Friday, August 6, 2010


How do you attain happiness when it appears that things are crumbling all around you? Well the good news is that happiness is not a byproduct of external things such as wealth, fame or success. Happiness is created from within. It is an attitude which multiplies feelings of gratitude which feeds happiness. When I attended a happiness conference I was taught that gratitude and focusing on staying in the moment were two essential ingredients found in happiness quotient. Marci Shimoff researched the subject and found that people could increase their happiness if they practiced 3 essential laws cited below.

The Law of Universal Support

I began to notice that my clients had similar experiences. Take Julie who had been downsized from a high paying media job where she made over $150,00 to manage radio programming. When she lost her position she told herself that she would never would have had the courage to leave such a position because she had always "played it safe." She believed that her termination was pushing her towards consultation and working on her own which had been a dream of hers for over 5 years. She told me, "Maybe this is the universe's way of saying "Julie you can do great things once you break out of you comfort zone" As a result, she did not see herself as a victim She started to pursue other companies who would benefit from her expertise. She felt that the Universe was there to support her which gave her the CONFIDENCE to take her life to the next level!

The Law of Abundance

My clients Tim and Terry contacted me because they felt that their marriage was dead. They reported that they had fallen out of love with each other but knew they should stay together because of the kids. I felt like they had come to see me to get permission to go their separate ways. I asked them if they were willing to learn and practice some techniques before they threw in the towel? They half heartedly agreed they would try but they weren't convinced that what you appreciate...appreciates! I suggested that they practice the Law of Abundance. I explained that they should focus on the strengths they saw within the marriage and if they truly focused on the positives, it would likely encourage more positive feelings in their relationship. They quickly realized that when they focused on what was wrong in the relationship it created a feeling of scarcity but when they worked from a place of abundance, they saw more potential. I need not tell you that after 90 days their relationship was renewed and they recommitted themselves to each other.

The Law of Attraction

Sandy wanted a relationship but came in complaining that she just did not believe that it would ever happen. Secretly I felt that she was sabotaging herself unconsciously so I gave her the assignment to find things in her life that would fill her with love and joy. I knew she would have more luck if she filled herself with the feeling she so desperately wanted. She started playing guitar, spent more time with her nieces and adopted a puppy. Needless to say her increased sense of happiness attracted several men who had much to offer her but then when you practice all the love in your attract it.
Do you need to increase your happiness factor? Which law might you practice to bring more happiness into your life?

Self Respect

When people enter into a partnership, there will always be issues that they will have to accept about the other person. However, when one person blatantly disregards the feelings of his or her spouse, it becomes a serious problem. It is difficult to watch people repeatedly put up with substandard behavior from their loved ones. All too often, I see one partner who mistreats the other by verbally or emotionally berating him or her. Frequently there are indiscretions that contaminate the relationship.

It is easy to blame the irresponsible “perpetrator” who is not committed to the relationship. However, a seasoned professional knows that the “victim” holds the power card because they ultimately have the choice to stop the insanity. It is up to this person who is repeatedly disappointed to decide how much abuse or neglect she will take before the decision is made to move out of the relationship.

I remember a client whose spouse had been staying out late, drinking with the guys and philandering on a regular basis. He seemed to have a total disregard for their relationship. To make matters worse, my client complained that she was receiving one to two calls per week from strange women who wanted to talk to her husband. She found this intolerable.

As she told her story, you could see her anger, hurt, and disgust. She became empowered, made statements about not putting up with this any longer, and declared her intentions to set limits and boundaries. But the next week she would revert back to her old behaviors which lacked empowerment. She would return to denial and say, “But he swears they are only friends” or “I don’t think he would have had time to sleep with her.” It was as if her anger had motivated her to stand up for herself and then she slipped back into that passive state where it seemed easier to tolerate the behavior than to take a stand of self-respect.

She knew that she was in therapy to become accountable for what she was willing to put up with emotionally. She needed to look at the pros and cons of staying in the relationship, the trade-offs and the toll it was taking on her emotional health.

