Image result for Choosing not to act on an angry impulse and to feel the pain that lies beneath is a very courageous thing to do.” ~ Gary Zukav

Seems like I just blogged about this a couple of weeks ago.  Was it something about reacting vs responding?  Remember that one?  Here that word “choosing” means that we’re responding not reacting.  Angry feelings frequently lead to angry actions.  The idea here is to intercept those impulses that can and do get us in trouble and break the pattern of saying or doing things that we regret later.  I agree that anger is often an umbrella that protects us from what the real feelings are below it.  When feeling angry, I often ask clients to go deeper and tell me what they are feeling beneath it.  Frequently I get a lot of feelings that often include: hurt, rejected, sad, lonely, resentful, powerless, frustrated, disappointed, etc.  When they go there, I work on accepting those feelings as valid for them.  Asking why they’re feeling that way or telling them they shouldn’t feel that way does not help.  Acknowledging, accepting, validating usually diffuses the anger and moderates it’s expression.

If you’ve had trouble with your anger in the past, try asking yourself the following questions.  What was I expecting?  What is it I am powerless over (i.e. can’t control) that I don’t like? What’s the pain really going on beneath this anger?  What else am I feeling?  You might even find it helpful to journal about what you’re feeling. This could be a way of validating your experience and defusing any tendency to act out on the anger.

Having angry feelings is never a problem.  Thinking angry thoughts, while probably not the best kind of thoughts to have [see my last week’s blog], probably won’t get you in any trouble.  It’s what you do with those feelings and thoughts that may or may not create problems for you.  Do you have the choice? Courage!

Peace, John

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!

 

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Anytime you start a sentence with I AM, you are creating what you are and what you want to be. #mindset #manifesting

I frequently encourage the use of “I….” statements.  What comes after “I am” can be an affirmation (positive) or a negation.  Many struggle with low self-esteem.  If you were one of them, try this affirmation: “I am loving to myself.”  It may seem alien at first.

Someone recently shared the following quote in their journal that seems appropriate here: “How do we love ourselves?  By forcing it at first.  By faking it, if necessary.  By acting as if.  By working as hard at loving and liking ourselves as we have at not liking ourselves.”  Yes, changing old patterns of self put-downs is hard work.  This also requires persistence.

But changing the self talk is only the first part of it.  A bit later the quote goes on to indicate that you need to change behavior.  “Do things for yourself that reflects compassionate, nurturing self-love.  Embrace and love all of yourself – past, present and future.  Forgive yourself quickly and as often as necessary.  Encourage yourself.  Tell yourself good things about yourself.”  Did you catch all those action words: “Do… Embrace… Forgive… Encourage… Tell….”

Using affirmations to heal is about changing not only the self talk, but the behavior.  What you say and what you do counts.  Create who you are and what you want to be.  Persist with your positive “I am…s.”  Winner’s circle there you go!

Peace, John

 

Image result for “It is not necessary to react to everything you notice.”

… or, I might add, everything you hear.  Frequently, what we see or hear, particularly if it’s different from what we would like to see or hear, creates a “reaction.”  Reaction is usually loaded with emotion and hasn’t been passed by our logic/brain.  Whoever it is that is managing what we see or speaking with us frequently has control when we “react” to it.  When we react, we lose the connection with ourselves.

Can you just observe what you notice and let it be?  Can you hear what is said and take some time to understand it?  Taking time…. that may be a novel concept for some.  It’s guaranteed to keep you in touch with yourself, to run your feelings through your brain and to give you a lot of choice in how you respond.  I hope you noticed I didn’t use the word “react.”  Respond -> the end result of choosing.  Brain in charge here, not feelings.  Healthier responses.  Less anger.  Less trouble.  More peace.

Think about it….. Yes, that’s the point, THINK about it!

Peace, John

 

 

SERENITY PRAYER – long version 

by Reinhold Niebuhr

God, grant me the

Serenity to accept the things

I cannot change,

Courage to change the things I can and the

Wisdom to know the difference.

 

Living one day at a time;

Enjoying one moment at a time;

Accepting hardship

As the pathway to peace.

 

Taking, as He did,

This sinful world as it is

not as I would have it.

 

Trusting that He will make

all things right

If I surrender to His will.

 

That I may be reasonably happy

in this life,

And supremely happy

With Him forever in the next.

Image result for serene pictures of nature

 

Image result for “Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection” ~Mark Twain

CANI” (yes, you can!) – Constant And Never-ending Improvement.  That means you’re paying attention, and that you care about yourself.  Isn’t that a more worthy goal then trying to be perfect?  I tell folks, “You can’t be perfect.  Do you know why?  Because God has a monopoly on perfection… and He hates competition!” 😊

Strive to be better!

