Challenge of the Year: How a Single, Scary Goal Shaped my 2016 – And Possibly Years To Come.

Recently a few friends and I completed the Spartan Trifecta: three obstacle races of varying length and difficulty in one calendar year, all on off-road courses with varying terrain and elevation:

  • Sprint: 5+km, 20-23 obstacles, 2800 meters above sea level
  • Super: 13km, 24-29 obstacles, 2800 m.a.s.l.
  • Beast: 21km (half marathon), 30-35 obstacles, 1850 m.a.s.l.

The Trifecta has been the greatest physical challenge I’ve ever faced, and I’m a seasoned mountaineer. The goal was set inadvertently in January at a fireside party. Some of us guys & gals had already run a few Sprints, and with us was someone who, we found out that night, had already run a Beast. With eyes wide open and sparks flying, we decided we’d all go for the Trifecta this year. We’d never attempted it before, and it was a scary proposal, but we made the pact that night that before the end of the year we would complete all three races. I almost shit my pants then – and continually during the remaining 11 months.

If you don’t know what a Spartan Race is, watch the trailer here.
spartan-race-banner-f1
Less than two years ago just the thought of attempting a Beast made me cringe with awe. “Who the hell actually runs a Beast?!?”,  I’d think to myself. It was certainly not something I’d ever be able to do. I wasn’t a runner. I didn’t believe I had the discipline to stick to the required training. Most competitors are 10-20 years younger than me – and I was already past 40. How on Earth would I be able to do this?

Nonetheless, I accepted, and my world began to change right there & then.
Long story short(ish), here’s how this challenge took shape:

WHAT IT TOOK:

* First and foremost: accepting a BIG challenge that scared me and was aligned with my true desires.
Both of these factors were essential.
Had the goal been big and scary but not something I was excited about completing (“have to” vs. “want to”), it would have lost steam eventually and fallen by the wayside.
Had it been exciting but not big enough to scare me, I may have completed it but without much growth at all.
Both factors had to be in place for it to be a worthy undertaking.

* Resuming training. I had not run nor trained my strength rigorously for a few months, so I had to get started again. The first couple of weeks are always the most difficult and painful- and the most crucial. It is by enduring through this discomfort in body and mind that a new level is reached. I had to push through my discomfort if I was to get anywhere near those finish lines.

* Rearranging my activities and taking non-essentials out of my life, or at least decreasing them to a minimum so I’d have enough time and energy to dedicate to the training. This meant spending much less time on Facebook and online browsing, being aware of time passing as I went about my day, declining certain invitations, etc. This is one of the biggest benefits I reap from enrolling in these races and scheduling challenging mountain summits. It puts my Big Picture in perspective. Granted, some activities are harder to let go of than others (like meeting friends), but you know a late night with alcohol and inappropriate food will not get you through the race.

* My first-ever appointment with a nutritionist. I had always kept decent nutritional habits but thought this triad of races would require help from a pro. This required me to set aside my ego and accept guidance from someone who knows more than I do. It really helped, even now that the races are done.

* Continuous discipline derived from determination to “not die” during any of the Trifecta races. As with any endeavor, this was key. This meant that on a day scheduled for running I was going to run, and on a strength/agility day I was going to do just that. No matter if it was raining. No matter the cold weather. No matter if I would have rather laid down and watched Dexter. I would either have results or an excuse for not having them, and the latter was not an option.
That said, see the next point.

* Fine-tuning the relationship between me, my body, and my mind. This, as I’ve experienced before in mountaineering, was also key – and a rather complex process to master. This is when the needs of the body actually supersede one’s plan to train it (reality vs. the mind’s interpretation of it, respectively). On certain training days I’d get home tired after work and feel the need for rest – and face the difficult choice to either train or stay in. The trick was to discern whether it was just a temporary glitch in my energy or an actual sign the body was giving me asking for a day off. There came times when I had to (reluctantly) let go of the plan (made by the mind) and do as the body asked. I’m glad I did when this was the case – and so was my body.

