Posts Tagged 'personal power'

Appreciating Enlightened Relationships

vishnulakshmi

It’s easy to get depressed with all the controlling, manipulative and unreliable people in the world.  Sometimes it seems as if disrespectful people turn up everywhere.  But they don’t.

It can be helpful to audit your contact lists and make a special list of the people who are consistently good to interact with. I did this recently and was pleased to see that I had quite a number trustworthy people in my life.  I can rely on these people.  I feel safe with them.

There are the tried and true friends.  We may take each other for granted, but these friends can be counted on for their integrity.   These relationships can be painful at times; we step on each others toes because we are close and we join each other’s unconscious conspiracies.  But ultimately, we have each others’ best interests at heart.

There are a couple of colleagues who have joined me in business ventures, with whom I have had consistently honest, productive and painless relationships.  I must also count the cousin who always takes me seriously.   Then there are the new friends from a women’s group who truly listen to me, respect me and accept me as I am.  I am also beginning to notice an outer circle of people who are not as close but are a steady and positive presence in my life.

What makes people safe to relate to?  They are willing to actively connect with us, be honest with us and they have our best interests at heart.  They may not get it right all the time, but they have been reliable enough that we trust them.

Good fences make good neighbors – and allow us to see where we leave off and the other begins.  Boundaries are critical for respect and the trustworthy person will recognize and respect your boundaries as well as her own.  A person with good boundaries can feel safe and therefore be safe to be aWhat makes people safe to relate to?  They are willing to actively connect with us, be honest with us and they have our best interests at heart.  They may not get it right all the time, but they have been reliable enough that we trust them.

You must be present to win – being present and connected with another is critical for healthy relating.  In order to connect with you, I need empathy to relate to and care about what you think and how your feel.  Empathy is based on listening, watching, and feeling, and is not the projection of the narcissist who assumes you must feel exactly as he does, or the bully who claims to know your motivations better than you do.

Straightforward honesty is important for an enlightened interaction.  When someone is generally honest, we can rely on what they say and do.  We trust them.  I am not referring to the brutal “Your dress is awful,” honesty which diminishes another.  Consistent communication and congruent behavior build trust and the peace that trust brings.  Crazy making double messages are rare with a person who is straightforward and honest.

The person who has your best interests at heart is allowing rather than controlling and interacts in ways that promote your growth.

Cultivating trustworthy people and becoming a trustworthy person are the best antidote to the toxins we pick up in difficult relationships.

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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.

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Emotional Freedom is a Physical Pursuit

Emotional freedom and personal power can be found through a practice of feeling emotions, rather than denying them, repressing them, or escaping them.

Some experts claim that the experience of a single emotion lasts about 90 seconds.  My experiments bear this out.   But, most of us have been trained to avoid feeling emotions because they are often messy and unpleasant.  Besides, emotions might taint your intellectual knowing and cause out-of-control behavior.  We think of scientific types as pointy-eared Vulcans, but scientific study actually concludes that without the involvement of emotions, people make consistently lousy decisions (Damasio, The Feeling of What Happens, October, 2000.)

Nevertheless, most of us carry around resistance to feelings that is far worse than the actual feeling would ever be, and we send our consciousness to dwell in the past or future so we don’t have to feel unpleasant things now.  We try to solve problem emotions in our heads, exert influence with our intellects – and it just doesn’t work.  The brain has far less electromagnetic power than the heart which is the seat of emotions.

If you will simply feel your next emotion, in your body, without resistance, I can promise you that life will be incrementally easier.  A way to do this is to time your next feeling – especially if it is an unpleasant one. You will find, as I did, that it lasts oh, about 90 seconds.  While you experiment with simply feeling a less-than-thrilling feeling, notice where you feel it in your body and then, consciously relax that part of your body.  Ahhhh.  That’s better yet.

When the feeling has passed, you will find it is…gone!  You can unload whole piles of emotional baggage, in this way, far faster than any airport employee.  In fact, this is exactly what a number of high end self help methods do to help people be more successful and happy.

