Monthly Archives: July 2013

Motivation vs. Inspiration

I’m often asked by clients how to find the motivation to begin or continue on a path that leads to a positive change in their lives.   While I have a few suggestions for them, it’s always been difficult for me to know exactly how to help them.  The way I look at it, motivation comes from the outside.  If you’re looking for something to motivate you, you can probably find it for short term success.  For example, maybe an upcoming class reunion will give you the incentive to lose those few extra pounds.

But if you’re wanting long-term change, I believe what you need to find is inspiration.  Inspiration comes from within.  For some, this is a difficult concept – that they can inspire themselves to make a change.   These are probably the people who have continual intellectual violence going on inside their heads – all those negative thoughts or memes they have entertained for years.  Most of us will have the same negative thoughts today that we had yesterday and last year and for years before that.  Those are the memes (mind viruses) we’ve learned from our parents or society.  Like any other virus, they are successful in doing their jobs – duplicating themselves while we feel worse and worse about ourselves.  (See Mind Virus by Richard Brodie)

The way to change this is to first, be conscious of your thoughts.  If you want to change something, you first have to determine what the negative belief about yourself is around the situation, because that’s what drives your emotions and behaviors.  Your beliefs stem from the thoughts you are feeding.  Those that gain weight by the constant feeding become your belief.  If you conclude that you need to change that belief, it’s time to begin pumping yourself with more positive thoughts. That doesn’t mean you have to be Stewart Smalley (for those of you old enough to remember SNL that far back).

This is where the external triggers can be helpful.  Look for places to get more positive input.  I listen to audiobooks, podcasts and music that inspires me.  I do it daily.  Although I’m a pretty positive person, I do wake up grumpy often – and if I don’t listen to my inspirational input, I can stay that way.

For me it works well to listen to my ipod while I’m working out or walking.  Then I make every effort to meditate afterward to connect with my higher power and to center myself.  Sometimes, I use a mantra to focus on an issue or relationship I want to change.  On days when I can’t do either or both of these, I make a concerted effort to stay in the moment, and practice gratitude for every little thing that happens.

But you don’t have to do it my way.  Just look for ways you can feed your mind with whatever inspires you.  It doesn’t have to be about the change you’re trying to make, but just something that is positive & makes you feel good – funny videos on YouTube or TV or reading the Bible or a meditation book.  Whatever you choose, you do need to do it consistently and often.

Most of all, don’t be so self-critical when you fall off the wagon & forget to feed yourself those positive thoughts and feelings.  Just climb back on at the next opportunity. Quit thinking so much and pat yourself on the back for being ready for the next step.

Be the Instrument

When I was younger, I played the flute and piccolo. Before I decided to major in psychology instead of music, I became pretty proficient as a flautist. But if the flute was just sitting on my bed or in it’s case, it didn’t make music. I had to pick it up and play it to make the music.

The same principle applies when we think about our lives. It’s very clear to me that I don’t actually help people. I understand that I am just the tool or instrument that is available to help them effect change in their lives.

Saint Francis used to pray “Make me an instrument of thy peace”. Mahatma Gandhi said “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

They weren’t asking for peace or change to be granted to them. They both understood that to have something, we must become active in the direction we want to go.

I recently heard an analogy that brings this home to me.  We don’t need a map for our lives – a map gives very specific information about which road we should take, where to turn, etc.

What we need is a compass.  A compass simply gives us a direction.  Then we can use our “inner GPS” to help guide us.  If we choose to take a side trip, it will recalculate and we’ll eventually end up where we need to go.

So if you want something in your life to change, or if you’re upset about the way things are in the world right now, decide what it is you would rather see in the world. Then get about the business of exhibiting those qualities.

Life doesn’t happen to you, it happens through you.


The Other Side of Grief

If you’ve followed me at all, you know I’m constantly reading books and listening to audiobooks and podcasts that help me understand life and the processes we all experience.  The most profound realization I’ve had as I’ve been so obsessed in the past several years with learning about what happens to us once we shed our bodies and leave this realm, is that by studying this, I have learned SO MUCH MORE about how I want to live my life here and now!

What I’m about to share may be a little too “woo woo”, especially for many here in the Midwest.  If that’s the case, I respect that.  However, I don’t apologize, since that’s where my study and meditation has taken me. So don’t read any further unless you can be open to everything, and attached to nothing.

