Posts Tagged ‘life coach’
Angry At Society – how to feel peaceful not hatred
Angry at society appears to be the primary emotion of our time. As this angry feeling festers, it can lead to feeling hatred. Yes, there is also kindness found in society, and I do know people who are not angry. What can we do with our angry emotions so that we can turn them into a sense of being peaceful, and we don’t end up feeling hatred?
Angry at society? Why is there so much anger? We see it in the streets, in demonstrations, on social media, etc. I have my theories, but the focus of this article is not on the why, or the origin, of the anger. Instead, I write this article on anger from the perspective of mindfulness.
In mindfulness, we are urged to remain in the moment, non judgmentally. Following that suggestion, I don’t necessarily need to understand why someone is angry. Assuming anger is taking a person from their peace, I guide that person to shift their perspective and so take action in the hopes of returning that person to a sense of peace.
As a counselor and practitioner of mindfulness, I don’t perceive anger as either positive or negative. The feeling is the feeling; what I do with the feeling is healthy or unhealthy. So, anger in and of itself is not the issue. My perception and actions based on anger is the issue. Therefore, many people these days who are angry are not what bothers me. What bothers me is what they are doing with their anger.
Anger, as an emotion, has its place. Anger has been used successfully as a means of defense against danger, both physical and emotional. Anger, felt when we perceive a threat, produces in us an increase of the chemical adrenaline. This chemical prepares the body for a physical fight and later coping with the event’s emotions.
In society, whenever we feel that our ideas, beliefs, or opinions are attacked, our basic instinct kicks in, resulting in an angry response. Anger is undoubtedly the most judgmental of our emotions. It’s also the most moralistic, self-righteous, and repudiating. Most of us will defend, sometimes to the death, what we believe.
Attacking a person’s beliefs or opinions is akin to an attack on the person themself. Why? Because we are the thinker of our thoughts! In essence, if you attack my thoughts, you attack what I created, and in so doing, you attack the creator, me.
Anger is probably the only emotion that we consciously cling to. Think about the last time you felt happiest. How long did that feeling, in its intensity, last? And when the feeling drifted away, many of us say, “I wish it lasted longer.” Yet, when it comes to anger, when was the last time that feeling of anger simply drifted away? For many of us, we hold onto it, ruminating over and over the offense, which was done.
Why do we hold on to anger? Let’s examine what the emotion of anger does for us:
- It provides us with a feeling of power.
- It enables us to believe that we are in control of the situation.
- It confirms to us that we are right and correct in our stance.
Examining this list, why wouldn’t I want to hold onto anger? If I give up feeling angry, I may feel less powerful and less in control, and I may discover that I’m not entirely correct in my thoughts or beliefs. Yet, if I am willing to give over my power and control to a reflection of my thoughts, I have now opened myself up to self-examination!
Self-examination, one of the goals of meditation, can also be a means of growth. But self-examination can be scary as we uncover aspects about us that we may not wish to open or issues that even we don’t like. As we hold onto our anger, we don’t allow for this self-examination. In many cases, that which angers us in others is what we are covering up in ourselves!
As I stated earlier, anger isn’t the issue; it’s our reaction to anger, which can be an issue. Therefore I differentiate between what I call a “healthy anger” instead of “unhealthy anger.” For example, you witness an injustice and become angry as your belief system speaks to justice for all. In this example, your motivation for feeling anger is not self-righteous indignation or a sense to overpower someone “because I can.” In this example, your anger will most likely result in action toward resolving the injustice, whereby all parties involved will be granted a sense of peace. As peace overtakes the anger, one is willingly open to self-examination.
The unhealthy anger is that anger, which I hold in a self-righteous manner with no motivation or intention toward a sense of peace or self-examination.
The person who practices mindfulness, meditation, and self-examination recognizes within them a sense of peace. Note that I don’t speak of the “feeling” of peace, rather, the “sense” of peace. Feelings, such as anger and happiness, are fleeting; they come and go. Having a “sense” of peace is not fleeting. A sense of inner peace speaks to an awareness of oneself within your environment. We can feel angry, happy, sad, etc. while at the same time maintaining a sense of peace.
People such as Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. no doubt felt anger as part of their motivation of why they acted as they did. But a reason their actions were not violent and their rhetoric was of love is that they had a sense of inner peace. This sense of inner peace allowed them to feel the anger, yet not allowing them to betray their values.
When we feel emotions and act in unison with our core beliefs, not violating our true selves, we are at peace. We may feel anger at situations or even toward specific people. Still, in maintaining a union between those feelings and our actions with our core beliefs, we retain our sense of inner peace.
