Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Invite Miracles!

Let miracles of all sizes thrill you. This will cause you to attract and expand even more of them into your life.

We’re told to feel appreciation or gratitude if we want to shift into flow. Maybe you wonder how to do that at times, especially if you’re stressed.

When I need an easy re-connect with appreciation and flow these days, I think of how I followed my intuition about where to look for my new residence. It put me at the right place, at the right time, for the right reasons…and fulfilled other significant “rights.” I think about this and literally feel the thrill of that miracle in my cells.

Think of something in your own life that parallels this, something that will let you re-connect quickly, when you need or want to. (It reminds me of Harry Potter being told to think of and feel a happy memory in order to cast an effective Patronus Charm to protect him from energy-draining Dementors.)

Albert Einstein said: “There are two ways to live: You can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle.”

Wishing you a wonderful day and a day filled with wonders… and, miracles!

Monday, August 29, 2011

What Self-Sabotaging Behavior is About

Self-sabotage is not about lack of willpower; so, you can stop beating yourself up about that one. What it is about may surprise you… and empower you.

Self-sabotage happens when you confront the need to move out of your comfort zone to improve your life experience or make a dream or goal happen. This is one reason willpower doesn’t work.

A few words about willpower…

Have you noticed how well trying to force willpower to work and last… works and lasts? It doesn’t, not really. In fact, it sets you up for heavy-duty self-criticism more than accomplishment and self-fulfillment. You might believe willpower did it for you at some time, but it was awareness, choice, commitment, reminders about intention and desired outcomes and motivational statements made to yourself repeatedly that supported you.

Willpower means self-control (according to my dictionary). We don’t like the word “control;” that is, no one really likes the concept of being controlled. When we attempt self-control, it can feel like a force acting from outside us, which we resist. It’s why regimes and resolutions get tossed. Self-management is far friendlier, more realistic, and doable.

Back to self-sabotage…

Think about something you say you really want to do or a project you need to get done or a change you know needs to happen. If anything about that challenges your comfort zone(s), self-sabotaging behaviors pop up. You may notice this as
Your mind wanders when you need to focus
You convince yourself some other task must be done first or instead of priorities (a real trickster for those who work from home)
Self-doubt creeps in that says you don’t have what it takes to do whatever or to do it “right”
If it’s something you haven’t started or you’ve started but don’t stay consistent about it, you may convince yourself you don’t actually have time and that you can’t make time either… that you have to wait until the perfect time shows up to focus on it
You suddenly feel anxious or exhausted, too much so to be productive or creative—you convince yourself that you can only focus on this project or action when it (you) “feels” right, that you can’t even give it five minutes and see where it goes from there

It’s easy (and preferable) to believe your self-sabotaging aspect points to something outside of you that needs to change before you can be productive, when, in fact, it points to something inside you that requires change. The first thing to change is belief that your sabotaging self is against you. It isn’t. It wants you to see a blocking belief that holds you back or stops you so you do something about that rather than resist, or continue to resist, the need for inner change.

Resistance causes you to believe, temporarily or longer, that your ability to choose is impeded, and even removed in some instances. So, instead of making a decision in your favor, you engage lots of activity (or conversations with others or yourself) or go immobile, with little to no productive action on what’s really important and leads to desired results. This applies to business, weight loss, relationships or dating… any goal that requires you step out of your comfort zone about any improvement you say you truly desire. One big trigger for many is—“If I succeed, what will be expected of me then?”

Taking action will make your sabotaging self go quiet. Here are a few examples of your sabotaging self and you having a different kind of conversation.

SS: So, you want to write a book! Well, if you write it and it isn’t perfect, you’ll humiliate yourself. Save yourself the embarrassment and don’t even try. Go do something else—something safe, like house or yard work.
You: Maybe you’re right and maybe you’re wrong. I won’t know unless I prove one or the other correct. So, I’m going to write anyway. I may write only one paragraph or even just one sentence a day. And then I’ll write another and another, and take it from there.

SS: You’re overwhelmed! There’s too much to do and think about, so do nothing for now…or for longer…or rake leaves or do something that doesn’t challenge you but lets you feel busy.
You: There is a lot to do, but I’m going to make a list and prioritize it. Then I’m going to make a schedule that helps me address priorities and get to it, one item at a time.

