Making Peace

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Sometimes achieving peace without begins within. It begins with reconciling our heart with our head, facing head on those things we might rather avoid. It means taking a personal inventory of our behaviors and choices; making amends with those we have hurt or been hurt by. It means meeting others where they are and as they are… choosing to forgive and let go from a place of love, not ego; from a place of compassion, not resentment, without an expectation of reciprocity.

In celebration of International Day of Peace, recognized on September 21st, I’m curious to know and ask…

How do you achieve peace in your own life? What role can personal accountability, forgiveness and compassion play in achieving peace with others? How can holding space for another and/or opening a dialogue from a place genuine respect, create a bridge to deeper understanding and acceptance? As you inventory you own inner life, are there areas where you need to make peace, whether with yourself or others?

Photo credit: Chris Devers

Protected: Abandoning Ourselves

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Imperfectly United

Thought for the day:

Just as our imperfection and differences have the power to divide us, so too, can they be leveraged to unite us. When we allow ourselves to see our own good in others or others’ shortcomings in ourselves, our perspective begins to change and the chance to make a different choice emerges.

 

On Being Ourselves…

Sometimes the hardest thing in the world is to simply be ourselves; to sit in centered stillness, void of our masks, labels, and other outer adornments of success. Yet it is this very willingness to be vulnerable; this willingness to seek radical acceptance from within, that enables deep connection with others and the possibility of true peace and lasting joy.

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I’m curious…

How do you choose to stand in your own truth? How has shedding those outer labels, masks and adornments, enabled you to find more peace, love and joy in your own life? How has accepting yourself, enabled you to more readily accept others?

The Battle Within

‘They’ say life is less about what happens to us, than how we respond to it, and that our attitude affects outcomes.  I believe in these principles and have often written about the same.

Put a smile on our face, respond with equal parts humility, forgiveness, gratitude and surrender, and all will be fine.

Only sometimes it isn’t.

Sometimes the battles we fight in our life;

Those people, events and circumstances that push us to the brink of our sanity and sense of self-worth;

Those moments that challenge our faith, our courage, and our self-respect, leaving us stripped of our strength and without hope, but for our carefully crafted facade of false smiles and false faith;

Sometimes these moments are about more than what meets the superficial eye.

Sometimes these battles without, are simply reflections or manifestations of a larger battle within.

Struggle with pride, for example, and life will find a way to humiliate you.

Struggle with jealousy and resentment, and you’ll discover little to be grateful for.

Struggle with fear, and life will most assuredly validate your fears, enabling you to stay stuck in the depths of your own shadows.

So how do we grow beyond these struggles?  How do we cultivate an attitude or response that enables us to grow through life’s inevitable challenges, instead of allowing them to defeat us?  How can we create a different outcome — one that enables us to live more fully, allowing love, peace and joy their rightful place in our lives? 

Change Your Perspective_1

We must be willing to fight our battles within if we hope to win the battles without.

We must be willing to slay our own demons before demonizing those who would battle with us.

We must be willing to challenge our own assumptions and question those stories we tell ourselves and others.

We must be willing to meet ourselves where we are and as we are — with grace, love, compassion, and forgiveness — to stand fully naked in our own truth before we can begin to advance forward.

I’m curious…

How have the events of your life reflected inner truths that you’d rather avoid? How has self-awareness enabled you to grow? What blind spots have you discovered within that when confronted and addressed, enabled you to live more fully without? 

 

 

 

 

Living an Undivided Life

cropped-cropped-cropped-heart_multi9.jpgRecent years have fill filled with unearthing, rebirthing, and giving life to my own voice and dreams. Left brain (re)united with the right, it’s been a season of learning to live an undivided life — not just privately within my own heart and mind, but professionally, too — allowing others to see and connect with my whole self, not just the piece(s) defined by past roles or opportunity.

It’s been challenging and scary.  Layers of pride and fear dismantled as pieces of my wall have been broken down and discarded to reveal a hidden self. The public persona courageously united with the private; head aligned firmly with the heart.