After she rationally assessed her situation, she began to look at her options. She recognized her choices and took back her power. My client had initially come in feeling helpless because she couldn’t make her husband stop his behavior. She knew that she needed to learn assertiveness and share her feelings even though it didn’t change him. She learned that she needed to be more independent and stand on her own two feet, even if but it didn’t stop him from cheating. She developed more relationships and became less dependent on him even though it didn’t alter his behavior. As she got stronger it became inevitable that she would need to make the ultimate decision. She eventually separated which resulted in a divorce.
Two years later she married a wonderful man who adores her. She still has a soft spot in her heart for her ex, but she knows that she deserved a better life for herself. She heard from friends that her ex-husband continues to cheat despite his new marriage. It appeared that nothing would change. She felt gratitude that although she could not change the way he treated her, she could stand up for herself and create the dignity she deserved.

Retraining Your Brain: The Pursuit of Happiness

In this article you will learn how promote happiness regardless of the stress around you.. We all are facing the challenges of dealing with the economic downturn; however there are certain skills that you can learn that will keep you strong during these times.

Happiness is not a byproduct of external things such as wealth, fame or success. Happiness is created from within. Happiness is an attitude which multiplies feelings of gratitude which directly feeds your sense of happiness. People who are truly happy believe in 2 universal laws that support them. They believe that despite hard economic times, this world is here to support them and as a result, they utilize the support around them. They also know that when they focus on what is going right, they are more likely to co-create that experience and live from that experience.

Many clients wonder what they need to do to create more happiness in their life. I encourage them to learn the skill of reframing. Reframing is the ability to take any situation and see the positives in it. I tell my clients that it is the ability to “put a positive spin on things”.

Let's look at some common situations and see how to apply these concepts.

Getting a divorce?
Look at divorce as an opportunity to grow as an individual. You can’t stop the process, so ask yourself what you can do to get through it with integrity.

Losing 60% of your net worth because of the stock market?
Tell yourself that losing the money allows you an opportunity to find other creative ways to make money. Refocus on what you do have in your life as opposed to the monetary losses.

Does a family member or friend have a terminal illness?
Remind yourself that you can make a difference in their life and recognize what differences they have made in your life. Focus on the moment instead of the future. You will experience this person differently when your focus becomes appreciation.

I picked three traumatic situations to highlight that life is about how we choose to look at things. It’s not the outcome but the journey that we need to stay focused on and learn from. If you make the conscious choice to look at life with a positive attitude, you will promote that state of well-being that will create happiness.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Yet, we live in a society that doesn’t promote happiness unless you meet its rigid standards. Consequently, you will need to fight the urge to be a specific size, make a particular income, or acquire materialistic things.

Unfortunately we weren’t trained in school to develop happiness and yet it is an easy skill to learn if you practice the following steps daily.

• Train your mind to focus on what is going right in your daily life

• Replace the negative self-talk with a positive statement. When negative thoughts occur make a conscious choice to refocus on the positives and “create a positive spin”.

• Repeat the positive statement silently to yourself. As you do this your attitude becomes naturally more joyful and positive.

• Use reframing in any situation that appears problematic. Look at what a situation has to teach you or how it has made you stronger. You will replace the victim role and have a better sense of your own personal strength!

Shift That Anxiety

It has become very common for women to suffer from an anxiety disorder at some point in their life. Sometimes it can be situational: your husband loses his job, you get downsized, your child goes off to college, or your real estate business has been affected by the economic crisis. Some women suffer from panic attacks that are unprovoked and occur for no particular reason. Other women have generalized anxiety because of their mindset. They see the glass as half empty or they are waiting for the other shoe to fall.

Are you the type of person who lets fears and anxieties permeate your existence? Maybe your life is going well but you worry too much to be able to enjoy it. Perhaps your past keeps you from living in the moment and enjoying the here and now. Regardless of the type of anxiety that you might suffer from….you can utilize some skills that will assist you in managing it.

