Holidays are a wonderful time of year.It gives us an opportunity to reflect on relationships both past and current while growing closer to one another.The holidays are a great opportunity to put ourselves in a position to serve and to help others... to take care of those that may be in need.This seems to be an easier concept for us to internalize than the challenge of allowing ourselves to be served.We become accustomed to being doers during the holidays. We get caught up in the swiftness of shopping and preparing and our focus becomes directed towards pleasing and making other lives pleasurable during this time.It is important for us to allow ourselves to receive as much as we are given to give others the opportunity to feel the holiday spirit and reap growth that comes from serving those around us.It is my hope that during the holiday seasons that if you find yourselves being taken care of or served by another that you will take the time to reflect on the importance that they have placed on their relationship with you.
I have often been intrigued by the many different scenarios in which parents have a hard time setting boundaries with their children.Parenting is a challenging and rewarding experience and in order to make parenting easier it requires two specific things.Number one is boundaries and number two is consistency with those boundaries.
I have watched through the years as parents have struggled with one or both of these things.Struggling to set boundaries can be due to the guilt of not being a perfect parent. It can also be associated with the desire to be loved or liked by their children thus creating a lose - lose situation. I have also noticed parents who personalize their children’s behaviors and emotions which takes away the clarity as to where boundaries need to be set.
When it comes to consistency, one of the biggest challenges parents have is slowing down enough to give themselves time to follow through and enforce the boundaries that have been established. We are all extremely busy in this world today.At times the last thing we want to do at the end of a busy day is to deal with the contention that comes from enforcing and confronting boundaries that have been set.I have often thought of consistency like a garden of vines.If we are continually pruning and attending to the new challenging growth, it becomes manageable and less stressful.When attended to once a week, twice a month or even monthly, it tends to become overwhelming.The thought of getting caught up becomes immobilizing and overwhelming.It is never too late to call in a gardener and get the help we need to get the vines under control again.Often times when it becomes unbearable and unmanageable, help is the only answer.Oddly enough I have noticed that people are afraid to get help.Embarrassed by the overgrowth and unmanageable vines, they hide their yards from others lamenting and thinking they are the only ones.They begin to bring in the guilt and shame that acts as fertilizer for the vines and enhances their growth even more.
In order for parents to increase their consistency to set and enforce healthy boundaries with their children, it first requires the ability to let go of yesterday and to focus on how we want tomorrow while embracing today as it comes.Second, without guilt and shame, seek help and engage those who have the skillset to help the overwhelmed feelings.Third, SLOW DOWN!Slowing down requires us to prioritize our values and to focus on the things that are important and the things that are real, letting go of the fears of what other people think or might think of the situations that we find ourselves in.
Recently I was asked how to overcome feelings of bitterness toward those who have hurt us in the past.Further, how to combat the desire to seek revenge or to let go of vengeful feelings.
A short time ago I posted a Facebook status that said “Sometimes the sweetest revenge is just letting go and moving on with your life”. It is not always easy to let go of the bitterness and hurt due to the fact that we equate the rejection and ill doing of others to our value as a human being.We tend to interpret others thoughts and feelings as qualifiers as to whether we are good people or not.
As a young boy my mother told me a story of when she was little and how other young boys would try to scare her with spiders on the playground.My mother soon discovered that by not responding to the boys as they presented the spiders to her they became discouraged and would leave her alone.The simple act of my mother not focusing on what scared her gave her the freedom to move on with her life.
We often times become too overly focused on the thoughts, feelings and actions of others.This causes us to become overly attached and unable to move on with our lives.Simply by changing our focus on what is real and what is important we can find the freedom to move forward with our lives.By letting go and moving on we become unresponsive to those who have hurt us or seek to hurt us.Over time, those individuals will soon become either discouraged or disinterested with their actions and stop presenting their spiders to us.
