If saying “no” is difficult, try this.

We don’t want to hurt other people’s feelings, so we hurt our own. Do you set aside your own plans to meet the needs of others? Do people expect things from you that you’d rather not do? Are you fulfilling a commitment but resenting every minute you spend doing it? Are your cabinets full of fundraiser candles and tasteless cookies that you’ll never use? Welcome to the ranks of those who can’t say “no”.

Saying “no” is difficult for most of us, yet saying “yes” when we honestly want to say “no” causes stress, resentment, and barriers between ourselves and the very people we profess to help. Learn to say “no” to unwanted commitments or requests, and you’ll experience more time and energy.

  1. Evaluate the request.

Ask yourself: Does this fit my priorities? Is it constructive for me as well as the other person? Can I do it willingly (or will I feel resentful)? Does it fit my value system? Will the long-term effect be positive? Does doing this feel expansive and light?

  1. If you answer “no” to any of these, say “no” to the request.

Few people are seriously hurt by a “no” answer, and it is sure to benefit you.

  1. State your “no” positively and respectfully. yes-means-no-to-self-page-001

Be clear and polite. “I can’t do it at this time.” If they persist, calmly and politely keep repeating your same answer (a technique known as “parroting”). They will eventually get the message.

Examples of saying “no”:

“My schedule is already full, so I have to say “no”. But thanks for thinking of me!

“I’d like to, but already have plans for that night.”

“That’s something I don’t do. How about we do ________ instead?”

“I’ve been over-obligating myself, so I have to say “no” to this so I can free up time for myself/family/kids/partner…”

“I’m focusing on my health, so I’m not eating snacks/clubbing/drinking/smoking these days. But thanks for asking!”

  1. Don’t offer lengthy explanations or excuses.

Explaining at length dilutes the power and strength of your “no”. A persistent person will attempt to knock holes in any explanation, trying to talk you into changing to a “yes” response. Each time you offer another reason, you weaken the strength of your “no”.

  1. If you can’t decide now, request time to give it thought.

Asking for more time to make a decision frees you from immediate pressure. You have a right to insist on this. Anyone demanding an immediate answer is being disrespectful and pushing for their own purposes.

  1. If you still can’t decide, ask your body for clarification.

Your body knows what you really want to do, even if your mind is confused. Stand tall and steady with hands hanging at your sides and feet aligned directly under your shoulders. Ask yourself, “Shall I do this?” If your body shifts forward, even slightly, you are getting a “yes” response. If it shifts backward, even slightly, you are receiving a “no”.

If your body hangs out in neutral, without movement or slightly swaying forward and back, with no clear indication for either a “yes” or a “no”, there are several possibilities. It may mean that either choice is alright. It can also mean you need more time to consider. Another possibility is that you need more facts before you can assess the situation. If you lack details for your decision, get more facts, talk further, and then ask your body again. Why does this work? Your intuition, cellular memory, and nervous system holds your truth. With this technique, you bypass mental logic and behavioral conditioning which stand in the way of truth. Practice this technique with simple choices first (Should I buy this box of sugary, calorie-laden, oily donuts?) to gain the skill of observing your body’s subtle indicators.

  1. If you regret saying “yes”, there is one more step to take.

Inevitably, you’ll slip back into old patterns and agree to do something you later regret. If the event hasn’t happened yet, contact others who are involved. Notify them that your circumstances have changed and you need to decline after all. As with # 3 and 4 above, do so politely, succinctly, and with no lengthy explanation. However, if you are already into your commitment, and withdrawing now would cause problems for others, follow through. You’ll have learned to respond differently the next time.

go-back-and-say-no-page-001If I thought saying “no” is difficult, it was not nearly as painful as saying a late “no” as a follow-up to an earlier “yes”.  I felt I was going back on my word (old conditioning). But when I made that call, I felt immense relief afterwards. Also, because I didn’t want to do this step, I quickly became committed to saying “no” right up front so that withdrawing an initial “yes” wasn’t necessary. It was sort of like torturing myself to force me to do it right in the first place. It sure worked for me!

