What if You Knew What You Didn’t Know?

You may read the title of this post and wonder what in the world I mean, and that would make for a well thought out headline.  After all, the purpose of a well-written headline is to get the reader to read what’s below.  But what if there was really much more to it than that?

We go through our busy lives, often on cruise control or autopilot, and at the end of the day or the end of the week, we may not remember much of what happened and little about what really mattered.  Has that ever happened to you?  What if we could change that without effort, by simply deciding to do so?  What if, as soon as the day following reading this post, or even immediately, from the very next moment, you lived your life more consciously, more aware, and more grateful? Would that make a difference?

How many times in your life have you looked back and wondered, “What if…..?”  Usually when we do that, we are feeling a bit sad or guilty or somehow regretful, which is not healthy or helpful going forward.  I’m not saying it isn’t good to determine what we can do better or differently, but I am saying that feeling guilty or regretful simply keeps us stuck in the past rather than helping us move forward.  So what happens when you don’t know what to do better or differently or how to reach your goals or to be happier?

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What would you do if you did know?  What would you do if you did know how to be happier, how to reach your next goal?  You see, I believe that you actually do know, because you have an innate ability to tap into the many resources in and around you, and the only thing that holds you back is the fear of not knowing, or of making a mistake, or perhaps as or more likely, the fear of getting exactly what it is you want, i.e., the fear of success.

So the next time you are thinking about how you can change your life and your internal voice keeps saying you don’t know what to do, ask yourself, “What would I do if I did know?”  I can just see you now, getting a smile on your face as the answer hits you and you immediately begin to put the answer into action.  And then the ball just starts rolling, and rolling….  How cool is that?

More Than A Hollywood Philosophy

It’s hard to believe how time flies by.  Most of us have certain memories that seem from long ago while others seem like they were just yesterday.  One of the most interesting things to me is that some things can seem like a long time ago as well as having happened just yesterday.  That’s all the time we have for that, though I could go on forever.

Have you ever noticed that when someone says something that catchers your attention, you seem to think about it again, seemingly “out of the blue?”  Isn’t it amazing how the mind works?  Having had an interest in the mind and behavior for most of my life, I have studied many theories and philosophies and have come to the conclusion that there is so much more to learn.  I also know that I have learned many valuable lessons and practices that serve my clients and me quite well, and that, even the most practiced need reminders from time to time.

The mind processes language in a variety of ways, which along with our emotions and other related factors, determine how we react or respond (behave) in given situations.  Some words are simply ignored by the mind, which can cause us to misunderstand an intention spoken by another.  When that happens, it creates a mutual misunderstanding, which can cause a chasm between those involved.  Not good for rapport to say the least.  They may “try” to do better the next time, but that could makes matters worse.

When at first you don’t succeed, try and try again, right?  Wrong!  Trying has never accomplished one desired outcome.  Trying is simply making an attempt.  Why do you think Yoda said, “Do or do not, there is no try,” to young Luke Skywalker?  Because Yoda knew, as any good Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) practitioner knows, (and in Yoda’s case, a Master Practitioner), that the mind understands “try” to mean, “to make an attempt.”  To “try” at anything will never get you what you really want.  You must do!  Even Nike® understands you have to “Just Do It®” because they know that to “Just Try” would never cut it for Michael Jordan or anyone else they were going to sponsor.

So the next time you hear yourself saying, “I’ll try….,” catch yourself, smile because you did, and then tell yourself to go do whatever it was you were intending to do. Imagine yourself succeeding, and then imagine yourself having succeeded. It may take some practice, but you will find that you can accomplish anything you want to when you do.  How cool is that?

What is Truly Important?

Many years ago I read a book by Richard Carlson entitled, “Don’t’ Sweat the Small Stuff… and it’s all small stuff.”  You may remember that book and may have even read it yourself.  I thought about that book and its theme because of a recent family tragedy, and I thought that as we embark on this new era (according to the Mayan calendar, at least, the world as we knew it ended), it might be worth revisiting.

Over the course of our lives, we are confronted with situations that require our courage, our strength, and our wisdom.  Sometimes we act wiser and with greater strength and courage than at other times, and that’s natural.  What I have learned over the many years I have been at this thing called, “life,” is to concentrate on those things that are most important, that contribute most to my true happiness and well-being.  I am a compassionate and considerate person, so I know I will always have others’ interests in mind, as well.  As a recovering people pleaser, however, I am careful to not focus on others to my own detriment.

