Live An Extraordinary Life

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Greetings my delicious tapioca pearl in the galaxy’s cosmic smoothie! As you know Phil, the rodent of seasonal hope, saw his shadow. We don’t know how Phil felt about it but I can only imagine his feelings were both deep and sensitive as only an earth dweller’s can be …and probably content if not happy.

Scientists, almanac writers and others seem to want us to have a more anguished response to the expected weeks of more of winter. Does it need to be so?  No! Absolutely, not! We could be content as, Phil probably is, right now! Lets just make it up! We can decide what our own shadow portends for us and we can make it fantastic…at the very least fun!

O.K. consider, you have caught sight of your divine shadow just out of the shower. What could it mean? How about 6 weeks of compliments! Or suppose you…

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What Photo courtesy of Jano Kray

Do You Feel Powerful or Powerless?

The extent to which we feel either powerful or powerless has a direct correlation with our state of mind. When we don’t feel powerful we are usually reacting rather than responding to life. That causes our state of mind to get confused or agitated which leaves us feeling less in control and not as resilient as we would like.

Sometimes things can get so hectic that we lose track of two very important facts:

1. We alone control our state of mind.

2. When we become the master of our state of mind we have found the secret to finding and keeping our power.

The Triple Crown of Our State Of Mind

There are three components that make up our state of mind:

  1. Emotions: How we feel
  2. Thoughts: What we think
  3. Beliefs: What we believe

Every experience we have is based upon the inter-relationship of these three things. When they are working in harmony, we experience our full personal power. When they are in discord, we feel controlled by something other than ourselves and less powerful.

Reclaiming our power doesn’t have to be a huge deal. It can be as simple as being in a bad mood and wanting to get out of it or feeling frustrated with a spouse and wanting to see him or her from a more positive perspective.  When we can make these types of adjustments in the moment, we have successfully learned to manage our state of mind and are living life on our own terms.

Are You In Control Of Your Life?

How you feel right now will tell you instantly if you are in control of your life. A simple rule of thumb: If you feel good, you’re on track, so keep doing what you’re doing. If you don’t feel good, it is the indication that you are not fully connected to your true self and your full power and that something needs to change.

Where most of us get stuck is when we may recognize that we don’t feel positive but we don’t understand the emotions, thoughts or beliefs that got us there. This makes it impossible to make a productive change.

Here’s What To Do: Understand The Situation From All Three Areas (Emotions, Thoughts and Beliefs)

Let’s say that your colleague received a promotion at work. When you hear the news, you congratulate her and feel genuinely happy for her. A short time later, you find yourself being impatient with people in the office and feeling agitated. You don’t know what has come over you but without question, you are feeling bad emotionally.

Break It Down and Get To The Source of What Is Happening

First, define as clearly as you can the emotions that you are feeling. In this situation perhaps it starts with agitation. You go deeper and discover you are also feeling frustrated, fearful maybe even angry, jealous or betrayed.

Next, examine the thoughts that you have been thinking since you got the news of the promotion. Maybe things like, “I work just as hard as Sally and for what?” or, “I’m never going to be able to afford to send my kids to college if I don’t make more money” or, “That was the perfect job for me and now it’s gone.”

Now, be brutally honest and uncover the beliefs you are holding that are behind your thoughts and ask yourself if they are actually true for you. In this case some beliefs could be:

  • There are a limited number of opportunities.
  • I’m getting older and am going to start being overlooked for promotions.
  • I am always treated unfairly and don’t get what I deserve.

Ask yourself if these beliefs help you feel good or bad.

The Secret: Change The Belief And Your Experience Will Change

We experience a diffusion of our power when our emotions, thoughts and beliefs are out of alignment. If you’ve discovered that your beliefs aren’t working productively for you, start by defining new ones.

