Have you ever written a piece of poetry? Though I’ve only written a few, there is something wonderfully vulnerable about the process of creating a poem. It’s different from traditional forms of writing. Very. There is a nakedness in the crafting of a poem. As if the soul is being bared and shared with those on the other end. Vulnerable.
Let’s share in this vulnerable moment together. Here is a poem I created this afternoon, after a few days at the coast. It occurred to me on my afternoon walk. Actually I wrote it on that walk, and it is now that I share it with you.
Our darkest hour is nearly here Hold onto what you hold dear, as There will be a prescient light, Which you can call upon tonight
Though pain is life, And life is pain, Know There is no other way
Through strife and hardship We must fight to know the life that’s been brought to light
A journey, Our right, so Don’t fear, and Take flight
In those times Of Darkened night, When the soul is stretched beyond, And there’s fright
Take solace Dear friends And don’t Give up the light
Be true to you, Also take care, and Please don’t despair
Though alone you feel, Alone you are not As we all share the same Birthright
For in our shared humanity Is where Your connection will flourish And last
Through the connections we share The brighter the light becomes As we can all understand Both passion and strife
They are equals you see Both necessary for life
Take care of yourself And love long this life By sharing yourself among those With more plights
Remember always their plights Are sources for all And share with them the resourcefulness You know
I’ve lived the majority of my life believing that crying was something I’m not supposed to do. See, when something is not modeled for you as a child, and you are actively told not to do that same thing, you don’t know how to do it. May sound funny. Not knowing how to cry, yet believe me when I tell you that many, many people do not know how to cry. What about you?
And, what does crying really have to do with our lives? I mean, are we missing something when we don’t allow ourselves the opportunity to cry? Or, is the idea of crying as beneficial, just more psychobabble? Not sure. I wasn’t either for 40 years. Yet, today, I have some ideas, so let’s take a look.
If we want to live a life of openness and possibility, then crying is something we must learn how to do. And, while crying during a sad movie is beneficial, especially for someone that doesn’t know how to really access their tears, when I refer to crying in this context, I am talking about getting in touch with pain that is deep within us. And, learning how to release it through our tears.
I’m talking about the kind of crying where we ache all over, shudder with pain, grief, remorse, anger, frustration, and sadness. The kind of cry that will bring you to your hands and knees in the middle of the night. That’s different. And, a very different experience.
For 40 years, I held all of my tears inside of me. They would leak out during a sad movie, or sad event, yet I could not just sit and cry. Nope. Was not possible for most of my life. And, what happens when you don’t know how to release those tears that you know are there?
For me, it created more anger, frustration, and deep pain. I was a mess. Really, I was. The slightest thing would “make” me angry, and then my emotions would erupt out of me. Why? Because I hadn’t learned how to let these emotions out in positive ways.
We hear all the time that young boys, especially in the US, learn, and are taught, that crying is not something that “men” are supposed to do. Social conditioning of this kind is so harmful. Very damaging.
And, while I knew this type of socialization was extremely damaging, I only really understood this intellectually. Really, just a theory for me at the time, yet I didn’t even know it. Why? Because to really know something you must have lived it, practiced it. The only real way. And, I had not done that with my emotions.
In essence I was the walking epitome of hyper-masculine socialization; even more so, because I actually talked about how much of a problem this is for young boys in the US. Yet, it was also myself I was speaking about. Totally unaware.
Then about 3 years ago I was shown a new way. A way that included the positive acknowledgement of my emotions, a way to handle them, and a way to release them. As you can imagine, dealing with my emotions one way for 40 years, and then living through them in a new way has been difficult, yet extremely empowering, insightful, and beneficial. And, I am still learning.
What are some of the health benefits of learning to cry?
I understand that the question above may seem silly, or even ridiculous to some, yet to me, it makes perfect sense. When you don’t know how to do something, you must learn. And, learning to cry, to release that which is, and always has been, inside of you, is no different.
Here are a few of the health benefits I’ve experienced from learning to cry.
The dissipation of anger and frustration – as you can imagine, living for such a long time without the ability to cry, means there was a lot of crying to do, and still is. And, with that release, the anger and frustration that seemed to plague me daily, has dissipated. It has dissipated a lot.
More overall well-being – with the release of the anger and pent up frustration, has come more overall well-being. Frustration and anger don’t really feel all that great. Not when they’ve been held onto for so long. Meaning that I feel lighter today. I’m not carrying so much of that anger and frustration around. I’ve gotten in touch with a lot of it, and released it.
Higher levels of patience – I used to always label myself as someone with little patience. Not a helpful strategy to begin with. And, how can one really be patient when they are holding onto their anger and frustration? Not possible. My patience has increased tremendously with my ability to cry as needed.
A better understanding of myself – when you get in touch with your emotions, really begin to understand them, and how they work, you also get the added benefit of understanding yourself better. Simple. You work on your emotions, and they work for you, instead of against you.
And, the biggest benefit of all, increased clarity.
One of the biggest benefits of learning to cry, and crying often, is that I have more clarity. Really. It actually makes perfect sense. When you are holding onto your emotions, not because you want to, but because you don’t know what else to do with them, you are carrying around years of baggage. How can you see clearly through all of that? You can’t.
However, when you get in touch with your emotions, and actively inquire into why you feel as you do, your clarity about yourself, and the world around you increases tremendously. Super helpful.
And, when you are more clear, your focus, and intuition bloom. You can see where you are stuck, and inquire into the root issue, and become unstuck. Sometimes it takes time to get to the root issue, however, if you stick with it, it will become clear.
For instance, I’ve learned over the past couple of years that one of the personas I’ve taken on in my life is that of the hero. Wanting to save everyone from everything. Not helpful. Why?
Because, when people don’t have the ability to fail, they don’t learn. Simple. Saving someone from failure is the worst thing you can do. People that identify with the hero, will be confused about this, which I understand. I was confused too.
