This moment is an opportunity to heal old wounds.
Many are experiencing grief, fear, and feelings of being marginalized. Much old trauma has been awakened in us throughout this election season. Our collective consciousness has spoken, and we don't all appreciate what we think it's saying.
For every one of us who has been grabbed by the pussy one too many times, who has darker than creamy white skin, who is in a same sex relationship, or just wants access to medical treatment- for each one of us, there is someone else who voted another way, and it's breaking our hearts.
BUT THIS IS NOT ABOUT YOU. The way people voted is not about you. It affects you, but it isn't about you.
That's what you need to understand in order to heal. Those wounds (and many others) are up for you to heal. That's what's about you. That's what's yours. That's what's mine.
Our brothers and sisters who voted Mr. Trump in as the president-elect, well they have their own traumas to heal, and this decision is empowering them to do just that. They are not against you, they are for themselves. And that's okay. They are tired of feeling marginalized too, and he made them feel empowered in some way.
I don't believe that hate and racism won last night. In a strange way, hope won again. That's what I believe people were thinking when they voted. The hope that America can become the ideal she's never quite lived up to. Hope that if a "regular" guy like Donald Trump can break in to politics, then maybe something can change, and maybe we, the little guy, will STOP being marginalized and having to live in fear.
You see, we all want basically the same things. We all want to be loved. We all want to belong. We all need to feel hope for the future. And we all voted for who we thought could best help us with those things, at the level of consciousness we are each functioning from, based on our own individual priorities and need to heal.
So let's heal.
Let's use this as an opportunity to come together in love, regardless of who our candidate of choice was. Let's assume the best about one another. This is a time to stand together.
We must rise, and guide this wave of change in the direction of love. There is no other acceptable choice. Division is not a viable option.
Take a deep breath and be the love you are.
Vow to remain vigilant - as love - and not bitter.
Strength of character is not built in easy times. Who you are right now, in this moment of uncertainty and fear, is showing - and building - your character, for better or worse. When we speak of what to tell our children, be mindful of that. Be love. Strengthen your character in love, as love, through love, and with love. Shift your mindset to how you can rise and lift up your brothers and sisters in humanity with you.
Everything is as it should be (because it's a representative of the collective consciousness we are), and when we, as a collective, are done with these lessons, something else will rise from that wisdom. Whether that is based in love or in fear is up to us.
Will you strengthen yourself by standing in love, or barricade yourself in fear and bitterness?
The choice is always yours.
I've devoted my life to personal growth and abuse recovery, first to help myself, then to help others. The story I share in this video is one of the easier stories to tell, but it highlights the ugly lies we are told about love when we are young. EmbraceYourHumanity.com and my book #glowingsoulguide are about remembering the real kind of love, unconditional love, that exists for all of us in every moment, regardless of what we've done, or what's been done to us.
Do you go deep in a world that often seems too shallow? Be a joyful misfit - This video tells you how! :)
I have some exciting news to share...check out the video below to see what it is! :)
Happiness doesn't require a job change, a new home, or a different partner.
I call those kinds of changes "pulling a geographical". You are changing location - but you can't outrun yourself. Wherever you go, whomever you are with, wherever you work, YOU will still be there (with all the same misery).
The reason pulling a geographical feels like it works, and thus, why we keep doing it, is because for a blissful moment we have defined a purpose, something important to do that is Going To Make Things Better...we hope.
But once the outer change is made, and the shiny newness fades, we are right back where we started.
Making a big change feels like jumping off the hamster wheel of suck, but it's more like just painting the wheel a new color, and pointing it at a different view. It's still going nowhere.
Q: So what's the solution, then, Miss Smarty Pants?
A: The key to happiness lies in consistently doing something that feels important to YOU.
Making a difference to yourself or others, using whatever skills and gifts you have at your disposal. Learn something new. Help someone. Make the world a better place.
Don't make it more complicated than it has to be.
Do you love animals, and like to take pictures? Photograph pets who need homes at the local animal shelter, and post them online. Or walk the dog for (or with) your elderly neighbor.
Write an anonymous thank you note to someone whose flower garden makes you smile every time you pass by.
Take a sack lunch -or gourmet meal, if cooking is your thing- to the homeless person you always see around.
Do something that makes you feel like you are contributing to the joy and well-being of others at least once a week, and watch how it changes your life.
Children seek attention. They want to know they are loved. They want to know where the boundaries and borders are. And just like the grown-ups around them, they want to be in control, because being in control feels important.
When discipline is needed, it is often because a power struggle has arisen between you. Ultimately, when your boundaries are clear, communication is open, and needs are being met, there will be no reason for discipline at all. Everything will become a conversation, a seeking to understand, or a course correction.
Begin with these 9 ways to bring joy in where fear used to be, and watch your relationships blossom...
1. Take punishment out of discipline
Don't punish your children. Instead, try to see what need or needs they were trying to meet with their behavior, and respond constructively to that. Did they want your attention? Were they bored? Are they testing boundaries? What, exactly, is going on?
2. Teach them
Most humans, by nature, want to please the other humans around them. Your child is no different. If, instead of punishing, you aim to teach them a better way, you will win over your audience, and give them the tools they need to succeed with you.
