Sun and Rain in Our Lives – The Affirmation Spot for Saturday May 8, 2010

Today’s Affirmation:

“”I am in touch with nature. Every day I feel my feet touch the earth. I feel the wind fill my lungs. I feel the water bring life to every cell of my being. I feel the warm sunshine on my face. I am in touch with nature.”
(Click the affirmation to hear the mp3 version)

silouette_ocean_horizon.jpg It is a beautiful day, a day of hope for the future; a day of limitless beginnings. For your life is like a garden, you must plant it and tend it before the harvest comes. You must nurture the garden of your life as you go; weeding it of old destructive patterns of thought and action. Making sure it receives the love and care necessary for its growth and ultimately its blossoming.

As with any garden, there must come times of sunshine and times of rain. Both must be if the garden is to succeed and flourish. Conventional wisdom claims that joy is easier to find in the proverbial sunshine than in the proverbial rain.

I have found, however, that when I accept the necessity of the rain, stand in it willingly, and understand its nature and purpose; it can be even sweeter than the sunshine.

The sunshine is the provider of life, doing its work over long hours, days, and weeks. Without it, there is no life. The rain, by contrast, is an occasional visitor. It appears in short increments, but is the source of rapid growth. It brings newness to all it touches.

So keep in mind that if today brings a little rain into your life, it’s OK. The sun will return soon enough. It is right behind the clouds. For today, stand strong, give yourself to the rain, and grow grow grow!

Get inspired!

Ray
http://www.theaffirmationspot.com

What If 180 – The Affirmation Spot for Wednesday April 14, 2010

Today’s Thought:

What if you made all the difference in the world? Well, get comfortable with that because you do!”


I often receive emails from people looking for simple things they can do in their every day life to be more positive. Many of us spend unnecessary time and energy catastrophizing events that never happen. The key phrase, and I’ll bet you’ve said it or thought it at least once today, is what if.

Usually the scenario sounds something like this.

  • I want to ask him or her out, but what if…
  • I want to apply for that manager job, but what if…
  • I want to take a nice vacation, but what if…
  • I want to feel happy, but what if…

This is a classic example of self-talk. We have these thoughts all day long. A key to whether or not you’re achieving a positive mindset is what follows the what if. Play the scenario in your mind right now. What normally follows what if – something positive or something negative?

You might need a What If 180. That is, if your thoughts are negative, you might want to try consciously turning them 180 degrees to something positive.

You can change statements like:

“I want to apply for that manager job, but what if I don’t get it and I feel like a loser?”

to

“I want to apply for that manager job, and what if I’m exactly who they are looking for?”

Why assume the worst instead of the best? Is the worst any more likely – really? Of course not! As you catch yourself doing this and consciously doing a What If 180, you find that the positive becomes your default state of mind.

Once you have transformed the negative scenario into a positive scenario you can transform the question into an affirmation.

“I want to apply for that manager job and I AM exactly who they are looking for!”

One other tip. You notice I changed the word “but” to the word “and”. The word “but” has been shown to psychologically negate the previous phrase.

You’ve received one of those compliments. “You’re a great baksetball player, but…” “I love you, but….” Try to eliminate those buts from your self-talk too. When you use the but you’re really saying, “I want to feel happy, but I WON’T”.

Start your What If 180s today. Make a game of it. You’ll have a little laugh at your negative self-talk and more importantly you’ll change it.

Stay inspired!

Ray

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The Power of Persistence – The Affirmation Spot for Wednesday March 17, 2010

Today’s Thought:
Success is not just about winning. Wins come and go. Success is about persistence all the way to your dream.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all. Today is a day when people think about being lucky. Luck certainly plays a role in life’s success, but your odds of success go way up when we work single-mindedly toward our goals.

The Greek historian Herodotus wrote: “Some give up their designs when they have almost reached the goal; while others, on the contrary, obtain a victory by exerting, at the last moment, more vigorous efforts than ever before.”

