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Do You Have the Boss From Hell? June 19, 2014

Posted by Ann Bertorelli in career development, Coaching, workplace success.
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Having hierarchical levels has pretty much become necessary in most companies. If you happen to work in a company that has no levels and no real bosses, then read no further unless you want to help out your buddy who does have the boss from hell.

Most bosses are people who have been promoted because they showed leadership promise and were interested in supervising and leading others. However, like the rest of the population, there are the occasional ‘bad actors’ who for whatever reason make life miserable to those who report to them.

Strategies to Stay Sane

if you’re in the difficult position of working for the boss from hell, you have probably tried your own strategies for staying sane in the face of arrogance, incompetence, lack of compassion, or whatever flavor of craziness your boss demonstrates. However, I’d like to add a few strategies that you may find helpful to tide you over until the situation eases or end.

  1. Spend some time listening to what your boss says—in meetings, in relaxed moments, in conversation with his/her cronies. And while you are listening, turn off that critic in your head that provides a running commentary on how awful, unreasonable, or incompetent your boss is. Why do this? Because you want to learn as much as you can about what is important to your boss. By learning this you can be in a position to take care of those concerns without being asked to, thereby building trust with the boss. So if you determine that your boss is very interested in looking good to his boss (and who isn’t?), you can make sure to add to that positive picture whenever you can. And if you can leave behind your negative judgments about your boss while doing it, the better it will go. Remember, the better the boss looks the quicker that promotion will come his way, leaving you with a sigh of relief.
  2. Suck it up. Sometimes we get caught in a being critical of the boss because he or she does not do things the way our old boss did, or the way we’d like them done. In a perfect world, we’d work the way we want to all of the time. But in case you haven’t noticed, it’s not a perfect world. So take a deep breath, and give your boss a break. Sometimes, just sometimes, it’s not your boss—it’s you. (Read this blog post for some less than successful types at work:  5 People Who Probably Won’t be Successful at Work
  3. Don’t add fuel to the fire. If your boss’ particular misbehavior is screaming and carrying on, your response should be dead calm. For you to respond in kind will lead to escalation of emotions- –not a pretty picture. ‘Stay calm and carry on,’ to quote the Brits.
  4. Avoid being a doormat. You may think that this advice flies in the face of the one above but not really. You are an employee, not an indentured servant. If your boss consistently asks you to do things that are clearly out of your job responsibilities AND not something that adds to your job knowledge or development, you are perfectly within your rights to protest. Yes, I know it can be hard to stand up to your boss, scary in fact. And that’s why we have HR departments. And if you are being sexually harassed or in any other way threatened…don’t think for a moment. Go report it.
  5. Make the hard decision. If you have a truly abusive, incompetent, or otherwise impossible boss, and the prospect of it getting better does not look promising, it may be time to move on. If your crazy boss is driving you crazy, looking for and securing a new job is a small price to pay for peace of mind. Look here for a post on soul-killing jobs.

I hope these strategies have given you some ideas for new actions you can take to thrive at your job, even if you have a crazy-making boss. And if you find that you need some help, let me remind you that I am a workplace success coach. Follow this link to find out how to work with me: Work With Me

Good luck with that boss…

Leave a comment if you’ve got a great story about a boss from hell!

Will Job Success Make You Happy or Will Being Happy Bring You Job Success? May 28, 2014

Posted by Ann Bertorelli in Coaching, workplace success, Self-Development, workplace success.
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How often have you thought to yourself something like, “If only I could get that promotion I’d be really happy in life.” Then lo and behold, you get the promotion and you’re just not as happy as you thought you’d be. The reason for this is that when we link our happiness to an external event or thing, we keep raising the bar for happiness.

