Going the distance

Photo by Quinn Nietfeld on Unsplash

“There is a huge amount of freedom that comes to you when you take nothing personally.” 

Don Miguel Ruiz

Calling these last few weeks unprecedented is nearly an understatement. Even as this insidious virus began to multiply with voracious speed, not many could have imagined the devastating impact it would have on the global economy, as well as the drastic influences imposed upon social norms and standards. Inexplicably, it too shows no favoritism nor prejudice on whom it bestows its occasionally dreadful fate.

Perhaps the most confounding aspect of this Coronavirus is how it has impacted our sense of stability. While many of us have lived through difficult or unpredictable situations, we’ve typically experienced something this mystifying in history books or on the big screen. There are numerous uncertainties which only heighten fears, intensify anxieties, and leave us all hoping and praying for a positive outcome. As much as we can hardly wait for it to end, there’s a good chance life will be different from the way we formally knew it.

The advice for best defeating this menace is social isolation. The World Health Organization, is recommending a one-meter distance while many countries are advising twice that amount. For those who may start to display the slightest symptoms, staying at home and self-isolation are more urgently stressed. Municipalities across the globe are fiercely advocating and even demanding people remain in their residences. For the indefinite future, these are social practices most people have never considered and as a result, are playing havoc on their emotional wellbeing.

Undoubtedly, social distancing is the best way to avoid catching or spreading the virus. Since it was previously not something which we considered as part of typical interaction, we must now remain vigilant and be cognizant of doing our part. This shift in behavior, however, can have a negative emotional impact, especially for those not able to hug a loved one and not knowing when they will ever have another opportunity.

Those who’ve tested positive or are merely showing symptoms are self-isolating providing they do not require medical attention. This type of separation has an even stronger proclivity for creating bleaker anxiety and mental uncertainty. Nearly everyone will experience some angst or mental distress during this period; however, when daily activity begins to take on some resemblance of its former self, we don’t want the effects from these emotional struggles to suffer lasting consequences.

These are difficult times. It would be extremely callous of me to suggest that whatever you do is of your own making and that you should have the mental fortitude to forge through these arduous times. The challenges we face today only months ago were nearly unfathomable. Many are undergoing feelings at far greater levels, and which also are tremendously foreign to what they believed they could ever have felt.

What can help you maintain your emotional health is to be aware of a few points. To begin, know that everyone is facing similar uncertainties. When you feel anxious or even fearful, it’s not uncommon and you aren’t experiencing something that you shouldn’t be feeling in times like these. As much as you don’t want to be having them, they are very normal to be undergoing currently. You are not doing anything wrong nor displaying some particular weakness.

Take a deep breath and remind yourself that it’s okay to be feeling this way. Additionally, take the time to forgive yourself if you said or acted in ways which demonstrated abnormal behaviors. All too often, we believe that having these kinds of emotions is wrong and then become ashamed of ourselves for not being stronger. Rationalizing this way only compounds the humiliation and embarrassment, often spiraling us further downward emotionally.

Social distancing can generate a similar psychological struggle. Again, this was not of your doing, and in those moments when you feel discouraged or helpless, remind yourself that it’s okay if you feel confused, irritable, or other distressing moods. These reactions are part of being human and it only makes it worse if we punish ourselves for experiencing them.

What you’ll want to avoid is having those feelings prod you to act out and cause actions which will affect you or others in detrimental ways. Being aware of your feelings and forgiving yourself for having them is a great way to lower your anxiety and propensity to act in ways that you never believed you could. I highly recommend making a habit of frequently forgiving yourself during these difficult times. When you learn to forgive yourself it engenders a spirit of greater patience and acceptance. It sets an examples for others to replicate and inspires family and friends to work through this monumental struggle.

We are now beginning to realize our connection to each other. Even during times of social distancing and isolation, having more patience and understanding for others will restore our hope and faith in the world to come. We may not be certain how it will end or what changes will occur, but we can all do our best to help one another strive to keep our emotional health, and appreciate life in different, more tolerant, and loving ways.

