Sunday, January 10, 2016

Focus. Energy. and the Universe

Energy is power. 
Where we focus our attention is where our energy is spent. 
Where we spend our energy is what becomes our perception. 
Perception is what fuels our decisions. 
Decisions are how we build our lives. 

Living PowerLife helps to explain the connection between focus, energy, and power. This lifestyle gives space and guidance for eliminating the many ways we misuse our power and focus our attention on thoughts and feelings that inhibit our development. This post will explain how we can recognize when our egos are giving us opportunities that, when explored, result in freedom from stumbling blocks that consistently keep us from succeeding.

When I discovered how to include my ego in the work of recognizing the power I had in every situation and using that power to move forward, I felt as though a huge weight had been lifted off my chest. I literally cried from relief. Relief from realizing that life was not a battle. Life was more of a dance where all involved have a crucial role in creating a beautiful work of art.

A quote from Carl G. Jung is a good place to start to explore what this means:

Anyone who has any ego-consciousness at all takes it for granted that he knows himself. But the ego knows only its own contents, not the unconscious and its contents. People measure their self-knowledge by what the average person in their social environment knows of himself, but not by the real psychic facts which are for the most part hidden from them. In this respect the psyche behaves like the body, of whose physiological and anatomical structure the average person knows very little too. "The Undiscovered Self," 491.

Ego can work with us or against us. Once we understand...
  • how ego contributes to the quality of life 
  • when ego enhances the ability to obtain goals 
  • what to do when ego interferes with the growth process
... a powerful collaboration between Universe, spirit, and human is forged. This collaboration is how focus, attention, and energy come together to make what we once believed to be impossible, possible. The best way that I know to illustrate how this powerful trio works is to give a real-life example from my personal experiences.

Some of you know that I sing. Most of my singing experience, until recently, had not been gospel. Soon after I moved to Oregon, however, I was invited to join an African American gospel choir. The fact that they were not affiliated with a church was my first reason for considering their invitation. The fact that I had little experience singing in this genre was the second. The fact that they were more than a choir; they were a community of people from a wide range of age and ethnicity, some of whom had a history of over 20 years together. I joined.

Time passed. I became comfortable with the style of singing. One evening during rehearsal, the director invited me to take the lead in one of the songs we were learning. I accepted the invitation first because I was curious about how I would do and second because I always wanted to successfully sing a solo. My first attempt was rocky but not awful and this was encouraging.

At the same time, I was coming to terms with what my close call with suicide the year before meant. Part of that process was realizing what I would have missed had I succeeded (the birth of my youngest granddaughter being just one of many joyous occasions). Another was enjoying getting to know the many genuinely good people I had met since leaving Boston. During the same time, I noticed that the progress I was making on my solo was inconsistent. There were times during rehearsal that I could not connect emotionally with the lyrics which meant that I sang from my head only. Then there were times when I felt the beginnings of an emotional connection which became a distraction--either I would slip into a key that was not in my range, or forget the lyrics, or...

My daily discipline of meditation revealed that I was actually working against myself which was why the progress on my solo was not proceeding smoothly. This happened after a particularly difficult rehearsal when I had to stop singing for a few minutes because the words would not come. I was switching from connecting with the lyrics with my head and my heart; that night the heart won. I was able to recover and finish, barely, the song. After, I revealed to the choir that before moving to Oregon I came very close to ending my life and the lyrics of my solo describe how I was able to pull through that time. From then my progress quickened and the result is I sing the song from my heart with my head as the guide. Each time I sing, the song is a little different because the union of my spirit, my body, and the audience results in different outcomes.

Moving from not being able to fully connect with the lyrics of my solo or getting lost in the lyrics took focused work during my daily meditation. Part of that work meant being curious to know more about the energy behind the vacillation. By opening up and asking the Universe to guide me in understanding why I was unable to, in gospel music terms, 'make the song mine' I saw how my ego was working against my goal. In the process an opportunity for growth became visible. In other words, my ego was giving me a chance to give direction for how she could contribute in a helpful way to the overall success with my goals.

First, during meditation I had to set aside time for my ego to do what I call 'vent' about how she is doing. Early in this process I found that there were times when ego was carrying around emotions from experiences that were anywhere from hurtful to just annoying. As time went on, I had to set aside less time for ego to vent. The turn around came the day I felt the weight lift off my shoulders. Ego, once getting the message that things were going to change, was greatly relieved to know that she was no longer going to be expected to be involved in areas that were beyond her reach. Indeed, her work in my life was to bring joy, passion, and opportunities for growth.

Second, I had to develop a way to communicate to ego in the moment that she was dabbling in areas that were not hers. What worked, and still does, is to tell her to drop it when thoughts or feelings that are counter to obtaining particular goals come up. A simple example is when I realize that I am thinking about what can go wrong in a particular situation, I now know that this is my ego and I tell her to drop it. I can then refocus my attention to thoughts that will help ensure that I succeed with the project at hand.

