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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As children we buy into the beliefs of our parents. Sometimes those beliefs can be real downers such as: “Life never promised you a rose garden,” or “You only get ahead from hard work and effort,” or “I’m always waiting for the other shoe to fall,” or “Bad things always happen to us.”

In my family the belief was the “hard work and effort” litany of good German stock immigrants. Sure enough, a large part of my life has been hard work and effort, not because the validity of that belief, but because I bought into that belief.

I had a revelation several years ago that “life’s lessons can be learned with ease and grace.” I’ve been reflecting on that thought and, slowly, it has been integrating into my belief system. The result? … My life has gotten easier and more joyful.

Last week I wrote about accessing your Inner Wisdom. By allowing space in your life for quiet moments you gain access to the more reflective and wiser part of your mind. In our fast-paced, results-oriented society you may think you are getting a lot done. You could be even more innovative and productive, however, if you gave yourself permission to rest more and reflect. Then you could have more “revelations.”

Revelations are messages from your Inner Wisdom, which is directly connected to the highest source of consciousness in the universe. Some might call this consciousness Higher Power, God, Goddess, the Divine, The All That Is. The Divine communicates to us through our Inner Wisdom, which is also sometimes called the Higher Self or the Wise Mind.

One way you can actively engage your Inner Wisdom is to stop and take a step back when you are faced with a challenging situation. Then you can view the situation from a larger perspective. Going through two divorces and raising two sons (who, though awesome men now of whom I’m very proud, were more than a bit of a hand full as teenagers) was tough!  At that time, life was pretty miserable.  I thought life was nothing but drama, pain, and struggle.

Eventually, I was able to step back and view my life from the bigger picture. What I saw was not a wretched dead-beat drama-queen, but a woman who faced many difficult challenges, including her own vulnerabilities and character flaws, from which she learned invaluable life lessons. That was a time of huge personal and spiritual growth for me. Now, I not only draw on my training, education and skills when I work with my clients, or mentor women in my group work, but I also have a vast storehouse of life experience and understanding from which to tap into. My life was not just a miserable existence; it was my training ground preparing me for my life’s work.

You actively engage your Inner Wisdom when you step back from any situation and ask, “What can I learn from this situation?” or “What good thing can come out of this situation?”

I’ve come to realize that we didn’t incarnate to play in the “Rose Garden.” We came here to learn some pretty important lessons during our embodied walk upon this earth-plane.  You can learn those lessons with a lot more ease and grace, however, if you take time to stop and rest. Give yourself some quiet time to reflect and allow your Inner Wisdom to come through. This will enable you to step back and ask the serious questions of “Why is this happening?” Be honest with yourself as you search within for the answers.  Then you can reap the reward – the gold nugget – the lessons you can learn from your experience.

Look for my article next month on “Accessing Your Inner Wisdom Part Three” in which I will share on how your emotions are a big part of your inner wisdom and should be given more weight when making important decisions.

If you feel you are stuck in the drama and misery of your life and can’t find your way out, then give me a call today and request a 30-minute complimentary consultation. You deserve a more joyful and satisfying life.  415-819-8769 or email me TODAY!

Do you feel as if you’re constantly running from one thing to the next?

Are you too busy to even make that important “To-Do” list?

Do feel torn between the many choices and decisions you must make?

Then you’re probably so caught up in the immediate minutia of your life that you aren’t taking the necessary time needed to step back and get the bigger picture. When you can see the bigger picture of your life, then everything begins to make sense. The non-essentials naturally begin to fall away and you can focus on what truly matters.

The earth plane has been called “dense.”  It’s as if we live under a veil of unknowing. Therefore we tend to operate “blind,” taking action – or not – hoping all the time that we are making the best move.

Once in a while, however, the veil lifts and we have one of those “Ah Ha” revelations – those moments of insight when the pieces start falling into place, completing the puzzle that’s confounded us for days, weeks, sometimes even months. Sometimes we receive greater understanding of a situation, or a person, or the “big picture” of our life, or even of the universe. This is our inner wisdom speaking to us.