My most recent recommendation on grief and life after our life here on earth is a small book called THE OTHER SIDE OF GRIEF, by Ara Parisien.  I was fortunate to see Ara work in person last month at the Afterlife Awareness Conference in St. Louis.  She is a medium, with a very kind demeanor.  I’ve read a lot of books on grief and bereavement. Ara’s book is only 117 pages, and while much of it is not new material, it’s packed with enlightenment and a very real comprehension for what people experience when they grieve and what happens once we’ve left this life.  Her perspective is both from personal experiences and from the many connections she has helped others make over the years.

Here is just a short excerpt from her book:  (Not all are direct quotes, as I’ve edited here & there to fit this briefer format).

Grief is the most growth-producing experience we have as humans. . .Spirit have shown me that it isn’t the grieving of a loved one that causes the anguish but more of a shutting down of the love center which is what births and perpetuates the pain.  What is really occurring is that from the moment a terminal diagnosis was made or the moment your loved one passes. . . you actually experience an expansion on a vibrational level.  (Later) you recall it felt like time virtually stopped.  You felt a rush of adrenalin that virtually exploded through every pore of your body and paralyzed your mind.  This is the trademark of intense expansion.  But what is this expansion all about?  It is a tangible moment in time when the person you ‘were’ becomes a person that has expanded into a newer version of itself.  There is a cognitive dissonance at this time because nothing seems to fit the usual parameters of who you were. . .

The expectation of the soul is that you catch up to the new version of yourself because that is what the catalytic experience demands. Instead we flounder in the pain and anguish of the catalyst itself, not focusing on the Eternal Gift that has been provided.  It sounds cold and callous but it is innately true.  This does not mean your love is minimized in any way.  It simply means that shutting down the heart center keeps you at arm’s length from the love that you are and at the same time it keeps you from the Eternal Gift . . . Growth.

. . . . . .

Grief is resistance. Love is non-resistance.  Resistance causes pain.  Love allows us to remember we are always connected with All There Is, at all times.

When one is ready to move into non-resistance, some may call this surrendering, that is where one grows in leaps and bounds.  Eternal Gifts are recognized and joy is the result.

Again, I strongly recommend this book regardless of when you experienced your loss.  We’ve all  felt that sense of aloneness.  This book resonates with me.  It’s more than just information.  It allowed me to experience a shift – which is what growth is all about.




Things You Can and Cannot Change

Anyone who has ever been involved in a 12 Step program has been exposed to this concept – determining what we can change and what we can’t.  It makes all the difference in how we view the world and our part in our own problems.  The following by Ralph Marston is an excellent way of helping me decipher the difference:

There are things that you can change, and there are things that you cannot change.  Both have much value.

The things you can change can enable you to create, to achieve, to express yourself, and to improve the world in which you live.  The things you cannot change give you the opportunity to grow stronger, to develop real wisdom, patience, acceptance, flexibility and effectiveness.

There is much you can learn from the things you cannot change.  And there are countless ways to positively apply that learning toward the things you can change.

The things you cannot change give you a base from which to work.  The things you can change give you an ever-increasing world of possibilities.

When you accept what you cannot change and find positive ways to deal with it, you lay the groundwork for success.  When you understand what you can change and find positive ways to put that change to work, success and achievement are yours.

You are fortunate to live in a world where there are things you can change and things you cannot.  As each moment arrives, you’re in a position to make the best of it all.

The most difficult thing (in my life) that I can’t change is other people’s behavior.  I work daily on being nonjudgmental, and I believe I accomplish that much of the time.  I do believe we all come from the same source, but we arrive in an array of different colors, sizes and personalities. I practice seeing God/Source/Beloved in each human and animal, which makes it much easier to meet them where they are.

And yet, those I love the most are the ones I have the most difficulty not judging!  I’ve heard Wayne Dyer say that when we get upset with people’s behavior, what we’re really saying is “You’re not enough like me!”  So when I can remind myself that the person before me is exactly who (s)he has always been, and that is the reason I love her in the first place, then I can accept the behavior much more readily.  (I don’t have to LIKE it, but again – I can’t change it).  Then I can determine whether there is something about it that I can change – not that I can change the behavior, but maybe I can see that his behavior makes perfect sense, given the situation at hand.  Or maybe I can change the way I look at the situation, which might make her behavior a non-issue after all.

Bottom line is that the only thing we each have any control over is our own attitudes and behaviors.  If I want to live in peace, which I do, then it’s up to ME to make that happen!