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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Guidelines for Effective Resolutions

Let’s face it, practically all of us set New Year’s resolutions every year, and practically every year they don’t come true. Sure, we work hard on them for a week or two, and sometimes even a month! Slowly but surely, though, we forget all about them and our life returns to the way it was before. This doesn’t mean we should eliminate resolutions all together, because they can certainly be powerful tools in creating change in our lives. However, I’d like to suggest a different way we could go about setting resolutions this year, which will make them more effective and more likely to come true!

Here are some suggestions you might try implementing in 2010:

1) Set an intention: Instead of calling them New Year’s resolutions, try calling them New Year’s intentions. Sure, it sounds like the same thing, but there’s a slight difference. So many of us have set resolutions in years past and have been unsuccessful. Therefore, just hearing the word “resolution” has a negative connotation to it. In fact, those people who don’t set New Year’s resolutions say they don’t do it because they know they’re sure to fail! A resolution means you resolve to do something, and therefore if you aren’t successful you automatically assume you’re a failure. By calling it a New Year’s intention instead, you are signaling to yourself and the Universe that you are intending to create a change in your life and will do everything you can to make that change come true. However, because it’s an intention and not a resolution, you don’t have any excuse to beat yourself up if you're not successful. You still may not follow through as much as you would like, but at least you won't be so harsh on yourself!

2) Learn to love yourself: Instead of intending to do the same things you’ve probably tried in years past (like losing weight, quitting smoking, etc.), why not make this the year you finally learn to love and accept yourself, AS IS, once and for all?! So many people want to create change in their lives because they think that will finally make them happy. Without true self-love, however, you will never achieve the level of happiness and security that you think weight loss, making more money, finding your life partner, etc. will bring you. Start by learning to love yourself once and for all, and not only will you feel better as a whole, but all those other things you are hoping to achieve will manifest much easier in your life! See my last blog post for an exercise that will help you do just this.

3) Celebrate your successes: Be sure to acknowledge and reward yourself for all the great effort you put forth in 2009 and everything you accomplished, whether you set out to or not. Most people are so focused on what they want to change in 2010 that they completely forget to give themselves credit for what they achieved in 2009! Sit down and make a list of everything that went right in the past year. Celebrate yourself for all the successes you had, no matter how big or small. Not only will this help you reflect on how productive your last year really was, but doing this will fill you with a sense of accomplishment and lots of positive energy and motivation as you head into 2010!

4) Practice gratitude: Finally, be grateful for the resolutions you set in 2009 that didn’t pan out exactly the way you had hoped. There’s always an upside to every situation, and the sooner you can find it the better off you’ll be! Rather than beating yourself up for not having lost that ten lbs. last year, find the payoffs you gained from that situation. For example, maybe you were able to spend more time with your children because you weren’t spending so much time in the gym. Or maybe you didn’t get the job you were hoping for last year, but in turn that allowed you to start a successful online business instead. Even if the payoffs aren’t immediately obvious, keep looking and you’re sure to find them! The Universe always has your best interests in mind, so if you didn’t achieve something last year that you were hoping to it just means there was a bigger and better plan for you.

Here's to hoping that 2010 is your best year yet! If I can help you in any way or support you in achieving your dreams, you are always welcome to contact me.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

2010: The Year of Self-Love!

As 2009 winds down and 2010 is rapidly approaching, I’m sure that everyone is rushing to finish their holiday shopping and trying to come up with resolutions for the year ahead. Instead of setting the same old New Year’s resolutions as the year before, however, and probably the year before that, I’d like to suggest a different sort of resolution for 2010 that most people probably overlook. Instead of planning to finally lose that dreaded last ten lbs., or find your soulmate, or make more money, or quit smoking, etc. why not make 2010 the year you finally learn to love yourself, faults and all and make it the year of self-love?!

We’ve all heard that loving yourself is essential if you want to live a truly rewarding life, but how many of us can actually say we love ourselves deep down, exactly as we are. You may have even reached a place where you are able to love and accept yourself most of the time, but there are still a few areas where you are struggling to appreciate yourself day in and day out. Let's make this year where we finally make peace with every single place in ourselves, good, bad, and ugly! Not only will you feel a lot better as a whole, but all those other things you’re hoping to achieve will fall into place so much easier if you just love and accept yourself as you are.