For example, a mother of teen daughters recently shared with me that she always taught her girls, when they were ready, to make the decision to have sex consciously and rationally, rather than in the heat of the moment. She instructed them to come to her when they'd made the decision, and she promised to make sure they had proper birth control and protection without judging or punishing them. Both of her daughters have followed this instruction, and mom kept her promise, creating an open, ongoing conversation. And because they felt secure and empowered, both waited longer than their peers, and both were in healthy, serious, long term relationships.
3. Be a role model
Practice what you preach. Your children will absolutely model their behavior after yours, whether it's acting just like you, or rebelling and being your opposite. YOU have the most impact in who your child becomes. The best (and truly only) way to change your child's behavior is to change your own. Be the person you want your child to become, and surround yourself with the kinds of people and relationships you want your child to have.
4. Let them make choices
As soon as your child is old enough to point, give them choices. Many a sobbing, screaming tantrum can be avoided by simply giving your child a choice of appropriate options. For example, "Do you want to wear this dress, or this one?" Notice that YOU have chosen two appropriate dresses, you are simply allowing your child to make the final decision about which one to wear. Allow your children to feel empowered. When they feel like their opinions matter, you get buy-in from them, and when you have buy-in, life is easy.
5. Take the language of war out of your vocabulary
You and your child are on the same team. You shouldn't be choosing battles or trying to win wars: You are family. Ask yourself, "How can we resolve this?" instead of, "How can I force my will here?"
6. Keep your word
Your child needs to be able to trust you, and in order for them to trust you, you must keep your word. This means no empty threats. If you say, "We are going to leave the park if you throw sand again," then you must unceremoniously pick up and leave the park the next time sand is thrown (as consequence for action, not punishment). And if you say, "Give me 5 minutes to finish my work, then I'll read you a story," make sure you are reading that story in 5 minutes, even if your child is happily playing elsewhere. Their willingness to go play is a sign that they trust you, not that they've lost interest.
7. Distract from unwanted behavior
The younger the child, the easier it is to pick them up and re-direct their attention. If they are poking the power outlet, don't scream, hit, or freak out. Pick them up and give them something appropriate to play with instead. If you make a big deal out of the power outlet, they will understand that it's important, and it gets your attention, and it will draw them like a siren song.
8. Love unconditionally
Don't make your children earn your love or acceptance. Give it to them freely, even when (maybe especially when) they are misbehaving. That is the moment when they need your love the absolute most. Whenever a child (or adult, for that matter) is acting out, it is because they have needs that are not being met, be they mental, emotional, or physical. If you can look past the behavior, and discover the need beneath it, it will be much easier to remain in a loving, compassionate space.
9. Catch them being good
At random moments, tell your child, "I know something good about you!" Then smile and walk away. They love to know you think highly of them, and will want to know what you know. They want to see themselves through your eyes. Oh, and when they chase after you in delight, asking what it is, go ahead and tell them something you admire about them.
What are your favorite parenting tips? Share in the comments below!
Relationships are valuable. They are important not only to our satisfaction in life, but to our very health. And yet, many of us take our closest relationships completely for granted. We have forgotten the joy in being together. It often feels like it used to be so easy and effortless to be happy and joyful and playful together, but somehow, now it's just not there.
The usual reason it's 'just not there anymore' is because we've stopped trying. Relationships, in the beginning, are exciting. We put our best face forward as we get to know the other person, and we put an effort into one another that feels like play instead of work. As we get to know one another, and get comfortable, we expect each other to look past our faults, and tolerate our moods understandingly.
In other words, we become takers where we were once givers.
Cultivating joy requires us to become givers once more. It requires consideration of the wants, needs, and desires of your partner, while at the same time not giving up your own. It's about finding the spaces in between where you can meet, and uplifting one another. It's about remembering your own playfulness again, and having the courage to share it, even though you've been hurt.
Ultimately, (re)discovering joy in a relationship is about forgiving your grudges.
Joy is really an inside job, but we can certainly make it easier for the people around us to find a vibe in the right direction. In fact, they want to. We have an innate desire to feel good, and everything we do is, in some way, in an effort to get to there.
These 11 little tips, applied consistently, can transform any relationship, starting with you. If your partner doesn't respond or reciprocate right away, that's okay. Don't give up. They are trying to figure out if they can trust this change in you. But even more than doing this for your partner or your relationship, do it for you, because it feels good, and it's who you want to be. It will change your life.
1. Smile more
Smiling is a great way to use your face, and it lets your partner know that you are friendly and approachable. Our smiles are one of our most under-utilized assets.
2. Acknowledge your partner when they enter the room
Everyone needs to be loved, and one of the basest ways to say 'I love you' is to acknowledge someone's existence. Notice them. It may sound silly, but it's very powerful. And this is the perfect opportunity to use your new smiling skill! A quick glance, combined with a smile or grin can go a long way. If they want to know why you are doing it, tell them you love them, and are happy to see them.
Bring the fun back to your relationship. It was probably fun when it started, so if it's not fun now, it's because you have stopped doing what made it fun. Flirting is one way to communicate to your partner that you still find them attractive, and that just feels good. Don't have any expectations that flirting will lead to sex or romance. Just flirt for the fun of it.
