, simplicity, richness, effortlessness, playfulness, self-sufficiency, and meaningfulness in their lives.

So, you ask, everyone wants these qualities, right? Yes, most everyone does. And, here’s the deal.

What gets in the way?

If you are striving, efforting or struggling to satisfy your Basic needs, then movement towards self-actualization will be halted or quite slow. If you’re starving, without financial support or need a roof over your head, you’re not concerned with the qualities of self-actualization, and rightly so.

BUT, if your basic needs are pretty well met, and you’re spending an inordinate amount of time and energy on your social and psychological needs – at the expense of self-actualizing – why? What is it about belonging, friendship, sexual intimacy, self-esteem, esteem from others, self-worth, confidence, achievement, and the like that takes much of your time and energy?

And, you, what did you see with this exercise? Are you on or near the road to self-actualization?

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • Which of your needs are being met and which aren’t? How so?
  • Where do you spend the majority or plurality of your time, effort and energy? Why?
  • Do you often feel stressed and overwhelmed? How so?
  • Do you have time and energy to move towards self-actualization? If not, who or what prevents you from doing so? Is that OK?
  • Do you know folks who exhibit some or many of the self-actualization qualities Maslow describes? What’s it like to be around him, her or them?
  • What did you see about yourself from this exercise?
  • How much time and energy do you devote to social/psychological needs? Why?

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(c) 2021, 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

Insurrection 1-6-21- How We Got Here.

Speaker pageFacebook Page, Becoming a Better You book page

The root cause of the 1-6-21 insurrection at the Capitol in Washington DC was not the November 3rd election. The election may have “triggered” the violence, but the “cause” is seated in the psycho/emotional foundation in those perpetuating the violence, a makeup that was created many years ago in the form of childhood wounding..

—————————————————–
(c) 2021, 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

PEACE

…it does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.

I wish you much peace during the holidays and through 2021

Peter

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

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

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

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

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

You can also follow me on Twitter: @petergvajda.

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

Experiencing Well-Be-ing in 2021 – Facing the Truth about Change and Well-Being

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Just launched – three exciting new products

(Some of the links below are to articles on my website – all of which have been checked for viruses, etc.)
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“The truth that makes men free is for the most part the truth which men prefer not to hear.”
Herbert Agar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Living in a real community supports well-being (But be discerning in how and when you choose to get together given these challenging times)
If you find yourself spending more and more time engaged in online social networks, if you live much of your life communing with friends or family, etc. on Zoom, Facebook, Instagram during these times of self-quarantine, home confinement, etc., there’s a better than average chance you’re real-world social skills may be eroding. You may find yourself turning down more and more invitations to “real” social events or feeling more uncomfortable when you do engage. You may find your social skills when engaging with “real” people are diminishing. You may find yourself “holding up” in your home more and more, venturing outside less and less.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • Who are you (can you describe this without defining yourself by what you “do”)?
  • How do you feel when you define yourself?
  • What do you want?
  • Why do you think you’re on the planet
  • How do you feel when you define what you want?
  • Where are you in your life at work, at home, at play and in relationship and, why are you there?
  • How do you feel when you describe where you are and why you’re there?
  • Who are your allies in life?
  • What are the “truths” about you and your life?
  • How do you feel when you speak the truth of your life?
  • Do you have a spiritual practice?
  • Are you drowning in distractions of one kind or another? How so?
  • Is time your friend or enemy? Why?
  • At which end of the rubber band do you live most of your life? Why?
  • Is your social community more real or virtual?
  • Are you optimistic or pessimistic about your life in 2021? Why?
  • You feel you’re in control of your emotional life? Why or why not?
  • On a scale of 1-10, where are you when it comes to experiencing a real sense of well-be-ing?
  • Can you visualize a world where you are moving effortlessly and consistently toward personal change and transformation?

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

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

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

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

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

You can also follow me on Twitter: @petergvajda.

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