What Being Honest With Yourself Can Do!

Courage for self honesty

‘I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination’ Jimmy Dean

My daughter encouraged me to join FarmVille on Facebook. If you aren’t following this, I have my own virtual farm. I can buy crops and animals, but friends can send me gifts. Last week I was sent four   elephants . It started me thinking about how silly my  elephants  looked on my tiny farm.

Now I have these big  elephants  which I can’t ignore. By the way you might be wondering why I am wasting my time playing FarmVille. When I am not feeling well it is an easy occupation distracts me.

We all talk about it but do you know where the expression the  elephant   in   the   room  comes from? I didn’t know the origin of the saying.

“An  elephant   in   the   room ” is based on the idea that an  elephant   in  a  room  would be impossible to overlook; obvious I know.

What helps me to move on? What helps me to adjust my sails?

I have certainly needed to have some very tough and honest conversations with myself. It is not that I have lied to myself ever it is just that sometimes I would prefer if my life had taken a different direction. This delay has been a good protection mechanism for me. I dealt with the implications of my illness when I was ready to move on.

The truth for me is there is no one way to handle a chronic illness; no quick fixes and no easy answers. It’s my life and ultimately the buck stops with me. My doctors can guide me  in  making medical decisions but I am still left with choices.

What obvious truth are you ignoring  in  your life? What  elephants   in  your life do you need to face? You don’t need to tell anyone else you will know your own answer to this question. You don’t need to feel bad either most people I have coached over the years have had at least one  elephant   in   the   room .

I haven’t asked myself why I got sick. For that would be pointless and would be looking back. Instead I have been focusing on what i can do today to look at the choices I have now not what might have been or what I could or should have done. Honesty with myself has opened new doors.

Maybe you are not facing chronic illness. Perhaps you are in a job or relationship that you feel has come to an end.

What’s the hardest conversation you can imagine having?

Who would it be with?

What is stopping you having this conversation?

It was uncomfortable to face my own truth. The biggest clue for me now as i look back it was the conversation I didn’t want to have with myself.

The Elephant in America’s Political Living Room – The Time For Spiritual Maturity

America, there is a giant  elephant   in  our living  room . It is fear. It takes the form of racism, sexism, lying, cheating, name-calling, rumor and innuendo mongering. It’s ugly and it does not become us. As the presidential elections draw nearer, I find my inbox bombarded with sleazy attacks on the presidential candidates by those who identify themselves as the “opposite”.

Labels of left, right, conservative, liberal, democrat, republican, middle of the road are for those who can’t think independently. Labels are for lemmings; and everyone has the capacity to think and feel the correctness, truth and quality of a person and his/her message.

But once someone identifies themselves as “liberal” or “Republican”, someone stops listening altogether. Nary another word they have to say is given any listen by the closed mind and locked heart caused by fear. This is what I see happening in my inbox. Friends and family send these political missives; the latest one today was from a friend in Virginia. The e-mail was a compilation of the best bumper stickers – all of which were defaming Obama and the Democrats. As I read them, I realized that people who create this kind of “information” are afraid. Only fear can make people attack others.

The presidential race ought to be all about the issues; rather fear reduces it to slurs, rumor and innuendo. Another friend forwarded to me an e-mail that was reportedly written by a soldier in Afghanistan recounting that Obama had snubbed the troops on his recent world trip. This e-mail is not verifiable: it cannot be traced back to the author’s original e-mail address but just gets forwarded on, like it’s Gospel truth…out of fear.

I trust that Americans can figure out for themselves what is Truth and not; but the key to this is that you have to come to the table with an open mind and an open heart. You have to come to the debate with the attitude, “Tell me who you are.” You can’t come to the table with fear that obscure you from ever hearing what they have to say, let alone giving yourself the opportunity to FEEL the truth or experience their beauty.

Fear is irrational. It has no reason; it simply lurks within a heart and obliterates the Light. Fear is why we are at war. Fear is why we fight with each other. Fear is why we are sick. Fear is why people pass on information that is without verifiable truth, because it supports your fear, which is basically lack. You believe that your good will be at the expense of “their” good. This is categorically a lie. My good is not at the expense of yours. There is enough, plenty, for everyone.

If you want a safer, better, and happier America, then each of us needs to take a good hard and honest look at who we are as individuals, first.

No one need know what goes on in this conversation between you and YOU. But we each had better have that private and intimate conversation with our self. Because it is we, the people, that make up this country. You, me, and all the John and Jane Doe’s across these 50 states. However much fear and hatred that we harbor in our hearts, that is what we are going to experience as a country in this world.

It’s time for some individual house keeping. I challenge you to have that conversation with yourself. Come to terms with the fact that you are afraid of those of different colors, different creeds, and different ideas. Now, I challenge you to love them. I challenge you to listen with an open mind and open heart.

This is no airy fairy exercise, my friends. This country is only as good as the people who comprise it. If you love America, but clearly hate certain Americans, how can this Nation stand? It won’t. It will crumble from within; and it won’t take any foreign enemy to bury us.

