Taking Positive Control

Have you ever considered that if others perceive you as being angry, or sad, or aloof, and you insist that you are not, then it is up to you to change the demeanor you are projecting. The more in control we are of ourselves, the less controlling we will be of others. Even though it may seem difficult we can learn to control or thoughts. It's all in predetermining what to think about and then periodically monitoring if we are on track.

Let everyone see that you are unselfish and considerate in all you do… Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in others. Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about. Phil. 4:5-8 TLB 

Do your thoughts measure up? If the answer is “No”, then change your mind.

YES YOU CAN control your prejudices.
Prejudice is defined as a preconceived opinion, usually unfavorable, unquestioned, unjustified and unreasonable bias or disregard of a person or thing The way to control it is to challenge your preconceived ideas. Challenge your assumptions. Do you want truth, or what you have been taught? Everyone is both flawed and fabulous. There may be a reason to dislike a person, but the package deal is not one of them (i.e. skin color, handicapping condition, financial status, job selection, nationality, creed, etc.)

YES YOU CAN control your bigotry.
A bigot is defined as being narrow-minded, obstinate and intolerably devoted to his/her own beliefs, creed or party. Do not allow these to be fighting world in our present political arena. These are usually beliefs that have never been challenged, but passed down from one generation to another. Open your mind, and this is a do-it-yourself project, no one can give you a new perspective on life unless you are willing to receive it.

YES YOU CAN control your demeanor. If someone continually asks you, “Wha's wrong?” and you insist that “Nothing is wrong”, then one of two things is happening. 1) Something really is wrong and you are not honest enough to admit it, or, 2) nothing is wrong, but you have not alerted your face to this fact. If others perceive you as being angry, sad, aloof, etc., and you insist that you are not, then it is up to you to change the demeanor you are projecting. Having a pleasant expression is a choice.

FAST TRACT TO CHANGE. The biggest complaint is, “It is so hard. I don’t feel like I can change my attitude or _______ (you fill in the blank).” Emotions follow actions and thoughts, not the other way around. Change the way you think and act and you automatically change the way you feel. Switch the thinking from "It's so hard" to "It's not easy." That one simple switch gives the brain energy to do switch from assessing the problem as difficult.

FIRST, change your language. Instead of calling some an ugly name, or referring to them by a prejudiced or bigoted title, keep quiet. Bite your tongue if need be, but be silent. It is impossible to feel kindly toward someone if you are calling him a jerk.

SECOND, change your actions. Instead of pacing, sit down. Instead of flailing your arms, or making obscene gestures, put your hands in your pocket. Instead of yelling, speak in a whisper. The more extreme your negative reactions are now, the more extreme the initial softening measures are needed. It is easier to act yourself in to feeling differently, than it is in feeling yourself into acting differently. Feelings follow actions. Actions stir up feelings.

THIRD, change your thoughts. Instead of condemning someone for their rash behavior, realize you do not know what hurts – past or present – is driving this person to be so irresponsible.

Which leads us to number FOUR, which is automatic: feelings change as your develop compassion. Compassion is realizing the humanness of all human beings, yourself included. When you overreact, give yourself a break and get back in effective control of your life.

Need personal coaching to do so? Contact me. Mona Dunkin mona@solutionprinciples.com


For the Love of Snuggles

Snuggles was a bonus. She earned her name and was faithful to it to the end.

Buttons, a stray cat that wandered to our rural address, blessed us with a litter of beautiful, long-haired, good-natured kittens. She was a wonderful mother whose babies were in demand and we allowed her to have three litters before the knife. The reputation of her off-spring caused us to have repeat customers.

After a few years of not having litters, my then eight year old daughter wanted a kitten – a yellow one. We began our search for this special being through families that had previously adopted one of Button’s babies. Sure enough, we found a litter that had a big, robust yellow male cat. In the weaning period, we visited – to ensure bonding. His dominant nature earned him the name Thumper from the beginning. The owner commented on his robust personality, and that – although he would not be denied in the dinner department – he seemed to favor, even to take care of – the runt kitty. Whether sleeping or playing, she said those two were always together.

That’s how we got our bonus kitty. Their personalities were opposite from the beginning. Thumper was a typical independent-I’ll-love-you-on-my-own-terms cat. But at the slightest outreach of a hand, Snuggles came running for head rubs and cuddles. Thumper never met a stranger. Snuggles was strictly a three-person cat, forming friendships only with my daughter, my husband and myself. Thumper ran to greet guests when the door bell rang; Snuggles hid under the bed until all scent of another human was past. We loved them both and they each brought a special joy to our lives. And they continued to be best buddies.

Days go by one at a time and lives change. Our daughter went off to college and we all missed her dearly. In an effort to fill the void, I reached out to the cats even more. Soon, they were sleeping on our bed and were following me around like a puppy-cat.

Thumper was the adventurous one and met an accidental death at age twelve. Snuggles visibly grieved for him for a long time. She turned to me for solace, becoming my constant companion. As I did my morning routine at the dressing table, Snuggles perched on the corner for a birds eye view. I would give her a nose-to-nose kiss and say, “I love you.” She would “Meow” back as if to say, “I love you, too.” This became our frequent greeting to each other.

Snuggles lived a long and healthy life, belying her runt beginnings. At age eighteen she slept day and night and moved slowly. She all but quit eating, and her breathing became laborious. The vet assured me she was not in pain so I chose to keep her with us, tending to her needs, until the end. I put her on a pillow and carried her from place to place to be wherever I was – at the dressing table, by my computer while working, on my lap for TV time, and in her normal place by my head at night.

