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“Love is a binding force, by which another is joined to me and cherished as myself.” ~ Thomas Aquinas

Originally posted February 2011

Happy Valentine’s Day to YOU!Valentine Kitten

While most people think this day is strictly for those in a romantic relationship (and yes, that was and is the intent), it doesn’t have to be that way.  When we take a moment to ponder on the meaning of this day, it’s really about all our relationships and what makes those relationships good, great or not so good or great.

Have you ever equated the size of the gift or the number of flowers or the grand dinner and lavish desserts you give or receive with the amount of love given and received…or expected?  If you have, you’re not alone…I’ve fallen into this trap, too.  And it can leave one feeling deflated, disappointed or, dare I say it…not loved enough.

Today, spend a few moments away from the flowers and the chocolate and the surf n’ turf dinners and think about all those in your life where you want to be an active participant in that relationship – spouses, partners, parents, siblings, grandparents, children, grandchildren, friends, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, co-workers, acquaintances… and make those relationships better.

Here are 3 things that will help strengthen all your relationships:

  1. Communicate – Listen openly, without judgment or defensiveness.  Ask clarifying questions so you better understand the other person.  Be willing to lovingly share your thoughts and feelings, too.
  2. Respect – Honor those in your life for who they are, not what you want or wish them to be.
  3. Trust – Courageously be open, loyal and committed.  Do what you say you’re going to do and do so consistently.

Off to work on my own relationships….

May your Valentine’s Day be filled with love, light, joy and happiness!

Until next time…

P.S. — Want a better understanding of how a coach can help you improve your personal and / or business relationships?  Schedule your private, confidential complimentary coaching session or send an e-mail to info@JoshuaTreeCoaching.com to learn how.  Invest 30 minutes today to change your life forever.

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“I have a woman’s body and a child’s emotion.”

` Elizabeth Taylor

It was a week of highs and lows, ups and downs, twists and turns, offs and ons, forwards and backwards, shouting and silence, happiness and sadness, pushing and pulling, temper tantrums, jubilation and it’s still not the end of the week!

In short, it was a week of so many emotions, it was as though something came along and just kicked me out of sorts…more accurately, kicked me out of myself.  It took a while to figure out what was happening and then I realized my upstairs roommates, those voices in my head, were having all sorts of parties and fun at my expense.  Or so they thought…

As a mentor, executive coach, human performance developer, whatever label you want to throw on there, one would think, “You should know better!”  And you’d be right.  The thing is, we’re all human – even coaches, healers, and holistic practitioners.  We all have our faults, our internal struggles, emotional upheavals and just when you think you’ve got it under control, those upstairs roommates will show you just how much more work needs to be done before you find the proper tenants to lease space.

Most often, it’s easier to simply put up with all the noise upstairs and hope they’ll turn down the volume sooner rather than later.  The thing is, the more you let them go and do what they want, the harder it is to face them, and yourself.  Sooner or later, those dang raucous roommates are going to spread the noise where you really don’t want it to go…spilling out and spewing poison to those that matter most to you.

And that’s EXACTLY what happened to me this this week and WHY I’m writing about it.  You see, nothing “bad” happened…well mostly nothing “bad” happened (that’s another post for a different day), except that my attention was not where I wanted it to be.  An internal struggle was taking place that, at one point, almost consumed an entire day or three.  I fought with all I had to stay in the place I knew best – the place of love, compassion and understanding.  But, you guessed it, the upstairs tenants had different ideas.  I read and re-read books, passages, reminders, notes and quotes all in an effort to help me reign myself in.  Nothing worked, until…

I began scanning through a meditation book, 365 Yoga daily meditations, when my eyes were drawn (or should I say jerked) to a particular meditation almost immediately.  It was mediation #177.  There it was…the words that would have a profound impact such that the upstairs roommates left immediately.  What were the words that made the difference?  Keep reading.

“Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you.

And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts.

For they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls.

For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even

in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them, but seek

not to make them like you.