If you find yourself having a hard time letting go of outdated beliefs and creating new ones, appeal to your own logic. Ask yourself why you would have a belief that generates negative thoughts and makes you feel less powerful than you could be? Then play with the question, “What belief would lead to positive thoughts and feeling good?”

Here are some examples:

  • “There is an abundance of opportunities that are right for me and that will pay me handsomely.”
  • “If this were meant to be, it would have happened”. 
  • “I have a multitude of talents and strengths that are, and will continue to be, matched perfectly with my career goals.”

And Now For Your Thoughts

Shifting to positive beliefs will lead to a different set of thoughts such as:

  • “Sally’s promotion is great news. I think I’ll meet with my manager to let her know my goals and to get her feedback on what my opportunities are for getting promoted.” 
  • “Sally’s promotion has really helped me get clear  on what I want professionally. I think I’ll talk with the boss to see if  what I’d like to do is possible here in this organization. I hope it is, but, if it isn’t, I’ll begin to plan my next move. This is exciting.”

Powerful Emotions

These thoughts lead to emotions such as:

  • Confidence
  • Enthusiasm
  • Optimism
  • Excitement

These emotions help us think positively and that leads to well-directed, powerful action that helps us achieve our goals.

Our state of mind is where our power is. Continued focus on actively managing it will result in the ability to unleash your extraordinary power to live your extraordinary life.

Sheila Madden is the CEO of Madden Coaching & Consulting where she coaches and consults with leaders of high growth companies, individuals wanting to  Live An Extraordinary Life and new college graduates who are ready to launch their careers with competence, confidence and character.

2012 Copyright Madden Coaching & Consulting. All Rights Reserved.

Photo courtesy of Jano Kray

 People who have faith in themselves are powerful people. Not just because they accomplish a lot, which they do, but also because they have navigated through the “dark nights of the soul” that so often are the necessary catalyst for the achievment of extraordinary things. 

 Faith is, after all, believing in something that hasn’t yet appeared or may never appear to us in physical form. It is holding firm to our dreams in spite of their conspicuous absence in our current life experience. Having faith takes guts, will and character.

 Imagination Lights The Way 

An extraordinary life is one in which faith is the foundation and imagination the material from which we build. When we cultivate faith in ourselves it frees our imagination to play and dream. Once we can imagine what we want to accomplish during our lives, we are well on our way to making it happen.

 At times, following our dreams faithfully may feel exhilarating; at other times, perhaps hopeless. Sometimes the people we love will tell us we’re crazy to want to do the things we do. We might hear things like, “What are you thinking?” or “Who do you think you are?” And do you want to know the true secret of every person who lives life in faith? He or she often lays in the dark at night wondering if the detractors are right.  But in the light of day, he/she pursues and perseveres and always keeps moving forward. 

Without Doubt There Is No Faith

Achieving what we set out to accomplish in life rarely happens in instantaneous bold moves. For most of us, achievement is characterized by steady focused action at which we persist, even in the face of obstacles and doubts.

 It is a huge myth that having faith means one has no doubts. It is quite the opposite. In fact, it is impossible to have one without the other because faith is born when we look doubt straight in the eye and deny it any power to stop us.

 The poet David Whyte talks about this duality in the most real and human way in his poem, “Faith”:

 I want to write about faith, about the way the moon rises over cold snow, night after night, faithful, even as it fades from fullness,

slowly becoming that last curving and impossible sliver of light before the final darkness. 

But I have no faith myself. I refuse it the smallest entry. 

Let this then, my small poem, like a new moon, slender and barely open,

be the first prayer that opens me to faith.  

Success Comes To The Faithful  

Everyone reading this  has experienced times in life that are full and times when, like the moon, there is a fading from fullness. Much like the moon, our lives move in cycles. At times we may succeed wildly and at other times we may miss our target at every turn.

 Have you ever watched a sports event when the “star” is having an off game? These are the times when they prove why they are “stars” because they never stop shooting, swinging, running, or whatever it is that they do. In spite of failure, they keep trying. That is faith in action.

