Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Conversation Turn-Around

"I wonder what I should make for dinner?" I asked my husband.



"We're going to my parents. I told you that."

"No, you didn't."

"I was on the phone with my mom, so I thought you figured that out."

"But, you didn't tell me."

"Well, there were a number of phone calls between my mom and my sister regarding the time. I thought you were listening."

"No, I wasn't listening to your phone call, so how was I to know?" I asked, agitatedly.

This was a conversation that was becoming untied, and quickly.

Then, I got it!

"Next time, please let me know when we've been invited out. I'd like to feel like I'm part of the decision."


How much effort do we use to defend, attack or find excuses, rather than just accept and correct?

By cutting the strings that tie us to out-dated modes of expression, and weaving in new ways to communicate, we become more adept at honouring ourselves and the listener. The other person may not always agree, but we can feel good about the way in which we handled the situation.

This is a skill that I'm improving, thanks to the power and courage of my heart. Communication can break down under stress. We may say things we regret, or we don't say them well. The true message gets lost under a blanket of hurts, regrets and past experiences.

With a short, heart-driven pause, the stress-cycle is interrupted and a different part of the brain is activated. One that allows you to present your thoughts and views logically and coherently.

What did you notice about the last two lines of the interchange between my husband and I? When have you had conversation turn-arounds? How did you feel?

Thanks to Ilker for this image!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day Habits, All Year

Recently, while standing in the line-up at the grocery store, I overheard the following interchange between the customer and the sales clerk:

- "Do you have your shopping bags?"

- "Bags? Ohhhh, I forgot them in the car."

This woman had good intentions - her reusable shopping bags were one step closer to being used. However, she had not yet made the transition from a intention to a habit.

When you stop at a Starbucks or Tim Hortons, do you remember to bring in and hand over your travel-java mug? If you're staying in-situ to imbibe, are you saying, "For here," so you can be given a ceramic mug instead?

From shopping bags to travel mugs. From reducing to reusing. A large part of going green has to do with building and reinforcing these resourceful habits.

There is a forest-full of ideas available that help you incorporate the 3 Rs into your daily life.

To effect change, remember awareness, knowledge and practise. The woman in the first example had the knowledge part; she was lacking awareness (I'm going into the store, so I need to bring my bags with me) and  practise (repeated action of bringing the bags into the store).

Recognise that you wish to change your actions and then repeat the new behaviour until it requires no effort to remember. In other words, it becomes a no-brainer - you don't have to think about it; you just do.

In the late eighty's, when the green movement was beginning to grow, my friend gave me an aptly-coloured recyclable shopping bag. In the beginning, I'd forget more often than I'd remember; gradually the habit took root. (The shopping bag you see in this image is one that is of approximately the same generation. As you can see, it has served me, and the earth, well.)

Stress can get in the way of your habits. You forget to do and practise the things you want to do and practise. Instead, you find your focus is misdirected and your ill-stress-related health may be taking a front row seat, clamouring for attention that could be otherwise put to good use ... such as cultivating daily environmental habits.

Earth Day is a good day to turn over a new leaf, learn some stress techniques and in the process, help the earth. You feel better, so you'll do better - emotionally, mentally, physically and environmentally!

Related posts:

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Borrowing the Earth

When you borrow something, do you make sure that you return it in as good or better condition than what it was?

Are you pleasantly surprised when your neighbour borrows a cake pan and returns it, filled with goodies?

It may be helpful to cultivate the view that the earth is on loan to us. How do you wish to return it to your future generations?

Related posts:
Photo courtesy of Miguel Ugalde.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Five Reasons For Hiring a Coach, Trainer, Teacher or Mentor

I've read numerous books, watched a few videos and despite my efforts, I realised that I needed some help.

After making a few phone calls and speaking with a number of trainers, I settled upon Chanone at Canine Harmony.

Her philosophy meshed with what I do as a stress coach, so it was a natural fit to work with her.

We officially adopted Holly in January. She is approximately a year old and had been found tied to a fence in a warehouse district. Her previous owners had not done any training with her and she  had no vocabulary. We even tried a number of other languages.

In the short time we've had her, she has come a long way. However, I recognised that in my efforts to train her I was reinforcing some negative habits and was beginning to lose confidence in myself, which she was quick to use to her advantage.

Working with a coach, trainer, teacher or mentor is good for a number of reasons:
  1. You benefit from their considerable experience.They've put in the hours to learn what they're sharing with you.
  2. Tips and techniques are provided that help you integrate what you are learning and achieve your goals faster.
  3. They identify what you are doing right, so you can build upon that.
  4. Point out what you are doing incorrectly, so you don't repeat and make it a habit that becomes more difficult to unlearn.
  5. Accountability - you may have good intentions of learning something new, but without the encouragement, those good intentions may end up sitting on the shelf collecting dust like that language program you were going to follow or those exercise DVDs you were going to regularly use
    As for Holly and I, the learning continues. We are learning from each other. She is learning that she is now safe and that she can trust us. I am deepening a number of lessons about patience and practise - the platform for building new and resourceful habits.

    Related Post: That Little Voice - Intuition

    Thursday, April 8, 2010

    Pumping Up the Volume to Manage Your Stress?

    Have you ever noticed that when the volume of the music is turned up in a restaurant (or your local Starbucks) that the voices of the patrons get  louder?

    Sadly, not only is the increasing volume a hearing-killer, but it's also a conversation-killer. The noise,  rather than enhance the experience, detracts from it.

    A similar thing can occur when you are stressed. How often do you pump up your own volume in order to manage your stressors? 
    In order to meet the increased demands and pressures of life, you may respond by trying harder, doing more, burning the midnight oil. 

    There is a price to pay for this increased output of energy. It may not be felt for a number of years. Like hearing loss that occurs from being exposed to high decibel levels, there is a  loss that is exerted from stress.

    Fatigue sets in, decision-making is impaired, problem-solving becomes difficult, health breaks-down and death may seem more desirable than the life one is experiencing.

    As you go about your day, notice whether you are turning up your volume. Does it take more to get you through the day? Being aware that this is happening is powerful information. You can then learn  and practise some techniques to change the way you do things, turning down the volume so that you live your life more elegantly. 

    How does that sound?

    Image courtesy of Kliverap.