Does your life suck?

Does your life suck? Maybe your teen has suggested that their life sucks and somehow you are responsible.  When something sucks, it’s saps your energy and undermines the quality of your life. It makes you feel small and sabotage’s your joy. It’s a big wake up call. It’s an invitation to do something different – not more of the same.

If your life sucks; if the life you are living on the outside doesn’t match who you are on the inside or if you’re hurting and feel powerless – here’s your roadmap out. The following 10 reasons will help you find your way through. Enjoy and laugh as you go.

Reason 1 – you give your power away

You give your power away when you make someone or something outside of you more important than what is inside of you. If you do not value who or what you are, you will seek to borrow worth from the outer world.

The words ‘authority’ and ‘authentic’ derive from the same root word, which signifies that the route to genuine power is realness. Real power is not power over others; it is power to be yourself. Real power does not compete; it finds a way to synchronize.

Reason 2 – you expected it to suck

If you settle for less than what you really want, you will get exactly that. As children we are taught many erroneous, limiting and debilitating beliefs. Then, without testing these limits, we go on as if they were true.

Form opinions on what you feel and know rather than what you hear. If you approach life with the belief that it sucks, it stands little chance to be wonderful. If you approach it with the expectation that good can come to you, it will. Demonstrate your power to choose rather than settle.

Reason 3 – you get fooled by appearances

We have been programmed to think looking good is more important than feeling good. To what lengths will you go to look good rather than feel good? You will have to decide whether you are here to please the world or your spirit; others demands or your delights; prove yourself or be yourself. Looking good doesn’t always lead to feeling good. Feeling good always leads to looking good. But the real test of self-love is to feel good no matter how you look.

Reason 4 – you waste your energy on things that suck

The reason you’re not where you want to be is that you were doing things you do not want to do. Such as wasting your energy on: activities you don’t enjoy, attention to things of little importance, people you are with for the wrong reasons, goals that cause anxiety and disbelief of your talent(s). Rather then designating a specific situation as your goal, aim for how you want to feel about it.

Before you climb the ladder of success, be sure it is leaning against the right wall. While it is said that we can attain anything we set our mind to, make sure you set it to something you want.

Reason 5 – you keep trying to prove yourself

When you live or work to prove yourself to others, you will never reach your goal. The disease to please is a prevalent one. Ask yourself if your motivation comes from Joy or duty. Is this your idea of someone else’s, practice saying yes only if it matches your inner choice.

Forget about proving yourself, and just be your self. People who do not understand you will not settle for any proof, and people who appreciate you do not need any proof. Who and what you are is self-evident. Explaining, justifying and defending are emotional quicksand; the more you try, the deeper you get sucked in.

Reason 6 – you say yes when you mean no

If your lips say yes when your heart says no, you are driving with your foot on the gas and the break at the same time. Do not settle for halfhearted living – be total. Your yes must be total, so must your no.

If you sell yourself out to get approval, you will miss what you really want: authenticity, passion and aliveness. When you say no to what does not match your intentions, you’re saying yes to what you really want and are one step closer to it.

When you resist saying no because you do not want to reject someone or hurt their feelings you actually hurt them more. We diminish others by regarding them as weak, and we affirm their strength when we communicate to them honestly. Do not underestimate the power and importance of your honest no.

Reason 7 – you think you have to do it all yourself

If you examine your responsibilities closely, you’ll discover it is not the universe that has piled too much on your plate – it’s you. You’re trying to hard. Independence is good, but if you are drowning in responsibilities – you have assumed more than your share.

Loneliness springs from the belief you must do it all yourself. Nobody knows how, has the time or even wants to do everything. When you allow others to assist you, you bestow a great gift to them. Accepting support is a sign of strength and maturity. Receiving help does not mean you are defective; it means you are a real person.

Reason 8 – You try to fix other people

If you ever feel motivated to fix someone, save your time. Nothing is more annoying than someone who tries to change or coerce you to their way of thinking. Rather than trying to change them, upgrade your vision. Ironically, when you regard them as whole, you are in a perfect position to influence them toward positive change. When you regard others as empowered souls rather than broken toys, they are much more likely to stand on their own and be happy.

Reason 9 – you starve your soul

If your soul is malnourished, nothing works. When it’s well fed, you feel great; your health is radiant; you have energy and enthusiasm; your relationships bring you deep reward; and whatever you touch turns to success. Whenever you recognize that your spirit is withering, stop and do whatever it takes to renew yourself. Get outdoors, take a walk, listen to music, watch a movie, or take a vacation. Anything you do to feel better will shift everything else. You can have vast material wealth and be terribly hungry spiritually. Learning to feed your soul is one of the most important lessons of a lifetime.

