joy

WHAT DOES A THOUGHT HAVE IN COMMON WITH A LION?

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The myriad of different personal/spiritual growth books and self-help programs available today all concur on at least one primary tenet – that our thoughts are far more powerful than we realize. Thoughts do indeed have the ability to create form, and if one doubts this to be true, they simply need to look around them and acknowledge that literally any man-made thing in existence had to first begin with a thought. And thought, coupled with strong emotion, leads to even faster manifestations.

 

The power of thought to create form also applies to our bodies. Through our thoughts and the emotions that emerge from them, we can either create healthy bodies, or we can develop illnesses and diseases. Anyone who has read the alternative healing information I’ve shared on this blog is aware that I am totally convinced that negative thinking/emotions are at the foundation of all physical problems.

 

The fact is our amazing bodies were expertly designed to protect us from legitimate, physical threats. As you probably know, whenever we are presented with one, such an impending attack from a lion or other wild animal, the hypothalamus area of our brain initiates a sequence of nerve cell firing and chemical release that prepares our body for running or fighting (i.e., the infamous fight or flight reaction with its accompanying rush of adrenaline, noradrenaline, and cortisol, as well as other physical reactions, such as the temporary suppression of the immune system).

 

This hard-wired reaction has obviously been a key to the survival of our species, however, these days the vast majority of us rarely have to face such life-threatening situations. And yet, our bodies continue to generate such aggressive responses to far less alarming circumstances, including traffic jams, disagreements with others, financial stresses, work pressures, etc. In the end, the events themselves don’t actually cause our body to generate stress hormones; it is our thoughts about them that do so. As such, just a thought held in our consciousness for more than a passing moment is enough to cause physical reactions within our bodies. And, these reactions, if repeated frequently, often lead to the manifestation of illnesses and diseases due to the immune system suppression referenced earlier.

 

The reality is we unconsciously create our physical dysfunctions by thinking thoughts that automatically trigger fight or flight reactions. It’s therefore clearly in our best interests to develop the ability to remain truly “conscious” in all circumstances by swiftly assuming the perspective a “witness” to our life, rather than solely being the participant. In my book Spirituality Simplified, I quote Fr. Anthony DeMello, who described this as the ability to “step outside of yourself and literally observe whatever is going on in you, and around you as if it were happening to someone else.” In essence, this means the higher part of you (i.e., the “I” in DeMello’s teachings) observes “me” (i.e., the ego).

 

Over a period of years, and with a lot of practice, I’ve developed the ability to shift into that witness perspective, however, there are times when negative (e.g., fearful) thoughts manifest the fight or flight response almost instantaneously in me. Under such circumstances, it almost feels as if I am “being thought” by an outside force rather than it being any type of conscious decision on my part. In such instances, it can be extremely challenging to shut down the fight or flight response once it’s initiated, and that nasty feeling in the pit of my stomach takes hold followed by even more negative thoughts additional stress hormones. To address these types of situations, I’ve found that applying the following steps have been of great value to me:

 

Begin taking slow, deliberate, and very deep breaths down into the abdomen (as opposed to breathing into the chest).

 

Next, start asking questions of yourself either silently or out loud (e.g., Am I safe right now? Is what I am afraid of actually affecting me now? Are my basic needs being met at this moment? Do I have a money problem right this minute? These are just examples, as you obviously need to determine the questions that best suit what you are experiencing.) The answers will usually serve to bring some peace to you, as in most instances the only threat you’re actually facing is the lion in your own mind! If necessary, repeat the questions and keep answering them until you feel your body calm down.

 

If after completing steps one and two the stress response continues to trouble you, then try repeating a mantra such as, “no thought, no thought, no thought, no thought” for at least one and half minutes, or until the calm comes. You also can close your eyes and picture a large movie screen with in front of you with nothing displayed on it and repeat “blank screen, blank screen, blank screen” for a comparable amount of time.

 

It may take a couple of minutes, but eventually the physical symptoms of stress do taper off for me when I apply this technique. It is important to note, however, that although this process can be very helpful, it does not solve the source of the problem; rather, it’s more of a “coping” mechanism.

In the end, to get to the heart of the matter and release whatever lies at the foundation of the stress response requires some type of energy healing modality.

 

This article was written by Jeff Maziarek

Click HERE to Learn more about Jeff’s work.

WEBSITE: http://blog.spiritsimple.com/

 

THE CONNECTION BETWEEN TRAUMA AND PERSONAL GROWTH

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I bet all of you have heard of Post-traumatic stress, but I wonder how many of you know about Post-traumatic growth (PTG). We so often think of the downside of trauma—depression, hyper-vigilance, anxiety and flashbacks—but it turns out that there’s an upside to it as well. The term, post-traumatic growth, was first used by Richard Tedeschi, Ph.D. and Lawrence Calhoun, Ph.D. in 1995 at the University of North Carolina to describe the positive changes that they saw in patients who had been affected by and were struggling with trauma.

If you are someone who’s been impacted by trauma, you might find it hard to believe that there’s anything positive about it, but research tells us that there is. "People develop new understandings of themselves, the world they live in, how to relate to other people, the kind of future they might have and a better understanding of how to live life," says Tedeschi. Tanako Katu, Ph.D. at Oakland University explains that, “PTG…refers to what can happen when someone who has difficulty bouncing back experiences a traumatic event that challenges his or her core beliefs, endures psychological struggle (even a mental illness such as post-traumatic stress disorder), and then ultimately finds a sense of personal growth. It's a process that "takes a lot of time, energy and struggle.”

According to the Post-Traumatic Growth Inventory (PTGI) which uses self-report scales, people may change positively in these areas: appreciation of life, relationship with others, new possibilities in life, personal strength and spiritual change. Does everyone experience growth? Tedeschi says, "It all depends on the trauma, the circumstances, the timing of the measurement…[and] on how you define growth using the PTGI, looking at total score, means, factors or individual items," and he estimates that about one-half to two-thirds of people show PTG.

Key traits that facilitate PTG are extraversion and openness to experience. The former makes people more likely to connect with others (and I would add, perhaps, to seek help from them), while the latter, lacking rigid belief systems, makes them more willing to look at viewpoints that are different from their own. I can validate from my clinical experience that clients who are connected to others do much better recovering from trauma than those who remain isolated and stuck in their traumatic suffering. It’s also been my experience that clients who are willing to shift beliefs and see things from another perspective can heal and often create better lives for themselves than they could ever have imagined. (“Growth after trauma” by Lorna Collier, 11/2016, vol. 47, no. 10, accessed 6/5/17, http://www.apa.org/monitor/2016/11/growth-trauma.aspx).

This article was written by Karen R. Koenig

 Click HERE to Learn more about Karen’s work.

WEBSITES: http://www.karenrkoenig.com/

http://www.nicegirlsfinishfat.com/

YOU’RE GREAT AND YOU’RE AWESOME, JUST AS YOU ARE

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In a town far away on top of a hill,

Lived people so narrow, judgmental and shrill.

They decided on high that all hair should be brown.

They decided for everyone who lived in their town.

 

“To live here,” they cried, “brown hair is a must.

Brown hair is just right, all others are bust.

If other than brown is just who you are,

Then you must leave. Depart! Go very far!

For we won’t have people who don’t look like us.

Brown is what’s right. Our rules. It is thus!”

 

In one of the families, young Trent was born third.

In a family so big and so famous was heard,

A cry of great grief like someone had died,

The aunts and uncles and parents all cried.

Young Trent, their treasure, though brown hair expected,

Was born blond, a towhead, a child rejected.

 

Though cute and adorable, smart with eyes wide,

His parents knew that his hair had to hide.

If the neighbors and townspeople had any doubt,

That Trent was not brown-haired, the family was out.

 

From the day he could crawl, Trent’s hair was dyed brown.

This gave them permission to live in this town.

His parents feared someday his blond hair would show,

Because hair on a kid never ceases to grow.

 

Each Saturday night as the bath waters ran,

A small dab of brown came out of the can,

To cover those roots of the hair that kept growing,

Like a lawn after rain that needed some mowing.

 

And so it was thus, each day spent in “hair-hiding,”

In plain sight, with a hat, and some dye so complying.

And all seemed as okay, no foul and no harm,

Until one day, that day, there came cause for alarm.

 


That day, at the mirror, young Trent stood there staring,

At brown hair AND blond hair – so great, and so glaring.

He’d been told his whole life about hair not so brown,

These people were gross, not fit for their town.

He realized that day he was different than most.

He was blond, not brown-haired. He’s handsome, not gross.

 

He called to his parents to share his great joy

He was different – unique – not an average boy.

He loved this about him. It gave him great pride.

He was different indeed. He had nothing to hide.

 

We are each born great, we’re remarkable art.

We are perfect, unique, not a kind of half-start.

We can’t change who we are. That’s a great thing.

We are who we are; it’s our hardwiring.

 

His parents warned, they cautioned and cried.

“Being different’s not easy, so please Trent just hide.

Let’s dye your hair brown so you fit and blend in.

Let’s get the brown back so life’s safe as it’s been.”

 

But Trent just said, “No!” on that major day.

“Born different, born right,” is just what he’d say.

“Born blond, not brown-haired, is how I exist.

Being true to myself is what I insist.”

 

“For someone much greater thought I should be,

A towhead, a blond, not a fake brown-haired me.

Who are these others, with comments to make?

I am who I am. God made no mistake.”

 

The hair dying stopped on that fateful day.

Pretending was done on the 18th of May.

Proud to be done with the hair-dying story,

Trent wanted his real life, a life of grand glory.

A life that was honest and open and clear,

A life to be lived without hiding or fear.

 

Trent marched to school with hair like the sun.

The gold in it shone, like threads that been spun,

But support did not happen, not a moment or second.

It didn’t work out as he thought or had reckoned.

They taunted and teased, chased, hit and called, “Nay!”

It changed all his friends in only one day.

 

Chased into the woods, with mean words attacking.

Trent stayed hiding there ‘til daylight went packing.

He hid in the dark and was sobbing with fear,

That someone who hated his hair could be near.

 

“How could this all matter?” He wondered. He cried.

“How could being different make others despise?

I have no control of the color of my hair,

Born with it dark or born with it fair.

Like our gender, or height, preference or skin tone,

We get what we get, it’s really our own.

For down deep I’m still me, the same me I have been.

Down deep, I’m still Trent, their classmate and friend.”

