Women Entrepreneurs: The Fastest Growing Segment of Business Owners

No Glass Ceiling Only Self Imposed Limitations

"The thoughts we think equal the results we get"

More than 224 million women impact today’s global economy, according to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, including the 126 million female entrepreneurs who have started businesses and 98 million women who operate established enterprises.

Women also make up the fastest-growing segment of business owners in the U.S. – and the Harvard Business Review says they represent 37 percent of global enterprises. According to NAWBO (the National Association of Women Business Owners), combined they generate $1.5 trillion in sales.

Technology allows a work from anywhere lifestyle, making today’s economy especially well-suited for women to start and sustain a business. If you focus on customer empathy and delivering digitally, you are where business is going.

Below learn how you can join this growing segment and stop working hard to make your boss’s dreams come true - instead start working hard to make YOUR dreams come true.

Note: This opportunity is not gender bias. Our course is designed for anyone who has an entrepreneurial spirit.

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How To Boost Your Self Confidence

Training Your Brain To Be More Confident is Possible

We are on a mission to help our clients become more self-aware, more confident, and find balance in their lives.  Although our clients come to us for a variety of reasons,  we find that over 85%  are dealing with challenges within clarity of identity,  self esteem,  and/or  self confidence.  In addition to recently publishing an eBook  (see below free offer) to you  understand and improve self confidence, we also want to share any quality articles or science based findings to help you with your journey.   

Today I read an excellent article written by Bruna Martinuzzi for American Express that  is worth sharing:   

JULY 30, 2018 To succeed in business today, whether as a leader, manager or business owner, knowing how to boost your self-confidence is paramount. A lack of confidence may prevent you from pursuing opportunities or taking risks to help you grow.

Confidence is a strong sense of self. When you have self-confidence, you signal to others that you believe in yourself and your ability to deliver results. As a leader, confidence enables you to lead powerfully. When you approach others with confidence, you increase your chances to engender trust and respect.

If you're looking to improve your self-confidence, it's important to note that this is not something you can achieve overnight. However, there are some actionable steps that you can take.

 Pursue excellence, not perfection.

The definition of perfectionism is "the setting of unrealistically demanding goals accompanied by a disposition to regard failure to achieve them as unacceptable and a sign of personal worthlessness." Pursuing perfection can lower your ability to boost your self-confidence because you would be judging yourself against impossible standards.

By contrast, consider pursuing excellence in everything you do. Aiming for excellence means setting and meeting the highest standards that are reachable. Knowing that what you're doing matches the highest standards boosts your self-confidence. Chasing perfection, on the other hand, lowers your confidence because it creates doubt and anxiety as you try to reach unrealistic standards.

Do you have a tendency toward perfectionism? Consider these three tips:

  • Create a list of the services you provide to internal or external customers.
  • Consider what's required to be outstanding in each of these services.
  • Now create a plan to tackle each of these areas in a way that surpasses ordinary standards.
  •  Invest in your competence.

The adage "fake it till you make it" can lead to feeling like a fake rather than feeling genuinely self-confident.

Instead, you can boost your self-confidence by focusing on increasing your competence in the central areas of your work. Become good at what you do. It's one of the most direct ways to boost your self-confidence.

Moreover, once you reach a certain level of competence, consider raising the bar on yourself. Raising the bar leads to continuous improvement over time.

How else can you invest in your competence?

  • Be honest with yourself about what you don't know. Create a personal competency framework and spend time increasing your knowledge or skill in the areas that need attention.
  • Research your area of expertise to learn new trends and new ways of doing things. The world is dynamic and changing. Falling behind can erode your confidence.
  • Sharpen the saw by attending some online courses which are now available in almost any subject.
  • Read as much as you can—not only in your area of expertise, but for general business knowledge as well. Even if you're very busy, you can subscribe to a book summary service to improve your professional skills and boost your self-confidence are just a few of the services available.

Learn from your own experience.

  • After a significant event, such as delivering a major presentation or doing a sales call with an important client, reflect on the experience.
  • Take a sheet of paper, label it "lessons learned" and capture everything you've gained from the event. For example:
  • What part of your performance went well? That's what you don't want to forget so that you can repeat it the next time.
  • What didn't go as well? What do you need to avoid doing the next time?
  • What do you need to do differently or better to take yourself to the next level?
  • What do you need to abandon altogether?
  • Not taking the time to reflect and capture the lessons may limit your ability to learn from your own experience. Self-confidence is a quality we gain above all from repeated successful experiences.

 Stop the self-harassment.

Self-harassment is when we persistently berate ourselves for any failures, whether real or perceived. Instead of severe self-criticism, consider practicing self-acceptance which can help boost your self-confidence. How can you do this?

  • Start by raising your self-awareness so that you can exercise self-control. Just how many times in a week do you belittle your efforts, blame yourself for events, or speak harshly to yourself? Self-criticism becomes habitual, and we hardly notice it. Catch yourself in the act. Self-awareness precedes self-management.
  • Develop an accurate assessment of who you are. What do you do well? What do you do not so well? Notwithstanding this knowledge, accept yourself unconditionally. To achieve this, set an intention to appreciate yourself for who you are.

  • Remind yourself that you're in control of your self-development. Work on ironing out any rough edges or doing whatever it takes to improve what needs to be improved.

Prepare, prepare, prepare.

Preparation is a key to boosting your self-confidence. When you're prepared, you tend to feel less pressure. Preparation gives you a feeling of being in control. It can give you a head start so that you can think and act your best.

Let's take the example of going to a meeting. Meetings are often events that can put a dent in self-confidence because you're observed and possibly judged by your lack of contribution.

To build your confidence in a meeting:

  • Never go into a meeting unprepared. Be prepared to contribute to the discussion even if you're not scheduled to speak.

  • Try to find out the meeting topics in advance, if possible. What are your ideas about the meeting topics?

  • Prepare a question or two that you might ask. Leaving a meeting with a feeling that you've contributed to the discussion can be a big confidence booster.

Beware of the comparison trap.

When you measure yourself against others, you may rob yourself of the confidence that comes from believing in your abilities. Cultivate an inner trust based on doing the right things for yourself, your staff and your business. If you look to the success of others, do it to learn rather than to measure yourself.

When it comes to comparing ourselves, self-comparison is essential. Are you better today than you were yesterday? Compare your progress with where you were when you started. By focusing on even small improvements that you've made in your skills and abilities from day to day, you may start to see your self-confidence surge.

Learn from the best to help boost your self-confidence.

  • Find out who are the best people in your line of business and study what they do. Think about them, read articles about them and watch their performances. Follow them on social media and research everything about them that you can.
  • What can you learn from these people that can help you reach the same level of success in your field? Once you've determined what they do, consider how you can even surpass them.

Even the most confident people can sometimes find themselves in situations where they doubt themselves. Everyone needs some tools in their toolkit to boost their self-confidence. Self-confidence is key to having the mental edge that helps you success.

Read original article at: American Express / Small Business

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Learn Why Eight-Five Percent of Us Struggle to be Happy

Research Shows that 85% of us are Living with the Effects of  Low Self-Esteem and a Lack of Self-Confidence, Resulting in Frustration and Unfulfilled Potential.

What's the big deal about self-confidence?

Confidence is hard to define but easy to recognize. With it, you can take on the world; without it, you live stuck at the starting block of your potential
— Katty Kay and Claire Shipman - "The Confidence Code"

The observation by William James, that most people live in a restricted circle of potential,  holds no less true today than when he made it over a century ago. The reason that so many people never fulfill their potential is not a lack of intelligence, opportunity or resources, but a lack of belief in themselves. Or to put it another way, too little self-confidence.  Without it, you can do little, with it, you can do anything!

