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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Dare to Dream the Impossible Dream: Surviving Difficult Times

'Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs are people who have come alive.'  Howard Thurman

A Dream of Hope   

Do you ever have dreams that profoundly affect you? I do. 

One night I dreamt I allowed myself to be killed over and over again to show others how I came alive again. Although I died again and again in the dream, it was in fact a dream of hope--not a morbid one—and that's why it had such a profound effect on me.

At the time I had been contemplating how I might help people who were laid-off and unemployed maintain hope for their future.

'What was the secret to turning around feelings of hopelessness so people beat down by life could reemerge victorious and fully involved in life?'

What I realized was my dream showed me the answer to how I maintain my own ability to thrive despite discouraging times--

'When I am 'deadened by life experiences' I refocus my attention away from the deadening experiences and put it back on things that make me come alive. By choosing to be among 'the living' again, I reemerge triumphantly and show others I have come alive again.'

Within You is the Desire to Serve the World FULLALIVE

Sure, your life difficulties and this slowly recovering economy can still make you feel like a quivering bowl of Jell-O--stuck in indecisiveness and failing to act because you don't know what the right step is that will work out for you.

But here's the thing--within you is a desire to serve the world--
FULLALIVE--using your unique skills and talents. But what are they and how do you access them when you feel deadened by your current circumstances?

What makes you feel FULLY ALIVE?

When you're in the midst of dealing with major life issues--like caring for aging parents, dealing with divorce, being laid off, or graduating from college into a poor job market--it creates an emotional cloud around your thinking. Trying to make logical, rational or heart-felt decisions about your purpose or life calling can feel like you're asking the black 8-ball a question and getting 'reply hazy, try again'. It can feel like an impossible task.

This is when you must choose to actively take steps to rediscover your passion.

Everything is (SECRETLY) okay

Have Faith in Your Inner Wisdom--and Take a Step

Act as If: When your senses are numbed have faith in your inner wisdom to shines a light on the path that makes you come alive--then act as if--and take a step. 

Trust, but Verify: This is a variation on 'trust, but verify' others. In this instance you trust your inner self to know your path--but you test the truth of that wisdom by taking action. You'll know soon enough if you want to continue down this path or choose another direction.

Life is an Experiment

All of life is an experiment. You start with a hypothesis--or idea of the truth about what makes you come alive--and you actively test your theory through taking practical steps to see if you indeed come alive by taking that path.

Are You Ready to Come Alive and Dream the Impossible Dream?  
  • Make an active choice to be back among the living.
  • Refocus your attention.
  • Act as if.
  • Trust, but verify.
  • Choose actions that show others you've come alive again.
  • Choose actions that show you care about life.

Dare to Dream the Impossible Dream During Difficult Times

Don't let your life experience keep you down. Dare to dream the impossible dream during difficult times. Choose to triumph over the obstacles that get in the way of you coming alive. You always have another step to take.

What Makes You Come Alive? 
  • What puts a twinkle in your eye?
  • What gets your blood boiling?
  • What makes your heart race?
  • What's something you'd really like to sink your teeth into?
  • What captures your mind's eye?

 'Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable.'   H.L. Mencken

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For more than 30 years, Susan Meyerott has been helping people lighten up and step over invisible barriers to change one step at a time. She speaks to your heart, puts you at ease, and makes changing easier than ever before.

If you're interested in learning more about closing the gap between where you are now and where you want to be, join the Lightarted Living mailing list. Sign up for free e-mail updates from this blog in the top right-hand corner of the page.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Heart Attack: Stress won't kill you, but not taking care of it might

Mindfulness Linked to Good Cardiovascular Health

Do you consider yourself a person who is aware and attentive to what you're thinking and feeling? Turns out a study from Brown University discovered a link between better cardiovascular health and people who are mindful of what they think and feel. 
That's great news for me--and I hope for you. I pride myself on being highly aware of what I'm thinking and feeling most of the time. And apparently most of the time is good enough...most of the time. 
According to the researchers, a high mindfulness score associated with better cardiovascular health is more about having good mind-body awareness most of the time than about our regularly practicing mindfulness exercises, like meditation. 

But why should this higher awareness of our thoughts and feelings produce better cardiovascular health?  In all probability it is related to our ability to better manage stress.

Some health professionals, me included, do not believe heart attacks are caused by clogged arteries, but are due instead to an imbalance between our sympathetic--or fight or flight nervous system--and our parasympathetic--or calming nervous system--due to chronic stress. 

