Archive | May, 2012

Hope and Expectation – Two different Constructs

15 May

Our life’s journey to discover happiness is a solo adventure (happiness comes from within) and no one other than you can make it happen for you.

Having said that, we compulsively enlist others in OUR pursuit of happiness and load them up with expectations of which they are often unaware.  It is “expectations” that cause relationships to unravel, tempers to flare, and what-once-appeared-to-be-love, to die.  No matter what we were taught in childhood,

expecting anything from others is unreasonable. 

We can hope, but we can never expect!

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This is the key point of this post:
Hope and expectations are completely different constructs (concepts)!

  • Hope is something we create internally and through our desires we project out into to the world – hope depends only on us:  our dreams, our goals, and our thoughts.  We hope for an outcome, we hope for things to happen, and we hope to feel a certain way when “it” happens.  Hope springs eternal and does not need others to be involved in our journey.
  • Expectations are a completely different thing because by their nature others are intimately (and often unsuspectingly) involved every step of the way.  While they are also created internally, expectations are immediately infused with judgment and criticality based on “what would we do.” Expectations are like writing a screenplay for others and chiding those who don’t play their role the way you’ve intended. “Unfulfilled” expectations create detours and unnecessary delays on our road to happiness.

When you hang on to hope and let go of your expectations, life becomes easy!

Here’s some examples of the differences between hope and expectations:

Practice letting go of your expectations of others and replace them with hope.

Wishing you a happy week!

Carol

Happy Mother’s Day – be a Mother to Yourself!

13 May
Mother's Day card

Mother’s Day card (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It might sound a bit circular to you to suggest that you be a mother to yourself – but I believe that most mothers (no matter how wonderful) fall short of being the nurturing, caring, unconditionally caring mother we all need to get us through life.

Through this blog and in everyday interactions, I hear stories that range from mothers who are exceptionally giving and accepting to downright bitches on steroids who poison every person they meet.  We cannot choose our mothers, but we can choose how they affect our adult life (or at least we can try!)

Just as I believe in the Type Y management theory (most people will do the best job they can given the knowledge and education at hand) versus the Type X (people innately need to be micro-managed or they will cheat and do the least) – I believe that most mothers (and fathers) do the best job they can given their knowledge and education about parenting. (Of course there are exceptions – we read about them in the daily press or see them on Reality TV!)

Because today is Mother’s Day in North America, I’d like to focus on mothers (and the same wisdom can apply to being a father to yourself!)

What We Need from Mothers

Childhood memories might not be as distant to you as they are to me, but no doubt the good, bad, and the ugly of childhood sticks with us all.  We all bear the wonders (and the baggage) of growing up and I venture to guess that no matter where or when you grew up, it was not all honey and roses (if it was, then I applaud you for an ideal childhood or a selective memory!)

What would the ideal mother give? Here is my “laundry list”:

  • safety (from the physical and emotional affronts we face in the outside world);
  • security (with basic food, shelter and clothing taken care of);
  • acceptance (to know that we are whole, complete and perfect just as we are);
  • love (unconditional if that is even possible);
  • truth (that life isn’t fair, that there are good and bad people, that we deserve love, and that no matter what we can make it.)

Moreover, the perfect mother would remind us that we are good enough, beautiful enough, smart enough, deserve love, and can make it no matter what or who life throws at us.  But, like a Barbie doll – such an ideal is only a fantasy.

My mother did her best to raise five children (only seven years apart) and offer a nurturing environment – given her knowledge and parenting skills, and I am truly grateful.  I always had a home where I knew someone would know my name and I could fall asleep without fear of violence or hunger – I am grateful, especially when I know that not everyone had this luxury.

Lifelong Mothering can only come from Within

Regardless of what your mother was like, I believe that EVERY mother falls short of being the ideal mother we need(ed).  The good news is that no matter who was/is your mother, we all have the opportunity, starting today, to be the ideal mother to ourselves.  We can give ourselves the inner pride, security, safety, unconditional love, acceptance, and truth to become the best we can be!

