Understanding Your Story

"Tell me I have led a good life. Tell me I am a good man." James Ryan in Saving Private Ryan

Everybody has a story. Each person is a unique individual conjoined with generations past. Everyone has a storyline uniquely his own, yet with commonalities to the whole. Through stories (history) we form our identity. The quest for identity, position, purpose and significance encompasses our lifelong journey.

Children love to hear accounts of their birth or antics over and over as a way saying, “Confirm to me again who I am and that I matter”. Whether the exploits are accurate or not is not germane to its influence. They need to know that the fairy tale doesn’t change.

As life nears the end many query, as did aging James Ryan in the movie Saving Private Ryan, “Tell me I have led a good life. Tell me I’m a good man.” Confirm to me that my life has had purpose.

The irony remains that most of us know ourselves only by hearsay. Hearsay - through stories told to us about us when we were younger (forgotten or were unaware), through current communication of what others say to us about us (whether we agree, disagree or are yet unaware), or through what we presume (correctly or incorrectly) that others say or think about us.

A fish does not know he is in a cocoon of water. Likewise, we are born into a culture cocoon of sorts; neutral - neither good nor bad - they just are. They include beliefs, creeds, rules and regulations by which we order our lives. These bonds surround and define us. This is who we are, what we believe, what we stand for and what we do.

Yet we are too unique to have a cookie-cutter identity. People reorganize their stories according to how they imagine their lives should be. Do not foolishly discard your story as that would leave you open and venerable. To disavow your cocoon boundaries is to cease to exist. Yet to hold on too tight stifles and prevents growth. The cost is your true identity.

We are a composite whole with many dimensions. You are who you are while at the same time fulfilling different roles, such as child, parent, sibling, neighbor, co-worker, leader, follower, golfer or gardener. When one is primarily in any of these roles, he is still all of himself only in a combined way specific to that situation.

No matter the cocoon in which one is reared (or are still swimming), no matter the current conditions economically, politically, socially or religiously, no matter one’s race, color, or creed, internal greatness is already within you. Although there is a lot to be said for the safety, nurturing and identity of culture, we limit our growth as individuals by remaining in any group-think environment. Holding loosely to one’s story can be a blessing. In traumatic situations such as war camps, those who shed their former identity are more likely to survive with resiliency mechanisms intact.

Perhaps we are the closest to the reality of who we are when our story unravels. We become authentic. We begin to see and understand things as closely to what is and what was and what will be. Look at today’s product in light of your storyline-to-date and with open vision to undeveloped potentialities. Allow this inward outlook to nurture wisdom and goodness.

Through meditation seek to become the person you are created to be. Find your greatness. Live your personal story to the blending and inner twining of an enjoyable and meaningful life.

For success coaching, counsel or speaking engagements, contact Mona at 254-749-6594 or mona@solutionprinciples.com


Clutter Cures

Do you want your surroundings functional and pleasant but are not yet up the Gold Standard of Organization? Not to worry, here's how to conquer the clutter monster forever.

Define Clutter. Clutter is that stuff you hang on to that might be needed when that illusive “someday” arrives. Clutter accumulates awaiting a decision to be made. In other words, disorganization is a result of procrastination.

Know this: You can never organize clutter.

Start small but do start. An overwhelming job becomes easier to accomplish when divided into digestible bites. Instead of looking at the entire project, select one area in which to begin. Within that one area, choose one spot to sort through – perhaps the junk drawer or one file cabinet or one section of the closet.

Commit to fifteen minutes. You will be amaze- and inspired - at what you can accomplish in such a short time. This flurry of productivity will motivate you to continue, either now or the next time.

Add some red! Researchers that study the effects of colors on our psyche have discovered that red invigorates us. It seems that people exposed to red are more successful at competing tasks that require concentration and memory. So, wear red, use red files/boxes, display red flowers, hang a red picture – something to put you into high gear to tackle the task at hand.

POST IT! Have you ever reorganized and then forgotten its new hiding place? Red Post-It notes to the rescue. Use bold post-it notes to indicate where you moved it and display your red-reminder in the old spot.