However, through every failure, people learn a new skill, or have a new insight. These are important. They are the gems of being a human being. And, people need to experience them. Even when they are painful.
The insight I had about performing the hero was that it all stems from a desire I’ve had since I was little, which was a desire to save my dad from his pain and anguish. A stunning insight for me. Because I was unable to see the root of my own hero attachment, I always acted out the hero. Didn’t know any better.
Yet, by working on, and understanding my emotions, I can see that clearly. Very clearly. And, that branch of understanding is connected to many others that span my whole life. A wonderful thing to see and understand.
What can you do if you’ve not been taught to understand your emotions, and you are unable to cry?
You can start today. Start by making a choice to get in touch with your humanity, of which emotions are a very large part. Here are a few things you can do to get in touch with your emotions, which may assist you in learning how to cry.
See someone – as I’ve mentioned in other posts, I’ve been seeing someone regularly for 2.5 years now, and the insights that have come from these conversations have been life changing, and are irreplaceable. The techniques employed in these sessions are grounded in Eastern Spirituality, which I have found the most beneficial.
Find a quiet space – we all need our own space. And, to inquire into your emotions, and release them, you need space to do so. Find a way to create a space for yourself, and make it a requirement that you are not bothered during these times.
Inquire into your feelings – when emotions arise, ask questions about them, and see what happens. In my case, there are many layers of understanding associated with my emotions, so where I used to ask the questions, such as why am I angry at this moment? Today, the reason usually arises without the question. If you’ve never done anything like this before, start by questioning your feelings. You may find that what is bothering you is something simple, right on the surface, or it may be something deeper, which will require more investigation.
Write out how you feel – important. Writing down how you feel is a strategy I highly recommend. It has served me very well. I write my feelings down during my inquiry, so that I can see them. And, doing this has created even more insight for me. There is something about writing your feelings down that allows you to better connect with them, and understand them.
Let the cry happen – I can remember so many times when I desperately wanted to cry, to release that which was inside of me, yet there was always a barrier there. If you’ve lived this way, it will take some time to let those tears out. Yet, know that they will come in time. A little here, and there. And, eventually a flood. Remember, it is okay. Better language, it is wonderful.
Once you’ve worked on your emotions for a while, it does become easier. Like anything, it takes time. And, it is time well spent. Believe me.
Our emotions are needed and necessary. Yet, for many, being in touch with these emotions is out of reach. It’s a simple fact. And, it is a sad one. When you are in touch with your emotions, you learn to cry for yourself first. Then you will learn to cry for others. And, at some point you will learn to cry for all of humanity. Why?
For the pain and suffering that plagues human beings. The pain and suffering that comes from being detached from one’s emotions. And, it’s not because there is no other way to live. It is because most people don’t yet have access to an alternative way.
Yet, I have hope that there will be a day when people will have more access to their emotional selves, and the ability to release that which they’ve been holding onto for so long.
For, in understanding ourselves better, we can understand each other better. And, when we understand each other better, there is a greater likelihood of us showing more love and compassion for our fellow human beings. And, with more love and compassion will come more peace. More peace for each of us, and more peace on this planet.
A purpose-driven life. What does that mean? Any idea? Okay, well, as with most things, there is no one way to think about purpose, or life. Lots of ways to think about these concepts. And, for sure, they are just that, concepts. As humans we often become confused about the meaning we derive from concepts. Why?
Because we create meaning to make sense of the world. And, we create concepts or stories with the language we use to describe our experience. I’ve written about this in other posts, yet it is also instructive here. Why? Because searching for purpose is something that humans spend a lot of time, and money on. Is it necessary? Not sure? Let’s take a look.
What does purpose have to do with life?
How many times have you heard someone utter the phrase, I found my purpose! Yep, me too. And, I’ve uttered that phrase myself. What’s the issue with this way of thinking?
One issue is that if we find purpose outside of ourselves, then it can be taken away. Make sense? Sometimes people land the job they’ve always wanted, and believe the job, or the company, will deliver the purpose they’ve been looking for.
I lived the majority of my life this way. Yep. True. Yet, what I’ve come to realize in the past three years, is that purpose, like all concepts that are created in language, live inside of us. Period. Then what does that mean for people that are in search of purpose?
It means that they will never find it in the world. Not until they find it within themselves. There really is no other way. What we create within us, can never be taken away. Why? Because we’ve created it, and it lives within us. Not accessible to others, unless we choose to invite them.
This may be hard to believe for some, and for others may make perfect sense. We create purpose in our lives. Period.
We are the active agents in creating purpose, and all other concepts that are derived from language. They come from within. Has always worked this way, and will always continue to work this way. What about people who say they’ve found their purpose, and that their purpose lives in the outside world? Depends.
If they’ve created that purpose from within, then when circumstances change their purpose will remain. However, if their purpose is attached to something that lives in the world, and does not live within them, then that purpose may fade. Why is this so?
Because life is full of change. The world, everything around us and within us, is always in a constant state of change. Constant. And, what happens with change?
Where there is constant change, it is only a matter of time before that which we’ve attached our purpose to also changes. And, when it does, there goes our purpose. Extremely painful. Let me give you an example.
When I was first married, we lived in a couple of different apartments in Los Angeles. After a few years, we were ready to buy a home. Hard to do in LA. However, we persisted, and found one. A lovely little home.
In the time we searched for this house, many people told me things like, owning a home is the best, it is everything people say and more. Because my parents were homeowners, I believed that homewoning was a requirement. Owning a home became my purpose at that time in my life.
It was perfect. Our sons were very little, and we were on our way to homeownership. The issue, you ask? Well, this was in 2004. And, what happened in 2007 and 2008? Yep. The housing crash.
Though we ended up selling the house in LA, and purchasing one in AZ, we ended up foreclosing on that house in 2007. That was one of the most painful experiences of my life. Tons of tears. It was as if a part of me had been ripped right out of me. Why?