Third, I had to instruct ego in what to do with the unhelpful feelings and thoughts until she could vent during meditation. This meant that drop it had to meant put them in a temporary holding area. One such area is the earth where things are transformed. For example, seeds are transformed into plants and trees in the earth. Death is transformed into life through fertilizing plants, and feeding insects. Unhelpful thoughts and feelings can be transformed into productive energy.

Fourth, and this is the most important, I developed the habit of acknowledging when ego was helpful in the daily routine of living a Living PowerLife lifestyle.

This is the first post for 2016. May you have a prosperous, abundant, healthy, safe, peaceful, joyous, grateful, and loving year. I leave you with these thoughts until next time...

  • There is a part of you that holds your joy and your pain. Honor her and give him space to be seen.
  • There are times when the best thing you can think is a version of 'drop it.' Spend part of every day developing the ability to recognize those times.
  • The more you make room for your unhelpful thoughts and feelings, the less room they will need. 
  • Negative feelings and positive feelings are situational and based on perception. Look at the effects of these and determine which you want to grow and which you want to weed, instead.
From my PowerLife to yours,

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Review, Rethink, Rejuvenate, Reboot

Today I can share that I am no longer the same person who started Living PowerLife. My perception has changed. My expectations have changed. My lifestyle has changed. My health has changed. Consequently, my decisions about what I do, say, and who I allow close to me are different. As I reviewed these differences, memories from my childhood came back. I remembered being naturally drawn to healthy food such as fresh fruit, honey, and vegetables. I remembered having to be encouraged to eat food with refined sugar and starch. In addition, I was a child with a happy disposition but my expectations changed over the years. Growing up and accommodating society's expectations, taught me to believe I was inferior; believe that I did not deserve to be happy. All of the above had negative effects on the quality of my physical, emotional, and spiritual states. In Living Life in Reverse I, Living Life in Reverse II, and Living Life in Reverse III you can read about this in more detail.

Little did I know that developing and following the Living PowerLife approach to health and well-being would result in reviewing, rethinking, rejuvenating and finally rebooting everything about me. I reviewed past decisions for wisdom, rethought how those decisions could have been different, and rejuvenated my mind, body, and spirit through a wholesome approach to life that included physical, spiritual, and emotional upgrades. My upgrades came with a cost; I had to come to terms with my own mortality.

Only through facing and overcoming the frightening fact that one day I would die was I able to look at the past, present, and future with the same eyes. Coming face to face with my own mortality empowered me to transcend the distractions I used to avoid personal growth. These are the distractions that allowed me to avoid reviewing my decisions in retrospect.

We all use distractions to keep from facing things we do not want to know about ourselves. Distractions such as blame, where we see others as the source of our problems. Anger, when we lash out in efforts to cause pain in others, rather than face why we hurt from within. Drug, food, sex, and alcohol abuse where we over-indulge in efforts to mask our feelings of guilt, loneliness, and inadequacy.

These distractions keep us isolated from one another and more importantly, we are unable to connect with all of who we are. We can see an example of how distractions separate us and stop us from maturing in the current tensions between communities and the police. The talking heads, news papers, social media, and broadcasts are full of distractions such as racism, gun control, and legal justice. In the process, we are only becoming further and further apart from one another based on political, ethnic, or cultural differences. We are less able to see the common needs that connect us as humans, while we focus more on the particulars that make us appear different from one another.

Thinking about the fact that we are given a limited number of days, can frighten and paralyze us. Knowing and consciously accepting this limitation can also empower us. Empower us to see each day as a gift not to be wasted on actions that come from pride, fear, or bigotry. Accepting our own mortality empowers us to focus on ways to rejuvenate our minds, bodies, and spirits with each new day. This means that instead of making choices that separate us from self and one another, we can make life-giving choices that build connections. Rather than succumb to the challenges that we face, we can hold on to the knowledge that no one event or person has the power to diminish who we are.

Indeed, the day we become consciously aware that we will one day lose our lives, is the day we gain the calm confidence to live life completely. The time we understand that any minute can be our last is time we begin to make every moment worth remembering. I know this because one of the benefits of acknowledging and overcoming the challenge described in You Are the Answer is gaining fearlessness.

Now, do not get me wrong. I do not think I can leap tall buildings in a single bound email me if you got this reference. I still avoid pain and understand what could happen if I walk out into moving traffic. The fearlessness I am describing is based on freedom from anxiety. Freedom from the problems any mind can create. With fearlessness, or freedom from anxiety, we own life, powerless is not a word, and the miracle of a rebooted mind takes place.

Rebooting a mind is similar to rebooting a computer. When the computer is sluggish or crashes sometimes taking it to a time before the crash will restore the machine. This is how I experience the results of following Living PowerLife to date; my mind has been restored to a time before I went down the path that led to living a disjointed, fearful life.

