Courage2Conquer

"Most obstacles melt away when we make up our minds to walk boldly through them." ~ Orison Swett Marden

Archive for July, 2012

Finding Our Way Home

dramatic dream

dramatic dream (Photo credit: unNickrMe)

An amazing article I’ve just read recently really hit home with me. It reminded me of  past, present and future challenges in my life, and perhaps this article will resonate with you as well 🙂 

Finding Our Way Home – Lilly Calandrello

It seems clear that some people are born into life with their purposes clear: a Michelangelo, a Mother Theresa, a Dr . Edward Bach. These are the people whose burning torches cast a light which brightens all of humanity.

Most of us, however , feel that we’ve arrived with a pack of wet matches. We want our lives to have purpose and power; we want to travel our paths with joy and confidence, but we can’t seem to find a direction. We may use up physical, emotional, and psychic energy following paths of duty which our hearts cannot embrace. We may stand at a crossroads, so desperately afraid of making a mistake that we go nowhere. We may scatter our energy by trying to travel several paths at once.

The beginning of a new year is a traditional time for making new resolutions about one’s life. But today will do too! One of the most important resolutions we can make is to begin a journey of self-discovery. In order to do this we need to understand how we got detoured in the first place.

From Soul to You

The soul is that aspect of our being which has never forgotten its purpose. It attempts to give travel directions to the personality, that aspect of ourselves which functions in physical reality–but the personality doesn’t always receive the message. We may have learned not to believe in the soul, and also learned either to tune out its messages or to interpret them as a sign of lunacy.

Thus, the first and most important step on a journey of self-discovery is to believe that there is a self to be discovered, that the map of possibilities we need is within ourselves, and accessible. It isn’t enough to plant this belief; it must be nurtured as well, because in the beginning we need to trust in our souls without having any actual evidence of their existence. Faith, however , goes hand in hand with good works, and there is much we can do to help restore the interrupted lines of communication.

Paths and Patterns

Often when we play detective and investigate our own lives we find valuable clues. When you were a child what activities made you happiest? With whom did you have your most rewarding relationships? (These questions may also be asked about your present life. )

By looking for patterns you can discover both the shape of possibilities in your life and the ways in which you’ve blocked them. For example , someone might discover that all her life people had told her that she would make a wonderful therapist, and that she, from lack of self-esteem, had never believed them. She might remember opportunities for doing counseling which she had refused. Someone else might remember a place he had always longed to visit, and how its name always seemed to come up–in conversation or in the books he reads.

In your search you will find your dreams valuable. Dreams are an important vehicle through which the soul communicates with the personality. In the dream state we’re free to experiment with various possibilities for our lives, finally choosing the ones most suitable for physical manifestation. Our dream images express our deepest feelings and wishes as well as the beliefs which may prevent their expression.

Pay close attention to your dreams, recording them, and re-reading them to discover messages and patterns. Receptivity to your dreams will enhance your ability to be receptive during your waking hours.

Be alert as well for the clues which may come up in day-to-day life. You may be intrigued by someone’s description of a Polynesian dance class; you may have a sudden urge to learn to play the oboe. Playing the oboe or dancing the hula may not be your life’s purpose, but following the impulse which pulls you most strongly can only lead you in the appropriate direction.

Getting Specific

You can also clarify your possibilities by asking these questions:

If I didn’t have to work for a living what would I love to do?
If I were given $1 million, tax-free, what would be the first thing I’d do with it?

In doing this exercise be careful not to censor yourself. Don’t worry if an idea which comes into your mind just seems to ridiculous or too impossible. These are the reactions which helped us to get off-course in the first place. What you write down isn’t your final life plan, but–as in the case of your impulses–various attractive possibilities.

Next, look at each possibility you’ve written down and ask yourself what value you will get from it. Do you want that boat because you love sailing and the sea? If so, what feeling does that give you? Do you want to sail around the world because you’d like to learn about other cultures? Why does that interest you?

