We are two months into a time national and global separation. Stay at home orders in most states have kept us in our homes unable to hug our families and friends for fear of getting sick, or getting them sick. We wear masks when doing our essential work, shopping, and/or medical appointments. These masks hide our smiles and friendly faces. Instead we look like bandits lining up to rob the local grocery store. We try to stay connected and/or work via Zoom which has caused another condition called Zoom Meeting Overload. We all long to return to normal, but will the world ever be normal again?

I worry because for some, the current stay at home orders may be exacerbating the feelings of isolation and separation. These feelings can heighten the perception of differences, increase frustration, and create an atmosphere of diminished tolerance and understanding.

Unfortunately, we already have way too much of that going on in our country. Even after years fighting for and trying to honor everyone’s civil rights, atrocities are still happening. Just last February an African American man, Ahmaud Arber, was killed as he was jogging through a neighborhood in Georgia. Because of the color of his skin he was assumed to be a suspicious character. Two men took ‘the law into their own hands’ and fatally shot him.

The fact that it took two months for the admitted killers to be called to justice is further evidence of how entrenched this sickness of judgment and bias is and continues to fester in our communities. This is why it is so important to remember that we are all ONE; that we are all connected.

This is especially true now. We are all sharing the same experience of struggling to survive in a world that has gone haywire. This shared experience calls for us to let go of our fear and judgment of our differences, and instead embrace compassion, understanding, and greater tolerance for the ONENESS that we all share.

This strange surreal world we now live in has recalled to memory one of my favorite inspirational writers, Wayne Dyer. He introduced me to the concepts of unity consciousness about 17 years ago. I have read many of his books and have long appreciated his wisdom. I found this article on his blog page and wanted to share his thoughts with you. I hope you also come to appreciate his wisdom. (I’ve made of few changes and have put them in parenthesis.)

One Indivisible Family

by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

“No man is an island, entire of himself; every man is a piece of the continent,
a part of the main….”

John Donne, 1624

Are you familiar with these classic lines? Here seventeenth century metaphysical poet John Donne expresses the idea of oneness and unity consciousness. Ancient mystical wisdom tells us that in the garden of the mystics, distinctions such as I, you, he, she, and they do not exist. To reach a higher state of awareness and bliss in our lives, we must understand the truth of that first line, “no man (or woman) is an island.” That can happen only when our ego gets the message.

Our ego insists that we are separate from others and defined by where our boundaries stop and others start. Similarly, our ego tells us that we are separate from our environment and that we are here to sort of push it around as we desire. Yet mystical teachers and poets are always reminding us of our connectedness and the oneness of everything and everyone. We must look beneath the surface and beyond appearances to grasp the unity consciousness they speak of.

Imagine a wave or a drop of water considering itself apart from the ocean. It is weak when separated, but returned to its source it is as powerful as the ocean. Thinking of ourselves as separate from others, we lose the power of our Source and diminish the whole of humanity. When you see yourself as connected to everyone, you stop judging others and begin to see all of us connected to the same unseen silent life force.

Compassion becomes an automatic reaction when you see all of humanity as one undivided and indivisible family. Viewing all others as family members lets you feel more compassion and love toward them. John Donne’s words remind us that we all need each other.

Here are some unity consciousness ideas to practice:

  • Stop viewing yourself as distant and apart on the basis of your geography, or your isolation from those who are struggling elsewhere. When you become aware of someone suffering on another shore, say a prayer for that person, and see if you can experience in your heart your oneness with that person.
  • See (the Divine) in everyone and everything and behave each day as if (the Divine) in all things truly mattered. Try to suspend your judgments of those who are less peaceful, and less loving, and instead know that hatred and judgment are the problems in the first place.
  • Use fewer labels that distinguish you from “them.” You are a citizen of the world and a member of the human family, and when you stop the labeling process you begin to see (the Divine) in every garden, every forest, every home, every creature, and every person.

