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Archive | Personal Growth and Development

The Web of Life

“All Things Are Connected,” the concluding chapter to John Robbins’ Pulitzer Prize nominated Diet for a New America (1987), begins with a quote from the famous mystic Edgar Cayce:

Destiny, or karma, depends upon what the soul has done about what it has become aware of.

John Robbins writes:

“At the present time, when most of us sit down to eat, we aren’t very aware of how our food choices affect the world.  We don’t realize that in every Big Mac there is a piece of the tropical rainforests, and with every billion burgers sold another hundred species become extinct.  We don’t realize that in the sizzle of our steaks there is the suffering of animals, the mining of our topsoil, the slashing of our forests, the harming of our economy, and the eroding of our health.  We don’t hear in the sizzle the cry of the hungry millions who might otherwise be fed.  We don’t see the toxic poisons (pesticides) accumulating in the food chains, poisoning our children and our earth for generations to come.

“But once we become aware of the impact of our food choices, we can never really forget.  Of course, we can push it all to the back of our minds, and we may need to do this, at times, to endure the enormity of what is involved.

“But the earth itself will remind us, as will our children, and the animals and the forests and the sky and the rivers, that we are part of this earth, and it is part of us.  All things are deeply connected, and so the choices we make in our daily lives have enormous influence, not only on our own health and vitality, but also on the lives of other beings, and indeed on the destiny of life on earth.

“Thankfully, we have cause to be grateful — what’s best for us personally is also best for other forms of life, and for the life support systems on which we all depend.

“The Indians who dwelt for countless centuries in what we now call the United States lived in harmony with the land and with nature.  Their societies were each unique, yet all were founded on a reverence for life that conserved nature rather than destroying it, and which lived in balance with what we today call the ecosystem.  To them, it was all the work of God.  Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every humming insect was holy.

“When the white man forced them to make the ultimate sacrifice and sell their land, the great Chief Seattle spoke for his people and asked one thing in return.  He did not ask something for himself, nor for his tribe, nor even for the Indian people.  There were, of course, many things of immense importance he must have wanted at such a time.  He could have asked for more blankets, horses, or food.  He could have asked that the ancestral burial grounds be respected.  He could have asked many things for himself or for his people.  But what stood above all else in importance had to do with the relationship between humans and other animals.  His one request was as prophetic as it was plain:

I will make one condition. The white man must treat the beasts of this land as his brothers. For whatever happens to the beasts soon happens to man. All things are connected.

“Chief Seattle spoke for a people whose bond with the natural world was unimaginably profound.  Yet the white man called them savages, and utterly disregarded his plea. The factory farms that produce today’s meats, dairy products and eggs are living testimony to how totally we have disdained the one condition he made.

“The white man thought Chief Seattle an ignorant savage.  But he was a prophet whose wisdom and eloquence arose from living contact with Creation.  And his words are astoundingly similar to those of a book written long, long ago.  The Bible, too, tells us the fates of humans and animals are intimately intertwined.

“For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth the beasts.
Even one thing befalleth them:
as the one dieth, so dieth the other;
yea they have all one breath,
so that a man hath no pre-eminence above a beast.

—Ecclesiastes 3:19

“Chief Seattle did not know that centuries before a book called the Bible had spoken in words almost identical to his own.  But he spoke on behalf of life itself, and the wisdom of the ages poured through him.  Today, when we have strayed so very far from an ethical relationship to other creatures and to the welfare of the world we share, his message remains with us as a light of immeasurable brilliance.  Never before has the truth of his words been so apparent:

“One thing we know;
Our God is the same,
This earth is precious to Him…
This we know:
The earth does not belong to man:
Man belongs to the earth.
This we know:
All things are connected
Like the blood which unites one family.
All things are connected.
Whatever befalls the earth
Befalls the sons of the earth.
Man did not weave the web of life.
He is merely a strand in it.
Whatever he does to the web,
He does to himself.”

http://www.all-creatures.org/murti/art-web-of-life.html

Disrespect for the earth and her cycles, ignorance and/or disregard of the dangers of polluting her land, atmosphere and waters that leads to environmental devastation ranks right up there with war. Both have a devastating effect on our planet, and thus humanity itself. There is a growing need to re-sanctify the web of life and the interconnectedness of all things. Sadly, many believe we are already running out of time.

