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Bridge of Life Coaching & Counseling

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How Embracing Uncertainty Can Empower You.

Like many generations and moments in history, the current times are chock full of uncertainty. Pick up any newspaper with its plethora of articles that can put you in an anxious tailspin. Shifting Teutonic plates in world politics point to the unstable, ever changing world we live in having even less certainties. Human beings are wired for control and predictability. Most of us are uncomfortable with uncertainty. How then do we deal with doubt and the unknown?
Thumb through your personal history of lessons learned and achievements accomplished. Those rites of passage that you completed, leaving home for either college or a job or getting out of an unhealthy relationship. Each of these experiences were shrouded in uncertainty. Much of life can be riddled with thoughts of the unknown. Learning to widen your world and staying centered helps you to be more comfortable with uncertainty.
Taking risks, getting uncomfortable helps you grow. If you never dared to cross into unchartered territory, you would remain sheltered and ultimately your endless potential would be unfulfilled. One way to view uncertainty through a different lens is to sharpen your inner strengths with the knife-edge of change. Seeding your personal or professional potential means stepping into the unknown. Every known was an unknown at some point in life. Julien Smith, CEO and author wrote: “You will never be entirely comfortable. This is the truth behind the champion – he/she is always fighting something. To do otherwise is to settle.” My reiteration of this quote is that by embracing uncertainty you mentally, physically, and spiritually continue to evolve and grow.
When we begin to make positive personal change, just like learning a new instrument, we must practice. Uncertainty puts our steadfastness to the test; it provides a space where you can apply the newfound insight or lesson. For example, if you’re learning to walk through life with less negativity, you’ll relish in the joy of success only after you’ve applied this new habit on an unplanned, unpleasant experience. Once that ability to turn a negative to a positive is implemented time and time again, it becomes easier and is at your disposal during every uncertain turn in life. By growing your inner capabilities, navigating the ever-changing world is less scary. Building on past successes, helps you remember that getting out of your comfort zone keeps you dynamic.
Differentiating between being committed to your inner core values and changing with the times also helps us see uncertainty with steadfast confidence. Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Change is imminent, it happens whether we want it to or not. Recognizing those necessary changes that will improve your inner and outer world will allow you to see the future with a sense of excitement. Flexibility in letting go of outdated ways of thinking that keep you stuck, will cultivate windows of opportunity out of those unknown twists and turns.
Being physically and psychologically prepared for the unknown eases the impact of uncertainty. When your body, mind and spirit are agile, you are able to step back and see the potential that lies in the layers and folds of time. Think back to an experience in your life that made you uncomfortable and initially you feared the worst but in the end turned out to be one of those beautiful blessings in disguise. Use these as lessons to keep you moving towards your fullest potential. Begin to see the veils of the unexpected as magical possibilities waiting to appear.
None of us can predict with absolute certainty the outcome of our endeavors but that doesn’t stop us from pursuing our passions. It doesn’t stop us from having children or taking a chance on love. In other words, most of us have lived side-by-side with uncertainty and have carried on with the business of living. Make friends with the unpredictable, it is part of life’s ebb and flow. It is a powerful source of inspiration for growth and despite our trepidations, empowers us.
As December unfolds, see if you can peer into the eyes of
uncertainty as if through the eyes of a child; imagine the endless current of change as a river carrying you to new destinations in life, you may have never known existed.
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Creating a Gratitude Practice

“Gratitude is the single most important ingredient to living a successful and fulfilled life.” ~ Jack Canfield

Call it what you want - thankfulness, blessings, appreciation or gratitude - it’s about being aware of and acknowledging the good in our lives. By creating a daily practice focusing on what we are grateful for, we create new habits of positive thinking; we actually re-wire our brain. Gratitude puts things in a healthy perspective.

After personally experiencing the life changing effects of gratitude, Oprah Winfrey introduced the idea of gratitude journals to her television audience in the late 1990’s. The practice is simple: every day write down five things that you are grateful for. Gratitude journaling works because it slowly changes the way we view situations by changing what we focus on. From fresh flowers to the kindness of a stranger, to the warmth of our beds or the taste of a crisp apple … once we get accustomed to thinking a new way, it’s easy to think of things. Being aware of different things each day helps to deepen the practice of gratitude.

Robert Emmons, a psychologist at UC Davis is an eminent scientific researcher on gratitude. His studies show that after only three weeks of keeping a gratitude journal, participants exhibit positive responses. The reported benefits include: stronger immune systems, lower blood pressure, reduced aches and pains, better sleep and the desire to take better care of one’s physical health to feeling more optimism, joy and energy to being more compassionate, forgiving and outgoing.

Creating momentum when starting any new habit may be challenging, so here are some ideas to inspire your formal gratitude practice.

• Set an alarm on your phone and carve out ten minutes at the same time every day.
• Buy a special journal and a favorite pen to make journaling fun
• Instead of a journal, use an attractive jar to hold slips of paper with all of the things that you are grateful for.
• Rather than sitting down to write all five things at once, keep your journal or jar with tags handy and simply commit to five things a day, at any time of day.

However you practice gratitude, it is best to do it every day in order to experience life-changing effects. It is rewarding and fun to look back and read the slips of paper in your jar or the entries in your journal. You will witness the unfolding of your own personal changes.
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Social Media -Can We Have too Much of a Good Thing

Social Media can be a great tool with many positive effects. I use it weekly to get my articles out to the world with my blog, on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Medium, Tumbler etc. We stay connected with family and friends and our relationships feel as if they are deepening because it’s so easy to stay connected. Social Media allows us to interact with close friends and family no matter how great the physical distance. For those friends and family that are challenging to be in close proximity with, Social Media allows us the contact without the conflict that may arise if we share physical space. It is most useful in times of distress to gain support from others.

We often feel that we know someone just because we see and read so much about them, forgetting that it is what they want us to know about them. They have shared and posted the parts of themselves that for whatever reason they are comfortable with the world knowing. This is very different than having an intimate conversation or a heart to heart with your friends. It’s very easy to start to compare yourself to the life that they have portrayed. Comparing yourself to others often leads to internal disharmony and on social media platforms you are measuring against a manufactured image, not an actual person.

It can be easy to get addicted to the virtual social world as no one can see you unless you want them too. It is safe, it is fun, it is playing a game and fooling yourself into thinking you are connecting with and making real friends.

Look around the next time you are at a restaurant. I’ve had the experience of being seated next to a table where almost the whole family is looking at their phones. I recall being on a subway, jammed in like a sardine with so little room I couldn’t take my hands out of my pockets. Yet, three people around me managed to pull their phones out and play games on their devices. People are so used to being connected to their devices, they don’t know how to be present. Of course on the subway ride I can fully understand them not wanting to be.

Many studies have shown a link between the amount of time spent on social media and the risk of depression and feelings of social isolation.

