It’s 7:45 am – Do You Know Where Your Character Is?

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Along the main road I used to run in the morning, there is a side street on the right that runs through a winding residential neighborhood. One can take that side street and reach another through-street much more quickly than staying on the original road for another half-mile, and then taking a right to get to the same through-street. Oh, and, by the way there is a sign just before this side street that says, “No right-hand turn between 7:00 and 9:00 am.” You can’t miss the sign.

From time to time, I stop my run, pausing at this intersection and sign just to watch with curiosity. Most recently, I stopped for a 15-minute period (7:40-7:55 am), during which time eleven cars came by – eight made the right turn.

What piques my curiosity is what these folks are thinking, assuming they are, as they make the right turn. I’m sure we all can muse about their reasons, excuses, stories, rationalizations and justifications.

Character
One definition of character is: who you are at 4:00 am in the dark when no one is watching. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “People seem not to see that their opinion of the world is also a confession of their character.” How we are in the world – at work, at home, at play, in relationship – and even while driving – is a reflection of our character, or lack of it. Character is a type of internal guideline, a moral compass that operates 24/7, 365 – a compass that one cannot tinker with to change its bearings or settings. It always points to true north. Always. A flawed character, on the other hand, has been tinkered with, like fooling with the odometer of an automobile, to give it the “appearance” of authenticity.

What muddies character?
In a word – pride, an inordinate sense of self-esteem, which often morphs into hubris, an exaggerated sense of self-confidence. What really happens when we become immersed in a sense of pride or hubris? Separation – separation from our True Self, from our authentic self. And when we separate from our true and authentic self, we abdicate responsibility for accepting responsibility for how we live our life. When we abdicate responsibility for how we live our life, we lose our sense of self-respect. And when we lose our sense of self-respect, it follows we lose respect for life – so rules of right conduct, right living and right relationship don’t matter. In essence, “the rules don’t apply to me.”

The Buddha writes: “…the thought manifests as the word; the word manifests as the deed; the deed develops into habit; and habit hardens into character. So watch the thought and its ways with care, and let it spring from love born out of all concern for all beings…as the shadow follows the body, what we think, so we become.”

When our pride – our ego – is in charge, our “thinking” often becomes warped and self-centered and our character suffers. Over time, as our character suffers, so does our reputation and we become known as one whose orientation to life and work is self-serving, self-centered, egocentric, and uncaring about others, i.e., doing what we need to do to “get by.” It’s all about “ME!” So, from this place, we circumvent the rules, we ignore principles of right living, and right loving, and assume inappropriate, and perhaps even illegal behaviors, with the justification that it’s okay “as long as I don’t get caught.”

The one and the many
So, that’s one person – perhaps me. What happens when this one person, lacking true character, becomes ten, then 100, or more?

The strength of a team, or an organization, is represented by its character, the character of its people (think Enron, AIG, WorldCom). What happens when a team, for example, loses its character? It begins to atrophy, to become dysfunctional, to engage in in-fighting and sabotage. It loses its way. The one and the many suffer. It’s character has become corrupted.

Character is a reflection of moral purpose, or the lack of it, and reflects those classes of things that an individual, or group, or team either chooses or avoids. That is, one’s character is constructed from what one does, or does not do.

Character and values
There are basic principles of effective living – for example, in the way we allow our True and Real self, honor and respect others, think rationally, help others succeed, listen with our heart, collaborate and cooperate, embrace diversity, protect the environment, see the meaning and value of work, treat others with respect, and act in moral alignment with compassion, integrity, justice and fairness – and true character means integrating these principles into how we live our life, even at 4:00 a.m. when no one is watching. Character is determined by how closely we choose to allow our value system to integrate into, and affect, our lives – in every moment.

The foundational building blocks of character are integrity and courage. Once we become dishonest, even when no one is watching, then we lose all sense of character. Then, mistrust, lying, and (self-)deception define who we are. The toothpaste is out of the tube. Once we compromise our values, it is well-nigh impossible to regain or reestablish our reputation, credibility or integrity.

In the end, moral shortcuts, cutting corners, and “turning right at 7:45 am” will always – always – find a way to catch up. The Universe insures there is always payback for inappropriate and indecent behavior.

Blaming and excuse-making – “making the turn at 7:45 am”
“But, I’m late for work.”
“But, I didn’t see the sign.”
“I had a spat with my spouse and was distracted.”
“A friend said it would be OK.”
“I have an important meeting to get to.”

Blaming and deflecting self-responsibility are art forms in our culture. Only now we’re using the adult form of “my dog ate my homework.” Doesn’t wash. Our obsession with blaming and excuse-making is simply an indication of how we’ve become a nation of narcissists, victims and adult-children. Emotionally and spiritually mature adults are self-responsible, make conscious choices, and do the right thing. As Helen Douglas (the politician 1896-1956) said, ” Character isn’t inherited. One builds it daily by the way one thinks and acts, thought by thought, action by action.”

Each of us faces issues and challenges every day – some complex, some simple – at work, at home, at play, in relationship, even on the road. Our character is tested when we make split-second decisions and choices about what to do, and not do, and why.

So, practically, or metaphorically, when you come upon the sign that says, “No right turn between 7:00 and 9:00 am,” and it’s 7:45 am, where is your character?

