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Joy & Satisfaction

Where are you putting your energy? Or are you? Is it flowing, impacting the world around you or blocked up and withdrawn. Which is more likely to create a life of joy and satisfaction?

What if you could choose when to stop and when to expand out? Of course the answer is you can – but do you?

Is there someone you want to call but continue to put off calling? An activity that is about expanding versus withdrawing, going unconscious?

Stop – Make the call. Spend 15 minutes really talking and connecting to your son, daughter, mother, father or friend. Stop and connect with you – feel your own heart. Connect with you and then connect with someone else.

Happy New Year to you.

Why Be Alone When You Can Be Together

It’s a festive time of year. Lots of energy and excitement. Gatherings. Celebrations. Travel. For many this time of year is packed full of activities, events and parties. For others it can be a quieter time, more alone or even feeling secluded.

My point to this post – I find being in relationship and spending time with people I want to be around can be very enjoyable and nourishing. Can you imagine relationships as being nourishing?

If you can, set an intention and make a commitment to connecting with others over the holidays.

If you can’t, why not take a chance and give it a try this month. Set an intention to spend time making a phone call, getting together for coffee, for dinner or for a hockey game.

The point is, go for connection this holiday with individuals you want to connect with. You will be giving to yourself and others at the same time.

‘Tis The Season…I Need a Drink!

Five Tips for Maintaining Your Sanity

Last year I introduced our then 8 and 10 year old daughters to Christmas Vacation. It was fun to see the look on their faces during all of those crazy antics. I still love that movie. So much drama which no one in the movie seems to escape unscathed.

One of my favorite parts is when the brother-in-law is standing out in front of the Griswold’s house in his robe, a beer in his hand, draining his sewage into the rain runoff drain with a huge smile on his face – the look of bliss! The look on the neighbor’s face was priceless!

Ok, most of us won’t experience this level of chaos during the holidays. And yet, with all the energy that can surround this time of year many of us will find ourselves considering some type of escape from reality (like grabbing a beer). So I want to share some tips I included in an article I wrote for the Boulder Center for Conscious Community (BC3) newsletter.

Speculating I am not alone in my experience of big feelings during the holidays…I have five tips to share with you in support of your self care during the holidays. Reminders to…

  1. Take time to envision with intention the experiences you want to create over the holiday season.
  2. Take time for self care; time out for yourself in the midst of busy schedules and celebration.
  3. Allow yourself to have and accept whatever feelings you are experiencing, to acknowledge them with tenderness and care.
  4. Create a space, a pause in the midst of high emotions (when we are triggered?) to feel and be present with your feelings before you respond or react.
  5. Hold all of your feelings as an experience, not good or bad, but feelings that are like passing clouds, letting them pass along with any stories that may be triggered.

Here is wishing you the best this season, whoever you are and wherever you are!

Relationships and a Rich Life

A mentor of mine once told me that I needed community. I had no clue what he was talking about. I might have even went as far as to say I don't need anyone. I once prided myself on my "I can go it alone", "I'll do it myself", "I don't need any help", etc. Somewhere along the line I developed the story that it was better to go it alone.

Not too long after my mentor suggested I needed community I learned what he meant. In the course of 6 months I started a new career and moved away from a community of friends that I had developed deep bonds. With so much change in my life and so little in the way of supportive relationships, I went from feeling like I could conquer anything to feeling practically helpless. I went from having rich connection and support in my life to feeling like I was swimming in the ocean alone.

There is power in connection, in relationships, in community. They ground us. Our relationships can support us powerfully when we are climbing to that next peak or falling down a slope.

Do you want to make something happen in the world, in your life – connect, develop and cultivate relationships and communities that support you, that enrich your life.

The relationships that made the most profound impact on my life where not always the most comfortable. I sought out individuals that I could respect and trust to see me clearly. I want people in my life that want the best for me and who care enough about me to hold the bar up when I am unable or unwilling to do so myself. Love comes in many forms, tender and strong.

Hiding in the Past

I grew up in a family of nine kids.With so many of us around it was easy to get lost in the shuffle. It was also easy to play it safe, taking on a less visible role and contracting more than I was expanding on what I was creating in my life. Knowing what I know now, looking back I see times when I was hungry for more: more attention, support, love, recognition, etc. As an unaware child I can see how this all makes sense, both the wanting more and getting what I got. I may have wanted more but did not have the wherewithal to create more.