SS: Don’t focus on your priority. Think about all those other things on your to-do list.
You: I’m going to give at least an hour or two of full focus each day to my priority, until it’s done. I’ll attend to other matters, as well, but my priorities will get done. [I wish I’d made note of who said this: “Make your to-do items your Ta-Da! items.”]

Your sabotaging self waves its hand for your attention. Fear gets triggered. Clarity of thought disappears—it’s like mind static. Your conscious mind doesn’t clearly hear what your sabotaging self is saying because of the static—which is why you don’t know specifically what’s bothering you, but you feel its effects. A remedy is to look at what you were supposed to do when you did something else instead or are about to. What’s up with that? A fact is that sometimes you really do need to do something else or something else first, or genuinely need to rest; but, you know the difference between a real need and avoidance.

The example conversations showed you can hear what your sabotaging self says to you (to get your attention, not actually to stop you in your tracks) and then do the opposite. The thing is that once you do this enough times or one really good time, your sabotaging self will put a checkmark by that item and never bring it up again. It won’t need to. It will be a block you’ve overcome. Your sabotaging self wants to help you get over fear of taking calculated risks so you can receive rewards you desire.

Practice makes progress.
© Joyce Shafer

Friday, August 19, 2011

2 Components of Real Change

There’s one particular thing that often stands in the way of any desired change; and, its partner has near-equal influence. Do you know what these are?

Consideration about the ignition switch for real change started with an email from an associate saying he was in a state of flux and it didn’t feel good. I emailed to check on him a week later and he responded that he’d made a decision to focus on one specific project he really wanted to engage, rather than all the opportunities being presented to him.

My thoughts about this are that the opportunities had become like “shoulds” swarming around his mind—each an external influence vying for his attention. Their “buzzing” distracted him from listening to his inner guidance that would lead him to head and heart alignment. He resolved his inner and outer conflicts by heeding the message of his true feelings (inner wisdom) instead of “should logic,” which allowed him to make a decision appropriate for him at this time. Absence of a decision based on head-and-heart aligned feelings is what often stands in the way of our starting down the path to a desired change.

The second happening that inspired me came when I took my cup of coffee outside early on a Sunday morning. I sat on the ledge by my kitchen door and gazed down at a small patch of wild ground cover and its tiny white flowers, still closed, as they do at night. I’d glanced away for a moment; and when I looked back, saw that one bud had opened; I watched its gradual unfolding. A few minutes later, another opened then another and another, until only one bud remained closed. I went inside to refill my cup, turn on my computer, and then went back outside. The bud was still closed. I kept watching it; it seemed to take a long time to open—though, I believed it would.

While I waited and watched the final bud, I thought that although a decision, as described above, is the first component to real change, it’s followed by right timing, which is different for each of us. These tiny white flowers are all members of the same root system; yet, each opened at different times—when the time was right for them. Right timing applies to decision-making, as well. Some decisions are made quickly; while others, usually about something likely to create significant change for or in us, are made once we move whatever is buzzing us out of the way so we can listen to what our true feelings tell us.

Each bud’s opening was silent—no fanfare, but glorious in its own way. Isn’t that how true change happens inside of us? We may tell others about it, but the moment we make a decision right for us, the moment we feel a true shift within us, is silent and glorious. Poets could use their wordsmith skills to create an image most could relate to feeling-wise, but many of us would be hard-pressed to adequately describe how we feel at such moments. Probably like the buds, we feel the spontaneous opening up—like a welcome inhalation after holding our breath through a long night—followed by a gradual, natural unfolding of our true selves that allows us to give AND receive gifts.

We think of right timing as a matter of external events lining up then showing up, but it starts at the inner level. The client mentioned in my recent article about “shoulding” on ourselves, on her own, saw the impact “shoulds” were having on her inner and outer experiences. Just as my associate’s “opportunity buzzing” pulled his attention away from his inner wisdom for a while, events in my client’s personal life competed, and necessarily so, for attention required by her professional life. She juggled a lot of issues at once. All of us know what that’s like.

Amid all these matters tugging at her, she paid attention and made adjustments. This is why in one of our coaching calls we tweaked a few perspectives, but the real “work” that led to meaningful shifts happened between our calls. One significant thing she did after our call was decide it was time to relax her energy, which invited an external event to line up on her behalf. Quite soon after she chose to relax and feel good about how well she was actually doing, a desired opportunity “knocked at her door.” She was able to greet the opportunity as a calm, gracious, enthusiastic hostess rather than a harried one. This is what opportunities appropriate for us do: they wait for our energy to be inviting.

