Archive for the ‘Personal Development’ Category

The End of the Line- Stop seeking. Be.

Written by Kate • November 5, 2017 •
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End of the Line

Be Here. Now.

The End of the Line

There comes a point in each of our spiritual journeys that we know it’s time to stop seeking validation, knowledge, or input from any more external sources. No matter how enlightened the guru, skilled the expert, or inspiring the author, there comes a time when it’s time to just do the work.

The Work. Be Here.

Sit in stillness.

Listen to the silence.

Notice your thoughts and feelings rise up and float away.

No more seeking or fixing or trying.

Be here now.

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What Are Your Beliefs? How to Uncover the Unconscious Beliefs Running Your Brain

Written by Kate • November 3, 2017 •
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Break Free

Break Free From Unconscious Beliefs

What’s Running Your Brain?

There are lots of unhelpful unconscious thought patterns running your brain. Because they’re unconscious, meaning they are so ingrained in your neural pathways that once triggered, the thought patterns are nearly instantaneous and therefore essentially unknown to your conscious mind. I say “essentially unknown” because, in fact, it’s your brain and while you may not always be conscious of the thought pattern, with attention and stillness, you can be aware of the thoughts  and beliefs that arise, even in triggering situations, even if there isn’t anything you can do in that moment to counter the ingrained thought and resultant behavior pattern. While many of your thought patterns may be beneficial to you, some may be working against what it is you want from life.

What Do You Believe?

For example, as a child -and without blaming my parents for living their life based on their own thought patterns and beliefs, I learned that when you’ve had a really bad day, you have a stiff drink to help you calm down and manage your emotions. When you’ve been in a car accident, you have a stiff drink to help you calm down and manage your emotions. When you have a party or go out to eat, you have a drink to have fun. Party=drinking. Going out to eat=have a drink or two. One day in my early 20s, on a day with a few emotional upheavals, I started thinking about having a drink. I didn’t have any of my normal hooch in the house so I cast about for something else to drink. And I wondered why I needed a drink so much on this particular day. I then realized that with the ebbing of my emotional upheaval, in its wake I was left with a wrung-out feeling. And that wrung-out feeling meant, in a my habitual way of thinking, I needed a drink to fully calm down from the lows of my day. But really, did I need the drink? How about if I just felt my feelings instead? It was a novel concept: just deal with my bad day without the stiff drink that I was conditioned to think was normal (and necessary).

Later in life, I also learned, once I moved in my with partner 13 years ago, that despite being a feminist down to the bone, I believed that men take out the trash. That first month, the trash can got more and more full and I started wondering when the heck he was going to take out the trash. Finally, I just asked him when he was going to take it out. He looked at it me in wonder, asking me why I thought he would take it out? And I realized only then that I had an unconscious belief pattern that was running my brain without me being fully conscious of it. So I took out the trash and I take out the trash to this day, when it needs it and I’m the one who notices first.

I could go on and on about the beliefs I’ve uncovered with attention and inquiry. Over the years, I’ve become aware of many unconscious thought patterns and had glimpses of many more. I know I have or have had unconscious thought patterns and beliefs about money, how much money I should have, eating, travel, sex, relationships, healthy boundaries, spirituality, compassion, the Divine, and on and on and on ad infinitum.

Thought Patterns versus Beliefs

I use thought patterns and beliefs interchangeably here. There are more learned people than I who know about which is first, the thought pattern or the belief. I look at it as the chicken or the egg. Which came first is likely the thought pattern. And with repetition comes the belief. In regards to my belief about having a stiff drink, I remember my Mom came home one day when I was 9 years old or so. She was shaking and clearly distraught from a car accident she’d just been involved in. Dad immediately when to the liquor cabinet and got her drink, something like rum and coke or vodka and a mix. And she drank it and was much calmer for it. So I thought, “oh, that’s what you do to calm down. You have a drink.” First it was an external thought pattern that I held from seeing it repeated several times throughout my childhood and then an unconscious personal belief, as I began acting on that belief in my own early adulthood.

