On A Verge

6046440678_d0b67a6518_m“We fear our intuitions because we fear the transformational power within our revelations.” ~ Carolyn Myss

It is documented that dogs have the ability to accurately sense five things: earthquakes, storms, illness, seizures and labor in pregnant women. Having read this I wonder whether dogs know they have these perceiving qualities?

Have you ever sensed you were/are on the verge of something big; something radically different or new? How did that sense make you feel? Invigorated, excited, hesitant, perhaps fearful? I pose these questions as I know I am on the verge of significant life changes. I sense this because I trust my intuition – that inner voice that just knows. This isn’t precognition, clairvoyance, psychic ability or impulse. It’s simply knowing that even in uncertainty, there is vision associated with a new direction and imminent change.

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Some people live for these moments. Others dread them. And there may be an indifferent lot as well. I’m one of the former. When my intuition strongly signals something, I know it’s right and the underlying choices often become strangely easy. It feels healthy; it feels good; it doesn’t feel like I’m forcing anything, there’s not a lot of conflict.

Of all the reasons for people to consider using their gut instincts to make big decisions, this may be the best: It frequently leads to choices and outcomes that are fulfilling; decisions that can improve the quality and trajectory of one’s life.

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If/when you feel you are on the verge of something life changing or perhaps less significant, here are three considerations that may help:

  1. Honor your intuition. Honoring your true self takes great courage. It may not be easy in the short-term to act on what you sense, but what price do you pay by not listening to it? Trust that nothing is revealed to you intuitively if it is not in your highest interest, even if that means making tough choices in your life. However intuition serves you, it is always in service of your well-being.
  2. Value time alone. As you travel the path of intuition, and leave behind aspects of yourself and life that no longer fit, you will need time to be with yourself to help stay grounded in your transition and transformation. Time alone will help to integrate new learning and provide guidance along your way. It will also support you to become comfortable without dependencies on other’s approval.
  3. Take in only what is nourishing. We frequently ignore our inner voice that is continuously providing guidance. We fear what it has to say. Listening to it might strengthen the courage for confrontation or challenge, or leave us with a sense of guilt for not doing so. It’s your voice! You have the ability to listen objectively and absorb what it’s saying compassionately.

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Try It. You Might Embrace It.

“Intuition is perception via the unconscious.” ~ Carl Jung

When it comes to decision-making, are you logical or intuitive? A while back I wrote about emotional intelligence (EQ) and intellectual intelligence (IQ) and how EQ is replacing IQ as a new measure for business and social success. Today I paused, reflecting on the plethora of assessments used to test and measure seemingly every facet of human consciousness, behavior, skills, potential, and preferences.

But let’s bring this back to intuition, which to some is not considered a true science and is often categorized as parapsychology. Whether it is a true science or not, it exists. And those who are intuitive know that they do things differently. Here are three examples:

  1. They practice mindfulness. Meditation and mindfulness practices can be an excellent way to tap into your intuition. Mindfulness (paying attention to one’s current experience in a non-judgmental way) helps one to filter out chatter, weigh options objectively, and ultimately make decisions that you can stand behind completely.
  2. They connect deeply with others. Mind reading or “empathic accuracy” refers to the seemingly magical ability to map someone’s mental terrain from their words, emotions and body language. Tuning into your own emotions, and spending time observing and listening to others can boost one’s powers of empathy.
  3. They mindfully let go of negative emotions. Strong emotions, particularly negative ones, cloud intuition. The evidence isn’t just anecdotal. A 2013 study published in the journal Psychological Science showed that being in a positive mood boosted one’s ability to make intuitive judgments. Your intuition fares better if you’re able to mindfully accept and let go of negative emotions, rather than suppressing or dwelling on them.

