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Communicate without blame

Communicate without blame

Today's podcast and blog topic: Communicate without blame. Here's the podcast link (podcast - listening time 1 hour). Strong communication skills can help in all aspects of life, from personal relationships to education and professional success.  In the workplace, I have found that I am often frustrated when I believe co-workers, network partners, and even supervisors do not use basic communications principles that can make them more effective in their work relationships.  To be honest, in all my years of working and cultivating and trying to sustain relationships, I have found that most people don’t want to talk about how to make their interpersonal communications better. Or, they don’t care. Or, they are simply blissfully unaware that they are not good at it (...and they may want to keep it that way. Afterall, it’s hard work!) I realize that when I am being critical of their communication skills, or what I perceive as a lack thereof, I am making silent judgments in my head that can be harmful to having effective communication! I also realize that you cannot make others learn more or do better.   Most importantly, I realize that I am likely contributing to the breakdown or frustration in some way. In fact, it is often the case that the person with whom I am experiencing frustration is NOT frustrated at ALL.   Nope. They are completely unaware.  They don’t have the problem. I do. What does this mean? This means that, when I analyze or unpack this phenomenon in my life, I conclude that I am criticizing people for not giving me what I myself am afraid OR unable to ask for. Wait, what? My hypothesis is: if I am not successful in getting what I need or having a good exchange with someone I want to be in relationship with, it may be because I myself am not good at or assertive enough about asking for what I need! Wait, what? Hang in here with me a little bit.
I am going to explain, by investigating the topic of how to communicate without blame . And, hence, get better at turning my own frustration into a request for a need to get met. If you are reading or listening to this, and you already have effective interpersonal communications in your closest relationships, you probably don’t worry about the mechanics of what I am trying to break down here today. You may even find this work laughable. Or basic. Or, elementary. Lucky you. But I think that most of us struggle with this stuff. We really have to study it, talk about it, and practice some sample words and scenarios to be able to get better at this! You may not WANT to get better at this. I don't blame you! Another direction you could take is to decide that it would be TOO MUCH WORK to extend yourself to those whose styles or personalities are more challenging. Let’s face it, it might simply be easier to just let those relationships go.  As my 89-year-old mother advises, resignedly: hey, “IT IS WHAT IT IS.” In any event, since I don’t have it in me to do nothing, I usually try to get better at this stuff by taking my cues from my feelings  — if I feel “frustrated,” that is likely a sign that something is wrong or that there is something I need to work on. I am willing to work on myself, and as I learn, I am willing to help those I am in relationships with (or those who want to learn with me) — let’s try to stay in these important, connected and meaningful relationships. Let’s work on our communication and needs together in a way that encourages harmony and sustains us, rather than separates or depletes us. So, what about the exercises or challenges that we are going to “try on” today? I have two (2) challenges or examples today, and a list of 5 things you can do at the end. Let’s look at some examples from both professional and personal situations where you can learn to communicate WITHOUT blame.   How can we get to the point where we understand what it is we really want to ask for…to uncover what it is that we really WANT…and to get past the frustrations, hurt, anger, or disappointment  that we stack up in our heads? Those bad feelings, negative energy and stressors, just pile up and pile up and our relationships and quality of life are affected. Our physical health is affected. Our mental and spiritual health is affected. And, such dysfunctions can keep us separated from those with whom we want close or ongoing connections—we end up accomplishing the very thing we want to avoid! How do we get to a place where we can request to have our needs met… …rather than stay stuck in these patterns of “RESENTMENT?” —------------------ Let’s look at some examples. The two scenarios I am exploring are (1) in the workplace, and (2) in personal relationships. Here we go… THE PROBLEMS WORKPLACE EXAMPLE
Here is the essential question that we have framed today:
How do I go from frustration and resentment…to understand why I am frustrated or where those feelings are coming from…and make my own communication more effective? —------------------ The problem: I’d like for people I work with, or people I want to work with, to respond to my emails when I need a decision from them, when there is an action they can take, or when I desire their creative contribution or decision-making in a process or an outcome for which I am responsible at work. When they fail to respond, fail to respond in a timely manner, only partially respond, or respond in an unhelpful manner…in MY MIND, they are keeping me from my goals. When this unhealthy mind trap of mine starts, my emotions rise. I am feeling frustrated. I start imagining the worst. Assigning blame. Being critical in my head about the other person.  When such a challenge arises, here are some common MENTAL traps I have noticed that I may have or thoughts I may jump to, which are not helpful. Seeing the other person as an adversary or as someone who has you stymied, or is preventing your progress.  Seeing them as wrong.  Seeing them as bad at their job, incompetent, or bad at professional communication. Seeing them as disrespectful. (Of you. Of your time, your efforts.) Seeing them as egotistical, arrogant, uncaring, inattentive…all kinds of negative attributes. Besides my example of the lousy email exchanges, what are some behaviors that may trigger or cause you to jump to “stinking thinking” about that person or making assumptions about their behavior?  What about when… … someone makes a remark that you receive as unhelpful or even offensive. …someone is not listening, interrupts you mid-sentence, or walks away during a conversation. …someone is talking just out of earshot and starts to whisper.  ..someone is holding onto a position, is being argumentative, and gets louder. From your own experiences, what do these bring up for you? During our podcast, Ms. Linda added, what about when they really don’t know what they are doing? “Follow me, but I don’t know what I’m doing!” they are saying/implying. (Sometimes people are put in positions they really aren’t qualified for!) This presents a whole other set of considerations but I ask you to still rise above…be the bigger person. Don’t assume the worst of them, just consider that they are human and may be aware of their own struggles but may not be able to fix them, articulate them, or even admit them…they are, afterall, just human. People aren’t generally good at this stuff!! —------------------ In just a bit, I am going to provide some proposed solutions or techniques, but first let’s explore a personal example, to keep expanding on this idea, but taking it from a workplace situation to an interpersonal relationship or personal communication situation. Stay with me… PERSONAL EXAMPLE Ok, here’s the same question or prompt as before, to get us back to center: How do I go from frustration and resentment…to understand why I am frustrated or where those feelings are coming from…and make my own communication more effective? —------------------ The problem: I’d like for my partner to let me know how he feels about me. I need affirmation occasionally, using words , because, well…one of the most dramatic positive signs of recognition, acknowledgement, or appreciation we can experience as human beings is for some other significant person in our life to tell us what they see in us, or what we mean to them, or what they value about having us in their life! I need this when I am feeling separated emotionally, or when I am overtaxed with other things in my life, or when I desire to feel closer or want physical intimacy.  When my partner fails to acknowledge how he feels about me, fails to understand why it’s important to me, only partially responds, or responds only when I complain about it…in MY MIND, my partner is dismissing me, or does not love me, or does not respect my needs. Why can’t he just give me this one little thing? When this unhealthy mind trap of mine starts, my emotions rise. I am feeling frustrated. I start imagining the worst. Assigning blame. Being critical in my head about the other person. Or, a really bad learning behavior of mine is to withdraw from my partner, to want to break up the relationship, or to look elsewhere for the affirmation or emotional connection. When such a challenge arises, here are some common MENTAL traps I have noticed that I may have or thoughts I may jump to, which are not helpful: Seeing the other person as an adversary or as someone who is uncaring. Seeing them as narcissistic.  Seeing them as bad at relationships, incompetent, or bad at interpersonal communication. Seeing them as disrespectful. (Of you. Of your time, your efforts.) Seeing them as egotistical, arrogant, inattentive…all kinds of negative attributes. Seeing them as aloof, or distant…or even worse, seeing them as a cheater, someone who is not able to give you what you need, but because you are not getting it from them, you may start to imagine SOMEONE ELSE IS getting that from them. Similar to the frustrations that I experience when my partner does not tell me how he feels about me, or why he values me, what are some other challenging personal relationship communications or behavioral patterns you have experienced? What about when… … your partner makes a remark that you receive as unhelpful or even offensive. …your partner is not listening, interrupts you mid-sentence, or walks away during a conversation. …your partner avoids the opportunity to discuss how to make things better between you, or becomes defensive when you express your desires. …your partner protects the privacy of his/her cell phone. [KB note: Which, by the way, they have a right to individual privacy of all kinds…it’s a matter of mutual trust, and maintaining healthy individual boundaries. There is a difference between being “private” and being “possessive” with your cell phone. When you are protective, you are setting good boundaries. “If you don’t go through mine, I won’t go through yours” is one kind of tacit agreement a couple can make in order to keep that space from being an issue. It’s a slippery slope once you start crossing those boundaries! How many movies have you seen in the past 10 years where the characters on the screen are checking out one another’s private text messages, or the private email accounts of their partner, only to discover some horribly painful truth or betrayal they had no idea about?! Why let your relationship decay to the point where you have to resort to such manipulations? That's why we work on these trust and communication issues--or "inputs"--so that you each can help improve satisfaction in the relationship, and hopefully mutually commit to avoid the behavior that leads to dreadful outcomes! Let’s say you have made an agreement with your partner such as the one above: Why would a couple agree to not look at one another’s personal cell phones? Ostensibly, you do it because you would like to think that your partner has nothing to hide. THEY would like to think that YOU have nothing to hide. YOU BOTH would be devastated to find out otherwise. So do you look at their phone, untrusting? Or, do you ask you if there is anything on their cell phone that you would be devastated to see? Or, do you remain silent and trust that there is nothing because you have discussed that such a thing would be a dealbreaker and that is the end of us? You could have something to hide, or, worse, you could be punishing your partner for crossing the boundary themselves, or you could be feeding a personal paranoia by implying mistrust, and on an on…! But that’s another topic for another day! I digress...!] THE SOLUTIONS Thanks for hanging in there while we explored the CHALLENGES we experience and the MENTAL TRAPS we fall into. If we are the persons who can make the change, how in the world do we go about changing our mental traps, or changing our mindsets, or approaches to these frustrations when we encounter them? Here are a couple of mindsets or approaches you may find helpful to counter those traps. 
I’ve just got 5 items on the list today!   1.Approach the other person NOT as an obstacle, but as a problem-solving partner. 
It is fairly common for people to (unfairly, I might add) mentally assign to other people some kind of character flaw, negative personality attribute, or lack of ability. People jump to sort of name-calling in their heads. Thoughts like: “if he just wasn’t so lazy,” or “man, what a slow poke,” or “she’s not as bright as I thought she was,” or “she’s never in her office, so what does she do in her job?” or “gosh, his desk is a mes, how does he get his work done,” and the like…
Instead of labeling/judging the other person as “lazy,” “slow,” “dumb,” “irresponsible,” or “disorganized” as in the examples above, try to approach the other person as a problem-solving partner.
I found myself confronting this idea recently when I went to my local Toyota dealer’s service bay to have a “Maintenance Required” warning light code diagnosed on my 2005 Prius.
When I walked into the service office after parking my car in the service bay, there was a ton of lunch food waste on one of the two service desks in the shared office space.  My first thought was, “oh my gosh, how is this allowed in a place where the public walks in, why hasn’t someone cleaned up this mess?” It was about 1:30pm at the time.  But my next thought, and the overriding sentiment that guided my communications with them was to stay fixed on my goal of either troubleshooting the error code there, if allowable, or setting an appointment for service for when I’ll be off work at the latter part of next week for the Christmas holiday season. AND, to see them as problem-solving partners. So, I quickly pushed aside the negative pattern of thinking that popped up first, and forgot about it like it hadn’t even occurred to me, or that it wasn’t really a problem at all that there was half-eaten food, paper food wrappings, bags, smelly stuff scattered everywhere, lol! Certainly it wasn’t MY problem, anyway.  One of those patterns is to automatically mentally judge though, isn’t it? And, you can be tempted, again, to discount or think less of others and their abilities or to want to be critical or correct their behavior!
When you see yourself wanting to jump to that old bad behavior, put up a big red STOP sign in your head. Try thinking of them as your problem-solving partner first. 
2. Automatically give the other person the benefit of the doubt. Suspend judgment if you can.
I see this approach modeled effectively by my current boss at work where I serve as a consultant to innovators who are developing new products and trying to bring them to market. I am trying to learn to do what my supervisor does: we've talked about how she does not automatically jump to the conclusion that someone “means” something by the way they say something, or "by the words they use." In other words, don't assume the worst or take offense, or assign some unknown/unhelpful motive or intention behind their words if they happen to hit you wrong in that moment. What a concept! What a relief and how much does it "uncomplicate" things if you decide: Don’t take things personally. Don’t assume they mean you harm. Most people really aren’t that careful about what they say, and they don’t take the time to consider how what they say could “land” on you. Afterall, learning to communicate in a way that carefully considers context, interest, background, sensibilities and acting with "other-focused" care is a basket of higher-level communication skills. MOST PEOPLE AREN’T GOOD AT THIS. But that does not mean that their intentions are BAD. They quite possibly have NONE of the negative traits or dubious intentions that YOU are attributing to them in your head.  And yet, YOU feel hurt by them. That may be because you have assigned some motive for them, without knowing the truth. That may be because you have expectations for a higher order of thinking and being that they are just not capable of. That may be because you have all this bad learning, socialization from the past, and negative thinking patterns that have affected your ability to trust others or believe the best of them. Yuck. Why do we torture ourselves this way? We feel horrible, and the other person is oblivious to our feelings. More than that, we could be entirely wrong about their truths…or why they do the things they do, or say the things they say.  Simply suspend judgment. Don’t jump to conclusions or imagine the worst. Give the other person, and your SELF a break! 3. Turn your frustration into an “ask.” You have to be clear and concise about your ask. Make your message as easy to consume as possible to reduce the chance of misunderstandings, to speed up projects or decision-making, and to help others quickly understand your goals. Instead of speaking (or emailing or texting) in long, detailed sentences, practice reducing your message down to its core meaning.  While providing context is helpful, it's best to give the most necessary information when trying to communicate your idea, instruction or message. Once you’ve done that, go for the “ask.” By that I mean: ask A VERY SPECIFIC AND SHORT QUESTION! You have a better chance of getting what you want not by making others read your mind, or by complaining or being resentful or blaming, but by framing your complaint or frustration in a REQUEST. Don’t fret: simply ASK. 4. Explain the reason for a request, even if you think it’s obvious. Research in social psychology has revealed that many people respond more positively to explained requests than to unexplained requests. This is true, even when the supposed explanation is obvious or doesn’t actually explain much of anything. Take a look at these two ways of expressing requests: what is the difference in the way you receive them: “Will you please open the window?” “Will you please open the window so that we can get more fresh air in here?” — “May I please have a glass of water?” “May I please have a glass of water? I’m really thirsty!” — “Will you please answer the email I sent you this morning?” “Will you please answer the email I sent you this morning? There are a couple of key decisions and opinions I need from you in order to meet my quarterly report deadline later this week.” See the difference between the first statement and the second, which includes an explanation or reason, in the quotes above? By simply offering a rational reason, your words can be received as NOT a DEMAND (putting someone on the defensive) bur rather, as an unvarnished REQUEST (something that would not be seen as unreasonable by a reasonable person)! 5. Listen and affirm anything that you can agree on. This is really hard. How do you do this? Make your goal to learn what the speaker thinks and feels, not to change what the speaker thinks and feels. Pay special attention to the speaker’s feelings. And if you are physically in front of them, pay attention their body language — the “non-verbal” cues. Aim to understand what the speaker means, not just what they say . Here are some positive ways to respond or to demonstrate affirmation, or even possibly agreement: What I hear you saying is…” “I sense that you feel…” “It seems like you feel…” Examples of shared values affirmations include: “I sense we share the desire to do what is right” “I appreciate your honesty” “It seems we both care deeply about our children’s futures” “We both seem to agree that xxx” “I agree with what you said about…” So, I guess that’s it. To sum it up: Honestly assess if you are being clear in your communications and figure out WHAT and HOW to ask rather than “blame” or complain (or put yourself through pain or emotional upheaval or depletion). Focus on the actions you want to take and the actions you want others to take. Avoid falling into mental traps that are unhelpful to you and to those with whom you want to be in relationship with. See numbers 1-5 above! Practice these things. When you change, they change. And just a quick reminder to celebrate your YOU-ness! We can make the impossible, possible.

