We Are Alone Until We Make Ourselves Known

“The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved.” – Mother Teresa of Calcutta

I think I’ve always felt this sense of loneliness.  I felt invisible or worse, I stuck out like a sore thumb… I never felt like I belonged. It’s a tough thing to feel so lonely… I never found a place or people that I truly connected to.  I’ve come close.  I’ve come across people in my life that have made me feel understood… not alone.  I’ve come across people who have played a huge part in saving my life and at times keep me company in my loneliness.  This is the toughest hurdle in transforming my life.  The urge to isolate, the fear of connecting with others is the story I most desire to change.  You can’t change a story without telling what it is and here is mine (part of it anyway…).

As a kid I loved the TV show The Incredible Hulk.  A lonely guy, David Banner, wandered from town to town and he’d meet people he felt close to.  Then something would happen and David would explode.  People he cared for would see the real him and in his shame he would leave town.  The end credits was the saddest part for me.  The closing scene during the end credits would show him hitchhiking and walking down the dirt side of the road.  A song played that made me empathize with him.  It was the loneliest song I ever heard and it made me sad because I knew that feeling of loneliness.  I once had a phone that played that song as the ringtone.  When my phone rang it made me feel so lonely!  I couldn’t see, someone was calling, someone who cared!  But the feeling of loneliness caused me to isolate and even when I wanted, I couldn’t pick up the phone.  I just seemed to always connect to the loneliness.

Somehow, in my mind, I began to equate the loneliness with the thought that I was unloved and unlovable.  I was shy and introverted and the thought of being unlovable fueled my isolation.  In fact I became so good at isolating I could do it in a crowd!

Like I said, this is just part of the story.  I assure you I have known a depth of loneliness that caused my pain and suffering.  I was convinced I was unlovable and I surrendered to the idea that I would always be alone.  This is the oldest most damaging part of my story and I’m telling a new story.  I am not alone when I allow myself to be known.

The key to ending loneliness is to allow yourself to be seen.  To be vulnerable…  For me, sometimes the most vulnerable step to ending loneliness is saying “hello, my name is Albert.”  Over the years I’ve learned to connect with people by being willing to be vulnerable.  I learned to be interested.  I’ve made myself known as someone who is a good listener, kind, compassionate… lovable.  I’ve learned to be lovable by learning to love others.

To most of you this blog topic may seem a bit elementary.  Ask yourself, when you feel lonely are you quick to say hello?  Do you offer an ear or a shoulder… do you allow yourself to be seen?




GREAT Day leads to a GREAT LIFE

 “Every day should pass as if it were to be our last.” – Publilius Syrus

My Commitment to living a GREAT LIFE starts with living a GREAT day every day.  I thought I’d share with you the writing I did today as I follow the GREAT day framework.  This is the short version I do when getting present for the day.

Gratitude: I am grateful for my life. I’m so grateful for the willingness to take responsibility to getting the life I want. I’m grateful that I have an education and that I’m talented and gifted in the work that I do.  I’m grateful for the clients that I have and the hundreds of people that I’ve been blessed to help. I’m grateful for the willingness to be seen.

Recognize Negativity:  I struggle with the fear that I will not be able to make ends meet if I don’t pick up business.  The negative thought is, I’m a financial failure.  I know that the thought is not true.  It is true that financially I need to earn more, and I will.  My financial situation is temporary.  Financially, spiritually, physically, and emotionally I am taken care of.  For today, that thought will not stop me.  I am financially responsible and I’m willing and doing whatever it takes to build my practice.

Excitement: I am living a GREAT LIFE.  A year from now I will be stronger, healthier, and happier moving toward the vision of my LIFE.  In time I will build my client list or find a job because I’m more willing than I’ve ever been to take responsibility for my life.  I love the man I’m becoming.

Action: It’s late in the day, and I’ve done a lot so far.  I spoke to clients and friends and have been of service to people struggling.  Later I will write a blog to post in the morning.  I will go to a meeting and get connected to where I was and where I know my life is headed.  I will go to my Mastering Relationships class with Mastin Kipp (Coach & Founder of thedailylove.com).

