The Blog + Video Series: 3 Reasons Why Avoidance is an Ineffective Strategy

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Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash


As some of you may know, I am now also creating videos to accompany some of my blogs. Here, then, is a blog I wrote a few weeks ago, and a video that was created to engage with you in a different way. Some might also find having access to both narrative and video formats helpful. Be well.

3 Reasons Why Avoidance is an Ineffective Strategy

Avoid much? We all do. However, some of us avoid more than others. Might that be you? It was me for a long time. Why do you imagine avoidance is an ineffective strategy? Not sure. Let’s take a look at three reasons why.

1. It is not healthy

When we avoid things, we are, in effect, continuing to hold those things within us. Continue to do that, and you will be carrying around a lot of unnecessary baggage. Tiring.

You would think that by avoiding things we are uncomfortable with, do not want to do, or face, that we are creating more space within us. However, that is not the way it works. It’s the idea of the situation we are faced with that will continue to haunt us. Especially, if we believe deep down that we should be doing that thing, or facing that situation.

Let me give you an example

For a long time, I did not pay attention to my calendar. Now, in the position I am currently in, that ineffective strategy will not work for long. At that time, I knew that I should be paying more attention to my calendar, working to schedule myself more effectively, however, I ignored it. Why?

I simply didn’t want to take the time needed to work through it. Simple. Instead, I avoided it at all costs. What happened? People began to ask why my calendar was such a mess. Nice. I love when those we trust inquire, and make us think. Helpful. As was digging into my calendar and making the necessary adjustments.

Before doing the work in my calendar, it bothered me every time I looked at it. However, by organizing and prioritizing my calendar, I traded a fixed amount of time to do the work, with a continuous mental distraction. More effective.

2. It keeps you stuck

When we spend our mental energy on avoiding things, we have less mental capacity to try and do new things. Essentially, we sacrifice some of our creative potential. How much is sacrificed?

Depends on how much you avoid things. If you avoid often, then your creative potential will be severely impacted.

And, being stuck is no fun. Often, people are not even aware that they are stuck; nor do they recognize that they are avoiding things. The years I spent avoiding, I was aware of some of my avoidance, most I was not.

Here is another example

As I’ve written about in other posts, there was a time when I drank a lot. Too much. I knew that there was an issue, however, I made justifications and excuses for my behavior. Sort of a double burden. As my avoidance of the real issue, which at the time I was unaware of, was compounded by creating excuses and justifications. Exhausting. Really.

And, ultimately not helpful. Not physically, mentally, or spiritually. When living this way, you end up on the proverbial hamster wheel.

Doing the same thing every day, knowing you are doing it, making excuses and justifications for doing so, all the while staying in place. No movement.

3. You cannot grow

When we are avoiding, we are not moving; and, if we are not moving, we are not growing. Simple.

Growth is such an important part of the human experience. Some growth just comes our way. We didn’t invite it, yet it shows up on our doorstep. Some growth we actively seek out. We look for the opportunity.

Either way, having experiences that help us grow is one of the most wonderful things about being human.

Yet, when we spend large amounts of time avoiding things, we are limiting our ability to grow. Why? Because, when we spend that much time avoiding things, we have no capacity to seek out growth opportunities. We are too busy. Too busy avoiding, and making excuses and justifications for why we are avoidant.

Final Example

When I was working in the private sector, I took on a new assignment with a new sales team, and within 6-months, I was exhausted, and heavily avoidant. I went from a top-performing team, to a team that was in need of development. As was I.

Instead of welcoming the growth opportunity, however, I avoided it, and actually ended up leaving the company within another 3 months. Why?

I was exhausted. That is true. Yet, why I was exhausted had less to do with the work, and more to do with my mental attitude.

I was avoiding the opportunity to grow, and making excuses and justifications for why it wasn’t working. Well, the only thing that wasn’t working was my thinking. And, that is okay. It is not a judgement. It happens to people all the time.

The point is to become aware of these types of opportunities. Being aware of how we avoid things creates the opportunity to better understand ourselves, and all of those around us.

It also provides us the opportunity to grow, if we choose to engage with ourselves, inquire into our avoidance, and do something about it.

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Photo by Carl Heyerdahl on Unsplash

What can you do?

Here are three strategies I use to get out of my avoidance, and into action.

  1. Notice when you are avoiding something, and write it down – wiring it down creates more awareness about whatever it is that you are avoiding.
  2. Create time to reflect and contemplate – create the time necessary to better understand why you are avoiding the task or situation. Until you really know why, you will probably not move forward in that area of your life.
  3. Take an action – once you are clear on why you are avoiding something, take an action. Create a context to make some progress on the task or situation. It doesn’t mean that it will be complete, or solved, however, you will have moved forward.

When we are less avoidant, we have more time, more creative capacity, and more energy to do more things. Essentially, we can hold more. And, when we can hold more, and do more, we can be more.