 But what is confidence, anyway?

Often people think of confidence as something that the lucky few are born with and the rest are left wishing for, but that’s not true. Confidence is not a fixed attribute; it’s the outcome of the thoughts we think and the actions we take. No more; no less. It is not based on your actual ability to succeed at a task but your belief in your ability to succeed.

For instance:

  • Your belief in your ability to speak in front of an audience
  • Your belief in your ability to learn a new skill set
  • Your belief in your ability to be a leader
  • Your belief in your ability to handle confrontation or manage conflict
  • Your belief in your ability to change career path, or start a new business
  • Your ability to exit an unhealthy relationship
  • Your ability to live a healthy lifestyle

It's been long established that the beliefs we hold – true or otherwise – direct our actions and shape our lives. The good news is that new research into neural plasticity reveals that we can literally rewire our brains in ways that affect our thoughts and behavior at any age. Which means that no matter how timid or doubt-laden you’ve been up to now, building self-confidence is largely what psychologists call a volitional action. Or to use layman language: “By choice.” With consistent effort, and the courage to take a risk, we can gradually expand our confidence, and with it, our capacity to build more of it!

Of course, confidence can wax and wane throughout our lives. It’s boosted when we experience a win or receive praise. It takes a hit when our efforts fall short of the mark, we’re criticized, rejected or simply feel a lack of external recognition. We’re only human after all. It’s therefore vital not to become overly reliant on external affirmation to prop up our self-worth but to take ownership for taking the worthwhile actions needed to sustain it. Which begs the question:

How do you build the confidence needed to overcome your challenges and achieve your goals, particularly when you don’t first succeed?

The following FREE eBook "How to Boost Your Self-Confidence" will help clarify several common roadblocks and help you on your journey to being more confident.

Do you want to keep informed on tips and articles on Self-Inprovement? Sign Up for our newsletter and receive your FREE book "How to Boost Your Self Confidence"  

 
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Warmest,

The Total Wellness Team

5 Steps to Finding the Right Career for You

5  Steps to Finding the Right Career for You

I was one of the rare lucky ones to know what I’d be doing with my life before I turned 21. Although I was never a wiz in school, I could calculate numbers in my head faster then most of my friends could help with their calculators, and no I didn’t become an accountant. But I did focus on my love of numbers and realized I could calculate down to the decimal point regarding the cost of individual processes, and then figure out a more efficient and cost-effective way to make things flow. 

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Five Steps to Intimacy: Creating Yours, Mine and Ours

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FREE WORKBOOK DOWNLOAD

Do you ever think relationships would be easy if the other person was like you? We may not actually say that but often we act like it, especially when our partner is excited about something that we have absolutely no interest in.

When this happens we must choose a response.

  1. Act like we enjoy it: (ie. Fake it)
  2. Decline to participate: (ignore it)
  3. Negotiate for something you want:  (Leverage it) This becomes a “tit for tat” arrangement, something like saying, “if you’ll see the latest superhero movie with me I’ll go shopping for shoes with you.”

So how are these solutions working? Not so good ugh?

This is why …

1. Act like you enjoy it:

The first solution of acting like we enjoy it doesn’t work … unless we’re going for sympathy. This is because everyone knows how much you are hating what you’re doing and you’re probably so unhappy that they’re probably wishing you just said no to it in the first place. If that’s what you're going for you’d be better off just saying no. Which leads us to the second option.

2. Decline to participate:

So you’ve successfully avoided the hated activity but now you’ve got another problem. You’re missing out on something your partner is passionate about. Why is this a problem? I have found that it is one of the major complaints of that troubled relationships I work with because if you can’t appreciate the things that your partner loves it is very hard to convince them that you appreciate them. That’s right, the things we love are intricately tied to us so that if you are rejecting the things your partner loves they see this as a de facto rejection of them. John Gottman the renown research Psychologist has found that developing a culture of appreciation for your partner's interests and activities is fundamental to maintaining a good marriage.

3. Negociate

Now I hear you saying, “isn’t this just creating a good compromise?” Yes, I believe in compromise, in fact, compromise is at the core of being able to deal with perpetual conflict. In many cases, we need to compromise in order to maintain a healthy balance in a relationship. But if we ever find ourselves creating a relationship based upon, “if you do _______ then I will do ________” then we are headed for real problems. This is because healthy relationships are built on unconditional love and when we create a “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” attitude then we find that our back never gets scratched enough and we begin feeling that we are scratching theirs too much. In addition, all the time we are “compromising” we are very likely slipping into the “faking mentality” which will end up making everyone miserable.

Let me share some illustrations that I have find helpful when working with my couples.

INDEPENDENCE

 
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This is where the couple finds little or no involvement in one another’s life. It is characterized by the phrase, “they have their life and I have mine”. There is very little interaction, except in areas of necessity (paying bills, dealing with children, etc.) Often, I see couples at this stage when the children have left the house and now they are wondering why they got married in the first place since they have no mutual interests. They have become strangers to each other.

DEPENDENCE

 
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This is a state where one partner can’t move without the other. They are living in each other’s world even to the denial of their own uniqueness. Psychology calls it “enmeshment” and it is often caused by a fear of rejection or poor self-image. These relationships are suffocating because they don’t allow for the individuality and creativity of the other person and instead attempt to make it wrong for either partner to have an opinion or interest outside of the approval of their partner. When I see a couple like this it is often because one party is making a desperate attempt to find freedom and is pushing them into an “all or nothing” approach.  When this problem is not addressed it often leads to divorce.

INTERDEPENDENCE

 
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This is where both partners maintain their unique personalities and interest but find ways to share in the passionate pursuits of each other's world without the need to isolate or become enmeshed. It is where we acknowledge individuality (viva la difference) but also recognizes the beautiful contribution that this difference brings to the whole. The challenge is:

  • Develop a way to both maintain individuality without becoming independent.
  • Create interdependence without becoming dependent.

The five steps

1.       Celebrate the Difference: We have a saying in Marriage Counseling, “opposites attract and then they attack”. Basically, this means that we are drawn to our partner because of the unique attributes they possess that we find fascinating. But then as time goes on we no longer find these characteristics fascinating but irritating. One of the most common pairings I find is an extrovert marring an introvert. Here is how they become attracted and then attack each other:

When an introvert meets an extrovert they say, “wow, I love the way you connect with people and feel so at home in a crowd. When I’m with you I feel like I’m with a rock star!
When an introvert lives with an extrovert for a while they may say, “why do you always need to be with people … can’t you just stay home more often?”
When an extrovert meets an introvert they say, “You are so deep and thoughtful, I love your calmness and wisdom, I find it very peaceful.”
When an extrovert lives with an introvert for a while they say, “ why do you spend so much time alone reading your books, what’s wrong with you?”

Instead of celebrating our partner's difference we want them to become more like us because that’s more comfortable. But good relationships are not always comfortable – sometimes they require us to stretch. Healthy relationships have this ability to be both totally accepting of our unique peculiarities and also challenge us to grow to experience our full potential. So for an introvert living with an extrovert, there is a challenge to broaden their world of relationships and touch more lives. And for an extrovert living with an introvert, there is a challenge to develop a contemplative life and deepen their inner world. This growth requires that we learn how to appreciate the other’s gifts, abilities, and interests even if we have no desire in those areas.


