FIONA REILLY: “Four Tips for Effective Listening”

The gift of being heard is something really precious. Having someone listen attentively to our expression or story is very healing and can enable us find our own understanding, acceptance, balance and joy again. Listening sounds like a very simple thing and indeed it is, yet many of us struggle to listen effectively. Being a good listener requires being present and fully attentive to the other. It is not about offering advice or fixing anything or making the other feel better, it’s simply being there and paying attention.

 

“Whatever life we have experienced, if we can tell our story to someone who listens, we find it easier to deal with our circumstances.”

~Margaret J. Wheatley

 

Four Tips for Effective Listening

So how might we listen more effectively… there are many things that can help! Below I outline four suggestions that I have found to be fundamental to good listening.

Be Present

Initially, it is vital to be present and with the speaker, to give them our full attention. If possible find a quiet place for a listening exchange where you are unlikely to be disturbed. Turn off phones and any background noise. Honour your boundaries, if you feel you only have 20 minutes to listen, say so at the beginning so the boundaries are clear or explain that now is a not a good time and arrange to connect when the time is right. To the best of your ability come from a place of acceptance and compassion and avoid judgement of them or their story. Be fully attentive to them and the energy between you.

 

“Listening is such a simple act. It requires us to be present, and that takes practice, but we don’t have to do anything else. We don’t have to advise, or coach, or sound wise. We just have to be willing to sit there and listen.”

~Margaret J. Wheatley

 

Simply Listen

Many of us want to try to fix and make things better for the other person, yet the most beneficial way is for them to work through whatever is arising and to find their own solutions. The way to help someone feel better is to encourage them to be with their pain or confusion or whatever their experience is, to explore it and then they may feel empowered to move through it. Telling someone they need to be strong or things will get better or something similar isn’t effective longterm and can be disempowering. So try not to fix the situation or offer solutions unless they are invited. When listening our purpose isn’t to make a person feel better, simply by having their experiences heard in a non-judgemental and accepting way can allow things to shift and heal.

 

“The human soul doesn’t want to be advised or fixed or saved. It simply wants to be witnessed — to be seen, heard and companioned exactly as it is.”

~Paul Parker

 

Focus On the Speaker’s Perspective

While it’s useful to be able to identify with their experience, telling someone of your similar experience is not usually helpful, so try not to habitually compare their situation to one that you have experienced. It is of course fine if you are having a two way conversation, however if you want to encourage a person to explore their experience, your story isn’t what they need to hear, at least not until they have worked through their own stuff. It can take from what the speaker is saying and turns the attention away from them. Occasionally it may be appropriate to share your own experience, use your intuition on when that feels right. You could check with the speaker if they’d like you to share what happened to you, though mostly I find it best to stay with what the speaker is sharing.

In order to acknowledge their experience and what they have shared, you can reflect back to them what you heard them say, for example “You felt very angry when that happened”. Such a reflection does a number of things, it shows that you are listening, that their feelings or expressions are valid and enables them to go into more depth around the issues. In focussing on the other person you may notice the subtleties of body language, tone of voice… etc., which can sometimes indicate more than their words and again if appropriate you can reflect back what you notice.

Don’t engage in a drama or exaggerate the situation, sometimes what is being shared may arise feelings in you, acknowledge these internally though put them aside you can always return to explore them yourself at a more appropriate time.

Become Comfortable With Silences

For many silences or gaps in conversation cause discomfort and they rush to fill the quietness with something. However allowing a silence lets the speaker know that you are there for them and ready to listen when they are ready to speak. Speaking in order to break a silence usually ends up in directing the speaker in a different direction, than what may have otherwise arose next. If you do feel to ask questions, do so for clarity and understanding. The facts or details usually don’t matter. If you do feel to ask questions try to keep them open ended, you could you phrases like “How was that for you?” to encourage more disclosure or as I mentioned earlier reflect back what you have just heard.

