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Harvesting Your Strengths in Relationships

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Where there is the greatest love, there are always miracles. ~ Willa Cather~

When was the last time you celebrated what was working well in your relationships? When was the last time you noted what you were contributing? Rather than feeling inadequate when a connection steers off course, why not help set it straight again by plugging into your relationship superpowers? Do you know what yours are? Noting that is definitely worth a moment of reflection. Don’t fall into the trap of focusing on what isn’t working, or on the problems you are having with someone. Instead, concentrate on what you might do differently in that moment. As I love to remind my coaching clients, it is by recognizing and using our strengths that we experience true joy in relationships. If we harness our strengths, we can also more easily make positive changes when needed. Problems get more quickly resolved. The result – feelings of empowerment in the art of intimacy and connection!

Let today be the day you really appreciate the strengths you bring to all the important relationships in your life. I can pretty much guarantee that if you reflect on and embrace the gifts you offer in your connection with others, you will feel the bonds you have deepen. Not only that, but you will feel the appreciation you have for yourself grow significantly. How delicious is that? And perhaps most importantly, as you recognize and value your interpersonal strengths, you will get even better at utilizing them. Get ready for greater satisfaction in your relationship world.

There are a number of areas where relationship strengths empower us and deserve to be further harvested. Consider, for instance, your ability to communicate with those in your inner circle. Perhaps you are a pro at being able to speak openly and without judgement. This straightforward, direct style helps your dear ones know where you stand, and where they stand with you. Pretty significant, yes? Or maybe you have the talent of addressing tough issues in non-blaming, or matter-of-fact ways. What a gift this strength is! Issues can be more easily discussed without the likelihood of your pal shifting into a defensive posture. To be able to communicate respectfully, even in times of trial or stress, can bring a healing quality to many a hard moment. Tension can be greatly reduced by the strength of a gentle, considerate, clear communication style.

Another area relationship strengths deserve to be celebrated relate to commitment values. Maybe you are a person who is highly dependable, and consistent in showing up. These traits foster trust and deepen attachment. Or what about honesty, loyalty, or optimism? These qualities represent powerful strengths that can fuel relationships. If you are a person who brings commitment strengths to relationships, you are helping to foster a spirit of well-being, joy and hope for others you are close with. With your commitment energy, you demonstrate that the relationship you are participating in is truly important and sacred to you. Imagine what can grow from this. Imagine the love you’ll harvest!

Lastly, let’s consider the strength of being available for another. Sharing quality time is key to developing lasting bonds. Carving out time to be together with those we care about, and to be truly present during this time, is to give the gift of attention. The other person feels seen and acknowledged by your capacity to be strong in presence, especially if you come to them with care and kindness of heart. Spending meaningful time with someone you love also contributes to their sense of feeling known. Sharing experiences together also creates feelings of pleasure, satisfaction and fulfillment -not to mention lots of fun memories that can later be harvested and savored!

Having read to this point, I challenge you now to celebrate the specific strengths you offer those in your world. Recognize as well all the character strengths those in your inner circle shower upon you. What we give attention to is always what grows stronger. Attend not to the problems in your relationships, but rather to the positive qualities you can offer, especially in tough moments. Always be ready to bring more of those strengths forward. Watch for the magic that will happen next! Get ready to harvest treasures.

This article is also published in The Brick Magazine.

Instead of Heading Deeper Down the Doubt Path…

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Cooler September breezes are upon us, reminding us we are heading toward a transition. The close of summer and the beginning of fall is just one of a myriad of transitions we experience in a lifetime. Transitions are a common theme in my life coaching practice, as many clients seek support when faced with a transition point in their life. There are multiple reasons why a person might seek help when transitioning from one aspect or area of their life to another, but I believe it is the experience of uncertainty that these times call forth, that especially drives clients my way.

What is it about the feeling of uncertainty that haunts us and can feel so daunting? One element is that we, as human beings, love familiarity. Being familiar with something is comforting, cozy, and confidence affirming. We know what’s what and that is so satisfying! We love and seek certainty for just this reason.

To step from the familiar into a new landscape can be terrifying! Life transitions force us to sit with uncertainty, and all the feelings of insecurity or anxiety such can bring. One can’t know ahead of time, or exactly predict, how a change will pan out. Whether you are moving from one job to another, or ending a relationship or navigating a new degree-to-career path, you won’t (at least at first) know exactly how the new opportunity will feel or how it will unfold. The question you will be faced with is whether the effects of the change are desirable or not.

And something funny, but common, often happens next. When you can’t predict an outcome, or have limited knowledge as to the way a situation will go, you begin to doubt yourself. Uncertainty fuels self-doubt. So true, yes? Clients come to me for support during life transitions because as they sit with uncertainty, they doubt themselves and their ability to create the transformation they want. Things feel very much out of their control.

So, here is where I introduce a magic bullet: I remind my coaching clients that they still have all their strengths, inner resources, skills and abilities under their control at a time of change. They can easily bring these to the table to help them successfully navigate whatever uncertainties come with the life transition they are in the midst of. What a gift it is to know that you can face uncertainty not by going deeper down the doubt path, but rather by harnessing your strengths, emotional savvy and inner resources. So banish all doubts! Try instead to embrace the idea of what you do have control over, namely your deep inner wisdom, the next time you head into a life transition. Watch your anxiety go down, and your excitement increase, for whatever is to come!