But these steps are necessary to reach the places I have chosen to go.  Necessary, for when we live a divided life, we often end up losing the very essence of who we are.  We become restless, unsettled, and deeply compartmentalized.  We become more about ‘fitting in’ than being our true selves. Living our lives as square pegs in round holes, we often end up abandoning our own dreams and short-changing others in the process.  We create boxes and labels of limitations, then wonder why we feel trapped.  We lose integrity…the wholeness of who we are, while fracture lines form, threatening to undermine the foundational stability of our lives.

One of my favorite books is Parker J. Palmer’s book, A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward An Undivided Life. In it he writes, “As we move closer to the truth that lives within us — aware that in the end what will matter most is knowing that we stayed true to ourselves — institutions start losing their sway over our lives.  This does not mean that we must abandon institutions.  In fact, when we live by the soul’s imperatives, we gain the courage to serve institutions more faithfully.”

These ‘institutions’ may represent our work, personal and/or spiritual lives, though the message remains the same — as we begin to reunite with our most authentic selves, we are better able to live, serve and lead others — from a place of humility, acceptance, respect and love. We become more equipped to commit to others, too, as we more deeply commit to ourselves and our own personal truths.

In the undivided life, we begin to know peace. We begin to experience joy. We begin to define success, not by the standards of world, but by the unconditional acceptance of our selves and our ability to live our truth out loud.

I’m curious…have you ever found yourself living a divided life?  Have you ever allowed labels and the expectations of others to define you or your opportunities?  What steps have you taken to live an undivided life?  What challenges have you encountered along the way?  How has living an undivided life altered your perception about the world and your role in it?

Postscript:  We are all evolving, and as we continue to grow, sometimes we change, too.  Sometimes what was important to us in the past, takes a backseat to new dreams, developed gifts, and clarity of purpose.  This evolution is not separate and divided from the whole, but an extension of our selves reframed.

On the Question of Trust, Sharks, Users and Takers

SharkWeekFeature1So often I am reminded of a conversation I had with a long-term mentor of mine almost two years ago.  “How do you discern who you can trust?” he asked.  How indeed, I thought silently to myself.

My answer then, as it remains, was that it was less important to know where others are coming from than to live and lead from a place of solid centeredness and confidence in our own values.  Still, as I continue to learn and grow, I am increasingly aware that there are those who cannot be trusted in our interactions, no matter how worthy our own intentions, motivations and actions.  Regardless of why, there are those who routinely undermine others – without regard for consequence, without provocation, and often without warning.  Sharks, users, takers, and players.  The world is filled with them, just as it is filled with those who work to lead and live from a spirit of humility, service and love.

Admittedly, I used to plague myself with trying to understand why some people behave badly, as if understanding alone would change the outcome or somehow justify their behavior. (I would also spend a great deal of energy complaining or feeling victimized by the person’s behavior, too.) But let’s get real.  Whatever the ‘whys’; whatever wrongs may have been done to them in the past by others that now lead them to act in a similar fashion; whatever their sense of entitlement or justification; bad behavior is still bad behavior, and questionable character rarely changes.

So I’ve quit asking and I’ve quit wondering.  Not only have I found that exercise to be completely futile, I’ve also learned that when we spin our wheels trying to understand, change and/or fight against those who have wronged us or others, we rob ourselves of precious time and energy that can be applied toward more productive ends – towards building trust and relationship with those who uplift, encourage and support instead of those who break down; and towards those paths and projects that align with our values and serve our life dreams.

It’s not a running away from problems or difficult people we’d rather not deal with, so much as it is a matter of re-prioritizing where, how and with whom we want to spend our energy.  It’s a matter of re-wiring our thinking, too.  We can feel victimized by others’ behaviors, or we can do something about it.  We can give our power over to them or we can empower ourselves.  While we may not be able to change others, we can surely change our response to them and how we choose to move forward – moving from a mindset of fear-based survival to a place of loving self-respect.

I’m curious…Have you ever allowed others’ behaviors to sabotage your own journey?  If so, how did you disentangle yourself from the situation?  What boundaries, tricks & tools do you employ when faced with those who routinely undermine, betray and breakdown?  Have you ever been caught of guard by their behavior?  Whether as leaders or followers, how do you navigate those inevitable times when the spirit of collaboration and team are undermined by the self-serving interests of others?