Acknowledge Pain

This is an excellent video relating to how to support a grieving friend and the principles offered could be used with other challenging situations, not only grief. The way to help someone feel better is to encourage them to be with their pain, to explore and accept it and then they may feel empowered to move through it.

 

“One of the easiest human acts is also the most healing. Listening to someone. Simply listening. Not advising or coaching, but silently and fully listening.”

~Margaret J. Wheatley

 

With loving gratitude for all those who have shown me how to listen well and for my continued learning. I wish you well with your listening explorations,

Fiona

 

~via WakeUp-World.com

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MATEO SOL: “12 Signs You’ve Lost Your Authenticity and Are ‘Selling Out'”

Authenticity is a big buzzword these days.

“Be more authentic,” “honor your authenticity,” “find your authentic self” — we hear these phrases scattered all over the internet and spoken about everywhere.

But what does being authentic mean? And most importantly, how can we tell when we’re being inauthentic — also known as “selling out”?

What is Authenticity?

Authenticity is the state of simply being yourself, listening to who you really are, and making decisions that align with your beliefs and values. Authenticity at its core is about deeply accepting all that is ‘you’ and honoring it above ALL else.

What is Inauthenticity (i.e. Selling Out)?

Inauthenticity, on the other hand, is about placing external things above your genuine values, needs, dreams, and artistic vision. When we ‘sell ourselves out’ we are essentially placing all of the most important parts of ourselves up for auction. Instead of making decisions based on our genuine beliefs, values, and personal style, we make decisions based on how much money, attention, fame, or acceptance we will gain from other people.

Examples of Authenticity vs. Inauthenticity

Sometimes reading examples helps to flesh out abstract concepts like authenticity. Here are a few examples taken from real life:

An artist has been contacted by a large publishing agency. They would like to mass produce her art but on the one condition that she change the titles and descriptions. Deep down, the artist knows that the titles and descriptions of her art are intrinsic to her work. She refuses the publishing agencies offer. She has made an authentic choice.

A father sees how gifted at writing his teenage son is. But instead of encouraging his son to pursue a career in writing, the father pressures his son to study business and accounting because it is the “safe” choice. The son then dutifully studies business and accounting in university. Both father and son have made inauthentic decisions.

A life coach who specializes in online mentoring wants to grow her business. In order to get more clients, she focuses solely on what is trendy and popular and writes/talks about those topics. She begins to lose touch with her original vision. She has become inauthentic.

A company is pressured by investors and shareholders to change its philosophy in order to be more “hip,” appeal to the new generation and make more profit. The company refuses to compromise their philosophy. They have made an authentic decision.

12 Signs You’ve Lost Your Authenticity and Are Selling Out

We are not perfect people. Perfection is an illusion. Therefore, it is guaranteed that at some point in your life, you will make an inauthentic decision that compromises your values, vision, or beliefs. It’s just part of being human!

Although we can’t be perfect, we can strive to be more conscious. Self-awareness and honesty are the two key qualities we need to prevent ourselves from slipping into bad choices.

If you’re concerned that you might be “selling out,” read the signs below. They will help to either confirm or challenge your feelings:

  • Your top priority is making bucket loads of money

  • You’re obsessed with getting new followers, fans or subscribers (e.g. on social media)

  • You let others make decisions for you

  • You let others dictate who you are + who you ‘should’ be

  • You follow the crowd and do what everyone else is doing

  • You always follow trends even if they don’t make sense to you

  • You reveal only what makes you look good

  • You copy other people and their style/lifestyle

  • You ignore your gut feelings and intuition

  • You wear a mask around others
    You’re scared to be vulnerable and express your true feelings, thoughts, or values (which may be unpopular)

  • You make decisions based on how much attention, fame, money or acceptance you’ll receive rather than your genuine beliefs, values, or vision

Take a few thoughtful moments to make a serious assessment of the list above. Evaluate each point with an honest heart.

How many can you relate to?

How to Stop Selling Out

 

“Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.”

