Monday, June 03, 2019 joyreichard Personal Growth and Development , self help No comments

Have you ever struggled with a decision?

Have you been so paralyzed by difficult choices that you end up doing nothing?

Of course you have! We all have. Especially in today’s world because we are confronted with way too many options!

I recently struggled with a decision. I was about to take action on something, but paused just long enough to realize it just might be motivated by my Aries impulsiveness. My impulsiveness has gotten me in trouble before, big time! I didn’t want to make another decision that I was going to end up regretting… not again! So, I called a friend. Sure enough, she told me that what I was about to do was a stupid idea. She saved me from making a costly mistake. (This is why we need our girlfriends – especially the ones who’ll tell ‘you like it is,’ and won’t pussy-foot around being nice!)

In reality, I already knew it was a bad idea. That’s why I hesitated. If it had been a good idea, I would have felt a sense of certainty. I would have felt pleased and maybe even felt a sense of peace about the decision. Instead I felt enough uncertainty to call a friend.

I could have saved myself a phone call if I had paid attention to what I was feeling!

Make friends with your emotions
Our emotions are our friends. They are our internal alert system that lets us know what is good, or bad, for us. They are the barometer of what is going on inside. The challenge we all face, however, is that we are taught in our society that emotions are to be suspect. They can’t be trusted. That somehow it’s better to keep your emotions in check and be ruled by your ‘mind.’

This is only partially true. Our ‘mind’ is a great tool for analysis – for evaluating both sides of an argument. It helps us weigh facts and make practical decisions. However, a decision based on what is most practical is not always the best decision.

I once made career decision based on what I thought would provide the best financial security for our household. What I really wanted to do, however, was to take another more interesting (but lower paying) position. The decision was practical and logical, but I was miserable in that higher paying job! I quit 6 months later!  I had made the mistake of not taking the wisdom of my emotions into my considerations.

Our emotions alert us to what is good, or bad, for us
Our emotions are our internal alert system. When angry, our emotions are warning us that someone might be taking advantage of us, or treating us poorly. When we are fearful, we’re being warned to pay attention ‑ danger may lie ahead. If we are edgy, nervous, or secretive about our actions, then we’re about to do something that isn’t in our best interest. When we feel pleasure, joy, or a sense of peace, our emotions are letting us know that whatever we are doing is positive. Embrace it!

When we are busy thinking or worrying our way through a decision, we drown out our inner wisdom which is linked to our ‘emotional alert system.’ Worrying is a waste of time and confuses the matter. Instead, just grow calm and let your mind quiet down.

Listen to your emotions and your body
Once you are more relaxed think about a decision you must make. Listen, not to your mind running its analysis, but instead pay attention to what you are feeling in your body. Just notice the physical sensations and the emotions you are feeling. Then, one by one, weigh your options while noticing any shifts in your physical or emotional state. Take notes if you must, but just pay attention to what you are feeling.

Notice if your body feels tense, your chest heavy, if there is a knot in your stomach, or your breathing changes. Also pay attention to any changes in your emotional state. Do you feel anxious, nervous, overwhelmed, fearful, distressed, cautious, or unease of any kind? If you notice any of these shifts in your body or emotions, then that option may not be the best choice. If you feel calm, relaxed, a sense of ease or contentment, or even relief and/or happiness, then most likely this is the better course of action. Sometimes your choice will be the one that makes you feel less distress… or more ease.

Notice if your body feels tense, your chest heavy, if there is a knot in your stomach, or your breathing changes. Also pay attention to any changes in your emotional state. Do you feel anxious, nervous, overwhelmed, fearful, distressed, cautious, or unease of any kind? If you notice any of these shifts in your body or emotions, then that option may not be the best choice. If you feel calm, relaxed, a sense of ease or contentment, or even relief and/or happiness, then most likely this is the better course of action. Sometimes your choice will be the one that makes you feel less distress… or more ease.

Make better decisions by paying attention to your body and emotions
I’m not advising that you ignore the practical elements needed to make a good decision. I am suggesting, however, that by also accessing your inner wisdom by paying attention to your physical and emotional reactions, you will be able to make wiser decisions that will end up better serving your highest good and greatest joy.

If you are confused or feel uneasy about the decisions and choices you have made, or are about to make, please give me a call today and requests a 30-minute complimentary consultation.  Call Joy 415-819-8769 or email me.

Monday, April 29, 2019 joyreichard Uncategorized No comments

When you’re in a high mood, or a great mood, the world seems to be a better place in general. Even though you may get a tear in your sleeve, spill your coffee, or have to deal with a noisy neighbor, when you’re happy these minor daily problems don’t really bother you. Conversely, when you’re feeling dejected or disappointed after some type of loss or breakup, each of life’s minor annoyances only adds to your pain. You find it difficult to look beyond what’s right in front of you and may even find yourself staring at the computer screen, watching the cursor blink, blink, blink….