Our goal is not to stop feeling angry. Instead, our goal is to learn how to respond to anger healthily. Here are my steps for healthy anger:
- Before feeling angry, practice mindful meditation and spend time in self-examination.
- When you feel anger, find your inner peace to help change your perspective to understand the situation from everyone’s viewpoint.
- Take action in union with your core beliefs and values, which will ultimately lead to the spreading of peace.
- When the situation is over, refuse the urge to hold onto the anger. Let your inner peace overtake the anger allowing yourself time to re-charge.
I agree that there is much in our world toward which to feel anger. Use the steps above to rise to the challenge of using your anger healthily.
PATH Finding Your Inner Peace And Happiness infographic
Coronavirus: How To Emotionally Cope And Reduce Anxiety
Coronavirus continues to spread around the world and the USA. This spread of the virus is causing people to suffer from anxiety and even panic. Fearing they will be affected by the coronavirus, people are changing their lifestyles, even avoiding social situations. How can we realistically emotionally cope with the coronavirus? Follow the PATH.
Coronavirus, according to the World Health Organization, is part of “a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases … Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, the infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure, and even death.”
The idea of a virus, invisible to the naked eye, which can span the globe, is the subject of many a horror movie. Yet this isn’t a fictional movie, and people are getting ill and dying. Thus, the reality of the coronavirus gives us a reason to be anxious and scared. Our fear response keeps us safe and alive. So however you’re feeling about the coronavirus is healthy for you.
I’m not a medical professional, so I’m not writing this article on how to avoid getting the coronavirus. My reason for writing this is to guide us in finding ways to reduce anxiety about the existence of the coronavirus.
Using PATH, the program I developed, is what we’ll apply in this situation. PATH is made up of 4 interconnected strategies to help us focus our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors to best respond to the world healthily. In this discussion, I’m in no way minimizing the potential threat or the turmoil the coronavirus has already placed on too many people worldwide.
The first step in practicing PATH is to practice mindfulness. Take a moment throughout the day to recognize how you are feeling in the present moment. Regardless of what you’re feeling, acknowledge it without judging it. If you wish to feel differently, then ask yourself what you can do differently. If there is nothing at the moment you can change, then accept it and find something else you can change.
In light of this mindful meditation, we’ll now start upon our PATH:
Regarding the coronavirus, examine how you feel about it and what you think you know about it. Now, change your perspective by looking at it from a different viewpoint. For instance, spend time studying the virus to gain knowledge instead of false news or hype. Or you could ask yourself how this virus compares to other outbreaks we’ve experienced in the past. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, as of February 28, 2020, there are 2,871 deaths reported worldwide, while the common flu, as of this writing, finds 12,000 to 61,000 deaths in the U.S. alone every year. According to those numbers, more people die, in the U.S., from the flu than those who have been killed worldwide from the coronavirus.
Acceptance does not mean agreement or settling. It’s about viewing reality, and acknowledging what is happening, ask yourself how you will be or are impacted. In the case of the coronavirus, the acceptance is in the reality that it exists, is spreading, and potentially can kill a person. Now, in this reality, what can and can’t you control? What you can’t control, you need to dismiss from your mind since those thoughts are creating much of your anxiety. Instead, focus on the things you can control. In this situation, you can control where you travel, your personal hygiene, and keeping up to date (non-obsessively) with the latest news on the virus in your location.
Now that we’ve changed our perspective and accepted reality, we’re prepared to take action. Based on the above two steps, what can you realistically do for yourself, your family, or your community to make a difference? In this situation, where the majority of the U.S. is not affected by the virus, can you help others to stay calm or educate them on how to respond to the threat?
Mindfulness and finding inner peace is not about selfishness, but an outpouring of the peace we have experienced. This last step on our PATH focuses on what we can do, as a result of the above steps, to guide others to feel the peace you are now feeling. Then they too will do the same with others. Think of how different our communities would be if everyone was helping another to find peace and reduced anxiety over the coronavirus!
I know too many people have died, and many more people have been negatively affected by the coronavirus. But I also know that by keeping this virus in perspective and helping others to do the same, will benefit us in the long term.
The Greatest Threat To World Peace – What Is It?
The greatest threat to world peace, as I see it, is the fear caused by anxiety. My message is consistently about finding one’s inner peace. Yet, the greatest threat we have to achieve that inner peace is anxiety and fear. One’s anxiety quickly turns to fear, and fear can turn us against ourselves and against one another. Here are my 7 practical tips to reduce the greatest threat to world peace.