Abundance of Choices

Abundance of Choices

One of my favorite self-help authors is Bruce Feiler. In his latest book, The Search, author Bruce Feiler uncovers more magic to help people move past what he has termed “life quakes.” Life quakes are life events that are hugely disruptive human experiences…big life changes, whether they happen “to us” or we go through them by choice. His first book was called Life Is in the Transitions - what happens and how do people move through major transitions, many of which sometimes happen back-to-back. Death. Divorce. Lost jobs. Household moves. When you move through big changes in life, you also have power to shift among the dimensions that make up “you,” and revisit and recalibrate what gives you meaning. Going through such changes presents you with choices. But what happens when you have too many choices? Or, when it feels like you have too many choices? Here is a link to the podcast (edited for length: still, it's 45 minutes!). In past podcasts, my thought partner in Los Angeles and blogtalk host Ms. Linda McShan and I have talked about the anxiety, dissatisfaction, and regret that can come from the decisions we make or have to make. Or, that we don’t make! If you have no options in life–it is extremely detrimental, right? Most of us agree on that. But what if you have too many options? Is that a problem? It may sound counterintuitive, but having too many options can, at the worst, make you miserable. At the very least, it can make you feel confused. Choice overload  can make you question the decisions you make before you even make them: it can set you up for unrealistically high expectations, OR it can make you blame yourself for any and all “failures.” “If it’s a success, I’ve got everything riding on it.” “Or, if it’s a failure, I crashed and burned.” (Side note: I don’t like to look at them as failures; I like to look at them as life experiences without negative judgment and without second guessing yourself and without having regret.) My dad used to call this indecisiveness “dithering.” Overthinking. Delays.  When you have “choice overload,” are there skills you can learn that will help? Making informed and timely decisions is an important life skill that impacts all aspects of your life. It is an important skill for productivity, leadership, and success both in your professional and personal, and community-facing, life. What are some tools we can use to help if we need to navigate our way through a big life change? In The Search, Feiler introduces what he calls the A, B, C’s of navigating through changes in order to move through a transition. It’s a construction of concepts that can help you make decisions. Where do you start with the A, B, C’s? A stands for “Agency” "Agency" refers to an individual's capacity to make choices, set goals, and take actions to influence their own life and the outcomes they desire. It is the sense of control and empowerment that a person feels in their life. Life coaches often help their clients develop a sense of agency, encouraging them to take responsibility for their decisions, actions, and the direction of their lives. Agency is what you “do.” B stands for “Belonging” "Belonging" refers to a sense of connection and inclusion in various aspects of a person's life, such as relationships, communities, or social groups. Belonginig by definition encompasses the feeling of being accepted, valued, acknowledged, and connected to others, which is a fundamental human need. Life coaches often address the concept of belonging as part of their coaching process because it plays a crucial role in an individual's overall well-being and personal growth. Belonging helps you feel connected and appreciated, accepted in the arenas you want to be involved in. C stands for “Cause” Related to community…what drives you, or something bigger than you? People that need you - something or someone you can be loyal to. A cause may help you bring about good “effect.” (Cause-effect, Ms. Linda points out.) Let’s explore each of these. I don’t know about you, but I think I am one of those people that goes through these type of filters all the time: I tend to welcome the change while I’m growing. I may be more motivated by change than by stability: I never want to look back on my life and regret that I didn’t try something or face my fears by pushing through them. The idea behind the A, B, C's that I've tried to conceptualize here, is to try to use these as filters, or weights, to help you measure which one of these motivators may be taking the lead in helping you make a decision.  During the podcast, I gave my own example using the A, B, C filters regarding my recent discovery that I could be involved in my biological granddaughter’s life, with whom I have recently connected through her adoptive parents. The “C” plays a powerful role, probably closely followed by the “B,” and the “A” is driving me to ponder how I can make it happen more, or over the long term, now that this “life quake” has happened. — What about the “Who” in your decision making? Feiler also talks about the importance of including the views of others…he has a specific system he uses to describe how you can break this down. But I wanted to extract a couple of the points that really stood out for me.  We never make decisions completely in isolation.  Who are the people in your constellation, your unique “solar system,” and what are they trying to say to you? Whose values are embedded in you? For example, if your family is a critical component and let’s say the family values are “caring for others” and that is a powerful force in your decision-making, you may find that making a decision that is driven by this foundation sways you in a certain direction. Or, you may want to consider: Who needs you? I moved to Arkansas because I felt needed at this stage in my life by my family of origin. My mom, 89, and siblings in nearby states. And when I made a move, it formed a new family bond (I had lived in California for the past 31 years). I reconnected. Now, I have other young family members, progeny in fact, on the West Coast who may need me. Time will tell. Ms. Linda suggests that by my making the choice to move back to Arkansas, and my choice reaching out to my granddaughter’s adoptive parents, I am now causing an “effect” that means our families can be connected in a way they were not before!  Who inspires you?   This question can help open up other answers for you. Who drives you? What does that bring to mind? Is their help about their agenda? Or are they truly in support of mine? Who brings you closer to who you want to be? This is a tough question for me. I would encourage everyone to journal on this one! ______
I want to explore something I see in my life coaching practice that happens to people a lot. That’s the paralysis of choices. Sometimes if you have TOO MANY choices, you get paralyzed about making a decision. At. All. We grapple with the burden of judging the differences between good and bad choices! People FEAR making a “wrong” decision that can lead to feelings of regret. The fear of making a wrong decision may override your ability to make ANY decision. With all the options you have, how do you know which on is the “right” one? I hear people expressing such ideas as “if I make a choice that hurts, how long will I feel this way?” They may want to avoid that “hurt” period altogether. So, they stall. They don’t make a decision. Or, they may say or think: “if I make a choice that feels bad or feels wrong for me, will I be able to ‘undo’ it?” “Will I be able to reverse a choice?” And, how bad or how big of a choice (and set of decisions/pain) will THAT be? Now, what questions do we want to ask or leave listeners or viewers with today, to help them think about a particular set of decisions to make? Here are some questions from the coaching suite you may be able to use, if you are facing a decision about which you are uncertain or you fear may be the “wrong” (or “bad for you”) one for you. How do you personally feel about the potential consequences  of this decision on your life and wellbeing?
What are the main reasons you’re considering this decision despite your reservations?
How do you envision this decision affecting your long term goals and happiness ?
Have you sought advice or opinions from trusted friends or family members  about this decision, and if so, what were their perspectives?
What fears or concerns do you have about NOT making this decision ?
Can you describe the  emotional or physical sensations you experience when thinking about this decision?
What values or priorities  in your life might be compromised by making this choice ?
Are there any  alternative options or compromises  that could align better with your overall well-being?
What steps can you take to gain more clarity and confidence  in your decision-making process? ______ Ms. Linda’s responses and closing comments:
Stay focused. A lot of people give advice that makes it better for them. You have to learn to decipher when people are advising based on their own agendas. Your body will tell you what’s going on. Pay attention to it. We talk about that “gut feeling:” this is real. Check the temperature before you make a big move or leap. Don’t be hasty to make a big change. When you come to a crossroads, I am of the opinion that it is worse to be paralyzed and not make a decision at all than it is to make a choice and live with the consequences and just “live through them.” There’s no way to avoid change, so you might as well learn the skills and embrace them: they will be required many times in your life. I hope our discussion today will help some people. As Carl, my dad, would say, it will help you to stop “dithering,” make a decision and work through it! Having decisions should not be a bad thing, it should be life affirming. It’s about consciously participating in your own life!