Shawn Achor is a well-known author who writes about the nature of happiness. His book is called The Happiness Advantage. In a TED talk, he talks about how job success is directly linked to how happy we are. If you’d like to watch the video use this link:  Shawn Achor Ted Talk

Only 25 % of Job Success is Linked to IQ

As I watched the video I was intrigued and excited by a different twist on achieving success in the workplace. Achor’s research shows that only 25% of our success at work can be attributed to our IQ. This made sense to me. I’ve worked with some people in my career who, while very intelligent, were not a huge success at their job because their interpersonal skills and/or their moods were problematic. Instead, he says that the remaining 75% success factor is determined by a person’s optimism, their social support, and how they relate to the stress in their job.

We Become More Successful when We’re Happy

But perhaps the most interesting part of the talk is that research shows that when we are happy and we then get more successful. We are much more likely to be successful if we are functioning from our ‘happy place’ rather than from a stressed, depressed or otherwise unhappy state. Salespeople have better sales results, doctors make better diagnoses, your intelligence and creativity rises. Hmmm, I don’t know about you but I’m going to make sure my doctor is very happy the next time I visit him with a problem.

So what does this mean for you? I’m sure you’re reading this blog because you want to be more successful at work, right? The implication is that if we can train our brains to be happy, we’ll find more success at work (and other areas of our life.)

How Do You Train Yourself to be Happy?

So how do we do that? How do we ‘accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative.’ (That’s a really old song and if you’re in your 20’s or 30’s you’ve probably never heard of it but if you’ve got extra time on your hands or you’re avoiding an unpleasant task here’s a link to hear it: Accentuate the Positive)

3 Gratitudes

But I digress…I was talking about how you train your brain to be positive. Shawn Achor mentions a number of strategies in his talk. However, I have two favorites to suggest. The first is ‘3 Gratitudes’ which is the practice of writing down three different things that you are grateful for every day for 21 days. You may remember that conventional wisdom states that it takes 21 days to establish a new habit. I’ve been using this practice for a number of years off and on and I have found that I feel happier when I’m reflecting on what’s good about my life rather than a laundry list of things that aren’t working.

Meditation

The second practice is that of meditation. Meditation helps me to focus my mind rather than hopping around from thought to thought. That’s not to say that when I meditate I have a still mind…nope. But the practice of applying the intention of stilling the mind ultimately does still the mind and makes me more centered and content. And it’s a practice, rather than an achievement—some days are better than others…

So what do you think? Are you willing to try a little experiment? Try either one of the strategies I’ve listed or any of the others from Achor’s video—or even one of your own. See if you get more positive and then notice how that transfers to your success at work. Bet you’ll see something interesting.

If you’d like to explore the possibility of receiving job success coaching, take a look at my programs here.  Work With Me

Being Kinder Than Necessary April 28, 2014

Posted by Ann Bertorelli in Coaching, workplace success.
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I was dusting the top of my TV yesterday (something I do fairly regularly, honest). I moved a wooden decoration that I keep on top of the TV which says “Be kinder than necessary.” And since I was thinking about my next blog post, I put two and two together and thought that sentence would make a great theme for a blog post—hence the words that follow.

People are not always thrilled to be at work.

People get cranky at work. It happens to the best of us. We are often working when we’d rather be playing. Or we’re under a lot of stress to do more with less. Or we just don’t like the people we are forced to work with. Or our boss is a real shit….and the list goes on. So since we do get cranky, work relationships can get strained and stay that way.

Working with a good community of people makes for high job satisfaction.

That said, I recently did a little research on what makes for high work satisfaction and guess what. A good community of people to work with ranks right up there—often number 2 or 3 on the list. This leads me to the startling conclusion that to be happier at work it’s best to get along with those with whom we work. (Notice I refrained from putting ‘with’ at the end of that sentence?)

That’s where the advice, “Be kinder than necessary” comes in. Here are some of my suggestions about bringing it to your work life. I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t use it in your personal life; it’s just that my suggestions pertain to work. Remember I’m a workplace success coach (shameless self-promotion)

So here goes…

· Refuse to engage in negative third party conversations about anyone. There is nothing that destroys trust faster than when someone finds out you’ve been criticizing them behind their back. And while we’re on that subject, how do you think the people you are talking to feel about that? They are maybe thinking that you’ll be bad-mouthing them behind their backs the next time you get the chance. Make it a policy to keep your opinion to yourself unless you are specifically asked to give feedback or unless withholding your assessment would have disastrous results.

