Jul 292013
 

Apologize

I have an almost 4-year old and a 5-year old at home. Just as I was raised, my wife and I do our best to teach our children that they should say, “sorry” after doing something wrong. I think from a social perspective there are many times when it is certainly appropriate to apologize.

Of course, there are many times when we apologize for making a mistake or if we’ve intentionally or unintentionally hurt others. However, I think many of us abuse this word and wind up using it as a crutch for deeper insecurities. This might be a hard pill to swallow but I’ve been victim of this and even if you think you haven’t, I encourage you to stay with me.

I’m not talking about those times we say, “sorry” when we hear of a close friend who lost a loved one or when your best friend calls up and says they didn’t get that job they wanted. What I’m talking about are all those other times we apologize for things we have no control over. Take for example the following scenarios:

Scenario 1:

You call someone you care about and they mention they’re busy and you apologize – as if you are interupting them and it’s your fault.

Scenario 2:

You’re in a group of others and begin to cry and apologize – as if you are somehow offending them.

Scenario 3:

You begin to ask someone for something by saying, “I’m sorry but can you…or can I?” – as if you have no place to be asking.

There are many scenarios in which we wind up apologizing in situations that simply don’t warrant an apology. In the first scenario, we apologize for “disturbing” someone who is busy. As if to suggest that we somehow knew they were busy or that we’re somehow responsible for them answering their own phone.

In the second scenario, we apologize that we’re showing our emotions. We’re emotional beings by nature but somewhere down the line we learned that expressing your emotions (which is completely natural) is somehow not natural and means that you’re weak or “less than”. This simply isn’t true.

In the third scenario, we apologize before we even begin our question. Can you sense the fear in there right off the bat? We’re saying in a very indirect and often times unnoticed way that we’re not even good enough to be asking for whatever it is we need or want. Don’t we have a right to ask for what we need and want?

The common denominator in all these scenarios and many others that weren’t listed is shame. People hate talking about shame and I think it’s mostly because we never really had a good education about what it really means. For a great 3-part series on shame and what it means click here! (but finish this first! 😉 ).

The short and sweet version is that shame is any situation or feeling that causes us to feel “less than”. If you look back in each of these scenarios we’re suggesting that we’re not good enough or just not enough in one form or another. It’s subtle and it’s so extremely common but apologizing in these situations (and many others) all comes back to thinking we are “less than”.

The truth of the matter is we get to use good boundaries around others. If you phone someone and they are busy and can’t talk, it says nothing about you. Furthermore, we need to assume they are responsible enough to not answer the phone if they are truly busy. We are enough, we haven’t caused them inconvenience, and we have a right to reach out and connect!

The truth of the matter is we get to express our emotions. I was in a bakery recently with my wife and we shared a serious conversation. I found myself crying (not sobbing but crying) <—notice even right here, how I had to distinguish between “breaking down” and just crying as to somehow suggest that I couldn’t do one over the other in public? Even in writing this piece that shame is still in me, letting me know that “Josh it’s ok to cry but you can’t sob in front of others”…The truth is, we all get to express our emotions and it doesn’t make us less than. We were shamed into thinking we were somehow “less than” or weak if we showed others that we cry. It’s nonsense and we don’t ever need to apologize for it.

The truth in the matter is we have a right to ask others to support us in meeting our needs and wants. We don’t have to make apology for standing up for ourselves. Whoever convinced us that showing up for ourselves meant we first had to apologize had their own issues and we don’t need to take that on anymore. We get to ask for what we need and want and make no apologies about it.

Clearly some of us do this more than others but I invite you to pay close attention to the times you apologize throughout a given day or week. Are you apologizing because you clearly made a mistake or is it because you’re feeling “less than” in that given moment? This is a very difficult task as it involves us being brutally honest with ourselves.

However, I believe when we allow ourselves the opportunity to be open and honest we get to discover some things that might be holding us back. We all want to discover who we are. We all want to live a more full life. Part of doing this requires us to be honest and to face those things that need healing head on. The good news is you are not alone. I’m walking down this path right with you!

With Gratitude and Appreciation,

Josh_Sig

 

 

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Jul 222013
 

Manifests

This is part 2 of a 2-part series on imagination and manifestation. If you haven’t read the first part then I highly encourage you to do so before reading on. You can read the first part by clicking here!

So we’ve imagined all these things are possible. We’ve accepted the possibility and allowed it to hang out in our minds for a bit. But how do we take it from the step of imagination to the step of manifestation? Let’s explore…

Feeling safe even when the News tells you otherwise.

This can be a challenging one but let’s dive into it! Safe and Secure (as it relates to our self esteem) is actually an inherent quality of ours. Meaning that the starting place is that we are always safe and secure even when we FEEL otherwise. That’s why “safe” isn’t really a feeling but more of a judgement or an observation. Often times when we say we don’t feel safe, actually what we’re saying is that we feel afraid or scared.

In reality and as it relates to our self esteem we are always safe. There’s nothing you can do for your self esteem to be more or less safe, it just is. So the next time the News comes on and talks about all this crime acknowledge your feeling of fear arise but also affirm that you are inherently safe.

Acknowledging that fear is present will allow yourself to be both safe and feel your feeling at the same time. This is a stark contrast to what normally happens which is that we confuse how we feel (scared) with who we are and start living as though we are not safe.

You are not your feelings! Feel the fear AND acknowledge that you are always safe.

Hugging (connecting) to others without it implying anything sexual.

We’re completely mixed up in this society, confusing just about any type of affection with sex. Physical connection is something we all yearn for at birth and something that should be protected not thrown out and confused for inappropriate behavior. We use jokes and sarcasm (especially as it relates to touch and sex) as a form of passive aggressive behavior.

