The dangers of procrastination and passive behavior

procrastination

I often hear people talk about their intentions, all the good things they would like to do, the services they would like to offer others, the amazing things they would like to build in their lives, etc. But… how often do they take concrete actions that reflect those intentions…?

I find that many people get stuck in the “intention phase” and never get pass that… Especially people who are passive or tend to procrastinate, they will fill their heads with all the great intentions they have and they would even manage to convince others around them, but… never follow through with them.

Unfortunately all your good intentions are totally worthless unless you take actions that reflect them.

There is no mystery, if you want to live your life fully, you cannot procrastinate on it, you cannot wait for things to happen to you, you cannot take a passive stand on your existence.

You have the chance to live by “design” as opposed to by “default,”  but it is ultimately up to you to take that chance, sadly, a lot of people decide not to.

If you want to live by design, to be the architect of your own life, to co-create with the Universe and all the other forces that are greater than you, you need to take action!

There is always a better time and space for an action, and sometimes it is wise to wait for the right time, but you cannot spend your life waiting, in fact, it is best to take action even if you fail, than to have never tried.

A total lack of action could be considered an act in and of itself, because there are clear consequences from it, but when you choose not to act, you are simply waiting for things to happen to you, and if you don’t like those things, you will always feel like a victim and blame others for what happens to you.

When you decide to act, you are creating momentum, you are moving forward, you are taking responsibility, so even if you fail in the action, you will not feel like a victim, you will not blame others; you will know that you tried and that knowledge will give you peace and strength to continue to move forward, to learn from your mistakes, and to try something else.

Sometimes, a lack of action is nothing but an inability to face one’s fears: fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of loss, fear of change, etc.

Some people when faced with a problem for instance, decide to ignore it because they are scared of it, they don’t think they can solve it, so they simply pretend the problem isn’t there, or wait and hope for it to go away.

People manage to ignore problems by staying constantly distracted, taking their mind to a different place and numbing their feelings out, they use distractions such as: overworking, partying all the time, overeating, using and abusing alcohol, sex, and TV, etc.

But the truth is, they are only fooling themselves, by ignoring a problem it only grows bigger.

But, let alone problems and fears, some people still manage to procrastinate and not act even if fear isn’t involved, they somehow take the conscious or subconscious decision to sit and wait around. Some people fill their mouths with good intentions but when the opportunity to act on them comes along, they shy away from it.

In order to live fully, it is important to make decisions, no matter how hard they are, it is important to take risks, no matter if you fail, it is important to face your fears, even if it hurts, it is important to embrace the opportunities even if they are the wrong ones. It is important to act.

If you have the tendency to procrastinate or take a passive stand in life, think twice… this may be robbing you from having richer experiences and richer relationships.

And, if you have good intentions, especially towards others, make sure you act accordingly, make sure that your intentions become actions, make sure that when the opportunity to act comes along, you take it!

 

 

Advertisements

Are we in control of our lives or are we not?

Well, for many years I believed that I was not in control of my life, I just felt lucky when things were working as I wished, and then I felt like a victim when things went wrong… all in all I felt pretty powerless about most of it.

But things have changed for me, completely changed I would say, as I have slowly realized that I can live my life “by design” as opposed to just “by default,” but to be honest with you, this truth took a long time to take hold, and a lot of inner work on my part… as many good things do 🙂

So, Are we in control of our lives or aren’t we?

Here is the thing: we will never be able to control most of what surrounds us: the weather, the traffic, the constant changes, and mostly: the people around us. But we are always in control of our actions and our reactions to those variables, so in a way, we are in control of our lives.

If we see ourselves as victims of our surroundings then we will never feel we have control, but if we switch our perspective and realize that the way we decide to act or respond to everything that surrounds us will determine our true experience, then we will feel truly empowered and in control.

Is what happens to us a product of simple fate or is it something we bring onto ourselves (consciously or not? )

How much of our experience is self-made and how much is just imposed into our human condition?

I truly believe that what happens to us, to a great extent, is the result of our own making, whether we like it or not, I know most people cringe when they hear this, and so did I for most of my life, but I have come to realize one major thing:

We are often totally unaware of how we bring things into our lives, so we cannot possibly take responsibility for it, until, we become aware of our internal patterns, deep seated beliefs and subconscious workings. And gaining that kind of awareness is no small feat!  Sadly, a lot of people never do.

