Monday, December 28, 2009

Launch Yourself into the 2010 of Your Dreams

By Amy Phillips-Gary

As I hang up my brand-new calendar for 2010 and prepare to welcome in a fresh decade, I can't help but think about what I want to do differently in the coming year.

Yes, I'm thinking about New Year's resolutions.

You might be doing the same thing. Many of us greet the new year with hopeful and ambitious lists of undesirable habits we're finally going to kick and the new, healthier ones we're going to adopt instead.

And many of us do begin to make changes-- at least for a little while. Sometimes we make a few changes but then fall back into those “bad” habits and tendencies after a period of time.

When the months fly by and we find ourselves back to late December again facing those same old limiting ways of reacting to life, it can feel frustrating, irritating and downright depressing.

This year, I'm re-thinking the whole New Year's resolutions thing. Instead of only focusing in on what I'm planning to change for the upcoming year, I'm going to devote significant attention to what I want to keep on doing.

Rather than my usual intention to throw out the old while resolving to re-fashion the bulk of the way I live my life, I'm going to create space for honoring where I am and what I'm doing that IS working the way that I want it to.

I actually believe that approaching a new year-- a new decade even-- from a base of acknowledgment and self-appreciation will help me to more effectively move into the changes that I desire. These changes may even come about with greater ease and be longer-lasting.

A funny thing about making changes...

Of course, I'm aware that my diet could use some cleaning up, I continue to be a bit of a perfectionist and my sense of patience with others can certainly use some bolstering.

There are tons of things about my usual habits that I'd like to improve upon.

What I've found in the past, however, is that I'm more motivated to take a risk and respond in a different way-- especially when it comes to well-practiced habits-- when I am in a place of honoring and appreciation.

My friend Mollie Hannon has been talking with some friends and I about the importance of making completions for the current year before moving on to the next. She even found a wonderful ritual online to do so.

Perhaps doing a completion ritual like this that involves you acknowledging the strides that you made toward your goals will help you to better appreciate where you are.

You might not be absolutely happy with what you achieved or did in 2009, but when you really stop and look at where you've been and where you are right now, there are bound to be some healthy and pleasing aspects about you and the choices that you've made.

By all means, make that list of what you aspire to do differently and what you want to manifest in the coming year and beyond.

But be sure to also include on that list what you intend to keep on doing, what you can appreciate about your current habits.

Build on all of those beneficial practices that you might not be noticing-- or giving yourself credit for. If you can't think of anything to include on a list like this, look harder.

Use your list of acknowledgments and self-appreciations as a sort of launch pad to propel yourself toward the future of your dreams. You might just be closer than you think

Monday, December 21, 2009

Let Your Light Shine

By Amy Phillips-Gary

It's all about the light.

I love December. We live in a world where there is plenty of conflict and outright war due, in large part, to people believing that their religious beliefs are the only valid path.

But, if you really look at these so-called divisions and conflicts, we really aren't that far apart after all. The many December holidays underscore my point.

I'm not a theological scholar; but, it's undeniable that, as diverse as the major religions are, there are also symbols, messages and themes that interconnect them all.

Interwoven throughout many religious stories at this cusp of Winter is the imagery of light.

We are being called to open up to the light within us and let it shine as we celebrate the specific holidays and perform the rituals of our choosing.

To me, shining inner light isn't about trying to make others believe exactly the way that I do (or that you do).

Instead, it is a radiating of the love, sense of peace and compassion that might (or might not) be a reflection of those same qualities found in a wise teacher or even God, Goddess, Spirit, or Higher Power whom might have another name according to your beliefs.

Winter Solstice or Yule
Of course, the importance of light can be traced to more scientific-historical roots. As the daylight grew shorter in the Northern hemisphere, sources theorize that early Europeans may have been fearful. The importance of the light and the sun was probably understood. For this reason, rituals were performed in an effort to ensure the return of the sun and the light.

The Winter Solstice, also known as Yule, is the birth of a new solar year. From the day after the Winter Solstice in December up until the Summer Solstice in June, the daylight hours will steadily continue to increase.

From this darkest day-- the Winter Solstice-- we find the birth of a “new sun” and, therefore, a renewed light. This notion of light can easily be felt and understood from a spiritual and personal growth perspective as well.

Today many people all over the world celebrate the Earth and its turning wheel of auspicious days, including the Winter Solstice around December 20-22. Many derivatives of ancient rituals are continued.

In past years, for example, my family and I have joined with friends for wonderful Winter Solstice bonfires.

It is well-documented that the December 25th Christmas holiday was originally begun as an effort to convert pagan Romans to Christianity around the 4th Century of the Current Era.

The birth of Jesus, which Christmas celebrates, was actually not on December 25th and may have occurred in March, November or September instead.

Aside from these historical assertions, however, I still find many aspects of Christmas to be uplifting and worth commemorating.

In the New Testament of the Bible, Jesus' birth is spoken about as a light coming into the darkness of the world. There was, of course, also the fabled light from the Star of Bethlehem that led shepherds and wise men to bring gifts and witness the arrival of this “prince of peace.”

Although my spiritual beliefs are more eclectic now, I remember attending Christmas Eve church services each year growing up. There was a palpable sacred sense of connection and inspiration as we all stood with lit candles in the darkened church singing “Silent Night.”

My family and I still share those songs and the story of Christmas together.

Pancha Ganapati
When my youngest son was around 4 years old, he discovered the Hindu god Ganesh. I do not remember exactly how he was introduced to this half-elephant, half-boy god who is known for removing obstacles as well as dancing and merriment, but my son developed a great affinity for Ganesh.

In honor of this affinity, I did some research and found the holiday Pancha Ganapati that modern Hindus living in the West created to honor Ganesh.

From December 21-25 daily rituals are performed around an altar for Ganesh. Different colored cloths are placed on the altar and sweet offerings are left for his enjoyment. The family gathers by the altar to Ganesh and meditates together each evening.

Pancha Ganapati, as you might expect, ties in wonderfully with the theme of light. Just as light starts from a source and radiates out to others, so too do the meditative intentions of this Hindu holiday.

On the first day of Pancha Ganapati, each person meditates on resolving conflict and cultivating harmony, peace and love within him or herself and then between family members. The second day is an expansion of that energy of harmony, peace and love out to friends and extended family.

The vibration of light, love and peace is then extended to the community and those with whom we do business on the middle two days. Then, on the final day of Pancha Ganapati, all of that wonderful love and harmony are sent out to the entire world and all of its inhabitants.

No matter what religion or spirituality you follow, you can tap into the inspiration and imagery of light that pervades throughout various beliefs this time of year.

