Holiday Heartache – Grieving at the holidays

For those of us who have lost a loved one right before the holidays, this time of year is not the happy and jolly times that commercials describe.  To this day, I like many of you really don’t have any desire to decorate anything.  The difficulty is that the world doesn’t stop revolving for any of us because of our loss.  The carols ring, the lights illuminate and the Santas are jolly.

As I write this blog, we’re one week away from Christmas.  I consider what this means to myself and others; and after discussing the subject with a client the other day I decided to address the stresses and the drama that the holidays can evoke in people.  Not necessarily from the perspective of self-improvement and discovery, which is usually the theme of my blogs and usually are directed toward individuals or businesses – no, this time it’s of a very personal nature of mine that allows me to relate.

Nine years ago my father died nine days before Christmas.  This seems to be extremely common that loved ones seem to die around the holidays and millions of people are impacted.

There are usually grieving loved ones left after someone passes on; but when near and around a holiday, the experience is inextricably connected to the holiday and year after year, these anniversaries continue to be the source of re-experienced grief.  It’s not that loved ones are ever forgotten but around a holiday?  It becomes something of much greater issue.

My loss was not unlike others who are having to again experience the loss within the next couple of weeks, in fact one important person in my life lost her mother on Christmas day.  Another friend had her mother pass a few weeks before and so on and so on.

For those of us who lost someone during this Christmas season it can be really tough.  And it’s not just Christmas morning that causes the pain either – the loss is connected to many of the traditions that families develop during the holidays.  My father was to have relatively simple surgery a few weeks before the holiday and the procedure would allow him to walk better.  This was considered to be such a safe procedure that my wife and I purchased tickets for a Caribbean cruise and we were taking my parents.  He was supposed to be able to dance again with my mother.

With great foresight my wife suggested that we put up the Christmas tree earlier than normally would be done, so that my father would be able to experience the tradition and not miss it while in recovery, and just in case something happened…

You see, putting the tree up was a BIG deal in my house growing up; it wasn’t stressful, as many people describe today.  My father was always in charge of putting the lights on, then all of us children would attach ornaments (those we had individually made) and my mother would put on the balls – you know those fragile ones that could break just by looking at them.  As kids, our goal was to live long enough and become old enough to be able to be trusted to put on those fragile ones.

Well, after growing up and having a family of my own, I continued the tradition – I as the father would put the lights on with care.  Done in such a manner that the lights would have a three dimensional glow and with such care that it would take three times as long to take off the lights as it did to put them on.  Then I would sit back and watch the kids put on the rest; again, carrying on the tradition.   Years later, and thankfully to my wife, my parents came and lived with us – the tradition wouldn’t change, I’d still do the lights.  My father seemed to sit and smoke his pipe watching the orchestra of tree assembly – he seemed to watch in pride – seeing the torch passed…

As you likely expected, my father never made it home that Christmas and we like many were stuck trying to have Christmas mean something to us all.  We all knew the true meaning of Christmas and always focused on this for ourselves and with the children but the traditions and joy of the family gathering, tradition and gift exchange was never to be the same again.  We struggled through for the kids but nothing was the same.

The essence of this is how do we deal with all of this?  How do we keep the pain of the past from permanently contaminating our ability to enjoy these occasions?  The answer could be to get back to basics, to get back to understanding the true meaning of Christmas.  It could be this but it’s not.  The fact is that because of how our emotional systems work, it is essentially impossible to eliminate the pain without just forgetting.  But do we really want to forget the ones we lost because the memory of their passing is so painful?  Generally not – I know I don’t.

The real secret of how to deal with this phenomenon is found in understanding how our emotional systems work.  Our emotionally, painful times are recorded in our memories as isolated occurrences but when they occur at a time surrounded by recurring events such as the traditions that occur during the holidays, the memories are re-experienced.

To further the difficulty, music has the tendency to cement memories even deeper within us.  Lastly, the sense of smell is considered to be the strongest sense that is tied to memories.  So… recurring experiences of tradition, music of carols AND smells of baking??  It’s the trifecta of the perfect storm of painful re-experience of painful memories.  So what do we do? … without forgetting our loved ones?

The secret is not in remembering the painful holidays following the passing, it is in re-experiencing the holidays with the loved ones.  I know this may seem too easy but try it.  Every time you here the carol that brings a tear to your eye or are saddened by decorating the tree – specifically recall as many holiday memories that include the loved one who is no longer with you.  If you keep doing this, your mind will begin to re-associate the events of the holidays with those newly recalled memories.

Our emotional system is a bizarre collection of systems and many of these emotions can be evoked from our loss.  This process is not meant to in any way lessen the importance of our loved ones – it is so that we can again enjoy our times, our traditions and our holiday.  This isn’t an overnight process but you must continue to take these steps.  It will work and you will again enjoy.

… Of course if you’re like me, sometimes – just sometimes, we want to experience the loss.  If you’re like me, it’s in the car when no one has to see you shed that tear… or two… or three.

Please share with those who might be helped with this blog.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all.

Posted in Discovery, Human Relations, Relationships | Leave a comment

The Origin, Essence and Application of Emotional Fear and its Application to Life and Business (Subtitle: Why the *&@# do we do what we do?)

… imagine the peace and self-acceptance that results from Discovery in our personal lives and within our relationships.  Imagine being able to truly hear what your partner is saying, rather than feeling that they are attacking you.  AND imagine how valuable it would be to know exactly how you need to say something so that your message is truly heard…

… imagine the benefits in business and in life after discovering the underlying fears of clients, partners or staff, of which they aren’t aware and that drives and motivates them on a daily basis.  AND by the way, it’s nearly impossible to discover this in others without having discovered it in yourself.

“Fear is like a sword and thus a tool; used outward it can slay 1,000 dragons, used inward it can kill but one.”

Whether I am working with Discovery Coaching Clients or doing a workshop, my clients are always amazed when they discover how greatly fear has impacted their lives.  One man discovers fear is the most basic underlying reason for why he hasn’t been able to find a fruitful and loving relationship.  A middle-aged woman discovers that fear is the underlying reason she has a very combative relationship with her teenaged daughter.  Yet another client understands now that fear is the essence behind his lack of production in his job in sales.  Or even when I work with an athlete to teach visualization skills; he discovers that the fear of uncertainty or ‘success’ is a major underlying limiter of his success.

