Firebirdlifecoach's Blog

Pursuing a Passionate Life

The Crow and The Hawk February 26, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — firebirdlifecoach @ 8:38 pm
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crow-attacking-red-tailed-hawkThis morning, like most days, I sat enjoying my coffee on my porch. For me, even in the cold of winter, it is my favorite way to start the day. This is because there almost always exists a still, meditative quality to the early morning which is enhanced by the clean brightness of a fresh layer of snow.
Like many mornings the only other creatures I come across in those early hours of a new day are the birds, and today was no exception. But rather than the usual company of songbirds, my feathered friends this morning were three squawking Crows and one very large Hawk.
You’ve seen this phenomenon haven’t you? It happens when a murder of Crows bands together to harass and ultimately scare away a bird of prey. It’s an impressive sight, as both birds have a particular magnificence about them that demand attention.
I watched as they flew from treetop to treetop until finally the Crows were satisfied with the distance the Hawk had flown from their “home-turf”, and they retreated victorious and calm. But this dance is not exclusive to these two types of birds. I have seen it play out before with other combinations of predators and prey. And as my morning moved on, I couldn’t’ help but think about their boisterous interaction and how it repeats itself over and over again in our day-to-day lives as well.
Only, in our lives, both predator and prey often occupy the same close-knit neighborhood – because in us, they represent the opposing voices inside our very minds. You see, it seems that all of us have within us two very different types of “self-talk”.
I am not talking here about the “cartoon angel and devil” sitting on our shoulders advising us on the “right and wrong” of a particular course of action. I am talking about that other kind of self-talk; that conversation between the parts of ourselves that can either “lift us up” or “tear us down”. We all have them. You know the ones… There is the predatory self-talk; “You’ll never get this done”, “You aren’t smart enough”, “No one will want to hear what you have to say”, or whatever particular combination of self-defeating words will trigger your particular psyche to shut-down. And then there is the encouraging self-talk; “You can do this”, “You are doing great”, and “You are totally on top of this material”. Unfortunately, for a lot of folks the former group gets a lot more time at the microphone than the latter. And there’s a reason for that – it’s called the “Negativity Bias”.
First described by social psychologist, Roy Baumeister in an article he co-authored in 2001 entitled “Bad is Stronger than Good”, the Negativity Bias refers to the psychological phenomenon in which humans pay more attention to, and give more weight to, negative rather than positive experiences or other kinds of information. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negativity_bias)
There is a lot of information out there about how to work with our negativity bias (See the work of neuropsychologist, Rick Hanson, author of Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom) – not to the extent that we are burying our heads in the sand and ignoring danger – but in order to help us temper this internal response when it’s input may not only be unnecessary but, destructive as well. But over and over again, I find that the most significant intervention we can make is to simply raise our awareness of it and recognize those negative voices when they occur.
You see, it seems that a lot of our negative self-talk likes to operate “on the down low”. When you really stop to notice them, to think about what they are saying, often this simple illumination itself can weaken the force of their message. Like the lion in the grass stealthily stalking its meal, detection significantly lowers the chances they are going home with a big supper.
Once recognized, you can work with doing a little “reality check”. You can consider more positive and encouraging things to say to yourself. You can choose to re-wire your brain by spending more time savoring the positive, or any number of other interventions. But, before you go there just take a moment to shine a little light on your self-talk. You will be pleasantly surprised to see what it has the power to illuminate. After all, if the Crows didn’t notice that Hawk in the first place, they never would have thought to chase it away.

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Inspiration from the Inside – Out February 6, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — firebirdlifecoach @ 11:37 am
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Quiet Day in the showroomI was stuck… There was a list of “to-do” items as long as my arm – I sat at my desk, searching for a place to start and painfully aware of the need to get going. The phenomenon is not unusual, many people feel pressed right now and it is not uncommon for it to create a sense of overwhelm that results in a state of inertia. But common or not, it isn’t a place anyone really wants to stay for very long. The trick is how do you find the path outward? Though it may not seem so obvious in the moment the options are plentiful, here are some of the most common:
• You may decide that you need to just “break” the moment a bit, step away from the “stuckness”; go fix yourself a cup of coffee or take a walk to the supply-room to grab a new pen – anything that takes you out of the moment in hopes of a simple reset when you return.
• You could try to force the issue – mustering your discipline to “just do it” and hope that by jumping into the fray – your sheer force of will, can suffice to break the stand-off.
• You may seek to do a little meditation to quiet the mind- since often it is the swirl of all the tasks in your head themselves which are preventing you from getting started on any one of them.
• Or you may choose to spend a little time connecting with a friend or colleague – taking a moment to vent, to distract, or to seek a little collaboration and insight.
• You may look outward – reading a favorite quote or passage which rekindles your spark.
• You could decide that today is just not going to be your most productive day – and hope that tomorrow a fresh start will provide new momentum.
• Or you can take the time to look inward, to connect with your own self; your values, goals, passions and strengths. Connecting the “why” with the “what” and thus creating your own inspiration.
From one day to the next you may find yourself working through this list of alternatives or trying something not mentioned here – but I generally find the last option to be the most effective. Because often, when we can truly connect with our own personal motivations for what we do we are most effective at re-energizing ourselves to actually get the work done. It’s easy to lose track of “the why”. On a day-to-day basis – so many of us are on a sort of automatic pilot – going through our days – checking off our lists – but not really even completely conscious of what we are doing and what got us here in the first place. For many, life has become a series of days where the only obvious purpose is to “just get by” and our investment in the process has become just enough to keep us around to face another day tomorrow. And indeed, there are times when that is in fact an achievement worth striving for – but the hope is – at some point – it will be about more.
Maybe you aren’t in your dream job and the work you do provides a simple paycheck to help make ends meet – but if you connect with your fundamental value – that you are doing it to provide a home and basic amenities for yourself and your family – well, hell in my book that’s pretty darned important. Maybe you have a burning need to create something, to inspire others, to be of service to your community, to be a positive role model for your children, to teach, to build or any other countless possibilities. Inside you somewhere, are your values, goals and passions – and whether or not they are obvious in an outward fashion – they are shaping the decisions you make, the things you do and how you do them. So next time you need a little inspiration to move a ahead – take a moment to look within – to find that part of your soul which fuels the fire within your very existence – and let it burn baby! You’ll be surprised to find out just how inspiring you can be.