Be in the Flow – Follow Your Path!

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How and Why to Forgive

How and Why to Forgive

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” Mahatma Gandhi

Forgiveness is something you can do whether the person you forgive is alive or not. Forgiveness is more about healing your heart than it is about the other person. And why should you forgive those who have harmed you? As Ann Landers often said, “hate is like an acid. It damages the vessel in which it is stored.” Below is a powerful story of forgiveness.

There are many stories of World War II Holocaust survivors who have been able to forgive their captors and tormentors. Here is one of those stories. It is the story of Corrie Ten Boom. Her family hid their Jewish neighbors in their home, were caught and sent to a concentration camp. She was the only survivor. After the war she traveled throughout Germany, giving talks on forgiveness. On one of those talks she came face-to-face with one of her cruel prison guards.

“I remembered him and the leather crop swinging from his belt. I was face-to-face with one of my captors and my blood seemed to freeze.

“ ‘You mentioned Ravensbruck in your talk,’ he was saying, ‘I was a guard there.’ No, he did not remember me.

“ ‘But since that time,’ he went on, ‘I have become a Christian. I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there, but I would like to hear it from your lips as well. Fräulein,’ again the hand came out—’will you forgive me?’

“And I stood there—I whose sins had again and again to be forgiven—and could not forgive. Betsie had died in that place—could he erase her slow terrible death simply for the asking?

“It could not have been many seconds that he stood there—hand held out—but to me it seemed hours as I wrestled with the most difficult thing I had ever had to do.

“For I had to do it—I knew that. The message that God forgives has a prior condition: that we forgive those who have injured us. ‘If you do not forgive men their trespasses,’ Jesus says, ‘neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.’

“I knew it not only as a commandment of God, but as a daily experience. Since the end of the war I had had a home in Holland for victims of Nazi brutality. Those who were able to forgive their former enemies were able also to return to the outside world and rebuild their lives, no matter what the physical scars. Those who nursed their bitterness remained invalids. It was as simple and as horrible as that.

“And still I stood there with the coldness clutching my heart. But forgiveness is not an emotion—I knew that too. Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart. ‘… Help!’ I prayed silently. ‘I can lift my hand. I can do that much. You supply the feeling.’

“And so woodenly, mechanically, I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me. And as I did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, sprang into our joined hands. And then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes.“

‘I forgive you, brother!’ I cried. ‘With all my heart!’

“For a long moment we grasped each other’s hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God’s love so intensely, as I did then”.

 

Steps to Forgiveness

  1. Realize that the hatred you feel harms you and not your enemy. Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for it to kill your enemy.
  2. Stop being the victim. The best revenge is to live a successful and happy life. Surviving the harm caused by another person has made you stronger.
  3. Make a list of the strengths you have gained from the negative experience.
  4. Think about the kind and selfless people who have helped you in your time of need and what example they set for you.
  5. Give yourself time to heal. Nurture yourself.
  6. Writing down your negative experience may help – get it out of your head and onto paper.
  7. Stop telling your negative story. Negativity is depressing.
  8. Wish your enemy well. This creates cognitive dissonance and eventually it can neutralize your feelings about the other person.

 

Additional Resource

For additional information on the forgiveness process and the benefits to the forgiver check out the book “Forgiveness is a Choice – A Step-by-Step Process for Resolving Anger and Restoring Hope” by Robert Enright.

 

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How to be ‘In the Zone’

How to be ‘In the Zone’

Being ‘in the zone’ is characterized by complete absorption in what one is doing. Other words for that state of complete absorption are ‘in the flow’, ‘being in the present’, ‘in the moment’, ‘on a roll’, ‘in the groove’, ‘on fire’, ‘in tune’, and ‘centered’.

I used to get in the zone when photographing events. One time I was photographing a kids’ soccer game and two boys collided in mid-air while going after the ball. A parent standing near me asked if I got that shot. I explained that often my finger works independent of my consciousness, so I might have gotten the shot. Sure enough when I reviewed the pictures that night, I got the shot perfectly as the two boys vied for the ball in mid-air. So I know how to be in the flow. But how do you get in the flow on purpose.

You hear about an athlete being in the zone. You also hear about a writer who talks about the words just pouring out of him and onto the page. So it can happen in athletics as well as in intellectual pursuits.

First of all, there is no flow in new activities. Flow happens when you’re not even trying, when you’re just doing it without consciously trying. That doesn’t happen until you’ve put in hundreds if not thousands of hours of practice. Flow kicks in when the subconscious takes over from the conscious mind. Other ways to get in the flow may be through meditation or through visualization.

I recently attended an educational session by two World champions of public speaking. They described the journey of public speaking as follows: in the beginning of your speaking career you are self-conscious and worried about your performance. Once you have some speaking engagements under your belt, you are no longer self-conscious and you worry about your message coming across. Lastly, when you have done quite a bit of public speaking you will enter a phase where you are in tune with your audience. You will have totally internalized your speech and it comes out with every idea in the right sequence and not memorized. Mark Twain called it “rehearsed spontaneity”. He would say, ‘It usually takes me three weeks to prepare a good spontaneous performance.’

So – how do you find this elusive flow? There are several things you can do.

  1. Find the right environment. May be if you are writing, you have a desk with flowers on it, or you have a favorite spot out in nature. If you are an athlete, you may do best on the ‘home court’ advantage. Your special space helps you get into the zone.
  2. Time of day. I once had a coaching client who could best give her complete focus to our sessions at 6 am. While that wasn’t my favorite time to work, it made such a big difference in her receptivity and ultimately her success that it was worth getting out of bed for.
  3. Music. There are many types of music that can help you get into the flow, music that tunes out distractions or helps while pursuing intellectual pursuits or while meditating. Experiment and see what works for you.
  4. Focus with intensity. In order to get into flow you have to be doing something you do well and love doing. You focus intensely and your subconscious takes over.
  5. Emotions. You can’t get into the flow when you’re anxious or afraid. On the other hand when you are passionate about something you have a greater chance of slipping into the zone.
  6. Mindfulness. It is a state of paying attention to the present. When you are mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance without judgment. Mindfulness means living in the moment.

Training your mind to intensely focus on a task is a key skill for excelling at anything. Being in the flow makes peak performance possible.

 

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Fear of Public Speaking? No Problem

Fear of Public Speaking? No Problem

An estimated 75% of all people experience some degree of anxiety or nervousness when public speaking. Symptoms can be either physical or verbal. The physical symptoms can include increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, increased perspiration, stiffening of neck and upper back muscles, and dry mouth. Physical symptoms have been found to be reduced with a category of medications called beta-blockers.

Verbal symptoms can include a tense voice, a quivering voice, and vocalized pauses such as ahs and ums, which tend to comfort anxious speakers. If untreated, public speaking anxiety can cause serious detrimental effects on people, as it may prevent them from accomplishing their career goals – whether it is having to make presentations at work or in college. So – what to do?

Help is available. There are numerous public speaking classes at local community colleges. There are public speaking courses held by Dale Carnegie Training. I feel that one of the best options is Toastmasters: http://www.toastmasters.org Toastmasters is a large organization that is organized into speaking clubs all over the world. Clubs often have around 20 members, and the members take turns giving short (5-7 minute) speeches and take on different roles to run the meeting. Each speaker has a chance to receive a short feedback session from another member of the club. The speeches are organized to practice various speaking skills. For example one speech may focus on how to organize your speech, whereas another speech project focuses on vocal variety. One speech focuses on gestures, while another focuses on using humor while speaking. After the first 10 speeches you receive recognition for your accomplishment. You will be surprised by how much you have learned and how much more at ease you are preparing a talk and speaking in front of a group.

To find a Toastmasters club near your home or your work go to http://reports.toastmasters.org/findaclub/

Enter your zip code and you’ll be surprised how many clubs exist in your area. If you can’t find a club that is convenient for you, you can contact your Toastmasters district and they can find someone who will help you start a club.

 

Next Steps

Find two or more Toastmasters clubs that fit your schedule. Contact them and go as a guest to one of their meetings. Some clubs are smaller and that gives you the opportunity to give more speeches more quickly and even step up to take on a leadership role. Other clubs are larger and you will speak less often but you will have the opportunity to learn from more senior members as they give their speeches and you will have more time to prepare each speech you give. Once you have visited the clubs, join the one you liked best and begin your Toastmasters journey.

By the way, there are also speech contests, district wide training and a conference. Take advantage of these opportunities to learn and grow.

 

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How to Eat Healthy

How to eat healthy

The USDA periodically updates what healthy Americans should eat. USDA stands for United States Department of Agriculture. The USDA administers programs that provide services to farmers. So it is not some health and wellness or medical organization that tells us what we should eat, but instead an organization that supports farmers. In addition there is heavy involvement of lobbyists who support the various branches of agriculture and the food industry. So who won the lobbying wars?

 

USDA My Plate

USDA My Plate

Take a look at the “My Plate”. I’d say the dairy industry won this round’s top lobbying award. Dairy is protein, but instead of sharing nearly a quarter of the plate with fish, red meat, poultry, and legumes, Dairy gets its own section. And this is in spite of the many people who are lactose intolerant for whom dairy is not a healthy choice at all.

A similar controversy surrounded the previous food pyramid. For instance, the pyramid recommended two to three servings from the protein-rich group, but this was intended to be a maximum. The pyramid recommended two to four fruit servings, but this was intended to be the minimum. The previous food pyramid and the “My Plate” also say nothing about drinking water, which is important for good health.

 

Let’s look at food pyramids/eating guidelines from other cultures.

mediterranean food pyramidThe Mediterranean Diet Pyramid was created in conjunction with the World Health Organization. It, for example, relegates red meat into the ‘eat monthly’ category. It also shows the importance of drinking water and daily physical exercise. Note also that potatoes are grouped in with the grains/starches category, not under vegetables.

 

 

 

 

 

2014MAY15 JapanesePyramid

The Japanese Food Guide Spinning Top also shows the importance of water and exercise. It shows grains as the most consumed food, and fruits and dairy the least consumed with 2 servings each.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2014MAY15 EssensPyramideThe German Food Pyramid starts with lots of liquids; next are 5 portions of fruits and vegetables; then 5 portions of grains and potatoes; Milk and milk products daily; meat, sausage and eggs in moderation; fish regularly; high quality oils and fats; and avoid foods and drinks high in sugar and fats.