Here’s an exercise I tried recently, and it is extremely powerful in getting you to a place of releasing shame and making peace with yourself as a whole. I found it in Byron Katie’s book, I Need Your Love - Is That True?: How to Stop Seeking Love, Approval, and Appreciation and Start Finding Them Instead and instantly recognized its potential and possibilities for increasing self-love. I encourage you to try this, and the more uncomfortable you are with it, the better!

First, take out a sheet of paper and think of someone in your life that you hide things from. It could be a spouse, parent, child, friend, etc., or even the planet as a whole! Now, imagine that you are writing a letter to this person (or people) and start out the letter by saying, “What I don’t want you to know about me is…” Then, list everything you would be ashamed of or embarrassed about if that person discovered these aspects about yourself. Things like, “I have cellulite on my thighs, I rarely pay my bills on-time, I can be really evil when someone crosses me, I act like I am holier than thou but usually I’m not, I often say no to plans with friends because I don’t really like them and would prefer to be by myself, etc.” You get the point. Anything you would not want this other person to find out about, include it in your list!

Once you’ve come up with a complete list, you’re going to turn it around and write a letter that starts out with, “What I do want you to know about me is…” and then list everything you listed in the first letter. So using the example above, it would look like this: “What I do want you to know about me is that I have cellulite on my thighs, I rarely pay my bills on-time, I can be really evil when someone crosses me, I act like I am holier than thou but usually I’m not, I often say no to plans with friends because I don’t really like them and would prefer to be by myself, etc.” List everything you listed in the first example, but this time approach it from a stance of wanting to share this information with the other person. (Don’t worry, you never have to share this letter with anyone if you don’t want to! This is just an exercise to help *you* in loving yourself.)

This can be an easy or difficult exercise, depending on how much you currently accept yourself and how in touch with your “darker” places you are. Some of you may have several things to list, whereas others of you may just have a few places inside that you haven’t fully come to terms with yet. If uncomfortable feelings come up while you do this exercise (which is completely normal!), then just take some time to simply be with yourself and be with the uncomfortable thoughts and feelings that arise. You may find yourself thinking things like, “I would be horrified if he ever knew that about me! He would leave me in a heartbeat.” or “There’s no way I could ever tell her I did that. She would never look at me the same again.” Simply notice the thoughts passing through your mind and the sensations you feel in your body. You don’t have to do anything with them except notice them. If you meditate then you know the power of watching your thoughts and feelings float by and not getting caught up in them.

After you’ve taken some time to simply be with yourself, and with the thoughts and feelings that arise from doing this exercise, I think you’ll feel much more at peace with the aspects of yourself that you previously thought were so unlovable. You may even actually find yourself loving them and appreciating them! Let's all learn how to love ourselves once and for all, and make 2010 the year of self-love.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Finding Love on a Spiritual Path

I’m currently reading the book If the Buddha Dated: A Handbook for Finding Love on a Spiritual Path
by Charlotte Kasl, which is a great read for anyone trying to introduce more love and spirituality in their life. She has a version for married couples, as well. I’ve been wanting to read this book for awhile now, and I'm glad I picked it up!

This is not your typical dating book that describes how to attract someone by acting according to certain rules, dressing a certain way, or playing a particular part. Instead, the basis of this book is that the only way to ever truly attract a genuine spiritual partnership into your life is to love and accept ALL of yourself (yes, even those parts that you don’t particularly like!) and allow your partner to love and accept those sides of yourself as well. With the divorce rate being as high as it is today, I would venture to say that most marriages and relationships are NOT founded on this premise! Instead, relationships are usually more about finding someone to "complete you," to fill up the holes in your life, and to take the blame if you're not happy. What about taking responsibility for your own happiness, though?

I’ve been in my fair share of relationships where both of us did our best to show the other person how desirable we were, while blatantly hiding and denying any “negative” characteristics of ourselves that might find their way into the relationship. And if we did ever expose any “dark” sides of ourselves, it certainly wasn’t our fault! It was always the other person’s fault for causing us to act in such an ugly way. Ultimately, though, relationships like these never work because sooner or later the less-than-perfect aspects of ourselves always show up, whether we like it or not. At that point, either person A begins to run away so person B doesn’t see their "dark" places, or person B pulls away because they are uncomfortable with the dark places person A is showing (not accepting, of course, that they have their own dark places as well!).