I hand fed her. I cuddled her and talked to her, telling her how much she had added to our home. Although she had quit meowing, in her own special way, she communicated back. One night as I held her, I said, “Snuggles, do you know how much I love you?” She looked deep into my eyes and uttered a weak “Meow” as if to say, “Do you know how much I love you?”

That night, Snuggles died peacefully in her sleep. I took my silky dressing gown and wrapped her frail body in it as a burial shroud. We placed her amid the iris outside my office window. As they bloom in the spring sunshine, I am reminded of the cycles of life, the serendipity of bonuses, and the love of Snuggles.


Financial Freedom

"Money has never made a man happy yet, nor will it. There is nothing in its nature to produce
happiness. The more a man has, the more he wants. Instead of filling a vacuum, it creates one.
If it satisfies one want, it doubles and triples that want in other ways. - Benjamin Franklin

Step up to the challenge of getting debt free and living within your means. Use wisdom in planning and in spending. Be frugal. Shop for bargains and sales. Time is currency. Are you willing to trade time with your family – which you can never get back – for time spend to get money to buy stuff. Anything worth anything takes discipline. Most Americans put spending ahead of saving, yet saving is what builds security. Spending patterns account for your future. Living within your income contributes to happiness, and living outside your income compounds misery. The number one cause of financial failure is THE INABILITY TO DELAY GRATIFICATION. The number one means of failure to delay gratification is CREDIT CARDS

“Don’t charge anything that is down the drain before you get the bill. That includes gasoline,
restaurant meals, grocery purchases, hair cuts, etc. Here’s my promise: If you will stop incurring
new unsecured debt and commit to pay every month the same minimum payments you were required to
pay this month – not paying a lower amount as your balance goes down- you will be out of debt
completely in about 36 months – that’s the average amount of time it takes. It’s really simple.”
Mary Hunt, Cheapskate News

Make a radical commitment to be content with what you have. Adjust your focus of the important. I would suggest that buying less and paying cash will help will help get back the true meaning of living. Lower your expectations and develop contentment. Want what you have.

“Wants may be easily satisfied, either by producing much or desiring little.” Marshall Sahlins

Develop a healthy respect for “Just $1.00”. Depending on your income tax bracket, you have to earn more than $1.00 to replace the $1.00. Fifteen percent bracket repays $1.41; 28% = $1.73; $31% = $1.82; 36% = $2.01; $39% = $2.16. When you spend, you are spending more than $1.00. When you save, you are saving more than $1.00. You can nickle and dime yourself into financial misery.

“Beware of little expenses. A small leak will sink a great ship.“ Ben Franklin

Challenge your spending habits. On a scale of 1-10, will you use it? How often will you use it? It is of value to you? Can you afford it? Budgeting focuses on lack and attracts spending. Focus on savings; see the challenge of getting a bargain. Let the savings feeling supersede the spending feeling. Become dignified and independent by learning to live within your income. You can do it!

“There is no dignity quite so impressive, and no independence quite so important,
as living within your means.” - Calvin Coolidge

Get in touch with your God-given creativity.

“One of the biggest things we lose by getting caught up in all this is the capacity for
imagination. People are at a loss to imagine what kind of existence they would have if
it were not for the ever-constant purchasing of new gadgets.” -Scott Moore, BU Philosophy Professor


As A Seed Grows

Growth is a natural by-product of a seed being planted in harmony with nurturing elements. Some seeds are released only through harsh circumstances.

Ego is a seed shell of one’s identity held in place until circumstances breaks the hard outer covering so the internal nugget can emerge and grow from form into substance. Ego is designed to keep you the same while giving the illusion of change. Ego set point returns us to identity.

You make positive changes in your life and have a measure of success. A setback happens. In frustration you zombie out in front of the TV. You don’t even realize that you have just reinforced your set-point of only earning so much. Or the weight battle treadmill; lose, gain, lose, regain. All returns to ego identity set points.

So you stop. You gather information. You listen to other ideas. You go in another direction, change jobs or get a new mate. Like a thermostat set to kick-in or off to keep the room at a certain temperature, so too the ego holds on to a ‘set points’ to keep us from changing.

That is not “just the way you are”. That is the way the neural pathways of your brain have been laid down as your internal set-point. They were laid down through habit of thoughts and actions. Habits of thought formed mostly pre-conscious and pre-verbal. Before we could talk and before we thought about what we were agreeing to. The more these neural pathways are traversed - the more we think and act in an unaware state - the more ingrained they become.

Even when the habit road is rutty and rough and difficult, your habit thought says "you can’t" and your habit action stays lazy.

Your soul’s set point is not permanent. The spirit of soul is ever ready to change. That is why you know deep down in your knower that you are more than what you are currently being. Failure to thrive is not your soul’s set point; it is your ego’s set point.

Unless a seed dies it cannot bring forth fruit. When a seed dies – if it had conscious awareness – it would reject dying, put the brakes on and become devastated because it was falling apart. But the shell has to be removed before the interior nugget can root and grow.

Can your ego identity change? Sure. Your ego identity changes as you nurture it to identify with a new stage of development. That becomes your new set-point. And then you grow into another identity set-point. No matter how broken the body, the soul is never broken. There is a part of you that is always whole and complete.

A corrupted damaged seed will grow in cultivated soil. Accept your defeats with grace and self-compassion and begin again. Be your own master gardener and nurture your own soul.

Happy Changing. Mona Dunkin, Success Coach mona@monadunkin.com