Archive for the 'Personal interactions' Category

Are You Involved with a Dangerous Person?

wolf in sheeps clothing cartoon

You have had some painful experiences.  You suffered narcissistic abuse from a partner or you were targeted by a bully at work.   You didn’t see the warnings.   As is so often the case, this person treated you especially well at the start, and turned up the heat so slowly you barely noticed it.

Added to that, there’s a better than average chance that you grew up being taught to ignore bad behavior, tolerate boundary violations, and maybe coached to ignore your fears and worries.  There may have been conflicts explained away as,  “nothing to be afraid of.”   Perhaps obvious violations were denied, with, “your cousin would never do that!”     Your feelings could have been minimized with arguments like, “you don’t really hate your sister!”

However badly others tried to bend your reality and no matter how well meant they were, the good news is this:  your perceptions are still intact and probably very highly refined.

I’ve never met a target of abuse or bullying who didn’t have a very well tuned sensitivity to others, ranging to acute intuitive abilities.  You have exactly the skills you need to identify potentially dangerous relationships.

You just need to apply those perceptual skills and trust them!

Much of the time, it is really quite simple to identify a person who is dangerous to be around.  Good relationships feel good.  Bad relationships do not feel good.  If you frequently feel bad around a person, that is probably not a good relationship for you.

If you frequently feel bad around many people, it’s probably due to your own “stuff.”  The rule is still quite simple.  If you feel bad around someone, more than usual, or more than you do around anyone else, question why you would spend any more time with this person.

In personal interactions this is quite easy.  If you feel bad about the interactions, or confused by the behavior, shake the dust from your feet.  Move on.  It will not get better.

In professional interactions, this is not not always so easy.  You may find you are able to work quite well with someone you do not especially like, if the interaction is respectful.  On the other hand, you may, at least in the short run, have to work with someone who is very toxic.  Still, if a particular person causes you pain, start looking for ways to get out of the situation.

Those of us who have found most relationships painful, may argue that this is not realistic, but here is another bit of good news:  Good relationships are not particularly painful.

Good relationships are available, but you may not have held out for them if you don’t think they are possible.  If you wonder about this, watch for my next post which will give you reassurance that safe and rewarding relationships exist.

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Meeting my Anonymous Friend

In my post, Gifts from an Unknown Artist, I described the artful arrangement of natural items along a wooded path I like to walk.  Each time I walk along the river, someone has come before me, arranging limbs artistically, ornamenting a bare branch with pine cones or petals, or draping a flower or branch of berries over a stump.

On a recent walk, I stopped to photograph a red rosebud on a stump surrounded by a heart shaped arrangement of bark.  A passing dog walker said he had just seen the woman who creates this art.  Later, while noticing another of her creations, a different dog walker said the artist was up ahead on the path, and,  “If you hurry, you might catch up with her.”

I wasn’t sure I wanted to catch up with her.  Over the past year, I had intuited a great deal about this person and her work.  What if I didn’t like her?  What if she turned out to be shallow and was doing these things for a joke?  I didn’t want to risk disappointment.

Well, now I knew this artist was indeed a woman, and I had been certain of that. Although I thought it could be a hormonal teenager, I was sure most of the time that the artist was a woman in her forties.  I saw her as someone who had design in her blood; she couldn’t help arranging beautiful things wherever she went.  Did I want to know if I was mistaken?

I wanted to slow down to avoid meeting this person, but I was walking with a friend who was anxious to meet the artist.  We came around a stand of trees to find a woman in her forties.  We greeted her and spoke for a bit.  Except for looking far different than I had imagined, her personality was pretty much as I had imagined.  Meeting her turned out to be a good experience and I was able to express appreciation for her creations.

As she talked to us, her gaze was drawn here and there to the trees, stumps, leaves and branches.  She seemed to be sizing up design elements.  As soon as we left her, she was arranging branches and pinecones.  I guess she is a compulsive designer.

I was not so happy to learn that one of the dog walkers in the area enjoys knocking over this woman’s artistic arrangements.  He thinks they are a menace to his dog.  Really?  I wonder what kind of dog’s well being is threatened by a rosebud on a stump.

