Tag Archive | philosophy

The Heart of a Friendship

To have a friend and be a friend is what makes life worthwhile. ~Unknown

February is the month of the heart, the time when we celebrate love. We buy chocolate, flowers, jewelry, and greeting cards to profess our undying love to that special someone. But, in all the hoopla of the season, perhaps we forget to honor the affection provided by the people that sustain us and enable us to thrive – our friends.

We hear so much about marriages, committed relationships, and romantic breakups, but I believe we neglect to truly understand the dynamics of what may be the most important relationships in our life – friendships.

Boyfriends come and go, spouses are replaced, children grow up and leave the nest, but our friends will be by our side through it all. If we are blessed, some of them will be with us from childhood until death; and these people know us better than anyone else.

We all have friends. Fate brings friend to friend, then leaves the rest to human nature. We have best friends that stick with us forever, and we have friends that come into our life for a brief period and then go on their way. Whichever role they play, you can be sure they serve a purpose.

According to experts, friendships have a major impact on our health and well-being. Friends help us celebrate good times and provide support during the bad times. As philosopher Aristotle said, “In poverty and other misfortunes of life, true friends are a sure refuge.”

Friends prevent loneliness and increase our sense of belonging and purpose. They boost our happiness and improve our self-confidence. They help us deal with our mistakes.

So … if friendships are so great, why do they cause so much pain?

The word friend is defined as “a relationship of mutual affection between two or more people; a person whom one knows, likes, and trusts.”

We all have a preconceived notion of what a friend should be; we place expectations on relationships based on our needs. But sometimes we use the word “friend” to describe anyone with whom we have contact. We project the intimate bond we desire onto a person where no deep bond exists.

To avoid the pain of an unrequited friendship, it is important to recognize that there are different kinds of relationships and varying degrees of affection attached. When it comes to friendships it’s not one size fits all. Some people are great for Friday night outings. Others are partners for work events. Some people are not willing and/or able to commit to a relationship on a deeper level. And then there are the people who offer unconditional love and trust – they are always there, no matter what. They are the ones by which we set the standards for everyone else. But, they are a rare gift, not the norm.

Each of these relationships has a unique purpose for our life and as such should be valued. Just as a financial expert advises to diversify investments, the same is true in friendships. Invite people into your life that bring different personalities and skills to the table – they will broaden your horizon and enrich your existence. But, to avoid heart break, see each relationship for what it is. Just as you wouldn’t rush into a romantic encounter without some courting, don’t place too many expectations on a friendship without getting to know the person. When you take it slow, you will be able to objectively evaluate the relationship and the role a person will play in your life so you won’t be disappointed.

Even if a friendship doesn’t develop the way you want, acknowledge that you simply have different needs. Treasure the relationship for what it is and release your expectations; value the gifts it offers.

Through the pain and through the triumphs, friendships are the treasure of a life well lived. As Emily Dickinson said, “My friends are my estate,” and I couldn’t agree more.

 

You Are What You Think

“You’re fat!” “You’re stupid!” “You don’t have the right education!” “You’ll never be able to get the promotion!” “No man will ever want you!” “You’re old!” “She doesn’t like you!” “You’re ugly!” “You can’t do anything right!”

Do any of these words sound familiar? While most people would never consider speaking to another with such negative, degrading words, we have no problem saying these things to ourselves. The rant of self-abusive language runs rampant for most on any given day.

It is estimated that the average person has approximately 60,000 thoughts per day, 80% of which are negative (and this is a conservative estimate). Imagine 48,000 negative thoughts running through your mind every day of every week, of every month, of every year – year after year! It’s no wonder we feel beaten up, insecure, fearful, and anxious. No one could survive that abuse unscathed.

You’ve heard the expression, “You are what you eat.” Well, just as important, “You are what you think.” Your thoughts influence your outlook on life, your attitude toward yourself, and they have a profound impact on your physical and emotional health.

So, how can you eliminate negative self-talk, especially when you may not even be aware that it’s happening? The following exercise is designed to help you recognize your thoughts and learn to replace the negative with a more positive, self-affirming thought.