 

And in that tough moment, a moment of fear,

Young Trent saw a stranger, approaching, quite near.

A man with a beard, long, thick and so white;

A smile so warm, so kind and so bright.

“What brings you to woods, so dark and so deep?

The old man continued, “And can cause you to weep?”

 

Trent shared his sad story in every detail.

The old man just listened and grew very pale.

He waited ‘til young Trent was all about finished,

Did not interrupt, critique or diminish

The sadness, the pain, the hurt so disarming

That someone so young could find life so alarming.

 

Once Trent had recounted his unhappy story,

The old man responded with strength and with glory.

His words were bold, his lessons were wise.

Trent listened intently for ways to devise,

 A way to be happy when others all yack.

To be strong and courageous when others attack.

 

The wise man was brilliant and very aware.

He took in a breath, then started to share:

“We are truly born great, just as we are!

Our lives are important. You’re amazing, my young star.

But with others, they think, it’s for them to say

Who is fine, who is good, who is right, who’s okay.”



“For greatness is not in brown hair or blond.

Greatness is not in how our words sound.

Greatness is not on our outside – our skin.

Greatness, true greatness, always happens within.”

 

“We just can’t know how great you can become

By looking at hair color. That’s crazy, that’s dumb.

Down deep we’re amazing and awesome and bold.

Down deep is our value, our treasure, our gold.”

 

“No one has eyes to see what you see.

No one can tell you who or what you should be.

That’s your job. Yes it is. It’s all up to you.

It’s your work and your life. You’ve got to be true.”

 

“Life isn’t easy, its tough and its trying.

It gives you hard tests to make sure you’re applying

What you know of TrueYou, what gifts you receive,

How great you can be and what you believe.”

 

“You were born awesome – awesome indeed.

But to live each day awesome you must become freed

From the judgments of others, from perspectives so narrow

To let your light soar like a brilliant gold arrow.”


“The world needs TrueYou – the “you” as you are.

Blond or brunette, gay, straight or bizarre.

You are you, and amazing! The “you” born just right.

You were born to shine brightly, to share your great light.”

 

But you can’t shine in life, when you let yourself hide.

And you can’t change the world, if you’re ashamed inside.

You didn’t choose how you’re born, where you’re from.

But you can surely choose the “you” you become.

 

Young Trent felt alive and committed to greatness.

He thanked the wise man but feared for the lateness.

His family’d be worried, scared and unbound,

That young Trent was not home, not safe and not sound.

 

He hurried right home in the dark of the night.

But this time for him, a walk without fright.

More aware, more informed and so much more wise.

He got to his door at a quarter to five.

Once home and together, the lost son lamented

With details and stories. The sobbing relented.

Trent shared a new lesson of power and strength.

They stood right by him; they’d go to great lengths

To handle what happens, to just rise above.

To help Trent show up to a life he can love.

 

The next day with power and confidence glowing,

Trent moved through the town without any fear showing.

He let loose his blond hair and wore it with pride.

He stood up to names and to insults so snide.

 

His courage to be true soon had others inspired,

The insults then stopped, mean comments subsided.

Trent showed that hair color makes no difference at all

Be true to yourself and you’ll never feel small.

We didn’t choose how we’re born, where we’re from.

But we can surely choose the “who” we become.

 

And soon many others with all hair colors flowing,

Appeared in the town, the numbers were growing.

People in fear with hair a fake brown,

Were actually there hiding, still living in town.

 

Pretending is bad, it loads on the strife.

Hiding restricts us, it limits our life.

We are each given gifts to discover and use,

And we shortchange the world if we don’t know or refuse

To be open and honest and accept the real “me”.

Trent learned that it takes this to really be free.

 

In just that one moment, things started to change.

People are people, not weirdoes or strange,

Just people, all different, all great, all divine,

Allowed to be true, to be honest, and fine.

 

And changed they all were from perspectives so narrow.

They cheered and applauded and hailed Trent like pharaoh.

But Trent just continued to live life each day,

Honest and great, in his unique way.

 

From that day on, in towns far and near

That kept people out because of some fear.

Now invited them in – all are welcome you know.

We all belong. Yes we do! It is right. It is so.

Come out from your hiding. Join life. Be alive!

When you hide you stay small and afraid - you can’t thrive.

You’re an original, not a copy or fake.

You’re the real deal, just perfect; you are no mistake.

 

So find your right place, as soon as you can.
Be an accountant, a salesman, a singer or stuntman.

It’s all up to you, the directions you choose.
It’s all up to you, don’t wait, don’t you snooze.


Each day that goes by, you never get back.

Each moment, each day, each minute, each track

Is gone. Yes it is, but the next one is here.

Use it wisely. Don’t waste it! Let your best self appear.

 

You were born awesome, no matter what you’ve been taught.

You were born amazing, born cool – you got what you got.

It’s your gift. It’s yours. It’s all just for you.

It’s divine in its nature so, be true to your “who.”

 

Be yourself, be your best. Live life your own way.

Be proud, find your place, make the most of each day.

You’re great and your awesome, just as you are.

Be your true self, be a bright shining star.

This article was written by Jay Forte

Click HERE to Learn more about Jay’s work.

WEBSITE: https://thefortefactor.com/

MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL WELLNESS

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Several days a call came in from a parent that was distraught about a diagnosis that had been given to her son. She was mad, hurt, confused and scared.

After hearing her out, she asked "What does it mean." After asking several questions, from her perspective or what she heard was nothing related to what the diagnosis meant or was help there was available for her son as her as that parent. Spent more than an hour slowly helping her with a basic understanding. One that she could grasp and receive. I then provided her with referral information where to seek help.

This conversation got me thinking that part of the Stigma that is prevalent today our consistent use of the terms Mental Health, or Mental Illness.

In other words, we continue to "Enable" the Label and Stigmas. We need to be aware that what we are really talking about is Mental and Emotional Wellness. When we begin to see the affect that our language and definitions have on Enabling the Stigmas and Labels, we then will change and begin to truly think about the Impact we have on People we are called to serve. 

Please think about this. To me it is extremely Important in our Service.



This article was written by Rev.  Baisden, MACP, MIN

Click HERE to Learn more about Marc Baisden.

Website: https://www.alignable.com/anchorage-ak/recovery-intervention-services

RESPECTING THE POWER OF OUR SPOKEN WORD

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Within “Spirituality Simplified” I included this passage because I felt it was a very important admonition:

 

“DO NOT SPEAK WHAT YOU DON’T WANT, because it is done when you speak it, every idle word. The laws of the universe do not sift through whether you mean what you say or intend it to happen. The creative process only puts it in motion.”

– Diandra, in “A New Day Is Dawning”

 

Now ponder on that for a moment…what it speaks to is that our words have POWER, much, much more than we realize. The concept of the “word made flesh” in biblical terms is related here as well.

 

SO, how often do you hear people speak about what they “don’t want” on a daily basis? The truth is, we are all guilty of it every single time we tell a “story” about something negative we are going through, or have been through, or speak in an anxious way about the future. Yes, every time we speak it we are building more and more energy around it and reinforcing it into our lives.

 

Some might say that we need to share feelings as opposed to stuffing them down. I get that, and, if one must “get it off their chest,” so to speak, how about this – do it ONE time with someone you trust who can hold the space of compassion, and who also can forget they ever heard it.

This as opposed to people broadcasting it all over Facebook and other social media sites and then having tens (or hundreds or thousands) of people adding even more energy to what they DON’T want!

 


This article was written by Jeff Maziarek

Click HERE to Learn more about Jeff’s work.

 WEBSITE: http://blog.spiritsimple.com/

HOW TRAUMA CAN CHANGE LIVES — FOR THE BETTER

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Most of us think about trauma as just about the worst thing that can happen to us. And for many, it is. Even if you’ve survived trauma, you still may be dealing with its physical and emotional aftermath, which perhaps includes emotional eating. How, then, can trauma ever have an upside?

 

In “How trauma can change lives—for the better,” Jim Rendon, author of Upside: The New Science of Post-Traumatic Growth, says yes, indeed, it can (TIME 8/3/15, p. 29). Therapists and the general public have long been schooled in the notion that trauma is terrible and nothing more, he says, one that changes peoples’ lives for the worse and stays with them to death. Post-traumatic stress disorder, with its nightmares, hyper-vigilance and flashbacks, can be frightening to experience or live with in a loved one.

 

What, then, is science telling Rendon that makes him believe that trauma sometimes can be anything but a negative experience? He says that “an estimated 75% of people will experience a traumatic event in their lifetime” and that, while many report negative effects, down the road, others report positive changes—greater inner strength, increased intimacy, and a “reorientation” in life toward more fulfilling goals. In short, over time, the pain of trauma can help people “change for the better.” Rendon maintains that “Growth begins with healing from trauma.”

 

He also says that growth and transformative change are based on the premise that people seek and receive help. Sadly, many trauma survivors don’t recognize themselves as having been trauma victims and, therefore, forgo clinical treatment. They’re too scared of opening up old wounds or too ashamed of what happened to them, even when they were innocent victims. Moreover, when trauma occurs, their pre-trauma mental health determines how they’ll react to and heal from it.

 

I’ve seen people do exactly what Rendon says: survive trauma and go on to change their lives—and the lives of others—for the better because of it. This happens when: women and men who are raped go on to become sexual abuse counselors and victim advocates, parents of murdered children put their hearts into changing gun laws and increasing access to mental health counseling, and when people hurt by drunk drivers work to educate the public about drinking and driving. If you’re a trauma survivor, consider how both trauma and healing might change your life for the better. Then, even if you’re afraid, get the treatment you need.

 

This article was written by Karen R. Koenig

Click HERE to Learn more about Karen’s work.

WEBSITES: http://www.karenrkoenig.com/

http://www.nicegirlsfinishfat.com/

NOT “THE ANSWER” BUT "HER ANSWER"

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Until Valeria Teles called me, it never dawned to me that anyone else was concerned that the people of the world were chasing their tails following the dogma of religions, believing the religion they chose to follow was the truth.  I’m reasonably well read.  And Cox cable gives me multiple channels to select from to learn the banter of drug companies, automobile companies, unlimited elixirs to cure everything from toe nail fungus, coughs, and cancer.  Why should Valeria Teles podcast succeed in this maelstrom of “buy me now, I’ve got the answer.”  Well they won’t cover her over with their blarney,  no they won’t.  The answer is, there is “No Answer.”  There is only belief.  And the reason Valeria’s podcast may be the spark that ignites the world is, maybe she got it right.  But she needs help.