It’s that age-old, mind versus gut ‘thing.’ Which do you trust more? With which are you more comfortable? If you’re interested in further exploring or strengthening your intuitive abilities, here are three (of many) ways:

  • Accept that you are not in control. Don’t try to shut down your uncomfortable emotions. You will return to a state of balance as those emotions evolve on their own. Making critical decisions can be gut-wrenching. And you know this. Consider being open to another source of self-knowledge.
  • Be spontaneous. Try new things and go with the flow. Notice how often you find yourself in the right place at the right time. Awareness, when coupled with intuition, can yield expanded insight.
  • Practice. It is important to practice using intuition. Begin with something small that has little impact on your life. For example, try to guess who is calling before you answer the phone. Guess which elevator will come first when you’re standing in front of a bank of elevators. Stay relaxed and focused so as not to be distracted by other mental chatter. As you practice you will gain confidence in using this skill. The greater your confidence about identifying your intuitive voice, the more you will trust it and be able to act on it.

Masculine Qualities

“There are very few great discoveries in the world. Tantra can claim the greatest discovery. Even after nuclear weapons, Tantra’s discovery has been standing there for ten thousand years unused, an insight of such great value. The insight is that man and woman are not just one – man just man, woman just woman – no. They are both together: man is half man and half woman, and the same is true about women.” ~ Osho, Sermons in Stone

Recently, I was discussing desirable masculine traits with a female colleague. She shared five qualities with me that she heard from Shelly Bullard, a Marriage and Family Therapist. I wasn’t surprised that these five aligned with themes addressed in coaching, as well as qualities frequently highlighted in this blog.

My colleague was explaining reasons we’re attracted to certain people and one of those reasons is whether that person is masculine of feminine. And I suspect some of you reading this post are saying, really?! 🙂 She went on to say that as a man, you must have these qualities to appear attractive to a female. However, not every woman is going to want a man with these distinctly masculine traits. Confused yet?

Presence Presence is the ability to be consciously connected to the here and now. Women can feel a man’s presence when he listens to her. She can feel presence when a man is connected to his core. And presence is a practice at which one can get better. Culturally, we’re in an epidemic of not being present; we find many ways to distract ourselves every day. Thus, being present in interactions is highly desirable and valued.

Purpose According to Bullard, purpose can be many things. It can be to change the world; to push your body to its limits; to build a business or home; to make art; or to be the kindest person you know. It’s not so much about the purpose, rather, it’s that you have a purpose or that you’re in the process of discovering/fulfilling it.

Direction With purpose comes direction. Purpose is knowing what you are here to do and direction is doing it. Women are attracted to men who get things done. A man’s clear direction makes the feminine feel safe. If she knows a man can navigate well on his own, then she has more room to relax in a man’s presence. She doesn’t have to show a man how to do it.

Honesty and Truth Both of these traits are important in all relationships. Trust comes from acting in honest ways. A distinct (though not exclusively) feminine quality is intuition and with intuition comes the ability to sense BS a mile away. (The converse holds true for some men, too.) When a man learns to be completely honest with himself (about struggles, shortcomings, challenges, strengths, etc.) then his integrity can be felt/sensed and he’ll be trusted.

Humor Humor is at the top of most women’s lists because humor has the ability to lighten the mood. The feminine gets bogged down with her emotions, as well as her to-do lists. (Bullard said this, not me.) This is stressful for women. If a man can make her laugh, it’s a getaway to flow. Women are grateful for a man’s ability to add joy and light to everyday life.

Now typed, I’m unsure why I chose to share this. I suppose, in part, it’s because I appreciate and strive to live these qualities – but for my own reasons, not necessarily to satisfy another’s criteria. In my mind, masculine and feminine qualities are gifts. And perhaps it’s the mix that each of us possesses which makes us unique.

So… wise readers, what say ye?

Extraordinary Places

                Deborah "Atianne" Wilson

Deborah “Atianne” Wilson

“Your wealth is a measure of your service to others.” ~ Jewish Proverb

Significant in the coaching profession and in life is the word “shift.” I’ll refrain from defining shift as we each have our own meaning for it. We’ve all experienced shifts – directly or indirectly, voluntarily or involuntarily. My friend, Deborah, having faced abuse, abandonment, rejection, divorce, dis-ease, infertility and financial fears was invited to shift from a place of depression, physical pain and ego misunderstandings to extraordinary places of peace, empowerment, joy, authenticity and love.

