Remembering The Ones We Loved

Wonderful colors of Whitsunday Islands on winter season, Austral
Today we all honor another Memorial Day and take time to acknowledge and be thankful for the many brave men and women who have lost their lives or been injured serving our country. This day also causes me to reflect on ones I have lost in my own life. I imagine this could be true for others as well. Loss has a way of changing one, sometimes in ways you would never have imagined. And I think about the ways each of us memorialize or remember those that were once close to us that have now traveled on. And I know for each of us that the need to do this and the way to do this is different. What is important is that we each do it in the way that will be most helpful for our journey through grief.

I remember when I was growing up there was a local family who had one child. I wasn’t overly close to them or their daughter, but I had grown up with her. I remember knowing they wanted more kids. I think she was 12 or so when her brother, Bobby was born. When Bobby was five his dad took him on a business trip. The bus crashed and Bobby was thrown from the bus and killed. I remember how tragic this was. I bring this up because I have never forgotten Bobby, or his family. I wasn’t involved enough with this family to attend the services. However, I did go to our local swimming pool almost every day. And at that pool the family planted a tree in honor of Bobby. Of course at the time it was a small tree and when I would go back home as an adult I would remember Bobby as I observed the tree growing with time. The tree is now very large and beautiful. While Bobby’s family may have done that as their way of honoring Bobby, it was also good for the community.

I realize that the way each of us want or need to honor someone close to us who has died is different. I remember when I experienced my first major loss I lite a candle every night in honor of this person for some time. Also after that first loss I developed an infinity for angles and cherubs. These gave me a sense of hope and comfort. I still collect them today. Some people have rituals of visiting the grave site on the person’s birthday, anniversary of their death and often, Memorial Day.

If you have lost someone close to you I hope that you have ways to still honor them in your life. Maybe you have others that remember this person too so that you can talk about him or her whenever needed. Maybe you have a garden you created to remember this person. Maybe you continue a ministry that this person started. Or maybe you are involved with his or her children as a way to honor and stay connected to your loved one. I encourage you to create or continue healthy rituals that will allow you to warmly connect with your loved one that has traveled forward and left you behind.

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Ways To Stop Sabotaging Yourself – Tip Five

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The crux of how you can stop sabotaging yourself is to start living intentionally and on purpose. Stop just reacting to life and start paying attention. That is the essence of being the active director of your life – paying attention. If you begin by consciously focusing on the four previous tips you will start to feel more satisfied. Being aware of your internal dialogue, identifying your values and goals, paying attention to your behaviors and being selective in your relationships are always your responsibility no matter what the circumstances are in your life.

Life ebbs and flows, sometimes in more pleasant ways than other times. Although there are many things about life in general that you cannot control, no matter what is occurring you always have a choice of how to respond. I think one’s true character come out during these difficult times. The more intentional you have been living when times are good, the better you will do during the difficult moments.

It is better to be more proactive than just reactive to what life throws your way. Sitting in the director’s chair in your life is the best avenue to feeling in control of your life. As you live more on purpose you will feel more at peace with yourself and often with others. Choose to live each day knowing that you and your life are your responsibility and that you deserve to live as full and complete as possible.

Stop Sabotaging Yourself – Tip Four!

Tree in the shape of heart, valentines day background,
Another hugely powerful key to stop sabotaging yourself is to be more selective in your relationships. Who are the people you spend most of your time with? How is the quality of those relationships? Do these relationships help you be a better person? Do these relationships encourage you or do they drain you? Are you doing more giving than receiving?

Our friendships mirror us. As do all of our relationships. They are reflections of who we are at some level. It is imperative that you take responsibility in all your relationship choices. Are your friendships in alignment with your values? Are they helping or hindering you in achieving your goals? The people you choose to spend close personal time with need to be people that encourage you more than discourage you. You do have the ability to manage who you give your energy to and who you don’t.

I often hear people say “well, you can’t pick your family,” which is true, however, that doesn’t mean you have to tolerate hurtful or inappropriate behaviors. Even with family you have to learn to set limits and boundaries. You can control how much time you spend with them and what activities you are comfortable participating in with them. You can create safer ways to interact with family members without having to extract them from your life.

I end with sharing this wonderful poem. Unfortunately, the author is unknown. I think this is a great analogy of our responsibilities in all our relationships:

Not everyone is healthy enough to have a front row seat in our lives.
There are some people in your life that need to be loved from a distance.
It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you let go of or at least minimize your time with draining, negative, incompatible, not going anywhere relationships/friendships.
Observe the relationships around you. Pay attention.
Which ones lift and which ones lean?
Which ones encourage and which ones discourage?
Which ones are one a path of growth uphill and which ones are going downhill?
When you leave certain people do you feel better or worse?
Which ones always have drama or don’t really understand, know, or appreciate you?
The more you seek quality, respect, growth, peace of mind, love, and truth around you,
The easier it will become for you to decide who gets to sit in the front row and who should be moved to the balcony of your life.
If you cannot “change” the people around you, change the people you are around.

