Archive for the 'Habits' Category

100 Things to do…

Posted by Holly Stokes on January 13th, 2015

Family Raft Trip“I wonder what this is” I thought as I clicked “100 things to do.” I was surprised to find it was a list I’d made in 2005 before I had graduated from Portland State University inspired by John Goddard, the adventurer.

But I had done it a little differently, I had started the list with things that I had already accomplished and was proud of: I’d learned French, lived in a foreign country and I was a white water raft guide. I smiled to myself as I looked at the list of what I had already done.

Many times we get so focused on the future, trudging onward, looking toward the next summit of achievement and don’t give ourselves credit for how far we’ve come.

As I reviewed the list, I found I could cross a few more off: write a book (actually two), graduate from college and travel to the Bahamas.

Some desires had changed, like getting my motorcycle license, but I think that was really about my ex boyfriend. I haven’t ruled it out, but it’s just not so important anymore.

I was surprised that so many of my desires had stayed the same.

There were only 79 things on the list, so I added a few more things: visit the Mayan pyramids, see Harry Potter Daigon Alley in Universal Studios and swim with the dolphins – just to name a few.

Some of these things may sound frivolous, I grant you that. But I remember a time when I had lost hope for dreaming. I remember when I had a bleak picture of the future and so I allow myself now to revel in possibilities because I know the value of dreaming.

Dreaming is the spice of life, it keeps us young. Even simple dreams have the power to spark something within us – hope. It can raise our spirits and encourage us to engage with life. And it doesn’t have to be grand adventures, our dreams can even be the small things.

No matter where you are in life– we still have a lot of living to do!

And although I haven’t achieved some things on the list that have been there for several years, I still keep room for the possibilities and I feel inspired by the future.

Everyone’s life path is different and our course is guided by the values that we hold dear. Looking back to my 20’s for many years my life was ruled by freedom and adventure. And now I find myself very content with a quieter life filled with purpose and mission.

Looking back on your life, I wonder how far you’ve come? What will you find out about yourself when you make a list of what you’ve already done and accomplished? You may be a superstar but just haven’t recognized it in yourself yet.

And keep in mind, that accomplishments are more than what we’ve done, they are also about who we are becoming. How have you changed and grown through life?

And looking forward into the new year, what possibilities do you see for yourself? What are the values running your life and charting your direction?

The Challenge: Write up your list of 100-ish things. Make the first part about what you’ve already accomplished that you’re proud of, write as many as you can, then write the month and the year, and next list what you still want to do. Then share three things you are proud of and three things you want to do in 2015 in the comments below.


Communication habits and family dynamics

Posted by Holly Stokes on December 24th, 2014

MiscommunicationAhh the holidays are all about getting together with family. A wonderful time of cherished traditions and time with our loved ones. And for some of us, family time can come with a downside.

I don’t know if this has happened to you, but do you have certain family members that just push your buttons?

During the holiday season, we spend more time with family and because of our history with each other, sometimes we get our buttons pushed (and sometimes we do some button pushing too).

I had a family member that I couldn’t seem to get along with. It didn’t seem to matter what he said or what I said, we would both jump into an argument over even the littlest of things.

And then one day I had a breakthrough. I stepped back and looked at how we were operating.

I saw that I had been seeing him as “full of himself,” and so I felt it my duty to contradict what he would say and take him down a peg. And then I saw his side and in his mind, he needed to be right or that would mean that he was a bad person and he just couldn’t face that. So for him, arguing and being right was a protection.

When he would say something, it went through my filter of, “here we go again, he’s always right” and I would snark back which triggered his buttons of belittlement and needing to be right and around we would go in a power struggle.

We weren’t having discussions, we were full out arguing. And neither side was being heard. Even a few times we resorted to personal attacks and so we both took offense and so we would carry that baggage into the next argument.

And we were both right in our own minds. And we were both stubbornly justified.

But that one day, while I was sweeping the floor, it just changed, like a light bulb turned on over my head and I saw him in a different light.

I saw him in the light of his struggle and contribution and I could appreciate him for who he was. Once I saw him differently, our whole dynamic changed, something just switched. I stopped taking offense and snipping back and I stopped being critical and held my tongue.

Over a few meetings the past animosities seemed to fade. He later told me, “you’re different, it’s like you’re not out to get me anymore.”

I still noticed snippy things to say, but as I let go of the need to make him see that he was wrong, I could just sit back and let him think and say what he would without needing to correct him. He could have his opinion and I could have mine.

And I started to find ways to express my opinions that weren’t antagonistic.

The power struggles ended and we haven’t fought in years.

If we look at what is triggering us in our family relationships, we can learn more about ourselves and how we are operating. When we examine our own mindset and look for our own part, we can take responsibility and be empowered to make a change.

With our family relationships it’s easy to get stuck in patterns and habits of communication and how we treat each other. We may have played certain roles in the past, the rescuer, the leader, the caretaker, the pleaser etc and sometimes we don’t give the people in our lives the chance to change roles.

And when we change, we invite others to change as well.

Recognize that they are doing the best with what they know.

Many people are stuck in their own minds, stuck in being right, stuck in being seen a certain way or stuck in playing a role. If they have patterns that push your buttons, it’s quite likely they don’t even know it and they are just operating out of their mental programs.

And when you feel triggered, what is that telling you? Usually it indicates a bad mental program that you’ve bought into at some level of awareness.

Looking at your family relationships this holiday season, what are your patterns and what are you thinking in the back of your mind with family members? What frame of mind might you need to shift?

It’s easy when we get together with family to assume that we know who they are and to be critical of their patterns. Just remember that at the core of it, underneath it all, we are all simply trying to do the best with what we know.

Wishing you all a happy healthy holiday season. May you let go of old regrets, old hurts and judgments and rekindle the goodness of your connections with your loved ones.

Leave your comments and experiences below of how a relationship changed for the better for you.