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Archive for April, 2011

Forgiveness – Freeing and Comforting

Forgiveness – Freeing and Comforting

I’ve heard a lot about the importance of forgiveness. You probably have too. But what I heard this past week about a benefit of forgiveness, I had never heard before. And it might change – well – everything.

Story: The effect of forgiving your bullies

A friend shared with me his experience of breaking through and being able to forgive some bullies who had given him a very hard time in middle school. He said he found the experience of forgiving them freeing and comforting. I said I could understand the freeing part, but could he tell me more about how it was comforting to him.

To me his insight was nothing short of remarkable. He said that after being able to truly forgive the cruelties he had endured, he felt that life has opened up to him in a whole new way. If he could forgive that, something he thought he might never be able to forgive, then what else could he do that he thought he couldn’t do. — This one experience may make a huge difference on how he lives the rest of his life and what he believes is possible for him.

Call to Action and Why This Matters:

Think of every grudge and negativity you hold onto, every injury you haven’t been able to get over, every injustice you have endured, and situations that make you angry or exhausted – as pebbles in your backpack. And that backpack is on your back all the time. —- How fast can you run? How fast can you move forward? How agile are you? How well do you sleep at night? How quickly can you adjust to changes in your life’s direction – all while carrying that heavy backpack?

Isn’t it time to lighten your load – at least a little?

1. Free yourself from some of the pebbles in your backpack. There are probably some easy ones you can do on your own – starting now. Here is one suggestion on how to get started.

  • Choose a time and place where you can be uninterrupted and at peace: a beautiful setting in nature or a quiet nook in your home, or ….
  • If you like, add some pleasing and calming music.
  • Sit down with a pad of paper or just your thoughts. Imagine putting down the backpack next to you and opening it up.
  • Pick out a small pebble and examine it. Feel it and experience what old hurt it might represent. Writing may help this process.
  • Decide whether to hang onto it or to let it go.
  • If you decide that you are done with that old hurt, drop the pebble or throw it far away.
  • If you decide you are not done with it, that you might still need it to keep distance between you and the other person whom it involves, then put it back in your backpack. You can always take it out again later.
  • Look for other pebbles that you might be done with.
  • Rest and be grateful for your accomplishments. Every pebble you remove is one less you have to carry – for the rest of your life.
  • Each time you let go of a pebble, you strengthen your forgiveness muscle. It’ll allow you to do bigger pebbles and rocks over time. My friend had been working on his forgiveness muscle for a long time before he was able to let go and forgive those bullies, and he didn’t do it alone. Be patient and gentle with yourself.

2. Know that there is also another backpack of pebbles that you carry. It contains all the pebbles of the times when you have been hurtful to others. The process of acknowledging your wrongdoing and forgiving yourself is similar. In addition you may need to make amends, ask for forgiveness, and find a better way to interact with that person if they are still in your life. You may need to set boundaries. Whether or not the other person forgives you does not matter. All you can do is your part. They have to deal with their own backpacks.

3. Find comfort in your growth and your ability to do things – things, which you couldn’t do before. Know that each time you do something you couldn’t do before, it may carry over into other aspects of your life. Now other things may become easier as well. Think of it as training to lead the full life of your dreams.

Taking it Farther:

In my experience you will get to a point where the pebbles and rocks are just too big to handle without the expertise and tools of a trained person: a coach, a therapist, a counselor, an energy healer. I regularly work with people who help me empty my backpack. Whatever modalities you choose, find those that work for the problem you are trying to heal. Sometimes a combination works best. A hammer works best with a nail, a saw solves a different problem, but you cannot build a house with only one tool. – Now, forward this to your friends.

If you feel ready, share this tip with the people in your life with whom you are ready to throw away the pebbles between you.

Contact me:

Want help? I’m here for you. Tired of struggling? Get relief! Get coached to help you get unstuck and take your life to the next level – starting now! Ready to get started? Call Edith at 847.913.3900

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Decisions, decisions – what can you do?

Decisions, decisions – What can you do?

We are all faced with 100s of decisions every day. How easily we decide and move on may make all the difference between a “smooth” day and one with anguish. The more Decision-Making-Frameworks we have, the better our day tends to go.

