Posts Tagged ‘Action’

Give up complaining

Written by Kate • May 23, 2012 •
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Stop Complaining

Image Thanks to ATurkus

I know most people complain, it feels so good to do it sometimes. And there are a rare few who take it to such a level that it becomes an art form such that it is akin to entertainment to hear the way they complain.  It can be fun to witness this level of complaining.

And sometimes it’s painful to see how much complaining takes up a person’s life. It’s like they’ve resigned themselves to permanent victim status. I’ve heard from others so often variations on the following statements: “This other person did this so I had to respond in this way [meaning normally I wouldn’t be stoop this low but the other person’s behavior forced me to]. ” Or “‘Can you believe the other person acted in this way [meaning I know how others should act at all times and it’s the way I see the world]. Or “This situation happened to me and it’s not fair [meaning I have so little power over my life I react to these situations rather than accept what is].

Don’t get me wrong. It’s easy to see in others where and how they complain too much. It’s far more difficult to catch yourself in your chronic litany of “they done me wrong”. I have been guilty of complaining as much the next person. But several years ago, I gave up complaining for long periods of time [with varying success]. I’m happy to report that my desire to complain lessens the more I practice the art of giving up complaining. Complaining focuses your attention on people and matters external to yourself and keeps you focused on what is happening to you, rather than what you can do in your life and in the world.  It’s an incredibly corrosive attitude that can keep you stuck in victimhood and powerlessness.

The following are some reasons why you should give up complaining and some common situations you may find yourself in once you’ve committed to giving it up.

First though, as in all things, don’t expect complete transformation one day to the next. We are biologically wired to continue our habits and it’ll be some time before you’re able to change any habit. So consider a 30 day trial and notice how often you complain during those 30 days. And then, at the end of the 30 days, start adding in one hour per day that you’re complaint free [in addition to all the time you sleep – which can’t count! 😉 ].

Complaining Gives Your Power Away

When you complain about something someone else does or something that has happened to you, you’ve given your power away over how much you can influence people and events in your life and  how you want to act. If you can imagine the difference between being someone who takes the temperature of a room and someone who sets the temperature of room, you can start to see who you’ve given your power away.  If you’re the thermometer, then you’re the person reacting to whether or not the room is hot or cold. When you’re the thermostat, you set the temperature of the room.  So if someone is doing something else you don’t like, you don’t let them shift your sense of self or sense of peace.

By being the person who remains unaffected by bad or boorish behavior on others’ parts, you can rest in your own centeredness. For example, imagine the Dalai Lama and how he reacts. He has been accused of terrible things by the Chinese government and he continues to pray for that country. His sense of self, his sense of right is not being altered because of external situations or circumstances.

Complaining Focuses Your Attention On One Moment In Time

By complaining over situations or another person’s behavior, you are focusing all your attention on one moment in time- without allowing for the broader sense of time and space. So someone was unbelievably rude to you or a circumstance is entirely unfair- and then you complain about it and you focus on how bad the situation was. Well, that situation happened and now it’s over. Yet you’re continuing to give all your attention to a situation that, if you allowed it to drop, would be over and forgotten. No need to keep dredging up one moment and time and keep it with you as you continue to feed it your attention and focus.

Instead, you can acknowledge it happened and that it kinda sucked or that you didn’t like what happened to you or label it unpleasant. And then drop the situation, your anger, your sense of what “should have happened”, and move on. It’s over and now you can focus again on the situations and people that you choose to spend your attention on.

Complaining About Someone Else Means You’re Deciding How Everyone Else Should Act

It certainly is easy to hold everyone else to the highest bar and expect them to act in the way you think is best. This is how other’s should be be. This is clearly how the situation should be. They shouldn’t act this way.  But what you’re really saying is that you expect people to act in the way you think they should act, in all situations, in a way that is beneficial to you.  Which is hoohaw, as you well know. But it’s hard to drop the satisfaction you get when you “know” you’re right and the other person is wrong. Here’s the truth: if your advice is so great, you follow it first. You be the person who acts correctly in all situations, who doesn’t let tiredness, or fear, or insecurities swamp them from time to time. You be the person who puts acts in the “right” way every time.