Feel into yourself and cultivate that light, love and sense of peace that is you and is also greater than you and let it shine forth.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Ghosts of Christmases Past

By Amy Phillips-Gary

I tend to get really stressed out around the holidays. And I often can't figure out exactly why.

Yes, I have extra shopping to do, baking, wrapping and traveling added to my already busy schedule. But still, my levels of tightness and tension don't seem to match even those added activities and responsibilities.

Earlier this week, as I laid in a restorative yoga pose designed to open up my chest, I finally understood.

The ghosts of my Christmases past were rattling chains-- and me.

As much as I so want to feel merry and bright all of the time during the holiday season, memories of particular aspects of my past Christmases re-emerge on the outskirts of my awareness and seem to really mess things up!

As I've written in previous blogs, I experienced very blessed holidays growing up filled with plenty of presents, tasty treats and lots of love and attention. What I also experienced during a particular time in my formative years was sexual abuse.

For decades now, I've been healing, learning and growing in terms of the abuse that happened. I no longer live with frequent flashbacks and other unpleasant side effects from the past trauma.

For this I am grateful.

But what I realized while in that wonderfully opening restorative yoga pose was that these ghosts of my past are intensifying my stress-- they are even a primary contributor to it. My habit of ignoring these ghosts or shoving them down is what heavily contributes to my overall sense of overwhelm and my seeming inability to fully enjoy my family, friends and celebrations during the holiday season.

Just as Ebenezer Scrooge's ghosts torment and won't leave him alone, so too do my ghosts...until I finally open up and let them in, acknowledge all of the ways that I'm feeling and offer myself extra care.

Allow space for both the sad and the glad.

You might not have had the same kind of experiences that I have had in the past. Your ghosts might be recollections of parents arguing and storming out of the house, alcohol or drug abuse around you, not having many (or any) gifts, parties and fun or other challenges.

Your ghosts might not be from your childhood. It could be that an unpleasant or unhealthy current situation rattles its chains loudly and jarringly.

What is common for quite a few of us is that we want to join in with the revelry and the potential joyousness of the holidays and we try really really hard to do so. But it just doesn't work when we also feel upset, depressed or off-kilter somehow.

I suggest that we all grant ourselves permission to feel what we're feeling-- every bit of it.

You can still attend parties and visit with loved ones. You can sing carols, light candles and exchange presents.

At the same time, you can allow time in your schedule to let in your ghosts. Just as Ebenezer Scrooge discovered, there were valuable and freeing lessons available to him when he followed his ghosts.

Yes, the ghosts were scary. Yes, the images weren't necessarily comfortable or pleasant to experience and re-experience.

But as Scrooge let them in-- the ghosts and the lessons-- he was finally able to tap into more generosity, expansiveness and elation than he'd probably ever imagined possible for himself.

This is what I'm doing for myself this holiday season that's different from recent years. I am opening up and creating space for my ghosts of Christmases past, when they decide to re-emerge.

I am allowing all of my feelings and memories-- even the ones that aren't happy. I know that as I stop resisting what's uncomfortable and I begin to open up to it all, the ghosts can more easily move through me rather than become stuck and grow even bigger than they were.

I already feel lighter, freer and better able to enjoy these moments of merriment and celebration. I wish the same for each and everyone of you.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Relax, Renew and Restore this Holiday Season

By Amy Phillips-Gary

One of my favorite personal holiday traditions is to take a restorative yoga class.

If you haven't heard of restorative yoga, let me clarify. This doesn't feel like much of a class where one must study, concentrate or work hard.

Instead, it is an experience that is truly a treat. It is also one way that I relax, renew and restore my body, mind and soul during the often hectic holiday season.

During a restorative yoga class, props such as bolsters and blankets are used to support the body as fully as possible. Practitioners lay in particular poses on the floor, recline over a bolster with their feet up a wall, or even drape themselves over the seat of a folding chair.

This might sound awkward or difficult, but with the assistance of props and skilled instructors, my body feels gently stretched and almost instantly better able to relax. I always leave a restorative yoga session feeling simply blissed out!

A yoga studio in my city, Yoga on High, offers restorative yoga classes throughout the year. My husband and I create the time to enroll in one during December as a holiday present to ourselves...and to those around us because we always feel so ease-ful afterwards!

Stress mounts within just about all of us this time of year. As holly jolly as we might want to feel, grumpiness can develop and our shoulders tighten right along with it.

You probably already know the detrimental effects of stress on your body, mind and relationships. Stress can contribute to strain and conflict between you and those you love. It can also make you physically sick.

For this reason, I encourage everyone to make relaxing and renewing a priority-- right up there with getting your holiday cards in the mail.

If the idea of restorative yoga doesn't appeal to you, open up to other ways to relax.

I posted a list of what I call “wellness intentions” on a cork board by my bed so that every day I am reminded of my priority to incorporate relaxation into my life. Included on this list are: meditating daily and doing yoga and cardiovascular exercise several times each week.

Your wellness intentions might be very different than mine.

For example, you might not practice meditation, but you can choose to put your lists away, turn off your phone, tv and computer for even 5-10 minutes and just breathe. It's amazing how just breathing can help to loosen tension and open you up to relaxation and renewal.

Believe it or not, paying attention to what you eat and drink is another way to restore yourself.

Of course, just about all of us indulge in foods and drink we might not normally partake (or consume as much of) at holiday parties. I suggest that you join in with these celebrations and savor those food and drink treats as you desire.

But be sure that you are also treating yourself to plenty of water and whole foods the rest of the time. You might include green foods such as spirulina or wheatgrass in a smoothie to boost your immune system and enrich your body.

Give yourself the gift of relaxation this year for the holidays. Make a commitment to yourself to develop your own wellness intentions that can help your body, mind and spirit stay renewed and restored.

*For more information about Restorative Yoga, you can visit these sites:

Restorative Yoga for Body and Mind-- General Information

Videos About Restorative Yoga

Directory of Restorative Yoga Instructors

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Art of Giving

By Amy Phillips-Gary

The letters from wonderful organizations that benefit communities across the globe, homeless people and animals in my city and the environment stuff my mailbox lately. Invitations to volunteer my time or donate money are abundant.

In addition to this is the list of gifts I'm in the process of purchasing for family members. Trips to various stores and online shopping are part of my already busy day.

There is no doubt about why December is often called the “Season of Giving.”

I think that giving is a wonderful act. It can be a beautiful way to reach out and connect with another being. The exchange that happens when a gift (in material or non-material form) is given from the heart and received with openness and gratitude is one of the most powerful moments a person can experience.

But, as you might already know, giving can also feel like a drain. The prospect of giving can dredge up old feelings and beliefs that might link to a lack mindset or other issues.

A ton of “shoulds,” worries, guilt and competitiveness can easily attach to the act of giving...and strip away that powerful sharing and exchange that's possible.

I remember well the first time I gave my husband H (short for Henry) a gift just about 17 years ago. We'd only been dating for a month or so and he'd been across the country for about half that time. But it was clear to me that he and our burgeoning relationship felt right; and so, when his birthday arrived, I decided to give him a gift.

After arriving back to my apartment from picking him up at the airport, I presented H with wrapped up wind chimes that I'd found at a little shop.

Well, let me clarify that... I just about threw the gift onto his lap and then fled the room!

I absolutely wanted to give this special guy in my life a gift and to honor his birthday. But I pretty much obliterated the potential for connection and celebration in that moment by not staying present for the exchange.

While you may never have thrown your gift at the recipient and ran from the room, you may not often practice the kind of giving that will encourage the sharing and experience you'd like.

Give mindfully.
It doesn't matter whether you surprise those for whom you are buying or doing or you receive a list of what they'd like, you can still be mindful about your giving.

Tune in to the person who will be receiving your gift and pull up in your mind what you appreciate about him or her. This awareness can guide you.

If this is someone who you feel obligated to give to, this might prove challenging. You could ask yourself if you are really willing to give at this time. If your answer is “no,” perhaps the consequences will be uncomfortable, but your sense of integrity will remain intact.

If your answer is “yes,” return to your image of this person and find one thing that you can appreciate about him or her. From those feelings of appreciation, proceed with the giving.

This can make a huge difference!

Remember, you always get to choose what, how much and whether you will give at all in a particular situation. Stay open to the multitude of possibilities that are available to you.

Give freely.
From this attitude of openness and mindfulness, you can give freely. This means no strings attached.

This can also be a challenge.

I know that, from time to time, I am one who falls into the trap of “keeping score.” I give to another person and, even though I don't like to admit it, a part of me notices whether I receive a comparable gift from the one to whom I gave.

I am usually able to quell this urge to compare and compete, but it is present.

If you also have a tendency to give with “strings” or with expectations of a return of some sort, be aware of it. These thoughts will stand in the way of your giving experience.

After realizing that you are “keeping score,” breathe and be gentle with yourself. This habit will only grow if you use it as an excuse to criticize yourself.

Instead, shift your focus back to your intention. Is it your intention to give the gift in order to enrich this other person's life? Were you wanting to honor this person or symbolically demonstrate that you care about him or her through your action or present?

Continue to return to your primary intent, whatever that might be. Chances are, it relates to sharing a connection.

Give joyfully.
Gift-giving is potentially a joyful, exuberant and celebratory act-- if you let it.

Allow yourself to join in with the anticipation that the other person might be feeling wondering what is wrapped up in this brightly-colored package. Feel the sense of hope and support that people in a faraway country might be experiencing as they benefit from the medical supplies, trees or other aids that your donation helped provide.

Dive in with joy to the act of giving

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Art of Receiving

By Amy Phillips-Gary

Are you uncomfortable or even resistant to receiving?

During this time of year in which gifts are often exchanged, are you most focused in on the giving?

It's quite likely that you are. When I think about giving and receiving, giving comes out as somehow more important in my mind.

We tend to live in a culture skewed against receiving.

“It's better to give than to receive.” was probably taught to most of us growing up in our families, churches or schools. The stigma of those enrolled in low-income public assistance programs is still present today-- what about those proverbial bootstraps we're all supposed to pull ourselves up by?

Even when it comes to favors, there's a common discomfort when someone has done something helpful or nice for you and you haven't had a chance to reciprocate, or the person won't seem to allow it.

It's quite apparent that not only have the majority of us learned that it is more virtuous and noble to give than it is to receive, there can be a touch of superiority attached to the act of giving.

Don't get me wrong here. Giving is a potentially wonderful act. It is vital to our world and is admirable when freely and mindfully practiced.

My point is that if you close yourself to receiving, you're missing out...and I don't just mean on all of those presents and favors either.

When you resist the receiving part of the giving-receiving exchange, you block the flow of life. You also short-circuit a potential connection with another person or group of people when you close down to receiving.

In addition to cultural reasons is the unfortunate fact that deep down, many of us feel unworthy of what's being offered. This might be experienced as an urgency to prove ourselves or maybe a sense of shame about who we are.

So here we tend to be, caught among wanting to feel noble and appropriate by mostly giving, battling with our perception of unworthiness and-- at the same time-- wanting improvements in our lives.

We can't figure out why the relationships, the financial situation, the career or the overall experience of life we want don't come to us when we're working so hard and giving so much.

Here's probably's because we aren't allowing ourselves to receive it.

Consciously shift into a receiving state.
If you can identify these tendencies within yourself and you'd like to more fully open to the flow of life, set an intention to do so and then follow through.

Become aware of the thoughts, beliefs and habits that you tend to use as barricades to receiving. What do they look and sound like? When do they tend to surface most intensely?

Use this information to begin to interrupt yourself when you start to shrink back from a desirable offer of help from a friend or even a compliment. During each opportunity to receive, invite yourself to open up a little bit more than you usually do to what is being given.

You can practice this several times a day.

When a family member gives you a hug, consciously relax and open yourself up more fully to the love and physical contact that's being offered. If a neighbor wants to carry your groceries to your home, give yourself permission to say yes if you choose it.

Bring your attention and awareness into this present moment and be a full participant in the sharing that's happening right now. Whether you're opening a gift, sharing a kiss, listening to another person's words or allowing a helpful gesture, engage as you receive.

As you shift into a receiving state, you can still decide to say no or decline a gift. It's up to you to decide which offerings, words or gifts are in alignment with what you truly want.

I encourage you, however, to make potentially receiving your “default” state and approach to life. The positive effects can be amazing!

Friday, December 4, 2009

“It's the most wonderful time of the year...”???

By Amy Phillips-Gary

Jack works hard so that his family can live comfortably. He works long days at the office and then attends to his wife's “honey do” list when he gets home. To Jack, all of his efforts seem to go unnoticed by his family.

What he wouldn't give for just a little appreciation for all that he does; some morsel of support wouldn't hurt either!

Have you ever felt like Jack in your relationships?

It seems to you that you work and you sacrifice for your family, your partner or even your friendship and nobody gives you thanks for your efforts. In fact, it may even feel as if you're being taken for granted much of the time.

Wanting to feel appreciated and supported are common experiences for people in relationships.

When you don't feel supported or appreciated by those close to you, resentment and anger can quickly develop. As you probably already know, resentment and anger usually lead to tension and disconnection between you and the people you care about.

