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Saturday, October 31 2009
There's a certain smell to the Pacific Northwest that's totally different than Ohio.  It's the scent of pine, rotting leaves, ferns, and wet forest floor. 

This morning I struck out on my own to explore a nearby hiking path.  I started up the path with iPhone earbuds in my ears listening to Viktor Frankl's, Man Search for Meaning, until I realized what I was doing.

I was walking through one of the most beautiful forests in Washington State with my mind somewhere else!

The earbuds came out of my ears.  The iPhone was zipped safely in my pocket.  For a moment I stood in the forest listening, being present to the smell, the feel, and the sight of where my feet were; the beauty of the moment.

The rest of the hike was spent in silence in walking meditation.  If thoughts threatened to invade my mind, relentless worms, I focused on the next foot step or my breathing or counting.  There was no fleeting happiness; only a deep unshakeable peace.

How could you find peace today?  Where and when could you turn off the noise around you and within you?
Friday, October 30 2009
Have you ever had your heart set on something and at the last minute it didn't manifest?  Usually when that happens all the feelings of hopelessness and disappointment flood into our being.  We feel let down.  It's only natural.  It's how long we stay in those feelings that determine whether the experience will be the gravity that brings us down or the springboard for new spiritual growth.  How can we ensure the experience will kick us up and not down?

By changing our perspective.

When we become connected to the larger good in the Universe and live our lives by Universal Law, we develop faith.  Disappointment loses its power over us because we can trust that whatever is happening is for our best and highest good.  We cannot reach this level of faith and trust; however, by judging and criticizing others involved.  That only brings us down further.  It's is totally letting go of our expectations and falling into the open arms of the Universe that we can turn disappointment into growth.

Recently, I thought I was going to another city to do a group coaching session.  The person who was coordinating the event called a week before the date to cancel it.  The disappointment I felt was unbelievable.  After hanging up the telephone, it took me a few hours to turn around my perspective.  It took a lot of self talk about how it wasn't meant to be.  I was being saved from something and that something in my better interest would come along.  And maybe it wasn't even about me. Maybe I was supposed to go somewhere else, do something else, and be with someone else.  All that self-talk didn't immediately change my feelings but it was a step in the right direction.

I chose not to go to that city at all which disappointed someone else.  Instead I flew to Seattle to visit friends.

Yesterday I boarded a plane to Seattle.  The first flight of the journey from Columbus to Dallas was delayed by storms for over an hour.  While sitting in the waiting area, a woman and man began discussing the delayed flight.  The woman turned to me inviting me to commiserate with them. 

I denied the invitation and said, " I would rather be delayed and have a safe flight." 

The man continued to talk about the storm system and that "they" could fly around it; that it was moving north so the flight wouldn't be through the storms.  He had been watching the radar.

"I trust they are the experts and know more about the weather than I do,"  I said.  He didn't talk to me anymore.

The woman mentioned she couldn't decide whether to wait at the airport or stay another night in Columbus.  I suggested she think about it and do whatever felt best.  Within moments that woman and I were in a conversation that lasted over an hour. 

Silently I thought, "Maybe it's not even about my disappointment, the canceled workshop, or my Chicago friend's disappointment.  Maybe everything changed so I could be right here, right now for this woman."

Later while on board the plane, I learned a new phrase - bumpy clouds - a kind term for turbulence.  Sitting next to me was a young woman and her mother.  The young woman clutched her mother's hand in fear during the bumpy ride.  After the flight smoothed out the young woman asked the flight attendant if she had experienced a lot of turbulence during flights.

The flight attendant responded, "I look it as an amusement park ride.  Amusement park rides are ten times more bumpy than what we just experienced."  Then gently the fight attendant said gently, "It's not our time; not our day."

For whatever reason I did not go to that other city, I did not conduct a workshop, I was disappointed, and I disappointed someone else.  Yet because of all those "disappointments", I was in the right place at the right time to help someone in the airport waiting area and I witnessed the simple miracle of profound kindness.  More will be revealed.

