How to Handle Criticism Without Melting Down, Clamming Up or Flipping Out

Do You Know Any [tag-tec]Difficult People[/tag-tec]?

Is it challenging for you to stay calm and present in the face of [tag-tec]critical people[/tag-tec]–you know those people that have something to say and can’t say it without raising their voice and trying to convince you that you’ve done something wrong.

Would you like to have options other than cringing, heading for the hills, or yelling back to defend yourself? If so, there are two places to look whenever you find yourself reacting in these ways: In Here and Out There.

What’s Going on “In Here?”

The space between your ears is the first place to look whenever you start experiencing discomfort in any situation. It’s where you’ll find the beliefs that are at the root of the problems you think are happening “out there.”

Have you ever seen someone parasurfing–using a small parasail to pull themselves across the waves on their surfboard? Your thoughts are like the parasail in the wind, the wind and surf is what’s going on “out there.”Kiteboarder

If you don’t know how to control the parasail, it’s unlikely that you’ll keep your balance, let alone control where you’re headed. And balance is critical if you want to gain control of yourself and the situation when someone is flipping out.

Falling – Then Catching Yourself – Then Falling – Then. . .

Imagine standing on the surfboard, perfectly balanced, with no force being applied to you, the surfboard or the parasail. Very Zen-like, but you’re not going anywhere are you?

The fun starts when the wind catches the parasail and you feel the drag of the water under the board. In that instance you’re falling forward–and unless you regain your balance quickly, you’re headed for a wipe out.

But then the wind shifts, the waves rise and you’re starting to fall again, and then you regain your balance, and then you’re falling, and then. . .

Keeping Your Balance

To maintain your emotional balance in the face of strong criticism, two things are essential. First, you need to recognize the moment that you start feeling discomfort of any sort. Second, you need to have the skills necessary to regain your emotional balance in a split second.

The first part–recognizing the moment you start feeling discomfort–is actually harder than it may sound.

In studies to prevent police violence, when officers were questioned closely, they recognized that there were typically five verbal exchanges that preceded violence.

Yet these highly trained individuals weren’t even conscious of these exchanges until they were probed. Once they recognized this they saw that the violence may have been avoided if any one of these exchanges had been handled a little bit differently.

Like these officers, you have an emotional guidance system that is highly tuned to alert you to the first moment that things are getting out of balance. And your emotions are much like the control lines on the parasail.

It’s by learning to accurately respond to the way you feel–the lines–that you gain control of your thinking–the parasail. This is how you keep your balance and control the direction the situation is heading.

Controlling What’s Happening Out There

Unfortunately, very few of us are trained how to use our emotional guidance system, how it relates to our thinking, or how emotions and thinking control our behavior.

It seems most of us grow up believing that we’re being dragged through life–into and out of one situation after another–helpless to do anything but hang on and hope for the best.

Or even worse: we’ve been misguided about what the control lines are and how to use them to control the parasail. Instead, we’ve learned that being “emotional” is a “bad thing,” “the best defense is a good offence,” “it’s a dog-eat-dog world,” and countless other beliefs that teach us to react rather than respond.

This leads us back to the second part–having the skills you need to regain your emotional balance in a split second. This is essentially the same as learning to control the parasail in the wind. It’s learning to consciously choose the beliefs that govern your thoughts, which often requires you to un-learn prior beliefs.

This is the process of developing what we call your Values Intelligence–your ability to know and apply what you value, regardless of your circumstance.

Without these skills–like the police officers we mentioned–it is unlikely you’ll recognize when things are going wrong, or be able to respond soon enough to prevent minor upsets from escalating into serious problems.

If you’d like to learn more about how you can develop your Values Intelligence take a look at our article:

And if your ready to do whatever it takes to stop melting down, clamming up, or flipping out, then enroll in The Art of Conscious Connection Online eCourse. It’s specifically designed to give you the In Here skills you need to start gaining more control over the direction of what’s happening Out There.

How to Achieve Your Goals – Disappointment Begone

Tag: Happiness,Motivation,Personal GrowthBeth and Neill

Are You Getting In Your Own Way When Attempting to Achieve Your Goals?

Did you ever really, really want something, and try very hard to get it, only to be let down in the end because you were unsuccessful? If so, did this leave you staring blankly the face of your own frustration and disappointment?

This happens to everyone, but there are things you can do that will help you stand up, dust yourself off and get back in action much more quickly.

When you focus on one thing and direct all of your energy toward this specific goal, it is easy to forget what it is that you really want–the bigger picture. Then, if the specific action doesn’t produce the results you want, you’re bound to have a difficult time of it.