For several years after high school I lived in this similar mindset. I did set goals and go for more in my life but still played it safe, hid out in the shadow of others so as not to take up too much space or appear overzealous or needy. Taking this approach I did move ahead toward my goals but I did it while starving for attention, love, recognition and so on. I was moving my life ahead in the direction I wanted to go and hurting inside as I did so.

Over time I came to see that life does not require us to live in the shadows, starving for more. No, that way of life is optional and whether we are conscious of it or not, it is a choice. I came to see that I could expand my life creating more of what I wanted, more love, support, recognition and attention for myself. As a kid I might have been under the misconception that there is a limited amount of those things available to me or that it was bad to want them. Now I see that life can expand to allow everyone to experience more and it is I that chooses to see them as good/bad or a natural and healthy part of life.

As kids we may not have been aware of what was possible. As adults we can choose our awareness of what is possible. Books, videos, individuals, professionals and websites abound which provide all the opportunity we need to expand our consciousness of what is possible. As adults, we can choose to continue living how we lived as kids or we can change both the way we experience life and the course of our lives as well.

Expressing Anger Assertively

Anger does not need to be aggressive or hostile. In fact, aggressive anger is more likely to create separation, division and pain. The assertive expression of anger on the other hand, holds the prospect of bringing people together, creating positive change and drawing healthy boundaries.

Not everyone will respond positively to either hostile or assertive anger. And we should not try to control others reactions. In fact, in expressing anger in any form we cannot hold onto a given outcome. When we need someone to respond in a specific way we are trying to manipulate or control them.

When we let others react without expectation we are more likely to stay clear as to what we want or don’t want. Staying clear allows us to dynamically work through the situation or make decisions that change the situation to create what we want or don’t want.

One approach to expressing assertive anger can look like this:

1. When this happened (action/inaction/behavior/)

2. I felt ….. (mad, sad, angry, excited, happy, tender)

3. Because… (the impact or effect of the action/inaction/behavior)

4. My judgment (or story) about the situation is…

5. What I want (or don’t want) is….

Notice in this approach the focus of attention is placed on behavior, impact and me (using I statements). People are more likely to get defensive when we make the situation about them personally.

As you take this type of approach to expressing anger you increase the odds you will create a healthy outcome for you and those involved.

I am designing a online 12 week training program that will support individuals in expressing and responding to anger in a constructive way. If you interested contact me at ted (at) pivotalgrowth.com.

The Art of Connection

Over the past weekend I staffed a men's weekend, a retreat of sorts, attended by a total of 70 men. As a staff member there is a lot of ongoing preparation and work to keep everything running smoothly.

With that many men and so much to do things can get intense, egos can come into play, wanting to take center stage. Surprising as this may sound, egos were kept in check and the weekend ran smoothly. It was a great weekend with these men developing connection and relationship while working together.

So what do I credit for these men being able to create a relatively ego free weekend?

Speaking up to tell what is going on for them, as it relates to themselves and others. What causes a lot of unnecessary tension and strife in any relationship is the tendency to make assumptions and to create stories about what the other person might be thinking. What I saw and experienced on this weekend were men speaking up about their reactions to others. It was about saying what was true for them, having integrity and being authentic, not in a hostile ego way but in a "this is what is going on for me" way.

Is it always easy to say what is true in a relationship? No, it is not. Sometimes it takes a lot of courage. And sometimes it is going to be messy and not end the way we would like it. So why would you want to take the risk of a messy and confrontational situation?

Because real connection and rich relationships come from speaking up rather than avoiding or withholding. Do you want to really enjoy a connection with another individual – take the risk of speaking up. I find that 90% of the time my relationships become richer, deeper and more satisfying.

Learning how or getting better at saying what is true for us is an art. It takes practice and like creating art – each attempt is likely to be unique and to turn out as we would like through our repeated practice.

The How Did I Make that Happen Game

How Did I Make that Happen Game

Here is a great game that is similar to the game of Clue. The difference between these two games, you can play this game anytime and anywhere!

Take something in your life that you feel is "working" or "not working". Take that working or not working situation and start noodling on how you might have created that situation in your life. I don't mean just the actions you might have taken, but also the inaction, the beliefs, the intentions and the commitments. It may not come to you immediately, in fact, it might take quite a while.

Like playing the game of Clue – you learn who did what where by attentively looking at the different possibilities (clues)! The same holds true with understanding how we create the situations of our life – by attentiveness to what is leading up to (clues) the various situations of our lives.

