The Forest Through The Trees

Have you ever been in a negative situation that seems to be escalating, no matter what you do to try to calm it down?

I remember a time when I was completely overwhelmed in a very bad situation and it seemed that everything I did to try to rectify it was actually exacerbating it. I struggled for years only to have everything I loved ripped from my life.

I was finally offered a position with my company to move across the country for a few months and jumped at the chance. Before my little leave of absence from my world, I was not able to see the “forest through the trees”, so to speak. Once I removed myself, I was gifted to view the entire state of affairs from an outside perspective, which changed my trajectory to handling the situation.

When I returned to my world, I had better focus, better understanding and a better attitude. I was able to take the backward steps I needed to take in order to move forward on a more positive and progressive level. It took some time, but I finally had the ability to use my strengths to stop the downhill slide into the mud. From there, I was able to move forward in my world and on a happier note.

Now, I’m not saying that you need to up and move 3,000 miles away to handle your business. What I am saying is when faced with a downhill, spiraling situation you need to step outside of the trees so you can view the forest from a different perspective. Analyze the issues objectively in order to form a strategic and supportive map to improving your state of affairs.

For example: If you’re faced with legal issues, look at the situation through the eyes of a judge, lawyer or even a jury. What would they think of the actions you are or are not taking? If you’re faced with medical issues, look at your situation through the eyes of medical personnel, spiritual healers or even a friend or family member. What would they say to help improve your life?

Whatever your situation, take a breath and step outside of it. View your situation in an objective manner, an outsider’s perspective and ask yourself, “What would I do if I were in a professional’s shoes or if I were asked to manage this situation for a friend or stranger?”

Remember, you cannot see the entire forest through the trees. You need to step outside the forest in order to view it in all its majesty. That is why there are “vistas” or “pullovers” on mountain roads, so you can stop and appreciate the entirety of the view.

This little exercise is not always easy at first, but you’ll find that you have much more control of your personal and professional business if you can master a more objective opinion about your life and where you want it to go.

One last note: Consider the people around you. Are they empowering, inspiring and positive? Because if they’re not, you might want to consider altering your circle of friends/acquaintances. It’s impossible to remove yourself from tumultuous situations if you keep bringing the turmoil back into your life with the company you keep.

Until next time; keep your head up and your heart open; take a deep breath, spread your wings and fly!

What’s Your Purpose

WHAT’S YOUR PURPOSE?

 

 

What I’m Good At According To My Friends And Family

The following list is an actual record of the responses I received to the question, “What is it you think I do best?”

  1. Deal with stress
  2. You’re best at talking people into doing things your way
  3. I think you’re best at counseling the grieving. You’re a wonderful listener & have real life experience to lend proper advice. That’s my official answer. Honestly, I think you’re a wonderful mother, grandmother and friend
  4. Expressing unconditional love…Even when we don’t agree, when we’ve been mad at each other, or out of contact for a while, there has never been a moment in my life in which I doubted you love me.
  5. You protect the things you love in life. You’re a fighter! If ever I’m in a battle, I sure as hell want you on my side
  6. Living, loving, helping others… family oriented
  7. Always willing to help people and family before your needs
  8. Have compassion and love for others. Artistic, handyman, problem solver
  9. You’re compassion for others
  10. I think you organize and plan the best
  11. You’re amazing at giving advice, you know exactly what to say always
  12. You’re best at the execution of actions based upon he facts

Recently, I was taking a course in personal development and one of the assignments was to ask friends and family what they felt I was best at. Some of the answers, and from whom they originated, rather surprised me. Some seemed a bit of a no-brainer and some of them gave me a chuckle. Incidentally, the one that made me chuckle the most was from a longtime friend who, for a while, became a bitter enemy and then a friend again. All in all, the answers I received certainly gave me some food for thought.

It’s easy to look in the mirror and imagine you know the person staring back at you. You believe you know yourself better than anyone else does; but do you really? Seeing something and being something can sometimes be very different.