Remember, we are all at times avoidant. Yet, if you find yourself more avoidant than you’d like to be, try some of the strategies outlined above, and get yourself moving again.

#avoidance, #getting-unstuck, #growth-and-development, #personal-development, #reflection, #self-development, #taking-action, #writing

Writing and Life Series #4: On Pain and Healing Through Writing

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

How many of you write as a release? Write to get the ideas, thoughts, concerns, dreams, wishes, and hopes out of your head and into a format that you can read and reflect upon. Yes, no? Maybe?

For most of my life, I didn’t. I didn’t regularly write out any of the aforementioned. Not because I wouldn’t have found it beneficial, more because I didn’t really know how. Sounds funny. It is true though.

I would tinker with writing here and there, yet never really developed a system to do so. What I realize now is that having a systematic way you write, or enter into any creative process is, at least for me, very helpful.

It is how I can continue to do so. To write through my pain and heal.

I find that writing of any kind, on a whiteboard, in a journal, in a computer document, anything, is very therapeutic. Why? Because you can then study what you are thinking, instead of simply thinking about it.

There is an important distinction here.

If you only ever think about something, you don’t really do anything with it, with the exception of maybe obsessing over it or worrying about it. Which, in the end, does nothing to move you forward as a human being.

Photo by Anh Nguyen on Unsplash

What are some of the writing strategies I use to work through my pain and heal?

I have several different ways that I get ideas out of myself and into the world. And, all of them work well. For, it is really less about the strategy, than that you develop the habit of writing through any situation or context that you find yourself in. From pain toward healing.

Here are some strategies I use daily.

  1. Whiteboards – I have three at home, and many at work, which include a complete whiteboard wall in my office. Very helpful. And, yes, there is also pain and healing that happens at work. It’s not just in our personal life that we need a release for our pain, whether that is frustration or some other emotion we are working through. I actually think that it is in the writing, considering, and working through the pain that healing occurs.
  2. Post-its – on the go, these work very well. I will typically then collect them on a piece of paper, or tape them to a larger 2’x3′ post-it, so that I can play with the ideas. See what’s there, and what possibilities I can see for moving forward.
  3. Journaling – I don’t write in a journal as often today, yet it is still a strategy that I recommend. Especially if you are new to writing about your own pain.

Those are the top three I’ve used, and use daily. And, they all work well, and can be used in combination. Example.

I will also tape post-it’s to pieces of paper, and put them on my magnetic whiteboard. Good visual, and easy to move around, and play with.

Photo by Paul Hanaoka on Unsplash

Why write through your pain to heal?

Because we all need the release. When we hold all of our pain inside, we cannot heal. It will reside within us, and actually make us ill. Not helpful.

Moving forward from pain, especially deep pain, requires visiting that pain often. Understanding it, working on it, and eventually releasing it. Carrying it around is unnecessary, though many people live this way.

Writing opens us up, and is a safe way to get out that which resides within. There are many different ways to write about pain. You can simply write about the pain, or you can create poems, or other stories about the pain.

What matters more than the writing medium you use, is that you provide yourself the opportunity to heal. Very important.

Photo by Jude Beck on Unsplash

Know also that it takes time to heal. You may write about something that is causing you pain, and not know healing from that pain for some time. For me, it also takes reflecting upon the pain in my writing.

When I can sit and contemplate that pain, I can see more, and have new insights. It is common for me to go back to something I’ve written several times before I can see a pathway to healing. Very normal.

How can you get started?

Start writing. Write on anything and at any time. Get your pain out of you and into the world so you can actually see it, and work on it. Important.

If you leave your pain inside of you, that is where it will always remain. Literally.

Choose times that work best for you, and create a habit of writing often. For it is in the healthy habit that you create to write about your pain often, that you have the best opportunity to know healing from that pain, and all pain.

Developing a healthy writing habit that is honest and reflective of the pain that lives inside of you creates a connection between your mind and your heart. And, it is inside of the connection between the two that all healing lives.

Write well and heal well.

#healing, #introspection, #journaling, #mind-and-heart, #mindfulness, #self-development, #self-inquiry, #strategies-for-healing-from-pain, #writing, #writing-about-pain, #writing-to-heal

How We Learn, and Why it’s Important to Understand

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Why is it important to understand how we learn best? It has to do with our own ability to relate with ourselves, first, and to others, second. Do you know how you learn best? Not sure? That’s pretty normal.

Though deep down you know, as I once did, most people don’t actively think about it. And, neither did I. It was not until I went back to school in my early 30’s that I fully understood how I learned best.

Alright, let’s take a look at the top 4 learning styles, and see what style resonates with you most. I also invite you to think about how else you can use these learning styles in your life. Ready? Good, here we go.