                  What did they get right?  They got from the beginning of time, religion has ruled the people.  And it rules us today.  It distorts our lives in all possible ways contrary to a Valeria’s life fit for joy.  Can any listener to this podcast say their life has been joyful?   Everyone of the presenters to Valeria’s podcasts are over 40.  Each has had to learn the reason they were not loved and cherished and their learning to overcome the damaging effects gave them a purpose to help other people escape their fate.  Everyone should listen to Lillie Thomlin.  She said, “I didn’t get well until I gave up all hope of a better past.”  That is what the presenters are saying on this forum.  And it is free.

                  And the scams are voluminous.  How can you tell the truth from “gotcha.”  Money!  Money is how you tell the well intentioned from the greedy.  Valeria has produced a sensitive and insightful anthology for people who find the podcast to secure a steady and reliable future.   She doesn’t have “The Answer.”   She has “an” answer, until you find your own.   Most of the presenters deal with addictions, relationships, or death of a loved one.  And those are important issues, which are real.  But we have to deal with the root cause of Man’s in humanity to Man if we are ever going to escape the uncreditable harm to humanity we continue to inflict on each other.  And Valeria addresses that.

                  FOOD.  We have enough food to feed the world if the governments of the world would let the free flow of food be as easy as the free flow of money.  SHELTER.  We can shelter the world if we spent the money on housing not bombs.  EDUCATION.  Stop the inane education of markets and get to basics.  RRR.  Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic and let the child chose his/her vocation.  Let the future be the goal of progress.  Let the morning be the beginning of life.  Let everyone enjoy a fit for the life experience.   

                  Valeria is the most well intentioned person I’ve ever met.  I believe her podcasts are an intelligent use of the collective wisdom of man that has been collected.  They are there for the benefit of all humanity.  They are meant to make the world a safer place.  They are there to make the world a happier place. 

This article was written by Lawrence McGrath.

Lawrence wrote the book: A Cry From The Heart: A Personal Essay

Click HERE for his book on Amazon.

5 TIPS FOR BUILDING HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS

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Our personal relationships are an essential part of life. We are naturally wired to connect and collaborate with others.

 

Healthy relationships contain core essential elements including respect, appreciation, and freedom. In balanced relationships, each person contributes thoughts and feelings while remaining responsible for his or her own behavior.

 

Healthy relationships are equitable; both people contribute equally — or at least balance out in the long run. Lack of balance in a relationship can show up as criticism, control, or neglect. Unhealthy relationships not only erode the mind and body, they create barriers and slow our spiritual growth.

 

In order for our relationships to remain healthy, here are five considerations:

 

Communication is consistent. Without clear communication, relationships wither. We are all unique individuals, and our perceptions, assumptions, and conclusions are also unique. Having differing opinions can be a good thing! Too much of the same routine can result in complacency and boredom. And communication isn’t just speaking; effective listening skills are imperative. Sometimes we learn the most about ourselves from each other.

 

Respect isn’t optional; it’s necessary. Unhealthy relationships are often a result of losing respect for one another. Respect comes from appreciating differences, considering perspectives, and honoring preferences. Once you lose respect for someone, the relationship starts to unravel. Over time, respect — like trust — can be earned by actions and words. Even if a relationship has become stagnant or distant, respect can still endure.

 

Healthy boundaries are clear. Creating healthy personal boundaries facilitates self-reliance and helps to develop nurturing, loving, and mature relationships. Having clear boundaries requires that we focus on ourselves and learn to communicate our preferences in healthy and respectful ways. Setting personal boundaries allows us to express our truth and beliefs to others with confidence and courage. Acknowledging and honoring the personal boundaries of others demonstrates respect and builds trust.

 

Growing together is as important as growing individually. We are all in a perpetual state of growth and expansion. When we grow individually, we expand our thoughts and beliefs by learning from ourselves. When we grow in relationships, we learn from each other. The contrast that our relationships bring may cause us to grow apart unless we make a commitment to recognize our differences as strengths. Growing together in relationship means being able to learn from each other, embrace differences, and choose to walk together on a common path.

 

Follow the love. Authentic love conquers all doubt, fear, shortcomings, feelings of inadequacy, and negativity. To be truly loved by someone is to be recognized and “seen” for all of the things we are — complete and whole — with all of our strengths and weaknesses; ups and downs; fabulousness and foibles. And it all begins with us. When we learn to love, accept, support, and appreciate ourselves, our relationships will always benefit.

 

This article was written by Michael Thomas Sunnarborg

Click HERE to Learn more about Michael’s work.

WEBSITE: https://michaelcreative.com/books/

HEAD VERSUS HEART: WHY DID THEY EVER SPLIT UP?

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When I was growing up in Ireland and attending secondary school, I had to choose between the sciences and the humanities. At the tender age of 14, when I was clueless about who I really was and what I wanted, I had to make this life-defining choice. Consulting the career-guidance counsellor did not help, as he himself had clearly chosen the wrong career.

Those who wanted a more credible, secure career opted for the sciences, whereas those who wanted to follow their hearts or creative yearnings opted for the arts. We learn early in life that the world of science offers respectability, credibility and security, while the arts and humanities are considered to be less serious or worthy. You don’t often hear about starving engineers, but starving artists appear to be a worldwide phenomenon.

This separation of head from heart has created a fundamental rift between these two essential and complementary aspects of our selves. Without one, we lose perspective; without the other, we lose our humanity. With too much of one, we end up stuck in our heads, relying on logic to make things work; with too much of the other, we may become ungrounded or fail to stand up for ourselves when challenged.

Having just published a book (see https://www.emfoff.com/) that blends science and sentiments in a rather novel way, I was nonetheless surprised when several people told me how brave I was. Did I not worry about losing credibility by talking about consciousness and feelings? Wasn’t I afraid that real scientists would dismiss this kind of book as fluff, lacking scientific credibility? I never even thought about this. To me, science and humanity must come together as equal partners for our world to make sense—and for us to evolve in a positive direction. After all, many of the problems I was addressing in my book were the direct result of the split between head and heart, which is one of the key reasons we have abdicated control over our own lives, surrendering our sense of what’s right in deference to those who supposedly know better than we do.

Body Knows Best

Yet there is no greater authority than the human body—our own personal medium of evolution—and reclaiming our autonomy requires engaging not just our hearts and minds but also our spiritual selves. We must be fully human to be fully effective. We must engage our multi-dimensional selves if we want to have an impact that goes beyond conventional approaches. We must elevate our consciousness if we want to rise above the dysfunction of our world. And we must tell a new story about what’s possible and how powerful we really are.

While we might tend to give more credence to science than anything else, we also love stories. We immerse ourselves in stories, whether they’re our own personal accounts, the books we read, the movies we watch or the history we research. Stories are both an escape from current reality and a potential springboard to a brighter future. We can use them to perpetuate an old pattern or to create a vision of something fabulous.

Think of famous actors and how much money they make. Who else gets paid big bucks for telling stories and prancing around pretending to be something they’re not? Okay, yes, politicians do, although they don’t get paid as much as movie stars and they’re meant to protect our interests rather than just providing entertainment.

Our love of stories, movies and fantasies is all about creativity and imagination. It has nothing to do with science. And science itself would be a lot less advanced if it weren’t for our capacity to dream and envisage phenomenal things, and to tap into universal intelligence for inspiration, healing and breakthroughs. Creativity, intuition and imagination are not just necessary counterparts to left-brain scientific thinking; they are often the midwives that enable a theory, idea or innovation to be born.   

Even scientists fall in love. We all have hearts, although we might try to hide our true feelings in certain contexts, for fear of being considered weak or effeminate. Yet we now know that heartbreak, emotional disconnectedness and loneliness can cause heart attacks and very real, physical conditions, whereas heartfelt emotions are magnetic, connecting us to things about which we care passionately, when fuelled by positive intention and determination. The heart does not use logical analysis to make inspired choices. It operates on a higher plane, tapping into the infinite realm of universal intelligence and intuition.

If your heart is disconnected from your head, it’s a bit like revving your car when it’s stuck in neutral. There’s power there but it’s not engaged; there’s potential for forward movement, but no one is actually driving, steering or focusing in a particular direction. Lots of noise but no action. A waste of energy with no useful outcome.

Home is where the heart is, but the heart is also home. If we abandon it in favour of our heads, we may feel lost, disconnected or conflicted, experiencing mixed results in our endeavours. Reconnecting to our heart and allowing it to guide us is the only sure way to stay true to ourselves and to create a life we love.

To get reconnected, try to incorporate the following seven steps into your daily routine:

1.     Slow down and switch off. Fast-paced living prevents us from connecting with our feelings, processing our emotions and integrating life’s experiences. Busyness, social media and constant online connectivity can be a great way to avoid feeling pain, loss, conflict etc. We need stillness so we can become aware of the important subtle messages from our hearts and bodies.

2.     Practise meditating. Emptying the mind and taking a break from analysing or questioning our lives creates space for inspiration and answers, while giving our over-worked bodies and brains a rest.

3.     Spend time in nature. Being in a natural environment—away from noise, machinery, traffic, phones, computers, work and people—is the most powerful way to ground ourselves and find peace. Nature is all about growth and life, and we could not exist without it. When we spend time in the forest, by the ocean or on a mountaintop, we revitalize our bodies and feed our spirits, often gaining a fresh perspective on things.

4.     Nourish yourself. A healthy body promotes a clear mind and a happy heart. We must nourish our brain, soothe our nervous system and boost our immune system if we want to stay balanced. Wholesome, unprocessed foods, healthy oils (such as organic coconut, camelina, avocado and fish oils), iodine (to protect against manmade electromagnetic radiation), antioxidants (such as vitamins C and E), superfoods (such as chlorella, blueberries, cacao and goji berries) and lots of pure water all help to keep the heart and body healthy. 

5.     Work your body. Moving your body aerobically takes you out of your head and into your feelings. Kundalini yoga or other vigorous exercise stirs things up, releases tension and prompts our innate wisdom and deeper feelings to surface. The body holds all the clues and answers we need, and the heart is its most reliable messenger—our built-in wellness ambassador, best friend and advisor. 

6.     Write it out. Writing can be a great way of exploring your deeper feelings and thinking outside the box. Try writing non-stop for five minutes every day, with no fixed theme and no editing—just whatever comes to you. Our hearts and minds hold all the insights we could ever want and spontaneous writing can help us to access them.

