Your Questions About Work and Money
Ask Dr. Gayle
Books by the Author
21st Century Families
How to Create Your Ideal Workplace
The Teen Trip: The Complete Resource Guide
Editor, Everything You Need to Succeed After College
How to Survive Your Parents’ Divorce
The Religious Ideas of Harriet Beecher Stowe
Essential Energy Tools (also videos and CDs)
Editor, Women’s Culture
Editor, Women’s Culture in a New Era
Gayle Kimball, Ph. D, (University of California, Santa Barbara, Religious Studies), is the author of 20 books, mother, and Professor Emerita who teaches energy tools workshops in Japan, England, Canada, and the US. She directs Earth Haven: Center for Spiritual Enrichment. To empower her students, she teaches how to use visualization and meditation techniques, kinesiology exercises, and acupressure points for achieving goals. She created an “energy tools” package: a book, three videos and two CDs.
Email your comments and questions to
© Gayle Kimball, 2011
Table of Contents
Getting a Job
Co-Workers and Bosses
Q: I get confused about what decision to make, what action to take, so I’m kind of stuck. How can I get clearer?
A: Draw paths going through a forest, with no worries about your artistic abilities. Label the possible path. With colored pencils and without thinking, color each path a different color. First instruct your drawing hand that gold or yellow highlights the path that’s in your highest good, black or gray are paths that are not good for you, red stands for vitality, pink stands for heart and good feelings, green stands for a healing path, and blue for serenity. This way you’ll tap into the wisdom of your inner wisdom. Keep your priorities in mind.
Q: I want to do the grad school thing, but am so wishy-washy about what direction to follow. Teaching or something in the environmental field?
I also have been toying with the idea of a Holistic Health Practitioner program,
just afraid to commit to a change when I’m not sure where I’m headed. Arghh…
A: Make a list of what’s important to you in career, attaching descending points to indicate priorities. The opportunity to grow? Do good? Make money, have benefits and security? Location? A compatible workplace culture? Be compatible with child raising? Then list pros and cons of each of your three career options, attaching points. After you have a logical understanding of the positives and negatives, ask yourself how you feel in your heart. It’s important to take some action, such as taking a course in a field you’re considering, job shadowing, and talking with career counselors. Life is short.
Q: I have all kinds of ideas for what I’d like to do but get stuck, like I’m spinning my wheels. How can I get unstuck?
A: It’s like you’re on a high dive board and are thinking about so many possibilities you can’t launch yourself. It doesn’t work to repress a strong pattern, like over analyzing, so use it. Write a list of each of your possible desires. List pros and cons for each. Sleep on it and see what feels like the right thing to do. Take action, knowing that it doesn’t have to be perfect. What seems like a difficult direction can be a necessary step towards something better.
Q: I’d like to move forward in my career, make some major changes, but I’m just plain scared I’ll fail. What can I do?
A: Instead of leaping over a creek you want to cross, imagine sturdy flat stepping-stones and stepping slowly from one to the other, stopping to look around with an artist’s eyes. That is, take baby steps one at a time with a clear picture of your goal. Think of fears of failure in your past, how you coped, and what you learned from your mistakes. You survived. Acknowledge your fear, but take small daily actions anyway, knowing that you will gain confidence as you achieve results.
Q: I’m 29 and still working as a waitress in a boring job. How can I get motivated to change?
A: Check out the certificate offerings at the local community college. Maybe you’ll find a job skill that you wouldn’t have thought of on your own, like being a welder or blueprint maker. I’d also make an appointment with the college counselor to get ideas about how to get started in a training program.
Q: I’ve spent my life helping other people but I still haven’t graduated from college or focused on my goals. How can I wean myself from this pattern?
A: Read about co-dependency and consider joining a support group. Think about programming that you don’t deserve success, putdowns that come from your family or significant others. Remind yourself that you’re a person who deserves kindness and attention as much as any one else.
Q: I feel blocked, kind of hopeless, beaten and weepy about working on my master’s thesis.
A: Schedule regular time each day to work on it. Get feedback and suggestions from your professors. Think about the end results, your degree, presenting at a scholarly conference, publishing the final product in a journal or online and adding it to your job resume.
Q: I’m not sure what career I want, feel confused. What to do?
A: Make an appointment with a career counselor at the college near you. She or he can give you personality inventories like the Myers Briggs and career aptitude tests like the Strong Interest Inventory to give you more information.[i]
Ask about the emerging hot jobs and look on job search sites like Monster.com.[ii] Be sure and job shadow people in different fields of interest so you have a boots on the ground feel for a job.
Q: The last few years I’ve experienced dead ends and confusion about the right steps to take. How do I get on the right track?
A: The issue is how to tell which is the voice of inner wisdom, or the inner critic or inner child–a parental tape you copied unconsciously, or copying your close associates, and so on. To get to know your wise self, practice on small decisions, like which route to take when you drive, to see what the wise self feels like. You can use John Bradshaw’s technique of dialoguing with an inner personality by asking it to write a letter to you with your non-dominant hand. Ask for guidance before you to sleep to get deeper information than the conscious mind.
One way to focus is to visualize and to use affirmations. Here’s a “balloon” visualization to achieve your goals. I did the balloon visualization with a workshop for unexpected money and found $90 in a package of nylon stockings I bought at a second-hand thrift store. Then, I was walking on a beach in Tanzania and found new shilling bills washed up on the shore worth over $120.
Balloon Visualization To Achieve Goals
- Imagine a big balloon in front of you. Put the mental picture or words of what you want in the balloon, such as finding a lost shirt. Write “shirt” in the balloon with your imagination. Imagine your feelings and comments as you achieve the goal. Put today’s date in the balloon, so you’re working in the present, not projecting your goal into the future.
- Put a cord on the balloon down into the earth. Set your intention to release out of the balloon anything that gets in the way of your goal, including other people’s expectations for you. Make the balloon bigger to create more space for your goal.
- See the balloon filling up 100% with amusement, with smiles, tickles and laughter, thinking about the times you’ve laughed so hard with your friends no one could finish a sentence without cracking up again. Amusement and joy energize. Fill it next with 100% enthusiasm. You might see it as colored liquid or sparkles throughout the balloon.
Involve your senses. See your goal, hear yourself reacting to achieving it, feel the delight in your body, smell it and taste it. You might want to write out a short script, as for a film, describing the unfolding of the goal.
- Imagine a fairy godmother or a genie flying up to your balloon and using her wand to fill it with gold fairy dust or miracle dust. This is the fuel to get your balloon up into the air to get your goal, like charging a battery.
- Drop the cord off your balloon and turn it into a helium balloon. See it fly off to achieve your goal. Forget about it for now; let it go.
- Imagine a gauge like a thermometer in front of you, with numbers from 1 to 100. Ask yourself, “How OK is it with me to really achieve the goal? How much permission do I give myself to have it?” Take the first number you see light up on the gauge or that pops into your mind. If it’s not at 100, take out an imaginary scrubber and clean resistance off the gauge so it can move up 10% now. Move it up 10% each day until you reach 100. Do it gradually so you get used to the idea of really achieving the goal.
Once you’ve practiced the goal visualization, you can simplify to speed it up. Use it on small problems such as not being able to find your keys.
Q: [China] If I work very hard to do something, but I didn’t success, what should I do?
A: Get help from someone who can help you figure out what’s causing the problem. Let’s say you’re not doing well on math exams. Ask your teacher about getting individual help from a tutor or an older student. Also, sometimes we step on our own feet. Perhaps family members say, “Your older brother is the good student, you’re the artist,” and you believe that you can’t do well in math. Practice positive self-talk, telling yourself, “I do well on math because I ask for help until I understand it.”
Think about what success is for you, as it may be different from what other people want for you. To me, a successful adult has a job to support her or himself and family, is happy and lives a healthy lifestyle, does service for others, and continues to learn and grow in abilities—physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Some people define success as having a lot of money and fame, but there is no evidence that celebrities are happier. You hear about them having drug and alcohol problems, divorces, and suicides. Princess Diana married the future King of England, and was so unhappy she cut herself and binged and purged as a bulimic before she matured. Think of the drug problems of people like Britney Spears who had the court involved in the custody of her children.
Here’s what President Obama advised a Shanghai college student who asked him in 2009 about how to be successful:
Whatever field you go into, if you’re constantly asking new questions–Are there things that I could be doing differently? Are there new approaches to problems that nobody has thought of before?–those are usually the people who I think are able to rise about the rest. The people who I admire the most and are most successful, they’re not just thinking only about themselves but they’re also thinking about something larger than themselves, so they want to make a contribution to society.
Q: I’m used to an accelerated approach to life, always having a new challenge. I don’t know what to do next, now that I’ve established my job and learned about how to be a husband to my new wife.
A: An important secret of getting answers is to clearly ask the question. Do this before you go to sleep and ask for insights to bubble up to your conscious mind by the time you wake up. You can also ask trusted advisors for their perspectives. Listen to your inner guidance; this requires that you set aside quiet time to listen, as in meditation or prayer or a walk in nature. Let go and affirm you’ll get the right answer at the right time. Be OK now with relaxing and developing your creativity. See what it’s like to Be rather than Do all the time. It’s a good way to get to know yourself and to examine hurry sickness/addiction to adrenaline rush and busyness.