One example is that my taste for food is different. A few days ago I realized that, after eating mayonnaise on my sandwiches for decades, I now prefer mustard which has less fat. This is a simple example but significant in the long run. A more complex example is the fact that I no longer have the need to address rudeness from others. When I encounter rude people, I do not have to internally fight the urge to respond. The feeling simply is not there any longer.

Coming to terms with the fact that we all will ultimately die, gives us courage to recognize our mistakes and use the lessons they contain to become better. These are the mistakes we can only see if we are willing to rethink how we lived and be open to new perspectives. Understanding the fact that death is the one thing we all have in common, frees us to focus on the work of becoming better at eliminating the perceived differences that separate us from one another. In addition, accepting death as part of living gives us the ability to refrain from wasting time and energy on situations that are beyond our control.

I leave you today with these thoughts as we recognize, claim, and live the power we have in every situation:
  • The more things you know you can live without, the more power you have to overcome adversity.
  • Realizing that life is limited and living accordingly is how we leave anxiety behind.
  • Whenever you can, regularly take time out from the Internet.
  • If your health allows, regularly fast (this does not include water).
  • When you take time out and fast, meditate more and listen for your inner voice.
  • Keep those who live in love rather than anger close.
  • Understand that those who live in anger are full of anxiety.

May your year be prosperous, full of love, and peaceful. Until my next entry...

From my PowerLife to yours,

Sunday, January 4, 2015

You Are the Answer

While sitting in front of my computer for the umpteenth time, hoping to complete another installment of Living PowerLife, I wondered if my mind would freeze, again. I wondered if there would be no more than a few nondescript sentences when I stopped, again. Most of all, I wondered how long this frustrating writer's block, which had been going on since September 2014, would continue.

Yet, I also felt for the first time in months the familiar tingle in my stomach that always came before I began to write. Tingle meant hope. Yes, my hope was high this time not only because of the tingle but also because this was my first attempt at writing in a new year. In addition, I had new insight and felt that I would finally succeed in describing a struggle that shocked, shamed, and frightened me to the core last summer.

What follows may be difficult to read but take consolation in the fact that I overcame. I came out stronger and even more able to recognize, claim, and use my power to build a better life. While reading, you may wonder why I made this public. I grappled with the same question only to realize that shame fueled my hesitation to write about this. After careful consideration, though I concluded that my experience needed to be known because this struggle affects us all. Any one of us can find without warning that we are in the middle of a life/death struggle.

Indeed, just as we all are susceptible, we all can learn from my experience. What we learn can then be a base for recognizing and using the power that we have, even when our very lives are at stake. In addition, those of us who love someone who is currently experiencing this life/death struggle, will learn that the most we can do to help is make our love known. The struggle, you may have guessed, is over whether to commit suicide, or not.
Suicide. A word that we avoid using. A word that strikes fear in our hearts.

Suicide. A word for deciding to give up, leave loved ones behind, end our life.

Years ago, I had a close friend who committed suicide. She did not leave a note. She did, however, visit me just days before taking her life. For decades I agonized over whether there was something that I could have said or done. Did I miss an opportunity to save my friend from herself?

Now, after experiencing and overcoming my owwen struggle, I know the answer to that tormenting question: NO. While there are things that I may have done differently with the wisdom that comes from age, nothing, short of my friend, would have ultimately stopped her from shooting a bullet through her heart. I know this because when I had thoughts of suicide in June 2014, I was the only person with the power to save me from myself.

Saving myself, though meant recognizing and accepting the shocking reality that I was in the emotionally, spiritually, and physically dangerous state of suicide. I use the term state of suicide because that is how it felt. I saw and understood everything in the context of living or not. During this time, I did not talk to anyone about my state of being. Indeed, at the time of this publication, only one other person knew, after the fact, how close I came to taking my life. No one knew because I enclosed myself within my state. There, no one could reach me or influence my decisions.

Because of my education and professional experience, I was able to make a solid self-assessment. I knew that I was one step away from taking action. Imagine my shock and horror as I realized that, even though I withstood several life changing events that brought me stress and distress, I was not immune. Despite the fact that I endured, accepted, and learned to thrive while extracting myself from several toxic relationships, nothing protected me from wanting to destroy myself. Even after I came to terms with the past and moved on, stronger, wiser, and less likely to be fooled by the liars of the world, I was not above feelings that revealed I no longer wanted to live.

My shame is what kept me from talking to anyone and mixed feelings were why I felt shame. On one hand, I had a wonderful family that I spent the majority of my adult life teaching, protecting, and loving. I was a successful single mother and seeing the fruit of my labor was, and is, one of my main inspirations. In addition, my life had become my own. I was far better at recognizing and using my power to make the best decisions possible. I felt better than I had in decades and was grateful for all that shaped the person I called me.