Thanks:  I’m thankful for my clean meals and my workout.  I’m thankful for my air mattress that manages to hold most of its air as I sleep through the night. I’m thankful for the phone calls I had today. For friends like Greg and Olivia… I’m thankful for my beautiful office. I’m thankful for my meetings. I’m thankful that I wasn’t alone. I’m thankful for the courage to show up and be open to learning about love at the workshop with Mastin Kipp.  God I’m thankful for the abundance and love and GREAT LIFE you have waiting for me.

Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

“Success means having the courage, the determination, and the will to become the person you believe you were meant to be.” – George Sheehan

I was in the park watching two brothers play.  The older brother was running with a ball and his little brother chased him.  The two were laughing but the look on the little brothers face had me mezmoried.  His concentration was on following his brothers each step.  He wasn’t trying to catch his brother or get the ball.  With each foot landing he looked focused on the pure joy of feeling his foot hit the ground.  He looked present and in each moment as it happened, he was happy and I was inspired.  He was doing what children do.  He was being himself.

As we grow older we sacrifice the joy of being present, and just being ourselves.  We put on masks to fit in.  We let go of who we are to live up to some expectation of who we should be.  But it’s never too late to become who we were meant to be.  It takes courage, vulnerability and commitment to push yourself outside of your comfort zone to find who you are and maybe return to childlike presence where each step we take is taken in pure joy of the moment.

Tonight I started a five week workshop with Mastin Kipp (author of thedailylove.com).  The workshop titled Mastering Your Relationships started with 30 minutes of Kundalini Yoga.  Why did I take the course?  I’ve been closed off to love for many years.  I believe I was meant to be a GREAT dad and husband.  I was also inspired to practice what I preach.  I never tried yoga and I loved it!  It was really hard!  My body is aching!  I got so much out of the course and have 4 more meetings where I’ll be challenged to practice the lessons.  I’m really uncomfortable.  I’m having to look at aspects of myself that I need to change.  I’m challenged to practice behavior that is outside of my comfort zone.

Some of you might think that isn’t being in our comfort zone returning to childlike feeling of being present?  I guess it could be.  Ask yourself, is your comfort zone a safe place from who you believe you need to be?  Do you leave work and become another person?  Do you worry about maintaining a certain image around some of your friends?  It may feel good to be isolated in our own home where we can finally just be yourself, but it’s amazing to feel like you can be yourself wherever you go.  The courage to push yourself outside of your comfort zone more often comes with the opportunity to fining greater adventures that make you uncomfortable.  Who might you be if you practice the courage to be who you were meant to?

Let it Rain

“One already wet does not feel the rain.”  Turkish Proverb

I prepare these blogs the day before I post them.  It gives me an opportunity to be mindful of how I go about my day.  Perhaps the greatest gift of being able to write this blog is the daily practice of mindfulness of what it means to live a GREAT LIFE.  Today, I shared my story at a 12 step meeting.  Before walking into the building I sat in my car a little resentful and feeling like a failure.  I’m a little stressed about work opportunities that have dried up…  and for a moment wanted to blame my addiction and having to “waste” my time in meetings for my worry.  When I walked into the meeting hall I didn’t recognize anyone.  I smiled  at people but I felt disconnected and a little ashamed.  Not a minute after and the meeting secretary walked in and she was a friend.  She said she was happy to see me and excited to hear my story.  In that moment I knew I wasn’t alone.  When the meeting began I was overwhelmed with a feeling of joy that caused my body to tingle.

I can’t describe how good it makes me feel to connect to the story of who I was and embrace who I’ve become.  I’m not perfect.  I’m happy… when I choose to be.  I may stress out about the day to day responsibilities we all have but that’s no reason to not be happy.  Business is slow and finances are tight, but there’s more to life.  My work is not who I am, my things are not who I am, the people I choose to spend my time with are not who I am.  I am happy.  I am blessed.  I am mindful of my GREAT LIFE.  I am not perfect and have no desire to be.

