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.

 

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Why is Simple So Hard?


Why do I fight what I know works?

I have a confession to make. It is difficult to put in words, because then the world will see my vulnerability. But so be it. 

Lean in. A little closer…

I have an ongoing battle with procrastination.

There, I said it. Did the world stop? Did my world stop? (cue crickets chirping as we wait…)

It’s one of those secrets I carry around because I am ashamed to admit that sometimes I don’t follow through. Sometimes I don’t reach the finish line (in my mind). Even when I know I have created a great product or written material that will help others.  Especially then.

Is it fear of rejection? Probably…no, that is it. I am afraid that if I “put it out there,” no one will pay attention. That is not really rejection (which takes an active decision by the rejector) but more in line with apathy, as in “Who cares?”

It is fear of the silent no-response that stops me from moving forward.

My internal diatribe usually goes like this. An endless stream of questions such as:  “What if no one buys it?”  “Who would want to pay money for that?” or the one that always gets me: “What do you know about _____?”

The only logical answers to these questions would be to look at my past history of success or failure. If “success” is defined by how much money I have made, then I always lose this argument.  And procrastination wins…again.

I have learned a simple technique that has helped me over the years. I just ask myself, “What is my definition of success?” Answering and knowing that definition becomes my response to the internal diatribe of negativity. For example, instead of “success” being defined in terms of monetary return, I define “success” as connecting to other

like-minded people.

And the cool thing is that I have connected to such people! I am successful (it feels so good to say that and actually mean it!)

My  journey has included many battles with the internal diatribe of procrastination. When I step back from the onslaught and see what is really happening, I can then step forward.  I can identify those thoughts for what they are — creations of my mind – and their nothingness is revealed. And I free to take action towards my dreams.

Today I learned that lesson again.

Instead of sleeping another hour, I dragged myself out of bed and sat down in front of my computer. I had procrastinated for several weeks about writing the marketing materials for my new virtual course based on Mike Dooley’s book, Infinite Possibilities. The  course was finished, I was paying the monthly fee to have it hosted on Kajabi, but I just could not seem to take the steps necessary to create the marketing materials.

Want to know how I got out of bed? As I lay there in that moment of indecision, I chose to use one of Mike’s techniques called “Flip that Thought.”  While I debated whether it was worth it to spend an hour on the project, I took the negative thoughts of “it won’t work,” “it’s not enough time,” and “why bother?” and changed them to something positive. I told myself instead that “it will work,” “time is valuable whether its small or large,” and “it matters to me.”  And my entire attitude shifted.

I was literally propelled out of bed!

Thoughts really do become things (as Mike is so fond of saying). And today I learned that lesson again for the umpteenth time. So now I know what to do when the familiar malaise of procrastination starts to drift over my thoughts. Remember to flip them into what I want.

It really is that simple.

The Software of Your Mind


“The mind is Satan’s lawyer; the heart is God’s servant.” –Unknown

What is bigger – a computer or the person who designed it? Who is smarter – the software or the people who created it? How do you change what is produced by a computer? You change the software that runs it or the information you give it.

Computers and the software that run them are just tools used to create something new, combine different, complex data into a bigger, different outcome. The parts of a computer and the way it works can be manipulated and redirected. Based on the information you give a computer, a different result will occur after the calculations are made and the data is processed.

Your mind and its thoughts work the same way. Your mind is just like the processor in a computer – it receives data, it calculates and makes judgments based on it’s programming, and from that, it produces a result that seems logical and reasonable. But who programmed your mind? Who wrote the “software” to interpret the millions of bits of data your senses perceive every minute?

You did.

The source code of your thoughts is you. You chose to think one way about an event and to react with a particular emotion, based on decisions you made previously about yourself and how you fit into your world.

If you believe that you have nothing worthy to contribute to a conversation, you won’t. If you think you are outgoing and friendly to strangers, you will be. The simple truth is that your thoughts about yourself create your world. And you are the one who created your thoughts.

And if you created your thoughts, that must mean that you are BIGGER than your thoughts, just like a programmer is bigger than the software, or the designer is bigger than the computer. And if you are bigger than your thoughts that means you can change them at will!

When you fully accept and appreciate this insight, it will change your world. Because it places you firmly in the control seat with the ability to change the thoughts that are not working for you. Once you become aware of your thoughts and start seeing the direct connection to what is manifested in your life, you will start to grasp the awesome power of creativity you have to change your world.