It is true that our circumstances are a product of what we make it. Sometimes, however, we need encouragement or advice to help steer us in a positive and constructive direction. And there is nothing wrong with reaching out for a little help.

My thanks to Quinn Nietfeld on Unsplash for the beautiful picture and I look forward to your comments.

A note of hope

Photo by Dan Meyers on Unsplash

“These are the times that try men’s [sic] souls.”

-Thomas Paine

Since we visited last, the world has gone through some dramatic changes. Perhaps you may have foreseen the tempest coming or maybe hoped it was being blown out of proportion by a few looking to make some easy money. Whatever your views are, it’s impossible to say that covid-19 hasn’t made an impact on your life, for which only time will tell the full scope and measure.

In times such as these, many of us are incredibly vulnerable to getting caught up in the gloomy conversations all around. Our frustrations heighten when the truth leads only to more alarming or ambiguous answers. How can something completely unseen by the naked eye have the ability to hold the entire world hostage?

In the case of a viral outbreak, that’s a question best posed to the scientists who’ve dedicated their lives researching the issues. However, what most of us want is to simply stop feeling confused, and return to the calm assuredness we used to feel about our future.

During such times of complete upheaval, the way we overcome anxiety of any kind is by truly understanding our own value and sense of self-worth. Stability and security come from a deep sense of knowing ourselves and our purpose. Knowing who we are and where we stand, at any given moment is what ultimately lends us this sense of comfort, and provides the self-empowerment needed for a brighter outlook even during the most tumultuous times.

In the next few months we will all be most susceptible to feelings of emotional distress. But that’s even more reason to recapture those feelings of stability and security, and regain a deeper sense of our purpose in life.

Taking strength in your personal integrity is how best to weather this storm and come out a stronger individual.

Sometimes we all require help, but unfortunately, some of us will sit mute; thinking no one wants to hear our problems. We wrongly feel a deep sense of shame when telling others about our troubles or deficiencies. But if there is one thing I want you to take from this article is that what is currently happening should NEVER bring shame upon anyone!

Instead, I want you to know that when we share our deepest, even most disparaging thoughts, the opposite tends to happen. Talking to someone produces positive emotions and they have great therapeutic value for humans. Why else would we want to talk with therapists, counselors, and life coaches? So, it’s important to remember there is help and you are not alone.

Additionally, at times of great despair, don’t discount your positive impact. You can help yourself by recalling and writing down a recent event which made a valuable impression. Think about people at work or in your community with whom you enjoy spending time. If financial woes have you concerned, don’t hesitate to reach out to local organizations or food banks whose primary function is to help. You did not create this situation and there is no shame by needing or asking for help. Their sole purpose is to assist others in need.

All of us can do our part by practicing proper hygiene and using practical steps to avoid catching or spreading this insidious virus. Keep updated on what is going on in your local communities and continue to be proactive to help minimize the impact this virus will make.

One of the most important aspects of building a sense of self-worth is to maintain personal integrity. Remembering who you are will help you to remain calm and not act rashly against someone or become opportunistic in the face of others’ demise. We must work together and not deepen the divide which is spawned by the presence of fear and unrealistic demands.

This current predicament is unprecedented and one we hope will never occur again. It demonstrates how even in a modern society, the world will always be a delicate and fragile place. No amount of money or power can shield anyone from something so undetectably small as this tiny spore. But it can become a valuable reminder to us all that life is a cherished gift and we should always reach for our opportunities to thrive.

I’m going to offer personalized sessions for those who need support during the coronavirus outbreak. If you would like help or to become part of a group session, please contact me for more details.

My thanks to Photo by Dan Meyers on Unsplash for the beautiful picture and I look forward to your comments.

