Archive | October, 2013

Can Fear be a Gift?

30 Oct

The majority of my blogs and articles about fear describe it in negative terms. How fear prevents us from truly living the life we wish for ourselves. How it keeps us from having, being and doing the things we most desire.

Today, I’d like to talk about the positive side of fear. And yes, there is a positive side. You see if our ancestors hadn’t experienced fear there is a good chance you and I would not be here today. No blog and no readers.

Like most animals, we of the human species have a built in early warning system to protect us from dangerous situations. It’s very much like the burglar alarm systems many of us have in our homes. It starts with the alarm itself found in the oldest part of our reptilian brain, a nodule known as the amygdala. The amygdala receives signals from our five senses very much like the burglar alarm that is connected to the windows and doors in our homes. When any of those doors or windows are breeched signals are sent to the alarm and it begins to ring.

The amygdala is always working monitoring what we see, hear, smell, taste and feel. If any one of these sensors suspects danger it immediately notifies the amygdala to prepare the body for what we refer to as, fight or flight. Perfect for when a wild beast looks at us and thinks dinner, or a hostile neighboring tribe is looking to conquer our village, make us slaves and steal our wives and daughters.

The first thing that happens when our amygdala suspects danger is to determine if the danger is real. This takes but nano seconds. If it does sense we are in danger it goes into action: The body is bathed in hormones, most notably adrenaline. The heart beats faster. The lungs take in more oxygen to mix with the sugars in the blood to produce more energy. Our senses sharpen. And, the blood supply is redirected away from the digestive track to the muscles. Our body is now ready to fight for our very lives, or run to escape our attackers.

When this happened to our ancestors they survived. We are living proof of that. So fear is definitely good, a gift.

But here is the weird part. Your amygdala doesn’t know the difference between a signal from your five senses, or a delusional thought you hold in your mind. So if you’re a salesperson who has to call a prospect and you’re afraid they’ll get mad at you and hang-up, your body will feel the fear and respond in a similar fashion to being chased by a pit bull. If there is someone you want to meet at a social gathering and you’re frozen in place by fear that you’ll be rejected and humiliated, your body is feeling the same stresses it would if you were confronted by a mugger on a dark street. This certainly doesn’t make much sense now, does it?

So, learn the difference between real fear that protects you from danger, and delusional fear that robs you of all the things that would add joy and happiness to your life. Once you do this, your life will never be the same.

Love,

Michael

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Empathy

28 Oct

In a recent conversation about raising children with my publisher, Nance Rosen, I mentioned that I believed the greatest gift that we could teach our children was empathy. The ability to mentally and emotionally put one’s self in another’s situation to gain a greater understanding of what that person is going through. She agreed.

If you’ve read my book Overpowering Fear – Defeating the #1 Challenge in Sales and Life then you’re probably aware that I admitted that I was not as good a father as I should have been, or as I could have been.  If you are waiting for your copy to arrive from Amazon or Barnes & Noble then you probably have not read my dedication:

“To my beautiful daughters Melissa and Jennifer. When you were growing up I wasn’t always there for you. And nothing I could say or do can change that. But today I stand in awe of the incredible wives, mothers and good citizens you have become. And what I want you to know is that I am so very proud to be your Dad. To both of you I dedicate this book.”

Now don’t get me wrong. I was not as great a father as I thought I was, but I was not as bad a father as my daughters may have thought I was. I was like most parents of my generation. I modeled myself after my father. I know he loved me but he was almost never there for me, even when he was there. And, remember, children do not come with an instruction manual. We do the best that we can and hope for the best.

But as you can see in my book dedication I believe that the girl’s mom and I did succeed in teaching our daughters empathy. For how else could I stand in awe of the incredible wives, mothers and good citizens they have become? My daughters believe in the goodness of all people. They can easily put themselves in another’s shoes and feel what others are feeling, and going through in their lives. With empathy comes understanding. And with understanding comes peace.

So, before it’s too late, give your children the greatest gift you can. Teach them to be empathetic. To feel empathy means that you are endlessly connected to everyone on the planet. What could be greater than that?

