Be honest, how much does the way other people behave affect your mood? Your nearest and dearest, your boss, your work colleagues, the guy who served you at the coffee bar?
As humans we have become accustomed to putting others in the driving seat when it comes to how good we feel. In our relationships at home especially, but also at work, how others are being can affect you greatly if you believe you’re not always in control of your own experience.
I heard a great story this week about a couple who had been married a long time, and their grown up son was distressed because his father had Alzheimer’s and he couldn’t bear to see what it was doing to his mother. He was asking a great spiritual master why this had happened and what he could do about it. Alzheimer’s, he was told, is just a form of withdrawing from this physical life.
When someone has Alzheimer’s they initially have difficulty remembering recent events but, as the disease progresses, they sort of recede through time and stop recognizing those closest to them. I recall my great uncle being heartbroken as his wife no longer knew him, speaking only of those in her childhood.
The spiritual master told this man that his father had really deployed a rather clever way of getting his wife, who he had sensed was rather dependent on him for her happiness, used to him not being there. Now none of this happened at a conscious level, it wasn’t as though this man had flicked through the pages of a medical journal, chosen a disease and whamo, there it was.
It never is that way, we desire something (or fear something in which case the desire for the opposite is born), the universe responds. Hence the saying ‘be careful what you wish for’ because we don't get to dictate how it will come about or who is involved. This man or his wife had certainly had strong feelings for each other and a concern that his passing would cause her great unhappiness.
His mother, who was used to being in the driving seat, was struggling because the person she had known was no longer there. The son was lovingly reminded he could not change any of the circumstances, he couldn’t charge in on a white horse and fix this, he could acknowledge that his father was withdrawing from this life and honor his path, he could encourage his mother to look beyond the life that had been hers, and start to see the things in it now that were worth appreciating. Her strength was not in his father, her strength was in herself, as was her happiness.
Whether it's a loved one with an actual form of dementia, or simply an outstanding task that they promised to do (6 months ago), understand that, good or bad, we bring these situations into our life; not by prescription but by our strong desire (or worry).
When you also realise that feeling good is both entirely within your gift and absolutely necessary in order to go with the flow of our life, you can start to practice getting into the drivers seat of your own life experience.
It’s the minority who both understand and live like this because we’ve become a society dependent on others for our happiness. Despite being born with a joy and happiness that is indiscriminate, we soon receive messages that we can't rely upon our own knowing and intuition, we must rely on others, and so it is that we start to outsource our wellbeing.
Rather than letting the joy flow we unknowingly train our children into thoughts that really just create resistance to the good things coming into their lives. Most of us act mainly from a point of fear, letting our minds run away with the "what if..." scenarios. Many believe they are their mind, rather than it being a tool for creating.
Each day as you go about your routine, watch out for the thoughts you have that attribute how you're feeling to others. I know I do it all the time, with my partner, my children, the lady at the cash desk, the man in the car behind, the list is endless. Now though, I catch myself and think, "that’s interesting, what does that interaction reflect back about me and what I’m feeling?”.
Remember it’s all interconnected. Most of your thoughts every day are repeated, rote repetitions based on past experiences, and because you keep replaying them you keep attracting the same experiences which further entrenches your beliefs. A belief after all is just a thought repeated again and again. It’s based on those thoughts that you take action and it's that action that determines your feelings, and thus your experiences.
If you’re just letting it all happen unconsciously and not taking responsibility for your own feelings, you are missing out on your best life. You can be in the driving seat. It’s not that you will never experience challenges, because challenges remind us of what we don’t want, and in that the desire for something new is born.
In time, as you become more conscious of your own thoughts, and your own feelings, your experience of challenges changes because your perspective changes. You will take a helicopter ride and look at your life from a broader perspective and wonder what dots this experience will connect to later on, trusting it will bring about exactly what you intended – whether deliberate or not.
Your feelings are what attracts your experiences, if you refuse to feel bad, you will start to attract more and more of the things you do want into your life. We know “it’s not what happens it’s how we respond”, yet in our darker moments we reject it, wallowing instead in a pool of powerlessness brought about by our own narrow perspective.
What happens if you have someone depending on you for their happiness? People who attribute how they are feeling to you? While you can take on an attitude of “I’m not responsible for how you feel, you are”, you really just have to be the example. The truth is, if you have someone like that in your life, it’s probably a reflection of your own beliefs.