The impasse

Photo by Nicole Garcia

“Healing is an ongoing process. Some days are more difficult than others but understanding that self-love is a crucial component will keep you on your healing path.” – Nicole Garcia

In last week’s article we explored reasons why some well-intended people find themselves trapped in difficult, one-sided relationships. To think that many enter into relationships only to have their sincerity and love twisted, belittled, and used against them for completely selfish means is appalling. These stories are heartbreaking. But hearing the brave accounts of those who were able to overcome them are exceedingly heartwarming.

Love is complex and multifaceted; and since self-love is part of the healing process, it’s an issue I deal with in a slightly different manner for every single client. What has been helpful in my own practice is to discover the various ways in which people become entrapped by a sincere and visceral need to show and express love.

Having experienced my own version of love’s impasse allows me to be empathetic and understanding with my clients. It’s often a relief to them when they’ve heard I’ve undergone a similar experience. Thankfully, I was not a victim of an overbearing or completely selfish partner; mine centered more on never seeing the importance of self-love and how that truly strengthens relationships rather than damages them. My thinking was only to please; and often found myself second guessing what the “right” thing to do was in order to seemingly express my love.

The remedy is never as straightforward as “just start loving yourself.” If it were that easy, this column wouldn’t exist. The intricacies and peculiarities of each situation are continually shifting, making it more difficult to understand how and why they become ensnared and almost hypnotized into what they believe is true love’s expression.

What frequently occurs in these kinds of love-twisted relationships is the compassionate person, imprisoned by a narcissistic partner, cannot even begin to reason how any person would use someone’s own love against them. The slightest thought that anyone could remotely consider doing that is nauseating and repulsive. Conversely, those with inflated egos can’t imagine how any person would consider sacrificing so much for another person.

Herein lies the problem. Transformation occurs when a person understands something needs to be changed.

The caring ones, rightfully so, don’t want to change their already kind and loving spirit. And the self-consumed don’t want anything to strip them of their power and control. Ironically, the caring person does see the need for the other person to change and wants it to happen so desperately they’ll hang on to the slightest thread of hope, which their self-centered partner has learned to strategically and periodically tease them with throughout the relationship.

The first step is to help them realize what changes need to occur. They don’t need to be less loving and caring while at the same time becoming more self-centered. They don’t need to score more points in the relationship to prove their worth. Those traits should be lauded. The realization is that they deserve to be reciprocated with the same kind of love which they give.

The most difficult personalities, who always require the biggest changes, also have the least ability to recognize what changes need to occur because their primary focus is on themselves. They’ve developed a need and in a sense, have become addicted to continually being right. And when you are always right, how will you ever consider the notion that you may be wrong?

The “giver” frequently identifies what changes need to be made. Their struggle happens with learning to love themselves. The self-righteous, on the other hand, rarely see any need to change and when they do, it typically occurs after their world falls apart and they are left with nothing but desolation and destruction. Even then some still have difficulty understanding everything around them wasn’t provided for their comfort, pleasure, and luxury.

Each person in this relationship needs a healing journey to begin. The dilemma on this road is understanding this is typically a long process. Many desire these changes to manifest quickly. Why can’t we simply decide, “I’m going to love myself beginning this moment” and our lives pivot forever on that moment? Again, if there were a predictable answer, there would be no purpose in writing these articles.

For many, the way we learn to perceive and practice love has taken years to develop. Our actions become more of a ritual or a “default reaction.” Several decades of erroneous behavior isn’t undone by one confident decree. It takes work and determination to undo this kind of flawed thinking. While some might be fortunate to make such a miraculous turnaround, most face a challenging and exasperating journey. Please know that the rewards for this effort far outweigh the difficulties experienced during the process.

Another obstacle is when one questions the progress made because of some mistake or backsliding. Depending on the gravity of the emotional wounds, it can be extremely difficult to see any progress whatsoever. Discouragement is often the biggest denier; especially for those at the beginning of their journeys.