The greatest threat to world peace is more profound than what we hear about in the news. The media will tell us that war, terrorism, poverty, climate change; these are the greatest threat to world peace. While I won’t argue the point, what’s the common denominator affecting societies and cultures? Anxiety and fear.
According to the American Psychological Association anxiety is defined as an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts, and physical changes like increased blood pressure. And what tends to cause most of our anxiety? The unknown, a sense of feeling out of control.
When we don’t know what the future may bring, or we feel a lack of control in our life, our anxiety rises. As the tension increases, the feeling of loss of control leads to fear. What I don’t know, understand, or control can be fearful.
In these terms, think now of the greatest threat to world peace. The more we don’t understand what will happen, and the higher our feeling of a loss of control, the greater our anxiety and fear. And if I feel afraid, I will either hide or fight that which I fear.
Therefore, when other cultures, societies or countries feel a loss of control, they will become anxious and afraid of that which they perceive is the source of their loss of control. In my opinion, simplified greatly, the greatest threat to world peace in the Middle East is fear rooted in the ignorance of other cultures. Both Western cultures and Middle Eastern cultures tend not to understand each other. Therefore we are anxious and fearful of that which we don’t understand. Unfortunratlrey, the response to the feeling of fear is to fight rather than dialogue to understand each other. This fear, by the way, is felt on both sides, the West and the Middle East.
Unless you are a diplomat or have international influence, the question we ask ourselves is, “how does this relate to me?” It relates to us since most of us interact with other people. How we interact with people who are of a different culture or different religion from our own, let us know the level of anxiety and fear we hold inside ourselves. This level of anxiety influences and affects not only how we feel but how we treat others.
Think now of the solution to the greatest threat to world peace. If each of us, everyone in this world, took the time to learn about that which we fear, we would most likely not fear others. If everyone in the world ceased to fear each other, the need for terrorism and war and sanctions would disappear.
I fully understand the complexities of life and take into account the problematic realities of the situations we face in the world, yet devoid of naïve “answers.” In place of answers, I propose the following practical tasks to work on as we develop ways of reducing our anxiety and fear of unknown people and situations. As we accomplish these tasks, we will feel a sense of hope, a hope fulfilled by each person.
- We aren’t alone. The struggles of coping with a world in turmoil are not yours nor mine to struggle with by ourselves. Many people feel similarly. Seek out others who feel the same as you and, instead of complaining or despairing, work together on practical solutions to local problems.
- We aren’t victims. A victim is a person who suffers as a result of events happening to them for which they are powerless to control. You may say that, according to that definition, we are victims of what is happening in the world! But if we change our perspective on how we define “world,” not meaning the entire globe, instead, define my world as consisting of my local community. In this way, we can create reasonable expectations. Creating reasonable expectations allows us to actually do something resulting in our expected change. For example, it is unreasonable to make our goal that of world peace. Yet, the purpose of creating a peaceful home, work, or local community is reasonable.
- Empower yourself and others. Educate yourself about the struggles and solutions tried in the past. Learn what worked and what didn’t work, figuring out why it didn’t work and what you may do differently to make it work. Find and obtain the resources needed to carry out your goal. Our ability to work with others to find a solution to problems removes the label of victim, replacing it with survivor. Although we need to be educated about the issues, it is also essential to keep a balance, allowing for some news-free periods in our day.
- Regain your power. Once we realize that we are not powerless, our desire to implement change brings about renewed strength and optimism. Recognize the power and strength that you individually, and you as a group, possess. Find creative ways of using your energy for the good. Do not let the power itself take over, for hubris makes one feel invincible. In reality, even though we may have power, we will not always make the proper decisions. Knowing how to learn from our mistakes is a sign of strength, for the knowledge gained from the error will help you to avoid that, or similar mistakes, in the future.
- Focus your energy. Our power and abilities are limited, so wisely focus your energy on those tasks which can be completed and not on those tasks you know are impossible to achieve. No one person, or one group, can do everything.
- Empathy. As we learn about the issues affecting our world we begin to realize that many of our problems originate with people not understanding each other. We tend to view the world from our perspective and our history, failing to recognize that those with whom we may disagree are also seeing their world from their perspective and past. Finding solutions to problems presupposes that all parties agree on the nature of the problem. Empathy, placing ourselves in the shoes of another, provides us a deeper understanding of the concerns of others. By viewing the world through their eyes, we can be better informed and so better prepared to find and carry out solutions. Empathy does not mean I agree with another’s opinion, only that I view the other’s opinion as viewed by themselves.