 

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If this time of isolation and separation is causing you to feel lonely, worried, depressed, isolated, or frustrated, please reach out to me and request a 20 minute complimentary consultation to find out how I can help you find more peace and inner calm even though the world around you seems chaotic. Call 415-819-8769 or email Joy TODAY!

Could times be even more chaotic?

The Coronavirus has the entire world worried. Italy has quarantined millions. The Grand Princess with it 3500 exposed and 21 ill occupants is restricted from landing as officials fear a spread of the virus. People over 60 are being advised avoid crowded places. People are starting to wear masks creating a shortage for health professionals. My girlfriend who had to fly back East to a funeral went armed with hand sanitizer, antiseptic wipes and would have taken a mask if she could have gotten her hands on one. People are worried and anxious.

On top of this worry each of us is becoming even more aware of just how polarized and political our country has become. Some are applauding our national leaders; others are horrified and concerned on what they perceive as their ineptness. Many of us are simply upset, angry, fearful, depressed, anxious and confused. It doesn’t matter on which side of the deep divide we are on.  We are all struggling stay centered and grounded.

No matter what side you are on, going into these intense emotional states of fear, anger, anxiety, etc., are harmful for you. Stress eats up your limited resources spiritually, emotionally and mentally, as well as wearing down your physical body. In addition your community and our nation are affected because all of these low vibrational feelings are feeding the mass collective consciousness of fear, anger, rage and hate. It doesn’t matter what side you are on, or what you are fearful of, 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 inner turmoil myself. I’m trying to stay centered and calm, but sometimes it’s been really difficult when everything seems chaotic and contentious.

Here are some tips that I’ve compiled from various sources that help me to stay grounded. I hope that you might also find them helpful when the world around you seems unpredictable. Even during turbulent times you always have the choice to “lose it,” or to use your tools and knowledge to stay calm and grounded.

1)  Be kind to yourself: Give yourself breaks from worrying about the actions of our national leaders or the “health” of the nation. Sit on the floor with your cat. Go for a walk and appreciate the nature around you. Turn up the music, kick up your heels, and dance. Read a good book. If you don’t have that kind of time, or space, give yourself a minute to think about something that makes you smile – your grandchild, a pet, a favorite movie, a song, 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 with a friend who has similar fears or concerns. Avoid complaining but express your emotions and how you are feeling. Make a pact that whenever you hear something on the news, or someone says something seemingly insane, you can be each other’s sounding boards. Or better yet, maybe take a break from the news altogether. Make a pact to avoid heated discussions, 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) Move: Walk, run, swim, soccer, skate, or whatever suits you. Get out of your head and into the sensations of your body. Being active helps you to burn off the stress hormones and to release your endorphins that help you stay happy and positive.

4) Mindfulness and meditation: 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. Do this for a couple of minutes to start and then increase to 10, 15 or even 20 minutes a day. This practice will help you find your way to greater states of inner peace.

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. I like to walk in the mornings and just say thank you for everything I see. There is so much beauty in the world It’s amazing how just saying your gratitudes can lift your spirits.

6) Pray to your higher power and to the guides and masters who are working with our national leaders and health professional. Ask them to be blessed with the wisdom, discernment, compassion, and insight so they can 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. Prayer is effective. Studies have proven that people who are prayed for heal faster than those who are not prayed for.

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

If you are having difficulty staying centered, positive, and hopeful, then call Joy for a complimentary 20-minute consultation. Learn how Joy Reichard 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!

For the past month or so I have felt like crap! Body aches, headaches from hell, and a sinus infection. I haven’t felt this bad in a long time. What’s worse is that it has affected my mood. I didn’t realize how low I had sunk until I was at lunch with friends sharing my sharing my aches and pains. Most of my friends were sympathetic, but one friend chided me for “owning all of that negativity!“ – That stung! It didn’t feel very sympathetic. But it also made me realize just how low my mood had sunk.

