Tag Archives: Philosophy

Positive people are good for you

14 Aug

If you took an inventory of the people in your life, how many of them would you classify as having a positive influence?  Do you feel loved, accepted, and optimistic because of them or do you feel downtrodden, defensive, and inferior?  It is your choice about who to allow in your life as friends, loves, acquaintances – so why not choose those who bring out the best in you?

some peopleWhile it is true that no one can make you feel anything (positive or negative) without your permission – the influence of those who support and love you cannot be underestimated.  When you love yourself and understand that you truly deserve to be surrounded by like-minded positive people, life becomes wonderful.

Below is a slide show of some of the best quotes about positive people and their impact.  Sometimes it’s better to be alone that to settle for people in  your life who don’t appreciate you…

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Put out your intentions to the universe that you want positive, uplifting, optimistic and supportive people in your life – and watch (over time) as the universe delivers!  And remove relationships that are toxic to make room for these new ones.

Wishing you a positive week!

Carol

 

Why Do I Care What YOU Think?

4 Apr

Why do we care so much about what other people think (about us?)  Every day I meet people who bemoan about how someone in their life diminished their achievements, pooh-poohed their plans, or expressed a lack of support for their ideas.  Somehow we’ve gotten it into our heads that people who purport to love us (and tell us that they only want the best for us) have opinions worth more than our own!  And this is such a fallacy!  Yet we do the same thing to other people without even intending to.  (Which begs the question:  If you knew that your opinion caused someone to feel badly about themselves… even to the point of giving up – would you think a bit more before YOU spoke?)

Realistically, it is only YOUR own opinion of yourself that should matter. And yet we falter…

I grew up with the adage “How can you do/say/think that?  What would the neighbors/friends/strangers think (of you?)  It was almost as if people on the street without any regard to you or your life should have a level of control over who you are! It was as hogwash then as it is now, but so many are still caught up in the trap of “what would so-and-so think?” – the truth is that it just doesn’t matter.

The opinions of others have nothing to do with me (or you!)  I’ve spoken at hundreds of conferences over the years and I am always amazed at the diversity of evaluations that come back from attendees.  They range from the polar opposites of “Couldn’t stand the presenter, didn’t learn a thing…” to “Best presenter I’ve ever seen – make sure you invite her back. Excellent!” – all from the same presentation! The rest of the audience lies somewhere in the middle, with the majority of people offering no comments at all.  What should I believe about my presentation – the best, the worst, or somewhere in the middle?

None of them!  All of the opinions from the audience are from THEIR perspective – based on what they like and how they perceived me. No one knows me except for me!  When I speak, I give it my best and that is all I can do.  When I leave the stage and feel good about what I’ve done, that is all that should matter – I’ve done my best.  Yet, of course I do read the evaluations (and they are the basis on which I am asked back!) – and they do still affect me.  BUT I am learning to ignore the outliers (both positive and negative) because they are so much less a reflection of me than of the audience members and their own frame of mind!

The only approval we should ever strive to meet is our own.

If you’ve read anything I’ve written over the past two years on this blog, you’ll know that I’m a fan of author and motivational guru don Miguel Ruiz and his landmark book The Four Agreements. When my daughter first gifted me a copy almost 10 years ago, I read it but the concepts just didn’t sink in at first.

Now, 10 years later, I fully embrace the concepts even though I still get tripped up by life’s little circumstances that suck me in and zap my energy!

Cover of

Cover of The Four Agreements: A 48-Card Deck

The Four Agreements just for introduction purposes (see my other posts on the subject for more insights) are:

1. Always live with integrity: I used to think this meant to live honestly (with high ethics and morals), but it really means: become your own best friend!  Love yourself unconditionally and never, ever say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to your best friend!  (i.e., Banish your inner critic and rid yourself of the negative thoughts like “I’m not good enough, pretty enough, thin enough, rich enough – any of these!  Replace them with positive and realistic self-love endorsements such as “You are kind. You deserve love. You are a great person! (Which goes beyond appearances!))

When you’ve had a lifetime to build up your defenses with a damaging inner critic (mine was so strong it almost led me to suicide!) – often put in place to protect you from the (inevitable) onslaught of unsupportive but well-meaning people in your life – this can be a major life change!  But it is necessary – if you are not your own best friend who loves you for all you are – you’ll never find happiness. Happiness starts and ends within – so start today by loving yourself!

2. Don’t take anything personally: This one was also tough for me, but it makes so much sense.  Think about it – if you wear something new out to a party and three people come up to you saying variously:

  • “What a great color on you – great outfit!”
  • “Oh, from the looks of that outfit, you’ve gained a few pounds.”
  • “You look tired, maybe it’s the outfit, you really shouldn’t wear those colors.”

Who is right?  As I’ve stated above – none of them are “right” – they are all opinions.  If you feel good about yourself and how you look – that is all that matters.

When we stop taking the responses of others personally (they are not personal – they are only a viewpoint from another,) life gets so much better!