He was speaking of the quality of persistence. You know stick-toitiveness, an unwillingness to give up. It is the first and mandatory prerequisite for all success in life.

Think about it. Have you ever seen anyone win a 100 meter dash by stopping at the 50 meter mark? Have you ever seen a football team leave the field in the third quarter and win? Have you ever seen a best-selling author who stopped after a few rejection letters? The first two instances would result in disqualification and the latter instance – well, that person would never be known as a best-selling author.

Life always disqualifies us when we give up. No dream ever came true by quitting half way to it. We need persistence. We need an attitude that reminds us, in the face of setback, that we are on a mission to accomplish something big.

History has few tales of those who almost did something. We remember those who actually accomplished. There is no record of those who stopped when one more try would have made all the difference. Who almost invented the light bulb, the automobile, the computer? There might have been thousands of people who almost did, who had the potential, who woulda, coulda, shoulda. We only remember who actually did.

Give today your all! Give your dreams your best! Leave nothing on the field in their pursuit.

The question you have to ask yourself today is, “Am I the next J.K. Rowling?” or “Am I the next Michael Jordan?” or “Am I the next person who was almost one of them, but remains forever anonymous because I gave up just short of the goal?”

A greatness lives within each of us and it is there for us to discover when we stay persistent.

The choice every single day is ours!

Stay inspired!

Ray

Star Trek Motivation – The Affirmation Spot for Friday March 12, 2010

Yes. I admit it. I am and always have been a BIG Star Trek fan. While I enjoy all the shows, my favorite has always been Star Trek: The Next Generation. The show was among the first successful first-run syndication shows. It aired from 1987-1994.

No offense, but people who “don’t get” Star Trek have just never given it a chance. I have always heard comments like, “Why would I want to watch some show about a space ship in the future?”

Star Trek’s greatest secret – to non-fans – is that the space setting (while cool) was really only the backdrop for addressing humanity’s momentary and long-term issues like war, racism, personal freedom, and many other topics.

There are many great lines from all the Star Trek shows over the years, but I believe TNG stands alone as the one with the most powerful and inspiring lines. Today I thoughts I’d share a few.

Stay inspired!

Ray

It is the struggle itself that is most important. We must strive to be more than we are. It does not matter that we will never reach our ultimate goal. The effort yields its own reward.”
~ Data (from “The Offspring” – Star Trek: TNG Season 3, 1990)

“Things are only impossible until they’re not!”
~ Jean-Luc Picard (“When the Bough Breaks” – Star Trek:TNG Season 1, 1988)

“Time is a companion that goes with us on a journey. It reminds us to cherish each moment, because it will never come again. What we leave behind is not as important as how we have lived.”
~ Jean-Luc Picard (Star Trek: Generations Movie, 1994)

“‘With the first link, the chain is forged. The first speech censured, the first thought forbidden, the first freedom denied, chains us all irrevocably.’ Those words were uttered by Judge Aaron Satie as wisdom and warning. The first time any man’s freedom is trodden on, we’re all damaged.”
~ Jean-Luc Picard quoting a fictional 24th Century Judge (“The Drumhead” – Star Trek: TNG Season 4, 1991)

“I prefer to think of the future as something that is not written in stone.”
~ Jean- Luc Picard (“All Good Things” – Star Trek: TNG Season 7, 1994)

“Seize the time, Meribor. Live now; make now always the most precious time. Now will never come again.”
~ Jean-Luc Picard (“The Inner Light” – Star Trek: TNG, Season 5, 1992)

And finally, as a reader reminded me with a comment:

MAKE IT SO! Jean-Luc Picard from practically every episode!

Ruthless Compassion: An Interview with Dr. Marcia Sirota – The Affirmation Spot for Friday March 5, 2010

Today’s Affirmation:

Today I am just me; no masks and no excuses. Simply me!

One of the goals of this blog is to expose readers to some of the great thinkers and practitioners in the worlds of motivation, self-help, and personal development. Today I am pleased share an interview with Dr. Marcia Sirota MD FRCP (C).

Dr. Sirota is an author, speaker, and founder of the Ruthless Compassion Institute. This conversation was conducted by email between February 21 and March 1, 2010. I’d like to express my thanks to her for her generous attention and thoughtful responses to the questions posed and for sharing her wisdom and ideas with us.

I hope you will find Ruthless Compassion a useful tool in your journey. You will find contact information for Dr. Sirota at the conclusion of the interview.

Stay inspired!

Ray


TAS: Marcia, can you tell the readers a little about your background and what led you to the work you are doing now?

Dr. Marcia Sirota: I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy, having studied both Western and Eastern schools of thought. I also have a background in the arts; in particular drawing, writing and dance. I’m a board-certified psychiatrist currently doing individual and group psychotherapy with a focus on healing trauma, overcoming blocks to creativity and success, conquering addictions and improving relationships.

TAS: Ruthless Compassion is an attention-getting phrase. How do you define RC? How long have you been practicing and teaching it?

DMS: Ruthless Compassion is a synthesis of loving-kindness and empowerment. It’s a philosophy which promotes the unerring pursuit of the unvarnished truth tempered with an attitude of gentleness and respect toward ourselves and others. It also entails taking personal responsibility for the choices we make and the actions we take in life; recognizing that no-one can or should do these things for us. Finally, it’s an attitude of integrity, whereby we hold ourselves and others accountable for these choices and actions and don’t enable anyone to continue making bad choices.

TAS: I love the idea of a philosophy that combines loving-kindness and empowerment. Often in life one person holding another person accountable can create conflict. How do inexperienced practitioners hold others accountable without eliciting hostility? Do all involved parties have to be committed to the process for it succeed?

DMS: Holding someone accountable for their actions doesn’t always mean confronting them. Sometimes it’s necessary to be more direct and to let them know that their behavior is unacceptable, but often it’s preferable just to give the person the type of consequences that emerge out of you taking better care of yourself. Practicing RC isn’t about “teaching someone a lesson” or bashing them over the head to make a point. It’s about neither enabling someone to hurt you nor colluding with them when they try to hurt others.

If someone gets angry or hostile when you don’t let them get away with their bad behavior, it demonstrates that they are unreasonable, and unwilling to change their ways. It might be disappointing to see this about someone but it’s not a bad outcome. It provides you with crucial information about their character that you’ll need in order to asses whether you want to associate with them or not.

All parties don’t have to be aware of RC for it to succeed. When someone receives consequences for having made a bad choice, they are being presented (by the practitioner of RC) with an opportunity to learn from their mistakes. They have a further choice to make then: whether to take advantage of the opportunity to learn and grow or to reject it, and perhaps become angry.

If the person chooses to become upset about receiving a consequence, perhaps in the future other people will practice RC with them and eventually they’ll make the connection and learn something; maybe even changing their ways. On the other hand, if they immediately use the consequences to improve their behavior, two things will happen: they’ll make it possible for us to trust them and feel closer to them, and they’ll be learning at the same time how RC works and may choose to use it themselves in the future.

TAS: This may sound like a question for a musician, but who are your psychological influences? Whose work inspired your vision for RC?

DMS: My psychological influences are many and varied: They include all my teachers, whether in my personal life or the ones I’ve studied in books. I especially appreciate Freud and his division of the psyche into Id, Ego and Super-ego, and Transactional Analysis, developed by Eric Berne who translated these concepts into the child, adult and parent parts of the psyche. I’ve taken that idea and run with it in my theories and practice. I also appreciate Jungian archetypes, folk tales and mythology as bases for understanding the complexities of the human psyche and human relationships. I probably take a lot from various schools of Buddhism, as well.

