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How to stay in the driver’s seat of your life


As children we are free to focus our playtime toward what is attractive and feels fun.

From here we develop an attraction to specific structured activities where we exhibit talents or skills.

Then children go to school and develop those talents and skills, even, if it seems right, to extra training in college or other training centers.  Through this process we choose a way to spend our work time that feels as much like play as we can fit into our jobs/careers.  This is that theory of following your bliss.

At least that is the plan, but what I have noticed is that somewhere along the way individuals stop driving their path; and the structure, expectation, or needs of others starts to drive that path.  So instead of a person’s skills and talents guiding them to the perfect bliss-filled job  other people’s expectations and desires pushes a person onto another path.

This is what I think leads to a lack of satisfaction in one’s life, to depression, and to disillusionment.  A lack of motivation and people just not wanting to go to work – it’s uninteresting because it isn’t derived from an inner state of joy.

It’s a subtle, pernicious thing, related to managing outside expectations and inner needs.

The way to shift out of this is to get back into the driver’s seat of your life.  And the way to do that is to bring fun, or what Depak Chopra calls bliss, back into the equation.

This seems like a simple suggestion, even obvious but it is harder than you think.  People are unhappy and bored but they are also habituated to the routine of their lives.  Change, even change for joy and fun, seems to be deeply resisted.  Weird but true.

The best way to move over into the driver’s seat from the back seat or passenger seat of your life is to start by simply observing when you feel good and when you do not.  Don’t take any action at first.  Just notice and maybe even document what you are noticing.

“Do you wait for other’s goals to be presented and then fit your needs into their goals?  Back seat.  “Do you observe a problem, secretly or privately solve it for the other person before identifying it to them, while simultaneously doing your required work?”  Passenger seat.  “Do you not take the lead even when it is offered, ie:  “Where do you want to go to dinner?”  “Oh I don’t care, wherever you choose is fine.”  Removal from Driver’s seat to Back seat.  “Do you plan for and even push for your desired goals?”  Driver seat.

Notice how you go about your days, your interactions with others at work and in your personal life, are you consistently putting yourself into the Back Seat of your life, even removing yourself from the Driver’s seat?  Then you may want to consider what is driving that habit within you so that you can choose to move into the driver’s seat of your life.

Remember notice and document first then once you have enough information you may be able to re-choose what action you want to take in a given situation.

If your change is going to upset another’s expectation of you – then you may want to let them know about your plans for change first and to involve them in the process.

This is an enlightening process both in how it can open your eyes to your actions (bring light to the picture) as well as free you of some burdens lighten your load).

Being in the driver’s seat of your life has its own responsibilities, but what it allows you is the opportunity to connect with your authentic self and live the life you want.

See you tomorrow.


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Spring cleaning applied to beliefs


I think one way you can look at change is from the perspective of how to recreate yourself.

Going through your closet and ridding yourself of clothes that don’t fit is a great metaphor for this.  You can see that an outfit, pair of pants or dress don’t fit.  Maybe your shape has changed or the item is out of style, in each case the clothes and you don’t match.  This is a metaphor for how certain beliefs or paradigms can become out of date or a mismatch to your true self.

A belief that is no longer a fit needs to be discarded; a new more authentic belief taking its place.

Sometimes when you are doing spring cleaning with your clothes you find an outfit that doesn’t work in its current shape or style but with altering can remain a part of your wardrobe.  Beliefs can be like this.  The whole belief may be off in some way but with altering and a make-over it may be just right.

Clever metaphor to get you on the right track for evaluating what aspects of your beliefs are a good fit and congruent with your authentic self and which need to be discarded or altered (what I call unlinked) in some way.

The best way to start to apply this metaphor is to think about what pattern in your life repeats itself in a way that is discouraging or bothersome.

Once you have that then look at what belief underlies that pattern.

For example:  If the pattern is that you seem to always be a giver in relationship but not a receiver – look at what YOUR belief might be to drive that (not the other person’s belief).  Why your belief?   Well, think of it as part of your wardrobe – a covering that you are choosing to wear – then you can look to see if it fits, if it needs to be completely discarded or if it needs to be altered.

Then you can make the appropriate adjustment to the belief so that you can create more of what you want in your relationships – like more give and take.