· While we’re on the subject of feedback, when you are asked for feedback, try engaging your brain before you speak. What is the most useful feedback you can give? What has precipitated the request for your feedback? How much negative feedback is helpful?

And don’t just pile on the negative stuff, try being encouraging and supportive about something the person has done—even if you have to dig very, very deep. Give feedback about something that the person can hope to change. If their voice is scratchy and annoying on the phone, perhaps you could mention something else. It’s a little hard to change the voice you were born with. And rather than a punch list of a hundred improvements, stick with the most important. Above all, give feedback the way you’d like someone to give it to you—unless you are very thick-skinned and nothing bothers you. In that case, just dial it back until you see how it’s being received.

· When you have to do something that’s ‘not your job’ do it gracefully and without editorializing. Maybe the person you are standing in for is a real screw-up or just maybe he or she is having a bad day because their elderly parent is dying. Before you rush to judgment about someone who is not measuring up to your standards, take a deep breath and be kinder than necessary about the situation.

· And on to standards. One of the things that causes us to criticize others is that they don’t measure up to our set of standards. How could they? Stop yourself for a moment or two when you’re ready to open your mouth to criticize someone. Is your way really the only ‘right’ way or is it just your way? Who made you master of the universe? Leave room for the styles and problem-solving practices of others and you may find a new and even better way of attacking a problem.

There is a whole load of ways that you can be kinder than necessary to others at work. I’ll leave it to you to figure out what they are in your particular workplace. The important thing is not what you actually do but how you do it. If you hold the intention that you are going to be kinder than necessary at work, you may (read ‘should’) find that your workplace becomes a kinder, gentler place for you too.

And after all, you deserve that.

What To Do When Your Co-Worker is Driving You Nuts December 11, 2013

Posted by Ann Bertorelli in Coaching, workplace success.
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I’ve been coaching people in the workplace for 14 years now. And as a workplace coach I get the opportunity to listen to a lot of stories of frustration and woe. Invariably these stories are about conflict that my client is having with another person they work with. And of course, it’s always the fault of the other insensitive, inconsiderate, incompetent—or any other in-word that you’d prefer. Of course as a good coach should do, I always listen carefully to the story. And then comes the expectant pause in which I am expected to utter pearls of wisdom. And I do—naturally.

You have a style difference

The pearl that often escapes my lips is this: You and your nemesis have a style difference. You’re not wrong and he’s not wrong—you just have a different style based on your personality type.

Most of my clients are conversant with the MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) and I go on to explain my comment in those terms. But even if you’re not familiar with the MBTI, you can probably benefit from taking a look at this idea. So here goes…

We each have our own particular set of preferences based on our personality. And because of our personality we have a preferred style of action.

An example of a style difference

Let’s look at an example. You are a very organized person. You place a lot of value on timetables and schedules. You like to map out project steps before you begin the project. You also like to make a decision and get on with it, preferring not to go back and re-visit it once it’s made. Surprises tend to upset your plans.

Your co-worker (the one that’s driving you crazy) likes to leave room in the schedule for late-breaking changes. She doesn’t want to map out each step, knowing that there will always be a need for changing based on the situations that come up. She likes to search for all the options before making a decision and likes to maintain flexibility throughout the project—so nothing is ever ‘cast in stone.’

As you can tell, the two of you have a style difference. You like to work a project in different ways. You may both come up with the same finished project but you get there using different paths. But her methods drive you crazy and vice versa.

So what can you do about that?

First of all remember that she is not trying to drive you crazy (even though she may be), she is simply working from her view of the world. She probably spends time wondering why you do the things that you do too. If you can appreciate that there may be something valuable in the way she works and actively look for that, you’ll probably have an easier time of it—and so will your co-worker.

Here are some things to try:

· Share your perspective about a new project and how you’d like to proceed. Then ask for her perspective. Have an open discussion about where you feel uncomfortable with her approach and get that same information from your co-worker.

