Two Lines That Sum up What I  Believe

Two Lines That Sum up What I Believe

I’m kind of embarrassed to admit this, but I’m a news junkie. There. It’s out.

I know, I know, the news is all fake, or toxic, or slanted, and designed to elicit strong emotions in us so we will get addicted and read more. Manipulative. Forcing us to form opinions.

I know all the arguments—we need to keep our minds clean and clear and we attract what we think about. And I am in total admiration of those who avoid the news entirely in order to remain unstressed and calm.

And yet I still turn to news hubs before doing anything constructive. It’s like a drug for sure. I love tuning in for the first time in the day. What’s new? What’s going on? Anything exciting?

Gives an initial high but then is unable to deliver on subsequent doses, like the first cigarette of the day.  Or so I’ve been told. I don’t smoke, drink, take drugs, or even coffee; but the news? Forget it. I’m so there.

And as a result I do spend quite a bit of my time dealing with unpleasant images in my head and feeling outraged over injustices I can never do anything about.

I have a friend who has detoxed from the news completely and doesn’t know what I’m talking about half the time. On the one hand I admire her discipline, but on the other I don’t really want to be like that. It seems like escaping.

You see, I don’t really like to think it’s an addiction despite what I said earlier. I prefer seeing it as a challenge. A challenge I don’t want to run away from. You can try to live in a bubble, but eventually something will burst it and you still have to deal with all those emotions.

What I want is this—to be able to scan the headlines, dip into an article here and there and remain calm and untroubled by it all. I want to be able to handle it. To be up to date, informed, but unperturbed.

I want to be in control.

I just want to be able to observe, and avoid taking sides or reacting. In other words, not play the game the media is playing, trying to manipulate my mind and emotions. I don’t have to. Then I’m free.

I don’t HAVE to form opinions about everything I read or listen to. I can remain neutral if I so choose.

This leads me to the title of this blog, ie Two Lines That Sum up What I Believe.

The other day I was re-reading the poem Desiderata by Max Ehrmann, and two lines grabbed my attention and literally made me gasp. It summed up perfectly what I deep down really believe about life, the news and world events, and all that other stuff that seems designed to keep me agitated. They are towards the end of the poem. Here they are:

“And whether or not it is clear to you,
 no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.”

There. That’s my opinion on all of it. I’m going to stick that line somewhere on my computer to remind me all is well and will develop in its own time without my help.

I will keep an interested eye on things, and act where I can, while remembering it’s all working itself out as it should. Unfolding.

I know that deep down, this is what I believe. This is a work in progress and I’m not there yet. But now I have a strong vision and intention of where and how I want to be.

What sums up your beliefs? Does this help you with something?

Let me hear from you. If you like this blog and would like more like it, or if there are other subjects around personal development you’d like to discuss, let me know. Please. I love getting feedback from you.


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Yes, I Mean No! How to Say No Assertively

Yes, I Mean No! How to Say No Assertively

Do you find it hard, if not impossible sometimes, to refuse a request from someone?

For instance, someone asks you to donate to a charity you don’t even believe in, or serve on committee you’re not interested in, or let’s say a nice person asks you out for the evening but you don’t want to go…and you still say OK? Ack!

“But I can’t say no!” I hear you cry. Yes, you can. Of course you can. You just want to know how to say it, without causing offense, disapproval, or upsetting someone.

The problem is you end up doing things that bring you no joy just in order to please someone else, and you’re frustrated with yourself for not saying what you meant. Also, you’re overwhelmed and don’t have time to do the things you want to do.

If only you had some simple rules and phrases that would allow you to speak your mind in a clear and courteous manner. I’ve got them.

Here are 4 artfully assertive rules and phrases to help you just say no in a way that won’t cause offense or put you in the doghouse.

Rule #1

They have the right to ask; you have the right to refuse.

Don’t get mad because they asked, and don’t make them feel bad for asking.

If you don’t say no, it’s your fault, not theirs for asking. Own it. It’s totally up to you to control your own time and energy.

Rule #2

Always thank them for asking and express appreciation for any polite request.

“Thanks for asking, but that’s not really my thing. I’m going to say ‘no’.”

“Thanks for asking, but that’s not going to work for me. I’m just too busy right now.”

