Sunday, February 23, 2014

3 Ways to Use Emotions to Find Joy

"One is certain of nothing but the truth of one's own emotions." E.M. Forster

Emotions are an incredibly forceful part of our lives and for some the driving force of our actions. Psychologist have contrasting views about the purpose of emotions. However, the work of Robert Plutchik, the evolutionary psychologist, posited that there are eight basic or primary emotions. Plutchik's eight core emotions are: Joy, Trust, Fear, Surprise, Sadness, Anticipation, Anger, and Disgust. Each primary emotion has a polar opposite, for 

  • Joy is the opposite of Sadness
  • Fear is the opposite of Anger
  • Anticipation is the opposite of Surprise
  • Disgust is the opposite of Trust
1.  Understanding what our emotions are teaching us
If we find ourselves stuck in an emotion like anger, sadness, fear, envy, it may be an indication of a desired elevation of that emotion. Our sadness may be crying out for joy, our anger an expression of fear that yearns for trust, and our envy an expression of desire. 

2.  Examine our patterns belief
Why we get stuck in these basic emotions may be due to our patterns of belief. Our culture, religion, parental strictures, and other influences may have formed our current beliefs. If our religion tells us that desire is a sin, we stuff desire and remain in a state of anger or envy. If we were told that nothing ever works out in life, we stay stuck in sadness or disgust when all we want is to trust that we can experience joy.

3.  Joy is in the process not the outcome
Understanding our emotions can bring us to joy, which can only be experienced in the present moment. Eckhart Tolle, in his book The Power of Now writes, “Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have. Make the NOW the primary focus of your life.” This is contrary to the way most of us operate. We keep ourselves an arm's length away from joy by staying stuck in our primal emotions. We fool ourselves into thinking that joy is just around the corner when it is right in front of us. Keeping our gaze on our expectations (what's around the corner) will keep us in a state of suffering. We suffer through the job to get the money that is sure to bring us joy, right? Joy is in each step of the dance of life. When we can fully engage, releasing past belief patterns and future anticipation and elevate our emotional landscape, we can flow and dip in the moment, fully present, moving with joy and ease to the music of life.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

3 Myths About Success

Circa 1950s
"Fame doesn't fulfill you. It warms you a bit, but that warmth is temporary." 
~ Marilyn Monroe

With the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman, many are scratching their heads with this question on their minds: How could someone so successful be so unhappy. In our western culture, we put a premium on career success, material acquisitions, and fame. If others know us and admire us we must know and admire ourselves, right?

Mistaking outer fame for inner joy
I, too, wanted to bask in the light of fame. I knew from the age of five that acting was my path. Nothing in my life felt so right, natural, and soothing to my soul. I gave myself permission to pursue acting exclusively at age 19 and dropped out of college and enrolled in an acting program. It was a magical time in my life. The magic began to fade when I stepped from the love of creating to focusing on career success. All of sudden my gaze was on getting the part, aligning with the right people, and maintaining a certain weight all in an effort to feel a sense of self-worth. My desire for fame was a desire to have others validate me. I had mistakenly thought that reaching that pinnacle of outer success would provide inner joy.

Success does not exist outside of us
When others determine our worth, we can become addicted to a praise that never fully satisfies. We overreach at our jobs, give up our desires and needs in the home to win the praise of the family when all we are really longing for is self-acceptance and self-love. Doing whatever it takes to receive outside praise is exhausting and not fulfilling in the long-run. The process of experiencing inner praise can only come when we fully accept and celebrate ourselves, forgive ourselves for our perceived mistakes, and truthfully own and express our needs. When we can say I love who I am we will love what we do.

Success is not static
When we take control of growing spiritually and emotionally, our definition of success changes and will continue to change as we continue to grow. Success is an internal journey that brings us back to our divine self. Living out our divine purpose is an endless path of discovery, which may or may not look like our childhood dreams, but will warm the soul indefinitely.

One Woman One Voice Project

I am so grateful for this forum and community of wonderful people dedicated to personal growth. I am pleased to announce One Woman One Voice Project, an online community for women and men to connect, heal and thrive through storytelling, wisdom sharing, and lots of laughter. Join our community! See our February Newsletter.

While OWOVP is a space for women we, we fully support the personal growth and healing of men and are working to incorporate more male voices into our community.  Please see our recommendations for men.