Q: I finally have a good job making good money, so I don’t have to worry about what happens if my car breaks down. I’m dealing with people all day, so when I come home I don’t want to interact with people, just read a novel. Is my job my life?
A: Do you live to work or work to live? Life is too short for the former. Dr. T. Barry Brazelton recommends not giving all your energy to work, holding back some intensity for your home. Use the commute home to separate from work. Listen to your favorite relaxing music. Plan something fun on the weekends. Ask yourself, “Who am I when I’m not at work? How do I want to evolve and develop myself?”
Visualize having a chest or box for work. When you leave the office, shut the lid on the box. Make sure your life box has enjoyable activities in it. You can also use your hands. With first finger and thumb, close up the workspace. Open your palm to receive life energy.
Q: I’m on a track team for my school. I’ve never won a meet although I’ve beaten every one of the other guys in other events. How can I win?
A: Instead of thinking of winning as putting yourself above the others and being conceited, think of it as fun and being an example to others of how to be successful. You can complement the other runners on their performance. Also, visualizations help focus your bodymind. Imagine a pulley connecting you to the finish line, pulling you faster, effortlessly. Athletes like Tiger Woods spend a lot of time mentally rehearsing their movements. Think about where you plateau in terms of your fastest time, and then use energy psychology like EFT to break through your performance ceiling.
Getting a Job
Q: I’m going to face a very important job interview soon, critical to my future. Any suggestions?
A: Think of it like dancing. If you focus on how you’re doing, your performance, you break the flow and feel awkward. Keep your attention on the other person, maintain eye contact, and think about her or his needs. As a question is being asked, ask yourself what does she or he really want to know and speak to that intent. Have answers prepared in advance about your strengths and weaknesses, what you have to offer the workplace, and any deficits in your training and experience.
Turn any deficit into a positive, as by saying “It’s true I don’t have a lot of experience, but I have a lot of energy to bring to the job and you’ll find me a quick learner.” Make sure you do your homework about the prospective employer, including the workplace culture. Research their values statement or credo so you can include their buzzwords in your answers. Visualize yourself feeling exhilarated at the end of the interview, proud of your performance. Prepare by videotaping yourself in a mock interview to become aware of distracting mannerisms and hand gestures and repeated filler words (“you know,” “umm”) and slang. Get feedback from a career counselor if possible.
Women especially need to make declarative statements rather than the questioning inflections used by subordinates. I’ve heard many young women introduce themselves, “My name is Heather?” Also watch for head cocking toward the shoulder, giggling, or a high voice tone that come across as girlish. Practice lowering your voice to a deeper register.
A survey of college career counselors ranked these attributes as most important to employers: being a team player, intelligence, professional demeanor, organizational skills, friendliness, ability to take orders, and a sense of humor. A survey of employers by the National Association of Colleges and Employers ranked ability to communicate, work experience, and motivation as the top three. Note: the average person changes jobs around 13 times.
*Job search sites: http://www.careerexperience.com (see advice section); joboptions.com; Vault.com; wetfeet.com; Hoovers.com; ask.com; Rileyguide.com; Cooljobs.com; Monster.com; Recruitersonline.com; Resumeblaster.com; obstar.org; advice: careerjournal.com
Software: Resumemaker (Individual Software Inc.) includes posting your resume on the Internet, job-search, and sample interview questions.
Free template: http://resumecompanion.com/?gclid=CNvS2t_lma0CFQR5hwodQRUiag
*Career choices: Richard Bolles. What Color is Your Parachute? Current edition.
Martha Finney & Deborah Dasch. Find Your Calling, Love Your Life.
Tom Peters’ Career Survival Guide. Houghton Mifflin Interactive software.
Marsha Sinetar. Do What You Love, the Money Will Follow.
How to Get a Job
- Determine your goals and priorities. Do you want a job that pays top dollars, brings you into contact with interesting people, provides training and experience, allows you to travel, or is in a small/large town? Be specific.
- Network with every resource possible: friends, family of friends, former professors, neighbors, job placement center, career counselors, the newspaper want ads, the Chamber of Commerce, government employment offices, office bulletin boards, Internet, trade journals and homepages, telephone book yellow pages, and private employment agencies. Look in reference books such as Standard and Poor’s Register, available in the library. Research small but rapidly growing companies, as discussed in INC. magazine’s yearly issue on that topic. Talk to employers who interest you even if they don’t have a current opening. Do your homework; research workplaces before submitting an application.
- Create an outstanding resume. Take time to do this carefully as it gets you in the door to a job interview where you can sell yourself in person. Include your name, address, and phone number at the top. Use subheadings such as (a) work experience and volunteer work (list in chronological order with the most recent job first, and include your job title and duties), (b) education and other skills that prepared you for the job, (c) a list of references (or state that they’re available upon request so you can alert the people they may be called), (d) personal (your interests, achievements, language skills, and hobbies).
Use bullet format rather than paragraphs. Use at least 12 point font. Make sure you have an editor check for spelling and grammar errors. Use action verbs rather than the passive voice. Leave adequate margins to make the layout pleasing to the reader’s eye. Have it laser printed. Use heavy bond white or cream-colored paper. See Greg Berryman’ and Susan Ireland’s The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Perfect Résumé, and http://www.JobStar.org.
Attach a brief cover letter summarizing how your skills match the job and requesting an interview. Don’t repeat your resume; include the position you’re applying for, what you know about the employer, and your key qualifications). Direct it to the specific person who is in a position to hire you. Change your resume to target different jobs you apply for.
Talk with employees to find out about the workplaces you’re considering, and do library research if possible (College Placement Annual, Business Periodicals Index, etc.). Read websites (including monster.com) and press releases. Do informational interviews to find out about various careers: Call and ask for 10 minutes to ask questions about that person’s job. They’ll usually be flattered.
Give the employer a reason to call you rather than hundreds of other applicants, and don’t provide any reason to immediately toss your application (as by not answering questions, messy writing, or no indication that you know something about their workplace).
Use the Internet. See Mark Mehler and Gerry Crispins’ Careerxroads: The Directory to the 500 Best Job, Resume and Career Management Sites on the World Wide Web, or Pam Dixon’s Job Searching Online for Dummies. A computer will scan resumes; print on white paper, using phrases from the job description as the computer looks for key words. (See www.myjobsearch.com)
- The key principle for an effective interview is preparation. Videotape practice interviews so you can see what works and doesn’t work for you. First do them in front of a mirror, then videotape a mock interview. Observe effective speakers. You may be given a case study or be asked to perform a task such as a writing sample. Some companies pre-screen over the phone or on video. Half of job prospects are eliminated in the first phone call, so practice!
Have answers prepared for these common questions: tell me about yourself, why should I hire you? What are your strengths/weaknesses? What salary do you expect (reply it’s negotiable)? Why do you want this job? What would your former employers say about you? What role do you take in a group project? How would you fit in our workplace culture? What’s an example of a good/bad decision you made recently? Answer a question directly and concisely, not talking for more than two minutes at a time. Visualize yourself doing great, take deep breaths from your belly, be aware of your posture, bring water, and think of the interviewer in underwear so as not to be intimidated. Focus on getting to know that person—rather than judging your own performance. Always send a thank you note soon after the interview.
Q: I’m starting a new job. How can I succeed and be promoted?
A: Once you have the job, Odette Pollar (owner of Time Management Systems) suggests: remove “it’s not my job” from your thinking, take responsibility, learn new skills, be flexible, think ahead, keep your cool, have a sense of humor and positive attitude, be assertive, and make your boss shine (email@example.com). Also, sell yourself, study the work culture, form information and support networks, cultivate mentors, practice effective communication skills, don’t talk about your personal problems, be pleasant to be around, and periodically check in with your boss for constructive criticism. Keep written copies of important agreements, even with nice people. Don’t get sucked into workaholism; make a list of “what I do” and “who I am” and make sure they are different.
Lona O’Connor. Top Ten Dumb Career Mistakes…and How to Avoid
See the career chapter in my Everything You Need to Know to
Succeed After College.
Q: I need to make oral presentations to groups in my job as a salesperson, but it petrifies me.
A: Many people name fear of public speaking as their number one fear. You might want to check out the Toastmasters organization that meets regularly to give people techniques and practice doing public speaking. My suggestions:
*Plan for time beforehand to check out the room and equipment.
*Know your audience. Do some research on them before hand or at least at the beginning of the talk with show of hands in response to your questions about them and their interests.
*Don’t apologize or comment on your fears, a common mistake.
*Take deep breaths from your diaphragm so you have oxygen in your forebrain to think clearly.
*What is your goal? What information do you want to share with the audience? Focus on that rather than your performance.
*Pick three to five main points and include evidence for each point. Use index cards with important information: DO NOT READ WORD BY WORD, very sleep inducing as in bedtime stories. Number your cards in case you drop them.
*Keep it simple and conversational. Humor and stories are great, which is why the Bible was written in many parables such as the Prodigal Son.
*Eye contact is important, around the room. Don’t overuse PowerPoint because the focus is on the screen, not people.