If you are concerned about the fate of our Mother, the Earth, and live in the Sacramento Area, then join us for:

Grandmother Spider and Other Ancestral Native American Mother Archetypes
Presented by Circle with the Divine Feminine
Wednesday, August 16, 2017
6:30 to 8:30 PM
Blossoming Paths, 10227 Fair Oaks Blvd, Fair Oaks Village, CA

For more info contact Blossoming Path at 916-962-1469
Or Joy at 415-819-8769 or email joy@joyreichard.com

Grandmother Spider, or Spider Woman, appears in the origin stories of many Native American groups. She is just one of many ancestral Native American mother archetypes that you will be introduced to during this presentation. Legends and stories were important in Native American cultures because they helped Native American adapt and connect deeply to both the natural and supernatural worlds.

Please join us next Wednesday, Aug 16, to learn about Grandmother Spider and other Native American Mother Archetypes, to discover the importance of having a deeper rapport with the Great Mother, the Earth, and to experience a meditation that will strengthen your connection to the Web of Life.

John Robbins is considered by many to be one of the most eloquent and powerful spokespersons in the world for a sane, ethical and sustainable future. He has been a featured and keynote speaker at major conferences sponsored by Physicians for Social Responsibility, Beyond War, Oxfam, the Sierra Club, the Humane Society of the United States, the United Nations Environmental Program, UNICEF, and many other organizations dedicated to creating a healthy, just, and sustainable way of life. https://www.johnrobbins.info/

 

 

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More Tips for Staying Positive Through Tough Times

Last week I mentioned that at one time my attitude was so toxic that it literally polluted my life. Fortunately I had an epiphany that enabled me to realize that I was the source of my own misery. I was able to change my attitude and thus my life. I was still going through a difficult time, but my change in attitude helped me find solutions and improve my situation almost miraculously.

If you are going through a tough time, remember that you always have a choice no matter what the circumstance may be. And the choice is this:

You can either choose to let worry and upset fester at the expense of your life and well-being. Or, you can choose to see your situation in perspective, stay positive, and let go of anxiety and apprehension.

Sounds good, but how do you withstand those huge waves of negativity, let alone stay positive under the weight of an overwhelming challenge? Last week I gave 5 tips to help shift your attitude. You can read those HERE. Here are 5 more suggestions to consider:

6. Get enough sleep. During a stressful time, you might be tempted to skip on sleep, either voluntarily or not. But in reality, plenty of good quality sleep during a stressful time is even more important that the time you will gain by skimping. Adequate sleep will help you remain energetic, clear-headed and focused so that you’re able to figure out your next steps. When tired you’re more easily irritated and impatient, and you’re more likely to make mistakes or use poor judgment.

7. Limit bad news intake. Being constantly fed with gloomy news is enough to make even a dog panic for no reason. Today’s TV news is full of doom and gloom. Somedays it’s a virtual reality show of misadventures. Though it may seem entertaining, it can also be depressing and erode your positive attitude. Keep bad news, especially TV news, to a minimum as much as you can.

8. Join forces with others. When bad things happen, it is easy to become close-minded. But chances are, you are not alone during difficult times. There are likely to be many people who feel the same way as you do even though they may not voice this out loud. For instance, if you are worried about job security, recruit the help of your boss by discussing the implications of the crisis on your job and what you can best do to keep it. Your boss will appreciate your proactive approach and may even be glad that there is someone who shares the same sentiment. If you are unemployed, besides making trips to recruitment and government agencies to cast your employment net, connect with others who are in the same boat as you. Take this lull period to expand your network. The many talented friends that you will make during hard times could become lifetime friendships, and even turn into unexpected help in the future. And if you are an employer, this is a great time to boost your business with skillful and experienced people to help you ride out the crisis.

9. Get close to nature. Finnish researchers found that spending time in your favorite outdoor area and woodlands are more relaxing and restorative than time spent in your favorite urban settings or city parks. Taking a meditative walk through the woods is also a great way to clear the mind and regain mental balance.