We’re normally so uncomfortable with physical affection (non-sexual) that we just have to act out. Accept yourself as connected to others. Accept yourself as an affectionate being who respects others and yourself. When you do this, you can allow yourself to experience love in the form of physical, non-sexual affection from others. This might be extremely uncomfortable at first but in order to accept your true connected self you must first sit in the discomfort of the person you’ve abandoned long ago.

Go back to that little child inside of yourself and check in with what they want and need. Most of our inner children are longing for some affection from those closest to us as a form of loving expression. Today, find a close friend or family member and ask them to share a hug. If the jokes or the sarcasm come up in your head, let them go. Remind yourself that your inner child deserves this affection and that the old passive aggressive behavior doesn’t serve you anymore.

Feeling wanted even when no one told you they wanted you.

You were born important. This is an inherent quality of everyone born on this planet. That means, you matter! If you’re still confused about this, consider that it’s literally a miracle that any child is even born. If you’re still not convinced, my wife and I went through 4 failed IUI’s and a miscarriage over a 4-year period before either of our children were born.

If you made it to planet earth, then clearly you are important and you matter! If this is the starting place in our lives then that also means we don’t have to do anything for it to be true. It’s simply true because we were born on this planet. Therefore, it’s completely irrelevant if anyone claims to want you or not want you. What others want has absolutely nothing to do with your value of importance in this world.

Feel sad, disappointed, angry, or grief that he or she didn’t “want” you but celebrate that you were and always will be important!

We are all connected and have a right to show it.

We often forget that we’re all connected. This has been proven from a quantum physical perspective as well as substantiated in the spiritual/philosophical realm. However, we’re taught from a very young age that we’re separate from others and that we have to compete with them to determine who is better than or less than. This couldn’t be further from how nature designed us though. When we accept we are whole and connected as a starting place in our life then we don’t need to fall into the illusion of separation.

One common way we separate from others is by judging them. It’s so easy to do and happens even without us noticing it. However, when we judge we’re not only separating ourselves from others but we’re abandoning ourselves. Our inherent nature says that we’re connected and compassionate. Yet, to judge is to disconnect and clearly we can’t have compassion for others while at the same time judging them.

The next time you find the urge to judge someone else, accept that there is internal conflict inside of you that is looking for some attention. Show compassion for others, knowing they are doing the best they can under the circumstances. Return to that discomfort that’s calling your attention and find out what inside of you needs some healing attention.

We are all connected and the only time we are separate is when there is discord and unrest in our own hearts.

Everyone you meet is good.

Good is an inherent quality of ours. There isn’t a baby that is born who is inherently bad. Every person born is good and because this is an inherent rite it also means there’s nothing that baby needs to do or not do to substantiate that.

The rub isn’t in whether a person is good or bad but rather in what they do. Good people do bad things. We too easily confuse what we do and what others do with who they are. The starting place isn’t what you do, the starting place is who you are. People can’t change, only their actions can. Typically those actions are a reflection of their own level of self awareness.

Consider next time you see someone doing something bad that they are a good person who is confused and not acting in alignment with their inherent self. When you see the goodness in others it will really change your life and the world around you. As Dr. Wayne Dyer says, “Change the way you see things, and the things you see will change.”

Finding the support in others who want the best for you.

Too often we surround ourselves with people who bring out the worst in us. Those same people are the ones who don’t see us for who we are but for what we do. However, in order to foster the loving types of relationships we all long for we need to be connected to those that truly see us.

This can be the hardest thing to do for some of us but freeing ourselves from harmful and/or inappropriate relationships is the first step toward living the life we want. There are others out there who are dying to see the goodness in you and who’s goodness is shining bright for you to see. The key is to get out from under the darkness of the shallow relationships you may have today. Get a glimpse of that light and your future will shine!

You don’t have get everything just right.

Perfectionism is rampant in our society and yet it’s almost joked about as something that’s “par for the course”. However, underneath that perfectionism lies a very insecure and unsettled soul. Fallibility is an inherent quality of ours. That means that we get to make mistakes as part of being human.

Too often we define who we are with what we do. If we don’t get it perfect than it means that we’re not perfect. Well guess what? We’re all perfectly imperfect which means we get to get it wrong by design. This will take lots of practice but the first step is to accept that you are not what you do. If you make a mistake or it’s not “just right” that’s okay.

If you want to manifest the life you truly desire than you need to accept yourself as you are. You are a Human Being and not a Human Doing. So don’t get it right and allow life to unfold naturally instead of trying to control and stop the flow of what’s coming your way.

Your dreams aren’t stuck in your sleep.

Your life is lived in every moment. Right now in the very moment you’re reading this article is your life! The Beautiful thing about moments is that every moment is an opportunity to choose. Most of the time our choices aren’t even in our conscious. We’re so conditioned to respond to life that we can go hours without even realizing or thinking about what we’re doing. It’s like we’re on auto-pilot most of the time.

Dreams live in our unconscious and are just waiting to surface yet in order for us to allow that we need to get out of this world of conditioned living. We need to become more aware of the moments we’re living in and allow ourselves to make the choices appropriate for the life we want. Even if you’ve been living the conditioned life I’ve been talking about, right now is  a new moment. And right now you get to make a new choice that will get you one step closer to that dream. Before you take that step finish reading this article though! 😉

Reminders of how magnificent you are every day.

You were born magnificent just as you were with the other inherent qualities I shared with you today. It’s hard for many of us to claim we are magnificent because we get stuck in that “less than/better than” pattern. This isn’t about comparing you to someone else and this isn’t about being better than or less than. We are all magnificent and we all should celebrate this inherent truth.

If you have trouble reminding yourself of this than go find someone who will. You know you have real friends if they can remind you of this. No, not in the egotistical type of way but in the way that reminds you how special you truly are. If you’re having trouble finding close friends than join organizations, visit websites or even Facebook groups.

How are we supposed to manifest the vision for our lives if we can’t accept and celebrate what’s true about us? What’s true about you is exactly the same as what’s true about me and that’s that we’re both Magnificent!