It isn’t amazing to people that fear impacts their lives – discovering on what their fear is based is what amazes them.

A lot of people understand they are afraid and yet others are unaware.  But unfortunately many, if not most, are unaware of what they are actually afraid – on the most underlying level.  As an example, a man who struggles with approaching a pretty woman feels that he knows he is afraid of being rejected.  Included in this is the anticipation of embarrassment he will feel, the anxiety and the sense of failure.  Most certainly this is true and to many of you readers, obvious.  We’ve all heard about the Fear of Rejection, but is he truly afraid of being rejected?  Nobody likes being rejected but is this the entire essence of the fear?

Definitively – no.  The issue beneath this belief is how he unconsciously interprets the perceived rejection.

“Enlightenment is the ‘aha’ moment; when it occurs in YOU, it can change your life; when used to accept others as they are, it will change your world.”

In our example the discouraged man has an even deeper interpretation, perhaps more than one or two levels below their awareness.  Consider the possibility that the man ‘learned’ as a child that the ability to fearlessly approach a woman defines a real man.  What if he ‘learned’ that a man who has anxiety and therefore the inability to calmly approach a woman means that the man is impotent and therefore worthless.

Now, this does not mean that someone actually taught him these beliefs.  He can ‘learn’ without being taught; he can ‘learn’ by self-interpretation; he can ‘learn’ without ever knowing that he has ‘learned’ the lesson.  This happens constantly – we are seldom aware of the concepts we are taught; more accurately, these concepts are ‘learned’ by self-interpretation of consciously or unconsciously experienced events .  And nearly never are these self-teachings beneficial to us, this is how the emotional fear begins (and the defense mechanisms employed to avoid the fear) – unconsciously learned and unconsciously taught.  In workshops I call this the POOL; our Primary Occurrence Of Learning’.

Why is this?

“It is not thoughts that must change for life to improve; but discovery of WHY the original thoughts come to our mind in the first place.”

To understand the concept we must discuss a couple of systems of our physiology because many of our physiological systems are replicated within our emotional existence.  We’ve been told for years that fear is essential to the continuation of Man.  Fight or Flight is the accepted physiological response to physical intimidation or imminent threat.  Theorized as the result of natural selection, those with this response were able to avoid life-threatening situations.  The capability, presumably passed on through following generations, became instinctual abilities.  The instinctual response exists within us and continues to be the savior of many lives.  For the purposes of our discussion, I call this physiological fear.

The emotional fear we’re discussing here is not the physiological fear but I feel it’s important to make the distinction between Physiological Fear and Emotional Fear.  All sorts of systems are initiated with the physiological fear, endorphins, adrenaline, heightened awareness, etc.  Of course our entire bodily systems are built to include such protections.  It’s part of our amazing existence and there are multiple such physiological systems ‘built’ within our existence.

It’s important to realize our emotional and physiological systems have many mirroring or replicated processes.  Our intellectual brain controls our physiology and our emotional mind controls our ‘emotology’; a term to describe and draw attention to a second and separate system designed entirely for the protection of emotional ‘self’.  Just as the physiological systematic response of fear contributes to the preservation of our physical life, our emotional system employs similar responses to protect our emotional life or emotional survival.

“There is one INSTINCTUAL reason for fear to exist: to preserve our physical well-being.  All others are man-made and are self-limiting.”

So why do these emotional systems exist?   What possibly would be the need of such a system and why the need for emotional survival?  Well, realize this – our intellectual and logical brain systems do not really begin to develop until around the age of 2 and don’t complete development until around 23 or 24.  So what keeps us alive until our intellectual brain develops?  It is our emotional mind.  It controls everything of how we show our caretakers what we need, from nurturing to needing food and everywhere in between.

The trouble is that after our intellectual brain develops no one tells our emotional mind that it is no longer solely needed to protect our physical existence and that emotional pain is no longer a threat to our physiological existence, as it was early in our life.  Therefore our emotional mind continues to believe that it has the responsibility of all systems.  And it interprets every potential threat of emotional pain as life threatening.  In our physical existence a physical threat initiates the ‘fight or flight’ response; our emotional existence has a similar system.  If our emotional mind senses threat to its existence or belief system, it will employ similar defenses.

Here’s where the trouble begins – because what our emotional mind perceives as a ‘threat’, is anything that challenges or confronts its tenets or constants of its existence.  Those tenets or constants are what we have truly ‘learned’, including many of the false tenets we’ve ‘learned’, as in our earlier example  – these ‘learned lessons’ often have NO basis in fact.  They are merely what were interpreted internally by our emotional mind.  Once integral to our survival as an infant, it’s no longer alone in the responsibility because it is supposed to work in conjunction with our intellectual brain to fully fulfill our existence.

“Our ability to grow is directly dependent upon our willingness to be wrong.”

In our earlier example, the man who ‘learned’ that real men can comfortably approach a woman was not actively taught this exact lesson but he could have easily and unconsciously ‘learned’ this lesson if his father, big brother or other man in his childhood were the man that had this capability  – especially if he idolized this man as a role model.  Make sense?  The man might very likely feel inadequate and ‘less than’ if he does not grow to have the similar capabilities.  His emotional mind considers the awareness of the perceived inadequacy as a ‘weakness’ or a crack in its foundation.

It may seem silly, but we must consider our emotological system as a fortress, built for protection of ‘self’ – our emotional existence.  The perceived emotional ‘weakness’ is considered by our emotional mind to be a potential ‘breach’ of our defenses and therefore any and all interactions by others, that approach the ‘weakened’ area are immediately guarded by extra forces of the fortress.  It doesn’t matter whether the approaching party is bringing medicine or weapons – the fortress goes on a heightened state of security and considers the approaching party as a threat.

We all know of this potential breach area of our emotions – we sometimes call it a ‘sore spot’; it’s the result of previous real or perceived attacks upon our fortress.  These previous attacks, real or interpreted, become ‘baggage’.  However, as we all know – the fact that a fortress has been previously attacked by opposing forces, does not mean that all future approaching parties mean harm.  Run in this manner, fortresses that repel all approaching parties will eventually run out of food and resources and will die.

