Tag Archives: honesty

Intent of the Day: Honest the First Time

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Practice makes permanent. Not all of us have spent time developing the muscle of knowing what we think and feel in the moment. We’ve found ourselves agreeing to or missing out on experiences that don’t line up with what we want, but that’s a part of growing and discovering who we are. Strengthening the muscle of knowing ourselves can be bumpy. It can mean having to have a conversation twice. It can mean having to change our minds. Those things might feel like our practice isn’t worth it, but push on!

The hope is that you start to know what you prefer. You start to know what truth and authenticity feels like in your bones. We learn not to shirk away when it feels uncomfortable to tell the truth. It is with practice that we grow and and learn. We intend to be honest the first time.

You too? Here are 3 things to help: Continue reading

Daring to Trust Again

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You were brave. You let yourself love fully. You were vulnerable and open. And you were crushed when the person you gave your heart to abused your love. Now, even though you want a healthy new relationship, it’s hard to trust that you won’t be hurt again.

Does this sound familiar? It’s not just you. I’m a therapist as well as a dating coach, and as such I’m well aware that many people re-entering the dating field after a bad experience are understandably cautious. They have seen the darkness and felt the risk of loving.

More most this isn’t just an intellectual decision, it’s a feeling. You might genuinely want to date, but find it hard to feel excited about anyone you meet. Or you lose any emerging feelings of attraction for them over the slightest thing. Our you just feel flat, and exhausted when you think about dating.

On some level, you know you’re protecting yourself from being hurt again, but you can’t control the way you feel. It’s like knowing you should eat a healthy meal, but having absolutely no appetite. What to do? Continue reading

Tupperware and Choosing a Guilt-Free Life

A photo by Jason Briscoe. unsplash.com/photos/sfze-8LfCXI

Oh how the mighty have fallen
Yeah, I was that guy. Black car home every night because I worked Past 10pm every night. Dinners paid for from almost anywhere I wanted; An office that overlooked the Statue of Liberty, long stints in exotic places like Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and the UK to fix business units that were determined to need fixing, etc. I was that guy. When I walked into your office, it wasn’t to tell you that you were doing a good job. I was the perpetual hammer in search of a nail. If I found you, it wasn’t pleasant. I fully admit that I wasn’t a nice guy. I made people miserable, but that was my job. There was no margin for error in my old business. One small mistake could literally turn into millions of dollars diverted into incorrect risk pools. A domino effect would ripple through many areas of the firm. Inaccuracies were unacceptable. After years of this, I lost myself and became this character, devoid of any compassion or empathy. I was a one man wrecking machine. That was the way it had to be in investment banking. It was the nature of the beast. I remember getting a blackberry message from my colleague Steve on that fateful September Sunday evening; “Turn on MSNBC”, it read, and I did. Our stock price had plummeted from $92 to $2 a share over the course of a few months. We had been sold to a bank, a real bank that takes depositors money. In that sale, it made my entire line of work and thousands of people’s jobs, in direct violation of the SEC Bank Holding Company act. We would have to go. After about an hour of absorbing this, my wife broke out her emergency pack of stale Parliament cigarettes, and we sat on our stoop at 11:30pm, inflicting torment on our lungs. “What are we going to do?” she asked. “I don’t know” was my reply. And that was the truth. I didn’t.

Dylan had it right “For the times, they are a ‘changin…”
I spent the next eight months trying to reconcile the loss of most of my life savings and career, sleeping until noon, staying up until 2am scouring job boards and applying for positions that I was grossly overqualified for, or just watching YouTube videos on anything from car engine repair to doctors removing infected pus filled boils. The meltdown of 2008, and the related pain, was not just reserved to “Main Street” as the politicians spewed. It hit many ex-Wall Street’ers just as hard. I eventually held several high level positions at smaller firms, and was absolutely miserable. At my lowest point, I lost my desire to eat, lost a ton of weight, and frequently vomited up blood before leaving for work. The negativity of my work environment was literally eating me alive. One day in a brief moment of clarity, I realized that none of this really mattered. I calmly typed an eight paragraph resignation letter to my CEO, left my ID card, Amex card, and office keys on my desk, pushed my chair back, stood up and left. And that was it. I got into my car and hit the NJ Turnpike with the windows open and the radio blasting “Badlands” by Bruce Springsteen; “Talk about a dream, try to make it real, you wake up in the night with a fear so real. You spend your life waiting for a moment that just won’t come. Well don’t waste your life waiting.” Those lyrics hit me hard. I kept repeating that line, “Well don’t waste your life waiting”. That was the answer. You need to make it happen. YOU need to make CHANGE happen. I felt good about myself for the first time in almost three years. I originally thought the smell in the car was the methane belched out of the Linden Co-Generation Plant on the Turnpike, but it became sweeter the longer I drove. It was the smell of freedom. It was the smell of change. It was intoxicating.