You are no longer victim to your circumstances.

Life isn’t about what happens to us, it’s about how we respond to those things. After all, I can’t control whether someone is going to try and take advantage of me later today but I can certainly control my response to that. It’s so easy to put ourselves in the victim state though because often times, it’s the easiest thing to do.

Whenever we blame others we’re putting ourselves in the victim state. The problem with being a victim is that you have to wait for someone to come and rescue you. What’s worse is that no one is coming to rescue you! Why? Because you’re not a victim, you only think you are! So today, make a commitment to stop the blaming of other people and other situations for your lack of response. Remember, we get to choose our response to the things that happen to us.

I hope you’ve found the theme throughout this post as I have. That theme is that we are not what we think, what we feel, or what we do. Nope. You and I are magnificent, connected, loving, lovable, important, fallible, enough, worthy, and valuable people. It doesn’t matter what we do, what we think or what we feel and all those things are always true.

The key to manifesting the dreams we so desire is not in reaching “out there” for it but rather reaching inside. When we accept all these truths about ourselves we become in alignment with nature and the world around us. Things will start to transpire as a result of that alignment.

Life isn’t about achievements, acknowledgements, awards, roles, status, or money. Life is about accepting our own truth and allowing the gifts to open up around us naturally. If you’re not seeing those gifts you dream about at least you know you where and how to find them.

With Gratitude and Appreciation,

Josh_Sig

 

 

Want to live the BEST version of YOU!? Take the FREE 5 Day Self Love Challenge and start living the life you want today!

Jul 192013
 

Imagination

It’s interesting how we put our lives into boxes. We decide, based on what others tell us, that life can only be one way or another. The possibilities of who we can become and how we interact in the world are often times limited by belief more than time and space. I think we need to take some time to explore what life can be like if we so choose.

This is Part I of a two part series and at the end of this post will be a link for Part II. So for now, let’s dive in to use our BEautiful brains and explore how good life could be. Notice how I’m defining good here. It’s not based on material consumption, making more money, or obtaining some illusory status. We’re keeping it real here my friends.

For each of these statements I will invite you to pause for a few seconds and take it in. Let it resonate in that mind of yours and truly consider this is a possibility. Also note that some of these things may bring up some uncomfortable feelings. That’s okay too! Say, “Hello” to your feelings and move on to the next one.

Imagine a world where you could feel safe even when the news tells you otherwise.

Imagine a world where you could hug others without it implying anything sexual.

Imagine a world where you could feel wanted even when no one told you they wanted you.

Imagine a world where we were all connected and we showed it.

Imagine a world where everyone you ever met was good.

Imagine a world where you were supported by others who wanted the best for you.

Imagine a world where you didn’t have get everything just right.

Imagine a world where your dreams don’t just show up while you’re asleep.

Imagine a world where you were reminded of how magnificent you are every day.

Imagine a world where you’re no longer victim to your circumstances.

These are just 10 things we can all imagine that might just make our lives better. It’s likely that many, if not all these things are still in our imaginations and not part of our daily lives. Perhaps for some of you these are things you haven’t even imagined possible. That’s very likely of course because how many people in our lives have actually given us the opportunity to consider them as possible?

It’s not the fault of our caregivers or even those closest to us. Many people are playing the same broken record in their mind as we are. Holding limiting and self deprecating beliefs is pretty much the norm these days. That’s okay though. We don’t need to harp on what’s been happening in our lives up until today. For today, we get to choose anew!

So for now, take some time to let these possibilities settle into your imagination. After all, nothing in life is manifested unless it’s first placed into our imaginations. The trick is not letting it just get stuck in our imaginations.

The next and last part of this series will focus on how to actually manifest each of these 10 things I covered today. Putting a game plan into place and seeing physical and actionable steps we’ll take these concepts from imagination to manifestation!

So join me on my next post when we discover 10 ways to substantially make our world a better place to live in!

With Gratitude and Appreciation,

Josh_Sig

 

 

Check out Part 2 of this 2-Part Series!!

Want to live the BEST version of YOU!? Take the FREE 5 Day Self Love Challenge and start living the life you want today!

Jul 152013
 

boyshugging

This past weekend I went on our Annual Breakthrough Retreat for Men. There were approximately 100 men who attended this 3-day Retreat in the beautiful hills of Central California. This is now my 2nd year in attendance and the 23rd year overall that the Retreat has been in place.

The Retreat is mixed with creativity such as music, singing, and dancing as well as down time and a large amount of processing work. The theme of this year’s Retreat was “Living with Heart”. This is the same concept as living in alignment with our Inherent Nature or Living Authentically. We learned the opposite of Living with Heart is over-control. This is where we look for comfort and safety to protect ourselves from rejection, fear, and shame. I found several ways in my own life where I over-control a situation in order to protect myself. Can you think of any ways you might be doing this?

A few examples of over control include (and there are many more):

  • Saying “Yes” when we mean “No”
  • Being a Perfectionist
  • Being a People Pleasure
  • Turning to Alcohol, Cigarettes, or drugs
  • Shopping
  • Eating
  • Manipulating others
  • Staying in a job you hate
  • Staying under the radar

I was eating lunch one day and sitting to my right was a man I’d never met before. I introduced myself and we struck up a fascinating conversation. I learned that we were really quite the opposite in many ways yet we both had the same intention when it came to living with heart. When we ended our conversation I asked him, “Care to share a hug?” and he obliged. Hugging at these Retreats is very common place and not the typical “one-arm” man hug or chest pump that a lot of men do, either. These are hugs with real meaning and they last past the point of awkwardness. Yes, we get to celebrate feeling uncomfortable as we hug another man person.

