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5 Simple Steps to Stay in Your own Business

Bird Sticking his Nose in the Earth

I don’t know what it is about the human condition that makes us love to be in everyone else’s business. It’s a tempting and addictive pastime. Walk into any family dinner or social gathering and I guarantee at least one conversation involving the words “should” or “shouldn’t” as it pertains to someone else.

Whether it’s judging relationship dynamics, parenting styles, outfits/hair, careers, activities of choice, or social media updates, it’s so much easier to be up in others’ business than to fix what is buggin’ in our own.

I am not immune to mentally running other people’s lives on their behalf, either. I catch myself all the time in my personal life. (So as to not confuse personal with my professional, life coaching is not about giving other people advice; it’s about helping them find their own answers and remaining completely neutral and unattached to the outcome. It’s a judgment free zone.)

When my judgy-meter is dinging, it’s always my signal to pull out a Judge Your Neighbor Worksheet and do The Work. Why? Because my judgment and “should”-ing means I’m avoiding dealing with my own junk.

So if you find yourself telling other people (either in your head or out loud) how they should be handling or doing anything, I invite you to follow these 5 simple steps:

  1. Ask yourself: Whose business am I in? My business, their business, or God’s business. (Hint: If you want someone else to be doing something different than they are, that’s their business — even if it affects you, it’s still their business. If you want circumstances out of anyone’s control to be different than they are, that’s God’s business.)
  2. Pull out a Judge Your Neighbor Worksheet. I’ve provided a link so you can download one directly from Byron Katie’s website.
  3. Find the statement on that sheet that gets you the most riled up.
  4. Simplify it to the best of your ability. Think concise. (Example: John should be more responsible.)
  5. Self-facilitate or find an objective third party to walk you through The Work. I’ve provided a link so you can download this One Belief worksheet directly as well.

You know what? Inevitably by the end of this process, I couldn’t care less about the other person’s business I was in. Phew! What a relief! I have my hands full with running my own life, why would I want to be responsible for everyone else’s too? That’s just exhausting.

Let me know what you think of this process in the comments below! Or, if you have questions about it, feel free to ask and I’ll get back to you.

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Questioning Unquestioned Beliefs

Rainy Sunrise

This morning while walking my dog, it started to rain. This is unusual for late July. I took the opportunity to feel into it with all my senses. The smell of wet pavement and moist dirt. The feel of warm raindrops on my arms and face. The sound of the rain hitting leaves, skin and our path. I watched as the dark spots started blending together until everything was covered in a sheath of water. It was beautiful.

Any time it rains, I’m reminded of my high school swim team and one of the first times I questioned my previously unquestioned assumptions.

It was my sophomore year and we had practice two hours a day, every weekday during the season. Partway through one particular practice, it started to rain during timed laps. When I reached one side of the pool, I pulled myself out.

Coach said, “What are you doing?”

“It’s raining,” I replied.

“What, are you afraid you’re going to get wet?” he said.

This took me by surprise, especially since I stood there dripping pool water from my body as it mixed with the raindrops on the cement.

“It’s dangerous to swim while it’s raining,” I said, remembering all the times as a child that my mother would frantically yell at us to get out of the pool if rain started to fall.

“How do you figure that?” he asked.

I thought back to the fear behind my mother’s warning. She envisioned lightning striking the pool and electrocuting us.

“Lightning,” I said.

He looked up at the grey sky.

“Do you hear thunder?” he asked. “See any signs of lightning?”

“Well, no,” I said.

“Then get back in the pool,” he said. “If I think it might start thundering and lightning, I’ll end practice.”

I had never before questioned my behavior resulting from the combination of rain and swimming.

How many other areas of life do we take the fears of our parents and absorb them as our own? How often do we assume belief structures without ever questioning them? What actions do we take automatically without ever understanding why?