  1. Get a notebook or journal and create four columns on each page. Label the top of each column, “Thought”, “Location”, “Activity”, “New Thought”. For one to two weeks, write down your negative thoughts and where you were and what you were doing at the time. Every time a negative thought comes into your head, write it down. Note where you were at the time and what you were doing. Leave column four blank. If you can’t write down all of your negative thoughts, make a commitment to jot down at least five to 10 per day. Do not evaluate during this period.
  2. Reread your journal after the one to two weeks. Determine what underlying themes or messages are behind your negative thoughts. What were some of the triggers? What activities or people triggered negative thoughts?
  3. Evaluate the validity of the thoughts. Ask yourself if there is any truth to what you’re thinking. Are there things you can change? Which thoughts are garbage that must be deleted?  Now work on deleting them.
  4. Ask yourself how can you change the negative thought to a positive one. Instead of looking at situations in the worst light, try to find the positive aspects and focus on them. For instance, if you worry about the results of a test and start thinking of the negative consequences, such as failing a class, turn it around. Focus on the fact that whether you pass or not, you did your best and learned important information. Avoid thinking about the worst-case scenarios. They usually never happen. Write down the “new thought” in the fourth column.
  5. Monitor your thoughts. When you are thinking negatively, stop yourself as soon as you realize it and replace the negative thought with your “new thought”. Even though negative thoughts will always come up, the perseverance you develop will keep you going and after time the old thoughts will be replaced with the new ones.

To hear this subject and exercise discussed in depth listen to my coaching class with Hay House author, Michelle Phillips: CLICK HERE

Follow Your Intuition…It Knows the Way

Throughout the last four years, my professional life has taken many twists and turns. There are times that I operate by the seat of my pants learning as I go along, praying for the best possible outcome, following my intuition and my heart.

Recently I began to work with a person that was assigned to my company’s account. From the moment I met him, my entire body screamed, “be careful!” There was something about him that told me not to be too trusting. All the warning signs were there – my intuition was on the job.

Now I’m the type of person who wants to trust everyone and I usually give people the benefit of the doubt many, many, many times. I want to believe that others have the same agenda and motives so I push my inner guidance aside.

This person dangled golden opportunities in front of me; he offered me more than I could have imagined – everything I wanted. It would be easy for me to get caught up in his promises. But there was always that nagging feeling inside of me.  Something didn’t add up. There was never a straight answer to my questions, always a tap dance.

After our first meeting, I couldn’t sleep for a few nights. Even though I was excited about what was to come, I felt sick every time I recounted the possible opportunities to my friends. My body tightened and sometimes I actually shook. My nerves were on end.

But because he was answering my prayers (or so I thought at the time), I pushed the warning signs aside and worked with him. I took what he said and turned it into what I wanted to hear, what I wanted him to say.  But there was always that nagging feeling inside of me.

As time passed, he began to request more and more from my company in return for the promised opportunities, which by the way, never materialized. I finally decided to listen to my inner guidance, which was SCREAMING by this time, and I called him out. Once I stopped taking what he said at face value and held my ground, all the promises immediately disappeared. He showed his true colors.

It took months of anxious moments and many sleepless nights before I found the courage to follow, what I knew from the beginning, to be the right direction. I knew all along what was right for me; I just chose not to listen. Thankfully I found the courage.

Does this story sound familiar? How many times do you make something fit the way you want it to while all the time knowing it’s wrong for you?

We all want to believe in others and try to please others, but at what cost? How long can you stay in a dying relationship or in a job that’s making you sick? How many times can you keep saying “yes” while inside you’re screaming “no”?

We all have inner guidance to point us in the right direction. The problem is, more often than not, we don’t listen. It’s not always easy to stand up for what we want – sometimes it seems impossible – but it’s always worth it. The moment I stood up for myself I began to sleep better and feel more relaxed – I could breathe. While I may not have gotten what I wanted at this time, I know something better will come.

Learn to trust yourself. Follow your intuition – it knows the way. You are stronger than you think and wiser than you know.

