Intentions vs Expectations

Harvard Professor Dr Robert Rosenthal[1] set up a study that involved 300 children who had equal academic abilities. The children were divided into two groups. One group of students was given to teachers who were told the children were all high achievers. The other teachers were told that the children were underachievers. By the end of the year it was found that both groups lived up to the labels that were placed upon them. The high achievers were doing very well while the class of underachievers were doing below average work.

This is one example where expectations can determine a person’s perception of themselves so it’s only natural to assume that having high expectations is a good thing, they make us stretch ourselves, but there is a downside. High expectations can lead to criticism, of ourselves and others, when we fall short. When we shame ourselves for failing it only makes matters worse.

Rules are expectations we place upon ourselves and others. Some people have rules around the way they should look, the home or area they should live in, the work they do, how successful they should be, or whether they should be married or not by a certain age. In these instances expectations create stress and they make it harder to succeed because they come from a place of judgement.

Intentions on the other hand are what we intend to create or achieve. They indicate preferences that do not have expectations attached to them. If we succeed then obviously we will be happy that we attained our goal. If we don’t succeed in the way, or time frame that we imagined, we are flexible enough to adapt with what is. We flow with life and often life takes us in a different direction to what we imagine.

When ego controls our choices and actions, we need to achieve our goals, it’s a matter of saving face, or proving we are good enough.

Intentions represent our dreams, the ideal life we would like to live. Even when we aren’t  clear on how we can achieve that dream, we are prepared to do whatever is necessary to bring it into our lives, BUT we also accept that we don’t always get what we want in the way that we want it. Setting intentions requires us to act as if we have faith and trust.

There are many famous figures such as Oprah and Louise Hay who never set out to achieve what they did, they just did what they felt led to do. Anita Roddick, founder of the Body Shop, started her business to provide a living for herself and her children while her husband was trekking across the Americas. She ended up creating an international chain of stores that supported human rights.

Intentions are fluid, they clearly state what we would like in life but aren’t attached to the outcome. We are open that life may have different plans for us, often bigger plans than we ever imagined. We accept 100% responsibility for our own happiness, which is not based on having your expectations fulfilled, and we remain open as to how our dreams will manifest.

Expectations can be ego based, they represent our self worth. Intentions are neutral and are separate to us.

When we think about what we want all of the time, our focus is usually on what’s missing.  When we act as if we have faith, even when we don’t feel particularly confident, and accept 100%  responsibility for achieving our dreams, we live in the moment and have a more balanced perspective of the world.

Expect the best by all means, just be flexible and open as to how and when opportunities will show up.

[1] The Self Fulfilling Prophecy article, http://www.drmadelinedaniels.com/2007/02/07

Building resilience

Motivation is desire, a feeling of excitement that inspires us to take action. A shift occurs when we change the way see things. Resilience is the ability to pick ourselves up when life challenges us and keep moving. Focus on developing all three and you become an unbeatable force.

It’s easy to be happy when life is flowing smoothly. It’s easy to stay motivated when we make progress. And it’s easy to be positive and take action when we believe, but what challenges most of us are the times when we make no progress, when nothing seems to be happening, or when we lose someone or feel hurt by someone important to us.

Motivation dies during tough times and this is when so many people give up on their dreams. To create permanent change we need to create a shift in the way we perceive events so we can become more resilient. Tough times are a necessary part of life. They build character. We still need motivation, it helps to get us started but when we shift our perspective, we become more open minded, we are willing to do things differently, to look within, to BE different. A shift helps us grow and builds resilience.

And that is why I love life coaching so much. A good life coach can help a client shift their perspective. Help them recognise what is holding them back, see the opportunities that are right in front of them to be more and do more.

Your emotions show you what you need to let go of

No one will feel happy, positive or inspired all of the time. We all experience down times. Emotions shine a light on what we need to strengthen, and show us what we need to let go of.

Giving up is an abdication of responsibility. True surrender is a deepening of responsibility. It is relaxing into what is while asking yourself what do I need to do to move forward.

Sometimes moving forward is hard, when my son died I was in such intense emotional pain I didn’t think I could survive. Just the thought of getting through each day felt overwhelming, my motivation to keep going was to support my daughter and to end the pain, so I focused on each minute. What I practised, without realising it, was being mindful. As each day went by the minutes extended and I would go for longer periods without feeling as if I was going to shatter. Over time I started finding joy in little things until I got to a point where I felt alive again. A shift had occurred in me and I discovered that I was wiser and stronger than I ever thought possible.

