Category Archives: Personal Development

Go from "This, No" to "Yes, That!"

Positive Thinking Reverse-Psychology for Times of Transition

Go from "This, No" to "Yes, That!"If you are in the middle of contemplating a life transition, you may be finding it difficult to find your way in the midst of confusing thoughts and feelings. By exploring the “no” feelings in your life, you can see what important things are out of sync… And then look at what feels like a “yes”, to recognize what is working and build on it.

If there are more things shouting “no” than there are things affirming, “yes,” then it’s time to daydream a little about what would make you feel more “yes” in your life, and give yourself permission to make a little more room for things that make your cells sing.

Positive thinking can improve life, but until we acknowledge what isn’t working, we can’t easily identify what will work given the right attention. Our positive intentions must be backed by a real awareness of what we are truly getting out of our current manifestation. By knowing what you don’t want, you can then shift your attention toward what you do want.

I have found that looking at life from the following perspectives has helped myself and others to identify what is and isn’t working. After answering the following questions, you can re-frame your vision toward positive life changes and the sort of powerful focus that creates exciting manifestation. Looking at the well-being of your body, finances, self-esteem, and creative expression will help identify what is and isn’t in alignment for you and will empower you to make more affirmative choices in your time of transition.

Where is “no” popping up in your life?

What is your body telling you?

  • I generally don’t “feel good” doing what I am doing.
  • My body suffers under the current paradigm: it makes me physically ill, or degrades my quality of life through a physical manifestation of pain and/or stress.
  • I feel like it takes all of my energy to be positive and focus on the good around me.
  • My energy is depleted from segmenting myself off into the specialized needs that are asked of me each day, yet do not fulfill me.
  • I have greater cravings for things that sate and soothe my body, like sweets, comfort foods, alcohol, or drugs.

What do your finances say?

  • My finances are showing a similar state of debt to my physical and emotional well-being.
  • I feel enslaved by my circumstances due to a need to improve my financial security, yet I don’t seem able to make any progress however much I try.
  • I am able to easily see the things that block my financial growth, but find it difficult to see opportunities, or to find the time or energy to explore new ideas that would help me move forward.

How do you feel about yourself?

  • There is not enough room in my current paradigm to fully be myself.
  • I do not feel valued.
  • I feel threatened or unsafe in expressing myself fully.
  • I don’t feel like I can put the appropriate percentage of my focus on things that matter to me personally or creatively.

What is your creative world experiencing?

  • I don’t feel like my ideas matter.
  • I can’t express myself creatively without feeling as if others are angry with me for taking my energy away from them.
  • There is no time for me to be creative.
  • I am afraid to take risks, because I might “get in trouble” for failing.

The “yes” feelings pave the road to positive thinking and positive changes…

The body’s way of communicating its support:

  • I feel good when I am creating things that showcase my unique talents.
  • I like getting rest, eating well, and having enough time to follow a schedule that makes sense to my body and its needs.
  • When I focus on things that make me feel good, I find that the positive emotions that result create more energy for me to focus on things that matter to me.
  • I am living in a fully-embodied way that makes use of all my strengths and allows me to step into the right environments where I feel safe and supported in my talents.
  • I have stronger cravings for things that make my body feel nourished and only eat until full. I find it easy to enjoy special treats in moderation.

How do finances look from a yes state of being?

  • My finances feel like they are in a state of healthy flow and continue to grow from a strong foundation of physical and emotional well-being.
  • My pursuit of financial success supports my goals and is another factor spurring my creativity in many areas of my life.
  • I am able to see financial opportunities and I find it easy to collaborate with others who can help me stay on track with my financial aims.

What is it like to live from an aligned sense of self?

  • My current life situation is an avenue through which I am able to fully explore who I am.
  • I support myself, and this gives others permission to be true to themselves. I also have more energy to give more direct assistance to those who can benefit from my help.
  • I see my value, and attract people into my life who also recognize my value.
  • I feel safe expressing myself because I know my own worth and surround myself by people who appreciate what I have to say.
  • Through the ups and downs of life, I ultimately feel as if I have sovereignty over my affairs and can mostly direct where I put my energy.

Is your creative self shouting “yes”?