Treasure these moments of revelations! Everything becomes clearer when we have them. Don’t you wish you could have them more often? The truth is, you can! Your inner wisdom is available to you whenever you need it.

Our society is based on “doing,” “results,” and “productivity.” Too little value is placed on taking time to “be” – to slow down and go into silence. This is when our inner wisdom can flow through the veil of “not-knowing” into our consciousness.

Let’s face it, though. We’re all too busy – so busy we’re often hyped up and can’t slow down. When we have a quiet moment, instead of connecting with our inner wisdom, we grab our cell phones to see what tidbit of information or connection it has for us. We hardly ever let our minds just coast.

Thomas Edison, one of America’s greatest inventors, knew the value of quiet moments. He frequently took “little naps.” Sometimes, when he was challenged with one of his inventions, he would rock in his rocking chair with ball-bearings in his hand. When he drifted off the ball-bearings would drop on the floor and wake him up. That moment of lucid thought before falling asleep often generated a brilliant idea, or the solution to the problem he was contemplating. These are moments of revelation!

You can have those moments too. It just means slowing down, letting yourself daydream, spend quiet moments looking at the sunset, or a beautiful view, or taking a quiet walk in nature. It means taking moments to relax without the TV, the cell phone, the iPad, or the computer.  Just sit in silence!

A great way to create space for silence is to set aside 5 to 20 minutes a day. Just sit quietly, taking deep, slow breaths. The only thing you do is follow your breathing. If your mind is busy, you can try silently saying a word or phrase such as “peace,” “letting go,” “serenity,” or the Sanskrit word “Om.”  If your mind strays, just pull it back to focusing on your breath. This practice actually strengthens your mind and improves concentration and focus.

When we quiet our bodies and let our minds free float, not only do we give ourselves valuable time to de-stress, but we also begin to let our inner wisdom flow into our consciousness for revelations.

After you become accustomed to sitting in silence, you’ll find that your inner wisdom will begin to offer up insight, help with decisions, and strengthen inner resources so you can confront life’s many challenges with greater calm and clarity.

Look for my article next month on “Accessing Your Inner Wisdom Part Two” in which I will share tips on how to actively engage with your inner wisdom to enhance your life.

If the busyness and stress of your life is depriving you of the well-being and happiness you deserve, please give me a call today and request a 30-minute complimentary consultation.  Call Joy 415-819-8769 or email me.

We can always choose to perceive things differently. You can focus on what’s wrong in your life,
or you can focus on what’s right. – Marianne Williamson

 

Once upon a time, I was a negative person. I was very reactive and went wherever my mind took me. Sometimes that was down a deep rabbit hole of what 12-step programs call “Stinking Thinking.”

The lens through which we view our lives can influence the situations in which we find ourselves. Positive thoughts can create more positive circumstances. Conversely, negative thoughts often fuel increased dissatisfaction and disappointment.

Before I discovered hypnotherapy and metaphysics, I was stuck viewing life through a negative lens. Now I know, and teach my clients, that your mind is a muscle. We have the ability to create our own reality. Each one of us is in charge of our thinking. If we can change our thoughts, and our attitude, we can literally change our lives.

I have included some negative thinking behaviors below. By becoming aware of your negative thinking behaviors you can begin to change your thoughts and create a happier and more peaceful life for yourself.

 

1.  Avoid “black and white” or “all or nothing’ thinking.

When we view people and/or situations as “black and white” or “all or nothing” we do ourselves, and the people we encounter, a great disservice. Our perspective is rigid and narrow. There is not much room for interpretation, flexibility, or negotiation. In reality things are often more gray and, if we allow for it, can offer a fresh perspective from which more options can be realized.

Words like always, never, impossible, terrible and perfect are examples of “all or nothing” thinking that can trap us in a handicapped and limited way of perceiving the world. It can lead to an emotionally unbalanced perspective of the circumstances we might find ourselves in.

Here are some statements that offer more “grey”:

Even though I sometimes do dumb things I am still an intelligent and competent person.
Even though I love my partner, sometimes I find him extremely frustrating.
Even though I like parts of my job, there are other parts that I find boring.