Continuing the analogy, an approaching party may have helped repair fortresses in the past and found ‘self-worth’ in doing so; that approaching party might continue to seek other fortresses that need repair in an effort to seek value as an on-going practice.  The seeking of continued self-worth in this method can become a ‘rescuer’ or ‘savior’ complex within the emotions of an individual without ever realizing it.  Even though good is being performed, the approaching party’s fulfillment is solely dependent on another person’s fortress – and that is never good.

“Growth doesn’t require change – merely awareness; once awareness occurs, growth naturally results – whether we want it or not.”

There are many such comparisons that can be made that explain countless types of ‘baggage’.   But one thing is ALWAYS true, ‘baggage’ takes up room and if there is enough of it?  There’s no room to help carry another’s… and we all have it.  Baggage isn’t a bad thing – it can teach us much about people, in life or in business… as long as we open it, sort it, wash the contents and put it away in proper drawers and closets.

The secret lies in learning how to create a system by which we can effectively determine the intent of every approaching party as they approach or before letting them within our fortress walls.  We then have the ability to determine intent and threat of the approaching party, whether they are clearly labeled or hidden within a ‘Trojan horse’.  A large part of the secret is discovering and realizing that our fortress is impenetrable and is unable to be breached without us opening the doors.

“EVERY aspect of business improves when driven by the Laws of Human Nature.”

Conversely, just imagine the advantage we gain when we understand and apply all of these concepts when we are the approaching party to another person’s ‘fortress’.  When we truly understand the tenets of these concepts, we have the ability to use the knowledge to easily gain access to their fortress through an ‘unweakened’ area.  This capability creates an amazingly strong advantage in areas of management, leadership, sales and of course – relationships.  However, it is a skill that needs to be used solely for the benefit of both parties; therefore when teaching these concepts to salespeople, I will only teach to those within the arena of ‘authentic’ sales; that being those who are experts in their field but need to protect clients and consumers from non-experts who can merely ‘sell’ anything.

Imagine the peace and self-acceptance that results from Discovery in our personal lives and within our relationships.  Imagine being able to truly hear what your partner is saying, rather than feeling that they are attacking you.  AND imagine how valuable it would be to know exactly how you need to say something so that your message is truly heard.  Imagine how your relationships could be, once realizing that another can’t ever take your ‘power’ away, no matter how hard they try.  Manipulation won’t work on you and you’d have the internal strength to confront every emotional conflict without anger, animosity or resentment; merely because you understand how you work and how they work, internally.

It has been said often that men are predictable because they tend to be ‘logical’ and women have been saddled with the label of ‘illogical and emotional’ for hundreds and hundreds of years.  It is simply not so.  Illogical and emotional are not opposites – if you understand our emotological systems, you’ll understand that EVERY emotional reaction within ourself or others is as logical as two plus two equaling four.  We merely need to seek, listen and learn about the previous ‘attacks’ upon the fortresses to fully and accurately understand and predict the actions or reactions of another.

Imagine the benefits in business and in life after discovering the underlying fears of clients, partners or staff, of which they aren’t aware and that drives and motivates them on a daily basis.  AND by the way, it’s nearly impossible to discover this in others without having discovered it in yourself.

 

4         Major Arenas That Benefit Tremendously

–          People who ask themselves, “I wonder why I (do this or can’t do) …” are most assuredly unconsciously affected and impacted by these underlying and undiscovered fears we’ve discussed.  These people benefit tremendously from Discovery Coaching; they are often unhappy, unfulfilled, angry or depressed because they don’t understand their own self.

–          Managers/executives/leadership directors/trainers who ask themselves, “How do I get my people to …” or “How do I get them to … better” are most assuredly able to benefit by learning these elements in our APACHE program and incorporating into their existing training programs.

–          Salespeople/rep’s/consultants/professionals who ask, “How do I get my clients to…” or “How do I get more people to become clients?”  They are most assuredly able to benefit by learning these elements in our CAPTIVE program, learning how to convey their expertise, loyalty and passion to make every prospect engaged.

–          Athletes/brokers/agents who need to ask, “Why don’t I do what I KNOW I can do…” will absolutely benefit as well.

“An inspired, engaged and empowered individual is incapable of nothing – and is extremely aware of his limitations.”

I guarantee that once fully understanding and knowing how to apply these tenets of Emotions and Human Nature, the answers to all of the above questions are clear… what you DO with that knowledge is up to you.

Like most things in life, we seldom seek change until and unless the current path is no longer working as planned.  Discovery Coaching is designed to help people find the answers to the struggles for which their solutions are no longer gaining the desired result.  It’s not therapy – it’s discovery.

As we’ve noted, the elements of Discovery Coaching are not only about the things that aren’t working in one’s life.  It continues to be a tremendous benefit to those in business who may already be successful but seek reaching a higher level.  Because when we truly understand what makes us ‘tick’ we then have the ability to understand what makes others ‘tick’ and then the sky’s the limit; thus amazing benefits to those in management, leadership positions and authentic sales.

Especially in the realm of business, the ability to determine what is truly behind the motivations of self and then others (the essence of discovery) is the ‘holy grail’ of motivating others, increasing employee engagement and employee retention, dramatically improving client acquisition and utilizing the strengths of others to the best benefit of the organization.

If you feel it’s time to embark upon your journey of Discovery OR if you would like to see how one of our programs can tremendously impact your organization, contact me.

“Fed at the dinner party of Life: Conscience for the soul, trust for the heart and hope for your mind; all we have to do is show up on time, eat and not leave early.”

David A. Jones, President
Captive Coaching and Consulting, LLC
Phone: (888) 706-5426    email: djones@captivecoaching.com

“The first law of business is that of Human Nature”

Posted in Athletes and Executives, Discovery, Organization Development, Relationships | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Relationships and This New Economy

Well, nearly everywhere we look we hear about the new economy; but really is it?  I mean really, it’s been going on long enough that we should just be able to call it this economy.  We all know the impact of it, most of us have had it impact us one way or another.  My friends often refer to me as Mr. Optimism but even I have difficulty finding the bright side in any of it.

