July 29, 2011

Where Peace Lives


If you want to be a voice for peace in the world, begin by making peace a permanent condition of your own life.  Your higher self knows the way, and all it takes is awareness and a determination to listen to the calling of love, forgiveness, and kindness as you move through your days. Here are a few ideas to think about:
1.       You must offer peace to have it. Think of yourself as a peaceful person. Watch out for your ego’s inclination to take offense and ramp up confrontation and disturbance in the lives of others. Try saying, “You are really having a rough day,” to a harried clerk, rather than, “I’ve been waiting for fifteen minutes already.” Let your loving presence, not your ego, guide your words and actions.
2.       Remember that grievances bring turmoil while communication brings peace. You can shed grievances by letting go of your own self-absorption and practicing forgiveness. If you are angry toward someone in your life , work at communication with that person. A few moments of discussion and forgiveness can send the turmoil away and weaken the influence of your anxiety-loving ego.
3.       Give yourself the gift of a silent retreat every day. Even if it is only for a few moments, experience this key to higher awareness. Shut down the inner dialogue and see the difference between the constant chatter and the bliss of your silent connection to the Universe.  This is the surest way to ease control away from ego and move into the inner vision of peace that is your birthright.
4.       Remind yourself that the greatest technique for bringing peace into your life is to always choose being kind when you have a choice between being right or being kind. This is the single most effective method I know for having a sense of peace. And you have that choice in all your interactions.
When your higher self is present, it always promotes peace. If you have a question about whether it is your ego or your higher self speaking, the answer becomes obvious when you ask yourself,”Will this bring peace or turmoil to my life?” 

Peace is not found in being right or being hurt or being angry.  

By all means, work toward righting the wrongs you perceive, but do it with an understanding that an angry heart keeps you from knowing God on the path of your sacred quest. Peace will come to you when you a healer rather than a judge. 

Related articles:

Mindfulness Meditation

Guided Self Empowerment Meditation for the Victims of Domestic Violence

July 28, 2011

How to Handle Difficult People - It's Your Choice!

How to end the emotional tug-of-war?
How to confront and handle difficult, irrational, or abusive people?
We all know people we would describe as ‘difficult’. They are everywhere around us – in our home, at the office, in clubs. Difficult people can range from mildly irritating to the totally impossible to deal with. What makes them difficult is their problem behaviour. 
They have a way of bringing us down to get the results they want. 
Our emotions are what drive us back to our most basic survival instinct: react and attack back to defend ourselves. We may lose track of our higher selves, our intelligence and our ability to control our responses. Waiting and worrying, the other common “solution”, also allows the problem to get worse while giving you stress.
“Individuals behave in a difficult manner because they have learned that doing so keeps others off balance and incapable of effective action,” says Robert M. Bramson, Ph.D, author of Coping with Difficult People.
While we cannot avoid crossing paths with difficult people – we can learn how to cope with difficult people.

Step 1: Define the nature of difficult behaviour

Begin by examining that specific behaviour and its context. Clarify the problem by asking yourself the following questions:
Why do I feel uncomfortable and frustrated?
What exactly is happening?
Why does it happen?
Every behaviour has a purpose. People do what they do based on what seems to be most important for any given moment. Try to explore why your counterpart is behaving in such a fashion.

Evaluate if their behaviour is:
1. Simply their personality style (controlling behaviour, seeks approval behaviour, seeks attention behaviour, perfectionist)
2. A cultural tendency
3. A specific tactic they are using to intimidate you
4. Due to something that recently happened in their life

To make it easier for you to understand some more common difficult personality types and their behaviour styles , we are providing below the Dr. Bramson’s  classification of seven common types of difficult people.

1. Openly Aggressive People

These people are the bullies who are often abusive and intimidating. They believe their “victims” are weak and deserve the treatment they give them. They are therefore stimulated by signs of weakness. There are three subtypes in this group.

Sherman Tank
Attack not just your idea or project, but you personally as well
Confrontational, pointed and angry
The ultimate in pushy behaviour

Feel very strongly about how others should think and act
Rude comments, biting sarcasm
Attempts to make you look foolish

After initial calm, explodes into uncontrolled ranting and raving

2. Complainers

● Feel overwhelmed by an unfair world
● Bring their problems to you

Complainers find fault with everything. These are fearful people who have little faith in themselves and others because they believe in a hostile world. 