Deborah “Atianne” Wilson is known as The Intuitive and Spiritual Wealth Coach. Everything that has shifted, healed and transformed in Deborah’s life has come from the fundamental knowledge that it all matters – we all matter. I know Deborah personally and she is not a ‘woo-woo’ person. She is a grounded woman with uniquely gifted intuitive abilities and thoughtful perspectives. She shared some of her story and her wisdom on this week’s Awakening to Awareness radio show (podcast here).

I invited Deborah to talk about her new book: It’s OK to be Spiritual and Wealthy: 19 Essential Keys for Living a Joyful, Prosperous & Abundant Life… something to which I believe we all aspire. During the show Deborah spoke about important life lessons including: practicing true forgiveness (challenging for many people); the value of expressing and living our life of freedom; divine connection (though not necessarily in a religious sense) and; giving and being in service to others from a joyful place in our hearts.

If the concepts of prosperity, joy, serving others, inner work, and personal responsibility resonate with you, consider listening to the podcast. If you are interested in learning more about Deborah, here’s a link to her website.

Loving Yourself at Any Age

“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

During my life I’ve obeyed; I’ve complied; I’ve bit my tongue and; I’ve conformed. I’ve played the games; I’ve allowed my ego-mind to rule and; I’ve believed I was unworthy. Yet I succeeded (by traditional measures), I’ve grown, and I’m coming into my own being. But do I fully love myself – yet?

You know you are supposed to love yourself, but do you? This is a subject most people don’t like to discuss because society has told us that to think about it, discuss it, or assess it, is an act of selfishness. Additionally, most people avoid exploring themselves for fear that they will discover a lot to not love. The message we get is we are going to have to learn to love ourselves and it isn’t going to be easy or pleasant. The truth is there is nothing to learn, just some important parts to discover.

Without truly loving yourself, your relationships will be challenged and confused by the love dimension. Love will involve neediness and fear of not getting love. The only way to truly love others without needing them and being attached to not getting their love is to experience self-love fully and without condition. This is easier when you explore and discover what you know about yourself. Which is where some discomfort lies.

People are often afraid to love themselves because it means knowing themselves. Yet once a person begins to explore and embrace all parts of themselves, including the mistakes and faults, they discover how it all fits together to make them unique, lovable and loving. Rarely will you be disappointed with what you find. But this process takes time, a lot of time.

As we age, we become more aware of our true needs and wants – and what we have to do to bring them to fruition. There are many ways to love yourself now. If you’re interested in exploring, you might consider these choices:

  • Let go of worry. Loving yourself requires you to let go of your worry. It’s sad to live a life filled with constant worrying. Worry doesn’t help at all and it cannot on its own, make things happen. Only wise actions can. Instead of worrying, think about what you can do to help in the situation. If the situation is beyond your control, then make a request to the Universe/God about what you want. Then, surrender to the outcome.
  • Transform your mindset. Sadly, it’s often easier to get down on yourself than it is to lift yourself up, but if you want to love yourself, you have to change your mindset. You have to believe you’re worthy of love and you have to actively seek out positive things about yourself and your life. Believe me, if you don’t do it, no one else will. Change the way you think about yourself and the rest will fall into place.
  • Be guided by your intuition. All answers come from within. Look for signs and pay attention to your gut feelings. You’ll hear two inner voices when you need to make decisions. The quiet voice is your higher self; the loud voice is your ego. Always go with the quieter voice.

The challenge is to love yourself consciously and completely and be able to smile and nod at yourself even in the most challenging moments. When you discover all of you, you will know that what you have been looking for your whole life has been right in front of you, waiting for you to know it. Love yourself completely and the freedom to love others and all aspects of living will be your reward.

I’m still working on it. Are you?

A Valuable Ally: Intuition

“Not choice, but habit rules the unreflecting herd.” ~ William Wordsworth

To many, the word “habit” carries a negative connotation. Rarely are habits talked about in the same context as creativity and innovation. Yet I consciously chose to step into a habit while flying home this past weekend. And that simple habit was/is to do nothing on the flight other than to listen; listen and reflect on what I had I heard during the previous four days. Call it my intentional reflecting time.