Take a power break. When tackling a difficult task, especially one not in your routine, it can quickly become overwhelming. If you feel beleaguered, step away for a few minutes to clear your head. A small respite can re-energize you and give perspective needed to problem solve.

It’s Niki Time. Just do it. Research shows that in the face of a challenge accepted – and you have to let yourself know that you are stepping up to bat - the brain will reorganize thinking skills to accomplish and the endocrine system will release chemicals to enhance self-control, willpower and stamina. The mind and body conspire to give you a second wind.

Don't Cope. Overcome. Curing yourself of being a clutter has a snowball effect. Organizational skills go hand-in-hand with time management and stress reduction.

Need a speaker? Contact Mona at mona@solutionprinciples.com.


Effective Planning

“You can never rise above your calendar.” Ed Eudis

Nothing worthwhile is accomplished without planning. Because an occasionally wish comes true, one may erroneously think a goal has been set and attained. Here are strategies to move you beyond hoping and wishing to a plan that brings results. .

Plan to plan and to keep on planning. Schedule in time for planning and evaluation. The more time one spends in planning means less time spent in execution. Without a plan to continue planning, new problems may go unnoticed until many hours of execution time has been spent.

  • Prepare a mission statement. Determine the primary purpose and ways to get there.
  • Strategic planning: vision casting, big picture, overall scope of project, enthusiasm
  • Operational planning: who, what, when, where, cost, time line, means of evaluation
  • Determine where you are now.
  • Who and what do we have within the organization?
  • Are the right people at the top to accomplish our goals?
  • Do we have complete knowledge of the mission?
  • Do we have complete knowledge of our capabilities? Of my team’s capabilities?
  • Are we set up to receive feedback and open communication?
  • Who and what do we need from outside the organization?
  • Whose advice do we need to seek? Who has done this before us?
  • What trends are developing? Where is the market going?
  • What needs should be addressed now? What needs may arise in the future?
  • Who are we serving now and in the future?
  • What needs are we currently meeting or will need to meet in the future?
  • What are our short, mid, and long-term steps (goals)?
  • Who is responsible for what area (chain of command)?
  • How do we make our objectives known to those above us, those below us, the public?
  • What will be our expenses and source of funding/income?
  • How will we determine ways to assess staying on target?

Prioritize. Priorities are those things that come first in importance and take precedence over the little two-minute jobs that seem so important. They are those things that bring the most results and personal satisfaction when completed or engaged in.

Don't Cope. Overcome. It takes both planning and scheduling to get results. Remember, planning is the “what” you need or want to do to make your life meaningful and effective. Scheduling is the “when” you will do the things you have planned. Scheduling leads to action and nothing is ever accomplished without action.


Simple, but Not Easy

A Reader writes: 
I read your blog article, “Ask, Don’t Tell”. I have struggled over the years in trying to "ask" rather than "tell" my Mom about our private issues. It's not easy when you don't know what to say or how it will affect the relationships you care about so much. I will re-visit some of your questions so I can get a few rehearsed if the opportunity arises again where I can ask my mother questions rather than tell. Frustrated Daughter.

Here is my reply to Frustrated Daughter: It may apply to you also...

My heart goes out to you.  Many things in life look simple and sound simple but are not so easy to put into practice. Although the guidelines I give are based on personal experiences in overcoming difficulties in relationships, they are based on the principles of Dr. William Glasser’s Choice Theory.

Choice Theory states that the only person we can control is our self and that everything we do is our best attempt at the moment to meet an internally motivated need.  If that theory is true for you, it is also true for your Mom.

Human nature wants to be acknowledged and understood right or wrong.  It is difficult to understand where another is coming from when we really do not understand ourselves.  Repairing a relationship takes personal self-evaluation as well as developing the fineness of helping another to self-evaluate. 

In Einstein's Theory of Relativity, his third supposition is “an entity flowing in successful relationship, to a passive observer appears to have happened with little or no effort.” 