Love,

Michael

Check Your Ego at the Door

24 Oct

Check your ego at the door and check your gut instead. Every right decision I have ever made has come from my gut. ~Oprah Winfrey

If you read my book Overpowering Fear – Defeating the #1 Challenge in Sales and Life you’ll know that I don’t think much of the ego, yours or mine.

Your ego is not your friend. Its sole purpose is to compare you to others. And when that happens you’re either going to win or lose. If your ego finds you superior to another or another’s possessions, you feel good about yourself. If your ego finds you lacking compared to another you feel terrible. There is no in-between.

Whenever you make a decision based upon what your ego is telling you the probability that you’ll make the wrong decision is at its highest. But when you allow intuition to guide you, you can almost never be wrong.

Intuition communicates through your gut. When you make the right decision your gut speaks to you through your heart, and makes it sing. It’s at that moment that you know you made the RIGHT decision.

Love,

Michael

Am I my Brother’s Keeper?

18 Oct

After Cain kills his brother Abel God asks Cain where is Abel. And Cain replies, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Implying, how should I know. When in fact he did know. He just killed him.

Those five words are probably the most quoted in the bible.

Am I my brother’s keeper? I personally believe so. All men (and women too) are my brothers. We look different. We act different. We speak different languages. We celebrate different cultures. But if we were to remove our outer skin and never spoke, there would be no way to tell us apart. And that’s because we are the same.

And if we are monotheistic, as Judaism, Christianity and Islam are, we believe in one God. We pray to the same deity, although we call him by different names it is the same God. The God of Abraham.

So, if we are all the same, and are our brother’s keeper, why do we hate our brothers and sisters so? Why do we fear them instead of loving them and watching out for their welfare? As God wishes us to do.

We do it because we are afraid. We want to blame others for the things we no longer have control over. We wake up with fear and we lie down at night fearing tomorrow. And knowing how afraid we really are politicians and pundits take advantage of our fears to convince us it’s not us, but THEM. And if we can just eliminate them everything would be alright once again.

They convince us that our president is not one of us. He’s not a Christian he’s a Muslim. He wasn’t born in “our” country. He doesn’t think like we do. What they are really saying is he’s black and we should return to the days when it was accepted belief that blacks were inferior to us. They want us to fight back against the inevitable; we’re going to lose our white Christian America. Get over it. We’ve already lost it in California and lo and behold, nothing has changed.

They convince us that corporations are just like people. When we know they’re not! People have consciences. Corporations do not. Corporations think only short term and they think only of making a profit and to hell with the people of this country or any country for that matter.

They convince us that contrary to the fact we got screwed by the big banks on Wall Street, that we shouldn’t add any new “big” government regulations, practically assuring all of us that we’ll probably get screwed again.

They convince us that even though the world’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart, demanded that their suppliers move their manufacturing to China so that they could offer lower prices to their worldwide customers, it was OK that millions of Americans lost their manufacturing jobs. And what is even more incredible is that the very people who were put out of work – still shop in their stores.

They convince us that we don’t want a government run healthcare system. But those on Medicare (including me) love it, and demand that legislators keep their hands off of it.

Obviously, I did a little venting of my frustrations here. But isn’t it time we put away our fears and began to see and love our brothers and sisters as ourselves? After all, wasn’t it God that wanted us to be our brother’s keeper?

With love,

Michael

A Power Greater Than You

16 Oct

Early morning every day, I have a conversation with God or the voice for God, the Holy Spirit, as described in A Course in Miracles. Or as I like to address Spirit, Infinite Spirit. The first thing I ask for is a perfect day. And what do I mean by a perfect day? A day where everything comes my way and one where everything goes my way. I am always open to receiving all the wondrous things the Universe holds in store for me.

Another thing I ask for is that I am always in the right place at the right time. Doing and saying the right things at the right time. I have asked for this for as long as I can remember. In my studies of A Course in Miracles I came upon the following quote on what to ask of God:

“Where would You have me go Father?”

“What would You have me do?”

“What would You have me say, and to whom?”

And then just let go.

