Friday, April 30, 2010

Do You Feel Authentic?

Do you ever feel afraid to be as you are? See if actor Patrick Stewart’s story and these comments help you think or feel differently about this.

Tavis Smiley interviewed Patrick Stewart (Captain Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation). The topic of Stewart’s famed hairless dome came up, and Stewart revealed he was as bald by age nineteen as he is today; and that for years, he wore a comb-over. His defining moment came after lunch at the home of a Hungarian black belt Judo player, who was also a director, and his wife. The couple left the room—Stewart thought to make coffee. He was grabbed from behind and held by his strong friend while the wife used scissors to snip off the comb-over. Stewart was furious. His friend let him go then knelt in front of him and said, “Now, be yourself! No more hiding.”

The dictionary has several definitions of authentic including “that is in fact as represented; genuine; real” and “true to its type; conforming to an original in style, methods, etc.”

You could say the first definition above refers to “walk your talk.” We usually start out talking more than “walking,” but with the intention to catch up as soon as possible. This is especially true when we’re processing inner-level matters we wish to shift. That “between place” is authentic, even if it seems counterintuitive to think of it this way—because it’s where we are as we aim to move forward. Each of us always has to start where we are.

The second definition is intriguing because of the words “conforming to an original”—because the original you must conform to in order to be authentic is you. Yet, how often do we view ourselves as original, unique—which we undeniably are; and we hesitate or fail to honor and celebrate this. Usually, this is because elements of society have imposed beliefs upon us such as attractiveness looks “this” way, intelligence is expressed “this” way, true success looks like “this,” and other similar statements.

It took Michelangelo three years to carve his David statue, to carve an exquisite image from something “fixed” in nature—marble. We, however, are not fixed in nature because we have the ability to self-learn and self-adjust. We are the sculptor and the clay of ourselves, which is as it was meant to be. Even if diamonds in the rough, we are more exquisite than any work of art or ancient architecture—because we are the creators of such works, or can be, even if on a much smaller scale.

We tend to think that being authentic means we are 100 percent certain about every aspect of ourselves, all the time. What a set-up for frustration. What if the truth is you’re always authentic, but don’t perceive it that way? Do you feel confused about something? Then, be with that—feel authentically confused so you can find what needs to be chipped away or molded until you’re clear about that particular matter. Confused is not inauthentic, it’s an authentic aspect asking for clarity—clarity about what is appropriate for you.

Authenticity is who you are—what you feel—in each moment, and the choices you make from that inner place. You may desire to perceive yourself as your most excellent self, but that’s something you can choose each and every moment—because you are changed in some way by each and every moment.

You are never inauthentic. Dissatisfied, perhaps; but always authentically you, with all your perceived “positives” and “negatives.”

Question: If a “negative” leads to a “positive,” is it truly, wholly a negative? If the “negative” had never appeared or happened, would the positive still have manifested?

Would the character of Captain Picard have impressed us as we were if he’d worn a comb-over? We may not have friends who will take such measures as Stewart’s did, which means we have the responsibility to “snip our own comb-overs” and say, “Now, be yourself! No more hiding.”

D. A. Battista said, "The scars you acquire by exercising courage will never make you feel inferior." It’s possible that when someone feels “inauthentic,” s/he may mean “inferior” in some way. “Inferior” is a layer of limiting beliefs hiding a unique being craving to feel true to the Self and afraid for some reason to be it, whatever that is in each changing moment.

Authentic is aware, attentive, and able to adjust as needed. It’s not “perfect” or completed before its time. Even if you hesitate to trust your authenticity, and even if you must take gradual steps to allow yourself to feel your authenticity in each moment, feel the courage within you—in your best interest and right timing—and be comfortable with what is original about you. Do this and you’ll exchange feeling inauthentic for feeling enlivened. Authentic is a state of mind.

You are what you practice.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Do You Attach Untrue Stories to Experiences?

A simple action sent me back, in memory, to the first time I became aware of attaching an untrue story to an experience. See if you recognize your own predilection or habit of doing this.

