How Is Your Election “Hangover”?

Looking at the numbers from last night’s election it would be easy to state that about half our country is jubilant today and the other half feels despondent. .

Yet, looking at the exit poll numbers, it looks as if there is a third group that is equally large.

People in this group might feel a kind of indifference at the election result. Like there was no good choices anyway.

So if this is true, our populace in America today is almost evenly split in three groups: One that feels post-election triumph, one that feels post-election blues, and a third group that is coping with post-election indifference.

People in the triumphant group might be liable to “shout it from the roof tops” as if it were some sort of personal achievement that the “right man won”.

People in the group that feels defeated might feel profound loss and, as someone tweeted last night, a sense of “the world is over”.

The people in the third group might feel a variety of emotions from cautious optimism to moderate resignation to downright anger at not having someone in politics they can believe in. For many in this group the reaction might be a lack of interest and a sense of disengagement.

No matter which group each one of us are in, I think today calls for a reality check.

Our perceptions color our reality. For instance, it is clear that you can have two people watch the same movie and have completely different interpretations of what they saw.

Likewise our next four years can be colored by what we choose to focus on.

If we walk around in a exhilarated self-righteous daze, we will probably get disappointed at every “set-back” and every obstacle in the President’s future way.

If we see our world through fearful, hurt and disappointed lenses, we might find “scary” and “alarming” signs around every corner – and take them to mean things they don’t.

If we are indifferent we might find a place of resignation with our own ability to make a difference and our country’s leadership in general.

Maybe if we step out of our groups for a moment and look at our lives, it is good to remember that things to a large degree depend on our interpretation of them.

We can choose to step out of our assumptions and beliefs at any point in our lives. Instead of seeing ourselves and our world through the lenses of Republican defeated, Democrat victorious, or Independent indifferent – who are we really?

We all want to enjoy life, love and be happy. We want the children of the future to have opportunities for the same. It is blood that runs through our veins whether we are Democrats, Republicans, Christian, Muslim, American, Asian, African, Buddhist or Portuguese.

I wonder how our interpretations of the post-election season change if each of us step out of the tendency to segregate and divide – and instead step into a place of appreciation for our own individual blessings and our collective possibilities as a nation, and as citizens of the world too.

What can each of us do for peace and prosperity in our own lives, in the lives of our friends and neighbors, for our country – and indeed for the world in general?

If we take off the blinders of interpretation, we might actually be able to see choices and opportunities that we didn’t even know we had. If we step out of the jubilant fog, the defeated haze or the indifferent murkiness, we might actually find that each of us can make a real difference.

This difference might be just sending our neighbor a friendly smile even though he or she had that sign in the lawn that really irritated you for months.  Or it might be simply going to work comfortable in your own clothes appreciative of each moment, each blessing and finding yourself impervious to the despondence, jubilation or indifference all around. Just appreciative of what is. And the possibilities that we all have to make a difference.

It starts right here and now. With you and me.

Are YOU in a Jackpot Relationship?

Yes, of course it is nice to win the jackpot. Yet, a Jackpot Relationship might be both draining and abusive!

People in such a relationship might hope that the relationship will magically change for the better even as the same patterns are repeated over and over. It is very much like the gambler who keeps putting money in the slot machine. Every time he or she is ready to quit – there is a small pay out that is just enough that the gambler keeps investing time, energy and cash.

We all have various degrees of rose-colored glasses attached to our faces when we fall in love. We see the person as we would like him or her to be. We see what we interpret as the potential (or as a former disillusioned client of mine called it: “the P-word”) in our new partner, and we see them as we think they are – or as we hope they could be. In addition we project our own expectations on them.

We then continue in the next phase of the relationship. We realize that our beloved is seeing things in us that are not really who we are. However, we play along. We know that by continuing the masquerade, we continue the feel-good hormones that flood our bloodstream when our new love looks at us admiringly.

Later, we take off the rose-colored glasses and stop playing along. The “Honeymoon is over” phase of the relationship. Here the naked truth is revealed. You no longer play along, flaws become mutually obvious.

 

Some relationships have what it takes to navigate the waters and transform into lasting and mutually beneficial unions. The partners learn to accept each other for who they are, give each other space to grow and mature. When they help each other it is not through self-sacrifice – but instead with a genuine and sincere desire to allow the other person the space to grow, develop and mature as they in turn take responsibility for their own growth, development and maturity. Supported not smothered. With mutual respect and love.