How do you reduce it? Well you may not know this but it is impossible to have 2 simultaneous thoughts at the same time, therefore you can learn to shift your anxiety with an alternative and balanced thought which will greatly reduce it. I worked with a young mother who feared for her daughter’s health. She constantly fretted that her daughter would become ill because she was exposed to other children’s germs. She created a more realistic thought that reminded her that the germs would strengthen her immune system. This greatly reduced the anxiety.

A real estate agent reported that she had never worked so hard in her life showing houses and making no money. When asked to identify other positive aspects of what she was doing, she was able to admit that she was establishing more contacts, building more relationships and developing a funnel system whereby her potential clients would remember her once they were in a better financial situation. She decided that this was part of good reality work too so she decided not to measure her success solely by money.

I worked with one woman whose husband had had an affair. She was having difficulty letting go of the anxiety that he would cheat on her again. Her fears were keeping her from noticing all the changes that he was making and it kept her in a state of “hyper alert.” As a result, she was feeling more and more anxious and was unable to allow him to make the amends to her that she so greatly deserved. In her case, she needed to resolve her anger so that she could let go of it. When she participated in “The Vesuvius” she expressed the rage she felt symbolically and was able to let go of it. When she released her anger, the anxiety also dissipated.
Although anxiety is a normal feeling, there are many things you can do to keep it in check. Taking a yoga class, meditating, deep breathing and progressive relaxation with visualization are all techniques that will center you and keep you less anxious. Having a deep spiritual connection will allow you to concentrate on only those things that you can control. In my anxiety classes, I teach people to use self soothing statements that puts anxiety in perspective. So the next time you are feeling anxious remind yourself that “this too shall pass or let go and let God.” When you do you will be learning how to manage your anxiety.

Staying Positive Despite the Negative

Life is not what happens to you but how you interpret it. As a result, we are all responsible for how we interpret the normal and not so normal things that happen to us. Everything in our life is a choice and despite the fact that there are a lot of scary things happening in the world right now, we still get to decide how to view life and how we choose to relate to it. When you ascribe to this philosophy, you will find yourself happier, healthier and more adept at conquering your daily routine.

If you want to enjoy life to the fullest, you will likely need to put your focus on how you appreciate your day. It often helps if you create some rituals that remind you to practice your appreciation daily. The more you appreciate it…it will appreciate!

I have no doubt that many of you have your own techniques and practices keep you focused on gratitude and positive empowerment. We all need to spread these mindsets to remind others that life has much to offer even when it appears so uncertain.

One of my daily rituals occurs at the moment that I wake up when I begin to list 10 things that I feel grateful for. This typically includes my health, my puppy, my husband who tucks me in every night, my girlfriends who nurture me, my books that I religiously get from the library, my clients who teach me as much about life as I teach them, my power walks that remind me that I am vibrant and strong….you get the idea. Sometimes I step up my list by including things that have nothing to do with me and are a creation of life itself like the sun, the clean air, the starry nights, the natural fragrance of the flowers, the incredible colors that make up a typical day. If you were to spend 3 minutes appreciating your life….what might you include?

If you watch the movie/documentary “The Secret” you may remember that one of the commentators put a stone in his pocket and each time he reached into his pocket it reminded him to account for something that was working in his life…something he felt grateful for.

You remember the church that challenged its parishioners to wear a “no complaints band” and when they caught themselves complaining they would need to put it on the other wrist. Their goal was to go 21 days without complaining.

Successful people view their circumstances from the “glass is half full mentality.” It doesn’t take away from the realities of life but it does empower them to not feel so afraid or so victimized. Not only does it promote good mental health but it creates a healthier energy that will uplift others.
So what might you do to create this mindset in your own life? Spend a few moments asking yourself how you can turnaround your own fearful, anxious or negative thoughts so that you can view things differently or balance them with the good things that are everywhere around you. Role modeling these behaviors will dramatically influence your kids, co-workers, friends and family.
One of my favorite quotes comes from Victor Frankyl who survived the Nazi war camps by living out the philosophy….