How To Undo Thought Patterns and Beliefs

There are many ways to uncover your thought patterns and beliefs. I think one of the easiest ways is to begin to be curious about what beliefs are running your brain. Always begin this type of inquiry with compassion. Don’t use this knowledge to beat yourself up for following your conditioned mind from belief to action. Just allow the knowledge to rise to your consciousness with curiosity about who you are and what’s going on in your brain.

These days, for me, because I meditate daily and have for several years. I know from these sessions how my thoughts come unbidden across my mind and how easy I can attach to and follow them. So it’s been easier for me to feel when a thought has hooked me and I am able to feel the unconscious thought pattern trigger me into a reaction. However, until I’m aware of the thought pattern, there’s nothing to be done to stop the triggered response.

The way I first began this inquiry into my unconscious beliefs was to ask the Divine to allow my to see my blind spots. I know I had them and in relationship with my partner and with my extended family, I could see and feel myself being triggered without being able to stop my conditioned response. So I just asked for these beliefs to be shown to me.

Because I want to be aware of my beliefs, I am increasingly aware of them. It’s just how it works.  When the thought pattern is not that important or so clearly irrational, it’s easier to substitute new thought patterns in its place. No, it’s not exclusively men’s job to take out the trash. Boom. Belief updated. Yes, I can have a bad day without having a stiff drink. (I have to say with that one, the pull remain strong and I remain confronted with the thought to have a drink after a bad day, so I know there are more unexamined thoughts beneath this behavior pattern plus years of habit!).

Some ways to become aware of your unconscious thought patterns and beliefs:

  1. Ask to become aware of them
  2. Seek out professional help with a therapist to uncover some of the bigger ones operating in your life
  3. Write your way to knowledge.
    1. Take a fresh sheet of paper. At the top of the paper, write “Here’s what I really believe about (subject)”.  (Money, Relationship, Food, Pleasure, You Name It)
    2. Begin to write in a stream of consciousness way without stopping or censoring yourself. State “I really believe that (subject) is … For example, I really believe money is hard to get, evil, corrupting, means selling your soul, etc. Or I really believe that relationship with someone else means the loss of myself, being chained to another person’s whims, etc.
    3. Keep going and write down at least 10 beliefs but try for more.
    4. Now that you’re aware of a negative belief that you’d like to change, try to tease out the thought patterns or belief under that belief. So if money is hard to get, what is the belief or thought pattern that supports that belief? Keep writing.
    5. Try on better feeling thought patterns and use a consciously created thought pattern as a response whenever the old belief arises, now that you can feel and/or know what the  conditioned, negative thought pattern is. For example, if you’ve believed that money is hard to get, what happens if you start thinking that money is easy to get, how does that feel? Can you believe that instead?
  4. With caution and care, ask a trusted and loving family member or friend what is one blind spot you have. Obviously, do this one with someone in your life who will tell you the truth about yourself in a way that isn’t finally the opportunity they’ve been waiting for to criticize you or go running with it as way to list your every perceived flaw. This is simply one thing in your life that they notice which it seems you’re not aware of.

Some Caveats

Some conditioned thought patterns are so deep and ingrained and arise so fast that they don’t cross your frontal cortex and you don’t have the opportunity to initially respond in a new and more thoughtful way. Be kind and compassionate to yourself in these circumstances (in every circumstance, ideally). Something profound in you is being triggered so don’t be dismayed if you can’t help yourself. (With the obvious exception if you’re engaging in harmful or self-harmful behavior. With these, you should get help immediately through professional help and remove yourself from the situation wherever possible).

If you can, just stop the triggered response. When you feel attacked and you’re in the middle of yelling back a response, just close your mouth and stop, even mid-sentence. Try to understand what thoughts arose in the situation and try to become aware of them. When you open your banking app, seeing your balance and feeling a wave of fear about to engulf you as you worry about all that needs to get paid, stand up and take a breath. Take a short walk and watch the thoughts that arise about fear, money, lack.

By engaging in new patterns as soon as you’re aware that you’ve been triggered,  you can start to unwind your conditioned response little by little even as the initial response is so fast and habitual that you can’t yet control it. And begin to start a new thought pattern that are helpful to you.