Brain researchers have discovered that when we consciously think about and develop new habits, we create parallel synaptic paths that can jump our trains of thought onto new, innovative tracks. As I was listening (a valuable habit), I also consciously thought about how I could effect change and create some new habits, based on inputs from my Mastermind gathering.

Then the inner voice, a valuable resource in so many decision-making processes, made itself heard. Also known as gut feeling or intuition, it’s often a better guide than you may think. Maybe you have experienced intuition – without even consciously thinking about something, a clear choice or solution suddenly comes to mind. Or perhaps you’ve had an impulse to do or not do something, accompanied by a lump in the throat or a peculiar feeling in your stomach. Conversely, you can feel enthusiastic about something, without really knowing why. These feelings are not merely coincidental, they reflect intuition.

And what did my inner voice whisper while airborne? It told me that I needed to refine my business vision, mission and purpose so that I can communicate them to others with even greater clarity. So I reflected on this for a while because I didn’t want to confuse my intuition with prejudices and emotions. Not every first or spontaneous impression ought to be interpreted as intuition and an element of conscious filtering is definitely needed to ensure we don’t let our emotions run away with us – under the guise of intuition.

If you are interested in exploring or further developing your intuition, here are three suggestions:

  • An ability to use intuition can be learned or trained. Part of the trick is to become more conscious of your intuition and how it works. By monitoring your intuition over time – and, in particular, noting and analyzing when it paid off, it is possible to develop and use the process productively.
  • Intuition can be encouraged by allowing your thoughts to roam without forcing thought patterns back into a traditional rut. In an attempt to be rational, people often “manually override” intuitive messages and it is only after things go wrong that they look back and realize they “had a feeling” that was not a good idea, but did not understand why.
  • It is necessary to learn how to listen to one’s body. Muscular tension, sensations in the stomach, and a desire to move further away or closer to something or someone, can have real significance for some situations.

Rationality and facts are vital to business life and always will be. However, the guiding role of intuition ought not be underestimated. Even if you are simply listening, thinking about new habits, contemplating change, or making decisions, it is easier to innovate if you are willing to move through the unknown and go from curiosity to wonder. Part of this involves engaging your intuition.

Deciding and Choosing

“We must make the choices that enable us to fulfill the deepest capacities of our real selves.” ~ Thomas Merton

If you view my tag cloud, you would see choice as one of the most frequent tags. It is also one of the 14 categories about which I blog. It’s omnipresent in our everyday lives.

Each of us has the power to choose the path of our own thoughts and actions. The ability to make wise and fulfilling decisions, however, is a skill that is learned over time. One way to practice your decision-making skills is to make up of a pro and con list. Why? Because the creation of a list weighing the advantages and disadvantages of a choice can help you avoid focusing on the potential benefits or drawbacks of an option without addressing all of the variables.

A ‘for and against’ list represents a concrete way of looking at a problem. It can help you view a set of choices more clearly, giving you a chance to analyze each variable in an objective manner, while providing a sense of the most pleasing outcome. And it’s an easy exercise. Simply create a page mirroring the below image but keep in mind that some decisions have many aspects and may require you to make multiple choices, thus the possible need for more than one ‘pro and con’ list.

Some choices will simply involve moving forward or not, or changing or not, and will require only one list. The work comes in examining each potential outcome relating to the choice under consideration. When you have reviewed each outcome, tally the two columns and compare the pros and cons. If you were objective, the results may surprise you.

Philosopher and psychologist, William James, once said, “When you have to make a choice and don’t make it, that is in itself a choice.” By looking at a choice in terms of the positive and negative results that will occur, you may distance yourself from it. That distance creates a perspective in which the problem at hand is an issue that needs to be resolved, rather than a decision that will have an impact on the person you are. But a list is a tool that needn’t have the final say in a decision. Rather, it can be a helpful stepping stone in your decision-making process.