Peace, John

 

Image result for “We repeat what we don’t repair” ~Christine Langley-Obaugh

If you grew up in a dysfunctional family, then this quote is for you.  John Bradshaw says, “What you live with you learn, what you learn you practice, and what you practice, you become!”  Quite an indictment and… no hope for escape.

Over my 38 years of working with people, many of whom have come from dysfunctional or unhealthy families, I can tell you there is always hope for healing.  The healing isn’t included in Bradshaw’s quote, but is possible only with a slight change.  If you’ve been in a dysfunctional family and have been affected by it, know that the same principles are involved in the healing process.  It’s difficult, if not impossible, to heal those wounds by yourself.  As an adult, who you hang out with (healthier folk, hopefully) you learn from, and what you learn from them, you practice.  Keep on practicing and over time, you will become a healthier person. 

Choose carefully with whom you hang out.  The tendency is to find someone who is as broken, if not more so, than yourself.  Being with them feels familiar although it’s usually not healthy.  Truth is you need an influx of new ideas and new behaviors otherwise each of you will end up magnifying the unhealthiness that you’re trying to get away from.  

Initially, healthy, and functional people will seem quite alien.  You might even be bored with them because they lack the drama that you had been used to.  Stick with it and know that you deserve better, healthier and functional relationships.  You will soon learn to make better decisions with healthier thoughts and less so with your feelings or your chronic need to avoid your feelings.  If need be, get some professional help so that you can learn more quickly what “normal” is supposed to be and feel like.  Repair the damage not only for yourself, but for future generations of your family.  

Repair, don’t repeat!

Peace, John

Have a happy and blessed Mother’s Day

 

This is the same idea contained in the book, The Secret.  What thoughts you put out into the world hookup with kindred spirits and come back to you.  To paraphrase another quote, “As a man [or woman] thinketh, so shall he [or she] become.”

If you don’t like what you see in the mirror, you don’t change the mirror do you?  I suppose you might break the mirror but that doesn’t change what stands in front of the cracked and broken glass now, does it?  If you want to change what you see in the mirror, you need to change something about yourself.  In this instance it has to do with your thoughts.  If you are putting negative, self-critical, judgmental thoughts into the mirror, that’s what you’re going to see reflected back.  If you don’t want to see or hear the reflected negativity, make more positive messages. [think soil, not dirt!]

Think of it this way: I stand in front of the mirror and say out loud, “You’re a lousy person. You’re never going to amount to a hill of beans.  You’re worthless.”  That’s what comes back at me.  Isn’t it bad enough that others will give you those messages?  Do you need the double trouble of giving them to yourself and hearing them come back at you?  End result: low self-esteem, low self-worth.

Now, suppose you stand in front of the mirror and say out loud, “You’re a good person and have a good conscience.  You are important to me and I can’t wait to see how far you will go.”  What comes back?

The choice is yours.  You gotta put it out to get it reflected back.  At the same time you polish up that mirror, polish up those thoughts you think into it.

Peace, John

Image result for “Don’t watch the clock; do what it does. Keep going.”

There are two kinds of people who watch the clock.  First, those who are waiting for something to end, like school or a work shift.  Usually they don’t like what they are “supposed to” be doing and time usually drags.  Second, those who are really busy and trying to get more done in less time.  Think about a workaholic or a track star running a race.

If you’re like the first one, clock watching adds to the boredom – you are usually not engaged in the activity you’re supposed to be doing.  Why not find a way to get re-engaged?  Think, how can this be done more efficiently?  Ask yourself, what could I do to become more motivated?  Answer that question and try not to focus on the boredom.  If you’re doing relatively mindless work, engage your thoughts on a different channel.  Another network might prove interesting.

If you’re like the second one, trying to get more accomplished in less time, then you’re kind of wasting your time minding the clock, don’t you think?

I sometimes work with clients around time management issues.  Maintaining a calendar and a “to do” list are essentials.  I urge them to go through their “to do” list and write down, next to each item, an estimate of how long they think it will take to do that task.  Creating “time mindfulness” is what I like to call it.  Then you can budget your time accordingly.  If time is dragging, you can schedule some time to develop creative ways of filling the gaps.  If time is speeding, you’ll get better at prioritizing and scheduling realistic tasks given the time.

There is no need to rush; time always goes along at the same pace, one second at a time!  It’s us that says there’s “not enough” of it or “too much” of it.  Folks, time just is. What do you make of it?