7.     Laugh and connect with loved ones. Everyone needs meaningful human connections for physical, emotional and mental health. Sometimes we may not even know what we feel or want until we talk to a friend or close relative. Relating to others helps us to relate to our deeper selves, and having love in our lives makes all the challenges worthwhile.  

What works for you? What process, food or supplement has helped you stay emotionally connected and on track with your life?

This article was written by Olga Sheean

Click HERE to Learn more about Olga’s work.

WEBSITE: https://olgasheean.com

Cancer?  Chemo? Consider!

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This is such a difficult topic to write about. There is much to say and words just do not seem adequate. I have lost several loved ones to cancers of various sorts. It pains me to hear more and more about this malicious and vicious "C" word that wreaks havoc upon millions of people. Whether we are the individuals contending with it or having to watch a loved one walk through this dark valley, we all are touched by it sooner or later in one way or another.

 

I've lost three aunts to three different types of cancer. My father also went through a bout of cancer as well. Thanks be to God, he has recovered. My aunts did not fare so well. They all passed away. Two of them dealt with it for several years and the third succumbed rather quickly. Each of these dear ones, with the exception of my father went through extensive chemotherapy, radiation and conventional drugs. I began to wonder about this. He is the only one who did not undergo these "egregious" forms of therapy. And he is the only one still here with me. I have also watched as many friends and co-workers have undergone the same conventional treatments - all to no avail.

 

I am sick and tired of the loss column growing at insidious rates while the win column shrinks. What is the common denominator in the 'loss' column? Much to my amazement, it is the receiving of the aforementioned conventional treatments. Yes, dear reader - a grim reality, is it not? This may be difficult to come to terms with; especially because the FDA sanctions these "therapies".

 

Regardless of the grim statistics, most physicians (albeit many well-meaning) continue to prescribe these conventional treatments along with conventional drug therapies such as Tamoxifen given to women with breast cancer.  However, more and more women are opting not to take this medication. “The list of side effects (some of them life-threatening) associated with taking Tamoxifen is lengthy. True, not everyone suffers from side effects, but we are discovering that some women don’t metabolize the drug very well.  For those who have tried the drug and do suffer from side effects, these can be so life-altering and impactful to their quality of life they feel they are losing their minds.” (1)

 

If the side effects are not awful enough, then there are the lies women are told about taking Tamoxifen.  Many physicians tell their patients that if they take Tamoxifen for a period of 5 years after their treatments it will give them as much as a 50% chance of living disease free. (This percentage varies amongst doctors and which studies they rely upon) (2) The horrible reality is that studies actually show this drug to be a catalyst for even more aggressive types of cancers such as liver and uterine cancer when taken for a prolonged period of time.(Researchers discovered in 1992 that Tamoxifen is a liver carcinogen in rats which led to the state of California proclaiming it to be a known carcinogen under legislation formerly known as Prop 65) It has also been linked to fatal blood clots and also interferes with many other functions in the body.(3)

 

And now, dear reader, here is the good news.  Cancer is not a death sentence! There IS hope! Unbeknownst to millions of people, there are other amazing, wonderful life saving/giving treatments - alternative treatments - that have incredible success rates. The saddest, most heinous fact is that these alternative treatments are not to be found very easily within the United States because they are not 'legal'. So I would urge you to do your own research.  

 

In my humble opinion, the perfect place for you to begin would be the very place that my journey to these amazing truths and HOPE began in 2015. This is when I found Ty and Charlene Bollinger. (The accredited information in this article is taken from their website.) In 2015 Ty and Charlene put together a 9 part documentary series called "The Truth about Cancer - A Global Quest". This incredibly brave couple opened up an entirely new world for me regarding cancer and its treatments. Just last month they did another 7 part series entitled "Eastern Medicine: Journey Through Asia". And then consider this . . . you can fight cancer right from your own kitchen! I would recommend a fabulous book called Cancer-Free with Food by Liana Werner-Gray. This is a step by step plan to fight disease, nourish the body and restore health. It includes 100+ recipes.

 

You won’t have to dig too deep to discover mind-boggling truths that will make you angry – righteously and justifiably so; especially if you or a loved one has suffered with cancer. Conventional wisdom has failed us for years. Isn't it about time we find out why?

 

Be encouraged! Cancer is not a death sentence! There is hope!

This article was written by Barbie White

Click HERE to Learn more about her work.

WEBSITE: https://737flygirl.wixsite.com/wellnesskitchen

MINDING THE MIND: WAIT, ASK AND TRUST YOUR INSTINCT

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I discovered these words, torn and discarded from my 8 year old granddaughter’s notebook, in our trash bin after one of our son’s visits. My husband had lost his hearing aid. Were it not for his absent-minded toss and my fear of the financial consequence, I would certainly never have crawled headfirst into our stinky trash bin. The wisdom of my granddaughter’s lyrics, so innocently and faithfully written, might have been lost but for grandpa’s misplaced hearing aid. The irony is not lost on me. These words would have been forever silent, lost among the ruins of banana peels and broken boxes. Such is the perfection of life.

Don’t we all know, at some level, the wisdom and truth of my granddaughter’s words? A child can only know that one thing: you and me came true into the world. As children, we have no choice but to trust that instinct, ignorant of the world and armed only with innocence. The crux of the matter is that we must survive and so begins the surrender of that True Self. We watch, we adjust, we give ourselves over to a mentally fabricated “pretend-self” to persevere. As adults, it takes awareness and years to erase that kind of conditioning.

“Minding the Mind” is the art of remembering our basic intuitive wisdom. It takes time to hear the deep inner astute voice that recognizes and embraces the Self we are meant to be. It takes time to de-condition the mind. It takes time to trust again.

Mental chatter is not the same thing as the brain processing information. Without the brain, our bodies would be lifeless. Without the mind, however, our lives would be fulfilling and purposeful. Perhaps baffling on the surface, the profundity of ignoring the mind is life changing. After six years of practicing this I am far closer to being myself than at any time in my 65 years on this planet. Finally comfortable in my own skin, my life is better. My family better for my continuing effort.

What I have discovered is that the mind does not know, it only harvests information. It can help me drive a car and remember how to turn on the coffee pot. It can help me spell and write stories that have meaning to me. It remembers (sometimes) where I put my keys and how to get to the store. But when it comes to decision making it is truly inept, a light switch on a fake wall, disconnected from its power source. My mind has gotten me into more predicaments, more trouble, than I care to remember but am inclined not to forget.

Our mental construct teachers us to hate, to fear, to object to anything that does not align with our false image of “right” or “wrong.” We build walls, real or imagined, and align with false narratives that keep us acceptable. We stay in relationships that abuse us, believe people who lie, and/or surrender our authority of “inner knowing” to another. In the most heinous of extremes, we vilify and tell lies about others who are descent, fly airplanes into buildings, or use automatic weapons to destroy life. All based upon mental decisions that choke the life out of humanity.

But there is hope. There is a way. There is a map. It begins with practicing one simple exercise that can change a person’s life forever. The secret?

WAIT.

Wait. Ask. Instinct. Trust.

Wait before making any decision or before taking an action. The world will not end if you take time to clearly know or sense whether something is true for you or not.

Ask a simple question, Is it true?  Ninety-nine percent of mental chatter is false and sells lies and conspiracy theories, most often attached in some way to religious, political or social dogma.

Instinct. Trust yours.  People who trust themselves are calm, confident, and assured. They make an impact. We cannot be like everyone else because we are not like anyone on the planet. We are magnificent in our own right and are enough. We are more than enough. We are Divinely created and perfectly Designed. Life knows where we live.

Trust that. Trust that your gifts will be discovered once you know what those gifts are. Your contributions are worthy when created from your uniqueness and will always find a home in those who are ready to receive them.

There are a lot of minds asking us to be like them.

There is no one like you.

I invite you to be you, wholly and completely, beautifully and correctly you. Within the cocoon the butterfly longs to take flight.

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This article was written by Candace Conrad and inspired by Isabella Conradi and Reese Jessner.

Click HERE to Learn more about Candace’s work.

WEBSITES: https://www.lydlifemap.com/

https://www.candaceconradi.com/

HOW NOT TO GET FAT WITH FAT IN YOUR DIET

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I know this may be shocking, but eating fat does not necessarily make you fat. Furthermore, dropping fat from your diet doesn’t necessarily make you lose weight. In fact, it can even have the opposite effect! As many people know, there are healthy fats and unhealthy fats. But since “fat” is too often regarded as a cause of our obesity problem, we don’t differentiate between the two in the way that is absolutely vital. All fat is inherently seen as bad by many of us.

But fat is essential to health! And the good news is for maintaining a healthy weight (and many other pluses) it’s only a matter of understanding how to get it right.

 

Like carbohydrates, fat is fuel. And many vitamins and minerals are fat soluble which means that fat is required as the catalyst to break these nutrients down for the body to absorb. If you’re on a low-fat diet for even just a couple weeks, you’re likely to feel some negative effects, ironically including weight-gain. And you can eat all the right nutrients, but if you don’t have the right amount of fat to act as the catalyst to absorb the nutrients, you can actually become deficient in them.

 

Fats are also needed for healthy joints and connective tissues. And here’s another plus: fats satisfy an appetite quickly to help prevent overeating. Ever sit down with a bag of low-fat chips and, before you know it, you’ve polished off the whole bag? You keep eating them because the body never feels satisfied. It’s the same with all “low-fat” foods like crackers, bread, cereal, pasta, and other starchy foods. It’s easy to overeat them. And then what does your body do with the overflow of the starchy calories? It stores them as…fat!

One-hundred calories of the healthy fats (what you might find in an avocado, for instance), tend to be more satisfying to the body than one-hundred calories of carbohydrates, like found in grains. Same amount of calories, much different level of satiation.

 

Finally, did you know that the human brain is eighty percent fat? Not only have we become a nation of people getting fatter with our low-fat diets, we’re potentially compromising our neurological health.

 

The answer is not to remove fat from your diet. The answer is to eat more healthy fats while avoiding the unhealthy ones. It’s the unhealthy fats that are responsible, to a large degree, for obesity and its attendant diseases. Heart disease and diabetes are on the rise and unhealthy fat is a big culprit.

