Tag: self-growth

Valuing Traditions in Life

With the passing of Labor Day, we are reminded of the pleasures traditions offer us. How they are a rich fabric of our lives, if we pay homage to them. Have you ever stopped for a moment and reflected on the value of your own traditions? Perhaps the grind of modern life has caused you to let go of cherished familial, cultural, or holiday customs. Carving out time for a tradition can restore your sense of connection while providing opportunities to create new memories.

Traditions are a wonderful way to catch up with people you love. They can be as simple as a once a month coffee or as extravagant as meeting for a vacation each year. Maybe your neighborhood has an annual potluck supper? By taking the time to participate, you build and strengthen relationships. You also develop a sense of belonging, which combats feelings of isolation or loneliness.

Honoring tradition helps you establish your own personal identity. When you choose to celebrate with others, whether they are family or friends, this is a beautiful expression of what values you hold dear. Often out of respect for the deeper meaning behind the tradition, you may re-arrange a work-week or forgo a routine. Maybe you and your spouse decide that every Wednesday you have a date night away from the children. Or you commit to a spiritual practice. These micro adjustments can be powerful testimonies to what you value in life. Traditions are often examples or inspirations for others to follow their belief systems.

Children adore traditions. Think back to your own family traditions; my great aunt Rose would make honey cake and my mom would make a chocolate cake with a chocolate cream cheese frosting that to this day when I think of either I feel warm and fuzzy inside. Celebrating with your children can help build bonds while giving them a glimpse of their ancestral heritage. Traditions connect children to their cultural and familial past and paint a picture they can carry with them. They give them a safe sense of belonging and security in a changing world.

Traditions can be modified or adapted to better serve those participating. Perhaps your family doesn’t eat meat, rather than turkey for Thanksgiving you gather over a scrumptious vegetarian meal. All the essential elements are still there; the preparation, the togetherness, the laughter, the breaking bread. New traditions can be initiated as well at any time. They can be serious or silly. I had a friend who started a tradition of “birthday elves” for her children. She would decorate with balloons and streamers the night before her children’s birthdays. In the morning the kids would be delighted to find the elves once again had remembered them. The interesting thing was, even when the children grew to teenagers they still wanted a visit from the birthday elves!
When traditions come from the heart, they allow us time to express our emotions. To commemorate a passed loved one with an annual ceremony gives expression of the love and life of that person. Traditions give us permission to step off life’s merry-go-round and to reflect. By keeping relished traditions we create a haven for ourselves and our children; a place where we recognize the relevance of our past and the importance of our future.

As the fall season fast approaches, perhaps allow yourself time to renew the gift of celebrating traditions. Evaluate those that have meaning to you and have somehow been neglected. By weaving traditions into your life, the fabric of your life will be richer.
img_2316


The Total Self

DSCN0155

In the post, Life Balance, I discussed the most prevalent areas of our lives that need balance and why each is important. The life area called Self is composed of our emotional, intellectual, physical, and spiritual needs and desires. Due to the complex nature of Self, I’d like to explore each component separately.

Emotional

The emotional aspect of Self determines how we feel about our inner and outer world. What do you need for a full emotional life that serves and supports you? Do you want to be more focused and grounded? Approach life with a more can-do attitude? Radiate more love and joy? React to challenges calmly and confidently? Once you decide the emotions that are important to you, ask yourself what actions to take or habits to adopt in order to bring them into your everyday life.

Intellectual

This is the part of us that needs mental stimulation and growth, and goes well beyond the classroom. It could be learning a new skill or hobby; increasing knowledge about a topic that interests you; challenging your brain with intellectual games or philosophical discussions. Consider what you need to keep your mind alert, interested, and challenged. What do you want to learn, discover, and explore?

Physical

The physical aspect deals with what it takes for you to look and feel your best. What does it take to be strong, healthy, and confident? How do you need to physically care for yourself and others? How would you want to be physically cared for by others? This includes nutrition and exercise; sexual needs; physical contact (a hug, pat on the shoulder or arm, etc). Some people crave a great deal of physical connection—giving and/or receiving—and some people not so much. Either end of the spectrum or anywhere in between is perfectly valid…it depends on what feels right to you.