On the other hand, yes, there is a part that we can call fate, and this is because we do not live alone nor isolated, we live in a big wide world with millions of other people and living creatures as well as natural forces, and because of this, we do depend on all of them, to a certain degree as well.

However, the more aware we are, the more in control we can be, simply because we realize our own part of responsibility and we can begin to take control of what we can indeed change, and for the remaining of it, what we would call “fate”  we can also be in control, in the sense that our reaction to what happens is definitely under our control.

There is a lovely “Serenity Prayer” that my parents had on a wall at home for years, and it has always been in my mind… here it is:

Serenity Prayer This little prayer illustrates what I am trying to convey in this post.

Yes, there are things that I cannot change, but the way I look at them will change my experience (accepting as opposed to resisting.)

And there are things I can definitely change (they are under my control,) in fact, a lot more things than I think.

However, I need to be wise enough (aware enough,) to tell the difference, which means: I need to do my work of introspection and self-discovery in order to gain that awareness/wisdom.

So, in my newly acquired view, we are pretty much in control of our lives, but this is a “control” in which our ego does not play an important part, it is not about getting things “my way” but rather it is about merging in with the flow of life, learning to dance with it, and co-create our experience through this dance. 

Have a lovely week!

How to Communicate Hard Feelings Effectively

Our choice of words matter, and when it comes to close relationships, like our partners, our children, our parents, etc. it really truly matters a LOT!

communication

Today I would like to focus on the way we sometimes express our frustration, anger or disappointment to a loved one. First of all, it is totally normal to feel frustrated, angry or disappointed with the people we love, however, the way we express those feelings can be detrimental to our relationships or,  it can be constructive…

After many years of therapy, self-reflection, and serious work on becoming more conscious and mindful, I have found that there are ways to make our communication positively impact our relationships, but it takes some practice and awareness, for sure!

But, first things first, when we are hurt or angry, it is hard so see clearly and act mindfully, so the first thing to do is to take a little distance from our feelings and become more objective and more conscious.
Now, how exactly do we do that…. well, unless you have a well-established mindfulness or meditation practice, this doesn’t come very naturally for most people, so it is important to have some tools that can help us take that distance from our emotions (sometimes on the spot! before we jump at our loved ones with all our complaints and rage!)

I work with kids, and as a mom as well as a yoga teacher, I have found some techniques that are very helpful to calm down negative emotions, here are some tools that any adult can use and/or share with children in their lives:

1. Take 3 deep breaths before you react to whatever is making you angry
2. Go outside and take a brisk walk, run or kick a ball
3. Punch a pillow
4. Listen to music that you like or sing a song
5. Close your eyes and think of a calm place or pleasant thought or something funny
6. Draw a picture
7. Write down your feelings, or a letter to the person you are mad at (you don’t need to send it)
8. Talk to someone about your feelings (not the person you are mad at!)
9. Ask for a hug, make sure it lasts a few breaths! (Again, not to the person you are mad at!)

The first one is the fastest and most accessible one, for adults and children alike. As simple as it may seem, taking deep breaths is incredibly powerful, simply because when we breathe slowly we are counter-acting the “fight or flight” response that kicks in automatically when we feel threatened (in this case angry,) the brain gets the message to slow down and lower its guards, so we can see the situation for what it is and not for what our blurry vision – affected by our feelings – will make us see.

There is a difference between the reality and what you see as “the reality,” when emotions are involved. Knowing this, and accepting it, is the first step to becoming more conscious.

So, let’s say that you can efficiently distance yourself from the emotion (whether it is anger, frustration, sadness, etc.) so you are able to calm down on the spot, which doesn’t mean you don’t feel the emotion anymore, it simply means you are able to acknowledge it for what it is and take responsibility for it. This doesn’t mean you just ignore what the other person did or said, or the fact that you feel angry, but it is important to take responsibility for your feelings!

Nobody has the power to MAKE YOU feel this way or that, YOU are the only one with that power, in other words, what you feel is your responsibility alone, which in turn, does not mean that the other person has NO responsibility in the matter, they are responsible for their actions just as much as you are for your reactions… do you follow?