I understand that 30 years ago, most of the answers I would’ve gotten would have been very, very different than those I received today. Growth and change are inevitable, even for those who may be stuck in one form or another of mental or physical challenge. Mental, environmental, physical, emotional, people, places, situations; all these things promote change whether it may be good or bad.

Many people feel lost and hopeless because they just don’t know their true purpose. Think about the strengths you had as a child. Have those strengths remained with you over time? Have you nurtured those strengths? Have others nurtured those strengths? Or, have you let life get in the way of your strengths and lost focus? Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure even the most successful people on earth have at one time or another doubted their strengths. The difference between them and you? They never quit!

Some people consider failure an all-time negative action. Some people consider failure a launch to greater success. It merely depends on your perspective and what your action or reaction is to any given happenstance.

One of the simplest examples of perspective I’ve ever seen is from the Disney movie, “Meet the Robinsons” where the slogan was, “Keep Moving Forward”. In fact, that phrase is an excerpt from a quote by Walt Disney himself,

“Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long.

We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things,

 because we’re curious…and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

Now, do you think Mr. Disney knew exactly what his purpose was? Walt Disney had a dream from the time he was a young boy to build an amusement park. He was focused and used his passion to create the greatest, most loved amusement parks in the world.

Another man who followed his purpose is Donald Trump. Although Mr. Trump may not be as loved by the masses as Walt Disney, he still must command respect for following his passion and making considerable strides in the real estate market. Although Mr. Trump’s technically a real-estate mogul, his true calling is in negotiation, finance and economics. Yet, my personal opinion is that he could work on his diplomacy and finesse a bit.

These two men are just a fraction of the amazing people who’ve followed their purpose and passions and made it BIG! Did they have failures? Yes! Did they let it stop them from their purpose? No! They used their failures to propel them into space on the rocket of success!

Now, figuring out your passion and purpose may seem like a daunting task if you’ve lost your way from the strengths of your childhood. Yet, there are simple exercises that can help you find it again. One of those exercises is to ask your friends, family, co-workers and business associates what they feel you’re best at. Another is to figure out what it is you like to do; what makes you feel good. Then, there’s a simple psychological test called the Kolbe test. This simple test shows you what your strengths are and helps you expand on them.

I’m sure you’ve all heard that to find your purpose and pursue it, you’ll be doing what you love so it won’t feel like work and the money will follow. But, how do you find the best way of following your dreams in a financially productive way?

Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Talk with people who are already doing it
  2. Study people who are already doing what you want to do
  3. Learn all you can about the options available to you
  4. Join groups that follow your interests
  5. Have confidence in yourself
  6. Believe you have what it takes to upscale whatever makes you happy
  7. Above all else, be aware of who you are helping by following your passion

That last one is a direct thought pattern I learned from the late, great Zig Zigler. One of his most famous quotes was,

“You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough

other people get what they want”

 Many people have followed in the footsteps of great people. One of the best ways to learn anything is by example. Think about when you were a young child. I’m sure I’m dating myself, but do you remember a game called “Monkey See, Monkey Do”? If not, the game was essentially a mimic game; you mimicked the actions of another child. So, think about who else you mimicked: your parents, siblings, teachers, friends and other relatives. How’d that work out for you?

As children, we primarily perform Unconscious Behavior Mimicry. We tend to unconsciously mimic our parents behavior at a very young age since we spend most of our time with them. Subsequently, children are also likely to mimic opposite behaviors or no correlating behaviors if they feel shocked or upset at the behavior they are witnessing.

Many of the behaviors learned as children are often carried into adulthood. As adults, we may have no understanding as to why we are either afraid of something or excel at something. There is great news though! Behaviors that are detrimental to our success can be changed; sometimes just as easily as mimicking someone who exhibits behaviors we desire. Other times, more extensive therapy may need to be involved.