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Getting to We

This is when we become aware of an interest in our partner's sphere and choose to find something in that interest we can authentically be excited about. That interest is then pulled into our sphere and we then share it in the "we" sphere.


2.       Identify your partner’s passions: You may know what they are or you may not. Sometimes when one partner has been hearing negative things about what they love they lose hope of ever pursuing them. This is a sad state where they live a hopeless unfulfilled life that offers no joy. We need to kindle our partner’s interests rather than dampen them.  A truly happy relationship is where we are the wind under their wings and they are encouraged to become all they were meant to be. So during this step, we need to sit down and take an inventory of our partner’s interests. Ask questions like:

  • If you could do anything, with no limitations, what would it be?
  • What have you always wanted to do but just never got around to it?
  • As a child, what did you like to do that never lost it’s fun?

Okay, I can hear some of you saying, “how is just doing what they want to do going to work for me?” Here are three thoughts about that.

Encouraging the loves and interests of your partner gives you a partner who is more fully alive and who, in turn, has the capacity to help encourage your passions.

Encouraging the loves and interests of your partner produces a deeper and more intimate relationship. We feel close to those who truly know us and to know and appreciate our unique passions is one of the best ways of feeling known.

Our partner will never feel truly loved if we do not appreciate those areas of interest and passion that is the expression of their unique self
— James Tillman

Encouraging the loves and interests of your partner opens you up to a new and expanding world of adventure that offers you a fuller richer life. This leads us to the third step.

3.       Find something in your partner’s interests that you can authenticly be excited about.

Here’s an example from one of the couples I work with.

The wife is passionate about all things fashion and loves to follow the latest fashion bloggers who have enormous influence in the clothing industry. The husband is a numbers guy and has no interest in the fashion industry. There seems to be no way that he will be able to find something that interests him in his wife’s fashion passion. But he did! He was able to look past the clothes and see that there are a few power bloggers who are able to move people to purchase clothes simply by using influence. He found this fascinating because he is in a company that would be greatly enhanced by applying some of the same principles to their product. So when his wife is looking at the latest trend in clothing on her smartphone he is looking over her shoulder at the way the clothes are being presented and the power of influence.  

You may need to get creative and expand your palate of colors but this is an opportunity to grow if you are up for the challenge. Because when you do you accomplish step four.

4.       Pull your partner’s “my interest” into a “we interest”: Finding something that interests you in your partner's passion will create an opportunity for you both to grow closer and experience a more enjoyable life together. Examples:

We both have a “we interest” in amusement parks: I like the rides, she likes the shows
We both have a “we interest” in taking vacations: I like exploring new and unusual sights, she likes finding new and interesting restaurants.
We both have a “we interest” in visiting museums. She likes learning about ancient cultures, I find the artwork fascinating. When you do this you accomplish the fifth step.

5.       Go for the win, win, win as much as possible: Let’s face it, we’re not always going to find something that peaks our interest in everything our partner loves. Sometimes we’re just going to need to love that our partner loves it. This kind of attitude says, “I can appreciate something simply because it gives you pleasure and that makes me happy.”

I like Disneyland … it must be because it holds some of my happiest memories when I was growing up. My wife has really no love for Disneyland (grew up in Kansas) and in fact, it would not be a place she would ever choose to go even if someone were to pay. But the other day she surprised me by planning a date to the Magic Kingdom. We had a marvelous time and she authentically enjoyed the park. This was because of seeing it through my eyes. One moment stands out as a precious memory. We were in the Enchanted Tiki Room. This is one of the most outdated but beloved attractions in Disneyland and definitely an acquired taste. During the show, she leaned over to me and gave me a tender kiss. I asked her what that was about and she said, “because I love to see you in your happy place.”

Wouldn’t it be great if we could get to that place more often in our relationships? Enjoying an activity simply because it brings joy to our partner. This requires that we are willing to cultivate a caring, giving and unselfish relationship with our spouse. This commitment will reward us tenfold in not only a more satisfying relationship but even more importantly a more beautiful character which, in the end, produces greater wholeness, wellness, and joy.

Get your Free "Getting to We" Couple's Worksheet

This workbook  is a step by step guide to help a couple discover their individual areas of interests and bring their partner into these areas so that they become something they mutually enjoy. 

 
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14 Healthy Recipes to "Make Your Lunch Count"

Easy, Delicious Recipes to help you celebrate   "National Make Your Lunch Count Day"  Free Download

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But why wait until April 13th,  when we can start today?  Between breakfast, widely branded as the day’s “most important” meal, and dinner, the meal we spend all day waiting for, lays a conspicuous meal that doesn’t get the recognition it deserves: lunch. It’s sometimes seen as a tide-me-over between breakfast and dinner, and will often be forgotten altogether if a day’s workload proves too large to allow for a break. So, on April 13, let’s take a moment to memorialize lunch. And not just memorialize it, but really make it count! Here’s a hearty, midday toast to National Make Lunch Count Day.

Why We Love National Make Lunch Count Day

  •  It's a window to the world

Lunch is the meal most often eaten away from home, and as such, we're usually around a different crowd of people in a different place than for our other meals. One way we can really make our lunches count is by finding ways to enjoy it with those around us. It's the perfect time to arrange a short, midday meet-up with an old friend, or to get to know a new one a little better.

  •  When breakfast gets in the way, lunch saves the day

We've all had mornings where we're just too rushed to put some food into our stomachs before taking off. If it weren't for our lunch breaks, there's no way we'd make it through those days. Lunch can serve as a much-needed afternoon pick-me-up when there's just no time for breakfast.

  •  It breaks up the day

You'd have a hard time finding a worker who doesn't look forward to their lunch break! After breaking out of those morning blues, lunch can serve as a much-needed hiatus from the day that'll help carry us through to the end.

How to Celebrate National Make Lunch Count Day

1. Arrange a group lunch

We've all got to eat lunch — why not do it together? National Make Lunch Count Day is the perfect excuse to arrange that group lunch that your coworkers have been talking about for lunch.

2. Buy a lunch for someone who can't

While many of us can afford that noontime sandwich, there are a lot of us who can't. If you're in a position to help, consider buying a lunch for someone near you who might otherwise struggle to pay for it themselves.

3. Plan your next week's lunches

Lunch often becomes an afterthought once you're nose-deep in a pile of work. Consider planning ahead to make sure you'll always have something nutritious to take you from breakfast to dinner! To do this, we have created a healthy lunch recipe book packed with easy recipes for the busy lifestyle we all seem to live.

So, regardless of it being "Make Your Lunch Count Day or Week", the key is to make your health count everyday.   In addition to downloading your FREE recipe book, also sign up for our Newsletter and receive tips on how to acheive health in your relationships, emotionally, physically,  spiritually, and  even professionally. 

We are excited to be a part of your life transformation.  As always, your feedback is greatly appreciated. 

 

Fill in your name and email and receive your FREE Recipe Book immediately.

 
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Want to Change the World? Change This First

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I remember singing the old spiritual “Dem Bones” as a kid and especially liked the part where all the bones are listed as “connected” to each other. It was fun naming all the connecting pieces, and if it had been a bit more anatomically correct, it could have helped me in my physiology class. 

The reason I mention it is sometimes we forget we are connected both externally and internally. For the past several decades our society has awakened to the fact that how we treat our environment will affect everyone else on the planet.  For example, drop a plastic bag in the ocean, and it could eventually turn up on a shore in the Philippines. 

The internal connection is just as valid - we can't neglect any area of our inner life without harming another. 