Many books attempt to teach us how to nurture ourselves and overcome our childhood – including  as the Inner Child, I’m Ok- You’re Ok, There is Nothing Wrong with You, Co-dependent No More, The Four Agreements,  etc.; but few teach how to be the mother you need(ed) for yourself.

Being able to rely on unconditional love and undying support of the ideal mother can only come from within. We owe it to our inner child to give him/her the nurturing in the way we need, from someone who knows us better than anyone possibly can.

Starting today – evict the Inner Critic

The first step to being a mother to yourself is to evict the harsh inner critic who takes up valuable real estate in your mind.  Replace this critical voice (you’re too xxx, you’ll never be yyy, don’t even try to do zzz!) with that of the ideal mother (you are perfect the way you are, you can become yyy, don’t just try but do zzz!, you can do it!)

Tell yourself what an ideal mother would say:

...you are extraodinary…you are beautiful…and you are loved.

In The Four Agreements, author don Miguel Ruiz says that Agreement #1 is Always live with integrity.  In other words, never tell yourself anything that you would not tell a best friend.  Be supportive, loving, accepting, proud, nurturing, and giving to yourself!

The second step is to write down the characteristics an ideal mother (or father) would have (or could have) provided in your life, and then start doing them for yourself!

Does this make Mother’s Day sense?

What do you think? Is this simply airy-fairy, psycho-babble?  I can tell you that the Royal We (me, myself and I) plus my inner Mother is a formidable team (newly formed!)

Does this ring true for you (or anyone you might know)… please comment!

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

Carol

Seeing the world through broken glass… waking up to 20/20 vision

10 May

Do you ever feel like you’ve wasted heartbeats living your life based on what others tell you is true (using guilt, conditional love, coercion, religion, shame, and downright lies) instead of creating the life you want?

I don’t know about your story, but I am slowly realizing that the “fill in the blank” projections of what others told me I need to be (you should be more – fill in the blank; you are way too – fill in the blank; what will other people think of you because of – fill in the blank) are so distorted as to be laughable.  And none of them are true!

My parochial, strict upbringing followed by a quarter century of “love” with a bonafide narcissist, can only be compared to practitioners testing your eyes, prescribing corrective glasses, smashing the lenses, and then forcing you to wear them (with physical and emotional threats) so that you can “see the world properly.”  (Translation: see the world as they do.) 

I must be a slow learner, but only recently did I wake up to see that people from my past would build themselves up by putting me down.   My psyche suffered years of anguish and guilt because I believed the distortions I saw through broken glass.  The perps got to feel superior, earned big financial wins, and were largely successful in squelching my spirit.

After a lifetime of words and insistence that I will never be good enough (for the world), I realize that this is simply not true.  Moreover, I am discovering that I never needed “glasses” to see the world properly in the first place – my perceptive vision is (and was) 20/20.

While my realizations are mostly an inside job, they were bolstered recently by several acquaintances whose words rang true.  Maybe they spoke out because they weren’t looking for personal gain, I don’t know, but I am grateful for what they told me (positive words.)

20/20 vision in comparison…

What makes these words different from the past? They resonate with what my soul knows to be true:  I am a loveable, kind, generous (to a fault), attractive, intelligent, passionate, sensitive, empathetic, and exciting person who has much to give.  (If you already know this about yourself, I congratulate you for discovering it earlier than I!)

My heart sees (and feels) that the positive words are true, but hearing positive words (with insistence) is so rare that I had to have them repeat them.  Even now, it takes an effort to overcome the negative reflections from the past and accept that the love I’ve known was conditional to me being someone I am not.

I now know that my eyesight about the world (and myself) started out fine, but got derailed through emotional attachment to people whose love hinged on me being someone else.  Wearing the broken glasses to please them ended up distorting my vision of the world, of myself, of where I fit in the world.  At times when I glimpsed an uncorrected vision (and liked it!) – chiding would remind me that they knew me better than I knew myself. I believed that love was conditional on me seeing the world as they did. (I still believe that is true, but now I no longer care!)

Today, I love myself (I know that I am loveable) and that is all that matters. I see the world as I see it and the Royal We (me, myself and I) are happy.