- Self-care. The realist in me recognizes that to accomplish all of this, I will end up draining and wearing myself out. But, I realize the need for self-care. Take time for yourself; keep up bonds with family and friends; find activities or hobbies which do not relate to the work at hand; spend time in meditation and quiet to focus yourself.
The greatest threat to world peace is the fear caused by anxiety. One’s anxiety may quickly turn to fear, and fear can turn us against ourselves and against one another. Empower yourself through knowledge so as not to fear the unknown, but to make the unknown known. The known reduces anxiety, rids one of fear, and allows you to feel a more profound sense of inner peace.
Coping With Family Stress To Bring Peace To The Holidays
Coping with family stress during the holidays can seem like a given. Many of us anticipate that family will get on our nerves, make us upset, or get us angry. Understanding that stress, especially during the holidays, will happen, then coping with family stress becomes more manageable and doable since we expect to feel and experience that family stress.
Coping with family stress comes with the season. Sure, family stress happens all year. Still, during the holiday season, it amps up, becoming stronger and more widespread amongst families. Family stress is defined as a disturbance in the steady-state of the family system. The disturbance can emerge from the outside, from inside the family, or both simultaneously.
Why does this happen? Why during a time of the year when we try to be cheerful and happy are families more stressed?
I feel that the answer to that question is two-fold. The holiday season itself can cause stress. Families need to make preparations for travel, the arrival of other family members, meal prep, getting gifts, decorating, and meeting the expectations of traditions. There’s a lot of responsibility placed on many people during a short couple of months. But we all know how the family will talk for years to come if just one aspect of the holidays doesn’t go as they wanted or expected. That’s a lot of pressure to place on people.
The other part of the answer to the question is that families who may spend much of the year physically separated are now coming back together. Children out on their own for the first time, feeling that sense of freedom, are now back in their parent’s house, struggling with being an adult while once again being treated like a child. Or family members who get along well through phone or video chats, find that living under the same roof, even temporarily, is a reminder of why they moved away.
Put these two reasons together, not unlike distant family members coming together, and we have the answer as to why coping with family stress is such an issue this time of the year. Tensions are high to achieve perfection, and family members are moving back, the perfect storm in which to brew stress.
So what can we do about this? Do we resign ourselves to an uncomfortable holiday as we assume stress to be inevitable? Not at all. Actually, the “answer” starts with the formulation of the question itself.
If you know there will be family stress during the holiday, base your expectations as such. If you know that one uncle will be drunk once again, or that cousins whom you can’t stand will be at a function, base your expectations as such. If that uncle gets drunk every year, don’t act surprised when he does it yet again. Why would you expect him to act any differently? Enter the holiday season with realistic expectations as to how people will act and plan accordingly. Therefore no surprises or hurt feelings. Actually, if for some reason they act in a healthy way, such as not getting drunk, then you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Keep your expectations realistic. No family is or will ever be perfect.
I write and often speak on this topic of feelings and how no one makes us feel any such way. Our nature tends to seek blame for when we don’t like how we are feeling. If I’m feeling happy or joyous, I’ll own that feeling! I’ll tell everyone how “I” feel. But, if I’m angry or sad or disappointed, I need to find the person or situation for which I can blame for those feelings. So if I’m disappointed in how the family gathering is progressing, I’ll be sure to vocalize how uncle so-and-so “made” me feel. Yet, in reality, no one makes us feel anything. People act, we react. But we have a choice in our reaction. If I kept my expectations based on reality, and uncle so-and-so is once again ruining the evening, I can choose to feel what I want since I already prepared myself for his actions. I don’t have to feel disappointed. And if I do feel frustrated, that’s my choice, just as it’s your uncle’s choice to do his actions.
When you’re creating your realistic expectations, remind yourself that it’s OK to feel how you feel. And it’s OK if not every family member agrees with the other members. A family’s bond is not in agreement with everyone, the relationship is in the love and the connections of the members. Yet, since each member of the family is an individual person as well, they may have different thoughts and opinions from others in the family. Remind yourself that it’s OK. Just as each family member has their own views, so too, you have your own opinions and feelings. You don’t have to convince others as to your opinion, nor do you have to justify your feelings. Be yourself, yet understand that as a member of the family, the family itself has importance. As you accept others in the family, accept yourself as a member too.
How To Find Hope In Life
How to find hope in life is not always an easy task. Yet, a life without a sense of hope can be dark, depressed, anxious, and lacking in motivation. In this article, I write about ways of finding hope in life, and so finding happiness and inner peace.