Ruthless Compassion came to me as an evolving concept through my practice and my life. All the above influences as well as my life experiences combined into this new way of looking at things. In observing the suffering of my patients and of people in general, I saw that the old ways of dealing with relationships, work, the environment, money, addiction, creativity and even spirituality didn’t hold, and that a new approach was desperately needed. Ruthless Compassion was borne of this need.

TAS: On your website, you state, “The goal of the (Ruthless Compassion) institute is to enable you to live with greater freedom, empowerment and happiness, to be in constructive, meaningful relationships and to make a positive contribution to your family and community.” How does RC help people achieve these aspirations?

DMS: RC can help people live better lives in that it supports their becoming more conscious. The ruthlessness aspect spurs them ever onward in seeing and dealing with the truth of how things are, who they are, and what the people in their life are doing to them and around them. The compassion aspect allows them to face the truth without beating themselves up, either for the choices they’ve been making or for not having seen the truth sooner.

RC keeps people from being enablers to others’ bad behavior, thus preventing a lot of potential suffering. RC is empowering because it has people living in reality and this makes it more possible for them to achieve their goals. It has people taking responsibility for themselves, while also preventing them from criticizing themselves. This combination is a great motivator for positive action.

TAS: What differentiates RC from other forms therapy or self-development techniques? Are there similarities with some other techniques?

DMS: RC is different in that it’s reality-based. There’s no magical thinking involved that tells people to think the right thoughts and then they’ll achieve their goals, or that if they buy into this quick and easy solution, they’ll fix their problem(s). RC tells you that good things come from working toward realistic goals in a meaningful way.

RC doesn’t promise to change your life or that it will bring you amazing riches, fabulous success or  brilliant romance. What it does do is enable you to let go of a lot of the unnecessary suffering in your life that has come from making poor choices – the choices that were based on false hope, inappropriate expectations or erroneous beliefs. It allows you to improve your relationships by owning your part in them and letting go of the part that doesn’t belong to you; it frees you to pursue real goals, both of personal growth and outer success, based on your real efforts.

RC is also different because it doesn’t ask you to change who you are to practice it. It’s not a dogma, and therefore anyone can benefit from it. It doesn’t require you to change your diet, your religion or your lifestyle. What you do have to change is your attitude and your old ways of looking at yourself, others and the world.

I imagine that RC has similarities with a number of techniques or tools for living, but I also think that it is a unique philosophy in and of itself.

TAS: You mentioned magical thinking and false hope. Of course, there are some very popular “systems” that have come out in recent years giving people the impression that their thoughts are a kind of cosmic ATM card. You think the right thoughts, the claims go, and anything can be yours.

Unfortunately, those ideas have caused damage to the demonstrated benefits of positive thinking and positive visualization. How do you differentiate magical thinking from positive thinking and what role, if any, does positive affirmation play in RC? How does one differentiate false hope from real hope?

DMS: Magical thinking is deciding that something is so, just because you want it to be. It has no basis in reality. Positive thinking is seeing the reality of a situation and maximizing its potential.

False hope is the hope for something that could never be; for example that if you try hard enough you could get someone who doesn’t like you to love you. Real hope is grounded in what is actually possible, like the hope that you could become a happier, healthier person.

There is definitely a role for positive affirmation in RC but for it to be meaningful, it must be reality-based. This means we recognize our own limitations and the limitations of reality, and instead of trying to affirm the impossible (which renders our affirmations absurd) we affirm our inherent qualities and strengths.

Positive affirmations should remind us that we’re entitled to be happy and free; that we’re lovable and valuable as we are, and that we’re more likely (although not guaranteed) to succeed if we give something our best effort.

When affirmations are disconnected from reality, they are ridiculous at best and destructive at worst. When they are reality-based, they encourage us and support us in pursuing and achieving our goals.

TAS: What kinds of results have you witnessed? Are you able to share any anonymous success stories that really demonstrate the power of RC?