Willpower Doesn’t Help

An additional caveat- Don’t try to use willpower to change your response to unconscious thought or beliefs. It’s a losing proposition. You only have so much willpower and one day, you’ll be tired, hungry, or angry enough that your willpower will fail you and you’ll respond to the trigger in your conditioned behavior pattern based on your true/old beliefs.  Willpower is not a long term, permanent answer to negative thought patterns and beliefs.

Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life

By understanding what thoughts and beliefs are running your brain, you can replace them with more helpful and empowering thoughts.  Staying present with your thought despite a rising tide of conditioned responses will help you to understand and change your thinking- changing your life

More Resources

Steve Pavlina‘s blog is always a great source about conscious awareness and behavior change.

Martha Beck is always a great source. Period.

The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal Ph.D. This is a great book that goes over how effective, and limited, willpower really is. It also shows how industry and corporations are highjacking your instincts and what you can do to become aware and counter these tactics. It also helps you become of aware of your habitual actions.

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. This is another book that describes the power and the limits of willpower and our conditioned thinking.

The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom by Jonathan Haidt. This book was formative in my understanding about biology and thought patterns.  His most compelling concept is one where the author, a psychologist, notes the mind is like an elephant of conditioned desires and impulses. On top of the elephant is conscious intention as an ineffectual rider. So using your willpower as a jockey riding an elephant of desires and conditioned thinking, you can see how ineffective willpower is. Instead, delving into your beliefs is one of the most effective ways to change your behavior patterns.

Byron Katie is amazing for using inquiry to question our thoughts. She has a lot of free resources. If you’re looking to understand your triggers and blind spots (after you’re out of the profound trauma of fresh tragedy), I think her tools are amazing.

How about you? What has helped you uncover and change your conditioned response?

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What Are You Doing For Approval?

Written by Kate • September 8, 2011 •
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ApprovedWhat will you do for approval? If you’re not sure how far you’ll go or if you’re living a purpose-filled life, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you ignore what your gut and heart are telling you?
  • Do you allow someone else to tell you how to live your life? How to spend your day?
  • Do you live in fear of disappointing others?
  • Do you ignore your own dreams in order to keep the peace?
  • Do you play small and waste your life thinking you need someone’s approval before you follow your dreams?

No? Are you sure? The following are 4 ways to know if you’re following your dreams rather than living in order to gain approval.

Approval Not Required

#1. You know what it’s like to disappoint and worry others and it’s OK.  One of the easiest ways to disappoint others or make them worry  is by listening to your own internal guidance.  If you haven’t regularly disappointed a lot of people in your life, that you’re not living your own life.

#2. The phrase “keeping the peace” doesn’t resonate with you at all. If you’re still working on keeping the peace with your husband, boyfriend, partner, Mom, Dad, or sister about how you spend your time, what you do with your day, and  even sometimes what you think about and explore, then you still care more about what they want than what you want.  Because when you’ve gotten to the place in your life that you know how to follow your own road, there is no peace to keep. It’s already peaceful because you’re living your purpose. The people in your life are supportive of your path or they’ve fallen silent [or away]. Following your purpose helps you see who supports you and you is holding you back because of their own fears and limiting beliefs.

#3. You have a clear sense of where you’re going and why. To know in your gut, in your heart that you’re on the right path means you’ve veered down a few wrongs paths, turned around, and started again.  The only way to have clarity about your purpose, about your why is to have begun to act on the knowledge of what you want to do in this world. When you’ve acted on your beliefs and made changes in your life that are map to your own ideas , you stopped living for another’s approval.

#4. You’re often a little bit scared. You know that you’re expanding your life, living a bit bigger each week, reaching for new and better opportunities the more scared you are. And it’s great to be a little scared with what you’re daring to do. And it means you’re risking disapproval, failure, and change.  A little bit scared means you’re exactly on the right path.

If you’ve just realized that you’re sacrificing too much of yourself to keep someone else’s approval, it’s ok. We all start there! Just begin to ask yourself why their approval means so much to you, why their way of living life is more valid than how you want to live,  and if their approval is worth the pain of living such a small life.  Then take one small step towards living how you want to live. Go out with your friends on your own. Spend the evening in your room by yourself. Get up early and write a poem. And then incorporate another habit that resonates with the life you want to live..and then another and another.