But have no fear – I have.  After all, auto sales are down because people can’t afford new cars as often but auto parts stores’ sales are up because more people are fixing their own cars.  Movie ticket sales may be down but rentals are up.  In every circumstance of the negative there is usually some up-side.  Now, don’t get me wrong – the down-sides are often more traumatic than the up-side but there is usually some good to come from it.  Some of the most horrific events have driven some of the most galvanizing times.

There is another potential upside – our relationships.  In this economy people aren’t distracting themselves as much as they were once able to do.  We go out to dinner less frequently, people have parties less frequently and we are not purchasing big-ticket items as often as we once did.  Since these aren’t the common occurrences for the foreseeable future, what are we to do?  Building our relationships with our spouse or partner is infinitely rewarding and this is the perfect time to work on it.

It is interesting to me that the typical relationship evolves based on many aspects of history that one or both don’t realize.  Sometimes people call these ruts or routines; but in reality, no matter what we call them – they have the tendency to create ‘staleness’ within the relationship.  A recent relationship coaching client of mine admitted to me (in front of his wife) that ‘he knew all he needed to know about her’.  Ugh.  Needless to say, they were not exactly on the same page.

As relationships evolve through time and circumstances, each partner has the likelihood of evolving as well – sometimes for the good and sometimes for the worse, at least in regards to the happiness or longevity of the relationship.  Therefore we really have to implement systems to help prevent this from occurring and therefore ‘evolve’ together.  The statistics of divorce and the number of long-term relationships that end are staggering and since nobody enters into the marriage expecting divorce (unless you live in Hollywood) it really behooves us all to learn as much as we can to prevent the staleness from occurring.

What can we do?

  1. Be consistent in reactions and responses.  As with parenting children, we also must be consistent with our spouses.  If we are consistent with the reactions and responses with our spouses, they will become pretty apt at being able to predict our response.  If one person understands how their spouse will react or respond, they are much more likely to share feelings and emotions.  Though neither spouse may like having to have a conversation about those emotions, it will be far better than the resulting conflict that occurs when emotions aren’t discussed.  Left unexpressed, those suppressed emotions build into either an explosion of sentiment and often becoming a fight or they stay suppressed and become resentment.  The resentment often becomes passive-aggressive behavior.
  2. Realize that every single person enjoys and seeks excitement; the level of excitement differs among each of us, so know your spouse’s level and then consider it in your attempts to please them.  For some, this could be as simple as going out to dinner but not telling her where you’re going.  Upon getting to the restaurant, your server brings your wife a flower that you’d prearranged or that you’d covertly given the server upon your arrival.  Cost of the flower? Four bucks – impression upon your wife?  Priceless.
  3. Understand what small gifts your spouse prefers, for no specific reason.  This may sound ridiculously obvious but it’s not.  Many husbands and wives give as small gifts what they think their partner would like.  Instead, give a gift they will actually love.  Example?  My spouse works hard and she has a kitchen fetish, I personally am a slob.  One of my small gifts?  Clean the kitchen sparklingly – she just appreciates it so much … and no, this is not sexist –it’s truly her favorite room in the house.  Maybe your husband or wife loves a television show that you detest – let them watch it while you read a book.  Given in the true sense of gift, these small gifts can make a tremendous difference.
  4. KNOW your partners’ love language and make sure they know yours.  Choices?  Gary Chapman put them most succinctly as:  Words of Affirmation, Gifts, Acts of Service, Quality Time, Physical Touch.  You and your partner likely ‘speak’ more than one of these languages.  ‘Speak’ to your partner based on your partner’s language – not yours.
  5. Never forget important days and dates.  Yes, technically speaking this has nothing to do with how much you love them but it can have a lot to do with how loved and appreciated they feel.
  6. Develop what I call your Third World.  This is the ability to truly develop a perspective from your partner’s viewpoint.  Never totally lose your own viewpoint because you’ll lose the ability to dialogue but developing the ability to also see and experience their perspective will prevent ninety percent of your arguments from becoming hurtful.  With this perspective, most arguments will merely be debates.  Finding your Third World isn’t easy but it’s well worth the effort – you’ll be absolutely amazed with the rewards.
  7. Jointly commit to times of intimacy … no, not that, that will evolve by itself – I mean intimate times of sitting with coffee or wine, taking a walk, sitting at the lake, etc. and having a conversation about anything meaningful, just nothing current.  Your childhood, their upbringing, fears when you were in school, early adulthood, etc.  Speak of fears and vulnerabilities with each other and share.  Ask questions about them and learn something you didn’t know. These non-confrontational moments feed the portion of our emotional being and helps solidify that each are trustworthy of the emotions of the other.  Done frequently, you will become truly allies rather than covert opponents fighting for power.

Share this article with your partner and friends and explain to them that you want your relationship to be the best that it can be.  They want the same thing – they just may need a little leading along.  But believe me, when they see the benefits of what you are doing, they will likely join in.

These economic times are stressful and filled with opportunities to look at our relationships as ‘same old, same old’ but taking steps to meet each of these objectives will result in the relationship you were seeking when you chose your life partner and will make this economy a heck of a lot more pleasant.

People often think that if they commit to taking steps such as this they may lose their power or position within their relationship – in fact, if both partners continue to strive to meet each other’s needs and to meet these objectives, what they will discover is that they have created even a greater ally and supporter… and in these times, we need all the support we can get.

Posted in Relationships | Leave a comment

Covenants, Promises, Oaths, Obligations and Guilt – and the correlation in pain we charge ourselves for breaking them

A coaching client was discussing her need to discover who she really is.  Discovery Coaching is about exactly that – who we are, why we became who we are, what elements of our history has had major impact on how we look at ourselves and each other and how we can eliminate the ‘negative’ aspects of the ‘baggage’ to become our Authentic Self.  The result is full self-acceptance; and it’s a truly powerful thing.  It is the step often reached before the discovery of our ‘purpose’ here on earth.

To some it’s hocus-pocus – to others it’s nearly spiritual; for most it’s somewhere in between, but it is always life-altering.  One of the continual elements that usually impede a person’s growth toward their Authentic Self is Guilt.  The impact that we often allow the state of Guilt to have upon us is tremendous and sometimes all-encompassing.  Everyone has felt it, some more than others – but it’s an element of life that we weren’t born with – it was taught to us, often in an attempt to alter our behavior as growing children.  It is a tool used throughout adulthood by many to alter the behavior of other adults.  But here’s the thing…

Guilt wastes lives and people.