2. Stay away from exaggerations and over-generalizations.
“You are always late.” “You are always so critical.” “I can never do anything right.” These are examples of over-generalized or exaggerated statements. The telltale signs of an exaggerated statement includes worlds like never, always, should or everybody. Over-generalized statements are a form of negative thinking. They are accusatory and can create discord in a relationship. A way to reframe, “You are always so critical,” might be to say, “At this moment I am experiencing you as being quite critical of me. I have noticed in the past that you are frequently quick to criticize, but seldom voice your approval. I would appreciate it if you would spend more time applauding me for the things I do well.”

The second statement is more truthful and less exaggerated. As a result, it can lead to a more positive outcome.

3. Is it more important to be right or happy?
There are some people who seem to have a need to be right. This can lead to an argumentative attitude and can create discord in their relationships. There are some issues that deserve our full commitment. But there are others that in the larger scheme of things aren’t worth fighting about.

For instance, I have some political and spiritual convictions that are very different from the rest of my family. I could engage in heated debates and bring discord to our time together. However, I love my family. I don’t get to spend as much time with them as I would like. I find we have plenty of things in common to talk about. I would rather spend my time strengthening our bond than arguing about who is on the “right” political or religious side.

To find peace, happiness and closeness we sometimes need to just let things go. I can still maintain my convictions without having to argue about them.

4. What is the good in that bad thing that just happened?
I have a friend who has had a lot of adversity. Yet he is one of the most positive people I know. His secret – he always tries to find the good in whatever bad thing happens to him.

We can choose to have a positive or a negative mental filter. Persistent pessimism can become a habit if we aren’t careful. Chronic negative thinking can become the lens through which we view the world – the proverbial glass that is half empty.

Too often we think that we are supposed to have a perfect life of success and happiness. The reality is that we learn our lessons and grow wise though the challenges we face during our walk upon the earth. It is not the challenges we face that counts; it is how we choose to view and deal with them. We can claim victimhood (and there was a time when I played the damsel in distress!), or we can figure out what resources we have and work towards a resolution. When we do the later, the lessons we learn and the resiliency and inner strength we build is invaluable.

I had two friends. Both were laid off when their companies closed. One went into a depression, coping with alcohol and prescriptions drugs. He lived a wasted life. The other, though also depressed, drew on her resources, developed a strategy for getting back on her feet, followed through with her plans, and is now a much happier and fulfilled person. She found the good in the bad thing that happened to her. So can you!

5. Don’t should on yourself.
When we should on ourselves we are passing judgment, often negative ones, about our actions and behaviors.

When we say things like “I should make more money, I should have made better choices, or I should have done better in school, we are only seeing the negative and are unable to see what might be positive. Should statements put our thoughts and attitudes in a box and constrain us from seeing other options. When we are stuck in the negative we are out of balance; our perspective is skewed.

In reality, we often make choices based on what we know at a given time, or on what resources or abilities we have at the time. I have found that people are generally trying to do the best that they can in any moment. Blaming ourselves for lack of knowledge, or ability, or resources is pointless and debilitating. It would be better to replace the should with something more positive like, “I did the best that I could with the skills, knowledge and ability that I had at the time.” This is a more supportive and truthful statement.

6. Celebrate.
We seldom take time to give ourselves a much needed and deserved pat on the back. We go from one achievement to another with hardly a moment to recognize what we have accomplished.

When we stop after a productive day, a productive session with a client, or a meaningful conversation with a child and tell ourselves we did a “good job,” it affirms that we are OK. That we have value. That we are successful in our lives.

It is important to celebrate the good things when they happen. Setbacks do and will happen. Challenges and obstacles will present themselves. This fact makes it all the more important to stop and congratulate ourselves for our success no matter how small. Emotional health is about balance and realizing that good things do happen. Remembering this can help us to deal more effectively and have hope when we are challenged.

If you are struggling with negative thinking that is keeping you stuck in unhappiness and disappointment, then give Joy a call to find out how you can create a happier more fulfilling life for yourself. Call 415-819-8769 or email Joy today.