Take the mail for example: Mail carrier delivers mail. You bring it into your home. How do you deal with it? Are there things you can immediately

  • Recycle
  • Shred
  • Things to follow up later that you decide right now when and how they will be taken care of
    • Bills to pay on a certain date
    • Letters to answer and time scheduled on your calendar to write
    • Magazines to read and when and where you will read them

Do you have anything left over that you are undecided about? That may become clutter. Soooo, one of my definitions of clutter is “deferred decisions”.

So, how do we create Decision-Making-Frameworks?

Story: Hey Ref!!

I am a soccer referee. You won’t find me on national television reffing a championship game, but you might find me on a pint sized soccer field. So? What does that have to do with Decision-Making-Frameworks?

The job of a referee is to make decisions – lots of decisions – throughout the entire game. You cannot delay a decision until tomorrow or even think about it for a few minutes. So you have to have a Decision-Making-Framework. It looks something like this:

  1. Is there a situation that requires a decision to be made by the referee?
  2. Make a decision in accordance with the “laws of the game”. Easy! Easy? That’s where the trouble starts. There are only 17 laws of the game. The laws are modifiable by each league and vary based on age. The level of enforcement or leniency may change by age. In the end each referee develops their personal style of refereeing within those laws. Consistency and neutrality is key.
  3. There is no pause or instant replay on a live game. Either the referee catches what just happened anywhere on the field or she didn’t. Meanwhile she runs back and forth, trying to anticipate and be in the best position to see what happens.
  4. When the ball goes out of play, everyone expects the referee to instantly decide how to restart the game. And of course there is a biased audience. Invariably there is someone who is vocal or even hostile if they believe the referee has made a mistake against their team.

Conclusion: as a referee you are in front of a potentially hostile audience who is watching your every move and lets you know if they disagree with your decisions. You are expected to see everything, and make instant decisions that are correct – every time.

Next time you watch a sporting event – please have mercy for the referee. They are human.

Call to Action and Why This Matters:

Become aware of your conscious and unconscious beliefs that influence your decision-making.

What if you believe that “knowledge is power”?

Back to our mail example. There may be interesting reading material, an offer to buy some educational material, an offer for something that might be of interest. Your belief may interfere with your ability to decide to let go of a piece of paper and cause your reading piles to get bigger and bigger.

What are some beliefs that may interfere with healthy decision-making:

  • Knowledge is Power (growing reading piles)
  • Waste not, want not (keeping things you no longer need)
  • Money is the root of all evil (trouble with saving money)
  • Expecting things to be perfect (constantly finding fault)
  • Things “should” be this way or that way (frustrated with others)
  • … Insert yours here

You may have conflicting beliefs that keep you stuck. Often limited time or money is seen as the culprit, when in fact decision-making and priority management might take care of some of the conflicts.

Become conscious about your priorities and values, then value-based decisions become easier with practice and consistency. These then form our Decision-Making-Frameworks.

Taking it Farther:

Create your own Decision-Making-Frameworks. You may start by seeing what you do now. Create a flowchart of your decision making process like this example.

DecisionFLowchart

Once you see what you do now, you can see where you get stuck. That’s where you may have beliefs or conflicts that interfere with your decisiveness. As you gain clarity, you will have more things you can decide easily. Discovering your beliefs and conflicts may require help.

Contact me:

Want more help? I’m here for you. Tired of holding yourself back? Get relief! Call to get yourself into coaching and get where you want to go faster. Have questions? Call to get answers. Edith at 847.913.3900

Fear – Gratitude for your Fears?

Fear – Gratitude for your Fears?

How do you deal with fear?

Today’s Theme: Fear

You are afraid. Feel it.
What are you afraid of? How does that protect you? How does it get in your way? Does it stop you from acting? Do you have any phobias? Are there thoughts that keep you paralyzed, tasks or people you avoid at all cost? Things you get angry about?

The book “The Gift of Fear” was very enlightening to me. I started to see fear from a new perspective. In one example they had interviewed rape and abduction survivors. Pretty universally, the women had a “creepy feeling” about that “nice stranger” who helped them with carrying their groceries and insisted on bringing them into the apartment or car, …. But they ignored that feeling. And they got hurt – life-alteringly.

So – first of all – fear is your friend.