 To expect life to be a steady unchallenged continuum of bliss is unrealistic and, in truth, an act of betrayal to the human experience. It guarantees that we will be more troubled than happy; that we will have more stress than joy. Most important, however, is that a life lived with no obstacles challenged and overcome is a life devoid of courage, compassion, empathy and humor. 

The journey of life is truly a mystery. The more I learn the less I feel that I know. But one thing that I do know for certain is that I want to live life to the fullest and help others do the same. Faith and imagination are the cornerstones to making this happen.

Sheila Madden is the CEO of Madden Coaching & Consulting where she coaches and consults with leaders of high growth companies, individuals wanting to  Live An Extraordinary Life and new college graduates who are ready to launch their careers with competence, confidence and character.

2012 Copyright Madden Coaching & Consulting. All Rights Reserved.

Photo courtesy of Jano Kray

 

Shout From Your Soul Something Worth Remembering!

The world is small only when we agree to think and be small

How many times in a day do you engage your mind in calculating what is possible given what you know?

But what of what you don’t’ know?

What of hidden potential?

What would happen if you indulged your imagination and asked, “what if…?” and allowed the wilds of your intuition to relentlessly beckon you forward, to somewhere unknown

Abandon all thought of restriction

Go for it, whatever “it” is,  utterly and completely

Watch what happens in your mind your heart and your soul

Watch the effect on you and on those around you

What is there to lose?

Do you want to live your life and die your death knowing that you left something, anything, on the table?

That is the definition of hell

What will you do today and shout from your soul that is worth remembering?

Sheila Madden is the CEO of Madden Coaching & Consulting where she coaches and consults with leaders of high growth companies, individuals wanting to  Live An Extraordinary Life and new college graduates who are ready to launch their careers with competence, confidence and character.

2012 Copyright Madden Coaching & Consulting. All Rights Reserved.

Photo courtesy of Jano Kray

 
Bette Davis was right, aging is not for sissies but it is also NOT anywhere near as horrifying as people make it sound. I mean seriously, think about it. It beats the heck out of the alternative, doesn’t it?
 
Perhaps because I am now fifty-something I find myself reading, writing and talking more frequently with other people about this topic of aging. I have identified a notable pattern: For both men and women, the damn thing seems to have caught us all by surprise.
 
I can remember my mother telling me when she was in her fifties that she still felt like a young woman on the inside.  At the time I thought that this, shall we say “slight misperception” was the result of the Valium that her doctor prescribed for her menopausal symptoms. But she was right. And I too, still feel like a young woman and I plan to continue feeling that way.
 
It is the pesky exterior that seems to insist on keeping us fully grounded in reality by refusing to defy the laws of gravity. But here again, there is always an upside. In my case, if I had my hip replaced in my 30’s, instead of in my late 40’s, I would have a 3 inch scar instead of what my graciously sagging bottom has given me, which is 1.5 inch scar.  That is a 50% improvement. There is always a silver lining, even if it now requires glasses to see. 
 
So you may think the title of this blog is in jest. It is not. I did an experiment.  
 
I have been blessed with my mom’s great skin, except for a very deep wrinkle in between my brows which begins to resemble the grand canyon when I am intensely listening to people. This is a bit of a problem for me since my JOB is to intensely listen to people.  A couple of years ago I went to see the plastic surgeon who had done a wonderful reconstruction of my left cheek after I had a tumor removed. I asked him what options there were for getting rid of this line. He described several, the least intrusive of which to me was Botox. So, I gave it a go and very quickly I began to see the line start to disappear. But along with the line disappearing, so did my ability to frown or to have any full natural facial expression.  I have to admit that this actually wasn’t all bad. It proved very helpful when my boss at the time said or did something not so smart and my face no longer screamed “What the %#@! are you thinking?” which, I’m sure you can appreciate, was somewhat of a career limiting situation.
 