For life goes not backward nor tarries

with yesterday.”

~ Khalil Gibran

And so I let go.

I remembered to breathe.

I took a wonderfully deep cleansing breath and let all the annoyances, thoughts, judgments, assumptions, and negativity leave with the exhale.

And then I took a nap.

Until next time…

Yours in Service and Growth,

P.S. — Want to let go and live in to your values?   Schedule your private, confidential complimentary discovery session or send an e-mail to info@JoshuaTreeCoaching.com to learn how.  Invest 30 minutes today to change your life forever.

You’re welcome to share this article.  When you do, include this complete blurb with it:

 “Would you like to learn more simple, effective ways to bring more balance into your professional or personal life and create more money, time, and freedom?  Check out my web site, http://www.JoshuaTreeCoaching.com and sign up to receive our regular publications, which include complimentary reports, resources and other helpful tools.”

Joshua Tree Coaching & Consulting, LLC │ ©2012 and Beyond.  All rights reserved worldwide │ http://www.JoshuaTreeCoaching.com

“For every disciplined effort there is a multiple reward.”

~ Jim Rohn

How often do you have “one of those days”?  You know…the days where you have difficulty concentrating, distractions are the priority of the day, your focus is a very faint, distant memory and your “to do” list is longer and more complicated than an 8th grade science project.

It’s at just these times you’ll want to engage the 3D Approach.  Simply, Diligence, Determination and Discipline.  These characteristics may not be “simple” to develop and maintain, for most of us.  Yet, when you have just a little bit of diligence and discipline driven by determination, your day will progress that much better.  And the more you practice the 3D’s, the more you get accomplished and the better your day will go.

When you approach your life (business, job, career, relationships, recruiting, planning, etc.) with the 3D attitude, there will be few goals that lie beyond your reach.  Distractions constantly threaten to derail progress; however, discipline enables you to focus amid disruptions and distractions.  You get to choose where to place your focus, the important job at hand or the distraction (aka BSO’s – Bright Shiny Objects).  The determination you get from discipline also gives you the courage and unshakable enthusiasm that allows you to perceive BSO’s (roadblocks, detours, distractions, whatever you want to call it) as a challenge to attack with enthusiasm.

Until next time…

P.S. — Want to learn more about how to engage the 3D Approach?  Tired of being at the mercy of your BSO’s?  Schedule your private, confidential complimentary discovery session or send an e-mail to info@JoshuaTreeCoaching.com to learn how.  Invest 30 minutes today to change your life forever.

You’re welcome to share this article.  When you do, include this complete blurb with it:

 “Would you like to learn more simple, effective ways to bring more balance into your professional or personal life and create more money, time, and freedom?  Check out my web site, http://www.JoshuaTreeCoaching.com and sign up to receive our regular publications, which include complimentary reports, resources and other helpful tools.”

Joshua Tree Coaching & Consulting, LLC │ ©2012 and Beyond.  All rights reserved worldwide │ http://www.JoshuaTreeCoaching.com

“Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.”

~ Alexander Graham Bell

Expectations that you place on yourself or others can leave you feeling anxious and overwhelmed…at times leaving you feeling disappointed, exasperated or irritated.  You easily lose sight of the things that are important and when you leave what’s important for those Bright Shiny Objects (BSO’s), a.k.a. distractions of thought, emotions, interruptions or other “important” things, you can experience unnecessary worry, anxiousness, helplessness and fear.

Whether it’s shopping for last minute vacation items, getting your budget in place, deciding what event and activities to attend, financial concerns, working feverishly to meet your business quarter-end deadlines, or wanting to spend more time with loved ones, family and friends during this time of the year, all of these activities require grounded focus.

