Success-seekers, look back on adversity fondly…

Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents, which, in prosperous circumstances, would have lain dormant.
Horace (Roman poet during the reign of Augustus)

adversity
Often after facing adverse circumstances we naturally prefer to send them to the remotest corner of our memory and look on to brighter topics.

As we face our current goals, we sometimes may believe that we are missing much-needed strengths, or greater strengths, to reach our destinations faster and with more ease.

What if this is just an assumption that we have made because we haven’t taken a very close look at the strengths that were present and got us through our toughest times?  Some of the times can go quite far back, into our youth even.  Unprepared with adult skills and abilities, youths have no choice but to manifest some real strength of character during tough times.  All that strength is still lying dormant within.  It simply needs to be reclaimed.

Take some time to consider your weak spot, or weak spots one at a time, and think back throughout your life to difficult times when you have proved that you have whatever skill or strength is necessary to overcome your current challenge or challenges.  Parents and siblings can help you uncover blind-spots with this exercise so be sure to include them as well.  See what memories they have of you that impressed them.  No doubt they will have many…

If you feel you could benefit from extra help with uncovering forgotten strengths, I am always available and happy to assist you as well.

Nothing ever goes away until it teaches us what we need to know.

Pema Chodron

Keep well,

Susan

5 Things That You Should Know For Getting Through Times When You’re Feeling Really Down

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What you resists persists.  Carl Jung

It may seem counter-intuitive, but after a certain amount of distraction necessary to meet your daily obligations, further complete distractions however adaptive or dysfunctional, and yet effective, will prolong your suffering.  The only way out of these feelings is through.  That means letting yourself feel them fully without trying to escape.  You don’t need to do this for hours or days on end, that will become over-whelming and counterproductive, but they do need to have some time to just be there, because they are there anyway, whether you want them to be or not.  Take this time to figure out what they are trying to say to you.  Embrace those messages and yourself fully with compassion and understanding.  When you feel that the work is done then you can just let them be there without overthinking, over -analyzing, or resisting.  Just note the sensations, where they are, how they feel, and let them be.  That is the best way to let them go…

And be sure to give yourself time.  Who knows how long you are going to need to snap out of this.  It may be longer than last time, or not as long – no matter.  Give yourself the time – if you don’t it will just make things more difficult.  Remember the only way out is through, all the way through…

Avoid the Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda game

Would you kick a friend when they are down?  Would you kick your enemy when they are down?  The second option is debatable but I’m sure you get my point.  Avoid, at all costs, kicking yourself when you’re down.  Thoughts like “I could have done this sooner”, “I should have tried that”, “If only they would have I would have” are nothing more than hindsight.  It is true that hindsight is twenty-twenty but it does little to enhance the present.  When you find yourself tormenting yourself with thoughts like these, it is important to do what you can to get present and stay present.  That means staying out of the future too with thoughts like “Next time I’ll be sure to…” and so on and so forth.  Your peace and your power are always in the present.  Right now you need to find your center and find your sense of peace.  It is in the present and it is in a quiet mind.  Practice mindfulness throughout the day.  Set a bell on your smart phone to remind you once or twice an hour to come back to the present.  And be sure to meditate to find some peace and silence, and to find yourself within the pain.  Your true self will always be there waiting for you.  Take a nice long rest in this space and revive.

This too shall pass.

I realize that this adage may sound as cliche as can be, but it is true and it is wise.  I cannot promise you that you won’t feel this bad or worse ever again.  But what I can promise you is that at some point you will feel better.

Take some time to observe your thoughts in your mind and your feelings and emotions as sensations in your body.  Notice how quickly even they pass, lasting often less than ten seconds each.  Really take the time to do this and you will find encouragement.

Even as you cry notice that it rarely continues for more than a half hour or so.  For those of you afraid to cry hold onto this thought and do your best to let go and let those tears come.  Even if you think you might not be able to stop crying once you start, you will most definitely at some point be able to stop.  Crying is the best way to release the pain and you will find that you feel a much-earned and much-deserved sense of relief after doing so.

