Are You Committed To You?

I am taking an online course called Visionary Business School. The course covers the steps to take to make your business vision and purpose actualized. One of the exercises in the course was the commitment exercise. You divide the room that your sitting in into two sections. The one that you start with is your current level of commitment to your life/business vision. The other part of the room represents the ultimate level of commitment. In the exercise, you start by standing in the first part and observing where you are today in terms of your level of commitment. Are you at 5, 6, 8, or 10? 10 being 100% committed. Then you ask yourself, what what would it take for you to move into the other side of the room which is the ultimate level of commitment to your life’s big vison? Meaning, 12, 14, 15, ect.

As I did the exercise, I discovered that I did not need to move to the other side of the room I was living in. Breathing, being the ultimate commitment. I observed that actually, “I” was not there which means my personal self was not in the picture. It was not a player, able to be more or less committed. Something bigger then me was allowed to take over some years ago and “It”, that Cosmic Commitment, was operating through me. The “Ultimate Commitment” to global transformation has been operating sitting in the driver’s seat of my life while my personal self was sitting next to it enjoying the ride. The realization of that was sweet and comforting. I, the personal me, could trust, relax, and enjoy the ride while acting on behalf of the Ultimate Commitment, the loving, all-encompassing driver of my life…

Each one of us has a unique role to play, a special gift to give. We need to do the work of clearing away fears limiting beliefs and defensive patterns so that the “Great Self” has an open space to live within us and can sit comfortably in the driver’s seat of our lives, guiding, nurturing, and supporting our true vision.

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Good Communication Can Change Your Life

 

Authentic and compassionate dialogue with others can be as trying as the dialogue with ourselves, and at times even more challenging.
We all need to acquire communication skills or, better put, connecting skills. None of us are exempt. Since relationships are absolutely essential for well-being and success, we need to keep developing the ability to relate and connect constantly.

Q: What is it that we want most when we communicate with others?
A: We want a sense of connection.

Q: What contributes to a sense of connection between people?
A: The following:
• All sides need to feel heard.
• All sides must feel respected and honored, even in the heat of a disagreement.
• All sides need to feel supported and enhanced, if there is an agreement.
• All sides need to be able to share their experience, knowledge, insight, or feelings.
• Differences need to be accepted, if they did not get resolved.
• All sides must show willingness to continue the communication to further the connection.
• All sides must strive to come to a resolution that is satisfactory to all.

When we connect, we are able to exchange knowledge, support, and joy. We give and receive. Connecting is one of the most fulfilling aspects of living. We long for it, and at the same time we sabotage it regularly.

Q: What are the obstacles to creating true connections?
A: In the same way that our Defensive Self blocks our connection with our Emotional Self, it blocks our ability to connect with others. Here are some of the ways that our Defensive Self prevents us from connecting to others:

Resistance: A reluctance to open up, trust, let in, accept, or share with others.
Automatic Reaction(s): A habitual pattern, often unconscious, of avoiding the experience of being present.
Judgment and Comparison: Forming opinions without real knowledge or understanding of whom or what we judge; classifying and stereotyping are some defensive tactics to maintain separation from others.
Denial of Responsibility: Lack of ownership for our actions, feelings, or needs.
Communication of Desires as Demands: Inability to express authentically to others our needs and desires in the form of requests.
Blaming and Dumping: The habit of focusing on the other as the cause of ones trouble.
Manipulating and Controlling: Using another as a pawn in order to pursue or achieve our own agenda.

All of these patterns of being originate from a defensive stance. Our Defensive Self has a tendency to withhold true feelings and to keep others at a distance. It creates a separation between ourselves and others and resists the possibility of being vulnerable—all in order to protect us from hurt. When we try to achieve defensive power, we judge, we deny responsibility, we blame, we dump on or punish others. It makes us feel right, versus the other, who is wrong. It makes us feel better than The goal is to be on top of the game of life. It is a me against you, dog eat dog world perspective. Within this perspective, we try to control, manipulate, pretend, lie, or use force. These are ways of war and emotional violence, and they are not conducive to compassionate communication and connection.

We all have a Defensive Self—it has a protective role—and if we intend to be fulfilled, we need to soften and transform our rigid, contracted, and stubborn Defensive Self into a compassionate protector, a peaceful warrior. This is quite a job. We can use all the help we can get to accomplish it.

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The Answer To Your Inner Happiness

The answer to your inner happiness is freeing your Emotional Self.

All the stages of our evolution are living within our Emotional Self: the baby, the child, the adolescent, and the adult. Nurturing parental love is necessary throughout our emotional development, especially in the early stages. When any one of these stages is disrupted, our needs are not met, our feelings become fragmented. As a result, our natural development is compromised and the smooth transition from stage to stage is interrupted. It makes sense that it is beneficial to access the earliest stage that was disrupted.