Feeling emotions and letting them go has huge benefits. You may have thought people respond to your outfit, your dental work or the quality of your face or figure.  Actually they respond to how you feel or your vibe.  When you carry less tension in the body you feel better to yourself and others.  When you let go of your resistance to emotions, you are able to stay in the present moment.

It may not seem that way, but in the present moment is the only place you can be, really, and it is a place of immense personal power.

The Single Most Enlightened Interaction of Them All

Self love is something that never made any sense to me at all.  Until last year, I understood the concept only intellectually, but didn’t really know what the big deal was.  Suddenly I saw that a lack of self love was affecting all my endeavors.  I didn’t really think that I was not good enough, but I didn’t feel a lot of love for myself.  I put my needs second, third or even last, and if someone had an issue with me, I assumed I was at least 90% responsible.

One day last year, I read that a person who has never experienced unconditional love or brilliant success, can have those feelings downloaded, using Theta Healing®.   Once the person has experienced those feelings, he or she can attract experiences that resonate with the feelings.  I decided I needed to know what it felt like to receive unconditional love, so I booked a Theta Healing® session to “download” this feeling.   What a difference it made!

All my interactions were changed.  I felt more love for and from others.  I also saw very clearly how all love in my life; given or received, originated in me.  Self love is a keystone for enlightened interactions. Most importantly, self love helps you follow your life’s true path.

Long before I experienced unconditional love through Theta Healing®, I had experienced an inner force which, while small, was totally invincible.  I could drown out its message for a while, but not for long.  I could ignore this force for a week, but not a month.  This force was the drive to be authentically me.

I drowned out the small soft voice of this inner force with intellectual chatter.  (I spent many years of my life training my intellectual chatter.)  I could talk myself into this or that course of action, but could not make them work because the force of this inner force made me feel bad if I did things were not in line with my authentic desires.

This force speaks to us in feelings.  You can tell in your body whether you are going the correct direction.  You will feel free and easy if you are.  You will feel resistance and irritation if you are not.  Martha Beck calls this a sense of “shackles off” and “shackles on.”  If you want to understand this concept better, just take a look at your list of things to do right now.  See how each item makes you feel.

I recently had a session with Jeannette Maw, who calls herself the Good Vibe Coach.  Jeannette is full of good vibes and I felt better just hearing her laugh.  After a long and detailed session, she said, “It’s easy.  Decide what you want and then do what feels good.”  My first thought was, “She’s insane!”  But, since what I had been doing hadn’t been working too well, and Jeannette seemed to be happy and successful, I chose to think shw was taking her own advice.

The first result of doing what felt good was a lot of free time.  I was shocked at how many things on my “to do” list did not feel good at all.  All the marketing activities I thought I must do to get business, made me feel like throwing up.  I let them go, thinking I would never get clients, but strangely, feeling hopeful.   Interestingly, the activities I did feel like pursuing resulted in four new clients who are very well suited to me.

Oddly, slacking off like this, I’m getting better results in many areas of life.  I was forcing myself to exercise, but I find that if I listen to my feelings, I will desire to get out and get moving on a fairly regular basis.  Once, I forced myself to eat salads, following my feelings seems to result in a beautifully balanced diet over time, eating salad only when I really want to.

Strangely, my feelings have led me to do some things that no one else understands and I’m trusting that those actions will also bring good results in the long run.  If nothing else, they have created a “shackles off” feeling in the short run.

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Emotional Alchemy Transforms Fear into Freedom

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Fear seems to be one of the least helpful feelings when you are doing something new.  If that something new involves alligator wrestling, fixing a gas leak, or dating a notorious gangster, then your fear will help you stay alive.Most of us experience a different sort of fear that seems attached to unlikely events or events that do not really threaten us.  We worry enough about saying the wrong thing at a meeting that we don’t notice the mugger in the alley.  I laugh when I think of the driven students at my university during exam time, who were so afraid of failing, they would read their note cards while crossing State Street in front of Mack trucks.

When we examine this sort of fear, we tend to dismiss it as groundless.  The trouble is, it doesn’t stay dismissed.  It often has a message that is just as valid as more obvious seeming fears.  Finding the message can be the solution.  For months I woke up with a feeling of fear I didn’t understand.  After my teacher advised me to meditate on it and ask it what it wanted, I discovered that I was afraid I would never find the courage to pursue a cherished goal.  After I got the message, the messenger finally went away.