How can you change your mind about a disappointing experience to use it for your personal growth?  How can you keep your eyes open to the lessons and miracles that will come as a result of your not getting what you want?
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Friday, October 23 2009

Make the best of it. When you make the best of whatever you're focused upon, your future will be better than your now. If each moment you're making the best of what-is, no matter what it is, you make the best of it; make the best of it; make the best of it—your future just gets better and better and better, and better.

--- Abraham

Excerpted from the workshop in Boulder, CO on Saturday, June 7th, 2003 #236

Thursday, October 22 2009
Are you a victim of obsessive thinking after the break-up of a relationship?  Recovery is on its way because the first step is the desire to be free!

Obsessive Thinking

Obsessive thinking is repeatedly falling into a pattern of thought that creates feelings of anxiety, depression and despair.  It would be great if the obsessive thoughts were positive and life affirming but usually they're not, particularly after the break-up of a relationship.  What causes it?  What can you do about it?

Science suggests a couple of reasons for obsessive thinking:  1)  seratonin levels as a possible cause for obsessive compulsive disorder; and 2) the Hebbian theory - neurons that fire together wire together.  Neuronets of thought form in the brain and thoughts will take the path of list resistance - the rut of obsessive thinking. 

I think also that we can become dependent on stress hormones like cortisol and epinephrine that are released with negative thoughts.  It's like being addicted to our bodies' own internal drug store.  

The best way to describe obsessive thinking is like an addiction.  You have a thought, the thought takes a thought, and before you know it you're emotionally intoxicated.  Some times the slightest reminder of the relationship can trigger the phenomenon of craving for the other person much like an alcoholic's craving for alcohol.  As much as you want to feel better, the craving wins and you start obsessively thinking again.  You feel powerless to stop them.

Recovery Solutions

The first three method below are adapted from 12 Step recovery programs.
  • Admit your powerlessness over the other person, the relationship, obsessive thinking and that your obsession is hurting your life.
  • Ask to be restore to sanity.  It doesn't matter if you believe in God, g.o.d - good orderly direction, Source Energy, or the Higgs Boson.  It's the connection that comes with asking that's important.
  • Turn over your will for your life, the other person, and the relationship to that same Higher Power.*
  • Find a support person or group who has the solution.
  • Cognitive therapy exercises to get your mind in the present moment. i.e., "There's a blue car in front of me.  A road sign that says 35 mph.  A green tree . . . ."
  • EFT - Emotional Freedom Technique, an energy psychology method that releases negative emotion that's stored in the body's energy system.
Personal Experience

I like to laugh now and say, "If it's not worth obsessing about, it's not worth thinking about!"  That's years after practicing all of the solutions outlined above and finally finding some relief from my own obsessive thinking.

The break-up of a seven year relationship caused me to be in the deepest pain that I had ever felt.  Every day was filled with wasted hours of reliving past events with my partner, fearing future events, having conversations with him in my mind - I was miserable!  After practicing the first five methods* outlined above a break came.

It was summer time.  I had just parked my car and was walking down the sidewalk.  I was wearing a black and white sheath dress from The Limited.  The sun was shining, the sky was blue, and my mind was clear, free from obsession.  At that moment I thought, "Is this all I get?  He gets to have a new girlfriend, a . . . . "  That thought took a thought and my thinking was once again obsessed with him.  The emotional pain returned immediately.  That brief moment of freedom was serenity but it was so foreign to me that once again I defaulted to pain.  Who would think that peace of mind could feel so boring?

Through the years I've created a number of relationships or situations about which to obsess; however, I now have the tools to return cope and restore my peace of mind.

You Can’t Stop Thinking

You can’t not think.  See, Don't Think About the Problem.  What you can do is turn your thoughts to something that feels better.  That simple action begins breaking the neuronet of obsessive thinking about the relationship and can build new networks of thought.  Where can you turn you attention that feels better?  A funny movie?  Happy music?  Gardening? Taking a walk in the sunshine?  Dinner with friends?  Exercise?  Taking a class?  What other methods do you use to break the cycle of obsessive thinking?