Make a list of your strengths

Our strengths, or potential strengths, support us during tough times. Often we don’t recognise our strengths and that’s because they can be closely allied with our weaknesses. When I was younger you just had to tell me I couldn’t do something and I would silently vow to myself to do it. This is how I gave up smoking a long time ago. While this may not appear to be a strength so much of what I have overcome or achieved came about because of the vows I made to myself. I was told I could not write well enough to ever be a writer, the same with being a speaker, I didn’t agree with my critics and I set out to show them I could. Now while that may not be the best form of motivation if it works for you use it. It’s always about how we act upon our strengths that determines if they support us. I am a problem solver, but if I get too stuck in finding a solution, I end up resisting what is. If I spend too much time taking care of others I burn out, so it’s about acting on our strengths in a way that supports us and for me that means pausing and reflecting as if I am a wise person. As I am naturally impulsive pausing before I jump into something thinking it will be the solution to all of my problems saves me from making costly mistakes.

There are time when life sucks. You resist what is every time you blame and complain. Life gets easier when you look at difficult times as an opportunity to create something better. You have a lot more power than you give yourself credit for. If you are stuck in a job you don’t like – change it. If you are in a relationship you aren’t happy in – set boundaries, seek professional help and when you have tried everything and nothing works, move on. If you are trying to build a business and it’s not working – seek advice or coaching from someone who can help you. If you don’t have enough money look for ways to increase your income. I only ended up in business because I couldn’t find a way, as a single woman with children, to achieve my goals in the paid work force, which led me to achieving more than I expected.

Most people have more strengths than they realise, just have a look at this list to see how many strengths you have, and add your own if it’s not included here:

Creativity

Curiosity

Open mindedness

Willingness

Determination

Love of learning

Courage

Being able to see things from different points of view

Persistence

Kindness

Integrity

Energy

Positivity

Optimism

Leadership

Diplomacy

Emotional or intellectual intelligence

Forgiveness

Humility

Gratitude

Self control

Discipline

Humour

Light heartedness

Peacemaking

We often hear that the younger generation are not resilient, and that is partly because they have grown up with more than previous generations, but life gives everyone equal opportunities to become more resilient, sometimes they come in a different shape to what we expect.

I would not be who I am today if I had not made the choice to look for the good in every experience. Being an optimist is a strength which has become part of my personal calling. Pause for a moment and consider your life challenges and ask yourself, who is life calling you to be right now?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Searching for more

Traditionally the major birthdays in life are when we turn 18 or 21, but birthdays should never be just about the number, the most important ones motivate us to pause, question and reflect. The life changing birthdays for me were 30, 50 and very recently when I turned 70.

We often hear people say at the beginning of a new year or when a birthday comes around, ‘Well this is going to be the year….’. Generally, what they mean by that is it will be a year when something external changes such as when they find a life partner, work they like, achieve a financial goal or attain a longed for dream. And while I encourage everyone to go after what they want in life it’s important to remember that the attainment of goals only makes us feel happy for a while.

It’s only natural that during our early adult lives we embark on a search for ‘more’. That search motivates us to choose who we want to be and what we want to do with our lives and that discovery process takes time and how long that will take is purely individual.

What I now know having survived turning 30, 50 and 70 is that while I like material possessions and even achievements, I no longer need them.

I expected that getting older would mean that life would be easier, and in some ways it is, I don’t care much what people think and I have more money, but there are always new challenges. I don’t have the energy level I once had. I am not as physically capable. I have to delegate more which isn’t always easy for someone as independent as I am. And there are still people who push my buttons. But I’m alive. I’m working. I am making a difference. I like who I am. I don’t need anyone’s approval. I don’t need ‘more’.

I am never going to be a person who sits back and says, ‘I’ve done all I want to do with my life’, for me as long as I draw breath I need to be sharing what I have learnt.

When I look back at the person I was at 30, I was so scared because I wasn’t married. All of my dreams were attached to the attainment of that one goal, and it is one goal that I never achieved. Yet I have no regrets. What life gave me was exactly what I needed to grow into the strong, independent person I am today. My life turned out so much better than I had planned for myself.

My advice to the 30 year old me, and to you, is: Believe in yourself. Trust life. Follow your heart. Life’s dream for you is far grander than anything you can imagine and it will happen when you stop chasing ‘more’ and trying to dictate the direction your life will go in.