I’ve known since I was a very little girl that I don’t want just any marriage. I want a deeply spiritual, life partnership, in which I am free to be me, ALL of me. Obviously, this also means that I will support my partner in being all that he is, good, bad, and ugly! Sure, we’d all love to live in a perfect world where we're always happy, constantly loving and kind, faithfully living our true purpose, etc., but most of us are not living in that world on a daily basis, myself included. I have very up days, and I also have very down days, very scared days, and very angry days. I’d love to have a partner who sticks by my side and supports me, even on the “off” days. Personally, I find it very attractive when a man can admit he’s scared or feeling weak or powerless, no matter how macho he may appear on the outside!

In light of the recent Tiger Woods saga, it seems especially important to remember what’s important in keeping a solid relationship together. Even with all the money in the world, good looks, unmatched career success, and a beautiful wife and kids at home, Tiger’s life and marriage is obviously not all it’s cracked up to be. I wonder how much of his situation comes from a reluctance to show and admit weaker sides of himself because he's trying so desperately to present an image of perfection to the world. I definitely remember seeing photos of his wedding and thinking to myself, "Wow, he really has it all!" It seems that in his quest to uphold his image of a perfect life, something went seriously wrong.

It takes a lot to open up to those parts in ourselves that may be particularly scary or painful. In fact, some of us may have hidden those parts of ourselves so deeply inside that we begin to uncover emotional scars still lurking from when we were five years old! It can be a bit startling to realize that something that happened to you when you were five years old is sabotaging your current relationships. The trick is in learning to practice compassion and kindness for yourself, and accepting yourself for being human. We all have good points and bad points, strengths and weaknesses, and successes and failures. Learning to make friends with all the various places in yourself and accepting them will not only allow you to develop a much stronger relationship with yourself, but will help you in attracting a spiritual partner who will also love you for all your good points and bad points!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

How Do You See Yourself?

"Do not wait for the proof that you can be, do, or have what you want. BE it now in your mind." ~Eva Gregory

Let me ask you a question: How do you see yourself? No, I don’t mean when you look in the mirror or see a picture of yourself (despite the picture above!), but when you really look inside and see yourself in your mind's eye. If you were able to look down upon yourself from somewhere up in the sky, would you see yourself as happy, elated, and living the life of your dreams? Or do you see someone who’s angry, miserable, and can never catch a break? How you answer that question has a lot to do with the current circumstances of your life and the results you experience on a day-to-day basis!

If you see yourself as someone who always succeeds and makes things work, then you’re probably more open to taking risks and have a way of making things happen in your life. However, if you see yourself as more of a victim for whom things never work out, then you’re probably less likely to take chances or if you do, you might subconsciously sabotage yourself so that things always end up looking like a failure.

Try the following exercise and see what happens:

Find a quiet spot where you can sit or lie quietly undisturbed for a few minutes. Take a few deep breaths, and allow yourself to completely relax and release all tension from your body. Next, imagine yourself flowing out of your body and looking down upon yourself from somewhere up in the sky. Just use your imagination for this, and pretend that you can look down on yourself. Pick a few different scenes from your daily life and observe yourself from above.

What do you see? Are you happy and filled with joy as you go about your life, or sad and lonely? Are you open and welcoming to others, or closed off and hiding behind layers of emotional walls? How do you look and act in different scenarios and surrounded by different people? Be sure to “observe yourself” from above especially in those areas where you regularly experience difficulties in life, i.e. work, relationships, family, etc.

Remember, whatever vibe or energy we send out into the world is multiplied by the law of attraction and creates the results we experience in our lives. If you’ve been having difficulty with a particular situation for awhile now, see if this exercise helps you see what vibe you are sending out to the Universe. Sometimes the way we are seen by others and the Universe as a whole is completely different than how we perceive ourselves (both in good ways and in bad!).

David Cameron Gikandi says, “Life is images of the mind, expressed. What this means is that Life, The Source, uses your thoughts, your mental images, as the instructions by which to create your reality in the material world. Life expresses your mental images into physical reality.” Whatever you are focused on in your mind and how you see yourself determines what you create in your existence.

The good news is, if you don’t like the way you see yourself or if your self-image doesn't line up with what you are trying to create in life, you can easily change it! Instead of seeing yourself as someone who can never make a relationship work, hates their job, and can never get ahead financially, use the power of your imagination to see yourself as someone who is married to your perfect partner, succeeding in your dream career, and making more than enough money to take vacations to exotic locales (or whatever appeals to you). For even faster results, visualize yourself living your ideal life for 15 minutes a day and in no time at all you'll be living a brand new life!

To learn more about the power of visualization be sure to check out my ebook, Secrets to Creating Your Ideal Life. You will learn why visualization is so crucial in creating a life that makes you excited to jump out of bed every single morning!