Do You Want More Of What You’re Feeling?

Do You Want More Of What You’re Feeling?

10:01 AM.

The iPhone vibrates.

It’s a message.

From me.

To me.

“Do you want more of what you’re feeling?”

I schedule this to happen three times per day. And each time the alarm goes off, this question appears on my screen.

“Do you want more of what you’re feeling?”

It’s become an important question I ask of myself.

In order for me to know the honest answer to this question, I must stop for a moment and notice what I am actually feeling.

How am I doing? Happy? Sad? Angry? Indifferent? Stressed? Peaceful? Anxious?

Before I started asking myself this question, for the most part I never really knew how I was doing. The days would sort of run their course, meandering through various emotional and vibrational peaks and valleys, with me obliviously reacting to it all.

Feelings are important barometers because we tend to get more of what we are feeling. Angry Pete would find more things to be angry about, and the Peaceful Pete would effortlessly find more peace. Feelings have their own energetic vibration, and in a world greatly influenced by energetic vibration we get back more of what we are radiating outward.

Prompting me to check in with me shows me the path I am on. Most times I do want more of what I’m feeling. Occasionally, though, this momentary look into myself tells me that no, I don’t want more of what I’m feeling. Without judging myself harshly if I find myself misaligned from how I want to feel. I notice. I investigate. I adjust, if I desire to. It’s usually a quick process, but there are times when I need to go deeper and stay with the unwanted feelings, try and understand why they are there, and lovingly Continue reading “Do You Want More Of What You’re Feeling?”

Embracing The Silence Of An Emotional Winter

Embracing The Silence Of An Emotional Winter

So quiet you can hear it.

Silence.

It’s the start of November which means here in New England winter and it’s own version of silence is but a few weeks away. I don’t have a favorite season, but I’ve come to appreciate the lessons each season has to teach us.

The seasons of life each come with their own lessons as well.

Especially winter.

More specifically, emotional winters. When your own world grows coldly silent, even isolated…when familiar voices and noises go somewhat dormant. Life wants your full attention and temporarily removes the comfortable distractions in order to do so.

I would often resist these emotional winters. I didn’t ask for them, I certainly didn’t like them, and I had no idea why they were happening. Loneliness wasn’t something I was looking for. When I’ve been receptive during these barren times of my life, though, Continue reading “Embracing The Silence Of An Emotional Winter”

100,000 Ways To Love Yourself

100,000 Ways To Love Yourself

I used to be quite good at letting myself down. Promises and commitments made to others were always easier to keep than the promises and commitments I would make to myself. 

I’ve often heard that you can’t love others until you learn how to love yourself. Yet some of the kindest, most compassionate and loving people I know often struggle with treating themselves the way they so instinctively treat others.

Much of this stems from a distorted sense of worth and self-image. For those, we see them so differently from the way they see themselves. It feels like something a great many have quietly struggled with in differing degrees. I know I’ve had my challenges. We know who we really are, we tell ourself, and often we struggle showering the person who we tell ourselves we are with the same kindness and compassion we freely give away to others.

For me, not keeping commitments to myself was one of my ways of not showing myself the love. It was my way of subconsciously me keeping me more like I’ve always been. Setting goals and actually accomplishing them would make me a different person, different from the person I’ve always accepted myself to be. Letting myself down was just my way of self-regulating and keeping me who it was I told myself I was.

Five years ago I presented myself with a challenge. A challenge of commitment. A challenge of commitment to myself. Something simple. Something I would always have time to do. Something I knew I could perform which meant that the only reason why didn’t do it was because I chose not to.

Push ups.

Every day.

Equal in number to my age.

For five years.

100,000 push ups.

I wasn’t good at push ups. I knew I wouldn’t be able to do 50+ push ups all at once. I’d certainly have to break it up into several sessions per day. But this was the challenge I presented myself with. I called myself out. If I couldn’t find the time to do my push ups every day, why would I think I’d be able to keep any other more meaningful and significant commitments in my life? Like, Pete, if you can’t do this, don’t waste any more time thinking that you’ll ever be anything more than you already are. 

And with that, I started. It wasn’t easy at first, but I kept with it. I kept track of my progress on the whiteboard I have at home. The number of consecutive days and the total number of push ups completed. The entire family knew of my commitment and now they could graphically see if I was actually keeping my commitment to myself.

It was a significant test for me to learn about keeping commitments made to myself. A test that would tell me about who I really was. A test that would tell my family about who I really was.