Be kind to yourself

Be kind to yourself

In my perfectly unperfect mind, I wander around in my thoughts a lot. Ms. Linda, my podcast-partner-in-crime lets me wander around for an hour or more every month or so, and we explore our mutual thoughts, tossing ideas at one another, testing our life philosophies and ever-changing life experiences against the thinking of the day (ours and others'). In this blog/podcast discussion, we started with my posing this question: What if every dream you ever had was wrong?
For you. Listen, we dream a lot. About our goals. Our ambitions. The things we think we want or need to make us happy. But I want to ask: why chase a dream? Dreams don’t always work out. I’m not trying to be negative or pessimistic. It’s just a fact of life. You can head in a direction, and BAM, you hit a wall. Something happens outside your control. Something happens that you weren’t planning for. Let’s say it’s even a life event of enormous magnitude–a “life quake”--that hits you and you unwittingly find yourself at a crossroads or in circumstances that you could never have imagined . Much less asked for. — What if your dreams don’t work out? I’m not going to agree with the popular notion that “sometimes the dreams that come true are actually better than the ones that don’t.” The longer I live, the more I think that expression has become a bromide. In my own life experiences, I can’t say that things turned out better than the the things I dreamed about. An one painful personal example: I dreamed that other people’s marriages and families were what mine would be like. That didn’t happen. My 18-year marriage was spectacularly destructive. It threw together two dysfunctional adults who burned through everything that came into their two self-destructive paths. We crashed and burned through two productive California careers and numerous homestead dreams and schemes. We made and lost friends. We made and lost love. We made and destroyed the “til death do us part” contract. We left behind two kids. One ok. (I think.) And one not. (But who can know?) —-- I dreamed that I would love on my grandkids one day. But I’m here. And my kids are not. I left a state, and started a new life. It’s ok. (I think.) It might not be. (But who can know?) —--- These dreams of love, stability, and passion crash through our lives…and they can cause pain. And self-doubt! That’s not only true for a person or individual. Like me, and my story. But it’s true for all humankind. —--- Back to YOU: If you don’t fall into the trap of trying to live the life you “thought you wanted,” or that “someone else told you you should want”.... How do you figure out…for yourself, how to live more authentically, being true to yourself? 1. Ask a few self-loving questions...and stop the negative self-talk What happens when you set out on a path, to “do you?” Not someone else’s version of you. —-- LINDA: “Going back to the bad unions example, they can take away your life,” Linda said. You have to try everything, to know if it’s working or not. Learn who you are, learn your worst, or what you will put up with. When you decide to make a change in yourself, things start growing.” “A mission becomes a vow. That’s when things come to you; it starts with setting that vow , that mission, for you. Once you say it, it becomes you. It is you.” KB: I agree. A mission is a vow to yourself. So, a few more "coachy" questions now: How do you answer these questions: What do I love? What drives me? What pledges do I make to myself? How can I treat myself like I would treat a friend? It is easy to turn on the self-criticism. It is hard to turn off the self-doubt/”chatter.” Try not to burden yourself with negative self-talk, self-criticism, rumination about past events, future fears. There are many good Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) techniques you can check into, or get help with in therapy, that can teach you how to do a better job of stopping or changing these unhelpful thought patterns. See " Unhelpful Thinking Styles " handout. 2. Remember that growing pains hurt...and learn the "foreign language" Go boldly. Learn something (or many things) new! Holy cow, the learning curves I put myself in - so much pain! “Pain equals growth,” Ms. Linda said. What stops us: Fear and uncertainty Fixed mindset
Wanting to “be in control” How to overcome these : Allow “Good stress” Develop new routines Choose a fear and face it! ----- Linda says “When my mind chatter comes to me, I change it into a foreign language. It’s chattering, but I don’t understand you.” We have to enjoy what there is to enjoy, and suffer what there is to suffer. Growing pains is like going to the gym, she continued. “If you see a river, jump in it. It’s up to you whether you are going to sink or swim,” her grandpa used to say. 3. Focus on your strengths...and give yourself grace As our convo in the podcast continued to unpack, Ms. Linda reminded me as I expressed to her my frustrations in my new job that I should not be discouraged that some of my co-workers appear impatient, dismissive, or unsupportive during my steep learning curves and feelings of inadequacy, while I operate as the newbie in the system that is familiar and comfortable to them! "People that have those positions, that’s all they know. But you are versatile, you are able to step in and step out of these new domains; while you are doing it you are gaining knowledge." she coached me. I love that! So often these days, it happens that Ms. Linda is coaching me more than anything! :) So, here are the points we came up with as we continued to discuss how you can be kinder to yourself while you are growing. Especially if you are in a complex, new work system and you are accustomed to being capable and contributing in a way where you feel valued--and it hurts your pride, ego, whatever, while you are the weak link in their established system! Here goes...more "coachy" stuff: "Use your strengths. Don’t get hung up on your deficits, especially while you are learning!" 1. Trust what you have inside you and revisit that when you feel small (or you think others are trying to diminish you). 2. Remember that your strengths are yours; if other people put you “underneath them,” they may be doing that to boost themselves up. 3. If you need help once, ask for it. If you need help again, ask for it again. When you are a stranger in a strange land, you have to ask for directions! How can you get something done in a new area when you don’t know the answers? 4. Consider that you are there for a reason. There must be something you have that THEY need. Maybe you are going to show them there is more than one way to do things. Maybe you are there to teach them. 5. Share the responsibility or put it back where it belongs. It might not all be yours to do. 6. Recognize the need for collaboration. Maybe consider cross-training. Ask others to co-work, or co-share in the learning and decision-making. Be a facilitator, not the “it girl.” 7. Be the person who changes things. 8. Think about what questions are the right ones to ask? “Dig it out til you figure it out,” Ms. Linda said. 9. People always say “be the best you.” If you don’t know the real you, how can you become the best you? Keep putting that self reflection in context when you find yourself in the midst of a strange environment and stretching outside your comfort zones. 10. Remember, many of the people you ask may not really know the answer. But they can’t resent you for asking in order to learn to do your job better. If they can’t answer it and get an attitude, maybe it’s because they don’t know the answer. They may have more work to do themselves. Just be who you are. If I am being me, I am living my mission! Kind words to tell yourself, as you are being a friend (to yourself):

You are not inadequate. You are you. You bring something special to that environment. ---- Towards the end of the podcast, I mentioned my dreams for "Love, stability, passion"…all things I want in my life. These are my dreams. And yet, everything is a foreign language to me right now. Here is what we ended up with: "Move from the heart.
And if you don’t know, you don’t know.
Try to learn the words in the foreign language." ~Ms. Linda And...If you don't push through these hard things, you are not really living, are you? “The opposite of living, Is failing to live.” ~ Coach Karen