 

 

 

Today we have another guest blog from my colleague here at Personal Growth Concepts, Inc, Angelina Miceli, LCSW.  Here are her words of wisdom.  Let us know what you think!  ~ John

I have a lot of interesting discussions with clients.  As we dive deep into their thoughts, feelings and beliefs, we question them often – picking apart the whys and hows.  One recent diving expedition lead to a discussion about the concept of thankfulness. What even is thankfulness?  And why bother?

Thankfulness is a mindset we can choose;  it’s not just something that hits us one day when we feel as though we “have it all,” or have “achieved our goals.”  Rather, it’s an attitude we can cultivate through reframing our focus.  Oftentimes, our focus is framed so much around asking for more, hitting our next goal or recognizing what we lack.  This leads us to forget what we have, or to forget what the purpose or meaning is of where we’re at in our present moment.

How can we cultivate the attitude of gratitude?  The answer is both simple and challenging: by radically reframing our focus.  Where we once may have asked, “what can I do better tomorrow?” we can instead ask, “what went well today?” or, “how did I get closer to my goal today?”  For those who are spiritual, where once may have been a prayer of desire or asking of God, instead, shift to a prayer of gratitude or of giving thanks for the day’s blessings, both large and small.  Thankfulness can be for something as simple as getting through another day, making it through the panic attack you had, or even just for the motivation to get out of bed that day.  And it doesn’t only have to be thanks for what you have, either!  How radical would it be to give thanks for what you don’t yet have or what you’re working toward and hopeful for?  Whether it’s recognizing the progress you’ve made toward achieving a goal, being thankful for the preparations you’re undergoing to be ready for that goal, or simply putting the reality of having that goal met out into the universe, we are capable of reframing our focus from one of looking at the void, to one of fulfillment.

Remember, it’s not necessarily happy people who are thankful, but it is the thankful people who are happy.  It’s the law of attraction that like attracts like.  If thankfulness begets happiness and happiness attracts happiness, just imagine how much that could blossom and grow in you – all from one shift in your focus.     ~ Angelina

Image result for “Write your plans in pencil - and -give God the pen.”

Pencils usually have erasers and they’re used by us folks.  We are human and prone to error which, when we realize them, we are able to erase and “do again.”   Since we are not in “total control,” our plans are tentative.   Usually they indicate what we want to be working toward.  There are many unforeseen forces that act upon our realities.  Frequently, our plans get modified, sometimes by unforeseen circumstances, sometimes we change them as we progress, and frequently by God, who has a longer view and better ideas.  I call this “God-spective.”  Keep working on your plans and give God the pen – He’s already using it!

Peace, John

 

Image result for youve been criticizing your

It’s bad enough when others put you down, so why would you do it to yourself?  It doesn’t work and, it doesn’t reverse the damage that’s been done by others.  It only adds to it and makes you feel worse about your self.  Perhaps you learned to criticize yourself from hypercritical parents and/or other authority figures. Perhaps they were teaching you what they had learned themselves.  You learned wrong because they didn’t know what they had learned was untrue.  They were teaching you what they knew but, guess what?  FAKE NEWS!  Now it’s up to you to repair the damage.  It’s easy to say, “Stop criticizing yourself” but doing it is another matter.  Two things to try:  First, every time you catch yourself putting yourself down, say, “but…….” and finish the sentence with a positive statement about yourself.  The human psyche hates wasted effort. If you do this repeatedly and frequently, soon the critical part will drop out and you’ll just be left with  positive statements.  Second, just try the positive statements (also known as affirmations).  Those are affirming of your sense of self and, over time, should enhance both your self-esteem and your self-worth.  That’s just what Louise Hay ordered. Care enough to value yourself. Do it! You deserve the best!

Peace, John

 

Image result for the glory of gardening hands in the dirt

With the onset of spring (yes, it’s really coming!) one begins to re-experience the greening and the flowering of the earth.  Just the other day on my way to my haircut, I walked by some beautiful purple crocuses in bloom.  What a dash of color they added to the drab sidewalk!

All gardeners have several things in common.  When I used to have vegetable gardens, in late winter I would get out my graph paper and plan it out (think I’m a little ocd?).  Where was I going to put the tomatoes, the string beans, the radishes, the marigolds, the basil, etc?  It used to amaze me that once the garden was dug up and I started planting, it was different. My well laid plans ran into big rocks and roots in the garden and the lack of space – so I became flexible and worked around the natural terrain as best I could.  The plants did likewise.  More challenges ensued as I began to tend the garden.  Watering, weeding, pruning, debugging, fertilizing, etc.  Also, there was a little praying as I asked to be blessed by Mother Nature with sunny weather, adequate rainfall, the absence of hungry animals and diseases, and the presence of only the beneficial insects. Finally, many months later my patience was usually rewarded with a bountiful harvest.  A variety of vegetables and some pretty flowers to enjoy well into the fall and early winter.

