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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Patience is a Virtue

Patience comes in many forms. Patience as you wait in line or are stuck in traffic, patience when your computer or another item doesn't quite "work" the way you need it to, patience when you feel you are not being understood by someone else, patience with your children, patience when you are waiting for something you want to manifest and the most important of all is...patience with yourself. Patience is something I have struggled with for a long while. When I began to listen to my self talk during my healing process I realized I needed to change the messages I was telling myself in order to learn patience. I have improved dramatically in some areas of my life but there is still a-ways to go in other areas! Researching patience and WHY it is so important makes me all the more determined to keep on working on it in all areas of my life.

WHY is Patience a Virtue?

When you are being patient you are in the "now" and KNOW that being impatient will get you nowhere. When you are patient you are relaxed and are expressing the understanding that everything is fine and if you need to wait a few minutes (or years in some cases) -- there is a reason for it and it is okay. Patience is a virtue because with the world in high speed technology-wise you are CHOOSING to take a second and breathe. You are accepting the now and are appreciating the rewards you get for not being impatient. Patience is its own reward for it means you are tolerant, calm and will benefit from the situation at hand rather than get annoyed by it. Patience is a reward because by being patient you are letting go of judgment that something "needs to happen now". You are sending out signals to the world that "all is okay" and are trusting the Universe which only brings goodness to you.

Self-Talk & Patience

"To lose patience is to lose the battle"
-- Mahatma Gandhi

In my article Self Talk I talk about when you are stuck in traffic or a line how your self talk plays a key role in how you react. Being patient takes the presence on mind to stop and KNOW there is always a good place (a positive space) for your mind to go. Glaring at the checkout person will not move the line faster or make them any less stressed than they already are. Rolling your eyes at the person in back of you does nothing to help their mood. Telling yourself repeatedly you are going to be late if things don't speed up -- does not do anything to relax you or the people around you.

If you change the way you deal with things that pop up that require patience it will become a habit to use these techniques. When you are in a situation that requires short term patience whether it be the grocery store or being "held up"somehow.... try and change the way you are looking at the situation and your focus. Ask yourself how to deal best with the situation.... Have you been looking for time to think about your schedule, a gift idea or to figure something else in your life out? There is always something to think about that is more pleasant than brooding about time lost. Do the people around you look like they can use some positive talk to lighten their mood? You can use the time to connect with another person. Have you taken 2 minutes yet in your day to run through a "gratitude" list in your head? Feeling grateful for what IS right and good in your life is a sure way to shift any mood. I assure you that when you stop putting your attention on every second passing or how long things are taking -- time will move a lot faster.

If something "breaks" down or causes something to take more time -- it is up to you to use that time positively. It may be the Universe's way of telling you to SLOW Down! I would get so frustrated when my computer would freeze and now try to look at it as -- "it was time for a break anyway --I'll use the 10 minutes away to drink some water and refocus and when I reboot my computer it will run even better". Be grateful for having to stop and do a mental check in to see how you are feeling and then decide what is next.

What are the opposite traits of patience? Worry, impatience, intolerance, anger, anxiousness and sometimes even depression. While it is important to Appreciate Every Moment NOT JUST the Good Ones -- these are all emotions that are best not to dwell on for too long. If you begin to feel these emotions because of a situation that requires some patience -- there are ways to change your habits and your immediate reaction (especially in recurring situations).

Eckhart Tolle's "The Power of Now" and "A New Earth" talk repeatedly of the importance of being in the present and The Tolle/Oprah free webinar provides helpful tips on moving in this direction. Take notice of the emotions that spring up when you are these situations and think of the reaction you want to replace it with instead. Putting that intention out there and KNOWING you want to change it is the first step. This is one area I HAVE been able to dramatically improve in my life and it did not take long or much to do it. It does require being conscious in that moment but there is lots to gain from this and makes for a much calmer living space.

