For the Love of All Things Human

When a parent is mentally ill, a degree of chaos permeates every aspect of family life. Children are terrorized in myriad ways. They fear for their very survival. And in a desperate attempt to make sense of the non-sensical, children figure they must have done something to cause the adult(s) to behave the way they do. Denial becomes one of the most prominent defense mechanisms because it enables survival.

When we awaken to truth, our hearts break wide open, as we grapple with making sense of the non-sensical. Profound grief comes with accepting the truth that our lives were literally endangered because the adult(s) couldn’t even take care of themselves. Desperation characterizes the many ways one tries to cope. 
There is no way out of the turmoil other than slogging through the pain of what never was to be. Everything is about the person who is ill. The world revolves around them, and a heavy price is paid by those closest. Until a door or window opens or one’s heart cracks open to allow us to see things for what they truly are…

What is happening in our country right now is nothing less profound. I am reminded of a book written by Anne Wilson Schaef many years ago: When Society Becomes An Addict.

Knowing that recovery is possible, today I choose hope that an opportunity for an en masse awakening is upon the citizens of the United States of America.

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The Foundations of Well-Being

Imperative Dimensions is pleased to announce that we are now an affiliate of this awesome online experiential program, which is about growing powerful inner resources like confidence, self-compassion, mindfulness, emotional balance, and joy in daily life.

The experiential Foundations program is taught by Rick Hanson, Ph.D, and will hardwire more happiness, resilience, self-worth, love, and peace into your brain and your life. It’s a transformative program where you’ll grow the 12 Pillars of Well-Being: key inner strengths like Self-Caring, Mindfulness, and Courage that contribute to a good life.

Rick is a Senior Fellow of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, and invited speaker at Oxford, Harvard, and Stanford universities. He’s also the New York Times bestselling author ofBuddha’s Brain, Hardwiring Happiness, Just One Thing, and Mother Nurture, a neuropsychologist, meditation teacher, and very down-to-earth, practical, and warm-hearted guy.

Each of the Twelve Pillars includes:
• Four video presentations from Rick Hanson – with fascinating ideas and powerful methods
• Four guided practice videos from Rick Hanson
• Two videos of experiential activities
• An hour-long interview hosted by Rick with leading experts, including Tara Brach, Steven Porges and Sue Carter, Dan Siegel, Barbara Fredrickson, Gretchen Rubin, Jack Kornfield, Paul Gilbert, Daniel Ellenberg, Sharon Salzberg, Anat Baniel, Joan Halifax, and John Ratey.
• Four quizzes to track your growth
• Slidesets and other written materials
• Community forums

The program is full of inspiration, emotional support, and powerful tools – all available in an archive for access any time, including in audio-only formats for easy listening on the go — and has special benefits for counselors, educators, coaches, parents, mindfulness teachers, and healthcare professionals, and human resources trainers.

It costs just $30/month for a year, and there’s even a money-back guarantee. And psychotherapists, social workers, and nurses can receive 24 continuing education credits for just $50.

I have found it a great way to grow my own Foundations of Well-Being and think you will find it valuable as well. If you are interested in participating in the program, please use the following link to do so:

https://fwb.rickhanson.net/affiliate/4474

Entrepreneurship

Yesterday I had the privilege of attending the 2014 Fairfax County Government Vendor Forum in Fairfax, VA (for those of you who are Twitter users, you can check out #fairfaxcountybiz). It was a fantastic event, which they call a “Reverse Vendor Fair” because many of the County’s agencies set up booth so vendors can visit them to network and find out what business needs are on the horizon. The atmosphere was open, collaborative, well-organized, and the tempo — if you will — was just right. Panel discussions were designed to help small businesses market and sell to the local county government. Clearly, their system is open and intentional.

This morning I woke up thinking about how I might describe this experience to someone. In a nutshell, the word that keeps coming to mind is entrepreneurial.

