Friday, July 29, 2011

What Does Feeling Overwhelmed Really Mean?

There are two types of overwhelm: the type that’s triggered by external events and the type you self-impose. Both can be managed with the same technique.

“I’m overwhelmed,” was my client’s first comment. You’ve been in that state of mind, and so have I. And, that’s what’s important to understand—overwhelm is a state of mind, not an actual event.

Let’s look at a parallel situation. Say you’re hosting a holiday dinner, maybe for the first time, maybe not. Very few people, though there are some, would go to the store and push a cart up and down the aisles, believing the meal plan will come together for them as they do this. Most of us would hit overwhelm pretty quickly, especially if we want the meal to be a good one and the preparation to go smoothly.

You could avoid that overwhelm by sitting down with paper and pen, deciding on what’s to be served, what you have already, and what you need to get. At some point you might even write out a plan of when to start preparing each food item, when to set the table or lay out what your guests will use. You might even recruit helpers. You may feel somewhat anxious on the day because you want everything to go well, but you won’t feel overwhelmed—because you have a plan with steps to take—a strategy. And, yes, something unexpected may happen that makes your plan wobble, but it’s easier to address a wobble if what needs to be done is clear to you.

Any dream or goal, whether for business or personal fulfillment, deserves a strategy session. You’re told to take action and to take it fast. That works well for inspired ideas—ones that happen in a flash and create a particular feeling inside you when you get the idea and while you act on it. The rest of your ideas need some time spent on them so you know which actions to take, both the initial time you consider this plus some revisits and revisions, until you achieve your desired outcome.

Sometimes, people procrastinate because they don’t practice using a strategy. The longer this continues the more fear stops them in their tracks, possibly for years, until they no longer believe in their ability to go after what they desire. I share such a story on the End Procrastination page on my website.

Back to my client . . . when I asked her what her overwhelmed feeling was about, she shared something new she’s moving forward in her business and several other personal projects she feels strongly about. We discussed her need to spend productive time with each project, the need for research, when her most productive work time of the day is, and the need for her to create a list of what she is to work on each day—created the night before. We included flexibility to act on inspired ideas if they show up and want to bump her original plan over short-term.

She also had the thought, as many do, that maybe she should work on all of her ideas at once (which was part of the cause of her overwhelm); so, we discussed prioritizing. Years back I worked for someone who brought me three “priority” projects at once. I asked, “Which would you like completed first?” His answer was, “All of them.” I handled that situation; but you can see that you might do this to yourself, might think you have to work on everything at once, which is impossible, isn’t productive, and puts you into a state of self-imposed overwhelm.

I created a mind map. At the center is my core (business) purpose, what I choose to provide/create. I drew lines out from the core and added more circles at the end of each line that include ways I want to fulfill my core purpose. Each circle requires a strategy. Each circle can have its own mind map, if needed. Everything listed on that map is directly related to the core purpose. Some of the items are ones I do weekly. The others are prioritized and re-prioritized when I add new ideas or feel a particular inspiration about them.

Some of you may have an aversion to mapping out a strategy. For some of you, the absence of a strategy may work—it’s rare, but it does happen for a few people, like shopping for a major dinner without a list and it works out. If you don’t fit into that rare category, you need a strategy, a plan, a map—call it whatever you want to that makes you feel on board with the process, but give yourself and your project(s) the time deserved so you know what you’re doing, why, when, and so on. Otherwise, you’ll stay crazy-busy being active, but not productive; or maybe you’ll be somewhat productive but also crazed by the activity involved and the undone items you feel looming. You’ll exhaust and overwhelm yourself, when you don’t have to. You’ll also move toward your desired result steadily, with fewer starts and stops.

Steadily . . . One of the external causes of overwhelm these days is a result of some of the marketing going on where individuals lead you to believe you have to aim at becoming a gazillionaire overnight or by next week. How about letting those ideas go and just focus on creating a foundation of action so you get started and move forward consistently.

Whether part of your purpose is to generate income or not, let how you can make a difference with each item listed—before a dollar (or praise)—guide you as you map out your strategy.

Practice makes progress.
© Joyce Shafer

You are welcome to use this article in your newsletter or on your blog/website as long as you use my complete bio with it.

