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Sunday, December 9, 2012

What Would ______ Do?

What Would ______ Do?

Write down an outline of what is happening.
Ask yourself:
Who is the wisest and most compassionate person I know?
THEN ask:
“What would _____ (that person) do?”
How would they deal with this issue, problem or concern?
Or “What would they tell me to do?
Now, what’s your next step?

In the past few weeks, I've used this tool with a couple of people. One was working on career issues and the other on relationships. Here's an example of how you can use the tool:

Jim, who was stuck in taking the next step in re-careering, was also going through a difficult divorce. He'd lost so much: his business, home, connection with family. He was making "the right" decisions to ensure that his soon-to-be ex-wife and their children would be taken care of financially, but he hadn't thought about what to say to acquaintances who didn't know what had happened. And I was asking him to start contacting those same people to ask for information and advice as he was researching new-career options!

As we talked about calling these old friends, people who knew him when he was living a golden life (that was also a lie!), he visibly choked on his words and started crying. He just didn't know what to say to these people who knew him in a different part of his life.

I asked him who his hero was. "Who is the wisest person you know -- living or dead, fictional or someone you've read about?"

His answer surprised me, "Thomas Jefferson."

"Thomas Jefferson?"

"Yes. He was honest and straightforward. He always did the right thing, too."

"So, if Thomas Jefferson were here now, what would he tell you about how to talk with the acquaintances about your situation?"

"He'd tell me, 'Just be honest. It might be hard at first, but those who understand will be fine with it.' And I can do that!"

We practiced, then, how he would start the phone call and what he might say about his situation. At first he struggled with the words, but after the second try, his voice grew stronger along with his confidence.

Now YOU try it!  Who is YOUR hero?
What would they tell you?
What would you do next?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Your Emotional Guidance Scale

Your Emotional Guidance Scale
(From Ask and It Is Given: Learning to Manifest Your Desires)
A scale of your emotions might look like this:

1.       Joy/ Knowledge/ Empowerment/ Freedom/ Love/ Appreciation
2.       Passion
3.       Enthusiasm/ Eagerness/ Happiness
4.       Positive Expectation/ Belief
5.       Optimism
6.       Hopefulness
7.       Contentment
8.       Boredom
9.       Pessimism
10.     Frustration/ Irritation / Impatience
11.     “Overwhelment”
12.     Disappointment
13.     Doubt
14.     Worry
15.     Blame
16.     Discouragement
17.     Anger
18.     Revenge
19.     Hatred/ Rage
20.     Jealousy
21.     Insecurity/ Guilt / Unworthiness / Fear / Grief / Depression / Despair / Powerlessness

Emotions are signals for us to pay attention to where we are on the scale. The real mid-point is at #7, Contentment. The ones below contentment signal a level of dissatisfaction with where and how we are in life. Most of us spend way too much time in emotions that are less than who we were meant to be.

So, take a few minutes to tune into how you are FEELING. What emotion (or emotions) is/are present? What is it signaling you to do -- think or act?

I'm noticing my "default" emotion is often irritation. I get irritated with drivers who change lanes suddently, or who fly up on the left when the right lane is supposed to be for passing. This irritation is signaling me to notice a few things:
  • Maybe I'm paying more attention to others' behavior, rather than my own. In this case, I ask myself, "How do _I_ drive? Am I driving too fast?" Then it's time to slow down. (What's my real hurry, anyway?)
  • Irritation is a form of anger, which is often a secondary emotion (this isn't on the above chart, but it's based on the experiences I've had). Anger is sometimes disguised fear and/or sadness. In this case, when I'm irritated with another driver, it's because I'm afraid they might cause an accident. (Now, THAT would ruin my day, wouldn't it?!)
The point of having the scale is to notice what emotion is coming up, evaluate it in relationship to what is going on and then CHOOSE to act/feel differently. Which requires that we understand that even our emotional state can be a choice. We can choose to stay in it or we can choose to shift out of it.

So the next time your feelings are less-than-desirable, decide what you WANT to feel and take steps toward making that happen.

Let me know how it goes!

Dr. Suzan

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Step Back & Breathe

Step Back and Breathe

Take a “time-out” and step back to focus on your breathing. This can begin to neutralize your emotions and you can often see more options with clarity. Take the following steps:
1. Step Back. Breathe slowly and deeply. Imagine the air entering and leaving your lungs.
2. Continuing to focus on your breathing, have the intention to disengage from your feelings of stress. Be the observer in the moment.
3. Stay connected to the event while you continue to breathe slowly and deeply.

What solutions to the problem you’ve been facing occur to you now?
Breathwork is a simple -- but not always EASY -- method for slowing yourself down. It's a component of mindfulness, usually the first part of learning the tools and techniques of mindfulness.
Focusing on your breath, slowing it down, is an antidote to the stress response. When we're stressed, usually, we unknowingly speed up our breathing and breathe more shallowly, too. This ends up bringing less oxygen to the brain and body, keeping us from thinking clearly.
I find that when I am conscious of taking 2, 3 or 5 slow, deep breaths, the "time out" helps, the oxygen re-saturates my brain and it's easier for me to step into something even though I might be nervous. (By the way, it's also a great tool for when I don't know exactly what to say -- or think I might say the wrong thing -- to take a few deep breaths as a way to "buy" time!)