I know I still have a ton of unquestioned beliefs about money, relationships, career, gender roles and expectations (even as a feminist); the list goes on. I picked them up from culture, my parents, friends, community, etc. without even thinking about it.

I invite you to also question your own beliefs; especially the ones you’ve held since childhood and sound a lot like a parent’s voice in your mind. No harm can come from inquiry. It’s simply becoming curious about them.

Ask yourself: Is it true? Can I know for absolute certain that it is true?*

Then become curious about yourself and your behavior when you believe it. What do you do? How do you treat others? What are the resulting emotions? What happens because of this belief?

And then become curious about how you might react if you didn’t believe it. Would your behavior or emotions be the same or different? If different, how so?

Notice what changes, if anything. You might surprise yourself at what comes up.

If the original belief doesn’t serve you, try on alternate beliefs to see how those feel. Test out the opposite belief and see if you can find proof to support that the opposite could be true. Try on variations of it to see what feels most true – when YOU can decide your own truth rather than adopting others’ beliefs.

Let me know what comes up in the comments below! (And if you’d like a formal facilitation of this process, I’m also happy to schedule a coaching call to walk through it.)

 

*This process above is based on Byron Katie’s The Work.

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How to Forgive Yourself & Others

Bridge to Forgiveness

Forgiving others and ourselves just might be the hardest – and most necessary – gifts to give.

Why is forgiveness important?

When we hold grudges and judgments, it acts like a cancer in our body. It gnaws away at our happiness and holds us back from feeling completely fulfilled. When memories are triggered about someone we resent, it can often send our minds into a tizzy of rehashing the same painful moment over and over again.

If we push it off or shove it down, it inevitably resurfaces. In the wise words of Carl Jung, “What we resist, persists.”

The unhappiest people I know are those that harbor a lot of anger and resentment of others. They’re also the most prone to illness and chronic health conditions. Science today recognizes our mental and emotional states directly affect our physical health.

Who wants to live like that? (Surprisingly, a lot of us. Just look at the news. It’s filled with angry, judgmental people pointing fingers.)

I know from my own personal experience, bitterness and joy do not coexist easily together.

My mother and I had a challenging relationship. She was clinically depressed and when she put pressure on me to play the role of mother in our relationship, I resentfully obliged as the “good daughter.” Later, when she committed suicide, I didn’t want to forgive her for it. I also blamed myself for her death. (Double whammy.)

In my mind, I needed to pay a penance. I felt I deserved to suffer. And suffer I did.

I became involved in unhealthy relationships with men I knew weren’t good for me. Even going so far as to sabotage the beginnings of relationships with good men that would have allowed me to feel the love I was denying myself. At a subconscious level, I think I invited in suffering and pushed away anything that resembled joy.

Of course this all self-perpetuated because the more pain that I endured, the more resentment and anger I grasped onto. The angrier I was at myself for creating and allowing it, the more I invited it in.

It wasn’t until I could accept both her actions and mine, find compassion for each of us, was I then able to forgive. And friends, that is such a precious gift. I only wish it hadn’t taken me so long to figure that out. Therefore, I’m passing my process along to you:

Four (not-so-simple) Steps for Forgiveness:

  1. Acceptance. The first step is to accept that shitty things happen. (Until they don’t.) We don’t have to like it, we don’t have to approve of it, and we don’t have to condone it. We merely have to accept that reality is as it is. We cannot change anyone or anything that’s already happened. Nor do we have to know why it did.
    A wonderful tool for finding acceptance is The Work™ by Byron Katie.
  2. Compassion. Once we accept reality, then we can look for compassion. We try to see from their perspective and try to understand their circumstances. Sometimes shit rolls down hill and folks do the best they can with the manure they’re given. We can’t possibly know all the information that led to the action in question. It’s most likely rooted in their own pain and suffering.