This is not a jackpot relationship. It is however a great recipe for a successful and lasting relationship.

So what is a Jackpot Relationship?

It is the kind where the masquerade from the initial rose-colored glasses phase keep going intermittently. Psychologists call it “Intermittent Reinforcement”. It is a type of relationship where one person has hurts, disappointments, loss or abandonment issues that have not been properly addressed and incorporated. As a result this person constantly plays out the hurts from the past in the changing cast of characters in his or her current life. Even though the original cast, where the real problems happened, are long gone. It is an instant replay of old hurts that recycles again and again.

As this kind of relationship develops the person, who finds him or herself being included in this kind of psycho drama, gets to the point where he or she realizes that they have had enough. They have invested their time, energy and love into this person and received anger bursts, cold shoulders, indifference and possibly worse back with increasing frequency. They want out. They are constantly paying the emotional bills of those who are seen by their partner as having caused their disappointments and hurts.

Now the person with Intermittent Reinforcement behavior has a sixth sense that their partner is about to pull back. And they then do a complete switch. They beg forgiveness, they cry, they plead, they serve food, sex, money, gifts or other commodities of the relationship. They promise they will change. Just like the slot machine pays out a small reward, when the gambler is about to quit. They bring back the hope that the rose-colored glasses can stay on forever!

And there might be a few good days following. The feel-good chemicals of the relationship are back in high doses. Both believe that from now on everything will be fine.

And then gradually or suddenly the old behaviors of the unresolved issues rear their ugly heads again – and the psychodrama starts its cycle anew.

Just like the gambler keeps hoping for a jackpot, so do the people caught in the cycles of Intermittent Reinforcement. The pay out of happy relationship feel-good hormones is just enough that they, like the gambler, keep pulling the lever again and again investing money, time, energy and love in the hope that one day the relationship jackpot will happen; there will be no more old psycho dramas to recycle, the issues will finally have resolved themselves. The promises of change and the words of admissions will finally work – and all will be well. And  without inner work, and awareness of the issues, this is just as likely as the big million dollar jackpot at the 5 cent machines in Las Vegas!

If you recognize this kind of behavioral pattern in your relationship, seeking help with a therapist or coach can help to end the seeming endless cycle. There are many ways of changing the behavior and depending on the type of issues at the root of the recurring dramas, ways of gaining awareness and taking control.

Winning the jackpot is a nice idea. However, the real winning relationship comes when we stop the charades and stop hoping it will “just happen”. For us to be in successful and lasting relationships we need to be able to step into our power and allow our partner to do the same. And there might be a few casts of previous characters to deal with before we can successfully do so. The main thing is to know that it is possible – and there is help to be had!

An Over-Looked Key To Success?

Maybe you watched the other night as Nik Wallenda braved the wire stretched across Niagara Falls?

Obviously, it was amazing to watch a man live his dreams, to plan, to focus, to build a team, to risk it all, and succeed!

All of the planning steps he took before he even put a foot on the wire obviously contributed to his victorious walk across the divide.

I think there was yet another aspect to his success:

Nik’s absolute calm before, during and after this momentous and high pressure gig was awe-inspiring.  As I listened in to the dialogue between Nik and his coach dad there was an aspect of Nik that stood out to me: His amazing gratitude and appreciation for the moment!

As he walked, he was pushed and pulled by unforeseeable wind gusts, drenched in mist, having to walk a swinging metal rope over the deafening water masses that were gushing below him. Through it all he simply kept affirming his gratitude, and his thankfulness for the moment!

Neuroscientists has discovered that we actually directly affect the plasticity of our brains with our thoughts. Their research shows that we can re-wire our brains to change our emotional style (Richard Davidson, Ph) and change our propensity for having negative expectations and (Rick Hanson PhD) how this affects our experience. This research is showing real changes in the brain – when people repeat various desired practices over and over. Giving a whole new meaning to “mind over matter”.

Robert Emmons PhD has found through his research that people who write a brief gratitude journal daily (or even incorporate grateful thoughts into their morning and evening routines) generally had better success toward reaching important personal goals both academic, interpersonal and health-based!

