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Turn Challenges into Gold

Turn Challenges into Gold

Turn challenges into gold

Caroline Myss is an author, inspirational teacher and healer in the fields of human consciousness, health and spirituality, among other things.

I wanted to share a few of her quotes as food for thought about the impact of challenges and choices in our lives. I briefly comment on them, but the goal is to allow you to rethink how you approach challenges and how these can become growth experiences rather than victimizing experiences.

My goal is always to lead individuals to develop self-awareness to pass on this beautiful gift to their children, friends or family to make this world a better place at an individual and global level.

The more self-aware we become, the less reactive we are. The less reactive we are, the more present we are to what life places in our path, and the more we can live in gratitude and grace.

Let’s start:

“The challenge that each of us is confronted with during our periods of suffering is whether to allow pain to remain at the ego level or whether we can transform our ego pain into a process that strengthens our soul.” — Caroline Myss

This way to face life challenges had supported me through the difficult times such as when my two-year-old was diagnosed with leukaemia and a challenging separation from my husband. After the initial shock, denial and despair, I transformed these emotions by opening my eyes to the possibility of finding the gifts in these situations. Asking myself “what do I need to learn from this” as opposed to “why is this happening to me, to us?”

A second very helpful element was to accept the challenges as opposed to wishing them away or focussing on the past.

Third, I let go of the need to control. Whether it be the need to know that my daughter would be cured, or the need to know what I did wrong, it was futile. No amount of information would give me more control. Instead, I surrendered to the “what is” and decided to live through it and trust that even if I did not know what the future held, that I had no ability to control the future or its outcomes, that whatever would happen would be in my best interest.

Fourth, handling these periods of suffering with the faith that something good would come out of them even if the mind tends to say “What the hell good can come out of a two-year-old having cancer?” I resisted those thoughts as best as I could.

Changing our perceptions about challenges make them more bearable because I know that I will be okay.

Through the difficulties, I also discovered how strong and resilient I am, and I come out of the storms victorious and undefeated. When all else fails, and I am on my knees crying, these simple phrases that Caroline Myss teaches us to use as mantras have carried me through the most difficult times, without fail: “Hover over me, God” and “Man’s rejection is God’s protection”.

“Built into each of our lives are countless challenges that highlight what we fear and what we find difficult to confront. Regardless of what these challenges are, the underlying purpose inherent in every one of these situations is the opportunity to respond in ways that increase our awareness of our own inner strength and power.” — Caroline Myss.

On my life path were placed a multitude of challenges I never thought I had the strength to go through, yet I did. Life has shown me that I am strong beyond belief. I just need to trust.

So when faced with a challenge remind yourself that you have two choices: approach the challenge with fear or love. If you are fearful, you will miss a great opportunity to discover your tremendous inner strength. So don’t resist the difficulty, allow it to pass through you and you will see what I mean. What you resist persists. What you focus on grows. So don’t resist and don’t focus on the bad, focus on the solution and the desired outcome.

“Until you surrender the need to know why things happened to you as they did, you will hold on to your wounds with intense emotional fire.” Caroline Myss

Don’t waste energy trying to figure out why things happened, invest energy in trying to figure out how to get through them. Do not dwell on the past, regrets or resentments. Instead, aim your attention on the future reality or state you want to experience and live it as if it is already a reality. Feel it deeply so that you can allow it to become a reality.

Acceptance is not condoning a wrongdoing. Acceptance enables us to see what is. Only then can we focus on the next steps and not stay stuck. Fighting or resisting what has happened will in no way make it go away or turn back the hands of time. Non-acceptance is futile. It only causes more suffering.

“Every life has a purpose that unfolds amid a journey of endless opportunities. The choices we make, and the underlying motivations that determine these choices, influence the quality of the next opportunity.” Caroline Myss.

You decide if your choices will be made out of fear or guilt, or out of love and faith. Choices based on the former do not usually bring us the outcomes we wish for, but rather place more of the same challenges that feed our fear or guilt.

When faced with opportunities, stop and think before you make a choice. Will you respond in fear/guilt or with love/faith. See your life take a turn for the better.