Because the purpose I had created in language, lived outside of me. When the house foreclosed, then, it was a visceral experience of loss. Losing something so dear, and so important to me. Really was painful. And, why was it so painful?
Because the concept of purpose that I created was that being a homeowner was not only the next step in my life, but was also a step that would bring me peace and security.
What followed? A ton of shame about foreclosing on that house. Shame followed naturally because I had created a purpose that lived outside of me, and that purpose was attached to a particular way of being, and result. Painful. Yet not the only way to create purpose. There is a different way. Let’s take a look.
How can we create purpose in our lives?
When purpose is created from within, it’s never about what’s outside of you. Not ever. Purpose is derived from the actions you take inside of the manifold things that you do. Period.
The main difference for me, is that I don’t have a particular purpose, outside of living my life fully in every moment. This moment, then the next, then the next. And, the purpose that is derived from within is generalizable to all contexts.
A walk on the beach; a conversation with a friend or loved one, a meeting at work, writing this post. Same. They all feel similar to me today. Was not always the case.
When you have a purpose that starts inside of you, the world looks and feels different. Why? Because you are more present to each moment, and all of the wonder that lives there.
When we are able to get outside of our minds continuous longing to be busy, to find purpose, we can be more still. And, in that stillness, purpose is actually kind of a funny concept. What purpose does one really need in this life, but to live; and, live well?
How do you create purpose? Well, that is up to you. You can look, and be on a continuous quest for something that is already inside of you. Many people, including myself for most of my life, live that way.
Or, you can begin to understand that we are the active agents and creators of our purpose. And, in each moment a purpose can be created from within you, no matter what you are doing. Anything, at any time.
For instance, I am now at the coast for a couple of days. Nice. Upon arriving, I walked on the beach for a little while. Just walked. Was beautiful. Then I came back to the tiny, and I mean tiny, room I’m staying in, and meditated for 30-minutes. Now I’m finishing up this post. Then, I’ll get dinner, and then, don’t know.
Doesn’t matter. What comes in each moment will come; and I’ll see it as it comes. Life is actually quite exhilarating that way. No conceptualization of how it will be, or what I’m supposed to be doing. Just doing. That’s all.
What actions can you take to create purpose in each moment?
Live life fully – whatever you are doing, be present to that context, and fully enjoy each moment. When we are not present, and are thinking about other things, we miss our opportunity to create our inner purpose in that moment.
Be the best iteration of yourself – when we give everything we have in every moment, regardless of what we are doing, we are living purposefully. Give your all, always.
Create your purpose from within – create your purpose from within you, and create it again, and again. Each moment, of every day. That’s living a full life.
Be who you reallyare – your inner purpose will come from who you really are, not a performance based upon who others think you are. Be who you are, and your purpose will show up.
Stay engaged with all that you do – we have so many things that we can do, and contribute to. Phew, so much to do. And, being engaged in all that you do, is important to creating that inner purpose. Engagement means getting the most out of everything you do. Important.
Let go of expectations you have – when we have expectations about how things are supposed to go, we set ourselves up for disappointment. And, there is no purpose in disappointment. Don’t expect, just be present and do.
Alright, there are a few actions you can take to begin to create that inner purpose. Funny. It’s already there, you just need to slow down, be present, appreciate everything that is in front of you, and experience the life that is there to be lived.
Let go of the life you think you should be living, and live the one that is right in front of you. You will see, feel, and believe in your new found purpose, whatever it is.
This week I’ve been thinking more about relationships in general, and also more about the ones in my life. Relationships are so important. I’ve written several posts about relationships, and the importance of all of our relationships. Even the ones we don’t typically consider, or think about often.
Well, let’s consider them all; and, what makes up a highly-effective relationship. Do you know?
I think deep down we all know, yet, we often get confused in our relationships. Swayed by commitment, personal ties, expectations, memories we have, and emotions we feel.
Sometimes, then, we stay in relationships, against our best interest. Yep. Most of you reading this know about that, as do I. Happens to us all.
Let’s then consider some of the keys to highly-effective relationships. A guide of sorts. Now, there are many keys to highly-effective relationships. Dependent on your standpoint, some of these may resonate with you more than others. Yet, I’m sure you will see yourself, or someone you know in some of these.
7 Keys to Highly Effective Relationships
Being in a relationship that is mutually reciprocal is important. Why? Because too often there are balance-issues in relationships. Meaning that one person is adding more value in the relationship than the other. What happens then?
When this happens, people can become resentful. This is especially true if the people in the relationship believe they must stay in the relationship at all costs. For some of you this might sound odd. Yet, believe me, people stay in relationships all the time that are not healthy, that are even toxic. Not helpful. Rather destructive.
The most effective relationships are those where there are clear distinctions between the two I’s that make up the relationship. In effect, in every relationship, there are three relationships. The one’s each individual has with themselves, and then the one they have together. 3 relationships.
And, all 3 of these relationships are important. When the relationship someone has with themselves is sacrificed for the partnered relationship, there is likely to be resentment, anger, and frustration. Again, not helpful.
When in a relationship we should support our partners growth and development. Too often, however, relationships are founded on a set of principles, ideas, and expectations, that prohibit, or at least mitigate growth and development.
When this happens, it means that the people in the relationship are, in effect, limiting themselves, and each other without knowing it. And, when one of the individuals in the relationship embarks on a developmental trajectory that upsets this previously created foundation, there can be pain and discomfort. Difficult.
Integrity is important in any highly-effective relationship. Integrity simply means doing what you say. Being your word. And, if you are out of integrity, to say so. You actively create a context, and conversation to let the people you are in relationship with know that you are out of integrity. That’s it.
It is important because humans are often out of integrity. Happens to us all. Think about a time you committed to be at a meeting, and you were late; or, committed to be at a restaurant at a certain time, yet were late. Two simple examples. And, they happen to us all.