By re-experiencing the emotional reality of it, including unmet needs, pain, and fear, we can release repressed emotions and give ourselves the nurturance needed to heal and complete that stage successfully. At a young age, when our needs are not met, we get angry. This anger is a natural reaction. It is a cry for help and a protest against being ignored. Most of us were trained to repress pain and anger. When these feelings are repressed, excess neurotransmitters and other neuro-chemicals flood the brain and the whole system. Our receptors get clogged. As a result, a state of toxicity develops, which is a source of future emotional and physical disease.

The excess neurotransmitters overexcite the nervous system, causing symptoms that range from mild anxiety to mania or violent feelings. These symptoms are healing events and it’s best if they are not suppressed. If handled properly, these symptoms will not escalate to actual violence. When pain and anger are trying to surface and release, it is important to redirect the expression of these emotions towards the original abusers or wrongdoers as they live in our memory. I must stress this should be done as part of a therapeutic process within our private emotional work, not any other way. Only when the anger and pain are expressed within a therapeutic process toward whoever feels like the source, can these feelings be released effectively. The inner support of our expanded self, acting as our inner parent and guide, helps the healing process of these early memories.

At times, it takes some soul-searching and peeling off layers of hurt to truly discover why we are angry. Misdirected anger is very common. It can get triggered by our spouse, a neighbor, or the news. Instead of looking for the origin of our anger, we explode or attack the person or event that triggered it. These explosions can be called vicarious detoxification crises. Misdirected explosions don’t remove repressed emotions; they only serve to continue the cycle of toxicity and our inner suffering.

Imagine that you are your own therapist. Whenever you feel upset, take a minute before you react (if possible) and contact your emotional self. Find out what is the feeling that is surfacing. What is it connected to? And ask your emotional self, what does it need to feel better? As much as possible, see if you can provide for that need. There are times when a situation is beyond our control, in which case we can still provide our emotional self with a sense of safety and inner security by being supportive of their needs.

The more you lovingly and with great wisdom, take care of your emotional self, the happier you will feel and the smoother and more peaceful your life will become.

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Are You Treating Yourself Poorly?

As life happens we all get hypnotized by and engrossed in the events of our daily life. Our Defensive Self is continuously on guard watching out for problems, pain, and possible failures. It feels that it must be ready and able to tackle both life’s little and big disasters. God knows it finds the “danger” even where it does not exist. It is persistently on edge, worried, and trying to maintain control.

On the other hand, our Emotional Self is full of emotional reactions. It feels joy looking at a beautiful sky, it is upset watching a child crying, horrified by an accident on the road, and tickled by a lover’s text message‒all within one hour. It is continuously thrown from one emotion to the next like a child would.

As you can see, there is a tremendous amount of commotion going on inside of us every moment. These two aspects of ourselves, our Defensive Self and Emotional Self, are very reactive and identified with the “drama” of life. Thank God that we have the third aspect, our Expanded Self, the witness who can compassionately and peacefully observe the drama and not get involved with it. It can watch the movie of our lives and know that we’re not the movie, events, circumstances, or the interpretations. We are pure awareness.

Our Expanded Self knows itself as pure awareness, peaceful and all knowing. This is the essence of you: your True Self, beyond the body, mind, and personal reactions. As much as possible, rest yourself. Sit in the big arm chair of your Expanded Self and watch your Emotional and Defensive Selves. Peacefully and gently guide and relax them.

I train people in the art and craft of self-coaching. We all need to learn to be our own best parent/friend. This is a daily practice. Just like parents need to check on and support the kids, you and I have to coach our two inner kids lovingly offering compassion as well as practical guidance. It sounds easy, but it’s not. These skills take time and the right training to develop. Do yourself a big favor and get those skills so that your two more vulnerable parts come to feel safe and happy. When you do that, one day you will find that they too will pull their little chairs and sit by you, joining the peace, and what a relief that would be.

To learn more about your inner selves and how to manage them, sign up for a one on one session with me!

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Great Relationships – What’s the Secret?

Most of us realize that our close relationships need attention and nurturing.  If you are a parent, you do your best to spend quality time with your kids on a daily basis. If you’re married, you create time to share with your spouse. And the same goes for close friends, siblings, and parents. Why is it that we don’t create the same space in time to commune and communicate with ourselves?

Most of my clients, when they begin working with me, admit that they don’t take time to “sit” with themselves – and that mostly they don’t know how to do it. I would like to address the importance of an intimate relationship with oneself. If you cannot understand yourself, you cannot accept yourself; you don’t know how to guide yourself, and ultimately, you cannot find love and compassion towards yourself. Disconnection from you means disconnection from others.