New research is beginning to show how happiness isn’t just an emotional experience, but an emotion that can actually shape the way you perceive the world.

Your mood can impact your relationship
Your mood, whether low or high, can impact your relationships because it can enhance or distort your feelings towards your partner, your family members, or other people in your life. This is because when you’re in a high mood you tend to feel happier. Thus, your feelings toward your partner or others tends to be more positive. Any differences feel more manageable, or insignificant, or irrelevant.  When in a low mood, however, these same differences can seem insurmountable, painful, and even deal breakers.

When your partner or other people you encounter are in a low mood, you might think you have to understand what’s wrong with them and even try fix it! In reality all you need to do is simply offer support. Moods are constantly swinging back and forth as on a continuum. They are dynamic. Moods can change quickly, or slowly, over time. That’s just how moods work. Unless severely depressed moods are seldom persistent.

Your mood impacts your thoughts and feelings

When we’re in a low mood we tend to have negative, pessimistic, and even fearful thoughts that can lower our self-confidence and increase feelings of in inadequacy. Conversely, when we are in a high mood we tend to have positive, confident, and even joyful thoughts.  Low mood feelings can range from dread to relief.  I.e. “I’m tired and I have to fix dinner tonight,” to “Great! He’s coming home early. I can fix us a nice dinner and then we can relax together.” High mood feelings can range from contentment to euphoria.  I. e. “It’ll be nice to relax with my husband tonight,” to “Yay! It’s Date Night!”

With all these thoughts and feelings fluctuating with your mood, your psychological functioning can also be impacted. When in a low mood your mental activity amps up as you start to ruminate about problems and your dissatisfaction with yourself, your partner, your job, or anything that’s irritating you. Sometimes there is a heightened but distorted sense of immediacy, as if whatever is bugging you has to be taken care of right now. It can’t wait!

It’s not the mood, but how you respond to it, that determines the quality of your life! 

When low, you might feel distressed succumbing to the fear that the mood is real and will last forever. When high you might spend your time worrying when “the other shoe will drop!” Or you might choose a more enlightened response and be grateful when mood is high while attempting to be graceful when it is low!

When low, you might feel distressed succumbing to the fear that the mood is real and will last forever. When high you might spend your time worrying when “the other shoe will drop!” Or you might choose a more enlightened response and be grateful when mood is high while attempting to be graceful when it is low!

Mood Awareness
Paying attention to your mood will help you navigate through your mood shifts. To do this, start noticing how your perspective changes with each shift in your mood. Here are some examples:

  • Gloom and doom – Why is everyone always judging me?
  • All is not right with the world – There are many villains out there.
  • I’m ok. Life’s okay – I feel content.
  • Gratitude – People are well meaning. They are trying to do the best they can.
  • Inspiration – I‘m so lucky to have all these people in my life!

Though none of us like being in a low mood, there are some benefits. Low moods tell us to slow down so we can be more reflective and recover our bearings.  They teach us humility because they help us realize that we don’t know as much as we thought we did. Then, when the low mood ends, we realize how we’ve blown our thoughts and fears way out of proportion. It helps us maintain a better perspective during those times when we are in a funk.

When in a low mood – chill out!

When you notice you are in a low mood, acknowledge it. Then chill out! Your mood colors your perception of reality and can make things go bad, chaotic, or messy very quickly. If you feel grumpy and irritable, try to keep to yourself until your mood shifts, for it will shift. During a low mood don’t become involved in any deep discussions, make any criticisms or judgments, or attempt to make any big decisions, especially with your partner. A low mood will contaminate your thinking and will increase your chances in getting into unproductive and damaging arguments.

How can you tell when you’re in a low mood?

Pay attention to how you’re feeling and to the quality of your thoughts.  When you have painful feelings and your thoughts are full of shame, guilt, regrets, insecurities, and negativity, then you can be certain that you are in a low mood. Your thinking is contaminated.  When you have feelings of well-being and your thoughts are confident and positive, then you’re in a high mood and your thinking is more trustworthy.

What if my partner is in a low mood?

When your partner is in a low mood, don’t criticize or judge them! Or try to fix them! Just let them work through their mood on their own. It will eventually shift. Don’t take what they say or do too personally as their perception is temporarily distorted by their mood.