I needed to open a new pint of Half & Half. The container had that opening that requires you pull the flaps just right to create the V-shaped spout. I started the pull and had a flashback.

I don’t recall my age, but I was old enough to get myself ready for school without adult supervision (but still quite young). I needed to open a new half-gallon of milk for my cereal. It was the same type of container as the H&H I mentioned above, and my first time of having to open that type of container. The process of making a precise V opening did not go well. The thick paper stuck and I had to use a fork to pry it apart, which created a messy pour spout that sent the milk in many directions.

I attached a story to the experience that went something like this: “This is supposed to be simple and I made a botch of it. Mom always opens it perfectly.” (I was young enough to believe I lacked the required skill—For All Time!)

All manner of thoughts and assumptions got played with about perfectionism (as though a botched container opening was actually important in the grand scheme of things), scientific—adhesive, cold, moisture, tension (the other kind, not my own); self-confidence/self-esteem issues—which really got played up because . . .

The next time I had to open the same type of container, do you think I was thinking like The Little Engine That Could or I Don’t Want to Botch This but I Did Last Time and Now I’m Afraid (I’m Certain) I’m Going to Do It Again!

You might say such intensity of thought about this was overkill. You might even attribute it to my being a child at the time. However, we carry this kind of thinking process with us into adulthood whenever something doesn’t go exactly as expected, or each time we’re deciding to or about to take a “similar” action—or at least similar in some manner in our subconscious mind interpretation.

This botching, this being thwarted by that type of container, happened a few more times until, as I was standing there dreading to “fail” yet again, a thought came to me (though, I use present-day words, and past tense, to describe it here):

It happened the first time because it happened. I couldn’t explain why it happened, it just did. But, each time I had to open a new container, I repeated the botched job in my mind’s eye before I took action—I anticipated it. Each time I did that, my young energy felt increasingly anxious; and the expected result happened. If I could see it happening that way and it did, then, if I saw my hands and the container working as intended, it might botch, but it also might be the result I wanted. I did understand that I’d have a calmer experience by seeing it going well. And, it did.

From then on I got into that better mental space whenever I had to open such a container. Did the containers always open “perfectly?” Not always, but I no longer took it personally if that happened.

Beneficial Process: You suffer over most matters because of a belief. Often, the belief is, “This shouldn’t be happening.” Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional. What core belief do you have about your issue or situation? Does this belief serve you? How does this belief show up in your life? How do you feel about this? Scale how you feel at this moment with 1 being the least intense and 10 being the most. Allow that number to be okay because it’s honestly where you are and you intend to shift this, even if just a little. Ask yourself if you feel okay about making even a small shift now. Think of a similar time when you had a similar feeling (it doesn’t have to be a similar matter or situation, just that you felt similarly then to how you do now) and it worked out. How did you manage yourself or work that one out? Maybe you used an inner process, an outer process, or both. What worked then and how can you use what you did then now?

We attach stories to experiences—beyond the actual experience (it’s a learned behavior). Just pay attention to the story you attach (and why) because it’s likely you’re going to repeat it to yourself, and possibly others, and then believe it. You may even act as if it’s true, when it isn’t.

You are what you practice.

[Process excerpted from Reinvent Yourself: Refuse to Settle for Less in Life and Business]

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Friday, April 16, 2010

How Would You Answer This Simple Happiness Question?

Do you ever compare where you are now in your life to where others are, or to where you thought you should be by this time? If you do and don’t feel happy, the question and comments here may help.

I have a friend who recently set up a Facebook page and began to reconnect with long-lost friends, learning who was doing what now. She shared that temporary depression settled upon her, as she compared her life now to the lives of some she connected with. I say “temporary” because she eventually realigned her true feelings about this. My friend is, in the main, happy in her life and has good reason to be.

“Back in the day,” others saw her as a leader, a person going places, high places, in her life. The reality is a health condition started nearly two decades ago and altered that “predictable” path. She felt she’d let everyone down because she isn’t in a high-powered position or owns her own company, or whatever else she and they may have expected, and as some of her friends experience. (I add here that we never know a person’s complete story, despite what their successes appear to be. And sometimes, even when we know what’s not working in their lives, we still dwell on something they have that we feel we lack.)