Choices made in fear or guilt are choices we end up resenting. As a result, these choices will bring about challenging outcomes. It never ends.

Be quiet and if fear creeps up, notice, and let the fear pass. Instead, trust your gut or intuition and see what you would do if you were not scared, and do that! The more you do it and see the endless possibilities, the more the fear will die down.

The outcomes will speak for themselves. As a result, there will be no turning back because you will experience the relief of making choices from an authentic place. And there is no better way to live!

 

The Importance of Self-Esteem for Success

The Importance of Self-Esteem for Success

Child's self-esteem

“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”

Frederick Douglass

“There are two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots, the other, wings.”

Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Self-esteem is the foundation of a successful, and happy life. It does not matter what kind of expert you listen to, whether it be financial coaches, nutrition coaches, business coaches, health coaches, fitness coaches, parenting coaches, the bottom line is this: they all say that to be successful, people need a healthy amount of self-esteem.

When people love themselves, they take better care of themselves, others and have clear boundaries. They make better choices, are happier, have healthier relationships, and feel empowered. They do not let external circumstances define them; they are self-accepting, less judgmental of themselves and others. They do not feel the need to be people pleasers. They follow their beliefs and values, and not those dictated by others or the media. They defend what they believe in and don’t cave into peer pressure. Most importantly, people with healthy self-esteems know they are deserving of love and respect. They do not tolerate abuse or mistreatment; they walk away from it. They have integrity.

Individuals with healthy self-esteem are not only respectful of themselves, but they are also respectful and empathic to others and the environment. They are not prejudiced, racist, sexist, and do not strive to crush others to elevate themselves. They take on life’s challenges head on and are not victimised by them, thus reducing unnecessary suffering. Moreover, this is what every parent dreams of for their children: the kind of self-love that will carry them through life.

Until we learn to love ourselves, the world will mirror back to us that lack. People with low self-esteem tolerate from others the same kind of mistreatment that they inflict upon themselves. People’s worlds drastically change for the better when they genuinely start to embrace who they are.
To become this kind of adult, it starts at the root of life. Feeding and nurturing the precious stage of infancy and early childhood, and parenting consciously by being fully present. Parents do not fully realise the amount of influence and power they have over elevating or crushing their child’s self-esteem. Parents are too often concerned with external accomplishments and doing (as opposed to just being), and don’t invest as much effort into the actions that feed, foster and maintain a child’s precious self-esteem.
Traditional values of connection, sharing, cooperation, and collaboration have been replaced by messages of consumerism, superficiality, outer achievements as opposed to inner growth. The media and social pressures have cleverly orchestrated these messages and values to do more and have more.
Most of us have a wounded inner child that needs to be healed. On the journey to caring for our child’s self-esteem, we can heal our own. In this sense, our children become our greatest teachers, and we can grow together, side by side. Children are precious and deserving of their birthright to being loved unconditionally. Children are born with healthy self-esteem. It is our duty to make sure it stays this way.

Children with healthy self-esteems are happier, more resilient, self-confident, and able to ward off bullies or negative influences. Children with healthy self-esteems usually have a closer relationship with their parents. They are not afraid of being themselves and open up to their parents because they have been loved unconditionally. These children grow up to become adults with the wonderful qualities I have mentioned earlier.

Raising children with healthy self-esteems is the greatest gift we can offer them. It stems from a strong attachment and being loved unconditionally. Let’s not be short-sighted, lets place the relationship in the forefront and not worry so much about discipline and external achievements. Moreover, keep this in mind when parenting your kids: wouldn’t it be nice if they spoke kindly of you when they become adults and not grow up to be filled with bitterness, and resentments?

I leave you with this song. Pay attention to the lyrics… and ask yourself “will my child speak of me in such kind words when he/she is older?”. I sure hope so.

 

The healthy parent-child bond

The healthy parent-child bond

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Audio Version of the Blog Below:

 

Our children are also here to grow us up. A healthy parent child relationship is not a relationship of dominion of one person over another. Our children are entrusted to us and we are to be their teachers and their protectors. There is a healthy level of authority over them but not for the sake of dominance. This is a relationship where both have something to contribute and to teach to the other.