If they are verbally abusive or disrespectful, wait until their mood has shifted to address it.  Resist temptation to fight with your partner when they are in a low mood. However, when they return to a more balanced mood do let them know how their treatment made you feel and ask that they be more respectful in the future.

Remember, moods can shift from moment to moment. Be patient, considerate, allow your partner to take care of themselves, stay focused on taking care of yourself, and allow the low mood to shift of its own accord.  This will help you maintain a healthier relationship.

If you are having challenges in your relationship and would like some guidance on how to be a healthier partner with better communication skills, then contact Joy for a complimentary 30-minute consultation. Call Joy at 415-819-8769 or email Joy today!

Tuesday, March 05, 2019 joyreichard Uncategorized No comments

I have always been proud that I lived in a country that prided itself on its integrity and human rights policy. Now, with tweets of “Fake News” or alternate facts, of withholding truths, of outright lies especially under oath, of hiding suspicious and possibly illegal financial dealings by those in public office, I find myself questioning the importance of honesty and integrity. For me, this also brings into question our relationships: with our loved ones, our partner, our community, or public leaders, and with ourselves.

Without relationships human experience of life as we know it wouldn’t exist. Our culture is based on cooperation, negotiating, mutual support, and working together. Without relationships our culture would be very different. Even war and conflict involves the experience of relating, or not relating.

Relationships are of course complicated and have many elements – but there is one element that binds relationships together. That fundamental element is trust.

How do you build trust in your relationships – including your relationship with yourself?

Strive to live your life adhering to two values: Honesty and Integrity!

Honesty: Be true to others in all that you do.

I had two very important relationships in the past. They both were not always truthful with me. The mistruths, deceptions, and outright lies, even the little white lies, eventually broke my trust. Once that trust was broken, I couldn’t get it back. At my core I no longer trusted either of those people. Eventually, the lack of trust destroyed both relationships.

What happens, then, when our public leaders withhold truth, lie, engage in suspicious or illegal financial dealings, or consistently make accusations of others misconstruing the truth?

Do we continue to make excuses for them, claiming they have done some good for the country so they are still OK? Do we continue to hope there is at least some truth in what they are saying or doing? Do we turn a blind eye to the suspicious dealings and go about our business? Or do we hold them accountable and keep insisting on the truth?

Integrity: Be true to yourself in all that you do.

Integrity is intertwined with our values. I learned my values from a composite of what my parents taught me, my religious upbringing, and from my education.  They included basic concepts like:

  • All people have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
  • Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
  • Be compassionate to those in need.
  • Be tolerant of differences.
  • Do no harm.
  • People have the right to be free of discrimination based on race, color, gender, national origin, age, religion, creed, disability, veteran’s status, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

Why are these values so important?
First, the greatest personal achievement, I believe, is to live your life in such a manner that you are happy with who you are. If integrity is absent, can you truly be happy with yourself? Sure, you can pursue pleasure, you can party, have fun, and buy things that bring you enjoyment … but will that bring you a deep sense of self-satisfaction and fulfillment? Without those things – if you engage in lies, indulge your greed and quest for power in ways that are harmful to others – can you actually be happy with yourself?

If honesty is lacking, then you end up having to lie to yourself, or exaggerate the truth, to justify your own actions. When you lie to yourself, you violate your integrity. Without integrity the path to authentic happiness and fulfillment is blocked. There will always be that lingering feeling of guilt or even shame that will put a damper on deep personal self-satisfaction.

If you can’t be honest with the people in your life, you can’t develop long-term meaningful relationships because trust will eventually be eroded. No matter how skilled you are at deception, the truth eventually reveals itself. When it does, trust is lost just like it was with my two relationships. Without trust the relationship decays from within, like a cancer.

This is why I can’t support statements by public leaders that seem to shift with the wind. Why I question the integrity of those who turn a blind eye to questionable financial dealings and shifting “facts.” Why I can’t support closing our borders to refugees escaping the horrors of war or the danger of terrorists and persecution. Why I can’t support billions of dollars being invested in a wall to separate us from our neighbors, when these same neighbors are so desperate for employment they will take our most menial of jobs. Not to mention that this wall will siphon off funds from much needed programs that can help our own children, seniors, and the ill and vulnerable.

If you believe taking a shortcut, sacrificing your integrity, and living out of alignment with basic values will somehow get you more money, success and security or even more fun and pleasure, think again! You’re probably thinking short term. In the long term, violating trust with others or with your self is the surest way to failure.

In addition, remember to never confuse pleasure with happiness … they mean different things and carry different values. Pleasure is a short-term feeling, while happiness is a long-term element of the human experience.