Comparing ourselves to others has a not-so-funny way of making us forget in what measure we’re actually happy with where and who we are. No one lives a life without challenges or feeling a range of emotions; but we are often generally happier, for the most part, than we recognize.

As I thought about what I wanted to say to my friend, an image came to mind and I share it with you here.

Imagine you enter a magnificent hall. There’s a table in the middle of the room and you walk up to it. There’s only one thing on the table: a beautifully bound book with your name engraved on the cover. You open the book to the first page and find this written on it:

Please choose one of the following two options. Know that whichever one you choose will design the map of your life. Question: Do you choose to do and be what makes others happy and win their approval or do you choose to be happy?

I pictured posing these options to a child of age four. It seems easy to imagine a child choosing to be happy—because the child wouldn’t have a clue what the first option might take to succeed at it, but is, likely, darn sure she or he knows what “happy” is.

As adults, and if we’re honest about it, we’ve learned how exhausting the first option can be; yet, we may still feel conflicted about choosing the second option because we’re indoctrinated by our families and every element of society to go for the first one.

In my image, the page with that question appears periodically so we can revisit this choice at different life stages. However, it isn’t beyond imagination that this page “appears” in our life book whenever we think it’s time to consider our options again, especially when we feel we aren’t living an authentic life and, possibly, aren’t even sure what that means to us after years of disregarding it.

The pain of inner discontent drives us to seek external balms and remedies, to seek instant gratifications, which are usually just bandages covering emotional bruises or wounds about authenticity. But these externals and pursuit of or craving for them does not address what begs for nourishment inside of us. Whatever word(s) we use—secure, prosperous, successful, loved, and so on—we ultimately want to feel good, in harmony, about who we are. We’ve become confused about how we can arrive there after years of asking ourselves what others expect of us—so we’re accepted and approved of—instead of what we want for ourselves.

I recently read, “There are many types of success and they aren’t all about getting ahead.” To be consumed with external, tangible success completely or more than inner, intangible success smacks of “I’ll be happy when” thinking/feeling. That kind of thinking/feeling ignores present-moment happiness, which is a form of self-abuse.

We forget to count our successes that no one can measure but us, because we’re conditioned to focus on how others think we measure up. If we remembered to genuinely appreciate all our successes often, we’d feel a great deal happier. We can also look at any area of our life we feel needs a positive shift and ask, “What can I do—that I will do—to allow me to do better than this?” It doesn’t have to be huge, just effective. Don’t talk about it; start where you are, and do something differently.

So, the question is: Do you choose to do and be what makes others happy and win their approval or do you choose to be happy? Like the four-year-old child—are you clear about what that overall feeling means to you?

You are what you practice.

You’re welcome to reprint this article as long as you use my complete bio.

You Are More! Empowerment Coach Joyce Shafer, author of I Don’t Want to be Your Guru, but I Have Something to Say ( Find out how to get Design Your Magnetic Life and Business Vision free, see her books and e-books, and read her current free weekly newsletter at

Friday, April 9, 2010

Do You Deal with the Conflict of Higher vs. Lower Vibration?

More often than not the Higher vs. Lower Vibration conflict is most obvious when we interact with others. Ultimately, it’s an inner conflict; and it’s often a conflict because something isn’t fully integrated.

“You ever been to a class or somethin’, or read a book—somethin’ that gave you suggestions about makin’ life easier or better?”


“You probably felt all charged up—energized—ready to put your new insights to work. You probably walked around feelin’ really upbeat, big smile on your face like you had the keys to the kingdom in your pocket. You maybe even started to tell folks about it—like you’d become the expert of somethin’. Any of this familiar?”

“Oh, yeah,” I said, nodding my head.

“What happened?”

“Several things. Instead of actually bringing the ‘light of reality’ to others as I thought I would, I just irritated them. And as soon as the opportunities to test my new insights arrived, I wasn’t as successful as I thought I’d be.”