"Patience can't be acquired overnight. It is just like building up a muscle. Every day you need to work on it."
-- Eknath Easwaran

Everything is as it Should Be

"Patience is the key to contentment"
-- Mohammed

Inventors truly understand the value of patience.... I look forward to sharing my whole journey with my readers but let me just say "it ain't easy". I have had lots of "waiting time" between research, development, re-development, legalese, etc. and all I can say is "thank goodness I have". Sometimes things take a seemingly long time for a reason. It is possible if you react quickly without knowing everything about a situation -- there could be disastrous results. I am so grateful my invention has gone in a VERY different direction then where it started. After 5 years of revisions and many lessons learned, I can honestly say that I am very happy with my team and the new avenues my project has taken!

If you want some ideas for strengthening your patience, you might read my post "5 Steps for Letting Go and Moving Forward". In the article, I highlight ways to be patient, trust and not live in the future but in the now. Maybe you have not "found THE ONE" yet because you need to get yourself in the right space first. Maybe you didn't hear if you got the job you wanted because there is an even better opportunity coming. The more we resist and put pressure on ourselves the more unhappy we will be. The more we learn to relax, trust and have patience the better it is for us and everyone around us.

Patience with Children

Children mirror what they experience. Anyone who is around children frequently knows there are times when patience is something you PRAY for! Yes, I have sat through 4 hour car rides with "are we there yet?" every 30 seconds. (The friend with us who was not used to kids did wind up with an emergency call to her psychiatrist after that -- but that's a whole OTHER story).... I have looked both kids in the eyes when something broke and had them repeatedly say "I didn't do it". I have repeated "Take your vitamin" 20 times and still had it sit there all day (hence the chore charts idea by Ray -- my husband -- GREAT ONE HON!). I have listened to Kidz Bop (Top 40 songs sung badly by kids) over and over and over again.... I can ask for no better lessons in patience than the ones my children offer me. ;-) Remember that with children the way you treat them is how they are learning to treat others. The more patience you show them -- the more they will pass onto others.

Patience with Self

Notice I saved my weakest link for last? ;-) Patience with self includes self love, self esteem and just cutting yourself some slack. I have said as a recovering perfectionist I am facing my toughest challenge yet. I continue to challenge myself and set new goals which is wonderful for my self esteem. I have faced some long time fears and overcome them which helps my self confidence. However I am still my toughest critic and know someday I will grant myself the kindness and support that I try and grant everyone else!

Patience with Self means accepting you will "make mistakes". You just have to trust that you will learn from each experience. Patience with yourself means loving and trusting in yourself unconditionally especially in the most "trying" times. Patience with self is love and tolerance of yourself and all others.

"Infinite patience brings immediate results"
-- Wayne Dyer

"Patience is the key to Paradise"
-- A Turkish Proverb

"If you are patient in one moment of anger,
you will escape a hundred days of sorrow
-- A Chinese Proverb

Patience is indeed a virtue. One that is well worth the work to achieve. Whether it be for those daily events that come up, for your long term goals in life, influencing children in your life or most importantly for yourself -- patience is a virtue that you can carry through every part of your life. It is not difficult and with a little awareness and shifting attention you can make yourself and everyone around you a lot more relaxed. Even if you accomplish switching your mood to patience one time out of the next 10 I can guarantee you have saved yourself a lot of undue stress and will feel wonderful for it. You might even consider making it a habit! ;-)

In what ways do you show patience? What are some of the skills you use to demonstrate patience?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Recognizing the Power of Our Words

Words can cause so much pain and distress to ourselves and others. For a change, I will not be talking about "Self Talk" which is one of my favorite topics. Today I would love if you would watch this inspiring video of an exercise high school students went through run by the Challenge Day Team. The purpose was to teach them the power of their own words to each other. To show them how they had all suffered through some kind of verbal abuse and to also show them how similar they all really were. Children (and some adults) need to be taught that everyone has good qualities and that NO ONE deserves to be ridiculed for ANY reason. What a beautiful exercise this is and I would hope all schools would adopt something similar. While I may say "children" a lot in this post I certainly have met my share of adults that could benefit from this as well. I want to talk about the importance of our words to others and the affects they have, my experiences with bullying and prevention to lessen the effect of bullying.