4. Say 'please' and 'thank you'
As a society, we find these sentiments so important that they are one of the first things we teach children, and yet our own manners are often missing, and our partners taken for granted. Saying 'please' and 'thank you' lets your partner know you are grateful, and acknowledges their efforts. Being polite is another way to show you care about your partner and their feelings. It's a recognition that their time (and therefore life) is valuable.
5. Tell your partner what you appreciate about them
Don't be weird about it. Just mention, "Hey, did you know that one of the things I love so much about you is how gentle you are with animals? I really admire how you took care of that injured bird." Or, "I really love that you are such a friendly driver. I feel really safe with you behind the wheel."
6. Make time for each other
There are times when quality time is most important, and times when quantity is most important. Ultimately, there needs to be some sort of balance to meet the needs of all parties in the relationship. Some couples are so busy and motivated in their careers, that it works for them to get together for brief stints of quality time. Others feel loved when someone is sitting next to them through the more mundane aspects of life. Figure out what makes your partner feel like quality time has been spent, and give them your time in that way, with no strings attached.
7. Drop your expectations
Dropping expectations is one of the most freeing things you can do for yourself, your partner, and your relationship. Expectation leads to suffering. Expectation builds walls of imprisonment around our partners (and ourselves). When expectation exists, freedom does not. Remembering that all behavior is an effort to feel good, we can discern that too many expectations may eventually cause rebellion and distancing in the relationship. Most people don't want to be told what to do or how to live, and that's what expectation does.
8. Accept your partner for who they are
Relationship advice columnist Dan Savage talks about the 'price of admission' in relationships. There are going to be things that annoy you, or that you tolerate, in order to have the awesome benefits of your partner's presence in your life. If your partner leaves their socks on the floor all the time, for example, instead of hounding them to pick up the socks that aren't bothering them at all right where they are, just pick them up yourself and be over it. Accept that the price of admission in this relationship is having to pick up socks. Once you accept that, it won't cause so much resentment anymore.
9. Dream together
When a couple stops dreaming of the future together, the relationship begins to wither on the vine. Part of keeping the excitement alive is in having something in common to look forward to and work toward together. Make an ongoing bucket list together, with both simple, local things to do, as well as bigger dreams, and knock stuff off that list together as often as possible. However you dream together, understand that when you are looking at a common destination, you are both going to be heading the same direction. If not, then it's anyone's guess where you will each end up with the dreams you are unwilling to share with one another.
10. Get intimate
Sex can be part of intimacy, but that's not what I'm talking about. Intimacy is something entirely separate from sexual relations. People have sex that lacks emotional intimacy all the time. Rather, what I mean by 'get intimate' is to get connected. Get vulnerable. Let your partner see you. Let them into your emotional heart space. Dream with them. Be spiritual together. Stretch your boundaries together. Get out of your comfort zones together. Try new things together. Succeed together, and even sometimes, fail together. Drop the walls, borders, barriers and boundaries you have guarding your true self from your partner. Be you. Really, truly you. Shine your light. Sing your song.
11. Be your true self
Remember the person your partner fell in love with, the person you were before you were ever hurt or disappointed? Be that awesome version of you again.
Have you noticed how sometimes people say really mean things, then upon seeing the shock you can't quite hide from your face, they say, "I'm just being authentic"?
That's not authenticity.
Just as the look on your face suggests (if you have no poker face whatsoever, like me), it's just mean.
You are love. You are made of love. Love is what you are at the core of your being.
So, then, to be authentic is to be love, or at least loving in action (even if you don't feel love-y).
If you want to be mean, sarcastic, or judgmental, own it. At the very least, this gives the people around you the opportunity to not take you personally, and to have respect for you taking honest responsibility for your choice of behavior.
I've noticed a trend where people are calling themselves spiritual and authentic, and simply using it as license to be hateful to whatever they personally don't like.
I may wish everyone agreed with me about equality, healthcare, politics, and education, but it's not "just being authentic" to say those who don't are stupid idiots who don't know anything. To discriminate against and exclude others, to withhold love while thinking I am "right" because I choose love, in itself, is an act of war.
War is not love.
LOVE ALL. Be kind to ALL. It's simple!
When you choose love, you must remember that others are allowed to choose their own life experience - and that might look radically different from your own, and that's ok. They have the right to live life (and make decisions about their life) from a place of fear. You can still be an example of unconditional love. It's what people in fear need: an example of love.
People - ALL people - need love.
They need compassion.
They need the freedom to have any relationship with your God or their God or multiple Gods or no God at all.
Your job is to be love in action.
When your judgment of their ideals collides with their judgment of yours, there is war. There is disharmony. There is fear. Love cannot occupy that space and do the healing things love does.
Authenticity is not a weapon.
Love is not a weapon.
Fear is a weapon.
Hate is a weapon.
But not love.
Mindfulness' is a popular buzzword these days, but what does it mean? An Amazon search reveals over 9,000 book results for that one little word. That's a lot of reading! Can mindfulness possibly be that complicated?
