Lost Your Confidence?
Articles Inspirational articles from Hay House authors
Lost Your Confidence?Why you should stay in the game.
Raj was much more than a tennis coach. Since we’d begun working together in 2002, he’d become my mentor, friend, and counselor. Besides helping me tremendously with adapting my play to get the best I could out of my postcancer body, Raj was the person I turned to when I was frustrated with my career, family, or relationship. Over the course of those three years, I must have shown up crying at the court at least once a week.
Raj and I arrived in Auckland, New Zealand, in early 2005 so that I could play a warm-up tournament to the Australian Open. My regular tennis partner Lindsay wasn’t available for that week, so I played doubles with Jill Craybas, another player who worked with Raj. We played our first round at night and it was extremely cold and windy, which was always tough on my shoulder. I was uncomfortable, my shoulder was stiff, and I was serving one double fault after another. I didn’t have any feeling, strength, or confidence in my shoulder, or my play. Jill and I ended up losing to two unknown players, 6-4, in the third set.
The next day when I showed up to practice with Raj, I was as foul as foul could be. I was moping around, slamming balls into the fence for no reason, just generally pissed off at the world. Most of my close friends in tennis, with the notable exception of Lindsay, had retired by then. I felt completely alone, angry, and disappointed . . . and I had no desire to hide it.
Five minutes into practice, Raj stopped, turned to me and asked, “Okay, what’s going on with you?” I unloaded, bitching about anything and everything. I told him that I was absolutely miserable, was playing like crap, had lost all my confidence, and hated all things associated with tennis. I hated walking into the players’ lounge, I said, because I had no desire to see anyone. None of the women were really my friends—they were all these pro tennis players who were sheltered, pampered, narcissistic, and insulated in this unreal “bubble world” that had nothing to do with real life (never mind that I was one of those players myself). The rant continued for quite a while. I had completely lost my mind.
Raj finally replied, “Okay, I get it. But you might want to think about what you are putting into this equation.” He always had a way of calling me out and telling me the truth in a way that was rarely combative or belittling. And however reluctantly, I listened. He went on to explain that “people often respond to you in the way you are behaving toward them, and whole situations often unfold according to the way you view them going in.” He then ended his little talk by saying that he thought I was too emotional at that point to discuss the matter further. He wanted me to leave the practice, go back to my hotel room, and spend the day writing down exactly what I was feeling.
In a huff, I grudgingly agreed to do what he asked, and retired to my room, still full of rage. I sat down to write my thoughts, knocked out all of three sentences, and abandoned my assignment. “This is ridiculous,” I told myself. “I know exactly how I’m feeling. I’m f***ing pissed!”
A couple of hours later, having calmed down a little, I decided to have another go at it. And suddenly, my emotions came out like a flash flood. I started writing and crying and crying and writing, and the three sentences turned into three single-spaced pages of how, at age 26, I felt like a failure. In a short span of three years, I’d gone from feeling extremely proud that I’d survived leukemia and returned to professional tennis to the emotional state I was in now—demoralized, embittered, and almost ashamed that I was “just” a doubles player. I had completely bought into the attitude that an accomplished doubles player is somehow a lesser human being than an accomplished singles player. And I was even failing at that! I was humiliated and embarrassed.
I don’t think that I’d fully realized until that episode how much I’d attached my sense of self-worth to tennis, and probably had since age six. I always saw myself as a well-rounded person capable of having a rich life outside of tennis. But all parts of my life, even after my divorce from Andrew, remained completely entwined with this frustrating career. What did I keep coming back to after every injury? Tennis. I might not have been fully content in the tennis world after my leukemia, but it was comfortable, and I was scared to go outside of it. It was the only reality I had ever known.
Raj came to my room that night around ten, and I read him everything I’d written. He was, as always, incredibly supportive. He knew that I was in the middle of an important emotional shift, and he had the foresight not to rush it, not to push me just to get to a conclusion. He left me alone for a couple of days after that so I could cry out more of the pain and frustration of the last three years. I slowly came to terms with my situation, which was: I used to be able to serve with authority, but no longer. I used to be able to play singles with authority, but no longer. It was clearly time to let go of what I used to be capable of and make the best of what I could do now. This was Raj’s gentle advice as I mourned the loss of those skills, and it was advice that finally sunk in.