Burying the past…except for the Zombies

What distortions came about with the corrected vision?  I heard over and over (by more than one person) that I was too sensitive, too abrasive, took things personally, was not talented enough, unattractive (and reminded that vanity is the work of the devil!), boring, assertive, unlikeable, a bad communicator, a poor mother, had broken intuition and I was downright unlovable.  (The latter point made it easy to convince me that I would never find anyone who could ever truly love me and I was lucky to have found said person!  No wonder I’ve been a people pleaser!)

One would think that it should be easy to bury the broken glasses today.  Unfortunately, people from my past try to prevent me from doing so.  Family members insist that I am doomed to eternal damnation because I don’t adhere to their religious edicts (not my truth).  The narcissist continues to contacts my friends to be his friend (and they call me to say “WTF is his problem!”)  Others continue to try to get me back (to benefit them) years after I stopped the relationships.  I guess that’s the nature of controlling, broken glass relationships – a controller needs someone to control.

20/20 vision is incredible!

Living in integrity (treating myself the way that I treat my best friends) is my truth.  My intuition celebrates that I trust that my perceptions are true (undistorted) and believe that I deserve love.   I am at peace with who I am (and who my friends know).  This makes for a satisfying life of self-love, mutual friendship, and trust in oneself.  It’s finally nice to know that my vision was 20/20 all along.

Have a great week!

Carol

Thoughts become words become actions become… destiny?

8 May

I confess that I am sometimes a “serial” blogger in that I post, post, read other blogs, think, post…

One blog I subscribe to is about Expatriate Experiences (I live my Expatriate life-to-be vicariously through her experiences) and today’s post is worth sharing with you:

I’ve heard this many times:

“Thoughts become words.  Words become actions. Actions become habits. Habits become character.  Character becomes destiny.” (Source Unknown)

Read the post and let me know what you think – can we alter our present and our future through the power of (positive!) words?

Have a great day!

Carol

Saying NO to saying yes – a Survival Guide

7 May

There are two types of people in the world – those who say “no” and those who say “yes” as a matter of upbringing, personality, habit, or need for acceptance.

Stereotypically, the people who say “yes” are women who were raised to go with the flow, be service-oriented, don’t rock the boat, and the best one – take care of others before you take care of yourself.  Many of us learned and believed that the latter was our lot in life playing a support role to the world.

One of the most powerful self-care words in the English language is the word “no” (even when your first inclination is to still say “yes”) because it allows one the space to consider our own wants and needs first (which is the way it always should have been) before accepting the needs of another to override.  Much of my adult life has been spent saying yes: yes to children, yes to a spouse, yes to volunteer roles, yes to school, yes to friends, yes to everyone – and, no to myself.

In some ways, it is dishonest (and poor communication) to say yes, when no is what we really need to say (to survive!)

Finally, having read enough survival guides, I realize that “no” is a critical survival technique that should be taught to girls (especially!) and boys everywhere – we only have one life and one person (me) who will take the care to make sure our needs are actually met.  Everyone else wants to make sure their needs are met first!

But for every opinion, there is someone who dissents…

It comes as no surprise that the number of opinions in society at least equals the number of blogs online (gazillions!), but today’s post from a blog I read weekly took me aback.  You can read it yourself by clicking on the image below:

WOW – how completely opposite!!!  (But not surprising when you consider the writer is male.)

When you read the outlined paragraph, it falls along the lines of how I believe that my generation (end of the boomers) in North Americans are raised: boys were raised to take care of themselves, and girls were raised to take care of – well – everyone (except themselves).

In other words females are raised to put others first (in John’s blurb above:  “What’s in it FROM me”) to our detriment.  As a habit, putting others first without consideration of how it will affect one’s own (mental, physical or emotional) health is sheer suicide!  As a matter of survival, saying “no” more often allows us to be 1. Honest with what we can or cannot do; and 2. survivors by saying (finally!) “what’s in it FOR me.”

Having grown up with three brothers, I also saw that the natural tendency was for boys to be raised with the right survival mechanism – in boy scouts the mantra was “be PREPARED” or in other words, take care of yourself first (what’s in it FOR me.)