Use Your Voice

Use Your Voice

So, it’s been about a little over two months that we have been honing in on this topic of “expressing yourself.” Each time I record a podcast with my dear friend Ms. Linda McShan, and blog about the podcast topic, it is an effort to explore my curiosity—and my life experiences—and to share what I have learned along the way. Two episodes ago, I was in distress over the chaos created by the power change in the state’s government where I live, which was impacting my work at a state agency, was impacting the morale of my colleagues and our culture at work, and was creating a conflict with my personal values. I was being “stopped.” Ms. Linda played a song called “If You Dream” at the beginning of the show today, about living your dream and being unstoppable. That’s a fitting place to start, and helps provide some perspective to the topic we want to explore. Here is the podcast link , if you want to listen. Warning: it's a bit of a personal rant: hang in there, eventually I make my point, lol! ------ How can you continue to dream, to use your voice, in this crazy world? When chaos is all around? How can you be “unstoppable?” In this case, the chaos that came with the new administration brought orders of public censorship, as well as potentially harmful changes in law and policy. All of that non-democratic behavior notwithstanding, what was hardest for me to accept were the explicit expectations to conform to the new orders without protest or question. Before I voluntarily left that environment (resigning to take a job elsewhere), I did both: protested, and questioned. In order to succeed in the future, we must give our ALL in the moment. Ultimately, this life experience reminded me that it is important to choose a community where you feel you can truly be yourself. Where you can honor your personal values. Where you can give it your all. Moreover, you can strive to be a positive force (for good) in the world where your own ideas and talents are more likely to be accepted. Where you can grow. Where you can change, challenge your assumptions, and not rest on a "way of being;" we are constantly evolving as spiritual beings in these human bodies! How do you express your individualism within a community? Where it will be appreciated? Have you ever found yourself wondering where your “tribe” is? Have you struggled with how to safely move out of an “echo chamber,” when you cannot echo back what they want to hear? Have you yearned to move into an environment that may allow more freedom of expression? Have you been bullied into having to listen to someone else’s way of thinking, while they had no interest in hearing your own views? STAND FOR YOU So, my point is this: The problem with the echo chamber is the pressure to conform . For many upright Americans, the desire to think for yourself and to be able to operate at optimal levels without oppressive political tactics is not only an affront to the democratic way…it is an attack on the soul of the individual, an inhibition to individual expression, and betrayal of the public trust. America’s public dilemma has become our personal problem. If you are one of those individuals who would like to continue to act in a way that allows you to express yourself, to think for yourself, what do you do when the environment is trying to force you to stand for something in opposition to your own values? An environment whose leaders are trying to force the people to remain silent? One idea is: When it’s hard to find your tribe, you may have to make your own. Ms. Linda says "you are your own tribe!" Because of the divisions we face in America due to the political and religious lines that are being drawn, we are being forced to either conform, remain silent, or...is there a third choice? When you are an individual trying to operate within a group, what do you do? Can you speak your own mind in an echo chamber? The definition of "oppression" has to do with unjust control of one group, of one group of people over another. It is inferred to also mean "unfair," "dishonest," and something "not done to accepted moral standards." In America, we seem to be in disagreement about what our moral standards are; not just those reflected in a certain religion but those that are universally known. We put elected officials into office to represent what we think are accepted moral standards. They may have personal beliefs that drive their public behavior. But one of the problems today is that we see these political "power" players use their public positions to bludgeon or punish, demoralize, or otherwise dismiss other people. I believe the founders, the original authors of the U.S. Constitution, meant well, even if the men who wrote it were flawed. The tenets of our American "mission statement" in a sense are the vital pillars of freedom and individualism that we want to uphold as a community. The problem is that individualism is being torn down by pressures of group conformity. The First Amendment was meant to protect our right to dissent, as I see it. You should be able to disagree with a public official without being sanctioned. I'm not saying you should try to obstruct or derail government. I am saying, however, that our elected officials should do a better job of listening to other voices, and including other people in their decision making. My assertion is this podcast "rant" episode is that America seems to be on a fast train of someone else's personal mission that does not represent ALL of US. BEWARE OPPRESSION: IT CAN BE SUBTLE In America, the pendulum has swung too far, apparently. People don't recognize oppression until it happens to them: the current "hostile takeover" that is an overreaction by the powers that be—those who have come into elected positions—represents a formerly silent minority trying to become the majority. The trend is to reverse the populism that we have been working so hard to achieve (my opinion, only). However... Our protection of individual rights in America is the fight to include all the people, as was expressed in the founding documents of the republic. This is the evolution we have been on for 200 years. The "great democratic experiment" in America requires us to continue to challenge our beliefs based on outdated, anachronistic ways of doing things: the people have said they want to continue to grow as a nation, to evolve, and recognize the power of the individual, and honoring the civil rights we have fought hard to achieve. Ms. Linda emphasized in the podcast the importance of doing your research about each individual running for a public office, to ensure that the person can effectively represent you. At this point of the podcast, I got on my soapbox. I won't recount it here; you'll have to listen to the recording, lol! I overdramatized to make the point: we the people must stop the trend, we must find our voices, make a choice to use it. If you do not, you will continue to find yourself going down this path: if you don't stand up and use your individual rights in America, people groups will continue to be hurt by the people in power. I'm not advocating the cancel culture: I myself have problems with extreme views on either end of the political spectrum. My assertion is if you do what is right by people, and remember and hold yourself to the universal accepted moral standards, we can continue to live and operate in America without giving in to the "crazy people." We all know who they are, and the power they may have to hurt others. We must use our common sense: have we lost our minds in America? It's not even about politics: it's about common sense and using your voice to express these commonly held and widely understood morals. Challenge the political rhetoric, and the attempts to muddy the waters or confuse you: ignore the name calling, the straw man arguments, the conflation of unrelated ideas or downplaying of what's really important while they try and distract you from the real issues. We have been able to freely move in America: people have died for these rights. We live in a world of ideas: let's preserve that! People who are in real community have a sense of a shared world. The understanding between people who are connected according to their values goes without words: you know what you know. Individualism and freedom are vital pillars of a community.
I'd like us to be able to move into environments that allow us freedom of expression.
I'd like us not to feel stopped by someone yelling that we need to think like they do. We want our elected officials to be the best parts of us: when government starts to feel oppressive: if those who are elected do not appear to have their hearts in the right place, do you stand with them? If we become more of like mind in the world, we don't have to argue, do we? We want everyone to feel included, and loved, in the world. Why can't we do that? MAKE A CHOICE, USE YOUR VOICE Above all, stand up for yourself. Don't be afraid to confront the ideas you disagree with. DON'T: Don't lose the ability to attract others who believe as you do. Don't be forced to conform. Don't be afraid to speak up for fear of punishment. The minute we do, we are living the opposite of freedom: we are living in fear. That's not a democracy. DO: Continue to use your voice. Learn the issues. Know the people you vote for: know their hearts, and how they are likely to behave if you elect them into office, giving them "the keys to the kingdom." You don't want to be living in a place, or working in a job, where you end up being "bullied" by the people you put in power. Learn to use your voice. Don't lose it; make a choice to work with those whose heart and actions represent your values. Stay true to the dream that is America's democracy: vote those into power whose heart is for the people. All of them. Not just some of them. Back to the lyrics that Ms. Linda opened this segment with: Be Unstoppable If you dream, then you can do anything If you dream, you're halfway to destiny If you dream, dream the impossible If you dream 'cause a dream's unstoppable https://genius.com/Tank-if-you-dream-lyrics #unstoppable #useyourvoice #lifecoaching

Turn Every Page

Turn Every Page

As you know, I am fueled by popular culture, research, and the social sciences…I often get my ideas by channeling an idea from something I have consumed recently. Today, I am centering my thoughts and ideas on this title—Turn Every Page—from watching a film that a famous American editor’s daughter* made of her dad, who is Robert Gottlieb. Gottlieb is like publishing royalty in the East Coast/New York book scene…parts of which you get to see into and experience vicariously during the film. The film is entitled Turn Every Page, which is the theme I’m exploring today. Here's the podcast , if you want to listen. The rest of the story is below... The literary empire centered largely in New York and East Coast climes is somewhat of a sub-culture in America, insider-oriented from years of cultivation of relationships among the cultural elite in the heady world of books, ideas, and in this case, Robert Gottlieb’s lifelong relationship as editor of Bob Caro’s famous book series on Lyndon B. Johnson. Anyway, the film is beautiful and touching, and as you get to experience Robert Gottlieb and Bob Caro’s unique editor-author relationship up close through the daughter’s eyes, you are struck not only with the empire of their literary influence over millions of readers in America over five decades, but you are relishing the intimacy of their somewhat prickly but enormously productive friendship as the two reach the apex of their 90s. The two men are very old, but still very vital, working to complete the opus of their work together, and we as viewers are inspired that the two in their 90s will complete the work. In any event, the idea of “Turning Every Page” brought to mind for ME the vulnerability of mankind, our relationships with one another, and the importance of capturing and relishing every single moment, relationship, opportunity to learn and experience wherever you can get to, and from, and whoever you can encounter during your life travels…fully present in the moment and embracing that it is happening. So, what are the main things I want to cover today, brought together by the idea of “Turning Every Page” in your life, being immersed in the page in front of you, so to speak, but also continuing to turn the next page, and the next page…and continuing to explore the limitless opportunities that open up in your life, while you acknowledge the finite number of minutes, hours, days, months, years, perhaps, left in your life. My partner in the podcast is host and my former Masters in Non-profit Marketing student, Linda McShan, who brings up her desire to learn to fly in order to help mitigate the risks she associates with flying, and to help her continue to pursue her interests in life. I'll cover her thoughts at the end of the page. Here are my thoughts, based on some personal experiences of late. As usual, I’ve put them in a little list! 1. Go where your interests take you.