· Understand that these are style differences—there’s no real right or wrong. If you can remember that more than likely there is no malice intended, it will probably be easier to work successfully together.

· Try adopting your co-worker’s style for a day and, if your relationship is close enough, ask her to adopt yours.

· When a conflict arises, explain why you are taking the course of action that you are.

· Be sincerely open to the idea that your way may not be the best way in all circumstances. Give the other method a try once in a while.

· Think about this: Behaviors that annoy you in others may be a clue to areas that you need to pay attention to for your own self-development. So if you are annoyed that your co-worker can’t seem to make a decision, maybe you are jumping to a decision too soon and need to practice more information-gathering before finalizing your decisions.

It’s been my experience that these small (or large) style differences lead to a lot of conflict in the workplace. And while conflict is inevitable, why not stop sweating the small stuff?

They Say It’s Your Birthday… July 18, 2013

Posted by Ann Bertorelli in My Life as I See It, Self-Development.
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1348_687167021310513_1966544250_nToday is my birthday! Usually I just quietly observe the day and let it pass. But with Facebook in my life, I get a million birthday wishes. Wow…who’d have thought? And I actually kinda like it.

Today’s a 22 master number day

I also found by reading the blog of my favorite astrologer of the moment that today is one of the eleven ‘22 master number days’ of 2013. As near as I can figure out these are supposed to be days of increased energy and days to move forward with your plans by taking action and getting things going.

A Rampage of Window Washing

I must say, this has been a pretty high energy day for me. And what have I done? Wait for it….I’ve been washing windows. In fact, I’ve gone on a window washing rampage. .Go figure. It has just suddenly become very important to me to have a clear view out of my windows. I even raided my next door neighbors’’ recycling for their old newspapers. These are great for washing windows—just in case you’re getting the urge to wash yours.

A Metaphor for seeing clearly

I think the last time I washed windows was about 3 years ago. Why wash them when it just rains and gets them dirty again? But something is different for me now. I think it’s probably a good metaphor for seeing clearly about what’s going on in my life, what I’d like to achieve and how I’d like to live the next phase of my life.

So now that my windows are washed, I’m taking care of other things that seem to be productive actions toward some goals I’ve set for myself. I’m even doing this blog post, this on the heels of having posted a mere three days ago.

Use these days to your advantage

I think these high energy days when they come (and who knows when they will appear) are wonderful opportunities to get some important things accomplished and more importantly to feel good about what you’ve done.

So don’t waste the 22 master number day…go for it! The next one is July 27th and the one after that is August 8. If you’d like to see the entire list, you probably will need to sign up for Elizabeth Peru’s newsletter. You can try this link Elizabeth Peru to find the other 22 master number days for the year.

Now I’m going to eat cake…

 

OH,PS If you haven’t visited my new web site yet, get the heck over there. I’m working on some cool new coaching offerings to be rolled out as soon as I can get them done. You don’t want to miss them, do you? Well, get on my mailing list and you’ll be the first to know.

www.lifecoachingwithspirit.com

Be there or be square…

The More Real You Get… July 15, 2013

Posted by Ann Bertorelli in Uncategorized.
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As you have probably figured out by now, the focus of my coaching is on relationships. Relationships with others, the relationship with yourself. I believe that it’s wise and productive to be intentional about what you want to create in your relationships. And I like to practice what I preach.

Suffering fools

Today I did something that I don’t often do. I did not hold my tongue but pretty much said what I was thinking and what’s more I did not apologize for it. (Now before those of you who have coached with me think that I have suddenly had a frontal lobotomy—let me specify that I am talking about a family relationship here, not a coaching one. In coaching another, I mostly (but now always, say exactly what I’m thinking).

But today, I had just had enough of the dynamics of this particular relationship. It’s one that I have been tiptoeing around for a long time—doing my best to keep it on an even keel, trying hard not to rock the boat. Forgiving and trying to see the bright side of the person’s actions and personality. But today—today, my last nerve was stomped on and I just spoke my truth without prettying it up.