Asked about this, the woodland design artist shrugged as if to say, “Not my concern.”   Obviously the anti-artist is not keeping up with her creations, as something new is revealed each time I walk that path.

Can you reason with a predator?

If you want someone to comply with your wishes you can ask them and perhaps negotiate a compromise with them.  In an enlightened interaction, this can work beautifully.  But if you have tried it in a less-than-enlightened relationship with, say a teenager or a domineering coworker, then you are probably still seething about their failure to respond to reason.

Amy Sutherland has written a wisdom-packed book called What Shamu Taught Me About Life Love and Marriage. Sutherland applied what she learned from animal trainers at SeaWorld and other places to her close relationships.  She found their conditioning methods effective in influencing others without nagging or arguing.

Conditioning is considered manipulative in human relationships, but humans are animals, after all.  We assume that language is the most straightforward way to communicate with others, but it is my experience (and Sutherland’s) that people are far more responsive to physical cues.

The lessons Sutherland learned are worth considering in any relationship, and can be very powerfully applied to relationships with difficult, dominating or controlling people.

Animal trainers working with elephants or giant killer whales cannot simply dominate the animals without serious danger of paybacks.  This is similar to relationships with people who have power over you.  The intelligent person does not beat an elephant; neither does she push the company CEO aside to get on the elevator first.  Influence is achieved by positive reinforcement only.

Not surprisingly, this sort of enlightened approach to training has been found to work with all animals, even those we could easily dominate.  All respond best when not dominated but influenced with positive reinforcement.  The enlightened animal trainer neither dominates nor allows himself to be dominated.

A critical rule for safety in influencing animal behavior is: do not act like prey around predators.  Certain behaviors register in a big cat’s mind as prey behavior; such as falling or stooping.  An animal trainer learns never to engage in these behaviors in close proximity to a big cat.

This is the direction my coaching often takes and is also a strategy of martial arts and self defense training.  Do not act weak or vulnerable around those who are waiting to take advantage of the weak and vulnerable.  Develop a strong state of being that makes you appear to be a lot of work for anyone who would attack you.

Unfortunately, it is not always obvious which humans are predatory.  Be watchful of anyone whose interactions with you leave you confused or give you a stomach ache.  And you can avoid dating people with violent criminal histories or protection orders filed against them.   But most people you meet don’t share their criminal histories or regale you with stories about how they manipulated their friends and coworkers.

The human animal can also dissemble and follow attacks with disclaimers, like the husband who follows violence with flowers.  We often give this behavior the benefit of the doubt for a while.  Many of us naively believe in, and appeal to, the predator’s better nature for awhile before we discover that she doesn’t have one.

Rather than identifying predators, my lion tamer advice would be to avoid acting like prey in all situations.  Develop and maintain strong posture. Stay centered and grounded and aware of your physical body.  Confide only in people who have proven trustworthy.

photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ryantaylorphotography/6782702649/”>RyanTaylor1986 via http://photopin.com”>photopin</a http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

What is an Enlightened Interaction?

A friend recently questioned my term Enlightened Interaction.  “I don’t know what it means,” she said, “what does enlightened really mean?  Doesn’t every new ager consider herself enlightened?” she asked.I suppose there is a connotation of spirituality associated with the word “enlightened,” which could be construed as superior.  But when I use the term “enlightened,” I refer to awareness – spiritual or otherwise.

Dictionary definitions of enlightened suggest it is a state of being knowledgeable. Definitions include, “…freed from ignorance and misinformation,” and, “…based on full comprehension of the problems involved.”   Spiritual enlightenment, then, is the ability to understand from a spiritual perspective.

Coming at our interactions in an enlightened state, means we are aware.  This awareness of others requires listening and seeing the other person without projecting our beliefs and motives onto them.

Spiritual enlightenment creates an awareness of spiritual truth.  In most traditions, this means seeing another as an equal and a unique and valuable individual.  The interaction based on this enlightenment is respectful and kind.