3. Never make assumptions: Agreement #3 also takes getting used to. When we realize that not everyone thinks like we do, it makes sense to stop and ask questions to clarify what others tell us.  A couple of years ago I was dating a guy who I really cared about and he told me after a few weeks that “I have no feelings for you.”  I was devastated because I took it to mean that he didn’t care at all about me, and I immediately started crying when he said this. He couldn’t figure out why I’d be upset because he meant that he wasn’t in love with me, he cared about me but wasn’t in love (he was going through a divorce at the time… I should have seen the red flags there!)  My interpretation was that no feelings = no caring.  I’ve since learned to try not to react and instead ask questions first to make sure that what I hear and interpret is the same thing as what is meant.

In life, we make so many assumptions about WHY others say, think, do, or act based on OUR opinions.  When we ask questions to find out WHY – the answers may pleasantly surprise you!

4. Always do your best: This one can be the easiest to embrace because it is tied to #1. If you are always doing your best, it is harder to tell yourself you could have, should have… anything.  When you do you best (at the time, given the information and resources at hand) – you can never could have, should have done anything differently!

All in all, it really shouldn’t matter to me what YOU think about what I write, what I say, what I post – yet it still does.  We are at the core, social creatures who are domesticated to care about others and respect the opinions and thoughts of others.

In this journey of life, I’m finally learning to put MY OPINION of myself first… and everyone else’s second to tenth.  It’s not always the easiest thing to do, but if I don’t accept and love myself – how can I expect anything of anyone else?

p.s., Comments?  I’d love to hear YOUR opinion – it doesn’t change the fact that I did my best in writing this post, but I’d still like SOME feedback.

p.p.s. Remember to register for the upcoming True You Discovery retreat May 3-5, 2013 in beautiful St Petersburg Beach, FL. Visit www.spiritualconnections1-trueyoudiscovery.com for full details.  I also wrote about this in my last blog post.

Have a good week!

Carol

 

Uncovering the unknown unknowns in life…

27 Mar

icebergI once heard that life is like an iceberg where our current knowledge (what we know we know and what we know we don’t know) is above the surface, while a huge amount of missing knowledge (what we don’t know we don’t know) is like the area underwater.

I’m not quite sure I completely agree with this, but I do know that where I am in life today is so completely different from where I thought I’d be (it is wonderfully better!)

I’m learning that my belief system was (and is) built on what I know from what I’ve experienced thus far in life.  Most of us go through life one day at a time and seldom question just how much “knowledge” is outside of our current situation.  This means that we spend our lives believing that our past and our present are indicators of what our future will look like – and this is like putting blinders and limits on what our future can be.

I’m also learning that “what I don’t know I don’t know” can be absolutely wonderful and can deliver experiences beyond what I once couldn’t even imagine.  These new experiences come about when my mind is open and receptive to people, places, and opportunities I might have once rejected — even before they were presented.  When you turn down a potential opportunity – that has yet to become a real opportunity – you effectively (in my humble opinion) short-circuit the full extent that your life can become.  In other words, when your mind is closed by your current belief system, adventures and opportunities stop before they reach your door.

When I was going through a divorce seven years ago, I had no idea that my life could transform and that I could emerge as a happy, single, midlife female.  I left home directly into a marriage at 22, I thought I was madly in love, and I experienced life with a husband who was much like my father (who has to be right.)  Before my divorce, I had never lived alone, had never selected an apartment, had never taken care of myself, had never nurtured an extensive group of friends, and had little time for myself aside from taking care of my then-husband and children  (now grown) to pursue hobbies or personal interests.  I remember sitting in a counselor’s office before the divorce and she asked me whether I could see myself happy as a single person.  At the time having experienced an adulthood only as a wife, I replied “no” as I truly could not envision the happy, enriched life I enjoy today.

I have to say I didn’t know what I didn’t know – my blinders were on.

parachute

I realize now that I turned down possibilities and opportunities simply by not recognizing that I didn’t know what I didn’t know.  Today I remind myself and friends “don’t say no to something or someone who has yet to present it/him/herself.”

If you’ve ever done any of the things I used to do (out of habit) – it could be that you might be blocking opportunities (and discarding the unknown unknowns) like I did:

– I used to say that I’d never move to another country. Thankfully, I had abandoned this before the opportunity to move to Florida presented itself  or I would have missed out on living 18 years where I do now (and love!)

– If you pre-judge people you don’t know based on their outward appearance which I used to do all the time – I would not have met some of the most wonderful people in my life today.

– If you say you’d never try a particular type of restaurant based on a single food (I used to think I was allergic to curry based on a single type – yet since trying Indian and Thai restaurants have discovered an incredible array of curries I love!)

– If you believe in stereotypes about particular cultures or religions or ethnicities based on what you read in the newspaper or see on a partisan TV show… you may miss out on meeting people who turn out to be lifetime friends.

– If you think that you would never do… (camping, bar-hopping, motorcycle riding, running a marathon, wine-tasting – pick anything that is outside your current experience) – you might miss out discovering a great interest.

– If you think you’ll be rejected if you do/try/think something different from your family (I was raised in a ultra-religious home where it was almost taboo to think beyond the religious dogma!) – try it!

