Sometimes you don’t have a choice. Or do you?

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Choice. Life Choices. Options.

Choice. Options.

The Serenity Prayer says, “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Sometimes it doesn’t feel as if we have choices, but in truth we almost always do.

A friend of mine named Lara was laid off from her job of 15 years. She was a loyal employee and was confident her employer would reward her faithfulness with interrupted employment and an occasional thank you. So, when she was laid off, she was devastated. “How could this happen to me,” she cried, “I’ve given the company the best years of my life and this is the thanks I get.” Lara had a right to be upset. She had a right to be angry. And although she had no choice in being terminated, she did have a choice in how she handled it.

She took control of her life. She allowed herself time to be angry. Then, instead of moping around feeling sorry for herself for weeks and months, she took this seemingly bad situation and turn it into an opportunity to receive training in an area she was interested in.

She also used the unscheduled break in employment as a respite, a time for a much-needed vacation. Lara chose to work her situation to her advantage.

In a journal, identify a situation in which you feel you didn’t have a choice. Explain why you thought you didn’t have a choice. Now, go back and think about what you could have done differently. In hindsight, where they are other options he could’ve explored? Is this something you can do now?

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Act As If

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Starting today let’s practice acting as if.

Pensive woman day dreaming in parkWhy? Because “acting as if” is a powerful tool for successful living. It is one that when properly applied renders triumphant and bountiful results. The idea that we can believe one thing, yet take contrary action and get positive results, is remarkable. Think about it. How often have you given up on something simply because you didn’t believe you could have it or do it?

On the contrary, how often have you accomplished a goal because you were willing to do the work, even though deep in your heart you never believed you can do it? Does that mean we have no chance of doing well, simply because we don’t think we can? Some people will have us believe that that’s true. They suggest that in order to make it at anything, we absolutely must believe we can. To back up that theory there are countless authors, therapists, lecturers and others who tell us that confidence is a precursor to success. And without it, we won’t make it.

I must disagree.

If that were true, I and many others wouldn’t be where we are today.

I didn’t get through law school because I believed in myself. I wish I could say that I did. For sure, there were moment of feeling that “Yes, I can do this. Yes I’m making it happen.” But there were many more moments of feeling that “I can’t, it’s hard, and I want to give up.”

What I had, and continue to have, going for me is a willingness to do the work – even when I don’t believe I’ll make it to the finish line.

Sometimes we get caught up thinking we have to feel good each and every moment on the journey. That life has to be easy and uncomplicated or else it’s not worth living. How often do we hear it said that “life doesn’t have to be hard”? On one level that’s true depending on the choices we make. If we make safe and easy choices that that don’t stretch us or test our growth, then we may have easy lives. But if we’re doing anything that is new, different, or outside of our comfort zone, there will be days we’ll feel great and days when we’ll struggle just to get out of bed.

Acting as if is the key. A willingness to take contrary action enabled me to change my reality, simply became I moved my feet. Even today when I set out to get a certain result, I don’t always believe I’ll get what I want. There are no guarantees. My job is simply to do the work and act as if. The rest is up to my Higher Power.

Some of you might think acting as if is being phony because you’re doing something you don’t believe in. And perhaps you’re right. But how often do we fake it in our lives with no purposeful goal other than to impress someone? Why not “fake it until we make it” as we move ourselves closer to competing our goal?

Do the footwork and the mind will follow. It’s all in how we see it.

Join my conversation on FacebookFacebook Esteemableacts Fan Page, or my Facebook Law Page, you can also interact with me on my Twitter Esteemable Acts page, Twitter Law Page, or on LinkedIn. Feel free to subscribe to my newsletter.

Making the right choices

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Life Choices. Stress.

Life Choices. Stress.

Every day we make choices about how we want to live, feel, and behave. We make choices that affect our health, our finances, our relationships, and our well-being. And every day we feel the effects of those choices. And so do the people around us. Our choices don’t exist in a vacuum.

There’s a price we pay for poor choices. Added stress, strained relationships, dysfunctional homes, incorrigible kids, unhealthy bodies, and fewer desirable opportunities are among the consequences we pay.

When we make choices, we set in motion a cosmic reaction – one thing leads to another. Sometimes the outcome is what we want, but we’re still unhappy. Sometimes we don’t get what we want, yet the outcome turns out to be the best thing for us. How do we know when we’re making the right choice?  There’s a quiet, small voice inside us that never lies or steers us in the wrong direction. The truth is that we always know right from wrong; sometimes we choose to ignore that knowledge. On occasion, we reject the right to answer because it comes from a parent, teacher, spouse, or other perceive authority figure.   There are also times when we pretended not to know what’s appropriate, because we’ve decided to do what we want to do, no matter what.

So how do we go about making the right choices? First, we get into the place of being willing to make the right choices. Take a look at some recent decisions we’ve made and ask ourselves, “Is what I’m doing working for me? What consequences am I paying in order for me to feel good in the moment?”  When our answers are honest and we are willing to see the truth, then we are ready to go to the next step: making better choices. At this juncture, we stop and listen to that intuitive voice.  Often it competes with other, louder voices, voices that justify choices that are wrong for you. But despite the battle, deep down, we always know the right answer.

One of life’s greatest gift is realizing that we have the power of choice. The idea that we can control what happens to us is liberating, yet at the same time how fully frightening. Why? Because with choice comes the responsibility. Self-esteem is about making choices for ourselves and being accountable for them.  When we shirk that responsibility, we set ourselves up to be victims.