So, it is crucial that if you want the relationship to stay healthy and grow, you need to handle communication effectively. So now we come down to the choice of words.

See, once we have taken responsibility for our feelings, we don’t need to blame the other person, but we can, and should, point out the facts, and express our feelings in a way that does not trigger the other person’s defensiveness or other negative feelings.

If we communicate in a healthy way, it will be clear enough for the other person how we are feeling, and they will have the opportunity to take responsibility for their part, without becoming defensive.

Here is a simple everyday situation as an example of how communication can go wrong, or right depending on the words we use:

Case Study:

Husband and Wife are getting ready to leave the house for an invitation and they are running late, they only have one key to their car and they can’t find it! (The last person who drove the car was the husband). The wife is starting to feel angry at a familiar scenario, and she hates to be late!

Scenario #1:

Wife: “You have lost the key again! You always do this, why don’t you leave it in the key holder by the door, it isn’t hard, that is why there is a key holder there!!! Now we are going to be late!” (in an annoyed tone)

Notice the direct accusation and blaming: YOU have lost the key, YOU always do it!

Husband: “Stop blaming me! you are the one who was taking for ever to get ready, if you could skip your hour long sessions of hair brushing we could be ready much earlier and then deal with this with less stress, plus I told you ages ago to make another copy of the key!” (in an angry tone)

Notice how the husband, feeling accused and blamed, goes immediately into “defensive mode” and tries to retaliate by taking his turn on accusing his wife of the first thing he can think of.

So, in this scenario the angry and negative feelings keep escalating, and there is a full blown fight, which is not about the lost key anymore but about the couple’s feelings overtaking them and completely shutting off communication.

Scenario #2:

Wife: “You have lost the key again! You always do this, why don’t you leave it in the key holder by the door, it isn’t hard, that is why there is a key holder there!!! Now we are going to be late!” -Same as scenario #1

The husband feels accused, but takes a few deep breaths and realizes that his wife is really worried because she hates to be late and it is her frustration talking at him, he also realizes that she may have a point about him being a bit disorganized, in fact he was already feeling a bit guilty for the loss of the key… so here is his response:

Husband: “Honey, I understand you are mad because you hate to be late, and I am sorry we cannot find the key, you are right, I often put it in different places which makes it harder to find it, I apologize but let’s try to find it together and make a note to make a copy so we have a backup key in the future, and I will be more careful to leave it in the key holder”

To this, the wife’s anger immediately deflates and she replies:

“I am sorry honey, I didn’t mean to blame you, we don’t really know what happened, it is just that I really dislike being late, but never mind, we just have to keep looking and yes, we need to make a copy, sorry I have not gotten to do that as I offered. Let’s keep looking and hopefully will find it soon. I will call our friends to tell them we will be late.”

Scenario #3:

The wife is feeling really annoyed at her husband, but before she says anything, she takes a deep breath and notices that he is frantically looking for the key and probably feeling bad already about not finding it, so she says:

“Honey, I feel really frustrated because we are going to be late, I know these things can happen, but it is a good idea to leave the key always in the key holder to avoid this happening in the future” (In a loving tone, not an accusatory one!)

Husband “I know, I am sorry, I will find it and will be more careful in the future to leave it in the holder when I use it, why don’t you call our friends to tell them we will be a bit late and let’s make a note to make a key copy as soon as possible”

In scenarios number 2 and 3 one of the partners averted a fight by being mindful, but at the same time expressing their feelings and the facts in a very effective manner.

You can see how the example above can be applied in many other cases and with different relationships. The specific situation or facts don’t matter as much as the way we react to them, and how we choose to communicate.

So, here is how we can avert fights and grow our relationships:

1. Taking a step back, before our feelings take over our actions and reactions

2. Choosing the right words to express ourselves, here are some ideas:

State the FACTS instead of accusing the other:
We will be late, as we can’t find the key (fact) vs
We will be late because YOU lost the key (accusation)

Take RESPONSIBILITY for your feelings instead of blaming them on others
I feel frustrated when we are late, it makes me feel embarrassed (taking responsibility for one’s feelings) vs
You make me look bad, because of you we will be late, and it is embarrassing! (blaming the other for our feelings)

DON’T ASSUME the other person is guilty, even if it seems obvious!
I wonder where the keys can be. Do you remember what happened after you parked the car last night? (Unassuming) vs
You lost the key again! (Assuming the person is guilty)

If you take these simple steps and practice them over and over, I assure you that your relationships will grow stronger and healthier and that you will feel a lot better with yourself and others!