I love hugging the different men at the Retreat. All of these men – gay, straight, young, old, tall, short, fat, thin, wealthy, economically challenged, Phd, No School and on and on…It’s not something I get to do normally and it feels great giving and receiving love from another person without having anything sexual attached to it. There’s a new one, huh? Well, after we hugged I said, “Too bad we can’t do this in the real world.” He said, “This is the real world.” I realized that he was totally right! The only difference between me hugging a strange man at this Retreat and one out on the street is me!

I jokingly said, well I wouldn’t want to get punched in the face (for asking to share a hug) and my new friend replied, “What if it wasn’t that bad?” Again, another “Aha” moment popped off as I realized what my brain was doing to me. My fear of vulnerability made up a story that if I share a hug with a stranger out in the “real world” I’ll get punched in the face. The reality is that likely wouldn’t happen and I would either get a hug or the man would look at me strange or just say, “No” and walk away. Yet, my fear wants me to be comfortable with it. If I actually turned to vulnerability and asked to share a hug with another man (or any stranger for that matter) I’d likely find out that I can connect in similar ways in the “real world”.

This little experience made me realize that too often we get stuck in our small groups of friends, families, and communities where we are able to act in honest, authentic, and loving ways. Yet when we go out into the “real world”, we find that we wear these masks, over control, and stay comfortable all in the name of protecting ourselves. Yet, what if there wasn’t anything to protect ourselves from? What if the world (as a starting place) was safe and that we could practice vulnerability? Think of all the amazing gifts we could both give and receive!

So, I now have a new goal to exercise my vulnerability. I need to find a stranger (I suppose it could be a man or a woman) whom I have a conversation with and pop the question – “Care to share a hug?”. Yes, it’s possible that I could get knocked upside my head but the probable and likely reality is that they’d either hug back or say, “No Thanks”. And if my request to share a hug gets rejected, it still means I get to celebrate that I accepted myself. This means I get to accept my vulnerability, embrace it, and still live! More importantly it means I’m living with heart!

Would you ever consider hugging a stranger you just met? Does the fear of vulnerability keep you from reaching out? Perhaps Utopia isn’t some made up thing in a dream world. Perhaps Utopia is right now in all of our lives and the only thing we need to do to access it is be vulnerable. Be ourselves.

With Gratitude and Appreciation,

Josh_Sig

 

 

Photo Credit: http://www.centreforattachment.com

Want to live the BEST version of YOU!? Take the FREE 5 Day Self Love Challenge and start living the life you want today!

 

Jul 122013
 

Roller_Coaster

A few weeks ago I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, Zen Parenting Radio. In the episode Cathy Cassani Adams mentioned a story where her daughter faced some uncomfortable feelings. In that moment Cathy chose to allow her daughter to have those feelings and honor them even though there was a strong pull to do so otherwise.

Often times, and especially as parents we’re faced with “knowing better” than our children. We’ve been there and done that and it’s easy to dismiss our children’s feelings knowing what the outcome would likely be. However, as Cathy alluded to there are many dangers in doing that.

This last weekend I found myself in a similar situation and what was interesting was that my normal response didn’t show up. Rather, I must have been channeling Cathy because I responded to my daughter in a way that will empower her to make choices appropriate for her, based on her own thoughts and feelings.

It was a pretty hot day in Carlsbad, California and the line to get on the Roller Coaster was quite long. My 5-year old daughter, Olivia, was getting tired and wanted me to hold her. Standing in line under the hot sun while holding your 50 lb. daughter can get quite tiring. Of course, I was looking forward to the line moving up so we could get on the ride.

After about 30 minutes or so an announcement came over the speaker that there was a “technical difficulty” and that the ride would resume momentarily. Because we had been waiting so long already, I decided we’d wait another 5 minutes before we left, assuming it wasn’t fixed. Well, it was just at that time that Olivia turned to me and said she didn’t want to go on the ride.

Initially I was surprised and felt a tad frustrated and disappointed. We had been waiting in the line all that time and it would have been one of her first real Roller Coaster rides. I knew if she stuck out waiting just a little more that she would have a great time on the ride. Plus, we had waited all that time already and to leave now would just be a crime.

I remembered what Cathy did in a similar moment and recalled that this is the time Olivia is learning to listen, honor, and respect all of her thoughts and feelings. It would have been easy for me to say, “No, we’ve waited this long and you’re going to have a great time on the ride!” I suppose I could have pushed it and certainly could have put her in a place where she was agitated and upset.

However, that’s not what I did. Instead, I asked her one last time before we stepped out of line if that’s what she really wanted and then we left. I wasn’t feeling upset, mad, or even frustrated at that point. In fact, I responded completely the opposite of how I would have in the past. I was actually excited for Olivia and celebrated her expression of her own thoughts and feelings.

I told her I was SO PROUD of her for letting me know she didn’t want to go on the ride. I told her that while I thought she would have had fun if she’s feeling scared or whatever, then she has a right to express that! I intentionally over-amplified my emotional response to the situation. I did that because I wanted to enforce in her mind that she has a right to her thoughts and feelings EVEN WHEN they may not jive with others. I wanted her to feel empowered to express herself and to know that she need not fall on others to think and feel what’s right for her.

Too often as parents we do our best by telling our children what they should think and feel about every situation. It doesn’t take long before our children question their own thoughts and feelings. They learn that their own thoughts and feelings aren’t reliable enough to stand on their own. So they go throughout life always asking others what they should do and how they should respond.

I see this all the time and I too have participated in that. Reaching out to friends and family about what decisions I should make. I’m not talking about big life changing decisions but even more benign and mundane ones. Decisions that if I had trusted in my own thoughts and feelings wouldn’t need the guidance and support of others.

Whether we’re parenting a child or parenting ourselves I think it’s important to honor and respect our thoughts and feelings. Too often we mitigate them by telling ourselves or our children, “You shouldn’t feel that way!”, or in response to someone’s thought, “Oh, here we go again!”. Yes, there are plenty of times when our thoughts and feelings are based on our Ego and on False Beliefs. Obviously that should be addressed but the starting place to all of this should be respect. Respecting our thoughts and feelings as real no matter how crazy they may appear.