To find hope and to keep hope are essential to living a happy and peaceful life. Yet most of us know what it’s like to live a life devoid of hope. A life where nothing seems to be going our way, and no one seems to understand. The encouraging “you’ll snap out of it,” or “sleep it off,” or, my favorite, “just get over it,” is not at all helpful. If only it were that easy to overcome the feeling of hopelessness.
Hope is a mechanism developed by the human brain to cope with contexts and situations unfavorable to survival. Without a sense of hope in the future, or hope in one’s ability, where would we find our motivation, our drive, to move forward? In the worst of times, it’s hoping that drives me forward. That “knowledge” telling me there is something better in the future if only I get there. Hope compels me to find the impossible as possible because I believed it to be possible and so acted as if the possible were already the reality.
The author and evangelist Hal Lindsey says it so well: “Man can live about forty days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air…but only for one second without hope.” Here are some of my suggestions to find hope in life:
- Do what you know you can do. Take steps forward by accomplishing the tasks you know you can achieve. Maybe you can make the bed, or actually get out of the bed, celebrate the little wins as eventually, these wins will become the lessons needed to find hope.
- Perform an act of kindness. Helping someone else not only shows them there are good people in the world but gives you a sense of accomplishment and outward pride in supporting a fellow human. This sense of pride, felt healthily, will lead to a feeling of hope, knowing that if you can help someone else, you can help yourself, too.
- Surround yourself with optimism. The attitudes of people around us influence our mood. If you surround yourself with positive and hopeful people, you, too, will become positive and optimistic. Learn who the positive people are in your life and follow them.
- Allow for inspiration. Read inspirational books or quotes, strengthen your faith, return to your place of worship, whatever it takes to believe and feel the presence of a being more significant than yourself. Knowing that a prayer community is willing to help you, and the belief that something out there is higher than you, gives us hope in that we aren’t alone.
- Spend time in nature. Feeling, seeing, sensing the depth of the beauty of nature is awe-inspiring. Notice the small insects and bugs, reflecting on how they, given their size and lack of intelligence, somehow survive and even thrive in their environment. If the insect can do it, you can do it!
How to find hope in life is necessary for us to move forward in life, to find the motivation to grow and mature into the best person you can be. Don’t let yourself lose hope. Hold on tightly, and try to enjoy the ride.
How To Overcome Fear But We Need Fear To Live
To overcome fear, one needs to believe they will be happy on the other side, and that getting to the other side of fear is possible. Knowing and believing are two very different attitudes. In this article, I use my own childhood fear as an example throughout. Keep in mind, we need fear to live, so be careful in what fear you try to overcome.
As a young child, I had many fears, as I’m sure most children experience. For me, my most significant event to overcome fear was the weather, specifically thunderstorms. I was convinced that every storm would spawn a tornado which would ultimately find and pulverize my house, with me in it! Now, please know that I did not grow up in tornado alley or in a tornado prone area. Yes, we experienced the random water spout and once a decade, or so a tornado would develop. The tornadoes were far enough from my house not to see the funnel of destruction but close enough that the local newspaper printed articles about the twister.
I have no idea of the origin of my fear, but I knew exactly how to overcome fear in this situation. To overcome fear is not easy, primarily when our fear is rooted in reality. In my childhood situation, the fact was that tornadoes did happen in my area, do spawn from thunderstorms, and are capable of demolishing houses. Therefore, to that extent of reality, my fear was justified.
Yet there’s another perspective, or reality, to be examined if we want to overcome fear. In my case, reality also demonstrated that a tornado never formed in my neighborhood, at the time I had never seen a tornado, and in my 18 years growing up in my childhood home, it was never demolished by a tornado (actually that home still stands to this day). So yes, there was a reason for my fear, but also yes, my childhood fear was unfounded.
Fear is powerful, convincing us to either flee or fight against a known or unknown danger waiting to harm us. The threat, for our first ancestors, was primarily focused on physical survival issues, life, and death situations. Today our fears tend to be focused on emotional survival issues. Emotional survival is as essential to our overall survival as is physical survival. Fear is instinctual as a means to protect us in situations where protection is needed so that we survive and reach the other side of that which was threatening.
Since fear serves to protect us from both physical and emotional harm, guiding us along a path of survival, why then even talk about how to overcome fear? Shouldn’t we embrace fear as our protector? Fear is actually not our problem, as such, I should change the title of this article. The problem we have is how we cope with our fear. The initial reaction to either flee or fight is helpful, but becoming stuck in either mode is detrimental to moving forward. It’s so much easier to flee or fight when the situation is physical. Yet when the threat is emotional, fleeing or fighting is more difficult to notice, and so we become stuck.
