On Being One … And Of The Power Of Habits

Some habits, such as working out, meditating, etc., are beneficial. Others, such as smoking, gambling, etc., are harmful. Regardless of whether they’re beneficial or harmful, recent studies indicate that our actions and thoughts are 40% habits.[1] In other words, almost half of what we do and think is simply something we repeat over and over again without really thinking about it. For example, no doubt most of you can remember a day, if not every day, when you drove to work but, once you arrived, you couldn’t remember driving there. While you were off in dreamland, your mind and body automatically took you to where you were going. That’s because you had driven the same route hundreds, if not thousands, of times. Your body and subconscious knew what to do. Repetitive patterns happen without us thinking about them because if we had to think about most of our behavior, our brain could not function. Of course, our body functions mostly on automatic. How many of us think about blinking, breathing, keeping our balance while walking, etc.? These are habits. Repetitive patterns also happen in relationships.

No doubt most of us enter into romantic partnerships because we feel the need to love and be loved.  We feel the need to be complete. When we feel loved by someone, our sense of self-worth and self-esteem are momentarily uplifted. We feel that we are worthy. If you are like most people, you have been questioning your self-worth since you were a child. For most of us, we felt entitled to the love of our parents. Yet, invariably, at some point in our childhood, there came a moment where that love was withheld. Usually when we most needed it. This moment shattered our sense of self-worth. We began to question whether we were worthy of being loved. This thought was reinforced through repetition when some of our peers picked on us in school. For boys, it may have been because we weren’t picked first, or not at all, for the football or hockey team, or were made to feel nerdy. For girls, it may have been because you didn’t get a Valentine’s Day card, or you were made to feel ugly. As we grew up, this thought was repeated through exposure to the media, whether it was advertisements making us feel less than worthy unless we drank a particular beer, drove a particular car, wore a particular pair of shoes or jeans, or used a particular cell phone, etc.. Like most people who have jobs, your sense of self-worth was also attacked at work. The germ of a thought that you were unworthy was repeated enough that it became a habit. Like any habit, it became subconscious.

This sense of being unworthy of being loved drives, consciously or unconsciously, some of our most self-destructive behaviors. Most of us, if not all of us, have entered into and stayed with partnerships that did not serve our highest good. Some of us may still be in such partnership. Some of us drink to excess or do drugs, legal or illegal, or both. Mostly to forget that we feel unworthy. Some of us literally fight for this sense of worthiness by joining gangs and committing criminal acts of violence. Some of us overeat for, in doing so and becoming bigger, we not only lay a subconscious protective layer around us that insulates us from other people, but we can also blame our physique for our lack of a romantic partner. Some of us go on sexual binges in an effort to feel loved. As the song says: The things we do for love.

But habits that we do not like or that do not serve our highest good can be changed. Yes, it takes effort and focus, but you can be free of the shackles of feeling that you are not worthy and all the negative behavior (habits) associated with this belief. Ironically, changing a habit requires … well, a new habit. Let’s call it a ritual just to make a difference.  Habits actually form in a three-step process which is known as a ‘habit loop’ – a cue is followed by a behavior which is followed by a reward. The behavior is what we all associate with the habit, but what we need to recognize is that the entire process is important if we want to make significant changes.

Each of us has the ability (forget about will power) to change our thought patterns. We can do it in a myriad of ways. We can choose to watch a comedy when we feel sad. We can choose to work out, which has been proven to lift our mood. We can choose to listen to upbeat music, also proven to lift our mood. The most effective way is, no doubt, to treat ourselves with respect. Would you do to your best friend what you do to yourself? Would you talk to your best friend the way you talk to yourself? Would you feed your dog what you feed yourself? Most likely the answer is a resounding NO! We keep feeding our bodies so–called food that we know is harmful. We keep drinking until we throw up, throwing our entire system in chaos. We inject, smoke, swallow, and I don’t what else, drugs to see our world differently. We tell ourselves that we are stupid, fat, undesirable, unlovable, lonely, etc. Really?

When I was growing up, my father used to tell me never to put myself down as they were plenty of people waiting in line to do so. And, you know what? My father was right! Yet, there are moments when I too feel unworthy of being loved. Our surrounding environment is full of potential events and cues (most of them on electronic media) that can shatter our belief in ourselves. We can choose to use those cues to invalidate ourselves, or we can choose to ignore them and know – not just believe, but know – that we are worthy. For those of us who are spiritually inclined, we believe we are Source. For those of us who are religiously inclined, we believe we are children of God. Either way, she could only create beings who are worthy.

Start with being conscious of your thoughts and behavior. Listen to how you talk to yourself. If you have time, keep a journal where you write these self-talks down and you’ll be amazed. Even if you do it for only one (1) day, you’ll be amazed. Then create a ritual around yourself that enriches you and lets you know you are worthy! These can be simple such a weekly bubble bath with candles and soft music. Or setting a nice table with, again, candles, fine silverware and soft music. Be conscious of what you eat. Taste the texture of the food. Smell its aroma. Delight in nourishing your body. Or go for a run, or a bike ride, or a simple walk around the neighborhood. Watch your muscles move to the rhythm of your breath. Or grow a garden. Delight in feeling Mother Earth under your fingernails. Watch her nourish your plants and flowers and enjoy their growth. Life is full of miracles all around you that you let you know you are worthy. You just need to take the time to create a ritual that lets you believe it, and then know it.

Take that first step into self-love. What have you got to lose?

[1]       If you provide your email, I’ll be happy to provide you with a copy of: Habits – A Repeat Performance, Neal, D., Wood, W. and Quinn, J, Current Direction in Psychological Science, Duke University.