I’m usually a positive person who is grateful for the life I have. I realized after this incident, however, that it is easy to stay positive and in gratitude when you feel good and life is easy and comfortable. When, however, life takes a nose-dive into pain, loss, chaos, or negativity – then it’s just plain hard to stay in a good place.

This started me thinking about how we can stay positive when we feel like crap! I know I don’t feel very positive or grateful when I hurt all over. It’s challenging and feels like it takes way too much effort. I’d rather whine and feel sorry for myself. But that doesn’t make me feel better either. And, according to the Law of Attraction, the Universe provides what we are most focused on. Whining and feeling sorry for oneself only brings more of the same. Ugh!

My reflections led me to remember a book I read by Psychiatrist Victor Frankl entitled Man’s Search for Meaning. It describes Frankl’s life in Nazi death camps from 1942 to 1945 where he labored in four different camps, including Auschwitz. He survived while his parents, brother, and pregnant wife perished. In this place of no hope and immense despair Frankl learned a powerful spiritual lesson. We can’t avoid suffering but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward with renewed purpose. Frankl came to realize that our primary human drive in life is not pleasure, but the discovery and pursuit of what we personally find meaningful.

One of his tools that sustained him and helped him to live each day with hope was his Jewish heritage of daily prayers and blessings of gratitude. You might ask how anyone could find anything to be grateful for in a Nazi death camp. These simple Jewish prayers and blessings, however, do just that. Here are a few examples from the Jewish tradition. Of course you can change the invocation to “Mother/Father God, Divine Mother, The All That Is, Universal Consciousness, Higher Power, etc., to meet your own personal religious or spiritual beliefs.

Blessed are You, LORD our God, King of the universe, Who creates fragrant grasses.

Blessed are You, LORD our God, King of the universe, Who creates varieties of nourishment.

Blessed are You, LORD our God, King of the universe, Who brings forth bread from the earth.

Blessed are You, LORD our God, King of the universe, Who creates various spices.

Blessed are You, LORD our God, King of the universe, Who made the large bodies of water.

Blessed are You, LORD our God, King of the universe, for good news and positive experiences.

Blessed are You, LORD our God, King of the universe, for surviving life-threatening situations, such as illness or childbirth.

Blessed are You, LORD our God, King of the universe, Who left out nothing in His world and created pleasant creations and good trees so that people can derive benefit from them.

There are prayers of gratitude for the blue sky, for rain, for waking up each day, for their soul, etc. There is even a prayer of gratitude for bad news and negative experiences, for don’t we learn our most valuable lessons from our challenges, and don’t they also help us appreciate the positive things in our lives?

If Viktor Frankl could find meaning, purpose and stay hopeful during three years in Nazi death camps, then how can I not even attempt to stay positive and in gratitude during my mere month of feeling like crap.

So I am back to saying my gratitudes each day. And when I feel miserable, I am shifting my mood by reminding myself of the many blessings in my life. My beautiful home, my friends, family and communities, the rain that nourishes the earth, the sun that brings light and growth, my ability to provide for myself, my mind that allows me to reflect, learn, and grow in consciousness. I have so many things to be grateful for.

I am discovering that reminding myself of the things that I can be grateful for is helping me to shift to a more positive place even when I am feeling miserable. I encourage you to try saying your gratitudes daily especially when you are in a bad place. It will help you shift your mood too.

If you are struggling with negativity and feelings of hopelessness and despair, please reach out to Joy to see how she can help you find more joy and positivity in your life. Call Joy at 415-819-8769 or email Joy here.

On a Personal Note

About 5 years ago I was gifted with a painting class. My Mom loved to paint and spent her retirement adorning her walls, and those of her kids and grandkids, with her paintings.