At the same time, out of the blue I received bad news that felt like a mortal blow to my psyche. This blow brought into view just how tenuous life is and reminded me of all that I had lost over years. The details, other than the news was economically based, are not important; any threatening news at the right time and condition could have the same deadly affect. The timing of my blow was such that it threatened to stop the progress that I was making to have a better life. The condition was that I could not envision a way to withstand; I could not see my way out of the situation because the threat came from the government. The result was that, over a period of a few weeks, I slipped into a state of suicide.

Fear came from what I thought was coming and what I imagined would happen. Because of this, seemingly, all-powerful threat I was afraid to die and afraid to live. I was afraid of the unknown. Fear of the unknown was something that I had worked for years to overcome. Yet, I found myself in the middle of my worst fears with not even one clue about how to get out. Shock, shame, and fear were the veils that covered me during this time. They made an invisible barrier that separated me and everyone else. They were the foundation, and the fuel for my state of suicide.

Holding on to and remembering the people I loved, and who loved me is how I found my way out. Even while I planned a way to leave this world, I also thought about how people would be affected. Spending a lifetime of learning, and accepting how my actions affected others, meant that I automatically thought about how people would be affected by my decision.

My daughters came to mind, and I wondered about the message I would leave them if I followed through. My parents came to mind, and I knew that my action would be the worst insult to them. I thought about everyone who had shown that they believed in me, and valued my presence in the past. I acknowledged that my action would be like a slap in their faces. Then, I thought about my grandchildren and that stopped me in my tracks.

Through my grandchildren, I could see how the future would be affected in a very negative way by my hand. I could not rest with that possibility. For you see, members of my family have overcome terrible conditions such as slavery, lynching, illness, and death. Through everything, suicide was not an option. I would have been the first and I could not let that be my legacy. From this point, I slowly started to tear away the veils. I began to accept that this problem had a solution and ending my life was not it.

Then, I went to what I knew worked. I sought out, and identified the power that I had at that moment. I could stop. I could wait. I could let time reveal a way out. I could talk to someone about what the government was threatening to do. I knew that ending my life was permanent; suicide had no retakes. Consequently, I decided to wait. I did this mainly by saying, one day at a time, that I would not act until I had slept on things. Also, I made myself sit with not knowing what would happen or how I would solve my problem. I made my mind slow down and meditate more than my usual routine. This kept me conscious of the fact that I was connected to the Universe and to God. Ultimately, after weeks of internal fighting, I rejected the possibility of suicide. Also during this time, I found the solution to my looming problem and began taking the steps that I needed for resolution.

Months later on January 1, 2015 is when I became aware of the insight that I needed to end my writer's block. Often, I awake with thoughts, or ideas in my mind. This is why I always sleep with pen and paper nearby. I write these thoughts down before they fade away as I become fully awake. This particular morning I woke up knowing what happens when we use our power to change for the better. I realized that the Living PowerLife blog gives real-life examples of the life-long process of obtaining and maintaining balance. The following is a summary:
  • We succeed only if we start by changing the imbalance in ourselves
  • Once we find balance our immediate surroundings will adjust accordingly
  • People we once called friends may fall by the wayside
  • People we never knew existed will fall within our view
  • Guidance will surround us as we learn to listen and follow
  • Communities will change for the better as individuals achieve balance
  • There are no quick fix, special knowledge, secret diet, all knowing leader, or magic pill
  • Nature heals
  • Sometimes the Universe sends help in the form of people
  • Knowing when to let go is one aspect of lasting peace

To everyone who has (or is) struggled with thoughts of suicide, I hope that my experience gives you some encouragement. Please do not hesitate to get professional help if things get too much to handle alone.

To those who have lost someone to suicide, myself included, I hope that my post gives you comfort.

Remember that no matter how bad things get, we are gifts to the world. No matter what problem comes our way, we have power. We have a connection, and that connection holds the answers, and strength we need to succeed. We are saviours, warriors, sages, and shamans. All we have to do is continue to:
  • Know
  • Believe
  • Live

From my PowerLife to yours in 2015,

Friday, July 4, 2014

Living PowerLife's Hold or Fold

Bow out and move on or remain and work for improvement? Cut my loss or invest more in the outcome? Will I rue the day I walked away? Will I lament the moment I decided to stay?

Relationships require hard work and consistent care. They either can fill our lives with love and inspiration or be the distractions that keep us from maturing. In this post, learn how stay/leave thoughts, fueling emotions, and value doubts come together to form Living PowerLife’s Hold or Fold method for developing healthier relationships and gaining new personal insight.

