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Reaching Out – Enhancing our Relationships January 10, 2011

Posted by Karuana in Goal Setting, Life Strategies, Self Improvement.
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A new year is upon us. What does that really mean except for the change of the calendar?  I think we all need a reason to reinvent ourselves occasionally and a new year is as good a reason as any.  The change of the calendar gives us an opportunity to rekindle hope in ourselves and our dreams.  We intuitively know that now is the season to reflect and be ready to plant new seeds within ourselves.  I think we should take up this challenge in ways that really work for us and enhance our day to day life, but you’ve heard that from me before!

As always this year I have dreams of attaning and maintaining balance and harmony in my life.  Those things are worthwhile but I think what I’m most interested in, and what I think all of us really need, is to focus on reaching out.  That means moving beyond the bubble of our day to day lives to take the opportunity to deepen the connections that are around us. 

Isolation is a terrible life condition caused in part by a lack of attention to human interactions.  Being open to the people around us can seem daunting.  We are bombarded every day with stories about the worst of human nature.  Those who take advantage of the good natured among us.  Personally, and of course this is just my own opinion and life experience, I find that the power of being open is much greater than remaining aloof and closed.  Most people don’t do this on purpose.  Like me they are wrapped up in career and family obligations that seem never ending, though often rewarding in their own right.  Somehow in that frenzy of activity something can slip through the cracks.

Correcting this trend towards distance and isolation within our own frenzies lives can be a simple thing.  For me it normally involves slowing down!  Stop and chat with the clerk at your grocery store.  Listen to what your co-worker says about their life outside of your place of employment.  Call a family member you haven’t talked to in awhile and find out what’s happening underneath the mundane small talk. When you are feeling really adventurous you might try reaching out into your community.  Engage in a new activity.  Have an adventure in meeting new people and finding out what they are about.

I am a self proclaimed social networking junkie but I do not mistake that for the beauty of lunch with a dear friend or a real conversation with my friends and family who live far away.  Maybe it’s because my life is lived in two cities that I am acutely aware that some things only happen in person.  Intimacy can not be fully maintained or realized over the wire. 

A wise person who has had a long, happy marriage said to me recently that “closeness counts”.  I couldn’t agree more. So whatever you do for your New Year’s resolutions make reaching out to people around you a part of your journey.  I am sure you won’t regret it!

And by the way, welcome to the Living in Enthusiasm blog if you are new reader or one who clicked through from my news letter.   I hope you’ll sign up for alerts from this site so I can reach out to you and stay in touch!

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Living in Enthusiasm – Break Mental Habits May 11, 2009

Posted by Karuana in Goal Setting, Life Strategies.
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May 2009 Newsletter

Spring is finally here and I’m motivated to get things done both at work and at home. One thing I’ve learned about motivation – I need to roll with it when it hits me!

It is so easy to succumb to motivation’s disruptive opposite – procrastination! Every day I have to break my addiction to that bad habit. Like so many other habits I’ve gathered over the course of my life some are great for me and some I would do well to let go. This time lets take a look at how we can determine which habits are worthwhile and which might be useful to chuck out with those old clothes!

7 Steps to Living in Enthusiasm: Step Two – Breaking Mental Habits

Once again I get the privilege to write to all of you. As promised in March’s article, this time we’re going to discuss the second phase of moving towards living in enthusiasm: identifying and releasing habits that don’t serve your overall higher purpose.

As a reminder here is the graphic showing the 7 steps:

I know you all have completed your objective assessment of an area in your life you would like to change. If not, do it now. You can download the worksheet here. If you are not in the mood, just read on!

Habits of the Mind:

I must admit that I am inspired in my writing today by Elizabeth Gilbert and her unbelievably touching book Eat Pray Love. As always when in the presence of creativity I feel more creative. It is some sort of quantum-birds-of-a-feather effect I am sure, but I am much more interested in experiencing it than analyzing it.

How many times in my life has my heart known the true answer or right action and my head has analyzed it into the ground, paralyzing me into inaction. Whether by my old friend insecurity or her cousin doubt, my heart’s instinct has at once seemed silly, impulsive, irresponsible or simply stupid. Please note that I am writing about my heart’s instinct not my first instinct. It is my experience that the instincts of my wizened heart have to bubble up. They do not always immediately leap to my conscious awareness.