Mindfulness is the practice of being aware of the now (the present moment you are in), and of how you are affecting yourself, others, and your surroundings with your behavior. Your behavior consists of your thoughts, emotions, attitudes, actions, and reactions.
All of us, at times, are wrapped up in our own stories, reliving the past, projecting into the future, taking everything in the world to mean something about us personally. When we live immersed in our thoughts and emotions, and trying to figure out what it all means, we miss what's taking place - you know, the actual living of life.
With mindfulness, we can stop being so concerned with the past and the future. We practice feeling our emotions as they come (that doesn't necessarily mean reacting or responding to them), and we acknowledge that our thoughts don't control us. Rather, the practice of mindfulness teaches us that we are neither our thoughts, nor our emotions. In fact, we are not even our bodies. The aspect of us who is thinking thoughts, and feeling emotions- that is something beyond the hardware of our physical bodies. Thoughts don't think themselves, after all, yet they come from somewhere.
Science tells us that energy changes form, but never dies. Therefore, in the practice of mindfulness, we are consciously altering the form of the energy that makes up our experience of life.In mindfulness, we stop reacting, and we begin to choose our responses based on the needs of the present moment. In that way, we begin to radically change our lives. No longer are we driven by learned patterns, habits, and unconscious beliefs, because we are finally making conscious choices, and it changes everything - everything! - for the better.
If you don't know how to get present to even attempt to begin a mindfulness practice, start with noticing your own breathing. As you become aware of your inhalations and exhalations, you are, by default, in the present, where the breathing is taking place.
Set the timer on your phone to chime every 15 minutes, and when it does, focus on 3 breaths, then go back to whatever you were doing. When that becomes easier, focus on your breath, then see if you can go a little deeper, and be aware of your heartbeat. Can you feel it by focusing on it? And when that is easy, focus on the flow of blood through your veins and arteries as your heart beats, taking the oxygen from each new breath around to feed your cells.
Don't take anything personally. How you think and feel and act is under your ownership to change or not. How others think, feel, and act is about them, and how they feel. When you feel derailed from being mindful, check to see if you are internalizing the behaviors of others. And if so, knock it off. Go back to your breath, your actions, and choose your responses consciously.
Yeah-Yeah-Yeah, I know that, but-
Those are important words in any conversation. They indicate that all hope of actual communication is lost.
Have you ever been in the middle of explaining something, and someone says, "Yeahyeahyeah-" as a way to say they already know where you are going, so now they want to skip ahead to their turn?
It has a way of instantly shutting down the person who was interrupted. It says, "What you have to say isn't valuable to me, and you are wasting my time." And it's more than an interruption. It can actually diminish a person's sense of worthiness, and create shame for simply existing.
If you are someone who confabulates that way, you might think I'm being dramatic. But the effects on how we communicate with one another cannot be understated. Not everyone will be affected so deeply, but many are.
If you are enjoying time with friends and family, and people are excitedly recounting a fun memory, they might skip back and forth in the telling of the story, seemingly interrupting one another with "yeahyeahyeahandthen...", and it might be fine, and even fun for this kind of over-the-top interaction. But what I'm talking about isn't that kind of dynamic (and even there, if you aren't careful, you can steamroll someone without realizing it).
In most interraction, this communication quirk errodes trust and destroys relationships.
I once watched a realtionship disintegrate before my eyes that I thought would never end. One party felt misunderstood, but when they tried to explain themselves, the other party would cut them off with a 'yeahyeahyeahbutwhatyoudon'tunderstandis...' Person 1 was pigeonholed and never had the opportunity to correct misperceptions, or even to validate what the perceptions were, let alone show that they'd grown. Person 2 was so sure of themselves. so sure they were right and already knew it all, that Person 1 gave up trying to be heard, and the relationship ended.
These two people loved and adored one another as much as anyone I've ever seen, maybe even more than most. They would have each laid down their lives without hesitation to protect the other. I saw them both jump to defend the other's honor more times than I can count.
We all long to be heard.
To be acknowledged.
To be validated.
To be worth waiting for.
Next time you are tempted to hurry someone with "Yeah, yeah, yeah," or "I already know that," consider taking a deep breath, and hearing them out.
It might just save your realtionship.
I hear it all the time in spiritual circles, "YOU are responsible for EVERYTHING that has ever happened to you," and "There are no victims." These sentiments translate to, "You may not realize it, but you asked for it. It's your fault." It makes you responsible for everyone else's behavior, and it's a really crummy thing to say to people who are already struggling (and seriously, who's not?).
Even after a lifetime of spiritual pursuit, this sentiment still sounds like nails screeching down a chalkboard. SCREEEEEEEEECCCCHHHHHH
Whenever I've had the chance to ask for philosophical details from the people who have said it, I have. I've gotten lots of lame answers and blank stares.
Conversations go like this:
Me: So everyone is responsible for everything that has ever happened to them, am I hearing that correctly?
Them: Yes. Everything.
Me: So the woman who is raped while jogging in the park...she is responsible for being raped?
Them: Well, umm, that's a horrible thing, but she chose to be at the park at that time. Something drew her there. Her karma, maybe.
Me: Okay, what about babies who are beaten and molested? Are they responsible for being abused?