Choosing can be a variable mix of subjective and scientific. Following are three random ideas to consider when making decisions:

  • Don’t problem solve, decide. A decision can solve a problem, but not every problem can be solved by making a decision. Instead, decision-making often relies more on intuition than analysis. Deciding between vendors, for instance, requires examining historical data, references and prices. But the tipping point often rests with your gut. Which feels like the right choice?
  • Just because someone observed it doesn’t mean it’s true. We all overestimate what we believe we know, observed, and experienced. We are famous for our overconfidence — psychologists dub it “The Overconfidence Bias” — which hampers successful planning. Mistrust your knowledge — and everyone else’s.
  • Think about how you will feel when you are 70. First, it will put the difficult decision into perspective (maybe it’s not as big a deal as you think it is) and secondly, it will help you make a good decision for the long-term, rather than just for instant gratification.

Image Isn’t Everything

“Everything will line up perfectly when knowing and living the truth becomes more important than looking good.” ~ Alan Cohen

I’m opening with this quote for two reasons: 1) I love it! and; 2) It is the most frequently linked/copied image from any of my posts.

Back in mid-June I wrote a piece about Opinion versus Judgment . In the spirit of that post, I’d like to express an opinion about being authentic: Let’s stop all of the “image management.” It’s exhausting, stressful and the exact opposite of authenticity. I have been there and let me reassure you that trying so very hard to be liked, loved, forgiven and accepted, when you are not being authentic yourself, only leads to discouragement and depletion of self.

Let’s first recognize that an authentic voice is that quiet, persistent messenger who speaks to your intuition, telling you what is right for you and what you really need. Fairly simple, right? Yet being authentic means being yourself 24/7 and sometimes that isn’t easy. While it may be easy to stay in your comfort zone, finding the courage to be who you really are (I know, I emphasize this often), will help you realize your true potential. So how will you know you are being authentic? You will feel happy, expanded, optimistic, and relaxed. Whereas feeling restricted or contracted is a sign that you are shutting down and not being as authentic as you can be.

Being authentic begins from an assumption that many things are fake or not entirely real, genuine, sincere, or original. What we value in western culture and ourselves reveals much about our lifestyle, marketing, and communication attitudes. What we demonstrate in our ‘being’ speaks volumes about our alignment with values. But there is another facet that we overlook when we consider being authentic and that is intimacy.

Where authenticity is an ability to accurately share what is going on in our hearts and minds, intimacy is the level to which we share those things. It has to do with how far into our hearts and minds we let other people see. Authenticity is about clarity and definition. Intimacy is about depth.

A challenge, then, to being authentic is not understanding the layers involved in getting to know people. Most of us have layers; it’s how we protect and honor ourselves. But it’s the layers (the masks that hide the true self underneath) that seem inauthentic. Foundational to my work is establishing trust and intimacy with a client. Discovering what ‘lies beneath’ is something one has to want and another has to earn the right to see. When permission is given to peel back layers, exploring who the authentic you is – almost always yields new awareness, greater freedom, and a more inspired you.

So how can you begin to be your even more ‘authentic self?’ Here are three ideas:

  • Be a friend in real-time. Rarely does intimacy occur on Facebook or Twitter. If there is no face-to-face interaction in your relationships, intimacy doesn’t have space to grow. Go ahead and check with your friends in the digital space, but also create time to be a friend in real life. Invest in your true self, not in your cyber self.
  • Disregard the cynics. This is an important factor in being true to yourself. Being you is much more attractive than creating a false image so others are satisfied.
  • Align with yourself. In which direction are your feet walking? Are they walking toward what is passionate in your heart? If they’re not, can you justify why?

As long as you keep being you, as long as you keep staying true to yourself and who you are, it doesn’t matter what others think of you. What matters is that you are living in your truth and the people who need you will find you. And you will find the people you need.

Life’s Shifts

“Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It’s the transition that’s troublesome.” ~ Isaac Asimov

Considering metamorphosis, we are more like butterflies than we typically think. We go through stages, we spread our wings, we soar, sometimes we get caught, and we evolve into something beautiful – if that’s what we choose. That’s a lot of similarities between we humans and the sentient being, Lepidoptera.

And sometimes a part of us must die before another part can come to life. Even though this is a natural and necessary part of our growth, it is often painful or, if we don’t realize what’s happening, confusing and disorienting. In fact, confusion and disorientation are often the messengers that tell us a shift is taking place within us. These shifts happen throughout the lives of all humans, as we move from infancy to childhood to adolescence and beyond. With each transition from one phase to another, we find ourselves saying goodbye to an old friend, the identity we formed in order to move through that particular time.