From a small seed, a mighty oak grows
While I’m far from comparing myself to a mighty Oak, even the smallest effort to foster a positive change in your life should be lauded as a Herculean effort. Quite honestly, the only difference between leaders of industry, innovators, and economic titans like Jobs, Forbes, Gates, Edison and the rest of the world is that these few had the spine (or the stupidity) to take that first small step. Continue reading

The Improv Rules For Better Relationships & a Better You

Screen shot 2014-02-18 at 9.33.42 PMI’ve had trouble with social anxiety since I was a kid. For holidays I would hide in the bathroom or some hidden corner of my room just to avoid having to talk to family members we didn’t see on a regular basis. Today I am the most grateful person for Dominoes online ordering service so I don’t have to actually call the store and converse with whoever answers the phone. Initiating conversations in general sounds pretty horrifying as far as I’m concerned (note my job as an internet blog editor).  So it is with a great flare of irony that I didn’t find my footing in Los Angeles until I started taking improv classes at Upright Citizens Brigade.

For those not familiar, Upright Citizens Brigade specializes in long-form improv. So you and your scene partner start having a conversation and build a comedic scene around a “game” or a repeatable funny idea. And it’s all made up on the spot. So basically, you spend 3 hours a week for 8 weeks starting random conversations with people you just met. At the end of the course you then try to have one of those conversations (praying it’s funny) in front of every friend and family member you could convince to pay $5 to see it. It’s insanity – the definition of my worst social nightmare – and it’s the best thing I’ve ever gotten myself to do.

Don’t get me wrong, I have to pry myself off the back wall for every initiation I make. I want to throw up before 90% of shows I do and when I see the pros do it I am astounded at their ability to make it look so easy. What I’ve learned through my two years of classes and indie shows though has not only helped me develop as a performer (When I moved here I would rather be hit in the face with a shovel than be accused of being an actor, but now I have head shots. It’s definitely part of the dream) – but the rules of improv have helped me become a better person in life. Don’t believe me? Try a few of these basic principles and see the good it does for your own relationships.

1. Listen – This is the first and most important rule of creating any scene – but it should be the first rule of any interaction you have. Get out of your head and stop thinking of what you’re going to say next and actually take a second to hear the words someone else is saying. Watch their body language. Take notice of the intonation of their voice and make sure you understand what it is they are trying to tell you. For better or worse, everything said at the top of your scene if your foundation but it is only through listening that you can lay down bricks next to each other in a coherent fashion. Listen first, and you’ll be shocked how much easier it is to talk second.

2. “Yes and…” – Tina Fey has a similar list to this in her book Bossypants (which everyone should read) and she talks a lot about the “Yes and..” rule. This is actually the first thing you learn in improv. Your job as a performer is to agree. What does this mean? Don’t deny anything your scene partner says. You do not have to agree with it, but you’re not allowed to negate it or say that it isn’t true. It’s disrespectful and ruins the progress their contribution made. In real life terms, saying yes being means staying open to someone else’s ideas. It goes hand-in-hand with listening, really. The truth of the matter is that we’re all on this planet together and no one gets anything done alone. Honestly, it’s a lot more fun when you’re contributing together and a lot less stressful than trying to build an empire by yourself.

That brings us to “and..” This is the hardest part. You have to agree, and then add to the conversation. You have to participate. Otherwise you leave your scene partner doing all the heavy lifting and often times a scene will stall. It’s the same in life when you just plod through saying yes without actually getting involved. You become an inactive observer and before you know it you’ve watched so much go by without ever being part of it. So be open and jump in.