Getting the message can take a while.  Meantime, you can energetically transmute fear and feel better right now.  Fear is an energy in your body.  You can change the energy in your body by simply thinking about it in a different way.  Imagine your body is surrounded by a bubble of light.  Now imagine that because you are fearful, you make the outer wall of that bubble extra strong and thick, so nothing can get to you.  Also imagine that the bubble is big enough to enclose your body comfortably.

You have now effectively channeled fear energy out of your body into protective but not restrictive boundaries.

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.

When the Pack Needs an Alpha Dog

There is a right use of power. Some of us are squeamish about exercising power. Perhaps we confuse power with control. It isn’t the same. There are times when it is necessary to exercise power or lose control. We rightly exercise power over those for whom we are responsible. It might be to protect a child or an invalid or to protect our rights from those who don’t respect them.

I once worked in a group which had a leader who was an information expert but not really a manager. This happens quite a bit when a great technical expert becomes a group leader but has never learned how to manage. It happens a lot in IT, healthcare, and sales teams. Technical experts are expected to know things and know how to do things. Managers need to know how to exercise power appropriately and relate to people.

This person left most decisions to the group of a dozen employees. I believe that group management can work. I must admit, however, that I have never personally seen it happen (or even heard of it.) If the pack has even one member who operates in a dog-eat-dog reality, it needs an alpha dog to see to the group’s welfare. The alpha dog can have a style that is participatory or he can be a hard core enforcer, but to be an alpha dog, he must influence group behavior. That requires power, not expertise.

When a technical expert is rewarded for expertise with a promotion to management, her experience is all…well…technical. If this person develops leadership skills as well, then she can exert power. If the technical expert is not a leader, he will not perceive the exercise of power in the work group, so he may not see that there is an enormous difference between participatory management and no management at all. The manager who won’t manage is usually a good employee who wouldn’t dream of dropping the ball in any of his technical tasks, but who fails to even see the ball in his managerial role.

Political power governs the group with no leader. The workplace becomes a series of Survivor episodes and the games tie up energy that could be used productively. If there is no management at all, the group will either get nothing done, or accomplishment will be on the backs of one or two of the group members. Staff may like but will not respect the manager who doesn’t manage. Eventually they will feel resentment.

Employees suffer a lot of unnecessary stress from not knowing how a decision will go and from competing for time and assignments which should be doled out equitably. They feel open to the manager’s judgment but do not feel protected or supported in any real way.

When this team leader says, “Here’s what needs to be done. You all figure out how to do it.” He walks away having no idea that all hell just broke loose behind him. Manipulation takes the place of management, and all sorts of dysfunctional behavior occurs.

The tough nut takes the plum assignment; the narcissist takes a prolonged break; and the dutiful pick up the pieces while trying to avoid being bossed around by those who did none of the real work.

The same scenario plays out in a family in which the parent will not parent and allows minor children to make decisions. The appropriate use of power can steer the family or workgroup into constructive and cooperative behavior. This doesn’t mean being a drill sergeant or throwing your weight around.

Unfortunately, use of power cannot be learned from a textbook or even an MBA program. It must be learned by doing and practicing. When I coach new managers, I teach them to imagine that power is a visible force so they can direct it appropriately.

They soon learn that their imaginings are quite real. Power may be invisible but it is tangible to most of us.

More Sins of Omission – Hiding your Light Under a Bushel

 

Good people often feel that they are promoting good when they simply avoid doing wrong. The new age movement promotes this by preaching non It takes courage to shine brightly.judgment without understanding the concept, and suggesting that inner peace means passivity.

When the enlightened practice non judgment and inner peace, they act, or refrain from acting, from a state of being centered.  Ghandi practiced passive resistance and love, certainly, but his was acourageous stance which he discerned would avoid violence.  He was not passive to avoid action.  When I am passive or non-judgmental to avoid taking a stance, it is a cop out.

