A Survivor Guide To The Trump Era: Embrace Uncertainty

PHOTOART fantastic adventure in a storm

A week before the inauguration of Donald Trump, I was on an airplane going to Florida. There was a tremendous amount of turbulence on the trip so I gripped both of my armrests tightly. As I braced myself, my body got very tense and I started feeling stressed and worried. It occurred to me after several minutes as my shoulders became tenser that it was ridiculous to hold my armrests for security—I was 30,000 feet in the air!  I released my hands and placed them in my lap. I started just to breathe deeply. I slowly became calmer as I sought to let go of my fear. The turbulence lasted for most but not all of the flight. When we landed in Florida, it was 80 degrees, sunny and very pleasant.

I imagine many people can relate. The turbulence on the plane made me uncomfortable because it triggered feelings of uncertainty about my safety. In everyday life, many of us feel emotional turbulence when life is uncertain.  We try to avoid these feelings by making careful decisions about our jobs, relationships and our kids.  Even though intellectually we know certainty does not exist, we strive for it, trying to play it safe and taking solace in our decisions. But life is filled with unexpected events, and the minute something unforeseen happens, the uncertainty of the situation can activate fear and negativity about what might happen in the future.

This is one of the reasons why Donald Trump makes so many people uncomfortable.  He brings our fear of uncertainty right in front of our noses every day.  He brings us turbulence.  Whether you like Donald Trump or not, he reminds Continue reading…

If You Judge People, You Have No Time To Love Them. Mother Teresa

Liebespackerl

A friend of mine just moved away. We weren’t very close and one of the reasons was that I found it very difficult to be with her. She was often complaining about her ex-husband being the cause of all her problems, she was always starting new businesses that she never followed through on and I was not always clear if she was telling the truth. After she left town, I was sitting with a group of women and these women also thought my friend was complicated, but they all had amazing stories of great times with her. She was very spontaneous, funny and loved to go out and live it up. She was also very dedicated to her children. And yet I could not recall one moment that I had with her that was interesting or fun.

Later that day I came across the Mother Teresa quote, “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” Although I was always trying to help my friend, I realized my judgments about her had interfered with my enjoyment of her company. I am not really sure that I was ever present for her. Was she difficult? Absolutely, but my judgments about what she “needed to do to improve her life” kept me from having a more loving and enjoyable relationship even for just an evening or a moment.

Our judgments interfere with many of our relationships. They give us a sense of righteousness, but sometimes all that is really happening is that we are not getting what we want from the other person or they are not doing what we think is best for them. In fact, judging someone is an easy path. It is much more challenging to be loving, accepting and kind when the person in front of us is not acting the way we want them to. The act of loving is going beyond our “likes and dislikes” and surrendering our judgments so we can freely share our love with another person and celebrate their magnificence and not their failings. I’m not suggesting that we ignore the truth about how we feel someone acted towards us or how they acted in a particular situation, but that instead we also allow ourselves to see the whole person. Often we will find there is so much beauty when we are less judgmental and more loving. We can enjoy the essence of another person and the moment we are sharing together.

So even if we find our mother-in-law is difficult, our best friend is opinionated or our children are not listening or doing well in school, let’s try not to miss out on enjoying what we can with each of them. What could be more important about being human than sharing the warmth and love that resides in our heart? As for my friend, I don’t regret trying to help her, but Maybe when she comes back to town we can go out and just enjoy each other’s company! It could be a blast!

Are You On An Emotional Rollercoaster Every Day?

Business roller coaster ride concept

My client, Lauren, came to me a few months ago frustrated that she could not stay joyful all day long. She felt her emotions were a rollercoaster depending on what she was experiencing in the outside world. I asked her to keep a journal so we could look at what was triggering her emotions. When we reviewed her journal, it read 
like this:

I woke up in the morning really excited for the possibilities of my day. I had some toast and coffee and I felt great. I woke the children up and they were very cranky. Steven would not eat breakfast 
and Sophia would not stop screaming. I finally got them out the door 
and I felt so negative and annoyed. Why is my life like this? I bet 
other parents don’t have this type of morning. The children missed the 
bus and I had to drive them to school. I was thirty minutes late for 
work and I was tired and cranky. I went to my desk and saw that my boss was out sick so I had until tomorrow for my project. I felt positive. About two hours later the phone rang and it was my brother asking me for money and I really did not want to lend him money again. I started to feel negative again.



Lauren wanted more emotional balance in her life but she could not just snap her fingers and turn off her thoughts and reactions to the outside world. Lauren wanted to know how she could cultivate an inner joy and space that would sustain her throughout the day no matter what she faced.

Here is my daily practice that I shared with Lauren to help her maintain emotional stability throughout her
 day:

1. Gratitude! I wrote about this before in the Attitude of 
Gratitude Post. In the morning when I wake up, before my mind starts going through everything I need to do for the day, I stop and remind myself of all the people and things for which I am grateful. I was never one to list things or keep a routine, but the gratitude list helps me gain a sustainable perspective before I even get out of bed. I have a greater understanding of what is really important to me throughout the day and I am less affected by outside daily events. I also end my days with a gratitude exercise, this time focusing on fortunate circumstances from the day.  A better perspective before I go to bed on the day that has passed allows me to calm my mind, stay hopeful and sleep better.