This country is advanced citizenship. It takes clear hearts and clear minds to deal with serious problems. To be a citizen of America means you must defend the right of someone to voice their opinion about something you would spend your life trying to defeat. It means you will disagree with that person vehemently on the issue; but you will respect that person as an equal citizen and a worthy being. This is not an oxymoron. You can disagree with someone and still respect them and their right to their opinion. If you respect their right to their opinion, you will not defame, slur or disrespect someone by making a policy opinion into a personal slur. That is spiritual immaturity. We are called to become spiritual adults, now.

It’s time to grow up America. We can conduct healthy, spirited debates and actually learn from each other. Only fear closes our ears to what someone has to say. It costs us nothing to listen, not just with our minds, but also with our hearts. Times are changing, as they always do. It just feels so much better when you listen with your heart open, even to something you don’t like. It’s the idea you disagree with; the person is just like you: God having a physical adventure.

We have a duty as Americans to be very good stewards of democracy. Democracy is a place where everything, every idea, every people get to be here, much like the books in a library. The books in the library sit side by side offering their unique and individual thoughts for those who wish to read them. Those books don’t hop off the shelf at night and duke it out. So it is in this wonderful and promising place, America. It all gets to be here. It takes advanced citizenship and spiritual maturity to fully grasp what this really means and how great a challenge this is to each of us every day of our lives.

We have nothing to fear, except fear; because fear will undermine us and crumble us from the inside out.

Next time you see someone whose political views you think you hate, try this: take a deep breath. Acknowledge that he/she is a unique individual with unique things to say, just like you. Acknowledge that you might be afraid of some of the things they might offer. Now, listen to them with your full attention and respect. Breathe in again, and now breathe out. Can you realize that you are in no way diminished because they have that idea? You can thank them for sharing. You can chew over what they had to say. You can discard all of it; some of it; or, surprise, none of it. Nothing bad is going to happen just because you listened with an open mind and an open heart. The only time something bad can happen is when you fear it; then, my friend, you will attract it.

This Universe can supply every one’s needs at the same time. There’s enough for everyone. America is the place on Earth where we are either going to learn to do that in the physical as a Nation; or we will go the way of all the other civilizations that came before us.

We can trust in the Good in each of us. Speak to that. Listen to that.

Everyone is God at center. America is the great experiment. Can we learn to live with all those different Gods in the same place and know that each of our Good is always at play?

I say we can. That is applied spirituality in action; that is spiritual maturity.

The Elephant in Your Dining Room

How do you eat an elephant? It’s easy . . . one bite at a time. Take a look at the Grand Canyon. It’s really quite awesome. Yet, all that rock was whittled away one drop of water at a time, one grain of sand at a time, multiplied by untold billions of such infinitesimal events. Although most of the time, I write about so-called ‘second level’ or quantum change as the response to cultural stagnation (and social stalemate), there is an alternative kind of change: erosion. Erosion doesn’t just happen in elephants and canyons, it happens in emotions, as well. Here’s an example.

Where I come from in New England, there’s a chain of discount furniture stores that runs frequent TV commercials featuring the owner, Bob. The advertisements can be silly at best and loud and annoying, at their worst. It’s the sort of commercial that, whenever it comes on, you want to grab the remote and jump on the ‘mute’ button. These ads have been going on since the early 1990’s, and there’s a reason why they’ve stood the test of time: they work. Psychologists note that you have to see a message at least six times before it ‘registers’. If the message is annoying or distasteful, there’s yet another factor at work.

Every time you’re exposed to something that stimulates a strong emotional reaction, that reaction is lessened. You can’t sustain a powerful emotion for very long. Like a constant noise, it fades into the background and, behold! the message comes through. Emotions can be eroded much more quickly and effectively than stone (or digested more readily than the elephant). That’s one reason why the ‘straw man’ and the ‘red herring’ arguments work so well: on the one hand, we don’t pay a lot of attention to the ‘message behind the message’ and, on the other hand, even a strong negative reaction to these things are slowly neutralized over time and repetition. If you say it long enough and loud enough, it’s sure to be true.

What’s a ‘straw man’ argument? That’s when, instead of focusing on the pertinent points of a discussion, you drag in all the ‘what if’ and ‘imagine what would happen’ speculations. John Kennedy’s opponents used the straw man argument to suggest that, if he were elected, his presidency would be controlled by the Vatican. It’s the ‘soft on terrorism’ argument that’s been used so effectively to scare the American public into supporting the erosion of their civil rights under the guise of protecting them. The argument that any official running for national office could possibly be soft on terrorism boggles the imagination, but it doesn’t stop people from repeating it endlessly and, in the repetition, the elephant disappears, one bite at a time.

And, what’s a ‘red herring’ argument? That’s a logical fallacy that drags in extraneous facts (or pseudo-facts) that have no real relevance to the debate, but they’re screamed so loud that they appear important. Consider the famous ‘swift boating’ of John Kerry. Rumor, innuendo and skillful manipulation of facts served to undermine the battle service record of a man whose opponent didn’t even serve. Now, the red herring mill is at it again, so much more effectively because the Internet has (and needs) no censors and anonymity hides perpetrators from libel accountability. The religious background of one’s family and friends has no relevance in a presidential campaign, yet this true red herring is absorbing a lot of popular energy. People may start out saying, ‘This doesn’t make any sense,” but, after the hundredth repetition, the elephant is mainly gone, and only ‘there must be some truth to this’ remains.

