Monday, March 30, 2009

What I’ve Learned from Charlie

Charlie is our soon to be 3 month old black pug. He has been the center of our lives for the past 3 weeks since he moved into our home. I have learned a lot from him. Some of the things I’ve learned I’d like to pass on to my fellow humans. As a coach I face issues that I believe might be easily resolved if we were all a little bit more like Charlie. I have outlined three major areas that if we all improved in, we’d be a lot happier.

Focus: Charlie is intensely focused. Whether it is meal time and eating, play time, chewing anything and everything in sight, or going potty, Charlie stays focused on the task at hand. He is focused when he expects a treat, when he demands attention, or when he is tired and just not that into it. As a coach, I listen to many people who get scattered and lose their focus in life. Sometimes they seem lost and unsure of how to complete projects or tasks that they’d like to get done. This lack of focus can be exhausting and draining. As most of us have learned the hard way, multi-tasking is also a myth. Charlie is very alert when he focuses and then when the job is done, he relaxes. That is where we’d all like to be consistently.

Knows What He Wants: Charlie knows what he wants and usually won’t take no for an answer. He wants his meal when he wants it and he’ll let you know. He wants his play time and chew time and he won’t compromise. (Ok, I know we are bordering here on being a little stubborn). He knows when he has to go and when he doesn’t. This sounds simple enough for humans, but you’d be surprised how often when you ask someone what they want, they do not know what exactly that is.

The only time I’ve seen Charlie doubt himself, is when he tries to go down the stairs because that is not a skill he has mastered yet. This is a healthy kind of doubt, we should all be more careful when we are trying something potentially dangerous for the first time. Other than that, doubt is just an obstacle in our self-confidence and in our experience of a life fully lived. Just having the clarity of what we want and the focus to get it, can create a great life.

Loves and Receives Love Generously: Charlie loves everyone. He is not afraid or embarrassed to show his affections for people or other dogs. He’ll lick you to death if he feels like it and then sometimes, he’ll just lick you once (this is related to the second factor, knowing what he wants). He loves to be held and petted. He can put a smile on anyone’s face. Charlie is confident in the love area. He even spends careful time grooming himself in his crate and taking care of his own needs.

If you read my last post, you’d know how important it is to be able to love yourself first. I think if you have a healthy dose of self-love, you can also love another the same way.

So, a dog does indeed have a great life and we could too, if we were all a little bit more like dogs in our approach to life. I’ll keep you posted on what else I learn from Charlie that can be applicable to us.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Manifesting Self-Love First

It has become more and more apparent that most of our relationship issues have to do with a lack or insufficiency of self-love. It is something that most of us fall victim to. I’ve also noticed that my clients who are suffering from relationship issues are very action-oriented. I am not saying that being action-oriented is a bad thing, but when the balance of action and inaction is tilted more towards action, the concept of love is somehow neglected. We are constantly doing stuff and the more we do, the more we become addicted to the energy of doing. This addiction leads to a loss of balance in life. Unfortunately, the more we do, the less we value not doing or being. Ironically, it is in the moments of not doing that we find true self-love or self-acceptance.

The more we do, the more we value our accomplishments and the harder it becomes to not do. If you find yourself in this place, then you cannot love yourself because you have no reason to. Reason is a consequence of action/conditions or something tangible. At this point you have forgotten the whole concept of unconditional love. This is the time when we rush into relationships or start picking apart those we are involved in. In a sense we are demanding love from our loved ones or anyone who will give it to us. In other words, we are looking for love from the outside. This is when people start having problems in their relationships.

When someone comes to me for relationship coaching and starts with all the problems in their relationship or the other person, I listen and I try to direct the attention back to the person in front of me. What still amazes me and my clients is that when you start being loving towards yourself and accept yourself fully, your relationships start working out. This seems like magic to many. I hear a lot of, “I don’t know why, but he/she has really changed”, “We get along so much better”, “It is as if he/she is a different person”, etc. I smile and remind the client that the person who has changed is them, but that change has had a cascading effect on all of their relationships. So, remember, it is indeed true that when you change, the whole world changes with you. When you learn to love yourself unconditionally, you are more relaxed, complete, and fun to be with. In addition, you are setting up a great example for those around you to do the same.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Ten Reasons to Get a Puppy

This post is all I could write after 5 days of having our puppy. So here goes…

1. Recapturing being a first time parent: if you’ve ever had children and now they’re grown, you may think you’ve forgotten what it was like when they were babies, well having a dog will bring back all of those memories…

2. At this time in our history, when everything is upside down, you’ll bring a lot of unconditional love back into your life.

3. It gets you out of your head, because you’ll do anything to make sure they don’t do their business on your rugs or floors.