10. Re-evaluate the meaning of your life. Tough times present hard but valuable lessons that can force us to re-evaluate the meanings we have been attaching to our lives. When facing adversity ask yourself:

• Are the meanings and goals I’ve been living by before this difficult time really worthwhile?
• Through this challenge, what are the things that I’ve found to be really important?
• And, what are those things that are not as important as what I once thought they were?

I’ve been through my share of difficult times. None of them were any fun! Yet, when I look back at those times I realize that they have been the source of some of my greatest insights and biggest lessons. I do believe it is possible to learn our lessons through ease and grace, but until that time, I find that maintaining a positive attitude helps me to find solutions more easily so I can more consistently live a joyful life.

I would like to leave you with these words from Viktor Frankl, the world-renowned psychiatrist who wrote Man’s Search for Meaning:

“Man is not free from conditions. But he is free to take a stand in regard to them. The conditions do not completely condition him. Within limits it is up to him whether or not he succumbs and surrenders to the conditions. He may as well rise above them and by so doing open up and enter the human dimension… Ultimately, man is not subject to the conditions that confront him; rather, these conditions are subject to his decision. Wittingly or unwittingly, he decides whether he will face up or give in, whether or not he will let himself be determined by the conditions.” 
— An excerpt from Psychotherapy and Existentialism

May your spirit grow stronger in the face of crisis!

If you are challenged with negative thinking, then contact Joy for a complimentary consultation to find out how your can reframe your thinking and live a more positive and happy life. Contact Joy at 415-819-8769 or email me today!

 

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Tips for Staying Positive During Tough Times

“Happiness is a choice, not a result. Nothing can make you happy until you choose to be happy. No person can make you happy unless you decide to be happy. Your happiness will not come to you. It can only come from you.” – Ralph Marston

This quote hit a chord with me. At one time I was going through a tough time that mired me in negativity. I was so negative that I was literally toxic, polluting everything that I came in contact with. Then I had an awakening and realized that the negativity was not happening to me, but I was creating it. Making a decision to change my attitude and strive for a more positive attitude changed my life for the better.

If you are going through a tough time, remember that you always have a choice no matter what the circumstance may be. And the choice is this:

You can either choose to let worry and upset fester at the expense of your life and well-being. Or, you can choose to see your situation in perspective, stay positive, and let go of anxiety and apprehension.

Sounds good, but how do you withstand those huge waves of negativity, let alone stay positive under the weight of overwhelming challenges? Here are a few suggestions to consider:

  1. Quit being a victim. Unfortunately, it’s seems easier to assume the role of a victim during tough times rather than taking responsibilities for yourself. By doing so, however, you will only prolong your suffering, and you might even put off people who may be able to help you. Letting go of the victim label also frees you from resentment and bitterness which can squash the creative energies you need to get out of the mess.

 

  1. Take stock with meditation. Meditate on what really happened and your response to the crisis. Learn to see the situation for what it really is. Begin by practicing breathing meditation, and then ask yourself: Take time to also contemplate on the nature of any prior crises. This will help you realize that that each challenge has a distinct beginning and end, and may even exhibit a cyclical trend. This can take some of the sting out of your current crisis.

“What has really happened in spite of what has been reported? Are my fears and worries real or imaginary? If they are real, what can I do about them?”

Take time to also contemplate on the nature of any prior crises. This will help you realize that that each challenge has a distinct beginning and end, and may even exhibit a cyclical trend. This can take some of the sting out of your current crisis.

 

  1. Focus on the positives. No matter how dire a situation may be, there are always some positives you can find in it. It is our unwillingness to look for them that blinds us to the brighter sides. One of my friends, Aaron Parnell, always tries to see what good thing can come out of any challenge or crisis he has faced. And he’s always found something good. It’s helped him to stay positive during some difficult situations. I’ve started modeling this behavior in my own life which has resulted in my coming up with some amazing insights and an overall more positive frame of mind.

 

  1. Give thanks. As you learn how to seek out the positives in every situation, then you can give thanks for the current situation as well as the things that you already have. For one, things could be much worse! It’s not always easy to be thankful in the face of a serious challenge. But focusing on what you do have, however, instead of what you’ve lost, will put you in a better position to solve any immediate problem rather than wasting time wallowing in worry and self-pity.