Why is there gender inequality?  Who knows?  But the best way forward is for everyone (regardless of gender) to take care of their own needs first (see Put on your Own Mask first) so that NO is an option, and not rotely saying YES and regretting it.

What do you think?

Related posts:

I “no” you’ll find a way to have a good week!

Carol

 

 

Are Women the Worst (Workplace) Bullies?

3 May

Last week, Forbes published an interesting article titled: Why Women are the Worst Kind of Bullies:

What do YOU think?  My first reaction was:

Charlie Brown’s Lucy (or worse)… in the workplace

If you grew up in North America, you are probably familiar with the cartoon character “Lucy” from the Charlie Brown series.  Lucy would run roughshod over her “frenemies” and friends,  coddle up to her crush Shroeder, and generally disregard the feelings of anyone in her path (especially Charlie Brown, who she would ridicule and torment with endless promises to hold the football!)  Lucy was so ignorant of her own hostility that she even appoints herself the go-to problem solver with her “The Doctor is In” lemonade stand. (No matter, Lucy was still a bully.)

The topic of bullies is front and center these days thanks to the philanthropic efforts of Lady Gaga and Oprah at Harvard, the recent release of the documentary “Bully“, and a rise of suicides linked to cyber-bullying.  But bullying is not confined to schools – in fact, workplace bullying traditionally has been categorized and addressed as sexual harassment, if at all.  Adult bullying can take many forms such as narcissistic bosses (see my post: Walking on Eggshells – Source of Back Pain?), harassment, group think (pressure to conform to the wishes of the group), and biases against minorities/gender/age, etc.  The article in Forbes cites a much more insidious, everyday situation of workplace bullying where women don’t just usurp other women, but can even create hazards and obstacles for others.

It’s not a “Catfight”…

As a female, mechanical engineer by training, and an IT consultant and international speaker by experience, my career has not been traditional.  While it is common knowledge that men are intimidated by strong, confident women when it comes to relationships (I am seldom asked out by professional, single men), it is less frequent in the workplace.  When it is, I have found that in a male-dominated, professional workplace there is a direct and honest response – either the team embraces professional women or they do not.  Seldom when men are involved do I have to “guess” whether I can fit in and be productive.  At this point in my career, I have a name and a solid reputation in my industry, so I find that men will typically accept (and sometimes even celebrate) me on a team and see the positive contribution (there are exceptions of course!)

Stereotypically, it has not been the same situation with women who are on par or above my level – and that has been a source of confusion and at times, “shock and awe”.  In some professional (and more often in personal) situations, same aged women, on the surface, have welcomed me with open arms offering their friendship and help, then reached behind to stab me in the back, and in the process they never stopped smiling.  Sometimes it’s no wonder that men do not understand – I do not understand and I’m a woman!

It is a strange thing… granted, men and women everywhere will step on and use others to get ahead (is it human nature or nurture?) – but the behavior is different.  Men will more often attack head on, directly and consistently; there is no question about their intentions or offensive behavior.  Predictable, consistent, stab you in the chest.  I can accept that and take action to avoid the pain.

What is more difficult to deal with is the in-your-face-nice girl accompanied by the reach-behind-your-back to stab you behavior that women (again stereotypically) use on other women.  While we women are confounded to make sense of female-on-female treatment by our own gender, men often trivialize the behavior as a “Catfight” (thereby marginalizing it as hormones raging out of control.)  There is far more to the behavior than meets the eye, and it is an area undergoing frequent research (with few answers!)

When I look ahead to my daughter in the workplace, I realize that technology advances have not changed the human interactions (in fact they create less face to face communication).  Our workplace and human relations are really not much different today than 30 years ago.  Given my experiences, I posted several articles which may be of interest:

And I found several other interesting posts from others:

And of course, the recent maelstrom of frenzied activity stemming from the UK Mail post:

The question: “Why are females mean to other females?” is today either avoided or hotly debated, but the fact remains that the situation won’t simply go away by marginalizing it as “Catty behavior” or ignoring it all together.

As women, we have enough to deal with in life being parents, co-workers, survivors of the economy, caregivers, neighbors, significant others, and just plain noble citizens without having to watch out for other women gunning to get us!