  • Our thoughts are connected to our relationships
  • Our relationships are connected to our health
  • Our health is connected to our careers
  • Our careers are connected to our finances
  • Our finances are connected to our thoughts

In short, our lives are made up of a lot of moving pieces – neglect one, and it will ultimately affect the others.  We can’t afford to focus on one dimension. 

 
Want to change the world? Change yourself first!


We at Total Wellness Resource Center are committed to precisely doing what our name implies – becoming your resource for total wellness. That means we are committed to giving you the best information so you can live your fullest life possible. Only then can you employ your gifts and talents toward helping others and begin making the beautiful connection between your internal and external world. 

The problem is it’s hard to change. We want a better life, but we don’t want to go through the process to get there. This dilemma has given rise to the instant gratification culture - 

  • Five weeks to a perfect body
  • Seven days to an all new you
  • Three steps to ultimate success 

We’re not going to promise instant transformation but incremental progress. You and I are on a journey, and by definition, we will encounter ups and downs, the ins and outs, successes and failures, heartaches and laughter. That is what it means to be human. What we must do each day is to rise with the sun and commit to making this day count toward living our fullest life possible. We can’t get there by one leap, and even if we could, we would miss all the wonder and wisdom that comes from the daily slog. 
Here are some examples for you my fellow traveler.

  • Ponder one noble thought today
  • Reach out to someone with a word of encouragement, praise or kindness
  • Do something healthy
  • Take a few minutes and be thankful
  • Open your mind to unexplored possibilities

We sincerely hope that you will allow us to travel with you. It is our greatest desire to be an instrument in God’s hands to help you experience all that you were created to be. 

Below is a way we can walk together on this wonderful adventure called life. Sign up for our weekly updates, so you don't miss out on any of our insights.  And if you have anything to share with us we'd love to hear it! 

Let's be a community committed to lifting each other up.

Check out our video

12 Declarations for Becoming More Assertive

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Many of our clients struggle with low self-esteem which leads to troubled relationships, career problems, depression and high levels of stress. They usually come to us complaining of one or more of these symptoms but it is soon discovered that at the root of their problem is an unhealthy belief about their value, significance, and worth. The usual cause is that they have based their value, significance, and worth on someone else's standards. These standards are external to them and are contingent on the approval of others, their looks, performance and/or social status. In short, they have been working so hard to meet these standards they have lost their own true identity.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe it is healthy to set high standards for oneself. This is a necessary component of a successful and productive life. The problem occurs when these standards become the basis for  our worth. When this happens our worth rises and falls with the tide of our performance. So let me give you three foundational principles that lead to a healthy self-image and helps us achieve our highest performance and satisfaction.


The first and most important principle is that we ground our identity on a foundation of intrinsic worth. Our value cannot be contingent upon anything external to ourselves. This is fundamental to a good self-image because it gives us a platform for taking risks and overcoming life’s obstacles. It also makes us resilient when we do fail - because everyone fails!

So how do we hold on to this belief when seemingly everything and everyone places human value on something external to ourselves? The only logical way is to appeal to an authority that transcends our own limited judgments. We need to appeal to our Creator. The framers of our government knew this and that is why they made the fact that we were created by God a basis for all our human rights.

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
— Declaration of Independence July 4, 1776

 

If we lose this understanding of the absolute worth of man then we are susceptible to choosing one standard over another and creating a hierarchy of value based upon; race, economic condition, attractiveness, intelligence, religion or a myriad of other factors. That doesn’t work for nations (consider Nazi Germany) and it doesn’t work for individuals.


Secondly, we need to accept the fact that we are not perfect. You may say, “I certainly know I’m not perfect”, but how do you deal with your imperfections? If you recoil from them and put up defenses everytime they are exposed then that is evidence that you are still basing your value, worth and significance on your ability to keep an external set of standards.

Please hear me on this, I am not saying you should somehow feel good about your failures. What I am saying is if your value, worth, and significance is given to you by your Creator then your identity is not diminished by your failures and you are free to make adjustments, grow and learn from them.


Lastly, you now have the ability to revel in your strengths and accomplish great things with your abilities without comparisons, pride or judgments. You can do this because you know that they don’t make you better or worse than anyone else it is just a part of who you are.

Those that struggle with low self-esteem usually also struggle with feeling they can be free to be who they truly are. This self-imposed limitation is often learned at a very early age and reinforced by countless interaction over the years. For many, just to speak up for themselves is a traumatic experience.

That is why I have written the Assertive Persons Declaration of Rights. The best way to use this is to review these rights every day (especially the ones that are most difficult to declare) Gradually your brain will adjust to this new way of thinking about yourself through a process called cognitive dissonance. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see results right away. Remember you have probably held these false beliefs about yourself for decades so give yourself time to rewire your brain.

12 Declaration of Rights For the Assertive Person

  1. I have the right to be wrong without experiencing shame, criticism or rejection.
  2. I have the right to my ideas, values, and dreams without criticism or judgment.
  3. I have the right to ask questions without being shamed.
  4. I have a right to say no without giving a reason that makes sense to other people.
  5. I have a right to my own feelings and not explain them to someone else’s satisfaction.
  6. I have a right to make decisions on my own time schedule.
  7. I have a right to feel good about my accomplishments.
  8. I have a right to make mistakes and not have these mistakes devalue me.
  9. I have a right not to be in a relationship if I believe it is wrong for me.
  10. I have a right to always be treated with respect.
  11. I have a right to respectfully disagree.
  12. I have a right to like what I like and not give a reason for it.  

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Why you should read the ABCs of Love.

In my practice, I often use the illustration of the three domains of awareness. I draw a circle and then divide it into pie-shaped thirds.

The first third I write, “What we know we know.” We all know we know certain things, like how to drive a car or cook a frozen pizza.

In the second third, I write, “What I know I don’t know.” This is also a fairly simple category for us to understand. I know I don’t know how to fly an airplane and I know I don’t know how to make a souffle.

When I come to the third domain of awareness I write in the circle, “What I don’t know I don’t know.”  Then I turn to my client (with a bit of a mischievous smile) and ask what don’t you know what you don’t know? They work on this conundrum for a while before I tell them there’s no way they can answer that question because if they did it would be in the domain of what they know they don’t know.

I then explain to them that many of the things that are not going well in their life are found in this domain. These are the unconscious and unexamined areas of their lives that typically cause the greatest pain and suffering. We then set a goal to explore this domain with the purpose of uncovering those hidden hindrances to a successful life and creating competencies.

But the big question is how do we explore an area where we have no conscious awareness?  Here are some of the ways:

  1. Look at your emotions and begin to ask why you feel the way you do. Our emotions often hang out in the third domain when our intellect is locked out.
  2. Explore the universal truths of the way humans interact and build relationships. You are both unique and common. How we successfully exist with other humans is something that has been rigorously studied.
  3. Develop a keener understanding of your family of origin and its effect on you. For most of us, we consider the home we grew up in as “normal.”  Therefore, we reproduce the beliefs and behaviors that are most ordinary to us. This especially gets us in trouble when we are in a relationship with another human who comes from a family whose “normal” is different from yours.

It is for these reasons that I encourage you to read “The ABCs of Love.” It will help you move from “Not knowing what you don’t know” to “knowing what you don’t know” with the hope that your new awareness will help you break free from the unconscious traps that are keeping your relationships from being intimate and satisfying. Dr. Shulman does this by exploring the way humans build relationships.She grounds her short concise chapters on solid, empirically based relationship theories and does it in a way that is both personally engaging and easily understood. I also love that Dr. Shulman does not speak from some lofty academic perch but uses her own failed relational attempts as examples of how she went from not knowing to knowing. If you want to grow in your relationships this is a must read!

