As we journey through our lives and even through a determined process of change we tend to live in and set expectations. Expectations take many forms—from what we expect of ourselves to what others expect of us, and what we expect of others. They are somewhat “inbred” in us from our upbringing, lifestyle, experiences, etc.
In short, we all have a multitude of small expectations that present themselves everyday–expectations on how people should behave, how someone should dress for a work meeting, when someone should call us back after a date, etc. And we have larger expectations–which may be fewer but they have a more pronounced, deep or emotional impact. These may include expectations of your chosen life style, of relationships, of belief systems, etc.
These expectations–small, medium or large–can work to negatively impact and even undermine your life. You carry them with you and when they are “not met” cause you to be upset and even disillusioned–and cause you suffering. And for the most part, for many we don’t really notice them or think about them when we start to feel this way and explore our emotions.
When you have expectations, you have preconceived ideas of how things should be to which you are attached. Expectations, especially the big or large ones, can cause long periods of sadness, hurt, impatience and disappointment. Think about it for a few minutes–the amount of suffering that comes from expectations–those we recognize and those we may not. We sometimes unwittingly become enslaved by our expectations of what defines a good person, success, happiness, etc. We need to learn how to free ourselves from these expectations and choose not to be defined by them.
As you learn to free yourself from expectations–self imposed, inherited or adopted–you will become more aware of them and not permit them to define you or your life. So how do you start to free yourself from expectations?
A first step is to honestly acknowledge your expectations and observe how they present themselves in your life and how they make you feel, react and behave. For most, we use expectations to help us make sense of the world or have some “control” in the world and of our lives. We need to understand that these expectations of ourselves and others causes judgement and can set us up for disappointment.
Once you start to understand this and how your expectations manifest themselves, you can work on being mindful–to be in the present moment and to acknowledge and accept what is true in the present moment without judgement. It also helps to think about or look for possibilities (as opposed to expectations). Expectations predispose your thinking and behavior on an assumed result in the future. Actually, they reduce your options, limit your imagination and cast a shadow on possibilities.
When expectations “control” you, you cannot be “in” or free in the present moment. Your mind wanders and focus is lost, and you get driven to an emotional and judgemental state. When you focus on possibilities, however–based in the present moment–you are more alive and function more fully based on your values. Living your life open to possibilities is having faith in your life and helping your mind and heart to be open in the moment. It helps you be open to and accept change.
As you learn to free yourself from expectations you need to be real with yourself. You need to not deny or avoid the existence of your expectations. No one is really beyond having expectations. The important thing is to know you have them, put them in a place that helps you evolve and grow and where you can open yourself to possibilities. While you work on exploring and understanding expectations and freeing yourself of them, it’s important to embrace where you are in life–to embrace where you are right now and who you are.
Expectations can create fear because you may think what you desire may not happen. When you are free of expectations, you can move with the flow of the universe and not be overly or negatively affected by outcomes. In one way, these outcomes actually move you towards a greater realization of your desires and intentions. And you may be surprised when you unearth how much freedom you have when you let go of expectations.
“I am responsible. Although I may not be able to prevent the worst from happening. I am responsible for my attitude toward the inevitable misfortunes that darken life. Bad things do happen; how I respond to them defines my character and the quality of my life. I can chose to sit in perpetual sadness, immobilized by the gravity of my loss, or I can choose to rise from the pain and treasure the most precious gift I have — life itself.” — Walter Anderson
Many times in your life you may find yourself having feelings of panic or anxiety. You feel your heart racing, can’t catch your breath, you may feel shaky, light-headed, dizzy, etc. They seem to just come out of no-where or they are a physical reaction to something–an upsetting experience like a close call while driving, seeing something disturbing on the news or a work or home challenge.
I know panic attacks are real and can be extreme for some. They can rob you of your ability to think, remember and concentrate. If you are experiencing panic attacks, it’s best to get medical attention. There are tremendous resources and techniques to help.