From the time we were very small we were surrounded by people bigger than us and a world filled of unknowns. We were warned about kidnappers, people who might do bad things to our bodies, about crossing the street, not taking candy from strangers, etc. Sometimes it was the very adults who were supposed to keep us safe that hurt us and are the source of some of our greatest fears and deepest wounds.

It is these underlying childhood fears that create limitations in our lives. It can be the fear of ‘not being enough’: good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, etc. Or it can be the fear of being visible from raising a hand at school or to just being in a social setting. Or it can be a fear that breeds distrust in your fellow human beings, or a fear of driving, or a fear of failure, or even of success.

These fears lie hidden in our subconscious, sometimes referred to as the Shadow Realm. As we grow up we learn to hide our fears. We develop all kinds of coping mechanisms that range from outbursts of anger, to defensiveness, or feigning submissiveness in order to protect ourselves. Or we find ways to soothe ourselves with food, drugs, video games, partying, etc. Eventually, however, our coping mechanisms stop working. Or they lead to more problems making our lives unmanageable at times. Then, when faced with situations similar to what we fear, our old wounds can be triggered and we find we’re acting like the child rather than the adult.

This is the shadow stuff that we often don’t want to look at. Yet when we take time to face our shadow stuff that is when we can discover some amazing things about ourselves. Often we find that what we have been fighting or running from is actually the source of some of the greatest lessons and wisdom. It can be a rich reservoir of information that can transform our lives in amazing ways.

This happened to me. At one time I was embittered because my whole life had turned upside down – my relationship, my job, my health, my family. It was the worst time in my life! But I was given a gift. I was shown that it was my attitude that was toxic. I was the one who was polluting everything in my life. When I made the choice to change my attitude that was when my whole life changed for the better. If I had not been willing to face my shadow, I don’t even know if I would be alive today – things had gotten that bad.

Breaking out of the old patterns requires doing shadow work. It’s about being honest with yourself and asking some of the tough questions:

  • Where do these feelings of lack and limitation come from?
  • What is the source of your feelings of loneliness?
  • How can you fill yourself up? Is your glass half empty or half full? Why?
  • How can you take responsibility for where you are in your life?
  • How can you be whole and complete with who you are?
  • How can you be more fully engaged?
  • What are your interests and passions that bring purpose and meaning to your life?
  • What are your special gifts?
  • And what can you do to bring more fullness and joy into your life?

I have found working with counselors and coaches to be very helpful. What I have come to understand is that where you put your focus is where your life expands. When you are focused on the problems, when you are focused on what is not working in a relationship or your life, then that is where you tend to ‘cycle.’ And that is what expands.

By shifting the focus to what is working ‑ to what you like about yourself, your life, your relationship, what brings you joy, what makes you feel good ‑ when you start focusing on these things, then that is when your life starts to improve.

We don’t heal by beating ourselves up and focusing on the negative. We heal by learning to have compassion for ourselves, by seeing our value, knowing we deserve, and most of all, beginning to love ourselves.

Yes, we need to work on our shadow – but not by continuing to beat ourselves up. It is time to transform that inner bully. It’s time to find compassion for ourselves knowing that we have always done the best we could with the knowledge, training, and skills we had at the time.

I’ve done lots of things that I regret in my life. I look back at some of my past experiences and think, “How could I have possibly done that?” I start to berate myself for being so stupid, unkind, or thoughtless. Then the feelings of shame start to strangle me with guilt.

This is when I make myself stop and ask, “Did I know any better at the time? Did I have access to the knowledge I have now? Did I have the skills or training that I have now?”  Usually the answer is NO! The reality is that at that time I was floundering, in a lot of personal pain, and doing the best that I could. Finally, this is when I am able to have compassion for myself and begin to heal some of the wounds from my past.

You can do the same thing. When you start beating yourself up, this is when you can start to ask some of the hard questions – not by berating yourself, but by trying to learn from your past.

  • What part did I play in creating this situation?
  • How could I have done better?
  • What can I learn from this?
  • What do I want for my life from this point forward?
  • What am I willing to invest so I can have the life that I want and deserve?

This is when you can begin to change your life for the better.