My childhood is full of fond memories from the Saturday mornings my father and I spent together cultivating our lawn. Just about every weekend we would till, plant, water, and weed the small patch of land around our home in Detroit. This was our ‘together time’ and I loved it. To this day, one of my favorite hobbies is tilling the earth and growing plants for beauty and nourishment. Working to build and maintain positive relationships with people is similar to growing a garden. We nurture them with our time and energy. We understand them as reflections of who we are.

Relationships: Mirrors for Our Psyche 
All of our relationships reveal the feelings, needs, expectations, and wants that shape our lives and inform our decisions. This is why consistent evaluation of the relationships that we have is an important exercise for gaining personal insight. See Living PowerLife II: Friends or Lovers for more. Each relationship has the capacity to be either a source of beauty and support or distraction and pain in our lives. Knowing which is which, along with having the tools to respond effectively, is the difference between knowing flowers from weeds and having the ability to nurture the garden that we want. 

Stay/Leave Thoughts 
Stay/leave thoughts are the first indication that there are problems in a relationship. As adults, many of us have had vague questions about the value of staying with a person or group. Maybe we wondered whether to remain friends or lovers with someone. Or, we spent sleepless nights weighing the pros and cons of leaving a community. In the presence of stay/leave thoughts, we can use our power to respond in two different ways. We either can consciously consider the thoughts and allow the feelings beneath to surface or dismiss the thoughts and avoid the feelings altogether. As has become the Living PowerLife custom, we will look at a few real-life examples for illustration.

Years ago while I was distracted by a dysfunctional relationship, I had stay/leave thoughts. In retrospect, I can see that I consistently responded by ignoring them. Today, a response that I regretted for years highlights an important lesson; when having stay/leave thoughts, pay attention. Perhaps if I had known then that my stay/leave thoughts meant I was in trouble, rather than a needless worrier, I would not have been so consistent in dismissing them. On the same token, if I had understood the importance of the feelings beneath, I would have gained the insight needed for my growth sooner rather than later. 

Fueling Emotions 
The fuel for stay/leave thoughts is emotion or feelings. Think of fueling emotions as the momentum for progressing from vague stay/leave thoughts to specific questions to evaluate a relationship. They are how we move from stay/leave thoughts to value doubts. When we identify our fueling emotions and use them to make connections to past and present experiences, we learn about the places where we are emotionally stymied. In addition, we learn more about what causes us to stay or leave. There are several main fueling emotions.

Sometimes we are afraid and want to run away. This feeling should be explored first; real danger in the form of abuse could be present. If this is the case, get help. Go to ‘related links’ at the end of this post to get started. Other fueling emotions are feeling trapped, helpless, disappointed, sad, or angry. We may feel trapped in a relationship or helpless to find a way to improve. These feelings can be an indication that we are holding on to a relationship that should be released because we are afraid of the unknown. We may feel angry or sad because we are disappointed. These feelings reflect that we are stuck trying to resolve past mistakes or hurts. We recreate relationships that represent past conflicts in hopes that we will find a resolution. We become disappointed, sad, or angry when this method ultimately fails. 

Value Doubts 
Value doubts are how we assess the benefits and detriments of remaining with a group or person. Value doubts are also an effective means for developing deeper personal insight. This means that they have the capacity to improve our lives on both the interpersonal and personal levels. There are two main incentives for value doubts. Determining incentive is where we gain knowledge about how past experiences shape present decisions. The two possible incentives are avoidance and self-preservation. Avoidance means that we want to evade addressing behavior that is inhibiting growth. Self-preservation means that deep down in our ‘gut’ we know something in the relationship threatens our health and well-being.

In every relationship, there is an exchange. We spend our time, give attention, and invest emotions in relationships that either yield positive or negative results primarily. A relationship can enhance our life, threaten our well-being, or serve as a distraction. Examining the quality of, along with our reasons for cultivating, a relationship leads to consciously building a network of support while we become free from efforts to redo the past. When using value doubts remember the history of the relationship. Look for ongoing successes or struggles and decide if there is an overall theme. In addition, consider the personal changes the relationship has engendered. 

Determining Incentive: Avoidance or Self-preservation 
We have a need for value doubts because something is either missing or present in a relationship. Either we have a need that is not being met or an aspect of the relationship represents something we want to avoid. Often we recognize needs far easier than the things we want to avoid. Being sexually aroused, for instance, is easier to recognize than understanding the connection between anonymous sex and loneliness. This means that when evaluating relationships and determining incentive, expect to be able to identify some aspects more easily than others. For instance, recognizing a need for more hugs from someone might be easier than understanding what intimacy means to us in the context of personal history. 

