The Reflection Series Part 5: What Does it Mean to Live and Love a Communicative Life

A 3-minute Reflection on How Communication Shapes Our Daily Experience

Photo by Chris Murray on Unsplash

Well, I just finished, The Reflection Series Part 4: What Do Coaching, Communication, and Insight Have in Common?, and I’ve continued to think both about relationships and communication. Why?

Because they both shape so much of our daily experience. In this 3-minute reflection, we will take a look at communication first, and then? Maybe relationships next time.

Right, so let’s define communication real quick.

communication

noun /kəˌmjuːnɪˈkeɪʃn/ /kəˌmjuːnɪˈkeɪʃn/

[uncountable] the activity or process of expressing ideas and feelings or of giving people information

[uncountable](also communications [plural])methods of sending information, especially phones, radio, computers, etc. or roads and railways

Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries

There we go. Now, let’s unpack this a little.

Photo by Gursimrat Ganda on Unsplash

Expressing Ideas and Feelings

Self-expression is one of the most empowering experiences. Being able to feel and say what is needed. Important. Often, people hold back, as I once did, for the sake of “not rocking the boat,” or fear of reprisal. The issue?

When we hold back how we feel and what we think, we are actually still continuing to communicate those feelings and thoughts. Though, because we’ve been holding back, they will come out in a less than productive communicative way.

Today I find it better to express the truth about how I feel and what I think, even when, and, maybe, most importantly when, it means how I feel and what I think may spur a difficult conversation. It is really okay, and is needed.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Sending Information

We communicate more about how we feel and how we think nonverbally than we do verbally. That is the truth. Which is why it is so important to be transparent with ourselves, first, about how we feel, and what we think, and then to communicate that to those we care about.

Again, if we choose to not communicate how we feel and what we think, we will still communicate these feelings and thoughts through nonverbal communication.

Whether that is an skance glance or gesture, or some other form of nonverbal cue. And? People close to us will pick up on it, even if they are unconcious of it, and, yep, will react to it. The issue?

When we lead communicative experiences that are healthy and transparent, we have the opportunity to create a context that is free of the fear of reprisal, or the inauthentic experience of “not rocking the boat.”

By the way, when we actively try to “not rock the boat,” know that the boat is probably already rocking. And?

It can be settled a bit by being open and communicative about how we feel and what we think.

Photo by Naassom Azevedo on Unsplash

Shaping Our Experience

Communication really does shape our experience. As my awareness has grown over the past three years, I am able to notice when my nonverbal cues are picked up on by other people, and, likewise, when I pick up on theirs.

It is an interesting experience, and is one that is ultimately empowering. We have the potential to create contexts that are communicatively healthy once we are aware. Aware of just how important healthy communication is, both verbal and nonverbal.

We all get frustrated, and, yes, even angry sometimes. That happens to us all. It is part of being human.

However, it is important to practice communicating with others when we feel this way; and, to take the time necessary to understand why we are frustrated or angry in the first place.

For, as we know, when we are frustrated or angry, we are not frustrated or angry because of what other people are doing. We are frustrated or angry with how we are thinking and feeling about what other people are doing, or what we are doing, or not doing. It’s always that way.

All communication starts with us. How we communicate with ourselves is the beginning for how we ultimately communicate with others. And?

When we take the time to communicate with ourselves, which includes listening, we understand ourselves that much better; and, we also understand the people we love and care about that much better too.

And, for me? That’s what it means to live and love a communicative life. It’s about taking the time to practice communication. Practice communicating with ourselves, yes, and then with everyone else. It is quite lovely.

#communication, #emotionalintelligence, #expressinghowwefeel, #expressinghowwethink, #feelingandthinking, #healthycommunication, #mindfulness, #nonverbalcues, #self-expression, #selfdevelopment, #thoughtsandfeelings

The Reflection Series Part 1: What Does it Mean to Be Alive?

A 3-Minute Reflection on Being Alive and Experiencing Aliveness

Photo by ben o’bro on Unsplash

It’s interesting to title a post as a reflection series, as every post and/or article that I write is a reflection. Really. All of them. A reflection of myself and the world. Yep. And?