Keep adding to the list. As you study it, in combination with the information you’ve received from dreams, etc ., you will find that you’re clarifying both the nature of your gifts and interests, and the commitment you feel to contribute to others.

Another way to get to the latter is to ask yourself a third question, “How would I like to be remembered when I’m gone? Do I want people to say I was brilliant, considerate, generous? ”

How you would like to be remembered is really how you would like to be right now. Translate this feeling of commitment into a statement of purpose. Remember that no one is grading it; there’s no deadline, and you can rewrite and refine it as many times as you want to. You’ll know when it’s right for you; you’ll have a feeling of resonance and attunement.

The next step is to align your life so that it’s an appropriate vehicle for your purpose. When Michelangelo was asked how he sculpted his works of art he said that he simply cut away everything which wasn’t the statue. This is good advice, but let’s go easy on the drastic, sweeping changes. Call on Turtle medicine and remember that slow and steady wins the race. The more surely you integrate your purpose into your being the easier change will be.

Remember too, that as you begin to nurture your purpose you will find it growing. You’ll discover that it’s not the end, but the beginning, not a traveling away from yourself, but your journey home…

Does Social Anxiety Keep You From Fully Enjoying Life?

 I came across an article today that was quite interesting! Social anxiety is so common among all of us. More than we think! I am an introvert and have been most of my life. When I got up in front of the class to do an oral report in high school, or even back in elementary school when it was for show and tell..It was agonizing for me! Later on in life when I had to do my first business presentation, I didn’t think I could do it. I went to  social events, networking events..all horrific for me! However, I came across a Toastmasters club and they were my saving grace! Toastmasters for those who are not familiar with it, is a place where you learn to think and speak on your feet. What a wonder it was to be in a room of people talking in front of them, some of them seasoned toastmasters, but most just like me. Getting back to the article I found today, there are many helpful suggestions in it that I want to share in regards to overcoming social anxiety. The whole article is rather large, so i’ll just break it down to the 5 main practices the author mentions. Here it is 🙂 :

Does Social Anxiety Keep You From Fully Enjoying Life?

By Mark Tyrrell

1) Practice being relaxed

Not many people think of worrying as self-programming, but it is. When you worry intensely about upcoming social situations, you are repeatedly linking anxiety to the events. Then when you actually go into the social situation itself, you feel anxious – you’ve programmed yourself to feel this way.

You can start to change this response by taking time to think about the future gathering whilst relaxed – maybe when sitting in a comfortable chair or relaxing in a warm bath. Imagine seeing yourself at the social event, looking relaxed and confident. Do this repeatedly and your body and mind will forge a new and better automatic association to these times.

2) Seek out social situations

Imagine living in a house for thirty years, but always avoiding one room. When you finally ventured into the mysterious room, you might feel a little tense and anxious. Why?

The more we avoid something, the more we send the message to the unconscious mind: “I am avoiding this because it is dangerous.” Your mind, trying to be helpful, builds up the fear of what it is you’re avoiding even more. In nature, we avoid a clump of trees because it might have lions in it or we avoid cliff edges because falling off means death.

We avoid what frightens us and, in return, are frightened by what we avoid. So start actively putting yourself in social situations. In fact, even imagining doing this, as well as doing it for real will help show your unconscious mind: “This is normal.” (See Tip 1)

3) Focus your attention outward

Studies have found that people who rate themselves as shy in social settings have much worse recall for external environmental details because they’ve been looking inward (focusing on their feelings), not outward. So it makes sense to focus outward to lower anxiety. When in social settings, make a mental note of three aspects of the situation you’re in.

For example:

  • The colour of the furniture.
  • Any pictures on the walls and their subjects.
  • What clothes other people are wearing (I must confess I never recall that).

This might seem strange, but it will get you accustomed to focusing away from yourself – which is, after all, the purpose of social situations.