DMS: Practicing RC is a very effective way of improving your life. I’ve seen many example of people making positive changes in their relationships, at work, in overcoming addictions and in developing self-esteem. I’ve had a few patients whose marriages were in crisis and through the practice of RC, they are now in a much better place.

I had one patient who was being exploited and disrespected at work, even though they were an excellent employee. Through the practice of RC they’ve become a lot more strategic in the workplace, and while they continue to do excellent work, they are now setting appropriate limits on what is asked of them as well as commanding respect from supervisors and colleagues.

TAS: Where does RC go from here? Do you feel like the concept is fully developed or ever-evolving?

DMS: I see RC as an ever-evolving way of thinking and being. As I evolve as a person, and as the people who are using it evolve, we’ll be able to see where we can take this philosophy of empowerment, personal responsibility, self-accountability and integrity.

Rigid ideology tends to devolve into dogma; even fanaticism. I want RC to be a living, breathing philosophy that can grow and develop as we do. In order to be valid, it must be able to tolerate questioning and be amenable to change.

TAS: Yes. We have seen dogma and fanaticism result from many well-meaning philosophies in the past. Does RC have a future beyond this generation? Do you see it as a movement or philosophy that will transcend your current work? Are there other teachers learning and teaching it? Does someone need to be in counseling or a group to practice it or can someone practice on his or her own?

DMS: RC is in its nacent form, and it’s my hope that more and more people will begin to embrace it and experience the benefit of practicing it. Like any new movement, people need to find out about it and I plan on giving seminars (webinars) and workshops in the near future to teach people how to apply the principles of RC in their daily lives.

I don’t think that RC needs to be learned or taught in a therapeutic setting, but I do believe that whoever teaches it must be very well-versed in the theory and practice, in order that they neither dilute nor distort the message. Along the same lines, those who want to learn it must be sincere, open-minded and well-taught, so that they don’t go off with a partial or confused understanding of the principles of RC.

TAS: If TAS readers are interested in learning more about RC or your work, how can they do that?

DMS: TAS readers are welcome to visit my website: http://www.ruthlesscompassioninstitute.com where they can view videos and read articles about the practice of RC. The “About” section of the site also discusses the meaning and purpose of RC. I am on Twitter: @rcinstitute, where I regularly tweet original content that represents my philosophical point of view.

TAS: Marcia, thank you so much. We look forward to hearing more about RC in the future.

Positive and Negative Thought – The Affirmation Spot for Thursday March 4, 2010

Today’s Thought:

Positive thinkers don’t see the world through rose-colored glasses. They see rose-colored opportunities in the real world.

Today I wanted to share a brief video I found on YouTube describing the way positive and negative thoughts work in our lives. I thought it was particularly well-written and the music a nice escape too. The author is Harold W. Becker and the video is posted to the thelovefoundation channel on YouTube.

They have a number of outstanding videos on various aspects of love.

Handling Negative Thoughts

One of the keys to transforming and transcending our negative thoughts is to recognize them. CALL is a technique I have used for years and have spoken about before on this blog.

CALL Your Negative Thoughts

If your thoughts are very destructive and involve hurting yourself or others, get professional help.
Here are four things you can do to handle and live more harmoniously with common negative thoughts. They form the word CALL.
  1. Counter – counter your negative thoughts with tools like affirmations. Persistent negative thoughts can be countered and changed by offering a positive alternatives.
  2. Accept – accept that you will have negative thoughts and it’s OK. You’re human after all. No beating yourself up.
  3. Listen – listen to your negative thoughts. They may provide insight into where you need to focus your self-improvement efforts.
  4. Laugh – some of your negative thoughts really are pretty funny when you get enough perspective. Lighten up and see the humor in the way your mind works.

I’m not saying don’t try to transform your negative thoughts into something positive. I’m just saying that when they want to come out and play, CALL allows you to say, “Bring it on!”