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WHAT WILL YOUR LIFE LOOK LIKE IN 2019?

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What ?????? Am I really talking about 2019 when we are only a few days into 2018 - or could this be another one of my notorious typos? 

When you can’t change the direction of the wind – adjust your sails, 
— H. Jackson Brown, Jr, 

This quote is one I personally hold onto when the going gets tough and I am feeling a bit overwhelmed by the things I can’t control - very much like a captain fighting the winds of a storm.

The only things you can change are those in which you control. Therefore, you need to find a way to “adjust your sails” and look to the future rather than looking back at what didn’t work or fear the unknown which is ahead.

If a sailor knows a storm is coming from a certain direction, he or she will adjust the sails and let the wind blow them safely out of harm's way. They know that remaining on the same course might mean facing a storm that could cause a disaster and sink their boat.

The same principle applies to your life. Continuing on a course where disaster is looming might make it impossible for you to get out of the “storm,” and find safe passage.

It may be difficult to change a course that you’ve been on for a long time because the route is familiar and even though filled with turmoil, it can be strangely comfortable. Taking an unknown course of action may be scary, but necessary if those changes will bring you success and happiness.

The first thing you must do to rid yourself of fear of the uncharted course and decide where you want to land. Then you must stop negative thoughts from knocking you off this course. Practice replacing negative thoughts (the lies we tell ourselves) with positive ones. Mentally prepare yourself by gathering knowledge about your new course of action; visualize reaching your goals and create new resolutions by speaking the truth to yourself (positive affirmations). As I tell my clients, “Be careful what you say because YOU are listening”. You may still run into situations where you feel unprepared – and you may make some wrong decisions on the path – but, perseverance, positive attitude, and determination will help you stay on course through the dark and stormy times so you can joyfully reach your destination.

Next, remove the negative elements from your life. This may be extremely difficult, because the negative elements may be some of the people closest to you. They may be your coworkers, friends and even family. But by setting healthy boundaries you will be better equipped to rewrite the negative tapes in your head that have held you back from reaching your goals and becoming all you were created to be.

So yes, - 2019 is exactly what I meant – begin to set your goals and envision the life you want to be living one year from now. Take action, keep your eye on the prize. As simple as this may sound this formula truly works. I know - I’m living it.

If you need help defining your goals or creating an action plan feel free to reach out to me by filling out the form below.

Happy New Years 

"I am passionate about helping others reach their full potential" 

Life Coach

Cheri Tillman MBA, CLC, CWNC

 

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Expectatitus: The Disease that Stole Christmas!

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Are you without someone you love this Christmas season? Are you longing for a tradition that will not be happening this year? Do all the decorations and happy wishes make you wish that it were January? If so, you’re not a Grinch you probably have a bad case of Expectatitus.

Other names for this disease are the holiday blues or a bad case of nostalgia. It comes on when things are not the way they are supposed to be and our dream for that “perfect Christmas” doesn't come true. When this happens we are in danger of catching the disease Expectatitus.

Expectatitus: A disease of the spirit that is often caught around major holidays and special events when expectations are not met. Symptoms include a general malaise brought on by an unsuccessful attempt to recreate a past experience or tradition. Below is a symptom checklist

Diminished Vision:  Those afflicted become blind to the true joys of the moment and the beauty all about them.

Difficulty Hearing: New ideas and creative solutions are not heard

Negative Speech Patterns:  These and other phrases are common to those afflicted with Expectatitus “I wish it was like it was”, or “If only __________ were here”. Or “we’ve always done it that way” 

Perception Problems: Dilutions regarding a perfect past and flawless expectations are experienced by those afflicted with Expectatitus.   

Warning: Expectatitus is a progressive disease that ultimately affects the heart.

The Heart becomes rigid and obsessed with the past and unable to find contentment, peace, and joy in the present experiences.

If you or someone you know is showing any of these symptoms then it is critical that you take immediate action because this disease is both highly communicable and often genetic. Those with the disease spread it to others causing them to exhibit the same symptoms. It is also passed down from generation to generation through creating unalterable and pointless traditions.

Is there a cure?

Yes! It requires one to put aside their own preconceptions and unbending expectations to focus on the true nature of the event. In the case of Christmas, the afflicted person must stop making Christmas about what and more about who. The ability to be flexible, and focus on the true meaning of Christmas is essential to full recovery.

Mary: a case study of one who did not contract Expectatitus

The circumstances of Jesus’ birth was not at all what Mary had in mind for her first child. Nine months pregnant she was forced to travel hundreds of miles to a town where she knew no one. When she arrived she began to have contractions but discovered there wasn’t even a corner of a room for her to have her baby. An animal stall became her delivery room, her attendees were the displaced animals and the welcoming party consisted of a band of shepherds; societies outcasts. This wasn't even close to what she would have dreamt of much less hoped for. So how did she deal with this situation? The record shows that Mary took it all in and this was her attitude.

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
— Luke 2:19

Mary put aside her expectations and experienced the wonder of the moment. Even if she didn’t quite understand the significance of what was happening. She kept herself open to these experiences and in the coming years gained greater awareness of the miracle of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem.

So that is the cure to Expectatitus? It is not in the forsaking of our dreams and traditions but rather in being open to all that is new around us. It is the ability to focus on what is truly important. So during this Christmas season let’s do what Mary did and treasure the unimaginable gift of God in the birth of Jesus and make our goal to share our love and joy to all around us. No matter what our circumstances.

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Happiness Truly is a Matter of the Heart

What do you really desire in life? What keeps you up at night and gets you up early in the morning? What do you clutch onto so hard that you will protect it with your last ounce of strength?

That is your treasure and that is also where your heart is.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
— Matthew 6:21 NIV

In my work, I see a lot of people who are desperately trying to hold on to something that is not giving them the life they desire. It could be money, relationships, a career or score of other things that seem to melt away the tighter they clutch on to them. The problem is those “things” never satisfy the deepest longings of our heart. I am not advocating quitting your job or leaving your relationships, what I believe we need to do is to no longer see those things as the fulfillment of our desires. In fact, the more we try to make them do that the more miserable we make ourselves.

An example of this is money.

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs
— 1 Timothy 6:10 NIV

The point Paul is making in this verse is that when we pursue (love) that which cannot satisfy our souls we end up doing ourselves harm – akin to stabbing ourselves.

God knows we need money, and careers and homes – but we were made for something much more satisfying than this stuff. We were made for God himself.

When we “wonder” it often starts innocently. We become delighted by some new toy or someone strokes our ego. Pretty soon we’re saying this feels good … I want more. So we start chasing this new shiny object and then it happens. That object becomes our treasure rather than the one who ultimately gives all good gifts.

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
— Matthew 7:11 NIV

Is there anything that we need that he is not willing to give us?

He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
— Romans 8:32 NIV

This is a call for deep reflection. I confess I am guilty of seeking the gift rather than the giver – of longing for the resource rather than making the source of all blessings my heart’s desire.

Could this be why there is so much depression, anxiety and relational brokenness in our lives? Could we be deceived into believing the lie that something other than our Creator can satisfy our deepest longing?

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Blaise Pascal

"There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of each man which cannot be satisfied by any created thing but only by God the Creator made known through Jesus Christ.” 

So are you saying, James, that we’re not supposed to desire anything but God? No, I am saying that we are not to desire anything MORE THAN God. And when we receive what we desire we are to immediately thank him for what we have received.