3. Be honest – When you’re building a scene it only works when everyone agrees that what you’ve built is real. If halfway through someone says “Ha, but I lied!” then it negates all the work up until that point. If you tell one lie then it’s impossible to be sure if anything that you’ve said has been the truth – on stage or off. An extension of this is don’t be coy. A lot of beginner improvisers will pretend to have a secret or delay saying their full idea because they think it will prolong the scene but really all it does is prolong the frustration. When you’re direct with what you’re thinking then it can be dealt with and built into the universe. When you’re dealing with real life relationships being direct may cause more confrontation initially, but the problems can be dealt with immediately and you learn only to make issues out of things that you really care about. When you purposefully try to be sneaky you waste scene time on stage, and you waste time in your relationships, for what? Something you’re going to have to deal with eventually, so just do it now so you can move on to better things.

4. Be a human – My favorite improv coach started our first class by saying the most popular critique he would give us would be “Be humans to each other.”  It sounds like common sense, right? I mean, how would we not be human to each other? What he meant was to combine all of the aforementioned rules and react to our partners like real people. We may be making things up but comedy comes from truth and you create a richer scene when you play it real. Being a human means you have to listen to what your scene partner says and be affected. If they insult you then you need to be honest and show that you’re insulted. If you’re not insulted then you better “yes and…” with the reason why. Sometimes in the real world we don’t take the time to be affected by the things around us. We’re moving too quickly in our own bubbles to absorb the events in our lives. When you take a second and process how something makes you feel and you react honestly to it you make progress. You learn. You grow. You’re more empathetic to others and you’ll find that it’s much less stress for you.

Improv hasn’t changed who I am, but it has given me several tools to be a better version of it. I will probably always choose the online option over calling it in, but at least I know I can get off the wall if I want to. I know that not all the pressure is on me, and if I can listen and react honestly then there’s the potential to create something out of nothing. Isn’t that the magic we’re all looking for?

How do you try to be a better human? Share in the comments below! 

5 Tips for Writing the Perfect Love Letter

shutterstock_67207468Yesterday was National Love Note Day, but I like to think that any day is a good time to tell someone that you love them. Love notes also don’t automatically have to go to a romantic partner – they can go to siblings or parents or friends, anyone that you want to know that you care for them.

Writing love notes – whether platonic or romantic – can be daunting though. Maybe we try too hard to be Shakespeare or Cummings, setting the expectations so high that we give up before we even begin and miss the entire point. In belated celebration of Love Note Day though I say we put those fears aside, break out pen and paper and give our hearts a voice. Still reluctant? I’ve compiled a few tips to help you out. Let’s get romantic, Intent.