Acceptance + Faith Creates Miracles

I have been blessed to experience many miracles in my life and most of them occurred after a period of struggle which led to total and complete acceptance. I have written about and taught the benefits of being an accepting person for many years but it wasn’t until I lived through a really stressful period in my own life that I fully understood what it meant.

At one time the stress in my life reached a point where I simply had to escape for a short while, so I made a spur of the moment decision to hop on a plane to visit Sedona, one of my favourite places in Arizona. A few days later, after a long flight from Sydney, I checked into a spiritual retreat centre.

This centre has the most amazing energy. On my first morning I stood on my veranda at dawn as the sun rose and I felt as if my spirit had wings and was soaring over the hills. I experienced a state of ecstasy where I felt so connected to the red hills, the Earth and to God that all I could say was, “Thank you.” I loved everything about the place and I knew I was exactly where I needed to be to regain my equilibrium.

Over the next two days I felt emotionally at peace but physically ill and I became aware that I felt really nauseous whenever I was in my cabin and I started to improve when I was out in the fresh air. The cabin smelt strongly of linseed oil, which gives me migraines.

When I heard that a couple were checking out I immediately checked with the office about switching cabins, but my request led to an eviction order by the owner. I very graciously explained that I wasn’t complaining or unhappy and I wasn’t blaming anyone, I just needed a room that didn’t have fumes but I was told in no uncertain terms to leave. After finding a safe haven, then being unfairly evicted for asking for a better room I reached breaking point. I felt there was nothing more I could do and nowhere I could go to find inner peace. I felt that life was so unfair and that I was being unjustly being attacked for no reason, not just by the owner, but by someone at home.

That moment was a turning point. I knew that if I ever wanted to experience joy, and have any quality of life, I had to accept the things that I couldn’t change and that meant I had to stop complaining. I had to stop looking to change the situation. I had to learn to become comfortable with a situation that was unacceptable to me. Becoming an accepting person was hard—I struggled, and I still do at times, but I acted like an accepting person and by doing this I not only found peace but passion and purpose.

Life has presented me with opportunities, time and again, to accept what is and I believe that all surrender is, at its deepest level, is faith. It’s about putting the ego aside, accepting responsibility, doing what you can, then trusting that there is a reason for everything that happens.

I believe that every person who ‘pushes our buttons’ is our teacher. The man who owned the retreat centre became a catalyst for me to learn surrender. That moment of surrender led me to develop my personality archetypes which contain a map for the soul. While I’ve loved a lot of the work that I have done, spiritual coaching, helping others be the person they were born to be, is what I am most passionate about.

Every job we hate has the potential to motivate us to do what we were born to do. Every situation, even the most painful contains a gift for us.

WHAT ACCEPTANCE IS NOT

Acceptance does not mean resignation. Being an accepting person does not mean you sit back and accept that you have to put up with conditions that are unjust, or that you don’t look for solutions to your problems. But there is a big difference between being proactive and using force, or insisting that you have to have your way.

Acceptance is not denial. Some people think that if they don’t acknowledge their problems or, if they don’t think about them that they are accepting, in many cases all they are doing is repressing their emotions and the pain remains.

Miracles occur when you live your life as if you already have your heart’s desires. That doesn’t mean going out and spending money you don’t have, quitting a job you dislike, or walking away from your responsibilities. It’s about placing your attention on the daily habits, the little rituals you would participate in if you already had your heart’s desires. It’s about developing an attitude of gratitude for every single thing, even those things and people who challenge you. It is about surrendering to your purpose, understanding that God’s plan for your life may be bigger than your dream.

Acceptance brings peace. Faith is acting as if you have complete trust and confidence, even when you don’t feel confident. When you combine the two you move into an energy field where miracles occur.

Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.
Lao Tzu

 

 

 

When Fear Rules the World

When fear rules the world we see the worst in humanity. In looking to defend and protect ourselves we shut down, close ranks and often believe in the supremacy of a race or religion. We attack. First with our words and sometimes when words don’t achieve the desired outcome attack can take the form of violence. We saw this with Hitler when he rose to power in Germany. We hear of this regularly when we see the devastation and pain that radical terrorist groups leave in their wake. And now the land of the great, through their choice of president, has confirmed that they are now one of the most fearful nations in the world.

In his book Power vs Force the late Dr David Hawkins, a renowned scientist who measured the energy vibration of just about everything, stated that the world’s population predominantly vibrated in the field of fear, and that there were 12 people alive in the world at that time (the nineties) who were keeping the energy vibration above the level of fear. I suspect that at least four of those people, and possibly more, have since passed over.