More than most people, I understand the power of the unseen and what can be done with energy.  I practice a number of energetic or mental techniques which are invisible and yet quite profound in their results.  But if I see someone drowning, I think it is more appropriate to go physically to their rescue than to send them good energy.  If someone is trespassing, and doesn’t listen to reason, then litigation may be more appropriate than love.  (If you are capable of litigating lovingly, then that’s even better.)

Bullies, abusers, those who lack empathy, sociopaths without conscience…none of these people respond well to good energy.  People who cannot relate to or connect with their fellow humans are often quite oblivious to the energy of others.

In dealing with these selfish forces, those of us who are good should be positive forces for good, rather than passive lumps who are satisfied with simply not being bad.

What does it mean to be a positive force for good? It involves using power appropriately.  We all have god-given power to wield.  It was not bestowed upon us to be hidden or to atrophy from disuse.

Positive goodness may involve speaking up, enforcing boundaries and not allowing trespasses, protecting our dependants, and taking action to promote positive outcomes.  Positive goodness almost always involves courage and risk taking.  It certainly takes discernment to stand up for what is right without continually focusing on what is wrong.

Positive goodness almost always creates a kind of magic in the life of the person who practices it.  Whether you win or lose your particular challenge, the courage you practice and the boundaries you fortify put you in a wiser, more centered place.  From this state of being, your energetic influence on the world is huge and beneficent.

The prize is that you shine more brightly as your true self and experience deep joy rather than fleeting happiness.

Vampire Romance? Eeuuww!

Most people who hear the term “Energy Vampire,” have an  immediate sense of what it means because most everyone has encountered an energy vampire or two.  When so many people suffer from the effects of energy vampires, I find the thought of vampire romance to be repugnant – Yeah!  Just the opposite of sexy.  Eeuuww!

Would you go out with a person whose M.O. is to drain you of  your life force and make you feel awful so he (or she) can feel great?  Unfortunately, the answer for many of us is:  “Of course I would! …and I have…but not knowingly!”

Before he (or she)  has gotten his fangs into you, a vampire’s mystery and overt interest in you and what you have to offer can seem sexy and attractive.  Strong, sinister, silent types, such as vampires, make a wonderful blank slate for romance stories, because we can project our desires onto.

The fact is that a lot of the unappreciated qualities we attribute to an energy vampire are actually our own projections.   Most of us have unappreciated qualities and would really like them to be recognized.  It is just that psychological signature which attracts energy vampires in the first place.

If you have pretty good boundaries, you are unlikely to attract these unfortunate but dangerous creatures.  Most of us have been taught to have poor boundaries by parents who did their best (and some who didn’t) so we are used to unhealthy energy exchanges.  I could tell you how this looks to an intuitive or feels like to an energy practitioner, but really, who cares?  (If you want this detail, check out Joe Slate’s Psychic Vampires here:  <a title=”Psychic Vampires” href=”http://http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=wwwproactivco-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&asins=0738701912&ref=tf_til&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr“>Joe

What you really need to know is how to avoid these people before they get their fangs into you.

I recently spent the day with a group of women and came home feeling like I was coming down with flu. When the flu didn’t materialize, I looked more closely at the company I kept.  One of the women, subtly but continually, put down, questioned or dismissed the others. She asked me a couple times if I was sick, saying that I looked ill.  One of my companions was having a lot of fun and was told, “Oh, you’re so childish… I mean, childlike!”  She repeatedly forgot the first name of one member of our group – despite having met her many times before.

None of these things is bad in itself.  It was the intent to upset that made the excursion unpleasant.  The power of your upset emotions energizes the vampire, and sure enough this woman became more and more chirpy and smiley as everyone else’s faces fell.  I now avoid her like the plague, but I have that luxury because she is a passing acquaintance.

If the energy vampire is a close relative, or Heaven forbid, your partner, that’s a whole ‘nother blog post, but you can learn to hang onto your energy with this person if you have good boundaries.  Once you recognize this person you can even benefit energetically from their shenanigans.
(But that’s another blog post too – watch for it.)

The trouble is most of these people get their teeth into us before we know what they’re like or they are careful to appear quite positive as they get their digs in.  They often plant seeds of doubt or fear in our minds that keep us upset and mentally connected to the vampire long after we have left their company.