Them: Well you see, you choose your parents before you incarnate. You chose them based on the lessons you wanted to learn here. Plus, people come with karma from past lives, so no one is innocent anyway, not even babies.
Me: What about children who are kidnapped by strangers? What about strangers who murder random people? What about horrible accidents?
Them: Well, we all have free will, so...
I can't take it. I just can't. We have to clear this up. Victim blaming isn't helpful, and it adds to the shame and powerlessness of being victimized to begin with.
Can you imagine this pre-incarnation conversation...
Me: Hey, loving spirit, Can I ask you a favor?
Them: Oh my gosh, I Am Love, and You Are Love...I'd totally do anything for you!
Me: Great! You see, I'm about to incarnate on Earth, and around that age of 4, I'm going to be dancing and spinning, delighting in the feel of my body, and the sunshine on my face, feeling really at home in this graceful form.
Them: Yeah? That sounds great!
Me: Yeah, I want you to humiliate me when that happens. I need that so I remember to not ever feel too good about myself, or too safe in my body. Can you do that?
Me: Just push me down and tell me how stupid I look. Maybe kick some sand into my face to drive the point home.
Me: No, seriously. Come on. You will be totally enlightened after, because it's a favor to me. You'll do it, right?
Yeah, not so much, me either. I can't imagine...
Here's the deal:
YOU are responsible for YOUR actions, YOUR reactions, YOUR thoughts, YOUR emotions, and all YOUR various feelings. YOU are responsible for making your life what you want it to be, regardless of what has happened to you.
You didn't ask anyone to hurt you. The love that you are wouldn't do that. The love they are wouldn't agree to it.
We have all been victimized in some way or another, big or small, but none of us need to play the role of victim. And that's the point.
You may have been victimized, but...
You don't have to play the role of a victim.
Take responsibility for what your life looks like right now, inner and outer, and make the changes that need to be made in order for you to be joyful, peaceful, and free. You are responsible for making YOU happy (you can't make anyone else happy). If there are things that can't be changed, accept them. Shift your paradigm with those things, and learn to be peaceful with them. Allow everything in your life to drive you toward your soul, toward your personal fulfillment, toward love and compassion.
Crummy stuff happens sometimes. It's our job to look for the silver linings, and if we can't find them, to create them.
Have you ever encountered this misconception?
What spiritual concepts have you heard that don't resonate with you?
Please share your thoughts below.
Having a mentor or coach in your life can be really helpful.
It's someone who can show us how to be better at life, to inspire us that there is more within our reach. Someone to lean on for a minute when we feel weak and worn down, and feel like giving up. Someone to show the way to a better way of life.
Mentors, coaches, spiritual leaders, healers, therapists, teachers... we have many names to call the people who are in positions to do these things. We honor them. We respect them. We are vulnerable with them.
And there is little more devastating to our sense of being than when we are let down or betrayed by our leaders.
It's important to do your research on your prospective mentor so you know you're putting your trust in the right person.
As you search for a mentor, keep these guidelines in mind.
1. Someone you desire to emulate in the way they show up to the world. Your mentor should be a presence of love, joy, peace, and integrity in your life (and the lives of others). When you buy into their sessions, programs, classes, churches, or healing centers, what you are really buying into is them. Everything else is secondary.
Quick tip: Check out their online presence. Are they positive, helpful, and uplifting? Or are they sarcastic, inappropriate, and make themselves out to be victims? Would you be proud to share their content with your loved ones, or would you feel the need to apologize for their behavior?
2. (Respectfully) challenges you, makes you think new thoughts and question old ones. Paying someone to agree with you exclusively is a waste of time, money, and energy. Also, it creates unhealthy dynamics that are counter to the goals of growth and betterment. Someone who agrees with you all the time is afraid to lose you. Right there, the relationship is already dysfunctional and doomed.
A mentor who demands agreement, submission, or buy-in may be an ego-maniac. If they make you feel stupid for having other ideas, opinions, beliefs, or experiences, beware.
3. Without an agenda, other than to serve your needs. Your mentor is a servant leader. You shouldn't feel bullied, belittled, or bossed around.
Warning Sign! If a mentor won't refer you out to another expert in another path of expertise, or worse - acts jealous when you explore! - that can be a clue that your mentor has an agenda other than your growth.
4. Not afraid to rattle your cage. If you have a great mentor, you may at times feel quite upset with them. Calling into question every belief you are guided by is some triggering work.
Even though you want someone who will challenge you, there is a fine line into abuse of power. Always remember the first rule: LOVE. Love has no agenda other than to be love, to serve love, and to expand in love.
5. Sees the world through eyes of love and compassion. If your mentor is angry, jealous, petty, or fearful, then those are the lenses they are guiding you through. That is who they will teach you to become. It would be impossible not to, if that's what they embody.
Watch out for mentors who withhold and are not transparent in their authenticity.
6. Has excellent boundaries. Your mentor is not your buddy. Our pals rarely hold us (or themselves) to high standards. Your mentor must be that exemplar for you so you can learn too...and all without making you feel less than, or lower. Boundaries should bolster your confidence overall, because they create a safe space for you.