To mitigate thoughts or feelings or dismiss them in any way as not being important or valuable is to abandon one’s Authentic Self (their soul). It seems to me, if we judged our thoughts and feelings a little less we may leave enough space to begin seeing them as they are. That space might just be what’s needed to shine enough light on what is going on underneath.

We all deserve the opportunity to be heard. We all deserve the opportunity to listen to ourselves. Showing up for others and for ourselves happens in many ways but at the core of it is our expression of our own reality. That reality, judgement aside, is reflected in each of our own thoughts and feelings. The truth is, while we do need the support of each other, we first need to accept ourselves fully. Parenting our children and “re-parenting” ourselves in ways that encourage and empower us to have our own thoughts and feelings is at the core of Self Love and Self Acceptance.

With Gratitude and Appreciation,

Josh_Sig

 

 

Want to live the BEST version of YOU!? Take the FREE 5 Day Self Love Challenge and start living the life you want today!

 

Jul 102013
 

Daddy_Olivia

Yesterday was an unusually long day for us. We spent several days visiting family in Southern California which is a solid 6-hour drive for us each way. Upon our return home I took my 5-year old, Olivia, food shopping with me. We headed out to our local Whole Foods to pick up some dinner and refill our fridge after being away from the house.

Olivia was sitting in the cart as she usually does. While we were waiting at the deli counter she blurted out the most unusual comment.

“Daddy, I don’t want you to die.”

I was totally taken back as my mind was focused on how thick they were slicing the maple-honey ham I had just ordered. Stunned, I turned to her and said, “Honey, Daddy isn’t going to die for a very long time.” To which she replied, “Well I don’t want Daddy to die one day.” I wasn’t sure where to go with this but thought now might be a good time to remind her that life is right now!

I hugged her and held her close to me as we waited for the deli to be sliced at the counter. I felt sad, concerned, loving, and a bit confused at the conversation we found ourselves in. I reminded her that we’re together right now and that life was in fact, right-now. I know this only went so far in her little 5-year old mind but she got it and the more I remind her, the more it will sink in.

As we walked to the car I noticed a sudden sadness and grief come over me. I felt sad that one day we won’t be holding hands like this. I felt sad that there will be a day when she doesn’t have me in her life and I won’t be here. I also felt sad acknowledging that my Mom has cancer and one day (hopefully decades from now) we’ll be facing a similar situation.

I told her that we will always be connected and that even if I’m not physically with her I’m still there. I told her she could close her eyes and hear my voice and know I’m right with her. I told her, “we’re always connected and part of Daddy is actually inside of you. We can’t be apart.” I knew this was true and it reminded me that we are always connected and we’re always together even when it doesn’t feel that way.

As we got to the car and as I was helping her get in her car seat tears started flowing down my face. It seems in trying to teach my daughter about present living I was stuck thinking about the future and what’s to come. She asked, “Are you crying Daddy?”, and I told her I was. She told me she loved me and kissed my cheek.

That conversation left me realizing how powerful (once again) feelings are and how quickly they can become you. We were both feeling scared and disconnected (at the thought of death) yet the reality is we’re never alone nor can we ever be disconnected. Those feelings got so big and so quickly that it overshadowed the truth. Being connected is an inherent quality of ours. We’re always connected and that connection is never dependent on how we feel. It’s not even dependent on our circumstances in any given moment.

This is a powerful reminder for me that two things are always true.

Death is A Step On The Journey, Not The End of It

The thought of death can bring about many uncomfortable feelings including sadness and grief. Yet, even death can’t prevent how connected we are to each other. We still get to close our eyes and see, talk to, laugh with, learn from, and love our family and friends. We’re still not alone when others aren’t physically present. They are with us emotionally and spiritually and that can never be taken away. The loving connection we create with others need not be dependent on their physical presence and when we accept this as true it takes some of the edge off of those uncomfortable thoughts and feelings.

 Feelings Should Shine A Little Light But Not Be The Source of Our Light

It was important that a little light shone on the sadness and grief when I thought about us not being together. That sadness and grief reminded me of how deeply I love Olivia and how much I enJOY the time we have together. Yet, if those feelings become the source of my light I turn into that sadness and grief. If that happened, it would be easy to see how I could spend days moping around, “acting” depressed, and seeing the world around me as grim.

A powerful food shopping experience indeed and I certainly left the store with more than just some groceries! What I did leave with was a cart full of love. She may not quite know it right now but she helped me to see just how powerful feelings can be for us. She also reminded me that we are all connected, all the time, even when we don’t feel like we are.

I have a lot to learn from my children and in many ways they are more connected to their own truth than I am to mine. Looking into their eyes I’m reminded of how deeply I love them and how connected we really are. I’m also reminded that this is a connection we all share and that feeling alone is just a feeling. We’re always connected.

With Gratitude and Appreciation,

Josh_Sig

 

 

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Jul 082013
 

Wholeness_Butterfly

For most of my life I didn’t even know what living in the present (Now) meant or that I wasn’t even doing so. I was so conditioned to respond to life that I wasn’t aware of what was happening inside of me. It seems all most of my focus was either on what was happening next or on what just happened to me. Whether it was thinking about the person who cut me off on the road 20 minutes ago or worrying about something I needed to do later in the day, I was rarely present.

Is your attention (thoughts and feelings) on something that has already occurred or hasn’t occurred yet?

Feelings are a great indicator of where we’re spending our time. The vast majority of all fear we experience lives in either the past or in the future. Very little fear is actually present time fear. Unless there is immediate and imminent danger like a bear that’s about to attack us it’s likely not present time fear.

Another common feeling is anxiety which also lives in the future. We’re not anxious about the past because it already happened and we know how that turned out. Nor is it something that’s happening in the Now as we know what’s happening right now. Anxiety lives in the future and the feeling presents itself as we wait to learn the outcome of whatever it is we fear.