As parents, we may be faced with the dilemma of disciplining a child or deciding that a particular action doesn’t warrant that level of attention, which is the “pick your battles” scenario.  Some decisions come easily, and others require that courage and strength, especially when there are no rules that govern or guide us.  This brings me back to the book and its theme, that we are well served by focusing on the truly important things in life and to realize that much of what we believe to be important may actually be rather unimportant.

As you think about the time ahead and how you will live this life with a new focus, evaluate those things in your life that you give most of your attention to.  Are they truly the most important, or do they have an urgency that seems to insist?  Sometimes we pay more attention to things that seem “urgent,” whether they are truly important or not.  In any given moment, consider what is most important, “right now.”  What will help you get closer to a goal or make you most happy?  What can you do that you can be most proud of when you reflect sometime later?  What will have the greatest positive impact on your relationship with your children, spouse, and others who are most important in your life?

When I am breathing my last breath, I will not wish I had spent more time at the office.  I will be most proud of those moments I spent doing things that brought me the most joy and that made a positive difference in the lives of those I love.  When you concentrate on what is truly important, you will realize your greatest joy.  How cool is that?

From Victim to Victor

Many of us have had an accident of some kind and may have suffered an injury.   Some may have suffered other injuries, either physical or emotional.  When something like that happens to us, it is understandable to think of ourselves as victims, especially when another party is involved and seemingly responsible.  What is a potential negative consequence of our feeling like or believing we are victims, and perhaps even believing in “accidents” of “suffering injury?”

In Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP), which is the study and application of how we form beliefs and how those beliefs drive behaviors, we look at the role of language as one factor.  Language is more than simply the spoken word and includes nonverbal language as well as our internal dialogue.  What you say to yourself is important in recognizing why you may behave in a certain way. It relates to the notion, “What you believe, you will achieve.”  The caveat is that you need to be careful about what you say to yourself, because it may just become your truth.quo_gandhi

If you believe you are a victim, is it possible that you have relinquished not only your power but also responsibility for your circumstances?  If you are not responsible for your circumstances, then what purpose is there in learning new skills, in making good decisions, in eating healthy foods that support your body, in exercising, and in being a good example for your children?  Have you ever known someone who always blamed everyone and everything else for their circumstances?  How often have we heard a child say, “That wasn’t my fault?”  My mother never accepted that excuse because she told me it was my responsibility to not allow myself to be in a situation that could result in my being hurt or getting in trouble.  It was my responsibility to leave a situation before getting in trouble or being hurt. I didn’t realize it at the time, but that lesson taught me much about responsibility, which carried over to all aspects of my life.

When you think of yourself as a victim, you give away everything that allows you to accomplish all the wonderful dreams and goals you deserve.  When you take full responsibility for what happens in your life, you become the victor over your life.  When you think of yourself as the victor, the master of your circumstances, then anything is possible.  How cool is that?

Words for the Wise

Many of us have read or heard quotes or sayings or prayers that have impacted us in wonderful ways.  Some of us have even kept a special expression as a “mantra” or a driving “philosophy.”  Several have helped guide me over the years, and I often come across others that I find meaningful and helpful in given situations.  For those who follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you may have seen some of the ones I’ve shared.

There is one special quote that has guided me over many years, and though I sometimes wish I had always paid attention to it, I believe that even those times when I didn’t, I was meant to remember it at the perfect time and to learn the lesson from having drifted away from it.  Before I reveal that quote to you, let me share others I have found meaningful that you may enjoy, as well.

A favorite is by Eleanor Roosevelt who said, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” This is important because we can never realize a dream we don’t have.  It’s like the lottery; you can’t win if you don’t buy a ticket (and I encourage you to play responsibly).  Another wisdom is by Anaïs Nin, who wrote, “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.”  From my study and practice, I know that there is great power in both of these quotations.  I am sure you have your favorites, and I would enjoy hearing from you if you care to share.