Red flag! Watch out for mentors who date or have sex with their students. No one can truly feel safe in an environment where they are a potential interest for the leader.
7. Willing and able to say, "I don't know." Humility is important in mentorship. Mentors have the power to destroy the lives of those who trust them implicitly. Your mentor shouldn't make up answers or be brash - they should take time to consider the options with you and be willing to come back to you later with more information.
Watch out when they don't acknowledge their mistakes, or apologize sincerely.
8. Eagerly welcomes your questioning and skepticism. Trust is earned. If your mentor takes your lack of understanding what you came to learn as an affront, you have a big red flag on your hands. If they know their stuff, and if they are confident in their abilities, they will actually trust and respect you more for questioning them. You can't really own a concept for yourself without questioning it at some point.
TIP: You'll know they're welcome of your questioning when they respect your opinions if you decide you don't agree with their ideas.
9. Has expertise in the area you seek help in. You wouldn't go to a doctor who flunked out of medical school, so why would you take financial advice from someone who was chronically broke? Or business advice from someone who works two part-time jobs to make her business possible? Or relationship advice from someone trapped in a bad marriage?
If the mentor you are considering seems unstable in their history, or has multiple jobs, make sure you look at the big picture to see if that's a fit for you.
10. Acknowledges the partnership between you. No one can change you. You must change yourself, if you are to change. Your mentor is a way-shower and a cheerleader. YOU are the hero in your story. Be cautious if your mentor is a glory hog.
Red flag: "I told you so" shouldn't come out of your mentor's mouth. Your mentor is ultimately a resource for your own life - they're not your boss.
Working with someone to change your life is always a huge step, and a vulnerable one. We hear stories all the time from people whose doctors have said vile and hurtful things without even seeming to realize it, or care that they did. If a practitioner of physical health can hurt us so deeply, imagine what a practitioner of spiritual, emotional, or mental health can do, and how it can affect our relationships with self and others, and our businesses.
One more thing...
Watch out for someone with no history in their field. Some mentors chose their profession as a back-up plan or because they couldn't find work in another field. This isn't always a deal-breaker, but it almost never feels the same as working with someone who truly LOVES serving others and sees it as their lifelong mission.
Do you remember the 1991 movie What About Bob? In the opening scene, we meet Bob Wiley, a neurotic mental patient staring into the mirror and chanting, "I feel good, I feel great, I feel wonderful..." And as you watch his morning routine, you'll see he feels anything but good, great, and wonderful.
Knowing what you want is great, but repeating affirmations and thinking your life is going to change just doesn't work.
As you shift your mindset to include affirmations, you may begin to notice, and be grateful, for things that may have gone unnoticed before, and that's a great start.
But if affirmations were that easy, we'd all be living the dream by now.
In order to make affirmations work, we must change our minds at a core level.
The conscious mind is easy to change. One moment you want vanilla, the next you want chocolate. It's already made, and it's vanilla? Well then, vanilla is great! Easy. We change our conscious minds all the time.
For affirmations to work, to change our lives, we have to dive beneath the surface and root out our sub-conscious and unconscious beliefs, and our core patterning. We have to identify what we believe that is not supporting of the life our affirmations would have us believe we want (sub-conscious)- and why we believe it (unconscious).
The unconscious and subconscious minds are vast, and how they formed must be understood in order for us to bring them to consciousness (where we finally have a choice to change them). So long as something is still unconscious or sub-conscious, there is little, if anything, that can be done about them.
The unconscious mind is formed from conception to about age 3. The mind is a sponge that takes in everything without discrimination or discretion. Once we understand Me, Mine, and I - ie; that we are separate from our parents - then the subconscious begins to form based on the beliefs and wounding patterns established in the unconscious.
Our subconscious then influences EVERY SINGLE CONSCIOUS BELIEF we have. So basically, unless you can get to that core unconscious belief and work on reprogramming your core pattern, you will continue to make the same choices and mistakes, even though you feel like you are making different choices. You'll trade the blonde for the brunette, not realizing that the brunette holds the same relationship dynamics for you (because those dynamics and patterns are actually yours).
When we change our mind's programming to align with what we consciously desire, it is then that we become unstoppable. It is then that we become magnets for the very things that were once mysteriously out of our reach.
When someone says to you, "Oh, just write some affirmations to change your life!" what they are really saying is, "Oh, just radically transform everything about yourself, then it'll be no problem!"
That's a lot of work. But, hey, I love transformation.
I've been on stage my whole life, acting, singing, performing, speaking, teaching...And I've always been told I'm boisterous - okay, maybe downright loud - and outgoing. And I am, in many ways, so it came as a complete shock to me when I realized I'm actually an introvert.
What?! So it's NOT weird that I have no problem talking to 800 people at once, but the idea of networking at a happy hour event makes me want to run screaming? Apparently it's not weird at all. I'm just an introvert.
With this discovery, suddenly everything made so much sense!