Five years later? 100,000 push ups completed. The only thing that temporarily interrupted my consecutive days streak was a debilitating case of sciatica which rendered me physically useless. I’d accomplished 1,438 consecutive days of push ups before my injury. But I was back at it as soon as I was able to move again, doing extra push ups each day to get me back on track.

Sure, there were days I didn’t feel like doing them. There were days I had gone to bed only to realize I had yet to do my push ups that day. So I got out of bed and hit the floor to do them. Even the day of my knee surgery I made sure I did my push ups before going to the hospital and was able to prop myself up in a manner that allowed me to do them during my recovery. Without missing a day.

Because I promised myself I would.

Commitment and disciple aren’t glamorous. But they are the cornerstone of building anything worth building. Especially when it comes to building a healthier relationship with yourself.

My relationship with me has, in fact, changed. I was quite accomplished at telling myself what I was going to do and never quite actually doing it. Now, there is a much healthier level of self respect. I undertook a five year commitment and completed the task. I kept my word to me, 100,000 times, and with that I learned that I could trust me. With me. Something I had a difficult time doing previously.

It was a significant step in my growing more into who it was I was created to be. Possibilities now feel far more possible.

I still do my daily push ups. It’s simply become a daily habit. It serves as a reminder of the impact taking small consistent steps in your own direction can have in building a new identity about who you believe yourself to be and being worthy of the corresponding self love that comes with it.

That wasn’t my intention.

But that has been the outcome.

What about you? How is your relationship with you? Perhaps there’s one thing you can challenge yourself to do for you to improve your relationship with you?

Some Saviors Will Never Save You

Some Saviors Will Never Save You

So there was Rose, floating on top of a door as Jack remained submerged in the frigid waters of the North Atlantic, hanging on until he could hang on no longer.

Titanic. The movie. Many survivors clinging in the darkness to whatever they could find to keep themselves above the freezing water, to keep themselves alive long enough to be rescued.

Survival Mode. Hanging on and hoping to be saved. 

It’s a great plan for a shipwreck. But it’s not a great way to live a life.

Life does at times unexpectedly throw us into the water and sometimes the only thing we can do is simply hold on and hope. It can be a matter of our survival, either physically or emotionally.

But how often in life do we continuously cling to uncomfortably familiar doors such as toxic situations, needed outcomes, outdated belief systems, and self-destructive habits, while waiting and hoping for someone or something to come and save us?

Sometimes we stay in survival mode for so long we accept it as part of our identity. And when we accept ourselves as survivalists we abandon our own innate capacity to heal as we find ourselves always in search of a new door, a new outcome, a new savior, someone or something to keep us afloat and to pull us out of the frigid waters of our limitations and fears. 

Yet the saviors we continue to attract tend not to be saviors at all. No matter how much we want them to be.

Because no one is coming to save us, to fix us, to keep us afloat.

Our emotional rescue? 

That is up to us. 

Your Circle Wants To Keep You Encircled

Your Circle Wants To Keep You Encircled

Your carnivore friends won’t understand when you tell them that you’ve decided to give up eating meat. Or when your drinking buddies find out that you’ve quit drinking. They’ll just see you as weird. Or going through a phase.

But when your actions show them you’re serious, tensions will inevitably rise.

Tension is a force which breaks things. In these scenarios it will either break your commitment to eating only veggies, break your resolve to embrace sobriety, or it will break the Circle which needs you to remain who you are.

Circles. Our own tribal communities built upon common bonds. The influence our Circles have on us is quite strong. Standards, expectations, and compliance. Circles aren’t typically an encouraging place to grow or change. Your Circle wants you to stay in the Circle, gravitationally pulling and pressuring you to remain exactly as you already are. That’s why you’re in the Circle.

The growth you want requires joining a different Circle.

That’s a huge factor as to why many people choose to never grow. They feel safe and even somewhat obligated to their Circle. They fear being ostracized so they stay exactly where they are to maintain exactly who they are. Even if remaining exactly who they are no longer serves them. Because that’s what the Circle demands.

You’d think personal growth and the changes that come with it would be a universally supported ideal. After all, we do want those who matter most to thrive and live their best lives. Don’t we?

Or perhaps our true motives are far more self serving?

Unfortunately personal growth often comes with a healthy dose of raised eye brows and resentment. As if your personal growth is some sort of de facto pronouncement that the life you’ve built within your existing Circle is now somehow not good enough for you. You’ve rejected them, they’d surmise, and rejection is never very well received by the rejected. Their resentment and hostility can even lead us to question our own worthiness of attempting to become anything more than what we already are, which, inevitably, will keep us in the Circle.