Don’t get me wrong – it’s a massively important emotion or state, and one we should all be able to experience.  In fact, the inability to experience real guilt is an indicator of many severe psychological conditions, so it’s important to be able to experience guilt.  But we should never reside within the state of guiltFurthermore, we need to be able to determine when guilt is applied to our benefit and when to our detriment.  Better stated – we must learn to understand and control guilt and not be controlled by it.

This may seem simplistic and basic but it’s not.  I was speaking with this personal coaching client and she was stating that her husband had not been keeping his word or promises of their marital vows.  She felt guilty for thinking of leaving her husband and was concerned about breaking up the family and the damage that would be done to the children.  She also spoke of her vows to God; her promise – her covenant.

We all need to realize something very important – to fully receive a fulfilling and purpose-filled life, we must seek peace, inner and outer.  IF we are spending all of our emotions and sanity in a drama-filled relationship AND we have done all we feel we should do to make things better – what are we to do?

Well, while it does take two to tango – it really does not take two to ruin a relationship; it merely takes two to make it work.  Sure, one could accept the other more and forgive indiscretions or deceits, etc.  But the question is, should they?  Their answer is the correct answer.  If they don’t feel they should stay,  they shouldn’t – if they do, they should.  It’s really that simple because if the person choosing to stay in the dysfunctional relationship is not committed to their partner and to making the relationship work, it just won’t work.   Whether it’s healthy for them to stay is a separate conversation.

But we’re talking about guilt; guilt of staying or guilt of leaving.

Guilt often results from broken promises, oaths, obligations and even covenants.  We currently see a tremendous amount resulting from the break-up of marriages, families and the perceived damage done to the children of such families.  But before going into all of that – let’s explore what GUILT really is.

Merriam-Webster defines guilt as:  feelings of culpability especially for imagined offenses or from a sense of inadequacy.  So let’s go with that definition – but isn’t there a simpler explanation?

In my workshop and seminar content that covers the topic, I state simply that guilt is:  The emotional state of conflict between what we WANT to do versus what we feel we SHOULD do.

Now, it important to realize whether the ‘should’ in the conflict, is ours or whether it is applied by others.  In other words, is the conflict between what we want to do and what we think we ‘should’ do OR is it based on what we think someone else would think we ‘should’ do.  This point is hugely important because as adults we must live in accordance with our internal code of honor and decency.  We must not live based on the ‘shoulds’ of others when it conflicts with our own internal determination of right and wrong.

What I am stating is not a method by which a thoughtless individual can rationalize performing unkind deeds – that would be solely listening to the internal ‘wants’; I am stating that we need to only listen to our internal ‘shoulds’, not the ‘shoulds’ of others.

Merriam-Webster defines a covenant as:  a written agreement or promise usually under seal between two or more parties especially for the performance of some action.

Why is this important?   Because whether it is promises to our children, promises to each other or even the covenant of marriage, it’s important to realize and remember something very important; the promise or covenant is made as a contract or agreement between two people, certainly these promises are often proclaimed to God or with God as the witness, but the agreement itself is between two people.  And when one of the two people break the covenant, it no longer exists.  Though the intentions were true and honest at the beginning of the contract, the breaking of the contract by one frees the other from the bindings of the same contract, if desired.

It’s not as emotional of a subject but contract law is no different – if person A will do ‘this’ then person B agrees to do ‘that’.  At no time do legal contracts require the abiding party to maintain the terms of the contract after the non-abiding party breaks the terms of the contract.

Please note, I’m not promoting divorce, marriage or any of these types of sacraments nor am I encouraging people to break contracts!  I am however, trying to empower people to realize that guilt should never be something that others are successful in applying toward you.

To quote Keith Ablow, M.D. in the book he co-wrote, 7 wonders that will change your life:  “Covenants are not contracts that include your spiritual destruction.  God would never ask that of you nor want that for you.”  And, “…don’t deny reality if what you thought was a lifelong obligation degenerates into a contract that includes your spiritual destruction.  That’s the time to remind yourself that sometimes you have to risk the life you’re currently living to instead live the one that God needs you to.”

Whether you are a spiritual person or not, just realize this:  Yours is the only life you get to live, do not allow others who have their own, to attempt to live yours for you.  Only you know your pain, your missions, your purpose, your dreams – live yours as though it’s the only one in the world, because it is.

Therefore, let Guilt serve you as your barometer of right and wrong; never let it control you by allowing others to place it upon you.  Personally, I hope your’s and everyone’s barometer has something to do with the Golden Rule, you know the one – “Do unto others…”

Guilt placed upon you by others, intentionally or not, is like an oxen’s yoke, not only will the weight of it prevent you from getting where you want to go but you’ll have to watch the rest of the world pass you by on the journey. – David Jones, Guilt Seminar content

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Fear and Destruction

Ten years ago I was driving to work, listening to a morning shock jock when the news broke.  First it sounded like an accident as it did to everyone else.  And then the 2nd plane hit.  And then the Pentagon.  And then Flight 93 crashed.  The world changed immediately – all of it.

Later in the day after the planes were all grounded, my daughter and I watched as Air Force One flew over our house outside of Washington, D.C.  It was surrounded by fighter jets and the sound barrier had just been broken by an advance ‘scout’ jet that flew seemingly ten short feet above our trees.  It was very surreal to know that the man on the 747 high above was just thrust into a situation only the most macabre individual could imagine.

I struggled to try to find something that mattered anymore.  The job seemed unimportant; money seemed unimportant – pretty much everything seemed unimportant to me except LIFE, not MY life but life of all and the realization that life is precious.  And in the following days and weeks Millions of people acknowledged feeling the same way.

In the aftermath of the events of 9/11, sentiment and sorrow was outpoured toward America from much of the world.  And for weeks and months Americans reached out to each other; there was kindness in the lines of the grocery store, drivers seemed outright delighted to let another vehicle merge or change lanes.  People said ‘hi’ and meant it.