 

Unhealthy fats are everywhere. A little history lesson: back in the 1980s, food manufacturers came out with cheap ways to cook things. Suddenly we were all eating foods cooked in inexpensive oils like corn, canola, or safflower oil. These are expeller-pressed oils that become rancid even before you buy them, and they are guaranteed to make the thyroid, which governs your metabolism, weaker. These oils are what you find in common snack foods, bread, cereal, and similar processed foods.

 

Even worse is hydrogenated vegetable oil. Hydrogenated vegetable oil is produced by heating vegetable oil to 700 degrees and then filtering hydrogen gas through it. The oil becomes unstable at such high temperatures, thus allowing the hydrogen atoms to bond with the oil. The oil then cools to become a solid at room temperature, like butter. The process has a dangerous side effect: free radicals. What are free radicals? These are unstable molecules that roam around the body chipping particles from cell walls, which then create more free radicals.

As you may know, eliminating free radicals is a vital role of antioxidants, found primarily in raw fruits and vegetables.

 

Most people consume too many unhealthy fats that contain these free radicals. And an excess amount of them can be costly to one’s health in several ways. The deteriorating nature of free radicals is among the primary causes of aging. And they can also be a cause of mutated cell growth and a weakened immune system making the body vulnerable to cancer.

Free radicals almost always suppress the body’s thyroid function and that, right there, is a big cause of obesity. You zap your thyroid and you zap your metabolism. Slow metabolism = weight gain.

 

To offset this, once oils like hydrogenated vegetable oil hit the market, we started reducing our intake of all fats. We started looking for low-fat alternatives and starving ourselves of the needed healthy fats and buying into the calorie-counting protocol as a discipline. That’s a recipe tailor-made for failure.

 

Fats come in two categories: saturated and unsaturated and it’s easy to tell the difference. Saturated fat is solid at room temperature, unsaturated is liquid at room temperature. You need both. Yes, contrary to what you might have heard, you need even the saturated kind, as we’ll discuss.

 

Unsaturated fats can be found in avocados, raw nuts and seeds, and oils that are liquid at room temperature, like olive oil. All processed oils should be cold-pressed. Cold-pressing means what the name implies: the oil is extracted under cool temperatures, thus protecting the potential health-creating qualities of the oil. But these are oils you don’t want to cook with. Unsaturated fats break down when cooked. (This is why fried foods aren’t good for us even if they’re cooked in olive or similar quality oils.)

Since unsaturated oils like olive oil break down eventually, even at room temperature, no oil has a shelf life longer than a few months once it’s opened. After such time the oil will be rancid, although undetectable by smell.

 

The omega-3 essential fatty acids are worthy of extra attention. These are oils found in nuts and seeds like flax and chia, as well as fish. While I wouldn’t necessarily consider these fatty acids “essential,” they do have great nutritive value. Omega-3 oils can lower cholesterol and are also blood thinning which naturally can be good for many of us. But again, like all other unsaturated fats, heating these oils destroys the health-producing effects. This is part of why you don’t want to overcook fish. It’s also why roasted nuts and seeds—as opposed to raw—aren’t exactly healthy.

Flaxseed oil can be a good product, but the raw seed as a whole food is how you get those omega-3s as fresh as possible. With fish oil products, there is a lot of debate as to whether they truly retain any beneficial value since the processing involves heat and oxygen. The data pertaining to the fatty acids being preserved for the sake of a long shelf-life is weak, and I believe the whole fish to be the superior option.

 

If you want to cook with oil, then it’s important to use oils that are saturated fats which are more heat stable: butter or ghee (oil extracted from butter that is less likely to burn) or coconut oil for example. Ghee made from butter is completely heat stable making it perfect for any high-heat cooking. Ghee has been in the Ayurvedic diet of India for many years and is generally available at any natural food store. Coconut oil deserves special attention as well as a place in every kitchen pantry. In addition to being very heat stable, it has a healing effect on the thyroid. If you suspect that you’re overweight due in part to a suppressed thyroid, then try taking raw, cold pressed, organic coconut oil (not palm oil which is unhealthy). It may sound counterintuitive that a saturated fat such as coconut can help with weight loss, but it can. Try it for yourself. Take one tablespoon daily in a smoothie or melt it into warm foods.

Another benefit is that saturated fat like coconut lubricates the joints and bowels, helping them both to move a little better. Also the brain is made of saturated fat, making a supply of it important for the maintenance and regeneration of vital brain tissues.

 

Okay, I know what you must be thinking. Saturated fat? Butter? Really? Sure, it might be eyebrow-raising, but trust me. The key with saturated fats is moderation. Too much saturated fat will raise your cholesterol (even cholesterol-free oil like coconut oil). But is a tablespoon a day of these oils going to raise your cholesterol? Most likely not.

 

A lot of questions that people seem to have about fats center on animal fats in particular. So let’s consider a few of these.

 

Meats. Meats such as beef and chicken should represent only a small part of one’s diet, if any part at all. These saturated fats can increase cholesterol and set a chain reaction towards heart disease and weight gain. The leaner (and less frequent) of these products the better.

 

Eggs. Bad for you, right? Actually, no. Eggs can be an excellent food. Sure, they’re high in cholesterol, but it’s not a cholesterol that raises yours. There is saturated fat in eggs, but only to the tune of less than one gram per egg.

 

Dairy. This is a tradeoff. For protein and fat, milk isn’t bad in moderation, but its main drawback is the presence of lactose (milk sugar) which is mucous-forming, making milk a little bit of a challenge for the body to digest. Yogurt’s a little better than milk in this regard because the friendly bacteria partially break down the lactose making it more digestible.

Note: stay away from pre-sweetened yogurt, which unfortunately represents ninety-percent of yogurts on the market. Most of them use processed sugar. Even the ones that brag about having real fruit still add extra sugar. Go with unsweetened yogurt, and then add the elite sweetener, such as honey or fruit. Raw, unpasteurized dairy is growing in popularity because the idea is that it’s less mucous-forming from maintaining the original enzymes which help digest the lactose.

 

If you do drink milk, it’s best to go with skim milk, right? Wrong. The whole low-fat dairy thing has been problematic. Two-percent and skim milk should just be called what they are: lactose concentrate. They’re hard to digest and a big part of why lactose sensitivity is becoming more common. Our bodies are rebelling. If you wish to have milk, then drink whole milk—just less of it. And you’ll drink less of it because it’ll satisfy much quicker than the milk sugar stuff.

 

Better still, make your own milk! If you have a high-powered blender (a fantastic investment), here’s an easy alternative for milk: blend raw hemp seeds with water. Voila! No straining necessary. Add in a sprinkle of coconut sugar and cinnamon. Homemade almond milk, while more labor intensive, is terrific, too. Boxed almond or soy or other nut milks in the store are less than ideal. Like all nuts and seeds, these are unsaturated oils that go rancid once heated and then packaged. Plus, these milks are often augmented with binders and thickeners to keep the water and oils from separating. Just more food processing that you don’t need.

 

Bottom line: integrate healthy fats into your diet with primarily plant foods. As you can probably guess I am quite partial to sprouted almonds and pumpkin seeds because of their awesome nutritive value. Other raw nuts and seeds such as walnuts, pistachios, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, and brazil nuts are great too. I recommend steering clear of peanuts that have no nutritive value. Remember that the right fats can satisfy your appetite, thus helping to avoid overdoing carbs and sugars that everybody’s been doing due to the lack of satiation from the low-fat diet. (For ways to include healthy fats in your diet check out my recipes here, which in my humble opinion are extraordinary.

 

This article was written by Billy Merritt.

Click HERE to Learn more about his work.
https://www.infinitygreens.com/

ALCOHOL — SANITY — REALITY

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A stronger realization of the evil in drinking hit me recently when I stumbled on some news on Facebook. No, I was not dipping into the Sacramental Wine. A father who had had a couple of bottles too many took hold of the steering wheel and drove himself, his wife and stepmother to the embrace of death. Luckily, thanks to a Good Samaritan who was close to the murder (or manslaughter) scene, his son was rescued from the sinking car.

A quick Google search will, however, lead us to countless other stories of a drunkards killing strangers, killing family and friends, or even himself. Why then do we choose to surrender our sanity — and even our humanity — to this liquefied femme fatale called alcohol?

Statistics, according to the Drug-Free World Foundation, establish that alcohol kills more teenagers than all other drugs combined, and is a factor in the three leading causes of death among young persons: accidents, homicides and suicides. Not only that; youth who drink are 7.5 times more likely to use other illegal drugs and are fifty times more likely to use cocaine.

It has also been shown that at least 40% of violent crimes occur under the influence of alcohol. What is more, alcoholic drinks are getting cheaper by the decade. They are becoming more and more affordable, so no one is left out from this global entrapment.

It is therefore not doubtful that alcohol has wrought great havoc not only on our quality of life, but the quantity of the living. Though thinking right — in other words, sanity — can have its downsides, and though not easily forgetting or repressing sour memories can draw us into melancholy, alcohol is no true escape route. It does not offer an exit from the premises of our problems. It only switches off the light for a moment.

The problems — though invincible — remain. It gives us temporary breaks from challenges such as poverty, unemployment, strained relationships and so on; and many a time, it leads to permanent damages.

Away from the figures, the writer has personally experienced how alcohol can often embitter an otherwise great marriage and relationship. (Usually) the father spends a great deal of his income buying it for himself and friends, and he spends most of what remains trying to clean up at the hospital: liver disease cancer, malnourishment, gastrointestinal problems, osteoporosis and so on. He also spends a great deal of his time arguing with his wife and beating his kids — all for silly or no reasons at all. He even borrows or steals from his wife to fuel this indulgence of his. And so, there is nothing left in his pocket for the upkeep of his family, nothing left in his time for keeping up with his family and nothing left in his head to realize this tragedy.

For the youth, though the character and plotline may differ, the story often heads for the same ending: misery. It is a vicious, almost never-ending, cycle wrapped in shame and anguish. If we shut our eyes to the place of peer pressure, then it is either pain leads you to the consumption of alcohol or the consumption of alcohol leads you to pain — or both.

You are facing problems with your studies, your secondary school mates have all graduated and are probably married, and your project supervisor is there making life hell for you. Or your girlfriend whom you love dearly just left you bitter for leaving for sweeter pastures. Or you flunked your final-year examinations, have to sit in classes with your juniors for a year. So you decide to seek solace in the flames of alcohol. Well, stop! Don’t.