Raj himself put it slightly differently. “One of your real strengths,” he later told me, “is that you can actually look with an objective eye at what’s being said to you about you. When someone holds a mirror up to anyone, they rarely like what they see. You may not like it, but you will process it, take it in, and move away from that place.
Whatever happened in Auckland, it was genuinely cathartic for me. I was feeling much better about myself and playing better as a result. I had been relieved, at least temporarily, of my feelings of inadequacy.|23|survival,coaching,cancer,leukemia,champion,tennis,corina morariu|_none|1|corina_morariu| You Gotta Have Heart!|Attract the flow of love.|2/15/2010 17:00||0||
The heart is the central organ in the body, the life giver. A heart that is closed to minimize pain can become the catalyst for illness. Many people who show up in my ofﬁce with angina, arteriosclerosis, or other conditions related to the fourth chakra have unknowingly shut down their hearts to protect themselves. They may not remember when or how they shut down, but the price they pay is high.
As I slowly healed from an upbringing that wrenched my heart and almost destroyed my ability to love, I realized that I had to develop a new capacity. I began to test and explore the strength of my heart by unabashedly exposing it to the changes and growth playing out in my life. I regularly “took inventory” of my heart chakra to stay conscious about remaining open to loving and being loved.
If you are not attracting love into your life, you might ask yourself if your heart is truly open to love or if you are harboring and feeding old hurts. Taking personal inventory is a powerful way to see if your heart is open or closed.
Sit quietly with yourself and ask:
- What am I feeling?
- Where am I hurting?
- How am I holding love back?
- Why am I withholding love?
- Could I be more loving to others and myself?
- Do I think I need to be perfect to be loved?
- How could I love myself just as I am?
- What does self-acceptance look like to me?
- Have I isolated myself from others?
- Do I lack empathy or am I afraid of intimacy?
- Am I excessively drawn to others, in need of their approval and their love?
- Am I co-dependent, giving too much attention to the needs of others and not enough to my own?
- Am I enough now? If not, when will I be enough?
These explorations can help us evaluate imbalances in the fourth energy center. As we come to know ourselves better, the answers to these questions can help us know when, where, and how our hearts need healing.
Real love is an emotion of truth. Love has the power to heal all the wounds we may have suffered—if we allow it to ﬂow.|23|heart chakra,healthy living,fourth chakra,law of attraction,heart,deborah king|_none|1|deborah_king| Go the Extra Mile |Saying thanks uplifts our hearts.|2/22/2010 17:00|public://imports/1178.jpg|0|public://imports/1178.jpg|
My partner, Elizabeth, and I were recently driving to visit our families in Scotland when we stopped at a restaurant to have breakfast. We were both a little tired because we’d left really early in the morning and, due to being very busy in the few days leading up to our trip, we hadn’t had very much sleep…but the fatigue left us when we encountered the woman who served us. She was working behind a long counter and got us our order before we moved along down the line to pay. She greeted us with a warm smile and some friendly comments, and her genuinely kind and positive attitude was like a refreshing shower. I think she could tell that we were feeling tired because she gave us an extra large portion of breakfast to accompany the big portion of joy, which was just what we needed. Within a few seconds, Elizabeth and I were feeling much better, and we hadn’t even eaten yet!
When we got to our table and tucked into our meals, I noticed a feedback form featuring a new initiative being run by the restaurant that was called “Go that Extra Mile.” The form gave customers the opportunity to comment if a staff member had gone that extra mile in providing good service. Since we had just experienced great service, we happily filled out the form.
However, when prompted to include the staff member’s name along with the time and date, we realized that we hadn’t noticed the woman’s name. We went back to the counter and tried to read her name tag—the problem was that the restaurant was filling up and she was quite busy, so we just couldn’t see her name.
At this point, I have to admit that we thought of leaving, because it was a little bit uncomfortable to be standing alongside a line of hungry people, some of whom thought that we were trying to cut in. But in life, love often stretches and presents us with opportunities to burst out of our comfort zones. We either act on these opportunities and grow a bit more, or we walk away and wait for another one to present itself.