Some questions for self-reflection are:

  • What matters to you?
  • What blocks you from acting in integrity? How so?
  • What do you most want in life?
  • “Do the right thing” vs. “Do things right” – which drives your everyday actions?
  • Do you believe you have character? What would your colleagues, friends, spouse/partner, and neighbors say?
  • Have you lied, cheated or stolen recently? What was your rationalization or justification? How about running a red light, stop sign or a sign that says “no right turn…?”
  • Do you use a different measuring stick to judge your inappropriate behavior from others’ inappropriate behaviors?
  • Who are you at 4:00 am in the dark when no one can see you?
  • When did you first know you had character?
  • What was “character” like in your family as you were growing up?
  • Can you visualize a world where everyone operates with character?

Character is the foundation stone upon which one must build to win respect. Just as no worthy building can be erected on a weak foundation, so no lasting reputation worthy of respect can be built on a weak character.” – R. C. Samsel

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

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

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

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

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

You can also follow me on Twitter: @petergvajda.

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

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Do You Use Protection?

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No, not that kind.

This kind:

Developmental psychologists say most every child experiences some type of emotional, psychological, or physical wounding, hurt or pain as part of their upbringing – even (especially) that child who says their family was “perfect.” The child’s experiences may include a parent or primary caregiver who was physically or emotionally absent some or much of the time, or overbearing and bullying, or one who was a taskmaster, rarely complimentary, or was “guilting,” shaming, or overly judgmental and critical, or was a betrayer, or physically or sexually abusive.

The degree of wounding can range from unacceptable, but tolerable, to extremely inappropriate and intolerable. Whatever the degree, it was wounding and affected the child’s psyche. As the child moves into adolescence and adulthood, there is a part of their psyche that consistently, yet unconsciously, chants the mantra: Never again!

Protection
As adults, many of us view life – at work, at home, at play and in relationship – from a defensive posture. We view our world as obscured, with a veil of protection over it that shields us from (re) experiencing the wounding, hurt and pain of childhood. Protectors are the inner parts of us – voices, judges, critics, authority figures – whose role is to keep us safe, in a comfort zone where we won’t experience hurt, shame or fear. Protectors are the inner parts of us that initially arise when we explore “inside” ourselves. Our protectors have no idea we’re adults so they operate as though we are still children who need protection from continued hurt and pain.

How protectors operate
Protectors are mental or physical ways of thinking, doing and being. For example, protectors help us shut down emotionally while we show up as smart and intellectual; close down our heart while we act out physically through exercise and sports; move us into denial – “all is right with the world,” posture when it’s not the truth; project our feelings and emotions on to others so we don’t have to own our “stuff,” shop, drink, eat or work excessively to mask our inner pain; make us need to be “good,” successful and perfect so others won’t judge us as less-than or deficient; be lovable so others won’t abandon us; be busy so we won’t sense our emptiness; or co-dependently fawn over others and meet their wants and needs in order to deny our own emptiness and needs which were not met as a child. Protectors attempt to keep us from being harmed by others and/or from confronting our own feelings and emotions.

So, we control.
Protectors are all about control. Our protectors attempt to control our internal and external self so we can push away real or perceived threats – from bosses, colleagues, friends, spouses/partners, or others, so we can experience some sort of “faux” comfort – autonomy, approval, acceptance, admiration, and not be judged, abused, or blamed. We abhor feeling vulnerable.

Working with protectors
In working with protectors, we acknowledge them for their positive intention, appreciate their roles and see how they’ve worked tirelessly for us over the years to keep us feeling safe and secure. The next step is to develop an open and trusting relationship with our protectors – telling it/them we understand their intention: “I understand why you do what you do;” “I appreciate what you did for me when I was young;” “I see how you contribute to how I live my life;” etc.

As you acknowledge and befriend a protector, you’ll begin to sense a “moving away,” a separating from it at which time your True and Authentic Self arises. This experience can be tricky at first as the protector thinks it is the whole of you, not a part. You may feel this protector, this voice, is, in fact, “me.” Well, it isn’t .

As you breathe, sense into your body, allow whatever you experience (i.e., be curious, not judgmental) and begin to notice a “relationship” between your True and Authentic Self and your protector. You may begin to experience a sense of harmony, balance, groundedness and well-being. As your protector becomes aware of  “you” (your True and Authentic Self), you’ll experience a shift. The protector becomes more relaxed (quiet), and eventually you (the real “you”) might notice a difference in the way you relate to your world.

In real time
In everyday situations – at work, at home, at play and in relationship – when you feel a protector is arising to keep you safe and secure, notice its arising, acknowledge it, ask it politely to separate from you, so your True and Authentic Self can emerge. Tell it you will handle the situation (giving it permission to relax) and, allowing your True and Authentic Self, your “adult” self,  you’ll begin to experience qualities and capacities that will support you in the moment – strength, courage, will, wisdom, compassion, love, discipline–and “right knowing,” “right understanding,” and “right action.”

The more consistently you acknowledge, appreciate, trust and reassure your protectors that you can “do” or “be” from the place of your adult Self, your protectors will relax and allow you to lead – as an emotional, spiritual and psychological adult – not the fearful, scared or wounded little child in an adult body, wearing adult clothes. From this place you’ll find yourself engaged in relationships – with your self and others – from a place of openness, honesty, trust and authenticity – without a need for protection.