Both of these individuals provide excellent reminders to us all to listen to our inner voice, and to trust when it tells us that something is out of balance and what would feel better or appropriate for us. They remind us that when we feel pulled at by life’s events, and even possibilities, that pulled feeling is our signal to pay attention, to observe and listen to feelings that lead us back to the ability to make a decision right for us, rather than listen to the mental “buzzing” that distracts us; and then to allow right timing, as needed. The result is peace of mind; and you can’t put a price on peace of mind.

Practice makes progress.
© Joyce Shafer
This week’s State of Appreciation is powerful, if I say so myself! Guest Articles: Complain Your Way to a Breakthrough! by Margaret Lynch; Intimacy . . . We Say We Want It, But Do We Really? by Lynne Forrest; and Just Sit by poet Wendi Romero:

Friday, August 12, 2011

What Should You Be Doing?

I Will Not Should on Myself Today

How ready and able we are to beat up on ourselves! “I will not should on myself today” would benefit many as a new mantra.

A coaching client, who is a solo business person, provided lessons for many by sharing “should” challenges a number of people contend with in their personal, as well as professional lives. Three big “shoulds” showed up for her. You’ve probably experienced at least one of them, in one form or another.

Should 1 convinced her to sit at her computer all day and into the night for three weeks straight, and not productively for the most part, mostly hoping something good would happen—no outings; no mental, emotional, physical, or creative time off. All that time, and nothing shifted in a positive direction. Law of Attraction proves that what you focus on you get more of. A better statement is HOW you focus is what you get more of. Right now, as you read this, make your own mental list of what was likely attracted into her life or amplified during those weeks. More of the same, for sure. Are you currently doing this in one or more areas of your own life?

Should 2 convinced her to believe the way to improve her circumstances and experiences was to focus 24/7 on her home-based creative business—let me change the word “focus” to “dwell on”—there’s a big difference between the two. This “should” is filled with stress and strain, yes? Yes. Was her focus on productive ways and actions to achieve desired outcomes during reasonable work hours, or was she worn out mentally—even burned out from the weight of this kind of thinking? Sure, she had some creative, inspired moments in the mix and some productive outcomes; but most of her thoughts ran like this: “Nothing’s working the way I want it to. What am I doing wrong? Why is this happening? Why is this so hard? When is this ever going to change in my favor?!”—Whew! Using Law of Attraction principles, you can see what her day-to-day experience was like, from dawn to dark. Are you dwelling on similar questions about one or more areas of your own personal or professional life? Dwelling on and acting on create very different results.

Should 3 convinced her that anytime she attempted to focus on a personal project that felt fulfilling to her or anything other than work, her Inner Critic should nag her. What happened was rather than engage with her self and a project fully, she engaged in an inner battle with the Inner Critic—a battle between what she “should” be doing and what she felt inspired and motivated to do at that time. These battles used up her time and energy; wore her out and wore her down. Creative projects inspire. They bring joy and fulfillment by virtue of meeting a creative challenge. For her, this inner battle meant nothing she did was joyful; nothing got completed—except for her feeling completely frustrated. When you consider the Law of Attraction factor here, what you get is a big Ouch! I suggested more fun be included in her life (very attractive to LOA!)—and, not just doing fun things—engaging her own inner fun about whatever she sets out to accomplish.

We think that such stress and strain can be hidden from others (our own private hell), but it leaks from our energetic pores—it pushes people and desired outcomes away like bad body odor. That’s graphic, but true. It shows in our face, our body language, our attitude. It creates a vicious cycle: we want or need to improve something in our lives; but instead of exploring appropriate actions and taking them so we can give outcomes a chance to show up (including fun and recharge times that stimulate creative productivity), we wallow and fret in our minds—which never, ever creates positive experiences and outcomes. And, this casts many people into the dark land known as I Don’t Deserve Anything Better.