In this post I want to talk about the feelings of dread or panic that get triggered by situations where we react negatively. We live in a dynamic world with lots of stimuli, and we react to a range of stimuli every day. Most of our reactions are subtle or incidental–like changing the TV station when we don’t like the commercial or show or moving our seat on the train when someone around us is loud.
Others are more significant and can impact us more deeply or even long term, especially in the context of how we create patterns of negative reactions. In short, reacting negatively becomes a habit or we create an emotional negative cycle.
For some of us, we have become quite good at reacting negatively, and sometimes these reactions in real time bring in those feelings of panic, fear or anxiety, and come with physical side effects (headache, upset stomach, feeling jittery). And we let the emotions and these feelings take over. We start to ask why is this happening (again), and we don’t ask ourselves the question of what can I learn from this or we don’t take a step back to calm ourselves or reflect.
In short, we lose sight that we can manage how we react so we can move through the emotions, feelings and physical effects more quickly, and over time lessen our negative reactions that cause our minds and bodies discomfort and stress.
While we sometimes have to relinquish control over situations, we can still maintain our connection to ourselves. There are no right or wrong reactions, but only what serves us. Being self aware through the reaction and the process is important. Noting that you may be creating a pattern of negative reactions and realizing the impact your attitude has on your experiences is a first step.
You do have a choice of how you are going to respond or react. Try not to let something dictate how you react to things. You have the power and the inner strength to lessen the negative reaction and move more quickly through the emotional event.
Below are a few tips to help you when you find yourself feeling that feeling of panic or anxiety and reacting negatively:
- Learn to recognize your negative reaction triggers. Think and reflect on what the situations are that make you susceptible to these triggers. We can’t always avoid them, but being aware can help you prepare and acknowledge them is a more positive way.
- Practice positive self talk. You can use the old adage of “what is the worse that can happen,” and talk calmly and kindly to yourself with thoughts and words of “slow down,” “breath,” “I’m really OK,” etc.
- Do deep breathing. Take deep, slow breaths.
- Visualize. Close your eyes and with the deep breathing visualize a place where you are relaxed, calm and at peace. Stay there a while.
- Do something physical. Take a walk, get out and get some fresh air, clean a closet. Physical acts not only get your mind off of things, they help you use that extra adrenaline and cortisol.
- Call a friend. Sometimes just having someone listen where you can talk it out makes a big difference. But remember, try not to dwell–let it out and move on.
- Avoid over analyzing. Playing it over and over with the “should haves” or “what-ifs” is just perpetuating the negativity. Let it go.
- Journal it. Write what you are feeling. You can even write down the negative thoughts you are feeling and then simply throw them away or burn them.
- Let the emotions flow and go through them with no judgement. Use reflection and grounding techniques.
- Use the experience to learn about yourself and embrace that.
Remember reacting negatively is not going to change what happened, but how you manage your reaction can help change and evolve you. Turn around negativity when you notice it and infuse positivity on a regular basis.
The more positive thought you think consciously the less negative thoughts your mind will create over time. Embrace your positive warrior! I hope you found this helpful and we would love to hear from you on how you combat negative thoughts and what you do to reduce anxiety.
― H.E. Davey, Japanese Yoga: The Way of Dynamic Meditation
This week I will be writing about vitality. As you work on getting your mind, body and soul aligned and work on becoming the best you you can be, the concept of vitality and the strength of vitality is centrally important to the well being of not only your body or physical self, but also of your mind and soul.
In the physical and mental sense, vitality refers to a feeling of aliveness–of feeling healthy, capable and energetic. In the mental or emotional sense, this “aliveness” brings a feeling that your actions have meaning and purpose. It indicates an infusion of positive energy into your being.
For most of us we think of vitality as being healthy and active, and think of people with vitality being upbeat, energetic and positive. Good health is a vitality enhancer and healthy choices lead more directly to vitality. Vitality is also impacted by your mind set and attitude–and your ability to embrace where you are today and to work toward your intentions.