 

 

Clearly there are commonalities between the food guidelines, but there are also important differences. The Mediterranean and German food Pyramids are the only ones that point out to avoid sweets and other sugar-laden foods and drinks, whereas “My Plate” does not distinguish sugar-laden donuts and muffins from whole grain breads.

There are many other food pyramids and eating guidelines from other countries. There are also eating guidelines for specific dietary needs such as vegetarians, vegans and diabetics.

Among others I also found some humorous food pyramids. One German Food Pyramid consisted of Bratwurst, Pretzel, Beer, and eat all other foods sparingly!

Compare the eating guidelines to notice common themes and do your best to eat a healthy diet. Eat a variety of foods to get lots of nutrients and keep the portion sizes small, so as not to overeat.

 

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Learn to develop and trust your intuition

Learn to develop and trust to your intuition

Once I was looking for a specific book. I was working downtown Chicago and wanted to pick up the book after work. I called a bookstore near my office. While they were checking their inventory on the computer, suddenly a vision popped into my head of a large bookshelf in the store with the book I was looking for in the top right corner. When the store clerk came back on the phone she said that they were out of the book. The vision of this bookshelf was so vivid, that I decided to stop by the bookstore anyways. I found the bookshelf and lo and behold the book was exactly where I had seen it in my vision.

Intuition doesn’t always come as a vision. It may come as a persistent or fleeting thought, a gut feel, goose bumps, or in a variety of other modalities. Learning to get in touch with this intuition is your first step.

So why bother with your intuition? Here are a couple of very successful people who have followed their intuition and what they have to say about it.

In the biography of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson “Steve said that ‘intuition is a very powerful thing, more powerful than intellect, in my opinion. That’s had a big impact on my work.’ You can see that intuitive sense in Jobs’ incredible ability to foresee – and then design – what users will want next. The iPhone is a great example.

Steve Jobs’ personal intuition helped the company to reinvent itself across many different product lines. Isaacson named seven industries that Jobs revolutionized or re-imagined over his career: personal computers, animated movies, music, telephones, tablet computing, digital publishing and retail stores.”

2014MAY08 Einstein quoteAnother person who felt the importance of intuition is Albert Einstein. One of his famous quotes is, “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”

Psychology Today states, “For Einstein, insight did not come from logic or mathematics. It came, as it does for artists, from intuition and inspiration. As he told one friend, “When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come close to the conclusion that the gift of imagination has meant more to me than any talent for absorbing absolute knowledge.” Elaborating, he added, “All great achievements of science must start from intuitive knowledge. I believe in intuition and inspiration…. At times I feel certain I am right while not knowing the reason.””

The New Jersey Institute of Technology states “ In a study conducted by Professor John Mihalasky of the New Jersey Institute of Technology, it was found that CEOs who performed best in tests of intuition also tended to be the ones with the highest profit growth in a space of 5 years in their respective businesses.”

Next Steps

So how do we tap into this intuition and how do we distinguish it from experiences? One way is to enroll in the Silva Mind Control Training. http://www.silvaintuitionsystem.com/products I don’t get anything from recommending this link. I have taken the Silva training and have found it helpful.

In the meanwhile what else can you do?

Clear your mind: Focus on your breathing and allow your mind and body to relax more with each breath. You might even try counting down from 10 to 1 and allow yourself to relax more with each count. Once your mind is clearer, you can then access your intuition.

Meditate: Clearing your mind of repetitive thoughts and worries will make it easier to listen to your intuition. Find a meditative technique you are comfortable using and practice.

Listen to your gut: There’s a reason it’s called a “gut feeling”. Many times, a decision that you “know” is wrong makes you feel discomfort in your stomach area.

Keep an intuition journal: spend some time writing out the intuition that you have like “I have a feelings that…” or “My intuition tells me that…” If there are any sensations associated with your intuition, such as a vision, or physical discomfort, be sure to record it. Looking back in your journal, see how often you are right. As you learn more about how to recognize your intuition, and you see it leading you in the right direction, your confidence will grow and so will your intuitive power.

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The Art of Allowing – Letting Go of Resistance

The Art of Allowing

In martial arts and self-defense training we learn that the best way to succeed against a powerful opponent is to use their energy to our advantage. While fighting a bigger or stronger opponent is futile, learning to redirect their energy and hostility to their own detriment is bound to be more successful.

So we practice. One person charges at another. Instead of standing and fighting, we do what the bullfighters do so well. Stay in place as if prepared to fight, and then step out of the way at the last possible moment. At that moment apply the self-defense technique you are supposed to be practicing to redirect your opponent’s fighting energy to assist them in falling and rendering them harmless to you.

What if your opponent is your own internal resistance and you could allow instead of resist with everything in your life whenever you feel resistance?

Letting Go of Resistance

Someone told me that in the journey to self-healing and growth there is little pain if there is no resistance. When there is no resistance, things that need to get done become easy and nearly effortless. Activities go from being a chore to something you just do without a second thought. Let’s take a look an example.

This is something that used to be hard for you that you probably now do effortlessly: driving your car. Do you remember the first time you got behind the steering wheel? Did you clutch the steering wheel? Did you feel fear? Did you over-steer when making a turn? How about stopping and starting on an incline? Making a left turn into heavy traffic without a stoplight? How about pushing the accelerator too fast or the breaks too hard and having a jerky ride? May be when you drive an unfamiliar car, you go back to that jerky ride until you become accustomed to how that car responds.

Over time and many miles of driving, any fear and resistance fades away. Driving becomes so natural that you may get in the car in the morning, drive to work, park your car, and wonder how you got there. May be you were absorbed in your thoughts, listened to the radio or a CD, or had your morning coffee and chatted on the phone. Driving was just something you did – naturally. You avoided other cars, followed the speed limit, stopped at red lights, obeyed traffic signs, and took all the correct turns to get to your destination – all without effort.

It is possible to take something you now consider a chore or challenge and make it effortless. Simple but may be not easy.

Creating Awareness and Why This Matters:

Are you even aware of when you are resisting? Do you notice when your face scrunches up, when your shoulders tense, or that you are holding your breath? Noticing when you tense up is your first step to letting go of resistance. Then take some deep breaths, relax your shoulders, and pretend that you have a cool iron that gently irons away the lines on your face until the skin on your face is smooth and relaxed.

The other way to notice that you are resisting, is when a task feels like a chore rather than effortless and without any resistance. If you think that something is a bother, or too much trouble, then you are resisting. Do you eat your leftovers cold because it’s too much of a bother to heat them up? Do you have slip-on shoes because it’s not worth the hassle to tie your shoes? Do you use paper plates or eat food straight out of the box because you just don’t want to bother with dirty dishes? Do you leave your bed unmade because you are just going to get back in it tonight? What are the tasks that are left undone because you just don’t want to bother with them? Those are the tasks you are resisting. Any place you have a messy pile, you have resistance. It even shows in your face.

As you get older, the lines on your face tell your story. Do you have lots of laugh lines or do you have a permanently furrowed brow? When relaxed, do the corners of your mouth point upward, straight across, or sag downward?

The lines on your face tell you, just like the rest of your body, which facial muscles are toned because they are used, which ones are tight and overused, and which ones are underused or even atrophied. Any place you have regular tension, you will develop creases on your face.

But more importantly than the lines of your face, the resistance you feel on a regular basis adds to your stress levels. And we all know that many diseases have stress as a contributing factor.

Contact me:

If you would like to improve the quality of your life, figure out what you truly want in life, and help you let go of some stress, call me. For many people coaching can make the difference between what you have now and the life you could have. Live the life you choose. Achieve your goals. Be happy. Lead a balanced life. Call Edith at 847.913.3900.

Repeating Patterns and How to Break Free

Repeating Patterns

How would you describe your family’s relationship with money?

At a workshop on “Creating Consciously” the speaker, Dr. Michael Ryce, offered this bit of wisdom. He said there are 4 steps to achieving an abundant life:

1. Never Enough
2. Day Late, $ Short
3. Just Enough
4. Abundance

Each one of these steps includes a cluster of behaviors and thought patterns which are often passed from one generation to the next.

Which one of these money relationships to you feel you are living now? Which one are your parents, grandparents and other family members living? This is not about how much someone has but how they feel about it. There are plenty of millionaires who don’t feel abundant but rather live in constant fear of losing their money and not having enough.

Story: Intergenerational Patterns, when someone takes what’s yours – against your will

They are widening the street in front of my house. They (the Department of Transportation) didn’t ask if I want to sell them a piece of my yard. They told me that they are going to take it. In all fairness, they have to pay for it, but other than that, I have very little say about what, when, and how it all happens.

During a recent conversation with my mother I mentioned what is happening with the road-widening project. Then my jaw dropped when she told me her story: Sometime after my birth and before age four, we lived next to a forest. During that time, and I was totally unaware of it until this recent conversation, the authorities decided that they needed to create a fire free zone between the forest and people’s houses. Instead of cutting down some trees on the edge of the forest, they took a piece of my parent’s land to create a strip of land with sand and gravel as a buffer strip. — What an incredible coincidence! I happen to live across the street from a Forest Preserve, and the road-widening project is happening on my side of the street.

Does that pattern go back further? I am not aware of any similar stories in my family going further back. But I do know that my grandparents and great-grandparents (living in Germany) lost their homes due to bombing during World War II. No one asked them if they wanted their homes turned into smoldering piles of rubble.

History repeats itself until the lessons are learned. I wonder if I had known about my parents’ experience, if I would have bought a different house eleven years ago. Awareness is certainly the first step. Apparently the locals all knew that this part of the road was eventually going to get widened. It never occurred to me to even ask questions about the road or to notice that it was already four lanes further north and further south of us.

Interestingly enough, that early childhood time in my life was associated with a whole lot of trauma: abuse, hunger and neglect. Just like the Pavlov’s dog experiment, I have unrelated emotions associated with someone taking a piece of land against my will. So now I get to go through that experience consciously and also heal the trauma that was unconsciously associated with that time and event.

Call to Action and Why This Matters:

History repeats itself until the lessons are learned. Awareness is the first step to change.