As I thought about this I realized that in my head I have not changed. I still envision myself living on vodka martinis and dancing in impossibly high heels, battling depression and erratic mood swings with copious supplies of recreational mood altering substances. In my heart I have become a different woman completely. I am most happy with coffee and a good book. I am most happy cooking for others. I am, in fact, quite happy and dare I say, content, on a regular basis. In truth my heart is wildly happy, fulfilled, engaged and downright jumping for joy even when my mind exhibits the old habits of melancholy and depression. I have found it very useful to cultivate a skeptical view when my mind puts up unhappy, frumpy and downright depressed pictures. They are often just signals that I need sleep, good food, uplifting company or affection.

Somehow there is a part of me that thinks I do not deserve this happiness. My mind believes that to be content is to give up striving for something I am supposed to be striving for. That I have lost that “fire in the belly” that everyone used to talk about with such reverence.

And then the voice of my heart pops up and says, “That is balderdash! The whole entire point of living is to be content.” My brain wants to qualify that with a long list of other stuff I am supposed to be doing. I will spare you the laundry list. What is important is that the habits I need to break are first in my mind and then acted out in my life. I must continue to master that scary and sometimes willfully out of control realm that I call my mind. My most powerful weapon for doing that is the oh so quiet and sometimes ignored Voice of My Heart.

The Process:

Let’s try something. I am going to pick a topic at random and ask you a few questions. Try to answer them as spontaneously as possible since we are not face to face. I am going to pick a generic topic so you can see how the process works. Select only one answer. Here we go:

1. Do you love your work?

YES NO

2, Do you think you are supposed to love your work?

YES NO

3. Would you do it for free?

YES NO

4. What is your work for – helping people or making money?

Money Helping

5. Would you want your children or best friend to do exactly what you do every day?

YES NO

Now ask yourself, does your heart agree with the answers you selected above?

Maybe you are already far along this path of living in enthusiasm and your first answers are the answers of your Heart Voice. If so I applaud you. Go forth and help others – really, I mean that. I’m not kidding.

My feeling though is that in every person’s life there is an area where the first answer to simple questions like, “Are you happy doing ____ ” will be very different from what your Heart Voice would say.

For instance, try simple questions like these:

Are you happy with your body?

Does your relationship fulfill your emotional desires?

Are you at peace with your parents?

Can you trust those you love?

Are you just going through the motions?

If your Heart Voice answers, “No” to simple questions like these that gives us valuable information. More importantly it gives your Heart Voice a seat at the table of your life. No matter what you do or do not choose to enhance through this program, it is critical that this voice within have an outlet and a manner for communicating with you – the conscious, aware, get-up-in-the-morning-and-get-dressed version of you.

The Work – Identifying & Releasing Old Habits:

Dictionary.com defines a habit as:

noun

1. an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary: the habit of looking both ways before crossing the street.
2. customary practice or use: Daily bathing is an American habit.
3. a particular practice, custom, or usage: the habit of shaking hands.
4. a dominant or regular disposition or tendency; prevailing character or quality: She has a habit of looking at the bright side of things.
5. addiction, esp. to narcotics (often prec. by the).

Identifying and releasing old habits is ridiculously simple:

  1. Stop before acting
  2. Breath
  3. Consult your Heart Voice
  4. Choose Differently

Really – that’s it. Nothing fancy. Nothing complex. Just the simple process of pausing before acting, checking in with yourself and choosing differently. I know lots of great people have written long books on this subject but I really believe keeping it simple is the recipe for success.

Let’s take an example with a fictional person.

Jamie is not happy with her work. She tells her family that she is happy to be there and have a stable job. Every day she gets up, goes to work, does a good job and comes home. She thinks that she should be grateful for what she has instead of longing for something more exciting or fulfilling. She see’s her friends who have been laid off and feels guilty for wanting something different. She does not think she is particularly smart or talented. She believes she should keep her head down and be happy where she is. Maybe, she thinks, something will change later.

Now, let’s go through and identify the habits in her mind that are keeping her from living in enthusiasm.