Ever wondered about the reasoning behind remaining in a relationship long after time to leave? Or, recognized ‘red flags’ in retrospect? This could mean that we were na├»ve at the time and had lessons to learn. More often, we started or stayed in an incompatible relationship because we wanted to avoid the work of personal growth. Here is a real-life example:

In the earlier example we see the importance of paying attention when we have stay/leave thoughts. This relationship is also a good illustration for understanding the ways in which what we want to avoid affects our ability to make good decisions. One of the reasons why I stayed in the dysfunctional relationship mentioned above was an unacknowledged fear of being alone. At that time in my life, I avoided being alone at all cost. Indeed, one of my greatest fears was being alone in the world. Because I believed the relationship represented always having someone in my life, I refused to recognize my stay/leave thoughts and the feelings beneath them. Consequently, I avoided exploring the incentive for my value doubts. The longer I avoided this process, the longer it took me to understand why I was willing to keep people in my life regardless of how I was treated. 

Incentive Questions: Avoidance 
These questions reveal whether the incentive for your value doubts is avoidance. The goal here is to determine whether answers can be communicated through brief concrete sentences that are not emotionally based. When the answers cannot be written in short concise sentences, this indicates that in incentive is avoidance. Descriptive words such as ‘disrespectful’ or ‘confrontational’ indicate that the answers are emotionally generated which means the incentive is avoidance. For instance writing, ‘Luke treated me dishonestly’ or ‘Cindy was disrespectful’ reflects how we feel about the behavior of Luke and Cindy rather than anything they actually did. In addition, the statements need to be explained further, thereby they require more than a few short sentences. 

When I am with this person/group do I feel: 
  •  Afraid? Sad? Angry? Disappointed?  
  • Do I feel internal pressure to behave or speak in particular ways? 
  •  If so, what am I pressed to say or do? 
  •  Does this relationship remind me of others that I have/had?  
  • If similar relationship is from the past, how did it end? 
  •  If similar relationship is current, am I having stay/leave thoughts?  
  • Can I write (in short, concise sentences) the reasons why I am afraid, sad, angry, or disappointed?’
These questions have the fact that they focus on personal feelings and memories. Through considering and answering each, we obtain our first indication for the quality of a relationship as well as insight into possible feelings we are seeking to avoid facing. Your answers will be the starting point for the difficult work of connecting past experiences with the effects of present decisions. The following is a real-life illustration: 

Recently, I used Living PowerLife’s Hold or Fold method to determine the incentive for my value doubts regarding a small group to which I belonged. My stay/leave thoughts came after I experienced consistent and inappropriately hostile behavior mainly from 2 members in the group. Their behavior revealed that they both were living with a deep level of anger and denial. Considering the fueling emotions for my stay/leave thoughts revealed that I was very sad and somewhat afraid. When I tried to answer the avoidance questions in short concise sentences, I could not. My incentive was avoidance. 

Self-preservation as an incentive for value doubts means that our gut is warning us that something is wrong. Perhaps we have noticed the inconsistency and confusion that reveal the presence of dishonesty. Maybe destructive behavior is part of the dynamics of the relationship. The goal here is to understand that, while we may not know all of the particulars, something is harmful about the relationship. A very simple real-life example illustrates this: 
In Living PowerLife III: Ready. Set. Date! I mention using the information there to determine whether to continue to date a particular person. The process for this revealed that the person and I were incompatible which is how I came to the decision very early to end the dating relationship. 

Incentive Questions: Self-preservation 
Answers such as, ‘Luke lied to me while giving eye to eye contact’ or ‘Cindy sat across from me and yelled that I was not worth the trouble I was causing’ are examples of brief, concrete responses. These statements are emotionally charged but they are not emotionally generated. They reflect that the relationship should either end or change drastically. I have found this discovery far less complicated because the questions revolve around compatibility and safety rather than internal emotions. 
When I am with this person/group… 
  • Communication means we take time to both talk and listen. 
  • Our major values or standards  are compatible.
  •  Misunderstandings can be addressed together. 
  • There is honesty between us. 
  • The level of commitment demonstrated is comparable.

These questions have the facts that they are externally focused and have more than one person involved in common. Your answers will be the foundation from which you decide whether to continue, change, or end a relationship. 

From Me to You 
Understand that you’re in the middle of this relationship and your thinking may be clouded. In addition, if sex is involved your thinking and feelings may be even more difficult to clarify. Be patient and if you’re not sure what to do, take a break and give yourself time and space to think. If you have a trustworthy person in your life, talk to that person but only if this is comfortable for you both. Don’t make decisions that you will have to live with based on what another says, but do take what they think into consideration. 

If you are in a relationship, co-worker, boss, or family member for example, that requires you to stay for a while include a strategy for making the changes that you need without causing unnecessary hardships. While this type of change is never easy, try to make choices that reflect a balance between complete disregard for another’s feelings and being paralyzed by the fear of doing harm. Once you decide what to do, make sure that you can write down your reasons. Keep your written reasons where you can revisit them throughout the process.