Never Look Down On Anybody Unless You’re Helping Him Up

Never look down on anybody unless you’re helping him up. ~Jesse Jackson

I’m often amazed at people who feel they are more important than others. Those who believe that their wealth, status, or whatever circumstance they create in their mind, entitles them to special treatment or reverence that others do not receive. These people tend to treat others in a subservient manner.

When we look back at all the people who have lived before us and all that will live after, it’s easy to see that we are nothing more than a dot on the line of humanity, and that each one of us is a part of the line, no greater than another, and reliant on each other. No matter who you are or what you’ve achieved, you’re part of the line, connected to other human beings.

So, if you’re accomplished, successful, wealthy, lucky, intelligent, don’t boast about being better than others or believe you’re above them. Humble yourself and live a life of humility – you’re a dot on the line. Being alive is not about recognizing how important we can become; it’s about using our gifts and blessings to make a difference in the lives of others, to help those to whom we are connected.

For those who feel inferior to others, remember that we are all precious dots – equally precious! We are all gifts to the world and blessed to be alive. This is something many tend to forget. When you recognize that no one is better or more important than you, then you can begin to live fearlessly; any rejection or failure you experience in the larger picture means almost nothing. You have the opportunity to be as happy as you can.

We are all dots and when the dots are connected, a beautiful picture emerges.

Live It, Feel It, Believe It

Napoleon Hill once said, “We become what we think about.”

It’s that time of year again when we sit down, pen and paper in hand and make a list of all the things we resolve to change. When we create our list, we are motivated and sure that this will be the year that we will achieve our goals.

“This year I resolve to lose 20 lbs.” “I will stop smoking.” “I am going to exercise every day.” “I will eat healthy food.”

These are noble decisions and we start off with a bang. But sometimes life gets in the way, and our decisions become our burdens. We slip back into our old patterns and what we set out to accomplish gets pushed to the side. We then feel guilty for not being able to achieve our goals, and thoughts of failure set in.

The problem with our resolutions is that they are usually made in response to something negative, such as a bad habit, or poor physical condition, and it is difficult to change a negative into a positive without a strong commitment and determination. It is much easier to move toward something than away from something.

This year, instead of making your usual resolutions, why not try positive affirmations? An affirmation is a positive statement or declaration of the truth or existence of something. Affirmations psychologically condition through repetitive, consistent self-talk. By repeating a positive affirmation over and over, you train your subconscious mind to turn the thoughts into realities. Make affirmations about yourself that will reinforce your intentions and better prepare you to accomplish your goals.

For an affirmation to be effective, it needs to be in the present tense, positive, personal and specific. “I am capable of accomplishing any goal I set for myself,”  “I am feeling more peaceful every day,”  “I am learning from my mistakes,” “I eat healthy, nutritious food every day,” are examples of positive affirmations.

Here are a some tips on how to make affirmations:

Determine what you want to improve. Be clear about your goals. Figure out what’s important to you and get to the heart of what you want to create in your life.

Create statements. Put your ideas into a few simple statements that reflect what you want to create. Phrase the statements as if they are already true, not that you would like them to be true. Tell your mind that your desire is actually already the reality. You are programming your subconscious to believe the statements; you’re not trying to want something, you’re trying to make it so.  If you use words like “I will” or “I am going to,” then what you are really doing is postponing the attainment of your goal.

Keep the affirmation focused and realistic. Don’t stretch the idea too far. If you make it too unrealistic your “inner judge” will step in and negate the affirmations.

Keep it positive. Say what you want, not what you don’t want.

Repeat affirmations daily. Say affirmations out loud, in front of a mirror. Write them down and refer to them often. Keep them in a visible place.

My challenge to you is to think about your new year resolution as positive affirmations throughout the year. If you want to lose weight, create affirmations that support weight loss.  If you want to lose 20 pounds and you now weigh 150 pounds, say “I weigh 130 pounds.”  Supplement with affirmations such as “I enjoy eating healthy foods,” “I can sense when I am full and I stop eating,” or “I enjoy walking two miles three times per week.”