“Do you understand what happened?”

“Not exactly.”

“No integration. See, when we get an insight, it shifts our energy up a bit. We like the feelin’. We want to share it so others can feel as good—and as less fearful—as we do at that moment. When higher energy bumps into lower energy, there’s resistance in both directions. The lower resists goin’ higher, the higher resists goin’ lower. Instant conflict.

“Also, when we get a new way to do somethin’ and that first opportunity comes to try it out, old behaviors pop up as well. Integration comes after a time, A.J. It’s like tryin’ to put new furniture into a room before the old furniture is moved out. Everythin’ is in there, but it’s too crowded to move around in or work the way it should.”

Two important messages occur in the above dialogue: The nature of conflict and the importance of integration. Clarification: Higher and Lower are perceptions only, and each of us perceives what they are differently.

You’ve heard or read it before: when you decide to change something about yourself or your life for the better, it’s possible others in your life get uncomfortable, if not critical. This is especially true if your goal or dream fits into the “higher energy or vibration” category. This can be anything from deciding to eat better when your partner or family is committed to junk food and lots of carbs or expanding your self-empowerment or spirituality, and this rattles the cages of those around you. Anything different from their “norm” will trigger others around you, especially if they resist or fear change—even positive change.

Yes, you might find a conflict with another happens, but also consider that some of the conflict you experience might happen because of higher and lower energies bumping heads within you, not solely externally. Authentic living is something many desire but fear stepping into. Resistance from others is a mirror of your own resistance—what you may “lose” vs. what you may gain.

What if your goal is to live your life purpose? Your ego self, affected by decades of limiting beliefs, may hesitate to do what’s required (lower). It may not want to take the leap it’s being asked to take (higher). Do you really want to keep doing the same things—which may lead to your withering inside—or do you want to trust that a commitment to your life purpose (who you really are) will make you a magnet for everything you need and more?

It’s far too easy to blame others or life because we fear being or becoming who we came here to be (lower). If you commit to live your life purpose in spite of any fear you feel (higher), what and who you need to support you will come to you—in the right timing. What and who doesn’t support you or refuses to will shed from your life. This may be abrupt or take time, and it may even feel scary.

Integration, as related in the dialogue excerpt above, ties in with conflict. Develop a habit where you look at what is out of balance and ask questions such as, “What motivates me to allow this? What are my feelings about this? Where did this belief come from?” Search until you find the core moment that created the limiting belief, let it go, and replace it with a belief that supports you.

We are hard on ourselves when we seek something better. One of the biggest obstacles we create is to believe because we’ve had an insight to a higher vibration thought, method, or philosophy, any negativity we have should disappear or be eliminated. We think that we (and others) who follow a positive thought path are supposed to do everything right all the time, have all of our “ducks in a row” all of the time (and others may project this onto us). That isn’t what managing your energy and how you experience your life is about. And, only from consistent practice of feeling and acting on what’s appropriate for you do you integrate a new way of being.

Desired outcomes are great; but it’s ultimately how you manage yourself, learn to grow, and integrate what you learn, so you create a joyful, fulfilling life for yourself.

Remind yourself that your experience is yours. It will look and be like whatever supports you to expand your consciousness. The opinions of others, especially critical others, cannot matter, cannot be allowed to knock you off course. You may want to share what you’re doing with only those you know will support you and do what you do in silence around unsupportive others—unless conflict is a needed element (which it sometimes is).

Inner conflict comes when we know we can do better (higher) but can’t quite go there yet (lower) and we judge ourselves (definitely lower) rather than attempt to re-evaluate what we will do better the next time or can start now, until making appropriate choices for ourselves becomes more natural.

Personal power is not about ridding ourselves of our negative side or forestalling any possibility of a challenge in our life, but in making better choices as a whole person, including how we feel and engage our every moment. This doesn’t mean you’ll always choose your ideal feelings, words, or actions first, but that you can shift a negative to a positive as soon as you choose to.