We are living in a time of unprecedented growth, technology, and opportunity. Your ability to explore the world is, virtually, limitless. How you choose to explore and participate and contribute is up to you. There is room for every kind of expression.
Personally, I am excited to be approaching another new chapter in my own exploration and growth. I am starting a new “day job” on Monday, after 2.75 years learning a bit about PreK-12 education in the state of Arkansas from my former role as a state-level advisor in family and community engagement for the state’s public school districts. There are 259 districts, currently, and I made relationships with about 60 coordinators of parental involvement activities at schools in the Southwest region of the state, providing training, consultation, and technical assistance for their work that is required by law…and then some. In my new chapter, I will be called an “Innovation Specialist,” and will be working to help inventors, researchers, and entrepreneurs in Arkansas take their ideas and products to market, helping to launch their start-ups by assisting their applications for federal funding by “America’s Seed Fund,” the Small Business Innovation Research, and Technology Transfer grants provided by 11 federal agencies. I am something of an idealist, and also as a journalist by training, I enjoy being an “observer” of other people’s life pursuits and being able to help translate their challenges and victories through my writing, consulting, and in this case, in my new job that I start next week–my coaching them to win potential up to $2 million in seed funding. I hope to be able to bridge the gap between their ideas and inventive solutions and the markets they seek to reach…helping with their grant applications, which are very competitive…and the world of opportunities that being awarded the funding could bring their organizations…and the world, itself. As I seek to be a help to them, there will necessarily be a lot of networking; linking the services our consulting agency provides, writing, talking, publishing, presenting, as I undertake the match-making necessary to become the “SBIR grant girl” in Arkansas. I’m an idealist, but also a pragmatist. Having the opportunity to assist creative people in commercializing their genius appeals to me. It’s a good fit, I think, for my business, marketing, and consulting/training background, and I’m looking forward to turning the page on this one. Here's my question for you: Question: Where will your interests take you? 2. Don’t let your age or experience be a “limiting factor.”
Yes, I’m close to retirement age. But, I’m not interested in “retiring” any time soon. Some people are afraid to take on new interests or challenges because they fear they are risking too much, or might be “too old,” or might not “know how” to traverse that new territory. I have to say, again, from personal experience, that as fearful as I have been over the years to take each new step and turn a new page, I have been grateful and rewarded tenfold by taking the risk to do it. I cannot express how important–and how vital it is–to push towards the things you dream about and imagine as good for your life journey, like Robert Gottlieb and Bob Caro, whose careers are still delighting and fulfilling their days well into their 90s. I was inspired to see their energy and commitment, their pursuit of the life of the mind, and how they have singly and together, labored over more than 50 years to bring insights, perspectives, entertainment, knowledge, and delight to generations of readers, thinkers, and doers in America and across the planet. Wow. Here's my question for you: Question: What is your legacy? What are you pursuing that is your unique gift to the planet? 3. Watch for, listen to, and be open to new experiences and opportunities.

I am sure I am not alone in being inspired by such ingenuity and passion for self expression. It has been a lot of my focus the past year for my blogging and podcast topics, exploring opportunities and meeting new people. I wandered through Eureka Springs, Arkansas, as I was exploring this topic and had it on my mind. As always, my wanderings produced interesting encounters and experiences. Here are my questions for you: Questions:

What are you watching, listening to, and open to…as new opportunities may come into view for your own life? What ideas interest you? What kind of people do you like to surround yourself with? Where do you see your own gifts making a difference? How can you contribute both as an individual–with your talents and unique offerings to the world and in a community–and, as part of a group or community? 4. Make your “job” work for you, not the other way around.

This is something I have been saying to myself and others for decades. I wonder if this expression still works? I have seen my jobs over the years as a kind of “utility.” Something I can use to help me live the lifestyle that I want. Any time I worked really hard or had a lot of responsibility, as an example, to make six figures or whatever supreme financial goal I thought was what I needed at the time, I found that the tradeoffs didn’t work for me, personally. Over the years, I discovered that I needed my jobs and side gigs to fulfill my creativity and desire to give back more than I needed them to “make me rich.” The people and experiences have always been more important to me, in a sense, than the money! The headaches, office politics, and self-sacrifice of high-status and high-paying professional jobs I have taken on left me more depleted than filled. So for me, it has become my journey to take a lower-paying position that still allows me to use my creativity, my practical skills, and continue to explore the things that interest me: in this case, the life of the mind, and working with other idealists, helping create greater understanding and opportunities for their ideas in the world. I feel like I won the lottery. Questions: How will you make your work, work for you? And not the other way around? What are you willing to give up, in order to achieve the soul nourishment you need to feel fulfilled and operating at your creative best? What are the basics you need, as you pursue your own self expression? Whether that is in the business world, academia, the arts, or some other realm? 5. Don’t let ANY obstacles get in the way of what you want or what you want to do! Linda added this last idea to the list on how to leave no page unturned in your life as you fuel your soul. She explains, in the podcast... She wants to learn to fly a private jet, and find a place to land it. Linda never wanted to “go past the third floor,” without getting the fuel she needs to go higher. In her imagination and vision, she sees a jet with a gold-tipped nose. She wants to pilot her own plane to get there, wherever that is—it's a mindset, more than the actual thing, in some ways; she says she wants to learn to use the instrumentation on a jet or plane, and wants the path to get herself and others to safety, should the need ever arise, plus stay on her own schedule. When she expands that vision, she sees her flight as a mission to help women everywhere with their goals. She also sees her deceased mother there, with her, continuing to encourage her to pilot her own plane. (I enjoy Ms. Linda's spirituality! And her many gifts!) Knowledge, for Ms. Linda, also means finding your path to opportunities. Here is her list: Reduce risk.
Obtain peace of mind. Don't worry about what others say. Be unstoppable in reaching your goals. Find a way to take yourself where you need to go.
See yourself doing it, being there.
And more than anything, be able to answer: Why do you WANT to do this? Your gifts make a difference. Turn every page, smile in the face of your detractors, stay in the light of your dreams. Enjoy your journey! *Thanks to wonderful filmmaker, Lizzie Gottlieb, for the inspiration.
#turneverypage

Part II: You Matter

Part II: You Matter

On our last podcast and my last life coaching blog post, we talked about how you muster up the courage to express your true self. I summed it up by saying... that everything you need, you already have...IN YOU. Sounds easy. But, why do I continue to feel stuck? Unsure? Unsafe to express the REAL me? What if the real me won’t be accepted? What if the real me can’t “make it” in the world? What if the real me means I’m broke, unhirable, unpromotable? We are our own worst enemies about the things we allow into our heads, the things we tell ourselves, the messages we see in society that are drilled into our heads over and over again. In this podcast episode, we talk more on the theme, with the focus on understanding that YOU MATTER ( click here to listen; listening time 1 hour ). What comes to mind for me today are the societal precedents being set through the boosts, likes, and follows that social media requires, for one. And, the disturbing trend towards“flaming” headlines in traditional media–they may not even match the news article they are on top of, but the headlines are designed specifically to be provocative and controversial, and worse, misleading. There is this outward expression of our selves that has come to be known as “performative” which truly is about performance and not necessarily–not even , actually–the truth. What I mean by “performative” in this sense is that people act in the way that they want to be seen , rather than in the way that they truly are . These forced UN-realities are damaging our psyches. Worse, these hateful, untrue, and misinformed messages are reinforced in our media. Influencers, high-profile personalities, and politicians in media are performing or acting in a way that emphasizes differences – these harmful messages are helping to preserve, deepen or entrench the divide between “us” and “them.” Besides the hate they are fomenting, they are also, dangerously, creating a culture that on some level embraces the idea that you need to be “performative” in order to be “more valuable.”