    • Set the mood – The best love letters are written when you allow yourself to be vulnerable. The only way that happens is if you write from a comfortable place. For me, that’s at my desk in pajamas and listening to a playlist of songs I’ve curated that remind me of the person I’m writing to/about. For you it could be writing from bed or in the kitchen with the TV playing in the background. Maybe you want to light a candle and dim the lights – whatever allows you to get into the head and heart space that connects with how you feel about your love note recipient.
    • Find an anchor – Why are you writing the note? Is it an anniversary? Great, start by thinking of your favorite memories over the past year with this person. Are you in a long distance relationship? Then you should be mentally compiling the things you miss about that person. Are you saying thank you for them being there during a difficult time? Begin asking yourself why that meant so much to you and how were they able to comfort you. Knowing the motivation for the note gives it a purpose. This helps keep the note grounded and helps you avoid going on tangents. Words mean more when there’s a reason to say them (and yes the reason can be just because you love them – but you still have to answer why).
    • Be honest (and yourself!) – This isn’t your high school chemistry homework, so don’t cheat! Have faith that if you’re moved to be writing your affections and/or gratitude for this person down that they share the same feelings for you. For you – not Pablo Naruda or the sappy movie you found on Netflix. The point of a love note is for you to tell someone you love them, so they should be able to hear it in your voice. When you carbon copy from someone else you’re just telling your note recipient about that other person’s feelings. Why should they care about that? Use your own experiences as inspiration and allow yourself to be vulnerable enough to respond to them. How’d it feel the first time you held their hand? What was the first moment you knew this was a person you wanted in your life? How’d you know? The most romantic things to say are already inside of you, you just have to allow yourself to let them out.
    • Avoid clichés and euphemisms. Be specific – If you’ve already started and there is a line about your recipient’s “ocean colored orbs” then throw it away right now. We can argue that saccharine euphemisms like that are an example of dishonesty, but moreso they are generic and…awful. It’s fair game to talk about the recipient’s physical attributes, but make them as specific to them as you can. So instead of “I love your smile” try “I love the way you laugh with your entire body; the way your head tips back and your hands clap as if it’s the most hilarious thing you’ve heard. I love that it take such a small thing to touch you but you give your all to it.” Look how much more you’re telling that person! It not only shows that you’re paying attention, but that you appreciate these details about them, that the way they laugh tells you something genuine about their spirit. Be specific and you won’t have to worry about about sounding like a Hallmark card and the details are what can make a good love note truly great.
    • Get creative with metaphors – For those looking to take their note writing skills to the next level, try mapping what you want to say over something else you’re passionate about. Since I majored in music in college and spent most of my formative years at concerts or listening to my iPod I often find musical metaphors slipping into affectionate notes I write. Heartbeats become drums, voices are melody and the relationship as a whole is a song, etc. You’re still required to be honest and follow the rules above, but metaphors help you say things in a creative new way, especially if this isn’t your first time at the love note rodeo. I’ve seen both sailing and kite flying as great metaphors for love. I once managed to use eating trail mix as a metaphor for learning patience in a new relationship. You can use anything as long as you’re comfortable, anchored, honest and specific.

Do you have any advice for writing love letters? Share with us in the comments below! 

3 Ways to Make Your Life Story One That Empowers You

leap“Don’t allow your situation to become your world.” – Bishop T.D. Jakes from Oprah’s Life Class

We all have a story. Sometimes it explains why we can’t do something and other times our story propels us forward.

I’ve heard cases where people have the same story — such as lack of money, resources, or knowledge — and one person eventually starts a successful business while the other is out of work and depressed. One story can lead to completely opposite interpretations and outcomes.

When you tell your story, you must…

1. Be honest about your story and stick to the facts.
Nothing more nor less!

2. Create the story that empowers you to move forward.
Never lower your standards!

3. Live your truth.
Establish non-negotiables!

“Does your story empower you or dis-empower you?” – Tony Robbins

We all have stories in different areas of our life. The facts are always available. The only thing that changes is how we interpret them and how we decide to embellish them.

Let’s look at three situations in different areas of your life…

1. Health

Facts: You have two kids, time is in limited supply, and you want to spend time with your kids.

Your Story: You can’t get in shape because you have kids and don’t have time.

OR

Truth: You must prioritize exercising because you want to stay healthy and be around to enjoy your children for many years.

2. Career

Facts: Your career is unfulfilling and you would like to be happy in your job.

Your Story: You can’t leave your job which is un-fulfilling because you will never find another job and you have no other skills.

OR

Truth: You need to move outside your comfort zone to learn new skills and find a job that makes your happy and allows you to share your strengths.

3. Relationships

Facts: You grew up in a dysfunctional home.

Your Story: You can’t have a good relationship because you grew up in a dysfunctional home.

OR

Truth: Surrounding yourself with stable people and creating a positive environment are important elements to have in your life because you did not have either when you were growing up.

Often, my clients have different stories for different areas of their lives. For example, one amazing and successful client has a can-do mindset in business and athletics. In his career, he believes he can close any deal and handle the most difficult clients. In the area of healthy living/athletics, he has the courage to go after his goals and compete in various triathlon competitions with no limits. However, in his relationships, he has the story that he’s had really bad luck and is not cut out for intimate relationships. Although relationships are challenging for all of us, I challenge his story line.