Learning Styles

Visual

Visual learners like to see what they are learning. These learners are interested in the visualization of the work they are engaged with. Think whiteboards, flow charts, and large post-it boards.

They must see the work in order to fully take the information in, process it, and provide a meaningful response. Some people don’t know they are visual learners. If you are not sure, I suggest writing out your next project on one of the aforementioned tools, and see what happens.

As I am visual, I can provide an example here.

I don’t expect this visual to make sense, and in fact, it may shock or startle some of you. What you are looking at is how someone that is hyper-visual thinks.

The importance of getting those ideas out of one’s mind and into reality, via any tool really, is extremely important to someone that is a visual learner. Without the ability to do so, the person may get stuck. I know, I’ve been there.

Aural

Someone that learns best through sound is in the aural category. Think about someone that chooses to listen to audio books, or someone that must have someone explain a particular task or project to them through verbalizing the steps. Our youngest son is an aural learner.

For those that learn best this way, having tasks or projects written out or in visual format, as in the above whiteboard example, will not work. Or, rather, visual and written instruction will not work as effectively. Sound is the key.

Here is an example.

Jeff Flesch on YouTube

This is a video I created for the blog, 3 Reasons Why Avoidance is an Ineffective Strategy, and I am using it as an example of aural learning, as I am talking through a strategy in this clip. Helpful. What would not work for an aural learner, would be the written out steps to the associated diagram without the spoken explanation.

Verbal

Verbal learners need to read that which they are to work on or engage with. Being able to read instructions, for example, is imperative for a verbal learner. Think about putting something together, not with a picture in mind, but with a list of steps, 1, 2, 3.

Being able to internalize the written instruction or steps, is important for a verbal learner. What would help the above video clip for a verbal learner? Yep, that’s it. If I were to write out a list of the steps that I am talking the viewer through. That would be helpful. Think of an ordered system. More comfortable for a verbal learner.

Kinesthetic

Those that learn best with their bodies are kinesthetic. These learners like to actually do something with what they are learning. They need to actually touch, feel, and practice the new information.

Though the below picture is not the best quality, it gives you an idea of a practical tool that was created intentionally to engage those that learn best by doing something with new information.

Alright, so can the learning styles be combined? Do some people learn best with a combination of the aforementioned learning styles? And, can people’s learning styles change over time?

Do some people learn best when learning styles are combined?

Yes. I am a great example of this fact. I learn best, by seeing, reading, and then hearing information. I also like to practice new information by either utilizing a worksheet, or more likely a whiteboard. I love whiteboards. I have a whiteboard wall in my work office. Excellent.

Yet, this is only how learning works best for me. I know people that need to have information explained first. A must. Then they can interact with visuals, and other types of learning styles. Why is knowing this important?

When we know how the people we are in relationship with learn best, we can support them in their learning and life. Important. And, when we assume we know, and offer support, that support, while well-intentioned, may not work.

It’s also important to know, as we have discussed, that some people may not know how they learn best. Asking them, in these instances, may not help. What can you do? You can offer them different approaches to learning, and see what fits them best.

Do learning styles change over time?

Yes. Here are a couple of reasons why learning styles change.

  • Because as we develop we learn new ways to process and operationalize information. We may add new learning styles to our approach to learning, and may even need to let go of approaches that no longer work.
  • Different contexts require different learning approaches, so in these contexts, you may need to adapt your learning style while incorporating new tools. Think of a new job, going to college, or graduate school.
  • You may learn, in school or at work, about a new way to learn that was previously not available to you. And, in this new learning, you may adopt a new learning style that fits you better.

Why is it important to understand how we learn?

It’s important to our own development. When we know how we learn best, we can employ strategies at home and at work that align with our learning style, which can help our retention of information and mastery of all that we do.

As I’ve mentioned in this post, I am a hyper-visual learner, therefore it will probably not surprise you to know that I have not one, nor two, but, rather, three whiteboards in my little apartment. Yep, three. Needed.

It is also important to understand how other people learn best. When we understand how our friends, family, and coworkers learn best, we can support them by advocating for, and providing learning contexts that adhere to their learning style.

We all learn differently, yet the learning process is very similar regardless of the style that fits best.

And, why did I write this post? Good Question.

Because it occurred to me that it is also important to someone that is engaging others through digital media – you, me, and many, many other people.

Whether that is via a website, social media, a blog, or some other medium. Understanding how people learn is a critical component of engagement.

In order to create the most engaging context, as many learning styles as possible should be considered, addressed, and included when possible. As I continue to develop the COVID-19 Creativity website, I will employ more strategies that include each learning style to ensure that everyone has a quality experience.

Alright, we’ve addressed the top learning styles, walked through their significance, and connection to self-development, relationship-development, and the importance of using these styles to create more engaging contexts.

Now I’m interested to learn how you’ve used learning styles in your personal and/or professional life to create more engaging contexts. What have you done; and how did it work for you, and your audience?