2. I remember the mantra of Maybe throughout the day. Sometimes when we get upset it is because we believe that we are stuck in a pattern and things are not going our way. We forget that life will change again. We can remind ourselves that as bad as things may look or feel, there are always the possibilities that Maybe what is happening will turn out to be good, Maybe it will get better or Maybe we can make peace and live with what we are experiencing and still be okay.  With Maybe we can return to the present peacefully and have hope for the future.

3. Sometimes we don’t even realize that we have become negative and down until hours or days later. Creating awareness of when and how our emotions get low is an ongoing practice. Sometimes, when clients such as
 Lauren journal their day, it becomes more clear to them when they take dips. By creating awareness 
around our emotional dips and turns, we have a guide as to when to use Maybe and other techniques to ward off too many mood swings. Some people set alarms at specific times during the day when they can look at the clock and take note of what is going on around them and within themselves.  It reminds them to be present and grateful, and the result is awareness of what is important.

4. I make a point of filling my day with little things that remind me of joy. Sometimes it 
is as simple as a cup of tea and other times it is making time for a call with a friend or relative.  I like to spread these little joys throughout the day to
 remind me of the feeling of joy and steer me toward emotional balance.

Having this daily practice does not mean you will never feel sad, negative or anxious.  It merely stops us from dwelling too far into negative emotions for the little and sometimes bigger mishaps that occur during the day.  It helps us keep a bigger perspective on what is really important, as well as all that is still possible in our lives. The more aware we become of the things that throw us off course, the less we will allow daily experiences to overcome our inner joy and path.

Lauren finds the practice is really helping her not feel so desperate and negative every time something unexpected or undesirable happens in her life.  She appreciates what she has and realizes that Maybe is always by her side.

So Maybe give it try.  Who knows what can happen?

Can We Choose How We Feel?

Amusement Park

 Gratitude is the process of appreciating what is and letting go of what is not.   Allison Carmen

A few weeks ago, my children were off for spring break and my husband and I decided to take the girls to Disneyworld for a few days. The first two days were a lot of fun. We also took a detour to Universal Studios to visit the Harry Potter attractions and just enjoyed our time together as a family. On the third day, my older daughter woke up nauseous and I thought it would just pass so we headed to the amusement park. By 2 pm, we were running to the hotel room for what turned out to be a stomach virus.   My husband headed back to the park with my younger daughter and there I was in my hotel room at Disneyworld with my older daughter feeling just awful.

As I squeezed myself out the door onto our small balcony overlooking the giraffes (we stayed at the Animal Kingdom), I could hear several children laughing and having a great time. I felt my mood start to drop and had the following thoughts: “It’s not fair that those children get to enjoy Disneyworld and we don’t”; “I can’t believe we spent all of this money to sit in this room”; and “This is the worst vacation ever.” As I let myself dip further and further into this mood, I started to suffer greatly. As I felt myself slipping, I actually asked myself out loud, “Do I really want to have this experience with this mindset? I am in a lot of emotional pain.” I took a deep breath and decided to accept my situation, be grateful for what I had and make the best of it. This shift in my mindset changed everything.

Many of us have read articles and posts about gratitude, acceptance and “making the best of a situation” but we find it hard to actually do it. The reason it is sometimes difficult to shift our mindset is because we are afraid of the future and our minds cannot rest with the fear of what will be. I always turn everyone to the idea of Maybe in these situations. But there are also times when fear of the future is not the cause of our negativity. Instead, it stems from being disappointed that we are not getting what we want in the moment. Many of us have these types of negative feelings throughout the day. We get stuck in traffic, someone rejects us, we have to work more than we expected, our children need help with their homework but we have something else we want or need to do, or the weather is not cooperating. Life is not going as planned and we are angry and upset.

Yet, in these moments we have a choice to shift our perspective. For me, when I made the choice to see it differently, all of a sudden I felt joy. How could I be joyous sitting in a small dark hotel room with an animal motif with my child feeling sick? I knew her stomach virus would pass and I did not want to give up another moment of life complaining that things were not working out as planned. We put on the television and watched reruns of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Castle and a few other shows that I cannot even remember. We talked and laughed in between moments of her not feeling well. The next day my younger one woke up not feeling so good and we did it all again. It was not my preference to be sitting in the hotel room, but I felt peaceful and content to be with them. They did rally back the following day and we returned to the amusement park. They whined a bit about nausea and we only went on a few rides but we had some laughs and enjoyed the fireworks.

The day we were leaving, we had some time to spare because it was raining. I took a deep sigh of relief that everyone felt okay and we would be headed home in a few hours. I then heard beeping on my phone. There was a tornado warning in our immediate area and we were directed to seek immediate shelter. Instead of thinking this is a lousy end to a difficult vacation, we took cover in a nice restaurant and ended up having a great lunch!

So today, whatever you are experiencing, ask yourself, “Is my mindset causing me emotional pain? Can I accept this situation and be grateful for what is in my life? Is there a way to ‘make the best of it’ and choose joy instead of negativity?” It’s not always easy, but often with some effort we can find the path to get the most out of each moment in life.