  1. Anticipate some upset feedback from others.

A few people will not like “no” for an answer from anyone, and especially from someone they’ve always been able to manipulate into agreement. Be okay with that. Remember that you are living your life, not theirs. They have a right to ask; you have a right to say “no”. They’ll get over it. If they don’t, maybe it’s time to connect with more respectful people.

These methods work, but only if you use them consistently to develop skill and confidence. You have to start today if you want a different result tomorrow. Gain your experience in simple, emotionally free situations before going on to the big challenges that rattle and scare you. After a few successful “no’s” you’ll feel the sense of self-control and freedom it brings you. Now you can direct your energy and time toward your own choice of happenings. It’s time to say “yes” to life!

Next blog post, “How to Say Yes!” to Life.

Take life into your own hands and make it happen. It’s your life. Lead it.

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6 Centering Techniques from the Cat Sitting on my Keyboard

I sat down to write a blog post and our cat arrived with his own version of inspiration. Purring. Begging for scritches behind his ears. Rubbing against my right hand as I tried to move the mouse. Pawing at the back space key and erasing two sentences. If I am going to write about remaining centered in all circumstances, the cat arrives to assure I personally practice what I advise. So, either I shut my writing down and toss the cat out the door, or I chill, thank him for his infectious “om” purring chant, and move the computer further away from him on the counter top. Yes, I KNOW he will just move over closer, but if I can just move it enough times so that he gets fed up with trailing after the moving computer, maybe he will give up? Sigh…

Oh yes, on my subject today of remaining centered during challenging situations …

1) Cats like meditation.

Tigger in our garden

Tigger in our garden

Tigger meditates frequently, sometimes adding a gentle kneading movement with his paws. Meditate regularly. Meditate without expecting purrfection. Meditation is a prime life practice. The outer world drama constantly pulls and tugs at us. We need a daily dose of cosmic connection to remind us of our true nature. Divine. Ever-expanding consciousness. Finding awareness and insights through experiences. Outer world drama mirrors our inner work. When we do the inner work, the outer begins to sort its self out. Life begins to purr.

2) Cats are proud of their reputation for maintaining balance.

They leap around life ready to do this at every opportunity. Decide now that you wish to remain centered and calm; to retain your sense of balance in all circumstances. Then simply begin to act that way. Act in a manner that works instead of reacting from triggered feelings. What specific actions does a calm person use when responding to situations? Whom do you admire that can serve as a role model in this area? Do they listen? Consider the other person’s point of view? Allow the other person to have a differing opinion? Pause before they speak? Do they seek the facts so they know what they are actually dealing with? Do they ask for time to think through before responding? Do they speak their truth calmly and politely without either flinching or attacking? Which of these actions will you chose to use? Yogananda said that life is a play and we are capable of acting any part we choose. Choose your role and play it well!

“It’s easier to act your way into a new way of thinking,
than to think your way into a new way of acting.”
– Millard Fuller, Habitat for Humanity founder.

3) Cats can instantly switch from frenetic running around attacking people’s legs and invisible objects, to hiding crouched behind a chair, to a relaxed mellow chill.

When a triggering situation occurs, instead of instant defensive attack or hiding, switch from your gut reaction to placing full attention on the breath. Take a slow, deep breath. Slowly and smoothly exhale completely. Repeat this until you gain composure. Create a mellow space within.

4) Cats know the value of visualizing.

After a good nap and purr, they gaze around with liquid eyes opening and closing in a slow rhythm as they muse upon possibilities. Sit down in a quiet, uninterrupted time. A good option is immediately following meditation. Visualize a situation that rattles your cage. Imagine yourself responding with confidence, calm, and assurance. Imagine the situation reaching a satisfactory conclusion. Practice this repetitively in your imagination. Studies have proven that visualized practice creates actual change. Cats know that a good visualization is real.

A cat is a lion when in a jungle of small bushes.”
– Indian Proverb

5) Cats gaze around, looking for opportunities to respond, or not.