    If you’re looking for compassion toward yourself, it’s helpful to realize and accept that we all make mistakes. It’s part of the human experience. “Do your best until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” ~ Maya Angelou

  3. Is there a reason to keep it? Ask yourself if there’s a stress-free or pain-free reason to keep your grudge. If you can come up with one, ask yourself if that truly is stress or pain-free.
  4. Forgiveness. Offering forgiveness doesn’t mean we are agreeing to more of what happened. It’s simply allowing ourselves to release the anger and resentment that doesn’t serve us, nor change what’s happened. It’s saying to yourself that you’re willing to let the past stay in the past, so that you can move forward into a happier and lighter future. It’s no longer looking for payback or penance.

    Write out, “I forgive (name) for (cause of pain).” Another helpful tool is to add, “I forgive (name) for not being who I wanted them to be.”

If you’ve done the first three steps and the last isn’t coming easily, my hunch is there’s more work to be done in the first two steps. That’s ok. Some pain takes longer to let go, especially if we’ve been holding it for a long time. It might feel foreign without it and that is sometimes uncomfortable territory.

Keep trying. Keep going back through the steps. Eventually you’ll be ready to release it. When you are, the joy that fills in the cracks feels oh-so-delicious!

****

If you’re ready to find forgiveness around a huge loss in your life, I invite you to join me and four other Master Coaches at our Bali Healing Retreat from November 26 to December 1, 2019. We’ll be focusing on healing our grief around loss, and forgiveness is a big component of that.

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8 Suggestions for the Winter Solstice Transition

Friday, December 21, 2018 is the Winter Solstice. On the longest night of the year, we have an opportunity to say goodbye to the old and welcome the new. This day marks the sun’s return, and with it new life and new beginnings.

I invite you to consider participating in a literal or figurative (or both!) cleansing of what no longer serves you. This opening of space physically and emotionally makes room for what wants to enter your life in the coming year.

Literal Cleansing Suggestions:

  1. Organize your kitchen pantry and donate items that will be expiring soon to food banks or homeless shelters.
  2. Sort through your closet and donate clothes that you rarely (if ever) wear, no longer fit, or aren’t in style anymore.
  3. Weed through your desk or office to organize the clutter, throw away unnecessary papers (scan and save the important ones), and recycle or donate what you no longer have need for.
  4. Take a long bath to let the heat open up your pores and allow the steam to excrete toxins from your body. Play some music, light some candles and consciously release your stress and anxiety.

Figurative Cleansing Suggestions:

  1. Fold a piece of paper in half. On the left side, write all the emotions, thoughts, bad habits and personal baggage that you want to release. On the right side, write all the emotions, affirmations, and new habits that you would like to replace what was written on the left. (It’s as important to identify what you’d like to invite into your life, as it is to close the chapter on the old.)
  2. Fill out a Judge Your Neighbor worksheet and then do Byron Katie’s The Work on the thought with the most angst.
  3. What movie made you cry the most or hardest? Curl up in your most comfortable pajamas and blanket on the couch and watch it again with a box of tissue. We all need a good cry once in a while.
  4. Angry or irritated at someone or something that happened? Pound, and/or scream into, a pillow until the anger is gone or you’re physically exhausted.

When you’re done with any or all of the above, take some time to meditate on all the possibilities you’d like to invite into your life in the coming year. Then set an intention for yourself in 2019. Write it down and post it somewhere you can refer to it often.

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Memory is Unlimited, but Storage is Costly

Jennifer Bauer taking photos in Yosemite

With the introduction of digital cameras, photo storage changed from space-consuming boxes of film to a computer’s hard drive. All of a sudden, we were not limited by the amount of film cartons we could carry because memory cards were small, lightweight, cheap and could be used repeatedly after downloading.

Rather than conserving shots, we can take as many as our fingers are capable of and now have the ability to experiment more abundantly with camera settings.

I love how this has lent me ample space to learn and grow my photographic skills. Yet, because I take so many photos now, storage is costly.