Being out of integrity does not automatically mean that there is a problem or an issue; what it means is that there is a need to communicate about a change to the commitment that was made. Think of the two aforementioned examples, to continue to be “in integrity” a call about being late is all that is needed. Pretty simple, really.
How does it feel when you are inspired? Pretty good, right? Yep. Well, as I’ve written about in other posts, inspiration comes from within. It is our job to create inspiration; and, being in relationship with someone that lives an inspired life can create more inspiration.
If someone you are in relationship with is not living this way, it can lead to confusion, conflict, and possible resentment. Better to be clear about this from the outset.
Further, it doesn’t mean that you will both find the same things inspirational; maybe, yet not necessarily. Being with someone that leads an inspired life, is less about being mutually inspired by the same things, though that is possible. It is more about understanding what living an inspired life is about. Looking for ways to grow individually and together. Fun.
How important is communication in your life? Yep, pretty important. In fact, it is one of the most important keys to a highly-effective relationship. Why? Because when we are communicating, we are in a relationship; and, when we are not communicating, we are not in a relationship. Simple.
And, when I write communication, I am not talking about saying good morning, and good night. Or, even, how was your day. That’s not it. Communication means you are talking about your hopes and dreams, and having hard and difficult conversations about how to move them forward.
These conversations can be very difficult; yet, being in relationship with someone is not supposed to be easy. If your relationships are easy, chances are you are simply living each day as you did the previous one; and, this is not a judgement. I lived this way for most of my life, which is why I know the difference.
Being in relationship with someone, means being in communication with them. A must.
It is also important to be who you are. When we are in a relationship where we have to be someone other than who we are, think of performance, there will be a tendency for disagreement, unhealthy conflict, and resentment.
We all change over time, even if we are not interested in change. Change is a part of being human. When we are interested in change, we may change even more. Regardless, being in a relationship where you can be who you are, at whatever stage of development you are is important.
Being who you are doesn’t mean that you are always in agreement in your relationship. In fact, there may be disagreement often. It does, however, mean that you are supported, and advocated for. Important.
Know that there are many important aspects to highly-effective relationships. Yep, some of the ones you are thinking about did not make the list. Maybe they’ll make a future list. Don’t know.
What is more important is to know that the 7 in this post are important; and, if you’ve never considered one or more of them as important, you can now do so, if you choose. Your choice.
Now, how to put them into action? A few examples.
Putting the 7 Keys into Action in Your Life
Notice when your relationship is not reciprocal. When it is out of balance, ask why, first of yourself, and then of your partner. What can be done to create more balance? Again, first of yourself, and then of your partner. Asking these questions will create a context for open communication.
Create them, and talk about them. We all need our own time, away from all things and everyone. When you’ve created a boundary, you must talk about it, or else your partner will not know about it. And, when it is transgressed, by you, or your partner, get back on track and put the boundry back in place.
Openly communicate about the support you need. As often as needed. And, if you are not getting the support you need. First question yourself. Are you supporting yourself and your partners development? If you are, ask for that same support. If you are not, start there.
When you are out of integrity, talk about it. Openly communicate when things change, or get in the way. Don’t hide from it. And, if you do, make sure to talk about it at some point. Better to be open and openly communicate than hold something that is causing confusion or a possible misunderstanding.
Create inspiration for yourself, first, and always. Ask questions of your partner – what inspires them? How do they find their inspiration? And, what do they do with that inspiration? And, share your inspiration. Once known, inspiration can become something that is talked about often.
Create contexts for open communication often. Especially when a difficult conversation is needed. Hiding from a difficult conversation will only make it more difficult for everyone. Communicate openly and often.
Be who you are, in whatever iteration you are in. Remember, being in a relationship is a choice. A choice for you, and your partner. Sometimes, it will be best to leave the relationship than sacrifice your true self.
As you think about your relationships, always remember that we are in many relationships in our personal and professional lives. Some of these keys may resonate more with you from a professional perspective, and some more from a personal one.
Either way, if you feel stagnated in your relationship, try one of these keys. If not these, then try something new. For, it is in the trying and doing of something new that we can create the change we feel we need, yet are often unsure of how to achieve.
Why is it important to understand how we learn best? It has to do with our own ability to relate with ourselves, first, and to others, second. Do you know how you learn best? Not sure? That’s pretty normal.
Though deep down you know, as I once did, most people don’t actively think about it. And, neither did I. It was not until I went back to school in my early 30’s that I fully understood how I learned best.
Alright, let’s take a look at the top 4 learning styles, and see what style resonates with you most. I also invite you to think about how else you can use these learning styles in your life. Ready? Good, here we go.
Visual learners like to see what they are learning. These learners are interested in the visualization of the work they are engaged with. Think whiteboards, flow charts, and large post-it boards.
They must see the work in order to fully take the information in, process it, and provide a meaningful response. Some people don’t know they are visual learners. If you are not sure, I suggest writing out your next project on one of the aforementioned tools, and see what happens.
As I am visual, I can provide an example here.
I don’t expect this visual to make sense, and in fact, it may shock or startle some of you. What you are looking at is how someone that is hyper-visual thinks.
The importance of getting those ideas out of one’s mind and into reality, via any tool really, is extremely important to someone that is a visual learner. Without the ability to do so, the person may get stuck. I know, I’ve been there.
Someone that learns best through sound is in the aural category. Think about someone that chooses to listen to audio books, or someone that must have someone explain a particular task or project to them through verbalizing the steps. Our youngest son is an aural learner.
For those that learn best this way, having tasks or projects written out or in visual format, as in the above whiteboard example, will not work. Or, rather, visual and written instruction will not work as effectively. Sound is the key.
Here is an example.