“I really can’t—sorry; I’ve got too much on my plate right now.”

 Rule #3

Don’t over apologize, don’t over explain, don’t make excuses, and don’t get defensive.

They have the right to ask, but they don’t have the right to elaborate explanations or apologies. For the sake of politeness a short sorry, followed by a brief reason, (see above examples, Rule #2) will suffice. You don’t have to justify your decision.

The general rule that keeps me out of trouble is a short ‘sorry’, followed by a brief explanation, combined with a pleasant expression.


Rule #4

Zip it!

Once you’ve said no, don’t repeat yourself, or start apologizing, adding to your story, or yammering away trying to justify yourself. Just be quiet, hold your nerve, and carry on as before. If you have been courteous, then you have nothing to explain.

If you are not awkward, they won’t be. Trust me on this.

Remember these 4 rules next time you are asked for something you don’t feel comfortable with. Honor their right to ask and yours to refuse. Try out these phrases. All my sentences, rules and suggestions are tried and beta tested.

I think you will be delighted with how magically well they work.

If this subject is interesting and relevant to you, there is lots more to enjoy in my book, Artful Assertiveness Skills for Women, available online in Kindle and paperback; if you live in San Miguel, it’s for sale in the Biblioteca bookstore. This easy to read, clear, fun, and concise book could help you in ways you can’t even imagine.

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Can’t Learn Spanish? No Importa!

Can’t Learn Spanish? No Importa!

Struggling to learn Spanish and live in a Spanish speaking country? You’re not alone! Find out how I learned to deal with this assertively.

I’ve lived here for a decade and—thanks for asking— my Spanish is still pretty awful. But my pretty awful Spanish has taught me invaluable lessons in assertiveness that have generated into every aspect of my life. Let me elaborate.

Here in Mexico, especially in the ex-pat community, it’s a big deal how well you know and speak Spanish. It’s the ultimate status symbol. Over the years I’ve had many snide comments directed my way implying I’m either stupid, lazy, arrogant, or ‘just don’t care’ because I haven’t mastered the language. Oh, and don’t mention politically incorrect. I know, I know!

In the past I fell into the big huge bear trap of explaining and defending myself—“Oh I’ve really tried! I’ve had a dozen tutors! I’ve gone to all the classes! I guess I’m just too old, or just haven’t found the right teaching method, blah, blah, blah. I’m not stupid! I’ve got a degree. Something is just really strange about this, blah, blah, blah.”

This never felt good to me, and it never convinced anyone about anything. No one ever validated me or gave me the approval I was so desperately seeking.

This taught me a huge life lesson.

People will judge you. That’s what they do.

Substitute anything for not learning Spanish: I can’t lose weight, I can’t cook, my house is untidy, we haven’t decorated yet, I can’t do this, I haven’t done that, etc.

I repeat: People will judge you. That’s what they do. Human beings are judging machines. We all judge everybody, all the time, for everything. You can’t stop that so don’t try. You’re wasting your energy.

But you don’t have to fuel it either. Groveling, apologizing, explaining, or justifying fuels judgment, it doesn’t get rid of it. As long as we crave or expect approval from others we’re sunk—it won’t come. So stop trying to get it.

I realized I was playing either the Mouse or the Dragon about Spanish—

I would cringe and crave approval and forgiveness for being such a dunce, or I would get mad. How dare you look down on me! I’ve tried, darn it! I mean, really tried! Neither reaction gave me the elusive result I wanted.

Now I’ve learned to laugh at it. I no longer give explanations to anyone. I only owe them to myself. When it’s time for me to learn Spanish, I guess I will. If that never happens, I guess it won’t. My reasons are mine, not anyone else’s and I don’t owe anyone an apology.

So when anyone criticizes me about anything these days, I think, “That’s interesting. I wonder if they’re right?” I might even conclude they are in which case I say, “Agree! You’re right!” And then I shut up.

I take criticism into account (after all I might learn from it), and then choose my response, if any, rather than reacting emotionally. I avoid being arrogant, and I avoid being a victim.

You can’t imagine how liberating this is.

Excerpt from my upcoming book How to be Artfully Assertive: Skills for Women, which will be available on kindle and in paperback soon, 2017.