 

  1. Reach out to others. Do you know of people who are suffering because of some crisis? Some may have lost their jobs; or have suffered huge loss; or have a serious illness, or have a loved one who is seriously ill; or maybe there was a death in the family. Talk to them, listen compassionately, and if it is within your ability and means, offer your help, however small your offer may be. Helping others who are less fortunate than you also helps you to put things in perspective. And who knows, they may be the ones who are able to lend you a helping hand when the tables are turned at some point in the future.

 

There is no denying it; we are going through some challenging times that are affecting many of us personally, nationally and globally. Some are finding it hard to stay positive and cope. Next week I will offer more tips for staying positive during tough times.

… Adapted from 10 Ways to Stay Positive During Tough Times from https://theconsciouslife.com/stay-positive-tough-times.htm

 

If you are challenged with negative thinking, then contact Joy for a complimentary consultation to find out how your can reframe your thinking and live a more positive and happy life. Contact Joy at 415-819-8769 or email her today!

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Whose Thoughts Are They Anyway?

Why do I have to work so hard for everything I get?

Better be on guard, for the next bad thing is sure to happen.

Why can’t I ever get ahead?

Do these kinds of thoughts weave their way through your mind? If so, are they even yours? Or are they stray thoughts picked up from the mass collective that pervade the space around us just like air molecules?

I am beginning to have some serious questions about the source of many of my negative thoughts. In reality I have a pretty good life. I am doing the work I love. I have clients who value my skills, knowledge and experience. I was able to get the education I wanted and benefit from that knowledge. I live in a beautiful place where I feel safe. I have great friends and communities. My family is doing well. I have financial resources that enable me to do the things I really want to do.

YET… I still fall into that victim negative thinking of not having enough, or being enough!

When I stop and count my blessings, I realize that I really have a lot. My gratitude list is quite long. Why, then, do I keep cycling into negative thinking?

I am beginning to realize that some of those thoughts just aren’t mine, even though they pervade my thinking and pull me down just as if they were mine.

Some of those thoughts I can trace back to my parents. Both grew up during the depression. My mother repeatedly told the story of having to give back all her Christmas gifts when she was four because her parents lost all their money when the stock market crashed. They couldn’t pay off their debts and everything had to go back, even her favorite new purse. My father grew up on the farm with an outhouse and no electricity. He worked hard on that farm even though he was just a child. Both my parents suffered from what I call “depression mentality.”

My parents probably had many legitimate reasons for harboring thoughts about life being hard, and money being hard to come by. This was their experience, and I honor their experience. But their experience is not my reality! I’m learning to recognize the limiting thoughts of my parents, to separate their thoughts from my thoughts, and to mentally “send them back” to my parents. I don’t have to continue carrying the burden of my parents’ experience!

If your parents have passed on their own limiting thoughts, then you can send them back also. We all have enough going on right now in the present. We don’t need to dredge up the past, especially if it’s a past that belonged to our parents.

Sometimes we create a contract with our parents promising to suffer from the same burdens they did. It’s time to tear up those contracts and send back, or delete them – each thought one by one.

As soon as you recognize a negative thought as belonging to your parent, or anyone else, mentally stop, gather it up, and send it back. You can imagine emailing it back through the ethers, or burning it in a transmuting violet flame, or you can even put it in a bottle and throw it into an imaginary sea. Simple visuals like these will help you contain those thoughts that piggyback onto yours and release them. This practice will help you make more room for your own thoughts which are probably much more positive – much like my own present time thoughts are.

Our parents influence the development of our belief systems and how we operate in the world. Many times this is positive. Sometimes, however, we pick up some negative debris that we just need to purge. If you have trouble letting go of the experiences, thoughts and beliefs of your parents, or the mass consciousness in general, give me a call and come in for a complementary consultation. It is time to embrace the present and to be the master of your thoughts. Call Joy at 415-819-8769 or email joy@joyreichard.com.

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When You’re in a Low Mood – Chill!

When you’re in a high 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 blinking cursor. New research is beginning to show how happiness isn’t just an emotional experience, but an emotion that can shape the way you perceive the world.