You are bigger than your thoughts. Don’t accept what is – if you want something different, then you have to think differently. Change your thoughts and change your world!

Emotions are the Fuel of Life

In my last blog, I introduced the concept of thought creation and emphasized that you are the creator of your thoughts. You are the programmer who decides what you think about certain things, people or places. Your thoughts are totally under your domain and if you want to change your world, you first must change your thoughts.

Today, I want to show you how emotions or feelings fit into this picture. Try this simple experiment. Take out a sheet of paper and draw a line done the middle.

1. Think about something that makes you feel uncomfortable, anxious or nervous. Close your eyes and picture that situation or person in your mind. Does public speaking make your heart race? Did a traffic incident make your blood boil? Chose one thing and think about it, noticing the emotions you feel as you go over that incident in your mind.

After a moment, open your eyes and write down your feelings in the left hand column. Use as few of words as possible and just capture the emotions you just experienced. Do not judge or criticize. The purpose of this exercise is just to observe and record.

2. Now think about something you love with a passion. Is it going to a certain place that carries happy memories? Or spending time with a person you enjoy? Or maybe it is a quiet walk through the woods or on the beach that you love. Close your eyes and place yourself there.

Observe how you feel when you imagine your favorite place or thing to do. Are you excited, happy or energized? Is there a smile on your face (there should be). Take a minute and describe your emotional state as your were thinking about your favorite thing. Just write down a brief description of what made you smile, and the emotions you felt when you thought about it. Make your notations in the right hand column.

3. Take a look at what you have written during the previous steps. In the space of five minutes (or less), you went from feeling anxious, nervous or upset to feeling happy, joyful or excited. All you did was change what you thought about and your emotions followed!

This simple experiment demonstrates three things:

Your thoughts trigger your emotions;
You are in control of your thoughts;
Therefore, you control your emotions by what you chose to think.

Begin observing your thoughts and if you start noticing a negative or self-limiting pattern, make a conscious decision to change them to be positive and affirming.

Emotions are the fuel of your life. But it is your thoughts that determine whether you are using premium, high-grade energy, or non-refined, polluted sludge that will not propel you towards your dreams and goals.

Your mind software can be reprogrammed to always choose the highest, most loving thought in any given situation. Imagine your life without fear, anxiety or doubt. What would you accomplish? Where would you go and who would you spend your precious time with? You are the only person who can give permission to live your life.

Aren’t you ready for a change from 010101011110101 to xoxoxoxoxoxoxo?

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The Mixing Bowl of Life


You are constantly creating and transforming yourself.

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Everytime you have a thought about something, or decide to take action or not, you have added another layer to your life.  Because it is the thoughts you think, the beliefs you hold and the actions you take that create your life.

You could even call it the Mixing Bowl of Life.

Many people are under the false impression that outside events are the forces that shape their lives.  Whether it is the economy (or lack thereof), the depth (or not) of their personal relationships or any of the other zillion possibilities, they look to the material world for their answers.

Psssstttt…the answer is not out there.  It’s all in here.

Take a moment and point to yourself.  Look at where you pointed.  I can almost guarantee that you pointed to the middle of your chest, near your heart.

That is where You are – in your heart.  Not your head, not your brain, not the 60,000 thoughts you think a day.  So where do you believe the answers are to your burning questions?  Out there or in your heart?

The mixing bowl of life’s ingredients is on the inside.

Your outward life reflects the inside of your mixing bowl.  If it is filled with anger, resentment, frustration and pain, that is recipe for an unhappy life.  But if your mixing bowl is filled with love, sprinkled with joy, salted with adventure and spiced with abundance, your life becomes nothing short of miraculous.

Wnat to know that the cool thing is?  You – yes, only you – decide what gets added or deleted from your mixing bowl.  Your parents cannot contribute (unless you let them), your job doesn’t make a difference (unless you allow it) and your spouse, friends or family cannot deposit anything.

Only you have control over what goes into your mixing bowl.

That is the awesome power you have over your life.  It is also an awesome responsibility and one that only you can master…for yourself.

Have you taken inventory lately?  What recipe are you cooking that is becoming your life?  If you don’t like the end result, go back to the beginning and change the ingredients.  It really is that simple.

But how do you do that?  Were do you start?