You might feel stuck.

You really want to feel that sense of support and gratitude from others, but you don't want to make waves. You might even acknowledge that your partner or others in your relationship are also working hard-- it's not just you who is sacrificing.

So now you may feel resentful and guilty at the same time. This is a downward spiral that isn't going to help you build a healthier, closer and more satisfying relationship!

Instead, try these suggestions...

*Treat yourself the way that you want the other person to treat you.

Too many times we rely on the people around us to fill a void within that we are unwilling to fill for ourselves. This might include: not honoring your true desires, saying yes or no in certain situations just because you think you “should” or putting your physical health on hold in order to care for others.

How can you begin to create an environment of greater support for yourself?

Make a list of specific ways that you want to feel supported and appreciated and then start treating yourself accordingly. Of course, you want those close to you to positively add to this supportive environment-- but you can lead the way and be responsible for your own well-being too.

*Be honest and request what you want from the other person.

You can state your request for more support and appreciation in ways that actually bring you closer to the person or people in your relationships.

You might say, “I know that we've both been burning the candle at both ends lately. I'd like us to talk about ways that we can more fully support each other and connect. Here's one way that I'd like to be supported.... How can I better support you?”

*Express your appreciation for the other person.

Quite often, we can become caught up in the unsatisfactory ways that we are being treated and do not realize that we are engaging in the same behaviors. If you want more appreciation, give more appreciation-- both to yourself and to the other person.

In just about every case, what you put out comes back to you multiplied.

*Notice the improvements.

When you feel lack, it can be easy to fall into the trap of only seeing the lack. It could be that your partner does show you appreciation, for example, but you can't see it because you are focusing only on what he or she is doing that seems wrong or neglectful.

Sometimes the appreciation or support comes in “little” acts or words that can easily be overlooked.

Be aware of what the other person is doing that helps you feel supported. You can always thank the person for his or her efforts and then ask for specific changes, if necessary.

*Keep yourself in an open and receiving mode.

Even as we might crave more support and appreciation in our relationships, many of us walk around closed down and, consequently, we limit what we can receive from others.

People close to us may actually be trying to give us what we desperately want, but we can't let it in.

Your kids might see you as infallible and able to do it all, because that's the outward “mask” you usually wear. Maybe they've even offered to help you in the past but, for one reason or another, you sent the message that you will carry the load all by yourself.

Now that you want support or appreciation, it's not there and you can't figure out why.

Be willing to ask for help, support and the thanks that you desire-- and then be willing to receive it.

The sharing that can happen as you communicate what you want and then stay open to receive it can be amazing.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Rev Up Intimacy and Passion in Your Relationship

By Amy Phillips-Gary

“Remember to let her into your heart
Then you can start to make it better”-- The Beatles

In their classic song, “Hey Jude,” The Beatles sang this message so clearly.... If you want more passion and intimacy in your relationships, open up your heart and let others in.

This week I've been writing about how to improve your relationships. When it comes to interacting with others, things can become rather dull and routine. Deepening and enlivening your connection with others is a fabulous way to improve your relationships.

And I'm not just talking about your love relationship or marriage.

There is a potential for close, engaging and alive interactions with every person you encounter...if you want it and if you open up to it.

Ok, there are probably people that you work with, see regularly or are even related to with whom you don't want to be close. For some reason, you might feel uncomfortable with a deep level of intimacy (or any intimacy at all) with these particular people.

That's perfectly fine. This is your decision.

But when you look around at your relationships with your partner, children, extended family and friends and few, if any, of those relationships match up to the level of passion and intimacy that you desire, it's time to look inside.

The walls can come tumbling down...
A big reason why many of us aren't feeling fully alive and engaged with the relationships that we're in is because on some level we have built up walls. Through years of experience, a lot of us have erected symbolic walls to keep other people at a distance.

Keeping others at “arm's length” may have been a sort of survival strategy that made sense and even served you at one point in your life. If you feel dissatisfied and want more now, however, it's time to reconsider that strategy.

Which people in your life are you ready to open up to just a little bit more?

You could set an intention to rev up the intimacy in your love relationship, for example. And this doesn't just mean sex!

When you open up to deeper intimacy, you are allowing this other person to see sides of you that you might have previously kept hidden-- even if you've been together for many many years. There could be more or different physical touching and sharing involved as well.

Stay aware of how you tend to interact with the other person in the relationship upon which you are focusing.

Where do you usually hold back? At what point during conversations and physical interaction (which could include everything from hugs, kisses, pats on the back to lovemaking) do you freeze up and hide behind that wall?

It is at this place of holding back, where you can make a decision to try something new. Give yourself permission to expand beyond your normal level of intimacy even just a little bit. This can happen in steps.

Pay attention to how it feels to deepen intimacy in this new way. How does it feel in your body? What do you notice about how the other person responds?

Remember, an internal wall can take some time to dismantle so be gentle with yourself.

Lust for life...
Another way to rev up intimacy and passion in your relationships is to let yourself fall in love with life. It is frequently the case that a person's relationships seem dull and lifeless because that's the way the person sees his or her life overall.

You can breathe new life into your relationships by consciously becoming more passionate about what you do, who you are and where you are right now. You can also get pumped up about where you are headed.

There are always things that we'd like to change, improve and to be different about ourselves and our lives-- including our relationships. To encourage those positive changes, you could look for those aspects that stir you and cause your heart to sing.

Get passionate about yourself and your life and then allow that excitement and zing to expand. It will undoubtedly help you breach those walls to intimacy within yourself and make it easier for you to move closer to the people in your life.
*Personal Growth Planet blog is taking part in National Blog Posting Month ( Every weekday in November, you'll find daily blogs linked by weekly themes.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

“Magical” Communication Solutions for Difficult Relationship Moments

By Amy Phillips-Gary

This week's blog posts are centered on improving your relationships. Paying attention to how you interact and connect with or disconnect from the people around you is an integral part of your personal growth.

We all fall into habits in our relationships that often correspond with the inner habits we maintain. Some of these habits support the growth and expansion that we want and others are mainly obstacles.

As the holidays approach, your habits that tend to stand in the way of relationship and personal growth can become intensified and even inflated.

Yes, Thanksgiving and the various December holidays such as Hanukkah, Yule and Christmas are times of gratitude, giving, celebration and togetherness.

But we can all probably attest to the fact that these holidays can also be quite stressful. Old wounds that have never been given the chance to heal can become re-inflamed as you see a family member with whom you share a challenging past. In the flurry of shopping and parties, tensions between even the closest friends can rise and hurt feelings can be triggered.

The manner in which we communicate is often a barometer for how stressed out and tense we feel.

We might find ourselves saying something hurtful or harsh to a person we care deeply about. We may lash out verbally at a mate, child, co-worker or friend who has very little or nothing at all to do with why we feel strung out or angry.

This is unfortunate and it is also something that just about every one of us does from time to time. Becoming aware of how you are feeling and actually listening to your inner needs for relaxation and release can help prevent these uncomfortable and even regrettable moments.

The great news is, the ways that we communicate-- even about difficult topics-- can be the means by which connection and closeness and personal growth happen.

Taking care of your feelings and needs rather than shoving them aside is a wonderful first step to improving communication with others.

A second step is setting an intention (and then remembering it) to communicate to connect. Too many times, the underlying aim of communication becomes to prove a point or to be “right.”

One person becomes attached to how “right” his or her perspective seems and then the conversation becomes all about justifying that position instead of offering up a particular view and then listening to what the other person has to say.

The sharing and connection get lost when “rightness” is the intention.

There are probably times when you truly want to communicate to connect with another person, but you also want to be certain that your voice is heard and acknowledged. You can absolutely do both!

Relationship coaches and authors Susie and Otto Collins have written an e-book titled: Magic Relationship Words which includes 101 words and phrases that are designed to encourage connection, honesty and openness in your communication.

Here are a couple of “magic” words from their e-book that you might try in your relationships:

* “Please tell me more...”
How many times have you made up a big story in your head about something another person said to you that seemed vague and confusing? Perhaps your story about what you think was meant left you feeling upset, fearful or angry-- and you don't even know if your understanding is accurate!

When you realize that you are starting to fill in blanks and make up stories about what another person said, stop yourself and go to the person. Ask him or her to “Please tell me more...” about the statement.

This request for more information can potentially save you both from inner turmoil and relationship conflict.

* “I feel...”
“I feel” statements have been around for a long time. They are so potentially powerful in relationship communication that I think they bear repeating again.

For example, you can tell your partner that his or her flirting is “making me insecure or worried that an affair is going on.” Chances are, this statement will trigger defensiveness in your mate which can shut down communication quite quickly.

Instead, you might say something like: “I feel insecure and worried that you may be having an affair when I see you flirt.” It is a subtle change. Your partner will probably not be overjoyed to have this conversation with you, but the emphasis is different.

With these “magic” words, you are taking ownership for how you are feeling AND you are bringing attention to a situation that is troubling you. A greater sense of openness is introduced into an otherwise disconnecting context.

From this point, you can listen to what your partner has to say, possibly ask questions for deeper understanding and then possibly create some agreements.

Connecting communication in relationships may not occur as instantaneous as any of us would like.

Yes, it does take both inner listening and also a willingness to practice engaged listening with the other person. But the effects of working through a challenge or conflict with a sense of integrity, cooperation and closeness can truly feel magical.

*Personal Growth Planet blog is taking part in National Blog Posting Month ( Every weekday in November, you'll find daily blogs linked by weekly themes.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Improve Your Relationships...and Watch Your Personal Growth Soar

By Amy Phillips-Gary

This is a blog about personal growth, right? So why am I writing about relationships this week?

It's because-- as you possibly already know-- relationships play an integral role in your personal growth.

The relationships we have with our partner, children, parents, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and others can be the means by which we continue to bang up against the same wall and stay stuck in the muck of limiting habits OR they can promote our learning and expansion on personal as well as relational levels.

Perhaps you have struggled with insecurity for as long as you can remember.

If so, your uncertain and probably overly-critical view of yourself undoubtedly shows up in various ways in your relationships. Maybe you are frequently jealous around your partner. You possibly feel stuck in a job with little or no respect and a low paycheck to match. You might feel bullied by a difficult neighbor.

If you take a bird's eye view of your entire life, you can trace lines of connection between you-- your biggest challenges-- and the people with whom you spend your time.

Because there is such a strong link between your personal growth (including the apparent obstacles to it) and your relationships with others, tune in. When stress and tensions mount, take a deep breath and open up to what you can learn from this relationship in this moment.

Here are some possible types of lessons...

The lesson of reflection

No, I do not mean that when your child throws a fit at the shopping mall, his or her behavior is a reflection of the “bad” parent you are!

What I do mean is that every person in your experience can be seen as a mirror of some aspect of you. Maybe your fit-throwing child is a mirror of the overwhelmed way that you also feel, for example.

When someone in your life is pushing your buttons, pause and ask yourself if what he or she is saying or doing is actually a mirror for tendencies that you also have. This is not the most comfortable inner exploring to do.

The benefit is, you can usually get to the root of your irritation more quickly as you see that you are most upset with yourself for feeling, saying or doing something that you label inappropriate in some way.

From that point, you can choose to ease up on both yourself and the other person as you decide how you might change from within. In just about every case, the situation with the other person rapidly improves and then you can make necessary requests of him or her.

The lesson of contrast

When we bump up against resistance with the people in our lives, it can truly be a blessing. No matter how “wrong” you think another person is, your personal growth can expand if you can acknowledge this as a lesson of contrast.

We are all unique beings. This is one of the delicious-- and sometimes the most frustrating-- aspects of living on this wonderful planet.

You can recognize that the choices another person is making do not resonate for you and then use that recognition to further clarify what you do want. You don't have to agree with this person and, in the majority of cases, you can shift your attention back to you and to the choices you want to make for yourself.

The lesson of letting go

This brings us to letting go. Even if you are in a contentious place with your child or your partner, you can learn to let go and allow.

Perhaps you and your teenager simply don't see eye to eye about a particular topic-- or many topics, for instance. Letting go doesn't mean that you don't set boundaries or make agreements about what is acceptable behavior in your home.

What it does mean is that you honor the person you are in a relationship with-- even if the person is a child or teen. You listen to him or her and you speak with integrity and then you stay open to resolutions that allow you both to proceed with dignity and in accordance with who you each are.

We always enter into relationships with others so that we can learn and grow-- though sometimes we don't realize that intention. Through our interactions with these other people, we can begin to live and love more fully...especially if we're willing to learn.

In the next few days, I'll be sharing ideas for how you can improve your relationships when it comes to communication, intimacy, appreciation and mutual support.


*Personal Growth Planet blog is taking part in National Blog Posting Month ( Every weekday in November, you'll find daily blogs linked by weekly themes.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Find Your Edge and Upgrade You

By Amy Phillips-Gary

All week long I've been writing about upgrading your life and yourself in various ways. Upgrading your home, physical fitness and diet were specific areas covered. As I finish up this weekly theme, I want to include an important side note...