*Vary vocal pattern—no monotone. Pause for transitions between ideas.
*Only 7% of a message is communicated by words, 38% verbally, and 55% by body language. Be aware of your posture and movements. Avoid: rocking, fiddling, folding arms across the chest, standing with one hip higher, jingling coins, jangling jewelry, and repeated use of the same gesture or phrase.
*Video yourself in a practice session keeping these pointers in mind: This is very useful for anyone who teaches and gives group presentations.
*Visual aids: No more than 6 lines of copy with 6 words per line. Use a simple sans serif font such as Arial or Helvetica. For titles use around 40 point, and 24 point for details. Use bullets rather than complete sentences. Create original graphics with a digital camera.
*Put your watch where they can’t see you checking it.
*Don’t expect people to listen attentively for more than 20 minutes. Use variety and include time for interesting dialogue and questions.
Q: I am having a hard time hanging on to any idea that there’s some grand plan, or things work out for the best. Right now it seems like sometimes sucky things happen and all you can do is make the best of it. I had this strong gut feeling that we were meant to go to another state for a job my husband applied for. I actually felt sure he’d get the job. I’d go on an energy level and ask and see and it just felt so right compared to staying, but he didn’t get it. I think I lost some faith in my perceptive ability–all clouded, wishful thinking, no real insight….weird time.
A: Difficulties can be a kick in a new direction to get us to change our comfortable habits. In the long run, the purpose will be clear—a lesson in patience. The job felt right to me, too, but there’s a better one coming up. It’s true there are human miseries of abuse, starvation, and war that are very difficult to understand, other than we have free will and are not highly evolved. Note: he later did get a job in another state.
Q: I feel stuck and unmotivated to move forward in my life. How can I get going?
A: Instead of trying to formulate a grand plan, create a small step forward every day where you are kind to someone, you learn something new, or you engage in healthy fun. Work with a career counselor to explore options.
Q: I’m looking for a job in a tight job market. I don’t feel like I have a clear direction of where I’m going, or where I want to live.
A: Life is about ebb and flow like ocean waves, chaos and integration. Accept the fact that you’re in a chaos period and know that your path will open up to you. Set aside one hour a day to job search with no attachment to results, just making the effort in a newspaper, Craig’s List and other Internet job searches, networking with friends and acquaintances, and calling employers in the field of your dream job. List the components of an ideal job for you, so you have template in mind as you apply for jobs. It’s helpful that you’re willing to move to where jobs are available.
Apply for as many as interest you, so you have options open to you. You don’t have to decide now or get the perfect job. We can get stuck in perfectionism, which immobilizes our ability to act. Guidebooks like What Color is Your Parachute by Richard Nelson Bolles are helpful too. Check in with your former university career placement office and take tests to help you define your interests, like the Strong Campbell and the Myers Briggs.
Q: My family didn’t go to college and didn’t expect me to graduate either, so I’m lagging on transferring from community college to a university.
A: Apply for universities and make an appointment with the financial aid advisor. In your journal, write, “I am an educated man. I am capable and use my success for good.” Then listen to the negative voices of sub-personalities and write down what they say, like, “You’d be stuck up and arrogant if you become one of the college grads.” Think about whose voice that might echo in your extended family, when you first heard it, or got the message, and continue to dialogue with that voice. Then, cross it out, and put today’s date by it. Also, list ways you’re different from your family so your unconscious mind can separate from their patterns. You might find they’ll brag in the future about their college graduate son.
Q: I’ve procrastinated finishing two incomplete courses I need to graduate. I just can’t seem to motivate myself. Any suggestions?
A: Ask yourself what’s the “secondary gain” from putting off the completion. It could be by delaying graduation, you give yourself an excuse not to do a job search and become an adult. It feels like you associate growing up with lack of fun. Create your own definition of the kind of adult you’d like to be. Think about exemplary role models you know or who are featured in the media and match that way of being. To finish your projects, set aside a time every day to do the work. During this time, do not answer your phone or do chores. The mind often comes up with excuses to put off work, like that drawer really must be cleaned out, but follow the plan instead of the immediate task. Reward yourself with a break after every hour of focused accomplishment. The secret is to break the task into small parts and create a sense of accomplishment daily; this provides energy whereas putting off a task drains energy.
Q: I graduated from university a few years ago but have been holding back from moving forward to graduate school and a career.
A: It looks like you’re carrying the weight of family expectations that you’re the achiever of your siblings, the one who doesn’t mess up. The fact is we’re on the planet to make mistakes so we can learn and grow. The point is not to repeat mistakes, rather than to be perfect. None of us are! Americans change jobs around seven times during their work lives so you’re not committing yourself to a lifelong sentence with your first professional job. Start with what you love to do rather than what would make the most money. A happy husband and dad are more desirable than a rich unhappy grumpy man. Consult with the career planning and placement center at the local college about career options and aptitude and personality tests to help you make an informed decision. Job searches are mainly done on the Internet: For many links see http://www.directsearch.net. Search for a job on web sites like Career Builder, Monster, Craig’s List, and Simply Hired.
Q: [China] I always want to find my answer by myself and now I don’t know what is right. What if I am wrong again? What if I try another job and it’s again not right for me and I waste my time again? My inner child’s nerves never have a rest, always devoured by the fear. I am ashamed to say but inside I am actually still a child who doesn’t know how to take the next step.
A: Think about life as learning lessons, so we evolve like all of nature. You’ve learned something from each of your jobs and struggles, so they’re not a waste of time. You’re getting clearer on what you want in a career. Throughout life we continue to be imperfect, to make mistakes. The point is to learn from them, not to get it right the first time or be perfect—impossibility.
The other point is to learn how to determine which is your highest inner guidance, and which is a lower sub-personality in the unconscious lacking in wisdom. Ask for clarity on your next career move before you sleep and take quiet time to be able to hear your inner guidance. If you listen, you’ll know when a job is right for you, although probably not forever.
It’s good that you realize the power of your inner child. With our core issues it takes a lifetime of peeling the onion skins, so don’t expect that just because you see the pattern it’s resolved. We all keep our inner child sub-personality all our life. Read John Bradshaw about how to work with the child to make it feel nurtured. The child can be a source of fun and creativity.
Co-Workers and Bosses
Q: I’d like to be able to gear my message for the learning style of the person I’m approaching as a sales person. Ideas?
A: Neuro Linguistic Programming tells you how to identify whether your listener is primarily visual, auditory, kinesthetic or auditory digital (mental dialogue with self). The User’s Manual for the Brain by Bob Bodenhamer and Michael Hall explains the differences and also provides a short test to indicate your dominant modalities. Many other NLP books are available.
Q: A business associate is trying to make an end run around me, a power grab. How can I block her?
A: Remind her in writing about rules and procedures and the chain of command. Avoid any personal attack; keep it impersonal except to give appreciation for effective ways you may have worked together in the past or what you’re looking forward to in your working relationship. What consequences are there if she continues to ignore the rules?
Q: I work with John every day in my office and he is a sensitive, high-strung individual. I asked him to call you because I think he needs help sustaining a grounded stable demeanor. It’s been a challenge to work with him but I have used your tools and have taught some of my Leadership Team how to do the same so that they don’t get sucked into the negative style of his messages. What else can I do?
A: It’s helpful to ground yourself, and the physical office space, as well as Peter. Does he eat frequent healthy foods so he doesn’t wig out with low blood sugar? Is his office in a quiet place? It might help for him to listen to soothing music on headphones. Praise him when he’s positive.
Q: I started a small business, brought in a partner and now I feel like she’s taken over and I’m being drained. I also have unmet needs with my romantic partner. How can I get my power back?
A: Decide what area of the business you’d like to take control of and why. She’s not the boss. I’d consider developing a new aspect of your business and take sole charge of it. To resolve a conflict, we have to put it on the table and learn about each person’s point of view. Without criticizing either partner, let them know how you’re feeling, what you’d like to change, and clarify what the other person needs, as explained in Marshall Rosenberg’s Non-Violent Communication (www.cnvc.org/learn/resources). Speak up and take back some ownership and you have more joie d’vivre.
Q: There’s a younger woman at my workplace who wraps the boss around her finger, so she gets more paid hours for doing less work than the rest of us. She spends lots of time at work on her personal Internet activities. I’m resentful and it affects my health.
A: Voice Dialogue teaches that for every strong primary subpersonality there’s a “disowned self.” If we’re not aware of the shadow selves, they manifest in others such as co-workers, our kids and pets, in people who evoke strong judgments and a charge from us. Since you have such a strong work ethic, the goof-off colleague gives you an opportunity to explore your opposite polarity. This understanding gives more freedom. I’d visualize a spotlight of truth over the goof-off’s desk so the boss clearly sees her work habits. If you leave work pissed off, don’t stuff it, as that’s not good for your immune system. Yell, cuss, growl, spit or what ever releases your frustration if you’re alone on your commute home. You’ll probably make yourself laugh in the process and enhance your immune system. I’d look for another job if possible. Document your productivity and contributions to the workplace to ask for a raise.