We became Americans again and we were inextricably intertwined with one another.  We weren’t any longer whites, blacks, Jews, Christians, etc.  For a while we joined together as a Nation because we all had a common enemy.  We as a society became what we could always be.  Domestic conflicts slowed tremendously; previous racial and religious conflicts and intolerance of sexual preferences dissipated and random acts of kindness were performed in previously unseen numbers.  Talk shows, newscasts and neighbors spoke of the only thing of any good that came from those horrific events was that it bound us together and reminded us all of what’s truly important – Life and Each Other.

One question – what happened?

We’re seemingly back to our old ways.  Maybe we’ve forgotten how wonderful it felt to belong again?  To feel that we were part of something big and important?  To KNOW that our determination, drive and desires of Americans could change the world for the better if we wanted it?  You all know of what I am speaking – after 9/11 we looked at each other in the stores, we gained solace from the sense of inclusion and shared trauma – as Americans we all belonged and we wanted to belong together.

It seems people are back to thinking that their neighbor is going to steal from them – they may be correct, if their neighbor also lost the sense of togetherness and oneness, the charity of mere inconveniences seems to have disappeared for the most part as well.  I’m not the only one that has noticed – I’m sure you will now as well; but it doesn’t have to stay this way.

I drive some people crazy – they will often call me ‘idealistic’ some even have ‘pet’ names for me like ‘brightside Dave’ or ‘Mr. Optimistic’.  Well, since idealistic refers to how things can be with perfect circumstances – I guess I am very idealistic; because one thing that I am, is an expert in Human Nature.  And while Human Nature explains much of the bad we see today, it is also the reason that we can make a great world, filled with great people.

I do not believe in the human spirit because of what we have become –I believe in the human spirit because of what we can become and what we can achieve. People often make comments to explain injustices of the world. ”Well, that’s human nature” and other similar comments.  Of course they are usually right because Human Nature can explain nearly every single thought and action that occurs. 

However, Human Nature should not ever be accepted as the scapegoat of how things are; as though there is nothing we can do about changing it.  Other than opposable thumbs, Human Nature is truly the only thing that separates us from animals – if we learn from it, grow within it and reap the benefits we will as a People begin to always seek the greatness within ourselves and each other, rather than merely using it as an excuse to be allowed to be mean.

I was told on the phone the other day by the CEO of a company that he learned ‘Whiteness’ at Harvard and had no need for my services (I’m black if you’ve not seen my picture).  I wasn’t shocked at his racial bias, I’ve been black since birth so I’m relatively used to it – but what shocked me was that he was so intent of his opinion that he was uncaring to at least determine that I wasn’t friends or colleagues with a client of his!  I’m pretty sure that Harvard would take offense to his comments.  He holds government contracts and has 4 offices throughout the East Coast and yet was in no way hesitant to display his hatred.

Life is too precious to ever be taken for granted again, isn’t it?  I’m black, he’s white; she’s Christian, she’s not… aren’t we smarter than that? 

Interestingly, most actions in world history that oppress others have been based on religious beliefs.  The Crusades of Christianity; the despicable acts of terrorism done ‘in the name of Allah’; the atrocities of hitler (I still refuse to regard him enough to even capitalize his name), etc. – their belief system is that ‘their’ god made them better and wants to keep them pure.  Yet, without exception these groups acknowledge that God or Allah will be the one to perform judgment. So how about this idea – let’s all get along here and in this life… and let our Supreme Being be the one to judge.

Hatred comes from fear; fear comes from ignorance.  Don’t worry about the hatred in people – let’s teach the ignorance and hatred will leave.  Let’s learn about each other; lets discuss our differences; let’s explore what other people think and why. What we will find is:

  1. We are all more similar than we are different
  2. That the bias or prejudices that many have were passed from their parents or early institutions and that they also had no choice in learning them
  3. ALL hatred, prejudice and fear can be eradicated with knowledge, exposure and kindness.

On 9/11/01 we discovered how ugly the results of hatred can be.

Let’s make Our Country and Our People the best people by showing each other tolerance, understanding and compassion.  Don’t fight the hatred –  strive to enlighten the ignorance.  We are in this together and I for one, want to belong to the post 9/11 America – again.

All I’m saying is this, if we aren’t contributing to a better planet and trying to be better people toward others – maybe we shouldn’t be so eager to show to others our willingness to make it worse?  Maybe?  As the classic rock song states, “If we don’t stand for something we can fall for anything”.

“The only thing it takes for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke

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Fear and Destruction

Ten years ago I was driving to work, listening to a morning shock jock when the news broke.  First it sounded like an accident as it did to everyone else.  And then the 2nd plane hit.  And then the Pentagon.  And then Flight 93 crashed.  The world changed immediately – all of it.

Later in the day after the planes were all grounded, my daughter and I watched as Air Force One flew over our house outside of Washington, D.C.  It was surrounded by fighter jets and the sound barrier had just been broken by an advance ‘scout’ jet that flew seemingly ten short feet above our trees.  It was very surreal to know that the man on the 747 high above was just thrust into a situation only the most macabre individual could imagine.

 

I struggled to try to find something that mattered anymore.  The job seemed unimportant; money seemed unimportant – pretty much everything seemed unimportant to me except LIFE, not MY life but life of all and the realization that life is precious.  And in the following days and weeks Millions of people acknowledged feeling the same way.

 

In the aftermath of the events of 9/11, sentiment and sorrow was outpoured toward America from much of the world.  And for weeks and months Americans reached out to each other; there was kindness in the lines of the grocery store, drivers seemed outright delighted to let another vehicle merge or change lanes.  People said ‘hi’ and meant it.

 

We became Americans again – not strangers and we were inextricably intertwined with one another.  We weren’t any longer whites, blacks, Jews, Christians, etc.  For a while we joined together as a Nation because we all had a common enemy.  We as a society became what we could always be.  Domestic conflicts slowed tremendously; previous racial and religious conflicts and intolerance of sexual preferences dissipated and random acts of kindness were performed in previously unseen numbers.  Talk shows, newscasts and neighbors spoke of the only thing of any good that came from those horrific events was that it bound us together and reminded us all of what’s truly important – Life and Each Other.

 

One question – what happened?

