June, 2009:

Cynics Beware


We have all seen angry, tight-jawed people who live in a constant state of cynicism. They find no joy in life. They are constantly afraid of people trying to take advantage of them. They also happen to be the same people who manipulate and take advantage of others.

“What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.” ~ Oscar Wilde

We have all heard the expression, “misery loves company.” The miserable have relationships built on some common and unhealthy foundations. These foundations include: “blood is thicker than water,” “this relationship is mutually beneficial,” or “I need them/they need me.” Notice that none of those statements have anything to do with attraction, joy, or love. All of those types of relationships involve some form of coercion or manipulation. People engaged in these kinds of relationships rarely experience any kind of pleasure because they will always find something or someone to complain about.

Some use their cynicism as a point of pride. They actually like having a persona that elicits fear. I suppose this is o.k. for the person who wants to be alone. For those who desire a life filled with laughter,love, and fellowship, it is imperative to let go of misanthropic tendencies.

  • Make the decision to let go of excuses from the past you feel justify your anger
  • Do not surround yourself with other negative or cynical people
  • Find time throughout the day to focus on gratitude
  • Smile

I am not suggesting anyone become a blind Pollyanna. I am saying it is important to be positive no matter what comes along. There are many who face calamity with serenity. Find people who possess this ability and get to know them. The more relationships you have with genuinely happy people, the happier you will be.

Photo Credit: Kenny Maths via: Flickr

Self Deceived No More


Self-deception is a common theme with people who are controlled by irrational fears. In order for someone to continue to live in a pattern of neurosis, they must be able to justify their fear to themselves and to others. A common characteristic with such people is self-righteousness and anger.

Suppose we were able to share meanings freely without a compulsive urge to impose our view or conform to those of others and without distortion and self deception. Would this not constitute a real revolution in culture?” ~ David Bohm

It is very important to remember we do not live in a vacuum. We deal with other people in all areas of our lives. One key to intimate relationships is accepting that we cannot convince everyone, even those who are closest to us, to see things exactly the way we do. When there are differences in opinion, we either choose to accept these disagreements or sabotage, and possibly end, the relationship. With each disagreement we must ask ourselves, “Is this worth the relationship?” It is important to determine whether the disagreement is a simple difference of opinion or a breach of principle. If I am willing to risk a relationship because of a difference in opinion, it is probable that I am allowing myself to be controlled by irrational fears. Perhaps my fear is that I am not important or what I have to say is not thought of highly. Either way the fear is self-centered and irrational.

One way irrational thought enters the equation is when we allow our opinions to justify our fears. For example, if someone is afraid that people are always trying to take advantage of them, they will isolate themselves to the point of having minimal interaction with other people. In their minds, they are insulating themselves from a world that is brutal and harsh. They convince themselves to not rely on anyone. Anyone trying to get close is doing so because of ulterior motives. They see anyone with a different opinion as a threat to their security. Their lives are controlled by their fear and their anger is always at a low boil. These people wind up lonely as a result of their unwillingness to be flexible.

Here are some simple ways to identify irrational fear and begin the process of change:

1.    Write down five ways you have made other people responsible for your inability to change. (Example: I can’t change because my partner abuses alcohol.)

2.    Write down an irrational fear you have held on to which puts other people in a position to be manipulated. How long have you had this fear? What/who are you able to avoid as a result of this fear?

3.    Write down how your life would be different if you didn’t have this fear.

Think about how free you feel whenever you let go of a false belief or a layer of self-deception. This liberation allows you to grow in ways you wouldn’t imagine. Give yourself the opportunity to move forward!

Emotional Yoga

“The boldness of asking deep questions may require unforeseen flexibility if we are to accept the answers.” ~ Brian Greene

One of the primary purposes of yoga is to create flexibility and strength in the body. The same exercise is needed for our emotional well-being. Our emotional well-being is the primary key in building strong, healthy relationships. When we live in any degree of fear, we become defensive and rigid. We hold on to antiquated belief systems because they are familiar and safe. We follow our scripting because the direction is obvious and seems to be a low risk proposition.

We always have the option to change our perspective. We also always have the option to broaden our horizons and expand our exposure to different ideas. When we are able to do this, we break the cycle of rigidity. By breaking this cycle we exercise our emotional muscles. The stronger and more flexible our emotional muscles become, the more we expand our ability to be open to intimacy. We no longer have to remain stuck in our patterns and we can allow our capacity of love to grow without any self-imposed limitations. I know that my ability to welcome new relationships is contingent upon my ability to be flexible. I also know that if I don’t want my current relationships to stagnate, I must continue to be willing to grow and change.

•    The two greatest motivators are love and fear
•    The willingness to risk a relationship due to different opinions is rooted in irrational fear
•    Love creates more love
•    If life seems difficult, it is due to your resistance to change

Be willing to stretch. This discomfort will lead to unexpected opportunities for unimaginable growth. The connections you will make as a result of your pliancy will be a reminder of the value of unity.

Following Threads

3518256175_60607e3222A year ago I facilitated a workshop for a parent group in St.Louis, Missouri. I had recently released my first book, Relationships for the Intimately Challenged, and led these meetings to support the ideas I had written about. I had no real speaking experience outside of my normal job setting, and quickly realized I had much to learn.