It all adds up to a big, sparkly life that makes YOU happy.*

*Isn’t that what someone who truly loves you would want for you?

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How To Succeed at Getting Things Accomplished

Written by Kate • August 15, 2011 •
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For some people, it’s comparatively easy to accomplish whatever they’ve set their mind to. They’ve learned, practiced, and implemented high productivity habits. And for others, it can seem like their list is so long, their need to great, that they’ll never get it all done in this life time. And so they give up. Only to try again. Only to give up. And then try again. But it’s often because they shoot too high, with a too aggressive time frame, and without consistent action. I’m here to tell tell you that, in fact, it’s absolutely possible to break this cycle as well as to actually accomplish whatever it is you’re looking to do.

The way to success is through focus and consistent action.

Focus- First you must focus on only one or two intentions at a time. If you’re trying to accomplish too many intentions at anyone time, you’re going to spend too much time, action and mental energy trying to keep everything in the air but too little time on each intention to ensure it is accomplished. Instead, with an unwavering focus on the one [or two] intentions that are the most important to you right now, you can not only devote the necessary time and mental energy to get a top priority for you done, but the sense of action and completion will sustain you in the time to come- when your energy or gusto temporarily abandons you.

Consistent Action – This is an equally important factor in accomplishing anything. Sailing through in the first few days or week is easy with the original energy and enthusiasm helping you to focus on the top priorities.  But by creating space, perhaps 30 minutes three evenings a week, to action and getting something definitive done will help create a new habit of productivity that will help you knock down each task along the way.

I know you want to get everything done right now and have it all accomplished. But that kind of all or nothing thinking keeps the tasks unaccomplished and your ability to get things done diminished.  Get clear and break it down to do-able steps, and STRETCH out your time frame for accomplishing it. Hey, you haven’t been able to accomplish it..what’s another 2 or 3 months to actually accomplishing what you’ve been trying to…for years maybe?

Once you’ve gotten an internal commitment to focus on just one thing and outlined the time you’re going to devote to taking consistent action without excuses, then the following 10 steps are a great action plan.

1. Identify Accomplishment/Destination. Write out the accomplishment you’re ready to tackle. Writing it out on a piece of paper [or laptop] is important for both clarity in understanding what you’re trying to achieve and for claiming your accomplishment, even before it’s achieved.

2. Identify the 10 most important tasks. Write out the 10 most important tasks that you need to take to get this accomplished. There may be more but focus on just the 10 most important tasks to get done right now for that task.

3. Prioritize. Prioritize the next three tasks, of the 10 listed in Point 2, that should be done first. By trying to get all 10 important tasks done, before you built your up your productivity habits, you will probably end up with another failed effort because the list is just too huge for you now.

4.  Break it down to bite-size pieces/do-able tasks. Break out each of these three tasks into three little tasks, so that you have a total of 9 tasks to accomplish. By taking the most important three tasks and breaking them down further, you’re teaching yourself about what it really takes to get big goals accomplished. It also creates a do-able action plan that allows you to both actually get lots accomplished and get a sense of accomplishment.

5. Map it out on a 30-day plan. Create a new document called your 30-day plan, with 2 columns. In this document, put the nine tasks down in the left hand column and the dates by which you want to have each task accomplished- in a realistic timeframe.

6. Stay focused. Work just these 9 tasks. Don’t try to start new tasks. Don’t add to your list. When you feel like you could be doing more or different tasks, come back to this list and remember this is the plan.

7. Knock’em each down. Take consistent action. Work each of the 9 tasks, one after the other. Remember the time you set aside and respect the intention and commitment. Work for the 30 minutes on the nights you said would.

8. Enjoy the accomplishment.  One of the most important parts of getting anything done is to acknowledge how far you’ve come. Step back to enjoy the sense of both moving forward to your goal, as well as the sense of accomplishment. What can you do to notice what you’ve gotten accomplished? A daily accomplishment list? A weekly one? No matter what it is, be sure to take in the smell of success!

9. What are the 10 next tasks? Now that you’ve gone the three most important higher level tasks accomplished, what are now the 10 most important tasks? [Hint: they may have changed now that you’re down the road a bit].  Return to Step 2 and continue down the following steps.