Q: I work with a woman who is considered the star and, while discussing a project, we had a disagreement. I am at a point where I doubt myself, thinking that I cannot work collaboratively. She gloats about herself and her skills so much that I feel incompetent.
A: If she needs to gloat, she must be very insecure. Find out about her childhood issues so you can put her neediness in perspective. She’s a good saleswoman of herself; observe how she convinces people she’s so competent. Also, the gloating must be obvious to others and not appealing to them. Are you imagining more star power than she actually has at work? Did you have siblings who you thought got more parental attention and did they compare your achievements at school and socially? This can be an opportunity to clean out unresolved childhood wounds she’s stimulating about not being the favorite child.
Q: I’m from India, not a gushy person, so I don’t know what to do when Americans greet me with exaggerated enthusiasm that feels phony to me. Do I have to gush back?
A: You don’t have to reply in kind. Just turn the spotlight back on the other person by asking a question like, “What’s new with you?”
Q: I don’t want to go to work, can’t wait for the weekend. I feel overwhelmed by all the projects I’m responsible for and feel irritated and resentful. Any hope for me?
A: When you get to work prioritize what’s most important. Put one task folder on your desk. Put the others in a drawer out of sight, the most important files upfront. Acknowledge what ever you’re feeling such as, “I’m feeling overwhelmed,” and then ask yourself, “What shall I accomplish in the next two hours?” Keep naming your feelings and then focus back on the immediate task.
When you’re interacting with toxic and draining co-workers, do active listening to verbalize their feelings and needs, and then ask for possible solutions. Write them down, and end the discussion by saying, “Thanks for letting me know what’s going on: Now I need to get ready for another meeting.” Make sure you nurture a life outside of work by planning for weekly fun activities, such as taking an art or dance class. Keep a gratitude journal so you remind yourself you’re fortunate to have a job and have the opportunity to learn new skills. If you continue to hate it, look for another job.
Q: I’m having a kind of midlife crisis where I don’t feel appreciated at work or by my children. How can I feel better about myself?
A: Don’t expect appreciation from others, but know your kids will be appreciative as they mataure. Look for a new challenge at work, take a class, or learn a new skill. Is it time to prepare for a new job? Think of this as your time to spread your wings and fly now that your kids are older and find gratification in evolving.
Q: I’m worried about losing my job in this recession. What can I do?
A: Yes, we’re in a major recession, which is painful for the unemployed, but good for the environment as people consume less. You might be able to get retraining: check out the county employment services like http://www.buttecounty.net/dess/One_Stop_Partners.html. You might want to start a business on the side. For free help, contact SCORE http://www.score.org.
In the long run, the American model of consumption and shopping (as President Bush advised we do after 9-11) is bankrupt in all senses of the word. Americans are 5 percent of the global population but consume about one-quarter of the energy and do one-third of global consumption. As developing countries like China and India follow our model, we’ll run out of oil and metals. Water is also scarce in some areas of the world, including the Southwest and some areas on the East Coast. We need to simplify, save, and slow down to savor life (see Carl Honoré’s In Praise of Slowness) in a new model of harmony with mother earth. If we work fewer hours, we can spend more time with family and friends, gardening, doing service, and other meaningful and enjoyable activities.
Q: [Japan] I have trouble separating from my chiropractic clients; I get too involved with my patients. How can I maintain both compassion and distance?
A: Think of each person leaving your office with a strong grounding pipe, like a taproot that provides stability and nurturance for a tree into the earth. Imagine releasing anyone else’s energy down your own grounding pipe into the earth to recycle. Know that each adult makes her or his own choices; their problems are not yours. Do a simple physical act of separation after each session: snap your fingers, exhale through the mouth, and deliberately release the patient to the Higher Source as you wash your hands with rose water.
Q: I’m bored with my work as a therapist and irritated by co-workers, but I need to stay on because of the good salary and benefits.
A: Get trainings in new approaches to doing your work. Anyone gets bored doing the same old thing, so it’s up to you to learn and apply new approaches. You could also try to learn something new about a co-worker each day. Take a quick walk between clients to reset your own energy.
Q: I’m a guy who works in an all-male environment where I often feel uncomfortable and intimidated by the jokes and bullying, so I dread going to work.
A: Through many sessions with coaching clients, I’ve discovered we display invisible unconscious signs that instruct people how to relate to us. If the sign says “I’m a victim: I expect to be abused,” then abusers step forward. Change your sign to “I’m an alpha male: Treat me with respect.” Human behavior in groups is similar to monkeys with alpha, beta and omega individuals in a hierarchy. If you send the messages of a subordinate male, you’ll get treated that way. My son, Jed, commented that “shit talking” occurs in male groups as part of male bonding. He suggests not to take it personally, and be assertive. Sometimes we need a counselor to help us practice behavior changes like standing up for ourselves.
Q: [Japan] I went to my boyfriend’s medical office to join their year-ending party. There are four young assistants and two of them were very strong energy-sucking behavior. They really liked me and wanted to talk to me a lot. At last, they got drunk and the two girls started to fight each other. They argued each other like “You want to make yourself a good girl, to get Dr. and his girlfriend’s
This fighting become very violent. They grab and hit each other. They screamed at each other like brutal or Mafia. I tried to stop them and my right shoulder and arm hurt. After I stopped the fighting, they cried. I hugged them. That was the most violence moment I have ever seen. I was very shocked. Today, one of them doesn’t remember about that day, and the other really thought that she was a 100% victim of the violence. She said that she doesn’t want to change her way no matter what.
A: First, try to be amused at their childlike behavior, rather that being reactive or upset. Second, ask why you attracted such intensity–you were literally in the middle of it. Ask if there are any “shadow issues” in terms of jealousy, competitiveness, irrational behavior in your psyche? Practically, no more alcohol at office parties? Always go back to energy tool basics, define your energy bubble, ground, and bring in a gold sun.
Q: When my friends or co-workers freak out they come to me. It feels like they suck my energy and I’m always in crisis mode.
A: Use the magic word and say “NO” when you’re overloaded. You can say, “I don’t have time now to give you the focus I’d like to offer. Can we talk on Friday at noon?” Look at your own co-dependent tendencies of wanting to feel needed to be validated as a good person.
Q: I work with a guy who is usually a sweetheart and very competent, but he has times when he gets irrational and criticizes me for no good reason. Any cure?
A: He is not just the person you see on the surface. He also has a child sub-personality to which he reverts when threatened, a shadow side, a critic, a judge, and so on. When your co-worker reverts to acting like a little boy, don’t match his attitude with your defensive child. Do active listening from a centered state so he can rise up to your adult centered self. Ask him to frame his criticisms in terms of positive suggestions that you’ll consider thoughtfully.
Q: [Japan] I have a supportive husband and sister but my parents told me I was worthless; I’ve carried this over to work where I don’t have friends.
A: To get out of your turtle shell, take a drama class as it seems like one of your sub-personalities would like this very much. Change your victim archetype (see Caroline Myss’ book The Sacred Contract) by developing your actor archetype. Imagine a character who is well-liked, act as if you are interested in getting to know your colleagues and imagine being confidant about what you can contribute to work friendships as a unique individual. Energetically, it helps to “zip up” your energy field before going into work by drawing a line with your hand from your pubic bone to your chin to stabilize your central meridian. Imagine a pink bubble of light around you, radiating friendliness and fun.
Q: I get a nervous stomach every time I’m assigned a leadership role at work. How can I get over this discomfort?
A: Exaggerate your worries to their extreme: Imagine the worst that could happen. Then imagine the satisfying outcome you want. Take the positive image and imagine throwing it at the fearful one until it disappears. Try drinking peppermint or ginger tea and visualize breathing green into your physical area of discomfort. Deep slow breathing always helps, prolonging the exhalation to relax the parasympathetic nervous system. Focus on what you want to accomplish, not on how you’re being evaluated.
Q: My fellow worker is so irritating; he interrupts me and follows me around talking to me. He’s driving me nuts—anything I can do?
A: Do what you would do with a child. First, give him five minutes or so of undivided attention to check in on how he’s doing today, to help him feel he’s making contact. Then set limits and stick to them, as in “I need quiet time for the next hour to finish my project.” If he interrupts, smile and point to your work, and keep silent and keep your eyes on your work. It’s very important to stick to your original instruction of an hour of time. To use the power of your mind, imagine an energy bubble around you with no trespassing signs. Imagine a magnet pulling him back to his own work. If nothing else works, go to the bathroom.
Q: I dislike going to work because of an ongoing conflict with a colleague. How can I resolve this?
A: Conflict can be healthy if it brings up different points of view to be negotiated to achieve a fair compromise and increased trust. Try a private meeting where you following these steps:
1) Focus on issues and goals, not personalities and positions. Identify what each of you thinks and wants. Do respectful “active listening” where you let the other person know you understand what she or he is thinking, even if you totally disagree. St. Francis said to seek first to understand, then to be understood. Keep in mind that the roots of irritation may be personal similarities that you
don’t like, or the other person reminds you of a difficult person from your past. Avoid blaming, name-calling, sarcasm, “you always….,” “gotcha,” and bringing up other issues that bother you. Stick to one problem at a time.
2) Brainstorm solutions without making judgments, focusing on mutual needs rather than established positions.