What other methods do you use to break the cycle of obsessive thinking?

* EFT was added to my repertoire of tools two or three years ago.

More Resources

Photo by lorda on flickr.com
 
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Tuesday, October 20 2009
THIS WORKSHOP HAS BEEN CANCELED.

I'm so excited to be introducing a new workshop for women called Money, Men & Madness, How to Recover Your Personal Power during Times of Change or Crisis! at Panera Bread, 1211 Half Day Rd., Brannockburn, Illinois on Oct. 29, 2009, 7:00-9:00 p.m.

Register online.  The first 5 people to sign-up, you'll receive a beautiful Enigma Wellness, Life Recovery Journal.  All registrants will be entered in a drawing for a Gift Basket valued at over $100.00.

In a 2 hour intensive, group coaching session, we're going to talk about what's keeping you up at night and what to do about it.  You'll discover where you give your power away to other people, places & things and how to stop it.  Find out how to tap into the hidden resources that we all have within us to use those moments when you've been laid out by life as a springboard for your personal growth.  Stop those racing thoughts in your head, conversations with people not with you, and start focusing your energy toward your goals, dreams, and desires.

Who should attend?
  • Women who want to change.
  • Women who are awakening.
  • Women who are overwhelmed.
  • Women who want more out of life.
  • Women who are HUNGRY FOR GROWTH.

Is that you or someone you know?  Bring a girlfriend and receive a discount.  Seating is limited so register online now.
 

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Saturday, October 17 2009
Have you experienced one of those what the @#$%^& moments that made you feel like emotional road kill?  What did you do with it?

This morning I was thinking about those moments in life that leave us laid out emotionally and what to do with them.  

Have you ever stepped in dog poop?  Imagine you're walking through the green grass of a city park.  After a few steps you begin smell something.  Soon you realize you stepped in dog poop.  Hopefully, you immediately try to clean the dog poop off the bottom of your shoe to get rid of the smell.  You may even go home and leave your shoes outside so that you can scrub them later with soap and water.  You surely don't wear them into the house to track dog poop all over your house.  That would make your whole house smell!

You have a choice to let go of life's crappy moments or let it stink up your life. 

What do you think?  How do you shake off those WTF moments in life?
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Wednesday, October 14 2009

Michele:  One thing I do to practice with intention, I learned from Jim.  I was watching him give a speech, which he loves doing, and he came to a point in the speech where he was at a loss for words.

I panicked, watching him.  

Then he paused and said the most beautiful sentence; as if he had worked on it for days.  It just popped out of him.  Afterwards I asked him . . .

Pixie:  Inspired.

Michele:  “Did you realize you had nothing to say?”

Jim said, “Of course, that always happens during a speech.

I said, “that would make me panic.”

“Oh no,” he said.  “That’s when I decide, ‘Oh now I’ve got to get myself out of this.  I have to come up with something REALLY great to say and I do.’”
 
That’s when it hit me - you can be smart on purpose!

Pixie:   I love that!  You said Jim and I give speeches the same way - we get up and talk.  For me it's a state of flow.

Michele:  Right. Yes, Jim experiences it that way as well.

Pixie:  If I have nothing to say, I don’t panic.  I trust and wait.  The next thing just comes to me and flows out of my mouth.

Michele:  Well, Jim decides NOW is the moment he’s going to say something great.  He makes himself smarter on purpose.   So I started practicing that.  I’d get defensive or stuck and pause.  I’d think, "Okay, NOW, GO SMART = LEVEL 10!"  And it worked!!!

Pixie:  That's so you.

Michele:  That was such a huge revelation!  I can decide to make my IQ go up in a moment!
 
Pixie:  I think we’re saying the same thing.  I practice trusting that I can tap into a Higher Intelligence and that it’s always available to me like Jung’s collective unconscious.  I think it’s a matter of faith that comes from disciplined practice with that intention.