10. Rinse and Repeat until done. Continue getting 9 tasks per done as your focus. Keep your focus like a laser on just this month’s 9 steps. IF, and that’s a really important IF and quite a conditional one, you’ve truly respected your 30 minutes, three times a week [or whatever time you committed to set aside], and you’ve found it relatively easy to set it aside, you can also consider expanding the time devoted to this task by 5 or 10 minutes.  But be sure to drop back if you find yourself less willing to devote 40 minutes rather than 30.

Productivity, like weight training, is a habit and one that takes practice, in small chunks, to get used to and to make effortless. By getting clear about the one thing you want to accomplish, the concrete next 9 tasks to work on in the next month, and taking consistent action, you will soon be a productive champ!

What methods have you used to successfully get something accomplished?

 

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Top 5 Reasons Why You Need A Coach

Written by Kate • August 4, 2011 •
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Christine Kane and Kate Allen at Uplevel Your Purpose

Although it may seem self-serving in that I am a Life Coach myself, working with Women to Step into a Life Filled with Delight, I truly believe that a coach is essential to getting you to the next level of expertise, of mindset, and of ability- in whatever you’re trying to achieve. I believe in it so much that I myself have a Business Coach.  I have been working with Christine Kane for over a year now, on my mindset and on building my business up to the next level.  [This picture is of Christine and me at her recent Uplevel Your Purpose Conference, a mind-blowing, impactful three days we spent last week in Charlotte, NC).

I have had coaches in other areas of my life, such as exercise, food, and nutrition. It has helped me get to the next level of competence and has, in general, been worth every penny. I have a Zone of Genius and they have theirs.

The following are 5 reasons why I think pretty much everyone needs a coach.

  1. You can’t  fix your problems with the same mindset that created them. As Einstein is believed to have said” “The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.” Therefore, if you continue down the same old path you have been, you’re going to continue to get to the same end results.  A coach helps you see the limiting beliefs you have and the mindset that helped create the life situation you have created for yourself.  I have experienced many more A-Has with Christine about some of my own beliefs that I probably would not have discovered without her coaching.
  2. You’ve been trying for years but nothing seems to be working. Also known as “I don’t need help. I can do it on my own”. Perhaps you don’t NEED help and perhaps you CAN do it on your own. But are you? Have you gotten the results you’re looking for? Are you living the life you dreamed of? Are you following your bliss? The hard facts are that unless you are you’re living or close to achieving a lot in life that you’ve intended, you could use someone to help motivate you and to keep you focused.
  3. You Think You Already Know This Stuff. As Christine says the Buddha said, if you’re not living it, you don’t really know it. If you really already knew this stuff, you’d be living it. Professional athletes have coaches. Executives have coaches. When you want to learn a new skill, like playing the piano or learning a new language, you turn to an expert, right? Well, it’s the same with intangibles, like success, financial management, marketing, and search engine optimization. There are true experts out there who can help you leap frog over the learning curve and give you access to pre-vetted resources that will more than likely be immeasurably of help to you.
  4. You Think You Don’t Have the Time. This is a big one. If you think you don’t have the time, have you checked out what you’re spending your time on? Do you really know? If you mapped out your day, how much of it is spent in front of the TV, surfing the internet looking at hulu.com, Facebook, and your emails? And how much of the weekend is spent on activities that can actually be delegated, skipped, or bunched together? A coach can help hold up the mirror you need to see your life as it really is so you can free yourself from time sinks that are keeping you off your purposeful path.
  5. You Don’t Know What You Want To Be When You Grow Up. Even if you don’t know where to begin on getting you the skills and life you want, your coach will. If you’re just not the best manager, if your life makes you depressed and you no longer have any idea what makes you happy, if you want to take your business to the next level and are so tired of treading the same ground month after month, all with the same results, working with someone to help you re-focus, re-strategize, and re-energize is exactly what you need. Your coach is going to be able to help you start to understand what it is you need to get you to the next step.

It doesn’t have to be me. But use the resources that are out there.  Take advantage of the knowledge gained by someone who has been there and done that to help you rapidly increase your expertise and knowledge. We can all use some help to keep us on track, motivated, and with our eyes on the prize.

 

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