Intellectual enlightenment, “…based on full comprehension of the problems involved,” creates an interaction grounded in awareness of reality.  This implies acceptance of others as they truly are and not getting confused by our fantasies and desires for the interaction.

An enlightened interaction, then, precludes any abuse, control or manipulation.  It is an honest interaction between people who are presumed to be equals, who strive to perceive and accept each other as they truly are.

This interaction is not the norm for most of us, but I’d like to think the next stage in our evolution would make it the norm.  Compared to dishonest or controlling interactions, enlightened interaction is satisfying and pain free.  If you cannot achieve enlightened interaction in a voluntary relationship, it is probably a relationship you should walk away from.

I hope this is…well…enlightening.

Deal with Difficult People Without Being One – Interview on Body Mind Spirit Radio, August 21 at 7 p.m.

Learn about enlightened interaction.  How to deal with office bullies, controlling spouses, manipulative family in ways that are respectful and invite respect.  Even when you feel you must interact with difficult people, you can do so while staying in your power and without being difficult yourself . When you change the way you think, people around you behave differently.  Interview with Ruth Wilson on Body Mind Spirit Radio   (Blogtalk Radio) Tuesday, 8/21/12, 7 p.m.

What is enlightened interaction like in a group?

Most of us hate going to gatherings when we don’t know anyone there. The typical experience is to be ignored by group members who don’t know me – which makes me want to hide behind a curtain. Sometimes, though, a well meaning group leader kindly makes a big deal of me and my attendance – which makes me want to hide under a chair!

These extremes do not apply to all groups, only about 98% of them. Enlightened group interaction is uncommon. I used to think it would occur in enlightened groups, but I’m not sure those are common either.

Up until a month ago, I would have told you that enlightened interaction is not possible in a group setting. But, I spent a day with a group that interacted in an enlightened way – at least they did the day I joined them.

What made their interaction different? It seemed that everyone in the group shared power with all the others. But what does that mean?

Here are the ways power was shared:

Everyone was treated as equally important. I was new to the group and had never met any of them before, yet I felt welcomed – not smothered or made much of, but welcomed and included as if I were a longstanding member of the group. The group was led by experts and everyone showed them respect, but no more than the experts showed respect for the rest of the group.

Everyone got the same airtime. Group discussion followed a protocol to give everyone an equal and uninterrupted time to contribute. But such protocols often result in big talkers taking the floor for long periods. This group had a more balanced discussion that seemed to arise from the mutual respect.

Everyone was open to interact with everyone else. Although a number of these people had known each other for a long time, there were no cliques to deal with. I could join their conversations. People approached me and engaged me in conversation. When I approached others and opened a conversation, they responded. Some were quiet but no one was aloof. Some were talkative but no one monopolized the conversation.

Everyone was honored with attention. When I spoke people listened and responded reasonably. No one interrupted me when I spoke, or let their attention wander as if they couldn’t wait for me to finish my sentence. I attribute this kind of attention to being present and aware. Real listening is truly the honor of another’s presence.

It may be that this enlightened interaction occurred because I was in a group of enlightened people; people practicing being present in the moment; people who know where their personal boundaries are. People who are present in the moment can enjoy a state of flow.
The resulting interaction had an elegance that reminded me of a school of fish or a flock of starlings, in which the individuals are in the flow, moving in synchrony; never colliding, never going separate directions.

How can you have more enlightened interactions? It helps to have enlightened friends. How do you know if your friends are enlightened? Don’t go by what they tell you. Watch how they behave.

How You Look from Behind

I used to sit in the back of the room at staff meetings and um, well, uh, I would… daydream.  In one especially riveting meeting, I noticed that 8 out of 10 women present had styled their hair on the front and sides, but had left the back uncurled or uncombed!  From the front, these ladies presented a very together appearance, but they were totally unaware of what they looked like from behind.

This is the way subconscious feelings and patterns affect us.  You meet someone who presents a cheery, positive face to the world, but you sense an underlying insecurity, sadness, or even anger.  No matter how positive and socially skilled you are, your innermost feelings are there, broadcasting subliminal messages that may contradict your demeanor.