Peace & Love,

Sunday, February 9, 2014

3 Ways to STOP Self-Sabotage

Artwork by Bazgrole
"Holding yourself back is an unnatural way of being. . . . It all comes down to belief and habit." ~Dr. Wayne Dyer

Are you holding yourself back? Do you get close to your goal only to abandon it? Do you let other people and your perceived negative traits (your weight, status, lack of money, or education) dictate whether or not you will be successful? Many times we self-sabotage because we believe we are unable to control our racing negative thoughts, and even worse our negative actions. When we are in self-sabotage mode, our thoughts fall into 3 distinct categories: 1. It’s not fair; 2. It’s all his/her fault; 3. I’m doomed and don’t know how to change. The subconscious mind works hard to prove us right. When we focus on our pain, our faults, and the unfairness of the world we, on a subconscious level, remain stuck in the emotion of helplessness.
   1.   Make Friends with Our Pain
In order to make friends with our pain, we must look at what’s underneath. How are your pain and perceived inadequacies serving you? Perhaps the tenets of why we show the world just how wounded we are is subconsciously steeped in our fear of not being enough. Perhaps we feel unworthy of a good relationship and thus recreate the qualities of old hurtful relationship in each new one. Making friends with our negative thoughts is the first step toward letting go. Embracing how our pain serves us will teach us how to grow beyond our pain and eventually to release it fully.
    2.   Changing Our Inner Dialogue through Focus
Many people think stopping negative internal dialogue is difficult and that the mind is an entity outside of our control. The contrary is true. With practice, we can quiet our brains to get into what Judson Brewer, MD, PhD, Director of Yale Therapeutic Neuroscience Clinic calls flow. In flow, we are living in the moment, which is also called mindfulness. In this state, we trust that we are capable by putting all of our attention on the task at hand. We can also observe, without judgment, our internal dialogue. When we catch ourselves in a negative thought pattern, we can form a visual (a Stop Sign is a good one, or a floating cloud) to counter that thought. Where we put our focus structures our reality.
    3.  Taking Responsibility
Releasing blame can give us the gift of knowing ourselves. We cannot take responsibility until we fully know who we are. But bear in mind that taking responsibility is a practice like any other. Would we expect to magically shed 20 pounds just because we now recognize it is a good thing? No. We develop a daily practice of eating healthy foods and exercising. Taking responsibility requires the same level of practice. Catch yourself when you engage in practices that do not serve you. If there is resistance to a daily practice, ask yourself again how it serves you to stay in the emotion of blame. I discovered I was stuck in the emotion of blaming my ex-husband because of a fear of moving forward on my own. When I understood it was my own fear, each time a negative thought came up I envisioned it floating away on a cloud and got right back to what I was doing. 

Have compassion for yourself as you grow and change. Understand that moving forward can only happen when you see yourself fully and without judgment. Carlos Castaneda said, "A man of knowledge lives by acting not by thinking of acting." Become an active participant in your own success. Journal, meditate, take a class, join a supportive group, practice mindfulness, and most importantly, lovingly be aware of how you see yourself. When you view yourself as capable, intelligent, and worthy others will see you that way, too.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Mirror, Mirror … Understanding Why We Picked Our Partner

“We all attract certain people into our lives who have developed qualities opposite to the ones we are most identified with. In other words, they mirror our disowned selves, and we mirror theirs.”—Shakti Gawain
This is a subject of keen interest to me as a coach and for my own personal growth. For some time, I could not understand how I chose a life partner that turned out to be so unlike me and so contrary to my core values. How could he have changed so radically? We were so in love and in sync. When I took a deeper look, I found that the attraction to the qualities in my partner and his in mine were an attempt for us both to become whole.
The understanding that we are looking at our mirror image in the partners we choose will help us to better understand ourselves. We possess, but often stifle, what we term negative qualities in our partner. Perhaps our partner is angry, lazy, or judges and blames—the harsher our reaction the stronger the denial of that quality in ourselves.
Learning to Reinterpret Denied “Shadow” Characteristics
‘‘The shadow,’’ wrote celebrated psychoanalyst Carl Gustav Jung (1963), is ‘‘that hidden, repressed, for the most part inferior and guilt-laden personality.’’ Jung also wrote, “Everything that irritates us about others can lead to an understanding of ourselves.” We all carry our shadow parts whether we are aware of it nor not. We attract characteristics in others that we suppress. Attracting an angry partner, as I did, was a quality I suppressed in myself. 

It all goes back to childhood when our very survival depended on our parents. As children, we learn to please our parents to survive. It was not safe to show anger in my home with an alcoholic father. I muzzled my anger to such a great extent that I lost my own sense of self. The degree to which I concealed that quality was the degree to which I experienced anger with my partner, which was extreme. I needed to be more forceful in my life by stating my needs and my partner’s anger was teaching me how to find my own voice. When I could speak my truth, no longer was I attracted to that degree of anger and could move on to a healthier relationship.
On the other hand, perhaps we have a partner whom we overly lavish with praise because of their career success or creative gifts. This, too, can inform us of our need to foster those qualities in ourselves and can be a signal of a sense of unworthiness.
Taking Responsibility
Our judgments are our internal sensors telling us where we are out of balance. Becoming aware of our denied “shadow” qualities will help us to find balance within ourselves and in our relationships. We may still not like a quality, but we will be less reactive. If the behavior is extreme, we may choose to move on to another relationship. When we can accept ourselves for who we are and learn to understand the signals our emotions are giving us, we give our partners permission to do the same.