Don’t submit your sanity to a bottle of fizzles or wood soaked liquid before it makes you a fizzle yourself. Don’t hand over the baton of your senses, even for a night, for that is your greatest weapon against life’s challenges. You do not win by running. You win through strategy and hard work — and a drunken man is not capable of both. Alcohol is a drug like all others. It has got a glittering package. It has got a sweet voice. It even looks great from the top.

But underneath all these is a quicksand of unending, yet limitless, misery. Trust me, it is not worth it. But don’t take my word for it; check the statistics. Look around you. See what you do not want to see and see the reality for yourself.

Center for Healing, Growth, & Recovery Ministries

Reverend Marc Baisden, MACP, CMHC, Min. (C) 2019

https://www.alignable.com/anchorage-ak/recovery-intervention-services

SELF-AWARENESS — BRAVERY — CONNECTION

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Most of my life I've been a conflict-avoider, sweeping potential disagreements under the proverbial rug. But these days I seem to face contentions head-on, boxing gloves poised and ready. This is good, for the most part--running from conflict rarely solves anything. However, now that I'm not afraid to take on the hard conversations and can bring up the minors before they become majors,  I realize I could use some fighting skills. It seems I'm doing it all wrong -- taking things personally, bringing up past issues that have nothing to do with the present, throwing in hurtful digs, albeit slight and 'hidden' (but not really). I shut down after I speak my peace and am closed-minded and judgmental when the other person expresses their side of things, wounding my dissentient and getting my own feelings hurt in the process.

So I write this article for me. And for any of you who struggle when it comes to conflict resolve.

We've developed bad habits

Of course, we don't make fighting a goal. In a perfect world, we'd tune into our emotions well before conflict arises and use these wise old friends to guide us as we manage our behavior, thwarting tensions before they erupt into battles. But then again, we're human, imperfect and immature and insensitive at times, so it's highly likely disagreements will evolve into fights. Most of us have picked up some poor habits, as early as childhood, and haven't learned there is a better way.

But before we look into acquiring some new fighting skills, let's determine first if your conflict management needs some work. Here are some things you don't want to choose to do when troubles arise:

  • Fail to listen to the other person's point of view with an open mind

  • Instead of seeking to find common ground, fight for your own way or ideas

  • Do most of the talking in disagreements

  • Feel extremely uncomfortable when conflict arises

  • Don't use tact when voicing your concerns, rather, you demean the other person and/or their ideas and/or use crass language to prove your point

  • Say things like "always", "never", and "everyone thinks this way..." (as if you know how everyone else in the world thinks or does things)

  • Bring up the past to prove your point of "Here we go again..."

  • Use put downs and demeaning words, saying things you know you'll regret later

  • View the other person as an adversary or foe because they don't agree with you

  • Think things like, "If only they would change, this could be resolved."

  • Quit and run away before the conflict is resolved

  • Use dishonesty to put an end to the conflict rather than being authentic with your feelings

  • View yourself as more superior, smarter, or 'a better person' because of how the other person is feeling/acting

Which of these best describes your boxing tactics?

It starts with Self-Awareness

Whether you choose one or all of the above when conflict hits, learning a new way of fighting can take some work. As with any behavior, we can make shifts in a new direction, but it's not always easy. But devoting effort to the development of conflict resolve skills will serve us well when the next battle comes along.

“Bravery is the choice to show up and listen to another person, be it a loved one or perceived foe, even when it is uncomfortable, painful, or the last thing you want to do.” ― Alaric Hutchinson

So where do we bad fighters start?

First of all, as with most things -- becoming self-aware is a good initial step. Take note of the poor habits you use when fighting, write them down, and take a hard look at them. Do they serve you well or do they usually escalate the conflict, or cause further avoidance? How do you feel when you act that way? How does it make the other person feel when you act that way? Most likely the things you're writing are not the most positive. It's OK.  Recognizing the need to change often comes from acknowledging the hurt we are causing ourselves and others.

Managing our behavior

Now that you're ready to make some shifts, simply acknowledging bad behaviors is not enough. And just erasing them won't help either.  As with the breaking of any old habit, it's beneficial to have a new toolkit at your disposal full of actions to replace ineffective behaviors.  Here are a few to try:

  • Separate the person from the problem.  Don't let yourself go down the path of "this person is bad, wrong, selfish, etc." because they have a differing opinion.  Fight the desire to label them and instead, focus on the disagreement at hand.

  • Lay down preconceived ideas. It's easy to think you already have everything figured out before the conflict even begins. Be present and ask clarifying questions where needed so you're sure you understand their viewpoint, not your interpretation of their viewpoint.

  • Take a deep breath and slow down.  An overload of feelings can cause an amygdala hijack.  The amygdala is the part of the brain that processes our emotions. Because the emotional processing in our brain happens much more quickly than the rational side, if the amygdala perceives the situation is at a "fight or flight" level of danger, it will trigger a response that shuts down the rational side of our brains, causing us to say and do things we'll regret later. Trust me, this is something to avoid.

  • Listen to understand. Stop thinking about what you're going to say next and tune in to what they're saying, and not saying.  Watch for body language (are they agitated, are they scared, etc.) and attempt to hear what they need/want in this situation, not just what is coming out of their mouth.

  • Before speaking, ask yourself, "Will this help or hurt the situation?"  Sounds simple, but it's very effective! Choose your words carefully and be sure not to throw out insults or put-downs in the heat of the moment.

  • Remind yourself that their way may be a better way. Be curious. Have an open mind and think of the conversation as a way to brainstorm creative new ideas rather than taking offense because they don't agree with you.

“When we aren't curious in conversations we judge, tell, blame and even shame, often without even knowing it, which leads to conflict." -- Kristen Siggins

  • Don't attach judgments about their character because of their opinions. Again, separate out the issue from the person and fight the urge to jump to conclusions about their moral integrity just because you don't like what they're saying.

  • Be aware that the other person is experiencing his/her own set of emotions.  There may be drivers going on that you're not aware of -- past hurts, disappointments, or struggles that the other person is dealing with.  Offer some grace, in the moment, as you seek to understand the why behindhumi their actions or words.

  • Find a way to say something valuing about the other person. Even if you don't agree with them, making the other person feel valued for who they are, in the heat of an argument, can do wonders to diffusing anger and frustration levels. A great sentence starter is, "You know what I like about you?" then fill in the rest with a sincere, kind word.

"A soft answer turns away wrath." -- ancient proverb

  • Remember that the goal here is coming to a solution that works for both parties, not getting your own way. This may mean you have to reach a compromise where both of you give up a little to arrive at a peaceful outcome.

I know, easier said than done. If this list seems daunting, pick just one goal and focus on it for the next few weeks. Talk to a coach or counselor about the areas you struggle most with and seek an outside opinion on how you could begin to make some shifts. Then get out there and practice.

For those of you (us) who have done it all wrong, going back to that person and offering a sincere, "I'm sorry" can do wonders to soften pain of the blows you delivered. It takes humility and courage to admit our errors and ask forgiveness of the other person. They may reject you, scoff at you, or even attempt to continue the fight -- but these three magical words can do as much for your own angry heart as it can the other person.

Unless you live on an uninhabited, deserted island, where you have no contact with others, there will be conflicts on the road ahead. Coming prepared with healthy, helpful tactics will enable both of you to stay standing at the end of each round. Even better, as you work on your own conflict management skills, you may come to realize that it was never a fight at all, but a passionate interaction between two unique and worthy individuals, on the same team, working toward the same goal, each offering the gift of learning something new.

"We meet aliens every day who have something to give us. They come in the form of people with different opinions." -- William Shatner

This article was written by Amy Sargent.

Click HERE to Learn more about her work.

http://the-isei.com/home.aspx

THE KEYS TO BUILD TRUE PHYSICAL POWER – PART TWO

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We don’t have to hike for hours every day. But even going a few miles at a sturdy pace two or three days per week can have a tremendous impact on your health.

You’re getting your heart rate up and lifting your body weight as you trek up and down hills, making hiking the perfect cardio and load-bearing activity, all in one. Plus, you’re exercising the largest muscles in your body— namely your gluteus muscles and quads in your legs—which therefore has the most effect on your metabolism. And you’re strengthening your core, too. When you’re hiking over uneven terrain, you’re also exercising your smaller, stabilizer muscles—lots of little muscles that all add up. There’s a lot you can cover by just walking up and down hills.

 

Popular ways that people try to replicate this kind of physical activity are in the gym via stationary bikes or treadmills. These are obviously much better alternatives than not exercising at all. But when doing only the same repetitive motion that’s offered by stationary bikes or treadmills, you can’t really get the same kind of workout provided by hiking and navigating hills. Essentially, all of those stabilizer muscles aren’t working so hard. And, you’re not getting outside which is always the place I prefer to do at least a portion of my exercise. Do you live somewhere flat? No worries.

A brisk walk, followed by doing a few sets of squats while holding a dumbbell to your chest, qualifies as an awesome workout.

 

As for load-bearing exercise, remember that the gluteus muscles and quads should be your highest priority for enhancing your metabolism and building your overall strength. The seldom-done squats and deadlifts are hands down the best gym exercises you can do because of the emphasis on these bigger muscles as well as your core strength. Deadlifts have an undeserved negative reputation (the name doesn’t help—better would be “life-force lifts” or “anti-death lifts”!) that comes from too many people doing them inappropriately, with too much weight and with the wrong form. Just like hiking, bending over or squatting to pick up heavy objects is an ancient exercise; thus our bodies are well adapted to do them. But don’t risk an injury. Do them right. Your best bet?

Work with the theme “less weight, more reps.” Also these lifting exercises don’t necessarily need to be committed to with a bar. Using dumbbells or kettle-bells is a great, low-risk way to get started. And why not work with a trainer? I do, and I can’t recommend it highly enough!

 

Remember to maintain stretching as a part of your physical activity. Maintaining elasticity of muscles is vital for a whole host of reasons, the most important of which is prevention of injury, inflammation, and those everyday aches and pains. It’s important for maintaining good posture, too. A full body stretch doesn’t need to take more than a few minutes. Actually, a common mistake can be over-stretching, which can make muscles weaker. Of course muscles can be re-strengthened, but why put your body through unnecessary stress? If you choose a yoga practice, the idea is to hold the stretching poses for only seconds. It’s the strengthening poses that can be held for longer. There is some reasoning however for holding the stretching poses longer, and it’s for the releasing of deeper tension. So in a sense there can be a benefit to this.