They can fool you into believing they are sitting quietly, but they are ever aware. Their ears turn, and eyes slightly open to notice what you want them to see, so they can ignore you. Every day for a week, you, too, can seek situations in which to express calm. (Of course you know that with this intention, the universe will offer many opportunities to practice!) If you usually get angry under pressure, what opposite behavior can you express? Patience? Listening? Zipping your lip? Seek to understand the other person’s point of view, even if you do not agree with it? At the end of the day, journal how you applied “calm” and the results you observed. Did it work? Is there another way you could have applied it? How will you apply it in a similar situation in the future? When did you NOT apply it? Why not? What held you back? In this way, you observe and learn from your practice. In time, you will notice your new “trait” creates more desirable outcomes. Now you are developing the skill of the “new” you. Focus on practicing at least one week, and then continue until it becomes easier, or until you are inspired to practice yet another chosen quality. In time, you easily express your new character.

6) You cannot control a cat.

You can work with it, but demanding it to be what you want it to be is fruitless. Neither are you the general manager of the universe. This is a great relief! You are not responsible to see that everyone else behaves the way you think they should. Sometimes, in interacting with the seven billion people who share this planet with you, you are bound to run into others who haven’t been trained by you. Their journey has been different. Their list of justification for their actions is as long as your list of why their actions are wrong. Allow them to follow their own road map while staying on your chosen path.

“Tis far easier to allow another his folly than to convince him of your own.”
– Voices from Life

Author note: Many friends inspire us in life. This article was instigated by Tigger, our beloved cat who eventually moved to the country with old family friends where he could lounge in a sunny garden and occasionally chases their dogs, Scooby and Hunter, in order to keep them all young at heart.

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Tildy’s Musings: We meet Tildy.

Tildy McWallen ran her life the way she ran her mouth – full speed ahead. It isn’t that she wanted to; it just sorta worked out that way. Her Momma reminded her constantly.

Don’t. That’s all she said. Just Don’t. Smokey Joe said the same thing. Don’t.

Eat food so fast.

Spill words out as if they rushed down a waterfall.

Climb trees after a rain when the branches are slick.

Sing songs with made up words.

Talk to the cows like they actually understand.

Don’t.

Tildy chuckled deep inside. She knew better. She didn’t climb trees after the rain. Not anymore. Once she tried on the big creek willow and slid down the trunk, smacking her butt on the hard ground. She apologized to any bugs she didn’t have time to warn ahead. And cows did understand. They even answered back.

No one knew what to do with her life. But everyone sure tried.

Smokey Joe was adventuresome about it. Last year Smokey ran her for County Commissioner. Tildy thought it a great lark. Momma was appalled. Tildy wasn’t sure what she would do with it if people chose her, but she would give it a whirl. She wasn’t picked, so she let it go and moved on.

Life. It came one moment after the other like beads on a string. Like the yellowed pearls Momma wore at weddings and Josey Rawlin’s funeral last summer. Like morning dew drops sliding down to drip off a leaf.

What would evening dew drops do? Move up the leaf? Tildy knew if they did it would be because Mom Earth was bored and wanted a change in her life. Tildy knew Mom Earth breathed because she felt her breath in the wind. Sometimes it felt sweet, like breath from a newborn lamb’s bleat. One summer it felt angry and raging when Pullman’s valley burned, flames sweeping up over the hill just beyond the creek. Tildy understood. She knew Mom Earth had to let it rip now and then. Tildy did too. One day she ran through the woods frantic to scream at the very frustration of being alive. She dove into the creek and hollered her anguish into the swirling water, birthing froths of bubbles that raced to the surface to escape her. Mom Earth embraced her sweetly, cooling her with the caress of her arms. Mostly she listened and understood.

When no one was there for Tildy to talk to, she sang. Whatever came to her mind. Songs of joy surged up and out, sending messages out to the birds that sang and swooped in rhythm with her heart.

Smokey Joe always waved “hey” when she visited his machine shop. Mostly he chuckled as she became the people they both knew, taking on their voice and manners while he guessed who. When he had a bad day and looked grumpy, she always tossed Mrs. Richner’s whines into the mix. She would hitch her pants up high like Mrs. Richner wore hers, and then she would wring her hands, twist her imaginary wedding ring and release a staccato roll of complaints.  “Jody won’t make those kids mind. Pokey messes inside that house like it was outside. Bindweed is ruling over the cow pen and Ben won’t get after it. And my belching! It just won’t quit!” Then she let out a long, loud exaggerated burp, repeating it until Smokey grinned. Then she knew today she had made a difference. That was her life. Make a difference EVERY day.