The one thing I know for sure, as Oprah likes to say, is that sticking to the facts opens you up to a more powerful story and outcome. If you have had relationships or jobs that weren’t fulfilling, then say that. Your story is not permanent. Focus on what you want to bring into your life and why it’s important. Create the story that empowers you forward.

Often you have to challenge your conclusions and ask yourself if they are true. Does it really make sense that you can make anything in your career and healthy living a reality, yet relationships elude you? How much time do you spend on the areas you are successful in versus the ones you would like to have different results in? Your story must be the truth. This is the only way to create a top 1% path and share your best self.

 

Originally published April 2012

Confessions of an Ex-Serial Dater

Screen Shot 2013-07-11 at 10.07.11 PMIt was becoming fairly routine in the “date night” order of operations: moments before any Friday night date was about to begin, I would do a clean sweep of my apartment and quickly hide any evidence that might reveal who I actually am. Any old photos of me from the awkward years, any Louise Hay inspired affirmations taped to my mirror, and any erroneous object that might imply I had more depth than a kiddie pool was quickly stowed away in my desk drawer.

You see, when I moved halfway across the country about a year ago, I was going on a lot of dates. I’d like to think it was because I was entering a time in my life when men found me simply irresistible, but it was also part of a staunch effort to avoid having to spend any long span of time by myself. After such a significant uprooting, I was sure that if I stopped moving for a moment I would have to face a whole lot of grief and other yucky feelings I was dead set on avoiding. In order to continue hiding myself from myself, I also found it essential to hide myself from other people…particularly men I was going on dates with.

So when about four months ago, one of those dates turned into about six weeks of regular encounters, this man who we’ll call “John” for the purposes of a public post was recalling how I told him I was a writer on our first date. Curious as to why he’d never seen me so much as scribble, he asked me why it appeared I hadn’t been writing since we met.

“Didn’t you used to blog all the time?” he asked. “Why haven’t you been writing anymore?”

“Oh, you know,” I started. “I just haven’t really been inspired to write anything in particular as of late.”

I turned my back to him as I was talking to privately make one of those “oh my God, what just came out of my mouth was the biggest crock” faces to myself without him seeing. Of course, the real answer to his question was:

“Yeah buddy, of course I haven’t been writing since I met you…because then you would find it on the internet and know I’m absolutely nothing like the girl you’ve been spending all your time with.”

Suddenly, the truth was staring me in the face. I’d been working so hard at running away from myself that if this man were actually to stumble upon any of my writing, he probably wouldn’t be able to tie it to its author. I was so wrapped up in whoever it was I was trying to be (I tend to channel simple, needless, quiet, you know: all the things I am not) that I couldn’t even find it in me to do my favorite thing because it would stifle my act. It appeared I only had two options:

I could keep dating, or I could start writing.

I didn’t decide overnight. John and I continued seeing each other for a few more weeks, and after that there were one or two more guys I went on several dates with to no avail. The truth is, had those guys been Ryan Gosling clones descending from on high, I probably still wouldn’t have been interested in continuing to date them because there was someone I really missed spending time with who I was totally neglecting:

Me. 

I told my inner circle I was taking a brief sabbatical from romance to get my feet on the ground, and most importantly to start writing again. Since then, the posts have literally been coming out of me like a faucet I can’t turn off. The first step felt like jumping off a bridge, but the ones that have come after that? Those I would not take back for anything: they are so much sweeter than the time I spent running in the opposite direction. In the end, if it were between dating or writing again, I would pick writing any day.

I suspect that eventually, though, I won’t have to choose.

Elephant in the Room: I’m Allergic to Being in a Realtionship

Screen Shot 2013-07-12 at 1.17.10 PMDear Cora,

I have been dating for a while but have never managed to commit to a serious relationship. I have friends who have found long time partners and it is something I really want. There have been several guys who I have really liked and put a lot of energy into pursuing something with them, but as soon as it starts to get off the ground I am suddenly turned off. It’s as if I’m allergic to getting what I want and run away. How am I supposed to get serious with anyone if I bail every time it looks like it’s about to happen?

