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Entries from May 2008

The Hidden Messages in "Negative" Feelings

Stop worrying about being emotional. Feelings have a purpose. They can alert us to make necessary changes in our lives or to experience the joy of living. Difficulties arise when people ignore their feelings. Not surprisingly people tend to resist "negative" feelings the most. Who wants to feel pain? But ignoring it can lead to inaction or denial about certain issues in one's life. Read on to see how fear, guilt and anxiety can be a personal message for your life...

FEAR: Fear can warn us about the gravity of a situation. It encourages internal change. If you feel stuck in fear, try meditating on courage. As you cultivate the courage, you’ll be able to make the necessary internal changes to adapt to a situation and the fear will melt away.

GUILT: Guilt provides insight and helps to better understand ourselves and others by allowing us to re-examine the root causes and responsibility for given situations. Too much guilt can be caused from a lack of internal boundaries. If you experience frequent guilt when you’re not responsible for it, try meditating on self-love and reassurance. It’s like the Golden Rule, but flipped. Treat YOURSELF as you treat others. By noticing your own self-talk and replacing self-criticism with love and reassurance, you’ll let go of taking too much responsibility for situations that you don’t control—and the guilt will subside.

ANXIETY: Anxiety also helps to motivate us to change. It signals action. Problems occur when anxiety creates paralysis. In addition, it becomes tempting to judge oneself when you’re experiencing anxiety, which can lead to feeling more anxious. If this occurs, try meditating and finding peace of mind. Relax, take deep breaths and allow peace to override the anxiety. Oftentimes, a call to action will reveal itself when we let go of the anxiety. Then moving into action will decrease the original need for the anxiety.


Stop Unconscious Prejudices from Destroying Your Relationships, Business & the World

Discrimination, racism and intolerance are a lot like holding a grudge. The grudge-holder remains steadfast in their conviction and refuses to understand another point of view or to engage in any type of connection. But what about the stealth grudge-holder? You know--the person that CLAIMS they're not upset but continues to give little jabs anyway.

Multicultural counselors have a name for stealth forms of discrimination. They call it microaggressions and it's very real and quite toxic. As you'd imagine, it's one thing when someone you love or care about is still stewing about an incident while claiming they are over it, but it's a whole other thing when your boss or Chairman of the Board is launching gestures and double-talk at you that are loaded with the equivalent annihilation power of the atomic bomb. Yet you're in a double-bind because nothing has really been said, so you can't prove the existence of the passive-aggressive poison in the room. Worse, the person responsible for such behavior is probably just as unaware. Hence, "micro"aggressions.

Numerous studies have been conducted to reveal how oblivious people are to their prejudices. Perhaps you'll recall the "Candid Camera" episode that showed a woman walking down a street with a purse on her arm as several staged teenagers walked passed her. The teenagers were culturally different but dressed in identical clothes. As you might guess (even though the woman claimed not to be "prejudiced"), the woman placed the purse on her opposite shoulder when she saw the Black and Latino teenagers approaching. Sandra Bullock does a good job portraying a similar scene in the excellent, make-you-think movie "Crash."

So, what can you do to become more aware of your own unconscious prejudices in order to stop perpetuating microaggressions? First, take a moment to really ask yourself some questions--deeply ask yourself. For instance, how do you feel about people of color, people of other religious views, people of different sexual preferences and identities? How do you feel about intermixed relationships? How can you identify with the experiences and challenges facing differing groups of people?

If you came up with some prejudices, here’s something to consider. A lot of people are talking about the law of attraction--the idea that what you believe and think will be manifested. This is the basis of the film, "The Secret." Well, if the law of attraction is real (in sports psychology it works--you visualize the goal and see yourself completing it), and it's true that many of our prejudices are unconscious (which has been validated through enormous amounts of research), wouldn't it be valuable to unlock our prejudices and change them so that we can stop manifesting in others the very behaviors we fear?