Her words. A scritch under Pokey’s chin. Hugging one of Mom Earth’s boulders. Whistling at a bird. It was all about this. Breathing in Mom Earth’s gifts and breathing out gifts to others. Tildy knew. She had breathed this way, moment by moment for twenty three years. Some days that breath was rough like creek water struggling over jumbled rocks. Another day, like today, it flowed smooth. When she thought about other people’s frowns it was rough. When she thought about the moment she was at and how to breath a gift into it, it flowed.

Tildy gazed out ahead, into the space between the dirt road lined with careless field clover, and the blue summer sky with gathering thunderheads. Into that space of road she glimpsed Mrs. Richner’s walk. That woman was bewildered with life. Tildy took a skip and headed up quick. She knew just what to do.

Ellie’s Note: from time to time Tildy shows up in my mind with things to say. She introduced herself into my awareness when I was on a road trip and we’ve been friends ever since. Hope you enjoy her!

Ellie Note: Any Video’s inserted below this article are advertisements by WordPress which support their free blogs, and I have no control over what they choose. They do not represent me or my works. Thanks!

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15 Keys to Dealing with People

About dealing with those other people…that’s what makes life so challenging, right? Regardless of whether we like or don’t like certain people, we still have to live with them.

To experience meaningful, mutually satisfying relationships, we need to balance our own rights with legitimate rights of others. Yes, even those jerks that plague our very existence! In this series on skillful living, I recently addressed how to live confidently by asserting our rights. Now let’s look at the flip side of that.

Consider Other People’s Rights

  • They have the right to be treated with courtesy and respect.
  • They have the right to have and express their own feelings and opinions even though they may differ from mine.
  • They have the right to be listened to and to be taken seriously.
  • They have the right to set their own priorities, and at times these may be different from mine.
  • They have the right to say no without being labeled “wrong” or “bad”. They have the right to ask me for what they want. (I have the right to say no.)
  • They have the right to get what they pay for or what I have promised.
  • (I have the right to release a commitment that is no longer relevant or healthy)
  • They have the right to make mistakes. No one is perfect all the time.
  • They have a right to assert themselves, even though it may inconvenience me. (I have the right to say )
  • They have the right to choose not to assert themselves. They can choose to compromise or let it go.
  • They have the right to disagree with me. This does not make them “bad” or “wrong”.
  • They have the right to be moody, emotional, inconsistent, unreasonable, demanding, and impatient. I may not like that, but it is a fact of life. (I have the right to not get emotionally involved.)

Two people never agree all the time.

Different Life Perspectives, boxes-page-001Occasionally, or frequently, problems arise because we expect, or even demand, that the other person behave according to our personal viewpoint. ‘Tain’t gonna happen. One person’s life experiences have conditioned a unique perspective that will never completely match up with anyone else. Until you consider someone else’s perspective, communication will be rocky at best.

For maximum benefit:

You need to temporarily step into the other person’s shoes. (For some people, you might  want to spray those imaginary shoes with super-strong Cootie deterrent!)

  1. Be open to consider every relationship in a new light. Transform your interactions.
  2. Read the above list of rights several times.
  3. Each time, consider it from the viewpoint of a different person in your life.

People to consider: Family members. Partners. Exes. Children. Parents. Friends. Coworkers. Bosses. Neighbors. People who irritate you. People who mistreat you. People who confuse you. People you adore. People you trust.

  1. If someone pops into your mind, unsolicited, review it from their point of view. There’s a reason they surfaced now to be considered.
  2. Monitor your self-talk as you work with this; switch from negative blah blah to encouraging, supportive thoughts.
  3. Don’t avoid this exercise – it’s very important to maintain this balanced perspective in order to be skillful with assertive behavior. Genuinely seek to understand their perspective in each area. Resulting insights give clues to help you connect.

Simply understanding these principles doesn’t make them work in your life. You have to change your behavior to make changes in relationships.