Stand up and take charge of your own life. The sooner you do, the more you will notice others around you stop depending on you for their happiness because you can’t attract what you're not projecting. There is much out there to help you with the 'how' of all of this, aside of my own articles there are libraries full of wisdom on this topic, go with something that resonates for you.
Make it your mission to take charge of feeling good for yourself. Whatever you desire in life it starts with feeling good about who you are and what you have in your life now. You are not responsible for the details of how it happens or who is involved.
Take the example of the man whose father had Alzheimer's. His mother wished for the father to be well again so that she could be happy, but really, her wish was to be happy. Yes, once upon a time that happiness had come about because of the times she shared with her husband, but if her desire for happiness is the predominant feeling, she would start to attract many other situations into her life that would also give her happiness.
‘Who’ is not important, other than you. You can start to feel good about who you are right now. Over time, if you practice that, you will find more peace, more joy, more harmony and, as you look back, be amazed at how your life has changed.
This article was initially published on LinkedIn.
photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/27526538@N07/9240212796">Ojas' First Shoot</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/">(license)</a>
Most of us spend most of our time wrapped up in things that don’t feel good while in pursuit of something in the future that we think will make us feel better. What happens in that future? The minute you get what you want, you get wrapped up in the pursuit of next thing that you think will make you feel good.
Whatever change you are seeking, surrendering the process of how that happens is where the rubber meets the road. When we say “if it’s meant to be it’s up to me” we often confuse figuring out of how it will all come together with the real job that is ours, allowing it to happen.
Allowing something to just happen is harder than it seems because the minute you want to make a change you immediately feel its lack. The trick is not to dwell there. Your job is to let it go, post that in a letter to the universe as we talked about in Hating Your Way to Happiness.
While this is counter to our usual approach to change, one area where it is heard commonly is when people are having difficulty conceiving. I know firsthand the frustration of well meaning guidance to “forget and it will happen naturally”, especially when there is a monthly reminder of the lack.
However I also acknowledge the truth of it as, in my own experience, after years of trying and failing, it was when I decided to switch focus to my more general wellbeing, and had started the counseling about IVF treatment, that it all occurred naturally.
Allowing involves one thing, feeling good about the here and now. Therein lays the conundrum.
You think you will feel good if only you can have this thing you are wanting, and if you want it badly enough it will eventually be yours whether you practice feeling good or not. However, the fastest way to allow any change to happen is to practice feeling good about who you are and what you have in your life right now.
Practice is a deliberate choice of word here. This is about shifting the balance. Life wasn’t intended to be without challenge. If there is nothing that makes you feel bad, how would you know the sweetness of feeling good? However, many of us are living in the world feeling overwhelmed and frustrated too much of our time.
An ideal would be to feel good 80% of your time, but since most of us probably tend towards the lower end of the spectrum, just aim to improve on that; inch your way incrementally up the scale. If you fall backwards one day, don’t worry about it, just aim to keep the overall trend going upwards, remember tomorrow is another day.
How do we start to feel good about ourselves and our situation in life? Be humble, life is so much bigger than you. Look out the window, start with nature and the magnificence of that. Spending time walking in it, running in it, cycling in it, swimming in it, flying in it, tending to it, whatever works for you, get out there and enjoy our planet, it will replenish you in a way nothing else can.
Start to get deliberately involved in activities that slow the momentum of the stress that builds up each day. Learn to meditate, or do a meditative activity (anything that allows you to ‘be in the moment’, whether it’s chopping veges, doing yoga or riding in the forest). Write a gratitude journal – which sounds so irritating if you are in a negative space – but when you’ve spent time tending to yourself, it’s easier to focus on the things you love about your life and the people in it.
Feeling bad is your indicator of things you don’t want in your life. Be grateful, they help affirm what you do want, just don’t dwell there. The momentum of your life will change if you make deliberate attempts to see the good in it. As the balance starts to shift, and you feel good for more of your day, changes you want to see happen – any changes – will come to you more easily.
You will also find it easier to deal with the people around you who don’t get where you are coming from because they are spending most of their time in the cycle we talked about in the beginning, wrapped up in things that don’t feel good in pursuit of something in the future that they think will make them feel better.
Most of the time you will be feeling so good you are unlikely to even attract the types of comments or probing you have experienced in the past, as these are usually just reflections of your own self doubts and people around you pick up on your energy. If you have confidence in yourself and the changes you are seeking, they will happen effortlessly.