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • What are one or two protectors that often show up for you to keep you feeling safe and secure, away from harm?
  • What are their roles and how do they guide you to relate to others (i.e.,  to protect you from pain)? What do they tell you to (not) do or (not) be so you can feel safe and not threatened? What are they protecting you from (e.g., embarrassment, being judged, ignored or rejected, feeling small, stupid, or “not (fill in the black with some quality or characteristic) enough?”
  • Choose one protector you know well (e.g., one that says people are untrustworthy; I’ll be betrayed; I want to stop trying to please people; I need to be free of criticism.). When you experience/hear it, what does it feel like in your body? Where is it located in your body? What does it say, exactly, and how do you act when you hear/experience it? What people, places, events or circumstances trigger it? Who or what is it protecting you from?
  • What protectors do you remember experiencing when you were a child? And why were they there?
  • Can you envision a world where you can acknowledge, appreciate and understand your protectors and be able to separate from them to experience your True and Authentic Self? What would that be, feel, look and sound like?


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

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

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

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

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

You can also follow me on Twitter: @petergvajda.

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

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 -more or less – 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 sour 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 – i.e., our personal history, memory or experiences.

Letting go
The point is that when we become more naturally 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 (react to) the people, events and circumstances of our world personally, we can move into a place of deep relaxation and peace – i.e., 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.” How so? 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/judgmental/comparative 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 – free of attachment, pain and suffering.

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • 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 to, as a child, to get your parents’ or primary caregiver’s attention, love, acceptance or approval? Do you still 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) 2018, Peter G. Vajda, Ph.D. and True North Partnering. All rights in all media reserved.

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

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

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

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

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

 

Envy – Tearing Yourself Apart, from The Inside Out

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Our envy of others devours us most of all.” – Alexander Solzhenitsyn

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines envy as “painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another joined with a desire to possess the same advantage.”

 A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.”  – Proverbs. 14:30,

While some experts believe envy is a positive motivator (and it can be in some cases), mental health statistics and reports seem to point in a different direction — that envy is the catalyst that leads to depression, anger, resentment, malice, greed, violence, abuse, incivility and deep-seated negativity. When our “bones rot” they don’t rot alone. Our mind, our heart and our body follow.

You’re experiencing abject fear about losing your job and a friend or colleague lands a dream position in a new company while another receives a promotion. You’re a sole proprietor whose client base is drying up and your competitor seems to have clients beating her door down. You have trouble making your mortgage payments and your closest friend has just purchased a new home. You’ve just taken your car in for repairs and your neighbor drives up in a new expensive sports car. You’re experiencing  conflict in your relationship and the fellow next door, newly divorced, brings home a new “trophy wife.” You’re putting on weight while your partner has just shed 40 pounds. Your child is struggling academically and your brother’s son has just made the honor roll. Envy.

 “Envy is the ulcer of the soul.” – Socrates

In the throes of envy, we become mired in a sense of lack and deficiency. And, like an ulcer, envy eats away at you, consciously and subconsciously. It seems to be the energy that is running your life –  a life of frustration – feeling like you’re being decimated from the inside out.

Envy is like a fly that passes all the body’s sounder parts, and dwells upon the sores.” – Arthur Chapman

Envy drives our perspective, and not in a positive way. Envy make us want to “get even” and in the process of getting even we usually end up doing, speaking or thinking in a way that most often is self-destructive. We either obsess about inflating our egos or denigrating others for what they have or who they are. Either way, it’s a lose-lose proposition.

The honest truth about envy is that it’s never – repeat never – about the other person. Envy can be a blind spot. As Pogo said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” Few folks realize they are their own worst enemy when it comes to envy.

There are many roads to hate, but envy is the shortest of them all.” – Anonymous

The road to hate at work, at home, at play and in relationship can be quite overt or very subtle. We find ourselves overtly attacking others, gossiping, bullying, slandering or libeling, being abusive or spiteful, or quietly reveling in others’ mistakes or secretly wanting others to fail while we seethe inside. Envy is the cause of eroding relationships, camaraderie and collegiality. Envy eats away at intimacy, openness and connection.

It is in the character of very few men to honor without envy a friend who has prospered.” – Aeschylus

The underlying energy around envy is wanting what others have. While focusing outward on what others have, the envious one is also dwelling on “what’s wrong with me.” In this place of self-loathing and self-pity, when we feel “less than;” we tend to focus on what we don’t have. And we know the Law of Attraction says that we attract to ourselves that which we dwell on. Lack attracts lack. And caught up in a downward spiral of envy, you’re moving backwards, sowing seeds of doubt and limiting your potential.

The antidote to envy
The way out of envy is first to admit your envy. See it for what it is without judging yourself for your envy. The next step is to choose to eliminate or reduce your distraction with what others have. That’s a conscious choice. When we fill our mind with thoughts of lack, there’s no room to focus on a “way out” –  no way to put your energy on your feelings of self-worth and self-value (they’re there – just covered over and veiled). Rather than being caught up in feelings of depression, hopelessness and worthlessness that accompany envy, the choice is to move towards letting go of the doubt, the envy, and self-criticism.

The antidote to envy is to make an honest, sincere, steadfast, and conscious effort to explore your intrinsic self-worth and potential. When you let go of beating yourself up, and take time consistently to relax, breathe, go inside and reflect, you can often access your sense of inner self-worth and esteem – an inner sense of worth, value and esteem that is not connected to anything or anyone “external.” An inner sense of worth and value that can promote energies of positivity, strength, courage, self-discipline, steadfastness and compassion for one’s self.