Also, keep in mind that realizing it’s time to move on doesn’t equal defeat or failure. Deciding to remain isn’t a reflection of your weakness. Instead, making a conscious decision that is grounded in self-reflection and the result of personal growth reveals that you have the courage to face your fears and take steps to become free. As you move to better your life, resist feeling guilty. When you accept your responsibility in the relationship seriously and acknowledge the times when your behavior caused another pain or discomfort, guilt becomes what it is--a useless mental exercise that only has negative effects. 

Finally, as always, don’t hesitate to seek help if your feelings or thoughts become overwhelming. And remember, I’m just a confidential email away.

From my PowerLife to yours,

2013. All rights reserved. May not be used without written permission.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Funding Your Lifestyle

This is the next installment on using your power to identify, claim and fund the life you were meant to have. If you are new and have not yet read Money or Power, you may want to go back and do the exercises before moving forward. If you have read Money or Power, you should now have a clearer picture of what you actually need to be happy and healthy. Also, if you are anything like me, you probably found that you have far more than you need to be happy. In addition, you are probably beginning to think about what you should do with all the stuff you have decided is not crucial in life. If so, I have included a few suggestions at the end of this blog post to help.

We all have basic needs that include food, shelter and clothing. These needs are what we have in common with every living creature in this world. We also have responsibilities. Some of us have minor children or elderly parents that need our care, attention and resources. We have financial obligations that come with being a contributing member of society, family and community.  In other words, living in the world as an adult includes taking care of our own basic needs and responsibilities to the best of our capability. This means that a personal approach to identifying and claiming a new life will be tweaked according to what each individual needs to do to care for basic needs and responsibilities. There is no cookie cutter approach for success. Consequently, the Living PowerLife approach to funding the life we are meant to have is not an invitation to ignore obligations or to become (or continue to be) a freeloader. Indeed, this is an invitation to use our power to make future decisions that will lead to living a new way with new opportunities. 

While taking care of basics and responsibilities, we all can become bogged down or even trapped in a certain mind set. This frame of mind leads to a certain kind of behavior. To understand the mindset, I imagine a treadmill. On this treadmill we run to catch a prize that changes unexpectedly and is always just out of reach. We constantly work to get more money so that we can buy the latest and the best gadgets. We continuously compare what we have and how we look to images in magazines, the next door neighbor, a colleague, a friend… We do not sleep well at night because thoughts about how to buy or make the next payment for the latest social upgrade possession distract us from relaxing and finding peace.

If any of this feels familiar, more than likely you are on the Keep up with the Jones’ Treadmill with the rest of us. Roads to Jones’ Treadmill are plentiful but the main access is through living beyond our means. Living beyond our means most often occurs because we believe we deserve the same life that we think our neighbors are living rather than the one our budgets can support. Advertising executives depend on our adherence to this belief to get us into stores. Bankers bet on this belief to get us in debt. Marketing professionals use this belief to create a desire for often useless gadgets. Remember the Ginsu Knives?

While on Jones’ Treadmill, the life, joy and opportunities each day has to offer is overshadowed by envy, greed, anxiety or lust. We look around and instead of seeing the beauty of nature, the diversity of humanity or magnificence of architecture we see what others have or are wearing. We envy those who appear to have more than we do. We lust after the current ‘must have’ designer label and greedily accumulate more. More shoes, more suits, more designer bags... We become anxious when faced with the possibility of not being able to get More. 

Here is a small real-life example of what happens when we are invested in Jones’ Treadmill: A few days ago, while riding the subway, I noticed a young person who was talking on the phone with someone about not being able to access a social media account. As I watched, this person became more and more agitated because the account was not allowing access. The person was dressed in the latest designer clothing and had the most up to date phone.

As the subway trip continued and the person tried different approaches to resolve the technical problem, tears started to flow. The person was clearly anxious and sad. I do not know what else was going on in this person’s life, but at that time, the day was sunny. The weather was nice. There were people all around laughing and talking and the person with the social media problem was oblivious to this all. The world was, literally, passing by unnoticed because of a glitch in a technical gadget.

While we may not be reduced to tears because we cannot access our social media account, just how invested we are in Jones’ Treadmill is revealed when we take inventory and make need assessments of our belongings. If, for instance, we have 10 pairs of black shoes collecting dust in the back of our closets and they are very similar or almost identical this means that we are buying into the belief that we should have what we see on others. This is indicative of the fact that we are running Jones’ Treadmill. Likewise, if our second bedroom closet is full of clothes that we have not worn for at least 1 year, say hello to Jones’ Treadmill.