God has no problems with us asking him for … whatever. But like the excellent father he is, he withholds the right to give us only what is best for us. If we become enamored with the shiny things of this world and he knows that they will cause us to wander off into places that will cause us harm, then like any good father he will withhold these things. Wouldn’t you?

Ask for whatever you wish and if your dearest desire is to honor the Lord and bless him with your life, it will be irrelevant whether you receive it or not because he will give you the ultimate desire of your heart. Your soul will be abundantly satisfied. And isn’t that what we truly crave?

Prayer of reflection

O Lord, I come to you seeking to open my heart to your gaze. Look deeply into my longings Lord and see if there is anything that I desire more than you. Search my heart Lord and reveal any attachments to whatever is not you. You are my source for all that I need. You have promised to graciously give me whatever is necessary. Help me to take my eyes off of all the “shiny things” in this world and fix them upon you. I confess I am so easily distracted. You know all things and you also know that my deepest, passionate desire it to bring you honor and glory in my life. Create in me a steadfast spirit that will live this desire in every area of my life.

As always if we can be of any service to you don’t hesitate to reach out. If you’d like to receive all our updates then just sign up for our newsletter below.

The Most Important Thing to Forget

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Are you looking for the key to happiness? If you aren’t you really should be. I am not saying that we should invest ourselves in some kind of spiritual treasure hunt because there’s no single truth or life skill that will produce perfect happiness, joy, peace or love. But if we are not continually striving to learn new truths and grow in our character then … well, we might as well be dead.

So I’m going to propose a life-skill that, if it is not at the top of your list, it really should be.  I have found neglecting this is responsible for massive heartaches and destroyed countless relationships. It is summed up in this one statement by the Apostle Paul:

Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus
— Philippians 3:13-14

What I have discovered over and over again in my life is I can not press on toward the goal if I am not willing to forget what is behind me. That goal is not merely a quest for money, fame or a comfortable life, it is a heavenly goal ordained by God.  For Paul, that goal was to, “press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me”. What he needed to forget was that in his former life he was a murderer and persecutor of the Church. I am sure it was very difficult for him to forget the pain he had caused so many people.

But what about you and me? What do we need to forget that is impeding the goal? For me, it is pretty much everything. I must let go of hurt feelings, broken promises, angry and cutting words, and anything else that will cloud my spirit and keep me from being free to pursue the heavenward call.

This forgetfulness is a decision to be free from bitterness and resentment. But let me be clear – forgetfulness does not mean our emotions are suddenly healed or our relationships are magically restored. Emotions have their own timetable for healing. The decision to forget a past injury (whether it is self-inflicted or caused by another) will mean that you will always act in a way that is counter-emotional. This skill is rarely taught in our “do what you feel” culture but is an absolute necessity if you are going to achieve the ultimate goal that calls you heavenward.

Take a moment and assess your current state of forgetfulness.

  • Is there any past situation that caused you an injury that you are holding on to?
  • Are you beating yourself up for a past action or decision you made?
  • Is there someone whom you harbor resentment and anger toward?

If you have confessed the wrongs in your life then the next step is to forget – because God has.

If someone else has hurt you and you are holding on to anger and resentment then the next step is to forgive – because you have been forgiven for much more grievous sins by God.

But if we are unwilling to forget what is behind us then we will find those past things will plant themselves firmly in our future and keep us from experiencing the beautiful life we were meant to live.

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How to Survive Failure

Let Failure be Your Stepping Stone to Success

   

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Boxers know that the outcome of a fight is determined before the actual fight. Your chances of winning are based on how much training you put in versus your competition. What's more, it's based on your mental attitude. If you're scared of your opponent or if you're too 'in your own head' then you will be more likely to lose. You'll be more likely to fail.

The same goes for pretty much everything in life. Your chances of victory or failure are based on the way you prepare for the event and the outcome then just 'plays itself out'.

And that's why planning can help you to survive every situation.

How to be Ready for Failure

The problem is, that too many of us plan only for victory. We make plans based on the assumption that everything will go well and that we will have good fortune. This is a result of a generally positive attitude but it's unfortunately not always the smartest move.

What's smarter than is to make sure you're also prepared for the various contingencies. What will you do if you lose your job? How will you cope if your partner leaves you? What will you do if the project you've been working on falls through?

This is an attitude that is always taken by businesses because they know it's smart to plan for failure. They will have plans of action based on new releases going well but also just as many that are based on them going badly. Likewise, they will have plans for things go 'just okay'.

By being ready for every possible outcome and contingency you will always be ready to deal with situations as they arise and nothing will catch you unawares and unprepared.

Making Plans

When making your plans, it can often be a good idea to think of them as a flow chart. Rather than a to-do list, a flow chart works better because it takes into account the fact that situations can change and are uncertain. Your plans should take the form of an 'IF' and 'THEN' approach.

To do this, you need to apply a little imagination in thinking of the things that could go wrong. You need to make contingencies not only for likely outcomes but also those that are perhaps less likely. As such, it can also help to look back at past failures and to assess them honestly.

By doing this you will have a plan for dealing with every possible scenario. You'll survive any failure and you'll be confident no matter what happens.  So we encourage you to internalize the idea that failure is not the end but may simply be your beginning.  Here are a few examples of where failure wasn't the final chapter.

 

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  • Steven Spielberg. His cinematic output has grossed more than $9 billion and brought him three Academy Awards, but the master of the blockbuster failed to be accepted twice when applying to the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts.
  • Oprah. She’s a billionaire with her own TV channel and a penchant for giving away cars but Oprah Winfrey was fired from her first TV job as an anchor in Baltimore.
  • Walt Disney. Can you imagine your childhood without Disney? Well it could easily have been if Walt had listened to his former newspaper editor. The editor told Walt he ‘lacked imagination and had no good ideas’. Undeterred, Old Walt went on to create the cultural icon that bears his name.
  • Albert Einstein. His name is synonymous with intelligence yet it wasn’t always that way for Albert Einstein. As a child he didn’t start speaking until he was four, reading until he was seven, and was thought to be mentally handicapped. He went on to win a Nobel Prize and altered the world’s approach to physics. I guess he was just thinking of the right thing to say for those first four years.
  • R.K. Rowling. Before there was a wizard, there was welfare. Rowling was a broke, depressed, divorced single mother simultaneously writing a novel while studying. Now one of the richest women in the world, Rowling reflects on her early failures:

 And the list goes on and on -  from Michael Jordan, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Edison, Vincent Van Gogh, and so on.  

 Moral of the story :  Don't let failure be the reason you fail,  but ratherthe beginning of your success.  

 

We would love to hear your failure to success stories.  You can email your story to Connect@totalwellnesscenter.com or we can be reached at (310) 461-4107.  Don't forget to sign up below for our weekly Newsletter packed full of inspiration.

Total Wellness Team

Passionate about transforming lives.  


 

   

Why Pulling Away From Relationships Doesn’t Work

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We have all been there. Something someone said touched a nerve and we react with a combination of anger and repulsion so we pull away like we’ve touched a hot stove.

I recently saw a video that loudly extolled the virtue of getting our own “house in order” before we attempt to be in a relationship. The example was used that if you have a virus it is a crazy idea to infect another person with the expectation you will get healed. Agreed, unhealthy people do not make healthy relationships but neither does isolation and “focusing on yourself”. Relationships are where be become broken and relationships are also where we get healed. To expect to get better at relationships by turning inward and isolating is like trying to be a better cook by eating at MacDonalds.