Joyce Shafer ( is a Life Coach, author of I Don’t Want to be Your Guru, but I Have Something to Say & other books/e-books, and publisher of a free weekly online newsletter that connects people with information, resources, and others aligned with enhancing and expanding spiritual Truth in their personal and business lives. Receive a free PDF of How to Have What You REALLY Want when you subscribe at

Friday, July 22, 2011

WHERE Is the Best Place to Start

When you have a goal or dream in mind, do you ask yourself where the best place to start is? The answer is in the question: Where you’re going.

You’ve seen floor plan maps in public places like large malls, stores, or office buildings that let you see where shops, offices, or sections are located. Here’s what’s interesting about this: you might think the first thing you do is find the You Are Here X then look up where you want to go. But the first thing you do is THINK about WHERE you want to go.

You may be one of many who approach goals or dreams by looking at where you are before you do anything. And, this may be an obstacle for you. Why? Because when you put your primary focus on where you are rather than on where you want to go, you open the floodgates for self-doubts and can come up with a number of reasons—or one big zinger—for why going after what you desire will be too difficult.

Before GPS, when you wanted to travel to a place you’d never been to, you didn’t look at a map of your city. Yet, that’s what we do when we focus on where we are instead of where we want to go. Once you know where you want to go, then you look at where you are and make a plan for how you’re going to get where you want to go. You even allow for pleasant surprises and detours along the way. You figure out the various aspects like money you may need or want to have on hand, how far your car can go before it needs fuel or what your comfort level is about filling up, stops to rest, and so on.

When you go for a goal or dream, you plan as much as you can, like for a road trip, and manage your way through what comes up that you didn’t include in your plan. Life always surprises us along the way. Sometimes the surprises bring even better opportunities and results than what you plan. Sometimes it’s an opportunity to find out how creative you can be.

You also want to watch not to pick up “hitchhikers” like fear that’s attached to the opinions of others. Carlos Castaneda said, "The self-confidence of the warrior is not the self-confidence of the average man. The average man seeks certainty in the eyes of the onlooker and calls that self-confidence. The warrior seeks impeccability in his own eyes and calls that humbleness. The average man is hooked to his fellow men, while the warrior is hooked only to infinity."

Another “hitchhiker” may be discipline, or rather lack of, if you believe you don’t have enough self-discipline to do what it takes to go for a goal or dream. Therese Skelly wonderfully reframed what discipline is: integrity—meaning your personal integrity. So often, we believe integrity is all about how we engage others. That’s just one aspect. Do you act with the same integrity with you that you would with others?

One of my coaching clients had put off a goal for five years, a goal she genuinely wanted. She allowed a lot of negative self-talk to block her; and the longer she waited, the worse she felt. By the time we began to work together, her self-esteem was way down there. She’d spent five years looking at where she was rather than where she wanted to go and how to get there. We explored what discipline looked like for her, integrated it into her day, and voila! Her integrity, discipline, self-talk, ability to take action steps that led her to her desired outcomes fell into place in a very short span of time. Five years of misery ended in two months… sooner actually.

If you’re hesitating to go for a dream or goal, check your focal point. It’s like archery: when you want to hit the bull’s eye, you don’t focus on your feet.

What will it cost you to go for your goal or dream? What will it cost you if you don’t?

Practice makes progress.
© Joyce Shafer

You are welcome to use this article in your newsletter or on your blog/website as long as you use my complete bio with it.

Joyce Shafer ( is a Life Coach, author of I Don’t Want to be Your Guru, but I Have Something to Say & other books/e-books, and publisher of a free weekly online newsletter that connects people with information, resources, and others aligned with enhancing and expanding spiritual Truth in their personal and business lives. Receive a free PDF of How to Have What You REALLY Want when you subscribe at

Interview with Dr. Gabriella Kortsch, Author of Rewiring the Soul: Finding the Possible Self

Joyce: Who is this book written for?

Gabriella: Rewiring the Soul is written for anybody who suffers and I guess that means just about all of us! It is written for anybody who has not yet experienced enduring happiness and inner well-being; anybody who is reaching for inner peace; anybody whose life is not as they would wish it to be.