As a child, my response to thunderstorms was to hide under my bed or to run into the basement. The latter is the preferred location if there actually were a tornado present, yet for me, it was an escape, a fleeing, to where I felt safe. My becoming stuck was not fleeing to the basement, but doing so, when there was no need to do so. I would leave friends, activities, family, etc. to flee to the imagined safety of the basement. Fleeing when it leads to safety is healthy and wise; fleeing solely out of fear is unhealthy and being stuck.
What have I learned from my childhood into adulthood on how to overcome fear?
- Reflect: When you feel afraid, take action to protect yourself. After you’ve acted, reflect on yourself and the situation to determine if your response to your fear is healthy or not, using the example I gave above.
- Act: Take action, not to overcome fear, but to overcome your unhealthy response to fear. As I grew older, and while hiding in the basement, I happened upon a very old book set somewhat hidden under my Dad’s tool bench. As I uncovered the books, I noticed that one of the books was about the weather, explaining the forces and science behind how the weather works and safety tips. My action was in learning about that which I feared, causing me to have a respectful fear of Mother Nature. I now know when seeking shelter and being afraid is necessary and when it’s not. As an adult, I now spend free time chasing storms. I enjoy sitting on my deck to watch the beauty of the lightning show, and I’ve even been in storms which spawned tornadoes that I was able to see. Some of these experiences produced no fear in me while others produced much fear, and healthily, I respected the power of nature and took shelter.
- Fight: Fight within yourself to believe that you can overcome your fear. When I first started to learn about the weather I “knew” I could handle my fear, yet it took years of maturing and study to “believe” that I could overcome fear and respond healthily. Start with “knowing” but continue to fight and work until you get to “believing” in yourself.
- Flee: It’s important not to think of fleeing with a negative connotation. Fleeing from a harmful situation is wise for survival and for providing time to create a plan of action. In modern life, physically fleeing, or leaving a person or condition may be the healthiest action to take for your own emotional well-being. Similarily, emotional fleeing from a situation, controlled and not permanent, can have the same healthy effect as does physical fleeing. Keep in mind that healthy or unhealthy flight is dependant upon your motivation and the reality of the threat. An emotionally abusive relationship might require a person to flee physically. Yet a person who simply doesn’t like a situation, their fleeing may be an unhealthy escape. Sometimes circumstances may be able to be fixed if you stay and fight.
Yes, we need fear to live and survive, but how we respond to our fear is what makes the difference in our emotional health. If you want to live a happy and peaceful life, practice believing in yourself that you can overcome fear by the way you cope with your fear.
How To Not Sweat The Small Stuff And Find Happiness
Learning to not sweat the small stuff is a phrase filled with much wisdom. The important piece to this statement is learning to live in the moment. But how can we learn to stay more in the moment so that we don’t let the little things bother us so much that we lose our happiness? Here is my technique on how to not sweat the small stuff.
Step one is to actually reframe the question of how not to sweat the small stuff. If something is bothering someone, then it’s not “small stuff” to them. Judging another’s perception as to the gravity of a situation negates what they’re feeling and expressing. Although, I do hope to eventually get them to a point in the future where they can laugh at it and say, ah, that really was small.
But, to not sweat the small stuff, to get to the point of recognizing the smallness of some of our concerns, the question I’ll ask the client is “in the scope of everything going on in your life and in the world today, where does this issue fit?” If they’re honest with themselves and with me, they’ll understand the inner challenge in that question. Placing our perceived large stressor in judgment against the stressors of the world gains us a new perspective on our place within the larger community.
To clarify, I don’t typically advocate comparing one person’s troubles to another person’s troubles since we all cope in different ways, even to the same stressors. But in cases when an issue which is seemingly small yet perceived as large, then changing one’s perspective through comparison can be eye-opening and therapeutic.
When we sweat the small stuff and get stuck in our focus on anxiety, we need a strategy to guide us in healthy non-anxiety producing coping skills. The approach I use is what I affectionately call “the shiny object” strategy.
This strategy diverts our attention to focus on something different from that which is producing our anxiety, similar to shaking a shiny object in a dog’s or baby’s face to divert their attention to something else. Eventually, while diverted, we forget that which were focused on and which was causing the anxiety. This exercise guides us to reframe our perspective on ourself and our world.
I’ve spent a couple of decades working with people suffering from the disease of addiction, and one of their complaints to me is how their fellowship sponsor responds to them when they share they have a craving. They tell me they would call their sponsor and say, “I have a craving to use.” Invariably the sponsor would reply with something to the effect of, “Hey, did you watch the game last night?” The conversation would turn to sports, or whatever topic the sponsor wished to discuss. But it was invariably any topic other than the issue of the person’s craving to use a drug or drink.
