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?”

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

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

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

The Happiness Contingencies Are Making You Unhappy

The Happiness Contingencies Are Making You Unhappy

“Then I’ll be happy.”

Nervously I stood in front the bathroom scale. Would today be the day? I’d been working to hit my weight goal. This could be the day.

Left foot. Then the right foot. The LED numbers spinning like a slot machine as the scale calculated my weight.

The numbers stopped.

Bingo!

I did it.

And, honestly, it was rather disappointing.

I finally decided (for at least the third time!) that I was going to shed a few pounds. The goal was to shed 40 of them. Through a rather unhealthy process of excessive exercise and excessively limiting total caloric intake, slowly the pounds came off. Over a period of a few months there was a bit less of me each week. And on the day I lost the last of those 40 pounds I was both happy and almost immediately not so happy.

I expected it to feel different.

Expectations have a way of doing that.

Sure, I had hit my goal. But my expectations were more than just hitting a number on the scale. I was expecting this accomplishment to make me happy. Like, acheiving this goal would somehow cure my nagging and ever-present feeling of unhappiness and emptiness. Like, this was supposed to change far more than the size of my jeans. But instead, I was the same unhappy and empty me that I’d always been, now just 40 pounds lighter.

For most of my life I was quite good at creating happiness contingencies. Those “I’ll be happy when…” parameters. Once the goal or a desired outcome was achieved, only then would I allow myself to be happy. The reality, though, even with the goal attained, I never really did allow myself to be happy.

There was still more work to do.

Sure, I won a battle but I still needed to finish the war. No matter how well I performed in my work life or personal life there would be very little space for joy celebrating my success. There was simply more work to do. No time to rest, Peter. No time to be happy. The war continued on.

Maybe you can relate?

“I’ll be happy when…” is ever elusive. Because you never quite get to happy. It’s a never ending cycle. I didn’t enjoy my weight loss progress. Instead of being happy when I lost the first 10 pounds, my focus was on the 30 pounds still to go.

There was still more work to do.

What happiness contingencies do set in your life? What are you waiting for to happen before you’ll allow yourself to be happy?

My journey has taught me that happiness doesn’t need to be contingent upon an outcome. It can simply be a decision to find joy in the process, a decision to celebrate the individual steps of the journey. It doesn’t mean life is always happy, but removing such restrictive parameters on happiness has allowed me to experience far more of it.

Life gives us many reasons to simply celebrate life itself. And when you learn to celebrate the magnificence of your own existence, you’ll allow yourself to find an endless reservoir of things to be happy about right now.

No contingencies need.

I’ll be happy when…

I decide to be.

Photo by Danie Franco on Unsplash

Silencing Our Own Voice

Silencing Our Own Voice

I remember when I brought her home for the first time.

Betsy, I called her. I’m still not sure why. But, Betsy would be her name going forward.

She was beautiful, perfect in my eyes. She being my first electric guitar.

Me? I was gonna be a rock star. I already had the hair.

There was only one problem.

I had always wanted an electric guitar, and I had heard that Mr. Britto on Smith Street had one he was willing to sell. My enthusiasm convinced my Mom that she should let me spend the money I had saved and buy it. It was $40 back when $40 was a lot more than what $40 is today.

I didn’t know how to play guitar when I bought it, but I assured Mom that I’d learn. Taking music lessons didn’t quite excite me, no matter how good I was at playing scales or “Mary Had A Little Lamb”. I had a few friends who played guitar, and I was able to learn a bit from them. Ultimately, I sort of just dabbled with it, occasionally made some noise, and eventually Betsy ended up under my bed in the case I first brought her home in.

That one problem?

I never really thought of myself as a guitarist.

A few years back I found the guitar while cleaning out a closet. Immediately my mind went back to that 14 year old wide-eyed, long haired version of me. Eventually, though, I started thinking about what I hadn’t done with that guitar, about the music I didn’t make with that guitar. Like, why didn’t I?

Because I never allowed myself to do so.

What holds us back from being all we were created to be is our belief system. How we see ourselves pretty much determines what we are willing to allow ourselves to be. In music. And in life. Our identity of who we accept ourselves to be regulates everything. If our beliefs are limited, so, too, will be what we are willing to allow ourselves to become. In music. And in life. I never really saw myself as someone who could confidently play the guitar, and I met those expectations with precision.

I used to regret lots of things, things far more significant than not learning to play the guitar. But the root cause of all of those regrets was the same. A belief system limiting what I accepted as possible for me. Even if I told myself I wanted to be more, I was never going to let me do or accomplish anything more than my belief system would let me.

Regrets can crush you or they can be the fuel that moves you forward. I’ve opted for the fuel route.

The good thing about any limiting belief is it can be changed. First you need to be open to the reality that you actually have them and self-aware to compassionately notice them. Not everything we think is true. We just think it is. But when you identify or suspect thoughts which are limiting in nature, you have the right, ability, and obligation to change them.