Well, I wanted a place to create a similar dialogue, conversation, and discussion with you in a shorter format. Yes, yes, it’s true. I do tend to write, and write, and sometimes, even write more. My challenge, then? Good question.

My challenge in this series will be to connect with you similarly , yet to do so in under 3-minutes. The next question? Yep, that’s it. Can he do it?

Don’t know. Yet, I do know that I’ll have fun finding out. Ready? Alright, here we go.

A 3-Minute Reflection on Alive and Aliveness

What does being alive really mean? I mean, really? Have you ever pondered what it means to be alive, to know your alive, to really feel alive, and the resulting aliveness, if you will? Hm.

As you reflect upon those questions, let’s take a look at what I see.

When I was growing up, being alive simply meant not being dead. Really. You were alive, that’s all. You breathed in and out, and you did this or that, whatever this or that was, and you lived your life. Yep.

Yet, as I’ve aged, and developed, I’ve come to think about being alive differently. Being alive, or experiencing aliveness, is different from simply accepting, passively, that you are alive, as in my aforementioned example.

Aliveness, for me, is an active activity. Yep, I did just use active and activity back to back.

Right, so being alive is about feeling, loving, working, being, and doing, and doing so intentionally. Creating our intention to live the fullest life possible, whatever that looks like to you, or me, or anyone for that matter.

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

There is an important distinction here. Let’s spell it out more clearly.

  • Passively alive – reality happens to me.
  • Active aliveness – I create my reality.

A very important distinction. Why?

Because when we believe that reality happens to us, our locus of control, stay with me, is pointed outward; whereas, when we believe that we create our reality, or locus of control is pointed inward. Very important distinction.

Locus of control? Yep, here we go.

People with internal locus of control tend to expect reinforcements (1) to be the consequences of their own efforts or behavior, whereas people with external locus of control expect them to be the consequences of chance, luck, fate, or the actions of powerful others.

Oxford Reference

There we go.

Basically, locus of control is how we think about the world, and our place in it. Do we believe that we create our life, or is the creation of our life in the hands of someone else.

Now, there are two more important distinctions here. Ready? Here we go.

  1. Locus of control is not a binary – meaning that how people view their reality, and the creation of it, lives on a continuum.
  2. Locus of control is psychological and also philosophical – we will look at the former in this post, and, maybe, the latter in a later one.

Now, when we believe that we create our reality, that our actions cause change in the world, change for us, and change for others; we have an internal locus of control. And?

Photo by Jasmine Coro on Unsplash

And, if we regularly act on this internal locus of control, creating the life we want to live, one action at a time, we will experience more aliveness.

More feeling, more joy, more of, well, everything; and, this moreness in this example, if you will, does also include sadness. Why?

Because we are living more, doing more, creating more, risking more, loving more. Well, doing everything more, so it does follow that we will experience more joy, and also more sadness. It works that way.

Yet, we need not think about experiencing more sadness as a problem or an issue. It’s not. It is beautiful, because we are creating and living out our own authentic life. Fun.

The point?

Remembering that we are the creators of our experience, and, thus, our life.

We create our life, feel our life, and live our life via our intention. An intention about the aliveness we want to experience, which we create in every moment of every day. Now, and, now, and now. Just like that.

Phew. Did I make it?

Be wellness. Be aliveness.

#activealiveness, #alive, #aliveness, #creatingyourlife, #creatingyourreality, #experiencingaliveness, #externallocusofcontrol, #humandevelopment, #internallocusofcontrol, #mindfulness, #psychology, #selfdevelopment, #selfimprovement

Why Curiosity Didn’t Kill The Cat: 7 Reasons Why Remaining Curious Can Move You From a Fixed Mindset to a Growth Mindset

As I was walking back to my office this past week, and I entered into the breezeway just around the corner from my office, I looked up just as I came under the overhanging second floor. Why?

To see if the second floor was aligned with the top of the building. Wait, what? Yes, I did. Why, you ask?

Photo by Juan Encalada on Unsplash

Curiosity.

I’ve been more present to my own curiosity, and sense of wonder, this past week.

Do you remember being a child, when everything, and I mean, everything was curious to you. Yep, me too.

Though early childhood memories are often fuzzy, I can remember that feeling of inner-joy as I explored every inch of my environment. Every inch.

