Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Experience of Criticism

Have you ever looked at what is going on inside you when you avoid acknowledging someone, when you are engaged in diminishing another's point of view, then speeding up the "tempo" of your conversation? What is really going on here? More importantly, how does it all feel to you, deep inside?

Have you ever stopped for a moment to contemplate this, the effect it has on your state, the impact that this way of communicating has on your happiness and freedom, and ultimately your success on every level? Historically, many salesmen have been taught to sell this way. It becomes all about "closing the sale" in any way you can, which ultimately becomes a highly intense form of intimidation, where the customer is backed into a corner, not being given much of a chance to say anything and afraid to say what he really feels inside. This process contains an enormous amount of anxiety and pressure for the customer but, more significantly, it sets the salesman off into burnout mode.

This way of treating ourselves and other people ultimately ends in failure. Success, true success, continues be ever elusive, even after you have made all the money you can spend in this lifetime. How many times in my life, after making a lucrative sale the night before, have I held my breath as I my phone rang the next morning, only to hear the customer say that he had thought about it and changed his mind, wanting to cancel. I could feel the anxiety I used to feel in the pit of my stomach rise up, even now, as I write this. The difference is that I'm aware of it now, I wasn't then. Imagine, walking around in life, everyday, feeling this anxiety in the pit of your stomach? My hunch is that it is safe to say that this condition is epidemic in our culture.

When we don't acknowledge another person, when we don't really listen and "hear" what she is thinking and feeling, we are diminishing her, trying to control her and the outcome in our favor. Without seeing who a person is, without allowing him to express himself as he is, we are not seeing "WHAT IS.!" What we are seeing is not real. What we are seeing is not true. It's a projection of what we want to see, not what is! Only what is is true. An amazing insight arises for us when we ask ourselves this wonderful question: How can we change what is?

On the other hand, if we allow a person to express what he feels, to ask questions, to open up and feel comfortable, we begin to learn about his true needs and values. Then we can see how we can really help this person. This kind of acknowledgment creates trust. Trust creates relationship, whether it be in business, family, friends or government.

Most people buy from people they trust. Relationships thrive in an environment of trust. When you don't acknowledge me, how can I trust you? What is it that I am so afraid of that I can't acknowledge you for who you are? For who you are is what is. There is no right or wrong about this, only acknowledging what is. There is so much freedom in this, so much love. Imagine, caring enough about another human being that you would look at him exactly the way he is, past all of your wants and desires, and give them their freedom. Imagine that!

Love and blessings,


Tuesday, October 12, 2010


What is it that causes us to experience stress? It has been said that there are many diverse reasons for this condition. Is this true? Could the answer be so complicated that it prevents us from ever getting free from the tentacles of stress? Would a benevolent universe, a loving God, create so much pain and suffering? Or, is there an answer so simple, sitting right under our nose, that we don't see it? We are so busy trying to figure it all out that we are actually perpetuating the very condition that we are desperately trying to overcome.

The key word here is "TRYING."

Have you ever observed someone that is in the process of trying. This is no small thing. If you really focus in on this person, you will see that his body language is contorted, his facial expression more contracted and harsh, and his overall expression tense and unyielding. By virtue of this simple observation, it is easy to see how we begin to create stress.

Contraction is the opposite of relaxing. To relax, to surrender, to let-go, is to experience freedom. In that experience, there is an absence of stress, an absence of tension, an absence of pressure. We need contraction, we need tension to create stress.

What happens when we stop trying? Is it not fear that arises in that moment? Is it not fear that causes us to struggle, to feel that if we don't do it, if we don't TRY, something negative or "bad" will happen? What will happen to me if I stop trying so hard? The question then arises, can we act without stress? Can we create without limiting our sense of freedom and well-being? Can I have success without stress?

Ted Williams, arguably the greatest hitter in major league baseball history, used to say that at times he was so focused and relaxed that when he stood ready to hit he could actually see the seams and the rotation of the ball as it came toward him, as if it was all happening in slow motion. And, in that moment, he "KNEW" he was going to get a hit. The secret, he said, was a "RELAXED BAT," an absence of tension.

One day, I was sitting in the park. It was beautiful, a crisp sunny day in early Spring. There was a tree in front of me, seemingly bare, with the exception of one wilted and dried out little flower hanging on at the end of one of the branches. As I sat there observing this scene, for no apparent reason the flower fell off.

In that moment, it was as if the flower cried out, "I can't do it! I can't hold on any longer, no matter how hard I try. I had to let go." And as I looked closer, I noticed that the tree wasn't really bare, as I had initially thought, but tiny little buds had begun to emerge as Spring began to make its appearance.

The little flower had tried to hold on too long because it was afraid to let go. But life keeps moving forward, from the inside out, bringing with it new life, freedom and beauty. Could it be that when we hold onto things too long, without realizing it, we are blocking the inevitable flow of grace, that this attempt is steeped in fear and this fear manifests in stress?

When you experience stress, stop for a moment, take some deep breaths, allowing your mind to slow down, relax and surrender. Invoke your heart, then offer your love to everything you encounter from that moment on.


Love and blessings,