The message seems to be:
“The more you inflame others, the more valuable you are.” Or “The more radical your ideas are, the more value or standing you hold in the community.” Granted, this is not new. In order to advance your views and heighten your visibility, the formula for years has been to stir up controversy. I used to believe that watchdogs of the media (and my training is in journalism) were doing a good job digging up the truth and exposing it…holding evil or corrupt people, businesses, governments accountable. But now media is not even about unearthing the truth (if it ever was), it is quite evidently about pushing out algorithms that support what some want to be seen as the “most popular” messages. Honestly, I appreciate the connected world we live in because of the Internet of Things. I like being able to find anything, anytime. I like the rich insights it can give me, to see what other people are doing about anything, anytime. But, I want to hone in on one particular idea about the way that looking outwards can affect your self-image and self-confidence. First, the way you look or perform in the world has nothing to do with your value. Many of us have adopted a method of defining our worth through the number of “looks” we get, the number of “likes” we get, the number of zeros behind the dollar sign on our paycheck, the letter grade we receive on our schoolwork, the titles we hold, the trophies and awards we won, the letters behind our names (I have two of them, lol - MPS for my masters degree letters, and APR for my hard-earned Accreditation in Public Relations.) Lord knows, I have done my share of mountain climbing, setting a goal to get to the summit of some desired achievement, and have often felt that setting goals is the way to be. BUT… What if the real truth is that you are automatically imbued with value by the mere fact that you are a human being? What if it does not matter at all whether you are recognized by other people’s standards or opinions? What if the only thing that mattered was that you recognize your worth as a human being, and are conscientiously making a contribution to the harmony of life? Ms. Linda says if you know who you are, what difference does the performance make? What if I am doing what I do as my calling, and not for how other people value it? Bring who you are. Shaping yourself to someone else’s formula may get you to step one, but that will only carry you so far. You have to be courageous in who you are. Build in the character that is done through having that mindset. You don’t “fit in,” you blend in. 2. Second, comparing your self to others you see on social media or in the public eye is a useless exercise and can be harmful. It is natural to want to present ourselves positively. Of course, that is what you see when you follow someone famous or even a close friend on social media. But, if you are a person who is susceptible to social comparisons to begin with, it can be bad for your self-esteem when you follow someone’s more-exciting or more-successful-than-yours life. What if social media was something you could use to occasionally discuss the less-than-perfect aspects of your life? What if sharing a bit of truth, even if painful, helps others feel connected to you, and could give them the opportunity to support you? Here’s a big idea: What if honesty on social media–instead of the raging misrepresentation we so often see–was used to help mitigate the negative effects of its use altogether? What a shift this would be, to see honest and moving portrayals of small moments that matter. Small moments of joy. Small moments of meaningful human connection and caring. Yes, we do see this…but, what often gets the attention and what gets shared, forwarded, repeated, can be the yucky stuff. If it’s true that “you are what you consume,” be careful to stay away from the stuff that, as I call it, “makes you sick!” Ms. Linda says: “when you light a candle for others, it becomes ‘brighter’”. When you look at the positive, take up “four corners” with it (the "plus" sign). 3. Third on my theme today is the idea that in order to reinforce for your self that YOU MATTER, it can help to focus on the idea that you do not have to be in an “ideal state” before you find joy or feel successful. I want to talk about this a little more. We human beings have a desire to improve and pursue an “ideal state.” Children excel based on the things they do–their studies, their sports–often times in order to be “good” and to attract their parents’ attention and approval or positive regard. As children, we may have learned that in order to become a “special” person, you have to make a special effort. Again, Lord knows I have done my share of pursuing some achievement or other…not necessarily for the recognition, but for the way it challenged me, or the way it made me feel to achieve that particular achievement. Isn’t it interesting that children often also exhibit problem behaviors even to the point where they are punished or rebuked, and yet they continue those negative behaviors because even negative attention is better than none? If you are being bad, you are still getting attention. We are all energy, Ms. Linda says, and we are sending out bad energy sometimes, too, and that may also attract people. It is also important to learn to “play by yourself.” It is a valuable lesson to learn to occupy yourself, get what you need, and have to fight for it if you wanted it. You had to go get it yourself, if you wanted it. I don’t need your attention, I know how to get it myself. You don’t have to follow the crowd. When we get a little older, sometimes we even go for the “bad boy” or “bad girl” image in order to appear “not normal.” What I mean by that is that you may feel that being your SELF is being ORDINARY!! And in some twisted way, we have learned that being ORDINARY is boring. Or inferior. What if self-acceptance means accepting that you ARE normal? And that if you can accept the concept of being normal, the danger of not “being special,” by society’s standards–you can actually be satisfied JUST BEING YOU? Does this mean you don’t have lofty goals? No. It just means that you can make a difference thinking about your life not in terms of grand achievements but as a series of small goals, connections, a kind of dance…not a mountain climb. You never have to “reach an ideal state,” because you are always in it! When you are out of balance with your self, you tend to experience life as a series of problems. The character of happiness for humans, I think is this idea of having worth: you are not the one who decides your worth. Paradoxically, you don’t need to seek it by having others assign your worth to you. What I am trying to say is you are worthy just the way you are. Because you are YOU. Everyone matters. Everyone needs a feeling of contribution to this world that we live in. A desire for recognition, achievement. You matter, and knowing this is based on a desire to “like yourself.” The essence of this idea is self-acceptance. I don’t know if I’ve cracked this nut yet, but I’m exploring the idea. Does this make sense? So, repeating my three assertions today, just starting to unpack this idea, they are: Understand that the way you look or perform in the world has nothing to do with your value. Know that comparing your self to others you see on social media or in the public eye is a useless exercise, and can be harmful. Realize that you do not have to be in an “ideal state” before you find joy or feel successful. I said at the beginning of this podcast that “you already have everything you need inside you” to be you. Let’s keep looking inward, and not outward. What’s happening “out there” isn’t you. But by being YOU, and uniquely sharing you, you just may realize along the way that you are, indeed, special. Because there is ONLY ONE YOU. There is truly, no one like you! :)
Ms. Linda, our podcast host, said: “We are mirrors to each other: either you want to be like them, and their behavior, or you don’t want to be like them. You have to look inward; we can look okay on the outside, but what are we doing to figure out what is on the inside? Everything is inside-out.
“Once we understand our ‘root cause,’ or the ‘root,’ what you are planted in (once you know from wence you came, you can go anywhere - James Baldwin)...Ms. Linda’s mother told her ‘do not allow yourself to be impressed by others; do not waste your energy trying to impress others.’
“Let them be like me; look at me, I like just who I am. No one is better than you, but you must always remember, you are not better than them either.”
Postscript: Ultimately, the podcast rambled at the end, and the recording got cut off for length (!), but I was wrapping it up with the idea that the more of us there are giving positive energy to the world, and being humanistic towards others, we will inevitably start to turn the tide from the negative influences that currently surround us and are turning people against one another.

Part I: Express Your Self

Part I: Express Your Self

You already have what you need The latest idea I've been mulling, and explore with my friend and former grad student Linda McShan in Los Angeles, is the idea of self expression. I happen to believe that a life fulfilled is a life where you live up to your potential, to the greatest extent possible and for as much as your skills, resources, and courage will allow. So, if you want to listen, here's the whole hour: https://www.blogtalkradio.com/lmacknetwork/2023/01/13/waking-up-with-linda-mcshan-think-thursday--cross-county-connect-kb Here are the rough notes from that podcast, below: ----- PREMISE: Do you really "find yourself," as so many pundits and self-help gurus suggest? Or, is the "SELF" something you don't "find," but, rather, is something you create? What does self expression entail? Self-expression, by definition, is about communicating your individuality. Further, it is about finding the courage to BE who you REALLY ARE.
It's about actively seeking to share the best parts of yourself—your gifts—with the world. Why don't we all want to do this? It would seem a natural thing to do, to give the fullest expression of yourself to the world, right? I believe each of us has a purpose on the planet, a reason for being born. I also believe that to hoard this, or to not share this, or to not share YOU with the world...is something of a tragedy. I'm not saying you've wasted your life if you don't share your genius with the world...but as a Life Coach, it's part of the paradigm for me to sort of challenge the idea: if you don't realize your potential and don't share it, what's keeping you from it? I am talking about the inner work of understanding who you are, and sharing it with the world: it's not something that just lays there, your have to DO SOMETHING to share it with the world. The key word is "WORK!" Expressing your "self" doesn't have to be a big thing, or a grand gesture...you don't have to be famous. I am talking about the process of creation and self-expression which is giving yourself permission to get what is in your head OUT of your head, and INTO THE WORLD. Why don't people naturally do this? Simply put, we hold ourselves back. The "inner critic"—that voice in our heads—the thing that tries to stop you, belittles, judges or otherwise hampers you from moving forward, is very powerful. But there are other forces that you can actively draw upon that are even more powerful. When you harness these, they can help you defeat the enemy and create the life, the journey that is uniquely and (more fully) yours. These concepts came into view for me recently when I watched actor/filmmaker/producer Jonah Hill's vulnerable and miraculous documentary, "Stutz," and followed Hill as he explored his relationship with therapist Phil Stutz and the tools that Stutz uses to help his patients/clients. Watching the film over the holidays, I was thrilled to see a practical application of powerful self-expression and personal growth tools—and the relationship between therapist, in this case, and client—made so accessible to the general public! Watching the film "Stutz" is like exploring two hours of life coaching, or growth mindset therapy, for only the cost of your Netflix subscription. I highly recommend that you watch it . "Watching the film "Stutz" is like exploring two hours of life coaching, or growth mindset therapy, for only the cost of your Netflix subscription." Self exploration and personal growth are my jam. Phil Stutz is a therapist to the stars. We both work to help people get unstuck and "get out of their way" in order to keep moving forward in life. We want to help you take action to overcome the "drags" these constructs have on the forward motion in our lives: we are, indeed, our own "worst enemy." Stutz calls the chronic enemy inside you Part X , and teaches how to address the part of you that would like to hold you back. It's human nature to blame the past, or stay stuck in lifelong negative habits—mulling, dwelling, blaming, and so on. By labeling Part X, it can help elevate you into "emotional adulthood." Being aware is the first step, but you need resolve in order to take the responsibility to be who you are, consciously and actively, in the present. I am not discounting childhood trauma, or minimizing the hurts that many, or in fact MOST of us, have suffered. I am also not discounting the extra burden and difficulty that mental illness puts on our ability to move out of these states and into our present selves. I am, however, on board with seeking , if you can and seeking help to do it , if you will . Don't decide you can't before you discover you can. "Don't decide you can't before you discover you can." Consistently calling out "Part X" allows you to activate your soul, the avatar of creative forces. Stutz's teachings are helpful, if you want to explore your own supernatural power to draw upon the higher forces in the universe, the highest expression of who you are, you can read Stutz's book, Coming Alive: 4 Tools to Defeat Your Inner Enemy, Ignite Creative Expression & Unleash Your Soul's Potential .
You can use your life force to overcome that inner critic. You can express your "you-ness," and explore and pursue your potential. You can draw upon higher power or higher forces: it is helpful to begin to understand how your own transformation can happen. What can you do? How do you begin to share your YOU-ness with the world? My coaching questions for this topic: In what ways do you believe you are not living up to your potential? How might Part X be working to stop your progress? For example, do you experience feelings of inadequacy, or chronic worry, or procrastination, or moodiness, that work to stop your progress? What are the pitfalls of Part X? What human tendencies put us in the hole that allows us to give into PART X, exactly? What keeps us from reaching our potential? It could be self-gratification . This is uniquely human: We give into self-indulgence or impulses. We may have spurts of energy and focus to overcome our impulses, but the first time we have a set back, we fall back into the hole. It could be lethargy . Maybe it's not depression, per se, but it may have to do with not having enough energy. It was a big symptom we saw in the pandemic. Lethargy results in withdrawing from life's demands, tasks remaining undone, losing touch with people, and allowing opportunities to pass you by. It could be demoralization . This is when "Part X" wants to convert normal discouragement into "hopelessness," where you give up and quit trying for the things that are important to you. It's not just discouragement, it's where you actually quit. Ms. Linda points out that overcoming this tendency requires understanding the nature of life's timing, and never giving up: we can't control it, but it's up to us to recognize the danger of falling prey to this mindset and recognize and be able to pull out of this slippery slope! It could be hurt feelings or unexpected injury . These often result in self-pity or self-righteousness. Victimhood is a deep hole you can fall into and never find your way out of. It is not a problem to experience these; it's human. The problem is letting them keep you down, and stay down. The solution is about crawling out. Ultimately you must trust the process. The opposite of doubt is faith. Not the religious kind, but as a philosophy of using your CHOICES and your ability to choose, as a human being, but by way of choice and tapping into your own knowledge, talent, and experience. And sharing that with the world! Go, YOU! It's your life, make the most of it. And please, share YOU with the world, it needs you! Here are a couple of quotes I close with: "Our greatest glory is not in falling, but in rising every time we fall." Confucius "I want freedom for the full expression of my personality." Mahatma Gandhi "There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you." Maya Angelou. When it comes to self-expression, "everything you need, you already have inside you."
~Karen Bergh, Life Coach