This is a video I created for the blog, 3 Reasons Why Avoidance is an Ineffective Strategy, and I am using it as an example of aural learning, as I am talking through a strategy in this clip. Helpful. What would not work for an aural learner, would be the written out steps to the associated diagram without the spoken explanation.
Verbal learners need to read that which they are to work on or engage with. Being able to read instructions, for example, is imperative for a verbal learner. Think about putting something together, not with a picture in mind, but with a list of steps, 1, 2, 3.
Being able to internalize the written instruction or steps, is important for a verbal learner. What would help the above video clip for a verbal learner? Yep, that’s it. If I were to write out a list of the steps that I am talking the viewer through. That would be helpful. Think of an ordered system. More comfortable for a verbal learner.
Those that learn best with their bodies are kinesthetic. These learners like to actually do something with what they are learning. They need to actually touch, feel, and practice the new information.
Though the below picture is not the best quality, it gives you an idea of a practical tool that was created intentionally to engage those that learn best by doing something with new information.
Alright, so can the learning styles be combined? Do some people learn best with a combination of the aforementioned learning styles? And, can people’s learning styles change over time?
Do some people learn best when learning styles are combined?
Yes. I am a great example of this fact. I learn best, by seeing, reading, and then hearing information. I also like to practice new information by either utilizing a worksheet, or more likely a whiteboard. I love whiteboards. I have a whiteboard wall in my work office. Excellent.
Yet, this is only how learning works best for me. I know people that need to have information explained first. A must. Then they can interact with visuals, and other types of learning styles. Why is knowing this important?
When we know how the people we are in relationship with learn best, we can support them in their learning and life. Important. And, when we assume we know, and offer support, that support, while well-intentioned, may not work.
It’s also important to know, as we have discussed, that some people may not know how they learn best. Asking them, in these instances, may not help. What can you do? You can offer them different approaches to learning, and see what fits them best.
Do learning styles change over time?
Yes. Here are a couple of reasons why learning styles change.
Because as we develop we learn new ways to process and operationalize information. We may add new learning styles to our approach to learning, and may even need to let go of approaches that no longer work.
Different contexts require different learning approaches, so in these contexts, you may need to adapt your learning style while incorporating new tools. Think of a new job, going to college, or graduate school.
You may learn, in school or at work, about a new way to learn that was previously not available to you. And, in this new learning, you may adopt a new learning style that fits you better.
Why is it important to understand how we learn?
It’s important to our own development. When we know how we learn best, we can employ strategies at home and at work that align with our learning style, which can help our retention of information and mastery of all that we do.
As I’ve mentioned in this post, I am a hyper-visual learner, therefore it will probably not surprise you to know that I have not one, nor two, but, rather, three whiteboards in my little apartment. Yep, three. Needed.
It is also important to understand how other people learn best. When we understand how our friends, family, and coworkers learn best, we can support them by advocating for, and providing learning contexts that adhere to their learning style.
We all learn differently, yet the learning process is very similar regardless of the style that fits best.
And, why did I write this post? Good Question.
Because it occurred to me that it is also important to someone that is engaging others through digital media – you, me, and many, many other people.
Whether that is via a website, social media, a blog, or some other medium. Understanding how people learn is a critical component of engagement.
In order to create the most engaging context, as many learning styles as possible should be considered, addressed, and included when possible. As I continue to develop the COVID-19 Creativity website, I will employ more strategies that include each learning style to ensure that everyone has a quality experience.
Alright, we’ve addressed the top learning styles, walked through their significance, and connection to self-development, relationship-development, and the importance of using these styles to create more engaging contexts.
Now I’m interested to learn how you’ve used learning styles in your personal and/or professional life to create more engaging contexts. What have you done; and how did it work for you, and your audience?
I’ve written about taking action, and creating change in other posts. And, how that it is one action at time that creates change. It starts with each of us. One action at a time, over time. What is fascinating is that inside of taking action, we change, and those around us have the opportunity to also change. Choice.
First, what is social change?
Social change, in sociology, [is] the alteration of mechanisms within the social structure, characterized by changes in cultural symbols, rules of behaviour, social organizations, or value systems.
Though there are various theories on how to create social change, what is more clear to me than ever before, is that it is inside of the changes we make within ourselves that we have the opportunity to effect social change. There really is no other way.
What, then, does that look like over time. For instance:
How do we know that we are creating social change?
And, is it necessary for us to know that change is happening?
Or, is it enough to act, and be content with that?
Good questions, and I’m sure you have many others. For now, let’s look at the three listed above.
How do we know that we are creating social change?
We may not. Fact. Why? Because there may be a lag between the social actions people take, and the change that may occur inside of the social and or cultural systems. Such a time lag is common, and may contribute to people remaining inactive.
What are some of the other reasons why people remain inactive?
Fear – people are afraid of what they don’t know and don’t understand. If fear is keeping them inactive, it may continue to do so.
Comfort – people like being comfortable, and even though they may disagree with something, may not act.
Someone else – people, especially today, often think someone else will do it; so there is no need to act.
Most people have a little of each of these constraints to action within them, which, when combined, can be immobilizing. Not a justification, just a reality. Add when people confuse taking action with the result of that action, you get even more immobilization.
Is it necessary for us to know that change is happening?
Though we would like to know that every action we take is creating change, it is not our responsibility to know. As was aforementioned, it is not even possible to know that change will occur, as it may not happen for years from the time we took the action.
Here is a quote about actions and results that is important.
“It’s the action, not the fruit of the action, that’s important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there’ll be any fruit. But that doesn’t mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.” -Gandhi
Within this context, it is not our job to worry about the results of our actions. When we get caught up in worrying about, or focusing on results, we become disempowered. Why?
Because we can get frustrated when we don’t see change right away, which can further immobilize us. Disempowerment.
However, please remember, that it is in the actions we take that we grow, change, and create the possibility to change ourselves and the world. Not the result. That is the knowing, and that is empowerment. You are a seed of change when you act, even if you don’t see the sprout, or the eventuality of that spout.