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Tuesday, October 13 2009

Michele:  The theme of pausing keeps coming up; slowing things down.

Pixie:  Yes, it’s important.

Michele:  Pausing must be crucial to staying in the adult ego state.  Rushing must be associated with regression or neurosis.

I was just thinking when I play really good tennis players that they always look like they are going slower than me.  If I could slow down I would get better.

Pixie:  John says that Larry Bird saw the plays on the basketball court in slow motion.


Michele:  Yes, it's a paradox because you must be fast to play tennis, yet the better players look like they are going in slow motion between points.  Sometimes during the point.

Pixie:  I try to slow things down on the soccer field so I can stay calm and control the ball; not do anything dumb on purpose. :)
 
It's like the Bionic Woman.

Michele:  Right.

Pixie:  Slow motion means fast. 

Michele:  It gives off this calm vibe which is intimidating. They calmly beat me and I quickly lose.

Pixie:  While being supervised, I coached someone who talked 100 miles a minute; rattled off things.  She felt scattered and frantic.  Without knowing it, I slowed way down and picked one thing out of ten to repeat.  It was grounding for her.

At the end of the session, the supervisor commented on the subtlety of that coaching technique.  The student said that it threw her off for a moment which is what I wanted to do - just shift the rhythm a little so she had a chance to slow down and think clearly.

Michele:  I’ve noticed when you are in coaching mode that you go very slow which has a good effect on me; not slow with the ideas but slow like a hypnotist.

Pixie:  Let’s take an example from Bootcamp of how you were attacked and slowed things down.

Michele:  At Bootcamp I get attacked all the time, and there have been hundreds of Bootcamps, so I get a lot of practice.  Once I was at an engineering company and one of the senior people was grouchy about the whole Bootcamp thing.

There is a moment when we start each day and I ask if there are any questions.  He started on a rant about how “this is all pointless and wrong.”

Pixie:  What did you do?

Michele:  I paused when he was done.  I looked at him, smiled, and said, “Ok, will you just pretend this works for now, and at the end of the week if it doesn’t work, you can throw it all out?”

Pixie:  What was his response?

Michele:  It was something dramatic.  He must have relaxed or been surprised because I remember members of his team coming up to me and just being amazed that I made this person speechless.  I guess it was unusual.


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Monday, October 12 2009
Have you ever been verbally attacked and found yourself at a loss for words? Or have you become defensive and found yourself drawn into a verbal volley that left you drained emotionally and energetically?

Every verbal attack is an attempt to bring down your energy level, a projection, an invitation to an argument, or a defense to something you have said. You would be surprised how little it really has to do with you. Learning strategies to neutralize a verbal attack without harming yourself or your attacker empowers you in even the most difficult situations.

Coping Strategies

Although your feelings may escalate to red-alert, using the following strategies can avert a power driven argument that can harm a relationship for a day, a month and sometimes even longer:
  •   Okay.
  •   You may be right.
  •   Thank you for sharing that with me.
These short one sentence responses may appear to be giving in or agreeing with the aggressor, yet are they really? "Okay" is really only an acknowledgment that you received the message. "Thank you for sharing that with me" is also a verbal response that you heard what was said. You are not agreeing to anything, simply acknowledging that a message was delivered. Finally "you may be right" is also a neutral response with an unspoken "and you may be wrong." All three of these responses are neutral. You neither agree nor disagree. You are neither admitting guilt or innocence.

The Key
The key to using these strategies effectively is to say nothing more. An explanation is a defensive statement. An accusation is aggression. Any further discussion draws you deeper into conflict. This doesn't mean that you aren't going to feel defensive, hurt, angry, and afraid. It simply means that you will be coping with the attack rather than participating in conflict.

Personal Experience

Several years ago, I participated in a spiritual group that was attended by young and old, the experienced and novice. The group read a book together and then each person made a comment based on personal experience.