Once I realized that I had some of these self-limiting (and unfounded) beliefs, I discovered that there is so much in the world I didn’t know I didn’t know. Choices Today there are so many choices (especially choices that have yet to present themselves) that I feel like I am running out of time!  I have no idea what countries I might still want to visit, and my “bucket list” is growing by the day as I experience new adventures along life’s journey.

I know I still have a ton of biases, beliefs, and preferences that limit my future – but they are growing less and less as I resist resisting!  There are so many diverse ideas, diverse people, and new ways to view the world (that were beyond my imagination) that my world is expanding.  This is a wondrous thing to find out at mid-life!

Wishing you an uplifting and expansive week!

p.s., I was a guest host on Carmen Brower’s blog talk radio show this week to promote our upcoming True You Discovery retreat (I’m a featured speaker!) at the Tradewinds Resort in St Petersburg Beach, FL May 3-5, 2013.  Won’t you join us?  Here’s the link to the website and promotional FaceBook page.  It will CHANGE YOUR LIFE!

Carol

Doubters anonymous…

9 Jun

When our word isn’t dissipated by doubt, the power of our word is even stronger.
– don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the power of Doubt, maybe it’s because I am learning that I am the only one who can ever make myself happy, and the pain of a narcissistic long-term relationship is moving further away.

Today, I realize that I am a whole, complete and perfect (okay, two out of three isn’t bad!) person who can do anything I set my dreams on (with confidence!), who deserves love and gives much to the world.

It wasn’t always like that, I lived with Doubt (I constantly questioned whether I was good enough, smart enough, lovable…) – all due to my own misgivings and “healthy doses of doubt and gentle correction” heaped on by those around me.  I was addicted to doubt!

“Doubt” used to be a frequent companion,

a hanger-on’er who came into my life in early childhood and who crept around making sure I would stop myself before trying new or challenging things.  (Somehow I managed to keep doubt at bay in my business, all the while he wreaked havoc in my personal life!)

I know that Doubt has emerged in great force in this economy – he plays increasingly larger parts in the lives of others I know – and these are good, solid, inspiring people who deserve success and great things.  Yet, Doubt has moved in taking up the real estate that Confidence deserves to own. 

(Aside:  as a recovering Doubt-addict, I know that instilling confidence and supporting others is an important step in their own Doubt-recovery!  Inspire confidence in others through the power of your (positive!) words.)

Get Past a Doubt-filled Past!

I know that in my past, “Doubt” was seldom alone – he was usually cheered on by a crowd who agreed that I would screw up whatever I might think to try. Doubt (and his supporters) never liked me for who I am, and that’s why I need to steer clear of him!

“Doubt” loved being best friends with my (harsh) inner critic, my parents, and my spouse – they would take turns playing “you need to change this” and “who do you think you are?”   “Doubt” crept around like he didn’t belong (he never did) but when he partnered with others, it was downright insidious. He was like a storm cloud always threatening rain!

In nature, we have the power of water and wind to erode, in people we allow doubt to sculpt us into wisps of  people immobilized with holes that doubt inflicts.   I believe that doubt is an addiction – that if it is left unchecked can render one addicted and damaged.

“We are born to do wonderful, innovative, passionate things with our life, and to live a happy life! We are born to be confident and find our way!  We are born to be surrounded by sunshine – it is our (confidence-inspired) destiny!” – Carol Dekkers

Doubt pours down on those possibilities and leaves us unmotivated, tired, and uninspired.  Some days it might seem like the sun will never come out.

If I can be a Doubt-Survivor, so can you!

I’ve overcome my doubt addiction through conscious work, and by neutralizing the negative doubt-mongering (but well-intentioned) people in my life (some I have de-friended entirely!)

While yesterday had room for Doubt, my future does not!  The work involved realizing that I was living without integrity – that is, I was saying things to myself that I would never say to a best friend. While I didn’t do a formal 12 step doubt-removal program,  Today I can proudly announce that I am in doubt recovery!

While we cannot control the seeds of doubt that others try to plant in our fertile minds, we can banish them from our mind’s garden – and nurture positive, inspiring affirmations that in time, will remove the power of doubt.  Confidence renders “Doubt” speechless.

You are intended to be… great!  So go out today and get started – you don’t have a heartbeat to wait.

Have a great week!

Carol

p.s., Send me a note if you’d like to know more about how I overcame doubt… it’s a journey of self-discovery and self-love!

We don’t “attract” the wrong people…

23 Feb

I am living proof that the Law of Attraction (Think and Grow Rich, The Secret, etc.) combined with The Four Agreements and other philosophies work! My life is moving in the right direction with the right people around me, but my happiness journey has not been without its detours and potholes.  My divorce was the beginning of the journey, although I didn’t realize it at the time.  After a quarter century with a self-absorbed husband, I found myself alone with an out-of-control 17-year-old son (his father was my ex who moved away immediately), a stalled career, and ruined finances.  I could only imagine a better life – and today, just six years later, I am finding happiness.  My son is healthy and thriving, my daughter has found a great career, my career is back on track, I have found true friends, and life is good.