Another way to play this game is to watch how you are creating the situations in your life from moment to moment. This second approach can be an exhilarating – watching in the moment allows us to make decisions (create our own clues) consciously thus giving us the possibility of altering the outcome to be more of what we want to create!!! Fun stuff, give it a try.

‘Tis the Season: Christmas Vacation

‘Tis the Season…National Lampoons Christmas Vacation

The holidays can be a time of celebration and good cheer, spending time with family and friends, enjoying eggnog, laughter, and possibly a bit of chaos. It can also be a time of high energy and strong emotions. We plan for the events themselves but not how we are going to experience this magnificent time of year.

After many years of letting the holidays happen to me I adjusted my approach to create more of what I wanted to experience. I have incorporated that same approach into my everyday life as well, but the holidays are often a time we get out of our routines. Without being conscious of those changes in routine life can start to happen to us versus us being in the flow of life.

National Lampoons Christmas Vacation

As I thought about writing this article the movie “National Lampoons Christmas Vacation” came to mind as a great way to illustrate my points. There is not a moment in that movie in which something unexpected does not happening. It is such a mix of people, personalities and opinions. Although this movie may be an exaggeration of life we all experience something similar some time in our lives.

Let’s take a look at 5 ways we can approach the holidays that will allow us create deeper joy and satisfaction.

5 Ways to Create More Joy & Satisfaction

Let’s take a look at 5 ways we can approach the holidays that will allow us create deeper joy and satisfaction.

Vision

Clark Griswold has a vision of his house lit up with thousands of lights.

Vision is having a picture in your mind of what you want to create. It allows us to think things through and to plan ahead, not only the logistics but also how we will take care of ourselves in the process (e.g., plenty of rejuvenation time).

After having created a vision, it is also important to let go, to allow that vision to unfold in it’s own way. See Flow and Control below.

Expectations

Ellen and Clark Griswold discuss having both of their parents come to stay at their house for the holidays. Ellen tries to tell Clark how bad it could be to have everyone there…Clark does not want to hear it.

Having a vision is good start, having realistic expectations allows us to keep a semblance of perspective. Expectations are equally or perhaps even more important when our plans involve others. Letting others know what to expect provides them with an opportunity prepare appropriately.

If you remember this scene, an important part of creating a vision and setting expectations with others is listening to the feedback you might receive.

Flow and Control

After Clark Griswold spends hours over several days trying to get the house covered with lights he cannot get the lights to come on. In a fit of rage Clark begins kicking and tearing apart the Santa and reindeer set he has in the front lawn.

One of the fasted ways to lose our cool is to determine that events have to unfold a certain way. Life is organic. As much as we plan, life will unfold in it’s own way. A vision and our intention are important, it can improve our odds of creating what we want, but life will unfold as it does and we cannot control it. By going with the flow of life we can adjust to the way it is and continue making the decision that will lead in the direction we want to go.

I have found laughter and playfulness to be great avenues for shifting my perspective when I am caught in a need to control events or other individuals in my life.

Time Out

After many unexpected events (e.g., getting a year membership in the jelly of the month club from his job instead of a bonus, inlaws continued arguing, cousin showing up, tree burning down) Clark has a breakdown. On his weigh to cutting down a tree in the lawn he decides to "fix" the loose stair post – by cutting it off with the chain saw!

Even if your life is not as eventful as Clark Griswold there are times we all need to stop and rejuvenate ourselves. When we have a lot going on during the holidays it is easy to get caught up without considering our personal need for down time.

There are many ways to take a time out. It could be a couple of minutes of conscious breathing, exercising, time with a friend or family member, a nap etc. It does not have to be extreme or time consuming, it is what works for you.

Changing Your Mind

At first Clark is enraged at his boss feeling like a victim to his decision not to give a bonus. When Clark's cousin drags his boss into his house Clark has a choice between staying angry about his situation or taking ownership of the mess he had created. Taking ownership of his feelings and expressing himself in a constructive way earned him a bonus +20%.

We all make plans and conscious or even unconscious commitments, it is one of the ways we create what we want in our life. Most of the time we may be able to fulfill those plans and commitments, but there are times that things change because life is not static. Our life is not static, future events are not static and our feelings are not static.

Giving ourselves the option of changing our mind provides us the flexibility we need to honor our wants and needs, allowing us to flow with life versus trying to control life.

Happy Holidays to you and yours!