#8 Make Decisions

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#8

Make Decisions

How decisive are you? Is it easy for you to set a course? To make decisions? To act? If you are not naturally decisive or you struggle to be so, the following suggestions may be helpful.

Information

Information is power. It is the cornerstone to making decisions because we can only act on what we know. The more you know, the more confident you will be in choosing. Do a little research – or a lot – depending on the intensity of the decision.

Pros and Cons

With every decision there are pros and cons, even small ones. Nothing is absolutely perfect. Sometimes, they are almost evenly balanced and its important to see your options clearly so outline them as gradually as possible.

Visualize

Take time to imagine each of the options; or at least the top three. Try to visualize how each of the decisions may play out in your life. Notice which option feels more intrinsic.

Remember

Remember that you’ve made decisions before and even if there are some bad ones in your past, there are more than likely many good ones as well. It’s important to recall that you have the ability to and the history of making good decisions.

Listen to Your Heart

If you can learn to be still and connect to your innermost self, any decision you have to make will be easier. We all have an intrinsic ‘knowing’ – some people call it an intuition or gut feeling. For most of us, it takes practice to connect to it; to feel it. Authentic decisions come from that place.

Practice

If you are are attempting to build your decision making skills, start small. Make decisions about dinner or what restaurant to go to. Build up to more permanent decisions like paint color or furniture purchases. Be prepared to make mistakes. Take small risks and reassess as need be.

Acceptance

Remember that once in awhile, you are likely to make a poor decision or one that you become dissatisfied with. It’s likely to be ok in the grand scheme of things. Forgive yourself and try again.

Learn not to be afraid and build your confidence about …

Making decisions.

TTAHListen to me on Try This at Home – a series of conversations about making life better.

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#78 Revisit Your Childhood Home

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#78

Revisit Your Childhood Home

Many of us go ‘home’ during the holiday’s and are reminded of childhood memories and the places they represent. Often, just driving past a movie theater or a diner will elicit fond memories of times past. Those places where we giggled over infatuations and had our first dates. The place we caught our first fish and the location of our our first kiss; all of the ‘firsts’ of childhood are there to induce one memory after another.

A trip down the memory lane of childhood can be beneficial on many fronts. It reminds us of where we came from. Sometimes, a little humility feels good. It can refresh our minds of a simpler time and allow us to reflect without all of the complications that have settled upon us since. When we are reminded where we came from we can make the effort to reconnect to that younger self; to remember our purest beginning.

Sharing the place it all started is fun. Children are humored by the stories we tell about a time they can only imagine. The enjoy getting to know the person behind mom, dad, aunt, or uncle. Our significant other can garner a better understanding of us if we are open to giving them a tour of our early selves. Often, moving through our childhood habitat allows them to gain insight about how we came to be who we are.

Going ‘home’ may ignite more memories than would be typical to have. It’s common for people, places, and things to stimulate a deeper memory bank and one often begets another. Before long, a flood of visions of your younger self will be moving through your mind.

Often, knocking on the door of the home you grew up in will introduce you to others who are sharing many of the same kind of memories. People have been known to offer tours of the house in its current state and are frequently quite curious about the history of those who came before them!

Some people don’t have great memories of home and may avoid going there. The benefit of closure is considerable if you can visit without reliving the pain or discomfort that may have been a part of your childhood. I recommend to clients that you prepare to watch the memories as if they were a movie with an arbitrary actor instead of personalizing the memory. This technique can be very healing, especially if you are with someone safe and supportive as you move through the recollections.

If you are going ‘home’ for the holidays, consider taking a significant other or a dear friend and …

Revisit your childhood home.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#93 Change Your Routine

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#93

Change Your Routine

Many of us work diligently to settle into a routine that offers comfort, stability, and predictability. Routines offer a sense of safety that is critical to the well-being of some people yet it can also be the crux of a rut. Especially when this is the case – it is necessary to change things up a bit and shift or redesign  your routine.

Break a Rut

After a while of doing the same thing day after day, life can feel monotonous. We begin to engage in daily tasks without much thought – allowing us to step out of the present moment and stop living in awareness. Changing our routine can break up that rut.