Here are 7 positive actions you can take right now to gain or maintain grounded focus:

  1. Schedule your work (work can be defined in many ways, not simply job related) and honor your schedule;
  2. Break down the large, complex tasks into “doable chewables”, a series of smaller steps;
  3. Slow down to accomplish more;
  4. Say “no” to things of lesser importance;
  5. Say “yes” to the things you really want to do and enjoy;
  6. Delegate tasks; and finally,
  7. Take five minutes once a day and focus on you – take a walk; enjoy that great cup of coffee, tea or hot cocoa; step outside and just breathe; turn off all electronics and enjoy the silence…

When you’re consciously focusing on the things that matter to you – one at a time – your stress is reduced and you experience grounded focus.

Until next time…

P.S. — Want to learn more about how to find your “Grounded Focus”?  Tired of being at the mercy of your BSO’s?  Schedule your private, confidential complimentary discovery session or send an e-mail to info@JoshuaTreeCoaching.com to learn how.  Invest 30 minutes today to change your life forever.

You’re welcome to share this article.  When you do, include this complete blurb with it:

 “Would you like to learn more simple, effecetive ways to bring more balance into your professional or personal life and create more money, time, and freedom?  Check out my web site, http://www.JoshuaTreeCoaching.com and sign up to receive our regular publications, which include complimentary reports, resources and other helpful tools.”

Joshua Tree Coaching & Consulting, LLC │ ©2012 and Beyond.  All rights reserved worldwide │ http://www.JoshuaTreeCoaching.com

“Travel lightly my friends.  Give up your unconscious pain and habits; they weigh you down.  Accept your birthright to be joyous and free.” 

~ Anonymous

Everyone experiences cognitive distortions.  Not everyone knows they have them and of those that do acknowledge their existence, not many people do something to challenge their cognitive distortions.  Of those individuals that put in the effort and practice daily, the results changed their lives.  Experience a life change by using the exercises below to weaken your cognitive distortions.

Remember, these are not one-time “cures”.  It takes work to give up your pain and the habits that hold you back.  It’s not about giving something up as much as it is giving yourself something of greater value in return.

  1. Identify Your Cognitive Distortions – List your troublesome thoughts and match them with the list of cognitive distortions. This exercise allows you to see the distortions you favor and allows you to think about your problem, challenge or predicament in more natural, realistic ways.
  2. Examine the EvidenceExamining your experience thoroughly helps you identify the basis for your distorted thoughts.  Example:  If you are very self-critical, then you want to examine a number of experiences and situations where you experienced success.
  3. Double Standard Method – An alternative to harsh and demeaning self-talk is to talk to yourself in the same compassionate, understanding and caring way you would talk with another in a similar situation.
  4. Think in Shades of Gray – Rather than think about your problem or challenge in an either-or polarity, evaluate things on a scale of 0-100.  When a plan/goal isn’t fully realized, think about and evaluate the experience as a partial success, again, on a scale of 0-100.
  5. Survey Method – Seek the opinion of trusted friends or relatives regarding whether your thoughts and attitudes are realistic.
  6. Definitions –  What does it mean to define yourself as “a loser”, “inferior”, “a fool”, “stupid”, etc.?  Examining these and other global labels will likely reveal they more closely represent specific behaviors, or an identifiable behavior pattern instead of you as the total person.
  7. Re-attribution – Rather than automatically blaming yourself for problems and predicaments, identify external factors and other individuals that contributed to the problem/challenge.  Your energy is best utilized in the pursuit of resolutions or ways to cope.
  8. Cost-Benefit Analysis – List the advantages and disadvantages of your feelings, thoughts and/or behaviors.  The cost-benefit analysis will help you determine what you are gaining from feeling bad, distorted thinking, and inappropriate behavior.

Until next time…

P.S. — Want to learn more about Cognitive Distortions and how they may be impeding your progress and success?  Tired of being at the mercy of your distortions?  Schedule your private, confidential complimentary discovery session or send an e-mail to info@JoshuaTreeCoaching.com to learn how.  Invest 30 minutes today to change your life forever.

“When your fear touches someones’ pain,
it becomes pity; when your love touches
someones’ pain, it becomes compassion. 
To train in compassion, then, is to know all
beings are the same and suffer in
similar ways, to honor all those who
suffer, and to know you are neither separate
from nor superior to anyone.” 