No one can know the answer for you.  Only you know your issues, your personal background and the dynamics of your relationships – with others and with yourself.  You are a unique and special person who has never existed before in just this way, and who will never exist again is this form.  So truly, you are the designer, cook, mixer and baker of your life.

My mission is to help illuminate your way with insights I have gained on my journey.  Some of them may resonate with you; others may leave you unaffected.  No worries, because I am not in charge of your growth and transformation.

YOU ARE.

Once you truly grasp that concept and integrate it into your world, watch out. Your life is about to rise, expand and become the most delicious thing you have ever experienced!

Who Do You Appreciate?


Remember being in high school and sitting at a football game.  The cheerleaders would try to get the crowd excited and hungry for a victory.  A line from one of the cheers went something like this:

Five, Six, Seven, Eight…Who do we appreciate?

I suspect that the word “appreciate” was used because it rhymes with “eight,” but this line is a great reminder on how to live a joyful life.  Because the one person you should be appreciated the most is…YOU.

Have you ever noticed that you have to perceive something first, before you can notice it in the world?  Before you can emotionally resonate with another person or thing, you have to have seen it in yourself.  It is your decision about yourself that determines your world.

For example, if you wake up and immediately think of the millions of tasks you have to accomplish, and wonder how you are ever going to get them done, don’t you feel a sense of anxiety – even dread? If you see yourself as a “person-who-has-too-much-to-do-and-how-in-the-world-am-I-going-to-get-it-all-done” then that is how you will be in that moment.  If you hold onto that thought, there is no doubt that you will “be-come” that thought as you move about your day.

Who wants to live in a state of anxiety or dread?  Certainly not me…or you either, or else you would not be spending precious time reading these words.  Since you stopped by and you reached this far, stay for a bit longer, O.K.?

Let me ask you a question: How do you see yourself in this moment? Who are you in this drop of time as we share our thoughts?  Has your opinion about yourself colored how you perceive and interpret the meaning of these words? (O.K., that was three questions…)  Some people may doubt these words, others will embrace them.  Whatever your reaction, you can trace it back to how you perceive your place in the world.

If you see yourself as a seeker of truth and an adventurer in this game of life, you will read this article much differently than someone who feels that life is a struggle and asks, “Why is it so hard?”  Either way, the filter of your self-perception determines your world.

Remember, the first relationship you ever have is with yourself.  Love yourself and you will see love in your world.  Hate yourself and you will see…well, you get the idea.

So the first step in changing your world is to first identify how you see yourself in it.  Write down your thoughts about yourself for a day and you will have taken a momumental step towards a better life.  For once you identify how you define yourself, you can take steps to change that definition.  Be on the lookout for judgments you make about yourself.  Write those down too, because they cement your ideas about yourself.

After one day of recording your thoughts about yourself, look on what you have written as if it came from your best friend.  Treat yourself with compassion and love.  You do not need to judge what you have written (which also contains judgments!)  Your answer is your answer. There is no right or wrong.  You own your perception of yourself. You created it and you “be-come” it as you move about in the world.  And here is the secret to a happy life:

No one can change it but you.

But remember this…your answer is your answer.  It will determine how you see the world.  For what you see in yourself, you see in the world.

Which brings us back around to the high school cheer.  Who do YOU appreciate?  If your answer is not YOU, then you will not see your place in the world as secure, joyous and loving.  Instead, you will see fear, lack and competition.  If there is lack of appreciation of yourself, you will see lack in your world.  Think about it, and then change how you think.

Now…stand up and say it with me…One, two three, four — Who are you fighting for?  Five, six, seven, eight – Who do you appreciate?

YOU!

Your Thoughts Create Your World


     I am a card-carrying member of the Eternal Optimist Club (there is no such organization as far as I know, but someone should start one). I know that the sun always shines whether we can see it or not, the earth continues to turn no matter who sits in the Oval Office and the river of life flows on. Even though a boulder or two may drop in my path, or a sudden, unexpected storm may darken my day, I usually find something good about the situation.

So what good could ever possibly come from a tragedy that seems to destroy everything you have strived or worked for?  It doesn’t matter if it is a health or financial crisis.  It is when something happens in your life that stands as the silent testimony that life can change in an instant or turn on a dime?

It all depends on how you look at it.

When I teach seminars on “How to Create Health,” the first thing I ask the audience to do is to take a deep breath, then point to themselves. Some people look surprised, some are reluctant, but to this day, every single person in the audience points to the same area of their body.