Memory

Changing your routine is a great way to exercise memory, an important activity as we age. When we challenge our mind to think – to be in the present and aware of what is happening – we are firing neurons that are necessary for memory function. It’s like greasing the gears.

Learning

Changing routines – discovering new ways to do things – helps us learn. It may be that there’s an easier and more efficient way to do something since that last time that we set the ball in motion. Learning new things – staying current and relevant – helps us remain connected to modern day to day activity; it can help us feel younger.

Details

Changing your routine doesn’t mean getting up at a different hour or taking a different train to work necessarily. It can mean eating with your left hand instead of your right. It can mean eating at a different hour. It can mean working out after work instead of before. Change doesn’t have to be a big inconvenience, it can be simple and subtle yet still make a difference.

If you’re in a rut, want to work your memory, or concerned that you’re getting left behind, an easy way to address any of those issues is to …

Change your routine.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#99 Step Back From Negativity

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#99

Step back from Negativity

Are there any ‘Debbie Downers’ in your life? Any Eeyore types? People who find the dark clouds in life and describe them in detail without ever looking at the liner? Have you ever noticed how you feel when you spend time in the company of these people?

Force Field

People often report feeling ‘drained’ after spending time with negative people. It’s not surprising. When we are exposed to negativity for any length of time, it can feel like an attack against our system. Our natural instinct is to defend against the negativity and so we spend subconscious energy blocking it. The longer we have to keep our shield up, the more exhausting it can become.

Negativity

Of course negative things happen and occasionally they are significant, rendering it almost impossible to distract our focus. It’s always important to be realistic and see things for what they are. Yet, the negativity being called out for the purpose of this post is generally finding and commenting on what’s wrong. It’s expecting the worse. It’s assumptive failure no matter the conditions. It’s a downright failure to seek the light.

Unhealthy

As it turns out – constant exposure to negativity is downright unhealthy. Negativity generally produces stress. Stress produces Cortisol. Elevated levels of Cortisol interfere with our immune function. Compromised immune systems are susceptible to disease, bacteria, and viruses. Negativity stunts creativity. Negativity exposure has also been demonstrated to decrease the power / effectiveness of the Hippocampus – the brain area responsible for reasoning and memory.

Limiting

It keeps us from taking risks necessary to invent, discover, and explore. It stifles our self confidence, our self esteem, and our perseverance. It is destructive to relationships. It destroys hope and encouragement. It’s almost impossible to feel happiness when covered in a shroud of negativity.

If you find yourself exposed to negativity that feels / seems unbalanced or overwhelming, set boundaries. Engage the tenets of self-care and create an exit strategy that allows you to …

Step back from negativity.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#124 Realign Your Priorities

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#124

Realign Your Priorities

Why do you do what you do? What are your priorities? Do your actions – your behaviors – demonstrate your priorities? Are you engaged in the activity that you say is the most important thing?

Define Your Priorities

When asked this question, people often respond family, friends, home, work, etc… and often in that order. (Many people put God ahead of them all). Yet, as I ask a client to describe their day to day lifestyle, there is often a discrepancy between what I heard described and the values they shared to begin with. If someone tells me that their family is the most important thing on Earth but then works sixty hours a week, they are demonstrating that it’s not ‘time’ with family but ‘providing for’ family is the priority. This is a great example of what one person says and what the other ‘hears’. Jack and Jill both ‘say’ that family is their number one priority but their actions/behaviors delineated that further by drilling down to ‘time with family’ and ‘providing for family’. Often – those specific values work in contradiction to one another.

We could drill down even further to examine the nuances of each by describing ‘time’ more specifically… is that weekends and soccer games? Or is it story time and date nights too? Does ‘providing for’ mean any old roof over our heads or does it mean 3000 square feet and quartz counter tops? Does it mean private school and full college tuition or public schools and grant money?

Work in Progress

The fact is, our priorities develop and morph over time. If we are good communicators who are present and who spend time ‘going deep’ with our partners, they stay in alignment both with our actions/behaviors, and in tandem with our partner. I find that this is rarely the case – at least with couples who seek therapy.