~B. Brown

 

I want to make a clear distinction here. There is a difference between selling yourself and selling out.

Selling yourself, in business and career fields, is about highlighting your genuine strengths and gifts, and offering those to the world. Selling out, on the other hand, is about compromising your personal integrity and letting external things drive you instead of internal qualities.

Also, not everyone has the liberty of making authentic decisions — but I want to emphasize that these situations are literally survival situations. For example, if a small business owner from an impoverished country was approached by a wealthy businessman who wanted to invest in and change his company, do you think it would be smart to decline? In certain environments and situations, making choices that go against our creative vision is essential in order to survive. But if you’re blessed to live in more fortunate circumstances where you’re not literally faced with starvation or anything else equally serious, then making authentic decisions is an intelligent way to live life.

Why is being authentic intelligent? Because you are listening to your heart and nurturing your soul. Money, fame, adoration, and approval from others will quench your ego’s need for safety and control — but that only lasts for so long. Soon, you will be left with a big, empty, gaping hole inside. The true joy, inner peace, and fulfillment come when you are living your truth and putting your essence out into the world.

So how do you let your essence — your passions, perspectives, and values — guide you? Here are some ideas; many of which I have discovered across my own authenticity journey:

1. Pay attention to how the decisions you make feel physically. Do you feel uncomfortable, heavy or dark sensations? Or does your body feel light and energized? Unlike the mind, the body cannot lie. Your body is the best lie detector out there. If you are about to make a decision that does not align with your values, your body will immediately feel and express that. Pay attention to warning signs such as heaviness in the heart area, tensed muscles, lightheadedness, cold shivers, and even physical cringing. Your physical warning signs will be unique to you (and can’t all be listed here), so search for them diligently.

2. Get your priorities straight. At the end of the day, what will TRULY fulfill you? Think about this question very carefully. Will you ultimately be happy with truckloads of followers, clients, money, or a lavish lifestyle, without feeling like you’ve stayed true to yourself? Money is important, don’t get me wrong. But how much money do you actually need in order to be happy and feel fulfilled? You might also like to explore what your main driving forces are: are you driven by power, success, fame, wealth or your individual and unique style, talents, passions, visions, and desires to make an impact? Focus on nailing down your main motivating force and ask yourself, “Is this healthy? Is this aligned with who I truly am?”

3. Explore inauthentic areas in your life. Intentionally carve out time and space to assess your life – that might even mean just sitting here as you’re reading this article and doing a bit of quiet reflecting. Think about areas in your life that you’re unhappy with. Have you lost your authentic voice in that area … or is the issue something else altogether? This process takes honesty. Write down every choice, commitment, and behavior that feels out of alignment with your deepest passions, perspectives, and values.

4. Make the hard choices. Once you’ve identified the inauthentic areas of your life, it’s time to act. You will need to carve out a plan — possibly multiple plans — to regain a sense of personal integrity. Ask yourself questions such as, “What must absolutely go and what can stay?” “What is true to me and what is false?” “What options do I have?” “What is the potential loss and gain in this situation?” “What is the best scenario and worst scenario?” “What is my plan A and plan B?” “What am I clinging to for dear life?” Use a tool like journaling to help you get out your thoughts, feelings, and plans in a coherent, organized, and structured way.

5. Integrate the experience with self-compassion. Once you have made the necessary change, it’s time for reflection. How did it feel to make such big (or small) changes? What parts of you felt threatened? What did you find it easy to let go of and difficult to surrender? How does it feel to walk your own genuine path? How can you avoid making inauthentic decisions in the future? These are all the kind of vital questions you’ll benefit from asking and exploring. Most importantly, integration is about accepting our humanness and all the frailty that comes along with it. Embrace your mistakes, forgive yourself, and let your hard-earned lessons make you stronger and wiser.