In fact, researchers discovered a single intense incidence of anger results in an 8.5 times increased risk of having a heart attack in the two hours following the outburst.

Regardless of whether you believe stress is the cause of heart attacks or not, you cannot disregard the critical role chronic stress plays in setting you up for poor cardiovascular health. Stress causes inflammation in the body--a condition associated with increased risk for cardiovascular events. 

Without an awareness of how you're responding to daily stressful events, your body will continue to release adrenaline--the stress hormone--that keeps you in constant readiness for fight or flight while suppressing your calming hormones.

While stress won't kill you, failing to balance your fight or flight 'stress' system with your calming nervous system very well could.

Pride Comes Before the Fall--or is that Rise?

Unfortunately it never pays to be too smug or overconfident about how smart or aware you are--especially about things that concern your health! 

I know this first-hand as I am quite smug about how consciously I live my life and manage my stress. I pride myself on being a person who remains calm in the midst of stressful situations--always believing in my ability to handle whatever comes my way.

But you know the saying 'pride comes before the fall'? Well in my case I would say pride came before the rise. 

I recently experienced a concerning rise in my blood pressure that despite my best efforts to bring it back down, kept rising. As I had been sick for a month I thought perhaps that was the cause so I sought medical help and accepted a prescription for an additional blood pressure lowering medicine.

But as I often do, I observed what I revealed or failed to reveal in my medical appointment. I watched as I calmly and objectively reported all appropriate vital signs measured over the course of two weeks, clearly showing a sudden and sustained increase in blood pressure and heart rate. I heard myself describe the duration and symptoms of the illness and what I had done to get back to health. And I explored all factors I thought could contribute to a sudden rise in blood pressure--except the obvious one.

What I failed to report was the stress I was experiencing at work that was forcing me to consider quitting. In my defense, it wasn't until I was talking with the nurse practitioner that I even allowed myself to see an inkling of truth about the stress-factor. I was in denial--simply ignoring what I didn't want to see. 

When 'Most of the Time' isn't Good Enough
While being mindful most of the time is good enough most of the time--sometimes the belief we are better than others at recognizing and handling stress can blind us to an immediate situation causing our body to negatively react.

It is especially challenging to stay mindful of how you're reacting when you're in the middle of a stressful situation. 

And if like me you view yourself as someone who always handles your stress well, you too can ignore the mounting physical distress, and dismiss the effects the stress is creating in your body. That's when you need to call on your friends, family and body to help you see the obvious so you can take healthful actions.

Listen to Your Body and Seek Advice from Trusted Friends

Although I failed to acknowledge a link between my work stress to the sudden and sustained increase in blood pressure to my medical provider, just the act of making the appointment and exploring my options with her opened my eyes to the truth I didn't want to speak.

I felt an almost immediate release after I left the medical appointment--not because I had a prescription, but because I gave myself a glimpse of the truth. I suspected my blood pressure was going to go down all by itself now that I came to terms with what my body was telling me--and it has.

When your body tells you something is wrong, as mine did, that is the time to reach out to others who can help you see and state the truth. 

I made an appointment to deal with the blood pressure rise because my sister insisted I go--and after my appointment I confessed the obvious truth to her. And her response to my revelation the rising blood pressure was due to work issues? "Duh."
It is our bodies and our loved ones that can gently guide us past our denial so we can get back on a self aware path--if we're willing to listen.
Sometimes when we're in denial, we just need a nudge from our bodies and from others to point us in the right direction that we already knew we needed to go. 

3 Tips: Self Awareness For Cardiovascular Health 

Staying aware and attentive to your thoughts and feelings is an essential part of managing your stress and therefore your cardiovascular health. Sometimes that means knowing when to seek help from others, tracking your health markers, and taking actions to alleviate stress.

  • Seek friends and family advice
  • Visit your medical professional
  • Pay attention: track your blood pressure, blood sugar, sleep patterns.

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For more than 30 years, Susan Meyerott has been helping people lighten up and step over invisible barriers to change one step at a time. She speaks to your heart, puts you at ease, and makes changing easier than ever before.

If you're interested in learning more about closing the gap between where you are now and where you want to be, join the Lightarted Living mailing list. Sign up for free e-mail updates from this blog in the top right-hand corner of the page.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Letting Go: Lessons Learned from Rosemary and Rollie

Happy Birthday, Daddy!