3) Search for a win-win compromise. If you can’t find one, bring in a mediator or agree to disagree and maintain courteous but distant adult interaction.
Q: My dictatorial boss creeps me out; I don’t like to even be near him.
A: Look at him as a movie screen reflecting some of your childhood wounds about feared authority figures, allowing you to project and make conscious old fears. Try to appreciate him as a helpful teacher. Pay attention to your visceral body reactions when you’re around him and set your intention to release your fears; remind yourself that as an adult, you’re safe. You can create an imaginary image for him such as toddler who wants his way no matter what, while you’re the understanding and firm adult. Can you transfer to another department or look for a new job? Keep in mind that where ever you go you’ll find difficult people.
Q: I’m a guy who tries to be humble and kind, but my boss tends to walk all over me. What can I do?
A: Sometimes men hold back with their male power because they don’t want to be chauvinist pigs. But, male power used for good, for leadership, for justice and protection of the underdog is very much needed. Stand up to him in a polite way, telling him what you want in a simple, clear, and calm manner. You will need to repeat it, so he knows you mean business. As with a child who tantrums for junk food in the supermarket, stick to your rules, don’t give in to bad behavior.
Q: My boss has moods where she’ll come over and tell me to do something differently even though the outcome is the same my way or her way. It’s stressful. What can I do?
A: Think deeper to what she needs, as explained in Non-Violent Communication developed by Marshall Rosenberg. It feels to me like she sometimes she needs to prove to herself and you that she’s the knowledgeable one in charge. Be proactive, and ask her for information about something you’d like to learn about in the business, so she feels like you value her. Think of work as a tennis game where you control the shots by anticipating what your opponent is going to do. Enjoy learning what techniques work and don’t work.
Q: I’m worried about my work situation. It feels like my boss is out to get me, so I’m anxious a lot. Is there anything I can do to cope with my boss?
A: What I see with you is a runner who arrives at the finish line tape first, but stops uncertain about what to do, not breaking through. It looks like you learned from your family it’s not OK to be out in front; this sets up a habit of self-sabotage on your part so you don’t break the unspoken family expectations. If you’re afraid of succeeding, you send out signals that get in the way of your work performance. Just becoming more conscious of your pattern can help, but you probably need to work with a professional with a body-based therapy (such as EFT, EMDR, or Psych-K) to clear out the energetic blocks around success.
In terms of your boss, ask for a meeting to evaluate your work, saying something like “It’s important to me to do a good job for you. I’d like your feedback on my strengths and weaknesses.” Mostly listen without being defensive, unless there is a misunderstanding that needs to be cleared up. I’d also let your boss know common goals you share for the workplace and what you like about his or her leadership style or achievement. Take notes, prepare a summary of your notes to give to your boss to check for accuracy, keep the correspondence, and then check in a few months for a progress report. People, including your boss, tend to like those who are sincerely complementary and whom they know can listen to and act on their suggestions. You’ll also have a written record of her or his expectations.
Q: It feels like I hit a WALL when I start to succeed at something.
A: Visualize the wall as only about 10 feet long, walk around it, down a path in a beautiful meadow. Turn to look back at the edge of the meadow and see how small the wall has become. What factors were involved in times when you’ve been successful?
Q: The managers at my workplace sit in their air-conditioned offices, make unrealistic contracts, and expect us blue-collar workers to give up our personal lives and health to work overtime to try to meet their impossible deadlines.
A: You can’t expect to do the impossible, so don’t buy into manager anxiety. All you can do is your best work and separate yourself from work stress by thinking about joyous places to be, happy memories, or pleasant fantasies while you’re working. You could write a nasty letter to the managers and tear it up and burn it to get it out of your system. Exercise releases hostile feelings: Take a walk when you get home to separate from work, even though you’re really tired.
Q: My boss is out to get me because of my union organizing. How do I protect myself?
A: Don’t expect rational behavior just because someone is an educated adult. Access her emotional age and relate to her on that level. You’ll save yourself a lot of irritation and disappointment. Also, watch out for childhood reactions to authority figure which you may be projecting on your boss and use this as an opportunity to clear the pattern. It feels like some issues with your mother are repeating now.
Don’t think you can ignore the problem and it will go away. My experience with bully bosses it they keep on testing their limits until they understand there will be unpleasant consequences for punishing you. One boss told me, “Your Ph.D. is in Religious Studies: You better start praying.” I replied, “She’s listening.” I told him clearly and calmly why I wasn’t going to do what he proposed, and he backed off.
Don’t take unilateral action: A soldier who runs to the front line without a strategy and support team will get shot down. In your case, the union is your team. Outline the specifics of corrective actions to be negotiated. Everyone is busy, so do the research and thinking for people who have the power to assist you. Keep your ears open for others who may be experiencing the same problems, as group action is much more powerful
than one person’s grievance. To recruit more union members offer food to motivate people to come to organizing meetings and keep educating them with brief email newsletters.
Do document each act of harassment that creates a “hostile” work environment, to use the legal term (Tile VII of the Civil Rights Act was extended to include men as well as women, with the case of a Louisiana oil worker). Include details time, place, and circumstance of the illegal behavior. Be familiar with your workplace human resource regulations. Put the remedy you seek in writing to your supervisor, starting with a point of agreement, such as “We both want a productive workplace.” If necessary, file a grievance. It’s illegal to harass someone because they have taken legal action or are a whistle blower.
Q: I’ve worked successfully as a nurse for many years, until I moved to a unit staffed by a verbally abusive, sexually suggestive, and neglectful doctor. When I blew the whistle, the managers started writing me up for errors I didn’t make or are things we all do in a busy unit. They terminated me recently by fax without a meeting. I’ve been reading the Law of Attraction and The Secret. Did I do something wrong to attract being fired?
A: A more in-depth explanation is The Intention Experiment or The Field by Lynne McTaggart. We’ve known for a long time that, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7). What the pop authors leave out is that we attract challenges to become stronger and evolve—the reason we’re alive. Someone who lives a life without challenges may lack opportunities to grow. You were right to follow your conscience and speak up about improper care. The union should fight hard for you; be a squeaky wheel. Don’t try to fight the battle on your own because being right is not enough to win against injustice. If necessary, consult a labor lawyer or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission about wrongful termination for whistle blowing.
Q: I’ve been wrongly accused of sexual harassment at my workplace. I’m a good guy!
A: Get help from your union or a lawyer and read your employer’s manual of procedures so you know your rights. Ask to see the charges and evidence in writing. Even though this is a very disturbing charge, stick to the facts and not your feelings in your interactions with people at work. Also think about any way you might have unintentionally crossed some boundaries, as we often attract situations that mirror the shadow part of our mind that needs to be brought to light of consciousness and worked out. Get help from a union, legal aid organization, or EEOC.
Q: I’m overwhelmed by clutter in my home and office. How to win?
A: As with any big task, break it down into small bits, and do a little each day such as sorting a pile of old mail today and dirty clothes tomorrow. As you sort, put objects into bins labeled “give away,” “file,” or “put in ___ room.” File folders and file cabinets really help with paper items like financial records. Use Behavior Modification techniques and give yourself a reward after each hour spent organizing. Use Emotional Freedom Technique and tap on the feeling of overwhelm and hopelessness.[iii]
Time Management for More Mental Energy
*Break difficult and lengthy tasks into smaller ones and do a little every day to prevent procrastination, our main energy drain. For example, when I grade student papers, I correct five, then take a break to wash the dishes or make a call, and then complete five more. This way I am not overwhelmed and I feel a sense of accomplishment many times while working.
*Do short tasks immediately, such as paying bills. Do not put them in a pile where they must be remembered and dealt with later. Mark on the envelopes when to mail them if cash is not yet available.
*Make lists of what needs to be done, and prioritize for each day and week. Do not do the low items on the list before the higher items are completed. Think about what you can delegate, whom you can hire or trade with, who you can ask for help, and to whom you should say “no.”
*Give yourself rewards for completing a major task. Crossing a task off your list is a small reward in itself and can be energizing.
*Do two things at once, like cleaning the bathroom and giving a child a bath or doing a load of laundry while cooking dinner. Multitasking can get excessive, however.
*Make your work and home environment pleasing to you. Play music (use headphones if you work around others); drink your favorite healthy beverage, e.g., herb tea; and display fragrant flowers, photographs and art. Keep toys around (kaleidoscope, bubble blower, crayons, silly putty) to remind you to have fun.
*Keep your mind and spirit energized by taking enjoyable breaks. Reward periods of concentration with regular short breaks to breathe deeply, your palm over closed eyes while imagining black velvet, take a short walk, stretch, daydream, meditate, or put your feet up. If you find yourself reading and going blank, keep your body involved by having a pen in your hand, underlining or taking notes.
*Give yourself some time alone, taking a bubble bath with relaxing music and candles instead of a quick shower.
*Plan leisure activities to look forward to, with a supportive group of friends and family.
*Studies show healthy people have a support group. Men are less likely to have friends to share feelings with, so many communities have weekly men’s groups to provide this contact.
Q: I’m stretched thin at work so I come home feeling exhausted. Is there any way not to be so tired?