Things just don’t always turn out exactly the way we hope or the way we want. But that doesn’t mean your efforts were wasted–and focusing on how disappointed you are probably isn’t the best way to handle your disappointment.

There is an Alternative

Another way to deal with that kind of common disappointment is to discover your underlying values. What were you hoping to experience that had you set that goal in the first place?

Understanding what you are truly trying to get can help you see that your efforts haven’t been in vain and that you actually might even be getting closer to your big picture goals than you were before.

“Life’s up and downs provide windows of opportunity to determine your values and goals. Think of using all obstacles as stepping stones to build the life you want.”
~ Marsha Sinetar

What’s Your Big Picture?think-big

Think about the ultimate outcome you’re hoping for, rather than the tiny steps that don’t really show the big picture. One thing we’ve found that helps is to create a conscious intention that will help guide you toward your big picture outcome.

When many of us think about creating intentions, we think about them in therms of a goal or specific outcome. When we say create an intention, we truly are talking about an intention for the big picture–why you want any short term goal–what you want to experience in your life.

Your big picture might be to experience more peace and harmony in your life. It could be to create more cooperation with your coworkers, or have more fun and experience more caring with your romantic partner.

The big picture related to any of these intentions may involve many people and could be achieved by many different strategies. But, when you create a clear values based intention, it opens the door to a wide variety of options that you might not have been aware of otherwise.

When you have many options available to you, you are much less likely to become disappointed if one particular strategy doesn’t work out.

Expert Relationship Advice?

Is “Expert Advice” Driving You Crazy?

expert-relationship-adviceWe received a question from one of our community members.

She’d read Dr. Kevin Leman’s [tag-tec]relationship advice [/tag-tec] that opposes[tag-tec] dating after being widowed or divorced [/tag-tec] until your youngest child is at least 18 years-old, and better yet, when they are 21 or 22 and the nest is empty.

Now, this is a youthful, 50-ish woman with children far from leaving the nest, so this would mean a very long wait for her.

After reading Leman’s opinion she became very discouraged and asked if we agreed that she should wait years before seeking companionship. What is a healthy person supposed to do when they long for companionship and the “expert” says forget about it?

Our Thoughts on the Matter

As soon as we read this we knew this blog post was needed. It’s not uncommon for people to wonder what to do when an expert’s opinion seems so at odds with their own. We’ve run into this before in relation to the advice of other experts–and our answer is always the same.

One saying we love is: The shortest path to a happy life is found through conscious choice. But you can’t make conscious choices–even about what you hear from the experts–unless you’re very clear about what’s deeply important to YOU.

Opinions Are Like Armpits

Why? Everyone has more than one and they tend to stink if you’re not careful with them.

What we mean by being careful with your opinions is that you are conscious of them, how you’ve come to hold them as true for you, and whether or not they serve you and others in your life.

Everyone has lots of opinions, and we all generate new ones all the time. We are opinion generating machines!

Every expert focuses on particular areas that are very important to them–areas they care about deeply. This has them come up with specific strategies to help themselves and others experience what is important to them about these areas.

Dr. Leman must deeply values particular things that caused him to come up with the strategy: Don’t date after the loss of the mate until the youngest child is at least 18.

This strategy may work great for you–or it may not work for you at all. But you can’t know whether it might work for you unless you know what you hope to create in life at a core level, both with your children and with an intimate companion.

Once you understand this, there may be many other strategies that will allow you to experience what’s important to you that don’t prevent you from dating.

So What Is “Our Opinion”?

Our opinion is that you are your own highest authority. You are best served by looking within to discover what you value most about each aspect of this rather complicated situation. One way to do this is to work through one of our free Values Exercise worksheet. You can find it at:

In this case we would suggest that you do a separate Values Worksheet for each aspect of the situation that’s important to you: your relationship with each child, what you hope for from an intimate relationship, etc. Then read our special report about creating conscious intentions. To find it go to:

Then, while keeping all of the various opinions and advice you’ve received in mind, choose which strategies would work best to help you experience what you value most. After doing this, it may turn out that Dr. Leman’s approach would work best for you, or you may come up with strategies that seem more appropriate for what you want to create in your life.

But you can’t know for sure until you hear from the most important expert–YOU!