It has not been a “cakewalk” – my journey is ongoing, frustrating (at times), lonely, enlightening, exciting, and disappointing, but I am happier than I have ever been. Along the way, the books mentioned above gave me great insight about life when taken in moderation.  However, with books like The Secret, there are overzealous supporters who believe (and spout) myths about the law of attraction.  Believing these myths can actually set you back in your quest for success and happiness.  I would like to debunk two of these “myths”:

Myth #1: You attract everyone into your life with your thoughts.
Truth #1: The world is like a pile of metal shavings… you attract who you attract based on magnetism

In the same way that you cannot choose who you fall in love with or to whom you are attracted, you cannot change this in others.  Humanity is like a mismatched pile of metal shavings (people in the world), where some will be drawn to you and some will not. I believe that attraction between people is fundamentally physiological – either someone is attractive to you or they are not; it is that simple.   The adage of “people like people like themselves” seems to prevail.

What we CAN control:  We CAN change our attitude and presentation to the world and thereby increase our potential attractiveness to other types of people, but our inner beauty and personal magnetism will not change.  What this means is that no matter how hard we “wish”, we would still attract a motley mix of good, bad, toxic, sociopathic, kind, narcissistic, damaged, wholesome and mottled people into our lives. Magnetism is not selective, but allowing them to stick to us should be VERY SELECTIVE! (If only we could buy mosquito repellant to keep away dysfunctional people!)

What this means to your psyche:  When you meet someone who says that you are attracting the wrong people into your life, remember that attraction is not a choice, but selecting who you allow into your life IS A CHOICE.

It helps me to remember that the people who are in my life (through either blood or they were attracted to me and I allowed them to take part in my life) do not have a lifetime pass.  It is my right (and choice) to end or suspend relationships with people who have become toxic to me — even if they passed the screening and selection process long ago.  Even if they are blood relatives, if they inject poison (through verbal or other abuse), we need to safeguard our emotional health and keep away.  We all have the right to positive influences and people in our life!

While you cannot change who you attract, you CAN increase your screening and selection criteria for who you allow to be in your life.

 Myth #2:  Life is a culmination of everything you manifested with your thoughts.
Truth #2: SHIT happens to good people all the time, regardless of their THOUGHTS

Another “rabbit hole” that trips up people who embrace the law of attraction is that “everything in your life you made happen through your thoughts”.  What utter rubbish!

For example, I can tell you that I NEVER wished for – or even thought about – having emotional abuse in my life.  I also did not wish for years of strife with a teenage son.  Nor did I wish for an aneurysm at age 40!  Moreover, I know that whatever strife you have in your life is probably not something you wished for or thought about.  Crap happens and you did NOT manifest it into being WITH YOUR THOUGHTS!

Certainly, our life is a culmination of our actions and beliefs, but circumstances, events and “shit” simply happens, regardless of how much we wish and pray and want something else.  Yet there are those who believe they can control the world with their thoughts and want to convince you that you can too (hmm… was not there a German leader who managed to manifest his thoughts of superiority into world domination?).

I met one of these such people several years ago and it was a downright “scary” experience.  “Mark” was an organizer of a self-help cult-style weekend called Landmark. (Note, I did not realize it was a cult until I saw their abusive and brainwashing at work.) “Mark”  convinced me to attend the seminar (against my intuition) and promised to make it more affordable by picking me up at the airport.  When I hesitated, he convinced me that this was my “ego” trying to keep me from growing and learning. When the weekend arrived, my flight was delayed and Mark reneged on his promise to pick me up.  I ended up taking expensive taxis because there were no rental cars available.  When I arrived at the site, he had lost my paperwork and I had to spend an hour completing new forms.  Strangely, Mark “justified” his poor behavior and the missing paperwork because (in his words) I made all of it happen with my thoughts.  WOW!  Somehow, I had the power to delay the plane, tie up all the rental cars, and psychically destroy paperwork.  When I laughed at his audacity, Mark insisted that even catastrophes like plane crashes are the result of “a group of people whose thoughts are harmonically aligned to bring the plane down.”  Can you imagine believing in such crap?  I left the weekend knowing that insanity is available for anyone willing to embrace dysfunctional thinking, like Mark.

What we CAN control: It is said that life is mostly attitude combined with your circumstances – but at times of strife, it can become so imbalanced that we lose control.  (In statistics, an “average” is the sum of all the events (good points + bad points + all in between) divided by the number of events.  As such, there has to be some great wins to balance out great losses to end up with an average somewhere in the middle!)

We cannot control the crap that happens in our life – bad things happen to good people all the time – but we can choose how we respond to it.  We can stand around the “pile of burning crap” when it lands in our life and make a choice!  We can watch it and wail that it is awful as it burns stronger… we can step in it and get covered in it (i.e., it can consume us)… or we can grab a bucket of water and douse the flames… or we can do any number of other actions.  The reaction and response IS OUR CHOICE, the burning pile of crap that landed IS NOT.