  • My ideas are important, and I feel enthusiasm in exploring them.
  • I choose relationships and environments in which I am encouraged to nourish myself creatively.
  • I express myself because I know the world needs what I can give, and in taking time for myself, I am giving the gift of my talents back to the world.
  • I feel ready to take risks, because the thrill of what I will discover on the journey is greater than the fear of what I will lose or the mistakes I might make. I recognize that each great creation thrives on “mistakes” for its successful evolution.

Overall, is your current manifestation giving you a “no” feeling, or a “yes” feeling?

What things can you do that would help you feel your “yes”? When you contemplate the “yes” feelings you are wishing to draw into your life, what sorts of things do you envision yourself manifesting to create these feelings?

Is it time to make a transition? Do you need to change, but don’t feel ready to make a transition? If not, what do you need to feel ready?

Take one step toward it, today. While you pave the road, put your positive thinking to work today by letting your cells feel the “yes” of where you want to go. Maybe it’s just a daydream for now, but that’s how every good thing starts. Feel good imagining your brave new world now, so you can train your whole being to see opportunities that will take you where you really want to be, and you will have the energy of “yes” to draw upon while you take little steps toward your vision. (And remember, permission to move toward your dream can only come from you… There is no sacred “yes” that is more important than your own.)

The real secret to powerful manifestation isn’t just about being in a positive frame of mind, you must also feel empowered to act on your visions. I find that most of the blockages I experience are caused by making the task seem too daunting to achieve, but if I break my efforts down into smaller pieces that I can attain easily from a relaxed state of mind, I begin to flow more quickly into the worlds I am trying to create through my focused attention.

Action is a necessary ingredient to manifestation because we are embodied beings in a world that is very much alive and in motion. However, we can choose to act mindfully in the face of transition, and let our emotions guide us toward activities that fill us up instead of depleting us. Ultimately, if we are moving toward positive sensations from a belief in the positive, we can’t go far awry. Yet it is essential to acknowledge the messages our body sends us in the form of negative feelings, because hiding from them robs them of their power to transform our lives.

Don’t forget to take your body along for the ride… It possesses tremendous wisdom and is your most powerful collaborator. It will reward your positive thinking with good feelings, and these good feelings can also help to remind you when you are on the right track. If you are having trouble separating out what feels like a “no” or a “yes” in your life, then rely on your body to tell you. You might have to get really quiet to hear what it has to say, but if you give it time, it will communicate with you and help bring clarity to your decision-making.

What has been a big “no” in your life of late, and what “yes” are you moving toward?


Round-About Resolutions for a Perfectionist

I don’t really make new year’s resolutions (maybe cuz I am worried that using the term “resolution” will jinx me somehow), but if there was one thing I would focus on improving in 2012, it would be to reach out to others more for feedback in my endeavors and to experiment more publicly. (Okay, okay, it’s a resolution.)

I am a huge perfectionist. I get it from my mother and grandmother, who both said, “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.” (Nevermind that “right” is a totally amorphous undertaking.) Until reading an article from Dr. Jeff Szymanski, the author of The Perfectionist’s Handbook, I never really connected my perfectionism with my likelihood to trudge forward on personal projects without much input from others. But apparently it is endemic of perfectionists to behave this way, and it makes perfect sense. Dr. Szymanksi outlines the tendency for perfectionists to think that showing a product to others in a potentially imperfect state creates the impression — primarily and perhaps even only to the perfectionist — that they aren’t showing their best work and are therefore performing below par, an assumption that makes one tend to hold something close to the chest until the very last moment. Yet he argues that early feedback and involvement from others can provide a stepping stone from which to make a number of previously unconsidered modifications that can allow any endeavor to shine that much more brightly. He argues that in order to be a true perfectionist, one has to go beyond their ingrained perfectionistic habits and put the imperfect product up on the critique board.

He also talks about how procrastination is a main theme for perfectionists. If we feel we can’t do it perfectly, then we may never get a start.

I like mulling on the topic of perfectionism especially at this time of year, as it is often our over-inflated expectations of ourselves that keep us from actually achieving any new years resolutions we may have set for ourselves. Perhaps the answer isn’t in setting lower expectations, but in understanding that striving is most important, and that we are never really going to fully arrive. It’s good to leave room for unexpected twists and surprises. Maybe the outside world will give feedback that will point things in a new direction, or priorities will shift… Or even doing a little bit is better than doing nothing. After all, we never really ever fulfill our potential, as our potential only grows as we grow.