Reconsider Buddhism’s 4 Noble Truths

  1.  All life includes periods of suffering.
  2. Suffering exists from attachment and desires.
  3. Suffering ceases when attachment to desire ceases.
  4. Freedom from suffering is possible from practicing the Eightfold Path.

You don’t need to practice the Eightfold Path to benefit from these Noble Truths.  You don’t need to give up all attachment or desire either.  What is suggested is to consider how our extreme attachments and desires cause us pain.  If we hold things more lightly, wherein we are content with what arrives and not so distraught by what doesn’t, or what departs, we will not suffer as extremely as when we deny that our human lives are characterized by impermanence.  Things change, we change, people come into our lives and depart, the same with opportunities, the same with problems.  There will always be pain when we lose what we cherish, or fail to achieve what we desire, but suffering arises from our resistance to this fact of life.  We can’t escape the pain, but we can ease the  pain by avoiding the suffering that comes with clinging and resisting.  Hold all things lightly, and you will have peace at all times, even when you’re feeling down.

Do all things soothing.

This recommendation comes straight from me and basically means that until you feel better, don’t worry about the things that can wait.  Put them on hold.  Until you feel better do only what makes you feel calm, and soothed, nurtured, and taken care of.  This will be unique to you of course.  If you have a hard time thinking of what sorts of things this might be, imagine a perfect parent coming along and giving you exactly what you need right now – what would those things be?  Then give those things to yourself.  For me its a lot of reading and eating things I ate when I was little.  And in pajamas of course.  For another it might be a day or so playing video games.  For another person it might be a weekend getaway or a day on the golf-course, a day with the kids or a day volunteering.  Whatever is going to feed your soul is what you need to give to yourself.  And whatever you do, be sure to feel entitled to it because you absolutely are…

If you are feeling so down that you are not able to meet your daily obligations and/or you are contemplating harming yourself or suicide, please immediately contact me, another helping professional, your nearest hospital emergency room, or a trusted friend or family member for help.  You may dial 911 to obtain help or a phone number for a crisis line as well.

Keep well,

Susan

What is the Difference Between Confidence and Arrogance? It Is In the Minds of the Beholder…

CR7bI recently came across the question:  What is the difference between confidence and arrogance?  Without giving much thought to the exact definition of each word, I think most of us have noticed that confidence is seen as a positive trait that people admire, while arrogance is seen as a negative trait that turns many people off.

According to Dictionary.com, confidence is defined as:

  •  belief in oneself and one’s powers or abilities; self-confidence; self-reliance; assurance

According to the same source, arrogance is defined as:

  •  offensive display of superiority or self-importance; overbearing pride

If you look closely at the definition of confidence, it appears to be something that is felt within the individual to whom the term is applied.  It is their personal belief in their ability.

If you look closely at the definition of arrogance, you can see something else happening.  It includes the opinion of an observer.  For it to be an “offensive display”, it must be offensive to someone else.  It would not make sense for it to be offensive to the person making the display.  For the individual’s level of pride to be “overbearing”, it must be experienced that way by someone else.

Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.

Carl Jung

This question immediately brought to mind world-famous soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo as the perfect example for working through this distinction.  As a three time winner of the FIFA Ballon d’Or, he has been able to refer to himself as the best player in the world with complete confidence.  However, he is one of those professional athletes that people either love or hate, or love to hate, and he is often referred to as arrogant.

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I think many people who reach the pinnacle of their profession do so because they are very passionate people, and they bring that passion to their performance.  It will naturally follow then that during certain moments, for our present example, when Cristiano Ronaldo scores, we will see an explosive display of this passion.  And we often do.  It is during these moments that he is thought to appear the most arrogant, and has subsequently been deemed an arrogant person.

I think what people forget though, is that when Cristiano Ronaldo is on the field, he is at work.  He is working.  He is focused, he is determined, and he is not overly concerned about how he might appear to others.  I think that is as it should be.  That is a big part of what makes him successful.  He works hard, he believes in his ability with absolute confidence, and he’s excited and proud when he achieves the positive outcomes of his drive, dedication and persistence.

Does anyone every consider if he continues to behave like this when he is not in the role of “soccer player”, and instead is in the role of “friend”, “father”, “son”, “brother”, “diner”, “patron”, “customer”, etcetera.  It would be quite absurd if he did.  I find it highly unlikely.

Does anyone ever consider how often he cries when his vast ambition is thwarted or even awarded?  We see the same level of emotion as when he scores, but the tears suggest emotions that are completely inconsistent with arrogance.  We do not expect to see arrogant people crying in public.  I would assume that a person with an unassailable “offensive sense of superiority” and “overbearing pride” would be unperturbed by defeat or high honors.

CR7Euro

CRBallonD'OrWe all behave differently when we’re in our different roles.  We behave differently at work than we do with our children, and different still with our spouse, and different yet again with our friends.

I note in general, there is a tendency among the masses to want to find flaws in celebrities.  Stories and pictures of celebrities looking bad or messing up in some way are regularly brought to our immediate attention.  And they are regularly read, talked about, and often worst of all for the celebrity, never forgotten.  We do this with certain coworkers, friends, and family members as well.  What does it say about us that we get a secret, or sometimes not so secret satisfaction when others fail in some way?  What does it say about us that we so frequently choose to ignore a person’s redeeming qualities?

What others say about you is their reality, not yours.

Unknown

If only someone took the time to really think about their assumptions before committing to them, they would find an entirely different story.

Again, using our present example, Cristiano Ronaldo is known to be fun-loving and kind. He appears to be a true team-player, and his dedication to practice is admired by his coaches. He is a devoted father to his son and is very family oriented in general. He is known to write encouraging letters to children, to fight the crowd to ensure that a child rather than an adult will receive his jersey after the game. One has to merely look to find endless examples of a softer side to this player.

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And I believe that this is true for anyone. As humans, we all possess the potential to be temperamental at times, to be self-absorbed, to be insensitive to others, and to be arrogant. We also all possess the potential to be patient, selfless, and compassionate. No one is completely arrogant just as no one is completely perfect. Forgetting this, and assigning permanent labels to people limits the extent to which you can see humanity in this world. And that is a shame because humanity is one of the world’s most beautiful aspects.  We are all more alike than we are different, and we’re all on the same team.  Fundamentally, we all just want and deserve to be happy.  When we remember these facts everyone becomes a lot more likable.

Keep well,

Susan

 

Be the Change…

You must be the change you wish to see in the world.

Mahatma Gandhi

Today I write with recent tragedies that  have occurred in the United States on my mind.  It makes me feel sadness to see how so much fear, hate and anger does nothing but produce more of the same…  Very very valid feelings, but very destructive and counter-productive at the same time…

If I had the perfect solution I’d share it in an instant but I don’t.  The situation appears to be anything but simple.  But I cannot forget the progress that men like Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and Nelson Mandela have accomplished through peaceful protest.  Hopefully more people will remember them and follow their lead…  and that most definitely includes the police too…

I’d like to share an excerpt from the book A Lamp in the Darkness by Jack Kornfield.  It’s a very touching and true story that I think is particularly fitting at this point in time as it reminds everyone as Frankl said, everything can be taken from you but your freedom to choose how you will respond.

“One young boy, just fourteen years old, wanted to become part of an inner city gang.  In order to initiate himself into the gang, he went out and shot another teenager his own age.  He was subsequently caught and arrested for murder and, after a time, was brought to trial.  He was convicted and just before he was taken off to prison, the mother of the young man who’d been murdered stood up in the courtroom, looked him square in the eye, and said, “I’m gonna kill you.” And then he was led off in handcuffs.

While he was incarcerated, the mother of the young man who had been killed came to visit him.  He was shocked and surprised.  During her first visit she talked to him for a little while, and later she came back and brought him some things he needed – a little money to buy things in prison, some writing materials – and began to visit him regularly.  And over the next three or four years, as he served his sentence, she would come visit him regularly.

When the time came to be released, she asked him what he planned on doing when he got out of jail.  He had no idea.  “Where are you going to work?”  she asked him.  He didn’t know.  So she told him, “I’ve got a friend who has a little business – maybe you could get a job there.”  And then she asked, “Where are you gonna live?” And he said, “I don’t know.  I didn’t have much of a family even before I came in here.”  And she said, “Well, you can come and stay with me.  I’ve got a spare room.”  And so the young man moved into her home and began to work at the job that she had found for him.