One of the workshop participants happens to be a professional author, facilitator, and executive coach. She took copious notes and offered to share her observations with me. I was open to hearing her opinion, after all this was new to me, and I wanted to learn as much as possible.

What she shared with me wasn’t very complimentary, but she communicated her criticism in a manner that was motivating. She offered to coach me and I eagerly hired her.

I made the decision to become an author and a professional speaker out of a desire to share insights I have gained throughout my life with as many people as possible. What I have realized as a result of responding to this inspiration is that I always have a lot to learn. As simple as this realization sounds, it is also very profound. I, like many others, can fall into the trap of security and predictability. The problem with security and predictability is the potential squelching of passion, enthusiasm, and, creativity.

I look at inspirations or good ideas as threads meant for me to follow. Some of them lead nowhere, but some lead me to amazing experiences and opportunities. As a direct result of making the decision to write my book and pursue professional speaking I have:

  • completed Jack Canfield‘s Breakthrough to Success Training along with the Advanced Breakthrough to Success. From attending these trainings I have gained a tremendous amount of awareness about personal transformation, which I have been able to share with my employees and friends, and made some valuable connections with people I never would have met.
  • joined the National Speaker’s Association, which has exposed me to incredible resources and mentors from a wide variety of backgrounds
  • begun providing workshops to various businesses along with parent’s groups

These are just a few results of some seemingly simple decisions. All of these actions involve following threads. I have been scared to do some of the things I have done. I have had to challenge many limiting beliefs about myself. I continue to stretch in ways that are uncomfortable. However, I am much happier,  more fulfilled, and my ability to serve other people has increased exponentially.

Is it a priority for you to grow as a person? Are there inspirations you have ignored because of self-limiting excuses? Look for the threads in your life. Muster the courage to follow them. At the very least you will discover new directions in which to go or passions to follow. Doesn’t that sound fun?

Photo Credit: *Evelina* via: Flickr

Lessons From Modern Technology


So I was having one of those mornings. The kind where a series of events unfold that challenge your ability to stay peaceful and serene. You know, those times you shouldn’t be permitted to interact with other humans. Allow me to explain:

This week, after months of diligent research and the purposeful delay of gratification, I purchased a MacBook Pro. This was a wise purchase, by the way, the computer is awesome. However, there have been some hiccups along the way.

First of all, the package holding my new prized possession arrived on Wednesday. I had eagerly tracked the shipment and expected its prompt delivery. U.P.S. is the best. As I excitedly unwrapped my newest instrument of technology, visions of new found creativity ran through my head. I couldn’t wait to connect the old computer to the new one and unleash the power I knew this beast of a machine would deliver. What I didn’t anticipate was…… a different size FireWire oulet.

Seriously, my long awaited date with my BRAND NEW COMPUTER was being delayed by having the wrong size cord (insert your own joke here)! “Oh well, what’s another day,” I said to myself.

The next day, yesterday, I drove to the local Apple Store with complete confidence that they would have the precise cord I needed. After all, they had always stocked any product I was in search of in the past. I love that store. Much to my chagrin, they were out of the 6-9 FireWire cable. This was a travesty. The young lady at the Apple Store was kind enough to recommend a couple of electronic stores who may carry the cord I sought. After three more stops, the cord was mine!

Yesterday afternoon I began the process of information transferal. With my brand new, right sized cord I began. I was proud of my patience, it’s usually difficult for me to temper my excitement. After a few hours the transfer, registration, and other odds and ends, were complete. My speedy computer journey had begun!

Alas, this morning my entry into the world of technological superiority received a severe blow. The machine operated slower than my first IBM word processor. It did not respond to anything. In my annoyance, frustration, and disappointment, I called on my knight in shining armor, my wife Wendy. Any sophisticated technological issue I have ever had, she has been able to solve. Wendy is much brighter than me. As she patiently called Apple customer service, I paced the room like an expectant father outside of  a delivery room. To relieve my angst, I picked up my guitar to strum for a minute, a little creative stress relief. Of course, the guitar was horribly out of tune. As I turned the keys to bring the strings to their optimum pitch, the high E string snapped. IT SNAPPED. All I wanted was five minutes of mindless relaxation after a severe bout of disappointment and helplessness, but the six year old, overly stretched, and under-used high E string had the AUDACITY to snap. Unbelievable.

Wendy knows me very well. She saw me gently (yeah right) place the guitar on its stand and get up. She then gave me a look. I immediately took a breath and calmed down. It wasn’t a look of anger or an expression of fear. It was simply an understanding, “Dude your being an idiot” kind of a look.She knows me very well and I was able to quickly recognize what I was doing and change my behavior.

I learned a lot from this entire situation. Here are a few of the more valuable lessons:

  • the MacBook Pro is awesome and worth the wait
  • U.P.S. kicks serious a**
  • when I build up too much expectation and get overly excited I set myself up to react negatively
  • my wife knows how immature I really am and what a tool I can be
  • it is really important to let the people in my life know me well because my wife isn’t always there

From the simplest situations come the greatest lessons. It is fun to see the areas of my life in which I need improvement. I am grateful to have relationships with people who are as interested in loving their lives as I am. It leads to a lot of excitement and many good times.

Photo Credit : CCBImages via Flickr (although the photo kind of looks like me, it isn’t me)