In the words of Rodney King (the focus of the LA Riots 20 years ago) – Can’t we just get along?

Finding a good team of like-minded people!

I am fortunate to now be a part of a wonderful team at QSM, Inc. with confident, powerful, assertive women who are not intimidated or jealous of other professional women.  Our multi-disciplinary, gender balanced team is forward thinking and definitely supportive of each other.  I am blessed to say I’m on the same team with several high-powered, direct, accomplished, and supportive women – it is a dream come true!

The Way Forward…

I believe that women need to learn to start supporting other women, and we need to stop stereotyping men as the culprits to the bullying phenomenon.

It reminds me of the situation regarding minority cultures who point to other cultures and races as the source of their problems (that they cannot solve), when the answers realistically lie with working within their own community to create solutions.

This brings to mind the saying popularized by the Pogo cartoon:   “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

As popular self-help gurus point out, when you point a finger at another, there are four fingers pointing straight back at you!  As women and mothers, I believe that we need to start a movement (even a movement of one!) that nurtures, boosts, and supports other women – at home, work, and everywhere.   Such a movement of women (and supportive men) would take our country and our workplaces into a brighter future!

Today, take the first step to say a kind word to another – you just never know what that might lead to (especially if that person met a bully only moments before!)

Have a great week,

Carol

Shortcuts and half-baked solutions

2 May

Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think. –Martin Luther King, Jr.

Wow!  Incredibly powerful words from decades ago – yet they have never been more true than today!  Whether in business or in personal affairs, no one seems to value hard work, persistence, or thinking these days.  Relationships are disposable, communication is impersonal (with text-message soundbites), governments look for the quick fix, corporations value capitalism over people, and shortcuts are the norm rather than the exception.

I don’t know about you, but my email inbox seems to attract an ever-increasing barrage of spam – most offering “get rich while you sleep” schemes – and it makes me wonder who is actually working while all of these salesmen are busy promoting.  At tax time (April 15), the Tampa Bay Times featured a front page article showing the latest scam where scammers submit fraudulent tax returns (using social security numbers of dead people) to “earning” an average of $9000. per return.  None of the offenders feared the IRS and they were proud of their endeavors.  Sheesh, what is our society coming to when someone’s 15 minutes of fame comes at a heavy expense to all of us?

Several months ago, the same paper profiled citizens among us vacationing on proceeds their insurance company paid out for sink hole claims for repairs never made.  Both stories highlighted the shortcuts that cost taxpayers millions.

Yet there are millions of other smaller shortcuts to fame and fortune and half-baked scams happening everyday all around us.

Why do we accept (and settle for) short cuts and half-baked solutions in life today? 

The first step to realization is to look at our behavior (before we look at others.)  Why do we take shortcuts or live with half-baked solutions to what ails us?  Probably because it is easier, less work, less stress, and comes with less risk of failure (and rework) to do the least possible.  This allows us to save our energy for things that “really matter” later.  As a result of not doing our best, we are dissatisfied with the results from ourselves or others.

Moreover, when we do do our best, people may not appreciate it, so why bother to spend extra effort?  When we look around, if everyone else takes shortcuts, why shouldn’t we?  The answer is that, in the process, we shortchange ourselves, our children (who learn by example), and our community.

We can see the results of our shortcuts and half-baked solutions everywhere: products don’t last like they used to; quality is down;  expectations are down; product failures are up; and morale goes awry. In the banking crisis, banking professionals bet against their own customers to pursue profits, got away with it, and even got a bonus bailout for their efforts.  No wonder our children seek shortcuts in everything they do.

The Buck has to stop somewhere…why not with us?

When we start to fully perform our work, invest in relationships (they take work), take time to do things right the first time (instead of half-baked), and insist on the same from others, our world (and morale) will improve. The America of yesteryear was filled with innovation, invention, progress, hope and dreams; hard work and integrity prevailed.

I envision a future where I can look back and be proud that I put the effort in to “fully bake” solutions – at least for my life.  How about you?

Wishing you a success-filled week.

Carol

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