Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Power in Words

Often times we are content to rely on commonly used terms when describing certain actions or feelings in our lives. I have always thought that all words contain a type of power; a power to set certain things in motion.  These things could be emotional reactions, physical choices or deep pensive moments.  The nuances contained in word choices can make all the difference in how we travel through our lives.

One particular piece of advice that I find most troubling for many situations is the use of the word "accept". We are told that to move on from a not-so-nice, or toxic, situation we should "accept" the situation as it is, and determine how to react in the most positive way. The intention is to help a person push beyond the pain, or annoyance, of the situation and to be able continue on in a sort of amicable way.  I think that a more appropriate term to use in this case is "acknowledge".  By accepting something as it is, you give it power.  You are sending a message that the behavior is "acceptable"; that it is okay for someone to be treating you like they are.  Instead, if you acknowledge the behavior, you are not sending a message that you condone it, but rather that you recognize it for what it is.  Only then have you claimed the power over the situation and can determine what your reactions should be to it.  I realize this is a subtle difference, but a very powerful one that has helped me over the years to not get stymied by a bad relationship, or put myself in a situation of reacting in a way that was not in my best emotional interest.  This conscious choice of using "acknowledge" versus "accept" has given me the power to be in control of my feelings and actions.

The other benefit of making this choice is that minimal energy is wasted trying to fully understand, or change, another person.  It helps to maintain the focus on  your own actions.  It is, of course, very important to think of others when reacting to situations.  I am not suggesting that reactions should be determined without thought for others.  I am simply stating that to change a situation for the better, it is important to "acknowledge" and not necessarily "accept"; thereby changing the power dynamic of the situation.

I encourage you to take a look at how different words make you feel as you go about your day.  It may not be this particular word choice scenario that resonates with you.  It might be something like peace versus harmony, or angst versus stress.  Words are very powerful and a wonderful tool for reshaping your perspective at a given moment.  Try on some new words and enjoy!

Namaste',

Michelle H.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Take Time to Refresh

This is often the most ignored advice anyone ever receives; including myself.  Yet we all know it to be true that if we take some time to relax and recharge ourselves, then our ability to live fully is much easier.  How can it be possible to be alert enough to notice the little things and to accomplish the larger things when we are on the verge of illness, or fighting back sleepiness during the day.

I recently read an article about the value of personal retreats.  It made me wonder who the folks are that are able to "check out" of their lives for a year at a time, or even longer.  The authors described retreats that they had participated in, some lasting as long as six years!  After these retreats they said that they felt refreshed, open and ready for re-entry into their lives.

The more I thought about these retreats, the more I started thinking that the participants had not really "checked out" of their lives, but rather had simply taken some time to experience their lives.  This was done by focusing solely on the moments occurring during the simple days of their retreat.  Now, if you are like me, you cannot afford to stop everything that you have going on in your life in order to take this much needed time for yourself.  However, I am fairly certain that we all could find an hour or two in our busy lives for a moment of recharging.  Our personal retreat could be getting a massage, taking a drive, or simply sitting quietly on a park bench.

The word "retreat" implies that we are backing off from something.  I actually think that a better word to use is  "refresh".  Refresh describes a period of creation, renewal and viability.

What better way to truly be alive now, than to take time out to focus on the present.  Beauty abounds in every moment and stopping for a brief time will recharge your energy in order to return to the more hectic events of life.  If you can afford to take the time for a longer refreshment period, I would certainly advocate that as well.  A longer time spent focusing on the present moment will only deepen your connection to your life.  So sit back, breathe and think about the last time you actually stopped for refreshment.  Now plan for your next refreshment break.  It is good for your immune system, your relationships and your soul.

Be creative, enjoy and remember, no time is too short for renewal.

Namaste',

Michelle H.