I inherited my mother’s creative side and many years ago I took art classes. Then for years as I was trying to grow my hypnotherapy and coaching practice I didn’t allow myself that artistic outlet. Amazingly my talents, though rusty, were re-awakened 4 years ago. I hadn’t lost the artistic touch after all! I painted for a couple of years and then took another pause until about 2 years ago. Fortunately I’m back to painting again and now even have my own personal art studio in my new home. I have wall space to hang all my pictures and can even invite my dear friend, Andrea, over to paint with me. I can’t tell you how much it has meant to me to give myself permission to create space to paint.

(If curious you may view my recent paintings at the end of this article.)

 

Unleash the Authentic YOU!

Most of us feel uncomfortable thinking of ourselves as creative, as potential artists in our own right, but we are.  We think artists write novels, paint pictures, choreograph ballets, act on Broadway, or shoot feature films.  Each of us, however, is an artist.  An artist is merely someone with good listening skills who accesses the creative energy of the Universe to bring forth something on the material plane that wasn’t here before. This “something” was a part of Spirit before it was manifested as a book, a painting, a ballet or a film.

The same is true with creating an authentic life.  With every choice you make every day of your life, you are creating a unique work of art.  Something that only you can do,  something that has the potential to be beautiful and ephemeral.  The reason you incarnated on the earth plane was to leave your own personal indelible mark on the world.  This is your authenticity.

Today, accept that you are creating a work of art by making choices, both the big ones and little ones.  If you notice you tend to play it safe and avoid taking risks, then, for a change, try something new and different.  Why not order an espresso at lunch, if you’ve never tried one?  Or why not sign up for that belly dancing or kick boxing class that you have always wanted to take?  Or if you have always wanted to ride in a helicopter, or walk the labyrinth at Grace Cathedral, or spend a week in Bali, then why not set a date and do it?!

Or maybe you want to try something less daring, so why not stick a small bottle of balsamic vinegar in the shopping cart to drizzle over melon?  Or you can switch the dial on the radio station and listen to Country and Western instead of Rock, or Rap, or Easy Listening as you drive home? Or better yet, turn off the radio and listen to your own thoughts. You might be surprised by what you hear!

Each time you experience the new, you become receptive to inspiration.  Each time you try something different, you let the Universe know you are listening.  Trust your instincts.  Believe your yearnings are blessings.  Respect your creative urges.  If you are willing to step out in faith and leap into the unknown, you will discover that your choices are as authentic as you are. What is more, you will discover that your life has so much greater capacity for happiness, fulfillment, and endless surprises than you ever dreamed possible.

If you find that you lack the courage or motivation to follow your dreams, then consider scheduling a complementary 20-minute phone consultation to see if transformative life coaching with hypnotherapy can propel you down the path to fulfillment.

 

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Halloween is upon us again. It’s the time of ghosts, goblins, and shadowy figures. Sometimes they are of our own creation. They jump out and plague us when we least suspect.

Many of you know that I am fond of ancient Goddess archetypes. Their myths and legends have survived into contemporary times because they still hold kernels of truth and insight into human nature.

One of the Goddesses I hold in high esteem is Hecate. She is the Greek Goddess of the Underworld and functions as the Guardian of the Souls, guiding them to the underworld and back again for rebirth.

In the transpersonal psychology community, the underworld is a metaphor for the sub-conscious – that shadowy inner realm of our deepest thoughts, feelings, fears, and self-doubts. No one, not even the most accomplished, is free of this realm – for wherever we go, it goes with us.

We live in a culture, however, that avoids acknowledging uncomfortable feelings. There is a perception that to admit our feelings, especially those that concede that we are vulnerable, is an admission of weakness – that we just might be damaged goods!

Avoiding the vulnerability doesn’t serve you. When you push unwelcomed emotions underground, they frequently re-emerge with a vengeance. There is a saying, “What we resist, persists.” Have you experienced this? I have.

I am noticing a growing phenomenon in my practice. More and more clients (both men and women) are lamenting their feelings of unhappiness, depression, of feeling stuck, trapped, or burnt out. They complain that their performance at work is suffering, or their relationships aren’t working, or that they are in crisis. They simply know something is wrong, even if they can’t quite put a name on it. They just recognize that their life lacks joy, pleasure, passion, and love. It’s as if some shadowy figure has sucked the aliveness right out of their life.