It is not always the actions of others that become frightening to us, it often times can be the obsessive thoughts and false images that WE allow ourselves to obsess over.That said, the solution remains the same.Whatever we give energy to continues to live.Whatever we refrain from giving energy to will soon cease to exist.
Have you ever thought what it would be like to not smell fresh bread coming from the kitchen?Or to have that gentle soft hand placed on your forehead in the middle of the night when you don’t feel well?How about story time?How important were these things to you when you were a child?
I am speaking to the importance of women and the value they have in our world.It is my opinion that women are the most powerful beings on this earth.I believe this because every young man and women have to come through women to exist in this world and are then raised and conditioned to listen to that sweet voice as council.
I was shocked recently as I was reading a Readers Digest article, which stated that in a 30 year period over 163 million female babies were not born into this world due to the policies of 5 countries.These countries are China, India, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia.I was overwhelmed by this statistic and saddened at the thought of such a powerful resource being discarded. I thought of the powerful women in my life that have shaped me into the man that I am and have given me the opportunity to help other people.
The first of which was my amazing mother, Myrene Nixon. Her continual patience and prodding echo in my mind today.As a child growing up with a severe learning disability and dyslexia, a mantra that my mother engrained upon my mind was “Dean you cannot use this as a crutch”.To this day that is a mantra that continually drives me forward when I so desperately want to just sit down.The second is Mimi Sorensen, my remedial teacher at cottonwood elementary school.She was one of the sweetest, kindest, gentlest women that taught me the value of patience.Third are my sisters who were a big factor in my rearing which taught me humor, belief in myself and to respect women no matter their shape or size.Forth would be Cheryl Farr, one of the cofounders of Sunhawk academy.She had the courage to open my eyes to emotional growth and another way to live.Fifth is Sue Judd, longtime friend, role model and business partner. Sue has exemplified integrity, hard work and compassion.Watching her give of herself freely to fight the battles of addictions in others has left me humbled and amazed.Finally my amazing wife, Andrea, who I have learned the meaning of true love. She has the courage in me when I have lost it, who is my confidant and companion of whom I have the ability and blessing to spend the rest of my eternities with.
As I thought of these women and the impact they have had in my life among the many other unmentioned women that have impacted me, I asked myself what if they had been one of these 163 million.How would my life had been different?Would I have the empathy and compassion and the value system that I now hold?Would I have seen life the same?I challenge all of you to see the power in womanhood and find a way to nurture that flame and help it to become the burning fire that can change our world for the better.
Have you ever noticed that when you are standing in an overwhelming feeling of gratitude, nothing else seems to matter?That feeling of Gratitude serves as an anchor connecting us to the moment we are currently in.
The interesting part to me is the process we go through in order to feel that feeling.There seems to be three significant things which happen.The first is “awareness”.Awareness requires us to be looking outside of our own selfish thoughts and feelings.It allows us to be open and to receive.The second is “surrender”. It is the ability to fully let go of all things small and petty.Allowing ourselves to be totally absorbed into that moment.The third is a “change of focus”. At that moment when that over whelming feeling of gratitude occurs, we are no longer fixated on the past or afraid of the future.We are truly congruent with the moment and have created a feeling of safety and serenity.For that moment we feel absolutely content.
Gratitude is an emotion that is rooted in love and can serve to be a grounding force in helping us to see our value.What are you grateful for?
Through the years I have found the key to emotional mastery comes through the ability to set healthy boundaries with our thoughts.I have been intrigued by the obsessive mind and its ability to learn and process, dissect and rationalize through problems. Obsessive minds have brought out brilliant philosophies and concepts which have impacted our world; such as Einstein’s theory of relativity.