Sometimes we form these identities in relationships or jobs, and when we shift those areas of our life become unsettled. Usually, if we take the time to look into the changing surface of things, we will find that a shift is taking place within us. For example, we may go through one whole chapter of our lives creating a protective shell around ourselves because we need it in order to heal from some early trauma. One day though, we may find ourselves feeling confined and restless, wanting to move outside the shelter we needed for so long; the new part of ourselves cannot be born within the confines of the shell our old self needed to survive.

Feelings of joyousness or anguish might present as we say goodbye to part of ourselves that is dying and make way for a whole new identity. You’ve been there, haven’t you? We may find inspiration in working with the image of an animal or insect who molts or sheds in order for new skin, fur, or feathers to emerge. We can surrender to this process, letting go of our past self, and welcome the new with an open mind and heart, ready for our next phase of life. Or we can choose to not let go.

As you transition through life, here are three ways to cradle the changes:

  1. Let go of why. The answer to why isn’t always obvious. It can take months or even years to get the full perspective on why certain events happen in your life. Believing in ‘not knowing’ will relieve you of considerable apprehension. Sometimes it doesn’t matter why. It’s happening, so now what?
  2. Follow your intuition. Some transitions can’t be analyzed and thought out (I know, I’ve tried). The changes and shifts you are going through may be so subtle that you have to sit quietly and listen to what your instinct is telling you. Once you’ve analyzed, ad nauseam, turn the matter over to your heart. It knows what you want and where you are going before your brain does.
  3. Journal. Write it all down. Journaling is healing and helpful during transitions. When your emotions are shifting faster than you can keep up with, it’s good to be able to go back and read everything that you’ve gone through and what you’ve been thinking. It’s good to release your pent-up feelings on paper.

Keep the memories, choose to surrender, and move forward. You’ve done it before. 🙂

Are You Wise?

“We are not provided with wisdom, we must discover it for ourselves, after a journey through the wilderness which no one else can take for us, and effort which no one can spare us.” ~ Marcel Proust

As with art, pornography or unforgettable destinations, people generally recognize “it” when they encounter it. Unique experiences are filtered through personal bias, taste and interpretation. The same might be said of power.

The usual definition of power is to control or force something or someone. When it comes to our lives this definition is troublesome and even dangerous. Our true power is not what we can do outside or even what can be done to us from the outside. Our greatest power is within us. It is the power of our own thoughts and our wisdom.

It is generally accepted that our thoughts create our experiences through our perception, expectations, assessment situations, other people, and happenings. Reality is the one we create and we are quite good at doing this. We give a lot of power to what we think is happening or could happen. We then use our power to make choices, think, and feel to continue the reality we have created. For example, the more afraid someone is of what they believe is happening or could happen, the more they react to protect themselves or act to find safety and security. All this because of what they feared, which was nothing more than a thought in anticipation of an event.

Wow. Long paragraph.

Wisdom comes from what our experiences reveal about our possibilities and our self-imposed limitations. Experiences are our teachers, not our jailers with the value in what is learned.

While wisdom is practical, useful and abundantly available, wisdom is measurably about what matters and what we do about it.

The most powerful aspect of our wisdom is our access to universal wisdom. This wisdom is available to everyone at anytime. It’s not dependent on our being good or worthy. It has no limitation or restriction. To access this wise guidance we need only open our hearts and minds to hear its whispers. It speaks to us as an insight, intuition, or an answer to a question. It also quietly nudges us with an inspiration or the illumination of a situation’s possibility for resolution.

We are powerful and how we use our power determines the quality of our experiences and our lives. We can rely on the power of our limiting thoughts and especially fears to guide our choices. Or, we can rely on our personal wisdom to show us what is best in us, others, and our possibilities.

The greatest power we have is the power to choose.

Choose between the illusion of outside power or the truth of the power within.

I am relatively smart. I possess a decent intellect. But I often wonder… Am I wise? Do I always use the power of my own truth? And allow it to prevail?

What about you?