Your mood can impact your relationship
Your mood can also impact your relationship because it can augment or warp your good feelings towards your partner. When you’re in a high mood you tend to feel happier. Thus, your feelings toward your partner tend to be more positive. Any differences feel manageable, insignificant, or irrelevant. When in a low mood, however, these same differences can seem insurmountable, painful, and even deal breakers.

When your partner is in a low mood, you might think you have to understand why and fix it! In reality all you need to do is offer support when he or she is feeling low. This is largely because moods are constantly swinging back and forth as on a continuum. Moods are dynamic. They can change quickly, or slowly over time. That’s how moods work.

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 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 has to work late so I can go home and relax.” 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 and succumb to the fear that the mood is real and will last forever. When high you might spend your time worrying about when “the other shoe will drop!” Or you can 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 have more ideas than I can use.

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 for when we suffer another low mood.

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 south 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 warped by their mood.

If they are verbally abusive or disrespectful, wait until their mood has shifted to address it. Before doing so refer to my blog on Compassionate Communication for directions on how to communicate your feelings and needs in a compassionate way. Resist temptation to fight with your partner during a low mood, or to resign yourself to being treated poorly.

Remember, moods can shift from moment to moment. Be patient and 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!

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What Is More Important Than Success?

Success comes and goes, but integrity is forever!

Integrity means doing the right thing at all times and in all circumstances, whether or not anyone is watching. It takes courage at times to do the right thing. Sometimes the consequences of doing the right thing can be brutal. It wasn’t easy for those who stood up for the Jews during WWII, nor was it easy for those who stood up for the rights of all during the early days of the Civil Rights movement. The initial rewards may be the knowledge that you can live with yourself because you stood up for what you believed in.

Building a reputation of integrity takes years. Yet it takes only a second to lose it! Never allow yourself to ever do anything that would damage your integrity.

We live in a world where integrity isn’t talked about nearly enough. We live in a world where “the end justifies the means” has become an acceptable school of thought for far too many. Sales people overpromise and under deliver, all in the name of making their quota for the month. Applicants exaggerate in job interviews because they desperately need a job. Partners tell a white lie because telling the truth may start an unpleasant argument. Customer service representatives cover up a mistake they made because they are afraid the client will leave them. Employees call in “sick” because they don’t have any more paid time off when they actually just need to get their Christmas shopping done. The list could go on and on, and in each case the person committing the act of dishonesty told themselves they had a perfectly valid reason why the end result justified their lack of integrity.

Sometimes people think they can get ahead or gain power quickly and easily if they just cut a few corners and act ‘outside the constraints of morality’. Dishonesty may provide instant gratification in the short term, but it never lasts. I had one person who was close to me who told a series of white lies to keep in my good graces. Eventually, of course, I wised up to his white lies. When I realized I couldn’t believe anything he told me, it undermined our relationship. It disintegrated because there was nothing left to hold it together.

People will be able to get so far without integrity, but eventually the truth will be found out. Then that person has lost their ability to be trusted. Integrity is the most valuable quality anyone can have in their life. Profit in dollars or power is temporary, but profit in a network of people who trust you as a person of integrity is forever.

Every individual who trusts you will spread the word to at least a few of their friends, family members and associates – the word of your character will spread like wildfire. The value of the trust others have in you is immeasurable.  For entrepreneurs it means investors that are willing to trust them with their money. For employees it means a manager or a boss that is willing to trust them with additional responsibility and growth opportunities. For companies it means customers that trust giving them more and more business. For you it means having an assortment of people that are willing to go the extra mile to help you because they know that recommending you to others will never bring damage to their own reputation of integrity. Yes, the value of the trust others have in YOU goes beyond anything that can be measured. It goes beyond immediate success because it opens doors to more opportunities and endless possibilities.

Speaking your truth and standing up for what is right can be challenging and take courage. If you need help with stepping into your power and potential please contact Joy today for a complimentary 30 minute consultation. Email Joy or call Joy today at 415-819-8769.

Adapted from a Forbes article by Amy Rees Anderson 
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Deepening Connection Through Compassionate Communication

When we pay attention to the words we use and how we use them, we can improve and deepen our relationships with others.