In addition, visualize the positive thoughts as if they are already happening. How will you look and feel after losing 20 lbs?  Live it. Feel it. Believe it. You will be surprised how quickly you bring about true change in your life using the power of affirmations.

Happy New Year!

The Black Hole

Have you ever experienced times when life seemed so hopeless that you felt like you were in a deep, dark hole and no matter how hard you tried or what you did, you couldn’t climb out?

I have. I have actually spent a great deal of time in my hole.

Being in that hole is the scariest feeling imaginable. The air is heavy and you feel all alone; there is no one to help plan an escape strategy or offer rescue assistance.

When I was in my hole, I cried and tried to scratch and claw my way out. I pitied myself for falling into the hole and was envious of everyone above ground. I prayed and prayed and when I didn’t get the answer “I” wanted, I yelled at God for abandoning me.

One day as I was expressing my dissatisfaction to God, I came across this:

I asked God for strength to achieve success, He made me weak so that I could humbly learn to obey.

I asked for health to do so many important things, He made me infirm so that I could do better things.

I asked for wealth so that I could be happy, He gave me poverty so that I could be wise.

I asked for power so that people could value me, He gave me weakness so that I could know my need for God.

I asked for a friend so that I would not have to live alone, He gave me a heart so that I could love all my neighbors.

I asked for things that would brighten up my life, I received life so that I could brighten up things.

I received nothing that I asked for, but I got all that I had hoped for. Almost in spite of myself, my humbled prayers were answered. I am the most richly rewarded of all.

Those words hit me like a ton of bricks. I had been missing the point. I spent so much time clawing my way out of the hole, searching for a ladder, that I didn’t see the rope that had been given to me. I realized that just because I wasn’t getting what I wanted, didn’t mean I wasn’t getting what I needed.

I had to reevaluate the way I viewed my situation and circumstance. Instead of being sad over my loss or broken relationships, I realized that there was something I needed to learn, which is why I had to go through a particular experience. Once I looked at the events in my life differently and accepted them as blessings and lessons, no matter how painful, and not as punishment or the result of being unloved or inferior, I was able to find peace and use what was given to me to climb out of my hole.

I still fall into my hole from time to time, but it is usually for a brief period of time and I now know the way out.

Wayne Dyer once said, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

If you’re looking for a ladder to climb out of your hole, try changing your attitude and perception. Accept that you are being given a blessing for your growth and that everything is in perfect order according to a greater plan. You may just be amazed at what happens!

Celebrating New Beginnings

Happy Holidays!

This time of year, from Thanksgiving through the New Year celebration, is a season that provides for us the opportunity to stop our busy lives for a moment and give thanks for our many gifts and blessings; it’s a time of birth and renewal. No matter what your religion or belief structure, it’s a time when we can come together and celebrate new beginnings.

Often, however, we get so caught up in the festivities that we forget the true meaning of the season; we are so involved in “getting everything done,” that we miss the message. We may be more cognizant of this fact during the holiday season, but in reality many of us miss the message every day, all year long. We spend so much time worrying about ourselves, fulfilling expectations, and striving to get ahead, that we forget that we are here to love others unselfishly and to help those less fortunate.

We plow through life with blinders on and are oblivious to what is going on around us.

I would like you to take a moment during this holiday season, as another year comes to an end, and examine your life; take a look at where you are heading and see if you are pleased with the direction. Ask yourself a few questions:

When was the last time you held the hand of a friend in need?

When was the last time you drove an elderly person to the supermarket or to a doctor appointment?

When was the last time you offered assistance with no expectation of something in return?

When was the last time you put the needs of another ahead of your own?

When was the last time you decided that compassion was more important than being right and offered someone forgiveness?

When was the last time you asked to be forgiven?

When was the last time you said, “I love you”?

Use this special time of year to look within and allow your inner beauty to come out. Offer your gifts to others. Reflect on what is important and let the true meaning of life into your heart. Stop going through life mindless and self-centered. Slow down, take time to live, and share your blessings.

May peace and love fill your heart and bring you joy this holiday season and throughout the year!