After the meeting, one of the older members of the group verbally attacked me and my comment. He called my name as I was walking to my car. After the first sarcastic, critical remark, I refused the invitation to fight and calmly said, "You may be right."

"Yes, I'm right," the attacker affirmed, slapping the book he held in one hand into the palm of the other. "It says here . . . " His companion stood beside him embarrassed and unsure about what to do.

My response to every verbal jab was either "you may be right" or "thanks for sharing that with me." Without my participation, it was hard to continue the argument. The energy of the attacker fizzled out within a few short minutes. The man did his best to look pleased with himself for making his point. I got in my car and left with my heart in my throat and my stomach in knots but I left knowing that in truth, I saved face by remaining neutral and the other person had only made himself look bad.

It wasn't until I learned and practiced strategies to defend against a verbal attack that I was able to choose to avoid conflict without running from it. Only then could I could learn to have compassion and curiosity for my attacker.

What opportunities can you see to use these simple strategies to remain neutral when you feel you're being verbally attacked?
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Saturday, October 10 2009

If you've got somebody's aspects in your experience that you don't like, there's only one reason they're there. You keep evoking them with your attention to them. Without knowing about Law of Attraction, you have -- through your old habit of observation -- achieved vibrational harmony with the parts of them that you do not like, and you keep summoning those parts from them by your constant vibrational offering of them.

--- Abraham

Excerpted from the workshop in San Francisco, CA on Saturday, January 1st, 2000 #223

Our Love,
Jerry and Esther

Friday, October 09 2009


Pixie:  Last night we talked about stepping into the attacker to see things from her perspective.  Do you think verbal attacks are different than being physically attacked?

Michele: Well, I can think of at least one type of physical attack that is different than I've ever experienced verbally or emotionally where I went into the flow state like you talked about.  I just pushed through something physical even though I felt like I was going to die.  I was playing flag football and thought these big college girls were going to kill me.  I just ran through them.

Pixie:  Sorry, I'm smiling at the visual.

Michele:  I’ve never had that level of experience under verbal attack. 

Pixie:  I experience that when I'm playing soccer.  Sometimes there's no thinking - just physical reflex, somatic memory. Primal.

Michele:  Right, that's what it was like. It scared me to find out that I was like that. I realized I could be a soldier.  I thought that would be impossible until that moment.

Pixie:  I think that happens when we're in a true state of crisis like an auto accident.  In experiences like that, we may not feel the fear until later.  Sometimes people tremble and get emotional with the drop in adenalin.

Michele:  I think I'm good in a crisis.  I have experienced that "in-a-crisis" feeling in verbal situations; just nothing close to that physical test.

Pixie:  The stress response is somewhat different physically.

Michele:  I think maybe it is the same, just much stronger and more primitive (as you point out) when one physically senses danger.  For me, in that one case, it was like some part of my brain engaged that I'd never used before.

Pixie:  Exactly.  Under verbal attack, my chest can get tight, my stomach goes into knots and yet, I may not go into auto-pilot for survival because so much of it is in my mind.

Michele:  I find that most people have a pretty low threshold for stress in verbal situations.  They go into a stress response with very little stimulation.

Pixie:  So how would you teach someone to step into the attack under verbal attack?
 
Michele:  I learned it by practicing; so that’s the best advice I have - practice.

Pixie:  We've both talked about “pausing” if we’re under verbal attack.  That’s important.

Michele:  Yes, I always wait a beat.  I think when I started practicing I used to pause for a few seconds.  Now, it’s usually just a beat because I have more practice.

Pixie:  I talk about pausing in a difficult conversation and asking for Higher Guidance to put spiritual space between you and the other person. 

Michele:  The idea of silence is a good one.  I like it.  It says, “I'm not going to fight with you.  I’m going to be smart.”

Pixie:  I actually used to put my ex-husband on hold for a moment before engaging.

Michele:  That's a great example. Under verbal attack, I pause and then choose from my menu of strategies.