I think retaining that childlike wonder and active curiosity about our lives and the world is important to our own development.

Alright, well, let’s see what others think of curiosity, shall we.

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” Albert Einstein

Awaken the Greatness Within

“Life must be lived and curiosity kept alive.” Eleanor Roosevelt

Awaken the Greatness Within

“Don’t let anyone rob you of your imagination, your creativity, or your curiosity. It’s your place in the world; it’s your life. Go on and do all you can with it, and make it the life you want to live.” Mae Jemison

Awaken the Greatness Within

There are so many good quotes about staying curious. Why? Well, let’s take a look at why; yet, as always, I’d like to first define curiosity. Here we go.

curiosity

noun  /ˌkjʊəriˈɒsəti/ /ˌkjʊriˈɑːsəti/(plural curiosities)Idioms

[uncountable, singular] curiosity (about something) | curiosity (to do something) a strong desire to know about something

Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries

There. When we remain curious, we are actively acknowledging there is much more in the world to know about than is known. Yes, by us, and by everyone else for that matter.

I’ve written many times about the known and unknown, and, essentially, that it is the space between the two where people choose to grow or not.

We can choose to go back towards what is comfortable, known, and remain as we are today; or, we can choose to go towards what may be uncomfortable, unknown, and grow.

Those that are naturally curious, are intrigued by the smallest things in life. Things that other people might pass right by without even noticing.

In fact, I think people that are curious have a keen awareness of themselves, which means they also have a keen awareness of the world around them.

Photo by sergio souza on Unsplash

Alright, then, here are

7 Reasons Why Remaining Curious Can Move You From a Fixed Mindset to a Growth Mindset

1. Recognition of the unknown

When we know that there is much more to learn about the world, and everyone in it, than we actually know, we are instantly curious.

Being curious is about being real with ourselves about all that we know, and all that we don’t.

Just writing that last paragraph makes me smile. Smile because I know everytime I leave my house, there is an opportunity to learn something from someone. Always curious. Fun.

2. Replacing what is known with new knowns

And, as we learn more about the world from other people, we get to replace some of our knowns with new knowns. How?

Well, humans often get stuck inside of limited thinking. Thinking that because they are an expert in a certain field, that their learning is complete. No so.

Photo by Rita Morais on Unsplash

Every topic and subject is incomplete from a perspective of all there is to learn. Really. Every topic and subject.

When you are in a conversation with someone that proposes that their perspective is the final perspective on a topic, you can smile internally knowing that is not so, and remain curious about the topic.

I guarantee you there is more to learn and to know.

3. Remaining hopeful about the future

When we are curious, we are naturally hopeful about the future. We have to be. Why? Because being curious means believing in a future where growth and new possibilities flourish.

More, it means actively creating that future every day. One idea, goal, or dream and corresponding action at a time. Beautiful.

4. Recreating ourselves each day

Curiosity, like all things, starts within. When we do our internal work, inquiring into why we think and feel the way we do, we are actively interested in recreating ourselves often. Every day, in fact. Really.

In each moment lives the possibility of something new, a new possibility for that moment, and then, yes, the corresponding context, and the greater world. It starts with us, and goes out from there.

Photo by Bhargava Marripati on Unsplash

5. Regenerating our sense of self in each moment

And, as we recreate ourselves, we also create a new sense of self. We let go of the person we were, and welcome the developmental iterations that will come as a byproduct of our own curiosity and interest in ourselves.

And, guess what?

When we treat ourselves with this kind of respect, that respect, along with the curiosity and interest, go out to others. It will infect them with a renewed sense of who they are as a human being.

Wonderful to watch and be a part of.

6. Reinventing the contexts we engage with

As we recreate ourselves each day, we also reinvent the contexts that we’re engaged with. Why?

Because, as we recreate ourselves, we are leading a transformational process that will affect everyone around us. It has to.

And, as we reinvent our contexts, we get to invite other people to participate in our curiosity. Our curiosity, yes, about ourselves, first, and then our curiosity with other people, the work they do, the possibilities we see as a product of the work we are doing in ourselves. Much fun.

7. Remembering our truth

When we remember our truth about the human being we are, and the future human being we are actively creating each day, we stay curious. Curiosity is a transformational practice.