People have repeating patterns in their families all the time. The most obvious are patterns like alcoholism, drugs, or abuse, even educational or financial achievement. Often the negative patterns are also associated with secrecy and cover up. It takes conscious effort and help from the outside to shift the patterns and break out of the repeating cycles.

Do you have repeating patterns you would like to shift? Are there things going on in your life that seem to keep repeating – over and over? May be you sometimes feel that “everyone is out to get you”? Are you in a repeating pattern with money that you’d like to shift?

Here are my suggestions for a different outcome to a repeating pattern:
1. Become aware of a repeating pattern that you don’t want in your life. Start small. Most new runners don’t choose a marathon for their first race. Start small.
2. Become very clear what is happening.
3. Figure out how you are contributing to the pattern. What’s the role you play to attract this to you?
4. Learn from the experts on how to do this differently.
5. Try something different.
6. If you feel resistant or defeated before even getting started, explore why you are stuck and how to get unstuck.
7. To overcome the WHY of being stuck, create a bigger WHY to change. Often an addict has to hit bottom before they can heal. The condition, in their mind, becomes worse than the required healing work and anticipated withdrawal symptoms.
8. Have a new way of dealing with the problem that was solved by your old pattern. For example, if you drank to relax after a stressful day, you will need another way of relaxing and reducing stress, which does not create a new undesirable pattern.

Resources:

The book, “Why is this happening to me … Again?” by Dr. Michael Ryce can be purchased or downloaded for free on his website http://www.WhyAgain.com
Dr. Ryce has also created a 20 minute guided meditation, “Wellness Through Stillness” which I have found very helpful.

Stress Release:
In the September 2011 teleconference call entitled “Uncovering hidden blocks” by Jack Canfield, he leads his audience through a couple of stress relief tools: EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique, also called Tapping) and the Sedona Method. For more information go to http://www.askJackCanfield.com

The Sedona Method is a very effective way to permanently melt away your stress response to stressors in your life. For more information, go to http://www.sedona.com

N.E.T. Neuro Emotional Technique. A way to let go of and heal responses to emotional triggers and restore wellness. For more information and to find a practitioner in your area, go to http://www.netmindbody.com/for-patients/an-explanation-of-net

Contact me:

If you would like to improve the quality of your life, figure out what you truly want in life, and help you clear the obstacles in your way, call me. For many people coaching can make the difference between what you have now and the life you could have. Live the life you choose. Achieve your goals. Be happy. Lead a balanced life. Call Edith at 847.913.3900 now.

How Do You Want to be Loved?

How Do You Want to be Loved?

This article is NOT about what you might at first assume.

This article is about how you know when another person treats you in a way that you want to be treated. It’s about becoming clear about how you want to be treated and how others want to be treated.

Six Love Languages

In the book “The 5 Love Languages” Gary Chapman helps us understand what we most want from our important relationships and that we have definite preferences. He also shows how, when partners act from their own love language, they may be misunderstood and not feel appreciated. For a fuller understanding of the 5 Love Languages, I recommend the book. It’s an easy read. Here is a taste:

1. Quality Time:
If this is your Love Language, then you like to spend time with your partner and have his/her undivided attention.
2. Words of Affirmation:
If this is your Love Language, then you like to be complimented – not flattery, but sincere comments about your appearance, things you have done well, details you pay attention to. What’s important to you is verbal appreciation and gratitude.
3. Receiving Gifts:
If this is your Love Language, then what’s most important to you are gifts. You know that you are being remembered, thought about and loved when you receive frequent gifts. They can be small, they can be handmade, it’s the thought that counts for you.
4. Acts of Service:
If this is your Love Language, you know that you are loved when your partner does things for you: help with the household tasks, fix things, run errands. If you feel loved through acts of service, you would do well with someone who is happy to frequently get a “honey do” list and is happy to get things done for you or support you in things you need help with.
5. Physical Touch:
If this is your Love Language, then what’s most important to you is touch. This can be as simple as holding hands while watching TV, snuggling up, even a casual touch while walking by each other makes you feel appreciated and loved.

Gary Chapman says that while we probably want some of all of the above, we definitely have a primary and may be a secondary love language that we care about more than the others.

So what’s the 6th Love Language? I believe it’s commitment to each other, implemented through open communication and trust. You know that your relationship will weather any storm, that you can be yourself, can make mistakes, can disagree. In other words you know that you’ll work things out and you’ll stick with each other – “for better or worse, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, …”.

Call to Action and Why This Matters:

Relationships are a life-long project. We nurture them, we ignore them, we come together with people for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. Those people who are in loving and satisfying relationships tend to be the happiest. So – to learn and tell others how we want to be treated, and to learn and apply how others want to be treated will take us far towards our happiness and the happiness of those we come in contact with.

The following website has a quick and easy test to help you identify your primary and secondary love languages from the book “The 5 Love Languages”.

http://www.afo.net/hftw-lovetest.asp 

I recently experienced a workshop on relationships by Michael Ryce. It touched me deeply. He has created a Commitment sheet for couples to say to each other. Repeating this for 40 days, he says, has changed many relationships for the better. A free copy can be downloaded from

http://www.whyagain.com/media/My_Commitment.pdf
It starts with, “My Commitment. I promise to TRUST you enough to tell you the Truth and be true to you. I commit to …”

Contact me:

If you would like help with your relationships, call me. The road to happiness and success is best traveled with others. For many people coaching can make the difference between what you have now and the life you could have. Live the life you choose. Achieve your goals. Be happy. Lead a balanced life. Call Edith for a no cost, no obligation consultation at 847.913.3900. Now.

Live a Little – Every Day

Live a Little – Every Day

You never know what life brings your way next. Enjoy it while you can. Live a little – EVERY day.

What Are You Waiting For?

My Mom was a young girl in Germany during World War II. Her family rented a small apartment right by a major target of frequent allied bombings. Day and night bombings. After coming out of the bomb shelter you never knew who of your friends and family were still alive and whose home and possessions survived the bombings. If there was a direct hit on a bomb shelter, chances were good that no one inside survived. And most important to continued survival, you immediately needed to know, who had a well with a hand pump that still pumped water out of the ground.

At some point, children in these highly targeted areas were sent into the countryside to live in youth hostels with teachers and chaperones. Conditions and food were meager and my mother, who was eleven years old at the time, was separated from her family. At one point she received a package from her mother, a special treat. In it was a piece of home-baked cake and an orange. Such luxury! How her mother was able to secure those items and get them shipped to her daughter – no one will ever know. My mother cherished those two items beyond measure. Despite being hungry all the time, she just couldn’t bring herself to eat them. Eventually the orange rotted and the bugs got the piece of cake. On top of it all, my mother got a thorough beating when her “wastefulness” was discovered. My mother is over 80 years old now and she still beats herself up over being such a stupid girl and wasting that food. She may never understand or be able to forgive herself.

Call to Action and Why This Matters:

What is it that you have been saving or postponing for some future time that may never come?

• How about that special item of clothing that when you finally have a reason to wear it, it no longer fits.

• How about that special china or silverware that you accumulated after your wedding but only use a couple of times each year (or not at all).

• How about that special treat that you stuck in the back of your freezer and promptly forgot.

• How about money spent on a hobby that you will make time for “as soon as …”

• How about that special trip or dream vacation that you have been putting off for years.

• How about that exercise equipment that you will start to use “when ….”

We probably all have things that we are saving “for a special occasion”, things that we consider so special that they need to be saved.

During a recent power outage that lasted long enough for me to question whether anything in my freezer was still safe to eat I took stock. There was a bag of giant shrimp, probably bought as a special treat several years ago. There was that turkey that never made it onto our Thanksgiving dinner table. There was some steak, badly freezer burned and now melted, purchase date about 5 years ago.

After throwing it all out I vowed to buy special treats and eat them, not save them.

I also unpacked some fancy china that had been in a box much too long.

What will you stop saving and start using, eating, enjoying, make time for – starting NOW?

Taking it Farther:

1. Take a look around. Check your closets, your cabinets, your freezer, your basement or attic or any storage areas you may have.
2. What can you enjoy that you are currently saving?
3. Vow to enjoy life a little more each day.

• If you have a special treat in your freezer declare a special day in the next two weeks and eat it. Even better, invite friends or family to share it with you.
• If you have a special clothing item, plan an outing where you can wear it within the next month.
• If you have special china, declare one day each month (or each week) as special china day, make a meal and create a festive atmosphere to enjoy it.
• If you have a hobby you have been neglecting, set aside a few hours once each week to spend time with it.
• If you have exercise equipment you have been saving, decide if it is something you enjoy doing, would enjoy doing alone or with others. Then carve out time, create a group or get rid of it and get something that you would like instead.
• If you have always wanted to take a trip, start planning it. Research your destination, what you would want to do, how long you would want to be there, how much it will cost, who you would like to go with. Then create a savings account just for that purpose and plan how much money you will contribute to it on a regular basis until you have enough to go. If time is the issue, start to figure out what all needs to be done so you can be gone for that amount of time. Plan it as if you are really going to go — because you are!

Contact me:

If you would like to improve the quality of your life, figure out what you truly want in life, and help you clear the obstacles in your way, call me. For many people coaching can make the difference between what you have now and the life you could have. Live the life you choose. Achieve your goals. Be happy. Lead a balanced life. Call Edith at 847.913.3900 now.

Sink or Swim? Swim no Matter What!

Sink or Swim? Swim no Matter What!

Sometimes life hands you so many lemons you run out of sugar to make lemonade. My sincere apologies to my readers for missing a week of my weekly newsletter. I recommit to publishing these articles weekly — no matter what!

So this article is about resolve: committing to what is most important to you; committing to your goals and dreams; resolve to keep going when the going gets tough; resolve to take big strides when you are able to and tiny steps when the going gets tough. This is about the story of the “Tortoise and the Hare”: steady persistence wins the race, yet what most people don’t talk about is that both the tortoise and the hare cross the finish line. Whether you are more like a tortoise or more like a hare, keep the finish line (your goal) clearly in mind.

Story: Live to Tell

My daughter developed a great deal of interest in the Holocaust as a young child. As a result I read with her and talked with her about many books on the subject. For younger children the book “The Number on my Grandfather’s Arm” by David Adler is an excellent and sensitive introduction to the topic.