Realizing that most of the items in your inventory will not bring you happiness, is the first step off the treadmill.  The first step is always the most difficult step to take. Because of this, I encourage you to be patient with yourself. Reading this blog and following the steps means that you are now moving in the direction that will lead to your powerful lifestyle which is the most import thing to remember. As you remember to go easy on yourself, we will now begin one of the most crucial stages of this process; developing the plan that will bring the changes you want and need. In Living PowerLife style, I will use my experience as an example:

I am a person who likes to dress well, go out with friends on occasion, spend time with my family, and have dependable transportation.  Among other things, I enjoy reading, music, a good single malt and premium cigars. I also do not have an unlimited supply of money. In fact, many would say that my money is tight. For many years, I agreed. I believed that I never had enough money to do what I thought I wanted to do. My mantra was: when I get this raise, degree, job… I will then have enough money to… The more money I made, the more money I spent. The more I spent, the more I felt I needed to earn. The people I attracted had the same values and same expectations which meant that the moment I was not earning more their interest in me was gone. 

I sprinted on Jones’ Treadmill for many years. For most of those years, I did not sleep well and was not happy. I used food and alcohol to fill an unidentified void; the void that comes when we chase after shadows. I missed some of the most important events in my loved ones’ lives because I had to work. Sound familiar? The alternative to the treadmill lifestyle is to plan. Yes, plan. Plan fun, plan work, plan emergencies, plan shopping, plan meals… Plan. 

Just like you found out that you actually need far less to be really happy, with Living PowerLife and planning you will see that funding a new life is not as difficult as you imagine. Your plan will have about 6 different parts:

Part one: Connect.  Connect and stay in touch with your inner guidance through daily private meditation. When I meditate, I spend some of my time envisioning my connection to the Universe and to God. The Universe responds to the energy that I put out and God is beyond anything that I can imagine, including religious institutions. With these two connections firmly in place and consistently attended to, there is no limit to what I can accomplish. If you are not someone who believes in God, that is fine. Stick with the Universe and remember to keep a grateful spirit; be grateful for what you have and build from there.

Part two: Ignore. Ignore anyone who tries to redirect your attention to something negative. Ignore anyone who expresses thoughts and feelings that undermine your plan. This includes your own thoughts. Here is a silly real-life example: One day while I was walking to the subway stop and enjoying a beautiful spring day, I noticed a woman walking toward me. As she came closer to me I smiled and nodded hello. Instead of responding in kind, she pointed down to the sidewalk and said, Look. Look there. I did, and there was a dead rat off to the side in the grass. Yeah, disgusting. I would not have noticed the rat were it not for the fact that I allowed my attention to be redirected.

Part three: Envision. Envision what you are working toward. Take a short time during your meditation to envision every aspect of your goal. What does it look like? How does it feel? Why is it important? Keep your language in the present rather than future. While you are envisioning, be general. You can limit the Universe if you become too fixated on minute details.  A simple example: you decide that you want to enjoy the best meal you have ever had. You envision your favorite food cooked perfectly. Then you proceed to include a particular restaurant, in a certain city, on a predetermined street, with a certain person, dressed a certain way... Get my point? These details could undermine your work because you are not open to possibilities that you may not know about. In one of those unknown possibilities could be the experience you are seeking.

Part four: Know. Know in your heart without anyone having to tell you that what you are envisioning belongs to you. Your job is to stay focused, connected, flexible and to act. In addition, Living PowerLife and your plan require patience and consistency on your part. Be patient and understand that you are living on the Universe’s clock. Be consistent in doing what you need to do to be successful. In other words, this is not an invitation to sit, look at your navel and wait for things to appear. You have to do your part and that requires action.

Part five: Itemize. Those of you who have been following my blog over the years know that I am one to make a list. The habit of list making is crucial to success when visualizing, prioritizing and working toward goals. At this point, you should be ready to work with several ongoing lists. For example, I have about 6 lists that I am now working with to live my new life. Some lists I refer to daily, some monthly and others annually. Some are based on the season and some are based on particular occasions. Be flexible with your lists and do not hesitate to update when the need arises. With your lists include resources when you can. For instance, when I decided to add dancing shoes to my list, I also included places where I could buy second hand and discount shoes.

Part six: Relax. Relax and be patient. Be patient with yourself and with the Universe. Remember, this is a lifestyle which means life-long. Consequently, when things do not fall into place immediately do not give up. Understand that there is a reason for what you experience as a delay and do not try to force the Universe or the process. Several times I have realized that what (or who) I thought I wanted was actually something that would bring more trouble into my life. 

While not getting what I wanted was disappointing in the short-run, with time I was glad that things did not work out the way I wanted. This reinforced my belief that I am never alone even at my loneliest moment. The same is true for you.

From my PowerLife to yours,


Link to relevant blog post
Learning to PowerLife: Mental Attitude

Recycling your belonging can help to bring new energy into your life and create room for the new. Check in your area for places to donate to homeless shelters or second hand stores. Some areas also have Internet lists that enable people to give items away or make exchanges. When donating, make sure you get a receipt for your tax purposes. If you want to make a little extra money, there is always craigslist, ebay and amazon available to you to sell your unneeded items.