It all starts with feeling good about you in the here and now and letting go of the illusion that life will somehow get better in the future. Make it your mission to feel good above anything else. That is not a glib statement, if your point of reference for anything you do in life starts with you feeling good, your life and that of those around you will start to change in amazing ways.
This article was originally published on LinkedIn.
photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/124300190@N04/23998610013">Papilio polyxenes on Parsley</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">(license)</a>
The saying “with freedom comes responsibility” is well understood by most of us adults, and when freedom is withheld we tend to do our best to rally against it. The travesty is that we are the ones who have made things so difficult for ourselves. There is an easier way for you to live.
Life is a river of wellbeing that we navigate with our feelings. If you feel good, you’re in tune with yourself and you know you’re in flow, if you feel bad then you know you’re swimming against the tide. Yet most of us have learned somewhere along the way to ignore our inner guidance and instead take the hard road. After all, nothing is worth having if it wasn’t hard won… and we’ve really trained ourselves to believe that.
Worse, we perpetuate it with our children. Instead of understanding that our children come with their own compass, we treat them instead like an empty vessel. We rush to educate them about all the pitfalls of life and all the terrible things that might befall them if they don’t listen to us, the wise parents.
Marveling again at the incredible amount of time it’s taking me to stop repeating these unhelpful behaviours, the lesson this week was my 5-year-old daughter’s bedtime. Every night was becoming a battle, a long drawn out affair that was not serving any of us. Suddenly it dawned on me that my daughter has an innate knowing about the amount of sleep she needs, just as I do.
Everyone, including children, knows when they are tired. Kids only rally against it and want to stay up later if they don’t feel empowered to make that choice for themselves. Dictating bedtime, for us, was more about creating space to have time to ourselves in the evening (if we are truly honest). That is something no person, and no parent, should feel guilty about. Your wellbeing has to be a priority if you are to be the best parent, mate, sibling, coworker, leader, anything, that you can be.
Consequently we have now been very deliberate about giving her the power to choose when she goes to bed. The stipulations being that she must rely on herself for entertainment, given that we all need some time to ourselves (including her), and that it must be quiet time (no devices) to help her body wind down for sleep.
When a freedom is withheld, and then suddenly given, you should expect a transition. It occurred to me that she wouldn’t likely have needed any stipulations if we’d let her make this decision for herself from the outset, now it’s a transition. Things will be a bit bumpy for a while as she attempts to stay up later, then discovers that – as she has to be up early for school – she’ll get overtired and it won’t be pretty. Short term pain for long term gain though.
The same applies in the workplace. Employees would perform far better if they were empowered and entrusted to do their job. Chaos would not reign as some fear, yes there would be a transition and it could get bumpy for while, but the paths to the evolved workplace are already being trodden by companies as discussed in Is the Role for Managers Redundant in Today's World?
So what freedom are you holding back from yourself or others?
Every day you will be thinking or doing things that simply don’t feel good to you. What deep seated beliefs, regular routines or learned behaviours are making you miserable? Remember that a belief is only a thought that has become ingrained because it’s been reinforced. Reexamine even the last half hour, what did you do that did not feel good?
Conversely, what was the last thing that felt great? Dwell on it, let it sink in, commit to doing more of what feels that good.
There’s an easy way to go through your life and a hard way. No doubt some of the things that you are committed to are laudable, even if they are making you feel miserable. At this time of the year many will be committed to new exercise regimes and diets, many may already have ‘failed’ in their commitment because it seems too hard. Do you know that less than one percent of those who diet maintain their weight loss?
It’s not because the diet doesn’t work or that you are particularly lacking in willpower, it’s just because we are generally going about things back to front. If, first and foremost, you commit to feeling good you will soon feel naturally attracted towards the best foods for your body, ways to exercise and to enhance your wellbeing.
Instead many of us are looking towards those things to make us feel good. Look instead out of your window, get out into nature and start appreciating this magnificent planet we have. If you are a parent, spent time every day dwelling on the brilliance of your children, the specifics that you remark upon to each other, the moments that make you proud.
Look in the mirror and appreciate the magnificence of the miracle that is your body. It might not look the way you want it to look but my goodness, the amazing feats that the trillions of cells that are you accomplish every day are phenomenal. If you start to really appreciate all that you are and all that you have in your life right now, you will be amazed at how much better your life will flow, how much easier it is to do the things that make you feel good.
Let feeling good be the torch that helps you navigate the river of your life, commit to that and freedom will feel less of a responsibility and more a natural part of your world.