Most of the time, this is no big deal.  We all have a mix of conscious and unconscious stuff going on.  But if you are pretending to like someone you truly dislike, they will sense it.  If you are secretly insecure, I guarantee, most everyone else is aware of it on some level.

How do you know what unconscious obstacles and patterns may be tripping you up if you are not conscious of them?  You can become conscious of the unconscious by looking at reflections of yourself, much as my colleagues at the meeting should have done when fixing their hair in the morning.

The first mirror is body feelings.  Many of us have been schooled to ignore feelings, but they never lie.  Make an affirmation about your wildest dream and see how it makes you feel.  For example, “Men find me so attractive they run up to me at the mall and offer me gifts.” Then listen – really listen – to your body.  If the statement is true you will feel peaceful.  If the statement is false, you will feel some dissonance, or tension, somewhere in your body.  (Hint:  probably in your belly, but maybe in your chest.)

Another great mirror is other people, but look at the reactions of a number of other people not just a few.  Do you get odd reactions from people in general?  Are people often rude for no reason?  You are probably not a truly awful person, or you wouldn’t be reading this.  People are sensing some dissonance in your person.  They probably are not conscious of their reaction, so don’t bother asking them.

The third good mirror is an intuitive coach, counselor or consultant.  Find one who has expertise in the area you have trouble with, whether relationships, marketing, managing people, or communications.   Intuition helps the expert to quickly identify your unconscious patterns and obstacles and point them out to you.  Their expertise helps them guide you to deal with the issues identified.  A good intuitive expert will not distort your reflection much.

When ignorance is not blissful, ‘tis helpful to be wise.

The Scary Notion of Being Fearless

We have nothing to fear but fear itself?  Well, um, what about oncoming Mack trucks and  downed power lines? Without healthy fear the human lifespan would be about 15 months.

Healthy fear is something we don’t give much thought to.  Healthy fear is the alert watchfulness you feel when you drive down the highway, ready to respond to reckless drivers and other obstacles.  Healthy fear is being careful not to put your sleeve in the campfire or obeying your intuition to avoid that dark alley.  If you think about it, you’re probably grateful for healthy fear.

Most of us have our struggles with unhealthy fear.  But why is that?  Why do our fears get unhealthy?  We lie awake worrying about things we cannot control and eventualities that are annoying but not really life threatening.  We scan the horizon for predators…oh wait, that’s the television screen!  Those predators aren’t real…but they might be.

We worry about aliens and spirits and flesh-eating viruses even though most of us have never seen any of these things.  We worry about accidents and yet talk on the mobile while we drive and talk about the worrisome economy.  The fact is our worried mental chatter keeps us from listening to our real fears and getting their life-preserving messages.

If you are a student of metaphysics, you may have been taught that fear is the absence of love.  Ultimately, it is.  If you trust the benevolence of the universe, you will be fearless.  But in day to day life, you need to also trust the God-given feeling in your body that says, “Get the —- out of the street!”

I have recently learned that the quickest way to deal with fear – healthy or unhealthy – is to pay attention to it.  What is its message for me?  Often, just getting the message stops the fear.  Recently, I awoke every morning with intense panic and fear.  It woke me up with the birds before daylight.  I kept ordering it to go away. It got stronger.  I turned away to focus on love, but the fear got more insistent still.

One day simply I sat and felt the fear and asked what I was afraid of.  It took a couple of days before I got an intelligent notion of what my fear was telling me.  It was telling me I was ignoring some tasks that needed my attention.  These tasks were critical for me to succeed in my work, but somehow I had ignored them.  I tackled these tasks in earnest and within a few weeks I was getting much better results in my work.

Magic!  The fear was gone and I could sleep right through my alarm clock.

Being the Stalker Instead of Being Stalked

Those who are in relationship with critics or controllers can develop the habit of reacting to events but avoiding positive action.  Being reactive will save your skin when you under attack of any kind, but being reactive is not so useful for getting whatyou want out of life, and it narrows your horizons until your goal is simply to get by.