Ways To Stop Sabotaging Yourself – Tip Three

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I shared previously about taking time to pay attention to your thoughts; your inner dialogue. Tip one involved changing your negative thoughts to more positive and encouraging thoughts. The second way to help you feel more self-directed is to know what you value most and set goals that are in alignment with these values.

Thirdly, pay attention to your behaviors. We have all heard the saying “actions speak louder than words.” Well, what are your actions saying about you? Do you like what your behaviors are saying? Are your actions in harmony with your values? I am often surprised by how many people never ask their self this question. While it is great to know what is important to you it is equally imperative to have continuity between your values and your behaviors. A key element to stop self-sabotaging is to behave in ways that emerge from your values. If you don’t take responsibility for how you are living your life it will be hard to feel satisfied. You may on occasion (or by accident) feel happy, however, it will usually be short lived. The best way to insure you achieve the greatest satisfaction out of life is to behave intentionally.

Many clients tell me they put their head in the sand to avoid dealing with reality. This may help them avoid some temporary discomfort, however, the long-term suffering tends to be worse than it would have been to just live with their eyes wide open and take the necessary actions required to create the life they want. When your behaviors are not a reflection of your values where is the peace? Where is the happiness? I encourage you to take your head out of the sand and live on purpose!

Ways To Stop Sabotaging Yourself – Tip two

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Hopefully, you have been paying attention to your internal dialogue and making positive corrections when needed. Along with tip number one, another way to stop sabotaging yourself is to identify your values and goals. How can you attain the life you want if you are not clear about what is most important to you? Just going through the motions of daily life is living passively. It is easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life and before you know it another year has gone by. Can you relate? As I state in my book, “one is often so busy doing life that it is easy to avoid evaluating whether you are putting your energy in the directions you value most.” Taking time to gain clarity about what is important to you is essential.

A simple way to assess if you are putting your energies into what is important to you is to record how you spend a usually 24-hour day. You can do one for your usual work day and one for a non-work day. Write down all your activities. Include time for sleep. Be especially mindful of how you use your non-working hours. Then on a separate sheet write down what you deem are important areas in your life. Some examples are children, spouse, family, working-out, gardening and the like. Now review your work and non-work days and notice if your available time is used for these important areas. The more congruent these two are the happier you will be.

As you are more aware of what you value, then you create goals that will adhere to and reinforce those values. Goal setting is a way of assuring that you are progressing in a manner that aligns with your values. If you notice that you spend the majority of your free time after work watching TV and neglecting your desire for going on a bike ride or spending time with your partner then try making gradual shifts. Maybe one night you will commit to riding your bike for thirty-minutes. Or maybe you will decide to turn the TV on an hour later and spend that hour chatting with your partner. Whatever you need to do to make your available time align more with what matters most to you, do it! It is worth the effort.

Ways To Stop Sabotaging Yourself – Tip One

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It seems so many people are feeling dissatisfied in their lives. We hear it daily on the many newscasts about individuals making so many negative choices: from dishonesty, to addictions, to murders, to suicides etc. More so, we hear it closer to home, such as in our neighborhoods, workplaces and in our social situations. And, many of you reading this are struggling with general dissatisfaction and discouragement. When we feel this way we tend to make decisions that hurt us in one way or another. What can we do to feel more satisfied and in control of our lives? Well, for starters, since we cannot control all the external events that occur, let’s start with an aspect we can do something about: ourselves! This is one area you DO have the power to effect positive change!

First and foremost I encourage you to become aware of what you are telling yourself…your internal dialogue. Whether you are conscious of it or not, you are chattering to yourself all the time. Unfortunately, most people don’t take the time to notice the quality of their internal chattering. You can think of this internal chattering as your internal parent. This parent is either critical or nurturing. Pay attention. If you don’t make the effort to listen to this internal dialogue then you may be subconsciously sabotaging yourself. I encourage you to stop and take a moment every hour and check in with your internal dialogue. Notice if your internal parent is critical or nurturing. If you are being hard on yourself, correct your dialogue. The more patient, kind and encouraging you can be with yourself; the better you will feel and behave. The internal messages you are sending yourself are central to your ability to live a more full and productive life. Give yourself the gift of positive self-talk and experience the freedom it brings!