This article was also published in

Let That Old Story Go

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Time to rewrite the script, I remind coaching clients who come feeling stuck, frustrated and unable to move their lives forward. Often we have clear goals, aspirations, plans and grand intentions. We strive toward these dreams while, at the same time, subconsciously believing we are “not good enough,” “unworthy,” “invisible,” “going to be rejected,” or any number of negative tales we spin about ourselves. We are likely to sabotage our endeavors unless we change such negative subconscious chatter. Until the subconscious becomes conscious and is altered, we are preprogrammed to continue collecting evidence to support our false stories or limiting beliefs. The result: we hit a wall, feel helpless, and act in dysfunctional ways, often confused about why our ship always seems to be sinking.

I love to reassure my coaching clients that worlds of possibility and life-inspiring changes await, if one can first identify, and then take a firm stand against, the negative thoughts which perpetuate these crazy little stories, stories we’ve often lugged around since childhood. So what is your three or four word story? It will be a simple story because that is how we made sense of whatever happened to us in childhood, at a time when we aren’t capable of making abstract meaning out of traumas. Instead, we concluded something was wrong with us, and believe it as fact.

To identify your old story, think about a time when you’ve felt really disappointed. It is especially at times of disappointment that we are inclined to slip into a negative story. You may even feel younger in that moment, perhaps the age you were when you got confused about your worth. For example, you might think: “See, I wasn’t chosen for the position because I’m just not ___________.” We fill in the blank, literally, and figuratively. Your blank could be “good enough,” or “valuable,” or something else. And the act of talking to yourself in this fashion is guaranteed to keep you stuck, limiting what you can create and attract into your life.

Once you are aware of what dark path you tend to go down to explain reality, you then have the option, because your thoughts are now conscious, of taking a firm, dare I say, ferocious, stand against your negative programming. Time to reset! Some of the most powerful, moving moments in my coaching practice occur when I’m able to help clients let go of false beliefs they’ve been carrying, helping them live, instead, from the truth of who they are. For when live from our truth, we become magnetic! We step into, and radiate, our essence. We stand taller, talk more confidently, trust ourselves more deeply, and feel more alive and fully expressed.

So, how does one transform deeply entrenched negative beliefs that have come to feel like core truths? You must go back to honoring yourself. Be committed to being mindful of your thoughts, clearing away the limiting ones and embracing your authentic self. For thoughts are just energy, and you can always change your energy!

Our reality and our perceptions are created by what we attend to. Attention can either reinforce what we want, or what we don’t want. Reset your negative story, focusing instead on what is true about yourself. For instance, begin by embracing the fact that at your core, your very essence is enough. You were born perfect and pure, simply by existing. Your authentic self is rich in potential, skills, beauty, power and love! If you can accept this reality, recognizing your strengths and appreciating yourself from a caring place, you will no longer behave in ways that continue collecting evidence for negative self-beliefs. As you integrate positive truths about yourself, how you act and show up in life changes dramatically for the better. You begin having different results. You become magnetic, and your goals, plans and dreams will flow fully into glorious manifestations. So, go ahead and let go of that old story!

In the process of letting go, you will lose many things from the past, but you will find yourself. ~Deepak Chopra< This article was also published in The Brick Magazine.

Release Regrets. It’s a New Day!

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Regrets, – oh, how they can haunt us. They can torture us too, draining our energy and spirits, especially if excessively dwelled upon. Regrets are no fun to tangle with, yet so often they end up tying us in knots.

Pestering and festering regrets come in several varieties. A regret can surface as you ponder an action taken, or ponder an action not taken. If you take an action that results in a nasty outcome, you can end up blaming yourself, or feel a sense of deep sadness reflecting on what might have been. Sometimes we wish we could undo a choice made, and have a makeover or redo.

On the other hand, sometimes regrets come in the form of the road not taken, or the road ignored, and we are left to ponder the “what ifs.” Sorrow and despair can easily follow. Bottom line, though, is that regrets of any type, if obsessed or ruminated over, can cause acute stress. Our peace of mind suffers and the emotional pain we feel takes its to toll on our bodies, spirits,` and overall health.

So what are alternative, more beneficial ways to navigate feelings of regret? First and foremost, truth be told, there are always valuable lessons to be learned from negative consequences, failures or blunders. These lessons become golden opportunities especially if you can minimize, or better yet, eliminate harsh self-judgement. It can be character strengthening to acknowledge shortcomings or weaknesses while at the same time reminding ourselves that everyone makes mistakes.

Yet acknowledging a regret in the way I just described doesn’t mean you keep hanging out there with it. Next, it is absolutely essential to focus forward, not backward. We can control what happens as we move forward, and can’t control that which has already occurred. Therefore, one of my all time favorite remedies for moving beyond the angst of deep regret is to make amends to myself around it. By this I mean accepting responsibility for my blunder or missed opportunity, and then telling myself that “never again” will I do______-fill in the blank! By making amends in this way, I both own my shortcoming, and at the same time, empower myself with a big promise to correct it in the future. This approach is not only creates an opening to move forward, but also is quite correctively forgiving. We are using our insights to avoid subsequent mistakes. By doing so, we improve our ability to reach desired results and opportunities in the future!

When we adaptively use our learnings rather than linger on the problem or excessively blaming ourselves, we create powerful strategies for change and better living. If you have fully committed to handling similar circumstances differently, you can much more quickly rebound from the feelings of distress over your error. Your energy shifts from a self-attack to freed up energy for the present, for a fresh start, for the new day!

This is also published in The Brick Magazine

Ralph Waldo Emerson ~

Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; fight them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.

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