At some point you’ll find yourself at a crossroads. Will you remain loyal to who you’ve always been and to your Circle, or has your loyalty shifted toward who it is you know you were created to become?

Leaving stagnant Circles for new growth Circles isn’t easy. We are creatures of habit. We crave the comfort and safety of the familiar, even if the familiar is keeping us from creating the life we know we are capable of living. But finding a Circle to support our growth and evolution is extremely beneficial. We do become more of who it is we surround ourselves with.

Most of the important growth I’ve experienced in my life has come from finding Circles aligned with my vision of what I wanted to create for me. As my vision has evolved, so has my need to find Circles which support my evolution. New people, new situations, new opportunities…all located in unfamiliar places outside of my existing Circles. And as uncomfortable as stepping outside of the familiar can be, staying within the limiting Circles of “What Is” comes with it’s own degree of discomfort. Consciously deciding that comfortable stagnation is preferred over stepping into your own growth is the perfect garden for the seeds of regret to grow in.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve experienced enough regrets to know that I have no intentions of create any new ones.

In our ever-connected world, finding new Circles is significantly easier than at any other point in history. Whatever it is you wish to become or experience there are those who are also walking a similar path, who’ve shared a similar experience, who are willing to support and encourage, to collectively help move their Circle closer to who it is they wish to become.

Is your Circle moving you closer to who it is you want to be?

Moving forward. Staying put.

There’s a circle for each one.

Which Circle will you be a part of?

Photo by Pablo Guerrero on Unsplash

Where Has All The Encouragement Gone?

Where Has All The Encouragement Gone?

Maybe it’s just easier to beat people down instead of building them up?

A friend of mine was having a conversation with her young neighbor. The young neighbor had grown frustrated with his inability to finish a project he had started. Inability, as in he didn’t think he could figure out how to do it. My friend mentioned to the neighbor that since he had already figured out how to get the project to this point she was certain that he’d be able to figure out what to do next. “You’ve gotten it this far, I’m sure you’ll be able to get it done. You’ve got this.”

Encouragement. It’s not something the young neighbor was too familiar with. “I can’t remember that last time anyone has told me they believed in me.”

Kind of sad.

I was raised by two loving parents. One was an optimistic encourager, the other a pessimistic pointer outer of what I did wrong. A bad grade on a school exam produced two distinctively different parental responses. While both were disappointed, one responded with a compassionate encouraging vibe of “I know you’ll do better next time” while the other grounded me and made sure I didn’t watch TV for a week. One left me feeling empowered, the other simply watered the seeds of doubt I’ve now been uprooting for years.

I prefer the encouragement, please.

I think we all do.

But where has all the encouragement gone?

For those who weren’t ever encouraged it’s often difficult to be encouraging. It goes against what they’ve known, of what they’ve experienced. Often our ability to be encouragers is passed down, almost genetically, like the color of our eyes.

Further putting the hurt on encouragement is society’s growing bias towards negativity. Reality shows, “news” outlets, political grandstanding, and to a great extent social media are all fertile breeding grounds of hate and tearing others down. Apparently it’s quite good for their business.

Kind of sad.

We often think of encouragement as something we do for our kids. Like it’s something that is eventually outgrown. But at what point in life do we ever truly outgrow the benefits of being encouraged? Or the need? We all carry within us our own personal heaviness, mostly unseen by others. Unseen, because it’s visibility we fear would make us appear weak. Especially us men. Our world is unkind to those perceived as weak, so we embrace the facade of strength. And the people we see as strong never need any encouragement, we tell ourselves, so none is ever offered.

Pick one day. One day to simply notice how much encouragement you witness. Listen. Observe. How much are we picking each other up? My experience of purposefully noticing the tone and content of conversations usually results in witnessing very little encouragement. But there are so many opportunities to do so.

We just need to decide to share some.

Even at my advanced age I still appreciate and benefit of words of encouragement. I’ve figured out a great deal about life, but that knowledge alone doesn’t always make life easy. Sometimes being the recipient of a few positive words can change my energy and move me forward.

Each day will present us with opportunities to offer words of encouragement to those we interact with. Friends, family, and strangers alike.

It’s also extremely impactful and important when we are interacting with our self.

In a world somewhat obsessed with the negative, we can offer a different voice, a voice of encouragement which will always create a more positive impact.

Closing the encouragement deficit starts with us.