Spiritual

This is the part that yearns to connect to something bigger than us. While connection to a higher power certainly occurs in religion, it is also possible to achieve through meditation, being in nature, and by practicing the arts…however you can come to a place of reflection, contemplation, and inspiration. Some questions to ask are: What fills your spirit and soul? Gives you comfort, guidance, and support? How do you want to grow spiritually?

Everyone is unique in his or her needs and desires. Awareness of what you require and desire will help you achieve those qualities that bring you balance within the life area of Self.


Overcoming Internal Resistance

rose in bloomHave you ever decided to do something and then found yourself procrastinating, avoiding taking action, or feeling stuck? Maybe you purchased a self-help program you believe will be helpful but haven’t started it. Perhaps you decided that organizing your work or living space will increase your productivity but you’re avoiding clearing the clutter or gathering the ideas/tools to guide you to the best setup. Whatever your situation, you know when you’ve hit a wall of resistance, and while it doesn’t feel good, it can actually give you some important insights.

Two things can be possible when you feel internal resistance within yourself:

  • What you are resisting will benefit you and requires you to push through any perceived limitations and inner blocks.
  • Your body, soul, instinct, etc. is telling you what you’re setting out to do might not be supportive to you at this time.

So how do you figure out the type of resistance you’re facing? And what do you do with that information?

1) The first step to decision and action is awareness, so you can gain clarity as to what your resistance is really about. Instead of pushing your feelings down, ignoring them, or trying to force them to change, allow yourself to feel and explore them. Notice what comes up for you and take note without judgment or criticism.

2) Ask yourself where this resistance is coming from and what is it about. Allow the feelings that came up in connection to the resistance to be your guide.

  • a) Is the source of resistance due to not knowing the next step to take? Fear, worry or doubt that you can do it, or if it will work out for you? If any of your resistance comes from this type of energy, you can learn from it. Whenever we see our blocks or “stuff” it is often an opportunity to shift from negative to a positive way of thinking.

Ask yourself why you have the fear, worry, doubt, etc. Is there proof that it’s true? Are you drawing upon your past perceptions or the perceptions of others? Whether or not we consider ourselves to be “creative” people, we have active imaginations that sometimes come up with all the ways something will be hard or won’t work out for us. This is our ego trying to protect us. Thank your ego for doing its job and let it know you are going to do it anyway with the help of higher consciousness and your intuition.

  • b) Is the source of your resistance coming from a feeling, sense, or intuition that something isn’t right for you or supportive for you to do? If so, this type of energy is telling you to re-examine your motives and reasons you think you need, should, or want to do this. Did you at first think it was a good idea but have since changed your mind (or sensed it is no longer a good idea)? Did you set out to do this for someone else because you think it’s what he or she wants you to do or will make them think better of you? Do you know or sense that continuing with your initial decision will drain your energy, health, and happiness or deplete you in some other way? If your answers come from this type of resistance energy, it might be in your best interest to let it go.

3) Once you are clear as to whether your resistance is a sign to push through your blocks or a sign to re-evaluate and redirect, it’s time to tune in, connect to your higher self and ask: What would I do if I knew I couldn’t fail? What is my desired end result if I could only do it right and nothing could stop me?

Then ask: What would the first step be in making that perfectly successful vision happen? Allow your heart to answer these questions. It knows the answers, so be open to receiving the messages and all the possibilities, no matter how “unrealistic” they might seem in the moment.

4) Take that first step! It could be finding the book or resource to learn what you need to know. Maybe it’s reaching out to a contact for help or thinking of who might know the person you need to connect with. Your first action step can be to act as if you are living in the energy of a person who has accomplished something similar to what you want your ideal end result to be. Your action steps may be uncomfortable, and there are no guarantees what will result, but putting into action what you desire is crucial to turning thoughts, dreams, and desires into reality.

 

 


Allow Your Intentions to Become Reality by Removing Self-Limitations

Do self-imposed limitations stop you from reaching your dreams and goals? Do you keep yourself from becoming the person you’re meant to be?

P1050627Think about the messages you tell yourself every day as they relate to what it is you want to accomplish. What’s your self-talk when your dream or goal comes to mind, what’s the commentary or chatter? What is your attitude toward what you desire, how do you feel when you think about it?