You can decide to not be envious or jealous. It is a choice. The choice to be free of envy also allows an opening to possibility, to potential. Why? Because the control that your negative feelings had on you is released.

As you consciously choose to let go of the feelings of envy, breathe deeply and sense deep down into your heart center, in the middle of your chest, and with a sense of adventure and curiosity, begin to explore your potential, possibility and opportunity. When your mind comes in with judgments and criticisms, recognize them and allow them to float by like the clouds in the sky on a windy day.

Return to your choice to explore your potential and possibility and see what arises.  Relax, breathe deeply and allow your heart and your body (not your “logical” mind) to inform your reflection. Focus on your self and be curious about what arises. Don’t judge or rule anything out.

When a nugget of information that seems important arises, write it down and return to your deep reflection. When you feel complete with this session, explore what you saw, what you discovered and, objectively, look at the potential inside of what arose. Then, make a list of “baby steps,” small discrete tasks you can undertake to make the potential reality. What might you need to do next? Who might you need to talk with? What skill might you need to develop? What knowledge or information might you need to gather? Then, organize the small action steps, prioritize them, schedule them and execute them. And begin your journey.

As you spend time creating or re-creating your self, your feelings of envy will begin to dissipate, replaced with feelings of possibility, hope, optimism and self-worth. From this place of well be-ing and positive esteem, you can begin to move your life forward with a sense of power, control and freedom, unencumbered by the weight of envy.

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • Who are your friends and acquaintances that you envy? (hint: Think of people that you privately criticize, judge, make fun of, slander, resent, or are malicious or insecure towards.) How so?
  • Do you often find yourself throwing “pity parties” for yourself? Why?
  • Do you find it hard to acknowledge, compliment or praise others? How does this make you feel?
  • Do you constantly put yourself down? How does this make you feel?
  • Do you feel folks are better than you? How so?
  • Do you make up stories to justify your envy and your envious behavior?
  • Did anyone ever tell you they were envious of you? How did that make you feel?
  • Do you ever collude to support others’ envious feelings? Why?
  • Do you ever feel fake, that your life is a façade? How so?
  • Do you have a strong need to be seen, appreciated and admired?
  • Is it easy or challenging for you to empathize with others?
  • Can you visualize a life without envy?
  • What was your experience around envy like when you were growing up?
    —————————————————–
    (c) 2018, Peter G. Vajda, Ph.D. and True North Partnering. All rights in all media reserved.I’m grateful for the opportunity to share this reading with you and I hope you find it insightful and useful.  Perhaps you’ll share this with others, post it on a bulletin board, and use it to generate rich and rewarding discussion.

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

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

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

You can also follow me on Twitter: @petergvajda.

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

“The Microwave is Too Slow”

directions

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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 woman who’s a high-level executive for a Fortune 50 company. She was returning from work in the evening, carrying some packages. At the end of our conversation I said, “Enjoy your evening.” She 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 “impatience,” you’ll come up with about 25,100,000 hits; “feeling impatient,”18,500,000”  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;
  • Being rude and insensitive towards retail and service personnel – in person 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 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 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 can 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, 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 will 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) 2018, Peter G. Vajda, Ph.D. and True North Partnering. All rights in all media reserved.

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

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

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

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

You can also follow me on Twitter: @petergvajda.

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

Anger, Power and Soul

anger-symbol_1f4a2

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Power is part of our DNA, who we are. Power (and passion) are woven into our life’s purpose – why we’re on the planet. Lacking power, life is a humdrum experience – lacking meaning or real engagement. When we lack or lose our sense of power, we feel less than, deficient, lacking and invisible. What results is anger. Sometimes our anger is overt – violence, abuse or aggression, or silent – sadness, withdrawal or depression.

Macro and micro
On a macro level, we only need watch or read the daily news to witness the degree of violence – physical, verbal – that threads throughout much of the world. So many folks feeling victimized, helpless, lost, resentful and powerless.

On a micro level, what about you? First and foremost, anger is a reactivity to loss of love. Second, anger arises when we feel we are powerless – feeling we’re not able to control others either verbally, emotionally or psychologically. What we need to understand here is that now we’re not talking about “power,” but “force.” What’s the difference?

Power vs. force
Force is a “faux” power we resort to when we feel deficient and want to feel powerful, in control. Force is actually a “weakness” that leaks out as aggression, bullying and dominance.

True and real power – a soul quality – is the energy that accompanies self-confidence, self-worth, self-awareness, authenticity, equanimity and gentleness. Power is supportive, not defensive. Power comes from an inner “knowing,” an inner drive and inner authority. Power is our soul’s “right action.”

Anger
Powerlessness, and resulting anger, come not from the heart, but from a fear-based mental and emotional sense of not being in control, or feeling victimized or trapped by one’s life or environment – at work, at home, at play or in relationship. Anger is a reactivity to one’s circumstances or to the lack of opportunity.

Anger also arises when one feels unable to express one’s self – either lacking the ability to communicate, or feeling unheard, misunderstood or unseen. Frustration and self-esteem issues arise when one feels unheard or unseen.

Finally, anger arises when one feels they lack a capacity to “do” or “be.” Physical or mental disability, illness, or career or financial hardship can often trigger anger. When one feels “limited,” anger and frustration often result. Anger arises, too, when one cannot fulfill one’s dreams or visions.

The antidote to anger
So, what is the antidote to anger?