Usually when I do this I feel bad about it later and think that perhaps I could have been a better, more loving person, etc, etc. Today, I gave up that story and just stepped right in it because I felt the situation called for it. The other person termed me rude and if that was the way I came across then so be it.

Your relationship with yourself is important

One’s relationship with oneself is every bit as important as those we have with others. To keep on keeping your mouth shut in the face of what you view as injustice, lack of ethics and moral standards, or whatever else gets you torqued up, can be detrimental to your health and well-being.

About 10 years ago, I was in a relationship with a person that I really cared about and one which I wanted to continue. However, his actions befuddled and hurt me. I spent about two months not addressing it and lo and behold, I found that my jaw began to hurt constantly—I mean really hurt. It was all that biting back of my words that did it. Once I noticed that, I put an immediate end to the situation.

The first relationship to work on is the one you have with yourself. To keep denying that which is your truth can be very destructive and unhealthy in the long run. Sometimes standing in your own power and being okay with who and what you are is the hardest, yet most self-affirming thing you can do for yourself.

Know who and what you are

Once you’re comfortable with who you are and what makes sense to you in the world, you are better able to get on with the business of having relationships with others. In order to keep your own identity in any relationship, it’s helpful to know what you bring to the table: the good, the bad and/or the ugly. From there you can do your work on yourself and be a solid participant in any relationship you choose to pursue—family, friends, business colleagues, lovers.

I’m feeling pretty good, in spite of having an unpleasant exchange with someone else. Do you have a situation or two that needs to be addressed with some candor? Are there some eggshells you need to stomp on? Maybe it’s time to be who you want to be.

Sign up for a free strategy session

If you’d like to coach with me, visit www.lifecoachingwithspirit.com and sign up for a strategy session. Or email me at ann@lifecoachingwithspirit.com.

An Approach to a New Year January 4, 2012

Posted by Ann Bertorelli in ontological coaching, Personal Observations.
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Wow—2012…or should I say the dreaded 2012…Supposed to be a significant year of change–or disasters, depending who you talk to. I was thinking about my intentions for the New Year the other day. It was New Year’s Day and I was cleaning out my refrigerator. Now that may seem like a mundane thing to be doing on a holiday but I thought it pretty symbolic. Think about it–getting rid of the rotten/spoiled stuff and starting over. Yes!

What you do on New Year’s Day…

There is a saying that whatever you do on New Year’s Day is what you’ll be doing for the rest of the year. As I thought about that I decided that while I don’t want to be cleaning out the refrigerator all year, there are some things associated with the activity that I wouldn’t mind carrying along through the year.

Try a little awareness

Cleaning out a fridge can be pretty mindless if you let it. But while I was doing it I started thinking about a book that I’m currently reading. It’s called The Secret of Instant Healing by Dr. Frank J. Kinslow. One of the points Dr. Kinslow makes about healing is that awareness is key to the process. He has some exercises in the book that have the reader start to become aware of awareness. So as I was scrubbing and rearranging, I began to practice awareness. Rather than thinking about tango steps or the next thing on my to-do list, I simply focused 100% of my attention on what I was doing. Dr. Kinslow (and many, many others) say that true awareness is where your higher consciousness/God resides.

So I tried staying exactly in the moment. I’d love to tell you that some miracle happened and maybe the fact that I actually enjoyed (for a moment or two) cleaning the fridge is indeed the miracle.

I wouldn’t mind being more aware

My point is that if that activity is a pre-cursor for what I want to produce and be in 2012, then I will be well-satisfied. If I can sit in awareness more of the time, I can produce more of the good stuff and less of the mindless, automatic pilot stuff that comes up when I check out.

I can really get into the question of who I’m being in the important and trivial moments of my life. Maybe I can even stop dwelling on my imperfections and become more in touch with what’s right about me.