I decided to shout across to the woman and ask her name. I told her that I was filling out the feedback form and that we were really grateful for the way she’d made us feel when we had arrived earlier. Right then, her face just glowed and her smile almost stretched the full width of her face. I suddenly felt inspired to point out the form to some of the customers in line, too. I said, “Doesn’t she have a lovely smile? What a great way to be served…with a smile!” And before I knew it, they were all smiling.
Then, as fortune would have it, the woman’s manager appeared. I was on a roll now and had no intentions of stopping. I told her what I’d written on the form, right in front of the woman and the customers. The manager’s smile suddenly broke through, too. And none of the customers seemed to care that I was momentarily keeping them from their meals. This was a little moment of magic, and everyone was participating in it—I don’t think anyone wanted to interrupt.
The manager said it was a great pleasure to receive some positive feedback; apparently we had been the first. She said that all they’d received so far was complaints, so it was really special to receive positive comments, especially in such a personal way.
I’m sure that many customers had been pleased with their service in the past but hadn’t bothered to say so. Isn’t it funny how most people reserve their feedback until they have something negative to say? How many individuals do you know who send a card to a restaurant when they’ve had a nice meal, just to say thanks? But how many complain when a meal doesn’t meet their expectations?
In the absence of some form of positive feedback, people don’t realize what a great job they’re doing or what a gift their job is to others. We deprive them of knowing this, and I think it’s up to us to tell them.
I’ve said on many occasions that those who complain have the loudest voices. Too often, things are changed to suit the minority because those who frequently make their displeasures known usually create a big fuss. I think it’s about time that we start to show more gratitude in the world. Let’s make a fuss about the good things. Let gratitude have the loudest voice so that things change for the better. I feel that we could make a huge difference in others’ lives, and our own, by going that extra mile to say or do something really nice for someone. Don’t wait until something bothers you before you offer feedback.
And have you ever noticed how good it makes you feel when you do something nice for another person? After that experience in the restaurant, I felt on top of the world. Amazing, isn’t it? One simple act of kindness had the power to radically change Elizabeth’s mood, my mood, and how we felt about the world; it also inspired good feelings in a staff member, her manager, and a whole line of strangers as well.|1|appreciation,gratitude,service,kindness,david hamilton|_none|1|david_r_hamilton_phd| Five Forms of Service |Can you help save the world?|2/16/2010 17:00|public://imports/1126.jpg|0|public://imports/1126.jpg|
How exactly do you become a midwife in the rebirth that is now beginning in our world? I believe that it is by making a steady commitment to combine five interlinked forms of service—service to the Divine, service to yourself as an instrument of the Divine, service to all sentient beings in your life, service to your local community, and service to the global community. Think of these five forms of service as the five fingers of your hand stretched out to bless and help the world.
- Service to the Divine
Without constant Divine help, grace, illumination, and strength, no one can be a Sacred Activist, especially in a world as challenging as ours. So turn to the Divine in whatever way you imagine it and serve it in devotion and adoration and gratitude and praise, asking it constantly and humbly to illuminate your mind with sacred wisdom, keep your heart on fire with a passion of compassion for all beings, and keep filling your body with sacred energy for whatever work it calls you to do in the world.
- Service to Yourself as an Instrument of the Divine
A Sacred Activist wants to be as healthy and strong as possible to do the work. For most Sacred Activists the greatest challenge is to look after the body. Many of us have inherited a belief that the body is inferior, something we have to compel to do the will of our heart and spirit. This is a great mistake. Father Bede once said to me, “Imagine that God is a great musician and that you are a flute He wants to play the most glorious music on. If the stops of your flute are filled with mud, how can the music that is meant to be played through you sound at all?” If you honor the need to serve yourself as an instrument of the Divine, you will discover, over time, that you will have far more compassionate and healthy energy to give to your work in the world.
- Service to all Sentient Beings in Your Life
I was walking once with Father Bede and he said to me, “Everything would change if only we could treat every single being we meet, animal or human, as who they really are—a disguise of God.” The service of all sentient beings as being disguises of God is, I believe, one of the great healing powers of Sacred Activism. Performing it humbly in the heart of life allows you to experience more and more strongly three related forces that will strengthen and inspire you—the force of your own innate compassion, the force of the Divine Presence in every being, and the force of the Divine Presence in reality. Service to all sentient beings starts with your family, friends, and pets. Make a commitment to remember that those whom you deal with intimately are all secretly divine.
- Service to Your Local Community
Nothing is more important than restoring public service in our communities. Modern life separates us from each other, and this increases suffering immeasurably. It has never been more essential for all of us to recognize that we are all in the same boat, that our local communities reflect the emotional, physical, social, political, financial problems of the larger world. Think globally, but act locally. I recommend that you follow your heartbreak—determine which one of all the causes in the world really breaks your heart. Once you have identified this cause, act immediately in your local community, so your heartbreak doesn’t remain abstract but becomes a living force of practical compassion in your daily world.
- Service to the Global Community
In our present world crisis, every single human being from every walk of life is in danger, and each choice we make affects everyone else. The only possible response to this acute interconnectedness is what the Dalai Lama calls “universal responsibility”: the decision to be conscious in the core of our lives of the effect all our choices have on every other being, and so to make all of our choices—economic, social, political—congruent with our most compassionate beliefs.
“God Spede” was once a common Old English blessing used by friends and travelers. It is out of fashion now, heard only in classic black-and-white films featuring musketeers, heroes of war, and kings and queens. If “God Spede” were still used today, it would mean “live as fast as you can,” “work as quickly as possible,” and “don’t stop till you get there.” But in Old English, “God Spede” did not mean “fast”; it meant to “prosper,” “be wise,” and enjoy “the highest success.” The word spede is from the Old English spedan, which means “success.”
Once when I was in London giving a talk on Success Intelligence, I hailed a taxi to take me from Trafalgar Square to Paddington Station. The interior of the taxi was decorated with inspirational sayings like “You must be the change you want to see in the world” (Gandhi), “Each day provides its own gifts” (Martial), and “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). There was also a “God Spede” sticker with a picture of an angel sitting in repose.
I told the driver how much I appreciated the words of wisdom in his taxi. “Thank you for noticing,” he said. We talked about the Manic Society and the need to slow down from time to time. He said, “Most people think this taxi is an ambulance. They act like everything is a life-or-death emergency. I should fix a siren on my roof.” My taxi driver told me he drives for ten hours a day in London and never logs more than 80 miles. “Everyone is in a hurry and the fastest we go is eight miles an hour. It’s bloody madness,” he said. As we said farewell, we wished each other “God Spede.”
The “paradox of fast” is that doing things fast isn’t always the quickest way to success. “Fast” has its advantages when used appropriately, but it is not the only strategy for success. Success Intelligence appreciates the importance of fast and slow, movement and stillness, pursuit and pause, action and rest. The wisdom of fast is knowing when and how to change gears, because living fast does not guarantee quicker happiness and working fast does not guarantee more quality. Success requires a strategic balance between fast and slow. Think about it:
- Are the best musicians those who can play their instruments fastest?
- Are the best actors the ones who can say their lines the quickest?
- Are the wisest people you know the fastest thinkers?
- Do the best golfers swing their clubs faster than the rest?
- Do the best athletes force the pace from the front for the entire race?
- Are the best leaders the ones who have had overnight success?
- Are the best companies the ones that grow the quickest?
- Do the best friendships develop fastest?
- Are the most successful people on the planet always in a hurry?
Success Intelligence is knowing when to go fast and when to take things slowly. The ability to go fast becomes counterproductive when you try to do everything fast. The joy of slow teaches you to discern between busyness and wisdom, effort and grace, progress and truth. Slowing down can help you to stay true to your vision during the fast times. Slowing down can help you to sharpen your focus, adjust any blurring, and be more perceptive. In fact, going slow can help you to go fast better.|23|pacing,wisdom,timing,balance,success,robert holden|_none|1|robert_holden_phd| Are You Living with Power Vampires?|Get rid of those suckers!|2/18/2010 17:00|public://imports/1184.jpg|0|public://imports/1184.jpg|
Are you living with power vampires? Also called phantom loads, power vampires come from electrical devices that suck electricity even when we think they’re turned off. Video recorders, coffeemakers, computers, printers, television sets, and wall warts (AC adaptors) are the biggest suckers. As stated in the article “Energy Savers the Real Stars,” published by The Christchurch Press: “The consumption of hidden power vampires in the U.S. is said to equal the electricity output of 17 nuclear power plants.”