Like every gift, however, our mind either becomes a tool or a weapon based upon how we use it. The destructive side of the obsessive mind keeps us stuck in the past or in the future trying to minimize risk and pain.While the whole time it is inflicting a continual stream of unnecessary pain.It is important to understand that our emotions are driven by our thoughts. The task that is simple, yet difficult to master, is to learn to set healthy boundaries with the obsessive mind and teach it, as we would a child, to focus on things that are relevant to us moving forward in life.The inability to manage our emotions can often lead to unhealthy habits, impulsive behavior and poor boundaries with others.
Controlling our thoughts can be as similar to being a child lying on the green grass on a summers day, watching the clouds float by.Often times a cloud would come into view that somehow would not fit within our imagination or reveal any shape or character.So in a childlike way we would simply let that cloud go and focus on clouds that gave us what we needed.Thoughts that enter our mind which often seem uninvited are given energy when we try to resist them.If we simply accept the thought, thank it and then dismiss it, it will help in the process of refocusing back on what is relevant and important.
The mastery of our emotions is our responsibility. Often times we give others power over us by allowing their thoughts and feelings to drive our emotions, rather than simply acknowledgingthat it is what we are choosing to focus on and it is in our hands to decide.
Recently I was asked, “What does forgiveness have to do with accountability?” Too many times in our lives we get confused between taking accountability for our lives and forgiving people vs forgiving people and not taking accountability for our lives.To truly forgive means to move past or move beyond the issue or event that we have either created or has been created by others.To take accountability means that we may or may not have been the creator but we are choosing to act rather than be acted upon.I have been asked many times if forgiving people means I have to let them back into my life? Or the opposite; if they have forgiven me, why are things not as they were? This feeling may be a result of others setting and keeping boundaries.We may interpret these boundaries as a person’s lack of forgiveness.It is important to remember that just because we are letting it go or forgiving doesn’t mean that what happened was ok, it just means we are no longer being held back by it.It is critical to maintain, enforce and set boundaries in order to keep ourselves safe.This may come in the form of limiting exposure to those that are unhealthy, limiting our conversations to topics that do not lead to unhealthy discussions and / or removing ourselves from the environments which these events have occurred in.It is our responsibility to keep ourselves safe and take action with accountability in order to move forward.
A few weeks ago while facilitating a seminar; a friend of mine purchased a nutritional juice beverage for me.As I sat and read the label I was struck by one of the suggestions that the product made.It simply said this, “shake well, separation is natural”.As I sat and pondered this statement, it struck my heart deeply as I realized how much of our time is spent grieving over loss.We grieve over the loss of loved ones, time, youth, energy, work, etc.Grief is an appropriate emotion for us to experience.However, it is not appropriate for us to entertain and marinate in for extended periods of time.Grief’s adverse effects on our emotional state contribute to the loss of focus on what is currently happening and it does not allow us to engage in the moments as they arrive.When we extend our grief longer than necessary, we then grieve even more over the time now lost in addition to what we were originally grieving.The mental toll that it takes on us affects our thoughts and beliefs.It takes away our ability to reason with the current information.It brings in past memories and assumptions to dilute what is true.It also causes us to lose focus on what is important. The most significant toll is the loss of gratitude and the inability to see the things we are grateful for rather than lamenting over those that are lost.Please don’t misunderstand, grief is appropriate and applicable when it is used to heal and let go of loss.But, “Separation is natural”. It is not appropriate to marinate or dwell in the past for so long that it means we lose today.
True balance is one of the hardest things for humans to acquire because of where we chose to put our focus.We tend to become more focused on balance as what we want things to feel like rather than embracing what it is in the moment.An evaluation of which we may be more focused on can be done by looking at which of the two kinds of emotional pain and discomfort is present in our lives (necessary pain or unnecessary pain). Necessary emotional pain and discomfort is what generates growth and emotional coping skills.Unnecessary emotional pain and discomfort is created by our fears and expectations and is where we allow ourselves to draw our personal value from.We fear emotional discomfort because we often perceive it as a sign of weakness, that we are bad or that there is something “wrong” with us or the other who is causing it.With this energy we assume we are out of balance.The reality may simply be that this emotional discomfort is what we need to help us progress and grow to become balanced.True balance is obtained when we learn to stop avoiding issues and problems that are necessary in our lives.It is not achieved by eliminating all emotional discomfort.Embracing our humanity and accepting our short comings, while doing our best to eliminate unnecessary emotional pain, will prove itself to bring true balance.