However after several months I noticed something that decided the issue for me.  I realized that my face, in addition to not being a run-away freight train of blunt communication, also no longer expressed wonder or surprise or, most disturbing, the depth of the empathy or love that I was feeling.  That is when I took a long look at myself in the mirror, the 7x magnifying mirror.  I noticed that in addition to the most obvious line I was worried about on my face, there were actually many others around my eyes, on my cheeks, at my jaw line and on my neck. 
 
That day I realized and accepted the fact that I do not have the face of a young woman any longer. But I do have the face of a woman who has been immensely blessed and who lives life from a deep well of passion and emotion. I have laughed until I cried, to which the abundance of lines around my eyes testify, and I have also anguished over the disappointments and griefs that life brings to all of our doors. Those experiences, too, are etched in my face. My face reflects my life and I decided that day that it will continue to do so.  
 
So basically a change of strategy was all I needed and I found it. I’ve got one word for you: BANGS. When cut well, they cover a multitude of sins.  
 
I know what you’re thinking but hey, there is a difference between acceptance and apathy. I can accept aging without having my forehead look like the concentric circles inside tree trunks which broadcast my age to the world.  I’m aging, I am not dead!  When I stop doing everything I can to look my best (and OK, yes, I admit it, have people maybe think I’m younger than I actually am)  that will be the beginning of the end. Until then, I’ll continue to do my part to contribute to the economy through the purchase of products and services that keep me and aging on friendly terms.
 
NOTE TO SELF: DUMP THE 7x MAGNIFYING MIRROR!
 
Sheila Madden is the CEO of Madden Coaching & Consulting where she coaches and consults with leaders of high growth companies, individuals wanting to live an extraordinary life, and new college graduates who are ready to launch their careers with competence, confidence and character. She also reserves the right to change her mind on this topic at a moments notice.
 
Copyright 2012. All Rights Reserved, Madden Coaching & Consulting.
Photo courtesy of Jano Kray

The ultimate journey in life is to remember who we truly are and live our lives to their fullest potential.

It sounds simple enough and yet, an extraordinary life takes equal measures of courage, faith and love. I have found in my own life, and as a coach, that accessing the full power of these three elements is a life-long pursuit. It demands a mindfulness and attitude of sanctity that grows in direct proportion to the discipline and devotion with which we live.   

As this year begins, meet it with a robust vigor and commitment to happiness and peace.  Discover or remember, whichever the case may be, your unique gifts and share them with the world in ways that only you can.

The great American poet, Mary Oliver, wrote of the transformative experience of boldy entering and living an extraordinary life in this poem:

The Journey

One day you finally knew what you had to do, and began, though the voices around you kept shouting their bad advice

Though the whole house began to tremble and you felt the old tug at your ankles.

“Mend my life!” each voice cried.

But you didn’t stop. You knew what you had to do, though the wind pried with its stiff fingers at the very foundations, though their melancholy was terrible.

It was already late enough, and a wild night, and the road full of fallen branches and stones. But little by little, as you left their voices behind, the stars began to burn through the sheets of clouds,

And there was a new voice which you slowly recognized as your own, that kept you company as you strode deeper and deeper into the world,

Determined to do the only thing you could do-

Determined to save the only life that you could save.

Fulfillment does not come soliciting us. We must pursue it relentlessly and fearlessly. It always starts with a first step, however small or big. Once we have taken it, we have set into motion the artistry of life unfolding. We have entered the unknown, time to fasten our safety belts. There will be voices around us and inside of us that will shout their bad advice and the wind will indeed pry with its stiff fingers at our very foundations.

We will come face to face with our failures and our doubts.

It was already late enough and a wild night, and the road full of fallen branches and stones”.

Refuse to concede to anxiety and worries of failure. Instead, be all in. Live your life extraordinarily and with no regrets. Live it true and live it with a passionate reverence and appreciation for every moment, for all too quickly, and often by surprise, the blessed gift is over.