Often, in the work that I do, I function as a modern day Hecate! I guide my clients into the shadowy realm of their inner thoughts and fears. We dig deep to uncover those core issues preventing them from living the life they want and deserve. Often, we reframe, release, or heal old beliefs, conditioning, and negative self-perceptions. A lot of this “old stuff” comes from childhood when, for a myriad of reasons, we were made to feel “not good enough.”

When I was child there were many times when I felt helpless, flawed, scared and vulnerable. I know I’m not the only one with these same childhood memories. If they aren’t healed, these memories can be triggered in adulthood showing up as anxiety, fears, doubts and insecurities. Childhood memories lurk in the shadows of our subconscious as the ghosts, goblins, and demons that keep us from experiencing the joy, passion and love we deserve.

It’s not fun working with these shadowy realms. But it can be enlightening and liberating when we learn to have compassion for our younger self who IN THE PAST may have been simply scared and vulnerable. Doing the inner work frees us so that we can deal with the adult challenges we face in the workplace or in our relationships.

How to do the Inner Work

When you find yourself triggered – you may either feel anxious, insecure, vulnerable, angry, or fearful – try taking a few quiet moments to ask yourself: when in the past did you have similar feelings? Take time to sort through your memories. I’m willing to bet a dollar that the source of your trigger is tied to something that happened to you in the past. Your memory could be recent, or could even take you back to childhood. Then observe your younger self in that memory. Was She or He equipped to adequately deal with that situation? I bet another dollar that you weren’t! This is quite probably the source of your anger, frustration, fear, anxiety, or insecurity.

Once you have identified the source of your trigger, try to find some compassion for your younger self. Remind yourself that at that time you just didn’t have the capacity to cope effectively. Give yourself a virtual hug. And remind yourself that today YOU are stronger, more knowledgeable and experienced, and have many more skills than YOU did in the past. This will help you realize that TODAY you have the capacity to cope and to find the solutions that you need for today’s challenges. Once you realize that NOW you are better equipped, then you will be able to face life’s challenges with much greater confidence and self-assurance.

The painful memories of your past are the source of your worst demons, goblins and ghosts. And with the help of Hecate you can travel into the shadow realm to seek your own healing.

If you lack enjoyment and passion, or feel frustrated, anxious or burnt-out, and are in need of help to transform your life, then contact Joy at joy@joyreichard.com or at 415-819-8769 to schedule a complementary 20-minute consultation and find out how you can live a more joyful and passionate life.

 

Recently I have severely limited my intake of news. It is too disturbing and divisive. Right, Left. Conservative, Liberal. Man, Woman. Caucasian, African, Asian, European, Mexican, South American – whatever YOUR genetic origin, place of birth, or color of YOUR skin, YOU are still part of humanity. We all breathe the same air, see through our eyes, hear through our ears, red blood flows in our veins, we need to eat with our mouths and digest food through our digestive system. Our secret longing is for peace, happiness, security, and freedom. We share so many similarities. We are all part of the Oneness.

I am troubled by so much divisiveness, intolerance and lack of compassion and common decency that I see on a daily basis.

I have long been a fan of Wayne Dyer. He introduced me to the concepts of manifesting and unity consciousness thinking about 18 years ago. I have read many of his books and have long appreciated his wisdom. I found this article on his blog page and wanted to share his thoughts with you. I hope you also come to appreciate his wisdom. (I’ve made a few of my own additions and have put them in parenthesis.)

One Indivisible Family

           by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

“No man is an island, entire of himself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main….”

                                                                                                          John Donne, 1624

Are you familiar with these classic lines? Here seventeenth century metaphysical poet John Donne expresses the idea of oneness and unity consciousness. Ancient mystical wisdom tells us that in the garden of the mystics, distinctions such as I, you, he, she, and they do not exist. To reach a higher state of awareness and bliss in our lives, we must understand the truth of that first line, “no man (or woman) is an island.” That can happen only when our ego gets the message.