Let Go and Walk Away from Drama

Rollie and Rosemary were two of the very best parents and role-models anyone could ask for! My father would have been 99 today if he hadn't passed away last year. 

Today I celebrate both of my parents for two lessons they taught us all the way to the end of their lives: Let Go and Walk Away from Drama. 

These life lessons are so aptly captured in the words of Marie Forleo and the poem by Reverend Safire Rose.

Rosemary--a mother with sparkling eyes and a joyful heart
She always made us laugh!

Walk Away from Drama and its Creators ~
Surround Yourself with People who make you Laugh

"There comes a time in your life, when you walk away
From all the drama and people who create it.
You surround yourself with people who make you laugh.
Forget the bad and focus on the good.
Love the people who treat you well, pray for the ones who don't.
Life is too short to be anything but happy.
Falling down is a part of life, getting back up is living."
Marie Forleo

Even in death, Rosemary and Rollie
showed us we can let go and softly move on.

She Let Go 
by Agape Minister, Rev. Safire Rose

She let go

Without a thought or a word, she let go.

She let go of fear. She let go of judgments. She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head.

She let go of the committee of indecision within her. She let go of all the 'right' reasons.

Wholly and completely, without hesitation or worry, she just let go.

She didn't ask anyone for advice. She didn't read a book on how to let go.

She just let go.

She let go of all the memories that held her back. She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward.

She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right. She didn't promise to let go. She didn't journal about it. She didn't write the projected date in her Day-Timer. She made no public announcement. She didn't check the weather report or read her daily horoscope.

She just let go.

She didn't analyze whether she should let go. She didn't call her friends to discuss the matter. She didn't utter one word.

She just let go.

No one was around when it happened. There was no applause or congratulations.

No one thanked her or praised her. No one noticed a thing. 

Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.

There was no effort. There was no struggle. It wasn't good. It wasn't bad.

It was what it was, and it is just that.

In the space of letting go, she let it all be. A small smile came over her face. A light breeze blew through her.

And the sun and the moon shone forevermore.

Here’s to giving ourselves the gift of letting go…

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For more than 30 years, Susan Meyerott has been helping people lighten up and step over invisible barriers to change one step at a time. She speaks to your heart, puts you at ease, and makes changing easier than ever before.

Do you know someone who could benefit from uplifting messages? Please share Lightarted Living with them. If you or someone you love is interested in learning more about closing the gap between where you are now and where you want to be, join the Lightarted Living mailing list. Sign up for free e-mail updates from this blog in the top right-hand corner of the page.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Bullies at Work: Deny, Deflect, Persist, Discredit

The Bully's Destructive Template:
Divide and Conquer

When Confronted, Don't Expect the Sociopath-Bully to Fess Up

In my twenties I had a relationship with a man who was also carrying on a concurrent relationship with a colleague I worked with on a daily basis. We never knew about his relationship with the other--each believing the stories he told us about why he was spending time with the other. He told me this very healthy-looking nineteen year old was very sick but didn't want anyone to know about it and he--a doctor--was helping her (She wasn't sick).

On the day we discovered the truth about his deceit and unconscionable lies we confronted him.  And what did he do? Did he break down and confess all? No, he masterfully threw a cloak of secrecy over the confrontation and continued the deception by pulling each of us aside to spread his lies about the other while using his charm to attempt to make each of us feel special. This was my introduction to the artful maneuverings of the sociopathic-narcissistic bully.

Deny, Deflect, Persist, Discredit

Sociopath bullies are not only found in the personal realm, they are also prevalent in organizations--and right out in plain sight for all to see.

Recently on the MSNBC Chris Hayes show, Jeffery Sonnenfeld, Senior Associate Dean for Leadership Studies at the Yale School of Management and Lester Crown Professor of Management Practice and co-author of 'FIRING BACK'  had this to say about former Hewlett-Packard CEO and Presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina:
'If I wasn't on t.v. I would say she had a sociopathic denial of reality. When confronted with the facts, first she denys, then she deflects. When we persist in questioning the truth, she discredits and attacks.'

Can You Avoid the Lure of the Charming Bully?
If there is a narcissistic bully in your midst you will be pulled into their game either as a charmed ally/follower or as a targeted person to attack, discredit, and bring down. There is no middle ground.
Narcissistic bullies are sociopaths without a conscience and without the ability to care. Despite giving the illusion of caring about others they are incapable of loving. They are narcissistic users and manipulators who can do a lot of damage to you and me--and to entire organizations and countries--when we succumb to their false charismatic charms. 