Joyce: What can a reader expect to gain by reading this book? What makes it different from most other transformational or self-help books out there?

Gabriella: So many wonderful teachers tell us about working on our spiritual selves. So many other wonderful teachers show us how to work on our psycho-emotional selves. But very few actually integrate the two. And Rewiring the Soul is my response to that challenge. Rewiring the Soul brings together the need to take your daily life in hand with the need to put your spiritual life in order as well. By daily life I mean your personal life, your professional life, the way you do or do not love yourself and all that such an attitude entails: conscious awareness, healthy boundaries, meaning in your life, recognizing you always have a choice, and taking responsibility for all your choices, etc., and by spiritual life I mean the inner connection to your eternal self.

If you have learned how to meditate, or do yoga, or whatever it is that you do, have you also learned how to observe yourself in the middle of an argument with your rebellious teenage son or your angry partner and hence choose to react differently because you have learned to love yourself enough to do so? If you have learned how to communicate more effectively with your children, spouse, friends, colleagues or employees, have you also learned how to be mindful and connect to yourself in meaningful ways to achieve that spiritual balance in your life?

While Rewiring the Soul is about so much more than that, those previous examples give an idea of what my book is about and how it does so in such a way that our psychological and spiritual selves nurture each other.

In a nutshell: neither the spiritual nor the psychological or emotional dimensions of your life will work if you neglect:
• your inner connection to the eternal self while you seek happiness in the outer world
• your happiness in the outer world while you seek the connection to the inner eternal self
It was Gandhi who said “If everyone will sweep in front of their own door, soon the entire world will be clean”. In Rewiring the Soul ‘sweeping in front of your own door’ means bringing yourself to the utmost point of inner and outer growth, creating progress in body, mind, and soul. This literally means that you have already begun to change the world because of how you are changing yourself.

Joyce: There are exercises in the book. Do you think readers will feel it’s too much to add to a possibly “full plate”?

Gabriella: Not at all. This book does not mean hard work, or spending a lot of time doing specific things. It simply means that as you read – if you so desire - you begin to incorporate small changes into your daily life. And so it begins. And the quality of your life changes…

Joyce: How did you come to write this book?

Gabriella: For years the essential content of Rewiring the Soul was like a small, recurring voice in my head; it was always there, and simply would not leave me alone. I had dozens of excuses for not writing it: I was working on my Ph.D. in psychology, I was teaching at a state university, I had three sons, later I was occupied with moving back to Spain, I was setting up my private practice, I had a monthly newsletter to write in English and Spanish, I had a weekly one-hour radio show to broadcast, I had a daily blog post to write, I facilitated numerous workshops and gave frequent speeches, and apart from all of this busy activity and work, sometimes I even had a life. In short, I told myself the book would simply have to wait. But just as a splinter under your skin eventually needs to be seen to, I ultimately realized that the only way I was going to be able to honor the more and more loudly clamoring voice in my head – and heart - was to sit down and write the book.

And you know, that goes to meaning. We all need meaning in our lives, and although I had many things that gave much significance to my life already, the inner urging and excitement I felt each time I thought about Rewiring the Soul compelled me to write the book. Rumi puts it beautifully: When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.

Gabriella Kortsch, Ph.D. (Psychology), author of Rewiring the Soul, is a practicing psychotherapist who works with an international clientele in Marbella, Spain using an integral focus on body, mind and soul. She has published a newsletter in English and Spanish since 2004, facilitates monthly workshops and broadcast a weekly radio show both locally in Spain, as well as on the internet for seven years. Prior to her work in private practice she was Director of Sales & Marketing at several luxury beach properties in Spain and Mexico and was married to a diplomat. She has three sons.
Connect with her on Twitter / Facebook / LinkedIn / YouTube

Monday, July 18, 2011

Three Keys to Goal Setting and Getting

Richard Bach said, “You are never given a dream without also being given the power to make it true.” Are you working on your dream, or feel too stuck to move?

There are three keys for goal setting and getting. When something other than achievement or accomplishment is the result, one or more keys have not been used to unlock a particular “door.”