How about your inner garden?  Anne-Marie (my sister) and I will be facilitating a 2 day weekend workshop May 5 – 6, 2018 entitled Inner Gardening with SoulCollage.®  There we will help you explore how to plan your inner garden and plant the seeds and transplant the “starters” in the garden of your wants and needs.  You can learn nurturing and tending skills so that your garden will yield a fruitful harvest and more seeds for your future growth.  Everyone can do SoulCollage® and everyone can be an “inner gardener.”

Will you consider nurturing your self and your spirit with us? For further information, please follow this link: www.KaleidoSoul.com/retreat-may

Peace, John

 

Image result for You've been walking on eggshells so much,

“You’ve been walking on egg shells so much, you don’t even know who has been walking on the egg shells!” ~ John Pacheco

Sometimes, in a session, I surprise myself by what comes out of my mouth.  Several months ago this comment came out; I captured it in right away and knew it would be the subject of a future blog.

“Walking on eggshells” is also known as, “don’t rock the boat,” “peace at any cost,” or “what will the neighbors think?”  It’s clear the focus has shifted from the here and now to “what might happen” and “what others are gonna think.”  When you walk on eggshells a lot you’re thinking about “them” and not about yourself.  As a matter of fact you lost connection with yourself and chances are good you’re feeling anxious.  Anxiety is almost always about the disconnect between yourself and the present.

As always, you’ve got choices.  If you walk on eggshells, you’re going to get messy feet, so, why not stomp on them?  You can also choose to walk around or away from eggshells and not have your path dictated by others.  Why not say what you mean, mean what you say but not say it mean?

Today is Easter!  What are you going to do with all those eggshells?  Are your eggshell-walking days over?

Happy Easter!

Peace,  John

 

 

Image result for Lord, make my life a window for your light to shine through and a mirror to reflect your love to all I meet. Amen” ~ Robert H. Schuller

A recent discussion led to a reflection that we don’t understand the value of light without being aware of the darkness.  We also pointed out that the opposite is true. Understanding darkness is only possible when we have experienced “the light.”

When light comes through a window it allows you to see things clearly and often warms up the insides.  When light hits a mirror, it reflects light into reality.  We are windows and mirrors simultaneously.  Now that’s a miracle!  Thank you, Lord!

Peace, John

P.S. A special thank you today to Kat E., one of our regular Christian blog readers, who contributed the quote.  Well done!

 

 

Image result for “Everyone is gifted - but some people never open their package!” ~Wolfgang Riebe

Make believe it’s Christmas morning.  There are gifts tagged with your name.  Why haven’t you opened them?  Do you feel unworthy?  Are you afraid?  Of what?  Why not face your fear, gently remove, or tear off the wrapping and discover your gifts? You may be pleasantly surprised as you delve into aspects of yourself that may be new, exciting and challenging.

Enjoy discovering and developing your gifts and talents. Play with and use them.

I hope this blog post has given you a chance to reflect on your gifts today.  If appropriate, pass them on.  Those gifts frequently return to you once you’ve shared them with others.  Remember, you deserve!

Peace, John

Image result for “Not everyone thinks the way you think, knows the things you know, believes the things you believe, nor acts the way you would act. Remember this and you will go a long way in getting along with people.” ~ Arthur Forman

And, I might add, not everyone feels the way you feel or deals with their feelings the way you do, or think they should.

I used to be guilty of all this, big-league!  I believed everybody should be just like me.  It took me close to a dozen years of bumping into reality before it finally dawned on me.  As a matter of fact, it hit me hard one day when I was expecting someone to deal with a situation just like I would.  If they did, and all the other things I expected, then they would be just like me.  If they were just like me then I would be in a relationship with myself!  I dreaded the thought and in that one moment, came to accept our differences as well as our similarities.  It also took me down a peg or two and my ego became more right sized.

Why not change your expectations of others?  Suppose you stop expecting them to be like you.  Suppose you start accepting as different – neither better nor worse – just “different.”  Perhaps you can give up the power game and learn some new things with them.

Wayne Dyer wrote a book, Gifts From Eykis. To paraphrase, “This is my way…. What’s your way? There is no THE way.”