It can be difficult to recognize a true Complainer. They are skilled at starting problems in such a critical manner that it is hard to separate real problems from complaints. And people around them become defensive because they know the Complainer will be the first to blame them if something goes wrong. 

Complainers themselves feel powerless to correct the situations they complain about. Relying on others to fix the problem perpetuates their own belief that they are without blame or fault.
To help you If you can find out why your counterpart is behaving in a certain way, your best approach may become clear.

3. Clams

● No verbal feedback
● No non-verbal feedback
● Nothing

These people react to questions you have posed, controversial statements you have made, and indeed any situation they deem disagreeable, by clamming up. Just when you want a response, they may grunt, give a no or yes or more likely say nothing. 

It is difficult to discern a Clam from a quiet person. However, quiet people are not likely to avoid direct questions, whereas Clams are. For instance, you have asked a colleague to not park so close to your car in the company parking lot. A Clam will say nothing. A quiet person will at least respond in some way.

 The biggest problem in dealing with Clams is you don’t know what the silence or lack of response means.

4. Super – Agreeables

What is so difficult about communicating with someone who is always pleasant and supportive of your ideas ? Nothing, until you want that person to do something for you. 

Super-Agreeables want to be liked and accepted by everyone, so to achieve this they are outgoing, sociable and very personable. However, the danger here is they will agree with you about one thing and then agree with the next person whose ideas are contrary to yours. At work, the Super-Agreeable will volunteer to do every job and get none of them done.

5. “NO Person”

● Able to defeat big ideas with a single syllable
● Deadly to morale

6. “Know –it-All”

● Has a low tolerance for correction and contradiction

7.” Maybe Person”

● Procrastinates in hope that a better choice will present itself

Indecisives, or Maybe Persons , are very helpful people; however, they put off making decisions which might upset someone. The serious problem here is that indecisiveness can work – most unmade decisions become irrelevant through time. For them , not making a decision is a compromise between being honest and not hurting someone.

Once you’ve thought about the situation and identified the specific types of behaviour that bother you, you’ll probably want to go on to qualifying your acceptance of the behaviour by evaluating its positive and negative effects.

Step 2: Qualifying

Understanding the motives and reasons for problem behaviour makes solving the problem much easier. Before you act, pay attention to the effects of the behaviour. Once you know how the behaviour fits into your life, and how severe the effects are, you may decide that you are willing to accept the behavour. However, most people who encounter inconsiderate behaviour usually want to modify some aspect of the situation.
Here is What Doesn’t Work: 
1. Sending solutions
Common phrases that indicate solving include: “Stop doing.. and start...”, “What if you...”, “Why don’t you..” Telling people what to do does not work. The more you push solutions on people, the more they pull away from you and your suggestion. 
2. Moralizing
Common phrases that indicate moralizing include: “You should..”, “It would be good for you to..”, “Stop doing wrong..” 
3. Complaints
“I wish Bill wasn’t so damn annoying.” If you complain, you are the difficult person. You become no better than the person you try to change. 
4. Criticism
People criticize to build change. “I’m results-focused. I criticize people to get things done.” Avoid criticism because it intensifies conflict. Criticized individuals feel unworthy and less important.

Step 3: Strategies to manage difficult behaviours

Generally, to deal with any type of difficult behaviour you have 4 choices:
1st Choice: Stay and do nothing
2nd Choice: Remove the person from your life
3rd Choice: Change your behaviour
4th Choice: Change your attitude

1st Choice: Stay and do nothing

Ask yourself two questions:
“If I do not respond, what is the worst thing that can result from it?”
“If I do respond, what is the worst thing that can result from it?”
Answering these questions often ads perspective to the situation, and you’ll realize that nothing good will come out of reacting. Your energy will be wasted, and your inner space disturbed.
Some people react to difficult people by accepting their behaviour. They often find confrontation unpleasant and would prefer to overlook the matter completely. They have the right to express their own opinions and we have the right and will power to choose our responses. We can choose peace or we can choose conflict. If this will not make you to feel like a victim, it can be your choice.