1. Denial – Jamie’s Heart Voice is well aware she is not happy but her mind tells her to ignore it.

2. Guilt – Jamie has not given herself permission to feel happiness from her work.

3. Low Self Esteem – Jamie does not believe she has anything special to offer the world.

4. Victim Persona – Jamie does not believe she is empowered to make changes in her life.

5. Fantasy – Jamie is waiting for the equivalent of a knight on a white horse to rescue her from this situation.

Each of these thoughts are habits of the mind. Jamie has acquired behavior patterns born from denial, guilt, low self-esteem, victimhood and living in fantasy to the point that they are involuntary reactions to her own life. And yet, I have never met a person, once confronted with these attitudes in simple words, who was content to remain that way.

Many coaching, behavior modification and 12 step programs use a process called contrary action. In short you embark upon a behavior almost 180 degrees opposite to what you would normally do, say or think. For Jamie, the first step is to be honest with herself. She can change the pattern of her thinking by doing these simple steps.

When she thinks, “Oh, I should be happy about my job. It’s OK.” She tries to remember to:

  1. Stop – Do not think involuntarily out of habit
  2. Breath – Connect to your body, activate your sympathetic nervous system and intuitive centers
  3. Consult your Heart Voice – Allow your own wisdom to bubble up
  4. Choose Differently – Release the old habit by taking contrary action

In Jamie’s case choosing differently (Step 4 in this exercise) means to tell herself the truth within her own mind – “My job does not make me happy.” As she begins to tell herself the truth she can apply this to further mental habits. Jamie can begin to tell herself a different story about her options in her career. She can begin to learn how to encourage herself and reveal her innate courage and sense of adventure. Before she can do things differently, she must think about things differently.

By stopping to take the time to focus on the things she has told herself in the past and changing them she is actively engaged in Step 2 of the 7 Steps to Living in Enthusiasm. She is empowering herself and releasing her habits of victimhood and fantasy. She is giving herself permission to grow and think differently She is giving space to her Heart Voice.

By this simple act she is releasing many existing habits. This is internal work, that happens quietly in your own mind first and is then translated out through your behavior and actions.

This all takes time and practice, but really – what else are you doing? Serenity and a true sense of purpose awaits you. A loving relationship awaits you. A great body image is available for you right now. You name it and you can transform your experience by breaking these self defeating habits of the mind. Empower your Heart Voice, turn down the volume on the old mental habits and find a grounded balance between the two.

Pick a subject, try it for 30 days and let me know what happens.

Next Time – Step Three!

I think you know what’s coming next. Actions! Conscious Choices! Woo hoo! This is your chance to translate these theories into reality. This is an amazing journey I’m on with all of you. Thank you for letting me into your life!

Peace & Blessings Always,

Karuana

Thought of the Month

Listen to your Heart Voice!

Making Changes February 11, 2008

Posted by Karuana in Goal Setting.
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February 2008 Newsletter

Hello dear friends! Well our new year is in full swing and things are going to be exciting. This year is a time for us all to expand, make changes and live with more enthusiasm. I am so thrilled and thankful for all the wonderful feedback I have received from my first newsletter! Thank you to everyone who took the time to tell me my words were helpful and to those of you who just sent it over the airwaves as well. Message received!

This month I am going to share some tools for making changes in your life, at your own pace and through your own awareness. As always I hope you find the information useful.

Also we have some announcements that are at the bottom of the newsletter or just use the links at right. Enjoy and remember to find your enthusiasm! It’s your right!

February’s Topic: Making Changes, Gaining Courage

Everyone has things about themselves they’d like to change. Accomplishing your goals, as we discussed in January’s Newsletter, involves inviting change into your life, however sometimes the simplest goal involves much more change that we had ever anticipated.

Change is hard.  We are all afraid of making changes in our lives and there are few exceptions to that rule.  Sometimes we can feel a kind of excited anticipation of a change and other times it is shear dread.  I believe this comes from change feeling like we were stepping into the unknown and nothing is more scary than that.

This fear of change can keep us from making any changes at all.  I have more than once in my life experienced that kind of spiritual quicksand where I was not enjoying my current situation but felt powerless to do anything about it.  It was not a pleasant feeling.   If you are feeling stuck in an area of your life you might try the following steps to gently give yourself the information and motivation you need to make some different decisions.