Expanding Positive Thoughts

Developing a positive outlook on life has many of the same characteristics as a diet or an exercise program.

  • Motivated to change – until you see negative or demotivated thinking as a problem in your life, you are not going to commit to change. You must commit yourself to chaning the way you think and react to things.
  • Stay on the program – if you begin an exercise program, you will reap the benefits of it only as long as you continue exercising. If you stop, your muscles will atrophy and your fitness level will drop to previous levels. Replacing negative thinking with a positive outlook works in much the same way. It requires an ongoing commitment and you will see the benefits only for as long as you work at it. If you don’t provide constant positive fuel and apply techniques that work for you, the negative thoughts can return. Face it, we live in society where there is a lot of negativity and fear perpetuated for a number of reasons. If you don’t take charge of your own thinking, it is easy to fall into the societal malaise.
  • Keep the end in mind – when someone goes on a diet they are going to be successful as long as they continue to visualize their life at the goal weight. What happens along the way, often, is the demons of the present take control and steer the person off course. The dieter falls back into old habits and the diet fails. A positive thinking program has the same pitfall. Especially when you are using positive thinking to improve a certain area of your life, it is critical to keep the end result in mind. Your old negative thought patterns are going to rise up and try to get you off course. In fact, the closer you get to your goal, the more intense they may become. The only way through this gauntlet is to keep moving step by step in your new, positive direction.
  • Believe – you have to believe that change is possible. You have to believe that by using affirmations or other positive thinking approaches you can change your life and your mind. Without the belief, the commitment to reach your goal is not going to be there.
  • Accept incremental success – change of any kind in life is a process not an event. Know that you are going to have negative thoughts and doubts. Know that a certain amount of it is just incurable human nature. Commit yourself to keep moving forward and replace those negative thoughts with something positive.
  • Claim your victory – reward your successes along the way and the big win that is your destination. Through hard work and a commitment to see the you and the world that are possible, you can change your outlook from negative to positive.

Stay focused! Stay positive!

Ray

2010 Affirmation

“2010 is MY year! This is the year I break free! This is the year I break through! This is the year I break out!”

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What Would You Say? – The Affirmation Spot for Wednesday March 3, 2010

Today’s Affirmation:

I CAN! YOU CAN! WE CAN!

A good friend comes to you. He is going through a bad stretch at work. He shares some doubt in his ability and in his career choice. He says he feels drawn to another career, but he is afraid to take the risk. He wants someone to tell him he’s not crazy to pursue his dream.

What would you say? You’re a great friend. You’d probably have some insightful advice. Maybe you’d reassure him that he is capable of succeeding in his current career and that things will improve. Maybe you’d encourage him to do what is necessary to pursue that dream.

What wouldn’t you say? You wouldn’t tell your friend he’s a loser. You wouldn’t tell your friend he should get real, buck it up and get over it.

Your daughter comes to you and expresses doubt that she will ever find the right man for her. Her confidence is shaken by a recent relationship. She is really down on herself. She wonders out loud if anyone will ever want to be with her.

What would you say? You’re a great parent. You’d probably remind your daughter of all the great qualities she possesses. You’d tell her there are a lot of great guys out there and she will find the one who is right for her.

What wouldn’t you say? You wouldn’t tell your daughter that she’ll never find a man. You wouldn’t point out every her every flaw. You wouldn’t say things to further damage her confidence.

Yes, you’re a great friend and a great parent. You’d support your friend. You’d support your daughter.

Why would you do less for yourself?

You’re great a giving good advice and showing support for others. Be willing to do the same for yourself! Take your own advice. Give yourself the support you deserve with your self-talk. Give the beat yourself up routine a rest. Others in your life benefit from your wisdom, compassion, and love. Don’t deny it to yourself.

Stay inspired!

Ray

2010 Affirmation

“2010 is MY year! This is my year to break free! This is my year to break through! This is my year to break out!”