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.

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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.

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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.

You are not the solution

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!

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Forget What Is Impossible and Do It Anyway

“Aerodynamically, the bumble bee shouldn’t be able to fly, but the bumble bee doesn’t know it so it goes on flying anyway.” Mary Kay Ash

How often have you been discouraged from doing something because you knew it wasn’t possible?  “I can’t ask that girl out, she would never go out with me.”  “I can’t apply for that job, they would never hire somebody with my background.”  “I can’t go back to school, I’m not smart enough.”  I’m amazed by how often our certainty about what we can’t do keeps us from what’s really in our heart.  We have to ignore the rules and fly like the bumble bee.  Lets pretend we don’t know what is possible and maybe, just maybe do the impossible.

I know too much for my own good.  The downside of having a Ph.D. in an area of psychology, a passion for self help, and too much time for introspection, I know myself too well.  I think I know my limitations…  You might think you know yours also…  I’m challenging myself to forget what I think is possible.  I want to let go of everything I think is impossible.   I have wings but my “body” is too “big.”  No, I have wings for some reason, I’m going to jump!  Aerodynamically, I shouldn’t be able to “fly” and yet I know the feeling, I’ve had the experience once…  I was meant to fly.  So were you.

I shouldn’t be here.  I’m an addict.  I’m a failure.  I’m not loveable.  I’m not smart.  I’m not enough.  Despite all I think I know about myself, by some miracle, I’ve been able to fly.  I’ve been able to transcend what was possible and by some miracle become someone else.  As I let go of what I think is possible, I’ve been able to meet myself!   Like the bumble bee, I shouldn’t be able to fly, but I don’t believe it so I go about my day flying.

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Work Life Balance… Are You Joking?

“Don’t confuse having a career with having a life.” – Hillary Rodham Clinton

I am a coach and I don’t like to differentiate life coaching and business oriented coaching since I don’t see the two as separate.  I would say that most of my corporate clients struggle with problems in their personal life that affects their work, while many of my life-coaching clients struggle with problems at work that affects their personal life.  The coaching industry separates the two kinds of coaching by specifying life coach vs. business or executive coach.  I think this is consistent with the idea of work-life balance.  Work-life balance suggests that one’s personal life should be kept out of the workplace, and the employee is responsible for managing their personal life.  However, technology has given employers tools to keep employees busy all the time!  Work has intruded into our personal lives and taking work home is the unwritten rule to getting ahead in today’s job market.

Do we ever really achieve work-life balance?  In today’s economy aren’t we all asked to do more with less?  Less time, less money, less support, less people and yet we need to achieve more.  Many organizations promote a work-life balance.  These are programs that encourage employees to make the most out of their time away from the office, but how can we?  The economy is tough and there are large numbers of talented employees in the job market.  This means employers have great talent to chose from and spend less time investing in their employees.  Trust me, as a training and development consultant, I’ve experienced when times get tough companies cut development training.  As a coach I advise my clients to personally invest in their own training.  Career minded professionals take work home with them, are responsible for their own professional development, all while trying to maintain a personal life.  Work-life balance, are you kidding me?

I’m tired of the concept work-life balance.  This doesn’t speak to my generation.  We grew up and saw our parents work for companies that turned around and laid them off.  Those companies are doing the same to us!  Our feelings about this show… turnover rates of generation X and Y are high. Statistically today’s younger generation average 4 career changes and 10 employers by the age of 35. We don’t want work-life balance we want our life and we are learning to fit work into that equation.

My concept of life-leadership is a shift in paradigm from the idea of work-life balance.  Work life balance promotes separating personal and professional life.  If you work more than 50 hours a week (typical for many professionals) than there can really be no balance.  Life-leadership focuses on designing the life you want by finding meaning in your role at work.  More important, if you’re in a career transition it’s important to focus on what you want your work to look like then find a ways to focusing your efforts around developing a career where you can step into a leadership role.  In the event you find your life is your work and you love your leadership role in it, than work-life balance is a solution that may help.  However I find this is seldom the issue in most traditional roles at work.

Unfortunately for most, longer workweeks may be a reality of employment.  Work is an extension of our life.  When we hate work it’s hard not to affect our personal lives.  In today’s demanding job It is more important that when we work we are doing what we love.  Focus on the life you want to have and look for opportunities to step into a leadership role.

 

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All Choice is Made From Fear or Love.

“He who is not everyday conquering some fear has not learned the secret of life.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Fear is one hell of a thing… Fear has caused me to overcome the greatest of obstacles, and has caused me to fold under the smallest of tasks.  Fear led me to all I have in this life, most of which is regret.