After about six months, she called him into the living room, sat him down, and said,”I need to talk to you.”  He said, “Yes, ma’am.”  She looked at him and said, “Remember that day in court when you were convicted of murdering my only child?”  He said, “Yes, ma’am.”  She said, “Remember I stood up and I said, ‘I’m going to kill you’?”  He said, “Yes, ma’am.”  “Well, I have.  I set about changing you.  I came to visit you over and over and brought you things, and made friends with you.  And when you got out I took care of you and got you a job and a place to live, because I didn’t want the kind of boy who could coldly murder my son to still be alive on this Earth.  And I’ve done it.  You’re not that boy anymore.  But now I have no son and I’ve got no one and here you are and I wonder if you’d stay with me and live with me for a time.  I can finish raising you as my son and I’d like to adopt you if you’d let me.”  And she became the mother of her son’s killer, the mother he never had.”

Freedom is what you do with what’s been done to you.

Jean -Paul Sartre

Keep well,  Susan

Stare That Green-Eyed Monster Down…

O beware, my lord, of jealousy;  It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock the meat it feeds on.”

Shakespeare, Othello

This morning I unexpectedly found out a friend of mine is in Italy once again.  Third time in a year-and-a-half.  While I am happy for him, at the same time I find myself pea-green with envy.  I’ve been dying to return since I went for my first time almost six years ago now, but for one reason or another, or several, I have not yet been able to.

So what to do with these icky feelings I wasn’t expecting to encounter so early in the day?  I took a few moments to sit mindfully with them, to stare them down so to speak, to see what they had to say.

It comes as no surprise that I found desire, clinging, grasping.  I am a grasping type for sure, and Italy has a lot to offer this Buddhist sub-type.  Art, architecture, fountains, fashion, cars, beautiful objects and land to feast your eyes on…  And the food to feast your taste-buds on…  And the music for your ears…  And the beaches and the warm ocean for your touch…

Did I mention I really love Italy?  To that I extend self-acceptance.  And yes there is also sadness there that I have not yet been able to visit again.  To that I extend the only thing I can, self-compassion.  But to that feeling of sadness I also extend two other gifts – gratitude and motivation.

Gratitude that I have been fortunate enough to visit this wonderful place before.  And gratitude that my friends and so many people in the world are also free to visit there and enjoy everything it has to offer…  Gratitude that the country lives in peace and its wonders will most likely be preserved for generations to come…

As far as motivation, motivation to do what I can and will do to ensure that I keep on going after all of the things that bring my life joy, and meaning, and most importantly peace of mind…

Keep well,

Susan

 

 

Perspectives 4PeaceOfMind

I’ve just started a daily newsletter called Perspectives 4PeaceOfMind.  It will provide tips for maintaining peace of mind both as an end in itself, and also as a means to an end for accomplishing your goals and living a meaningful life.  It will also provide valuable offers for those interested in personal development.

If you’d like to subscribe click the following link and enter your e-mail.  For joining, you will also receive a free report:  5 Powerful Perspectives for Instant Peace of Mind.

Perspectives4PeaceOfMind

Have a great weekend and keep well,

Susan

 

Why You Should Take A Vacation Alone… At Least Just Once!

I recently returned from my third completely solo vacation.  Nothing too adventurous mind you, the first two times I went to Cozumel in Mexico, and this third time I went to Varadero in Cuba.  As you can tell, I’m a total beach bum, but a beach destination is not necessary to reap the benefits of travelling alone.

The first, and probably the most obvious benefit, is that you get to do whatever you want.  That may not sound like much, especially to those of you who are single and live alone.  I am also single and have lived alone most of my adult life but this is a different sense of being able to do whatever you want.  Being removed from your home and home-town eliminates an endless array of “shoulds” from your week – well I have so much free time, maybe I should do spring cleaning, maybe I should go visit relatives who live out of town, I probably should be exercising everyday, ecetera…  You have a sense of total freedom from all of your responsibilities that are everywhere you look when you’re at home.