* Dealing with injury. During the Super at the end of April I injured a tendon on my wrist – what is generally known as DeQuervain’s syndrome. This was my first-ever “real” sports injury (not including countless cuts and bruises while BMX-ing and skateboarding as a youngster). Naturally, this was followed by:
“Maybe life’s telling me I’m too old for this shit.”
I won’t be able to do the Beast anymore.”
“Will this hand ever go back to normal?”
And so on…
So I had to re-commit to the original pact we had made and do what I had to do to be ready for that Beast at the end of November – regardless of what I thought about my hand.
I bought a brace (which I wore for over a month) to immobilize my thumb. I had to muster the humility to make an appointment with a physiotherapist. I purchased a book about tendon care and repair (which I highly recommend for any kind of tendon trouble). Weeks went by, and I wondered whether I’d be able to get past some obstacles at the Beast – climbing ropes, jumping over walls, carrying logs, flipping gigantic tires, crossing rope & PVC bridges by hanging from them with one’s hands…
Basically, I found myself torn between a fear-based reality and one inspired by what I desired.
I chose the latter – even when there was yet no physical evidence for it.

* Finding my own way. While preparing for my training I found schedules that barely left time for anything else and felt afraid that I may not be able to stick to something as demanding over many months.
As the races came and went I realized that I really didn’t need to train daily nor for as long. In fact, it was better that I didn’t. Through years of trial and error I’ve come to know my body improves most effectively by getting enough rest between workouts. Had I not listened to my body and instead stuck to a program without enough rest this would have been a huge detriment to my training and physical condition – and the risk of training injuries may have increased. On average I ended up training strength 1-2 times and running about twice per week, even for the Beast.
So essentially I learned to walk the line between what others recommend and what is actually right for me.
#TemetNosce

* Enrolling in other, “traditional” races (running only) to measure my progress and identify weaknesses. These stretched between 10 & 18 km.

* Variations in my training: to avoid boredom and repetitive-motion injuries. Sometimes I’d run on flat pavement, others on hilly gravel roads. For strength I’d sometimes do weights and body-weight exercises at home; other times I’d hang from exercise machines at the park. I would also complement my cardio with cycling on my commutes – in Mexico City traffic!

* Using the Elevation Training Mask.  This device covers your mouth and nose to allow only a minimal amount of air through – thus imitating the effects of high-altitude training. The result is a very strong and efficient cardiopulmonary system – at the cost of more strenuous runs and workouts. Training with this mask on can be uncomfortable to get used to – at first it feels like you’ll suffocate after two blocks – but the rewards are fast and undeniable. And you DO get used to it  😉
A shout-out to them for conceiving the best investment in fitness I’ve ever made. Without it my training, races, and hikes would certainly not be as successful as they are.

carli-training-mask

Ready for training! (w.Elevation Training Mask)

So, now that I can reflect on the training, mindset, and the races that have passed here are some of the LESSONS LEARNED (which I’m still assimilating):

* First and foremost:
I CAN GO MUCH FURTHER THAN MY FEAR TELLS ME I CAN.
This is one of the most important lessons anyone can learn, ever, about any endeavor.
READ IT AGAIN. SAY IT OUT LOUD. BURN IT INTO YOUR MIND AS YOUR MANTRA.

carli-meta-cheli

On fire! Crossing the finish line at the Sprint.

* The body is a magnificent bio-machine. While it does have limits, the human body will adjust to whatever is needed to complete almost any task – far beyond what the mind may initially think.

* Growth can be exponential. A startling discovery is that I trained less frequently and intensely for the Beast (21k) than for the Super (13k). My gains throughout the year built on themselves, so my training didn’t have to get harder to continue making gains. I just needed to train smart by staying aware of my self-body-mind relationship.
However, decline can also be exponential if you drop your guard. Keep yourself in focused motion and you’ll stay at the top of your game.

* Age is bullshit. It’s just a number. What matters is how you interpret your number. I’m now 43 and ended up running the Beast with two guys about 15 years younger than me – and I was frequently the one pulling them forward.
Never use age as an excuse not to attempt something you feel is right for you.

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Piece of cake: overcoming walls in the Super.

* When you accomplish a difficult goal you’re not the same person that set it. You’ve gone through a process that has pushed you through conscious effort toward growth, and your old “pants” will not fit anymore. Be ready to take on even bigger challenges now. You can – and should. But only if you want to keep growing  😉

* The pack will go farther and longer than the lone wolf. Find people with similar goals to support each other’s challenges. In this case there were four of us from the beginning, and four more joined the team in the months that followed. We supported each other with training and nutrition tips, articles, and encouragement. When our schedules permitted some of us trained together. On the day of each race we created “sub-teams” according to our different running speeds so that everyone would run alongside someone else.
Tasks like deep focus and analysis work well when we’re on our own, but having a team backing you up will make the road seem shorter and the load lighter.

team-beast-01_rt

Our team at the end of the Beast (minus some who were not there for the photo.) Some of us are wearing all 3 medals – Trifecta completed!