~ Stephen Levine

Here’s a quick review of what we talked about in Part 2 of “What Were YOu Thinking?”  You learned about Jumping to Conclusions, Emotional Reasoning, Shoulds, Labeling, and Blame.

In Part 3, here are the final 5 Cognitive Distortions (again, in no particular order)…or “What Were You Thinking?!”

5 Cognitive Distortions (Part 3)

  1. Control Fallaciesseeing ourselves as a victim (external control fallacy) or assuming the responsibility for the pain and happiness of everyone around us (internal control fallacy).
  2. Discounting the Positivediscounting your achievements or insisting your positive actions, achievements or qualities don’t count; saying anyone could’ve done it..
  3. Fairness Fallacygoing through life applying a measuring rod against every situation judging its fairness; feeling resentful because we thing we know what is fair but others won’t agree with us.
  4. Always Being Right feeling continually on trial to prove that your opinions and actions are correct (or pointing out how wrong someone’s opinions and actions are).  Being wrong is unthinkable going to any length to demonstrate your “rightness”.
  5. Heaven’s Reward Fallacyexpecting your sacrifice and self-denial to pay off, then feeling bitter when the reward doesn’t come.

What have you discovered?  What distortions do you recognize in yourself?  Where do you want to begin making changes?

You’ll have an opportunity in the next post to find out more about what you can do about your “stinkin’ thinkin” and improve your rate of success – however YOU define success.

To be continued…

Until next time…

P.S. — Want to learn more about Cognitive Distortions and how they may be impeding your progress and success?  Tired of being at the mercy of your distortions?  Schedule your private, confidential complimentary discovery session or send an e-mail to info@JoshuaTreeCoaching.com to learn how.  Invest 30 minutes today to change your life forever.

In Part 1, we looked at 5 Cognitive Distortions:  Filtering, Polarized Thinking, Over-generalization, Catastrophizing and Personalization.  What have you discovered about you and your cognitive distortions?  What, if any, resonate with you so far?

Let’s take a look at 5 more Cognitive Distortions (in no particular order or sequence).  Remember, although your thinking can affect your emotions, behaviors, actions, habits and decisions, your thinking doesn’t have to define who you are.  You can change the way you think and your thought awareness is the first step.

 5 Cognitive Distortions (Part 2)

  1. Jumping to Conclusions– making assumptions with little or no evidence to back it up.
    1. Fortune Telling – making negative predictions based on assumptions about what the future will hold.
    2. Mind Reading – making negative assumptions based about how people see you or feel about you, without factual information.
  2. Emotional Reasoning“I feel, therefore, I am.”  In other words, assuming that a feeling you have reflects the way things really are.
  3. Shoulds – having adamant rules and/or beliefs about your’s and other’s behaviors, which leads to criticism of yourself or others.  That criticism can lead to feelings of guilt, resentment, anger and/or frustration. Listen to your words when you talk about yourself or others.  Are you using words such as should, must, have to, ought to, need to?
  4. Labeling (Mislabeling)generalizing one or two qualities into a negative global, or sweeping, judgment.  The most common example of labeling is, “I didn’t share my ideas on the project.  I’m such a loser!”  A common example of mislabeling is, “She’s such a jerk!   She never stopped for that stop sign.”
  5. Blame (Personalization)holding other people responsible for your pain.  Some examples, “Stop making me feel bad about myself.” “I lost all my money at the casino because he talked me into playing poker.”

What’s jumping out at you?  Where do you want to begin making changes?

As a reminder, at the end of the series, you’ll have an opportunity to find out more about what you can do about your “stinkin’ thinkin” and improve your rate of success – however YOU define success.

To be continued…

Until next time…

P.S. — Want to learn more about Cognitive Distortions and how they may be impeding your progress and success?  Tired of being at the mercy of your distortions?  Schedule your private, confidential complimentary discovery session or send an e-mail to info@JoshuaTreeCoaching.com to learn how.  Invest 30 minutes today to change your life forever.