Democracy seldom dies from outside attack or inner collapse. It gets picked apart gradually as if by one of those scalers that the dental hygienist uses to remove plaque from your teeth. Strong feelings like anger and outrage grow numb under the gnawing influence of illogic and emotionalism. We don’t buy what we think we need, we buy what we feel we need. So long as we go along our merry ways, nearly oblivious to the not-so-subtle emotional manipulation we’re being subjected to continually, we’re at risk. When the elephant has been devoured, who do you think will be next on the menu?

Is There An Elephant In Your Living Room?

I was having a conversation with an old friend. The conversation was lackluster and so were we. For different reasons both of us were struggling with a profound sense of loss.

Any sense of loss, as we all know, feeds into every sense of loss we have ever known.

My friend, who is more of a True Brit Stiff-Upper-Lip person than I am, said: “Well, you just have to get on with it, don’t you?”

My answer to my friend was that ‘getting on with it’ stinks. It’s what we’ve all been taught to do. Yet we know it doesn’t work particularly well. You know, I know, pretty well everyone who isn’t eyeball deep in denial knows, that it doesn’t work. It doesn’t work because what you resist, persists.

‘Getting on with it’ means tiptoeing around the elephant in the middle of your living room. The elephant doesn’t go away, your living space does.

How long have you co-existed with the elephant of abused feelings crowding out the space at the center of your life?

How possible is it to expect to spend the rest of your life breathing in to squeeze round the ever growing elephant in your living-room?

Rules For Disposing Of Metaphorical Elephants

The rules for disposing of a metaphorical elephant are quite unlike those regarding real elephants. First of, there is no preservation order on metaphorical elephants. Nor should there be. You can’t shoot them, or poison them (in point of fact, they poison you). But you can dispose of them with kindness – kindness to yourself.

Now you and I know that that is the hardest thing. You don’t have to be a caregiver to be an abused woman (nor are all caregivers abused) but it certainly helps. It goes with the territory. Most of us would be quicker to lavish care on a stranger’s pet rat than we would on ourselves. That’s possibly a slight exaggeration but I trust you get my drift.

So how do you dispose of the elephant of sad, hurt and angry feelings?

You, we, have to find a way to own and honour those feelings. That is the cleanest and most elegant way of emptying out your living room.

Why do you need to empty out your living room? Because you cannot hope to fill it with the feelings – and the reality – you desire and deserve if it is already crowded out with old clutter.

So, is there any magic trick to owning those feelings? I think not. Yes, it helps if you can share them with another person, but only if you can share them with another person who will listen respectfully. You are not looking for any response other than acceptance. Another person’s acceptance may well help you reach your own.

If necessary, you can start this work on your own either speaking those feelings out loud or, better, writing them down.

What has happened to you is what it is. There may be huge sadness attached. You can call it tragic if you will, but doing so will increase its hold on you, when what you want is to loosen its hold.

It happened, that is the fact. To some degree it hones you. But never forget that you still own the tools to sculpt yourself into the shape you desire. Only own your feelings.

Yes, you feel that way. Yes, it takes courage to own those feelings.

Actually, it takes enormous courage to be you. You do it with as much grace and dignity as you possibly can. (And sometimes that may not look too much like grace or dignity. Well, that’s just you being human.)

There is a saying that I love. “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”

Suppose we were here to own and honour our very human experiences and feelings? I certainly believe we are. It matters not to me whether I am right or wrong. That belief adds value and meaning to my life.

So how did my lackluster evening end? It ended remarkably well, with a lot of warmth, connection and shift. It ended with the two of us shifting our focus from things inexorably gone to present joys.

Those present joys completely displaced the elephants (we started with two) in our shared living space. In fact, it happened so fast that we didn’t notice. At the sound of our genuine, spontaneous laughter those elephants vanished.

Will they come back? Quite possibly. They may well squeeze their huge, grey bulk back into the living room. And the same system for ‘disappearing’ them will work just as well next time, and the time after that, and the time after that…

An abusive relationship leaves you feeling utterly powerless. (It’s funny, isn’t it how an abusive partner does his level best to exclude all laughter from your life?)

The tools for starting to reclaim your power are so small, so seemingly insignificant that you may have overlooked them for years. But they still work.

When will you start to use them so you can create the beautiful, serene, spacious living room you want for yourself?

© 2008 Annie Kaszina

Got Elephants in Your Room? Clear Em Out!

You know your singer-songwriter friends who you love to pieces but have blinders on when it comes to their music? They have the talent, but there is something they don’t have just right yet. Maybe they are fooling themselves about how good they are, so they don’t work at it enough. Or maybe they keep writing the exact same song over and over again -but are so proud their solo efforts when really they need some serious co-writing help. There is this thing about ego and creativity that can leave artists  in  a black hole that sucks any chance of success from their grasp.

