Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Is Being Nice Really Nice?

As always I either write from personal experience, from the experiences of people I know or about a challenge I am facing that I want to shift.

I feel that I am in a reinvention process of becoming who I truly am as opposed to being who I think I am suppose to be to be liked, successful and happy. Not surprisingly my persistent unhappiness was a result of getting it all wrong. I lived from a preconceived notion of how to act in different situations as opposed to being open and flowing with the needs of that particular situation and in relation to the person(s) I was engaging with.

Right now, I am working on the difference between “being nice” and “being kind.” The word “nice” may be an innocuous word for some yet for me it comes with a lot of baggage. If this is not a buzzword for you then you probably don't hypervigilantly scan your environment and look for ways to control circumstances and people in your path.

I have always wanted to “be  nice.” Mother Theresa was my ideal because if I was always nice then people would love me and met my needs. And being unlovable was my deepest fear (as it is for so many of us if we are rigorously honest with ourselves). I also feared conflict and my thought was that if I was always nice and in essence did whatever anyone wanted me to do then there would be no dissension. Then I would feel comfortable. Oh the desire to be comfortable ruled my life. And kept me in a very small and painful comfort zone.

What my blinding rage has finally led me to is that I appeared to be nice by saying yes or went out of my way to accommodate others (when my insides were screaming NO WAY!) yet I was not being nice to anyone. I could not hide my true feelings and the other person either did not appreciate the gesture or felt like they were indebted to me. Like there was a silent and unwelcome contract between us. No matter what you say or do, people will feel your inner discord and it will make them very uncomfortable and you will suffer the consequences of your inner split in one way or another. Either the other person will distance themselves from you or you will feel less connected to yourself and experience that pain. Anytime we reject our needs or abandon ourselves to meet the needs of another that sets off a disastrous reaction that has farther reaching consequences than we can imagine.

I would like to clarify the big difference between compromising and being overly accommodating. It is ok to compromise on something like going to a certain restaurant for dinner that would make someone else happy when you don’t really care about what you eat that evening. It is very different if you dislike or are allergic to the food there, you think that the staff is rude and it is so loud that you left with a headache the last time you dined there. Clearly you saying yes I’d be happy to eat there tonight in the second scenario will probably leave you feeling resentful of the other person and angry at yourself for not being strong enough to set a very clear and appropriate boundary.

I believe that the only way to be truly kind to another is to be in touch with your own inner guidance system and approach another in the Spirit of Love. When your inner yes is in alignment with your outer yes. Or your inner no is in alignment with your outer no. This does not mean that we never make compromises or sacrifices for the people that we love. It simply means that we are at peace with whatever choice we make before we share it with another.

A healthy relationship can only be sustained when each person is in a loving relationship with themselves first and foremost. When one knows that they are worthy of love no matter what they do for another. Where one can weather the storms that may come from saying no to another. When one can hold their own feelings ranging from rage to sadness to abandonment when another says no to them as an honoring of themselves.

Saying no can not only be nice yet an act of tremendous courage and self-love. May you get clear on your yeses and nos and express them unapologetically and with the truth and power of who you are.

With love and light,

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Living Your Intention

Well here I am back again! I wasn't sure when the day would come when I would desire to repost. I am here as I had an experience last night that reminded me of my mission to spread love and kindness and I wanted to put it out in a concrete way. To solidify my commitment and energize its power.

My last post was on February 5, 2011. The fact that I did not want to or was not called to continue my blog is ok. As it is ok if you started something and fell short of your goal. We can all drop the self-criticism and loud cries of failure and recommit to whatever we are intending for our lives in this very moment.

I was walking in NYC with a friend last night and I just happened to mention one of  my past posts called Takin It To the Street. Before I could share with him what it was about, a poor black man came up to us and  asked for money for him and his family as he could not find work. I immediately offered him one of the bushels of bananas I had purchased moments before. Afterwards, I turned to my friend and for a moment I was shocked that he was standing next to me. I thought about it and realized that I had shared an intimate connection with this stranger and I was so present in the moment that it was just me and him. Seeing the Divinity in all  is part of my definition of love and I was so grateful to be able to practice it. I didn't need to check in on my intention for giving away the bananas as my deeply positive feelings let me know the purity of the gesture. (See Takin It To the Street to get clear on your true intention for doing nice things for others.)

When we make a commitment to ourselves or reaffirm who we want to be in the world, the Universe will give us opportunities to own our vision of our best selves. Or give us the free will to reject that vision and allow us to stay stuck in the pain of separation until we are ready to do otherwise. I felt so grateful to have received an immediate opportunity to put my desire to be a force of love and kindness out into the world. Yes, it may have been a very small outward gesture yet was a giant inward leap towards embodying my true nature and purpose. Sometimes I am amazed at how quickly we are given exactly what we ask for or desperately need in any given moment. I vow to expect this Universal support and to be grateful for any form it arrives to me in.