Do you acknowledge you have a dream or goal? Some never get that far. Some have a dream or goal but never start toward it. Some start and stop. Which applies to you?

Maybe you have too many items on your list or have so many, you haven’t written them down. Maybe you just don’t know how to choose the “right” one for now. Here’s a method to help you choose.

• Make a list of up to ten things you want to achieve or accomplish—leave about a two-inch space on the left or right of your list. If your list is far longer, you can still use this method, but the point is to get you to choose something now that you truly want to go for, so start with no more than ten.
• Number them.
• Look at items 1 and 2. If you HAD to choose only one to work on now, which would it be? Put a checkmark next to it.
• Look at items 1 and 3. Repeat the selection process to put a checkmark by the one you’d choose.
• When you finish selecting between item 1 and the other 9, start comparing items 2 and 3, 2 and 4, and so on, until you’ve gone through the entire list.
• Which item has the most checkmarks by it?
• If you don’t agree with the result, repeat this method and be absolutely honest with yourself about what you want, or reassess your list. Does your list represent your desires or those of others?


Do you acknowledge you have options? Are you willing to research and explore what they might be and how they can benefit you? An example is that it wasn’t so long ago that the Internet was not available to get your message out to those who might be looking for what you offer. These days, as long as you have appropriate equipment and service, you can be pretty much anywhere and have an online business presence. To publish an article—you had to mail your article and hope to be accepted for publication, which might take months. Now, you can publish immediately on numerous online venues. It’s the same for publishing an e-book or book.


Does the idea of setting goals and planning next action steps seem too daunting a task? Do you make a plan then don’t follow through? There are a number of ways to figure out next steps that create your plan. The first thing you need to do is identify categories such as financial, emotional, physical, social, and education, which are the main areas that need attention, followed by determining which steps are needed for each. Each step is a target you aim at until you hit it.

And, there are ways to help you follow through such as have a buddy or coach you report to, have a reward system in place like either giving one dollar to a favorite charity when you complete a step or some treat just for you—or you might be one who prefers something less pleasant if you don’t take action steps, like scrub the bathroom every day until you take that next step. You can figure out what motivates you and set it into place.

One of my newsletter subscribers enthusiastically shared her dream in an email. By the second paragraph, the self-doubts started: too old, to this, to that. I shared comments and my workbook that’s used in my upcoming online workshop, Action Sets You Free, created to assist individuals to end procrastination about going for a goal or dream. The fact that she had a format or template in hand to help her create the map to her dream brought her energy back up.

A map created by you and friendly, supportive accountability are sometimes the only things standing between you and a dream or goal, once you’re clear about what you want to aim at. Knowing what action to take and taking it help you end procrastination about that particular goal. Do this once and you prove to yourself you can do it again.

The 3 Keys in Summary: Know where you want to go so you can plan how to get there, explore your options, and have someone who believes in you on your team to help you stay inspired to go for your goal… your dream… your life.

Based on what you’ve read here, what will you choose for you and your life this week?

Practice makes progress.
© Joyce Shafer

You are welcome to use this article in your newsletter or on your blog/website as long as you use my complete bio with it.

Joyce Shafer ( is a Life Coach, author of I Don’t Want to be Your Guru, but I Have Something to Say & other books/e-books, and publisher of a free weekly online newsletter that connects people with information, resources, and others aligned with enhancing and expanding spiritual Truth in their personal and business lives. Receive a free PDF of How to Have What You REALLY Want when you subscribe at

Saturday, July 16, 2011

What Is a Short Temper Fuse Really About?

We all experience having a short fuse at times, though some seem to have this more often. What’s really going on; and can two simple methods make a difference?

Thoughts that motivated my recent article, “Do You Experience Mixed Feelings About Being Patient and Tolerant?” didn’t stop when I typed the last word. I’d likened getting to the end of your patience or tolerance to a glass filling with liquid until it spills over. It’s the same with losing—or loosing—your temper.

My thoughts about why some people seem to have shorter “fuses” or what makes ours shorten at times brought to mind that same glass and what must be going on inside it: It either never really empties of negative emotions about many or particular matters, which means a lot of frustration and anger stays in that container—like a larger amount of aged oil under a smaller amount of new water—or maybe it fills up a bit more quickly than we might prefer.