 The strategies include:

  • be curious
  • ask the person for help
  • show vulnerability
  • interrupt (if you are in a position to interrupt)
  • check out gracefully from the situation
  • do a “Check In” (a  Check In is defined on our website)
Pixie:  So a process for learning to step into a verbal attack rather than avoiding it or fighting back is:
  • pause
  • pick a strategy from your menu
  • practice with intention
Michele:  Next we’ll expand the idea of pausing.

Photo by Takemusu Aikido on Flickr.com


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Thursday, October 08 2009
What fear lies beneath your fear?

In this post, we're addressing mental and emotional fear, not physical threat to our lives. 

When we are afraid, often we must go deeper within ourselves to discover our true fear.  This point was driven home in the story of a woman who was seeking help with an intense fear of flying.  When she sought help to overcome her fear, the counselor said, "First get clear on what you're afraid of.  You're not afraid of flying.  You're afraid of crashing!"

Often women that I coach about relationships are afraid of losing their current relationship, even if it's bad for them.  When we dig beneath the surface, the fear beneath the fear is that they are afraid no one will ever want them again; they'll be alone for the rest of their lives; and, even deeper is the fear that there is something fundamentally wrong with them and they are unlovable.

There are other fears like being afraid to speak in public, flying, fear of water, fear of intimacy . . . .  In the end I think that we all fear death - either physical death or the death of our ego; the death of core beliefs that we use to create the fabric of our lives.  Think about it, how often have you spent hours, days or months being afraid of an event that when it happened, wasn't all that bad?

Years ago my list of fears included that insane fear of being unlovable and it included bizarre things like driving my car in thunder & lightening driving across long bridges.  When I thoroughly investigated my fear and became more self-aware, those things were not my true fear.  Beneath that fear was a fear of dying.  Even deeper was a fear of going to hell because I thought I had been so bad. 

Gradually by asking that my fear be removed and taking actions contrary to the way I felt, the fear left me. 

One day I was driving home from work in rush hour traffic during a torrential downpour.  Traffic was moving slow.  Visibility was limited.  The sound of the rain was deafening.  Driving under a freeway overpass there was a momentary hush as if someone had switched off the rain for a moment.  The moment was surreal.  I smiled.  Driving into the pounding rain again, I realized that I wasn't afraid.  The fear of driving through a storm had left me. 

You would think that when a feeling of fear that intense leaves it would make a loud popping sound or something!  Instead it left quietly.  It was gone before I knew it. 

How then do we get over fear? 
  • Identify what your afraid of.
  • Find the deeper fear within you.
  • Ask that it be removed.
  • Be willing to let it go.
What would you do today if you weren't afraid?
 
Tuesday, October 06 2009
Reader's Topic

Will you blog about being curious about and stepping in to what we're afraid of and how that's better than trying to avoid it? I've been working on an Aikido move called irimi which is literally "stepping into" an attack, and then seeing things from the attacker's perspective. I'd like to hear your thoughts!


Stepping into Fear

Michele and I discussed this briefly last night because it's such an interesting concept. Through her work with the Core Protocols and in Bootcamps, Michele has devised a number of strategies to step into an attack during a Bootcamp.  As we were discussing the issue of fear, we talked about the difference between fear generated by a verbal attack and fear related to physical safety.  First we will discuss fear related to our physical safety.

Our physical bodies are designed with a wonderful survival mechanism known as the sympathetic nervous system.  When we feel threatened the sympathetic nervous system kicks into action without our voluntary thought.  Our eyes dilate to allow in more light.  Our airways dilate to allow more oxygen to flow.  Our heart rate increases.  Physical systems that we don't need like our digestive system shut down to allow blood & oxygen to flow to our muscles.  Adrenaline floods our system.  Our physiology becomes poised and ready to either fight or take flight.

In this case your body, mind, and spirit must be in sync to "step into the attack."  Logically your mind says, "I've read the manual, listened to the instructor, and practiced the moves."  Then when the time comes, still you hesitate.  You feel fear.  The mind says, "Step into the attack" and your body says, "Are you crazy?!  We're going to get hurt!"  Your body balks even though your mind says "go!"
 