In this loud, confusing, and overwhelming world, it can be easy to slip into the role of selling out your integrity and authenticity to gain power, fame, or money. We are bombarded with messages from the media, social media, our colleagues, and even our friends and family members to be anything other than what we are. But in order to live fulfilled and soul-driven lives, we need to put a firm foot down. We need to learn when to say “no” and forcefully draw the line and protect our integrity.

I hope this article has inspired you to preserve your artistic vision, inner values, or deeply held passions. What makes life beautiful is how unique and varied it is. I hope you share your own unique flavor of authenticity with the world!

What is your experience with selling out? Do you have any tips to share surrounding integrity and authenticity?

Finally, I’ll leave you with a final quote. Tell me in the comments, do you agree or disagree with this statement below?

“It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not.”

~Andre Gide

 

~via WakeUp-World.com

ANDY WHITELEY: “10 Life Lessons You Can Learn From Your Cat”

As we grow to adulthood, we humans learn to override many of our natural tendencies. We “socialize” our children, and teach them to “behave” and resist many of their natural impulses. By the time we’re adults most of us are so disconnected from nature, and from our own nature, that we accept “adult” roles and responsibilities that pay the bills but stifle us, rub us the wrong way and even cause harm to each other and our environment.

Somewhere along the line, we lose touch with the simple wisdom of our natural instincts.

Needless to say, there are many spiritual lessons we can learn from observing nature. Just under the surface, our animal instincts are still there, just waiting to be tapped into, and reactivated, and honored — and what better role models than the animals we love and share our lives and homes with?

Here are 10 life lessons you can learn from your cat:

 

1. Keep a curious spirit and approach uncertainty with a positive attitude.

2. Physical touch is natural, and vital for our well-being.

3. Get plenty of rest, and spend time soaking up the sun.

4. Show gratitude. All it takes is a purr, or a squinty smile.

5. Stretch regularly. It’s good for body and soul.

6. Live in the moment. There is only now.

7. Play. Play. Play. Play. Play!

8. A happy life is a simple life. All we really need is love, a full belly, and a quiet place to rest.

9. Let the inner wisdom of instinct and intuition guide you. If it doesn’t feel good, walk away.

10. Be fearless. Live like you’re on your ninth life.

 

~Dedicated to Gracie the cat, whose simple, loving approach to life inspired this article.

 

Artwork by Ascension Avatar 

“Foozie” (1976)

 

~via WakeUp-World.com

CONSCIOUS REMINDER: Staying Present In The Now — Here’s What You Can Do To Pursue Your Dreams”

Every one of you has probably noticed that regardless of how hard you try, you cannot make your long-run plans anymore. It just means that when you try even harder, you will probably make certain things happen.

However, today’s lives are not working in that way anymore. Instead of making plans and then working hard on them, you are guided to ask for someone to guide you and set your intentions about the following two or three steps towards that same intentions.

However, unless that guidance comes, nothing is going to work well, no matter what you do.

“Making the things work” ended.

The time of ‘making the things work’ has ended. Are you waiting for your guidance to show up? Are you permitting your life to open out just as it is going to? For a lot of people, this may seem like you are standing still.

However, when you remain still for a more extended period, you can notice that the approach does not mean not taking any action, but it is simply about staying here and be present, to every level of your knowing and being.

Staying very present is aware action.

When you stay present at every level means that you are taking conscious action. So, it will allow you to be right in that present moment — entirely.

It is going to put your focus here and right now. You will look toward your future, but you are not really overlooking what happens now, as you are quite busy as you focus on far off goals.

To be and remain present will allow your soul to come next to you entirely. So, this is the place from where guidance of everything you have to do appears — your soul.

Your soul wants to be the creator of your life.

Your soul wants to live inside you and through you. This is the reason why it creates the conditions which require you to widely open to it.

Also, that is why your soul drives the shift in your human experience. It wants to create your life with you. It also intends to be the co-creator of your life and even the rest of this world.

It seems like the soul has conspired. It does not let your long-term plan to work as you want, as it wants you to become more present and long enough, so it may come into you more entirely.