The words temper and temperance nudged me to look up their definitions. I knew that temper meant to modify into proper proportions, which includes feelings, thoughts, words, and actions. My dictionary also mentions to make suitable, desirable, or free from excess by mingling with something else; to moderate, mollify; to fit, adapt; calmness of mind; composure. Temperance is defined as self-restraint in conduct, expression, indulgences; moderation.

Based on these definitions, we are or appear to be in a state of even temper or temperance, until someone does something or something happens that triggers us to think a certain way and attach a personal interpretation or meaning to it that throws us off balance. Our initial thoughts and the ones that follow cause us to lose our composure or self-restraint.

Ah… and there’s a good question to keep in mind: are you more often in a state of composure or one of self-restraint? You can see which of the two would lead to living with a shorter fuse.

It’s likely that deeply angry, frustrated people exist with as much self-restraint as they can muster instead of feeling composed more of the time. So, it makes sense that their ability to stay composed might be hampered at times, which happens to all of us at one time or another. Add anything else into their “mix,” and they can easily short-circuit because they work harder than anyone imagines to maintain self-restraint. If you’ve ever struggled to maintain temper or practiced self-restraint, you understand.

Whether from a psychological or spiritual perspective, short fuse or short-circuit demonstrates a need for a different power operating in your life than you’re using in that moment, and possibly the rest of the time. This power is an inner one—expanded conscious awareness, not will power, which is a self-imposed trap that puts our attention on what we judge as wrong with us. This power is one of head and heart alignment, which allows you to BE in accord with your Best Self and with the fact there is always a bigger-picture dynamic going on, not just the dynamic you identify with.

When we lose our temper, we are doubly frustrated because we identify with the painful fear that envelops us: we fear the loss of something or something more. Think of the last time you felt angry. What did you fear you might lose or felt you had lost? If your answer is, “I don’t know,” here’s my next question: if you DID know, what might it be? This is a great question because it causes your mind to seek, find, and provide the true answer. Once you know that, you can find a way to address the fear and your anger, if you choose to.

Everyone gets angry. It’s a normal human emotion, and a bit like the story, Goldilocks: too much, too little, just right. Severe anger or a consistently short fuse may need management, whether this is addressed by a therapist or counselor, a coach, or a well-written book on the topic.

When you feel angry, it’s important to take up to five slow, deep breaths. This isn’t as lame as it may sound, if you’ve never tried it. Try it now. It will relax you, at least some. When tense, your breath gets shallow; your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen to help you think clearly. It’s easier to temper strained emotions, or choose to, if you can think straight.

Also, every day write down or think about at least five things you appreciate and are thankful for. This IS important, especially if your thoughts stay focused on the “oil” more than the “water.” Even better is to really FEEL your appreciation for whatever you list. Add genuine appreciation thoughts and feelings to your container each day to push out some of the bad energy—displace some of that old oil with fresh, energizing water.

I recall waiting for the express train at Penn Station in Manhattan. All around me were people of different races, cultures, and beliefs. Even though some demonstrated loss of temper, I was awed that we all got along as well as we did in the city—because we made an effort to do so—because there was more to gain and too much to lose if we didn’t make the effort.

My point is to ask you to address loss of temper as needed, and place your focus on how well you actually do, for the most part, and expand this. For example, you know how someone might take a test and get 95 out of 100, but focuses on the fact 5 were missed? We tend to be like that at times: we focus on what’s not working, as though it’s the only truth, and forget to notice and appreciate the percentage that is working, all things considered.

Based on what you’ve read here, what will you appreciate more about you and your life this week?

Practice makes progress.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Do You Experience Mixed Feelings About Being Patient and Tolerant?

Patience and tolerance are behaviors and states of mind to practice, right? How well do you do with them?

Questions about Patience and Tolerance came to me after I spent extended time with someone who couldn’t seem to talk about anything that wasn’t unpleasant. All of us need a dose of healthy venting at times; but what I mean here is non-stop negative chatter about anything and everything, not conversation about a specific matter that genuinely needs attention or compassion. If such chatter goes on overlong, I get the heebie-jeebies.