Story – Sink or Swim

My sincere thanks to Fran for suggesting that I share her story.

My very dear friend Fran is a swimmer! Now! She just said it the other day. I think it’s the first time I’ve heard her say that. She was elated when she said it. And I am elated for her.

See – for the first 1/2 century of her life Fran had wanted to learn to swim. She took lessons. She made sure her kids had lessons and learned to swim. She, on the other hand, became more and more frustrated and afraid of the water. When they taught her to float, she would sink. She also has curvature of the spine and it affects how she feels her legs and how they respond differently from what she thinks she feels. She was right to fear the water. It was not a safe environment for her. There was a lot to overcome.

For probably the first ten years of our friendship I didn’t even know that Fran wanted to learn to swim. Then one day we talked about my daughter and I being featured on the NBC Weekend Today Show for the 35th anniversary of Title IX: mother and daughter – swimmer and diver, both on university teams. I shared with Fran how I taught my kids to swim very early. My youngest could already swim under water when he was still using a pacifier. When I’ve taught swimming, I’ve always gravitated to the most difficult and fearful students. —- So we, Fran and I, hatched a plan.

And the rest is history. Today, and for the rest of her life, Fran is a swimmer! She loves to swim!

Call to Action and Why This Matters

Do you have a deep desire? Is fear stopping you from attaining something you truly want? May be, like Fran, you have tried and tried, and failed and failed, and almost given up? Don’t give up. Keep looking for the right kind of help. You can do it!

For Fran swimming is now her favorite exercise. It doesn’t feel like a workout. It feels like play and she loves it. Here is how she got there:

1. Get help you trust: She needed an expert whom she trusted. Someone who cared and had only her best interest at heart. She was frustrated with her lack of progress once we started her lessons. But I knew she was on the right path and let her know that.
2. Feel Safe: She progressed very slowly at first to make her feel safe in the water: using float belts, going only in as deep as she felt she could risk it, clinging to the wall. I was standing right beside her all the time. There was no judgment, only encouragement.
3. Get Curious: Start playing, get curious, moving and feeling the resistance of the water, how it affected her movements. Differences of moving on land and in water: learning and feeling, playful curiosity.
4. Courage: As she got more comfortable over a period of months, she was able to get in the water without me. It took great courage the first time she went to the pool without me. She told the lifeguard to watch out for her in case she got into trouble. She was afraid and yet she knew she was now safe enough to take that next step.
5. Persistence: As time went on, Fran found other teachers. Many were able to help her progress in different ways. Some didn’t work out.
6. Confidence: She developed the confidence to keep going and the knowing that she could learn to swim – despite setbacks.
7. Repeat: Along the way there were other fear hurdles to overcome. Other things to do to feel safe, get curious, and courageous steps to take.

What would you like to be able to do? Who can help you get started – safely?

Taking it Farther

• We respond in different ways to fear:

  • Try to ignore it – may be at our own peril
  • Fight: get angry (hiding fear behind anger is very common)
  • Flight: run away from it, avoid it
  • Freeze: paralyzed with fear; fading into the woodwork; being a wall flower; being invisible; lack of action; procrastination; indecisiveness

What’s your preferred way of dealing with fear?

• Realize that fear has kept you safe from real or perceived harm. Fear is your friend.
Learn about fear. One of the books I recommend: “The Gift of Fear”.

• Get very clear on something you really want. Going beyond fear, shifting from fear to curiosity, are “muscles” that take time to develop. Start with something small or something you have a deep desire to achieve. Having a deep desire will help you through the times when you want to give up.

• Whatever you want to achieve, do it with someone, get support from someone who cares deeply about you and wants you to succeed.

There are also the seemingly “irrational fears”. — There is so much more I could share with you.

Contact me

Want more help? I’m here for you. Tired of holding yourself back? Get support. Call to get yourself into a coaching program. Have questions? Call to get answers. Edith at 847.913.3900

Perfectionism – Does it have to be a “Life Sentence”?

Perfectionism – Does it have to be a “Life Sentence”?

Are you a perfectionist? Does everything have to be “just so”? Are you afraid of making mistakes, of being wrong, of being blamed? Are you your own harshest critic?

One of Webster’s definitions for perfectionism is: “a disposition to regard anything short of perfection as unacceptable”.