So I shared my story today.   The short version is, I was once a worthless, unlovable, waste of space and I wanted to not feel my hurt and shame and often I hoped I’d die… today, I am blessed, I am happy, and I live a GREAT LIFE in service to others.  What else can you say to inspire a bunch of addict?  It is the story I’ve heard hundreds of people tell over the years; it is the story that saved my life.  I hope my story serves to inspire you to commit your life to one of happiness and service.  What more is there to say?  I’m not perfect.  Sometimes I feel like a fraud, a failure…  Maybe that’s true.  Maybe I’ll never be good enough… for someone else’s standards.

The best I can do is be vulnerable, honest, and open.  There is no better feeling than the complete absence of shame that open honesty gives me.  Honesty and vulnerability clear the path for mindfulness.  In openly speaking my truth, I was filled with an overwhelming sense of gratitude for all I’ve become.  I know that, while at times I might feel like a failure, I am always as happy as I choose to be.  Today, after sharing my story, I am reminded that I am already wet, I may feel the rain but that’s no reason not to dance.


Wisdom is Knowlege Articulated With Imagination…

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.  For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world and all there ever will be to know and understand.” – Albert Einstein

I love the idea that imagination is more important that knowledge, and I find it most useful when I apply this to my life.  As a Ph.D. in Organizational Psychology (it’s an applied area of psychology that usually focused on workplace psychology…), and an avid reader of self help and all things psychology related, I like to think I know human behavior.  This knowledge was the justification for trying to solve my own problems, diagnose myself, and create a forecast for what kind of life someone like me is capable of having.  I embraced knowledge and lived within it’s confines. Now that I’m set free, my imagination is causing me to question all I know.

While I feel betrayed by my knowledge I think devotion to one and not the other is a type of ignorance.   Ultimately what else does imagination and knowledge create but more questions.  Yet trying to figure it all out isn’t just impossible but it could drive a person crazy… at least this was my experience.  When I was in graduate school someone told me that people with a bachelors degree think they know everything; people with a masters degree don’t know anything; and people with a Ph.D. don’t know anything but they know neither does anybody else.  What a wonderful and terrifying experience to understand!  I think that knowledge creates is this understanding that what is true and what is possible is entirely up to the individual.  What is true and what is possible is my choice.

I think the more wise we become, knowledge is less important because what we know can only take us as far as where we know.  As we accept how small knowledge is compared to imagination, it leaves us with the wonder to explore what is truly possible.  Not just for us as individuals but for human experience.

I can honestly say from experience that knowledge without imagination is dangerous.  Let imagination guide the growth and development of your life and forget about what you think you know about yourself and the world around you.  Ultimately knowledge and imagination together create wisdom.   I strongly believe that wisdom is knowledge articulated with imagination so that it embraces the human experience and respects the individuals process of understanding. 

What I know only scratches the surface

God, Show Me How I Can Be Of Service Today

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” – Mahatma Gandhi

In my work in a 12 step program of recovery we are taught the importance of being of service to others.  I’d say the cause of my addictions and all my suffering was the result of self-serving obsession.  I was driven by money, sex, power, prestige and nothing was ever enough.  I was miserable.  I coped with my misery with vices that became addictions. When I surrendered to a program and started to heal I was bombarded by people who were where I was and extended their help to me.  I am here today because of the love, support and service others gave to me.  I am blessed at the opportunity to be of service to others.

When I came up with the GREAT acronym (Gratitude, Recognize Negativity, Excitement, Action, and Thanks) I was doing volunteer service at a homeless shelter in Santa Monica.  The workshop was titled How to Have a GREAT Day.  I loved doing the workshop for that audience.  I was inspired by the optimism of my participants.  Every time I ended a workshop as the participants exited the classroom they would smile and tell me “Have a great day.”  I couldn’t help but think of how wonderful my day had been by being able to serve them.