The best medicine for this situation is to remind them of the positive changes they’ve already made. Point out those successes and always leave with encouraging words. There were several times early in my journey when I questioned or even downplayed my transformations. What helped me most was realizing these negative thoughts were precisely how my own shame (and what I refer to in my book as the shame filter) wanted me to reason. If I continued in that vein, I would once again succumb to what I believe is the biggest yet least discussed issue that most will face throughout their lifetimes.

If you or someone you know is stuck in a similar difficulty, let them know there’s hope. Share this article or reach out to me directly. No one should ever have to be at an impasse with their own love.

My thanks to Nicole Garcia for both the beautiful picture and enlightening quote. She is a rising star and one who is an incredible example. I look forward to your comments.

Bad for Business

“The bottom line for business is that integrity is not always good for the bottom line.”

When writing about the virtues of integrity, a huge dilemma is that its definition, quite often, is distinctly unique to each individual. Two different and principled people can possess completely contradictory opinions on a subject yet both provide compelling arguments for each ones’ point of view. However, what has been very disturbing is seeing the lack of integrity which so-called “smart” businesspeople are demonstrating. It’s as though they realize owning integrity has damaging effects to their profit margins.

I have nothing against ingenuity, inventiveness, or entrepreneurship; nor is there is anything wrong in wanting to earn lots of money. Where the problem lies is when a business venture leads one to overlook the value of integrity for the sake of earning an extra buck. Most often, that kind of opportunism leads to unwarranted damage and harm to many unsuspecting and undeserving people.

It seems to be a growing trend in business to give customers less while charging them more. This isn’t simply a result of inflation but rather an intrinsic part of the corporate mindset to appease the shareholders in the name of profit and not for the purpose of good business practices and principles.

Affordable housing isn’t just an issue in the larger metropolitan cities on this planet; it has reached the level of a global crisis in the developed world. Likewise, healthcare for many, at least in the US, consumes a greater percentage of the family’s income than actual food does.

Why is this happening at this point in time? Is it some unforeseen phenomenon or unexplainable event?

I believe the reason for this is precisely because providing goods or services at a fair and decent price is no longer the business plan. Instead, the trend in commerce is now turning every possible occasion into outlandish opportunities for profit while deeming integrity more of a liability than an asset.

Why can’t commerce be more centered around integrity? Why can’t products be produced and sold at a fair but profitable margin? There have been a barrage of posts alluding to increasing customer service, creating a more productive work environment, and treating employees with courtesy and higher regard. But the corporate mentality seems to be leaning toward the welfare of the shareholders rather than those actually producing what the company sells. Business models are more focused on destroying competition through nefarious means – stifling competition, immorally fixing prices, and having absolutely no concern for the destruction left in their wake.

It’s time we value business leaders for their integrity and not for their ruthless potential for opportunism. Leaders in all sectors of business need to stand out with sincerity, honesty, and integrity; outstanding behavior is what ought to be commended and extolled. Conduct which ascribes values of trustworthiness and fairness should be the ones which get the acclaim and actions clearly displaying that revenue generation is the end which justifies the means, ought to be shunned and discredited.

It’s also no less important for those among the ranks to pursue these same ideals. It will take a concerted effort and although mistakes will happen, we learn from those opportunities and inspire others to do the same.

It’s nearly impossible to live in a world without business and it’s also vital to make a profit. But it’s not impossible to intertwine integrity in a company’s business plan. If not being an opportunist and not taking advantage of others for the purpose of generating maximum profits makes one a bad businessperson, then by all means, I want to be known as “Bad for Business”.

My thanks to Chris Charles of Unsplash for the beautiful picture. I look forward to your comments.

Thoughts of value

Photo by SK Yeong on Unsplash

“Integrity can involve choices which alter our entire lives.”

A discussion about integrity frequently includes a few words regarding being right or wrong. Last week’s article triggered comments from some who lost lifelong friendships over having their personal integrity questioned. When these situations occur, it can be a difficult time for either person, wondering if someone whom you’ve cherished for years may now only exist in your memories.