We seem to walk on a tightrope when it comes to how we believe we “should” perceive ourselves, which is what generates and amplifies beliefs about what we deserve. It’s kind of like the story of Goldilocks—if we have too high an opinion of ourselves, the “porridge” is too hot. Too low, the “porridge” is too cold. Yet, we can’t seem to allow ourselves to sit in the chair where the “porridge” is just right. Why is this? It’s because we were convinced by others (who also believe this) that the assessment of who we are, how well we’re doing, and what we deserve must be decided by others, not us. We ignore the fact that allowing the opinions of others to define us and what we deserve has never worked and never will; and, in fact, keeps us understandably confused and stifles our natural inclination to explore what fulfills us, to discover and live what makes us feel like just-right porridge.

Every one of us “shoulds” on ourself from time to time. The next time you catch yourself about to do this, stop and ask, “Who am I trying to please?” The best answer, of course, is you! And in that case, you really do know what would please you, so follow your inner wisdom. We’re not talking about running amok here with irresponsible behaviors. We’re talking about you living YOUR life without resisting what feels appropriate, productive, and fulfilling for you.

Shoulding on yourself seldom creates results, it creates a mess. If you feel the need to should on you, relevant resistance is trying to get your attention. Really—if there’s something you must do, you do it—free of shoulds. A “should” is a Stop sign: take a moment to look at it. If you should be doing whatever, why aren’t you; and what would have to happen at the inner level in order for you to do it? Or, maybe you shouldn’t do what you tell yourself you should. During the call with my client, she revealed that her intuition is always correct, but her Inner Critic tries to convince her otherwise with guilt-laden shoulds. I shared a quote with her by Goethe that brought tears to her eyes: “As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.” That we weren’t taught to trust ourselves is a good reason so many do “struggle” as a way of life instead of discovery and fulfillment.

Consider if any of your “shoulds” have merit and go from there, but don’t engage in a battle with them. Shift “I should” to “I will” or “I won’t.” “I should” has no power behind it; “I will” and “I won’t” do. Include your right to have fun at the inner and outer levels of your life. You’ll have a far better Law-of-Attraction result with this approach.

What does the Infinite Creative Consciousness—the final word in all things—say you deserve? All the GOOD you can use and enjoy! But, you have to agree to invite it into your state of mind. Your good will knock; it may put a foot across the threshold, but it won’t enter your life fully without your permission.

Practice makes progress.
© Joyce Shafer
This week’s State of Appreciation issue is especially powerful:

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Healing Emotional Wounds with Forgiveness

Dr. Gabriella Kortsch shared a deeply meaningful article, “Can You Forgive?”—in the most recent State of Appreciation issue, that included powerful comments such as…

“You remember what happened with a great deal of emotion, almost as though you were reliving the painful incident.”

“What I'd like you to think about is this: by remembering, by bringing it back into your mind over and over again - even though you only do it once a week or once a month - you maintain the freshness of the pain. Reliving a painful situation in your mind is tantamount to reliving it in reality ... have you not noticed how the tears can flow again and again, or the red-hot anger can flare over and over ... even though decades have passed?”

And this powerful comment…
“It is at this point that you can begin to take cellular responsibility for yourself, i.e., you will no longer be harming your body in all senses of the word by keeping that negative power in the past.”

Gabriella’s words reminded me of something I wrote in an article once, to the effect that forgiveness asks us to “FOR goodness sake, GIVE yourself a rest from carrying this.”

There’s a difference between an emotional wound we feel from an experience that’s happened recently and one we continue to irritate long after the original event occurred. As Gabriella stated, we influence our very well-being with our thoughts about such moments. Stuff happens that upsets us or hurts us deeply—depending on how we perceive what happened and what we tell ourselves about it, initially and long-term. We are affected the time we live it and each time we relive it. We know this; but until we seek and do what helps us heal these wounds, we suffer over and over. (Dr. Kortsch provides valuable information about this in her article.)

I’ve watched people repeat stories of past hurts—long past in some cases—as though they just happened. I’ve watched them make themselves ill, send their blood pressure up, and more. I’ve done it to myself a time or two.

Dr. Kortsch’s compelling, informative article is available in its entirety on the State of Appreciation Guest Articles website page until Aug. 12, 2011, at .

Is there any lingering past hurt you continue to tug at—from someone else or that you feel the need to forgive yourself for? One you re-wound yourself with over and over? What do you want to do about that? What will you do about it?

Friday, August 5, 2011

7 Tips to Manage Overwhelm

Overwhelm blocks productivity, creativity, enjoyment… and even income! You can begin to improve this starting today.