One of the things that struck me is how these people, who survived incredible atrocities, could keep their will to live. I wonder if I would have been willing to live through that. For that matter, how can any prisoner of war, who is being tortured, survive without their spirit and will to live being broken? What makes the difference between those who survive and those who don’t?

Those who survived had an incredible will to live. After reading and hearing many books and stories by Holocaust survivors one of the patterns emerged for me, “Live to Tell”. Some of those who survived felt that no one would believe the atrocities unless enough of them survived to tell about it. Their mantra became, “Live to Tell” so justice would be brought and something like this would never be allowed to happen again. Elie Wiesel, a well known survivor and Nobel Prize winner says, “…to remain silent and indifferent is the greatest sin of all…”.

Jakow Trachtenberg, an engineer and also a Holocaust survivor, realized that if he wanted to stay alive, he had to take his mind off the hopeless conditions around him. He decided to focus on developing methods to quickly perform multiplication and division in his head. After his survival he formed the Mathematical Institute in Switzerland.

Many of the survivors had an indestructible will to live. That will went beyond their own life and included a greater good: whether to insure that the atrocities were documented and analyzed so something like this could be prevented in the future, or someone creating a system to help students struggling with math learn a simple system to help them excel.

Call to Action and Why This Matters:

How do you tap into your indestructible will?
Start by asking: What are you good at? Which of your gifts, talents, or expertise do you love to share? How can that make a difference in someone’s life?

In my blog post (TipsToaMoreFulfillingLife) on April 15, 2011 I wrote about how my friend Fran learned to swim. It gives me great satisfaction to know that I helped her overcome her fear of the water and helped her be a swimmer for life.

Just like teaching swimming, I love to help others overcome the obstacles in their life and see them blossom into the people they want to become. That’s why I’m a coach. That’s why I write these articles. That’s what keeps me going when I get handed more lemons than I know what to do with.

You, too, can learn to access this core of who you are and what makes you great, or what keeps you going when you feel like giving up. There are people counting on you for something that only you can give. You are unique and special, whether you give courage by the trials you have overcome or because you have a special gift to share. The world needs what you have to give. There is no one else quite like you, with your unique gifts, experiences and perspectives. YOU MATTER!

Taking it Farther:

In the chapter on “Intention” Barbara Stanny writes in her book “Secrets of Six-Figure Women” that these successful women had various reasons for wanting to be successful but they also had an intention of making money. Yet the intention wasn’t enough. They also had to learn why they didn’t want to make money; what was holding them back.

1. Figure out what you want. Strip away what you think other people want for you. Strip away what you think you should want. Make sure what you think you want is really what YOU want.
2. Figure out why you don’t want what you say you want. What stops you? Why do you waver? Who sabotages your success? Who or what do you blame for your lack of success?
3. If you’re not making the progress you want on your own, come coach with me. Some things in life are not meant to be done alone. Success requires a team. As one of my mentors says, “Success is a team sport”.

Contact me:

If you would like to improve the quality of your life, figure out what you truly want in life, and help you clear the obstacles in your way, call me. For many people coaching can make the difference between what you have now and the life you could have. Live the life you choose. Achieve your goals. Be happy. Lead a balanced life. Call Edith at 847.913.3900 now.

Are You Getting Enough Sleep?

Are You Getting Enough Sleep?

If you are not getting enough sleep you probably don’t even realize it.

“Small amounts of sleep loss (eg, 1 hour per night over many nights) have subtle cognitive costs, which appear to go unrecognized by the individual experiencing the sleep loss. More severe restriction of sleep for a week leads to profound cognitive deficits similar to those seen in some stroke patients, which also appear to go unrecognized by the individual.” (From the website http://www.medscape.com and the research of David Thorne)

In the video game “Zeitgeist”, a character suffering from sleep deprivation, then fatigue, then exhaustion, suffers increasingly severe penalties (can’t do spells, less strength and dexterity). In the game the penalties for sleep deprivation are obvious. If we could invent an easy to use “thermometer” for measuring sleep deprivation, and a chart of penalties at each degree of sleep deprivation, may be then we would take our own need for sleep more seriously.

Story: Sleeplessness and Diabetes

“Short-term sleep deprivation has been implicated in contributing to obesity as well as glycemia dysregulation contributing to poor control of type II diabetes.” (From the website http://www.medscape.com)

For as long as I have known my father, he has had trouble sleeping. Nothing ever seemed to help for very long. As an adult he developed diabetes. He felt it was one of a series of complications of his condition.
After my daughter was born, I took her with me on a visit to my father. Because of the diabetes he had been blind for some time and had lost all sensation in his hands. Yet he wanted to see his grandchild. So he came up with an idea. On a bright sunny day we went outside and while my Dad was facing into the sun, I held my daughter up in the bright light. He could tell just enough of a difference between the sun and her shadow to “see” his first grandchild.

Call to Action and Why This Matters:

There is more and more research confirming that not enough sleep is bad for us. Yet we pride ourselves on being able to do all-nighters. With on-line games, TV and the Internet we can have things to do and people to interact with any time of day or night. The temptations are hard to resist and our lack of awareness of the consequences on our health make it even less compelling to change.

If you know you are not getting enough sleep, or you feel that you have issues falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up after only a few hours of sleep, consider getting help. Find out if a medical condition prevents you from getting the sleep your body needs.

Taking it Farther:

Stress is one of the causes of sleeplessness. Forcing ourselves to sleep less because we have too much to do is one of the reasons we develop poor sleep habits. Learning to respond to stressors with equanimity, learning to prioritize, letting go of time wasters such as procrastination can help as well. Strengthening your boundaries and being able to say “no” to requests by others is an important skill in managing your time and stress. Unless there is a medical condition that prevents you from sleeping or sleeping enough, reducing stress and improving time management skills can be an important option to improving the quality of your life, health, and sleep.

Contact me:

If you would like to improve the quality of your life and learn to reduce stress and time pressure, call me to learn how coaching can help. Live the life you choose. Achieve your goals. Be happy. Lead a balanced life. Call Edith at 847.913.3900.

Do You Have Co-dependent Traits? How That Matters

Do You Have Co-dependent Traits? How That Matters

The level of independence and inter-dependence you have achieved so far may directly affect your happiness and success in the world.

Do we all have co-dependent traits? As children we grow up depending on adult care-takers. Being dependent is what we know best. As we grow up we may become co-dependent. We may fight against dependence by becoming fiercely independent. That can be very lonely. Don’t stop there. The next step in the evolution towards healthy relationships is inter-dependence. My belief is that inter-dependence is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, where healthy and happy relationships exist.

If you struggle with relationships, you are not alone. All humans start out being dependent. In fact other mammals and birds do too. At some point they have to learn to become independent. We even say when our children leave home that the parents are “empty nesters”. There are other living creatures, fish for example, which are born independent and on their own from birth.

Let’s take a look at some traits in each of the dependence categories:

1. DEPENDENCE: one who relies on another
In their books, Dr Cloud and Dr Townsend talk about three types of dependence of adult children on their parents:
• As a source of things they need
• As a guardian to protect them from the world and their own immaturity
• As a manager to oversee that they get everything done responsibly
In this type of relationship individuals cannot function or survive apart from one another. The parent may be fostering the dependence for their own co-dependent needs.
2. CO-DEPENDENCE: a psychologically unhealthy relationship in which one person perpetuates another’s addiction or harmful behavior.
• Need to be needed by people they can rescue
• Will do anything to avoid feeling abandoned
• Avoid asserting themselves
• Poor communication skills (avoid confronting and resolving issues)
• Chronic anger
• Problems with boundaries
• Dishonesty
• Trying to make a relationship work with someone who isn’t interested
• Feeling like they are “the strong one” and superior – to combat their own low self-esteem
These patterns of behavior are often learned and passed on from one generation to the next. A family with an addicted person (alcoholic, dry-drunk, drug addict, workaholic, …) may replicate similar behavior patterns in the next generation.
3. INDEPENDENCE: self governing
• Free from control by others
• Self reliant, not looking for support (financial or other care) from others
• Not looking to others for one’s opinions or guidance on conduct
• Financially independent – not having to work for others for a living
• Freedom of choice
4. INTER-DEPENDENCE: combines independence with devotion to a larger group (like family or community) or cooperation on a common goal.
• A dynamic of being mutually and physically responsible to, and sharing a common set of principles with others.
• All participants are emotionally, economically, ecologically and/or morally self-reliant while at the same time responsible to each other.
Interdependent relationships are those that depend on two or more cooperative autonomous participants.

Story: From Financial Dependence to Helping Others

“A person who is an under earner is unequivocally co-dependent” says Barbara Stanny in her book “Secrets of Six-Figure Women”. Ms Stanny is the daughter of Richard Bloch, co-founder of H&R Block, a tax preparation and personal finance company. She tells her story of always having plenty of money when she grew up. According to her, she had a large trust fund and her Dad didn’t teach her about money – because she’d never have to worry about it. When Barbara got married she turned the management of her trust fund over to her husband. Only much too late did she find out that her husband had a gambling problem and she found herself penniless and in debt, owing over a million dollars in back taxes.

Her Dad was unwilling to rescue her, so she had to learn how to earn and manage money. She now teaches what she has learned to others.

Why Create Inter-dependent Relationships?

Issues with money are one of the places where your relationship challenges show up. Another is whether you feel safe in your relationships to bring up difficult issues, be heard, and move towards resolution. Secrecy and too much independence, or enmeshment and too little independence are both problematic. Moving towards healthy inter-dependence provides much satisfaction in relationships.

Healthy inter-dependent relationships have as a foundation that each person is ok the way they are and is willing to grow. It involves being honest and kind and addressing and resolving issues that arise.

Finding people with whom you can create healthy inter-dependent relationships requires the ability to be discerning, being able to see self and others clearly, to go into relationships with eyes wide open. As we heal childhood wounds (you don’t have to have had severe childhood difficulties to have wounds), we can see ourselves more and more clearly – without the distortion filter of wounds. “Wound distortion filters” allow ourselves to be victimized by others and therefore limit our ability to trust ourselves. That is because each filter covers something that we can’t reconcile and therefore we have created a blind spot.

In “Family Dynamics of Recovery”, Peggy Ferguson, PhD. states that “Healthy interaction with others involves a change from being responsible for others, to being responsible to them.” Another way of saying that we are accountable to one another.

