Fact v. Interpretation – Does it Matter?


little-girl-759x675What was your first thought when you saw this photo? Did you feel a tug on your heart because the girl seems sad or lonely? Did the scene remind you of something in your childhood? Or did you decide that the girl is expecting someone to arrive and she is patiently waiting?

Whatever your first thought, the fact remains that this is merely a photograph of a young girl staring out a window. Nothing more, nothing less.

In the absence of data, we create meaning.  – Brene Brown

In the absence of data, our minds are wired to jump in and create a story about what is in front of us. It’s the way we protect ourselves, by injecting meaning into data that would otherwise be without context.

The meaning we attach to data is heavily influenced by our past, our beliefs and our current emotional state. These layers of perspective can ebb and flow from moment to moment, causing confusion and disrupting our focus and our relationships.

We interpret neutral facts to fit our worldview.

Has the following ever happened to you?

One morning, when I opened my work emails, I felt a surge of anger as I started reading a message from a colleague. I was in charge of an important project, and she was offering her unsolicited advice while copying my boss. We had been at odds before since we were on the same level in the company and we were both ambitious and competitive.

To say that I was not happy is an understatement.

Instead of taking a moment to calm myself and allow the strong emotion to pass through me (studies show that it takes up to 90 seconds for an emotion to run its course), I stormed down the hall to her office. I was ready for a confrontation and adrenaline was pumping through my body. My breathing was shallow, my muscles were tense, and my brain was in fight mode.

Bring it on sister!

Fortunately for me, I was stopped by another colleague who was a bit older and who knew me well enough to see the signs of an impending confrontation. He pulled me into his office and made me sit down. Without saying a word, he sat behind his desk and took several deep breaths.

I was not about to lose my mojo. I got up to leave, but he motioned for me to sit. As I looked at him, I found myself mimicking his breathing and felt the charge leave my body. After several seconds, he raised an eyebrow and invited me to share what was going on.

I learned a lot that day about myself and the dangers of interpretation. I avoided a harmful confrontation that would have had potentially drastic consequences on my career. I also discovered that just because I felt something strongly does not mean that the feeling was accurate. Interrupting the flow of emotions long enough to calmly evaluate the situation saved me from an embarrassing incident.

There is always thought before the emotion. Emotions do not rise by themselves. They rise because a thought, belief or interpretation has triggered the emotion.

Let’s put all of this together.

We know that in the absence of data, we create our own meaning, based on our worldview (remember the story you created about the little girl in the photograph?). We also know that there is always thought before emotion.

So what happens when we misinterpret the situation, motive or event and then act on the resulting feeling? It never ends well. The other person does not share our worldview and probably will not understand the depth of emotion we display. Animosity, mistrust, and conflict are possible results.

Unless we learn to recognize when we have entered the zone of emotional reaction, which causes your body to tense and our brain to scream, “I can’t take this anymore!” Become aware of your own sequence, interrupt it with mindfulness techniques and then reassess the situation before acting.

To learn more about these techniques that you can use immediately, please schedule a 15 minute appointment with me: Click HERE. I offer personalized meditations and coaching, as well as in-person training (in the Dallas/Fort Worth area).

It’s just another step in the Heart Dance!

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What Does Your Dog Know (that you forgot)


Ever notice that your dog returns to love much faster than you? When your dog gets his feelings hurt (if you don’t believe dogs have feelings, this is the point where you jump to another blog post), he will instantly return to adoration the minute you make amends.

Do you do that – return to love after you release the hurt? Or do you hang onto your hurt and nurse it like a cold beverage on a hot day?

Drop the Leash3The more I paid attention to my dog, the more I realized that I could learn a lot about being love. That is why I decided to write, Drop the Leash: Let Go of the Past and Love in the Present.

The analogy of a leash hits home with many people. It’s one thing to put the leash on your dog to restrain him; quite another when you effectively “leash” your own growth because of your past, limiting stories.

One reader proclaimed that “This book will quickly become a standard ‘training manual’ in many circles…I have already begun flipping my view of the world…”

Drop the Leash is a tongue-in-cheek guide written by a human, as told by a dog, about the dog’s observations of humans. Playful, satirical and wise, the narrator is a sassy dog named Avatar who tells it like it is.

Another person suggested that “If we follow the loving examples of dogs, we can play and experience joy as we were meant to. This story truly touches the heart and a must read for anyone on a spiritual journey.”

To learn more about the book (and see my other products), please visit KathrynEriksen.com.

It’s just another step in the Heart Dance <3.

The Story Mirror


MirrorsI was putting on my makeup the other morning when I noticed a matched set of wrinkles around my mouth. Having reached the age where the mirror is can seem like an enemy instead of a friend, I am hyper-vigilant about the stories I tell myself as I gaze at my reflection.

It makes all the difference in what I see.

Allow me to provide two examples to demonstrate my point. Assume both of these scenarios occurred on the same day, at the same time:

Story A: It’s the end of 2015 and I didn’t accomplish all of my goals. I feel time slipping through my fingers like grains of sand and I feel powerless to stop the flow. I don’t particularly like myself right now and the choir of judgment, criticism and frustration is singing at full volume. When I look in the mirror, all I see are wrinkles, gray hairs and a bit of sagging around my jawline. I frown at my image and wonder (rather despondently) why I look so much older.

Story B: It’s the end of 2015 and I made a list of all that I accomplished this year. I have taught courses, given speeches (on a cruise!), appeared on television, been interviewed on radio shows and even created a podcast. It’s been a productive year and I can’t wait for 2016! When I look in the mirror, I see myself as a vibrant woman eager to share her wisdom. The wrinkles, gray hairs and sagging jawline are just the physical evidence that I have lived more than 50 years on this planet. I smile at myself, knowing that I am enough.