A: In How to Get Control of Your Time and Your Life, Alan Lakein suggests dividing your “to do” list into A, B, C priority categories. Do the As when you have the most energy during your day, as Lakein says 20% of our work achieves 80% of the results, so decide how you’re going to use your time.
Think of yourself as an experienced firefighter dealing with many small brush fires. When a new fire breaks out, pause, take a deep breath, and plan. Can you handle it later or delegate it to someone else? Imagine a perfectionist thermostat, ask how perfectly the task needs to be done, and turn down your Type A hurry sickness thermostat to Type B more relaxed and calm approach. Think of moving from the whirling outer edges of the hurricane to the still center. If you keep your adrenal reaction turned down, you’ll have more energy at the end of the day, as well as a healthier immune system.
Q: I feel under water, swamped. I’m facing an IRS audit, a biopsy, a grinding workload, and I’m still grieving the end of a relationship. What can I do to feel better?
A: When you feel like you’re being pulled under, visualize a wave pushing you up on the shore free of the undertow. Take time to nurture yourself each day to take a break from work pressure and do something enjoyable. Prioritize and plan. Tell yourself, “This too Shall Pass.”
Q: I recently started my own business and would like to succeed. Suggestions?
A: I posed this question to a gathering of around 40 small business owners. They emphasized the importance of setting clear intentions for what you want to achieve, be positive but address your doubts and fears, express gratitude, stay focused in the present, enjoy what you do and be excited about learning new job skills. A related theme was to listen, to get your ego out of the way so you can hear your higher self–“give it up,” and to aim for simplicity.
In addition to attitude, another cluster of advice was to nurture yourself: Mediate daily, breathe deeply, spend time in nature, play and have fun. Another theme was to focus on making your clients feel satisfied, respect each one as a unique individual, and to meet and greet new people (potentially new clients) as you go about your day. Lastly, a publisher quoted an old adage about pray but tie up the camel; that is, pay attention to details to manifest your goals here and now.
When you feel anxious: Breath from your diaphragm, imagining inhaling a calming color like green or blue. Do the HearthMath Freeze Framer, pausing your anxiety as you would a video (check out their website and books).[iv] Imagine breathing into your heart. Think about a happy time when you felt appreciated. Last, ask your heart what you should do to cope.
For free business information on technical skills such as bookkeeping, accounting, and taxes, consult the Small Business Development Center, the Chamber of Commerce, or SCORE retired business executives for help with your business plan.
Q: I procrastinate big time about cleaning up my messy office. Suggestions?
A: Ask your rebellious inner child sub-personality why it doesn’t want to clean up. Then let her or him write the answer with your non-dominant hand. You may want to hire someone or trade with a friend to get you over the hump. Set aside half an hour a day to make some progress and give yourself a healthy reward to provide positive reinforcement.
Q: So many things I want to do: practice my instrument, read your Energy Tools book, try out a new work technique, etc. I feel scattered and overwhelmed by the demands on my time.
A: Ground and meditate at the beginning of the day and you’ll feel calmer. Make a list of all the tasks at hand for the month, week and day. Use a monthly calendar so you can see what’s coming up. Prioritize and do the top items first. See which are “shoulds” that you can reconsider and decide which are not high priorities. Divide tasks into smaller segments and give yourself a brief break to
reward yourself when you complete a segment.
Get a stack of different colored index cards. One color could signal personal tasks and another legal tasks, for example. Write one task per card, and then spread the cards out in front of you. They’re already grouped by theme by their color. Then take each stack of cards and shuffle to reflect your top priority; which task is most important and time-sensitive for a deadline? Enter your priority tasks on your monthly calendar, such as, Monday: call Ms. X. and search domain names for website, etc.
Write on your calendar for the week what you’re going to do each day to accomplish your goals. Include time in your written schedule for exercise and quiet introspection. You’ll be energized by the sense of accomplishment while procrastination is an energy drain.
Q: I’m a perfectionist, so sometimes I don’t even start on a task like cleaning out a drawer because I’ll think I should clean them all.
A: Think of one task wrapped up as a gift, with lovely paper and ribbon. You just open that box. The other “gifts” are not going to go away, so break up the task into manageable bits.
Q: My wife and I run a small business with many projects going on at the same time. How can I be less stressed?
A: It feels like when you experience a lot of demands you speed up to try to handle them all. When this happens, blood goes to the mid-brain, the emotional limbic center, instead of the rational forebrain, as when some people experience exam anxiety and can’t access what they’ve learned. Take a deep breath to oxygenate your brain and then put your hand on the bumps on your forehead thinking of a peaceful place. Build in time for daily exercise to release tension. Trace horizontal figure eights with your eyes and/or hands as any movement that crosses the midline of the body helps balance the energy field. To read more stress management techniques see my blog www.gaylekimball.wordpress.com.[v]
Make a firm rule. When you are on your weekly date, no discussion of work. Voice appreciation for each other daily. If one of you feels she or he is doing more work and has less leisure time for health maintenance, make a list of all the tasks and divide them up fairly.
Q: impatient or grouchy people irritate me. How can I cope?
A: Make it a game to see if you can get them to smile and give them a sincere complement.
Q: I’m a procrastinator. I only get going on a task done right before it’s due.
A: Divide the task into small parts. Schedule in small chunks of time on your calendar to work on the task. That calendar time is sacred. No answering the phone. Decide on a reward when you’ve completed the task. Make your workplace as pleasant as possible with a cup of herb tea, flowers, favorite photo, comic strip, and a cartoon. Think about roots of resistance to authority and rules that may be underlying resistance to completing a task.
Understand your personality type, as by taking the Keirsey and Bates Inventory on line at http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/Jtypes2.asp. It’s the most widely used personality inventory and is explained in their book Please Understand Me. It’s useful to know, for example, if you’re a J or P: the former likes structure and achieving goals while the quality of the process and spontaneity is very important to Ps.
Q: I’m taking a major licensing exam. If I fail it as I did the first time, no license, and no job. I’m very anxious.
A: If you’re scared, your blood goes to the emotional limbic part of the brain and you can’t think clearly. It’s like trying to take your test from outside your body or driving from the back seat. Start now writing down when you feel anxiety, where you feel it in your body, and try different calming techniques. Note what works best for you and use the tool every time, so by the time of the test you’ll be practiced in staying calm.
Here are some different calming techniques to try: deep breathing, shut your eyes and exhale with a ssss sound to release, visualize emerald green light all around you, and do bilateral movements that cross the midline of the body like making horizontal 8s with your eyes or cross-crawls touching opposite elbow to knee on both sides. Imagine you have a guide or fairy godmother who is an expert in your field who inspires and informs you, and use EFT. If you feel anxious, notice what’s around you—like the colors in the room–to distance yourself from the discomfort. Don’t look at the clock; just think about the right answer.
An update: She passed. What she found most useful was doing figure eights with her eyes while test taking and imagining a guide: “My fairy godmother was with me the whole time, and made me feel easy and happy during the test.”
Q: I’m a single parent with a job and going back to college. How do I get it all done?
A: *Schedule regular time to study on your calendar, just as you schedule an appointment or work. You may need to trade with another parent to swap doing something fun with the two sets of kids so you have uninterrupted time to study. Find a quiet place.
*Identify key phases in assignments. If you’re not clear, immediately ask the teacher for clarification so you don’t waste time being confused.
*Know your learning type. Are you right brain/global and need music, something in your mouth, like to learn in a group, and are comfortable with stopping in the middle of a task to go to another? Are you left-brain/analytical and need quiet, to be alone, and to complete a task in a linear fashion A-B-C-D? Do you learn best by seeing (visual), hearing (auditory), or feeling and doing (kinesthetic)? A fourth type, auditory digital needs to have an internal chat discussing the new concepts. We all learn best by combining our different senses: writing notes, reading them, saying them out loud, and having a discussion where we link new ideas to ones we know.
*Never ever read the assigned readings without a pen or underliner in hand to take notes or highlight key concepts. This keeps you involved rather than wasting time spacing out. Skim the reading first, looking at introduction, subtitles and conclusion so you know what the author is trying to get across. If you run out of time, skim without reading word for word so you get the important concepts.
*Carry reading with you in case you have to wait for an appointment.
*To begin organizing an essay, start by drawing a starfish or wagon wheel and list topics you want to include on the spokes to brainstorm. Then organize the themes into an outline and write from that. In your introduction, include your theme and main points outlining how you’ll prove your theme in the essay.
*For research papers, take notes on index cards with only one theme per card (such as analyzing the four main causes of the Civil War, theme one is economic differences). Also note on the card the source (number a book as you write it on the bibliography page) and page number of the quote, such as 3/267 for book three, page 267. Then sort out the cards by theme, organize theme by theme, and write from the cards. Always provide evidence.
*In group meetings, start with an agenda with time allotments. You can vote to extend the time on a topic if necessary. Assign a facilitator, timekeeper, and recorder; it’s a good idea to rotate these tasks to share the work and practice skills. When brainstorming, don’t judge any suggestion so you don’t inhibit creativity. Save chitchat for after a task is completed, or set aside time at the beginning to go around the group for a brief timed check-in about how each member is feeling. Take time at the end to evaluate how the meeting went and make constructive criticisms. Use effective communication skills when disagreements arise, “I’m feeling ___ because__” rather than “You always….” Putt a specific solution on the table for negotiation and do “active listening.”