Today my GREAT framework has evolved and is the basis for a book that I hope to get published.  It is the model that I use in my coaching work and hope it will be the platform to do speaking engagements and workshops.  The model had transformed my life.  Today the vision for my life is to share what I’ve learned with others.   In my vision I hope to change the meaning of the word GREAT.  I want to teach people how to be GREAT; how to be a GREAT leader; how to be a GREAT parent; how to be a GREAT friend.  I want to teach people how to have a GREAT day, and by doing this I want people to look back on a GREAT LIFE.  I want people to help others be GREAT.  Maybe one day people will know me as that GREAT guy… long after I’m gone I want a GREAT LIFE to help my Nephews children and God willing my children and grandchildren live a GREAT LIFE.

I love my life and don’t take any aspect of it for granted.  Yes it could be better.  I could be dating the love of my life, I could be earning more money, I could be living in the home of my dreams.  But is there anything better than being of service to others?  My life is a blessing and a miracle.  My life has meaning as long as there is someone I could offer my time, some advice, a shoulder to cry on, an encouraging word, or even just a smile.  Service has saved my life.  The service others have offered me, and in my finding purpose to my life in serving others.

We Are Only As Sick As Our Secrets

“What is a man? A miserable pile of secrets” – Andre Mairaux

The root of self-sabotage, in my opinion, is in the guilt we have over the mistakes we’ve made.  I carry a lot of guilt.  If only I could save the ones I love. If only I could give them the things they deserve.  If only I could have kept them from getting hurt.  For years I carried the guilt and shame of not being good enough for the people I loved.  So I sabotaged everything good in my life.  I felt I didn’t deserve anything good in my life.

There are reasons I wasn’t good enough… I held secrets that rotted me from the inside out.   I never spoke of my guild or shame and hoped I could keep my secrets covered.  I was a liar… I was a bad person… I was a fraud.  I held onto my lies and guilt about them till they forced me to destroy everything good in my life.  Not until I was willing to tell my secrets and let go of the guild that came with them would I be able to recover.  I let my secrets go one by one and slowly I became a different person.  I was beginning to believe I was good enough and deserving of happiness.  I kept one secret and thought I’d go to the grave with it.

One secret has held me back from the life I truly want for myself… I told that secret to a dear friend tonight.  It occurred to me that I was holding on the secret so that one day I would let it destroy my life.  Maybe I was going through recovery, this journey, toward the life of my dreams to destroy it.  Like a child who spends hours building a castle in the sand ends the day by jumping through it.  Was I building a sand castle?  Would the guild of my secret cause me to destroy my life again?  I don’t know why I held on to the secret unless I intended it to kill me one day.

After my conversation with my friend I prayed, I meditated, I cried… I’ve started on a journey of self forgiveness that leads toward a long beautiful life.  At this moment, I am not scared…  My life, the one I’ve wanted, is the one I have now;  A life of honesty.  I have no more secrets left.  I am now, as God made me.  From this day forward, I am who I choose to become.  Thank you, my dear friend, for listening and accepting me for who I am and all I hope to be.

I hope that all who read this find the same safety to disclose the secrets that are rotting you.  I pray you let go of the past and start a new life.  It’s never too late to let go, forgive and experience the world from a new perspective.

The Next Step Is The First And Only Step

“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

The only step that matters is the next step that moves you toward a GREAT LIFE.  Thinking about everything that needs to be done to reach a goal is overwhelming.  Sometimes you need to let go of all the things that need to get done and focus on the step ahead of you.

About six years ago I set out to change my life.  At the time I knew I couldn’t do it alone so I got help.  My therapist got me thinking about the man I wanted to be.  I had this vision of what my life would be like six months into therapy… When I joined a 12 step program to address my addiction issues I had a vision of what my life would be like six months into recovery… Needless to say I fell short of the goals I had when I started therapy and my 12 step program, but I never gave up.  All that mattered is that I kept my focus on the next step.  My life is radically different than it was 6 years ago.  Each year was an improvement on the last and life just keeps getting better.

How have I been able to transform my life?  I live in the vision for my life and take action one step at a time, one day at a time.  When I set out to change my health, I focused on one meal at a time one day at time.  I decided on what to eat by imagining the man I wanted to be five years in the future.  I am today who I set out to become five years ago.  After five years, I have a regular meal routine that has given me a healthy body.  How do I eat today?  I imagine how the future healthy AND sexy Albert would eat!  If I think of all the work I have ahead of me, I may never start.  All that matters is the next step in front of me.