Nothing is wrong with you or your life!

Often, talk about making an improvement is accompanied by an implied (or overtly stated) assumption that the aspect of you or your life that is intended for change is somehow deficient or even bad.

Yes, there are certainly habits and tendencies that do not support you and the way you want to live. But when you attempt to motivate yourself from a negative approach or assumption, any improvement experienced usually doesn't last-- or it is tinged with fear or self-castigation.

This is no upgrade.

A truly sustaining and expansive upgrade stems from the reminder that you are perfect as you are...imperfections and all. You can affirm to yourself that you are inherently good and capable AND that you'd like to create an even better life and a more enhanced you.

From this place of essentially coming to peace with where you are and being clear about where you want to go, you can make that upgrade and even feel happy and fulfilled along the way.

Find your edge.

We've all got an edge. This is the symbolic boundary beyond which we are uncomfortable or perhaps we even blatantly refuse to go. It is the invisible-- yet seemingly iron-clad-- line that keeps us stuck where we are.

I encourage you to find your inner edge and then explore beyond it.

You may be accustomed to biting back what you really want to say to a close family member, for example. Perhaps you just want to keep the peace and over the years you've become really adept at doing this. The trouble is, sometimes your self-induced silence means that you feel hurt or disrespected.

Maybe speaking out and potentially “making waves” is a really scary prospect for you. In your mind, who knows what would happen: “Will this person I care about leave me?” “What if he or she hurts me even more if I talk about how I truly feel?” “It's just not safe to speak up!”

This is an edge.

When you are alone, think about a time when you met up with your edge. Clues could include: a contraction in your stomach, stiffening shoulders and back, headaches that seem to come on suddenly or a tendency to leave the moment by becoming distracted or unfocused.

As you meet up with your edge, get curious about the situation that was (or still is) going on. Was a particular person involved? Was a certain setting or specific words said? Gather this information and try to identify what the most loaded trigger is for you.

Ask yourself how you might replay the situation if you had no edge.

Explore in your mind what might happen, for instance, if you were honest with this family member about how you feel when he or she says those words to you. Include as unbiased a list of possible options as you can formulate. How does it feel in your body to finally speak up?

Communicating with integrity and openness does not necessarily mean that you are combative or that you will instigate an argument, by the way. There are many ways to talk about how you are feeling and what you want that can actually promote connection.

The point to this exercise is to gently move yourself past your edge-- whatever that might be.

In the safety of your inner self, demonstrate that you do have the choice to step past that self-created boundary and then try a new way of communicating, acting and being.

This is an upgrade upon which you can build and grow and flourish.

*Personal Growth Planet blog is taking part in National Blog Posting Month ( Every weekday in November, you'll find daily blogs linked by weekly themes.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Upgrade You: Diet and Fitness Self-Improvement Tips

By Amy Phillips-Gary

Losing weight and exercising more are two resolutions that just about everybody includes on his or her list of self improvements to make.

And just about everyone (with exceptions of course) somewhere along the line falls short of those goals. Those aspirations usually get swept aside and forgotten-- or used as a rationale for self-criticism and beating up on one's self.

If you'd like to upgrade yourself by making improvements in the ways you eat and/or your physical fitness, setting yourself up to succeed is a vital first step.

Too many of us dive right in to a new diet or exercise regimen with high hopes and, for whatever reason, we plateau, get bored or distracted or don't follow through completely. It can seem like we are failures at this. And for this reason, many of us give up trying.

Upgrade in a sustainable way...
Before you start to count calories or head off for your first run in years, I encourage you to get clear about the upgrade you want. From as observational a perspective as you can muster, look at where you are. What are your habits when it comes to eating and exercise? What do you consider your strengths and where are your weaknesses?

In a diet book I'm reading, The Thin Commandments: The Ten No-Fail Strategies for Permanent Weight Loss, author Stephen Gullo advises those who'd like to lose weight to know your food history.

He offers examples of clients he's worked with who, for example, have troublesome histories with cookies, but are not as tempted to binge when it comes to pudding. When a particular client keeps his or her history in mind, that person can actually eat dessert in moderation and continue to shed pounds.

Get to know what your history is with particular foods and then come up with strategies about how you can stay on your path of becoming thinner and do so in sustainable ways.

Think in terms of continually making life choices that are in alignment with the upgrade you desire, instead of short-term and possibly more extreme diets during which you might feel deprived and even starved.

Stay tuned in to your feelings. If you feel overwhelmed or intense emotions when you consider a particular upgrade, take the time to explore those emotions. What possible past events or old beliefs are those feelings tied to? Get curious and discover what you need to resolve as you move forward with these changes.

You can apply the notion of sustainability to your fitness improvements too.

If you tend to get bored on the exercise equipment at the gym, recognize that and come up with different fitness strategies. There countless ways to move your body-- experiment until you find a repertoire that is actually enjoyable.

Upgrade in a process-oriented way...
It's common to set goals for yourself when attempting to improve your fitness and diet. There's nothing wrong with goals, except that sometimes we become so hyper-focused on the outcome and “end goal,” we might miss or belittle our smaller achievements along the way.

I think that it's great to set an intention to lose 25 lbs, 50 lbs or more or less. It's equally wonderful to strive to lift a particular weight, run a certain number of miles and so on. Even so-called "failures" along the way can be viewed as opportunities for learning, clarification and choice.

As I said, goals can be great motivators-- when placed in a particular perspective.

Consider offering most of your attention to how you feel about yourself and your eating and exercise habits from moment-to-moment. Set your longer-term goal and then put it to the side symbolically. It's still there, but the majority of your focus is on the here and now.

Allow yourself a cheer when you find that your pants button easier than they used to, even if you aren't at that goal weight yet. Pat yourself on the back for getting outside for a brisk walk in the chilly rain, even if you aren't running the miles you want to yet.

It is this sense of presence and process that allows your upgrade to sustain and feel great. This practice will support your ability to continue to make improvements in all areas of your life.
*Personal Growth Planet blog is taking part in National Blog Posting Month ( Every weekday in November, you'll find daily blogs linked by weekly themes.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Upgrade Your Home and Office

By Amy Phillips-Gary

This is Upgrade Yourself and Your Life week on the Personal Growth Planet blog!

Yesterday I shared some basic information about the Law of Attraction and how you can use it to begin manifesting the upgrades you want. Today, I'm going to focus in on a specific area for potential upgrade-- your home, office and other living spaces.

You might spend a lot of your time caring for, maintaining and improving your home. The employees at stores that sell pillows, curtains, paint, tile, rugs may even know you by name. HGTV might happen to be your favorite channel on television.