#aural, #engagement, #individual-learning, #kinesthetic, #learning, #learning-and-engagement, #learning-styles, #relationship-development, #self-development, #verbal, #visual

Creating and Maintaining Relationships Part 2: Standing for Each Other and our Shared Humanity

Photo by Joshua Coleman on Unsplash

In the post, Creating and Maintaining Relationships: What else is there?, we discussed how connected we all are; and, how the relationships in our lives are not just with those that are the closest to us. Rather, that every person we interact with on a daily basis, we, in fact, depend upon more that we realize. These relationships are also very important in our lives.

The importance we place on our relationships and how we think about them, is a product of our social environment. How we are raised to value relationships, all of them, will drive our thinking, and then our corresponding behaviour in our relationships.

If we think that relationships are inconsequential, we will live a life where we believe that we are acting alone, and others are merely watching. Not interdependent then. Conversely, if we believe that relationships are the basis for everything that we do, we will value the interdependence of the relationships in our lives, and will behave accordingly.

Valuable relationships are also transformational, and they create change. The people in these relationships do not simply recreate the same context, thus relationship, every day. They create new contexts each day, and new possibilities for the relationship, and for the individuals in these relationships.

Photo by Suzanne D. Williams on Unsplash

Transformational relationships are also disruptive. They are disruptive because the people in these relationships stand for each other. When one human being stands for another, they are, in effect, saying that they are committed to that person living the best life possible.

Living the best life possible, however, does not mean the easiest life possible. Disruptive relationships are amazing, and they are also difficult. They are difficult because change is difficult. Yet, it is inside of the change we all face, whether that change is self-induced or otherwise, that transformation takes place.

When people are committed to transforming themselves, and then those they are in relationships with, they are also interested in transforming society. As we discussed in the previous post, relationships start with the relationship we have with ourselves, and they go out from there; to our friends, family, work teams, organizations, and community.

When you are interested in, and actively work at transforming yourself and your relationships, you are also actively contributing to change and transformation within the greater community, and also the world. Do not think for a moment that the actions you take with yourself, and in your relationships cannot create larger scale change – they can and do. It starts with you; one action at a time, one relationship at a time.

As I reflect upon the very sad, disappointing, and unacceptable incident that happened in Minneapolis last week, it reminds me that taking a stand for a fellow human being is one of the most important, and vulnerable actions a human can take.

When we take a stand, we are out at the edge of what is known. We don’t know what we will get back. We do know, however, that by taking a stand we are committing ourselves to something much greater than ourselves. We are taking a stand for humanity – our shared humanity. For each other, and everyone else on this planet.

As you proceed in your week, honor the actions you’ve taken to create transformation within yourself. And, as an invitation, if you’ve not taken a stand for a fellow human being this week, whether that be with someone close to you or someone you don’t know as well, take a stand for them. For when we stand for and with our fellow human beings, we are standing for ourselves, and everyone else on this planet; and, we are creating transformation, within, and without.

#creating-change, #relationships, #self-development, #societal-change, #transformation, #transformational-relationships

The Stories We Are Told and The Stories We Tell Ourselves: Becoming Limitless

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Have you ever thought about why people are so attracted to stories. Movies, television, books, plays, insert here whatever you like that has to do with telling stories. Any ideas?

Don’t know about you, but I’ve always been fascinated with stories. Though I didn’t grow up reading much, I did grow up during a time when television was in a transformational phase. The advent of cable was just underway in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, and what a difference that was for how we consumed our stories. I mean, HBO and MTV? Wow.

As I’ve written in other posts, we are attracted to stories and create our own stories because this is how we make sense of the world. From a very young age we are told the story of who we are, and, in many cases, who we will be. As we grow up we learn from our environment, and weave our learning into the story of who we are, and who we believe we want to, or will, be.

The issue with this is that the person that we want to be, or that we believe we will be, is predicated on the stories told to us when we were very young. The information we drew upon was given to us. Yes, we added to it, however, we only did so, in a manner that fit a particular framework. We were doing exactly as we were taught to do. And, this is a limited framework.

The framework is limited, because if something in our environment does not align with the person we believe ourselves to be, we will ignore it. And, we will often do so unconsciously. We will simply not pay attention to it.

Think about the stories you tell yourself about who you are. Are they stories that you created, or, rather, are they stories that were handed to you. And, are these stories expanding the human being that you are, or are they keeping you living within a framework, or frame of reference, that someone else created?

I know for myself, understanding the stories that drive my behavior has been extremely liberating. Once you can see them, you can start to investigate why you believe the way you do. Until you can see them, and are conscious of them, you are simply living through these stories without really knowing any difference. Most of my adult life was lived this way.

Within the stories that we tell ourselves, there are some that fit the particular context that we grew up in; and, some that are generalizable. They are told to, and then by, many people, and have been told the same way for generations. Can you think of any?

