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Change is inevitable – after all, nothing really stays the same.  But in today’s challenging times, it seems like we’re on “uncertainty” overload, never knowing what will happen from one moment to the next. Here today, gone tomorrow – or, at the least, very different tomorrow.

Uncertainty brings stress and confusion, and while most of us would be quick to say that we want less stress and more certainty in our lives, what we really want is less of a stress reaction to what life is throwing our way.

We can’t choose what happens to us – but we can choose our responses to the situations we encounter.  Let’s take a look at five different responses that people have to stressful situations. As you read through these five responses, you may want to think of a recent stressful event or news that you have received, and see what your reaction to that event can teach you about how you habitually respond.  You may have one type of response at work, and another at home, or you may react differently depending on who else is involved.

The first, and unfortunately all too common response to stressful events is to suffer and be a victim to it. People who respond this way don’t take action. Things happen TO them – and though they may complain and be generally miserable about it, they don’t take any steps to do anything. They allow life to control them, instead of the other way around. This way of responding is certainly not recommended, and eventually, it will take its toll on one’s physical and mental health.

The second type of response is to accept it the situation, and to get some perspective on it.  Someone with this response may say “so what,” or perhaps get some perspective on the situation by asking if it will it matter in a year – or a week – or even in a day.

The third way to respond is to actually take steps to change the situation – taking action to bring it to resolution (or at least move toward resolution). This is a very powerful response, and one that many effective leaders employ.

The fourth way to respond is to avoid the situation. People responding this way make a decision not to get involved in a situation that they don’t see as concerning them, or upon which they can’t make an impact. For example, someone may choose not to get involved in a dispute going on within their office if it doesn’t directly involve them.

The fifth and final way that people generally respond to stress is to alter the experience of the situation. When we look at a situation differently, the experience itself changes. Changing perceptions is probably the most challenging of the responses, because we tend to be stuck in our own interpretations and assumptions about what’s happening, but it is also perhaps the most powerful of all.

It’s your life, and you can create it and lead it as you wish. Remember, what one person sees as stressful, another person barely notices, or sees as exciting and full of opportunity.

So, when life throws you lemons, how will you choose? 

Please comment below and keep the conversation going!

Namaste,

Monique

 

 

Pushing Through.

February 27, 2014

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As a young child I experienced a strong sense of motivation, because I knew at a very young age that I loved to dance and perform.  I began dancing at the age of three, and time stood still when I danced. Even when I was not in class, but at home, I would play music and choreograph my own dances in front of our ceiling to floor mirrors. I was in my flow.

That was my experience, but not necessarily my daughter’s. As an achiever, it would be easy for me to push my dream, or a form of my dream on her to do the same, but I have worked so hard not to do that. I remember the day she told me she wanted to dance, but those classes did not last long. Although she was great, it was not her thing! She is now going on 10 years of age, and I think to myself, “Is she really going to grow up not playing any sports, or dancing, or…?” Recently, I heard the statistic that 80% of the most successful women in Fortune 500 companies all played competitive sports in high school, and my next thought was, “Wow, as a ‘good’ mom do I need to force her to do something to ensure her success?” That thought, of course, came from a place of fear, not love.

I think back to when she was potty training and everything that could go wrong did. In fact, it wasn’t until she was almost five that one day she said, “Mom, come look. I did it!” And that was it. She knew what she had to do, and she did it when she was ready.

Nia finally picked something new to try. She recently started Karate. Although her general modus operandi is to be a bit lazy when it comes to physical things (she’d rather be exploring out in nature!), I find that she likes Karate just enough to not quit. In fact, one of her teachers saw something in her, not on the physical toughness side, but, in her energy—her essence to want to do be noticed for her intelligence and to win. She is quite competitive! So, she’s was invited to try out for the competition team and I’ve seen her turn a new page. I see her fighting harder and not giving up when the going gets tough. She is pushing through. I also know that these teachers breathing belief into her is helping so much! They, too, could easily give up on her and tell her she’s not yet ready. What they have done is open the door for her to decide to do something very challenging while feeling supported.

In the same, the protective parent in me wanted to make it easy and safe for her. I had many “Oh no, she can’t do that!” or “She’s not ready to do that!” moments. But I kept those thoughts in my head. Instead, I cheered her on and allowed her to make the decision to stick with it or walk away.