It doesn't matter how smart you are. You can be a very astute and intelligent person and still fall prey to the sociopathic bully's charm and deceptions. All of us--wise and gullible--need to learn how to protect ourselves from their destructive ways.
None of us are so wise we can avoid being pulled into a master manipulator's game. 

The ultimate question for those of us unknowingly brought into the bully's game:
How do we do damage control to our own integrity or self esteem once we've been brought into the game? How do we move forward keeping our best self intact? 

Seeing Past the Cloak of Secrecy and Deception

Protect Yourself: Recognize You're Dealing with a Sociopath
Question: 'Is she truly a sociopathic bully'?  How can I know for sure? Sure, I get that niggling feeling down in my gut, but how can I really know? She accomplishes so much and I personally haven't had a problem with her--she seems to like me.'
Answer: As George Bernard Shaw once said, 'No question is so difficult to answer as that to which the answer is obvious.'  
When things start to feel wrong and you can't quite put your finger on what that is--start looking for a unconscionable bully in your midst artfully spreading misinformation and discord in a game of divide and conquer to win in their personal game of control and domination. Then look for a pattern of deny, deflect, persist and discredit.

While it may be impossible to avoid the lure of the charming bully, it is possible to recognize the results of their destructive game--such as creating factions at work; denigrating comments about others; suspicion of others; conflict and unease; and being pulled into private conversations separate and apart from others.

Bullies can be so charming and and subtle in their destruction it can be difficult to see what they're doing. But learn to look beyond their initial engaging behavior to see the destruction and distrust around you so you can be on the alert for a destructive sociopath among you. 

What behaviors to look for in a bully: 
  • Playing the Games: Divide and conquer; control and domination
  • Divisive and Destructive: Discord now present where there was none.
  • Charm and Discredit: charming one person while discounting/discrediting the other. Going around some; engaging and charming others.
  • Leads through Manipulation rather than Motivation: Gets others to do their bidding.
  • Deny and Deflect: When confronted with truth/facts....deny, deny, deny.
  • Persistent: After being called on for destructive or deceptive behavior...he/she starts up again...persistent--never giving up the charge.
Beware: Ongoing underhanded and furtive behavior is hard to catch even after you've recognized it once.  Because we don't like to think poorly of others we may find ourselves just wanting to get on with things--and not wanting to get in the middle of 'someone else's fight'.

Letting Your Guard Down too Soon: Even after we recognize the bully for who he or she is, many of us let go of 'what we know' too soon, and let our guard down too quickly after we solve an immediate skirmish with the persistent bully. When we let down our guard, the charming narcissist regroups and attacks from another angle. 
'Relentless' is the bully's middle name.

Protect Yourself: Know You are NOT Special to Bullies 

When you're groomed as an ally rather than the target for the Bully, its easy to be seduced into believing you're special. 

The charming narcissist will tell you--you have special talents and invite you into her inner circle because of your 'leadership' qualities, while leading you to believe you're a notch above and different from everyone else. The ability of the narcissistic charmer to make you feel special and apart creates blinders that make it more difficult for you to see the bully's behavior for what it is: divisive and disruptive.

Remember, bullies have no true feelings as we know them. No matter how it looks--you are NOT special to them; you are merely a pawn in their game, not a favored person.

Regular rules of engagement do not work with bullies. What you see is NOT what you get with them. You can't just communicate 'as usual' or draw the usual conclusions when dealing with these master manipulators. They know you better than you know them and they'll manipulate your attitudes and actions.
If you're a kind-hearted, trusting person, the charming bullies know you want to communicate in an upfront, trusting manner--believing in the basic goodness of all-- and they'll use that against you. If you're naturally skeptic, the bully is artful at sizing you up and using that against you too. They simply play the game better than the rest of us.

Protect Yourself: Know the Difference Between Motivation and Manipulation

There is a subtle, but important difference between master motivators and master manipulators. They both 'inspire' you to do things. But motivators help you do what you want yourself to do, while manipulators get you to do what they want you to do.

Motivation: Getting others to do what they want themselves to do.

Manipulation: Getting others to do what you want them to do.

Ask yourself:

  • Are you being motivated or manipulated into action?
  • Do you find yourself withholding what you really think?
  • Are you uncomfortable about the direction the process or the conversation is going?
  • What do you think to say but fail to speak up about?
  • When you do speak up to get your thoughts on the table, are you listened to or ignored unless your suggestions are in alignment with the narcissist's?