But that’s on you. Nothing on the outside can change what we are unwilling to change on the inside.

Is there something on the inside that needs to change in order for you to fully express who you were created to become?

Challenging what I think has been such a critical tool in my overall growth, especially what I think about me and what’s possible for me. The mind which can create limitations can also destroy them.

It works both ways.

The guitar? It now hangs on my office wall. I have no desire to learn to play it. Rather, it’s there to remind me of what self-imposed limitations can look like. In music. And in life.

What’s holding you back?

What music are you not allowing yourself to make?

Your music, your voice, is far too important not to be fully expressed.

Candles, Confessions, & The Art Of Self Forgiveness

Candles, Confessions, & The Art Of Self Forgiveness

It’s been a couple of weeks now since Mom passed. Expected yet unexpected all at the same time. It’s not something you can ever fully prepare for.

Recently, I found myself back in my old hometown and for some reason I felt called to visit the chapel Mom would quite often visit.

Mom was a woman of deep Christian faith, a guiding and comforting source for her throughout her life. Mom was also a prolific candle lighter, and Our Lady’s Chapel was the place she would light them. For family and friends in time of need or distress, Mom lit candles for us all.

It was my turn to light one for her.

After the candle was lit, I found myself sitting in the back pew of the Chapel. Just sitting. Observing. Remembering. Decompressing. A small boy sitting a few rows in front of me wandered away from his Mother and playfully pushed back the curtain to the Confessional located just to my left. His Mom was not at all pleased, but his actions got me to thinking about something I’ve not thought about for quite some time.

Growing up Catholic, I’ve certainly spent my share of time in the Confessional. As a boy, I’d kneel fearfully in darkness awaiting the priest to open the screen and I’d tell him of my sins for the week. Mostly about the number of swear words I’d used that week (I did my best to quantify my transgressions) and the occasional taking the Lord’s name in vain. Then, with nervous anticipation, I’d await my penance which usually involved a great deal of praying in the back of Church.

Spiritually, I’ve meandered a bit over the years. I’ve confessed a great deal over the years, just not in a Confessional.

Confession is the first step in forgiveness. It’s reflecting upon and acknowledging your actions, or, at times, the lack of them, and asking God to absolve you. In the secular space, I, too, have asked for the forgiveness of others for the times I’ve not lived up to my own Higher standard, for the actions I’ve taken or the lack of them.

Others have also occasionally asked for my forgiveness as well. Forgiveness is always granted, as the weight of holding grudges is more weight than I choose to carry, especially as I get older. I know I’m still far from perfect myself and I like to think I afford others the space to be less than perfect as well.

There is one person, though, I’ve often had a difficult time forgiving.

Me.

Funny how it’s often easier for us to forgive others than it is for us to forgive ourselves.

As I reflect about forgiveness, I realize that self-absolution has never been easy for me. The grudges I chose not to hold towards others I would easily hold against myself, mercilessly holding me perpetually accountable for my actions or lack there of.

Maybe you can relate to not giving yourself the space to be imperfect? To allow yourself to reflect and acknowledge the times in your life where you wish you responded differently, or had taken another path, and then forever beating yourself up for it.

Much of this changed for me when I was able to change the most important of all relationships.

The one with me.

The compassion and forgiveness I so easily dispensed to others? I threw a little of that my own way. I cut myself some slack. I accepted that no matter the result, I did the best I could at the time. I compassionately questioned why I’d befriend others yet wouldn’t extend that same level of friendship towards myself.

I stopped emotionally kicking my own ass.

I’m certain my issues with self-forgiveness can be traced back to the self-identity narratives which were created, nurtured, and perpetuated many decades ago. Many of them based in limitation, steeped in unworthiness, rooted in insecurity. What we are willing to accept as true for who we think we are impacts just about everything.

But narratives can be changed, if we are willing to question them.

It’s a conversation worth having.

It’s the most important conversation I’ve ever had.

When You Listen To What You’re Telling Yourself

When You Listen To What You’re Telling Yourself

“Good Vibes Only.”

It was a nice t-shirt.

But life simply doesn’t work that way.

At least not mine.

I’m a huge fan of good vibes. Love them. Strive for them. But I know that life, no matter what our clothing may say, isn’t always good vibes only.

I’ve come to appreciate all of my vibes. And I’ve got lots of them, too. The good. The bad. The angry. The empty. The frustrated. The disappointed. A full spectrum of emotions and feelings. I’m not sure if I’m complicated, or complex, but I do know at times I can be a lot for me to deal with.

As much as I prefer the good ones, I’ve found, paradoxically, that it’s the not-so-good ones which are the ones that lead me to more of the good ones.

Huh?