Reflecting on this has helped cement a few concepts for me, which also may help you in a particular situation in which you may find yourself. They are:

  1. We each have unique passions that call to us and put us in our “flow” and/or help us to feel strong/on the verge of greatness.
  2. There is a time and place for everything.
  3. Pushing through in some way in our lives helps us to achieve a sense of purpose and pleasure.

Where can you apply this learning?

Where can you Push Through?

How can you support someone else to do the same?

Make sure to comment below. I’d love to hear your examples of pushing through.

It’s your life. Lead it well.

Namaste, Monique

Acceptance and Love NOW

August 16, 2012

How simple it is to see that all the worry in the world cannot control the future. How simple it is to see that we can only be happy now. And that there will never be a time when it is not now.
-Gerald Jampolsky

Many times in our lives we all will experience unexpected challenges we must confront. Challenges which can pull us back into the past and keep us there, or have us worry so much about what will be.

Just recently I experienced one “of these” during a very unexpected time. But since I teach people how to find joy and opportunity regardless of what life throws them, I found it serendipitous that I was placed at a resort called “now.” If you know me well you know that I don’t believe in coincidences. Each time I saw that word “now” I was forced to bring myself to the present moment and inquire within, “How can I release the worry that I’m feeling right now? And how can I choose a more productive thought or action now?”

We all know that releasing worry and choosing a new thought is much harder than it seems, especially when the situation feels so heavy. Does it really work? My answer is YES, but you have to be just as dedicated to the emotions and truth of the new thought (or the real, love-based thought) then of the worry itself (false & fear-based).

Some of my “gurus” share these strategies…the very ones I did my very best to employ during this challenging time:

Eckhart Tolle– the king of living in the “now” -tells us that if we are not in the state of either acceptance, enjoyment, or enthusiasm then we are creating suffering for ourselves and others. For many reasons, my only choice in this specific scenario was to be in a mode of acceptance. Tolle states that  “On the surface, acceptance looks like a passive state, but in reality it is active and creative because it brings something entirely new into this world.” In that moment I could not choose joy and I could not choose enthusiasm, but I was very conscious of the situation, the feelings of the individuals involved, and to my part and my choices. I chose to accept the whole kit and caboodle. I truly sat with what was–good or bad.

Byron Katie tells us that suffering is optional. Whenever we experience a stressful feeling- – anything from mild discomfort to intense sorrow, rage, or despair (I went through the entire range!)- – we can be certain that there is a specific thought causing our reaction, whether we are conscious of it or not. When we believe our thoughts instead of what is really true for us, we experience the kinds of emotional distress that is suffering.

Katie’s work goes much deeper and stems from her personal pain. Her work helps us do what Tolle speaks of- –  getting to what really is true. Her experience helps to make concrete the TRUTH that everything (including each and every thought, action, belief, etc.) comes either from LOVE or FEAR. If we consciously choose to be in a state of acceptance and love WHAT IS IN THIS MOMENT even if it is painful, our fear dissipates and what remains is love…love for ourselves, for others, and for whatever life brings. It also allows forgiveness of self and others to manifest, something which is very difficult. Katie says that loving what is becomes as easy and natural as breathing.

Finally, Katie shares her simple, yet powerful inquiry process, which I used during this personal crisis. Here it is:

Deeply question the following about the feeling or thought:

1. Is it true?
2. Can you absolutely know that it is true?
3. How do you react when you think that thought?
4. Who would you be without the thought?

There is one final powerful step to this process (the turn around), which helps you to take responsibility for your thoughts and really understand their intention, but that would require a much longer post!

Here’s a very brief “on the job” example of using steps 1-4 (with a few enhancements):

Thought: “He is always condescending to me in front of others, and clearly never wants me to advance. I am stuck!”

Ask: Is that true? Really true?

“Well, not always, I guess. Sometimes he can be supportive of my ideas, but I always feel like he will put me down if he has the chance. I guess I also have the choice to leave and not feel stuck.”

Ask: How do I respond when I hear/say that thought?

“I always feel like I have to be defensive; I am really angry for what feels like an eternity. I have seen others act in this way and I don’t want to be this way or be perceived as a difficult person who has to fight all the time.”

Ask: Can you see a reason why to drop the thought?

“Yes. I would like to drop this thought. I guess if I think this way all the time and expect the worst I always will feel defensive, angry, and stuck.”

Ask: Who would you be without the thought?

“I would be more relaxed, happy, and confident in who I am regardless of anyone above or below me.”