Dependent people want to be taken care of. Independent people want to do it all themselves. Co-dependent people trust those who are untrustworthy, depend on undependable people, love people who are unavailable; they keep repeating the cycle of being a victim. Inter-dependent people choose their relationships wisely and find themselves developing healthy mutually satisfying relationships. They have a commitment to the relationship and see the need for positive changes to grow and prosper in their relationships. There is respect, intimacy, deep connection, good boundaries, and healthy communication.

Contact me:

If you would like to improve the quality of your relationships and heal some of your challenges, call me to learn how coaching can help. Live the life you choose. Achieve your goals. Be happy. Call Edith at 847.913.3900.

Is Making Mistakes Part of Your Strategy?

Is Making Mistakes Part of Your Strategy?

Most of our parents were not psychologists or child development experts. They all did the best they could. They made mistakes. We all make mistakes. We all live with the consequences of our mistakes and the mistakes of others. How you feel about making mistakes can affect your life profoundly.
Alina Tugend, author of “Better By Mistake: The Unexpected Benefits of Being Wrong” writes that the fear of mistakes starts early. One of the reasons is that we say one thing and do another: We say that mistakes provide learning opportunities, but we do everything we can to protect kids from making them.
Robert Brooks and Sam Goldstein, authors of “Raising Resilient Children” two child-development experts write that while we do not want our children to face ongoing failure, to attempt to overprotect them and rush in whenever we fear they might fail at a task robs them of the important lesson, namely that mistakes are experiences from which to learn. It also communicates another subtle or not-so-subtle message to a child: ‘I don’t think you are strong enough to deal with obstacles and mistakes.’

Story: Learning About Natural Consequences and Problem Solving

Learning about the loss of electricity: If you have a power outage and you usually enter your home through an electric garage door opener, you may need to use a key to get into your home.
Here is a possible scenario: You have a teenager. A short but severe wind storm causes damages to power lines in the area and you can expect to be out of power for several days. This has happened before. Your teenager goes to a friend’s house. Next day his friend drops him off and leaves. The teenager did not bring his house key. No one is home and he is stranded in the driveway. You receive a call from an upset teenager. It’s a warm summer day in a safe neighborhood.
What would you do? Drop everything and rush home to let your teenager in the house? Tell him you’ll be home in about an hour and finish your errands? Explain that he should have brought his key or called first or any other “lesson”? Try and help him calm down? How would you handle a situation like this? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Call to Action and Why This Matters:

As adults we all have conscious and not so conscious beliefs about making mistakes. Many of us don’t want to make them. The extent to which we avoid making mistakes creates the limits of our success potential. If you were afraid of making mistakes when learning to ride a bike, you might not have learned to ride one. Balancing on two wheels is not something we are born with. For that matter, we weren’t born to balance on two feet either. At first we fell – repeatedly.

You can observe fear of mistakes especially in companies. So much is at stake. Making mistakes could lose you your job. That would affect your ability to earn a living and severely affect the lifestyle you enjoy and the paycheck you have come to rely on.

How do we avoid making costly mistakes? We fear and resist change.
The irony is that by resisting change and fearing change and mistakes, we may be making the biggest mistake of all. We stay stuck in a very limiting comfort zone.

Here is my suggestion for an antidote:
1. Decide on a goal you want to achieve and are willing to go for.
2. Think of times in the past when you have overcome obstacles and achieved your goal. Know that you can solve problems and obstacles when they get in your way. Trust that you’ll be able to recover from your mistakes.
3. Have courage to take steps towards your goal. Be willing to take actions, some of which might turn out to be mistakes and learning opportunities.
4. When you hit a wall, start looking for ways around or through. You may need a ladder or a key. Get help.
5. Laugh. Laughing dissolves tension. It allows you to see the humor in a situation. It tends to get people unstuck.
6. Keep going. Sometimes you get to ride an express train for part of your life’s journey. Other times it feels like you are riding on the back of a snail. Just keep going.
7. Celebrate. Take time to celebrate your successes and milestones. Take time to reflect and notice how far you have come.

Contact me:

If you would like to know about what energy you bring to your life’s journey and how to bring more energy into your life, call me to schedule an Energy Assessment and coaching. Live the life you choose. Achieve your goals. Be happy. Call Edith at 847.913.3900.

What is the Quality of Your Life?

What is the Quality of Your Life?

This is a message from a dream: In the dream my aging mother asked me, “What is the quality of your life?” I woke up pondering how to answer. How does one answer that?

There are of course the physical qualities of life: here in the Chicago area we are just recovering from a short but devastating windstorm. So I am grateful for the electricity that has just returned: running water, warm showers, toilets that flush, light, air conditioning, refrigerated foods, and a roof over my head that doesn’t have a tree sticking out of it.

Going beyond the personal comfort, there is the convenience of roads free from fallen power lines and trees as well as stop and go lights that restore a more orderly flow of traffic.

Next is being instantaneously connected to the outside world with the internet: email, social media, news and anything you want to know at your fingertips, movies and books to download 24 hours a day.

Oh —- how 2 days without all these conveniences can give you a new perspective on what we take for granted.

But I don’t think that was what my mother was asking about in the dream. There is a different quality of life she was asking about. She was asking, “Are you happy?”

I’m so Bored – Life is so Easy

Just because I could, I have been catching up on reading some Facebook posts. The variety is astounding. Students out of school for the summer lamenting that they are bored and can’t wait to get back to school. A guy in Austria won a lawsuit against his government that allows him to wear a colander on his head for his driver’s license photo – for religious reasons. The French government has outlawed burka face veils. Someone is looking for a new apartment. Another person is relieved that she is once again single. Someone is proposing that extremely obese children be taken away from their parents – for their protection.

We live in an age of unprecedented ease and instant entertainment. But the entertainment may only cover a deeper longing. We are discontent. The moment we are not busy we are bored. I believe that many people are missing healthy and happy connections with others: meaningful and rewarding interdependent relationships: people valuing people. People being there for one another, to encourage and uplift one another. People are lonely, yet many would rather be alone than be in hurtful relationships. Staying busy keeps us from really noticing.

Call to Action and Why This Matters:

Have you heard the idea that “where there is too much, there is something missing”? We have all the stuff, all the toys, yet deep down we may feel empty inside. What do advertisers really sell when they appear to be selling their latest product? They sell happiness: buy this and you will have friends, you will find love, you will be happy. If that is what we all want – to be happy – so much so that it is used to sell anything from pain relief to cars, then what is it that makes us happy? What makes us happy deep down inside? I believe it is relationships – the good ones. So how do we create those relationships?

1. Be respectful towards each other
2. Communicate: Listen
3. Communicate: Feel heard and understood
4. Spend quality time with each other
5. Create happy memories together
6. Develop a feeling of contentment with each other
7. Develop trust and interdependence – a well working team

I am blessed with a rich network of friends: some spanning over a decade of friendship, others more recent. We talk, we laugh, we cry, we make happy memories; we are content just being in each other’s company. We do simple things together: cooking, eating, going for a walk, going swimming or skating or kayaking, hanging out at the beach or pool, solving a computer problem or completing a sewing project, helping each other where a second pair of hands is needed. Most of all we are content in each other’s company. When issues arise, we talk about them calmly to resolve them. We learn from each other. We spend time doing things we each enjoy. We encourage, support, and uplift each other.

I encourage you to look at your life and the people in them: Who are the five people you spend the most time with? Are those relationships good for you? How can you make them better? Is there anyone who is not in the top five who you would like to spend more time with? Is there anyone in the top five who you would like to spend less time with? In which relationships do you feel happy, accepted and at ease?

Taking it Farther:

To have a friend – be a friend. Once you have identified the five people you most want to spend time with, look for ways to be together and reach out to them to see if that works for them as well. Find a balance with each person that works for both of you. Keep communication lines open so that issues are resolved as they come up and there is little opportunity for anger, resentment, blame or other destructive emotions to poison the relationship. In other words, just like in your home, take the garbage out on a regular basis.

Resources:

Book: “How to have that difficult conversation you’ve been avoiding” by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend

Visual and Tape: “The communication map” by David Steele http://www.relationshipcoachinginstitute.com/resources.htm – then go to “Other Products”

Online: http://www.Meetup.com to find a group of like-minded people or start your own group. Almost any topic you can imagine.

Contact me:

If you would like to know about what energy you bring to your relationships and how to bring more positive energy into your life, call me to schedule an Energy Assessment and coaching. Live the life you choose. Be happy. Call Edith at 847.913.3900.

You Aren’t Afraid for the Reasons You Think

You Aren’t Afraid For The Reasons You Think

Are you afraid? What are you afraid of? Why? What’s underneath it?

We have many experiences in life that have caused us to be fearful. Young children try to make sense of the world. When others in their lives act in ways they don’t understand, the child tries to make sense of it. Often the child will assume that it is somehow their fault. So they start limiting themselves of things that are dangerous to do or things that will get them into trouble: don’t steal things, don’t eat sweets before a meal, don’t play or have fun when someone is in a bad mood, don’t smile when someone is angry, fear of loud noises, … What are things you learned to be afraid of as a child?

Story: A Father’s Fear

This is a story I heard a long time ago about a fearful father. The story went something like this. The father had a daughter. One day, for the first time, she experimented with makeup. She wasn’t very good at it. She spent a lot of time until she got it to where she thought she looked pretty. She was proud of herself. As in many early attempts, it was way overdone, not very subtle.

Her father saw her. Seemingly out of nowhere he went into a rage and hurt her severely. Years later when he and his daughter made peace, they finally understood what had happened.

The father had been the son of a prostitute. At some point he became the person who was expected to find customers for his mother if he wanted to eat. His mother had worn overdone makeup. He decided that when he grew up, he would walk away from it all and he had. His daughter’s inexperienced overdone application of makeup had triggered those earlier memories with such a force, that he went out of control and into a rage before he even knew what had happened. His fear transferred to the next generation. Without realizing it the father had been afraid that his daughter might become a prostitute. The makeup triggered that fear. In the end he couldn’t walk away from his fears but had to acknowledge and work through them and heal them. Only then could he be free of the fear and rebuild a relationship with his daughter. In the meanwhile his daughter had learned to apply makeup in a way that was truly flattering to her.