If you are a student of popular new age metaphysics, this reactivity is reinforced by the notions of using the power of thought and being open to receive.  These ideas can be powerful, but not without the magic of inspired action!

When the subconscious mind is full of limitations and receiving is limited to the next criticism or argument, action becomes reactive instead of inspired.  Getting away from trouble will probably not lead toward fulfilled desires.

If this becomes habitual, you are the stalked, not the stalker. Here are a few exercises you can try to get into stalking mode and actively or proactively seeking rather than reacting.

When religious evangelists come to the door, asking if you ever think about the afterlife, tell them you definitely do!  Greet them enthusiastically and invite them to your church.  Keep a church bulletin handy to press into their hands and tell them you hope to see them this Sunday.  Of course, most of these groups are not allowed to take material from other churches.

Is there someone in your family who frequently asks you for money or loans or favors?  Pick up the phone now, dial them and ask them for $50 until payday or see if they will commit to helping you clean the gutters.  Of course, unlike you, they’ll probably have plenty of excuses handy for why they can’t help you out.

Next time you see a panhandler in front of the post office, approach him or her and ask for a quarter for your parking meter so you won’t get a ticket.  Of course, they won’t have any spare change, though they were hoping you did.

Who knows?  If you try these activities, you could get some money or help or have new guests at church.  My guess is you’ll simply discover that even the panhandler has better boundaries than people who live with critics or controllers.

The more important gift will be to have some practice at pursuing instead of avoiding.  You may even find yourself going after more important desires… or telling your critic to stuff it.

You are now the stalker.

Vampire Protection that Doesn’t Stink

Psychic Vampire Repellant that Doesn't Stink

You might not use the word “vampire,” but you have surely met one or two people whose company drains you of your life force. Far from joining the ranks of the immortal, you will come out of these encounters depleted and depressed. If you don’t have really great boundaries (and many of us don’t,) then you have probably met quite a few people who drain your energy.
People who drain your energy appear to do so in a variety of ways. They may complain a lot, or perhaps they subtly put you down, or report the unflattering things other people said about you (but don’t believe them.) They may goad you; reminding you of something unpleasant, or perhaps they flaunt what they have but you lack. The long and short of it is, they upset you and this upset is how they drain your energy. Why do they do this? Because they can – and it works! It energizes them.
Those who perceive energy know how this drain is accomplished. Those who measure energy are learning that intuitive people are perceiving this accurately. When you get a shock or a trauma, or a sudden let down, the energy circulating in or around your body will pause or stop or even reverse its flow.
A pause in the energy flow is useful for playing dead to fool a looming predator but it can make you vulnerable to the psychic predator. All of our interactions with others involve exchanges of energy, and when the vampire has upset your energy flow, he or she is able to tip the balance of the exchange and tap your energy. This can leave you feeling drained and an energy vampire feeling uplifted.
Often you don’t notice this until after it happens. The upsets can be subtle and unconscious and leave you wondering why you suddenly feel low or thinking you are coming down with some virus.
The bright side of this kind of robbery is that it is relatively safe for you to simply refuse to give up the goods. By being present and aware, you can deny the vampire access to your energy. You may even be the one to benefit from their upset energy which will discourage them from future predations.
Simply being present around difficult people is simple. It isn’t always easy because most of us are in the habit of being dissociated so our consciousness is off somewhere in the next county. The trick is to be mindful of difficult people and when your mood suddenly changes, become aware of your body.
It takes only seconds to become aware of your body. Feel your hands and feet. Be aware of looking out of your eyes. Put a hand over your center and be here, now. Imagine the life force that flows through your core around your spine. Feel rooted on the earth and sense a light or warmth that flows in the top of your spine and fills you up.
Practice this feeling so you can summon it at will. If you live with an energy vampire, I recommend some martial arts training to learn to operate in a present and centered way.
If you are present, the vampire’s put downs will be recognized for what they are. You will not internalize them. You will not be so upset by them. You maintain your state. When this happens, the energy vampire may become upset. In this case, the energy exchange will work in your favor and you will leave the encounter feeling better.
You will have also encouraged an emotionally draining person to interact with you in more open and honest ways.


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