When we remain curious, we get stuck less often. We feel more connected to ourselves and to everyone else around us.

We are, in effect, living our lives as a child would, full of wonder and hope. Knowing that dreams do come true, because we actively see them come true all the time.

When we live our truth, we see the world through a whole new lens; and, part of that lens is a lens of the curious being that we are all meant to be.

Photo by Jorge Flores on Unsplash

When we are actively curious, question all things, we are living in a growth mindset, which really just means that we are open to learning about all things from all people.

We are open, flexible, and eager to learn.

A growth mindset is about learning as much as we can, and then using that knowledge to create the life we want to live. Each and every day.

Curiously pondering everything around us, wondering, dreaming, and then taking all that we learn and applying it to our lives.

Stay curious and apply all that you learn well.

#curiosity, #curiosityandgrwoth, #curious, #developingagrowthmindset, #fixedmindset, #growthanddevelopment, #growthmindset, #humandevelopment, #mindfulness, #selfdevelopment, #selfimprovement

Storytellers and Meaning-Makers Part 1: 5 Ways to Create More Power Over Your Current Reality

Photo by Melanie Deziel on StoryFuel.co

I’ve written several posts about the fact that human beings develop narratives about what they know, what they see, and what they are told. All of us do. We are natural storytellers, and meaning makers. It is how we make sense of the world. However, there is an issue here. Can you see it?

As we create stories about our reality, about what we believe to be true about the world, we can get stuck inside of faulty thinking. And, inside of this faulty thinking, we can begin to create realities, which are not really real. Yep, it’s true.

Example? Okay. 

Right now, on the west coast of the United States we have a raging wildfire issue. At this same time, we are living in a pandemic, and have people all across the country in the streets, like they have been in Portland, OR, for months, protesting against systematic and institutional racism. The issue with the latter, of course, is not the protesting, it is the fact that systematic and institutional racism still exists.

Okay, what’s the issue with these issues, you ask? Hm. Let me explain it this way. Here you go.

Photo by Anne Nygård on Unsplash

Connecting Disparate Events and Situations

I’ve talked to several people this past week that are connecting these disparate events, creating stories about the compound effect of this year. However, these issues, while severe and highly problematic, are not connected. They are separate, and are just happening.

Because we are storytellers and meaning-makers we create something more out of what is happening than is really happening. We make these connections. That we do this is not a judgment or a demerit. It is how we are programmed.

However, it doesn’t help our mental health when we connect disparate events. Why? Because when we do, we can go into overwhelm more easily, and start blaming these situations on other people, and, yes, even ourselves. It happens all the time.

Think about a time when you failed a test, or didn’t get a job; and, in that same week or during that same timeframe, a friend or coworker upset you, and then a family member did something you didn’t expect, which also upset you. Well, did you pull these events apart, or did you rather, like most humans, connect them? Important distinction.

If you did connect them, you are not a problem. You are human.

Understanding that our brains work this way instantly creates a new awareness, which can be used to our advantage. How? By understanding that when events happen, they just happen.

We may not like them, or understand them, however, that is part of life. And, these events that just happen are not connected to each other. They are separate.

When we fully grasp this, we have more power over our reality and our life. How? Hm, okay. Here are 5 ways you can create more power over your reality by understanding that disparate events are just that, disparate.

Photo by Ian Stauffer on Unsplash

5 Ways to Create More Power Over Your Reality

  1. Notice when you are making connections between events that are disconnected the first step is always to create more awareness about how our mind works. Knowing that all human beings are storytellers and meaning-makers instantly creates a new awareness. Now that this awareness is there, notice when you are making connections between disparate events. Just notice.
  2. Pull those events apart, separate them – when you start to create stories about your reality, which include connecting events or pieces of information that are disconnected, you can pull them apart. Separate them, and leave them that way. More power.
  3. Reorient yourself to the current reality – now that these events, situations, and or information have been separated, you can reorient yourself to the reality as it is, instead of the reality you’ve been creating. Be with that reality, connect with it, really see it as it is. 
  4. Notice the difference in how you feel – as you practice noticing your mind and how the mind connects disparate events and information, notice how you feel. How do you feel when you have the power to pull those events apart? Empowered, maybe? Excellent. If you don’t feel empowered right away, don’t worry, keep practicing.
  5. Repeat – building healthy habits, as has been aforementioned, takes practice. Humans also like patterns, or habits, so continue to practice noticing. It takes time. Know though that the only way to become experienced in this practice, like anything, takes doing it again and again. There is no one way, and there is not right and wrong. There is just doing. Again, and again, and again. And, you will get better at it.