Mental vitality is having the mental energy to think clearly. It means that you are in good mental shape and have thinking stamina to handle problems or what life throws your way. It is about being mentally alert and effective. Mental vitality does require physical vitality, since good blood flow and nutrients are important for the brain to function and for healthy mental processes. You can think about your brain like a muscle in that exercise and continuous use of it will push you to learn new things and to have new or different experiences. This will make it stronger and improve your endurance and stamina. Just like muscles, gaining mental strength is helped by good mental workouts.
Emotional vitality is more about having a positive or up-beat attitude that helps you with being grounded, content and enthusiastic. The better the state of your emotional vitality the better you will be positioned to deal with challenges and stress that come your way. Working on your emotional vitality will help increase your emotional endurance and stamina and maintain a positive outlook.
When we think about emotional vitality in terms of good mental and emotional health, this is about keeping yourself free of mental “toxins” that can impact the way you think. Mental toxins include such things as opinions and criticisms that affect your motivation, esteem, confidence and courage. You can gain emotional vitality from feeding your emotions positive thoughts. It’s about reinforcing and embracing all your emotions, even those that you consider negative, such as sadness, hurt, anger and loss.
These need to be positively accepted as part of you and it’s OK to go through the process of experiencing them, but with a positive mindset that they are part of you, they are real and you need to process them. This is related to reflection (Reflections) and allowing yourself to fully experience your emotions. Try not to suppress them.
You can think of vitality as being the “connective tissue” or the outcome of a balanced body, mind and soul–where you are in good physical condition by taking care of your body with good nutrition and exercise. Your mind and emotional state is being nurtured and you are centered and grounded. And your soul or spiritual self is at peace and fulfilled. Paying attention to these aspects of you, how they are connected and how when aligned bring to you vitality will help you experience a passion for and joy in living, physical endurance (Warrior Rx and Warrior DAX for Vitality) and mental alertness.
“Diversity is not about how we differ. Diversity is about embracing one another’s uniqueness.”
The human race is so extraordinary diverse in so many ways. The concept of diversity encompasses acceptance and respect. It means appreciating that each of us is unique, and recognizes that with those differences come different strengths and abilities. It is about understanding each other and celebrating the rich dimensions of diversity contained within each individual and embracing the unique warrior (Embrace the Warrior) in ourselves and others.
These differences can be of age, race, color, gender, sexual orientation, life style, philosophy, culture, disabilities, religious beliefs, or other ideologies. These are also in how we each think, react, process information, communicate, work, rest, love, etc. The areas in which we differ are simply endless.
Valuing diversity recognizes differences between people. It embraces that these differences are the ingredients that add to rich and meaningful life experiences.
It is human nature to gravitate to others who have similar characteristics, beliefs, values, thoughts, patterns, etc., and to be with “like minded” people. But think about it–and ask yourself as you go through your process of change and your daily life–are you limiting yourself and others by getting too comfortable in this state and maybe even inadvertently closing yourself off to socializing, working with and meeting others?
By rejecting or not fully accepting the uniqueness or diversity of others, are you creating barriers to your growth and progress, and even more so, hindering the growth and the potential of community? Diversity is a fertile source of strength, creativity and innovation. Through its synthesis it gives rise to the power of the whole.
Common joys and pains may bring us together. Heritage and tradition may give us roots. Culture, values and beliefs may center us. But diversity makes us unique. Diversity resides in each of us (The Language of Your Soul) and adds to the richness not only of who we are but more importantly to the richness of the whole.
Key to truly embracing diversity is an open heart and mind, not being judgmental–and appreciating and being grateful for the differences we all have. Understanding and accepting people from all walks of life is key to finding peace in our lives. Remember that diversity is a word that encourages inclusion by illuminating what is different in all of us. We should celebrate our unique selves and others. And reflect that all of us have intrinsic, unique value. Diversity is a gift that we should cherish.
To help inspire you in embracing diversity and the unique warrior in each of us, here is a link to “I Am Diversity, Please Include Me” by Charles Bennafield
Whether you climb rock, ride motorcycle, practice martial arts or do lots of glad handing having a better grip will increase your ability to perform and improve your confidence. Most will agree that a quality grip is a benefit in life, yet very few take the time to train effectively to improve their grip. In fact, aside from breath control/work (Your Breath is Your Power), grip training is possibly the most neglected area of training. If you hold on to handle bars, twist a throttle, wrestle, etc., a healthy and strong grip is vital. So some of you may be asking what exactly is grip training?