Use Self Parenting To Help Heal the Wounds

Women grow up hoping that they will find the perfect person to help to complete them. Typically what they find is that they attract people into their life that duplicate their family of origin issues. They may have hoped that they would get at least some of their unmet needs from childhood met once they found their partner however they attract more of the same until they resolve old issues and get healthy. Children who grew up in abusive homes hoped for safety and security in their marriage. Children who didn’t get validated or shown enough approval hoped to find a spouse that could do this for them. Did you grow up with a critical, angry alcoholic parent and now have found that you are attracted to someone with some of these same characteristics? That is not unusual.

Your partner or boyfriend is not responsible for healing past wounds. If you want to work on rectifying your situation; you need to get healthier yourself so that you attract the more evolved person into your life.

Here’s how it works:

Spend a few minutes sitting in a comfortable chair thinking back on your parent-child relationship. When did you enjoy it the most? Identify what areas were lacking in your life. Was it attention? Validation? Approval? Affection? Write a short sentence or paragraph describing that unmet need. Include why that need is so important to you now. What will most likely come up for you is called a core issue. Unresolved core issues drive you to enter relationships whereby you can, as an adult, resolve the issue, heal the wound, and right the wrong. Our psyches are like compasses and they steer us in a direction for the partner that represents or symbolizes what we didn’t get in childhood.

How do you create an experience where you get what you need in a marriage with another person? The answer lies within healing the childhood wounds through self parenting. Most people get stuck in the relationship not knowing where to turn or how to get their needs met. They either fight with their spouse to be noticed, approved, validated, or loved, or they acquiesce and resign themselves to the fatal position that they are destined to feel unloved, invalidated, or disapproved. It is crucial to move beyond this stage, because if you don’t you will either separate emotionally from your marriage, or you will physically move out of it, resulting in a divorce.

Learn ways to take care of your own needs via the use of self-parenting. This is a process in which you learn how to give yourself what you didn’t get as a child and learn to meet your own needs.

Do you give too much because you’re looking for approval? It’s time to say no, and give to yourself Need affection and attention? Find a group of supportive women who will support you and fill some of the emptiness. Spend time boosting yourself up and reminding yourself of your strengths just like an ideal parent would. The key is to treat yourself gently and support yourself as if you were your own parent.

Wouldn't it be nice if you "showed up" in your life feeling good about you and therefore you didn't need so much from one person? Identify your needs and find ways to meet them and watch the transformation that occurs in your life.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Slug Syndrome

Do you love someone who has been afflicted with a condition known as “slug syndrome”? This is a common disorder that can occur in humans during certain periods of their life, or it can be a life-long condition. It can be characterized by four common features:

• An inability to follow through with activities that are common tasks.
• An unwillingness to get off a conventional piece of furniture (e.g. the couch) or detach from a common household piece of equipment or appliance (e.g. a computer or TV).
• A reluctance to pursue an ambition, goal or dream because it either seems unachievable or it is too much work.
• Procrastination. This is when putting things off interferes with a well-meaning plan to the point that nothing ever gets done and unfinished activities accumulate. It can cause great stress and discontent to the significant others in the procrastinator’s life.

If this pattern sounds familiar, you may be asking, “what can I do to get my partner motivated or get my teenager to regularly assume their daily chores?”

The bad news is that if the condition is long-term or chronic, the prognosis is poor. Your loved one likely has this ingrained in their personality and may not be bothered by the condition—despite your nagging. If you ask yourself who owns the problem and your answer is that you do, it will require that you either set a consequence that clearly does not enable the condition, or change your own attitude so as not to cause undue mental stress.

It’s as simple as:

• Your teenager won’t take out the trash? Don’t allow car privileges.
• Your partner won’t contribute to the family? This is harder. You can’t withhold sex—or can you? No, I don’t advocate that!

These consequences won’t change the behavior, but it will reinforce that there is a consequence when you live the life of a slacker.

To avoid overcompensating or enabling this condition, I suggest that you look at ways to make your life more comfortable.

• Let the leaves decompose instead of raking.
• Start using paper plates instead of washing the dishes.
• No need to bust your butt to do their laundry.