Here are a number of ways to stop power vampires. Choose whichever method is easiest for you to use and you’ll stand a much better chance of closing your phantom leaks.
- Unplug wall warts. The easy way to tell if a wall wart or power cube is sucking hidden power is to touch it. If it’s warm to the touch, it’s using electricity 24/7, just like a leaky faucet drips water down the drain. Some items, such as cordless vacuums and razors, can simply be unplugged when you’re not using them.
- Use switched plugs. Many rooms, especially in older homes, have an electrical outlet controlled by a switch (usually at the room entrance). Run an extension cord or power strip (that you can hide behind furniture) and plug all your appliances and wall cubes into that switched plug. When you’re not using the equipment, turn it off at the wall switch. A lamp plugged in to that same plug (with a CFL or LED bulb, of course) will be a visual reminder when your power is on.
- Pick up some power strips. Plug your appliances into an easily accessible power strip and simply shut off the strip when you don’t need those items. This tends to work better in the garage or an industrial or loft space where aesthetics aren’t an issue.
- Check out a smart strip. Basically a power strip with a little brain, the smart strip knows when you’ve shut down an appliance and cuts power to everything in the strip. These are great for computers and printers. Some even come with different colored sockets that let you keep one or two items “hot” (such as a Wi-Fi router).
- Monitor your power with a watt saver. If you really want to know what that avocado green fridge in the garage is costing you each month, pick up a wattmeter. For about $30, this gadget plugs in between your appliance and the outlet. The wattmeter can tell you if your appliance has a phantom load, the monthly kilowatt use, and it will even convert that to dollars and cents. See www.wattsaver.com.
One Saturday evening we threw a party to celebrate several family birthdays at once. Since they were milestone birthdays, we decided to go all out for the event. We rented tables, hired a caterer, and asked a neighbor who owns Chicago’s top nightclub to serve as our DJ. Then we invited everyone we knew, ages 7 to 87, to join us…and we had a blast.
After dinner, the tables were removed, speakers were assembled, and our living room instantly became a disco. A friend named Terry brought his 83-year-old father, George; and George’s girlfriend, Thea, along with him to the party. The minute the music started, Thea jumped up and joined in the dancing. She danced with the same enthusiasm as the teenagers in the room did.
After the dancing died down and we were eating birthday cake, Thea came over to me, exulted. “That was so much fun—I forgot just how much I love to dance!” Then she tangoed back to George and gave him a bite of her cake and a kiss. It was clear that her Spirit was loving the party, and more important, she was loving herself without any reservations at all.
After the festivities were over and the house was returned to its normal appearance, I continued to think about what she’d said: “I forgot just how much I love to dance.” It’s true. We do so easily forget the things we love, the things that light up our Spirit and fill us with joy and self-love.
I know I do. I forget how much I cherish seeing my parents, going for bike rides with my husband, and meeting dear friends for lunch. I also fail to remember how much I love me, my life, and who I am when I engage in the things that are spiritually fulfilling to me.
Why is it that we’re able to forget the things we love the most that make us feel good about ourselves? Why don’t they seem to be priorities?
It’s because we’re indoctrinated to believe that it’s selfish to do things simply because they make us feel happy. It’s the good old American Puritan streak telling us that suffering is beneficial for the soul. I think that is balderdash.
Seeing Thea floating away on a cloud of pure joy and squeezing George’s hand in an outpouring of self-fulfilled affection, I was reminded how much connecting to what we love, and what loves us, is indispensable to the Spirit. It’s essential to our self-love and well-being.|5|spirit,soul,self-awareness,happiness,joy,self-love,sonia choquette|_none|1|sonia_choquette| Get Great Sleep|Basic tips for healthy snoozing.|2/20/2010 17:00|public://imports/1130.jpg|0|public://imports/1130.jpg|
Sleep is an elemental part of life. The average human being sleeps 6 to 8 hours a night, almost 50 hours a week, and more than 2,600 hours a year—about 182,000 hours during one’s life. That means, on average, that we spend almost 21 years of our lives asleep. The duration of our sleep and the quality of rest we achieve has a direct effect on our level of energy and our effectiveness during our waking hours. Without concentrated and reinvigorating durations of sleep, the quality of the remainder of our life—work, relationships, and other activities—can suffer dramatically.