My clients would complain that the sponsor isn’t helping when they reach out with a craving. They complain that the sponsor will talk about everything except for the reason they called, their craving. My question to the client, when they were done complaining, is always “did you use? Did you give in to the craving?” The client would always answer with one word, “no.” Isn’t that the goal the client wanted? They didn’t want to give in to their craving, and in the end, they didn’t.
This is a prime example of the shiny object theory. Keep focusing on your craving, and the craving will increase in intensity; stop focusing on your craving, and shortly, it will go away. In the same way, if I have a headache and I’m focused on my headache, my headache gets worse. If I have a headache but take care of that headache and return to my day’s activities, my headache seemingly goes away.
If someone decides to sweat the small stuff, remember that to them the issue they are sweating is not small. There is a reason they are sweating the issue, so don’t focus solely on the issue itself, rather, spend the time to learn why the issue is bothering the person the way it is.
If you’re feeling something irritating you, annoying you, bothering you, sticking with you, spend time reflecting on the deeper issues. Take time out, take a breath, focus on it, and dig in to figure out what’s happening so you can solve the root problem. When you solve the root problem, you will no longer sweat the small stuff.
Life Management Tips For A Happy Life
Life management became the focus of my live interview on the LA radio show “Ask Brien.” This business-focused show turned into a life coaching episode as the topic of time management easily and quickly moved into life management. Check out the full interview below.
The host asked me to define and talk about time management, especially for new entrepreneurs struggling to grow a new business while balancing their personal lives. I believe that time management consists of taking a holistic picture of what’s happening in the present moment, therefore time management is akin to life management. Time management is focusing on ways to get done what needs to now while planning for the next task.
Time management, like life management, is most effective when you approach your tasks and day with a sense of reasonable expectations. If your expectations of what and when you can accomplish tasks are unreasonable, you’re going to set yourself up for failure. The problem is you’re going to end up at the end of that day saying, not only did I not accomplish what I wanted to, but because I didn’t meet my expectations, there’s something wrong with me. This way of thinking will lead you into a downward spiral of negativity. Yet in reality, there might not be anything wrong with your approach except having too high of expectations which were totally unreasonable.
How does one create reasonable expectations? Well, you really have to get honest with yourself and figure out what you can realistically accomplish and stick to that. Often, especially with entrepreneurs who are starting out doing their own business, it’s a one-person show; they don’t have a team. Therefore, you get into the mindset that I’ve got to do everything by myself. So everything becomes a priority. So as not to burn out you really have to figure out what it is you can and can’t do.
Be honest with yourself about what you know, what you’re good at, what you can do, and what’s reasonable. Then you’ll need to come up with a solution for what needs to get done. That solution becomes part of your to do list. So I think one of the things we need to do in time management is to begin to understand those areas that I can work on and those areas where I need to find somebody else or some other business to make it happen.
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Recently, I find most people are coming to me for life coaching, stating that their life is stressful, their job is the worst, or their relationship isn’t what they think it should be. This is what people are feeling, but what’s really going on is a sense of a lack of purpose in life being manifest or showing itself through stress and anxiety. People are asking the questions, “what is my life about?” “Where am I going with my life?”
An aspect of many people’s outlook that I’ve observed is a focus on the negatives of life, If you’re always looking at life as negative, you’re only going to see the negative. Those who are asking questions about the purpose in life are actually looking at the positive in life. They want answers or solutions, and by their nature, solutions are positive.
We need to change our perspective on that piece right there. There’s nothing wrong with questioning, but we also have to see life from a whole different perspective based on whatever is happening now.
We need to acknowledge what the negatives are in our life. I’m not saying to deny the negatives, that’s part of our reality, but we don’t want to just focus on them. So we can say, here are all the negatives going on in my life right now, but also, what are the positives going on in your life right now? There’s always something that you can find which is positive. I guide my clients on how to look at things differently so that they can not only find the positives but also to create the solutions.
Life management covers not only perspective and expectations but our outlook on life in general. Check out the entire interview for more information on my take on being a realist while practicing mindfulness.
Selfishness Is NOT Mindfulness: My Approach To Life Coaching
Selfishness is overwhelmingly the norm of our culture. Yet at the same time, self-help practitioners and life coaches are promoting practices such as mindfulness and self-awareness into an age of selfishness, enabling that selfishness to become the emerging goal of mindfulness. I fear that maybe my mission of life coaching is partly to blame for this selfishness, even though my approach to life coaching is very different from most coaches.