I am not telling you to go on strike, but I am suggesting that you take care of yourself first and let them experience the inconvenience caused by you not taking up the slack.

If it is you that suffers from “slug syndrome”, I would ask that you:

• Prioritize what you want to change.
• Write down small steps to attaining that change. Remember, keep them small and simple.
• Create a time to do one thing daily or weekly to get you motivated and closer to your goals.
• Create a regular time to work on it.
For instance, when I need to clean my closet, I tell myself that I am going to grab a cup of coffee and straighten my closet until that first cup of coffee is gone. When I deal with a bigger goal, like seeking a new job, I address 20 envelopes so that I am more likely to send that resume out immediately instead of letting it sit on my desk.
If you have a predisposition to being a slug, you must look for strategies that will assist you in getting the job done despite yourself. Look at ways in 2010 to break old habits!

How to Create the Life You Deserve

Are you somebody who easily gets disappointed by others?
• Perhaps you have a family who seems to take you for granted and they never seem to put your needs before their own.

• It might be that you frequently find that your spouse is oblivious to what you want out of the relationship and you are tired of sounding like a broken record, reminding him that you would like him to help around the house. He never inquires about transporting the kids to their soccer games as opposed to him seeing that function as primarily your job as the manager of the family.

Unfortunately as a woman, you have trained people all too well, how capable you are at handling multiple tasks that involve a variety of activities.

So what is the secret to breaking the cycle, teaching people how to treat you and putting your needs on the front burner?

I must warn you the guidelines that I am about to give you may not seem related to the problem because they have to do with things that are solely your responsibility. You see, if you walk around feeling disappointed all the time, you need to set different priorities for your life.

So the following information has to do with you looking at what you can do to change the way the family functions.

Let's take the mom who is doing everything for her family and now she is experiencing burnout. She would like others in her family to start doing their share like picking up, helping with the dinner, cleaning out the car after a trip to the store and basically being responsible for the things in their life that they could help manage. To redistribute this division of duties requires that you forewarn your family that you will likely need to back off from doing it all and that "from here on out" they will need to ask you if you are available to take them to the store to pick up markers for the project.

Now here is the tough must make sure that you say no as much as you say yes so that they can see how important it is to coordinate with you. Perhaps you can leverage your participation by reminding the kids that you won't be able to take them to the mall until their room is cleaned up and has met with your inspection. This means that in no way should you back down or else they will revert to doing little and expecting a lot which we know means that you will resort to lots of resentment mixed with a healthy dose of burnout. (In my business, we call it compassion fatigue, which means you care so much that you don't have time to care for yourself.)

The hardest part of this delimma is that you will either want to back down or you will give in to old behaviors because the family will seem so unhappy with your new changes. They will balk and squalk so much that you will wonder if it is worth the behavioral change, but let me assure you it is. When you stand strong in a quiet, unassuming way, they are forced to change their behavior to ulimately get what they want which in turn, helps the division of dutes and affords you more time for yourself.

Now how might you spend all that extra time?

Defense Mechanisms: Friend or Foe?

Do you look at life realistically or do you find yourself softening situations by looking at life with rose colored glasses? Many times woman will use coping mechanisms to deal with the pain of human behavior. Defense mechanisms can protect you in time of crisis. When used excessively, it creates faulty or distorted thinking.

Defense mechanisms help you cope with adversity. The most common defense mechanisms include:

• Rationalization
• Minimization
• Denial

Are you protecting yourself by over using these coping mechanisms?

Rationalization means that you make an excuse for what has occurred in your life, or you make excuses for your own behavior. As a woman, have you ever said, “I deserve to eat this piece of cake.” when you are on a diet, or “I have had a hard day and I need to relax with a drink.” or “I will buy this outfit because it’s 60% off (knowing you don’t need another outfit).” These are frequently used rationalizations to justify behaviors.
It is not uncommon to want things and to come up with excuses to rationalize why it is ok to pick an unhealthy choice . The problem with these types of excuses is that initially it may help you to justify immediate gratification but in reality it will stop you from making long term healthy choices. Although rationalizations may have helped you to ease the pain you experienced in the world; when used to extremes it keeps you from being responsible for your own behaviors and it keeps you from finding success in your life!
Minimization allows you to decrease the intensity of a situation. When you use minimization it decreases the significance of what is occurring in your life . This may be protective in nature but also sets you up for not acknowledging the pain you may experience or the pain you may cause another person.