 

We’re seemingly back to our old ways.  Maybe we’ve forgotten how wonderful it felt to belong again?  To feel that we were part of something big and important?  To KNOW that our determination, drive and desires of Americans could change the world for the better if we wanted it?  You all know of what I am speaking – after 9/11 we looked at each other in the stores, we gained solace from the sense of inclusion and shared trauma – as Americans we all belonged and we wanted to belong together.

 

It seems people are back to thinking that their neighbor is going to steal from them, the charity of mere inconveniences seems to have disappeared for the most part as well.  I’m not the only one that has noticed – I’m sure you will now as well; but it doesn’t have to stay this way.

 

I drive some people crazy – they will often call me ‘idealistic’ some even have ‘pet’ names for me like ‘brightside Dave’ or ‘Mr. Optimistic’.  Well, since idealistic references how things can be with perfect circumstances – I guess I am; because one thing that I am, is an expert in Human Nature.  And while Human Nature explains much of the bad we see today, it is also the reason that we can make a great world, filled with great people. I do not believe in the human spirit because of what we have become –I believe in the human spirit because of what we can become and what we can achieve.

 

People often make comments to explain injustices of the world. ”Well, that’s human nature” and other similar comments.  Of course they are usually right because Human Nature can explain nearly every single thought and action that occurs.  However, Human Nature should not ever be accepted as the scapegoat of how things are; as though there is nothing we can do about changing it.  Other than opposable thumbs, Human Nature is truly the only thing that separates us from animals – if we learn from it, grow within it and reap the benefits we will as a People begin to always seek the greatness within ourselves and each other, rather than merely using it as an excuse to be allowed to be mean.

 

I was told on the phone the other day by the CEO of a company that he learned ‘Whiteness’ at Harvard and had no need for my services (I’m black if you’ve not seen my picture).  I wasn’t shocked at his racial bias, I’ve been black since birth so I’m relatively used to it – but what shocked me was that he was so intent of his opinion that he was uncaring to at least determine that I wasn’t friends or colleagues with a client of his!  I’m also very certain Harvard would take issue with his comment.  He holds government contracts and has 4 offices throughout the East Coast and yet was in no way hesitant to display his hatred.

 

Life is too precious to ever be taken for granted again, isn’t it?  I’m black, he’s white; she’s Christian, she’s not… aren’t we smarter than that?  Interestingly, most actions in world history that oppress others have been based on religious beliefs.  The Crusades of Christianity; the despicable acts of terrorism done ‘in the name of Allah’; the atrocities of hitler (I still refuse to regard him enough to even capitalize his name), etc. – their belief system is that ‘their’ god made them better and wants to keep them pure.  Yet, without exception these groups acknowledge that God or Allah will be the one to perform judgment.  So how about this idea – let’s all get along here and in this life… and let our Supreme Being be the one to judge.

 

Hatred comes from fear; fear comes from ignorance.  Don’t worry about the hatred in people – let’s teach the ignorance and hatred will leave.  Let’s learn about each other; lets discuss our differences; let’s explore what other people think and why. What we will find is:

  1. We are all more similar than we are different
  2. That the bias or prejudices that many have were passed from their parents or early institutions and that they also had no choice in learning them
  3. ALL hatred, prejudice and fear can be eradicated with knowledge, exposure and kindness.

On 9/11/01 we discovered how ugly the results of hatred can be.

 

Let’s make Our Country and Our People the best people by showing each other tolerance, understanding and compassion.  Don’t fight the hatred – enlighten the ignorance.  We are in this together and I for one, want to belong to the post 9/11 America – again.

 

All I’m saying is this, if we aren’t contributing to a better planet and trying to be better people toward others – maybe we shouldn’t be so eager to show to others our willingness to make it worse?  Maybe?  As the classic rock song states, “If we don’t stand for something we can fall for anything”.

 

“The only thing it takes for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke

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Visualization – Why It REALLY Works and WILL Improve Your Game

Whether in small workshops, seminars or with individual clients (athletes or executives), I always include a section on visualization, when discussing capabilities of an individual.  Visualization is really a skill that must be honed.  But to maximize its effect and impact on the golf course, it must be truly understood; how it works and why it works – otherwise people tend to think it’s some kind of hocus-pocus and attempt at self-hypnosis; it’s anything but that.

I’ve read, heard and witnessed many people and ‘gurus’ strongly recommend visualization; but I’ve really never heard anybody explain truly WHY and HOW it works.  I’m not saying that people haven’t explained it – only that I’ve not seen it done in a manner that everyone can understand.  Golf and the application of visualization is the emphasis of this article but the practice can be applied to any sport and really any circumstance of which our level of skill impacts the outcome.  So whether it’s a boardroom presentation, a five foot putt for the championship or even a date for which you are nervous – it all applies.

Visualizing a golf shot (or boardroom presentation) is more than picturing the shot in your mind; it is the ability of placing yourself in the exact circumstance and experiencing the outcome.  So often clients will tell me that they’ve tried it before – but it just doesn’t work for them.  It is usually because they don’t truly understand how to do it or why it works. So let’s start there.

Why it Works

First of all, visualizing your shot or putt is NOT closing your eyes and picturing the putt merely going in the hole or picturing the ball flying through the air and coming to rest one foot from the pin.  Before explaining what it IS, let’s discuss how and why it works.

As Human Beings we have an inherent absolute necessity to feel that we live in an uncertain world.  The breakdown of why is an entire chapter in my book that will be coming along soon.  But just accept that while we plan on outcome we need a certain level of uncertainty.  I call this the Need for the Application of Uncertainty.  A brief example to which nearly everyone could relate is as follows.

Imagine you were a poker player and you had the ability to know what cards were held by every single player at your table, therefore you could NEVER lose.  How much fun would playing poker become for you?  You might continue to play and become a professional poker player and earn your income in that manner – but truly, how much fun would it be?  Not much, in fact it would become work and likely something you dread.  You might enjoy the money earned from your profession but it wouldn’t be FUN.  Furthermore, because all of the other players at the table felt they had a chance to win (not knowing of your prowess), you’d likely come to a point of which you felt you were ‘cheating’ in a sense, knowing you couldn’t lose.

If you truly place yourself in that example, you will fully experience that feeling – AND you will fully experience what I mean by needing an element of uncertainty.  This concept is behind many people retiring from a sport or profession in which they’ve done everything – Michael Jordan comes to mind.  He’d done everything he’d set out to do – knowing he was the best; why not try his hand at baseball, right?