Rarely is it something we plan for or even expect. Nonetheless, maintaining one’s integrity may compel us to make these kinds of difficult choices.

There are countless reasons why friendships end in this way but the question we should ask ourselves is: “What were my intentions”? Was I flaunting my moral proclivity while criticizing my friend’s (or the other way around)? Did I ridicule the other person and listen only to find the absurdity in his or her argument? Often one or both sides feel their opinion only is right and any consideration of opposing ideas is a complete waste of time. This is a recipe for disaster and nothing can be done to remedy the situation or the relationship.

It’s ironic that the consideration of right versus wrong is the divisive factor in terminating any friendship. But determining what is right and what is wrong is not as black and white as we think it ought to be. The world would definitely be a much less complicated place if there were a list we could refer to when confronted with difficult choices. Yes, it would be less complicated but also a lot more restrictive as well.

Our diversity and differences enhance the unexpected episodes in life and while some are frustrating, many can be seen as opportunities for growth and development. Growth is constantly happening around us and we can do our best to influence that growth to our advancement or let life happen and thus dictate it for us.

Continually scrutinizing our own integrity is the best way to preserve and magnify it. Pointing out where it lacks in others may indicate a weakness or be a sign of doubt about our own. While it may compel us to do what we believe is right, it does not demand that we compel everyone else to do the same.

Integrity is not an easy subject to corral since so many of us have different values. While there are some basic principles upon which we can all agree, certain topics, and especially those of a political or religious nature, have totally opposite opinions; even though both sides use the exact same texts to rationalize and state arguments with entirely contrary outcomes.

But one thing which is hard to argue, is how much does our integrity negatively impact the lives of others. It is never an excuse to dupe someone for your benefit nor to usurp control over them. More importantly, it’s something that needs more proof than someone simply declaring you possess it.

Integrity complements other principles like honesty, sincerity, and compassion. I believe that these values all help raise a person’s awareness which ultimately motivates one to become mindful of the world around us. It compels us to encourage these traits in others and inspire them to do the same. For this reason alone, it behooves us all to continually examine our own ideals and principles to make the world a better place now and for the future.

My thanks to S.K Yeong for the beautiful photograph and I look forward to your comments.

Grammatically Thinking

Photo by Rahul Gupta on Unsplash

“Helping others should never center around how they perceive you.”

There are many factors which can shape, broaden, or significantly influence
our own personal development. Looking at a few of my past articles, however,
may give the distinct impression that individual growth is often predicated on
uncovering errors, mistakes, or other issues which may appear to impair our own self-confidence. That is never my intention. Perhaps I’ve been focusing on these kinds of events because they have provided the greatest impact in my own life.

Self-confidence is an important factor for increasing personal growth. However,
understanding the difference between self-assuredness and arrogance sometimes
lies in a murky place. The inclination to be correct and factual is important
and not exclusively in the area of self-growth. But is it possible to be both
right and wrong in the very same moment?

I’ve had a longstanding fascination with words and their usage. It began with writing simple poems in elementary school. While in junior high, diagraming sentences was a favorite class exercise. In high school, I took 3 years of Latin – simply because I enjoyed the challenge. One of my fondest memories with my father was when we spent an hour looking up words in the dictionary and discovering their origins. Although I never grew to the level of a copyeditor, I periodically would refer to myself as a “grammar snob”.

There was an important lesson which someone very dear to me pointed out. At times I would also deem myself the “grammar police” and actually corrected people who used improper grammar. It was not a constant activity and I truthfully can’t tell you what prompted that reaction; however, when it was suggested to me this was an arrogant response, I had no choice but to sincerely deliberate her words.

My first reaction was to justify why it was correct. “Don’t people want to know when they are speaking incorrectly?” I reasoned poorly. It did not take long to realize that the underlying reason for this action was more accurately needing to be seen as intelligent. Being “right” was not for their benefit and how would something so smug be perceived as smart? Perhaps were I able to read their minds, I would have seen the word smart being replaced with the word “smarmy.”