On my first trip to Africa, between my husband and I, we had 20,000 photos. It took us more than six months to go through them all, select ones we liked, post-process and then de-select so that we didn’t overwhelm our poor family members who had to endure the picture show and tell of our honeymoon.

That’s just one trip. And we travel – a lot.

You know what we don’t spend time doing? Deleting the terrible pictures. Like somehow, someday we’ll need them or regret not having them.

This got me thinking how this relates to our own mental state…our own personal memories that we hold onto.

Making memories is easy and unlimited. Storage is costly when it’s mostly made up of junk.

As a life coach, it’s my business to help clients release stored up junk. We do this by recognizing that they have a choice in whether to keep their painful stories or not.

The first step is questioning its truth. Then, I ask them probing questions to uncover the large cost of the thought on their mental and emotional health, behavior, relationships, and even the relationship they have with themselves.

Once they feel and understand the true cost, we explore what might be different without it. If they were to delete the junk photos of their past and future fears that are emblazoned on their mind, how would their behavior, emotions and interactions be different?

Oh the freedom found here!

Then we look for alternate truths…alternate photos that they hadn’t looked at before.

And like a reverse Polaroid, the belief dissolves. The memory has been released from storage.

It’s a beautiful process, if you’re open to exploring it. If not, there’s always storage in the cloud. How much are you willing to pay to keep the junk photos?

If you’re curious about how Byron Katie’s The Work™ can help you dissolve your limiting beliefs, let’s talk!

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An Evening with Byron Katie…And New Friends

Byron Katie A Mind At Home With Itself

I was first introduced to Byron Katie’s work in 2009, when I read Martha Beck’s Steering By Starlight. In that book, Martha shared background on Katie, who in 1986 woke up from utter depression to complete enlightenment. Katie has since written books sharing about The Work and helped (quite literally) millions of people find peace from suffering. Reading Loving What Is changed my life.

The foundation of The Work is quite simple, yet has a depth so inconceivable that even Katie finds it impossible to find language that would do it justice. I’m not exaggerating. For months after her awakening, language was completely lost to her. She had to re-learn how to speak and even now, 30 years later, her husband Steven Mitchell translates “Katie speak” through her books that they co-author together and at her live speaking events.

As a Life Coach, we use The Work of Byron Katie to help our clients dissolve their painful thoughts. I hope to attend her 9-Day School for The Work at some point in the future. For now, I use self-inquiry about my own thoughts on a daily basis. When I saw that she was on a book tour for A Mind at Home with Itself and speaking in LA, I jumped at the chance to buy a ticket and experience her energy live.

You may recognize that I share fairly frequently about synchronicity. If you’re not familiar with the term, Carl Jung introduced it as a perceived meaningful coincidence. I don’t believe in coincidence, I believe there is a meaning behind everything and that all interactions between people and events is part of a greater, higher purpose. And where intention meets attention, synchronicity happens. As I personally become more awakened spiritually, I see more and more synchronicity happening in my life.

Given Southern California traffic, I decided to leave Huntington Beach at about 1:30 p.m. to be in LA by 3 p.m. and then explore the area around the Writers’ Guild Theatre in Beverly Hills until the event start at 7 p.m. I walked to Rodeo Drive and observed the tourists taking photos of the upscale, luxury brand retail stores that line the sparkling street that is Rodeo and Wilshire. I was fascinated by all the languages and expressions of awe and amazement at these grandiose buildings and window displays.

When my tummy started to gurgle, I stopped at a cafe where I was seated on the patio to eat an early dinner. No sooner did my spicy ahi tuna over crispy risotto arrive than two elder men sat down at the table next to me. The engaged in a very passionate conversation about organized religion and the pyramid of power struggle happening not only currently across the world, but how that has been the way throughout history. I almost dropped my fork. I have been showing people the following Martha Beck video about the Pool and the Pyramid for weeks…and here these gentlemen were expressing (almost word for word) how Martha has been describing the Pyramid.