Of all the famous quotes and expressions I have come across over the years, the one that has guided me for decades is recognized as the “Serenity Prayer,” by Reinhold Niebuhr.  Though it has come to be used in recovery programs, particularly 12-step, it is applicable in every facet of life and circumstance.  Many of us get upset with situations over which we have no control, and yet, we expend so much energy that we suffer physically and emotionally.  Upon reflection, we know that makes no sense, so what might help?

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”  Once we give up the desire to control all beyond our control, we can then allow ourselves to enjoy all that is, to be grateful for what we have, and to dream beautiful dreams.  How cool is that?

In the Eye of the Beholder

Have you heard the expression, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder?” Many of us have heard that one, as well as, “You can’t tell a book by its cover.” Both expressions have something to do with the fact that what we see with our eyes is subjective or filtered in some way, by our own opinions or beliefs or ideals. For example, some people don’t like the color green, while others don’t see “green” the same way you do, and they may not even be colorblind.

When you are in a discussion with someone about a particular topic and it becomes clear that you are both seeing the same situation differently, what comes to mind or how does that make you feel? I know some people who are so set in their ways and feel so strongly about their own beliefs and opinions that it is nearly impossible for them to even consider someone else’s point of view. I have great compassion for them, because I think they are missing out on learning and growing and actually becoming happier people. Wouldn’t it be awful to be so boxed in to a set of ideas that you felt alone because you couldn’t, or wouldn’t, see others’ points of view?

A word I use often is “perception,” because it is important to our understanding of the world, and more specifically, of our own world. When you observe something, is your observation the truth? When you hear a story, do your interpret that story the same way someone else does? When you hear music or look at a painting, do you hear or see what your neighbor hears or sees? It isn’t a matter of who or what is right. The way you perceive something is your truth, and the way the others perceive something is their truth.

Lord Thomas Dewar said, “Minds are like parachutes; they only function when open.”  If it could be possible that there might even be the slightest difference in perception and ones truth, would it make sense to compare, to share the experience with another while keeping an open mind? By doing so, you just might broaden your own view, and at the same time, you might just broaden the horizon and view of the other person, too. How cool is that?

Lost & Found

Have you ever found yourself in a state of confusion, not knowing what to do next, wondering which path to take, having lost that illusive joy in your life, and yet you know that it surely must be out there, somewhere?  I think most of us have experienced that state at one point or another.  If you have never experienced any of that, then you are among the lucky ones, and I offer my congratulations.  For those of us who have, there is good news.

As what goes up must come down, I believe that nothing is ever truly lost but simply misplaced or otherwise out of reach for the time being.  Since our thoughts determine our reality, every aspect of our lives was first created in our minds and made true by our actions.  Our actions are determined by our beliefs, which are formed due to various forms of programming and transformed or molded by our model of the world and emotional states.  The communication model presented in NLP (Neurolinguistic Programming) illustrates this quite well, but suffice it to say that all of our actions and behaviors have a basis in our beliefs.

When we feel lost and are in a place that is not where we want to be (in a poor relationship or job, for example), that is a wonderful indication that we will soon find our way back, because it is in being lost that we find ourselves.  What I mean is, when we are unhappy, we have an opportunity to recreate, to figure out what got us where we are and to ask questions for which we find answers so we can get to where we want to be.  Norman Vincent Peale said, “Every problem has in it the seeds of its own solution. If you don’t have any problems, you don’t get any seeds.”  When things are going along relatively well, we tend to not challenge ourselves to create something better.  It is only when things seem bad that we are driven to want to make a change.

So, the next time you are lost and don’t know what to do next to have the joy you deserve, remember that it is really a blessing in disguise.  Remember that in total darkness, a single candle creates light, that it is darkest before the dawn, and that when you seem most lost, the joy you are about to find will be the sweetest.  How cool is that?

A Renewal, A Rebirth

In spring, the rains come, the flowers and trees blossom, lawns return to green, people are out in their yards and gardens preparing them to look their most beautiful, and many others go through closets, donating items they no longer wear or need to Sheltering Wings, Goodwill, or other worthy organizations. It is said that what one person casts away, another may treasure. Springtime is a time of renewal, a rebirthing of the earth’s treasures.

Do you treat your own wellbeing and the relationships in your life with the same level of care you give your garden? How might things be different, if you did? What might happen if you cultivated better, healthier habits and actively nurtured your relationships. If you cultivated the garden in your mind and body, might you blossom into a happier, healthier you?