Etc…

Try it for yourself with a thought/situation that may be pulling you out of the “now” and into sorrow, worry or pain. Spend time in your own dialogue when answering the questions. You may go back and forth for a bit, after all, Katie calls this process The Work!

How can choosing acceptance and love over fear in the “now” move you forward today?

When you are present in the moment, you break the continuity of your story, of past and future.

Then true intelligence arises, and also love.
-Eckhart Tolle

Power to Choose

April 23, 2012

I’ve had the pleasure recently of addressing many college students and professionals about the direct link between our energy and how happy, balanced and successful we feel in our lives. This concept of Energy Leadership places the responsibility of our thoughts, beliefs, emotions, and ultimately, our life’s outcomes, in our hands. It teaches us that despite what we may be experiencing, or who/what we are surrounded by, we have the power to lead our lives in a way that creates everything we want more of…great relationships, productivity, results, energy and enthusiasm, feelings of success in all areas of our life, health, wellness, balance, and more.

However, the question that I have been getting most is, How can I manage all of the negativity and conflicted individuals around me? How do I not let it affect me?”  Great question, and a great exercise in leading our energy.

I read a passage just a few days ago which nicely addresses this exact question. It said:

Negativity will bring us down if we stay around it long enough. We don’t fully grasp that being around destructive people will affect us, seep into us, and eventually pull us down. That’s why choosing our environment is so important. In truth, the only free will we have is choosing our environment, because once we are in it, it determines how we grow. It is similar to wheat which is planted in the ground. The potential is not realized without the right soil, rain and sunlight which make up the environment…once man has chosen his environment, he is in its hands, like clay in the hands of a potter. ” –Yehuda Berg.

Wise message, indeed. But, how can we fix an environment which we cannot leave in that moment (or choose not to leave)? Or, how can we help to bring about change in others knowing that in the end they must change themselves?

I’d like to suggest this process which allows us to influence change within our own power, raising our positive energetic vibrations along the way. It’s all about CHOICE.

  1. Remain a victim to it.
    This option is always a choice, but one which will continue to give you feelings of loss of control, powerlessness, grief, anger, etc.
  2. Avoid the conflict, challenge or individuals.
    Get out of the situation. Limit your involvement or time spent with the individuals. You can consciously and in an empowered way choose not to get involved in certain conversations or with certain people. If you don’t like smoke, don’t sit in the smoking section!
  3. Change or leave the situation.
    Do what you can to intervene to bring about a resolution, or offer a positive perspective to the conversation or situation. If you don’t like the music being played, suggest a new station! Or, change the channel yourself! Sometimes circumstances make it so that we cannot leave certain environments. If over time, you can’t effect change or make it better for yourself, leaving may be the only answer. It may be time to consider making the changes necessary that will allow you to exit.
  4. Alter your perspective of the experience.
    Look at the situation differently and your experience of it will change. Use techniques like changing your understanding of the significance of the situation (how urgent is this, really?), becoming curious instead of furious, visualizing yourself in a different location–one that brings you peace (like a mountain top!), understanding why the person may be doing what he or she is doing, or bringing compassion into the situation instead of judgement.
  5. Accept it.
    Accepting a situation as it is instead of fighting it. Consider saying to yourself, “So what? In the bigger scheme in life, does this problem really and truly matter?” Simply don’t assign so much value to the situation or the person. You can choose to be in the moment and see the potential learning opportunity in that moment [for you or for the other(s)]. By releasing the situation, we also release the energy of it!

We have the power to choose how we live, work, play and feel. Certainly, in our lives we are confronted with situations where we feel powerless and unable to make a change, or leave. However, we do have the power to choose how we feel about these situations, people, changes, etc. We have quite a bit of power at our disposal, we simply need the courage to access it and make those tough decisions.

If you feel you are in a negative situation currently, or are in the company of negative individuals who you feel drain you of your energy, consider the above process and answer these questions to help you influence change and to ultimately feel better and in more control:

  • Do I feel like I am powerless in this situation, or a victim to this person?
  • How can I “change the channel” or intervene to create a more solution-oriented environment?
  • How might I alter my perspective of this issue or person?
  • If I simply accepted the situation for what it is and/who the person is, how might that help me release the negativity I’m feeling?
  • What would be my ultimate outcome and what are the first steps I can take to achieve that outcome?

And, remember, small changes in actions and perceptions create HUGE shifts in our energy and in how we feel.

Finally, consider The Optimists Creed as an anchor for you today and in those tough moments:

Acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation — some fact of my life– unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.

Namaste,

Monique