5 “NEEDS” That Stifle Our Personal & Professional Growth…John Page Burton

We all have needs. We need air, water and food to survive. Most of us have a need to feel safe, secure, loved and cared for.  I believe we can all agree that these are healthy needs. Unfortunately, not all of our needs are healthy. Many are destructive and can significantly stifle our personal and professional growth? Let’s take a closer look at 5 unhealthy needs and what we can do to create a shift.

1. The Need To Be Right. This need causes people to become argumentative, confrontational, condescending and vindictive. This need is Ego driven. The need to be right can be very polarizing in our personal and professional relationships. A person needing to be right struggles to consider any point of view that differs from than their own. Growth occurs when we become open and accepting of NEW and DIFFERENT beliefs, opinions and perspectives. It’s not as important to be right as it is to be respectful in our communication with others.

2. The Need For Constant Approval. This person expects to be acknowledged for everything they do. This juvenile, insecurity driven need is emotionally draining to spouses, friends, family members and co-workers. If you don’t acknowledge and shower them with praise they often become angry and resentful. Growth occurs when we learn to be humble. Our ACTIONS will always speak much louder than our words. We must learn to accept unsolicited praise, say thank you and move on. Nobody likes being around a person who “gloats” or demands acknowledgement.

3. The Need To Be Noticed. A person driven by this need is heavily influenced by appearances and is always in search of a new audience. They tend to base their self worth on material possessions and will go to great lengths to “flaunt their stuff”.  Characteristically, they are loud, boisterous communicators. They will do anything to grab the spotlight and they love to be seen as the “star of the show”. When they feel ignored, many will throw “adult temper tantrums” in a last ditch effort to satisfy their craving for attention. Growth occurs when we realize that substance is much sexier than stuff. People who crave notoriety tend to be seen as “show offs and braggarts”. People who exhibit humility and gratitude are generally seen as intelligent, trustworthy, responsible people.

4. The Need For Control. This need is fueled by insecurity and fear. Control is an avoidance strategy. At a subconscious level, the controller is simply avoiding their own self doubt and fear by focusing their energy on “fixing” and “manipulating” the people around them. Controllers are disappointed, frustrated and angry most of the time because rarely if ever do the people around them live up to their rigid expectations. “Control freaks” have a deep seated fear of being out of control and will do everything they can to control their environment. Growth occurs when we release our death grip on control, face our fears, embrace and accept failure, learn to delegate, appreciate that most people don’t desire to be “fixed” and commence on a dedicated journey toward self acceptance.

5. The Need To Be Needed. In my book Wisdom Through Failure, I refer to this need as “Helpful Harry Syndrome”. Helpful Harry routinely prioritizes the needs of others before his own. At first glance this seems to be a noble trait but in reality it is an avoidance strategy. Eventually, Helpful Harry becomes an angry giver as he comes to realize that many of his needs are not being met. The need to be needed does not encourage self sufficiency. In other words, “Helpful Harry’s” are teaching their children, spouses and employees to rely on others first. Growth occurs when we establish the habit of meeting our own needs before we focus on meeting the needs of others. With that being said, it is important to prioritize the needs of small children, those with disabilities and of course the elderly. We must encourage our adult children, spouses and employees to become problem solvers and doers. Admittedly, many may consider this a “self centered” approach, however, in the long term it will pay big dividends.

The beauty of personal growth is that ALL of us are a work in progress. It is VERY safe to say that none of us will ever achieve total mastery. We are human! Our goal is to recognize a familiar program when it begins to run and make an immediate shift toward our truth. With each shift we lay the foundation for our NEW REALITY.  As a wise man once said…SHIFT HAPPENS!

As Always, I look forward to your thoughts and feedback.