Thanks for reading!

Understanding Love Communication

Did you know that we all communicate love in very different ways?

love

As Valentines Day fast approaches, I thought it would be good to reflect on how we are communicating our love and why sometimes we feel frustrated because we don’t feel loved or appreciated, and/or those we love get frustrated with us for the same reason.

The best way to celebrate Valentines is to understand love and improving our relationships through effective communication, whether it is with your partner, your children, your friends or your parents.

Some time ago, I read a great book called: The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. If you are not familiar with it, this book talks about 5 different ways in which each of us feel loved and express our love to others.

We all have a primary love language (the way in which we most feel loved and cared about) and our natural tendency is to show love in the way we most feel loved.

Because we have our own way of loving (or showing love), we unconsciously expect our partners to “love us back” in the same “way”, and this can create HUGE misunderstandings and frustrations!

In his book, Chapman describes the 5 love languages as follows:

  • Words of Affirmation

Actions don’t always speak louder than words. If this is your love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. Hearing the words, “I love you,” are important—hearing the reasons behind that love sends your spirits skyward. Insults can leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten.

  •  Quality Time

In the vernacular of Quality Time, nothing says, “I love you,” like full, undivided attention. Being there for this type of person is critical, but really being there—with the TV off, fork and knife down, and all chores and tasks on standby—makes your significant other feel truly special and loved. Distractions, postponed dates, or the failure to listen can be especially hurtful.

  •  Receiving Gifts

Don’t mistake this love language for materialism; the receiver of gifts thrives on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift. If you speak this language, the perfect gift or gesture shows that you are known, you are cared for, and you are prized above whatever was sacrificed to bring the gift to you. A missed birthday, anniversary, or a hasty, thoughtless gift would be disastrous—so would the absence of everyday gestures.

  •  Acts of Service

Can vacuuming the floors really be an expression of love? Absolutely! Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on an “Acts of Service” person will speak volumes. The words he or she most wants to hear: “Let me do that for you.” Laziness, broken commitments, and making more work for them tell speakers of this language their feelings don’t matter.

  • Physical Touch

This language isn’t all about the bedroom. A person whose primary language is Physical Touch is, not surprisingly, very touchy. Hugs, pats on the back, holding hands, and thoughtful touches on the arm, shoulder, or face—they can all be ways to show excitement, concern, care, and love. Physical presence and accessibility are crucial, while neglect or abuse can be unforgivable and destructive.

Once you know your primary language, you and your partner can discuss it and try to use each other languages more often. If you are not quite clear about which is your primary language, you can take this Assessment offered at the official 5 Love Languages Website.

Below is a great exemple of miscommunication.

Taken from the article: Six Ways to Keep Your Relationship Healthy By Dr. Ben Kim He writes:

“Margaret’s primary love language is quality time, while mine is acts of service. So while she appreciates various acts of service I might perform with her in mind, they don’t end up meaning as much to her as, say, spending an evening together just talking about this and that after the boys have gone to sleep.

I don’t know how many times I’ve forgotten this and spent one too many hours at the office, thinking that she would appreciate how hard I was working for our family, only to become devastated and angry in discovering that she was angry with me for neglecting her. The perfect example of two people looking at the same event with completely different perspectives and all the heartache that can be caused by not knowing and acting on your partner’s primary love language.

Know what your partner’s primary love language is. Act on it. Repeat as often as possible.”

Understanding that we all communicate love differently was a HUGE eye opener for me, it helped me feel more loved and love more effectively. And this is helpful not only in couple-relationships, but also with parents and children, and with all the people you care most in your life!

So, what is your primary language of love?

Have a wonderful week!

A New Earth – Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose

I believe in the amazing power of books. There are books that can transport you to magical places and reawaken your imagination, there are books that can give you comfort and peace when you most need it, and then, there are books that can totally shake your world and open up a whole new spectrum into your life; it is one of the latter kind that I want to share with you today.