My suggestion if you do the longer stretching poses is to do them only on an occasional basis, especially if building strength is what you’re going for.

 

As mentioned, I highly recommend working with a fitness trainer. What you learned in PE class just isn’t going to cut it if a deeper power for the sake of your longevity and life-force is what you’re going for. And going to the gym on your own and doing the same routine day in and day out only does so much. It’s much more effective and time better spent to shake things up. The variety of fitness activities is endless, and changing up the exercises you’re doing on a regular basis will make you stronger faster. A trainer knows best how to do this, and it needn’t be time-consuming. With the right kind of intensive exercise, you can get a lot out of a single hour, or even less.

Believe me, I’ve seen the results firsthand through trainers I have worked with, and by my own experience as a trainer at the Ashram. I’ve witnessed incredible transformations in people of all body types and starting out at all different levels of fitness.

 

Find the trainer who believes in sticking with the free weights. Free weights have exponentially more impact than machines. Remember that core and lower-body exercises are the most important since, as we discussed above, they’re the biggest muscles. Men especially tend to get preoccupied with upper body workouts, partly because they’re easier overall since the upper body muscles are smaller relative to the muscles in the legs. It’s a matter of balance between lower and upper-body exercises, but placing more of an emphasis on lower-body is the way to go. And of course we’re not talking body-building here. Again, we’re talking about ‘power-building’.

 

Keep in mind you don’t have to work with a trainer every day. Why not start with just two days a week? Of course a good trainer will teach you how to work out on your own, too. I’m confident you’ll be very impressed with what you get out of it.

 

The other days of the week? Hike or go for power walks! I am very much a believer in fast-paced walking. Too easy for you? Try carrying three to ten pound dumbbells (or water bottles) and pump your arms like you mean it. Now we’re talking. Or maybe you’ve got other athletic pursuits—sports that you like to play. Being physically active should be enjoyable, something you look forward to. Yoga, soccer, pottery (well maybe something a little more strenuous), swimming, and biking—they’re all good. Need I share my opinion of the contact sports like football that invite injury and wear and tear on the body?

Get creative. Join a softball team. Take up tennis. Play ultimate frisbee. Dance! (This one is among my favorites.)

 

Exercise is certainly neck and neck with diet, in terms of importance for overall health. They’re both critical links in the chain of well-being. On the note of diet, I recommend a sturdy dose of easy-to-digest protein following your workout. Naturally, and for the sake of purity and potency, I’m a fan of my post-workout smoothie with Infinity Protein, which is a blend of organic hemp and brown rice protein infused with muscle-enhancing herbs. And of course the Infinity Protein Bars too, which are hands down, the best bars in terms of both pure ingredients and flavor. Remember that when we neglect our diets, we lose the energy and enthusiasm we need to be physically active. It becomes hard to exercise even if we want to. So create the right chemistry with your diet and then pump the handle with exercise, with the restorative nutrition to follow.

 

As a motivating factor, it’s always helpful to remember your physiological health is intimately connected with your mental health – that’s your peace and happiness. No question a strong body is one of the foundational elements for a strong mind, only to make us more fit to better navigate through the world of modern-day stressors and still maintain a general sense of wellbeing.

It’s the strong mind and body together that build true power, and there’s no moment like the precious present to jump onboard. I say we go for it.

 

Over the last seventeen years the Infinity Superfoods have become a powerful force, enhancing the lives of many thousands of people, and it is an honor to have you as part of the team.

This article was written by Billy Merritt.

Click HERE to Learn more about his work.
https://www.infinitygreens.com/

THE SEVEN PRINCIPLES OF SOLUTION FOCUSED CONVERSATIONS

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Principle 1: Master the courage to question reality.

No plan survives its collision with reality, and reality has a habit of shifting, at work and at home. Markets and economies change, requiring shifts in strategy. People change and forget to tell each other – colleagues, customers, spouses, friends. We are all changing all the time.

Not only do we neglect to share this with others, we are skilled at masking it even to ourselves.

 

Principle 2: Come out from behind yourself into the conversation and make it real.

While many fear “real”, it is the unreal conversations that should scare us to death. Unreal conversations are expensive, for the individual and the organization. No one has to change, but everyone has to have the conversation. When the conversation is real, the change occurs before the conversation is over. You will accomplish your goals in large part by making every conversation you have as real as possible.

 

Principle 3: Be here, prepared to be nowhere else.

Our work, our relationships, and our lives succeed or fail one conversation at a time. While no single conversation is guaranteed to transform a company, a relationship, or a life, any single conversation can. Speak and listen as if this is the most important conversation you will ever have with this person. It could be. Participate as if it matters. It does.

 

Principle 4: Tackle your toughest challenge today.

Burnout doesn’t occur because we’re solving problems, it occurs because we’ve been trying to solve the same problem over and over. The problem named is the problem solved. Identify and then confront the real obstacles in your path. Stay current with the people important to your success and happiness. Travel light, agenda-free.

 

Principle 5: Obey your instincts.

Don’t just trust your instincts – obey them. Your radar screen works perfectly. It’s the operator who is in question. An intelligence agent is sending you messages every day, all day.

Tune in. Pay attention. Share these thoughts with others. What we label as illusion is the scent of something real coming close.

 

Principle 6: Take responsibility for your emotional wake.

For a leader, there is no trivial comment. Something you don’t remember saying may have had a devastating impact on someone who looked to you for guidance and approval. The conversation is not about the relationship; the conversation is the relationship. Learning to deliver the message without the load allows you to speak with clarity, conviction, and compassion.

 

Principle 7:  Let silence do the heavy lifting.

When there is simply a whole lot of talking going on, conversations can be so empty of meaning they crackle. Memorable conversations include breathing space. Slow down the conversation, so that insight can occur in the space between words and you can discover what the conversation really wants and needs to be about.

 

This article was written by Rev. Marc Baisden, MACP, MIN

Click HERE to Learn more about Marc Baisden. 

https://www.alignable.com/anchorage-ak/recovery-intervention-services

THE ART OF SURRENDER

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Surrender to the evolutionary process running through you .

Walking the spiritual path is to continuously surrender to the next stage of our growth and unfolding. It is about allowing for older and smaller versions of ourselves to die and new grander and greater versions to emerge.

This means that we need to surrender to the will of God. For many individuals, the word surrender has a negative charge to it. For them, it means acquiescing or submitting to a God outside of themselves. A deity with human traits and characteristics.

This, of course, is not what God is. God, is not “out there,“ nor is God “in here.“ The Spirit of God is infinite.

God is all there is, no beginning nor end. There truly is no spot where God is not.

As Eckhart Tolle puts it, “God is the Alfa and the Omega.“ God is the beginning and the end, God is in everything. Everything is in God.

The will of God

A common question is what God’s will is. God’s will is for greater expression of all of Life - that all of life come into forever greater and grander expression of itself. In other words, that all of life continuously grow and unfold and expand.

God is in all of Life, in all of creation, is forever seeking to become more conscious of itself in and through all of Life. God is the evolutionary process that runs through the cosmos, always for greater life and expression.

This is what the will of the Spirit God is.

God is forever for us, never against us

And so, God is always for us, never ever against us. God cannot not be for us as being against us would go against the purpose of all existence. Against the will of God. And God cannot contradict itself.

As God is in all things, places, and beings – it means that everything is working for our good. Every single challenge, every single encounter, every single experience is Divinely designed to move us along our unique and perfect path of growth and unfolding.

God truly seeks to always guide and lead us, that we may become forever more yet never less than our true selves. This process of growth and unfolding is what are to surrender to.

Surrender is not the same as acquiescing

Surrendering means letting go and releasing resistance to growth and unfolding. It means releasing our need to control and manipulate, in order to have things the way we want them to be. Even though us humans are an intelligent species, our perspective is strictly limited.

Limited to that which we can perceive with our senses. Which means that whatever it is we may see, hear, feel, taste and smell, is infinitesimal in relation to that which we cannot perceive.

There is only Divine order in the cosmos. No chance, no luck, no coincidence, no happenstance. We may perceive things to happen out of chance and luck, but we always need to remind ourselves that nothing just happens to us, but everything happens just. 


Nothing ever comes into our experience uninvited. It either comes because we want it or because we don’t want it.

Surrendering is about getting out of the way

And so surrendering is making a conscious choice to grow and unfold. It is about making the choice to get our little selves out of the way and let God have its sway with us.

It is about becoming willing to say Let Thy Will Be Done - come what may. And then do the inner work necessary to become open, available for that which is seeking to emerge in and through us, to emerge.

It is giving that greater and grander expression permission to come forth, with ease, grace, and dignity.

Surrendering may be asking for help

A practical way to surrender is to ask for help. In times or in circumstances where we feel we lack the strength or ability to do something that we know in our heart is the right thing to do. We may then surrender to that and ask God for help to do it through us.

As we ask for help, we get out of the way. We let go of control and give it over to the presence of God. As we do this, we access the infinite. We go beyond our limited human perception and perspective. Rather we rely on the loving mind of God to lead us to where we need to go.

Surrendering like this is entering into Heaven. Heaven may be described as ever-expanding good. It is a magical journey and a beautiful way to live. Let go and let God – it will bring you the very best of life.

Daniel Roquéo is a freelance writer and founder of The Love & Light Store. He helps individuals, entrepreneurs and businesses do what they may not have the time, inspiration or the skills to do for themselves. Bringing their passions to life through the written word.

https://www.theloveandlightstore.com/

CONFIDENCE — GROWTH — DREAMS

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"Knowing who you are is confidence. Confidence, not cockiness. Cockiness is knowing who you are and pushing it down everyone's throat." -- Mila Kunis

Do you know anyone who constantly tells you how great they are? Whether it's a blatant statement of bragging or a masked self-compliment, it's easy to recognize those who swagger. They are the ones who like to 'up' your story, who always have a better, bigger, or bolder experience than the one you shared. 

They often are the loudest one in the room (though not all loud people are cocky--don't confuse that!), are able to speak over others, and are inclined to tell long, detailed stories, rarely pausing to read the expressions of those around them, assuming everyone is deeply fascinated with their tale. They interrupt. They have this uncanny way of steering every conversation back to them. When you speak, if you get the chance, you wonder if they are hearing anything you say.

There's something in them, some sort of inner need, that has to let you know that they are smart, successful, and superior. It's the kind of person we try to avoid at the office, at a party, or when we're out and about. And though they can appear to be quite confident, I think, deep down, their need to boast comes from a place of inferiority.