I could argue ad nauseum that a double negative is incorrect. When a person says, “I don’t know nothing” what the are really saying is “There’s nothing I don’t know.” However, being right in this instance doesn’t – and didn’t – matter. The intention was not centered around helping others and there was no doubt in my mind that I knew precisely what they meant.

Communication is important. Understanding what others are conveying is the key. There are times when proper grammar and usage are vital but those are mainly in legal and technical realms. Everyday conversations don’t require such scrutiny. This one weakness, which was a once-perceived strength, has made a huge difference in my communication with others. It transformed the listening experience and genuinely provided a more engaging as well as caring exchange. After all, it’s next to impossible to help others when the concern is centered on yourself.

My thanks to Rahul Gupta on Unsplash for the beautiful picture and I look forward to your comments. I’d also like to again thank Anuj Agarwal and Feedspot for listing me on his top 50 inspirational posts https://blog.feedspo .com/inspirational_blogs/. I’m listed there under my WordPress site:: https://globalcreativeempowermentgroup.wordpress.com/

Beyond thinking

Photo by v2osk on Unsplash

“Real change is made when the direction includes more than just yourself.”

Perhaps one of the most difficult aspects or personal growth is a realization that you’ve been wrong in some aspect of your thinking. Many find great satisfaction in being recognized for their intellectual attributes. When some flaw or error is discovered, it may feel like a blow to one’s self-confidence. However, any moment of self-growth should never be construed in this way.

Last week’s article challenged people to constantly reexamine thought patterns and process as well as be open to the possibility that change may be needed. But it’s not always clear when or if a change should be made. It’s easy for me to suggest a change is needed but what are the signs and how do we know when it’s necessary?

Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a local expert who could divvy our stellar advice so we could immediately commence on our journey of unfettered self-development leading to a bright and thriving future?

So how do we know it is time for a change? As just about any other of life’s quandaries, there is no one answer for all of us. Many times, we won’t know until after the fact whether or not the decision was correct. We do our best to gather the information, weigh everything carefully, seek advice, but ultimately, the decision is ours on what action needs to be taken. We must make that determination and ultimately reap or suffer with the consequences of our choices.

It has always been my aim never to tell any of my readers what they ought to do. Even if I were 100% correct it wouldn’t matter because each one of us must embrace and take complete responsibility for that choice. I do recall in years past there were many times I sought the advice of others specifically to feel less blame and responsibility for what the coming result would be.

There are, however, a few indicators which should set off warning signals and I believe should not be a part of your thinking. The first is perhaps my biggest concern. If a person believes the way he or she believes, thinks, or feels about a particular issue is the only correct way, and anyone else who feels differently is wrong, I recommend standing in front of a mirror to see who is really wrong. This is a recipe for disaster. Not only does it instill narrowmindedness and foster arrogance, it initiates and promotes division and strife.

Secondly, if your ideas encourage taking full advantage of others for your benefit, you should definitely reevaluate your intent. I often error on the side of kindness and while many see this as an act of weakness, it actually takes more strength. Imagine for a moment if everyone took this approach, what a better world this would be. Unfortunately, nefarious actions – especially those which tend to generate huge income – are frequently lauded. It’s time that honor, good intention, and kindness usurp the spotlight. Those who’ve been in power learn to manipulate the system specifically to benefit themselves and subjugate those out of their group or trying to annul their power.

Personal development will no doubt require certain modifications in our thinking. But if those changes include exclusion, division, and manipulation, the change is in the wrong direction. Growth ought to shift towards honesty, integrity and compassion. Not because of some reward we’ll get by doing them but because it’s the decent thing to do and also what we hope to see in others

My thanks to v2osk on Unsplash for the beautiful photo and I look forward to your comments. I am also thrilled to mention that “Feedspot” has listed me as one of their 50 inspirational blogs. You can see more inspirational posts here: https://blog.feedspot.com/inspirational_blogs/ Thank you Anuj Agarwal for such an honor.