Trust yourself. You are your own best expert. The rest of us are only here to support, suggest, and offer our ideas and strategies. The rest is up to you–and that’s the good news. 🙂

With much love and respect for who you are,
Beth and Neill

Great Leadership Start with Alignment

Alignment – Out of the Auto Shop and Into the Office

Last time you got your car tuned up, the mechanic probably talked to you about alignment. If you want to get the most performance out of your car, it’s important that your tires are all moving in the same direction and working together. Turns out that what is true for cars is also true for [tag-tec]effective business communication[/tag-tec]. [tag-tec]Business relationships[/tag-tec] will be most successful when everyone is aligned and moving in the same direction toward a mutual goal.Handshake and teamwork

Alignment goes beyond just improving your [tag-tec]communication skills[/tag-tec] or trying a new listening technique. Truly [tag-tec]effective communication[/tag-tec], whether it’s for business or some other interaction where you and others are working to create the best outcome, begins with alignment.

We Are All Inter-Connected

Here’s another way to look at it: generally we go about our own business, trying to achieve our personal results. We forget how inter-connected we are with other people. Our interconnections limit how far we can get toward our own desired result. With alignment, we share the same vision with our interconnected partners. We are much more likely to reach the desired outcome. Alignment opens the way for greater success and mutual satisfaction.

Start with Personal Alignment

The first step to creating alignment with someone else, is identifying, and expressing, what you feel is most important to you about the outcome you want. Here is where you’ll need to figure out the underlying values that support the outcome you hope for. Maybe you would like people in the office to show up 15 minutes before the start of a meeting. Searching for the hidden value might make you realize that consideration is very important to you, or you maybe you highly value preparedness. Don’t forget, no matter what the desired outcome, underneath something you value is motivating you to want that outcome.

Aligning with Others

Now that you recognize your own underlying values, you need to figure out what the other person or the group values. This is a discovery process so start by expressing the values you’ve realized are critical to you in your work environment. Find out how important those things are to the other people involved. Would your partner or partners be willing to search for ways to create that kind of environment? In the process of aligning your values, you are creating a shared vision. If you state your shared vision it might be something like increasing effectiveness, or enhancing productivity or working together more harmoniously. When you have defined your shared vision, you can start to discuss strategies to achieve the desired results.

Things to Remember for the Alignment Discussion:

Try to keep the alignment conversation as action-free as possible. This is a beginning phase, so you might want to start by agreeing with the other person that you will not get bogged down with the specifics of what you want or how you’re going to get what you want.

Once your shared vision is established, you will have plenty of time to discuss how to reach your goals. Before you begin, agree that talking about the failures of the past isn’t effective during this phase. (Examining the past can be useful because it might help you to understand values that may have been lacking, but avoid assigning fault or using it to justify your skepticism.)

Here are some other valuable pieces to add to the conversation:

A commitment to stay away from negative criticism or judgments;
An openness to explore strategies that you both can agree on;
An agreement to celebrate all wins that result from this conversation.

Now that you are sharing the same vision and you’re working toward the same outcome, the big picture becomes clear. Alignment makes it easier to produces results that are enjoyable for everyone.

With a shared vision, everyone will be traveling along the road of cooperation and teamwork with far fewer potholes than you encountered before. Alignment leads to increased productivity and result in rewarding outcomes for everyone involved.

We would love to hear what you think. Please comment below.

How to Take Your Anger By The Ear

Tag: Anger Management,Personal GrowthBeth and Neill


Can Anger Be Useful?

When you find yourself getting angry, do you make an effort to stop, or to “control” your anger? If so, this quote is for you.

“Anger is a signal, and one worth listening to.”
~ Harriet Lerner

Emotions happen for a reason. Whether you are happy, sad, angry, or whatever, that emotion is trying to tell you something. [tag-tec]Anger [/tag-tec] is one of those emotions that happens to be more difficult to listen to because it causes you to feel uncomfortable. And from a very young age most of us were taught that uncomfortable feelings must be controlled.

Think about this: instead of [tag-tec]controlling your anger [/tag-tec]–talk to it–try to understand what it’s attempting to tell you. Asked yourself: “What do I value that is missing in this situation?”

Practice Taking Your Anger By The Ear

When you practice listening to your anger and discover the underlying causes of it, you will be more likely to avoid straying down the path to hell where anger often takes you.

Any emotion, even anger, is a signal that can help guide your life. When you listen, you can hear a brighter future calling you down an different path.

Once you get the hang of  listening to your anger as a guide, you no longer need to wait for full-blown anger before getting off the path to hell. Pay close attention when you first notice those early feelings of discomfort. This is a great time to began questioning yourself about what’s missing and what you need that will help create the happiness you want your life.

wishing you peace and happiness,
Beth and Neill

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