Every cell in my body felt electric and I jumped into the conversation without even thinking. We then began a philosophical and spiritual discussion that lasted more than an hour. It was so energizing…and here were these two strangers who were completely open to engaging on that level, which probably doesn’t happen very frequently in LA-LA-Land. (That is a judgment on my part that I will do The Work on when this is done.)

Still buzzing from this conversation, I walked back to the Writers’ Guild Theatre lighter and floating. I reached the entry doors to the theatre at 5:30 and they wouldn’t let guests in to the sold-out event until 6 p.m. So I sat myself down on the steps in front of the doors and watched the bustle of people walking by. I noticed three women who were also early and looking for where to get into the theatre, so I chimed in with letting them know what I had learned from one of the staff members. They decided to join me on the steps and the line formed around us.

“So how were you introduced to Byron Katie?” I asked them.

“From a friend,” one woman (I’m forgetting her name, please forgive me)said.

“I was introduced through Martha Beck,” said the second woman (Leigha).

I gave her a high five and said, “Me too!”

“Oh really?” Leigha asked. “How so?”

“I’m in her Life Coach Training course,” I said.

“Me too!” she responded. (If you want to check her out: Leigha May Coaching )

We then began excitedly sharing our own stories on how we’d come to pursue Life Coaching, which co-horts we were in, etc. I was so pumped to be experiencing this with another tribe member!

With my three newfound friends, we sat together and continued sharing about other books and authors…various forms of meditation…and then the first woman shared how she loves doing new things. How she describes herself as an explorer and always wants to go and do something new. She added that it doesn’t have to be big and profound, that even the small things are impactful and exciting and a way to continue to grow as a person.

Once again, I’m fairly sure my jaw dropped before I shared:

“Me too! I have challenged myself to do one new thing per day that I have never done before. I started on August 21 and I am thankfully still going.”

“You should blog about it,” Leigha said.

“I do! Elation Explorer dot com,” I said.

Then we all shared about the new experiences we’ve had lately due to this philosophy of saying yes and being willing to put ourselves out there.

I cannot make this kind of stuff up. I promise you, this was too surreal. And we hadn’t even experienced Katie speak yet!

Katie is as advertised. You can feel even as an audience member that she is warm, compassionate, loving and completely out of her mind (in the best way possible). She absolutely is challenged in finding words and is so completely in the present moment that what was shared even a second ago has left her. So much so that her husband is “herding a cat” (his own words) when they do these events. She begins one task and then goes somewhere else and he’ll redirect it back to the agenda.

“This is our second night of the book tour,” Mitchell began. “We had planned for her to read the whole chapter 12, and she only got through half. Tonight we got about one third of the way through. By the end, we may be down to a few words.”

Mitchell opened the event with sharing background on why and how this latest book was created. He, and other students of Buddhism, have been challenged in translating the Diamond Sutra because all other languages don’t have the words to express the meaning behind it. It is so abstract and heavy that most give up after a few chapters. Mitchell took on the challenge by getting Katie’s unique perspective on it in her own translation of it from her enlightened mind. From these “Katie-isms” of nuggets, Mitchell would then translate them and the end result is A Mind at Home with Itself.

Most of the two-hour long event was Katie answering questions from the audience, of which many were associated with the hosting organization Insight LA. Some brilliant questions were asked and Katie opened my mind up even more to the meaning behind asking “Is it true?”

When she explains how even when we are replaying moments from a millisecond ago, we are separate from ourselves and the present, you “get it.” How her husband is the person in front of her now, not the man he was this morning or yesterday or even 10 years ago. She is so present and you can see from observing her that whoever is speaking, she is completely focused on that person and present. There is nothing happening in her mind, no distraction. Complete centeredness and presence.

She is extraordinary and there is no faking how real her enlightenment is and how purely she loves and feels she is everyone and everyone is her. I’m even more determined to go to the 9-Day School for The Work and continue this awakening and existence in the present.