Observe Your Own Behavior

Information is power. This is a phrase that is not only true in business but in your personal life as well. No savvy business manager would make changes to their business process without first taking stock of the situation at hand. Why then do we often feel as if we should sally forth and change things in our own lives without first taking a moment to really understand the current circumstances.

Observation, by definition, is a dispassionate process. It is intended to be a neutral inventory of a situation so that we might gather data in a non-judgmental manner. We can use the information to our own advantage. I define “to our own advantage” as moving us toward more harmony, connectedness and enthusiasm.

If you were doing the exercises around goal setting from January select one of those goals now in your own mind. For instance, maybe you are interested in making a career change, but don’t exactly know how to go about it. First it is important to observe what you do and don’t like about your current situation. You can use the tried and true tool of a pro & con list to start. Let your mind put on paper what it knows about the situation in these simple columns.

Next, to take it a step deeper, try answering these questions as they pertain to your current situation:

1. What about my current situation makes me feel unhappy, unworthy or unfulfilled?

2.  What about my current situation brings me joy, pleasure or stability?

3. When engaged in my current situation, do I feel anxious, unsure or confused? When or with who? How do I handle these feelings?

4. Have I ever been in this situation before? When, where and with whom? How did it change?

5. What would I tell my best friend to do if s/he were in my situation?

The process of writing is intended to be an exploration of your own feelings about your situation. Answering these questions can give you some insight on the deeper nature of the matter. If you are moved to write more then do it! You, yourself, have all the answers you need to find what you are looking for. Even when you don’t feel like it! The trick is to give yourself a place to find them.

Get Support & Gain Awareness

Now that you have some of your own information it is time to get some neutral outside input. Good decisions are not made in a vacuum. A fulfilling life is in part the result of personal determination, patience and the ability to seek information from others when necessary. The most accomplished people have not gotten there alone. They have created a group, sometimes very small, of people who support and encourage them. Here are a few suggestions on this task.

Find Someone Who Has Accomplished Your Goal: Look for people in your environment who have what you want! To continue our earlier example, do you know someone who is thrilled with their career? Ask them how they did it. You might be surprised at some of the answers.

Keep Anxiety at Bay: Make an effort to not allow anxiety or embarrassment to keep you from seeking out the knowledge and support that will help you along this path. Acknowledge those uncomfortable feelings, take a deep breath and ask the question anyway. You are building the emotional muscles needed to create change in your life and those feelings are a natural part of the process. They are only problematic if they keep you from taking actions that in your heart you know you need to do.

Talk to Trusted Friends: Discuss with one or two close friends or associates your goal and what you are trying to accomplish. The mutual support of friends that you trust and who are supportive is essential to making the journey an enjoyable one.

Avoid Nay-Sayers: More than one person has sabotaged their own goals by displaying them before the group nay-sayer. We all have people like this in our lives who themselves are so afraid of change that they always bring up the negative points about someone else’s plan. Now is not the time to invite these people into your process. Being gentle with yourself means not running the gauntlet of their invalidating energy while you are still figuring things out for yourself.

Find a Professional: Seek out a professional coach, therapist or intuitive. A large part of my practice is helping people stay focused on their goals and crystallize the plans that they are making. It is an empowering and enjoyable process and there are many talented people besides myself that can assist you. The most important thing is that you seek out assistance in a form that YOU are comfortable with.

Support, from any avenue that you are willing to accept it, is the magic ingredient that your spirit needs to create courage and courage is a requirement for embracing change!

Remember that this is not an exact science. It is a dynamic process. There is no wrong way to conduct this investigation into your own life. The information you get from these outside sources will assist you in gaining a solid and objective awareness of the situation at hand or the behavior that you want to change. Through the conversations you have with these individuals and your own reflection you will see yourself, your behavior and your options more clearly. You will have completed the self-inventory necessary to keep from repeating old patterns that no longer serve you.

When you have finished this process of observing the behavior of your current situation, getting support and gaining new awareness of what is, you will be ready to create what will be.

Make Different Decisions

Each and every day we make decisions that effect the nature and quality of our lives and those who care for us. What makes the difference between a life of fulfillment and enthusiasm and one built of drudgery and obligation is our conscious attention to the quality and pattern of those decisions.