Most other uncomfortable and common feelings we experience like depression, overwhelm, (most) anger, worried, helplessness, powerlessness, and hurriedness live in something other than the present time. Once we’re aware of the feelings we’re experiencing it’s a lot easier to know where our attention is being placed.

Aside from experiencing long-lasting uncomfortable feelings living in the past or the future has awful side effects. It causes us to lose focus of what’s happening in our lives right now. It causes us to forget or at the very least mitigate our inherent qualities (where true inner power lives). We naturally constrict as a result of living in anything but the Now and that only keeps us small.

All of our true power is found in present time awareness. This is where we’re able to use healthy boundaries, not be overcome by our feelings, and live in gratitude, kindness, compassion, and love. This is also where we can make decisions that are based on honesty, courage, strength, vulnerability, and power.

When we’re living in the past or the future, we’re sucked in to the power of those feelings we’re experiencing. Those feelings then become the driving force behind our decisions. So once we’re aware that we’ve left present time awareness what do we do? More importantly how do we return to present time living/awareness?

Awareness

Everything begins with awareness. I compare identifying our feelings to that of a Sommelier. Most people can tell you if a wine tastes sweet, bitter, or fruity. However, a Sommelier will tell you there’s mushroom, dried fig, apricot, grapefruit, and burnt leaf with a hint of butternut squash. This is how we need to get with our own feelings. We need to become Sommeliers of our emotions.

Instead of using judgement words like “good” or bad” we need to get really specific. Often times we even wind up confusing feelings with thoughts. We’ll say, “I feel that they shouldn’t do that.” They shouldn’t do that is not a feeling, it’s a thought. It’s no wonder so many of us are confused with how we feel when we don’t even know what a feeling is beyond happy, sad, and angry.

The only way we’re going to be aware of the life we live is to really have an understanding of our reality. That reality is defined by the specific thoughts and feelings we have in any given moment. Becoming a Feelings Sommelier is the way to this awareness.

Feelings_Present_or_Past

Process

Having awareness of your feelings is key to determining how you’re going to respond to life. However, once you know what you’re feeling you then need to make a decision about how you’re going to respond. If your feelings resemble those on the left column (see image above) then you’re likely living in the past or the future. There’s probably good reason why you’re experiencing these intense feelings as we all carry unresolved hurts from our past.

There are many different ways to process these unresolved and old feelings. However, for the purposes of this post I’d like to focus instead on learning to use these feelings as a flag for us to refocus our attention. We can accept that these feelings come from unresolved hurts in our past and choose to leave those in the past. We can accept that we are living in this moment and this moment is our life not the past. Making a conscious choice to leave these feelings in the past may not permanently keep them there but the only way to ensure we stay living in the present is to practice doing so.

Refocusing

We became aware that we were having feelings, we determined what kind of feelings they were, and we even processed them to some extent. In order to fully live in the present we’re going to have to make a conscious shift to do so and that shift happens when we refocus. Refocusing takes both mental and physical shifts to occur.

Mentally, we need to shift our thoughts and feelings to the present time. We’ll want to start off by asking a couple of questions. In this moment and about this moment, what are your thoughts? What are your feelings as it pertains to what is happening in this very moment, right now? These are just a couple examples of questions we’ll need to ask ourselves to mentally transition to present time living.

Physically we can make changes as well to refocus our attention on the present. Become aware of your breathing by noticing your breath going in and out. You can’t breathe in the past or in the future. You can only breathe right now! Notice your feet on the ground and that the weight of your body is being held by the ground or the chair you’re sitting in. Often times when we’re stuck in past or future thinking our eyes are fixed on one thing. Take some time to look at your surroundings by looking left, right, up, and down. Take a look all around you and notice the colors, the smells, the sounds, and even tastes.

The Power of Now

I talk often about our Inherent Nature and the qualities that make us who we are. These qualities can only be expressed in the present time. You are strong, courageous, intelligent, powerful, and magnificent. These are just a few of the many qualities that make you whole. Living in the Now allows you the opportunity to tap into each and every one of these qualities and more.

Only in present time living is our full power truly available and expressed whether we’re with our partners, our children, at work, with our friends, family, or anywhere in between. If you’re anything like me you already know what living a good part of your life focused in the past or the future looks like. Yet, all the things we want fulfilled in our life start with present time awareness and living. I’m in no way perfect in living my life in the present. Yet that doesn’t mean we can’t make a conscious effort to do so the majority of the time.

Will you join me in this challenge of living the full life that we both deserve? Are you willing to join me in celebrating the mistakes we’re both going to make along the way? How about celebrating the successes, even the small ones, we’ll both make as well? If so, then I invite you to try this on this week. I’m excited to hear your thoughts and to hear what changes you’re seeing in your life.

With Gratitude and Appreciation,

Josh_Sig

 

 

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Jul 032013
 

Self_Love_Friendship

One of our loving readers wrote in last week seeking some advice about friendships. It seems that she’s found herself in one-sided friendships where she’s giving everything of herself without getting much in return. Her friends console in her in times of need, which seems often, but never show any interest in her life. What’s worse is that they only seem available when the drama in their life has gotten too big to resolve on their own. This has left her feeling guilty for wanting to end the friendships. In her search for new friends she finds herself reserved and not trusting of others.

Well, there’s a lot to chew on here but I also think that a lot of us find ourselves in very similar situations. I think this happens when we don’t have healthy Internal boundaries in place. Boundaries aren’t something that’s taught to us as young adults and often times instead of having healthy boundaries in place we wind up forming walls instead. Walls are good because they protect us in the short-term but often times we keep them up in inappropriate situations and they prevent us from living fully.