The curious thing is, the Trifecta ended up being not only a physical challenge, but an emotional, psychological, and spiritual one as well. This is why it is one of the proudest achievements of my entire life. Another big blessing I received from this challenge was the fear and awe I felt about each next race – we ran them from shortest to longest, in order, so every upcoming race was scary enough to keep me focused on it. This forced me to rearrange all parts of my life so that training and rest would take precedence if I wanted to finish at all, not to mention reduce the risk of injury. After all, the longest I had ever run in one go up until our commitment was 10km, and at which point I was 42 – 6 years older than the oldest of my teammates, 17 years older than the youngest.

So, going back to my initial question: “Who actually runs a Beast?!?”

The Spartan slogan “You’ll know at the finish line” sums up that answer. It is, I found out upon finishing the Beast, simply, someone who sets a scary goal that’s aligned with his true self and declares himself willing to go through hell and high water to achieve it. Someone willing to train when it’s cold or wet outside. To run that last lap when he’d rather go home. To do that extra pull-up when his arms are burning and body shaking, dangling from the bar like a worm on a hook. It was when I crossed the finish line at the Beast that the awareness of what this enormous challenge represented in my life came to me, all at once. It’s like a gate opened to a new reality where I suddenly felt clearer in mind, much more powerful at heart, and more aware and alive in spirit. All those months of focus and sweat paid off, and I deeply felt (still do) that I am a bigger human being than ever before.

Who runs a Beast Someone like me.
Someone who I had previously thought I wasn’t.

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Triumphant at the Trifecta!

Now, my point isn’t necessarily for you to go and enroll in a Spartan Race, although I can almost guarantee it will push you to grow. My point is that anyone who’s hungry and willing to grow can attain their next level by identifying their Big, Bad, Scary Goal and committing to it.
That’s all it takes to begin to open that new door for yourself.
Pick. Commit. Start.

So, in a nutshell, the crux of this post:
YOU CAN GO MUCH, MUCH FURTHER THAN THE STORY FEAR AND COMFORT TELL YOU YOU CAN. Always. The way will appear as you walk the path.

So find something that makes your heart beat with excitement, that you gotta Be, Do, or Have, that gives you the heebie-jeebies when thinking about how on Earth you’ll achieve it with nothing coming to mind.

Then SET THE GOAL. Don’t think. Thinking will keep you avoiding it and from growing into a stronger, more confident person. Set the goal, give it a date, and declare yourself willing to go through sweat, strain, and ridicule. These things don’t matter to anyone other than your ego. You’ll be summoning your future self who’s already gone through those motions to pull you on the way. And you’ll become that person more and more with every step you take on that course.

Your body will adjust.
Your mind will expand.
Your emotions will act up – and eventually handle much more.
And your spirit will grow in proportion to the perceived difficulty of the task.

Pick a big one. SET A GOAL THAT SCARES THE SHIT OUT OF YOU. One that would make you feel ecstatic if you had it and shake your head in dread of whether it’s even possible for you. And find a support network to help you through the difficult steps. The world will listen, and the assistance you need will arrive.
#notetoself

If you’re inspired to have an outstanding next year please share your goal in the comments below. I’d love to know what you’ll be facing!

Now get out there and BE outrageous in 2017.

AROOO!!!
AROOO!!!
AROOO!!!

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Viva María

Hoy despierta este blog luego de un largo silencio. Nada había tenido importancia suficiente como para sentarme a escribir, aunque temas no han faltado. Y es que hoy he chocado con una noticia que me ha dejado fuera de base.

Hoy me enteré que una ex-compañera de trabajo y ex-alumna de inglés fue secuestrada hace una semana, aquí, en Ciudad México. Entre varias versiones de la verdad que jamás se conocerá a “ciencia cierta” dicen que fue abducida cerca de las 9PM luego de tomar un taxi en Santa Fe. Que, después de llamar a su esposo para decirle que iba camino a casa, fue llevada a sacar dinero de uno o más cajeros automáticos. Que fue recluida mientras los (ir)responsables pedían el rescate por su liberación. Me enteré que una cantidad elevada en pesos (y euros) les fue entregada. Que sus familiares luego pasaron aparentes eternidades sin noticias – ni de ella, ni de sus secuestradores.