What this means to your psyche:  Stop listening to people who tell you that your life is the way it is because YOU CHOSE IT to be. This is NOT true and you know it! People do NOT choose to be unemployed or lose their home or have loved ones die… it JUST HAPPENS.  These things happen to good people all the time!  Change the things you can, wish (and envision) a better future, and adopt a healthy attitude.  It will not stop things from happening, but hopefully what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.

I am sorry that the crap in your life happens to you… it is temporary and you have a choice about your future.  Life can always be better tomorrow, and even in the darkest moments, all you really have to do is make it through the next 5 minutes…

Have a great week and do the Royal We (me, myself, and I) a favor and stop allowing crap to invade your psyche.  YOU are a good person who deserves happiness.  We can all choose happiness and success – but sometimes the universe has a convoluted way of bringing it to us.

Carol

There is no “Secret” to Life…

14 Jul

Have you ever purchased a self-help book in the hopes of gaining some insight about yourself and the people in your life?  If you have, then you are on the positive side of life!  Your pursuit of answers beyond yourself shows that you are open to new ideas and open to change.

Those who never consider anyone else or who never look beyond their own limited knowledge of life, unfortunately, don’t see their own culpability in the how they behave.  You know these people in  your own life – they run the gamet from self-centered to sociopaths to narcissists to simply being ignorant in the world.

You may have heard of one of the best-selling self-help pop-culture books to come out of the last decade: “The Secret”.

The premise of The Secret is the Law of Attraction – it promotes the idea that we attract what we “want” or desire in our lives.  I agree that positive visions inspire (and produce) positive outcomes in life, but I’ve struggled with the notion that we attract every person and experience into our lives through our thoughts – it just doesn’t make sense.  I believe that we are magnets for all sorts of energy – some positive and some negative and it is what we do with this energy that influences our future.

I never fully embraced all of The Secret – and I believe it inspires delusional thinking of sorts:  such as, when bad things happen to good people, the followers of The Secret purport that these good people manifested the bad things to happen… and that is just plain wrong. (In fact, some followers support the premise that all the people who die in a plane crash manifested it to happen and that they were all vibrating at exactly the same frequency of energy at the same time).  I say B.S. and I just don’t believe it!

I think that The Secret is really no secret at all – it has a good premise (positive thinking = positive results) but it is overly simplistic (and dangerous) in how it represents life.  In fact, one of the main speakers featured in the movie version of The Secret – James Ray – was actually found guilty of three counts of negligent homicide in the deaths of three of his self-help followers in June 2011.  (See the full London Guardian story here: At the Temple of James Arthur Ray). Hmmmm, did he manifest a jail term and deaths, as his presence in The Secret might support?  I think not – I believe that life transpires in spite of our best intentions at times.  We can control aspects of our life, but we live in an interconnected world with others!

On my delightful (and still somewhat uncomfortable) journey of my own secrets to life and happiness over the past 5 years, I’ve come to realize that

There is no “Secret” to Life!

Here is what I know to be true about (my) life:

  • I believe that the universe is energy and we are all part of the cosmic energy force, however, some people have more negative energy than positive, and thus we need some people who are more positive than negative to balance it all out;
  • There is no reciprocity in people.  Some people are givers, some are takers, some are bullies, some are abusers, some are generous, and there is no guarantee that the people you “attract” into your life will be necessarily good or wholesome;
  • Just because you are a good friend does NOT mean that people will be a good friend to you;
  • One never needs to tolerate abusive behavior from others;
  • We meet all sorts of people in our lives – it is up to us to CHOOSE those we want to keep and those we wish to discard;
  • Just because something negative happens does not mean we “MANIFESTED IT” to be;
  • Love does not mean giving up one’s identity for another;
  • Love should not be painful;
  • People are unpredictable – no matter how long you might “know” them, you can never predict behavior;
  • Many people do not know themselves but are happy to project on others;
  • Expectations lead to disappointment – but a lack of expectations can result in some good surprises;
  • No one can ever “should do” something -“Should” inflicts judgment and criticism on another’s choices;
  • A kind word can heal a broken heart;
  • Everything is temporary (good, bad, fun, sorrow) – change is the natural state;
  • Chaos is a relative term;
  • Friends are the family we choose for ourselves – just because you were born with siblings does not make them “kin”;
  • I am the best judge of what is best for me – not someone else;
  • My intuition works far better than I give it credit;
  • My perceptions are as valid and correct as anyone else’s;
  • An opinion or advice is just a viewpoint of another – and it is my God-given right to ignore them all;
  • Acquaintances come and go — often they are disguised as friends;
  • I will never again be with anyone who is demeaning to others;
  • I deserve true, unconditional love;
  • Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice shame on me – but I may simply be kind and you took advantage;
  • Friends follow through;
  • Friends don’t abuse friends;
  • Life is like an ocean full of waves – sometimes things build up to great swells of positive or negative – but eventually things will calm down;
  • Envisioning your future can help your dreams come true;
  • Be careful who you share your dreams with – those without dreams will take yours away;
  • Never make anyone a priority for whom you are only an option (a favorite!);
  • Friends (and family) who are there only when you support THEM are not true friends;
  • Be careful what you wish you – you just might get it!