Are the messages and feelings loving, positive, and supportive; or are they critical, negative, and demeaning? If we want amazing things to happen to us but don’t think it is possible now—or perhaps, not ever—we unconsciously create limits and obstacles that can prevent us from achieving what it is we want to manifest. We might even be the only one standing in our way!

Sometimes our negative self-talk is subtle, and might even seem positive because we aren’t saying we CAN’T do or have something…just that it can’t happen NOW. The underlying tone is still limiting. Here are some examples of what we may say to ourselves, or to others about ourselves, which could be undermining our goals: “Once I get that promotion, I will finally be able to…” “If I had a loving partner, I could feel ______ about myself.” “When I have the money, I can…” “As soon as I lose these extra pounds, I will be…”

Do any of those statements sound familiar? Are those “prerequisites” you use REALLY needed to actualize your dreams? What if we allowed the possibility—the opportunity!—for the path to our heart’s content to turn out different than imagined? What if it ends up better? We can never know unless we believe we’re worth it…now.

Life comes with enough challenges without adding self-doubt. As motivational speaker Louise L. Hay said in her book, You Can Heal Your Life: “What we think about ourselves becomes the truth for us.” So let us be enthusiastic champions who remove and prevent self-imposed limitations, allowing our true selves and destinies to unfold.


Life and Loss

Most of us believe that relationships are supposed to be permanent, yet loss and grieving is a theme in our lives. Inevitably along our path someone dies or will be left behind. Loss of a relationship plays a significant part in all of our lives, as it is part of life.

Often we define ourselves by our relationships; we believe something is wrong with us if we do not keep our friends for life. What I have learned is that relationships come and go throughout our lives. When someone dies, leaves us, moves away or becomes estranged, it can feel confusing, sad, overwhelming, we might feel a bit lost for a time. The loss of the relationship is an opportunity for us to grow and get in touch with our authentic selves; to learn and understand that we are not our relationships.

In all relationships there is some degree of dependency. Whether it is your relationship with your life-partner, mother, father, sibling, friend. When a relationship ends, you will find yourself forced to undertake tasks that the other person used to do; or perhaps you will be taking care of their will. In all cases with loss comes new experiences, some enjoyable some scary, some just a nuisance. What is wonderful is that it is through these tasks that a new sense of self will evolve.

Whenever we let go of someone a psychological death occurs and we want to allow ourselves to grieve for our loss. Death comes in many forms; it may be an aspect of ourselves, our youthful qualities, our health, or a dream that is no more. Or it may be a relationship that is ended by death or distance.

With every death there is rebirth; something of value is growing inside us. How we react to the constant changes that occur in our lives through our relationships is probably the only aspect of a relationship that we have choice about.


Peace, Happiness, You, I, Us…

The elusive desire for happiness often leads to consuming as much as possible. To have the biggest house, not just one but as many as we can afford to buy and furnish. To have the most expensive cars, clothing jewelry. We often think that the more we own, the bigger it is, the more expensive it is, the happier we will be. So why then are so many people, who have all that they thought they wanted unhappy? We thought if only we had one more room on our house or just one more bathroom, everything would be great. If only I earned a little more money? Perhaps if I lived in another city or country?

The void that we as humans feel cannot be filled by ‘things’. As corny as it sounds and it does to some degree sound corny to me, John Lennon, Rumi and many others may have been correct in that love is the answer.

We strive to be the best at everything and pass this down to our children. While pregnant, before our potential children have taken their 1st breath, we are competing for them to be in the best pre-schools. To be the best, to own the most, and still those that do, are not happy. So what are we doing wrong?

Rumi the 13th century poet said: “There is a candle in your heart, ready to be kindled. There is a void in your soul, ready to be filled. You feel it, don’t you?”

The void is part of who we as humans are. What I come across over and over again are people who are in search of meaning. Wishing to understand one’s purpose on earth; to achieve something that will make us think we have fulfilled a purpose. To fill the emptiness of not knowing, not understanding so much about how we came to be here and why, we turn to religions, consuming, gambling, drugs, over-eating; all in an attempt to fill the void of our not ‘knowing’ how to just be. To breathe in and smile with the exhale, to live in a house that serves our needs rather than our ego’s, with an Eco-friendly car.