When tough things happen to you, you may find it easier to minimize the intensity of your feelings which keeps you from living life to its fullest.
Denial helps you to block what is really happening to you however it keeps you locked into seeing only a small part of what is really happening to you. If you find out that someone has cancer, the defense mechanism of denial might kick in and reassure you that your loved one really doesn’t have the illness and is not at risk for death. Denial should decrease once you get more comfortable with the reality. As you begin to accept the trauma that may naturally occur in your life, you should move out of the denial state. However, if denial does not subside it may keep you in a delusional state making it tough to adjust to the crisis.

People who are addicted to drugs and alcohol are often in a state of denial. They do not believe they have a physical addiction and do not realize how their addiction affects others. The denial allows them to continue their behavior that supports the addiction.

As you can see, it is easy to overuse defense mechanisms. Not only does it change the perception of what is happening to you, but it also interferes with how you handle life.
If you are utilizing defense mechanisms as your primary way of coping, take a risk and look for opportunities to deal with the reality of what is happening. It will improve your life and the lives of others around you.

Conflict Breeds Intimacy

It is natural to experience conflict with your spouse. But it is quite likely that you are uncomfortable dealing with it in part because no one taught you how to use it to bring you closer to the person.
Conflict is normal and should breed intimacy after it is over. When you and your spouse are in disagreement it is important to encourage the conflict and healthy resolution. Here are some tools to help that process.
• When in conflict, listen to your partner. Spend more time listening than talking
• Validate his feelings. Let him know you understand (even if you don’t agree!)

It doesn’t matter who is right. In emotionally healthy relationships, you may actually choose to stop fighting even if you could argue your point for days.

Whenever possible practice saying the following:

• You were right.
• I was wrong.
• I’m sorry or will you forgive me?
• I love you.

These four statements de-escalate a conflict when said genuinely to your partner. He won't need to argue with you about why he is right. His defenses decrease and you work through the conflicts faster. Don't expect an apology. You don’t need an apology to move on. As a matter of fact, if you wait for one, you will continue to harbor resentment. An emotionally mature person acknowledges how she contributed to the problem.

• Let your partner know that you recognize and appreciate his strengths. Conflict is resolved more quickly when you balance the conversation with your partner’s strengths and positive qualities (sometimes this takes major thought and rehearsal, but make sure you get it in, because it will make a difference). The last disagreement I had with my husband started with me being frustrated that he continued to do something that really irritated me but what happened was the argument flipped to my parental tone of voice. Even though I could have disregarded his rebuttal and remained steadfast with my complaint, I decided to honor his concerns, validate his feelings, and let the rest go. I had "faith" that he really heard my initial concerns: o)

• Remember when you use reflective listening with your partner, don’t get defensive! Use the statement, “This isn’t about me, this is about him.” Continue to work with conflict by using this technique. It will keep you from feeling attacked, which is a normal reaction in conflict.

• Whenever possible and appropriate, touch your partner while in conflict as long as he will let you. A physical connection creates an unconscious connection that solidifies the relationship.

• Lastly, after you have discussed the conflict, give each other some breathing room. Go do something that is active. Exercise, clean the house, do anything that externalizes your feelings. Take some time-outs as it gives both of you time to process the information. Ask your partner if you can table the discussion for an hour or two or a day. When you return you should be calmer and more solution-oriented.
The toughest part about conflict is feeling confident that you can work things out. It’s important to convey that to your partner. One of the best ways to do that is to resume your normal life and not let the conflict stop you from being close. Couples work through conflict quicker when they don’t hold it over each other’s heads. Practice using the tools of conflict and watch your relationship grow!