In the above example you could find that you have a core belief of feeling like your are not enough – that you have to give to be loved, that who you are without giving is not lovable.  This could have developed from an early childhood incident that gave you the impression that being yourself, in and of itself, didn’t result in love from a primary caregiver.  Without blaming that caregiver or getting stuck in that old memory try to view the event from a more objective, understanding, lovingkindness perspective both toward yourself and the other person.  Then see how you can unlink that belief.

Start with an affirmation:  I am lovable.  And then identify proof of that affirmation – if you can only identify proof of the feeling that you are unlovable – go deeper and apply more compassion toward your being.  Ask for some proof from people you love and trust about your lovableness.  Keep working with this until you can feel an inner peace or sense of grace about the situation.  Once you have achieved this you will know whether you need to discard the belief completely or alter it by unlinking some part of it.

The result of this kind of action and focus is a sense of competence and contentment with yourself.  Think of how you feel when you wear an outfit that fits perfectly and is completely in style – that is the same feeling as living inside the paradigms that best fit too.

This is a powerful process.  It can result in amazing growth.  Have fun with it and be kind toward yourself.  And keep that metaphor of spring cleaning in mind.  Sometimes you know something doesn’t fit but you want to hold onto it for some other reason.  That can happen with beliefs too; be gentle with yourself.  It will work out perfectly in the long run.

See you tomorrow.


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Change as catalyst


Change creation is the main focus of my career.

Being in the business of change is challenging and rewarding.  The most important part is identifying what you want to change.  This sounds obvious but it isn’t really.

As a rule identifying that things aren’t working is much easier than identifying the cause.  It’s a little bit like an archeological dig through a person’s belief systems, internal paradigms, and accepted misperceptions.  Even language is laden with personal meaning.  Dissecting that meaning can provide invaluable insight into the etiology of a problem.

People tend to feel discomfort or a lack of happiness but for the most part this doesn’t move them to change.  Usually they ignore it or misapply the reason behind their discomfort.  After a while that uncomfortable feeling or lack of happiness causes the person to do something that really shakes up their system.  If it shakes it up enough then things can fall away and change is possible.

When a person gets to change in this way it is generally very painful.

I encourage a more peaceful, compassionate way to change.  This requires an active relationship with your sense of comfort, similar to responding to cues that you are hungry, tired, or in need of exercise.

There are cues that can direct your response efficiently.  When you are hungry your first cue may be a loss of energy or focus, or it may be irritability (hypoglycemia).  Then if you ignore this you may get a stomach ache, increased confusion or irritability.  You can follow this trajectory for other physical needs like sleep deprivation or exercise.  The earlier you pay attention to the clues the earlier you can right the course.

Things that need changing in your personality, work, or relationship follow the same course.  Developing mindfulness and compassion as a style of being in the world will provide opportunities for the cues to present you the necessary information and to

Sometimes what obstructs our change is exactly what needs our attention.  It’s often the thing you want to hold on to that is the thing you need to let go.  This is not an absolute rule, but rather a guideline.  When you want to hold onto a situation or relationship because you interpret it defines you in a positive way, but to keep it you have to deny your authentic self, then this becomes an obstruction rather than an asset.  This kind of equation results in negative habit reaction patterns, self sabotage or destructive behavior.

This is actually the kind of change needed that brings a person into a counselor or psychotherapy office, a personal growth seminar, or groups like EST, Landmark Forum or Avatar.  The person feels very uncomfortable, has a general sense of what she feels is wrong, feels powerless to change her situation and is at the end of her rope.  She is desperate to find the answer and seeks guidance.

The process through this is sometimes bumpy.  Often the best guidance is within yourself.  Paying attention to those cues, listening to your quiet inner voice, and allowing your instinctive knowing to lead the way will get you to the necessary information more quickly and with less drama.  It is the most efficient way to allow a peaceful and compassionate change to present itself to you.  With this you can shift you perception, paradigm or habit to fully meet you true need.

Facing your fears is the often the fastest way to bring about change.

The issue that what you are afraid to change may well be what needs to be changed is a bit counter-intuitive and it is hard to look at or face.  Our knee-jerk reaction is to run in the opposite direction of our fear, to avoid what we fear, but turning to face your fears is the most healing prescription and often results in lasting, healing change.

Talking to friends or a counselor can help you to clarify what you need.  Seminars and groups can open a pathway.