Here are just a few for your consideration.

  • I am not good enough.
  • I can’t do that, it’s not reasonable.
  • There’s not enough time in the day.
  • I’m tired.
  • I don’t care.
  • I’m not qualified, or talented enough.
  • I don’t have the time.
  • It’s not possible.

These might not seem like stories to you, yet add them onto a familiar situation, and you’ll see the story that’s been created for you, and reinforced by you. These stories are limitations on the human being within you, which is searching for liberation.

Here are two quotes about limits that I quite like.

“The only limits that exist are the ones in your own mind.” -Anonymous

“All limits are self-imposed.” -Icarus

However these stories may resonate with you, they are all reconfigurable to create limitlessness. Where do you want to go, what do you want to do? And, who do you want to be?

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Photo by Alberto Frías on Unsplash

You are the writer of your story, and only you can change the frame in which you think and see yourself. You can rewrite any story that has been handed to you, and any story that you’ve added to, or created that creates limits. You can create a new story, one that has no limits, that sets you on a course for a new journey, and a new destination. How?

It takes looking at the stories that are holding you back, and limiting your potential, and the person that you are meant to be.

Here are a couple considerations on how to get started.

  • Write out all the stories that you have about yourself that cause you to limit your behavior.
  • Once you have those written out, question whether these stories are truly who you want to be.
  • If not, then rewrite that story. Write it from a place that does not limit the person you want to become. We are all always becoming. Start becoming the person you want to be.
  • Once rewritten, pick one that you want to take action on, and create an action or two you can take next week to start making this new story a reality.

Let me give you an example.

  • Limited Story – I can’t write a book, because I don’t know how, and I’ve never done such a thing before. Furthermore, I don’t have the time, too busy.
  • Question – Nope, not who I want to be.
  • Limitless Story – I can write a book, because I can learn how, and I’ve written things before. Though I am busy, I can make time.
  • Action – I will write two pages a week.

That is just one example, and a rather simple one. Yet, it does display a very simple method of taking something you believe about yourself, and rewriting the frame into one that is limitless and actionable. And, you can use this simple method with any limited story.

It takes looking at the stories that are limiting you, and making a conscious choice to do something about them. To rewrite them, and in doing so, to recreate yourself into the limitless human being that you already are.

#becoming-limitless, #changing-behavior, #human-behavior, #recreating-yourself, #rewriting-your-story, #self-development, #stories, #writing-your-story

You Are Not Your Fear

Photo by Melanie Wasser on Unsplash

I used to believe that I was my emotions. Confusion. I did not know then, like I am beginning to understand now, that emotions simply happen. They, like thoughts, are a product of the very human stimulus response system.

When something happens in our context, we have a thought about that happening, and that thought will usher in an emotion. That emotion will be a product of the thought pattern, simple.

However simple that seams, people do not always find it simple to understand how their emotions work. Why is this so? Most people are not taught how to understand their emotions. Why? Because their parents or caretakers did not know how to understand their emotions either. A cycle.

And, the cycle is created again each generation. A large part of why the cycle continues, is that people are afraid of their emotions. Then you have, people that are not taught how to understand their emotions, while also living in fear of their emotions. A very difficult combination. I know, I lived in it most of my adult life.

However, what I have come to realize is that we are not our emotions. We are not, then our fear. We have emotions, we have fear, yet we are not those emotions, or that fear.

In order to understand our emotions, as I’ve written in other posts, we have to look at your feelings, and begin to question why we feel the way we do. Not a simple task. In fact, it can be quite painful. However, on the other side of this pain is release.

A release from the suffering, which may manifest itself as resentment, grief, sadness, anger, frustration, or any other feeling, you’ve been holding onto. Looking into these emotions and their associated feelings is a discovery process, which can enlighten us to new ways to understand our own humanity.

Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash

I’ve been looking into my emotions for a couple of years now. In this time, I’ve come to realize that there is nothing to fear about our emotions, and those feelings, which often don’t feel so great. When we take the time needed to understand why we feel as we do, we can begin to heal.

Heal from whatever suffering we’ve been holding onto. And, in our healing we create the possibility that those around us can also heal. How is this so? Because as we begin to understand our feelings, we learn about ourselves. And, in our learning, we create a deeper understanding of other people’s suffering.

When we understand other people’s suffering, because we understand our own, we can stand with them. We can give ourselves compassion, and then give compassion to others as well. Realizations like this, and the associated practical work needed to create this realization, also creates a deeper understanding of the human experience, of which having emotions is a part.

I used to think that the human experience was about “being happy,” or finding my purpose. I’ve since come to realize that happiness, and purpose, like our emotions, live within us. Because they live within us, it is our responsibility to understand how they function. Both pain and happiness, and fear.