In order to be able to be open, honest, and authentic with others, you have to be able to
be that way with yourself.  A relationship with oneself, just like any other relationship, needs consistent investment of time, attention, and care. When I watch the news or observe people who are destructive to themselves and others, it is clear to me that
they don’t have a caring relationship with themselves. If they did, they wouldn’t compromise themselves and the lives of others. Lack of self-caring can take many forms:  take a minute to think of the ways you are treating yourself or feeling about yourself.

Are you critical, harsh, or rejecting towards yourself?  Are you neglecting?  Are you
avoiding your feelings, needs, and desires? Are you disrespecting yourself and allowing others to disrespect you? Ask yourself what needs to be different – what needs to be nurtured? In the next couple of blogs I will offer you ways to cultivate a caring connection with yourself.

Whatever you feel, think, and do, affects –believe it or not – our dynamic global ecosystem. Maybe you think this sounds a bit grandiose, or even unbelievable, but think about it this way: How many times have you stepped into a meeting with a chip on your shoulder, and somehow the entire atmosphere shifted from one of excitement and joyous buzz to that of sullen blandness?

 

My point is this: Whether you do or don’t love yourself, your attitude causes a ripple effect in the universal emotional realm. And to be generous and care for yourself, first is to be generous and caring for the rest of humanity.

 

To love someone properly, you need to know them – know what they need. Know what they appreciate and desire. When you have a basis from which to reach out, you can meet their emotional needs as a supportive friend and loved one.

Stay tuned next week for steps that will help you become that trusted friend to yourself.

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Vacations & Achievements, More Related Than You Think

I, like many of us, look forward to a vacation; a moment to pause, to rest, to empty the mind and open the heart to the simple delights of life.

No matter how hard we try to balance our lives, most of us are constantly rushing to meet deadlines and complete projects. Gates of Power® Method emphasizes the importance of balancing quiet, internal, “me time”, rest, play, emotional and physical care with life path, projects and goals.

I am deeply committed to this balance in my personal life. Despite my daily balancing act, I know when I need to just do nothing; to feel like a four-year-old with no to do lists, no responsibilities, nowhere to go, and nothing to do that is required. That kind of emptying out takes me naturally to my sense of joy and appreciation for my moments.

A vacation state of mind is one of ease of being. It took me a few good years to deeply embrace that mindset; I was steeped in the achievement one.

So, “what is wrong with that?” You might say. Yes, achievement is great if it is done with ease of being. It takes some mastery to marry these two, achievement and ease. Ponder for a minute what is most important to you on the path of life? I say, experiencing and enjoying your moments is living. If that quality of living is compromised by stressful efforts, originating from insecurities, it is wise to take note of it and find a way to shift it. Many times, we confuse true passion for achieving something with a desire to prove that we are worth it.

When we stop, breathe, and open up we make new friends, we see things we didn’t notice before, and we realize our love for people and the world all over again.

We feel at one with life. Somehow, in this very troubled and divided world, our simple sense of safety has been robbed. A vacation can end up in a tragedy… Still because of it, and despite it, we must not allow fears of the unknown dissuade us from exploring. Instead, learn to revisit that relaxed innocent space of a vacation. Take yourself there. Every day, maybe even every moment, give yourself that gift.

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The Tragic Results of Validation Addiction

The other night I went to see the movie “Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer” Directed by Joseph Cedar. Richard Gere gives a profoundly moving performance. He captures the essence of the very vulnerable, displaced, older man Norman, who is desperately trying to belong. He is a New York Fixer, a wheeler and dealer who tries to connect people and push “good deals”. Wheeling and dealing is his ticket to a sense of belonging, his attempt to be “someone” who matters. He strives desperately to get attention and recognition through offering “good deals” and personal connections. One of his attempts lands him a connection with an Israeli high official. He buys him a gift, a pair of very expensive shoes. This connection and the sense of warmth and trust that follows changes his life for better or worse…

What moved me while watching the movie, was the recognition that Norman actually represents each one of us. We all need to feel that we belong and that we’re valued for who we are. We can look for that affirmation outside of ourselves or train our eyes to see it inside. The inside job takes dedication, awareness, and internal work. Mostly, our commonly tendency is to look for the affirmation of self-value outside. We devote much effort to get people to like and appreciate us, to get noticed by finding fame, fortune, political power, or at times destroy and distract. Whatever works to get attention.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, these costly efforts don’t truly establish an internal sense of personal value. What does is loving connection and acceptance of ourselves and authentic connection with others. When Norman felt the warmth and connection with the Israeli high official, he felt, maybe for the first time, truly appreciated. Was that enough to bring him peace?? Maybe it ushered a beginning of self-acceptance? It also opened him up to betrayal.