In love, I walked away from it all.  In love, I dream of a new way of living.  In love, I started this blog.  In love, I want to be seen.  In love, I dare to follow my faith.  In love, I try to live each day of my life moving forward.  Every day I take even the smallest step toward hope; toward the life I was meant to live.

How do we take actions guided by love and not fear?  We don’t decide to wake up one day and live without fear.  We don’t wake up and decide to only live in love and hope.  Today, and for the past few days, I’ve struggled with fear.  I’m afraid to love.  I’m afraid to forgive myself for things I’ve done.  I’m afraid to let go of excuses.  I’m afraid of being alone.  I’m afraid I’ll one day have to abandon my dreams.  I’m afraid my life will fall apart again.  I’m afraid of hope…

What do I do?  Give up?  Push ahead?  A GREAT life is not for everyone.  Life is full of choices and I choose love.  But sometimes I get scared.  Sometimes I get frustrated, tired, angry, disappointed, heart-broken, rejected, humiliated, insulted, crapped on, etc.  That’s life!  I remind myself, with the support of people I love, I am confident that I can get through this… When confidence fails me I remind myself that with God’s grace I can achieve anything my heart desires.  God’s grace makes the fear tolerable.  Push through the fear.  Fear cannot overtake love and hope; Love and hope must be sacrificed to fear… Don’t surrender all that is possible in your life guided by what your heart tells you.  Live your life guided by love.

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Happy Mothers Day!

My Mom is the reason why I’m here.  Not because she gave birth to me, but because she was the only one who never gave up on me when my life was at its lowest point.  I struggled with depression for years.  My suffering affected my Mom as much as it did me.  She worried constantly.  She’d call and I wouldn’t answer, she’d knock on the door and I wouldn’t answer.  I’d snap at her and wished she’d leave me alone.  I wanted to feel better but I couldn’t.  I pushed away everyone that ever loved me and was successful in getting people to leave me alone, but my Mom never did.  I would have ended my life in a drug and alcohol fueled low, but despite a complete loss of mental health and control, the thought of what killing myself would do to her kept me hanging on.

My Mom saved me through years of severe depression.  She kept me hanging on, and for a long time was my only inspiration to keep fighting.  I love my Mom for all she’s done me.

How do repay her for all she’s done?  In IOU’s, I’m ashamed to say.  Why is it so hard to express love and appreciation… I think shame has a lot to do with it.  How do you repay someone who saves your life?  I don’t know how.  But I try, one day at a time, to not let my mind run out of control.  Not just for my sake but to honor all that my Mom has done for me.

I believe that the best way we can show love and appreciation for our Mom’s (and Dad’s) is to live a meaningful, GREAT LIFE.  I’m not the most successful person, but I hope my Mom is proud of the job that she did in raising me to be the man that I am today.  I’m very happy and wouldn’t change anything about my life as it is if I could go back.  I love my Mom for being there for me and helping me become who I am today.

 

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We Make A Choice To Be Happy

“The happiest of people don’t necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the most of everything that comes along their way.”

Is it strange that I feel guilty that I feel happy when everything isn’t going well in my life?  Life has it’s ups and downs, but I try to focus on all that is wonderful about my life.  So like any other normal person I’m disappointed when a relationship doesn’t work out, or financially insecure (really scared) when a job opportunity falls through.  I don’t let it get me down.  I simply choose to be happy.

I’m not superhuman.  I’m not always happy or optimistic.  In fact, I’m pretty pessimistic.  For a time in my life I was really negative.  I think it repelled people.  I soon had nobody to hang out with or talk to.

In working to transform my life, I’ve done my best to be committed to happiness.  I’ll SAY IT AGAIN TO BE CLEAR; I AM COMMITTED TO HAPPINESS!  In my life I’ve been committed to my addiction; I’ve been committed to my recovery; I’ve been committed to beliefs that made me miserable; I’ve been committed to unhealthy relationships.  For the first time in my life I am committed to happiness.  I wake up every day with a commitment to be happy.

I know I’ll experience, like everyone else, the highs and lows of being human.  That is to be expected.  But I know that it is my choice, my commitment, to be happy.  Living the GREAT LIFE helps to support the joy I feel daily.  I hope that you will find the same happiness by adopting the principles outlined under the GREAT LIFE page.

 

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“Our Deepest Fear…”

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us most. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and famous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in all of us. And when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Marianne Williamson (Used by Nelson Mandela in his 1994 inaugural speech)
This is one of my favorite quotes filled with so much insight and wisdom.  There really isn’t anything I can say to expand on this.  I relate… I practice letting my light shine and in time hope it will attract those who are just as scared as I am to be “brilliant, gorgeous, talented…”  For today, I’m not letting my fear dictate who I am.  I have something GREAT to say and hope it will inspire others to do the same.