“Our destiny changes with our thoughts; we shall become what we wish to become, do what we wish to do, when our habitual thoughts correspond with our desires.”

~ Orison Swett Marsden

Allow me to give you the definition of “elevate”.

elevate – \ˈe-lə-ˌvāt\ – verb

  1. To raise to a higher place or position; lift up.
  2. To increase the amplitude; intensity, or volume of.
  3. To promote to higher rank.
  4. To raise to a higher moral, cultural, or intellectual level.*
  5. To lift the spirits of; elate.

I believe the choice of the word “elevate” as a verb, to put into action, is in complete alignment with understanding your thought processes and what you will want to do differently in order to create new habits of mind, new habits of thought, for you to continue to have a life that is filled with unlimited opportunities and untold success.  Even in these challenging economic times – the challenge is in how you think and respond to what’s happening in the financial markets today.

What better place and time to begin than by discussing those mental thought processes that can be constructive and destructive.  Let’s take a look at one in particular, but before we do, please consider the following questions and what your first thought, first answer is:

  • What impact is the current economy (rapidly rising gas costs, steadily increasing food prices, etc.) having on you in your personal life, your career, your job, and/or business life?
  • What’s going to happen if it stays the same or gets even worse in the next month?  The next quarter?
  • What options have you considered?
  • Are you open to possibilities?
  • Did you answer one, or any, question with a worse-case scenario?  Perhaps even thinking to yourself, it’s never going to get better?
  • Do you have difficulty reading the newspapers or magazines because of all the bad news?
  • Do you find yourself constantly being drawn in to the negativity and drama?
  • Do you grimace and moan when you listen to or watch the news reports on radio or television?
  • Are you losing sleep because of the worry and fear?
  • Have you ever wished you could just tune it all out and forget what’s going on in the world?  In your life?
  • Ever just want to stay in bed and pull the covers over your head instead of jumping out of bed and embracing the day?

This destructive mental process is catastrophizing, or imagined catastrophe.  Catastrophizing can be an habitual thought and occurs when we create worse-case scenarios and obsessively worry, even tormenting ourselves, over events that may or may not ever come to pass.  Mired in this destructive thought process, it can become difficult to even believe there’s another way to look at your situation or circumstance.  And the possibility of even a hint of having a possible solution may be simply laughable, sending you into a further downward spiral of fear, worry, anxiety and stress.

  • While your so caught up in worry, fear, anxiety and stress – catastrophizing – how many opportunities do you miss?
  • How many moments with your family, friends, and co-workers do you let go by because of the worry and fear?
  • How many times have you unintentionally ignored your loved ones because of stress?
  • How difficult is it for you to meet work deadlines because of anxieties?
  • When you’re barely making the deadlines, what is happening to the quality of your work?

What if you knew you could “elevate your mind” by changing the way you think about things?  Not solely through positive thought – by incorporating positive action.  Instead of wanting to run and hide and complain about the economic state, or any “state”, ask yourself what YOU can do to change the way you’re feeling about the situation, reacting to every piece of news or information you hear or read.  What opportunities can you see for YOU?  Can this time be used to get back in touch with the things that you value?  Spending more time with your family?  Turning off the television, the video games, computers, iPodsPads, mobile phones?  Plan special nights with family and friends – an old-fashioned game night or a pot-luck-themed supper?

Positive action or catastrophizing – what will YOU choose?  Are your habits of thought in alignment with your desires?

Begin to elevate your mind by choosing positive action.

Here are 3 suggestions to get you started:

  • Call a friend you haven’t spoken with in a long time.
  • Write and mail those thank-you notes.
  • Clear your office of the clutter – simply start with a desk corner.

What others can YOU think of?

Until next time…

P.S. — Want to know more on how you can practice positive action in all situations?  Schedule your complimentary coaching session or send an e-mail to info@JoshuaTreeCoaching.com to learn how.  Invest 30 minutes today to change your life forever.