Protect Yourself: Step Out of the Bully's Game by Acting on Your Core Values

Once you see the bully's behavior for what it is--commit to clean communication with all others--and consciously protect yourself and the organization or family by staying alert to the bully's self-centered intentions and sometimes charming, yet destructive methods.

When you check in with yourself to guide your actions by your own beliefs and goals it provides you the measuring stick you need to judge if you're being motivated or manipulated. 

Give yourself plenty of down time to examine your own core beliefs and values--and consciously act in ways that are closely aligned with them. Don't be bullied into doing someone else's bidding.

The only long-term effective way to step out of the bully's game is to have plenty of down-time to consider your beliefs and goals along the way so your actions can be internally driven. The more time you spend with narcissists, the more easily you're manipulated by them. 

There is overwhelming evidence that the higher the level of self-esteem, the more likely one will be to treat others with respect, kindness, and generosity.Nathaniel Branden

The Anti-Bully Team Communication 
and Conflict Style

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For more than 30 years, Susan Meyerott has been helping people lighten up and step over invisible barriers to change one step at a time. She speaks to your heart, puts you at ease, and makes changing easier than ever before.

If you're interested in learning more about closing the gap between where you are now and where you want to be, join the Lightarted Living mailing list. Sign up for free e-mail updates from this blog in the top right-hand corner of the page.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Betrayed and Bitter? Forgive and Let Go

'Life becomes easier when you learn to accept an apology you never got.'  Robert Brault

What Hurts?
  • Who or what has hurt or betrayed you?
  • What are you bitter about?
  • Where in your heart of hearts do you feel life has done you wrong?

We All Deal with the Downside of Life 

Sometimes life lets you down--that job you wanted that slipped through your fingers; that love interest who did you wrong; that organization that treated you poorly; that economy that failed you; or that friend who slighted you without apology.

Sure, things happen in life leaving you feeling betrayed and bitter. But don't let it keep you stuck--acknowledge and name what you're feeling--and sit in your sorrow for a while. When you're ready to brush yourself off and get back on top of the world, let it go and move on. Why? Because you're worth it.

You're Made of Strong Stuff 

Face it--you're made of strong stuff and you want to enjoy a fully-engaged life. You have what it takes to move through whatever challenge life presents you--and you're worthy of enjoying a rich, meaningful life.

Think about it--how is that hurt and bitterness you're harboring inside getting in the way of you engaging in or enjoying your life? What good things could you see in your life if you let these soul-killing feelings go?

  • Have you failed to apply for a job because you're bitter about the last job interview?
  • Did you fail to ask that new person out because the last one hurt you?
  •  Have you isolated yourself because you are hurt or bitter about how someone treated you? Have you refused invitations to get together with friends because you're home licking your wounds?
  • Is that bitterness about making less than you deserve getting in the way of you appreciating the good things in the job or zapping your energy to look for a better paying job?

Cleanse Yourself of  Hurt and Bitterness

When you consciously cleanse hard feelings out of your soul you make room for more uplifting and positive experiences to show up. 

You will see opportunities you were blind to when you stop wasting your energy nursing the hurt and bitterness. Stop stuffing and harboring your bitter feelings; cleanse them and move on.

'People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how character is built.'  Eleanor Roosevelt

Care Enough about Yourself to Forgive and Release Hard Feelings
Do you care enough about yourself to forgive and let go of the bitterness? Forgiving and letting go of the bitterness isn't about the other person or organization--it is about freeing yourself to take back your own power and sense of control.

The hardness and bitterness you hold on to takes away your power; forgiveness and letting the bitterness go gives you back your power. So stand tall, stay calm, and remember you have the power to move your life forward.

Affirm your desire to cleanse yourself of hurt and bitterness--and take a step toward doing something that fills you with feelings of self-worth, fulfillment, and connection to life and others. You are worth it. Do it now.

'Toss your dashed hopes not into a trash bin but into a drawer where you are likely to rummage some bright morning.' Robert Brault

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For more than 30 years, Susan Meyerott has been helping people lighten up and step over invisible barriers to change one step at a time. She speaks to your heart, puts you at ease, and makes changing easier than ever before.

If you're interested in learning more about closing the gap between where you are now and where you want to be, join the Lightarted Living mailing list. Sign up for free e-mail updates from this blog in the top right-hand corner of the page.