In Jonathan Fields’ book, Uncertainty: Turning Fear & Doubt Into Fuel for Brilliance, he talks a lot about leaning into our doubts and opening up our endeavors to the input of others, sometimes in a very public way. It can create accountability, but also it allows us to lean on the genius of others in reaching for our goals. And of course I’m talking Goals here with a capital G… Starting that book that’s been lurking in the back of your mind, lighting a fire under your business, evolving your painting passion into an entrepreneurial endeavor.

You could set some resolutions that are easy to achieve, low-hanging fruit that will make you feel accomplished, something to keep you inspired to do more. I have a friend whose resolution last year was to wear more suits, and he achieved that one with aplomb. Mine this year is to be more compassionate, especially with myself… A little more esoteric, but one that I am certain I will accomplish, and even moreso with the added focus of making it my resolution. The big Resolutions are ones that I am not so sure I will achieve, if I am to be honest, but that I am dedicated to making progress on. Blogging consistently, sharing more with my social networks, experimenting and helping others as much as possible through the sharing of information and ideas. All of these things have been on my radar some way in the past, and every year I gain more progress, improve my habits, build better and better foundations. I’m even more successful when I overcome my tendency to ferret something away until it feels perfect enough… Which it never does. Learning to live with that artist idiosyncrasy is the best thing I have gained as an adult, because I can more easily fulfill my promise of being more compassionate with myself when I remember it.

So perhaps this year’s ultimate goal for me is to give in to the process and reduce my stranglehold on perfection. After all, in a constantly evolving world — especially the landscape of communication, society and business called the internet — one is best served by leaning into the community and innovating real-time than letting ideas of perfectionism cause one to stagnate and lose relevancy. Feedback is something that is inevitable anyway, and the earlier one receives feedback, the earlier one can change course or reconsider… or the earlier one can come to terms with the fact that they are going to do it their way no matter what. Perfectionism is a moving target. Connection and evolution thrive on communication and the willingness to experiment and put things out there.

And a good dose of compassion can help us along the way as the Road of Resolutions makes its twists and turns throughout 2012. Here’s hoping that yours starts off with a wonderful wind in your sails.

Give Up on Getting Permission

Some years I find certain topics seem to come to the forefront of my life, and this year the theme seems to be permission. That glorious feeling, when someone, something, or even the big universe seems to say, “YES! Go for it!” When others are in agreement for what you are wanting to achieve in your heart of heart, if you have the ears to hear it and the heart to receive it, it can feel like the best “Yes” of your life.

Sometimes we get that support, that outside permission. I have some amazing girlfriends who rally around me when I am winding threads of feeling and idea into new places. I have family who love me. I have a number of amazing role models out there who show me that I do have a voice worth sharing, and that I deserve the things I want for myself.

Yet sometimes we can’t get permission. Maybe some people are telling you “Yes,” but it’s not the “Yes” you are ready to receive. Maybe you’re waiting for that one person to give you permission… Your mother, your father, your sibling, your best friend, your significant other. Maybe you’re waiting for a sign… Yet, when you see one, it never seems strong enough to give you the go ahead. And you ponder the “How?” and it always seems to elude you.

And then you realize, finally… Sometimes you just need to give yourself permission. Make the leap. Jump into the deep end. Get something moving. No matter if you get permission or flack for doing it. Because ultimately, no one can tell you what is right for you. You have to learn to trust yourself enough, and value yourself enough, to say “Yes,” to you.

It may look crazy to everyone else. After a year including a spontaneous divorce, an invigorating summer full of madcap exploration when I most needed to save my money, and a number of experimental thoughts and projects, I can say that it in all likelihood you will look crazy to everyone else. I’ve grown closer with some friends as I grieved the loss of my marriage and embraced a new me-focused life, and I have seen some fade in the midst of the sometimes difficult to understand or even seemingly unwise (but for me at the time, totally necessary) decisions I made. I have learned that what seems unwise does not have to be wrong. I can look at myself with compassion and realize that it just took a few bold, heart-on-my-sleeve moves to snap me out of my stupor and bring me back to myself. Next time I hope I’ll find a more peaceful way… A way in which I give myself permission sooner, before I lose myself in a cloud of confusion, awaiting that outside “Yes,” that should have come from within.