My Experiences
& The Effects of Bullying and Harsh Talk

Yes, I was teased as a child. No, not as much as many others but I think it is pretty miraculous if you make it through childhood without some teasing. My maiden name was Campbell and I can't recall the number of soup references I endured.... I was fortunate to have parents that taught me by example and never talked down to me or called me names. I was also blessed with learning early on (from my parents) NOT to judge people by how they look (they had friends of all shapes, sizes, ethnicities, sexual orientations etc. that were all wonderful people). I was shunned by some "popular" kids in elementary school because I actually did talk to everyone (Yes, ESPECIALLY those everyone made fun of repeatedly). I have always believed there is good in everyone and that everyone deserves respect. Whether it is someone you look up to or someone you think is not on your level somehow - you might be surprised with how much we all have in common. One of my favorite speakers; Wayne Dyer, says he looks at every new person he meets with the message in his mind "What am I meant to learn from this person?" We can indeed learn from every single person we encounter and I think that is a priceless lesson to pass on.

I have heard recently about internet bullying and have a friend whose daughter actually has switched to a tutor and dropped out of school because of that escalating into physical violence. Bullying and teasing has not gotten any better over the years and it is important children learn about bullying so they can be an example to others. Bullying brings down self confidence and brings up self doubt. EVERYONE has positive traits that should be nurtured, rewarded and shared with others. Now with new means to bully through social networking sites, IMing and texting among others this message is more important than ever.

Bullying is not limited in any means to childhood and knowing the importance of treating people kindly is one that stays with you once learned. I took the time during researching this post to think back to times I was teased and bullied and also the times I was not nice to people. I definitely had my moments where I might have "had a bad day" and took it out on an already over-worked and over frustrated customer service person -- whose job it was to help me. I admit that while I am proud I went to The Bronx High School of Science, being around very smart kids all the time gave me a bit of intolerance to those who I deemed "not as smart." In situations with customer service people (and others) I am sure I have appeared arrogant and made people feel I was "talking down" to them. No one deserves that. Everyone deserves to be treated as you want to be treated and that is the golden rule repeated frequently in my house. I am sure I could have learned a lot from them. People that sit and listen to complaints all day have to be made of something special to let it roll off of their back and show up for work the next day.

For a while I worked in IT for a long standing and respected investment company in NYC. The pressure there was horrific. Employees would work on Power Point Presentations to bring in millions of dollars for hours on end and would not save their files. When a computer crashed they would scream, curse and threaten me if I could not recover the file. It played on my self esteem big time. I would hide in the computer room with my nose buried in building computers & fixing hardware and pray the phone wouldn't ring with someone yelling over the next lost file. Of course it always did because I was so obsessed about it. As the wise Carl Jung said "What you Resist Persists" and that it definitely did. I was unfortunately not in the right frame of mind to handle it appropriately or to realize "it was not me" they were angry at. Maybe if I had been open to learning from the customer service people I was so quick to think myself superior to I would have learned some valuable lessons and been able to cope better with my work situation.

Being teased and bullied can have horrible effects on people including embarrassment, altering life activities to avoid humiliation (even if it is an activity you enjoy) and even depression, violence or suicide. The lesson that they teach in this video is so important because it makes the children and teachers realize that everyone endures bullying in some form and it is WRONG in any form.

Prevention From Within and Healing From Bullying

What about "sticks and stones"?

Yeah yeah yeah -- we have all heard it and I know my parents repeated it to me as I have told my kids: "sticks and stones can break my bones but names will never hurt me". Truth is, unless the person is 100% self confident and is taught how to deal with insults being thrown at them -- they WILL let the words affect them even if not on the surface they will subconsciously. So prevention is a few steps:

1) Lead by Example
2) Teach children about self confidence and how to deal with disappointment and teasing
3) Teach children about no bullying or teasing and respect of ALL others.