Q: How can I stay fit when I sit at a desk all day at work?
A: Studies show sitting all day diminishes wellness. Every one-hour TV program you sit through increases the chances of premature death caused by Disuse Syndrome, raising your odds for dying from heart attack or stroke, from cancer, and from other health problems.[vi] Do stretches, such as head rolls, overhead reach, interlace your fingers and stretch your palms away from you while relaxing your shoulders–then turn the palms toward the ceiling, rotate your wrists, circle your shoulders, lean forward in your chair touching your head to knees, fly like a bird reaching your arms up and down, do the runner’s stretch and push ups against the wall. Do knee pull, waist bend, and finger fan. Sky reaching, circle your elbows forward and back to lubricate the upper back.
Paula Barros, DC, suggests these workplace stretches:
Do a partner stretch, holding right hands moving back with a flat back.
Take hands and squat with your partner.
Windmill your arms, trading which is up and down with the breath.
For hamstrings, place a heel on a chair, and fold over your foot. Spine twist right to left to massage internal organs. Healthy knees require well-stretched hamstrings.
Lie on the floor with calves on the seat of the chair.
Keep a yoga mat at work to stretch on the floor. Get an exercise ball to roll around on when you’re talking on the phone. Elevate your feet.
*Keep a resistance band in your desk. Download exercises.[vii]
*Take a break such as a short stroll outside, and talk with friends. In one study, women who walked briskly at least three hours a week cut their risk of heart attack and stroke by more than half.
*Rub your palms together and rest them over your eyes, visualizing black velvet cloth for two or three minutes to relax your eyes. Rub in the notch in your eye socket above the tear ducts. Look away from the computer frequently. Download Tibetan eye exercise chart.[viii]
*Take a fun lunch break instead of doing errands. Bring healthy snacks to work. Eat a healthy breakfast to keep your blood sugar even.
*Bring art and fresh flowers to your office; listen to calming music on headphones.
*Post affirmations, inspiring quotes, and funny photos and cartons.
*Keep a stash of toys: kaleidoscope, silly putty, jacks, sock toss, yo-yo, dart board, nerf balls, crayons, hand puppets, percussion instruments, etc. to use when you get stuck or fatigued.
*Stick to your priorities. Leave your concerns about work at your workplace when you leave.
*Handle each piece of paper just once: either respond, toss in the recycling bin, file, or refer it.
*Set time limits on meeting agenda items, start on time, have the last person to arrive take minutes. Be an amused anthropologist and notice the dominance struggles, power games, ego boosting, coalitions, etc. See Franz de Whaal’s Chimpanzee Politics to see how similar chimps are to humans in their power struggles.
*Turn problem-solving into a game.
*Relax commuting to and from work with an audio book or music. Review your successes.
*Find out your Feng Shui reputation corner in the far left from the entrance and put something valuable there, no waste paper basket.
Q: When I’m in front of the computer a lot, I get fuzz-brained and klutzy. What can I do? It’s my work.
A: When our energy field gets scrambled, it gets “homolateral.” To get properly aligned in a bilateral spiral, drink water and do exercises that cross the midline of the body, like touching opposite elbow to knee in a “cross-crawl.” Imagine looking at a horizontal figure eight with your eyes, as well as deep breathing from your diaphragm. Also, tap under the collarbones, on your thymus, and on the spleen meridian on the edge of the ribs. See a graphic of where to tap[ix] or Donna Eden’s book Energy Medicine.
Try these Brain Gym exercises to get your brain organized.[x] Take a break every 1/2 hour or hour to stretch, crawl on the floor (anything right left opposition is balancing), pound with your palms on your thighs growling like a lion, eat something healthy, or imagine a beautiful vacation site. Put something lovely by your workspace like a flower or crystal to keep your focus there.
Q: I have writer’s block, partly because my wife is a very critical editor. How can I start writing again?
A: Don’t use her as an editor; hire a professional. Change your usual way of approaching your work. If you usually sit down at your computer with a cup of tea, take a pad of paper to the park and brainstorm ideas without judgment. Write for half an hour or so everyday, even if it’s junk, just to practice. A good idea or two may surface.
Q: With over 1 billion very poor people in the world, how can I start helping out?
A: I love the concept of giving someone a fishing pole rather than a fish. It’s also good for your money flow in to give out monthly. Micro lending is an inspiriting success story, which began in Bangladesh over 30 years ago. The borrowers are mostly poor women who borrow as a small group and support each other and learn about business in weekly meetings. Most of them repay the small loans after buying moneymakers like a water buffalo or a sewing machine. As a consequence of earning money, the women’s children are more likely to go to school. The Grameen Foundation was the first micro lending organization; it lends more than $25 million each month to more than 2 million borrowers on four continents. We can give online to the grameenfoundation.org or I started a literacy program in NW Pakistan that has no administrative costs.[xi] Our first microloan project was a business started by a 35-year-old mother of nine children, who sold fabric and blankets.
Q: Financially I am not doing well. How can I change this?
A: As with any goal, commit to spending an hour or so a day to action towards your goal. Action to find a new job includes gathering information, getting feedback on your resume, networking with everyone you know, using the local college placement center, job fairs, and writing a description of an ideal workday for you. Imagine yourself in a rewarding job and notice any resistance that comes up, thoughts starting with “I can’t, I don’t deserve,” “My family doesn’t….” and bring them to the light of consciousness to release their sabotaging effects. Affirm in the present (not in future tense), “I’m grateful that I’m gaining prosperity for me and my family.” For many ideas about how to save money, read Be Thrifty: How to Live Better with Less by Califia Suntree.
The main barriers to financial success I’ve seen are the following beliefs: *Spiritual people don’t concern themselves with making money.
*I don’t deserve wealth. It’s greedy and not ecologically sound to be wealthy. *Money doesn’t grow on tree; it takes a lot of grinding effort. I don’t have the knowledge about how to generate wealth.”
List your beliefs about money and riches, including family beliefs such as “Our family doesn’t have good luck with money matters.” Be aware of your approach to finances: Are you a spender, saver, avoider, or view it as too mundane (what T. Harv Eker calls “money monks” (peakpotentials.com)? Think about how you could use wealth to assist others. Eker suggests starting savings accounts for necessities, play, education, the future, and charity. Put a specific percentage in each account each month.
*Use Feng Shui to identify the prosperity section of your home and office and clean it out, adding symbols of prosperity such as a gold coin.
Q: My money supply isn’t working; it looks like a great deal will close, then something gets in the way. What am I doing wrong?
A: Sometimes I’ll see that generations of family beliefs about money being scarce are stored in the subconscious, in cellular memory, which is what I see happening with you. A simple energy tool for clearing is to imagine writing your name and the present date in your energy field. Set your intention to end the family pattern with you and visualize releasing the outmoded beliefs down into the earth to recycle. Visualize money flowing in with abundance like the stars in the sky and the lilies in the field. “We are what we think. All that we are arises from our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world,” said the Buddha.
Q: I put my mother’s house up for sale. She needs the money but it’s been on the market for months.
A: Get a Feng Shui book, consultant, or download Internet information. With a Bagwa chart at your side to show you the focus of each room (health, career, family, helpful friends, etc.) clean out and invigorate the energy of the house. Start big with drums or pots and pans walking from room to room to shake up the stagnant energy, and then get more subtle by using the four elements. Fire: light a sage stick and waft it through each room, moving clockwise through the house and circling each room. Set up an incense stick to burn as you clear. Water: spray essential oils (such as a citrus oil like grapefruit) diluted in water. Earth: put sea salt in little bowls in the corners of rooms to collect energetic debris, then dump it when you leave. Air: set up mobiles and wind chimes to keep chi moving.
Imagine lines of connection to prospective buyers who might benefit from living in the house. If possible, plant new flowers in front of the house to greet buyers. These rituals focus the power of your mind to set your intention to sell the house. Also read about how to stage a house to make it appealing to buyers.[xii]
Q: I’m always struggling with money, trying to earn enough, to save it, not wanting to be bothered with it.
A: Money is a neutral useful unit of exchange, but we overlay it with emotional judgments. Think about your family’s beliefs about money and decide which ones you want to keep. We live in an astoundingly abundant universe and can match that reality rather than matching fears about scarcity and struggle.
To manifest a goal such as having more money, experts agree on these basic principles. Visualize your goal happening now rather than in the future. Action happens first on the energetic level so your intention is starting now like a sprouting seed. Focus on the delight of achieving your goal when you wake up and when you go to sleep, creating a thought form of gratitude and joy. Don’t be too specific about how the goal will manifest, as your conscious mind doesn’t know all the possibilities. Don’t dilute your focus by talking about your goal to other people. Examine any self-sabotage in terms of feeling undeserving or incapable. Be patient and on the lookout for synchronicities events as you move towards your goal.
Q: How can I live frugally and ecologically?