There we go. Now what?

Well, if you are so inclined to do so, practice. If not, that’s okay. What I can say is that there was a time when I suffered from terrible anxiety. Much of my anxiety had to do with the stories in my head, which were, of course, not really real.

They were created through habitual thinking. Through connecting disparate events about the world, myself in the world, and about information contained in my head.

You do have a choice. Today, right now. You can choose a different path. One with more power, and empowerment. It takes time. Yet, anything worthwhile always does.

Be well. Choose well.

#connectingdispirateevents, #covid-19, #creatingmorepoweroveryourreality, #creatingpower, #developingnarratives, #development, #faultythinking, #growth, #growthmindset, #humandevelopment, #institutionalracism, #makingmeaning, #meaningmaking, #mindfulness, #psychology, #reality, #selfdevelopment, #stories, #storytelling, #systematicracism, #thepowerofchoice, #wildfires

The Blog + Video Series 2: Writing and Life Series #4 – On Pain and Healing Through Writing

How many of you write as a release? Write to get the ideas, thoughts, concerns, dreams, wishes, and hopes out of your head and into a format that you can read and reflect upon. Yes, no? Maybe?

For most of my life, I didn’t. I didn’t regularly write out any of the aforementioned. Not because I wouldn’t have found it beneficial, more because I didn’t really know how. Sounds funny. It is true though.

I would tinker with writing here and there, yet never really developed a system to do so. What I realize now is that having a systematic way you write, or enter into any creative process is, at least for me, very helpful.

It is how I can continue to do so. To write through my pain and heal.

I find that writing of any kind, on a whiteboard, in a journal, in a computer document, anything, is very therapeutic. Why? Because you can then study what you are thinking, instead of simply thinking about it.

There is an important distinction here.

If you only ever think about something, you don’t really do anything with it, with the exception of maybe obsessing over it or worrying about it. Which, in the end, does nothing to move you forward as a human being.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is anh-nguyen-v-nbxj3yv5o-unsplash.jpg
Photo by Anh Nguyen on Unsplash

What are some of the writing strategies I use to work through my pain and heal?

I have several different ways that I get ideas out of myself and into the world. And, all of them work well. For, it is really less about the strategy, than that you develop the habit of writing through any situation or context that you find yourself in. From pain toward healing.

Here are some strategies I use daily.

  1. Whiteboards – I have three at home, and many at work, which include a complete whiteboard wall in my office. Very helpful. And, yes, there is also pain and healing that happens at work. It’s not just in our personal life that we need a release for our pain, whether that is frustration or some other emotion we are working through. I actually think that it is in the writing, considering, and working through the pain that healing occurs.
  2. Post-its – on the go, these work very well. I will typically then collect them on a piece of paper, or tape them to a larger 2’x3′ post-it, so that I can play with the ideas. See what’s there, and what possibilities I can see for moving forward.
  3. Journaling – I don’t write in a journal as often today, yet it is still a strategy that I recommend. Especially if you are new to writing about your own pain.

Those are the top three I’ve used, and use daily. And, they all work well, and can be used in combination. Example.

I will also tape post-it’s to pieces of paper, and put them on my magnetic whiteboard. Good visual, and easy to move around, and play with.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is paul-hanaoka-4zah0dggomi-unsplash.jpg
Photo by Paul Hanaoka on Unsplash

Why write through your pain to heal?

Because we all need the release. When we hold all of our pain inside, we cannot heal. It will reside within us, and actually make us ill. Not helpful.

Moving forward from pain, especially deep pain, requires visiting that pain often. Understanding it, working on it, and eventually releasing it. Carrying it around is unnecessary, though many people live this way.

Writing opens us up, and is a safe way to get out that which resides within. There are many different ways to write about pain. You can simply write about the pain, or you can create poems, or other stories about the pain.