Also, try this: “no expect, accept!”

Peace, John

P.S. A gentle reminder to turn your clocks ahead one hour tonight!

 

 

Image result for If you want something you've never had, you have to do something you've never done.

Relationships after separation/divorce: Sounds easy, exciting – finally back out there in an intimate relationship….  But, you may need to learn how to set up boundaries with a new relationship.  You may experience triggers from earlier situations, even if it’s been years since your breakup or divorce.  A perceived controlling behavior from a new partner may make you run in the opposite direction.

Most marriages end because something on a fundamental level is no longer working, or never worked in the first place.  It may have been infidelity, mistrust, poor communication, a low-level of commitment, or some combination.  In your next relationship, change and self-reflection are a must;  if not, before you know it you could end up  back in the same situation that caused the divorce in the first place, or worse!  If your previous partner had issues with anger, verbal abuse, alcohol, drugs, or any dysfunctional behavior, you will need to decide the traits and characteristics in your new partner that are, or aren’t,  acceptable to you.

Time does not necessarily heal all wounds.  Healing comes from taking care of the emotional wound by being honest with yourself, acknowledging your hurt, and working through it.  It’s ok to sometimes not be ok, but we don’t want to be “stuck” in the same place forever.  In your new relationship you may need more patience, more understanding, more compassion, for yourself and your new partner.  Moving slower than you feel is necessary is most often the wisest choice.  Listen to your new partner, listen to understand, communicate clearly, trust yourself, and if it doesn’t feel right, it’s probably not right.  Plan to give to the relationship more than ever before and experience the joy and fulfillment of having a beautiful person who will walk by your side jumping through the hoops of life.  Have a “the best is yet to come” attitude.

Blessings,  J and K

Thank you J & K for being our guest bloggers today and taking the time to share information about how to have healthier relationships after one (or two!) has ended.  Remember: a relationship has to think right, as well as feel right!   Peace,  John

Image result for Most humans are never fully present in the now, because unconsciously they believe that the next moment must be more important than this one. But then you miss your whole life, which is never not now. And that’s a realization for some people: to realize that your life is only ever now.” ~ Eckhart Tolle

Where do you spend the majority of the time in your mind?  If you spend it in the past, much of it is wasted since there is nothing you can change about what has been.  If you spend it in some tomorrow, you may become stuck in an illusion, or delusion, of what might be, but probably won’t be.  If you are not in the “now,” then you are paralyzed to effect any change.

How to get to the “now?”  Be aware of where your mind is and when you find yourself not in the “now” head back to the now.  As Eckhart advises, realize that your life is not yesterday, not tomorrow.  Your “life is only ever now!”

Peace, John

 

 

Image result for “A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.”

I think most of us enjoy being in a comfort zone and, it’s a place where we can relax and know that things are familiar, and likely to remain similar.

There are extremes however.  Some people never find a comfort zone – there is too much conflict, chaos and drama in their life.  Others seem perpetually stuck in their comfort zone.  Some venture out and at the first sign of conflict, retreat back to where it’s safe.  Finally, others leave the comfort behind, learn to manage the conflict and persist in discovering new frontiers.

The quote is right – when you’re in your comfort zone, you’re not growing!  If you want to grow, push yourself gently to the edge of your comfort zone, and then a little more.  Growth requires change, conflict and persistence.  Too much or too little and the growth is stunted.  Be a good gardener and make sure your plot has just the right amount of each.  You deserve to reap the benefits.

Peace, John


 

 

Image result for “Life is like a camera. Focus on what’s important and you’ll capture it perfectly.”

I have at least three amateur photographers on my caseload.  I’ve seen their work and I think they are pretty good.  They don’t always think so – maybe that’s part of why they are seeing me!  They spend a lot of time trying to get the composition, perspective, lighting and focus right for each of their shots.  In their minds, they know what’s important to them and when they are all aligned, they capture their ideal shot.

Life is like that.  What do you put into your life?  What comes in unexpectedly?  What just happens to be there?  What do you need to move out of the picture?

How do you see things?  If you change an angle or zoom in or zoom out or take the shot from a different side, you get the picture, right?  What’s the time of day and where’s the sun, the shadow and again, the angle?

Is the purpose of your life fuzzy?  How clearly do you want to see it?  When you see it and your goals more clearly, then it’s easier for you to…….. (fill in the blank with your own words).

It’s time for your life to come into focus.  Set up the exhibit of your shots and invite yourself to view them.  Remember to spend equal amount of time in the galleries of yesterday and of today.

Peace, John

 

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