Y, por último, leí hoy en las noticias que su cuerpo fue encontrado en el Estado de México. Que la asesinaron. Que la mataron – aún luego de cobrar su “recompensa”. Que el cuerpo que una vez la vistió fue encontrado en un depósito de aguas negras, nada más y nada menos que el 15 de septiembre – día en que celebramos la independencia del país. Día en que mexicanos y extranjeros por igual nos unimos para reafirmar el “quién”, “qué”, “desde y hacia dónde” y “para qué” de estar cada uno aquí. Día en que María, de nacionalidad española, debió estar en casa celebrando en compañía de su esposo y amistades la migración de ambos al país.

Viva México.
Así, sin exclamaciones.

Y viva María. Mujer, joven, de treinta y tantos. Saludable, inteligente, estudiante híper enfocada. Trabajadora implacable, atractiva y activa. María, una profesional que dejó atrás su país con la esperanza de construir una mejor vida en otros rumbos. María, una persona como yo.

Es difícil identificar y poner nombre a todas las emociones que siento ante esto, todas a la vez. Una orquesta en cacofonía de instrumentos aullando por la atención de un espectador que no logra escucharse ni a sí mismo ante consiguiente caos. Una vida destrozada por la maldad del ser humano. Hijueputas malparíos que la mataron, aún recibiendo su pinche pago.
Como bien se dice aquí, esto no es de Dios.

Hoy me dueles, México.
Más que nunca.
ME DUELES BIEN CABRÓN, MANO.

Y no puedo evitar pensar en tantas cosas. En la fugacidad de la vida: hoy estamos, y quizá hoy mismo ya no estaremos.

Pienso en la falta de conciencia en la que vivimos. En el caso omiso al respeto por la vida de otro ser humano – y sus allegados. Y no solo en casos extremos como este. También en decisiones “inofensivas” (según su ejecutor) como pasarse el semáforo en rojo o mentarle la madre a toda voz y con dedo erecto a quien le reclame.

Pienso en la impunidad. No solo en la de los políticos, sino, más importantemente, en la de cada ciudadano. En la falta de responsabilidad que presencio cada día en la ciudad – y la ausencia de disposición para aceptar y restituir falta propia.

“Mi hijo no sería capaz de hacer algo así, mentiros@.”
Y crece el niño. Y años después…
“No fui yo quien chocó fueron las pinchemil chelas ajajajaja no me culpen culeros écheme la mano poli no jejeje???!!!”

El problema no es el gobierno.
EL PROBLEMA SOMOS NOSOTROS.

La ruina del individuo, la ciudad y el país la crea quien comete el crimen, sí, pero siempre de la mano de su enajenado cómplice: quien lo ve y se queda callado.

para-que-triunfe-el-mal
Entonces, aparte de rumiar en lo doloroso y lo inútil, también tengo un lado práctico que quiere soluciones.

Pero, ¿qué hacer? 

No puedo convencer a un secuestrador de capacitarse para unirse a la fuerza laboral productiva del país. Ni si quiera puedo impedir que un conductor atraviese volando un semáforo rojo o invada una ciclovía porque “es que voy tarde”. Entonces, lo más básico que puedo imaginar es lo único que está bajo mi propio control: mi ejemplo.

¡ JA !
Lo más difícil en la vida.

Hacer lo que siento está bien – aunque vaya en contra del “qué dirán”. Escuchar mi voz interior susurrar mi Verdad por encima de los gritos de las engañosas superficialidades sociales. Decir lo que es menester escuchar – aunque queden ofendidos a mi alrededor (habla la experiencia, y aquí sigo, vivito y jodiendo).  Así también mido quién pertenece conmigo y quién ya no.

Y del otro lado de la moneda, estar dispuesto a recibir crítica y evaluar si hay algo que debo cambiar.

Cumplir mi palabra al darla, sin excusas – o no darla si no estoy seguro de cumplirla.

Decir NO cuando no estoy de acuerdo.

Si fallé, pedir disculpas y rectificar lo que sea posible.

Porque al actuar con rectitud genero un campo de fuerza que no solo me beneficia y protege, sino que proyecta vigor a quienes estén listos para también activar el suyo. Y ser consciente en cada momento de que, inevitablemente, si yo no lo hago bien, seguiremos todos mal.