Holiday greetings

Holiday greetings

Showing Up

Showing Up

Update since last podcast: We last talked about how to let a loved one do the work to address their own problems, when you are a helper type. Easier said than done, when you both are addressing the respective trauma in your lives. It is easy to be attracted to someone who hurts as much as you do because of life's traumas--especially if you are both "sensitive cupcakes" (his term)--because you think you can help. But then, you end up ignoring or diminishing your own needs, and your own mental health. In the September podcast on "Valuing Your Time," my host Linda McShan of Los Angeles and I honed in on how valuing your time is really valuing YOU. And how you can look at yourself more closely when in a relationship, if you can resist the urge to keep looking at (and being absorbed and distracted by) the other hurting person! It is crucial to keep focused on your own growth and healing. When you hurt or have experienced trauma, you know you can seek to expand your own selfcare. I've written and talked in the past about the importance of investing in your own wellbeing and a healthy mental stasis...by journaling, hiking, Artists Dates, talking with friends, socializing, working with a therapist, all forms of physical exercise, meditation, prayer, gardening, fishing, bicycling, and so on. These are important actions and "coping mechanisms," for sure. Beyond these ideas, how do you continue to SHOW UP FOR YOURSELF? Here are the items we discussed in the October podcast, using my own experiences as context for the changes and growth I am undertaking (Podcast link here ) : 1. Get clear with your priorities. Um, yeah; YOU are your priority. In the end, there's only you. You are really all you have. Shedding co-dependence means you are not only more independent, you learn to depend on yourself and trust your own ability to get what you need. Celebrate your YOU-ness, share your gifts but don't deplete them or you, keep yourself in reserve but open to life's joys and discoveries in the context of your unique journey. 2. Commit to your passions. I have many! But one of them is travel and exploring new places, vistas, hikes, cultures, food, people. This fall, I returned to Mena, Arkansas, which I had first visited in April 2021. At that time, I went to the place and experienced it as somewhat progressive for such a small and isolated town in the western hills of Arkansas' Ouachita Mountains. Mena, what appears to be a geographically isolated enclave, has accepted an influx of Texans and their money, the Amish, builders and entrepreneurs, artists and even gay people these days. The town actually invites more than 1.5 million tourists each year as a gateway between Oklahoma, Texas, and Arkansas that is situated on a well-promoted scenic highway with overlooks along the ridge of the state's second tallest mountain. On this visit, while enjoying Mena's emerging eclecticism, I also pondered Mena's history as a "sunset town," where black folk were asked to leave by sunset for many decades (because it was physically dangerous for them to be there should they stay). I thought about the upcoming contentious run for Governor of Arkansas, where black nuclear physicist and Democrat Chris Jones has run his hyper-local campaign against the nationally-backed campaign of Republican candidate Sarah Huckabee Sanders. All the pundits and polls see Huckabee-Sanders as a shoe-in, given the force of the money and right-wing conservatism behind her. However, Chris Jones has walked a mile in many small towns while on his campaign trail throughout Arkansas, inviting supporters and citizens to join him and carrying his message of putting love and unity at the heart of our dealings as human beings , while we work to better our state and the conditions of our neighbors. His mile walk through Mena served as a sober reminder of history's attempted lessons of non-violence, and of the changes that like-minded people continue to press for. In truth, racism and segregationist views and policies have not left the South, they've simply gone underground, thinly veiled by "coded" language and sophisticated political shenanigans and media manipulation. I, for one, admire the courage and passion Chris Jones has displayed by calling for changing the divisive course of politics and public discourse that plague our nation. By focusing his campaign on the people and the issues, Chris Jones' campaign harkens back to the days when running for a higher political office meant you were seeking to make change, and not just headlines (or Tweets, or Shares, or Likes. Or cash endorsements.) Maybe I'm being hoodwinked--who can tell in this day and age, really--but I have found myself inspired by his campaign, and it's been a long, long time since I could say that. His forthrightness has also prompted me to reflect: What do I need to do next? How can I help? It takes courage to stand up for what you believe in. When you commit to your passions, things change. 3. Acknowledge and honor your feelings. No change really happens without some pain or discomfort. When you are experiencing growth, you may consider leaning in...to your pain and discomfort...even more. In the last podcast, we talked about how emotional pain is like a jab from a spear that pierces you skin and requires you to clean up the wound...feelings are unavoidable, so feel them. Get help and emotional support if they are too overwhelming. When we have a physical wound or malady, we go to the doctor or other medical experts for help; why would you ignore or downplay when you have a mental or emotional wound that you need help healing? There is a video by BetterHelp.com circulating on social media right now that depicts a teenage girl riffing in a soliloquy about this very topic: she play acts for the camera a conversation with an imaginary friend that the "bone sticking out of her leg" (a physical analogy to the mental / emotional stress she is experiencing) does not need help! "I'm fine," she says. ( Here's the Facebook video link .) Isn't it ironic (and wrong) that we continue to think we can handle these pains and wounds on our own? 4. Take action. Follow through on your commitments to yourself. Showing up in your own life means that you keep taking steps. Keep focused on your needs. Get them met. Resist the urge to subordinate your needs again. However this looks like for you.. 5. Keep negative thoughts in check. When you ruminate or go over and over something negative or hurtful in your head, reprogram those thoughts first by STOPPING them. Tell yourself that's "Stinking Thinking," and stop thinking those thoughts. (Alcoholics Anonymous uses the "Stinking Thinking" stop.) My professor colleague back in Southern California often said she found it helpful to visualize a red STOP sign in her mind. Whatever tricks you can use to stop yourself, do that. Eventually you can reprogram your mind, or replace that "bad programming" with something more helpful. It isn't a coincidence that America's most public therapist and TV personality, Dr. Phil, has as his signature challenge to people in pain: "How's THAT WORKING FOR YOU?" Shedding unhelpful thoughts, beliefs, and behavior is the hallmark of Cognitive Behavior Therapy, or CBT, that is one of the most practiced and perhaps most useful of the tools in modern psychology today for helping fellow human beings get out of a rut and learn to practice better selfcare. 6. Appreciate your "mirrors." My friend and podcast host, Linda McShan calls this "each one, teach one." This process of revolutionizing the mind, she posits, is about walking alongside your fellow human, and allowing them to mirror you back to you, while you may mirror them back to them...as you mutually agree to grow and share, in an unthreatening manner, and with the love and generosity you may experience in friendship as a "witness" to one another's lives. This cannot be toxic, or it won't work. What WILL WORK are: respectful exchanges, a willingness to look at your own faults, and an appreciation for having someone you trust "speak into your life" as a necessary ingredient for your growth. As you serve as a witness for their life, and as you allow them to serve as a witness for your life, it is important to not just agree or unconditionally support another; you also can successfully tackle your independent and shared issues, if you commit to this change and the rules for engagement, together. 7. Let others learn to speak for themselves. Let's say you are the verbal one; if you are a helper type, you probably are! But, you will need to learn to step back, so others can step up. It is a fine line between fighting for someone to get better, and taking away (or enabling) their ability or drive to do it for themselves. Sure, you can model "speaking up for yourself." You can even offer words that may help. But, ultimately, you will need to be a bystander. It can be more rewarding to witness change, understand how and why someone is changing, and even celebrate and encourage their successes and wins, no matter how small. This can be the most important work you do, if you are learning not to care about someone else's change more than they do! 8. Learn during the changes. "We are steady learning. We are steady going. We are steady changing, " Ms. Linda says. We are getting those "aha" moments. For ourselves. We are understanding what is happening to us and for us, while we are going through it. We are conscious and reflective. We are going deeper, and we are more in tune with our spiritual and emotional selves. What a glorious thing. What a gift, to be able to watch and understand YOUR OWN METAMORPHOSIS. 9. Practice the self care. It goes without saying, of course, that setting aside the time to nurture yourself, physically, spiritually, emotionally, never ends. Have a conversation with yourself. It's our minds that block us; transform your thinking. Ms. Linda pointed out in this section of the podcast that regardless of whether it's a SUNSET TOWN, or not, you know what TIME it is...and when it's TIME TO GO HOME. Metaphorically, she was underscoring the idea that you can turn off or turn down the hurtful information that is coming your way; you can choose to reject the ideas and people that are harmful to you; you can avoid danger when you sense it coming your way. And, we talked about the importance of mentoring and how telling your own story can help inspire and change the paths of others. "If you can see it, you can be it" is a powerful notion. We can serve as mentors to our youth who are suffering. With deceptiveness and despair being dished out and promoted on a minute-by-minute basis in our and their lives, we can add a reality check. What you see and hear may NOT be the truth; in order to know and speak your own truth, you can start SHOWING UP in your own life. All in all, the podcast meandered, but I think we covered some important points. I hope these may prove useful to you on your journey.