What just happened? My physical appearance didn’t change. The mirror’s surface was the same – it reflected back what was before it. The only thing different was the story I told myself as I looked into the mirror. And that story (whether it was positive or negative) caused me to see myself differently.

Instead of reflecting light particles, my mirror actually reflected the stories I told myself! Instead of an inanimate object made of glass and silver, I now call it my “Story Mirror.”

My mirror has become my litmus test. When I see the wrinkles, gray hair and sagging skin, I know I am not telling myself an uplifting story. When I see sparkling eyes and I can smile at myself, my internal story is rocking.

Your Stories Filter What You See

Stories are the meaning you attach to neutral facts. In the examples above, the physical appearance of my face certainly did not change, but I saw different things because of my story filter.

Can you change your limiting stories? Absolutely. Are you willing to become aware of your limiting stories so you can change them? Silence…as crickets chirp in the background.

The inevitable truth is: Only you are in control of your stories. You created them and you can change them. No one is coming to fix it. Only you can decide what stories work for you and which ones need to be changed.

“But how do I change my stories? That’s exactly how I see myself!” I can hear the conversation in your head as you consider my message. I do not have enough space here to explain the how and why of the Story Alchemy™ process, but I can promise you that it works miracles.

When you change your stories, you change your life. Your view of your world also changes to reflect your new perspective.

Life is a Mirror of your Inner World

One of my favorite quotes is by Henry David Thoreau: It’s not what you look at that matters; it’s what you see. When you begin alchemizing your limiting stories, you begin to see your world differently.

Why? It all starts with your inner world. Change your inner world and the outer world will also change.

We live in a dualistic world of physical form, governed by the laws of time and space. Good and bad co-exist; love and hate can always be seen; joy and despair exist in the same set of circumstances.

It all comes down to which story you choose as your filter. Are you limiting your view because of the choir of judgmental voices singing in your head? Or have you chosen to ignore them and turn toward the light of empowerment?

It is your choice, in every moment. Your choice determines what you see in the mirror, and in the outside world.

Why not choose to stand in front of your mirror with an empowering story about yourself, your life and your value? Commit to seeing the greatest version of the grandest vision of yourself and your world will change…because you have changed it from the inside.

You always have the perfect litmus test to determine whether you are on track. Your mirror. And your life.

Interested in learning more? Please visit KathrynEriksen.com and join my email list. Your first gift is the Story Alchemy ebook, that explains the process of returning to your authenticity.

 

Spiritual Fuel


“Your body is your vehicle for great awakening, treat it with great care” –Buddah

How many weight loss resolutions have your broken by the first week of the new year? Are you in that stage now, berating yourself for your lack of will power and focus?

It doesn’t have to be that way.

Diets, by their design, are restrictive. Deprivation and negativity are hallmarks. And many diets actually work against your body, triggering it’s survival mode. Holding on to every bit of calories and stored fat, because when you are on a diet, you can actually starve yourself.

It’s like filling your car up with water and expecting it to run smoothly (or to start at all).

Unlike a car, your body has its own natural intelligence. It knows how to realign and center, but it needs your help. Your body is designed to operate flawlessly, seamlessly and effortlessly. It just needs the right fuel. (Hint: the fuel is different than what you think it is).

F.U.E.L is not the food you eat or the calories you consume. Spiritual F.U.E.L. is:

Empower Your Health Webinar2

It All Starts When You Live From the Inside-Out

Your health can be seen from an entirely new perspective. Instead of counting calories and feeling deprived, why not take time to be still, go within and discover that you are O.K. (just by being here on the planet). Focusing on living from the inside-out will profoundly change your outlook, yourself, your relationships and your health. For example:

  • Reconnect with your Source and the negative emotions that may drive you to eat poorly disappear.
  • Realize your innate value as a human being; the insecurities that make a chocolate molten meltdown look like it’s your last meal dissolve into nothing. You can still eat the dessert, but you will enjoy it as a treat, not as an attempt to heal your pain.
  • Renew yourself as a holistic being, making self-care critical in your daily life. Meditation, yoga, reading inspirational materials and eating mindfully are just some of the action items that fall into this category.

When you shift your focus from the outer world to your interior landscape, everything falls into place. Your thoughts stop swirling, your emotions settle and you discover what you have always known (but may have forgotten).

“You Are Valuable. You Are Valued. You Are Loved.”

How great would it be to live from that place? Knowing that your worth is guaranteed and that you are enough, right here…right now.

If this message caught your attention and made you wonder, why don’t you join me on Monday, January 11, 2016 from 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. cst for a live webinar? You may find the answers you have been searching for, but didn’t know where to look.

Empower Your Health Webinar

Let’s dance together toward a new way of being. 

Just think how grand the world would be if only a few people started living from the inside-out!

Thank you and Be Well.

Do You Have an Open Mind?


Readers Muse just wrote an insightful review of Heart Dancing. As an author, it is sometimes difficult to read others’ words and opinions about your work.image

But I didn’t write Heart Dancing to be just a pleasant read. My overall motivation was to shake you, (the reader), awake to the enormous potential of your life and the choices you make in every moment.

Your reaction to the “shaking up” may be to set down the book and move on. And that is perfectly fine. It’s just not the right time for you. But if you can set aside your skepticism…a glimmer of “something more” may shine into your awareness.

Dhivya Balaji from Readers Muse got that point loud and clear. She cautions anyone who thinks this is just another “feel good” story, when she says, “Having an open mind while reading the book is essential for any reader to get through each chapter.”

Thank you Dhivya, for your honest and detailed review of Heart Dancing. It truly does depend on your perspective!

To learn more about my work, please visit KathrynEriksen.com. I am hosting a Virtual Dance Party at the end of this month – the only way to learn more about it is to join my email list. Hope to see you there!