Good sleep should be in rhythm with your daily life, but also with the universe. When your physiological and biological rhythms are in sync with nature’s—the movement of the earth, sun, moon, and stars; the cycle of the seasons, and the pull and push of the ocean tide—sleep becomes effortless. This type of naturally induced sleep produces an internal state of euphoria that’s both health promoting and rejuvenating.
Your body is the best pharmacy in the world. It makes natural healing substances that protect you from various illnesses. This pharmacy is strengthened when your body is in balance. Exercise, sleep, proper diet, and maintaining biological rhythms are all interconnected and dependent upon each other.
One of the best-kept secrets for restful, rejuvenating sleep is the quality of your experiences during the day. When you live each moment completely and fully appreciate the world around you, you do not accumulate stress; therefore, dynamic daily activity directly benefits the quality of your sleep.
Stress is the most frequent cause of disturbed sleep. Whenever you perceive physical or psychological threats or whenever you believe that your needs aren’t being met, you activate the stress response: Your blood pressure rises, your heart beats faster, your platelets get stickier, and you pump out stress hormones from your adrenal glands. Over time, these stress changes—in addition to causing restless sleep—can lead to hypertension, heart disease, and immune deficiencies.
The secret to good sleep is dynamic activity during the day, and the secret of dynamic activity is deep, restful sleep at night. The two go hand in hand. When this equilibrium is achieved, good sleep is effortless.
The most important fact about sleep is this: You cannot force yourself to sleep. You cannot command your body to sleep. You cannot will your body to sleep. It’s not possible to make yourself go to sleep in the same way you can make yourself run, exercise, read, or do any other voluntary activity.
Since insomnia is a very common problem, many people try to force themselves to sleep at one time or another. Sleep is a natural process, and “trying” will have no positive effect. In fact, it will probably aggravate the insomnia because the harder you try and less successful you are, the more frustrated you’ll feel. Trying is not the way in which nature functions.
It’s important to note that perhaps the single most important tip with respect to improving the quality of your sleep and rest is not to get uptight about things as you take steps to ensure that sleep becomes a natural and effortless aspect of the rhythm of your life.|6|stress,biological rhythm,healthy living,insomnia,sleep,deepak chopra|_none|1|deepak_chopra_md| The High Road|When four paths appear…|2/21/2010 17:00||0||
I always plucked a thistle and planted a flower when I thought a flower would grow.
— Abraham Lincoln
Imagine a man walking along a city street when a flowerpot falls from an apartment windowsill above and crashes at his feet, narrowly missing him. At this point the man has a choice of four paths of thought and action he might follow:
- The path of retaliation. He could dash up the stairs, find the owner of the potted plant, and punch him or chew him out.
- The victim path. He could see the experience as confirmation that life is dangerous, and things that could hurt him await at every turn. Then he might go home and hide or wear a hard hat for the rest of his life.
- The stoic path. He could decide, Well, I guess it was my karma for the flowerpot to miss me, and just keep walking.
- The high road. He could go to the flower shop on the corner, buy another potted plant, knock on the door of the owner of the plant that fell, and tell that person, “You may not know that you lost your plant. I thought you might like a replacement.”
Obviously the high road is the one that will bear the sweetest fruit for everyone concerned. At this moment you stand at a crossroads in your life where you must choose which path you will take. Keep thinking about your options until you discover what your high road is.
What choice now stands before you?
What would your high road be?
I choose the path that brings the deepest reward to me and everyone concerned.|1|choices,relationships,acts of kindness,positive thoughts,positive thinking,higher self,alan cohen|_none|1|alan_cohen| A Deeper Look at Stress|6 spiritual steps to help you cope.|2/23/2010 17:00|public://imports/1179.jpg|0|public://imports/1179.jpg|
Of all the things that people have in common around the world, stress and suffering rank at the top of the list. Regardless of how much you make, your age, looks, culture, or job, you likely do not escape frustration and aggravation with ease - it’s a part of being on planet Earth. Fortunately, we also share the ability to rise above these things, and in many cases we can even learn to heal the stress and suffering in our lives. Spiritual traditions have long been the refuge from stress with simple techniques and philosophies that can transform daily life.