In other words, it takes work. Healthy relationships do not just happen. Readers often question their ability to handle things differently, or doubt that if their approach is changed the opposing person will respond.  Perspectives can change, and in so doing, behavior softens and relationships improve. 

the questions are not to grill or for an immediate response. Rather, the key is learning to ask thought-producing questions that allows the individual to self-evaluation. The same is true in learning to make thought provoking comments to another and leaving the results with them.

It all goes back to attitude and the intent behind the communication.  The attitude projected in asking questions, is it to accuse or to evoke one to self-evaluate? The attitude in giving feedback; is it to declare a position or to give one room to grow? 

 Monitor your attitude reflected when receiving return questions or feedback, is it one of consideration or defense?

When input is given with a “take it or leave it” stance, the receiver is more likely to be receptive. In turn, receive their acceptance or rejection without taking it personally. Relationship must be more important than being right. 

Whether received or rejected, continue to value the one you are attempting to relate to.  Whether received or rejected, set and maintain healthy boundaries for yourself. 

Don’t cope. Overcome.  The more you employ these simple concepts, the easier relationships become – building or repairing.  To a passive observer, they will appear “to have happened with little or no effort.”              

 Need a speaker? Contact Mona at mona@solutionprinciples.com. Learn more. attend Reality Therapy seminar...

The late Dr William Glasser founded Reality Therapy Psychology. Reality Therapy teaches one to effectively face reality and to fulfill needs within that rea-ity. Regardless of what has happened in the past, every problem is a current problem as each person is living and making choices in the here and now. Counselors, psychologists, social workers and educators enthusiastically welcome his work and implement it in schools, clinics and correctional institutions.

You will learn: What you can and cannot control Resolve conflict in self and with others Create optimal environment for change Effective relationship habits Transfer skills into all aspect of life

January 23-25, 2015 at the Indigo Hotel in Waco, TX.  For more information e-mail me at mona@monadunkin.com or call 254-749-6594. 


Overcome Being Overwhelmed

Overcome being overwhelmed by recognizing the pattern. This pattern includes exaggerated thinking – “I have a million things to do” – confused emotions – “I’m so stupid” – relentless mind chatter and physical sensations of fatigue, frustration and fear.

Knowing that you want a change is easier than knowing what to do. We are intelligent beings. We are also emotional beings. When overwhelming emotions take over, thinking takes a holiday.

The secret to keeping our total behavior of thinking, doing, emoting and physical responding is found in breathing. Slow. Deep. Purposeful. Deliberately. Allow incoming oxygen to calm the passion and send blood flow to the brain to re-engage rational thinking.

Think rationally about your to-do-list. Yes, several things demand your attention but it is nowhere near a million.

Gracious thinking about your self-esteem. You may have made a less than stellar choice, but you are not stupid.

Conscious, focused breathing calms the body’s systems to respond humanely. Use it for you to lessen opposition. Gently give it to your perceived adversaries. Without fanfare, allow him to take a minute to calm down. Do not demand answers.

In heightened emotions, we do not have answers anyway; we only have rationalizations that cloud rather than clarify. Or defenses that destroys rather than build.

The higher your energy level the more efficient your body – your total behavior. Focus helps you to prioritize your choices to pursue and to eliminate.

We become overwhelmed when we take things personally – as though we are the savior of the world – and it’s all about us to do or die.

We overcome when we come to terms that the stress from the situation is more about our own thinking than it is about the actual tasks at hand. That is not to discount the responsibilities of work and home and community involvements. It is to say that trying to do – or think about and plan for – at the same time is humanly impossible. It is too confusing; mind-boggling,

Go for excellence by doing the best you can do while in a state of calm learning. Let go of the paralyzing, stressing idea of perfectionism.

Don’t Cope. Overcome. Once you buy into being aware and put the awareness into practice, you become empowered - which is the highest form of power/control there is - internal rather than external; control of self rather than control of others. When we are in control mode, our forced control over the others backfires into making them push back with equal or greater force (whether that force is aggressive or passive). When we give up control techniques we are in a much greater position to influence the offender to the positive.