Let’s imagine you have a friend, let’s call her Sally, who is quick to give unsolicited advice when all you want is a sympathetic ear to a troubling situation in your life. Every time this happens you feel frustrated and annoyed. You might want to lash out at Sally, or you might realize you don’t want to share anything with Sally again. Then you may start to feel guilty because you know that Sally has a good heart and is only trying to help, even if you don’t welcome her advice.

When a person or situation triggers disagreeable emotions, then feelings of resentment and negativity can arise. These negative emotions are a reflexive response that helps us protect our egos. Yet it also causes us to avoid the hard work of examining our own emotions and culpability. In addition, the trouble with resentment and bad feelings is that it usually makes unpleasant situations even worse.

When we’re able to pause before we react and take the time to identify what’s going on beneath any confrontational feelings or responses, then we can approach the situation with more compassion and understanding.

We can learn how to do this by practicing compassionate communication, an approach to speaking and listening that helps us respond to others more effectively in even the most difficult situations. Practicing compassionate communication promotes deeper connections with loved ones, more harmonious relationships and a greater sense of inner peace.

Compassionate Communication Protocol

Compassionate communication was created by clinical psychologist Marshall B. Rosenberg, author of Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life. Rosenberg’s technique for communicating compassionately relies on four core steps:

  1. Observe the situation and then state your observation without judgment.
  2. State the emotional response you are having to that observation.
  3. Connect to what you need that isn’t being addressed.
  4. Make a reasonable request from the other person.
Let’s return to the situation with Sally to help us put this protocol into action. You are sharing with Sally what has upset you. Once again she starts to give advice on how you should handle the situation. You notice that you are beginning to feel annoyed and resentful. Rather than allowing these negative feelings to fester you can:

Observe the situation and then state your observation without judgment.

Sally, I’m noticing that when I share with you something that is bothering me you are quick to give me advice on how I should handle the situation.

State the emotional response you are having to that observation.

When you do this, I notice that I start to feel annoyed and frustrated.

Connect to what you are needing that isn’t being addressed.

What I really need from you is not advice, but a sympathetic ear. I need to know that I am being heard, and that you really care about me and what I am going through.

Make a reasonable request from the other person.

In the future when I share something with you, it would mean a lot to me if you would just listen and offer me some understanding and sympathy.

Humans share several core needs, including autonomy, physical nurturance, connection and respect. Most of our communication is an attempt to meet one of those needs. When we can connect to our emotions and ascertain when and what needs are not being met, then we can communicate those needs to others and ask for what we need.

In my experience, people want to feel genuinely connected to others, to be helpful, and to share and receive care and concern. No one wants to push our friends and loved ones away, creating separation and bad feelings. It’s just that many of us have learned some unhelpful ways of how to communicate. Most people are only too happy to offer you what you need; they just need to know what that is. Often they need us to spell it out for them.

Learning to communicate compassionately takes some practice, but the shift in the dynamic between two people when we make the effort to communicate with compassion can create greater understanding and lead to increased connection and genuine care and concern. Everyone benefits!

If you are having trouble with your communication with your friends and loved ones, please contact Joy to find out how she can help you communicate with greater compassion. Joy offers a complimentary 30-minute consultation. Contact Joy to schedule a consultation today. Call 415-819-8769 or email Joy today.
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Are you experiencing a toxic relationship?

Are you experiencing a toxic relationship?

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 is an article that you might find helpful that was recently published in Yes Magazine. It was shared with me by my friend Marty Maskall.

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. 
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I Have to Make You Understand!

When I was younger, I felt a need to express whatever was on my mind just to make sure my partner knew what I was thinking and feeling. This was especially true when I was frustrated, upset or angry at them. I believed in the myth that communication was key! It always improved the quality of a relationship.

What I’ve learned the hard way over the 60+ years of my life is that “positive” communication can deepen the feelings between two people. “Negative” communication, however, can be damaging and create barriers to intimacy, especially if it is a large part of the communication that’s going on in a relationship.

When people have critical or judgmental feelings for each other and spend the majority of time expressing them, it doesn’t clear the air and bring clarity. Instead it can act as a wedge that drives people further apart. One famous relationship expert, George S. Pransky, wrote, “Communication is a pipe through which feelings pass. If the feelings are positive, the relationship will be uplifted. If they are negative, the couple’s level of closeness will drop.”