Boundaries are flexible and not rigid like walls. They move in and out depending on a specific situation we find ourselves in. To see what your boundary looks like imagine yourself standing in a big room with no one or nothing else close to you. Now with your feet spread apart at least shoulder width and your arms outstretched, imagine an invisible bubble coming down over you. It’s big enough that it doesn’t prevent you from putting your arms down or moving your legs and feet in. Now that the bubble is all the way down around you and closed in, put your arms down and put your feet together. Notice how the bubble gets smaller, keeping itself really close and tight to you? If you outstretch your arms and legs again it moves out.

Your boundaries can be with you at all times, you just need to remind yourself of that “Bubble”. Using our boundaries is key to building and sustaining healthy relationships. When others are abusing you by dumping all their stuff on you, you get to notice that your “Bubble” is taking on too much weight and it’s pushing you down. You get to decide that, “this isn’t working out for me”. 

When you spend all your time meeting other people’s needs and forgetting your own that is by definition Self Abandonment. You literally have to leave yourself (leave that safe bubble) to give to others what they can’t give to themselves. In the process your own needs aren’t being met and that is self sabotage. This is why we have so many uncomfortable feelings when we’re constantly giving and not receiving.

So, How do we put our boundaries to work, show up for ourselves AND have healthy friendships all at the same time?

Well, I’m glad you asked! 😉 This is a work in progress and takes a long time to really implement BUT it’s doable and I’ll share an example that you can try on today! Go easy on yourself though and if it doesn’t work just keep practicing.

There are 4 Major Steps to ensuring your boundaries are intact and working well. You want to first Think about what is happening, then determine what Meaning you’re applying to that thought, followed by what Feelings are produced, and then what your Response is to the situation.

So, if we use the example we first talked about regarding these unhealthy friendships, it might look like this:

Thought

My friends are always coming to me for support but never provide any in return. Okay, so this is just a straight forward thought. Notice how there’s no judgement in here we’re simply observing the situation. This is a true statement based on what’s happening, right?

Meaning

I am not good enough, important enough, or lovable enough. If I were, they would show me that they care about me, value what I bring to the relationship, and show me appreciation.

Feelings

As a result of the Meaning applied to the Thought I’m going to Feel guilty, sad, depressed, anxious, frustrated, angry, and maybe even ashamed. The feelings here are directly tied to the meaning applied to the thought.

Response

Because I don’t believe I’m Lovable, Worthy of good friendships, or Important I’m going to stay the course and hope that my friends will come around. I can’t leave them because I’ll be left alone. If I attempt to create new friendships they will likely do the same thing so I need to protect myself. I am not safe or deserving enough to have the friendships I want.

When we change the meaning we apply to our thoughts, our feelings and our responses change too! If the Meaning we applied here was that our friends are doing the best they can even in their suffering, and that we are Whole, Important, and Enough then our feelings and responses begin to change. The meaning has now become about them and not about us. This is about their suffering and their pain and not about our self worth as a person or a friend. We still might feel sadness and anger but we likely won’t feel anxious, depressed, and certainly not ashamed.

Our response to the situation would be different as well, if we were truly grounded in our Wholeness. With good use of boundaries we would let our friends know that we’re not in a place to hear about their troubles (all the time). We would let our friends know when a good time for them to share with us would be and not just on their own terms. We would provide a space for them to share without holding ourselves responsible for their feelings or for fixing their situation.

More importantly we would acknowledge that the loving attention, acceptance, allowance, affection, and appreciation isn’t being fulfilled in this friendship. Believing that we are Enough, that we Matter, and that we are Lovable we would ask our friends for what we need. If our friends can’t give us what we need in return then 2 things are happening.

1. We are still loving ourselves simply by asking for what we need. Even though, they can’t give us what we need (love), it’s still loving of ourselves to ask for it. This should be a reminder of how Enough, Important, and Lovable you are.

2. We need to find new friends. When we accept our Authentic Nature we’re also accepting that we are safe and connected. That means even though it can feel scary to  find new friends we’re not going to be alone. It also means that we get to accept our vulnerability. Our friends can hurt us and let us down (we’re vulnerable) but we can also ask for what we need and get it from other places (we’re strong, courageous, lovable).

Loving ourselves means that we get to use healthy boundaries. It means we get to accept our goodness EVEN when we feel sad, alone, angry, or frustrated. It means that we get to ask for what we need without feeling ashamed. It means we get to tell those closest to us when something isn’t working out. It means we get to form new friendships and sit in our vulnerability accepting our wholeness. It means we get to love on others so much more because loving ourselves is the starting place.

I suppose this is what it all boils down to. If you want to accept and allow the love you deserve from others more – Love Yourself First. Love isn’t a feeling here, it’s an act. Give yourself the attention you seek. Notice yourself and check in with what’s going on inside. Give yourself the affection you seek. Think lovingly of yourself while being gentle and forgiving.

Give yourself the acceptance you seek. Accept your goodness and that you are enough. Give yourself the allowance you seek. Allow yourself to express your uniqueness and to ask for what you need. Give yourself the appreciation you seek. Appreciate all of those wonderful qualities about yourself and don’t forget the boundaries!

The most Loving thing you can do for anyone in the Universe is to Love yourself.

With Gratitude and Appreciation,

Josh_Sig

 

 

If you’d like to write in about a current situation you’re in please email me directly at josh@isimply.am.

 

Want to live the BEST version of YOU!? Take the FREE 5 Day Self Love Challenge and start living the life you want today!

 

Jul 012013
 

gratitude

Illustration credit with thanks to Molly Hahn & Buddhadoodles.com

Anger is a feeling we’re all too familiar with. Unfortunately, for many of us that anger turns into the form of name calling, yelling, hitting or worse. That of course is abuse and not anger. Anger can actually be an empowering feeling in many ways as it’s simply letting you know that you don’t like something. Having said that, I don’t think either one of us want to walk around feeling angry all day.

After all, who wants to be reminded that they don’t like something all the time?