However, I’ve also come to realize that though we have fear, like anger or frustration, or any other emotion, we are not our emotions. However, when we hold onto an emotion, like fear, what happens? We get more of it, which is why people become confused, as I once did about anger, believing that they are that emotion. No so.

We are no more our emotions, than we are our thoughts. Emotions happen. They are a reaction to our environment, a response. When we understand this as true on an intellectual level, it is helpful. And, when we understand it on a visceral level, it is freedom.

Freedom from the cage we’ve constructed for ourselves. Cages made of fear, anger, frustration, etc. You are not your emotions, and you are not your thoughts. Therefore, dear reader, you are not your fear. You just are. I take great peace in this knowing, and hope that you might too.

#emotions, #fear, #feelings, #healing, #pain, #self-development, #suffering

On Love and Loss: Healing and Transformative Pain

Photo by Milada Vigerova on Unsplash

As I’ve written about in other posts, my father died last July. Up until that time, the only other real death I had been exposed to was that of my grandparents. Not the same thing, when you have a parent pass away.

The pain that came with my father’s passing was excruciating. Yet, it was necessary and needed for me to feel that pain. I’ve spent the better part of my life running from my emotions. Covering them up with drinking, eating, anything really, to keep the pain at bay. Totally unaware and disengaged.

I read a blog post recently about the benefits of crying by Maja on Lampelina, and it reminded me of the necessity and need to be aware of our emotions, and to feel them, and to release them.

When I was unaware of, and disengaged from my emotions, expect for the ones that I was able to feel and release, such as anger and frustration, I had tons of pent up shame, sadness, and grief. Still do. I am now doing these emotions, which means I cry often.

I know when there is a need within me to cry, because the familiar emotions of anger and frustration will surface, which is the first sign that I am holding onto, not paying attention to, and avoiding my true feelings.

Many people live their whole lives this way. One of the issues with this, outside of the negative health ramifications, is that when we avoid difficult emotions, like shame, sadness, and grief, it keeps us from truly living.

We cannot lead a rich and full life without an awareness of our emotional selves. Further, we must regularly work at, or practice our emotions, and be in touch with them, no matter how painful they are. Actually, the more painful the emotions, the more the need to be in touch with them.

Though I have experienced love throughout my life, it is only now that I can fully experience love in a way that is almost painful. It is cliche to write, you must know love to know loss, and you must know loss to know love. However, it is true. More true than I ever really knew.

Today, on this Memorial Day, I’m thinking about my father quite a bit, reflecting upon the pain that he had and held, which went unprocessed. It fills me with great sadness. Yet, I know it happened as it was supposed to. And, I know that one of his legacies is having a son that is in touch with his emotions today, more than ever before.

That I’ve had the opportunity to learn about and get in touch with my emotions means that I can stand for his grandsons, and help them understand, when they are ready, their emotional selves. This is the essence, for me, of love and loss, and the pain that can come in both.

I have never before known pain that functions this way. Pain that is both healing and transformative. I’ve spent most of my life avoiding pain, and that was my confusion. Because it is through pain that we can receive the greatest gifts of understanding.

We can better understand ourselves, and all of those around us. Today, love and loss, and the pain that comes through both, are more alike to me today than ever before. Though I once avoided my pain, I now welcome it, as I know that the pain I feel through love and loss are needed to live the fullest life possible.

#death, #healing-and-transformation, #life, #life-lessons, #love-and-loss, #pain, #self-development

Inspiration, Imagination, and Innovation: Unlocking Your Creative Potential

Photo by John Tyson

I used to believe that inspiration, imagination, and innovation were all concepts that you needed to find. Similar to my post on motivation, I believed these concepts lived outside of me. As if, I could find them somewhere in the world.

And, it is true, we can see something that inspires us to imagine and innovate, however, what we see has very little to do with what we are actually seeing, it is, rather, the filter through which we see that matters.

What we see, and how we see, are products of how we think. If we believe the world is full of inspiration, we will find and see inspiration. If we believe the world is uninspired, then know matter how hard we try, we will not see inspiration.

Obviously, if we find and see inspiration, we will be inspired. And, conversely, if we do not find and see inspiration, we will be uninspired. If this is true, then, we can never really find anything outside of ourselves. What we see is a mirror of how we think. It all starts with us.

Finding inspiration is a process of looking inward. And, looking inward is the only real place you can find anything. It is the process of developing oneself, and creating inspiration that gives birth to imagination and innovation.

Funnily enough, when you find your inspiration, and you begin to imagine, dream, and innovate, these actions double back on themselves. Meaning that once you find inspiration within, your creative capacity is unleashed, and the imagination and innovation that comes forth breads more inspiration. A full circle, if you will.

Photo by Nadine Shaabana

At this point, you may ask, how, then, does one find their inspiration? Unfortunately, I cannot tell you how to find your inspiration, yet can tell you how I found mine, which may serve as a catalyst for your own search.