Reason 10 – you forgot to enjoy the ride

Resisting the past is as much a distraction as resisting the future, and equally self-sabotaging. There are two ways to relate to the past that will benefit you: 1) appreciate it and, 2) learn from it. If you regret the past, you overlook the gifts it has bestowed upon you. If you see yourself as a victim, you deny your rule as a powerful creator. If you feel guilty and believe you should have done otherwise, you are being too hard on yourself. You learn to be yourself by having experiences. Yes, it is important to learn from your victories and mistakes; just don’t dwell on them. Give yourself some credit for the strides you have made rather then the ones you have missed.

No place is worth going if you miss your life along the way. Set your goals and strive to achieve them, but remember that the process is as important as the product.

When you are able to give thanks for everything that has happened, you are free. Resistance to what was diminishes what is. You’re not a victim – you are a powerful creator. Make the changes in your life that will get you the results you want. Along the way, you might even fall in love with yourself. As you unravel the knots in your life and reduce the size of your ‘but’, you will experience a new sense of freedom and exhilaration.

This article was excerpted from the book Why Your Life Sucks (2002) by Alan H. Cohen.

Are your Expectations too High?

Screen Shot 2015 03 03 at 3.35.12 PM 300x49 Are your Expectations too High?The theme of this week’s blog is Schechter’s Equation for Life: S=R-E, or Satisfaction equals Reality minus Expectations. It tells us that for you to be satisfied, reality has to exceed your expectations. Simply put…when expectations are high, reality has to be higher still for you to be satisfied.

This leads us to discuss therapy and the idea of getting help. When crisis hits, people look to others for help: a church, a friend, a school program, or even a counselor. Even though many participants attend unwillingly, parents are still hopeful that these experts can and will help. After all, it is hard not to hold out high levels of hope for our children. We so desperately want to see growth and change that we are often willing to make great sacrifices to ensure the best care that we can find.

With these high investments, it is almost impossible not to have high expectations and believe that change is inevitable. Subtract those very high expectations from the reality that unmotivated teens struggle to create change in their lives, and Schechter’s Equation for Life tells us that, barring big changes, the intervention will result in negative satisfaction. So what might change? How can a counseling experience produce positive satisfaction?

The key is recognizing that, in Schechter’s Equation, satisfaction is affected by both reality and expectations. In this case, the teen is struggling with something real and tangible. So let’s focus on properly aligning expectations with what has the potential to be a difficult reality.

How do we do this? Start by acknowledging that the problem is a long-term issue. Say up front, “Attendance in this program alone is not going to fix the problem.” Go on to say, “Instead, this program is going to kick off a strategic planning process by addressing a fundamental question: Where are we?

Screen Shot 2015 03 03 at 3.39.03 PM1 300x207 Are your Expectations too High?The core of any strategic plan explores three basic questions: Where am I? Where do I want to be? How will I get there? Sounds simple, but it’s often not. Too often the strategic planning process gets derailed when we skip ahead to questions two and three without first truly understanding where we are.

It sure is easy to get lost when you don’t know where you are to begin with. When you visit a mall and look at the display map that highlights all the stores, the first thing you look for is the little sticker that says, “You Are Here.” Even if you know your destination beforehand, it’s hard to move forward in any logical way until you make this determination. Sadly, many parents simply want a counselor to get their teen to the exit of adulthood on the other side of the building. Without understanding the reality of their teen, the expectation of growth and health are almost unreasonable. Making assumptions about their current location and the destination will always lead to a teen becoming more lost, which leads to unsatisfied parents.

Unfortunately, as much as we might talk about our kids and believe we know them, most teens are not very open and maintain many secrets. With a lack of knowledge we tend to rely on assumptions and predictions from our own past, but these memories rarely provide much insight. As weird as it sounds, we might not know that much about them. Their reality and our understanding of their reality might be completely different. Without first addressing these knowledge gaps, any plans we might make will be doomed to fail.

Screen Shot 2015 03 03 at 3.38.44 PM 300x119 Are your Expectations too High?So as a first step, the primary focus of this year with your teen should be considering what information you need to know about them and develop a plan to collect it on a regular basis. Do this, and reality and expectations will be aligned, thus creating satisfaction.

What Do I Value?

soup girl Medium 257x300 What Do I Value?A group of university alumni, highly established in their careers, got together to visit an old professor. Conversation soon turned into complaints about stress in work and life. Offering his guests something to drink, the professor went to the kitchen and returned with a large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups — porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal, some plain looking, some expensive, some exquisite — telling them to help themselves to the coffee.

When all the students had a cup of coffee in hand, the professor said: “If you noticed, all the nice looking expensive cups were taken up, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress. Be assured that the cup itself, adds no quality to the coffee in most cases, just more expense and in some cases, it even hides what we drink.  What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup, but you consciously went for the best cups … and then began eyeing each other’s cups.

Now consider this: Family life is the coffee, and the jobs, money and position in society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain life, and the type of cup we have does not define, nor change the quality of the lives we live. Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee God has provided us.  Maybe it is time to spend a little more time and effort on the parts of our life that have meaning and connect us to those we love.