The point is, that if you are shadowing the path and purpose of your life, but feel stuck, or you haven’t even started following your path; surround yourself with people who are successful in your purpose. Make a conscious effort to change old thought and behavior processes to benefit your goals. Lean on your strengths and guide yourself into finding your best ever job that doesn’t feel like work!

Blessings on your journey to success my friends!

 

monkey-see-monkey-do

Anger

When I was a small child I didn’t mind being alone. I would play in my room all by myself and I was okay with that. I liked playing with my sisters, but somehow being alone was comforting to me. I often enjoyed solitude, but also enjoyed being with my family; especially family gatherings. I guess you could say I enjoyed the peace of being alone the most.

After some disturbing family events I found by my teen years that I was very angry and would often cause arguments, fights and just be downright disagreeable. I know some of that was merely teenage angst, but it was more than that.

As time went on, I would do my best to walk away from confrontation, but still found myself in the middle of it most of the time. I often said or did the exact opposite of whatever I was expected just to be obstinate for no particular reason.

There were times in my life where this behavior served my purpose, whatever that happened to be; or so I thought then. I remember being so out of control at one point with my anger that I was actually ordered to anger management classes. After being thrown out of anger management at least three times, I found someone to help me through my anger. The first three facilitators insisted I was just an angry person with no reasoning. Yes, I was angry, but I had plenty of reason and one reason grew upon the other as my life went on.

The last facilitator actually validated my anger. She told me I had every right to be angry at what had happened, but that I needed to learn to use that anger in a more productive manner. She also told me that anger is often a catalyst to achievement of a purpose. I really didn’t understand what that meant at the time, but I was to learn in a most profound way.

Another person was also instrumental in helping my anger and that was my step-dad, whom I did not have a good relationship with. Although we didn’t see eye-to-eye on most issues, something he said to me came back at me many years later. I was extremely angry at something (I really don’t remember what now) and he asked me why I would let someone else have such overpowering control of my emotions like that. He told me that I was the only one who could willingly control my emotions and should not give someone else that power.

It took me a few years to truly understand what both of those people meant. In my own experience and my studies of psychological articles on anger, I found the control I needed to set aside my intense anger that had grown since the untimely death of my younger sister when I was seven years old.

I’m not saying that I never get angry anymore, that would be completely false. Yes, I get angry, but now I do all I can to turn that anger into productive accomplishments. For example, I have experienced many deaths in my life of close family and friends. Therefore, I committed many years of my life as a funeral service professional to do all I could to help other families through a very difficult time because I understood their pain. I’ve also facilitated grief support groups for the same reasons.

Recently, after the death of my husband in the summer of 2015, I decided that I wanted to help people in their happy moments. My husband suffered miserably for years and in respect, everyone else in the family suffered along with him. The anger of what was happening overwhelmed the entire family and for a while, we all were at each other’s throats. It took quite a bit of time for me to turn my anger into a positive catalyst to improve the life events of others, but I am now in the process of doing just that.

All the wisdom of those two people earlier on in my life came catapulting into focus and I truly understood that I could have peace in my anger. Releasing that anger has not only improved my relationships with others, including my family, it has improved my mental and physical health.

I truly hope that you, my readers, can turn your angry moments into a positive channel of peace and abundance of mental and physical means.

To your wellbeing!

Communication

Communication has been an issue between people since the beginning of time. The biggest problem is as one person feels he or she is communicating articulately to another, the other person is perceiving a different story. Why is this?

There are numerous scientific articles in regard to nature vs. nurture and how it affects behavioral outcomes. Some of the information in these studies reflect how there are “environmental hotspots” which affect behavior more than genetics Nature vs. Nurture. A quick example would be that a person raised in an environmentally hostile area would not have the diplomacy that a person raised in an environmentally peaceful area would have. Therefore, communication between those two people would be very strained and most likely lead to serious misunderstandings. Neither person would be equipped to understand the other’s point of view or appreciate that person’s passion on the subject in which they are attempting to communicate. Thus, although each person is attempting to be as open and direct as possible to the other, and very likely trying to communicate the same directive, they most likely would not come to an agreement.