Part 2: Valuing You

Part 2: Valuing You

In my follow-up podcast to May’s topic of “The Gift of Time,” I talk about valuing your own time. This topic is for those who are a “helper” type, and may want to work on how you might manage yourself and your time, when you want to or are tempted to help those who don’t ask for help, and may not want it! My dear friend and former graduate student Linda McShan allows me to muse for an hour or more from her podcast headquarters in downtown Los Angeles, and keeps us connected as we continue on our journeys, having met in 2017 in my “non-profit marketing” course at the University of LaVerne, in LaVerne, California. [Podcast link here. ] This topic today is really from the lens of how to value your time when you are a “helper” type, or when you may have recognized and are trying to stop tendencies of “co-dependency.” I had to pick a short topic title, so it became “Valuing Your Time.” But, in truth, it could have had a much longer and more complex subtitle, that would go something like: “how to love and be interdependent with another, without becoming or acting ‘co-dependent.’” I’m talking about it, like I often do, from my own lens and life’s lessons. As a life coach, I HAVE been able to help some, and, indeed, clients have shared ways I have helped them get unstuck...I may have helped them have an “aha moment”…or some other breakthrough they valued—just by listening, asking reflective questions, and being fully present with their thought processes in a dedicated hour that we both carve out of our lives to do just that. Interestingly, though, in my own life experience, I have found very often that “trying to help” others—when you think you know a way to help, or might have the time, or even just want to listen and be a sounding board or a friend—can backfire on you. WHEN TRYING TO HELP HURTS Let’s talk a minute about the HELPER TYPE. If you are the “helper” type, as many of us are, you may look like this: you are articulate, studied, thoughtful, caring, and well-intentioned. AND SOMETIMES your most generous and heartfelt expression of time—giving freely to others from your heart, or your life’s well of knowledge and experiences---can HURT OTHERS and can HURT YOU. What happens when… You are trying to help another person, but your help may be perceived as an intrusion? Or, your help is perceived as being “controlling?” Or, what if you receive the message that your “helping” is simply a distraction tactic you engage in, to avoid your own need to “focus on yourself?” Yikes! How does something like a gift of your time, knowledge, and experience turn into something that is seen as not only unwanted and unhelpful, but can perhaps even “choke the life out of” your relationship with that person? AND, can even be harmful to YOU?? BE CLEAR ABOUT THE RELATIONSHIP TERMS I wear lots of hats, I play various roles in life.
In my realm as a “coach,” a coach is hired by someone when they want help. The client seeks the coach because they believe that coach is skilled to help them. That’s a professional contract, a two-way agreement. But, the client has invited you into their realm, and is open to your insights, questions, life experiences…and, they believe they can trust you. AND, there is a modicum of respect granted to you as a helper…because you have somehow earned the right to enter that space, as a professional.
But what happens when we—those helpers and coaches in the world—try to help a loved one, a family member, a friend, our child? These are relationships where we have to be careful to not overstep our boundaries, to not provide “unwanted” help…hey, they’re NOT paying for it. So, watch which hat you are wearing!
Some friends invite us in, sure…we have a free exchange, and there can be profound support and appreciation one to another. My women friends and I have this, and help one another this way often.
But sometimes, the hardest thing to do is to NOT OFFER PERSPECTIVES when you see someone suffering that you think you can help.
Do any of these sound familiar?
“I don’t want your help!” “I don’t need you!” “I’m not a project!” “You do you.” “Leave me alone.” “Stop trying to help. You’re just making it worse!” “You just don’t understand.” “You really don’t get me!” Many times our fellow human beings just want to be listened to, and loved, in the mess. You can love people. But, you can’t “fix them.” You may also be misguided in your belief that you can grow with someone, by being their partner or personal aide in some mutual growth. How do you know if you are helping…or hurting? (Or 1 + 1 = discord, not unity!) Maybe you are in a love relationship with someone, and you think that you have entered into a relationship of mutual growth. You are thinking your partner is wanting to grow, and you want to grow, and you each may think that you can help one another grow together. In some relationships, this is a tacit understanding. In other relationships it is discussed. In some relationships, because it is neither understood nor discussed, you can be at cross purposes…missing one another’s intent and interests, and otherwise just mucking up the works! If this is the case, what signs do you need to watch for, if you are “in it” to grow, but the commitment is not there for the other person, in the same way?
What if you have misread the intention of your mutual attraction? What if the actual terms of the relationship, the reality of it, don’t match what you “thought” it was? What if your partner is not willing to discuss it?
WHAT YOU SHOULD LOOK FOR: 1. The person on the other side is clear about WANTING TO GROW. 2. That person has expressed a clear AREA OF NEED. 3. That person HAS ASKED FOR HELP and BELIEVES THAT YOU CAN HELP. 4. That person HAS SKILLS or is willing to develop them (and potentially get additional education or professional assistance) in order to grow. Now, let’s look INSIDE. Imagine you are THE PERSON WHO IS STUCK…you have a lesson or skills to learn, and to grow from: 1. You may not be aware that you NEED TO GROW. 2. You may think you DON’T NEED to grow. 3. You may NOT be interested in RISKING what it might take to grow, OR may even take steps to PRESERVE YOUR STATUS QUO. (This may not be a conscious choice; there can be unconscious dynamics at work, too!) 4. You may not have the requisite SKILLS you need in order to grow, but may be willing to acquire them, with help. Regardless of which side of the relationship equation you are on, the only side that you can influence or take action on, really is yours. You need to “do you.” LET THE OTHER PERSON DO THEIR OWN WORK, THEIR WAY So, what the helper person needs to learn about this is…step back and let the other person—in this case, your beloved—do their own work.
In truth, your beloved needs to be the expert of their own life, and own it. They need to take responsibility for their own growth.
And, you have to be able to trust them and believe them when they say: “Oh, I see my problem. And now I see steps to my solutions.” If they ask for your help, great. If they don’t, back off.
If you are a helper type, you can’t care more about someone else’s problem (or perceived need for growth) than they do. And, it’s important to remember that and to resist the urge to jump in.
You have to step back. And stop. And let them experience the consequences and conditions of their own actions…or inaction.
These lessons are of course tied to our need as human beings to set healthy boundaries.
When someone says: “You do you. And I’ll do me,” honor that. When someone says, “Stop. I don’t need your help,” you stop. When someone says, “I don’t believe you can help me,” don’t see this as a rejection, but believe them. Honor their wishes and boundaries. To a helper (sometimes co-dependent but not always), such words may sting. Just because someone sets a hard line doesn’t mean they don’t love you or want you in their life. It doesn’t mean that they don’t value you. But it does mean that they really don’t want you to overstep what they see as not only their responsibility, but their expertise. They are, afterall, masters of their own destiny. Captains of their own ship. Engineers of their own train wreck, lol!
It is very hard for helpers to remember this, and to be able to not only guard your time, but to guard your heart. *** A parting thought for my fellow helpers out there.
VALUE YOU, FIRST: MAYBE EVEN ‘RECEIVE’ HELP
Why don’t you value your time more? Why DON’T you care about yourself MORE?
1. Be careful to share your gifts, first, with a person who can appreciate them. 2. Before you share, assess if the person is one who may be able to reciprocate . Growth is a two-way street. You don’t want to enter into a relationship where the other person is unable or unwilling to grow and to also help you grow, too. 3. Step back when it’s helpful to you.
And finally, think on this:
How wonderful is it…
…when you finally open yourself up, and allow others to help heal and help your heart and soul?
How wonderful is it…
…when you stop pouring yourself out, and depleting your own well…and you let someone you trust and admire pour into yours?
So, in essence, this topic today isn’t really about valuing your time. It’s about valuing you. You are your most precious asset. Value yourself, and your time and your self by doing what brings you joy. Don’t overshare your gifts. Also, be aware of and learn to limit your participation in a relationship that is too one-sided.
When someone has told you “no,” even if their own life would have benefited greatly by saying “yes” to your gifts and contributions to their life, take it upon yourself as a new mission to let that relationship go. Accept the experience as a chance to learn.

Take those jabs in life—these can hurt a lot—and get back into the arena. Each jab teaches you more about you, and about life. You may never understand someone else’s psyche, or why they did what they did, and certainly, don’t waste your time trying to figure it out: that’s a fruitless exercise, especially when the other person probably doesn’t know either. Just keep rolling with the punches. Keep being you. And keep growing.
Like my dear colleague and friend, Linda McShan says: “When YOU change, IT changes.”

Part 1: The gift of time

Part 1: The gift of time

In my latest podcast, I talk about the gift of time, what it means to me and some recommendations for investments in time that can enrich your life and those whose lives you touch during your precious time on the planet. My dear friend and former graduate student Linda McShan allows me to muse for an hour or more from her podcast headquarters in downtown Los Angeles, and keeps us connected as we continue on our journeys, having met in 2017 and insisting on staying in touch--I love her soul.
https://www.blogtalkradio.com/lmacknetwork/2022/05/20/waking-up-with-linda-mcshan-cross-country-connect-karen-bergh Here are the notes from that podcast: 1. Invest in experiences “One of the enemies of happiness is adaptation. We buy things to make us happy, and we succeed. But only for a while. New things are exciting to us at first, but then we adapt to them,” says Cornell Professor Dr. Gilovich, a social scientist.
In other words, having the new iPhone may put a smile on your face, or a massive shopping spree may make you excited, but the novelty will quickly fade; all those possessions won’t be exciting, they will just be normal.
Gilovich also found new purchases only lead to new expectations and not true happiness. The moment something new became ordinary, people were already moving on.
Experiences never fade to the mundane, but objects always do. Enduring happiness comes from breaking out of our everyday routine, trying something new, and traveling someplace new.
2. Buy time for what you love Your things don’t define you. Your identity is not defined by your possessions but is actually an accumulation of the places you’ve been, lessons you’ve learned, and the experiences you’ve had. Experiences make up who you are. Experiences become part of you.
3. Invest in other people People don’t regret not buying something, but do regret missing an experience. “FOMO”…stands for Fear of Missing Out…Possessions can always be bought later on, but experiences can never be duplicated. When you miss out on traveling or a special event, you miss out on all the stories that come with it.
Minimize regret (and expand your horizons) by investing in experience.
4. Make a plan—forge a new path Choosing an experience comes with a degree of uncertainty. For that reason alone, many of us decide to avoid unfamiliar experiences. The worry usually is not very valid, and science finds the risk is almost always worth it.
Gilovich even found people spoke positively about the risk they took even if it didn’t go as planned. Experiences are social, w hich makes them worth so much more than any object. Most of the time experiences happen with family, friends, and fellow colleagues which makes them so much more valuable. Even after the experience is over and the moment passes you’re still left with a story to tell. A memory. A meaningful human connection.
#timeisagift #timeisyours #livefully #investinexperiences #investinpeople

Something Borrowed, Something Blue

Something Borrowed, Something Blue

I don't often post purely personal items, but to commend a character that has paid a major role in my journey over the past two years — during the pandemic and a move from California to Arkansas — I want to share my tribute to Blue, Jimmy Mack's Jeep Liberty that he recently sold in order to accept his aging father's gift of his later-model Toyota truck. It has been a sad thing, to see his father, 89, no longer able to drive. And, it was sad, too, to say goodbye to the many and great memories Jimmy and I made driving to our adventures together in Blue, or him in Blue and me in my Prius or RV, "Tess." We have had an amazing time together..."all of us," lol. Jimmy and his many characters (he is always entertaining me and making me laugh) have been such a joy. Bye Bye Blue...End of an era. We will miss you.

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