Photo courtesy of Jano Kray

Hi and Welcome back!

Is it just me or does the speed and volume of change and chaos in the world seem to be increasing exponentially? I am finding that I need to spend about twice as much time doing the things that help me maintain my sense of well-being and peace as I used to.

Does this sound familiar to anyone?

I think that the biggest challenge for us in times of tremendous uncertainty and change is maintaining an optimistic state of mind, which is truly the only way we get OUT of any crazy-zone.

There is a theory of change (Lewin’s Theory) that says that we go through times when things are frozen (status quo), then they unfreeze (all hell breaks loose…that would be now) and then they re-freeze (back to status quo). The silver bullet  in this model is when things unfreeze and all hell is breaking loose because that is exactly what will catalyze creative problem solving and evolution.

Question: How do we live through it without feeling angry, frustrated, cynical or worse, apathetic?

One Answer: Develop/Deepen our Spiritual Intelligence or yes, Bring Back That Lovin Feeling ( It’s the name of a song from the 60’s…yes I was alive then….)

What Is Spirituality and Spiritual Intelligence?  It’s LOVE

Spirituality is the innate human need to connect with something larger than ourselves. It has a vertical dimension of connection to the divine and timeless universal truths, and, it has a horizontal dimension which is connection to each other and to the planet within a covenant of service

Spiritual Intelligence (SQ) is the ability to behave with wisdom (the most elevated state of mind) and compassion (the most elevated state of the heart), while maintaining inner and outer peace, regardless of the circumstances. So, in essence, Spiritual Intelligence is acting with love.

Who Do You Admire?

Who are some of the people you think of when you think of those who act with love regardless of the circumstances? I think of Mother Teresa, the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed and others.

Some of the common traits  we recognize in spiritual people such as these are humility,  courage, they are inspirational, they see the gifts inside other people and help them develop, they are calm, centered, forgiving and authentic.

I became introduced to this notion of Spiritual Intelligence at the Conscious Capitalism Conference in May of this year. There, I met Cindy Wigglesworth, the owner of Conscious Pursuits Inc., and developer of the first validated and faith-neutral assessment instrument that defines and measures 21 proven competencies that make up spiritual intelligence.

Cindy and I have both worked with the Emotional Intelligence (EQ) Assessment in our respective coaching and organization development practices and many of you may be familiar with this work. (If not, a must read: “Working With Emotional Intelligence” Daniel Goleman) Cindy’s SQ model partners very nicely with Emotional Intelligence and both are critical  for all who endeavor to live a fulfilled and conscious life in an ever-changing global world!

Similar to the Goleman/Boyatzis EQ assessment, the SQi is broken into 4  sequential quadrants:

  1. Higher Self / Ego self Awareness
  2. Universal Awareness (awareness of interconnectedness, etc)
  3. Higher Self / Ego self Mastery
  4. Spiritual Presence / Social Mastery

A Way To Develop Spiritual Intelligence

There are 4 types of intelligence:

  1. Physical
  2. Intellectual
  3. Emotional
  4. Spiritual  

Spiritual Intelligence, just like each of the others, must be developed in order for us to achieve our highest potential. The best way to develop any skill is first to take measure of where we are, then, determine where we want to be, and finally, put a plan in place to fill the gap and achieve our goals. Sounds a lot like a thing I do called coaching. 🙂

The Spiritual Intelligence assessment (SQi) is what measures where we are. It will help you:

  • Assess your current level of Spiritual Intelligence or “SQ”
  • Learn the 21 skills of Spiritual Intelligence
  • Discover the next steps to further develop your Spiritual Intelligence

This is an online tool that takes approximately 30 minutes to complete. After completion you receive your report via email.  The report is about 20 pages in length and will give you a numeric rating on your current level of skill achievement on all 21 skills of spiritual intelligence. In addition, you will receive some suggested “next steps to consider” to help you develop your SQ skills.  