REVENGE…It just feels good! John Page Burton

For many of us, thoughts of revenge feel pretty darn good! “I’ll get even with that no good jerk, nobody is going to wrong ME and get away with it” is a common utterance of someone immersed in a revenge mindset. Thoughts of getting revenge tend to get our blood pumping and give us a new sense of purpose, one which enables us to summon all of our plotting and planning skills and formulate a misguided strategy to right the “perceived wrong”. We are determined to channel all of our frustration and anger into one big, tightly wound ball of hateful energy and let it fly! It feels GREAT to visualize the misery we will inflict on that no good, scum sucking weasel! Sound familiar?

At one time or another all of us have harbored thoughts of revenge. For some, these thoughts have become all consuming and are clearly effecting a person’s physical and mental health. Fortunately, most of us fail to act on our thoughts of revenge or else our prison system would be more taxed than it currently is. We create a great deal of internal turmoil each and every time we harbor thoughts of revenge. Let’s be honest, people do things to us that make us angry. They may hurt our feelings, cause us financial harm or in many cases they subject us to significant physical and emotional abuse. We want our perpetrator to feel the same degree of pain “they have caused us”. We repeatedly visualize how good it will feel to “give them a heavy dose of their own medicine”. Thoughts of revenge allow us to seemingly regain the power that has been taken away from us. The Ego is LOVING every minute of this drama and is more than willing to add more fuel to an already raging fire. Revenge is a verb. Revenge is action! The Ego unconditionally supports our feelings of anger, rage, hurt, jealousy and disappointment.

Revenge presents itself either explicitly or implicitly. Explicit revenge is action based and immediate. For example, your dog just bit my kid. I am going to load my gun and shoot your dog. Implicit revenge is the most common form of revenge and thankfully for humanity it remains primarily in our mind. We consistently visualize what we will do to the person who “wronged us” and we create imaginary scenarios that depict the suffering and humiliation they will endure from our callous acts of revenge. Explicit revenge is clear and concise with an eye for an eye being the only rule of this game. Implicit revenge is a slow and painful emotional process that causes the person who is immersed in thoughts of revenge to relive their drama over and over. In the end they put themselves through twice as much emotional pain as anything inflicted by the perpetrator. The object of “implicit revenge” is oblivious to how much energy is being devoted to them and therefore the only person continuing to suffer is the person consumed with the thoughts of revenge. “The wheels on the bus go round and round”. Implicit revenge rarely leaves the planning stage. Over time, the intensity usually wears off and the person seeking revenge moves on to their next psychological drama.

3 questions that can help us manage our thoughts of revenge…

Did they really do something significant to us? Asking ourselves this question causes us to pause and ponder. This process can bring us to a more reasonable state of mind. Nobody is worth ruining our physical or mental health over. It is also a good idea to ask ourselves if the object of our anger is really just a trigger for something else that is lurking below the surface? On several occasions I have placed a target in the middle of someones chest for no other reason than they were available in the moment. My anger and frustration from another “perceived wrong” had been lying in wait, impatiently waiting for the perfect moment to strike!

Will I become a better person if I act out my revenge? The answer is always a resounding NO. Revenge never has a positive outcome. Revenge is an unhealed response that fosters more negative energy. The only way can we can truly grow and become better people is to take the high road and move on. If someone steals from us we can press charges and let the legal system take it from there. If our spouse cheats on us we can choose to seek marital counseling or we can hire a divorce attorney. Taking the law into our own hands and dealing out the punishment of our choosing is not a wise option. NEVER ACT OUT REVENGE UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF DRUGS AND ALCOHOL!!!

What would happen if I simply let it go? We must trust the universal law that says… what goes around will come around. It may not come around the way we want it to but it eventually will come around. Letting go is hard to do because of the Ego’s need to control. As I wrote in my book, Wisdom Through Failure, I experienced issues with a neighbor over the non stop barking of his dogs. Eventually our HOA manager was able to get it to stop. We recently arrived at our mountain home (neighbor with barking dogs) to find that 3 of our upstairs windows had been shot out with a pellet gun. I can’t prove that he was involved, however, none of the other homes in our neighborhood had any pellet holes in their glass. Being that he is the only person who I had any type of conflict with, the odds seem reasonably high that he knows something about it. It’s his Karma. I filed a police report for insurance purposes and released it to the universe. FYI…I am human and had a wealth of vengeful ideas rolling around in my head but chose to not act on them.

Thoughts of revenge are a normal response when we feel we have been wronged. Holding onto these thoughts for any length of time is unhealthy. Carrying out acts of revenge is not only unhealthy but can have dangerous results. When we were children our parents encouraged us to count to ten when we were angry. The purpose of this exercise was to allow us to pause and ponder rather than respond impulsively. I contend that this is still some very solid wisdom each of us should strive to follow.

As always, I look forward to your thoughts and feedback.
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Is Your Family “Ruining Your Life?”…John Page Burton

“John, my family is ruining my life” is something a friend of mine said during a recent conversation. I encouraged him to explain what he meant (I was thinking to myself, this should be interesting). He began a “long winded rant”, highlighting the issues he had with his brother, sister, mom, deceased cousin and 93 year old grandmother. I asked him how things were going with his own wife and kids and he said, “man with all this other crap going on It doesn’t seem like I get to spend much time with them”. My friend is so heavily invested in “righting” the past that he is completely missing out on NOW. Sadly, many of us find ourselves in a similar scenario.

Family of origin, the age old dilemma…

All of us have experienced conflicts with members of our family of origin. Our goal is not to carry around so much baggage that we need to employ two bellhops! It’s draining. I work with numerous clients who are still experiencing conflicts with parents or siblings over things that took place decades ago. RELEASE IT…holding onto anger is bad for our physical and emotional health! Many of us operate under the illusion that because we are “related” we must like each other. The key word here is RELATE. In other words, if we don’t RELATE to someone (even family) it is perfectly normal to have minimal contact with them. Ask yourself this question…is the family member I have a challenge with the type of person I would desire to spend time with if we were not related? The answer is probably NO. Many of us feel “obligated” to spend time with family members who treat us poorly because “after all, they’re family”. This is a very misguided belief. I believe we should treat everyone with dignity and respect and we should expect the same in return. Relationships are a two way street. Many of us are still desperately seeking approval from our parents and siblings. We desire to prove to them once and for all that we are someone of value and importance. I routinely ask clients..”so how is that going for you?” People can change but most won’t because true change requires a significant commitment to personal growth as well as a dramatic shift in perspective.

Extended Family is a good thing…

I grew up an only child. My closest relatives lived 2500 miles away which meant I only saw them every few years. I was well aware of the “family feud” between my father and his younger brother which stemmed from what my uncle determined to be my fathers “misguided decision” to move “out west”. My mother and grandmother also routinely bickered back and forth regarding my mothers “hidden agenda” which ultimately “tore the family a part”. In reality, my parents received a great job offer in Colorado and chose to take it. Their decision obviously made my fathers family of origin very uncomfortable. The drama between my uncle and my father was never resolved and both men died without saying a proper goodbye. I am glad we moved “out west” as I fear I might have lost my mind “back east”.

Due in large part to the dysfunction within my own family of origin, my extended family has always had a profound influence in my life. Over the years I have enjoyed numerous brotherly and sisterly type relationships and I have sought advice and mentoring from a variety of older, wiser, friends. We don’t get to choose our family of origin but we do get to choose who we include in our extended family. With that being said, I always encourage my friends and clients to keep things in perspective and strive to work through and let go of past hurts or disappointments that may be keeping them from enjoying a healthier relationship with their family of origin. At the same time I encourage them to also cultivate, embrace and enjoy their extended family relationships.

Some tips for creating a healthier relationship with our family of origin…

*Focus on YOU! When we focus on becoming better, faster and stronger we leave very little time for trivial pursuits. When we find ourselves angry or upset with a member of our family of origin it is a clear sign that we need to get back to work on ourselves. When we surround ourselves with positive, uplifting people, we are able to insulate ourselves from mindless, baseless, drama. WHERE OUR FOCUS GOES, OUR ENERGY FLOWS!

*Prioritize what is important and don’t apologize for it. When a member of our family of origin DEMANDS our attention or time we can politely say NO. When any type family of origin drama begins interfering with our PRESENT responsibilities it is important to stand our ground and remain secure in our personal power. Remember, WE PROBLEM SOLVE FROM THE PAST, WE CREATE IN THE PRESENT!

*Establish healthy boundaries. We teach people how to treat us. Just because someone is “family” doesn’t mean we have to accept ill treatment or abuse. GUILT is an instrument that is often used to control people and situations. When we fail to establish boundaries we are effectively telling the other person that it is acceptable to walk all over us and THEY WILL! Boundaries establish the ground rules of how we expect to be treated NOW and in the FUTURE. We should never feel guilty about respecting ourselves enough to establish healthy boundaries.

Our family of origin can only “ruin our life” if we allow it! We get to CHOOSE how we desire to be in relationship with them or if we choose to be in relationship at all. This is a very empowering way to live our lives and yet at first it can feel uncomfortable. If you are struggling with a family of origin relationship I encourage you to begin taking the steps above as they will help you distance yourself from the drama.

As always I look forward to your thoughts and feedback.

Releasing Our Control, One Surrender At A Time…John Page Burton

Human beings have an insatiable need for control. Many of us have paid and will continue to pay a steep emotional price because of our control dramas. We find ourselves angry, frustrated, resentful or even vindictive when things don’t go the way we “expected them to”. Trying to control every aspect of our environment is akin to trying to fit a square peg in a round hole…it doesn’t work!  One of the main problems with control is that the more we attempt to control situations, events and people the more out of control we usually end up feeling. Most of us are resistant to being controlled and will fight hard to keep it from happening. Ironically, those who try and control every aspect of their existence do so because they are frightened by the feeling of being out of control. There are a myriad of reasons for a fear of not being in control, including but not limited to childhood trauma. People who have an unhealthy need for control generally drift back and forth between emotions. When things are seemingly in their control they are on top of the world and when things are seemingly out of their control they feel angst and frustration. The only way we can possibly break this cycle and find inner peace is through the process of SURRENDER.

Time To Hoist The White Flag…

Relationships. We must STOP trying to “fix” the people in our lives that we have deemed “broken”. This is an avoidance tactic artfully designed to keep us from addressing our own issues. Most of us don’t see ourselves as broken and we resent the notion that someone else thinks they need to fix us!. We must release our expectation that others need to behave in a certain way. People behave at the intellectual and emotional level that serves their current belief system. Imposing our will on others does not foster goodwill nor does it cause them to change. Surrender means that we have adopted a live and let live mindset, the cornerstone of which is acceptance.

Addictions. Food, sex, drugs, alcohol and work are some of societies most popular addictions. Most addictions start out innocently enough but quickly become a problem. When we feel that we are losing control of a person or situation many of us resort to addictive behaviors. When I was younger, my need for control due to my fear of being out of control contributed to the creation of a significant drug and alcohol problem. Under the influence I felt in control, although in reality my life was a series of control dramas that ultimately resulted in an arrest for DUI at the age of thirty. Twenty two years later, I can attribute my amazing life to the decision I made to “hoist my white flag” and surrender. Addictions effect everyone around us and WE owe it to ourselves and those we love to “hoist our white flag” and seek a breakthrough to a healthier way of being.

Clutter. When most of us hear the word “clutter” we visualize an overflowing closet, a garage that has not hosted a vehicle in several years or a pile of unsightly junk lurking in the corner of our back yard. Many of us carry around an equally disturbing amount of mental clutter. We relive our past hurts, failures, ill advised choices, relationships and a host of other “clutter” that the Ego uses to remind us that we are “less than, hopeless losers”. Surrender means that we have made a conscious choice to release the material and emotional clutter that is holding us hostage. We recognize that it no longer serves us in any way, shape or form.

It is through surrender that we find peace. When we let go of our need to always be in control we tend to find that the world is running just fine and that we have actually created quite a bit of additional time and space to enjoy it!  As always, I look forward to your thoughts and feedback.