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Real Connection – Relationship Reality

“Life delights in life.”  — William Blake

How do we connect with other people?  Do we rely on conflict, suffering, manipulation, gossip or one-up-man ship?  Do we create relationships that can be controlled safely and then call that “reality?”

Real connection requires two people, both wanting to be in the relationship, to approach each other as equals.  A good relationship brings us happiness, growth and a satisfying feeling of closeness.  We can be ourselves, without adjusting our beliefs or behavior to please the other person or to keep up the relationship.  The moment we abandon our equality, we have a power struggle, not a relationship.

Previously, the only connections we made were between us and a hunger and an appetite that was never filled.  Once we began our process of personal growth we began to enjoy the real connections with people; the true joy that comes with giving and receiving.


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You Are In Integrity

“You are in integrity when the life you live is an authentic expression of who you are.” — Alan Cohen

 

Positivity Through the Happiness Habit

How About Making Today the First Day, of the Best Year of Your Life?

Positive Thinking

I have committed to blogging about my attempt to bring more “positivity” to my life.  I’m going to share my discoveries, realizations, new awareness, experimentation, success and failure as I attempt to bring a greater sense of positive thinking into my life. I’ve heard if from more than a handful of people now, that I tend to focus on the negative. My awareness has been raised and that’s not what I want in my life at all! So here’s my summary of what I learned today:

I found a quote by William Shakespeare, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so”. And I paired with this quote “The Happiness Habit”. The Happiness Habit is developed by simply practicing happy thinking. Make a mental list of happy thoughts and pass them through your mind several times every day.

If “un-happiness” thought should ever enter your mind, immediately stop, consciously eject it, and substitute a happiness thought. Every morning, before arising from bed, just stay in bed, lying in a relaxed state, and drop happy thoughts into your conscious mind. Let a series of pictures pass across your mind of each happy experience you expect to have during the day. Savor their joy. Such thoughts, I am told and I am now a believer will help cause events to turn out that way!

– Contributions from works by Norman Vincent Peale


Your Authentic Self

 

“To thine own self be true…”

 

Most of us associate this quote from Shakespeare’s Hamlet Act 1, scene 3, 78-82:

Polonius:
This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Farewell, my blessing season this in thee!

Laertes:
Most humbly do I take my leave, my lord.

“To thine own self be true” is Polonius’s last piece of advice to his son Laertes; Polonius has in mind something much more Elizabethan than the New Age self-knowledge that the phrase now suggests. To me, what I get from this quote is that unless we can be true to ourselves first, we cannot be true to others.

My path of personal growth has led me recently to wonder, what exactly is one’s “authentic self”? How do we get there? From this exploration, I have summarized what I have learned and am eager to share it with you.

Definitions:

Authentic: Genuine; literally self-authored or endorsed.

Self: Your physical and mental being with all its human and unique characteristics.

Authentic Self: The true you; aligned and congruent self-image, stature, values, beliefs, goals, behavior, word, and public image.

Your Authentic Self and Truth

How many of us have a hard time being true to ourselves?  Those of us that gave up so much of our Self just so that we could be in the life of another did so at the cost of losing who we are in the process. By allowing someone else to define who we are caused us to lose our ability to discover and grow inwardly.  We no longer are able to discern a truth from a lie.  For many of us, we have accepted lies for so long, that finding out what is truth takes time.

Truth is a word that brings out negative reactions to many of us. Accepting truth about ourselves is difficult, especially to those of us who have been abused.  But truth does set one free if we will allow it to; it is a crucial part of healing.  It gives us the freedom to be who we are.  We are able to come to terms with our weakness (without judgment or condemnation) and appreciate our strength.  Truth gives strength; it naturally builds healthy boundaries.

Truth is open; it is honest even at the risk of being vulnerable again.  Truth fears no reaction. Truth is light and brings forth life.  When we walk in truth, we walk in light and when we walk in light we live a healthy life.

Truth is also love.  The greatest act of love towards another is living a life that is truthful.  For those of us who find it difficult to love ourselves, we will find it will come more easily when we are truthful about who we are.  If we walk in truth, we walk in perfect love, and if we walk in perfect love, then we do not walk in fear because perfect love cast out fear.  Because we have been honest with ourselves, we are able to love ourselves with all of our imperfections, knowing that we are a work in “progress” and therefore need not have others approval.

“And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Farewell, my blessing season this in thee!”

The second part of this verse is a natural occurrence if we hold true to the first part of the verse.  So, when in doubt about our motives of not being truthful with someone….look inside, are we being less than truthful to ourselves?