Drop the awfulizing

How about you? Are you willing to be aware of and stay in the moment as you live your life? Can you give up awfulizing, fantasizing, moralizing and any other ‘izing’ that keeps you from realizing (another one—but good) your great potential? Yes, we all have great potential for something…

Your mission– should you choose to accept it

Here’s your assignment: For one week, choose to focus on the task or activity that you have decided to engage in. Don’t do it half-assed. If you’re brushing the dog, then brush the dog with awareness. If you’re listening to your friend’s tale of woe, then be in the moment with her, not just waiting to jump in with a nugget of wisdom. Who knows– you might discover something really amazing about your life.

–Amara

A Passion For ? June 6, 2011

Posted by Ann Bertorelli in Personal Observations, Self-Development.
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Yes, once again I have had a break in my blogging schedule. Ever since they closed my Borders store I have been a bit more likely to take a week off. Guess it’s the lack of a de-caf latte that’s got me off my game. But this time I have a really good reason for missing my last couple of posting deadlines…well, not good exactly but understandable. A couple of weeks ago my doctor determined that I had a detached retina and needed surgery to repair it. And that, my friends is what I’ve been up to the last couple of weeks. I’ll spare you the exhaustive (and exhausting) details for which you should be very thankful. But God, forbid that I should let a personal experience be unexamined. I’ve decided to write about an observation I made during my hiatus.

I love surprises!

As you might imagine I had to see quite an array of doctors in the process of getting my retina repaired. The doctor who determined that I needed the surgery sent me to an eye surgeon whom I had never met.The doctor was very different from what I expected. Turned out he was a tall, good-looking man with long black hair worn pulled into a pony tail which extends down his back. He wears man jewelry, and notice and complimented me on my OM shawl. Yes! My kind of guy. And yet, that’s not the point of this post.

Dr. K loves his work

As I’ve gotten to know Dr. K, I have come to admire his passion for his work. He is very personable however it has become quite clear to me that my retina is vastly more interesting to him than my amazing personality. In a word, Dr. K is fascinated with and passionate about his work.

Find the passion

As I pondered this even further I realized that my hairdresser whom I have been with for over 20 years is passionate about his job, my OB-GYN physician’s assistant always tells me how much she loves her job and I myself have a passion for coaching people. It occurred to me that the people I most like being with—especially if they happen to be sticking needles into my eye– are the ones who have a passion for what they do. I have long been fascinated by those who develop a passion for something. In fact, I once had an idea to do a book of interviews with those kind of people. (I have since decided not to do the book but if you like the idea, be my guest).

Passion points to soul purpose

So what is it about passion that is so compelling? Why are passionate people so often great at what they are passionate about? I believe it’s because there is a spiritual component to passion. Actually passion is a pointer to soul purpose. When passion for something is present (not talking about sexual passion—another topic altogether), it’s like a neon sign announcing your soul’s purpose.

We’re all meant to do something in our lives. Not all of us are destined to be famous world figures, military heroes, brain(or eye) surgeons or movie stars. However every single person has a talent, an innate ability or way of being that is a gift to those inhabiting the planet at this time.

I know that I have a passion for listening to other people’s stories and for looking with them for solutions to the issues that hold them back. It’s what I do and what I want to do. It feeds my soul…

Find your passion

What do you have a passion for? And if you don’t know, maybe it’s time to figure it out. Because when you do you’ll find yourself doing more of that thing. And that will be a gift—not only to others but to yourself. It doesn’t get much better than that…

—Amara

Be That May 15, 2011

Posted by Ann Bertorelli in ontological coaching.
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I’m recovering from a weekend of tango frenzy and what better way than to come back to earth with a blog post.

I was watching a movie last week –or I should say a segment of a movie. I seldom sit down and watch an entire movie at a time. In the movie, Robin Williams play a psychologist turned convenience store owner. Williams asks the main character if he’s a smoker and the guy replies, “I’m trying to quit.” The psychologist responds with, “You need to figure out if you’re a smoker or a non-smoker. Find out which one you are and be that.”

Ontology

Since I am involved in the study and practice of ontological coaching, that comment is right up my alley. Ontology is the study of being and who you’re being in any given time is something that should be a conscious decision rather than a default position that may or may not further your intentions in life.