Call to Action and Why This Matters:

We can spend a lifetime working through all our fears. Or we can spend a lifetime working through the fears that stand between us and what we most aspire to. Our fears will keep getting in the way until they are resolved. Decide what you most want in life. Then work through those fears first that stand between you and what you’ve chosen. There are four ways to deal with fears: flight, fight, freeze or face.

1. Flight: Avoid fearful situations. In extreme circumstances they become phobias: fear of snakes or spiders, fear of heights, hear of crowds, fear of germs and sickness, fear of nothing to do and boredom, fear of being wrong and making mistakes, fear of anger.
2. Fight: Respond in anger. Many people are afraid of anger in someone else. Becoming angry therefore can become a defense against whatever you are afraid of. It keeps people at a distance.
3. Freeze: Some hunted animals, when escaping from their predators isn’t an option any more, will play dead. Some predators will only eat live pray. People who freeze, basically “hold their breath” hoping the frightening situation passes soon. They may be unable to move or take action.
4. Face your Fears: Fears hold you back from what you might otherwise enjoy. The more you want something and are afraid of failing, the more difficult it may be for you to act. Taking action steps towards what you want, being willing to fail, taking a risk, overcoming an obstacle – that is where your greatest satisfactions and accomplishments will come from. And some of your greatest disappointments. The challenge lies in deciding what you want, then going for it, and being ok with achieving or failing to achieve what you want.

Taking it Farther:

To truly heal a fear, you can keep taking action until you are no longer afraid. For example if you are afraid to try new things, you might have been afraid of learning to use a computer and using email. At some point you became comfortable with it and you are no longer afraid. Repetition over a period of time dissolved your fear.

Other fears, like in the story of the fearful father, can more easily be traced back to an event or experience in childhood. Understanding those situations more fully (a girl experimenting with makeup does not signify that she on the path of becoming a prostitute) helps you let go of triggers. There are many ways to let go of triggers: tapping, therapy, Neuro Emotional Technique, coaching, and others. The important thing is to identify and let go of triggers that prevent you from achieving those things most important to you in your life.

Contact me:

If you would like to know about your energy levels and how to bring more positive energy into your life, call me to schedule an Energy Assessment and coaching. Start living the life you choose. Call Edith at 847.913.3900.

Are You in Control of Your Own Life or a Victim of Circumstances? You Can Change All That.

Are You in Control of Your Own Life or a Victim of Circumstances? You Can Change All That.

Many of us have “Good Days” and “Bad Days” and most of it is out of our control. Or is it?

Sometimes we get out of bed and something bad happens right away and we might say, “It’s gonna be a bad day.” The day has barely started and we have already written it off as hopeless.

On the other hand, after many days of rain, the sun is finally shining and we feel re-energized and ready to tackle anything.

How often do you feel like you are in charge of your own life and how often do you feel like a victim of circumstances? Did you know that you can change that? Did you know that your percentages can be measured with an Energy Assessment and the results also give you information on where your life view is preventing you from living the life you deserve?

Story: How is your energy?

Several years ago I found out about an assessment tool, which I now offer to my clients: the Energy Assessment. Here is my personal experience with it. The tool measures what percentage of our lives we live “below the line” in emotions of victimhood and anger, and how much time we spend “above the line” feeling in charge of our lives. Because I was so impressed with the results I decided to train to administer the assessment.

So, only a few months later, as part of the training, I took the assessment again. In the meanwhile, an event that was traumatic to me happened in my life. I was surprised that there was a noticeable change on the assessment. It certainly reflected the way I was feeling then. When I questioned the instructor, the creator of the assessment, he was only surprised that the event didn’t affect me even more profoundly. So I know first hand, that outside influences can change the way we view ourselves within the world and that the impact of a major event can be measured. Even more importantly, we can positively affect how we respond to life’s rollercoaster ride. We can change our energy and our worldview, so that the “downs” don’t get us down for as long and we can be “up” more of the time. Wouldn’t you like to be up more of the time? It is possible, despite whatever life dishes out for you.

Call to Action and Why This Matters:

Knowing where you are now is always the first step to getting where you want to go. Knowing where you want to go from here is usually the second step. Reducing how often and for how long you feel like a victim, respond in anger, harbor resentments or similar emotions, will free you up to enjoy life more and take constructive actions on your behalf.

Make a list of where in your life you feel hurt, not in control, angry or resentful. Can you see patterns that repeat? Once you see a repeating pattern you have identified something in your life that doesn’t work for you. Think back of the last time a situation like that happened. What happened first? What happened before that? Oftentimes we can understand a situation better if we back up to what happened just before. That may be where we get the early warning sign that we are about to enter into a painful pattern.

Once you know the early warning sign, you can make some decisions. Next time that happens what will you do differently? It isn’t so important what you do, as long as you are willing to try something different until you find a new pattern that works better for you.

Example: You may be able to tell by the way your spouse enters the house after a day at work, whether they had a good day or a bad day, whether you can have a difficult conversation, whether they need your support or whether you need to stay clear of him or her.

Taking it Farther:

When you start on the path of changing the things that aren’t working for you in a relationship, it can get unstable for a time. We are creatures of habit and change is unsettling for most people. If your relationship (whether with spouse, kids, friends, or coworkers) is generally sound, you may be able to have a conversation about the patterns that don’t work for you and jointly come to a better way of interacting. Sometimes the other person truly doesn’t realize how painful a situation is for you. Then you have the opportunity to create a more loving relationship. On the other hand, if open communication is not possible, then all you can do is change your part of a situation. I guarantee that it’ll change things, but not necessarily for the better. Try different things. If the other person redoubles their efforts to maintain the status quo, you may eventually be faced with a choice: learn to accept them the way they are and heal as best as you can so you no longer hurt as much, or sever or minimize the relationship. Realize of course, that if it is you that needs to change, you will attract other people who will treat you badly until you change and heal. Once you heal, it is amazing how you attract more people who are nice and loving. From my experience, it is so worth the journey. Life definitely gets much easier and “in the flow” more often.

Contact me:

If you would like to know your current energy scores of how much negativity you have in your life and how to bring in more positives, call me to schedule an Energy Assessment. Start having the life you choose. Call Edith at 847.913.3900.

Summer Fun Times – and a Time to Reflect

Summer Fun Times – and a Time to Reflect

Do you have special plans this summer? What are they?
It’s the season of vacations, travel, letting your hair down, fun with the kids, lazy days at the beach, or rollercoaster rides. It is a time to recharge your personal batteries, a time to reflect, and a time to do the things you’ve put off all year or even for a lifetime. It’s also a time for celebrations: Independence Day, families and friends getting together, picnics.

What does your style of fun say about you?

At the end of fun times, how do you feel? Satisfied or relieved; content or upset, or ….

Or are you working hard and believe that fun just doesn’t belong on your calendar?

If you are willing, share your thoughts, privately to me, with a friend, or publicly comment on my blog.

Story: Round Trip: Chicago to California

2 boys racing down a sand dune

2 boys racing down a sand dune

When my kids were young, we took a five-week car trip from Chicago to California and back. Five weeks of togetherness in a VW Weekender: van by day, camper by night. All throughout we listened to great books on tape, learning “How to Eat fried Worms” and other great stories. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/How_to_Eat_Fried_Worms It was a trip of much fun, contentment, exploration and learning, with the destination of visiting relatives at our half way mark. Along the way we saw dinosaur bones, petrified forests, wildflowers blooming in the desert, some of the biggest trees in the world: the sequoia trees. We also had many less memorable moments of good times, stopping at parks, eating ice cream by sucking it out of the bottom of the cone and managing Chinese food with chopsticks. Then there were the large dunes, where my son “ate dirt”. He and his brother climbed a big sand dune and then ran down as fast as possible, eventually crashing and rolling down. When he reached the bottom he was laughing hard and he had sand everywhere: from his eyelashes and between his teeth to between his toes. Great memories!

Call to Action and Why This Matters:

We make plans and then life happens. Or we don’t make plans. A five-week trip with three young children in a minivan takes some planning. The memories will always warm my heart. Life doesn’t always go the way we want and undoubtedly there will be disappointments and plans and goals that don’t come to fruition. On the other hand, the things we plan and that come together for us, those are the ones that make life worthwhile.

So —- I encourage you to make some plans: big ones and little ones. Reconnect with a friend; spend some time with your kids or grandkids if you have them; enjoy reading a great books in a favorite location; plan a trip or an adventure; make a list of 20 things you enjoy doing that are free. Examples are: go for a walk in a beautiful park or neighborhood. Find out if a nearby museum has a day when admission is free. Go see the 4th of July fireworks. Talk to a friend. If there is a river or lake nearby, go fishing or just enjoy the calming influence of the water. Go to your public library and check out some great books, audiotapes, and movies. Watch the movies with friends. Have a picnic in a park or spread a blanket on the floor and have a picnic in the comfort of your own home. Above all: have fun and create happy memories. Pick a bunch of yellow dandelions and have the bright color liven up your room. Take a photo to remind you later.

What free things do you enjoy doing? Let’s use the comments to create a BIG list of ideas for free summer fun.

Taking it Farther:

Make a list of free or inexpensive things you like doing and that you can sprinkle into your days. It’ll brighten up your days to know you have fun things planned. Make time (1/2 hour or more) to do them several days per week.

Plan something bigger: a vacation, a trip, a cottage by the beach or in the mountains, a skill you’ve always wanted to learn, something that is meaningful and heart warming to you. Something you’ve always wanted to do. On a regular basis set aside some time to research it, plan it, and take action towards it, including how to set aside some money monthly to build the fund to do it.

I have heard it said, that there are no impossible goals, only impossible timeframes.

Above all: have some goals, live life, be happy, and have fun!

Contact me:

If this was helpful and you want more, I’m here for you. Call to schedule coaching and start moving towards having the life you choose. Call Edith at 847.913.3900.

Good Habits – Bad Habits. Are You Sure?

Good Habits – Bad Habits.  Are you sure?

Good Habits: Work hard, Play hard. Lead by example.
Bad Habits: Alcohol is bad for you. Banish procrastination.