First, on a practical level, it’s helpful to explore the reverse side of frustration. What do I need to do, be and have to reduce or eliminate my frustration? What knowledge, skills or abilities do I lack? What would empower me to feel capable and powerful? Are there new or different directions or interests I might pursue that would give me a sense of purpose and power?  Can I challenge myself to explore the “unknown” and forward the action of my life into new areas, across my current life boundaries? Powerlessness is palpable “message” that suggests we need to look beyond our eyes.

Second, on a spiritual level, powerlessness is an opportunity to “go inside,” to explore within to touch the true source of Power, where true and real “empowerment” resides.  Often, the “inner” will point us to the “outer” – that true and real power is about serving the needs of others. Lest you think that “power” is “volunteering,” it might be. But true and real power and the sense of authenticity, self-confidence, aliveness, fulfillment, and meaning accompanying it come from a conscious choice to serve, support and be self-less to others – at work, at home, at play and in relationship.

Power and soul
True personal power arises from a personality-soul connection. True personal power is the result of passion and purpose that is heart-driven, not ego-mind driven. Personal power results from empowering -others, not your self. As Deepak Chopra says, “Seventy-five percent of what a person does, they do for their self – and there isn’t one.” If we understand that, we can discern the difference between the love and gentleness of power and the ugliness and harshness of force.

So, power begins with me, my True and Authentic Self – identifying and making healthy choices to change and grow in my life at work, at home, at play and in relationship – and allow the ripples from my growth to move out and affect others.

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • Where are you on the power-force continuum? Different points at different times, perhaps? How so?
  • Would your colleagues and friends say you are ever forceful or aggressive?
  • Are you a “control-freak?” Do you move to anger quickly when you feel you’re not in control?
  • Do you ever reflect on your forceful or aggressive thoughts, words or actions? If so, what do you see about yourself? Any patterns?
  • Are there folks in your life you can empower? How can you do that?
  • Do you feel stuck, powerless or frustrated? What talents, skills or abilities might enable you to forward the action of your life?
  • Think of a person or persons you can empower and decide how you will do that.
  • Can you take some time to reflect or meditate on your life purpose or how you can contribute to life? This is where you discover your power.
  • What was being around anger and force like for you and your family as you were growing up?

 

—————————————————–
(c) 2017, 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

Subverting Resolve in 2018

2018-calendar

Speaker pageFacebook Page, Becoming a Better You book page

New Year’s resolutions are front and center on most folks’ minds today.  Thousands of suggestions, “how tos,” and “best ways” are offered to help folks make, and carry through on, their New Year’s resolutions. Sadly, as in past years, 98% of those who make resolutions will have given up or failed by Valentine’s Day.

The cause of failure
Three major causes of failure are: (1) most of our resolutions are “mental”  that is, often they are simply thoughts wrapped in a short burst of enthusiasm that is, unsustainable, ephemeral and short-lived, (2) our intentionality does not come from “inside” — from our Core Self, our heart and soul and (3) we’re caught in a “victim mentality” where scapegoating/blaming run our lives. As victims, we’re so obsessed with blaming that we lack the strength to gain clarity about why we resist change or fail to follow through on, or be committed to, our intentions.

When we understand the nature of “victim consciousness,” we gain insight into how true and real change occurs.

When I’m a victim
The victim is characterized by self-limiting and self-sabotaging habits and patterns of living, working and relating. It is these self-limiting patterns that prevent us from do-ing and be-ing from a place of honesty, integrity, self-responsibility, maturity, accountability, dedication, and commitment. It is our subconscious drives that cause us pain and suffering.

When we explore deeply inside, honestly and self-responsibly, we uncover our shadow self — a self who’s feeling victimized, or who lives a life of greed, ruthlessness, egocentricity, blind ambition, irresponsibility, inaction, and/or self-sabotage, who lives a life of quiet desperation.

Choosing to reflect on and become conscious of these habits, patterns and programming in an effort to release them supports us to evolve to a place where clarity and a truthful picture of our inner and outer realities will serve us well.

The need for reflection
When we choose to look deeply inside and reflect, we become more able to transform the energies of our self-limiting habits and patterns into the energy of authenticity, integrity and trustworthiness — supported by our inner qualities of courage, commitment and steadfastness.

Four characteristics of a victim mentality are:

  • lack of clarity about our goals: ping-ponging between realistic and unrealistic or illusory expectations and goals, and blaming others for our lack of clarity;
  • inability or unwillingness to deal with time and resource limits and constraints and blaming others, or events, for our inability or unwillingness to use time and other resources effectively and intelligently;
  • confusion around the law of cause and effect — lack of awareness about how we are creating/causing the current events in our life and a lack of clarity about how we can change our thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, intentions, “stories,” behaviors and actions to effect positive change, believing that my issues are not about “me” but about others who are responsible for my issues; and,
  • denial that my life choices have positive or negative mental, physical, emotional and spiritual effects on my overall health and well-be-ing, and that my pain and suffering are caused by some external event or circumstances, never by “me.”.

You’re responsible for my state in life!
Mired in the quicksand of victimization, we find ourselves constantly projecting our anger and negativity on to events, circumstances and others for our predicament. We project our (unconscious) inner frustration with ourselves out towards anyone or anything we feel we can blame for our state in life. Sadly, we’re actually creating our own universe, but blaming others because we have what we don’t want, or don’t have what we want.