There is a place for working on ourselves and developing a healthy self-image. At some point, we need to make sure that we are secure enough with ourselves to be in strong relationships. But this is not an either/or proposition, it is actually a both/and proposition. We need to be both developing our own personal identity and refining that identity in relationships with others.

When I was a teenager I enjoyed making radio controlled airplanes. I would work for hours constructing them to the exact specifications in the instructions. They were beautiful on my shelf, but that is not what they were created for. They were meant for the sky and the only true test of my work was to take them out and fly them. The same is true in our quest to have a healthy self-image. The true test of our character is to be in a relationship that challenges us. This means that we need to engage when we’re hurt, triggered or fearful. We need to because that pain is directing us to where we are damaged. Relationships reveal our wounds and therefore are invaluable to the healing process.

If you want to be at greater peace with yourself

learn how to be at peace with others.

I have never met a person who is able to build healthy relationships who does not have a healthy relationship with themselves. Likewise, I have never met someone who has a unhealthy relationship with themselves that is not in unhealthy relationships with others.

But I can hear you say … “ it’s not everyone that I have a problem with, it’s just that one special person”. Invariably that one special person is triggering you in a relational wound that has not healed. So use the pain for gain. If not, you are dooming yourself to shallow relationships and stunted personal growth. I know this is hard – every fiber of your being is telling you to flee, but if you can resist the urge to run and find a way to understanding why you are being triggered there is incredible healing awaiting you.

Relationships are a window into our soul.

I am not advocating tolerating an abusive or destructive relationship, only a sick people with a poor self-images would accept that. But troubled relationships are a gold mind if you’re willing to stay in there and dig.

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"Talking To The Hand" Doesn't Work - And Here's Why

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Ever get hurt by what someone said or did so badly that you close down and stop communicating? It’s a bit like touching a hot stove and then quickly withdrawing your hand because, as we all know, only crazy people would leave their hand on a hot stove, right?

That’s exactly what I’m going to propose you do.

Of course, I’m not talking about a hot stove – I am talking about the courage to find insight when you’re emotionally triggered.  For many of us, our “knee-jerk” reaction to being hurt is to pull away and become silent. This causes the other person to either press for a response or withdraw wondering, “what just happened here?”.

The bottom line is that nothing gets better when we choose the tactic of; "talk to the hand 'cause the face ain't listening". The argument may blow over and the status quo return but the next time you touch the “hot stove” the pain returns and this time it brings with it the accumulated unresolved hurt from past injuries.

 John Gottman, the founder of the renown Gottman Marriage Therapy, calls this stonewalling and lists this approach to conflict as one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and a major factor in failing relationships.

But like most relational patterns it is difficult to break because it feels like we’re preserving our life but in actuality we are draining the life out of our relationships. Getting hurt is inevitable. Relationships always trigger emotional wounds and the closer the relationship the deeper the hurt.  But relationships also provide us the greatest opportunity for finding  healing for these wounds, if we don't run away from the conflict.

You want me to do what? Can’t you see that everything inside of me says to run?

It is exactly for that reason we must stay in the relationship and find healing. That pain you are feeling is a giant neon sign pointing to the place of your brokenness. Relationships have a way of pointing us to these places – what we do with this pain will determine whether we find wholeness or remain broken.

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Stonewalling keeps us stuck in our unresolved, and unhealed wounds

Next time you experience a painful encounter in your relationship, instead of pulling away try creating a new healing pattern. Here are some steps that may help.

  1. Don’t engage when you’re emotionally distraught. This condition is called being “flooded” and it is impossible for you to have a rational conversation because your brain is “flooded” with chemicals from your sympathetic nervous system. Check your heartbeat, if it is racing over 100 beats per minute (80 if you are athletic) then take 20 minutes and breathe until you can return to a calm emotional state.
  2. When you do speak about your hurt, start gently and use only I statements. Talk about how you feel not about how they “made you feel”.
  3. Avoid criticism at all costs. When we criticize we are giving up responsibility for your own feelings and blame the other person for our reaction. This will only create defensiveness in the other person and dis-empower you.
  4. Look for deeper causes for your pain. Ask yourself some probing questions:
  • Why am I so disturbed by this?
  • Does this feel similar to something from my past?
  • How does it affect the way I see myself?

If the knot is too tight for you to untie consider getting professional help - don't stay stuck in your unresolved pain. Life is too short for that!

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Is Gratitude the Cure for Anxiety?

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It is a fact that gratitude is a powerful way of reprograming our brains to enhance our emotions and improve our overall physical health. It is one of the keys to longevity and is creates powerful, life affirming relationships. When we are in a state of active gratitude we are less likely to be anxious, fearful, depressed or hopeless. We are also open to new perspectives and possibilities that are otherwise closed doors to us.

All this is a fact – proven over and over again through empirical studies. But still many of us find that gratitude eludes us. We struggle to remain positive in the face of so much that is negative in our world.

That is why I am here to say if you are waiting to be grateful until you “see” things to be grateful for then you will never experience the life altering effects of gratitude.

Gratitude is a discipline we must learn – it does not happen naturally. If you want the positive properties of gratitude you are going to need to work at it. And make no mistake, it is work because your brain is trained to focus upon whatever it perceives as danger – even when the danger is not even a remote possibility. That riot in the south, that shooting in New York, that famine in North Africa are all terrible events but they pose no danger to you – but a part of your brain doesn’t know that. So it directs you to those news stories because it is trying to protect you, and in the process, you are being filled with worry, fear, and anxiety.  In fact, anxiety becomes our cultural norm. And we wonder why our lives are so unsettled and we carry this a vague sense of apprehension wherever we go.

The first step to developing a life of gratitude is to turn off the flood of negativity that you expose yourself to everyday. This does not mean that you become uninformed or ignorant of the world around you, but that you recognize the effect this information is having on you. Put the news in perspective and don’t let it become your reality. Did you know that according to all governmental measurements incidences of violence is down over the past years? In fact, there has been less killing and mayhem in the world than in previous generations. But you would never know that  by watching the news. That is because mayhem sells advertising. Media producers know your brain is constantly scanning for anything that could be remotely dangerous and given the choice of watching a video of riots in the streets or puppies playing in the water, guess what the vast majority of viewers will watch?

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Be careful what you focus on for it is what you will become.

So limit your exposure to horrid, evil, vile and cruel information. You cannot change the situation but exposure to it will change you. If you must watch it then be aware of how it will affect you and determine to do something to engage in the situation in a positive way. In that way, you become active in bringing hope and healing to a situation rather than it bringing anxiety and fear into your life.   

Second Step: Learn to focus on what is good in your life and express thankfulness for it. This may be in the form of a gratitude list or just deciding periodically to find 10 things to be thankful for. Remember it is a discipline – it may be hard to turn your brain from the negative but you can do it if you want to. The benefits are amazing!

For the past couple of years, I have made it a habit of keeping a positive life-affirming journal. It has transformed my life and been part of the healing process from a lifelong tendency toward depression. I encourage you to try it. But even if journaling is not your thing find a way to make gratitude a daily discipline.

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What I Learned About Relationships From Walter - My Rescue Dog.

LOVE DOESN'T HAVE TO STINK ......

 Wonderful Walter 2017

Wonderful Walter 2017

This is Walter – he is a 105 pound Rotty/Shepherd that we adopted from a local rescue, Whiskers and Tails in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA.  We quickly learned he loves to chase squirrels and eat all insects that fly -  including wasps. In fact,  he has a little Ninja that makes up his unique quirky personality.  When it gets dark he loves to patrol the back yard protecting us from … well only he knows and he’s sworn to the Ninja code of silence.