Que este vacío que nos deja la partida prematura de María nos inspire a dejar nuestro legado a México, y al mundo. Que aunque ella no haya nacido aquí se propague aquí una ola de rectitud inquebrantable y valentía proactiva en su nombre. Que mi trasnochada poniendo estas palabras en orden no quede resagada en tu pantalla. Que cada uno de quienes aún permanecemos tengamos suficiente agudeza de observación para notar lo que no “cuadra” y la fuerza de pelotas para no quedarnos callados, porque el silencio del supuesto hombre bueno es la mejor arma del hombre malo.

Que viva María.
Que viva México.

Ya basta del silencio.
Ya basta de hacernos los pendejos, México, porque muy adentro sabemos que no lo somos. Y no merecemos menos que darnos a nosotros mismos lo mejor de nosotros mismos.
Aunque nos aterre.
Aunque nos amenacen.
Aunque nos pinches secuestren y nos maten, carajo.

Ponte de pie, México. Coño.
Es hora, hace rato ya.

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Chekea el resto del blog. It’s bilingual. Lo puse aquí con la intención de que te haga pensar en lo importante. O más aún, que te incite a actuar diferente.
Y si te gusta, comparte. Sin miedo. El Feis y Chwirer no son solo pa postear gifs de gatos pendejos.
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My Inner Saboteur

We all have an inner saboteur. That little part of us that doesn’t want us to receive what we want in exchange for safety. But safety is a booby prize – fool’s gold. We want what we want, not safety!  But that’s what we get when we live through our saboteur. Safety and emptiness.

Just last night I identified a very important saboteur of mine, one that has had me dodging a lot of miracles for years. That little guy is self-righteousness. Let me explain:

In recent years, whenever there’s been something that I’ve really wanted, regardless of the topic, a “movie” would play in my head about how it would turn out with something or someone blocking me from getting the thing done or receiving what it was I had in mind. The “film” would then show me how I’d confront the person or situation so that I could set them right for their lack of consideration toward me, their irresponsibility regarding that which I wanted. Go figure!  My ego would then feel a “faux” satisfaction from teaching them a lesson, them wrongdoers!  After the fake satisfaction was real enough – a temporary dissipation of the fear energy that had not turned into directed action – the movie in my mind would move on to another topic, oblivious to what it had made me miss.

The perceived benefit was that I was exercising – in my mind only – my ability to communicate my frustration and to feel vindicated from the evil “they” had bestowed upon me.

The problem – and most important aspect – of this dynamic is:
I STILL DIDN’T HAVE WHAT I WANTED!

An even deeper aspect of this problem is that sometimes my ego would make me the enemy. When I had myself to blame for screwing up I’d send myself to where I’d be as far as possible from seeing what I wanted, not to mention receiving it.  The ego won’t blame itself, of course, and someone must pay, so I, the real Self, had to be punished for getting in my way.

Now I realize that instead of working toward my intention, my mind has been keeping me “safe” from the possibility of failure by not doing anything about it, and feeding me an illusion of actually having done something. And it’s only that: an illusion.

Knowing this I can now cut out the middle man, and go directly into working on my manifestation. Now I know that whenever my “mind movie” goes into “protect Carli from frustration” mode there’s really something there for me to do about what I want. I can now turn off its previously automatic switch and redirect my energy toward creating my desired result – like writing this blog post, for example. I can stop looking for the fall guy, as there is nobody there. It’s only myself!  I can starve the parasite of self-righteousness in exchange for living into the best version of my life.

What is your main saboteur?  Which part of you gets in the way of living the way you want?  Do you blame others?  Yourself?  Who’s the usual culprit for you not having what you want?  Take a moment to observe your patterns of failure or inaction and identify what keeps you away from your desired manifestations and feelings. Reflect on how you can redirect your focus and what you can do now from an unbridled point of view. Then go for it!

Comment below, I’d love to know your insights!

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Ve tu Vida como Fotógrafo: Reenfoca y Reencuadra

Gracias a los avances tecnológicos de la última década por fin hemos podido familiarizarnos con un objeto que antes nos había parecido místico e indescifrable: la cámara fotográfica. No importa cuán bien la sepamos manejar, la misma fácilmente nos permite compartir experiencias e inmortalizar momentos importantes. El impacto de cada imagen lo produce la combinación de elementos que presentan la foto tal como la vemos: con lo que muestra y sin lo que no. Dos amantes bajo una palmera; un bebé coloreando una pared; un paisaje montés al atardecer bajo un cielo sin nubes.