No one can say but you whether it is time to make that leap into permission, or if you still have some inner and outer work to do for you to feel fully supported. We all have different ebbs and flows, and different needs. There are kinds of security that nurture and support and kinds of security that undermine your passion and drive. If it is security (or insecurity) holding you back, then only you can evaluate your condition and needs, in the privacy of your own heart.

At the end of the day, we realize… No one else gave us the permission. We were ready to act on it because we had finally given it to ourselves.

If we give up on getting permission, we become free to know our own heart and make our own decisions, and become the best advocates for personal permission that we could ever be, through our own lit-from-within example.

What do you need to give yourself permission for, and when will you be ready to give it?

Sharlto Copley’s monologue in this Nedbank commercial inspires us to go for it:


5 Tips for Well-Intentioned Success

There are five things you can do to make sure the parameters you set for success are the most fulfilling, most positive, and most attracting for your big (or small) project. Keeping these things in mind throughout all phases of the project will ensure that you get only the best out of your endeavor.

Intentional Success: Tip #1

Define your parameters for success… before you even start preparations. Creating intention is a powerful thing, and it can set the tone for everything on the project, long before you have officially begun. Set the tone for what you want, and you’ll be amazed at what shows up to help you along the way. This also allows you to positively frame any setbacks that appear. You decide what is important and what you can let go.

Set the tone for success from the beginning, and things will line up to support you.

Intentional Success: Tip #2

Hone in on your core intentions and reframe any that come from a place of fear. Are your intentions really positive, go-get-em-tiger aspirations, or are they framed in anticipation of failure? If you think, “God, I couldn’t possibly bear to fall short of X,” then you know you are onto a potentially destructive intention that is all about fear rather than faith. Can you get to the bottom of why X would feel like a failure? If it touches on any hot button topics for you, journal it out or talk to a friend. Change how you think about it until the potential realization of that failure starts to look like a door to a new success.

Stressful projects are made to bring up new things for you to deal with… So try to deal with those negative assumptions ahead of time so they are less likely to make a surprise visit, at the time you want it least! And most of all, be gentle with yourself if they do come up. Breathe and reframe the failure until you can see why it is actually an opening to learning something new.

Artists know about the “happy accident,” where a mistake becomes a brilliant discovery. Leave room for those accidents to become acts of genius!

Intentional Success: Tip #3

Prioritize your intentions so you know what to aim for first. What is the most important intention for you on your project? When you keep this in mind, it helps to focus your thoughts about success more keenly. You may think you want to win a contest or blow away the competition… But maybe you really want to enjoy yourself or make new connections. Sure, maybe there is an edge of competition to what you are trying to achieve, but if you know you really want to put fun first, for instance, you can remind yourself to approach it in a spirit of playful contest. Don’t let others define your intentions for you, either, or you may end up losing motivation right when things are getting heated, when you realize you leapt on board for someone else’s measures of success.

Your primary intention of success will line up all the rest of your intentions, and will give a clear direction for your energy.

Intentional Success: Tip #4

When it’s done… sleep!… then review your successes. You may have to take a break and get some rest after you are done with your Big Thing, because a tired mind is not always the most kind. When you get a bit of downtime (which I hope you have built into your plan!), write in your journal, take some time to meditate, or take yourself on a walk or out to breakfast.

Compare your achievements to your intended goals. Did something go off the rails? Did you reach too high? Or did you go in knowing that it was tough and you were satisfied to have tried? Maybe you framed everything in such a way that you feel like the whole thing was a huge success! Take stock of everything and file it away.

Remember… setting high goals can be invigorating, with the right attitude. And if you feel disappointment about something after the project is done, try to reframe your analysis. You probably achieved things you hadn’t even accounted for and received gifts that you never would have imagined on your own. And if you did your work from the start and set positive intentions, the chances of those things being very easy to find will be extremely high.

Most people wrap up a project by thinking about what they should do differently next time. Just make sure you give ample time to acknowledge the good… without equivocation.

Intentional Success: Tip #5

Tell everyone how awesome you are. Okay, so you don’t spend all the livelong day boring friends and families with tales of your supreme wonderfulness, but definitely toot your horn about what you achieved! You worked hard and you earned it.

Sharing your success with others teaches them to embrace their own success, and it helps you build on your own feelings of esteem for the Next Big Thing.