A New Earth

I have just finished reading A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle. The author of The Power of Now has done it again… totally opened up my mind to a new dimension, and I am so thankful for it.

This book is not for everyone, you have to be in a specific place in your life and in your spiritual journey in order to make sense of this book, but it is definitely worth a try, if anything, just to see where you are in this journey!

The premise of this book is that we all have one single inner purpose in our lifetime, and that is: Awakening to our true nature. Once that inner purpose is realized, then we can have many successful outer purposes (what we do and what we achieve during our human life), but none of these outer purposes will be really meaningful nor fulfilling unless we first realize our inner purpose.

I have copied an excerpt below that I feel gives a good idea of what this book is about:

“As soon as you rise above mere survival, the question of meaning and purpose becomes of paramount importance in your life. Many people feel caught up in the routines of daily living that seem to deprive their life of significance. Some believe life is passing them by or has passed them by already. Others feel severely restricted by the demands of their job and supporting a family or by their financial or living situation. Some are consumed by acute stress, others by acute boredom. Some are lost in frantic doing; others are lost in stagnation. Many people long for the freedom and expansion that prosperity promises. Others already enjoy the relative freedom that comes with prosperity and discover that even that is not enough to endow their lives with meaning. There is no substitute for finding true purpose. But the true or primary purpose of your life cannot be found on the outer level. It does not concern what you do but what you are – that is to say, your state of consciousness.”

Nothing we do, whether it is working, parenting, socializing, making love, etc. has true and real meaning unless we have awaken to our inner purpose, only then, every moment of our human lives will be meaningful and fulfilling, regardless of what it is.

I hope I have triggered your curiosity and you decide to look at this book because it is a real Gem!

Have a Great Week!


Announcements:

Weekly Wisdom: Free Teachings to Enjoy and Share from Sounds True Download Now

Divine Feminine Yoga Telesummit 2015 – Birthing Ourselves into Light. Free Register now

The True Meaning of Friendship

It is not often that I am disappointed by a friend, or rather “allow a friend’s action to get me down” but sometimes it does happen, and I find it important to reflect on it, delve a little deeper into it…What is the true meaning of friendship?

bpf

When it comes to friendship, my dad is someone that has really lived by example and has been a great model for me.

He knows how to be a true friend and because of it, he has a good number of loyal friends that would give their life for him. He often says 2 things about friendship that I find very profound and true, and I want to share them with you today.

When a friend has asked my dad a favor or something that he might not be too keen on doing, he has done it anyway, and when I asked him why, he has simply said: honey, these are the requirements of friendship, that is to say, in order to have true friends, you need to make certain efforts on your part.

Another great thing my dad has always said is that in friendship (as in any other close relationship for that matter) the most important thing is not to “give” the other something, but rather to “give oneself” to the other. This means that giving your friend a present or letting them use your car when you don’t need it, is good but not as important as BEING there for them, knowing how to truly listen to them, giving your time to them (even when they are not an enjoyable company,) giving something to them that may require an extra effort for you.  Being a friend is not always supposed to be easy and enjoyable!

Being there for a friend or giving them something when it inconveniences you is much more meaningful that hanging out with them for fun or doing them a favor that doesn’t inconvenience you in any way…

Of course, those friends that like to hang out with you when you are having fun, are cool! but those who are by your side even when you are no fun, those who stick by you in your darkest moments (when you most need them,) those are real friends. As the saying goes:

“Hard Times will Always Reveal True Friends”

Let’s be honest, probably most of us only have a few friends we can call our real friends, the rest of them are more like acquaintances, and it is nice to have both, but it is important to know the difference, so you are not disappointed when you realize that someone you thought was a real friend, isn’t really more than an acquaintance and therefore will not go the extra mile for you.

It is true that we are not always able to help our friends in the way they may need, but having an honest willingness to help and doing ALL we can is good enough. There are certain times you may not be able to do do what they need, even if you try, and if they are your true friends, they will understand that!

But don’t be confused, there are things that you certainly CAN do, but are not willing to… or are too lazy to… NOW that is different, that means you are NOT willing to go the extra mile, and therefore you are not being a true friend.

Now, how exactly do we build and nourish our friendships? What determines the meaning we give to friendship?