What matters more than the writing medium you use, is that you provide yourself the opportunity to heal. Very important.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is jude-beck-j7jocq7lkay-unsplash.jpg
Photo by Jude Beck on Unsplash

Know also that it takes time to heal. You may write about something that is causing you pain, and not know healing from that pain for some time. For me, it also takes reflecting upon the pain in my writing.

When I can sit and contemplate that pain, I can see more, and have new insights. It is common for me to go back to something I’ve written several times before I can see a pathway to healing. Very normal.

How can you get started?

Start writing. Write on anything and at any time. Get your pain out of you and into the world so you can actually see it, and work on it. Important.

If you leave your pain inside of you, that is where it will always remain. Literally.

Choose times that work best for you, and create a habit of writing often. For it is in the healthy habit that you create to write about your pain often, that you have the best opportunity to know healing from that pain, and all pain.

Developing a healthy writing habit that is honest and reflective of the pain that lives inside of you creates a connection between your mind and your heart. And, it is inside of the connection between the two that all healing lives.

Write well and heal well.

#healing, #health, #internal-work, #introspection, #mindfulness, #pain, #self-development, #wellbeing, #writing, #writing-habits

Writing and Life Series #4: On Pain and Healing Through Writing

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

How many of you write as a release? Write to get the ideas, thoughts, concerns, dreams, wishes, and hopes out of your head and into a format that you can read and reflect upon. Yes, no? Maybe?

For most of my life, I didn’t. I didn’t regularly write out any of the aforementioned. Not because I wouldn’t have found it beneficial, more because I didn’t really know how. Sounds funny. It is true though.

I would tinker with writing here and there, yet never really developed a system to do so. What I realize now is that having a systematic way you write, or enter into any creative process is, at least for me, very helpful.

It is how I can continue to do so. To write through my pain and heal.

I find that writing of any kind, on a whiteboard, in a journal, in a computer document, anything, is very therapeutic. Why? Because you can then study what you are thinking, instead of simply thinking about it.

There is an important distinction here.

If you only ever think about something, you don’t really do anything with it, with the exception of maybe obsessing over it or worrying about it. Which, in the end, does nothing to move you forward as a human being.

Photo by Anh Nguyen on Unsplash

What are some of the writing strategies I use to work through my pain and heal?

I have several different ways that I get ideas out of myself and into the world. And, all of them work well. For, it is really less about the strategy, than that you develop the habit of writing through any situation or context that you find yourself in. From pain toward healing.

Here are some strategies I use daily.

  1. Whiteboards – I have three at home, and many at work, which include a complete whiteboard wall in my office. Very helpful. And, yes, there is also pain and healing that happens at work. It’s not just in our personal life that we need a release for our pain, whether that is frustration or some other emotion we are working through. I actually think that it is in the writing, considering, and working through the pain that healing occurs.
  2. Post-its – on the go, these work very well. I will typically then collect them on a piece of paper, or tape them to a larger 2’x3′ post-it, so that I can play with the ideas. See what’s there, and what possibilities I can see for moving forward.
  3. Journaling – I don’t write in a journal as often today, yet it is still a strategy that I recommend. Especially if you are new to writing about your own pain.

Those are the top three I’ve used, and use daily. And, they all work well, and can be used in combination. Example.

I will also tape post-it’s to pieces of paper, and put them on my magnetic whiteboard. Good visual, and easy to move around, and play with.

Photo by Paul Hanaoka on Unsplash

Why write through your pain to heal?

Because we all need the release. When we hold all of our pain inside, we cannot heal. It will reside within us, and actually make us ill. Not helpful.

Moving forward from pain, especially deep pain, requires visiting that pain often. Understanding it, working on it, and eventually releasing it. Carrying it around is unnecessary, though many people live this way.

Writing opens us up, and is a safe way to get out that which resides within. There are many different ways to write about pain. You can simply write about the pain, or you can create poems, or other stories about the pain.

What matters more than the writing medium you use, is that you provide yourself the opportunity to heal. Very important.

Photo by Jude Beck on Unsplash

Know also that it takes time to heal. You may write about something that is causing you pain, and not know healing from that pain for some time. For me, it also takes reflecting upon the pain in my writing.