The above simple illustration can be viewed throughout history. Countless wars have ensued due to miscommunication, whereas merely one person did not have the understanding of the other person. In fact, there was a song written in the early 1970’s which portrayed this very fact named One Tin Soldier.

Face to face communication is always preferable in any situation as an individual is able to visually communicate his or her position through emotion and body language. Whereas these days, more and more people communicate through text, email or some type of social media, which does little to allow for emotion, facial expressions or body language. Therefore, few people are able to communicate in a way that provides a true point and position to the other person. People should also take into account the coveted, but dreaded “autocorrect”, which may inadvertently send the wrong word. One word can make all the difference in how a message is received and perceived. Sometimes the most simple word or grammatical error can change the entire meaning of the message a person is trying to communicate and could end up being disastrous. I have read through many people’s text to each other as they have asked me to agree with his or her point of view compared to the other person. In most cases, I find that each person is saying almost the same thing and actually agreeing with the other person on a solution to the issue. Yet, due to misguided perception, debauched grammar, or the inability to be compassionate to the other person’s feelings, hurt and anger supervene and there is war!

I’m sure we have all been in similar situations to the ones demonstrated above. One of the best ways I can demonstrate to you, my readers, is to show the difference between active and passive listening, which you can see in the attached image.

Becoming an active listener is an art. We all are passive listeners at heart and need to seriously work on becoming an active listener in order to have better communication skills. Increasingly, there would be less miscommunication and better relationships would be created.

Being an active listener is one of the best ways to have better communication skills. Another is to be compassionate to the other person’s thoughts and ideas. Being compassionate allows for empathy in regard to the other person’s present, past and future situations, upbringing (natural and environmental) and gives the communication increased, peaceful effort for both parties.

I myself have not always communicated in an appropriate way. Not that I was meaning to be obtuse in any way, but was merely in a poor state of mind due to either real or perceived situations happening in my life. Therefore, I was not being compassionate to the other person’s situation and was unable to listen or communication properly to assuage the issue. Most of the time, a simple “I’m sorry” will do to correct miscommunication and feelings of hurt, frustration and anger, which can result in lost relationships. Other times merely recognizing the fact that I was less than diplomatic was a lesson I needed to learn and move on, doing my best in the future not to repeat those actions.

I hope this helps with any communication issues you, my readers, may be having in your life. Just remember, living in peace with yourself allows you to live in peace with others.

 

Forgiveness

             Have you ever been so angry at someone, you just knew you’d hate that person for the rest of your life? That person did something so mean, unconscionable and unspeakable, that there was just no way you would possibly ever even accept an apology from that person. That person completely betrayed your trust, love and/or friendship. Why on earth would you even consider forgiving that person?

People make mistakes, even you do. Yet, some mistakes seem terribly unforgivable, don’t they? Well, think about the worst thing you’ve ever done to someone; and be honest with yourself. Would you forgive you?

It’s hard to forgive people when we feel hurt, betrayed, angry, etc., but remember, you are in control of your own emotions. Yet, in order to control your emotions, you need to be free of the negative, damaging emotions such as hate and anger. The only way to be free of those destructive emotions is to forgive those who hurt you.

I didn’t say this was an easy feat. In fact, it took me years of asking God every day to help me forgive someone who had hurt me so terribly. Yet, once I was able to forgive, I was able to move on and have a much healthier attitude toward everything and everybody.

In my early teens, I remember being extremely angry with someone. One day, seeing my continued anger, my step-dad asked why I would allow someone else to control my emotions in such a negative manner. I went through all the horrible things that person had done to me (according to my teenage angst), explaining to my step-dad why I had a right to be angry. He simply told me that the only person my anger was hurting was me.