The toughest part about focusing on the next step is forgetting the last step and not being paralyzed by the thought of the second and third step.  All I need to worry about is the next step (clearly I can’t say it enough).  I don’t worry about not doing it perfectly, and maybe tomorrow I’ll have to repeat the step and do it better… the point is, I honor the process of accomplishing something from start to finish without cutting corners and by focusing on each step of the journey.  What is  so cool about focusing on the first step is, it’s always a first step.  The moment I take a step, I forget it.  Each step is a mountain I concurred one by one.  The next step, my first step is the only step and the last step that matters.  Every step I take is made in faith and when I occasionally look back I am struck by the miracle of how far I’ve come in my life.  Don’t worry about the whole journey you embark on in your life, just take that first step.

We are Angels with One Wing

“We are each of us angels with only one wing, and we can only fly by embracing each other” – Luciano De Crescenzo

I’m writing a book… When I tell friends what it’s about I get the same reaction; “You’re writing a self-help book?”  NO.  I don’t believe in self-help.  I believe the life you dream of is possible.  I believe all your heart desires can be achieved.  I don’t believe you can do it alone.  I don’t believe anyone who has achieved anything significant in life did so with the love and support from another.  I believe that dreams take flight with help of an angel.  Give up the fantasy of doing it all yourself.  We are all angels with one wing, embrace another angel and your dreams will take flight.

I am here today because of the angels that have come into my life.  I’m here today because I let go of any thought that I could transform my life on my own.  I refer to those who helped me as my angels because I see them as a blessing.  They are my teachers, my family, my friends, even the people I’ve been blessed to help.  Often my angels are people who come into my life for a short time.  They might even be strangers I don’t even talk to.  They are people who smile at me when I think nobody notices me.  They are sometimes kids I see playing in a park where I like to write.  They are the people who inspire me, people who are evidence of my GREAT LIFE.

Angels sometimes come and go, and at times I’m sad and disappointed to lose them, but most of the time I’m grateful for every moment I have with them.  God sends us angels to keep us on our path.  The most important lesson that my temporary angels teach me is that I can be an angel for someone else.  I believe I owe my life to those angels that have saved me.  How do you repay an angel for your life.  Your gift to another angel is to be an angel yourself.

Don’t Rely On Self Help. Get Support!

“The level of thinking that created the problem won’t create the solution.” Albert Einstein

I can’t transform my life without the support from friends, family, and even expert help when needed. I tried for years to figure out my problems. I studied psychology, read lot’s of self-help books… I couldn’t make change permanent. I was able to change for a while but over time, I always reverted back to old habits. I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t change my life. I don’t know why suicide became my only alternative. I wanted to kill myself before I was willing to ask for support.

Today my life is drastically different. I owe my life to people who are there for me.

I didn’t have friends to turn to for help… I pushed people out of my life and went into a deep depression and isolated for weeks/months/YEARS!!! I had 2 friends left; my best friend lived in Arizona and a friend from graduate school who I never saw.  I lived as a shut in and tried desperately to fix myself. I fantasized about getting better and dreamed of the day I would connect with old friends and they would praise me for how great I looked.  That day never came and years had passes.  My thinking that created all my problems would not find a solution.  I felt it ironic that with a Ph.D. in an area of psychology, I felt ashamed that I couldn’t figure it out and that I needed help. Today I feel shame that I held such an ignorant belief.  So I hit my bottom and finally asked for help.

When I started building my support team, I started with a therapist. She saved my life.  Then came fellows from a support group who became friends, then I gained the courage to ask family for help.  It’s was not easy but today if I feel myself unraveling, I can pick up the phone and reach out to a friend 24 hours a day!

Think about the kind of support team you want to have.  They say behind every great man is a woman, but behind every inspiring person is a GREAT support team.  Do you have support? You can.  You just have to be willing to let go of your desire to figure it all out yourself.  It’s not help. It’s support. We don’t ask others to do for us, we ask others to be there for us and to encourage us to do what we know is possible… with support!