I believe that this tool can be very effective in helping us maintain a greater sense of wisdom, compassion and peace as we all navigate these challenging times.  

Now through September 15th I’d like to have as many of you who are interested have the opportunity to take this assessment so I am offering a couple of discounted options.   

For $359 you can take the SQi plus have two 45 minute coaching sessions with me. The first session will focus on understanding your results and the second will focus on developing a customized plan for furthering your spiritual intelligence.

If you prefer to just take the assessment with no coaching, you can do so for $80

After Sept 15th the assessment price will return to the ongoing rate of $99

If this sounds interesting to you or you have any questions you want to bounce around, please call or email sheila.madden@maddencoaching.com. (831) 277-4919

In the meantime, breathe deeply and remember that together we have the power to unleash astonishing creativity, problem solving and LOVE to make the world we share the best it can be.  

Information in this article regarding the definition of  Spirituality and the SQi is used by permission. 2000-2009 Conscious Pursuits, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Photo courtesy of Jano Kray

Hi and welcome back!

I’ve been asked what it takes to live an extraordinary life. Here are my Top 10 Recommendations:

10.  Experience some silence everyday.

Spending time in silence leads to greater self-knowledge and increased creativity and balance. Why? Because human intelligence is more than the mind. When we let the mind rest, we experience “the gap.” This stillness is the channel through which effortless creativity flows. Silence also prepares us for moving effectively into action. Try it. You will be amazed at how much of an impact it will have.

9. Know Thyself.”

In the book The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, Deepak Chopra says: “True essence is beyond ego. It is fearless, it is free, it is immune to criticisms, it does not fear any challenge. It is beneath no one, superior to no one and full of magic, mystery and enchantment.”  Many of us wake up one day and realize that we have spent our lives doing what others thought we should be doing. It is the equivalent of realizing that we have been an “extra” in someone else’s life! Commit to your life.  Pull out the stops and enjoy discovering the richness of your multi-faceted self.

8. Take complete responsibility for your life.

We have all at one time or another blamed someone or something else for what wasn’t working in our lives. When we do this we give away our personal power and with it, our ability to be happy and to reach our potential.  Remember, the only thing we really control in life is ourselves and our response to life. Choose how you want to experience life. Ask yourself everyday, “Did I do my best today to live an extraordinary life?

7. Be authentic in all of your actions.

This means living in integrity: telling the truth to yourself and to others, always. When you are living in integrity you do not turn away from any part of yourself.  This authenticity creates a positive energy around you and it teaches others how to live authentically. No compromises here. If you have a breach, fix it immediately. Remember, your behavior always speaks louder than your words.

6. Do compassionate things for yourself.

What are the things that nurture you and result in your heart and mind opening generously to others?  Did you see what I did with that question? I assume that taking care of yourself is not only good for you but results in an increase in your ability to be present and loving with others. This is true, it does. Prove it to yourself. Think of something that you love to do and then ask yourself “Who am I after I do this thing? How am I with others? Am I more upbeat, do I sport a better sense of humor? Can I love more?”  Nurturing yourself is not about ego-based acts that take something away from someone else so that you can have it. They are about developing your capacity to love yourself and others more fully.

5. Speak and hear from the heart first, then partner with your brain and let the combined wisdom lead you.

 Antoine De Saint-Exupery said: “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” Our logical minds are brilliant and powerful and we cannot live without them. They are so powerful, in fact, that they also can trick us into thinking that “thinking” is all we need. Just remember that true wisdom results from opening fully to all portals of our intelligence. Practice listening to your entire being and allow your true wisdom to flow.