Our ego insists that we are separate from others and defined by where our boundaries stop and others start. Similarly, our ego tells us that we are separate from our environment and that we are here to sort of push it around as we desire. Yet mystical teachers and poets are always reminding us of our connectedness and the oneness of everything and everyone. We must look beneath the surface and beyond appearances to grasp the unity consciousness they speak of.

Imagine a wave or a drop of water considering itself apart from the ocean. It is weak when separated, but returned to its source it is as powerful as the ocean. Thinking of ourselves as separate from others, we lose the power of our Source and diminish the whole of humanity. When you see yourself as connected to everyone, you stop judging others and begin to see all of us connected to the same unseen silent life force.

Compassion becomes an automatic reaction when you see all of humanity as one undivided and indivisible family. Viewing all others as family members lets you feel more compassion and love toward them. John Donne’s words remind us that we all need each other.

Here are some unity consciousness ideas to practice:

  • Stop viewing yourself as distant and apart on the basis of your geography, or your isolation from those who are struggling elsewhere. When you become aware of someone suffering on another shore, say a prayer for that person, and see if you can experience in your heart your oneness with that person.
  • See (the Divine) in everyone and everything and behave each day as if (the Divine) in all things truly mattered. Try to suspend your judgments of those who are less peaceful, and less loving, and instead know that hatred and judgment are the problems in the first place.
  • Use fewer labels that distinguish you from “them.” You are a citizen of the world and a member of the human family, and when you stop the labeling process you begin to see (the Divine) in every garden, every forest, every home, every creature, and every person, and inner peace will be your reward.

If your judgmental thinking is getting in the way of you enjoying a loving, joyful and peaceful life, then please contact me to request a 30 minute complimentary consultation to find out how I can help you embrace the life you want. Call 415-819-8769 or email Joy TODAY!

Most of my articles focus on women and the female perspective. This is sadly ignoring about 50% of the population. Men are also trying to find their way in our changing culture. I believe the changes are requiring men to develop more compassion. Yet, what is required of men to become more compassionate? For that answer I turned to an article written by Kozo Hattori that was published in the Greater Good.

What Makes a Compassionate Man?

What does it take to foster compassion in men? To find out, Kozo Hattori interviewed scientific and spiritual experts.

From these interviews and research, he compiled a list of what makes a compassionate man.

1. A fundamental understanding of compassion

Most events I attend that discuss compassion are predominantly attended by women. When I asked Thich Nhat Hanh how we could make compassion more attractive to men, he answered, “There must be a fundamental misunderstanding about the nature of compassion because compassion is very powerful…Compassion protects us more than guns, bombs, and money.” Although many men in society see compassion and sympathy as feminine—which translates to a weakness in our patriarchal society—all of the compassionate men I interviewed view compassion as a strength.

Dr. Hanson noted how compassion makes one more courageous since compassion strengthens the heart—courage comes from the French word “Coeur,” which means heart. Dacher Keltner argues that Darwin believed in “survival of the kindest,” not the fittest. Dr. Ted Zeff, author of Raise an Emotionally Healthy Boy, believes that only compassionate men can save the planet. Zeff argues that “the time has come to break the outdated, rigid male code that insists that all men should be aggressive, thick-skinned, and unemotional”—an excellent description of the act-like-a-man box that I tried to live in.

The compassionate men I interviewed agree with the Dalai Lama when he said, “Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.”

2. Compassionate role models

All of the compassionate men seemed to have role models that supported their compassion instinct. Marc Brackett gives credit to his uncle, Marvin Maurer, who was a social studies teacher trying to instill emotional intelligence in his student before the term emotional intelligence was coined. Over 30 years after teaching in middle school, Maurer’s “Feeling Words Curriculum” acts as a key component of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence RULER program. Similarly, Marshall Rosenberg, author of Nonviolent Communication, constantly mentions his compassionate uncle who cared for his dying grandmother.