Just what makes up an “authentic person”?  It is someone who:

Has great listening skills: everyone, regardless of who they are, wants to be acknowledged, appreciated and loved. When you are engaged in a conversation with someone, are you truly focusing 100% of your attention on what that person is saying? Or is your brain formulating something to say at the next available opportunity?  Are your eyes constantly roaming the room, wondering who else just walked in? An authentic person’s attention is razor-sharp, making the other person feel like the most important person in the world.

Treats others fairly: When carrying out your role, whether it be a mother, business executive, pilot, waitress, teacher or coach, to name a few, you are always dealing with other people. The biggest secret is how you treat them. Do you treat others with respect or are you condescending, especially if they screwed up?

Has integrity: Everyone wants something. But authentic people are conscious of the operative watchword: integrity. They will do the ethical thing even if it means a loss of personal benefits for themselves.

Has the ability to communicate: Business leaders who conscientiously communicate in the open, especially when there is a lot of uncertainty hovering over the future of their employees, end up earning tremendous amount of trust. Rather than hiding behind the cloak of their boardrooms, they step up to the plate and keep people informed as much as possible. Authentic people make themselves valuable because they care enough to keep others in the loop by communicating.

Has the willingness to show transparency: I’ve done a lot of public speaking in my life. Public speakers who aren’t afraid to stand up on stage and speak from the heart, showing their childlike enthusiasm and not presenting themselves as flawless packages, often win the hearts of their audiences.

Why? Because it makes them real. Authentic speakers go into a speaking engagement with the attitude of “I am grateful all these people are spending time with me and I will give them a reason to laugh, cry and otherwise enjoy themselves without worrying how I look.”

Inauthentic speakers will say, “Well, there’s a bunch of jerks out there, I’ll just get in there, get it over and fool them senselessly with my appearance of great success.” People who are willing to be transparent win the love and respect of others.

Food for thought: Authentic people make more friends in two weeks by becoming interested in other people than in 2 months by trying to get other people interested in them!

Some experts on authenticity assert that if an individual is not living authentically in their lives, then they lose meaning and can fall into chronic anxiety, boredom and despair. People might pursue “quick fixes” to avoid the responsibility of living authentically with quick fixes such as anesthetizing themselves with alcohol or drugs or living in fantasies.

Becoming your Authentic Self

To become your authentic self, begin by knowing yourself. Understand human nature, what you can change and what you cannot, your own personality traits, learned behaviors, your values, beliefs, needs, goals, and motives. Consider the choices, events and people who may have “molded” you. Begin to know what guides you throughout life. Know your true strengths. Apply your true strengths to authentic goals. Gain the confidence to be humble. Begin to integrate and align your values, beliefs and actions.

We must face the fears that block our inner truths from coming out, especially the fear of rejection. Even when we feel strong enough to communicate the truth, we don’t always have clarity about what is true for us.  But being authentic doesn’t mean being perfect.  It just means doing our best to be real.  Sometimes that means exposing our warts and imperfections, but there lays the beauty of authenticity.

Coming into your Authentic Self

Don Miguel Ruiz shares centuries of Toltec wisdom in his book The Four Agreements. To apply this wisdom, choose to create these profound agreements with yourself:

Be impeccable with your word. Carefully look at what you tell yourself, what you tell others, and when you decide to speak. Use your word consistently to express and strengthen your values. Don’t use or overlook factual errors, fallacies or distortions during communications. Express yourself authentically. Earn trust.

Do what you say.

Don’t take anything personally. It’s not all about you. Reject the fallacy of personalization.

Rely confidently on your own well-founded self-concept; it is the only evaluation of your worth that matters.

Challenge and balance your first-person point-of-view.

Don’t make assumptions. Suspend judgment. Readily acknowledge what you don’t know and have the courage to ask questions. Carefully look at the evidence. Don’t attribute intent to others. Retain a healthy skepticism as you avoid cynicism. Develop, refine, and constantly apply your own well-founded theory of knowledge.

Always do your best. Do all you can while you recognize you can’t do it all. All you can do is all you can do. You are good enough. Apply your time and effort toward your well-chosen and enduring goals.

These agreements are essential elements of authentic expression and earning trust.

References

Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment, by Martin Seligman

Why We Do What We Do: Understanding Self-Motivation, by Edward L. Deci, Richard Flaste

I Am a Strange Loop, by Douglas Hofstadter

Authentic Happiness Website, by Martin Seligman, Director of the University of Pennsylvania Positive Psychology Center.http://www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu/Default.aspx

Self Matters, by Phillip C. McGraw

Six Pillars of Self-Esteem, by Nathaniel Branden

The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz

Peaceful Warrior — Dan Millman learns to enjoy the journey in this docudrama.