2nd Choice: Remove the person from your life

Start with listing out things in your life most important to you. 
Then ask yourself:, “Will a communication with this person contribute to the things that matter most to me?”.

Sometimes it’s the best option. If your landlord is really bad, consider moving. If your boss or co-workers are terrible, leave. 
Eleanor Reesevelt said,” You are nobody’s victim without your permission.”

3rd Choice: Change your behaviour

Difficult people have learned, often from childhood that being difficult puts other people at a disadvantage. It’s that disadvantage they count on to get the results they want. 
Possibly the most critical thing you need remember is not to let difficult people get the upper hand – remain on an equal basis with them. If you will change the way you deal with people and they will need to learn new ways to deal with you.
We highly recommend reading:
Active Listening as an Anger Managment Technique

Once you ‘ve clarified the issue and understand the details of the problem behaviour and its causes, you will be able to take charge of an unpleasant situation and redirect its result.

Here is some strategies to cope with some common types of difficult people:

Sherman Tank: 

Your new behaviour: assertive , polite, professional  
Your goal:
assertively express your own views, not try to win a battle of right and wrong.

The most important aspect of coping with Sherman Tanks is to stand up for yourself, don’t fight and turn the Tank into a constructive discussion. Openly aggressive people expect others to either run away from them or react with rage.  
It is important to make your difference of opinion known and understood. Throughout the attack, in whatever form it takes, continue to reassert that your opinion differs and why.  
You may have to interrupt Sherman Tanks to get into the conversation because they are not likely to pause to giver you the chance. To get their attention, say their name in a loud, clear voice. 

Present your own point of view, in an assertive fashion, by using phrases such as “In my opinion...”; “I disagree with you...”.

In this way , you are not telling the Sherman Tank what to do, but rather you are expressing your opinions.

Avoid public situations where the Tank’s pride demands victory at all costs. If possible, invite him aside for a private chat. Don’t be surprised if you only gain trust and respect from a Sherman Tank after you start standing up for yourself.


Your new behaviour: assertive , polite, professional
Your goal: to give them an alternative to a direct conflict by asking questions rather than making statements

Snipers, like Sherman Tanks, feel very strongly about how others should think and act.
The first step in coping with Snipers is to force them out into the open. Ask questions like, “That sounded like a dig. Was it?”. Then, if your Sniper responds by ridiculing you even further, say something like,” Sounds like you are ridiculing me. Are you?”; “ That sounds like you are making fun of me. Are you?”. A sniper usually replies to such accusations with denial,” I am only joking.”

By asking the questions, you have stood up to the Sniper and are ready to take the next step towards coping. 
Don’t agree with the Sniper’s criticisms. Try to discover the real problem and deal with it. Remember, that questioning covert attacks will reduce the chance for similar attacks in the future.


Your new behaviour: assertive , patient , polite, professional
Your goal: to wait for the person to run out of some steam, then assert your own opinions with confidence

To cope with an Exploder, wait for the outburst to come to an end. It is common for Exploders to suddenly realize where they are and what they are doing and then to quiet very quickly. But, if there doesn’t seem to be an imminent pause in the explosion, you should try to bring it to a close. Try saying “Right, Right!” “Wait a minute” or “Yes. Yes!” with enough loudness that they can hear. Suddenly standing up may also catch their attention long enough to break the tantrum.
Once Exploders have settled down, make sure they know you take them seriously by saying things like “ I can see this is very important to you and I would like to talk about it, but not like this.’


Your new behaviour: cooperative with optimism
Your goal: to help with to see the other side of the situation

The one successful way of coping with Complainers is to help them take a problem – solving perspective toward their complaints.

The first step is to listen to their complaints. Then acknowledge what they are saying by repeating it back to them, and you may have to interrupt them to do this. As you acknowledge, use specific examples to avoid words like never and always – two of the Complainer’s favourites.

Don’t agree with the Complainer, and there is a difference between acknowledge and agree. Agreeing with the Complainer is admitting your role in the problems. You are validating the belief that they are blameless and the responsibility is all yours.
Now, move quickly into problem-solving. Ask the Complainer questions to help identify the real source of the problem. Help the Complainer to see the other side of the situation.