By gaining awareness of the decisions we’ve made in the past we can choose to make different decisions for our future. The key element in this process ischoiceTaking back our choices, allowing them to serve us and lead us to our overall goals is one pillar of self-mastery. Often we can feel at the mercy of a situation. We keep a horrible job because we must support our children and pay our bills. We stay in an unsatisfying relationship because we do not know how to be alone. We disregard the spiritual nature of our lives because to question these issues makes us feel uncomfortable. But the power of our own existence, and I believe our own divinity, comes from our ability to choose differently!

Now maybe you can see why a support system of positive and encouraging people is so essential. Making different decisions that change the trajectory of our lives and hearts is a daunting process! Our actions however are our legacy both to ourselves and those who care for us. Claiming this right to make different choices is a powerful step toward fulfilling our hearts desire. This is what living in enthusiasm is all about.

At this point in the process the choices that you make are not random acts of chaos or fear. They are considered and considerate choices that take into account your own well being and that of others. They are compassionate and decisive and they are the result of the awareness that you have gained along the way. Through this process you might discover that it is not the work you do that you dislike, but that you don’t feel rewarded for it. So, it is not necessary to quit your job, but to discuss with your boss how you might create a career path that will recognize your contributions.

A dear friend of mine used to have on her bathroom mirror a little sticky that said “Today I am going to make the decisions that will take me where I want to go.” You too can do this!

Have a Different Experience

The end result of the preceding steps is that you will have a different experience of your life. Little by little, day by day, as you explore, discuss and investigate yourself you will gain the power to live differently. This is a gentle process. It is not harsh or abrasive. Compassion towards yourself as you walk the path is a worthwhile skill to develop.

You are the person who will reap the rewards of this work, but never underestimate the inspirational quality of this process. The connections you make with people along the way will feed your soul and you in turn will inspire others. Self-esteem is gained by doing esteemable acts and once achieved can not be taken away. We hold the power over our own lives and our own ability to embrace change in a positive, healing and useful manner. Fear and anxiety no longer need to paralyze us because we can discuss these things with our trusted circle and move forward. Our lives can be transformed into an adventure and when the inevitable set back occurs we can handle it gracefully.

Self-mastery is not something to pursue so we can get what we want, but so that we can be who we truly are. Join me in discovering this and above all remember to breath and keep your sense of humor! Whatever decisions you have made in the past no longer need to hijack your future. The time for change is now!

Thought of the Month

Choice is power, but choices made without information can be sabotaging to our quest for enthusiasm and fulfillment. This month let us explore ourselves, start building our support system and prepare for awareness, courage and different experiences to bring joy into our lives!

New Web site

We are excited to announce that we’ve redesigned our web site! We needed a fresh clean look and we have it! We hope you enjoy the new look as we continue to make improvements.

Magic Store Front

Our new web site now includes our Magic Store Front. Here you can check out the books, music and DVD’s that we find fun and inspirational or just search for your own items via the Amazon search widget. You can also pay for sessions or order a CD of your session online. All our payments are processed securely via PayPal and you do not need to have a PayPal account to use this service.

Each month we’ll be highlighting a new book or other item that we have added to our recommendations section. If you have something you think others would find fun e-mail us and we’ll review it as well.

Shortly, you will be able to purchase Living in Enthusiasm and Endless Magic gear from our site as well! We will keep you posted on those efforts in future newsletters.

Good Deed of the Month – Offset Your Carbon Usage

Our link page has also been updated and I found the greatest web site which allows you to analyze your own carbon footprint and donate to green projects that will offset the output that is generated from traveling. The folks atSustainable Travel International are doing great work. I fly at least once per month so I donated $21 to contribute to projects that would offset the carbon output of a round trip flight from Los Angeles to Seattle. It is a great site and a great cause. Check it out in our Environmental Links section.

About the Author:

Karuana Gatimu is a spiritual counselor and life strategist. She conducts her private practice in Redondo Beach, California counseling clients on attaining self-mastery using both ancient and new methodologies.

If you would you like some assistance with living in enthusiasm and pursuing your own path of self-mastery, schedule a personal session at your convenience. Conducted in person or via telephone sessions last approximately 2 hours and can be for both individuals and couples. E-mail or call 310-359-0706 for session details and pricing.

© 2008 Karuana Gatimu & Endless Magic, LLC