This is the benefit of working with your Shadow. Yes, looking at the past can be unpleasant. But when you look back with compassion for your younger self, then you begin to love yourself and find the courage and hope to build a better future. You deserve a great life!

If you want a better life and are struggling then give Joy a call to find out how she can help you live a more joyful life. Call 415-819-8769 or email Joy TODAY!

When I think about activism I’m taken back to my own days in the 60’s when protest marches were common place. I remember the angry arms, fists raised in the air, and loud voices over megaphones blasting out about injustices.

When I think of the spiritual activism I think of Martin Luther King and his non-violent protests that brought out the masses and lobbied for transformation and civil rights reform. I also think of Mother Teresa, that little body of fierce compassion and conviction who swayed the conscience of the powerful to support her causes.

Spiritual activism is not about religion, or even about being religious. But it is about being willing to take a part in creating change – and to play that part with the spirit of compassion, love, a sense of the interconnectedness of all beings, and the determination to stand on conviction.

Buddhists hold sacred the tenets of compassion, mercy, altruism, and loving kindness, among others. According to some strains of Tibetan Buddhism, practitioners will meditate on Tara, a female deity, to develop these qualities. Believing that everyone can achieve enlightenment, Tibetan Buddhists claim that Tara can remove obstacles that get in the way of personal growth and the cultivation of activism.

Tara was said to be born from the tears of the Hindu Lord of Compassion, Avalokitesvara. He dedicated his existence to rescuing all humans from suffering. But eons ago it was a very bad age with people behaving terribly to one another. Just as he rescued one person, another would fall. He became frustrated and began banging his head against a wall from the futility of his efforts. Because he was blessed by the Buddha, instead of wounds or bruises, two large eyes emerged on the back of his head. From the eyes tears fell. From the tears emerged Green Tara and White Tara.

Green Tara pledged to help by removing obstacles from the path of humans so they could walk the path to enlightenment with greater ease. White Tara vowed to help humans by increasing their fortunes and extending their lives. Together they help Avalokitesvara making it easier for us humans to receive blessings and to achieve enlightenment.

These deities serve as models for us about the meaning of compassion and spiritual activism. They have the altruistic mindset of service, not for personal fame or aggrandizement, but because they care about our human condition. They want humans to live better lives so they in turn will become enlightened spiritual activists who work for the betterment of humanity. The Taras stay focused on the positive, on what they can do, continually helping us to overcome obstacles, especially our negativity, so we can envision a better world for all.

The Taras understand that all beings are interconnected. When one human achieves enlightenment and can live more in a spirit of compassion, then they have a positive influence on those they touch, raising the vibrations of people around them. As one of us becomes more compassionate and caring, then they demonstrate to others the power of compassion and the importance of standing up for your convictions.

Look at both Martin Luther King and Mother Theresa, two humans who strove for enlightenment, embraced compassion for their fellow beings, and pledged their lives to work towards their convictions. One human can inspire others and start a movement for peace, freedom and equality.

It’s also important to note that each Tara had their assigned tasks. They did not take on everything, like so many of us humans try to do. They chose selectively where to put their efforts rather than being all over the board. It’s important for us to also use wisdom and discernment when we select a cause to fight for. When we focus, we can apply 100% of our efforts and thus have a chance to make a difference. When we splinter and apply our efforts among multiple causes, which are all very important, we dilute our effort, and end up making minimal impact. This is an important truism for all of us to keep in mind.

Take time to reflect on the lessons from Green and White Tara. Become a spiritual activist; take a stand and make a difference. But come to your activism with an altruistic and compassionate heart. Remember to focus on the positive. Stand for what you are ‘for,’ not what you are ‘against,’ so your mindset can stay positive.

Always remember that we are all interconnected. What we are and what we do has an impact on those around us. Your bad mood can dampen the mood of others. When you are full of joy, it radiates to those around you lifting their moods. Finally, choose what you commit to with wisdom and discernment. Remember it is always better to under-commit and over-deliver than to over-commit than under-deliver.

If you, and I, can commit to these gems of wisdom, then we will have a chance to change the world – together!