Sincerely,

The Runner

~

Dear The Runner,

You have a fear of the thing you want most? Welcome to adulthood! Someone gave us the idea that this would be easy, but I’ve found as I’ve gotten older that you only become more and more aware of what’s out there of which to be afraid. Don’t worry though, I’ve also found that the fear leads to the things that are most worth it in life. The trick is to not let it control you, which as you know, is easier said than done.

I used to be in love with my best friend (we’ll call him Olly). In fact, we only became friends because I tried to go after him before finding out he had a girlfriend. He liked me though and we somehow managed to create one of the closest bonds I’ve ever had with a member of the opposite sex. We talked every day, about everything. He was a writer too, and we used to compete between ourselves to find out who was better. We pushed each other to be better, built a safe-haven together. I never made an open move when he was with his girlfriend, but I guiltily couldn’t stop myself from imagining what it’d be like if we could be together romantically. Okay, I straight-up pined for him for over a year.

By the time he and his girlfriend broke up I was talking to another guy. He was nice enough, but if I’m being honest I knew even then that dating this guy was really a distraction from being head over heels for my best friend. So I was not prepared when Olly showed up on my doorstep saying he was finally ready to give us a shot. Here it was, over a year of desperately wanting and fantasizing and building up this bigger-than-everything-epic-romance, and he was just offering it to me. Someone call Hollywood because my life was officially the most cliché romantic comedy yet to be written.

But I turned him down. At the time I told him it was too soon after his break-up and I wasn’t in the mood to be his rebound. Not to mention I was seeing someone, a really nice guy who didn’t need a year to figure out I was worth it! Maybe we were better off as just friends – it seemed to be working just fine. I had all the excuses, but I never told him the truth, that I was terrified. What if we tried and failed causing us to lose everything? What if we got involved and it was nothing like I imagined? What if he hurt me? Would I be able to survive us not working? I didn’t think so.

We stopped talking shortly after that because it was too hard. I had to hear from mutual friends that he got back together with his ex some weeks later. To top it off, it never went anywhere with Nice Guy because my heart was obviously elsewhere. I thought I was protecting myself from my fears and inevitably caused them all to come true anyway. I am an avid fan of the mantra “everything happens for a reason,” but to this day I still wonder how things would be different if I had just given Olly the chance. I wonder what would happen if I had given myself a chance to have what I really wanted.

From my experience I can tell you Runner that the regret is far worse than the fear. I don’t want to see you have to carry that around. There is no way to make the fear go away, but you can train yourself to breathe instead of running. The key is not to rush, take it one step at a time until you can get comfortable and the desire to bolt lessens. The main thing I want you to take from my story though is be honest. If it is a person that you’re meant to be with in the long term, tell them you’re scared. Most likely, they’ll reveal the same feelings and it’s a lot less scary when you have someone to be afraid with.

There will be bumps and bruises, my dear. I can’t promise you that you won’t get your heart broken – no one can. The thing is that the best things in life come with their fair share of risk and you have to put yourself out there to reach them. Don’t feel ashamed that you have fear, that only means you understand how important something is. Don’t let the fear make your decisions though, because you are worth the risk, what you want is worth taking the chance. Give yourself the chance to run in the right direction.

Best wishes,

Cora

* * *

coraelephantSubmit your questions, troubles, and predicaments to Cora via editor [at] intent [dot] com or in the comments section below. The Elephant in the Room advice column will be published every Friday – a blend of humor, compassion, and wisdom specially tailored for our Intent audience.

5 Ways to Hit it Out of the Park When Life Throws You a Curveball

Screen Shot 2013-07-08 at 4.50.15 PMBy Dr. Andra Brosh

You know as much as I do that life doesn’t always go as planned. You can fantasize and dream about how you would like things to go, but the harsh reality is that your very existence on this earth is tenuous, and your reality is founded on unpredictability, not certainty.

Once this simple truth is accepted, you can focus less on manipulating and controlling how your life unfolds, and prepare yourself for the inevitable curveball coming your way. You may have already been up to the plate to receive one, but just like in baseball, you never really know when the next one is coming, so it’s always great to be prepared.

When something happens in your life that you didn’t expect, or thought never would, it’s likely to knock you off your feet. You might get blindsided by an infidelity or divorce, diagnosed with a life threatening illness, or realize that you will never be able to have children. Losing a job, your home, or a loved one will also rock your world to the point of capsizing.