4. Trust yourself.

I’ve written a short poem called The Voice of Truth that reads:“Never have I been misguided by my inner voice of truth. Many times, however, I have misguided myself by ignoring its wisdom.” Intuition is the language of our highest self. It is our inner guidance system. It never lies. Our bodies house this intuition. We sometimes say things like “I’ve got a gut feel about this”.  Listen to your body, to every inkling, and let it guide you. Don’t let logic overpower the equation. That is the mind trying to scare you and have you live in fear. Don’t go there, there is no need. You know everything you need to know. The key is to practice accessing and listening for it and to it, even when it doesn’t seem to “make sense”.

3. Spend time in nature. 

Emerson once said, “In the woods we return to reason and faith”. Nature returns us to our natural rhythms. When walking through the woods or watching dolphin play in the surf we realize intimately that we are part of something bigger. Many of us have had the experience of seeing something so astonishing in nature that it stops the mind completely. We cannot get this perspective while commuting on freeways or working inside office buildings. Get outside, breathe and enjoy the wonder.

2. Practice acceptance.

This doesn’t mean walking away from tough situations or surrendering passively to life; quite the contrary.  Acceptance is the first step to taking control of your life. It means accepting that what is, is, and then moving forward with a conscious course of action.  The inability to accept the realities of our life can immobilize us and keep us stuck in victim land. Face life head on. If something needs changing, accept that fact and change it. The famous Chinese Philosopher Lao Tzu once said, “The certain test of sanity is if you accept life whole, as it is.” We all have faced difficult situations in our lives. What we do with them is what counts. Acceptance allows us a full and open embrace of our life as it is. In an extraordinary life there is room for our joy, our questions, our doubts even our agonies. 

1. Give what you hope to get, and you will.

Nothing creates an environment of openness and generosity like openness and generosity. It is a wonderful, powerful, positive cycle. Start it now and watch the miracles that happen.

For information on how private coaching services can help you live an extraordinary life, please feel free to email me  sheila.madden@maddencoaching.com or call (831) 277-4919 . Or, you can visit: https://liveanextraordinarylife.net/services/ 

For information on executive/corporate coaching, visit: http://maddencoaching.com/services/.

Photo courtesy of Jano Kray

Hi and Welcome back!

Are you ready to have an extraordinary relationship? I’m talking about the kind of relationship that provides you with a deep sense of fulfillment emotionally, physically, intellectually, and spiritually. Having this type of intimate relationship is something that most of us want and need in our lives. So, whether you are in a relationship already and want to take it to the next level or you are looking to find the right partner, here are 7 Principles of Success that I hope you will find helpful.

1. Love yourself first. Nothing attracts a healthy, loving partner into your life more than being a healthy loving person. Take a spin through these statements to see how you are doing.

No matter how busy I am I make sure to take care of my body, eat well, exercise and get enough sleep.

I am  consistently tuned in to how I feel and I make decisions and take actions in ways that honor my emotional well-being.

I feel confident and happy with myself. I trust myself.

I avoid negative self-talk. If I slip and harshly criticize myself, I quickly recognize it and immediately replace the negative thought with a positive one.

If I act in ways that do not honor the best in me, I am compassionate with myself and see it simply as an opportunity to do better next time.

I don’t tolerate people, places or situations in my life that zap my joy or  energy.

I  would pick me for a best friend.

2. Know what you want and need and why. Specificity is important here. Who is your ideal partner? What are their beliefs and values, what kind of sense of humor do they have, what work do they do, what kind of heart do they have?

Perhaps most important, what do you need from them. When I say “need” I’m not talking about something required to fill a self-love gap that you haven’t taken care of yourself. I’m talking about what you need to feel and be at your best. So if you are someone who needs a lot of freedom in a relationship to explore your different interests and talents, you probably want to make sure that you are with someone who is self-reliant and confident and doesn’t need you around all of the time.

3. Choose your relationship, don’t fall into unconsciously out of convenience, boredom or loneliness. If you have taken care of #1 & 2, this is not likely.

4. Learn to be an expert communicator, especially when there is conflict (hint hint). Once in a relationship the most important component of success is communication. It is how you build strength, trust, intimacy and connection. Communicating together is how you share and join together your hopes and dreams and desires. When times get tough it is this common foundation, created through communicating, that is the glue that will hold your relationship together.