P.P.S. —You’re welcome to share this article. When you do, include this complete blurb and the end of the article it:

“Would you like to learn more simple ways to bring more balance into your professional or personal life and create more money, time, and freedom  Check out my web site, http://www.JoshuaTreeCoaching.com and sign up to receive our regular publications, which include complimentary reports, resources and other helpful tools.”

How to Be Assertive Without Alienating Your Relationships

Asking for what you want—and setting boundaries around what you don’t want—is a key life skill.  However, sometimes in our enthusiasm to practice this skill, we over-do our own assertiveness and end up with someone (partner, friend, peer, customer, client, etc.) who shuts down, gets angry or feels resentful.  Here are four tips for developing your assertiveness in a way that will actually strengthen, deepen and enrich your relationships—thus avoiding the “alienation trap”:

1.     Get Clear.

Being assertive starts with knowing what you are—and aren’t—willing to be, do, or have.  For many of us, coming to this knowledge is a real task unto itself.  Here, it may be useful to ask: “In an ideal world, what would I like to happen?”  Focusing on an ideal, reasonable and realistic outcome opens our minds, prevents us from falling into passivity or “victim-thinking,” and helps us get really clear on what we want and don’t want.

2.     Set Boundaries.

Once you know what outcome you desire, share it with that person in your life.  Pay attention to the way stating your boundary feels in your body.  With practice, you can actually sense when you’re hitting the “sweet spot.”  It can feel really pleasant, even exhilarating, to express your needs or desires out loud.  Phrases like “such and such doesn’t work for me” are simple ways of being assertive while maintaining connection with the other person.

3.     Make a Regular Habit of Stating Your Needs and Desires.

You can build your assertiveness the same way you build any muscle: exercise.  Practice speaking up about your needs, big or small, on a daily basis.  When you speak up about things that are less controversial—such as where to go to dinner, requesting help with a task or what TV program to watch—both you and the other person get used to your assertiveness.  It becomes easier for you to practice and for another to hear.  Also, when bigger issues come along, you will have a healthy process in place for dealing with differences in needs, and you’ll have greater confidence in the resilience of your relationship.

4.     Give as Much as You Get.

Assertiveness is a two-way street.  If you want your boundaries to be respected, you must return the courtesy to others in your life.  If your partner doesn’t want you to interrupt her while she’s talking on the phone (unless it’s an emergency), don’t.  If your co-worker asks you to give him fifteen minutes before an unscheduled meeting before you talk and connect, respect that.  When it comes to following through on another’s reasonable request, actions really do speak louder than words.

If someone in your life isn’t respecting your boundaries even though you’ve set them clearly, it may be time for professional help for you and/or your relationship.

Until next time…

P.S. — Want to learn to be more assertive in you job, business or in general?  Schedule your complimentary coaching session or send an e-mail to info@JoshuaTreeCoaching.com to learn how.  Invest 30 minutes today to change your life forever.

This unique gift, kindness, may be hidden from your own sight like a golden treasure buried under shifting sands.  Often, we spend so much time dazzled by the talents of others that we can easily overlook our own gifts.  Or we are so caught up in the overwhelm and frustration of our own circumstances of life that we get a bad case of tunnel vision.  Our unique gifts are like golden rays of expression that can encircle the world with light, and kindness is one of the gifts that we are born with.  It is important for all of us to try to (re)discover how we can best express kindness to another person.

Here are a 5 things you can practice immediately:

  • Smile with your eyes.
  • Acknowledge and appreciate the gifts you see in those around you.
  • Tell your neighbor that loves to garden how much her green thumb enlivens the whole block.
  • Thank your coworker for always greeting your days together with a smile.
  • Tell your close friends that their ability to listen makes your world a better place.

What are some other ways you can think of to be kind?  Good!  Now go practice.

Until next time…

P.S. — Want to know more on how you can practice kindness in all situations?  Schedule your complimentary coaching session or send an e-mail to info@JoshuaTreeCoaching.com to learn how.  Invest 30 minutes today to change your life forever.

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