Is it enough to act, and be content with that?
Yes. Think about the current situation. People are acting. Simple. They are standing for something and someone – many someone’s, and the end of systematic racism. That is the action. Period. Now, that doesn’t mean people don’t want to see system-wide change.
However, staying focused on the present actions is how system-wide change has the best opportunity to occur. Actions combined, again and again, over time. One step, then another, then another. Simple. Yet, complex. A paradox.
Action devoid of a present result is not wasted effort. Think about any of the largest social changes in history, and they are all predicated on, and connected to, actions someone else took earlier in history. All of them.
Taken together, then, you have a cascade of actions over space and time, which are all connected, and interdependent. And, they DO add up, and they do create change.
What can you do?
Take action. One. Then another. Then another.How?
I taught a social justice class for a time, and the final project for that class was to create a plan for how you, as the student, were going to create local change. Where would you start?
Many of the students were confused about the task. They thought about social change as something that happens in an instant on a grand scale. While this is definitely possible, it is not as likely as social change that occurs over time. When they were clear about the task, they came up with some amazing social projects.
They were local grassroots projects, which is how most social change occurs. Why? Because local people decide to take action. And, inside of that action, as we’ve discussed in this post, there is the possibility that others will follow, and take action, changing with you. Beautiful.
When you are wondering how to get involved, how to create change, start by looking at what you want to change within yourself.
Once you have discovered that thread, pull on it a little, and take action. Then another. Then another. You may find along the way that you are creating the social change you’ve been searching for.
Avoid much? We all do. However, some of us avoid more than others. Might that be you? It was me for a long time. Why do you imagine avoidance is an ineffective strategy? Not sure. Let’s take a look at three reasons why.
3 reasons why avoidance is an ineffective strategy
1. It is not healthy
When we avoid things, we are, in effect, continuing to hold those things within us. Continue to do that, and you will be carrying around a lot of unnecessary baggage. Tiring.
You would think that by avoiding things we are uncomfortable with, do not want to do, or face, that we are creating more space within us. However, that is not the way it works. It’s the idea of the situation we are faced with that will continue to haunt us. Especially, if we believe deep down that we should be doing that thing, or facing that situation.
Let me give you an example
For a long time, I did not pay attention to my calendar. Now, in the position I am currently in, that ineffective strategy will not work for long. At that time, I knew that I should be paying more attention to my calendar, working to schedule myself more effectively, however, I ignored it. Why?
I simply didn’t want to take the time needed to work through it. Simple. Instead, I avoided it at all costs. What happened? People began to ask why my calendar was such a mess. Nice. I love when those we trust inquire, and make us think. Helpful. As was digging into my calendar and making the necessary adjustments.
Before doing the work in my calendar, it bothered me every time I looked at it. However, by organizing and prioritizing my calendar, I traded a fixed amount of time to do the work, with a continuous mental distraction. More effective.
2. It keeps you stuck
When we spend our mental energy on avoiding things, we have less mental capacity to try and do new things. Essentially, we sacrifice some of our creative potential. How much is sacrificed? Depends on how much you avoid things. If you avoid often, then your creative potential will be severely impacted.
And, being stuck is no fun. Often, people are not even aware that they are stuck; nor do they recognize that they are avoiding things. The years I spent avoiding, I was aware of some of my avoidance, most I was not.
Here is another example
As I’ve written about in other posts, there was a time when I drank a lot. Too much. I knew that there was an issue, however, I made justifications and excuses for my behavior. Sort of a double burden. As my avoidance of the real issue, which at the time I was unaware of, was compounded by creating excuses and justifications. Exhausting. Really.
And, ultimately not helpful. Not physically, mentally, or spiritually. When living this way, you end up on the proverbial hamster wheel. Doing the same thing every day, knowing you are doing it, making excuses and justifications for doing so, all the while staying in place. No movement.
3. You cannot grow
When we are avoiding, we are not moving; and, if we are not moving, we are not growing. Simple.
Growth is such an important part of the human experience. Some growth just comes our way. We didn’t invite it, yet it shows up on our doorstep. Some growth we actively seek out. We look for the opportunity. Either way, having experiences that help us grow is one of the most wonderful things about being human.
Yet, when we spend large amounts of time avoiding things, we are limiting our ability to grow. Why? Because, when we spend that much time avoiding things, we have no capacity to seek out growth opportunities. We are too busy. Too busy avoiding, and making excuses and justifications for why we are avoidant.
When I was working in the private sector, I took on a new assignment with a new sales team, and within 6-months, I was exhausted, and heavily avoidant. I went from a top-performing team, to a team that was in need of development. As was I.
Instead of welcoming the growth opportunity, however, I avoided it, and actually ended up leaving the company within another 3 months. Why? I was exhausted. That is true. Yet, why I was exhausted had less to do with the work, and more to do with my mental attitude.
I was avoiding the opportunity to grow, and making excuses and justifications for why it wasn’t working. Well, the only thing that wasn’t working was my thinking. And, that is okay. It is not a judgement. It happens to people all the time.
The point is to become aware of these types of opportunities. Being aware of how we avoid things creates the opportunity to better understand ourselves, and all of those around us. It also provides us the opportunity to grow, if we choose to engage with ourselves, inquire into our avoidance, and do something about it.
What can you do?
Here are three strategies I use to get out of my avoidance, and into action.
Notice when you are avoiding something, and write it down – wiring it down creates more awareness about whatever it is that you are avoiding.
Create time to reflect and contemplate – create the time necessary to better understand why you are avoiding the task or situation. Until you really know why, you will probably not move forward in that area of your life.
Take an action – once you are clear on why you are avoiding something, take an action. Create a context to make some progress on the task or situation. It doesn’t mean that it will be complete, or solved, however, you will have moved forward.