Lose Sight

I think many of us fail to remember to check in with ourselves from time to time – let alone with sour partners. In our crazy busy world where we are constantly seeking more, we get stuck on auto-pilot – somehow thinking that because we got on ‘this’ road, it will take us where we want to go without more direction checking on our part. We set course based on the information we have garnered – at – that – time. Along the way, there are distractions, chaos, change, temptations, etc…. And we often lose sight of their original objective or we adjust course and forget to share that information.

Back on Track

Getting realigned takes little more than some self-assessment, a discussion, and honesty. It means revisiting your values and priorities to be sure they are still valid and then assess our actions/behaviors to evaluate their efficiency toward manifesting the priority. If ‘(quantity) time’ with family is above all else, working 60 hour weeks isn’t the route to that goal and it will require an honest conversation to realign the priority or to realign the action/behavior so that they work in tandem with one another.

Good Habits

We see our doctor for an annual physical. WE get systematic reviews of our professional performance. Our corporations are assessed for proficiency and profitability on a regular basis. As an individual who is ultimately responsible for backing up our words with action – it’s imperative that we do the same. Make it at least an annual habit to take a step back and …

Realign your priorities.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#169 Memorize a Poem

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#169

Memorize a poem

Aside from “Roses are red…” and “Miss Mary Mac…” have you ever memorized a poem? Can you recall it now? Memorizing is good for your brain and poems are often good to practice because there is typically a cadence that makes it a little easier. It may be good for your spirit as well… the material we memorize sits a little further in our brains and becomes deep knowledge.

Repetition

Unsure of your ability to memorize? Think of all the song lyrics you know… you’ve memorized them without intent just by listening to the song over and over. Really, anything we do over and over can be implanted in our memory banks. Think of the church service you cantor without much forethought, or the pledge of your fraternal organization. Repetition is a key to memorizing.

Irish Blessing

My mother had a plaque above the kitchen sink that I often read as I washed dishes and I remember it now… decades later; The Irish Blessing:

May the road  rise to meet you,

May the wind be ever at your back.

May the sun shine warm upon  your face,

And the rains fall soft upon your fields.

And until we meet again,

May God hold you in the palm of his hand.

I encourage you to pick a poem from this list of Best Short Poems to Memorize or another that resonates with you, print it out, and tape it in a location that you can easily read it a couple times a day (computer desk, kitchen or bathroom mirror). Before long, you will have memorized the poem in its entirety.

Benefits

Memorizing a poem that you enjoy helps to build upon appreciation of artistic expression in general. The ‘artistry’ in the poem exposes you to language that may not be a part of your typical vernacular; expanding your vocabulary. It has the potential to expand your verbal and emotional intelligence which, are attributes associated with higher rates of well-being.

Take a short tour of the link above, visit the library, or think of a poet you’ve enjoyed in the past, pick out a verse, print it out, and …

Memorize a poem.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below

#176 Record Your Dreams

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#176

Record your dreams

Sleep experts tell us that everyone dreams. Do you remember yours? Psychoanalyst Jeffrey Sumber suggests that dreams are the communication avenue utilized by our subconscious and our conscious selves. He posits that dreams are quite meaningful and will often help us process complicated or confusing emotions in a state that is safe and private.

Ditch the dream ‘dictionary’

I know this postulation gives many of us pause as we recall some of the more bizarre dreams that when remembered – seem to come out of left field. Why in the world would I dream about…. ? We’ve all wondered that question. Dream analysis isn’t a fixed science even though many representations are made as such. While it may be common for people who dream about drowning to be overwhelmed in some area of their lives, it is an inferred meaning – not a ‘fact’.

Currently, all things that happen at an unconscious level are still mysteries and psychologists are only making best guesses at the origin, purpose, and meaning of unconscious events. Clearly, there is a growing body of commonalities yet with dreams especially – it’s a personal event that is as unique as the individual him or her self.

First Step

If you are seeking information about your dreams, the first step is to keep a dream journal on your nightstand. Why there? Many of us forget our dreams within moments of waking unless we wake in the middle of or right after a dream. If we don’t take steps to implant the memory of the dream, it disappears because our brain doesn’t’ consider it necessary information. (Similar to noticing the people next to you at dinner but unable to describe them hours later.) Immediately upon waking… breathe deeply and recall your last known imagery and then write down as many details as you can recall. Generally, as we write we will remember more.

Meaning

Pay particular attention to ‘feelings’ in a dream. If you are engaging in an activity – consider what meaning you give that activity. Who is with you? What is their roll in your life? As it relates to the meaning of your dream – YOU are the expert. You’re the only one who can ultimately decode the messages as they are being sent to you -via imagery – from your subconscious to your consciousness.

After you’ve recorded elements from a number of different dreams – look for commonalities. Identify the events during your conscious day that may correlate to elements in your dreams.

Self Awareness

In this manner, you’ll begin to decode messages or processing strategy that your subconscious mind is working with. It’s fascinating to discover another layer of your psyche and promotes an even deeper level of self-awareness — always a great thing. If you’re curious, get a notebook and begin by…

Recording your dreams.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below

#261 Remember When…

Sharing a daily life lesson, tip, or hack; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#261

Remember when…

This recommendation might sound a bit like the idea of savoring that I presented earlier but it’s a bit different in its goal. The idea here is to recall random shared memories of minor debacles when you are with another person with whom you have some history. Ideally, you’re thinking of a time that you can laugh about now. A time when you had solved a problem, survived a hazard, or preserved through a challenge.

The goal is laughter or at the very least, an appreciation for the lesson learned. It’s an opportunity to review a moment in time from another perspective and share a sense of satisfaction of a previous experience.

‘Remember when we got that flat tire and…’

‘Remember when I left the cake in the oven for an hour…’

‘Remember when we took the wrong bus…’

We all have countless recollections of mishaps and momentary errors in judgment that are retrospectively funny or immensely satisfying. Sometimes, just recalling the collection of awkward moments we shared with another strengthens our appreciation of their role in our life. It’s another type of walk down memory lane that can have you rolling on the floor laughing or being grateful that it is over now.

Pick up the phone today and share a blast from the past with an old friend or randomly bring it up at the dinner table tonight… “Hey honey…”

Remember when…

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

Such Diffidence

Continued from Going to the Mountain

“It’s not what you are that holds you back, it’s what you think you are
not.” ~Denis Waitley

The experience seeing one’s self, intrinsically knowing it is ‘you’, but not because you look like what you do in the mirror, but because there is a sense of familiarity that only comes from seeing your reflection, is surreal. There was no doubt in my mind that I was experiencing this vision in the first person. I sensed that the hands I was looking at were mine even though they were smaller and denser than the ones I was used to seeing. I was dark skinned, the color my mother would turn after a summer by the pool, a rich brown color. I was standing in the sand, outside, and the air was warm. I was wearing something rough in fiber but I couldn’t really identify what it was. There were small round buildings in the background with thatched looking roofs. In the distance, I could see a tall, dark-haired man and he was walking toward me. Again, I felt a sense of recognition, a realization that the large hunk walking toward me was my husband, my mate. He didn’t get close enough for me to look in his eyes but I knew that he protected me, that he loved me. I felt it. And then it was over.

In a group, large-scale regression you don’t get much more than short blips before the hypnotherapist is bringing everyone back to current time, to reality. There isn’t an opportunity to investigate the memory, only to experience it. It was the second time I had been regressed and I was absolutely amazed at the explicit cognizance it evoked. The vision in my mind was as genuinely real as the memory of what I had for dinner the night before. And yet, there was a part of me that was skeptical; a small part of my psyche that wondered about its validity. I stayed true to my self-promise that I remain open to all possibilities and allowed the doubting thought to pass by.

Dr. Weiss taught us that it wasn’t necessarily important whether or not our memories related to literal events, but to be open to what the memories were representative of… what insight they offered about our life here, now. Since we simply cannot prove their authenticity – or lack thereof – it is important to contemplate their relevance. I considered the short recollection I experienced and what was most dominant in that memory was how at peace I was. There was an overwhelming sentiment of comfort and of being loved. Why did that matter to me now? I couldn’t help but wonder and it set the stage for the rest of my week-long foray into regression work.

As I allude to in one of my very early posts Sand Castles, I grew up with relatively low self-esteem. It was masked by my need to please and my theatrical character, the one that believed it much safer to be in the world as someone else… pretending to embody the girl detective character Trixie Belden, the teen heroine of my favorite series of books when I was young. It was a huge oxymoron – I put myself ‘out there’ as confident and outgoing but inside my own mind, I was – always – fearful of judgment, of not being accepted, or more concisely… of being rejected. If I was the one to rule the room, then I could determine who I had eye contact with, who I paid attention to and when I should leave, and under what conditions. If I wasn’t ‘in charge’ or the focal point, then it was possible to be diminished or to be rebuked and that was my biggest fear. If I was leading the conversation or presenting, it appeared as if I could command the room but if I was just there – just present – then my preference was to blend in and go unnoticed. In that way, I could observe and find a safety net; perhaps a corner or a like-minded person, or a connection with the person in command. It is the one thing that most people truly don’t understand, believe, or know about me as I’ve spent fifty years now attempting to hide that insecurity. I am a wallflower inside. This feature about me was validated years ago by an Astrologist; my birth (sun) sign is a Leo (describes my ego) but my moon sign is Cancer (how I feel inside) and my rising sign is Libra (how others see me).  If you have any interest or knowledge in Astrology, and you know me – this will make sense.

With this information, it won’t come as a surprise that the minute we were released for lunch, I bolted out of the auditorium for the safety of open space and anonymity. I kept my eyes down and walked quickly whenever people were around although I do always smile and say hello when I occasionally meet someone’s eyes. The family style dining room was daring me to break through my shy – or avoidant – shell. I made my way quietly through the buffet line with Vegan options (way before I even knew what a Vegan was) searching futilely for something fried and greasy as I also quickly scanned the room for the least populated table. I was cornered into eating healthy or starve. And just so I’m clear… if the choice was tofu or starve… I would meditate through the hunger.

People were nice and I am not ignorant or rude, so if someone sat next to me or if someone was already at the table, then I would at least say hello. I, of course, would be happy to answer questions and keep a conversation going but I wasn’t going to be the originator. It just wasn’t in me and as soon as I finished eating, I’d smile, encourage them to enjoy the day, and leave to find a bench in the sun where I could daydream or read. If only they had served wine with meals…

The rest of that first day was Dr. Weiss taking volunteers and demonstrating full blown regressions. We watched two or three experiences that were completely debriefed afterward and I was almost spellbound. It was captivating and immensely interesting and I just wanted to know more and more. One of the volunteers was a guy that had sat next to me all day. I discovered that he was there for the second time, having attended a year ago. He was a therapist with an interest in using regression therapy in his practice. He seemed like a nice guy, tall and attractive, but wearing a gold wedding band. Oh well. After his demonstration, I was anxious to ask him a few questions but as soon as we broke, he was bombarded by other people. I was just one of a dozen who wanted to know more. Instead of standing my ground and listening as the ‘group’ formed, I backed away and threw on my invisibility cloak, walked back to my room and spent my night alone.

I reflected all evening on how absurd it was for me to be there, in the company of so many kindred spirits and not take full advantage of their curiosities and knowledge. I woke up Monday morning – my birthday – resolved to do something about this quirky ‘shyness’ that I was embodying. I began to be annoyed by it. With renewed commitment, I attended breakfast and asked to sit at a full table with only one open seat. “Is this seat taken?” I asked as I pulled out a chair… it seemed that everyone was involved in conversation intently enough that I was barely noticed. Ok, “it’s ok”, I said to myself. I looked up and kept a smile on my face attempting to make eye contact with people close enough in which to spark a conversation but no one else turned or acknowledged my presence. This wasn’t going to be easy.