Their heart.

That simple gesture has profound consequences in everything you do. When you take a moment to consider who your really are, you don’t point to your head, where your thoughts reside, you point your index finger directly at the middle of your chest. The identity that is “you” is not made up of your thoughts or beliefs about yourself or the world – it lives, grows and expands from your heart. Basically, “you” are not your thoughts!

Dr. Wayne Dyer, an internationally renowned author and speaker in self-development, advises to “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

You always have a choice about how you are going to look at a situation or circumstance. You can decide to focus on the negative (“What a horrible thing to happen…”) or the positive. No one makes that choice but you. And you do it in every moment you are awake, breathing and alive.

Follow the logic…if “you” are not your thoughts, beliefs or emotions, but something greater that resides in your heart, and then who is in control of your thoughts and beliefs about the world?

You are.

Once you truly accept that simple statement and allow it to guide your thoughts, the creation of your dream life lies in the palm of your hand. You can change your thoughts about anything and start to feel more vibrant, alive and joyful. Catch yourself whenever you allow negative thoughts and change them into something positive. Do this on a consistent basis and you will begin to feel better, more hopeful and joyful. Try it on something small or simple and then expand this technique to more complicated issues.

Keep a journal of your “thought experiments,” record the negative thoughts, how you changed them, and what effects came from that simple decision to change your outlook. After a while, patterns will emerge that provide valuable insight into many habitual thoughts that have kept you reacting the same way to the same situations.

It is simple – change your thoughts, and change your world.

As John Milton, the English poet, wisely observed, “The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of Hell, a hell of Heaven.”

What you perceive to be “bad,” is. What you think of as “damaging” or “wrong,” is. You define your world by the thoughts you think. Two people can look at the same thing and have totally different thoughts about it. Instead of choosing negative thoughts, make a conscious decision to see the good.

The simple truth is that from the flames of destruction, something bigger and better can be born.

It will happen if we think it will.

Can Dogs be Good Teachers?


We think that we train dogs…but can they also train us?  We assume that because we are human and dogs are…just dogs, that we know more.  We may know more stuff, but do we really know more of the important stuff?

I began wondering about this whenever we visit the Bark Park, a patch of green grass in the midst of a concrete jungle.  It is the social time and place for the neighborhood made up of apartment dwellers – for the dogs and their humans.  The dogs have their own way to greet each other (it involves a lot of sniffing and turning) while their owners follow a different pattern (a quick glance, smile or nod, then maybe a short conversation).

I am certainly no expert on the sociological behaviors of the canine or human species, but perhaps we could learn something from our four legged friends.

The dogs who enter the park shy or reserved are treated differently than the happy, exuberant ones who fall all over themselves to be liked.  Just imagine the contrast between a Chihuahua and a Golden Retriever.  Or the aloof, aristocratic entrance of an Afghan Hound to that of a Great Dane.  While each breed has its own personality and characteristics, each one slightly adapts to the other dogs in the park.

Afghan Hound XXXIII Dogs Show in Ustroń, Poland

Image via Wikipedia

Last night, for example, our usually reserved Afghan actually started playing with the coal black Great Dane!  This only lasted for 30 seconds before Godiva (guess which dog she is) decided that she would revert back to her standard mode and she gracefully trotted off to another part of the park.  The Dane, not to be ignored, followed her and they seemed to have a quiet interlude under the small tree that overlooks Downtown.

Needless to say, both the guy who owns the Dane and myself were astonished.

“I have never seen him act that way with another dog,” he explained.  “Usually Max just bowls right over other dogs.  He NEVER is still!”

I just shook my head.  “Godiva NEVER plays with other dogs – I still can’t believe it!”

Just as we were trying to process what just happened, the two new friends calmly walked over to us, tongues hanging out and a joyful expression in both pairs of eyes.  There was no big announcement of  “look what I did.”  Instead, the attitude of both dogs was “that was fun, but now I am ready to go sleep.”

A total shift in behavior and then back to normal.

The dogs did not hide behind masks of social acceptance, trying to behave a certain way just to be part of the group.  Neither did they act differently than how God made them.  Each was true to himself and his breed, but both stepped out of their usual traits to learn more about the other.  Each dog was well grounded in who he was and what he was, but neither hesitated to try something new.

We should transition so easily and gracefully.