This post was originally published on LinkedIn.
photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/58518488@N08/14755365306">Wings_Print-112</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">(license)</a>
Being who you are is about being the best, most vibrant version of yourself. With our wellbeing so multifaceted, it’s important that we listen and maintain a healthy balance between our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual states.
Time and again I learn that in order to make a change in your life, the easiest and fastest way is to start by finding your happy place and then surrendering the how and the who to happy coincidence in circumstances. When it comes to dieting, it’s worth remembering that it’s your emotional state that drives your behaviours and actions.
This week I had a physical assessment in which I was told the energy systems in my body are working at far from optimal, around 30-40 %; the likely root cause being sugar and gluten. Growing up in the west of Scotland, where you can buy deep fried chocolate bars in the fish and chip shop, it’s probably fair to say that my diet is sub-optimal. However, it’s what’s driving me to eat the sugar and gluten that is more relevant.
There are a couple of times in my life where what I was eating became really important. Firstly, in my early twenties, when I was suffering from undiagnosed panic attacks, the doctor was bombarding me with antibiotics for chest infections (because one of the symptoms I had was chest pain… yes, I know it was pretty unbelievable) which then created a yeast issue. This led me to study Candida, its effects and links with diet, in quite a lot of depth. These days those links are all well understood, but back then the science was only emerging.
What released me from the symptoms wasn’t the diet. Understanding what was happening to my body, and why, helped me to let go of the feelings of fear that were driving them. All my other health issues then just dissipated.
Later, in my thirties, with four failed pregnancies behind me, along with a huge amount of angst around the trying and failing, I decided to set aside trying for a time and focus instead on my general health and wellbeing.
Just prior I had read a book by scientist Dee McCaffrey, on flourless and sugarless living. She was one of the original scientists who ‘recommended’ the food pyramid (the final published version was practically inverted due to the pressure from food manufacturers apparently).
Then, out of the blue, someone recommended a naturopath to me that had a lot of success in helping others have healthy babies. Knowing that he’d recommend a healthy diet and some herbs I felt a sense of dread at the time and effort it would require but, given all that I understood about the evils of sugar and flour, I decided to give it a try.
It was at this point I realised just how limited my knowledge of food was. Reading through the list of recommended grains (I hadn’t even thought of a world beyond wheat, oats and barley), it struck me how pervasive gluten and sugar is in our world. Knowing how extraordinarily difficult it was to cater for the anti-Candida diet I had tried briefly back in the early 1990’s, there was certainly a feeling of apprehension in thinking about embarking on a sugarless, flourless diet.
Within the first month (on both occasions) of altering my diet I fell pregnant and gave birth to two beautiful healthy babies, thus proving it can make a difference. However, more important than the diet, I had first let go of the sense of a lack of a pregnancy and switched focus to my general wellbeing.
Six years on, having breastfed two babies, worked full time for most of it and now the demands of parenting two young children while switching careers, I confess my dietary habits have slipped back into their old ways. I could go on a healthy diet and I’m sure it would give me more energy, but I’ve learned it’s really the hard way to go about things.
There’s no disputing that certain foods provide us with better energy than others, there’s a really simple universal principle that the closer a food is to its natural state, the better it is for your body. However, if you are relying on the diet to make you feel better, you really are making things hard for yourself.
Whatever change you want to see in your life, the easiest way, the fastest way to achieve it, is to get into alignment with the inner you. What that means is it is your job to feel good, because that is your indication you’re in tune with yourself. Think about a time when you were really happy, can you remember how easily things just seemed to flow? That is your natural state.
Your willpower is like a battery that gets depleted quicker than a Samsung Galaxy downloading a video. If you are embarking on a diet and you are not in the zone, in your natural state, your will battery will be pretty empty already. It’s a hard way to achieve what you want.
Feeling good is the key to your success. It might seem strange after all that we have been taught in our society, but if you want to make some real changes read the article Hating Your Way to Happiness to help you get in the zone and feel good.
Forget trying to force a diet, your first priority is to feel good about yourself, and then you will be naturally attracted to the foods that make you feel good. If you feel bad the golden arches might prove irresistible, or that bar of chocolate at the checkout, or the bottle of wine in the fridge... If you feel great you are more likely to notice the smell of the fresh fruit on the counter, or the sight of vegetables in a picture is more likely to start a creative process in your mind of putting together dinner.
Feel good and you’ll start to make healthy choices that are right for you, the real you.
This article was originally published on LinkedIn.
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