Different cultures attach different meanings to friendship, I know for instance that in the latin culture, friends may seem a lot more intrusive and demanding than in other cultures, which can be good or bad. There are cultures in europe where it is incredibly hard to make new friends, but when you make a friend, they are with you for life, because they see friendship as a very solid commitment and take it very seriously, and there are cultures like the US where you can make friends everywhere you go, and you call everyone your friend, but only a tiny percentage of all those “so-called friends” are true friends and are really committed to you.

Your family of origin also influences to a great extent the way in which you build your closest relationships and how deep they are, and that includes friendships of course.

Deep down, the only way to have real friends is to be one yourself, so you need to be aware of your limits and willingness when it comes to be there for a friend…ask yourself how far are you willing to go for them? how much are you willing to give yourself? your time? your effort? How committed you are to the friendship?

To me a friend means a lot more than someone I hang out with every now and then and do something fun with. A true friend means someone you can count on for anything and anytime, someone you deeply trust, someone you can call in the middle of the night if you need to, someone you feel free to be vulnerable with, someone who knows your dark side as well as the bright.

I do believe that life is made of relationships, after all humans are social creatures, so it is important to relate to others wherever we go and to have all sorts of people in our lives, but it is equally important to be clearly aware of who your true friends are. Maybe those times when you are not sure about a friend, the only way to find out is by giving them a chance to step up, and if they don’t, then you know they are in a different category, which doesn’t mean you need to take them off your life all together! it just gives you more clarity.

However, if you are very often disappointed by your friends, or find that you don’t have any true friends, maybe you should look inside and find out what kind of a friend you are? what does friendship really mean to YOU?

Have a Great Week!


Announcements

  • Free Online Class for women, on empowering our feminine core and your potential. Register Now
  • What Does it Mean to be a Man? – from Sounds True Weekly Wisdom. Free Teachings to enjoy and share. Download now

10% Happier – Book of the Month

Continuing with the topic of meditation after my last post: Meditation Explained! I would like to introduce a wonderful book for further reading. A good friend of mine gifted me this book a few weeks ago and I really loved it: 10% Happier by Dan Harris

dan-harrisI have read many books about meditation, but one thing I really liked about Dan Harris’ book is that the author is the epitome of skepticism, and he became a meditator in spite of all the resistance he initially had about it. He realized that by meditating his entire life transformed for the better.

As a known TV anchor, Harris had access to many of the leading teachers of meditation and gurus of self help in the country, so he shares his personal encounters with Deepak Chopra, Eckart Tolle, Tara Brach, amongst others.

Harris has a way with words, his writing style is enjoyable, insightful and funny. It is an easy read and a very light book, as opposed to many meditation books that can be hard to grasp or heavy to read.

He represents a large part of the population that have many misconceptions about meditation, or that get turned off by the spiritual lingo that often accompanies this practice.

I believe this book is of great value to anybody, regardless of their knowledge or interest in meditation; it is the story of one man, who was confronted with his human struggles and found meditation, which, in spite of his initial skepticism and cynical view came around and understood and experienced first hand the benefits of the practice.

Here below is an excerpt that sums it up:

“until we look directly at our minds we don’t really know what our lives are about… everything we experience in this world goes through one filter – our minds – and we spend very little time bothering to see how it works”

He shares tips and ideas that he received from experts in the field, and he uses a language that is really accessible to a wide audience. For people who are more familiar with meditation, this book is still a great read, and he offers new and interesting insights like for instance the RAIN methodology for applying mindfulness, given to him by Tara Brach.

Once you start practicing meditation and mindfulness, you can use this practical methodology called RAIN.

R: recognize, A: allow, I: investigate, N: non-identification

First you just recognize and acknowledge your thoughts and feelings, the next step is to allow them to be, this means not fighting neither your thoughts nor your feelings, letting them be without resisting them, the third step is to investigate them, to see how they are affecting you (how are your thoughts connected to your emotions or bodily feelings, what is happening in your body, etc. and last but not least not identifying with your thoughts and emotions, not letting them rule over you, understanding that your thoughts and emotions are not you, they do not define you, they are just waves that come and go and that you can simply observe without engaging nor identifying with them.

I highly encourage you to take a look at this book, it is a great read and an eye opener on meditation!

Have a Great Week!