The most important areas worthy of our attention, besides our own wellbeing, are the relationships we have with our children and our spouses (or life partners, significant others, etc.). And yet, many allow our lives to become so routine that we simply go through the motions rather than cultivating those vital relationships. What would happen to your yard if you just let it go? What would happen to your car if you ceased all maintenance?

What if we looked at springtime as a time for us, as the flowers and trees so naturally demonstrate, to become new again? What if we nurtured and fertilized the soil within our relationships so that they could continue to grow and even be reborn into something stronger and brighter than before? How might your children feel if you told them how proud you were of them, for an accomplishment, for an action or behavior? And how might your spouse feel if you reminded him or her (and yourself) what it was that first caused you to know the love you felt? Was it their voice, their smile, their eyes, or something only for the two of you?

What I believe is that it is all too easy to allow our lives to run us rather than for us to run our lives. When we take stock of where we are compared to where we want to be, it is never too late to change course, to cultivate all that is dear, and to live a life of joy. How cool is that?

What Defines You?

I recently posted a comment on Twitter and Facebook about how your past need not define who you are. Quite clearly, things we experience in our past influence us and how we behave in the future, but if we allow our past to define us, then we are acting as “victim” rather than being in charge of and taking responsibility for our lives.I know someone who experienced many difficult things in his life (emotional and verbal abuse, dyslexia, traumatic physical experiences, and more) and yet he has overcome them in such a convincing way that people who know him now are shocked when they learn of his past experiences. Most of us have experienced difficulty in our lives, and those who are successful use those experiences as lessons, not as excuses.

No matter what has come your way, you can decide, in this instant, that you are going to live the life you want to live. You can decide that you can and will live a joyful life filled with love. You can decide that you deserve to have the perfect relationship and settle for nothing but that. You can decide that no matter what anyone has said or done to you in the past, that you are a good person and that you will only allow good and love and positive people in your life, now and always. As Helene Rothschild wrote, “The Truth Is, No matter what anyone says or does, You are Okay, Worthy, Loveable, Attractive, Important, Intelligent, and Good Enough. You are a good person, and You deserve to be Happy, Healthy, and Successful.”

Sean Stephenson talks about “getting of your but.” What he means is that rather than using past experiences or even your current situation as an excuse, decide to live the life you want to live. If you know his story, you realize that he made such a decision (with the help of his mother) at a time when it would have been much easier to have felt sorry for himself.  Because he made the decision that he did, he has empowered countless others to do the same. He is an inspiration like few in the world can be.

If you aren’t sure how to proceed, look up Sean’s story,  submit a comment, or write me. I’ll be happy to guide you and teach you so that you can carry on, empowered to live the life you deserve. How cool is that?

 Karl
karl (at) talktokarl (dot) com

The Greatest Job in the World

If you are a parent, you have undertaken to do the most important, challenging, and rewarding job anyone can ever have.  It is likely that you have had days when you wondered what in the world you got yourself into.  Have you ever thought that you weren’t going to make it as a parent or that you weren’t doing a good job?  Did you ever wonder how your children would turn out considering the mistakes you thought you made?

If you are a typical parent, chances are there have been times when you wondered whether you were really cut out for that job and if your kids would be okay.    What I believe is that you have done a good job, and if your kids are still at home, you continue to do the best you can at all times.  Chances are that you have actually done a pretty darn good job.

Even though there isn’t an instruction manual for raising children, and even though we swore we wouldn’t make the same mistakes our parents made with us, we have instilled certain character in our children that, though they may not always exhibit it, will serve them well as they grow into adulthood.

A teacher of mine who practiced Family Counseling for decades shared with me that when parents came to her with a “problem child,” she would meet with them all, then the child, but she would spend more time with the parents in counseling sessions.  In business we know that culture is a top-down phenomenon.  The same holds true for families.  The most important part of our job as parents is to allow our children to be who they are (not to mold them into some facsimile of ourselves or to be their friends) and to teach them to be caring and responsible adults.

You have in you everything you need to make good decisions, and it is most likely that, especially related to your children, your decisions have been, overall, good ones.  In doing “the right thing” by your children, they will grow up to be good adults.  When your children accomplish something that brings them great joy and you beam with pride, remember that you really did do a great job.  How cool is that?