"Let another man praise you and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips." -- ancient proverb

And then there are those who struggle with having any confidence at all. These people live a cowardly life, tending to avoid confrontations and have difficulty speaking their truth. They sometimes stumble over their words and/or don't speak loud enough for you to hear clearly. They lack confidence in their own judgment, hesitate to try new things, and avoid challenges like the plague. Because of this lack of trust in self, they question their own abilities and often feel powerless. Those who struggle with personal power tend to have difficulty setting appropriate boundaries and can be "yes" men/women.

Somewhere in between the two extremes lies the emotionally intelligent competency of personal power.

"Confidence, like art, never comes from having all the answers; it comes from being open to all the questions."  -- Marianne Williamson

Personal power, that sense of self-confidence and an inner knowing that you can thrive through life's challenges, can sometimes be confused with cockiness, but it's not that at all.

Those who have personal power -- who are strong in this understanding of their strengths (and areas of growth) believe they can set the direction of their lives. They are not victims to the winds of change but sense when things need to shift and take action to make that happen. They have a calm inner conviction about who they are and their abilities.  Those rich with this competency tend to know what they want and go after it, and can speak their truth and give voice to their values and convictions.

Though they are the ones that make things happen, those with strong personal power don't always have to do it brashly and loudly. One important aspect is that they can distinguish between the things they can control and the things that are out of their control, and can let go of the latter when needed. They are always learning and never propose to have it all figured out.

Listen for how they define self. You'll hear them speaking about qualities of the heart, not about what they do. Try asking at your next social gathering, "Tell me about yourself?" and listen for whether or not they tell you what they do or who they are.

Think of those you lead -- or those who lead you -- your colleagues, your teammates, your manager, the boss, your pastor, your significant other, or someone you just admire. Which of these three C's does he/she lean toward: cockiness, cowardice, or confidence? Which type of leader would you rather follow? Which would you rather work alongside? I daresay we all are most drawn to those with true confidence.

Even more importantly, can you discern when you are being cocky, cowardly, or confident? It's an awareness worth developing.

"There is a fine line between confidence and cocky. Confidence can bring you many things, but cockiness can make you lose many things." -- Azgraybebly Josland

Those who take the time to develop this competency of personal power unleash their ability to convey their ideas and solutions in an assured manner which gives others confidence in their ability to solve problems and achieve results. In other words, those that have personal power can lead, and lead well.

Most of us dance between the three, cockiness, cowardice, and confidence, depending on the day, our mood, and our behavioral self-control. In other words, we all have room to grow. Here are nine practical steps to begin moving toward true confidence/personal power:

  • Remember the glory days. Success breeds confidence, so take a moment to remember the things you've achieved in life so far. What are your success stories? Where have you excelled?  When did you accomplish a goal you set out to reach and how did you go about accomplishing it?  Remembering past successes -- even those you achieved as far back as childhood -- can help boost your levels of personal power when you begin to doubt your abilities.

  • It takes a village. Now think about who helped you accomplish those goals? Who believed in you or gave you the inspiration to keep going even when things got rough? Did anyone provide financial means which enabled you to succeed, or come alongside you as a friend or mentor to be there when you needed them? Reminding ourselves that our successes most always are a team effort can help us avoid the full-of-self syndrome. And leaning into friends as you accomplish goals can be a source of encouragement and help ensure success.

  • Identify the voices. I led a women's group once and we attempted to get to the root of our insecurities. In almost every case, as children, we had been told by someone that we couldn't -- or shouldn't -- and now, as adults, we still believed that lie. Think on the areas where you lack confidence and see if you can remember where you first heard that maybe you were no good at it.  Identify who said it and when. Recognizing the source of negative thoughts can help put them in their place as you move toward a more positive outlook.

  • Stop the hurtful self-talk. Even if someone was hurtful with their words, it's most likely you who continues the negative self-talk. Notice when you say, "I can't" or start a sentence with "I'm only...", diminishing yourself. Try not to begin with "I'm sorry, but...".  Learn to state your truth without apologies.  Also listen if you tend to tag "isn't it?" at the end of a suggestion, or "right?" Those words are a way of seeking approval of others and teaches them to treat us as lacking power.

  • Build some fences. Setting boundaries and learning to say "no" can free us up to accomplish the things that are important to us. Being a yes man/woman actually limits us to doing only what others ask of us vs. moving in the direction that we want. You may need to spend some time reviewing your value and clarifying your goals to begin setting appropriate boundaries.

  • Lay down the remote. Determine which things in your life you have control over, and which areas you don't. Hint: you can never control others’ thoughts, behaviors, or actions. Trying to control what you can't will only lead to frustration. What you do have control over are your own thoughts, behaviors, and actions.

  • Dream a little dream. When we create something new, it appears first as a thought. Envision yourself as smart, competent, articulate, poised, admired...and humble.  Use the prompt, "In a perfect world, I would ___" and fill in how it would look if you were teeming with personal power.

  • Shhh. In your next conversation, and those that follow, determine to listen more than you speak. Ask open-ended questions with the goal of learning more about the other person and the whys behind their thoughts and actions. If you tend to tell long-winded tales, shorten your stories and pause often to ask the other person to share as well.

  • Follow the leader. Find those in your life that exhibit true confidence and strive to emulate them. Watch how they interact with others -- in meetings and in one-on-one conversations. If possible, ask to meet with them for lunch and learn from them.

As with all change for the positive, it's easier if you work with a coach to help you stay on track. Consider engaging a social + emotional intelligence coach to walk alongside you. Shifting behaviors, especially habits we've been practicing for a long time, can take time and effort, but the benefits of moving away from cockiness and cowardice toward confidence will be rewarding.

"As is our confidence, so is our capacity." -- William Hazlitt

This article was written by Amy Sargent.

Click HERE to Learn more about her work.

http://the-isei.com/home.aspx

HEALING, GROWTH AND RECOVERY

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HGR emerges from hope:  The belief that recovery and joy is real provides the essential and motivating message of a better future - that people can and do overcome the internal and external challenges, barriers, and obstacles that confront them.

HGR is person- centered/driven:  Self-determination and self-concepts are the foundations for HGR individuals as they define their own life goals and design their unique path(s). 

HGR occurs via many pathways:  Individuals are unique with distinct needs, strengths, preferences, goals, culture, and backgrounds - including trauma experiences - that affects and can determine the pathway(s) to/in the Process of HGR.

HGR is holistic: HGR encompasses an individual's whole life, including mind, body, spirit, and community. The array of services and supports available should be integrated and coordinated.

HGR is supported by peers and allies: Mutual support and mutual aid from people, small groups that the person builds. Including the sharing of experiential knowledge and skills, as well as social learning, play an invaluable role in HGR and in the outcomes.

HGR is supported through relationship and social networks:  An important factor in the recovery process is the presence and involvement of people who believe in the person's ability to recover; who offer hope, support, and encouragement; and who also suggest strategies and resources for change.  

HGR is culturally-based and influenced: Culture and cultural background in all diverse representations - including values, traditions, faith and beliefs. These are keys in determining a person's journey and unique pathway in HGR.  

HGR is supported by addressing traumas: Services and supports should be trauma-informed to foster safety (physical, emotional, mental and spiritually) and trust in the self and others. This helpful to promote choice, empowerment, and collaboration to heal, grow and Recover.   '

HGR involves individual, family, and community strengths and responsibility:  Individuals, families, and communities have strengths and resources that serve as a foundation for recovery.  

HGR is based on respect: Community, systems, societal acceptance and appreciation for people are crucial in achieving in the process and living a life with Joy.

This article was written by Rev. Marc Baisden, MACP, MIN

Click HERE to Learn more about Marc Baisden

https://www.alignable.com/anchorage-ak/recovery-intervention-services

PASSION — COURAGE — FREEDOM

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Passion frightens people. We are told to find our passion and pursue it, and simultaneously censured for being too passionate. The world sets out to tame and calm us while telling us to live our passion fully. I unfortunately learned over the years to hide my passion in most situations. Full out laughter might result in someone telling me I was being too loud or that people were looking at me. Crying meant I was just an over-emotional female.  Spreading my arms in the night wind inevitably resulted in someone asking me what I was “on” since clearly that kind of passion requires drugs.  A lover once told me while I was wrapped in his arms that I was getting carried away, which of course I thought was the point. 

And then there is work, where I was told over and over “we can tell you are passionate” in a disapproving tone. This happened everywhere from fund-raising meetings, where one needs a bit of passion, to academic councils where I was bringing new innovative programs for approval. Of course this took place in an academic setting where we ask faculty to share their passion with students, and to fill students with passion for a discipline and lifelong learning.

Over and over again we are instructed to live our passion and then told to tone it down. What if we live our passion and fall completely in love, only to have our hearts broken?  What if we find a career we are passionate about and then find after a few years that we have fallen out of love and need a new direction? What if we are passionate about our family and fight to protect them? Or what if we are passionate about an issue, form a non-profit and change the world? A life of passion is dangerous.

This mixed message has hounded and haunted me. Am I having too much fun, too much in love with being alive, or perhaps just too much in love? Why should I dispassionately discuss my passion? Who is allowed to be passionate? Or maybe the question is who is courageous enough to be passionate.

Clearly people on the TED stage are passionate, as are commencement speakers, singers, performers and some fund-raisers. I have loved my passionate teachers and students, as well as the one time I had a fearlessly passionate lover. When I feel truly alive passion fills me, overflowing and dripping from my heart like thick sweet honey. Finding and feeling passion is not the issue, the challenge is having the courage to live it, sharing my honey like wine with a parched world.

I have spent years learning to moderate my voice in meetings, to sound dispassionate about topics that actually demand passion. I have learned to walk calmly and with strength, never displaying joy in my step.  It is only when I am alone or with close friends that I let my love of life show on my face and in my demeanor. Until recently.

Something cut through the boundaries and borders of control that I have built over the years, and much like candy dancing free from the restraints of a piñata, my passion has broken free. I do not know where the courage came from to truly show up.  Perhaps Kris Kristofferson was right when he wrote “freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.” And perhaps finding freedom has made show off my passion. Perhaps it was the tango lessons that helped me shift my calm walk to a tango strut. Maybe I finally realized that my ability to laugh is a gift that positively changes the energy in a room. Or perhaps I just know that my meaning and purpose in life comes from being courageous enough to let my passion flow.

This article was written by Elisa Robyn

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