La irrepetibilidad de cada imagen depende de muchos factores: cualidades y posición del sujeto, iluminación, distancia a la cámara, área de enfoque, qué se está incluyendo en el cuadro, qué se excluye…  Al decidir todos estos elementos – ya sea a propósito o inconscientemente – el fotógrafo plasma lo que tiene en frente en una imagen única.

Al llegar la imagen al observador esta evoca una emoción, procura reflexión. Presenciar una fotografía es adentrarnos en su mundo, sumergirnos en la historia que nos cuenta. Y siendo única, cada foto provoca lo que sólo ella puede en quien la observa: una sonrisa, lágrimas, disgusto… o indiferencia. Hay fotos que nos gustan y otras que no. Hay las que reflejan lo que nos atrae, y las que nos muestran aquello que preferiríamos no ver.

De manera muy similar, cada situación que vivimos la creamos a través de nuestro enfoque y encuadre: desde un punto de vista que nos “pinta” el panorama que presenciamos. Este incluye lo que percibimos y excluye cualquier otro elemento que no sea “visible” o posible desde ese punto de vista. Y cada punto de vista lo escogemos nosotros mismos – ya sea consciente o inconscientemente. Desde ahí nos proyectamos lo que presenciamos, lo que llamamos “realidad”.

Saber este concepto como fotógrafo profesional y haberlo aplicado como coach en mi propia vida me ha ayudado a mejorar cómo percibo varias situaciones difíciles.  Pero no tienes que ser un pro en la foto para aplicar estas ideas. Cuida en qué estás enfocando tu atención, en especial cuando sientas emociones “negativas”. Observa cómo estás “encuadrando” la situación y qué resultado te está provocando (tristeza, impotencia, culpar a otro, etc.).  Entonces podrás cambiar tu punto de vista – igual que un fotógrafo mueve su cámara – a un lugar que presente solución, o al menos sensaciones más a tono con lo que preferirías ver y sentir.

Recuerda que quien único pinta las circunstancias de tu vida de la manera que las percibes eres tú, de acuerdo a cómo diriges la “cámara” de tu percepción.

Cambia tu enfoque. Dale la vuelta. Reencuadra hacia otros factores o personajes. Decide qué incluir y qué excluir en tus consideraciones. Usa el “zoom” hacia adentro (para ver mejor los detalles) o hacia afuera (para apreciar mejor los grandes rasgos del panorama). En fin, modifica la manera en que estás usando tu “cámara” para producir una experiencia más parecida a la situación ideal. Imagina cómo quisieras presenciar ese momento y créalo aspecto por aspecto, reencuadrando, quitando y poniendo factores según sea necesario.

Practica esto en cada situación y área de tu vida para trascender las experiencias que no te han servido. Así comenzarás a “fotografiar” tu realidad de la manera que te quieres sentir al respecto. Enfócate en aquello que quieres y excluye lo que no te conviene.

¡Enfócate y disfruta de tu nueva imagen!

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Checa mi próximo taller “CREER PARA CREAR” este sábado 7 de septiembre 2013. Detalles aquí.

Y si estás list@ para redirigir el rumbo de tu vida, haz click aquí para enviarme un correo. Agendaremos una sesión exploratoria y definirás exactamente qué quieres. De ahí descubriremos los siguientes pasos hacia tu transformación. ¡Me encantaría ayudarte en tu jornada!

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¿Inquietudes? ¿Preguntas? ¿Comentarios?
Déjamelos aquí abajo.

∞ Universe of Infinite Evidence ∞

It’s a pretty big place we live in, this Universe. In fact, it’s the largest thing/event in the 3D (space/time) construct. It surrounds us and is in us. And even though it operates according to Universal Laws, it also obliges our thoughts like a computer obeys the programs running on it.

But if the Universe responds to what we think about, what makes it so mysterious?  How come it seems so random and at the same time shows such coherence?  Here’s an analogy that can help us understand how our reality is projected to us based on what we focus on:

Imagine the Universe as a gigantic warehouse where all possibilities are held. Every perception, idea, feeling, situation, person, and object is found in its infinite database. It’s all-encompassing: everything we ever wanted to experience can be found somewhere in this enormous cosmic goop.