They say that whatever problem you are facing; just turn it over to God. Let go of it. Let go of the worry. Let go of the outcome. Just let God, Spirit, the Universe do their work. But we don’t always do that and I’ve often wondered why.

I think its fear. We grow up believing we need to be self-reliant. That it is okay to ask God for the big things, but when it comes to our everyday lives and the things that cross our path daily, we should take the initiative and solve our own problems. Some of you may have grown up in homes where you were admonished not to ask God for the little everyday things. She was too busy and you were bothering her. Not so.

A Course in Miracles also says: “It is not that you ask God for too much, but that you ask him for too little.”

Each of you has a power greater than yourself who is ready and willing to bring you all that you ask for. Don’t think of yourself as too tough, too smart or too macho to reach out and develop this most wonderful relationship.

I guarantee you it will change your life.

My love always,

Michael

A Pet Peeve of Mine

14 Oct

This blog has nothing to do with fear or the process of overpowering fear. Fear causes us to experience anxiety and anger, but this really upsets me.

Several years back I was driving to meet with a client and had to cross one of the numerous bridges that span the San Francisco Bay. In this case it was the Benicia Bridge. As I was approaching mid-span traffic began slowing down, finally coming to a complete stop. As we waited an emergency helicopter landed and it became obvious that we had come upon an accident with one or more injured participants.

We sat there waiting for close to an hour while emergency crews secured the injured and cleared the roadway. Finally, traffic began moving and within several minutes I was one car away from paying my toll. The car in front of me was a Lexus driven by a woman I would guess to be in her mid to late forties. As she stopped next to the toll booth she put her car in park and leaned to her right as she began rummaging through her purse for the $5.00 toll. She looked and looked and looked until she finally found a five dollar bill and handed it to the toll collector. I sat there smiling. You see, I was taught that it is better to sit there with a smile on my face than to make obscene gestures with my hands.

Now that is the extreme. But for those who shop at Costco or any other membership store where it’s required to hand your membership card to the cashier this may have happened to you. The person in front of you empties their cart and then waits for the customer in front of them to finish their transaction. They then take a few steps forward until they’re face-to-face with the cashier who asks for their card. It is at that point that they begin rummaging through their purse or wallet in search of their card, while they mutter the words, “I know it’s here somewhere.” Did they not read the instructions? Did they get up in the morning thinking, “When I get to Costco today I wonder if they’ll ask for my membership card? They’ve always asked for it before, but maybe today will be different.” Yeah, that’s it. Today will be different. Duh?

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Michael, you always tell us to ask for what we want and the Universe will give it to us. Why didn’t you just ask for a quick check out? You’re right. I should have but I didn’t. But the delay is minor when compared to my other fear:

These people vote and breed.

Love,

Michael

What You Are Thinking is What You Are Feeling!

11 Oct

What Are You Thinking?

Let’s begin with some bad news. Social scientists report that you have around 60,000 thoughts in a day. Of which, 54,000 can be classified as negative. The remaining 6,000 thoughts are positive.

It’s been said that you are what you think, so do the math. For every positive thought you have in a day you think nine negative ones. NINE! No wonder our mantra is, “Same crap, different day!”

But it’s not just the trash talking thoughts about you that you thought today. You’re the sum total of every thought you have entertained going back to when you were a young child. And, every negative comment you’ve heard others say to you or about you.

Think you’re a klutz? You’ll be tripping over things. Think you’re stupid? You’re almost guaranteed to fail the test. Think you are a procrastinator? Nothing will ever get done. Think you have two left feet? You’ll never learn to dance. Think you’re poor? You’ll never get rich.

We become exactly what we think.

And Feeling?

Here’s some more bad news for you. If you are feeling sad, lonely, fearful, dejected, doubtful, worried – you can thank those 54,000 negative thoughts. Yes, it’s true. Negative thoughts create negative feelings.

I suggest everyone learn to monitor their thoughts and replace every negative thought with a positive one. Now that you know a negative thought will generate a negative feeling it is easy to monitor and change the wrong thought to the right one.

Change your thoughts and you change your mind. Change your mind and you change your life.

With Love,

Michael