These life challenges, and the many others that can strike at any time, are really hard to contend with, but they don’t have to wreck you. Whether you know it or not, you have been training your whole life to deal with these kinds of struggles. Just like your ancestors, you inherently possess the skills you need to deal with anything that gets thrown your way. You are wired to survive.

If you have already survived a serious life challenge then you know what to expect. This is where hindsight is truly 20/20, so be sure you learn what you need to know from the past so you can apply it in the future.

If you are just stepping up to bat, and realize at this moment that a curveball is headed your way, then it’s time to hunker down, and get ready to swing. If you are still “on the bench” and haven’t had to play ball yet, this is the perfect time to start thinking about how you will handle things when they arise.

Here are 5 ways to hit that inevitable curveball out of the park:

1. Take Pause

The experience of dealing with an unexpected life challenge is filled with frenetic energy, and a sense of urgency. Instead of making hasty decisions and going full throttle toward trying to solve the issue, take a moment to digest what has happened. Slow it way down, breathe, and sit with the reality of your situation before taking any action. Hitting the pause button is always a good idea when overwhelm and chaos are omnipresent because it creates a space for thoughtful reflection, better choices, and a more engaged process.

2. Remain Present

Worry will become your silent partner when you are dealing with a curveball. Projecting into the future is a natural human response to stress and uncertainty, and the human brain is always looking for what’s “next”. You may also become riddled with regret about what you could have or should have done in the past to prevent your present situation. Getting stuck in the past or the future doesn’t serve you in these times of crisis. The goal is to remain in the present, even though this feels counter-intuitive.

3. Maintain Integrity

It’s at times like these when your character and values are put to the test. Even if you are the most patient, diligent, and high-functioning individual on the planet, you are sure to become lost, disconnected and a blubbering version of yourself at a time of crisis. Staying true to what you believe, and paying attention to how you want to come across as you move through any transition will ground you in maintaining your most authentic self.

4. Reach Out

For most people seeking help at a time of crisis is justified, but you may have a hard time asking for support even in your darkest moment. It’s common to believe that you can solve all of your problems on your own, but you actually show greater strength by seeking the counsel of a professional. There are always going to be people who can offer wisdom and experience beyond what you can give yourself. Take advantage of the many great healers out there, and give yourself the gift of growing and learning from what feels like a rock bottom. Getting the tools you need to rise above will ensure that you come out the other side better then when you went in.

5. Be Honest

A strong defense against the pain of disappointment that accompanies being hit by a curveball is denial. Not accepting your circumstances, or trying to blame the world for what is happening to you is a way to avoid what you are dealing with. You may feel a sense of shame around your situation making it harder to find the self-compassion you deserve. Remember that you are not alone, seek out others who have experienced a similar fate, and acknowledge that like everyone else in the world, your humaneness makes you immune to a perfect existence.

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picofme2Dr. Andra Brosh is a Clinical Psychologist, writer, and thought leader. Her unique perspectives on life, love and connection stem from her own personal wisdom, and her knowledge of psychology and philosophy. Dr. Brosh’s work is founded on the fundamental truth that we are all wired to be relational beings, and that with the right guidance and tools everyone can find happiness and fulfillment in their interpersonal relationships.

8 Tools to Free Yourself from Bullies and Attract People Who Respect You

Screen Shot 2013-07-05 at 1.19.20 PMHave you ever been bullied? Were you able to respond to the bully in a way that valued YOU?

I grew up with a mother who was a bully. My response was to shut down into a kind of frozen numbness. When I was 12 I started smoking cigarettes and at 16 I started drinking – all to continue the numbing process so as not to feel the pain.

Now, many years of therapy and meditation later, I’ve un-numbed myself, let go of cigarettes and alcohol, and found my true self. Life is filled with love, joy, and inner peace. Along the way, I had to learn how to stand up for myself and speak my truth. It took courage and perseverance, but  I arrived at a place where I can respond to people in-the-moment if they are disrespectful.

I continued to attract bullies until I learned to step into my power, be vulnerable, and state my truth.