About that person in your life who doesn’t “deserve” to be respected or listened to:

  • That is exactly what they are thinking about you.
  • Whenever you judge another person, misunderstandings are always exaggerated.
  • In that other person’s mind, they justify their personal viewpoint. If you negatively attack or resist it, they strengthen their stand. Don’t believe me? Observe political campaigns.
  • Listening to someone does not mean you are agreeing with them.
  • Another person’s history may be a reasonable cause of their dysfunction. You can have empathy for them, and set your personal boundaries, without condoning or feeding into that dysfunction.
  • This is a balancing act. Don’t neglect your own rights in order to address theirs.

Don’t apply all Rights at once.

Choose only one right to practice at a time. When you focus on one, plenty of situations arise for you to use it. If you feel complete with one, choose another to apply. Alternately, when a challenging situation arises with another person, review this list and choose which one is best apply.

Practicing your own assertive rights is plenty of work. Doing the same with others is equally challenging. But in the long run, learning this skill from both angles leads you into a more confident and effective reality.

In my next post, we will address how to say “no”.

Suggested reading: The Assertiveness Workbook, by Randy J Patterson.  http://www.amazon.com/The-Assertiveness-Workbook-Yourself-Relationships/dp/1572242094

Take life into your own hands and make it happen. It’s your life. Lead it.

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15 Personal Rights That Build a Confident Life

Frustrated with life? Early in my life, I realized my “niceness” made me a doormat. I railed against the injustice of trying to be a kind, productive, creative person, while feeling taken advantage of and not respected for my suggestions.

I learned that creating my choice of lifestyle, setting appropriate boundaries, speaking my truth without attacking others, and accepting that my personal choices won’t always be understood, all require assertiveness.

Assertiveness is not being pushy or mean. That’s aggression.

Assertiveness is taking charge of your life appropriately – in a way that brings preferred results. Assertive people have a clear sense of “Self”. You act and make choices to honor your Self. You speak and act in a manner that respects who you are, while at the same time acknowledging the other person has their own perspective. You set boundaries on how you are treated, yet don’t force your beliefs on others.

Few of us were raised to be assertive.

Most people fall into one of these three categories:

  1. One response to life is to be passive, allowing other people and outside circumstances to run our life.
  2. Another response is to be passive-aggressive, allowing others to run our life until we can’t take it anymore and then we subtly undermine them or explode in an outright attack.
  3. A third option is to aggressively ram through life, pushing our agenda on others.

Each of these three attitudes creates an energetic and relationship wake behind us that stirs up confusion and distrust. Yet let us not be hard on ourselves – it’s how we figured out to survive in this morass of human communication. As a child, we faced a chaotic, unfathomable world and did what we could to survive to adulthood. We aren’t stuck with that. We can re-create ourselves.

There is a fourth option: Assertiveness.

Assertive people-page-001Early in  life, I realized my “niceness” was making me a doormat. I determined to learn assertiveness through books and classes. In my search I came across a list of 15 assertiveness rights (in an article from Daytimer) that guided me through my personal life and professional career. Consider each carefully. Intentionally applying one at a time, determine to practice each assertiveness right. When you focus on one, you can count on life bringing you opportunities to apply it. When you feel complete with one, move on to the next. In time, assertiveness becomes natural, and the only way you want to live.

Assertive Rights

  • I have the right to be treated with courtesy and respect.
  • I have the right to have and express my own feelings and opinions.
  • I have the right to be listened to and to be taken seriously.
  • I have the right to set my own priorities.
  • I have the right to say NO without feeling guilty.
  • I have the right to ask for what I want.
  • I have the right to get what I pay for.
  • I have the right to make mistakes.
  • I have the right to assert myself even though I may inconvenience or hurt others.
  • I have the right to choose not to assert myself.
  • I have the right to disagree with others about an issue and still work positively with them.
  • I have the right to be myself and to be happy at all times under all circumstances.
  • I don’t need others’ approval for who I am.
  • I have the right to remain neutral, to accept things the way they are, and I don’t have to choose sides. I don’t have to have an opinion or position on everything.
  • I have the right to have some personal and private time and space for myself without having the approval of others.

Think this is too self-oriented? In my next post I list assertiveness rights of others. You’ll learn it is a balancing act of finding the boundary between your own needs as compared to what others need.

If you are passive in nature, assertiveness will feel pushy and aggressive to you.

If your nature is aggressive, assertiveness will feel wimpy and passive.