Or it could be that you spend only a minimal amount of time on your home or office space. For you, keeping your living spaces relatively clean and picked up may be the best you can do in the midst of a busy schedule. Devoting much attention to the way your home looks may not even interest you.

I'm not suggesting that we all need to become Martha Stewart-esque. But I do believe that creating a space that reflects and enhances the kind of upgraded life you want is important. This isn't merely about looks-- it is about energy and feeling.

You will probably find that with clear and particular environments in specific areas of your home or office, you can actually become more productive, efficient, relaxed, passionate, stimulated, calm and even financially abundant.

Yes, I am talking about feng shui.

You may have heard about this ancient Chinese practice and system that is based on the assumption that specific changes made to living spaces can promote or suppress particular aspects of the lives of the people who inhabit them.

If you aren't familiar with feng shui, this might sound outlandish and “out there.” But let's face it, if your home is wall-to-wall clutter, you most likely feel cluttered on the inside as well.

On the other hand, have you ever entered a room or someone's house and you instantly felt relaxed and at ease? There was probably something about the energy in that space that triggered feelings of pleasant calm within you.

On a general level, this is what feng shui is about. Your ch'i-- or life force-- is influenced by your environment. And when your ch'i is flowing freely and easily, your health, bank account, relationships and overall sense of peace and happiness will be positively affected.

There are many factors to consider such as: special compass directions of the rooms and furniture in your space; when you were born; and the proximity and combination of the elements wood, water, earth, fire and metal.

To learn more about creating balanced ch'i in your home or office, you can consult books, dvds and online sites. You can even hire a feng shui professional to assess your living space and offer suggestions.

Here are some general feng shui tips to get you started in the meantime....

*Look at the approach to the front door of your home or office. Does a busy street lead directly to it? Are there trees or bushes positioned in such a way that they “threaten” the entrance to your home?

If the approach to your space or the view is too direct and abrupt or too obscured and blocked, ch'i can be negatively affected. Find ways to encourage a gentle yet clear energy coming up to your front door or front windows. For example, a curved path is a wonderful aspect.

*Pay attention to the flow. Are there odd or awkward corners in your home or office? These could be places where the ch'i energy stagnates and becomes trapped. Stagnation areas occur in many spaces-- this is often a result of the architectural design but can also be due to the arrangement of furniture.

If you can move furniture around in your space so that the energy flow is more opened up, you can free up ch'i and also better support specific areas of your life. Feng shui practitioners usually strongly advise people to get rid of the clutter to encourage unobstructed ch'i.

If you face architectural obstacles to your ch'i, you can use wind chimes, mirrors or bamboo flutes to turn these trouble areas around.

*Get out your compass. The Pa Kua (also known as the Ba Gua) is an 8-sided form that is used as a guide for encouraging specific improvements by enhancing the flow of ch'i. Find a compass or get a good idea of the directions of key rooms in your home and concentrate your de-cluttering and other feng shui efforts in those rooms or directions.

They correspond in the following ways:

North: Career Prospects

Northeast: Education

East: Family, Relationships and Health

Southeast: Wealth and Prosperity

South: Fame and Recognition

Southwest: Marriage Prospects and Marital Happiness

West: Children

Northwest: Mentors

Feng shui is a very powerful practice and even simple changes that involve little or no money can bring about significant improvements in your life. Have fun with this and let your ch'i freely flow!

*Personal Growth Planet blog is taking part in National Blog Posting Month ( Every weekday in November, you'll find daily blogs linked by weekly themes.

Upgrade Your Outlook

By Amy Phillips-Gary

Yesterday I kicked off “Upgrade” week by encouraging you to consider improving and expanding yourself and your life in some way.

Perhaps, as you tuned in and had that “conversation” with your future self, you realized that you'd like to upgrade your financial situation, for example. Or it could be that you decided it's time to enhance your relationship with your partner.

Now that you have chosen an area of your life upon which you'd like to focus at the moment, you might wonder how to achieve these desired improvements. Stepping out from the usual way of doing and experiencing things is certainly new territory for us all.

Upgrading your outlook can help. The way we each perceive what's possible-- or impossible-- and the power we think we have-- or don't have-- can make a huge difference. You can achieve goals when you doubt your ability to do so, but it's usually a long and arduous process, if it happens at all.

However, when you can generate within yourself a clarity about what you want and you fuel it with a hope and belief that you can be, do or have it, the upgrade can seem almost effortless.

Knowing about and practicing the Law of Attraction can help ease and bolster your upgrade intentions.

You might be familiar with the film“The Secret” that came out a few years ago. There are plenty of people online, in other films and at live events who go into greater detail about the Law of Attraction. This is meant to give you a taste of this potentially new outlook that can assist you in making-- attracting-- improvements.

At the heart of the Law of Attraction is the assertion that we live in an attraction-based universe. We walk around as magnets, drawing to us the people, conditions and experiences that line up with what we spend the bulk of our time focusing upon. Sometimes we are aware of what we're concentrating attention on and sometimes we're not and so we feel surprised by what manifests in our lives.

According to Law of Attraction teacher Abraham, there are 3 main steps to the Attraction process:

1.) Ask
This seems simple but... many times we ask for things that we actually do not want. A classic example is to ask to get out of debt. The focus with this request is still on the debt and not on something more affirmative such as: "being able to easily pay my bills and have more than enough money."

Watch what you are asking for and keep in mind that you are attracting what you place your attention upon.

Another dimension to this asking step is contrast. Many times we “ask” for improvements as we live the opposite. If you feel disrespected in a relationship, there is undoubtedly a part of you that is now clearer than before about wanting to be respected.

You can think about it as a silver lining of sorts to the challenges you are experiencing. But, again, it's important that you continue to shift your focus toward what you want. Notice that you feel disrespected and then move your attention toward what you do want.

2.) Answer
This is the easy one. There's really nothing for you to do at this step. According to the Law of Attraction, what you are asking for will always be provided to you. You don't have to figure out how this will happen, it just will.

3.) Allow
Jump back in because this step is the follow through that's all up to you. After you've asked for what you want in an affirmative way, now you can release resistance and allow it to come to you.

I know, this one can be a real challenge! Letting go and staying open to the opportunities that will line you up with what you want is often easier said than done. But this is exactly what step 3 of this process requires.

I think we've all been in situations in which we firmly keep the door to new experiences and improvements to our lives closed and locked.

Whether it's embarking on a career move that seems scary, making it a priority to regularly exercise, communicating differently in a relationship or something else, opportunities for upgrades are literally always there for us-- we get to choose whether or not to allow them.

When it comes down to it, this whole notion of upgrading yourself and your life and the Law of Attraction isn't really so much about being richer, healthier or having a more passionate love life.