The light comes from the dark
Taking time for honest and conscious self-reflection supports us to take responsibility for our self — including our “dark side.” Self-reflection sheds light on the “stories” we make up to avoid taking responsibility for how we project our “stuff” on to the world. Self-reflection supports us to identify how our emotional programming — anger, fears, etc. — create our lives at work, at home, at play and in relationship.

When we are honest and clear (i.e., see the “light”) about our wants and needs, and what we are willing to do, we can create a solid foundation for our personal growth and development, and healing. We attract and relate with others who share the same self-empowering life view.

When we understand the lessons we need to learn from our current situation, what we need to do becomes obvious. Here, we experience a “choice point” – where, if we choose to, we take a conscious path and take effective action to forward the action of our life, or, we choose an unconscious path, remain stuck in our “stories,” and continue to blame and finger-point. The “conscious choice” requires focus, commitment, consistency and compassion for our self.

Spending time in our inner world through meditation, mindfulness, silence, journaling, being in nature, etc., is both emotionally and spiritually nourishing. This nourishment supports awareness of the “how” and “why” things appear in our lives — how we are creating our personal universe. Time in our inner world nurtures our capacity for self-love and self-kindness — which support us to create and inhabit a love-based, victim-less personal universe.

Moving out of the victim mentality
In this place of safety and protection, we begin to extricate our self from a victim mentality and move forward from a place of positivity and steadfastness. In our inner world, there can be no victimization as it’s a place of neutrality — a place of soul qualities — clarity, peacefulness, groundedness, stillness, surrender and allowing.

Self-reflecting helps us observe how we use our emotions to create our inner and outer worlds, our worlds of victimization. For example, are we being “nice” and “giving” to accommodate others in our attempt to feel acknowledged, seen and loved or because we authentically wish to engage in psycho/emotional/spiritual adult, heart-felt, mature relationships. Are we holding our physical, emotional and psychological boundaries with others or allowing others to threaten and abuse our boundaries so we can feel wanted and liked?

Once we have cultivated support, self-love and solid ground within, we can expand our space to include others. But we must be very conscious not to include any event, circumstance, idea, thing or person who will take us away from our center, from our self-love and move us back into feeling the victim.

When we surrender to someone else’s agenda, at work, at home, at play and in relationship, we enter their universe as a victim. The important question is why we allow others to control us. Perhaps, (1) We lack our own solid and self-confident life agenda; (2) We aren’t in touch with our heart and soul and we don’t trust ourselves; (3) We look to satisfy our wants and needs outside ourself and accommodate and compromise to be taken care of; or (4) We follow a path of least resistance in an attempt to avoid conflict and “keep the peace.” In all of these, we give away our power and become the victim.

Inner work and self-reflection, done diligently can often support us to (1) to realize our own authority, our power, (2) to assume responsibility for what we create and (3) to own the consequences of our choices, decisions and actions.

Inner work and self-reflection can support us to focus on what really matters, to let go of what holds us back, to trust our soul and Spirit for guidance and to use our core, inner strength (not “willpower” which is usually a short burst of enthusiasm and which hardly ever works) to take positive action for our self instead of engaging in self-destructive and self-sabotaging actions, releasing our self from the stranglehold of victimization.

Many “resolutions” are not conscious choices. They are knee-jerk reactions to something we don’t like about our self — and it’s usually about our “packaging” or some surface issue. True “resolve” requires a deep, inner, and conscious process. The start of 2018 is a wonderful opportunity to change our experience of failed “resolutions” to one of true and lasting change and transformation. We can choose to release the victim within and see what being in true control of our life is really, really like.

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • Who or what is my guiding authority? How is this authority working for me?
  • What are my core values and how do they direct my choices and decisions at work, at home, at play and in relationship?
  • How do I choose and implement my personal standard/values?
  • Am I self-reliant? How so?
  • Do I ever explore the dynamics of my inner world?
  • What bright light shines in my inner world?
  • What does not shine in my inner world? Do I know why?
  • What feelings and thoughts inhabit my inner world? Are they supportive or limiting?
  • Who’s in my personal world? Are they supportive or toxic? Do I want them there? How have I attracted them into my life? How so?
  • Did I (or others in my family) experience being a victim when I was growing up? How so? What was that like?
  • How can I create a more nurturing, loving and compassionate inner world for my body, mind and emotions?

———————————————————————————

(c) 2017, 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

Holidays – Ho! Ho! Ho! Or Ho Hum?

Image result for happy and sad face masks

Speaker pageFacebook Page, Becoming a Better You book page

The holiday season is often most difficult to navigate – mentally, physically, and emotionally. The glitter and shine of red and green often turns to blue. For many it is a season of darkness, not light, facing the challenges of sadness, stress, loneliness, and unfulfilled longings – a time to “get through.”

Successfully meeting these challenges can be likened to the way white-water rafters approach their task. Beginners watch for the craggy rocks, the problems to avoid, the risks to circumvent, usually ending their runs feeling emotionally and physically drained. Experts use specific tools and techniques to support them to focus on the “flow line” where the currents safely guide them through the roughest areas with a minimum of mental and emotional stress, ending their runs on a high, with energy to spare.

So, calling upon twenty-five years of coaching and counseling friends, colleagues, and clients through the “white waters” of holiday seasons, I’d like to share some perspectives and strategies to support you to create a nurturing holiday experience resulting in peace in body, mind, and spirit.