A role model doesn’t necessarily have to be living, or even real. Chade-Meng Tan, author of Search Inside Yourself, cites Ben Kingsley’s portrayal of Gandhi as a role model for compassion. Dr. Rick Hanson posits Ender from the science-fiction novel Ender’s Gameas a compassionate role model. Certainly, Jesus and Buddha are obvious role models of compassion. The key is to treat them like role models.

Role models are not meant to be worshiped, deified, or prayed to. They are meant to be emulated. They pave the way for us to walk a similar path. Can we turn the other cheek and love our enemies like Jesus asked us? Can we transcend our ego and see all things as one, like the Buddha did?

In contrast are individuals who were not guided by positive role models. In his book From Wild Man to Wise Man, Franciscan friar Richard Rohr describes what he calls “father hunger”: “Thousands and thousands of men, young and old…grew up without a good man’s love, without a father’s understanding and affirmation.” Rohr, who was a jail chaplain for 14 years, claims that “the only universal pattern I found with men and women in jail was that they did not have a good father.”

Scott Kriens, former CEO of Juniper Networks and founder/director of the 1440 Foundation, concurs: “The most powerful thing we can do for our children is be the example we can hope for.” 

3. Transcendence of gender stereotypes

All of the compassionate men interviewed broke out of the act-like-a-man box. At a certain point in his life, Dr. Rick Hanson realized that he was too left brained, so he made a conscious effort to re-connect with his intuitive, emotional side. When Elad Levinson, program director for Spirit Rock Meditation Center, first encountered loving-kindness and compassion practices, his first reaction was what he claims to be fairly typical for men: “Come on! You are being a wuss, Levinson. No way are you going to sit here and wish yourself well.” So the actual practice of compassion instigated his breaking free from gender stereotypes.

Dr. Ted Zeff cites a study that found infant boys are more emotionally reactive than infant girls, but by the time a boy reaches five or six years old “he’s learned to repress every emotion except anger, because anger is the only emotion society tells a boy he is allowed to have.” If society restricts men’s emotional spectrum to anger, then it is obvious men need to transcend this conditioning to become compassionate.

Dr. Doty points to artificially defined roles as a major problem in our society because they prevent men from showing their vulnerability. “If you can’t be vulnerable, you can’t love,” says Doty. Vulnerability is a key to freedom from the act-like-a-man box, for it allows men to remove the armor of masculinity and authentically connect with others. 

Both Dr. Doty and Scott Kriens emphasize authenticity as a necessary pathway to compassion. Kriens defines authenticity as “when someone is sharing what they believe as opposed to what they want you to believe.”  This opens the door to compassion and true connection with others.

4. Emotional intelligence

In Raising Cain, Dan Kindlon and Michael Thompson argue that most boys are raised to be emotionally ignorant: “Lacking an emotional education, a boy meets the pressure of adolescence and that singularly cruel peer culture with the only responses he has learned and practiced—and that he know are socially acceptable—the typical ‘manly’ responses of anger, aggression, and emotional withdrawal.”

In contrast, most of the men I interviewed were “emotionally literate.” They seemed to see and feel things with the sensitivity of a Geiger counter. Tears welled up in Dr. Doty’s eyes a number of times when he talked about compassion. Dr. Hanson explained how he landed in adulthood “from the neck up” then spent a large part of his 20s becoming wholeagain. Much of Chade-Meng Tan’s Search Inside Yourself training that he developed for the employees of Google is based on emotional intelligence developed through attention training, self-knowledge, and self-mastery.

Similarly, Father Richard Rohr leads initiation groups for young men that force initiates to face pain, loneliness, boredom, and suffering to expand their emotional and spiritual capacity. It is no coincidence that these initiations are held in nature. Nature seems to be an important liminal space that allows boys and men to reconnect with their inner world. Dr. Hanson is an avid mountain climber. Dr. Ted Zeff advocates spending time in nature with boys to allow their sensitivity to develop.

