I could write a very short article on unsolicited advice; one declarative sentence. Stop, Don’t Do It! It is rarely a good plan in any relationship. Why?
It doesn’t work, at least not often, and it can strain relationships
It makes you responsible if your advice turns out poorly.
There are some key words to define. Lets start with the word advice. Oxford Languages defines it as guidance or recommendations offered with regard to prudent future action. The Cambridge English Dictionary defines it as a suggestion about what someone should do or how they should act. That doesn’t seem too ominous. Then there is the word unsolicited. Merriam-Webster defines unsolicited as not asked for or requested. This is where the problem lies. You were not asked for it. As a result, it then runs the risk of triggering defensiveness in the receiver of that advice.
I know that watching someone struggle is difficult. That is particularly true if you believe that you have the answer to their problem. If you are really honest, how often do you welcome unsolicited advice? If it is task-based or work-related it can be helpful in some situations, but you also run the danger of conveying that you don’t believe the other person is capable of figuring things out.
Perhaps a better approach is to just say something general about your willingness to help if the other person needs it. Then, you can expect that they will ask if they are uncertain or unsure of something. If it isn’t procedural, and is in the realm of opinion, sharing is even less desirable. If someone wants to know your thoughts and opinions they will ask.
There is something about the word exercise that causes an emotional reaction for many people. I find it interesting that the word movement rarely elicits the same emotional response. Go ahead, say the words exercise and movement aloud and then notice what you feel. Try “I’m going to exercise” vs “I’m going to move.”
Although the literature suggests that exercise is beneficial for both physical and mental health, I believe many people are avoidant due to the negative connotation the word exercise has developed. Perhaps you were picked last for teams in gym class. Maybe you were teased about your level of coordination in the past. Maybe you have an internal dialogue about not being athletic.
Here are some steps you can use to get moving in the right direction.
What forms of movement do you enjoy? Do you hate sit-ups but love to dance? List as many pleasurable ways to move that you can think of. My list would include swimming, dancing, and walking in the mountains or on a beach.
What forms of movement can you tolerate, even if you don’t love them? I can tolerate an elliptical machine and stationary bike.
What forms of movement do you really dislike? I dislike stair climbing, core strength training, and running.
What forms of movement have you been curious about? My curiosity list includes kayaking, paddleboarding, yoga, rowing, and zumba.
What holds you back? Some obstacles for me are physical limitations, availability, and not wanting to feel foolish, embarrassed, or “stupid” if I’m not good at something.
Once you have the answers to these questions you can start to create a Possibility List. Then you can use the list to increase the amount of movement you do each day. It’s ok to start small with types of movement you really enjoy.
How much different would it feel to say “I get to walk in the mountains” instead of “I have to exercise?” I have said it before, words have power. Deliberately choose the word that helps you live your values in a comfortable way.
People have asked, “Do you still do Reiki?” The anwer is Yes. I do continue to use Reiki. However, much like tapping, I don’t use it as intentionally or as frequently as in the past. That realization makes me feel sad.
I find that the absence of a local Reiki Community is a factor. My Reiki Community in Ohio was robust. I loved being around other people, doing, sharing, and talking about Reiki. I really miss that. I also miss those people that were in my life then.
I deliberately use Reiki in two ways now. When I am enjoying time in nautre I often send Reiki energy out to the tress and animals. Combining Reiki with tapping is also something I do fairly frequently. I focus the Reiki energy in my fingertips while I am tapping on the meridians and it seems to enhance my experience.
Someday I would like to re-engage in a more intentional program of Reiki study, practice, and instruction. Teaching Reiki has always been greatly satisfying. Now does not feel like the right season for me, but I remain open for it when it appears
I am sure you have heard the word mindfulness. In my lifetime it has evolved from a “hippie” word to a mainstream buzzword. I think that is for good reason. It can be helpful to think about mindfulness as both a group of techniques and a lifestyle. For me, mindfulness as a lifestyle is more aspirational, but I do believe that frequent practice of the techniques can lead in that direction. I define mindfulness as the practice of actively engaging the full mind in the present moment without simultaneously carving out space for reviewing the past or planning the future.
Mindfulness is often associated with meditation. They can can go together, but I prefer to see them as separate. I consider meditation as one technique or one method to engage in mindfuless. It can also be practiced in other ways that don’t seem particularly meditative or spiritual.
Two examples that come to mind include mindful toothbrushing and mindful eating. Toothbrushing and eating are often done without any mental focus or effort. If you switch your toothbrush or fork to your nondominant hand, you have to come into the present moment and focus on the mechanics. There is no mental space for reflection on the past or projecting into the future unless you want to make a mess.
Mindfulness meditation is also beneficial, but can be strenuous. Most people think they are terrible at it and have unrealistic expectations. My first real experience of this was at a 2-day meditation retreat. That’s right! I started with 2 days! This is something I do NOT recommend. I had the expectation that my mind should be clear of all thoughts and I would avoid all distractions if I was doing it right.
What I experienced was almost instant and continuous monkey mind. Sitting in silence felt painful, and I didn’t do much better with walking meditation. I noticed everything around me and started mentally describing everything I saw. It took real effort to return my thoughts to the present moment over and over again.
I thought I was getting the hang of things on the second day…until the bird flew into the window. At that point I started worrying about whether or not it was dead. That storyline continued all the way to wondering whether cats eat dead birds. If that wasn’t enough, my brain engaged in comparing myself to the others at the retreat. They all looked like they were doing it right.
Yes, it is hard. It makes one wonder, “why try?” There are so many reasons.
Mind mastery. If you can repeatedly return to the present moment in meditation practice (or while brushing your teeth), you will be more likely to be able to do it in real life situations.
Greater joy in the moment. Being fully present while eating that fragrant, visually beautiful, and incredibly tasty pizza will bring so much more pleasure than worrying about whether they will find something awful when you have your colonoscopy 20 years from now and how you will handle that.
Decreased anxiety. If you consider anxiety as unproductive thinking about a future possibility that has not yet happened, mindfulness or being in the present moment does not allow space or energy for anxious thinking.
There are many books and references about mindfulness. I recommend Good Morning I Love You, by Shauna Shapiro as a good introduction. Easy to read, well-written, and gentle, it includes practical exercises for readers at all levels of mindfulness and meditation practice.
Accept that it will not come naturally at first. That’s ok. Mindfulness is not a destination. It is simply a practice.
I’m sure you have seen or heard me say this before, words have power. Many people use the above statements interchangeably and I believe it is to their own detriment. The statement, “I can’t” is particularly problematic. When I call people out on this they often dismiss their use of I can’t as trivial. Your brain stores this and over time it becomes true just by repetition. More accurate labeling of your emotion leads to better solutions and avoids the repetitive mislabeling.
Consider this, “I can’t take it any more.” What does that actually mean? Is there something that is implied but not stated? I often hear people using that statement when they are really meaning that they think they shouldn’t really have to do something or when they don’t want to experience something.
Not everyone will agree with me, but I think using I can’t instead of the other terms is a subconscious way, in many instances, to reject taking responsibility for whatever happens next. If I can’t do, tolerate, or handle something then I have more license to get mad, melt down, or avoid.
This isn’t always the case. There are times when I can’t is accurate. I really can’t bend my knee all the way. Multiple injuries and surgeries have rendered that an impossibility. I can’t handle scary movies is less true. More accurate for me would be I don’t want to watch scary movies because they make me uncomfortable and ruin my sleep.
The repeated use of I can’t can reinforce a victim mentality and disempower the user. What you practice will grow stronger. If you repeat something often enough, that belief will grow stronger. Perhaps it would be better to remember the Little Engine That Could. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can. Or in some cases, I choose not to….I choose not to….I choose not to.
Do I tap? The quick answer is yes. I do tap, but not as much as I would like to. I think about tapping often, but for some reason I don’t always follow through. There are probably lots of reasons. Sometimes I’m in a situation where tapping just wouldn’t be comfortable. Sometimes I feel like I don’t have time. In reality that would almost never be true. The more accurate answer is that I would like to have more time to tap on an issue at length and don’t want interruptions. Other times I’m just too upset to remember that I even know tapping. Yes, that’s a real thing. I’m not the only one this happens to.
Honestly, I used to do it a lot more. Several years ago I had many more problems and challenges than I have now. The past several years have been really good for me. I’ve made many lifestyle changes that have brought me great contentment and satisfaction. This has resulted in having less urgency to do tapping in my day.
It is important to state that I definitely believe that tapping works. I believe my life would be even better if I was using it on a daily basis. I’m working toward that. It would be ideal to do before I even get out of bed, but that probably isn’t realistic for me. Because I’m a creature of habit, it is very hard to change the pattern of activity when I’m not yet fully functional and haven’t looked at my to-do list. I’m usually on autopilot until I get into the shower. Perhaps a few minutes of tapping in the shower might be helpful for getting my day started. Tapping right before bed to declutter my mind and body from all the of “junk” of the day is great.
I now do tapping mostly around issues of physical pain, uncertainty about a plan or choice, and occasional feelings of insecurity. There is benefit from tapping when I am teaching it to clients and get to “borrow benefits” from tapping along with their issues. I don’t consider that my tapping, but it still helps. Other challenges that are waiting for me in my “tapping journal” include issues of aging, difficulty managing clutter, and negative comparisons of myself with others. Difficulty balancing my many activities, or difficulty letting go of some of my many activities, is also a topic for future tapping.
If you are a tapper, I’d love to hear how you use tapping in your daily life.
Attraversiamo literally means “let’s cross over.” I learned this word while reading Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. I was captured by it with the first reading and it has continued to sit in the back of my mind ever since. Attraversiamo. This is actually pretty amusing since I am generally averse to change of most any kind. Changing sides of the road doesn’t hold any special appeal, but the thought of crossing over in a larger sense is strangely alluring. I think of crossing a bridge, changing life priorities, and pursuing new passions. This leads to my alternate title – What did you do during the pandemic? I chose to pursue some new attitudes and develop some new passions.
I want to say a few more words about the book Eat Pray Love. Everytime I read or listen to it I recognize something new. It speaks to me in a new way. There are several books that offer a similar chance at new discovery. Perhaps it is because I blinked out for a moment when reading it the first time and missed something, but I think it is really because each time I read it I am different. I have changed. I have crossed over. Attraversiamo.
As I have mentioned in other posts, I seem to be in a season of change. Perhaps it is age, perhaps it is societal influences, or maybe I’m just ready. Simplifying things has become a priority. My life has generally been fairly complicated, with many irons in the fire. I previously liked it that way most of the time. But particularly since the pandemic, I have enjoyed the slower pace of life. In that way it was a blessing in disguise. Some people have really struggled with the isolation from other people. For the most part, I have savored the quietness. I’m packing up things I no longer need or want so that I can donate them and I’m only keeping things that still bring me joy. Attraversiamo.
I’ve started a practice of letter writing to keep in touch with my dearest friends. Admittedly, waiting for a response has been challenging since I’ve been used to almost instant gratification from my previous social media days. I’ve found that I enjoy choosing what paper I’m going to use as well as sharing the events of my life. Attraversiamo.
Many people have complained of boredom. I instead have had so many things that I truly love to do that it is often difficult to chose between them. And…..I have collected instruments. My passion for music has reignited. Not only have I continued playing piano and hammered dulcimer, I am now the proud owner of a mandolin, kalimba, steel tongue drum, and a bagpipe practice chanter (more on bagpipes in another post).
I took a class in choral composition, embarked on a self study of music theory, and I attended the Estill Voice Level I Training in July. The choral composition class with Elaine Hagenberg was pure joy and I have continued to compose almost daily since it finished. The Estill Voice training kicked my butt but was still wonderful.
You might not immediately see this as a change for me. How is this crossing over? In the past I was focused on the end product, but now I am taking pleasure in the process. Attraversiamo.
What changes are you ready to make in your life? Are you open to noticing opportunities? I haven’t always been open to the possibilities ahead, but now…Attraversiamo.
If you have been following the blog you already know that words matter. Whether we call something caution or fear is of great significance. Most people I talk to can’t readily verbalize the difference. Accurate description leads to better actions and responses.
“You are only afraid if you are not in harmony with yourself. People are afraid because they have never owned up to themselves.” – Hermann Hesse
Fear can be defined as an unpleasant feeling triggered by the perception of danger, real or imagined. It causes physiological changes and behavior changes. It is unrealistic to think that we will never feel fear. Fear is a natural thing, even instinctual at times. In other instances it can be learned. It is not uncommon for a child to develop a fear of something that the parent is afraid of.
Caution can be defined as care taken to avoid danger or mistakes. Interestingly, it comes from the Latin cavere, meaning take heed. Synonyms include watchfulness, discretion, and circumspection. Caution acknowledges the fact there there is risk. It is based on our knowledge of the world. But caution does not imply the need for continual vigilance. It is more contextual. We recognize that there is uncertainty or risk in a certain time or situation, but the recognition doesn’t cause the physiological change.
“I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.” – Rosa Parks
What I have observed is that caution is generally the appraisal of a situation whereas fear is the appraisal of one’s ability to handle the situation. Fear implies that you have convinced yourself that you are not capable of handling a negative outcome or emotion.
Although I’m sure not everyone would agree with me, I think caution and fear are appropriate emotional reactions, but only when contextually warranted and time-limited. They are both important sources of information as we try to navigate this complex world.
“Prudence is not the same thing as caution. Caution is a helpful strategy when you’re crossing a minefield; its a disaster when you’re in a goldrush.” – John Ortberg
So what’s the purpose of all of this? The purpose is to make sure that we are making correct interpretations and responding with effective actions. It is also to encourage seeing the contextual/environmental nature of caution and fear rather than defining them as permanent personality characteristics.
“Fear keeps us focused on the past or worried about the future. If we can acknowledge our fear, we can realize that right now we are okay. Right now, today, we are still alive, and our bodies are working marvelously. Our eyes can still see the beautiful sky. Our ears can still hear the voices of our loved ones.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
The more you tell yourself that you are afraid, the more you will believe it. Eventually you will begin to act out being afraid and limiting your life and the pursuit of your values. It becomes a self fulfilling prophecy of sorts. Fear can be present in some situations, but only for the necessity of survival. Remember, the real difference is in the attitude toward ourselves. Do we believe we can handle it or not?
“Thinking will not overcome fear but action will.” – W. Clement Stone
“If you know the enemy and know yourself you need not fear the results of a hundred battles.” – Sun Tzu
To Everything There is a Season. Whether that brings to mind the Biblical passage in Ecclesiastes or the song by The Byrds, those words ring particularly true to me right now. Change! I am definitely in a season of change, and as a result, so is this blog. Perhaps this is a gift from the pandemic, or possible something even more personal. Either way, I am often contemplating what I want from this current stage of my life.
The blog was originally started to help promote my business and my books but my focus is shifting. Now I think I would like to provoke contemplation, personal growth, and hopefully discussion. I plan to continue to share reviews of books, information, tapping videos, and opinions on mental health topics. I also plan to share the musings of my daily life with topics ranging from music to aging. You might even see pictures of nature’s wonders.
Change is not always comfortable for me and there may be some growing pains along the way. I’m choosing to embrace them as much as possible.
I’d love to hear from you about the topics you are most interested in as I start this new journey.
Gorilla Thumps & Bear Hugs by Alex Ortner is a book about tapping (Emotional Freedom Technique) written specifically for kids. The child in the story was taught tapping by her friend in order to deal with teasing at school. It would also be a great book to use with children during this COVID pandemic.
Children of all ages are experiencing tremendous changes in their routines, are isolated from many of their social activities and friends, and are watching their parents and caregivers trying to adjust to not only health fears but also financial anxiety. It is a time of stress for almost everybody.
Tapping is a technique children (and adults) can use to minimize any emotional distress that is occurring, even if lingering below the conscious level. Gorilla Thumps & Bear Hugs is a simple, fun, and engaging way to learn the process.
Check it out and get tapping (using appropriate handwashing of course.) Want to learn more about tapping? Click here.