When I can sit and contemplate that pain, I can see more, and have new insights. It is common for me to go back to something I’ve written several times before I can see a pathway to healing. Very normal.

How can you get started?

Start writing. Write on anything and at any time. Get your pain out of you and into the world so you can actually see it, and work on it. Important.

If you leave your pain inside of you, that is where it will always remain. Literally.

Choose times that work best for you, and create a habit of writing often. For it is in the healthy habit that you create to write about your pain often, that you have the best opportunity to know healing from that pain, and all pain.

Developing a healthy writing habit that is honest and reflective of the pain that lives inside of you creates a connection between your mind and your heart. And, it is inside of the connection between the two that all healing lives.

Write well and heal well.

#healing, #introspection, #journaling, #mind-and-heart, #mindfulness, #self-development, #self-inquiry, #strategies-for-healing-from-pain, #writing, #writing-about-pain, #writing-to-heal

3 Reasons Why Avoidance is an Ineffective Strategy

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

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.

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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.

Final example

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.

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What can you do?

Here are three strategies I use to get out of my avoidance, and into action.

  1. Notice when you are avoiding something, and write it down – wiring it down creates more awareness about whatever it is that you are avoiding.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

#avoidance, #becoming-unstuck, #creativity, #growth-and-development, #health, #mindfulness, #slef-development, #strategy, #taking-action, #well-being

Creating a Meditation Practice: 3 Steps in 4 Minutes

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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.

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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.

#attention, #breathing, #focus, #health-benefits, #meditation, #mindfulness, #persistence, #practice, #wellness

The Sociological Imagination and Mindfulness: Knowledge Acquisition, Thoughtful Choice, and Possibility

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When people think of, and talk about, mindfulness, they are usually drawing from a frame that mostly focuses on the individual and their psychology. That is the most popular way to think about mindfulness.

However, I think there are possible benefits to considering mindfulness from a sociological perspective, which might have implications for society as a whole.

Let’s first take a look at what mindfulness is, which will require examining the psychology of mindfulness. We will also take a practical look at the practice of mindfulness, and lastly will consider a new way to look at mindfulness, which is through a sociological perspective.

Mindfulness and Individual Psychology

I’ve practiced mindfulness and meditation the past couple of years. Though relatively new to mindfulness and meditation, I do know that mindfulness, and the theory and practice of it, are focused on the individual and their psychology.

Mindfulness is about focusing one’s attention on the present moment, on the thoughts that are occuring in that present moment, and the emotions and bodily sensations that accompany those thoughts (Lexico, 2020).

It is about becoming more aware of how your thoughts drive your behavior, and how that behavior, then, is a product of your thinking.

I’ve written in other posts that humans are programmed to create narratives, or stories, about their experiences. It is how people make sense of the world. However, when you create stories about your perceived reality, these thinking patterns can also overdramatize reality, which can cause pain and suffering.

Though we can speak of mindfulness as a theory, it is best, in my opinion, talked about in regard to practicing mindfulness.

Practicing Mindfulness

Practicing mindfulness is about creating an awareness around the way you think so you can disrupt negative thinking patterns, and replace them with positive ones. You can also think about it like, replacing those overly dramatic thought patterns, or stories, with reality. Creating distinctions between what really happened, and what you believe happened based upon your overly dramatized thoughts.

And, of course the thoughts that we draw upon to create an overly dramatized story are grounded in past experiences. These experiences can be something that happened recently, however, often they are from long ago, such as childhood experiences.

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When we create a storied reality, rather than experiencing reality as it is, or as it is happening, we are creating the possibility, and probability of more suffering.

Humans are drawn to drama. Drawn to creating it, and living in it, yet it is not the only way to live. We can shift our thinking by practicing mindfulness, creating increased awareness within ourselves that recognizes when we are living in our heads, as it were, instead of living in the moment.

Meditation is another tool utilized in a mindfulness practice. Practicing meditation can slow down the reactive mind, increasing the possibility of noticing when you are creating negative thought patterns, or are confusing reality with a story from long ago.

There is a lot of research on mindfulness and the distinct advantages on overall mental health, which is why we mostly see mindfulness written about in regard to the individual, or psychology. However, after practicing mindfulness for a couple of years, I can see far reaching implications for employing mindfulness across society.