Truth is, almost no one’s going to tell you about your  elephants  – instead, they’re likely to just leave you to hang out with them, counting tusks. And it could cost you your career!

The #1  Elephant : Self-Sabotage

Self-sabotage happens more than you know – and the nature of it is that you don’t know you’re doing it. The number one way I see artists sabotage themselves is with perfectionism. Ring a bell? I know this one well myself. Truth be known, perfectionism is a trap! And you know what else I notice? Everyone who is a self-proclaimed perfectionist (self included) is often proud of it! Sadly, it’s not funny at all – it’s actually robs you of moving forward and undermines your self-confidence. The quickest way to release yourself of the burden is to accept yourself, flaws and all (I said quickest -not easiest). The moment you accept yourself, flaws and all, is the moment you move forward.

The way to get clear is to do an inventory of your beliefs. I learned this from don Miguel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements. One day he asked us to take out our journals and write down all of our beliefs. This was a great exercise. Try it, accompanied by some self-administered truth serum, and it will reveal some kind of shocking stuff about what you really believe – note to self.

# 2  Elephant : Reality Check

The worst case scenario is when you are doing everything possible working on your music, but you don’t have someone to tell you the truth. I have a student who is so picky about what she writes (lyrics) that she never finishes any songs – she just keeps flitting from song to song thinking the next one will be the one that comes out right. Matter of fact she thinks she’s “picky” about lyrics, but really she’s non-committal and underneath that, she’s scared that she’s not a good enough writer. So really what’s running her is her fear – not her lack of creativity. Besides the fact that she has no songs to sing that are her own, she doesn’t get to develop as an artist.. So I gave her a reality check – I told her the truth, and I basically won’t let her get away with it anymore because I know it’s not what really she wants. So far, we have one song close to completion (old habits die hard) and another one on the way! She’s still judging them, but at least she’s staring her  elephant  straight  in  the eye now.

So here’s a quick test to see what  elephants  (or 8 pound gorilla) could be hiding  in  your  room  that could be keeping you from your destiny.

How Many  Elephants  Are  in  Your  Room ? Your Checklist:

So, are you ready for a healthy dose of reality? This may seem harsh, but the cold hard truth is exactly what you need to arm yourself for your career and beat out the competition. With so many artists out there clamoring to be heard – and your music at stake – here’s how to escort an  Elephant  or two politely out of your  room .

Answer the following questions quite honestly. Each one of these is absolutely non-negotiable, if you are destined for the red carpet.

For every no, add one  Elephant  to your  room . At the end of the exercise, tally up how many are  in  your herd!

1. Do you practice your vocal technique 5 days a week for at least 30 minutes? No exceptions.

If you don’t, you absolutely have an  Elephant   in  your  room .

2. Do you write at least one song per week?

If you don’t, you have an  Elephant   in  your  room .

3. Do you practice an instrument (piano or guitar) 5 days a week for at least 30 minutes?

If you don’t, you have one  Elephant   in  your  room .

4. Do you sing on pitch and have good phrasing (or are working like mad on it?)

If you don’t, you have an  Elephant   in  your  room .

5. Beginners: Do you have a professionally recorded demo of your material (at least 4 songs) –

Emerging artists: Do you have a record, EP & videos on You Tube (or are actively working on them?)

If you don’t/aren’t, you have an  Elephant   in  your  room .

6. Do you get compliments on your voice from strangers?

If you don’t, you have an  Elephant   in  your  room  (unless you never perform and then you have 2  Elephants   in  your  room  – see next question).

7. Do you perform often?

If you don’t, you have an  Elephant   in  your  room .

8. Have you read Everything You Need to Know About the Music Industry by Donald Passman?

If you haven’t, you have one  Elephant   in  your  room .

9. Do you train your vocal instrument with a professional vocal coach to avoid problems and have an awesome voice?

If you aren’t, you most definitely have an  Elephant   in  your  room .

10. Does every professional on your team believe  in  you wholeheartedly?

And if you don’t have a team yet you have multiple  Elephants   in  your  room  (A team designates at least one of the following: voice coach, co-writer, mentor, VA (Virtual Assistant), manager, producer etc.)

If not, you have one  Elephant   in  your  room .

11. Do you love the music you are creating? (Operative word is “love”. Making great music is about making the music you want to hear – no exceptions).

If not, you have an  Elephant   in  your  room .

Add up the  Elephants   in  your  room  here: _______

If you have 7 or more  Elephants   in  your  room , this is a herd. Your subconscious brain needs a major overhaul. Read the book The Power of Your Subconscious Mind by Dr. Joseph Murphy immediately.

If you have 5-6  Elephants   in  your  room , you are definitely sabotaging yourself. Focus on getting down to 5, less than half, and then whittle away at the rest! You can do it! One foot  in  front of the other.

If you have 3-4  Elephants   in  your  room , you are fooling yourself a little bit and just need to get real. Ask 2 people close to you what they think you need help with.

If you have 1-2  Elephants   in  your  room , you are  in  the normal ballpark and just need a little tweaking and focusing! You’re so close!

If you have 0  Elephants   in  your  room , you are awesome! You could become famous one day soon! Gotta love it! Proud of ya!

Ready to usher some  Elephants  out of your  room ? Keep this list on your desk and turn every no into a yes! You not only could become a great artist, you may actually get a leg up  in  this industry! And no matter how many or how little  Elephants  you have  in  your  room , still read The Power of Your Subconscious Mind by Dr. Joseph Murphy – it’ll take you there.

The Pink Elephant in the Living Room

“I thought I looked great that day and even though everyone said that I looked great…most thought I was sick.”

On this day, I woke up feeling energetic and alive. Everything seemed to fall into place so easily and I love it when a plan comes together like that. It was one of those days where all the traffic lights throughout your day turned to green.

As I was preparing to go to a little gathering, I thought it would be great to put on something special. I took a relaxing shower and as the water trickled down my head I thought, ” Yeah, it would be a good day to grab those special jeans that looked as if they were custom made for me, put on that funky little top I bought last week and put on my best makeup. As the relaxing shower came to an end I got dressed stepped back into the bathroom and laid out the big guns! All my facial creams, and shadows, lipsticks and began to create what I thought was masterpiece in the making. You know what I mean… one of those times you look in the mirror and you say to yourself… “Yeah… I look good today!”.

After I received my stamp of approval from my family I headed on my way to that special gathering. Feeling self-assured and energetic, I proceeded out the door in hopes of having a great time.

I arrived at the gathering still excited to mingle and engage in some fun and enlightening conversation. And I did. Seemed everyone else was empowered with excitement and the room reeked of high octane energy. It was a fun time to be had by everyone! I ran into a few people I knew and made new friends along the way. We devoured full course meals of many varieties.

Almost everyone I encountered was generous in their compliments about me. Everyone said that I look great. I got compliments from my outfit to how glowing and pretty they thought my skin looked. Some folks took it a step further and said they thought I was one of the most stylish people they had known. Wow! I was on fire that night. As people danced around me and mingled with one another, I took a moment to quietly reflect on how inspired I was by all the energy and compliments that were given to me. I enjoyed everyone as much as they enjoyed me! Pictures and videos were taken with threats of posting them on one of those social networks for the world to see, but it was just fine with me. Outside of a few awkward poses and some candid facial expressions, I was certain the photos would reflect the positive and fun time we all had.

As the evening progressed, I could see people preparing their take home dishes, glowing from theirs cell phone screens while jotting down everyone’s contact information. It was time for us all to leave and I began working my way over to whomever was in my path to get some hugs, kisses and squeezes. All my actions were reciprocated and everyone promised everyone that they would stay in touch. The evening ended just the way it started. I was thankful for the good time we had.

The next day as promised, many of those candid shots ended up on a website or two. And just as I predicted you see how much fun we had. All those images were “photo memory book ready”! I scoured over the photos anticipating what I would find next. Before I knew it,… it was off to start my busy day. A week went by and folks were still talking about our little outing. A few more weeks went by as usual and then I got a phone call from one of the friends that attended the gathering. We laughed all over again about our event. Then she said, that one of the people who was at the event asked how I was doing and if I was OK. My friend then went on to explain that quite a few people had approached her about what was going on with me. I asked my friend what they were saying and if all the people inquiring about me were people who had just met me. She said, “No”. They all wanted to know if you were sick, did you have cancer and some weren’t quite sure what you had, heard it was alopecia, but didn’t know what it was or why it even caused me to lose my hair. But they all said you looked great! I listened quietly to my friend knowing this is nothing unusual for someone to be inquisitive about my bald head. No big deal there. Also, some even think I am just being stylish with all the creative ways to tie a scarf or embellish one of my cheap store bought hats.

For me, it was the fact that while I thought I looked great that day and even though everyone said that I looked great… most thought I was sick. How do you look sick and great at the same time? Most people would say that a person looked great in spite of being sick, right? Did I look like a sick person who in spite of being sick looked great? Why is it that a woman can go into a room, be bald and everyone assumes she’s sick? Had it been one of my male counterparts, no one would have paid any attention. Did all the people who said I looked great really mean what they said? I’m not sick. I get weary of people always associating me with being sick. Why can’t it just be that I looked good and leave it at that?

I kinda felt that people weren’t being sincere with all the wonderful comments I received that night. And at the same time, I totally understand that they are not going to just come out and say what’s on their minds. I would probably react the same way if the shoe were on the other foot. This issue is what makes having alopecia sometimes difficult to process. I was the “oddity”  in   the   room  that night. I was “the bald woman” that night. All the while, I thought I looked hot! (laughing)

Being a bald woman sometimes makes me feel like the old analogy… “the pink  elephant  sitting  in  the living  room “, that everyone sort of pretends they don’t see…or are too uncomfortable to look at, or talk about… so they just act like it doesn’t exist. The question then becomes, “What would you expect people to do?” I don’t have the answer to that question.

What ‘s important is that while I was having all that fun, I didn’t see myself as an oddity or the”pink  elephant   in  the living  room “. I felt beautiful, energetic and alive. I can’t control people’s thoughts about what I look like or expect them to not think that I could be sick…but what I can do is accept who I am and continue to feel beautiful, alive and energetic. You see, this way…the thought of me being sick may come up  in  their minds, but it will be as a quick afterthought. I believe that what they will remember is that I carried myself with dignity and pride. I want their ending thought and impression to be that they will look at me and say…”She is beautiful.”.

I’d like to tell others who have alopecia that no matter what type or degree, they shouldn’t treat other people’s reaction to them as “the pink  elephant   in  the living  room “. I feel you shouldn’t and can’t ignore the fact that people are going to question your hair loss….And if they do, don’t dissipate…educate!!! Whatever you do, just be you…which is beautiful, inside and out.

As always, “Be Bald and Be Happy! Holla!”

Help With Depression – Is Mental Health Still the Elephant in the Room

Today, more and more people seem to be talking about psychology, therapy and mental health.

This year the media has been extra generous in its portrayal of mental health issues. We’ve had multiple soap opera plot lines and docudramas detailing the life of the rich and bipolar as well as a vast array of celebrity ‘meltdowns’. The lay man is enjoying an informed tour of mental health issues, from the comfort of his front room. Or is he?

Everyone can experience mental ill health- from the famed, to the less than famed; and if it’s on the TV it must be ok. As the adverts would have us believe, that elephant in the room has been well and truly exposed, with famous faces around the world admitting to a mental health issue or confessing to using medication for said difficulty.

With all this in hand, one might guess that a girl about town of today’s world would be more comfortable than ever before in sharing her own challenges. After all, Ms Wax does it, and makes many thousands at the West End doing so. So what does the research say on this?

As you reflect on these changes in media coverage over the last 18 months, you may find yourself not so pleasantly surprised to learn that according to research from campaigners at platform 51; A 3rd of women take anti-depressants in their life. Of those, a quarter take them for 10 years or more. And most worrying, 18% keep it a secret from their families. 1 in ten wouldn’t even tell a partner.

Alternatively, I noticed that niche holistic approaches to mental health were increasing viewed as more acceptable. Twining’s are even using the wellbeing concept as a marketing tool- to sell teabags! *After all it does seem more du jour to see an executive coach as opposed to a psychologist. And once you’re in in the healthcare system, it’s more acceptable to have a psychologist, than a psychiatrist. What is the perceived difference in this varying terminology, and why do treatments involving medications still have this stigma attached despite being so routinely prescribed?

Why is it that young women are reluctant to discuss the use of such medication for mental health difficulties? After all, sales of anti-depressants went up 45% over the last 4 years. That’s 23 million prescriptions for anti-depressants a year.

Today’s culture is increasingly driven by ambition and achievement; admitting to feeling low, stressed or anxious is just not a desirable option. One might be forgiven for concluding that it is socially acceptable for a celebrity to have a public breakdown or an overdose; But for the average woman of the world, to admit your finding life a bit stressful or god forbid admit that you just aren’t coping-is just too much social pressure to bear.

A recent survey polled by the depression alliance suggests that women often report feeling ashamed to discuss mental health concerns with friends and family for fear of being judged, misunderstood or Labelled. It has been reported that young people in today’s achievement oriented society can often feel a sense of failure, upon receiving anti-depressants; almost a last resort scenario when one cannot think of another way. And sometimes it is. But a last resort is still a choice and that in turn requires that one exercise initiative also.

People don’t like to appear weak or inadequate. Seeking help and admitting that they are not feeling good can often be a real struggle as it interferes with one of our deepest fears – of taking up residence in… The out group! Accompanying this fear, is the common misconception that once you’ve moved into the ‘out group’, and experienced a mental health difficulty, you will have it/live there forever. This is a massive misconception that many mental health organisations have been campaigning to change.

Over the last ten years, I have been involved in a community project With Leading Mental Health Organisation Mind, and their talking therapies programme. We explore and promote the idea of mental wellbeing as belonging on a continuum. Where one might find themselves high or low or anywhere in-between. We have peaks and troughs, and the key here is-this is normal!

Our places on this scale can move up and down and round and round as often as you change your socks. After bereavement you may find yourself at a low ebb, near the lower end. Will you live there, at the lower end of wellbeing forever? No. probably not!

You may experience a great achievement and find yourself glowing at the highest heights- elated even. Will you be in a state of elation forever- probably not? The same concept applies to mental health issues. Diagnosis or no diagnosis.

Despite all the support and campaigning from organisations like MIND, RETHINK and TIME TO CHANGE It is surprisingly hard to be open about these things. Mental health disclosure takes on a more serious consequence when one explores the workplace: Medical records, insurance and selection criteria. But that kettle can wait for another day.

While some research suggests that women may hide their use of antidepressants in an effort to maintain positive self-concept and appearance both to themselves and to others. It is this very seeking of help that is an adaptive and indeed resilient behaviour. A courage which can only denote a strength of character present in one who is unwilling to settle for feeling less great- then they know they can feel, and deserve to feel.

So, let’s each consider our own beliefs around mental health issues and the social stigma surrounding it! Mental health in our own personal real lives, the lives of our clients, the lives of our nearest and dearest and the lives of celebrities and those portrayed in the media – where is the heart of this stigma lying? Are collective attitudes towards ill mental health changing in line with their media presentation? – I’m not so sure, but every little helps right!

I recently watched an old black and white movie in which the leading lady flashed a little ankle and promptly pecked her dashing date on the cheek. A total shocker! She ran away bashful and shy with all those who saw tutting at her promiscuous and socially unkempt dallying.

Our attitudes and acceptance of new ways of behaving do and have changed with the passing of time. What was once a Rare, Risque1920’s ankle flash has now become a plethora of raunchy music videos.

I think there may be hope for the subject of Ill Mental health yet.

Sales And Acknowledging Elephants In The Room

Sales has certainly changed in the last twenty years.

Previously the top salespeople were effective hard sellers, pushing the client into buying. It was widely felt that a good salesman could sell anything! It was the technique, the ability to get the potential client to sign on the dotted line.

Sales have fortunately evolved in the intervening years. It is working to show the client “value” and helping them buy the right product for them as opposed to you selling them what you have. People in sales have become educators and guides, helping people understand the product/industry and making intelligent, informed decisions. And of course, hopefully signing on with you.

But one of the most difficult challenges for anyone in sales is getting the potential client to sit down with you in the first place. The reason for that is because of that history, of what sales people used to be. It is widely acknowledged that public speaking is the greatest fear for adults in their business life. I haven’t seen anything to reflect this, but my money would be that sitting down with a salesman one on one would be a close second. We just do not want to be cornered by an aggressive salesperson.

I must confess I have that aversion. It is so bad, that when I go into a store and a perky salesperson comes up and says. “Hi, can I help you?” I immediately tell them firmly (but politely!) no. I have even gone into stores KNOWING that I would need some help and then having to scramble after them, yelling wait, WAIT, because I first told them no. Gut reactions. I have found out that I’m not alone  in  this.

So what is a salesperson to do?

Acknowledge the  elephant   in   the   room . It’s THERE! Why pretend it’s not?

The most common point is networking and you’re an insurance agent or financial advisor. You have a great elevator spiel about risk management or long term planning, yadda, yadda. People politely listen, nod and don’t give you an opening to go to the next step – making an appointment. Why? Because of the freaking  elephant  standing right next to you! He’s huge! The  elephant  of “I want you alone, so that I can corner you, put you  in  an uncomfortable position and make you do business with me”. Standing in front of it doesn’t hide it, it’s still visible!

So acknowledge it. Let the person know what you would like to do, that you want to educate them, not sell them. You are the knowledge expert. YOU are willing to take them through their situation (insurance, finances, etc) to better help them understand their situation. By giving the person a clear idea of the “value” of the meeting and reduce their fears of being locked away with a salesperson, you create a better opportunity for them to agree to meet you.

YOU HAVE THE MEETING; IT IS NOT OK THEN TO SELL!

Many salespeople make the mistake of then thinking that now that they have the meeting, they can then sell. NO. This is why you have difficulty in the first place! If you got the meeting as an Educator, conduct the meeting as an educator.

First let they (and you) understand their situation. There should be NO talk of you, your company or your product. This is the meeting you offered, where you use your knowledge to educate them on this topic.

One gent who I recently talked to let me know that his company who is training him open up the meeting with a description of the company and what it does before going into the “educating the consumer” portion. Well, ok. But here’s the problem. Why would the potential client give a hoot at that point? Also, you are now being watched closely to see if you are going to morph into that evil pushy salesperson. And now you’re blabbing about your company and its products. Are you crossing that line of selling? If not, you’re getting awfully close.

So now they have a clear idea of their situation. The next steps would be devising solutions if they have any challenges. You can then explain at that point products/features that you and your company may have. But remember you are still an educator. If the client mentions a competitor, be honest.

The competition is another  elephant . Acknowledge it. Embrace it. This is often where salesman begins bad mouthing their competitors spouting statistics and horrifying anecdotes. Pay attention to the client. Watch them stepping back not from the stories, but from you. Be upfront and honest about the differences. Worst case scenario would be that you don’t get that business. But what you did leave them with is the feeling that you were an honest broker. Not a bad position to walk away from.

The best sales job I had was when I was looking for health insurance. An agent sat with me and did the Risk Management process that all insurance agents now do. But this was the first time it happened to me. It was great! Acting as educator, he showed me where my insurance coverage was good, what needed to be looked at, etc. After one hour, I had a clearer understanding of insurance then I ever had. But the big IF was health insurance. As a small business owner, something I needed to get on my own. Not only was this agent aware of the competition, but he even gave me a number to call to get a quote from a competing agent! By those actions did he prove to be not only an educator, but someone looking out for my best interests? You bet he did.

But is that it? Just educate and hope they’ll want to go with you?

No. Although, if you did your educating right, you will have people WANTING to do business with you, just because YOU helped THEM. But, yes there often needs to be a push. But reframe the push. Again going back to my experience, the agent didn’t push me to close with him, but expressed concern that I get some kind of health insurance for my own safety. Did I know he wanted my business? You bet. Did I know he was being a little pushy to get my business? Absolutely. But he framed the discussion  in  MY interests (getting anyone’s insurance for my well being). So remember to be the potential client’s advocate. You can still throw  in  a line like – Of course I’d love to do business with you, but more importantly you should make the decision for your own….health, financial well being, safety, etc (fill  in  the blank).

So if you look at your role as an educator and an advocate, acknowledging those  elephants  that exist, you create a more positive relationship with people  in  such a way that they will want to do business with you and send business your way.

And as to my story with the insurance agent? Even though the other insurance was probably a couple of bucks cheaper, I went with him. I also transferred my home and car insurance with him. And I recommend him to everybody I can. Not because of the insurance, but because of HOW he educated me, acted as advocate for my needs and even recognized those  elephants  filling up  the   room .

The Subconscious Mind – The Elephant In The Room

I am going to try to help you understand how our subconscious mind operates. You may think you are very clever and always can express your feelings in words clearly, but unless you understand the nature of your mind, you are in for some unpleasant experiences.

First of all please understand that our subconscious mind reacts to words and not the meaning of the words.

Also please understand that this part of the mind does not depend on your beliefs either. You can be a Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist or a Jew etc, it does not matter. The words you use in your mind will stimulate it negatively or positively depending on the type of words you use.

Our subconscious mind also does not understand right from wrong or good from bad. While the conscious mind is discriminatory like when you say “I like this or I hate this”, the subconscious mind is non-discriminatory. It is a powerful neutral field of energy and will react in one way or the other depending on the words you use in your mind.

So if you say “I hope I will be fine”, you do not realize what you are doing. The word “hope” creates doubt in your mind. It is a negative word. How can you possibly feel well if you keep repeating that type of word? Now if you say and keep repeating “I am fine”, even though you do not mean it, you will feel a lot better.

In the same way, when you keep saying and repeating “I wonder what is going to happen?” or “Why didn’t he call?” you are creating doubt in your mind. You are sure to produce anxiety and panic in your system. But if you keep saying and repeating “Everything is fine” or “He is fine and will call later when it suits him”, even though you do not mean it, you will feel a lot better.

Please learn to understand that we are hypnotic beings. The words we use in our mind and what we hear from the outside world have a hypnotic effect on our mind. Negative words will make us feel negative and positive words will make us feel positive. The meaning does not matter to the subconscious mind.

So when a person asks “Doctor, am I going to get better?” can you see that the question is loaded with negatives? How can a person feel better if you keep repeating that type of question in your mind? Quite clearly this question arises out of underlying fear of not ever getting better. So how do we overcome this fear?

First of all, observe the fact that the healing power lies within every individual. It lies in our subconscious mind. All we have to do is to use this healing power to heal ourselves. Harboring fear in your subconscious always raises negative questions. Since the subconscious mind reacts to words, not the meaning of the words, give positive answers to these questions and say opposite to what you feel. Also keep saying and repeating in your mind phrases like “Every step and every breath I take, I am getting better and better, stronger and stronger”. You will be amazed to see the difference you will feel in your anxiety levels. Remember you do not have to mean what you say or even concentrate on the words you say.

Better still; get rid of the fears by learning to understand how you operate in your mind. Learn how to use the power of perception to transform yourself. You do not need will power to bring about changes in your life. What you need is a change in your perceptions.

Cryotherapy Benefits and the Big Elephant in the Room!

In this article I want to share the leading cyrotherapy benefits and the dangers to this alternative medicine!

Cryotherapy in a nutshell means cold therapy. When I mean cold I’m talking minus 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Imagine standing in this cold of air for 1.5 to 3 minutes? It doesn’t seem pleasant does it? What is even more bizarre is that people are willing to spend anywhere from $20 to $90 to do it.

If you are wondering how in the heck can the air get to negative 300 degrees. It comes down to using liquid nitrogen. It’s made from air and is cheaper to make than soda pop. Profitable business right?

Now you are thinking so many people are shelling out cash for this it must have some benefits right? What do you think is this hype or is there benefits to it?

In theory it can benefit someone when it comes to eliminating aches and pains, which nearly everyone has. The cause of the pain is inflammation. Think of a sprained ankle and swelling. How do you treat a sprained ankle, you put ice on it.

You see the connection right?

There is also a theory that your body effectively goes into survival mode when it rushes all the blood to your core. Some people feel the blood picks up extra nutrients normally held in storage.

Some people feel it can help burn unwanted fat, improve the immune system, eliminate cellulite and slow aging.

Of course these are all theories let’s talk about studies and proof. The bad news is that I couldn’t find any studies or proof that it helps. If you know of any please share in the comments below.

Now let’s talk about the risks. What do you think a big risk is? A big danger is frostbite, one small mistake and it could be bad. One lady in Texas received skin damage and is suing a place because she received wet gloves.

Until there is actual proof of benefits I would not recommend it. If you are interested in relieving pain from muscles, soreness, if you want to improve your skin, immune system, remove fat and slow aging there are much better choices with proven benefits.

One idea is omega 3 fish oil. Omega 3 reduces inflammation and this helps with pain management as well as improving the skin. There really are tons of benefits to this healthy fat.