A: To live ecologically and save money, buy used items, share with neighbors (e.g., a rototiller for a community garden), compost your garbage and yard clippings, eliminate red meat from your diet, turn off the TV, use the library, sun-dry your clothes; ride a bike, take mass transit, carpool, and drive a fuel efficient car. Wait a month before buying a major purchase to make sure you really need it.
Q: [Japan] I’m an osteopath overwhelmed with work, but for the last two years I have no profit to show for it. My dream is to have a healing school.
A: When you walk from the train to your office, use the time to meditate and set your intention for a positive money flow and doing wonderful service for your clients. Set your intention for profit, watch for negative thoughts, acknowledge them, and visualize clearing out self-sabotage from your unconscious mind.
Have a Feng Shui consultant make recommendations for your office. See where it would be useful to increase the flow of energy with fountains, mobiles, plants, gold fish, etc. Act on your dreams little by little, such as publicize a workshop you want to teach to the general public, and put the name of your healing school on the publicity to get the energy moving in a forward direction. Look at your monthly expenditures to see where you can cut costs, as by moving to a less expensive office or reducing staff hours.
Q: I had an unsafe childhood so I tend to be hyper vigilant. I’ll notice small details like how many lights are on in a room. I also have trouble thinking of myself as financially successful.
A: Some obsessive people are hindered by the time they take to re-check that the oven is off or to repetitious hand washing, but you don’t seem to be slowed down by your perceptions. I’d turn it into a game, where you quiz yourself and then check your accuracy. Check and make sure your adrenals aren’t on overdrive, because chronic cortosol arousal undermines the immune system.
Imagine a movie in which you play a man wearing an expensive suit, carrying an elegant briefcase, getting into a new hybrid car. Pay careful attention to what thoughts and feelings come up that may need to be cleared.
Q: Money burns a hole in my pocket; although I work hard, I have no savings.
A: You’re not alone, as the average personal savings in the US is less than 2% of income and nearly one-quarter of families have no savings–the worst savings rate among developed countries, tied with Portugal. It’s imperative to have savings withdrawn from your paycheck into a savings plan like a Roth IRA, so the money never goes into your pocket. (See this link for how to set one up with a financial institution.[xiii]) Compounded interest on your savings really adds up over time. Check out green investing so you know your money is doing good as well as earning for you.
Q: I procrastinate paying my bills and then have to pay late fees.
A: The key to any procrastination issue is to do part of the task right away so you get the satisfaction and energy boost of completion. Write out the check as soon as you receive the bill. If you don’t have money in the bank to cover it, write on the envelope the date when it will be OK to mail it.
If we put something off, it robs us of energy, while breaking a task into small parts provides many opportunities for energizing successes. Use behavior modification and give yourself a reward each time you follow through with your plan, as simple as the thought “good job!” or a walk around your neighborhood to take a break.
Q: I have an irrational fear I’ll lose my job and end up living in my car. How can I get over this? I’m disappointed with myself for not dealing with it better.
A: This can be figurative rather than a literal image, but what came up for me was a past life where you were raised in a protected environment in a wealthy family. When you were finally exposed to poverty, it was so shocking to you that you felt very guilty, leaving home to live a live of poverty in a convent, similar to Buddha’s experience. Your guilt over your family’s wealth was so deep, it carried over to your attitude towards money in this life. Every day say, “I deserve financial security and I continue to be successful in my work.” Listen for the “Yes, but….” thoughts that bubble up from the unconscious and use acupressure tapping on them. We all have irrational beliefs we’re bringing into consciousness and clearing, one of life’s purposes.
Q: Is it worth it to pay for a college education when lots of my graduate friends aren’t getting a job?
A: It pays to get a college degree. The average graduate makes about $30,000 a year more then an average high school grad. An additional professional degree adds $40,000. Start now to take advantage of compound interest earnings. If a college graduate, age 22, begins earning $30,000 a year with an annual raise of 1%, and invests 10% in a Standard & Poor Index mutual fund, she’d have $1.4 million dollars at age 67. Women tend to invest too little, too late.
Women can’t rely on a husband, as women live 7 years longer and the average age of widows in America is 55. Only 22% of women over age 65 receive a pension, while almost half of men do. The divorce rate is almost 50%. Only 15% of divorced women get any court-ordered spousal support, and 5% of that group can’t collect. In old age, nursing home care costs about $200 a day.
Q: I want to do to Europe on a shoestring. Suggestions?
A: *Buy a Eurail Pass and hostel membership before you go as they need to be purchased abroad.
*Make a reservation for a hostel near your arrival airport because you’ll be too tired to search for a place to sleep.
*Take a bandanna and ear plugs to sleep on the plane and other noisy places. Also get a good guide book (Lonely Planet or Let’s Go) and a phrase book and dictionary so you can be polite and ask questions, especially about directions.
*Check out Skype.com for free telephone calls around the world. Consider a credit card that gives you a frequent flyer mile for every dollar you spend for free flights in the future.
*Pack lightly. See http://www.ricksteves.com for a list of what to pack and other European travel tips.
Q: I know nothing about investing, but know I should start saving so my money can grow. How do I get started?
A: You can join an investment club to buy stocks that require minimum purchases you can’t yet afford (www.betterinvesting.org). Clubs that hold stocks for the long term do best. Have money deducted from your paycheck for savings. Invest the full amount in a 401(k), which has a limit or a Roth IRA permits a nondeductible contribution each year, but earnings and principle can be withdrawn tax-free at age 59 1/2.[xiv] You can invest in the mutual fund of your choice. You can withdraw at any time without penalty, unlike a 401(k). An annuity offered by an insurance company also permits deferring taxes, but check their fees.
Stocks outperform all other investments, having returned about 12.7% over the last 60 years (compared to 5.5% for bonds and 4.4% for Treasury bills). A diversified portfolio includes large and blue-chip stocks, medium and small companies, value stocks (bought at a bargain price), growth stocks, international stocks, and a bond fund. Also diversify with investments in real estate, gold and silver coins, art, as well as stocks and bonds.
*Software can help budget and financial planning, i.e., Quicken
(Intuit), Money (Microsoft)
H Brill, J. Brill & C. Feigenbaum. Investing with Your Values: Making Money and Making a Difference. New Society Publishers, 2002.
*Bobbie Christensen. Building Your Financial Portfolio on $25 a Month. (800-929-7889)
*Green Living magazine
245 Eighth Ave.
New York, NY 10011-1607
*The Handbook for Learn-by-Doing Investing and monthly newsletter Better Investing
*National Association of Investors Corp.
711 W. Thirteen Mile Rd.
Madison Heights, MI 48071
*The Mutual Fund Investment Kit
Mutual Fund Education Alliance
1900 Erie St., Suite 120
Kansas City, MO 64116-3465
*Hal Brill, J, Brill and C. Feigenbaum. Investing with Your Values:
Making Money and Making a Difference. Bloomberg Press, 1999.
*Marshall Glickman (publisher of Green Living). The Mindful Money
Guide: Creating Harmony Between Your Values and Your Finances.
Ballantine Wellspring, 1999.
*Napoleon Hill. Think and Grow Rich. Fawcett, 1990.
*Richard Maturi. Chicago: Probus, 1994.
*Donate credit card profits to nonprofit organizations by using a
Working assets’ credit card (also provides long distance phone):
*Information about stocks: Diversify your portfolio, work with a
financial planner and invest for the long term.
Morningstar http://www.morningstar.com (well respected site); The
Motley Fool, fool.com (& other financial info); StockSelector, stockselector.
com (evaluates stock fair value); Quicken, quicken.com;
Vector Vest, vectorvest.com; valueline.com; American Association
of Individual Investors, aaii.org; bloomberg.com; theonlineinvestor.
com; fiance.yahoo.com; Zacks.com (compiles recommendations
of 50 experts)
*Free tax payment assistance: http://www.turbotax.com (to file the simplified
Form 1040EZ); hdvest.com
*Tax information: http://www.fidelity.com/tax; cyberinvest.com
*To estimate your Social Security earnings:
*To estimate how much you need to retire: American Savings
Education Council, http://www.asec.org; owl-national.org; financialengines.
*To find a financial planner (choose one who charges set fees
rather than commissions): National Association of Personal
Financial Advisers, http://www.napfa.org; Money advice and financial
planning: moneyadvisor.com/calc;.fool.com; gomez.com;
money.com (Money magazine); smartmoney.com; “Financial Facts
Tool Kit;” ka-ching.com;sec.gov/consumer/toolkit.htm;
*Best loan rates, as for a car or mortgage, or IRA, and other
financenter.com; GetSmart.com; Consumer Financial Network,
cfn.com (assists with finding cheapest rates on insurance, mortgages,
*Best rates for phone service, credit cards, loans, etc.: http://www.lowermybills.
com;.Insweb.com (insurance); Cardweb.com (credit
cards); LowerMyBills.com (long distance)
*Best car rates: http://www.carsdirect.com; wwwcarorder.com;
*Free computer technical help: http://www.NoWonder.com
*Start your own business: http://www.ideacafe.com; Women’s Business
*Gender equity: www.equitymag.com/9909/
[vii] http://www.hgtv.com/hgtv/ah_personal_care_exercise/article/0,1801, HGTV_3145_29731