5. Silence

Almost all of the men I interviewed regularly spend some time in silence. They’d hit “pause” so that they can see themselves and others more clearly. When our interview approached two hours, Dr. Rick Hanson asked to wrap it up so he would have time for his morning meditation. Meng Tan had just returned from a week-long silent meditation retreat a few days before our interview. Scott Kriens started a daily sitting and journaling practice almost ten years ago that he rigorously practices to this day.

Father Richard Rohr practices Christian contemplative prayer, which he says leads to a state of “undefended knowing” that transcends dualistic, us/them thinking. Rohr argues that true compassion can’t happen without transcending dualistic thinking. “Silence teaches us not to rush to judgment,” says Rohr.

Self-awareness through mindfulness practices like meditation, silent prayer, or being in nature allow compassionate men to embrace suffering without reacting, resisting, or repressing. Thich Nhat Hanh says that mindfulness holds suffering tenderly “like a mother holding a baby.” That poetic image is backed up by more and more research, which is finding that mindfulness can help foster compassion for others.

So the path to making more compassionate men is clear: understand compassion as a strength, get to know yourself, transcend gender roles, look for positive role models—and become one yourself. If that sounds too complicated, 84-year-old Marvin Maurer sums up being a compassionate man in five easy words, “Be in love with love.”

You can find the original article at https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/what_makes_a_compassionate_man

As a transformational coach I often hear about upsetting events and distressing circumstances in the lives of my clients.  Some of my friends wonder how I’m able to keep my distance emotionally when I hear these troubling stories. Through my own personal and spiritual journey, and my experience with 12-step programs, I was introduced to a concept called compassionate detachment.

Compassionate detachment is a mindset from which all of us can benefit when we exercise it in our relationships. It is a healthy way of relating to others which lets them know that you have a loving and caring concern for their predicament, while holding the belief that they have the inherent ability to deal with their own problems and become responsible for their own issues. Simultaneously you strive to maintain a sense of detachment about the outcome.

The important thing here is to stay detached so that you don’t step in and attempt to resolve their problem, their pain, or their issue for them.  This doesn’t mean, however, that you care any less for them. Nor does it mean that they, and the outcome, aren’t important to you.

Too often, many of us out of genuine concern will jump in and attempt to ‘rescue’ a friend. We might do this by giving advice, money, shelter, trying to ‘fix’ their feelings, or interceding for them in some way. Though our intentions may be good, in the long run we are doing our friend a disservice. By jumping in to rescue, we can end up disempowering the person we are trying to help. How? By not giving them the time, space, and self-confidence they need to develop their own ability to take care of themselves.

In addition, when we are in the rescue mode we tend to be working on our own agenda – on what we think might be best for our friend… which might not be what is best in the long run. Or we might like the feeling we get from being ‘needed.’ It might make us feel important. That is not necessarily helping our friend, however. In the end that could end up encouraging a dependency on your help rather than supporting another’s self-reliance and independence.

Rather than jumping to fix a problem, try listening compassionately without offering advice, or trying to fix the situation. Offer caring words of sympathy and be ‘present’ with them as they share what may be troubling them deeply. Many times a person just needs to be heard.  Allowing someone to feel truly heard can be the greatest gift that you can give a friend.

So often my clients come to their own solutions just by having a safe space in which they can talk through an issue. In reality, we all have the answers within ourselves; we just need to be given the space, time, and belief in ourselves so that we can find them.

If you are struggling with some difficult challenges, give Joy a call for a 30-minute complimentary consultation to find out how she can help you. Call 415-819-8769 or email Joy today!

If you are struggling with some difficult challenges, give Joy a call for a 30-minute complimentary consultation to find out how she can help you. Call 415-819-8769 or email Joy today!

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.

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.