Body:

Fall and winter are Nature’s time for hibernation – being quiet and lying dormant. The tendency to live frenetically, shopping, partying, and going at ninety miles an hour, is “unnatural.”  The physical stress alone can affect your immune system, resulting in energy depletion, lethargy, and illness. It’s important to take time to relax and reduce stress, to maintain consistent harmony and balance.  Some suggestions:

Your body monitors how you’re doing. So, notice levels of tension and/or fatigue.  With a cupped hand, lightly tap your arms and neck, and other areas to relieve stress and to increase energy flow and vitality. Is your breathing deep and relaxed, or shallow and quick? Remember always to breathe deeply, especially when facing stressful circumstances.

Nurture yourself. Take time for reflection and being alone. Go to a movie, take a hot, soothing bath, treat yourself to a massage, cuddle up and enjoy your favorite music, take a quiet walk. And, breathe.

The holiday season is defined by social gatherings and often the focus of such gatherings is food. People often overeat during the holidays, and then experience guilt. In addition to the usual tips of: eating before you go to a social gathering to avoid starving when you get there, and socializing away from the food center of gravity, you might :

Design a conscious eating strategy so you don’t fall prey to unconscious patterns of medicating with food and drink. Savor the tastes, the pleasure of the aromas, flavors, and textures of seasonal treats. Don’t beat yourself up or deny the pleasure. Harmony and balance are the keys. Plan your daily intake of calories, so you have room to indulge and still experience well-being, rather than indulge and feel bad both physically and emotionally. And, breathe.

Stress is a major excuse for eating. Reflect on what’s stressing you and reflect on how you can reduce or eliminate stressors, over and above eating or drinking. And, breathe.

Maintain a consistent exercise regimen to alleviate guilt about overindulging. Your body needs to move to feel well. So put on some music and dance, and shake out tensions and stresses so you don’t become stuck in a holiday funk. And, breathe.

Mind:

During the holidays our internal judge and critic bombard us with how we “should” act and behave. Listening to this onslaught of “I should” is enough to drive one to “Grinch-dom.”  “I must get the right gift.” “I should go to that party.” “I must eat less.” “I have to send a card.” “I need to say what’s on my mind.” “I need to make this the best holiday ever.” “I should exercise more.” “I need to meet someone else’s expectations of me.” “I should be more joyful, sincere, outgoing, religious, appreciative, generous, peaceful,” etc.

In family gatherings, you may feel a need to debate issues, feelings, or past memories. Instead, initiate a truce. Place resentments and grievances on the back burner. You can address them after the holidays with greater thoughtfulness and clarity when extra seasonal stresses won’t affect you.

So, beware of the “shoulds.” Rather than beat yourself up whenever your inner judge tugs on your sleeve, just allow yourself to witness the “should”  (“Oh, my judge is giving me a hard time.”). Then, breathe deeply a few times and move on. Experiencing guilt indicates you’re allowing your judge to grab you and hold you up to some imagined or impossible holiday ideal. And, breathe.

The focus during the holidays, and all days, is being authentic, allowing your integrity to shine, to be yourself, and not struggle to meet either someone else’s expectations or some “ideal” you have of yourself that is impossible to meet. This is a good opportunity to practice the “Four L’s” of well-being: lighten up on yourself, laugh at yourself, love yourself, and leave yourself alone. You can defend against your internal critic and judge by telling it to back off, using whatever silent or oral language works for you.

You may overeat to “take care of” and nurture yourself, perhaps to find “sweetness” from food where you cannot find sweetness elsewhere, perhaps to distract yourself from boring people or events. So, be aware of “what’s eating you” and reflect on whether food or drink are the only alternatives. And, of course, breathe.

Spirit:

No one consciously wakes up and says: “I’m going to be a jerk today.” The opposite is normally true – almost everyone is trying to do their best and, in their own mind, operates from positive intention. So, when it’s easy to become stressed and react to what we perceive as others’ rudeness, insensitivity, or stupidity, take nothing personally. Use these opportunities for your spirit to come through, be accepting of others, and look for the noble humanity in others. For example:

When a shopper inadvertently bumps into you,
When a driver cuts you off,
When someone inadvertently says something you take to be critical or demeaning,
When a family member brings up an embarrassing or unpleasant past event,
When a service person doesn’t meet your expectations for quality service,
When someone forgets to thank you for your gift,
When your family doesn’t decorate the house exactly as you would,
When the priest, minister or rabbi offers a sermon you feel you could give better,

Use these opportunities to be appreciative and grateful for all you have, rather than react negatively, to come from your heart, not your mind, to focus on what you love and what truly gives meaning to your life, and on what this season means to you, whether it’s family, community, or religion. Stressful events present opportunities to be bold and brave, allowing your light and joy to shine, no matter what anyone else is doing. Wherever you are, wherever you go, know that you are a blessing! And, breathe!

And if in doing your best to take care of yourself, you feel overwhelmed, ask for help. Speak with a counselor, a coach, or minister. Folks in the helping professions are aware of, and sympathetic to, the pain which people experience at this time. Yes, “this too shall pass,” but if you find yourself swept up in the “blues” of your holiday, it will pass more quickly if you seek support.

So, gift yourself and use this time to practice following your own “flow line” as you navigate the “white waters” of this holiday season.

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(c) 2015, 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 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, 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.”

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 bad news is that it 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 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 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 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-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 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?