It’s a matter of changing by degrees until you feel comfortable with your new persona. When are you going to work with this? Today is a good day to begin.

Be Forewarned! When you begin acting more assertive, you will confuse people around you. They are used to you behaving as you did in the past. When you change behavior, they may temporarily increase dysfunctional behavior in response. Remain calm and continue your assertiveness practice. In time they will realize you are steady on your course and begin to respond differently. Remember, you are practicing a new skill. Don’t expect perfection from yourself. Expect to make mistakes; that’s how we learn. But do hold yourself accountable. The end result will be stronger self-esteem and confidence.

Take life into your own hands and make it happen. It’s your life. Lead it.

In my next post:  “The Other Person’s Bill of Rights”.

Following that, I will post practical action steps and challenges of getting started, including how to say “NO”, assertiveness practices, and much more.

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Why today is the right day to transform your life

When you are fed up with life the way it is, and finally ready to transform it, any day is the right day.

When is the ideal time to make changes in life? Right now. Today. This article includes practical steps to assist in making desired change. Since there is a full moon day today, it’s helpful to know that a full moon offers energy to clear out and relinquish all that is no longer useful. You can release old, stuck energy back to the infinite quantum field from whence it was originally manifested. Imagine the moon being filled up to the brim and it’s time to tip it over and empty it out. The same is true with life. You need to make room for newer, vital energies and opportunities to enter your life.

During the full moon, efforts to usher in change are supported and strengthened. You are fully supported right now to release the old and bring in the new. Whether you choose to intentionally participate is sort of irrelevant these days on planet Earth. Energies around us are making it happen anyway. So I’d suggest reviewing aspects of your life that are uncomfortable or unworkable, and choose to make changes in that area. On any day.

We frequently think of transformation as a spiritual experience.

While a shift in consciousness can move us to a new level of understanding, the catalyst lies in daily life. An event happens that forces us to look at life in a new way – frequently something traumatic. Yet the indicators, hints, subtle and not-so-subtle suggestions to make this shift have been present long before it happens. You are probably experiencing indicators to make life changes right now. But our tendency is to avoid this until life forces us, and then we say, “Life is so traumatic!” Did you know that life doesn’t have to be constantly traumatic? If you recognize promptings for change, and begin making the change, you participate with transformation, instead of resisting it.

Practical Steps toward Transformation:

The following suggestions start you on the road of working with instead of working against, transformation you desire in life.

1. On a clean page or sheet of paper, list key aspects of life that repeatedly cause problems.

A few areas to consider are: specific relationships, finances, spirituality, health, fitness, relaxation, parenting, work environment, co-workers, your house, the location you live in, your self-image…and more. Finding areas for change is easy; simply list whatever worries, stresses, irritates, angers, frightens, and discomforts you.

2. Choose one area for creating change. Only one.

Which area yells at you the loudest? Or which one, if improved, will positively affect several other areas? Start there.

3. Don’t be concerned about selecting the wrong area for change.

You can’t. Unworkability in your life is a woven tapestry; working on one thread pulls and tugs at them all. If a different area starts getting in your face, you’ll know to let go the one you chose so you can pick up the noisier one. Your higher wisdom knows what to work with, so listen to it. If you don’t know how, this exercise will begin to teach you.

4. On a second, fresh page, write your chosen area on the top.

5. List every obstacle you can think of that gets in the way of making this change.

Brainstorm here. Don’t judge what comes into your thoughts; simply write it down. When finished with this list (you can add new obstacles at any time), move to the next step.

6. Choose one obstacle to work with. Only one.

Circle it. For this part of the exercise, choose an obstacle that is easier to address. Choose one within your confidence level, or you know how to tackle it, or the timing is right. As with #2 and 3 above, working on one obstacle begins a cascading effect that assists in every area.

7. On a third, fresh page, write your chosen obstacle on the top.

8. List every action step you can take to resolve your chosen obstacle.

A few ideas might include: Have an important conversation with someone, or make a necessary phone call. Take a training class to learn a skill such as handling anger, parenting, or conflict resolution. Considerations could be to create a budget, go online to find out next semester’s college schedule, order a workout video, schedule a weekly family night at home, sign up for a taekwando class, find a counselor to help deal with emotional debris, or read online articles on setting personal boundaries. This list is endless! You can add to or adjust it anytime.