If this feels like you, then you might feel
• fear of making a mistake
• fear of making decisions
• prefer procrastination and inaction to “wrong” action
• fear of being wrong
• fear of being found out or admitting a mistake
• fear of being punished for making a mistake
• fear of self judgment and harsh self criticism
• fear of seeing mistakes in others, especially people you care about
• condemnation of others’ mistakes and a sense of self righteousness

What’s the source of that? Let’s look into where we learned criticism, judgment and to condemn —- and how much it hurt. Maybe as children we just wanted to be loved. So we had to be perfect – as often as possible – or so we thought.

Do you feel guilty; that “it” is your fault? IF you had just been more perfect, then things would be different? Children often blame themselves for something they had no influence or responsibility for. Have you?

Story – My uncle died. I was sure it was my fault

When I was young – may be in first or second grade, my uncle died in a car crash. Technically he was my Mom’s uncle. He was one of the most important people in my young life. I loved him and felt loved and cared about by him. So how was his death my fault? It wasn’t, but I didn’t know that.

See – he had a laundry business and he picked up dirty laundry and delivered clean laundry in our little village. Sometimes he happened to catch me walking to my Mom’s work after school and gave me a ride up that steep hill to where she worked. That was really special. It didn’t matter that it was only a few minutes walk. He cared about me and showed it. Unfortunately I didn’t feel that from anyone else. So it mattered even more. When he died, I was sure it was my fault.

It was winter and he died in a car crash on that icy slope – I believe. And I believed that if he hadn’t driven there at that time, then of course he’d still be safe. And he must have been on that road because he was looking to give me a ride. It was the main road through town and I suspect now that he drove it often.

Then for a while I had the fantasy, that if I had just been there the way he was there for me, then he’d still be alive. I had heard that people get incredibly strong when there is an emergency like that. So I fantasized, that if I had been there, then I could have lifted the big delivery van off him and saved him. I was probably six or seven years old when it happened. It’s unlikely that he was under the car since he was the driver. But I didn’t think about that – until just now while writing this down.

How did I first realize that maybe it wasn’t my fault that he died? I was visiting my mother about 30 years after the accident and somehow the topic veered to our uncle. Well, she talked about how it was her fault that he died. I was incredulous! We both had the same idea and when we explored it, neither one of us realistically could have had any blame for his death.

Ask yourself: Do you have something in your life that you have blamed yourself for or been blamed for? Was it really your fault?

Call to Action and Why This Matters

If you are a perfectionist, you might have a HABIT of accepting blame – whether it is your fault or not. People around you will blame you. Or you will feel blamed. You may believe it, you expect it and accept it. So the cycle continues.
As a result you may avoid making decisions and procrastinate about taking action. You may avoid trying anything new. You may shy away from things like public speaking or anything else where people might be watching “for your next mistake”. You avoid and fear change. And because it feels terrible enough to make a mistake and blame yourself, it might be almost impossible to admit one when you really should say, “I am sorry. I made a mistake.”

This week, I encourage you to observe your patterns of behavior:
• why and when you procrastinate
• your willingness to try new things
• your ability to make decisions easily and decisively
• your ability to take reasonable risks

Taking it Farther

If perfectionism stalls your ability to move forward, you may want to look deeper. In what area of your life do you get stalled? Is there a clue in your past? Was there a traumatic event that caused you to become that way, or did you have an important person in your life early on whose lack of approval and constant criticism caused you to become shy and reticent to take any risks or make any mistakes?

Some people can heal this through journal writing or other self-help techniques; others may choose a trusted friend, a support group, therapist or coach to release this pattern over time. Others can change their HABIT of perfectionism with sheer effort of will. Whatever works for you – do it. I’m not saying to get sloppy, just to ease any stranglehold that perfectionism may hold over you.

You deserve to be free from constant self-doubt and harsh criticism by yourself or others. You deserve to be free to try new things, learn from your mistakes and “get messy”. Perfectionism doesn’t have to be a “life sentence”.

Contact me

Want more help? I’m here for you. Tired of holding yourself back? Get relief! Call to schedule some coaching sessions. Have questions? Call to get answers. Edith at 847.913.3900


Focus and Rebounding: focus where you want to go

Are you pointed in the direction you want to go?