As always, in love – Jean-Pierre

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On Being One … And The Power Of Fear

Recently, I had the honor and pleasure of speaking with a young woman, let’s call her Helen, who was having difficulty dealing with an apparent lack of commitment from her boyfriend of many years. My role was to let her acknowledge the answers that were within her and that she was resisting. As usual, names, cities and other personal information have been changed.

Helen’s apparent issue had to do with the fact that her present boyfriend, Richard, was unwilling to commit to a long-term relationship, something that Helen longed for. To add drama to the equation, a long-time friend and former boyfriend of Helen, Mike, was still in the picture.

Helen and Mike had known each other since they were 19. They are now in the early and mid-30s. They were best of friends and, for a while, Helen had dated and been in love with Mike. They remained seemingly best of friends following the end of the relationship. So much so in fact that, not long ago, Mike took Helen to France and Italy. During the trip, Mike proposed to Helen. She turned him down explaining that time had passed, she’d moved on, and she no longer was in love with Mike. Moreover, as Mike knew, she was now dating and in love with Richard who is also in his mid-30s. Unfortunately, while Helen wanted a long-term commitment with Richard, he was unwilling to commit but kept her on the hook by telling her that he just needed to work through some issues and it was just a matter of time. To add drama to the equation, Richard had cheated on Helen with his ex-girlfriend … Hmmmm!

In any event, Helen was confused. She loved Richard but wasn’t sure if she should wait. She wasn’t even sure if Richard was the man she should commit to. Knowing that I guide women to understand how men generally think and act, Helen called wanting to know what Richard was thinking and what to do. I asked Helen a few questions: “Are you in love with him?” “What does ‘love’ mean to you?” “How do you know when you’re ‘in love’?” “Why do you love Richard?” and things of that nature to get the full background of the story and to know how Helen thinks. From then it was easy to ask “What would you tell your best girlfriend?” I was not surprised to hear “You need to leave.” Of course, I asked why she would give that advice. She knew, and because she’d known for a while, it was easy for her to give me the reasons.

Helen is a drop-gorgeous woman. She’s intelligent, well-educated, well-read and has traveled widely. She’s open-minded and has no trouble having men ask her out. And while she has no trouble identifying the qualities she seeks in her partner (most of us don’t), she has trouble applying them (most of us do). Like most good-looking women, she lacks a certain level of self-esteem. Like most us who are exposed to the media and believe the message that we are unworthy (unless we buy their products), she fears she will never be loved. But she is an open-hearted, loving and caring woman and in the end, I simply asked: “Don’t you deserve the same?” She, like all of us, had known the answer all along but her fears kept her in the relationship. Once she acknowledged the “answers” that had been within her, she told me she felt the weight lift off her shoulders.

We talked for a while longer about what this relationship had mirrored in her (the subject of another blog post) and the opportunities the end of this relationship provided her for self-growth (the subject of yet another blog post). I also took the time to guide her in ending the relationship “properly” since men and women tend to communicate this in very different ways, as well as dealing with Richard’s likely reaction.

I followed up with Helen a few days later and her voice had a lightness to it. She knew she had made the wise decision for her. She was thankful that I had guided her to take the time to reflect upon what the relationship had mirrored in her. She talked with a new confidence in her self-worth.

I reminded her that the answers and the guidance had been with her the whole time. I was glad to have been the key she had used to open the door to them.

As usual, I welcome all comments and feedback. With love, wishing you much laughter and giggles in your day, Jean-Pierre

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On Being One … And The Power Of Mis-Communication

Life is abundant with examples of mis-communication between men and women and how they lead to, let’s say, less than desirable results. I have many examples to draw from, both in my personal life and that of friends and clients. However, if an image is worth a thousand words, than a short film must be … well, priceless. I came across this short film by Wong Fu Productions that I believe ideally presents the issue of mis-communication between men and women. While most of us will no doubt laugh, it is because most of us have lived this scenario, or a reasonable simile of it, and it makes us uncomfortable (one of the reasons we laugh is to release tension at something we find unpleasant or uncomfortable).

I hope you take the time to reflect upon what it can teach.

As always, I welcome your comments, Jean-Pierre

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PS WongFu Productions was started by UC San Diego students and is now an independent production company. I find their videos hilarious but also deeply inspiring on the subject of how men and women mis-communicate. Other than liking them, I have no association with them.

On Being One … And The Power Of The Promise Of Romance

It seems that, much as we dream of romantic love, the world is no longer a romantic place. What with the hustle and bustle, who can make time? What with working overtime just to keep your job so you can pay for that new BMW, who has the leisure? What with catching the latest football, baseball or hockey game, who can focus? What with worrying about far away wars, politics dividing us, and fear of another financial crisis, who can stop running long enough? What with the gender, race and class warfare, who can walk across the divide?

Yet, a few of us still hold love in our hearts. A few of us still smile for no reason. A few of us still see Spirit in a rainbow, the roar of the surf, the clouds shaped like animals, and even the people rushing by. A few of us still open doors, still pull out chairs, still walk on the outside of the sidewalk. A few of us still send flowers just because we thought of you, still text you just to say “hi”, still think of you throughout the day. A few of us still dream. And therein lies the promise.

In the end, perhaps being romantic is an expression of self-love and self-respect.

It’s one thing to fall in love. It’s another to feel someone else fall in love with you, and to feel a responsibility toward that love. – Every Day, D. Levitan

As always, I welcome your feedback and comments and hope you fall in love with yourself – Jean-Pierre

You can now follow me on HeartWhisper