To know, larger print-page-001

9. Choose one obstacle-dissolving step and do it. Take the action.

Get up off your “not now, not today” tush and get on with your life. Your plan won’t make a bit of difference unless you act on it. Who is going to control your life, and create your destiny? No one else can walk this life your way. You are the creator, manager, and guide of your life. Not your parents, family, partner, friends, social pressure, teachers, wise advisors, or irrelevant childhood messages whirling around in your head. You are it.

10. Schedule a realistic deadline for your action step.

Work toward your goal, and if necessary, extend it a few times. After all, life happens along the way. But be careful that you aren’t making excuses. You may find new obstacles pop up. If so, take one of them as your new obstacle, and when it’s completed, return to your original one.

11. When you finish with one obstacle, choose another.

Keep at it until you’ve accomplished this shift in your life, and then return to step #1 and repeat the process with another area of life. Dance with this. If your current “project” loses steam, pick up another one to start fresh.

Final Thoughts:

“But I don’t have time!”

Lack of time is frequently listed as the primary obstacle to transformation. This is a false illusion. If you “don’t have time”, get firm with yourself and say “no” to the time-stealers that aren’t getting you anywhere. How many commitments do you have to please other people who are never satisfied regardless of what you offer? Who are you helping that could find help elsewhere? Does your house really have to look like a Martha Stewart video? Can you buy organic ghee instead of making your own? What commitments are you still living up to that were made at another time in your life – commitments that are no longer relevant today? Do you really need all the “stuff” that you move around and maintain? Can your family/partner/children/co-workers do more for themselves instead of depending on you? Are you maintaining a collection that long ago lost its charm?

Look around you. Everything in your environment is either an energy source, or energy drainer. Get rid of energy drainers, and your time will expand. If you still can’t find time, learn more about this by reading online, studying a book, or find SOME way to learn to say “no” so you can say “yes” to a fulfilling life.

Don’t rush this.

The first time I tackled my transformation this way, it took me 3 years to make it through my initial list. Then I sat down and created an entirely new one! As you transform, life brings you new opportunities for further expansion. It’s what makes life juicy!

When you begin to change, everything shifts around you.

This can be uncomfortable. It’s like shedding your old skin and growing new. When you transform – your life, relationships, and experience of living – transforms along with you. Life won’t look the same. Isn’t that what you have been saying you want?

The full moon won’t create a transformation for you. Fire ceremony, meditation, drumming, dancing, hallucinogenic drugs, and the plethora of aids out there won’t do it for you. Only you can do this.

Nothing changes until you change.

There is more information I could add, embellish, and explain, but this is a grand beginning. I say this with confidence because I’ve applied this consistently in my life and have learned to trust the results. Others have, too. For ongoing supportive articles and guidelines, “Follow” this blog (the Follow button is a bottom of right hand column), and “Like” my Ellie Hadsall’s Writing Facebook page. Contact me with subjects you’d like me to address in future articles and I’ll do that for you.

Take life into your own hands and make it happen. It’s your life. Lead it.

 

 

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Overwhelmed Today? Pick Up a Dish!

Does your day have you stymied? Are you exhausted before it begins? Maybe you woke up in a blue funk. Or have tons to do but no motivation to tackle it. Maybe you review your list and find it overwhelming, or so underwhelming it bores you to death.  Perhaps life is a mess and you are desperate to make it through just one more day. On such a day, self-talk becomes morose and only drags you deeper. What to do?

Sitting there feeling sorry for yourself won’t break the spell; it reinforces it. Calling a friend to commiserate helps you feel better, but doesn’t move you forward. This is the point at which many succumb to sleeping, or reach for an addiction to distract themselves from discomfort. Yet if you bravely seek to break the addiction barrier, or overcome depression which is reinforced by a sense of worthlessness, or are simply fed up with struggling to overcome inertia, try something new.

Pick up a dish.

dirty dishes in sink

Unfinished business, whether mental, emotional, or physical, nags at us. It drains energy and muddles our thoughts.