On the other side of this coin, you are free to do things you probably wouldn’t do at home.  You certainly could, but you most likely wouldn’t because these aren’t things that most of us do at home.  Things like getting drunk every day, living off french fries for a week, dancing with your iPod as you as the warm waves lap at your feet as you gaze at a beautiful sunset…

For those of you who enjoy sightseeing, you can stare at what you want to for as long as you like.  For those of you who like to sample new cuisine, you can eat as much of everything as you like.  For those of you who prefer to meet people, talk to as many locals and/or fellow tourists as you like.  This kind of freedom is very relaxing.

You also get to do a good deal of people watching if that interests you at all.  I find this offers a benefit in terms of self-acceptance because you see the same types on people of vacation that you see at home.  Those that need to control the “group”.  Those that can’t relax.  Those that are incredibly fun-loving.  Those who have trouble setting limits.  Those that cannot tolerate the heat, crowds, walking, fill-in-the-blank…  Those who must compare the details of this vacation to ten others…  What you see clearly after a little time spent watching, is that everyone has their own way of being, everyone is on their own journey.  This brings a sense of compassion for the others and the self that we don’t always have time to cultivate and maintain in our busy day-to-day lives.  And this sense of compassion brings a wonderful sense of peace.

Another plus is that you really get to take a good look at what is present for you now that you’re removed from all the things that occur in your life on a daily or weekly basis.  Without any of your usual influences around, placing blame on anything outside yourself becomes impossible.  This is the real gem of solo travel.  Now that you can see what is still present, you have the chance to focus on it and get to the root of the problem within you.  You can come to some much needed insights, see your role in things much more clearly, and devise a much more effective strategy to address what you would like to eliminate.  Admitting to a problem is the best first step you can take.

I know this doesn’t sound like something fun to do on vacation.  But it’s not something that you need to ponder all day every day, or even ponder at all.  Just simply paying attention and tuning in to what’s present for you once or twice a day will reveal it to you.  And if vacation really is about getting relaxed, what better way to reap the benefits of vacation long-term than to discover a problem that has been eluding you, and then come home and find a way to put an end to it.

Keep Well,

Susan Rotella BA RPC

How to maintain peace with the crazy-makers in your life…

Unfortunately we all have them, people who rub us the wrong way, annoy us, infuriate us…  People who without even being aware of their power over us, can place a black moody storm cloud over our entire day…  We have them as friends, family members, relatives, in-laws, neighbors, coworkers, bosses, and if we are lucky enough to not have many or few of the aforementioned sort, then we have those that we share with thousands to millions of other people.  We find these dark clouds online and on the news – criminals, a certain presidential candidate, terrorists, etcetera…

We live in a world of relationships, and try as we might, unless we are willing to entirely isolate ourselves and lose out on all the good that relationships have to offer us, we are going to confront the bad from time to time.  We can’t always change these people.  It’s not our job or even our right.  Sometimes we can, but activism simply isn’t one of our values.  But they still have power over our thoughts, our mood, and sense of well being.  What can we do about this?

In general I recommend a regular daily practice of yoga, mindfulness and meditation.  Working with Acceptance and Commitment Therapy self-help manuals are a good route to developing a different relationship to your thoughts and mind as well.

Today though I am thinking of one book in particular.  It’s called Change Your Thoughts Change Your Life:  Living the Wisdon of the Tao by Wayne Dyer.

In my work as a law clerk, for many hours a week in am exposed to the thoughts and plans of people handling separation and divorce in what I consider the most dysfunctional ways.  I see dishonesty and deceit, vengefulness, selfishness, and greed on a daily basis.  And I see it run amok unchecked.  As a compassionate helping professional this wears on me greatly.  Fortunately I’ve embarked on a path of putting this work behind me, but until I reach the end of that path, and even once I do because we’re simply always going to encounter people making choices that we would not, Wayne Dyer’s book has been a lifesaver for learning understanding, patience and acceptance.