Everybody Needs a Rock, by Byrd Baylor and Peter Parnall

Knowing Yourself, an Amazon.com Listmania List

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The Gift of Laughter

“The most wasted day is that in which we have not laughed.” — Chamfort

 

When you’re laughing, I’d bet that you’re not feeling fear.  When I’m adrift in all my issues, challenges or life’s drama, I take myself far too seriously and I feel as though I’m losing touch with reality.  I become lost in fantasy and obsession. Life becomes joyless because I can’t see beyond what I see as my “burdens” and I find no real satisfaction there.  I lose touch with the joy and humor of life and I find that everything around me and inside of me is grim and dark.  This is when I most often begin to sense my fears.

One of the many touchstones of my personal growth and increasing sanity is the gift of laughter.  Each day as I gain more energy and zest for life, I move into the world where I find many things that are humorous, in me and in other people.  When I laugh, I don’t feel alone or afraid.

Laughter is a trait of a happy, healthy human being.  Laughter shows that we are a part of humankind.  It’s a sign that we’re alive, not afraid and that we’re getting better and better, day-by-day!  I’m so grateful that the work I’ve done so far on myself has once again brought me the gift of laughter.

 

 

When Decisions are Made Out of Fear

Declare your independence of all fear based limits. — Alan Cohen

I have found fear to be one of my most worst and ineffective tools for making decisions.  By “tools”, I mean the emotional coping mechanisms our mind creates during our life time and from our own set of unique and personal experiences.  These tools may be useful during a certain time period in our life because they protect us.  As humans we change, and some of our tools must change as well.  As a child, fear may have been an important tool, because it kept us out of harm’s way from something.  For example, I have a friend who has a two-year old, and to keep the child away from certain things around the house tells the child, “It’s hot.”  So now, when the child wants to touch something, he asks, “Hot?”  My friend has been effective at keeping his child away from certain harmful elements, but obviously, as the child matures, this tool must change.  As adults, I find that our tools don’t change often enough.  Fear based tools are common for us to carry with us into adult hood.  Fear based tools may distort reality, giving one an unrealistic platform for certain functions, such as decision-making.

Fear is the absence of love. Fear is where our higher power (God or the Universe) is not. Making choices out of fear keeps us from looking at the true cause of our pain or anguish. Pain, misery, aggravation are just a few of our negative emotions.  Our mind, our Ego, tells us that something out there in our world is causing us fear. We then believe we must resolve an issue or problem to get rid of the fear.  This process tends to distort reality, blinding us from the true source of our fear, the Ego.  It is our Ego, our mind, causing the fear. Our mind hides this fact from us. If we knew the true cause of our fear, we might feel we were wrong and put ourselves to blame, which then creates guilt.

Our Ego shelters us in this same way from guilt with all of our emotions.  Anger, frustration, embarrassment and sadness are not ours to own responsibility for; it is the outside world to blame.  Something or someone “out there” is the cause of the emotion.  The problem with this tool used by the mind is that it leaves us feeling powerless.  It leaves us feeling unable to change our feelings.  Our power is surrendered to something outside of our own self and at the mercy of this “thing”.  Many of us have learned by now that we can’t change another person.  So we believe we cannot change “it” nor can we change our own emotions or feelings.  We believe that this “thing” in the outside world must change for us to feel better.  The same holds true for every one of our emotions. If the outside world or something or someone in it is the cause of our emotion, then we are not to blame.  Clearly, it is that “thing” “out there” that is responsible for our emotions. This way of thinking makes us feel we are not to blame and not at fault.  The only way to truly heal the problem is to heal the fear.

Through our awareness that it is our reaction to an event and those stories we have fabricated in our mind creating what we believe to be the truth, our power is restored. We have the power to create change and happiness.  We begin realistically and authentically to heal the fear.  No longer is there a dependency on the outside world for our own true joy.

Making choices or decisions out of fear are actions not from God or the Universe.  When an individual has even a remote feeling that a choice or decision is being made from a fear based emotion, I recommend one to stop and take time to do the necessary inventory of one’s own feelings.  Do not make a decision based on fear.  Some of my personal friends and acquaintances go so far as to even do the opposite that a fear based decision may suggest.  I recommend that if one becomes aware that a decision is being made with fear as a driving force, to stop. Breathe deeply in and out and go inside one’s inner Self for direction. I often suggest the use of a simple technique I refer to as “STAR”.  STAR is an acronym for:  Stop, Think, Assess and Redirect to a healthy alternative.  Even the simple exercise of breathing deeply in and out will help to release the fear.  Susan Jeffers, a life coach and spiritual guide suggests, “Feel the fear and do it anyway.”