Are you actively living who you truly are or just making plans to be that person someday when the rest of your life is in order or your to do lists are all checked off? It was recently suggested to me that I am carrying extra "weight" because I am always "waiting" to move forward with my life until all of my criteria are met (including losing weight!). Mmmmm... taking action as a weight loss method. Genuis!!! Guess what? It is already working for me:)

Glad to be posting today. I will stay in today and go where I am led. May you allow yourself to be led to a better place than you could design, plan or map out.

With love and gratitude,

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Who Do You Admire? (Part 2)

I hope that you took the opportunity to completed the list of people you admire and what captivating trait attracts you to each of them. In case you missed it, go to last week’s blog post with more detailed information about this exercise.

Here’s a recap of my list: 
1. Mother Theresa (minister to the poor, sick and dying around the world)
TRAIT: Unconditional love

It is so touching for me to see the many pictures of this dear woman treating each person she came into contact with as a precious jewel worthy of exquisite care and attention. (Jesus was a past choice here.)

2. Rosa Parks (called "the first lady of civil rights" and "the mother of the freedom)
TRAIT: Courage 

I am regularly attracted to people who stand up for what they believe in regardless of what others think and the potential consequences. Those who dig in deep and push forward no matter the obstacles to honor and uphold their truth. (Frederick Douglass was a past choice here.)

3. Nelson Mandela (anti-apartheid activist)
TRAIT: Integrity

I could have chosen inner strength or courage here again yet integrity fits too. I believe that integrity is the foundation of all inspired action so it can replace all other characteristics in my book. All parts of our being must be "integrated" or in alignment to hear the guidance and direction from our higher self.

I highly recommend the inspiring movie Invictus which details Mandela’s efforts to reduce the racial tensions that remained from the apartheid era through geniusly unifying the country during the 1995 Rugby World Cup.

You know those amazing traits you so admire in others and wish you could possess? Well you also possess them. Yes you heard me right, you are as special, talented and gifted as the people you emulate. If you didn’t already possess these traits you would not be so strongly attracted to them. You wouldn’t think about and wish you could be so wonderful and/or talented in that specific area.

For example, my friend shared her 3 people with me and all were creative and innovative artists. No surprise as she is a deeply creative person who feels blocked off from her creative expression. Once she allows herself to manifest her buried gifts she may still be inspired by these artists yet not yearn to be like them (as she'll know she already is).

I specifically split this blog post into two parts because I knew that some (maybe most) people would struggle to come up with their 3 people if they already knew the overall meaning of the exercise. Do you feel uncomfortable comparing yourself to those you put on a pedestal or see as larger than life?

If you already knew the point of the exercise before you started your list, did you face resistance to either starting the list or to come up with 3 people once you began? 

You may be denying these traits within yourself and seeking them in others so you can vicariously feel their power. The truth is that you truly long to shine the light on them in you yet are not yet courageous enough so you settle for the rub off effect.

Your denial that you could possess truly inspirational traits may be blocking you from receiving the inner connection, aliveness and peace you seek. If you don’t believe it, you can’t receive (or feel) it. You will only allow into your life (everything from personal expression to people to situations) that which fits into your preconceived concept of reality.

I’d love to hear who you admire because I’m simply interested in who you are and even more so because that is evidence that you are embracing your special gifts. The more you own them the sooner the rest of the world gets to receive and appreciate them. You are not helping anyone by hiding who you are. Yet you are certainly harming yourself and the masses by hiding your genius under a seemingly humble cover of insecurity. You deserve to feel the joy of your brilliance. Shine on!

In admiration for who you are,

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Who Do You Admire? (Part 1)

I am inspired to share with you a simple exercise I have run across a number of times. I am a slow learner so I had to get similar answers each time to get the true power of it. I can now accept and embrace the wisdom I received.

So here’s the exercise: Take some quiet time and think of 3 people you admire the most. There are no limits to who you can choose – dead or alive, family, friend or celebrity. You can even choose a fictional character like Harry Potter or your favorite superhero.

Once you have your list in priority order, think of the trait in each person or character that resonates deeply within you. You have interacted with or heard about thousands of people in your lifetime, what is so special about these people that made them rise to the top of your heap?  

It is perfectly okay if you don’t immediately know the quality that attracted you to them. Step away from the list for an hour, day or week or more and see what comes forth.

When you are ready, delve deeper and think of all the things this person represents to you and what amazing things they have accomplished. What about the way they choose to live their life do you find inspiring? 

I’d like to share my recent list with you. I am not positive yet I think that some of the people I have chosen during each round of this exercise have been different yet the traits I admire have been pretty consistent.

1. Mother Theresa (minister to the poor, sick and dying around the world)
TRAIT: Unconditional love

Check out Mother Theresa’s inspiring poem about inner guidance on my last blog.