I do not believe for a minute the incredulous lies of a Landmark Forum salesperson who purported that he had a friend whose travel plans were “never interrupted because he manifests it so” – all I can say is that the guy obviously never travels on commercial aircraft or lives in the real world.

The only secret to life is that there is no secret.  Life is what life is – and the best we can do to bring about a positive future is to envision it, embrace the journey, be happy with who we are, and enjoy the ride as best we can!

Have a great week!

Carol

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Balancing what I know with what I don’t…

20 Apr

In many ways I feel like I am living a “Benjamin Buttons” life

(a reference to the circa 2009 movie of the same name where a baby was born as an old man and progressively got younger as he chronologically aged).  I married young, had two wonderful children in my 20’s, and now enjoy a single life where I love myself, appreciate good friends, and am grateful for health, work, career and a happy life.

In many ways I feel like I’m living my 20’s today – I have the freedom I never had when I was married or raising children to go out whenever and wherever – and I love it.

Along with my youthful outlook is maturity, and I realize just how much I do not know about life or the world!  Maybe that is the beauty of my current life and my place in it!  I know what I know (professional expertise) and I am learning everyday that there is so much that I don’t know (and maybe never will).

  • I know that friends come and go, but I don’t know when new ones will come and old ones will leave.  Somehow there is always a balance of good friends that is just short of 5 at any one time.
  • I know that good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people, and sometimes it just doesn’t seem to be fair or balanced.  I have no idea why this is so.
  • I know that it is more than okay to be me and to love being so!  Since I am not a child, I do not understand why others seek to change me (for my own good.)
  • I know that I am a giving and generous person (who often put others first to my detriment).  I do not know (and am learning that it doesn’t matter) what others think of me.
  • I know that my perceptions and feelings are valid, just are those of others. I do not know or purport to know what goes on in anyone else’s head.
  • I used to think I knew about love, and now I know that I know nothing at all.
  • I know that I know very little about human behavior aside from my own.
  • I know that I do not like conflict, loss, confrontation, accusations or cruelty.  And I know that there are people who do.
  • I know not to take things that people do or say to me personally (it is more about them and their experience), but it still feels personal. I do not know how to perfect this practice.
  • I know that I will never be able to predict (with any accuracy or precision) the reactions of others.
  • I know that girlfriends are the joy and stability of life.
  • I know that there are reasons that people from my past did not make it into my present.
  • I know that mean doesn’t go away and fortunately, neither does nice.
  • I know that friends can be the family we CHOOSE for ourselves.
  • I know that there is no guarantee that siblings will be friends.
  • I know that people are always surprising – sometimes in good ways, sometimes in bad.
  • I know that change is the natural state.  I do not know how to make more of the good things last longer and the bad ones disappear.
  • I know that for every “get rich quick” scheme there are people who were taken.
  • I know that I am grateful for the people, places, pets, nature, parents, children, and friends who grace my life today.
  • I know that they will not always be there tomorrow.
  • I know that I don’t know what I don’t know…

When I was younger, I used to think I knew more about life than I did not.  Today I think just the opposite.  Maybe that is a sign of maturity – or maybe it is proof that I am young at heart!  And I am quite happy to know that I have so much more to learn.

Have a good week!

Carol

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Do nice people finish last?

7 Mar

There is so much contradiction in books and on the internet today about whether nice people finish first, middle, or last in life and in business.  What do you think?

I think that it all depends on the meaning of the word “nice” especially when it comes to taking care of yourself first.  So many of us were taught that being nice means putting others first – but that flies in the face of good self-care.  A counselor once told me that good self-care means taking care of yourself first whether that means at work or in our personal life.  This is not how many 40-somethings were raised to believe, and we need to change our attitude and our outlook!

The counselor reminded me that the people who get ahead in life are the ones who make noise – starting in the hospital nursery.  The babies who cried loudest and longest get the most attention and have their needs met ahead of others.  The more content babies did not get noticed and some even slept through while the demanding babies garnered the love and attention of nurses.

In business, we observe that “the squeaky wheel gets the grease” – those who self-promote, pontificate, forge ahead of others in line, and who demand attention get noticed more and promoted more.  The four-year-old prima donna behavior of “Look at me, look at me!” unfortunately seems to work when promotions are given out and bonuses are paid.

What about those who work well with others by cooperating, promoting their teams, and supporting co-workers – sometimes at their own expense. “Nice” people don’t stand out, and despite articles published that say the contrary, they can end up being invisible and overlooked while the brash, less considerate, and self-promotioning assertive people move ahead.  These people were the crying babies in the nursery who learned how to get their needs met early in life.

If you are a nice person and find yourself being left behind at work and in life, maybe it is time to examine how your behavior sabotages your own best interests.  It is never too late to learn how to set aside some of the seemingly “nice” behaviors that put others first and fail to get our needs met.  Only you can take care to make sure that your needs are met. No one else will put you first so you have to do it for yourself (and doing so ensures your survival!)

p.s., Take a moment out of your week to say thank you to a nice person today – they make our lives better just because they are who they are.  It is due time that they get ahead (finally!) for the niceness they bring to our world!