Investing in the discovery and realization of our inner self has the highest return. I highly recommend the art of looking inside and learning to accept, respect, and nurture the self within ourselves. Our deepest drive is to fully express our being and touch lives. Knowing our value, empowers us to be and do just that.

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Desires Gone Wrong

The bombing that happened in Manchester this week is a disturbing example of how powerful our desires are. The human heart is a furnace of desires and that is its power. Within the fires of the heart, there are desires for power, control, revenge, manipulation, and domination. These same flames within the heart inspire desires for love, compassion, creativity, and beauty.

Indulging in desires for domination, revenge, and control originate from a weak sense of self. When one feels less than, victimized, and insecure one faces two choices. The first is positive and proactive and that is the choice to get on the path of self-growth and self-development. The second choice is destructive and depleting, the path of blaming others and doing your best to victimize and diminish them in order to feel better. Indulging ourselves in this second choice will leave us empty and broken inside.

We are yearning for a sense of inner strength and that is natural. We can tap into a true sense of security, wholeness, and inner strength, it just takes some dedication and commitment. Fortifying a false sense of self at the expense of others eventually shatters and leaves us depleted. The young person behind the act was fueling his desire to terrorize and control through fear and destruction. A revengeful thrill that cost people their lives and their health. In the long run, this type of hatred ends up consuming and debilitating its source.

We have a choice which desires we’re going to fulfill and how. We should choose wisely.

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Very Poor, Very Rich

On our visit to Rio De Janeiro last month, I was stuck by the appalling gap between the very rich and the extremely poor. I was walking along the beautiful beaches of Copacabana, then Ipanema, and reached Leblon, the very affluent part of the city. Out of curiosity, I decided to visit the famous mall, Shopping Leblon. A place where all the famous labels claimed their stake and charged as much as the highest price on Madison Avenue if not more. The food court there could compete with some of the high-level restaurants in New York City. In short, you needed plenty of money to buy anything there

On the other hand, I visited one of the 700 Favelas (ghettos) where people live in crumbling huts 6-7 in one room. We walked the tiny, dark alleys that were mice and rat infested and flooded with sewer water. People who live at the Favelas don’t have addresses. They are the outcasts of society. Most of them do their best to work in town, earn money, and have semi normal lives. The drug lords are the lawmakers while the police show attendance and get paid to be quiet.

Knowing that this disturbing reality is present in some form almost anywhere throughout the world, I ask myself, “How is this effecting our existence, our wellbeing as people on earth?” Any extreme imbalance anywhere (physical, mental, social, political) ends up in eruption and disturbance. The natural order of life is consistently driving towards balance. Balance creates strength and unity. Nature is wise enough to know that.

What are we doing to ourselves? Why? What are some of the solutions we might look for to create a better balance politically, socially, and spiritually? I cannot say I have the answers; I am definitely in search for insights. Please feel free to write me your thoughts.

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The Travel State of Being

This last month, I visited Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.
A town nestled within lush mountains and wide waters. An earthly haven, indeed, with beaches long, white, and clean (yes clean). A place with people who are true lovers of life and samba and people who have been used and abused by greed and corruption, generation after generation…more about that in another moment.

Being there, I was reminded of what I call “the travel state of being”.
One of my most favorite things in life is traveling to new places. The door to the world of freedom and adventure opens up. I am out of my usual routine metrics. We all know that habitual patterns can put us to sleep emotionally and spiritually. Traveling, one really needs to be present (since half the time, you need to figure out where you are and where you need to go).

Being in the here and now becomes a palpable reality.
All my senses open up. Colors are brighter. Sounds and smells are welcomed. New tastes are so amazingly interesting. Faces and shapes become delicious. I feel like a child in the playground of life.

All the spiritual and emotional guidance of the sages, is an attempt to take us to a place where we are one with life and people, allowing our spirit and soul to flow gently while exchanging loving creative play with others.

Years of spiritual work can be accomplished in one simple travel adventure, if we’re willing to embrace the opportunity.
I love communicating with people when we don’t speak the same language. I discover over and over again, the magic of communication. Yes, we can understand and enjoy each other without language. I love doing things I never did before, learning about other ways of living and being.

While in Rio, I visited one of the most poverty and drug stricken places on the planet, Favela. We were guided by a man who has lived there for the last 50 years. It was a delightful surprise to share his intelligence, knowledge, and joyful ease of being. Go figure.

Travel opens your mind and heart to experience the true essence and resilience of people. The true essence of you. A child of life here to love play and create.

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