5. Make compassion and forgiveness a way of life. Compassion is the ability to show concern for the suffering of your partner. Sometimes your partner is the only one in the world who knows that you are suffering. Often, they can be the only who can provide the mercy and support you need to get through something difficult. What a gift to be able to give and receive.

And then there is the earthly reality is that we are all flawed and at some point will screw up. This makes learning to forgive a good thing because you too, will at some point, need to ask for the forgiveness of your partner for something that you have done.

Compassion and forgiveness are the tools used in extraordinary relationships to extract the wisdom from whatever you are going through as a couple; they help take your relationship to deeper and amazing levels of intimacy.

6. Keep the sex and romance alive. Healthy sexual intimacy is a must and is the ultimate sacred exchange that creates a unique bond between partners. It will look and feel different at different times in your relationship. The key is that each person stays willing to experiment, play and take the time to make their partner feel desired and cherished. Romance is different. It is about imagination and creatively keep things fresh and unexpected within your relationship.

7. Have a sense of humor. Life has a way of providing lots of material to laugh at and relationships are no exception. The #1 rule is to not take yourself too seriously and #2 is learn to laugh at yourself. Then, invite your partner to laugh with you because believe me, they want to desperately!

So there you have it. Was this helpful?

Photo courtesy of Jano Kray

Hi and Welcome back!

We have been talking about what it takes to create an extraordinary life and in my last blog I touched on fear and how it is an unlikely companion in this process.

Fear often gets a bad wrap. The truth is that fear is one of the most beneficial emotions we have. 

1.  It keeps us alive by triggering the limbic system of the brain and letting us know when we are in physical, emotional or spiritual danger

2. It tells us when we are on the verge of something great (because that is usually scarier than hell)

3. It helps us stay humble and compassionate by bringing us face to face with our own vulnerability

But often fear operates at an unconscious level and gets out of control and this is what prevents us from taking the action we need to fulfill our potential and create the extraordinary life that is available to us.

So, lets break it down a bit.  If you rewind any experience in your life to understand a particular outcome you will find that for most of us it generally goes like this:

We have beliefs and values that form how we think about the world which in turn drives our emotions, which result in our actions which then create our experience of life

When we are experiencing fear unconsciously, which neuroscientists tell us we do at an astonishing rate, most often we are experiencing False Evidence Appearing Real. We figure this out only when we take the time to examine  step by step what thought generated the fear, and what belief and value drove the thought.

This is when we realize that often we don’t even believe the belief that generated the thought that created the fear that stopped us in our tracks and left us feeling dissatisfied by our inability to take the action that would fulfill our dream. 

OK, so what do we do with all of this? Become conscious of it and be the master of your own domain! In the next week try this:

1. Get in touch with the physical feeling you get when you feel afraid, apprehensive, or anxious.  NAME the feeling and location of the feeling in your body. For example, your heart may race, your head may ache, your gut may tighten. Get very familiar with how it feels so you can recognize it quickly.

2. Notice what is going on that caused the fear. What is the situation, topic, person, language etc…

3. Ask yourself what thoughts you are having about that situation, topic, person, language.

4. Figure out what beliefs those thoughts are anchored in and ask if they are still valid for you. This is where you understand if fear is helping you do any of  the good stuff in #1-3 at the beginning of the blog, or if it is False Evidence Appearing Real or an unconscious, maybe even habitual response.

5. Consciously decide what action you will take. The moment you take control of yourself, meaning your thoughts and your actions, you will feel a reduction in fear.

Please remember these things:

  • The only one we can control is ourself and the only action we control is our own.
  • We will never be in control of our life if we don’t take control.
  • Last, the goal here is to increase responsiveness (conscious, mindful thought and action) and decrease reactivity (unconscious, triggered thoughts and actions).

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