The other night he was patrolling the perimeter and we heard an unusual commotion so I ran out to see what was happening. It didn't take long to figure out what was going on because within less than a second I smelled it …... A SKUNK.   Yes, an unsuspecting Walter had come face to face....well, not exactly face to face but you get the picture, of the smelly works delivered by Mr. Skunk.

Quickly into the bathtub (ever bathed a stinky 100-pound dog 10:30 at night?).  We quickly surfed the internet for the "magic" formula to remove skunk odor and found a website that "guaranteed" the homemade solution would work.  My wife started mixing the potion and I got to work on Walter.  One hour later we had a 100 pound dog that reeked of wet fur and skunk wildly running through the house.   It has now been over a week and guess what – Walter still stinks. And not only Walter but whatever Walter touched smells too!

So now I can hear you thinking … “so sorry for Walter but what the heck does that have to do with relationships?”

Thank you for asking. 

Sometimes the stink from a fight, a careless word, or thoughtless action can stink up a relationship for days, weeks or even years. It often only takes a small thing for that odor to arise and stink up our relationship all over again. I admit it’s hard to remove the odor of a hurt. The pain lingers long like Walter’s smell. But unlike poor Walter, we actually have a choice how long we will allow our relationships to be polluted by these things.

After all who wants to smell bad to their partner?

Here are four steps you can take.

  1. Admit that you were hurt: Sometimes our pride gets in the way of our healing. We think we shouldn’t feel what we’re feeling so we go into denial mode but in reality, we’re just allowing the wound to infect other areas of our lives.
  2.  Forgive: Forgiveness is a unilateral is a gift we give to ourselves so that we don’t carry the heavy burden of resentment and anger throughout our life. Forgiveness does not mean that you minimize the wound – only that you choose to heal.
  3. Reconcile: If possible share with your partner how you were hurt and attempt to find a new way of relating to each other. Keep in mind that this requires that you both be willing to see each other’s perspective to get beneath the surface. In every harmful human interaction, there is always something deeper that is causing it. When this is understood it will change the whole dynamic of the relationship and create an opportunity for healing and avoiding entering back into the conflict.
  4. Let it go: Yes, we can also choose to let go of whatever it was that is stinking up our relationships. This means refusing to bring it up … ever!

Walter is smelling much better now, okay, he still smells like a dog but not like a skunk. The real question is what do you and I smell like? 

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Harmed by Your Past? Five Steps to Start Healing.

WHEN OUR PAST GETS IN THE WAY OF OUR FUTURE.....IT IS TIME TO ADDRESS IT HEAD ON..

As a therapist, my job is to help people get unstuck from their problems and overcome the obstacles in their lives, and contrary to the prevailing belief, I do not enjoy talking about my client’s mothers. But I do have a passion for people experiencing freedom and joy in their lives so this is what I tell my clients:

When our past gets into our future we need to deal with it.

stuck (1).jpg

Is your past in the way of  your future? 

The truth is, our past always gets into our future. Some of us were blessed with parents, teachers, and mentors that spoke into us beautiful life affirming truths that empower us to live full and prosperous lives. This is a positive example of having our past affect our future.

However, some of us did not get that kind of input when we were young. We were fed on a diet of lies and treated in a way that hindered our development. This is when we need to talk about mothers, as well as other influential people and experiences from our past.

But how do we know if our past is hanging us up? It’s not as if our parents are going to come to us and say; “you know that thing I said about you when you were five, I was wrong!” No, they are probably just as unconscious about how they injured you as you are about how you were injured. These kinds of wounds rarely reveal themselves plainly so they can be understood and dealt with. Rather, they stealthily sabotage our relationships, careers and emotional well-being. Sometimes we need to look backward to go forward.

So how do you know when you need to look backward to go forward? Here are some clues.

  • You have a recurring argument with your spouse that never resolves
  • You have an over reaction to something someone said or did.
  • You are anxious, depressed or fearful for no good reason
  • You can’t find the motivation to do the things you want to do

These are some symptoms of having a harmful past.  If so, here are five things you can do about it.

  1. Become aware: Don’t dismiss unexplained emotions or irrational feelings just because they are uncomfortable.
  2. Challenge the status quo: Our childhood experiences and programming often becomes our “dysfunctional normal”.  Challenge what is not working in your life.
  3. Ask yourself this question: What belief is at the core of this feeling or circumstance?
  4. Seek help: We often can’t see what we can’t see, a third party perspective can break us out this.
  5. Don’t give up: Replacing past harmful programming is often a long, slow process. Most of us have been living with these lies for years – they aren’t going to give up their stranglehold on us easily. Be persistent. What your mind learned it can also unlearn.

There is freedom if you choose to be courageous in seeking it. You’ve only got one life. Don’t let someone or something from your past keep you from living it to the fullest

 

With Love, 

James

If you are looking for a way to jump start feeling better about yourself. Check out

10 Days Toward Learning to Love Yourself. 

1 + 1 = 3 Plus Freedom!

Are You at the Mercy of Someone or Something?

I have never been comfortable with this phrase I hear so often when something negative happens in a person’s life.

“You (or it) made me feel …”

Whenever I hear it I want to say –

Me: So, how did they do it?

Them: Do what?

Me: Get into your brain?

Them: My brain?

Me: Did they get microscopic and crawl into your brain through your nose and make you feel that?

Them: You’re an idiot … what are you talking about

Me: You know the thing that made you feel the way you feel – just how did they make you feel that?

At this point I know exactly what would happen, the person would shake their head at me and just walk away. That’s because we’re very used to 1 + 1 equals two. In other words, when someone treats us badly we react to that in a logical sequential way, we respond with a predictable emotion. (anger, frustration, sadness, contempt etc.)

I know what you’re thinking, “what the heck James how am I supposed to act – happy?” Let me share a secret – we don’t need to have our circumstances define our actions we actually can choose to respond to our circumstances the way we want to – not the way the circumstance dictates to us.

By the way, until we learn to apply this truth we will forever be at the mercy of every person or circumstance that we experience because whatever happens to us will dictate our response.

But don’t take my word for it, this is a central theme in Scripture and the hallmark of a true follower of Christ.

To this, you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. ‘He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.’ When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.
— 1 Peter 3: 21-23 NIV

I have never been beaten, scourged, spat upon, humiliated and then nailed to a cross but Jesus was and he was able to say, while he was hanging on the cross, “Father, forgive them, they do not know what they are doing”.

It may not seem like it, but we do have a choice on how we respond to trying situations. The choice is this; will I let the circumstance define me or will I define the circumstance? Will I follow the broad road of predictable and unremarkable response or will I take this as an opportunity to bring redemption and healing into this situation?

Ultimately, our response to trials, difficulties, insults and personal injustice will define who we are and what we believe. Jesus’ response on the cross was as a result of his “entrusting himself to him who judges rightly” and therefore was able to defy human logic and reveal his true character.

We can too. But first, we must stop making feeble excuses for ourselves and accept responsibility for our own reactions. We ultimately choose how to respond, we have the opportunity to act in a way that is contrary to the “norm”. This ability is given to every believer and when we do we are demonstrating the character of Christ in us.

And here’s another secret – It is almost always counter to our initial emotional response. It is not “natural” for us to be kind when we've been treated harshly or be loving when we’ve been rejected – it’s supernatural.

And that my friend is the gospel at work in us. A gospel the world longs to see.

Love you.