Another way to cultivate outward focus is to ask questions. Social anxiety has us worrying what other people think of us, so focus on other people instead. Be curious. Ask people open-ended questions that require more than just a “yes” or “no” answer. Make a point of remembering what they say and referring back to it later to demonstrate your interest. Again, this forces your focus of attention to shift outward. It’s also nice for other people, meaning you might accidentally make more friends as a ’by-product‘ of this strategy.

Now, overcoming social anxiety is as much about stopping doing certain things as it is about doing new things, so…

4) Use care in how you use your imaginative mind

Your imagination is a wonderful thing. Used constructively, it can be a massive help (see Tip 1 above). But social anxiety often has you using it to scare yourself. This is like using a hammer (a potentially useful tool) to wash the dishes.

Years of public speaking taught me that trying to imagine what people are thinking of you is a big no-no. If you catch yourself ‘mind-reading’, tell yourself the truth: “Look, I really don’t – and can’t – know what these other people are thinking right now!” Ultimately, we can influence what others think of us, but we can never control it. And as you become more socially confident, you’ll care less anyway.

To change any behaviour, your mind needs positive instructions. Don’t think: “I hope I don’t feel terrified as usual!” – this is like someone asking you directions by telling you where they don’t want to end up. Instead, ask yourself: “How do I want to feel in these situations?” And get into the habit of focusing on that.

Find your ‘target feeling’ by looking to times when you are comfortable with others (say, old friends or trusted family members). Then you can use these situations as templates for preparing your mind to perform the way you want in social situations.

To do this, close your eyes and get yourself nice and relaxed. Take time to remember how it feels to be with these familiar people until you get a strong feeling of comfort. Imagine seeing yourself in a formerly less comfortable social situation, but behaving like you do with your trusted friends. This sort of mental rehearsal is extremely powerful and can make a massive difference over time.

5) On being yourself

Part of social anxiety treatment involves teaching people to be relaxed enough to be able to present a less-than-perfect image. That’s right; people who are relaxed about sometimes making a ’bit of a fool of themselves‘ tend to be much more socially confident. There’s no need for you to become a party buffoon, but being prepared to show a less-than-perfect side of yourself is a sign of great confidence. For example, being humorous is a (slight) risk because it might just produce a stony silence (it’s happened to me – no, really!).

The point is that social anxiety gets us caring too much about what others think. Trying to present a perfect front makes us stilted by driving out spontaneity.

Typical self-conscious thoughts are:

  • “I hope no one notices I’m tense.”
  • “What if people think I’m stupid?!”
  • “Who would want to hear anything I have to say?”
  • “I think I’m coming across as a weirdo!”

These all imply that occasional tenseness, weirdness, and inappropriate speech are somehow out of the norm for human interaction. Believe me, they’re not (even, I’m sure, inside Buckingham Palace!).

Worrying about ever ’putting a foot wrong‘ is a form of perfectionism. Being a perfectionist is fine when doing surgery, but not for meeting the in-laws or going to that neighbour’s party. Even socially confident people occasionally act a little weird or get the wrong end of a conversation or feel flustered. The difference is, they relax with these things when they do happen.

English: An anxious person

English: An anxious person (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Poems for thought…

Everywhere we look we see inspiring quotes, sayings and such. Television, the internet, greeting cards, they are everywhere! Why do many of us seem so drawn to them? We turn to them for comfort perhaps when we need cheering up, or if we just need that extra push in helping us achieve our goals. Song lyrics are a perfect example. The lyrics of a song read just like a poem. I came across a poem today that I wanted to share, maybe it will be inspiring to you 🙂

Don’t Quit

By: Unknown Author

When things go wrong as they sometimes will,

When the road you are trudging seems all uphill,

When the funds are low, and the debts are high,

And you want to smile, but you have to sigh.

When care is pressing you down a bit,

Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,

As everyone of us sometimes learns.

And many a failure turns about,

When he might of won had he stuck it out.

Don’t give up, though the pace seems slow ,

You may succeed with another blow.

Success is failure turned inside out ,

The silver tints of the clouds of doubt.

And you never can tell how close you are,

It may be near when it seems so far.

So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit,

It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.