His statements did not make much sense at the time, but just a few short years later struck a chord. I again was extremely angry with someone and allowed my anger to grow. Before I knew it I was getting wrinkles and gray hair, and I was only in my 20’s! My step-dad’s words rang back to me at that point and I realized just how right he was. My anger was affecting my relationships with family and friends, making me old before my time, and I ended up with an ulcer for which I had to take medication. I realized the hate and anger I was holding onto against someone who had hurt me was only hurting me more.

There are many studies, including the oldest one of all, The Bible, which warn against the health hazards of not forgiving. Just reading these studies should help you to make the decision to forgive those who hurt you so you can live a life free of the pain others inflict. If you prefer medical reference, the Mayo Clinic gives a broader explanation of the health benefits of forgiveness.

In short, forgiveness is for your benefit, not for that of the person who caused you pain. Although, you will find that your forgiveness of that person will allow others to forgive you of your mistakes. It may even bring the person who hurt you to understand and reciprocate the love that you showed in your forgiveness of their actions.  Just remember, anger begets anger, but love begets love. Even an unruly, out of control child often only needs a hug in order to calm down and become the sweet little angel you know that child really is. So remember, hate and anger tears you up; forgiveness sets you free and you can choose to share the love instead wherein lies your success!

Happiness

 

Happiness is the key to a prosperous life. I’m not just talking about money either, although having money to pay bills and enjoy some of the finer things life has to offer can be very nice. Some of the other ways of being prosperous include having a loving, personal relationship with someone special; having a loving relationship with your children and other family members; having a job that doesn’t feel like “work”, yet still easily covers your financial obligations; being healthy; and having trusted friends who are willing to always be by your side no matter your financial, physical, or emotional situation at any given time. These are just to name a few of the ways that prosperity can manifest.

So, if happiness is the key to a prosperous life, what is the key to happiness? My grandmothers would always tell me, “Smile, no matter what. If anything, it will make people wonder what you’re up to”, or “Smile and the world smiles with you”. In essence, they were telling me that being happy was infectious. Just like the old adage of “Misery Loves Company”, where miserable people want to surround themselves with other miserable people, happy people want to be around happy people.

These were wonderful little sayings, but how can you be happy when you feel like the world is falling apart and nothing is going your way? My grandmothers had excellent points, but it still never really sunk in until I was watching a TV show one night. One of the characters was going through an extremely traumatic time in her life. One of her co-workers asked her how she could even smile much less seem to be happy in light of her struggles. She answered very simply that with all the trauma and drama, she chose to be happy because being happy was easy. It’s been a very long time since I saw that show and I don’t remember the exact words, but I do remember her specifically saying that “happy is easy”. Apparently, her statement was so poignant in my life, that I remember it decades later. I don’t remember the character’s name or much of anything else about the show, but I think about her statement of being happy all the time.

Since that time, I’ve realized that no matter how bad circumstances or situations are in my life, there is always something positive that comes out of the turmoil. Therefore, I choose to be happy in the midst of tribulation, not just for my sake, but for the sake of others around me. Now, I didn’t say this was always easy. Sometimes you really have to work to find that happy place during extreme emotions. For example, one day I was becoming increasingly frustrated at my 18 month old grandson as he rolled around like a crocodile while I was attempting to change his dirty diaper. I finally used my grumbly voice and told him to stop squirming because he was making a mess. Out of nowhere, his three-year-old brother tosses a neck scarf over his little brother’s face and yells quite dramatically, “Grab on, I’ll pull you out!” as if to save his little brother from a terrible fate. My mood instantly changed from frustration to downright belly laughing happy. Additionally, the baby quit squirming and let me finish changing his nasty diaper.

So, choose to be happy. You’ll thank yourself and so will others around you. In fact, you just might influence the happy in those who are having a difficult day. “Smile and the world smiles with you”!