This realization allowed me to finally give myself permission to be me, and to stop beating myself up for rarely wanting to do the things that so many people do (almost anything with crowds - egads, no!). I had a lot of erroneous ideas about what made an introvert an introvert, and an extrovert an extrovert. I thought that only an extrovert would enjoy being a public speaker. When I saw Susan Cain's Ted Talk on the Power of Introverts, which was really my first thought-provoking exposure to the idea of introversion and extroversion, I remember thinking how brave she was to overcome her crippling shyness to give this great talk. Clearly I still didn't completely understand, but after watching that video, I was beginning to.
Then I started seeing all these lists on Facebook, like 23 Signs that You May Be an Introvert and 27 Problems Only Introverts Will Understand, and I was like, "Oh my gosh, that's ME!" I'd spent my whole life fighting against my natural need and inclination to have quiet time and down time. No wonder I love meditating so much! It gave me a really good excuse to do something I love, that felt great, and I knew was good for me.
It turns out that being shy has nothing to do with being an introvert, and Susan Cain didn't necessarily have to overcome anything like shyness in order to speak publicly.
Introverts simply fill their cups by quiet activities alone or in very small groups, and often feel depleted by too much outer stimulation, while extroverts feel energetically fed by outer stimulation and activities, and often feel depleted after spending too much time alone.
Introverts can be loud or quiet, and extroverts can be quiet or loud. It's a spectrum, and we each have our own unique place on it.
Whether you are more of an introvert, more of an extrovert, or an ambivert, give yourself permission to be you. Stop beating yourself up. Don't compare yourself with what you think is supposed to be "normal" anymore, and then use that as license to self-abuse. Someday, you'll figure out two things:
1. You are totally normal, and
2. You are totally unique
So why not go ahead and give yourself permission to just be you? It's as good a time to start as any. The sooner, the better, actually.
Most people tell me they are meditation failures. It seems that many people want to meditate, and many people try to meditate, but almost nobody feels like they have achieved meditation.
We are, after all, a world of do-ers, not be-ers. Sitting down and doing nothing is hard. Really hard. And clearing your mind just because you want to? Forgeddaboutit! Not even remotely possible.
Intention, as it turns out, is not everything, and most of us don't know how to just be. We want to besomething, but that is still do-ing. If that's the case, then why not make our do-ing nature work for us, instead of making it into one more thing that's supposedly wrong with us?
I've heard of long meditation retreats in far off places where participants sit cross-legged on a pillow with their eyes closed for up to 16 hours at a time, and for days on end. They are supposed to somehow face (and quiet) their mental and emotional chaos, and ignore their cramped and aching bodies entirely.
Some spend a lifetime meditating this way, hoping for an experience of nirvana, enlightenment, moksha, bliss, or spiritual ecstasy.
"How long do I need to sit here before I'm enlightened?"
The truth is, enlightenment is easy. We all have moments of enlightenment all the time. We get a great idea. Or sudden clarity around a situation. We experience a moment of pure joy in a baby's smile. Just look at all the inspiration on Facebook and Pinterest! We are enlightened all the time. It's everywhere.
So why is it so hard?
There are many different ways to meditate. One simple but powerful way is mindful, or focused, breathing.
If you can breathe, you can meditate.
If you can breathe, you can experience peace.
If you can breathe, you can quiet your mind and emotions.
If you can breathe, you can reduce your stress, and most likely your blood pressure as well.
Plant your tush any old place that's safe, get comfortable, and notice your breath.
Gently accept all the answers without judging any of them. It's all okay, whatever it is. It's not good, and it's not bad. It just is what it is.
Bring your focus back to your breathing. Begin to take slow, deep breaths down into your belly.
Relax your shoulders. Relax your chest. Relax your tongue. Relax your eyes. Relax your hips. And breathe.
As you breathe, begin to count. Inhale-2-3-4...pause...exhale-2-3-4...pause...inhale-2-3-4...pause...exhale-2-3-4...pause, and continue at your own pace, matching the number for the inhale to the number for the exhale. Nice, even breathing with a slight pause at the top of the inhale, and at the bottom of the exhale.
If your lungs are full at the count of 3, then use a 3-count. If you can breathe out to 20, then use a 20-count. The number isn't important. The focus and consistency is.
Inhale. Pause. Exhale. Pause.
If you get distracted, simply bring your focus back to the breathing and counting. No judging. Just breath.
Do this for 3-5 minutes, and if you enjoy it, if it quiets your mind and brings some peace and relaxation, then continue. Work your way up to 20 minutes over time.
You will notice in a few days that the number you can breathe to will get a little bigger. If you start at 4 or 5 (pretty average for most people), you will soon notice that you can go for 7-8, then 9-10. This is your body responding. This is your body healing, and becoming more efficient.
The effects on your brain (and therefore your body, mind, emotions, and sense of connection) are instantaneous.
Check out this brain image below. It shows stress activity all over the brain of a non-meditator before breathing. After just a single 20 minute focused-breathing session, the brain is cool, calm, and clear: a blue pearl.
THAT is amazing.
Try it, and comment below on how you feel, or with any questions. Let me know what you think!
Jennifer Nelson of Mother Nature Network was doing some research for an article she was writing on the topic of energy medicine. She called Embrace Your Humanity for an expert opinion on spiritual coaching and energy healing to round out her other experts on acupuncture and Reiki.
You can view the full article here.