Carol

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Getting rid of clutter? Start inside your head…

10 Jan

Are you surprised at the title of this post?

I was when a friend of mine suggested it to me one day this week when I mentioned how I want to simplify my life.  We were talking about how I felt disillusioned by someone I knew when she remarked “there’s so much clutter inside your head that I don’t know how you can see anything objectively.”  At first, I didn’t know how to respond but then I realized that there was probably truth in her statement.  When I asked her to explain, she responded by saying that my mind was filled with so many contradictory beliefs that she said it must be oppressively crowded inside my head!

That’s when reality hit… I realized that I am a hoarder of beliefs – what I mean is that new ideas and opinions enter my mind (like buying new clothing for my closet) and none ever leave.  As such, I carry around a motley mismatched collection of childhood learnings, adult beliefs, truisms from experience, and “truths” imposed on me by others.  Maybe you are like me – you take in new ideas but don’t make room for them by discarding beliefs that no longer serve you well.  By now, there is so much clutter that it is difficult to distill things objectively into knowledge and truth.  It is time to take inventory of what I keep in my head!

I know today that there are NO RULES OF LIFE (outside of legal or societal norms) – except inside my head which means that anything can be removed from my belief inventory without consequence.  To de-clutter my life, I realize that I must first discard flawed beliefs and childhood “rules” that no longer apply.  To do this I compiled two lists: the first is the list of “momilies” (things a mom tells you) that I ingested growing up (that now contradict what I know t0 be true) and other beliefs I can abandon; the second is the list of beliefs I choose to embrace.  This inventory exercise helped me to separate what I can discard (the first list) from my reality and experience beliefs.

List #1:  Momilies…

  • The Golden Rule – “do unto others as you’d like them to do unto you”  – a motherhood and apple pie servitude that is a good idea, but it can imprison those who are “givers” in life. I have held on to this belief for far too long and it has bitten me many times. Most of our society does not adhere to this “rule”  and instead opt to walk all over those who upheld it.  It is an altruistic but unrealistic rule intended for an ideal world.  I let it go.
  • Think of others before yourself (Girl Scouts remnant) also called “The more you give, the more you receive adage” – This is one of the cornerstones of organized religion and enlists people to servitude (which works for some people).  After years of giving unconditionally and getting doormat treatment in return, I’m ready to let this belief go.  In reality, we must give first to ourselves, and if there is anything left over, then give to society and others.  Certainly giving can be virtuous and good for society – but should never at the cost of one’s best interests or self-preservation.   The truth is that we should remember the airline practice:  Put on your own mask first before assisting others!
  • Share and share alike. Another motherhood and apple pie teaching that works to discourage narcissistic children, but it doesn’t apply in adult life.  Not every child in a playground will share and this makes the idea of sharing inequitable.  The takers of the world quickly learn how to take advantage of those who do share.  In our capitalistic society of “grab as much as you can while you can”, anyone who follows the share and share alike will be quickly left behind.
  • Life is fair. I have no idea why this misguided idea was still stuck in my head.  I can only surmise that it resembled truth while growing up in a family where everything had to be absolutely equal (even to the extent of cutting up two fruit cocktail cherries to be equally divided among 5 siblings).  Life is not fair or equal – and it never was.  I banish this one from my head!
  • What goes around comes around (or the rule of Karma). Okay, I cannot completely let go of this one – even though it is unproven and may be “new age”.   If you are like me, you have seen many people cheat, lie, steal and otherwise mistreat others to get ahead in life with few negative consequences.  However, I still believe that one cannot cheat and pillage others indefinitely – without Karma “what goes around comes around” catching up.  Call me naive.
  • Money can’t buy happiness. What a bunch of bs it was to believe this one!  Money buys comfort, relief from stress, financial freedom and independence.  While this may be a good adage to guide kids careers towards service, it simply is untrue.  Just look at the family struggling month-to-month to pay a mortgage or feed their loved ones – and then suggest that money doesn’t buy happiness.  Quite the contrary – a lack of money can definitely result in stress and unhappiness.

Since childhood, I’ve also amassed a surprising amount of new (and often conflicting) beliefs that took up battle with the misguided beliefs above.  In light of the realities of life, I am willing to discard the unrealistic beliefs above.  In so doing, the mind battles will diminish so that peace and kindness can prevail inside my head!