When we are less avoidant, we have more time, more creative capacity, and more energy to do more things. Essentially, we can hold more. And, when we can hold more, and do more, we can be more.
Remember, we are all at times avoidant. Yet, if you find yourself more avoidant than you’d like to be, try some of the strategies outlined above, and get yourself moving again.
I’m sure countless blog posts have been written about how to “deal” with writer’s block. Though I’ve only been blogging for a couple of months, I have been writing for over 10 years.; meaning that I am interested in this topic, as it happens to me from time to time. Further, I’m interested in ideas you have, and strategies you use to become unblocked.
A couple questions to guide the conversation
When does writer’s block affect you most?
What happens when you are blocked?
How often do you have writer’s block?
What strategies do you use to unblock yourself?
Alright, so in this post then, I will address these questions from my standpoint, and then invite you to comment on your’s.
When does writer’s block affect you most?
Interestingly, I’m not sure there is a pattern I can discern about the timing of writer’s block for me. I know that there are times when writing is easy. When the words just flow through me and onto the page. I once thought that “being in the flow”, was a product of feeling more inspired about a piece. I’m not sure if that is actually the case. Why?
Because there are other times when I’m not necessarily feeling all that inspired by a piece, and the words are harder to come by, yet they do come. In time. Some of it, I think, has to do with being patient. With not forcing the writing, but letting it come in it’s time.
I cannot tell you how many times in the past 10 years I’ve left a particular piece, to only pick it back up again later, with a renewed interest and insight. Often. I think this actually happens more with blogging. I’ve got at least 4 or 5 pieces that are in my drafts at this moment. When will they get finished? Your guess is as good as mine. I guess when it’s time.
What happens when you are blocked?
I’ve addressed this a little, yet will expand a little more here. When I am feeling blocked, it’s as if I know what I want to write, yet the process is not really working for me at the moment. Sometimes, as aforementioned, for several moments, which can last days. Depends.
The piece I wrote on the sound of rainfall yesterday took several days to complete; and, when I look at it, I am confused as to why that is. It’s a very small piece, yet did take more time. Conversely, the piece I wrote, which I think was my longest post thus far, about the sociological imagination, though much longer, only took a couple of hours. The words just came.
There was a time when I would force the writing. This is not a strategy I recommend. The reason is simple. Because when you force writing, like anything, you are immediately in a space of frustration, and that will make its way into your writing. Not so helpful. Instead, what I typically do is back away from the keyboard, and just let the piece sit.
How often do you have writer’s block?
It happens a couple of times a month. I should also mention that I write everyday. So, there is that. How often you are blocked might be a product of how often you write. Not sure.
Sometimes I am so blocked about a particular topic that I just let it sit. I will go back to it occasionally, yet may or may not pick it up again. At this time, I have a couple different posts that are sitting in my drafts that I may or may not ever finish. Don’t know.
I do know that I believe that if they are meant to be finished, they will be. And, if not, they won’t be. And, at this point in my life, I am okay with that.
What strategies do you use to unblock yourself?
There are several strategies that I use to unblock myself. They all depend on the context. Here are a few with context.
I’m having a hard time even coming up with a new idea – when this happens to me, I go on a long walk. I usually walk every other day, so it may be an extra walk I put into my week, or the one that I am already planning to take. Either way, I think best when I am away from everyone and everything.
Write everything down – particularly when I am blocked, yet I do this all the time, when I have new ideas, I write them down. Anywhere, on anything. Sometimes, I put them on a post-it, sometimes on my whiteboard, and sometimes on my phone. Doesn’t matter, I make sure to capture them somewhere.
Go through my ideas – one of my favorite strategies to use when I am blocked is to go through the ideas I’ve been collecting. Sometimes that works, sometimes not. Depends. Either way, having ideas to draw upon is very helpful.
Take a day off – not a strategy that I employ often, yet have done so. Taking some time away from writing, like anything, can provide more clarity, and the space for new ideas to generate.
I’m sure there are other strategies I could capture here, however, the ones listed above are by far my favorites.
Well, if you haven’t tried one of the strategies listed above, try one, try more than one. For me, it is about trying something. Making sure to take action to provide yourself the space to ponder and reflect. And, then to see what comes.
It is actually in times when I’ve been the most blocked that I’ve come up with some of my best ideas. Some have made their way to the page, some will at some point. When? Don’t know. And, for me, that’s some of the fun of writing. The expectation of the new idea, the process of getting that idea out, then onto the page. The fun in playing with the idea until there is a level of satisfaction, and it is ready to post. Fun.
Alright, now I would like to hear from you. I am inviting you to post to the four questions above, as I’ve done in this post. A collaboration of sorts. If we can get enough people to post, I will commit to collecting those ideas, and creating a new post with all of our ideas. That would be fun. And, that is an idea that just came to me now. Creativity. Love it.
Do you like the sound of rainfall? Though I’ve never liked being out in the rain all that much, I do like to listen to the rain. There is something quite soothing about the sound of rainfall.
The simple pitter patter of rain as it hits the roof of a house, cascading down on its way to the rain gutter, eventually emptying onto the street below.
When I was a kid, I remember lying in my bed on rainy nights, and focusing on the sound. I love that sound. Rain reminds me of comfort, shelter, and protection. I’m not sure why this is so, yet it is.
There are also different types of rain. The kind that comes down so hard that when you are out in it, you are drenched in minutes, or even less. When we were on the East Coast a couple of years ago, we were in a rain storm like that, phew. LOTS of rain.
I remember running into a store to buy something for our trip, and by the time I was at the store’s entrance, I was completely soaked. Funny. It was late summer, in Philadelphia, I think, and was warm, so in some ways it felt rather refreshing.
Then there is the rain that just drizzles, or mists, all the time. More like how the rain falls where I live now. You can be out in this type of misting rain for a long time without becoming very wet. Yet, it does rain a lot here, so it depends on how long you plan to be out in it.