Now imagine that as long as there is no observer this warehouse remains completely dark. Its contents are kept there, unseen, unless they are shined upon by a spot of light. The Universe functions on the concept that something exists only insofar as there is an observer focusing its attention on it. Only then can anything come to life, become “real”. Looking at, or focusing on something is what makes it “real” to its observer. And when no one is looking, it goes back to the nothingness whence it emerged.

So then, what or who can shed light on all this potential richness?  Only an entity with the gift of awareness… such as You. At any given moment you are retrieving data from this endless field by merely observing – that is your beam of light. However, you are not a mere spectator when you direct your attention. By focusing on something you define it The data you retrieve take whatever form your thoughts instruct it to. And the way your thoughts shape it into what we call physical manifestations depends to a large degree on what you believe is possible. In other words, whatever you think about and believe to be true or possible gets taken by the Universe as an order to fetch it for you – whether it is something you want or something you don’t. When you shine your awareness on an item in this endless warehouse, that wave of  endless possibilities gets collapsed into a particle of existence – its potentiality gets “condensed” into matter and becomes “real” in your experience (whether imagined or “real”).

Great, but what does all this have to do with me?

Look around in your life right now: the people that surround you, the food you eat, where you live, your health, your income, your internal state…  Everything you are experiencing in physical form is a residue of what you have been shining your light upon. You have created all of it by merely focusing your attention on and putting your energy into it, which has placed you on a path where only that can be observed. And this is true whether you like what you are experiencing or not. The Universe can only bring to you that which you have instructed it to show you by the power of your focus  – whether consciously or unconsciously.

So try this:
Practice observing how you’re observing. Find patterns of what aspects of life you habitually focus on. Does everyone appear annoying to you, or are they collaborators on this journey?  Is life a continuous struggle to catch up with payments and expectations, or is it the path on which you feel taken care of and able to express your true purpose?  How you view life is how it will be reflected back to you.

If there are situations in your life that you would rather do without, find the thoughts that describe them as you perceive them and question whether there are other ways to interpret them. As you begin to shift your focus, your spotlight will shine on aspects of life that were previously hidden from you. Your behavior will also begin to reflect your new paradigm, since your upgraded thoughts will begin to yield actions that are congruent with them. The more you practice experiencing life the way you want, the more life will reflect back to you the way you want to experience it.

Shine your spot toward the light and you’ll not only redeem what you truly want – you’ll also redeem yourself from hardship. The Universe will sooner or later reward you for your efforts, guaranteed.

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De acuerdo por fuera. Hirviendo por dentro.

Dices: “No, mi amorcito, como tú prefieras.”
Piensas: “Blah, otra vez me voy a perder la película que quiero ver hace un mes.”

Dices: “OK, seré doctor.”
Piensas: “Aaaggghhh, pero quisiera ser profesor de física. Bueno, no soy quién para romper la tradición de familia…”

Dices: “Sí, claro que sí.”
Piensas: “¿Con él?!? ¡Ni loca!”

Nos pasa igual a hombres y mujeres: ¿cuántas veces dices algo que no sientes o accedes a lo que no quieres hacer, sólo por no “verte mal” o por miedo a entrar en una discusión?  Estas son algunas de las veces en que te desconectas de ti mismo para caer en complacencia. Luego resientes al otro porque le estás acompañando en algo que de verdad no querías. Es su culpa, por supuesto, por arrastrarte a este limbo. Y te las va a pagar, de una manera u otra.

Así se te pasan preciados momentos con seres queridos: complaciendo, evitando conflictos… engañándolos. Y peor aun, engañándote a ti mism@. Caes en acuerdos indeseados antes de entrar en negociación. Desperdicias tiempo, energía y confianza. Generas resentimiento y remordimiento. Después de todo, es más cómodo evitar fricción que elegir y declarar lo que quieres.

Si ves cómo esto afecta tu vida y la de otros, cuestiona cada palabra antes de formarla en tu boca. Elige tus pensamientos y acuerdos según lo que sí quieres, no por evitar fricción. Cuando te topes con una proposición que en realidad no va contigo, di cortésmente que no. Puedes ofrecer alternativas – sin aferrarte a que accedan. O sencillamente pueden esperar hasta otra situación que convenga a ambas partes. Será mejor para ti y para los demás, pues ninguno estará jugando el papel de “obligado”.