So where does that leave us? If you believe in the predictions of Nostradamus, we are not in a good place, but we always have the power to change ourselves and the world around us.

We do this by raising our individual energy field by being courageous. Being mindful of how we respond on a daily basis. Being a centre of peace in a chaotic world by going within regularly. By focusing on happiness and the peaceful world we want to create, not what we want to change. And most importantly we do this by doing what we feel called to do.

The world isn’t changed by just one person, the greatest impact comes from the millions of individuals who collectively use their energy to commit to freedom and happiness. We do it by supporting, loving and caring for one another.

I am so grateful that I have committed to being an accepting person because it would be so easy to get caught up in fear right now. Accepting means that I accept what is, while working towards creating something meaningful.

Who knows what this event may motivate one person to do. Who knows how many people who have been stuck in their own fear and self doubt will put their fears aside to make a meaningful contribution.

You may think I am just one person but you are one person who counts. Let’s join together and not allow history to repeat itself. Let’s use this event as an opportunity to grow to our full potential and work collectively to create a better world.

The Best You

The headline, in Saturday’s Daily Telegraph, moved me to tears. It listed the number of people killed in recent terrorists attacks alongside the body of a child. Now most of us feel sad when we hear of such tragedies. Most people are compassionate. What most people don’t know though is that by being the best you it is possible to be, each one of us has the power to change the world around us.

Scientists at HeartMath discovered that energy from angry, fearful and depressed people can be influenced by positive emotions. Emotions such as care, compassion, love and other positive emotions are transmitted through an individual’s cardioelectromagnetic field and transferred to others in close proximity, and possibly over longer distances. In simple terms that means that the more caring, compassionate, loving and happier you can be every single day, you will exert a positive influence on the people around you.

What takes us all off track is our emotions. We react to what other people say. We make choices based on what other people think, rather than on what we really want. We allow fear to prevent us from doing what makes us happy. We fall into despair sometimes wallow in our misery. All this does is keep the world on the same old treadmill it has always been on.

To change the world, you need to step up and be counted not just as a nice, compassionate person, but by being the best you it is possible to be.

During the late nineties I made a choice that had the most profound influence on my life, I made a commitment to being a loving, kind and generous person. Those values represented the ideal person I wanted to be at that time.

One day while having lunch in a fast food chain, a kid started kicking the back of my chair. When I looked around and noticed a Muslim woman in a hijab I made a judgement, then I caught myself. In my mind I forgave the woman and child, I forgave myself for being so judgmental and I smiled at them as I left. A few days later someone ran into the back of my car while I sat at a traffic light, my first reaction was anger, then I remembered who I wanted to be. I got out of my car and smiled at the other driver, and treated him with respect.

As I continued doing this over the coming weeks I became aware just how negative and judgmental I had become, and how often I allowed my emotions to take me away from the life I wanted to live. As I made small but consistent changes I felt good about myself. I became more optimistic and within a very short space of time I went from being frustrated, angry and confused to feeling the most joyful I have ever felt.

On a practical level those changes flowed over to my work life and I went from working part time as a bookkeeper to ghost writing 3 books within a couple of months, those opportunities came to me completely out of the blue. I had been thinking of becoming a life coach and I took the plunge and started sharing what I had learnt with others, and without any preconceived ideas or expectations this sharing led to the creation of my training school. Within 12 months my income quadrupled and my life completely transformed – all because I chose to be the best me I could be.

Recently I noticed I was feeling irritable a lot of the time. Now the first thing most of us do is try to change what’s irritating us, but I know that only brings short term relief. My daughter reminded me that I wasn’t feeling free, which is my most important need. Once I addressed the cause the irritation left.

When thinking about values that could represent the ideal person you would like to be think about the overall legacy you would like to leave behind, that could be a legacy of joy, acceptance, peace, love, gratitude or compassion. Who I choose to be changes at different stages, but I feel my latest choice to be a loving, joyful, accepting person best represents the way I want to be remembered. This is who I choose to be on a daily basis and these values guide all of my choices. Another way to choose values is to look at what you react to in your daily life and choose values that will help you transcend those reactions.

Filling your needs and living by values, they are such simple yet powerful choices that make you happy and good about yourself. When you become the best you it’s possible to be at this time, your positive emotions will have a profound effect on the world around you. Just try it for one day.

This is how we can change the world. The power of ‘being’ is more powerful than anger, guns and retaliation. If you want a magic potion to change your life, and the world, all you have to do is work daily at being the best you.

 

I would love to hear what you are doing to change your world.