Instead, be the change you want to see in the world. Be the one who allows others to act in the way they need to act, even it you disagree with the manner in which they do it.  Focus instead on how you’re interacting with others, the joy and the sorrow you bring to the world, and how you make the world a better [or worse] place. You can only change yourself.

Common Situations You Find Yourself In Once You’ve Given Up Complaining

Someone else complains all the time

Once you’ve decided to give up complaining, you’ll unfortunately notice in even more in others around you. This is to be expected, normal, and frustrating! But just because you’re become aware of how complaining doesn’t help and in fact hurts you doesn’t mean others realize this. For them, complaining still feels right or good. So meet others where they are on their path. And if their complaining gets extensive, don’t be afraid to change the subject or to remove yourself from the situation.  After a while, sometimes longer than we’d like, others will notice that complaining around you doesn’t work anymore and you’ll find others doing it less and less.

You just want to complain about this one little thing- it’s so justified.

Sometimes you’ve been so wronged or you’re so tired that you feel like this one time that complaining is totally justified and appropriate.  The fact is that you may have been utterly wronged but complaining about it doesn’t change that fact. Complaining about it gives your power away. Instead you can think, discuss, mull over the situation and respond to it. Discussing a situation and how you’ll respond to it is not complaining.

You’ll know you’ve slipped back into complaining when you move from discussing a situation about how you’re going to react to focusing on the actions of the other person or the situation and getting into a sense of I’m right and the other person/situation is wrong.

Try It!

Giving up complaining is a worthwhile effort that takes patience and mindfulness. The rewards are a stronger sense of self and an increased ability to respond to any situation you find yourself in.  Try for it for 30 days and see!



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Set the Bar Low -and Win!

Written by Kate • April 24, 2012 •
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Image thanks to Marsmet544

I know that common wisdom, or what is thought as common wisdom, recommends that we set the bar for what we want to achieve extremely high and then proceed to go for it.  In one way, this is exactly right. In another, this is exactly wrong. Lemme ‘esplain.

Set the Bar High- Shoot for the Moon

It’s true that setting the bar high, shooting for the moon, going for it are all good. In fact, this type of goal is inspiring and stirring to the soul. It’s highly motivating. It engages the spirit and gives you the will to act on this goal, despite our innate aversion to change.

What’s Your Path?

The problem with setting the bar high is that there are often hundreds and hundreds of steps between here and that goal.  And without having an understanding of the path, without a clear sense of the way forward, without envisioning what happens when you have a setback and how you power through it, without mini goals along the way, your ability to achieve your awesome goal becomes compromised. Your short term self wants to abandon your long term future for a little comfort now. And then one day, when you’re at your lowest ebb or that voice that says “I don’t feel like” is particularly strong, you give up on your goal.

No Can Do

Do this often enough and you start to lose faith in your ability to follow through on your dreams, your goals, and your word.

Set the Bar Low

The way to get out of the “no can do” mindset is to set the bar low. This helps you get some wins under your belt  and gives you faith again in yourself and your ability to follow through. So set an easy to achieve goal and along with it, create brain dead simple steps on the path to achieving this easy goal. Know your path. Envision a setback and how you’ll respond to it. And then acknowledge and celebrate when you’ve achieved that goal.  This creates a new habit of winning and of following through on your word.

Keep at these easier, do-able goals and build on your new habit and confidence. But go slowly and don’t shoot for the moon until you’re really comfortable with your ability to understand what it is that you want, how to create the path to get there, and the unshakable belief that you will get there.

Become someone who can do what you set out to do, in your own mind, the only place that matters.