We all have beliefs about what are good habits and what are bad habits. My grandfather said that eating an egg or two a day was good for you. Today people are concerned about the cholesterol in eggs. They used to have prohibition in the United States because alcohol was surely an evil thing. Now you’re supposed to drink a glass of red wine per day for your health.

In the end, what was once a good habit may now be a bad habit: spanking children for example.

So, may I suggest that we are raised to believe certain behaviors are good or bad. So we believe. Yet we keep doing what we are doing. May be there is some benefit to what we are doing, our “bad habits” actually serve a purpose. If you could imagine that your bad habits are in some way perfect for you – what purpose do they serve? Finding the good in a bad habit might just be the trick.

Story: Good Luck – Bad Luck. Who’s to know?

Here is a brief portion of a story I’ve heard many times and told in many different ways. You may have heard it too.

In the olden days, a farmer was plowing his field. One day his son, who had been gone for a long time, returned home. The father was glad to see him and invited all the neighbors to celebrate the homecoming. The neighbors said, “Now that you are getting older, it’s sure good luck that your son has returned home and can help out with the farm.” The old farmer replied, “Good luck, bad luck, who’s to know.” The neighbors just shook their heads.

It wasn’t long that the son broke his leg. Again the neighbors commented, “That is surely bad luck.” The old farmer just replied, “Good luck, bad luck, who’s to know.”

Next, they heard that a recruiter for the king was coming to take away all able-bodied young men for the king’s army, since the king was getting ready to fight a war. The farmer’s son was left behind because of the broken leg. The neighbors again commented, “What good luck that was.” The old farmer just replied, “Good luck, bad luck, who’s to know.”

Call to Action and Why This Matters:

Have you ever made a list of all your good habits and another list of all your bad habits? Try it. Which list is longer?

Are there any pairs like the following?
Good Habit: work hard —- Bad Habit: procrastinate
Good Habit: Act as if you have your life all together —- Bad Habit: Get drunk on a Friday night

The source of the bad habit might be the good habit. If you work hard and don’t allow yourself to relax and enjoy, then just maybe, the only way for you to relax is to procrastinate. When you ease up on the good habit and find a better balance in your life, the procrastination may disappear as well. If you look like you have it all together, there is a point when you can’t keep up the façade. Getting drunk allows you to forget it all for a little while.

So, if trying to change a bad habit hasn’t worked for you, try changing a good habit. Find a better balance and see how it affects your bad habit.

Taking it Farther:

1. Identify a habit you would like to change
2. Determine what you want to change it to
3. Decide if you can commit to doing this for 90 days
4. If you can’t commit to 90 days, pick something you can succeed at. Start small and be successful.
5. After 30 days, evaluate. If you are satisfied, then recommit. Otherwise make adjustments.

I recommend focusing on one habit at a time. Give it three months to live into your new habit in a way that works for you. It may not seem like a lot, but at four habits per year, you will have twenty improved habits in five years. I guarantee it; your life will be different!

Contact me:

If this was helpful and you want more, I’m here for you. Call to schedule coaching and start living the life you choose. Call Edith at 847.913.3900.

Good Grief! Is Grief Good for You?

Good Grief! Is Grief good for you?

Are you de-pressed? If unresolved grief is weighing you down, you might be “pressed down” by the weight of it. If the memories are a constant in your life (you think about it at least weekly), your life might be held in place like a boat with an anchor.

So what is grief?

Grief is deep distress at the loss of something valued or necessary, something taken from you without your agreement.

We can grieve the loss of people in our lives. We can also grieve the loss of a job, loss of a sense of feeling secure when incurring a major financial blow, losing the comfortable and familiar when moving, or the loss of our health. We may also grieve the loss of a belief: losing trust after a confidence or commitment was not kept, a broken promise. If grief stays unresolved, we add to our burden of grief that we carry around with us. It weighs us down or de-presses us.

Therefore, resolving grief and bringing closure will free us up, will give us room for more energy and joy in our lives.

Story: Resolve your differences – regularly

I was recently shown photos from a funeral. One of the photos showed two sisters who attended the funeral ceremony of their mother. The expressions on their faces were very different. One face was stricken with grief – the other was at peace.

Here is what I was told. One of the sisters spent time with her mother as her mother’s health was failing. They talked things out. When the mother passed away, there was a sense of peace and closure. Things were resolved. Her mother was no longer suffering in ill-health and in pain. Old emotional wounds had been healed.

The other sister had a lot of unresolved anger and grief. She and her mother didn’t speak. That daughter couldn’t bring herself to visit her mother in the final couple of years or even call her. Old grudges and anger and disagreements were never dealt with. Now that sister has deep lines of grief forming on her face. She is suffering.

Call to Action and Why This Matters:

To heal unresolved grief means that you need to bring closure to something you may have had no control over, something that is left unresolved. You didn’t choose the timing. You had unfinished business. You don’t know how to resolve the unfinished business. The other person isn’t there to resolve it, or you feel unable to take steps towards resolution. How can you move on?

First of all, recognize that unresolved grief weighs you down. To lighten the load is to be able to live life more fully. It’s like putting down a backpack filled with rocks. You can move more freely without it, run faster, have more fun, and feel unencumbered.

Secondly, get clear on where you have unresolved grief. Did you feel that a friend has betrayed your confidence? Was a promise broken? Did your job evaporate despite your best efforts and commitment to the company where you worked? Did a relationship end? Did you lose your nest egg in the recent financial upheaval?

Thirdly, where is the judgment? Do you blame yourself for making poor choices or do you blame others: your boss, the economy, your partner, your friend?

Sometimes when we become clear on what grief we are holding onto, it will start to release all on its own. Clarity can bring a certain amount of healing.

Next, welcoming grief into our life is a big step for many. We have been taught to suppress our emotions, or at least the “negative” emotions. We are supposed to be strong and not show our vulnerabilities. This may be even harder for many men than for women. So go easy on yourself. How? Set aside some time when you are undisturbed and in a comfortable place. Think of an area of your life where you feel you have unresolved grief. Try to feel it fully. Welcome it into your consciousness. Then ask yourself if you could let go of this unresolved grief and when. Repeat the questions until you feel done or feel a sense of peace. This particular line of questioning is inspired by materials from “The Sedona Method”. For more information go to http://www.sedona.com/

Taking it Farther:

There are many ways to deal with grief. Aurora Winter uses a series of questions starting with, “If you had known that your spouse was going to die young, would you have still chosen to be with them?” For many the realization that they cherish the time they did have, releases much of the grief. In her book, “From Heartbreak to Happiness” she chronicles her own story.

There are many resources to help you process your grief. Healing grief through regular healthy communication is probably best, when that option is still available. I can help you bring closure.

Contact me:

If this was helpful and you want more, I’m here for you.  Call to schedule coaching and start living the life you choose. Call Edith at 847.913.3900.

You Have a Graduate. Congratulations! —- Now What?

You Have a Graduate. Congratulations! —- Now What?

Are you the parent, relative or friend of someone who is graduating? Or may be you are finally getting that long coveted degree? Now what?

What are the options and how viable are they for you or that someone you care about? Do you have helpful ideas or inspiring experiences you would like to share? Share them by leaving a comment. Or feel free to send them to me with the subject line “Graduate”.

Here is a short list of ideas of what to do next:
• Do nothing
• Get more education
• If you already have a job, ask for a raise
• Get a job or a better job
• Go into the armed services
• Become a consultant
• Be unemployed
• Depend on someone else to support you
• Do a gap year: volunteer or see the world
• Volunteer
• Get an Internship
• Start a business

The bottom line is that you have been learning to do something. Hopefully it has prepared you for something you want to do. Now you need to shift gears from being a learner to someone who applies all that knowledge and skill to help others. And get paid for it.

There used to be a couple simple steps to making that transition.

• In the olden days, you became an apprentice.
• In the more modern era of educational choices, you got an education, created a resume, and got a job.
• A small number of people start companies.
• An even smaller number of people start companies that become successful.

In today’s job seeker climate of higher unemployment and job uncertainty, and with all the available technology, starting a small, home-based business is becoming a more tempting alternative.

Story: Drop out of college, get $100,000

“Peter Thiel, the PayPal co-founder and one of the first investors in Facebook, is proposing a controversial path toward more rapid innovation. His Thiel Foundation announced that it was giving 24 people under 20 $100,000 fellowships to drop out of school for two years to start their own companies.” Read more here: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2011/05/25/136646918/paypal-co-founder-hands-out-100-000-fellowships-to-not-go-to-college

This is an interesting debate. I think that a college degree has long been seen as the ticket to a better life. Getting a degree from the “right” school has been viewed as the ticket into the elite clubs. Was it true? Is it true now? What do you think?

I have read that education was invented to create a “conveyor belt” approach to creating qualified people to work in the factories of the industrial revolution. Kids were filled up with knowledge they would need to know to fill a job in a factory. In the process these young people were also sorted to find the obedient ones who willingly sat through whatever information they were taught and would make excellent candidates for the mindless repetitive work of a conveyor belt or assembly line. But that was a long time ago. Education has morphed. Or has it?

Education for the most part treats learners as empty vessels to be filled up with information. At the other end of the spectrum are the homeschooling stars that have been given the freedom to discover their passion early in life and were encouraged to pursue it. They love learning and are more likely to become lifelong learners. People like homeschooling superstar Evan O’Dorney, the 2011 winner of the prestigious “Intel Science Talent Search” $100,000 award. http://www.societyforscience.org/STS and http://blog.drwile.com/?p=5140

Call to Action and Why This Matters:

My feeling is that in education we have it backwards. Instead of learning first and then figuring out what to do with it, we need to start with the end in mind.

Spending a large sum of money to go to college with the hopes of figuring it out later, could become a burdensome financial obligation with uncertain outcomes and potentially a decade long debt to repay. Trying to figure out where the jobs are going to be when you graduate, or betting on “safe careers” or respectable careers like doctor or lawyer or scientist aren’t necessarily going to work either.

Think of all the computer people who thought theirs was a safe well-paying job, who have had their jobs outsourced to India and other countries. Now they have job skills that are fading fast, on top of that may be they never liked the work in the first place. Ouch.

Let’s use the analogy of the car GPS. If you don’t know where you are going, chances are slim that you will get to your destination. If, on the other hand, your car has a GPS and you put in your desired destination, then the car’s guidance system will help you get there. I think education should be approached in the same way. Figure out where you want to go in your career, then figure out the best educational options to get you there. Here is what I suggest.