There is also the type of rain that accomanies a monsoon. When we were in Arizona, we got this type of rain. Not all that often, yet when there is a monsoon, you can get a lot of rain, sometimes in a very short period of time.
Sometimes monsoons come in the late summer, and can feel awfully refreshing. Sort of like a cleansing of the very arid and hot desert. Needed.
Rain is something that we need. When you live in certain parts of the country, you may not get much, sort of like when you live in Los Angeles; so, when it does rain, it is needed, and welcomed. Well, maybe not by everyone. Yet they would probably even agree that it is needed.
In the Pac Northwest, not an issue. Plenty of rain here. Really only doesn’t rain about two months a year, July and August, and even in those two months, you can get rain. Interesting that I now live in an area with so much rain. Paradoxically enjoyable.
I like to listen and be in the rain the most at the coast. There is something about rain hitting water, whether that is a lake, river, stream, or the ocean. I love the sound of rainfall most in these contexts.
For me, it is like getting the best of two of my favorite sounds. As I wrote about inThe Sound of Series #1: The Sound of the Ocean, I love the sound of the ocean. The coming in and going back out of the tide, and when you add in rainfall, you get both that pitter, patter, of rain, along with those lovely inhalations and exhalations of the sea. I do truly love the sound of rainfall.
Have you ever tried to meditate? Been through classes on meditation, yet continue to struggle to do so? You are not alone. It is too often the case that people take “meditation” classes or yoga classes, and yet struggle to have an experience they feel should be reminiscent of meditation. Sound familiar?
Well, let’s take a look at three simple steps that you can take to create the space you need to take up a practice that’s been on this planet for thousands of years. And, we will take a look at these three steps in just four minutes. Ready? Alright, let’s go.
Step 1: Quite Space
First, you must find a space that is quite, away from distractions, as much as possible. Then, let those around you know that you need this time to be alone. One of the biggest challenges in creating a meditation practice, is creating the space you need to do so. And, you are the one that needs to create this space.
You can create this space, by creating a new boundary with those closest to you. Let them know that this is your time, and is needed, and necessary. Sounds simple, yet most people have boundary issues, and may push on the boundry you are creating. Hold firm. This is your time, and you deserve it.
When I started meditating almost three years ago, the above referenced boundary issue was something that I struggled with. Yes, you also have to hold yourself accountable to create that boundary within yourself. Important. If you don’t hold to the boundary you are creating, no one else will. And, you will be continuously interrupted. What will it take?
It will take you creating that boundary over and over again. Eventually, those closest to you will get that you are serious, and leave you alone. Be persistent.
Step 2: Focus on Your Breathing
The first year of my meditation practice, I called it breathing. Why? Because I didn’t know how to breath properly. Most people don’t. That’s okay. You can learn.
Here is what my first year looked like
3 to 6 months – breathing for 5 minutes at a time, several times a day.
6 months to year 1 – breathing 15 minutes at a time, twice a day – once in the morning and once in the evening.
And, here is what years 2 and 3 have looked like
Year 1 to 18 months – meditating 20 to 30 minutes at a time, twice a day – once in the morning and once in the evening.
18 months to year 2 – meditating 30 to 45 minutes at time, twice a day – once in the morning, and once in the evening.
Year 2 to today – meditating 45 minutes to 1 hour at a time, mostly once a day, though sometimes twice. Second time being 30 minutes in the evening.
The important thing to note, and remember, is that it’s taken almost 3 years to go from breathing for 5 minutes, to meditating for an hour most days. Slow. Creating a meditation practice is not about how fast you can do it. It’s about taking your time, yet being persistent. Building the healthy habit, slowly and methodically.
Alright, when you are ready, here is a guide to your first 5-minute breathing exercise
Sit comfortably. You DO NOT have to sit in the lotus position. Actually I recommend not sitting like that. Simply sit in a sturdy chair, back straight, yet relaxed, hands resting on your thighs.
Set a timer, or a meditation app, if you have one for 5 minutes.
Close your eyes, and take a couple deep breaths, breathing in through your nose, and out through your nose. Slowly, deeply.
Now, breath normally, still in through your nose, and out your nose. And, as you breath in focus your attention on the air making its way through your nostrils – can you feel the cool air coming in? If not, that’s okay, then focus on the tip of your nose. If you can, focus on the air coming in through your nostrils.
As thoughts arsie, let them. If you begin to focus on them, that’s okay. When you begin to focus on a thought, simply bring your attention back to the air coming in through your nostrils, or back on the end of your nose.
And continue to repeat the above again and again. Thoughts arise, you notice, may even engage with them, then notice you are engaging, and refocus on your breath. Again, and again.
If you’ve just completed your first 5 minutes of breathing, nice job. You are on your way.
Step 3: Practice
Whether you are meditating for 5 minutes at a time, or an hour. Creating and maintaining a meditation practice, takes just that, practice. You must be willing to make meditation a priority in your life. It is like any healthy habit we want to develop; it takes persistence to build a regular habit.
The coolest thing about developing this habit, is that once you’ve done it for a couple of months, you will demand that space of yourself. Really, you will. You will hold yourself accountable to create that space; and, as you hold yourself to that standard, those closest to you, if they aren’t getting it, will.
And, the more you practice, the more benefits you will realize about incorporating meditation into your life. There are many. One of my favorite benefits, is that I have time for myself. Time to be quiet, away from all technology, and all people. We all need that time.
Practicing meditation is about learning how to focus your attention, as your mind continues to be busy. And, believe me, it will be. Yet, as we’ve discussed, let the thoughts come. It’s okay. And, as they come, notice when you are paying attention to them, instead of your breathing, and then refocus your attention on your breath.
Remember, creating a meditative practice takes time. Building this practice is not something that will happen overnight. It won’t, so relieve yourself of that pressure right now; and when you are ready, find a quiet space, focus on your breathing, and practice.