As I pondered that a bit more, I was reminded that being an entrepreneur is really all about mindset. It’s saying yes and not letting anything get in the way of trying new things and not saying, “no, I/we can’t or don’t do that…”

So today, as you go about your day, contemplate all the ways in which you are entrepreneurial, as it really has nothing to do with who you work for. Rather, it’s about how you think and how you translate those thoughts into action in your day to day life. Get the Facts. Be the Change. Achieve Results.

The Four Agreements

This morning, I am reminded of the freedom that comes with living progress, not perfection. And, of course, that brings to mind the notion of practice and how each of us is a work in progress. Without judgment, as we face what comes today, strive to embody the wisdom of Don Miguel Ruiz:

1. Be impeccable with your word.

2. Don’t take anything personally.

3. Don’t make assumptions.

4. Always do your best.

 

Get the Facts. Be the Change. Achieve Results.

Feedback, Not Feel Good

Many times in life we are presented with an opportunity to give or receive feedback. Today I am reminded of words I heard come out of my mouth many moons ago when speaking to a boss who regularly told me I was doing a good job. That is, I needed feedback, not feel good.

Don’t get me wrong, acknowledgement for a job well done is important and needed. However, more often than not, we provide the feel good without the feedback, and THAT is a complete disservice to our co-workers, direct reports, children, spouses — everyone.

What keeps you from providing feedback? Fear? Conflict avoidance? Not knowing how to put your thoughts into words that can be heard and/or received?

 

Amazing Data

I love data.

Data reveal themes and trends. Data provide insight and understanding. And, always, data tell a story.

So, how about stories? What meaning and significance do stories have?  The universe is full of people, and each and every one of us has many, many stories to tell. A lifetime of them. Whether we are young or old, our collective stories are full of amazing data. And, as Brene Brown says, maybe Stories are Data with a Soul. Now THAT is a powerful notion.

Think about how much data can be mined, and how much understanding and insight can come from just sharing our stories. Our life experiences translate into stories that are data-rich.  They are what give life so much meaning. And yet, we often are too busy or in too much of a hurry to listen — and I mean really listen — to the myriad stories that are within ear shot through our circle of loved ones.

This weekend, ask someone you know a question about their life, and just listen to what their soul-full-of-data can teach you. There is so much to be learned. So get started by diving into all the amazing data that surrounds you.

 

Who We Are

Letting Go

Holy cow, life is full of opportunities to practice letting go over and over and over again.

This morning, I reflect on the past 18 years of raising my first born. I remember thinking — during the birthing process — that my first job as a parent was to do everything I possibly could to help my beautiful baby boy get safely from the womb into the world. And the moment he was born, the letting go dance began. Holding. Comforting. Consoling. Caring. Crying. Soothing. Feeding. In sickness and in health. Over and over and over again. Every day. A commitment like no other.

It seems like yesterday, I watched him walk away from me on the playground, as I stood wondering how far he would go before he turned back to see if I was still there.

As he returned in the wee hours of the morning from a train excursion to Canada with a couple of friends, I am struck by the different yet familiar dance of comings and goings.

Life can be oh-so bittersweet, don’t you think?

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Assumptions

As a self-proclaimed creative data geek, I am intrigued by how making assumptions can really twist communication between two people.  How we interpret what another says — in other words, what we make it mean — can take us down a path that is very far removed from truth.  A simple example: a friend says, “I don’t like black dogs.” What I think she means: “Black dogs are bad.”

One of the dictionary.com definitions of assumptions states: “something taken for granted; a supposition… Synonyms: presupposition; hypothesis, conjecture, guess, postulate, theory.”

So think about that for a minute. We often are guessing or hypothesizing about what someone means when they speak to us.

The good news is that it only takes a slight shift in our consciousness to begin to verify the assumptions we make are correct (or not). We can do this by asking clarifying questions. In other words, don’t take what people say at face value. Investigate that you understand what they are saying by paraphrasing or asking for clarification to be sure you really get what they are trying to communicate.

This week, challenge yourself to get the facts right by first asking, what did I make that mean? Strive for  better, easier relationships by checking your assumptions: ask for clarification if you don’t think you fully understand what someone is saying or what they mean. Watch what happens.