So often we try to figure out what we are doing wrong. Analyze every mistake. Try to improve. Become better spouses, friends, parents, co-workers, …. Do a better job – at everything. Your focus is on your mistakes, your shortcomings.

Have you heard the adage: “Where you focus, there you go”? If that is true, then where you’re headed is to more mistakes and shortcomings. Try changing your focus.

Story: Practice what you don’t yet know how to do – often

I decided to take up a new hobby: dancing on wheels. Well, for starters, staying on my roller skates and not falling is an intermediate goal. In order to learn balance you have to practice things that get you out of balance. So my instructor, Roger, said something brilliant recently: don’t focus on your mistakes. Analyzing your mistakes just gets you more of them. The only mistake you have made is that you haven’t done 5,000 of them yet. Practice more. Focus on what you are supposed to do. When you get one right you’ll feel it. It feels good. Over time you’ll get more of them right.

I tried to take that to heart and practice it. Practicing what Roger just taught us about turning and going forwards and backwards on my skates, I observed my mind. If I focused on what I did wrong and stopped to analyze, I didn’t practice as much. If I kept doing it again while still focusing on my last mistake, I started to lose my balance even worse.

Then I used an old trick I learned while playing Volleyball in college: When someone on my team made a mistake during intercollegiate matches, we’d say, “shake it off”. In other words, chances are the other team is going to exploit your state of mind. If you made a mistake and are still focused on it, you are more likely to miss the next ball that comes to you as well. “Shake it off”, reminded us to focus on the next ball coming at us and be fully present for the next chance to get it right: score a point or prevent the other team from scoring a point. How quickly we were each able to REBOUND mentally from a mistake often determined whether we won or lost a game. How quickly can you rebound from a “mistake” and refocus on your goal or next task?

Call to Action and Why This Matters

What does it take to achieve mastery in an area of life? The number I have heard is 10,000 hours. It takes 10,000 hours to be a true master, 1,000 hours to be good at something and 100 hours to get basic proficiency. So taking action is the most important step towards mastery. But there is a catch: not all hours are created equally. You can do the same things over and over or you can be open to new ideas, try new things, learn and grow. In order to grow and find the best ways of doing things, you need to find what works and what doesn’t. Make mistakes, get messy, and eliminate what doesn’t work. Keep practicing. Keep doing it ‘til you have some aha’s and you’ll get to a new level. Get a teacher. Get a coach. Read a book. Talk to a friend or mentor. Bring in new ideas to try. Ask someone who has successfully done what you want to achieve. Observe what others do. Then try it yourself. JUST DO SOMETHING. REGULARLY.

Choose a goal to focus on. Something you really want and are willing to take action to move forward with. Block out time on you calendar, regular time to take actions towards your goal. Example: I decided to write these weekly tips every Thursday from 8-10am. During the week I make notes of ideas for my next tip. Wednesday night I decide what I will write about. Thursday morning I write. In the afternoon I review, edit, fine tune. By evening I create the newsletter and send it out. Your turn: What goal do you choose to focus on?

Taking it Farther

• Choose a BIG dream. Something you really want. Not something you think you should have. Not something that your spouse or your parents or neighbors say you should have. Not something you think you can achieve fairly easily. Choose a goal that is audacious, that get’s you excited to get out of bed in the morning. One that is worth living for. One that is years in the future.
• Decide what you can do THIS YEAR to move closer to that goal.
• Decide what you can do over the next 90 days to move closer to that goal.
• Create action steps for the next 30 days and put aside time on your calendar to get them done.
• Every time you take one of the actions, pat yourself on the back. Yeah! You are moving closer to your dream. Every time you miss, don’t beat yourself up, but decide to recommit to taking that next action step and by when.

Robert Kiyosaki, the author of “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” says in one of his books that it took him 10 years to learn to be a successful entrepreneur, the next 10 years were about making a LOT of money, the next 10 years after that were about giving back and doing good with the money.

May your goals be worth trading your life for.

And what’s your favorite charity?

Contact me

Want more help? I’m here for you. Tired of holding yourself back? Get relief! Call to schedule some coaching sessions. Have questions? Call to get answers. Edith at 847.913.3900

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