Wednesday, March 25, 2009

You CAN Live a Limitless Life!

How many times do you inadvertently limit the ones you love with your reactions and comments? How often do you limit yourself with many of the same assumptions and beliefs?

My older son aspires to be a teenaged multi-millionaire computer programmer/game developer. My cheerleader mom-self says: “You go! What ambition!” A different voice inside my head usually says quite the opposite: “That's too big! You're bound to fall short with such a huge goal.” I am hoping that he feels the energy of that cheerleader mom rather than the limits that rattle through my head.

My knee-jerk limited reaction might be expected given what I've known to be true throughout my life. I've never met a multi-millionaire and certainly have never experienced a million dollar salary or lifestyle. There are also certain associations that I tend to make with having a lot of money-- and many of them are negative.

In essence, my judgments of being wealthy as well as the road I perceive one has to take to get to that kind of economic level cloud my ability to simply support the dreams of a person very dear to me. In this way, I am limiting my son.

The limiting I do with my loved ones simply mirrors the limiting I do with my own self. When I really look at my habitual patterns, there are plenty of ceilings I place on my own life-- whether it pertains to my body size or my own ability to reach a level of financial abundance. I essentially lock myself into where I am and short-circuit my desires for expansion and growth in many areas.

As you probably already are almost always your own biggest obstacle.

Let me be clear here....

Limits and boundaries aren't necessarily bad. We set boundaries that can certainly be beneficial. The effects could be detrimental, for example, if a toddler is given no boundaries-- I think about my aspiring multi-millionaire son as a two-year old racing for a busy road.

We can also set boundaries on our own behaviors that might serve our well being. If you have food allergies, making different choices when selecting a snack can help you feel healthier. If you find yourself in an abusive relationship, setting a boundary that you won't allow yourself to be hurt anymore and getting out of the relationship is absolutely beneficial. In situations like these, a boundary can help you thrive.

But those aren't the limits I'm talking about....

So “Why not?”

Begin to pay closer attention to your thoughts and beliefs. If you notice yourself thinking or even saying “I could never do that...” or “He or she couldn't possibly be or have that....” simply pause. Try to better understand where the limiting thoughts come from and observe how you feel.

Begin to ask yourself “Why not?” when a limit springs to your mind or from your mouth. Rather than the usual “no,” consider what it might be like to say “yes” instead.

As my son shares his abundant career vision with me, I can take a closer look at the limits that jump to my mind. I can ask myself “Why not?” This opens up space and a new vantage point from which I can more freely and fully support his steps toward that goal.

Open up to limitless living

Limited thinking begins to release as you say “yes” more of the time. The stuck place you might appear to be in can suddenly seem less solid and unmoving. Your life can actually begin to reflect this newfound limitlessness as you experience greater possibilities.

It doesn't always feel that easy of course. You might quickly dismiss or abandon your desires that seem outrageous and unattainable. So in addition to practicing asking yourself “Why not?” start letting go of the need to have it all figured out. Take it one step at a time. Listen to what you need at this moment and stay aware of openings and opportunities that will keep you pointed in the direction you want to go.

Give yourself permission to live with no limits and have fun stepping into the great expanse of anything is truly possible.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Dig Your Hands in the Dirt...People Play with Earth

How many times do you feel like you have to tackle and wrestle your own life to the ground?

Have you ever felt like the conditions of your life were so out of control or overwhelming that you symbolically tackled and then wrestled them to the ground? This approach to life usually involves tensing up which is certainly understandable, yet almost always not effective at all.

It's as if we believe that the only path to success-- or even a semblance of it-- in this purported dog-eat-dog world is to put life in “the pose,” or at least try to. We meet intensity with intensity whether it's in the workplace, with our families, the economy, the environment, even ourselves.

What you may have already discovered is that when you wrestle life to the ground, it usually doesn't lead to the results you were looking for. A tense and tackling course usually attracts to you more tension and situations in which you feel like you have to tackle life all over again.

Adopt a calm, assertive approach.

A cornerstone of Cesar Millan's philosophy is to meet dogs with calm assertive energy. When Cesar puts a dog in “the pose,” he is not angry or even frustrated. Instead, he calmly re-directs the dog while holding the expectation that his leadership will be respected and he will be listened to. As you might have guessed, when I put Ella in “the pose,” I am usually most definitely not in a calm assertive place.

This is why it feels like tackling and wrestling!

Step back and get into the habit of noticing when your life starts to feel like one big wrestling match. If you're exhausted and drained much of the time, that's a tip-off. Your next step might be to learn how to relax when you begin to feel overwhelmed and powerless. Meditation and deep breathing are two tools you could use to release tension and open to more ease.

Ask yourself what kind of life you want to lead. Sometimes we hold onto hidden expectations and beliefs that contribute to our life-wrestling tendencies. Remember that no matter how out of control your life feels, YOU are in charge of your response to it as well as the direction in which you point yourself.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Make a Difference- Set Off a Gratitude Chain

How do you feel about what you see and hear in the world around you? I notice that even the comic strips are getting pretty bleak. In the news, our neighborhoods and even our own lives many of us are dealing with fear and uncertainties. Even the bodies that we walk around in may feel (to us) as “less than” or “in decline.”

Simply put, the outlook on the world right now just doesn't seem very bright for many people. The sense of foreboding, fear and even helplessness might spur some to action: “Save the World” or “Change the Current Tides.”

Wanting to make a positive difference in your world can certainly help us feel more powerful and can even benefit ourselves and others. But when the focus continues to be on the conditions that are perceived unwanted, it's unlikely that your world will significantly change anytime soon.

Why not get into the habit of recognizing a situation or condition that you do not like and then making a conscious decision to shift your energy toward what you do like and what you want to create instead? This isn't denial. In fact, getting a good look at what doesn't please you can be an empowering way to become clear.

Gratitude is a wonderful way to start turning in the direction of what you do want. The ripple effects of gratitude can also make a positive difference in your world.

The Gratitude Chain
One of my close friends, Melissa, introduced a gratitude practice to me that not only feels good but also has the potential to encourage powerful changes in the lives of many others. Melissa and I, along with other friends, participate in the online social networking site Facebook. This is the place where Melissa set off a ripple of gratitude that keeps reverberating.

Melissa decided to post a list of a few things that she felt grateful for in that moment and I was one of friends she “tagged” in the note. In turn, I posted a list of things I was feeling gratitude about and tagged not only Melissa, but also a handful of different friends. Many of them posted their own gratitude lists.

What a delight and inspiration for me to share a friend's gratitude moment with a larger community. I can then choose to reach into myself and create my own list to share.

The thing about gratitude is that you don't have to feel great to be grateful.

Sometimes the gratitude lists we post are glowing like: “I am grateful for the beauty of the sun.” But this practice has also showed me that we can all feel gratitude even when life doesn't seem so sun-shiny or peaceful.

This doesn't mean that you stuff down sad, fearful or angry feelings. What it can mean is that you look within yourself for sense of appreciation about whatever is happening- the “silver lining” or lesson in the challenge. I often find that whatever is troubling me somehow lightens and feels less insurmountable when I cultivate gratitude.

The power of gratitude is that once you open up to it, your view expands and you can now see and experience more and more of the stuff that makes you feel good.

Try it out and spread it around.
So why not experiment with your own gratitude chain? You don't have to be on Facebook or even have internet access to do this.

Simply share what you are finding to appreciate about your life and world with others. Whether it's over the workroom lunchtable or a chat with your neighbor, talk more about what you feel grateful for with others then watch to see who is inspired to continue the practice.

You never know what kind of chain reaction you might set off!