One of the main questions I get over and over is how do I increase the value within myself? The answer is very simple, it’s the ability to invest in one’s self and to find ways to continue to change the way we see ourselves. Many times in our lives we reach out to find answers when we are struggling. But we fail to maintain that nurturing spirit when times are good. Just like the physical body the emotional and mental body needs continual nutrition. We are continually bombarded daily with information that is both helpful and toxic. We have the ability to digest healthy information and material.
For this purpose TurningLeaf has now turned to our blogs as a source of continual nutrition on an emotional and developmental level. The information contained come from professionals in the fields of personal development, emotional growth, parenting, addiction and mental health. We hope our blogs become a source of insight and information and you will continue to refer to them. We are grateful for insight, input or requests for information in the source of feedback along with questions we can address in future posts. This is about you and the needs of your personal development. Visit our "Contact Us" page to send your questions and feedback.
Aside from mine, TurningLeaf hosts 4 other main blogs which can be found on our website or in the right hand column of this or any other TurningLeaf Blog. They include; TurningLeaf Wellness Center (All Areas of Wellness), Richard Y Moody, Ph.D. (Mental Health), Sue Judd, MSS, LSAC (Substance Abuse) and Jamie Lightner, Life Coach (Parenting). Each blog will now have a new post at least weekly with information pertaining to its area of expertise. These posts will link to TurningLeaf’s Facebook Fan pagein addition to each individual’s fan page.
It’s not about change, It’s about growth! Watch for future posts and use this tool to keep moving forward!
In order to free our minds we must remove our ancestral definitions. The beliefs of others cloud our minds and we become lackadaisical and complacent in our own understanding of what is true. As children we need our parents hands to guide our steps, their mouths to form our words, yet our thoughts remain our own. It is our perception and discernment coupled with meditation and constant prayer that leads to our truth. Ignore those who claim they know the only true way. If there is truly only one way, how can the path accommodate us both. Our path is personal in nature, we must find it through our darkness. Our choices create a path that is as a finger print, unique to our needs and lessons. We believe what we know to be true. I ask, do we know or believe what others tell us is true?
We at times will be required to risk and stretch to prove the growth we have achieved. Just as a butterfly will flap its newly emerging wings, we to must test what we have learned. The fear of failure casts an ominous shadow, it can block out the light of truth, bringing lies and insecurities, blinding us from answers. A simple change of focus will give us strength to risk. When we can see that there is truly no failure, only the results of our choices, we remove the fear from movement. I challenge you to risk today, as you do look for results, then feel the courage grow within you.
The distraction of others actions is an attempt to satisfy our own emotional discomfort. This lack of focus on our own issues creates a dependency on the external world, creating a dissatisfaction with the life we have. Learning to focus on our own feeling and controlling our thoughts gives us peace and freedom.
To often we do not place full value on the simple growth we achieve. Just as a bucket can be filled by a dripping faucet, our growth can be slow but consistent. It is important that we do not underestimate the power of patience.
I was told by my mother many time as a child to live "The Golden Rule." She would say, "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you." I have since wondered as I listen to people talk about themselves if that is such a good idea. Too many times I hear derogatory statements and self defeating remarks made at times of frustration, even in times that seem to be ideal comments can be demeaning. I hear some say, "I never speak ill of myself," yet I can tell by the way they carry themselves that the words may not be said outward, but they are being said inward. I believe my Mother's council was sound, it's not about how we treat others, it's about how we treat ourselves that will make the most impact. Let's live "The Golden Rule" of "Treat yourself as well as you treat others."