In my article, “What Does Feeling Overwhelmed Really Mean?”, I mentioned I’d created a mind map. Since then, I revisited my mind map and removed a few things listed there. They’re terrific ideas, but they don’t really “crank my tractor.” This is something you might keep in mind, too.

I’m something of a list addict—okay, maybe list maniac is more like it. Over the years, I’ve revised how I manage my lists so I don’t overwhelm myself with them and what’s on them—though, I can still get carried away when ideas flow. It may look messy or imprecise to others, but it’s a system that works for me.

Here are 7 tips to help you manage or prevent overwhelm, especially for those of you who are list addicts too or don’t like lists and, perhaps, operate a bit on the disorganized side.

1. Stop looking at your physical or mental to-do list and focusing on what isn’t getting done. Key Lesson: To-do lists are to help you focus, not hold you hostage.

2. When you feel overwhelmed by your list, either your energy and enthusiasm fold up and you do nothing or you run yourself ragged trying to clear items from the list—usually non-essential items instead of priorities. You do this to, hopefully, make that darn list smaller! But, of course, you continue to add items to your list, and you feel like you don’t make any real headway. As soon as you catch yourself doing either of these or about to, stop! And, go to the next tip.

3. Prioritize! This may mean numbering items in order of importance or noting which are actually priorities (essential) and which aren’t (not essential).

4. Dump some of the non-essential to-do items—or all of them—or give them to someone else to do, for pay or not, depending on the situation.

5. Give about an hour a week to your to-do list to categorize items as Priority, Not A Priority But Needs Doing, and Non-Essential. Decide which priority or priorities will have your attention that week and decide on which days you’ll focus on which priorities. Include some time for non-priority items that do need to be completed by you or will create personal fulfillment.

6. Remember to take breaks. Get up and move around or do something else for 5 to 10 minutes every hour. (When you focus on projects or tasks, eliminate as many interruptions as it’s realistic to do.) Be sure to take at least one full day each week (two is better), when you do nothing work-related, including thinking about anything work-related. This can make a huge difference in energy, enthusiasm, creativity, and yes, even in income. If you’re self-employed, stress from overwhelm can push success away from you. If employed, being productive, rather than frazzled and behind in your work, can justify pay raises, in your mind and your employer’s.

7. Adjust your attitude. Find a way to make whatever you do a creative challenge for you, whatever that looks or feels like to you. “Martyrs” don’t have fun and aren’t fun to be around. If what you have to do isn’t pleasant, why are you doing it? Sometimes you have to do the unpleasant tasks, but sometimes you don’t. It also helps attitude to consider if what you do will be a genuine help to someone who relies on you for valid reasons. If you switched places with them, what attitude would you hope the other person demonstrated?

Another contributor to overwhelm is when your actions don’t show immediate results. You might give up or change course instead of look at what’s going on and what might lead to desired results. Impatience makes you chase lots of flashy things that seem to say, “Try me! Try me!” This is a big reason why success gets stalled—this, plus too many people believe they have to get it “right” and strike it big right away rather than improve and build gradually.

Overwhelm leads to lack of faith in yourself, leads to lack of faith that your desired result is possible. You may flip back and forth between, “This will work” and “This will never work,” which is stacking another form of overwhelm atop what’s already there. Overwhelm can lead you to undervalue you and what you offer—and even those you offer it to.

Really look at what your priorities are—what can actually lead to desired results. Really look at what aren’t priorities. Is there anything on your list that is a terrific idea but just doesn’t float your boat about doing it (and the decision to do it is yours alone)? Delete any of these you know you could or should, or recruit someone to handle them for you, if you truly believe they need to happen. But, don’t convince yourself non-essential items, or uninspiring ones, have to be done just because you wrote them down.

Keep in mind that life seldom happens in a straight line. Neither does goal or dream setting and getting. A plan-of-action helps you stay the course and get back on course when detours show up. You don’t have to be “perfectly” organized, but you benefit if you have a system that helps you be better organized, in a way that works for you.

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.

End procrastination and achieve desired change in a 2-month online course (see website) with Joyce Shafer, Life Coach, author of I Don’t Want to be Your Guru, but I Have Something to Say & other books/e-books, & publisher of State of Appreciation, a free weekly online newsletter promoting a blend of practical & spiritual approaches to life for personal development and self-realization. Receive a free PDF of How to Have What You REALLY Want when you subscribe at