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(c) 2017, 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

Black Friday – And the Dark Side of Humanity

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The evil of our time is the loss of consciousness of evil.” – . Krishnamurti

“Outta my way!” seems to be the mantra that defines many folks’ orientation to Black Friday. In recent years, Black Friday has brought out the worst – the dark side, the shadow side – of folks. (The data are not in for 2017.)

Consider:

Police arrested a Wisconsin woman who cut in front of a long line – after she allegedly threatened to shoot those she moved ahead of.

In North Buffalo, New York, several shoppers were trampled – trampled! – as they surged through a Target store. Reports called it a “nasty mob.”

Out-of-control, pushy and unruly shoppers in Sacramento, California, caused a store to be evacuated. The Sheriff’s office had to be brought in.

In Tulalip WA, black Friday shoppers descended on a Nike store like a “Zombie Apocalypse.

But, wait, there’s more.

Store managers and others connected to these incidents say the causes, generally, are competition and anxiety. Competition and anxiety? Hmmm.

This gets me to thinking of how many of our workplaces – on the other 364 days a year –  are characterized by both subtle and not-so-subtle “competition and anxiety.” I’d guess more than a few. And, I’m curious about what the consequences are of much of our workplace “competition and anxiety.”

Often, folks experience colleagues and co-workers whose behavior reflects some type of assault on “anybody who gets in my way” – a “Black-Friday”-type of mentality of folks whose sole reason for living is to take care of themselves and work for their own good – blinded by their own ego-driven need to win or succeed at any cost.

While such violent instances of “stomping on” and “trampling over” others are not everyday occurrences in our workplaces, the mantra of “stepping on folks to get what I want” is  a mantra lived out daily by some leaders, managers and employees who are driven by their own flavor of “competition and anxiety.” While we don’t witness actual stampedes on a daily basis at work, we do witness more subtle, but equally-painful” crimes of “morale-stomping,” “spirit-stomping,” “satisfaction-stomping,” “passion-stomping” and “reputation-stomping” by those who mis-treat, mis-use and abuse their colleagues just to soothe their own ego needs for control, recognition and security – driven by “competition and anxiety.”

Those who step on and trample overs others to get what they want, to feel like a “somebody,” usually fall into such categories as: bullies, egoists, narcissists, and psychopaths – folks who don’t or can’t respect others, trust others or see the humanity in others – at work, and at home, at play and in relationship. Their deeper emotional and psychological issues drive them to regard relationships as win-lose or dominate. Their “win at all costs”, “zero-sum” approach to relationships is based a need to be triumphant while shaming or humiliating others.

Corrupting, manipulating, bullying, gossiping, one-upping, disrespecting, demeaning and devaluing others in order to gain power and praise, status and influence, and control reflect these folks’ “Black Friday, outta-my-way!” behaviors that destroy others – mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually and psychologically. Intimidation, back-stabbing, and sabotage are their “Black Friday, outta-my-way!” behaviors that cause others mental, physical, emotional, spiritual and psychological distress – stomping on others’ passion and spirit.

In order to survive, to feel “seen” and be “somebody,” these bullies, psychopaths and narcissists trample on others through humiliation, criticism, persecution, ignoring, sabotaging, attacking, scapegoating, ganging up on, controlling, denigrating, and contradicting others, as they seek special treatment for themselves.

From an emotional or psychological perspective, what brings one to trample on and walk all over others? What’s underneath their ruthlessness – their lack of sensitivity, respect or considerateness? Here are three sources:

  • Upbringing – being raised in a harsh, abusive environment where they were consistently called lazy, good for nothing, or stupid, i.e., a “nobody”. This individual sees the workplace as their “family.” Their “I’ll show you I’m somebody!” mantra drives them to walk over others in order to feel, and prove to others, they have value and worth.
  • Compliance – growing up in an environment that resembled boot camp. Now they intimidate and threaten in order to feel successful. They demand complete compliance and obedience. Stomping on others is their “motivational approach” to exacting compliance.
  • Ignorance – they don’t know how else to be. Growing up in an environment where force was king, they integrated “force” into their psyche and so, “force it is.” It’s their default programming.

On Black Friday, as well as in in many of our workplaces, the important question is, “Where is the civility?”

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • Do you experience folks being/feeling distressed in your workplace? Do you have systems in place to support these folks? If not, why not?
  • Are bullies, psychopaths and narcissists a major reason folks leave your organization? Is abuse a reason people leave?
  • How does your organization deal with abrasive people? Is abrasiveness condoned as “business as usual?”
  • How are matters of abuse dealt with?
  • Do performance and productivity suffer as a result of emotional distress? Are folks passive-aggressive? Is “presenteeism” a common occurrence in your workplace?
  • Do you suffer from presenteeism (showing up but far less than 100%) due to workplace bullies, psychopaths or narcissists?
  • Do folks feel helpless when dealing with arrogant, abrasive leaders, managers and colleagues?
  • Have you ever been accused of being arrogant, abrasive, bullying, or disrespectful? How did that make you feel?
  • Did people in your childhood environment reflect elements of bullying, narcissism or psychopathology? Did you? How so?
  • Have you ever stepped on someone else to get what you want? Do you now?
  • Have you ever been victimized by someone who stepped on you to get ahead? What was that like?

“The greatest evil is not done in those sordid dens of evil that Dickens loved to paint – but it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried) in clear, carpeted, warmed, well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voices.“- C.S. Lewis, Introduction of the Screwtape Letters

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(c) 2017, 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