Prioritize your goals.
1. If you need to pay your bills so you can eat, by all means look for a job now. Get educated on what it takes to find a job in today’s job market. There are many resources: the library, internet searches, Job ministries at your local church or synagogue, job circles and educational programs at community colleges, the unemployment office. Lots of people are there who want to help you succeed.
2. If you have time, get clear on what you love to do, your interests and strengths. Who are you and what makes you tick? Connect with people who do what you might want to do. Volunteer, do an internship, or get a job in a field where you can observe people who do what you might want to do. Do some informational interviewing to find out what those people love and hate about their work. Get educated about the field you want to work in. Nowadays, whether you are looking for a job or building a business, people want to work with people who are good at what they do AND who love doing what they do.
3. Have a clear vision of where you want to go. Every road has construction zones and detours. Every job has its tedious and unpleasant sides. If you don’t have a compelling vision of where you are going and why you are going there, you’re more likely to get derailed or give up.

Taking it Farther:

If you are like most people, you have been taught to sit still, be obedient, turn in your homework on time, and get either stickers and smiley faces for good behavior or the dreaded red marker all over your papers to let you know that you are not measuring up. Somebody else decided if you are good enough or not.

Isn’t it time to decide for yourself that you are good enough and exactly what you are good at? I believe that every one of us has the potential to make a valuable contribution. What might yours be?

Contact me:

If this was helpful and you want more, I’m here for you. Call to schedule coaching and start living the life you choose. Call Edith at 847.913.3900. You can also reach me at Edith@esCoach.com.

The Origins of Comfort Eating and what to do about it

The Origins of Comfort Eating and what to do about it.

Often our emotional state is reflected in our eating behaviors. It feels like there is an umbilical cord between how we feel and how we eat. It doesn’t have to be that way. We can learn to sever the umbilical cord between our emotions and what we put into our mouths.

Reaching for food when life is hard is something many of us are familiar with. We were trained to do that.

I see it all the time. A baby is cranky or just noisy (at the store, in a house of worship, at a family gathering, at the doctor’s office, …).  Next, the baby is offered something to put into its mouth: a pacifier or a bottle. An older child gets a piece of candy at the bank, the doctor’s office or for good behavior. The opposite is also true: the bribe or withholding trick: if you’re good you’ll get ice cream. Or “no dessert for you, you’ve been bad”. Is it any wonder that when we finally get control over our own food supply, we do what feels emotionally supportive, rather than what we know is healthy for us?

Here are some examples for how it can play out in our lives now.

1. A couple of years ago I reconnected with someone I hadn’t seen in a long time. I know her to be health conscious and fit. As her husband was battling cancer, she gained a lot of weight. She said she was comfort eating. She couldn’t help it.

2. Some years ago I was shocked at my response when my life coach asked me what my definition of SUCCESS was. When I looked deeply inside me, the surprising answer I found was “being able to buy and eat any food I want”.  That was the beginning of a profound shift in my relationship with food.

Surprisingly, we don’t just run away from “bad” feelings. We run away from “good” feelings as well. Following is an example.

Story: Anxious about being excited

Recently while at the roller-skating rink I had the chance to observe a family waiting in line. It appeared to me that the mother of three young girls was very uncomfortable with her daughters being excited about going skating. She tried to squash any sign of happiness and excitement with threats like “if you don’t stand still, we’ll just go home” and “you’ll just have to sit in the car while we skate” and “you’re spoiling it for everybody”. Later I saw them again in the snack bar. It hadn’t stopped. “Sit still” and “NO! You can’t have a pretzel”, sounded more like a drill sergeant rebuking a new recruit than a rational conversation.

So, what are these three young girls learning about being excited and having fun? Probably the same thing their mother learned when she was young: “it’s not safe to be excited” and “things calm down when everybody is eating”.  So, don’t be surprised if you are stress eating when you are happy or excited.

Call to Action and Why This Matters:

I don’t need to tell you the benefits of a healthy body. I don’t need to tell you about just having more willpower. I don’t need to tell you about one more diet to try, or one more trick to keep you from food you desperately want to eat. If you and food have an adversarial relationship – you have probably tried them all.

Are you ready to change all that? Ready to start to de-link your connection between emotions and food? Like any habit, even those you have had for a long time, reaching for comforting food can be replaced with other behavior.

Start with awareness: how and when do you self soothe with food?

  • Do you lose your appetite?
  • Do you eat for comfort?
  • Do you tend to go for sweet or salty comfort food?
  • Do you eat until you go numb or the discomfort from overeating is greater than the uncomfortable feelings you had before?
  • When your life feels out of control, do you engage in “control over food behavior” such as anorexia or bulimia?

Take a moment and reflect on today or yesterday while it is fresh in your mind. Did you eat something you wish you hadn’t? How were you feeling afterwards? Did you feel stuffed, disgusted, muted, satisfied, numbed, nauseous, calm? OK. What emotions were you feeling before you started to eat, emotions you were covering up that might have been too uncomfortable to feel? What were you running away from, and running to food to help divert you?

Keep a small notebook of situations and emotions that bring you running to food. Then pick one of them that you think you can shift into a new habit that doesn’t involve food. Don’t try to change chocolate cake to carrot sticks. Remember you still need to be comforted. What are things that are comforting to you? A warm bath? A friendly chat with a trusted friend? Sitting on a sunny bench at a nearby park? Some physical activity, like yoga? Listening to some soothing music? Make a list. Find one or more activities that you will substitute for one specific emotional pattern. Plan ahead what you will do the next time that trigger situation occurs. Congratulate yourself every time you succeed and be gentle with yourself if you slip into old patterns. Just recommit to do better next time. I recommend that you go easy on yourself. Focus on changing one pattern every 3 months.

Taking it Farther:

Start to notice why you respond to certain situations as you do. I’ve heard that 10% is what happens to you and 90% is how you respond to what happens. If a situation is not stressful to you, you won’t need comforting. But that is a topic for another article.

Contact me:

If this was helpful and you want more, I’m here for you.  Call to schedule coaching and start living the life you choose. Call Edith at 847.913.3900.

Adjusting Boundaries as a Cure for Stress

Adjusting Boundaries as a Cure for Stress

Some people say there is good stress and bad stress. Would you say that getting married is good stress and getting divorced is bad stress?

It appears that the body does not distinguish between good and bad stress. There are “50 Common Signs and Symptoms of Stress” listed on the American Institute of Stress (AIS) website: http://www.stress.org/topic-effects.htm which includes symptoms like headaches, back pain, nausea, chest pain, fidgeting, overwhelm, excessive hunger or loss of appetite, social withdrawal … You can have these symptoms regardless of the kind of stress you are dealing with. Ask any bride-zilla.

So let’s look a little deeper.

Story: Weddings are about redrawing boundaries

In my past as a wedding photographer, I had the opportunity to work with brides as well as the other businesses that cater to them and their special day. May my observations and thoughts help give you courage to start redrawing your boundaries.

It seems that whatever relationship dynamics exist between the various people planning the wedding are magnified under stress. For example: a bride who hasn’t been able to stand up to her mother about much of anything, will continue to have problems. Freeze, Fight, or Flight? 1. Freeze: the bride feels paralyzed and unable to speak up for what she wants. 2. Fight: the bride may fight her mother on any and every decision. 3. Flight: the bride will avoid including her mother in anything. So what’s the solution? None of those.

Let’s look at close relationships. When you get married you change your primary alliances from the family you came from to your new family unit. But often that is not a conscious decision, or it happens not at all or haphazardly. What you do take with you into your new relationship is how you deal with boundaries. If you had trouble standing up to your parents or siblings, you may have the same trouble in your marriage. If you were expected to maintain peace at all cost or secrecy, you will likely continue to do so.

←—————————————————————————-→
“Put Up With It”                                                                       “Blow Up”

Where are you on the “Put Up With It” to “Blow Up” continuum? Open communications between two people allows you to explore what each of you want and need. It allows you to draw and redraw boundaries and design your relationship consciously and in consideration with each other. And that allows you to build a relationship with very little unresolved stress. Open communication takes courage; lots of courage. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.

Call to Action and Why This Matters:

If you toggle between being a pushover and blowing up, chances are that your relationships are stressful. Your needs are not being met and neither do others feel they can consistently count on you. The gap between how you’d like things to be and the reality is stress. Stress affects the body in negative ways and when it is unresolved, it can cause major health issues.

Taking a stress or anger management class helps you with better self-control when stressed or angry. But that is like putting a band-aid on a toothache. It doesn’t help with the problem.

What can you do? Start observing gaps in communication. Do not sabotage your efforts with talking about big things first, like where to go on vacation, whether to move to a new house, or asking your boss for a raise. Start with little things.

If your spouse or a friend asks, “where would you like to go for dinner?” don’t say something like, “whatever you want is fine with me”. Instead give yourself a little time to think, say something like, “thanks for asking, let me think about what I might like.” Then think about it and come back with a proposal like “I’d really like some fish, how about that xyz restaurant?” or “I really love the atmosphere at abc restaurant? What do you think?” Now you have the opportunity to discuss what you both want. There may be backlash to your new ways at first, especially if you have well-established patterns. It is best to stay as calm as you can.

Talking about little things may seem extremely tedious at first. It is. You are developing a new skill and practicing on small decisions where the stakes are not very high and you are more likely to be willing to compromise. It is like building your muscle to talk things out and find joint solutions. You can move to bigger decisions as your skills improve. Just think of the value of having a calm conversation with your spouse about money, sex, children, work, and household chores. With the right skills, a willing partner, and practice you can get there. You’d be amazed how many people will eventually respond favorably to your new way of being in relationship. And you’ll find out who won’t.

Taking it Farther:
There are a variety of excellent materials on boundaries. Dr. Cloud and Dr. Townsend have co-written many books on boundaries. They are excellent. They are written from a strong Christian viewpoint. If you are not Christian I hope you can still get the boundary lessons from their books or find other helpful materials.

Contact me:

Want more help? I’m here for you. Tired of the status quo? Get relief! Call to get coached and start designing the life you want to live. Have questions? Call to get answers. Edith at 847.913.3900

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