From the inside out – or from the outside in?

Are you feeling challenged in a relationship? You feel like “it” isn’t working for you, or you wonder what’s going on with someone because you can’t seem to “reach” them? In those times when you are expecting something of (or from) someone else, and it isn’t coming, then we ourselves can feel displaced, misunderstood, maybe even wrongly judged.

Here is a way you can help yourself out, by remembering it all starts with “me”. I know, this sounds like a Facebook meme (and it is one, I’ve seen it pop up often enough myself) nevertheless, it really is the key to unlock those moments of relationship confusion. (The next time this meme shows up in your Facebook feed, you might want to hold back for a minute before you pass it over and just for a moment, recall this post.)
Especially at times when you’re feeling frustrated, dejected, like you’ve lost – or are losing, lines of communication with others in your life, start by listening to yourself. You want to find clarity within yourself first, before asking of clarity from someone else.

So, in case you’re not sure how to go about this, I urge you to read on.

Ask yourself: what do I value about me? What do I like about me? Who am I when I’m being my best me? What am I doing when I like myself the most?
If that doesn’t get you centered, then go to these questions:

Where in my life, am I nurturing myself? Am I paying attention to my own needs? Is my own cup full (of compassion) for myself so I am able to pour (some compassion) out upon others?
Am I listening to myself? What is my body telling me? Not only my mind, but my heart, my gut? Do I get tied up in knots just trying to listen to myself? (If that’s the case, then for god’s sake, take a deep breath, and another one, and yet another one – you do want to slow down first!)

Relationships will be strong, loving and nurturing when we first expand our awareness to find the peace, forgiveness and love that is inside of us.

Relationships start from the inside-out, and don’t come from the outside-in.

Let’s talk about compassion and forgiveness

Today, I’d like to talk about compassion, forgiveness and mercifulness.
It isn’t good for you, to judge other people for their actions, you are only weighing yourself down when you judge and blame, and you will be inhibiting another’s progress when you hold onto resentment and strife.
When we forgive, we release ourselves from entanglements and old beliefs, and we are open to give up old behaviors.
Giving up such old behaviors also puts us in a place to be able to develop healthy relationships.
Forgiveness is a sign of your strength, not proof of your weakness.
Forgiveness does not mean we are allowing someone else to abuse or offend us, as we are not giving up our right to set clear boundaries when we forgive. When we forgive, we are also freeing ourselves up to release any relationships that are harmful for us. The process of forgiveness is an important element to being able to open ourselves up, and to allow for more positive experiences to enter into our lives.
Forgive and be compassionate, as the gain is higher than any perceived loss you may be holding to at that moment.
When forgiveness and a show of compassion is how you show up in the world, you will begin to notice that others are more compassionate towards you, and you will attract relationships with others that are also built upon consideration and honesty. Forgiving and showing compassion is for yourself: a way you can gain more clarity and peace of mind.

Think slow to move fast

Coaching ideas that work #4

Think slow to move fast

Didn’t get the positive feedback that you felt you deserved and expected? Or someone didn’t express their appreciation of you like you thought they would? Maybe you failed at something that you put a lot of effort into? Is it just one of those days where things aren’t moving like you would like for them to and that has that got you feeling a bit down and out-of-sorts? Here’s one idea you can use to get yourself out of the riptide: think slow to be able to move fast.

This is a technique from Mindfulness – which is all about being present in the moment, being present at a slow level.
It is about putting more emphasis on the *process* of awareness rather than on the object of your attention.

So on days like these, it helps if you just step back a moment and *become aware of your thinking*, not focusing on the actual thoughts you are thinking.
Notice the difference: you are stepping out of your thoughts and just becoming aware *that* you are having thoughts.

It goes like this:
1. If the thoughts are running around in your head and creating a tsunami of feelings and emotions, then slow down and give those thoughts a name. The goal here is that you want to identify them – not just feel them. You can even try to locate exactly where you are feeling them in your body. i.e.: Feeling down? Then say it: “I am feeling sad, my heart feels heavy.” Feeling rejected? Say, “I am feeling rejected, my knees feel weak.” By naming the feeling/emotion, and where it is making itself known to you in your body, you are taking away its power over your ability to think.

2. When you’ve identified the feeling/emotion, then you can take the next step: describe what happened that gives you this feeling. This is how you do it:
Say to yourself “Yes, … and…” .
So going from the examples above, you could say, “Yes, I didn’t get the promotion and now I am feeling sad (rejected, angry, unfairly treated, … ).” Be sure to use the word “and” here – instead the word “but”.

(“Yes, … and…” leads to a positive response, whereby “Yes, but…” leads to defensiveness. You can try this out for yourself: change the example above to “Yes, I didn’t get the promotion but I … tried my best/they’re too stupid to see what I have to offer/<enter argument of choice here>”. When you use the word “but” you automatically start to rationalize, look for reasons to explain things away. Can you tell the difference?)