I’ve found that I learn from my vibes. Each one has something to tell me. Something to teach me about me and where I am at any given moment. Emotions are kind of my dashboard which lets me see what’s going on inside of me. Instead of fighting the ones I don’t want or feeding them further, I’ve learned to just notice them. A younger, far less self-compassionate version of me would often beat myself up for feeling a certain way. Now, I simply just let them be, without judging. Much like an auto mechanic, I don’t get mad that the dashboard indicator light is on, I use that indicator to get to the source of what needs tending to. Once I know where to look, I can work on getting me back to where I prefer to be.

Sometimes those not-so-good vibes stick around for a while, and I’ve come to accept that it’s OK if they do. Sometimes those emotions just need their space to breathe and not be forced back into the darkness. And in a strange way, being able to befriend the emotions and vibes I don’t really want to experience and learning to work with them helps me to more quickly get back to the positive and happier vibes I want to enjoy.

Self-awareness and a bit of compassionate patience have become such powerful tools for me to try and take better care of the emotional side of me.

Perhaps that’s the most important good vibe of all?

Who Owns Your Happiness?

Who Owns Your Happiness?

Goodbye, New Hampshire!

Moving day. The truck was loaded and we were ready to head a little south. After a brutal winter of construction delays our new home was finally ready for us to move into.

We loved our apartment, but moving into your own home is extremely exciting. Especially your first home. A real sense of ownership, a place to call our own. 

Owning is better than renting.

When it comes to real estate.

When it comes to peace and happiness.

Have you ever wondered who owns your peace and happiness?

I think we’ve all had similar experiences of linking our peace and happiness to things outside ourselves. Of needing certain results or outcomes. Of needing certain people. Of needing certain people to act in certain ways. Of needing certainty.

On my path I’ve gone down many a road looking for that elusive peace and happiness, convinced that this time I was on the right one. Once I got to where I told myself I needed to go I would recognize in short order that it was just another dead end. Whatever I told myself I needed to achieve or attain, once achieved or attained I would eventually feel that all too familiar sense of frustration and disappointment. I thought it was supposed to fix everything.

It never did.

The same can be said for relationships. How often do we need people to be and act in ways which make us happy? Sure, it’s great when that happens, but what happens when they stop? What happens if they change? What happens when they know what we need from them and it is purposely withheld? What happens if they leave?

It’s just renting happiness, and renting provides no emotional equity.

Because we don’t own it.

When we look outside of ourselves for peace and happiness we never own it. If we are fortunate to think we’ve found it, just wait. It’s inherently temporary. Just like renting. Even a lease isn’t forever, and the price of outsourcing your happiness can get rather emotionally expensive. And since the emotional landlord sets the emotional rules the relationship is never one of equals. 

I was quite apprehensive about the idea of owning my peace and happiness. It intrigued me but I didn’t think it was possible. After all, wasn’t I the one convinced it was all outside of me? That’s where I’d been looking for the vast majority of my life.

In having tried many external options, I’d come to realize the one place I’d yet to look was inside of me.

Becoming the primary source of your own peace and happiness was a lot more work than I thought it would be. My relationship with me wasn’t always a good one. Quite abusive at times, actually. I wasn’t ready to love me, so I just started to like me. More like a friend. I started to compassionately work with me and not against me. I started to prioritize me, my wants and my needs, my own wellbeing. From the inside out. 

The better I got at taking care of me, the less I needed things outside of me to take care of me. The better I got at taking care of me, the less dependent I became on others to take care of me. More emotional equity means more freedom, and that freedom is quite empowering.

My peace and happiness are now my responsibility. I know me and I know what I need from me. Sure, I still enjoy favorable outcomes and favorable people, but the equity I’ve built in owning my emotional well being doesn’t make them necessities. 

I just don’t need things or people to be anything other than they already are.

Yes, I still get angry and disappointed at times. I simply don’t allow myself to stay there

When it comes to your peace and happiness, are you owning or renting?

What Is It That You Need To Hear From You?

What Is It That You Need To Hear From You?

It’s a tough conversation. Because you know they’re the one responsible for how things turned out. They’re the one who fell short of what could have been. It’s a tough conversation because of who this person actually is.

You.

We hold ourselves to such alarmingly high standards, don’t we? We can be relentless at times, honestly. And when we get caught in a cycle of disappointment or regret we can poison ourselves with the venom of blame and anger. 

What is it that you need to hear from you? Are you able to release yourself from the heaviness of the burdens you’ve placed upon yourself? Because their weight is something you’ve no need to carry. Are you able to look at your younger self and understand that you did the best you could at the time? Because you did. Are you able to forgive yourself for falling short of the unrealistic expectations you’ve often set for yourself? Because forgiveness changes your relationship with you.

Only you can make peace with you. Only you can move you past your past and onto some solid emotional footing to move you forward and into who you now know you really are.

A tough conversation.

But it could be one which sets you free.

What is it that you need to hear from you?

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash