Thursday, May 26, 2005

Spirituality and Coaching

We are preparing for fund-raising to pull in and train new coaches, fine-tune the website, establish infrastructure, and secure more radio broadcast contracts. As I was researching statistics for our fund-raising documents, I came across the following statistics which I thought you might find interesting. All these statistics (except for the first one) are from the June 2005 issue of Psychology Today article, "With God as My Shrink."

Statistics On Christianity and Counseling

93-95% of Americans believe in a higher power.

Only 33% of psychiatrists and psychologists believe in a higher power.

The vast majority of mental health workers have no formal training in spiritual matters.

There is a growing awareness that spirituality (in general) and Christianity (in particular) are integral to our well-being.

83% of Americans believe their spiritual faith and religious beliefs are closely tied to their emotional and mental health.

75% of Americans state they think it is important for them to see a professional counselor who integrates their values and beliefs into the counseling process.

More people would prefer to see a religious counselor (29%) than a psychiatrist (27%), psychologist (17%) or family doctor (13%).

People want a therapist that resonates with their world view and who has similar ethics so they understand how the individual makes their decisions.

Today, the amount of time clergy spend counseling parishioners is equal to that of all members of the American Psychological Association practicing 35-40 hours.

Yet pastors are not always trained emotionally or psychologically to treat those who consult with them. We need mental health care workers who can be sensitive to the physical, psychological, relational and spiritual needs of individuals.

We need Guide To Self to grow exponentially to provide such coaching informed by an emotional, physical, mental, relational and spiritual awareness.

We head back into the studio to record again this afternoon. We go live on the air next Tuesday, May 31st at 5 pm on KDIA, 1640 AM. Wish us luck!



Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Audio Post - Gratitude has positive benefits!

this is an audio post - click to play

Taping of first radio show - KDIA

Hermann and I taped our first radio show for KDIA yesterday. This was primarily a rehearsal to get in the mode of recording in the studio. The production team that is walking this path alongside us is incredible.

We are lead by Clifford Brown of Brown Radio. Cliff has been in the radio business for over thirty years. He is a jazz musician, radio DJ, executive producer, stand-up guy and sharp as a tack. He recorded our intro for the show yesterday and it sounds awesome.

Our producer is Harry R. Hall who works with KGO, KCSM and some other radio stations in the Bay Area. He is rich in ideas, talent and passion. I can't wait to put some of his ideas to work. He is a true blessing.

And our jack-of-all-trades is Yvonne Antoinette. Yvonne is quietly working her way into our hearts. She is determined, joyful and a talented writer. She worked the studio engineering for Hermann and I yesterday while we played with the microphones.

Hermann and I had our headphones on and Yvonne spoke to us from the engineering booth and, Oh my Lord, it was like being visited by a host of angels. Yvonne has the most wonderful voice I have heard. If I had the words, I'd try to describe it.

In any case, Hermann and I feel truly blessed to be surrounded by such a team of hard-working, bright, devoted and loving individuals. I am extremely grateful for their help. Any success we have on the air will be a tribute to their hard work and vision. So if it never gets said anywhere else, let it be said here, many, many thanks to Yvonne, Harry and Cliff. Thanks, guys!


Thursday, May 19, 2005

The Goal of this Blog - Comfort, Inspiration and Peace

The goal of this blog, and the book, and the radio show, is to provide you with some comfort and inspiration. There is a certain world view expressed in the pages of this blog. This world view allows for an infinite number of possibilities. And within this myriad of possibilities lies the inevitability of discovering meaning for your life and those around you. This may mean learning assertiveness, overcoming fear or anger, releasing sadness, breathing deeply, praying, tuning in to your body, or finding God. The goal is to fan the flames of hope and inspiration within you so that you can pursue peace and move on. And in moving on, share your new found peace with others.

While you are reading, please honor your own sense of playfulness and humor. It is with grave seriousness that I remind you to laugh loud and often. Life makes fools of us all. Those that are best equipped to deal with life cultivate a keen sense of humor which includes the ability to laugh at your self. Laughter and a sense of perspective offer us a path through trying times. Laughter is the best antidote to suffering. The more you are able to nurture a sense of happiness and an appreciation for life, the more you build up your inner resources which keep you balanced in times of pain.

The question is, how do we build up our inner resources so that we are filled to the top with positive energy, love and compassion?

You do this by thinking positive thoughts about love, kindness and compassion. Positive thoughts create positive emotions. And it is possible to fill yourself with positive emotions to the point of overflowing so no room exists for negative emotions to take hold.

An overflowing reservoir is also helped by having an accepting and patient outlook. More patience buys you more time to listen to your internal wisdom, the quiet voice in the back of your head that speaks in fleeting whispers.

You can cultivate this attitude by asking yourself the question, Will this matter a year from now? Most of the times, the answer is...No, it does not matter.

Asking this question is one of the ways we can learn to be less emotionally reactive and more thoughtfully proactive. You have to train yourself to behave in healthy ways because, if you are like most of us, you did not learn these mannerisms growing up. So you need to retrain your brain. As you learn to respond more effectively to minor inconveniences, it leaves you more positive energy to respond to actual crises. This is known to many as wisdom - the ability to deal well with your own suffering as well as help others with theirs.

Not only will you learn how to deal more efficiently with your pain, you will also learn how to appreciate life. Life is a gift that has been granted to us. The more we appreciate and cherish the gift, the more we understand what a magical journey life is.

My hope is that you will learn some new ways of looking at your life and that it will help you to dump out all your negative energy and fill your reservoir with positive energy. My hope and prayer is that you be filled with love, contentment and compassion during your most painful setbacks.

The Beginning of the Radio Show

Hermann and I met with our production team on Tuesday for our new radio show. The production team consists of Harry, Yvonne and Clifford, an amazing group of people with whom we believe we can rise to the top.

Clifford stated that this was the fastest he had ever put together a radio show in his thirty years of working in radio. Hopefully, that bodes well!

We begin taping the radio show this coming Tuesday. We'll have two taped "rehearsals" and then go live on Tuesday, May 31st at 5 pm on KDIA, 1640 AM.

It's a surreal feeling, similar to having your brain replaced with two handfuls of cotton. It is an amazing feeling when you know God is working directly in your life. There are just too many "coincidences," too many happenstances, too much good fortune for it to be otherwise. I would be arrogant to think otherwise.

Apparently, there is a message that is supposed to be conveyed and we are the vehicle to help do so. The message is a simple one - love and compassion. However, it seems to be sorely missing in our current society.

It's all very excit-ing, however, I'm trying not to get too excit-ed. For what goes up, must come down. This is true with mood as well as gravity. And I cannot afford to go up or down in mood right now.

My best strategy is to stay even-minded and calm. To the extent that I can stay calm and listen to the quiet "stealth" voice in the back of my head, the show will succeed.

My biggest opponent right now is fear. And fear can be controlled. Stick around. I hope to share with you my thoughts and feelings as we go together for this wild ride.

All my love,

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Fostering Positive Emotional Energy

Negative emotions, such as sadness, anger and fear, are born of the situation. They are instinctive and innate. Negative emotions arise due to circumstance. They will not go away. If they won't go away, how do we get to a happier, more content place? How do we foster positive emotions?

Since negative emotions cannot be eradicated, the best way to overcome them is to replace them with positive emotions. Positive emotions can be created by merely thinking positive thoughts. Positive thoughts result in positive emotions. Think about love, kindness and compassion. Think about them every moment of every day. When you do this, you leave no room for negative emotions. Of course, negative emotions will still creep in occasionally due to external situations. But you will be better prepared to rid yourself of them in the blink of an eye.

Fostering Positive Emotional Energy with Exercise

Emotional energy requires a solid foundation of physical energy. Without proper exercise, diet, nutrition and sleep, there is little chance of renewing emotional energy. Physical energy is the basis for emotional renewal and for the creation of positive emotions.

Fostering Positive Emotional Energy with Internal Sources

Emotional energy can be renewed from internal sources as well as external sources. Internally, positive emotional energy is created through laughter, empathy, and courage. They are also created by meditating on, or thinking, positive thoughts, particularly love and compassion.

Fostering Positive Emotional Energy with External Sources

Externally, it is renewed by spending time with positive and non-judgmental people. Positive emotions are nurtured by being in Nature, having a connection to the Earth and all its creatures. They are created and cultivated by having patience with others. Positive feelings are born of spending time with children and seeing the world through their eyes. They come from fulfilling work which incorporates and makes use of your strengths and your passion.

Overcoming Fear and Anxiety

Alfred, Lord Tennyson wrote in one of his poems,
“It is better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.”

In this poem, Tennyson tells us to live life without consideration of failure, as if failure does not exist. We must strive to live in love by conquering our fears, pushing past them, and continuing on in spite of them. Life is a game to be played fully and Tennyson was not one to watch from the sidelines.

In its simplest form, life is a chess game between fear and love. Choose love over fear every time. Love will never steer you wrong.

As I go through my day, I constantly fight fear. I am currently faced with the prospect of finishing up a book, tentatively entitled Meaning: The Will to a Purpose Life, while preparing to start a radio show on KDIA 1640 AM in less than 3 weeks. In addition, my wife and I are expecting our fourth child.

My approach to life used to be to attack every one of my fears. Now it has changed to a pursuit of love.

Check back in here daily. I will be sharing excerpts of the book I'm working on.

Here is some information on fear and the specific antidote, courage, from the book...

The Physiology of Fear
Fear follows a perception of immediate, concrete and overwhelming physical danger. It occurs when you believe that you are not in control, either physically or emotionally. When you are afraid, your blood gathers in the large skeletal muscles such as those in your arms and legs, preparing your body to flee. Blood leaves your face thereby making you appear paler and in some cases blotchy. Your body freezes for a moment to gauge your possible reactions such what is the quickest escape route.

Then, the brain sends in a bunch of hormones that put your body on alert which makes it edgy and ready for action, and your attention fixates on the threat at hand to allow you to better evaluate the threat and your response.

The physiological cues of fear include a quickening of breathing, a tightening of the throat, tightness in the chest, perspiration, difficulty breathing, quickened heart rate, a feeling of wanting to flee (or freeze), and reduced blood flow to the brain. Blood leaves your face thereby making it appear paler. Your body freezes for a moment to gauge your possible reactions such what is the quickest escape route. Then, the brain sends in a bunch of hormones that put your body on alert which makes it edgy and ready for action, and your attention fixates on the threat at hand to allow you to evaluate the threat and your response better.

You need to be aware of these cues in order to increase your awareness. The goal is to identify the emotion, honor it, breathe through it and eventually release it as quickly as possible.

Accompanying this is an overwhelming flood of anxious thoughts which are seemingly uncontrollable. This intense cycle of fear and worry often paralyzes the individual in a figurative sense. It also paralyzes the rational mind, making it unable to think clearly.

Fear and anxiety are closely linked. Fear is the momentary emotion while anxiety is the longer-term mood. If the fear is held onto (and not released), the brain moves towards long-term anxiety, forcing the brain to focus repeatedly on the perceived threat. The anxious mind begins an endless spiral of negative thoughts, feelings and chemical reactions. Fear-based worrying lies at the heart of all anxiety.

Courage as the Antidote to Fear

Courage is the antidote to fear. Courage is not the absence of fear but the exorcising of it. You need to feel the fear, breathe it out and push through it. It is the conquering of your fears that makes one brave. One cannot be brave without fear. This step involves taking concrete actions to help us achieve our dreams. By reframing the question as, What am I willing to try?, you can make change exciting, rather than paralyzing. Whenever you feel fearful, find out what it is that is making you feel that way. Then, go after the fear-inducing situation in small, manageable steps.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Authentic life

My wife noticed a difference in me sometime last year, telling me that I had become “easy to love.” Now, I have been a lot of things in the twenty years that my wife and I have been together, but “easy to love” was not among them. Even as a psychologist, I could not control my emotions as I desired. And since I was not in control of my emotions, they controlled me.

I used to be a moody, irritable guy. I expected perfection out of myself and those around me. I had little patience for mistakes. When I became sad, I would stay down for days or weeks at a time. Life scared me. My muscles were tense. Inside, I was quietly angry much of the time.

It was like my emotional gas tank was filled to the brim with irritation and exasperation. Outside of my family, no one would have ever guessed of my unhappiness. I tried everything to escape from my perfect façade of a life – drinking, counseling, overachieving, medication, meditation, education – and none of it worked. Among other things, these attempts did not work because none of them addressed my life as a whole. They were a shotgun approach to a complex problem – the problem of human existence.

Now, peace surrounds me. My patience has grown. There is joy in life’s nuances. The essential areas of life are in balance – physical, mental, relational, ethical and spiritual. The difference between the old “me” and the new “me” is that I am now, finally, comfortable and peaceful in my own skin. Stick with me and I'll share with you bit by bit how I went from floundering to flourishing.

Nelson Mandela once said, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us. It is in everyone. As we let our own light shine we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear our presence automatically liberates others.”

The first step is to recognize your fears.