Grip training is movements and exercises that strengthen your hand, wrist, forearm and fingers. Contrary to common belief, your grip strength and development is not limited to just your hand. Actually, much of your grip strength comes from the muscles in your forearm. This combination of muscles gives your hands their strength, while retaining the range of motion of all your fingers. When most people think of grip strengthening exercises what comes to mind is that spring loaded device that we used as kids. But that really only trains one part of the over all grip.
So let’s talk a bit about grip. Your hand is an amazing and complicated mechanism capable of four basic types of grip.
- Crush or Power grip— Crushing grip that provides the strength required to close your hand against a resistance.
- Pinch grip—Pinching grip is the strength generated between your thumb and your fingers.
- Support or Gripping— Gripping strength is required to hold something in a static position for an extended period of time.
- Mantis, monkey or hook grip— The grip used when your fingers and thumb are on the same side of an object forming a hook.
You’re only as strong as your weakest link, and your grip may just be that weak link. In order for your grip to improve your hands have to be used. And it’s best to stay away from straps, resins and assisting devices since these types of aides can lead to your muscle groups becoming out of balance, which in turn can cause ineffective training and result in injuries.
Your grip can be easily trained using everyday movements and simple equipment. I will touch on each of the four grips and give some simple exercises that can help you improve your grip.
Crush or Power grip—The crush grip is the grip between your fingers and your palm—the one you use for shaking hands or seizing an arm or limb. Crush grip can be trained by opening and closing your hand against resistance. The resistance can be created by a tennis ball, squash ball, towel, etc..
- Exercise 1 Ball squeeze—Squeeze a stress ball or tennis ball, opening and closing hand pause at the point when you have squeezed as far as you can and repeat.
- Exercise 2 Paper crumble—crumple newspaper page by page with one hand (not the online version).
- Exercise 3 Towel Squeeze— (My favorite) Find a small to medium sized towel or rag. Soak the towel in the water. Hold the towel vertically “wring” the towel out by twisting your wrists and squeezing. Squeeze as much water out as possible. Start at the top and work your way down. The thicker the towel the more resistance. Hint–it’s best to do this over a bucket, sink or outside.
- Exercise 4 Thick Bar Training–This is done by increasing the thickness of the bar you are using for your regular workouts. Just wrap the bar you are using for bench press, back pulls, dumbbells, etc., with a towel. The increased bulk of the surface or circumference increases demand on your hands and forearm
Pinch Grip —The Pinch Grip is the grip between your fingers and your thumb.
- Exercise 1 Plate Pinch—Pick up a couple 10-pound plates, smooth sides out, with your thumb on one side and your fingers on the other. Pass the plates around your body from left to right then reverse direction. Repeat this until you feel your grip start to fail.
- Exercise 2 Pinch-grip chin-ups using bouldering handholds. Perform regular chin-ups holding on to bar or wall with just pure fingers.
The Support Grip — is the ability to maintain a hold on something—like holding a hammer, baseball bat or carrying a suitcase handle.
- Exercise 1 Flexed Arm Hang–Grab pull up bar with both hands-use underhand grip and pull up until your chin is over the bar. Hold this position until you can’t hold any longer. Increase difficulty by adding weight (by using weight belt, holding a dumbbell between your feet or wearing a weight-vest).
- Exercise 2 Farmer’s Walk—Hold a heavy dumbbell in each hand and pace back and forth until your grip fails. This exercise can also be used for pinch grip if you use weight plates instead of dumbbells.
Mantis, monkey or hook grip— Mantis grip can be defined as the grip used when your fingers and thumb are on the same side of an object forming a hook. Work the mantis grip on an object that is to large to fit your hands around.