Psychic attacks are like viruses and germs.  A healthy immune system is more effective than anti-bacterial wipes.  Any practice or therapy that clears your mind and builds healthy boundaries will benefit you.  But you can recognize and avoid these people pretty easily if you pay attention to your feelings.

The first thing to notice is when you feel tired, depleted and depressed in reaction to your interactions with others.  If a particular person’s conversation, Facebook postings or emails repeatedly make you feel sad, angry, tired or disturbed, start watching these interactions more closely.

Watch also for the Yuck factor.  If in-person interactions make you feel slimed, disturbed, exhausted or queasy, on a consistent basis, look for the vampire in the mix.

Especially notice if the person who makes you feel disturbed shows signs of being energized by your discomfort.

If you notice any of these things, head for the hills or at least a different room.

Psychic vampires are not romantic at all, so do not expect the culprit to look sinister.  He or she probably seems quite unassuming, maybe quite cheerful and self effacing.

As sinister as the term “vampire” is, the energy vampire is quite pathetic, really.  Anyone who does not know how to access their own resources and feels they must drain yours is pretty sad.  The practice leaves them in a very unhealthy state after a while.  You are doing them a favor by not making your energy available to them.

Interaction with the Enlightened

The 1st Dalai Lama

When I coach people, I tend to learn only about their interactions with people who are aggressive, abusive, or just plain weird.   But there are those who have enlightened interactions with others and we can cheer and encourage ourselves by appreciating such people and modeling ourselves after them.  Most of us can cite someone who has made us feel singularly special and understood.

At the very pinnacle of enlightened interaction, in my book, is the Dalai Lama.  Do a Google search on images of “Dalai Lama with…” and see him with various important people.   Of course, there’s his beaming, joyful face, but what’s really fun is the looks on the faces of those around him.

www.dalailama.com

Here is George W. who looks solemn and uncomfortable even at baseball games, for heaven’s sake.  But this is a different George W.  He is grinning from ear to ear and the smile extends to his eyes and body language.  He’s very much enlightened by the Dalai Lama’s interactions.  These photos give me great hope.

Now see His Holiness with the Prince of Wales.  Charlie’s British aristocracy has slipped askew like an ill fitting hat.  He is as red in the face as a newborn and his smile is broad enough to show his molars!

Oh, my goodness! The Dalai Lama is holding Charlie’s hand! What is going on here?  Something in these interactions seems to cheer these people and cut through the B.S. in short order, so we see them as their mothers probably saw them.

After half a century of keeping a stiff upper lip, the Prince of Wales would not completely thaw within fifteen minutes unless … well … unless he felt safe;  unless he felt respected; unless he felt that someone was relating to him on a profoundly personal level!

Clearly, the enlightened interaction occurs in the present moment and the other person must be feeling accepted and loved or he wouldn’t be grinning like that.  But I accept and love people all the time and they rarely react so positively! What is the difference?

Consider what the Dalai Lama is not doing in his interactions.  I’m just making a guess here but I’m willing to bet my IRA that His Holiness is not even a little bit concerned about what other people think of him.  (He’s wearing an orange flowing outfit in the land of somber business suits, after all.  And he’s not wearing a two foot high mitre to make himself look imposing, either.)

If an important state leader flinched when the lama reached out to hold his hand with interlaced fingers, I’m willing to bet the lama did not take it personally any more that you would take it personally when a child resists your overtures.

If a head of state looked grumpy when first meeting the Dalai Lama, I’m quite sure the lama did not think, “Oh no!  I can tell he doesn’t like me.”

I believe the joy in these interactions results from one person being totally present for another.  This presence precludes self consciousness and allows one to truly see who the other person is.  When I am able to practice really being here in the moment with another, my interactions are  much more rewarding.  To what little degree I have learned to be present, I experience a bit of the magic of an enlightened interaction.

I’m hardly in a position to fully understand someone like the Dalai Lama.  But I think that being  profoundly present with another person, in the moment, allows a connection with the essence of that person.  Connecting in that way is love and it feels wonderful, I know!  Just look at George grin!


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