 

This article was inspired by a blog posted in 2015 on http://fiercelove.wordpress.com

 

Do you still carry a grudge over something that happened years ago?

If so, you just might be the person who is suffering the most!

I’ve been doing a series of articles on the qualities we need to cultivate in order to achieve a higher state of ‘Being-ness.” According to many well-known metaphysical teachers, we are living during a monumental time in which humanity is experiencing a shift to higher consciousness. We are shifting from 3rd dimensional consciousness to 5th dimensional consciousness.

When a person reaches 5th dimensional consciousness, it’s claimed that they will experience a permanent state of peace, bliss, love, and joy. The catch is, however, that in order to “ascend” a person must first cultivate a consistent state of being that is compassionate, forgiving, loving, tolerant, and accepting. This has led me to question what these traits actually are, and how they might benefit humanity.  The following is the second article in a two-part series on Forgiveness.

Holding a grudge can harm you
There are some negative consequences of holding onto a grudge. According to the Mayo Clinic, if you continue to carry a grudge you might actually pollute other relationships and new experiences with your anger and bitterness. There is a danger of allowing your old toxic memories of past wrongs negatively impact what is going on in the present. This might lead to depression or anxiety. Or it could morph into feeling that your life lacks purpose or meaning. For some it might cause you to feel disconnected from spirit or your spiritual beliefs. Finally it might hamper your ability to maintain valuable and enriching connection with others.

How can you reach a state of forgiveness?
Forgiveness comes when you make the decision to be honest with yourself. It takes making the conscious effort to reflect on the situation with more compassion while attempting to view it from a much larger perspective of yourself, the other party, and the situation.

To begin, you might reflect on the particulars of the situation, such as how you’ve reacted, and how the resentment and bitterness has affected your life, your health and your well-being. Has it enriched your life with joy and meaning, or has it kept you cycling in anger and bitterness? Then you might consider the value of forgiveness and the impact it could have on your life. Sometimes by actively choosing to view the other person with compassion while trying to understand them and their situation, you will find that the ability to forgive will naturally happen. This is easier if you move away from viewing yourself as the victim and eliminate any belief that the offending person has any control or power over your life. In reality, they only have power if you give it to them.

As you let go of grudges, you’ll no longer define your life by how you’ve been hurt. You might even find compassion and understanding.

Forgiveness isn’t easy
I’m not claiming that it is always easy to forgive. This is especially true if the other person doesn’t want to admit wrong and/or doesn’t speak of his or her own sorrow. If you find yourself stuck and having trouble forgiving, then try one or several of these suggestions:

  • Consider the situation from the other person’s point of view.
  • Ask yourself why he or she would behave in such a way. Perhaps you would have reacted similarly if you faced the same situation.
  • Reflect on times you’ve hurt others and on those who’ve forgiven you.
  • Write in a journal, pray or use guided meditation — or talk with a person you’ve found to be wise and compassionate, such as a spiritual leader, a mental health provider, or an impartial loved one or friend.
  • Be aware that forgiveness is a process and even small hurts may need to be revisited and forgiven over and over again.

Forgiveness and reconciliation
It’s important to remember that forgiveness doesn’t always lead to reconciliation. If you’ve had a close relationship with the offending person prior to being hurt, then forgiveness might lead to reconciliation. This doesn’t always happen, however. Sometimes you are able to forgive, but the relationship never quite seems to go back to the way it was.

If the offender has died or is unwilling to communicate then reconciliation might not be possible to achieve. Sometimes reconciliation isn’t appropriate. Still, forgiveness is possible — even if reconciliation isn’t.

Forgiveness isn’t about getting another person to change his or her actions, behavior or words. Forgiveness is more about how it can change your life by helping you to find greater peace, happiness, and emotional and spiritual healing. Forgiveness can also take away the power the other person might still wield in your life.

Forgiveness is a process that takes time
Remember, forgiveness is a process. Your ability to forgive may not happen overnight. Nor can you force someone to forgive you if you should realize that you just might have to take some responsibility for what happened.

People need to move to forgiveness in their own time. Whatever the outcome, allow yourself to move to a state of forgiveness. Forgiveness is important for your own health and well-being. Then commit to treating others with compassion, empathy and respect.