- Exercise 1 PVC hold— Using a piece of PVC pipe hold pipe horizontally between your hand (formed as a hook, fingers and thumb on same side) and your wrist. As you hold the pipe in this position really flex your wrists down and hold pipe parallel to floor. Increase difficulty by adding sand to the pipe.
- Exercise 2 Mantis pull-ups— Grip pull-up bar without wrapping the thumb. Do pull-ups as normal using this grip. This also works on wooden rafters.
I find it useful to set a challenge for myself that includes grip training and to incorporate grip training into my daily workouts. As you start your grip training and pump it up with more resistance and holding positions longer you will feel the after affects. By all means, you need to build your grip training and evolve it as your hands, wrists and forearms get stronger. Make sure you are not doing too much too soon–build it. What helps and should be part of grip training is stretching and massage of your forearms, wrists and hands with an all natural, topical rub (Warrior Rx and Massage – Perfect Together) .
I hope you found these suggested exercises helpful and if you have others please share them!
“The adventure of life is to learn. The purpose of life is to grow. The nature of life is to change. The challenge of life is to overcome. The essence of life is to care. The opportunity of life is to serve. The secret of life is to dare. The spice of life is to befriend. The beauty of life is to give.”
This week I want to continue our discussion on leadership. Last week we talked about the quiet leader (Quiet Leadership) and that in all of us is a leader; by being true to ourselves (The Language of Your Soul) and to those around us we lead through simple acts that are brave and courageous—and touch people’s lives. All too often leaders are thought to be these great beings, exalted and revered.
A lot of what is written about leadership and how to be a great or effective leader is in the context of making decisions in challenging times and taking charge, or putting oneself on the line—so much so that we confuse leaders with heroes having super powers. This is pretty daunting! And makes some of us look for hints and to-do’s on being a leader and to try to emulate someone else who we think is a great leader; and can even make some of us shy away from embracing the leader in ourselves.
First, let’s start out by saying there is no such thing as a universal leader—there is no one model that if followed will make someone a strong or effective leader. Leaders are in all walks of life, and they do not share the same traits. As unique as you are, is as unique the leadership qualities and traits you possess. These qualities and traits are interwoven into the fabric of you—catalyzed by your experiences, wired into your soul’s purpose and exhibited in the current space and time in which you are.
Your inner leader is fueled by what you really believe in and what you are trying to do, the difference that you make in the world and how you impart this so it is contagious. And this does not have to be on a large scale or one to many—sometimes it is as simple as one to one, and that one to one—since it touched or inspired another—is passed on to others through more one to ones. And most times, strong leaders are the “unexpected ones”—those who aren’t trying so hard to be leaders! They just are.
Most of us—the leader we are and the leaders that touch our lives—don’t have any formal leadership role or title. If we have titles they are titles of teacher, friend, mother, father, etc. Leaders are often people in our daily lives and even those put on our path for a brief moment that leave a piece of themselves with us—and sometimes we don’t even notice in that moment, until we are grown or in a place and time dealing with a challenge that we take the piece to help us lead.
Today let’s start to embrace the leader in ourselves and recognize the authentic leaders who day in and day out add value to people’s lives. Let’s celebrate the unexpected leader who works quietly behind the scenes keeping people they work with and live with—in the communities in which they live and function—motivated, inspired, hopeful, calm, informed, educated, comforted and loved. Let’s embrace the leader in us and among us who takes the time to really listen, to be in the moment, to lend a helping hand, that provides wisdom and gentle guidance. Let’s appreciate the leader who knows when to step aside or follow.
Let’s recognize and accept that all of us—and the leaders we are—make mistakes—and forgive and learn from mistakes or missteps. Let’s celebrate the unexpected leader who comes out from behind the scenes to protect others, to advocate for values and beliefs—who inspire others for broader support for noble missions and purpose.
We have so much to learn from each other as leaders and the unexpected leaders who quietly guide and influence people and make our world a better place. We all benefit from embracing that we all have different ways of thinking and communicating and how we approach the world. By having open minds and hearts we can see things in new ways and be inspired and inspire—and lead.