Silent People:

Your new behaviour: cooperative
Your goal: to get them to talk

Ask them questions that can’t be answered with just a “Yes” or “no”, such as, “Why is it uncomfortable for you to answer my questions?”; “How do you feel about this?” or “What are your ideas?”. Then wait at least one full minute before you say anything. This long silence may make them uncomfortable enough to say something.

To stop yourself from jumping in with more conversation, be to the point and say something like”I expected you to say something, and you are not. What does that mean?(another open-ended question).

If you are still at an impasse, begin to give your thoughts, observations or ideas on the matter and once again, end with an open-ended question. Be prepared at this point, to hear something like “Can I go now?” from them. “Not yet, I still have some other things on my mind”, is a good response. Using the following statements or questions may help the silent people to get started.
“You look distressed.”; “ Don’t worry about starting at the beginning. What’s on your mind right now?”. If and when they do start talking, listen carefully.


Your new behaviour: cooperative, task focus
Your goal: to avoid getting drawn in to their negativity and stay with your own action plan

Negativists are extremely pessimistic and more bitter than complainers. Usually, they feel defeated or powerless in regard to the situation. And the more you try to solve a problem or improve a situation, the more negative they become.
When coping with Negativists, don’t try to persuade them out of their pessimism. State your own realistic optimism but don’t argue with their point of view. If a new idea is being considered, quickly point out the possible negative repercussions yourself and then include the Negativist in the discussion which you are leading. If it seems impossible to get the Negativist seeing things your way, then you may have to take action on your own and simply announce your plans to the Negativist.


Your new behaviour: assertive
Your goal: to be aware for their behaviour in yourself

When dealing with a think-they-know-it-all, state the facts as an alternative version. Offering an alternative version will give them a way out while still looking smart and important.
Ask question to introduce the possible alternatives, “I realize this may not be what we will be doing , but could we consider this...”. At some point in the conversation , they will realize you are an expert and will panic. Allow them to save themselves from embarrassment.

4th Choice: Change your attitude about the person

Change your attitude will set you free from your reaction to the problem you see in their behaviour. You need to learn to see them differently, listen to them differently and feel differently around them.

Always remember that people who irritate us usually have something to show us about ourselves. For example, being around your chronically late friend can remind you how quick-tempered and impatient you can be. 
Ask yourself “Does it matter if I am right?” If yes, then ask “Why do I need to be right? What will I gain?”. 
Be proactive, not reactive. Reactive persons blame circumstances for their reality. Proactive persons create what they want regardless of constricting circumstances. Create a value in yourself to be proactive and treat people with respect and you will feel proud, empowered, and in control of your life – regardless of whether you successfully handle the situation.
Don’t blame people for how they make you feel. The degree you are a victim of someone’s behaviour controls the impact it has on you. Take responsibility for how you feel. Prevent people from entering and exiting your emotional state at will.

Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it!

1. Dealing with Difficult People
2.  Coping with Difficult People, Dr Robert Bramson, 2006 NSBA Convention
3. Dealing with People You  Can't Stand, Dr Rick Brinkman & Dr Rick Kirschner, 2006 NSBA Convention
4. Working with Difficult People, Greg McKenzie, Oregan School Boards Association
5. Winton Goodrich, Vermont School Boards Association, 2006 Federation Trainers Conference

July 12, 2011

Ten Keys for Building a Resilient Mindset

In their latest book The Power of Resilience: Achieving Balance, Confidence, and Personal Strength in Your Life, psychologists Brooks and Goldstein describe how adults can develop a "resilient mindset." According to the authors, while the word "resilient" is usually associated with people overcoming great adversity, daily stress often requires resilience. Using many examples from their clinical practice, Brooks and Goldstein outline how this mindset is best achieved.
This article represents a brief summary of this book, highlighting 10 keys for building a resilient mindset. Each concept covered in each of the chapters of the book.
Do you often feel stressed? According ABS 64% of adults in Australia experienced at least one personal periodic or frequent stress in the 12 months. Stress has been implicated in, or reported to exacerbate, a wide spectrum of physical problems, including heart disease, stroke, and obesity. These statistics might prompt some people to become even more worried, but that is not our intention. If we recognize the effect stress has on our lives, we will be better prepared to manage it and learn to lead more productive, satisfying, healthy and resilient lives. Being resilient does not mean we eliminate all risks or adverse conditions, but rather when they arise we deal with these conditions effectively.
Resilient individuals posses a particular mindset and accompanying skills that help them respond to life’s challenges with confidence and grace. What are the features of this mindset? What assumptions do resilient people have about themselves that reduce their vulnerability to stress and help them to cope more productively? Certainly, one’s lifestyle, including exercise, diet, and sleep all influence the effectiveness with which stress is managed. But how do you nurture such a healthy existence?

In this article, we will describe ten keys for developing stress hardiness and a resilient mindset and lifestyle. As you read each key, ask yourself, “Am I practicing this? If not, what must I change to strengthen my resilient mindset?”
Also, remember that changing one’s mindset and behaviour takes time. Be realistic in what you can accomplish within a certain timeframe. Each small step leads to reaching a larger goal.
Key 1: Rewrite Your Negative Scripts
Do you find yourself saying or doing the same ineffective things over and over again? It is impressive how many people do. We often become trapped, blindly following a prescribed script that does not allow for change or creativity in the face of stress and problems. Yet, we are the authors of our lives. We can move from less satisfying, less productive scripts, to ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving that foster a resilient mindset. Identify the negative scripts in your life or things you would like to change. Define short and long-term goals related to these issues. Consider new scripts, select one that you believe has the greatest chance for success, plan for obstacles, and follow through. Change cannot take place unless we become active participants in our lives.

Key2: Choose a Path to Become Stress Hardy Rather Than Stressed Out
Research indicates that stress hardy people engage in activities that bring purpose or meaning to their lives whether in their role as parent, spouse, co-worker, or friend or in the volunteer work they do. What would you list as the priorities in your life and do you spend time engaged in these activities? In addition, stress hardy individuals view difficult situations as an expected part of life. When such situations arise, they interpret them as challenges to confront and learn from rather than as stress to avoid. It is helpful to recall that in the Chinese language the same word is used for “crisis” and “opportunity with danger”.

Stress hardy people can define the factors over which they have control and those that they don’t , focusing their time and energy on situations within their sphere of influence.
You might wish to do the following. Make a list of five things you want to see different in your life and then next to each item write down whether someone else has to change first for you to achieve your goal. If you discover that your happiness is based on another person changing first, whoever it may be, you might be waiting a long time to become happy. You are likely to become increasingly stressed during the wait. You will feel empowered if you focus your time and energy on what you can do differently to improve particular situations.

Key 3: View Life Through the Eyes of Others

Resilient individuals develop satisfying relationships in their lives. A cornerstone of such relationships is the capacity to be empathic and to place oneself inside the shoes of others and see the world through their eyes.

To become more empathic ask yourself: “In anything I say or do, what do I hope to accomplish? Do I say or do things in ways that will motivate others to be willing to listen and respond to me? Do I behave towards others in the same way I would like them to behave towards me?”

Make a list of the words you hope people would  use to describe you and then the words you think they would actually use. Reflect upon what actions you might take to change your behaviour so that the two lists of words are more in accord with each other.

Key 4: Communicate Effectively
The ability to communicate effectively is an integral component of resilience and is closely linked to empathy. Effective communication includes an appreciation of how our verbal and nonverbal messages are perceived by others and our capacity to be an active listener. Active listeners attempt to understand what the other person is expressing and even if they disagree they are respectful and validate that they “hear” the other person’s viewpoint. The more effectively we learn to convey our feelings, thoughts, and beliefs verbally and nonverbally, the more successful and resilient we will be.

Key 5: Accept Yourself and Others

If you are to nurture a resilient mindset, you must learn to accept yourself. Acceptance implies possessing realistic expectations and goals, recognizing your strengths as well as vulnerabilities, and leading an authentic, balanced life in which your behaviours are in accord with your values and goals. View each item on your list and reflect upon how much of your time and energy is expended to achieve what you have listed. As you learn to accept yourself, as you gain a clear picture of your strengths and vulnerabilities, as you articulate your values, you will be in a position to remove those factors that serve as obstacles to realizing a more honest, enriched life.

Key 6 : Make Connections and Display Compassion

It is difficult to be resilient if we do not nurture connections in our lives – connections to other people, to ideals, to our faith, to causes. Psychologist Julius Segal, when discussing individuals who enrich the lives of children, referred to them as “charismatic adults”, people from whom children “gather strength.” Even as adults we need people in our lives from whom we gather strength. In addition, our resilience will be enhanced if we serve as a source of strength and support for others. In this regard, consider the following questions: ‘Who are the two or three people who serve as charismatic adults in my life? What have they done that has prompted me to list them in this way? What people would say that I am the charismatic adult in their lives, and why? Aside from relationships with people, what other activities in my life supply me with a sense of connectedness? In what ways am I compassionate and giving?” Being connected to and helping others provide meaning to our lives and serve as nutriments for resilience.

Key 7: Learn to Deal with Mistakes

The ways in which we understand and respond to mistakes and failure are an integral part of a resilient mindset. When you make a mistake, what do you tell yourself? How do you react? Resilient people consider mistakes as experiences for learning and growth. They ask themselves, “What can I do differently next time to succeed?” Those who are not resilient typically interpret mistakes as attributable to conditions that cannot be easily corrected, such as a lack of intelligence. They feel defeated by mistakes and often end up blaming others or quitting or refusing to attempt things. Observe what you say to yourself when you make a mistake. It will give you a clue to how resilient you are and what you might have to change. 
Key 8 : Learn to Deal with Success and Build Islands of Competence

Just as the manner in which we understand and respond to setbacks in an integral part of a resilient mindset so too, is the way we react to successes in our lives. Think about how you understand your achievements. Those who are resilient view their accomplishments as based upon their own resources and strengths. This doesn’t mean they fail to acknowledge the support of others. Rather, they don’t dismiss or minimize what they have achieved. In contrast, people who are not resilient tend to attribute their success to factors outside their control such as luck or chance or fate. Consequently, they are not as confident or optimistic about being successful in the future. There is another feature of resilient people we wish to highlight. While they do not deny their vulnerabilities, they are able to identify their strengths or what we call their “islands of competence”. What would you list as your islands of competence? Do you regularly engage in these strengths to bolster your resilience?

Key 9 : Continue Developing Self –Discipline and Self – Control

Self-discipline and self-control
play a significant role in our daily activities. When we think before we act, when we consider the feelings of others, when we reflect upon possible solutions to problems, when we behave in a rational and thoughtful way, when we engage in developing a business plan, when we keep from screaming at someone who has done something to make us angry, we are displaying self-discipline and self-control.

It is a major component of stress-hardiness and resilience. Self-discipline and self-control must be exercised in the following ways: Accept ownership for your behaviour. Be consistent, but not rigid. Become a proactive problem solver, thinking of different solutions before you act. Believe that every problem has a possible solution. Remember that with effort and patience, possible solutions become probable solutions. It is difficult to be resilient and have satisfying relationships if you are impulsive, arbitrary, and unpredictable. We believe that these negative traits can be changed as long as we first acknowledge their existence and then develop a realistic plan of action to modify these counterproductive behaviours.

Key 10. Maintaining Your Resilient Lifestyle Takes Work
If we abandon well-established diets and exercise, our health will suffer. The same principle is true when we consider the maintenance of a resilient lifestyle. Once you have developed the features associated with a resilient mindset and lifestyle, you cannot settle back and assume these qualities will be maintained on automatic pilot. Expected and unexpected challenges will emerge that will test your ability to be resilient. The more you understand the characteristics of resilient individuals, the more you can engage in daily and long-term exercises to maintain, and even strengthen, a resilient mindset.

Each and every day consider: “Have I listened and communicated effectively with others? Have I responded to stress, mistakes, and setbacks in thoughtful ways? Have I maintained connections to people, ideals, causes, and faith?” Leading a resilient lifestyle should be in constant focus.

July 5, 2011

Guided Self Empowerment Meditation for the Victims of Domestic Violence

Uncover your inner strength with our new Self Empowerment Meditation. With the beautiful voice of Kimi Alcott, our presenter, great relaxing music by Chris Spheeris and ideas from Robert Brooks PH.D, the author of the Power of Resilience you can achieve inner strength and the ability to be resilient in handling the challenges and stresses of life.