It’s important that in these conversations you take the lead in the course of the discussion.  Sometimes others mean well but they are projecting, seeing through their paradigm rather than yours; it is important to go through the discussion thoroughly and with a sense of reverence toward your inner feelings, fears and personal meanings to things.  Through this process you will be able to decipher the clues so that you may let go of that which doesn’t serve you and hold onto that which defines you in an authentic way.

You hear the words catalyst for change to describe an event that shifts you so that you can change.  The generally accepted definition of catalyst  is a substance that increases the rate of a chemical reaction without itself undergoing any permanent chemical change ; or a person or thing that precipitates an event.   Change  in your environment or thinking is a catalyst for redefining yourself in a more authentic and true way.  So that you can be your true self.

If you are struggling with something that just doesn’t feel right but you aren’t sure what the real problem is, see if there is something that you could change that brings you complete peace.  If it is related to a change in definition then you may be on the right track for responding to the cues that are available.  Face your fear and shift that definition.  See what develops as a result of that change, that shift in perception.

See you tomorrow.


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identity creation and trauma


I have been working on a seminar about healing trauma and so it got me thinking about creating an identity and how that relates to traumatic experiences.

Identity formation begins in early childhood.  It has to do with the psycho-social stages identified by Erik Erikson.  How one resolves the conflicts of each of these stages imparts a special and unique spin on how one see himself.  This is very important and much has been written about these stages.

The use of mindfulness as a parent is very useful in assisting your child work-through these stages to a confident and positive conclusion or resolution.  (Read more about this in  every twelve years, and book Turning No to ON: The Art of Parenting with Mindfulness.)

This is further developed in adolescence where it has a crystallization effect until middle adulthood.  The crystallization process is confronted by different components for different people based on how each resolved the early stages of social-psychological development.  Mistakes or missed interpretations can become hardened in adolescence such that an individual has an inaccurate picture of self onto which she places her identity.

When a person is traumatized while in the process of working-through these stages, the trauma affects how she perceives herself.  This may be something that she inputs into the core of her identity.   This can have a strengthening or debilitating effect on the child depending on what message is imprinted from the trauma. If the child feels she has successfully dealt with the event and perceives the event has made her stronger, then she will be able to incorporate that into her identity.  If however the opposite is true she will incorporate a sense of insecurity.

Sometimes these misinterpretations are the basic foundation onto which the adolescent places her desires, goals, and personal expectations.  If these misinterpretations do not get corrected they can negatively affect what path the individual chooses and how she goes about completing goals and aspirations.  A person with excellent artistic skills may not go into an artistic field because he believes he has no talent.  Or a person with a high IQ may not attempt to go into college because she feels stupid.  Sometimes the resolution to the trauma leaves the person feeling as if he has no power; in this instance he may have difficulty consolidating his inner sense of self to make any attempt to participate in social, academic, and athletic ventures, and as a result his environment mirrors his inner sense of discouragement.

Specific interpretations developed in early childhood are required to help children work through trauma in a successful and affirming way.  Children need to feel that somebody cares about them, that they are significant or important to someone, that they are connected to a family that provides stability and belonging.  They need to  have a belief  in their innate, inner goodness, and to experience feelings of mastery and personal power and control.  These are all part of the early stages of Erik Erikson’s model of social-psychological developmental stages.

To assist your child through a trauma you want to align with him and create a loving, safe, and stable environment.  Many times a traumatized child will regress or lose skills previously developed.  Responding to this with understanding and providing opportunities to redevelop those skills offers an opportunity to increase a sense of caring, significance, connection, stability, and creation of feelings of mastery and personal control.

If your child tends to be more of a doer – offering projects to physically work on puzzles and build things will assist in the healing process.  If your child is a talker – offering projects to write, report, act-out or play-out puzzles and process the situation will assist in the process of healing.

If your child tends to integrate information in both ways allowing a choice and options to work-through redevelopment of skills and integration of the trauma into his inner landscape is most healing.

Having this information can help you feel prepared.  Knowing you can provide an avenue for your child to increase his sense of self and authentic identify when affected by a trauma can increase your sense of security.

This information is also applicable as we age.

Take the time to evaluate if you have built your identity onto a false foundation, a misinterpretation due to an early trauma.  Sometimes the way you suspect this is true is through an inner sense of emptiness or loss.  If you find that you have a false foundation use some of these techniques to see if you can discover a new sense of self and  a new perspective of your talents and skills.   It may open an avenue of work or enjoyment that you had closed long ago.

See you tomorrow.