Finding My Inspiration

Finding my inspiration began with a personal quest to understand my own suffering. It started about three years ago when I took a job that, at the time, I was not fully prepared nor developed enough for.

Every morning I would awake to the “I can’t do this” mantra, and after 6 months of this kind of thinking, and a great deal of less sleep than is optimal, I began to question my thinking. At that time, questioning my thinking simply meant that when I had the thought, I can’t do this, or this isn’t working, I would question whether or not that was actually true.

Questioning my thinking, and remembering that the context I was working in was but one aspect of my being, not my whole being, began to shift my thinking. Additionally, as I’ve mentioned in other posts, I began to start seeing a life coach once a week, and did two powerful leadership development programs.

The ability to question my thinking, even then at a very minimal level, seeing someone once a week, and developing myself, created a space for me to start creating new thinking patterns.

Photo by Ashley Batz

During that first year, I also worked on my diet, and began, what I called then, breathing. This breathing was my first foray into meditation, which I continue to practice today.

All of these choices helped me be more open, flexible, adaptable, and resilient. These choices also gave me more clarity, which, when working on a dynamic team, in an ever changing and fast paced environment is very important.

Being more open, flexible, adaptable, and resilient, allowed me to take, and give, feedback in a more constructive and healthy way. And, letting go of the notion that I should know the answers to every issue that would arise, opened me up to learn more about myself, and to learn more from all of the people around me.

When you begin to truly understand yourself, and begin to take in all that people have to offer, you find that inspiration is everywhere, and in all things. Again, it is the inspiration you find within yourself, that then translates into “finding” inspiration in all things.

Finding inspiration is a matter of how you think about who you are, what you do, and how you relate to everything in your environment. If you believe that you matter, that your relationships to those in your environment matter, and that ultimately your impact matters, you are doing inspiration. You will also find that inspiration goes out from you and affects others. We can call this reciprocal inspiration. It is infectious, and wonderful.

Unlocking your Creative Potential

When you are inspired, your imagination will become more active, which will, if you are open to it, translate into more innovation or creativity. It is also important to understand that this renewed, or new, creativity comes with a requirement to continually be open to all new experiences, even if they feel uncomfortable. Meaning, that it is in the unknown where the most creative and innovative works can be realized.

There is so much freedom that comes from this kind of thinking. Freedom from the constraints and limits that humans typically put on themselves, which, of course, constrict inspiration, and the corresponding imagination and innovation.

When you are ready to live a life full of inspiration, you can take the necessary steps to live that life. Living this kind of life does not come without difficulty, yet it is inside those things that are difficult that personal growth, and transformation can take place.

You can only realize your fullest potential by going outside of your comfort zone, finding your own inspiration, and then letting that inspiration fire your creative potential. You are a creative being. We all are. You simply have to be open to being all that you know, deep down, you are capable of being, and trusting that inner knowing.

Inspiration, imagination, and innovation, live within each of us. These qualities are everyone’s, not just a select few. They are, after all, human qualities, and you are a human, so you have them, and only you can unlock them and realize them for yourself.

#creative-potential, #creativity, #imagination, #innovation, #inspiration, #life, #self-development

Handwritten Letters and Life Skills: Keeping Simplicity Alive for Future Generations

Photo by Green Chameleon

Since the COVID-19 health crisis began, and the associated shelter-in-place order was established here locally, I’ve been receiving handwritten letters from my niece and nephew.

When my sister told me that the twins were tasked with creating and sending out handwritten letters, I thought, oh joy! What a great way for two 10 year olds to spend parts of their day. With all the current technological distractions, these letters seemed like such a great idea, a break for them, and ultimately, a gift for me.

At the time, what I didn’t consider was how much I would enjoy receiving and reading them. Nor could I have imagined how much fun it would turn out to be to write them back.

I am old enough to have lived during a time when in-home computers were just gaining traction. At that time, handwritten (or typed) letters, like landline phones, were a part of people’s everyday experience. Not the case today.

It got me thinking about life skills, and how important it is for children and youth to have the opportunity to develop skills, even when, maybe especially when, these skills are not as sought after today. It is important for many reasons, one of which is the necessity to keep these skills alive for future generations. Why?

Because there is an elegance to the written word, like there is in understanding how to balance a checkbook, or creating a meal that doesn’t include “food” from a box. And, it is our job to teach children and youth these skills.

There are a myriad of these life skills that, due to technological advancements, are not as utilized today. In fact, some are out right not taught in schools, or in homes across the country. Why?

Some of the lack of education in life skills has to do with the way K-12 education functions today. Some of it has to do with the fact that people are busy, and don’t always spend the time necessary with their children teaching them these skills, especially as they enter their teenage years. Or, they think they’ll pick them up along the way.

As a parent, I have also fallen into the trap of being busy and assuming that the kids would pick up this or that skill along the way. Yet, what I have learned is that they will not always pick them up. We must teach them these skills.