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Am I Doing It Right?- How To Pray

Written by Kate • January 3, 2012 •
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Prayer Candles

Prayer Candles- Photo Thanks to Barkaw

I, like so many people in the world, am a lapsed Catholic.  I’ve tried several times to rejoin the church but it just does not work for me. But this post isn’t really about that. I don’t really have the basic foundations from organized religion for prayer. Is that good? Or bad? Who can tell! But for someone like me, a Type A Virgo, I wanted to be sure I’m doing “it” “right”.  “It” being everything and “right” meaning the proper way.  So rather than turning inward and feeling my way through it to what feels right and sacred for me, when I first decided to pray, I decided that the best way to start was to google “how to pray” so I could get information from experts on how to pray properly.

Surprisingly, or perhaps not so surprising, I couldn’t find a decent article on the web that would guide a newbie spiritual person on how to pray that wasn’t oriented to specific prayers for specific problems from a specific faith. So I had to blaze my own path of meaningful prayer. I want to share with you some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way. I am, of course, no expert nor am I presenting the following as THE WAY to pray. Instead, if you are like me and would like some guidance as you start down your path, here are some of the most noteworthy lessons I’ve learned.

Here are the top 6 lessons I learned on creating a meaningful prayer practice:

1.  You have permission. You may be the type of person for whom this point doesn’t make sense. But there are a lot of us out there who feel bad about wanting some of the things we want.  But if you can’t be honest in your own prayer practice, just between you and your God, well, then pray for honesty and courage. Give yourself permission to pray for the wishes that are in your heart. If you want world peace,  include that in your prayer. If you want $1,000,000,000, include that. The point is that you can pray for anything that’s in your heart.  Don’t be shy about whether or not it’s worthy or appropriate to pray for something. The process will work itself it out. And just because you’re afraid to own what you feeling or think doesn’t make your desire any less real. So bring it into the light. It took me a few months to really plumb the depths of my heart for some of the ideas and dreams that I had put away. I had to work at accessing some of those wishes.  It’s still a process but some of my long stifled ideas and dreams are unfolding and I bring these to my prayer session.

2. By rote or spontaneity.  I started out with a few prayers that worked for me, including St. Francis’ prayer and a loving kindness prayer that has always worked for me. I also add in some of the recurring requests I have, including the lifting of all illusion and surrendering my will, each time. I also allow for new prayers to rise and be allowed. So today  I may prayer for courage and tomorrow for more discipline. Understand that your prayer is YOUR time and there is no “wrong” way to do it.

3. Some days you feel it and some you don’t. Some days my time spent in prayer feels quite sacred, intimate, and pretty much amazing. Other days, I just barely feel it and it feels like I’m just going through the motions. I’ve learned not to judge myself or the process. It is all good.  Just keeping practicing.

4. Make it a daily habit. I have found, through trial and error, that without a daily habit of praying, meaningful prayer just doesn’t happen.  So I have created a morning routine which means waking up earlier than most people and starting each day with my spiritual practice. Now, it’s so ingrained and helpful that I actually feel out of sorts with myself if I skip it.  So try getting up 10 minutes early and adding in 5 minutes of prayer. That’s all it takes to get started.  And once you’ve gotten the habit, begin tinkering with the length of time you sit in prayer.

5.  Make it real. Akin to point #1, permission, make it real. Praying by rote, including the same prayer pattern you’ve set up on a day to day basis, is a great way to start. And as you get more accustomed to praying, you’ll noticed that spaces will open in your heart and you’ll noticed new things about yourself and what it is that you really want in the world. Don’t be afraid to honor what it is that you’re being shown and what you’re feeling.

6. Remember to be grateful. I now start each prayer session on a note of gratitude that I am there in communion with God and with any recent lessons I’ve gotten.  I speak my gratitude aloud and by being in gratitude, it moves me into a better feeling place and it is a great place to be as I begin my prayers.  Gratitude for what you’ve received is an important element in feeling better and in acknowledging that your prayers have been answered, even if they’ve not been answered in the way you had been hoping.

What has been your experience? Do have a particular way to pray this working for you?