Allowing ourselves to stop feeling and acting greedy, to live with what we actually need rather than feeding our ego’s and the illusion that we can fill the void by consuming. The void can only be filled with love. By letting go of greed we will and can develop compassion and empathy for others. That homeless person on the street, whom we just drove or walked by; perhaps we can share with him/her a bit of our abundance. To share, to think in terms of the ‘us’ rather than the ‘I’. Carl Jung, speaks of the collective unconscious and many people believe this happens after one dies. I think it can happen while we are alive…it is about the ‘us’. Peace within and without is possible when we fill the void with love.


Divorce ?

When we marry most of us believe it really is for the rest of our lives. We often create a combined life as well as individual life. It is the combined life however that usually has the priority in marriage. Separating from our life partner is painful; feelings of anger, abandonment and yes relief may also be present. There is no escaping your feelings, whatever they are.

I have seen some people avoid their feelings by dating constantly or drinking or drugging. I have seen others plummet into despair for periods of time. It is natural to miss the warmth, friendship, financial security, and sex you had or hoped you would have.

If you have children parenting becomes much more challenging as your role does change and the frequency that you will spend time with your children will change as well. Questions like when do I introduce my children to the person I am dating will arise and possibly cause you anxiety, as there is no ‘right’ answer, only better ones.

Divorce is often one of life’s most stressful experiences. I refer to divorce as a mini-death. In some ways it is more challenging than a ‘real’ death in that the person you have separated from, possibly feel abandoned by, is alive. If you have had children together you will be seeing your X for the rest of your life. This for many is re-wounding, especially if you are unable to forgive yourself and you’re X for the divorce. It is common for both parties to have feelings of failure regardless of who initiated the divorce.

On the positvite side, a divorce can be a time of discoving yourself again, creating new relationships, learning and growing. In order to move forward taking responsibility for your part in the divorce rather than blaming your X for it is paramount. As well as, allowing yourself to grieve your loss and honor your feelings. Then you will be in a space to grow into your new life, the one you will create out of joy. The life you used to dream about having when you were married and unhappy but always thought you could not create it.


How to Make a Great Decision

For a moment think about the decisions that you made this week. Were they easy or difficult? Did you avoid or postpone any decisions? Are you hoping that others will make the decision for you?

Making decisions are important because how you make the decision and of course what decision you make will influence the quality of your life and happiness.

What makes decisions a challenge for many of us is that there is a lack of certainty with most decisions. Each decision is a risk.

How can you help yourself know the best decisions to make? Reminds me of the scarecrow in the film ‘The wizard of Oz’, at every cross roads he would just trust his heart, swing his arms and walk; but not all of us are comfortable with this approach. Another way to begin is by making an analysis of the situation. Based on the knowledge and circumstances of the moment, weigh the pros and the cons of each possibility and then ask yourself these questions:

  • Will this decision reflect my personal values?
  • What is my body telling me about this decision (excited, tense, relaxed)?
  • Do I feel great about the direction this decision is taking me?

By doing this you will be considering your actions and insuring that you are acting from your best intentions. If after you have made a decision, you notice that it’s taking you in a direction you don’t desire, you can stop, re-evaluate and make a different decision that will take you in the direction you prefer to go.


What is a Labyrinth and How Can You Use One?

Labyrinths have been used for centuries as a tool for meditation and renewal of spirit. Labyrinths have one way in and one way out, so there is no need to worry about getting lost. There is no right or wrong way of using the labyrinth. Depending on what questions you ask as you walk the labyrinth, different answers and experiences will unfold to you. If you do not have access to a labyrinth that you can walk; you can use your fingers to walk a smaller labyrinth.

Labyrinth Exercise

Go to: http://labyrinthsociety.org/about-labyrinths

Here you can down load a labyrinth that you can then print.

First use your dominant hand and then your less other hand to walk the labyrinth, as you ask yourself the following questions.

  • What stops me from engaging fully?
  • What stops me from becoming a blooming flower, once the seed is planted?
  • What fears come up?

OR

  • What is ready to be created or achieved?
  • How is it to celebrate the fruits of my endeavors?
  • What is dead and needs to be buried

Notice what you feel, see, sense, think, and hear.