Here are my 8 Keys to addressing a bully and giving them an opportunity to apologize. They might apologize, or they might not – I’ve experienced both. Either way, the success is yours, because you have spoken your truth. Your self-confidence builds and eventually, if a bully starts up, you can dismiss them quickly, and easily, without getting upset.

1. Be Emotionally Honest With Yourself.
Are you emotionally honest? Ask yourself: How do I feel when a person is abusive to me? Angry? Hurt? Paralyzed with fear? Numb? The important thing here is to be HONEST WITH YOURSELF about how you feel. This is the primary key to freeing yourself from the prison of victimization.

2. Accept – Don’t Judge Yourself
Keep the focus on yourself, not on the bully. Accept your present moment, whatever it contains. Beware the ego coming in and dismissing your feelings, saying things like: ”It’s no big deal”, “I’m fine” etc. The Ego doesn’t like us being put down so it might try and distract you by focusing on the bully or rationalize you out of your feelings. Stay with your present-moment reality, no matter how uncomfortable (uncomfortable is good because it means you are moving away from  an old habit that doesn’t serve you) – simply allowing things to be as they are, without judging yourself. And have compassion for yourself – you’re doing the best you can with the best conscious awareness you have in the moment.

3. Listen To Your Body
If you don’t know how you feel, your body will tell you. Are you contracted in fear or rage? Is your heart heavy with pain? Or do you just feel numb all over? Whatever is happening, allow it to be so. Your body is your friend. It acts like a shock absorber in stressful situations to help you deal with things. Pay attention because the body gives us warning signals when we are not in harmony and at ease with a person/situation. The more in tune you are with your body, the easier it is to address things early on, before they escalate into something worse.

4. Get Support
Find a friend or a family member you are close to, someone who loves you very much. Tell them what happened. This will bring you some instant relief and the powerful loving support you need to speak up to the bully. Allow yourself to RECEIVE the love of your friend to fill yourself up and build your confidence.

5. Be Willing To Let Go of the Person/Situation
Before you address the bully, spend some time in self-reflection and realize that you might have to walk away from this person, or from this situation. Friends can be helpful here to help you see things clearly. You might not have to let go, but you might. A lot depends on the response of the bully. Do they apologize? Do they “get it”? If not, they are highly likely to bully you again.

6. Speak Your Truth
Speaking your truth means respecting yourself enough to let people know that you deserve respect. Bullies will transform, or leave. Either way, you win!

Best case scenario is to speak to the bully in person, in a calm, courteous, respectful manner, simply stating how you feel about what happened. Bring a friend as a witness and for support. If that is not possible, talk on the phone, your friend standing by. Third best option – send an email or letter. Know this truth: bullies, underneath their aggressiveness, are cowards. In many instances, they are embarrassed you’ve called them out and apologize, which allows the possibility of taking the relationship to a whole new level. If they don’t apologize, see #5!

7. Be Courageous and Allow Yourself To Be Vulnerable
Courage means going into the unknown in spite of all the fears. Courage does not mean fearlessness. Fearlessness happens over time when you go on being more and more courageous. In the beginning, the only difference between a coward and a courageous person is that the coward listens to their fears and follows them; the courageous person puts them aside and goes ahead. The courageous person can say, for example: “What you said hurt me”, in spite of  inner trembling and a constricted throat.

Be willing to be vulnerable, befriend your fears, and remember that this situation is happening for you, not to you. It’s helping you step out of victim into mastery of yourself. It’s helping you expand even more into who you are.

8. Practice Expressive Meditation
Expressive Meditation techniques can help you become more aware of your feelings and be honest with yourself. The Gibberish expressive meditation is great for releasing the charge of  anger, rage, frustration and resentment, and helps you come back to a calm, neutral place of clarity.

You can learn to express your emotions without being emotional.

Expressive techniques for healing grief, sadness, and emotional pain, help with the emotional wounding that can keep you in a victim state. You will experience pain transforming into peace and love.

From personal experience these 8 keys work! By speaking your truth you attract people who treat you with courtesy and respect…. because you are treating YOURSELF with courtesy and respect!

I look forward to your comments.

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