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Top 5 Lessons I’ve Learned about Making Changes

Written by Kate • December 27, 2011 •
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Northern Lights

Northern Lights

For the first time, I’m reviewing the past year of my life with an eye towards what worked more than what didn’t work.  In the past, if I was inclined to consider how my year went, I usually went through the motions of a hasty review of the past year about what I still hadn’t been able to accomplish without ever looking at all the great things I was able to accomplish.  Harsh recriminations followed by militant new rules for the following year used to result in New Year’s Resolutions.

Although I have long ago given up on New Year Resolutions, harshly reviewing my failings and ignoring my successes was my M.O. for far too long.

This year, as I’ll post about on Friday, I am reviewing my year more to celebrate my strengths and to jettison unhelpful or unprofitable actions and attitudes. I’m using Chris Guillebeau’s Annual Review post as a general guide. It’s a kinder and more productive way to generate real, positive change and to feel great in the process.

And in case you’re still into the harsh, shaming, recriminations-type annual review mode that seems to be pervasive in our culture, I wanted to give you my top 5 lessons on what I’ve learned about making changes. so you can put down your weapons against yourself to take a real look at all you’ve done.

Take away message: start really small and celebrate your successes.

The top 5 lessons I’ve learned about implementing a change to my behavior are as follows:

1.  Too much too soon equals failure. Or said in another way, start with small, achievable goals that seem ridiculously easy to achieve. By starting small, with easy to achieve goals, you can start to accomplish bite size pieces of success. These little steps forward begin to rebuild your trust in yourself and to show it can be done without killing yourself and or making you totally miserable in the process.  To help explain this, I’m going to use weight loss since it involves easy to measure yardsticks for momentum and success.

Let’s say the goal is lose 70 pounds. You’ve been trying to lose 40, then 50, then 60 pounds, and now 70 pounds for as long as you can remember. You’re always on a diet.  And it feels like it’s just getting harder.   [If you’re in the mental place of DIET OR ELSE, PLEASE find another book or approach or mentor to help you put down the diet and pick up the fun and pleasure as a means to slim down.]  There are a lot of really great self help books and programs out there to help you with your mindset and this post isn’t trying to teach you how to diet.

But as an example -in the past 10 years, you’ve set yourself a goal to try to lose between 8 and 12 or more pounds per month so that the weight could be gone now now now! You’ve chosen at least 8 pounds, because that’s what the experts say is the healthy range, even though this means a huge drop in calories and a huge daily change for you. As a result of the loss of pleasure and the increasing sense of deprivation in your life, you’ve been unable to maintain such a huge change in your daily eating habits; you’ve thrown in the towel; and binged on a pint of Ben & Jerry’s. Now, over the course of the year, you’ve gained 5 pounds this year rather than lost the 70 pounds.

Looked at in a different way: If you had chosen small, easily achievable goals, like 12 pounds per year [yes- 1 pound per month], this means just 3500 few calories per month, or 875 per week, or 125 calories per day. 125 calories per day is 10 minutes or so of a walk or a few pushups or one less soda- which means no sense of deprivation at all. 12 pounds this year and 12 pounds next year means that you can easily and relatively painlessly have lost all of your weight in less than 6 years.  Maybe you’re rolling your eyes at 6 years of delay but again, this is plan requires very little change on your part. And rather than struggle unsuccessfully for 10 years, you would be 12 pounds thinner per year and would have achieved your goal 4 year ago.

When I look back at all of the changes I tried to implement in my life on huge scale so I could see results NOW rather than taken the long view that there is no rush, that slow and steady really works, I have to laugh.

2. Small actions taken each day equal huge results.  This clearly follows my first point since it’s only through the small daily actions can we achieve a huge success. It seems to me that overnight success appears to happen all the time but the fine print shows that the person who has been deemed an overnight success has toiled in the fields of their profession for the past 3, 5, even 7 years.  You’ll get there.