Though the life skills referred to in this post are quite simple, we make them seem complex, as today there is an easier way to get to the outcome, or result. For instance, it is much easier to look up a word on an online thesaurus, or dictionary website, than it is to use an actual thesaurus or dictionary. Do we assume then that children and youth will simply know how to find, let alone utilize a thesaurus and or dictionary? We should assume not.

We often make the simple complex. It is a pattern most humans have, and one that I’ve referenced in several other posts. It is often harder to find the simpler path, yet strive for it we should. Because we can make something complex, does not mean it should be complex. In fact, it really means that it should be simple.

If making things simpler is something we should strive for, then teaching children and youth basic life skills, which are not as in fashion today should be a goal of every parent and or caretaker. Why?

Because if we don’t teach them these skills, who else will?

#generations, #life-skills, #psychology, #self-development, #simplicity, #sociology, #youth-development

Persistence Without Resistance: Getting Outside of Your Comfort Zone

Photo by Alex Wong

What is the difference between conceptual thinking and execution? And, what lives inbetween the two? Let’s take a look.

A concept is considered an idea, intention, or plan to do something. Though conceptual thinking is needed and necessary, without the execution behind the idea, intention, or plan to do that something, nothing real will exist in the world.

I often think that people do very well at the thinking part of leading a concept or idea into a planning phase, yet often times during the planning and the following execution phases of a project, traction falters, and the project either stalls, or drops completely. Why is this?

I believe it has to do with the myriad of stimuli we find ourselves dealing with every day, combined with the habit of continually firefighting in whatever business we find ourselves in.

Two years ago I went to an all day strategic thinking training, which included people from all spectrums of work, from line workers, and administrative and operations personnel to company presidents. And, what did all of these people, including myself, have in common? Every one of us was spending more time working in the business rather than working on the business.

When you spend more time working in the business, you are reacting, and firefighting, which, in effect, keeps you on track to reproduce the same outputs and outcomes that you’ve already been producing. You are effectively treading water. If you feel this way about your work right now, you are not alone.

I learned a lot from that strategic thinking training, and one of the most important takeaways was that I was not alone. We are all trying to work on our businesses, or our marriages, or our relationships, yet we continually, without being aware of it, reproduce the same results every day, which keep us stuck in the same place we were yesterday.

To become unstuck, you must not only think, or conceptualize a different future, you must then actively create it. One step, or action, at a time. Otherwise you will continue to get the same results as you’ve always gotten. And, what did Einstein say about that: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

We cannot attain different results without “getting out of our lane.” We must remove the blinders that keep us in the same lane, and venture out into unknown territory. Uncomfortable, yes. Yet, these are where the jewels of life reside. The rare and wondrous moments of growth, are when we stop reproducing the same thing we had yesterday, with the same result, and take a different action, or set of actions, giving us different results.

Conceptual thinking and execution are both needed. When you have both, you have the ability to create new future realities. And, inside these new realities, you have the opportunity to live life in new ways. Ways that were previously unknown and unavailable to you. Regardless of the context.

How do you do this? First, you must be prepared to be uncomfortable, as the journey to creating new realities through new conceptualizations and corresponding new executable actions will be new territory for you. Because humans feel most comfortable inside their already created patterns or habits, living outside of them is uncomfortable.

If you are prepared for such discomfort, the process is not altogether difficult, and must also include an openness to all that is happening, and all those around you. Meaning that things will happen that get in the way of the actualization of your created concept, or you may forget about it at times.

The most important thing to remember is that becauses things happen that get in the way does not mean that you cannot still attain that goal. Building a new habit around a new goal is difficult, yet people do it all the time.

Persistence without resistance is key. Meaning that when things get in the way, know that these things are there for a reason, and that it is okay. Don’t resist what is happening, and continue to persist.

For instance, I’ve wanted to learn another language for a long time. And, have created the opportunity to do so, yet for the past two weeks, I’ve not studied very much Now, I could get frustrated, effectively resisting reality, and give up. Or, I could accept reality as it is, reserving all of that time and energy spent on being frustrated, and put that time and energy into studying.

In order for anything to exist in the world, there must be both concepts and actions that execute on those concepts. And, to do both requires an understanding of how most human beings typically operate, which is inside of their comfort zones. A comfort zone that will produce results that are similar to the results they’ve produced in the past. And, there is nothing wrong with that.

However, if you are looking to produce extraordinary results, you need to be prepared to conceptualize and execute outside of your comfort zone. In that territory that is unknown to you, until it is known. And to know, that once that territory is known, it will be time to create something outside of your now larger comfort zone. This is the process of growth, and you are never too young or too old to grow.

#business, #comfort-zone, #creativity, #extraordinary-results, #growth, #life, #persistence, #psychology, #self-development