Of course, your values and the meanings you attach to honesty and integrity can be different from mine – but regardless of how you define these values, I strongly urge you to take a serious look at how you apply these values in your life, your business, your relationships, and your responsibility to the world. Short-term results may be deceiving –think about the life you want to create … the person you want to become… and the world you want your grandchildren to inherit.

Wednesday, February 06, 2019 joyreichard Personal Growth and Development , self help , Uncategorized No comments

It might be a quarrelsome in-law or relative that you have to see on a regular basis. Or an intimidating boss that you report to. Or it might be a domineering co-worker who makes too many suggestions about how you should do your job, or a friend who offers way too much advice.

If you are struggling with a toxic relationship, then here information you might find helpful. It was shared in an article that was published last year in Yes Magazine.

When a relationship is causing you stress and suffering,
follow these five steps to find peace for yourself.

1. Accept that you are in a difficult situation, dealing with a very difficult relationship

Your choices here are fairly limited, and, strangely, acceptance is always the best choice. You can judge and criticize the other person, but that will probably make you feel tense and lonely. Alternately, you could nurse your anxiety and despair that you’ll never be able to get along with them, which will make you feel stressed and sad. You can definitely deny their existence or pretend that they aren’t bothering you. You can block their texts and emails, and avoid every situation where they’ll turn up.

These are all tactics of resistance, and they won’t protect you. These tactics will allow the other person to further embed themselves into your psyche.

What does work is to accept that your relationship with them is hard, and also that you are trying to make it less hard. This gentle acceptance does not mean that you are resigned to a life of misery, or that the situation will never get better. Maybe it will—and maybe it won’t. Accepting the reality of a difficult relationship allows us to soften. And this softening will open the door to your own compassion and wisdom.

Trust me: You are going to need those things.

2. The other person will probably tell you that you are the cause of all their bad feelings

This is not true. You are not responsible for their emotions. You never have been, and you never will be. Don’t take responsibility for their suffering; if you do, they will never have the opportunity to take responsibility for themselves.

3. Tell the truth

When you lie (perhaps to avoid upsetting them), you become complicit in the creation and maintenance of their reality, which is poisonous to you. For example, they might ask you if you forgot to invite them to a party. You can easily say yes, that it was a mistake that they didn’t get the Evite, and did they check their spam folder?

But lying is very stressful for human beings, maybe the most stressful thing. Lie detectors detect not lies, but the subconscious stress and fear that lying causes. This will not make the relationship less toxic.

So, instead, tell the truth. Be sure to tell them your truth instead of your judgment, or what you imagine to be true for other people. Don’t say “I didn’t invite you because it would stress Mom out too much to have you there” or “I didn’t invite you because you are a manipulative drama queen who will find some way to make the evening about you.”

Instead, tell them your truth: “When you are in my home, I feel jittery and nervous, and I can’t relax, so I didn’t invite you to the party. I’m sorry that I’ve hurt your feelings.”

It takes courage to tell the truth, because often it makes people angry. But they will probably be mad at you anyway, no matter what you do. They almost certainly won’t like the new, truth-telling you—and that will make them likely to avoid you in the future. This might be a good thing.

4. If you feel angry or afraid, bring your attention to your breath and do not speak (or write) to the person until you feel calm

It’s normal to want to defend yourself, but remember that anger and anxiety weaken you. Trust that soothing yourself is the only effective thing you can do right now. If you need to excuse yourself, go ahead and step out. Even if it is embarrassing or it leaves people hanging.

5. Have mercy

Anne Lamott defines mercy as radical kindness bolstered by forgiveness, and it allows us to alter a communication dynamic, even when we are interacting with someone mired in anger or fear or jealousy. We do this by offering them a gift from our heart. You probably won’t be able to get rid of your negative thoughts about them, and you won’t be able to change them, but you can make an effort to be a loving person. Can you buy them a cup of coffee? Can you hold space for their suffering? Can you send a loving-kindness meditation their way

Forgiveness takes this kindness to a whole new level. I used to think I couldn’t really forgive someone who’d hurt me until they’d asked for forgiveness, preferably in the form of a moving and remorseful apology letter.

But I’ve learned that to heal ourselves we must forgive whether or not we’re asked for forgiveness, and whether or not the person is still hurting us. When we do, we feel happier and more peaceful. This means that you might need to forgive the other person at the end of every day—or, on bad days, every hour. Forgiveness is an ongoing practice, not a one-time deal.

When we find ways to show mercy to even the person who has cost us sleep and love and even our well-being, something miraculous happens. “When we manage a flash of mercy for someone we don’t like, especially a truly awful person, including ourselves,” Anne Lamott writes, “we experience a great spiritual moment, a new point of view that can make us gasp.”