However, before we look at mindfulness and the potential positive impacts on society, let’s take a look at the study of sociology, which takes group behavior as its research focus.

Sociology and the Sociological Imagination

The study of sociology is the study of group behavior. More importantly, it is the understanding that can develop when one considers their place within a broader social context (Mills, 1959).

In 1959, C. Wright Mills wrote:

What they need, and what they feel they need, is a quality of mind that will help them to use information and to develop reason in order to achieve lucid summations of what is going on in the world and of what may be happening within themselves. It is this quality, I am going to contend, that journalists and scholars, artists and publics, scientists and editors are coming to expect of what may be called the sociological imagination (Mills, 1959).

In short, the sociological imagination is about understanding your place within a given society, or cultural context. It is about understanding how the social construction of that society or culture impedes, and or advances your particular milieux.

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With that knowledge, one can better understand how their own personally context, and associated socialization and development, to a certain degree, were shaped by the social or cultural order in which they live.

That you are embedded within a broader social context, and having an awareness of how that context functions, is important to how you think, feel, and behave. It also helps us understand people in our context, those we know, and those we don’t, yet interact with.

Sociology and the Sociological Imagination in particular, help us understand the broader context within which we live, which provides us more information about how we relate to that social or cultural context, and how others in our immediate context also relate to that social or cultural context. Simply, it provides us more knowledge and a new way to think about and see our environment.

The Sociology of Mindfulness

When I think about the sociology of mindfulness , I’m thinking about people using mindfulness to gain an even deeper understanding of 1) their particular position in the social and or culture order in which they live; and, 2) how the knowledge of their position in the social and cultural context combined with practicing mindfulness might create more time for people to choose their next actions more thoughtfully.

As I’ve described in other posts, humans have reactive minds, which means that we often react to our environment with little time to think about the actions that we are creating and taking.

Mindfulness is the practice, as was aforementioned, of slowing down that reactive process. When the reaction process is slowed down, we have more time to choose the next action we want to take.

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If we have an increased likelihood of choosing a next action that we have actually considered thoughtfully, we have the opportunity to actual create new ways of being, understanding, and living. If we do not, we simply reproduce actions that we’ve taken before. And, if we create these new choices within a social or cultural order in which we fully understand, we have more power.

This, then, for me is the crux of the sociology of mindfulness. The intersection of conscious choice, and our own individual relationship to and within the social and cultural order in which we live.

When I searched the internet for the sociology of mindfulness, most of what I found was describing using mindfulness inside of sociology classes (WW Norton and Company, Inc. 2014). I also found one that talked directly about the sociology of mindfulness, and the possible impacts of considering mindfulness in regard to self-management and personhood (Huesken, 2019).

I did not, however, find an article that directly addressed the ramifications of practicing mindfulness on the social or cultural order. Though I did not find an article addressing the aforementioned, I do believe that practicing mindfulness is important to both the individual and the society or culture in which they live.

Further, I believe that developing a sociological imagination alongside a mindfulness practice may help people:

  • Better position themselves in their social or cultural contexts
  • Develop a state of mind that allows them to understand the social and cultural contexts more deeply in regard to their own individuality
  • Create more time to choose actions more thoughtfully within these contexts.

I’ve studied sociology for many years, and have practiced mindfulness and mediation these past couple of years; the combination of which, have created a deeper understanding for me of my position within the social order, and of the benefit of having more time to think and choose my next actions more thoughtfully.

When we have the time we need to choose our actions more thoughtfully, and are armed with more knowledge about the society in which we live, we create new possibilities for ourselves and all of those around us.

References

Lexico. (2020). Lexico, Powered by Oxford. URL.

Mills, C W. “The Promise [of Sociology]” Excerpt from The Sociological Imagination. New York: Oxford University Press, 1959. URL.

W.W. Norton and Company Inc. (2014). Sociology and Mindfulness Meditation. URL.

Huesken, Aaron. (2019). Mindfulness, Self, and Society: Toward a Sociological Critique of Mindfulness Based Interventions. Queen’s University
Kingston, Ontario, Canada. April 2019. URL.

#mindfulness, #social-and-cultural-order, #sociology, #the-sociological-imagination, #thoughtful-choices