You are what you practice.

[Dialogue excerpted from I Don’t Want to be Your Guru, But I Have Something to Say]

Friday, April 2, 2010

Do You Possess Your Life or Do You Endure It?

Here is a partial line from a P.D. James novel: “. . . preserving always the same look of puzzled acceptance of a life which had to be endured rather than possessed.” Do you possess or endure your life (or any part of it) at this moment?

Every day, each of us endures something, even if inconveniences of greater or lesser magnitude—considering some endure much more than most of us will ever have to think about or ever want to.

If you find you face a challenge or situation you believe you can do nothing about, take possession of it, meaning take possession of how you relate to it.

When you take possession of something, you take care of it and care for it; or, at least, that is the idea and responsibility of possession. Yet, self-possession is not the message most people are given about their lives, their self-worth, or their personal happiness and fulfillment.

Do you feel you possess all aspects of your life?

In order to do and be that, you’d have to possess your beliefs, feelings, thoughts, words, and actions—and your ability to shift into this owner mode when something rattles you out of harmony (please release the belief that you are “supposed” to stay in one emotional state of being at all times).

You’d have to possess or own the choices you’ve made and the outcomes they’ve created up to this moment (preferably as life lessons rather than reasons to self-judge), and as you continue forward. You’d have to decide if what you experience causes you to endure life or to live what you desire, “desire” meaning you deliberately choose how you wish to experience yourself and your moments, and from what chosen level of awareness.

Henry Ford said, "Don't find fault, find a remedy."

You can decide to take possession of what you choose to feel and do about whatever you feel you endure. When you do this, you are on your way to finding a remedy, first at the inner level, which may resolve an outer level matter. I say “may resolve” because though the inner level experience is always a priority (because it’s where YOU live), there are occasions when an outcome is a undesirable given and you have a responsibility to yourself to engage it in a way that supports you to have the highest level experience you can. This applies to those times when you find yourself in a scenario you believe you never would have chosen. But, what are you going to do with it? How and who will you choose to BE at such times?

There are aspects of your life you wholly possess at this time and, possibly, others you endure. Look at each part you endure and ask yourself how you might possess it.

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being “Not At All” and 10 being “Completely,” how much do you feel in possession of your life? What about how you choose to feel about your experiences? If, say, you’re at 6 for either of these, what would you be willing to do to make them an 8?

What might it feel and look like if you endure your life?
What might it feel and look like if you possess it?

Here’s a thought to play with:

Let’s say you believe your outer life reflects your inner life (emotionally-charged thoughts and beliefs); or stated another way, your outer life (experiences and outcomes) are created by your inner beliefs and thoughts. Now think of the holodeck in the Star Trek programs. If you were using the holodeck and wanted to alter something (scenery, character, story/plot, etc.), which would be more genuinely effective: trying to change something in the hologram or altering the program/pattern in the computer to affect the hologram? A change attempted at the outer level must start at the inner. You know this, but do you always give it proper attention or realize its point-of-origin importance?

There’s a fast-food philosophy about “change”: It’s supposed to happen overnight or nearly that. If you gain an extra twenty pounds, you don’t do it overnight. Neither do you lose it overnight. And a crash weight loss program may create a desired outcome, but it won’t last and it isn’t healthy. You haven’t taken possession of a healthier lifestyle. There’s no philosophical difference between how you effectively approach weight loss for the body from “weight loss” for your behaviors.

If you’re ready to wholly possess your life, start with understanding you have a right and responsibility to yourself to do it. Let go of the crash-diet approach and allow yourself to make choices about what supports you as you move forward—one “pound” (aspect) at a time. Whatever you can and cannot alter, seek head and heart alignment about any choice, and you will keep yourself on course and enjoy and appreciate the journey more.

You are what you practice.

You’re welcome to reprint this article as long as you use my complete bio.

You Are More! Empowerment Coach Joyce Shafer, author of I Don’t Want to be Your Guru, but I Have Something to Say ( Details, her books and e-books, and current free weekly newsletter at