If you are not around children often or want to help in another way you can also get involved with the Challenge Day Team who run events (ex. the above video) in communities to spread this important message.

I have mentioned my 2 favorite children's books about Positive Thinking by Wayne Dyer, "Incredible You" and "Unstoppable Me". My children can recite these books by heart and KNOW these lessons which include dealing with difficult situations, ignoring bullies and gaining self confidence. I have watched my son transform from reading these books and by me sharing the lessons I have learned in the last 18 months.

I just finished a book, "Dandelion" which is appropriate for children and adults
that I think many would enjoy. It is about figuring out one's path in life and what listening to other's harsh words can do. Dandelion was written by Sheelagh Mawe, who is the mother of Mike Dooley from the movie "The Secret" and also has the wonderfully daily messages and publishing company TUT. Dandelion is a horse, and unlike her mom she does not want to be owned, is thought of as "ugly" and struggles to find her way. It has been given rave reviews and is a beautiful little book with a strong message. Here's one of my favorite quotes;
"Make your own contribution! For that is your obligation and that is how you help others, by example. There's no happiness or satisfaction to be found in helping another before you've learned to help yourself."

We are born knowing "no limits" and feeling we can do anything. As we begin to experience disappointment; don't make teams, don't "have" what others have, are called names, etc.... we need to KNOW how to deal with these issues. If we do not know how to process these issues we store them inside and they do damage (as Tolle in "A New Earth" explains they form the "pain body"). When people are hurting they may lash out at themselves with negative self talk or lash out at others with bullying and teasing. Neither is a good response and either can be prevented.

When children do not learn these lessons they turn into adults that continue to bully. There were some teachers in the above video who also learned a valuable lesson that day. By going to the site Challenge Day you can get involved to try to get an event to your local school or participate in many other ways. However you decide to spread this message it begins within yourself. Try and go through your past and remember the bullying events whether you were on the receiving or the giving end and remember how it felt. Forgive yourself and others for the past and live from now. Be the example you want to see and share this message -- it is an important one.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Appreciate EVERY Moment NOT Just the GOOD ONES

I will begin with a poem by Rumi called "The Guest House":

This being human is a guesthouse
every morning a new arrival
a joy, a depression, a meanness
some momentary awareness
comes as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture.
Still treat each guest honorably
he may be cleaning you out
for some new delight!

The dark thought, the shame, the malice
Meet them at the door laughing
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

This is one of my favorite poems and is posted in front of me between my computer monitor and my vision board. These are words that keep me sane through what might seem like "the end of my little world" at the time. It is so easy to get caught up in the emotion of the moment, dramatize, and be so involved in your own despair, worry or anger that it spirals you downward. We have been taught that "bad things happen" and we react accordingly, often before we even have time to process the experience as a whole. Sometimes when we have gone over the same negative pattern of thinking so many times the initial problem becomes twenty times worse than it originally was.

You Can Learn from EVERY Emotion

EVERY moment and every emotion that you ever experience should not be judged harshly. If you judge and say things for example like:

"But I KNOW this should not have happened",
"They are so wrong -- how could they have done that to me?" or
"But they were PERFECT for me -- how could this relationship end?!"....

you are missing out on an important opportunity. Every experience can be learned from. Every strong emotion examined for cause and effect. Be grateful for the times that might seem the toughest because within you can find your greatest strength and learning experience. You stand to learn a lot about yourself and why your life is where it is at that moment when you are aware. Then you can fully experience life around you instead of letting it flow thoughtlessly on autopilot from moment to moment.