There were plenty of other benefits to this simple exercise in practicing gratefulness. I believe we saw one such benefit crossing over Niagara Falls in perfect composure the other night!

To start your own gratefulness practice you can simply make it a habit to start your day with a positive affirmation or prayer. A thankful appreciation for your life. Many of us treat prayer as a wish list. And by doing so we are really adding a sense of “lack of” and a sense of “if only” to our attitude. So gratitude can simply be to state what you are thankful for in your life (your health, your children, your dog, roof over your head, nice weather, etc.) By little by little changing your awareness to include what works in your life, you also start re-wiring your brain to actually experience, appreciate and indirectly attract more of what you want!

At night likewise before you go to bed, just list in your journal or simply in your mind three blessings from your day. On really bad days, it can simply be – the coffee was perfect this morning…. I dare you – there will always be something positive in your day – and by finding it and focusing on it, you will become more appreciative, happy and relaxed. You will be able to experience your own success – and also attract more of it!

When Nik successfully had completed his walk, he was asked by the border agents in Canada what was the purpose of his trip. He answered that he was seeking to “inspire people.”

He certainly inspired me –  and what a great example of living your dream with a thankful attitude – one step at a time!

Do You Do This?

I almost fell down and busted my rear as I was reaching over the fence into the neighbor’s yard.

My son heard me yell and came and took this snap shot of me… By then I had composed myself!

I was balancing on my step stool while attempting to cut the grape vines that grow like crazy. I was reaching (well it turns out over-reaching) to get to the vines growing on the other side of the fence. It was my intention that this cutting action would enable the vines on MY side of the fence to yield more – and also to reduce the growth of “my vine” into my neighbor’s much neater yard.

And as I was stretching and reaching wearing my slippers (I know… not smart) on the top step of the stool…. well…  let’s just say it was close to disaster.

And it dawned on me that this is what we do so often. We “reach” to control our kids, who are seemingly growing out of control in areas we are uncomfortable with, we “reach” to control our spouse, who is not acting appropriately (for our taste anyway), or we “reach” to control our co-workers or employees so they can stay within the perimeter of what we find is the “best” way.

And this is all fine and good. A certain amount of trimming is needed for the vines to yield. Focus is needed for us to be able to carry out the things we want to do. Helping others to achieve their goals is a fine intention.

Yet at a certain point, we have to let go. When we over-reach and try to control that which really is out of our control – that which is beyond our reach – we run the risk of figuratively speaking falling down and busting our buns!

The Serenity Prayer comes to mind:

“God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.”

As I write this – I send a thankful thought to the Universe for the lesson.

What is Life Coaching?

Often we have no clue what we really want!
We just sense that our wheels are spinning, and we also are aware that we are not really “getting anywhere.” We seem to use a good deal of effort, yet we get pennies on the dollar with regards to return on our “energy investment.”We might feel exhausted and a large part of our energy appears to be wasted. We do not get the results we want. We find ourselves easily frustrated, angered or saddened. We might feel out of control, depressed or anxious!
Life is not a spectator sport, yet we might feel that we are sitting in the bleachers watching other people play the game, while we are wasting all our time and energy simply cheering or jeering. “Life is hard,” we say and shrug our shoulders!

                                  Yet, it doesn’t have to be that way!

Coaching can help you to connect those spinning wheels to the track!
And what happens? Well, you start moving in the direction of your choosing! You are no longer merely watching the game being played, you are playing it! You discover that just like an athlete you can train your success muscles and experience them grow and become increasingly adept at handling every activity you choose to participate in! You realize that winning or losing is not what truly matters – all that matters is that you play! And that you learn to focus your energy to work for exactly what you want, rather than wasting it on what you really do not want. Now you also discover that you can be infinitely more efficient and loving towards other people in your life.
It is not just you that benefits! It is everybody around you!
Larger than Life Coaching takes people from merely “ok” to optimal! We help our clients to connect to their passion in new ways. Clients discover their innate power. Not power over others, but power to be who they truly are! This is where those spinning wheels get traction! And it gets exciting to see what happens! As a train or a stage coach moves from station to station, you build on success after success.
You discover that not only do you have all it takes for you to live the life you want, everything you have ever experienced has given you exactly the tools you need to achieve it!

Visit my Website to read more and feel free to e-mail me with any questions you have.