So, find out who you are and be that. Great concept. I have a conscious declaration about who I want to be in the world. Do I always manage it? Well, no. But the fact that I have that declaration gives me a road map when it comes to making decisions about how to live my life.

I have a practice before I go to sleep each night (unless I’ve been dancing tango till the wee hours—in that case I just collapse into bed). In this practice I call to mind at least five things about the day that I am grateful for. After that I mentally review the day and see if all of my actions have been in alignment with who I say I am. If yes, then I feel satisfied. If no, I decide to do a better job tomorrow.

What’s the payoff for being conscious?

Why be conscious of who you want to be in the world? By my observation of both myself and others, being in integrity with your values, desires, and mission makes for a more satisfying and value-producing life.

A case in point

Dylan is a young man of 16 whom I have known since he was 9. He probably won’t win scholarships for his academic achievements but Dylan is a world class human being. His declaration about himself is quite obviously to be a loving human being in all circumstances of his life. When you come into Dylan’s presence he greets you with an enormous hug and some sincere appreciation. Dylan fairly emanates love for others and receives it in return. He knows who he is and he is that all the time.

What’s this mean to you?

So who do you say you are? A writer? Then write. A reader? Then read. A tango dancer? Then dance. A liberal, an archconservative, physically fit, overweight, a musician, an emotionally balanced person, a neurotic. Figure out what (or who) you are. Embrace it, get really cozy with it and be that…

–Amara

 

Walking Through the Fire May 1, 2011

Posted by Ann Bertorelli in Personal Observations, Uncategorized.
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cccommons by celine nadeauSometimes life gets hard. Sometimes it gets downright overwhelming. I guess we’ve all had times like that. I know I have. It’s something I refer to as ‘walking through the fire.’

Now I’m not talking about minor annoyances like your car not starting, cutting your finger with a knife, or losing a favorite earring. No, I ‘m talking about the REALLY BIG stuff—life changing/threatening stuff. Things like losing a loved one to death, depressions that take away your will to live, battling a serious illness.

Most of us have had these things happen in our lives not once but multiple times. And if you haven’t—well, maybe you could better spend your time reading another post today.

What doesn’t kill you…

I believe that walking through the fire provides us with opportunities—provided we come out on the other side. No, moving through such an event is no fun at all. But to quote Frederich Nietzsche, “What doesn’t kill me will make me stronger.” I often say that to clients and I’m not being flip when I say it. I mean it.

My own fire

I have had quite a few fires to walk through in my life. One of the fiercest was when my 38 year old husband got a brain tumor and died within 5 months, leaving me with a 5 year old son to raise. There were times that I thought I was not going to make it through that blaze. However, the fact that I had a young child depending on me and that I was his ‘only game in town,’ made any other choices seem unavailable. Was it fun to go through it? Decidedly not. But now that I have walked through the fire I know that it did make me strong. I believe that there are not many things I cannot handle.

The ‘wounded healer’

Some of the very best people I know have had some mind-boggling fires to walk through in their lives. And as a result, they bring a richness of experience and perspective that is very valuable to me. They bring the certainty that there is purpose and joy in life and that the life they have is definitely worth living. They often display a deep caring of others and a capacity for seeing others as vulnerable just as they were. Could they have gone the other direction and become embittered, pessimistic people? Of course—and there are plenty of those around.

But what sets them (and I hope me) apart is that they have learned from these challenging times and they have moved on.They have made a declaration that while they may be wounded by their difficulties, they will heal and rebound from them. That’s why they are the best people.

You can do this

You may be walking though a fire right now or trying to recover from one. Your ability to declare that you are and will be ok is what will get you through it. Sometimes it’s just one day, one hour, one breath at a time. So even if you have to repeat it like a mantra with each breath, your determination will be what gets your through  And for God’s sake, don’t be afraid to ask for help. (Get it?)

I am not sure why this topic came up today but I was guided to write it. Thus I am sure that I was supposed to write about it for at least one of you out there…

Hang in there—fires burn themselves out…

—Amara