As an example of this, if your goal is to get three blogs out per year, considering writing each morning for just 30 minutes, whether you feel like it or not. By writing each day, making it a new routine, you’ll get thousands of words out each week and can more easily achieve your 3 blogs per week goal than sitting in front of your computer for more than an hour every other day with a looming deadline to get ‘er done. And will probably be much more prolific in the process.

By taking small actions each day, the routine and new habits will slowly become cemented as a foundation of your life, leading to bigger successes as the effects of your actions pile into huge steps forward.

3. Celebrate your success everyday. Rather than beating yourself up for what you didn’t achieve each day, consider starting to notice and celebrate all that you did achieve today. You’re just like everyone else in that no one likes to work without some praise and loving attention. And by kicking yourself day in and day out for not getting everything done, you’re trying to get yourself motivated by hating yourself successful.

Instead, each day at either the end of your work day or just before you go to bed, write down 3 to 5 things you accomplished that day.  It can be anything from signed a new client to flossing your teeth to trying a new recipe. As you continue to notice all that you’ve accomplished, you’ll probably find yourself surprised at all that you were able to get done that you had never taken the time to notice. Write it down. Congratulate yourself on successes and feel the energy that loving yourself successful feels like.

4. Limiting beliefs are your only blocks to success. Underneath it all, the only thing between success and you is you. Limiting beliefs, such as I’m too fat, too untalented, too poor, not good enough, not smart enough, etc are running through your head. If you can, try to catch a few of these beliefs as they surface and notice the thoughts that are associated with them.

For example, if there is a promotion at work that you’d like to try for, if you have the belief “I’m not good enough” playing in the background, you might have the following chain of thoughts: “I’d love that new position. It’s exactly what I’m looking for at this time in my life”. [Softly]. “But am I really good enough”.  “It may be wired to Maggie [or John or Sue or whoever]”. “My resume isn’t updated and I’m not sure how much time I have to update it”. “I probably wouldn’t get it anyway” “Oh well, I’ve got so many other things to do and my job isn’t that bad”.  And BOOM, within the course of 30 seconds, you’ve walked away from a great opportunity because of a barely noticeable limiting belief and the subsequent thought chain.

To counteract your limiting beliefs, and to out them to your conscious mind, commit to a course of action and see what comes up immediately and over the next few days.  I will take a trip to Paris. I will increase my income by 30% this year. I will start a daily meditation practice. Plan your course of action and start implementing -of course in small achievable steps. And when your limiting belief raises it’s head, try to notice it and counter the thoughts that arise in response to the belief.

Limiting Belief: I’ll never lose this weight.  Resulting thoughts: I should give up. I’ve never been successful before. New Belief: I can lose this weight. I just haven’t yet found the way that works for me. Resulting thought: I’ll research a new plan and start to make changes in ways that will almost guarantee success- slow, steady action.

Limiting Belief: I’m not good enough to start my own business. Resulting thought: I’ll just stay in this job that makes me miserable. At least Ihave a job. New Belief: I have enough passion and desire to start my own business. Resulting thoughts: I may not know how but I can learn. I can being with slow, steady action.

Get the idea?

5. Being compassionate to yourself is the only way forward.  All of the previous steps lessons end in Point #5. Be compassionate to yourself. Stop the hating. Stop the crazy expectations. Stop the rules about what you have to do, by when, and how well.  Love yourself. And when you’ve dropped the drama, the judgement, the hate, and start with the love and the compassion, you’ll be amazed at what arises in you. Creative thoughts, loving thoughts, new ways of being. It all begins and ends here.

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Why Aren’t We Kinder To Ourselves?

Written by Kate • December 20, 2011 •
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KindnessI’ve seen it in myself and in so many others, the rages, the shaming, the cutting words, the unkind way we treat ourselves after a mistake, after having done something “stupid”, after over eating/drinking/spending, after watching too much TV or spending too much time on the internet, or after doing something we’ve been trying to break ourselves out of the habit of for so long.  It’s absolutely amazing how we so completely trash ourselves to ourselves in our head.