For those of your who are not spiritual, it may help you to think of the Tao instead as the Zero Point Field discussed by quantum physicists.  Even if you don’t take this approach, I still believe that you can easily filter out the light dogma and find some very useful words and advice for maintaining equanimity and peace of mind in the midst of all that might irk us in the world today…

Keep well,

Susan

Who me?

It was years ago, on the Oprah Winfrey show, when I first heard that it is good for the mind, body, soul, future prosperity, etcetera, to list things that we are grateful for each and every day.  Perhaps you have tried it before?  If so, you certainly have felt that instant mood-lift that such a simple exercise provides.  If you haven’t tried it before take a moment and try it now to feel that instant benefit.

If you’re in a rough patch in your life and find it difficult to come up with examples, just think of things as simple as your ability to read, the fact that you can access free self-help online, your freedom to believe with time and effort things will get better…

Today I was reading an article from the Chopra Center (www.chopra.com – a wonderful place to for finding self-improvement articles that focus on health and spirituality), entitled 12 Ways to Build Self-Trust.  I’ve pasted the link below for those of you interested in the whole article.

(http://www.chopra.com/ccl/how-to-cultivate-self-trust?j=28237605&e=susanrotella@yahoo.ca&l=1462048_HTML&u=347843177&mid=10914341&jb=3426&utm_source=Newsletter&utm_medium=Email&utm_content=CCL+Newsletter+160503&utm_campaign=Newsletter201653 )

The point that stuck out for me the most with this article was the writer’s suggestion that we regularly identify qualities that exist in ourselves that we are grateful for.

If someone was to ask me the most common issue my clients come to me for counselling/therapy with, I would have to say that people are far too hard on themselves – they carry guilt, shame,  and underdeveloped self-entitlement, self-compassion, self-confidence, self-esteem…

A gratitude practice is a perfect pick-me-up for a variety of problems, but a self-gratitude practice would be of even more benefit to people who struggle with the aforementioned issues – people who don’t recognize that they have every right to be in this world, and to be treated with decency the same as every other person.

To these people especially I recommend this daily gratitude practice, and to everyone really.  If you’re able to help yourself you’re further enabled to help others, and being able to help ourselves and others is something to be very grateful for…

Keep well…

Susan

You’re sure you don’t want any?

“The danger is not that the soul should doubt whether there is any bread, but that, by a lie, it should persuade itself that it is not hungry.”

Simone Weil

I think we’ve all been asked this question countless times, particularly when it comes to sharing food.  We’ve also come across similar questions when friends and family ask us to join them doing this, that or the other and we decline.  What doesn’t happen so often, is that someone will ask if you are sure that you do not want more from life.  How often does it happen that we even ask ourselves if we want more?

It is not uncommon to exit our formative years with our dreams and aspirations trampled out of our awareness by well-intentioned discouragement, an unsuccessful first attempt, and the thoughts of our very own minds.  Rather than endure the discomfort of taking a closer look at what has happened, dreams and aspirations are easy to let go of in the interest of protecting ourselves from the anguish of seemingly inevitable failure.  This becomes even easier to do when we have children and forget our own dreams and aspirations and instead wholeheartedly focus on theirs.  Life on the beaten path, a life that seems to be keeping up with those around you, gives a sense that life is just as it should be too.  And for many it truly is.

I’m writing to those of you for whom that spark of fire attached to a dream never extinguished and still burns.  To those of you who think that feeling okay most of the time is good enough.  To those of you who think its too late, you’re too old, you can’t afford it, you’re too busy, you’re too (fill in the blank) …

Remember, thoughts and beliefs are merely content of the mind.  Just because we have certain thoughts and beliefs, it does not mean that they are true.  And often they are not…

You can have a belief and still choose behaviors that contradict it.  You can look around and you’re sure to find evidence of other people contradicting your belief.  These are people who refuse to entertain negative or self-limiting beliefs.  These are the people who feel abundant and alive in adult life.  These are the people who are truly happy because these are the people who are living their passion in whatever way they can.

Find your way to feed that fire to bring passion and happiness back into your life.  Not only will you benefit, but your friends and family will be thrilled to see you back in the game.  You deserve this so take some…

Keep well,

Susan