Now, getting back to visualization – the concept of visualization is the effort to prevent the Application of Uncertainty during your golf game.  This is for EVERYONE – the weekend golfer and the PGA and LPGA Professional.  The Need for the Application of Uncertainty must be eliminated from your game to every extent possible.  It cannot be eliminated in total from our lives because as stated – we truly need this in some measure to exist but we can eliminate it from the game to the greatest extent possible.

The concept of the Need for the Application of Uncertainty is hopefully clear for you at this point, because the next piece often fries one’s mind a little when attempting to fully comprehend.

Our mind basically has two modes, history and future.  One might state that current is a third mode but as soon as you say the word ‘current’, it’s already history.  So, from this aspect, our mind is either in historical mode or future mode.

Historical mode is fact, it’s what we’ve done before, what we remember – tasks, experiences, memories, etc.  The Future Mode however, is NOT fact – in fact, it’s anything BUT fact.  It is based on our aptitude, circumstances, proficiency (very different than aptitude), etc.  In regards to golf, the future mode is full of factors such as wind, sogginess of ground, comfort with the 9-iron, fatigue, hydration and a million other factors including – luck or good fortune and FEAR.  By the way, ‘luck’ or good fortune, is something that humans inherently place as a direct correlation to their prior performance, spirituality, superstitions, etc. – all of which have to do with future outcomes and what they feel they ‘deserve’.

Long story short, true visualization isn’t hocus-pocus or self-hypnosis – it is merely the ability to take a moment in time, in this case the 9-iron shot you are about to make, and moving it from your future mode INTO your historical mode.  AND by quickly and temporarily perfecting the ability, you are able to limit the effects on Application of Uncertainty on your shot.  This is able to be accomplished because your mind (in that moment) NOW has the ability to recall the shot (from the recent visualization experience) and simply REPEAT the shot with the outcome just experienced.  This occurs because we know AND our mind knows that anything we’ve done before can be repeated.  It does NOT know whether what has yet to occur, can occur or whether what has occurred, will again.  Putting ourselves in the position of already having made the shot eliminates the need to experience any of those emotional consequences of outcome.

Make sense?

Try to put yourself in previous circumstances with which you can relate.  Once you understand all of the above and can relate to it, you are well on your way to be able to tremendously improve your game as long as you have the physical ability to perform the shot.  In other words, a lawyer can visualize performing brain surgery all he or she wants, but without the aptitude and proficiency they really won’t pull it off.  So you still have to practice the mechanics of your swing of course, but visualization will tremendously improve the outcome of the proficiency level you have.

How to do it

You have a 155 yard shot to a back pin and you pull out your 9-iron (that’s my 155 club).  Stand behind the ball and look at the green, decide which side of the green is best to come in from, decide the trajectory and bend of the ball flight that you think best and is a shot you know you can perform because you’ve done it in the past.

Now, close your eyes and TRULY visualize the ball leaving the ground, going in flight in the desired path and trajectory, then hitting the green and stopping or releasing as you’ve just designed.  Do this in normal speed – not slow, not fast – picture the flight in normal speed.  Do it over and over until you can ‘feel’ that you are watching a ‘movie’ NOT that you are making it.  Of course you did make the movie – but visualize the ‘replay’ of it.  As you visualize, make yourself ‘feel’ the emotions of success and therefore the experience of outcome – and these are NOT excitement or luckiness, merely the satisfaction of a properly played shot; a shot you are ‘supposed’ to be able to make.  (These emotions of success I mention – it’s a sense of ‘nothing special’, just the awareness of what you were planning to do anyway.  Just as though you ‘planned’ to drive to work today – when you safely arrived, were you ecstatic?  No, you merely accomplished the mere feat of driving to work – SAME THING!  You merely got your ball to arrive where you planned.)

Address the ball as you normally do, then look up at the target and ‘replay’ the movie again with your eyes open, immediately before starting your swing or putt.  For some players, the ‘immediate’ might be 1 or 2 seconds before starting the swing – just comfortably for you, right before you swing.

NOW, I will alert you – I would STRONGLY recommend that you start practicing this on the range and THEN by yourself on the course (or as a two-some, sandwiched in between foursomes, perhaps with a buddy) because it does take a good amount of time to develop this routine.  And if with a foursome, you are likely to short-change the process for fear of feeling silly or making your foursome lose pace.  So just make sure you are able to do it without any outside distraction or pressure, to ensure you develop YOUR perfect movie method and timeframe.  Do it with a friend who wants to improve their game too or your golf coach; in this manner you will have someone with whom you can each remind and practice.  As you get good at it you’ll likely NOT need to keep your eyes closed – I don’t, Phil doesn’t and many others don’t.  It’s just works for you best.

You know your game best – start keeping stats of GIR’s, DIF’s, scrambling and putts.  I GUARANTEE you that you will see a tremendous difference in those stats and therefore your game.

Two Notes of Caution

1)      Don’t fall into the trap that most do – don’t get out of the routine and think that you’ve ‘got it’ and no longer need to visualize; it’s a SKILL to perfect it BUT it’s not a skill in golf – it is merely the way to eliminate the majority of negative effects of the Need of Application of Uncertainty and therefore must be maintained.  That’s why you always see the real good tour players do it – some do it with eyes open and others while closed.

2)      MANY amateur golfer fall prey to the ‘fear’ of the missed shot – SO if you if you are a high-handicapper (OR a lower-handicapper who believes you ‘choke’ under pressure in a match) and you want to improve your game with this technique then I STRONGLY recommend you follow the steps of visualization as noted above BUT make the ‘movie’ as though you have a network camera angle of a Professional you know and consider steady.  A friend of mine uses Freddie Couples because of Fred’s always reliable tempo.  So make the movie of THEM making the shot on your course and in your EXACT situation AND with your EXACT desired results.  Make sense?

David A. Jones, President of Captive Coaching and Consulting

© Copyright 2011 Captive Coaching and Consulting, llc

Please contact me for mental aspect coaching – whether for athletes or executives or evaluation needs for you or the needs of your organization that requires the maximization of your capabilities or of those of your employees; because every organization improves with employees engaged and empowered to fulfill mission.

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