Don’t treat your child as a lesser version of you. Be aware that the parent child relationship offers a mutual contribution to those involved, and offers both individuals the opportunity to grow. You have as much to learn as your child does. Your child will reawaken those parts of you that were dormant, and most likely were put to rest when you yourself were a child. Your children will push your buttons and you will be forced to look in the mirror if you choose to truly evolve as a person and as a parent. You can fight it and take a stance of domination or be grateful for the opportunity your child is offering you to also grow up, and heal those wounds that your child so cleverly brings back to the surface.

When children push our buttons, test the limits, push back, take a stance, and we perceive all these behaviours as opposing our authority, we are making a mistake. Our perception is faulty. It is not about us, or about intentionally defying us with a nasty intention behind it. We are the ones who attribute a negative interpretation or intention behind these behaviours that push us over the edge at times, or make us so angry. If we make it about this, we miss the point.

When a child pushes our buttons, it is important to take a step back, breathe and think. Realize if your emotional reaction to this behaviour has its roots in your own past. Most likely yes. By realizing this, you can tone it down and be present to the here and now, and respond to your child, not from a place of pain related to past wounds, fear or guilt.  Usually when you do this, the intensity of your emotions will be greatly reduced. This is the gift, because when you realize this, you will parent your child based on his or her needs and not based on a past that is not healed. And then, you are truly present to your child.

When we see the relationship as a mutual opportunity for growth and collaboration, we truly attend to the child’s needs more than to our own personal agenda,  which can be steeped for example in not wanting to be like our parents, or with being obsessed with the fear that your child is running your life.

So parents, when you realize that your children are equal to you, and deserve the same respect that you require of them; when you realize that you, as well as they, need to grow up; when you realize that you can learn from them as much as they can learn from you, you will fuel their self esteem in a positive way. This will give them a sense of value and worth because they will not be made to feel less than you or inferior.

Shine your brightest light!

Shine your brightest light!

Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Audio Version of Blog Below:

 

Your life depends on it! Your sanity depends on it. Your children COUNT ON IT. Be you, be the true you, love you because you are all you’ve got! And what you’ve got is awesome. Be brave, be yourself, love yourself, speak out and stand up for yourself. Be the person you want to admire in your children if you have children and if you don’t, just be you for your own sake. Life is short.

The greatest gift you can give yourself in this lifetime is to love yourself. If you love yourself unconditionally you make better choices, you surround yourself with people who let you shine your brightest light, who accept you for who you are, who honour you, who bring you up.

Be brave, step into your life with all your might, be proud of who you are, old wounds and all. They have shaped who you have become, they are not a scratch that make you damaged goods. Honestly, look at your wonderfulness! Look in the mirror, stare in those eyes of yours, stay there, for a while and look at your essence. You are an amazing human being. You just need to believe it now. And if you don’t, fake it until you do believe it. Reprogram that mind of yours.

If you need inspiration, listen to the song I have attached below and read the lyrics. And do be brave, and decide that today is the day that you put an end to that negative self talk. Get out of the shadows, speak up, let the words pour out of your heart and step up, stand up for yourself. Clean out your house and the attic of negative people that keep you down. Make space for new wonderful people to fill in the void that these people will leave. Light will attract light, darkness attracts darkness. So turn on the light to cast those shadows away! Let them go, they are no use to you anymore. Turn over that page of your past, let it go. It no longer serves you, really. It only keeps you stuck in a time frame that no longer exists.

Change can be scary but when you know that beauty awaits on the other side, it is worth to face your fears, tread the mucky waters to end up on a beautiful crystal beach 🙂

Don’t let the shadow win.

Love and Light to you from me!

You can be amazing
You can turn a phrase into a weapon or a drug
You can be the outcast
Or be the backlash of somebody’s lack of love
Or you can start speaking up
Nothing’s gonna hurt you the way that words do
And they settle ‘neath your skin
Kept on the inside and no sunlight
Sometimes a shadow wins
But I wonder what would happen if you

Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

With what you want to say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I wanna see you be brave

Everybody’s been there, everybody’s been stared down
By the enemy
Fallen for the fear and done some disappearing
Bow down to the mighty
Don’t run, stop holding your tongue
Maybe there’s a way out of the cage where you live
Maybe one of these days you can let the light in
Show me how big your brave is

Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

With what you want to say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

Innocence, your history of silence
Won’t do you any good
Did you think it would?
Let your words be anything but empty
Why don’t you tell them the truth?

Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

With what you want to say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I wanna see you be brave

What people think of you doesn’t matter!

What people think of you doesn’t matter!

eyes by Alexandru ZdrobăuSome people hated mother Teresa, or Oprah… Goes to prove you can’t please everyone. You can’t control what people think of you and you can’t have it control you.

Whether it’s an opinion, a life choice, the way you dress, the music you like, the religion you follow or don’t follow, there will always be someone who disagrees with your chosen path. It is well known that many famous people and pioneers, initially were not well liked. People don’t like change, don’t like “different”. It makes them uncomfortable. Change requires people to stretch a little and not every one is ready to do so. Some people may criticize your choices out of insecurity because it forces them to question their own choices or the status quo.

It takes courage to go against the flow, to make unpopular choices that people attempt to force you to justify. What if her or his choice mean that my choices are wrong? Can often be the underlying insecurity.

Some people go through life being people pleasers at their own expense. They make other people happy, they avoid conflict or rocking the boat, but at what price. Over the years, people pleasing takes a toll on an individual, and it is not uncommon, years later, to see these people in my office, suffering with depression, anxiety, have pent up anger and resentments, etc. To later realize they’ve compromised their choices because they were scared of what people might think. And then to be resentful of the same people they attempted to please because they chose to not care what people thought of them.

When dying people are interviewed, one of the wishes that keeps coming up is that they should have lived the life they wanted to live not the one people wanted them to live.

So live your life fully, do no harm, and remember that what people think of you is really none of your business. You can’t make everyone happy and not everyone will like you. That’s simply a fact, deal with it, and carefully pick the ones who will have the privilege of being part of your life.

And remember this, trying to please everyone, in a way is a very selfish and controlling act, as you rob people of the freedom to respond to the real you, you are doing impression management, and in no way is this an authentic way to live life!

Managing emotions and healthy self esteem

Managing emotions and healthy self esteem

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What does managing emotions have to do with a healthy self esteem ? Well it has everything to do with it. To be able to manage emotions adequately, you need to learn who you are, what makes you tick and how to cope with it. The way you cope with your emotions will have a direct impact on your environment and on your relationship with yourself, and others.

To have a good understanding of our internal world is key in developing healthy relationships. If you ask me, managing emotions is key to healthy and balanced living and thus emotional intelligence (EQ- emotional quotient) is a skill we can’t afford to do without. At times, I am certain that emotional intelligence is more likely to lead to a successful and well balanced life than any IQ score (intellectual quotient).

Part of the human experience involves having emotions, daily, and thus we need to learn how to live with them and manage them. Emotions are the gateway to understanding what is happening in our internal and external worlds.

Usually we have emotions following a trigger, whether it is conscious or not, whether it is a private experience or its triggered by external factors. Anger for example, is usually, an indication that we feel threatened somehow or that we have been wronged. We need to make friends with anger. It is useful and not to be suppressed or ignored. People never question positive emotions, usually they want more of those and they  don’t care to overanalyze them. Bring it on! and please don’t you dare leave! It is the negative emotions that get in the way if we are unable to process them properly.

Now back to your child, or yourself for that matter. The greatest gift you can give your child is to teach him or her how to ride the wave of emotions, not fear them or fight them.
Parents are often dismayed at their kids’ inability to manage emotions, but is it realistic to have such an expectation? Take a step back and look around you. Most adults do not manage their emotions properly. On the outside, they may appear as if they do because their public behaviours do not slight us, but a majority of adults do not know how to manage emotions in a healthy way.

Let me share a few examples. Some people stuff their emotions inside and fester, other display a wide range of responses from completely passive, to passive-aggressive to plain old aggressive. Others take it out on their kids, their pets, their partners, the elderly, or any other vulnerable population. Very few people express their emotions and needs assertively. Take a moment and look at yourself, your partner, your friends, your boss, your family… how do they typically deal with anger, frustration, fear?