La solución tampoco es que nunca cedas, sino que encuentres un balance entre lo que quieres y lo que estás dispuesto a dejar ir a cambio de la compañía o aprobación de otros. Pregúntate qué es más importante para ti en cada caso: dejar ir lo que quieres a cambio de esa compañía o aprobación, o rehusar la propuesta a cambio de hacer lo que sí quieres.

Si aún así se te hace difícil ponerte de acuerdo con quienes te rodean, considera:
* si estás siendo muy intolerante,
* si te convendría cambiar tu miedo al rechazo o a confrontaciones por aprender a negociar, y/o
* si debes cambiar de entorno y adoptar círculos sociales nuevos.

Observa tus palabras y tu proceso de decisión durante los próximos días, y nota si hay diferencias en tus relaciones y en tu estado interno. Lo más probable es que sentirás más poder sobre tí mism@ y tus situaciones.

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During an argument: A look at Acceptance vs. Understanding

“What you did isn’t right.”
“Well, I don’t see how you just don’t get it.”
“I’m tired of you doing this every time…”
“And I can’t stand you complaining about it…”

Oh, boy.

We’ve witnessed this many times: two mouths trying to push a point of view on deaf ears. It happens at work, at home, in traffic. While each tries to make their best effort to be understood, nothing gets through. Why?  Because both are paying more attention to proving they’re right than to arriving at a solution. But usually a solution doesn’t appear until each has understood the other’s point of view. In most cases it is then – and only then – that we accept whatever they’ve done and thus get closer to closing the issue. But if the ideal outcome of any argument is to reach a resolution that satisfies everyone involved, why is it such a struggle sometimes?  Here’s an important distinction:

Understanding is a result of intellectual integration, and often not really attainable until all the facts are laid out in a way that “makes sense” and pierces through our mental filters or limitations. It happens in the mind and is virtually automatic once all the necessary pieces fit. It’s not as much an effect of conscious will as it is mechanics of the mind. And contrary to common belief, understanding by itself does not actually dissipate an argument.

An overlooked step on the road to resolution is acceptance. It happens in spirit, from our True Self, beyond the mind. It is a choice. It needs no information, explanation, nor justification. One either chooses to accept, or not to, whether consciously or by default. We either accept and carry on with life, or continue to offer (internally or externally) justifications for being upset about what happened. It’s easier said than done, but it’s also as simple as that. We expect the other to understand and accept “the right point of view” – our own – and at times to even offer an apology for their “wrongdoing”. But all the while we are not willing to understand and accept them!  And we know where that leads.

We usually consider the two of these concepts to be just one, but knowing that they are separate gives us much more power. While we normally seek to make the other understand, what we really want is to end the conflict. Choosing to accept is what actually does the job, whether either gets to understand the other or not. Understanding is not a prerequisite for acceptance. Conscious acceptance makes the argument much lighter, saves everyone precious time and energy, and provides all those involved a safe platform on which to discuss their differences openly. It gets us more friends and pleasant experiences.

And here’s a cool tip: we can begin by accepting ourselves. Often we call ourselves stuff that we wouldn’t let anyone else even stammer under their breath. We can instead accept what we’ve done, realize that one way or another we got ourselves into the situation, and learn something new for next time rather than beat ourselves up for it.

“OK, so I did that. Maybe it really was stupid. But now I accept what I did and move on, having learned ______.”

Life gets lighter almost immediately. Again, it’s not necessarily easy, but it’s simple. The more we practice this the better we get at it, and the more automatic it becomes.

And, have you noticed?  By completely accepting someone’s behavior (including our own) as the best thing they could have done based on their view of the situation at that particular time, we are granting them (and ourselves) the freedom to be, which overlaps with one of the most freeing forces in the universe for those who practice it: forgiveness.
Acceptance of another or oneself is a form of forgiveness.

So keep this in mind whenever you find yourself in an argument. Remember that the main idea is to reach a solution, not to prove yourself right. Practice to seek to accept another – regardless of whether you understand – and observe what happens in your environment as well as inside you. You could be surprised at what can appear where a prolonged upset would have otherwise held the best of you.

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Thank you for reading. Please leave your thoughts below!
Carli | Your coach for a life that kicks ass

Curious about coaching with me? Email me here.

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