It is easy to feel that stress and suffering are unavoidable or that somehow you are doomed to face them again and again. This helpless feeling stems from the mistaken assumption that our emotions need to drive our decisions and our lives. The strong emotions that create suffering are rooted in either hurts of the past or unfulfilled expectations of the present.
A spouse, friend, or boss who talks to you the way a parent did while in a cruel or impatient mood will trigger the same old feelings, as if you were a child encountering the hurt again. If you have an expectation that people should always be polite or that airplanes should always be on time or that traffic should not be heavy when you are late, then you will consistently encounter the stress of that disappointment.
A spiritual perspective says that emotions like anger, anxiety, and sadness are normal and need to be felt, but when it comes to making decisions and taking action, we need to look deeper. It is possible to be less driven by old hurts and release the tight grip on unrealistic expectations. Learning about the power of perception and the mind-body connection can turn everything around. Here are six timeless techniques for managing or ending stress and suffering.
- Breathe. When stress rises, the body moves in to a reaction mode: the body tightens, the mind races, and it is hard to gain a better perspective. Try taking some deep breaths. Breathe in through the nose, and instead of puffing your chest out, try imagining that you are sending the breath into your belly – push your stomach muscles out. Then, notice where you are tense or tight, and imagine you are breathing it all out your mouth, slowly and easily. When you are in a difficult moment, take at least 2 full minutes to be with your breath.
- Stick to the Facts. One way we create our experience of stress and suffering is through emotional ideas like worry and regret. Instead of keeping our attention in the present moment and focusing on the limited truth we know for certain, too often we spend our energy on worrying about things that haven’t happened, or we dwell on the past we regret. Remember, “sticking to the facts” doesn’t include judgments like “She’s wrong” or “He’s a fool” or “What if I lose my job?” Those are emotional ideas, not facts.
- Forgive. The cornerstone of most spiritual philosophies lies in learning to forgive. Forgiveness does not mean that you pretend you are not hurt by someone or something, nor does it mean you condone a cruel or harmful act. Forgiveness does mean that you are committed to letting go of the energy, stories, and actions you have become caught up in. Forgiveness means that you are committed to letting go and moving on. It doesn’t start with a feeling; it starts with a decision. Start by changing the way you act and think, and then, eventually, the feelings will follow.
- Learn from Everything. Another common spiritual perspective that transforms hard times is to look for the lesson in each situation life presents. Even the most unpleasant and unexpected situations can offer you a great chance to learn what to do better next time or what to avoid or heal in your life. This is about the power of optimism and the ability to take a disappointment and turn it into something that makes you a better person.
Failed relationships can teach you things like the importance of having clear boundaries, the importance of good communication, the importance of trust, or how to let go of self-doubt. A loss of work can open a door to find new opportunities, refine your focus on what gives you joy, or show you where you have things to improve.
- Set Inner Intentions. One of the biggest hooks that catches most people in life is attachment to outer goals and desires. Spiritual traditions have long been warning people about how dangerous it is to place all your hopes and intentions on wealth, sex, beauty, a dream house, and clothing. These things come and go and are based on things we cannot always control. Even the most wealthy find that possessions can be taken away at a moment’s notice, and the desires of life often go unfulfilled.
- Commit to a Spiritual Practice. A spiritual practice is a regular time out from life to do something that helps you to feel at peace, learn about yourself, and connect to a sense of what is important. It is a time apart from stress and helps put pain and loss in perspective. It could be taking a daily walk in nature (without cell phone), meditation before work, prayer before bed, yoga, Tai Chi, bible study, volunteering at the hospital, or working in a garden. The key is to make it regular, intentional, and a non-competitive, non-work related activity. It should last long enough that you get a real break from the rush and demands of life.
Hearing the title of this article reminds me of the song by Robert Palmer, by the same name Addicted to Love. When you recall Mr. Palmer's song you may remember that it is about the incredible feeling you have when you realize that you are in love and how wonderful it feels to be in love or become addicted to love.
What if you felt the intense feeling of love all of the time? Where you felt so much love that loving others was easy to do and you had a great love for yourself too? What kind of a day would you have? How would you affect others who came into contact with you? I'm quite certain, not only would you positively influence others; you'd also personally and positively benefit.