Each of us.

Me. And you.

I know you can do it!

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

A Quick Fix Guide To Emotional Self Maintenance

A Quick Fix Guide To Emotional Self Maintenance

The blood was everywhere.

The sharpened edge of the paint scraper I was using to get the front window ready for a new coat of paint caught the index finger on my left hand. Ouch.

Summer. The beach, cookouts, endless sunshine, and house painting. Our house, now almost 30 years old, is at that stage where something always needs to be painted. Windows, doors, trim, siding. The weather extremes here in New England certainly push paint to it’s limits.

I actually enjoy the painting part of painting. What I really don’t enjoy is the preparation before hand.

The painting part goes pretty quickly. And it’s rather gratifying. Sometimes the temptation is to throw on a fresh coat of paint to spruce things up a bit. A quick fix. But unless I properly prepare the surface for painting, I will find myself doing a lot more repainting sooner than later.

Quick fixes usually don’t fix things for very long.

Experience has taught me that a good paint job requires a lot of sanding and scraping. Sanding and scraping are not something I look forward to. It’s difficult, tedious work, but unless I am willing to do the hard work and address the stuff underneath first I’m never going to get the results I am looking for.

I’ve found that in my life, house painting is a perfect metaphor for my own self maintenance. I’ve often gone with the quick fix approach when dealing with some of the challenges that life has presented. Instead of sanding and scraping to address my own inner unseen issues, I’d simply thrown on a fresh coat of whatever I thought would spruce me up emotionally. Shopping, denial, blame, alcohol…all fresh coats of distraction to cover what was peeling and cracking underneath. Going deeper into yourself isn’t easy, often very daunting, yet unless I was able and willing to get down to the bare wood of the problems I was dealing with, no new coat of anything was ever going to last.

And they never did.

I’ve now learned to sand and scrape, to seek that emotional bare wood, to work to understand as to why the new version of me I tell myself I want to create never quite sticks. I work to resolve those lurking unseen issues and to then build a base in which the new paint, the new me, can adhere to and last. But unless I do the work and have honest, often difficult conversations with myself, compassionately, I find myself repeating patterns and behaviors which at some point will require me to fix them yet again.

How about you? When it comes to growing more fully into who you really are, what’s peeling and cracking underneath that may be preventing your highest vision of your life from adhering?  What needs to be sanded and scraped in order for you to prepare yourself to be elevated to that place you’ve always longed to be?

I’d grow tired of simply re-fixing the same broken parts of me over and over again.

I deserved better from me.

You deserve better from you, too.

Photo by Amauri Mejía on Unsplash

Self Abandonment & Embracing The Voice Of Authenticity

Self Abandonment & Embracing The Voice Of Authenticity

Somebody told you a story. Perhaps just once. Perhaps several times. But stories have a way of taking root, especially in the impressionable and fertile mind of a child. Even well intentioned story tellers have no idea how that story could impact the life trajectory of that child.

Stick and stones. Yes, they can break bones. But names and labels have such a power to hurt you and your sense of who you are. More specifically, of who you think it is you are.

And who you think you are is perhaps the most important story you’ll ever tell yourself.

As a boy, I didn’t get into too much trouble. I was the third born, coming into this world six years after the second born. I was kind of left on my own, staying within the parameters that were set for me. On one occasion, though, my failing junior high school grades gave my Dad the opportunity to vehemently express his disappointment in me. Not in my grades. But in me, the person. His son. A new story was told, and stories have a way of taking root in the impressionable and fertile mind of a child. Especially when that story comes from your Dad.

And take root it did.

In hindsight, what Dad was trying to do was motivate me. A lifelong factory worker, he wanted me to live a different life than what he was living. His was a hard life, a paycheck-to-paycheck existence. Up early, grabbing as many extra hours as he could. He wanted more for me, and the harshness of his tactics was his way of trying to show me. I see that now, but the young version of me was far to emotionally immature to see that. Dad spoke. I had no reason not to believe him.

And take root it did.

Perhaps you, too, have had the opinions of others impact your perceptions of who you think you are? Maybe you’ve been told at some point in your life you’re not good enough, you’re not smart enough, you’re not beautiful enough, you’re too emotional, you’re a lot of work, you’ll never amount to anything?

The stories we tell ourself will define us. They shape our expectations, shape our actions, shape what we feel is or isn’t possible for ourself. These stories can cause us to abandon who it is we really are in order to live a life consistent with who it is we’ve been told we are. Because we will become who we think we are. We will build a world around those stories, a world in which we will regulate our levels of abundance, worthiness, and even our own perceived lovability. We will fill in life’s pieces accordingly, reinforcing the stories further. We will always attract just more of the same.