As with most things, it’s about finding a healthy balance. Limit time on social media to help you control your time in the “virtual world” and be sure to schedule dates to see people “live” - enjoy true connectedness to foster feelings of self-esteem and to eliminate the possibility of feelings of anxiety, depression and social isolation.
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The Total Self
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In the post, Life Balance, I discussed the most prevalent areas of our lives that need balance and why each is important. The life area called Self is composed of our emotional, intellectual, physical, and spiritual needs and desires. Due to the complex nature of Self, I’d like to explore each component separately.
The emotional aspect of Self determines how we feel about our inner and outer world. What do you need for a full emotional life that serves and supports you? Do you want to be more focused and grounded? Approach life with a more can-do attitude? Radiate more love and joy? React to challenges calmly and confidently? Once you decide the emotions that are important to you, ask yourself what actions to take or habits to adopt in order to bring them into your everyday life.
This is the part of us that needs mental stimulation and growth, and goes well beyond the classroom. It could be learning a new skill or hobby; increasing knowledge about a topic that interests you; challenging your brain with intellectual games or philosophical discussions. Consider what you need to keep your mind alert, interested, and challenged. What do you want to learn, discover, and explore?
The physical aspect deals with what it takes for you to look and feel your best. What does it take to be strong, healthy, and confident? How do you need to physically care for yourself and others? How would you want to be physically cared for by others? This includes nutrition and exercise; sexual needs; physical contact (a hug, pat on the shoulder or arm, etc). Some people crave a great deal of physical connection—giving and/or receiving—and some people not so much. Either end of the spectrum or anywhere in between is perfectly valid…it depends on what feels right to you.
This is the part that yearns to connect to something bigger than us. While connection to a higher power certainly occurs in religion, it is also possible to achieve through meditation, being in nature, and by practicing the arts…however you can come to a place of reflection, contemplation, and inspiration. Some questions to ask are: What fills your spirit and soul? Gives you comfort, guidance, and support? How do you want to grow spiritually?
Everyone is unique in his or her needs and desires. Awareness of what you require and desire will help you achieve those qualities that bring you balance within the life area of Self.
The Total Self was originally published on Bridge of Life
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Showing Compassion in Times of Conflict
A relationship breakup, workplace conflict, a feud with a family member or friend…these experiences can be difficult and may involve tense communications and stress. Most of us can recall a time when we felt that someone was causing us suffering, either intentionally or unintentionally. It can be challenging to see past the situation and the other person’s actions, which can color your view of them. It is easy to blame others for our feelings.
While some of us are content with being swept up in a drama, others would rather apply a higher-self perspective to conflict. For those of us who desire the latter, how can we show compassion to people we perceive as causing us suffering?
Try a perspective shift. Keep in mind that people who are hurting tend to hurt other people. However, it is up to us how we perceive our reality. We create our own hurt by what we say to ourselves about the other person. If we change our thoughts, our feelings will change.
Be aware of what you’re feeling about the situation with this person. When you feel anger, anxiety, fear, or any kind of stress, mentally say, “Stop!” and then visualize a stop sign. This will halt the body and mind from continuing to circulate non-constructive thoughts and feelings. Take a few deep breaths while you ask your body to release any tension. Then ask yourself:
What are the facts about this situation? We usually have a story attached to what the other person is doing or not doing. We guess what they are thinking and what their intentions are. Think of how a lawyer might present the facts of a case in court. Hearsay, inner dialogue, feelings, and predictions aren’t useful there, and neither are they to you. Separating fact from story is helpful in avoiding emotionally charged thinking.
How significant is this problem in the grand scheme of my life? How significant is this in relation to the timeline of the universe?While you may not prefer that someone is talking about you, being antagonistic, giving you the cold shoulder, etc., what are they really doing to you in this moment? Recognize that your thoughts about the other person are what are causing the feelings you don’t like. Shrinking the perceived enormity of your situation can allow you to regain perspective.
Focus in on the present. Usually, nothing “bad” is happening to us in the moment. We are thinking about the past or the future, which is causing us discomfort. Take a deep breath, let it out, and tell yourself, “All is well. Right here, right now.”
Show yourself love. In times of stress, it is even more important to practice self-love. Whether it’s walking in nature, getting a massage, losing yourself in a great book, taking a yoga class…Take time for yourself doing things that are enjoyable and nurturing. Here are some of my videos explaining how to use meditation, breathing techniques, and laughter yoga to de-stress and re-center.
Although you can’t control what someone else does, you can control how you process the experience and interact. I hope these points help you to release unsupportive feelings, as well a see the conflict from a more neutral standpoint. It is much easier to deal with these types of challenges when you are coming from a calm, clear place.
Showing Compassion in Times of Conflict was originally published on Bridge of Life
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Life Balance
Balance is an essential part of life. When elements in nature become unbalanced, they eventually correct themselves. The more out of synch the elements in nature are, the more intense the correction—what we call “natural disasters.”
If a houseplant is completely ignored, or only taken care of sporadically, the plant will not do well and might even die. If you give it too little attention—keep it away from sunlight, deny it water, or fail to plant it in the right soil—you can’t expect it to flourish. This is analogous to not taking care of an area of your life. By the same token, spending too much time and effort in a particular area of life is not healthy either. It’s like over-pruning the plant or providing it with too much water or sun.
As in nature, when we experience imbalance in areas of our lives—working too much, ignoring our finances, not taking time for self-love—there will be subsequent results.
There are 4 main areas of life most of us can identify with as being significant:
Relationships – Our interactions with and connections to family, friends, and community.
Finances – The money we earn, save, invest, and spend.
Career – What we do (for pay or not) that contributes to our profession or career goals.
Self – Our spiritual, emotional, intellectual, and physical needs and desires.
Every life area is important and needs attention to foster balance. When we spend most of our focus in one area—say, putting all our attention on our career—then another area will most likely suffer—for example, relationships or self-care.
Take a few minutes to determine what percentage of time and energy you spend in each of these areas. Are any of them lacking? Is there a way you can bring those areas into greater balance? What is one step you could take to do so? Perhaps it’s consolidating one or two workdays each week in order to spend that time with family. Or maybe it’s scheduling a monthly massage or earmarking 10 minutes each morning to journal. If your finances need attention, maybe consulting a financial advisor or a friend who excels in budgeting is in order. Commit to taking at least one action step in any life area that is out of balance, no matter how small it seems.
The amount of attention each life area needs may be different. Determine the amount of focus and energy that feels right for you. It may initially take a bit of focus, discipline, and effort to keep our life in balance, but like anything else we keep practicing, it will soon become second nature.
Life Balance was originally published on Bridge of Life
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Evaluating Your Relationships