On this Thanksgiving day, the task facing us was overwhelming. Thanksgiving dinner was completed leaving everyone full and sleepy. Family members mysteriously disappeared with “important things to do” leaving Mom and me to clean up. She sighed, scooted back her chair to cross her legs, and lit up a cigarette. My gaze followed hers as she scanned the damage. Twelve years old, I could think of better things to do on a holiday but had no handy excuse that she would buy into.

Where to begin? Every inch of counter top was covered with dirty dishes. The sink was overfilled. Our holiday china needed replaced high up in the cupboard. The refrigerator was already stuffed and we needed to cram in yet more.

“Mom, what do you want me to do first?”

She shook her head, studying her cigarette. After a moment’s reflection, she suddenly suggested, as if divinely inspired. “Let’s each just pick up a dish.”

“What do you mean?”

“We will each pick up a dish and take it where it needs to go. That will lead to picking up another dish. If we keep picking up the next dish, we will eventually get it all done.”

How silly! I grabbed a plate and headed to the sink. To make room, I stacked cooking pans over on the stove. Before stacking them I needed to pour in water to soak off the debris. To get to the faucet, I gathered drinking glasses and silverware from the sink. The silverware was tossed into the soaking cook pots. Glasses went on the only open spot I could find, the window sill. I poured in fresh dishwater and added the plate. Then another plate and cup. Soon I was filling the dish rack with clean dishes, making countertop room for more. Next we knew, the kitchen was clean, dishes stored, and all was in order.

This works if you use it – guaranteed!

cleaned up dishes

Completing unfinished business, and getting it behind us, is a huge relief. We no longer carry that nagging “got to handle that” feeling that lingers in the periphery of our thoughts.

It works!  Pick up a dish. I’ve followed this advice for many an overwhelming day at home or work. When I pick up one dish to wash, one phone call to make, one bill to pay, one conversation that needs to happen, one item to handle, one folder to file, one email to respond to, one client to call, I overcome inertia and propel my energy forward. This avoids the usual agony of anticipating an overwhelming burden of things to do. Anyone can take just one step forward. Once you do, that momentum moves you to the next project.

As I follow this strategy, I accomplish more in less time. It removes my “attachment” to what needs to be done or how long it will take, shifting my action into a steady flow. Once in the flow, I relax and go along for the ride. Somewhere along the line I look with amazement at how much I’ve accomplished. This works with your computer or paperwork at the office, cleaning your car, children’s rooms, garage purging, and spring housecleaning (if anyone out there does this anymore?)

Create a new habit of accomplishment and overcome emotional passivity.

On a rough emotional day you may only complete two things, (and one of them might be reading an encouraging article online), but at the end of the day, that’s something to feel good about. Over a series of days, you can complete a significant number of tasks, leading you to feel better about yourself. Now when you take time to relax, you won’t feel guilty. You will have taken back some of your own power. You have created a personal history of achievement instead of a sense of worthlessness. No one else can do this for you. Do it for yourself. Do it to set an example for your children. Do it because you are worth the effort. In time, it won’t be an effort anymore – it will have become a new habit of accomplishment.

Don’t think about this too much.

Take the action. Don’t analyze it in light of advice you’ve heard on time management or organization. I’ve taught those classes; they have a proper place when working within organizations. Here, I’m talking about personal achievement in the privacy of your own relationships, office, garage, kitchen, or work space. Overcoming physical, mental, and emotional hurdles increases self-esteem and helps you feel strong. Be sure to listen to your inner dialogue throughout the day, weeding out negatives. Read Self Talk rules my day  – we will be addressing more ideas on this subject in upcoming posts.

One more thought – this article is focused on breaking loose from morose.  There are days when “action” isn’t the answer. Sometimes the wise thing to do is allow yourself to take a guilt-free nap, go on a walk, read a good book, watch a movie, or hang with a friend, disconnecting from the “shoulds” of life. That is another article!

My last piece of advice? Somewhere among the “dishes” you pick up, fill one with yummy ice cream, treat yourself to a reward, or toast yourself in the mirror. You’ve earned it.

Not sure how to take new action?

You’ll want to read You Gotta Act Differently to Get New Results.

Next Post: 15 Steps to Confident, Assertive Living.

Coming up: A series of posts with practical steps to address life issues.

Take life into your own hands and make it happen. It’s your life. Lead it.

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