2. Rosa Parks (called "the first lady of civil rights" and "the mother of the freedom)
TRAIT: Courage

3. Nelson Mandela (anti-apartheid activist)
TRAIT: Integrity

I finished this blog detailing what each person means to me and the objective of this exercise then decided to end it here. I want to give you some time to seek your own Truth without any unneeded distractions that can lead to pesky procrastination and indecision.

Stay tuned for Part 2 next week. Feel free to share who you admire and why before then. I do enjoy writing yet enjoy connecting with you even more.

In admiration for who you are,

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Don’t Want to Do It? Do It Anyway

In follow up to my last blog about our constant opportunity to express our best selves, I’d like to share my all time favorite poem with you. These beautiful sentiments from Mother Theresa perfectly illustrate the notion that we are never in competition with others or at the mercy of anyone.
People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered; forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some enemies; succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you; be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight; build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous; be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow; do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough; give the world the best you’ve got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and (your Truth) or God; it was never between you and them anyway.

Written by Mother Theresa (engraved on the wall of her home for children in Calcutta)

I strongly suggest that you print out this poem and keep it close by to remind you that you can always be a little nicer and a little kinder. (Please leave your email address on the comments section and I can email you a pretty version of the poem.) In service of your own peace and growth. Remember it’s not about the other character in your momentary drama. It’s about the everlasting you.

KINDNESS KREATION: If someone angers or anyone annoys you today and you feel rage bubbling force or you immediately judge them, use all of your inner strength to pause and not react. Reach deep within your heart and send them love and compassion. Yes it is in there even if you can’t find it in that moment. Or reach in your pocket to take out your copy of dear Mother Theresa’s poem. You will be utterly amazed at how your painful feelings dissipate (maybe quickly, maybe slowly) and you are once again in touch with your own humanity. Certainly feels a whole lot better than getting lost in the animalistic urges within.
Let me know how your anger experiment goes.

Sending you love and light,

Friday, January 14, 2011

Long Live Katharine Hepburn

A dear friend of mine lent me a set of Spencer Tracy & Katharine Hepburn's old movies and one day I was watching Pat & Mike as I did my daily exercise. At one point I was so struck by one of Katharine Hepburn’s insightful lines that I had to pause my workout to write it down. This is what she said to a dim-witted boxer who had become very angry at the manager whose orders he blindly obeyed:

“It’s never you against the whole world, it’s just you against yourself.”

When I heard this quote I imagined two versions of myself at opposite sides of a boxing ring. One was seething mad and beaten bloody while the other was calmly bouncing around her side of the ring open to whatever came her way.

This wise nugget really resonated with me as most of my life I looked outside of myself for direction and comfort and felt angry and blamed those around me for not being able to eliminate my never-ending unhappiness. I was always in a battle with "them."

Gratefully I stopped my stubborn streak and adopted a new way of interacting with the people around me. The principle I now choose to use as the foundation of my life says I always have a choice about how I respond to anything I encounter. 

Am I going to give in to my unexamined emotions or am I going to take a breath and create a monetary pause so that I can choose the highest expression of myself in that moment? Am I going to blame another for my anger or am I going to acknowledge that another touched a sensitive area that already existed within me? Am I going to lie so that I don’t look bad or am I going to be honest about who I am? 

In the long run it comes down to your willingness to do whatever it takes to heal those places within you so that they are not so tender and prone to injury. When you have healed those broken places there is little room for insult and injury to fit in the cracks. You will be whole and complete and disinterested in engaging in high drama.

My deepest wish for you is that you empower yourself to respond to people, places and things in a way that you can be proud of. In such a way that you look at yourself in the mirror and genuinely love the person who is reflected back. A person who has no shame or secrets, one who would never hurry across the street for fear of seeing “that” person. May you find peace in embracing the loving and kind spirit that you are. This Divine spark is within you whether you have never seen, heard or even imagined this beautiful being. It is possible to live from that space most of the time. It’s a conscious choice. Are you willing to make it?

Wishing you loving choices,

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Wonders of Witnessing Acts of Kindness

I always feel a smile come across my lips or a warm feeling that prompts me to touch my heart when I am lucky enough to be in the vicinity of an exchange of heartfelt generosity. What I am thrilled to find out is how exponentially powerful witnessing acts of kindness are.

A study performed at Harvard University and the University of California at San Diego showed that a single act of kindness can extend as far as three degrees of separation and also spreads laterally to affect a greater number of people than were originally present.

The people watching a loving exchange are affected and their positive experience prompts them to pay that kindness and generosity forward and beyond. As the giver you are in essence helping others who were not originally involved and this creates a cascade of kindness.

The commitment to embody the love we truly are has astounding affects on all we touch and all they touch. It takes only a handful of individuals to open their hearts and really make a difference. Ok you have all the scientific evidence you need (from Harvard no less), now go start a cascade of kindness.

I'd love to hear your experience of witnessing an act of kindness and its affect on you right afterwards and throughout your day.

With love and light,