Deep breathing, meditating, or journalling are some things which you can do in order to connect with your soul and also become profoundly present. A lot of people do these things or take actions in this simple way.

What is going to happen when there is a specific thing waiting inside our imagination, and which desires to actually be born within us?

Usually, it may feel as our difficulties can make our dreams look like they are impossible to happen, so we will not believe that it will occur for us. Also, it can look like the ones that achieved higher levels of success actually have a better, to begin with than other people have.

But, success cannot come overnight, although every one of us has the chance to achieve it. When we faced tough times and struggles, most of us that were successful started bad and also experienced heartbreaking difficulties and struggles first, and that made us find the other self that transformed us.

So, at times we feel like we are not getting anywhere, we should not surrender, because the dream and idea were planted in our minds for some specific reason and it is all on us to show it — we can do it!

We should not get bitter, but get BETTER.

At a time of misfortune and rough times, we will probably think why us?

However, those times do not imply that we need to be stuck there forever. Tough and difficult times occur to every one of us, and the way we overcome those times is what later on determines our lives. Sometimes, such times can destroy us and lead us to take become addicts of drugs and alcohol. However, when such strong emotions may get focused on our purpose and dreams and gain a more constructive form, it will be time when every single thing may turn around.

A person named Helen Keller, the one that was born blind, deaf and dumb, and who marked the history of the great of life, is actually the evidence that regardless of the circumstances, a person can never be defeated.

 

“Every single failure or traumatic experience can come with a seed of equivalent success.”

~Napoleon Hill

 

The person who changed this whole world, as he invented cars, named Henry Ford, comes from a family that was uneducated and poor. However, he was working with everything he possessed, and he never waited for something to occur by chance. Instead, he followed his dreams, so the world also changed as a result of his great work. Moreover, Thomas Edison has failed about 10,000 or more times, without giving up of his dream.

There is just one difference between the ones that succeed and the ones that don’t, and that is never surrendering.

Here, we will present you the six steps to make your dreams become a reality.

The six steps for specific goals by Thomas Edison:

1. Focus on your mind and the most particular thing you desire.

2. Think about what would you like and try to do and give in order to get what you want.

3. Schedule the event.

4. Write openly about what you really want, put the right time, and mention what you have the intention to give — then, describe all that clearly.

5. Then, read that statement two times a day prior to going to sleep, and also when you wake up.

6. In the end, convince yourself about it being yours.

We are not supposed to wait for chance or luck, because everyone that succeeds what he or she wanted did that with great hope, and wishing and also mental work prior to acquiring it.

 

~via ConsciousReminder.com

FRACTAL ENLIGHTENMENT: “5 Signs You are Complicating Your Life”

Life is complicated. Relationships are complicated. Friendships are complicated. Life choices are complicated. Or are they? Is it possible that our excessive need to complicate life is just merely giving us something to do?

In our utter and complete fear of being bored are we perhaps overcomplicating every single thing in our life for the mere fact that it just gives us something to think about incessantly, or to complain about to our friends, or to distract ourselves from ourselves?

Could it be that our fragile little egos claim they want happiness, and inner peace, and simplicity from life situations but deep down are deathly afraid of this because in order to have true happiness and simple joy and uncomplicated relationships with others would mean the death of a majority of the jibber-jabber mind chatter that our ego spews out all day long?

Without over-thinking, worrying, complaining, and complicating everything to the point that we overanalyze every single situation the ego would lose 90% of its hold on us.

Our true self thrives in simplicity, in fact it is simplicity. It knows that anything outside of simplicity is merely our ego or false self begging for our attention.

As long as it has our attention we won’t pay attention to what is real and true… which is that we don’t need to spend so much time thinking about how we can go about achieving happiness. We already are happiness. We don’t need to spend all our time trying to get love from another person, we already are love.