So, what I have translated over the years, is this. Rather than teaching their children to have healthy emotional coping skills, parents want their kids to have emotional reactions that are “socially acceptable”, that won’t embarrass them, that won’t question their power and authority.If a parent doesn’t stand confident in their authority, they might misinterpret their child’s reaction as defiance or manipulation.

But is that really what you want when you think of it? A child that will bottle up his emotions, and ignore them? It may appear more appropriate than a full blown temper tantrum, slamming of doors, screaming and swearing, expressing a different opinion, questioning your decisions, yet it is unhealthy nonetheless.

To expect, after a few reprimands, punishments, and lecturing (at least not without proper teaching), 5- 6 year olds to manage their emotions is unrealistic,. As humans, developmentally speaking, we are unable to fully master that skill until we are in our early twenties. Until then, we are in school!

It is not an easy task. Parents thus need to be patient and teach rather than punish those outbursts. If you realize that when a flow of emotion shows up, the child is overwhelmed by that emotion and has no idea how to process it and make it pass. They don’t have the knowledge that it will pass and that they will be okay on the other side, so it can be quite distressing. We need as parents to escort them through this and feel compassion, not anger.

From a place of compassion we can validate our child and walk her through that emotion. It is important not to go into the left brain and into problem solving immediately. First,we need to attend to the right brain, and connect with the emotion through empathy and validation. This in itself can have tremendous calming powers.

When you are at a loss and have no idea what is going on, simply ask. When a child is throwing a tantrum, he is trying to tell you something. Simply ask, calmly, “What are you trying to tell me? I’m here, I’m listening.” Hug the child, touch him. Don’t get angry and scream, you will just make it worse. Even worse,  don’t threaten with a consequence or send them to their rooms. When the child attempts to tell you, just sit with them and ride the wave together. Retell the story, and see where they are coming from.

How does this relate to self esteem, you wonder. Firstly, people who know themselves well are very self aware. Secondly, they have less of a tendency to blame others for their feelings, and thus take responsibility for them. This is turn empowers them. as they no longer are victims of another person. When you feel empowered, and in control of your life, it has a positive impact on your self esteem.

I won’t lie to you, this is no easy skill. From the time my daughter was little, I  label her emotions, as we speak and interact, in order for her to develop an emotional vocabulary and self awareness. In addition to this, it has for effect of teaching her to ride the wave of emotions instead of fearing them. It taught her to not fear her emotions and to get acquainted with them. I’ve always allowed her to have her own feelings, separate from mine, and validated her, from the point of view of her reality and experience, not mine.

Little children live in the moment. They are masters at mindfulness. So when they experience an emotion, they live it intensely, the joys and the sorrows. They are not thinking of last time when they were upset and got over it, and they surely aren’t thinking of what will happen in the next 5 minutes. This is why they live their emotions so intensely. The younger they are, the more intense the feelings and the less skilled they are at managing them.

Through the process of validation you are teaching your child to validate themselves, thus embrace the feeling as it comes. With time and experience the become better equipped at being accepting of their own feelings, and not live with self doubt or judgment,  the way adults often do. A child who is validated is taught self respect in the process, and with self respect come many benefits. They also learn compassion for others. Remember you can only be loving and accepting of others to the degree you are loving and accepting of yourself.

In the process of teaching your child to manage their emotions, you are also deeply connecting with your child. Connection is the basis of a healthy relationship between parent and child. Through this positive interaction, the child is less likely to seek attention through negative means, is less likely to kick, hit, and bite as a way to physically connect with you.

In teaching your children how to manage emotions, as opposed to disciplining their emotions, you are teaching them to stand up for themselves,  to set boundaries, self-care, the ability to distinguish mine from yours and that it is okay to be different, you are teaching personal responsibility as opposed to blaming, you are teaching conflict resolution. This in the process will enhance their self esteem, enhance their relationships, and make them resilient and brave, instead of fearful. All these qualities do not appeal to bullies by the way.

Like any parenting duty, it takes time, repetition, and patience, and mostly love. With love and compassion any goal is attainable.

For more details on how to manage emotions I recommend you read the Whole Brain Child. The entire book is about how to teach your child how to manage their emotions.