Sunset

List #2: Truisms that I will keep

  • Don’t give away anything that you might need someday (especially money!)  When I had employees, I paid them the highest and most generous salary I could afford (far above the industry average) because I believed this was fair and the right way to run a business with high ethics (they were doing the work after all).  This was an altruistic and misguided choice as my employees abandoned me when the workload lessened, joined my competition, and I was left with a business without financial reserves.
  • Trust, but verify. This Ronald Reagan adage is a prudent way to protect your own interests from pillage.  I discovered the truth of this following a financially damaging divorce where I trusted the wrong people (without verifying) and I will pay for the oversight for years to come.
  • The best investment is you. This truism delivers a guaranteed high ROI.  School children should be taught self-preservation and self-love first. With so much negative thinking in our society today, a healthy self-image can be difficult to keep up yet it is a pre-requisite for success in life.
  • You are the best you’ll ever have – and that more than enough. You are whole, complete, and perfect just as you are – and deserve to be accepted and loved unconditionally just as you are.  In life, the only love you that you can be assured of reciprocity is from yourself. Everyone else is a risk.
  • A mother’s love is unrivaled. I would never have believed how much love I could have for my children and no matter their behavior, I will always love them unconditionally.  I would never change the experiences of the past because they are the rock of my life.
  • If it’s too good to be true, it probably is. I know that this defies the Disney or “Dream the Impossible Dream” wishful thinking, but if it is too good to be true, it usually is 99.9% of the time.  Sure it can be fun to dream big, but believing people or promises that contradicts our intuition usually bites us. Everywhere we read about ripoffs, opportunists, cheats, and yet we so often hope that we cad defy the odds in spite of our intuition telling us otherwise.  We need to trust our intuition to tell us the truth and listen — instead of listening to people who make promises to which they cannot deliver.
  • If you love something set it free, if it comes back to you it is yours, if it doesn’t it never was.  This is so true in life.  While  typically applied to unrequited love, it also applies to friends, jobs, opportunities.  When WE love someone or something, it can be difficult to let go of the wish to keep them in our life. The only person or situation where we can be assured that will come back to us in love is oneself.

Clearing out the clutter between my ears is my first step to simplifying my life.  It is a journey I am ready to take this year, what about you?

p.s., My bookshelf find:  See you at the Top by Zig Ziglar is going to be a keeper!  Zig opens the book with several chapters exploring the 15 steps to a healthy self-image.  He asserts that success in life starts a healthy self-image but due to an overwhelming abundance of negative beliefs we hold about oneself (imposed by others over many years), we have a lot to overcome.  See You at the Top is definitely a book that I will keep in my collection – one can never have too many positive reinforcement books on a bookshelf!

Wishing you a clutter-free week!

Carol
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Hindsight and the Law of Attraction…

17 Nov

The Law of Attraction…

You might have heard of the Law of Attraction (as published in works such as “The Secret” and “Think and Grow Rich”).  The basic principle is: what you think and truly desire will come about if you wish for it earnestly and steadfastly.

Personally, I’ve experienced the power that envisioning your future can have on your present.  As a child I yearned for a life of travel to distant lands — today my work provides me with speaking opportunities to travel worldwide.  Visioning is powerful stuff!

Hindsight is 20/20 as the saying goes…

and I’m finding that the people I used to attract into my life were by and large those who treated me as I believed I deserved to be treated. My relationships often left me feeling sad and I’d wonder why people treated me like a doormat.  I now realize that these people didn’t just treat me like a doormat – it is their modus operandi – they treat everyone in their life the same way, especially those who tolerate such behavior.

In the last 5 years, I’ve experienced major life changes and learned a lot about myself and self-care. I’ve learned to set up healthy boundaries to prevent the doormat syndrome from happening again.  In addition, in the process, I realize that the people who made me feel inferior only did so with my permission. I can see that the people who I once considered to be friends – were attracted into my life (and stayed) because I didn’t realize that I deserved better.

Here are a couple of examples of how these “friends” behaved:

  • One person asked me to speak at conferences she was involved in planning, and invited me to stay at her home during the week.  When I accepted her invitation, she took great pride in talking about me (and another person she invited) at the conference by saying, “You should see how Carol and xxx think that I run a hotel… “In addition, she would trash talk about my choice of shoes by saying “Ooooh, look at Carol’s hooker heels” when I wore shoes with heels.  I admit that I often felt powerless that someone I considered a friend would talk about me like this.
  • Another person routinely would tell me when I was in the midst of an abusive situation that I deserved the treatment because I didn’t directly confront the offender.  She had never been in my situation but was quick to dish out advice and chide me that my decisions were flawed.  I often felt sad during her monologues, yet she was careful to sprinkle in complimentary nuggets so I wouldn’t ditch the friendship.
  • A third person would summarily disregard my opinions by telling me that my perceptions and recollections of events were consistently wrong.  Any protestation was returned with the silent treatment or disdain.  I felt invalidated and learned to question my intuition in this relationship.

I realize that these people treated me (and others in their lives) poorly, but I attracted them into my life because it matched the treatment that I thought I deserved.  I’m proud to say that I’m now equipped with the knowledge that I deserve so much better.  In so thinking, I can see that I am attracting higher quality people in my life.  Today, I am proud to say that my friends are kind, respectful, and high quality, emotionally healthy human beings.

About the three people (and others like them) from my past – I now stand up to them.  They don’t like the new boundaries or that I restrict my time with them, but they have no choice.

The Law of Attraction works and always did.  In hindsight, I can see that those whom I attracted (and who were attracted to me) did not treat me any differently than I believed I deserved to be treated.  Today, I know better and no longer tolerate abusive behavior.

Does this resonate with you and your experiences at all?  Do you agree or disagree with these observations?

p.s., today I can say “Life is good!” and getting better all the time.

Carol


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