Here’s the real miracle: Our mercy boomerangs back to us. When we show radical kindness, forgiveness, and acceptance—and when we tell the truth in even the most difficult relationship—we start to show ourselves those things. We realize that we can love and forgive and accept even the most terrible aspects of our own being, even if it is only for a moment. We start to show ourselves the truth, and this makes us feel free.

And, in my experience, this makes all we have suffered worth it.

This article was originally published by Greater Good. It was edited for YES! Magazine. 

If you find you are struggling with a toxic relationship then please contact Joy to discover how to have healthier relationships. Call Joy at 415-819-8769 or email Joy today.

Wednesday, January 09, 2019 joyreichard Personal Growth and Development , self help , Spiritual Growth , Uncategorized No comments

Daily each of us is becoming more aware of just how polarized our country has become. Some are applauding our national leaders’ actions; others are horrified and taking a stand by signing petitions, calling State and US Representative, or are out there protesting. Then, however, there are those, many of us, who are just upset, angry, fearful, depressed or anxious on either side of the deep divide that is daily becoming even more polarized.

No matter what side you are on, going into these intense polarized states are harmful for you, your community and our nation because polarizations knocks you off your center interfering with your ability to think clearly, stay emotionally balanced, and to act with wisdom and compassion. All of these low vibrational feelings are feeding the mass collective consciousness with fear, anger, rage and hate. It doesn’t matter what side you are on, the negative vibrations feed into the same mass collective consciousness which has a negative effect on everyone.

All of this has become very personal because I’m feeling all of these emotions and turmoil myself. I’m trying to stay centered, but sometimes, most of the time recently, it’s been very hard. Awhile back a friend shared with me an article from Wall-of-us Weekly Actions on how to stay centered when things get difficult. It was a good reminder for me around what I can do to stay calm and centered inside even when things are chaotic and contentious in the world around me. I thought you might benefit from them too.

I’ve re-worked some of the following suggestions with the intention of making them accessible to both sides of the divide that’s polarizing our nation.  Please read them. They were prepared by a licensed therapist. We all need a little self-care right now. While the world around us may seem unpredictable, you still have the ability to ground yourself by building predictable and safe habits:

1)  Be gentle on yourself. Give yourself breaks from ruminating about the actions of our national leaders and the people’s response to about what’s to come. Sit on the floor with your cat. Lie on the ground and look at the clouds. Or blast some music in your home and dance your butt off. If you don’t have that kind of time, or space, give yourself a minute to think of all your favorite movies, or songs, or the best kisses you’ve ever had. (I personally like this last one. I’ve had some great kissers in my life!)

2) Air your concerns. Talk to like-minded friends about your fears or concerns. Make a pact that whenever something happens on the national platform, or someone says something seemingly insane, you can be each other’s sounding boards. Also make a pact to not escalate into a heated, hate-filled discussion, but to listen and empathize. I am grateful for each of my friends. We have kept each other balanced when our world has gotten too overwhelming for us to handle calmly.

3) Get physical. Walk, run, swim, soccer, skate, or whatever suits you. Get out of your head and into the sensations of your body. As you exert energy, see if you can expel negativity that you are carrying from the latest news. Exercise helps you to release your endorphins which are your “be happy” hormones.

4) Use mindfulness techniques. Sit quietly and focus on your breathing. Slowly take in a deep breath, hold it, and then exhale very slowly. Try to relax your shoulders and muscles as you do this. Close your eyes and notice the thoughts, feelings, images, and bodily sensations that emerge. If you notice that your mind wanders, name what it’s wandered to (shopping list, to do list, etc.), then see if you can redirect your focus back to your breath. Allow any emotions (joy, sadness, fear, excitement, for example) to be present without judgment. Let the feelings move through you. Return to your breath.

5) Be grateful. Every day talk to a friend or write down something(s) for which you are grateful. Being grateful is a way of owning your power. No one, not even our national leaders, or parents, or friends, or colleagues, or an angry populace, can take that away.

6) Pray to your higher power and to the guides and masters who are working with our national leaders. Ask that our leaders be blessed with the wisdom, discernment, compassion, and insight to make the best decisions that will serve the highest good and be of the greatest benefit and joy for our nation, the people, humanity, and our great mother, the Earth.

I wish you balance, centering, discernment, inner peace, love and compassion as you walk your journey on this earth plane during these turbulent times.

If you are having difficulty staying centered, positive, and hopeful, then call Joy for a complimentary 30-minute consultation. Learn how Joy can help you maintain balance, clarity, and a positive attitude so you can be the most effective YOU possible, even during challenging times. Call 415-819-8769 or email Joy today!