Instead the path to a life lived with more happiness and less anger is found in gratitude. But making that jump from anger to gratitude can be daunting and met with a lot of resistance. What if there were some simple steps we could take to get us there? I think there are some and I want to share them with you.

Last week I was invited to speak to a group of people with a friend of mine. It was kind of a last minute request and I felt both excited and nervous about it. I did my best to prepare and even recall mentioning to my wife the morning of the presentation that I was feeling nervous.

My friend and I didn’t have much time to collaborate about how the presentation would go and we only had about an hour to do it. We both have a lot of respect and trust in each other and agreed that we would “wing it”. After all, we both knew the material and it was only the delivery that we hadn’t coordinated.

My friend was handed “the mic” to start off the presentation and I sat closely by just a few feet away. Well the entire hour went by and while my friend did a great job presenting, he was the only one who did so. I never had an opportunity or an invitation to share in the presentation. I suppose we can chalk part of that up to the fact that we didn’t coordinate very well but it was beyond that.

I sat there feeling angry, disappointed, and frustrated. Even worse, I had all kinds of thoughts in my mind. Thoughts like, “he thinks I can’t do this” or “he’s not responsible” or “I’m not going to have an opportunity for others to hear me”. While I sat there in all of my thoughts and feelings I knew the only thing I could do was to be aware of them.

I didn’t want my feelings to define me or my friend and I certainly didn’t want them to be responsible for my actions.

My friend and I had plans to meet after the presentation for a long talk. However, in those moments while he was speaking the only thing I wanted to do was leave. I knew that isolating and not sharing my feelings were not going to lead me in the direction I wanted to be in. So instead I followed the following 5 steps.

Become Aware
As I mentioned, I knew I had to notice what was going on or I wouldn’t be able to make any choices. After all, the first step to making any change is awareness. Sitting in that awareness can be the challenging part of this. I had to sit there feeling my feelings while being aware of my thoughts, all while doing my best to not judge any of them! There was a bit of a struggle trying to figure out what was going on in my head and in my heart as I experience these intense sensations. However, finding out what I’m working with is key to me moving forward.

Stop the Judgment
Judging our thoughts and feelings has all kinds of ramifications and none of which are healthy. Often times we mitigate our feelings by judging them. We decide we shouldn’t feel angry or sad because others have it worse or because the issue isn’t that big a deal. Our thoughts move from not liking something to thinking we are “less than”. As I was sitting there I started having thoughts that my not having an opportunity to speak was personal. I had thoughts that I wasn’t good enough. In those moments I was judging myself and my friend. As awareness set in I knew I had to reserve the judgment. I sat there literally telling myself in my head, “I am good enough”. I said this about 3 times to make sure that the thoughts and feelings I was having were me not liking the situation and not about me not being a good person. When we go from not thinking well about a situation to not thinking well about ourselves or others we’re always in judgment mode.

Tell Your Truth
I did not want to tell my friend how I was feeling or what I was thinking. In fact, I wanted to immediately leave after the presentation and not meet as we had previously planned. Telling others I don’t like something has always been a struggle for me. However, I knew that the only appropriate response was to share my truth in a loving, authentic, and expressive way. So I told my friend how I was feeling and what I thought. He was able to share with me what happened for him and even offered me an apology. It felt so empowering to express my strength, courage, honesty, and openness in this way.

See The Goodness
We’re taught from a very young age to confuse who we are with how we feel. It’s been a struggle to reverse this but it needs to be done if we’re going to live the fulfilling lives we so desire. I had to tell my friend that while I was feeling angry, disappointed, and frustrated I still saw his goodness as well as my own. I get to be whole and so do you EVEN when I experience uncomfortable feelings. I was honoring my feelings AND honoring my friend all at the same time!

This is a completely new concept for most of us. Most of us think that if I’m pissed off at you then you must be a jerk. If I’m happy with you then you’re a great person. This is not how it works. People (ourselves included) are not defined by how we feel! That means I get to be mad at you for something you did (that I didn’t like) and still see that you are inherently a good person. Likewise, I can be angry at myself for something I did and still see that I am inherently a good person. This one step is so crucial to our success as we walk our own paths to authentic living.

Look For the Gifts
I knew that I didn’t just go through all those uncomfortable feelings, miss out on presenting, and have an awkward conversation with a friend all for nothing. What were the gifts of this experience? Looking for the gifts in situations like this is how we allow life to unfold naturally. I wound up finding a couple of gifts from this situation. Ultimately my friend and I sat down for an hour and a half and had a wonderful conversation about life. I learned things about him and he did about me. That conversation wouldn’t have taken place had I left after the presentation. I also had the gift of seeing the goodness in myself and in him. That’s not something I did most of my life. I saw people in black and white. They were either nice or a jerk. Other people became responsible for my feelings which turned me into a victim. Possibly worst of all, I took things personally which only affirmed my own false beliefs about not being good enough. All these were now gifts as I didn’t take the incident personally, I owned my feelings, I expressed them openly and honestly, and I showed up for myself.

This might sound like a cumbersome process. At first, it’s completely cumbersome and why shouldn’t it be? Most of the time we get angry, blame someone else, isolate in the form of abusive behavior or by disconnecting, and ultimately remind ourselves that we aren’t enough. The anger subsides but we’re still left with that thought that we’re not enough. This thought carries us throughout our lives and manifests in ways that are so damaging.

The good news is that while these 5 steps might seem cumbersome today, after time they do get easier. What is automatic for you today when you feel angry will turn to this process as the new “automatic”. Eventually, this will flow so naturally for you that you’ll process your uncomfortable feelings in a matter of minutes instead of hours or even days.

So what do you think? Do you think it’s possible to turn anger into gratitude? Can you find the gifts in your uncomfortable feelings? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

With Gratitude and Appreciation,

Josh_Sig

 

 

Want to live the BEST version of YOU!? Take the FREE 5 Day Self Love Challenge and start living the life you want today!

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