In the case of physical fear it's a leap from fear to curiosity.  It is through the discipline of mind and spirit through training and practice that an athlete or a warrior overcomes fear.  For the athlete it means victory.  For the warrior, it can mean the difference between life and death.  During the battle there is no thought or feeling there is only a state similar to the state of "flow."

Avoiding That Which We Fear

Energetically/spiritually there is no avoiding that which we fear.  The more we fear something, the more we bring it right to our doorstep to teach us whatever lessons in courage, and faith that we need to learn.  It is only through faith that we have courage in the face of fear.  If we didn't have fear, we would need no courage, no faith.  Can you acknowledge and embrace the ultimate utility of fear?

Strategies

Here are some strategies to help you step into the attack:

  • Ask that the fear be removed.
  • Breathe & center, quieting the mind.
  • Practice & train.  Practice & train.
  • Reframe your belief.  In Aikido (from what I understand) you will be stepping into the attack to not only see things from the attackers perspective and defend yourself but to also protect the attacker from harm.
Personal Experience

My personal experience with a disconnect between my mind and body has been with the recent ACL reconstruction on my left knee.  After weeks of physical therapy, I can do many normal things easily like walking and stairs. I trust that I can walk.  The disconnect comes when my body feels so good that it says, "Let's run across the parking lot."  My head says, "Let's not."  Or when my head says, "Let's run down the hallway," and my body says, "Not yet."  Rather than criticizing myself, I remind myself that is the purpose of physical therapy.

For the most part, I have been avoiding situations that will hurt my knee.  My fear came to my doorstep the other day when I was outside weeding the garden.  I stepped onto a large flat rock and slipped.  My head said, "Your knee is going to give out!  You're crashing!"  My knee held steady; it said, "No, trust me. I'm fine."

Photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/takemusuaikido/ / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0" target="_blank">" target="_blank">Takemusu on Flickr.com.

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Friday, October 02 2009


This post is a continuation of The Courage to Change Bosses.  Michele McCarthy (of The McCarthy Show) and I collaborate on many ideas including the posts for the series Difficult Bosses.  

Pixie:  Last time you suggested we talk about the drama we create as an excuse to change. When we first talked about creating drama, you mentioned that it was a fear of saying "goodbye."


Michele:  Yes, humans, or at least Americans, seem to have trouble with endings and they create drama rather than ending something gracefully.

Pixie:  It would be interesting to find out if other cultures exhibit the same behavior.  

Michele:  I agree. It would be fascinating to know about other cultures that handle endings in a dignified way.

Pixie:  I think we're trained to create that drama from birth.  Have you ever watched a new mother say "goodbye" to her infant.  There is all this drama of hugging, kissing, "I'll miss you", backward glances . . . Then when the child is old enough to exhibit separation anxiety, the drama escalates.  If the mother cannot bring herself to walk out the door and returns to the crying child, the drama continues.

Michele:  I've never thought about the connection to early childhood separations, but I think that's a good insight. I think that is an example of the cultural lack.  In other words, we don't have a cultural mode wherein we teach our children that endings are part of life and how to accomplish them gracefully.  We don't teach by example and we don't teach explicitly.

Pixie:  Exactly, and we infer that happiness without togetherness is wrong.

Michele:  Also, if you think about the behavior around endings, people will focus on the drama.  That's what will get discussed or that's where the attention goes and nobody pops up a level and says, "Wait a minute. I didn't handle ending this well" or, "Boy, she is uncomfortable with saying 'goodbye'."  Instead we stay at the shallow level of "Can you believe he did that?  What a jerk!"  Or we obsess about a breakup and keep almost breaking up or we refuse to fire someone until it's a huge mess.

Pixie:  We have to construct a fable to do what we want to do. I've seen people create illnesses and injuries as excuses to change.  The change needed sometimes is as simple as stopping to rest.