Many of my clients who are experiencing ‘challenges’ in their relationships don’t realize that it’s positive feelings and a sense of appreciation and goodwill that brings closeness between couples. Not More Talk! And these good feelings can be expressed in many more innovative ways than through just talking.

It’s as if there is a relationship bank account. Feelings are the deposits and withdrawals. When there is a lot of goodwill and positive feelings toward each other, deposits are made. Communication and actions expressing ill will (frustration, anger, irritation, criticism) are withdrawals. As a matter of fact, there is no such thing as a productive discussion that alienates people!

A rule of thumb I suggest to my clients is that if they or their partner are in a bad mood, to hold off on any deep conversations. Wait until both of you are feeling calmer and more objective.

If you’re still bothered by the issue after calming down, then bring it up preferably in a composed, non-confrontational manner. Focus on how your partner’s behavior or comments made you feel. Then let them know how a different approach would make you feel better.

If you find that after 5-10 minutes things are not getting better, and are in fact getting worse, then just STOP THE CONVERSATION and try again later. Talking an issue to death will not make things better, and will most likely intensify feelings of ill-will.

I wish I knew this nugget of wisdom two marriages ago!

Troubled relationships are one of the most common reasons why a client comes to see me. If you’re having difficulties in your relationship and can’t seem to make things better, then give me a call to schedule a 30-minute complementary consultation to see how I might be able to help. Contact me TODAY or call 415-819-8769. For more information about my services go to JoyReichard.com.
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Where are the Good Stewards?

Whether you are a Creationist or a Darwinist or anywhere in between, I think we can all agree that our planet’s very existence is a miracle. Our human evolution up to this moment in time is even more so. Life on Earth is a gift. Yet we aren’t taking very good care of it.

Is it our right to dominate the earth, as many of our forefathers thought? Or are we supposed to be the good stewards?

To be a steward is to be tasked with the job of looking after someone or something. At one time the abundance of the earth seemed limitless. Land was for the taking. Now humans have taken over, and pollution is everywhere! Even our oceans have become huge waste disposal sites, with waste washing up on shore or collecting in big swirls of garbage on the surface of the ocean.

This is why I believe our relationship to the earth should shift from “dominion over” to being the “Good Stewards” of the Earth.

Our relationship with Earth is so important that all religions put emphasis on looking after the planet. It is also a finely balanced relationship which is why, now that we are taking too much from the planet, environmental systems are starting to collapse. Even one of the world major religious leaders, Pope Francis, stated (paraphrased):

The human family has received from the Creator a common gift: nature. We are called to exercise a responsible stewardship over nature. Yet so often we are driven by greed and by the arrogance of dominion, possession, manipulation and exploitation … we do not preserve nature, nor do we respect it or consider it a gracious gift which we must care for and set at the service of our brothers and sisters, including future generations…

The notion of Stewardship is non-denominational, however. It applies to any and every person who lives, works and breathes upon the planet regardless of what religion they do, or do not, subscribe to.  It is a duty that we all have. There is no denying that we are going to have to make some sacrifices if we are to rectify the problems we have caused as a species. Yet that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the beauty of nature or engage in the fun, joy or sense of adventure while we relearn how to live without negatively impacting our planet.

We all crave peace. We, humanity, have had our fill of war and the inhumanity and devastation it brings.  Peace and Stewardship go hand-in-hand, mutually influencing the other.  We cannot be Good Stewards of the planet if we are not first at peace within ourselves (the peaceful seek only to cherish, uplift and nurture, not destroy). What follows is the realization that a big part of creating a peaceful world also lies in valuing our relationship to nature and to each other. When we appreciate what the earth has to offer, and truly understand the inter-relationship of ourselves to nature and each other, then we know that an offense to another being, or to any part of our planet, is an offense to ourselves.

Despite all our material advances in living conditions we are, both in evolutionary and spiritual terms, still creatures of the Earth. We are still intimately connected to the energetic web of life. Our actions matter!  Our actions have consequences. We think we are smarter than the earth, but we are not. There is a popular saying: “God always forgives, we sometimes forgive, but when nature – creation – is mistreated, she never forgives!”

It’s time to rethink our relationship to our planet and to become the Good Stewards. It will take each one of us to be the change that will save our planet, and ourselves.
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