To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was YOU!

If you are harboring bitterness, anger, and/or resentment and are having a hard time letting it go, then give Joy Reichard a call to find out how she can help you move to a state of forgiveness so you can find more peace and happiness in your life. Email Joy today or contact Joy at 415-819-8769.

Adapted from words of wisdom obtained from a Mayo Clinic article on forgiveness.

Has someone hurt you in the past?  Maybe betrayed a trust? Offered unwelcomed criticism? Placed blame unfairly?

When someone hurt you, did you have you have a hard time letting it go? Did you harbor anger, resentment, or even thoughts of revenge?

Have you found it difficult to embrace forgiveness and move forward?

I’ve been doing a series of articles on the qualities we need to cultivate in order to achieve a higher state of ‘Being-ness.” According to many well-known metaphysical teachers, we are living during a monumental time in which humanity is experiencing a shift to higher consciousness. We are shifting from 3rd dimensional consciousness to 5th dimensional consciousness.

When a person reaches 5th dimensional consciousness, it’s claimed that they will experience a permanent state of peace, bliss, love, and joy. The catch is, however, that in order to “ascend,” a person must first cultivate a consistent state of being that is compassionate, forgiving, loving, tolerant, and accepting. This has led me to question what these traits actually are, and how they might benefit humanity. The last two articles focused on Compassion. The following is a two-part series on Forgiveness.

==========================

Nearly everyone has been hurt by the actions or words of another. Perhaps your mother criticized your parenting skills, your colleague sabotaged a project, or your partner had an affair. These wounds can leave you with lasting feelings of anger, bitterness, or even vengeance.

I’ve harbored bitter feelings towards a couple of ‘exes’ for a long time. During a recent illness that lingered for 6 weeks I was given way too much time to process these old hurts. I did a lot of reflection on forgiveness and compassion and why these too human characteristic are so important.

Wise elders from all traditions have told us that if we don’t practice forgiveness, we might be the ones who pay most dearly. By embracing forgiveness, we’re told that we can also embrace peace, hope, gratitude and joy.

Forgiveness can lead you down the path of physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.

Defining forgiveness
Generally, forgiveness is coming to terms with the wisdom of letting go of resentment and thoughts of revenge. Although you might always remember the act that hurt or offended, eventually there is realization that forgiveness can lessen its grip on you and help you focus on other, more positive parts of your life. The process of forgiveness can even lead to feelings of understanding, empathy and compassion for the one who hurt you.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you deny the other person’s responsibility for hurting you. Nor does it minimize or justify the wrong. It’s possible to forgive the person without excusing the act. Forgiveness allows you to find a place of inner peace that helps you go on with life free from the feelings of resentment and bitterness.

The importance of forgiveness
Letting go of grudges and bitterness can help you create a life with more happiness, health and peace. The Mayo Clinic claims that forgiveness can lead to:

  • Healthier relationships
  • Greater spiritual and psychological well-being
  • Less anxiety, stress and hostility
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Fewer symptoms of depression
  • Stronger immune system
  • Improved heart health
  • Higher self-esteem

Why is it so easy to hold a grudge?
When you’re hurt by someone you love and trust, you might become angry, sad or confused. Dwelling on these hurtful events or situations allows grudges filled with resentment, vengeance and hostility to fester and take root. Our imagination is so powerful that rehashing these negative feelings can inflame the hurt and pain so that it crowds out positive feelings. Then you might find yourself swallowed up by your own bitterness or sense of injustice. Has this ever happened to you?

++++++++++++++++

Next week I will share with you why grudges are damaging to you, as well as causing hurt to the person we are upset and/or angry with. I’ll also share some steps on how to forgive and move towards reconciliation, if reconciliation is a possibility.

If you are harboring bitterness, anger, and/or resentment and are having a hard time letting it go, then give Joy Reichard a call to find out how she can help you move to a state of forgiveness so you can find more peace and happiness in your life. Email Joy today or contact Joy at 415-819-8769.

 

Adapted from words of wisdom obtained from a Mayo Clinic article on forgiveness.