3. Give yourself permission to postpone judgement of your thoughts, after all, you’re only giving them a name.
This last step gives you some time – you’re slowing down the process of “feeling”, and giving your mind time to regroup and be able to observe things in a different light. You’re also giving yourself the time you need to get yourself back on course.

By doing just these 3 steps you have taken control over your thoughts and you’ve slowed down the rip tide they can create if they’re allowed to run free untethered.

I’d be interested to find out if you’ve tried this out for yourself. Do comment and let me know if it works for you!

Coaching Ideas that work #3

Describe – don’t explain it away

What happens when we take a piece of behavior and identify ourselves with that behavior? Or refer to something as if it were our personality:  i.e. “That’s me, I’m clumsy!” (Identity? Personality? Behavior?) “I always get angry when someone does xyz.” (Identity? Personality? Behavior?)

You’re describing a behavior – not your identity, and not your personality. You are telling what you do – not telling who you are.

You might be inclined to counter this statement by saying something like, “Well, that’s just the way I am.” But are you really always that way? Everywhere and all the time?
Sometimes things can trigger us, and we act in a certain way, but here’s the catch: we don’t have to act “that way”! That is just how we have practiced acting (repeated the behavior), and now that we’ve practiced “that way” (the behavior) long enough, we think it is “us”. When in reality, it has just become our habitual way of acting (behaving).
It is not who we are. It is just how we sometimes express ourselves.

So how can you stop “being clumsy” if you think that is you? How can you stop being angry when someone says or does something that triggers you?

The first step is to become aware of whatever the trigger is. If, in your environment, there is something that triggers you, you need to identify that trigger first – become aware of the trigger. For example, “I am always clumsy at my mother-in-laws house.” Aha! Mother-in-law’s house is the trigger! “I always get angry when someone interrupts me in a meeting.” Aha! The meeting setting is the trigger.

Then the next step (and this insight, although known for many, many years, has been confirmed by recent neuroplasticity research) is to express acceptance of this, your own, behavior. By accepting it, you are telling your mind you want to work with this behavior, and not against it. (Dear Brain, there is no reason to get all afraid that I will go and change my oh-so-comfortable personality. You don’t have to bother about going into defensive, protective, or child-pout mode.) By acknowledging that this behavior is a part of “you” (better said, a part of how you interact with the world and how you experience reality), you are working with your brain/mind and not against it.  So go ahead, acknowledge it, but do it like this: “I do this abc behavior in xyz circumstances.”

Then the third step is to ask yourself, “in what situation do I not act clumsy”? “In which situations am I able to easily control my anger”? Whatever you’ve been erroneously identifying as being “you” or “your personality”, you now want to think about a time when you are not “like that”.



You are not always clumsy, not always angry, not always <fill in the blank here>!

To take this exercise to the next level, you may want to consider what I consider the overall-best self-help question of them all: “When am I at my best?” This is who you want to be as often as you can.  Who is that “best me”? Can you describe her or him? In what situations are you your “best me”? Make it “real”: describe this “best me” in all its lovely details! Who is there with you? The people, the place, the sights and sounds, the smell, the temperature, what you are wearing, where are you sitting, where you are standing …? Think of as many details as you possibly can, and in your mind’s eye feel it, hear it, see it, smell it and bathe in the glorious feeling of being “best me”.

Tell me how you’ve practiced this little powerful little tool in the comments section. I would love to hear from you!

How to motivate others by asking the right questions

Do you sometimes feel like you’re wasting your breath, trying to tell people what to do, what they should be doing, or giving them tips on how they could get better results? Are you trying to sell an idea and they just don’t get it?
Why not stop “telling” and start “asking”. Good questions get the other person thinking, You want them to come up with the reason why such-and-such is a good idea for themselves, that is what motivation is all about.

Here are a couple of guidelines for how to ask “good” questions:

  • Ask friendly, clarifying questions.
  • Be fair: don’t set traps.
  • Ask open-ended questions. (Open-ended questions are the ones that can’t be answered with just a “Yes” or a “No.)
  • Ask “active” questions. Active questions require the person the take responsibility for their answer. (“Passive” questions means somebody else, or the environment, is responsible for how the question is answered.) 
  • Be grateful and aware that the person may not have an answer for you just yet.
  • Avoid causing the other person stress. That won’t get you far.
  • Avoid asking rhetorical questions – unless you want to enter into a philosophical discussion.
  • Avoid being too direct. This can come across as being aggressive.
  • Listen to the answer – silence is golden.

Daniel Pink, management expert and the author of five best-selling books, (my personal favorite is “Drive. The surprising truth of what motivates us.”) said in an interview with Big Think:  “The key here is that we tend to think that persuasion or motivation is something that one person does to another, what the social science tells us very clearly is that it’s really something that people do for themselves. And your job as a persuader, as a motivator, is to reset the context and surface people’s own reasons for doing something. Because it works a lot better.”