Michele:  Yes, I've seen this too.  I have done that quite a few times actually.

Pixie: Me too!  I remember working like a madman on projects and neglecting my self-care.  Sooner or later I would get sick and be forced to take care of myself.

Michele:  Freud taught that we repress what is uncomfortable or unacceptable and we hide it behind defensive behaviors and thoughts. In this case the unacceptable feelings are around leaving or ending a relationship.

Pixie:  How do we relate this to the courage to change bosses? 


Michele:  When we are unwilling to face an ending, we create the drama to distract us from the unacceptable feelings associated with the ending.  I would say this relates to changing bosses in two ways.  First, if you know at a gut level you are going to be leaving a boss, allow yourself to feel the feelings of the loss. Allow yourself to know that you are going to leave. And secondly, most importantly, commit to yourself to leave gracefully without hurting yourself or others. Ask for help to ensure that you do so in a calm, thoughtful way.

Pixie:  Let's describe a scenario; an example of creating drama as an excuse to change bosses.

Michele:  An example would be that your unconscious has decided you can not tolerate your current boss any longer.  Instead of consciously ending your work with that boss, you create some type of drama.  For instance, you might get sick which forces the boss to fire you or move you to another job.

Pixie:  Or you might sabotage yourself by missing a deadline?  Causing a conflict?

Michele:  Right. You might even set up a scenario where you decide the boss was abusive and you are going to sue him.  That's very common. I had an employee once who did the work assigned but clearly had no passion for it.  He obviously had passion for other work.  So one day he came to me and asked for a raise and then listed all the types of work he didn't want to do for me anymore.  I tried to explain that it was not a rational solution.  I was not going to pay more for less, and he should go work on what he was passionate about. But I think he was afraid to leave the security of the weekly paycheck.  So, I eventually had to fire him.  He was enraged with me, threatened to sue, etc.  That was one of the incidents that made me realize the pattern of drama involved with endings.  It was clear to me he wanted to work at another job but he couldn't just pack up and gracefully say "goodbye." He had to create chaos.

Pixie:  Like the chaos I talked about earlier in the mother/child scenario. I think it's learned behavior.

Michele:  Yes, I felt pressure to be parental in that instance.   It was as if I was expected to be his mother and fund his new career and he was enraged that I wouldn't take care of him anymore.  However, I had no parental feelings towards him, so I just felt frustrated that business wasn't getting taken care of. Time and energy was getting wasted on the drama.

The drama was designed by the employee to create an ending.  It was just a messy design.

Notably, that incident crystallized my initial Boss/Employee ideas.  So it actually was a gift. I was so frustrated by the irrational behavior that I figured out what was bothering me about it. 

Pixie:  It takes courage to know and say what you want without creating chaos.  Most of the time I would leave jobs without drama.  I would give two weeks notice and remain friends with some people later.

Michele:  That's really good and pretty unusual. I leave quietly now, but in the past I've caused my share of drama in business, in love, in friendships.

Leave us your comments.  How have you created drama or chaos around change?  How would you handled an employee's drama?

Let us know what you think by leaving a comment.

Thursday, October 01 2009
How many times have you raced down the road of a new relationship to end up a wreck?

Keep It Under 80 and Watch Out for the Other Guy

The best relationship advice I ever received was meant to be a joke, not advice especially about relationships.  Every time we said goodbye, a friend of mine would say, "Keep it under 80 and watch out for the other guy."

Isn't that great advice for a new relationship?  Keep it under 80.  Don't move in with someone after a month.  Go slow.  Watch out for curves in the journey.  Stay in your lane.

Watch out for the other guy.  This relates to the post about the orange barrels in relationships that warn of rough road ahead.  When love hits like a steam roller, common sense flies out the window.   Even in marriage or other long-term relationships, the road can be rocky during times of constructive growth.

Take a deep breath.  Slow down.  Know yourself and take the time to know the other guy.

Photo courtesy of Double Grande, Flickr.com


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PIXIE STEVENSON, LMP 
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