This person’s tendency is to be this way at times, so I’m not surprised when it happens. However, it was my reaction that got my attention. I noticed I was practicing patience, which meant I was pretending to be patient; and that when my pretend patience waned, I slipped (very briefly) into tolerance, which meant I’d actually slipped into pretend tolerance, which is intolerance.

My dictionary defines patience as bearing or enduring pain, trouble, etc., without complaining or losing self-control; refusing to be provoked or angered; calmly tolerating delay, confusion, inefficiency, etc.; able to wait calmly for something desired. Tolerance is defined as to allow, permit, or not interfere; to recognize and respect others’ beliefs, practices, etc., without sharing them; to bear or put up with someone or something not especially liked. Wow… that’s quite a bit to live up to.

I’d have to say that asking ourselves to uphold these definitions all the time would be asking a lot. But, don’t we usually believe we’re supposed to be this way, and that we’re flawed if we aren’t? We may think we should be more patient or tolerant, but what we ultimately want is to feel differently than we do so we behave differently than we might.

The words we don’t see with the definitions—the words we believe we should feel, which are the source of mixed feelings are, “and you are genuinely in balance about doing so.” The word “calmly” is included in the definitions, but it’s more realistic to say we try to convince ourselves to stay calm, when we know we’re losing our cool. The more we try to suppress what we feel, the more our feelings begin to escape as facial expressions and body language, comments, and actions—like steam from a kettle starting to boil.

Maybe what we actually practice is demonstrating as much self-control as we can muster in moments that try our patience and tolerance. When we were kids, we screamed, cried, and threw stuff—behaviors not considered acceptable in anyone over a certain age. As adults, perhaps we do allow ourselves some leeway… like the point a doctor made about allergies: “Imagine allergens filling your system like liquid fills a glass. You’re fine until the glass is full and spills over. The overflow is when you experience allergies.” I see the parallel to loss of patience and tolerance, which means we could probably give ourselves more credit than we might.

It feels like this to me: In general, we tolerate a level of behaviors and situations because we all have our ways, both good and could-be-better; and we really do desire to get along as well as possible with others and life. When “stuff” piles up, like being rushed, exhausted, have too much going on, too great a personality contrast, etc., our “glass” overflows and we feel less able to “politely” suppress how we really feel. Once we feel pushed too far (more accurately: once we think ourselves into feeling we’ve been pushed too far), we’re no longer able or willing to put up with what annoys us. It’s not about losing patience and tolerance—we will; it’s about what we do when we lose it.

When patience and tolerance are challenging to maintain, or fly out the window, it’s time to look at what’s underneath this. It’s likely that something has continued past its “expiration date.” It could be something external or internal that needs reassessment and adjustment.

It’s likely you have a greater threshold of tolerance and patience at times, say, when you assist someone who’s ill or train a new puppy. It doesn’t mean that you won’t slip if challenged beyond what your “glass” can hold, but you may be slower at being triggered during such times because you have an inner alignment about your role in what’s going on. That’s what’s underneath patience and tolerance, and their opposites: Your level of personal alignment with what’s going on.

Explore what causes you to feel anything but at one with yourself, who you’re with, your environment, or events. There’s a message waiting for you there from your core self—a message about an inner or outer action you need to make to restore inner balance and serenity.

Judgment about yourself, or who or what tries your patience won’t help; it’ll make your symptoms worse because that’s what you focus on rather than the remedy. Take several deep breaths. Maybe walk away from who or what triggers you for several minutes to regain some of your calm. You want to be present enough to ask right questions like, “What’s this really about; and what am I willing to do, with integrity, about it.” Otherwise, you may pretend patience and tolerance, until you no longer can. Then the “steam hits the fan,” when you might have been able to turn down the “flame.”

Practice makes progress.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Life Is Not Supposed to Be All About Problems

Do you wake every day, move through your day, and go to bed with problems on your mind? Maybe you’d like to do something about that right now.

What can you do that’s quick? Reframe the problem or your perceptions about it to make a difference, even if just a small shift at first.