We are social beings. We crave connection and relationships. Relationships can bring us much joy, fulfillment, and security. However, there are times when we have to decide whether we want to continue our involvement with a friend or significant other. How do you know when it’s not working for you?

Counsel yourself like a friend.

Ask yourself questions you would bring up in a conversation with a good friend who is unsure whether they should stay in a relationship. For example: Do you find yourself making excuses for the person?
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What you Think=what you Feel=what you Believe=what you Vibrate=the LOA
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Is Age Just A Number? Or A Reason To Keep Us From Our Dreams?
“You’re too young.” “You’re too old.”

Age is used as a limiting factor our whole lives. While meditating, a thought came to me that I was 10 years younger than I am. Suddenly I felt great! I once again felt young, as if my life was still ahead of me rather than mostly behind me, which is how I was feeling at the time. I realized if I take away my age number and put another one in its place, like trying on a new coat, I will feel totally different!

Do you let your age stop you from going for what you want? Have you given up on goals or dreams because you think it’s too late? Imagine, like I did in my meditation, that you are 10 years younger. Does that change your view on whether that dream you put out to pasture could become a reality?

We, as a society, place enormous significance on what number our age is. Women feel this pressure especially, but it has become an issue for men as well. On the other hand, society’s view on age keeps changing, usually because someone—who didn’t let their age stop them—did something spectacular. In May 2015, 92-year-old Harriette Thompson kept to a tradition she started when she was 76 years old…running a marathon!

On a personal note, my grandfather at age 87 fulfilled a life long dream of being his own boss. He started and successfully ran a small business, using his skills as a designer in the garment industry.

While there are real limits that come with age, there are many, many more perceived limits we tell ourselves because of how “old” we are and what we believe that means. Age does not necessarily determine what is possible for us. Honor the strength of your mind and its powerful ability to affect the way we feel and perform. Instead of letting society dictate how we feel about our age, let’s just feel good about it!

“I have a dream to climb Everest at this age. If you have a dream, never give up. Dreams come true.”

~ Yuichiro Miura, oldest man to climb Mt Everest, at 80 years old
Encourage your youthfulness of spirit, dream on, and enjoy the possibilities!
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