As long as the ego can overcomplicate every situation to the point that we don’t see that all is well and perfect, it has already won. But the reality of the situation is, it doesn’t have to be this way.

As Confucius said, “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”

Here are five ways you may be making your life more complicated than it needs to be:

1) You live in your head too much

Our minds are constantly trying to make sense of everything. They are going over every single “what if?”, “why did they do that?”, “what does this all mean?” so much so that they forget that all of life is happening in the present moment.

Literally only this present moment exists. So mulling over past conversations, or stressing about future events literally just drives us mad. We spend hours playing out scenarios in our head that have never happened and may or may not ever happen. We overthink everything that we are completely disconnected from what is real and the beauty of experiencing the present moment when it actually happens… in the present moment.

2) You want to make everyone happy all the time

Trying to please everyone might work every once in a while, but most of the time it will be an impossible feat. In order to please one person, it is inevitable that you will upset another person to some extent.

There will be times when everyone in your life is going to have their own opinion on how you should live yours, so trying to satisfy them all would be undoable. How about you just do what makes you happy?

Yes some people will have something to say, or may be disappointed, but this is your life right? Once people in your life catch on that you have made yourself your first priority, they will be less inclined to ask you to go out of your way just to please them.

Also, they won’t be so shocked when you tell them “no” instead of desperately trying to prevent them from being upset by just doing exactly what they tell you to.

3) You believe your perception of life is the absolute truth

Here’s a secret: Your perception does not equal truth, it only means just that… YOUR perception. So the cashier at the store isn’t necessarily a rude witch, just because you perceived her that way. Did it occur to you that maybe she is dealing with a problem in her personal life? And the girl/guy you went on a date with isn’t necessarily an insensitive jerk.

Maybe they’ve had a really difficult childhood and they don’t know how to open up to people very easily. Regardless of the situation, we must realize that there are always two sides to every coin.

When we stop convincing ourselves and others that we know exactly what is going on in other people’s heads and why they act the way they do, we stop wasting so much time judging, complaining and criticizing others.

We simply see things and people as they are, without imposing our own little story on them which may or may not be anywhere near the actual truth.

4) You don’t trust that there is a higher intelligence at work

Whether you call it the universe, or God, or Source, or the all that is, there is a force that is working behind the scenes in every single aspect of our lives. There is never a moment that we are separate from its presence because in all actuality we come from it, meaning we ARE it, just a tiny little slice of it.

Our feeble little minds can’t comprehend this, so because of that we try to make our own plans and agendas on how things in our life will go. News flash: things rarely go the way we thought they would, right?

This is because the higher intelligence knows what’s best for us, even though we are convinced we know. The higher intelligence sees a bigger picture, it knows the reason your car wouldn’t start today was because there was going to be huge collision on the highway right when you would have been driving on it.

Accept and surrender to whatever it brings to you or brings you to. It is always giving you exactly what you need in any given moment, your only assignment is to: TRUST

5) You’re not honest with yourself

This is a big one and actually a lot harder than it seems mainly because so many of us hide ourselves from ourselves so much that we don’t even know what the truth is anymore. Believe it or not a lot of people are comfortable in their misery. They have become so accustomed to it that the mere thought of not having something to be miserable about sounds like the scariest thing ever. So they fool themselves.
admire the simple beauty in life
They rationalize, justify, and make excuses of why they still need to work at the job that they feel sucks the soul out of them, or they need to continue to cling on to an addiction of whatever the object of their desire is.

As long as they can evade actually being honest with themselves, which 9 times out of 10 is that they are afraid, they can stay comfortably unhappy. This for some reason sounds better than simply admitting that whoever or whatever or wherever is never going to bring them any closer to the happiness they claim they want.

Life really doesn’t need to be hard. In fact, when we start to simplify it we realize that the simple life is where true joy and happiness actually lives. We take things and people at face value. We trust the process of life and don’t overanalyze everyone and everything. So, if you do anything, do this… keep it simple.

 

~via FractalEnlightenment.com