I listened to an interview with Marcia Wieder and she said something like, “Life is not meant to be just about addressing problems.” How often you might feel that your days are all about problems! Maybe thinking that way has become a habit.

Marcia’s statement brought my thoughts back several years, to a call with my Life Coach. He listened to me for a while and asked, “Have you ever noticed how many times you use the word ‘problem’?” He had me there, and I was glad he brought it to my attention. Someone in my life consistently says, “We have a problem.” I’d become so accustomed to hearing it that I didn’t even realize I was using the word so often (and experiencing all that goes with it).

What happens to your energy when you say or think, “I have a problem” or even “There’s a problem”? Do your thoughts immediately go to or open to possible solutions? Not really, huh? You focus on the fact there’s a problem or that a problem is perceived. How can you reframe this?

Here’s an example from my past. The due date for a monthly bill loomed. Expected funds hadn’t arrived. I reclaimed units of Truth and calmed myself. Unexpected funds came to me, which meant I could mail the check and have extra left over. Except… I verified the deposit had cleared and saw a lower online balance from my check register, caused by an annual automated charge. The company had always emailed a notice a few weeks early so I could plan for it. They hadn’t this time.

At first I was disappointed. Then I recognized how I’d been “looked after” from a higher level than physical reality. It was an Instant Reframe Moment, because I could have stayed in the mental-emotional place that believed I had less than I could have had, or life was unfair, or any number of negative perceptions. Instead, I chose to acknowledge I’d been “looked after” at that time, as I had before, and would be again.

Being in problem mode and in a negative perception state can become a bad habit, without you even realizing it. It can make you not only anticipate problems but also amplify severity of situations that arise—through your thoughts about them—beyond what they really represent or present. This can cause you to ignore what shows up to assist you or to not see what shows up for what it is.

A friend of mine had this habit mixed in with the perception that everything had to be “larger than life” to have real value. One Saturday we spoke on the phone about a “problem” she had. My intuition said to suggest she go to a metaphysical bookstore and let a book find her. She agreed to do this. We spoke a few hours later and she insisted she’d found nothing. My inner knowing said otherwise. She finally said, “I did find a book, but it’s just a small one.” I asked which one. “Life was never meant to be a struggle,” she answered. Oh boy. The physical book could fit inside a shirt pocket and not show. Her skewed perceptions about a “little” book caused her to miss the big message for her in the title, alone.

Our perceptions can cause us to wear blinders so that we look in only one direction, usually a negative or limiting one. A habit of labeling events and feelings according to these perceptions closes us off from seeing things differently.

Stuff happens—and for reasons we don’t always understand; but here are four questions to ask when you want to check whether your perceptions about events or situations are working for you:
• What else might be going on? (Negative perceptions limit “visibility”!)
• Is there any value to me at the inner or outer levels; and if not apparent now, what about in the future? (There’s always inner-level value; and hindsight often shows a “brilliance” orchestrated the events—if we allow ourselves to see this.)
• In what way does this event ask me to be creative? (This could be at the inner, outer, or both levels.)
• Do situations (or I) change quicker if I get tense or if I allow serenity in? (You know this one is a no-brainer. If you’re a prickly cactus energy-wise, nothing comes close to you. Smooth your “surface,” and whatever IT is gives you a big hug.)

If your perception about a “problem” is that it’s an opportunity to be creative, or to learn and grow, is it still a problem of the same magnitude? If you reframe it this way, does it still have the same emotional charge for you?

Marcia asked listeners to consider what their relationship is with their personal power. You are an infinite soul, a creative consciousness engaging a physical experience; not just a problem solver or someone who just has problems. Practice being a creative and a creative solver; and use your reframing skills to allow you to experience events from a more positive or productive perspective. There are likely some matters in your life right now you could apply this approach to. Maybe start with some of the simpler ones.

Dustin Hoffman, as Mr. Magorium, in Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, says to his assistant: “Life is an occasion. Rise to it.” That’s what “problems” are, actually: Occasions we have the opportunity to rise to, whatever that means for us as individuals, and in ways appropriate and authentic for us (not based on the opinions of others).

Will you choose to rise to or through your personal power or sink into negative thinking today?

Practice makes progress.
© Joyce Shafer

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