A different life requires a different story.

A story in which we embrace our truest self and never needing to abandon it.

When we embrace our authentic self, we will attract and create a world around us full of people and opportunities and relationships which will support our most authentic and purest self. That is the life we all were created to live.

We do get to decided which stories we accept as true.

Actually, we’ve been doing it all of our lives.

So why not embrace a story which supports the life we know we really want to live, the life we were created to live?

Uprooting an identity is hard work. But if you don’t start, you never will.

Your authentic self? It is still within you. It’s alway been there. It’s as beautiful as you’ve always known it to be. It just needs for you to tell yourself a different story.

The Voice of Authenticity is calling you.

Abandon your stories which no longer serve you, and you’ll never again have to abandon the most important person you will ever know.

You.

Photo by Chela B. on Unsplash

Only You Can Take You To Where You Were Meant To Go

Only You Can Take You To Where You Were Meant To Go

It’s one of my favorite “clarity” rides. Just me, alone in my car, up and out just before dawn, driving in silence. A rare moment of being invisible and unaccountable to anyone else but myself.

Being close to the ocean, this back roads ride takes me to a picturesque harbor in southeastern Massachusetts. It’s always so quiet, and the few people I cross paths with also prefer it that way.

This early in the summer morning the harbor is filled with a great number of sail boats, tied to their moorings, silently bobbing with each gentle wave. They fit perfectly into the idyllic image I have in my head as to what I should expect to find in such a harbor.

I’ve always been somewhat intrigued with man’s ability to harness the unseen forces of nature in order to move himself forward. Especially when harnessing the wind. I know nothing about the mechanics and intricacies of the operation of a sail boat, but there is one universal truth I do know.

Sails only work when they’re open.

On the water.

And in life.

We, in many ways, are like sail boats. We are the vessel that can take us from where we are now to where we tell ourselves we want to be. But only if we are willing to break out of the safe harbor we feel secure in and willing to open our sail fully. Unless our sails are open, the wind is useless. Unless we are receptive and open, the forces of the universe can never be harnessed and propel us forward.

My greatest growth has come from my willingness to untie myself from my emotional mooring and break out of my own safe harbors, harbors often built by thoughts of limitation, unworthiness, and fear. At some point the pain of staying stuck outweighed the pain of moving forward and I began my journey forward, trusting that with open sails I would find the wind to do so.

I’ve always found the wind.

The sailing adventure called my life hasn’t always been smooth. Several times I’ve circled back and other times I’ve felt dead in the water. But the important aspect is that I was in the water, readily committed to moving myself forward, being open and receptive and knowing the forces of the universe would help to get me ever-closer to my destination of becoming more like I was created to become. But only if I was ready.

And I was ready.

The wind always finds the open sails.

What “safe harbors” have you created for yourself which are keeping you from entering the waters of your own life? As you navigate your life, what if you untied yourself from any narratives or stories which have held you back and just headed out and opened your sail fully?

Only you can take you to where it is you know you were meant to go.

The wind will find your open sail, too.

Photo by Vince Veras on Unsplash

Today Is A Great Day To Forgive Yourself

Today Is A Great Day To Forgive Yourself

That stuff we carry around. And we’re all carrying stuff around. Even though we don’t have to. Yet, we do. Because we always have. It becomes a part of the story we tell ourselves.

It’s not a great story.

It starts with regret. What we did do, or, more often, what we didn’t do.

And while the regret hurts, what really hurts is how we treat ourself because of it.

We could have made a different choice and we will ruthlessly never allow ourselves to forget it. We can be quite cruel towards others, but don’t we tend to save the cruelest stuff for ourself?

I’ve had my share of regrets. I could probably teach a weekend workshop on the subject, including how to never let yourself get over it, how to mercilessly never let yourself off the hook no matter how many years ago it may have been.

Forgiveness of others is often easier than forgiveness of self.

Forgiveness of self requires two people. The person you are now and the person you were then. The person I am now can see that the person I was then did the best that he could at that time. The person I am now, a bit older and a bit wiser, is able to look back with a compassionate understanding and acceptance of the person I was then.

The person that I am today would be better served if I stopped beating down the person I used to be.

Forgiveness of self is perhaps the greatest example of unconditional love.

We all deserve to be loved unconditionally.

Especially from ourself.

Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash