5 Things We Can Learn From ANGRY People…John Page Burton

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Is it just me or does it seem like there are a lot of angry people buzzing around our planet? Most angry people are two faced. They exhibit a public face and a private face. For example, the other day a man driving a high end vehicle, dressed in a suit and tie swerved his car and nearly ran me off the road. When I pulled up next to him at the stoplight and gave him a puzzled look, he promptly reached down under his seat and with a smirk on his face, brandished a hand gun! I certainly don’t care to do business with him! My social media streams feature countless posts “attacking” religious choice, sexual preferences, race, political affiliation or anything else that is determined different from the posters belief system. One of my clients recently asked me “why so many people seem so angry”? It’s a reasonable question. Many are quick to blame their anger on the economy, world problems, political agenda’s and even technology. I routinely interact with people who “ooze pissed off”. When I ask them why they are so angry it’s not uncommon for them to snap back… “I’m not angry”. Be honest, all of us get angry from time to time, it’s human nature.  As a coach, I routinely see the effects of unresolved anger. Divorce, illness, job loss and family challenges are some of the unfortunate consequences of unresolved anger. I have identified 5 characteristics commonly found in angry people. Also, here are five things I have learned on my own journey as a “recovering angry person”…

Acceptance. Because they have never completely accepted themselves, angry people struggle to accept others. Most of the angry people I have known share the common characteristic of being fearful people. Angry people have an above average fear of failure and are prone to anger when they find themselves roaming outside of their comfort zone. Angry people are quick to judge others because it is easier than facing their own fear.  I have learned to face my fears when they come up and to give myself some grace when things don’t happen EXACTLY the way I want them to. I remind myself that life tends to happen when we are making other plans.
Neurotic. Angry people tend to be compulsive worriers.  “95% of what we worry about never happens and the other 5% never looks as bad as we envisioned”. This quote is a reminder to focus on what we can control rather than on what may or may not happen at a future point in time. I have learned to stay in the present moment as much as humanly possible. I problem solve from my past, I create in the present.
Grudges. Angry people tend to hold grudges. My mother had a falling out with her two brothers over the disbursement of my grandmothers estate. Tragically, my mother passed away having not spoken to her brothers for over thirty years. Grudges rob us of our joy and over time, holding grudges may bring about physical or emotional health challenges. I have learned to speak my truth and move on. I remind myself that resentment only robs me of the energy I need to move toward a compelling future.
Reactive. Angry people tend to be reactive people. This is where the saying “they really have a chip on their shoulder” comes into play. Last evening I ran into a person who unbeknownst to me has been holding a long standing grudge toward me for not continuing to donate money to the charitable organization they represent. When I explained that I had decided to donate elsewhere because I had not received a thank you note or receipt for my previous donations they bristled and began to make it personal. “You misspelled my name when you signed my book” was one of the many “digs” this person leveled at me in an attempt to dodge any role they may have played in my decision to donate elsewhere.  In short, reactive people usually hear what they want to hear. Rather than be proactive and seek to understand they tend to pounce! As a “recovering reactive person”, I have learned to count to ten before offering my thoughts. “Seek to understand, then to be understood”. (Covey)
Yesterday. Angry people spend a great deal of time living in the past. They robotically recount the details of past hurts and disappointments and carry much of this anger into their present reality. Someone who disagrees with or upsets them may suddenly take on the identity of an unfavorable person from their past. A current spouse begins to remind them of an abusive parent, a new love interest does something that reminds them of a former spouse, an innocent mistake by a long time friend instantly becomes a betrayal of epic proportion or an admonishment from an employer becomes the voice of a demanding, perfectionist parent. I have learned that dwelling on the past only distracts me from the present. I get to CHOOSE what I focus on and I CHOOSE to focus on NOW!
We all get angry, it’s actually good for us to let off a little steam from time to time. If we find ourselves becoming an angry, ticking time bomb, it’s time for a check up from the neck up! A good coach or therapist can help us clear the clutter and allow us to live the joyful life we deserve.
As always, I look forward to your thoughts and feedback. Cheers!
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5 Childhood Messages That Keep Many Of Us Stuck…John Page Burton

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Within the personal growth industry there is a widely held belief that 65% of our belief system is formed by the time we are 8 years old and by age 18 over 90% of our belief system has been firmly established. Do we believe the world is a scary, unjust place or do we believe it’s a safe place with unlimited opportunity? Are we bold or fearful? Do we ask questions or do we simply accept things at face value? Do we live with passion or are we complacent? Are we willing to take risks or do we prefer to stay in our comfort zone? Are we tolerant or intolerant of people who hold different beliefs than we do? The answers to these questions tend to be a direct reflection of the messages we received during our formative years. Having interacted with thousands of people in my capacity as a life and business coach, I have been able to identify 5 childhood messages that have kept many of my clients from achieving the results they truly desired. On a personal note, I spent years “re-wiring” my own belief system, much of which was a direct result of the messages I received throughout childhood. Below are 5 childhood messages that are keeping many of us stuck.
THE MESSAGES…
*Shut Up, unless you have something important to say! Many of us have still not figured out what constitutes important? We remain silent even when we know that something doesn’t feel right. We “keep our mouths shut” in abusive relationships, unfair work environments and in our dealings with friends and family. Over time, “going along to get along” has become our way of being. Our challenge is to begin using our voice in a respectful manner whenever we have something to say or add to a conversation. Each time we verbalize what is on our mind we are building muscles of courage and most importantly we are honoring ourselves.  This is an important first step toward self empowerment.
*Quit being so selfish! In my book, Wisdom Through Failure, I refer to a character named Helpful Harry. Harry has spent most of his life doing everything for everyone and very little for himself. Harry is a people pleaser. Harry is also an ANGRY GIVER! Whenever Harry does something for himself he immediately feels guilty and begins rationalizing his behavior. Harry will buy a beautiful new tie and then return it to the store an hour later because he feels guilty for spending money that “should be going to something else”. Harry’s challenge is  to become self centered. When we are self centered we are choosing to nurture ourselves and we are focused on doing what is in our best interests. This does not mean that we have to quit being generous, it means that we prioritize our needs. We can start out by doing something nice for ourselves once a week and build from there. Being self centered is not selfish.
*Why can’t you be more like your sibling? The message most of us received was that we were not good enough. Many of us are still comparing our success to the perceived success of others. For example, when I self published my first book, Wisdom Through Failure, I found myself comparing my book to every other author in the personal development arena. Once published, I obsessively tore through my book looking for every error, criticized myself endlessly and drove my wife Diana crazy with my never ending revisions. I was blind to my own content because I was comparing my work to that of Deepak Chopra, Tony Robbins and Jack Canfield. When I stopped comparing myself to these “heavy weights” and focused on creating the best version of my book an interesting thing happened…my book gained traction and has become very well received by a worldwide audience. Our challenge is to run our own, unique, race! Comparing ourselves to others is a flawed practice because we really don’t know what has taken or is taking place on the other person’s journey.
*Quit acting so stupid! The message many of us internalized was that we were not smart. Far too many have become chronic underachievers due mainly to a fear of doing or saying something that could be perceived as foolish. In my practice, I routinely work with clients who are able to breakthrough this limiting behavior by creating a new story and hence a new reality around the intelligent, innovative people they actually are. Our challenge is to replace a past lie with a new truth.  A good coach can help you achieve this breakthrough by effectively guiding you to your new truth.
*Quit being so emotional! As a coach, I interact with clients who are very comfortable showing their emotions and others who will fight tooth and nail to keep them in lock down. Many men, including myself, have been admonished since childhood that showing our emotions is a sign of weakness. “Real men don’t cry”, “don’t be such a wimp”, “toughen up” and “quit acting like a girl” were all phrases I heard  growing up. On the other hand, it is socially acceptable for women to show their emotions, in fact it is expected. Recently, I was involved in an intervention designed to remove a wife and three small children from an abusive home. The husband, a former college football star and successful business owner had been arrested for a significant act of domestic violence. Everyone who knew the couple seemed shocked and most characterized them as such a “happy couple”. What they didn’t know was that the husband had developed a significant drinking problem shortly after his brothers death, had become very distant, refused to talk with his wife about his mood changes and finally one night when she pressed him to talk to her he broke her jaw, 2 ribs and dislocated her shoulder. In a subsequent conversation she admitted that she had never seen him cry or discuss his feelings as it pertained to his brothers death or any other challenge in his life. This is a tragic example of what can happen when a person doesn’t release their emotions in real time. Being an emotionally healthy adult involves being able to release our emotions in healthy ways. Our challenge is to give ourselves permission to share our feelings rather than hold them in to a point of combustion. A good coach or therapist can help us design a healthy strategy for managing our emotions.
In reality, most of us also received some very empowering messages designed to encourage and inspire us to become the best version of ourselves. I welcome you to take a look at any areas in your life where you feel stuck. Are any of these childhood messages contributing factors to your frustration? If so, it may be time to take the proactive first step toward creating a brand new story to tell yourself.
As always, I look forward to your thoughts and feedback! #myindustry

SHIFT Happens! Change Is A CHOICE…John Page Burton

“We problem solve from the past, we create in the present”. I tend to feel guilty, frustrated and angry when I choose to visit the past. I feel happy, fulfilled, energized and inspired when I choose to reside in the present. All of us drag around baggage from the past, some of us require two bellhops! Freedom comes when we take ownership of anything we regret or feel badly about, acknowledge that we did the best we could with what insight we had at the time and we move on. MENTAL SHIFT=FREEDOM. “When we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change”. Over the years, I have coached hundreds of clients who formed their identity around an event(s) that happened somewhere in their past. “I’m an incest survivor”, “I’m the child of an alcoholic parent” or “I had to fight for everything I ever got” are some of the more common ways many of us choose to stay connected to our past. The key word is CHOOSE. I know that for years I chose to identify with my past, which contributed to a great deal of discomfort and what I refer to as my “lost years”.  Once I consciously made the decision to “stop identifying with my past” my life began to take on a much deeper meaning.

SHIFT Happens…

Self Awareness. We begin to fully embrace who we are TODAY the moment we make the conscious choice to stop identifying with the negative messages/labels our parents, teachers, siblings or friends unconsciously bestowed on us. When we come to realize the identity of “our youth” doesn’t serve us as adults we have taken the first action step toward creating a permanent SHIFT. With self awareness comes a profound sense of personal responsibility. We can relish our NEW role as the chief architect of our life.

Habits. We can now begin creating new habits that will support our SHIFT. The most important one is our habit of “self talk”.  Do we speak in past or present tense? Is our “self talk” uplifting or self deprecating?  This single distinction/habit is a game changer in the world of SHIFT. Our growing self awareness encourages us to pay closer attention to our “self talk”. We understand and embrace the philosophy of “garbage in, garbage out”.

Independence. Freed from our past programming, we are now solely responsible for creating and designing our NEW life plan. In other words, we have given ourselves permission to paint our own, unique mosaic. At first, this can be daunting because we have always relied on the opinions and direction of others.  The key is to jump in and start applying the first brush strokes on our new canvas. As they say “try it, you’ll like it”.

Faith.  As we begin experiencing results from our new SHIFT, we are establishing a core FAITH in our ability to create the results we desire. Over time, our “muscles of faith” will grow stronger and stronger until they become our new foundation. The most effective way to build muscles of faith is through a willingness to take risks. The bigger the risk the greater our faith must be and this is how permanent SHIFT HAPPENS.

Tenacity. Each time we experience a breakthrough in our personal or professional lives we have effectively established a new point A. We have created a positive reference point that we can reflect back on, one that gives us the courage to move toward our next challenge. Every significant breakthrough in life began with a decision to make a SHIFT.  A SHIFT is the result of our tenacious desire to do and be more.

Until next time….Here’s to SHIFT!

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The Benefit of Checking Into REHAB…John Page Burton

If you’re the type of person who sets big goals and desires to play an above average game of life you’re more than likely aware of the benefits gained from a trip to rehab. I recommend checking in quarterly. I like to refer to rehab as my “check up from the neck up”. Similar to residential real estate, my rehab process reflects a period of restoration. I keep what is working and remove or modify what is not. My trip to rehab is designed to move me closer to my stated objectives both personally and professionally. Let’s check into rehab…

REHAB…What really happens behind closed doors?

Review. Our first step is to take an in depth look at what has and hasn’t worked during the previous quarter. Did we reach the goals we set? If not, why? In order to reach our objectives we must have a strategic plan in place along with a reliable system to measure our progress. We must be willing to make course corrections when necessary. Conducting a comprehensive review enables us to analyze our past performance and then chart a new course for the upcoming quarter, a course that is based heavily on our past success. Heed the adage…”if it ain’t broken, don’t try and fix it”.

Edit. What needs to be changed, modified or re-designed? If something isn’t working it’s often time to make a directional shift. Having edited the previous quarter we can now establish new objectives and create a detailed strategy for accomplishing our goals.

Habits. What habits are keeping us from reaching our stated objectives?. What new habits can we establish that will support our vision? For example, we may find that we have created the habit of avoidance in a specific area of our business. This habit may be what is keeping us from reaching our full potential. Armed with this awareness we can begin establishing new habits, habits that will move us closer to our stated objective and away from our avoidance strategies.

Action. What actions do we need to take in order to meet our objectives? Action leads to results. Massive action leads to massive results. I refer to this as the law of action. When we hit the proverbial wall or find ourselves experiencing doubt or fear the ONLY way we will experience a BREAKTHROUGH is by engaging in massive action. Action is the great equalizer.

Brainstorm. What new, innovative ideas will we incorporate into our next 90 day burst of focused activity? What resources (material and human) can we enroll into our action plan? Who can we add to our mastermind group that will bring additional insight to our mission? (If you don’t have a mastermind group it is a good idea to start one) Brainstorming is inspiring and can be extremely beneficial as we grow our business. Remember, the quality of our life experience is a direct reflection of the questions we ask.

I gain tremendous value from my trips to rehab and my hope is that you will find your experience fruitful as well.
As always, I look forward to your thoughts and feedback.

Constructive Chaos…John Page Burton

We have all gone through chaotic periods where everything around us seemed to be blowing up, changing form, dying off or simply no longer served us. The irony of chaos is that it presents us with the opportunity to see things more clearly. In what I once described as the “worst year of my life”, I lost my father to Cancer, went through a divorce, closed my business and moved to a new city. Chaos was my constant companion. A decade removed from this set of challenges, I can now clearly see how these experiences provided me with the “constructive chaos” necessary to move me to the next level of my personal development. Not only did I learn and grow from my chaos but it propelled me toward the amazing life I enjoy today!

LIVING IN A CHAOTIC STATE…

Disorder- Whenever we go through a chaotic period, things tend to fall into disarray. Many of us are so engaged in the chaos at hand that we end up creating additional chaos in other areas of our lives. For example, our eating, sleeping and exercise habits may be effected which in turn creates chaos in our bodies. Our inability to explicitly communicate our feelings may cause chaos in our relationships. Disorder feeds off of chaos.

Confusion- Common to chaos is an initial state of confusion. Our world has been significantly disrupted and we’re not quite sure what is going on? The recent Boston Marathon bombing illustrates chaos and confusion on a grand scale. Whenever a traumatic event occurs in our personal lives, most of us find ourselves in a temporary state of confusion, followed by a degree of chaos. The greater the trauma, the greater the potential for chaos. Trauma of any kind represents a “bomb” going off in our lives, leaving us with a profound feeling of disorientation.

Turmoil- During chaotic times, it is common to experience both internal and external turmoil. Little things can agitate us for no apparent reason. We may become agitated by a familiar scent or an off hand comment from a well meaning friend. During periods of chaos most of us are wound pretty tight and it doesn’t take much to ignite our fuse.

Sadness- Whenever our world has been turned upside down it is normal to feel a profound sense of sadness. Our dream of the perfect marriage, long term career, “forever friends” or a healthy body may have been shattered. When this happens we are bound to feel sad and then many of us get MAD!

Anger- Anger is a common emotion in the world of chaos. Some of the more common subjects of our anger include, God, spouses, employers, doctors, siblings and friends. At first, we are likely to blame them for the confusion and chaos we are experiencing. For example, if we receive a less than favorable health report regarding ourselves or a loved one, we may become angry at the doctor and then transfer that anger toward God and then begin expressing anger toward ourselves. Our life has been turned upside down and we are pissed off! Anger is a natural response to feeling out of control.

SURVIVING & BENEFITING FROM CHAOS…

Experiential growth- Chaos can be very enlightening, provided we learn from our experiences. Because we have “survived chaos” we are better equipped to handle future chaos and believe me, it will come!

Communicating our true feelings- A chaotic period of time or a specific experience often makes us better communicators. For example, having recently lost a close friend to a tragic accident, I now make it a point to always tell my friends and family how much they mean to me. Prior to my friends accident, I took a casual approach in sharing my feelings of love and appreciation.

Profitable- Some of the most chaotic periods in my life have also been the most profitable. The wisdom I gained and the lessons I learned during the chaos caused me to make better life and business decisions.

Change agent- Chaos is almost always a catalyst for change. Chaos is uncomfortable and when we get uncomfortable most of us tend to start moving about and when we start moving about we discover the bigger life that lies outside ourselves.

Paying it forward- As a “chaos survivor” we are now in a position to provide encouragement to others. I have built a very successful coaching practice because of the skills and strategies I have learned as a “chaos survivor”. Everyday I have an opportunity to to share what I have learned with those who are seeking answers.

CONSTRUCTIVE CHAOS…

Earlier, I shared a very chaotic period in my life. During this particular period of chaos I learned to practice compassion. My dad and I enjoyed a chance to finally connect on a heart level and when he transitioned we were at peace. My divorce effectively ended my run as a serial rescuer. I created the space to connect with my authentic self which opened the door to meet the incredible women I have spent the last six years with. Although at first it was emotionally and financially challenging, closing my business allowed me to determine what I truly desired to do. I followed my passion and now earn my living as a writer and life coach. I survived the chaos, gained clarity, grew as a person and during the process I learned how to show myself some grace. In short, my chaos turned out to be a very constructive period in my life.

As always, I look forward to your thoughts and feedback!

God Is Empathy, Empathy Is the Language Of God…John Page Burton

Recently, my friend Judy suggested that I write an article on empathy. She shared her belief that “empathy is the natural step forward as the Ego gives way to a much more deserving higher power”. I agree with Judy and believe that the Ego is very threatened by our natural inclination to be empathetic. Let’s take a closer look at the word empathy and what I believe it means to be empathetic.

Many of us tend to confuse the word empathy with the word sympathy. They are similar sounding words with very different meanings. Empathy means that we understand what another is feeling because we have experienced it firsthand and can readily place ourselves in their shoes. Empathy is a very personal one on one experience. On the other hand, sympathy is comfort and assurance that is usually offered by someone who does not have an experiential understanding of what the other person is going through. Sympathy is often rendered via a 3rd party experience. “I can only imagine what you must be feeling because my dad went through the same type of experience 10 years ago” is an example of a very common expression of sympathy. Although the sympathizer is trying to be of comfort, it is not relational and therefore not empathetic. Our personal relationship with God is a one on one experience which explains why so many of us can find a profound sense of peace during times of adversity. To know God is to experience empathy in it’s purest form.

The Ego keeps us separate from God, empathy brings us closer.

Equality. Because I have walked in your shoes, I am familiar with what you are experiencing. Our communication will be deeper and I may find myself absorbing your pain as if it were my own. We share an emotional bond.

Morals. True empathy demands that our standards, beliefs and behaviors serve the greater good. We are counted on to stand up for those who crave our understanding, love and support. We speak our truth and take compassionate action.

Patience. Empathy requires patience and understanding. We don’t have a timetable.

Awareness.  God has given each of us the power to heal. This awareness helps us find the right words, take the right actions and summon the strength to serve as a true intercessor.

Trials. Through our own life experiences we learn to relate to others on a more intimate level. Our trials and our breakthroughs often provide inspiration during someones darkest hour. In the realm of pain, our greatest comfort often derives from the guidance of those who have gone before us.

Humility. I am not able to practice empathy until I have mastered humility. Humility spells death to the Ego. It is no longer about me, it is about comforting you.

Yielding. When we are yielding we are not rigid or set in our expectations. We are able to go with the natural flow of life which is the energy of God. We are able to encourage others to embrace this God energy as they travel down their path to healing. Through our own trials we have learned that “what we resist will persist” and therefore it is imperative to let go, let God.

God is empathy, empathy is the language of God.

I look forward to your thoughts and feedback.