I have touched on this many times in "Do I Have to Be Positive ALL the Time for the Law of Attraction to work?" and in my several posts on consciousness. I was one to berate myself for feeling badly -- "But Jen, you study all this positive stuff -- how can you allow yourself to feel badly?" Now when I feel badly about a situation I ask myself different questions:

How AM I feeling? (What specific emotion)
What caused this? (Is it just this situation at hand or is there more baggage attached to it?)
What can I learn from this?
What can happen next that this turns out to be OK? (Just imagining the possibilities can bring a new calmness)

I then try and set a limit for the emotion if it is sadness, frustration, worry.... It is wonderful to process and feel fully a "negative" emotion but is not healthy if you just sit there and dwell in it indefinitely. There are techniques to "let go" if you find yourself hanging onto the negative emotion for too long.

There is also the issue that if you do not honor or process these emotions you will be creating blockages as well as not learning from the situation. When you do not learn from the experience -- history will repeat itself and you will be tested again until you learn the lesson. Even after you think you have learned that lesson it is possible that you will be presented with a similar situation again that will ensure you have mastered and know how to handle it. I recently encountered this and talk about it in my post, "5 Steps for 'Letting Go' and Moving Forward".

How Do You KNOW it Was Bad?

Tim Brownson is a fellow blogger that makes me laugh out loud he is so funny. I just got done reading Tim Brownson's book, "Don't Ask Stupid Questions? (There are no Stupid Questions)" and found a very relevant chapter "Had a Bad Day -- How do you KNOW?" Tim is also a life coach and I highly recommend checking out more on his blog, "A Daring Adventure " and his books. Tim has very wonderful, funny, genuine and insightful writing.

I am a BIG believer in "everything happens for a reason". KNOWING that can get you through just about anything. Even the most in tune intuitive does not know what will happen moment to moment and what it all means in the big scheme of things. How do you know your last relationship wasn't meant to end so someone better for you could come along? How do you know that job you "wanted so badly" wouldn't have made you miserable in 6 weeks? The truth is NO ONE can know why everything happens at the time it happens. I have seen first hand how looking at things this way produces new results and leaves you open to all the possibilities.

There are times when the reasons are easy to find when you examine the situation. When my husband took a job 5 hours away from the family it was easy to find SOME of the good in it; more money, more opportunity to sharpen skills, time to work on his websites and martial arts journal.... and some of the reasons are being revealed to us now.... he is making great contacts, he is able to reconnect with friends, I am getting my first alone quiet time (at night when the kids go to sleep) in 10 years..... Sure, I miss him and there are some times I get pretty sad about it and feel his absence greatly. What helps is allowing myself to be sad for that little while and also KNOWING we will be stronger for it as individuals and as a couple and appreciating all the things we are learning about ourselves and life in general through this process. I know there are lessons in this and welcome the experience instead of concentrating on how much I miss him which would make me miserable and accomplish nothing!

It is so important to "Listen to Your self-talk" when you are going through what might seem like a "trying" time. Are you in your old habits of telling yourself how bad things are and worrying or are you opening up to the possibility that you just MIGHT NOT KNOW EVERYTHING and maybe things are going this way for a reason?

When I was ill I was constantly telling myself how sick I was. I was worried about how tests would come out, I was busily making my next doctor appointments, I WAS my illness and therefore gave my body no time to be healthy. The way you talk to yourself, your reactionary habits, how you process emotions are all so important to your well being. Being "conscious" of your emotions and self-talk takes some time and you will have relapses (believe me I know). But as Mr. Tolle pointed out in the Oprah/Tolle Webinar on Eckhart Tolle's, "A New Earth", the lapses become more and more infrequent and farther apart. I am no Tolle but it is amazing how far I have come in the last 18 months. Once you are aware that YOU are the only one responsible for the "voice in your head" and start listening rather than letting the corresponding emotions or bodily reactions rule you... You will learn to appreciate ALL your emotions, know that they do in fact serve a purpose and celebrate every gorgeous (and not so gorgeous) moment this life has to offer you.

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