These things can all come to each of us in the process; but this is really about you altering your outlook so that you can feel happier, more fulfilled and maybe even downright blissful about your life as it unfolds.

Personal Growth Planet blog is tasking part in National Blog Posting Month ( Every weekday in November, you'll find daily blogs linked by weekly themes.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Give Yourself an Upgrade

By Amy Phillips-Gary

How long has it been since you've given yourself an upgrade?

In these times and conditions dominated by downsizing and scaling back, it may have been quite some time since you've upgraded yourself or your life.

A national food chain recently ran an advertisement on tv that showed co-workers riding an elevator up to their offices in the morning. One woman held in her hands a breakfast sandwich and coffee while speaking with a colleague with a very very tiny and disproportionately small waist because he's been “tightening his belt.”

The problem with the constant belt-tightening and scaling back that many of us are doing is that it often results in an overall feeling of constriction. Not only are you limiting the amount of money you spend, you could also box yourself into a very tense and tight place largely because of the fear and expectations of lack and scarcity that can accompany a downsizing mindset.

Let me be clear here...

As I encourage you to upgrade yourself and your life, I'm not advocating that you max out your credit cards or bombard yourself with material objects.

The kind of upgrade that I'm recommending starts on the inside with a shift in attitude, perception and expectation and it almost always extends to your outside body, career, health, finances, relationships and life.

When you upgrade your computer or laptop, sometimes you go out and purchase a brand new model that is shinier and features more options. Upgrades also happen inside the computer. Perhaps a larger RAM is installed in your existing machine. Maybe some new programs are downloaded. Often old files are deleted or placed on a memory stick or some other kind of external storage device.

The effects of a computer upgrade are usually quicker and more efficient operations and/or expanded options and features.

There are so many ways that you can upgrade yourself and your life. If you feel overwhelmed or at a loss when you consider what to upgrade, try this exercise...

Find a quiet and comfortable space where you can be uninterrupted. Place paper and a pen near where you are sitting or reclining. Move your attention to within yourself. Focus mostly on your breathing. If you know how to meditate, you can use meditation techniques to help.

Clear your mind from the busy-ness of your day and slow yourself down. Once you are relaxed and your mind is relatively clear, ask your future self to communicate with you. Just invite your future self into your awareness. This future self is ultimately wiser and more experienced than you are now because she or he has already made it through the current challenges you might face.

Ask your future self to share with you a few of the expansions in yourself and your life 1 year from today. You can write these down on your paper to remember them. Now ask your future self what has changed about you and your life in 5 years and then 10 years.

If feelings of resistance, doubt or fear come up, make note of those, but continue to listen to your future self. This exercise can help you become clearer about the areas of your life that you might begin to upgrade in the near future.

Your encounter with your future self isn't meant to cement your actual future in stone. This is merely a sparking point to put into motion potential and desired change.

Your life is up to you to create and it is always changing. When you allow for an upgrade and then take inspired action, you nourish growth and expansion.

Look at the notes you took during the “conversation” with your future self. Are you particularly drawn to any of the areas listed? If so, choose one area in which you will begin to upgrade. Start to consider what an upgrade to your health, your financial state, your relationships, your physical living and working space or other areas might look like.

From this vision of the upgrade you chose, you can begin to open up to changes in your habits, your responses and your activities that will move you closer to actually living your vision.

Take your time and be gentle with yourself as you make changes. Each time you encounter inner resistance to the upgrade you want, return to your vision and to the eager or hopeful feelings that accompany it.


*The future self exercise was adapted from Co-Active Coaching by Laura Whitworth, Karen Kimsey-House, Henry Kimsey-House and Phillip Sandahl.

*Personal Growth Planet blog is taking part in National Blog Posting Month ( Every weekday in November, you'll find daily blogs linked by weekly themes.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Boost Your Self Esteem: Take a New View of You

By Amy Phillips-Gary

In the final scene of the movie “The Darjeeling Limited,” three brothers who have experienced a quirky and arduous journey together through India run for their train that's already in motion. They carry several pieces of luggage that once belonged to their father. At one point mid-run, each brother throws aside his suitcases and shoulder bags and finally leaps upon that departing train.

Have you ever felt weighted down by your low self esteem?

The limited beliefs and perceptions you have held of your own self worth are like the luggage that the brothers in “The Darjeeling Limited” hefted throughout their adventures in India. Perhaps a part of you is tired of feeling bad or inadequate about yourself.

Isn't it time to throw aside your own “luggage” and free yourself to be the person you have always wanted to be?

The strategies that I've suggested this week-- including stopping your stories and questioning lack mindset-- can help you to release your low self esteem habit. You can create space to take better care of yourself, as I wrote about yesterday.

And within this expanded and freer space, you can also develop a new view of you.

Two keys to improving self esteem are perspective and focus.
When you notice yourself thinking that you can't be, do or have something because of how you are, recognize that your low self esteem beliefs are doing the talking. Next, search for a different perspective of the situation.

Let's say that you hear about an available position at your workplace that would be a step-up from your current one. Perhaps the particular job really appeals to you, but almost as soon as you realize that you'd like to apply for the new job and promotion, a whole host of reasons why you will not ever get that kind of job crowd your mind.

This, of course, is a great time to question your story.

You can also make a conscious decision to adopt a new perspective. Some people find it helpful to literally move and stand in a different place to jar themselves out of the view they've become stuck in.

Make a list of the various ways you could look at this situation.

Write down the way that you currently see your capabilities and your prospects for getting this promotion. Now stretch yourself and write down the way that someone who admires you might see your prospects. How would a person who looked at your resume, training and experience see this? How about a person who knows only your strengths?

If you find yourself solely writing down limitations, return to questioning your story. It might also be helpful to ask a friend or family member to suggest some positive aspects about you that could be different from the perspective you usually take.

Another perspective change you might consider is to ask yourself what would happen if you apply for the promotion and you don't end up getting it. Will you really lose anything by trying? Taking the step to even apply is potentially transformational and it could lead you to eventually attaining that goal.

When you come upon a perspective that feels genuine and bolsters you, take some time to focus in on it. This new perspective might feel foreign and even uncomfortable. But if it still rings true for you on some level, spend time there.

Shift your focus to this different and more self-affirming way of viewing yourself and this situation. You can always return to that hefty “luggage” of low self esteem if that's what you really want. Now, however, you have an expanded range of perspectives to choose from.

You can begin to see the new you more and more of the time.

Personal Growth Planet blog is taking part in National Blog Posting Month ( Every weekday in November, you'll find shorter daily blogs linked by weekly themes.