I’ve been working on catching these previously unconscious, automatic thoughts so that I can be completely aware of all the thoughts I am thinking. The unkind thinking is happening less and less but I recently caught myself being extremely unkind to myself about something, I forget what. And I marveled at how I was choosing to look at whatever I had done in such a harsh light, with no compassion or kindness for myself in that moment.  And so I thought to myself, “why aren’t we kinder to ourselves?” “why are we so dang mean to ourselves?”  And it came to me that there are four main reasons we are so unkind to ourselves:

  1. Our Egos: Our egos tell us we can’t yet accept ourselves until we’re a better person or have a better job or better relationship or more money…you get the idea. We think that we don’t deserve happiness or praise or acceptance because we’re not yet perfect or at least a lot better. But you don’t have to be perfect to happy now, as I discussed in my recent post about seeing the wonders of the world now.
  2. Living in the future or the past: If we’re not present in this moment, our egos are given free reign to start a whisper campaign against ourselves that becomes so habitual that we no longer notice how we speak to ourselves mentally. And of course comparing our actions now to a past we can see better with perfect hindsight or dream of future in which we can act perfectly is bound to lead us to conclude that we’re just screwing up by the numbers.
  3. Family and Teachers: We’ve been raised and taught by people who haven’t been kind to themselves because they aren’t very present or aware of their own ego’s internal whisper campaign. Have you noticed how people who are really judgmental and critical of other people’s actions and behaviors are often even harsher to themselves in their own heads? They are as critical of themselves as they are of others. So we learn that we’re not good enough because we’ve been taught be people who think the same things about themselves.
  4. Off the Spiritual Path:  Dropping criticism of ourselves and other and beginning to rest in compassion and forgiveness for ourselves [and others] is something that we must arrive at for ourselves. This is kind of the point of our own spiritual evolution.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. We can accept and be kinder to ourselves through forgiveness and compassion, no matter what. The following are some steps you can take to begin to first notice how unkind we are to ourselves and then to turn the judgement into compassion:

  1. Meditate: You probably guessed this one was coming from my previous blogs, no? Meditate so that you can begin to notice your recursive thought and how few new or unique thoughts you actually have. This will help you become aware of your thoughts as you have them so that they become less unconscious and more known to you as they fly across your mental screen. Here are some previous blogs on how to meditate.
  2. Witness: Notice how mean, unacceptable, shaming, judgement or unkind we are to and of ourselves. After first, just be happy to notice them. It’s a huge step to just see that. And please don’t judge yourself harshly for judging yourself harshly! Be a witness to your own habits and rest in the comfort of knowing that you’re on the path to mending this.
  3. How do you treated beloved friends: Recognize that this is not how you’d treat a beloved friend or family member.  Once you realize you’d never speak to someone beloved to you so harshly or unlovingly, begin to ask yourself how you can treat yourself more lovingly and with more compassion? [This is an empowering question, not a disempowering question. Empowering questions get your fabulous brain to think of new ways and breakthroughs.]
  4. Loving-Kindness: Do a loving kindness meditation and ask for compassion for yourself and others. Practicing compassion is a wonderful use of your time and will bring huge dividends to you in all aspects of your life.
  5. Focus on all that you HAVE done: Begin to notice rather all the things you accomplished each day and congratulate yourself on a great day. Take five minutes before you leave your desk or before you go to bed and write down three to five things you’ve accomplished that day.  You’ll be begin to notice that you actually have gotten a lot accomplished and that you actually do rock. Don’t worry about all that you didn’t get done. Those tasks will take care of themselves soon enough.
  6. Gratitude: Be grateful for everything in life, including “your problems”.  By being and feeling grateful, you can turn around the negative thoughts and vibrations in your head in an instant.

I’ve personally experienced great gains by doing all of this and I find myself much happier with myself.  It’s been a wonderful evolution to realize that I can just choose to be very nice to myself. And now that I’m nicer to myself, I’m also so much more compassionate to others too.

What has been your experience?  Have you been able to witness your thoughts and to change them?

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