Most of us have some kind of addiction or addictions. Some addictions are positive and others not so positive. One of my personal addictions is an addiction for self- improvement. This addiction started 25 years ago, but I have no desire to eliminate it from my life. As a matter of fact, it is an addiction that serves me, and allows me to serve others. But, what if we developed an addiction to love?
My recent study has lead me to the understanding that we are all one. This is a very profound and powerful statement. Therefore, since we are all one, what if we focused on giving love to another? The result is quite simply that you will have love returned to you. That, of course, is not the reason you would do it, but it works with the law of cause and effect (for every action there is an equal reaction). What if we gave love (sent love) to every other. I'm not talking about physical or romantic love, but sending love to another can be done as simply as sending a loving thought (love energy) or smiling at another.
Debbie Heika, the Director of Operations for Dynamic Destinies recently shared with me her own personal love experience when she walked into her bank and stood in line to make a deposit. As she was standing in line she noticed one of the tellers was not particularly happy. Actually, she was bordering on being rude. This particular Teller would not smile nor warmly greet the customers and, in fact, she barely raised her head as she served each customer.
As Debbie was observing the Teller's behavior she also noticed how the customers were responding to this seemingly unhappy behavior, and quite frankly, people were not compassionate, nor were they patient. Rather than responding with warmth, the customers were equally grumpy and gruff with the Teller. Debbie, being an observer and a compassionate and loving woman, decided to (as Tony Robbins likes to say) break the Teller's emotional pattern. When it was Debbie's turn, she enthusiastically walked up to the Teller (there was no coincidence that Debbie landed at this Teller's window) and gave her a hearty warm hello and smiled (and quietly sent her love). The Teller responded with a curious half grin. Debbie then proceeded to compliment the woman on her choice in jewelry, and remarked about the glorious sunny spring-like day. Debbie initiated a friendly conversation and within a matter of 2 1/2 minutes totally influenced, in a positive way, this woman's state. By the time Debbie walked out the door, the Teller was smiling - something she failed to do for the 20 minutes that Debbie was in the bank lineup.
Debbie had a choice. She could have stood in line, watched the interactions with the Teller and the customers and chosen to get emotionally involved in the event in a negative and destructive way. But she chose differently. We are sometimes easily influenced by other people's behavior and we need to be aware of any negative influence on our emotion, and make sure we choose to BE loving.
A great testament to the entire premise of being loving is extremely well presented in Dr. Wayne Dyer's 8-CD audio program called It's Never Crowded Along The Extra Mile. Reid Tracy, the President of Hay House gave me a copy of this program when I visited their offices, and I've listened to the entire program multiple times. Wayne talks about sending love even when we don't feel compelled to do so. He shares his own personal experience of feeling challenged to send love, but truly believes in the Prayer of Saint Francis, which states Where there is hatred, let me sow love.”
From one of my other great teachers, Neale Donald Walsch, in his best-selling series Conversations With God, he shared one of the most profound solutions to any challenge you may ever be faced with. He gives us one of the most powerful 5-word questions you will ever hear. This is a question that you can ask yourself if you ever feel a need to react to someone else's unkind behavior. Here's the question: What would LOVE do now?
I suggest you paste that question on your refrigerator What would love do now? or write it out and tape it to your telephone, or put it on your computer screen as a screen saver. It IS one of the most powerful questions you will ever ask, and you'll find it is the only question you need to ask. You can ask this question the next time you feel challenged to respond to someone who, you feel, has wronged you. Rather than responding or reacting with unloving behavior, ask yourself the key question: What would love do now? And you'll know what to do next.
You see, love truly is ALL THERE IS. The Beatles sang a song with powerful lyrics . . . love is all there is . . . love is all there is . . . love is all there is. It's the truth (and as the saying goes) and the truth shall set you free.
Choose to BE a loving person. Send love to others. You can send love without saying a word. You can be stopped at a traffic light and glance over at the person in the car beside you, regardless of gender, race and age and send love. Send love even when you don't feel like it. You'll find the mere act of giving away love will make you feel better, too.
Remember, loving another also means to love yourself. Your first love is self-love. Love yourself, love another. Simply BE loving and you will have an abundance of love in your world!