4. When they learn to potty outside, you feel like you are king of the world.

5. You’ll get to enjoy your back yard at 2 AM when you’re out for a potty break.

6. It helps you get over your: germ phobia, control freakish tendencies, issues with bad odors, etc.

7. They are a built in excuse for having a messy house.

8. They are a built in excuse for not getting anything done.

9. Fresh air plus exercise: they keep you moving in and out of your house.

10. At the end of the day, you sleep like a baby.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Back To Baseline

As a coach, I get to meet all kinds of people. I listen, I get really quiet in my own head, I listen some more and then I observe and start noticing what’s going on. When people have a lot to say, it can be quite confusing. You think you’re going one way, and then you find yourself somewhere else and pretty soon, you might feel lost. What you’re experiencing in those cases, is the feeling of being lost that the client feels themselves. What’s ironic in these instances is that the person brought this on in attempts to bring clarity to their situation. Our well-woven stories, our history, our analysis of what happened and why it happened, our conclusions, our justifications, these are all done to bring clarity. However, the more we do all of these mental gymnastics, the more cornered we feel, the more myopic we become and the less clarity we have, the more desperate we become.

No wonder, meditation is practiced by so many. It is done to quiet the mind, the mind that we so proudly exercise each and every moment of the day, at meditation time, we put it in time out, or so it feels to some of us. It feels like a punishment, because we have valued our incessant thinking throughout our lives. In fact, it is rather scary to “not think”, if you’ve never done it before. The silence can be deafening, if you are not used to it and if you do not value it. We have been trained to place value on action, on doing anything, and this goes with thinking as well. Not doing anything sounds crazy or unimportant. That’s because, we think we have to stay in this vegetative state forever. We don’t.

When you truly go to the “no-thing” place, where everything stops and there is real silence, you go to baseline. When you come out, you are now acting, not reacting. Meditation allows us to find our baseline, so we can come from neutral to do what we truly want to do. It doesn’t have to be meditation, working out or running has the same effect on many people. These are daily practices we can do to find our own baselines. Major life transitions come as a result or a need for finding our baselines. People who do major life changes, or pick up and move to another part of the country or the world with no plans in place, are all doing this because they’ve lost their baseline. What’s happening financially to the world we live in is also going to get us to our baselines. That is the immense gift of these times we are living in. If you step back and look at the big picture, it is the cycle of life, we expand and then we contract, and on and on it goes. The key is to not get lost in our expansion, to know where to contract back to. That place is where we are continuously seeking. When we get comfortable to knowing where it is, and trust that we will find it, when we want to, we can go about our business of expanding again. So, I wish us all a smooth search and find of our baselines in these wildly tipsy times!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Comfort in Chaos

We’re getting a puppy next week and I am a mess. I go from being extremely excited and happy to terrified all in a span of 36 seconds. This has been going on for a while. Today, I decided to be with this feeling and explore what it is all about. I realized that I am not really afraid of the mess the puppy will make. So what is it? My children are now older and somewhat independent; I enjoy the freedom that that gives me. Am I afraid the puppy will be like having a baby? I will be on call 24/7 and that kind of being needed is very uncomfortable for me. Yes, it is a little bit of that, but that’s not all of it. So what is the remaining anxiety all about? I know that when my kids are wired and all over the place, that drives me nuts. Order has always been important to me. Who am I kidding; order is the condition in which I’ve lived my entire life. It’s the only way I know how. One of the most difficult challenges when I had my kids was being comfortable with the lack of control or order. But even that, was managed by bringing in control and structure and routines. In fact, I was proud of the fact that I had a schedule and was organized and everything was in control.

A few years ago, I stepped out of that controlled, structured life and decided to go wandering off into the woods somewhere. That’s not entirely true, I thought I knew which forest I was going to and what I was going to find in there and how it was going to be. Well, long story short, I didn’t. I got lost in the forest, and nothing I experienced was what I expected it to be. I stayed lost so long, that I forgot what it was like outside the forest. I started taking baby steps; enjoying the trees and creatures I’d meet. I stopped looking forward to the end or even believe that there is an end. I sat under the trees and I imagined that the end would come to me. I even gave up on words like end or beginning, or purpose. I took off my control over my experience. I allowed it to come to me undefined. I gave up all illusions of power and control and lost touch with the 3-D reality I was living in. Or did I?

A puppy, is taking this to another level. A puppy is a test of how much I have given up indeed. I am nervous that maybe the old me is still around and will go nuts once this chaotic, little, bundle of innocence walks into my life. What if I am still as much of a control freak as I ever was? What if I fail this test and get stuck in limbo? Not a viable resident of the 3-D world and not enlightened either, just stuck in purgatory somewhere with a puppy that is not house-trained yet. What thoughts this disabled mind of mine thinks and how desperate it is to gain control.

I need this puppy to once and for all be free of my fear of chaos. I look around me and see a whole world of people uncomfortable and fearful in the times we are living in. Of course, there is more at stake here than a messy house with an uncontrolled puppy, but how could this be a metaphor for our lives during these unsettling times? What if we focused on getting comfortable and peaceful without the guarantees and structures we have been used to? What if we took every moment in stride and stayed present despite our worries? This is the challenge we are all facing and as insurmountable as it sounds, it is all we can do. So, let’s all look inside, rather than outside, for the reassurances we need. I know I am starting to look forward to every crazy, unpredictable, joyous, messy, uncontrollable moment of it…