As a life coach, speaker, and author on the topic of finding inner peace through mindfulness, I fear that maybe my life’s mission is to blame for this selfishness. Have I been leading people astray? Actually, no!
A close examination of my material and mindfulness itself eschews selfishness in all of its manifestations. So why the existential angst that I’m feeling? Our culture encourages individuality, no pain, no suffering, only encouragement, praise, and a “way to go” for every action performed. Individualism based on the absence of hardship inevitably leads one to believe themselves as the center of the world. For most people, the focus is on self, and on being happy.
Insert the practice of mindfulness and the various claims from life and wellness coaches that they will make you happy, healthy, and prosperous if only you practice mindfulness in their way, and BOOM, an industry is born from the selfish tendencies of our culture.
What makes me different from other life and wellness coaches is that I do not promise you your dreams. I work in leading you to find inner peace, resulting in self-love expressed in action. My goal is not to make you healthy, thin, successful, or wealthy. Honestly, I don’t care if you succeed or fail in aspects of your life. My goal is for you to find inner peace regardless of what is happening in your life. The key to finding this peace is spelled out in my PATH program with it’s focus on teaching you to shift your priorities and perception.
The issue of selfishness is not because of mindfulness, the problem is in the promises being made about success, health, and happiness. In a previous article, I wrote against this idea of seeking happiness as a life goal.
Historically, the arrival of mindfulness to the US is attributed to Jon Kabat-Zinn. In 2013 Kabat-Zinn wrote this definition of mindfulness (bold mine): “Mindfulness is the psychological process of bringing one’s attention to the internal and external experiences occurring in the present moment, which can be developed through the practice of meditation and other training.”
According to Robert Sharf, “the Buddhist term translated into English as ‘mindfulness’ originates in the Pali term sati and in its Sanskrit counterpart smṛti. Smṛti originally meant ‘to remember,’ ‘to recollect,’ ‘to bear in mind’. … [S]ati is an awareness of things in relation to things, and hence an awareness of their relative value. Sati is what causes the practitioner of yoga to ‘remember’ that any feeling he may experience exists in relation to a whole variety or world of feelings that may be skillful or unskillful, with faults or faultless, relatively inferior or refined, dark or pure.”
Where in this ancient or current definition of mindfulness does one find selfishness? One doesn’t, for what is written is quite the opposite of selfishness. Reflecting on the phrases, I placed in bold, we see that mindfulness is focused on one’s entire experience of life, not just the happy moments, thoughts, or emotions. As professor Thomas Joiner writes: “Accepting one’s thoughts as mere thoughts is very different from treasuring one’s thoughts; one may as well treasure one’s sweat or saliva. This is about recognizing that each thought is inconsequential and thus not worth getting depressed or anxious about.”
The goal of mindfulness is for us to slow down enough to fully experience life. Mindfulness is not a means to avoid negative aspects of life, but to fully live those experiences to learn how to cope with them healthily. Mindfulness asks us to be aware of all of our emotions, to feel everything, even the negativity. In so doing, we end up coping with what we at first wanted to avoid.
Mindfulness does not lead us away from reality into false or naive happiness; instead, it immerses us into our present reality. Mindfulness only talks about the self in the context of the necessary inward reflection. But to stay in the inward self is what makes one selfish. Selfishness does not and cannot lead to a sense of inner nor outer peace!
Why? Because the state of being at peace involves one’s actions becoming in sync with one’s values and morals. The ideology of morality exists in light of our interactions within a culture of other people. Separating oneself (selfishness) from society implies no need for a set of morals as there is no one upon whom you will transgress.
Therefore, finding inner peace directs one to seek an outer peace, and for that to happen, we need to work together for the common good; an anti-selfishness. Working together for the common good involves action, and action is as necessary as the practice of mindfulness itself. We aren’t utilizing mindfulness as a tool for merely learning about self for the sake of knowledge, but for that knowledge to help us understand our place in the broader community. Mindfulness guides me to be the best version of me, not for me to hold onto, but for me to share my best version of self with the community.
Living mindfully is a daily practice of noticing everything. The emphasis is on full awareness of our experience to avoid denial of reality. Mindfulness, when used as intended, will lead one to a deeper understanding of self and the experience of inner peace. But mindfulness does not result in selfishness or personal gains, save the personal benefit of more profound knowledge as to who you are. Mindfulness and inner peace lead us outside of ourselves to working with others in creating a just and peace-filled world, something selfishness knows nothing about.