And here's an excerpt from my interview:
A massage for the soul
Shani Enns, spiritual coach, energy healer and founder of www.embraceyourhumanity.com in Kansas City, grew up around energy healing. She has certificates from many modalities but says she’s practiced her own brand of energy medicine for the past 10 years.
Enns performs energy healing along with spiritual coaching and says whatever problem someone comes in with, she works to shift their beliefs, patterns and habits with both coaching and energy healing.
Some people come in with cancer, some with health problems, others with depression; many come for emotional issues. It usually goes in tandem. “People who don’t feel good physically also don’t feel good emotionally,” says Enns.
Someone once described her work as a massage for the soul.
Similar to reiki, Enns lays her hands on various parts of someone’s body such as their head, heart or belly and sends energy inward. She frequently works with entrepreneurs who are looking to manifest wealth and success in business.
During or after a session people feel buzzing, tingling, dizziness, a sense of heaviness, and may see colors, Enns says. Many feel a state of peace or nothingness. Occasionally people say they don’t feel anything other than well rested. Enns says one of the most gifted energy healers she knows doesn’t feel anything giving — or even receiving energy work. He goes on faith because his clients experience amazing effects.
Results are very individual for any type of energy work. Enns says she had a client in kidney failure who was cured and didn’t need further dialysis. She also had a client with advanced breast cancer who was comforted and benefited from pain relief. “Sometimes healing means being OK with dying,” says Enns.
There are many ways practitioners provide reiki. Some use crystals and gemstones; others play music; some chant. “If it’s too weird for you or too mainstream for you, find another practitioner,” says Gruver. Enns offers her first session free for just this reason.
Many practitioners provide distance energy work via phone or Skype, and many offer animal healing. Enns explains that practitioners of energy medicine draw energy from the endless source that the universe provides. She always comes out of energy work feeling better than before she gave it. “I feel joy, peace and bliss giving it.” People who receive energy healing often feel the same way.
Our children come to us here on Earth from the bliss of beingness. The transition to human, I think, might be a little shocking for even the most prepared soul.
As humans, we each have a profound desire to be seen, to be loved for exactly who we are, and to belong.
Our children are especially vulnerable to these needs. So much so that a baby who doesn't receive enough loving touch will fail to thrive, leading to long term developmental and behavioral problems.
The best way to deal with behavioral problems is to prevent them. Children (as well as adults) act out for a reason. They have a need, be it real or imagined, that is going unfulfilled. They need attention. They need love. They need acceptance and belonging. It is our weakest, most wounded spots that need the most love.
Love is the best preventative medicine.
Get excited to see your kid every time they enter the room you are in. Stop whatever you are doing and greet your child with love. Smile, tell them you are so happy to see them.
Do you remember the time when your baby would stand in their crib in the morning, and as soon as they saw you they would jump up and down and giggle with unrestrained joy and excitement? Be that happy to see them too, even when they are taller than you.
Your job is to teach your children about Love. It is not enough to quietly feel it and assume they know the depth. You must show them and make them aware. They need to know all the way to their bones that they are profoundly cherished.
Love without condition.
Love without limits.
Love without barriers or boundaries in your heart.
It's easier than ever to spoil children. I've seen toddlers with their own iPhones. Parents tell me it's great because the kid can watch movies or play games on it to entertain them.
We live in a world where we can have a relationship with someone we've never met on the other side of the world while we are starved for love, connection, and intimacy right in the same room with our loved ones.
There is excess wherever we look, and in a world where most parents have to work outside the home, it's really understandable that we want to give our kids things that make them happy and entertain them. We even give our children leeway with manners, no longer teaching them basic rules of respect.
The problem I see most often is that we want our kids to like us. We want to be their friend. We want to be cool. And as such, our credibility goes right out the window.
Children want boundaries. They need them. They may not like them outwardly, but inwardly, the world only makes sense to them when they know how to predict cause and effect. Kids long for the safety of limits. They love consistency.
What children need from their parents is for them to be parents. Parents are the moral guides for a child. Parents are a child's first experience of God, love, and connection. We are where they learn how to communicate and what the role of love is in the world.
When a family is experiencing a time of transition - a birth, a death, a divorce, a move - these are the times when they need the strongest boundaries, the most consistency, and the greatest loving connection.
Fill their time with you. Teach them to think and to reason. Teach them that life gives back in direct relationship to what is put in. Model the behavior you want them to repeat, and set the bar high.
Kids will most often do exactly as you expect. What you expect is up to you.
Spoiled kids hate their parents. Even worse, they hate themselves. They don't know how not to, because they don't know how to be in control of themselves. They don't know how not to manipulate or how to not be entitled.
Spoiling children sets them up for a lifetime of misery in learning that the world beyond Mom & Dad's house doesn't work the same way.
Respect your children, and they will respect you, even if they don't always like you. You are a big deal in their lives.
Parent first, friendly relationship second.
You will always need to be a parent first, when they need it. That is a lifetime commitment. You never have the luxury of being just a friend.
Be someone your kid respects, from deep down in their heart, and you will find yourself with the relationships you've always wanted with them.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.
1900 Swift Street
North Kansas City, MO