How easy is it to see ourselves as victims. How easy is it to do whatever we want in life, and then blame someone else for the outcome. This blog is about making different choices so we can bypass the victim role.

So what choices are you making? Today I invite you to examine your thought process for making decisions.

Self-Esteem Comes From Learning From Your Mistakes

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There are days when all of our plans go smoothly; we feel in sync with life, everything goes our way. Then there are days when it all falls apart and the best we can do is to ride it out, knowing this too shall pass. We make plans, and our plans take a detour in another direction.

be Silly. Be playful. Enjoy life today.Life’s setbacks are numerous, including dealing with the computer virus or other technology problems, the break up of a relationship, an eviction notice, being late for an important appointment, or an unexpected bill. If you’re having one of those days, here are some suggestions to help you get through the other side:

  • Feel your feelings, every single one of them. Having the courage to own your feelings in the moment helps you to get through to the other side a lot quicker.
  • Journal about your feelings. There’s something magical about putting pen to paper right from your feeling place. Don’t edit your words; no one will see this except you.
  • Pray. Ask for God’s guidance. The idea here is to connect with that still, small voice within you, whatever you call it.  There are no rules as to how you connect. What I’ve found to be useful is to find a quiet space. When there is a lot of noise around you, it’s hard to tap into your intuitive voice, the one that steers you in the direction that’s appropriate for you.
  • If prayer doesn’t work for you, read something positive. This allows you to create a space within yourself so that the solution can enter. What usually works for me is reading Step 10 followed by Step 6 in Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, or if the book is not close at hand, I generally listen to inspirational tapes.
  • Call a friend who will allow you to vent. Left to your own thoughts, you can get more toxic. It’s hard to solve the problem with the consciousness that helped to create the problem. The idea of having someone shed light in the form of a solution or a suggestion can be helpful.  Sharing in a non-judgmental environment allows you to hear yourself, which ultimately helps you to get on with the business of living.
  • When all else fails, take a nap or watch a mindless television program purely for its entertainment value. Clear your mind long enough for sanity to return.
  • Have the courage to ask the tough questions. One day, after my entire computer was destroyed because of a virus, I ranted about people who have nothing better to do then create viruses. I then needed to ask myself the following; could I have done something differently? Yes, all of my files should have been backed up. Were there red flags I didn’t pay attention to or chose not to see? Yes. My computer has been acting strange for a while. At the very least, I should have backed everything up when I first noticed there was a problem.
  • Get into the solution. With a writing deadline and two client engagements scheduled within a week of the occurrence, I couldn’t afford to pitty myself for a long. What could I do? I told my clients what happened and asked that they resend their documents. I re-created presentation materials as best I could. I checked my laptop to see whether I had duplicate documents, and in some cases, I did. I ordered a new computer and saved everything on my laptop to a storage drive. I learned from my mistake.

This week, you have the opportunity to learn from your mistakes too. What went wrong today or this week? Write about it and allow yourself to feel whatever feelings come up. Then see what can you do to get into the solution, what action can you take to minimize the damage done? What can you do to prevent this from happening again?

Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward helping you protect what’s yours. Join my conversation on FacebookTwitter, or in one of my LinkedIn groupsGoogle+ Circles. Feel free to subscribe to my newsletter.

Walk Like You Talk

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Walk Like You TalkIt’s easy to think that no one’s watching us.

It’s safe and comfortable to think that what we do doesn’t affect others.  In fact, what we do does affect others, whether it’s our kids, our partners, our pets, our friends, or our co-workers. I’ve often heard people say jokingly, “If you really knew how little people paid attention to you, you’d be disappointed.” That sounds good in theory, but in reality, we are always an example of how to live in the world, whether we like it or not.

The first time I really understood this was when I returned home from a short business trip a few years ago. There was a lovely message on my voicemail from someone who had heard me speak at an event several weeks earlier. Her message was simply:  “You’re amazing. I caught a glimpse of you in the Dallas/Fort Worth airport when you were having trouble with the gate agent. Sorry I didn’t get to say hello, but I noticed how well you handled what could have resulted in a really bad outcome. The next thing I knew, you and the agent were smiling and chatting. Bravo for walking like you talk.”

The idea that I had been observed without knowing it was a little unsettling. Then my mind quickly switched to gratitude; I’d been caught doing what was perceived as the right thing – maybe once, twice, ten times, a hundred times? More important, it made me question how often I’d been caught having a tantrum in public when I didn’t get my way. How many times have I been overheard being rude to people who were only doing their jobs? It’s food for thought.

There are some people who will quickly stand up and say, “I don’t care what people think about me.” They say, “There is way too much emphasis on what others think” and “It’s not my responsibility to be a role model for the world’s kids.” Or a favorite saying is, “What you think of me is none of my business.” While generally speaking that may be true, in reality, as long as we must coexist with others, to some extent what they think of us does matter.  Like it or not, we are role models. We each play a part in co-creating the world we live in.

I challenge you today to examine your behavior.

What message are you communicating? If people were to observe you in public without you knowing it, what would they be a witness to? How do you behave in traffic when someone cuts you off? How do you behave when you’re not getting your way while dealing with a vendor? If people were to listen in on your phone calls, what would they hear?

Novelist C.S. Lewis once said, “integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.” This is something we should all strive achieve in our daily lives, and always, walk like you talk!

Feel free to join my conversation on Facebook, Facebook Esteemableacts Fan Page, or my Facebook Law Page, you can also interact with me on my Twitter Esteemable Acts page, Twitter Law Page, or on LinkedIn.